6th Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 3 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General .
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Usher of the Blackrod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputies of the Governor-General for the opening of Parliament requested the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned,
The Deputy authorized by the GovernorGeneral to administer the oath entered the Chamber.
The Clerk read the commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing the Right Honorable Sir Edmund Barton to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to the King required by law to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.
The Clerk announced that he had received returns to the writs issued for the election of members of. the House of Representatives.
The following honorable members made and” subscribed the oath of allegiance: -
Hon. Austin Chapman, EdenMonaro, New South Wales.
Hon. Patrick McMahon Glynn, K.C., Angas, South Australia.
Robert Howe, Dalley, New South WaleB.
Hon. Charles McDonald, Kennedy, Queensland.
David Charles McGrath, Ballaarat,: Victoria.
Hon. King O’Malley, Darwin, Tasmania.
Colonel Granville de Laune Ryrie, North Sydney, New South Wales.
Hon. William Guthrie S pence, Darling, New South Wales.
– I move -
That the honorable member for Kennedy. Mr. Charles McDonald, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.
I have great pleasure in making this motion, because it was my privilege to sit under the honorable member for Kennedy during a period of three years, when, by reason of the impartiality which he showed to every member, he gave the fullest satisfaction to all parties. But the honorable member is so well known, not only to his fellow members, but also throughout the length and breadth of Australia, that I shall not occupy time in eulogizing him further.
– I second the motion moved by the honorable member for Denison, and undoubtedly express the opinion of honorable members on both sides when I add that in the honorable member for Kennedy we shall have as Speaker a man who will give even-handed justice to all parties.
Colonel RYRIE (North Sydney [3.35]. -I move -
That the honorable member for Lang, Mr. William Elliot Johnson, do take the chair of the House as Speaker.
I make no apology for this motion. It is understood to be the intention of the Government, and the wish of members on both sides, that during the present national crisis no measures of a contentious nature shall be dealt with. Therefore, it should be of no great moment whether the candidate for the Speakership belongs to one party or the other.
– I have pleasure in seconding the motion. It is well known to all honorable members that during the last Parliament the honorable member for Lang had an arduous and exacting time as Speaker, and it will be acknowledged by all fairminded men that he discharged the duties of his difficult position with impartiality, ability, and distinction. We were called on by the Deputy of the GovernorGeneral to elect a “ proper person “ to the office of Speaker, and I therefore confidently second the nomination of the honorable member for Lang.
The honorable members for Kennedy and Lang submitted themselves to the pleasure of the House.
Question - That the Honorable Charles McDonald do take the chair of the House as Speaker - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Members of the House calling Mr. McDonald, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Laird Smith and Mr. Parker Moloney, and conducted to the chair.
Then Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT, standon the upper step, said : - I desire to thank honorable members for electing me to the position of Speaker of this Honorable House, and to assure them that I shall endeavour to carry out the high and responsible duties attaching to the office in a way that will do credit to the country, the House, and myself.
– Sir, i rise to offer you the congratulations, not only of honorable members on this side, but, i am sure, of the whole of the Parliament, on the great honour that you have attained by again being elected to the Chair. I do not desire at this time to enter into any controversial matter. i merely wish to say that the knowledge of your previous term in the Chair is sufficient warrant for what we may expect from you in the future. From my knowledge of your parliamentary experience, which extends over twenty-one years, I am certain that you will adorn the office you occupy, and prove a credit to this House and our parliamentary institutions. When on my feet, I wish to say that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral will be pleased to receive you, Mr. Speaker, in the Library at ten minutes to 4 o’clock.
– I join most cordially in the congratulations which have been offered to you, Mr. Speaker, on - shall I say? - your resumption of the high and important duties of Speaker of this House. I can but hope, as already expressed by the Leader of the Government, that you will have good health and strength to discharge the important functions of your office. You stand in a long line of succession of able men, and I do not doubt that you will worthily uphold the traditions as laid down from time immemorial. In the present House I hope it will be possible for you to discharge your duties with at least as much satisfaction to yourself as did your predecessors. I take some comfort from my recollection of your attitude on the floor of the House during the previous twelve months. I feel certain that if I or any of my colleagues should get a little ex cited sometimes you will be to our “ virtues very kind,” and to our “ faults a little blind.” You will, I am sure, endeavour to the best of your ability to discharge your high duties; and I congratulate you sincerely on your accession to this great office once more. I can promise that so far as we on this side are concerned we shall do everything we possibly can to uphold you in the discharge of your responsible duties.
– I desire to thank the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for their kind expressions concerning myself on my election as Speaker. I shall be pleased if honorable members, who so desire, will accompany me to meet His Excellency the GovernorGeneral in the Library. presentation OF MR. speaker TO THE governor-general.
The House proceeded to the Library, there to present Mr. Speaker to His Excellency the Governor-General.
The House having re-assembled,
– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I proceeded to the Library of Parliament, and presented myself to His Excellency the Governor- General as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough to congratulate me on my election as Speaker. governor-general’S speech.
The Usher of The Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the Message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate Chamber forthwith.
Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly, and having returned,
Sitting suspended from4.20 to 7.45 p.m. deathofthehonorable gregormcgregor.
Mr. fisher (Wide Bay- Prime Minister and Treasurer) [7.45]. - With your consent, Mr. Speaker, and that of honorable members and the Leader of the Opposition, I should like to move a motion before we proceed with our business.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to move a motion?
– Since the dissolution of the last Parliament a distinguished member of that Parliament, the Honorable Senator Gregor McGregor, has passed away. He had been a member of the Commonwealth Parliament since its inception. He ably fulfilled all the duties imposed upon him as a representative of the people ought to fulfil them, and we would be wanting in courtesy to his memory and his bereaved widow and relatives if we did not place on record in this Chamber, as well as in the Senate, where he served the country bo well, the esteem in which we held him. I shall be glad to have the cooperation of the Leader of the Opposition in submitting this motion. Nothing that 1 can say would be a sufficient tribute to the memory of our deceased colleague. He was a firm friend; he was a stout and valiant advocate of the principles in which he believed, but he never dealt an unworthy blow; he was always genuine, genial, and honorable in all his actions towards his colleagues, and towards his opponents. We would go a long way before finding any like him. His death was to me a personal loss. I am sure that I speak for every honorable member when I say that we regret his demise. I can only hope that his widow and relatives may be consoled in this time of trial and difficulties by the recollection that the late Senator Gregor McGregor was a citizen of the Commonwealth, his adopted country, who performed high services for ‘ those whom he represented, and for the whole of the people of Australia. I trust that by adopting this motion that I am about to move we shall place on record our appreciation of the great services that the late senator rendered to the Commonwealth Parliament, and to the people of this country. I move -
That this House places upon record its high appreciation of the great public services of the late Honorable Senator Gregor McGregor, and tenders its sincere sympathy to the bereaved widow and relatives of tin eminent citizen, whose decease is n great loss to the Commonwealth.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) T_7.48]. - I sadly but very willingly second the motion submitted by the Prime Minister. Although not a member of this Chamber, the late Senator McGregor was nevertheless a member of one of the important parties of this Parliament. I recognise, with the Prime Minister, that the personality of Senator McGregor was a most remarkable one in many ways. Without adventitious aids of any kind he secured for himself a commanding position in the Commonwealth, and did every duty which fell to his lot. - and they were many and various and important– in such a way as to commend him to all sides of Parliament. In paying a tribute to a fallen colleague there are no such things as parties. We all join in mourning the loss of one who, in his day and generation, served his party, and, through his party, according to the best of his lights, his ‘country. I believe that in everything he did he was actuated by the sole desire to further the good of his fellow men and the advancement of this great country, which we all have so much at heart. I echo the sentiments of the Prime Minister, and greatly regret that it so frequently falls to our lot to mourn for colleagues who have fallen by the way.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Bill presented by Mr. Fisher, and read a first time.
– I would like’ this Bill taken through all its stages at once. I understand that the Leader of the Opposition has agreed to that course.
– No. The understanding was that the Bill should be taken to-morrow.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs tell me whether the date for closing the competitive designs for the Commonwealth Parliament House at Canberra has been indefinitely postponed?
– I may inform the honorable member that the date for closing the competition in designs has been postponed on several grounds, principally because the war would prohibit competition among architects throughout the Continent of Europe, and confine the competition entirely to American and Australian professional men. Many connected “with the architectural profession are now on active service and bearing arms. One of the judges also is a distinguished Austrian. I have, therefore, decided that the matter should be postponed and revived on a future occasion.
– In view of the great amount of business that this Parliament will have to do before Christmas, does not the Prime Minister think ‘ it necessary in the interests of the country that no private business should be undertaken this session?
– That was not the policy you had last year.
– I do not see that there is sufficient ground for departing from the usual practice of this Parliament. As there will be ample time to carry out all Government business, and at the same time afford to private members the opportunity to discuss matters they wish to bring forward, the Government propose to allot a portion of the time this session to private members. I do not think any Parliament has suffered by adopting this practice.
– Will the Prime Minister, in view of the fact that there is -a drought in several of the States, cause inquiry to be made as to the likelihood of there being sufficient fodder in Australia to meet the needs of the country during the next twelve months, so that, if necessary, the duties which restrict the importation of fodder from New Zealand may be removed t
– I shall be glad to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to have an inquiry made as to the quantity of fodder available in Australia ; but it is not considered proper for a Minister to express any opinion upon Tariff matters prior to an alteration of the Tariff.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs lay on the table a copy of the instruction issued by him which establishes preference to unionists in Government employment, and will he also inform the House what is the number of persons in the employment of the Commonwealth to whom the instruction will apply ?
– There is no objection to doing that.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether there has been issued in regard to every Department an instruction similar to that issued bv the Minister of Home Affairs?
– The instruction of the Minister of Home Affairs conveys thepolicy of the Government.
– Is it to apply to all Departments?
– The policy applies to all the Departments.
– I ask the Prime Minister if all the papers which passed between the late Administration’ and His Excellency the Governor-General relative to the request for a double dissolution have been laid on the table, and1 whether the correspondence has been produced in response to a request preferred bv the right honorable member personally?
– His Excellency cheerfully permitted the production of the papers at my request, and he has assured me that the correspondence produced contains all the papers available on the subject. I understand that there are nopapers connected with His Excellency’s reply concerning the referenda request, in regard to which His Excellency accepted the oral advice of his then advisers. In the correspondence that has been produced there is a copy of all the written reasons given by the late Government to His Excellency in asking for and supporting the recommendation of a double dissolution.
– I understand that there are memoranda relating to other recommendations of dissolution; I have in my mind more particularly correspondence which passed between the Prime Minister and Lord Dudley, when Governor-General, when a request for a dissolution was refused. Since the right honorable member has made a precedent - at any rate in Federal politics - will he have any objection to laying on the table the correspondence which passed on that occasion, and any other similar correspondence that may be available ?
-If the right honorable member will ask for it, I shall lay it on the table with pleasure.
– I do ask for it.
– I shall produce the correspondence to-morrow.
– I direct attention to the fact that something like 400,000 tons of zinc concentrates have ceased to pass through Port Pirie, and that, as a consequence, at Port Pirie and at Broken Hill many men are out of employment. Will the Prime Minister endeavour to ascertain whether it is not possible to provide for the smelting of this ore in Australia, thus creating a permanent and natural industry here?
– Practically half the time of the Government has been occupied in the endeavour to discover means of creating more manufactories for the consumption, of raw products in Australia, and many inquiries have been made with a view to ascertaining what cau be done. The Government is anxious to assist the States financially, to enable them to co-operate in this work. We are doing all we can in the way of investigation, and shall furnish ample opportunity as soon as anything definite can be done.
– As extravagant statements have been made regarding the cost of the east-west railway, will the Prime Minister allow a Royal Commission, or a Select Committee, to be appointed to thoroughly investigate the cost of day labour and that of contract labour in connexion with that work?
– The matter concerns the Department of Home Affairs, but I assure the honorable member that this Government desires facts, not mere expressions of opinion, and if a vigilant and capable Committee or small Commission can be appointed very valuable work may be done for Australia. We do not wish to proceed on wrong data. The matter will receive early and favorable consideration.
– In view of the fact that there is danger of a water famine at Port Augusta, will the Minister of Home Affairs take steps to have a thorough inquiry made as to the possibility of increasing the water supply in the locality?
– The information supplied to me by the Engineer-in-Chief is that the Department is putting down bores along the track of the railway, and that many of these bores have been successful. At Phillips Pond a useful supply of water has been found, apart from the boring. I am informed by the Engineer that the water supply is a matter of some gravity, but that the Department is making every effort to discover water along the track and to utilize to the full any supply that can be obtained. He advises me that the water difficulty has not yet interfered with the continuance of the work.
British “White Book.”
– Will the Prime Minister procure, for the information of honorable members, a copy of the White Book containing the negotiations between the Powers prior to the declaration of war between Great Britain and Germany?
– That is a question for the External Affairs Department. So far as 1 am aware, there is only one copy of the paper in Australia.
– I have ordered a reprint to be made, and a copy will be available for each member within a very short time.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that small settlers are charged by the Commonwealth Bank 2 per cent, more in the way of interest than is charged to big corporations? If so, will he endeavour to arrange with the Governor of the bank that the same interest shall be charged to small settlers as is charged to big corporations?
– I do not propose to make any investigation into the conduct of the Commonwealth Bank. When all other financial institutions turned down, the Cloncurry copper works, and 900 miners were thrown out of employment, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank financed the works, and enabled operations to be continued. In other ways he has been helping citizens whom the other banks would have left without assistance.
– What amount of Broken Hill mine debentures were underwritten by the Commonwealth Bank, and what loss has been incurred by the institution because of the fall in value of those debentures?
– I am unable to answer the question. That slander has been published by various politicians opposite. I venture to say that there waa no loss, but that a great profit was made, which has enabled works at Newcastle to be financed by the bank.
– Regarding the heated statement of the Prime Minister as to the alleged slandering of the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, will the right honorable gentleman tell the House how he comes to be in possession of the information which he has made public? Is he not aware that the members of the last Administration could ascertain nothing whatever about the doings of the bank? How does he come to be informed of the details of the bank’s business?
– My statement was based on information that was published in the press, and other information to be found in financial journals which the right honorable member could have read.
– Does the Treasurer wish us to understand that he has not received any of his information from the Governor of the bank ?
– I have not received anything direct from him.
– Then his statement as to alleged slanders by honorable members on this side of the House is a mere expression of opinion ?
– Order ! The right honorable member is now going beyond the asking of a question.
– I ask whether we are to take the Treasurer’s statement as a mere expression of opinion, having no reference whatever to information supplied by the Governor of the bank ?
– I gathered from the public press that the Commonwealth Bank enabled copper-mining companies at Cloncurry to carry on when other financial institutions would not assist them, and that I believe is the fact.
– Then to what slanders was the right honorable gentleman referring?
– To the attempts to belittle the Commonwealth Bank?
– Does the Treasurer suggest that the statement to which I gave utterance was untrue or slanderous ?
– Order ! Something in the nature of a wrangle now appears to be threatening. One question concerning the bank having been asked, nearly a dozen more seem to have been founded upon it. I do not propose to allow that course to be followed.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank underwrote £50,000 worth of Broken Hill mining debentures?
– I am unable to say; but I feel confident that whatever was done by the Governor of the bank waa done, not only in the interests of the institution itself, but also in the interest* of the people of the country.
– I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether the present irritating and humiliating arrangement in regard to honorable members’ postage cannot be put an end to at once, and the old system reverted to?
– I think that the whole matter will be satisfactorily settled in a day or two.
– Will the Assistant Minister of Defence represent to the Minister the advisability of making early arrangements for the training of cadets, and members of the citizen forces on days other than Saturday ?
– Yes, I will bring the matter before the Minister.
– I wish to ask, Mr. Speaker, whether it is not possible for you, in collaboration with the President, of the Senate, to hand over the antiquecuriosities now in the Queen’s Hall to some biological laboratory, the walls of which they might adorn?
The following papers were presented : -
Double Dissolution - Correspondence be tween the late Prime Minister (the Right Honorable Joseph Cook) and His Excellency the Governor-General.
War with Germany -
Cablegram from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, dated 8th September, 1914, embodying Message from His Majesty the King.
Correspondence, &c, respecting the European Crisis.
Cablegrams re offer by Commonwealth Government of further Brigade of Light Horse.
Ordered to be printed.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Commonwealth Bank of Australia - Balance-sheet at 30th June, 1914, together with Auditor-General’s Report thereon.
Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Regulation amended - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 75.
Dominions Royal Commission (Imperial) - Natural Resources, Trade, and Legislation of certain portions of His Majesty’s Dominions -
Third Interim Report.
Minutes of Evidence - Taken in London,
January, 1914, and Papers laid before the Commission.
Fruit Industry - Royal Commission -
Final Majority Report.
Final Minority Report.
Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Act -
Schedule No. 3 relating to Passenger Fares charged in connexion with the railway.
Goods, Live Stock, and Parcels Rates.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired under, at -
Albion, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Baulkham Hills, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Bookooloo, South Australia- For Railway purposes.
Bulimba, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Canberra, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Cessnock, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Clare, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Cockburn, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Congwarra, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Cooktown, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Eastwood, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Esperance, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Essendon, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Garah South, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Geelong, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Gibraltar, Federal Territory - For federal Capital purposes.
Gympie, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Harrisville, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Inverell, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Katoomba, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Katoomba, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Killara, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Lake Windabout, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
Lefroy, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Little Swamp Well, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
Macksville, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Malvern, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Marvel Loch, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Mintabie Well, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
North Sydney, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Oaklands, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Pennant Hills, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Port Fairy, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Prospect, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Redbank, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
St. Peter’s, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Sydney, New South Wales - For Postal purposes (two).
Townsville, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Tuggeranong, Federal Territory - For Federal Capital purposes.
Unley, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Yass, New South Wales - For Defence purposes.
Land Tax Assessment Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 77, 85.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act - Ordinance of 1914 - No. 2 - Crown Lands.
Papua - Ordinances of 1914 - No. 4 - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 2) 1913-14.
Patents Act- Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 09.
Powellised Timber - Royal Commission - Report.
Post and Telegraph Act -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 38, 43, 44, 48, 49, 53, 70, 71, 72, 76, 86, 112, 120, 121, 133.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 46, 47. 57, 58, 59, 64, 65, 66, 73, 88, 108, 114, 115, 119, 122, 123, 124.
Public Service Act -
Appointments of -
Promotions of -
P.Rees, as Clerk, 4th Class, Correspondence Branch.
Temporary Employes - Return for year 1913-14.
Regulations Amended - (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 94, 138.
Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 113, 136, 137.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act - Ordinances of 1914 -
No. 1. - Interpretation.
No. 2. - Cotter River.
Trade Marks Act - Regulation Amended -
Statutory Rules 1914, No. 56.
Wireless Telegraphy Act -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 111.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 60, 61.
– I have to inform the House that I attended this afternoon in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency the Governor-General was pleased to deliver his opening Speech, of which, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy; but following the usual procedure, unless honorable members desire it, I do not propose to read it. (For text of Speech, vide page 7.)
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That a Committee, consisting of Mr. Jolley, Mr. Lynch, and Mr. Hughes, be appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to both Houses of the Parliament.
That the Committee do report this day.
The members of the Committee retired, and having re-entered the chamber, Mr. Jolley presented the proposed Address-in-Reply, which was read by the Clerk as follows: -
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.
.- I move -
That the Address be agreed to by the House.
The Governor-General’s Speech to honorable members to-day contained, as one living in a British community would expect, first of all, a reference to the calamitous war which is at present devastating Europe. There came one day, from what was apparently a clear sky,a tremendous bolt, which has not only plunged into deadly warfare two nations that were formerly friendly to each other, but has involved in deadly strife practically the whole continent of Europe. The unbridled arrogance and tyranny of one European monarch, anxious to try his pet army, led him, without considering the lives of his own people, or their material welfare, and without regard for the well-being of the world at large, to involve practically the whole of Europe in dreadful warfare. Our own great Empire became involved in that war, not because of any desire for material gain; not because she felt that her material interests were likely to be affected; but in response to a far stronger call. The call which Great Britain answered was the call of honour, than which none could be more potent. We feel, and I say “we” as a humble unit of the great British Empire, that Britain would not be the Britain that she has taught the whole world to believe she is if she had failed to respond to that call when she saw the neutrality of her Allies outraged, and an arrogant nation attempting to ride roughshod over the whole of Europe. Her response was immediate, and I say unhesitatingly that she has never engaged in a more just war. There have been many wars in our history - most of them glorious, most of them entered upon in a righteous cause. There may be some that might be described as “ splendid mistakes ‘ ‘ ; but in respect of the present war there is no room for doubt, no room for hesitancy, and there is no reason why the whole Empire should not have responded as it has done to the call of the Mother Land. Canada has responded, not only with men, but with munitions of war and general war material. Distant South Africa, not so long ago herself involved in fierce conflict with the great British Empire, was so strongly permeated with the spirit of freedom, so imbued with a sense of the freedom she enjoys under British rule, that she was one of the first of the Dominions to throw in her lot with the Mother Country. We know of the response made by our own great Commonwealth. Honorable members need not be reminded of the facts, for they are patent to all of us. We know, too, how in unhappy Ireland, even up to the last day distracted and divided, two warring factions, apt to break into terrible strife at almost any moment, at the first hint of external aggression fell into line, and formed, instead of a menace to the Empire, one of its stoutest bulwarks. We in this Commonwealth are, fortunately, able to view with confidence the great war cloud. There are two or three considerations in connexion with the war, and not the least important is that of financial stability. We are fortunate, inasmuch as a previous Labour Government - and this is one great tribute to the Labour party - had placed us in a position with regard to our financial institutions, which enables us to well withstand the strain. The Commonwealth Bank and the Australian note-issue, reviled, and unjustly reviled, as they have been, by press, politicians and platform orators, are to-day a very present help in time of trouble. I have no hesitation in saying that without them, if the war continued much longer - and we have no reason to say that the end of it is even yet dimly visible - there would be the gravest danger of almost every proprietary financial institution in Australia closing its doors. That disaster we have now no cause to fear. Behind the Commonwealth Bank, abused, as it has been and is, and abused, as I can already foresee, it is still likely to be, we have the whole credit of Australia, and it stands to-day between the Commonwealth and financial disaster. Between Australia and material disaster there stand also our two great arms of defence - the Army and the Navy. These, too, I say without danger of contradiction, were fashioned by a Labour Administration, and it is meet and fitting that the party which fashioned those weapons by which we are enabled to avoid disaster should be the first to use them. We owe them to a Labour Government, and it is meet and fitting that a Labour Government should now be in office to administer them. His Excellency’s Speech referred, necessarily briefly, to the question of Protection. If ever the question of increasing the Tariff, so as to make Protection effective, should appeal to the people of Australia, it is at the present time. Not that it is any more necessary to-day than it was before; but from the march of events in the last few months many people who before the war would not admit the necessity for the desirableness of Protection have now been converted to that plank in their platform which is so dear to the Labour party. We have seen in the past, and, in fact, we see still, our miners and other working men acting as hewers of wood and drawers of water, diving into the recesses of the earth and risking their lives, or ruining their health, to produce our raw materials. These materials are produced ; and instead of good Australian bone and muscle and brain and intelligence working them up to the finished products, they are, in many cases, carried across the seas and, to the foreigners’ profit we pay doubly for them. We raise these raw materials first, and get paid for only the rough work. In almost any shop we could see until quite recently goods marked with the legend “ Made in Germany;” and I shall not be satisfied until that, or any other similar legend, is replaced by “ Made in Australia.” I am pleased to see that the programme which has been presented by the Governor-General is one that will, in all probability, be strongly approved by the people generally. There was a class of people who, perhaps not more than eighteen months ago, regarded the Labour party as enemies and with distrust; and the greatest possible tribute to the work that has been done by that Labour part X is in the fact that now that people have had time to consider, they have, even in the rural constituencies, recognised the claim of that strong and united party to lead the destinies of this great Commonwealth in a time of trouble. It is a- magnificent tribute to the work of the past; and I am sure it will inspire the Government to proceed in the full hope chat what they may do in the future will be fully approved, allowing for the necessary difficulties that must be encountered during the next three years. The farmer was regarded as the last stronghold and citadel of so-called Liberalism in this country; but that citadel has at last been definitely taken by the siege guns of Labour. It was a habit amongst the Opposition, and other Conservatives, to deal with the farmer as the ostrich-raiser deals with his birds. If there is any ostrich -raiser on the Opposition side he will know that when it is desired to pluck the valuable feathers, it is usual to place a paper bag over the heads of the birds; and this is what the Opposition, and the press that represents them, did. They put the paper bag of misrepresentation around the head of the rural ostrich ; and, as it was thus bandaged, plucked out its tail feathers. However, that paper bag - which probably was made up of a copy of the Argus - has been pecked through by the ostrich; and now the farmer in this country has had the scales removed from his eyes, and has demonstrated the fact by giving his support to the Labour party, in view of what they have done in the past, and of what they propose to do in the future, and placed that party in its present strong position.
.- It affords me - very great pleasure to second the motion proposed by the honorable member for Grampians. A more statesmanlike utterance than the GovernorGeneral’s Speech now under consideration never came before an Australian Parliament, and certainly it may be said with truth that the Speech is worthy of the occasion. Never before in the history of our country did we find a Government confronted with so many and varied difficulties as is the Government of Australia to-day. It is true that many of these difficulties were begotten in the past mismanagement in the States, for which mismanagement the Commonwealth Government can in nowise be held responsible. Notwithstanding .that our population is a small one - scarcely 5,000,000 of people - yet, unfortunately, the bulk of these people are artificially supported on the seaboard, with an empty continent behind them; and the duty devolves on the Government, not only to provide for meeting our obligations with regard to the Empire, but also to maintain a vast army of industrial workers engaged on our State railways and other public works, from which we hope ultimately to derive a profit, and, as foreshadowed in the Speech I am commending to-night, to foster the industries of the Commonwealth. Those difficulties are no doubt great and varied; but as a working farmer myself, I have every confidence in the Government. In 1902 I lost some of my sheep and the whole’ of my crops; yet I had faith and confidence in the resources of the country; and if we are only true to ourselves we cannot possibly fail. We ‘know that we are better men because of the vicissitudes and trials which occasionally come on us. As an Australian native myself, I am proud of the stand that is everywhere taken by the people in their efforts to meet the difficulties which confront them. I am sure that the progressive policy of the Government, as laid down in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, will be of inestimable value, especially if it be backed up by progressive State Governments which have control over what I, as a practical man, say is of the most vital importance, namely, the lands. If those State Governments do their duty, and assist in setting reproductive labour free, we know that, with the assistance which the Commonwealth Government can give, we need not be afraid of the issue. It is a special pleasure to me to see it foreshadowed in the Speech that we are soon to have before us the question of granting wider powers to the Commonwealth. This question was put prominently before the people during the election campaign, and we are told that it is to be brought forward in the immediate future, so that this Parliament may be given power to give full and fair expression to the will of the people in every matter material to the interests of the Commonwealth. As a Protectionist through conviction all my life, I feel that the fiscal question and the one to which, I have just referred, are very closely allied. I believe in the policy of effective
Protection, because no country has yet attained industrial greatness without it. I hold that Protection can and does accelerate production, but yet, without the wider powers asked for by the referenda, which are necessary to insure the equitable distribution of wealth, much of the benefit from production is lost to the real producers - the workers of the country. I should like to say that to my, perhaps, simple mind there is no difference between the principle of the proposal of the Labour party - that is, State control with the right of punishment where wrong-doing is perpetrated either in the production or distribution of wealth - and the principle we all, whether Liberals or Labour men, subscribe to in regard to the security of life and property. The proposal simply means that we indorse the principle that the community must do for individuals what individuals cannot do for themselves. Under the fundamental principle of Democracy, we have claimed the right to govern ourselves, and, since that democratic law rests on the moral law which makes every man responsible for himself, the responsibility must be accepted, and punishments provided for. We accept the principle of State interference; and to leave the great avenues of production and distribution to be exploited by powerful interests, whether individual or corporate, is to perform only half our duty and bring loss and injury on the community. It, therefore, affords me very much pleasure to see those proposals put forward so prominently. I hope that when they are submitted to the people, they will receive sanction and that this Parliament will be made the instrument which we aim at making it - so potent as to know no superior from one end of Australia to the other. There is another little matter to which I should like to briefly allude; and I wish to be brief in this my first utterance iri the Parliament of my native country. I refer now to the heroic stand made by little Belgium. In the Speech of the Governor-General we are informed that some recognition of this heroism is to be made; and it may be said by some that the money could be better spent at home. We are, however, showing that it is not only when we are well and prosperous that we can recognise worth or maintain the dignity of Australia. The prominence given to the question of Belgian independence is fraught with great consequences to the world. When we find the great nations of the earth subscribing to the doctrine that it is not numerical strength but individual worth that should be maintained - that the individuality of a nation is something valuable, irrespective of the size of the nation - we have gone a long way towards the solution of a great problem. It is shown that in the councils of the world nations, both large and small, provided that they are worthy and progressive, ought to meet on equal terms and receive equal consideration ; and this will, in a great measure, assist in bringing about permanent peace, seeing that the desire to seek superiority by brute force will not be so rampant as now. It would, perhaps, be just as well if I, as a working farmer, were to say something regarding the proposal to make the Commonwealth Bank of greater benefit to the producers of the country. As a farmer who has sold wheat at ls. 9d., ls. 10d., and 2s. a bushel in the lean years, I say that, notwithstanding all the many and varied, and, doubtless, commendable efforts to establish co-operative societies and other institutions to handle our produce so as to save much of the monstrous cost of distribution, all such systems break down to some extent. They never can realize the object in view, because the bulk of the primary producers are mostly needy producers. No society or system has yet been evolved by private enterprise by which these people can be financed during a period that must elapse before they can market their goods to the best advantage at the other end of the earth. And I see no reason why, under a parental Government, such as I recognise to be now in office, the Commonwealth Bank may not be made the means of financing such needy settlers and doing away with an army of rapacious middlemen, who are utterly unnecessary. Such a system ought to be and can be introduced, and it will go a long way towards making the position of the man on the land more secure. I do not intend to further occupy the time of honorable members, but I trust that the proposals which are mentioned in the Speech, .and which to me, as a prac-tical man, seem so commendable at this, crisis in our history, will be put into practice in the shortest period possible. I have much pleasure in seconding the motion moved by the honorable member for Grampians.”
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) agreed to -
That unless otherwise ordered, this House shall meet for the despatch of business at 3 o’clock on each Wednesday afternoon, and at half-past 2 o’clock on each Thursday afternoon, and at half-past 10 o’clock on each Friday morning.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General recommending an appropriation for the purposes of this Bill.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General recommending an appropriation for the purposes of this Bill.
– By leave of the House I should like to make a statement in regard to the urgency of the Supply Bills which I desire to have dealt with to-morrow
– I have no intention of touching upon the financial position beyond saying that the Supply Bill is urgent for many reasons. Those reasons are known, I think, to the Leader of the Opposition, to every member of Parliament, and to most of the general public, namely, that during the interregnum between the dissolution of the last Parliament and our meeting to-day, circumstances arose, in connexion with the outbreak of war, which demanded a larger expenditure than was anticipated before the last Parliament was dissolved. It was necessary to expend money for the urgent requirements of the Empire and the Commonwealth; and, therefore, > money was expended without legal authority.. Although I believe there is hardly a person in Australia who would question such disbursements, nevertheless we, as a Parliament, ought not to allow to pass any longer time than is necessary before validating that expenditure. The other matter of urgency is that it is necessary to make the usual mid-monthly payments to the Public Service, and for that purpose we shall require to get the Supply Bill through the House of Representatives and the Senate to-morrow. I mentioned the matter to the Leader of the Opposition, and he has promised his cooperation, so that Supply may be granted, and available for the payment of the usual services.
– When will the Bill be available?
I should like to add whilst I am on my feet that the White paper to which reference was made earlier in the evening is now available, and members may procure copies before they depart this evening.
– Of course, we shall assist the right honorable the Prime Minister to get the Supply Bill through to-morrow. We know that the measure is urgent, and, no matter what controversies may arise in. this House, they ought never to bo per,mitted to interfere with the ordinary regular payments to our Public Service. As far as members of the Opposition are concerned, the Bill will go through tomorrow in good time for that purpose. However, I now, for the first time, under-, stand from the right honorable gentleman that he has in contemplation two Bills for to-morrow.
– There are the Works Bill and the Supply Bill.
– Do I understand that this is the ordinary monthly Supply Bill?
– No ; the validation of the extraordinary expenditure will be contained in a clause in the Supply Bill.
– Will there not be an appropriation?
– An Appropriation. Bill with a validating clause.
– I doubt the wisdom of doing that. I think it ought to be a principle of our finance that, all through these emergent circumstances, the war expenditure should be dealt with separately and kept distinct from ordinary Government expenditure. That ought to be a fundamental principle of our finance until these emergent circumstances cease.
– That does not affect the question. The war expenditure will be kept separately and shown separately, but the money must be voted just the same.
– I take strong exception to the incorporation of special and emergent expenditure for the purposes of,the war in an ordinary Supply Bill to meet the exigencies of the Public Service. The two things are quite distinct in principle, and ought to be kept separate. I make the suggestion now, before it is too late, that the Prime Ministerought to keep the two expenditures quite separate ; theyare not on the same plane at all. If he adopts that course it will add to the clarity of our reasoning concerning them and facilitate their treatment in every way, and that method will be also fairer to the public and to this House.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I trust that members will attend tomorrow in the same mind as the Leader of the Opposition, and assist the Government to get the Supply Bills through. We will be able to easily adjust any little differences in regard to separating the various classes of expenditure later on whendealing with the voting ofa larger amountfor Defence than is concerned in the Bills to come before the Chamber tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at8.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 October 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19141008_reps_6_75/>.