5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs a question of a non-party character. Will he kindly tell us how matters stand regarding the gift of the late Government- confirmed, I understand, by this Government - to the Palace of Peace at The Hague?
– I have not had time to look through the document, but I understand that it was about February that the suggestion that Australia should take part in the presentation of gifts by the countries of the world to the Palace of Peace at The Hague was acted on by the honorable member for Barrier. The High Commissioner was asked to inquire as to what form, having regard to the presentations of other countries, the Australian gift should take; and, in view of his answer, it was decided to present an office bureau table and a silver ink-stand. The silver for the ink-stand - about 270 ounces - was presented by the Broken Hill Mining Managers’ Association, doubtless as the result of a visit of the honorable member to the Barrier, and Australian wood of very fine quality has been obtained for the bureau table; but I have been informed by the Art Advisory Board that it will take some time to finish this article of furniture. In due time the gift will be presented, and will symbolize the hope of the Australian people that the meek shall in due course come into their inheritance of the earth.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he will make representation to the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria, with a view to seeing if it is not possible to remove the small-pox barrier, so that we can attend the races in Sydney next month ?
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question in regard to an old-age pensioner who, according to information I have received to-day, has had his pension reduced from 8s. to 3s. 3d., on the ground that his wife has some property. This pensioner has been living apart from his wife for nine years; and I should like to know, from the Treasurer, whether he can do anything in a case of that kind - in a case where there is enmity between the husband and wife, and the latter will do nothing to assist the husband ?
– If the honorable member will let me have the particulars in writing, or in any other way, I shall be glad to lay the case before the Commissioner. The payment of old-age pensions is governed by Statute; and a man and his wife are supposed to be equally possessed of property unless they are judicially separated or divorced. If the honorable member will give me the particulars, I shall let him have areply as soon as possible.
– I was unable to gather, from the answer given yesterday by the Prime Minister to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, what action the Government propose to take in regard to a motion to be moved by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to discuss the position of the AttorneyGeneral in relation to the Marconi Company. The subject is one of first interest. It was at the suggestion of the AttorneyGeneral
– The honorable member may not make a speech.
– I wish to know, definitely, from the Prime Minister, what action it is proposed to take in connexion with the motion to which I refer? The desire of the Opposition is to have the motion brought on soon, and dealt with in one sitting.
– I should like to be made aware of the terms of the proposed motion, and of all details connected with it. The matter is a public one; and if the honorable member will let me know exactly what he proposes to do, I shall give an answer to his question.
– I have the terms of the motion here. If the honorable member desires me to do so, I shall read them, or he may read them privately.
– It is not in order to make a statement under the guise of asking a question. A statement may be made only by the leave of the House.
– The Prime Minister asked for this information.
– That does not alter the case. The standing order permits of the asking of questions, but the statements accompanying such questions may not be more than are necessary to explain them.
– We are willing to facilitate public business. The Prime Minister has said that, until he is aware of what we propose to do, and the terms in which the motion is to be moved, he cannot give an answer to my question.
– I wish to know, too, what the Opposition is going to do in regard to the no-confidence debate ?
– It is not in order to address a question to a private member unless he is in charge of a Bill, or of some other public matter connected with the business on the notice-paper, in which case the question must relate to that business. The present proceedings are altogether irregular.
– What I wish to know from the Prime Minister is whether we are to understand that the opportunity to be given for discussing the motion to which I have referred depends entirely upon our behaviour ? If that is to be so, I shall, I hope, demean myself as may be proper under the circumstances; but, as this is a free Parliament, I consider myself entitled to know when the Prime Minister proposes to provide an opportunity for the discussion of the motion.
– I have, during the last few weeks, been painfully aware that this is a free Parliament. We are now in the fourth week of the noconfidence debate.
– That observation is quite irrelevant.
– The subject of the proposed motion to which the honorable member has referred has already been discussed in this Chamber. I wish to know exactly when these proceedings will end; and if honorable members opposite can give me any indication as to that, I shall be glad to make an arrangement with them.
– At first the Prime Minister only wished to know the terms of the motion, but now he desires something else.
– The honorable member is quite incorrect.
– The intention of the Opposition is to terminate this debate as quickly as possible.
– But what does that mean? I was told that last Thursday.
– The honorable gentleman was told that we would carry on the debate until we had finished.
– Then honorable members may carry on until they have finished.
– The Prime Minister was told that on Friday, when he wished to go away to make that speech, while we were prepared to remain and attend to the business of the country.
– I desire to give notice of motion for to-morrow. The Prime Minister has up to now refused to make any definite statement-
– Is this the notice of motion ?
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has the right to give notice of motion, but not to make a speech in so doing.
– I know that I am disorderly in replying to an interjection by the student from Oxford. I desire to give notice that to-morrow I shall move -
That, in the opinion of this House, Ministers of the Crown should not violate the code of rules of positive obligation laid down by the British Prime Minister (Mr. Asquith), which read -
Firstly - That Ministers ought not to enter into any transaction whereby their private pecuniary interest may even conceivably come into conflict with their public duty;
Secondly - That no Minister ought to accept any kind of favour from persons who are in negotiation with or seeking to enter into contractual or pecuniary relations with the Government; and that the action of the Attorney-General, the Hon. W. H. Irvine, in determining to hold a retaining fee from the Marconi Company, now in litigation with the Commonwealth Government, has violated the rules of conduct here laid down, and is detrimental to the best interests of the Commonwealth.
I ask, Mr. Speaker, that this motion be put upon the paper for to-morrow, and the Prime Minister can say whether or not it will be put down under Government business.
– That notice of motion is 90 per cent. Asquith and 10 per cent. Frazer !
– It is 90 per cent. Frazer, 10 per cent. Asquith, and 100 per cent. against Irvine.
– May I make a remark ?
– Only by leave of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the Prime Minister have leave to make a statement?
– Conditionally that there is an opportunity for replying.
– Leave is withheld. With regard to the request that the notice of motion just given shall be placed upon the business paper for to-morrow, that is for the House to decide; but it cannot precede the Address-in-Reply, unless as an amendment thereto. I call attention to the Standing Orders, which distinctly state, as I have already pointed out on a former occasion, that no business, except of a purely formal character, can be transacted until the Address-in-Reply has been adopted.
– Then, by your courtesy, Mr. Speaker, I desire to know whether the Prime Minister is prepared to give the notice of motion precedence at the conclusion of the present censure debate, having regard to the request of the Attorney-General that we should test his position in the matter of his retaining a fee from the Marconi Company, which is now in litigation against the Commonwealth ?
– I shall consider it, Mr. Speaker.
– I now desire, Mr. Speaker, to ask you a question. The Prime Minister states that he will consider whether or not he will comply with my request; and, incidentally, I might give him the assurance that he will consider it.
– Why be so rude ? There is no occasion for rudeness.
– Am I rude?
– Yes, very, in my opinion.
– It is rather good to hear remarks about rudeness from a gentleman who said, “ If you do not send political supporters you cannot expect political favours.”
– Order !
– When did I say that?
– Order ! Will the honorable member for Kalgoorlie resume his seat? When the honorable member rose, he stated his intention to ask me a question. So far he has not done so. This discussion is absolutely irregular; and I draw the attention of honorable members once more to the fact that the business of the House should be conducted in a decorous and orderly manner. That, however, is impossible if honorable members continually violate the Standing Orders. It is my business, as presiding officer by will of the House, to see that the proper procedure is followed ; and I must ask honorable members to discontinue these irregular practices, and conduct the business in accordance with our rules and forms.
– I submit, Mr. Speaker, that I should be rude if I refused to reply to a question put to me by a right honorable gentleman on the Ministerial bench.
– Such conversations across the chamber are highly irregular.
– What I wish to know particularly, in view of the unsatisfactory answer given by the Prime Minister to the Acting Leader of the Opposition, is, what will happen to this motion of which I have given notice?
– The honorable member has given notice of motion, and he himself can decide on what day he desires that notice of motion to come on.
– I mentioned to-morrow.
– In that case the notice of motion will go amongst the ordinary notices, and take its place in rotation on the business-paper, unless by some special decision of the House it is given precedence over any other motion. That can be done only by order of the House itself.
– Do I understand that under these circumstances the businesspaper for to-morrow will include this notice of motion in the order in which it is received ?
– It will be set down in the usual order upon the businesspaper, unless the House directs otherwise.
– May I explain. I should like to say, as my honorable friends opposite appear to be under the misconception that I have definitely declined to do anything with this motion, that such is not the case.
– The Prime Minister is absolutely afraid of it, and he knows it..
Mr. GLYNN laid upon the table the following paper : -
Northern Territory -
Ordinance of 1913 - No. 7 - Crown lands.
Debate resumed from 2nd September (vide page 783), 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 wish, first of all, to refer to the statement of the honorable member for Calare last evening that the Liberal Caucus, or the conference of Liberal delegates, was not held in private. The honorable member said that he had been down to the Independent Hall, and was allowed to be present at the proceedings. Surely he does not contend that all the proceedings of the Liberal Conference were open to the public. Inasmuch as it is a copy of the Labour Conference, it is carried out in the same way. The proceedings during a portion of the time are open to the public, just as ours are.
But when the Liberal delegates meet in Committee, they, exclude the press; and I can hardly think that the honorable member for Calare is so simple as to believe that the delegates throughout the whole time carried on their proceedings in public. I draw his attention to a report published in the Melbourne Aye on the 30th- August, headed, “ Liberal Union Conference; Yesterday’s Proceedings; Mr. D. Gordon Elected President.” The report states -
Yesterday’s deliberations at the annual InterState Conference of the Australian Liberal Union were conducted in private. Mr. David Gordon was elected President.
If the honorable member turns to the Melbourne Herald of 29th August, he will see the heading “Liberal Union; Annual Conference.” After some preliminary observations, the report says, ‘ The proceedings were conducted in private.” Although our Triennial Labour Conferences are held mostly in private, a report of the proceedings is published. I ask the members of the Capitalist party opposite whether there is going to be any report of the proceedings of the conference recently held at the Independent Hall? Honorable members opposite gained a certain amount of support from the misstatement published throughout Australia that our proceedings at these conferences, at which the programme is drawn up, are held absolutely in private, whilst the Liberal conferences, or, as I prefer to call them, the Capitalist conferences, are held in public. It is well, therefore, that the position should be explained.
There is one advantage, Mr. Speaker, about a debate on the Address-in-Reply, and that is that one may speak about anything without being pulled up by you, sir, with the question, “ Will the honorable member be good enough to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?” It is possible, therefore, that my remarks may be of a somewhat discursive character.
First of all, I would say that this Australian National party, called the Labour party, deserved a better fate at the last elections. We thought that we should still continue to occupy the
Treasury bench. It must be admitted that honorable members opposite thought so too. We had done good work. We had a splendid political record. I invite honorable members to consider what that record is. First of all, when we were occupying positions on the Ministerial side, we had sufficient support in the Federal Parliament to enable us to carry out the plank in our platform in favour of the abolition of black slavery in Queensland. We did that with the aid of Mr. Deakin, Mr. Isaacs, Sir William Lyne, Charles Cameron Kingston, and other democratic Protectionists, who also enabled us to carry out the policy of this party of absolutely prohibiting the capitalists from introducing into Australia Chinese, Japanese, Javanese, or any similar Asiatic labour. We were able, in spite of the opposition of Sir George Reid, to carry out the policy of white labour on the mail boats.
– In spite of the honorable member for Parkes, also.
– In spite of the honorable member for Parkes, “ the beauteous Bruce,” we were able to carry out that policy. We have all heard of “ the Last of the Mohicans.” My honorable friend is, I think, the last of the Tories of the old school.
– Not quite. There is also the Attorney-General.
– There is a new party in politics now, which I would call the Capitalists’ party pure and simple. We were able for the first time in Australian history to pass a law providing that there should be a minimum wage of £110 per annum for all persons over the age of twenty-one who had been in the Public Service three years. In 1901, when this law was passed, there were in the postoffice in New South Wales 203 men between thirty and forty years of age who were receiving only 30s. per week. Some of them were married men. As the Prime Minister was Postmaster-General in New South Wales, he will doubtless remember that fact.
– There were some who had been over twenty years in the service, and who were receiving only 28s. per week.
– What the honorable member for Grey says is, I believe, true. For the first time in history, we decided that there should be equal pay for equal work, whether it was done by men or women. To show what the so-called Liberal party, or, as I call it, the Capitalists’ party, would do - to prove that they would destroy that minimum wage principle if they could - I invite attention to the fact that in Queensland during last month a proposal that there should be a minimum wage in the Public Service, similar to that in the Commonwealth service, was defeated by them.
– The minimum wage does not obtain in any State Public Service yet.
– We established, or assisted to establish, a citizens defence force and compulsory training. It is true that we had to get the assistance of others to do that; but the principle was embodied in the statute-book, in spite of the opposition of the present Prime Minister, who with voice and pen objected to compulsory training. It should be remembered that the Sydney Daily Telegraph, at the time of the consummation of the Fusion and the formation of the Capitalists’ party pure and simple, said that this abandonment of opposition to compulsory training was part of the price which the honorable gentleman paid for the Fusion. We assisted to establish an Australian Navy; and it is to our credit that as soon as we obtained power we repealed the present Treasurer’s notorious Loan Act - his proposal to borrow £3,500,000, to be repaid some time in the future, for the construction of an Australian Navy. We laid down the principle that the Navy should be constructed out of revenue ; and I must say that wherever I spoke in Queensland I found that the public approved of our action. We also passed the Federal land tax, which the present Prime Minister said was “ unjust, unfair, and inequitable, the only purpose of it being revenge.” The honorable member for Flinders said it was “ an extreme, hurtful, cruel, and oppressive measure.” The land tax has operated in a threefold manner. First, it has compelled some of the large landholders to sell or subdivide their estates in order to escape the tax ; secondly, it has prevented the aggregation of large estates, as we have it on the authority of the Land Tax Commissioner; thirdly, it is supplying about £1,300,000 to the Commonwealth revenue every year. As was asked last night by the honorable member for Bourke, in his very eloquent speech, why is it that the Capitalist party opposite do not propose to repeal the land tax ? Is it that they are hoping for the time when they will get a sufficient majority in both Houses to repeal the tax?
Then there is the Commonwealth Bank, which had the opposition of the Prime Minister, and almost every other member of the Capitalist party, which was then sitting on this side of the House. It is quite true that the bank is not doing all that was expected of it by the men who first advocated the establishment of a National Bank. There may be reasons with which we are unacquainted, and we can only hope that in the future the bank will realize some of the expectations of honorable members on this side.
– The States ought to be in with us.
– Certainly !
– The States are all against us.
– I know that they are now, but we have to consider to what extent we were to blame in that matter. The proposal put forward by the honorable member for Darwin was that the States should be partners with the Commonwealth; and I am very sorry that a proposal which was advanced by myself, that the States should be allowed representation on an advisory board, and to share in anyprofits of the bank, provided that they gave the bank all their business, was not embodied in the Commonwealth Bank Bill. However, there is no doubt that, even at the present time, the Commonwealth Bank is having the effect of keeping down the rate of interest which borrowers have to pay. In the absence of the bank, with money as dear as it is all over the world, without a doubt, farmers and business men, and others, who want accommodation, would have to pay a great deal more interest than they now pay. There is another advantage derived from the Commonwealth Bank. In Victoria, persons who placed their little savings in the Savings Bank prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank could not get any interest on their deposits above the sum of £250; while in Queensland interest was only allowed on sums up to £200. Since the Commonwealth Bank has entered into competition with the State Savings Banks, the sum on which a depositor can obtain interest has been raised in Victoria to £350, in Queensland to £500, and in South Australia to £350.
– The rate of interest is higher, too.
– It is owing to the competition.
– Exactly; and that is what I am trying to point out. One advantage of the Commonwealth Bank, so far, has been to improve the position of small depositors in Savings Banks.
– It has also been the means of knocking out the charge for keeping current accounts.
– Hear, hear ! I do not pay anything now to the bank for keeping my current account.
– That is another advantage conferred by the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank. The charge which was formerly made for keeping a current account has been abolished in some cases, and lowered in others.
There was another piece of national legislation brought forward by the Australian National party, and that was the measure to establish an Australian note issue. This party deserves the credit of that measure, notwithstanding the statement of the present Treasurer that it was amongst his papers when he left office some years ago. We do get credit from the opposing press sometimes, and I am very glad to embody in Hansard this statement from the Melbourne Age -
It stands to the credit of Labour that it was the first to utilize the public credit, and to reap the profit of it instead of leaving that profit to others. This money is now invested and bearing interest for the people instead of going into the coffers of the banks.
I divide our legislation into two classes, namely, business legislation, to which I have been referring; and social, or humanitarian legislation - like the invalid and old-age pensions and the pension for the blind. Another piece of national legislation was the taking over of the Northern Territory and the building of the transcontinental railway. Indeed, all the legislation which this party was able to pass when it sat on the other side of the House was of a national character. Even the poor little postage stamp had a national bearing. The idea of selecting the kangaroo for such a distinction was, I take it, with the view of encouraging Australian sentiment, and to induce people to see the justice of the White
Australian legislation. The kangaroo stamp is only a flimsy piece of gummed paper, but it still means a very greatdeal to the Australians. The PostmasterGeneral, giving way to what he considered bo be public opinion, has adopted another design ; but I look forward to the time when we shall not be so singular in adhering to one particular die, but will place on our postage stamps anything which is calculated to make Australians take a pride in their country. I even hope for the time to come when the photographs of some Australian statesmen, or of persons who have done good to their country in other walks of life, will appear on our postage stamps. Take Farrer, for example, who produced the Federation wheat. Why should not his features be made familiar to the Australian public by means of a postage stamp ?
We have succeeded very well as a party, considering that we have had a political career of only about twenty years. I think that we should have succeeded to a greater extent but for the desertions from our ranks. Some very capable men have left our party and joined the ranks of our political enemies. I sometimes wonder to what extent the abuse to which we are subjected as a party and individually has been responsible for men leaving our ranks. I recollect the occasion when the leader of the Labour party in Queensland was described by a gentleman who occupies a very high position in Australia today as “ the associate of thieves.” When he placed his coat and hat on the rack in the Legislative halls of that State, the whole of the other members of the Legislature took their coats and hats away. A Queensland politician - Mr. Plunkettwho has just passed away, also designated the Queensland Labour party as the “dingoes of civilization.”
– The Prime Minister said they were that yesterday.
– The Prime Minister himself stated that we were like a lot of dingoes. Another honorable member opposite has implied that we are the associates of tugs, thugs, spielers, whisperers, and ticktackers. The honorable member for Dampier, too, has spoken of the “thieves’ gallery “ in the Trades Hall. He has stated that that is the term by which members of that organization themselves describe it. My friend, the honorable member for Fremantle, has taken the trouble to wire to the secretary of the Trades Hall, and I learn that there is absolutely no truth in the statement that there is any place in that building known as the “ thieves’ gallery.”
The fact that the Labour party is abused collectively and individually has, I think, had something to do with the desertion from our party of some most capable men. They were not prepared to carry the burden of their association with the Labour party. No doubt they found that there was a certain social ostracism connected with it, and they were not prepared to tolerate it. Possibly they thought that they would be more comfortable in other spheres. Among these deserters is an ex-Queensland Premier and one or two other Ministers of the Crown. Quite recently Mr. Beeby, in New South Wales, severed his connexion with our party. But the most notorious desertion from our ranks is that of a man to whose history I would like briefly to refer. .
This gentleman was born in Staffordshire, in the Black Country, England. Honorable members know what a reputation the Black Country has, because it is there that the Cradley Heath chain-makers eke out an existence. When a lad of ten years of age, he went to work in a mine there. I ask honorable members who are fathers to reflect how they would like a son of their own, at that age, to enter a mine and to do the work which was required of lads forty years ago. The lad to whom I refer was the present Prime Minister. No doubt he was then not a very robust boy. Possibly he was of very delicate constitution, certainly he was a very intelligent lad - one who probably had a brow like the snowflakes and roses in his cheeks. At ten years of age he was compelled to work from ten to thirteen hours a day in a mine, never seeing the sun except on Sundays, subject to all kinds of dangers, noxious gases, draughts, and, perhaps, falling rocks. He laboured thus in the Black Country until he was twenty-four years of age. More than any man in this House, therefore, he ought to know what the working classes in the mines of the Old Country have to suffer, and what the miners in Australia have to endure. At this stage, perhaps, I may be pardoned for reading an extract from the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 1891- an extract which I excised from that journal at the time.
In that year there were several Labour members elected to the New South Wales Parliament, and a short history of each of them was published in the organ which I have mentioned. The extract referring to the present Prime Minister reads -
, senior member for Hartley, was born in North Staffordshire (in one of the coal-mining districts) in December, i860. He began work in the pits at the early age of 10, and worked as a coal miner until about five years ago, when he came to New South Wales. After lan-ding he went at once to Lithgow, and started in one of the local pits. He soon won the respect and acquired the confidence of the men there, and was elected general secretary to the Western Miners Association in January, 1889. He has held that position ever since, and has generally been recognised as one of the most intelligent men amongst the trade unionists of New South Wales. Mr. Cook has represented the Western miners at various conferences in connexion with Labour. In politics he was identified first with Protection, but, like many others in the Hartley district, was won over from that policy by the spread of the Georgian movement, and during the last two years has occupied a leading position in the Lithgow Single Tax League.
Upon arriving in New South Wales at twenty-four years of age he straightaway entered one of the coal mines at Lithgow. He was not there very long before he gained the confidence of his associates, who decided to appoint him check weighman - really a detective, whose duty it was to see that the men were not robbed by some of the “ rapacious coal-owners,” as he himself has described them. The miners paid his wages.
When the political Labour movement started in New South Wales, at the invitation of the daily press of the time, which objected to men exercising their right to strike, Mr. Joseph Cook was selected as a Labour candidate for the representation of the district of Hartley. When it was suggested that a Labour candidate should enter the field, I can well imagine some of the old miners asking whether the individual who was to bear their standard was likely to prove true to them. When one looks through the history of the political Labour movement, one finds that there are dozens of individuals who have not proved true to those who were responsible for their election to Parliament. Some of the old hands, I dare say, asked if Mr. Cook was likely to prove true to them, and they gave him the benefit of the doubt. In those days the honorable member was just as active in his champion- ship of the Labour cause as he now is in defending the capitalists. He believed then in an income tax ; he believed in taxing what he called the “lazy, idle, welloff man more than the busy active man.” If honorable members have any doubt as to the correctness of that statement, I refer them to the New South Wales Hansard of 2nd February, 1893. The honorable gentleman also believed in “ forcing the locked-up lands into productive use.” He used to say then, as reported in the New South Wales Hansard of 1st November, 1893, that “the land grabbers and land speculators have this country by the throat,” and he therefore desired the imposition of “a good stiff land tax.” At that time he was also a trade unionist, declaring, as reported in the New South Wales Hansard of 3rd September, 1891, that they wanted more unionists on the magisterial bench. He said -
I hold that the officials of any union are generally its best executive officers . . . and I hold that they are the men we want on the bench.
To-day he tells the employers that they “ want to be left alone,” and that the law should not interfere with them. Speaking on a Coal Mines Bill introduced in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly about this time, the present Prime Minister said -
We say there is no such thing as unrestricted individual liberty in the present day, as far as economic conditions are concerned. . . We want to bring legislative pressure to bear, not for the purpose of injuring anybody, but for the purpose of preventing one or two rapacious ownerstaking advantage of the men in this way.
The “ way “ referred to was that of compelling men to work eleven and twelve hours a day. The honorable member was also, in those days, a believer in preference to unionists. Speaking on the Medical Bill in the New South Wales Assembly, he said -
I should like to remark that this is essentially a trades union Bill of a very pronounced type, and any man who votes in favour of it must for ever hold his peace about freedom of contract. The Bill deals a deliberate blow at that very principle which has been urged so much in connexion with our mining and commercial disputes.
Mr. Cann, a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, interjected, “ It protects the doctors from blacklegs,” and Mr. Cook replied -
Exactly. It is a Bill to knock out the medical blackleg.
This statement is reported in the New South Wales Hansard of 6th October, 1892.
– Was that statement made by the same ‘ ‘ Joe Cook ‘ ‘ who is now in this House?
– Physically, he appears to be the same man, but mentally I have my doubts on the subject. The AttorneyGeneral has had something to say about unions, and I am very glad to find that he is coming on. I am hopeful that some honorable members opposite, who entered this House with very erroneous ideas about members of the Labour party and our political programme, will learn something, and grow to believe, as the AttorneyGeneral apparently now does, that it is necessary to our civilization for trade unionists to increase in number and strength, and that we want unionism in almost every occupation throughout the community.
To return to the present Prime Minister, I would point out that at the time to which I have been referring Sir George Reid, who was a very intelligent and canny politician, was Premier of New South Wales, and that he adopted a practice which Mr. Cann, the former member for Nepean, tells me has long been in vogue in the Old Country. That practice is to try to tempt leaders of the Labour party in politics, or leaders of the miners and the factory workers, to give up the cause of their fellow workers and join the Capitalist party. It is quite a common thing, Mr. Cann tells me, for a miner who exhibits any special intelligence or ability to voice the cause ofhis fellow workmen, who may be almost inarticulate, to be approached by the coal owners with the suggestion that it would be better for him to give up his present position and take that of a shift boss.
– The same tiling is done here.
– I suppose that this practice, which I am told is common in England, is not peculiar to the Old Country. At all events, Sir George Reid invited Mr. Joseph Cook to join his Ministry. The invitation was accepted. The honorable member became PostmasterGeneral, and it was not long before the present Prime Minister left the Labour party and joined that of the capitalists. I invite honorable members to say whether there is, at present, any public speaker in Australia who has had such bitter things to say about the members of this party as he has had. I do not believe that there is a member of the Liberal party - who has been reared, so to speak, in the ranks of the capitalists - who has it in his heart to say the bitter things that the Prime Minister says about the men who are endeavouring to improve the lot of the people who helped him into Parliament, and whom he has deserted.
The Prime Minister, however, is welcome to his position. He is an ambitious man, and probably left the Labour party because at that time he could see no possible chance of ever realizing his ambition. He is welcome to his position, bub I do not believe that he feels very comfortable in it. He occupies it only at the will of the Capitalist party, and if they dared they would make a change. We know that he only won his position by one vote in the Caucus held some time ago to elect a leader, and it was understood at the time that that decision was to be open to revision. Having won at the polls, however, the Capitalist party dare not shift him now, although they may attempt to do so at some time or other. The Prime Minister probably entertained the idea held by a Premier of Queensland, who was a former member of our party, that if he could only get into power he would be able to introduce some reforms. The party opposite, however, will never allow him to introduce any reform.
– Why do not the Labour party give us a chance ?
– There are on the Government side of the House some who, had they stuck to Sir William Lyne’s little party, might have been able to do some good, but they have gone over, body and soul, to the Capitalist party, and have to do what the majority think fit. That being so, we need not look for reform from the present Capitalist party. Although we have been deserted by some very capable men, who are now our most bitter opponents, we have every reason to be pleased with the success of the party. At the last election the Capitalist party opposite polled 921,361 votes, the Labour party 912,049 votes, and the Independents 49,183 votes, the majority obtained by the Capitalist party being only 9,312 votes.
– Those figures make no allowance for the unopposed return of the Labour members who represent Hindmarsh and Kalgoorlie.
– We have to congratulate ourselves that no fewer than 912,049 persons in Australia voted for a party with this programme -
And with the following platform -
We need not despair because we suffered a reverse on the 31st May last, seeing that 912,049 persons in Australia, despite the abuse of the opposing press, recorded their votes for a party of our advanced character.
I come now to a contentious subject - immigration. Our friends opposite, the Capitalist party, want immigrants to come to this country. I never have on any occasion, no matter what public opinion was in Australia, receded one inch from the stand that we should not bring into this country immigrants to lower the rates of wages and the standard of comfort of Australians. I have gone so far as to oppose in this House the expenditure of money by the Labour Government on advertising Australia, because I did not think that that was necessary. I believe that the advertisements mislead people in the Old Country, and that, if Australia is properly governed, people will come here without being attracted by special advertisements. The only immigration that we can absorb at the present time is the immigration of farmers and farm labourers. When the Minister of Home Affairs refers to the Labour Government of New South Wales as bringing immigrants into Australia, my reply is that that Government apparently must do what it is doing because there has been created the public opinion that we must, for the purposes of our defence, introduce population, and Ministers fear that if they do not bow be- fore this public opinion, they may not have the opportunity to carry out Labour legislation, and may be relegated to the Opposition bench. I have never felt it necessary to do what they are doing. I think that we should not bring immigrants into Australia in the indiscriminate manner now being adopted. Agents are appointed in England, and are paid from £1 to £2 per head for every immigrant sent out. That is a wrong system. What do the agents care about the fate of the men sent? Not long ago 300 men were brought out to work on the North Coast line that is being constructed in Queensland, but I had it on very good authority a few weeks ago that not one of those immigrants was at work on the line at the end of three months, all having gone into the towns and cities. Honorable members opposite may individually dislike to know of these things, but the Capitalist party, which furnishes the major portion of the Liberal party’s funds, wants to get immigrants into the country at any cost, to lower the standard of living and comfort, to break up trade unionism, and particularly to destroy the political Labour movement. I feel firmly convinced that those are their objects. But I would point out to the honorable member for Riverina, who asks to be allowed “to shear his sheep in peace,” and who is in favour of this system of immigration-
– No; I have objected to it on the platform. I said that we should bring out none but agriculturists.
– Then I apologize to the honorable member. It is extremely difficult to get agricultural labourers to come to Australia from the Old Country. There are 13,000,000 acres of land in the Old Country which are uncultivated, being taken up in deer parks, forests, and the private grounds of wealthy American millionaires and England’s old nobility. Farmers have been driven off their farms, and the area of land under cultivation has been decreasing for a very long time. I do not think that farmers are to be got in the Old Country to come to Australia, except in very small numbers. Those who come here are mostly city dwellers. Their conditions at Home are, no doubt, deplorable, but some, when they get here, are like the unfortunate grocer’s assistant who, coming to Victoria, went on to a farm, and knowing nothing about the work, could not give satisfaction to his employer, so that finally he committed suicide. I believe that the suicide rate has increased throughout Australia greatly since the boom in immigration commenced. The only sound method to adopt in regard to immigration is this: If we spend money on immigration, we should satisfy ourselves, first, that there is work for immigrants, and the immigrants should be nominated by friends and relatives willing to sign an agreement promising to provide for them for at least a month after arrival. It is wrong to bring people to this country and cast them adrift in our big cities without friends and employment.
The President of the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney, Mr. H. E. Pratten, who, no doubt, is in favour of our immigration policy, is complaining that Sydney is losing about £120,000 a day because of the small-pox scare.
– By reason of the fallingoff in trade. I entirely agree with the honorable member for East Sydney that the spread of disease is largely due to overcrowding.
– Nineteen persons have been found living in a four-roomed house.
– Hundreds of thousands of persons have been brought into Australia recently, and they are not going on to the land. There are 90,000,000 acres of unoccupied land to which they could go if they had the necessary knowledge and capital, and were willing to live at a distance from railway lines; but, knowing nothing about land matters, they remain in the big cities. Dr. Paton, whose name has been very prominent of late, says that the most important factor in the spreading of small-pox in Sydney is overcrowding, and that the people are herded together like pigs. Inquiries from sanitary inspectors have revealed the fact that four families are frequently to be found occupying one cottage, and that four or five beds in a room is a common discovery. One of them stated that he had found that two married couples and a girl were sleeping in the same room, which was also their living room. One family was found crammed into a little shed in a back yard, the shed half filled with palings and packing cases, and in a dirty condition. Professor R. F. Irvine, of the Sydney University, who was appointed a Royal Commissioner to inquire into the housing of workmen, has reported that many areas in Redfern, Surry Hills, and Woolloomooloo are greatly overhoused. One block in Redfern, containing an area of three-quarters of an acre, has thirty-seven houses on it, an average of nearly fifty houses to the acre. I ask honorable members who have their quarter-acre blocks and their bit of ground for a tennis court, to think of such overcrowding. The Capitalistic party, who are represented by our friends opposite, are largely responsible for this state of affairs; and there is very little difference in Victoria. We are told that disgraceful conditions are to be found in the suburb of Brunswick; that three families have been found living in one house, with seven persons in three rooms, two adults and two children in a single room, and a mother and son in a stable that had been converted into a dwelling. Hundreds and thousands of immigrants have been introduced by the Capitalistic party; and landlords in the big cities and suburbs have raised rents to an enormous extent.
– Does the honorable member not know that the Labour- party have been in charge in New South Wales for the last three years ?
– The Assistant Minister made the same interjection the other day, and I have explained the position of the State Government. The capitalists and my friends opposite have created such a public opinion that public men - we might as well admit it - are afraid to declare that they are opposed to excessive immigration.
– There are men on this side who are not afraid to say so.
– I am glad to hear it. It is asserted that it is necessary to fill our waste spaces; and the party who have all along been opposed to high wages, trade unions, political labour parties, and so forth, are responsible for creating that public opinion which has resulted in large immigration. Landlords have seized the opportunity to raise rents from 8s. to 16s., from 15s. to£1, and so forth, with the result that people who can afford only the smaller sums have to join with others and occupy one house. We thus have the extraordinary spectacle of four or five families living in one dwelling in Sydney ; and there is no doubt that the conditions are largely responsible for the spread of small-pox.
I have pointed out before that capitalists are in favour of spending public money on immigration in the hope that wages may thereby be reduced ; but I warn those capitalists that disease is no respecter of persons, and that their children are not secure. We can remember, some time ago, when one of the Royal family was struck down by typhoid - a disease which is the outcome of insanitary conditions; and it is quite possible that the children of some of our capitalistic friends in Sydney may contract small-pox. Further, I point out to the capitalists who are now trying to prevent reforms, which would have the effect of protecting the children of the working classes, that, in all probability, if their children do not occupy the slums, it is quite possible their children’s children may in the future. There is an old adage “ three generations from shirt-sleeves to shirt-sleeves,” the suggestion being that, while a man may make money, his children will spend it, and his grandchildren will have to go to work. Some of the capitalists in Australia think that by saving money they are protecting their children; but, in my opinion, the best protection is to see that other people’s children are protected.
– The Scriptures tell us that, without the honorable member doing so.
– The honorable member evidently does not pay much attention to the Scriptures, because he says, “ All we wish is to shear our sheep in peace.” That is the sentiment which animated the coal-owners in days gone by in the Old Country, who opposed all legislation having for its object the protection of child labour, and declared that all they desired was to be allowed to work their mines in peace.
– We are now shearing under an award.
– The Pastoralists’ Associations have, in the past, done everything possible to break down unionism and prevent legislation which had for its object the establishment of a Court in which awards might be given. While on the question of immigration, let me say that the trade unions of Australia have reported that there were 17,854 men out of employment during last quarter, and I see that in Victoria the increase in unemployment is general. Why should we spend a lot of money to bring to Australia men for whom there is no employment? I sincerely hope that whatever Government is in power will take the question of immigration into very serious consideration and refuse to bring people here unless there is some attempt to provide for them when they arrive.
– The honorable member supported the vote for immigration last year.
– The honorable member is wrong; I spoke against it on every occasion. It would be very interesting to introduce here another quotation, from a speech on the unemployed question delivered by the present Prime Minister in the New South Wales Parliament, on the 16th November, 1893. The honorable gentleman then said -
I tell honorable gentlemen who live in a tolerable degree of comfort that the conditions outside amongst the great mass of the workers are becoming intolerable. It is no use talking here of the sacred rights of property, about the people’s castles, and so on. When you have those castles erected among squalid poverty they are not very safe, to say the least. These people are patient beyond all possibility of conception. Many of them are dying quietlyin this colony. . . . Because the outcry is not louder we take no notice. I am reminded of a statement that I read in one of the reviews that the dominant feature of the age is comfort. Everybody wants to live in a degree of comfort, and the moment they get into a state of comfort, respectability and decency, they seem to forget all about those not so well circumstanced as themselves. That, I fear, is the predominating idea among people in this country. We possess hundreds of millions of wealth, but there never was such squalid poverty here before. It isa glaring anomaly that with our boundless resources and possibilities for the creation of wealth, people have to stand idly by and perish in sheer destitution.
Things have improved, to some extent, since 1893, but why ? Because the Labour party did not follow the Prime Minister’s example, and join the capitalists, but continued to fight and work for a programme which has made a better state of things possible.
In order to provide work for the 17,000 odd men who are reported to be out of employment, I am in favour of a revision of the Tariff at an early date. I do not agree with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in the attitude he takes up in relation to some of the manufacturers. Protection I regard as our first line of industrial defence. With all Mr. McKay’s faults - and I believe they are many - I prefer him to a sweater abroad, in Japan,
China, Germany, America, or anywhere else. We have some means of dealing with Mr. McKay, through either the Federal Parliament or the State Parliament, but no means of dealing with him should he remove his works out of the country and send his goods here. It may be that we shall not be able to deal with Mr. McKay in his lifetime, but we know that he cannot take his wealth with him when he dies. Such men ought to be dealt with by means of an income tax.
– Mr. McKay sells his harvesters as cheaply as does any other firm.
– That may be.
– His big income is solely because of his large turnover - not because of excessive profit on each machine.
– Some men are making such a lot of money in Australia that we ought to have an income tax that will touch big incomes, with a high exemption. I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh on the question, and think that big incomes ought to be met with a heavy income tax and heavy probate duties. As I said, men cannot take their wealth with them when they die. Mr. Samuel Hordern died worth £3,000,000, but he left his large and wellstocked emporium; Mr. Walter Hall died worth £3,000,000, but left that and the Mount Morgan mine shares behind him; and Mr. Tyson when he died was worth £4,000,000 in pastoral lands, stock. &c.
It is of no use, to my mind, trying to fight Mr. McKay by reducing the Customs barrier. Our imports are increasing rapidly, as shown by the following table: -
That is to say, £78,000,000 worth of manufactured goods came into this country, many million pounds’ worth of which could be manufactured by our own artisans. There is no answer to the Protectionist’s argument when we come to consider the wages paid in different parts of the world, and the class of labour against which Australian workmen would have to compete in the absence of a protective Tariff. I have here three photographs, sent to me by a friend who was for a time Trade Commissioner in the East. The first one is a picture of natives employed at an iron foundry in Java. It is a German foundry - the De Volkarding, of Sourabaya. The picture represents a group of 500 natives with their manager, Mr. W. Engelenberg, and nine white artisans. Java, I remind honorable members, is about four days’ sail from Australia. There are 30,000,000 of people there, and they are prepared to work for 3d. per day. Another picture shows a view of the foundry with the natives at work. Two natives, it is said, can do the work of one white man. A third picture shows a wheel for a sugar mill made by these natives.
– For Queensland ?
– I do not think so. This Australian National party, with its various sections in the State Parliaments, has succeeded in establishing - with the assistance, as freely admitted, of democratic members of Parliament such as Mr. Deakin, Charles Cameron Kingston, and others - a standard of comfort and of wages in Australia. See what we have succeeded in doing. I refer honorable members to pages 1130-3 of the Common wealthYear-Book, where they will see the rates of wages paid in the capital cities of Australia. Take furniture-makers, bedding-makers, cabinetmakers, chairmakers, frenchpolishers, and so forth. In Sydney they receive 64s. per week; in Melbourne, “ 60s. ; in Adelaide, 56s. ; in Perth, 69s.; in Brisbane, 60s.; in Hobart, 57s.; mattressmakers are paid in Sydney 60s.; in Melbourne, 58s.; in Brisbane, 53s. ; and so on. The list, which is a long one, includes timber-yard workers, the electrical trades, engineers, farriers, ironmoulders, iron-workers’ assistants, sheet-metal workers, and so forth. I direct particular attention to the wages paid in the engineering trades. Blacksmiths receive in Sydney 72s. ; borers and slotters, 60s. ; brassfinishers, 62s. ; coppersmiths, 72s.; drillers, 50s.; fitters, 70s.; millers, 60s. ; pattern-makers, 74s. ; planers, 60s. ; ehapers, 60s. ; turners, 70s. Honorable members will be able to gain an idea from what I have quoted of the rate of wages paid throughout Australia, but let us take a country like Japan. The imports into Australia from Japan in 1891 were £52,887. In 1910 they were £718,462 - an increase in nineteen years of 1,350 per cent. What are the rates of wages paid in Japan ? I have consulted the Japanese Y ear-Book for 1907, which is the latest copy I could obtain. From it I take the following facts as to wages paid : -
Farm labourer, £3 18s. per year ; silk spinner, 5½d. per day : gardener,13¾d. per day ; fisherman,10½d. per day ; weaver, 8½d. per day ; tailor (for Japanese dress),1s. per day ; tailor (for European dress),1s. 4d. per day; shoemaker,1s. 2¼d. per day; sake brewer, £11s. 7d. per month ; confectioner, 8½d. per day ; tobacco cutter,13½d. per day ; carpenter,1s. 3d. per day; plasterer, is. 3d. per day; stone cutter, 1s. 6d. per day ; sawer,1s. 2¾d. per day ; tileroofer,1s. 4d. per day ; bricklayer,1s. 5¾ d. per day; shipbuilder,1s. 4d. per day; cabinetmaker,1s.1¾d. per day ; cartmaker,1s.0¾d. per day; harness-maker,1s. 3½d. per day; laquerer,1s.0¼d. per day : jeweller,1s.1d. per day; blacksmith,1s.1¾d. per day; potter, 11½d. per day; oil presser,10½d. per day; papermaker, 8d. per day; type-setter,10½d. per day; printer,9½d. per day; day-labourer,10½d. per day; male servant, 7s.1½d. per month.
Such are the wages paid in Japan; and the patriotic capitalists of Great Britain. Germany, France, and other countries are prepared to send their money into Japan to establish factories there for the production of goods to be imported to Australia, or anywhere else where they can be sold. Does any one wonder that this party is opposed to the capitalists whom honorable members opposite represent? I wish to say a word or two to the farmers’ representatives. I think it was the honorable member for Riverina who said -
I am a Protectionist, but not a Protectionist gone mad, and I hope that the Inter-State Commission will realize that the rural industries are the mainstay of Australia.
I do not know what the honorable member meant by “a Protectionist gone mad,” nor what he meant when he asked the Inter-State Commission to remember that the rural industries are the “ mainstay of Australia.” Does he mean that the pastoralist is to get his galvanized iron and his wire netting in free ?
– He means he is a Protectionist except where his own interests are concerned.
– Does the honorable member want free hay to feed his stock in drought time?
– I will make another speech to explain my meaning by-and-by.
– The speech which the honorable member has already made will require explanation, because a true Protectionist cannot make invidious distinctions of that kind. He must be prepared to grant Protection to all industries. The rural industries are not, with all due respect, the mainstay of Australia.
– On the figures they are.
– I must deal with that argument. The figures show that the manufactured goods of this country amount to £53,000,000, agricultural production to £38,000,000, dairy produce to £19,000,000, wheat to £5,000,000, and mining to £23,000,000. Moreover, the manufacturing industries of Australia give employment to about 317,000 persons; and, in the absence of our local markets, the farmers who are engaged in agriculture in Australia would suffer very severely.
– Not at all.
– Not at all ? I am sure that the honorable member is not a real Protectionist. He cannot understand the question - with all due respect to him - if he says that it would not be a bad thing for the farmer if his local market were destroyed. I must prove my statement for his satisfaction. How can the case be proved? Take the total amount produced by the farmers of Australia for ten years. I may say that I am indebted for these figures to the late member for Wannon, Mr. McDougall, who obtained them from the Statistician’s office. I am very sorry that Mr. McDougall was defeated.
– Take wool and wheat; how much is shipped and how much is sold locally?
– We will take wheat. In round figures, the produce for ten years was £93,000,000 worth, of which we exported £41,000,000, and £51,000,000 were consumed locally. The following table gives the figures as to the various kinds of produce : -
The total production under these headings was £327,090,335, of which £62,210,607 was exported, whilst £264,879,000 worth was consumed locally. That means that of the local production 19.2 per cent, was exported, and 80.98 per cent, consumed in Australia. Surely the pastoralist does not realize that if there was no local market-p-the market provided by these 317,000 workmen and their families - the agricultural produce, if sent abroad, would not bring anything like the price which it now brings ! It would have to come into competition with that of European and other countries.
– To what years do your figures relate?
– To the period from 1901 *6 1910.
– According to your argument the bigger the local market the better for the primary products of the country.
– Certainly; the bigger the local market the better it is. What we have to realize is that every country will have to protect its local market. There was a time - 70 or 80 years ago - when Britain had complete command of the manufacturing industries. Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Sweden, and other countries were customers of Britain. But what is the position to-day? Germany is a competitor of Britain; and so, too, are France and Russia. Nearly all the countries I have mentioned are sending manufactured goods to Australia. That ought to prove to honorable members that it is necessary to conserve the local market.
– You were saying that it was improper to increase it; at the beginning of your speech you were denouncing immigration.
– I will not go into that matter now. There are one or two other matters on which I would have liked to speak, but my time is too limited. I am in favour of increasing the land tax. At the present time, the land-owner pays on an estate over £5,000 in value and up to £15,000 Id. in the £1. Suppose that a man has an estate valued at £80,000. He pays 6d. in the £1 on £5,000, 5d. on £15,000, 4d. on £15,000, 3d. on £15,000, 2d. on £15,000, and Id. on £10,000. We made a great mistake in not framing the law so that a man with £80,000 worth of land should pay 6d. in the £1 on the total value, less the £5,000 exemption. That is a proposal which I will make to honorable members if we get a chance of occupying the Treasury bench again, and my reason is that the land tax, although some honorable members have opposed it and complained about it, does not touch certain country in Queensland. There are certain towns - like Clermont, in Capricornia, which are surrounded by the most beautiful land - land which, if it were in Victoria, near a railway, would bring £50 an acre, but which at present is valued at about £1 an acre, and escapes the land tax to a large extent. We want to increase the tax on the big estates, and compel the owners either to use them to better advantage or to let other persons use them. Some of the towns in the Western District, in Queensland, are unable to extend on account of the huge land monopoly, which cramps them in every way. I hope that we will get an opportunity of increasing the tax, and of making those gentlemen put their land to better use.
I would, if I had the opportunity, amend the Constitution in several respects. I would alter the provision with regard to the Governor-General, so that His Excellency should be, not a gentleman appointed from abroad, but an Australian born, or a person who had been resident here for a number of years. I take the view that the Australian boy ought to have an opportunity to work his way up to the highest position in the land, but that he cannot do at present. I agree with the Prime Minister when he said -
It seems to me that the better way to harmonize colonial with Imperial interests would be to allow the people of the colonies to select .
Governor-General of their own, who would be in touch with the aspirations of those people, who would know what their prejudices and aspirations are, and what their conditions of life are, more intimately and closely by reason of his having lived there a great number of years himself.
No doubt it will be some time before the Constitution is altered in that respect. It will not be so altered in my time, probably, but, in my opinion, it will be altered some day, and an opportunity will be given to the Australian boy to work his way up to the top of the tree, and to some Australian girl to occupy the position of wife to the Governor-General.
I would make another alteration in the Constitution, and that is to provide for the nationalization of hospitals. I believe that the public would agree to the nationalization of hospitals and health. At every hospital we ought to have doctors employed by the State. Under the present system there are thousands of doctors who have not enough to do, and really the incentive to the doctor is not to cure a patient. I do not want to do an injustice to an honorable profession, because there are thousands of doctors who do a great deal of work for the community and for poor persons without receiving any remuneration. It would be better for the doctors themselves, as well as for the community, if health were nationalized.
We could better deal with the maternity allowance if the hospitals were nationalized. At the present time, no mother cares to go to a hospital, because a stigma of pauperism is attached to the fact, but if it were understood that the hospitals were State institutions, and that there was no lowering of a person’s status in the community in going to a hospital, it would be better, I believe, for the community. The effect of the maternity allowance in Queensland has been, so I am informed, that some nurses, who used to charge £2 2s., have now increased their fee to £5 5s. It may be that these are isolated cases. I am sorry that I have no time to deal with the question of the cost of living and the fixing of prices; I shall have to wait for a future occasion. As I said, we as a party have no reason to feel disheartened at our removal from the Treasury bench. We may not be able to get back there for a few months, or, perhaps, for a few years, but I think the Capitalist party in Australia can rest as- sured that when 912,000 persons voted for the Labour party, with its advanced programme, in spite of abuse and misrepresentation, it is very unlikely indeed that the party who now hold the Treasury bench are going to stay there for any length of time.
.- I desire to make a few observations before I deal with the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition and the document which has been laid before the House by the Government; I do not know whether to call it a statement of policy or not. Reference has been made to the length of this debate, but I find that in the first session of the first Parliament the House put up a record. In the session of 1901 the debate on the Address-in-Reply was spread over a period of four weeks. In the session of 1910 the debate lasted from the 1st to the 19th July. In the session of 1911 the debate lasted from the 5th to 19th September, and was finished by you, sir, in magnificent style. In the session of 1912 the debate extended from the 19th June to the 11th July, or a period of three weeks and two days. In this session we have not yet reached the record of the last session of the last Parliament, but . by this evening we shall have occupied three weeks on this debate.
– And the Opposition is more numerous in this Parliament than it was in the last one.
– That is so. I find that some of those who are complaining of the length of the present debate were the chief offenders in previous sessions in delaying the House from getting to business. In the session of 1912 their speeches covered 788 pages of Hansard, and I do not think that when the record of the present debate is made up, that record will be beaten.
– And during the first week we had very short sittings.
– Yes. In addition, we have passed a Supply Bill, and quite a number of questions of great importance have been discussed.
– When does the honorable member think that we shall get to a vote ?
– I counted the number of honorable members upon this side of the Chamber who have not yet contributed to the debate, and, including the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, there is an even dozen. I do not know how many honorable members opposite intend to speak-
– A number of them wish to speak, but the Caucus will not allow them to do so.
– In the first paragraph of the Government policy reference is made to the question of electoral reform. The Government, and the press which represents their views, have attempted to make a great deal of capital out of the few irregularities which occurred during the taking of the heaviest poll which has yet been recorded in the Commonwealth. At the general elections in 1903, I find that 887,312 electors exercised the franchise; at the 1906 elections, 1,059,168 electors voted; at the 1910 elections, 1,403,976 persons voted; and at the recent elections, 2,030,000 electors voted. Thus, more than 600,000 votes were recorded in excess of the number registered on any previous occasion. Seeing that so many votes were cast, the marvel to me is that more mistakes were not made. I have no sympathy whatever with the charges of fraud which have been hurled about promiscuously in connexion with the recent elections. I quite agree with the utterance of the Leader of the Opposition, who, the moment those charges were formulated, declared .that he could not for a moment believe that even a section of the people of Australia had suddenly become corrupt. It behoves us to think a good deal before we give expression to views which are calculated to place Australia in an improper light before the world.
Occasionally we suffer from the publication of exaggerated views, and thus a distinct harm is done to the country in which we live. Other nations are much more careful in this respect. If they discover any defects in their business methods, or in their legislation, they endeavour to remedy those defects without proclaiming them to the world. But in Australia, if any slight defect be disclosed, for example, in connexion wit1, our export of produce, the press of this1 country, and sometimes even responsible Ministers, are inclined to publish them broadcast. Only a few persons can be blamed for these offences, and they should be punished. But no industry should be penalized as the result of exaggerated statements.
When I received the report of my scrutineer regarding the investigation which was held into the votes cast at the recent election for Maribyrnong, I at’ once came to the conclusion that the charges of corruption, which had been circulated wholesale, were utterly without foundation. I found, for instance, that there was one elector in my constituency whose name was ticked off as having voted twice. He is one of the moat respected clergymen in the. district. I am satisfied that he would never attempt to vote twice, and it would be absolute folly for any individual to attempt to impersonate such a well-known man. Another gentleman who is credited with having voted twice is a superintendent of police. The same remark is applicable to a sergeant of police, and to certain members of the Women’s National League. I do not believe that any of these individuals voted twice, nor do I think that anybody attempted to impersonate them. But despite the disclosures made as the result of the inquiry into alleged electoral irregularities, the press of this State persists in declaring that there were 5,700 duplicate votes recorded. I say that in most of the investigations which have taken place, it has been conclusively proved that there was little or no duplication of votes, and that the charges made regarding electoral irregularities are illfounded.
In connexion with the question of electoral reform, I propose to quote an extract from a speech which was delivered by the honorable member for Grampians a little while ago. That speech is reported in the Avoca Free Press and Farmers’ and Miners’ Journal, published in July of the present year. In passing, I would direct attention to the fact that si nee the general elections the honorable member has been very much in the company of the Prime Minister. At Kyneton the other night the Prime Minister was once more at a social gathering in company with the two Irvines. He said -
The two Irvines seem to gravitate together, and the more he saw of them, together or apart, the more he liked them.
That is all very well. He may like them, and he may pay considerable regard to the suggestions which they make in caucus. It is idle for honorable members opposite to deny that they meet in caucus, because, as a matter of fact, they have already decided many of the most important questions which could be. dealt with by a Caucus. The other night a casual reference was made to this utterance by the honorable member for Grampians, who then stated that he was not sure that he had made the observations attributed to him, but as he was reported to have made them, he supposed that he must have done so. He said -
At the present time they had universal suffrage. If it was proved to work for the good of the people it would be all right. However, he thought it would be better to take the ratepayers’ roll for electing members of Parliament. The man in the street should not have a vote if he is on the ratepayers’ roll. The waster, the loafer, and the beer-sparrer should be debarred from voting. Why should such men be placed on the same standing as those who are industrious and a credit to the nation?
I take serious objection to any such expression of opinion. In the very same hall, the honorable member for Kennedy and myself placed before the people of Avoca the true gospel, and dealt with the gentleman from whom those remarks emanated. I can assure honorable members that the people of that town do not appreciate expressions of opinion such as that which I have quoted. They believe in universal suffrage. They say that successive Parliaments have been elected upon that principle. I would like to know whether the Prime Minister is being influenced in this connexion by his association with the honorable member for Grampians, because I find that he is slipping from many of his old moorings. Of course, I am aware that during his career he has believed in almost everything in the political calendar, and believed in nothing long. Thus it comes about that whilst yesterday he may have believed in universal suffrage, to-day, under the influence of the two Irvines, he may be induced to introduce a franchise which will not be acceptable to the people, or he may be tempted to do damage to our old-age pension scheme. Out of the large number of honorable members to be found on the other side of the chamber, there are very few whom I would call Liberal. The great majority are Conservatives, and the only way in which they can inflict any damage upon the party with which I am associated is by limiting the franchise. I believe that the expression of opinion which I have already quoted is merely the murmur that we might expect to hear prior to a very pronounced proposal being placed before this Parliament. However, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
I wish now to say a few words in reply to the statements of the honorable member for Riverina as to the amount of union funds which are spent for political purposes. Of course, I can speak with confidence only of the society to which I belong - the Melbourne Typographical Society. I want to tell the honorable member that in New South Wales there are some unions which are conserving their funds, and which are not applying them to political propaganda work. These unions do not contribute to any political fund. In my recent election campaign, if there was any man who attempted to harass me, it was an out-and-out unionist. He had in his brain an exceptionally big Protectionist microbe, and he was constantly accusing me and my party of having neglected to revise the Tariff. There was no more bitter opponent of our party than this man, who professed, at any rate, to be a very pronounced unionist. The half-yearly balance-sheet of the Typographical Society shows that in 1907 our liquid assets amounted to only £3,705, whereas in 1913 they had increased to £10,300. I wish to indorse the statement that has been made by more than one honorable member of our party that, unless a man has been associated with a trade union, and understands, therefore, the principle that guides it, he cannot possibly interpret the actions or sayings of trade unionists. Honorable members opposite need to know something of the spirit of the movement. They need to have gone through the mill - to have tasted of the boycott - to be able to appreciate what trade unionism really means. The Typographical Society has an unemployed allowance fund, of which it is proud, and out of that fund, since 1907, it has expended no less than £1,918 19s. 4d. Its total receipts, I may add, amount to £4,222.
Whilst dealing with this subject, I think it appropriate to refer to the question of preference to unionists. I shall begin by quoting the views of one or two gentlemen who do not belong to our party. The first of these is Dr. Rentoul, the Moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly of Australia, who, when speaking at North Melbourne a few Sundays ago, gave expression to the following sentiment -
He had no doubt that within fifty years every working man would be in a union and a unionist.
– He is a Christian.
– He is, but not an optimistic Christian. An optimistic Christian would say that long before fifty years have elapsed every working man and woman in Australia - if they have any regard for their own interests - will be unionists.
– Seventy per cent. of the workers in Denmark are unionists.
– I understand that is so. Dr. Rentoul went on to say -
The medical men were unionists, and even the clergymen had a union, for they would not admit a man unless he was a good man. Great economists stated that men should be trained to protect one another, and that could be done by being unionists. But the capitalistsand the newspapers said that the freedom of the individual must not be interfered with. They did not say that so long as only the freedom of the poor man was being interfered with, but they said it now that the freedom of the rich man - the gentleman - was being interfered with. The freedom of the individual was being interfered with in a thousand different ways. The freedom of the man who recently broke into a well-known gentleman’s house was being interfered with.
The gentleman referred to is one of the owners of a leading Melbourne newspaper -
Temperance reform, social reform, land reform, and health reform all interfered with the freedom of the individual.
Surely it is time that we learnt that lesson. It should not be necessary for it to be constantly repeated, that the freedom of the individual is interfered with when the freedom of others is likely to be interfered with unless that be done. As they say in churches other than the Church of the Water Lily-“ No man liveth unto himself.” Another eminent churchman, Bishop Mercer, as recently as 27th July last, made an important statement on this question of trade unionism. His address was reported under the heading of “ Bishop’s Remarkable Views.” I am very glad to know that many bishops and archbishops in this country, as well as other countries, are giving expression to exceptional views. Many of the most prominent and thoughtful bishops in the Old Land have been speaking of trade unionism as being practically next to Christianity in its elevating influence upon the human family. Bishop Mercer, in an address on “ Distributive Justice in the Rewards of Labour,” said that -
He was an ardent trades unionist down to the ground.
– He is a Christian crusader.
– I am not here to indulge in fulsome praise, but I am well within bounds in saying that Bishop Mercer is one of the brainiest men we have in Australia.
– In the world.
Mr.FENTON. - Yes. Both as an educationalist and as a theologian he can stand in any company. Dr. Mercer went on to say -
There was a lot of talk about union tyranny, but it could not be taken much notice of.
That is the advice that he tenders to honorable members opposite, who talk of tyranny on the part of unions -
He looked at it in the light that, while they had the same conflicting forces as at present, there was bound to be strife, but the view that the unionist could not have his own he could not account for, and never would champion. He did not agree with fixed rates of pay for equal hours of work. Workers were bound to do things in a wholesale way until they got what they deserved - recognition of their rights. He did not look upon the present system as the ultimate way of arriving at the value of services, but the trades unions were bound to continue in that way in spite of temporary injustice. Until they were able to bring a further delicacy of manipulation into their organizations, the way of arriving at distributive justice and getting over the present difficulty was free exchange in open market, and that was being prevented by the monopolies to which he was directly opposed, more particularly as they interfered with a man obtaining a living wage.
There could be no better statement concerning preference to unionists and unionism generally than was expressed by these two eminent gentlemen. It is the custom for honorable members opposite, when addressing a way-back audience, to say that they have no quarrel with the unions, but that since their unionism has taken on a political aspect they are against it. “ As long as the trade unions tamper with politics,” they say, “we cannot conceive of its being a good thing.” I do not blame them for speaking in this way, but those who declare that it is only of late that trade unionism has assumed a political aspect cannot be familiar with the history of the movement. In Germany and France, the unions have a great deal to do with politics. That, however, is not the position in the United States of America. I believe that the great body of workers in America are not yet awake politically to their own interests, but that when they are alive to their true position and strength they will be able to send a
President to the White House and to secure majorities in both Houses of Congress.
– Nearly, all the Presidents of the United States of America, with the exception of Roosevelt and Washington, came from the working classes.
– Quite so. In the Argus of 16th ult., there was published a short criticism of an article entitled “ Socialism in the Colleges,” which appeared in the Century Magazine. The first few lines of that criticism are as follow : -
The principles of Socialism are taking hold upon the minds of youth through teaching permitted or, in the name of “ academic freedom,” actually encouraged, in our schools, colleges, universities, and even in theological seminaries.
The schoolmaster is aboard, and the Leader of the Government might just as well endeavour, by means of the most dilapidated broom in Melbourne, to keep the tide from entering Hobson’s Bay as try to prevent the onward march of the Labour party.
– He knows that.
– Of course, he does. No thinking man who reads and studies the signs of the times could have a different view.
– But would the honorable member describe the Prime Minister as a thinking man?
– In this House we must be courteous. Our party’s course has been mapped out on right lines, and the great mass of the people will surely swing behind it. Let me tell honorable members opposite, who claim to be the sole representatives of the farmers, that the day is not far distant when the farmers, too, will swing behind our party. Many intelligent farmers now say that the Labour party is the only intelligent national party in existence. During the 1911 campaign I met a gentleman whose name I can give - I believe he is still faithful to the cause - who had something interesting to say concerning the attitude of the farmers. I refer to a Mr. English, who, at a public meeting at Traralgon, refuted some of the statements made by the Rev. F. C. Wood, an organizer of the Rural Producers’ Association. At the close of an open-air meeting which I had been conducting in Traralgon, I met Mr. English, who remarked that I seemed to have the idea that all the farmers voted against Labour. I replied thatI did not entertain that view; that for the last seven or eight years my work had been principally amongst farmers in Victoria and two other States, and that I knew that some of the most advanced thinkers in the Commonwealth were to be found in their ranks. This gentleman said that “I do not want to boast, but I have one of the finest residences in Traralgon, am one of the biggest buyers and sellers of stock in the district, have a farm of 2,000 acres, and have treated my men a good deal better than is required under the conditions for which the rural workers are asking. I find that I get better value for my money by doing so, since my men carry out their duties in a way that is eminently profitable to me.” If an intelligent farmer is prepared to say that in regard to the working of his holding, what do honorable members opposite mean by proposing to lay cruel hands upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and to tear out of it the right which it gives to the rural workers to go to the Arbitration Court? I do not know whether this threat is so much “ window dressing,” but I can hardly imagine even the most Conservative representative of a rural constituency denying the right of any member of the community to go before any Court in the land. Honorable members opposite would have just as much right to try to close the doors of the Supreme Court, the County Court, or our police courts to the rural workers as they have to close the door of the Arbitration Court to them. If there is one Court above all others to which the rural worker should have access, it is that which has something to do with the fixing of his wages and conditions of employment. I hope, therefore, that this threat on the part of the Government will not be carried out. If they attempt to give effect to it they will go to their doom. After all, it will prove to be a good spade with which to excavate their own political tomb. I can only say to them, “ Keep on using the same kind of spade, and you will soon dig a political grave big enough to bury the lot of you.” I do not believe that the rural producers favour the platform submitted. Our friend Mr. English says, “ I always vote for the Labour party, because I believe it to be the only democratic party in politics.”
I now touch upon another subject. In one sense, it is not altogether congenial to me, though in another it is; I refer to defence. I regret very much that the suspicion has got into my mind that there are members of this Government - I do not accuse the whole party opposite - who are exceptionally antiAustralian. I do not say it of the PostmasterGeneral. For the first time, so far as I know, since defence has been before the Commonwealth Parliament, it has been made the football of party politicians, Ministers trying, though unsuccessfully, to expose mistakes in the administration of the last Government. I think that it is generally agreed that we shall never have a man at the head of the Defence Department who can more thoroughly understand our defence policy, or administer it better, than Senator Pearce did. If there is any question that should be kept out of party politics it is defence. Our defence system is not yet perfect, there being very many rough corners to be rounded off, but it is a wrong thing to make it the football of party politics.
– Hear, hear!
– I blame the present Ministry for having done this for the first time in our history.
– The honorable member would say anything.
– So would the Prime Minister; only I say what is true, and he does not always do so.
– Is that in order?
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong must withdraw what he said.
– I do so. It is a strange thing that as soon as the Prime Minister enters the chamber there is a conflict with the Chair.
– As soon as I come in I am insulted.
– I ask the Prime Minister to assist me in keeping order.
– Our defence scheme is being made the sport of party politicians.
– They are antiAustralians.
– Yes, and in other matters also. The last Government supplied an Australian-made tractor for use in the Federal Capital Territory, but as soon as this Government came into power the machine was pronounced to be useless, because it was Australian made. Ministers hold that nothing good can be made in Australia. Therefore, this tractor has been set aside, and the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs is derisive in his references to it. I saw the tractor in a trial pull twice the load that its makers guaranteed it to pull. It pulled a load of about 30 tons down and up an embankment. But since the change in the administration of the Home Affairs Department, this Australian-made machine has been set aside. I do not make a charge against any particular officer, but I believe that there is a strong inclination in the Department to have imported articles, and it is to the credit of the late Minister that in this matter, as in others, he always insisted, if prices were anything like reasonable, upon ordering the Australian article. The Australian Government should patronize as much as it can locally-made machinery and local manufactures generally. In the trial which I saw at Queanbeyan, the tractor did its work admirably. If it has since gone wrong, some one must have tampered with it, or fault has been found with it because the Ministry is antiAustralian.
– They ran it through the Molonglo after we were there, and got the boxes spoiled.
– Even a Minister who desires to do all he can for Australian industries is frequently baffled by his officials. We have officers who seem to have no love for Australian-made goods.
– I think it will be found that they are nearly all like that.
– In one or two instances that have come under my notice, Ministers have had a great battle to get Australian-made articles used. One of the reasons why I think some of the present Ministers are not very favorable to our defence system is that it does not carry out true Australian ideas. The meanest proposal ever made in any Parliament was the borrowing of £3,500,000 to build a Dreadnought to be presented to the Old Country. That proposal was similar to the action of a young man in saying to his mother, “ Lend me the money, so that I may make you a present.” The Dreadnought so given was to be made iti Great Britain, and manned, as far as possible, with British sailors. There are few enough British sailors in British waters and in the Mediterranean, and it is time that Australia, with 8,000 miles of coastline, trained sailors for herself. It is to the credit of the Labour Government that they did everything that could be done for our defence, and especially for our naval defence. But it was the opinion of some of our opponents, members of previous Governments, that everything required for naval defence should be obtained from the Old Country, and that the ships we paid for should be kept in British waters. The elections of 1910, however, showed that the opinion of the people was that we should have an Australian Navy, manned with Australians, and kept in Australian waters. The Dominion of New Zealand thinks that by presenting a Dreadnought to the Old Country it is doing what it should for the defence of the Empire; but, in my opinion, no part of the Empire will be doing its best for the common interest if it merely has ships made in Great Britain, to be manned with British sailors, and to be kept in British waters. If there is one thing that has helped our naval defence scheme, it is that we have made it an Australian scheme, having our vessels, as far as possible, made here, to give employment to Australian workmen, and manning them with Australian men and lads. The decision of the Labour Government to have gunboats and destroyers made in Australia has given a great impetus to our ship-building. At Williamstown today there is a first class, well-found dock. I was at the opening of it, and it was then stated that there were orders in hand which would keep it going for a period of two years. The Victorian Government took upon themselves the construction and equipment of that dock, because, without it, Melbourne was not in a position to take contracts from the Federal Government, and business was going to Sydney, because of the opportunities for docking offered by the Fitzroy Dock. The construction of the Williamstown Dock is now giving occupation to a number of workmen in the construction of dredges ; and the late much-abused Minister of Trade and Customs, who is said not to have done anything in the interests of local manufacturers, placed such a duty on dredges that in future nearly all required in Australia will have to be made here. That, and the naval ship-building policy of the late Government, have given a great impetus to the Australian ship-buildin*g trade. We have, therefore, done something.
– I ask if the honorable member, or any other, knows of a Parliament which has placed so many measures of far-reaching importance on the statutebook as did this Parliament with the Labour Government in power.
– But what about the Tariff?
– I am afraid that we shall not have a Tariff this session. The honorable member for Kooyong, now that he represents a very different electorate from his old Fitzroy electorate, might, if he liked, be returned as a Free Trader, and is probably not so ardent a Protectionist as he was.
– He has got behind a Free Trade leader.
– We are told that we are to have a Tariff from the Free Trade party, but before a Tariff can be introduced another Parliament will have been elected, and I trust that the Labour party will have an opportunity to give effect to the promise it made to the electors during the recent campaign, that if the referendum proposals were defeated it would introduce a Tariff. Had the Labour party been returned with a majority of one, that Tariff would have been already introduced.
– That is the fiction.
– The honorable member judges us by the company that he keeps, which has indulged in a considerable amount of fiction, especially of late. All we have to console us is the reflexion that truth is stranger than fiction.
– What about the honorable member for Barrier ?
– There are greater barriers on that side in the way of Tariff reform.
– I have never been returned to this House as a Free Trader.
– When the Tariff voting has been analyzed, it has been found that some of the much denounced Free Traders have given better Tariff votes than some of the so-called effective Protectionists.
I wish now to draw attention to a statement in a sub-leader of a newspaper that does not often speak kindly of the Labour party; I refer to the Age. In its issue of the 27th August last, after stating that there had been a considerable fight to overcome the feeling that it would be better to borrow money and build ships in Britain, man them with British seamen, and keep them in British waters, than to have an Australian Navy, a writer continued -
Thus was the principle of Dominional naval self-development reluctantly conceded - a principle that has steadily increased in vigour and vitality from that day to this. As to the latter fact, the Australian Labour party is undoubtedly deserving of much credit. Our national naval policy originated in Liberal thought, it is true -
I question that very much.
– It is true.
– If the honorable member is referring to universal training, I point out that the honorable member for West Sydney, in season and out of season, when he received much abuse-
– And we point to Lt. -Colonel Crouch.
– As a matter of fact, the honorable member for West Sydney received much opposition from members of unions with which he was connected, but, with true Welsh courage, he fought on until to-day, principally as the result of his agitation and clear exposition of the position, we have universal training in Australia. In this regard, I am not prepared to concede to the Liberal party our national naval policy or any other policy. The newspaper article proceeds - but no Liberal Government had ever troubled to do ought to advance it from the dialectical to the practical sphere, beyond ear-marking a trifling sum of£250,000.
I remind the honorable member for Kooyong that we are not dialectical giants, who can argue with the eloquence of the lawyer. But while honorable members opposite might be dialectically strong, they are not practical men; and, as the newspaper points out, although they made a lot of talk about the Navy, the credit remains with the Labour party of putting the scheme into actual operation. These remarks are in a newspaper which is bitterly opposed to us as a party. As soon as the first Fisher Government came into power orders were sent out, within two months, for two destroyers; such is the practical turn of the Labour mind.
– That statement is only a half truth.
– I leave that to the honorable member and the writer of the article, who is better disposed towards him than, possibly, towards myself, and the honorable member has a better chance of getting his ear.
– The Labour party have certainly proved its ability to spend money !
– Of the great expenditure, about which some of our friends opposite speak, some £13,000,000 has gone into the defence scheme. I ask the honorable member for Echuca and others whether their present position is part and parcel of the retrenchment scheme which we are told is on the boards - a scheme to cut down the expenditure on defence ?
– It is our duty to see that we get value for the money expended.
– That is a very roundabout way of putting it. Listen to this -
Labour was more energetic. It seized the first possible opportunity presented by a fortuitous rise to power - it was then in a minority in Parliament - to spend the money on Australian warships; and later, when returned to office by the people with a majority of both Houses, it enforced a policy of naval construction and expenditure which has committed both parties in Parliament probably for all time adequately to subserve the national ambition. The great value of this virile action on Labour’s part lies in the circumstance that it was timely to forestall a powerful Conservative movement which had been inaugurated with the covert object of preventing the growth of Colonial navies.
That is what I am suspicious of to-day - that there is a powerful Conservative movement at work. I fancy I see some evidence of that movement in the dismissal of men at Cockburn Sound, and the finding fault with the Fitzroy Dock - in picking little holes in the scheme carried out by one of the most intelligent and energetic men who has ever presided over a Defence Department. I firmly believe that if it came to electing a permanent Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce would be chosen by an overwhelming majority of the people of the country. The Australian Labour party has been confronted by this Conservative movement, which tried to do away with our Navy; but we have fought it successfully for three years, and will continue to fight it. We are “out” for an Australian Navy in Australian waters to co-operate with the Imperial vessels of Canada, New Zealand, and on the China station. The newspaper article continues -
Finding themselves unable to resist Australia’s demand for a local navy, Tory circles in Britain and the Dominions conceived the bright idea of indefinitely postponing the projected new regime by raising the question of Imperial Federation.
I am afraid that a great number of honorable members opposite are afflicted with that particular microbe. Judging by the initial actions of some of the men in charge of the works at present, as well as of the Minister who presides over the Department, I believe that, instead of friends, we have enemies to the defence system in the Cabinet. The Liberal party have made defence the football of party politics, and this it has no right to be.
The Sydney Morning Herald of 23rd August, 1913, contained the following: -
Our best reason for saying that Australia will succeed with her navy is that she has wisely made it a privilege for any boy to be trained for the fleet. Parents know well that the Australian Navy offers a boy a career far more full of promise than any career that will probably be open to him ashore. It gives him pay, with allowances, a little above the average of the shore trades. Ahead of him in the service are avenues leading to thoroughly well-paid posts - possibly even to high command.
I am very glad of that. I am proud of the fact that I have parents in my constituency whose lads have joined the Navy, and some of them, though comparatively young in years, are likely, if one may judge from an amateur stand-point, to achieve high distinction. I hope that in the not distant future we may have our own Australian captains and admirals, for, with such a large coast-line to defend, we must do everything possible for our Navy. During their three years of office the Labour Government spent nearly £13,000,000 on defence; and here I may explain that I am not speaking in any Jingoistic sense. It must be admitted that many mistakes have been made in the initial stages; but, if we are to have a defence system at all, let it be purely Australian, for such is better for the Empire as a whole. The total expenditure in the three years was £12,526,000. In 1910 there were 25,055 junior cadets, and in 1913 there were 53,141. Of senior cadets we had 10,597 in 1910, and 89,720 in 1913. The militia number 33,000, the rifle clubs 50,000, and the Naval Forces 3,400, or a total, naval and military, of 229,281. That is an achievement of which we all ought to be justly proud, and I hope and trust that defence matters will be kept out of party politics. Should a common danger threaten us, we should at once drop our political weapons and take up others, in order to offer a common defence. That is the sentiment that ought always to prevail, and I am exceptionally suspicious that some movements are creeping into the scheme - though I hope it is not so - that may prove inimical to it. But I tell those on the Ministerial Benches that they had better mind their P’s and Q’s, or they themselves, by their indiscreet action, may wreck all that has been so laboriously constructed.
– What does the honorable member suggest is going on ?
– I have indicated a few things already. We hear little murmurings; and it would appear that the chief occupation of some of the Ministers is to go back over the files of the past three years to see what has been done, or left undone. What would have been said if the Ministers who came into power in 1910 had adopted a similar course, and gone over the files of the previous nine years, during which, with one or two short intervals, the Liberals were in power ? What would they have found ? But the Labour Government would not do that kind of thing ; it is work of a .lowdown detective employed by a low-down man. Instead of resorting to such methods, they set to work in a practical way. They never thought of looking for slight errors, but, without resorting to trumpery, mean, contemptible actions, they sought to carry into effect the desires of Parliament. What if an error was made .at Cockburn Sound, or at Fitzroy Dock 1 1 do not admit that there were any errors, but what would such errors be in an expenditure of £13,000,000 ? As I have said, we have a total of 229,281 cadets and men, trained and partly trained, to defend this country.
On the naval side, in 1909, three torpedo boats were suggested, and then the Defence Conference took place. Senator Pearce was selected to go as the representative of Australia, but another Government came into power, and Colonel Foxton was sent.
– One of the dirtiest things ever done I
– But did not the people punish Colonel Foxton?
– True; but I do not wish to say anything about that. In 1.910, a request was made that Admiral Henderson should come to Australia in order to examine our coast and forts, and advise us as to the naval defence of the country. We may presume that the Imperial Government sent out one of the finest Admirals in the Navy; and any one, especially a non-practical man like the new Minister, should be particularly careful before endeavouring to upset the scheme of one with a life’s training in this particular work. In 1910, when the Fisher Government came into power, there were 1,240 men in the Navy, and at present there are 3,400, showing a fairly respectable force. The Australia is almost in our waters, and there are also the Mel-, bourne, the Sydney, the Yarra, the Parramatta, the Warrego, and several other boats, including the Torrens, the Swan, and the Derwent, at present in course of construction. With the other vessels that have been given by, or bought from, the Imperial Government, we shall, when our battleship arrives, have the strongest fleet there ever has been in these waters for the defence of Australia. This is largely the result of the manner in which the Labour Government have carried on the defence administration? We have at Port Stephens, in New South Wales, at Cockburn Sound, in Western Australia, and in other parts of the continent, ports which are eminently suitable for naval bases. If a word of mine can have any influence with this Government, I venture to tell them that the sooner they make suitable provision for our big ships on the western side of Australia the better it will be. The stoppage of the works at Cockburn Sound was a great mistake. To-day there is only one place in the whole of Australia where it will be possible to dock our big battle ship. Sydney is the only port to which she could go for repairs in case of accident. According to Admiral Henderson’s report, backed up by the opinions of men who are entitled to express an opinion, it is absolutely essential that we should have a naval base at Cockburn Sound. The work should be carried forward as expeditiously as possible. I hope the Treasurer will insist upon it being pushed ahead. I do not care to see men thrown out of employment when there is useful and necessary work to be done.
– We want to dredge the channel before the base could be of any use.
– I am quite satisfied that the completion of that naval base is a necessary work, and much can be done in base construction at Cockburn Sound.
We have had another exhibition of the anti-Australian spirit in connexion with wireless telegraphy. We have, in the person of Mr. Balsillie, a man who, though perhaps not possessed of as wide a reputation as some of the other wireless experts of the world, is yet, I believe, as far as his knowledge of wireless is concerned, as good an expert as we could possibly obtain. He has proved his ability by introducing many new features. I regret that the Court saw fit to order an examination to be permitted of the Commonwealth wireless apparatus. I understand that photographs and moulds have been taken of parts of our equipment.
– Surely not.
– I am told that that has been done, in accordance with the order of the Court. I am not here to dispute the right of the Court to give such a decision, but, nevertheless, I believe, with Mr. Justice Isaacs, that this is one of those State secrets which no one had any right to pry into. It is, I say, another exhibition of the anti-Australian feeling. We have the same spirit exhibited by the Attorney-General of this Commonwealth, who has accepted a general retainer from the Marconi Company, which is fighting the Commonwealth. That is an indication that the present Government are callous and indifferent to the true interests of Australia. Otherwise they would not permit their Attorney-General to hold a general retainer enabling him to come in between them and their bounden duty to the Comm on wealth .
I shall say nothing about the Small Arms Factory, the Clothing Factory, the Woollen Factory, and the other Commonwealth enterprises of the kind ; but I wish to make a remark upon an official reply given the other day to the effect that it was impossible for the Clothing Factory to take in hand some work in connexion with the post office, because it already had so much defence work on its hands. Nevertheless, I hear that some women employed at the factory have been given holidays because there is not enough work for them to do.
– That is a Yes-No policy, and it is characteristic of the other side.
– It is a policy that I do not care about. I do not see how the statement made by the Minister elsewhere can be reconciled with the facts.
– How could any member of this Government tell the truth ?
– I admit that that is a difficult hurdle for any one of them to get over.
– They give no evidence of a desire to do so.
– I have a few remarks to make with regard to statements made by the Prime Minister when he was Leader of the Opposition in reference to Commonwealth finance. During the election campaign the honorable gentleman addressed a meeting in the Gippsland electorate. I say at the outset that the Leader of the Opposition, during an election, is the next important man to the Prime Minister, and he ought to be just as careful in his utterances. Defamatory statements made from public platforms by prominent public men are calculated to do serious injury to Australian interests abroad, and I maintain that we are justified in challenging those public men when they make random assertions. Surely, notwithstanding all our party feeling, there is some little amount of patriotism left in our composition.
– Look at the wicked things that the honorable member has been saying about me and my colours in connexion with the postage stamp. They cut me up terribly.
– I may tell the PostmasterGeneral that I know so little about racing that I am not even aware of what his racing colours are. During the election campaign, as I have said, the Prime Minister addressed a meeting in Gippsland. I do not blame the honorable member .for that electorate so much for certain misstatements which he made, in view of the example set to him by his leader. The Prime Minister was reported in the Argus of 6th February to have said -
During each year of its existence it had over £4,000,000 more revenue from the States than the previous Liberal Government. Not satisfied with that, the Labour party then proceeded to levy a land lax, which in three years gave them an additional £4,000,000 sterling. All told, the present Ministry had £18,000,000 of money more than their predecessors, and they were finishing up the year with a deficit of £r, 500,000. They certainly spent their money like toffs.
The honorable gentleman went on to say -
One result of the expenditure had been a tremendous increase in the Public Service. About 20,000 persons had been added to the Commonwealth pay roll, yet every one of the new enterprises were under the patronage of Ministers. They wanted to keep the appointments under their own control, and they would not let the Public Service Commissioner have anything to do with them. The result was about I7,000 persons were under the Public Service Commis. sioner, and, excluding the Defence, about 23,000 persons were in the direct pay of the Government itself.
The land tax represented another £1 9s. per head. If there were added to those amounts the increase of the States’ taxation of 6s., the total represented £t 15s.
That was the statement made by the present head of the Government when he was Leader of the Opposition. Why is it that a man, for party purposes, will go into a country town and say things which he knows to be absolutely not in accordance with fact? The Prime Minister had the same opportunities as were open to me of finding out the true state of the finances at this time. Moreover, he was exceptionally fortunate in having a powerful press behind him. A special correspondent of the Argus attended him in Gippsland, and if he was misreported, he had ample opportunities of correcting the error. What I complain about is that at the very time when the honorable gentleman said that the Fisher Government were going to finish the financial year with a deficit of a million and a half, there was actually in the Treasury an accumulated surplus of over £2,000,000. I cannot blame the honorable member for Gippsland, who, as already shown, made statements which were seriously calculated to misrepresent the position, when we find his leader committing himself to assertions of this kind. As honorable members are aware, the financial year finished with a surplus of £2,400,000. That was admitted by the present Treasurer when he introduced his first Supply Bill after the elections. Consequently, the Prime Minister was about £3,500,000 out in his Gippsland statement.
– The honorable member is entirely misrepresenting me.
– I have quoted from a report in the Argus, which had a special reporter at the honorable gentleman’s meeting. T complain that when glaring mistakes of this kind are pointed out, the Prime Minister has not the political manliness to put the facts right for the benefit of the public.
– I made no mistake.
– The honorable member made a very serious one, which, in my judgment, did much to injure Australian credit.
– If it was not a mistake it must have been something worse.
– There was nothing but a campaign of mendacity maintained by honorable members opposite during tho election.
– Honorable members over there are all George Washingtons.
– The statement made by the Prime Minister as to the Public Service contained a half truth of the kind that is often more misleading than a bold, bald lie. He said that 20,000 persons had been added to the Commonwealth pay-sheet, every one of whom was under the patronage of Ministers. That was a distinctly inaccurate statement. I should characterize it in stronger language if permitted by the forms of the House. He asserted that the late Government wanted to keep the appointments under their own control, and would not let the Public Service Commissioner have anything to do with them. That was a most misleading statement for a responsible man to make. What are the true facts? As soon as I noticed this statement in the press, I put myself in communication with a source from which I could obtain reliable information, and obtained particulars as to how many temporary and how many permanent public servants there were under the Public Service Commissioner who had been appointed in accordance with the Public Service Act, and the reply I got from the office of the. Public Service Commissioner was that over 29,000 permanent and temporary hands were under his control. Why, then, should the Leader of the Opposition, who knew the facts as well as I did, say that 17,000 persons were under the control of the Commissioner, and 20,000 under the patronage of the Government? It may be unparliamentary to say it, but I do say that it was a mean, contemptible statement to make.
– Order !
– I say still that it is substantially true.
– The honorable member was quite correct in saying that it is an unparliamentary statement, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– I said, sir, that it may be unparliamentary to say it, but I withdraw the statement. I believe in looking first after my country’s interests. It is better by far to study the true interests of this country than to go about making malicious statements which have no foundation.
– I made no such statements.
– The honorable member, who was then Leader of the Opposition, said there were 20,000 temporary hands employed by the Commonwealth who were immediately under the control and patronage of the Fisher Government. Such a statement is not true, because the report of the Public Service Commissioner, which, strange to say, was issued about two days afterwards, proved conclusively that there were under his control, and appointed in accordance with the Public Service Act, 23,000 employes.
– You said 29,000 before.
– I am wrong: the number is 29,272. I am very glad to have that correction.
– You are wrong altogether.
– If the honorable member will turn up the report of the Commissioner, he will find out that he deals with 29,272 employes. There is a very great difference between 29,000 and 17,000, and the remaining 12,000, let me tell the honorable member, as he already knows quite well, are appointed by clerks of works.
– There is no contradiction in the figures at all. You do not understand them.
– Soon after my advent to this House, I found out exactly what the honorable member was, and I have never tried to understand him since. I never can, and I hope I never will, and, what is more, I hope I shall never be guilty of emulating him in many of the misstatements he makes.
– I made no misstatements.
– The honorable member said that out of 40,000 employes in the Public Service, 20,000 were under the control of the Ministry.
– Did I?
– The honorable member is reported to have said so, and I am now giving a statement of the facts. Iu the space of an hour, I obtained a correct statement of the position.
– There is nothing wrong with the figures, but there is? with the honorable member.
– The day has gone by when the honorable member could deceive any one here by that kind of chatter.
– You do not understand the figures.
– I do not understand the honorable member. He is one of the un-understandable individuals.
– That is why you are able to criticise me so intelligently ?
– I do criticise the honorable member’s figures when they tell against Australia. He said, I repeat, that the land tax represented another £1 9s. per head. If we got £1 9s. per head from the people of the Commonwealth, we should have a revenue of £6,670,000.
– Do you not know that that was corrected in the Argus?
– When ?
– Go and look.
– I think that the honorable member might give me the date of the Argus. Did he correct the other statements ?
– About the Public Service? No, I adhere to them.
– Well, if we have to depend upon the honorable member for information, I am afraid that we shall place as little reliance on his official returns as on any statements he makes.
– Order ! I cannot permit this conversation to go on. Will the honorable member please address the Chair ?
– I am trying to do so, sir. I will leave that unsavoury subject. I do not care to pursue this line of criticism, but when I find a leading politician making statements which are detrimental to the best interests of this country,. I should be lacking in my duty if I did not make some protest.
– If you were a man, you would take a man’s denial. That is the plain English of it.
– If I were to talk plain English, I would transgress the rules of the House.
– I have told you that that statement was corrected, but you keep on repeating it, and no man would do that.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance in regard to the correction of one statement, but he ought to have corrected the other two statements, because he was equally at sea there.
We have heard very much talk about the farmers from the other side. I have quite a number of farming friends in Victoria, and am in almost constant correspondence with them. I have now quite a number of farmers in my constituency. The honorable member for Wannon the other day talked about giving me a tumble on his hay-stack. I do not know if he has a hay-stack, but if he wants to see a good hay-stack he had better come to my constituency. We have there the best hay-stacks and stackbuilders that are to be found in this State.
Mr.Rodgers. - Was the hay grown by you?
– The last stack I had anything to do with was a lucerne stack. I helped to build one a little while ago, and I think that my operations in this direction were much more recent than were those of the honorable member. I have here a letter which I received from a farmer, and, thinking that some honorable member might want to make it the property of the House, I took the precaution of cutting out the signatureand the name of the place where it was written. Talking about the result of the elections, the writer says -
It is a hard knock, but might easily have been worse considering the way the press acted and that terrible “ rural workers’ log.” The poor farmer couldn’t swallow that, but I am sure that we need not begrudge the others all the joy they can get out of the present situation. I did my best here, and, considering it is a farming district, I was delighted with the result : - Liberal, 62 votes; Labour, 50.
This letter comes from a nice little farming centre. It simply shows that when we get one or two missionaries into a community, however small it may be, the residents are not long in turning to the intelligent party in Federal politics, and that is the Labour party.
– What is the locality?
– I will not divulge the locality, but I may mention that the honorable member for Wimmera is very much interested in it. The writer continues -
However, better luck next time; of that I am certain. I am enclosing a note which arrived two days after the elections. It was sent to all wool producers and speaks for itself. They took good care it did not get out while the referendum was before the people. I also thought the deliberations of the Chamber of Commerce, as reported in the Age of19th June, rathergood after turning down the referendum.
The next sentence will interest the honorable member for Calare.
I was pleasedto see the Metropolitan Board of Works were so satisfied with their loan transactions with the Commonwealth Bank.
I intend to read the circular which this farmer said was delivered two days after the Referendum.
– I think we are entitled to have the man’s name in the press. Why did you cut it out?
– If the honorable member wants to ferret out anything he had better come to me privately.
– The statement without the name is worth nothing.
– Put it on the table.
– As you did the letter from which you quoted.
– The circular is dated Melbourne, 30th May - that is, before the elections - but it did not reach the hands of the producers until two days afterwards -
Melbourne, 30th May, 1913,
In consequence of the large increases that have taken place in the cost of all classes of labour in and connected with wool stores, all material, cartage, and the extra expense of providing additional show-room space in order to meet the demands of the buyers to permit of increased proportions of clips being shown, it has been found necessary to slightly increase the charges for wool selling in Melbourne and Geelong, and the undermentioned rates have been agreed upon, to take effect from the1st July next, namely : -
Receiving, weighing, warehousing, lotting, repacking, sale expenses, &c, one-eighth of a penny per pound.
I notice that against “ £200 and under, 3 per cent.,” my correspondent - one of several brothers, all of whom are good farmers,Labour men, and splendid missionaries - writes in the margin, “ the small man again.”
Commission. -£200 and under, 3 per cent. ; £200 to £500, 2 per cent. ; over £500, 1½ per cent.
Insurance. -1s. 6d. per cent.
Australian Mercantile, Land & Finance Company Limited.
New Zealand Loan & Mercantile Agency Company Limited.
The Australian Estates & Mort gage Company Limited.
Younghusband, Row, & Company Propty. Limited.
Strachan, Murray, & Shannon Propty. Limited.
George Hague & Co. Propty. Limited.
There we are told what is being done for the farmers and the small wool-growers. There are, I understand, some honorable members who are very prominently identified with the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales. One or two matters have come up before that association which, I think, ought to be stated here. I believe that the farmers were asked to consider whether something could be done to bring in legislation to protect the tenant farmer, but they turned down the proposition, because a majority felt that the time was not opportune to introduce such legislation. The following statement was made on that occasion by Mr. G. F. Oram, of Mudgee -
He was a sheep farmer on another man’s land for five years. It was sold. He could not purchase it, but it brought ^13 an acre, and then he continued on it, and in ten years he bought it for ^40 an acre - the high price being largely on account of the improvements - so that he paid twice for his own improvements.
– He must have made a bit out of it, too.
– It is very evident that the owner got a big bit out of Mr. Oram when he sold the land, and that is, I suppose, one of the greatest barriers to men of moderate means getting on the soil. The position taken up by Mr. Oram is one which is right. Another item comes from the Wagga district, where farmers are advocating what I have thought of for years. As many honorable members know, my business for seven or eight years lay with the farmers and dairymen of Victoria and other States. The Marra branch of the Farmers and Settlers Association resolved, on the 1st August -
That in the interest of the branch no person but a bond fide farmer shall be admitted to the membership.
I was glad to note this resolution, but let honorable members listen to the remarks of the mover -
Farmers regard this motion as a move in the right direction, for many persons have been admitted to the association whose sympathy lies in the farmer’s pockets and not in his welfare.
That is my belief, too. I have attended a number of farmers’ conventions, and one would have to do a bit of pin-pricking to find any farmers. One will find there a number of squatters, graziers, and storekeepers. These are the men who have leisure to attend these gatherings. These are the men who profess -to formulate a programme for the working farmers. The resolution passed by the Marra branch is a step in the right direction. The farmers do not want anybody but bond fide farmers in the ranks of the association, and they are quite right, too, because, as they say, there are very many persons getting into the association who are farming the farmers instead of being farmers themselves.
There are many other items on which I intended to address the House, but as I have only a few minutes left now I must leave them for another occasion. I have been talking as fast as I possibly could. I had intended to deal with the Tariff. I have dealt slightly with preference to unionists. I was going to say something about the bank, too.
The honorable member for Macquarie said the other day that he would gladly contribute to some contributory form of insurance. That would be all very well for a man who had money in his pocket. The people who would principally benefit by an insurance scheme, if it can be so called, are those who already contribute to the revenue we have for expenditure. The private wealth of Australia is about £1,000,000,000, yet 8,500 persons own £810,000.000, leaving £190,000,000 for the rest of the community. I had these figures prepared by one of the best actuaries in the Victorian Statistician’s office. I am informed on the highest authority that we draw from Customs and Excise about £15,000,000, and those persons who own only a fifth of the wealth of this community contribute £12,000,000. When they are contributing the bulk of the revenue, if there is anything to be done for those who are not so well circumstanced, surely they can draw a little of that revenue which they themselves principally contribute, instead of being called upon to put their hands into their pockets still more. Whilst four-fifths of the wealth resides with one-fifth of the population, it is wrong to ask the poorer classes of the community to contribute to any fund of that kind.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It has been claimed that this debate should be brought to a termination on the ground that it constitutes a waste of time. I do not regard it in that light. The position in this Chamber is, in my opinion, un- precedented. The Prime Minister has stated that never before has a Government had a no-confidence motion launched against it so soon after a general election. Probably there are reasons for that. But in the present instance we find the Prime Minister himself publicly stating that whilst he is in office he is not in power, thus admitting that he is not able to control the destiny of this country. In my judgment, if he did the right thing, he would send us to our masters - the people - and allow them to decide which party is to govern the Commonwealth. Every honorable member has a perfect right to place his views before the electors, who, despite the intention of the Government to hang on to office as long as possible, will, in the near future, determine which of the two political forces now facing each other is to dominate Australia. To-day both parties are equally divided on the floor of this chamber. I know that the Prime Minister thinks that a dissolution of this House would be unsatisfactory, and that he desires to secure a double dissolution. But I am afraid he will experience considerable difficulty in reaching that goal. If he is prepared to remain on the Treasury bench until he can secure a double dissolution, I am inclined to think that the people will appraise his Government at their true value. What is the use of the honorable gentleman arguing that his party secured a majority of the votes recorded throughout the Commonwealth at the recent general elections ? What effect will that have upon the Senate ? The Constitution provides the manner in which the other Chamber shall be elected, and we know that the so-called Liberal party there went to the country eleven strong and were returned only seven strong. That clearly shows that under the Constitution the electors are not in favour of the party which now occupies the Treasury bench. That is the only comparison we can institute from the stand-point of the Senate. Consequently, the sooner we permit the electors to decide which party in this House shall hold the reins of office, the better it will be for all concerned. If the Government were returned with a working majority, it would be tantamount to an instruction to the Senate to pass legislation which had been approved by this House. When the Prime Minister complains that honorable members upon this side of the Chamber have occupied too much time in debating the no-confidence amendment upon the Address-in-Reply, he forgets that previous discussions of a similar character have occupied quite as long. Personally, I see not the slightest foundation for the honorable gentleman’s complaint. But there is an evident desire on his part to induce the people to believe that the Labour party are holding up the government of the country, when, as a matter of fact, we are merely doing what other parties have done previously in this House. Without this opportunity of placing our views before the electors, the latter would not be able to judge of the merits of the rival political parties. What we are doing is actually what the Prime Minister himself invited us to do. Does he imagine that he can put forward a statement of Ministerial policy which practically challenges the legislation that has been enacted at the instance of the Labour party, and that the members of that party will quietly sit down and accept his dictum? As watchdogs of the public, it is our duty to stand up and tell him that we are prepared to accept this challenge and to fight him. Had he desired to remain in office, and to avoid the necessity for holding another election, he could have introduced plenty of measures the consideration of which would have fully employed this Chamber, without interfering with the legislation which we have enacted, and as to the repeal of which he has received no mandate from the people. In the noconfidence motion which has been submitted, the Government are indicted upon four counts. It is the duty of honorable members to confine their remarks, as far as possible, to that indictment. The motion declares that the Government -
With regard to the first count, is there an honorable member who will urge that it is not correct? Are not the Government endeavouring to interfere with our industrial laws ? In spite of their professed desire to give equality of opportunity to all classes, do they not propose to deprive certain classes of their liberty ? Do they not intend to prevent the President of the Arbitration
Court from granting a preference to unionists? I do not know of any honorable member sitting upon the other side of the House who told the people at the last election that it was proposed to repeal that section of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act which makes the granting of a preference to unionists optional with the Judge. In what cases has this preference to be refused? Only in cases where an industrial union, either directly or indirectly, supplies funds for political purposes. On the other hand, industrial unions which do not contribute to a fund for political purposes, and whose mission it is to destroy the legitimate unions which have been established for years, may apply for registration under the Act and thus obtain a preference for their members. We have an example of that in the Independent Workers Union which has been avowedly created to assist the employers of the Commonwealth. Mr. Blackwood, a former president of the Employers Federation, has openly told the people of Great Britain that the Independent Workers Union was formed for the purpose of assisting the employers to destroy the existing unions. He pointed out that they could place men who chose to apply at certain bureaux, and who were prepared to join that particular organization. This union may be registered under the Arbitration Act, and may cite a case before the Court. The Judge will then have the right to grant a preference to a bogus union. Yet, under the legislation which the Government propose, the legitimate unionist, who has borne the heat and burden of the day, will be denied a preference merely because he contributes ls. or £1 to a political organization. During the early stages of this debate some honorable members stressed the hard fight which unionists had been compelled to wage in order to secure for unionism a legal standing. It was not till then that the community began to realize that in industrial disputes, apart from the combatants, there was a third party which had to be considered. That third party is the general public. What did we do ? We enacted that it should be illegal for any organized body of men to undertake anything in the nature of a strike or a lock-out. We asked these great industrial bodies to give up the weapon of the strike, and to recognise that the general community had a right to be considered. They did as we desired. They gave up their right to strike, and registered themselves under the Arbitration Act, under which a tribunal was established to deal with industrial differences. To the credit of the unions be it said that, so far, there has not been a single breach of any award made by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Having legalized industrial arbitration, what right have we to interfere, with the individual liberty of the men who constitute these great industrial organizations ? If they wish to support a political party, why should they not do so? To my mind, there can be only one reason - and the reason is self-evident - for this promised legislation on the part of the Government. It is prompted by a desire for retaliation on the part of those who imagine that the industrial worker* are opposed to their policy. Any Government, however, that brings in retaliatory legislation is doomed to suffer. The great body of fair-minded people, whether they be trade unionists or not, are well able to determine what actuates a party in introducing such legislation, and will recognise that the attitude of honorable members opposite, in connexion with this particular measure, is not genuine. The Government believe that if they take away from unionists the right of preference no money will be forthcoming to* assist our party. Whilst they propose to> do this, they take no exception to the employing classes having the right to go tothe Court, although they pour into their party funds thousands of pounds. The employing classes are to have the right togo to this Court just as an industrial worker may do, and may pay into thefunds of the Liberal party as much money as they feel disposed to part with. Then,, again, the Independent Workers’ Union is given the right to register. The members of that union are to have a right of preference to the detriment of the genuine trade unionists. There can be no doubt whatever that the Government is proposing to interfere with industrial matters, and that they intend to go even further, and declare that the rural worker shall not even have the right to register under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Imagine a party that claims to believe in liberty and equal opportunity depriving the unfortunate toiler in a rural industry of the right to go to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– After this, we cannot speak of a free Australia.
– Not if such legislation is to be enacted. Why should not a farm worker have, in this regard, the same right that is enjoyed by the man who follows any other occupation ? Why should any distinction be made?
– The Government are not game to advertise in England their intention to except rural workers from the Act.
– They are not. Conditions of labour can be regulated in relation to rural industries just as well as they can be regulated in connexion with other occupations. In connexion with every other industry, the Court has to fix the conditions - to determine the hours of employment and the wages to be paid - and no Court would impose conditions that were not in the interests of the industry concerned. I do not think that the Court would do what has been suggested by honorable members opposite, and fix conditions which would prevent the farmer from employing labour. The farmer as well as his employe would have an opportunity to give evidence, and the President of the Court, who is a Justice of the High Court, is bound to arrive at a determination upon the evidence given. As far as possible, he would see that justice was meted out to all, and would do nothing detrimental to the farmer, or to any other employer of labour. It seems to me that, because the farmers have complained about the rural workers’ log - although, so far as I know, that log has not yet been filed with the Court - honorable members opposite think they are in duty bound to except rural workers from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, inasmuch as they received a good deal of support in rural districts. In this instance, therefore, the promised legislation is also actuated by purely party political motives. Where is the liberty, where is the equality of which honorable members opposite preach so much, if they are going to prevent one set of workers enjoying the privileges which are given to others? We are told that the rural workers can be dealt with by the States. That is true of those engaged in other industries; but they may also go to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in the case of a dispute extending beyond any one State. The Liberal party’s argument is not a genuine one. As a matter of fact, in those States where the Liberal party is in power, the rural workers cannot go to the local industrial tribunals. So far as the rural workers are concerned, the Liberals in the State Parliaments take up the same attitude as their brethren in the Federal Parliament. Clearly, therefore, it is not the intention of the Government to permit the rural workers to have any means of redressing their grievances through the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. The rural workers may have been very slow to organize, but they are organized to-day. I would tell honorable members opposite, who say that the Liberal party alone represents the farmers, that I have represented a farming constituency in New South Wales, and that two-thirds of the electorate which I at present represent is a farming community. I am always prepared to express publicly my views in regard to these questions, and I do not hesitate to say that, if honorable members opposite prevent the rural- workers from going to the Arbitration Court now that they are organized, there will be only one alternative. The men know that at a certain time of the year it is necessary for the farmers to have additional hands, and now that they are organized they will strike their blow at that particular time if they be denied the right to seek redress in the Arbitration Court. If they do so, will the Liberal party say that the law ought to be put in motion against them ? Having denied them the opportunity to go to the Court, will the Liberal party say that the rural workers are committing a breach of the law by engaging in an organized strike in respect of which there are certain penalties and gaol provisions? If honorable members opposite talk about justice and equal opportunity for all while they deprive these men of the right to go to the Court, the people will take them at their true value, and it will not be long before the farmer will find that the Labour party is his best friend. A large number of farmers support me, and I think they will continue to do so, because they know that I have a genuine regard for their interests. If ever a strike should occur at harvest time because of rural workers being denied the right to go to the Court to obtain an amicable settlement of their grievances, a swing of the political pendulum will take place. The support of the farmers which has helped to put the
Liberal party where it is will be withdrawn, and we shall take their place on the Treasury bench. In regard, therefore, to the first count in our indictment, I hold that the Government are clearly endeavouring to interfere with industrial matters. I have not heard one member of their party deny that they are doing so. Every one has practically admitted that the first count in our indictment is correct. In the second place, the Government are indicted for interfering with social legislation. That, I think, can be proved in a very few words. The Government propose so to amend the Maternity Allowance Act as to make the allowance available only to those in necessitous circumstances. If that proposal be carried, the allowance will be granted in the future only after much inquiry. The womenfolk of Australia are to be asked to give up their independence. Nothing that the Government propose is going to bring disaster upon them so quickly as will this threatened interference with the maternity grant. Already a Liberal newspaper in my electorate is pointing out that this is an unwise proposal on the part of the Government. Many of the women of my electorate who voted for my opponent say that they were never informed of this intention on the part of the Liberal party, and that if it is io be made impossible for a woman to obtain the grant until she has answered various inquiries in regard to her position, they will no longer vote for the Liberal party, but will support the party that believes in assisting the womanhood of Australia. The maternity allowance should be free without question to every woman who makes application for it. Where are the Government going to draw the line in regard to the earnings of the husbands ? Are they going to say that a woman whose husband receives £2 10s. per week is not in necessitous circumstances, and therefore shall not be entitled to this allowance, which is designed only to assist people with inadequate means ? There are to-day many who cannot support their families properly on £2 10s. a week. Every time there is an increase in the family it takes the husband’s full earnings for a fortnight to provide for medical and nursing attendance. The housewife has consequently to allow her tradesmen’s bills to fall a fortnight in arrears, and it takes her months to redeem herself.
– What the honorable member is saying is gospel truth. I can prove it.
– I know that it is. Not only have the mother and father todeny themselves many little things, but very often their children have to go toschool without boots, in order that provision may be made for that medical and nursing attention which is absolutely necessary to a woman at what is the most critical time of her life. We provided for the payment of £5 to cover medical and nursing attendance, and now the Liberal party complain that the expenditure so incurred is very heavy. If a vote of the people of Australia were taken tomorrow, I am confident the answer would be that this expenditure, no matter how heavy it is, is money well spent. If we can find the money to bring immigrants to Australia at a cost of something like £14 per head, the people of the Commonwealth will not begrudge a payment of £5 for an Australian immigrant. They are the best citizens we can have. The Government should go to the people before they attempt to interfere with legislation of this kind. If they do they will get their answer, and that answer will be their relegation to the Opposition benches. At the last Federal election the Liberal party had much to say about the wasteful extravagance of the Labour Government, but they carefully refrained from saying anything about proposals of this kind. Then, after their return, the Prime Minister, because he heard of some lady who bought a bangle with the maternity allowance, thinks it necessary to deprive the women of Australia of this grant. If the people get the opportunity, they will deal with the Government as they ought to be dealt with for endeavouring, behind the backs of the electors, to do away with the maternity grant - a proposal that they never mentioned when they were on the hustings.
Sitting suspended from 6:30 to 7.^5 p.m.
– The Government programme contains a reference to compulsory insurance’. Speaking as a layman, I doubt whether the Constitution empowers this Parliament to legislate for such a thing.
– The AttorneyGeneral has expressed the same doubt.
– Then my position is all the stronger. If, instead of a com- pulsory we provided for an optional, scheme, it could hardly be made workable, because there would be no Sure basis on which the actuaries could found such a scheme. Without definite data it would be impossible for actuaries to frame a sound scheme, and such data could not be obtained for a voluntary system. Compulsory insurance, we are told, is to be substituted for the maternity allowance. I shall, of course, reserve my remarks on these proposals until they are actually before us; but I am sure that if this Parliament interferes with the maternity allowance in such a way as to cause the womenfolk of Australia to think that they will have to plead poverty in order to get the allowance, that independent spirit which is so characteristic of them will assert itself, and those responsible for the alteration of the law will be properly dealt with. I come now to the second count of the indictment: that the Government has not indicated in any way that it is going to reduce the cost of living. It may be said that this comes badly from the Opposition, which has just been in power for three years without reducing the cost of living. But the question now is, not what another party did, but what the party in power is doing? The people expect the Liberal party to give effect to the promises which it made to them a couple of months ago, when seeking their suffrages. Liberal candidates told the electors from every platform almost that the high cost of living was due to the Labour party being in power. It is generally known that the Commonwealth’ revenue does not amount to half of the combined revenues of the State Governments, yet the people were made to believe that because the Commonwealth Government was controlled by the Labour party the cost of living increased. Moreover, four of the State Governments are Liberal, and the Liberal party must accept the responsibility for them. In my opinion, the high cost of living is not due to governmental action at all; it is due to causes over which we have at present no control. The Labour party endeavoured to obtain for the people powers which would have enabled this Parliament to deal with the forces that are increasing the cost of living; but our opponents advised the electors that that was not necessary. Now we search their programme in vain for any proposal to reduce the cost of living. Living has become dearer in every country in the world. According to the British Board of Trade reports for 1910, the cost of living in Austria has increased by 35 per cent., in Belgium by 32 per cent., in Germany by 22 per cent., and in Italy by 20 per cent. In none of those countries is there a Labour Government in power. Plainly, there are other causes than governmental action responsible for the dearness of living. I know of women who had been Labour supporters who this time voted for Liberal candidates because of the promises made by the Liberals to reduce the cost of living, and the electors expect that the promises made to them will be kept. The Prime Minister, whose utterances have been referred to so frequently in this debate, has said outside that the cost of living has been increased, by the increase of taxation under the Labour Government. I could bear out that assertion by quoting from a report in the Sydney Morning Herald. The Sydney Daily Telegraph, too, in its issue of the 9th April last, reported that, addressing the Chatswood Women’s Liberal League, the honorable gentleman referred to the increased taxation, State and Federal, which, he said, amounted to from £7 to £8 per family, and when passed on would mean from £10 to £12 per family.
– Why do they go to women’s meetings?
– Because they have a better chance of deceiving the women, who have not time to look into these matters, and are deluded by having only half the facts placed before them. With the exception of the land tax, which the Labour party was pledged to impose, what taxation did it introduce during its three years of office ? We did not interfere with the Tariff, and, indeed, have been condemned for not doing so, and it is the Tariff from which most of the revenue is derived. Incidentally, I might remind honorable members that the Prime Minister has spoken of the land tax as most unfair. He has stated that New South Wales contributes half of the Federal land tax, adding that “ there was no justice or statesmanship about that, and that the sooner it was altered the better for all concerned.” Does not every one know that the tax is imposed on a uniform basis, land-owners paying in accordance with the value of their land? If New South Wales pays more than other States, it is because she has more big land-owners. Does the Prime Minister propose to repeal the land tax, or to amend it, to put it on a fair and statesmanlike basis, so far as New South Wales is concerned ? There is no proposal of that kind in his programme. The land tax was the only tax that the Labour party imposed., and it is the big, rich landowners alone who have to pay it. Has beef or’ mutton increased in price since the tax has been imposed ? No. The prices of those commodities are about the same now as they -were before. The tax has not been passed on to the people. Dealing with the finances, the Prime Minister told the public that the honorable member for Wide Bay said that his Government would finish the year with a deficit. It is true that the honorable member for Wide Bay, in making his financial statement, predicted that the expenditure for the year would probably be greater than the revenue, and would consume the accumulation of the two previous years, but it would have been fairer to tell the whole truth, and to say that in a subsequent statement of the financial position, made at the end of the session, the honorable member pointed out, in unmistakable language, that on the 30th June last there would be a surplus of over £2,000,000. The Prime Minister has repeated the first statement, suppressing the correction made six months later. It is these half-truths that do more mischief than deliberate lies. The honorable gentleman has since said that, when referring to increased taxation, he spoke of the increased yield. Accepting that correction, what does his statement mean ? It simply means thai during the three years that the Labour Government was in power, the prosperity of the country was so great that the public had plenty of money to spend, and therefore the Customs revenue increased. The Prime Minister’s statement really redounds to the credit of the Labour party. Had it come from the lips of a Labour member, not much notice would be taken of it. But coming from the Prime Minister, importance must attach to it. He has shown that an era of prosperity reigned during the three years that the Labour party was in power. Even if it could be shown that the Labour party had increased taxation, it would be for this Government, in view of its promises, to reduce that taxation. It is fair to ask Ministers - and the people will ask them - what they are going to do to redeem their promise to reduce taxation. We are told, and this brings me to the third charge, that the Government aregoing to deal with the Tariff and have appointed an Inter-State Commission tomake inquiries and submit anomalies to be dealt with by the House. But the people expect something more; they expect an immediate revision of the Tariff on the strength of the vote given a couple of months ago. It has been said by our opponents that, although we were in office three years, we did nothing in this connexion. The Labour party took a straightforward attitude, and told the people, on the first occasion, that unlesspowers were given to introduce the newProtection they would not interfere with the Tariff; and, with the exception of rectifying a few anomalies, the Tariff wasleft untouched. On the last occasion we told the people that, even if they were notprepared to give the additional powers,, we should revise the Tariff, and if we had’ been returned to power that promise would have been kept, as every other promise made by the Labour party has been, kept. Why should we wait until an. Inter-State Commission submits a reportin regard to certain items of theTariff? It is because of the conflicting; elements in the Government ranks; honorable members opposite are a Fusion composed of Free Traders and Protectionists, and with a majority of only one it must be difficult for them to deal withthe matter, and, therefore, they adopt theeasiest way and relegate the duty to someother body. If this is such a vital question, as affecting the welfare of the people,, and the Labour party have increased taxation to the extent of £2 to £3 per head”, of each family, surely the people of thecountry expect the Government to deal with the matter themselves. The question is not what the Labour party and’ Government have or have not done, but whether the Government will fulfil theirpromises to the people; and no effort isbeing made in that direction. Even if we were to say that the Prime Minister has been misreported in every newspaper in the Commonwealth, and was always referring to the Customs yield and not to increased taxation, I have in my possession a very significant document that was sent to almost every elector in New South Wales. It is signed by Mr. Archdale Parkhill, secretary of the Liberal
Association in Sydney, and contains this statement -
This extravagant expenditure cannot be carried on without money. Most of it has been wrung from the pockets of the people by increased taxation. The increase in Commonwealth taxes during this period represents - Customs, £4,569,000; land tax, £1,366,000. Total, £5>935.°°0-
It will be observed that he speaks, not of the yield from the Customs, but of the increased taxation imposed by the Labour Government. Except as to the land tax, which returned £1,366,000, the statement of Mr. Parkhill is absolutely incorrect. It was the increased Customs yield resulting from the greater prosperity that added to the revenue. There is no doubt that the people who received this pamphlet in their homes would come to the con.clusion that the Labour party were a bad lot.
– It was a tax put on by the Liberals.
– Exactly, before we came into office. Mr. Parkhill goes on to point out that this increased taxation represents £1 15s. for every man, woman, and child, or counting five to the family, about £8 5s. additional taxation for each household. What are the Government going to do to reduce this taxation ?
– The revenue is coming down.
– Apparently it is. I now desire to say a word or two about the Northern Territory, which, as representing an issue, would be sufficient, if there were no other question under consideration, to cause me to vote against the present Government. We are told that the Government propose to bring in a Land Bill to provide for the granting of freehold in the Territory. The question of tenure is a burning one everywhere; and I realize that a man who advocates leasehold has very often a great prejudice to encounter, owing to the ignorance of the people as to what leasehold from the Crown in perpetuity really means. There is an idea that leasehold from the Crown is similar to leasehold from a private individual; but, as we all know, there is a vast difference. Even the freehold that is given to-day by the Crown is conditional, and the freehold given in the Northern Territory will, we are told, also be conditional. This is in order to prevent the aggregation of large estates, and is a very wise provision that
I should support in any Land Bill. Any banking or other financial institution, in advancing money on a property, must take into consideration the conditions, if they foreclose, to deal with a property, and if the holder of such a freehold as is suggested is unable to sell to another person who already has an estate, that to an extent is a disadvantage. The lease is an instrument granted by the Crown just as is a deed. What is a lease but an instrument granted by the Crown on certain specified conditions ? It gives a lease in perpetuity providing that certain things are done, but it means that a holder and his family will always be able to keep the lease in their possession unless they desire to dispose of it, in which case all they have to do is to obtain a buyer for the lease and improvements. They would thus sell the land just as they would a fee-simple, subject to the same conditions that will be imposed in regard to the freehold. The people, however, do not understand the matter or regard it in that light. They have been accustomed to deal with private individuals, who may, perhaps, own miles of land, and who, when they lease land to men like myself, for instance, make certain conditions and always reserve the right to themselves at the expiration of the lease to put it up to auction or tender. The result very often is that a better price is obtained, simply and solely owing to the work done by the previous lessee, who may, perhaps, have toiled with his sons for five or six years. Land which may have been worth, say, £1 per acre when first taken up, is, on account of this work, worth £2 at the expiration of the lease. The lessee has, since taking up the land, cleared it and built a home; and then the private owner invites tenders, and hands it over to some one else, who may be willing to pay a few shillings more. Is it any wonder that the people of Australia, and farmers in particular, who have held leaseholds from private individuals, imagine that under the Crown they will be trapped as they have been trapped before. Only a few months ago, on an estate in my electorate, a man, after he had been on the land for some years, had to pay almost a third more than its value in order to retain the home he had built by his own exertion. This man will never be able to eke out an existence, because, like others, he has had to borrow, and the land will not yield sufficient for him to maintain his family and pay the interest. After all, the true value of land to the farmer is its productive value ; and if he takes land at a price above that value he is bound to fail miserably. In the case I have mentioned the man will lose everything; and the same has occurred in many instances. I feel very warmly on this question, which I have dealt with on more than one occasion elsewhere. The time has arrived in this country when we should see that justice is given to every individual, and when there should be tenant right to improvements. A man who takes up land and improves it with his earnings should not be at the mercy of the owner, but, when ousted, should be entitled to the full value of those improvements. Strange to say, we never hear those men who most constantly condemn leasehold under the Crown say anything against leasehold granted by private individuals. It is all right if a private person owns the land and reaps a big income, probably residing in some other part of the world. Strong objection is taken, however, when the Government propose to deal fairly and squarely with the people by giving them leases in perpetuity, and permitting them to make homes under the best of landlords. Nothing could have been better than the ordinance of the ex-Minister of External Affairs, who, in the case of the Northern Territory, proposed to give the first 5,000 settlers homes without cost, with liberal concessions to future settlers. We ought to conserve to the people all the improvements made by the expenditure of public money; and in the Northern Territory, under the leasehold system, there would be a constant source of income for the Commonwealth, with reappraisements every twenty or thirty years, and a right to the tenants in all the improvements made. Any other improvements, which may be comprehended in the unearned increment, should go to the Crown and the people; and when the question comes before the House I shall deem it my duty to take a very prominent part in the discussion of the new Land Bill. I shall not, if I can prevent it, permit any departure from the leasehold system. I am not afraid of meeting strong advocates of the freehold system outside. I am fully prepared to explain and defend my views, and am satisfied that the people will approve of my action. I have conceived it to be my duty to express my opinion on these important questions that are contained in the indictment against the Government, because this occasion affords one of the few opportunities we have of explaining our views. Asfar as the Government are concerned, what the Prime Minister has said outside is correct - that they are in office, but not in power; but in making that admission the Prime Minister ackowledged his absoluteincompetence to deal with the affairs oi this country. He says that there is much to do administratively. I hope, however, that we shall not have a continuance of the kind of administrative work to which we have been treated during the last few weeks. Let us be honorable men. Do not let us go through the departmental records to see whether we can rake up anything that will tell against our predecessors. To the credit of the party with which I am associated, I will say that when they occupied the Ministerial benches no Minister ever went through his Department endeavouring to dig up things against his predecessor. Ministers acted in an honorable manner. I trust that we shall hear no more of efforts of the kind. Quite sufficient has been done in that direction. The party opposite have endeavoured to work up a case against the late Government on account, of the Fitzroy Dock. But the attack hasfailed all along the line. It never made much of an impression in Sydney. Why ? Because the workmen in Sydney who were acquainted with the dock were able ta spread the true facts about the suburbs. Every one who had any knowledge of the matter was aware that the late Government took over the dock at a valuation which was made by competent men. They knew all about the defects in the machinery. They were not misled in any way.. They paid for the dock what it was fairly considered to be worth. It has beenstated, and will, I believe, on further investigation, prove to be true, that thecharges made in regard to the state of theboilers are utterly fallacious. As a matter of fact, the manager of the dock wasperfectly well aware of the state of theboilers, and, being a careful and capableman, always took precautions to insurethat the men working there should besafe. He never allowed the boilers to be worked up to their full power. He didnot permit steam to be got up beyond acertain pressure, considerably under what, tests showed the boilers to be capable of: standing. There was absolutely no danger. That being the case, why should such an indictment be made against the late Government as that they made a bad bargain, and perpetrated an injustice on the people of Australia, seeing that they took over the dock at its true value, and were fully acquainted with the state of the machinery, which they intended to improve? The very gentleman who reported upon the boilers was, I believe, instructed to formulate a report in regard to what new machinery and power was required. That instruction was given by the late Minister of Defence himself, and it proves that Senator Pearce knew what the deficiencies of the dock were. If Senator Pearce had had to take action upon the report upon the boilers, he would have done what any sensible man would do under the circumstances - allowed work to be continued as long as he knew that it was safe for the boilers to be worked, and that there was no liability to explosion.
– But Senator Pearce is not a scaremonger.
– No, he is not. The scare was only worked up in order to damage this party. I should not be sorry if there were an appeal to the people. We all know that it is the unexpected that happens in politics. We cannot tell what may occur in a House where the Government depend upon a majority of one, and that the casting vote of the Speaker. Much clamour has been raised by the Ministerial party about our obstructing the business of the country. It is said that we will not permit the Government to do any business. I reply that we have given them a fair deal from the inception of this Parliament. We have not taken advantage of our opportunities. We did not complain when we sat behind the Government because three weeks were occupied by a debate on the AddressinReply, recognising that honorable members had a perfect right to place their views before the country. Surely we should have the same right. As long as the Government bring forward legislation which will be beneficial to the people, and will keep their hands off legislation passed in the previous Parliament, they will find that we shall give them a fair amount of support. But as soon as they attempt to do anything which we consider to be detrimental to the best interests of the community, they will encounter strong opposition. We shall fight to the last ditch in defence of the principles which we have embodied in the statute-book. We are not afraid to face the people tomorrow. If the Prime Minister feels that he is in office but not in power, why does he not take steps to appeal to our masters, and let them decide which party shall be in power ?
– Why do not the senators give up their seats ?
– Just imagine an honorable member asking why the senators do not abandon their seats !
– The Labour party would lose their majority then.
– One-half of the senators had to go before the country three months ago, along with the House of Representatives. They were elected on exactly the same franchise as we were. The Ministerial party in the Senate went to the electors fourteen strong, and they came back seven strong. If they lost seven seats three months ago when half the number of senators went out, the fair inference is that if they went to the country again they would come back with none. The object of the Ministerial party is merely to make the people believe that it is necessary that they should decide, but they know full well that the people do not realize how difficult it is to secure a double dissolution.
– Tell us the total number of votes polled for each party in the Senate.
– Surely the honorable member has enough business acumen to be aware that it is not a question of the total number of votes polled, but of the number polled in each State, according to the Constitution. What a curious thing it is to hear an honorable member talking about the total number of votes polled as a reason for asking for a double dissolution ! It is plain for every one to see, however, that honorable members opposite have no idea of going to the country. They merely want the people to believe that they are desirous of doing something. It is useless to talk about a double dissolution, because the members of the Government know perfectly well that it would take eighteen months to reach that stage in the most favorable circumstances. And, after all, the matter rests with a certain gentleman elsewhere as to whether he will grant a double dissolution. It may be that the Government will find that he takes quite a different view of the case when matters come to the point. If the Prime Minister is satisfied that he cannot carry on, I say that any man occupying such a high and exalted position should recognise that there is but one course open to him. Let him take steps to bring about an appeal to the people, in order that they may decide. They are the final arbiters. I fear not the result. If the verdict should be against us, I should be perfectly satisfied to obey it, and I have no doubt whatever that the Senate would accept the decision of the people, and pass the legislation sent up to them. Until that is done, however, we wish the Government to understand that we shall strenuously, all along the line, resist any attempt to repeal legislation which, we previously enacted, until such time as we can submit ourselves again to the arbitrament of our masters.
.- In the game of, politics, however often we may have to worry one another in this Chamber, it fortunately happens that we can still be good friends outside. Before I hit out - and I propose to do so, as far as I possibly can - I desire to say a few words on pleasanter subjects. A little later on I intend to prove, if possible, that not only does the Attorney-General belong to a union which believes in preference to its members more strongly than does any other union with which I am acquainted, but I will show clearly that the Attorney-General does what the great Asquith said he would not allow a Cabinet Minister in England to do. I purpose to prove that he is a member of an illegal association, which has defied an Act of Parliament passed in the State of which he once was Premier. But before dealing with those points, I wish to pay a compliment to the Postmaster-General. He has shown a great deal of common sense in issuing an order for the carriage of mails on the suburban traffic by motor. Previously the mails used to arrive at Spencer-street station, and were carried along the ramps into the train in a very old-fashioned style. I compliment the honorable gentleman on the improvement he has effected, and do so all the more heartily because information about it has not got into the press. I must also say that I am glad that he has decided to wipe out the kangaroo stamp. I was very sick and sorry at seeing such a design adopted as being artistic. I have here a stamp, formerly issued in New South Wales, which does show a kangaroo standing up as if he were fighting; but the kangaroo we have lately bad on our stamps looks as if he had a belly-ache, or as if, after a fight with another kangaroo, he had received a blow on the solar plexus. What objection can there be to representing upon our stamps the finest constellation in our southern skies, the Southern Cross? Or why not follow an example set by Tasmania, which, before Federation, had upon her stamps one of the most beautiful views in the world ? Why not exhibit on our stamps a view of the beautiful Sydney Harbor, or of Mount Kosciusko? In Western Australia, also, there- was at one time a stamp which might bs an example to the Postmaster- General.
It is not often that I can pay a compliment to the Prime Minister. As I intend to hit him a little later, I might as well pay him a meed of praise now. It was certainly an act of statesmanship to send for the genius, Mr. W. B. Griffin, who won the first prize for a design for our Federal Capital. The exMinister of Home Affairs knows that I worried him repeatedly to invite that gentleman to Australia, for to any thinking man the idea of asking three men in the Department to alter a marvel of genius like that design for the Capital would be as sensible as asking an ordinary artist to change a chef d’ceuvre such as a picture by a great artist like Velasquez, Tintoretto, or Millet. The idea is too absurd to be considered for a moment. When I spoke on the subject to Colonel Owen, one of the three departmental officers, he quite agreed with me that the genius who devised the design should be invited here. I want to acknowledge, from my place in the House, that Colonel Owen recognised at once that the man whose genius devised a plan for what may possibly be the most beautiful city this world has ever seen, should alone have the dominant power of altering and amending the design. I learned from Colonel Owen that even his colleagues concurred in his view, and thought that it was the best course to take.
I will not speak in reference to the AttorneyGeneral, because he is absent from the Chamber.
– Have you not the rules of the Lawyers’ Union?
– I think that I shall say enough about the lawyers before I have finished. When a battle is over I always like to recall those who have been lost by the wayside. I will speak first of a profession that I greatly detest - I would - like to use a stronger word, but the personal equation comes in - a profession in which I have many very dear and wellbeloved friends. I am alluding to the legal profession. Thirteen lawyers went out of the last House - and honorable members know whose number that is - and faced their constituents. Pour of them failed to return, but four new members came back, keeping up the same number, known as the devil’s number, which is rather appropriate to the brigade, I believe.
In the last House we had four titles, but the Democracy of Australia, as shown by the vote, wiped out two of them. I want to pay my meed of praise and regret to the memory of a man whom every honorable gentleman, no matter whether in temporary opposition or otherwise, knew to be one of the biggesthearted, most lovable men who have appeared in the firmament of politics - I allude to Sir William Lyne. At present we have only two titled men in the House, and my honorable friends opposite have all the pleasure of their company.
Much has been said about the Senate being dissolved. We have also read a great deal in the press about bribery and corruption being extant throughout Australia, and of double voting. The constituency I have the privilege of representing has 45,258 electors on its roll. There were 27,325 ballot-papers issued, and there were only eighteen supposedly double votes - “ supposedly,” I say, because even the electoral officers never stated definitely that they were double votes, but said that mistakes might occur. I had some inquiries made, and I found that in the most aristocratic part of my constituency - that is, in East Melbourne - there were double as many cases as there were in Bourke electorate. Naturally, I made inquiries, and found that in three cases three individuals bearing exactly the same name, lived in the district. I have followed very closely the action of the head of the Electoral Department, and I must pay Mr. Oldham the compliment of saying that I believe he has capably and honestly carried out the intention of Parliament as enunciated in the last Electoral Bill. Through the courtesy of Mr. Lawson, who had charge of the State of Victoria, I had an opportunity of inspecting the splendid card system. lt recalled to memory that I was a visitor to County Sligo during the last fight in which Mr’. Parnell took part. I was against him ; I am sorry to say : he was wrong in that election. I was with the whole of the party. Will honorable members believe for a moment that when theyran short of ballot-papers at a little polling booth I was asked to take a supply of ballot-papers there? That is how they managed elections in the Old Country. In my belief, after much study of the electoral laws of various countries, in no country is there a more up-to-date roll, or is an election carried out more honestly, than in Australia. Mr. Miller, one of the best officers I have ever met, also worked so hard, night and day, that he became ill, but still worked, though I, as a medical mau, told him that he ought to go to his bed awd rot work any longer. If there is an amendment of the electoral law, I hope that it will limit somewhat the scope of the absent vote; for to me it is absurd that any one should be allowed to go into a polling booth in the next subdivision when it is only half or three-quarters of a mile distant from his own subdivision. I would limit the exercise of the absent vote to places outside a radius of at least 5 miles from the voter’s nearest pollingbooth, and then two-thirds of the wor!< which nearly broke down the electoral officers would be eliminated. Let us consider the cry of why should not the Senate go to the country. I can imagine that if the Leader of the Government was on this side of the House, and any one ‘dared to make that remark - why even you, Mr. Speaker, with your urbane temperament, would have a great deal of difficulty in controlling him. “ The idea,” the Prime Minister would say, “ that when our party has a minority of one in this House, and a majority of twenty-nine to seven in the other, the Senate should be sent to the country.” Let us look at the figures. The Labour party went out of the last House 41 strong; they lost 11 seats and gained 7 seats, coming back with 37 members. The two Independents went out of the House and failed to return. The ConservativeLiberals went out 32 strong; they lost 7 seats, gained 13 seats, and number 38 here, with the magnificent majority of one.
– No majority; she is dead level-pegging.
– Call it what you will, I count my honorable friend the Speaker as one. With the magnificent majority of one, the Government has the splendid audacity of asking that the Senate be required to go before the country. In the last Parliament there were 22 Labour men in the Senate; 4 of them went out, and 11 were returned, making a total of 29. Fourteen Liberals went out, 2 of them becoming Independents before election day. Out of those 14, only 7 came back. Never was there such a debacle With 37 representatives in this House, and 29 in the Senate, the Labour party numbers 66. The Liberal-Conservatives number 38 here, and 7 in the other place, making a total of 45.
– Let us have a joint sitting.
– That reminds me of the time when Mr. Prendergast and I were the only two who opposed the election to the Senate of Mr. Robert Reid, concerning whom a Judge in Queensland said, “ This irascible old gentleman was guilty in eighteen cases in reference to Customs,” and perjury was committed in these cases.
– On nineteen different counts.
– I know that the number was nearly a score - nearly the Rip van Winkle number. There were only two against his election at the joint sitting of the two Houses of the State Parliament. Where would this Ministry be at a joint sitting ? We went out to the country sixty-three strong, and came back with sixty-six, increasing our strength by three, and then our honorable friends opposite tell us that the people were tired of us.
The people were not tired of us ; they were misled by the thundering of the newspapers. Had the Labour party followed the tactics which the present Government would follow, we could have had the support of one newspaper which certainly did cause havoc in the country districts again good, tested Protectionists. The Age would have supported us if we had brought in a Tariff Bill. I regret that it was not brought in.
– You have no guarantee of that.
– I have some guarantee.
– They would have found another excuse. You would have been in the same position.
– I have some guarantee. I have fought the Age longer than has any member of the House. I have hit that newspaper as hard as any man has hit it, but I must say that on the question of Protection I have never known it to waver. I have always found it going straight for the mark.
– You are the only man in Australia who could say that.
– I am glad that my honorable friend recognises that I am man enough to make the statement; I feel sure that he thinks that I believe it. However, what did the Age do? Why did it not make a difference in the majority of the honorable member for Yarra, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and myself? Because, for the first time in the history of Australia - possibly in the history of the world - the platform faced the press on equal terms. There is no anonymity, no alias used on the platform. Why should these things be used iu the press ? Very few acts of mine do I claim greater credit for than that I was one of those who were instrumental in making journalists sign their leading articles. I had the privilege of getting the last House to carry unanimously a resolution on this subject, and I wish that the Postmaster-General could be armed with a provision in the Post and Telegraph Act that every leading article in a newspaper should be signed, so that no skulking coward could shelter himself behind a nom-de-plume. I lost a friend whom I loved dearly because a man was coward, enough to write to a newspaper a letter which he would not have dared to write if he had had to sign his name. Why, in God’s name, should any man be ashamed of giving his name in a newspaper? Let vis look to some of the Himalayan journalists who have appeared and disappeared. “ Telemachus “ was known as a writer for the Australasian, not only throughout Australia, but even in far-off England. But this writer - Frank Myers was his name - has disappeared. All the men of genius who write leading articles should have the credit of the authorship. I am glad to see that the
Edinburgh Quarterly has, after nearly a century of anonymity, come out with signed articles. If this matter were put before the people to be voted on, they would, I feel sure, want to know the names of the writers of articles, and, in spite of newspapers and newspaper domination, much better articles would be written. We have been assured that, owing to the splendid seasons that we have experienced during recent years, nothing can prevent our progress. But I find by reference to figures which have been compiled by Mr. Laughton, the Government Statistician of Victoria, that in March of the present year there were 1,965,000 less sheep in this State than there were the year previously, that there were 107,000 less pigs, 95,000 less other cattle, and 43,000 less dairy cows.
What is the opinion of the man in the street upon the present political situation ? If he were consulted he would probably say, “A plague on both your parties; get to wor is.” But how can we get to work 1 There are seventyfive members of this House, and they are divided into two equal parties - one representing the forward, and the other the backward brigade. I believe that in 1889 I was innocently the cause of the introduction into our political warfare of that terrible word “ caucus.” During the last election campaign I received from an officer in the Railway Department a document which I had forwarded to him in 3889, and upon which I had scribbled, ‘ Be very careful of this ; it is the only copy I have. ‘ ‘ Reference to that document will show that I am responsible for the introduction of the word “caucus” into ordinary everyday politics, because I then wrote - [f returned it is my intention to have a select committee formed from the 200 gentlemen who now constitute my general committee on the lines of the Birmingham caucus. It will be their duty to watch over my movements in the House, and call me to account should I fail to carry out my promises. If I fail to justify my action to them, their course will then be to convene a meeting of the whole electorate, at which I shall be present, with my resignation ready to place in the hands of the chairman, in the event of the vote of the meeting going against me.
Is it not pitiable in these days of advancement that our system of party government should so hopelessly divide seventy-five patriotic men ? I do not believe there is an honorable member upon the opposite side of the Chamber who would intentionally injure Australia or her people as a whole. Yet nothing that the party with which I am associated can do is good in the eyes of the Government supporters. If the electors had the power of the initiative, we would be able to obtain their opinion of matters just as it is obtained in Switzerland and in twentytwo of the States of America. Some time ago I was delighted to receive from the leader of the Opposition a telegram, in reply to a wire which I had despatched to him, congratulating him on his promise that the late Government would adopt the referendum and initiative. How small we must appear in the eyes of other nations when, with a population of only 4,600,000, we could not take a vote upon seven questions at the last election 1 Why, at the last election in Ohio, which is the fourth State of the American Union, and which has a population of 4,761,315, a vote was taken on forty-two questions, thirty-four of which were carried.
– Did the electors understand them all ?
– I would advise my friend to take a trip to America for the purpose of asking them. One of those proposals related to the expenditure of 50,000,000 dollars upon the roads of the State, and another dealt with the welfare of persons who are employed in factories. The third proposal was the adoption of the referendum and the initiative. If one were to divide the map of the United States vertically, all the States except six which would appear on the left-hand side already have the referendum and initiative, and seven of them have also adopted the recall. In those seven States it is within the power of the people to recall a highlypaid Minister or a highly-paid public servant - or even a Judge from the Bench - should he misbehave himself. In six of the States, containing over 12,000,000 electors, they voted last November for the referendum and the initiative. Surely we in Australia should have the right to say what legislation Parliament shall enact ! We have no difficulties to face, such as obtain in the Swiss Parliament. There, three languages are spoken. If the Prime Minister were a member of that Parliament, and delivered one of those miraculous speeches with which he sometimes favours us, another member of that Parliament would have the right to say, “ I want that speech translated into the language which
I understand,” and still another member might demand its translation into a different language.
– Is there always a quorum present there?
– Yes, a complete majority, and they fine members who are absent. The Swiss Parliament meets at 8 o’clock in the morning during the summer months, and adjourns for lunch at 1 o’clock. It resumes at 2 p.m., and adjourns at 5 p.m. During the winter it meets at 9 o’clock in the morning. The telegram which I received from my respected chief- reads -
Eidsold, Queensland, 7th April.
Wire received. Reciprocate congratulations to first representative advocate initiative referendum Australia.
I hold in my hand a letter giving information supplied by the late Prime Minister It reads -
Dear Dr. Maloney,
Some few days ago I think you asked me for some information with regard to the Swiss Constitution. The Consul for Switzerland now advises me in the following terms : -
Federal Court of Justice.
Part 1. The Federal Court of Justice consists of 19 judges and 6 supplementary judges ; they are elected by the Federal Assembly. Federal Assembly means both chambers united.
Part 2. Every citizen eligible to the National Council is eligible to the Federal Court of Justice.
Part 4. All judges are elected for six years; vacancies are filled by the Federal Assembly for the rest of time.
Part 5. The President and Vice-Presidents are electedby the Federal Assembly for the term of two years (from the number of judges).
Thus every person who is eligible to enter the National Assembly is eligible to become a Judge in Switzerland. In that country, which has a population of 3,000,000, 30,000 electors are required to initiate legislation, and 50,000 are required to secure an alteration of the Constitution. Applying the same ratio to our population, 45,000 electors would have the right to demand the enactment of legislation by this Parliament; but to secure an alteration of the Constitution, 75,000 electors would be required. I maintain, therefore, that we should certainly adopt the referendum and initiative. These constitute plank No. 14 of the platform of the Labour party, which is the only party that has ever adopted them in its programme. That party makes its platform as plain as the Ten Commandments. Last session we heard a good deal about “ the man on the job.” It appears that some person saw a workman upon a Government job down South Yarra way smoking a cigarette, and he at once wrote to the Argus about it. Poor old Argus with the hundred eyes, and all of them on the squint ! I am going to give my idea of “ the man on the job.” There is a gentleman who was a member of this House for a period of twelve years. During that time, out of a possible 1,110 attendances, he attended only 533 sittings. He was absent from 577, and drew £3,000 for nonattendance. Another member of the last Parliament had an opportunity of attending on 249 sitting days, but he was absent on 152, and present on only ninety-seven, and he drew £1,000 for non-attendance. That is a pretty good illustration of “ the man on the job.” In the Senate, during the first session of the last Parliament, the eight senators who attended every possible sitting were Labour men. During the second session, of two senators who attended upon every sitting day, one was a Labour man and the other was a Fusionist. During the third session of that Parliament the two senators who attended every sitting were both Labour men. Thus, out of a total of twelve senators who attended every sitting, eleven were Labour men and one was a Fusionist. That is the kind of “man on the job” business which deserves to be exposed. To the honorable member for Darwin belongs the honour of having attended more sessions of Parliament, without missing a single day, than any other honorable member, though the honorable member for Yarra, however, runs him very close.
– I just beat him.
– I wish to see introduced a measure providing for the referendum and the initiative. For such a measure the Government would be able to command the votes of the Opposition, since it would cover a plank in our platform to which we desire to give effect. I would rather die in the gutters of Melbourne a miserable beggar, and have the honour of having introduced such a measure, than die a multimillionaire. If the Government would bring in a Bill providing for the referendum, initiative and recall, it would prove more enduring to their memories than any monument towering to the skies. The A ge of 1st June declared -
Mr. Cook whittles new Protection down to the vanishing point.
The Argus, which is a much fairer opponent than are other newspapers which ought to be on our side, on the 24th May last published a paragraph in reference to the placing of an order for 307 miles of cloth to be made in the Commonwealth. It stated -
Delivery of the cloth is to be made at the rate per month of one-twelfth of the total order, the first consignment being made available on July 31next. Three years ago it would have been practically impossible to obtain in Australia large quantities of material, but the industry has so advanced, owing in a large measure to the stimulus given by Defence orders, that almost any order can be taken up by manufacturing houses in the Commonwealth at a moment’s notice.
That is a great feather in the cap of Protection. The Age of 9th February, 1910, said -
Protection was never in greater danger than it is to-day. It is in the keeping of a Government which is half Free Trade and which is openlypreferring Free Trade candidates to Protectionistones.
That was published prior to the Liberal debacle of 1910. Let us see what the A ge had to say as to the possible leaders of the present Government. In its issue of 10th January last, quoting from the Sydney press as to who would be likely to wear Mr. Deakin’s mantle, it explained that one Sydney evening journal summed up the position in this way -
Mr. Cook’s fiscal views are badly in his way -
Yet the Liberal Government is supposed to be a Protectionist one - and, further, long years in Opposition have made him acrid and have developed in him the ability to obstruct rather than to construct. Mr. Irvine is icy of brain, coldly suspicious of democracy, and without one glowing instinct of progress in his mind. Sir John Forrest, a bluff old warrior, lacking the habit and faculty of thought, is simply a joke.
I do not wish to labour this question of the Tariff; but I may say at once that I am a Protectionist up to the point of prohibition. It is useless in these days to talk of 15 per cent. or 20 per cent. duties. I hold in my hand a box of safety matches made in England by sweated women and girls, who are paid 2½d. per gross of boxes, and have to find their own paste. The Japanese can make these boxes for less than1d. per gross. What, then, is the good of a duty of even 1,000 per cent. on such matches? The Japanese exploited the Sydney market by selling these matches as trade union matches until I brought the matter before the then Minister of Trade and Customs. The average contents of a box of European-made matches is from 55 to 60, but the Japanese are putting 100 matches in a box. There is a duty of1s. per gross on foreign-made matches; whereas, in the case of matches produced in the Home land a preference of 6d. per gross is enjoyed. By putting double the usual quantity of matches into a box, the Japanese are able to introduce their matches into the Commonwealth on unequal terms. The honorable member for Capricornia has given certain figures showing that wages have increased in Japan; but when I went Home for the Coronation as a representative Australian, I garnered a very interesting leaflet which throws some light on the subject. In this leaflet we have a copy of the motion proposed by Mr. Will Crooks in the House of Commons in regard to the payment of a minimum wage for a working week of sixty hours. The motion reads -
That the right of every family in the country to an income sufficient to maintain its members in decency and comfort should be recognised, and this House is therefore of opinion that a general minimum of 30s. per week for every adult worker should be established by law, and also declares that the Government should set an example by adopting this standard in its own work-shops.
Could I give a more terrible illustration of the effect of long hours and insufficient nourishment, as the result of sweating, than is furnished by the figures in relation to the average height of men enrolled in the British Army. In the early forties, it was 5 ft. 6 in. In the sixties, this was lowered to 5 ft. 5 in. ; in the following decade, to 5 ft. 4 in.; in the eighties, to 5 ft. 3 in. ; in the nineties, to 5 ft. 2 in. ; and at the time of the Boer war, to 5 feet. Even then, 75 per cent. of the men offering for service as British soldiers were rejected, because they were physically unfit. While on the Continent of Europe, I never saw the misery that I witnessed in England. I never saw so many hungry men and pale-faced women as I saw in the Old Country. I never saw there a body of workers so healthy as those at the Newport workshops, except when I visited Port Sunlight, where I met with a fine body of men and women, and listened to a Socialistic speech by Mr. Lever. That gentleman said that he had not established Port Sunlight for the sake of charity. He had been led to do so as a keen business proposition.
– He said he was not a philanthropist.
– Those were his words. He told us that he did not wish to see his workers coming to work tired after hanging on to the straps of trams, because there was no seating room. He therefore built them, at Port Sunlight, healthy cottages, which he let on the basis of a 3 per cent, return, and so furnished them with healthy homes and small garden plots. The result of his enterprise is that the death-rate at Port Sunlight is but one-half that which prevails but 200 yards away, where the heavy mortality is due very largely to insanitary conditions and unfair living. The hours of the workers at Port Sunlight are forty-five in the case of the women, aud forty-eight in the case of the men. ‘ All are given a chance of obtaining an interest in Lever’s big business concern. The same remark will apply to Cadbury ‘s employe’s. Both Fry and Cadbury, following out the splendid legend of the Quaker race, are now trying to get a cocoa that is not grown by coloured labour. I would remind honorable members that Germany was, comparatively speaking, a poor country before it adopted Protection. But, in 1911, the savings of the people in the German Savings Bank amounted to £945,000,000 as against £227,000,000, the accumulated savings of the people of the United Kingdom. Within the space of fifteen years, the Savings Bank deposits in Germany increased from £50,000,000 to £945,000,000. I visited the homes of the workers in Germany, and did not see in Berlin one slum as narrow as is the roadway running from Little Collinsstreet along Cole’s Book Arcade. I did not see any hungry men or women there, and, what is more, Berlin has no Thames embankment, with its shivering women and hungry men. I recognise that neither Free Trade nor Protection will abolish poverty. Hong Kong is the only Free Trade place that I have visited, and there, in the year 1905, 1,100 bodies were thrown into the street, 200 of that number having died from the plague, smallpox, and cholera. England is a Revenue Tariff country, but she raises through the Customs more per head of her population than does any European nation, with the exception of Scandinavia. While neither
Protection nor Free Trade will abolish poverty, it cannot be denied that Protection will build up for us a body of skilled artisans and workers, so that when the State is wise enough to have Government workshops, we shall have educated workers ready to man them, and masters of industry prepared to overlook and manage them.
I regret that the Attorney-General is not present.
– There is not a Minister present. Move the adjournment of the House.
– I have not as much courage as my honorable friend has. While the Attorney-General is being sought, I would point out that a Select Committee, appointed by the House of Commons, selected the towns of Batley and Dewsbury as representing the woollen trade of England, and compared the wages prevailing there with those ruling in two towns in Germany, viz., Forst and Cattbus, as nearly as possible alike. It was found that in every case, save in regard to heavy woollens, the German wages were higher than those ruling in the industry in England. I purpose now to prove that the Attorney-General is a member of a union which gives effect to preference to unionists more firmly and strongly, and in more deadly a manner, than any other union with which I am acquainted. According to a report in the Age of 23rd August last, he stated that there is no profession that demands a higher standard of honour from those engaged in it than does the Bar. No one has spoken more strongly against preference to unionists than has. the Attorney-General. He has said that he feels it a duty - or words to that effect- - to remove from the statute-book the provision granting preference to unionists. I shall show that there is no difference be: tween preference to unionists when theyare members of a trade union and the preference given to the members of what iscalled the Bar Association. There are two legal unions, the Bar Association or Union - I do not know its exact name, because it does not appear in print, and one can get at the facts only indirectly - and the Law Institute. To those whoask, Is there a union of barristers ? I reply, “ Yes, there is such a union, and it exists in defiance of an Act of Parliament. Moreover, the Attorney-General is at thehead of it.” He is its chairman, or oc-
Cup188 some corresponding position. The first name on a list that is posted outside the window of a clerk - a charming gentleman and an old friend of mine, though I do not wish the Attorney-General to think that it was from him that I got my information, because it was not - is W. H. Irvine; the next is Weigall; the next, McArthur ; the next, Pigott - not the honorable member for Calare - the next, Maxwell; the next, Schutt; the next, Starke; and the last, Sproule, the secretary being Latham.
– Is Maxwell in itf He is a Christian.
– I dare say he is, by accident and when outside the Court; I do not think that any lawyer can be a Christian in Court. This union is not registered. It ought to come out into the light of day and register openly. Trade unions are registered under the Arbitration Act, but the Barristers Union is an unregistered union. It secretly controls its members, and is, in fact, a caucus in the most extreme sense of the word. If any member does anything contrary to its rules - not contrary to the laws of the country, but contrary to a code drawn up by a coterie - the others will not accept briefs to act with him, thus endeavouring to prevent him from earning a living. Does the Attorney-General deny that if any member of the Bar acted with what is called an “ amalgam “ - a man practising his profession in accordance with the laws of the land - he would refuse a brief to appear with him ?
– He is an intrinsic trade unionist.
– The Law Institute Union is not as unfair as the Bar Union. The Attorney-General once occupied the high and important position of Premier of Victoria, his majority being the largest that I have had any experience of - I think it was thirty-five in a House of ninety-five members. Had he felt that the law was wrong, it was his duty as Premier to move to amend it, instead of breaking it secretly and trying to injure fellow members of his profession.
– To what law does the honorable member refer ?
– To the Legal Profession Practice Act.
– What does it Jo?
– It was an attempt to make certain barristers honest. The measure was last introduced into the Victorian Assembly by Mr. Mason, whose motion was seconded by Mr. Sterry. At the time Mr. Munro was Premier of Victoria, and that brilliant man, Mr.. Shiels - who had been Premier and had held other portfolios at various times - Attorney-General. A similar Bill had been passed time and again, and rejected by the body of fossils known as the Legislative Council of Victoria, on one occasion by one vote only. During the discussion of the second reading, a case was mentioned in which a barrister had received forty guineas to appear before the Pull Court. He went snooting, and did not appear, but nevertheless kept the fee. That was a fine standard of honour to observe ! It was pointed out, too, that a. barrister could accept briefs to appear in various Courts and appear only in one, taking payment for all, without his clients having any redress. These were honorable gentlemen ! As honorable as Mark Antony thought some of his opponents. It was mentioned that Lord Chief Justice Coleridge had expressed the opinion that the amalgamation of the legal profession was near at hand, and that Sir Edward Clarke, when SolicitorGeneral, had favoured it. The history of the measure shows the infamy of the second Chamber when the people have not the control of Parliament by means of the referendum and the initiative. The first Bill was introduced in 1875, and passed by the Victorian Assembly unanimously. That happened again in 1878. In 1879, the Bill was discharged from the Chamber because the end of the session came before it could be reached. That happened again in 1880. In 1881 and in 1882 it was passed unanimously. In 1884, the second reading was carried byfifty to six, and, in 1885, by thirty-seven votes to eight. In 1886, it was passed unanimously, and, in 1890, it was discharged from the paper at the end of the session. According to the Hansard report, Sir Bryan O’Loghlen advocated a. college of justice to take from the Judge* jurisdiction in regard to the admission of barristers. The idiocy of the law was never so patent as in the provision which held good at that time, that a barrister, if residing 20 miles outside of Melbourne, could meet a client and deal with him directly, but if nearer would have to deal through a solicitor. The wonderful University of Melbourne came to the assistance of the barristers, who, although such honorable men, could rob their clients in the way I have shown. I feel a little angry when dealing with this subject, because I have suffered personally. The University of Melbourne petitioned Parliament to throw out the Bill. Mr. Mason asked some questions on the subject. These are the questions -
To them, the following replies were given by Mr. Munro -
To the last question, no answer could be given. In the debate, Mr. Young quoted the Hon. Sir William Zeal, who had said -
If in the practice of my profession I’ undertake to do certain work for a constituent, and fail to carry out my undertaking, my constituent can obtain heavy damages from me in a court of law. Why should the barrister who fails to do his duty be exempt from similar liability? Barristers have at times to defend men who are in peril of liberty if not of life; and I have known such clients to be deserted by their barristers at the eleventh hour.
Could the letters of the English alphabet form a word sufficient to express the contempt which should be poured upon such an action ? Sir William Zeal, a man honoured with a title by Her Majesty Queen Victoria, and occupying a position of distinction in this State, thought it necessary to support the measure in the words that I have read. That measure is the Act that the Attorney-General breaks surreptitiously and secretly. When I heard that a coterie of barristers was illegally and unjustly defying and defeating an Act of Parliament, I asked the Victorian Attorney-General of the day - Mr. William Shiels - for whom I am sure the present Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral has a great respect -
Whether his attention had been directed to the fact that it was alleged that a number of practising barristers had entered into a con- spiracy for the purpose of defeating an Act which was passed by Parliament during the present session, and if he was prepared to take some action in the matter? The question had been so well thrashed out by the Melbourne press -
I pay my meed of praise to the Age and the Argus. They spoke in no uncertain tone about this despicable conduct, which is still being persisted in. I said that I could, not do better than to read what had appeared in the press, and I read the following quotation from the Argus of the 5th December, 1891-
It is by no means compatible with the dignity, nay, with the honesty, of the bar to seek now to neutralize, by direct and underhand means that will not bear the light of day - perhaps not even the light of the criminal law.
I further said -
That was followed by a statement in the Age of the same date, to the effect that the tactics of the Bar Association had been demonstrated to be of a desperate and thoroughly despicable character, that “ no trades union has ever attempted to go so far in the direction of prohibiting freedom of contract,” and that the members of the Bar Association, while claiming to embody the conscience of the profession, were “really looking after their own fat fees.” He trusted that the honorable gentleman would not allow what struck him as a layman to be an infringement of the rights of Parliament, and, he might also say, a certain amount of contempt offered to this House.
Mr. Shiels said, in speaking to my question, that; - he had no official knowledge on the matter at all, but simply the information he had gathered from the press, and at this stage he really did not know whether an association had been formed by a number of practising barristers, or whether the rules which had been published in the newspapers were rules of an association that had been formed, or merely a draft of- rules for a contemplated association….. Year bv year, as honorable members knew, he had felt it to be his duty to speak against that measure and to vote against it, but now that it had been placed on the statute-book it deserved from him and every man, whether he had opposed it or not, the same implicit obedience that he gave to those Acts of Parliament of which he did approve. The action by which it was sought to defeat the Act appeared to him to be not only wrong and indefensible but utterly inconsistent with the profession of the bar, and also with the attitude which he understood the bar to take up with reference to the recent labour troubles.
That law has not been removed from the statute-book of Victoria, although the Attorney-General has been not only AttorneyGeneral of the State, but even Premier. Old members with a knowledge of the labour troubles in Victoria in 1891 will recognise the applicability of the argument of Mr. Shiels against the’ action of the legal profession. I am glad to say that the Age of last Friday showed some of the splendid fighting power of the olden times in commenting on a case in which a Mr. Morley, a barrister, had attended Court without a fee written on his brief. It is quite possible that Mr. Morley desired to charge a small fee to an unfortunate client who could not pay more. This puts me in mind of Sir Archibald Michie, at one time one of the foremost men of Victoria, who, because he accepted a small fee, was threatened with being brought before the Bar Association, which is as private a caucus as could be imagined. Sir Archibald, however, was as witty as he was great, and his reply was, “ Well, I took all the man had, and if you think that is unprofessional, I am done with it,” In the case commented on in the Age of last Friday, the barrister had appeared without a fee marked on a folded piece of foolscap; and then the Judge, in all the glory of his wig and feathers, delivered himself to the effect that the Legislature had given to members of the Bar the exclusive right to practise in the Courts, and the Bar should do its best to command the confidence of the Legislature and the public. The comment of the Age on this was that the Legislature, so far from giving this exclusive right to the barristers, had taken away from them all the exclusive rights they had ever legally enjoyed. Section 10 of this State Act provides “ that no person shall be permitted to practise as barrister or solicitor solely, but every person admitted to the Supreme Court shall be admitted both as barrister and solicitor.” This Bar Association is an association formed to defy and destroy an Act of Parliament; and one of the principal movers in it is the present AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth. It is his duty as a man to resign from that union. If a solicitor were to meet the AttorneyGeneral in one of the higher Courts, where justice is supposed to be dispensed, the Attorney-General would refuse to appear with him, and thereby might tend to injure that solicitor in the earning of his livelihood. I should like to know of such an action being taken by a trade union. Trade unionism is held in such honour in Denmark - which is, perhaps, the most educated country in Europe today - that the Government desire all workers to join, and when money is distributed to the unemployed, unionists are actually used to pay the non-unionists their weekly allowance. The Age went on to say - . . . the Victorian Parliament passed a law some years ago with the avowed object of amalgamating the two branches of the legal profession ; that this law abrogated the exclusive right of “members of the bar” to practise in the Courts, and that it sought to simplify procedure and lo reduce the expenses of litigants by permitting solicitors to practise in the Courts as well as_ barristers. The law, in fact, made every solicitor a barrister, and its central intention was, in opening the Courts to solicitors, to abolish the necessity of either making or marking briefs, by allowing any solicitor who pleased both to prepare the case in his office and to plead it in the Courts….. It shows how successful the legal profession has been in setting the will of Parliament at nought and ia keeping the people in helpless subjection to the Bill of Costs.
I pay my meed of praise to the Age newspaper for that article, which stamps the Attorney-General as breaking and defying the law. I have shown that Judge Hodges was either woefully ignorant of the law he has sworn to administer, or he used a perverted judgment, and he actually threatened to send the barrister, not to an open Court, where the press is represented, but to a private caucus, of which the Attorney-General is a member. When the Home Rule Bill was before the British Parliament, Mr. William Waldorf Astor, a multi-millionaire, who, by the power of his money bags, had been able to leave his country and become a naturalized British subject, desired tohave a clause inserted that would have made the Constitution as iron-bound as that of the United States. This clause was opposed, in the first place, by Mr. J. Ward, a Labour member, who said that the effect of a similar provision in the United States had been to make the Supreme Court superior to Parliament, and that it was most dangerous. Then Mr. Asquith, the great Prime Minister of England, whom I wish our AttorneyGeneral would follow in regard to the highest ethics of the law, said -
I don’t want to see this clause put into the Irish Constitution. If you adopt this clause you are enthroning your judiciary as the ultimate tribunal of appeal. You must not limit the powers of the Legislature which you intend to create. No Government is sound unless the lawmakers have the supreme power. We in England can’t afford to give our Judges the power to say that the laws we make are bad. Judges are too far away from the people, and they understand too little of the people’s wishes anil difficulties to give them such power. Look at the trouble the United States is having about this very matter.
If that is good enough for England it is good enough for our beloved Australia. Here we have a Judge and a private caucus or coterie of barristers flouting an Act of Parliament ; and I stamp every member of that Bar Association as endeavouring to destroy the law of the land. When the Bill dealing with barristers was before the State Parliament, the present member for Kooyong, who was a member of that Parliament, felt that the people of the State were suffering under an injustice, and he moved a clause, which was carried without debate, so much did it appeal to the common sense of the members, to the effect that no- barrister or solicitor should be entitled to costs as between party and party or between solicitor and client for instructions or for attendance on counsel, and so forth, where he or his partner or partners were acting and receiving a fee as counsel for attending in the same matter and for the same client. He did his duty in trying to keep down costs. Clause 5 was passed for the purpose of controlling barristers. Previously, a Judge had no power over them if they were rude to him, though he could severely punish any solicitor. Parliament placed both barristers and solicitors on an equality. The clause provided also that every barrister could recover costs, but should be liable for negligence just as a solicitor was. Previous to that, a barrister could, in plain language, rob his client, and there was no recourse at law. The idea that he could not sue for his costs was all bunkum. It was one of the myths surrounding the legal profession. Clause 7 provided that no barrister or solicitor was to be deemed an officer of the Supreme Court. A solicitor previously was not an officer of the Court, and could be punished, but a barrister could not be. Furthermore, the Act provided that any barrister or solicitor who did not give substantial attendance must return his fees as the prothonotary or taxing master directed; also lie was made liable for negligence. Again, clause 10 provided that no person should be permitted to practise as a barrister or solicitor solely, but that every person admitted by the Supreme Court should be admitted both as a barrister and solicitor. As long as that provision stands in an Act of Parliament, every barrister belonging to the Barristers Association is striving to break the law. I have before me a letter signed by a great lawyer in Denmark. I shall not attempt to read it in the original, but shall read a translation. This gentleman had given advice to a client, a Mr. Christesen, who had decided, after an experience of this country, to come to live here. His father died, and he was advised to go to law in reference to his will. This lawyer, Frits Buelow, wrote a letter to him, which informed him what had occurred -
Copenhagen, 16th December, 1909.
Supreme Court Barrister.
Dear Mr. Christesen, ‘
I regret to have to inform you that the Supreme Court has confirmed the judgment of the County Court in your action against Mr. Thomsen, and sentenced you to pay costs.
The costs to the County and Supreme Courts in connexion with your action against Mr. Thora.sen, Supreme Court Barrister Ree and myself, have agreed to pay between us, so that, at any rate, you will have no expense in connexion with this case.
With kind regards,
Yours sincerely, (Signed) Frits Buelow.
The writer of that letter is now the AttorneyGeneral of Denmark. He is a sufficiently great lawyer to occupy that high position. Grunlund, in his Co-operative Commonwealth, has something to say on this question. He tells us that in Denmark, if two men have a dispute, say, about a matter of £20, and if Brown, who owes the money, is prepared to pay £15, and Smith, to whom it is due, will not accept that sum, they are not permitted to go to law. They go before a magistrate, who is called a pacificator. He may advise the creditor to accept the smaller amount. If that is refused, the pacificator appoints a day for hearing both parties. The cost of the proceedings amounts to about 8d. The evidence is taken down in writing. No barrister or solicitor is allowed to appear. But when a decision is given the case may be taken to a higher court. Both parties can then be represented by lawyers, but no fresh evidence can be called. The advocates must argue upon the written evidence. Is it any wonder that in Denmark the method of administering justice has earned the encomiums of students all over the world ? One more point, and I have done with the AttorneyGeneral. He may recall the time when I was a loyal follower of his. We differed afterwards, because he failed to carry out a policy which I hoped that he would maintain. My hopes of him were greater than he justified. His term as Premier of Victoria was distinguished bytwo measures, one of which was the Strike
Coercion Bill, and the other the Separate Representation Bill. By the latter measure every police magistrate, every policeman, every civil servant, was robbed of his rights of citizenship, and could only vote for certain individuals. I am glad to say that two out of the three elected were Labour men, and the other one should have been a Labour man, because he signed our platform. The Government have appointed to the chairmanship of the Inter-State Commission a man who some time ago showed the white feather in a way that I have never seen equalled. Mr. Piddington, because a few members of the Lawyers’ Trade Union did not think that he was fit to be a High Court Judge, climbed down. If he was not fit to be a High Court Judge he was not fit to be the Chairman of the InterState Commission. I enter my protest against his appointment, and if ever we secure the power of a recall I shall vote to remove him. There are in Australia 52,000 permanent public servants, 13,000 temporary officers, and 15,000 exempted men, making a total of 80,000. The railways employ 60,392, including a salaried staff of 7,600 and 52,792 others, being a total of over 140,392. The Attorney-General has been accused by the leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in the State Parliament of having said from the platform that, under similar circumstances as occurred in Victoria some years ago, he would help to bring in a Bill in this Parliament to treat the public servants of Australia as he treated the public servants of Victoria some years ago. I defy him to try it. He dare not. I venture to tell him that if, as is rumoured, he is appointed Chief Justice of the High Court, groans and curses will leap to the lips of the public servants, who have neither forgotten nor forgiven the way he robbed them of their rights of citizenship when he had that massive majority of thirty-five. Since then years have passed over and have whitened his hair. Now he sits in a Government with a majority of one, and I tell him to his face that he dare not do it. As for the talk of a dissolution, although I sit for a constituency which gave me an enormous majority, I cannot say that I should welcome anything of the kind. I should not. I should like both parties in this House to pass a Bill providing for the referendum and initiative, giving the people complete control over
Parliament. At present they have control only once in three years. They ought to have control for every day, and every hour, in the three years. I trust that we shall not again see a Judge of the Supreme Court so far forgetting himself as to defy the law of the land which lie has taken an oath to uphold. If we do, I trust that the power of recall will be established, and will be used to remove him from the Bench. I make no attack upon the Courts. I believe that our Courts are as pure as any in the world. Although we have copied the English Judicature system, I believe that our Courts are even better than those in England. But we must remember that twothirds of the law is not statute law, but Judge-made law. I should gladly welcome the passing of a law to provide that no law or decision should be quoted and be binding for longer than ten years. If that were done, we should not witness such a spectacle as we have had lately, when the charities of Victoria were robbed by a decision of the Supreme Court. My old friend, Charles Forrest, used to say to me that when he died his money would do good to the poor and needy. But the charities have been robbed, not by an unjust decision, but by a legal interpretation of the wording of Mr. Forrest’s will. If ever a man wished to leave all he had to charity it was my old friend Charles Forrest, a man by whose side I sat in Parliament for years, and who often spoke to me with satisfaction of the good that his money would do. Yet these legal gentlemen, by finesse or otherwise, have robbed the charities of the good that he intended to do. I trust that the day will come when the Judges of this country will be elected by Parliament, as they are in Switzerland. When that is brought about, there will be more justice in the land. At present, we have in this city a building which cost £300,000, and which is used, not for the administration of justice, but for raising points of law. My honorable friend the member for Capricornia has spoken of the nationalization of health. I have advocated a policy of that kind for many years, and I should also like to see the complete nationalization of law. Once again I venture to make an appeal to the Government, and especially to the Prime Minister. Let him accept the principle of the referendum and initiative, as advocated by the Age newspaper, which gave his party four seats in Victoria. It is a coming question, as shown by the fact that twenty-two States in America have adopted it. Why should we not extend the hand of friendship to each other, pass a measure of that kind, and then go to the country? If he does that he will erect such a monument for himself that I think future generations might even find themselves capable of blessing him.
.- After this gentle and delicate tribute to the profession to which I have the honour to belong, it is not unfitting, perhaps, that I should say a few words.
– You do not belong to the Bar Association.
– We have just listened to an eloquent speech from my honorable friend and colleague, and I am sure that, although the strength of our friendship and our political association is so strong, he cannot have any hope that I agree with some of the things he said about the legal profession. Fortunately, there is no clause in the party programme which, even in the view of our opponents, binds me to accept his views, in their entirety at any rate. I do, of course, accept them in part, but I think the honorable member is inconsistent, as I will proceed to show. He, as a strong unionist - I am a strong unionist, a believer in unionism, and a fighter for unionism - denounces as illegal and improper the unionism of the AttorneyGeneral.
– Not if its members come out and own it.
– If I must discuss this subject, I say that the AttorneyGeneral does belong to a union - the Bar Association - but I do not denounce him as a law-breaker for that. I commend him for it, and my only regret is that I am not in the union, too. I should have liked to be. My colleague, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, is a member of the Bar Association, and I do not think he is ashamed of it.
– He does not blackguard the other preference to unionist.
– My honorable friends on this side - and they are my friends, politically and privately - have more than once made assaults on the legal profession. I would remind them that that profession has sent into this very Chamber some of the best Democrats it has ever seen.
– Judge Higinbotham.
– There is one example, and others might well be mentioned. In my view, there is no profession which, man for man, or by and large, sets or lives up to a higher standard of honour than does that profession.
– Since the Amalgamation Act was passed.
– I am bound to say so much in justice to myself and to those who make their livelihood, like I do, in another branch of the profession. I will say no more on the subject. On other subjects I see eye to eye with my honorable friend.
– There is a hospital for free medicine, but there is no hospital for free justice.
– There are two great professions ; of one my honorable friend is a member, and of the other I am a member. I come now to the amendment, and on this I think we on this side can entirely agree. Remembering that we have been described as a “ leather-lunged pack of furies ‘ ‘ by the Prime Minister, I join with some hesitation., and, perhaps, natural fear, with my leather-lunged colleagues in saying a word or two in respect of the amendment. Do I make any apology for doing it? None whatever. If we had not been debating this amendment we would have been debating the AddressinReply to the speech of the GovernorGeneral. More than that, there is an obligation resting upon every honorable member on this side - one which I consider to be little less than a sacred duty - to register an emphatic protest against some of the cardinal proposals contained in this piece of paper which is now under consideration. I am a man of peace, for I belong to the Christian Brotherhood, of which the honorable member for Darwin is The Chief. It has been said by press critics that I remarked immediately after the elections that I would not allow, so far as I was able to prevent it, a sacrilegious finger to be placed on any part of the Labour legislation of the last Parliament. A newspaper critic has twitted me with the fact that a sacrilegious finger is sought to be put on a great deal of that legislation by the proposals of the present Government. I would remind my critic that a finger is not sacrilegious, according to my view, in the political sense, unless it is superimposed with the prospect, or at least the intention, of moving or impressing the object which is to be affected by it. The mere fact of a finger pointing is not sacrilege. It may be rude to point, but it is not sacrilege. In other words, the sacrilegious finger, of which I was speaking, was not a fingerpost. We must draw that distinction. So long as our Liberal friends content themselves with merely indicating with this finger, not the road which they intend to go, but which the country is to believe they intend to go, and which they would like to go, as the honorable member for Gwydir interjects, so long will the finger cease to be sacrilegious within my view. I would like the Prime Minister to listen to reason in this matter - not to go abroad and talk about leatherlunged time-wasters. Mere vituperation is not argument; mere reference to “howling dingoes” cannot possibly convince anybody, and as a man of peace I would suggest to the honorable gentleman who leads the House that he should pay fair deference - reasonable respect - to the observations of honorable members on this side in regard to the difficult position in which we are placed. I put it to the Prime Minister that there are three courses open to him. He realizes and admits that without our co-operation no business can be done here in this Parliament. In those circumstances, h3 can do one of three things. He can take immediate steps to go to our masters, the electors. He can introduce matters of controversy - that is, matters on which it is worth while to have a controversy, and which we may advance to some extent by controversy. I see that in the policy paper there are some matters which might well be considered by the House. I notice that the Minister for External Affairs has indicated to honorable members the lines on which the proposed legislation in regard to national insurance on a contributory basis, embracing sickness, accident, maternity, widowhood, and unemployment is to proceed. Here, in themselves, are some matters which might well be discussed in a sane, reasonable manner on the floor of the House. There are a great many other questions within the jurisdiction of the Federal Parliament which, as honorable members have pointed out, we might discuss here with profit and progress. What do the Government elect to do? They elect neither to go to the country at once, and say they are unable to carry on, nor to promise us something on which we might be able to come to a basis of agreement. Most honorable members have said, “ We are ready to go to the country.” I think that the electors treated me about as generously as they treated any man on this side of the Chamber. I stand about fourth on the list of those who obtained a very large majority; but, while that is so, we have to remember that we have just como from the country. I am very hopeful and, indeed, confident that we would win on an appeal to the people, but, after all, there is no paper reason, so to speak, by which we can satisfy ourselves that the verdict of the people, if sought immediately, would be greatly different from that given at the election held a short time ago. We have to remember also that an election is a costly business, and, further, that the general public are not fond of elections.
– It is a very doubtful business.
– It is a very doubtful business generally, and the people as a whole do not care to have any more elections than they can help. They are not quite such dreadful things to the general public as they are to honorable members, I admit, but still the public are not fond of elections being held too frequently.
– No more is the Prime Minister.
– I am well aware of that, but heaven knows that with all the Parliaments there are in Australia we get too many elections, generally speaking. The three positions I put before the House are - one, that we go at once to the country; two, that we spend time in debating items of legislation which this party is absolutely pledged to oppose; and, three, that we spend time here considering matters of national concern on which we might ultimately come to an agreement. The only indication we have of immediate legislation relates to matters such as the re-introduction of the postal vote, the robbing of unionists of their political rights as citizens, and the reinstatement of the policy of land monopoly in the Northern Territory. It is just as well that the country should know - and no time will be lost in impressing upon the country - that the Labour party are absolutely opposed to these things. We could not, if we would, go back upon our promises to the electors. The electors sent us here on the distinct understanding that we would stand by our principles here assailed. In these circumstances, it is unthinkable that we will so far forget the trust which has been reposed in us as to permit of the passing of measures against our view of what is right. I understand that the Prime Minister says it is absurd to suppose that any Government would introduce legislation merely because they knew that it would be acceptable to the Opposition. I would remind him that the circumstances in which he finds himself are very peculiar. He has to suit himself to those extraordinary circumstances as best he can. In this House there is an equal number of members upon either side, whilst in the Senate there is an overwhelming majority in opposition to the Government. The Prime Minister should, therefore, either appeal to the country - recognising the present situation straight away as an impossible one - or he should introduce legislation which is likely to be acceptable to this House. Anything short of that is the veriest sham and humbug. It is nonsense to pretend that we will sanction the robbing of unionists of their rights. He knows perfectly well that any attempt of that sort is foredoomed to failure. It seems to me that it is nothing short of playing to the gallery. Having uttered these few words of wisdom, and having given the Prime Minister a hint or two as to how he should run this country, 1 will pass on to another topic. We are nearing the end of the debate, and after the Prime Minister has listened to me with that benevolent patience which characterizes him, I hope that he will come forward with an announcement that the Government intend to fall in with our wishes. I can assure him that I am not one of the leather-lunged desperadoes who wish to hold up the business of the country. But I do desire to say a few words in reference to the Government policy. I have already said that I will fight - because I must fight, both from conviction and from a sense of duty - the restoration of the postal vote. I wish to put this aspect of the case to the Government. Almost every honorable member upon this side of the House has quoted instances in which, from his point of view, the postal vote has been misused. I am not going to prove these particular cases. The answer given to them has been, ‘ ‘ Why do you not prosecute the offenders?” that is not a legitimate answer. It is not a question of whether we can successfully prosecute and convict individuals; it is a question of whether the system of voting commands anything like public confidence. If there is one thing more than another which ought to be pure, it is our electoral law. If that law is corrupt, then the whole edifice of Democracy reared on it will be of unstable character. Our electoral law should be sound, and, as far as possible, pure. My honorable friends opposite, I dare say, will agree with that view. Now, the great test of purity is public confidence. When we find - as we do find in this House - parties equally divided, it is the strongest possible indication that the postal vote does not command public confidence, for that was one of the matters on which we were returned. We are about to appeal to the great jury of the people. But whenever you are about to appeal to a jury, I would remind the honorable member for Melbourne that you have the right of challenge. There is the obligation imposed upon us of seeing that the jury as far as possible is a clean one - a jury free from all bias. In other words, every effort should be made to insure a fair trial. In attempting to restore the postal vote, which, according to the results of the last election, is absolutely distasteful to at least one-half of the people of Australia, the action of the Government is tantamount to saying, “ We will make our appeal to the people, but before we do so we shall see that the jury is packed.” We have had sufficient instances of how the postal vote was misused. It is not necessary to repeat them. But I cannot pass from this subject without asking honorable members “ Who are the members of this party who talk about enfranchising electors whom the Labour party has disfranchised?” Extending the franchise forsooth ! They are the class of persons who, aided by their press friends and associations like the Women’s National League, have done everything in their power to prevent the extension of the franchise when it was attempted by our party. They and their press friends have during the whole history of the franchise campaign consistently opposed every exten- sion of the franchise. The honorable member for Kooyong, in whose electorate more postal votes were recorded than were recorded in the whole of Western Australia - a circumstance which requires a little explanation - was one of them. When his attention was called to this matter, he said that the reason more postal votes were registered there was that the people of Victoria were more used to the system. He added that they were getting still more used to it. I suppose they would shortly have become so used to it that it would not have been necessary for his electors to go to the ballot-box at all. They would have been able to record their votes in the most expeditious manner without having the obligation imposed upon them of attending a polling booth. But the honorable member should cast his memory back to the period when he represented a portion of my constituency, namely, Fitzroy. I would like to know what his views would have been if he had been representing Kooyong in those days, when he told the -Legislative Assembly of Victoria that the time was not yet ripe for the extension of the franchise to women. Not a few women, but all women, were to be disfranchised. Similarly, Mr. Robert Harper, who represented Mernda in the last Parliament, opposed the extension of the franchise, not merely to sick women, but to all women, and also to “ mere “ working men. The principle of one adult one vote was anathema to him. It was, too, to the honorable member for Grampians, who now says -
At present they had universal suffrage. If it was proved to work for the good of the people it would be sill right. However, he thought tt would be better to take the ratepayers’ roll for electing members of Parliament. The man in the street should not have a vote if he is riot on the ratepayers’ roll. The waster, the loafer, and beer-sparrer should be debarred from voting. Why should such men be placed on the same standing as those who are industrious and a credit to the nation? Owing to bad government during the past three years this grand country was practically mortgaged for the next twenty-five years.
Golden words from the honorable member for Grampians ! I would remind him that, if he will trace the history of the struggle of the masses for emancipation and the right to vote, if he will look into the dens in which some men live in this and other countries, he will probably find that their condition as wasters and beer.sparrers is the direct result of legislation which men like himself and his lineal political ancestors have placed upon the statute-book. I think that it is an act of political indecency to talk of restoring the crude system of the postal vote in the present circumstances and in opposition to the wish of, at least, one-half of the voters of Australia. Honorable members opposite say that the Labour party are opposed to postal voting because the majority of the postal votes were recorded against us. That, however, carries us no further, since the answer to it is simply that the Ministerial party wish to reinstate the system because they obtained under it a few more votes than we. Rather than raise that argument, it would be only fair to ask honorable members opposite to explain why they did get more postal votes in those cases where the majority of votes cast at the ballot-box were favorable to the Labour candidate. If they would give us some honest explanation of that rather remarkable phenomenon, it would be more to the point than is their action in merely accusing us of political dishonesty because we object to a certain system of recording votes which we say is open to abuse, has been abused, and reinstates all the old troubles incidental to men and women recording their votes in the presence of those interested in having them recorded in a certain way.
– It does away with the secrecy of the ballot.
– It does. It brings us back to those old-time conditions when the employe recorded his vote at his peril in the presence of the employer; when the tenant recorded his vote at his peril in the presence and with the knowledge of his landlord. It brings us back to those times of oppression which it is the proud boast of the Labour party it has done so much to abolish. I wish to tell honorable members opposite that I would welcome any safe proposal - and the responsibility rests on them rather than upon us, to make one - that would give facilities for sick persons to record their votes. I shall welcome any proposal that can be safely introduced which will have the effect of extending the franchise to any person who would be likely otherwise to be disfranchised. But it must be a proposal which is free from those grave objections that have been pointed out in regard to the exercise of the postal vote. For instance, in regard to the absentvoting system, a scare was raised which proved to be a mare’s nest. It was greedily seized upon by the Liberal party and their friends in the press as a scandal which they thought they might work up against us, but the threatened explosion proved to be a mere squib.
– They were disappointed.
– Yes. That is no uncommon experience, so far as we are concerned. We are not entirely unused to such a thing. While that is so, I am quite prepared to see the system of absent voting submitted to any reasonable test. I do not stand pledged to any particular form of absent voting. I am prepared to see the present system surrounded by any safeguards that can be suggested as likely to improve it. I do not say that we must have the system of absent voting exactly as it is at present, although honorable members opposite declare that we must have a certain system of postal voting. If they can suggest a better form of absent voting, let us have it with greater security, if greater security be needed. My final word upon the subject is that, while the Liberal party went into hysterics in regard to the absent-voting system, it has been proved, so far as the inquiry has gone, to be absolutely free from abuse; whereas, so far as we have gone into the question of postal voting, our case that it is inherently open to abuse, and that it has been abused in hundreds of instances, is substantially proved. The case against postal voting on grounds of public policy and public confidence has been made out. Perhaps at this stage the Prime Minister will agree that I should have leave to continue my remarks to-morrow.
– Not yet.
– I am quite prepared to go on, more especially as the Attorney-General, whom we do not always have with us, is present. I am going to ask him to do me the honour of listening to some observations concerning the subject of industrial unrest. I should like to have a heart to heart talk with him, as one fellow unionist to another, about this matter. It is curious that, in the last Parliament, one of the great complaints made against the Labour party was - indeed, if I remember rightly, it was one of the grounds of the want of confidence motion levelled against the Labour party - that we had failed to deal adequately with the great problem of industrial unrest. That was one of the Liberal party’s grounds of attack. The question of industrial unrest is undoubtedly most important. I certainly would be the last to underrate it; yet we find that the present Government, after the storm they raised throughout the country as to the cause and effect of industrial unrest, have presented a programme - which, by our grace, they were allowed to digest and consider for a month - in which they make but two propositions for its settlement. Mark what these propositions are. In the first place, they propose to deprive one section of the people - the unionists, and that the most law-abiding section - of their political rights; while, secondly, they propose to drive another section of the workers outside the law altogether. That is the sum and substance of their political programme in regard to the great question of industrial unrest. Let me deal briefly with the question of preference to unionists. My words will be few, but I hope they will be enough. I am in the very happy position of knowing that the Attorney-General largely agrees with me, or, rather, that I largely agree with him upon this subject. The AttorneyGeneral says, “ I would wipe out preference of every kind.” On that point,I am not in agreement with him.
– Legal preference.
– The honorable gentleman said that he would wipe out legal preference altogether. When he made that statement, there were cheers from the ranks of Tuscany - from the party behind the Government. Nevertheless, his party is bound to the principle of legal preference to unionists; that is inferentially admittedin their programme. It is very interesting to know that the Attorney-General does not believe in the principle, and that honorable members of his party applaud him when he says that he does not believe in it. But, after all, beyond the fact that it shows that both the Cabinet and its supporters are somewhat divided on the question, it is not a matter of practical politics. The philosophic negatives of the Attorney-General will carry us no further. They may be interesting, but they do not advance us one step.He says that he would wipe out all sorts of legal preference. His party, on the other hand, is committed to preference to unionists, as I understand, subject to the condition whichwas imposed in the original Act. In other words, as the policy statement sets forth, they would prohibit preference to unionists being granted by the Court to members of any organization, any part of whose funds are directly or indirectly applicable to political purposes. That is the principle upon which, under certain conditions, preference is to be denied to Unionists; but honorable members opposite concede that, in certain other conditions, preference should be granted to unionists. I wish honorable members to mark that. I do not say that the Liberal party are very keen about the matter, or even that they really believe in it, but it is their avowed policy. They recognise that public opinion is strongly in favour of the principle, and they come here, therefore, with a proposal for a modified preference to unionists. One of the reasons for this must be that they recognise that arbitration is based upon preference. Another must be that they realize that the man who, as a member of an organization, submits himself to the arbitrament of the Court, and gives up his right to strike - a man who is a real friend tohis fellow workers - should fee entitled, under certain conditions, to preference. These must be some of the reasons which move honorable members opposite to say that they will give preference to unionists under certain conditions. We say that the reasons are overwhelmingly in favour of the principle, and, at least, they are sufficient to move the Government to. put preference to unionists in their policy, save where it is proved that a union’s funds are devoted to political purposes. If. these reasons or any of them, are sufficient to induce the Government to propose preference to unionists, I ask the Attorney- General, and his supporters, how they can consistently deprive any man of the benefits of preference - to which they say he is entitled, for these reasons, or some other - merely because he holds certain political views. The position works down to that. There is no logical escape from it. The Attorney-General, I feel certain, knows perfectly well that there is no escape from it, and that is where I agree with him. I am not attributing to him something which he does not say, but this must be in his mind when he says, “ I would wipe away all preference.”
– All legally enforcible preferences, certainly.
– He would wipe that away altogether; but his colleagues are favorable to the retention of legallyenforced preference under certain conditions.
– They have two opinions on that side.
– Yes, but I am concerned only with the opinion of the Government. If men are entitled to preference for any of the reasons which I have put before the House - reasons which appeal overwhelmingly to those on this side, and with sufficient force to our opponents - how can the Liberal party, standing for Democracy and equal rights, in the name of freedom, say,” You shall not use union funds for advancing opinions which are distasteful to us; if you do you shall be robbed of the preference to which you are entitled.” If a political opinion is a legal one, it does not matter how extravagant it may be. The Minister of Trade and Customs said the other night, “ I have heard of unionists who talk about making war on capitalism, who talk about the eternal war that must go on between capital and labour.” He seemed to think that it would be an enormity to give such men preference. A war on capital might be a good thing or a bad thing, but every free man is entitled to hold what political opinion he likes, so long as he respects the rights of his fellows. If a union thinks that a war on capital is a proper thing to attempt, why should it notuse its funds to propagate that opinion ?
– Capital is dangerous.
– I am not committing myself to any opinion on the subject. My point is that it is illogical in the extreme for gentlemen who talk about liberty and equal rights for all to try to rob a section of the community of its rights because of political opinions that are distasteful to them. It is they who are drawing distinctions between class and class, and who are penalizing one section as against others. It is they who are creating class antagonism. Can there be any doubt in the minds of those who have heard this discussion that the antipathy to preference to unionists is based, not on the application of union funds for political purposes, but on the application of those funds for political purposes antagonistic to the Liberal party? Honorable members opposite have quoted rule books and balance-sheets to show bow much money has been spent by unions in management, and how little has been distributed in benefits. I remind them that it is no longer the chief business of unions to distribute doles and pecuniary relief to their members. Their object is avowedly and openly, by co-operative effort, to bring about the passing of laws giving equal rights to all men. If it pleases the unions to use their funds to obtain the best management and the best organizers for their work, they are abundantly justified in so using them. When honorable members opposite say, “ We believe in trade unionism, but not in political unionism,” they say in effect, “ We believe in unionism with its teeth drawn; in pious gatherings of persons who solemnly desire to benefit each other, but have no power to do so; we do not believe in unionism which means the organized efforts of men who have not only the will but the power to effect legislative reforms.” I am utterly unable to understand the mental attitude of honorable members opposite who talk about equal opportunity and equal freedom for all, and whose first legislative proposal is to hamstring a section of the community so that it shall not injure them at the ballot-box. In regard to the expenditure of unions on management, I would remind honorable members opposite of a fact that they should write in red letters, keeping it before their eyes when they go to the country, and thinking deeply about it when they go to bed at night, namely, that many thousands of pounds of union money have been spent in an absolutely unequal effort to get the benefits promised by thearbitration laws. Honorable members opposite invited the workers to register under the Arbitration Act and to avoid industrial strife by the peaceful method of the Court. If you look at the long list of cases brought before the Arbitration Court, many of them, as the honorable member for Melbourne said, taken on to the High Court, you will find that those who have been invited and persuaded to allow their disputes to be settled on their merits have been fought by the employers on questions of jurisdiction, technical questions of law, and constitutional limitations. It is a poor enough thing in any circumstances to fight men who are trying to obtain only a living wage; but the questions that have engrossed the
Courts and made the unions heart-sick have been questions not connected with the merits of the disputes. I speak from personal experience. It ill becomes those who represent the class responsible for this to talk of unionists defying the law. In no single instance have the employers extended the hand of friendship to the workers, saying, “ Let us put aside technicalities and questions of jurisdiction, and have your claims dealt with on their merits.” Had that been done, there would have been a hundred successful appeals to the Arbitration Court where there have been only ten, and the usefulness of the Court, about which we have heard so much, would have been established beyond criticism. If the Court has done little good, the fault is wholly and solely that of the party opposite, and of their friends outside, who have done their level best to prevent it from becoming the benevolent institution which it could be. With all its limitations, and with all the hostility and animosity which has been shown by the employing class, respondents in the different causes that the workmen have brought before it, the Court has worked a great deal of good in the community, not only in the awards actually given, but more particularly in the industrial agreements that have been filed and conciliation conferences. It is extraordinary the misapprehension that seems to exist, and the misrepresentation that constantly takes place in regard to the operation of the Act. I always regarded the honorable member for Wimmera as a fair-minded man in debate, but even he spoke of the Court acting withoutregard to local or climatic conditions. If the honorable member had read the history of a single case, he would have known that the Court does not adjudicate without regard to such conditions, but always pays the fullest regard to them. Such fancied disregard is not the cause of the dissatisfaction with the Court; the cause is, as I have said, the hostility of one section of the people, who, although they invite the workmen to come in, pillory them as soon as they do so. It is not too much to say that those people have taken the very life blood out of the workmen who have invoked the aid of what ought to be a peaceful tribunal. Owing to the lateness of the hour, I ask leave to continue my speech at next sitting.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to ventilate a matter which is of sufficient importance to justify my claiming the attention of the House at this hour. I have to-day received a wire from Fremantle, which states that twelv-3 men were dismissed on Friday at the Henderson Naval Base; that there are now no survey hands employed there, and only one gang working on the water. The wire also says that it is reported that the naval men are to act as watchmen, and that the work will be closing in a week or two, there being now only forty men engaged in this particular work.
– From whom is the wire ?
– From the secretary of th3 Trades Hall, Fremantle, who happens to be also secretary to the union with which those men are associated. The; question of the construction of a nava base at Jervoise Bay has been before this House and another place at different times, and we have been trying to secure from the Government some definite statement in regard to their future action. We have found out some rather peculiar things. On the 19th of last month, the Prime Minister stated that there would be four or five years’ delay while waiting to see whether the dredging operations were a success. On the same day, there was an admission from the Prime Minister that the Henderson Base should be established at Jervoise Bay, Admiral Henderson having recommended this particular site. Then, as far back as the 13th of last month, we had the statement that it was intended to cease all work except surveying. On the 27th of last month I pointed out, and to-day I point out, that the surveyors themselves are being put off; and now we have this wire saying that no surveyors are engaged. I think there is some ground for alarm on the part of the people in the Fremantle area respecting the intentions of the Government. The Minister of Defence, in another place, has stated that the Government are acting on the advice of the first naval member of the Naval Board, and that the advice given by Admiral
Creswell was to employ an expert. I desire to draw the attention of the House to the fact that Admiral Creswell’s letter is dated the 12th August - the very day that we assembled - and that on that day there was a copy of the Government’s intentions already in print. It seems to me an extraordinary thing that the letter should be of the same date as that on which we had a statement of policy from the Government laid on the table of the House. We can, I think, reasonably ask whether this is, not a question for the Naval Board, but a question of Government policy, and whether the Cabinet are not directly responsible for the cessation of work at Cockburn Sound ? I go so far as to say that one member of the Cabinet in particular appears to be standing in the way ; and I regret to have to make this statement. On reference to Ilansard of the 21st and 22nd of last month, we find that the Treasurer, by interjection, has repeatedly stated that Mangel’s Bay, or Rockingham, is infinitely better than Jervoise Bay.
– Hear, hear! I know it is.
– It would appear that this is not a question for the determination of the Naval Board, but that the Treasurer is actually the one who is responsible for the stoppage of work at the present time.
– That is grossly unfair.
– It is “grossly”correct.
– It is grossly incorrect.
– Does the honorable member wish money to be spent in the wrong place without expert advice?
– As to expert advice, we had, in the first instance, Admiral Henderson’s report, wherein he stated that, in his opinion, Jervoise Bay is the better site. »
– He did not say so.
– I am quoting from memory, but I find now on reference to his report that Admiral Henderson said-
It appeared to me that a site in the vicinity of Jervoise Bay was best suited for naval docking requirements.
That is on page 56 of the report.
– Admiral Henderson also spoke of expert advice.
– He did; but Admiral Henderson had been over this particular sheet of water from one end to another; and, after obtaining all the local information in possession of the Government, he made that very significant remark. I should like to know exactly the position. On the 2nd September, we had the Treasurer, according to a statement in the Argus, wiring to the Mayor of Fremantle a long telegram in which he stated, amongst other things, that there was nothing in the least to be alarmed about, and that, from a Western Australian and an Australian point of view, there was reason for satisfaction, and that dredges were under order to dredge the channel. Seeing that the Fisher Administration also had a direct recommendation from the members of the Naval Board that Jervoise Bay was the better site, I cannot for the life of me understand why there is need for this cessation of work to-day. Therefore, it appears to me to be a case of Admiral Henderson supported by the Naval Board versus my right honorable friend the Treasurer. The people of Fremantle and the members of this House want to know exactly what the intentions of the Government are. Are they going to close down the works ? If so, why not be honest and open, and say so ? Why should Ministers shelter themselves behind statements to the effect that they are waiting, for further data, when, as a matter of fact, they are destroying the means whereby that data can be secured ?
– I should like to say, in reply to my honorable friend who has just sat down, that it is not a good way to get this work hurried on to hurl such charges about the chamber. To do so will not lead to the employment of another man, or to any more work being done than is being done now. All these sinister allegations about action on the part of the Treasurer are quite unworthy of “my honorable friend, and unworthy of those who are prompting him from the other end. I should like to tell my honorable friend that this Government, as long as it occupies its present position, will not have its policy dictated by any outside body whatever. Let that be distinctly understood.
– Not even from the experts ?
– All this trouble has come because of the policy of the party of which my honorable friend is a member - because of their failure to get expert advice as recommended by Admiral Henderson. Honorable members opposite have had their politics out of this thing. We have to bear the brunt of it all now. They put their men on for the elections, and have had all the benefit. Now they are abusing us, who have to “ carry the baby.” I dare say we shall be able to put up with it, but it is not fair that these charges should be made without a tittle of justification. If there is one man in this country who is anxious to get that work hurried forward, it is the Treasurer.
– His trouble is about the site. He has proved that to-night.
– The Treasurer’s trouble in regard to the site is this - and it is the trouble of every responsible man in such a situation - that it is of no use to put works down in a place with a prospect of having to shift them afterwards. That is the point to be considered.
– In other words, the Government are not going to consider the advice of the experts of the Department.
– We are taking the advice of the experts of the Department, and the Naval Board is recommending what is being done. It was the last Government that set up this Board. Honorable members opposite supported it for three years, and never once raised their voices against it.
– I was not here.
– But the honorable member’s party were here, and did not raise their voices. All these things which they are now condemning are done on the advice of a body of their own creation.
– Does the honorable gentleman allege that there is anything wrong with the Naval Board?
– No, the honorable member’s followers are doing that. Nothing has been right with the Board since they left office. Everything was right when they were in office; everything is wrong now.
– Because you are there; that is the reason.,
– I had better not add another word to that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at ii.io p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 September 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19130903_reps_5_70/>.