8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister I desire to address a question to the Treasurer.
– Questionswill not be answered to-day.
– Is the right honorable gentleman aware-
– The Government having intimated its intention not to answer questions, we shall proceed at once with the business of the day.
Debate resumed from 14th July (vide page 2738), on motion by Mr. Tudor -
That the Government is deserving of censure for its general incapacity, and more particularly -
for its failure to prevent an inordinate rise in the cost of living;
for its failure to keep its pledges with returned soldiers and their dependants]
for its failure to take steps to deal with the causes of industrial unrest;
for its failure to secure an adequate return to the Australian people for their wool and other primary products sold overseas;
for its failure to make definite binding contracts for the sale of such products which would have prevented any possibility of profiteering overseas in Australian products at the expense of Australian producers, and would have made it possible to secure a prompt adjustment of accounts in connexion with such sales.
.- It is passing strange, in view of theseries of serious charges levelled at and proved against the occupants of the Treasury bench, that no grave attempt has been made by the Prime Minister, or any member of his party, or any member of the party which professes to call itself the Country party-
– I ask whether that remark is not an imputation upon the bona fides of the Country party, which should be withdrawn?
– The remark was merely an expression of opinion, and was not out of order..
– It is passing strange that neither the Prime Minister nor any member of the two parties to which I have alluded has thought fit to make a serious reply to the charges brought against the Government concerning matters affecting the well-being of the whole people. Hon-‘ orable members opposite have adopted a contemptuous attitude towards the motion.
– We wish to hear you first.
– I thought I would draw some of you, as I shall again before I sit down. It is time that the people of Australia saw through the hypocritical guiseof certain members ofthis House, who, whilepretending to dissociate themselves from the Government, and to stand for the. interests of the primary producer, are the very persons who are always ready to save the Government, and to vote against the interests of the primary producers. Is it not always those honorable members who sit on the Corner benches who keep the Government in office? On them the fate of the Ministry depends; without their support the Government could not remain in office for two minutes;
– Is the censure motion directed at the Corner party?
– It is a censure directed at the Government, and at every honorable member who votes to keep the Government in office, whether a Ministerialist or a Corner party member; On Saturday last the peopleof Ballarat in an unmistakable voice, declared that there is no practical difference between the Ministerialist’s and the Corner party members: The- latter may call themselves what they choose, and adopt what tactics they choose; but they like the Ministerialists, are anti-Labour: That party, which entered’ the House with a great flourish of trumpets, crying for the restoration of responsible government, is keeping iin power a Ministry which has degraded every tradition of parliamentary history. The War Precautions Act is still in operation. Although the war; to all intents and purposes, finished long ago, regulations are still being issued under the War Precautions Act, and the country is being governed by them without a word or act of protest on the part of those who sit on the Corner benches. What have they done to put an endto this pernicious system of governing by regulation?
– We do not waste as much of the public time as many other honorable members do.
– I need not waste much time over the honorable member, or any of those who sit on the Corner benches, because the people of the country can see through their humbug. I wish now to say a word or two about the attitude of the Prime Minister.
– Have you. finished with the Corner party ?
– When I have done so, there will not be much left of you.
– Before you speak of the Prime Minister, I should like to know why it was that the Labour party selected the Country party candidate as its second choice in the Ballarat election?
– Because, under our electoral system, we are compelled to cast preference votes, and being forced to make a choice, we, like sensible, people, choose the lesser of two evils. Politically speaking, the Corner party candidates and Corner party members, are to us an evil, though a little less so than the direct Ministerial supporters and Ministerial candidates: The great Australian Labour movement is always in the lead, and we know that the second preferences of our candidates are never counted. The electoral system adopted is therefore immaterial to us, because our candidates will win. Let me add in passing that the result of the Ballarat by-election may be regarded as the writing on the wall. It presents a forecast of what is in store for honorable members opposite when they go to the people at the nest general election.
– Which the honorable member is praying will not take place for the next two years and six months.
– Nothing of the sort. What I am praying for isthat, by a double dissolution of this Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity, the people will be placed in a positionto oust the present Government from their position;
I wish to make one or two references to the attempt which the Prime Minister made yesterday to reply to the charges of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor). His remarks did not constitute any reply to the charges levelled at the Government. They represented merely the usual vulgar attempt to. side-track the real question before the House and the country to-day. The Leader of the Opposition, on behalf of the party on this side, charges the Government, first of all, with their general incapacity.
– What a monstrous thing !
– When we make that charge the Prime Minister does not reply to it but says, “ Gentlemen, cast your eyes on this bogy I have set up for you.” He has thrown a scarlet cloak around the bogy he has set up, and the moment the Government are charged with any offence the Prime Minister points to his bogy and says, “Hush, here is the bogy man.” The people of Australia see through these low-down tactics, and their adoption will not avail the Government. I believe that the majority of the rank and file of the party behind the Prime Minister to-day is heartily ashamed of the tactics he adopted yesterday in dragging into our discussions in this Chamber matters of conscience between the individual and his Creator, which should be held sacred, and which no public man has the right to introduce into a debate of this kind. I repeat that I believe the majority of honorable members opposite are heartily ashamed of the attempt made yesterday afternoon by the Prime Minister to side-track the real issue before the country.
The Leader of the Opposition points out that profiteering is going on throughout Australia, that the people are being robbed by the profiteers, and called upon to pay vastly increased prices for the commodities they use. What is the reply of the Prime Minister to the charge that he and his Government have permitted this to go on? It is “Hush, the bogy man.”
– Who said that ?
– The reply made yesterday by the Prime Minister to the charge levelled against the Government in this connexion amounted to nothing but that. He put up his bogy, and did not attempt to defend himself or his Government against the attack of the Leader of the Opposition. His reply was merely, “Here isthe bogy, beware. Do not charge this Government with anything, because here is the bogy man.” The right honorable gentleman should not forget that the people of Australia are not children, and are not frightened by bogy men any longer.
– The Prime Minister never said anything about bogs men.
– Irepeat that he set up his bogy man. When we charge him with not carrying out his promises to returned soldiers, and with permitting harpies from one end of Australia to the other to make profits by trading in the war gratuity bonds of returned soldiers, his reply again is, “Hush, the bogy man.” The people of Australia will give honorable members opposite all the bogy men they are looking for when they get the opportunity at the next election.
There is another important matter upon which the people will demand some explanation of their attitude from honorable members who sit in the Corner. The Government have done away with trial by jury in this country. The people of Australia will demand from them and from honorable members who sit in the Corner an explanation of their attitude in connexion with the abolition in this country of open fair and British trial by jury.
– Hear, hear!
– The people will ask honorable members in the Corner why they approved of the action of the Government in throwing into the wastepaper basket the great charter of liberty which something over 600 years ago was wrung from the trembling King John at Runnymede. That great charter of liberty gave to every British subject the right to a free and open trial by his peers. The Government during the last three or four years have thrown trial by jury into the waste-paper basket, and they are doing the same thing to-day. There is no open trial, no charges are formulated, an accused person is given no opportunity to face his accuser. People are grabbed in the night and taken away from their families and loved ones. They are hustled from one State to another to evade the ordinary operation of the Law Courts of the country. In these circumstances I ask honorable members to say where the great charter of British liberty is to-day. How can the Government continue in office conducting the affairs of the country if honorable members who sit in, the Corner are not prepared to agree to this kind of thing? I ask those honorable members to say whether they stand for it or not. So far as I am personally concerned, I care not whether the crime with which a person is accused be great or small he has a right under our great charter of liberty to demand an open trial, and that he should be faced with his accuser. He has the right to demand an opportunity to defend himself in open Court. Do the Government give people of this country that right? We can refer to a case in connexion with which a supposed inquiry was granted the other day, but when we asked for the production of the evidence taken at thatinquiry the Government refused to produce it. We have a statement publicly made by a gentleman of some standing in this country, that at a certain inquiry held in Sydney recently not one word of evidence was given against the person whom the Government held in custody. The whole of the evidence given at that inquiry was in favour of the accused person. Do honorable members opposite stand for that? I say that it does not matter what crime a man is charged with he has the right to an open and fair trial by his countrymen. I shall be no party to depriving any man of a fair trial. In my opinion the vilest criminal in the land has a right to an open and fair trial. In this case, because it suits the political game that the Prime Minister desires to play, certain men are hustled away, and no public statement in regard to the matter is made .by the Government. Not a word is said as to the charge against them ; no opportunity is given them to defend themselves, and they are deliberately denied the privilege of having counsel to appear for them. This is a negation of one of the basic principles of British liberty. In Australia to-day, even a man charged with the vilest murder is not only given a fair trial in open Court, but if he is without means counsel for his defence is provided by the Crown. In these cases, however, no specific charge is made against the men. No opportunity is given them to state their case, and they are not allowed to retain counsel to conduct their defence. It is about time that a stop was put to this sort of thing in Australia. If any man commits an offence for which he should be gaoled or deported, let, the charge be proved against him, and let him take his punishment. I do not stand here to protect any person from the consequences of his own acts, hut I do stand for the principle of giving every man in a British community the right of an open trial and an opportunity to clear himself, if he can, of the charge or charges made against him. The Government are building up for themselves a day of reckoning, and when that day comes there will be little left of them. They will be overwhelmed by a great avalanche of indignation, which will have had its birth in the action of the Government in depriving men of the great rights which hundreds of years ago were wrung from King John at Runnymede.
I recognise that it is futile to appeal to the Government and their supporters, but to the Corner party we surely can appeal. We are merely asking for the recognition of traditional rights.
– If the honorable member is after our support, he is adopting a very clumsy way of obtaining it.
– We do not want your support.
– If the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) holds so loosely to his principles that some chance remark of mine induces him to depart from them, then he does not understand what principle means. When I believe in a certain principle, it is immaterial to me what may be said; I stand to it in any circumstances, and am prepared to take the consequences. This attempt on the part of the honorable member to hide behind so paltry an excuse will protect neither him nor his party. His excuse is too thin. The Prime Minister yesterday raised the bogy-man which was so effectively knocked down at Ballarat last Saturday, and he raised it against, not only us, but the Country party. The Prime Minister, whom they are supporting with their votes in this House to-day, raised this very same bogy against their candidate for the Ballarat by-election. Such are the tactics of the Prime Minister. The history of the public life of Australia is studded with instances of men who, entering upon the dying days of their political career, have trotted up this old bogy. The history of the failures in the public life of Australia shows that in every case they raised the bogy-man with the scarlet cloak. I wonder what honorable members of the Country party thought of the action of the Prime Minister in raising this bogy-man against their candidate at Ballarat. I hope they enjoyed it.
The right honorable gentleman was pleased yesterday to attack this party on the ground that it comprised only twentyfive members. After the return of the writ for the Ballarat by-election we shall be twenty-six strong; but because of the relative smallness of our numbers he attacked us and sneered at us. Throwing out his chest and pluming himself, he said that when he led Labour it was a gloriously strong party. As a matter of fact, he has never led the Australian Labour party to victory. When he assumed the leadership of the party, he led it to destruction. Hardly had he taken control than the party became divided and broken. The Australian Labour party was built up under the leadership of such men as J. C. Watson and Andrew Fisher. Those are the men, and not men such as the present Prime Minister, who1 led the party to victory. The right honorable gentleman talked of the great victory achieved by Labour in 1914, when our party overwhelmed all its opponents. I wonder what most of his followers who are sitting behind him to-day thought of that statement. The Prime Minister and the country know that the very men who were defeated by us in .those days are tie men with whom the right honorable gentleman sits to-day cheekbyjowl. As the Prime Minister spoke, the face of the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) was a study. He could not but recall immediately his experiences of 19.14, when from one end of this country to the other the Prime Minister flogged and scarified him and the party which he led. The Prime Minister then crumpled into political dust the present Acting Treasurer and many of the men who sit behind him to-day. He has now the effrontery to hurl at this party the taunt that it consists of only twenty-five members. Victories gained at the expense of principle are paid for too -dearly, and the Labour movement will never buy victory by sacrificing its principles for the sake of place and pay. If we had chosen to sacrifice our principles, to hurl them overboard, and to go over to the traditional enemies .of Labour, the exploiter and the profiteer, we could have been, as the Prime Minister rightly says, sitting on the Treasury bench to-day. We preferred not to do so. To us such a victory would be a barren one. A victory without principle is of no use to the Labour movement. We have our trust deep down in the hearts of the people of this country, the great -working masses, the toilers of Australia. Those are the people to whom we look, and with whom we stand. All the taunts and sneers of the Prime Minister will avail him naught. We stand to principle, regardless of the cost and irrespective of whether we may gain victory or not.
When I heard the Prime Minister taunting us with the fact that we were only twenty-five strong in the House today, and when I saw the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Joseph Cook) sitting alongside him, my mind went , back to some of the early days in New South Wales, particularly in Balmain. In those days I saw the Prime Minister in a very lowly and humble position in the suburb where I was reared. I was m close .contact with him for many years before he entered public life. I saw him there in his days of poverty, and I know how the workers stuck to him. .1 know what they did in Balmain for him, ‘and he knows it, too. Now I find the same man hurling taunts at the party which stood by bini, and I .find sitting .alongside him the man whom he fought, and against whom ‘he wrote scarifying articles. “The Prime Minister -ventured into the realms of journalism in those early days. He and Mr. Holman, with great struggles and great trials., used to publish a paper called The New Order, and the most powerful articles in it were those from the pen of W. M. Hughes. He was the man who preached real rank red-raw Socialism to us in those days. He was the man who pointed out to the workers the way to go. The articles that the Government object to to-day -are only a .circumstance compared with those written by W. M. Hughes and printed in The New Order. One article in particular came to my mind yesterday afternoon, when I looked at the Prime Minister sitting cheek_ .by jowl with the honorable member for. Parramatta. That was an article written by the Prime Minister and entitled -, “ Joephisto Cook.” The Prime Minister might tell honorable members what that meant. The sub-heading was, “ The Scoot of ‘the Rats.” In that article the Prime. Minister scarified his present boon-companion (Sir Joseph Cook) for having ratted on the Labour party. Yet to-day he has the impudence and effrontery to jeer at and taunt us. As the same time, he is sitting cheek by jowl with the man whom he scarified and condemned for doing just what he is doing to-day - condemning the party that gave him his political birth. It is unworthy of a man .holding the high position of Prime Minister of this great Commonwealth to descend to those, mean and paltry methods of attack. Surely there are big problems to be dealt with and bigger ways of dealing with them- than this paltry, petty, down.inthe gutter kind of tactics adopted by the Prime Minister. My appeal is for a man of big ideals and big principles to lead this Commonwealth. Honorable members opposite may well ask, concerning the members of their own party, “ Where is he?” and echo will answer, ‘.’Where?” But I believe that there are. men in this House capable of taking a big stand, upon, big Australian matters. I believe there are many men here capable of properly upholding the position of Prime Minister; It is degrading not 1 only to Parliament but to the people of this great Commonwealth that its first citizen, the Prime Minister, should indulge in- this sort of vulgar abuse. The man who descends to such tactics is unfitted for the position of Prime Minister of Australia. It is up to the honorable members sitting in the Ministerial Corner to see if they cannot find somebody more fitted and able to fill with honour the position- of Prime Minister. The members of the Australian Labour movement cannot govern without a majority, because the Labour movement never goes back on principle, and we, as a Government, if we could not put our principles into practice, would not remain in office two minutes. We should decline, if we had to govern by jettisoning our principles. Let a majority of the House- decide that we shall have somebody in that position who is worthy to -govern Australia, and capable of rising to the responsibilities placed upon the shoulders of any man who occupies it. This mere twittering, humbugging, sneering, and trying, by a trick of mental agility, to make an opponent look cheap or small, is unworthy of any person who1 holds the high position of Prime Minister of Australia. The House should endeavour to rise a little above that sort of thing. The House has in this motion an opportunity of deciding upon a Prime Minister who can worthily uphold the best traditions of Australia and of its Parliament.
– That must mean you. I cannot think of anybody else.
– I utterly fail to rise to the exalted idea which the honorable member for Grampians holds about, himself. N!o doubt the honorable member has been preening- himself, and imagining that he himself is the man. It is quite an open secret that he has been expecting appointment as “Leader of the Country party. For myself, I am merely a humble follower of the Leader of the Labour party. My only desire is to help along the party and the movement with which I am associated, for the betterment of the conditions of the men and women who toil to build up the fortunes of the profiteers. The Prime Minister, I repeat, attempted to belittle the Labour party. I look at the spectacle of another honorable member sitting cheek-by-jowl with him. I wonder where the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs) will be when the division takes place. A newspaper stated the other afternoon that the Prime Minister had been seen with his arm about the neck of the honorable member, and hig mouth at his ear. No doubt he was telling the honorable member a sweet little tale. Do we not all remember the Prime Minister taunting the honorable member in this Chamber with having “ a mind like a toad in a cesspit ?” To-day he is the boon companion of the Prime Minister, and his will be the vote that will continue the_ Government in office. The honorable member for Capricornia was returned to this House as a direct opponent of the present Government. The people of Capricornia sent him here to oust the Government from office, and he has no moral right to keep the Government in” power. He was returned to Parliament as a direct supporter of the Leader of the Opposition, and as a member of the Australian Labour party. What happened subsequently is immaterial so far as the principle at stake is concerned. The honorable member may claim that certain officials of the Labour movement did something that they should not do, but that does not give him any right Lo go back upon his principles, and upon the people who elected him. If the honorable member desires to keep the Government in power by his voice and vote, the only honorable thing for him to do is to resign and go before his electors again. Let him say to them, “ I cannot now represent you in the capacity in which you returned me, but I ask you to re-elect me as a direct supporter of the Government.” If he does that nobody will” be able to find fault with him. But I find fault with any man who obtains election to this House under one banner, and then inarches beneath the opposite banner. If at any time I find myself in regard to questions of principle out of step with the party with which I am associated to-day, I shall take the course dictated by honour; I shall resign my seat, and tell the people that I desire to be re-elected upon a new pledge, If the people again accept me under those conditions, no fault can be found with me. On this question I am using the mildest language at my command. If the honorable member chooses to adopt a course different from that I have indicated, he must be the arbiter of his own conduct; but to my mind principles are of far greater importance than the retention of a seat in this House. I would sooner go down and out ten thousand times than accept any position in or out of Parliament at the expense of any principle I hold dear. There are some individuals who cannot understand a person holding principles dearer to, him than wealth and position. A man should stand by those things which he believes to be right, no matter what hand or tongue “may be against him.
– The honorable member’s party kicked me out for doing that.
– The Labour party did nothing of the sort. Nobody knows better than the honorable member the kindly feelings entertained towards him by the. members of this party. But having been returned to the House by the men and women of Capricornia to shift the present Government from office, he is now’ about to vote to keep them in power. That is the principle at stake; the actions and attitude of honorable members on this side are beside the. question. As a matter of fact, we took no action, and the honorable member knows it. But, whether we did or not does not affect the principle.
– Not one honorable member of the Opposition has expressed a word of public regret at the action of the Brisbane Executive, although professing this friendship for me.
– I felt sorrow, deep and lasting, in my heart when I witnessed the spectacle of the honorable member for Capricornia voting with his life-long political opponents; voting to keep in power a Government which he was sent here to turn out. He, like the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), has dabbled in journalism in his early days. Do I not remember the inspiring articles which the honorable member wrote many years ago? Do we not recall with a thrill that great slogan which emanated from the honorable member for Capricornia and was blazed from one end of the country to the other - “ Bread or blood”? To-day, I wonder what the honorable member has to say.
– He got the bread - his daily bread.
– The .workers . who put the honorable member for Capricornia into this House, when they ask of him bread receive only a stone.
I wish to refer now to the assumption of the Prime Minister that he controls a great majority in this House. Such an ‘assumption can only be based on his belief in the statements which he made yesterday; and we can only assume that, if the Prime Minister truly believes he has something to go on, there must be some secret understanding between the Government and the members of the Country party.
– The Prime Minister referred to the members of both Houses of this Legislature.
– While there may be no arrangement with the Country party, as a party, how do we know that there may not be some working agreement among certain of the individual members in the Corner? If such be not the case, however, how can the Prime Minister assume and assert that he controls the great majority in this House? The fact is that he does not hold a majority. The Prime Minister has indicated that he is of opinion that he has the Country party “ in a bag.” Last week he was speaking of the numbers on both sides of this House, and his attention was drawn to the members of the Country party, sitting in the Corner. What did he say? How did he indicate his feelings towards them? He referred to them in the language of a sheep, probably thinking that they would understand that. His reference to them consisted of a wave of an arm and a contemptuous “Bah!” Probably the Prime Minister looks upon them as so many sheep, and has them well coralled in the home paddock, ready to be shorn when the time comes to take the pending vote. Here is the actual position of parties and individuals in this House, and the members of the Corner party must accept full responsibility for the situation as it stands. It is just as well to be candid. I do not run about from corner to corner, afraid to speak. So far as the members of the Government and its direct supporters are concerned, we know where they stand. I honour any man who is a straight-out opponent, and am prepared to give him credit for his opinions. I will always meet him as man to man, on fair ground. But as for those who desire to sail beneath a stolen flag, it is about time their craft was sunk and its crew forced to step aboard’ some ship which is flying their true flag and indicating their real identity. As a matter of fact, the people of -this country do not want -the gentlemen to whom I refer’ to sail on any ship, but would prefer to see them walk the plank. And they will have t% do so when it comes to the acceptance of responsibility for their votes. These country representatives go out into the country and condemn the actions of the Government in the matter of handling Australia’s wool. Yet, at the same time, every vote they cast here is a vote to retain the Government in office. Such conduct will very soon be seen through, and the people will know what to do.
The Labour party in this House has twenty-six direct followers. The Corner party, we understand, has eleven direct followers. The straight-out anti-Labour party, whose members masquerade as Nationalists, numbers thirty-six in the House of Representatives. Then there is the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs). I do not know where he stands. Surely, however, he will consult his conscience to-day and decide to be somewhere else when the vote is taken. Then there is also Mr. Speaker.
– There is supposed to be another independent member, namely, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Francis). Where is he?
– I wonder ! The position is that the followers of the Prime Minister total no more than thirty-six.
– And that total is doubtful.
– Very doubtful! But, conceding the Prime Minister the support of all those who stood as direct Nationalist candidates at the last elections, it is obvious that he can command only thirtysix actual followers in this Chamber. Against him and his followers, elected by the people of Australia, elected directly in opposition to candidates of the Government party, there are thirty-eight members of this Chamber. Where is the great majority behind the Prime Minister? Never a truer word was spoken than that uttered by the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor), when he said the Prime Minister and the Government were hanging on by the skin of their teeth. The skin of their teeth consists of the votes of the members of the Country party. The Government would npt be permitted to stay in office for another two minutes unless that party were prepared to keep it there. And, for such a state of affairs the Corner party must take full responsibility. What is more, it will not be allowed to shirk its responsibility.
– Give us your policy.
– The first plank of our policy is, “Shift this anti-Labour Government”; and the second plank is “ Make the members of the Corner party come out in their true colours.” They should not declare themselves to be against the Government, which has thrown the principle of trial by jury overboard and has been governing the country under the War Precautions Act, and at the same time, by their votes in this Chamber, keep the Government in power. Members of the Corner party have an opportunity now of putting themselves right with the people by accepting their responsibility. Are they big enough to shoulder this responsibility? Have they an adequate conception of the future? Can they rise to the occasion? Or, on the other hand, are they going to be “ namby pamby “ followers of the Prime Minister? Every man in public life should be prepared to accept responsibility. If he is not, then he has no right to remain in public life. The eyes of the people are upon members of the Corner party. It is of no use for the
Prime. Minister to hurl his taunts at members of the Opposition. All that avails nothing. The really important question is the attitude of the Corner party. Are they prepared to stand up for the interests of the people whom they say they represent?
– A charge has been made against members of the party which I have the honour to lead, that yesterday they were afraid to speak. May I say now that they paid me the compliment, in my unavoidable absence, of waiting till I was present. There can be no doubt that we have to face the situation as it is presented to us, and so far as I am concerned I intend to do so. I have been in this House now for over seventeen years, and no man has yet been in a position to say that I have ever been afraid to take the consequences of any vote I have given. And I challenge any member of this House to say that I ever voted against what I thought to be right, even upon a question submitted by the Government of which I was a supporter. I candidly confess I cannot understand the tone of some of the speeches that were delivered yesterday by members of the Opposition. So far as I can gather, they constitute a direct attack upon the Country party.
-Well, give them one back now.
– I recognise exactly where we stand. A member of my party said to me one day - “ Make no mistake about this. Outside the door of this party room the Country party has no friends on either side.” And we have not. So far as concerns the interests which we are here to represent, we have nothing to thank either side for.
– Did not the same vote return you to this Parliament as to the previous Parliament?
– There is sucha thing as the secrecy of the ballot box. If it is any consolation to the honorable member, I can tell him that some of the men. who supported me strongly at former elections opposed me last time.
– Very few.
– I have always opposed the operations of rings, trusts, and combines, and at the last election I had to fight the full strength of this influence in Hobart and in my own division.
But on a censure motion I realize that there is no half way house. A man must either vote for, or against, a Government; he must express either his. confidence or his want of confidence in the Government. When we realize that the interests which we stand for have not the representation in this. House that they are entitled to by their numbers outside or their importance, we must regret the tone of the debate. The speech made by the honorable member who preceded me was. a direct attack upon my party, and everything for which my party stands. I am compelled, therefore, to ask myself if the honorable member who tabled the motion really desired the Country party to vote for it or not. If honorable members opposite desire the support of the Country party, then all I can say is that they have a most extraordinary manner of dissembling their love, because the speeches give one the impression that their object is to compel members of the Country party to vote against the motion.
– No one can say that I said a word against the Country party.
– But nothing that has been said will make me swerve in the faintest degree from the course I have marked out for myself. It matters not to me if every member on this side and every member on the other side, makes a direct attack on those interests which we are chiefly here to. represent, along with all other interests in Australia.
-Consider the motion on its merits.
– There is something a great deal more to be considered than the motion on its merits. I am prepared to accept the responsibility attaching to the vote which I shall give, as must every man who votes on the motion’. We have to accept the full and complete responsibility for attempting either to put the Government out of office, or for expressing our confidence in the Government. There are times when a man can take a middle course, but when it comes to a direct issue, and the fate of a Government is concerned, no member can salve his conscience, but must take, as I say, full and complete responsibility for either removing the Government from office or keeping it in office, thus accepting the policy that it has followed up to the present. That is the position as I recognise it, and that is the attitude which I intend to take.
May I say herethat the party of which I have the honour to be leader, do not approach these matters upon cast-iron principles. Every member of this party is absolutely free to vote on this or any other motion exactly as his conscience dictates, and the same liberty which I allow to every follower, every follower allows to every other member of the party. The policy which some of our friends opposite have enunciated is diametrically opposed to every principle which the Country party upholds . The policy enunciated, especially by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Catts), is that there must be a regulation of prices of primary production so far as the consumer is affected. Overseas, producers mayget as much as they can for their produce, but here the prices must be regulated to suittheconsumer.
– Based on a fair deal to the producer.
– Who is to make the fair deal?
– We can devise machinery.
– The time has gone by whenevery worker in the cities and suburbs is to be permitted to have the full and fairresults of his labour, while the producer in the country is to be sweated - sweated in order to give cheapnessto men to whom cheapness is a curse in every other direction. I have no sympathy with a man who demandsthe highest price he can get for his labour, and, at the same time, is prepared to sweat the producer in the case of everything he has to sell. Iwarn honorable members on both sides that the man on the land is at last beginning to realize that an eight-hours system in the city is no good to him if he himself has to work ten ortwelve hours and have his products sweated to the cheapest possible price. Cheapness has been a god so far as primary production is concerned, but anathema to people engaged in every other industry. The day for that, however, is gone. The primary producers, in the matters to which I am referring, have in the past had nothing to thank nay honorable friends opposite for, and, perhaps, have had quite as little to thank honorable members on this side for. We accent the position in which we find’ ourselves, and are prepared to plough our own furrow. So far as I am concerned, I shall vote for any motion - I care not where it comes from - so long as I believe in it. As honorable members know, I have - perhaps to my own personal disadvantage - taken that attitude on more than one occasion in this House. I have never been able to accept, and certainly I have never preached, that a motion is right if it comes from one man, and wrong if it comes from another; a principle is either right or it is wrong.
While I am entirely opposed to the attitude and speeches of honorable members opposite, I recognise that the Government have absolutely failed in dealing with the finances of the country. I am reiterating what I have said over and over again in this House for years past when I say that we are indulging in a carnival of financial folly -indulging in a “boom, borrow, and burst “ policy. Never in the history of Australiahave the finances of the country been in the same deplorable condition. I am not going to exaggerate, because at a time like this one hasto be exceedingly cautious in what one says ; but it iseverywhere known that representatives of the Victorian Government went Home and failed to borrow ; that the representative of the Queensland Government is Home to-day and failing to borrow; and that the representative of the Federal Government went Home, and certainly did notsucceed. As to the merits of the case in which the exTreasurer (Mr. Watt) is involved, I am not going to say one word. The attitude I took at the time of that gentleman’s resignation is, I think, the right one. We have heard one side of the case, and before I pass a verdict I intend to hear the case of the man who is absent. I am not prepared to debate that question at all. When the ex-Treasurer comeshome, and makes his statement, willbe thetime for me, atany rate, to give my verdict. We cansay, however, that the representatives of the Government who have been Home during the last month or two endeavouring to borrow, have all failed. It is not too much to say that the finances of the Commonwealth to-day are in a decidedly unsatisfactory condition, and that there’ is not the slightest attempt to curtail expenditure.
– Will the honorable gentleman complete his statement and say that we are borrowing at lower rates than the British Government are able to do at Home now?
– We are borrowing money in Australia, and we cannot give this country too much credit for the way in which the financial people here have met their responsibilities in this connexion. If anybody had said ten years ago that the Government could borrow £150,000,000 in Australia at the current rate of interest, the statement, would have been ridiculed. Nevertheless that has been done. We know, too, that the investment of the moneys which have been loaned to the Government had a very serious effect in preventing expenditure where it was urgently needed, especially in the direction of establishing newindustries and in opening up the country in the way that it ought to be opened up.
– That also is a matter of universal application.
– Of all the Dominions, Australia alone made no effort during the war period to secure a reduction in her ordinary expenditure. During the war we were willing to overlook expenditure which at any other time would have been subjected to searching criticism, because we recognised that we were sailing on an uncharted sea. Instead, therefore, of our’ ordinary expenditure being curtailed’, year by year it has been steadily increased. But we have now reached a time when, no matter who may be charged with the government of the Commonwealth, there must be either a substantial increase in our revenue or a decided reduction in our expenditure or both. May I point out some of the directions in which our revenue is being increased to the serious detriment of industries in the various States? Only the day before yesterday I received from the Treasurer of Tasmania (Sir Elliott Lewis) figures which show that, between the 25th March last and the date I have mentioned, the sum of £5,500 has been paid in duty upon machinery that has been imported into that State by the Hydro-Electric Company - a State enterprise - although that machinery could not be obtained in Australia. But the most serious aspect of the matter is that, during the next twelve or eighteen months, the duty payable upon materials to be imported will be approximately £125,000. I ask honorable members to seriously consider the position. Here is a State which, at very considerable expenditure and risk, has undertaken the generation of electric power, which is being availed of by all parts of Australia. Refractory ores from Broken Hill are being treated by this State enterprise in Tasmania. The works which have been established there will permit of the treatment of millions of tons of low-grade refractory ores which it was quite ‘ impossible to treat previously. Yet, that State will be called upon to pay to the Commonwealth, by way of duty alone, the sum of £140,000 or £150,000. Further, this money will have to be borrowed by the State of Tasmania. I care not what views honorable members may bold as to the desirableness of encouraging local industries-
– What class of machinery is being installed at the works in Tasmania ?
– Hydro-electric. Every effort has been made to secure in Australia every pound’s worth of machinery that can be obtained here. When, therefore, Tasmania is asked to pay £150,000 by way of duty in two years upon a State enterprise which will enable thousands of men to be employed in the reduction of refractory ores, it is time that the matter was considered seriously.
– The New South Wales Government have exactly the same complaint in regard to that machinery.
– Did not Tasmania get £900,000 from the. Commonwealth?
– What is the use of giving that State £90,000 a year, if we take £100,000 a year out of its exchequer? Surely it is not the function of the Commonwealth to bleed a State enterprise in this way. I do not intend to occupy the time of the House any longer. I have endeavoured to make my position absolutely clear. I am not asked to say whether I support the proposals which have been brought forward, or whether I indorse, or disapprove of, the speeches which may be made from either side of the chamber. The vote which I shall cast when the division upon this motion is taken will be one in regard to which . I shall have to accept the responsibility either of indorsing the policy of the Government, and of continuing them in office, or of displacing them. I am prepared to face that position, and to accept my full and complete responsibility.
.- I did not intend to address myself to this motion. After the terms of the censure proposal had been committed to paper, I hardly thought it was necessary to insist too much upon the obvious, namely, that the Government are unworthy of the confidence of this House. The terms of the motion are, I think, sufficiently wide to enable me to refer to a public scandal which has arisen, and to an agitation which has ‘been fomented and promoted by the Government in connexion with the proposed deportation of the Reverend Father Jerger.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member not to deal with that matter, which is already sub judice. Reference to it has previously been ruled out of order.
– The case was decided by the Court this morning.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. I was not aware of that.
– The matter was disposed of for the time being this morning, and I take this, the earliest opportunity, of referring to the position in which Father Jerger stands in regard to his defence. Some time ago the Government determined to send that reverendgentleman out of this country, in which he has lived an honorable, and even a distinguished life, for more than forty years. When that determination became known it was not unnatural that great public indignation should be aroused, and that a request, which had been made more than once, should be repeated - a request that he should receive at least the bare measure of justice that is involved in a public trial. That request was refused. Indignation naturally became more inflamed, and the demand was made that further inquiry should be made into this case. The Government, feeling the pressure of public opinion, and having the knowledge of the approach of a general election, were graciously pleased to send one of their own officers for the purpose of holding an inquiry in camera. No charge was then made against Father Jerger, but there appeared before Sir Robert Garran, who was detailed for this duty, learned counsel in the person of the present member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), who was refused a hearing, although he was graciously permitted to remain in the room while the inquiry was conducted. I am informed, and I know for a fact, that no evidence was adduced before this gentleman reflecting upon the character or the loyalty of the person in question. On the contrary, the whole of the evidence that was adduced went to show that he was a man of high character and unimpeachable loyalty. Notwithstanding that fact, this representative of the Government, standing in the shoes of the Government, and having the responsibility of pleasing and satisfying them, was not able to recommend that any departure should be made from the expressed determination of the Government to send this reverend gentleman out of the country without a trial. So the Government threw out its chest and informed the general public that an inquiry had taken place, and it was not proposed to alter the decision arrived at. A movement was immediately made to invoke the aid of the Courts of this country,, and then began a series of probably the most discreditable acts that have ever been perpetrated by a Government in a responsible community. This reverend gentleman, who was in Sydney, and who had the right that every Britisher is assumed to have of instructing his advisers as to his defence, was denied accessto his advisers. He was not permitted to have communication of any kind whatever with them, and when this Government knew that application was being made to the Courts, they immediately and unceremoniously packed this gentleman off and “ shanghaied “ him out of New South Wales into Victoria, for the purpose of avoiding the position which gave the Courts of New South Wales jurisdiction to deal with the case. That in itself was a most discreditable act; it was most indecent, and every man who sits behind the Government is a party to that action. Let me inform some honorable members supporting the Government that they should find it exceedingly hard to satisfy their own consciences, much less their constituents, in regard to the action of their leaders in this matter. Father Jerger was sent to Victoria.
His friends knew that he had arrived here. ‘ They knew he was taken in a closed conveyance to the Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, and they immediately went there to see him. They were informed, if you please, by the officer in charge, that he had again been taken away in a closed vehicle to some unknown destination. I, as his solicitor, placed myself in communication with the State Commandant (General Brand) who shuffled and sought delay, and to do him justice, seemed to be ashamed of the position in which he was placed. I am prepared to give the State Commandant credit for that. On the following morning we ascertained that Father Jerger had been taken to Queenscliff so hurriedly that provision had not been made for his detention there. The Government thought that they could hide the body. We made application to a Judge of the High Court, and embarrassed the Government, who in their ignorance, were not aware that we could invoke the aid of the High Court to deal with the matter, When this matter came before the High Court, Mr. Justice Starke said the matter was of grave importance, and that the person concerned, like every other citizen - and I ask no more for him than I would for the meanest citizen of this country - had the right to invoke the aid of the Court up to the last minute, as long as he was a resident in the country. What happened ? An order nisi was granted calling upon the Government to show cause the following day why a writ of capias should not be issued, and reasons given for his detention. A representative of the Government appeared, and when Mr. Justice Starke suggested that this matter might go to the Full . Court, if there was not some grave public reason for its immediate determination, counsel for the Government rose and objected on the grounds, as he alleged, that there was public danger in postponing the matter any longer. It was a deliberate lie put into the mouth of learned counsel by the Government, and the Judge was deceived. What is the present position? The case was postponed again until this morning to enable the Government to state their position. The Government took the responsibility of saying that they were afraid of grave public disturbances and outbreaks if this reverend gentleman was not immediately deported. There has been no outbreak or disturbance of any kind, except that arising from the fact that the Government have flouted the laws of the country and outraged the spirit and traditions of justice that should, but which does not, exist. The Judge was driven,- bound as he was, to accept the statement of a responsible Minister of the Crown, if one can call him responsible, to give a decision there and then, and dismissed that application. It is not proposed to allow the matter to rest where it now is; it has reached this stage- -__
– What are you doing now?
– Are you frightened?
– I have no reason to be afraid.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) to sit down and not interrupt.
– Order !
– It would take a million men like the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) to frighten me.
– The Minister for the Navy ran away from a woman yesterday.
– I have risen to a point of order. On the honorable member’s own statement, just made, this ease is still sub judice. “ The matter is not to be allowed to rest there,’’ he says, and I understand that notice of appeal has been given. If that is so, the matter is sui judice, and the honorable member is out of order in referring to it.
– I think that,” if the facts are .as stated by the Minister, the case is certainly sub judice, but I have no actual knowledge whether it is so or not.
– I ought to know as much about the case as the Minister does.
– I understand that the honorable member had something to do with the case, and perhaps he can give the assurance to the House that it is not still sub judice. If. the case has not been finally dealt with, I think that it must be regarded as sub judice, and under the circumstances the honorable member will not be in order in proceeding to refer to it further.
-i have said, and I take the responsibility for the statement, that the matter is not to be allowed to rest where it is. Apart from that statement, I decline to give any assurance to the House, or to you, Mr. Speaker, as to what will be done.
– In that case, and until I have some more definite assurance that the matter is not still sub judice, I must ask the honorable member not to discuss it further.
– I submit that there has not been any evidence brought before you as to the position of the matter beyond my deliberate statement that the case was disposed of this morning. In my speech I stated, as I was entitled to do, that we do not propose to allow the case to rest where it is. The course of action taken may be one which will put it again sub judice, and enable you to exercise your right, as Speaker, to prevent mo from ventilating further this public scandal. But I submit that, at present, there is not a tittle of evidence before you that the case is sub judice, and, on the contrary, you have my statement that it was disposed of this morning.
– I remind the honorable member that he indicated quite a different position. I . have knowledge that the case was sub judice, and I have no information of an authoritative character that the position has been changed. In the face of what the honorable member has said, I must, until I have authoritative information to the contrary, conclude that the case is still sub judice.
– It was dismissed this morning.
– The intention to appeal was indicated in Court this morning.
– Do I understand, sir, that in the face of the facts that I have told you, that the case was disposed of this morning, and that you have no other evidence regarding it, you refuse to allowme to discuss it further?
– The honorable member will recollect that he distinctly said that the case was not finally concluded, that the matter was not to be allowed to rest where it is. That was tantamount to saying that the case has not been finally dealt with by the Court, and is still to be determined. A legal member of the Government has also just stated that the intention to appeal was indicated in Court this morning. Under these circumstances, I have no option but to rule that if the matter is still in abeyance and sub judice, which, as far as I can learn, it is, the honorable member cannot discuss it further.
– I was not referring to the Court when I said that the matter was not to rest where it is.
– The honorable member’s counsel indicated this morning his intention to appeal.
– Why should these gossips be allowed to interject?
– I ask that that expression be withdrawn.
– As the honorable member’s remark is regarded as offensive, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. Last night, the Reverend Father Jerger was taken to Adelaide.
– I have ruled that, under the circumstances, the honorable member cannot proceed with his remarks on this case. If he desires to dissent from my ruling, he must give notice of his intention in writing.
– May I raise a point of order ?
– If the honorable member has a new point to submit. He may not traverse my decision.
– Do I understand you to rule, Mr. Speaker, that no member may refer to this case because a notice of appeal has been given regarding it, and it is, therefore, sub judice? Assuming that to be so-
– I cannot allow this discussion to proceed further.
– You have not allowed me to state my point of order. I am going to state it.
– The honorable member is raising a point that has already been settled.
– I am not doing that. You will not let me speak.
– You have no right to stick by your party in this matter. This is not a party matter.
– He does not want to hear the truth.
– Under the Standing Orders, the honorable member can move to dissent from my ruling only on giving notice in writing.
– You misunderstood me.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the statement of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), which was a deliberate insult to you. He said that you had no right to stick to your party in this matter.
– I withdraw it. I do everything that is required by the Standing Orders.
– I think, Mr. Speaker, that you misunderstood the point that I raised. I wish to ascertain from you what your ruling was; I am not attempting to traverse that ruling. I understood you to rule that this case cannot be referred to because it is sub judice. The question I raise is, “What is covered by the term sub judice?” The only point in this case, so far as it has been discussed before the High Court of Australia, and so far as it is involved in any appeal, is, Have the Government, now that it is contended the war is over, power to deport the reverend gentleman who has been mentioned? The honorable member for Batman was not diseasing that point. He was not discussing the Government’s power, but their abuse of power, assuming that that power exists. He is, therefore, discussing the case on the assumption that the decision of the High Court as it now stands is correct. I submit that if he discusses it on that assumption, his remarks are in order, because they cannot be taken to refer to any matter that is sub judice.
– If the case is being carried further, the decision I have given stands. I have nothing to add.
– Then I shall leave that aspect of the case alone for the present. But it is important to remember that this Government has denied the spiritual adviser of this reverend gentleman, his own confessor, the right to attend him. It has denied to his legal adviser the right to do so.
– The honorable member is still discussing a matter that I have ruled out of order.
– I apprehend that your ruling, such as it is, and much as I disagree with it, does not go the length of preventing my protesting against the Government prohibiting this reverend gentleman’s confessor from approaching him, and prohibiting his legal advisers from doing so.
– The case, if it is still the subject of legal proceedings, may not be discussed at all, and unless the honorable gentleman is prepared to obey the ruling of the Chair in regard to it, I must direct him to resume his seat.
– It would be an outrageous thing if I might not mention this reverend gentleman at all. It would be an outrageous thing-
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? The honorable member is distinctly trying to go behind my ruling, and I cannot permit him to do that. The House is deliberately flouted when an honorable member, in defiance of the ruling of the Speaker, who has ordered him to discontinue certain remarks, proceeds further in the same strain, and if necessary I must ask thu House to take what action it thinks fit to enforce my authority.
– It would be an outrageous thing - that was as far as I had got when you interrupted me, Mr. Speaker - if it should happen that persons who under this misused regulation were subject to deportation, could be spirited away, hidden in a fortress, taken from State to State, denied access to their legal advisers, and denied the consolations of their spiritual attendants. I believe, from my experience and knowledge of the recent conduct of these Ministers, that they are quite equal to closing the door upon the minister of religion who was seeking to give spiritual consolation to a person in their hands.
– I must direct the honorable member to discontinue his speech unless he will leave this subject. He is again trying to go behind my ruling, and I cannot allow him to so disregard the rules of procedure governing the conduct of debates in this Chamber.
– I do not know whether, in connexion with any of the persons who have been deported from this country hitherto, and they have been many, there has been a case such as came within my knowledge recently, in which a man was denied the right to see his spiritual adviser. I should very much like to know that. In the light of what we have recently learned, I am quite prepared to believe that the Government would do that, and I have risen to make my protest against such conduct. I rose for that purpose only.
– -The honorable member must resume his seat. I direct him to do so.
– I am very glad. I was quite determined that you should take the responsibility. You have taken sides in the matter, and you can go your own way.
– I call upon the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) to speak.
– You have fought your battle well, and you have done your work.
– It must be perfectly plain to honorable members -
– That you are on the’ Government side. ‘ . . . ;;
– That no presiding officer could carry on his duties if the House were to countenance this flouting of its authority. I therefore name tho honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and I call on the Leader of the Government to take the action necessary to protect the Chair.
– The Leader of the Government is afraid to come in.
– I regret that this unpleasant duty has fallen to me.
– The honorable gentleman is the whole cause of it.
– Amidst the taunts and jibes of honorable members opposite, I wish to say ‘that I regret the occurrence altogether.
– The honorable gentleman has no right to make a speech on this matter.
– No; I have not. I have only one duty to perform, and there is only one course which honorable members opposite will take care that I shall follow, and that is to move, as I do -
That the honorable member for Batman (Mr. -Brennan) be suspended from the sitting of the House. _ . ‘ ‘
A division having been called for, and the bells having been rung,
– Before putting the question to the House, I give the honorable member for Batman an opportunity, if he so desires, to apologize to the House. I desire no apology to myself; his personal remarks, offensive as they are, do not hurt me, as I am doing only what is right, just and fair, but it is the House that has been flouted by the honorable member. It is possible that, after time for a little reflection, the honorable member may realize that his course of action was not correct, and I therefore give him the opportunity at the present time, if he so desires, to apologize to the House.
– I do not require time for reflection. I am quite ready to express regret. Is that what is needed ?
– I do express regret.
– In that case, I take it that the Minister for the Navy will withdraw his motion.
– I am very pleased to do so.
– With the consent of the House, the motion is withdrawn.
.- In addressing myself to the House on the motion now before it, there are various matters to which I wish to refer. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), in his reply to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), said that he saw no grounds for this censure motion. He claimed that the whole matter was futile, or something of the sort. I think that as the debate .has proceeded light has been thrown on many matters, and we are all now fully convinced that there are serious grounds, and good reasons, why this censure motion should be launched, and the Government should be told that they no longer have the confidence of the House to transact its business.
Before dealing with the more serious features of the situation, I wish to make a reference to the conduct of one of the great Departments of the Commonwealth, namely, the Post and Telegraph Department. Honorable members may recollect that, in the course of a debate on a similar motion tabled earlier in the session, the Post and Telegraph Department came in for a’ fair amount of criticism. We then received the assurance of the PostmasterGeneral that many of the grievances complained of, and many of the patent injustices for which the Department was responsible, would be rectified. I was at the time less familiar with the proceedings of this House, and the management of a Government Department, than I am today, and I accepted the assurances of the honorable gentleman. I have little city experience of the work of this Department beyond some knowledge of the irritation caused by delays in making telephone connexions ; but, on the strength of the assurances given, I assumed that many of the inconveniences and difficulties suffered by country people because of the lack of postal and telephonic facilities, would be remedied. It is on behalf of isolated centres in the country that I wish to say a word to-day. Many instances could be quoted of applications made for telephone facilities in country districts in connexion with which the assurance has been given that the requests made would be complied with as soon as possible. I must have addressed some fifty requests to the head of the Post and Telegraph Department in New South Wales from people asking for telephonic communication, and the reply has always been that, as there would be so much loss on the operation of the lines asked for, they could not be granted. The people of one small town in my electorate, Bundanoon, have been incensed by the way in which their requests for telephonic facilities have been ignored . The neglect of the authorities is bringing one of the great Departments of the Commonwealth into disrepute. From what I can gather, very little effort is made to allay this public discontent. The postal facilities of the place have been curtailed, and the action of the Department in this connexion has been protested against because, although the town is small, it is growing, and the restriction of postal and telephonic facilities tends to retard its progress. I have been trying for the last two months to induce the Department to do something, but I have not succeeded. The following letter will inform honorable members of the character of the complaints that reach me -
I have to state, that the new arrangements seriously curtail our postal conveniences. Each day the post office is closed for one hour, and all Wednesday afternoon, the mails on that day being made up at 1 o’clock - a most inconvenient hour. Further, a telephone service was installed about two years ago. Thirteen subscribers are installed, four or five others are waiting to be connected, and several others have applied for the ‘phone. Now all these accepted the service as we hare it at the present time, that is, six days a week. Now the Department are cutting this down to five days, and this we consider a serious breach of faith. For, had the Department made known their intention earlier, several of those who have made application for the phone would not have done so. Bundanoon is progressing, and we consider this serious curtailment of our postal conveniences against the interests of our town.
I leave the matter at that for the moment with my protest on behalf of the people of this town, and also on behalf of ten or fifteen similar applications I have had from country centres in my electorate, Where the people are isolated, and are doing- their best to promote rural development. The Post and Telegraph Department treats these people in the most callous manner, and does nothing for them at all.
I have, further, been inundated with complaints from mail contractors throughout my electorate, because of the way in which they are treated. They claim that when they entered into their contracts things were fairly prosperous, and there was no indication of the unsatisfactory seasons that have since followed. They have been applying to the Post and Telegraph Department for some recognition of the serious handicaps under which they have been carrying on their contracts, but they can obtain no satisfaction. They all get the same reply, “ Your letter to hand. The matter is being considered,” and there it ends. These men, who are carrying the mails throughout my electorate, are doing a national work. In enabling a Commonwealth utility to perform its legitimate function they are making conditions a little better for those who settle in remote districts and promote rural development. 1 am disappointed, not to say disgusted, that the promises made in connexion with these matters have so far been unfulfilled.
The Prime Minister stated that, although everything said by the Leader of
To a morning paper we are indebted for a touching picture of fraternal affection between politicians. “ On Friday, in the House of Representatives, Mr. Hughes and Mr. Higgs were seated side by side on one of the benches, Mr. Hughes having his arm round Mr. Higgs’ neck and whispering into his ear.”
We read on, softened by this little idyll, and find at the bottom of the column - “McGrath (Labour) .. 13,326
Mr. Hughes was wooing his majority.
This is what I wish especially to direct the attention of honorable members to -
Why does Mr. McGrath (Labour) exhibit a majority of 3,000 votes over Mr. Kerby (Nationalist) ? It is not because Mr. Kerby helped himself to £400 a year. The salary grab played a small part in the election, for the anti-salary grab candidate, Mr. Troup, with the aid ofthe farmers’ vote, polled negligibly. It is not that the woes of Ireland played any great part, for the inhabitants of Ballarat are three-fourths Protestant, and Mr. Hughes’ raising of the sectarian bogy certainly did not have much effect either way - except that the insincerity of this move probably disgusted a few of his own supporters in Ballarat. The reason is that the people of Ballarat, and of Victoria and of Australia, are getting very tired of the dictatorship of Mr. Hughes, of his “ dominating personality,” and his War Precautions Act, and his clumsy handling of the Watt episode, and his unpublished wool reports. There is a powerful feeling growing in Australia that it is high time the country got back to parliamentary government. Ballarat is the “Mene Tekel” upon the walls of the banquet hall of Belshazzar Hughes and his Nationalist courtiers. The party has still a chance of survival; but it will not survive if it is going to constitute the applauding court of Babylon. It must bring Belshazzar to reason, and the trouble appears to be that not one man of the Cabinet has the necessary force, now that Mr. Watt has been driven out.
The article continues -
Holmanism, which was also modelled upon the Belshazzar idea of personal government, wrecked the hopes of the National party in
I make this quotation merely to show that there are others besides the Labour party who seriously believe that there are grave reasons for this censure motion.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) returned last night to his referendum joke, and taunted the Leader of our party with having repeated former statements made by him on the subject. I propose very briefly to refer to the principles of the referendum taken at the last general election. The Prime Minister distinctly stated that the proposed amendments of the Constitution then put before the electors were practically the same as those which the Labour party had on prior occasions submitted. The curious fact is that every force and influence that opposed those proposals when they were submitted by the Labour Government professed a readiness to support them on this occasion. It is very necessary in the circumstances to ask the reason for the change of front. Honorable members opposite will admit that, when the Prime Minister first submitted to his party his proposed amendments of the Constitution, they met with a very luke-warm reception. The daily newspapers published articles which were anything but vigorous in their support of them, and the big vested interests of the country quickly began to show that they would oppose them. Something had to be done, and done quickly, to secure unity on the part of the Nationalist party. Conflicting interests had to be reconciled, and consequently the Prime Minister lost no time in announcing that certain reservations were to he made. He began by addressing a meeting of the inner circle of the profiteers in this city - the very people who, if the referendum proposals were carried, were to be dealt with. The meeting was held behind closed doors, the star-chamber tactics adopted being much like those associated with many other undertakings on the part of this Government. I dare say that soldiers in uniform were posted outside the meeting room to take care that no listening ear was at the keyhole. No sooner had the meeting been held than the Chamber of Commerce publicly announced that, having heard the Prime Minister, it had decided to support the referendum proposals of his Government, since they recognised that they would be circumscribed and altogether of a very restricted character. Even that, however, was not sufficient to secure unity among the Natonalists. More remained to be done, and so other reservations were made. Finally, we had the reservation, which destroyed the proposals completely, so far as we were concerned, that, even if the projected amendments of the Constitution were accepted by the people, they would lapse unless a Convention to make recommendations in regard to the Constitution as a whole was called before the end of the present year. That Convention could make recommendations which would have stultified the decision of the people, and the Prime Minister announced that, unless . it was called before the end of ,1920, the proposed amendments, even if carried by the people, would become null and void. Having regard to our experience of the Prime Minister’s political tactics - knowing, as we did, that he was prepared to jump from one party to another; that he would make definite statements to-day and qualify them, or almost deny them, to-morrow - we rightly said that we could not associate ourselves with any proposal of the kind, and that we would not support the referendum. Having regard to the desperate methods to which the Prime Minister had resorted - to the reservations and restrictions which he proposed with the object of placating members of his own party and his capitalistic supporters outside - we took the stand that the people should be advised to reject the Government’s proposals.
– I do not know why they voted for them. That, however, has nothing to do with the question.
– Does the honorable member think it has no bearing upon. the question ?
– I do. A laugh is very often the argument of an empty head. The reservations of which I have complained had not been made when this House was asked to vote on the Bill to amend the Constitution.
– They had” been made. The Bills as passed by the Parliament were put before the people.
– At that time all the reservations of which I complain had not been made, and the Prime Minister had not been touring the country for two or three weeks making conflicting statements on the subject.
I propose now to deal with the questions of industrial unrest and the high cost of living. I group these two subjects, under the one heading since they must go hand in hand. While the cost of living continues to increase, and the position of the wage-earner becomes worse and worse - while the burdens to be borne by him become heavier and heavier every day - industrial unrest must increase in volume. That cannot be denied. It is the experience of the world to-day. Prior to the phenomenal increase in the cost of living the worker was more contented, and industrial conditions were far better than they are at present. The great mass of the people, whether they are employed in offices, in factories or in country fields, depend for their living upon the wages they earn. I care not what Mr. Knibbs or any other authority may say; my own practical experience is such that it is useless to tell me that the cost of living has increased by only 60 per cent., and that wages at the same time have increased to the extent of 30 per cent, or 40 per cent. If wages have increased to the extent of 30 per cent, or 40 per cent - and we can measure the exact increase in wages - the cost of living has gone up by nearly 200 per cent. Week after week the wages brought home by the worker grow less and less capable of purchasing the bare necessities of ordinary civilized conditions of life. While that state of affairs prevails, and the Government do nothing to alter it, we must expect to have industrial unrest. In such circumstances the industrial upheaval will go on and on until finally it bursts forth into the inevitable revolution. As I have said before in this House, even a worm on the ground, when hungry, will fight. Will a man do less ? The Government may go on until Doomsday creating Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts. I have nothing to say against such tribunals, but while the Government allow them to determine the rates of wages to be paid, and at the same time permit the capitalistic class and the profiteers to go on raising the cost of living, such lop-sided economics must necessarily result in unrest and discontent, and I am afraid that they will result eventually in revolution in this and every other country.
I am not going to enter into a controversy to-day regarding the power of the Commonwealth Government to deal with profiteering. I have given much study to the problem, and followed the controversy relating to it long before I entered this House. I am not a lawyer, and am not going to give a legal opinion “ off my own bat,” but I have heard many opinions on the subject. The Prime Minister says, in effect, “ It is useless to talk about this matter. I tell you that we have no power to deal with profiteering. I have spoken, and that is an end to the question.” On any question of law, I would sooner have one opinion from the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) than 5,000 from the Prime Minister. The honorable member for West Sydney claims that the Parliament can deal with profiteering, and until his opinion is proved to be wrong I shall accept it. Having regard to their respective records as lawyers, I prefer the opinion of the honorable member to that of the Prime Minister. This Government has failed, and failed miserably, to deal with the problems of industrial unrest and the high cost of living. If they fail to deal with one they fail to deal with both, since the two must go hand in hand. If the Government make no attempt to discover the bed-rock causes - if they are content to deal only with effects and to go on talking about Arbitration Courts - the whole matter will ultimately betaken out of their hands and the problem solved for them by some one else.
– How would the honorable member deal with it?
– We have told the Government how to deal with profiteering. If they will only bring down the cost of living and leave wages where they are we shall have the workers as contented as they were before the war. The honorable member for West Sydney has a reputation as a constitutional lawyer, and I accept his opinion as to the powers of the Government in preference to that of the Prime Minister, whose only reputation as a lawyer is one of failure in respect of practically every legal opinion given by him.
Another matter with which I propose to deal is the failure of the Government to carry out its pledge to our returned soldiers. I believe that, with the exception of a very few cases, the Government have failed dismally to fulfil their promises to the returned soldiers, and they have failed equally in their treatment of the repatriation problem from beginning to end. I shall give one or two cases. My opinion is based upon them, and hundreds more like them that I could produce. The Repatriation Department extended the privilege to returned men of receiving, after they were discharged, a £10 allowance for tools of trade, in order to enable them to make a start in their old avocations. Much of this sort of arrangement was done by regulation, and not much publicity was given to it. It was not like an Act of Parliament, such as the War Gratuity Act which was debated here for a week, the speeches being reported in the newspapers. These regulations, I understand, are part and parcel of the machinery of administration, and hence a large number of returned men never knew that the £10 allowance was available. I had a letter from two men yesterday, stating that when they found they were entitled to the allowance for tools, they applied for it; but the Minister for Repatriation informed them that he had made a regulation requiring them to apply within six months of their discharge, and that, as they had not applied within that time, they had forfeited their claim. To me, that sort of thing is an absolute scandal. When the regulation was made granting the £10 allowance, every man who went away to fight for his country was entitled to that allowance, amongst other things : I care not whether he was discharged two months or two years before he applied for it. If he was entitled to it six months ago, he is entitled to it to-day. A number of returned men did not apply for it, simply through ignorance. When some of them came back, they were not in good health, even if they were not wounded, and they wanted a rest. Many of them stayed for varying periods with different relatives, and the six months slipped by before they actually went back to work. Surely they were entitled to six months’ holiday after what they went through; but the Repatriation Department has deliberately turned down these cases, one after the other, while those who were “ in the know “ drew the £10 allowance.
As regards war pensions, I have received a letter from Mrs. Pearce, of Yass-street, Young, who tells me that her son was reported missing in August, 1915, and payment of her military allowance ceased on the 5th January, 1916. Through ignorance of the pension provisions, and thinking that her son might still turn up, she did not apply for a pension until the 16th October, 1919. and it was granted from that date. She was afterwards told that she ought to have received the pension from the day the military allowance stopped, and of course she would have done so had she applied for it at once. Still, honorable members can imagine the mother hoping and praying that the son who was reported lost would turn up. She did not apply for the pension until later, and she was then told by the Pensions Department that as an act of grace they would give her six months of the back pay, and she got no more. Fancy the mother of an Australian soldier, as an act of grace, receiving only six months of pension money to which she should have been held to be entitled for at least eighteen months! The Repatriation Department, or the military authorities, whoever are responsible; ought to pay the full pension to that woman, and to every other woman similarly situated. That is the way some of the war expenditure, and some of our obligations for past services, are being evaded. The machinery of administration is being used to turn these cases down, in the hope, I suppose, that a little more money will be available for the manufacture of guns and military equipment’ for some future war, in which others may be maimed and knocked out, and afterwards treated as many people are being treated to-day. A similar policy, for which the Government are wholly and solely responsible, is being pursued with regard to the old-age and invalid pensions. These should be liberalized.
I come now to the burning question with the Corner party - the position of the farmers. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. McWilliams) said that the farmers never received any consideration from this side of the House, and not much from the other side. I agree with him that they never got much from the Ministerial side, although they have supported that side for a very long time; but the farmers of Werriwa are quite satisfied that I represent them just as well and effectively as the honorable member for Franklin or any other member who sits in the Ministerial Corner, and that I understand their conditions and the disadvantages under which they labour just as well as any member of the Country party does. I understand that some of the members of the Country party have expressed some resentment against an agitation, for which we are supposed to be responsible, for the placing of an embargo on the export of wheat for the present. I wish to emphasize those words - “ for the present.” We are not so stupid as to want an embargo on wheat export for all time. There is a great deal of difference between an embargo for the present time and an embargo as a fixed policy. All the shire councillors and municipal councillors in my electorate, as the Prime Minister should know, for I have sent their letters on to him, have written to him, through me, urging the Commonwealth Government to prohibit any further exportation of wheat from Australia until they find out how they stand at the present time. Two-thirds of the members of those councils in my electorate are farmers.
– Did those men sell their own wheat?
– I do not know whether they did or not; but there are not many small farmers who have any wheat, or any wheat scrip. The big farmers, and some of those wealthy mcn who sit with the Country party, may have hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of wheat scrip, for all I know; but the share fanner, and the small farmer, does not hold much of it, and is getting no benefit from any rise or profit that is being made out of it. The farmers of New South Wales, and, in fact, of the whole of Australia, are not opposed to an embargo on the export of wheat at the present moment, while the Government fail to make a statement to prove that we have sufficient wheat left here.
I have touched previously on the position of the primary producer. We have had a very serious drought, and I believe there is a scheme in progress to-day which will prove a great blessing in conserving water; but in the last two months sufficient water has fallen in the Commonwealth to have justified vigorous efforts at conservation. What was wanted was a Government big and bold enough to take on big undertakings while the drought was on. It is of no use to start to dam the waters now that they have rolled away to the ocean. If the present Government had been bold enough to undertake big construction works for the benefit of the primary producers, I could understand the primaryproducers sticking to them when a motion of censure was being moved upon them. I, for one, would not have opposed such a policy.
– Good work is being done on the Murray.
– That is so; but how long has it taken ? The Murray does not represent the whole of Australia. I want that work on the Murray to continue, but little weirs could be dotted throughout every State in the Commonwealth, at not too much expense, and water conserved everywhere, instead of in one particular area.
– Do not you think the State Governments could do that?
– The State Governments may be ableto do something, but these are undertakings which in their nature are far better controlled by a National Parliament.
– You had better give us more power first.
– For heaven’s sake stop that squeal about wanting more power. The Government have newer yet tested what power they have, except the power to deport men without trial, or to shanghai men into gaol for waving the red flag, and to oppress all those who do not agree with them.
– Order! I ask the honorable member not to go into that question.
– Those are the only directions in which the power of the Commonwealth has been tested.
– Get it in; there is a new Speaker now, and he may not have heard that the matter is sub judice.
– Order ! The honorable member for Hume is not in order.
– There is a grave necessity for conserving our primary products. The Nationalist Government ought to have some concern for Australia and its future welfare. We know the. conditions of the primary producers to-day. The position of the smaller men on the land, while they have to go on as they do to-day, is in many cases a greater gamble than that of a man who frequents the racecourse. The Government must spend whatever is necessary, and shoulder the responsibility of insuring the primary producers of this country against that speculative feature which isalways associated with their industry, before the land can be made attractive to the people. Five or six thousand years ago the ancient Egyptians showed us how a great deal could be done in that direction by means of national storehouses for the conservation of food for man and fodder for beasts.
– That is what this Government has enabled your Government to do. Look at the silos along the line?
– Who built the silos?
– This Governmentfound the money.
– The State Government built the silos. When the New South Wales Labour Government’ passed a Bill for the bulk handling of wheat, the Legislative Council threw it out. The wheat would not have been destroyed as it was by weevils and mice but for the nominee House in New South Wales stultifying the will of the people three years ago. Honorable members are well aware of the usual fate of the primary producer. In good seasons he produces in abundance. Although he gets for his produce the market rate, that rate is much lower than the prices which rule in times such as the period of drought through which we have just passed. I have no objection to the surplus above local requirements being shipped abroad, but we should always retain in the country a supply sufficient for two years. That undertaking could be financed through the Commonwealth Bank. The farmer could be paid the market rate for his product, and if there were a succession of two or three good seasons the store-houses could be emptied by export, and refilled with the new season’s produce.
– If the price fell?
– That would make very little difference. I am not urging that the Commonwealth should speculate or endeavour to make money out of this undertaking. I merely urge the provision of store-houses to conserve the primary produce ; those store-houses could be filled in normal times at normal rates and then when the periodical droughts came - for we must regard Australia as a country subject to periodical droughts - the farmer might be able to get his supplies from the store-houses at the same price as he received for his produce instead of having to pay famine prices. If the Government would undertake such a scheme we would not then have the spectacle of a limited circle of financiers and capitalists making millions of pounds at the expense of the farmer while he was being crucified by the drought in the interior, as they did during the last and every other drought.
In regard to the sectarian outburst in which the Prime Minister indulged yesterday, it seems to me that, as was said by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), the right honorable gentleman already feels the political death-rattle in his throat, and like every politician in a similar predicament he grabs at sectarianism in order to try to save himself and his Government from destruction. The right honorable gentleman said a lot about the Sinn Fein element and its association with the Labour party. Nobody but a stupid schoolboy would swallow the statements made about a certain gentleman being the . real leader of the Labour party. There, was a time when the Prime Minister held a different view of the Irish people, of whom he now speaks as Sinn Feiners, disruptionists, and fomenters of rebellion. In a book containing the war speeches delivered in England by the Prime Minister, I find the following passage in a speech before the Pilgrims at the Savoy Hotel, London, on 17th March, 1916, Viscount Bryce presiding -
And here, on St. Patrick’s Day, let us pay a tribute to the loyalty of the Irish people and the valour of the Irish troops. And I, as an Australian, pay tribute to those thousands of young Irish-Australians in the Australian Forces, who have put the cause of liberty above life itself.
It did not suit the Prime. Minister in those days to condemn the Irish people, and so he repeated sentiments which he had expressed in this country during the greater part of his political career. The right honorable gentleman travelled throughout this Commonwealth accusing. Dr. Mannix of disloyalty to this country. Those who know the right honorable gentleman well are aware that he does nothing without a motive. What is the reason for this sudden outburst? Is it to whip up some discordant elements in his own party or is it to save his skin from this vote of censure by appealing to some honorable members in the House to whom sectarianism appeals? He stated that Dr. Mannix had condemned the war. as a sordid trade war. That statement was qualified by the reverend gentleman. But if he were disloyal for having said such a thing, in what respect does he differ from the Prime Minister, who earlier stated in England that the war was being waged for the economic domination of the world? If a war for that purpose was not a trade war, I do not know what the word “ economic “ means. We were subjected to these same veiled attacks and innuendos and insinuations during the last election campaign. I believe that the flame of sectarianism is being deliberately fanned to conserve the interests of the capitalistic class, which the Government represent. It has ever been used for that purpose. Sectarianism is as old as the world. I read a story of the life of Napoleon, in which it was stated that in order to popularize the war against Napoleon, the people of England was told that he was in league with the Pope for the purpose of restoring Roman Catholicism in England, whilst at the same time the people of Ireland were told that Napoleon had entered the Vatican and dragged the Pope about by the hair. In following this path, the Prime Minister is treading upon dangerous ground, as his own knowledge of politics in this country ought to tell him. To me it is sad indeed that, ata time when we are suffering all the aftermath of the terrible world conflagration and when we are troubled in every department of our national life with problems arising out of the conflict, the man who is leading the Nationalist Government, and who should be employing all his intelligence and ability in the great work of restoring this young nation to something like its pre-war strength, is engaged instead in appealing to the vilest passions of the mob. He is using his high and proud position to inculcate in the hearts of the people passions that will only further disturb and disrupt our national life. He is degrading his position, and the only consolation to be found in his action is that ho is sounding his own death knell. Other men who opened their public life with every promise of brilliant careers, and to whom the people looked confidently for leadership in big things, have failed because owing to mistaken judgment or in order to safeguard their public positions, they indulged in vile sectarianism; they even took the great God out of Heaven and dragged him through the gutters of political filth. In this way they degraded every fine instinct of our race. Any man, I care not whether he be a Roman Catholic or a Protestant, who appealsto the religious passions and prejudices of the people in order to retain a political position, is not fit to continue in public life.
.- I do not know how elections are usually won, but if the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) makes the charges in the country which he has made here this afternoon, I can quite understand how country districts sometimes get representation of a certain kind in the House. When the honorable member charges the Government with failure in their administration, because they have not erected weirs across rivers and undertaken wholesale water conservation, he either does not understand the Constitution or is deliberately making an unfair attack upon the Government. It has been said that a vote cast against the motion must be interpreted as an indication of absolute confidence in the Government. I entirely dissent from that view ; further, I think it would be exceedingly difficult for any honorable member who desires to promote and build up the primary industries to vote for honorable members opposite, after the speeches to which we listened last night.
– You cannot judge a party’s programme by the statements of individuals.
– Not by individual statements, but by the remarks of the leader of the party, in this case. The first item on which we are asked to express by our votes our opinion of the present Administration is in regard to its alleged failure to prevent the inordinate rise in the cost of living. If honorable members opposite had been in control of the Treasury benches, what action would they have taken?
– We would have prevented exports, up to a certain stage.
– It should not be forgotten that a Labour Administration was governing this country for some two years after the war began. It had every opportunity to take whatever action it saw fit to prevent the rise in the cost of living, which was even then beginning to show itself alarmingly. Those Labour members, and their Government, had their opportunities when they were in power. They should now explain what they did, or sought to do, and what efforts they have since made by way of suggestion to the present Administration, to overcome the rapidly soaring cost of living. I have heard little from honorable members opposite in that respect, and I certainly saw and heard nothing while a Labour Administration controlled the Commonwealth Treasury. The only suggestion made has had reference to the placing of an embargo upon exports. Apparently, the only proposition is to prevent exportation so that people here shall first be supplied with the produce of this country at any price which the authorities may see fit to give the producers.
– That is not the policy of this party.
– But it is, and has been so proclaimed here repeatedly. In regard to the price of bread, let us deal with the position of the farmer during the war period.
– Is the farmer getting anything out of the extra price of bread to-day ?
– I admit that he is now getting a good price for his wheat. The primary reason for the increased price of bread is the higher cost of wheatgrowing, and that item of cost can be added to by the ridiculous trade regulations which exist in regard to handling and delivering. Let us see whether the farmer is doing so well as would appear at this moment. I warn honorable members opposite that they are treading on very dangerous ground when they seek to discourage the farmer from maintaining and expanding production. There are to-day some 4,000,000 acres less under wheat than four years ago.
– Thanks to the actions of the Government which, apparently, you are going to support by your vote.
– That is an absurd remark. There were certainly blunders made in the administration of the Wheat Pool, but the greater portion of the blame attaches to the State Boards rather than to the Central Administration. There is not one honorable member from New South Wales who has shown himself prepared to defend the actions of the Board in that State. In the press to-day there is a report of a meeting of persons interested in South Australian wheat who desire to take action in order, if possible, to secure satisfaction from the authorities for what is regarded as gross neglect of the interests of the farmers.
– But the State Boards were under the control of the Federal authority.
– Each State Board had absolute control of its own wheat, except in regard to finance and export sales. The New South Wales wheat administration sold and exported- wheat at a time when the people of the State were going short.
– With the advice of the Prime Minister, and the consent of the Central Board.
– That action in selling New South Wales wheat was taken without the approval of the Central administration. I admit that to-day the farmer is getting a good price; but has he had a good price throughout the war ? So far as South Australia’s 1916-17 harvest is concerned, the farmers have received only 3s. 3d. per bushel. There may be a further small dividend to come, but they have had to bear a heavy loss, in regard to that year’s returns. Moreover, from the beginning of the war the cost of wheat production has increased enormously. During the past three years of wheat-growing in New South Wales, the farmer has carried on at an actual loss; and, to-dav the State Government is advancing £1,000,000 to aid the man on the land to secure seed and actual sustenance.
– That indicatesthat a Labour Government is much better for the farmer than any other.
– I do not assume that the Labour party is so devoid of brains that it cannot realize what would be the economic position of Australia if the man on the land were discouraged altogether from carrying on the thankless task of primary production.
– It is the Labour party which gets the land for the people.
– Yes, and then takes it away from them, if the record of Queensland is to be taken into account on that point.
– What about Queensland ?
– Honorable members are well aware of what has been happening in that State during the past few years.
– That is the kind of generality that you people have been spreading about the country for some time. If you have anything definite to say, say it here.
– I have spent a few instructive hours in examining reports of the Queensland Auditor-General for the years in which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) was in charge of Queensland’s finances. It was most interesting reading.
– Tell us what you found.
– I have other and urgent matters in hand at the moment.
During the past three years, wheatproduction has been carried on at a loss. There has been an enormous reduction in the area tilled ; and, even at present prices, the circumstances of the farmer are far from happy. I have learned from an official source that the actual cost of wheat production in the United States last year totalledno less than 8s.11d. per bushel.
– More than1,250,000 acres sown in New South Wales last year produced absolutely nothing.
– I am glad to have that reminder. But when we find that honorable members opposite are prepared to place an embargo on the export of wheat until the people of the community have been supplied, according to the ideas of the Labour party, we are bound to hold grave suspicions of Labour’s policy.
– The embargo would only hold until the requirements of Australia Had been provided for.
– One honorable member, in the course of the present debate, stated that the increase in the cost, of sugar to the Australian consumer was due to the export of huge supplies of jam and canned fruit. If an embargo were to be placed upon the export of jams and canned fruits, what would happen to the Australian orchardists
I would have liked the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) to state last night, when referring to the increased price of bread, what action he would have taken had he been a member of the Government to-day? Just as the Administration to which he was attached in the early stages of the war acted in those days, so would a Labour Administration act again to-day. In the preamble of the measure which passed through the Victorian Parliament at the initiation of the Wheat Pool it was set out that, with the approval of the Prime Minister and of the four Ministers of the wheatproducing States concerned, the price to be paid for wheat in Australia would be equal to the London parity. However, the wharf lumpers went on strike, and refused to load ships with our wheat, when the London parity was 5s. 2d. What did the Labour Government do at that stage?
It reduced the price to. the Australian farmer to 4s. 9d. per bushel, on account of the wharf lumpers’ clamour.
– There was no Labour Government in power at that time.
– I am making no mistake concerning which party was in power, and I know that the deputation which persuaded the Government to reduce the price from 5s. 2d. to 4s. 9d. waited upon the then Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), who was Acting Prime Minister.
– And the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Tudor) was Minister for Customs.
– That was so; although the honorable member had nothing to do with the point which I am now stressing. The honorable member for Yarra referred also last night to the price of butter; and in that regard, again, we find that when he was Minister he placed an embargo upon the export of that commodity.
– There has been a considerable reduction of production in Australia. Owing to the serious droughts experienced during the past few years, our dairy farmers have been obliged to buy fodder at almost famine prices. I have in mind, in connexion with an earlier drought, the case of a woman in the Murchison district of Victoria. She had a herd of from thirty-seven to forty cows, and had to pay £12 10s. per ton for fodder. Then when rain fell and grass came, she lost nearly one-half of her herd in a few weeks. These are some of the privations which our dairy farmers have had to put up with. We all know that the high cost of fodder at the present time makes it extremely difficult for many of them to carry on. And there is no eight hours’ system on a dairy farm. In view of an’ these difficulties, surely it is reasonable that our dairy farmers should get world’s parity for their products. Honorable members opposite are always declaring that the labourer is worthy of his hire, and so I say our primary producers are entitled to a fair return.
– That is our policy.
– It is my policy at all events, and I shall resent very strongly any attempt by any Government to place any embargo upon the marketing of the products of the people.
The Leader of the Opposition dealt extensively with the high cost of meat. We all know that this is due to losses. In New South Wales during the past few months stockowners have been obliged to pay heavy prices for fodder for starving stock, andthen recently, as the result of very heavy rains, serious floods have caused tremendous losses. The Leader of the Opposition spoke also of the consumption of frozen meat. It is useless on his part to refer to the extent of our export trade. A few moments ago I looked up some figures in Knibbs, to see what our export of meat really amounted to. I found that in 1914-15 we exported meat to the value of £3,413,000; in 1915-16, to the value of £769,000; in 1916-17, £1,540,000; and in 1917-18, £452,000. In the Melbourne Age of to-day there appears a statement that in Victoria, from 3rd June up to the end of last week, 17,700 carcasses had been taken out of cold storage for consumption in the city of Melbourne. I am not concerned with the price charged by the retailer. That is a matter for the State Government ; but I remind honorable members that frozen mutton was supplied to butchers at 51/8d. per lb. plus1/8d. for storage charges, or a total of about 5¼d.
– And they have been getting 100 per cent, profit.
– Well, that is a matter for the State, and not the Commonwealth Government. Although prices are at a high level in Australia, we must not forget that elsewhere in the world living conditions are not nearly so favorable. Recently I had a letter from a friend in the United States of America stating that prices there were extraordinarily high. Mutton was about 3s. 8d. per lb., , beef 4s. per lb., and potatoes ever so much dearer than in Australia. Altogether, according to this letter, conditions in America were quite abnormal, the cost of living being more than double that in Australia. I ain not giving the Commonwealth Government any credit for this. I believe that but for the drought the cost of living in Australia would have been very much less than it is to-day. But we have to realize the difficult conditions under which our pastoralists and fanners have been working in recent years. These are the causes of present high prices, though in comparison with people in any other country in the world we have no reason to complain.
In connexion with this motion I would like to know what members of the Opposition would have done had they been in power.
– Would your party be prepared to accept office if the Labour party stood behind you?
– I do not know whether the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) thinks I came into the House yesterday or the day before, and do not realize what the Constitution demands. How could the party of which I am a member form a Government? The suggestion is preposterous.
– Is it?
– Of course, it. is. What position would we, or the Opposition, occupy in another Chamber?
– Oh ! I see.
– Would we have the solid support of the Opposition if we formed an Administration?
– You answer my question first.
-If the honorable member will tell us what he would do, it might make things a little bit easier. But, after all, our first duty is to try to buildup Australia. We are all proud of this country, and our natural desire must be to see it develop. This can only be achieved by giving every encouragement to our primary producers. Take the butter industry as an example. Those acquainted with the history of Victoria know how the valuable assistance rendered by the State Government enabled the agricultural areas to be prosperously settled. Australia is not, and never will be, a great wheat-growing country, but satisfactory progress may be expected by mixed farming ; a combination of grazing, wheat-growing, butter production, and kindred industries. The value of our exportsproves conclusively that our progress depends upon our primary industries. In 1861, our exports totalled in value £17,000,000; in 1881, £27,000,000; in 1891, £36,000,000; in 1901, £49,000,000. At about this time the frozen meat trade began to develop in consequence of insulated space on steamers; being made available, and in 1911 our exports totalled £79,000,000. ‘ In 1916-17, the figure was £174,000,000.
– Chiefly due to the increased value of products owing to the war.
– No. I have taken that factor into consideration, and I find that for the last five years preceding 1916- 17 the average annual value of our exports was about £140,000,000. In 1917- 18, it was £135,000,000, excluding gold.
– And one-third of that total was provided by sheep.
– Which goes to show the increase in the price of wool during the war. ‘
– Nobody can say that any substantial amount of this export trade can be credited to our secondary industries. . Almost the whole of it must be credited to our primary producers. Surely then it is our duty to encourage land settlement, the success of which up to the present has enabled the worker to command better conditions here than prevail in any other country. It is quite clear that an impoverished country means an impoverished people, so that it would be criminal on the part of any honorable member to countenance any suggestion as to placing an embargo on the export of our farm products or to do anything to injure our great primary industries.
– No one proposes to do anything to destroy them.
– I am satisfied hon- orable members would not deliberately do that; but there is not the slightest doubt that if their policy, and if the arguments advanced by some honorable members in the debate last night, were given effect to, the position of our primary producers would be seriously prejudiced.
– Can you show any proposals on the Labour platform that would hurt the country interests?
– I believe I could point to nearly every plank, if I cared to do so. There is, for instance, the proposal for the nationalization of the land and of all means of production.
– That is not on the Labour platform.
– Since when ?
– I will give the honorable member a Labour platform, if he cares to have one.
– It is not worth while just now. The second charge against the Government is-
– Do you find the Government not guilty on the first charge?
– Does the honorable member think that the Government has keptdown the cost of living ?
– I think honorable members opposite would have increased the cost of living much more.
– You cannot prove that in the case of Queensland.
– Speaking from memory, I think the Government Statistician states that the increase in the cost of living in Queensland during the last year has been higher than in any other State.
– It is not so, anyhow.
– I do not like to quote from memory, and thus run the risk of mistakes.
– If the honorable member were addressing a bush meeting he would not be so careful, I suppose?
– The honorable member may speak for himself. I have no desire to be the means of placing any statement in Hansard that I cannot prove, and I have not the figures with me; but I believe that the greatest increase in the cost of living has occurred in Queensland.
– Will you accept my assurance that you are wrong ? : Mr. GREGORY. - Will the honorable member say that the Statistician did not say so ?
– Yes, I will say that, too.
– Then I must, of course, accept the honorable member’s statement. The Government is charged with failing to keep its pledges to the returned ‘ soldiers and their dependants, but the figures presented to us last night by the Prime Minister make us wonder if there is any other country in the world that has attempted to do so much. When I heard- those figures I wondered where the money was to come from, because the amount is enormous, though no more than our boys deserve. Everything possible should be done . to place the returned soldier, if not in a better position, at least in as good a position as he occupied before he went to the war. I was a little disappointed in connexion with some of the proposals in this connexion, because I wished every returned man to have an opportunity to repatriate himself. Are we now, after the experience we have gained, going to ask honorable members opposite to take charge of this work of repatriation ?
– You cannot forget that you are a Nationalist !
– The honorable member has done all he possibly can to create friction between this country and another, and I look upon him as one of the most dangerous men we have had in the House from the time the war started.
– You are not a dangerous man to anybody!
– The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) will never be dangerous to this Government.
– That is a matter of opinion. When we are living in tragic times it behoves every member to be exceedingly careful, and to endeavour to protect the best interests of the country. We can always easily find trouble if we look for it; it is dangerous to look round to see if we can find some way of causing friction between Australia and another Power. However, the land settlement scheme for our returned soldiers has cost millions, and will cost many more, in view of the wonderfully generous proposals for homes and so forth. As to the gratuity, I agree with thePrime Minister, that there would have been created something in the nature of a financial panic if it had been paid in. cash.
– Then, why did the Prime Minister promise to pay it in cash ?
– He did not make that promise.
– He did, in his Bendigo speech.
– The Government went to the country on the clear understanding that the gratuity was to be paid in bonds, and I may say that, in my opinion, if it had not been for the extravagance of this and previous Governments, we should not have been in the wretched position of having to give bonds. There has been gross extravagance in the past, starting in about 1910, and continuing ever since; and every effort must be made to stop it. This Government, however, only follows on the lines of the previous Government.
– Then, the Government is guilty !
– No doubt there is extravagance at the present time, but our financial position is being greatly aggravated by the industrial unrest. For this I do not wholly blame either the workers or the Government; but, unfortunately, by this unrest the country has lost millions and millions of money. In New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa, on the other hand, we find a fine financial position, and I am afraid that here we have missed wonderful opportunities. It is, of course, easy to be wise after the event, but I believe something might have been done by the Government to mitigate the conditions which have arisen. I cannot, as I say, wholly blame the workers for becoming dissatisfied, in view of the high cost of living and the troubles attendant on appeals to the Arbitration Court. But is there a single instance of a strike where members opposite have urged the men to go back to work and comply with the laws of the country ?
– No, because the men want justice.
– What relief would we get if honorable members opposite were placed in power? Every member of the community must comply with the law. We surely do not desire that laws should be observed by one section and not by another. As I said before, it is easy to be wise after the event, but I believe that much loss and trouble might have been saved if, when the cost of living was found to be increasing, the Government had appointed a Board composed of the Government Statistician and a couple of other experienced men. Such a Board could have issued quarterly statistics, showing the increased cost, and an Act could have made provision for wages being raised by so much per cent. I do not mean to say that if the cost of living increased 15 per cent. the whole increase should be made up in wages. That is a matter for consideration; but if some suggestion of the kind had been carried out, I believe that much industrial unrest would have been prevented. On the other hand, I think we are quite justified in condemning honorable members opposite for not using their influence to prevent much of this unrest.
As I said when I rose, in voting against this motion we are not expressing confidence in the Government, but merely showing that we disapprove of the motion. I have very strong grievances against the present Administration.
– You would “ eat out of its hand.”
– The honorable member must realize that while I could not support an Administration from the Opposition side, I can support the Government now in power; it is merely choosing the lesser of two evils. I have no desire to indulge in any trimming, but merely to tell the Government straight out what my ‘opinions are. I refer the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) to a book he published many years ago entitled An Orgie of Extravagance, -showing the extravagant expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth Government; and certainly since 1910 there has been a continual drift. I admit that during the past twelve months there has been, in many directions, a desire shown to economize; but the drift continues, and taxation is increasing. If taxation goes above a certain level, people with money are driven out of the country.
– Where could they go to be much better off in the way of taxation ?
– The honorable member must admit that the taxation here is fairly well up to the limit, and now en large estates amounts to something like 15s. in the £1, taking Commonwealth, State, and municipal taxation together; indeed, we are getting to that stage beyond which it would be exceedingly dangerous to go. I rather regret that the Government have not introduced a measure to impose taxation on expensive articles and luxuries, such as high-priced foods and hats.
– These bear a pretty stiff taxation now.
– But that is through the Customs, and only helps to give extra profit to a few people here. A man ought to be able to buy a decent hat for £1, and any person who wishes to buy more expensive articles of the kind should be made to “ pay through the nose.”
– The honorable member would tax his purchase?
– Yes. I do not wish to digress from the charge of extravagance, because it is imperative that we should economize. I hope that the time is not far distant when, the Treasurer will be able to tell us what he proposes to do in connexion with the financial position of this country. I would like him to tell us the whole truth as to what are our obligations, and how we are going to meet them.
– Does the honorable member approve of the Government continuing to exist without a Treasurer?
– I do not. It is almost an insult to this House that the filling of the vacancy which exists in the Cabinet should have been so long delayed.
– Does not the honorable member think that the delay tends to solidarity in the Government ranks?
– I was just going to refer to that matter. It is almost an insult to this House- that the vacancy created by the retirement of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) from the Ministry should have been permitted to remain unfilled so long. The conditions connected with the Treasury are such that a Treasurer should be appointed, and I hope that we shall get a man who will be able to come down here reasonably soon and explain what is the financial position of the Commonwealth. If, on the other hand, somebody is to be pitchforked into the position at the last moment, he will be able to give us only the information which the Treasury officials choose to give him, so that we shall then occupy much the same position as we have occupied hitherto. The sooner that the office of Treasurer is filled, the better it will be for all concerned, because we are justified in demanding - particularly in view of the speeches made by tie Acting Treasurer - the fullest information as to what our financial obligations really are, and how they are to be met. I mention this matter chiefly because the Prime Minister recently made an announcement in connexion with the proposed unification of the railway gauges of Australia. Had that proposal been brought forward prior to the war it would have commanded my solid support.
– It was brought forward prior to the war.
– Of course, and I quite realize that it is a matter upon which a compromise will have to be effected with the various States, Before the war. we should have been quite justified in proceeding with the work of unifying the railway gauges of the Commonwealth. But , to-day we are not. In view of the enormous sums which we have expended in connexion with the war, and with the knowledge that we were unable to pay our soldiers a war gratuity in cash, and that the Government are ‘not prepared to advance further moneys for soldier settlement in Australia, we are not justified in proceeding with that particular work. I am given to understand that the Government have actually stopped making advances for the purchase of single blocks of land for repatriation purposes. Their action will cause a good deal of embarrassment to many of our returned soldiers.
– I do not think so. “When we come to pay £3,500 for an isolated block of land, it is quite time that a halt was called.
– But the Treasurer could impose a limit upon the amount of these advances. There, are returned soldiers who have gone through vocational training, and who have been waiting for .months- in some cases for more than a year - to get settled upon the land. These men. are now. told that the Commonwealth has stopped making advances for soldier settlement.
– I assure the honorable member that we are not discontinuing the advances, but we are going to review the whole question. These blocks are costing too much.
– I understand that action is being taken under section 20 of the Act.
– When the average cost of soldier settlement blocks runs into £2,500 - as .it does in some of the States - it is time to call a halt.
– When . this soldier settlement scheme was started, a very grave mistake was made in failing to fix a maximum average price in the different States. At the present time, the average cost is very high in some of the States, whilst in others it is very low; and yet both are placing on the land an equal number of soldiers. I trust that the Government will make every endeavour to redeem their obligations to our returned soldiers.
– At Mildura, in New South Wales, leases have been granted for forty years, at a rental of from ½d. to 2d. per acre.
– One cannot judge «f the actions of a State without knowing all the details connected with them!
– There are 16,000 returned soldiers in New South Wales who possess qualification certificates, but cannot get upon the land.
– That statement is not correct.
– It is correct.
– It is absolutely incorrect.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member for Cook to refrain from repeatedly interjecting.
– I have the official figures, which prove that there are 1 6.000 returned soldiers in New South Wales with qualification certificates who cannot get upon the land.
– There is no truth in that statement whatever.
– I must again ask the honorable member for Cook to cease his interjections.
– I do not give any credence to the honorable member’s statement, because of what I learned whilst I was representing the Government of Western Australia at a Conference which was held about a fortnight ago. A grievance I have against the Government is their failure to arrange for a uniform system of taxation which would effect an enormous saving in administration and to the public. Moreover, I want taxation of incomes on the basis of a five years average, which will be much more equitable than our present system.
Another matter which ought to be dealt with by this Parliament is the Defence policy of the Government. Enormous sums are being expended at the present time for the housing of war material that is coming from the Old Country, and certain large works are being held, in abeyance. Upon page 91 of the report of the Economies Commission, it is pointed out that if we allow matters connected with naval, military, and air-craft work to remain in abeyance for the next three years, a saving of £5,250,000 can be effected. That is a very large item. We ought, as speedily, as possible, to arrive at a determination as to what the future policy of the Commonwealth is going to be in regard to military matters. We should not incur any further expenditure until that policy has been actually determined. Recently, I drew attention to the proposed expenditure of £80,000 on Arsenal Research Department buildings at Maribyrnong, which, I understand, when completed, will involve an expenditure of approximately £700,000. If the project is commenced, additions will have to be made, and authority should not be given for the work to be undertaken until this House is in possession of the whole of the details.
Honorable members have been waiting for some time to hear some pronouncement concerning our future Defence policy. Now the war is over and conditions are becoming normal, surely it is time to call a halt in the matter of Defence expenditure, particularly in view of the present international outlook and the apparent absence of immediate danger. After making certain necessary provision, I would be inclined to favour a go-slow policy in matters of Defence. I am not in possession of all the facts, and I do not know what scheme the Government intend placing before us ; but I think it is their duty to submit their Defence policy before we are called upon to deal with the Estimates.
I wish to refer, very briefly, to a matter which I know will be of considerable interest to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Austin Chapman). I do not think the time is opportune to seriously consider the expenditure of a large sum in connexion with the establishment of a Federal Capital.
– Does the honorable member think that is a proper statement to be made by an impartial chairman of the Public Works Committee, to which body some suggest the question should be submitted?
– I amprepared to deal with that question in the same way as I am dealing with the breakofgauge problem, and to admit that, although it may be essential for the Government to carry out the work at some future date, the pre sent time is inopportune to incur such expenditure, particularly when we have such grave financial obligations to meet. In connexion with Defence, a uniform gauge, and the building of the Federal Capital, it is time to go slow in an endeavour to meet our obligations. I do not want the time to come when we will be forced to consider repudiation and proclaim the country bankrupt. It is not my intention to delay the House any longer at this juncture, as I have already made my position clear in Tegard to this matter. In vot ing, as I intend to, against the motion, I am not necessarily expressing my confidence in the present Administration. I wish the Government to know that, if any further embargoes are placed upon the export of our primary products, they are not likely to have my support. The only exception would be in the event of a shortage of wheat in Australia, in which case the Government would be justified in refusing to sanction exports until our own people were supplied. It would have to be understood, however, that in the event of such a contingency arising, the wheat-growers would receive the world’s parity for their produce. Any action taken by the Government to prevent producers obtaining the world’s parity for their produce will have my strongest opposition, irrespective of consequences.
I desire also to emphasize the necessity for returning to constitutional government, instead of adhering to the practice whereby Ministers of the Crown have been able to dictate the policy of the country without consulting Parliament.
Recently we had the astounding suggestion that the Government should utilize £10,000,000 of the profits derived from the producers’ wool. If money is required it should be raised in a constitutional manner, and if it is not forthcoming voluntarily compulsion should be adopted. It is not fair that any one section of the community should be made to subscribe a large sum to our loans; everybody should contribute a fair proportion. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) has not submitted a strong case in moving his motion, and on this occasion it is my intention to support the Government.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
.- I intend to vote for the motion, a statement which I think needs no explanation from me. For many years - ever since the Watson Government was in power - I have fought the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). I have never trusted- him since that time, and even if to vote against him would consign me to political oblivion, I could not see my way to keep him at the head of an Administration.
T intend to address most of my remarks to-night to the subject of political economy. At the outset I wish to say that I shall welcome the appointment of a new Treasurer. The other day in the street I was asked, concerning the telegrams between Mr. Hughes and Mr Watt, which were being published in the newspapers, “Who was the liar?” My reply was, “ Both are splendid prevaricators, true descendants of Ananias.” For deception I would back the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) against any man I ever met, read of, or thought of; but whatever he may do, not even his most inveterate enemy - and I have been that since the days of the Watson Government - will deny that he possesses a quality that Mr. .Watt never possessed, namely, courage. Could any man in this House imagine Mr. Hughes deserting his country in her hour of need, as Mr. Watt did, when far away on a mission where no man1 could for the time being fill his place? I do not care what the quarrel might have been ; Mr. Watt when in England was like a soldier with a duty to perform, and he betrayed his country, and was unfaithful in the great mission he was sent to fulfil. I have memories of him crowing like a cock on a dunghill when he -beat Mr. Prendergast at North Melbourne, and weeping like a lost child when Mr. Prendergast beat him. So much for that gentleman, who, to use his own words, went “into the void.” That may be the entrance to Hades, for all I know.
My leader has gone so fully into figures, which no honest man, if he checked them, could contradict, that I shall not have much to say regarding the cost of living. At least while the war was on, and they could use the War Precautions Act, this Ministry could have done anything they thought proper to prevent the cost of living from rising. I repeatedly asked that the owners of property should be prevented from unjustly raising their rents, but I was always met wi.th camouflage or subterfuge. My charge against the Prime Minister and his Government is that they never raised a finger to help those unfortunates who were badly treated by the landlords. The Prime Minister could find £2,500,000 to spend on ships, without asking the permission of this Parliament, and could have found another £1,000,000 if he had needed it. We have had it from the lips of Mr. Watt that the Cabinet was consulted, but honorable members know my opinion of his statements. I do not believe that one. Rents at the present time are an infamy, not only in this huge city, but also in the larger capital of New South Wales. Honorable members, if they go into the slum districts, can see for themselves the conditions that obtain there. Here in Melbourne, in a street 9 feet wide, there are houses which would be condemned if they belonged to private land-owners, but because they belong to the gilded aldermen or councillors of the city of Melbourne, they are allowed to” remain. There are four two-storied buildings with only one latrine for the whole of them. All the families in those houses have to use if. When the Board of Health does, move, and the council has a building pulled down, it does nothing for the housing of the unfortunates who are dispossessed. I am out against landlords unless controlled. That is why I object to the inaction of this Government. My experience is that Governments do not sufficiently study the health and welfare of the human beings who elect members to Parliament.
The prices of food have gone up and up. There are transfers from Mr. Merchant A to Mr. Merchant. B. and then to Mr. Merchant C, each of whom wants his little bit; and thus the public has to pay more and more. Why do not we follow the example set in older countries during the war, where they were forced to fix the prices of foods. The farmer should be allowed a fair price for his wheat delivered at the railway station, and a fair allowance should be made for the gristing of the flour at the mill. The flour should be sold at a fixed price, anil millers who would not sell1 to bakers at that price - and that occurred1 in Melbourne - should be sent ‘to gaol.
Flour has been refused to honest bakers in Melbourne -who wished to sell bread over the counter at a fair price, and the law could not compel the millers, to sell to them. The incident makes one think of that mayor of Paris who said, “ Let the people eat grass,” and was hanged from a lamp-post with grass stuck in his mouth. The ,price of bread’ sold over the counter should also be fixed. In this connexion, let me quote what was said by my beloved friend, the Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in the Victorian Parliament, in a speech delivered in the Legislative Assembly on the 12th November last. Bread was cheaper then than it is now. He said -
The remarkable thing is that, while the public are paying from 7d. to 8$&. per loaf for bread, the bakers can accept contracts for the delivery of bread to Government asylums and other institutions at 5£d. and 5Jd. per loaf, and they make a profit at the latter prices.
Lei the baker charge what he can get for the bread that he delivers, but let the Government fix the price of bread sold over the counter. Jonathan Hutchinson, one of the greatest surgeons that England ever had, and one of the greatest European surgeons that lived into this century, advocated in the late nineties the nationalization of bread in England, so that every individual could receive his or her quota. The best surgeon in his specialty in London was man enough to advance that theory.
As for the price of clothing, was it not stated in the other House, and did not the information come out in a mitigated form in sworn evidence, that cloth manufactured in certain factories “walked into the warehouses, turned right round and walked straight out again,” to use the words of a song, its price being doubled and trebled in the process t Tweed made in Australia is sold as European tweed. Honorable members have heard of the warehouseman, Mr. Williamson. He is a most- charming gentleman to meet, and I should be very pleased to go a journey with him. Still I think I am not doing him any injustice when I say that he tried to trip rae. From Allen’s, or somewhere else, they came up with a letter from a country resident. Luckily they forgot themselves. There are such things as looking-glasses, and it is possible sometimes for a man to see what is happening behind him. That did not happen in my case, but I learned sufficient to know that something was afoot, and I did not accept an invitation to examine certain books. Then Mr. Williamson and I had some correspondence. I stated that the Rev. Mr. Cox, a relative of the exTreasurer (Mr. Watt), had made certain statements at Geelong. Mr. Williamson said that Mr. Cox had repudiated that, and asked me to withdraw. I am never afraid to withdraw any statement I make if it is shown that it is not true. I asked Mr. Williamson to let me know what Mr. Cox really did say, because I had the excerpt from the papers before me. I said that if the statement made in his letter was in accord with my notes, I should be prepared to explain the matter at my next meeting. Mr. Williamson sent me Mr. Cox’s letter, and to my astonishment that letter confirmed my statement. It contained no repudiation of that statement. Honorable mem!bers may have read of the wonderful challenge to contribute £50 to the hospital if I did soandso. I think so much of hospitals that I am always willing, when I can, to secure such a donation as that for them. My answer was that Mr. Williamson, the chairman of the warehousemen of Melbourne, had challenged me in a certain way. I have had some correspondence with the gentleman which was not satisfactory, and unless he made a statutory declaration that the statements in his letter were true I should take no further notice of him. I said it was an easy matter, to offer a challenge in connexion with something which involved the inspection of accounts by a keen accountant. By that time evidence had been given before the State Fair Profits Commission, and Mr. Williamson did not care to say that his statements were true, They were not true, and he knows it well. I charge him here to-night, as I have done on a public- platform, to swear an affidavit, and then I shall know what to do.
Flinders-lane has been an absolute curse to the Anzac tweed industry. I am at present wearing a suit of tweed made by some of those brave boys who have been to the Front. They have never had a dog’s show. The Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie), in his rough but good-tempered way, told some of those under him that they were never to “ sell him a pup “ ; but I may inform the honorable gentleman that he was given a “ pup “ that was absolutely bloated with rottenness when he was supplied with the report of the Committee that dealt with the subject. Three of these men have denied the statements of the Committee. SergeantSinclair, a man who fought in the South African war, and offered his services in the last great war, was elbowed out of the Anzac tweed business because he stood up to a Minister and told Senator Millen that he was wrong. He refused to put any rubbish into the cloth, on the ground that if he did so, no man who had any of it made up into a suit would call for more. I exhibited the yarn here, and I showed it to Senator Millen, in the presence, thank goodness, of another member of Parliament. He said it should not be done. And if honorable members want to know the end of it, let them ask Buckley and Nunn where it was sent.
Sinclair is starting a private company to-day, and I hope that honorable members who have a little money to spare will take shares in it. He has done what this mighty Government said they could not do. They said they could not give more than 500 lbs. of yarn per week to the returned soldiers. If the Government had given the returned men a chance from the first, I do not hesitate to say there would to-day be a thousand men in Melbourne earning from £5 to £7 per week. Men engaged in similar business are. earning in Glasgow and Aberdeen from £4 10s. to £6 10s. per week. Senator Millen, with a superior air, acquired, no doubt, in Flinders-lane, said that there was not a future for hand-woven tweed. What is the answer to the honorable senator ? It is that Burbury, the greatest maker of overcoats in the world, has entered into a ten years’ contract to take all the cloth they make. I should like honorable members to go down and see these men’ working. As to the cost of machines, a contract for twenty has been offered for £15 each. I wish Sinclair luck. I know that he is an honest man. He stood up against this Government, and. against Senators Pearce and Millen when they used their vilest influence, and when in order to get him out of the business they had to resort to the contemptible camouflage that no one must be employed in the Anzac tweed industry unless he was a returned soldier of the recent war. The man to whom I refer had actually created the industry. Senator Millen was foolish enough to write to the press that there were no injured men employed there. As a matter of fact, at one time every man employed in the industry was an injured man, and the Minister for Repatriation had only to visit the factory to be aware of that.
I ask those who come from the other side of the Murray to see for themselves how the Anzacs are being treated in that splendid factory in Sydney, where they manufacture not only woollens, but the very best of worsteds. They are under the Red. Cross authorities, and not under the vile Defence Department. They have been given fair play from the very first, and are now employing about 35 men. They haye contracts for all that they can produce for the next two years. That is another answer to the statement made by Senator Millen which I can hardly find words to condemn. Honorable members can get the address of this factory from a telephone book, and if they visit it they will see how happy these men look, and they can inspect the splendid material they are making. Their “blueys” might be sold as the very finest ever manufactured in the West of England. The warehousemen of Flinders-lane know what I mean by “blueys.” The “nigger browns” and “nigger blacks” turned out at this factory are magnificent, and I emphasize the fact that it has had no assistance from the present Federal Government. I wish the men engaged in the industry all success. They are assured of a plentiful supply of yarn from private companies. Mr. Sinclair has been able to get yarn from private companies, and has entered into a contract, although the Government said they could not supply more than 500 lbs. per week. I do not say that the Assistant Minister for Defence is responsible for what has occurred. I believe that he desires as sincerely as I do to help these men. I ask him to go and see them, and I shall be pleased if he will permit me to go with him.
– We will go together.
– So much for rents, food and clothing.
I have here an extract from last evening’s newspaper referring to refund’s made in connexion with sales of bran. I desire to thank Sir James McCay, Mr. Charles Gray4 and Mr. Hutchinson for the work they are doing. They are doing splendid work, but not all they might do if they were invested with more power. They have to report to the State Government, and State Governments, like this created thing we call a Parliament, once elected, can delay and continue to delay. The people who are our creators for one day in three years have, after our election, no more power over us. When an election comes on, as one did on last Saturday, there is some little turmoil and upheaval. I find that some £453 overcharged in connexion with sales of bran has been refunded. If these charges were unjustly made, why are not those who made them’ in gaol ? That is the best place for them. I quoted on a previous occasion a translation which will be found buried in Hansard somewhere, of a section of the criminal part of the Code Napoleon. That almost superman formulated his Code in 1812, and he seems to’ have foreseen the course which would be followed by the money spinners of the present time, because he provided in his Code that if any man or body of men conspired to secure the unjust raising of prices, the punishment should be 20,000 francs and six months’ imprisonment. Not “fine or imprisonment,” but “fine and imprisonment.” If the offence was the raising of the prices of food, such- as wheat, flour, wine, which in Prance is regarded as a food, and other articles of food, the punishment was doubled at 40,000 francs and twelve months’ imprisonment. The imprisonment of one of these firms, would -be more effective than the imposition of any fine.
It may interest honorable members to know the character of the fines that are imposed here. I have a list of some which I quote from a return to 30th December, 1918, in continuation of a previous return showing separately the fines imposed. I find that under the Dairy Supervision Act there were 94 offences, and the fines amounted to £70. Under the Health Act there were 36- offences, and the fines amounted to £9- 3. Under the Factories and Shops Act the offences numbered 395, arid the fines amounted to £521. Under the Weights and Measures Act there were 24 offences and £37 10s. was levied in fines. Under the Bakers arid Millers Act there were 36 offences and the fines imposed amounted to £117. These figures account for a total of 886 offences, and total fines amounting to £1,680. This gives an average fine of £2 for each offence. A penalty of one week’s imprisonment for a second or third offence would have a far more deterrent effect than the imposition of a fine of £2.
Honorable members know of the dirty kitchens we have here. There are more in Sydney. In my early days in Paris I once saw a crowd gathered round a baker’s shop window in which was exposed a placard setting out that the proprietor had been fined a certain sum for putting alum in his bread, or committing some other offence against the pure-food laws. Under the law he was required to allow that notice to remain in his window for two or three weeks. If we had such a law in operation here I am satisfied it would have a salutary effect. In this city many persons charged, with offences against the Health Act or the Pure. Foods Act pay the fines into Court with the object of escaping publicity. The press is the real guardian of the health of the people, since it does not hesitate to publish the names of offenders. I am told that in Berlin if a draper advertises goods under cost prices and a Government officer finds it false by an examination of his books, he is entitled to mark these goods at 10 per cent, below cost and to require them to remain in his shop windows until they are sold. The return from which I quoted a few moments ago contains the names of Harper, Angliss, and a number of other wellknown business people. It also includes the name of Lucas, who was fined for not keeping food in a rat-proof storeroom. I have also a return for the twelve months ending 30th September, 1919, which shows, that during that period there were fifty convictions in Victoria for offences against the Dairy Supervision Act, and that the fines imposed amounted to £45. There were 297 cases under the Health Act, and the fines imposed’ amounted to £900. Under the Factories and Shops Act there were 360 cases, and the fines inflicted amounted to £325. There were also 52 cases under the Weights and Measures Act, and the fines amounted to £114, while there were 28 prosecutions against bakers and millers, and the fines inflicted amounted tq £76. For the twelve months there were 742 cases under these Acts, and the fines totalled £1,400. In other words, they did not average £2 per case. With all due respect to many honest men who hold the commission of the peace, I cannot help saying that a lot of them do not play the game, and are not even commonly honest when they impose trifling fines for offences of this kind. When the people have the power, which I hope they will soon possess, we shall have a change.
Coming to the question of immigration, I am sure that when the people here are happy - when we have plenty of employment offering and the opportunities for advancement are great - we shall welcome immigrants. There is one form of immigration, however, that does not appeal to me. My friend, Mr. Prendergast, Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, when speaking in that chamber on 12th November last, quoted the following circular: -
The Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, Manufacturers’ Buildings, 304-316 Flinders-street.
You are doubtless aware that at the present time a delegation sent out to Australia by the British Government, viz., Mrs. Simm, Miss Pughe Jones, and Miss Chomley, is in Melbourne, making inquiries and collecting information respecting the opportunities of employment offering in Australia for women, of whom there is a large number in England to be provided for as a result of the. war.
Arrangements were made for the delegation to meet representatives of the sections of the Chamber in which female labour is employed, and this meeting took place on Tuesday iast. when the position in regard to the shortage of female labour in Victoria was thoroughly demonstrated.
As a result, the Chamber has undertaken to place in the hands of the delegation reliable information as to the number of women that can be absorbed in the factories.
I therefore inclose a form for you to supply me with the necessary information, and have to ask you to return it immediately, as the delegation will be leaving Melbourne at the end of this month.
They have undertaken to forthwith forward the requirements of Victoria to London, with their recommendation, and have stated that the Government will be most careful in its selection.
Please give the fullest particulars as to the class of female workers you require, so that the representatives of the” British Government may be in a position to know the exact requirements of the class of workers they are to send out. - Yours faithfully, (Signed) F. L. W. Ashby, Secretary.
If we are to have immigration, let us have the sexes brought out in equal numbers. Already in Australia we have more females than males. In Victoria we have 751,020 females and 716,168 males, an excess of 34,852 females. The population of Australia comprises 2,566,932 females and 2,513,023 males, an excess of 53,909 females. Every truly Australian woman hopes to meet her mate, and to rise to the God -given gift of motherhood. If we are not to advocate polygamy it is therefore necessary for us to see that in connexion, with any policy of immigration adopted by the Commonwealth care is taken that the number of males to females shall be fairly equal. I recognise the difficulty prevailing in England at the present time. In London alone there are 1,500,000 more females than males, and my heart goes out to them. Thank God they are now able to vote. They are not the disfranchised slaves that they were when, as a young man, I was in England. The franchise of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales before the war was the vilest in theworld, not equal on paper to that of China, Japan, or Turkey, because no man had a vote because of his manhood, but was entitled to exercise the franchise only when he owns or rents property.
Let me deal now with the treatment of our returned soldiers. W!as there ever a greater piece of camouflage than that resorted to by the Government when they declared that those who did not apply for the gratuity within six months would forfeit their right to it. I was a member of the Victorian State Recruiting Committee, and am the only one who remained a member of it from the beginning to the end. When we were on the recruiting platform we did not tell our young men that upon their return from the Front they would lose their rights unless they made the requisite application within six months of their return. We also told the boys that if they went to the Front the Government would see that their mothers were treated fairly. We did not tell those who had been born out of wedlock that their mothers would not get a pension in the event of their death. I thank the Government for what they have done in the direction of mitigating that vile enactment. The lonely woman who has not the help of a husband has often greater love for her boy, and has frequently to submit to greater trials, than her more fortunately situated sisters, and to say that such women should not be treated in the same way as the mothers who are legally married was a disgrace. Then, again, the war gratuity is described as an act of grace.” Was it necessary for the Government to use that glorious word, with all its scriptural associations, to describe the war gratuity. I hope that our soldiers, who have been able to do more than I was permitted to do, will see that they and their dependants get fair play.
When Major-General Bridges lost his life his widow received a ‘special grant of £4,500. Although he was a general he could make no greater sacrifice than did the private who gave his life for the cause. I should not have cared had Lady Bridges received £20,000, but ‘ since she was granted £4,500,, and her husband was receiving something like £30 per week and a field allowance of 25s. per day, why should we not have been able to make the same grant to every woman who lost her husband in the great . war ? “ A special Act was passed to enable this grant to be made to Lady Bridges. Surely she had a greater chance of saving money out of her husband’s salary of £30 per week than had the widow of a private who received only 6s. per day.
What is the cause of industrial unrest? Every right-thinking man - every mother of a family who knows the value of money and the cost of food and clothing - will say that when the price of food, shelter, and clothing goes up it is only reasonable that a man should ask for more wages. The men and women outside should follow the example that we recently set them. How can we blame a man for asking for a higher wage when the cost of living goes up ? If honorable members think that we shall always have industrial unrest, let us fix prices from time to time, and arrange that wages shall increase according to the increase of prices, instead of the workers having to go before the Arbitration Court as they have now. I voted for arbitration, and believe in it, but not as it is now carried out. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said, it is far too expensive, and there are too many delays in getting to the Court. In the Tramways case, I believe between £15,000 and £20,000 was expended before the Court could be reached; and then in a three-days’ strike the men obtained more than they got through all that waste of time and money. The fault of the present Arbitration Court is that it is not up-to-date, but instead of amending and improving it, we try to work with our old-fashioned methods, with all their faults. I cannot call to mind any other instance than that now occurring in Western Australia, where the public offices and the banks have been closed down, in any part of the British Dominions; but that has happened in Western Australia because the clerical slaves are getting tired of being slaves.
– I told the Manager of the Commonwealth Bank to his face, in the presence of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Higgs), what I thought of his methods; and I am sure that if the honorable member lived for 1,000 years he would never forget that incident. In that Bank young men and women were brought back night after night, and not even allowed tea money. I belonged, in my earlier years, ‘ to the staff of what was considered to be one of the smallest banks; but we were always paid ls. -6d. tea money when we worked back at night. Doctors in Collins-street have sent young men to me to make complaints. I have been asked, “Is it fair that these young men should be worked like this?” If’ any of them had dared to take part in a political meeting, of course they have not been dismissed for that offence, but they have been sent away to some small place in the interior. I have made inquiries about the conditions in the Commonwealth Bank in New South Wales, Adelaide, and Perth. I went over to the opening of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney to ask the Manager if he intended to give up sweating his bank clerks. After I had asked him that twice, he did not make a very happy speech. He is an autocrat. Who knows how much money the man called Kirkpatrick is getting from the soldiers by sending out standard plans for war service homes? It might foe worth while asking that question. Has he ever paid rent for his rooms in that splendid building? I do not care whether he is a relative of the Manager or not; but I object to men like him having all the advantages. Why is not the design of the bank to be built here thrown open to the competition of all the architects of Australia ? The best thing ever done by a Minister here was to send for Mr. Griffin from America in connexion with the competition for the design of the Federal Capital, and to turn down the abortion put forward by the robbers in the Government Service, who made a patchwork plan by picking the brains of one man here and another man there without acknowledgment.
– Why do not the Government give him some work to do on the Federal Capital!
– I agree with the honorable member. He knows that my vote is always available for him on that question. I remember the late Lord Forrest saying that no man should have the power that the Manager of the Commonwealth Bank has. Can any one tell me what rent Kirkpatricks pay for their big rooms in the Commonwealth Bank? The only way to remedy the evils of our present system is to introduce the initiative, referendum and recall.
– It would be a bit of a shock to a good many members if it was introduced.
– I do not want the honorable member to think that it would apply only to the question of increase of members’ allowances. It goes very much further. It would tend to make politics honest, and to make members mind . their p’s and q’s. It would enable the people to keep in their own hands the control, not only of members of Parliament but of public expenditure, both parliamentary and municipal. The municipality of Melbourne could run the city into a debt of £1,000,000 or £1,500,000 without consulting the people. The ratepayers have no control over them. One Melbourne newspaper, perhaps not designedly, made a great error in stating that the members of the French Parliament were paid only £600 a year. According to a paper issued by the Empire Parliamentary Association prior to the war, the salary of a member of the French Parliament was, at the rate of 25 francs to the £1, £600 a year. This was increased in February of this year to £1,080 a year. The French elections were held in November, and ours were held in
December. The members of the French Parliament raised their salaries in the February following, and we raised ours to almost the same sum in the following May. If the referendum, initiative and recall were adopted here, the people would have the controlling power, not only over members of Parliament, but over the Governor-General. They might be asked to say if he was worth £10,000 a year, seeing that only £15,000 a year is paid to the President of the United States, who rules over 100,000,000 people. The people would be able also to fix the salaries of State Governors, Judges, stipendiary magistrates, heads of Departments, Commissioners of railways, and so on. The’ people have to find the whole of the money. Why, then, should they not have a say in the spending of it?
I recommend honorable members to visit the theatre opposite this building and see the picture called the “ Right to Happiness.” They . must not think that the scenes of slum life shown there are overdrawn. They will see ten or eleven human beings in one miserable room. I was surprised to find the very respectable paper, known as The Illustrated London News, publishing a picture called “ Typical Overcrowding in East London.” This shows an eating, sleeping and living room for father, mother, seven children, married brother and wife. Here is another picture showing the “ Winter sufferings of the Russian bourgeoise under Bolshevism.” It depicts a family huddled in the kitchen for warmth, with the mother and baby on the stove, and the rest in chairs. There is, however, a second room, and the conditions are apparently better than in East London. These terrible pictures recall to me what I saw in London in my younger days. As the obstetric officer called on to bring another little life into the world, I had to go into a room 10 x II feet by 10 feet high in what is called the mews - that is, a room over stables. All the others in the room withdrew to give me a little more space, and stood in the doorway in the sleety winter night. I noticed that in each corner there was another little child. I thought to myself, “ This city is the mighty centre of the Empire, and yet in it human beings cannot find proper accommodation for a woman in her glorious hour of motherhood.” Professor Pepper, a few days afterwards, said that an ordinary working man on 18s. a week could feed his wife and one child fairly well, but that when the third, fourth, and fifth children came, there was no room for them in the one apartment which served for eating, sleeping, and washing. Those little children were sent out to what was called “ harden themselves.” Thati s how they got the little blue legs and big wrists and ankles, signs of what the Germans used to call the “ English disease “ - rickets. Professor Pepper, who won more gold medals than any other man at the London University, stated that the seventh, eighth and ninth children rarely had a chance of reaching adult age. That is slum life for you in a mighty Empire. Our party is out to wipe it out, andto tear poverty from the world. We can do it only by the aid of the referendum, initiative and recall, which will give the people power over Parliament.
If we had the referendum, initiative and recall, would the people of Australia support the continuance of six Governors and a Governor-General ? Is it not current opinion that the present GovernorGeneral was sent to Australia to do the work that Lord Denman would not do when the then Prime Minister (Sir Joseph Cook), with a majority of only one in this House, and that one the Speaker, and an adverse majority in another place, wanted a double dissolution? Denman would not grant a double dissolution, but Munro Ferguson did. If the people had a vote, would they continue to pay him £10,000 per annum as well as a huge sum for the upkeep of his position ? Do honorable members think that the people would vote for the continuance of six Agents-General and a High Commissioner? Can any honorable member mention £500 worth of work that the High Commissioner does? I say nothing against Andrew Fisher, who, as an honest politician, has my affection and regard. But has the country ever benefited through the creation of the High Commissioner, and the continuance of the AgentsGeneral? I lived in London for five years, and I know of no earthly good that the Agent-General for Victoria did in that time. I have spoken with artists who were driven from Australia to earn their living in another country, and whose work has made the name of Aus tralia widely known, and they told me that they had never been benefited through the Agents-General.
– The AgentsGeneral do a lot more good than the High Commissioner has done.
– Speaking from my own experience, I doubt that. I admit that the late Sir George Reid did splendid, work as High Commissioner to my personal knowledge in Coronation Year. We could dispense with the services of six Governors and six Agents-General. The only service the latter are able to render is to introduce some swell Australian’s wife, who wishes to be presented at Court to some needy Dowager Duchess who, for a fee, will put the visitor through her paces, so that she may not commit the awful offence of turning her back on Royalty. I believe that the spectacle of these ladies practising their bows and curtsies under the coaching of a hired Duchess is most interesting. Honorable members have read of the trouble that occurred at the last Indian Durbar, when the Gaekwar of Baroda was supposed to have turned his back on the King. These socialservices are the only ones rendered by the Agents-General, and their offices could well be abolished. At the proper time, I shall move a motion for a similar reform in regard to the office of High Commissioner. I shall do that with no personal feeling against the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook), who is generally understood to be the next occupant of that office. But I am tired of the High Commissionership, and the heavy expense it entails. Australia House has cost this country nearly £1,000,000. That is too much money to waste. In place of the Agents-General, I would appoint men whom the late Sir Thomas Bent described as general agents, who would receive a fair salary, and a commission on business transacted. I should say to them in the words of a celebrated American, in his letters to his son, “ The letters I want from you when you are away are your orders for business.” With men of that type there would be no further gallivanting about Courts in order to introduce wealthy ladies to the King and Queen. Those rich Australians who take up their residence in England are not the best friends of Australia.
The problems of finance were different during the late war from those of any other war. If honorable members will turn up the banking records, they will find that in no previous war did the gold reserves in the banks increase. There is instance after instance of the Bank of England refusing to pay in gold. But in the late war, banks in the Homeland and in Australia increased their reserves ; and whilst 80 per cent, of our available manhood offered their lives, I do not think 10 per cent, of the wealth was offered. We have not yet got one-tenth of “ the last shilling.” But I have a belief that we shall get that money sooner than seme people expect. The Wunderlich Company had a debit of £4,000 in 1913, and to-day has a credit reserve of £37,000. The Commonwealth Bank, controlled by a gentleman who receives a salary »of £80 per week, and £2 2s. per day for travelling expenses, but who would not pay ls. 6d. as tea-money to clerks who worked at night, started in 1913 with a debit balance of £45,000, and now shows a profit of £2,363,000, which was made during the war. Burns, Philp and Company had a reserve fund in 1913 of £206,000, which has been increased to £667,000, whilst the pre-war dividend of 5 per cent, has been doubled. The Bank of New South Wales has increased its reserve fund from £2,400,000 to £3,425,000, and is paying a dividend of 10 per cent. The Bank of Australasia has increased its reserve fund from £2,720,000 to £4,102,000, and its dividend from 7 per cent, to 8 per cent. And so on.
I see no reason why any man or woman who is in receipt of an income of over £1,000 should object to. the fact being made public. Everybody knows the income of the King of England and Emperor of India; of the Prince of Wale9, who is playing the game like a man in Australia; the Judges on the Bench, every public official in Great Britain and Ireland, and even members of Parliament. Though the precise amount received by Ministers is not known to the public, everybody has an approximate idea of what each one receives. What reason is there for keeping secret the names of those persons . who pay taxation on incomes of over £1,000 per annum? That information would afford Parliament an indication of how the taxation should be levied. To his great credit, Sir Alexander Peacock published a list in which the taxpayers were indicated by numbers up to 259, and which showed the profits made by various companies and individuals prior to the war and in the first two years of war. In one instance, the increase in profits was 2,000,000 per cent. The then honorable member for Henty (Mr. Boyd) questioned the accuracy of my figures when I quoted them, but he would not support his opinion to the extent of risking having to pay for a life-governorship in a hospital. Why should not the information prepared by Sir Alexander Peacock be supplemented and brought up to date. I ask the Government to indicate in a similar return the profits of various firms and squatters from 1913 onward during the years of war. When I made that. request to a Minister on a previous occasion, he would not agree to supply the information. Even if the Government cannot see their way clear to publish the actual names, it would be an advantage to the House to have a return indicating by numbers all the persons who were in receipt of £1,000 per annum in 1913, together with their incomes in the subsequent years. It would be found that the vast majority of them had increased their incomes during the period of war.
The Bulletin publishes in its “ Wild-cat Column “ from week to week the balance-sheets of various companies, and rarely, indeed, does it disclose a reserve fund that has not increased since the commencement of the war. We have been told by that splendid statist, Mr. Knibbs, whose reputation extends throughout Australia and Europe, that whereas the property of Australia was valued at £1,200,000,000 in 1913, it increased during the war to £1,600,000.000. That increase of £400,000,000 would pay our national debt; and whenever the opportunity arises, I shall act in accordance with the statement I made in this House as soon as it re-assembled after the declaration of war, that I would never vote to saddle the future millions of Australia with the burden of the interest on the war debt. If the’ unborn generations are obliged to carry that burden, the Kaiser and his battalions will have punished Australia for all time. I say that the wealth of Australia should pay the war debt. Eighty per cent, of our manhood offered their lives; 800,000 of our men offered themselves for active service; over 400,000 were accepted; over 300,000 left our shores; and 60,000 have never come back. I want to know now about that last shilling. How are we going to get it? “With my banking experience, and having made a study of the banking system, I can confidently invite honorable members to read the particulars of the Banking Commission of the United States, which inquired into the affairs of every bank in Europe. It is obvious that if all the war debt were to be requisitioned it would destroy credit. Sudden actions and changes would not only destroy credit, but, in many cases, would cause loss of life. I am out to prevent that. There is the unearned increment. Why not let us say that we will have all property valued now, and that the increase for the next ten. years, or until the war debt shall have been wiped out, shall be drawn upon for such specific purpose? I have asked the keenest business men whether they would prefer to give one-fourth of their property forthwith in cash or be dispossessed of ten years of unearned increment. Honorable members know full well what was their answer every time.
I hope that, since this House has done that which no other Legislature under the British flag has ever done - that is to say, has agreed to the most momentous motion ever carried by any Parliament, namely, that for the establishment of the principle of the referendum and initiative - honorable members will now assist me to have that principle put into working order. It is a plank of the platform of the great party to which I -am attached, and it is a plank of the platform of the Nationalist party. I welcome the Country party, and I hope it will amend its policy so as to come into line with the other two parties. Its members should be prepared to trust the people. If we were to give to the people the power to initiate legislation I would look forward with confidence to glorious days for Australia. I would be prepared to seriously consider offering a post of great responsibility to that greatest organizer of machinery and labour the world has ever known. I allude to Henry ‘ Ford, of America, who was told that ho could not employ a larger unit than 5,000 men, but who did so; who was told that he could not make an automobile for £40, but who did so; and who, for the payment of one dollar a year, turned the whole of his machinery over to the welfare of his country, when the United States of America declared war. Money could have no value to a man who has made Ford’s millions. When labour troubles occurred, his critics said he would not be able to carry on, that he would be beaten; but he was not beaten, and the unions did not object to his carrying on. He fixed the minimum wage of the sweeper-out of his factory at £1 a day. If [ had the power, I would be inclined to invite Ford to come here and govern Australia. He would do it, perhaps, for the maximum salary of one dollar a year, for the honour and love of the task. And, so, he would set Australia going as a great, co-operative Commonwealth; for that is the only way in which to eliminate poverty from our midst.
I commend to honorable members the last book published by that wonderful man, Alfred Russell Wallace. In his 93rd year he penned these words, “ The State should be the heir of all property.” There is the thought which, in the minds of men, will grow. The State has never yet sold its property, nor the right, of taxation. In the words of the elder Napoleon, in his Code, property is that which is movable and immovable. I can remove my watch from taxation, but I cannot remove my house and my land. We hear threats of the removal of capital. Property cannot be moved, and I ask the wealthy to consider seriously the advantage to them of the referendum, the initiative and re: call. The shadows are creeping. The first shadow in Australia is being thrown by the happenings in Western Australia at this moment. Let us have the referendum, the initiative and recall. That will enable this nation to bring about reform by gradual change. What an insult it is to the intelligence of the people that this Parliament should permit them to vote upon a referendum! We say it is the most glorious thing iri the world to be the servants of the people. Why do we not embody in our Constitution provision for the people to have the right to initiate legislation? If we did, this “ fool “ game of Parliament, as carried on now, would cease to exist.
.- I feel that we are wasting considerable time. This is the second occasion in the life of the present Parliament on which a similar discussion has occurred. It is a waste of public time and money.
– On a point of order, I object to that expression and insist that it be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Swan did not apply it to any individual member of this House, but to the motion itself.
– Then, since I moved the motion, I ask that the objectionable expression be withdrawn.
– I will say that, in my opinion, it is a waste of public time and money.
– That is worse than ever.
– Objection has been taken to the phrase employed by the honorable member for Swan, and I ask him, therefore, to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the expression. I havepatiently listened to the various speeches delivered since the launching of the motion, and I have closely examined the reasons set forth in its support. I have wondered how the socalled Labour party was going to support, particularly paragraphs a and d of the motion, and at the same time be consistent. In the first place, it is complained that the Government has failed to reduce the cost of living. It has been amply shown in this House that the cost of those commodities which were specifically referred to during this debate is lower in Australia than anywhere else; and those commodities are primary products. The complaint set forth in paragraph d of the motion has to do with the alleged failure of the Government in regard to obtaining better prices for commodities sold overseas. It has also been shown in this Chamber that the commodities disposed of overseas, particularly our wheat, have been sold at considerably greater advantage to the Australian producer than that portion which has been disposed of at home. If there were to be a further reduction in the cost of living, enforced by the methods proposed by the extreme Opposition in this Chamber, the effect would be to disadvantage the primary producer even more than to-day. In other words, if there wereno consumptionof wheat in Australia, our primary producers would be receiving double that which they are actually getting for the portion of their wheat which is consumed within the Commonwealth. If there could be a quid pro quo between the primary producer and the other sections of the community we should have something like fair play. But since the primary producer gets no advantage in return the position is grossly unfair to him. And why is this so? Because he has not political strength enough to demand consideration. Honorable members of the extreme Opposition represent the interests of the consumer only, for they declare that after his needs are provided for, the primary producer is at liberty to get as much as he can from the other fellow.
– But is not the primaryproducer a consumer, too?
– He is prepared to pay a reasonable price, but honorable members opposite expect him to buy in the dearestmarket and sell for home consumption at a price determined by them. In this way they talk about building up a two years’ supply by a kind of confiscatory method at the expense of the producer. If those who advocate this theory would undertake to give the farmer cheaper labour, cheaper machinery, cheaper clothing, and generally cheaper living costs, as a quid pro quo the consuming public, outside the producers, would be justified in expecting Australian products at a cheaper rate. But what is the position? We cannot employ black labour, nor do we want to do that, as weare in thorough agreement with honorable members opposite in regard to the White Australia policy; but we complain that they are not with us in this principle, for they would have us work like blackfellows, and, moreover, they would, in effect, seize our property, by claiming thatwe must sell to Australian consumers at a cheaper rate than to any one else. To-day the Australian consumer is getting foodat a cheaper rate than that at which it can be produced elsewhere by black labour. Honorable members opposite must clearly understand that members of the Corner party are out to defend their interests, and as an impartial representative - I claim to be that - I say that all we desire is sound government. When I spoke first in this House I declared that this little party of oura stood for sound government, irrespective of party, and I say that while members of the Government talk in a manner to indicate that they know what the primary producer requires, they have not yet given proof of their bona fides.
Every honorable member in this House must admit that finance is the most important question for consideration to-day. The financial position of Australia is appalling, and in grappling with it honorable members should rid themselves of all party ideas, and, on behalf of the people, endeavour to get under this burden. The only thing to do is to produce more original money. Let us assume, for a moment that every honorable member of this House was possessed of £1,000 - I am not referringto their salaries - and that we locked all the doors and windows of this chamber for twelve months. At the end of that term the aggregate of the wealth would be the same, though no doubt some of the abler men might have more than others. Wow, that is just the position Australia is in. No artificial methods will gain forus the additional wealth necessary to lift thisburden from the shoulders of the people. We must keep the doors unbolted and the windows open in order to get additional original wealth, and we cannot continue to prosper unless we adopt a progressive policy.
Let me remind honorable members of the attitude adopted in America towards this grave problem. The Government of the United States of America has given serious consideration to the question of inducing more people to go upon the land. We are told -
Prices for all grains have risen sharply, and many predict a world-wide scarcity. Undoubtedly the dearth of farm labour will seriously affect the yield of the coming crop, there having been a general movement of labour to the cities throughout the country, owing to thehigher wages obtaining in tie manufacturing centres. Reports from the Argentine show an enormous demand for wheat for export at advancing prices, and there has been talk of anembargo on wheat at Argentine ports.
Wheat in the Argentine and America is 17 s.6d. per bushel, and the point I wish to make is that this is evidently the proper time to encourage our farmers to extend the area under cultivation. This isAustralia’s opportunity, as a producing country, to insure agreater output, , and thus increase the wealth so necessary to cover our national obligations. There is, as the Prime
Minister (Mr. Hughes) says, only one method by which we can retrieve the position, namely, by working and producing. To-day I heardsome honorable members opposite refer to the high rents nowprevailing. I have sympathy with those who have to pay high rents, but I cannot help thinking of the position of our farmers who are obliged to work long hoursand are expected to sell their produce for home consumption at about half the world’s price; while the worker is asking for shorter hours in erecting cottages and other works. We must recognise the great obligation that rests upon us, and endeavour to work harmoniously for the development of this country, with a full recognition of the rights of all parties. I believe that, on my property, I give more satisfaction to my men than most people, for I pay the highest wages that are going, and a bonus to my permanent men.I endeavour, in this way, to give them an interest in the farming operations.
My sympathy goes out to every man who is honest and straightforward ; but I am afraid that there is too much party feeling dividing Australia at the present time and hampering our progress. We have a splendid opportunity, now that the war is over, of getting back to those peaceful activities that will bring wealth to Australia. I have received many letters from labouring men , upon this subject. One communication is from the Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation, in relation to the Tariff. Doubtless other honorable members have received the same communication. The federation sets out the facts as they affect the miner.
-The contract miner.
– And. I suppose he is to receive no consideration?
– I did not say that.
– The letter states-
Doubtless you are aware that the proposed Tariff makes provision for an increase of 25 per cent, on explosives, made up as follows: - Intermediate Tariff, 5 per cent.; general Tariff, 10 per cent. (explosives n.e.i.) ;. and on and after 1st January, 1922. British preferential Tariff, 15 per cent.; intermediate Tariff, 20 per cent.; and general Tariff, . 25 per cent.
– On a point of order, Mr: Deputy Speaker, I draw yourattention to the £act that the honorable member is anticipating the debate, on the Tariff.
– I remind the honorable member for South Sydney that on this motion an honorable member may refer to anything.
– Not quite to anything.
– I am very glad you have given this ruling, because I shall have a few nice things to say too.
– Order ! Apparently the ruling of the Chair is misunderstood. I wish to state that on this motion an honorable member may refer to anything within the Standing Orders and rules of this House.
– The letter continues -
You will therefore see that if the Tariff becomes operative as set out, the price of explosives imported will immediately increase in price, and as the miner has to purchase the explosives, it will affect him, and not the coal-owners. Consequently, the miner is not disposed to bear the increase.
Of course, he is not disposed to bear the increase. I have had another communication from the Collie coal miners in Western Australia. There are Tariff duties on coal-cutting machines and similar appliances; and, to my mind, that is only tinkering with the most important industry we could have within our borders. It is claimed by the Miners Federation and by the Collie coal miners that these imposts increase the cost of this most important output; and yet, at the same time, the Prime Minister tells us that the only way out of our financial difficulties is to increase production, and thus create greater wealth. Is it consistent, is it statesmanship, is it wise legislation to burden the people who are asked to produce this greater wealth? Would it not be wise to afford them every opportunity to develop the industry? These questions are, to my mind, of paramount importance.
I am extremely sorry to have noticed that so much time is spent on sectarian questions in this House. I have been here for a few months now, and have heard a great deal on sectarian matters from the extreme Opposition, and I have also heard the Prime Minister speaking on the same subject. I would like to sayin the most dispassionate way that it would be just as well for us to understand each other here, on these great question?. It would be a good thing if members wove to try to differentiate spiritual religion from subjects which trench on matters which come within the jurisdiction of this House. Within recent times, people associated with the persuasion referred to more particularly, have regarded this intrusion on matters outside religion as going too far ; even co-religionists take exception to this clerical trenching on matters political. I am Australian born, and have lived here for just on fifty years, and I feel that, the Australian people desire every soul in the country to have perfect freedom in the matter of religion - desire that there shall be no trenching on the right of all to worship as they please.
– The Government is trenching now.
– No; the desire is that we shall all live peaceably together, and differentiate between that which is religion, and those other matters outside religion on which we find this trenching.
– How would you like to be cut off from the Bible in your own language 1
– I would cut no one off from the Bible. I do not say this for political aggrandizement, but in very recent years a very serious affront has been laid on me, as well as others, by a particular Church - by the introduction of the ne temere decree. Those who examine that decree closely must see that it is an affront to the clergyman of other Churches, including my own Church; and, in any case, this is a matter for those who make the laws.
– You do not know what you are talking about! Drop your preaching - your blathering about matters you do not, understand 1
– There has been too much bluff of that kind in this House, and my desire is only to speak honestly and fairly. If it is said that a marriage effected by a certain Church in Australia - a country where every one is free - is not a marriage, and that the parties live in sin, an affront is placed on the clergy of that Church, on me, and others who desire to live in peace with all men. It is loathsome to have to refer to these questions, but they have been raised in this House.
– You are raising the sectarian cry yourself now.
– I knew that would be said, but, as a matter of fact, I am speaking against sectarianism. Since i have been a member of this House the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), according to the press, has actually stood by and applauded a priest who said he would cause as much trouble as he could in Ireland and Australia until he got what he desired. What has poor Australia done that she should have so much trouble over such matters? Are those who are the cause of this trouble not judged out of their own mouths? Why should there be this cry from the honorable member? I am trying to remedy the present state of affairs if possible, and immediately I find the charge of sectarianism thrown at me. It reminds me of the days of my youth, when an elder brother frequently thought it advisable, during the course of our play, to hit me on the nose. On such occasions I would cry out very loudly in order to attract the attention of my mother, who had considerable strength; and, when I heard her footstep approaching my cries became inaudible, as I thought of the thrashing she would give my brother. However, when my brother saw the “ boot “ he immediately started yelling, and on my mother’s arrival, he accused me of having hit him, and I got the “walloping.” That seems to me to be a very fair representation of the position in regard to sectarianism.
I refer to these matters because I realize how much better it would be for the peace of this House, and the peace of Australia, if these sectarian questions were not raised. I am speaking seriously, without any feeling of hatred; I have no spirit of malice towards any living soul in the country. Many people of the Roman Catholic persuasion are my friends, and I hope to have them remain my friends. What’ I desire is that the Churches of Australia shall keep to themselves, teaching as much Christianity as possible to the people, and leaving the politicians to do the other business. This would be of infinite advantage; and we have only to read the history of other countries to learn that such intrusion on matters political has not proved of any advantage to the Churches guilty of it or to the country.
– What does the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) think of that?
– I dare say the honorable member for Wannon would not. disagree with any reasonable attitude taken up with a view to the peace and harmony of the people of Australia. I hope that every section of the community, if they have no faith or much faith, will recognise that a change in this regard would b© conducive to harmony amongst the people as a whole.
.- I rise to support the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), because its object is to remove the present Government from office. I am not concerned with what the future consequences of their removal may be. I do not care what Government may follow, because no Government could be worse than the present; and I hope that this motion may lead to an appeal to our masters, the electors.
– There are not many “hear, hears” to that sentiment 1
– I am entirely with the Leader of the Opposition in his desire that, at the earliest moment, the Parliament of Australia should face the electors, and give them an opportunity of pronouncing judgment on the Government, and also an opportunity of saying, in the light of events up to the present moment, who shall occupy the Treasury bench.
– A dissolution of both Houses ?
– Both Houses, if the honorable member likes; but I see difficulty in having a dissolution of both Chambers under the Constitution as it is while the present Government is in power. I fail to apprehend under what circumstancesthere could be such a difference of opnion between the two Houses as would lead bo a double dissolution, and until there is a Government in power with views quite different from those of the majority of members in another place, it seems to me impossible. Unless another place op-‘ poses the legislation of this House we can-‘ not have that clash which would lead to the very desirable result of sending honorable members of both places to face the electors.
I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on. the teams of his very comprehensive motion. It attacks the Government for their general incapacity, and outlines some specific chargeswhich throw the responsibility on. honorable members, not only of. saying whether they support the Government as a Government, but whether or not they support the specific propositions made under the sub-heads.
– It. is very well set out, is it not?
– I congratulate, the, Leader of the Opposition on the appropriateness of the time, he has chosen for launching this motion. It was suggested by the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) - if. I may refer to him as ‘ ‘ Acting Treasurer “ when there is no Treasurer-, and it is impossible to have a person acting for some one who does not exist - that the motion was introduced because of the pending-election at Ballarat. I need hardly say that the Labour party is in no need of adventitious aid, particularly at a by election ; the Labour party must rely on its own record of achievementon its own positive quality , and not. on the negative quality of the Government opposed to it.
– I confess I do not. go much on. Ballarat just now I
– No; the right honorable gentleman does not “go much on” Ballarat now. But the people will “ go “ a good deal “on”’ Ballarat if they have an opportunity of pronouncing judgment on the members of the House.
I’ congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on the time he has chosen for making his attack. It’ synchronises with the decision of the electors of Ballarat, for which constituency a. Labour candidate will he returned on. Saturday with a majority,I think, of. more than 1,000 votes over all opponents:. That is a fact honorable members should allow tosink: in.” The electors of Ballarat, after an experience of nearly seven months of this. Government, are able to judge it in the light of the pledges given by its members and supporters to the electors on the 13th December. . The electors are able to judge the: Government in. the light of the removal of that mass of misrepresentation with which the Government endeavoured to cloud the issue when facing the electors in December last. . The Labour party has succeeded in the Ballarat. elections against the combined opposition of the Government supporters, the Country party in the Corner, and both sections of the press.. However, I am not quarrelling with the press . In the circumstances I am very pleased! that we were opposed by both sections of the press, because it convinces me that the strength of the case for Labour was so strong- that, despite all that . opposition and despite all the attempts that were made to stir up bitterness and sectarianism, the electors, of Ballarat stood firm and gave a more pronounced decision, in favour of Labour than they had! ever given before.
-I believe that the honorable member’s party was. assisted by the tactics of the press.
– In my opinion, the electors, of Ballarat decided upon, the, strength, of the ease for Labour, and upon nothing; else.
I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) upon the time which he has chosen, for launching this) motion; because at this moment Australia is not represented on the other side of the world upon some of the most, momentous matters connected with the welfare of this country. We read in the daily press of the Spa Conference, but Australia is not represented there.
– I shall; deal: with that matter a little later. What I am concerned with now is not who is. right in the dispute between the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the late Treasurer. (Mr. Watt). I think that probably they are. both right in. their opinions of each other. At. all. events,, they ought to know each, other pretty well, by now. What I am concerned, withis the fact that at a very critical period in the. history of this country, when there are many important matters to be attended to on the otherside of the world, we are left without representation because Ministers are quarrelling with one: another. When we raised our voices against, that we weretold “This is merely a family quarrel.” But when the Prime Minister wishes to get some corroboration of his own. statement in regard not say that it is merely a family quarrel. He then says, “ I want my honor- able friends, the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country party, to edit these cables.” Why? Because he knows that the people of Australia do not trust him, and because he recognises that unless those gentlemen affirm that they have seen the cables in question, nobody will believe him.Now we are told that the trouble is “a mere family quarrel.”
– You never have a quarrel like that on your side. You are not allowed to do so.
– Because every honorable member upon this side of the chamber is. concerned with the interests of the peopleof Australia. If we have personal differences, we do not allow them to interfere with the general interests of the country.
Some very capable, comprehensive, and trenchant speeches have been delivered upon this motion by honorable members upon this side of the House. I do not intend to traverse the ground which has already been- so admirably covered by them. But I do wish to make a few observations in regard to thenature of the criticism which has emanated from the Prime Minister and from members; of the Country party. The Prime Minister’s speech was very well summed up in a leading article, published in one of the Melbourne daily newspapers to-day. In speaking of it, the Age says very pithily-
It was a loud sententious speech, designed to. give the Government a fine advertisement, to smooth down the ruffled feelings of the Country, corner and to inflame the passions which served political purposes during the war, but which now intensify the divisions amongst the people that true- Australians must neeessarily deplore. Mr. Hughes is still using Dr. Mannix as a political scarecrow, still posing as the champion of the mighty Empire which stands unshakable before all the winds that blow and in his own puny strength guarding it from destruction.
That is not my description of the speech made by the Prime Minister. It is that of the Age newspaper, and I indorse it. I have not quoted from the press which supports the Labour party, but from the press which opposed us very strongly at Ballarat.
– I thought the honorable member was going to say that hehad quoted from the press which supports us.
– I have quoted from a source which by no stretch of imagination can be said to be a supporter of the party of which I am a member.
What is the nature of the criticism which has emanated from my honorable friends of the Country party? I havelistened to the speeches of three members of that party, and if I am any judge of the nature of those deliverances, those members are not going to vote together upon this motion. But while they endeavoured to make good their own case, either intentionally or unintentionally they misrepresented the platform and programme of the Labour party. It very often happens that a wrong impression is conveyed to thepeople by the use of language which can be misunderstood, and which, if not misunderstood, can be misrepresented. It has been suggested by members of the Country party that honorable memberst upon this side of the chamber are not concerned with the interests of the primary producer. But anybody whostudies the platform of the Labour party will find that it is built upon an understanding that the interests of the producer and consumer are identical, that the natural allies to form any party are the producer and the consumer, eliminating the middleman. I want to remove any misapprehension that may exist in the minds of honorable members as to. what our attitude is upon this matter..
– Why does the censure motion complain only of conditions overseas.
– The motion was evidently well considered by the leader of the Opposition, because it covers not only the sales of Australian products overseas, butalso what has happened within the borders of Australia.. The honorable member for Yarra charges, the Government with general incapacity. Itis for every honorable member to say whether or not he can support the charge. But I wish. to deal now with the positive programme of the Labour party rather than with the sins of the Government. I repeat that the programme and platform of the Labour party is based upon a recognition that the interests of the producer and consumer areidentical.The producer and the consumer are natural allies, andthe middleman, whom members on the Treasury bench represent, is the common enemy of both. My honorable friends in the Country corner have shown by theirstatement of their own case that their party is not fitted to hold the reins of government in this country. Can any party claim to govern the country which, upon its own confession, represents only a section of the people ? The Leader of the party (Mr. Mcwilliams), the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) have affirmed that they represent the primary producer only and not the consumer. They have declared that the Labour party represents the consumer. I say that we represent both the producer and the consumer, who are natural allies.
– The honorable member says that, but he does not prove it.
– I say it, because our platform and programme show it. No party can claim the right to govern Australia unless it stands for the interests both of the producer and the consumer. On their own statement of their case, the members of the Country party do not pretend that they stand for the consumer. They stand only for the man on the land whereas the Labour party stands for both. There are many members of our party who represent the primary producing interests of this country. Any honorable member may run through the list himself. There is the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls), the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Lavelle), the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), and others. They are the living evidence that the primary producers of this country recognise that the Labour party stands for the interests of the producer and consumer alike. It is very important that the people of Australia should understand that the basic foundation upon which our programme is built is a sound one. We show it in our platform and our programme. But members of the Country party do not claim to stand for the interests of the people in the city as well as of those in the country.
– We claim to benefit all.
– Just a word or two in regard to the misrepresentations that have come from members of the Country party.
– I have followed the remarks of the honorable member very closely, and I would like him- to show me, under paragraphs a and 6 of the censure motion, exactly how the Labour party stands towards the primary producers. Those paragraphs are in direct conflict with each other.
– That is where the honorable member is wrong. They ‘ive not in conflict. The producers of the country can be treated unfairly, and so also can the consumers. The producers of Australia have been treated unfairly by the Government in that they have not obtained an adequate return for their ‘ primary products which were sold overseas. That is quite a consistent attitude to take up. in a country which produces a large quantity of the necessaries of life. It is only just, however, that those who live in that country should be able to purchase the commodities which it produces at a reasonable price, which at the same time will allow a fair return to the producer. We require prices which give a fair return to the producer, and provide the consumer with commodities at a reasonable price. What is the position to-day ? The honorable member for Cook (Mr. J. H. Catts) stated during the course of his speech that we were exporting certain necessary commodities to foreigners at a cheaper price than they are being sold to the- people of Australia.
– He said so, but it is not true.
– He said so, and it is true.
– It is not true.
– Jam, at 5d. per lb.
– What is being supplied at cheaper rate ?
– At the present moment, meat, which is lying in our cool stores, has been sold under an Imperial contract at 4£d. for beef, and 6Jd. for lamb, but is being released for public consumption inAustralia at a higher price.
– At an increase of1/8d. per lb.
– A much higher price.
– Those are the official figures.
– I want honorable members on the corner benches to understand that it is a much higher price, and that these are things ofwhichwe complain.
– Is the honorable member jn favour of breaking a contract already entered into ?
– No; but I desire to see the people of Australia secure the meat at as cheap a price as that at which it is placed f . o.b. for shipment overseas. All I am concerned with at this moment is to see that the party to which I belong is neither misunderstood nor misrepresented, if I can prevent it. Our friends on the corner benches, whether they mean it or not, are misrepresenting us.
– We have no desire to misrepresent you.
– The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) may have no desire to misrepresent us, and his vote on one or two occasions has indicated that. Perhaps there are one or two members of the Country party who are prepared, to assist us. We call honorable members occupying the corner benches the members of a party, but we find that when the division bells are rung there is usually a sufficient number of those honorable members on that side of the chamber to keep this middleman Government in power.
– This is a powerful attack on London parity.
Several honorable members interjecting ,
– Order! I ask the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) to resume his seat. I have on several occasions called for order, and immediately after doing so other interjections have followed. I have already called the attention of the House to this highly disorderly practice, and I am sorry to see that, perhaps inadvertently, a Minister of the’ Crown is one of the offenders.
– Mr. Speaker is very fond of rebuking honorable members.
– Order ! I again ask the honorable member for West Sydney to resume his seat. It is my duty to call the attention of the House to another important matter, and that is that the presiding officer in this chamber cannot be expected to maintain order unless he is supported by the Government, to which he has to look to to take the necessary action if his directions are not carried out. If the Minister in charge of the business breaks the rules and ignores the Speaker’s appeal to maintain the Standing Orders, the position becomes intolerable. If I cannot receive that support the time has certainly arrived when I shall have to seriously consider my position.’
– Mr. Speaker, may I express regret for any irregular action of mine? I think I proved to-day that I am always willing to support the Chair.
– After this very interesting little interlude, I shall proceed, and I hope honorable members in the corner benches will not think I am directly attacking them. I am merely endeavouring to make my own position clear, and, incidentally, to make some passing comments concerning my view of their position.
In considering the charge levelled by the Leader of the Opposition, which is one of general incapacity, with specific sub-heads, it is necessary, particularly in view of what I hope will be the final result - a general election in the not distant future - to seriously consider the record of the Government. What is their war record? I have said on previous occasions that this Government have failed in their duty in every important particular in connexion with the carrying on of the war. We need only revert to the question of conscription, and recall the turmoil that was brought about on that occasion. We. know that the policy of conscription really interfered with the efficiency of Australia during the war period. We know how the Government broke pledges, and how they said they would not be able to carry on unless they possessed certain powers. Shortly before the last general election the Prime Minster said that unless the Government were granted those powers he would not carry on as Prim* Minister. But he is still carrying on, merely because honorable members of this House allow him .to do so. We cannot .shirk our responsibilities in this matter, and I propose to show how the action of the Government is affecting our position overseas, and particularly our credit. We know that Australia, through the failure of the ‘Government to do their duty during the war period, expended over £200,000,’000 more than its fair share .in comparison with other overseas Dominions. Why should that be?
– This is all old stuff.
– It is well to remind the Acting Treasurer of the facts, because Australia to-day is heavily in debt, and .that is why taxation is mounting up. The Government failed, and they are continuing to fail, and I shall say 1 something new directly which, perhaps, the Acting Treasurer will not care to hear. We know of the great losses that were incurred .owing to the absence of business methods in this connexion with contracts for the construction of -wooden ships in America. We know .the losses the producers suffered owing to Australian produce being sold at lower prices in Britain than in other portions of the Empire, partly in .consequence of the loose contracts made .over the cables. The Prime Minister produced -some of the cables and said that they did not embody loose contracts. Lf they were not loose, why was the late Treasurer (Mr. Watt) sent to Britain to adjust our accounts’?
– Why did the honorable member say “ some of the cables “ ‘?
– The honorable member perhaps knows why I have used that expression. I am now referring to the cables in connexion with certain contracts.
During the war period the Government deprived Australian citizens of their rights by carrying on a system of petty tyranny under the War Precautions Act, and which they are still doing. Every honorable member who casts his vote in support of the Government is responsible for the manner in which the WaT Precautions Act has been administered. ‘The Government allowed the ‘profiteer to wax rich -while “prices ‘were soaring higher ‘and higher. We know also of the misrepresentation which led to this Government being returned to power at the last election1. I do not wish to go into that- subject in regard to myself or to the State of Queensland, as I think on previous occasions I have answered the charges that have been made from time to time. The State of Queensland was supposed to be on the verge of ruin under the Labour regime; but it is well to remember that on the day after the last Federal election the Queensland Government floated J” a loan in London that was nearly twice, oversubscribed. The’ balance-sheet of Queensland on the 30th of June this year shows a surplus of £28,000. whilst New South Wale3 as a result of Liberal government has shown a deficit of £1,800,000. We know this Government is in office by deceiving the people and by misrepresenting the Labour party. Since the Government have been returned to office they have continued with the same old methods and the same old policy. They are still allowing the profiteer to go on unchecked, and the Prime Minister - who was going to resign if his referendum proposals were not carried - still says that he has not the power to check profiteering. I have on previous occasions pointed out that these powers are possessed by this Parliament, and that it can deal with profiteering. The authority is contained in section 51 of the Constitution, and the two main points relate to census statistics and taxation. By using those powers the Government could make profiteering unprofitable.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad to hear the interjection of the honorable member for Franklin. If the Government are in a position to move, why do they not do so ?
Honorable members should recall that when the Judiciary Bill was about to come before the House for discussion I gave notice of a proposed amendment to the second reading of the Bill which I would like recorded. I moved -
That all the words after ‘“That “ he omitted, with a view to inserting the following in place thereof.: - “in consequence of the exploitation of the people of Australia by profiteering and of the urgent necessity of dealing therewith, the Bill be now withdrawn for the purpose of introducing 12,1, .the .earliest possible moment more comprehensive measures which will confer all necessary jurisdiction and powers of investigation on the High Court of Australia and other existing Courts for the enforcement thereof, and which for the purposes of exercising the powers contained in the Constitution will provideinteraliafor -
requiringstatistics ofthe cost of production of all goods manufactured in Australia and of the landed cost of all goods imported into Australia.
requiring statistics of the profits accruing to trading corporations or derived from Inter-State shipping and of the rate of profit on the capital actually employed therein respectively;
penalties of fine and imprisonment for refusal to furnish such statistics, or for wilfully making false returns;
all purposes incidental to the above.
The Government immediately dropped the Bill down the business-paper,and we have not got near it since. Why was that done? Because honorable members keeping the Government in. power allowed it to be done. Why do not they try this proposal? Because they do not wish to control profiteering. Those who provide them with the sinews of war, with the funds that enable them to continue their misrepresentations in the press, and to send out all the electioneering matter that is published, will not permit them to do it.
– All that information is being got now by the States. There are Commissions sitting.
– I am prepared to leave the matterto the judgment of the people. If the honorable member thinks that he can deceive the people with an interjecion of that sort, he fails to appreciate the intelligence of the general public. My proposal asks for specific statistics, and for specific punishment for any failure to make returns, or for making false returns. It would enable the public to see the cost of every imported and every locally manufactured article, and thus each individual could protect himself, because he would know whether he was being profiteered against, and thestrong arm of the law could make profiteering impossible. Federation was brought about to secure uniformity of action incertain matters. It would be detrimental to some industries if one State could take one set of steps to deal with a matter, and another take different steps, or no steps at all.
– That consideration did not deter the honorable member:
– The honorable member knows well that in Queensland very effec tive steps were taken to cope with profiteering, in the interest of consumer and producer alike. But let us not be drawn from the main point, which is this, that the Commonwealth Parliament has the power to deal with this matter, and is not dealing with it. It is our duty to make that clear to the public. We know that, during the war, the Commonwealth Government had power under the War Precautions Act to do what was needed. Did Ministers use it ? We know that they did not. They are still using the Act to interfere with the liberty of the subject, but they will not use it to interfere with their friends the profiteers-. The responsibility for this inaction rests upon every member who supports the Government, just as the responsibility for the extravagant expenditure that is going on also rests upon them. What steps have been taken by the Government to secure economy ? Have any been taken ? None. Has our expenditure on defence been reduced?
– Do not look at me, because I am not allowed to answer.
– My honorable friend has control of the Treasury, but members individually are responsible, because they allow the Government to remain in power. There is only one way in which they Can effectively deal with the Government, and that is by voting against them..
There is a particular instance to which I am going to refer to show how the liberty of the subject is still being interfered with under the War Precautions Act. I want to sheet it home to: honorable members opposite that it is within their power to prevent this. I appeared not long ago, or endeavoured to appear, in Sydney, for a certain reverend gentleman, whom it was proposed to deport. I am not going to trench on any matter that is before the Court; or likely to come before the Court ; thei matters I shall refer to are not within the ambit of questions that come before theCourt in this case. A make-believe inquiry - I use the term advisedly - was ordered. No representation was allowed, although I claimed that my client had the right to be represented by counsel. I waa not allowed to examine orcross-examine anybody. There was no charge laid, though. I claimed that there should be a specific charge, and that it should be tried before a jury. I was graciously allowedtosit and listen tothe evidence.
– I ask the honorable member not to pursue the subject. Although he is not mentioning names, it is evident that he is referring to a case which I have ruled should not be discussed now, on account of it still being the subject of further court proceedings.
– What I am referring to does not come within any of the matters that have been sub judice.
– If the honorable member assures me that he is not referring to a case to which I have ruled he is not in order to refer, I shall be glad to hear him.
– I give you my personal assurance that the matters I am referring to have never been the subject-matter of a decision by a Court, and that they have never been brought before a Court for the purposes of a decision, although, they are connected with the case which came before the Court.
– Are they matters in connexion with the writ that has been issued .
– They are not. The writ that has been issued has to do with ascertaining whether the Commonwealth Executive has power to do a certain thing, namely, now that the war is over, to deport. The question whether it has that power has nothing to do with the manner in which it exercises it, assuming that it has the power. I am assuming that Ministers have thepower. No opportunity was given to me to cross-examine witnesses. I was allowed to listen to the evidence that was given, every tittle of which was in favour of the reverend gentleman whom it was proposed to deport. I have challenged the Government to place the evidence on the table, and they have refused to do so. Are honorable members going to allow that sort of thing to continue!
– For the last few minutes the honorable member has been discussing the Father Jerger case, which it is not within the province of this Parliament to discuss at present, as you, Mr. Speaker, well ruled this afternoon. Is it in order to set aside your ruling, and to discuss the case again, while it is pending in the Law Courts?
– If the facts are as the Minister has stated them to be, the honorable member’s remarks are not in order, but I interrupted the honorable member to ask him specifically if he was referring to that case, and I had his positive assurance that he was not doing so. I must accept the honorablemember’s word. He having given me the assurance that he is not referring to that particular matter, I must accept his statement.
– I should like you, sir, to be quite clear as to what my assurance is. It is that I am not referring to any matter in connexion with the Reverend Father Jerger that came before the Courts.
– I didnot understand that to be the honorable member’s assurance. If the honorable member is alluding to the reverend gentleman whose case is still pending for further reference to a higher judicial tribunal, I can only say that it is not advisable that he should do so. I understood his assurance to be that he was not referring to that gentleman in any way in the remarks he was making. If he was doing so, I must ask him not to continue to do so.
– Of course, sir, I have every respect for your suggestion, butI should like to impress upon you - and I am sure you will appreciate my motive in doing so - that it would be very unfortunate if, because some pure legal question is raised in a Court, for that reason the whole conduct of the Executive in connexion with a matter which is not being litigated in any Court at all, and has nothing to do with the questions before the Court, should be prohibited from being discussed. I will give you, sir, an illustration of what I mean.
– Order ! I really must ask the honorable member to desist. It is quite clear that I cannot permit him to raise a matter which I ruled to be out of order when raised in another way by a different honorable member. No reference to the reverend gentleman whose name was mentioned this afternoon, whether directly or indirectly, in connexion with a case that is sub judice can be permitted in the course of this debate. I therefore again ask the honorable member under the circumstances existing at the present time not to make any further reference to the matter.
– The question is so important that I very regretfully have to say that I must give notice that your ruling be disagreed with. I will do that at the proper time.
– It must be done now.
– It would be much more graceful if you, sir, would admit that you were wrong this afternoon, and let the discussion go on now.
– The honorable member must know that the Speaker is never wrong.
– There is no merit in obstinacy.
– The honorable member forWest Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has given notice of his intention to move -
That Mr. Speaker’s ruling be disagreed to on the ground that reference to the inquiry before Sir Robert Garran in the Father Jerger case and the conduct ofthe Executive in connexion with that inquiry are proper subjects for discussion in Parliament.
The debate on the motion will stand adjourned until the next day of sitting.
– I regret the interruption, but in deference to your ruling, sir. I pass on from the subject to which I was referring to the general conduct of the Executive in regard to deportations. It is not only in one case that the Executive have dealt unfairly with persons to be deported. I should be very sorry to confine my remarks to any one particular case. I say that since the war the Executive of the Commonwealth have deported quite a large number of persons, who lived for many years in Australia, without according them the right, which I say they have, to a trial before a jury of their countrymen. Honorable members opposite by allowing the present Government to remain in power are allowing them to set aside the provisions of Magna Charta.
– Magna Charta does not provide for aliens at all.
– Chapter 39 of Magna Charta provides that : -
Nullus liber homo capiatur, vel imprisonetur, aut disseisiatur, aut utlageatur, aut exuletur, aut aliquo modo destruatur, nec super eum ibimus, nec super eum mittemus, nisi per legale judicium parium suorum vel per legem terre.
No freeman shall be arrested, or detained in prison, or deprived of his freehold, or outlawed, or banished, or in any way molested; and we will not set forth against him, nor send against him, unless by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land.
That provision was wrested from King John in 1215 by the people of England. Here we are, in 1920, violating it. That waa inserted in the laws of England because King John had been going on with a system of what was known in Scotland as “Jedburgh justice,” which is graphically described in the lines -
I oft have heard of Lydford law,
How in the morn they hang and draw, And sit in judgment after.
Ever since then, it has been claimed that it is one of the bulwarks of British liberty that every one should have the right to trial by a jury upon a specific charge. Do honorable members think that it is a fair thing that, on some vague ground, persons who appeal to them as Britishers to give them a trial and make some definite charge against them should be deported from this country? Honorable members opposite refuse to do so, because each and every one of the supporters of the Government is as responsible for what is taking place in this connexion as is the Minister who actually signs the’ order for deportation. I hope that honorable members opposite will realize their responsibility. The matter is one of great seriousness, apart from the appeal to the conscience of honorable members, and quite apart from any consideration of their position in the different electorates.
I have just one or two words to say with regard to the position that obtains overseas. Australia is without representation because of internal differences in the Government.
– Have we not a High Commissioner in London?
– We have a High Commissioner there in the person of Mr. Andrew Fisher; and why is he not representing Australia at Spa? Why is he not sent there? Is it not because of the failure of the Government to send him there ?
– It is because he is too ill to go there.
– We have not been told that; but some disclosures have been made in the speech of the Prime Minister in which he placed certain cables on the table of this House. He referred to the fact that the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) had resigned on several previous occasions. He said that he had tendered his resignation in writing. Why did he Tesign on those previous occasions? Was it because the Government was over-spending?
– Was it because the Government was allowing Australia to do more than her fair share compared with what was being done by other portions of the Empire? Was it because of these loose contracts ? The Postmaster-General says “ No.”
– I said “ No “ in reply to the honorable member’s inquiry as to whether the resignation was due to our spending more than our fair share on the war.
– The Postmaster-General is able to tellme that over-spending was not the reason. Will he say whatwas the reason ? He is silent. It is obvious that the interests of Australia were neglected because members of the Cabinet were wrangling amongst themselves. The then Treasurer (Mr. Watt) was writing out his resignation for the Prime Minister. Why should we not be given the grounds for that resignation? Why do we not demand to be given them ?
– Wait till the ex-Treasurer (Mr. Watt) comes back. Then we shall have more light on the subject.
-I am more concerned with the present than with the future. We ought to be told here and now why the ex-Treasurer tendered his resignation on previous occasions. Why have we to wait until the ex-Treasurer returns from the other side of the world ? We know that our interests over there are now being neglected. We have had some evidence produced by the Prime Minister, but he does not show us all the documents. If the ex-Treasurer’s resignation was in writing, did he not state the grounds for it ? What are they ? Are not honorable members sufficiently interested in the matter to wish to know what they are?
There were some other disclosures made by the Prime Minister in his speech dealing with the resignation of the exTreasurer concerning which I also wish to know something. I. wish to have that information, not when the ex-Treasurer returns, but now. The right honorable gentleman referred to the Nauru Island agreement. He said that but for the action of the Cabinet while he was in London, a better agreement with regard to Nauru Island could have been obtained by him.
– And that be would have saved £1,500,000.
– And that he would have saved £1,500,000. Why are not the cablegrams relating to that matter produced? Why did the Prime Minister spend that £1,500,000 if he could have avoided doing so. All these are questions to which the people of Australia require atnswers.
– What was the honorable member’s statement inregard to a saving of £1,500,000?
– I said that the Prime Minister stated in this House when referring to the resignation of the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) from the office of Treasurer, that the Cabinet in Melbourne, with Mr. Watt at its head at the time, so interfered with him in London that he was unable to secure in regard to Nauru as good an agreement as he could otherwise have obtained.
– But the honorable member said something more than that.
– I took up an interjection by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) which I indorsed, that but for this interference an agreement could have been made on better terms to the extent of £1,500,000.
– That is to say, we could have got everything for nothing?
– That is what the Prime Minister said.
– He made no such statement.
– The Prime Minister clearly stated in this House that but for the interference of the Cabinet here he could have got a better agreement in regard to Nauru.
– The honorable member is now “back-pedalling.”
– I am not. The Prime Minister made that statement, and I want to know what better agreement he could have obtained. The people of Australia are interested in tho matter.Why did not the Prime Minister stick to his guns?
– Show me any record of a statement made by him that he could have made an agreement on better terms to the extent of £1,500,000.
– He said that, but for the aotion of the Cabinet here, he could have obtained much better terms. If the Prime Minister and the ex-Treasurer had not fallen out, the people of Australia would not have known that their interests had been sacrificed in this way.
I shall deal with another phase of the Nauru Island agreement, concerning which the Acting Treasurer may have more information. It is stated in the press that Australia’s share of the payment to he made under the Nauru Island agreement has been handed over. I want to know under what authority that payment has been made. Is it under the authority of Parliament?
– Then, under what authority has it been made? We are told in the press that a sum of about £1,500,000 has been paid over, and has been paid without the authority of this Parliament. No provision was made for it on the Estimates. What have our friends of the Corner party to say to this? The authority to make the payment is not contained in the Nauru Island Agreement Act. That Act does not make the amount a charge on the Consolidated Revenue, and yet it has been paid over to a private company. When the Bill was before the House the PrimeMinister said, as reported in Hansard of 24th September, 1919, page 12680-
If I gave too low a figure I should mislead the House, and if I gave a figure higher than that which it is worth, it would be used by the company in the proceedings before the arbitrator, or in their negotiations with the Secretory of State. I did, however, mention a figure to the Secretary of State, beyond which we are not prepared to go without consultation. If the matter comes down to a direct affair, and is not referred to arbitration, that figure, of course, will be presented to this Parliament, which can express its own opinion on it.
That amount, we are informed, was agreed upon; but the question of its payment was never brought before the Parliament. Parliament has been flouted. The money was paid over by the Acting Treasurer without reference to the Parliament. And members of Parliament, who have the responsibility of watching over the expenditure of the country read ofthis transaction in the daily press. That is where we get our information. It is given to us, not on the floor of this House; not on the Estimates, but in the morning press.
– What satisfaction did I get when I addressed a question to the Prime Minister on the subject?
– As usual, none at all, I dare say.
– I was told that the matter was being considered.
– There are some points in regard to the Nauru Island that I should like to have explained. The whole business . relating to it is very unsatisfactory. I notice that a company has been formed in Sydney, and has something to do with Nauru. We should like to know all about it. For what are we here? What are honorable members of the Corner party here to do? Are we to remain silent day after day, and allow these things to be done? Are we to remain silent when no information is given to us concerning them ? When we on this side of the House try to bring these facts forward some honorable members of the Corner party say that we are only wasting time. Am I wasting time in demanding in formation as to these matters ? I ask for it not in my own interests, but in the interests of the people as a whole.
It is the duty of Parliament to check Governments, to control Executives,. But this Ministry during the war got into the way of being not a Government of a number of men, but a one-man Government. And that sort of thing is still going on. What is the use of prating about the control exercised by Parliament? Cannot the people see that, under existing circumstances we have no control, and that the fault rests with ourselves? We have no control over the Government because we do not demand our rights. What would any honorable member opposite say to one of his constituents if he were asked a question in regard to the Nauru Island deal ? What would he know about it ? He would have to confess that he knew nothing. And yet honorable members opposite allow the business of the country to be carried on in this way? What as the effect of allowing to remain in office a Government that has over and over again made solemn pledges, and over and over again has broken them. After all that Australia has done in this war, the hundreds of millions of pounds she has spent in connexion with it, the sacrifice of many noble lives - 60,000 of the flower of her youth lie dead on the fields of Gallipoli, Palestine, and France - after all these things, because of the record of this Government, when Mr. Watt, as Treasurer, went Home, he was told: “ If you do not pay up £8,500,000, we will post you as a defaulter in the House of Commons.” There is our return, because a wrong impression has been given in England of the people of this country by allowing to remain in power a Government that can make and break pledges from day to day. Still they go on, and they tell us nothing. The effect in this country is to increase our difficulties, to pile up taxation, and yet we still allow them to go on. The responsibility is individually upon each and all of us. Parties will be judged on how they vote as parties. This is a great question, whether the Government is to remain in power or not. I would suggest to my honorable friends in the Ministerial corner that it does not look well to have the Government saved time and again by a sufficient number of their party voting for the Government.
– They have regulated it this time.
– I do not know whether they have or not, but the fact remains that, the Government is continuing in power by the support of some of my honorable friends sitting in the Ministerial corner. The responsibility is theirs. I hope that each member will do his duty, so that our masters, the people of Australia, will know, when the division bells ring and members take their places, where each of us stands, and will be able to pass judgment upon us when the time comes to do so.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Stewart) adjourned, and ordered to take precedence of all other business.
House adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 July 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1920/19200715_reps_8_92/>.