10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 2.45 p.m., and read prayers.
Presentation to the Governor-General.
– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I this day waited uponHis Excellency the Governor-General and presented to him the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s speechon the opening of Parliament agreed to by the House on the 14th instant. His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply : -
Mr. Speaker and Gentlemen, ;
I receive with much pleasure the Address which has been adopted by the House of Representatives in reply to the speech which I delivered on the occasion of the opening of the first session of the Tenth Parliament of the Commonwealth, and I thank you for your expression of loyalty to His Majesty the King.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has received any communication of interest to the Government of the State of New South Wales. I notice that the firm of Leggo and Company, which has removed its business from Ben digo to Melbourne, intends to establish a business in Sydney, and so avail itself of the benefits of the 44-hour week which has been adopted in that State.
– The reply to the honorable member is in the negative.
– It was generally understood, in this House, that the sale by prospectors of mining leases would be free of income taxation. I am in possession of correspondence in which the Deputy Commissioner for Western Australia insists that sales of mining leases axe subject to taxation under section 16a, dealing with businesses generally. I. ask the Treasurer whether, as a matter of fact, the sale of mining leases by prospectors, or thosewho assist prospectors, is free of income taxation as indicated by the Government some time ago.
– The practice of the department is to exempt sales of mining leases from income taxation. If there are any specific cases in which the regulation dealing with the matter has been contravened, I shall look into them if the honorable member will bring them under my notice.
– Will the Minister for
Defence be good enough to say whether the negotiations for the handing over of the Randwick Rifle Range to the New South Wales Government have been completed, and, if so, what are the conditions of the transfer?
SirNEVILLE HOWSE.- The negotiations are not yet complete. If the honorable member will put bis question on the notice-paper I shall secure the information he desires.
Sale of Expropriated Properties
– Some time ago catalogues were issued for the sale of expropriated properties in the Mandated Territory. I ask the Treasurer ifhe will see that they are made available in the Territory as soon as possible?
– Catalogues for the sales have been issued. Some have been sent to the Expropriation Board, and toRabaul, to enable intending purchasers there to acquaint themselves with the conditions proposed.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs intimate to the House when it is expected that the Tariff Board will have completed its investigations into the proposal to grant a Commonwealth bounty on raw cotton, and when its report will be made available?
– I am unable to be so specific as the honorable member asks, but for his information I may say that the Tariff Board is now in Brisbane making the necessary inquiries into the subject.
– In view of the possibility of the introduction into the Commonwealth of a substance commonly described as synthetic wool, and its use in combination with wool, will the Minister for Trade and Customs see that the resultant product is not marketed as pure wool ?
– The question has the right ring about it. I shall investigate the matter, and reply later to the honorable member.
Mr.FORDE. - As four representatives of Victoria in this chamber are members of the Cabinet, and as Queensland has over half the population of Victoria, with no Cabinet representative sitting in this House, will the Prime Minister reconstruct the Cabinet to give Queensland at least half the representation of Victoria ?
– I am afraid that I can hold out no hope whatever to the honorable member.
– A committee of the League of Nations has recommended the abolition of passports, and I understand that it has communicated with various governments asking that some means of identification other than passports be used. Does the Minister for Home and Territories favour that suggestion, or does he intend to continue the obnoxious system of issuing passports?
– I can assure the honorable member that the Home and Territories Department is keeping in touch with the work of the League of Nations. The issue of passports is, of course, governed by the attitude of other nations, and we can act only in conformity with them.
– In view of the statement in the press this morning concerning the Commonwealth Shipping Line and its continual heavy losses, is it the intention of the Government to reconsider the position of that line at an early date, and, if so, will honorable members have an opportunity of discussing it?
– It is not customary for a government, in reply to questions, to announce its proposed policy, but I assure the honorable member that this House will have all proper opportunity to discuss any action that is contemplated by the Government.
– As a large number of electors who did not record their votes at the recent elections are being communicated with by the Electoral Department - I will not say that they are being threatened with prosecution - and as it was the first occasion on which the people of Australia were’ compelled to vote, will the Government deal lightly with them?
– Perhaps they will be treated as first offenders.
– The correspondence that is taking place will cost a considerable sum of money, and to save this expenditure, will the Government announce its intention not to prosecute on this occasion, but to rigorously enforce the law in the future?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will receive consideration. I assure him that the laws of this country will be enforced by the Government with due consideration to the circumstances.
“BUNCHY TOP” DISEASE.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it intended to discontinue the publication of the Historical Records of Australia? If so, Why?
– This matter is at present the subject of negotiation with Dr. F. Watson.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the. Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he can give growers of apples any information concerning the action the Government proposes to take with regard to the attitude of the British Government in reference toarsenic on apples?
– The Government has already made representations to the Imperial Government in the matter, and is to-day in receipt of the following cable from the High Commissioner : -
Arsenic on apples -Governor-General’s telegram to Secretary of State dated 23rd January. Have seen MacFadden - statement attributed to him distorted. He says that no alterations have been made as to percentage of arsenic which will condemn fruit. Royal Commission arsenic in foodstuffs 1903 recommended that anything above one-hundreth grain per pound should be considered deleterious.This recommendation has become officially recognized - no proposed alteration. Examination of apples has been made on this basis for many years past, but probable that examination more or less perfunctory. Scare cause by finding excessive percentage of arsenic on American apples, and successful prosecution of retailers will lead to examination in the future being very much more stringent, also fruit passed by port medical authorities is not exempt from subsequent examination by local health authorities. Analyses of American fruit have shown large proportion of arsenic deposit occurring stalk and calyx. Trouble being accentuated by press publicity.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Attitude of Queensland Government
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The agreement has not been signed on behalf of Queensland. Correspondence is now taking place between that State and the Commonwealth in regard to the matter.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– The answersto the honorable member’s questions areas follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Mr.HILL. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Yes.
Mr.FORDE asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has he read the following newspaper paragraph dealing with the proposed assistance to prospecting throughout Australia: - “The Australian Gold Producers’ Committee wants a competent Royal Commission to investigate the matter as suggested by the Commonwealth Board of Trade before the elections”?
What action does the Government intend to take in regard to the matter?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Political Rights - Advertisement of Vacancies
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr.BRUCE. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it proposed to call for applications by public advertisement for the vacant positions of Director of Migration, and Publicity Director, in connexion with the Dried Fruits Export Control Board?
– So far as the position of Director of Migration is concerned, the matter is under consideration. At present there is no such position as that mentioned in the concluding portion of the question.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of his election pledges that he would take the necessary steps to bring about new States, will he indicate to the House what action the Government proposes to take to giveeffect to the promises he made to New Staters?
– It is not thepractice, in reply to questions, to outline matters of Government policy such as inthe case under notice.
asked the Postmaster- - General, upon notice -
Whether he will inquire into the extension . of high-tension electric lighting services into country districts so that in future the users of telephone services, particularly longdistance services, may not be seriously inconvenienced, as has been the case with the Adelaide to Mannum service for some months past?
– It is the practice of the department to take measures to prevent interference to its telephone trunk lines by power transmission services along, the same route. Inquiries will be made into the particular case to which the honorable member refers.
Reportof Anglo-Persian Oil Company
– On the 21st January the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr.. Makin) asked the. following question : -
Will the reports on the Anglo-Persian Oil Company for November and December, dealing with the exploration for oil in Papua, be laid upon the table of the House or Library ?
I now lay on the table of the House a copy of the report of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company for November. The report for December will be made available when received.
Motion (by Mr. Mark) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-192.1, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for its investigation and report thereon, i.e.. Selection of site and construction of wharf at Rabaul, Territory of Nnw Guinea, and
That the committee have leave to meet whilst the House is sitting-
Bill presented by Mr. Latham, and read a first time.
– (By leave.) - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The first portion of the bill embodies proposals for amendments of the criminal law which have been found necessary from time to time, and I intend to. leave those clauses to the committee stage, and to confine my second-reading speech to the more important issues dealt with in Part IIa. The provisions in that part represent an endeavour by the Government to obey a clear and definite mandate of the people, authenticated and emphasized by one of the greatest ministerial majorities in the history of this Parliament. Any suggestion to the contrary is sufficiently answered by a comparison of the number of honorable members sitting in opposition with that on this side of the chamber. The mandate of the people was clear and unmistakable. When the Prime Minister went before t.he electors of Australia he said -
The Ministry is determined to defeat the nefarious designs of the extremists in our midst, and, armed with the mandate of the people, will take all necessary steps to accomplish this end. Although under our Constitution there is a King’s peace of the Commonwealth which co-exists side by side with the King’s peace within each of the States, up to this date in the history of Australia there has been little need for the Commonwealth to take action for its preservation. Generally speaking, the authorities and laws of the States have been adequate to deal with what may be generally regarded as breaches of the King’s peace. Recent happenings have clearly demon strated the existence of actions prejudicial to the peace of the Commonwealth. The time has now arrived when the Commonwealth Parliament Bould exercise its powers and pass effective legislation to deal with offences against the peace of the Commonwealth, including action against those persons who are actively engaged in associations and propaganda work having as their object the overthrow of the Constitution, interference with Commonwealth activities, resistance to its laws, and generally taking part in unlawful action for the purpose of subverting external and internal commerce and intercourse in Australia.
He concluded his policy speech with the statement : -
The paramount issue in this campaign is the ‘ maintenance of law and order, and the supremacy of constitutional government.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– I am indeed pleased to observe the unanimous approval of that sentiment, and accordingly claim the support of honorable members sitting on both sides of the House for the general principles which the bill embodies. An inquiry into the position that was taken up by honorable members of the Opposition immediately prior to and during the recent election campaign justifies my claim for their support. It is true that before the dissolution of the last Parliament, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) issued a challenge to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to go to the country.
– A challenge which the right honorable gentleman did not accept.
– The Leader of the Opposition challenged the Prime Minister to go to the country upon this issue - the enforcement of Commonwealth law. The honorable gentleman’s challenge was issued during . the ‘ discussion, in this House, of the Peace Officers Bill. That bill contained merely proposals for the appointment of agents of the Commonwealth to enforce its laws. The Prime Minister went to the country, and with the result of his appeal we are now well acquainted.
– That is a wilful distortion of the facts.
– There is no doubt that the challenge was made during the debate on the Peace Officers Bill. There is no doubt, either, that the only object of the bill was the enforcement of the laws of the Commonwealth. It cannot be denied that the challenge was accepted ; and there can be no disputing the result of the election.
– The Prime Minister did not accept the challenge until the Country party had declined to support him further.
– When it went before the people, the Opposition found itself in a somewhat difficult position. It balanced itself, rather precariously, between two different propositions. The first proposition was that there was no necessity for special legislation, or for action of a special character. That is substantially the matter with which I have to deal this afternoon, and I am prepared to accept the onus that is laid upon me. I shall endeavour to convince this House with evidence that there is need for action of the nature provided for in this bill. During the election campaign the contention of the Opposition that there was no need for action was rather discounted by several events, which had unfortunate effects upon the public, and which proved particularly disastrous to the prospects of Labour candidates : I refer to the happenings at Fremantle, Cairns, and Gladstone. Those events furnished evidence sufficient to satisfy the people that there was need for action in the direction provided for in the’ bill. The alternative proposition of the Opposition was that the Government was making, or intended to make, an insidious attack upon trade unionism, and upon the workers of Australia generally.
– There is no doubt about that.
– The weakness of the Opposition. . in this House today is a sufficient answer to that charge, because it indicates the opinion of the workers of Australia. No Government can hold power in this Commonwealth if it is not supported by a tremendous body of workers and a large number of trade unionists. It is absolutely impossible for. a party to be returned to this House if it is to a large extent opposed by the workers of Australia. The suggestion that is sometimes made, that certain honorable members who sit here and are at present in the majority, represent some mythical interests that are occasionally designated by the name “Fat,” is entirely unfounded. There cannot be the slightest justification for making such a charge in a country that enjoys adult suffrage.
During the election campaign the Opposition also claimed that it was a party of law and order. I understand that it still makes that claim.
– We do not claim it; we are.
– Except when it occasionally slips because of nervousness of timidity, the Opposition is a party of law and order. I have never said, nor do I say now, that the Labour party seeks to attain its objects by violence. The platform of the Labour party - about which, by the way, one hears very little at election time - makes it perfectly plain that that party aims at securing its objects by constitutional methods. There cannot be the slightest objection to that. We on this side of the House hold views that are different from those which are held by honorable members opposite, but we are all entitled to uphold our views by fair argument. The Labour party rightly says that it is a party of law and order. As every member returned at the recent election represents either the party of law and order that sits on this side of the House or the party of law and order that sits on the other side of the House, I claim a unanimous verdict from honorable members in favour of the maintenance of law and order.- But the maintenance of law and order requires something more than lip service; it requires action when the necessity arises. The reason for there being such a large majority of honorable members on this side of the House is that- the electors were satisfied that the Government, rather than the Opposition, was prepared to act when the necessity arose.
I propose to refer first to the facts and circumstances which make this legislation necessary an Australia, and T ask honorable members to believe that, although I may begin by discussing some general considerations. I am coming right down to the very facts that exist in the Commonwealth. Then, after mentioning these facts and circumstances, I shall speak of some of the general principles which have been held in view in drawing up the new proposals. After that, I shall deal with the specific remedies proposed in relation, more particularly, to the recent decision of the High Court, which I intend to examine.’
In the first place, I desire to say something about the facts and cir- cumstances rendering this legislation necessary, and in doing so I propose to omit reference to matters which are very relevant and important in this respect, but which, being of quite recent occurrence, are present in the minds of all honorable members. I do not propose to occupy the time of the House with the significant incidents at Fremantle, when the State Ministry had to send down 100 armed police to the wharf, or to the incidents at Cairns and Gladstone, whichare well known to all honorable members, or to the interference with the mails of the Commonwealth in Queensland during the railway strike, or to the interference with our quarantine officials on an earlier occasion at Fremantle. I take it that all honorable members are fully acquainted with the facts of those specific cases. Then again, I am not proposing to reiterate the facts, significant as they are, of the British seamen’s strike, although they are very relevant matter. Nor, to mention the last matter that I propose to exclude, shall I refer to the conference of trade unions held in Sydney for the purpose of making arrangements to resist by force the application of a Commonwealth law by means of a general strike, instead of . taking the matter to the courts of the country.Ultimately that conference decided to test the law in the courts, which was a perfectly proper course to adopt. There is a great difference between forming an organization to resist the application of a law by force - by a general strike - and resisting it by litigation.
But I do propose to refer to some other facts that are perhaps not as generally and as well known in Australia as they ought to be - facts that are believed to be characteristic only of other countries overseas - and to submit, that these facts establish that a definite systematic organization is at work in Australia to overthrow by violence of any available kind the constitutional and democratic government of this country. Our system of government rests upon the ballot-box. This Parliament represents the will of the majority of the free citizens of the Commonwealth, who are governed by the laws which they themselves make through their representatives. Those laws are made under a constitution which is itself alterable at the will of the people, duly expressed. Accordingly, anything is within the reach of the people of Australia which a majority of them desire. But in these days the majority has to protect itself against determined, unscrupulous, and violent minorities. Our personal liberty, our political and social rights, depend upon the maintenance of a free and democratic government. There is, however, a small but growing body of men in. Australia, who, inspired by foreign ideals, deliberately seek the destruction of Australian democracy. This section, though small, is not a negligible body of men. I have spoken on this subject on other occasions, and I apologize for introducing a personal note at this stage. I have frequently said that there are very few communists in Australia.
– That was said before the election.
– I said it during the election, and I have said so since, but I have added that, though their number is small, they should not, therefore, be overlooked, because it is far better to deal with some things in the eariy stages than wait until they have assumed dangerous proportions when it may be impossible to deal effectively with them. I have said numbers of times, and I repeat it here, that I do not either directly or indirectly suggest that, in the ordinary sense, the Labour party is a communistic party, or is allied with communists. I desire to make that perfectly plain. I bring this measure before the House as legislation that ought to be accepted by every honorable member who believes in Australians determining their own destiny. But there are persons here who organize a deliberate propaganda of hate, and who live and batten on class war. I shall give evidence as to who some of these individuals are. There are persons in Australia whose deliberate object it is to promote every species of dissension, unhappiness, and discontent, because only by so doing can they attain their sinister ends. These are the persons who mouth in Australia the catch-words of foreigners, which were invented for the purpose of appealing to the down-trodden proletariat of certain European countries. They talk of the proletariat! What does the word signify? An absolutely poor, suppressed, and helpless mass of men and women with nothing but their labour to sell, with no political power, and with no protection against exploitation. There is no proletariat in Australia. Any doctrines founded upon its supposed existence in this country are doctrineswhich, in their actual practice, can be intended only to produce a proletariat here, so as to make a discontented class which may render certain designs possible of accomplishment. Take the figures relating to the ownership of homes in the Commonwealth, the banking accounts of the people, insurance, and our arbitration arrangements, and wages boards. Consider the equal political rights that prevail throughout this continent, and then talk of a proletariat, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Here we have full government of the people, and the fullest and freest democracy the world has ever known. There is no need to bring here ideas that may have been suited for Russian serfs, who can hardly call their lives or souls their own. The doctrine of these men is that no social improvement - which all admit is desirable - can be obtained save by violent revolution and force. They are adherentsof the famous manifesto of Karl Marx, with which every one is, or should be, familiar -
The communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be obtained only by the forcible over-throw of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic resolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
I read that from the communist manifesto published by the Australian socialist party - of “ the communist party of Australia, 115 Goulburn-street, Sydney, New South Wales.” Who constitute the ruling classes of Australia, and who its proletariat? There is none such. The communists deliberately ally themselves with any movement which promises social discontent. They use every means of causing loss and suffering, because they think that, in that way, the’ revolution may be brought nearer. To use their own words - : I am quoting from what has been published by. them in Australia - “Any crisis will serve.” These people are quite different from those who believe in communism as a social and economic system. That is an entirely different thing. Communism in its essence is the socialization of industry, production, dis tribution, and exchange. That is the objective of the Labour party. But that party seeks to attain it by constitutional methods; it tries to get a majority in this Parliament. While I believe that this ideal of socialization is founded upon a distorted view of history, and upon a partial and false system of economy, I consider that it should be dealt with on the platform. Any one who believes in it is entitled toendeavour to convert any one else to his way of thinking; and any one who opposes it is entitled to do so. The Labour party is in a difficult position, because it has the communistic objective, although I believe that it differs sincerely from the communists as to the means of attaining it. One of the most prominent members of the Labour party in Melbourne, when opposing the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), during the recent election campaign, said that, of course, the Labour party and the communists have the same objective, but the Labour party seeks to obtain the objective - the abolition of private property - by constitutional methods and by taxation. The communists, on the other hand, believe in obtaining it by force. “ We believe that we can obtain it more effectively by taxation than the communists can by violence.” That is definite. One can readily understand how difficult it is for the Labour party to dissociate itself from the parasitical allies of its own organization. The point I desire to make is that this bill is concerned with the means adopted by certain persons to force their opinions upon the community, whatever those opinions may be. It does not deal with opinions, or interfere with any man’s liberty to express his opinions. It does, however, deal with incitement to violence of various descriptions. The men of whom I have been speaking are hostile to democracy as such. They are the enemies of every political party : according to their publications they are greater enemies of the Labour party than of the Nationalist party. We all know that no quarrels are more violent and bitter than those between members of a family. The communists see. the Labour party, which they regard as an incompetent, dishonest party - I quote from their own publications - proceeding falteringly and tremblingly towards what is claimed to be its magnificent ideal, which they think could be attained in one leap. Is it any wonderthat they criticize the Labour party?
The headquarters of communism, and of most forms of violence directed against ordered government, is in Russia. The communist movement at head-quarters makes no secret of its specific attack upon the British Empire, and upon the various parts of that Empire. I have a cutting here from the London Times, dated 3rd July, 1924, reporting a speech by Zinovieff, the chairman of the Third International, in which he is reported as having spoken of the necessity of concentrating on a special effort in every sphere of British activity. He stated that a special British commission had been formed to handle British problems.
– Is that another faked letter ?
– I should have thought that any member of the Opposition who was acquainted with the incidents of the election in Sydney, and had read the columns of the Labour newspaper there, The Labour Daily, would have had some hesitation in speaking of faked letters. Zinovieif, in his speech, referred to the appointment of representatives from the various parts of the world to a special commission for handling British problems. Those representatives included Zinovieff, Bukharin, and Raskolnikoff, the Japanese, Katayama, the Canadian, Bruce, the Australian, Montefiore, and others. Zinovietf informed the congress that in view of the present influence of Great Britain, “ when we have expanded the British Communist party to mass dimensions, we shall already have conquered half Europe.” He then proceeded to speak of the promising field for communist operations presented by the colonies of the British Empire. I refer to that to show that it is the deliberate policy of the communists to attack the British dominions.
-What is the date of that report?
– It is dated 3rd July, 1924.
– Why did the honorable member not deal with it then?
– I did. This is not the first time I have referred to it. In Australia, during recent years - I shall confine my remarks to recent happenings - the I.W.W.was the first manifestation of this form of activity. In the early war years the I.W.W. advocated and practised sabotage - the deliberate destruction of property, and interference with enterprise - and it sought to convert its followers to the adoption of general strike methods. In Sydney, the position became very serious; lives were lost, and many buildings were burnt down, rendering strong action necessary. In 1916, this Parliament passed the Unlawful Associations Act, which remained in operation only during, and for six months after, the war period. That act and the effective administration of the law in New South Wales kept the I.W.W. organization in check, and, for all practical purposes, it went out of existence. It is now . revived and active. Any one who visits the Sydney Domain will see how activeit is.
– The honorable gentleman means to refer to the Lang Ministry.
– The Government of New South Wales, at the head of which is Mr. Lang, sought to prohibit the I.W.W. from distributing revolutionary literature in the Sydney Domain.For a long time it was stopped, but Mr. Lang had to withdraw, and now that literature is again being distributed in the Domain. It is literature with which I believe no member of this House would agree in any particular.
Before dealing with the development of the communist party in Australia,I desire to give just one example of the manner in which the agents of the communist party - the Third International - work. The case to which I shall refer is that of a man named Zuzenko, whose career is probably more or less known to some honorable members. Partly because certain of his allies are still withiu Australia, I do not desire in what I say about him to give information in respect of any of his friends and associates here which might hinder future action. This man, Alexander Michael Zuzenko, has many aliases. He is a Russian, and was in Queensland for some years. He became very active during the war. He was a skilled journalist, and was the cause of three newspapers being suppressed. In January, 1919, the rooms of the Russian Association in Brisbane were raided, and honorable members will remember that there were some rather serious riots. Zuzenkowas deported in 1919. Let me observe here that he was depovted, although he had made his home in Australia, and had become, to use the words of some learned judges of the High Court, “ a member of the Australian community.” If that principle were fully applied, it would be impossible to-day to deport Zuzenko under the Immigration Act. One reason why I give the example of Zuzenko is to ask the House whether it thinks such a man ought to be allowed to remain in Australia. Zuzenko returned in 1922. Perhaps I ought to state some of the earlier facts relating to him. In 1919 he was a very violent agitator, and said this, amongst other things -
The Russians are full up of remaining silent. We must defy every obstacle and overthrow the capitalist machine, such as members of Parliament, governors, kings, and rulers. We should shoot these vermin.
He further said -
This is an easy and a common thing to us Russians.
Then he urged the Russians in Australia to stick together and to start a revolution as soon as possible, and emphasized the necessity of them remaining in Australia. He went back to Russia when he was deported. He was then sent out from Russia as an organizing agent on behalf of the Communist International. The information that he was such an agent was obtained from a diary which he happened to keep, and which fell into the hands of the Australian authorities at a laterdate on his commencing his organizing mission after his return to this country. His diary and his accounts show that he left Moscow on a false passport, and went through Norway to England. By paying money to members of seamen’s unions, who are named in his papers, he managed to work his way on to a boat, and went to the United States and Canada. He made records of payments of £20, £15, and £30 “ to comrades for loss of time.”
– They were not very big payments.
– There were a good many of them. He worked under various aliases and got a new passport in the name of a Norwegian. He had a letter in Norwegian addressed to this man, and a confirmation certificate and other papers well calculated to prove his identity. Then he passed under the name of Toni
Tolagsen. With this name he obtained a passport, and again paid moneys to persons described as members of seamen’s unions allegedly for the purpose of getting assistance to return to Australia. Eventually he arrived in Sydney. Then he visited Auckland, and returned to Sydney and Melbourne. Here he used the name of Nargan and was in very active association with certain other persons here, the names of some of whom are recorded in his papers. Though he had no apparent means of support, he was still able to live. He was discovered and charged with being a prohibited immigrant, and was deported from Australia, carrying with him a warm resolution and a letter of appreciation and thanks from the communist party of Australia for his successful work upon his mission in Australia. On the occasion of his second deportation he left in the Hobson’s Bay, a Commonwealth liner, with Mr. J. S. Garden and some other Australian representatives who were visiting Russia. That is an example of the sort of individual who has been dealt with from time totime under existing legislation. Under the Unlawful Associations Act of 1916, some of the provisions of which are very similar to provisions contained in this bill, a considerable number of persons were deported, including some twelve British subjects. The communist party in Australia was founded in 1920 on the basis of a manifesto prepared by the “ Provisional Executive of the Communist party of Australia.” This manifesto is addressed to the workers of Australia, and it invites them to prepare for their part in the coming international communist revolution. It urges that the only way of attaining the object of the party is by forcible revolution. The word “ revolution “ as used by these men does not mean peaceful persuasion, but forcible revolution and blood. That is perfectly plain.
Mr.A Green. - Have any of them ever got anywhere?
– I hope that some of them will get into jail, and that some will get out of Australia. These persons make it plain that the method of communism is revolution. The communists say so in express words. I intend to show honorable members that that is the case. Their programme recommends -
Forming groups of its members in every mill, factory, workshop, and field, so that it is always in a position to direct and control through its members every industrial dispute and disturbance of the workers, keeping always in mind the same end - social revolution - and trying to utilize every spontaneous action of the workers for that one end.
Directing its members to take an active, and, wherever possible, a leading part in every craft or industrial union, and endeavouring to have its members elected into the executive bodies of these organizations, so that these organizations also are directed in their activities towards the same one end of complete social revolution.
Endeavouring and actively working to replace the existing craft unions by more uptodate efficient industrial unions, which would be more advantageous for social revolutionary mass action, as well as an important factor in the communist reconstruction of society.
I am reading from volume 1., No. 1, of The Australian Communist, published in Sydney.
– Does the honorable gentleman subscribe to that newspaper ?
– I have quite a large number of copies of it, and I got it regularly during the Federal election. Among the members of the provisional executive of the communist party, the Soviet Communist party in Australia, I find the names of W. P. Earsman, J. S. Garden, T. Walsh, Mrs. Adela Pankhurst Walsh, and various others. The Communist contains an appeal to women, written by Mrs. Adela Pankhurst Walsh. Mr. W. P. Earsman, one of the founders of the Victorian Labour College, also went to Moscow. I suppose he was one of the accredited representatives of the Soviet organization.
– He was one of the delegates sent from here.
– I think it only fair to say that, although the names of Mr. and Mrs. Walsh appear as members of the provisional executive when the communist party was founded, in July of last year Mr. Walsh apparently split with the communist party. He certainly stated that he did not belong to it - at least, any longer. Beading recent numbers of The Communist, one can certainly see that latterly there is a little rift within the lute. The constitution of the communist party was published in Sydney, and I have a copy of it in my hands. It is headed “ Head-quarters, Communist Hall, 395 Sussex-street, Sydney, New South Wales,” and the “ Statutes of the Communist International “appear at the beginning and end of the document. The objects of the communist organization are set out to be -
The overthrow of capitalism, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the International Soviet Republic, the complete abolition of classes, and the realization of socialism - as the first step to communist society.
It is also provided in the statutes -
The World Congress of all parties and organizations formingpart of the Communist International is the supreme authority of this International.
The greater part of the work and principal responsibility in regard to the Executive Committee of the Communist International devolves upon the party in the particular country, where, in keeping with the regulation of the World Congress, the Executive Committee has its residence for the time being.
Representatives are appointed by the local organization to the executive, and in statute No. 12 I read this -
The general conditions prevailing in Europe and’ America makes obligatory upon the communists of the whole world the formation of illegal communist organizations alongside of those existing legally. The Executive Committee has charge of the universal application of this rule.
One of the main objects of this body is the formation of an illegal association. Finally, a member of the International journeying to another country, has a right to the fraternal support of the local members of the Third International. The name of the body is the communist party of Australia - the Australian section of the Third Communist International. It is organized in groups, with a central executive and a State council. There are provisions for financing and the like. I call the particular attention of honorable members to rule 14. which deals with discipline -
– The Attorney-General has not much time left to make his second-reading speech, and we have heard nothing yet about the bill.
– I desire to show the House the necessity for its introduction.
– The Opposition questioned the necessity for the bill.
– In the instructions for the secretaries and members of groups, special attention is paid to spying within the trade unions. Reports of the work of trade unions, and the keeping of district groups supplied with current information on trade union affairs are particularly referred to in the constitution of the communist party. What I am now speaking of is a current, present-day matter. So long as its activity is confined to the appointment of committees and like matters, it is not proposed to deal with this organization, but when it endeavours to incite to violence, or to revolution, then the Government will take the necessary action to suppress the organization.
– What is the AttorneyGeneral proposing to do about the Fascist society ?
– This bill, when passed, will apply to any association advocating violence for political objects. The recent career of Mr. Garden is, perhaps, so well known that it is unnecessary for me to mention it. The last report of the Trade and Labour Council in New South Wales, with its advocacy of civil war, is perhaps also well known. The white-anting speech of Mr. Garden has caused much discomfort to honorable members on the other side of the House. In 1919, after Mr. Garden had passed the I.W.W. stage, he said -
White ants can do more damage to a building than all the gales that blow. The method of the One Big Union is to white-ant the existing craft unions from within, and when we have destroyed their substance we will build up Our one big union from the ruins. Our polioy to obtain our ends, will be to bore from within, and keep on boring.
When he returned from Moscow he said that the Australian communist party was a small party. He also stated -
I believe it has found the keynote to organization so far as the Anglo-Saxon movement is concerned. The Communist party in Australia has a membership of just close on 1,000, and yet it is able to direct close on 400,000 workers -that is, including 237,000 in the State of New South Wales - all organized workers. It also directs 110,000 organized workers in Brisbane, Queensland. The Communist party in Australia is based on the nuclei system. Every union has its nuclei from twenty down to two, but every union has its nuclei. All nuclei leaders must meet once a week, and these nuclei leaders from the unions discuss the problems of their organizations, the problems of the working class of Australia. In every discussion of problems they formulate their tactics, and then go out to their various unions, factories, and workshops, and mines, and carry out the policy as directed. The Communist party, along with the leaders of the nuclei, formulates that policy. On every burning; question that affects the working class you will find that the nuclei leaders are the first in the field to give direction to the working class how to meet the situation. The Labour Council of New South Wales constitutes 120 unions. Yet the Communist party has full control of the executive. Out of the twelve members of the executive eleven are members of the Communist party, and they direct these 120 unions and the policy of each union. We found, also, that by directing our energy inside we were able to liquidate the Industrial Workers of the World, which was the militant organization of Australia. . . . The Industrial Workers of the World changed their tactics; they came inside with us. and started to co-operate inside the craft unions to break down the craft barriers, and link up all their forces into six great industrial departments throughout Australia …. and we decided to form a Communist party.
According to the report of the Labour Council of New South Wales for the year ending 31st December, 1924, 67 unions are represented on the Council. The report shows that the representatives of these unions do not love the Labour party. At page 7 it states -
The communist delegates were refused permission to sit as delegates because of their growing menace to the present leaders of the Labour party, and because of their influence among the masses, which is growing rapidly.
After abusing the Labour party generally, the report proceeds -
It can be said of them, “ They are busy . ploughing the land for communism, and the Communist party is busy sowing the seed.” Every day the communist issue in politics becomes more and more the main issue. The shadow of communism is over the Labour movement. All efforts to banish communism and communists are bound to fail. The good old times of playing at politics are gone. Revolution has stepped upon the stage..
That was addressed to the representatives of 67 trade unions in Sydney. Then there is a kindly manifesto on the subject of war, repudiating all external war, and all troubles with foreign nations, in favour of civil war within Australia. It reads -
But just because we wish for lasting peace, we must take up with greater passion, with sacrifice and devotion, the fight against the capitalist social order, a fight which cannot be carried on with fine words and resolutions, but only in the last resort with weapons in the hand.
– What is the date of the report?
– The 31st December, 1924, the latest report.
– It is thirteen months old, and no attempt has been made in any shape or form to punish those persons.
– Apparently honorable members opposite think that these persons ought to be punished. I think so too, and that is why I am asking the House to pass a law under which it will be possible to punish them. There is now no Commonwealth law under which they can be punished. The communist party in Australia to-day is a reality. It claims to have a tremendous influence in the community. Its membership is comparatively small, but in view of the serious consequences of its growth we must deal with it early. The organisation runs a. press in Australia.
– We wonder how the communist party obtained the money to run a newspaper.
– It regularly produces a journal in Sydney, called The Workers’ Weekly, a 4-page newspaperwith no advertisements in it. It also produces in Sydney a 16-page monthly.
– What is it called? Mr. LATHAM.- It is called “ The Communist, a journal for the theory and practice of Marxism.” One does wonder whence the money comes to make it possible to continue this journalistic activity. It does not come from thin air. The membership of the communist party, of which members on the other side possibly have a fuller knowledge than honorable members on this side, is so small that we wonder where the money does come from. There is a great deal of interesting reading in The Worker’s Weekly. In nearly every issue will be found - as I see in one before me, dated 5th June, 1925 - news of the communist activities throughout Australia. It deals with events in South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, the coalfields of New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria. It sets out lists of the representatives. There are ten groups with the names of the secretaries printed. The journal supports every form of industrial unrest and disturbance irrespective of the merits of the case. It urges the fomenting of every possible source of discontent, because it brings nearer the day when the workers will be so dissatisfied that they will undertake a social revolution. The names of some of the gentlemen associated with this organization are rather interesting. For example, the chairman in Melbourne appears to be Mr. Shelley. He was born in Berlin, and his full name is Joseph Weinman Schelly. He was associated with the Industrial Workers of the World activities in Western Australia. Coming to Melbourne he became chairman of the communist party, and, under the very English and poetic name of Shelley has, apparently, a permanent job as leader of the unemployed. These journals contain appeals to workers to promote revolution as the only means by which the working class can better its position. The Workers’ Weekly also made appeals to the American sailors during their visit to Australia which were certainly inconsistent with the performance of their naval duties. On the 14th August, 1925, a special article explained that the promotion of revolutionary propaganda amongst the alien immigrants was flagging, and that additional workers were required in that promising field. When the strike of British seamen occurred, the communists had a magnificent opportunity, and a leading article published on the 28th August was headed, “ To arms, workers,” and contained a direct incitement to violent revolution.
– Did the workers take up arms?
– No ; the people of Australia have too much sense to tolerate violence of the kind suggested. I admit that the communist activities are mostly talk, but talk which involves incitement to revolution should not be tolerated in Australia, because here, as elsewhere, are some foolish persons who may be misled. Therefore, it is far better to deal with a few communists now than to be required to deal hereafter with, possibly, thousands of their dupes. In order to show how these extremists operate I quote this passage from The Worker’s Weekly of the 28th August -
To-day transport is one of the vital industries. It constitutes the artery along which the lifeblood of the modern society (the commodities) must travel.
And, accordingly, communist activities have been largely in the nature of interference with the transport of passengers and goods. With that offence this bill specially deals. An illuminating example of communist taste is contained in the following letter published in The Workers’ Weekly of the 4th September. Apparently the letter is quoted with pride as an indication of the progress which communist principles are making in the minds of children -
Salute the Rag.
Dear Comrade Editor, - The other day our teacher gave us a lesson and tried to tell us the awful muddle that the Russians had made of their country by bringing in communism. Bc .said that if we built a chimney and one of our friends told us to “ knock it down and build a better one,” we would be doing what Russia is trying to do, and making a bigger failure than before; but when I read in the Russian magazines what a lovely time the boys and girls have over there, I wish myself into a sweat to be there too, so I can’t find any fault with Russia - can you?
We still have to salute the Grand Old Rag on Monday mornings.
One morning we didn’t sing God Save- properly, so he made us drill and sing all play time in the rain; but it doesn’t matter about the children getting whooping cough, and I was one. As long as we save the chief parasite and his rag, which the blackfellows wouldn’t wipe their noses on.
Schoolboy (age 10 years).
For a long tme the communists conducted a Sunday school in Sydney, and published periodically a paper which presented their brand of economics in a form suitable for the minds of children. The following explanation of profits is typical : -
The men who work in the factory are paid wages. For this money (wages) they make a certain number of boots every week. Of course, they make a lot more boots than they are paid for. A man may make about £20 worth of boots every week, but he does not get £20 in wages. He usually gets about £2. This is -
And, as you see, it leaves £18 for the “ owner” of the factory. It is used to pay rent for the factory, to pay taxes and rates, and to be divided amongst the people who form the company.
The £18 left over after paying the workmen is called profit.
Apparently the company obtained’ its raw material for nothing ! That sort of matter is prepared for consumption by children. Upon the front page of The Workers’ Weekly, of the 18th September, 1925, I find this compliment to the Labour party -
To urge that the time is not yet opportune for preparations for the struggle, and that only legal and constitutional means must be em- ployed, and that all forces be concentrated on the return of the Labour party in the Federal sphere, is opportunism of the first water.
The article proceeds to deal with the Labour party in very scathing terms.
– Will the Attorney-General connect his remarks with the bill?
– I suggest that they are directly related to the bill. Referring to the . railway strike in Brisbane, under the heading, “ Revolt against the Labour party,” the same, journal said -
We do not suggest that the Queensland railway strike and the present waterside workers’ strike are due to the activities of our national organization in North Queensland. We do suggest, however, that the position there is pregnant with possibilities for the communist party.
In the meantime the organizer of the communist party is busy on the scene. He will endeavour to link up the discontented elements into the revolutionary organization - the communist party- to enable the advanced section to make war on the social traitors in an organized way, to replace the policy of reformism by the active class struggle, and to prepare the Queensland workers for the situation that capitalism is plunging headlong into - the period of the proletarian revolution.
The issues of January of this year propose a very strong line of action, and urge the communists not to leave the Labour party, but to form a left wing within the party. Both in Australia and in Great Britain, communists have been disqualified for membership of the Labour party, because they are clearly recognized to be a danger to the country.
It is not sufficient to counter propaganda of this character by mere argument intended to secure intellectual conviction. Some of these men are not open to intellectual conviction; they require criminal conviction, and the bill is designed ‘ to provide that form of correction. It is founded, firstly, upon the principle that the safety of the people and the preservation of constitutional government in Australia should be the first concern of this Parliament; accordingly Part IIA. of the bill is headed “ Protection of the Constitution and. of public and other services.”
The measure does not attempt to suppress liberty of opinion Or freedom of speech. There is a radical distinction between the expression of opinion and acts of violence or incitement to violence. The bill’ refuses to allow enemies of the people to trade upon union loyalty by using industrial disputes as a political weapon. Further, it recognizes the limitations of Commonwealth power. This Parliament has no authority to enact a general criminal law ; it can deal only with matters submitted to it by the Constitution. Therefore the bill applies only to the protection of the Constitution of the established government, interstate and foreign trade and commerce, and the public services of the Commonwealth. Proposed new section 30a declares to be unlawful associations -
Any body of persons incorporated or unincorporated, which by its constitution or propaganda or otherwise advocates or encourages -
I ask honorable members on both sides of the House to agree that propaganda of the kind mentioned in the foregoing paragraph should be prevented. It will be observed that the bill relates only to propaganda which advocates or encourages the overthrow of governments by force or violence or the destruction or injury of the property mentioned.
– There is nothing very new in that.
– I admit that; but such alaw is necessary and does not exist at the present time. The bill is founded upon the Unlawful Associations Act, which was allowed to expire after the war and could not be effectively continued in the same form intime of peace. Proposed new section 30a provides that any person over the age of eighteen years who is a member of an unlawful association and any person of any age who is an officer pf an unlawfulassociation shall be guilty of an offence.
– Name one.
– If a responsible member of a government were to bring down a bill dealing with murder or em bezzlement, and were asked to namea murderer or an embezzler, he would decline to do so. I shall not do what the honorable member asks.
– The honorable gentleman cannot.
– A magistrate, or a judge and jury, will have to determine whether a person falls within these provisions. If no one can be proved to fall within them, this legislation will never be applied. I shall be very pleased if that happens to be the case. But if, on the other hand, there are any such persons, proceedings should be instituted against them, and they should be punished. One of the most important provisions in the bill is that contained in the proposed new section 30c, which provides -
Anyperson whoby speech or writing, advocates or encourages -
the overthrow of the Constitution of the Commonwealth by revolution or sabotage;
the overthrow by force or violence of the established Government of the Commonwealth or of a State olof any other civilized country or of organized government; or
the destruction or injury of property of the Commonwealth or of property used in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States - shall he guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for any period not exceeding two years, and in addition (if he was not born in Australia) to deportationby order of the AttorneyGeneral as provided in this act.
It will be observed that a conviction must first be obtained against aperson not born in Australia. Then it will rest with the executive to determine whether the person so convicted shall be deported. It would be an easy matter to shift this responsibility on to the shoulders of the judiciary, but the view is held that that would not, under the circumstances, be a proper thing to do, and the Government is, therefore, prepared to accept the responsibility of dealing with persons convicted of this offence and of deporting them if such action is thought proper. In that resolution the Government is supported by the people of Australia. There are subsidiary provisions which prohibit, and provide penalties for, the subscription of money or goods to an unlawful association, and the distribution, printing, and publication of literature for an unlawful association. It will be observed that no attempt is being made to deal with literature merely according to its character. There is no proposal in the bill to institute a censorship of newspapers, books, or anything of the kind; the provisions relate merely to literature that is published by, on behalf of, or in the interests of, an unlawful association; because the object of the bill is to put an end to such associations, and to seize and forfeit all their literature. Proposed new section 30j contains an important provision of another type, and is designed to deal with serious emergencies. It will come into operation only if there is a serious industrial disturbance that has been so proclaimed by the Governor-General; that is to say, the government of the day must accept the responsibility of proclaiming the existence of a serious industrial disturbance. Sub-section 2 of that section provides -
Any person who, during the operation of such proclamation, takes part in or continues, or incites to. urges, aids, or encourages the taking part in, or continuance of, a lock-out or strike -
in relation to employment in or in connexion with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers in trade or commerce with, other countries or among the States ; or
in relation to employment in, or in connexion with, the provision of any public service by the Commonwealth, or by any department or public authority under the Commonwealth shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for any period not exceeding one year, and in addition (if he was not born in Australia) to deportation by order of the Attorney-General as provided in this act.
– Every trade union leader can be brought under that section.
– It is an emergency section that will operate only when a proclamation has been made, and in the cases set out in the sections.
– Such a proclamation would be made whenever there was industrial trouble.
– It will operate only in relation to transport of goods and conveyance of passengers in trade and commerce between the States or with other countries, or in relation to the public services of the Commonwealth.Before a person can be dealt with he must be found guilty by a court. The existing provisions relating to all these offences have been retained. In the first instance, a person will have to go before a magistrate, who may, or may not, deal with the case. He may send it for trial before a judge and jury. The definitions of employer and employee, lock-out, and strike have been taken from the Arbitration Act, and they do not contain anything that is new.
– The existing definition of lockout is very unsatisfactory. That has been proved by years of experience.
– If the Leader of the Opposition can suggest an improvement it will be considered.
– I would make the definition more stringent.
– Thisprovision applies equally to lockouts and strikes; but there must be a conviction before anybody can be deported.
– A lockout is often called a strike.
– Some industrial disputes are not bona fide industrial disputes; they are the means which are adopted by a minority to impose its will upon the majority of the community. Every country has special legislation dealing with vital services, such as water supply, sewerage, and the like, in which strikes are not permitted. In Australia transport is vital; it is of fundamental importance to the well-being of the Commonwealth. Every interference with transport, however, is not a vital interference. Accordingly this section will come into operation only when the government of the day is prepared to take the responsibility of making the proclamation for which it provides. Proposed new section 30k is another important one. It provides that-
Whoever, by violence to the person or property of another person, or by spoken or written threat or intimidation of any kind, to whomsoever directed, or, without reasonable cause or excuse, by boycott, or threat of boycott, of person or property, interferes in certain ways with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers in trade and commerce between the States or with foreign countries, or with the public services of the Commonwealth, shall be guilty of an offence. Honorable members should particularly note that every offence is prefaced- by the requirement of violence, threats, intimidation, or boycott, without reasonable cause or excuse. Violence, intimidation, and threats can never be justified in law. At the present time there is no Commonwealth legislation that deals with the matter. The section leaves open every means for adopting genuine peaceful persuasion.
– Will the Minister say whether a person convicted under that section could be deported.
– He could not. I have not counted the number of new offences under the bill, but 1 suppose there are more than twenty. Deportation will apply only in connexion with the two to which I have specifically referred - to the case of the revolutionary person who advocates, the overthrow of government by violent means, and to the case of a lockout or strike in certain defined and limited cases, after a proclamation has been made, and the warning conveyed by it is present to the mind of the person who commits the offence.
– And there must first be a conviction.
– That is so. There are no provisions in the bill which will operate against trade unionists unless they break the law by engaging in the activities that are prohibited. The same provisions will apply to every other citizen in Australia-
– They will apply only to trade unionists.
– As one who is well aware that the votes of a large number of trade unionists assisted to return him to this House, I resent the suggestion that trade unionists are anxious to break the law. They are not. Those who, professing to represent them in this House, suggest that they desire to engage in every form of violence, are not true representatives of the trade unionists of Australia.
– No one except the honorable gentleman has made that statement.
– The other proposed new sections contain machinery provisions, but they are not unimportant. Some of them deal with evidence. For example, the proposed new section 30h provides that any person who has been a member of an association, who has attended a meeting of, spoken publicly in advocacy of, or distributed the literature of, an association, shall be deemed to be a member of that association. There is also the provision that the averments in the information or indictment shall be prima facie proof of their truth. That has been taken from the Customs Act, and it is a provision that should be applied not in cases where there is merely difficulty in proving the offence, but in cases where the facts are peculiarly within the knowledge of the defendant, and he could, if innocent, easily exculpate himself by going into the witness-box. Then there are the provisions relating to deportation.
– That is where the Minister needs to be careful.
– I generally am careful. Naturally this House desires to assure itself that there is a reasonable probability ofthe provisions being upheld as valid before it passes them. A great deal has been said regarding the decision of the High Court in re Walsh and in re Johnson. It has been suggested by some honorable members that that decision affects the mandate which was given to. the government by the people. That mandate is not in any way affected; it is to-day what it was before the High Court gave its decision.If this country determined legal questions by popular voting, something to the contrary might be said, but the effect of the decision of the High Court, viewed politically, is that as certain legislation is not effective for the purposes for which it was passed, new measures must be passed to cope with the situation.
The Government does not propose to go back over the past, or seek to ground any proceeding under this measure upon acts done in the past. It is a safe principle that a man should not be put in jeopardy twice for what is in substance the one act. The Government might have introduced restrospective legislation, but as a general and almost universal rule, I am opposed to such legislation, and I would not be a party to retrospective criminal legislation in such a case as this. It has been said, particularly since I have assumed the office which I have the honour to hold, that in the debates in this Chamber last year
I stated that the deportation legislation of last session would be constitutional. I have never laid claim to infallibility in matters of law. Some honorable members opposite are much surer of their legal opinions than I am of mine. When the deportation proposals were under discussion last year, I pointed to the difficulty of interpreting the constitutional law of Australia. There is no more uncertain legal field. As I reminded the House yesterday, I said last year that I was not prepared to guarantee the constitutional validity of the amending Immigration Act until the High Court had passed judgment upon it, but that the objections to it were not, in my opinion, well founded, and I gave my reasons for that statement. My remarks on that subject are to be found on page 1905 of the Hansard report for the session 1925. There is an idea that the High Court has held that deportation is illegal, or at least, that the Court has decided that the deportation of British subjects is illegal in the sense that this Parliament cannot provide for it under the Commonwealth Constitution. The High Court has not so decided, nor has it lent support to any such proposition. If it were the opinion of that court that deportation was illegal, and that the deportation of British subjects could never be held to be legal, it would be the end of our White Australia policy, because that depends on the power to deport, not only aliens, but also British subjects. The White Australia policy rests in the last resort upon the reality of that power. The decision of the High Court in what has been referred to as the deportation case would have been exactly the same if deportation had not been provided for in the Immigration Restriction Act. If that legislation, instead of providing that after a recommendation of a board the Minister could exercise the power to deport, had provided that the persons proceeded against should pay a fine or undergo imprisonment, the decision of four judges of the High Court - Mr. Justice Higgins held that the act was invalid - would have been exactly the same. (Extension of time granted].
As this subject is of interest to all parties in the House, I shall endeavour to explain the legal effect of the decision of the High Court, leaving on one side its political aspect. When the legisla- tion of last year was framed, the position was that section 8a of the Immigration Restriction Act had been held to be valid. That section provided for the deportation of persons who, in the opinion of a Minister, were engaged in revolutionary activities, and whose deportation had been recommended by a board. It had been decided, too, in the case of Potter v. Minahan, and in the Irish Envoys case, that British subjects, as well as aliens, could be deported under the act. It had been held in the Irish Envoys case, that the appointment of a non- judicial board as a. recommending body, was quite valid, and that the establishment and action of the board did not make the legislation unconstitutional. In the Irish Envoys case, no difficulty had been raised by members of the court, or by counsel at the bar, by reason of the fact, that the operation of a section depended upon the . opinion of a Minister. In fact, in the Welsbach case, in 1915, the objection that the operation of the act depended on the opinion of a Minister, was raised. It was argued in that ease that the fact that the Minister entertained the opinion that somebody was an enemy of the Commonwealth did not make him one. That objection was overruled. Then,, in prior decisions of the court, emphasis had been laid on the fact that a person who had a home in Australia, was not immigrating into Australia when, after an absence, he re-entered the Commonwealth, but was, indeed, merely returning home., It had also been held, too, that a passing visitor, one who did not intend to stay in Australia, was .subject to the immigration power. It is certainly unlikely that anybody would in ordinary speech describe him. as an immigrant. The Irish Envoys case related to persons who admittedly were visaing Australia only to collect money, and were going away as soon as they had obtained as much money as they required for their purposes. -It was held that they came under the immigration power, though obviously they were not immigrants in the ordinary sense, any more than an Australian landing at Colombo, on the way to England, would be an immigrant into Ceylon. All thesepoints had been decided ; but it had not been held by any judge that a person who had migrated into Australia could, by his own act in settling in the Commonwealth, take himself out of the scope of the immigration power. That point had not. arisen, and there was therefore no judicial pronouncement upon it. The precise contrary of that proposition, that a man could take himself out of the scope of the immigration power by making his home here, had been held by Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Rich in the Irish Envoys case, and their expression of opinion had not been dissented from by the three other judges who sat on that case.
After that statement of the law as it existed prior to the passing of our legislation of last year, let us consider what the recent case really did decide. There were five judges on the bench, and the learned judges gave separate reasons for the decision of the Court. They did not concur in all their reasons, and, indeed, upon some points there was a considerable difference of opinion. Four of the judges held that the act, when properly interpreted, is valid ; but one judge - Mr. Justice Higgins - held that it is invalid, on the ground that it applies to persons not born in Australia ; that persons not born in Australia include both persons who, having come into- Australia, have made their home here, and therefore are not, in his view, subject to the immigration power, and persons who, having come into Australia, have not made their home here. His Honour, . construing that act as one dependent for its validity on the power of the Parliament to legislate as to immigration and emigration, holds that the whole act is invalid, because it goes beyond the immigration power by dealing with people who have made their homes in Australia. All the learned judges concur in the opinion that the act did. not apply in the case of Mr. Walsh, who was in Australia prior to federation, though the reasons which they give for that opinion are not ‘precisely the same. One principle upon which certain of the learned judges based it is that no person is an immigrant into Australia who in fact entered Australia before federation. According to some of the others it would apparently be a question of fact whether a man had made his home in Australia before that date, and it might be the case, according to some statements in the reasons’ for judgment, that there are persons in
Australia to-day who have not yet really settled down here - that although they came here before federation, they may still be legally regarded as immigrants and subject to the immigration power. The question of fact is left for determination in each case. Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Rich, held that the act applies to any person who came here after federation, whether he made his home in Australia or -not. The Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Starke said that the act applies only to persons who entered Australia after federation, but who have not made their home here. Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Rich expressed the opinion that the act applied in ‘ the case of Johnson, but that there was a defect in procedure in notnotifying him of the acts of which the Minister was satisfied, and for that reason the proceedings against him failed. That point was equally open to be taken in the Irish Envoys case, but it was notthen raised^ and it was not suggested in that case that there was any such defect in procedure. The Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Starke held that section 8aa was not a law as to’ trade or commerce, because no controlling rule was laid down as to trade and commerce.’ The section did not forbid the doing of any act relating to trade or commerce, but simply provided that if the Minister was satisfied that a person was doing certain things in relation to trade or commerce the Minister could take certain action ; that there was no prohibition of those things. Accordingly it was held that there was no rule as to trade or commerce, and the fact that the Minister was of the opinion that there was, did not in law make a rule. Similar reasoning applies to the other matters such as public services, mentioned in the section. Accordingly, His Honourthe Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Starke, held that the legislation must be justified as immigration legislation, or not at all. They held that it is justified and valid as an immigration act, but that it applies only to persons who are still within the scope of the immigration power, that is to say, persons who have not become part of the people of Australia. That opinion is not shared by Mr. Justice Isaacs, who takes the view that the immigration power does not cease to operate as soon as a person, to use his own words, “leaps over the barrier, and by his own act settles in Australia.” So to hold would, he says, be a national tragedy. Mr. Justice Isaacs states that the power to legislate on immigration is not so limited that if a man enters Australia to-day, and by to-morrow settles down to make his permanent home here, he can remove himself from the scope of immigration legislation. That is one of the important issues raised by this judgment.
– Was that point ever in doubt?
– That it is in doubt now is shown by the judgments of the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Starke. It is simply a question of fact - whether a person has become one of the people of Australia, and made his home here. That is a question of fact, to be determined, as a rule, by a magistrate.
– Should Parliament not decide when a person who has immigrated into Australia ceases to be an immigrant?
– It is impossible for Parliament to do that, as Parliament’s power to legislate on immigration is derived from the Constitution. We must accept the limits imposed by the Constitution.
– Could not “immigrant” be denned by Statute ?
– It is beyond the power of the , Commonwealth Parliament effectively to define any of its constitutional powers. The Constitution says that we can legislate in regard to various subjects. We then pass laws which we believe deal with those subjects.
– I did not admit that.
– The majority of honorable members assist to pass only that legislation which they believe Parliament has a right to pass, but I am prepared to except the honorable member in this connexion.
– The deportation legislation was fraud and conspiracy.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) does not choose his language with the best of taste. I am discussing a purely legal question which should not give rise to any ill feeling or lead to any insult, and I decline to become excited in order to serve the purpose of the honorable member.
– Does the Minister think that Parliament is competent to define what an immigrant is ?
– Only if the definition of “ immigrant “ is deemed by a court of law, and ultimately by the High Court, to be consistent with the meaning of the word “ immigration “ in the Constitution.
– No authority other than Parliament can give a definition of immigrant.
– It is a matter for the court. In order to remove any misunderstanding on this matter, let me quote a parallel case. Let us take a Subject upon which Parliament has no direct power to legislate, as, for example, safety appliances in mines. That is a matter which is not within the direct legislative power of this Parliament. Parliament has, however, power to legislate upon matters affecting trade and commerce, both interstate and foreign. Let us suppose that Parliament passes a law dealing with safety appliances in mines, and that the preamble is to the following effect: - “Whereas the provision of safety appliances in mines is a matter .of importance to mining and to the trade and commerce of Australia, with other countries and among the States, now, therefore, we legislate in the following manner.” Such legislation would not stand for one moment, if contested. The same principle applies to our other powers, including the power to legislate in respect of immigration. We can legislate on matters really coming within the scope of immigration, but it is for the High Court to say what those matters are. We can pass legislation to deal with immigration, but when it comes before the High Court for consideration, that court, and that court alone, can say whether it as a matter of law is an act dealing with immigration.
– Will this bill afford the High Court the opportunity to reverse its former decision ?
– This bill is based, first, upon the power of Parliament to protect the Constitution and its own system of government ; secondly, upon the trade “and commerce power; and, thirdly, upon the power to protect the public services and the property of the Commonwealth. It is not an immigration bill, and has nothing to do with immigration ; but if honorable members hope that there will, therefore, be no litigation in respect of it,’ I am afraid that their hopes will not be realized.
– Will the High Court have an opportunity to reconsider its judgment, with which many honorable members do not agree, and which in any case is not a unanimous judgment ?
– In my view this Bill raises no question upon the power to legislate on immigration. The Government accepts the judgment of the High Court as declaring the law. Apart altogether from the necessity of doing so, that is the only proper course to adopt. I -am seeking to explain what the High Court actually decided, and later I purpose showing the relation of this legislation to that decision. Let me say a final word on the power to deport. None of the reasoning of the four judges constituting the ma- .jority depends on the subject of deportation, but in giving their reasons they say a good deal about deportation. No such question as this could have arisen in England, New Zealand, South Africa, or iu any other country. In those countries the power to legislate in this manner would be unchallenged and unchallengeable.
– We should be in that position.
– We can pass laws to prevent any immigrant from coming here, and we can legislate to deport any immigrant; but in each case the person to whom that law is applied must be an immigrant; in other words, he must be a person coming within the scope of the immigration power. According to all the judges, a person is an immigrant when he enters Australia for the first time, whether merely on a visit or in order to settle here ; according to some of the judges, if a man is once an immigrant, he is always an immigrant, and,, therefore, always subject to the immigration power; in the opinion of other judges he passes beyond the scope of the immigration power if he settles in Australia, makes his home here, and becomes a member of the community. Hon.orable members will recognize that it is not easy to deal with a situation of this nature. They may be interested if I read portion of the judgment of Mr. Justice Isaacs. That learned judge does not accept the view of the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Starke on this question. He says -
A person arriving as an immigrant into the Commonwealth comes subject to all the constitutional powers of the Parliament of
Australia. . Its permission to dAn to enter may be. either conditional or unconditional. He has no right to enter Australia against the will of its people. He can enter only in pursuance of their will and subject to their constitutional right, to qualify or withdraw that permission at any time or under any circumstances they think proper. No Parliament - for Parliament is only the legislative instrument of the people - can, either by action or inaction, surrender or weaken or forfeit that national power. Immigration, as I have explained in the 0’Flanagan case, is not. obliterated for ever by the mere passage across the frontier, nor by the .momentary leap over a barrier which magically and instantaneously transforms a Hindoo or kanaka, for example, into an Australian. If such were its meaning, the cherished national policy of Australia would indeed bo in peril. And it would only nominally lessen the peril if the Hindoo or the kanaka, by immediately adopting Australia as his “ home,” as it is said, could, so to speak, dig himself into this Commonwealth, so as to be irrevocably, so far as tine Commonwealth power is concerned, a member of the , people of the Commonwealth - a true Australian - and thereby escape the immigration power for ever. He could afterwards, as it is said, irrespective of nationality, of sentiment, of customs, of everything except his resolve to stay in Australia indefinitely as his “ home,” remain here or travel back and forwards, leave when he pleased, enter as he chose, and claim all the rights of a native-born Australian who had never abandoned his country. For this court to so hold would, in my opinion, ibc a tragedy. The immigration power would practically be a dead letter, once the frontier was passed, whatever shred of theory remained.
Other judges do not share that view.
– These judgments are not materia] to the bil], which deals with trade and commerce and the maintenance of good government.
– Exactly. That is the point to which I was about to refer. So far I have dealt with deportation in its relation to immigration. This bill does not rely upon the power to legislate in that regard; it creates offences as to certain matters within the legislative power of the Commonwealth Parliament, namely the protection of the Constitution, trade and commerce, and public services. In two cases it prescribes deportation as the penalty for an offence, in the same way that an act might prescribe imprisonment for life, or even impose the penalty of death, for. any act the commission of .which it was deemed should carry such a penalty. The bill is framed upon the basis that the Commonwealth is entitled to pass a criminal law within the scope of its legislative power, that it may prescribe such penalties as it thinks proper, and that one of those penalties may be deportation.
While I do not claim infallibility, I shall endeavour to show that a bill framed on such lines is, in my opinion, consistent with the judgment of the High Court. I propose to refer to the grounds of the decision to show that this bill does not infringe the reasoning upon which the High Court’s “decision was based. The Chief Justice bases his decision upon the ground that, in section 8aa of the Immigration Act of last year, no acts were made unlawful. In this bill certain acts of persons are made unlawful, those acts being within the scope of the Commonwealth power. The Chief Justice also decided that the Immigration Act was not an act relating to trade and commerce, because it did not lay down any rule for the conduct of any persons with respect to trade and commerce. This bill does lay down rules affecting the conduct of persons with respect to trade and commerce. His Honour Mr. Justice Isaacs held that the act was valid, and said this as to the power of the Commonwealth to prescribe deportation as a remedy for the breach of its law: -
Then his Honour, later in his judgment, said -
There is nothing in the written constitution to require the power of deportation always to be exercised through the “medium of the judiciary. If it is enacted as a punishment for crime, it necessarily falls to the judicial department. The court then determines the matter, as it does every other, upon ‘ the proved circumstances of the case. If it is enacted, not as a punishment for crime, but as a political precaution, it must be exercised by the political department - the Executve - and possibly on consideration not susceptible of definite proof, but demanding prevention, or otherwise dependent on, national policy.
His Honour pointed out that this power might be abused., but it is a matter for Parliament’ to determine what are the cases to which it should be applied. He summarized his judgment in a series of propositions, one of which reads -
Deportation is within the competency of Parliament as legislation within any of its granted powers, and may be made exercisable according to the nature of the case by either the judicial or executive organization of the Commonwealth.
Then Mr. Justice Higgins, although he held that the Act is invalid, went into other aspects of the matter which, in his opinion, were not strictly necessary for his decision. In his reasons he pointed out that the Immigration Act was not legislation on trade or commerce, because it laid down no rule as to trade or commerce. The legislation now before the House does lay down a rule as to trade and commerce. In the latter part of his judgment Mr. Justice Higgins said that Parliament can legislate upon trade or commerce with foreign countries, or interstate, and that sub-section xxxix. of section 51 of the Constitution provides that Parliament may legislate on matters incidental to any matter within its legislative power. Then His Honour said -
No doubt it would be competent for Parliament under section 51, sub-section xxxix., of the Constitution to prescribe punishment for a breach of such a law - that is, a law relating to trade or commerce - either by imprisonment) deportation, or transportation.
Honorable members will observe that Mr. Justice Higgins dissented from the other judges and held that the Immigration Act was invalid altogether. Yet he says that, no doubt, it is competent for Parliament, under sub-section xxxix. of section 51, to prescribe punishment for a breach of a law relating to trade or commerce whether imprisonment, deportation, tor transportation. He went on to say that section 8aa, of the Immigration Act, does not make anything a crime, and, therefore, does not fall under this principle. The bill now before the House does make certain acts crimes, and so far satisfies the requirements laid down in the decision of Mr. Justice Higgins. His Honour Mr. Justice Rich held the legislation to be constitutional, and appeared to have no doubt as to its complete validity. His Honour Mr. Justice Starke, on the subject of deportation, points out -
There is no doubt, I take it, that Parliament might prohibit acts interfering with trade and commerce with foreign countries and amongst the States, and punish those acts by imprisonment, and even by internment, or expulsion, if it thought fit to do so. Such legislation would, admittedly, involve the judicial power of the Commonwealth.
Here we are creating crimes relating to trade or commerce, and are invoking the. judicial power of the Commonwealth. Mr. Justice Starke, after giving various examples, proceeded to say -
It would, in my opinion, be a valid law if some controlling rule was prescribed by Parliament as to trade and commerce and a Minister was empowered to enforce it.
That is to say, the Executive. One method of enforcement mentioned is expulsion from the country. His Honour held that the act is valid when properly construed.
In conclusion, let me say that the provisions of the bill dealing with deportation require, first, conviction by a court of law. Onlypersons who have been convicted of acts which are made crimes by this bill can be deported. The responsibility for deporting any person is a responsibility which has been undertaken and accepted, ever since the institution of the Commonwealth, by the Executive Government, and numbers of persons have been deported from time to time for the protection and safety of the people of Australia. That responsibility the present Government is prepared to continue to undertake, and is undertaking. Only last week, on the application of a Labour government of another State, I assisted in making arrangements for a deportation under the Immigration Act. This legislation will afford means of punishing persons, if they are convicted of crime, who are persistent enemies of our social welfare. The legislation is reasonable and moderate. No person will suffer under it who is not convicted of a crime. It provides the necessary means of self- protection for Australia. It carries out the promise of the Prime Minister to the electors. It is submitted to this House without apology and without excuse. It is legislation which the people of Australia have demanded. It is a legislative effort to preserve the freedom of all classes in Australia, believers in trade unionism and others, and I venture to think there are very few persons in Australia who do not believe in trade unionism. This measure is a legislative attempt to prevent the suffering and distress caused, mainly, notto the wealthy classes, who do not suffer, but to the poorer classes, by wanton revolutionary action. The bill is designed to maintain the principles of free, constitutional, and democratic government, and as such I commend it to the House.
.- I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
I make the request that, in fixing the date for the resumption of the debate, the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) will allow sufficient time to enable honorable members tolook thoroughly into the bill.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 27th January (vide page 416):
Clause 3 -
Section two hundred and eighty-six of the principal act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-sections: - “ (6.) Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that the tourist traffic between any ports in the Commonwealth or in the Territories under the authority of the Commonweal th is being injured or retarded, and the Governor-General is satisfied that it is desirable that unlicensed ships he allowed to engage in the trade, he may, by notice published in the Gazette, grant permission to unlicensed British ships of such size and speed as are specified in the notice to engage inthe carriage of passengers between those ports, subject to such conditions (if any) and for such period as are set out in the notice. “ (7.) The carriage of passengers between those ports, by a British ship of the description specified in any such notice and under the conditions (if any), and during the period, set out in the notice, shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade.”.
On which Mr. Scullin had moved by way of amendment -
That after the words “ ships,” sub-section 6, line 7, the words “manned by white labour” be inserted.
.- A very great principle is involved in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). On that principle the debate on the bill has so far hinged, and will continue to do so until a division is taken on the amendment, unless the Minister in charge of this measure can give honorable members some assurance that that important principle introduced in the early days of federation by the party to which I have the honour to belong is not to be interfered with. It is a matter of surprise to me that the Minister should appear to have, even at certain intervals, two minds on this subject. It might be as well to recall the report of a deputation that waited on the Minister at Hobart on the 17th November, 1924, which was referred to by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) last night, and to compare it with the statements and attitude of the Minister to-day. Not a great deal of water has flowed under the political bridge in the meantime. In answer to a deputation of business men and others, the Minister said -
It would be a distinct departure from the national policy of protection, under which, all industries, . including Tasmania’s, were paying improved wages and working under proper conditions, and were entitled to protection against cheap coloured labour, low wages, and bad conditions in other parts of the world.
When the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Yarra made certain suggestions in conformity with the Minister’s own words, he put forward the extraordinary excuse that the bill, if amended, might not receive the royal assent. The Navigation Act discriminates between white and coloured labour, and between Australian and British shipping companies. The amendment seeks to preserve this discrimination, and it is ridiculous for the Minister at this late hour to put forward the excuse that if clause 3 is amended the royal assent to the bill may not be obtained. The Minister yesterday said that some honorable members on this side contended that the bill if passed would allow vessels manned with black labour to engage in the interstate trade, and he put forward fairly convincing figures to prove the contrary. He said that the White Australia policy would not be adversely affected under the bill, because out of 37 ships booked to visit Tasmania, 30 of them were manned by white labour and only seven of them - Peninsular and Oriental vessels - were manned by black labour. The Minister, unfortunately for himself, has made two statements which do not agree. He has proved to his own satisfaction, and to that df many honorable members supporting him, that the licensing of British vessels manned by black labour is of little or no consequence ; and he absolutely refuses to give effect to the policy of White Australia which he has so often enunciated. He said that the people of Australia had given this Government a mandate. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) when in Tasmania said that that island had to be protected, and would be given a shipping service. He -wound up enthusiastically by declaring that the Government would carry out its mandate from the people. But no mandate was given to . the Government to introduce black labour into interstate trading. T’.ie people of Tasmania do not desire vessels manned by black labour to trade on their coast. If the bill is passed in its present form, any coolie-manned boats will be able to carry passengers between the mainland and Tasmania. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra seeks to prevent the black-labour vessels from operating in that trade. I ask the Minister to stand by the White Australia policy, a principle that he enunciated emphatically and enthusiastically in another place. He should accept the amendment, and not attempt to break down the wages and conditions now enjoyed bv Australian seamen.
.- The Government’s refusal to accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) will be a clear indication of the insincerity of its advocacy of the White Australia policy. The Minister’s statement that the bill; if amended, might not receive the royal assent was evidently the only excuse that he could think of to justify the Government’s opposition to the proposed amendment. We should use our own judgment respecting those we employ on the Australian coast. Only last week the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) suggested to the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) that all contracts for the carriage of mails from Great Britain or any part of the British Empire to Australia should be let to shipping companies which employed white labour on their vessels and provide decent conditions. The bill is ostensibly introduced to assist Tasmania, which, it is said, has become financially embarrassed owing to the operation of the Navigation Act. We have no right to assist that State in the way proposed under the bill. In reply to the honorable member for Maribyrnong, the Minister said that further information would be supplied, but up to the present we have had no further information than that placed before us by the Hughes Government. The Minister gave a promise at Hobart.
– I said last night that the remarks at Hobart were made in response to a request to suspend the whole of the provisions of the Navigation Act so far as they applied to Tasmania.
– That is quite possible. The Minister at that time said that no alteration to the act could be made. That statement was equally “as convincing as the letter from the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) when he had the option of breaking down the act or acceding to the request made to him. To assist Tasmania in a practical way we should develop her industries. What has the Government done respecting the wood pulp industry? In that instance certain interests forced the Government to retard the development of Tasmania. An attempt is now being made to break down the conditions ‘ enjoyed by Australian seamen. Tasmania can be relieved by means other than the passing of this bill. I strongly oppose clause 3. The minutes of evidence taken by the Navigation Commission, which are available to honorable members, reveal the true position of Tasmania as explained by responsible witnesses. Mr. Charles Henry Hughes, Sydney manager of the Union Steamship Company, giving evidence in Hobart, quoted a letter from the then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to the president of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, dated 7th June, 1922. I referred briefly to it yesterday, but the following passage is worth quoting in full:-
You ask that British ships should be exempted from the provisions of the Navigation Act, so far as passenger traffic with Tasmania is concerned. This is quite impossible,. both from a constitutional point of view and also on a matter of practical politics. The Government can grant “ permits “ only where it can be shown that the service by licensed ships is in adequate. No discrimination in this matter can bc made between one State and another. From a practical point of view, the granting of permits to oversea British ships to engage in coasting trade without compliance with any of the Navigation Act conditions would mean the speedy ruin of local shipping. The position of the local owners in this regard may be put in a nutshell. They are required by the Arbitration Court to pay certain wages and observe certain hours, in accordance with the Australian standard of living. The Navigation Act also requires them to provide accommodation, food, &c., according to the same standard. The wages paid and the accommodation provided on the great majority of oversea ships are much below our standards, and these fillips, if permitted, could, and would, seriously undercut the local owners for the trade ulong our coasts. Our local shipping industry cannot exist without protection against the cheap labour competition of other mercantile marines. In this respect the shipowner is in exactly the same position as the business man ashore. How long, I ask you, could the importers, manufacturers, and other business people of Hobart exist if competitors from overseas were permitted to establish themselves in that city, and, under exemption from all Arbitration Court awards, to import and employ coloured or other labour at wages and to work their employees the hours prevailing in, say, Japan, India, or even Great Britain? The whole trading community would be in arms at the mere mention of such a proposal. But such is an exact parallel of what you are now asking in requesting that overseas ships should be exempted from the requirements of the Navigation Act in connexion with the coasting trade between the mainland and Tasmania. In both cases the general public might reap temporary advantage by reason of the cut-throat prices and rates that would prevail for a while, but the ultimate result would he disastrous to the local traders and to the Commonwealth.
In conclusion, I would again assure you of the fact that the Commonwealth Government is sincerely anxious to do all that it can to secure for Tasmania an efficient and comfortable shipping service with mainland ports, and all that can properly be done to secure and foster such a service will he done. I trust, however, that you will, realize from the foregoing that it is quite impossible to grant your request for the issue of permits, to British ships to engage in the coasting trade with Tasmania without compliance^ with the requirements of the. Navigation Act. To do so would, the Government feels assured, be seriously injurious in the ultimate reckoning to the best interests of Tasmania and the Coin.-‘ mon wealth.
That reply is equally applicable to theconditions with which this bill is designed to deal. The Leader of the Opposition.. (Mr. Charlton) was ridiculed for having said that he would favour the establishment of a Commonwealth service, but theright honorable member for North Sydney adopted a similar attitude in 1922.
– Such a service would be useless.
– Evidence taken by the roval commission showed that the “ Bay “ boats carried more apples from Tasmania than had ever been carried by any other line of ships.
– That is not so.
– That evidence was given by growers.
– The evidence related to the quantity of cargo, and not to the regularity of the service.
– The overseas boats will not guarantee regularity of service except for a brief period; and, as the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks) pointed out, the “apple” boats do not commence to call at Hobart until towards the end of the tourist season.
– Will not this bill become operative only in the event of Australian ships being unable or unwilling to provide an adequate service?
– No. Under the existing law the Government has power to grant an unlimited licence to overseas ships to carry goods and passengers if the inadequacy of the existing service is proved ; but the evidence taken by the Navigation Commission showed that the service provided by Australian shipping companies is more than adequate. Admittedly, there are peak periods during which some inconvenience is experienced by shippers and travellers, but the same disability is suffered by Bunbury, Albany, Brisbane, and other ports, and it can never be overcome. To meet unusual or emergent circumstances, a special exemption can be granted by the Commonwealth. For instance, on one occasion the Moeraki was allowed to call at Hobart to pick up Wirth’s circus. But this bill will extend the existing power by enabling the Governor-General to errant licences to the overseas ships to call at Hobart without any consideration as to the adequacy or otherwise of the services maintained by Australian companies. The facts relating to Tasmania’s shipping services are on record in the commission’s report, but are being ignored by the Government. Apparently, that inquiry by the Navigation Commission was futile, for the Government is acting quite contrary to the evidence taken by it and the recommendations based thereon. I quote for the further information of hon orable members the following examination of Mr. Charles Henry Hughes: - 11813. You read Mr, Hughes’ letter in order that it should have weight. Do youthink that those boats should be permitted to run in the interests of the apple people? - They are coming in any case. 11814. They are coming now because the general freight this year is not sufficient for them? - Is that not my point? We are expected to carry on all the year round, whether the trade is good or bad; and then others want to get the cream. 11815. By Mr. Anstey. - I gather from your returns that in 1913, 23,300 passengers were carried between Melbourne and Launceston, and 7,364 between Melbourne and Burnie, making a total of 30,664. On the Melbourne-Hobart service, from January to October inclusive, 437 passengers were carried, and on the SydneyHobart service, 3,263 were carried,making a total of 34,364. Mr. Murdoch gave evidence that about 610 people came in that year by the oversea boats. Therefore, apparently, 98 per cent. of the passengers coming to Tasmania before thewar preferred to travel by the local boats, lt is seen also that 89 per cent. of the travellers came in via northern ports. In 1923, the number of passengers from Melbourne to Launceston increased to 24,213, and the number from Melbourne to Burnie increased to 10,851. The number ofpassengers from Sydney last year was 6,639 in the interstate boats, and 106 in the Commonwealth boats, making n total of 6,745. The total increase is from 35,000 to 42,000, in round figures. Those are your figures? - Yes. 11816. The Chairman. - I make the increase from Melbourne to Launceston in 1923 to be about 1,000. 11817. By Mr. Anstey. - The number between Melbourne and Hobart, from January to October inclusive, was 874 in and out. That service is now cut out. From Sydney to Hobart in 1913 there were 3,263 passengers in and out, and last year the boats carried 6,639. I think that on examination you will find that there has been a greater increase in Tasmania than there has been in any other State relative to the population. I have not had time to work out the cargo returns. I understand that on the Melbourne-Launceston service you added a larger amount of cargo service? - That is so.
That is conclusive evidence that the tourist traffic is fully catered for. The commission was told, also, that Tasmania itself cannot accommodate the holiday tourist traffic, and the honorable member for Wentworth mentioned that on one occasion the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and his family could not obtain board and lodging in the State. The right honorable member for North Sydney was bold enough to say that this Parliament should not be asked to legislate to meet the wishes of a few fastidious tourists, who are not content with the coastal shipping service.
– If that service is adequate, this bill will not be operative.
– It will. The amending act of 1920 gives the Governor-General newer in certain circumstances to issue permits to oversea vessels to engage in the Tasmanian trade. The proposed new subsection 6 provides that, where it is shown to the satisfaction of the GovernorGeneral that the tourist traffic is being injured or retarded, and he is satisfied that it is desirable that unlicensed ships shall be allowed to engage in the trade, he may grant permission for them to do so. None of the evidence which was taken by the Royal Commission on Navigation showed that the tourist traffic was being injured or retarded.
– If it is not being injured or retarded, this provision will not be put into operation.
– The measure has been introduced by the Government with the full knowledge that there is no evidence to warrant it. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) is anxiously awaiting the passage of the bill. So soon as its provisions are applied to the tourist traffic to Tasmania he will seek to have Albany, Bunbury, and Geraldton brought within their operation. As the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said, this will destroy the efficacy of our Navigation Act.
– Is not the honorable member assuming the dishonest administration of the act?
– If there is any evidence that will put a different complexion upon the matter, let it be produced. I make the broad statement that the whole of the evidence is opposed to this legislation. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) asked if I suggested dishonest administration. What does he suggest? The Government is playing up either to the fastidious in our community or to some other interests. The shipping companies do not want the bill; they fought very bitterly the suggestion that oversea vessels should be permitted to engage in the coastal trade of Australia, and gave exhaustive evidence to prove that they were fulfilling their functions.
– I understand it is really at the request of the people of Tasmania that this concession is being made.
– But their position does not justify it!
-It is not being made at the request of fastidious tourists.
– The chairman of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, the editor of the Hobart Mercury, and other interested persons, including Sir Henry Jones, urged that Tasmania was being adversely affected by the operations of the Navigation Act. That could not be proved. There was no evidence either that Albany or Bunbury had been adversely affected. Although the Albany people want the mail boats to call there, the evidence proves that they cannot keep the Katoomba fully loaded. Shipping companies cannot afford to send one of their vessels to any port merely because a few travellers will not avail themselves of another means of transport. Section 286 of the principal act, as amended by section 105 of the Navigation Act 1920, reads -
Where itcan be shown to the satisfaction of the Minister, in regard to the coasting trade with any port, or between any ports, in the Commonwealth, or in the Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth -
If the Minister is now satisfied that it is necessary to license a ship conditionally upon its carrying only passengers, he may do so. He, therefore, already possesses the power that he seeks under this bill. If my conception of the reason for the introduction of the bill is wrong, let some honorable member produce facts and figures to prove that the act is operating detrimentally to Tasmania.
– I do not propose to address myself at any length to the question whether there is “discrimination between States or parts of States; I consider that that was adequately dealt with yesterday. Nor do I propose to deal with the points which confine the matter to one particular State, and endeavour to demonstrate that the service to that State is absolutely adequate, and that, therefore, there was no necessity to take any action to effect an improvement. That argument can be dealt with at length by the Minister (Mr. Pratten). I desire to say a word or two upon the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). That honorable member has asked the committee to so amend the bill that permission to engage in the coastal trade of Australia may be granted only to those unlicensed ships that are manned by white labour. A good* deal of the argument which has been used in support of the amendment has been very wide of the question. It has been suggested’ that unless the clause is amended in the manner suggested we shall in some way infringe the great and sacred principle of a White Australia. The bill has nothing to do with the White Australia policy. That policy - to which I believe every one subscribes - is based upon two great fundamental ideals affectina! our national life; one is that we must” preserve our racial purity, and the other is that we must maintain ‘ our present economic standard. I ask honorable members how either of those principles can be affected by anything which happens on a British ship. Any such happening cannot interfere with our racial purity or economic standards. A good deal of misconception exists in the minds of those who are urging the acceptance of the amendment. I want to make it perfectly clear that the Government stands for the policy of a White Australia, and is prepared to do everything to safeguard it. I remind honorable members opposite, who appear to suggest that the Government does not subscribe to that policy with the whole-heartedness that they display, that the evidence is entirely against their contention. I refer them to the actions of the Government in regard to the sugar industry. Although in their hearts they support that action, which above all others was designed to preserve the policy of a White Australia and the purity of our race, they have not been very loud in their commendation of it.
Opposition Members. - You had no hand in that.
– I entirely agree that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) is entitled to every credit for it. I merely instanced that action to show that the Government whole-heartedly supports the policy of a White Australia, and certainly will not introduce any legislation’ that could in any way infringe it. I assure the House, further, that the Government does not, under the bill, intend to do anything to infringe that policy. I take the matter a step further, and say that we shall do everything in our power to encourage the employment of white men upon ships, where it is possible to do so without detriment to Australian citizens. We have no power to force upon Great Britain our sentimental desire to see white labour employed on British ships. The occasion may arise in the future when only a vessel manned by black labour can meet the requirements of the coastal trade. Why, then, should we prevent Australian citizens . from taking advantage of this because Great Britain will not subscribe to the view that all her ships should be manned by white labour? We are entitled to take action to prevent anything that might conceivably, interfere with our White Australia policy, but we are not entitled to disadvantage our own people /’by endeavouring to force Great Britain to adopt what to us is a very great principle. I ask honorable members to remember that the amendment has nothing to do with the White Australia policy.
– It has a great deal to do with the employment of white instead of black people.
– Apparently honorable members opposite are not prepared to consider the matter on. its merits. They are attempting to arouse political prejudices. Adopting their line of argument, I remind them that the Australian Seamen’s Union has blatantly declared that it has no objection to coloured seamen joining it. If there is any doubt as to who stands most firmly for the employment of white labour in Australian industries, I maintain that we oh this side of the House take up a much stronger stand than do honorable members of the Opposition. I am certainly not going to allow honorable members opposite to suggest by the amendment that they are proposing something in support of the White Australia policy. The amendment has nothing whatever to do with that matter. I point out that if honorable members think that that policy is now in jeopardy, they are a little late in the determined action they propose to take. I would remind them that the Navigation Act has been in existence for a long time, and I ask them if they can discover in that measure any reference to black or white labour. Is there a single provision on the statute-book of this country to prevent Australian ships from being manned by black labour ?
– That was legislated for fourteen years ago.
– No. The honorable member shows that he is lamentably ignorant of the whole subject. There is no provision in our laws to prevent Australian vessels from being manned by black or coloured crews.
– But there are the Arbitration Court awards which the companies employing coloured labour would not observe.
– There is another point that I desire to bring home to honorable members opposite, and particularly the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), who said that this bill was section 286 all over again.
– I said that it was tantamount to that.
– I remind the honorable member that there is nothing in that section to prevent black labour from being employed on the vessels that are licensed. Iwould also remind another honorable member who interjected, that Australian wages are not paid on the licensed ships, and yet they are permitted to trade in Australian waters. Honorable members will remember that the one part of the Australian coast where licences to engage in the coastal trade are granted is the western coast ofWestern Australia, and the licensed ships are manned by black labour. I urge honorable members to regard this subject as it affects the whole of the people, and not those ofone particular set. There is no limitation of the bill to any one State under this clause. It merely provides that, under certain circumstances, where a particular trade is being injured to the detriment of the people of Australia, a licence may be granted. The Government is asking the committee to enact this measure, not because of the circumstances now under consideration, but because in the future different circumstances may arise in which, as on the western coast of Western Australia today, the service desired can only be supplied by the employment of ships manned by black labour. If the amendment were accepted, it would not be possible in these circumstances to furnish the assistance required.
– All the ships now available for this trade, with the exception of seven, are manned by white labour.
– It would be most undesirable to accept the amendment and thus make it impossible, should the. occasion arise in the future, to give necessary shipping services to particular parts of Australia. The other aspect of the matter is one that I do not intend to stress, but it is very serious, in that if we now show discrimination against British ships in the treatment we accord our own vessels - and we shall be doing that if Ave provide that ships carrying black crews are to be treated in a different manner from vessels manned by white crews - we shall be acting contrary to a section of the Merchant Shipping Act of Great Britain, which provides -
The legislature of a British possession may, by any act or ordinance, regulate the coasting trade of that British possession, subject in every case to the following conditions: -
the act or ordinance shall treat all British ships (including the ships of any other British possession) in exactly the same manner as ships of the British possession in which it is made:
In a judgment of the High Court last year the point was taken that because the Commonwealth Constitution Act was passed subsequent to the Colonial Laws Validity Act, we were freed from the provisions of the British statute; but the High Court held that that was not so. If the proposed amendment were inserted in the Navigation Act, its constitutionality could be challenged, and before the decision of the High Court could be reversed, it would be necessary to appeal to the Privy Council. I do not lay emphasis on the fact that it would be necessary to obtain the royal assent to an amendment such as this, because I am certain that, if the constitutionality of a provision that prevented the people from giving effect to their will and determination under their Constitution were challenged, there would be no difficulty in having it altered. I merely mention these matters to show that serious delay might arise if such, an amendment came into operation. What I principally wish to lay stress upon is the point that I took in my opening remarks, namely, that the amendment has nothing to do with the White Australia policy, but is based on the desire, which I think we all share, to see the shipping of Australia carried on, as far as possible, by vessels manned by white crews. But honorable members must show reasonableness, and remember that we should not, merely for a political advantage, be prepared to place a heavy burden on any section of the community. A great deal of the carrying trade of this country, inwards and outwards, is done by ships manned by coloured crews, and it is not fair and reasonable to say that, in no circumstances will we allow necessary relief, such as is proposed to be given under this bill, to be provided, because we object to black crews, although there is no other way of giving that relief, since the ships manned by white crews are not supplying an equal measure ‘of relief. I can assure the committee that the Government is desirous that the White Australia policy shall be observed. That policy is not involved in the measure under consideration, and, in giving effect to it, the Government will only grant a licence to a ship manned by a coloured crew where it is impossible otherwise to provide the relief warranted. That, I think, should be acceptable to honorable members on both sides of the chamber, and I, therefore, urge that the amendment be withdrawn.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 8 p.m.
.- I propose to address myself only to the amendment which I moved last night. In moving it, I spoke only a few words urging the Minister to accept it, and I fondly imagined that he would do so. I was strengthened in that belief when I found that some honorable members on the other side were in accord with the intention expressed in the amendment. I was, therefore, disappointed to hear the Minister’s statement that the Government was not prepared to accept it. That disappointment was increased this evening when I listened to the definite statement of the Prime Minister in regard to it. Let us examine the case presented to the House by the Prime Minister. This bill is to suspend partially the opera tion of the Navigation Act, which took may years to pass through this Parliament; for something like ten years it was under consideration before it. became the law of this country. I agree with the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) that the Navigation Act is one of the finest pieces of legislation on the statute-book of Australia. As the bill introduced by the Government is an attempt to tamper with that legislation, we on this side voted against the second reading. Having been beaten in the division, we are endeavouring to make this legislation as harmless as possible. The Government would have been well advised to accept the amendment. The Prime Minister says that the bill in no way interferes with the principle of a White Australia. When I moved the amendment I said that the bill did not legislate against the White Australia policy. I now repeat that statement.
– The honorable member did not say that. He said that the White Australia policy was involved.
– I know exactly what I said, and I shall not retract one word. The honorable member is doubting me before I have spoken. I said last night that, strictly speaking, the White Australia policy was not. involved. I went further, and said that that policy concerns residence in Australia, that so far as the racial question is concerned it is not involved by this legislation. But I said also that, from an economic point of view, this legislation does affect that policy. The sentiment supporting the White Australia policy is affected also. It is perfectly true, as the Prime Minister stated, that the White Australia policy is concerned with residence in Australia, and with keeping pure the Australian race. That is not affected by this legislation, because coloured seamen on British ships cannot land and reside here. But from the economic point of view the White Australia policy means that our own white people shall not be asked to compete in Australia with coloured people. Surely that means also -that they shall not be asked to compete in the coastal trade of Australia with coloured crews oh ships. I think that is a fair statement of the position.
– The bill will not be brought into operation unless the Australian ships available are insufficient.
– I was about to refer to that matter. The argument put forward is that there will be no competition with white labour on our coast, because the act will be put into operation only when there are no boats manned by white labour available. So long as you give permits to boats manned by cheap coloured labour to trade on the Australian coast when the ships existing are insufficient, so long will the ships on that coast remain insufficient, and so long will it be impossible for us to extend our coastal trade by adding vessels manned by white crews paid at Australian rates. While there may be no competition with the existing shipping - and that I question, because it will depend on the administration of this legislation - what will be the state of affairs warranting the issue of a proclamation stating that shipping is not available ?
– A great deal depends upon the administration of the act.
– Yes. Will it be as sympathetic as it should be? If the Government is influenced by the statements of many honorable members on the other side who want the whole of the Navigation Act scrapped, then I say that the administration of this legislation will bring into competition with our vessels manned by white crews other vessels manned by cheap coloured labour. The Prime Minister asked whether Australia should be handicapped through not being able to take advantage of this legislation at a time when the only boats available would be those manned by coloured labour. He gave an assurance that the Government would not grant permits to boats manned by coloured crews when vessels manned by white crews were available. He said further that the amendment could not -be accepted because it would discriminate between British ships. Yet he gave the House the assurance that the Government would discriminate. Where is the Prime Minister’s consistency? There is none. The Prime Minister’s argument that Australia would suffer because sufficient boats manned by white crews would not always be available was answered last night by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), who said that of the 37 overseas boats trading with Tasmania 30 were manned by white crews. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) endeavoured to discount the importance of those figures by saying that sixteen of those vessels were cargo boats. I now ask him how many of those sixteen vessels carry coloured crews ?
– That reduces the 37 boats by 16, leaving 21. On the Minister’s own showing, seven of these boats carry coloured crews. That means that fourteen of the 21 vessels carrying passengers have white crews. On the Minister’s own figures it is clear that there would still be sufficient ships to meet the deficiency regarding the trade with Tasmania, which he alleges exists, but which we deny. It is useless for the Prime Minister to say that this legislation does not apply to one State only. The Minister who introduced the bill did not say that, and it was not suggested by him that it applied to any part of Australia excepting Tasmania. Every one. knows that it has been introduced for a specific purpose. As the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) stated, the evidence presented before the Navigation Commission proves that there is no justification for this legislation. The Prime Minister having said that we ought not to discriminate between British ships, hastened to add that he did not wish to stress that point. By not stressing it he showed wisdom. Why should we not discriminate between British ships when some of them carry white and some coloured crews? If any legislation exists which prevents our doing so, that legislation should be attacked in this Parliament. According to the Prime Minister, we must not discriminate between British ships; yet the Minister who introduced this legislation introducedt o the last Parliament a measure to discriminate between British manufacturers in connexion with the importation of goods into Australia. By this amendment, we provide that British ships manned by coloured crews shall not get this concession. That, says the Minister, is discrimination.
– In connexion with the deportation legislation the Government discriminated in favour of the Australian as against the Britisher.
– In that case the Government discriminated against the
Britisher, and yet the Minister says that we must not discriminate in regard to British ships, because to do so would violate the Merchant Shipping Act. Let us examine that argument. In what way would what is proposed be discrimination ? If the bill, even with this amendment, is carried, we shall discriminate in favour of British ships as against Australian ships. .Under the Navigation Act no vessels other than those employing crews paid under Australian trade union conditions or arbitration awards can engage in our coastal trade. Even under the amendment the only ships that could trade on the Australian coast without a licence would be British ships. All the vessels manned under Australian conditions are licensed. They get no concessions. The Prime Minister says that there is nothing ‘in the Navigation Act to prevent coloured labour from being employed on any ship trading on the Australian coast. That sounds very well, but it is a specious argument. Every one knows that the Peninsular, and Oriental boats employ coloured crews only because they are willing to work for £2 or £3 a month. During the war, when, in the interests of the Empire, the best crews possible were necessary, the cheap labour of coloured crews was rejected in favour of white labour. But when the war was over, and the patriotic, courageous, aud loyal men who defended the Empire’s shores were no longer necessary, they were turned adrift and their places taken by cheap coloured crews. The Government now wants to hand over the coastal trade of Australia to vessels employing crews of this nature. We on this side contend that this work should be done by vessels manned by white crews under Australian conditions. That is the question which honorable members must decide; they cannot evade it by any subterfuge. ‘ It is not suggested that we should impose hardships on British ships that are not to be imposed on Australian ships. On the contrary, the Government proposals grant concessions to British ships to trade along the Australian coast and to pay wages which are not more than half of those paid to the crews of Australian vessels engaged on the same coast. Yet that is called discriminating against British in favour of Australian ships !
– The Australian Seamen’s Union contains a number of coloured men. If this amendment is carried, and one of those coloured men happened to be a member of the crew of ‘ an Australian ship, that vessel could not receive a licence.
– The honorable member is wrong. The amendment does not apply to any Australian ship ; it affects only unlicensed British ships. Will the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) name one Australian ship on the Australian coast to-day which is unlicensed ? His argument is irrelevant.
– The principle is the same.
– Let us grapple with the facts. What is the effect of the amendment? Its effect is that, while permits may be granted to unlicensed British ships to take part in the coastal trade of Australia - and with that I do not agree–
– Under special conditions.
– I am trying to add to the special conditions. The bill provides that certain vessels may take part in the coasting trade of Australia, paying white seamen half the wages which are paid to seamen in other vessels engaged in the same trade, and my amendment would prevent the owners of those vessels employing coloured crews paid only one-sixth of the Australian rate of wages. It represents a rough-and-ready way of preventing the Navigation Act from being so radically altered as to make it possible to have seamen in the coasting trade of Australia paid at a rate of about £3 per month. Honorable members know that the coloured crews aimed at by the amendment are the cheap sweated crews that are employed on boats like the Peninsular and Oriental Company’s boats.
– Why did the Seamen’s Union during the strike work ships carrying coloured crews, and at the same time tie up British ships?
– The honorable member has reminded me of a point I was forgetting. It is quite refreshing to have the Seamen’s Union held up to us as an example. It is like a fresh breeze blowing through the chamber after listening to the speech we heard from the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) this afternoon. We are now asked to do something which was sanctioned by the Australian Seamen’s Union. This afternoon the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) went even further when he said, “ Why, Mr. Walsh said soandso,” and because Mr. Walsh said it this Parliament should say it.
– That was not the Prime Minister’s argument.
– It was the effect of it. Now Mr. Walsh and the Seamen’s Union are held up to us as patterns of all the virtues. I can understand that the Government, and its supporters, are grateful to Mr. Thomas Walsh, because he is accountable for the gallant array which we see on the other side. There was a deportation stunt by the Government, but not because it was believed that the deportation of any two individuals would make much difference in the settlement of the big problems confronting the country. One Nationalist, in a moment of confidence, said that it was foolish to suggest that the deportation stunt would effect anything in that direction; but it had a wonderful effect in winning for the Government the election. In the circumstances I can quite understand the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Poster) being prepared to follow Mr. Thomas Walsh on a question like this. What does it matter if the Australian Seamen’s Union does admit some coloured men, or that Mr. Walsh said this, that, or the other? What does matter in this legislation is what the members of this Parliament say and how they vote. I ask honorable members opposite how they intend to vote on an important question like this? The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said that the amendment should cause honorable members to pause and consider whether something may not be done to lessen the importance of the sentiment which is the basis of the White Australia policy, and in which many in this country have grown up. It is in keeping with the sentiment of that policy to demand that the progress of Australian industries shall not be retarded by the competition of the products of cheap coloured labour, and that the progress of Australian trade by ships manned by white men shall not be retarded by the competition of vessels employing coloured crews. I stand by the amendment.
.- I agree with the Government in refusing to accept the amendment. In this matter the White Australia policy is not involved in any shape or form - racial or economic. By the passing of the measure the Government proposes to provide for the excess trade which the licensed ships of the Commonwealth are unable to cope with, and by so doing to help to increase the employment of white labour in Tasmania. The purpose of the bill may thus be said to be the maintenance of the White Australia policy. It is a dog-in-the-manger attitude to starve certain citizens of the Commonwealth who ask that certain British boats shall be permitted to carry on a trade which our own boats are incapable of doing. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) quoted copiously from the evidence taken by the Navigation Commission. I remind honorable members that the minutes of evidence taken by the commission cover approximately 18,000questions, and, just as anything may be contended on the strength of certain quotations from Holy Writ, so the attempt may be made to prove anything by the quotation of certain evidence taken by the Navigation Commission. The members of the commission received letters patent from the Governor-General to inquire into aud report upon the effect of the operation of the Navigation Act on trade, industry, and development in Australia and its territories, including the Mandated Territories. The honorable member admitted before this House yesterday that he and those who saw with him were there to defend this monument of legislation, the Navigation Act. I submit that the honorable member received the same letters patent as I did to inquire into the effect of this “monument” upon Australian trade, industry, and development. I say that its effect in many directions has been to retard those things. That has been the more manifest in the remoter parts of Australia. Western Australia, Tasmania, and the northern parts of Queensland have suffered from the operation of the act, and on this subject evidence of great value was submitted to the commission. There are men in this city like Mr. Hugh V. McKay, who have showu great business ability and built up valuable industries. Mr. Samuel McKay, the works manager for Mr. Hugh V. McKay, gave this evidence -
Would you regard the coastwise freights as exorbitant? - Yes, we feel that they are exorbitant. The cost of conveying our goods from one port to another is certainly ve’.y excessive. To bring coke from Queensland to Melbourne costs 33s. per ton.
Was that coke produced in Queensland? - Yes; it came from the Brisbane gasworks.
When he was asked if the firm used Australian timber in the manufacture of its machinery, he said that portion of the timber was Australian. Thien there was this evidence given -
Are not Australian timbers suitable for the manufacture of your machinery? - Yes.
Then why do you not use it altogether? - . Because it is too costly to bring it from Queensland.
He referred, I think, to Queensland silky oak. The firm got the timber it required from Noumea because of the cheaper freight. He explained that if the firm got the timber it required from Queensland, farmers would have to pay more for their machinery, and it was too costly at present. When the members of the commission went to Queensland they found that crockery made in Western Australia was very acceptable, but the freight on a 3’6-ft. ton from Western Australia to Queensland was 90s., whilst the freight from England on a 40-ft. ton was only 70s. We cannot bring our raw materials and factories together because of the excessive freights under the Navigation Act. It is strangling White Australia by permitting the imposition of conditions under which we cannot compete with any other country in the world. With respect to the tourist traffic, the honorable member for Adelaide quoted further evidence, but he admitted that he was on the commission for the purpose of maintaining “ this monument,” and not for honestly ascertaining whether the operation of the monument was or was not detrimental to Australian trade. The honorable member will agree that I reported that the steamship owners had, because of the Navigation Act, been given a monopoly which enabled them to form a combine. They met together and agreed that one company should send a boat to a certain port this week, and another some other boat next week. They agreed that there must be no improvement upon a certain fixed service, and that certain freights and no others should be charged. The port of Albany, which used to be served by about eight ships per month, was limited to one ship a month, although the population of that place had increased by 25 per cent. I am aware that the transcontinental railway took many passengers that were previously carried by sea. The permit system was supposed te give relief where licensed ships could not cope with the trade offering. The Katoomba was held up by a strike, and people in Western Australia who had business to do in the eastern States wished to go by a White Star liner that was in Fremantle at the time. The Deputy Director of Navigation was asked to grant a licence to permit of those people being carried by the White Star liner. He was prepared to do so if the agents of the vessel would apply for it. They refused to do so. I ascertained that they did not apply for a permit because they feared that the union might declare the ship black. This Parliament, by passing the Navigation Act, has placed the control of our interstate shipping in the hands of the Seamen’s Union and the shipping combine. It is not a fair thing to the people of Australia. It should not have rested with the agents of the White Star liner to apply for a permit. There should be a definite announcement by the Government that if licensed ships are held up by strikes and are not rendering service to the people, the Navigation Act will be suspended at least to permit passengers to travel by other boats in order to attend to their ordinary business. Why should our people be persecuted as they are under the present shipping conditions? Mr. E. T. Emmett, ex-Director of the Tourist Bureau, gave evidence before the commission as follows:- 10939. By Senator Duncan. - You opened with a statement that, I think, ought to be enlarged upon. You say, “ The tourist traffic to Tasmania is restricted because of the fact .that the only really comfortable steamers which ever come from mainland ports to Hobart are not allowed to carry interstate passengers.” In your opinion, there is no comfort on those boats. Is there no comfort on the Riverina) - I mean in comparison with the Osterley and the Ormonde. 10940. Are those the only boats that you can get comfort on? - The smaller boats fill up to such an extent that they have to use shakedowns.
There may be a class feeling that these tourists ought to put up with those conditions, but when people have saved money for a holiday they do not want to travel under conditions of semi-privation. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mt. Yates) quoted from other portions of the evidence to show that the tourist traffic of Tasmania has not seriously declined. It is difficult at any time to find ‘the extent of, and reason for, loss of trade. Sometimes “ what the eye does not see the heart does not grieve.” Tasmania established tourist bureaux in Brisbane, Melbourne, and other places to attract people to that State. It spent a considerable sum of money to develop a genuine trade, but the effort was wasted owing to the operation of tha Navigation Act. That trade could have been largely developed if our licensed ships had dealt with it properly. But the shipping companies did not consider it a financial proposition, because their vessels would be in operation for three or four months, and laid up for the remainder of the year. Mr. Emmett’ E evidence continues - 10942. You say, “ The berthing accommodation is over applied for, and people are turned away.” Can you give us any further particulars about that. Have you figures with regard to people being turned away?- I have a telegram from my Sydney manager, dated November, 1921, as follows : - “ Not even a shakedown either sex saloon now available December twenty-first boat.”
Honorable members will notice that to secure berths bookings had to be made a long time ahead. People will .not make arrangements for a tourist trip under such adverse conditions. Mr. Emmett was further questioned - 10943. Do you “know if that condition continued over a series of voyages? - The congestion applies particularly to that boat every year. 10944. What was the name of that ship? - I think that it was the Riverina. I have a telegram of the same date from my Brisbane manager, saying, “ Want of shipping accommodation seriously affecting tourist traffic. Twenty shut out, Sydney, 21st, and Melbourne, 23rd December, will probably cut Tasmania out.” 10945. Would you expect .the companies to hold ships in readiness for that time of the year ? - No. 10946. Did that difficulty recur in 1922?- Yes. I had a wire dated the 14th November, stating, “ Riverina, 20th December, has only a few shake-downs left. Absolutely nothing for ladies. Have request from Brisbane four passengers. Cannot supply.”
During certain months of the year there is an abnormal traffic to and from Tas mania, and it is unreasonable to expect the normal shipping service to cater for it. Although these boats may be excellent from certain aspects, yet they are not of a standard that appeals to the tourist. Sir Mark Sheldon when examined by the commission said -
The effect of the act has undoubtedly been to diminish the facilities for communication and distribution between the States, and at the present juncture, at any rate, this ls very detrimental to the interests of the producers. There has been a curtailment of the facilities that existed in the past.
Do you think that a regular, efficient, and frequent shipping service around the coast of Australia would tend towards the development of this country ? - Nothing would do more in that direction. It seems extraordinary that one can get goods more cheaply from New York to Western Australia than from Sydney to Western Australia.
The commission’s report in that respect reads as follows: -
With regard to the effect of the Navigation Act on primary and secondary production, your Commissioners, after having weighed the evidence and considered the position as it stands, recognize that in order to keep up Australian standards of living, seamen, as well as workers on the land, are entitled to the Australian standard, and in the same manner the shipping companies whose ships are licensed under the Navigation Act, being obliged to provide this high standard of living, are entitled to charge fares and freights commensurate with the added cost to them, in order that they may run at a profit. This is axiomatical, but when an attempt is made to place the primary and secondary producer of Australia, especially the primary producer who exports his products, in an equal position, great difficulty is met with as to how he is to be placed under the Australian standard of living. The shipping company, having passed its obligations on in the shape of higher freights, the primary producer, after paying them, is unable to pass them on. The burden, therefore, must rest upon his shoulders while they are able to bear it.
The effect of the Navigation Act has been precisely what- is set out in that statement. There has been an attempt to extend this exclusive policy of White Australia to our shipping, and there are those who would extend it to the shipping of other countries’. Consequently Australia has been placed in a more insular position than would otherwise be the case.. The convenience and economic requirements of Australia are set aside in the interests of the dual combine which has been made possible by the legislation passed in this Parliament. The commission’s report clearly shows that the operation of the Navigation Act has been detrimental to the workers and general development of Australia. This Government wisely removed the Mandated Territories from the operation of the act. One would think that under section 286 of the Navigation Act we had power to issue to British ships in Australian porta permits to carry passengers, if no licensed ships were available, or if the shipping service were inadequate. That section has proved entirely futile. The arguments circled around the question of the adequacy of a service. The shipping companies contended that it was adequate. If cargo were involved, such as Queensland meat when the price was ls. a lb. in Melbourne and 2d. a lb. in Brisbane, the shipowners would wait until the ship was about to leave before saying whether they could take the cargo offering, and if they declined to do so, it was then too late to get other vessels to take it. The same conditions applied to the passenger traffic. The people of Australia are not getting a fair deal. The conclusion on this point of four of the seven commissioners is as follows : -
The disability applies chiefly to the passenger traffic, and in the case of cargo, the chief complaint is dealt with under the heading of “ Queensland Meat Industry.”
I mentioned the other day that when the original Navigation Bill was introduced, the shipping companies opposed it tooth and nail. When it was passed they combined and made the best of the situation. The Inchcape combine having acquired a controlling interest in Australian shipping does not care to meddle with the Navigation Act, and if the people of any portion of Australia are inconvenienced the combine does not bother to apply for permits under section 286. It is quite content to allow the people in Queensland or Western Australia to wait a week or more for a licensed boat to give themthe service they require. The commission reported: -
With regard to passengers the overseas companies will not bother about applying for permits. By obtaining permits they pick up only the leavings of the interstate vessels and run the risk of serious industrial trouble.
As an illustration of that, the report quoted the experience of the White Star line during a strike of the seamen on the s.s. Katoomba, to which I have already referred. The commission’s report continued : -
It is fairly clear, therefore, that section 286 of the Act has not achieved its object. Its object was to enable use to be made of oversea vessels when an interstate vessel is not available. The object has been defeated bytwo factors, namely : -
the indifference of the oversea companies to casual passenger traffic between interstate ports; and
the attitude of the Seamen’s Union and other industrial organizations.
Having regard to those conditions, I hope that the committee will accept the bill as printed.
– And extend the same concessions to Western Australia ?
– The exemption which Western Australia already enjoys will be jeopardized if this amendment is agreed to. The present trade between that State and Java and other eastern countries has been developed over 40 years. Western Australia requires to retain those markets for its fruit, potatoes, meat, and dairy produce; but if the concessions at present granted to shipping are removed that trade will be strangled. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) referred to the Western Australian State ships. He should have told the committee that the State service shows a large loss annually, and that unless more money is spent to extend the service and probably increase the losses, the north-west will be crippled entirely. It is singular that in Western Australia a Labour Government should have established a State shipping service and that in Tasmania a Government ofthe same complexion should have abolished a State service established by a Nationalist Government.
– The honorable member knows how the shipping companies struck at the vitals of the Tasmanian State shipping service.
– Tasmania’s necessities forced the Labour Government to take a sane action. The taxpayers of Western Australia have paid heavily for the losses sustained by the State ships, and if a Commonwealth line of steamers between the mainland and Tasmania is established it also will prove unprofitable. This bill will enable thousands of persons engaged in the Tasmanian fruit industry, and in catering for the tourist traffic, to earn an honest living. The doginthemanger policy advocated by honorable members oppositein a futile endeavour to make even the ocean white, would deprive the people of the island of their means of livelihood.
– I approach the consideration of the amendment with the open mind of a person who does not usually make arbitrary distinctions between the stern and bow of a vessel, and has never pretended to solve those mystifying differences between starboard and larboard and like phrases that convey so much to the initiated and so little to the layman. It is possible that had I enjoyed the advantage ofhearing 19,000 questions asked and answered in connexion with the royal commission on navigation, I would by . this time have known as little about the subject as does the honorable member for Forrest. But being hampered by the limitations imposed by my innocence, I am driven to analyze the fundamental principle underlying the amendment. In so doing I venture to consider what objects were sought to. be served, and what mischiefs to be cured by the original act, which has been variously described as a monument and a grave-stone.
– It is a grave-stone.
– I do not attempt to draw a distinction either between a monument and a grave-stone. I leave that also to the subtle minds of those gentlemen who heard19,000 questions asked and answered. But I know that the Labour party, of which I have the honour to be a member, strove hard to place the Navigation Act upon the statute-book for the protection of Australian workers, and the maintenance of Australia’s high ideals and favorable conditions of labour. A significant feature of this debate is that the Government, which pretends to uphold the Navigation Act, is being supported in its opposition to the amendment by the opponents of that statute. The honorable member for Forrest who claimed to be dispassionate was so enthusiastic in his opposition as to almost work himself into a white heat of dispassionateness ! I cannot overlook the fact that he and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), are the admitted champions in this House of those who would doubtfully benefit Australia by the unlimited and indiscriminate importation of goods manufactured abroad by coloured and sweated labour. The Minister for Trade and
Customs (Mr. Pratten) should ask himself whether he is safe in such company, and with such support : I hardly think he is. The Minister, as usual, introduced the Bill in terms so pleasant and platitudinous that any one listening to him would have supposed that it does not affect any vital principle of existing legislation, but merely gives expression to a benevolent desire to benefit Tasmania, that Cinderella State which has been for so many years returning to its “ Ma “ with supplications for support and assistance in its troubles.
– That is a very brotherly thing to say.
– A real Victorian touch !
– I have nothing but the kindliest feelings for Tasmania.By an unfortunate accident in some prehistoric cataclysm, it was torn off the coast of Victoria, and therefore I regard it as a relation of the family; but I have always marvelled that navigators should have reached such a high standard of efficiency as to be able to locate it on a dark night. I did visit Tasmania once, and having walked round and had a good look at the island, returned on the following day, thoroughly satisfied with my brief outing. Unquestionably, this vital proposal to whittle away the provisions of the Navigation Act is one of the first fruits of the general election.
– If Tasmania is so unimportant, how can this measure of assistance to it jeopardize the Navigation Act?
– A very important principle may underlie a very unimportant thing - the honorable member, for instance. This bill does contain an important principle; it is one of the first fruits of “ the mandate,” and from this day forward the people will begin to realize, if they have not done so already, precisely what they bought at the last election. Of course, the Minister for Trade and Customs carefully refrained from disclosing tha importance of the measure, and suggested that it waa of merely local interest, and designed only to help Tasmania in its difficulty. But the bubble has been pricked. The honorable members for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) moved an amendment which, in the language of certain members of my party, has “ put the acid on” the Government and its supporters. i-‘- It requires them to declare whether ‘tHey- are champions of the “White Australia policy, Australian conditions of ‘ labour, and that racial purity which the Navigation Act was designed to protect, or are believers iti labour, cheap, coloured, and nasty. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), in his generosity, conceded almost too much when he said that the policy of a White Australia was not involved. I think that to a certain extent it is. That policy involves something more than racial purity - which, of course, is the first and the essential part of it; it embraces also economic conditions, including the question of the just reward of labour. The proposal to grant concessions to ships’ that employ coloured labour at sweated rates of pay is an impingement upon the policy of a White Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), aroused by the fact that the amendment was receiving support from unexpected quarters, and from persons who are. well acquainted with the matter, said that it would be ungenerous to the Australian people who hoped to benefit by the granting of these concessions. That argument might, have been used just as effectively in an attack upon the whole act, it would have come more fittingly from the honorable member for Forrest (Mr.’ Prowse), or the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), who are opposed to the act. If all those honorable members who are ‘ opposed to it backed up their opinions with their votes, the Navagation Act would not have a very long life.
– It would not, if I had my way.
– I would not be so severe upon the Nationalist party as to suggest that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) is typical of nationalism. I give him credit for being in the vanguard, of the reactionaries, if they can have a vanguard. The Prime Minister further said that the amendment amounted to discrimination, and would probably violate the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act a3 interpreted under the Colonial Laws Validity Act. I was entertained by the manner in which the right honorable gentleman put that objection. He apologized for doing so, and concluded His argument by saying that he did not think there was very much in it, because he was certain that no prac tical- difficulty would arise from a desire by this Parliament to legislate in respect of Australian shipping in a way that might be out of harmony with some of the provisions that relate to British ships abroad. I agree with the right honorable gentleman’s conclusions, which prove that there was nothing in; his argument. Further than that I do not agree with his argument. I should like honorable members opposite to understand the real issue. To use a much-harassed word, the “camouflage” has been removed, the pleasant fiction that we are legislating with respect to the tourist traffic to Tasmania is shattered, and the question to be answered is, “Do you stand for the basic principles of the Navigation Act and the White Australia policy; do you believe in cheap coloured labour or for adequatelypaid Australian labour upon Australian ships that trade in our waters?” It must be remembered that a British or any other ship that enters an Australian port is in Australia. The discredit of having sweated Iascar crews to do work that ought to be done by Australians at Australian rates of pay will attach to everybody who supports that policy. I ask honorable members opposite to consider the matter on its merits, and not to expect that any special devotion to Tasmania will save them at the final judgment upon this matter, which is vital to Australia and Australians. I did not wish to say anything offensive to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson). He is an old friend of mine, of whose capacity I have a very high opinion. I value his friendship greatly, and if I hurt his feelings I am sorry.. I shall support the amendment, and I shall be interested to note the number of honorable members opposite who cross the floor to give effect, by their votes, to what they have so often mouthed in pleasant platitudes upon the hustings, when seeking the votes of the Australian electors.
.- I am satisfied that every member of this House desires information which will enable him to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, so I shall relate some of the experiences that I, unfortunately, have had of the operation of the Navigation Act. I was chairman of directors of the Oro Bay Plantation Company Limited. The shareholders in that company were not in very affluent circumstances, but they regarded coco-nuts as “ the consols of theEast.” The plantation comprised upwards of 1,000 acres under coco-nuts, on the northern slopes of the Hydrographer Ranges, near the township of Buna, on the north-east coast of Papua. The capital of the company was originally £25,000, but that was found to be inadequate, and a further £25,000 was added to it, again largely by the contributions of persons who were not in very affluent circumstances. After some years we began to produce copra. We then found that we were in a worse position financially than when we were not producing it. Because of the provisions of the Navigation Act, we could not ship it elsewhere than to Sydney, and the cost of shipping was always from £1 10s. to £2 a ton greater than the price which was obtained for the copra in Sydney. We made representations to the Commonwealth Government through our agents, Loudoun and Company. We considered that, if we were placed in a position in which we could continue our industry, many tons of copra would go to Sydney, thus increasing the wealth of Australia. The industries in the Commonwealth would thereby reap an advantage and a greater amount of money would go- into the pockets of the workers. We could not obtain the relief we sought, and we lost, every penny of our capital.
– In what year did this occur ?
– The company went out of existence about two years ago.
– Is the honorable member aware that the Navigation Act was not proclaimed until 1921?
– We carried on for some years after the act was proclaimed.
– The company was dead before the act was proclaimed!
– Our disabilities were caused by the operation of the Navigation Act. I am perfectly satisfied that my facts are correct. There was a large number of small shareholders in the company, and the six directors considered that the responsibility rested upon them to endeavour to save them from loss. They could not recommend the subscription of further capital, so they promoted a new company. Circulars were sent to the shareholders telling them frankly what the position was, and stating that the directors proposed to put into the company an additional £500 each and to allow the old shareholders to come in if the venture proved profitable. That £500 also was lost by each director. There were in various stages of development 1,000 acres under coco-nuts. I believe so strongly in the White Australia policy that if I could be sure that the Navigation Act was in the best interests of Australia I would gladly suffer the loss of my £5,500. It might be well worth the while of honorable members to consider whether that act confers the benefits that are claimed for it, or whether it is not that class of monument upon which an epitaph should be written.
– This matter is far more serious than the Government would have us believe. The proposed new sub-section reads -
Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that the tourist traffic between anyports in the Commonwealth or in the Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth is being injured or retarded, and’ the Governor-General is satisfied that it is desirable that unlicensed ships be allowed to engage in the trade, he may, by notice published in the Gazette, grant permission to unlicensed British ships of such size and speed as are specified in the notice to engage in the carriage of passengers between those ports, subject to such conditions (if any) and for such period as are set out in the notice.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has moved an amendment that after the words “unlicensed ships” there shall be inserted the words “manned by white labour.” The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) spoke disparagingly of the State-owned ships that trade along the coast of Western Australia. I have travelled on those ships.
– I said that they were experiencing an annual loss.
– I grant that, but efforts to settle a country invariably result in loss in the initial stages. Even the Commonwealth Bank showed a loss af the commencement of its operations. Will the honorable member deny that the State-owned steamers to which reference has been made were the only vessels on which the rates and fares were not raised during the war ? The honorable member, as a representative of Western Australia, should be prepared to pay that compliment to that line. Tasmania derives many advantages from its tourist traffic. I have visited that State on many occasions, and have always enjoyed the experience. The Labour party wishes its people the best of fortune, and if it had the power it would see that every part of the Commonwealth was served by Government-owned vessels. Seeing that the mainland is girded by railways, Tasmania is entitled to an efficient and regular steamship service. Unfortunately for itself, however, it has been so badly ruled by Nationalist governments that the people have now handed over the control to the Labour party. I do not desire to be unkind in saying that the idea promulgated some years ago that, on account of Tasmania’s, proximity to Victoria, it should be annexed by that State, might have been acted on with advantage. Despite its small population, its representation in the Senate is equal to that of New South Wales, whose population exceeds its population by 2,000,000. The bill raises the question of the introduction of coloured labour. I have no wish to point the finger of scorn at any person whose skin is black. One of the basic principles of unionism is that if coloured people are here in our midst, and are prepared to work for the same wages, and under the same conditions as white men, they should be treated as comrades. I am proud of the friendship of a man whose skin is as black as the ace of spades. He is a high officer in one of the unions, and he is received as a comrade and friend. The assertion that the Labour party is at enmity with people whose skins are not white, is untrue. “ Has any honorable member travelled, as I have, as an officer on a ship on which lascars were employed ? Is it denied that they are frequently kicked, and that their serong often ill-uses them? They are employed by the Peninsular and Oriental Company simply because they furnish cheap labour. If the companies were compelled to pay them the same wages as white men receive, .they would refuse to employ them. A larger complement of lascars than of white seamen is retained, because the wages paid are low. On 5th May, 1900, in a debate initiated in the House of Commons by Mr. Have-
Dr. Moloney. lock Wilson, when he was a real friend of the sailors, one admiral stated that the strength of the British Navy was being undermined by that very company employing lascars, because in time of war we could not depend on coloured crews to fight our battles. He refused to vote with his party, because he thought it was in the wrong. By this bill, however, the Government is seeking to introduce the thin edge of the wedge of coloured labour. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) has admitted the difficulties in regard to Papua and New Guinea, and I hope that before the division is taken, the Government will see its way clear to accept the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin). If it cannot accept the wording of the amendment, I hope that it will accept a similar amendment embodying the same idea. That, I feel sure, would be gratifying to honorable members on this side. We are desirous of helping Tasmania, but not by the means provided under the bill. The only slaves we have yet had in Australia were the kanakas employed in Queensland. I believe I am the only member of this Chamber who witnessed the end of that period of slavery. I saw how Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company handled those natives when they were returned to their own shores. Although I have said much by way of criticism of that company, I will pay it the compliment of saying that there was not one incident in connexion with the return of the natives to which exception could be taken. Three times we approached their island - their village was only a mile from the place where they had to be landed - -because of the’ fear of the natives that they ‘ might have to pass an unfriendly village and be made kai kai. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) is the only present member who was in this House when there was a strong black Australia party sitting on the opposite side. As election followed election those who advocated black labour, and the retention of the kanakas in Queensland, disappeared one by one. The final representative of that section was Mr. Bruce Smith, the exmember for Parkes, who disappeared after about 40 years of parliamentary life. If there is one principle dear to the heart of every true Australian it is the White Australia policy. The division on this amendment will be closely watched, and I ask those honorable members who are younger than I am to note how the numbers in favour of black labour will continue to decrease. To-day this Government is all-powerful. It can do anything it pleases by its combined majorities in this Chamber and in the Senate; but surely it will not take an unfair advantage of the Opposition. If, even in this small matter of seven ships, it will give preference to coloured labour, some members of the party opposite will live to regret it. I am sure that when the proposal is brought before the board of directors of the great Australian Natives Association, as it undoubtedly will be, it will be resented. I have travelled throughout the length and breadth of Tasmania, and -I feel confident that the people of that State would not desire a shipping service at such a price as the abandonment of the White Australia policy. All they want is a fair chance of building up their tourist traffic, and catering for their ordinary commercial requirements. On arrival in Tasmania on one occasion I applied to the firm of Holyman and Sons to see if I could secure a berth for ‘my daughter on the return journey. On the voyage from Melbourne I had been content to sit on the deck. I received an answer in the affirmative, and three weeks before the vessel was due to sail I went to book berths. But I found that no berths had been ‘ reserved, and I remonstrated so strongly with the captain that at least a shakedown was found for my daughter. I called a meeting of the passengers, who decided that Holyman and Sons had behaved most contemptibly in the matter of the fares charged, and the travelling conditions provided. I did not object to the fare in the case of my daughter, but I took exception to the payment of my own fare. The company asked me why, and I gave my reasons. Then a member of the firm wrote a letter which was a tissue of the most awful lies I had ever read. I pledged my honour to the Minister of the day that if Holyman and Sons would make a sworn declaration that the statements contained in the letter were true, I would prosecute them for perjury. But the member of the firm concerned declined to make such a declaration. That. fare has never been paid, and I believe that two of my fellow passengers on that occasion followed my example. The vessel was good enough, but to the management and the untruthful statements by the firm I took strong exception. That, however is a bygone matter. Tasmania is a land full of opportunities. Its mineral resources in tin . are unequalled in any other part of the world. In that huge lake upon the mountain it has a wonderful source of power, which, owing to the ‘ actions of governments in the past, was not a success, but under the existing administration is proving of benefit to the State. Any measure brought before this Chamber which has for its object the assisting of Tasmania, while not interfering with the White Australia policy or with the Navigation Act, will have my support, and I feel sure that of every member on this side.
– When this measure was before the Chamber last night, I said that I had refrained from speaking on the motion for the second reading, and until the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) moved bis amendment, it had not occurred to me to offer any contribution to the debate. Certainly I had no intention of objecting to the measure. But the amendment raised a new issue, on which I stated my views shortly, suggesting that it would be advisable to have the opinion of the Prime Minister upon it. That opinion has since been given to us. The position must, therefore, be again reviewed in the light of the declaration of the Prime Minister on the attitude of the Government on the White Australia policy raised by the amendment. The honorable member for Yarra, always a forcible and, I may add, a most ingenious debater, has replied to the Prime Minister; but his arguments, although forceful, were not convincing. What he said would have come naturally to my own lips, and I, therefore, had no difficulty in following the workings of his mind. We have also heard the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), and have had the advantage of a most interesting and illuminating travel talk from the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney). Of oratory and argument there has been no lack; but all is not gold that glitters, and I have come somewhat reluctantly to the conclusion that their passionate declarations of unflinching adherence to the White Australia policy are not entirely unconnected with party tactics. One side asserts that this bill imperils the White Australia, policy, the other denies it. Therefore, I ask myself whether the bill before us does imperil the White Australia policy, or substantially impairs that statute to which some honorable members have referred as a monument of legislation, and which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) spoke of as a gravestone. That which inclines my mind most against the bill is the jeering reference to the Navigation Act made by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) in his speech, and the interjections of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory). When these honorable gentlemen spoke of the Navigation Act as having retarded the advance of Australia, I felt inclined to say exactly what I think of those who held such opinions. But, realizing that this is a new Parliament, I, with much reluctance, intend to confine my remarks to the amendment.. What is the proposal contained in the Bill ? It is to authorize the Government to grant permits for overseas vessels to trade between certain ports of Australia. The avowed object is to facilitate tourist traffic. Although it is not so stated in the bill, this legislation is designed to assist Tasmania. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan), who regards so much of the earth as is not included in the environs of Melbourne as a mere suburb, spoke disrespectfully of Tasmania, much as the honorable member for Swan spoke disrespectfully of the Navigation Act. But why should we not assist Tasmania ? I ask the committee : Is the Navigation . Act so poor and anaemic a thing as to be in danger- from the Minister’s attack? The act, in my opinion, is essential to the life of Australia, and similar legislation is responsible for the greatness of England and of the United States of America. But is the carrying of apples on a Peninsular and Oriental boat, or the conveyance of tourists on an Orient boat, with the fearful alternative that there may come a day when some of them may have to be carried on a Peninsular and Oriental boat, calculated to interfere with the White Australia principle, and to destroy the Navigation Act? The arguments against the bill were summed up by the honorable member for Yarra, who said that it was designed to undermine the trade union movement and to reduce the standard of living, that it is an attempt to do by a stab with a dagger what no man would dare with the stroke of a sword. Such things are easily said : I could have said them myself, but the thing that matters is : Are these the facts ? In itself the measure is unobjectionable; but because of certain possible constitutional difficulties it has been deliberately framed without mention of any particular port or ports in the Commonwealth. It is designed to deal with the conveyance of tourists, but for the rest its intention is expressed in general terms. The bill introduces no new principle. What it proposes to do has, in substance, been done for years, under section 286 of the Navigation Act. It is well to remember that fact, and just what can be now done under the act. There is, for example, nothing in the Navigation Act to prevent a Peninsular and Oriental boat from taking apples or. other cargo from Hobart, or from Sydney; that has. always been permitted, though some honorable members, resembling Monsieur Jourdain, have only just awakened to something that has been so from the beginning. Apples have always been carried in these vessels, but apparently it was only when we sprinkled them with arsenic that the fact became known. It is objected that the proposed legislation may be used to the injury of the White Australia policy. I admit that to be possible; but the Prime Minister has assured us that it is not the intention of the Government. I have, therefore, to ask myself whether T ought to vote for the amendment, because under the bill as drafted the Government may in the future do . something wrong. I repeat that the bill itself does no harm to the White Australia policy or the Navigation Act. The honorable member for Batman spoke of his predecessors who were responsible for the Navigation Act. I am responsible for that act, and for section 2S6, under which, to-day, fruit and passengers are carried by oversea vessels employing coloured labour under permits granted by the Commonwealth Government between the northern ports of Western Australia. That was permitted, not by any of the hybrid Governments which I brought into existence - it was done by a pure merino Labour Government. It is not wood-wool, but the wool of the original ram. I see no real difference between carrying passengers on oversea steamers from Perth to Broome or Derby and carrying them between Sydney or Melbourne and Hobart or Launceston. Honorable members generally seem to be unaware that this has been going on in Western Australia for years. The late Senator R. Guthrie and I investigated the matter on the spot, and although we were both men to whom the touch of coloured labour was, as it were, the taint of leprosy, we agreed that an exemption, on certain Western Australia ports, was essential, and should be made. The bill in proposing to grant permits to carry passengers between Australian ports makes no departure from settled principles that have long been applied. But the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) says that it may be used to injure the White Australia policy. Against that we have to put the assurance of the Prime Minister that it will not. Time will show which of these is right. When I find that anything is done under this bill which is a violation of the White Australia policy, and which does impair the vital principles of the Navigation Act, then I shall be the first to protest. Until then I am content with the assurance of the Prime-Minister. .The honorable member for Batman repeated what has been said by other honorable members, that the racial purity, as well as the economic welfare, of this country, will be affected by the Government proposal. He surely cannot have considered for a moment the circumstances to which this measure can lend itself. It cannot be suggested that our racial purity will be endangered by the carrying of passengers in a Peninsular and Oriental boat from Sydney to Hobart. As for possible injury to the economic welfare of the country, I am content to wait until the Government, under cover of giving to Tasmania that assistance which its geographical circumstances demand, does something which will aim an effective blow at the hea*t of unionism or the White Australia policy. Then, but not until then, I shall act.
– No one who listened to the speech just delivered, ‘and to that de livered by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) last night; could imagine that that they were delivered by one and the same person. The speech delivered last night was reported, to some extent, in the morning newspapers, and it may be interesting to compare the report with what the right honorable gentleman has said this evening. Some very peculiar work must have been done upstairs this morning at one of those very interesting meetings of the Nationalist party which we know do take place in other parts of this building. The waters were very troubled last night when the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) moved his amendment; but honorable members, no doubt, noted the look of complete complacency on the faces of honorable members opposite when they assembled here this afternoon. We knew that there must have been a good deal of caning upstairs of those who spoke out of their turn last night. For the benefit of honorable members who did not hear the right honorable member for North Sydney last night, I shall put on record what he said then in order that it may be compared with what he has just said to-night. The heading to the report of the right honorable gentleman’s speech last night is “Mr. Hughes critical.” He is reported to have said -
The amendment had raised, a question which compelled members to look around and see where they were.
– He has found out since.
– The report continues - .
It seemed that of 37 ships to which the hill would apply, 30 were manned by white crews. Members were asked to vote against an amendment that laid down that interstate ships should “be manned by white crews. That placed them in a very awkward position.” The principal act embodied one of the most vital principles of the Constitution. Naturally, it imposed hardships, one of which the bill, it was hoped, would remedy, but that remedy should be such as would not strike a blow at any vital principle of Australian policy. Mr. Pratten’s excuse for not accepting the amendment did not strike him as being sound.
He took the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) to task last night and reprimanded him for not accepting the amendment. He went on to say -
He did not believe that Mr. Pratten was satisfied that the bill was” one which would have to receive the royal assent. He did not believe that it would cause Downing-street a moment’s worry. Some way out, he thought, would have to be found. He was extremely doubtful, if the bill were passed, if the combine controlling deep-sea shipping would interfere with the interstate trade of the companies in which it had a great financial interest.
He further said that some way out of the difficulty would have to be found, and upstairs this morning the right honorable gentleman saw the light. How he can reconcile the speech he made last night with that which he has just made passes my comprehension.
-They are twins by the same mother.
– Then I am sorry for both the twins and the mother. I am sorry for the mother of such twins, and I should imagine that she would feel like disowning twins that were so unlike one another. One statement made by the right honorable gentleman struck me as very interesting. I do not wish to misquote him. He said that he thought there was a danger that the bill would violate the White Australia policy, but the Prime Minister had given his assurance to the House that it would do no such thing. The right honorable gentleman is prepared to accept the assurance of a gentleman who on another occasion said that if the right honorable member for North Sydney went down he was prepared to go down with him. The right honorable member did go down, but the Prime Minister remained floating above the water. The Prime Minister is the gentleman whose word, in the face of this, the right honorable member for North Sydney now says he is prepared to accept. It may appear to some that this is a matter which can be considered in a light-hearted fashion, but the people regard statements made here very seriously. A very definite statement in opposition to the bill, and in support of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), was also made last night by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson. I do not know whether the punishment administered upstairs this morning was administered, with the same effect, to that honorable member at the Country party meeting held downstairs this morning. He, of course, had his caucus to attend this morning, and as the two parties opposite are one, what is done down below is but an echo of what is done above.
– That is not what the Bible says.
– Unfortunately, in this House some persons do not follow the Bible. If they did we should have a greater degree of consistency and truthfulness than is often displayed here. We know that so far as honorable members opposite are concerned, those who meet down below have to do exactly what they are told to do from above. Although in order to tickle the ears of the electors they are supposed to function as two different parties, we know that they are one and the same.
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The honorable member is going beyond the amendment.
– I was answering an interjection. Whena division takes place on the amendment, we shall know whether downstairs this morning the same drastic measures were used as those which caused the topsy-turvy attitude of the right honorable member for North Sydney. It cannot be very pleasing to the right honorable gentleman to be placed in such a position. That such a change of attitude should occur as the result of drastic measures taken by the caucus is not creditable to the caucus or to those upon whom such obligations have been imposed. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) indulged this evening in one of his many swan songs. We are so accustomed to hear his views on these matters that if he had to-night adopted any other attitude than that which he did adopt we should have been as much surprised as we have been by the change in the attitude ‘ of the right honorable member for North Sydney. Some little time before the last election the right honorable member for North Sydney seemed to go out of his way to make himself a little unpleasant to. the Government, but lately he seems to go out of his way to please the powers that be, who may have some gifts to offer. I am not concerned about that aspect of the matter, but I am concerned, as I think the people will be, about such a sudden change in the attitude of the right honorable gentleman towards so important a measure in the course of one night. I wish now to refer to a statement made by the Minister for
Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) and several other honorable members opposite to the effect that this measure is necessary because they wish to obey something that will go down to history as a “ mandate “ which they claim to have received from the electors at the last election. The word” mandate” is like the blessed word “ Mesopotamia,” and I wonder what sins are going to be committed in its name. I venture to think, short as the time is that we have been here, that under the powers which it claims to have received from the people, the Government will be prepared to commit every form of political topsy-turvydom from political pitch and toss to manslaughter. I ask the Minister and honorable members opposite generally if they seriously claim to have received a mandate from the people to do what is proposed to be done under this bill. Do they interpret their mandate as giving them power to man boats trading to Tasmania with lascar labour? Do they seriously contend that they have been given a mandate to place coloured labour on boats carrying tourists to Tasmania? To make such a claim is to cast a slur upon the electors, and to do an injustice to the whole people. What is the use of saying that this proposal will not interfere with the White Australia policy? The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) admitted last night that it did, and so did the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes).
– The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) said that it did not.
– What I said was that it might not affect the policy from the racial stand-point, but that it certainly would from the economic and sentimental aspects.
– The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) repeated to-night the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), that it would not affect the White Australia policy from either the racial or economic stand-points. That sort of talk might be all right at election time, but it is of no use here. Nobody with any sense could help admitting that the employment on these boats of lascars at less than half the rates paid for Australian labour would seriously affect the policy from the economic stand-point.
– My constituents are sensible enough to realize that it would not.
– If the honorable member repeats that statement often enough, he may come to really believe it, but even that would not make it a fact. The name of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has been coupled so often with that of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) that they have come to be associated as political twins, but I think that he will baulkat endorsing the sentiments that the honorable member for Forrest has expressed to-night.
– If I had my way I would repeal all the sections of the Navigation Act that prevent British ships from working on our coasts. I would let all the boats come in.
Mr. PARKER MOLONEY. Evidently the honorable member for Swan refuses to be saved from contamination.
-I believe in the White Australia policy more than the honorable member, and my way of working for it will protect it more thanhis.
– It is a remarkable thing that the honorable member should be allying himself with the president of the Seamen’s Union, Mr. Walsh. Not so long ago he was holding him up to ridicule. During the election the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) could not say anything too severe about Walsh. He said that our party was associated with him, and that, therefore, we were seriously in error. Now that we have disclaimed the sentiments that Walsh is said to hold in regard to the employment of black labour, we are still in the wrong. We were wrong when, in the Prime Minister’s opinion, we were associated with Walsh, and we are still wrong now that, in his opinion, we are not associated with him. Honorable members opposite, as a matter of fact, have suddenly become converted to certain views that Walsh holds. The position of the Ministry is peculiar. One of its supporters in this Parliament, Senator Barwell, who was elected to the Senate to fill the vacancy created by the death of a Labour senator, is an avowed advocate of black labour. The Prime Minister, who attempted to make capital out of our alleged association with the Seamen’s Union, some of the members of which, he said, advocate the employment of coloured crews on vessels, is himself closely associated with a gentleman who for many years has been an advocate of admitting black labour to Australia. Senator Barwell was, I suppose, in the caucus this morning when this matter was discussed. He is, in any case, strongly opposed to the White Australia policy.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The plight of the Ministry is even worse. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) last year made a violent - attack upon the Government for renewing the sugar embargo, but, notwithstanding his preference for sugar grown by cheap black labour abroad, he is now Minister for Works and Railways. In view of all these facts, I suppose we should not be surprised that the Government is seeking to break down our White Australia policy. A remarkable change has occurred in the ministeral ranks within the last 24 hours. When the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) moved his amendment last evening, several honorable members opposite were most anxious to profess their allegiance to the principles he advocated. Among them were the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson). Although I do not wish to do the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) an injustice, I understood that he also, by interjection, intimated his sympathy with the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Yarra. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Marks), in reply to an interjection by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), said that he would not like to travel to Tasmania on a boat worked by coloured labour. Both by interjection and by speech last night four honorable members opposite expressed their sympathy with the sentiments of the honorable member for Yarra. Notably we had the speech of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). It is regrettable that there are honorable members in this chamber who completely change their views at the crack of the whip.
– The honorable member does not really think that any whip would change their opinions.
Mr.PARKER MOLONEY. - The whip helped. When a Minister is put in charge of a bill, he ought to be able to paddle his own canoe, and to see it through. Last night the Minister was in an embarrassing position. He had made to a deputation at Hobart a statement largely on the lines of the speech made last night by the honorable member for Yarra. The Minister said, in effect, that he deprecated any interference with the Navigation Act that would violate the White Australia policy. Because he had previously said too much upon this subject, the Prime Minister was called in to make a speech that the Minister in charge of the bill should have been prepared to make himself. Last night he said that there were several reasons why the motion moved by the honorable member for Yarra could not be accepted by the Government, but the only reason he gave was that the bill, if amended, might not receive the royal assent. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) tore that excuse to shreds, and we have had no other reasons from the Minister. The Prime Minister ran the rule over him, when he practically took the bill out of his hands, and, as the Minister is no doubt feeling the indignity, we shall probably never know the other reasons of which he spoke.
.- The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) would make a very good actor, and if we could only believe that he was in earnest we might take more notice of him.
– He does not loop the loop as some honorable members do.
– I am fairly straight out in what I say. If I had my way I should repeal the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act so far as they obtain to British shipping. It is disgraceful to borrow money from the Old Country, ask it to assist us, get protection from it, and then when a British boat arrives at Fremantle we are not allowed to travel on it to the east. I should like to know whether the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) are supported by honorable members opposite. He assumed the role of an absolute wrecker. He did not care how the operation of the Navigation Act injured Tasmania or tended to destroy their industries or their trade. Honorable members opposite laughed boisterously at his ridicule of that small State, which has undoubtedly suffered severely horn the Navigation Act. When a bill is introduced in this Chamber to give only a portion of the relief that should have been given to Tasmania twelve or thirteen years ago, instead of supporting it, honorable members opposite ridicule it. That State is in a serious financial position. For three successive seasons its tourist traffic has been destroyed.
– That is not correct.
– It is correct; and I can only conclude that honorable members opposite are entirely in sympathy with the shipping combine and the strikers. One would think that they held a brief for them, and were afraid of anything being done to limit the profits of the combine. There is not the slightest doubt that there is in existence a shipping combine, which is inimical to the development of this country.
-What does the honorable member suggest doing with the combine 1
– Honorable members opposite have done a lot to build it up. Let us have more freedom and competition. Our desire is to build up a White Australia. Are we not helping to do this if we grant facilities to Tasmania to export her apples and build up her tourist traffic? Honorable members opposite talk about sentiment. Have we heard any of them condemning the Seamen’s Union, an organization which is open to men of every country and colour ?
-Does the honorable member agree with the black-labour policy of the Seamen’s Union?
– I know nothing about it other than Walsh’s statements. I want to build up a White Australia. ‘ Some honorable members condemned the Government for amending the Navigation Act to permit Singapore boats to trade on the north-west coast of Western Australia, but without that facility what would have happened to the people there ? Western Australia has a State shipping service, which was referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney). He travelled with me on that boat, and we saw disgraceful things perpetrated at Port Hedland. It was a derelict boat with a derelict crew. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) was also with me on a later occasion, and he was able to see the conditions prevailing on the State-owned boat.
– I saw, nob coolies, bub white men working under Australian conditions.
– The conditions were quite different on the Burns, Philp boat, which trades between Melbourne, Java and Darwin. On that boat the service was magnificent, but on the other there was insufficient accommodation and an inadequate service. Since this State service has been operating the charges on the Western Australian coast have increased by as much as 250 per cent., and enormous losses have been sustained by the State. The people there would have been far better served if there had been no State interference. Because I believe in the White Australia policy, I want to build up this country and people its vast undeveloped areas; but the only way in which that can be done is by providing the people we settle in these outback and isolated spots with means to. get their produce economically to market. In doing all we can to improve the position of the producers of Tasmania, there is no attempt to do any injury to Australian sentiment. But, on the other hand, we are helping our white settlers to succeed in their industries. There is not one word in the Navigation Act, of which the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) is so proud, that deals with the question of coloured labour. This committee will do no injury to the White Australia policy by providing the people in our isolated districts with facilities to ship their produce instead of harassing them with all sorts of wretched restrictions, which will tend to make the Navigation Act, not a monument, but a grave-stone, to the White Australia policy. I trust that the amendment will be defeated.
– As the debate progresses I am more than ever convinced by the heated denunciations and protestations of every honorable member who has spoken on the ministerial side that this bill is only the beginning of the end of the Navigation Act. Even the very father of the act (Mr. Hughes) has within 24 hours been made to see the position in a different light. Last night the bill was to him a distinct attack on the principles of the
White Australia policy. To-night he asks what kind of an act it is that cannot stand the modification that the bill proposes. I am reminded by the honorable member for Hume that the light the right honorable gentleman has seen probably comes from the windows of Australia House, 12,000 miles away. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has spoken of an experience we mutually went through. Eirst of all we were on the steamer Bambra, travelling from Fremantle to Darwin, and I made it. my business to fmd out the wages and conditions of the men on the vessel. I found that most of them were married, and had their homes in Fremantle or Perth. They were being paid Australian wages. They were working under Australian conditions, and were doing good work.
– And they were spending £30,000 a year in Fremantle.
– The whole of the money which these men were paid by the State of Western Australia under rates fixed by an Australian Arbitration Court went to raise . Australian children, and feed and clothe and educate them. Every penny spent in procuring goods and machinery for the upkeep and maintenance of the Bambra was spent by Australians in Australia and under Australian conditions. They were a fine type of Australians on that State instrumentality, which is always being sneered at, possibly because it employs white labour. I heard of other boats trading on that coast under licences. I heard of the conditions on those boats just as the honorable member for Swan has heard of them. I heard of the degrading conditions imposed by the sweaters who own the boats and have a licence to feed their sweated crews on rice and fish and pay them £1 a month.
– That is what the honorable member for Swan stands for.
– Exactly, and he compares the service provided on a White Australian State-owned boat with that which obtained on a Burns Philp boat. At Darwin we linked up with the Nationalist ideal of cheap coloured labour, which is said to be so necessary for the development of a White Australia. By what mental gymnastics can people lead themselves to believe that for the development of a White Australia it is neces sary to employ black or coloured labour on our coast? It is specious reasoning, to say the least of it. I could apply a stronger term, but probably Mr. Chairman would not allow it. We left Darwin on the Montoro, owned by Burns, Philp and Company. On that vessel Chinese are employed in the cabins and as waiters, Malays are employed as deckhands, and Indian coolies are at work in the stokehold Just as I made it my business to investigate the White Australia conditions on the State instrumentality, so did I make it my business to investigate the conditions operating on a licensed boat trading on our coast. I found them to be such as should not be tolerated by Australians. The Chinese were being paid about a fourth of what Australian stewards would get, and it takes about two Chinamen to do what one average Australian steward could do. I consider that one Australian deck hand could do about three times the amount of work one Malayan does. These great developers of the Empire, Burns, Philp and Company, who, with other similar corporations, are subsidized by the National party, and held up as a great model to be copied by Australians, employ three different nationalities on their boats, because they know that the three different races cannot get together and hold meetings, and, incidentally, raise their wages or cause strikes. When the Montoro went ashore on a reef, and there was occasion to discharge a good deal of the cargo, I heard the motley crew in the hold slinging cargo. As one who has worked on wharfs, I know how cargo should be slung and handled; but, having seen a dozen coloured men doing the work of three white men, and gabbling in three languages, I was confirmed in my belief that the Navigation Act, which was sponsored by the Labour party, is in the interest of white labour. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) spoke of developing Australia and making the country self-supporting and self-reliant. Apparently he would do that by the introduction of black labour. Senator Barwell and others have said that the only way in which the north of Australia can be developed is by the use of coloured labour, and one Minister of the present Cabinet said that, whilst he was opposed to the introduction of coloured workers, yet if they were necessary he would allow them to enter the Commonwealth after having been sterilized. I know only one method of sterilization that could be effectively applied to them. I feel strongly in regard to this mattery because I believe that the influence which caused the previous Government to relieve the Inchcape combine of taxation amounting to £100,000 a year made available at least portion of the vast amount of money that was used to misrepresent the Labour party during the last election campaign, and is behind this endeavour to break down the White Australia policy. Racially, economically, and socially that vital principle is being undermined. The man who says that Australia will not be affected economically by the employment of cheap coloured labour on boats trading between Australian ports, does not understand economics. Any one who says that such coloured labour will not affect us racially ignores conditions in our ports which are common knowledge to men of the world. The coloured crews come ashore and mix with our people, and we know what happens.
– They come ashore now.
– They do, and if they are allowed to come in greater numbers the menace to our racial purity will correspondingly increase. For what results from this policy the advocates of black labour must take the responsibility. No matter what specious arguments may be used, or how sensational the mental somersaults turned by honorable members opposite, the fact remains that this bill, which was introduced ostensibly in the interests of Tasmania, is really in the interests of the overseas shipping combine and black labour.
– After having listened to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) to-night, I am glad that I read earlier in the sitting the letter which he wrote in 1922, to point out the impossibility of the very legislation which he is justifying to-night. His change of attitude reveals that a very powerful influence is at work. In that letter he said that constitutionally and as a matter of practical politics it was impossible for the Commonwealth Government to grant- permits to overseas ships to engage in the coastal trade. Nothing has happened since to alter the principles he then laid down. No argument has been adduced to prove that the Navigation Act is detrimental to the Tasmanian passenger service.
– Nothing will convince the honorable member that the act does operate detrimentally.
– Evidence might have been advanced that would satisfy the general community that this form of relief is necessary. But the honorable member has not adduced any facts to show, what Tasmania is suffering by the operation of the act.
– The honorable member’s mind was made up before he became a member of the royal commission.
– I candidly acknowledge my attitude as a member of the Navigation Commission, and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) will admit that the other members of the commission who did not belong to the Labour party were equally resolute in their intention to recommend a modification of the act.
– I dispute that. The honorable member admitted ‘ that his one purpose was to maintain the act intact.
– My purpose was to see that the principles upon which the act is founded were not undermined. If evidence that the act was detrimental to the Commonwealth was available I could not have prevented the presentation of it. But no such testimony was forthcoming. The attitude of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) is indicated by one question that he put to a witness. The honorable member said that all they were asking for was that a permit be granted to overseas boats so that they could carry passengers to Tasmania. That is an example of the attitude adopted by a member of the commission who was actually telling a witness what he, as a member of the commission, desired. Where is the fairmindedness of the honorable member ? The statement I have quoted is typical of many made to witnesses who were questioned concerning the operation of the Navigation Act. In fact, if the evidence is carefully analyzed, it will be found that witnesses were not only questioned concerning the operation of the Navigation Act, but were also asked if the arbitration laws of this country had a deterrent effect upon its development. I challenge the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) to deny the accuracy of that statement. On several occasions the same question was asked by other members of the commission belonging to the same party as the honorable member.
– The honorable member has challenged me to deny the accuracy of a statement, but he will not give me an opportunity to do so.
– The honorable member has already had half an hour in which to state his case and, if necessary, to quote question and answer. I think it will be found on closer investigation that all the questions asked by the members of the party to which I belong who were members of the commission, were relevant to the subject of the inquiry.
– The honorable member has admitted that he is biased.-
– No, I am honest enough, at least, to support a principle which I have always advocated, and until it has been proved to be wrong, I do not intend to adopt a different attitude. I am unlike honorable members opposite, who follow so meekly their Leader, who, last night, after entering the chamber, and ascertaining the turn which the debate had taken, directed the Minister in charge of the bill to report progress. The Prime Minister appeared alarmed because two members of his party realized the fairness of the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Yarra. A caucus meeting was held this morning, and we now have the spectacle of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) holding a .totally different opinion from that which he expressed last night, when he said that he could not go back on the principles which he had held for a lifetime. The right honorable gentleman, however, would turn himself inside out if two High Commissionerships were available instead of one. He would accept such a position quite easily. It is only a question of price. It has been stated during the course of the debate that persons who have paid first or second class fares have been accommodated with “shake-downs” on vessels, and I informed honorable members last night that the facts elicited by the Navigation Commission, in regard to passenger traffic, show that only during peak periods, has congestion occurred, as it does in other businesses. The honorable member for Forrest quoted the questions and answers immediately preceding question No. 10946, but he did not quote a statement which relates to the steamship Riverina - “Have only few ‘shake-downs.’ Absolutely nothing for ladies. Have request from Brisbane four passengers. Cannot supply.” Senator Duncan asked if it was not a fact that exactly the same difficulty was experienced at the Christmas period in pre-war days, and was informed by the witness that he was not then in’ charge. He was then asked if there was any difficulty in getting accommodation on the boat immediately following, and he replied that he could not recall any complaint in regard to prior or subsequent boats. The answer of the witness shows that there was congestion on one particular boat at one period, which was on the 20th December, when all passengers were anxious to get to Hobart or to Sydney, or, perhaps, round to Adelaide. The same complaintis made during the Christmas season concerning the accommodation on the vessels which trade between Port Adelaide and Eyre’s Peninsula. Similar conditions exist in other transport services at the busy periods. With a full knowledge of the facts as adduced by the commission in taking evidence throughout Australia, I say, unhesitatingly, that there is not one scintilla of evidence to justify the introduction of this bill. It is merely being introduced for the purpose of breaking down principles embodied in the Navigation Act. I do not wish to quote the evidence in regard to the cost per ton of copra, or to refer at length to what the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis) has said in regard to going out of the business. As soon as I raised the question concerning the result complained of, I was informed that it had nothing to do with the Navigation Act, but was brought about by the war. The honorable member said in his opening remarks that the freight was higher than the price obtained for the copra, - not the net price. They got £25 9s. 9d. for. copra in 1923, but at this juncture I cannot place my finger upon the evidence that would show that the Navigation Act has had very little to do with retarding the development of Papua or New Guinea. Senator Payne, a member of the com- mission, asked a gentleman named Loudoun what his occupation was. He replied, “ Managing director of P. A. Loudoun and Company.” I believe that gentleman is a representative of other companies or firms in Papua, and be is, I believe, an authoritative witness on the production of copra. At question 18265 Senator Payne asked, “ Did I. understand you to say that on a shipment of copra to England a net profit of £6 12s.1d. a ton was received by the planter here?” The answer was in the affirmative. He was then asked, “When was that?” He replied, “ For the year 1923.” That is not long after the honorable member said he got out of the business.
Were the costs in 1923 lighter than is 1922, or preceding 1922? - Yes, because we obtained the 90s. through bill of lading which we did not have before.
What was the amount per ton that you realized for that shipment in London? - The gross realization was £25 9s. 9d.
That is different from the statement which was made by the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis). I have not added to nor taken from the evidence of’ Mr. Loudoun.
– The evidence that we took varied considerably.
-I admit that every man did not say the same thing. When the honorable member for Kennedy said that he had lost money in PapuaI turned up the evidence that was taken in Papua, not that which was taken in Samarai, New Guinea, or Madang. I turned up the evidence of a man who I considered would be likely to give the most reliable information regarding the copra trade.
– No evidence can alter the fact that the company lost over £60,000.
– Did the operation of the Navigation Act cause that loss?
– We say that it did.
– Mr. Loudoun’s evidence is contrary to the statement of the honorable member for Kennedy. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) this evening made a very diplomatic speech, but he spoke with his tongue in his cheek when he said that the White Australia policy was not menaced by this legislation. He was not given a mandate to bring down this bill. During the election he said that the issue was the maintenance of law and order, and it was upon that issue that he was returned to power. I admit that the election propaganda of honorable members opposite was sufficiently terrifying to induce some of the followers of the Labour party to vote for Government candidates. The Government, however, was not given a mandate to attack the White Australia policy inthis way, and it has no right to undermine the principles that are laid down in the Navigation Act. When the bill has been passed, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) will not wait a day before he approaches the Prime Minister with the request that a similar concession be granted to Western Australia. That State will get it much more quickly than Tasmania, because it can exercise a greater influence upon the Government, When the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) last night spoke what was in iheir minds, the Minister (Mr. Pratten) moved “That progress be reported,” in ordertostop any further defections from the ranks of Government supporters. Every honorable member knows that if this is taken by the people without demur it will not be long before similar legislation is introduced. The Prime Minister said that there is not in the Navigation Act one word regarding the exclusion of coloured labour. He knows that it would be superfluous to put that provision into an act that governs the’ trading concerns of theCommonwealth. Shipowners would not pay a dozen niggers to do the work of one white man. They would certainly not provide blacks with cots to sleep in, bathrooms to wash in, and a doctor to look after them. The Prime Minister attempted to mislead the House when he suggested that this amending bill did not involve thequestion of black labour. It is an unwritten law that black labour is excluded from consideration in every award of the Arbitration Court. I am certain that honorable members opposite would not care to read the history of the struggle to clean Australia from black labour. Paragraph b of section 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act states-
The act or ordinance shall treat all British ships (including the ships of anyother British possession) in exactly the same manner as ships of the British possession in which it is made.
We do not seek to treat British ships in a manner different from ships in any British possession in which it is made, so the Prime Minister’s quotation from the Merchant Shipping Act carries no weight. Although we are in a minority we are determined to place on record our protest against this attempt to interfere with the conditions enjoyed by Australian seamen, and with the policy so heartily endorsed by the people of this country.
The following paper was presented : -
Northern Territory Acceptance and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. 6 of 1926. - Darwin Town Council.
Arsenic Spray on Apples.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn.
I should like to take this opportunity to add a few words to the reply which I gave this afternoon to the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) with reference to the complaints from Great Britain about arsenic spray on apples. Very careful inquiries have been made into the complaint, and it has been established that there is no possibility of danger to the public health from apples coming from Australia, because the Australian practice is to use a liquid spray. Other countries which also export apples to Great Britain employ a dry preparation, and there is reason to believe that, if proper care is not exercised, there may be danger to public health. It may be of interest to honorable members to know that I have received the following cablegram from the High Commissioner in London (Sir Joseph Cook) om the subject: -
No alterations havebeen made as to percentage of arsenic which will condemn fruit. Royal Commission arsenic in foodstuffs 1903 recommended that anything above one-hundredth grain per lb. should be considered deleterious. This recommendation has become officially recognized - no proposed alteration. Examination of apples has been made on this basis for many years past, but probable that examination more or less perfunctory. Scare caused by finding excessive percentage of arsenic on American apples and successful prosecution of retailers will lead to examination in the future being very much more stringent, also fruit passed by port medical authorities is not exempt from subsequent examination by local health authorities. Analyses of American fruit have shown large proportion of arsenic deposit occurring stalk and calyx. Trouble being accentuated by press publicity.
The only other word I desire to say is that a great deal of harm has been done to the Australian export trade in apples by unfounded reports and by the publicity given to the complaints. I trust, however, that the public will be reassured by this publication of the true position, and that the market for Australian apples will be steadied.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 January 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260128_reps_10_112/>.