5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister if it is true that the Government have decided to prosecute every person within the proclaimed area surrounding Sydney who refuses to submit to vaccination ?
– I know nothing of it.
Mr. KELLY laid upon the table the following papers: -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at-
Abbotsford, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Port Augusta, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
Victoria Park, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Public Service Act - Promotion of D. P. Israel as Clerk, 4th Class, Accounts Branch, Central Staff,Department of Home Affairs, Federal Capital Territory.
Debate resumed from 3rd September (vide page 840), 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.
.- Last night I pointed out that the industrial policy of the Government may be divided into two parts - the first, providing for the deprivation of a section of the workers, and that the most lawabiding section, of their political rights; and the other, providing for the driving of a section of the workers outside of the operation of the arbitration law. It is here particularly that we see the cloven hoof. The Government is making an organized attack upon organized labour, an attack upon unionism, as unionism. I invite the attention of the honorable member for Indi to what I shall say about the rural workers. The honorable member for Barrier has touched lightly upon the subject, but it is one that the country representatives should ponder deeply. They are the chosen of the farming community, and have declared that they have come here to champion the rights of the farmers; but it is the policy of the Government that they support that the rural workers shall not be allowed recourse to the Commonwealth arbitration law for the settlement of industrial disputes and the determination of industrial conditions. The honorable member for Indi, speaking in this Chamber, said that the Labour party had tried to fix upon the Liberals the responsibility for this legislation.
– So it did, in the constituencies.
– The Liberal party does not take responsibility for it, but it ought to do so. Let me remind the House of the history of our arbitration law. The first Bill was initiated on the 30th July, 1903, on a motion moved by Mr. Deakin affirming the expediency of appropriating revenue for the purpose, and the second reading was moved by him on the same day. The scope of the measure was shown by the speech which he then made - Hansard, volume XV., page 2879. He said -
With these exceptions -
The exceptions do not concern us at present, relating as they did to State employes and domestic workers. It is to the honour of the honorable member for Kennedy that he moved an amendment to include the latter -
With these exceptions, the Bill is unlimited in its operations, and includes all employment of every kind.
– Does it include agricultural industries?
– Yes ; all classes of employment.
Mr. Deakin was at that time Prime Minister of Australia, and at the head of a Cabinet of which the present Treasurer was a member. The Bill which he introduced received the whole-souled approbation of the present Prime Minister, who delivered a glowing panegyric upon it, saying not a word about the desirability of excluding the rural workers from its provisions, although attention had been expressly directed to the fact that they were included. As the honorable gentleman is now associated with the honorable member for Flinders, let me quote to the House part of the speech thathe then made, predicting the beneficent effects of the proposed legislation. At the time the present Attorney-General was Premier of Victoria. He said, referring to the great railway strike in this State - Hansard, volume XVI., page 4275 -
A dispute has recently been settled in Victoria, and a great triumph has been achieved, but the results of the trouble remain. The dispute has not been settled in the true sense of the term, and we may be sure that the men who have been compelled to submit to the impositions of the Victorian Government will seek the earliest opportunity to secure a redress of their grievances. I speak not as one taking sides in that dispute. I am simply relating a fact which has had abundant confirmation. Wherever a strike has been resorted to, and peacehas been secured by methods such as were recently adopted in Victoria, it has led only to the breaking out of the trouble again as soon as one side or the other has been in a position to seeka remedy for its grievances.
That was the castigation given by the Prime Minister to his present colleague, the Attorney-General. The Bill was introduced by a Liberal Minister, indorsed by the Liberal party, and approved and applauded by the present Prime Minister. But when , as the result of a division upon another aspect of this measure, the Deakin Government went out of office and the Bill was taken up by the Watson Government, a different story was told. In Committee Mr. Robinson, who then represented Wannon, moved that the rural workers should be excluded from the operation of the Bill. And what happened? Every member of the late Deakin Cabinet, with the exception of Mr. Deakin, to his honour be it said, deserted their own Bill in order to vote against the Labour party, who were proposing to carry out that which they themselves had introduced. I cannot resist the temptation to point out the attitude which was then adopted by the present Treasurer.
– Cannot the honorable member quote something that I said ?
– I am going to quote exactly what the right honorable member said, and I refer him to Hansard, volume XIX., page 2037, for verification of my quotation. On the motion of Mr. Robinson to exclude rural workers from the Bill the right honorable member said -
I have no desire to occupy the attention of the Committee at any length, but I do not wish to give a silent vote on the amendment. It may be said that the Bill as introduced by the Government of which I was a member, did not contain the provision that we are now discussing, but I must inform the Committee that I have always been opposed to the clause as it stands. My views in regard to it are well known to my late colleagues. As a member of the late Government I was in a minority in regard to it.
Mr. Mauger interjected
Had the Government remained in office the right honorable member would have voted for the clause as it stands.
The report continues -
– It is open for the honorable member to speak when I have concluded my remarks. I have already informed the Committee that I was in a minority.
Mr. Mauger. Would not the right honorable member have voted for the clause as it stands had the Government of which he was a member remained in office ?
– I should not have done so.
Mr. Mauger. That is an interesting statement.
– Although I was in a minority I was not alone -
That being so we really do not know how many members of the Deakin Government believed in this measure which they had introduced, and to which they had pledged themselves. Mark this for political morality - and it was understood, at all events by me, that this would not be regarded as a vital provision. If an amendment, such as that now before the Committee, had been moved while the late Government remained in office, they would not, so I understood, have opposed it, and that would, in my opinion, have been the best course for the present Government to pursue. … To my mind the statement made by the Prime Minister -
That was Mr. Watson - condemns the Government in its desire to force this unnecessary legislation upon the country. . . .
And this was legislation introduced by a Government of which the present Treasurer was a member -
I have no wish to use hard words unless it is necessary to do so, but when honorable members opposite seek to press such legislation on the country-
Mr. Mauger. But the Bill was introduced by the Government of which the right honorable member was a member.
– I have already said that, although I was a member of the Government, I was not in favour of this proposal. The honorable member should surely be able to comprehend that statement.
Then the honorable member for Yarra joined in the discussion -
– Why did not the right honorable member leave the late Government, if he was not in favour of their proposals.
– He would also have found it necessary to leave the Ministerial allowance.
– The honorable member for Yarra has not had any experience of Cabinets; it would be well for him to study questions relating to government and the duty of members of Ministries in regard to measures of which they do not personally approve.
– The honorable member cannot make much out of that.
– That is the standard of political ethics laid down by the Treasurer. Where are we ? Where am I, as a youthful member of this House, if I am to understand that the Treasurer possibly does not believe in the vital attacks upon the liberties of the people which his Government are now submitting to the Chamber ? Sow are we to know - beyond the fact that the AttorneyGeneral has admitted that he does not believe in parts of the Government policy - that there is not a mental reservation in the minds of many honorable members opposite against the proposals which they are submitting; that they do not intend, for example, to bring forward’ the Bill to exclude rural workers from the Arbitration Court in the hope that an amendment will be moved from one side of the House or the other which will get them out of the difficulty in which their own policy has landed them?
– The honorable member has a lot to learn.
– I have.
– A lot to learn regarding the rascality of those men.
– The Government propose to drive the rural workers outside the whole body of Federal law. In this connexion there is a point which I wish to instil into their minds. I should like the honorable member for Wannon to learn while he is still young, and to go back and admit to his constituents the condition to which he has reduced himself as a representative of rural industries. The rural workers will say, “ We were ready to submit to the law. The Federal
Parliament invited us to come under the law, and to give up our right to strike. Wewere invited to submit our claims to the peaceful arbitrament of a legally constituted tribunal. We accepted that invitation, but the very first thing you Liberals did when you got into power, if power it was, was to repulse us, to drive us out from the law, and to say that you would have nothing to do with us.” Farmers who have reposed their faith in honorable members opposite, who propose this amendment of the law, will find that they have been mistaken. The time will come when the rural workers, not weak and disorganized as they are to-day, but strong and smarting under a sense of injustice, as they will be, will organize in spite of this attempt to drive them outside the law, and will say to the Liberal party, “ Since you would not allow us to submit to the peaceful arbitrament of the law, we will form our union, and it will be a strong union. The time will come when we shall take, not what the Court will allow us - because you have refused us the right to go to the Court - but what we consider a fair thing, and we will take neither more nor less.” They will say to the farmers in such circumstances, “So far as we are concerned your crops may rot in the ground; your cows may go unmilked. Having made outlaws of us, as outlaws we shall act, and we shall imposeour claims upon you whether you will it or not.” The last state of those gentlemen will be worse than the first, and they will be sorry theydid not allow the men to have their claims settled in a peaceful and lawful manner.
– Is the honorable member still the messenger of peace he said he was?
– Then do not make threats.
– The honorable member, when speaking, declared that the rural workers are well treated.
– And I repeat it.
– Even suppose the rural workers are well treated, what rights have they at law? It is a pious platitude of every man who is in a position and has the will to rob others of their industrial or political rights, to say that they have no need of them, because they are already well treated. As in the case of countries, so in the case of individuals; good government is no substitute for self-government, and every man has the right of recourse to ‘ law without being told that he is already well and benevolently treated. It is not benevolence but rights that these men desire as members of a free community, such as this is supposed to be. The Government say that these rural workers are to be left to the States, but there is no suggestion as to how the States are to deal with them. According to the memorandum issued by the Government, the exemption is to be restored - these men are not to be robbed or deprived of their rights, but the exemption is to be restored.
– What was done when the Bill was introduced?
– The Bill was introduced by a Liberal Government, and indorsed by the present Prime Minister, including the rural workers; but while the Labour party and the Government stood by the original measure, the ‘Prime Minister and his friends deserted it.
– That is the same half story that was told in the constituencies.
– The honorable, member has had ample opportunities to tell the whole story, and the true story will be told again and again until the electors thoroughly understand the position. Then, I hope, we shall again see Mr. Parker Moloney as the Labour representative for Indi. “Mr. Ahern. - Seven members of the Cabinet and half-a-dozen other Labour men could not keep Mr. Parker Moloney as member for Indi.
– The press champions of the honorable member sent their special pleaders to Indi to write down the name of Parker Moloney. One special pleader traversed the electorate from end to end, and devoted columns of free advertisement to the present member. One of the things that this writer set out’ to prove was that the Labour party were responsible for the iniquities of the rural workers’ log ; but scarcely had the honorable, member taken the place of Parker Moloney, than the same journal turned round and said it was a blot on the policy of the Liberal party that they were seeking to deprive the rural workers of the right to go to the Arbitration Court.
– I am glad that the Age did not support me.
– Nor did the Age support me, but I think that it was responsible for a couple of thousand votes cast on my behalf. What is the position of honorable members opposite in regard to arbitration and the settlement of industrial disputes? Why do they not tell us candidly that they are absolutely against any kind of organization or the peaceful settlement of such ‘ disputes ? That is evidently their policy, as shown by their constant attacks on unionism and organization. The honorable member for Wimmera spoke of Wages Boards, but I point out that there is no proposal before us to make Wages Boards applicable in any way to Federal industrial disputes. I am not here to speak against Wages Boards as such. I remember that when Wages Boards were being constituted in Victoria it was the friends of the honorable member for Wimmera, who, inside and outside this House, did their best to have them constituted, just as they are doing their best now to have the Arbitration Court operate as they desire.
– That party opposed Wages Boards.
– They opposed Wages Boards just as they are opposing the Arbitration Court now.
– The Liberal party passed the Act which constituted Wages Boards.
– There was a Bill introduced some time ago by the Liberal Government to create a kind of InterState Commission which should have for its object the linking up of Wages Boards throughout Australia, so as to give them a Federal character. That Bill, however, has been lost in the Serbonian bog of discredited Liberal legislation. Then, it was the present Attorney-General, who, in Victoria, fastened on to the Wages Board system an Industrial Appeal Court. This simply means that every time the employers are dissatisfied with an award they go to an Appeal Court, where their case is adjudicated upon by a man who, as in a recent case, said that he is absolutely unfitted by training and experience to deal with the questions laid before him for decision. We have this opposition on the part of honorable members opposite, in face of the fact that the honorable member for Wimmera has pointed out that industry is becoming more Federal in character from day to day - that an industry of any importance extends from one State to another. The honorable member realizes perfectly that any inequality in wages or conditions, as between State and State, leads to unfair competition amongst manufacturers, and that it is in the highest degree desirable to have some degree of uniformity - not the dull, dead uniformity that we are credited with desiring, but a uniformity having due regard to climatic and other conditions. I have more to say to country members opposite, and if I do not get the opportunity on the present occasion I can assure them that they will not be entirely forgotten. There is, for instance, the honorable member for Wannon, between whom and myself there is much in common. We are both experts in regard to land. We were both on the land, and we both got off it; and he is an agent, while I am an attorney. So that, as I say, there is much in common between us in regard to our views on land settlement and land tenure. I am glad to notice that the Liberal Government propose to introduce a Land Bill. I will even be so generous as to say that, by introducing a Land Bill, if it be a good Bill, they will be adopting a .better mode of procedure than by dealing with the question by means of an Ordinance. I am prepared to concede that much to them. But I am not prepared to concede one inch in regard to the question of freehold tenure in preference to leasehold tenure as a means of land settlement in the Northern Territory. I do not need to remind the Prime Minister, certainly not for the mere purpose of recrimination, of his own drastic criticism of the policy of private ownership of land. He has said that private ownership has cursed every country in which it has been tried, and that it will curse this country - these are his own words - if it is not arrested here. Although I am not going to use the extravagant language of the Prime Minister, still, I will say this much: that monopoly in land and monopoly in the rent values have undoubtedly cursed every country in which the system has been tried, and will curse this land of ours unless arrested ; and if my seat in this House depended upon it, I would no more give a vote to hand over the Northern Territory to the vicious system upon which the rest of Australia has been settled than I would take a flight through the air in an imperfect aeroplane. This question is wrapped up very closely with the matter of taxation on the unimproved values of land - that is to say, the Federal land tax; because the method of land settlement adopted in the Northern Territory by the members of the Labour party represents an effort to retain for Australia the land values which really belong to Australia just as the land tax represents an attempt to regain for Australia some part of the rent values which have been improperly filched from the people. That is where the two aspects of our policy find common ground. The honorable member for Riverina, in speaking of the “ fetish,” as he is pleased to call it, of a tax on the unimproved value of land, says that land is only worth what it will produce.
– The honorable member for Hunter said the same yesterday.
– If the honorable member means that the value of land or the price of land is determined entirely by its productive quality, he must, on reflection, realize the absolute absurdity of his argument, because the value of land depends on many other considerations. It depends upon the facilities available for getting the produce off the land; it depends upon the nearness of the land to harbors, roads, and railways, which the people have constructed, and not merely on the quality of the soil, or the nature of the sunshine, or the amount of rain that falls.
– I - It also depends upon the land’s distance from a city.
– It depends upon that also, of course.
– Who puts the wool on the sheep’s back?
– The squatter!
– That is just where I join issue with the honorable member. The wool grows on the sheep, and when the honorable member, or any one else, cultivates the soil, he is entitled to the fruits of his labour. But what I have been contending - what I have argued in good company - is that the value which is given to land by the united action of the community as a whole should be shared, at least in some part, by the community as a whole, and should not be handed over entirely to the land monopolist. If my honorable friend does not believe me, and has not time to read up Henry George, John Stuart Mill, Adam Smith,
Ricardo, or any other authority on the subject, I refer him with perfect confidence to some excellent contributions to the subject made by the Minister of External Affairs. I refer him to that very ardent Single-taxer, the Prime Minister - at least, he was a Single-taxer, as he has been most things in his day.
– Does not the proximity of population add to the value of the work of the members of the honorable member’s profession ?
– Of course it does; but the difference between us is that whereas I get nothing but what I earn, the land monopolist gets what the general community earns.
– The honorable member charges whether he is right or wrong, but if we are wrong we make a loss.
– It is one of the imperfectionsof human nature - and even I dp not claim to be perfect - the youngest among us cannot be entirely perfect - that we are all sometimes wrong.
– There are no imperfections on the honorable member’s side, not even the honorable member’s own. He wrongs himself.
– As a party, jour political sins are not equal to those of the party to which the honorable member belongs, but still we do not claim to be perfect. We aim at perfection, at all events, and we believe that our policy tends to perfection. What is more, we are trying to prevent honorable members opposite from going in the’ other direction, because we know that they will never reach perfection by that means. I should like to take the opportunity of showing the honorable member for Riverina, who is getting restless, and to the honorable member for Wannon, who is becoming quiescent, how this land tax works out. I wish to bring them into harmony on the subject, because the honorable member for Wannon has said that the effect of the tax has been to reduce the value of land, whilst the honorable member for Riverina has said that its effect has been to increase the value of land. I want to show them how the difficulty in which they find themselves is easily capable of a reasonable solution. As soon as you impose a tax upon the value of land you take from the land monopolist some part of that rent value which really belongs to the community, and therebyyou naturally decrease the sale price of land.
– No, you do not.
– I am giving this argument for what it is worth.
– It is not worth much.
– If the honorable member will only listen patiently to me I feel sure that he will soon grasp the fundamentals of this question, and byandbye, after a little reflection, he may even be able to comprehend some of the more intricate aspects of it. The effect of a tax of this kind is to reduce the sale price of land, because undoubtedly it takes away from the land monopolist some of that value which belongs to the community. The result is that land users, as distinct from land monopolists, when they seek’ to get possession of land, find it offering to them upon better terms than was hitherto the case. Immediately you get more demand for land you get more cultivation and more production. The consequence is a greater amount of prosperity in the community. This great general prosperity tells again upon the demand for land. You have two forces constantly at work - one which tends to decrease the price of land, and the other which increases the demand for land. As a result of these counteracting forces, you obtain greater prosperity and well-being for the community; and that accounts for the fact that the value of land is remaining practically stable, whilst settlement upon the land and production from it are increasing by leaps and bounds. I want the honorable member and his friends to ponder over these facts. I may not have another opportunity of telling him anything of this sort, because the uncertainties of political life are such that we may not be here together in a short time. During the few minutes that are remaining to me now, I should like to devote myself to some remarks made by the honorable member for Robertson, who I am sorry to see is not in the chamber, and who delivered such a glowing self-appreciation in the House a few nights ago. When he spoke of himself as “ a good Australian” and “a great Australian,” I formed the opinion that if he was only half so good in advertising Australia as he was in advertising himself, he would really be worth at least £10,000 a year to the Government, and they might well think of employing him in the interests of the Commonwealth. Speaking of land tenure, he said, “ Why, the State can resume land for any purpose it likes. If it wants to build a railway it can obtain land, even when the tenure is freehold.” Of course it can. It merely proves, if the honorable member is capable of appreciating the paradoxical effect of his argument, “ the security of freehold tenure is all right, in so far as it is insecure; in so far as the State has the right to resume, then freehold tenure is a good thing.” The vital provision of the Labour party’s plan is bound up in re-appraisement, the determination to keep the monopolist, at least, out of the Northern Territory. He has, to use the words of the Prime Minister, “ cursed every other country, and he will curse this country,” but at least we will try to keep the Northern Territory pure from his greed.
.- I make no apology for rising to speak in this debate, nor can I understand the Prime Minister objecting in any degree to the length to which the debate has been carried. During my political life I have never known a Government treated so well as this Government was treated when it took possession of the Treasury bench. What are the facts ? We gave the Government six weeks’ Supply in order to, form a policy, and the House was adjourned for a month. During that month the public of Australia were anxiously waiting for the Government to bring down its so-called Liberal policy. It is true that some honorable members on this side hav» gone so far as to say that had the Government brought down a progressive policy there would have been no obstruction given to progressive legislation, but what has occurred ? The Government kept the public in the dark for a whole month; even the Ministerial .newspapers could not get to know what was being hatched. My honorable friends in the Ministry put me in mind very much of the American farmer’s hen that would sit on anything. For a month Ministers sat on ice, and produced some boiling water. At the outset of this debate we had the Prime Minister asking the Opposition to fix a time for taking a division. One would have thought that he was supported in both Houses by a majority of about twenty, whereas, as the public know, in each House the Government is absolutely in a minority as compared with the position in the last Parliament. When one analyzes this statement of policy;- and observes the position of the so-called paragraphs, he will find that the ‘ proposed non-contentious- legislation is at. tie bottom of the programme, and the negative proposals come first - that is’, the proposals to repeal legislation which was passed’ at the instance of previous Governments. That was a direct challenge to the Opposition by a Government who had not practically a majority in the Parliament.
– But they did not mean it.
– That is what I Want to point out. The whole hypocrisy of the position is patent. My own opinion is that the Government would not care if this debate went on till Christmas.
– They want it.
– Ministers want it, in my judgment, because they cannot) be sincere when they talk of attempting to repeal legislation which they know they have no hope of repealing. Take, again, the complaint of the Prime Minister. No matter how many honorable members” may speak from the Opposition side, he takes advantage of the opportunity to reply at Liberal meetings, and in interviews with the newspapers at his command, almost every night - at least once or twice a week. Where every other member of the House gets in one speech in a debate of this nature, he gets in, I venture to say, in effect no less than three or four speeches. This further shows that he has ho desire to repeal the measures I have alluded to, but is only putting the proposals forward for shop-dressing purposes, to try to further gull the people of this country, as he did at the last election. A good deal has been said in this debate of misrepresentation at the last election by the Labour party. I do not propose to discuss the charge of roll-stuffing and other charges which have been exploded, but if ever a party was returned by misrepresentation, not1 only by candidates, but by paid organizers, the Liberal party was so returned to this House. I do not propose to go into all the calumny which was heaped on the last Government during the campaign, but will just quote one striking fact which will show every member of the last Parliament - and, I think, every member of this Parliament - the idea of the Liberal party in this connexion. I intend to quote a leaflet which was put in my hands, and which was circulated in Tasmania.
– Is that the leaflet about the breeding cow?
– No; it is something better than that one. The Liberal party circulated this leaflet in Tasmania, no doubt, because they knew that the people of New South Wales and Victoria, knowing the facts, would not believe it. It is headed -
A Startling Position.
The Labour Conference the Real Parliament of the Country.
What the president stated is the position is quoted in the following words -
The Conference was the Parliament of the Labour movement, because the policy they decided there must ultimately become the law under which the whole people would live if they were to retain their majorities in Parliament. Their powers and responsibilities were greater than those of the pledged representatives, for the Conference could make and unmake policies, while their elected and pledged representatives of the people had to confine their duties to putting the policy of the Conference before the people, elaborating it and voting for it in the Parliament of the country. - Hansard, No. 46, page 6221.
Further down we find this statement -
Further, why was the Right Hon. Andrew Fisher not allowed to issue the official manifesto of his party recently without its being countersigned by Mr. David Watkins, Secretary of the Political Trades Hall?
The evident object of the leaflet was to make it appear that the Ministerial manifesto had to be submitted to the Trades Hall before it could be issued to the electors of this country. Let me say that I have never been an officer of the Trades Hall in any part of Australia, although I would not deem it any disgrace to be one. The document which was signed by my leader and myself was never submitted to any outside body.
– Who authorized the statement that it was?
– It was authorized by Arthur E. L. Bailey, of 71 Johnstreet, Launceston. This was only one of the calumnies which were circulated during the recent election campaign. I could quote leaflet after leaflet containing the grossest misrepresentations of the actions of the late Government. The Liberal party conducted a house to house canvass, and gained a victory by calumniating their opponents. I wish now to deal with the question of preference to unionists. I am aware that it has already been debated at considerable length, but
I desire to make a few observations upon it, because the Prime Minister has endeavoured to put the matter in not altogether the correct light. He has attempted to make it appear that the miners’ unions with which he was at one time associated were voluntary unions, and had no political objects in view. Let me tell him that the unions to which he referred were in no sense voluntary unions, and that they were absolutely based upon the principle of preference to unionists. Further, they were pledged to gain their ends by means of political action. If they did not subscribe to the expenses of parliamentary candidates, they expended money in an effort to improve their position by means of legislation.
– They subscribed to the cost of the Prime Minister’s first candidature.
– Yes, like myself, he was returned to Parliament by the pennies of the miners. It is singularly unfortunate that his first act upon his advent to office has been to strike a blow at the very men who first placed his feet on the rungs of the political ladder. The Government propose to prohibit the granting of a preference to the members of unions whose funds are directly employed to aid parliamentary candidates, or whose funds are expended upon political projects. The result would be that the organization to which the honorable gentleman formerly belonged would not be able to utilize its funds to further mining legislation. It is true that in the old days that organization largely stood upon its own ground in enforcing its claim that preference should be granted to unionists. But how was that object achieved ? It was achieved only after months of weary striking. Sometimes we even failed to gain the preference for which we asked. Does the head of the Government desire trade unions to again resort to the barbarous methods which were formerly employed to secure this preference? Nobody knows better than he does that the agitation in favour of compulsory arbitration originated with the miners of Australia. It was only after they had resorted to strike upon strike that they accepted the advice given to them by the employers and by the citizens, who naturally suffer as the result of industrial disturbances, and abandoned that barbarous weapon. They having done this, the Prime Minister desires to take. away from unions the protection which they should have against boycotting tactics on the part of some employers, who desire to take an unfair advantage of the leaders in industrial disputes. I could quote no better authority upon this question than the Prime Minister himself. I have here extract after extract, in which he points out that all employers are not alike - that some employers do discharge men who have dared to stand up for right and justice on behalf of their fellows. All our arbitration laws are based upon unionism, and upon preference to unionists. Take away that basic principle, and we might just as well repeal the entire Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Much as I believe in compulsory arbitration, I say that if preference to unionists be abolished the whole Act might just as well be swept away, and we should then be free to once more resort to the weapon of the strike. I have already stated that the miners have always insisted upon preference being granted to unionists. Unfortunately, we were not always able to enforce our claims. It was not always that the proprietors of the coal mines would consent to meet in conference the representatives of the unions concerned. In the district from which I hail they recently refused to adjust the grievances of the miners until the latter had fulfilled some almost impossible condition. It was not until Parliament was invoked that we were able to get these people to settle their disputes. The honorable member for Henty will remember that in those days representatives of federated labour organizations were often not admitted to conferences between employers and employes. When president of the Australian Labour Federation, I, with another gentleman, was sent over here to try to arrange matters for the miners in coming to an agreement with their employers. The men were not all coal-miners, properly speaking, many of them having been at one time in metalliferous mines. We were sent to Victoria by the executive of the Federation, of which the present Prime Minister was a member, representing the miners of Lithgow. We went to meet the employers, anticipating no rebuff; but we were told that, because we were not working in the mines here, they would not confer with us. In some cases, employers have even objected to meet in conference representatives of their own employes. I wonder what the real views of the Prime Minister are to-day on this subject. His attitude is certainly very different from that of years ago. He is trying to make it appear that men like Burt and Fenwick, and other Labour members in the House of Commons, were elected because they were Liberals; but, as a matter of fact, they were elected because they were good trade unionists, as he and I were at the time to which I have just referred. And although he says that the trade unions in the Old Country are not political unions, he must know that for many years the miners have subscribed to provide salaries for their representatives in Parliament. The same thing was done in this country in the early days of the Labour movement. The men of a portion of my constituency elected a miner to represent them in the Parliament of New South Wales long before there was a Labour party, and there not being payment of members at the time, they paid him for acting as their representative. It must be borne in mind, however, that no trade union can enforce a levy on its members for any political purpose; each and every member of a union must consent to any levy of that kind, so that such levies are practically voluntary contributions. The Osborne judgment, which has been followed by our Courts, was to the effect that no unionist can be taxed for political purposes. Why, then, amend the Arbitration Act te- prevent preference being given to unionists who, in respect of political contributions, are on the same footing as employers? It is not proposed to injure the employer for taking political action. He may subscribe as he likes to party funds. But the employe who contributes to party funds is to be punished by having his right to employment taken from him. A good deal has been said in the debate about the rural workers. The honorable member for Hume declared himself a believer in trade unionism for the cities where there are factories, but not for the rural industries, because the prices obtained for the productions of those industries depend on the markets of the world. But does not the price of coal which is exported depend on the markets of the world? What difference is there, then, in the position of the rural worker and that of the miner ? These honorable members believe in trade unionism so far as it will not affect themselves. They are like the man who believes in vaccination for others, but not for’ himself. No doubt, if the shearers were as helpless as the rural workers are at present, the squatters would be using arguments, similar to ° those we have heard against the inclusion of shearers in the arbitration law. Honorable members opposite do not mind unionism so long as it remains* quiescent, and is content with the levying of sick and accident funds - that they style the good old trade unionism. But when trade unions bestir themselves to obtain better conditions, and more reasonable wages, then honorable gentlemen are aghast at their aggressiveness. The time has passed when trade unionism can be opposed in this country. The question we have to ask ourselves is, are we going to provide a peaceful method for the settlement of industrial disputes, or are we going to allow in this young land the trouble and turmoil which the barbarous methods of the past must always cause? If there is any body of workers entitled to the protection of the arbitration law, it is the rural workers. Should they be denied that protection, a woree condition of affairs may arise. As to preference to unionists, should it be struck out of the arbitration law, I, for One, would be prepared to vote against compulsory arbitration. Without preference to unionists, arbitration would be a farce and a humbug, a delusion which this enlightened community would not tol lerate *
.- After the remarks of honorable members on both sides, there does not appear that much is left for a novice like me to say. I hear some ou my own side telling me to draw it mild. I shall draw it as mild as I can; though no one, Mr. Speaker, knows better than you do how modest I am. What has amused me most this session is the way in which the new, young, and virile supporters of the Government have attacked the Labour party. They must be made of different material from that of which I am made. When J first entered this House I was struck dumb, and several times when I rose, not to criticise, but to make a mere ordinary speech, I wished for a hole in which to hide myself. The latter day politicians must have something stronger in them thani/hose with which I entered the political arena.
– D - Does the honorable member mean to say that they drink?
– I have heard the honorable member for Maribyrnong advise us to be filled with the spirit, and, knowing lus wowser-like tendencies, I am sure that we should be on a good wicket in following that advice. I was particularly struck by the speech made by one of the new members opposite. If ever a young horse took the bit between its teeth and wished to Show the rest of the team how to pull, it was the honorable member for Robertson. He went at his work like a bull at a gate, with a red rag on the far side. He seemed to think that he was doing very well when he was condemning everything Imperial, everything British, and, in short, everything imported. As he spoke he reminded me of the woman who stood at the street corner proclaiming her virtue. He had to tell US that he was an Australian from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. Thank God, he is not the only Austraiian. If he were, we should ask the PostmasterGeneral to place his head on th6 Common.wealth postage stamp. His attitude recalled to my mind a story told concerning the armies of the allies when they were campaigning in China a few years ago. Many fabulous tales’ were told of the value of the thrones on which theDowager Empress and the Empress of China sat when they held court, and members of the different forces were ail stirred with the ambition, when they got into the Imperial Palace, to loot’ as much as possible. The French, being more active and agile than the rest, were first to enter the palace, and they made straight for the three golden thrones. When they went to carry them off, however, they found that they were fastened to the platform. Wrenching off the fastenings, they prepared to lift what they expected to be a very heavy weight, but were astonished to find that the thrones, instead of being made of pure gold, were merely plaster of paris gilded, like our emblem on the table, to look like gold. But that was not all. The discomfiture1 of the Frenchmen was completed when, on turning up the thrones, they saw in large letters the words, “ Made in Germany.” I should like to dee the honorable member for Robertson turned up, in order that we might discover whether ha really was made in Australia. I do not know whether he was serious or not in his allusions to the imported article, but I would remind him that there are in hi»
House some who, although they hail from the Old Country, have helped to pioneer Australia. There are some of us who have gone into the back blocks of the Commonwealth and have helped to make things easier for those who followed us. While the honorable member was sojourning in southern climes I was breeding Australians in the far north, and I am proud to say that they are natives of Queensland, doing well, and not “ made in Germany.” I would 4 remind the honorable member and his fellow members on the Government side of the House that, notwithstanding his tirade of abuse of the Labour party, we are all made of the same stuff. We are all human beings, no matter on what side of the House we may sit. We of the Opposition have our finer feelings, just as they have. The only difference between us is that some honorable members opposite have been brought up iu a good school, where their fathers and mothers were fortunate enough to be able to place them. On the other hand, the great majority of honorable members on this side of the House have had to carve out their own destiny ; and I say, in no spirit of boastfulness, that some of us have not carved out a bad one. Many of us have the confidence of the majority of the people in our electorates - the confidence, not only of men who are Labour sympathizers, but of men who are occupying high and responsible positions in society. One of these, who is a constituent of mine, “gave away the whole show” when a Fusion organizer asked him to support the Fusion candidate at the last election. This gentleman replied, “ Oh, no. I have made up my mind, and it has been made up ever since Jim Page entered the Federal Parliament, to vote for him.” “ But,” said the Fusion organizer, “you are voting, not for Jim Page, but for the Socialist party.” “Well,” rejoined the gentleman, “ I wish to Heaven there were a lot more Socialists like him, so that we might give them our support.” That is the position which many people in my electorate, as well as in many other parts of Australia, take up. Many of our opponents represent us as wearing bowyangs, and as having hair on our teeth. The people are also told that we never wear suspenders, but always wear a belt. If it is any news to my honorable friends opposite, let me tell them that for fourteen years I did not wear a coat. I only put on a coat to come to the Federal Parliament, and then an official would not let me in. The honorable member for Robertson, judging by a statement that he made in the course of his speech, takes his pleasures very sadly. Dealing with the question of day labour, he said, “ In my boyhood days I did a good deal of fencing.” Fencing, by the way, is good work for boys in the bush. My boy knows how to fence, and while the old man sits in the shade the young man does the fencing.
– It is generally the other way about.
– No. Young Australians are all made of good stuff. The honorable member for Robertson said -
Last summer, when I was staying at the seaside near Sydney, I saw five men sent down on the day-labour system to straighten up 400 feet of fence. They did not have to re-erect the fence, they did not have to put in any new timber except five rails; but it took them two weeks and half a day to straighten up 400 feet of a two-railed fence. I guarantee that any boy and I could have done the work in two days. That is a sample of the day-labour system.
– The honorable member and I would have done the work in one day.
– I am glad that the honorable member is present, because one can always speak more freely concerning a man in his presence than in his absence, and I believe in a square deal all the time. The honorable member could not have enjoyed himself very much while he watched these fellows loafing. If there is one thing that grieves me more than another, it is to see a man wasting his time. I wonder that the honorable member, since he tells us that he is such a good Australian, did not take the bar and the shovel from these men and show them how to do the work. That is what I should have done, or else I should have gone away and had a dip in the sea. That would have been a more congenial occupation for the honorable member than watching these fellows loafing and “ doing in their time.” Surely the honorable member is not going to condemn the whole day-labour system because he happened to see four or five men loafing while employed on day labour. I have seen men working in railway cuttings, in tanks and dams, in Western Queensland, with the thermometer at 115 in the shade, and working just as hard as it is possible for any one to work, although they were paid by the day. The Government tell us that they are going to do away with the day-labour system in connexion with all big works, and to introduce the contract system. I venture to prophesy that they will not do anything of the kind. I can generally see a ship when she is riding on the water. The Government are not going to undertake any big works, either on the contract or the daylabour system. They have to satisfy their supporters, particularly the Master Builders and Contractors Association, in the metropolises of Australia by stating that they are going to do away with day labour, but we shall soon see how they will shape. They are reducing the staffs in New South Wales at the present time, and directly after the Budget statement we shall probably hear a howl on the part of honorable members from New South Wales that the work of constructing the Federal Capital is being hung up. There will be no work going on there. The Government tell us that they are going to look into the question of contract versus day labour, and I believe that they will keep on looking into it, so that nothing will be done. They are particularly anxious about Cockatoo Island Dock, not because the boilers were, or are, likely to burst, but because the Fisher Government had forestalled them by establishing there a national dockyard, so that they could not let out any work to the private dockyards in Sydney and other ports along the coast. Since we have a Government dockyard at Cockatoo Island, the present Government must, to save their own faces, go on with the work there. Coming to the question of preference to unionists, let me tell honorable members opposite that I, as a member of the Australian Workers Union, do not want any preference. We are an industrial political body. We run our own candidates in our own way, pay their expenses, and ask no one for assistance. If it were not for the Australian Workers Union I should not occupy the position that I hold in this House to-day. I think more of my union than I do of anything else on earth, for the reason that it has bettered the conditions of every man, woman, and child in Western Queensland, has made homes for the workers there, has given them a living wage, and has so arranged matters that the harder a man chooses to work the more money he gets.
The trouble with gentlemen opposite is that the Australian Workers Union has taken up the cudgels for the rural workers, and it is going to succeed, whether the Government like it or not. In their manifesto the Government say that they are going to take all legal preference out of the Arbitration Act. Well, I wish them luck ! They are going to try to do so; but, if they succeed, it will be over the corpses of thirty-seven members on this side of the House. Every man on this side is pledged to preference to unionists. Some of us have a little vitality left, as honorable gentlemen opposite will find out to their sorrow before many weeks are over their heads. They are making a great fuss about preference. Other unions should follow the Australian Workers Union in dealing with “scabs” - in dealing with those gentlemen whose consciences will not permit them to pay £1 a year to the Shearers Union, or 10s. a year to the General Labourers Union. The Australian Workers Union has a peculiar method of its own in dealing with those whose conscience is not elastic enough to enable them to pay the subscriptions. We of the Australian Workers Union do not ask the Court to give us preferences we “ wood heap “ such men. This process I may describe in a few words for the benefit of honorable members. We do not allow the cook to prepare the food for those men, but send them to the wood heap to cook it for themselves. The wood heap is one of the best organizers, and represents the best preference to unionists that the Australian Workers Union could have. We get at the “ scab “ through his “ tummy.” A most marvellous organizer is your stomach; it fetches you up with a round-turn, “ quick and lively,” and makes you more amenable than the strongest, hardest,- cruellest laws that any Parliament or union could devise. The same arguments that are being used against the industrial organization of the rural workers were used at the formation of the Australian Workers Union; and, not only were such arguments used, but victimization in the worst and most terrible form was perpetrated in the case of those men who stood out and fought the battle of unionism in 1891 and in 1894. In many cases, that victimization took the form of putting our men in gaol for three years, and some were thus punished for being persons of “ ill-fame.” I was always under the impression that it was the opposite sex who were open to such a charge; but the other side had to dig up a statute of George IV. in order to find a charge. Other prominent unionists were convicted before a biased Judge and a biased jury - and God knows it was a biased Judge! All this occurred some twenty-two or twenty- three years ago; and though we have forgiven it, we have not forgotten it. Those who were sent to gaol did their three years like men; and every one of them, when released, was offered, by the Australian Workers Union, a seat in a State Parliament. To-day, many of those convicted unionists are in the Parliaments of New South Wales and Queensland for districts occupied by those squatters who, as we were then told, were the friends of the workers. Things have changed since then; and to-day we find the squatters quite willing and anxious to arbitrate. At that time they declared that ‘ ‘ freedom of contract ‘ ‘ was what they required, and that “ freedom of contract “ was what the workers should have. In those days the squatters said to the men, ‘ ‘ If you do not accept freedom of contract, and if you do not obey our laws, and go to work and shear our sheep, we will bring out our soldiers, try you before our magistrates and our Judges, put you in our prisons, and make you bow the knee to Baal.” But twentyone years afterwards what was the position? We could then tell those same gentlemen, in this very House, when the Arbitration Bill was before us, “ This is our Parliament, and these are our laws; if you do not obey our laws we will try you with our Judges, put you in our gaols by our policemen, and fetch out our soldiers.” The tables were turned; and that is the position to-day - a position which the Government and their supporters are trying to revoke. There are still some gentlemen on the Ministerial benches who would make Australia as black as ever it was. The honorable member for Parkes stood up here and made one of the most Conservative speeches that it was possible for any man to make; and Mr. Deakin once described the party opposite very well, indeed. When the Liberals were in opposition, Mr. Deakin declared them to be the “wreckage,” “the flotsam and jetsam,” of every political party that had ever been in existence, and said they were not a progressive, but a retrograde party that impeded the wheels of progress. Sad to say, however, Mr. Deakin afterwards led that self-same party. As I have said, those gentlemen opposite, if they had the opportunity to-morrow, would make Australia as black as ever it . was. They would have the kanakas back in Queensland and Northern New South Wales within a month - if they dare. Russell Lowell, in the Biglow Papers, put the matter very well indeed when he wrote -
Wy, its jest ez clear ezfiggers,
Clear ez one an’ one make two,
Chaps thet make black slaves o’ niggers
Want to make wite slaves o’ you.
As true as gospel, those words are as true to-day as when Russell Lowell wrote them. Now, what do we find? The one continual howl of the party opposite is against the weakest man who is now working in the community. They do not wish to give that man the right to go to an Arbitration Court to find out what his work is worth, but are trying to “ down “ him at every turn. But the good old Australian Workers Union is taking the rural workers in tow; and we of the union are going to succeed, whether the Government like it or not. That is the position in a nutshell. Sometimes, in my calmer moments, I wonder what the battle-cry of gentlemen opposite will be when they have got rid of the rural workers - when they have to abandon the cry that we are going to “kill” the farmer. There will be no cry left for them. As the honorable member for Bourke said the other night, their doom is coming, and their fate is sealed. As sure as the sun will rise to-morrow the party which to-day calls itself Liberal - but which is a Fusion party pure and simple, composed of the “ flotsam and jetsam “ of every other political party except the Labour party - will be swept from the face of the earth; and God knows what will become of them. They will have nowhere to lay their weary heads. In fact, they are “ carpetbaggers “ to-day. They can be seen coming in every morning with their bags packed, not sure whether they are going to have another day in power or not. The honorable member for Franklin made a great parade and a great toast the other night when he asked, “ Why does the Senate not resign, so that we may go to the country?” But that would be a case of “heads I win, tails you lose”; and the honorable member for Franklin, and those who sit with him, must think we are a lot of “chumps” when they tender such advice. What a statesmanlike utterance for an honorable member to make - what a beautiful idea ! You, Mr. Speaker, and every other member of the House, with the exception of the honorable member for Franklin, know as well as I do what would happen if the whole of the Senate resigned. They would not go to the country; but as soon as the resignations were tendered, the whole of the six Houses of the State Parliaments would meet together and re-elect the thirty-six members. What “ mugs “ the honorable member for Franklin and others must think we are ! Doss the honorable member for Franklin think we came down with the last shower ? Does he think that he is taken seriously - though he looks very wise, and as he is over twentyone years of age he is accountable for his words - when he says that, if we desire a dissolution, the Senate should resign ? He must think we are a lot of “jugginses!” We have a majority in the Senate, and we are going to retain it; and I hope the time is not far distant when the Labour party will have such a majority as to enable us to sit on the other side of this House. I have been looking through the document which sets forth the policy of the Government, and, no doubt, Mr. Speaker, you have studied it, and studied it well. Last session, the present Attorney- General told the Liberal party that their platform, as enunciated by Mr. Deakin, and declared by him to be one of which every Liberal ought to be proud, was only a “ gelatinous compound “; that all the bones had been carefully removed ; and that it was only fit for political infants of weak digestion. But the bones have been put into this policy of the Government. No matter what the other members of the Ministry may say, we have the trail of the serpent here, and that serpent is the Attorney-General.
– The leader of the party.
– Not in name, but actually he is. The first thing that this Government did was to determine to alter the postage stamp. I was never enamoured of the new stamp. The kangaroo upon it looked to me to be drunk. I often used to look at it, and wonder what the Postmaster-General was thinking about when he authorized it. Of course, the White Australia portion was typical of the policy in which we believe, but there might have been at least a strip of wattle in the kangaroo’s mouth or tied to his tail. Wattle is emblematical of Australia.
– May I say that the kangaroo upon the stamp was selected by the three persons chosen for the purpose, and took the second prize in the competition ?
– Well, I have taken part in kangaroo shoots; I have shot a good many kangaroos, and eaten a few tails, but I never saw a kangaroo like that in Queensland.
– Perhaps it was a kangaroo rat.
– It may have been, but only an Australian would know what it was meant for. When the new PostmasterGeneral came into office he said, “ Away with this kangaroo, away with this White Australia; we will adorn our stamp with the King’s head.” Does the Postmaster-General think that it makes a man more disloyal to lick the back of a kangaroo rather than the back of a king? I do not see that it does. Strangely enough, we have heard no protest from the honorable member for Robertson against abolishing this emblem of Australia. As a true Australian, as he boasts of being, he should be one of the first to stick up for the kangaroo. There could not be a better emblem of nationality, because the kangaroo is found in every State, including Tasmania. I honestly believe, therefore, that the kangaroo should remain on our stamp in some shape or form.
– In the design for the new stamp we have a kangaroo and emu, and a sprig of wattle blossom.
– The emu is not so typical of Australia. But let me come to the matter of electoral law. I observe that the Government say that they propose to make an alteration in the law, but I can assure them that, as far as I am concerned, they will not carry out their intentions. As to the signing of articles at election times, I may say that when the section of the Act providing for that was introduced, I was entirely opposed to it, because I believe in the absolute freedom of the press. But as soon as I got into my constituency tocommence my election campaign, the newspapers came at me like a lot of bushrangers. They wanted double rates for advertisement and so much an inch for reportsofmy speeches. I looked at them and smiled. I told them that whenever my speeches were reported I got them reported for nothing, and was not going to pay a farthing for such a purpose. Throughout the campaign I never paid for either an advertisement or a report of a speech. That saved me a few pounds. As a result of the signing of articles’ we knew who wrote them, and I have heard that, in the opinion of pressmen themselves, this provision of the Federal Electoral Act was one of the finest things Parliament ever did. It enabled those who wrote good articles to get the credit for their work. Several journalists in Queensland told me that they were very pleased indeed. I was always much amused during the campaign to receive newspapers from other parts of Australia, and to see who were writing the political articles. I always used to look at the bottom of the columns, and frequently saw there the names of men whom I knew. Some of the articles which appeared in the Age against my colleagues were not fit for sausage wrappers. They were too rotten even for that. And they call this journalism ! I wonder whether it has ever struck honorable members opposite what a wonderful party ours must be. It first sprang into existence a few years ago, and the success that it has since attained makes me believe that it really is the People’s party, because the people give us our majorities. We receive the support of only about four or five newspapers in Australia. Honorable members opposite boast that they have 800 newspapers on their side. Yet at the election before last we secured a majority in this Parliament, and we came through the last election in a minority of only one in this House, whilst in the other our opponents emerged after the contest with only the noble seven to maintain their cause. Those seven senators remind me of the state of the Queensland Defence Forces before Federation. It consisted chiefly of officers. In the Senate the party opposite have five officers, and only two privates to look after - “ Shoulder arms ! Right about turn ! Quick march, and away you go!” And then they have the cool impudence to ask us to consent to a double dissolution I No doubt that is what they want, but what they will get is another thing altogether. I want to say a word about their policy.
– That is it; get on to their policy.
– Where shall I find it? Honorable members opposite are pursuing the same tactics as Sir George Reid pursued when he was their leader. He thought that there was a wave of Kyabramism all over Australia, because of what occurred in the State of Victoria. Both the Melbourne newspapers were thundering away, and Sir George Reid was completely misled by them ? Accordingly, he told the people that the Labour party were a Socialist tiger, and that it was necessary, not only to draw their fangs, but to cut their claws. He accused the Deakin Government of being a ship controlled from the steerage. But Sir George Reid was relegated to the cool shades of Opposition; and that is exactly what is going to happen to honorable members opposite. They are trying to run the ship from the steerage, and they will be in Opposition a few weeks from now, I hope. Some astonishing statements were published in the Ministerial press during the elections. In Brisbane it was stated that one and a half persons voted to every name on the rolls. Statements of this kind were published day after day, utterly regardless of truth. When the result came out, it was found that 89 per cent, of the total votes on the roll were polled. Then they said that there must be some mistake, and quietly dropped the matter; but in a leader, just before the meeting of Parliament, the Brisbane Courier said that the Government must investigate this matter; that all Liberal organizations throughout Australia must petition the Government to go into the question of duplicate voting at once. The Government did so, and now they wish they had not. There was less than three per 1,000 of duplicate votes, and the Returning Officer says that in many instances it was not a case of duplication at all, but a clerical error. The Government wish that they had not made that scrutiny. That was the rock on which they were going to build their foundation -for a new electoral system. Now it is proposed to reintroduce the postal vote. I have no objection to the vote so far as my electorate is concerned, but I know how it has been manipulated in many electorates. I agree with the late Charles Cameron Kingston, when, in discussing our first Electoral Bill, he said, “ The proper place for voters to cast their votes is at the poll.” We have every chance of getting a square deal at the poll, but what hope have we in the house where the ladies get hold of the servants, and on the station where the overseer, who is a justice of the peace, trots the permanent hands up to vote by post? A man is on a far distant part of a run on election day, and the overseer cannot spare a horse for him to go in and vote. He says to the man, “ We have got postal ballot-papers here, come and sign them.” I remember an incident in my history showing what good the postal vote did. On one station alone, where the men were allowed to vote by post, and voted freely without any attention from the station authorities, I got every vote on the station bar the manager’s. And so it would be all through if the station people would allow the men to do as they wish ; but influence is great. Paid organizers are at work, and must show their alacrity in the business of getting votes; they act in the most unscrupulous way it is possible for them to act. The postal vote, if used in a proper way and surrounded with safeguards, is not the bugbear that many persons think. But, in the hands of an unscrupulous person, postal votes can turn an election at any time. The Government are going in for a naval policy which they say they are going to carry out on the same lines as the Labour party followed. What is the difference between our naval policy and theirs? To borrow £3,500,000 of money to build a Dreadnought to present to the Old Country was their policy. No doubt, sir, you are familiar with what took p”lace. when we had that memorable vote on the question of whether we should present a Dreadnought to the Old Country or not. Many of the people in Sydney and Melbourne took up the cry that we were disloyal and unpatriotic, that we would not help the Mother Country, that when the time came for rendering assistance we would back out and leave her to fight her own battles. I will give a short history pf what took place. These patriots met in Sydney and Melbourne. They had a banquet, with bands playing, ‘flags flying, and cadets and others marching and countermarching. They said that they would show the disloyal Labour party what true patriotism meant. They would subscribe the money, they said, and send it to the Old Country as a present from the loyalists of Australia. At a great banquet, they sat round the table and “bucked” into the champagne until all of them were half-seas over. Then the Lord Mayor of Sydney went round to each individual for a subscription. Some signed their names for £100,000, some for £50,000, and others for £10,000. Lord, sir ! they did not get a million, but the promise of £3,000,000. Next morning the Lord Mayor was up to snuff. Knowing the people he had to deal with, he went round and looked for the cheques. Some of these patriots were in their offices holding their heads, and saying, “ Oh, what a difference in the morning !” Some of them had wet towels over their heads, and others did not go to business. The Lord Mayor pursued these patriots. For the first day’s effort he got £20,000, and put it into a bank to the credit of the fund. The Age and the Argus came out with a full page about what the patriots had done for Australia, what they intended to do, and how it would show the unpatriotic, disloyal Labour party what the people of Australia thought of them. The Lord Mayor went round on the second day; he went round on the third day; indeed, he went round for a fortnight, and at last the fund rose to the big amount of £46,000. He was promised over £3,000,000 on the night when the bands were playing and the flags were wagging, but after the lapse of many months the expression of their patriotism for a Dreadnought had dwindled down to £46,000. They wanted to give this money to the Old Country, but the Government said, “No, thank you, Mr. Brown; we are not taking any.”
– They paid up in coppers.
– Some of the contributions were made in coppers. These patriots remind me of the boy in the Pears’ soap advertisement. They were not happy till they got the money, and when they got it they did not know what to do with it. The £46,000 lay at interest in the bank for several years, and when we were building a Naval College these patriots sought to save their faces. I forgot to mention that a number of them cried out for their money to be returned, but His Lordship stuck to the money, and eventually it was handed over to the Federal Government. Forty-six thousand pounds was the price of the patriotism of these great patriots of Australia. The Old Country would not take the money, and, at last, to get rid of it, the patriots had to give it to the Labour Government to help to build a college at Jervis Bay.
That was a very worthy object indeed, and I, as a representative of the people of Australia, thank them very much for the gift.
Here lies the difference between the two parties in the House. Along came the Fusion Government, who brought in an unprecedented Bill in a time of peace. No other Government under the sun ever did what that Government did. They brought in a Loan Bill to borrow from Cohen and Company, in Great Britain, £3,500,000 to build a Dreadnought. They were going to borrow the money to start an Australian Navy. We succeeded in blocking them from applying for the money until after the next Federal election. Then our Government came in, and our first act was to repeal the Naval Loan Act. The people of Australia are as free from a loan burden to-day as they were in the first days of Federation.
– Surely the honorable member does not say that ! What about the Inscribed Stock Act which the Labour Government passed ?
– We have not borrowed from Cohen and Company ; we are borrowing from our own people and paying them the interest. Here is the difference between the Labour party and the Fusion. We came along and instituted a navy for Australia. We have to-day three boats of the “ river “ class, the Parramatta, the Tarra, and the Warrego, named after one of the finest rivers in western Queensland, and being one of the finest boats on the Australian coast.
– And, according to the programme, the whole fleet was going to be completed in 1912.
– Order !
– I do not mind, sir; I have got over my modesty.
– Do you know what a “ river “ destroyer is?
– I do.
– Some members on the other side do not.
– The Prime Minister has denied that he ever made the remark attributed to him, and so I am not going to refer to the matter. In addition to the three “ river “ boats, named after rivers in Australia, we have the cruiser Melbourne on the coast, while the cruiser Sydney and the battleship Australia are on their way out. We have not borrowed a single penny to pay for those vessels; we have paid for them out of revenue.
Now, what is the difference between the patriotism of the “ loyalists “ and of ourselves ? There is a proof of the patriotism ‘ of the “ disloyalists,” who have been dragged in the mud and the mire, and who, it has been said, did not care twopence for the Old Country. When the’ head of the Fisher Government came back from the Imperial Conference, he was asked what he said there with regard to defence. Referring to the Mother Country, he replied, “ We are willing that you shall have the ships, the ammunition, the men, the money, and everything else we possess in the naval line if ever the Empire should be in danger. Take it; it is yours.” There is an evidence of the patriotism of the Labour party. The patriotism of the “ jokers “ on the other side is worth £46,000. There are two things I have not heard in this debate. This is the first time in the history of the House, as you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, who have been here since the beginning, can bear me out, that honorable members on the other side have not accused us of disloyalty. It is not by flag waving and band playing and lip loyalty that we can help the Empire. It is by saying to the Motherland, “ Here are our ships, our men, our ammunition, and our money. Take them; they are yours.” No wonder we have closed the lips of those gentlemen who were in the habit of calling us disloyalists. I am sorry that the honorable member for North Sydney is not present, because he spoke of tugs and thugs, of pinkey drinkers, spielers, whisperers, and tick.tackers in connexion with the Labour movement. I would like to ask him which he would prefer to help him out of a tight corner - unionists or scabs? Preference would be granted to unionists every time, I say. This brings me to the difference between the policy of the Labour party and the policy of the socalled Liberal party. The policy of the Labour party has ever been before the people. It is printed on our programme, and there is not a single honorable member who has signed the pledge to give effect to our platform who is not willing to carry our banner over the last ditch and right into the redoubt. What is the position of honorable members opposite? They are anti-Labour. That is their policy, no more and no less. They wish to revert to the old way of doing things. The other day the honorable member for
Calare interjected that the rural workers had not asked for organization. I put the same question to him as was put by the honorable member for Boothby, “Did the slaves ask for emancipation?” As a matter of fact, they were opposed to it. They were under the impression that they would die of starvation if they had not their master to depend upon. I have no hesitation in saying that in many instances the wages paid in our rural industries to-day are scandalous. How employers can ask a man to work six or seven days a week for 12s. and his tucker I cannot understand. I would like to make the employers themselves do it for a month. What in the name of Heaven can a man do on a wage of 12s. weekly and tucker ?
– The honorable member for Wannon says that he buys a farm out of it.
– If the honorable member for Wannon will tell me how he can arrive at that conclusion, even in the case of farm labourers who receive £2 per week, I shall be very much obliged to him.
– How do they happen to own the farms now?
– I do not know.
– Then the honorable member should go out into the country and make inquiries.
– The honorable member cannot tell me anything about life outback. For fourteen years I never wore a coat. I have been all over Australia. When quite a young fellow I travelled from Brighton Downs, Queensland, to Wave Hill, in the Northern Territory, and I may. tell honorable members that I was not enamoured of the country. I was really glad to get back to civilization. The honorable member for Wannon has taken the place in this House of a man whom I loved most dearly - Mr. McDougall. He was one of the finest characters that it has ever been my lot to associate with. The honorable member for Wannon apparently has a fixed idea that a politician’s only recommendation is a good capacity for jaw. Mr. McDougall was a gentleman who did not talk. But he acted. If the honorable member for Wannon does as much for his electorate as Mr. McDougall did, his constituents will have no cause to regret having sent him here.
– I am here on trial.
– I have been a soldier in the Imperial Army, and I was alwaystaught never to bayonet a wounded man, but to give him a show. Mr. McDougall has fallen by the wayside, as many good men upon both sides of this Chamber have done. There is one man whose absence I particularly regret - I refer to Mr. George Fuller. Of course, when weare out on the stump we are out to win, but I have never heard anybody say an unkind word of Mr. Fuller.
– Then there is Sir John Quick.
– Yes, he was another ableman - one of the ablest in this House, and one for whom I have the most profound respect. The honorable memberfor Robertson spoke the other night as if we had no regard for the great men of the Commonwealth. Let me tell him that there is nobody in this House whohas a higher admiration for the Treasurer than I have. He is the one man. in this Parliament to whom I feel I could take off my hat when I meet him in the street. He has done something, Dot merely for Western Australia, but for Australia. The Mundaring water supply scheme will live as a monument to him as long as Western Australia isWestern Australia.
– As a monument to the Engineer-in-Chief of that time.
– The present Treasurer found the money for the scheme, and, in justice to him, I must say that he never wishes to take the credit for it, but always desires to give the praise to Mr. O’Connor, the Engineer-in-Chief of Western Australia at the time it was carried out. I wish to tell the honorable member for Robertson that if we are Labour men, who earn our livelihood by the sweat of our brow, we have just as keen a regard for manly men as he has. A little while ago the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs inquired, “ What about the Inscribed Stock Bill?” At the instance of the late Government, an Inscribed Stock Bill was passed during the last session of the last Parliament. That measure was brought forward because the Prime Minister, as Treasurer, could not take the money which he required front the Trust Funds without the authority conferred by a special Act of Parliament. The money which he borrowed from the Trust Funds belongs to the Commonwealth, and not to Cohen and Company in London, Paris, or Berlin. The interest that will accrue upon the Trust Funds will be paid into the Treasury, and thus the people will get the benefit of it. I hope that my explanation satisfies the Honorary Minister.
– It does not, quite. When the Commonwealth enters into competition with the Australian people, does it not put up the cost of money?
– I do not propose to discuss that question. According to the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 18th April of the’ present year, the Prime Minister said-=
The present Government was the first to borrow for Defence. Hughes did not call it borrowing. Cockatoo Island paid interest to the State; as a matter of fact its indebtedness totalled about . sixteen millions, to say nothing of its indebtedness on the bank notes.
Now, here is the indebtedness of the Commonwealth On the 30th June of the present year: - Transferred properties, including Cockatoo Island, £10,474,039; Northern Territory loans, £3,359,890; Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway loans, £2,071,057 ; Commonwealth Inscribed stock (borrowed from the Trust Fund for Kalgoorlie railway, Ad), £2,000,000, making a total cf £17,904,986. The only money we have borrowed has been borrowed from our own people, and we are paying interest upon that money, so that any benefit accruing therefrom will belong to them. We are paying 3£ per cent, interest upon the capital value of the transferred properties.
– And we returned to the States £6,000,000 more than we need have done.
– There is one matter that I had almost forgotten. I am very glad that my eye happened to catch sight of a copy of what is known as the Government Policy. Knowing my fiscal faith, as you do, sir, you will not be surprised to learn that, as an ardent Protectionist, I find myself wondering what the Government are going to do with the Tariff. They have stated that they intend to seek anomalies, and if they can find any to rectify them. Now, I suppose that every honorable member of this House has had a petition and a circular forwarded to him in regard to the cork industry. In the petition the statement is made that the industry is about to become insolvent, and that if something is not done quickly many men who have put the whole of their savings into it will go “bung.” But, so far, I have not seen any mention made of the cork industry in that great patriotic newspaper, the Age. I suppose that it does not think it is of sufficient importance. Perhaps the industry does not pay for enough advertising space, or sufficiently help the sale of this great and glorious patriotic newspaper. Outside Victoria the Age cuts no ice, and it cuts very little even in Melbourne. Its only chance now is to take the honorable members for Wannon, Indi, and Echuca under its wing, and do something for the great rural industry.
– Is the honorable member giving the Age so much attention because of its unimportance?
– Iii the Maranoa electorate, they do not know that there is such a newspaper as the Age. One goes there now and again wrapped round a Victorian parcel, which is all that the newspaper is fit for. Something should be done with the Tariff; the cork industry and other industries need assistance. Surely the Government will not wait until the Inter-State Commission has reported ! The great Protectionist State of Victoria has asked for bread, and has been given a board. We have been told that something will be done when the Inter-State Commission has dealt exhaustively with the Tariff. No doubt, Ministers thank God that there is an Inter-State Commission. They are able to get over the fence, under the fence, round the fence, and through the fence, now that they have it to put everything on. I was under the impression that the Commissioners would do their own work, but they are getting together a staff which will cost even more than we pay to them. A gentleman, now dead, and once a Clerk of this House, used to say, referring to the Commonwealth, ‘ ‘ You know whom you are doing this for. Do it well.” That is the way in which things have been done in every branch of the Commonwealth Service. Now, the Inter-State Commissioners are doing things well. Why do they need a secretary at £800 a year? For that money they should get some one much more important than a secretary. We are told that they cannot do anything until their staff has been appointed. The manufacturers of Melbourne and Sydney have a very small and slender hope to depend on. We have been told that the
Government intends to introduce a comprehensive scheme of national insurance on a contributory basis, embracing sickness, accidents, maternity, widowhood, and unemployment. A very good thing, indeed. But I ask those opposite who have extolled the scheme if they have seen it. Any scheme that must tend to pauperize the individual will have my strongest opposition, and that of every other member on this side. With a view of saving money for this great Commonwealth, the Prime Minister proposes to abolish the maternity allowance. He says that it is too expensive, and that he will not have any more bangles bought with it. The honorable member for Riverina has told us that, speaking jestingly, he said that many women would spend their fiver on a bangle, and because of this jest the Prime Minister is going to deprive the women of Australia, in their direst need, of the allowance, or else pauperize them. Some of his supporters, when on this side, said that the allowance should be given through the agency of the benevolent institutions. I hope . that never will be done. There could be nothing worse than to hand over to the tender mercies of the inquisitorial committees of the benevolent asylums applicants for the maternity allowance. Since I went to Queensland as a new chum, men and women who were then in good positions have fallen by the wayside. I have known station-owners to lose their properties because of circumstances over which they had no control, such as droughts, floods, and losses of stock. Some of these men are now receiving oldage pensions. Would it be right that these nation-builders who have gone down should be pauperized in their last days, and subjected to the inquisition of a benevolent society, instead of being made as comfortable and easy as possible? Knowing the history of the Prime Minister, who worked in the mines when a boy of ten years of age, I am surprised at his attitude in this matter. The graphic description of the honorable member for Capricornia almost brought tears to my eyes, when I thought how the Prime Minister, reared as he had been, has become the high priest of capitalism, the antithesis of everything that he was in the beginning. Could anything be more jesuitical than his attitude towards the maternity allowance, in view of his knowledge of the sufferings and anguish of the poor women who toil and moil. I recently saw a cartoon depicting him as giving with one hand £150,000 to the fat Sugar Refining Company, and with the other holding by the throat a woman who was applying for the maternity allowance. That, in fact, is what he is doing. He is strangling women for the sake of this £5 bonus, and giving £150,000 to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I am sorry that the honorable member for Echuca is not here, because I have something to say about his serious charge against the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Darwin - two men of integrity. When such a charge is made, the man who makes it should proceed to prove it without delay. The honorable member for Echuca has accused these honorable members of stealing money from the Treasury. Apparently, he has been silenced, but if he does not substantiate this charge very quickly, he will be condemned at the bar of public opinion. This is what the honorable member for Yarra said about a statement made by the honorable member for Echuca -
I come now to the .statutory declaration of four residents of Costerfield, to which I referred earlier in the afternoon. That affidavit is signed by Edwin Theodore Hellwege, Hugh Thomas Braden Robert Braniff, and A. Dyne, and was sworn before Mr. J.’P. O’Brien, J. P. It sets out that -
Mr. Palmer, M.H.R., at his meeting here, held in the public hall on the evening of Monday, May 26th, 1913, said that Mr. Fisher, Prime Minister, and Mr. O’Malley, Minister for Home Affairs, were robbers. He accused them of taking money out of the Commonwealth Treasury and putting it in their own pockets, and said there were men’ in gaol doing two or three years for lesser crimes than these Ministers had committed.
– I mean to prove it in part on the floor of the House.
– Why does not the honorable member prove it altogether?
– I will prove it, so far as it applies to the ex-Prime Minister.
The honorable member for Echuca has allowed his statement to go forth to the world without saying anything to support it. He should have impeached those whom he has declared to be robbers, if he believes them to be so. The honorable member has said that he will prove his statement, so far as the Leader of the Opposition is concerned.
– The Prime Minister said that he would have the Leader of the Opposition in gaol.
– That was merely a joke.
– Those who read Hansard do not know that the remark was a joke.
– The Prime Minister should be man enough to apologize for the statement, which stands in Hansard.
– Well, I am not going to father it. But if the honorable member for Echuca is a man, he will attempt to prove that the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Darwin are robbers, or will acknowledge that he made a mistake, and is sorry for what he said. The matter should not be allowed to rest where it is. Had he made a similar statement about me, I should have taken another course.
– Wrung his nose?
– No. There are other means of making an honorable member feel than by doing “him bodily harm. No member of this House has ever made such a charge against another without going fully into it. If the honorable member can prove his charge, let him come along and do so. Let me say, in conclusion, that I hope that the bitter attacks in which honorable members opposite have indulged will not be continued. They - and particularly the irrepressible young men who think their one mission in life is to squelch the Labour party and some Labour man in particular - will find to their cost, as time goes on, that the Labour men are made of good tough stuff, and will return punch for punch, and sometimes with interest. With regard to the policy of the Government, I would remind honorable members that it took them seven weeks to hatch it. And what an incubationit was. Boiled down, the policy of the Government is antiLabour
– A - Anti- Christian.
– Some of them are filled with a Christian spirit, but the policy of the Government is anti-Labour and antieverything that the Labour party has done, in connexion with which they know we are prepared to fight. The Government have thrown down the glove. This is the gage of battle - and we, as Labour men, cannot, will not, and do not, in any sense of the word, accept what they propose. The Government have come down looking for fight, and I say, in all seriousness, that it is fight they will get every inch of the way.
.- The leader of the Labour party has moved that, in the opinion of this House, the Government -
The present Government took office on 25th June last, and a fortnight intervened before they met the House. Parliament assembled on 9th July, and as a month’s adjournment was agreed to, the Government were thus given seven weeks in which to prepare their policy statement. We know, however, that very little of that time was given to the preparation of a policy. Instead of devoting themselves to that work, the Government stumped the country from end to end electioneering. They now complain about the time of the House being wasted, but they knew perfectly well, when the adjournment was granted, that the debate on the AddressinReply would extend over several weeks, and they knew also what was their policy as put before the country.
– They never had one.
– They say, at all events, that they had. They had a fortnight in which to make up their minds as to what they would put before Parliament when it met, and they must have known that they would have some weeks, during the consideration of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, in which to prepare their Bills. They asked, however, for a month’s adjournment, and to this the Labour party agreed. We are now told by the Prime Minister, in a statement published in the DailyTelegraph of Monday last, that what they want is a dissolution, and that, as a matter of fact, they propose to fill in time until they can choose a battleground on which to appeal to the country. In these circumstances, every honorable member is entitled to make a statement of his position for the information of his constituents. This is particularly so with regard to Labour members, who are boycotted by the daily press. They can reach their constituents only by making a speech in Parliament, so that it will be recorded in Hansard, where it can be read and handed from one constituent to another. Furthermore, if the Prime Minister seeks: to choose his own ground for a dissolution, we, too, are entitled to seek our own ground, and our own time. As far as I am concerned, the time for the dissolution of this House is at the earliest possible moment. As the honorable member for Maranoa has said, it does not matter to us what the Age, the Argus, the Herald, the Telegraph, the Courier or the Register may say of us. They “ cut no ice “ in my electorate. Fortunately, mine is a city constituency in the metropolis of Sydney; and the Fusion party are welcome to have ten times as many papers as they have now, since I can reach all my constituents from the public platform. By means of public meetings I can reply to the newspapers, and beat them every time. I beat them when I first won a seat in this House, when I secured a majority of 800. Three years later I beat them again, when I secured a majority of over 6,000; whilst at the last general election, with altered boundaries, my majority, which, on the previous figures, should have been about 4,500, amounted to 5,700. I was successful, despite the keenest opposition of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Daily Telegraph. These papers “cut ice” only in country districts where honorable members cannot reach their constituents by means of public meetings, and so reply to the statements of partisan sheets. The leading articles published in the Collins-street “ rags,” therefore, do not affect me in the slightest degree.
Upon the House resuming after the adjournment, the Government submitted what they called a policy statement, in which they tell us what they propose to deal with. I shall refer to the policy of the Government under three headings -
Matters over which they have no mandate or authority from the country -
Not one line in the policy speech made by the Prime Minister, when outlining the proposals of his party, gave the remotest indication that there was to be any interference with the legislation upon these two matters. That being so, I say that there is absolutely no authority for their threatened amendment of the law; and, so far as I am concerned, they will not carry a single line of it.
Matters omitted though urgently promised -
In their policy statement there is no reference whatever to these two urgent matters which they promised the country they would deal with.
Matters upon which the Government are not serious -
The Cost of Living. In the last Parliament, the honorable member for Lang, Mr. W. Elliot Johnson, stated on 28th August, 1912, as reported in Hansard, page 2725 -
I would take off all the duties on the necessaries of life, the things that go into household consumption, food, clothing, and household requisites of the people, implements of husbandry, and all those things which are aids to production.
Then, again, on 17th September, 1912, the honorable member said, as reported in Hansard, page 3171 -
I do not believe in the duty on sugar or duties on any staple commodity used by the people.
In his election contest, the honorable member who represents a constituency next door to my own, based his fight to get back to this Parliament almost wholly upon the single issue of dealing with the question of the cost of living. I saw in his electorate great calico slips inviting the people to -
Vote for W. E. Johnson, and Reduce the Cost of Living.
That was the appeal which he made to his constituents; but have we in the policy statement of the Government one word indicating that they are going to carry out the policy of reducing the cost of living which they put before the people ?
In his statement to the electors, the honorable member for Parramatta, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 4th April, 1913, said, under the special heading of “ Cost of Living “ -
I should add, further, that since becoming the responsible leader of the party I have been inundated with appeals from all sorts of people as to what I propose to do to bring down the cost of living, and, at the same time, intimating that, in their opinion, the present high cost of living is the direct and sole result of the present Tariff. I do not hesitate to say. without discussing the subject fully, thatI am hopeful an expert investigation of the Tariff may lead to a substantial reduction in the purely revenue duties of the present Tariff schedule.
I have here a card, issued by the party now in office, and distributed in my electorate, in which we have the statement -
Vote for Liberalism, because … the hand of the tax gatherer is heavy upon us, and the cost of living has become ruinous. . . The people of this continent are taxed more than they need be, and have suddenly become poorer.
The only tax imposed by the Labour Government was that upon large landed estates. In that card they indicated that they proposed to alter this state of affairs. Here is another “how to vote” card, a most elaborate production authorized by Mr. Archdale Parkhill, of 109 Pitt-street, Sydney, who is the central organizing secretary of the Fusion party in New South Wales -
The Liberal Senate Three.
Sir Albert John Gould.
Edward Davis Millen.
Charles William Oakes.
Then comes the name of the gentleman who opposed me on behalf of that party, together with the words -
Vote for the Liberal Candidate, and Low Rents, and Cheaper Living.
That was the basis of the Fusion party’s appeal to the metropolitan citizens of New South Wales. But while they were thus promising to reduce rents, they knew perfectly well that they had not the slightest intention of dealing with the matter. They know that they were only up to the same old game of fooling the people. Where is there the slightest suggestion from the Government in regard to the reduction in the cost of living? The document to which I have referred, as signed by the head of the Liberal organization in New South Wales, shows us that the Government were hardly in their seats before they were found refusing to carry out the sacred promises made to their constituents.
Gentlemen opposite claim to be the sole representatives of the farmer, thus suggesting that his interests are not represented on this side. Although I am the representative of a city constituency, I am only a comparatively recent arrival in the city, the greater part of my lifetime having been spent in the country. I attended school in Cook electorate, but subsequently lived amongst the farmers. For a number of years I was the secretary of a Farmers and Settlers Association, though that was at a time when such associations were run by the farmers themselves, and before the squatters commenced to farm the farmers and control their organization. I understand the difficulties of the farmer, and, although a city representative, he will have no better friend in Parliament than myself whenever his interests have to be fairly safeguarded. The farmer to-day is being robbed by the very people who support the Fusion, but, unfortunately, he has not awakened to the fact.
The price of wheat. I am indebted to the honorable member for Ballarat for some information with regard to the operations of the Wheat Ring in Victoria. Two years ago wheat in London was 38s. 6d. per quarter, when farmers in Victoria received 3s. lOd. and 4s. per bushel. This year the price in London was 40s. per quarter, and the farmers received only 3s. 4d. to 3s. 6d. per bushel. The reason given was that freights had increased from 25s. to 43s. 6d., a rise of 18s. 6d.; and that every 3d. per top in freight meant an added cost of Id. per bushel. It was afterwards ascertained that there had been no increase in freight; and, as the yield for Victoria was 26,000,000 bushels, the farmers had been robbed of at least 6d. per bushel, or £650,000 in a single year. The members of the Wheat Ring do not vote for the Labour party, but they do vote in support of the present Government.
I am indebted to the honorable member for Adelaide for some information in connexion with the position in South Australia. There a Royal Commission ascertained that the farmers were robbed in one year to the extent of 2d. per bushel, or £165,000 on the annual wheat yield for the State.
Harvesting machinery. The honorable member for Grey has very kindly taken some facts out of the report of the Harvester Commission, which sat about three years ago. It was ascertained that harvesters were then selling in Melbourne at £70 and £73, in Adelaide up to £81, in Brisbane at £80, in Sydney from £73 to £74, and in Perth at £82. An examination of the various machines in the market was made by Mr. Woodroffe, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Victorian Railways, and the Commission had under examination a McKay harvester, a Deering harvester, and one of the International Harvester Company’s machines, together with a local drill and an imported drill. Mr. Woodroffe gave the price for the manufacture of these machines at the Victorian Railways workshops. He based his estimate on the wages laid down in Mr. Justice Higgins’ award for the agricultural implement industry, although those wages were higher than those being paid. The conclusion to which Mr. Woodroffe came was that the cost, in the case of McKay’s harvester, would be £45, and of the imported harvester £35. Thus it will be seen that the sale price was about double the manufacturing price. The cost of manufacturing machine drills Mr. Woodroffe gave as £18 6s. for the International machine, and £20 4s. for the Mitchell machine; and, as the price on the market was £39, we see that here, again, the farmer was paying nearly double.
Time payment. When machines are sold on time payment, it was ascertained by the Commission that the interest charges in the case of the International harvester were 15^ to 23 per cent., the Massey-Harris machine 13 to 27 per cent., and the McKay machine 16 to 23’ per cent. In some of the States the interest reached as high as 53 per cent. Prices of all these machines have since advanced.
Combine in jute fabrics. The bulk handling of grain is being advocated in New South Wales as against the bag system of sending the farmers’ wheat to market; and the Daily Telegraph of Sydney has published some special articles on the subject. In one of these articles, which appeared on the 22nd August last, reference is made to the way in which the farmer is being robbed by the gamblers who are operating in sacks and bags. This is what the newspaper said -
Some of the Sydney wheat shippers are also large importers of jute fabrics, principally cornsacks, bran bags, and woolpacks. In addition, there are several wealthy firms which make a speciality of trading in such fabrics, and not a few which gamble openly, or sub rosa, in such goods to the extent of many thousands of pounds sterling per annum. The jute gamblers represent, indeed, a class of their own quite as much as racing men or devotees of the humble two-up school. The market variations are often violent, always uncertain, frequently incomprehensible. Among representative Sydney operators there are, not only wheat shippers and jute specialists, but chartered accountants, auctioneers, professional men, company secretaries, and general and produce merchants of every description.
One would almost think that the writer was describing our friends opposite -
There are dozens of men in Sydney handling cornsacks daily, on paper, who have absolutely no consumptive outlet whatever. Naturally, huge sums are sometimes lost and won. At the moment, a bale of cornsacks is worth about £g, and some men deal in thousands of bales. It is a business that calls for financial ability of no mean order, and nerves of steel. But it represents a powerful section of vested interests, all of which are strongly opposed to bulk handling. The producers should be proportionately strong upon the other side.
Thus the Daily Telegraph shows how the’ farmer is being robbed by the unscrupulous ring that has control of the market in sacks and bags.
– Is this ring confined to one State?
– Probably it is InterState.
– Then why did not the late Government deal with it?
– The late Government came to the conclusion that, under the Constitution as at present, they were unable to deal with such matters. The present Attorney-General is now in power, and we shall see how he will deal with it. Let the Attorney-General exercise his legal ingenuity and bring this trust to book.
– Where is the evidence that the late Government had no constitutional power to deal with it?
– We had an experience in the Vend case, in which was concerned the combine that has control of 90 per cent, of the coal production of the Commonwealth, and 90 per cent, of the freight round the coast, and which has increased the wholesale price of coal from 14s. to 24s. per ton. Yet the High Court decided - this is one point I noticed - that as the shareholders of the coal and shipping companies are also members of the public, and benefited by the higher rates, the increase in the price could not be held to be to the detriment of the public as a whole.
– Where is the evidence of the honorable member’s statement that the late Government found they had no constitutional power to deal with the matter?
– I refer the honorable member to the ex-Attorney-General, who has dealt with this question, and has been able to put it in such a way that the other side has not attempted to answer it. I have here the pamphlet which the Attorney-General issued to the electors of Flinders, and in which he admits that’ there ought to be an alteration of the Constitution to enable the Government to effectively control the operations of trusts and combines.
– Has the honorable member any evidence-
– Did the AttorneyGeneral issue that pamphlet to the electors of Flinders? The honorable gentleman has put a question to me, and I put one to him ; he need not think that he may put all the questions.
– The honorable member might answer the question I put.
– Let me inform the Attorney-General that my time is limited. His own pamphlet is better evidence than 1 could produce. 1 am sorry that honorable members opposite should be so disturbed by these references to the rings which support them, and contribute to their election funds, and are fleecing the farmer. The Government propose nothing to relieve the farmer from these exactions. He is being robbed in the special direction, and also in common with the general community, so far as ordinary necessaries of life in daily use are concerned. I can give the Attorney-General another instance of a trust.
Flour. I have before me the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 2nd September, which arrived in Melbourne yesterday. It states -
Flour, £8 15s. per ton of 2,000 lbs., association price. For export the price was £7 15s. to £& per ton.
In Australia, to supply bread for our own people, flour was £1 per ton dearer than for export, to supply Chows and Japs. Is not that evidence of the operations of the trusts? Is it not evidence of a combination which is operating to the detriment of the Australian public? Yet honorable members opposite have the impudence to tell us that there are no rings and trusts operating to the injury of the people of Australia. The Sydney Daily Telegraph of 8th May gives the Sydney price of flour at £8 15s., for export £8 to £8 10s. This shows, between May and December, no variation in the Australian price, but the export price can be varied to suit the foreign market.
Bread. Let us follow the flour until it reaches the baker. At the monthly meeting of the Melbourne Master Bakers Association, on 6th February, 1913, a discussion took place on the price of bread and flour. Here is an extract from the Australasian Baker with reference to that meeting -
Mr. G. C. Watson said they were confronted with a weakening flour market. A few shillings drop in the price of flour might mean lowering the price of bread by one-halfpenny a loaf. This would be calamitous. At Fitzroy they had discussed the matter, and had come to the conclusion that the millers’ hands might be strengthened.
Mr. Frank Gearan said that now was their opportunity of helping the millers, and they should do it. They could better afford to let dour remain firm than to have it drop, and bring down the price of bread.
Mr. Watson moved that a deputation be appointed to wait on the millers to consider the price of Sour, but eventually an amendment was carried to refer the matter to the executive, with power to act.
In the Melbourne Herald of the 2nd September there will be found an account of an interview with Mr. J. W. Page, master baker, St. Kilda, who was guilty of a desire to sell bread at 3d. per loaf whilst the master bakers had fixed the price at 3£. He refused to increase his price, with the consequence that the bakers went to the millers and tried to boycott him and prevent him from getting any flour.
I have had some experience in this business. For a number of years I was in business with a general store and a bakery attached to it. I dealt in flour, and know what it costs - to turn flour into bread . This was fourteen or fifteen years ago, when there was no labour-saving machinery, and the cost of making bread was consequently greater than it is to-day. I have bought flour at £8 15s. a ton and sold bread at 2Jd. a loaf, making a reasonable profit. With bread at 3d. per loaf a really good profit could be made. At the present time there is a combine amongst the bakers of Sydney and Melbourne. The price throughout is 3£d. per loaf. Some years ago you could go down George-street, West Sydney; Kingstreet, Newtown; or Botany-street, Redfern, and see placards announcing a cutting price for bread when flour was at its present price. You could see bread at 2Jd. per loaf in one shop and at 3d. in another. To-day you will not find any variation in the price of bread throughout the whole of Sydney or Melbourne. The price of the Master Bakers Association rules everywhere, and it is an exorbitant price, taking into account the present price of flour.
– Are not wages higher?
– I will show what the increase of wages amounts to in the cost of producing bread. In my own electorate there is a bread factory which turns 140 bags of flour per night into bread. I was in business fourteen years ago, and then should have required to employ fifty bakers to handle 140 bags of flour per night. In this factory, with its modern machinery, there are only four bakers employed. So that if those four bakers received an increase of 10s. per week in their wages, the difference in the cost of bread production would be infinitesimal. At the present time, with flour at 16s. 9d. for the 200-lb. bag, the cost of the labour employed upon the bag would be 3s. 3d. All the other charges put together would amount to about 2s. 6d. So that the total cost of turning a bag of flour into bread would be about £i 2s. 6d. As flour is handled by the bread factories by modern machinery, a 200-lb. bag would realize, at 3£d. per loaf, £2 0s. 10d., showing a profit of 17s. 6d. per bag. It will therefore be seen how much profit is being made by a factory which handles 140 bags per night.
Butter. At the instance of the Minister of Trade and Customs, information was supplied to this House from London by the High Commissioner, Sir George Reid, comparing the Sydney and London prices of butter from January to June, 1912. The information is very interesting. The details are as follow: -
The cost of the carriage of butter from Australia to London amounts to lis. per cwt. Yet butter can be sent to London and sold at from 20s. to 30s. per cwt. lower than the price for which it is sold in Australia.
Beef and mutton. On the 28th August, 1912, further information was supplied to this House at the instance of the Minister of Trade and Customs from the High Commissioner, Sir George Reid, in regard to the wholesale prices of butter, beef, and mutton in Great Britain and Australia. The following figures compare wholesale prices at Smithfield and Melbourne. In regard to meat, the total cost of shipping to England is given at ltd per lb., which, in a comparison of prices, should be deducted from the English prices. The figures are as follow -
We have been told that there is no Meat Trust in Australia, and that we have no need to fear its operations. If meat is sold cheaper 10,000 miles away, there must be a combine rigging the local price. In the Baily Telegraph last Saturday, 30th August, there was a special article dealing with the world’s meat shortage. It refers to the operations of the American Beef Trust in Argentina. Under a subheading, “ To kill competition,” the following statement is made : -
A very few years ago it was not unusual to note definite denials that the Trust had actually established itself in Argentina. But there is no denying the existence of the Trust in Argentina now. It has been painfully made manifest. During a debate which took place in the Argentine Legislative Chamber last June, speakers re- presenting all parties freely admitted the existence of an American Meat Trust in the country, and also that the presumed object was to kill -competition.
Honorable members opposite have been denying that the American Meat Trust is operating in Australia. Apparently “they will wait until the trust has got us in its grip, and it is almost impossible for us to free ourselves. Then they will wake up to its existence in Australia. The article goes on -
It is admitted that the meat at present consumed in the Republic is inferior in quality to that which is exported to England.
Further on, this statement is made -
It is notorious that at the present time the price of meat in this country is rising to such a point as to place it beyond the reach of the working classes, and we are firmly convinced that unless a limit is placed upon exportation meat will in a very short time become an absolute luxury. In ample confirmation of this view, we have the statements recently made in the daily press of Buenos Ayres that already in the districts of General La Madrid, Trenque Lauquen, and others in the province of Buenos Ayres, butchers’ shops have been opened where horse flesh is being sold exclusively.
– That is owing to the Meat Trust.
– It is owing to the operations of the American Meat Trust. Argentina is a much larger producer of meat than is Australia. In the past it has had much larger exports, yet that is the shortness of supply which has been brought about in that country. We are on the road to the same difficulty in Australia, yet our opponents on the other side object to the Constitution being altered so that we can control these trusts and combines.
Fruit. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 7th May, i913, published a letter from Mr. David Hannah, who is connected with the fruit industry, in which he says -
On March 26th I left Sydney, returning from the Easter Show, and at the railway fruit stall asked the price of apples. They were nice coloured fruit, highly polished, but of very moderate size; in fact, on the small size. Price, 2s. 6d. per dozen. What did the grower get? On market quotations on that day certainly not more than gd. I then priced grapes, simplyfair fruit. Price, is. per lb. Growers got about 3d., and paid all charges of transit and auction.
Commenting on the fruit supply, in a leading article on the 25th April, 1913, the Sydney Morning Herald says -
It is rather an extraordinary thing that, despite all the natural advantages for fruitgrowing this State enjoys, the inhabitants of Sydney should be faced with the alternative of paying exorbitant prices for this very necessary article of diet, or doing without it altogether. . . .
Further on, it says - . . . There is no reason to suppose that the supply of fruit is not equal to the demand. Indeed, the reverse is true; we hear stories of fruit being left to rot on the trees or given to pigs because it is impossible or unprofitable to send it to town, and, at the same time, we all know that in town what is properly regarded as a necessary is rapidly becoming a luxury. Yet every one connected with fruit repudiates the suggestion that they are making profits out of it. . . .
Is not that evidence of a combination operating to the detriment of the public? Yet we are told by our honorable friends on the other side that everything is right, that there is no need to interfere.
Tea. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 26th April, 1913, says- . . . And the Governor of Hunan proposes to restrict still further the import of that tea by forming a Trust to raise prices. The production of tea by this scheme is to be limited, and what is produced is to be sold through one agency.
This shows the wide area covered by “ trustification.”
Cocoa. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 24th April, 1913, says-
Price fixed by speculators at enormously increased prices, notwithstanding immensely increased production.
Sugar. We all know the operations of the Sugar Trust in Australia. Sugar can be sent to South Africa and sold over the grocer’s counter there at a halfpenny per pound less than it can be sold in Australia. I have here the local prices of sugar which were submitted by the Department of Trade and Customs to the House last year -
Exports and Prices.
Prices in Sydney for IA. sugar on the dates specified : -
That is the maximum price, and is reducible by 19s. per ton for every reduction of 20s. per ton in the gross price to wholesale grocers below £21 19s.
That shows that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is able to sell sugar in Australia at £18 per ton, yet it demands from the public that they should pay £26 per ton. This is the company that contributed £50,000 to the defeat of the referenda. I hold in my hand Joseph Palmer and Son’s monthy share-list publications, compiled to the 20th May, 1913, in which they say -
Should the referenda be rejected at the forthcoming elections we expect to see a good rise in the shares.
That is in the shares of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The referenda were defeated. The price of shares did go up.
– What was the price of the company’s shares then ?
– According to this circular, the company - paid the same rate of dividend, 12^ per cent., and shares are now obtainable at £42 ss. 6d.
– The shares are about £45 or £46 now ?
– On the 20th August the shares were quoted at £45. This company has been making such fabulous profits that it has had to take some steps to hide them. I have here a copy of a series of resolutions which were put to a special general meeting of the shareholders by the directors on the 20th August, 1913, and carried -
The meeting carried thi3 series of resolutions, and a shareholder did not have to apply to get the new share given to him for nothing, and carrying the dividends for the year. If he did nothing, the resolutions provided that the share should be allotted to him as long as he did not say that he did not want it.
Milk. This is another necessary article of diet. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 5th May, 1913, contains the following news item from Wollongong -
The milk supply here is on the increase,, but dairy farmers contend that it has not increased to an extent to justify the distributing companies in reducing the price to 8d. per gallon. A reduction from nd. to 8d. per gallon in three weeks is considered to be a great deal more than the average farmer can accept. It is understood that the dairymen from the south coast have been in communication with the Camden suppliers.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 27th August, 1913, contains the following news item from Camden -
An important meeting of the Camden dairymen was held last night to discuss the situation arising from a notice from the Fresh Food and Ice Company, intimating that a reduction in the price of milk would take effect from Friday next.
Mr. A. V. Moore, on behalf of the executive, stated that on Friday last Mr. Wilson, representing the company, informed him that the price of milk was to drop from 8d. to 6d. from Friday next, 29th instant.
During the whole of this time milk was sold throughout the metropolitan area of Sydney for 5d. per quart, yet the distributing company paid lid. per gallon for it. On the 5th May the milk companies paid lid. per gallon to the dairy farmer; then they reduced the price to the dairy farmer, to 8d., and now they have reduced the price to 6d. per gallon, while still charging -5d. per quart to the consumer. Yet we are told that there are no combinations, no trusts, no monopolies, operating to the detriment of the Australian public. Nothing, we are told, needs to be interfered with. Here is a milk company which can say- to the producers of milk, “You shall accept 6d. per gallon for your milk, or the milk can rot,” and it can then go to the consumers and say, “You can either pay 5d. per quart for milk, or go without it.” It can fix the price at either end. If we could buy the absolute necessaries of life at our own prices, and retail them to the public at our own prices, we would have a pretty good thing on. But the Government - these special pleaders for exploiting forces - tell us that there is nothing wrong with the world, that everything is all right.
Condensed Milk. With regard to the price of condensed milk manufactured in Australia, I have it on the authority of the Judge of the Arbitration Court in Western Australia, as given in a report of proceedings in the Boulder Star of the 11th April, 1913, that in towns not very far apart there was a difference of 2d. per tin for the milk, and it transpired that it was through the higgling of the market by the manufacturers in that State.
Jam. The Sydney Morning Herald of 18th April says jam is cheaper in “Victoria than in New South Wales. It is considerably cheaper here. We know that if there is free competition where the price is higher, there would the commodity flow naturally, but there is absolutely no competition of Victorian jam in New South Wales. It shows beyond a doubt that the business is being operated by a combine. Yet the Government tell us that there is no combine.
Biscuits. In New South Wales a person cannot buy any of the buscuits manufactured by Swallow and Ariell in Melbourne, nor in Victoria can one buy any of Arnott’s biscuits manufactured in New South Wales. I challenge my honorable friends opposite to go round the grocers’ shops here and see if they can buy one of Arnott’s biscuits. It cannot be done. In New South Wales, no biscuit manufacturing firm, other than Arnott’s, can get an advertisement in the Herald or the Daily Telegraph at any price. There is an arrangement with Arnott’s Biscuit Company that no competitor shall be able to give publicity to his wares through the columns of those newspapers. Yet we are told that there is not any combination or monopoly.
Fish. The Sydney Morning Herald of the 18th April, 1913, reports -
The advance in prices of agency and proprietary grocery lines was further exemplified yesterday when Morton herrings were put up 3d. per dozen lb.
Referring to salmon, the Sydney Morning
Herald of the same date says -
Salmon was selling better, and the wholesale houses would not quote parcels on the same terms as a couple of weeks ago.
Confectionery. The Attorney-General told us that there was free trade in confectionery.
– Have you got the combine’s agreement?
– I have not the agreement; but I know how it operated against a relative who was in the business. I can speak of one line, from my own knowledge. .In New South Wales, Henderson manufactures “ Henderson’s honey kisses.” In Victoria, MacRobertson manufactures “ milk .kisses.” My relative had worked up a small connexion near one of the theatres in “ MacRobertson’s milk kisses.” Suddenly, a traveller representing that firm came along, and another quantity of “ MacRobertson’s milk kisses “ was ordered. The traveller said, “ We cannot book the order. Our firm has come to an agreement with Henderson’s, in Sydney, that we shall not compete against them in New South Wales, and that they shall not compete against us in Victoria.” This is the combination that the AttorneyGeneral denies the existence of. Surely it is detrimental to Australian trade, as well as prejudicial to’ the consumer, if goods are produced within the Commonwealth which one cannot buy.
Coal. The coal companies control 90 per cent, of the production of coal in Australia, and the Shipping Ring controls 90 per cent, of the freightage round our coast. Immediately the coal companies and the shipping companies entered into an arrangement the price of coal jumped up from 14s. to 24s. per ton. People might shiver through the cold winter, but they could not get coal unless they paid 24s. per ton for it.
Shipping. From the Go-operator of the 11th April, 1912, I extract the following
Two instances of the exploiting tactics of the Inter-State shipping ring came under notice recently in Tasmania. The wharf labourers secured a small increase in wages. Immediately the freight of fruit was increased. Upon one consignment of 6,000 cases of apples an enterprising farmer enquired into the relative prices, and found as follows : - Extra pay to 17 men, 10s ; increased freight, £12 10s. ; owners’ profit, 10s.
The Sydney Morning Herald of 3rd May of the present year supplies us with still another instance. It says -
The Government had negotiated for the whole of the ship’s space on behalf of the producers in the Closer Settlement areas, but the agents had absolutely refused. They had said that such refusal was under instructions from the London offices.
I will conclude my remarks on the exploitation of the people by these rings and combines by quoting from a letter written by the Rev. Thos. Morgan to the Sydney Morning Herald on 7th May last. He says -
We have been called a nation of shopkeepers. Is it the commercial spirit that has caused us to lose our true estimate of man? We number cattle by the head, but men has diminished to a mere hand. .We see nothing but a hand stretched out as if imploring our assistance; the smoke has hidden his soul out of sight.
Honorable members opposite are being so well looked after by these trusts, rings, and combines that they cannot even see the hand through the smoke.
Revenue Duties. There is another way in which the prices of the necessaries of life are being affected. The Prime Minister, in his policy speech, said that the Government intended to abolish the purely revenue duties on the necessaries of life, and thus help to reduce the cost of those commodities. I have repeatedly tried to have such taxes abolished. I have’ prepared a table, in which I have set out certain articles, the quantity imported into the Commonwealth in 1912, the rate of duty, and the total amount of duty collected. It reads -
The Government, whose members were elected on a promise made to the people that they would abolish these purely revenue duties, and thus reduce the cost of living, now make no mention of it. They have thus repudiated the policy which they put before the country. I have given ample proof that the cost of living in Australia is being influenced by the operation of rings, trusts, and combines. I have proved my contention by quotations from the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Daily Telegraph - by evidence from anti-Labour sources. There cau be no doubt that the people of this country are being robbed day and night by these rings, trusts, and combines. The daily newspapers which represent these exploiting factions, and which live upon their advertisements, are busy throwing dust into the eyes of the public morning, noon, and night. People are led to believe that the cost of living is being affected by other causes. I admit that other causes are operating - causes of world-wide influence. But I have quoted local causes which cannot be disputed. I defy any supporter of the Government to rebut my statements. The Prime Minister, I notice, has just entered the chamber. He had much to say about the high cost of living and the abolition of revenue duties during the recent election campaign. These things formed part of his policy speech at Parramatta. But there is no mention made of them now.
– Mention of what ?
– Of reducing the cost of living. In the electorate adjoining my own, a pamphlet was issued by the Liberal organization inviting electors to - “ Vote for the Senate three and reduce rents.”
The Prime Minister knows perfectly well that when that statement was made he had no intention of doing anything in that direction. In the electorate of Lang I saw great signs bearing the inscription - “ Vote for W. E. Johnson and reduce the cost of living.”
– I saw that.
– What did the Prime Minister do when he saw it? Did he know that he and his party were being misrepresented and yet say nothing of it? He knows that the Government dare not interfere with the high cost of living. Who was it that contributed the £500 which was wired to Mr. Fowler to enable him to fight his election battle in Perth ? The Fusion party know that they could not get money from these trusts, rings, and combines if they seriously tackled the question of the high cost of living. The other day the Prime Minister spoke of sending us back to our masters, the people. He stated that the Government were going to choose their own time for a dissolution. I venture to say that in New South Wales they will find that there has been such a reaction on account of their unfulfilled promises - their fooling of the people - that the Labour party will be returned from that State numerically as strong as it was in the last Parliament.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 till 7.45 p.m.
The Tariff. I find that the time at my disposal is not sufficient to enable me to deal with the Tariff as I desire, and I shall therefore reserve my remarks concerning it for another occasion.
Social and Industrial Legislation. During the last Parliament, the present Prime Minister, and some of his supporters, expressed their views on the subject of old-age pensions. For instance, the Prime Minister, Mr. Joseph Cook, is reported in Volume LXII., page 2840, of Hansard, to have said -
I wish now to refer to the question of old-age pensions. Fora long time I have felt that our scheme is upon a wrong footing. Old-age pensions should be lifted out of the charitable rut in which they are running. . . . The taint of pauperism and charity should be entirely eliminated from them. . . . The more I think of it the more convinced I am that we must come ultimately to a form of national insurance which will give every man - the millionaire as well as the poor man - who subscribes to his own insurance fund, the right to receive that insurance without the taint of pauperism or charity in his old age. That is the scheme which commends itself to my mind.
– If the honorable member had that scheme would he repeal the Old-Age Pensions Act?
Mr.JOSEPH COOK.- There would be no need for the Old-Age Pensions Act if there were in operation a scheme such as I have in mind.
The honorable member for Wilmot, Mr. Atkinson - his remarks are to be found in Hansard, Volume LXII., page 2577 - speaking on the same subject, said -
If money is to be doled out as at present, we shall run the risk of sapping the selfreliance of the people.
– Is the honorable member against the old-age pension scheme?
– Whilst I am not against the old-age pension system, I should like to see some collateral system established whereby it might be brought home to the people that it is the duty of every citizen, as far as possible, to put himself above the need of an old-age pension, and also to provide for the necessities of those who are not so fortunate as he may have been. . . . But all should be made to contribute in some way, and when a man has to draw his pension there should be no stigma of charity attaching to it. He should be able to take it as a reward for his own foresight.
The Attorney-General, Mr. W. H. Irvine, said - Hansard, Volume LXII., page 2574-
I should be very sorry, however, to see a system of old-age pensions doled out by the Treasury made a permanent part of our public policy. … I think I am right in saying that the view of nearly all those who have been engaged in such work is that the contributory basis is the only sound and permanent basis for a system of this kind.
The honorable member for Parkes, Mr. Bruce Smith, said - Hansard, Volume LXII., page 2795-
In dealing with pension cases I have been struck with this anomaly, that the present system offers an inducement to improvidence. I do not say that I have discovered a better system, but we should not lend ourselves to one which deliberately discourages thrift and offers a premium to improvidence.
The Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Glynn, referring to the maternity allowance on the 21st August of last year - Hansard, Volume LXV., page 2443 - said -
The expenditure on old-age and invalid pensions for this year is set down at£2,405,000, and the maternity allowance would bring it up to 2,805,000. Personally I disapprove of the latter.
Let me now give some of the utterances of these gentlemen during the present year. This is from a report in the Melbourne Age of 15th March last, of a meeting addressed by the present AttorneyGeneral -
Questioner. - Which of the laws of the present Government would you repeal ?
Candidate. - Lots of them. The maternity bonus for one.
A meeting addressed by the present Prime Minister, Mr. Joseph Cook, was reported in the Age of the 5th of February last, as follows -
Question. - If the Liberal party comes into power, will it reduce the old-age pensions?
– Certainly not. On the contrary, it will take steps to put the whole scheme of industrial insurance on a proper footing.
That is perfectly in accordance with the previous statement that pensions and the maternity allowance should be included within the same contributory scheme. This is a report which appeared in the Argus of 15th April last, of a meeting addressed by the present AttorneyGeneral -
Mr. Irvine, who was received with cheers, said that the policy of the Liberal party had already been announced by the leader of that party, and it was a source of great gratification to him personally that that policy contained two things at least among its fundamental factors which had been recommended by him (Mr. Irvine) on every platform throughout his constituency. The first was the creation of an independent Tariff Board .of skilled business men -
A Board of that kind has not been appointed - § and the other was a scheme of general national insurance. At the last general election he had expressed the strong hope that such a scheme would ultimately supplant the unsound system which, had been adopted by the present Ministry
The Fisher Government - the system of meeting all ills from which humanity could suffer bv the simple expedient of lending money out of the Treasury.
Indignation was expressed throughout the length and breadth of the country at the evident intention of the Fusion party to interfere with the old-age pensions and the maternity allowance, and to show that it was the intention of the party to do this, let me quote from the Argus, a newspaper which supports the Fusion. On the 16th April last, the ex- AttorneyGeneral, Mr. Hughes, wrote to the editor of that newspaper, pointing out the evident intentions of the Fusion party in re- gard to pensions and the maternity allowance, and to his letter the editor added this footnote -
Every one knows, and none better than Mr. Hughes, that Mr. Irvine and all the Liberal candidates adopt Mr. Joseph Cook’s declaration for the party on these questions, namely, that the bonus and pensions will be reconsidered in connexion with a broad scheme of contributory insurance (such as the Radical, Mr. LloydGeorge, has introduced into Great Britain).
Finding that their proposals were creating an uproar, the statements of the Fusion party were slightly altered. In support of this, let me quote speeches made by the Prime Minister, Mr. Joseph Cook, and the Minister of Trade and Customs, Mr. Groom. This is what the Prime Minister said in his policy speech -
We propose to continue and greatly extend the good work already begun by the Liberals along lines suggested by the experience of other countries. We propose to mature as early as possible a comprehensive scheme of national insurance providing for sickness, accident, maternity, widowhood, and unemployment on a contributory basis
He emphasized the statement that his scheme was to be supplementary to, and not in substitution of, the existing pensions. It is clear that his remarks referred to the criticism of his proposed interference with pensions and the maternity allowance. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in stating the policy of the party in his electorate, is reported in the Toowoomba Chronicle as using practically the same words -
An adequate scheme to provide for sickness, accidents, maternity, widowhood, and unemployment on a contributory basis will be submitted ; this will be in addition to the present pension schemes.
Now the Government has presented a programme providing for, among other things, the amendment of the Maternity Allowance Act, so that the allowance shall be payable only in certain cases. I enter my emphatic protest against this. It is a proposal which makes for pauperization, and converts the allowance into a charitable dole. At present, every woman can prefer her claim, and no questions are asked about her social status. The proposal of the Government means that a long rigmarole of questions will be put to each applicant. A woman applying for the allowance will be put in the witness-box, so to speak, cross-examined, catechized, and made to feel her position. If she happens to be in want, it will be rubbed in well that she is being patronized; that the money is being given to her, not because she has a right to it, but because her cupboard is empty, because she is hungry, and because her husband is out of work. She will be asked what employment her husband follows, what wages he gets, whether he puts his money to proper uses, whether he drinks, whether he and she are provident, and how much they have saved. There could be nothing more degrading, particularly in connexion with an allowance of this kind, than to subject women to an inquisition like that, making them feel their poverty. Further, an army of clerks and inspectors will be needed to check the statements that are made, asking next-door neighbours whether they are true, and so forth, and thus the administration of the Act will be so costly that it will be found that it would have been as economical to give the allowance without question to every applicant. This allowance should be given freely, and not by pauperizing methods such as are proposed by the anti-Labour party, who believe in patronizing the poor of the community. The Fusion will have some difficulty in passing their proposed amendment of the law. They will not get it through so long as it is in our power to prevent them from doing so. I say emphatically that they have no authority from the country to interfere with the Maternity Allowance Act. Their candidates represented to the electors that this Act would not be interfered with, and they have, therefore, no authority to amend it.
The Rural Workers. We are told, too, that the provision of the arbitration law which enables the rural workers to submit claims to the Arbitration Court is to be amended so that they may no longer do that. I have read the policy speech of the Prime Minister, and I defy him, or any one, to point to a word in it suggesting that this alteration of the law would be proposed. The Government has no authority from the electors to remove the rural workers from the operation of the arbitration law. The Attorney-General has the impudence to say that he objects, to the Arbitration Court having power to grant preference to unionists, particularly while unionists may use any of their funds for political purposes. The Farmers and Settlers Association, of which it is the boast of some honorable members opposite that they are the nominees, is permitted to spend its funds on political purposes. Honorable members opposite wish to give a preference to the farmers and settlers, putting them in a better position than other employers of labour. All other employers are to be compelled to pay the wages, and to observe the conditions fixed by the Arbitration Court; but the farmers and settlers are to be exempt from the jurisdiction of the Court, the rural workers not being permitted to appeal to it. This is a more direct form of preference than allowing the Court discretion to grant preference to unionists. Honorable members are making their proposals fit in with their political situation. Although Ministers have stated that they would abolish preference in connexion with employment in the Public Service, they made no statement regarding the abolition of the preference provided for in the arbitration law. In the Prime Minister’s policy speech there is not one word on that point. The Government, therefore, have no authority whatever for it, and they cannot expect the Opposition to allow them to work their own sweet will in a way for which they have no mandate from the country.
Preference to Unionists. - Little more than a week ago - namely, on 26th ultimo - I dealt with it in this House in a speech of about an hour’s duration. I then quoted the present Prime Minister, who delivered one of the most effective speeches ever made on the subject. Any one who wishes to have all the arguments in favour of preference to unionists need only be referred to that address by the honorable gentleman. It is not necessary for me to add anything to it. On 12th June, 1912, the present Prime Minister, Mr. Joseph Cook, speaking at Lithgow, said that he believed in having his own opinion, and would not allow any caucus to think for him, or to come between him and his constituents. He added that he had not altered his position. Others, he said, had done the jumping round, and now imagined that he had. In other words, although he had left the Labour party, he still held the opinions that he expressed when he was leader of the Labour party in New South Wales, and a union secretary. He said, in effect, “ The only change that has taken place in my position is that I simply do not sign the pledge or go into the caucus of the Labour party, but I still hold the opinions that I expressed in the old days.” Those who are in search of ail the arguments in favour of unionism and preference to unionists, the case against victimization, free labour, and freedom of contract, as well as an answer to the Employers Federation and the position taken up by the capitalists of Australia, will find all they require in the speech made by the Prime Minister which I quoted last week. It constitutes one of the most effective answers that could possibly be given to the attitude taken up by the Government of to-day.
Unemployment Insurance. My time has almost expired, but before resuming my seat I should like to say that, in my opinion, the Government are not in earnest in regard to the question of unemployment insurance. On 26th September last, the honorable member for Kooyong, Sir Robert Best, when the Maternity Allowance Bill was under consideration, moved an amendment, as reported in Hansard, page 3541, to the effect that the Labour Government then in power should bring in a general insurance scheme, and that the benefits of that scheme should be immediate and adequate. He then stated -
The last Government gave very full attention to this matter, and it was my duty to collect information for the framing of a Bill to carry into effect its policy. That information is in the possession of the Department which I was administering. . . . If it is objected that our proposal means delay, or the defeat of the Bill, I say that that is a most unworthy charge.
The honorable member then said that the Fusion party had practically prepared a Bill in regard to unemployment insurance, but we are now told that the Government are going to institute inquiries. They objected to our referenda proposals, which, if carried, would have given this Parliament power to legislate with respect to unemployment, yet they now tell us that they are going to introduce an unemployment scheme, which they must know is absolutely unconstitutional. The honorable member for Kooyong has been silent on this matter during the present debate, although he spoke at length on other questions. In these circumstances, therefore, it cannot be said that they are serious in their promise regarding this matter. It is purely political shop window dressing. They intend to do nothing. I sympathize with those who suffer from unemployment, and shall be extremely happy to do all that I can, both inside and outside the House, to mitigate the evils and the disabilities arising therefrom.
Administration. The only other point to which I desire to refer relates to the administration rr the Government since they have been in office. I do not think it possible to find in the annals of responsible government the case of any Ministry assuming office, and then running about, as the members of this Ministry have done, like a lot of pimps and detectives, prying into a departmental drawer here, or dipping into the waste-paper basket there, to try to find some little mutter in which a trifling mistake was made by their op opponenets The present Government have been scavenging in the dirt bins. I do not think we have ever seen anything more deplorable than that which has been exhibited, more particularly by the three New South Welshmen in the Ministry - the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, and the Honorary Minister, Mr. Kelly.
Cockatoo Island Dock, Sydney, was taken over by the Labour Government on the recommendation of Admiral Henderson. He must have known what he was doing when he recommended that it should be taken over. The present Government, however, thought that they had found some little flaw in connexion with the matter, and wished to blame the Labour Government for it.
Then, again, at the Federal Capital, some cottages were built for a certain amount, while others cost a little more. The present Government have suggested that there must have been something wrong with the administration ; whereas the fact is that structural differences in the buildings account for the difference in cost. Complaint has also been made tn.-t. some cottages in the Federal Capital have been built out of alignment, as if the Minister had gone to the Territory and individually supervised the work.
We were told by the Fusion party that appointments made by the Labour Government in the Northern Territory were totally unnecessary. The present Minister of External Affairs” tells us now, however, that he does not find that any one of these appointments was unnecessary.
Although the Labour Government expended from £50,000,000 to £60,000,000 in carrying out some of the greatest national undertakings that any Parliament could give effect to, honorable m tubers opposite have discovered practically nothing about which any complaint can justifiably be made.
They said after the last general election, that, under the electoral law, there was wholesale corruption. In my own electorate they discovered that forty-six persons appeared to have voted twice. 1 found that nearly all these were Liberals; so that if they voted twice, they must have voted against me. I invite the Government to take action. As a matter of fact, they know full well that the alleged duplication of votes was simply due to clerical errors made in the polling booth.
These Ministers, in short, have been engaged in scavenging, in the hope of finding something to aim at our party. Such a thing has never been known before in the history of responsible government.
.- As the Prime Minister and other honorable members have pointed out, this discussion has extended over three weeks; and so much has been said, and well said, by honorable members on both sides - whom I compliment on the high level at which they have maintained the debate - that it is difficult for one who follows them to break new ground. Nevertheless, one feels compelled to speak, because of the custom - and a very bad custom it is - which makes it usual that all should take part in a debate on the AddressinReply. The custom is, and should be, obsolete. It has come down to us from immemorial time, and is coated thickly with the dust of ancient days. My own view is that there is no occasion for a lengthy debate on such a motion. The custom of debating it at length has been handed down to us by the Mother of Parliaments; but it is not a good one, and should be abolished at the earliest possible moment. In this case, we have been dealing concurrently with two questions - the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, and the motion of censure. In ordinary circumstances the debate on the AddressinReply should not occupy more than a couple of hours. When the motion has been moved and seconded by honorable members on the Government side of the House, it should be at once disposed of. If that course were followed we should then be able without further delay to get to work and to do the business to which the country expects us to attend. When, however, a motion of censure is tabled by way of amendment, it is imperative that we should discuss it, not because we are anxious to do so, but because custom demands it of us. Every honorable member who has addressed himself to this question will admit, I think, that he has been speaking, not so much to his fellow-members, as to his constituents. We are threatened by the Prime Minister with a penal dissolution. So far as that aspect of the matter is concerned, I may say at once that I am in entire agreement with the view expressed by the honorable member for Corio and the honorable member for Bourke. Like them, I, too, am not looking for a dissolution. There are courageous men on both sides who say that they want one. I frankly admit that I do not. I have no desire to go to the country. I have just come from it, and I think that one can have too much of the country. Looking at the situation to-day, one cannot help realizing that history has repeated itself. My recollection takes me back to a memorable occasion when the parties in this House were so evenly divided that one man held the balance of power. I remember his standing at the end of the table and delivering a lengthy and interesting speech.
– In the very centre of the House.
– In the very centre, so that his position should not indicate on which side he intended to vote. That honorable member, however, took me into his confidence shortly before he spoke. At that time we adorned these benches as we do to-day, and, coming to me, he said, “ Bamford, do you want a dissolution ?” I promptly replied, “ No, I am damned if I do.” That is my sentiment to-day, but you will note, Mr. Speaker, that it is minus the adjective. I agree with the honorable member for Bourke that those who want a dissolution should be allowed to have one. But they should let off those of us who do not want it, and should allow us to sit here in peace and quietness. If they did, we should have more peace than we have had during the last few weeks. During this debate an avalanche of adjectives has fallen from both sides, the one trying to crush the other. When honorable members now sitting on the Government side of the House were in opposition they were quite as discursive as any party has ever been in this Chamber. The present Prime Minister, and another honorable member who has since been elevated to a very high and responsible position in this Chamber, were then very severe in their criticism of the Government of the day, more particularly when the supporters of that Government declined to talk. Adopting the tactics now being pursued by honorable members opposite, we remained silent, and were told by honorable members opposite that we were muzzled by the Caucus, and dare not speak. It is not possible now that we are in opposition to taunt us in that way. The present Government party who were then on this side of the House were most anxious that we should speak, and heaped upon us a great deal of abuse because of our silence. The honorable member for Frankin who, like myself, is - the mildest manner’d man That ever scuttled ship or cut a throat. exhausted his vocabulary in castigating us for our silence. We now ask honorable members opposite why they refuse to talk. The Opposition have been doing all the debating during the past two days ; and the charge that was formerly levelled at us may now be levelled at honorable members opposite. That mild-mannered man, the honorable member for Echuca, who has made the most serious charges against members of the Labour party, and has at times used language which, coming from a gentleman with the reputation of a “ wowser,” has shocked me, though I am not easily shocked, is not here tonight. I suppose that he is somewhere chained up, though doubtless he is kicking against the pricks of the Caucus of the Liberal party, who will not allow him to speak. The honorable member for Franklin has shown his independence by addressing the House; but the honorable member for Wakefield is silent, although he is never short of arguments or adjectives, and has addressed to Labour members vituperative language which, I am sure, if he were to look it up in Hansard, would make him blush. Then there is the Honorary Minister, the honorable member for Wentworth, who, when in Opposition, shouted out bitter accusations against the Labour party. He has not made his voice heard.
– I am listening to the silent member !
– If the Honorary Minister has adopted the role of silent member it must be a very distressing one for him. As for yourself, Mr. Speaker, you also probably feel the strain, for we can remember how, in the days of old, when you were a free man, you baited us in that most effective way of which you are a master. As I said before, 1 consider that the debate on the AddressinReply ought to be abolished; but this no-confidence amendment was forced on us against our will, and we felt compelled to pick up the gauntlet thrown down from the Ministerial benches. No one should find fault with the system unless he is prepared to recommend something to remove the difficulties under which we labour at the present time ; and I have a remedy to lay before the House a little later on. Much has been said about matters electoral, and it is difficult to find anything new on which to dilate. I shall, however, refer to my own experience during the last election. That experience is not unique by any means, but was shared by many other honorable members. It is strange that honorable members opposite, who complain that the Labour party’s policy is one of “ spoils to the victors.” have never been known to give spoils to any but their own particular friends.
– Q - Quite right; I approve of it !
– Of course I am right. At the last election there were over 100 polling places in my electorate, and amongst the officials employed I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of, not Labour supporters, but men who might be supposed to have sympathy with Labour ideals. All the other officials were hostile to the Labour party, and voted against it. The ex-Minister ot Home Affairs will bear me out when I say that I never approached the Department to urge the appointment of any man. I left the matter to the honesty and fair play which might reasonably be expected from such a quarter. One singular fact in my electorate was that a polling booth, which for years had been used in both State and Federal elections, was removed from a State school to a most inconvenient position at the house of a farmer who was an open and pronounced Liberal sympathizer.
– A - And yet it was said that I interfered !
– I do not think that in these matters the ex-Minister could have interfered. A similar state of affairs was observed on the occasion of the census in 1911, when the Labour party recommended men who were certainly as competent as, and in some instances more competent than, those who were appointed. One of the supervisors on that occasion could neither read nor write; and I may say that I did not point the fact out to the Minister in charge. These appointments are left in Che hands of the State officials, and if the Minister interferes a State official will say that he knows the man he himself has recommended, whereas he does not know the Ministerial nominee, and that if the Minister insists on a change, he must take the responsibility. The time may come when the Honorary Minister, as Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, may find himself in a similar position, though I hope that before the occasion arises, he will be once more in Opposition. The whole of the officers over a certain grade who are employed at election times are hostile to the Labour party - I say this advisedly - and if they can use any influence that is detrimental to us, they do not hesitate to do so. In my electorate, at the election before the last one, some of the officers actually sent ballot-papers out of the office to people who were sick in an hotel, and when they were remonstrated with, they said they were to do that sort of thing. Another presiding officer, when he was asked what his duty was, replied that it was to see that his own party got a majority.
– I - I had “roosters” of that sort in Tasmania !
– There are “roosters” of that sort everywhere, and they crow about it. When honorable members opposite talk about corruption, my mind takes me back to a time in Queensland before the Labour party was thought of. Corruption was then rife there; and if the Minister of Trade and Customs were present, I dare say he would indorse what I am about to say. At a place called California Gully, although there were less than twenty possible voters, nearly 200 votes were recorded. Then, again, at a place called Aubigny, in the present electorate of Darling Downs, there were on one occasion two candidates for the State Parliament, one the Minister of Lands, and the other a business man of Toowoomba. The supporters of the Minister of Lands were particularly zealous; and when the poll had been declared, and the roll was scanned, it was found that there were nearly 200 more votes recorded than there were names on the roll. All this happened before the Labour party came into existence; and yet we have heard the charges and innuendoes that have fallen from honorable members opposite. Even from the pulpit - not directly, because the speakers were too careful - there were insinuations which could not be misunderstood, that the Labour party had been guilty of most unscrupulous conduct. Why is it that the Labour party is always blamed? Taking the Labour party by and large, they are as honest, sincere, truthful, and scrupulous as any other section of the community; and the charges that have been made have, by experience, been proved untrue. In any case, such occurrences as have been mentioned have occurred again and again at election times. In England, where is the Mother of Parliaments, there have been more corrupt practices than elsewhere, and we have read, and been told, of seats being openly bought and sold in days gone by. The next point with which I have to deal is that of preference to unionists; and I challenge the Prime Minister to bring his proposal into operation. The honorable gentleman dare not give preference to non-unionists; and if he abolishes preference to unionists, he, logically, will do what . I defy him to do. As a matter of fact, I believe the Government are giving preference to non-unionists now, but they dare not do so in connexion with a work of any magnitude carried out by the Common wealth. Of course, if the Prime Minister looks for trouble, he will be sure to find it. I looked for trouble myself on one occasion, and when I came out of the hospital, I was a changed man. Notwithstanding what may be said as to the rural workers, they do not stand alone. No organized workers do stand alone. There is now an amalgamated body with which the rural workers are associated, numbering between 60,000 and 70,000. There is, moreover, a sympathetic vote upon which they know they can always rely. I am associated with an organization which comprises about 10,000 workers. There is trouble in Melbourne to-day, occasioned by the error which has been made by the State Parliament in appointing an Industrial Appeal Court. We have had intense difficulty in preventing that trouble from spreading. The honorable member for West Sydney is not here just now, but I can speak freely in his absence. I am associated with him in the organization to which I have referred ; and I say, without hesitation, that no other man has done so much to maintain peace on occasions when, except for him, this continent would have been involved in serious trouble. Not merely does he make peace when occasions arise calling for his intervention, but his one endeavour has been, and still is, to exercise his influence in the prevention of industrial war. The people of this country owe more to William Morris Hughes than they can possibly realize. I can speak from my own knowledge of what he has done. If he were to lift his finger tonight, and were to send a code message from Melbourne to his secretary in connexion with the trouble which is exercising the people of Melbourne regarding the fodder, fuel, and coal workers, there would be a strike that would involve the whole of Australia in industrial chaos tomorrow, morning. If the policy of the Government regarding the rural workers is insisted on, if they are not to be given fair play and allowed the right which other citizens enjoy, of appealing to the Court. I say that trouble will ensue. The responsibility will devolve upon the Government. If they desire that there shall be trouble, there will be trouble; and they cannot bring it about more effectively than by refusing to give access to the Arbitration Court to the rural workers’. Why should these workers be treated differently from other men ? The rural labourer has been a Helot throughout the ages. As Markham says in his poem, The Man with the Hoe, “ See what you have made of him.” Why should he be trodden down for ever ? He is more necessary for the advancement of the wealth, the comfort, and even the luxury of the community than is any other member of it.
– More, even; than the Attorney-General.
– Yes, more so than the Attorney-General, though AttorneyGenerals are useful sometimes. We ourselves found an eminent lawyer to be useful when we had to go outside our own party to find an Attorney-General some years ago. I do not desire to speak with any disrespect of the Attorney-General, but I say to him, in all seriousness, that it is not right and proper that our rural workers should be refused access to this Court, which has been established for the very purpose of giving workmen the rights to which they are entitled. I trust that the Prime Minister will, before he gives his adherence to the policy which has been taken up by the party opposite, seriously consider the position. I am perfectly certain that, when he realizes the situation, he will not refuse these men access to the Court which other unionists have. If he does, I tell him plainly that the whole of this continent will be involved in industrial chaos. It is so easily done. The honorable member for Darling, a mild-mannered man like myself, is able to teli the Government that the difficulty is not to get men to come out on strike, but to keep them at work. They are always ready and willing to assist their fellow workers; and when the delegate goes round and gives the word, they are out at once. They do not require any persuasion or compulsion. They only want a gentle hand to be lifted, and out they go.
– Sometimes the delegate has a difficulty in keeping them in.
– The difficulty is to prevent them from striking.
– Honorable members on the Ministerial side are looking’ for trouble.
– If they are looking for it they will get it for a certainty. It requires a certain amount ‘ of moral suasion to keep men in sometimes. Perhaps honorable members know what moral suasion is. I remember that on one of my election campaigns I visited a little mining place, where all the men were unionists. Every one of them voted for me. I said to the secretary of the organization, “How do you manage it? “ “ Oh,” he said, “ simply by moral suasion.” I asked, “ How do you define moral suasion?” He replied: “ When a new man comes here, if he does not join the union, the first thing that occurs is that nobody will drink with him. If he does not join then, we refuse to’ sit at table with him. If he is still recalcitrant, we throw his windlass down his shaft. Then we throw other things down his shaft. The last thing we do - and after we have done that he either leaves the place or joins the union - is to throw stones at his dog! “ That is an illustration of what moral suasion means. We do not require to use any influence of that kind to induce men to strike. They are only too willing to come out at any moment to assist their fellow workmen in the defence of their rights. One of the proposals of the Government is that any organization the funds of which are used for political purposes shall not be allowed the privilege of appealing to the Arbitration Court. But that is easily got over. We have only to fee leading counsel, and he will tell us how to overcome a little difficulty like that, even if we cannot find a way out for ourselves. Of course, we know one easy way out. All that we have to do is to pay an honorarium to the president of a union, with the condition understood that he shall hand it into the political organization. There is no difficulty about that.
– Then the honorable member will not object to our proposal ?
– We do object to it on principle. We do not think it fair that anions should be shackled in that way. Seeing that the remedy is so very easy and simple, the Government would be well advised not to endeavour to carry out this item of their policy. Honorable members opposite have declared that they get no financial assistance from bodies that are supposed to be non-political. As a matter of fact, they get all the assistance they want, though they may not know whence it comes from. Suppose any one came up to me at election time and offered me £500, as occurred in the case of an honorable member of this House, as mentioned two nights ago. I should not ask where the money came from. Honorable members opposite do not ask where it comes from, but I venture to say that Mr. Archdale Parkhill could tell them. The funds are provided, and there is no more trouble about it.
– Mr. Riggall, in Melbourne, could tell us a bit.
– I dare say he could. Any one who has the inside running in the party opposite could tell where the money comes from, or, at any rate, give a good guess. It has been tacitly admitted in evidence before the Sugar Commission that the Colonial Sugar Refining
Company contributed £50,000 to defeat the referenda proposals of the Labour party in 1911. When the general manager was asked a question he did not deny it, although he would not confirm the statement. But it is a little thing for such a company to provide £50,000. The company handles 200,000 tons of sugar per annum. An increase of 5s. per ton in the price would make up the £50,000. The public, out of whose pockets the money would come, would not feel 5s. per ton, which, though a small sum, when spread over 200,000 tons makes up a large bulk. That is how the funds of the party opposite are provided. The Tariff questionhas been raised during this debate. I am a Protectionist. Indeed, I was the first man in this House to pronounce himself a Protectionist.
– The honorable member called himself a “ fiscal atheist.”
– I said that, because, in my opinion, fiscalism is only a matter of expediency, not of principle. - an expedient to raise revenue. At that time, I was sitting on the back corner bench on the Ministerial side. Sir George Reid, then Leader of the Opposition, was speaking, and held in his hand a list of all the members of the House. He wanted to know how they stood on the fiscal question. He started to go through the list alphabetically. There were no A’s, and I was the first among the B’s. He called out “ Mr. Bamford, Free Trader.” I said with emphasis “ No.” He then said “ Protectionist.” I said “ Yes,” more emphatically still. So that I was the first man in this House to declare himself to be a Protectionist. I was the only man who had the courage of his convictions at that time. The honorable member for Maranoa, who now interjects in such an emphatic way, declined to say what he was. The honorable member for Kennedy was in the same boat. I was the only one of the whole seventy-five members who declared himself a Protectionist.
– Two halos for Mr. Bamford.
– The honorable member for Corangamite can indorse my statement in that regard, for he sat in the chamber at the time.
– I did not know what thehonorablemember for Maranoa was.
– The honorable member did, excepting when the honorable member for Maranoa slipped on bananas We all remember that event. As regards the Tariff, I have nothing to say. I hope that when the Inter-State Commission have got so far with their inquiries as to make recommendations to the House, the recommendations will be of such a character as I, a Protectionist, may support.
– When do you expect to see them ?
– I expect to live to a good old age, and to see the recommendations before I depart. But whether my hopes will reach fruition or not, I am not prepared to say. I am not so pessimistic, however, as some honorable members are. I think that the Inter-State Commission will get to work as soon as they have appointed a staff, secured offices, and get some paper printed, &c, which, I suppose, will take a couple of years, and then we shall know something about their labours. My principal consideration in this matter is one which I do not think will appeal to many honorable members who come from the southern States. My solicitude is in regard to the duty on sugar. I hope that when the Inter-State Commission do bring down recommendations, they will give favorable consideration to the sugar industry, and advise an increase of the duty by at least £1 per ton. I find that the House is not sympathetic in this regard. I did not expect that it would be, because there are so very few honorable members interested in this very important and very large industry, that it is not likely that they will be in favour of increasing the duty.
– Why not make the duty £10 a ton?
– If the honorable member will vote for that-
– I will, if you propose it.
– I shall take him upstairs and give him a cup of tea.I regret that the Inter-State Commission is not a larger body. I suggested to my own leader that it should consist of at least five members, not three members. If it is going to be a joint Board - an Inter-State Board and a Tariff Board combined - it is numerically too weak. It should comprise at least five members, because the undertaking which it has in hand now is of such an important nature to the Commonwealth that five men are little enough for the purpose. I desire to congratulate the Government on their attitude to the rifle clubs. I must pay them a meed of praise here, because I am one of the most impartial men, and always like to give credit where it is due. I have always advocated that some assistance should be given to rifle clubs. I have complained that they are not treated as liberally as they might be, and said that in case of trouble, which, unhappily, we may experience some of these days, perhaps during our own lifetime, the rifle clubs will possibly be our first line of defence. They should not be treated in any niggardly manner. I know that they have been so treated, especially in the outside districts. In the metropolitan districts or in districts which are close to head-quarters, they are, if not liberally, at least fairly, treated. But in the north of Queensland, and the wilds of Western Australia, where the men devote their time and attention, and money too, to the formation and the success of rifle clubs, they are not treated as they ought to be. I compliment the Ministry upon what they say they intend to do. I think that they cannot do too much in this regard, because the riflemen, in my opinion, are the very salt of the Defence movement. Menwho take all the trouble that they do, go to all the expenses that they do, give the time that they do, and sacrifice many interests, as they do, ought to be encouraged.
– They do not drill.
– They do drill.
– They would if they could.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. I have not been a member of a rifle club, but I have been a member of the Defence Force, and have been associated indirectly with rifle clubs. And I say that the rifle clubs are not treated as liberally as they might be. I am very pleased indeed to learn that the Ministry intend to make a very welcome advance in this direction.
During the recent election campaign, one of the charges made against the Fisher Ministry was that of extravagance. When I wason the platform, I ventured to predict that, in regard to some matters in which extravagance was charged, there would be no reduction of expenditure. I said that it was not a case of extravagance; that the money was not being spent, as our opponents said, extravagantly, but judiciously. In every State, especially in my electorate, the newspapers were continually animadverting upon the Government because of the money they were spending on what they were pleased to term the “ desert railways.” I said, “ If there is a change of Ministry, which God forbid” - and I said that in no irreverent spirit, sir - “ Sir John Forrest will surely be a Minister, and there will be no reduction of expenditure so far as the desert railways are concerned, but, in all probability, an increase of expenditure, and the construction will be expedited. At any rate, the extravagance, if you choose to call it so, will be equal, if not greater, than it is now.” I said, further, that another matter on which we were charged with extravagance was the building of the Federal Capital. In Queensland, the three Senate candidates who were defeated were continually harping on this string. I say here and now that I do not believe in building a Federal Capital. The money which is being spent there might be expended more judiciously and more beneficially in other directions.
– On the sugar industry?
– A voice from New South Wales again - that of a Statesrighter ! We could do without a Capital. There was no necessity to start the Capital. We are very comfortable here indeed. We have many of those things which possibly we would have at Canberra, but they would not be nearly so nice. For instance, we would not have a Quinlan Opera Company.
– And you would- have small-pox.
– We might. The honorable member’s interjection reminds me of something. He was not in the chamber when I was speaking in regard to preference to unionists. There is a matter on which I should like to speak, and which is personal to the honorable member. He is one of those men who would do away, not merely with preference to unionists, but with unionism and unionists.
– You are making a mistake.
– My memory goes back a few years - to a memorable Eight Hours Day.
– It is defective.
– Does my honorable friend remember that occasion ?
– I remember it well.
– When the trouble was on at Jumbunna, the honorable member led a lot of “blacklegs” along Flinders-street.
– I thought your memory was defective.
– The honorable member was playing an accordeon, and leading the procession. We remember the event; our memories are not so short as they mignt be. However, that is a digression. I was referring just now to the building of the Federal Capital. I regret the fact sincerely. Although I voted for a site, it was not the one chosen. I was in favour of an entirely different site, which at the present moment I believe would have been a better one. I am sorry that money is being spent at Canberra, but when we were charged on the platform in my own electorate by Senate candidates, and others who were assisting them, with extravagance in that regard, I said, “ If there is a change, Mr. Cook will be a member of the new Ministry. If he is in the Ministry, there will be no cessation of expenditure on the Capital site.”
– Hear, hear! Mr. BAMFORD. - The honorable member, of course, says “ Hear, hear “ to that remark. Here is a States-righter again asserting himself. I said then, and I say now, that the expenditure at Canberra will be increased, if anything. That, of course, is a sentiment which every member for New South Wales will indorse.
– And they will back it up over there.
– Of course they will. Although the Liberal party charged us with extravagance, there is no item on which they are making a reduction; on the contrary, they are increasing the expenditure right along the line. Although the Liberal party condemned the ex-Minister of External Affairs for his administration of the Northern Territory, what are they doing? Is there any reduction of expenditure there? Our opponents made a great outcry when we appointed a Labour man. One solitary man we appointed to a position in the Territory, and how they did slate us for making the appointment. At that time, too, they were condemning the honorable member for Barrier because the Government printing at Port Darwin was being done by a Chinaman. I did not condone that act; I was as severe on the ex-Minister as any man could be, being a White Australian - all white. What are the present Government doing ? A few days ago I asked a question of the External Affairs Department. On the last Estimates a sum was voted to provide premises and new printing plant for Port Darwin, but that money is notbeing expended. Notwithstanding the condemnation of the late Government over this matter, the Chinaman is still being employed to do the printing, and the work is considered as extremely satisfactory. The Attorney-General is the only member of the Ministry present. I ask him what he is going to do about this matter ?
– About what?
– Are the Government going to continue to employ a “Chow” printer, to use the vernacular, on Government work at Port Darwin ? Are there no white printers in Australia ? The honorable member may say to me, “ Why did not your own Minister attend to this matter?” I say so, too.
– What matter?
– I am informed by the Department that a “ Chow “ printer is doing the Government printing at Port Darwin, and doing it satisfactorily.
– The late Government did not employ any Chinese.
– I am glad to have that denial from the ex-Minister of External Affairs. Not in one direction are the present Government making an altera.tion in regard to the charges of extravagance against the Labour party. The expenditure is going on as freely as ever, except in one direction, and I am sure that I need not mention that to honorable members. It appeals to every one at the present moment.
– H. Irvine. - Have you a grievance ?
– We have a grievance, every one of us, against the Government in this respect. I will tell it to the Attorney-General privately.
– I wish you would.
– Dared I the secrets of the caucus room reveal to thee, I could a tale unfold ! I urged upon our own Minister, and upon the party, the necessity of establishing a Works Department.
– Take care; do not say. too much.
– I will not say too much. I am most discreet in that direction, and I gave the honorable member an instance of that just now. We want our own Works Department. It may cost some money, but the cost will not be any more than it is at present. We vote money on the Estimates, and, after the money is allocated and the works approved, a request is sent to the State Government that their officers should prepare plans. I am not speaking of railways, but of buildings. The plans are sent to the head office here to be approved, and when they are approved they are sent back. Tenders are called through the Commonwealth Gazette, but the tenders come within the purview of a State Department, not a Commonwealth Department, and the supervision is entirely in the hands of State officers, over whom we have no control. My experience is that if there is the slightest friction, if we are not satisfied with the way in which a work has been carried out and the money expended, the officer in charge practically tells us, in polite language, to go to Hades. He is not responsible to us; he is a paid servant of the State, and is responsible only to it. I know of several cases in which friction has occurred under this system. One was that of a man who had a contract with the Commonwealth for £800 in connexion with a post-office. The inspector was in charge of the work. That officer was ill when the undertaking was completed, but he passed it as being satisfactory. A few weeks later another inspector came along and condemned a portion of the work, whereupon the Commonwealth held up the contractor’s money. This man had depended upon getting paid, and consequently had entered into other contracts, and as a result he suffered great hardship. The existing system is wholly unfair, and the sooner we establish a Public Works Department of our own the better will it be for all concerned. It would not cost any more than we spend now. We could do just what is being done by the Postal Department. In every State there is a Deputy Postmaster-General, and there are inspectors under him. In exactly the same way we could have our own public works inspectors.
– We want a Public Works Committee.
– If I were to enumerate all that we want, I would astonish the honorable member, though he has some idea of my own wants. I am opposed to the Postal Department being administered by Commissioners. I indorse what the honorable member for Franklin said in regard to this matter. I believe that if the Department were controlled by Commissioners the people who reside in outlying districts would be denied facilities to which they are entitled, because undoubtedly the aim of the Commissioners would be to make the Department a commercial enterprise, and a profitable one. Thus residents in remote areas would have their interests entirely neglected. If any work were proposed which would not in the opinion of the Commissioners prove a profitable one from the departmental stand-point, they would turn it down.
– Parliament would always have the power to direct the policy of the Department if it provided the money for it.
– That is so. But my point is that the interests of persons who live in our out-back country would be ignored. The Estimates would be prepared by the Commissioners, and doubtless would be cut down in such a way as to make the Department a paying concern. I notice that the honorable member for Robertson is present, and I wish to say a few words in regard to a matter with which he dealt some nights ago. He complained bitterly of our gold reserve. He said that the fact that the Commonwealth had issued notes of its own-, and that it held gold against them, was making the money market tighter. I would like to ask him what was the position of the banks prior to the Commonwealth undertaking the note issue ? Had they not a gold reserve ?
– Some honorable members opposite argued that the private banks held s sovereign for every note which they issued.
– A few years ago these private banking institutions held a great deal more gold than they do to-day. Five years ago they had, I think, a gold reserve of £22,000,000, whereas their note issue represented only about £3,000,000.
– What I said was that the private banks were obliged to withdraw their notes, and to back the Commonwealth notes with gold.
– The honorable member was not correct in making that assertion, because the banks do not hold a single sovereign against the note issue of the Commonwealth.
– It is necessary for them to hold gold to meet those notes in country branches.
– Not at all. The honorable member is in error.
– They keep gold only for the convenience of their .customers.
– They may keep gold, but they do not hold it for the purpose of meeting Commonwealth notes.
– But they do so.
– A Commonwealth note may be exchanged for gold at the Treasury, but there is no bank which is compelled to give a sovereign for it.
– A bank’s customers may desire gold, and the bank likes to oblige them.
– Even that does not necessarily imply that the gold which is held by the banks in any way restricts business transactions.
– They have to pay gold into the Treasury in order to obtain Commonwealth notes.
– Of course they have. I am only a dilettante financier. I do not pose as an authority upon finance, but it is patent to me that when they hand over . their sovereigns foi Commonwealth notes those notes are just as good for their- purposes as is the gold itself. I observe that the Government propose to attack the Commonwealth Savings Bank. I have always been in favour of the establishment of such a bank, and I am glad that the action of the late Government has resulted in our Savings Bank depositors being better treated than they were previously. Before the establishment of the Commonwealth Savings Bank, depositors used to get only 2£ per cent, interest on their deposits up to a limited amount. But when we obtained money from oversea we had to pay 3£ per cent, and 4 per cent, for it. As a matter of fact, we have floated loans in England upon which we have paid 6 per cent., and even then we did not get 20s. for every £1, but only 18s. 6d. I know that at one time Queensland floated a loan at 88. Of course, it is argued that the money placed in the Savings Banks is always at call. But the fact that the deposits in those institutions ave continually increasing - they increased considerably during the regime of the late Government - shows that there is nothing in that argument.
– They hold several million pounds, upon which they pay no interest at all.
– Undoubtedly . That money was obtained at par, whilst the money obtained oversea was not.
– Sometimes we get more than par.
– After a loan has been floated - ;after it has been underwritten. Never in the history of Australia has a loan been floated on which we have got more than par.
– I got more than par upon a Western Australian loan just after the bank failures. I got nearly 101.
– That was a very special case. Can the Treasurer cite any other occasion upon which a State has floated a loan at par?
– It all depends upon what is the rate of interest.
– The case cited by the Treasurer is an exceptional one, and the fact that he realized more than par was doubtless due to his wonderful persuasive powers.
I come now to a question of great interest to me - the sugar question. I am sorry that the Minister of Trade and Customs is not present, because 1 intended to ask him for information which no other Minister will be in a position to give me. A little while ago, when the Supply Bill was under consideration, it was stated that the sugargrowers who had cut cane .prior to the 25th July of the present year were not being paid the bounty. I believe that the Government have altered that condition of affairs, and that they are now paying the bounty and the additional 2s. 2d. per ton. When the Sugar Bounty Abolition Bill and the Sugar Excise Repeal Bill were being discussed in this Chamber last year, I appealed to the then Minister of Trade and Customs to see that under the regulation which he had issued the increased wage was paid, and I urged that the extra 2s. 2d. per ton should be paid upon the sugar produced last season. He declined to accede to my request, stating that during harvesting operations the cane is cut by contract, and that his regulation would not apply to last season at all. That regulation was issued on the 5th August, 1912. I want this Ministry, whose members have been so considerate to the farmer, and who proclaimed the two Acts to which I have referred, without due consideration, if they will not pay the additional 2s. 2d. per ton upon the whole of last season’s cane, to pay it upon the cane cut subsequent to the issue of that regulation.
– Pay them twice over ?
– No. In No. 1 district the growers received 7s. 6d. per ton by way of bounty. The difference between the Excise and the bounty was £1 per ton, and assuming that 9 tons of cane are required to produce 1 ton of sugar, the extra 2s. 2d. which the growers are getting for their cane would come to 19s. 6d. on a ton of sugar. I am not one of those who say that the farmer paid the Excise; I have always held the contrary opinion. It is the consumer who pays the Excise. It would have been more profitable for me, in seeking votes to take the opposite view, and I knew my attitude on the question to be unpopular with the farmers, who thought that they were paying the Excise, and were being robbed by the Commonwealth of £1 a ton; yet I have always held to my opinion. But I say that they could not get the price for cane to which they were entitled, chiefly because of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The regulations of the late Minister of Trade and Customs increased the rates of wages, and I then asked that, by way of compensation, as it was impossible for the farmers to get at the Colonial Sugar Refining Company pending the report of - the Sugar Commission, that the Government should pay the 2s. 2d. That I could not bring about. I now appeal to this Government, which has issued a proclamation repealing the Excise and Bounty Acts, and is always so solicitous, apparently, of the welfare of the sugar-growers, to do something. I do not expect an immediate answer, but I should like favorable consideration of my request. As there is no Excise, any payment would have to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue ; but the amount would be small. I rely upon the justice, not upon the generosity, of the Ministry.
– What amount would be required ?
– I cannot say offhand, but I shall be pleased to give the
Prime Minister the figures later. The sum would not be large.
– I think it would be pretty substantial.
– If the Government get their £150,000 from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, that will more than meet the case. There has been a bungle somewhere in connexion with the repeal of the Sugar Acts ; whether the last Government are responsible for it or not I am not going to say. But the matter was not overlooked, because a gentleman from the other Chamber and myself discussed it with the honorable member for Wide Bay long before it was finally settied with Mr. Denham that he should bring in the legislation which was subsequently passed by the Queensland Parliament. We went so far as to take into consideration, not merely the sugar that would be made, but also the molasses that would remain in the tanks after the pressing, from which sugar could be extracted. My opinion is that this Government were in such a hurry to issue the proclamation bringing about the repeal of the sugar legislation that they entirely lost sight of the consequences. I am certain that the Treasurer is gnashing his teeth because of the loss that the Treasury has sustained. I do not think that he will ever again see the money that has been’, lost.
– I hope that we shall. The honorable member must help us.
– I am willing to do that at any time. I do not indorse the accusation that Ministers acted in collusion with anybody. I should be sorry to be associated with men who would give a bribe in that way. I do not believe that any man opposite would lend himself to such a transaction. It has been said that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company were given this money as consideration for services rendered; but I do not believe it, and would not say it. I should be sorry to be associated with men who would descend to Tammany methods to placate any company or any individual. But a serious blunder has been made, and the responsibility rests with the Government of not having protected the revenue when they had the opportunity to do so. Ministers talk now of passing legislation to meet the case. They might have done that when they first met Parliament ; but they should also have assured themselves that the conditions laid down by the honorable member for Wide Bay had been observed.
– They have been observed; and more than observed.
– They have not been obeyed .
– I challenge the honorable member to prove that statement. We have done a great deal more than the honorable member for Wide Bay bargained for.
– I have not time to read extracts from the Hansard report, but I have Here the speech made by Mr. Blair, the Queensland Minister of Education, who had charge of the Queensland* Bill in Committee. When asked by interjection if the Bill would apply toaliens employed in the mills, he said that, it would, a statement which he repeated, adding that the measure would apply toall persons in the sugar industry except those exempted. What did that meant: I have received telegrams informingme. ‘ that aliens are still employed in the industry, although they have not been exempted. One of these messages, from a man who may be thoroughly relied upon, says -
About eighty coloured men, various occupations, MacKnade Mill, inclusive of about ten maintaining tram lines.
That mill is on the Herbert River, and belongs to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The same state of things prevails at the Victoria mill there. At Goondi, near Innisfail, the same conditions exist. Therefore, the conditions insisted on by the honorable member for Wide Bay, as precedent to the proclamation of the sugar legislation, have not been fulfilled. Had this Government wished for an excuse for deferring the proclamation repealing the Excise Act, this fact gave it to them.
– The Denham Bill was put through with the gag, showing that the Labour party in the Queensland Parliament was not satisfied with it.
– At any rate, responsibility for a loss possibly amounting to £150,000 rests with this Government.
– We shall not. lose the money.
– I wish the Government good luck in any action they may take to get it.
– When we have finished with this, I shall expect honorable members opposite to make me a humble apology.
– If the Government get the Excise: I shall apologize to the honorable member.
– If it had not been for the stupidity of Ministers, the money would not have been lost.
– The mistake was not due to stupidity. I credit honorable members opposite with as much intelligence as other people. I say that the matter ‘was overlooked. The Government were in such a hurry to repeal the sugar legislation that they issued a proclamation, without taking into consideration the serious consequences that would ensue.
Let me now speak of the position of parties in this Chamber. Honorable members opposite owe a great deal to the press. Behind the Liberal party is all the influence of the press, with its measureless magnitude of magnificent mendacity. Behind it is also society, spelt with the largest S. Behind it, too, -are those powerful secret societies - the Orange Society and the Freemasons’ Society. The Liberal party has all those influences to help it. The press, however, is not so powerful - at any rate, in Victoria - as it is believed to be.
– It did a lot of harm in the country.
– Yes; but let us see what has happened in Melbourne during the past few weeks. A short time ago the two great Melbourne morning dailies were flogging the Watt Ministry. They said that its reconstruction was absolutely necessary and unavoidable.
– Does the honorable member say that he and his colleagues are all against Freemasonry?
– I speak only for myself, and I belong to no society of any sort, except the society of free drinkers. Morning after morning the Age and Argus flogged the Watt Ministry. They put up a man to move a censure motion against it, and then pulled him down. But when Mr. Watt snapped his fingers at the press, it turned its venom on the Commonwealth Labour party. The Watt Ministry has been left severely alone, and we have been attacked every morning. Invective has been hurled at us, vituperation has been heaped on us, abuse has been poured upon us, but not a word has been said about Mr. Watt.
– They took Swinburne out of his way.
– And they got hin something very nice to go on with. I have here a book of speeches by the celebrated Mark Twain. I do not propose to read extracts from Hansard, delving into the records of debates of the last century, to show what A said of B and B said of A. Those who were members of the first Commonwealth Parliament will remember that all the dirty political linen of New South Wales was washed within the four walls of this chamber. I’ am sorry that that sort of thing has taken place here, and I am sorrier still that it has not ended. What is the use of it? What is gained by quoting what the honorable member for Wentworth said four or five years ago, or the still earlier views of the honorable member for Parkes about the Japanese and his statements as to how much he loved them ? What purpose does it serve?
– The honorable member has been digging up things concerning myself that are ten years old.
– Because the honorable member deserved it. It is pitiable that we, who have been sent here to do the business of the country, should waste our time in that way. It is no compliment to the intelligence of the people whom we represent to imagine that, if they could come here in a solid body, and see how business is conducted by us, they would indorse our actions. Coming to the position of the press, I propose to read what I think is an appropriate quotation from a speech made by Mark Twain. At a dinner that was given to Hamilton W. Mabie, in 1901, Mr. Clemens - Mark Twain - was invited to speak to the toast of the guest of the evening, who at that time occupied the position of editor of The Outlook. He said -
He appears to be editor of The Outlook, and notwithstanding that, I have every admiration, because, when everything is said concerning The Outlook, after all one must admit that it is frank in its delinquencies, that it is outspoken in its departures from fact, that it is vigorous in its mistaken criticisms of men like me. I have lived in this world a long, long time, and I know you must not judge a man by the editorials that he puts in his paper. A man is always better than his printed opinions. A man always reserves to himself on the inside a purity and an honesty and a justice that are a credit to him, whereas the things that he prints are just the reverse.
That applies with such piquancy to the newspapers down the street, and the men who run them, that I felt when I happened Upon it last night that I should be well justified in giving the quotation to the House. I regret that my time has almost expired, since I had intended to deal with the position of the Beef Trust. I have here an article taken from last Saturday’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which deals with the Beef Trust in the Argentine, and seriously recommends that an export duty should be imposed on beef. I have also figures as to the production of food-stuffs in the Commonwealth from 1901 to 1911, showing that a vast increase has taken place in horned cattle, sheep, pigs, butter, potatoes, and other food -stuffs raised in the Commonwealth. I would ask the Ministry why it is that the cost of living has been steadily increasing, notwithstanding that since 1903 our seasons have been extremely good, while our production has been increasing? In the circumstances, will they take into consideration the proposal to impose an export duty on our food-stuffs, so that the people who produce them may derive some advantage from their production!
– The honorable member’s party were in office for three years. Why did they not do something?
– We did many things; the honorable member could not expect us to do everything. The Labour party, during its three years of office, did more than the honorable member’s party would do in a century. Honorable members opposite have now an opportunity to show what they can do; but, so far, their only proposal is to negative some of the beneficial legislation that we have passed. I do not think they will succeed. Indeed, I do not believe they have the courage to go on with some of their proposals.
I said, in my opening remarks, that a man who found fault with any system should be prepared to suggest a remedy; and there could be no more opportune time than the present to try the remedy that I would suggest for the difficulty in which we find ourselves. Shortly put, elective Ministries would be a solution of the difficulty in which the House finds itself. We are sent here, not to talk, but to act - to do something for the benefit of this great country whose development is so necessary.
– This is acting.
– It is not. If the honorable member will join with me, I shall quickly show him that I am very much in earnest in urging the adoption of the system of elective Ministries.
– The honorable member will not accuse me of talking this session.
– The honorable member for Parkes is “ gagged.”
– One of the sore points with the honorable member is that he is not allowed to talk. A little while ago an honorable member on this side of the House said that the people of the Commonwealth were shareholders in a vast concern, of which we were the directors. I indorse that view. But what business concern could be successfully conducted when it had one set of directors pulling one way, and another set pulling in a diametrically opposite direction ? No country could progress in such circumstances. We have one of the finest countries in the world. We have a whole continent possessed by the one people - people of one race, speaking the same language, having the same customs and the same beliefs. History gives us no record of any country so fortunately situated as we are in this respect, and blessed as we are with such vast resources waiting to be developed. What are we doing towards their development?
– Will the honorable member supply the remedy? Dealing with the question of elective Ministries, I propose to make a short quotation from a speech made in this House on a proposal made by an honorable gentleman, now occupying a high official position, for the adoption of the system of elective Ministries. The honorable member cited various authorities, to which I need not ,. now refer, in support of this contention, but the time is undoubtedly ripe to make the experiment. The late Mr. G. B. Edwards, who then’ represented North Sydney, supported the motion, and I may say, in passing, that we have never had in this House an abler man than he was. He was one of those -
Whose distant footsteps
Echo down the corridors of time.
I shall take the liberty of quoting from the speech made on that occasion by the deceased gentleman, and which is to be found in Hansard, Volume XXV., page 1116. Speaking of the Commonwealth inauguration celebrations in Sydney in 1901, he said-
When I saw that great assemblage at Sydney to proclaim the inauguration of the Commonwealth - an assemblage of our own people from all the States, and of visitors from other countries - and gazed upon the specimens of our grand Imperial Army that gathered to see our Commonwealth launched - when I heard the acclaims of the people, the music of the bands, and gazed at the flags that were flying, I felt my heart swell within me at the prospect of the realization of our great political aim and hope. 1 felt that pride which most of us felt in taking our children to see what would be something for them. to recollect for the rest of their lives, the dawn of one of the most glorious Constitutions the world has ever known, under which our great country was to progress from year to year, and to become what I believe she is yet destined to be - one of the greatest, strongest, and richest powers on the face of the earth. We must all expect the tardy realization of our hopes, but I think most of us anticipated something more than has yet been attained by this Parliament.
His words were to some extent prophetic. Nothing of a great national character has been done by this Parliament. We are so hampered and shackled by the dead hand of a Constitution framed 126 years ago that little progress is open to us. In addition to that disadvantage, we have the still deader hand - if I may use that expression - of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, upon whose decisions many of the judgments of the High Court of Australia are based. I regret that my time is curtailed, but, in conclusion, will say that the Government and their supporters opposite are mere spots upon the democratic sun. They may for a little while dim its effulgence, but the time is not far distant when they will pass away, and that sun will shine all the brighter for their passing.
.- I should r not have risen but for a statement concerning myself made by the honorable member for Ballarat during the course of this debate, and repeated, with the exception of the figures, on more than one occasion. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat returned to the attack, whilst at the same time- he deplored the fact that other honorable members had been rooting up matters that were ten or twenty years old. The particular matter regarding myself to which he referred is over ten years old, but I am no more ashamed of it to-day than I then was. I am pleased with the stand I took, and am prepared in this, my first speech in this House, to justify my action on that occasion, as I have justified it in the State Parliament. I strongly object to honorable members thinking that men should be on their side when they know that their interests are diametrically opposed. The particular incident which was responsible for the trouble to which reference has been made - and I wish to be as brief as I can at this late hour - was, as honorable members familiar with coal-mining will know, that there existed in connexion with the Gippsland collieries a sliding scale of wages. As the price of coal rose, the hewing rate went up, and as the price of coal fell, the hewing rate of wages went down. The company with which I am connected had at that time an agreement of this kind with the miners. Under it everything went smoothly when the price of coal was rising, and wages were correspondingly increasing, but the moment the first depression occurred, and prices fell, the miners refused to carry out their part of the agreement. We gave them notice that we insisted upon the union carrying out its part of the bargain, with the result that a strike occurred. Negotiations extending over three months took place, and the honorable member for Newcastle, Mr. Watkins, came down and invited the directors of the mine to confer with him. The statement that he made to-night is quite correct. We were not prepared to discuss our business with any outsiders, but were prepared to discuss it with our own men; and, therefore, his mission failed. After three months’ fruitless negotiations, we took steps, which we were justly entitled to take as employers, to work our mine. J. owe no allegiance to the Labour party, and I never belonged to it. I have nothing to hope for from that party, which has fought me on every occasion on which I have stood for Parliament, and doubtless will continue to fight me as long as I am alive, just as I shall continue to fight them.
– I wish the honorable member would come down to Richmond ; he would improve my majority !
– The honorable member is like a rooster on his own midden - he knows where he can crow. May I return the compliment, and say that, if he desires a contest, let him come to Henty.
– I do not wish the honorable member to contest Yarra, but only to come down and speak for ray opponent, because I am sure that that would damn his chances.
– This community, like every other community, is divided into parties. The various constituencies send different members to Parliament, and the honorable member for Yarra represents electors, the bulk of whom believe in him. Fortunately, I can say the same thing of myself. I do not look for support from his party, nor he from mine. I bear no animosity to the Labour party, but I like a fair and square deal, and I am always prepared to give and take. In the particular dispute, in connexion with which there has been so much abuse and misrepresentation of myself, I took the stand, representing, as I do, the shareholders whose interests were at stake, to see that the enterprise was made to “ go “ ; and the matter that troubles the Labour party so much is not that I fought a strike, but that I beat them. Hundreds of employers have fought strikes before me, and will do so after I am dead and gone. It is the fact that I beat them that stings, and it will continue to sting so long as I breathe. But that troubles me not; I do my duty to those who pay me, and I shall be satisfied to do my duty again. Now, having dealt with that matter, I should like to read a few quotations. Honorable members opposite are entitled to hold what views they like concerning me because of the attitude I took with regard to the smashing of the strike, and I care not what their views may be. However, I do not think that, as fair and honorable men, they are entitled to charge me, as the honorable member for Ballarat charged me, though I will say that he came to me, and told me that he had made a mistake-
– He admitted it straight away.
– The honorable member came to me in a fair and honorable way, and told me that he had made a mistake, but that, to my mind, was not sufficient, because what he said had gone forth to the country. I consider that at the time I interposed in the debate I was entitled to do so, as the charge had been repeated so often; and, in order that the matter may be cleared up, I wish to read a few extracts from Hansard, the first of which is as follows, from the speech of the honorable member for Ballarat -
The party to which I have the honour to belong has done much good for the country.
– And much harm.
– No harm. No member of this party has tried to get men for 4s. a day, as the honorable member did.
That is a mistake, because I think the honorable member willadmit that he said the pay was 2s.1d.
– I said it was 2s.1d. at Coal Creek. .
– I do not wish to be unfair to the honorable member, but I think that a little later on he said it was2s.1d. However, the report proceeds -
– That is a lie.
– It is absolutely true.
– The honorable member for Henty must withdraw his interjection.
-i withdraw it.
– I remember an investigation we had in the State House in connexion with the honorable member’s colliery. I know that he desecrated the eight-hours-a-day principle by taking blacklegs there to break up a strike.
– That is not correct.
– We got a return that proved that men were getting as low as 2s.1d. a day in connexion with one mine.
– That is not correct.
This trouble began in the Victorian State House on the 17th August, 1905, when Mr. Lemmon and the present member for Ballarat made direct charges concerning the coal industry of Victoria. Mr. Lemmon quoted from a leading article in the Southern, Mail, which at that particular time was the representative journal of the Coal Miners Union, and finished his speech with the following extract : -
Surely this is tyranny, and an outrage in any civilized community that calls for loud condemnation. At another mine, we learn that two employes, realizing that men could not subsist on the rate of wages obtainable, prepared a petition to present to the management, humbly asking for an increase, but when the management heard of this audacious outrage they instantly dismissed the men before the document was fully signed.
Mr. Lemmon said at the time that that was where the leading article concluded, but I happened to have a copy of the newspaper, and I subsequently read to the House the remainder of the article as follows -
It is, however, to be regretted that Mr. Lemmon, in ventilating this grievance, should have even by an indirect inference dragged the Jumbunna company into the matter. Whatever attitude that company took during the strike - and this paper freely criticised it with the others - it is now paying a minimum wage. And has nut acted on the miserable policy of revenge, but as opportunity offers is re-employing all former miners, provided they are capable men. And we are informed that even the miner who, during the strike, attempted to hit Mr. Boyd, and who was imprisoned for the offence, is now employed at Jumbunna, with Mr. Boyd’s knowledge and consent. The company that acts decently by its employes deserves to prosper.
The present member for Ballarat followed, and was thus reported -
He (Mr. McGrath) had risen for the purpose of supporting the request of the honorable member for Williamstown that an inquiry should be held. If the conditions the honorable member described did prevail the mines should be closed up. for it had been shown that some of the men had been earning as little as 2s. id. a day. … The honorable member for Melbourne, in giving his figures the other night in connexion with the rate of wages paid, and which were taken from the books of the Coal Creek. Company, stated that members of the Labour Party had accused him in connexion with Jumbunna. Those members had not done so yet, but the time might come when they would, and of that they would give the honorable member due notice.
The honorable member did not give me much notice the other night when he started at me without warning.
– The honorable member deserved it all.
– If it had come from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports I should not have taken the slightest notice of it. Mr. McGrath also said at the same time - and this is important -
Members who represented mining constituencies knew that the minimum rate of wage for work at the face was 7s. 6d. a shift.
He was referring to gold mining, and he went on to say -
In dealing with the Jumbunna mine, he had no desire to impute any motive to the honorable member for Melbourne. He believed that, as a mine, it was carried on satisfactorily.
If the honorable member believed that then, why does he continue to bring this charge against me? My only desire is to drive this point into him, so that he will never do so again.
– Is the honorable member for Henty still connected with the coal company ?
– I am the managing director of the company to-day, and every man in our employ is a unionist.
– Was a man not “ sacked “ last year for being on a Wages Board ?
– No, sir.
– What about Stevens?
– He was not “ sacked “ for being on a Wages Board.
– He was not “ sacked “ before he went on the Wages Board
– The result of the debate, in the State House was the establishment of a Royal Commission, consisting of Mr. A. W. Howitt, formerly Secretary for Mines; Mr. W. R. Anderson, then Secretary for Mines; and Mr. G. C. Morrison, the present Public Service Commissioner, three Government officials, who had all been police magistrates. The Commission made an investigation, and they found, according to their report, that the company was paying 7s. 3d. and 7s. 6d. on the average, and the honorable member for Ballarat agreed that 7s. 6d. was the standard rate in gold mining at that particular time.
– Was that the rate the company was paying coal miners?
– Did the men find their own shovels and picks ?
– In the case of our mine, the company find all the explosives, though other mines in the district worked on a different principle.
– There was 4d. deduction from that pay.
– What was the deduction for ?
– I wish to know why Stevens was “ sacked.”
– lt is customary, I think, for a new member, when making his first speech, to receive some consideration from the House. Two years later, Mr. Lemmon and the honorable member for Ballarat returned to the attack, and on that occasion the latter said -
When he asked a question of the Minister of Water Supply, as acting Minister of Railways, the other day, as to whether in the new contract with the Victorian coal companies any condition had been inserted as to the wages to be paid, it was found that even after the exposures made by the Royal Commission as to wages being as low as 2S. id. a day, no stipulation had been made as to the wages to be paid to the men. It was shameful that this matter should have to be brought up every session. . . . This was a nice advertisement for Victoria, when we were crying for increased population.
The honorable member was not crying out for increased population the other night.
– Seven shillings a day f”r coal miners - God help us !
– Does the honorable member intend to insinuate that, after the report of the Royal Commission, we were still paying 4s. t
– We are talking of the figures the honorable member has just given.
– I do not believe in 4s a day. I believe in men getting as high wages as they can, and I have always gone for as much as I could get. The honorable member for Ballarat went on -
Under the system at Jumbunna they were paid 7s. M. for t tie first 2 tons nf coal filled, and for every extra ton 2s. 6d. There was no check on the weighing, and the men had distinctly stated to him that they were not getting paid as promised. The men worked under what was known as the bonus system. If they complained to the manager that they did not think they were setting the correct rates they were no longer wanted. That was not a fair position. The condition of affairs was intolerable with reference to ventilation rates of pay, and the right of the men to form themselves into an industrial organization. He cordially supported the honorable member for Williamstown in the arguments he had used, and from personal investigation he could vouch for the accuracy of the statements made by that honorable member.
Later on in the debate, Mr. Prendergast, the leader of the State Labour party, said -
Any committee of inquiry will suit us. We have trust in the honesty of Parliament.
There was a Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry, which made a report, following on that of the Royal Commission. With regard to the charges made, this is what the Parliamentary Committee say in their report, page 11 -
One said he could only make from 2s. 6d. to 3s. a day, whereas it was shown his daily average wage was 8s. 2. 73d.
– The honorable member is not defending what happened at Coal Creek?
– No, I am trying to clear up the charge made by those who seem to think that there is only one mine in the district, and that I was responsible for the whole of the wages paid there. That is what I object to. The report goes on -
One, engaged chiefly on account of musical qualifications, who was admittedly not a practical miner, said he averaged 5s. a day at Outtrim. lt was shown that another man, with his boy working in the same bord, under identical conditions, earned at the lowest over 60 per cent, more wages. It was shown that his earnings at the Jumbunna mine were 8s. 6d. per shift.
– Does the honorable member call that a fair wage?
– That is the point in which I am interested. There are some honorable members on the Opposition side for whose opinion I have a great respect; but they are not interjecting. The Committee further said -
From the foregoing evidence it is clear that the complaints have failed to sustain the allegation that competent miners were employed under sweating conditions in the two mines, and that the complaints emanated from men who were either not practical miners or were not physically able to earn average wages.
That is the report of a Committee with which the leader of the State Labour party said that he was satisfied.
– Who constituted that Committee ?
– The honorable member can find the names for himself in the report. In paragraph 3 the Committee said -
As regards the bonus system at the Jumbunna mine : Owing to the irregularity in the thickness of the seams and other conditions which make the coal difficult to win in many parts of the area now being worked, the system” of a daily wage, with the opportunity offered of supplementing such when the conditions permit, is fair in the interests of the miners.
That is another indication. In paragraph 5 the Committee said -
The complaints by miners of not receiving full credit for the weights of coal they sent to the surface were due to their miscalculation as to the average weights of loaded skips, and, while expressing the opinion that the allegations, which were tantamount to charges of dishonesty on the part of the respective managements, were totally unfounded, it is felt that, to avoid fur.ther friction, every facility should be given to the workmen to be represented at the weighbridge by check weighers appointed by themselves.
Paragraph 6 said -
The Jumbunna company has used every effort to bring about favorable sanitary conditions in its mine, and if causes of complaint have arisen at any time, the responsibility for such rested with some of the workmen.
Paragraph 8 said -
The allegation that workmen were compelled to indemnify the Jumbunna company against any responsibility for accidents occurring to its employes while engaged in their duties, is without justification.
The chairman of that Committee was a member of the Labour party, and is today.
– Who is that?
- Mr. Outtrim. The last quotation that I shall make is from the appendix to the report, page 30, where the Committee show the average wages earned per man per shift during specified half-years. For the half-year ending 31st August, 1906, the average per shift was 7s. 8.56d. The average for the halfyear ending 28th February, 1907, was 7s. 11.20d. The average for the half-year ending 31st August, 1907, was 7s. 10.56d. I admit that those wages are not so high as are those paid to-day.
– How many days a week were they working?
– Six days a week. We worked six days a week at the mine until the union told us that the men would not work on Saturdays. They were earning enough money to keep themselves, and, as the honorable member for Herbert said, sufficient for all the beer they wanted, in five days ; so they decided not to work the full six.
– They earned the money which the honorable member is living on, so he might be fair to them.
– Talk of a sweating wage !
– The honorable mern be looks as though he does not know much about sweating.
– I have done some coal-mining.
– The honorable member has a softer job now.
– That is what the honorable member for Henty is sore about. He is very sorry that, we are here at all.
– I am not sorry that the honorable member is here.
– We will make it as hot as we can for him while we are here.
– I do not care how hot my opponents may try to make it for me, and I may tell them that they will get back just as much as they give. All that I wish to establish now is that, considering the rate of wages ruling at the time these investigations were made, we were paying above the average. Consequently, a charge of sweating does not lie at my door. . I have myself risen from the ranks. I have been a working man. I have worked hard in my time - perhaps harder than any man on the Opposition side.
– That is the honorable member’s opinion.
– What is more, I am prepared to work alongside any one of them to-day. That is up against them !
– Hear, hear ! I am not.
– The Prime Minister also has a softer job. I do not, for a moment, say that the wages paid at the time were equal to those which are paid to-day. Those paid now average nearly 12s. per day.
– Because the honorable member is forced to pay them.
– As a matter of fact, we are only forced to pay 10s. a day. The honorable member does not know his facts.
– Does the honorable member say that the Wages Board rate is 10s. ?
– Yes; and the average that we pay is 12s.
– The men are on piecework .
– So they were then.
– The Labour party say they do not believe in piece-work.
– They say so on one day, but the contrary on another. I have clearly established two facts. The first is that these charges of sweating were investigated by a Royal Commission, and disproved. Two years later charges of sweating were again made, investigated by a Parliamentary Committee, of which the chairman was a member of the Labour party, and totally disproved. I hope that this will be an end to the charge of sweating made against me here. I do not care how often the charge is made against me of having taken what they term blacklegs to Jumbunna. Those men wanted to earn an honest living, and I was determined that they should. Efforts were made to stop me from taking them there.
– Quite right.
– I said that those who made those efforts were not going to succeed, and they did not succeed. I told them that if they carried out their threats of stopping me they would have to do so over my corpse.
– The honorable member ought to be ashamed of it.
– I am very. proud of it. I owe no allegiance to honorable members opposite. I am paid by the company which I represent to manage its affairs ; and when I am paid to do a duty, I endeavour to fulfil it, quite regardless of what anybody does to me. I come of a race of men who have never been afraid to do their duty, and I am not going to be intimidated by anybody.
– The honorable member ought to be ashamed of it.
– I have several times called honorable members to order for interrupting, and I have again to remind them that when the Speaker calls the House to order, to continue interjecting is grossly disorderly. I hope that the interruptions will not be repeated.
– I have in my pocket, though I do not want to introduce new matter into this debate, affidavits which will prove that there are some gentlemen on that side of the House who would pay wages - I do not say that they are doing it to-day - at a lower sweating rate than were ever paid by any person in this community; and if they want the evidence they can have it.
– Let us have it.
– Let us have the honorable member’s authority.
– I have more respect for men who happened, probably, not to be in a position to pay better wages, owing to the situation that they occupied at that particular time.
– Why does not the honorable member substantiate his charges ?
– Order ! These interjections must cease. I wish to intimate now, after giving this warning, that the next honorable member who offends in the same way will be dealt with under the Standing Orders.
– Let him produce his evidence.
– I name the honorable member for Dalley for wilfully disregarding the authority of the Chair, and call upon the Prime Minister to take the usual steps.
– Mr. Speaker, may I suggest that in this case there are special circumstances surrounding what has occurred? I would appeal to my honorable friend, the member for Dalley, to obviate what to me would be a very disagreeable task.
– If anything has fallen from my lips that is considered disrespectful to the Chair, I withdraw it.
– I am pleased that the honorable member has taken that course. It is no pleasure for me to have to intervene to maintain order when an honorable member is speaking. I sincerely trust that honorable members will assist me in maintaining the rules of the House in order that business may proceed in a proper manner. The honorable member interjected immediately I had said that the next offender would be dealt with under the Standing Orders. I was, in those circumstances, therefore, obliged to take action.
– I do not propose to say any more.
– The honorable member has made an accusation.
– If it is necessary to enter into the general principles of this matter at a future time, I shall be prepared to take my share.
– The honorable member ought either to withdraw his statement or substantiate it.
– I propose, at the present stage, to leave the matter with which I have dealt. If I have not satisfied the extremists of the Opposition, I am quite sure that I have made my position perfectly clear to my colleagues who are associated with me on this side of the House.
– I rise to make a personal explanation in connexion witu the statement made by the honorable member for Henty. He said the other night, according to Hansard, that I made the charge against him of having paid 4s. a day to the men. I thought that immediately he rose to make the personal explanation, I did withdraw that charm so far as his mine was concerned. I intended to do it before this debate was finished. I do not know, sir, how far I am allowed to go in a personal explanation, but I would like to point out that the statement was made in reply to an interjection of the honorable member. Having taken a good deal of interest in the coal-mining industry and the sweating conditions which did exist there, what I intended to refer to was the Coal Creek mine. The Royal Commission, in its findings, reported that as low as 2s. 8d. per shift was paid to the miners. 1 understand that the honorable member has no connexion with the Coal Creek mine, but that his connexion is with the Jumbunna mine. At the latter mine, 1 find that 7s. 3d. was paid, from which 4d. per shift was deducted, leaving 6s. lid. to be paid to the miners. I find further, as the honorable member has quoted findings which I cannot trace here-
– You have not the correct report. I quoted the report of the Parliamentary Committee appointed two years afterwards. I told you that.
– I am referring to the report of the Royal Commission which was appointed at the instigation of Mr. Lemmon and myself, and which found -
The general conditions of employment are unsatisfactory.
That is not only in the Coal Creek mine, but in the Jumbunna and Outtrim mines as well.
The present ruling wages are inadequate remuneration for the nature of the work. The earnings of a number of the men at the Coal Creek mine are considerably below the average rates.
I am sure that not for one moment would the honorable member contend that fair conditions prevailed at Coal Creek mine.
– When the honorable member quoted from Hansard, we in the State Parliament were dealing particularly with the Coal Creek mine.
– Oh, no.
– I spent a lot of time in that district in investigating the complaints. I went through the mines, and saw the work which was being done, and was quite satisfied that there was a good deal of starvation going on in the district.
– The honorable member must not open up new matter.
– I should like, sir, to be permitted to finish the sentence. I was quite satisfied that there was a good deal of starvation going on in the district because of the low rate of wages paid, and we made our charges mainly - I think solely - against the proprietary of the Coal Creek mine.
– Yes; but you charged me the other night.
– I told the honorable member that I withdrew that charge.
– He withdrew it almost immediately.
– In my speech, I was dealing with the Coal Creek mine, and immediately the honorable member drew my attention to the charge, I withdrew it. But, on reading Hansard, when it was pointed out to me by the honorable member, I found that the withdrawal was not complete. I have no intention of doing him an injustice, but he said just now that the men were all unionists. I wish to quote from this report a statement as to what was done by the directors of the Outtrim and Jumbunna mines.
That in future no engine-driver, stoker, braceman, stripper, screener, or weighman of the company shall be a member of any coal-miners’ association or any branch thereof.
The men are all unionists to-day. I take the honorable member’s word, and I believe it, too. The men are getting from 10s. to 12s. a day. The wages I quoted previously - 6s. 10d., 2s.1d., and 2s. 8¾d. - were paid when there was no union in existence.
– When the honorable member for Henty rose just now, he said that he liked a fair, square deal, but he finished his speech by making an accusation against several honorable members on this side, and when we asked him to produce the papers he said he had in his pocket, he refused to do so. If he has anything to say about any one on this side,he should be prepared to come down and say it, and not throw out an innuendo.
– I am prepared to act when it suits me.
– The honorable member should have taken that course.
– That is my judgment.
– We on this side expect no quarter from honorable members opposite, nor do we intend to give any. If the honorable member has the papers he mentioned, let anything he knows about the Labour party come out. Let us have it.
– You do not want me to make a scape-goat of him, do you?
– I do not want the. honorable member to make a scapegoat of anybody; but he made a statement, and it will go forth that he has in his pocket something which he is holding over the heads of honorable members on this side. In fairness to them, he ought to have read the papers, and then we could have judged on their merits whether they justified his statement. During my experience in politics, which has extended over a considerable number of years, I have not seen a general election conducted on the same lines as was the last Commonwealth election. There were more misrepresentations and falsehoods uttered during the campaign than were uttered at any time, to my knowledge, during the last twenty or twenty- five years.
– You on that side were in great form.
– I desire, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member for Wentworth shall hold his tongue.
– Order !
– The honorable member for Wentworth entered this House as a young man, and, while we acknowledge that he has a certain amount of ability - cunning, I should say, rather than ability - he sneers at honorable members on this side who, perhaps, have not been placed in the same fortunate position as himself, for we were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths, or cradled and coddled as he was. Our “ pa’s “ did not send us to college, as he was sent, and, because he was sent there, he ventures to sneer at everybody else, forgetting the very people from whom he has sprung.
– His father had to work hard.
– Of course he did, just as my father and the father of every man in the House had to do.
– The ex-Speaker is inclined to be very insulting. He is forgetting his dignity.
– Order !
– The honorable member for Wentworth refers again to me as the ex-Speaker. I tell him again that I could have had the position now if I had wanted it. There is no use in him hurling that remark at me, because it does not affect me in the slightest way. I am going to take the course I think is right in spite of him.
– What grounds have you for saying that ?
– If the honorable member will just be quiet and allow me to proceed, probably so many bitter things will not be said, but if we get sneers and insults from honorable members opposite we are going to resent them - at least I will.
– What are the sneers; what are the insults?
– Ever since the honorable member has been here he has not lost an opportunity. He used to specially bring his friends into the gallery night after night, get up here to insult honorable members in our party, and then go out and chuckle with his friends over the remarks he had made.
– That is absolutely without foundation, and the honorable member knows it.
– We know the doings of the honorable member.
– The honorable member knows that that statement is not correct.
-The honorable member had better not keep on interjecting, otherwise I may say more than he would care for me to say.
– I am very pleased with what you have said so far.
– Order !
– I was saying, before I was interrupted by the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs-
– Let him alone, and I will deal with him.
– Order ! The honorable member who is addressing the House has asked for order several times, and I invite honorable members occupying the front Ministerial bench to set an example to the rest of the members.
– I was saying that an amount of conspiracy and misrepresentation went on during the last elections, which, so far as my knowledge extends, was unparalleled in the political history of Australia. A conspiracy was put on foot, not only to belittle all those who are connected with the Labour party, but to make the people of this country believe that those who then formed the Government were practically embezzling the moneys of the Commonwealth. These innuendoes were spread throughout the length of the country, not only by circulars and pamphlets, but also by the speeches of honorable members opposite. Let us glance at one or two of them. First of all, the Prime Minister made a statement that the Fisher Labour Government were receiving greater sums of money than the previous Government had received, and spending it as fast as they got it. But he has never been manly enough to get up and admit his error. Here is a sample of the stuff which he hurled out to the electors -
Favoritism of every kind was rampant in the Commonwealth Public Service to-day, and vested interests of the ugliest kind were rearing their heads under the sacred name of labour. If the people of Victoria knew all that was going on they would soon put an end to the rule which traded on the name of labour.
The honorable member, on that occasion, said too much or too little. If he knows of any corrupt thing which was going on, he must be a criminal himself if he is not prepared to denounce it here. The inference to be drawn from his remarks is that something radically wrong was being enacted by the Labour Government of which he knew, and if the people only knew of it they would take a strong stand. What was the meaning of the honorable member’s words if that deduction is not to be drawn ?
– What deduction?
– That the honorable member led the people of this country to believe that, in connexion with the finances, there was something wrong going on, of which he knew but which he was not prepared to tell them. He proceeded farther than that. He went round and told the people of Victoria that on their loan of £1,000,000 which was obtained from the Commonwealth, they had to pay interest at 5 2-5 per cent. He must have known that that statement was untrue.
– Is this in order, sir?
– The honorable member for Kennedy knows that the statement is unparliamentary. I ask him to withdraw it, and if he wishes to challenge the accuracy of a statement made by the Prime Minister to use some other form of contradiction.
– I do not wish to transgress, sir. The honorable member must have known that that statement was incorrect.
– I know that it was absolutely correct.
– The honorable member cannot prove it.
– I can.
– How does the honorable member go about to prove the statement? What process does he use? He admits that the State borrowed £1,000,000 from the Commonwealth at 3½ per cent., and then he says, “ If you add to that the amount which the people of Victoria lost by the Commonwealth taking over the note tax, it comes up to 5¾ per cent.
– Hear, hear ! That is right.
– Clearly, there was an intention on the part of the honorable member to make the people of this State believe that they were paying 5½ per cent. for a loan for £1,000,000.
– I say now that they did.
-The honorable member was not even accurate in the statement he made, because, after all, they were losing nearly £40,000 per year in relation to the note tax.
– The fact remains that it is costing them 5 per cent.
– If the Commonwealth Government were taking about £40,000 in relation to the note tax, which originally the State collected, on amillion pounds, that sum represents 4 per cent.; and, adding the 3½ per cent., by the Prime Minister’s process of reasoning the rate of interest would be per cent. He might just as well have said that the Commonwealth Government were taking so many millions from the people in the form of Customs duties. Therefore, the amount which would have to be paid upon this million of money would be somewhere about 3,000 per cent. That was a deliberate attempt to mislead the people of this country.
– Is that remark in order ?
– I am referring to a speech that was made by the Prime Minister outside this House. He went on to say -
One of the great questions on which they were appealing to the patriotism of the people was as to whether they would have honest government in Australia.
What is the inference to be drawn from that remark ? Is it not that the late Government were dishonest? Yet the Prime Minister has not brought forward an atom of proof in support of his assertion. There is anothermatter upon which he touched at Wangaratta. There he told his hearers that the Government were practically going to make use of your vote, sir, to carry on the business of this country. I do not say that Mr. Speaker has not a right to vote in any way he may think proper.
– The honorable member himself did that when he was in the chair. He came into the chamber and kept a House for the late Government.
– And I would do so again. I expect Mr. Speaker to do the same. But I do object to the Prime Minister going from place to place and practically telling the people that he had Mr. Speaker’s vote in his pocket.
– Did I say that?
– The honorable member made that statement at Wangar atta. If he did not use those very words, that is what he meant. He proceeded -
The Ministryhad£18,000,000 more to spend than their predecessors, and they are finishing up the year with a deficit of about £1, 500,000.
He has never apologized to the House for having made that statement, but it was left to the Treasurer to come along and tell us, not only that he had a surplus of more than £200,000 ‘for the last financial year, but that there was an accumulated surplus of £2,260,000.
– This is a complete misrepresentation - an absolute and unqualified misrepresentation.
– I am merely quoting from a newspaper the Prime Minister’s own statement.
– I say that the honorable member is wrong.
– I would remind the Prime Minister that he will have an opportunity of making an explanation if he is misrepresented.
– I think it is customary for a man on his feet-
– Order ! The Prime Minister is not in order in interrupting the speech of the honorable member in possession of the floor.
– The Prime Minister will be able to say whether I have misrepresented him if he consults the Argus of 5th February of the present year.
– I say that it is a complete misrepresentation.
– Then the Prime Minister must fight it out with his own special organ, the Argus.
– I will not.
– He has no right to find fault with me if that journal misrepresents him.
– I do not think that it misrepresents me. It is the honorable member who is doing that.
– The Prime Minister will say anything and contradict anything.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask you, sir, to require the ex-Honorary Minister, the immaculate gentleman over there, to withdraw his insulting observation.
– If the honorable member for Adelaide made any insulting observation, I must ask him to withdraw it.
– The observation which I made was that the Prime Minister would say anything, and contradict anything. If he considers that truth insulting, I withdraw it.
– Order ! The honorable member is merely aggravating the. offence. In the first place, the interjection was disorderly, and I hope that it will be withdrawn.
– If the honorable gentle man considers the words insulting, I withdraw them.
– Upon another occasion the Prime Minister went so far as to say -
Moreover,£4,000,000 were spent by Mr. King O’Malley without Parliament being made acquainted with where a sixpence of it was going.
What was the object of making a statement of that sort?
– Another inaccurate statement.
– Again I refer the Prime Minister to the Argus of 5th February of this year. Then the honorable member for Wimmera, speaking on preference to unionists, said, “ There was a misappropriation of public funds.” The honorable member contributed to the debate upon this motion, but he did not attempt to say where there had been any misappropriation of public funds. What was the object of all these misstatements? Was there not a conspiracy to blacken the late Government in the eyes of the people? The honorable member for Echuca also made certain very objectionable remarks. The honorable member may treat the matter as a joke, but if the statement was published throughout this country that he was an embezzler, I think he would want to have it rectified. The other evening an affidavit was read by the honorable member for Yarra, which set out that -
Mr. Palmer, M.H.R., at his meeting here, held in the public hall in the evening of Monday, May 26th, 1913, said that Mr. Fisher, Prime Minister, and Mr. O’Malley, Minister for Home Affairs, were robbers. He accused them of taking money out of the Commonwealth Treasury and putting it in their own pockets, and said there were men in gaol doing two or three years for lesser crimes than these Ministers had committed.
This is a serious matter.
– It is alleged, but not proved.
– The honorable member definitely stated that the honorable member for Wide Bay and the honorable member for Darwin were robbers, and that they had put public money into their own pockets. When confronted with this accusation, the honorable member for Echuca said -
I mean to prove it in part on the floor of the House.
Yet the honorable member has never uttered a word. At this stage the Hansard report reads -
– Why does not the honorable member prove it altogether
– I will prove it, so far as it applies to the ex-Prime Minister.
– I see.
– We will have him in gaol, too.
Thousands of copies of Hansard are distributed throughout Australia, so that these statements get circulated. The Prime Minister goes into the pulpit on Sundays, where he preaches “ Peace on earth, and good-will towards men,” yet he allows a” statement like that to be published to the world.
– Does the honorable member wish me to prove it ?
– I want the honorable member to prove it if he can,
– I say that this is beneath contempt.
– I must have that observation withdrawn.
– It is certainly disorderly, and I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw it.
– In accordance with the rules of the House, I withdraw it.
– The reason why I feel so strongly on this matter is that copies ofHansard go all over Australia, and there are a number of scurrilous newspapers which are ready to print such statements. The honorable member for Echuca was not the only man who made the assertion to which I have called attention. One of the paid organizers of the Liberal party in Queensland made a similar statement, and it was published in a newspaper there. I say that whatever our party feelings may be, at least we should try to be honorable one to the other. While we may fightstrenuously in our party warfare, we should always endeavour to respect the personal honour of individuals on both sides of the House. In this case there was a deliberate attempt made to mislead the people, and to convey the impression that there was some thing dishonorable going on amongst the occupants of the Treasury bench. I think that the page in Hansard From which I have quoted should be expunged, and that the Prime Minister should be the first to move in that direction. I am prepared to give the honorable gentleman credit for having made the interjection which he did by way of a joke.
– Do not give me credit for anything.
– Then I take it that the honorable gentleman was sincere, and that he meant it.
– The honorable member may take it anyhow he pleases.
– I am not going to pursue that matter further ; but there are a few facts of which I should like to remind the House. When the Fusion Government took office, there was a surplus left by the preceding Fisher Government of £600,000, but after being in office only nine months, it left with a deficit of £450,000. Notwithstanding that deficit, the last Fisher Government left office, as the present Treasurer has had to admit, with a surplus of nearly £2,750,000. Have there been three years in the history of this country so prosperous as those during which the Labour Government was in power ?
– Providence may have made grapes to grow. I remember the honorable member, at a little place called Avoca, telling the people about his patriotism, and the bad laws of the Labour Government, but he took care to be away last session when those laws were being passed.
– With the consent of my constituents.
– Under the Labour Government the population of the Commonwealth increased by nearly 400,000, its shipping by over 500,000 tons, its external trade by £40,000,000, the production of its pastoral and dairying industries by over £1,000,000, the area under wheat by over 1,000,000 acres, the production of raw material by £14,000,000, the added value given to raw materials by processes of manufacture £11,000,000. The note issue, which has been denounced by honorable member opposite, jumped from £3,000,000 to £9,000,000, and the deposits in the ordinary banks increased by £32,000,000, and those in the Savings Banks - a reflection of the condition of the workers- by £17,000,000. A record like that it would be impossible to parallel in the history of this country. It is said that we drove capital out of the country, but money was flowing into the country.
– Can the honorable member point to one thing done by the Labour party to build up the primary industries?
– Many beneficent measures were passed by the Labour party, which inspired confidence in the people and led to the development of industries. Since this Government has taken office, confidence has been so much shaken that the Treasurer is becoming very uncomfortable. However, at the elections the Labour party was defeated by a majority of one. What was the first thing that the honorable member for Parramatta did on assuming office ? He installed an assistant in the Department of which he took charge expressly to rummage about and ferret out something dreadful done by a Labour Minister. The member chosen for the position was so chosen because he was known to be more unscrupulous than any other.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the word “ unscrupulous “ as applied to an honorable member.
– I withdraw the word. The honorable member for Wentworth was made Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, and he has raked up all the political dirt that he could. First of all a pressman would be got hold of, leading points would be given to him, and something would be published. Then the newspapers would send representatives to the Department, saying, “ What about these statements that have appeared ?” The Minister would reply, “ I understand that there is something radically wrong, and I shall make inquiries as soon as I am able.” His conceit is unparalleled, and he has treated office as a child treats a new toy. We have heard of him at Port Augusta and in the Federal Territory - here, there, and everywhere - making all sorts of insinuations, but never a specific charge of wrong-doing. Although the present debate has been continued over three or four weeks, and many Ministerialists have spoken, and Ministers as well, no administrative act of the last Government has been questioned. The Attorney-General is probably one of the saddest men on the Government side.
They roped him in connexion with the double voting. My opinion is that there was not one case of personation in Australia during the last election. Yet the country was slandered to the fullest extent. We must accept the denial of the Prime Minister that he made the statement published in the Morning Post, but, although he came here with a letter in his pocket, signed by the man who had slandered Australia, he had not the moral courage to tell us the name of the writer who was responsible for the slander. My electorate covers an area of 333,000 square miles, but over that vast expanse there were only nineteen instances of duplicate voting, and my scrutineer tells me that there was not one case of personation. What happened in my electorate happened throughout Australia ; yet the Government is employing detectives to go from place to place trying to discover cases of double voting. As one who has travelled over a good part of Australia, and taken very considerable interest in elections, I can say that in the days when personation was practised in Australia there was no Labour party in existence. Such cases occurred only amongst the ‘ ‘ ins ‘ ‘ and the ‘ ‘ outs ‘ ‘ of the Liberal class. The honorable member for Herbert spoke to-night of a case in which over 200 ballot-papers were found in a ballot-box, when it was known that not more than sixteen people could have voted. That is a perfectly true story, the incident having occurred in Queensland, under a Liberal Administration, when there was no Labour party in existence. These allegations on the part of honorable members opposite have been made simply to justify the assertion which they have made from time to time all over the country that, by doing away with the postal-voting system, we deprived large numbers of people of the right to vote.I unhesitatingly say that my vote will be cast against any attempt to restore the system as we knew it. I have had experience of it, and know what it means. I have seen 2,700 postal ballotpapers in one small electorate. As a justice of the peace, I have witnessed hundreds of postal votes, and, had I desired to do so. could have seen how every person voted. Postal voting results merely in open voting It destroys the secrecy of the ballot. If there is one thing more than another which the British people cherish and value, it is the secrecy of the ballot; and honorable members on all sides of the House should do their utmost to guard against its violation. Postal voting has been abused on every occasion. I was a member of a Select Committee appointed by this House to inquire into one of the early elections. We investigated an election for Melbourne, in which the present sitting member, Dr. Maloney, opposed Sir Malcolm McEacharn. It was proved that on that occasion upwards of 100 votes were practically obtained fraudulently. In the circumstances, we, as a party - and I think that I can speak for the party in this matter - do not intend to allow the postalvoting provisions to be restored to our statute-book in the form they previously took. Not one of the charges made against us has been maintained. When we are able to get at what is in the minds of certain honorable members opposite, we find that what they desire is a double dissolution. Are they going to get one? Does the Attorney-General think that they will bo able to get one? He knows very well that a double dissolution is not possible, in view of the present state of parties in another place. Is it reasonable to assume that it should be possible ? Supposing the Government brought about a double dissolution, what would happen if the Fusion party came back with a majority in the Senate, whilst the Labour party were returned with a majority in this House? Would they have another double dissolution ?
– That is what we want to know. There would be no finality. If a double dissolution were obtained, and the Liberal party came back with a majority in this House and not in the Senate, they would have to obtain a double dissolution only in respect of one particular measure which had been sent up to the Senate and rejected. After its further rejection, the two Houses would meet and vote upon it. But would honorable members opposite be any further forward ? They would still have a majority against them in another place, and, although the particular measure might be carried as the result of a joint sitting of the two Houses, the double dissolution would do them no good. When this question was before the Convention, Mr. B. R. Wise tried to secure the insertion of a clause providing that, in the event of a deadlock, the House of Representatives should be dissolved, and that if the Government of the day came back with a majority, and the Senate still refused to pass the particular measure which had led to that deadlock, the Senate itself should be dissolved. We recognise that that was a very clumsy proposal, but the existing provision in the Constitution in regard to the settlement of deadlocks is just as clumsy. Sir Edmund Barton, who was the leader of the Convention, stated that a double dissolution was likely to take place only in connexion with a Supply Bill, and that since the Convention had made it impossible for the one House to tack on to a Supply Bill, there was no need for the clause. A deadlock could arise in relation only to financial matters, and that possibility having been removed, a deadlock would never take place. We are told that our Constitution is the product of the ablest brains in the country; that it is a remarkable piece of ingenuity in the way of Constitutions; and one of the greatest instruments of government the world has ever known, yet we all know that it is riddled with defects. Honorable members opposite may talk about a double dissolution, but they know that they cannot obtain one. Who is to determinewhen a Bill has failed to pass the other House within the meaning of the Constitution? The High Court alone can determine the meaning of the words “ fails to pass.” And who is to bring the question before the High Court? The Government must thoroughly realize that they cannot get a double dissolution since these words “ fails to pass “ can be interpreted only by the High Court. If the Senate decided that a Bill sent up from this House should be read a second time “this day six months,” that would be a failing to pass. If it refused to agree to the second reading, that also would be a failing to pass, and if it made certain amendments of which this House did not approve, that would be tantamount to a failure to pass the measure. Then three months would have to elapse before we could send up the Bill again, but until the Senate had definitely decided the matter, who could say from when the three months dated ? In this regard, there is really no limitation of time, as will be seen from the list of Bills that I have before me. One of our Standing Orders - I think it is standing order 214a - makes provision for the taking up of lapsed Bills, and the Senate has a similar standing order. I find that the Commonwealth Banking Companies Reserve Liabilities Bill was first introduced in the Senate in 1910. The Bill was sent to this House, lapsed, and, after being revived, it again lapsed in 1911. It was revived again in 1912, so that we find that a measure was practically three years before this and another place, and still under our Standing Orders it had not failed to pass. The Bills of Exchange Bill was started in the Senate in 1907-8, and lapsed in the House of Representatives. It was revived at the end of 1908, lapsed again in the House of Representatives, and was once more revived in 1909. The Navigation Bill was introduced in the Senate in 1908, lapsed, and was revived in the Senate in 1909, but finally lapsed. A second Bill dealing with navigation was introduced in the Senate in 1910, lapsed, and was revived in the Senate in 1911, to finally pass in the House of Representatives in 1912. The Parliamentary Witnesses Bill started in the Senate in 1907-8 and lapsed in the House of Representatives; it was revived in the House of Representatives in 1909, and lapsed, to be revived again in 1911. It lapsed again in the House of Representatives, was revived, and again failed to pass in 1912. I have a long list of Bills which were similarly situated.
– What does this prove ?
– I am trying to prove that there is no limitation of time imposed by our Constitution in regard to Bills before the Houses; and I contend that the words “ fails to pass “ can be interpreted only by the High Court. My own interpretation is that a Bill can be said to have failed to pass only when the Senate, by definite resolution or otherwise, has decided to shelve or reject it altogether. Under the peculiar circumstances of the Senate, a Bill might, we may assume, be casually discussed from time to time without any ultimate decision being arrived at. Under such circumstances, we could not send up another similar measure, because we would not know whether it had failed to pass, and the Constitution provides no method to arrive at a decision.
– This interpretation is a bit novel and interesting.
– The honorable member knows that there is a good deal in the interpretation.
– I am glad my honorable friend thinks so.
– I am trying to show that a double dissolution does not solve the difficulty. The basic principle of the Federation, I take it, is equal representation in the Senate, seeing that but for equal representation none of the smaller States would have come into the Union.
– It has not done the States much good.
– I am not arguing that point, but merely showing that equal representation is the foundation of the Senate.
– And it cannot be altered.
– Quite so. I shall assume that a Bill has been sent up from this place, and twice rejected by the Senate; and then, I ask, if a double dissolution is desired, what has to be done to bring it about? It is not the Government, but the Governor- General, who has the power to say whether there shall be a double dissolution. The Government of the day, let us say, will go to the GovernorGeneral and point out that a Bill has been twice rejected by the Senate, and that a double dissolution is desired. But if a double dissolution is granted, the whole basic principle of Federation is gone. The moment a dissolution is granted, the Senate is of no more use; and, if we are honest, we shall tell the electors that the sooner they wipe out the Senate the better. I may be wrong, but these are my views of the situation. The programme of the Government has been put before us, in my opinion, merely to challenge a fight ; and I hope that honorable members opposite have got all the fight they want. Personally, I think that the sooner the Government go to the country and get a mandate to carry on the better. It is idle to expect the Government to carry on with the casting vote of the Speaker. They may do so, but I do not think they are so devoid of self-respect. The only course is to appeal to the electors at the earliest possible moment; and if the Government come back with a majority, the Senate will have no right to wilfully and deliberately go against any reasonable measures introduced by honorable members opposite. Until that comes about, however, the Senate has every right, not only to go against measures introduced, but to prevent a double dissolution. It is idle to say that the position of affairs in the Senate is likely to be altered. The papers show that three States have given an absolute majority to the Labour party in that House, namely, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. It is reasonable to suppose that if a double dissolution took place, the same three States would continue to return Labour representatives. In Victoria, at least, one Labour senator at the last election secured an overwhelming majority. If the same occurred again we should secure an absolute majority of votes in the Senate. Consequently, there is no possible hope of altering the present condition of affairs.
– What is the objection to a double dissolution ?
– The objection to it is that honorable members opposite would secure no finality. When they consider the facts they must realize the stupidity of what they propose. They could only secure a double dissolution in any case upon a particular measure. If, after the election, the Senate refused to pass that measure, what would happen ? Both Houses would then sit together and vote upon that one question. If the Senate then refused to pass another measure at the instance of this Government, would they propose to go through the same process ? The thing is absurd. Suppose that the position were reversed, and that the Liberal party secured a majority in the Senate, and the Labour party a majority in this House. If a double dissolution were resorted to every time the Senate refused to pass a measure sent up to it, we should be perpetually appealing to the country. The truth is that the Constitution has broken down in regard to the provision for deadlocks. Any thinking man in this community who knows anything about politics must realize that that is the exact position. A good deal has been said about preference to unionists, and about honorable members on this side of the House bringing about class legislation and stimulating class feeling. The late President of the Employers Federation, Mr. Fairbairn, when he was member for Fawkner, had practically to admit in this House that he had made the statement that a class fight is in progress. Very well, then ; let it be a class fight. Let the class fight be as bitter as it can be.
I hail the prospect with delight, as far as the Labour party is concerned. We have had to fight our battles through very bitter circumstances. We have seen some of our men dragged in chains from one end of this country to the other because they dared to stand up for their rights. Men have suffered to bring this movement into existence. But it has come into existence, and has to be reckoned with. We have heard the AttorneyGeneral talking about the ancient guilds and about apprenticeship. Who destroyed the apprenticeship system but the employers themselves 1 They do not want a boy to be apprenticed for five or six years to learn his trade. They want him to learn to do their business in a few weeks, and do not care whether he masters the trade or not. Look at what specialized production means nowadays. A boy is trained, not to be an expert in a trade, but an attendant on a machine. I have seen men minding machines who knew absolutely nothing about the trades with which the goods they produced were connected. Huge joint-stock companies are formed to carry on special forms of production, and the men who invest their money in them know nothing whatever about the industries from which they draw their dividends. The trade union movement has changed considerably since it was commenced. Twenty-five years ago the unions began to take an active part in political life. They were driven to do so from the bitterness that was caused in the struggle between employer and employe. They determined to throw in their lot with those who advocated political action. From that moment, all the bitterness and the hostility which it was possible to hurl against a movement have been hurled at its leaders. Everything has been done to prevent the progress of trade unionism. At that time, the politics of Australia were not as clean as they might have been; and I do not hesitate to say that the Labour party has done more to purify the political life of this country than any other party that has ever existed. We have had no party axe to grind. We . have been animated by a pure desire to benefit the working classes of this country. I do not say for a moment that everything that has been said and done in this movement has been the correct thing, but it was said and done . with a sincere wish to further the best interests of the great masses of the people of Australia. We are told that we should get back to the state of things which existed under the old trade union movement. That, however, was merely an aristocracy of labour in certain industries. Since then there has been a change. The age of machinery has come. Day by day skilled labour has been displaced by machine labour. The labour market was flooded with displaced artisans. The struggle for existence became keener and keener. Political action was forced on the working classes in order that they might maintain a decent degree of comfort in life. The new democratic thought that animates the Labour party of to-day sprang up amongst those who had felt the pinch of life. To-day, the movement reaches to all classes of workmen. Within the last few months a vast amalgamation of organizations has taken place in which one hundred thousand men are involved. These men are going to fight even stronger than ever before. When honorable members object to preference to unionists, I ask them whether the men who have sustained this movement have not a right to ask that they shall have preference in regard to the benefits which accrue from it. As far as we are concerned, I have no hesitation in telling honorable members opposite that if they succeed in wiping out preference they will bring about trouble, which they do not desire to occasion. I have no more to say. I trust that, at all events, however strong our fights may be, they will be conducted honorably. All the abuse, all the insults, all the sneers that can be hurled at us will not succeed in checking the progress of this movement. It will go on in spite of us all. It is a movement that has to be dealt with. It is idle to think that it can be stopped by animosity. It must be taken in hand. If honorable members do not believe that it is going in the right way, let them try to put it on the proper track; but to endeavour to stop its progress is little short of madness, and only those would embark upon such a policy who have no conception of the strength behind it, and of the principles for which it stands.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The House divided.
Several Honorable Members.- Oh, oh!
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Honorable members will be notified of the time when it will be convenient for His Excellency the Governor-General to receive the AddressinReply.
– We have not yet been able to put on the notice-paper business for to-morrow, but we propose to take then some non-contentious matters, if honorable members will permit us; and I should like the Treasurer to be permitted to move to-night for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the Audit Act. That Bill has two objects in view: it will enable a Government to get Supply for the month following the appropriations for the financial year, and thus get rid of a difficulty that arises under present arrangements, and it will give power to institute a Supply and Tender Board in connexion with public requirements.
– Is it understood that the Treasurer will move the second reading of the Audit Bill to-morrow 1
– We shall be glad to facilitate procedure to-night which will enable that to be done; but our action regarding the Bill must depend on the Treasurer’s explanation, and what we think of the proposal. As to Tuesday, I understand that the first business will be the motion of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie regarding the position of the Attorney-General.
– Yes. To carry out this arrangement, I move -
That questions and -orders of the day be postponed to stand after notice of motion, Government Business, No. i.
Question resolved in the affirmative. .
Motion (by Sir John Forrest)’ agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Audit Act 1901-1912
Bill .presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I suggest that, instead of meeting to-morrow at half-past 10, we might, as the hour is now late, meet at 11 o’clock.
– The request is not unreasonable, in view of the lateness of the hour ; but to permit of the arrangement being made, I must ask leave to withdraw the motion for the adjournment.
– I object.
– I thought the request for an adjournment to a later hour than half-past 10 to-morrow a reasonable one, coming, as it did, from the ezMinister of External Affairs.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 September 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19130904_reps_5_70/>.