12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Eon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and offered prayers.
ResignationofMr. Latham - Election of Mr. Lyons.
.- by leave - I desire to inform the House that I have resigned the position of Leader of the Opposition.
.- by leave - I desire formally to notify you, Mr. Speaker, and the House, that I have been elected Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham), Deputy Leader.
.- I give notice that to-morrow I shall move -
That thisHouse condemns the Government for its failure to take steps which are within its power to safeguard the Commonwealth against national default, with its inevitable consequences of extension of unemployment distress and suffering, and that accordingly the Governmentno longer possesses the confidence of “this ‘House.
Mr.Scullin.- Do I understand that the Leaderof the Opposition does not accept my suggestion that he should , pro- ceed with his motion now?
- I do not.
Ministerial.members - Make him do so.
Motion WantofConfidence- leader of Opposition.
Mr.Scullin (Yarra- Prime Minister)[2.34]. I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
Idonot proposeto adopt the suggestion that I should compel the new Leader of the Oppositiontoproceed with his motion now, but when I received notice at 12.30 p.m. that he intended to give notice of a motion ofwant ofconfidence, I sent to him a courteous reply, and said that,as theGovernment desired that the business of the country should notbe unduly delayed, I would be prepared to move the suspension of the StandingOrders to enable him to proceed with his motion forthwith. The honorable member has declined thatoffer. I am amazed. Never before has a Government been so accommodatingto a Leader of the Opposition. He has been going about the country telling the people that every moment’s delay in getting rid of the Government would be dangerous. The Government is now suggesting that he should not delay his attack.
Mr.ArchdaleParkhill.-To-morrow will be as good as to-day for that.
– That means holding up the business of the country for 24 hours. If the motion were submitted today it should be disposed of to-morrow, and, after allowing a decent time for all consequential formalities, the new Government could be in office next week and Australia could be saved a week later. The honorable member for Wilmot has been hailed as the saviour of the country. Why does he not proceed with the task of salvation ? Now is the accepted time ; now is thehour of salvation. Delay, he has said, is dangerous. Surely, he should be prepared to act at once: He must be ready; he knows his speech by heart,for he has been delivering it throughout the Commonwealth for weeks past, while thehonorable member for Kooyong(Mr. Latham)hasbeen doing the work of leading the Opposition.
-The late Deputy Leader of theOppositionhas more reason to ‘be sore than Ihave. The honor able member for Kooyong has announced his resignation of thehigh and honorable positionof Leader of the Opposition. As Prime Minister during the last eighteen months, I have hadmuch to do with him, and Iwish to pay the honorable gentleman a tribute.Hehas been an ableleader;and I have not agreedon many things,buthehasdis- chargedhisduties conscientiously, and has worked exceedingly hard. fie faced this Parliament in 1929 under conditions Which Iunderstand, for I have had a similar experience. The ‘Government of Which hehad been amemberhad been defeated; and as Leader of theOpposition itwas his task to consolidate the remnants of theNationalist party.Hehas stuck gamely to his post, and has proved himselftheablest man on the Opposition side. And he stands aside–
Mr.Francis. - To save his country.
-To make room for a new-born saviour of the country; for a gentleman who said to honorablemem- b ers opposite, “Earnestly and humbly do Iwant to serve “.He was so very humble that he reminded me of Uriah Heep, yet he was prepared to serve in no other capacity than that of leader. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham)-, who has done his job so well, is pushed aside.He is a fighter and a capable one. The late Deputy Leader,the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), has never failed to take on a fight at a moment’s notice. Socapable an assistant leader was he,and so sterling a fighter, that he was prepared and willing to acceptany challenge to a political fight, but he, in common with his erstwhile leader, now standsasideforthis new, lion-hearted leader who baulksat the first barrier.
-The Government has another leader to face in Mr. Lang.
– I would not ask for 24 hours’ notice to face any one.
– Why did the Prime Minister not face him in the East Sydney contest?
– It is not reasonable
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Order. I can understand that the feelings of honorable members may be a little warm, but I ask them to restrain themselves, and permit the debate to he conducted in a proper manner.
– You are quite right, Mr. Speaker. Parliament has a great deal of business before it, and the Government wishes to get that business done. We have always been careful to extend all proper courtesies to the Opposition. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) will admit that. I could have gone on with the business of the country in the ordinary way, but I do not wish to treat the Opposition or its new leader discourteously. I do think, however, that we ought to get on with the business before us as quickly as possible, and to that end I am prepared to move the suspension of the Standing Orders to allow the motion to he taken forthwith. The new Leader of the Opposition has been touring the country, telling the people how his heart bleeds for Australia. Let him stop the bleeding straight away or he may bleed to death. A delay of 24 hours may be dangerous. Let him take steps to remove the Government from office without delay. He cannot get the Government out until this motion is carried, and the motion cannot be carried until it has been moved. I say to this man, who has virtues and fighting qualities which neither the honorable member for Kooyong nor any one else on that side can lay claim to, and who had to be stolen from this party in order to supply the Opposition with these qualities, that he should get on with this motion straight away without indulging in the apologies and excuses to which we have had to listen.
.- I shall not waste the time of this House in attempting to reply to the cheap-jack effort of the Prime Minister. That effort was not worthy of the speaker in his capacity of Prime Minister of Australia, nor of the man I have known him to be in the past.
Nor is his attitude this afternoon consistent with his attitude during the years he was Leader of an Opposition. When, time after time, he moved motions of want of confidence in the government of the day, when he felt that the salvation of the country depended upon the immediate removal of the Government he was attacking, he always availed himself of the customs of the House, and, fighter as he was, never failed to take the 24 hours adjournment usually allowed in such cases. I, too, have had experience on both sides of a legislative chamber, and not in this Parliament only. Always, in my experience, when a motion of want of confidence has been moved, the Leader of the Government has, without question, extended to the Leader of the Opposition the courtesy of moving the adjournment of the House for 24 hours.
– On three separate occasions Mr. Bruce, when Prime Minister, refused to adjourn the House when notice of motions of want of confidence had been given by the Leader of the then Opposition.
– What the honorable member says may be true, and if the Leader of the Opposition were to repeatedly move motions of want of confidence in the Government, it would be right to refuse the customary adjournment. That, however, does not apply in the present case. If the late Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) had, as Leader, given notice of this motion, he would, despite those fighting qualities with which the Prime Minister has credited him, and which I know him to possess, have been granted the courtesy of an adjournment of the house for 24 hours. Surely, no matter what differences, political or personal, may exist at the present time, I, who have been elected to the position of Leader of the Opposition only within the last hour, am entitled to the same courtesy and consideration as has been extended to Leaders of the Opposition in past. I give the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), yourself, Mr. Speaker, and the House generally, the assurance that, while I am Leader of the Opposition
– The honorable member will not be leader for long.
– Whether the time be long or short, while I am Leader of the Opposition, there will be no unnecessary delays or obstruction of the country’s business.
– The difference between
Honorable members interjecting,
– I ask honorable members to assist the Chair to preserve the orderly conduct of debate. They 3hould realize that it is essential for the Chair to hear what is being said.
– The difference between the somewhat uncomfortable position now occupied by the new Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lyons), and that of any Leader of the Opposition whom I have had the honour to support in the past, is this: On no previous occasion has such a magnanimous offer been made to a leader as has been made by the Government in this instance. No such offer was ever before made, and, therefore, no such offer was ever refused. The new Leader of the Opposition says, blushingly, that he hasjust come into his own, and for that reason is unprepared to move at once his motion of want of confidence in this Government. Not prepared to move a motion of want of confidence in this Government ! Sir, he should know this Government inside out. He has served with it; he has betrayed it. He has been in its confidence; he has violated that confidence.
– I have not violated any confidence, and I ask that that statement be withdrawn.
Honorable members interjecting,
– (Hon.NormanMakin). - Order ! I shall name the next honorable member who interjects.
– The Attorney-General has said that I have been in the confidence of the Government, and have violated that confidence. I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it. It is a matter of opinion, but I withdraw it. The honorable member has served in the ranks of this Government, and he has quitted. Surely he should know something about the Government’s policy, and its character. He declared at one stage that he had confidence in the Government, and at another stage that he had lost all confidence in it. Surely he is at least prepared to tell us to-day the grounds of his want of confidence. It is not as if the honorable gentleman were being taken on the hop without a moment’s notice. While the work of this country was being done in this Parliament under the able leadership of the ex-Leader of the Opposition, has not the present Leader of the Opposition been touring this country, endeavouring to fortify himself for the possession of the position of which he has been trying to dispossess the honorable member for Kooyong? He would serve in any capacity, providing it was nothing less than a position involving the place and pay of leadership ! This gentleman, who has told this House and the country that he is ignorant of finance, is prepared to be the leader of all the financial experts of this Parliament. This gentleman, who modestly and meekly declared publicly that he had great respect for many of the members of this Government–
– But none for the AttorneyGeneral.
– Yes, he included me.
– Then he made a big mistake.
– He included me as one of those for whom he professed respect. To-day, as the betrayer of his party, as one who has treacherously betrayed his constituency, as one who comes into this House without a mandate from anybody, except a certain number of irresponsible busy-bodies who have covered him with the glamour of their praise and adulation - coming into the House in that capacity and in that way, if he still has respect for me, it is not in the political sense returned by me. I know the history of this country, and of other countries. 1 have known of mon who, in the past, and in other circumstances, have betrayed others who had been guilty of great and grievous crimes. But even the betrayers of men guilty of crime, because these betrayers have something in them of the character of
Judas, are persons repugnant to every good Australian, -who will not profess loyalty or give allegiance to a quitter mid a betrayer of a ‘great leader :H>nd a good cause. Even those who have betrayed wrong-doers have been branded with obloquy and contempt. But what of those who have been the betrayers of men who have stood by this country in its hour of need ? What of those who, when their leader goes across -the seas in circumstances of extreme difficulty to uphold the nation’s honour, . having pledged themselves to maintain their party and their principles, im circumstances when loyalty was most expected from them. and notwithstanding their declaration that if they ever left the Labour party they would do it openly arid honestly-
– I ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as to whether the AttorneyGeneral is in order in using abusive language concerning the Leader of the Opposition. I submit that the business before the House is the question of the adjournment because notice has been given of a motion of want of confidence, and that the Attorney-General is exceeding his rights in making a personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition.
– On a motion for adjournment, an honorable member may express himself upon such matters as he desires to ventilate. It is for the Chair to determine whether the remarks of a speaker are parliamentary. If any remarks are regarded as personally offensive, the honorable gentleman concerned may direct attention to them, and the Chair will take suitable action. Until objection is taken to any particular statement it is not for the Chair to intervene. The honorable gentleman will recognize that no unparliamentary expression has been used by the Attorney-General. If any remark of his is regarded as personally offensive, the honorable gentleman concerned should draw attention to it, and ask for its withdrawal.
– Some of the things which I have said have general application. If the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) feels that the words of general application which I have used have special reference to the Leader of the Opposition, that is his affair. Let those whom the cap fits wear it. This is an opportunity which has been given -to us by the magnanimity of the Leader of the Opposition, who was not quite prepared to go. on with the salvation of the country. I .have little more to say at this stage. The Leader of the Opposition has travelled through this country; he left the ranks of the Labour party; he deserted the Ministry which he was pledged to serve; he deserted the electors who sent him into this Parliament, and he broke the pledges which be made to his party. These are obvious facts. All I wish to insist upon here and now is that if there is one nian more than another m this Parliament to-day who Unas no authority to speak for anybody iti the electorates, it is the newly constituted Leader of the Opposition. He has traversed this country, pursuing the difficult business of welding parties together; he has secured himself in the place and pay of leadership, and he ‘has basked in the glamour of the adulation of those whom one would expect to praise him in the circumstances. They have praised him with the utmost fulsomeness. Honorable membei’3 opposite ha.ve my sympathy. The late Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) had well-founded and reasonable claims for promotion which he is not now destined to enjoy. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) was entitled to be counted a member of the big four, and he also was naturally hopeful of promotion ; but his hopes also must bc deferred. The situation is confused. The Country party has declined to merge itself in the All for Australia League, and so has the Nationalist party; but they have both promised cordial cooperation in the work of saving the nation. From the heterogeneous but noisy groups of persons opposite we may hope that we shall soon hear a coherent policy in opposition to that of the Government. With these few words, not of valediction but of welcome, to the Leader of the Opposition, I shall conclude my work in this Parliament for to-day. All I can say of the Opposition is that as it has accepted, the condition in which it finds itself, it deserves it.
.- As an ordinary member of the House I shall not attempt to rise to the heights of dignity to which the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General have risen. I wish simply to put on record one fact. The Prime Minister has referred to the lionhearted fighting qualities pf the Leader of the Opposition. I wish to remind him and the Attorney-General that while they were absent in Great Britain, and an attempt was made in the caucus to stiletto them, the lion-hearted member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons), as Acting Treasurer, stood and fought for them as only a good man can fight in that most difficult of all places to fight in, the Labour caucus. He was truly lion-hearted there.
– It is usual, in accordance with the amenities of Parliamentary life, to offer congratulations to an honorable member who has been elected to the high and honorable position of Leader of his party ; but on the present occasion it would be hypocrisy for me to offer congratulation to the honorable member for Wilmot upon his elevation to that position. .There is not even one redeeming feature of this business which enables me to congratulate the party of which he has been elected leader. I can quite imagine the very mixed feelings with which the sixteen different types and conditions of parties throughout Australia which, mushroomlike, grew in a night, considered during three weeks of travail, the demand of the Baillieu group of newspapers that the only man who could save this country, honest Joe Lyons, should be elected Leader of the Opposition. For a long time the natural good sense of some honorable members opposite resisted the importunings of the very able body of journalists which was directed to save Australia by persuading honorable members opposite to elect honest Joe as their leader. In the great campaign of publicity which has been carried on, the most intimate details of the domestic life of the Leader of the Opposition and his wife, even to teapots and afternoon teas, and the number and sex of their family, have been published. Honorable members opposite may show annoyance ; but I was not responsible for this sickening publicity, the object of which was to persuade the Country party “and the Nationalist party to accept this heaven-born leader of men.
But they were not .persuaded, they were forced, to accept him. According to a very well-known book, three weeks in which there was a good deal of anticipation and pleasure were followed by three weeks of travail in which a heart was sick indeed because of hope deferred. After a severe buffeting on the political seas, our friend, with the aid of the most powerful group of vested interests in this country, has achieved the ambition which has tormented him ever since he entered the Federal Parliament. While I cannot congratulate the honorable member upon his elevation to the leadership of the parties opposite, I can sincerely congratulate him upon his adaptability. I hear the word “ underground “ used. It is peculiarly applicable to. persons who leave their parties, because they do not usually leave them above ground. But while I congratulate the honorable member for Wilmot upon this adaptability, I have a fear in my heart about the security of the parties which he now leads, for when he was Acting-Treasurer, and the honora’ble member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was Acting-Prime Minister, while the Prime Minister was absent from this country, he was the man who attempted to break the Ministry.
– That remark is offensive and incorrect, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– As the Leader of the Opposition regards the remark as personally offensive, it must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it. What would any one say of a man who, occupying a high position in a cabinet, approached member after member of his party with a view to forming a new government ?
– If that remark is intended to apply to me, I say that it is untrue.
– The Leader of the Opposition is sufficiently acquainted with parliamentary practice to know that he cannot rise at this stage to make a personal explanation.
– The statement of the Minister is untrue.
-The Leader of the Opposition has brought himself dangerously near to being required to withdraw his statement that the remark of the Minister is untrue.
– I withdraw my remark, and say that the statement of the Minister is entirely inaccurate.
– I am pleased that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is now sitting at the table, and starting to function in his new position, but I am afraid that from now on his keen analytical mind will be working overtime. Let me repeat that a man who, during the absence of his leader, approaches member after member in an endeavour to form a new government is to be carefully watched.
– What the Minister suggests is not correct.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) knows more about the matter than I do, and I know enough. My colleagues and myself were determined that the Prime Minister during his absence should not be subjected to treachery. There were six members who were ready with their stilettos, and they sat previously on this side of the House. They all tried to smash the Government while they were with the Labour party, and now they have gone to the other side of the chamber. I say to honorable gentlemen of the Country party and the Nationalist party that I wish them well in their new acquisition, an honorable member who has been making speeches, consisting principally of vague generalities, to various meetings of the National Council of Women, the All For Australia League, and several other alphabetical organizations. He has, however, refrained studiously from dealing with concrete proposals. One thing that gives me satisfaction is the knowledge that to-morrow the Leader of the Opposition will be compelled to put aside vague generalities, and to get down to tin tacks.
– Do not be too sure of that.
– Possibly I may be expecting too much. The honorable member for Wilmot has founded a party fully representative of the extreme right and the extreme left of the conservatives.
When certain honorable members left this party we did not know whether they would join the left wing or right wing, but ultimately they found themselves, accompanied by the present Leader of the Opposition, in the arms of the Nationalist party. I welcome the end of this travail, and hopes deferred, which made the heart sick, although I feel sorry for those who have been compelled at the behest of a strong newspaper combination to accept such a leadership. I also welcome the opportunity of at least obtaining some concrete proposals from the Opposition, and particularly from it? leader.
.- During the whole of my professional experience I have never before seen anybody so needful of medical treatment as is the Ministeral party to-day. It is the sorest body that I have come into contact with in the whole of my life. The Government is indeed in travail, and, judging by its past production, what it produces in the future cannot be anything but unsatisfactory. I congratulate tho new Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lyons) and give him my best wishes. I am satisfied that the wish of the people of Australia is that the tenure of his present position shall be short, and that he will be able to displace this Government, which has failed Australia in its hour of crisis. The Leader Cif the Opposition has . had the courage of his convictions. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) and the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) and other members of the Government had evinced the same courage, Australia would not now be trembling on the brink of a financial precipice. Even at this late stage, if they had the courage to stand up against the policy wished upon them by the extremists of their party, and to cease bowing the knee to three or four honorable members who hold them in thrall, Australia would still be able to overcome its difficulties. I wish also to compliment the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) on his skill and courage in handling the Opposition during the last eighteen months. During the whole of that period he has displayed exceptional ability. He has been continually a thorn in the side of the Government. He has shown Australia generally the error of the ways of the Government. The result of recent by-elections has shown that the people now understand what this Government stands for and where it will lead Australia if it is allowed to continue in office. This melodrama which has taken place to-day, this exhibition of fury, is aimed at something that has been done hundreds of times in this chamber. Honorable members are well aware that it is the usual practice when notice of a censure motion is given, to delay its discussion for 24 hours. The attitude of the Government is a clear indication that it has lost control not only of its own feelings but also of the business of this House. Otherwise the Prime Minister, instead of making a speech consisting of nothing but sound and fury, would have moved the suspension of the Standing Orders. But he does not dare to do - that, because he knows that the numbers are against him. For that reason, we have had this display of temper, fury and bitterness. I venture to say that the people of Australia will feel degraded when they learn that a motion moved at a time of national crisis by the Leader of the Opposition to discuss serious matters at issue with the object of returning to something like normal conditions has been received by the splenetic outburst that we have witnessed to-day. It is a disgrace to our parliamentary traditions. Honorable members opposite i have stated that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lyons) has betrayed his convictions and his party. The feeling in Australia to-day is that he is not guilty of the crime that attaches to honorable members opposite - he has not betrayed Australia. I offer him my congratulations. I trust that his tenure of his present office will be very short indeed, and that the Labour party will be long in opposition.
Mr. PARKER MOLONEY (Hume-
Minister for Markets and Transport) [3.21 1 . - The honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has given away his case from the “ corner “. For the last few weeks we have been told that the party which he is supposed to lead is determined to maintain its separate entity - perhaps nonentity would better describe it. Now the right honorable gentleman rushes in, because he cannot help himself, to intimate that should the day ever come when the new Leader of the Opposition will be Prime Minister of Australia, which is extremely unlikely, he and his party will promptly forget their separate entity and fall in behind the new leader, in consideration of place and pay, as they have done before. Everybody who knows the history of the Country party is aware that it claims separate entity only to deceive the people, and that when the Nationalist party to which it is a parasite gets into office, it rushes headlong to join forces. That is so well known that the simulation of righteousness on the part of the honorable gentleman and his colleagues has long ceased to deceive anybody.
The right honorable gentleman hinted that those on this side of the chamber needed medical attention. I warn thenew Leader of the Opposition that if he is anxious about the welfare of his newfound party, he should not call in the honorable member for Cowper, as that gentleman’s ministrations to the last Government caused it to die a very ugly death. The best thing that could happen to the new Leader and his party is that the party in the “ comer “, and particularly its leader, should preserve ite separate entity. I hear the honorable member for Fawkner interjecting, although I cannot quite gather what he is saying, but I am sure that he will continue to act the shuttlecock, and fall in wherever he thinks the biggest voice is. Very often the honorable gentleman changes his ground, but he can be depended upon to shift position in accordance with what he thinks will afford him the best opportunity to save his bacon . and preserve to him the seat that he represents. With those remarks, I think that we can forget about him. The honorable member for Wilmot has cut a very sorry figure on his first day as Leader of the Opposition. He reminds me of the difficulty that is sometimes experienced in leading certain animals to the starting post.
– For instance, black snakes.
– Already the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) is seeing things. Very soon he will see them from an outside position.
No doubt the honorable member is aware of the kind of company he is keeping. It is the type that suits the treacherous actions that have characterized him since he came within our ken. He will soon feel the stings in Angas.
If I spoke for a week I could not say anything half so unkind of the honorable member for Wilmot as he himself has said of others who have trodden the path that he is now following. It is well that we have ou record the honorable gentleman’s statements about others who preceded him in the downward path that he has taken. There are others from that little island whence he comes who have taken the treacherous way he has gone, and I shall quote his opinions about them. My quotation is from the Hobart Daily Post, of the 16th November, 1916, and it reads -
Experience has shown that those who had at any time departed from the Labour movement, after having formed part of it, had invariably failed to block the growth and progress of the movement. As a matter of fact, very few men ever survived as politicians who had stepped out of the Labour ranks. Having failed their own party, the Opposition party lias but a cold affection for them, and cannot he expected to show confidence in them.
The truth of that is exemplified by the cold demeanour of the late Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gullett) and the honorable member for Warringah “(Mr. Parkhill) towards their new leader. My next quotation is the reported statement of the Leader of the Opposition in reference to the breakaway of Senator Ogden from the Labour party. He said -
Senator Ogden comes into the city today, and has no one to bid him welcome. He wil go out to-morrow, and there will be no one to bid him God-speed. It is a terrible thing to see a man sell his principles and the party that has lifted him up. I hope I shall never have the misfortune to leave my children the shame and the dishonour of one who has become a traitor to his own class in order to serve the enemies of the people.
Believe me, those words will rise in judgment against the honorable gentleman. What is being perpetrated to-day in this House is a repetition of what has happened ever since politics and parties have existed in Australia. When the antiLabour forces are defeated at the poll, they sink their previous identity and at the next election come before the people with a new name. Why is it that the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr.
Latham) and the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) are not prepared to stick to their guns and retain their old party name? Because they know that if they did so they would be decimated. It is significant that what applies privately also applies publicly. If one day you see a man passing under the name of Smith, and the next day that of Jones, you may feel confident that he is endeavouring to conceal an incident in his life of which he is ashamed. In the names of Bruce and Page the Nationalists brought discredit on their party and disaster upon the country; now, in the name of Lyons, they are seeking another opportunity to continue their evil policy. But the honorable member for Wilmot has placed on record the fate which awaits those who desert their principles, and who take the downward path upon which he has started to-day.
.- I should not have taken part in this somewhat turbulent debate but for certain remarks made by the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley) regarding my honored leader. Evidently the AttorneyGeneral intended to make the same statement, but in his excitement he forgot it, and his colleague took up the missed cue. I do not know whether anybody can say where the Minister for Home Affairs stands to-day, but when I was Acting Prime Minister I could never tell where he was.
– I mistrusted the honorable member.
Honorable members interjecting.
– I have called three times for order, and my calls have not been heeded. I shall not continue to show patience with honorable members who interject and disregard my calls to order. I now tell the House that, without any further warning, I shall name any honorable member who disregards the authority of the Chair.
– If some honorable members on the ministerial side will speak from their hearts they will endorse what I have said regarding the Minister for Home Affairs.
In regard to the attack upon the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lyons), I know him at least as well as most honorable members, for I have been closely associated with him, and
I know that the innuendoes that have been uttered concerning him are as far from the truth as the poles are apart. They are definitely and absolutely inaccurate; if I were permitted I would apply to them a stronger term. Members supporting the Government have shown a great deal of virtuous indignation this afternoon. In a way I am glad of it, because it shows that their feelings are stirred. At the same time, the affairs of this House should be conducted decorously and in consonance with the highest traditions of Parliament, and the exhibition we have witnessed this afternoon does no credit to this House. When honorable members opposite talk about purity, honesty and cleanliness in public life, I ask them to study the lives, characters and actions of some of those who occupy prominent positions in the Ministry. My objection to the character of one Minister was one of the reasons why I resigned from the Government. I was never prouder of any action than of dissociating myself from a man who was not playing a clean game in the public life of Australia.
– The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) said that there are many sore bodies on this side of the House, but I am certain that there are a few sore hearts on the Opposition side. There must be some heartburning on. the part of members of the Nationalist party who, having been prominent in its councils ever since the last general election, have been over-night displaced from their positions and relegated to back seats to make way for a new leader. It is a remarkable thing that whenever this country faces a crisis of great magnitude, the anti-Labour forces are unable to find a leader within their own ranks, and have to look elsewhere for a man to do their job. That happened in 1916 ; they were then unable to find a man to suit their purpose, and they devised means of detaching men from the Labour party to do their dirty work. Now, in. another crisis of equal magnitude, the same tactics have been followed; but I predict that the reactionary elements will treat the renegades from the Labour party to-day in the same way as they have treated renegades in the past.
When the men who have betrayed their former colleagues have served the purpose of their new masters and done the job that is required of them, they will be discarded as dirty rags are discarded by a housekeeper. It will be well for those who have abandoned the Labour party on this occasion to remember what has occurred in the past, because history will repeat itself before many years go by.
The Minister for Home Affairs referred to intrigues while the Prime Minister was in England. It is well known that while the Prime Minister was 12,000 miles away from Australia he concurred in the actions of the men who now have betrayed the Labour party. If he had known the facts which he must know now he should never have approved of such actions. The policy of the Government in his absence was being framed, not by Cabinet, but in the office of the Melbourne Herald. The Leader of the Opposition, then Acting Treasurer, frequently conferred with Mr. Keith Murdoch, the managing editor of that journal, in whose office the decisions were reached. The honorable member then came to Cabinet with a policy which was not that of the Labour party, but one inspired by the editor of an evening paper with which he has since been continually associated, and which has been boosting him for the last few months. It is known that the new leader was forced on the members of the Opposition. The pressure of the Melbourne press was so great that Nationalist members have been carried off their feet; their own judgment has been overruled, and like weaklings they have handed over the reigns to a new leader of whom they know very little. They speak of preserving their individuality on the one hand and of pursuing a policy evolved at unity conferences on the other hand. The truth is that their policy is dictated by the Baillieu press; they were first forced to accept it in Victoria, and lately it has found some measure of acceptance in New South Wales. Recent developments in New South Wales have been very interesting. Great difficulty has been experienced in establishing that unity of the anti-Labour forces that has been sought; in that endeavour the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) and his colleagues who recently visited Sydney have failed, and I predict that before many months have elapsed the whole crazy edifice which they have so hurriedly erected will collapse on top of them. The new Leader of the Opposition professes to plead the cause of the workers and to be concerned about the misery and starvation that exist among them to-day; but for months he has been fraternizing throughout Australia with those who have been the enemies of the workers for so long as I can remember. He may pretend to be defending the interests of the workers, but a man is judged by the company hu keeps, and judged by that criterion the honorable member can no longer claim to be a representative of the workers or a champion of their cause. The Minister for Home Affairs is well able to defend himself against any allegations made against him by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) who said that he never knew where the Minister for Home Affairs stood. I have only to say that when I was a member of the Government I never knew where the honorable member for Maribyrnong stood. Whenever there was an important matter to be decided we could get no decision from him; whenever he was required to act he showed no initiative. That was recognized by all who were associated with him in the Ministry. He was a hopeless failure, and it is to be regretted that the Prime Minister saw fit to hand his mantle to such a man and ask him to lead the Government during his absence abroad. Those who have joined the enemies of Labour under the leadership of the honorable member for Wilmot really left the Labour ranks many months before they were found out. The attitude of the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), and ‘ myself some months ago was influenced by our knowledge that these men had left the Labour party, and that the policy they were espousing was being formulated in hostile newspaper offices and in halls where Nationalism holds sway. We refused to be influenced by them, and our attitude has been vindicated, because to-day we see those men hand in glove with the Nationalist party and co-operating with its political organizations. They may have their moments of triumph, but they will go the way trodden by others who betrayed the Labour party in years gone by.
– I thank honorable members on the Government side for the compliments which they have been good enough to pay to me this afternoon. The testimony of the Prime Minister, particularly, I accept as sincerely intended, and I am grateful for it. I cannot, however, fail to be struck with, the fact that my political opponents have discovered in me to-day qualities which hitherto were unrecognized, or at any rate unacknowledged, by them. I feel that for the last eighteen months apparently I have been wasting my sweetness on the desert air. However, late recognition, or even posthumous laudation, is better than none, and it is proper for me to appreciate the references that honorable members have made to my work as Leader of the Opposition.
Upon this motion for the adjournment of the House speeches have been delivered by four Ministers and one ex-Minister, who was cheered by his former colleagues. We have witnessed an exhibition by G>vernment supporters of anxiety, apprehension, anger and dismay, and the fact that so many of their leaders have taken this opportunity to show their resentment of the new development on this side of the House, satisfies me, as the Deputy Leader of what will be a pretty good Opposition, that the right course has been chosen. I am proud to be deputy to an honorable and honest man who, during the last few months, has won the admiration of thousands of the Australian peopleThe Minister for Home Affairs read something about a gentleman who, when he went away had no one to bid him farewell^ and when he returned had no one to welcome him. The Leader of the Opposition has thousands to welcome him wherever he goes, and if one had any doubts as to the prospect of ‘his personal success, the demonstration made this afternoon by honorable members on the Government side ought to go far to remove them. The men sitting on this side of the House have differed in their political opinions, though the differences are not so acute as those which divide honorable members on the other side. What has united those on this side of the House, notwithstanding their past differences, is a recognition of the tragedy which confronts the country, and a determination to do everything in their power to avert that tragedy. Like the Prime Minister, I should have preferred this motion to be dealt with this afternoon as part of the ordinary business of the House, because, to use a word which is popular in the Ministry, I “ concur “ in the belief which has often been expressed by honorable members on this side of the House, that the best thing we can do for Australia at the present time is to bring about a change of government. I hope that a change will take place in the very near future.
.- I have listened to the new Leader of the Opposition with a good deal of surprise. He said that he had had experience on both sides of the House. It is true that he has had experience on this side, and I am convinced that after his motion has been dealt with he will still be gaining experience for a very long time on that side of the House. Moreover, after he has met the electors again, he will be given an opportunity of gaining fresh experience outside the House. I have watched with a good deal of amusement the labours of the Nationalists, the Country party, the Australian party, and other parties during the last month. The mountain has indeed been in labour, and though I should prefer to say that it has at least broughtforth a little mouse, perhaps it is true, as has been stated by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Cusack), that its offspring is a teddy-bear. This new party had to have a christening, and it was quite in order, therefore, that the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) should be asked to speak at the ceremony, and to bestow his blessing on the new arrival. Perhaps the honorable member for Angas was reported more fully in the South Australian papers, hut in the Melbourne papers all we read was that, Mr. Gabb addressed the meeting from a text, and said a few words. It has been said in this House that the honorable member for Angas once carried a book, that is, acted as bookmaker, and there fore I immediately sought the Book in search of his text. It was first necessary to guess what part of the Book he would choose, and I had very little difficulty in coming to a decision. I knew that he would choose the Book of Daniel. He is fond of comparing himself to Daniel in the lion’s den. As part of his electioneering campaign, he travelled the country singing-
Dare to be a Daniel,
Dare to stand alone,
Dare to have a purpose firm,
And dare to make it known.
In my search, I came to the text in the Book of Daniel, chapter vii., verse 8, which reads -
I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes ofa man, and a mouth speaking great things.
At once I saw that this was indeed a prophecy. In the text is described the Nationalist party, the Country party, and the Australian party. These were the three horns. A little horn sprang up, the All for Australia League, and immediately the other three were plucked up by the roots, and the United party alone remained. This new party, I understand, has accepted a new name, and the name stinks of money. It was chosen as the result of a competition held by the Melbourne Herald newspaper, which offered a prize of £5 for the best name submitted. This name has now been accepted by the parties in opposition, which, as the Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) pointed out, have become ashamed of their previous aliases. In order to enlighten the proceedings, I propose to tell a little story. When I was a boy there was exhibited in a tent a shark, and although I had not many pennies at the time, so great an attraction had the shark for me, that I spent all the pennies I had in paying visits to the tent. Some time later another shark was exhibited, this time a blue one. It was no easier for me to get pennies this time than before; but I scraped together all I could, and approached the man who was running the show. The man. drew me aside, and told me, as I had been such a good customer, not to spend my money looking at this shark ; it was only the old shark painted blue. That is the position of the United party to-day. It is the old Nationalist party painted a different colour. They became ashamed of the other names under which they went, which have changed with the weeks; they adopted the name of the United Australian party, and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) has been appointed their leader. The most disastrous thing about the whole affair is that this new party is the creation of a newspaper. One of the worst features of modern politics is the attempt made by various newspapers to dictate to politicians and to Parliament. The same sort of thing has been happening in England, and I should like, in that connexion, to read an extract from The Spectator, London, of the 21st March, 1931, setting forth a declaration signed by editors, ex-editors and other representatives of British journalism, on the occasion of the election in St. George’s, Westminster. The declaration is as follows : -
The newspaper press to-day plays a much more intimate part in the life of every citizen than Parliament, and its influence, day in day out throughout the year, is far greater than that of the political leaders.
At a time when the bulk of our electorate is still new to its political responsibilities, the power that the multiple-newspaper gives to irresponsible amateur politicians to mislead their readers by the weapons of distortion and suppression constitutes a menace to our treasured political institutions, the gravity of which it would be impossible to overstate.
We, having no partisan interest whatever in the issues raised by the St. George’s byelection, desire to place on record our sense of the national danger of the abuse of the power of the press involved in the recent encroachments of newspaper proprietors upon the political field. (Signed) Gerald Barry, G. E. Buckle, A. G. Gardiner, Kingsley Martin, Rhondda, J. A. Spender, J. C. Squire, H. Wickham Steed, Evelyn Wrench.
Is not that the position in Australia to-day? Does not the honorable member for Wilmot (M.r. Lyons) owe his present position to the publicity and propaganda of the Rag-Beer press? How has that press for months past treated the exLeader of the Opposition, who so well upheld the interest of his party in this House? As soon as the money powers decided that the honorable member for Wilmot should be the new Leader of the Opposition, the old leader had to allow himself to be thrust aside. The man who had fought the Government in this House for eighteen months was turned down at the whim of the interests who had chosen the honorable member for Wilmot to lead the fight on their behalf. The National Union, the financial dictator of the Nationalist party, said he must go, and he went. Are we to allow Parliament to ‘ be dominated by the Herald, a newspaper which is one of the worst examples of yellow journalism and publicity stunting in Australia; a paper which is full of lies and distortions, when it does not suppress the truth altogether; a paper which should not be allowed into any decent home, and which, if any man quotes its opinion, he does his best to conceal the source from which he quotes, because no one believes what that paper says? Will the people of Australia tolerate such a paper creating a political party, and thrusting upon it as leader a man who has deserted his own party and betrayed it? Such happenings are a disgrace to politics, and a disgrace even to the Nationalist party. How is the new Leader of the Opposition going to reconcile his support of the principles to which he has now pledged himself with those he promised to support when he was elected as a Labour representative? So far as his electors are concerned, he is still bound to the Labour platform which he signed before he was elected, and he should never have accepted his present position without submitting himself again to the electors. The workers of Wilmot subscribed out of their poverty, and worked hard to secure his return to support that platform. Does he still believe, as he once said he did, when he signed our platform, in the extension of the powers of the Commonwealth Bank and in the nationalization of- banking and insurance? Does he still believe in the abolition of the Senate, increased invalid and old-age pensions, and that the Commonwealth Bank should remain free from association or agreement with the private banks? He signed a pledge in support of those principles when he accepted the money of the workers to assist him in his election campaign. If he still believes in those principles, how can he conscientiously lead the United party? If he believes in them, he has disgraced himself by accepting the position of Leader of the Opposition. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton)is one of the most ardent supporters of the Federal land tax, but will the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) see eye’ to eye with him on that subject. Will the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), a protectionist, agree with the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), a freetrader ?
– How did the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) reconcile his political views when he left the Liberal party and joined the Labour party?
– I am sorry that I am stirring up a nest of wasps, but I am not afraid of their attacks. Is the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) happy in having the “ tragic “ extreasurer as a fellow member of the socalled United party ? The second word in the name of this new party is also a misnomer. The party cannot truly be called “Australian”. What political section has opposed the rights and privileges of the Australian nation so much as the party opposite? Whenever the question of Australia’s rights in the matter of appointing its own Governor-General has come up for discussion, the party opposite has bitterly renounced the Australian view. If there is any party that should not be styled “Australian”, it is that represented by honorable members opposite. Then they call themselves a party, but how did the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) launch his campaign? It was to be strictly a nonparty movement. The London Times, of the 30th March, 1931, referring to the All-for-Australia League, remarked -
The most vigorous efforts are made by the Conservative press to induce the league to ally itself with Nationalism. These efforts are backed by manoeuvres within the league, but the vote showed a determined temper in another direction.
The immediate political effect will be to furtherweaken Nationalism.
By598 votes to 40 it was decided by the convention that in order best to carry out the purpose and object of the league, this body should create its own political movement.
The honorable member for Wilmot obtained his present position by false pretences. He even had the daring to visit Ararat, which is situated in my constituency. The people of Corangamite are accustomed to honest representation, and to members who keep their pledges.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
. - I desire to trace the origin of this most sordid of all the parliamentary demonstrations that I have seen, but, before doing so, I have a few words to say about the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch). He has described as betrayers honorable members who have changed from one party to another. He must think that we all have short memories. For three long parliaments, this honorable member sat in the old Liberal party, the predecessor of the Nationalist party. This great Labour man, of all members, should not chide my. honorable leader for having accepted his present position. After having been defeated . at his fourth federal election, the honorable member for Corangamite was for nineteen years in the political wilderness, and then he crept back into this House under the flag of Labour.
I propose to trace to its source this demonstration of anger and mortification on the part of honorable members opposite because of the election of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) to the leadership of the Opposition. I am delighted with the appointment, because I believe that what has been done in this House to-day brings us many steps nearer the end of the present Government’s term of office, and, therefore, nearer to a restoration of confidence in this country. A few months ago, the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) returned from the Imperial Conference. He then had to make a personal and political choice between the honorable member for Wilmot, and the honorable member for Maribyrnong, on one side, and the honorable member for Dalley on the other.
– Not at all.
– In that choice the Prime Minister blundered, not only politically, but, worse still, in a moral sense. It was that moral blunder that brought the Labour party to its present dilapidated condition. That blunder, when he made a choice which threw two of his loyal supporters out of the Ministry, as he knew it would, marked the downfall of his Government. Since then, the Prime Minister and his followers have observed, from day to day, the rising prestige of my honorable friends on this side, and the rapid fall in the reputation of the honorable member for Dalley. As the reputation of the Treasurer has fallen^ it has dragged with it the reputation of the Government as a whole. Honorable members opposite know) that had the Government kept the honorable member for Wilmot with it as Treasurer, and followed his advice, the credit of the Government would have been entirely different from what it is now. The consciousness of that blunder, and the knowledge that it is surely bringing about the Government’s destruction, is at the bottom of all the wrath witnessed in this chamber to-day.
.- This debate has furnished one of the most pitiful spectacles ever seen in the National Parliament.
Mr.- Archdale Parkhill. - Hear, hear !
– The applause from the honorable member opposite suggests that his party is mainly responsible for the regrettable scene. The honorable member for Henty claims to have stated the cause of the promotion of the heaven-sent saviour of this country to the leadership of the Opposition. He said that the Prime Minister had morally blundered in restoring the present Treasurer to the Ministry. Assuming that that is the reason why the new Leader of the Opposition has been chosen, does he still advocate the principles of the party that established him in public life? If he is honest and honorable, as he says he is, does he still entertain warm regard for the welfare of the workers? He cannot have it both ways. Whilst we may not object to his taking exception to what he thought was a wrong step by the Prime Minister we do not regard that as sufficient justification for his action in occupying his present position on the other side of the chamber. But let us consider the matter in all its hypocrisy-
– That expression is unparliamentary.
– Let us take the political position in all its hypocrisy; I maintain that that cannot be out of order.
– It is for the Chair to determine whether an expression is disorderly.
– Let us take the political position in all its hypocrisy-
– The honorable member must select some other word than “ hypocrisy “, which I cannot permit him to use.
– If I select some other word it means the same. Let us take the political position in all its falsity, in all its odoriferousness. This country is in a very bad position - it never was in a worse - but it would not have been in this position had its affairs been properly managed. The people themselves have done their job well. I have emphasized that a hundred times. The worker has not fallen down on his job; nor has the primary producer. In not one avenue of production has there been any dawdling. Every unit of our communal life has worked well and produced well. What has fallen down on its job is-
– The Government.
– Yes, the honorable member’s government. For seven years that government mismanaged the country. Production in Australia has never been more prolific than it was during those seven years, but when the present Government came into power the machine had absolutely broken down, the differential gear had gone, the axles were broken, there was no petrol in the tank and no plug would spark. The previous Government had been responsible for making the condition of a good Rolls Royce worse than that of a wornout Tin Lizzy. Such was the position into which . Australia had been brought by the mismanagement of its former heaven-sent saviours. Where are the wings of the Nationalist party and the Country party to-day? They are gone. They have been replaced by a tail which started wagging to-day. The ex-Leader of the .Opposition is now its Deputy Leader and the late Deputy Leader and the late Acting Deputy Leader have each moved down one step, so that the honorable member for War- ringah (Mr. Parkhill), who was previously three moves from the top, is now in the fourth row, and in danger of being huffed. If he understands the game of draughts, he will know what that means. For many years the Country party has functioned as a separate entity. The Nationalist party represented the money bugs, and the Country party that section of the community upon which the money bugs suckle. It has always been the misfortune of the Labour movement that its members have been derided as having no balance or knowledge. It has been said of them that they are not fit to be entrusted with the responsibility which attaches to those who are entrusted with the management of the affairs of the country. I have heard that said ever since the Labour party came into existence. But how are men described who have ratted on Labour? Why could not the Nationalist party still go on functioning as it has done in the past? What part will the Country party play in the new arrangement? Will the creation of this United Australian party alter the policy which the Nationalists and the Country party proposed to be put into operation if a motion of want of confidence in the present Government had been carried. Of course this motion will not be carried, but if it should be successful who will then call the tune? For example, I note that the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) has shifted his place from a back bench to the front Opposition bench. What is his job to be? He must have had some offer or promise. I am also informed that an honorable member from South Australia has been made secretary to the party opposite. Have honorable members opposite to wait until a Labour man rats to secure a leader? I notice that they can always find some use for a Labour rat. There are seven or eight of them in another place stultifying the policy of the Government by their attitude. Furthermore, I should like to know the reason for the delay of the last three weeks. What was there about Joe three weeks ago that he has since shed to justify his election to-day to the leadership of honorable members opposite? Has he found it necessary to flog honorable members opposite into submission ? It is the most pitiable thing that has ever happened in this Parliament to find two important political parties which declared that if given the opportunity to do so they were capable of remedying the ills from which the country is suffering, standing aside and even declaring that they are only too willing to be led by the honorable member for. Wilmot. This afternoon we heard the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) compliment that honorable member. He said that he hoped that his time as Leader of the Opposition would be short and his time in another position long. “ Oh, ye Pharisees !” I would that I were a little more glib in my Biblical quotations. The ex-Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) has had an uphill task in seeking to find a breach in the wall of the defence of the present Government. He has always stood to his guns; he has laid them, and fired them. But now he has to stand aside for a mere tyro, a man who does not know even the ramifications of the party which is now in opposition, yet is hailed as a heaven-sent leader. It is, I repeat, pitiable; it is degrading to the politics of this country. Honorable members .opposite cannot be anxious to do the right thing by their country.
– The honorable member is not anxious to do so.
– The honorable member has never done so. I do not know how he fluked his election. He should have been given another £3,000 to remain out of Parliament.
– What is the honorable member talking about?
– The amount that the honorable member received from one candidate for whom he stood aside.
– That is a lie.
– How much did the honorable member get? In any case the honorable member was dear at the price.
– I did not get a cent, and you know it.
– I am dealing with the recovery of Australia from its present position and with the method proposed to be adopted by honorable members opposite. The Baillieu press will be well “ stonkered “ by facts when we go to the country. We shall not resort to the devious means adopted by honorable members opposite. The country will judge us by our performances, and deal with us
On our merits. It is not sufficient for a party simply to bluff the people by saying “Put us in office and there will be an improvement in the condition of the country”. Fancy restoring the right honorable member for Cowper to the Treasury after the mess he made there during his previous administration, particularly at a time when 300,000 men are unemployed and a market has to be found for a 200,000,000 bushel harvest. He would make no attempt to market the wheat.
Certain individuals who would take upon themselves the task of regulating the affairs of Australia are dominating the party opposite to-day. We do not need any one at the bar of this House to tell us what the country wants. To those individuals we say “ Take your hands off the throat of the community “. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) helped to make the policy which is being put into operation to-day.
– The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) would not follow the honorable member for Wilmot when he put forward his policy.
– The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) flew off at a tangent from the policy which he was pledged to put into operation.
– The party overruled the honorable member for Wilmot.
– I wish that it had overruled him and stopped the £28,000,000 swindle that he “ put over “. Another swindle will be “ put over “ in two years’ time, which will enable the money bugs to make another “ rake-off “ in percentages.
– It is the inflation swindle that is causing the trouble.
– If that is the sort of thing the honorable member for Wilmot intends .to do to save Australia, the people will very soon express their opinion in regard to it’. That policy will not enable the honorable member’ to change his posi tion’ for a very long while. He will remain only the Leader of the Opposition. I doubt whether he will be able to retain even that office for long. I repeat that this is one of the most pitiful exhibitions ever made in the history of this Parliament.
.- I have been amused by some of the remarks made this afternoon by honorable members opposite. This is the sort of thing which usually happens when a Labour governnent is in its death throes. I ask honorable members opposite to compare what was said in this House in 1929, when the previous Government was on the eve of defeat, with what has been said here to-day. Honorable members opposite are to-day in a rage because certain other honorable members who were formerly connected with their party will ultimately be the means of bringing about the defeat of the Government. They are indulging in every kind of vituperation in regard to these men. But in 1929 they said very different things about those honorable members who had supported the previous Government, but who were then assisting to bring about its defeat. Those men were then held up as the saviours of the country. They were complimented upon acting according to their consciences. It was said that they were doing the right thing. Why, therefore, should former members of the Labour party be accused of acting from ulterior motives in assisting to bring about the defeat of this Government?
– I do not like to see the Country party deserted in this way.
– I remind the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) that the Country party stands to-day where it has always stood. It retains its name and also the allegiance of the country people. The Minister for Markets (Mr. Parker Moloney) will discover that before very much longer. It will be of little use for him to heap contumely upon this party. A gentleman from Wagga,
Mr. Hardy, is after him.
The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), in an attack which he launched against the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), commented upon our financial position. I shall show what the real position is.
Recently the right honorable member for Cowper asked the Prime Minister (Mr., Scullin) to state the amount of our unfundedwhen the previous Government left office,, and to-day. The Prime Minister informed him that on the 1st October, 1929, Australia had a floating debt, in London: of £3,545,000. In reply to the second part of the question, he said, that the amount of unfunded debt a month ago was £10,220,000 in Australia,, and £13,495,000 in London, a total of nearly £24,000,000 on the 1st April, 1931. It will be seen?, therefore, that our unfunded debt has increased by £20,000,000. in eighteen months. If that does not spell disaster, I do not know what does spell it.
The Minister for Markets charged honorable members on this side, and the right honorable memberfor Cowper with seeking place andpay. I ask honorable members to compare the standing of my honored leader, Dr. Earle Page,, to-day with his position when he entered politics, and to compare the position of the Minister for Markets to-day wi th his position when he entered politics.. They will then see who has been the gainer and who the loser by politics. The plain fact, of course, is that some honorable members are making accusations against otherhonorable members whose boots they are not worthy to black.
This Govt rnment is in its death throes. I hopei that in a few short weeks we shall be able to go before our masters, who will then answer the accusations that have been made to-day from the other side of the House, and pass their judgment upon this Government for its mismanagement of the affairs of the country during the last eighteen months.
. -There sometimes comes a time in a man’s career when it is necessary to convey to others the knowledge he possesses in respect to a certain serious position which has arisen. This afternoon, the honorable member for Wilmot contradicted a statement made by a Minister of this Government. I can make a definite and truthful statement on that subject, and I intend to make it. While the present Leader of the Opposition - and I am sorry he is not in the chamber - wasa member of the Labour party, and held the confidence of every member of the movement, he approached me just outside the Labour party caucus roomprevious to the holding, of a meeting, and asked me whether I would make one of a number of members who desired and intended to leavethe Labour movement and. form a cabinet.
– He denied that.
– And he lied..
– Is this the first conversation that occurred on this subject.?.
– The first and the last.. I asked what benefit that would be to the people of the country, and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) said that he could give me an assurance that there were financial interests that would enable him to secure a loan in gold to meet our position. He said that he had had assurances from certain sources that he would be able to secure sufficient money to resuscitate the industries of this country. He said that it would be necessary to follow a certain line of action which involved reducing the. Public Service in accordance wi’th the country’s financial position.
– What was the date of the interview?
– It. was when Mr. Scullin was in England.
– No, it was after his return from Great Britain. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) said that he was to conduct certain negotiations in Melbourne upon which his future action would depend. At that time he said that he could not support a policy such as that proposed by the Government. That statement was made when he was a member of the Labour party.
– When I found that the party was determined to go on the wrong track I left the party.
– Evidently the object of the present Leader of the Opposition was to depart altogether from the policy of the Labour party, and to discard the principles upon which he was elected to this Parliament.
– The honorable member agreed to the policy I submitted, but said that others would not accept it.
– The Leader of the Opposition has associated himself with those reactionary forces that have been opposed to the Labour party since its inception, and is now a supporter of those political organizations that have fought the working class of this country ever since the Labour party was established.
– Will the honorable member deny that in the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), he suggested to me a fusion of both parties and the formation of a new Government?
– I absolutely deny it.
– The honorable member will deny anything after that.
– i do deny it.
– The honorable member made that statement to me.
– What did the Leader of the Opposition say?
– I declined to take it to the party.
– At one time I thought that the honorable member for Wilmot was honest in his desire to serve the people, including the workers whom he was supposed to represent in this Parliament. His recent action in going through the country, using arguments that have been employed against the Labour party ever since it has been in existence, and which have been supported and applauded by every organization and institution opposed to Labour, has convinced me that he has forsaken those principles which he once so strongly advocated. His recent actions have also convinced me that his object is to burst up the Labour party, and thereby throw the working class, whom he was supposed to represent, to the wolves.
– The ‘honorable member wanted to break up the party in the absence of the Prime Minister.
– I have stated the position clearly and definitely. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Lyons) has now allied himself with a political entity whose sole object is, not to bring about an equality of sacrifice, but to destroy organized labour. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) and others are now actively associated with those who are protecting the sheltered and vested interests of this country, including the bondholders, and leaving the farmers and the workers to make all the sacrifices. There has not been any indication on the part of those who have left the Labour party of a desire to ensure equality of sacrifice in meeting the present position, but only a determined effort to break down the industrial standards of this country. The public utterances and actions of these men convince me that that is their sole object, and in that direction they are now acting with even more enthusiasm than the ex-Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham). It is idle for the present Leader of the Opposition to say that he did not make an effort to induce certain honorable members to leave the Labour party and to become associated with those reactionary forces and commercial institutions that are sucking the vitality and life blood out of the workers, and endeavouring to destroy those organizations through which they have secured the only power they now possess.
– I desire to make a fewobservations on the motion before the Chair, which, I understand, is that the House do now adjourn. There was a burning desire on the part of the Government at an early stage this afternoon to proceed with the business of the country. The Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) entered into a heated argument, and some unintelligible remarks were made by the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan), who was white with passion, as to why the business of the country should proceed. Apparently, what they regard as the business of the country is an exhibition of one of the most disgusting and shocking ebullitions of spite, spleen and meanness that could possibly emanate from members of a political party. What a sorry spectacle the members of the Government presented to this House this afternoon in their efforts to belittle a recent colleague of theirs. Is it any wonder that this country is facing a crisis when those who are controlling its destinies make such a degrading exhibition of themselves. It is apparent that men of their type cannot govern any country. They are unable to face difficult situations, and are incapable of rescuing this country from its difficulties. They belong to a mean-spirited class, and have allowed their personal spite and disappointment to get the better of them. I have never seen any Minister in this or any other Parliament make such an exhibition of himself as that made by the head of the Justice Department of the Commonwealth to-day. The AttorneyGeneral was in fact, white with rage and passion. He cast aside all association with justice, and was intent only on saying the most foul and spiteful things that he could call to mind. It is quite evident that the sooner there is a change of government the better it will be for Australia. The iron has entered into the soul of the Labour party. It can see the writing on the wall. It came into office eighteen months ago with the greatest majority that any government has had in the history of the federation. Where is that majority to-day? It has dwindled to a majority of four members, who follow, not this Government, or the Prime Minister, but the Premier of New South Wales. They have declared that they support this Government only because it comprises the best set of “ duds “ offering at the moment. This once powerful Government has been reduced to an unenviable position. After all, what is the reason for all this hullabaloo this afternoon? It is because the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) have followed the dictates of their consciences, and have put country above party. I guarantee that 99 out of every 100 citizens of this country would have applauded the Prime Minister had he followed the example of those honorable gentlemen. The Prime Minister, when he took office, had a great many friends, because he was considered to be a mau who would follow his conscience, irrespective of other considerations. The people were entitled to that opinion, particularly when they read of the high-sounding speeches which the Prime Minister made while in Great Britain, and the messages which he cabled to his colleagues in Australia, and in which “Moloney and Brennan concurred.” Those reports, led the people of this country to believe that he, like the honorable member for Wilmot, would follow the dictates of his conscience, irrespective of other considerations. I do not suppose that in the political history of Australia there has ever been a greater sense of disappointment, and a more bitter feeling of resentment in the community, than that which swept like a wave through this country, when it was found that the Prime Minister preferred the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) to the honorable member for Wilmot. That action has done more to shock the public conscience, and to harm the prestige of the Prime Minister of Australia than has any other political action during the past 25 years. The position of this country under the administration of this Government has gone from bad to worse, until to-day hundreds of thousands of men are walking the streets unemployed. When one considers the privations and sufferings of the people of this country to-day, one must agree that this is a time when such paltry and miserable considerations as have been expressed by Government supporters to-day should be set aside. A man, who is prepared to say that the policy which he has supported in the past is wrong, and that another policy would improve the position of the country, is deserving of the plaudits, not only of the hundreds of thousands of people outside this Parliament, but also of those who have been elected to represent them in this chamber. The only persons who have not a good word to say for such a man are those honorable gentlemen who sit on the front government bench in this chamber, and their supporters. Fifteen out of every twenty men taken at random in Martinplace, Sydney, or in Collins-street, or Bourke-street, Melbourne, would agree that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) is worthy of the people’s confidence, and is the man who is most likely to pull the country out of its difficulties. Seeing that the confidence of the people has been transferred from the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) to the honorable member for Wilmot, one can understand the bitterness of honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member for Wilmot was guilty of treachery.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) said that while he was Acting Prime Minister, the most treacherous man among his colleagues in the Ministry was the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley).
– He said that because he could not break the Government, notwithstanding his treachery.
– Order !
– He is a Judas.
– The Minister for Home Affairs’ must obey the Chair, orI shall namehim.
– In these critical times, when the interests of the country are at stake, we should forget all considerations of patty.Never previously has Australia had to face so critical a situation as that which exists to-day. During the eighteen monthsthat the present Government has beenin office, the people have hoped against hope that it would do the right thing, but at last they have givenup in despair. To-day, there is in this House a united Opposition under the leadership of a man who has the confidence of the great majority of the people of this country, a fact which would be demonstrated tomorrow ifan election were to take place. Every decent citizenof this country should rally t’o hrs standard, and fight for better conditions and better government. Without the co-operation of the citizens of Australia, no Parliament can achieve much. Irepeatthat it is the duty of every decent citizen to stand behind men like the honorable’ member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons), the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr.Fenton)and their colleagues,whohavehad sufficient courage to place country before party.
– The honorable mem- ber’s time has expired.
.- I shall endeavournot to stray further from the question before the Chair than did the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. When he rose, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) promised to say something about the motion before the House, but he failed to fulfil that promise. It is strange to’ see the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) on the front Opposition bench, and sitting behind him men who at various times have sat behind different leaders, for reasons best known to themselves - reasons which, in my opinion, are associated with money. I remember thatnot long ago, the honorable member for Warringah made a bitter attack on the honorable member for
Wilmot when the latter was PostmasterGeneral.
– I have never made a bitter attack on him:
– The honorable member attacked the administration of the Postal Department when the honorable member for Wilmot was PostmasterGeneral. I know also that the honorable member for Wilmot, in common with other Ministers, has been told by the honorable member for Warringah that he had shown inability and incapacity in his administration. Rut the day that any member of the Labour party, no matter how incapable he may be, crosses to the other side of the chamber in this or any other Parliament, he is hailed as a new Messiahj and acclaimed as a man who acted at the dictates of conscience, and made sacrifices for the good of the country. We are never told that he does it for selfish reasons. It is rather amusing to hear these remarks from men who make desperate efforts to convince the electors that they are in earnest. Personally, I cannot believe in their honesty. I know of a number of men who’ at various times have left the Labour party. I know also that prior to their transferring their allegiance to another political party - until they “ ratted “ and got at the cheese - the Opposition party, as well as the newspapers of this country, saw no virtue in them. I have a keen recollection of the time when the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) left the Labour party and took with him from that party sufficient members to form a Nationalist government. He was acclaimed as a man who left the Labour party at the dictates of conscience, for the good of Australia. There are some unpleasant people in the country - and I am among them - who believe that the gift of £25,000, which the right honorable gentleman received, had something to do with his action. I do not believe that members cross the floor of this House to ally themselves with the enemies of Labour for nothing. I believe that they are well paid for doing so. Nor do I believe that the members of the Opposition, including the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill), would have elected the honorable member for Wilmot as their leader had they not been told to do so by the press which supports the Opposition. We hear a. good deal of the unity among those who occupy the Opposition benches. It is about four weeks since the honorable member for Wilmot was heralded as the new leader of the anti-Labour forces of this Parliament. It is useless for the new leader, or his supporters, to suggest that they have any longer any consideration for the workers of this country., I agree with the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Gibbons) that these men have associated themselves with the enemies, of Labour in order to injure the workers. I predict that before long some of them will be relegated to political obscurity. When they have done the work that the enemies of Labour desire them to do, they will find that they will not be wanted. A person who twists on principles he once espoused, and walks across the floor of the House to join the party in opposition, is far from being a man. Five members now sitting in opposition were sent into, this Parliament pledged to support the present Government and its leader. Had they found that they could no longer follow him they should have been manly enough to go back to the people- who sent them here and say-giving any reasons that they thought fit- that they could no longer follow Mr. Scullin. Then, if those constituencies endorsed their actions, they would at least be able to say, “We have been endorsed by the people who originally sent us to Parliament to support the Labour party. They have accepted the explanation that we gave for our changed attitude and again returned us to Parliament to represent them.” Those honorable members could then have been recognized as honest men. I refuse to accept them as such until they take that action. I appreciate the fact that a man may change his opinions. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) was challenged this afternoon for having sat in Parliament as a Liberal. I remind honorable members that the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) also was a Liberal. Since then he has gone one way, and the honorable member for Corangamite another, but the latter gentleman may at least claim that he was elected to support this Government as a pledged Labour man, and has remained faithful to his pledge. The honorable member for Maribyrnong cannot do that. He was not elected to express his present opinions, .and his perfidy has not been endorsed by his constituents. Let him return to his electorate and give his constituents an opportunity to say whether they approve his defection from this party. If they do and send him back as their representative, he can stand in this chamber as an honest man. Similar remarks may be applied to the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb). During the few months that I have known that honorable member I have spent many hours in his company, and acquired a great respect for him as a man. My confidence in him would be restored if he sought the verdict of his electors on his recent action. The honorable members for Boothby (Mr. Price) and Bas3 (Mr. Guy) are in the same boat. They were sent to this Parliament to support the Labour cause. It is of no use their protesting that their consciences no longer permit them to do that because the Prime Minister and caucus reinstated the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) as Treasurer. The honorable member for Boothby took part in the secret ballot which resulted in that reinstatement, and after it had been taken he was prepared to accept the secretaryship of the Labour party. He even solicited the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) to champion his cause as a candidate for the Ministry, after Senator Daly, his fellow South Australian, had been eliminated from it. The honorable member was quite prepared to go into the Cabinet and sit alongside the honorable member for Dalley. He possesses an elastic conscience which allows him to follow the direction of the wind. I do not believe that he would have crossed the floor had he been elevated to Cabinet rank. As the result of a wire that he received from his wife, sent apparently at the request of wealthy friends, he went hurriedly to South Australia, and later he had the audacity to attribute his defection to the dictates of conscience. I have heard these honorable members compared with Judas. In the interests of Judas, I object to that, as after he had betrayed the Saviour he at least had the decency to hang himself. The man who, pledged to take certain action for the people, uses the position given to him for other purposes, is the most contemptible cur that I can imagine ; in fact, I do not think that he is a man at all.
– Is the honorable member in order in referring to another honorable member as a contemptible cur?
– The reference is disorderly, and I ask the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the reference, but point out that it was not directed at honorable members.
– In any circumstances, the expression is unparliamentary.
– I had a similar experience the other day, and I do not know that I was far wrong. I am using the English language.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member, in order in extending the scope of his remarks in that fashion?
– Order! I understood the honorable member to withdraw his reference.
– I did, Mr. Speaker.
– In doing so, the honorable member aggravated the offence by extending the scope of his remarks.
– I should like the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Morgan) to indicate precisely what he means.
– The honorable member for Herbert referred to a “ contemptible cur “. When you, sir, insisted that the reference be withdrawn, the honorable member withdrew it, but extended its application by reasserting his previous statement.
– I have followed the remarks of the honorable member fairly closely, and I did not understand him to reassert his statement. The honorable member has already withdrawn his reference to a “ contemptible cur “, and is now quite in order in proceeding.
– At least I have the good manners to do the right thing when I am told that I am wrong. It is very regrettable to me to see people who have been actively associated with the Labour party for months, and even years, act as these honorable members have done. I did not think that I should live to see the adjournment of the House moved to enable a motion of censure to be lodged against the Government by an individual who says that he seeks an election, . but is not carrying out the principles for which he was elected to this House, and whose change of attitude has not been endorsed. I am not worrying about the result of an election, and I have no hesitation in saying what I believe it will be.
– Then why not let us go to the country?
– I know all about the honorable member. He should consider himself very lucky in being here to-day.
– The honorable member will be here long after you are out of Parliament.
– I shall not debate that point. I have no foolish illusions about the position in the Darling Downs electorate, but I know more about it than does the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Archdale Parkhill). Had it not been for the treacherous action of another so-called Labour man, the present honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Morgan) would not be here.
I believe that everything that has been said this afternoon about those honorable members who have crossed the House is warranted. It is my contention that they are guilty and deserve all that they get. So far as I am concerned they will get their deserts while I have breath in my body.
Mr. MORGAN (Darling Downs [5.7]. - I accept the position that has arisen in this House this afternoon as the best possible indication that the country could have of the utter impotence to which the Government has been reduced. This Government is faced with the alternative of resigning without delay, or of accepting and meeting the position. I definitely charge the Government with not being big enough to meet the situation that it has created. If there is anything that I might call upon as direct and complete evidence in support of that contention it is that less than two years ago the Government came back from the constituencies with the greatest majority that was ever accorded to any party in the history of the Federal Parliament, and yet to-day it dares not take a division. On the first occasion when the newly created Opposition makes its appearance in the House it has taken the business of Parliament out of the hands of the Government. Only a few weeks ago we were treated to the spectacle of the Government being saved from defeat by the casting voice of the Speaker.
I shall refer in passing to the ebullition of anger and anxiety to-day among members occupying the treasury bench. The Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin),in the course of his remarks this afternoon, could find nothing better to do than to attack the newlyelected Leader of the Opposition, and nothing bettor upon which to base his attack than the fact that the honorable member for “Wilmot had been so seised of the importance of the crisis which confronted this country that he was prepared to make a great sacrifice. Accordingly, he left the party with which he had been associated for so long to, later, ally himself with a party which offered the only policy by means of which the fallen fortunes of Australia may be restored. I ask the right honorable gentleman if he can say that at any time he made any sacrifice comparable to that made made by the honorable member for Wilmot. [Quorum formed.] His attack upon the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon was bitter in the extreme. The right honorable gentleman even went so far as to stigmatize the honorable member for Wilmot as a “ rat.”
Mr.Forde. - What did the honorable member say about Sir Littleton Groom?
– What I may have said about Sir Littleton Groom has nothing whatever to do with the debate this afternoon. The honorable member for Wilmot, I remind the House, was this afternoon charged with having done something inimical to the interests of Australia. What he really did was to make a definite sacrifice in the interests of his country, and that is something which the Prime Minister has not, up to the present, dared to make. If the right honorable gentleman can point to any public sacrifice of his that is comparable with that made by the honorable member for Wilmot, he might be in a position to criticize and cast stones at his former colleague. If the Prime Minister wishes to do something big - something that will be in the interests of Australia - he should resign immediately, and give the people an opportunity to express their opinion upon the administration of this Government. The mythology of ancient Home records an example of a sacrifice which I commend to the consideration of the Prime Minister. We are told that, at a certain crisis in the history of that city, a yawning chasm opened in the forum, which could only be filled by throwing into it the most precious treasure of Borne. A sacrifice was called for, and there was one man who was prepared to make it. Mettus Curtius, declaring that Rome had no riches greater than courage, leaped into the abyss, which thereupon closed over him, and Rome was saved. This country at the moment is in grave difficulties, and the Government stands idly by. Sacrifices are necessary to save it. but all that we are getting from the Prime Minister, his colleagues and supporters are speeches in which the keynote is vituperation of the one man who has made a sacrifice. This afternoon the Prime Minister and his supporters taunted this man and his friends who left the Labour party. They are not willing to do anything that can be compared with the sacrifice made -by the honorable member for Wilmot, who, placing country before party, severed his association with Labour, and placed his services at the disposal of the nation. As for the Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan) all that I need to say is that I do not intend to dip into the cesspool of the honorable gentleman’s mentality.
– Order !
– The remarks of the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Blakeley) seemed to centre around the one word “ travail,” which, I suggest, refers to the labour pains of the present Government. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), in his contribution to the debate, practically confined himself to remarks defaming the honorable member for Wilmot. I have no hesitation in saying that the honorable member is not prepared to do the one thing necessary to bring about a general election.
-Could the honorable member understand the remarks of the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Gibbons)?
– I agree with the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) that, when the honorable member for Calare sat down, the House was left in a great degree of uncertainty as to what be really meant. The exhibition given this afternoon by members of the Ministry and their supporters is the best possible evidence that this country has yet had of the state of impotence to which this Government has been reduced. The squealing which we have heard to-day -will resound throughout the electorates.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 May 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1931/19310507_reps_12_129/>.