2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at z.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to report to the Senate that I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a Commission authorizing me to swear in members of the Senate who have not already taken the oath of allegiance.
asked the’ VicePresident of the’ Executive Council, upon notice -
If the Government will cause to be laid upon the table of the Senate copies of all the suggestions submitted by the Naval Commanding Officers . at the recent Conference which dealt with “Defence” Regulations?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows’: -
As the question of naval re-organization is under the consideration of the Government, it is not considered advisable at present to make public all the suggestions made by officers for the consideration of the Minister.
– May I say that I understand that there may be some opposition to notice of motion No: 1, relating to.the days of meeting of the Senate.
– I asked whether it was formal or not formal, and it was stated to be formal.
– That, I understand, enables it to be moved at once, but it does not preclude discussion.
The- PRESIDENT. - Yes ; under our Standing Orders, if a motion is formal it cannot be discussed.
– I think there is a misunderstanding. I wish to point- put, with the indulgence of the Senate, that an honorable senator mentioned to me that he desired to express ah opinion with regard to the days of sitting. It is usual to discuss, that question, and I therefore ask you to put the question whether the motion shall be regarded as formal to the Senate again.
– I have put it to the Senate, and the motion has been declared to be formal.
– I ask you to put the question again. I think there was a misunderstanding.
– I will call upon the Vice-President of the Executive Council to move notice of motion No. 1 as a formal motion. I am bound by .the Standing Orders. But, of course, if the Senate likes to say that it shall be discussed, it may do so.
– I will ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council not to move it as a formal motion.
– In a ‘case of this kind I am in’ the hands of the President. The PRESIDENT. - I am bound by the Standing Orders. I call upon the VicePresident of the Executive Council to move the notice of motion as a f ormal motion. If the Senate otherwise decides it can be discussed.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the days of meeting of this Senate during the present session be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week, at the hour of half-past two o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and at the hour of half-past’ ten o’clock in the forenoon of Friday, unless otherwise ordered.
Senator MILLEN’ (New South Wales).I desire to say-
– The honorable senator is bound by the Standing Orders.
– I was not present when the question was put, whether the notice of motion was formal or otherwise.
– I cannot help that. The honorable senator ought to have been in his place. I am bound by the
Standing Orders ; the honorable senator must see that.
Question resolved in the affirmative. ORDER OF BUSINESS.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday during the present session Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday up to the tea adjournment, and that, unless otherwise ordered, private orders of the day take precedence of private notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motions (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That a Standing Orders Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Lieut.-Col. Gould, Sir” W. A. Zeal, Dobson, Higgs, Playford, Pearce, and Trenwith, with power to act during recess, and to confer with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives; three to be the quorum.
That a Library Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, Senators Matheson, Keating, Millen, Stewart, Sir J. H. Symon, and Styles, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives ; three to be the quorum.
That a Printing Committee be appointed, to consist of Senators Pulsford, Macfarlane, Henderson, Dawson, Findley, Smith, and Guthrie, with power to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives; three to be the quorum.
That a House’ Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, Senators Lt.-Col. Neild, Playford, de Largie, Fraser, O’Keefe, Turley, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives ; three to be the quorum.
– I have the honour to move -
That the following address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General -
May it please your Excel Excellency,
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
In moving this motion, I think we may fairly congratulate ourselves that His Excellency’s advisers have presented to us a tolerably full bill of fare. If we get through, judiciously and well, all the work that is presented to us in this speech, we shall do very good work indeed. The first paragraph is one with which I am sure we shall all agree. In it His Excellency congratulates the Commonwealth upon the fact that we have passed over the ivery serious period of drought with which Australia has been afflicted. It seems to me, however, that that drought should cause some serious reflections on the part of members of the Commonwealth Parliament. This country is liable to be again so afflicted. Past experience teaches us that that is so. Although the Constitution under which we work limits our powers with reference to the permanent waterways of Australia to matters affecting navigation, it seems to me that we ought, as far as possible within our powers, to give consideration to the other extremely important question of irrigation ; and in pursuance of our powers to control the rivers of Australia for navigation purposes, we may’ perhaps - it seems to me that we can - facilitate the application and use of water for irrigation purposes. It would be well for this Parliament, at the earliest possible time, to take into its consideration the question of rendering more permanent some of our temporarily navigable rivers by a judicious system of locking. By that means we could raise the level of those rivers permanently and to that extent facilitate the operation of irrigation in various ways. The reference to the wai between Russia and Japan is one which, I am sure, we all heartily indorse. It does not seem to me to call for any special comment. But the next paragraph, the third in the Governor-General’s speech, is one of which it is impossible to over estimate the importance. It has reference to the possibility and the prospect in the near future of the States debts of Australia being taken over by the Federal Parliament. Our position with reference to indebtedness is becoming - has become - extremely serious, and is daily becoming more so. There are whisperings, and something more than whisperings, that australia has reached the limit of its power to borrow with any degree of satisfaction, or with any possibility of securing reasonable terms. That is a very serious position. The Commonwealth owes considerably over ^200.000,000 to foreign bondholders. That is a debt of very great magnitude; consider ing the extent of our population. Of course, there are those who hold that we need not be afraid to borrow, and that borrowing is a good thing for us. But I venture to express the opinion that borrowing is an extremely bad thing, and that we ought to give serious consideration to the question of how we can discontinue borrowing without retarding the progress of the Commonwealth. Mr. Coghlan, in his last” issue of the Seven Colonies of Australasia, states the position of the Commonwealth with reference to indebtedness in a very striking form. Trie argument is frequently used that we must borrow, that borrowing is necessary to our development in order to bring money into the country. Now the figures presented, by Mr. Coghlan show in a very startling manner tha’t borrowing, so far from bringing money into the country, does the very opposite. >He mentions that from 1871 to 1901, a period of .thirty years, Australasia has borrowed ,£206,000, 000. According to the argument that ‘we can bring money info the country by borrowing, one would think that Ave had obtained ,£206,000.000. But, as he points out, out of the £206,000,000 that we have borrowed, all the money that has ever reached Australasia is £25,000,000. The other .£181, 000,000 has remained in London to pay interest and other charges. The private borrowings present still more striking facts. We haveborrowed in the period referred to £107,000.000, but we have sent away in interest and profit -to . foreign investors £164,000,000. Thus we have sent away all the money we have borrowed during those thirty years, and ,£56,000,000 in addition. Those figures seem to me to suggest a very serious reflection. Taken in the aggregate, the public and private indebted-, ness of Australia is roughly about £400,000.000. The interest on that sum is roughly about ,£1 6,000.000. Thus, with a population of a little over 4,000,000 in Australasia, we are sending away every year to the foreign bondholders nearly ^16,000,000. When we remember these facts, is it not remarkable that this continent is li’able to very frequent cycles of depression? Of course there are national debts that are not so burdensome as ours is. The national debt of Great Britain, although large - not nearly so large proportionately as ours - still is no great burden to Great Britain.
– She has less to show for it than we have, though.
– That does not seem to me to affect the question with which I am dealing. It is true that Great Britain has less to show for her national debt. Her people have fewer interest-returning assets to show for it. But they have a free country occupying the proudest position amongst the nations of the earth to show for it. That must not be forgotten. But it is not that aspect of the case that I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to. What I wish to impress on honorable senators is that we in Australia are bearing an enormous burden, which is more than I think we can continue to bear without feeling in the future, as we have undoubtedly felt in the past, serious inconvenience. This seems to me to point to the necessity for some step being taken to check the drift of indebtedness.
– Kyabram will do that.
– I want as far as I can to discuss this extremely important question apart, from any consideration that will lead to friction, heat, or bad feeling. We are confronted with a very serious position in reference to our indebtedness; and there is only one way out. We should, as nearly as may be, cease borrowing for the future, and as soon as possible - at once, indeed - adopt some means for providing a fund by which we may begin to get out of debt. It seems to me that the only way to attain this end efficiently, completely, and thoroughly, is for the Federal Government to take over the whole of the States debts, and make such provision as will give the Commonwealth, control of borrowing for the future. I know that this suggestion will not be popular in some quarters.. We have got so into the habit of borrowing that if we want to buy a new walking-stick we float a loan for the purpose. At any rate, it would appear as if that were so - as if we were an impotent, poor, and poverty-stricken community ; though we know, of course, that that is not the fact. Mr. Coghlan, in his latest statistics, says that in. Australia there is a distribution of wealth unparalleled, in any country in the world. That points to the conclusion that we can, and ought to, pay our way from day to day instead of increasing our indebtedness, and handing down a burden which posterity ought not to be called upon to bear. The question of the establishment of a sinking fund may be approached in several ways, and I think judiciously. But what strikes me most forcibly in connexion with our indebtedness is that in Australia, as Senator de Largie has pointed out, Ave have something to show for our indebtedness. We have expended the loan’ money, in the main, in the creation of public works, in the construction of railways, the carrying out of irrigation schemes, and in a hundred and one other ways, all of which have tended to improve the value of private lands.
– Not all ; there are public lands.
– Public lands, as the honorable senator will see, do not have their value improved so far as the public are concerned. The policy is laid down - and it is a very proper policy - that a State, or the Commonwealth, shall not make a profit out of the land. Although the public land is, and has been, largely improved in value by the public works policy of the whole of the States, yet the system is to give bond fide .and suitable settlers land practically for nothing. There is therefore little or no advantage to the people as a whole.
– Land is not given for nothing in New South Wales.
– It is said that land is not given for nothing in Victoria, but as a matter of fact, the land in that State is assumed to be worth £i per acre. It is true, as I have been reminded, that some land is sold by auction, but the- general” principle is to assume the land to be worth £1 per acre. There have been classifications in Victoria, which have reduced the value below that sum ; but, as a general principle, suitable selectors are given land not for £1 per acre but for 5 per cent, interest on the valuation, extending over twenty years ; in other words, the land is given for nothing. However, that is really apart from the issue I am endeavouring to present to honorable senators. What I wish to impress on honorable senators is that this enormous expenditure of considerably over .^200,000,000 by the respective States of the Commonwealth has mainly gone to improve the value of private lands.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable senator will have his opportunity, and may be able to show, I am sure to his own satisfaction, that what I have said is nonsense. However, I state my argument, poor though it may be. It seems to me that it would be equitable in connexion with the provision of a sinking fund - a provision which is now being looked on as necessary - to establish some system of land tax for the purpose. Having in view the very large area of privately held land in
Australia, honorable senators will see that it would be possible to create a very substantial sinking fund by means of a land tax without inflicting a grievous burden on any individual. That. is to say, the tax in its incidence would begin so low, and be so light in its character, that although the aggregate result would be very substantial, the amount which any individual would have to pay would be very small. It seems to me that the Commonwealth Parliament ought to give consideration to this suggestion, as one means of providing a sinking fund. There are, to my mind, several other plans which might easily be adopted without inflicting any additional burden on the people. For instance, I understand that the Commonwealth Treasurer has been in communication with the Imperial authorities in reference to securing the right to mint silver in Australia. That is a right we have not hitherto enjoyed,. but I believe it is one which is not far distant. Honorable senators know that for some time past we have been minting gold, which is not a profitable undertaking, but is, to some extent, a convenience to the States. Therefore, I for one do not in any degree deprecate the fact that the work is undertaken within the Commonwealth. But we must remember that we are minting gold at a loss, some of it being for our own use, and some of it for the use of the Empire. On the minting of silver, there is, I believe, a very large profit, approaching 50 per cent., and I think that power to undertake this work will soon be granted to us, as, I have no hesitation in saying, it should be granted. Our experience of, and our association with the Imperal authorities, teach that any concession which can be demonstrated to be just and fair is generally granted to us, and therefore I think that in the near future we may look forward to making some profit on the minting of silver. I am not in a position to say how much that profit may be, but, whether it be great or small, it might be very properly used, without inflicting any additional burden on the people, for the purposes of a sinking fund. There is another very heavy expenditure which some of the States, though- 1 am not in a position to say how many, are at present incurring. I refer to the pensions system of the State in which we are now meeting, and of some of the other States. That is a system which, while still current, has been abolished in’ spirit ; that is to say, while the agreements we have made to give pensions to public servants, under certain conditions, are to be kept - and that is a very proper condition, I think - no pensions are to be paid in the future. I do not know the whole figures in this connexion as applied to all of the States, but in Victoria there is under this head an annual expenditure of considerably over £[300,000.
– That is as much as is paid in old-age pensions.
– It is more, I think ; at any rate, it is as much. That is an expenditure which we are now bearing, and we might adopt the principle of applying this money as pensions fall through, by death or removal, taking the maximum amount payable in a given year as a basis, to a sinking fund in order to meet our indebtedness. That, it seems to me, would be a judicious course to adopt. From the sources I have indicated, and others, it can readily be conceived that we could, in a very short time, make a very substantial decrease in the amount of our indebtedness. There is another question intimately associated with that of our debt - that is, the question of banking, and it seems to me that by a judicious use of banking by the Commonwealth itself we might make very large savings. Roughly speaking, there is throughout Australia a note issue of between .£4,000,000 and £[5,000,000. That is the recorded note issue; and when we remember that the note issue is taxed to some extent, I think in all the States, but at any rate in Victoria
– It is heavily taxed.
– I am going to show that we can get a much larger revenue by another process.
– There are State notes in Queensland.
– I am aware that there are Treasury-notes in Queensland.
– There are State notes in Queensland.
– The note issue of private institutions, as recorded, is, roughly speaking, between ,£4,000,000 and £[5,000,000. But it must be remembered that this ,,&s only the recorded note issue, based on what is called the daily balance. That is to say, the notes that are out of the bank each day are called “ notes in circulation “ ; but it is a common method of business to pay notes in each day in connexion with the accounts of business people, and these are regarded as not in circulation, although they may be put” in circulation again in the afternoon. These notes may be paid out the following day just in the same way ‘as sovereigns are ; and it would be just as correct to describe sovereigns paid into the bank during the day as not in circulation as to so describe these notes. Therefore, it is extremely likely . that if we had the real figures we should find that there are between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000 worth of notes in circulation in Australia. If, in pursuance of ;the policy of the Commonwealth, we. thought fit to establish some system of national banking-
– The honorable senator ought to know ; he is a director.
– If, in pursuance of the powers of the Commonwealth, we thought fit to establish some system of national banking, it would be quite possible to issue from ,£6,000,000 to £8,000,000 worth of paper money ; and we could by this means obtain at once a loan to that amount without interest, that would be permanent in its character.1 The sum of £8,000,000 at per cent, represents £280,000 per annum.
– Would the honorable senator hold no reserve of gold against all those notes?
– I am discussing, now an aspect of the case that does not seem to me to involve the necessity just now of considering all the details. There is’ nodoubt that we have in our assets - in the taxpayers and in the revenue of the Commonwealth - a security quite adequate to meet any liability in connexion with such ah issue. We might adopt a plan which I understand is in operation in Canada, where the Government is not unduly liberal or democratic. There is a law there which compels private’ banks to hold a certain percentage of their cash reserve - 40 per cent., I believe - inTreasury notes or Treasury paper.
– Dominion notes?
– It does not matter ; the honorable senator knows that I am referring to the paper money of the Dominion of Canada, and whatever may be their proper name it is quite correct to call them Treasury notes or paper. By either of the means I have suggested we might effect a saving in interest of nearly ,£300,000 per annum. I think that if we were to adopt some reasonable scheme of a light land tax, general in its character, and without any exemption - taxing country lands as well as town lands ; taxing the far-away back block, and the corner lot.in the big city - we should i>e able to raise an extremely useful and not insignificant fund. From these and other sources we might raise such a fund as would enable us in a few years to say that we had “ taken our children out of pawn.” One extremely important question touched on in His Excellency’s speech has already been discussed’ by the Commonwealth Parliament. That is the question of the establishment of Courts of Compulsory Arbitration. Speaking for myself, and I think, voicing the general feeling of the peope of the Commonweath, I regard it as a matter for congratulation that we are to have a Federal law for the purpose of settling industrial disputes. Unfortunately, I think that to some extent our powers as a Commonwealth are limited in this connexion. It is very difficult to say definitely how great our powers are, but the language of the Constitution, so far as I remember it, is that we have power to provide Courts of Arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes which extend beyond the borders of any one State. ‘When we consider the first part of the provision, which gives power to institute courts for the prevention of industrial disputes, I am not sure that it is not possible to interpret it as giving us very much greater powers than some of those who are opposed to such legislation will admit. However, we undoubtedly have power to create Courts of Arbitration. There is a feeling which is becoming general throughout the world that nations ought to discontinue war - that it would be of immense advantage to the human family if some satisfactory and sufficient means of international arbitration were adopted. The feeling is growing with immense rapidity, and has amongst its supporters the leading thinkers as well as the leading philanthropists of the world.
– There has always
Deen that feeling.
– I do not think that is quite correct, though I am glad to have my argument strengthened. At “any rate it speaks very little for our intelligence and the advance of our civilization that for all this .time we should have been seeking something we have not vet been able to accomplish.
– That is quite true.
– If it is true as the honorable senator says - and I do not contradict his statement - with reference to nations, is it not equally true with reference to the domestic relations of nations inside their own borders? If it is, then this provision for compulsory arbitration ought to be welcomed by every lover of his country and of the human race. Yet there are not an inconsiderable number who are violently opposing any advance in this direction. We ought to congratulate ourselves on the fact that we shall have in a very few days an opportunity of dealing with this very important question. The -necessity for this legislation, great as it has been at all times, is becoming greater every day. It is the same with nations. Armaments are being piled upon armaments ; improved munitions of war are being created every day ; armies are being increased, and the power to fight is becoming enormously augmented, with the result that the peace of the world is always in danger. But it is in danger to a greater extent than it was in times that are gone. The wars of the past were comparatively small things. When they occurred they were confined to a restricted area, and the combatants had not the power which they have now to inflict injury on non-combatants, that is, on nations not directly interested in the conflict. But now a war, when it occurs, is of such magnitude that the whole world feels the shock of it. Take the war which is raging between Russia and Japan. Already the whole civilized world has felt in some measure the shock of that war. The very first effect of it in Australia was a movement in the wheat market. That may, of course, be an advantage to some few persons, but it means that’ the cost of living of every man, woman, and child in the world has been affected. The possibility of living has been made more difficult because of this war which is raging between two nations. So far as their own interests are concerned, they have a right to do what they choose, but when their action, taken in their own interest, has the effect of injuring the rest of the civilized world, it becomes a reasonable consideration whether the civilized world has not a right to create conditions which will prevent such injury being . inflicted upon them in the future. With reference to industrial disputes, the difficulty is growing in exactly the same way. Trades unionism is increasing, I am glad to say, with very great rapidity. Its numbers are being largely augmented, and its organization is being consolidated and perfected in a marvellous degree. On the other hand, combinations of employers, I am glad to say, are becoming more general, and their organization more extensive and complete, with the result that, as with nations, there are standing over against each other enormous armies prepared to inflict upon the whole world a shock from which it would take a long time to recover, so in the industrial world there are immense armies being created on either side, at any time liable to be forced into action, disastrous to the community in which they are, by any spark of unreason. We have seen in our own limited experience very serious and alarming evidences of this fact. In the United Kingdom, as recently as seven years ago, there was a conflict of this character, from which it is questionable if it will ever recover. I refer to the conflict of 1897, in the engineering trade, when practically the whole of threat Britain’s greatest industry was brought to a standstill, because the two parties differed as to the manner in which it should be conducted. It-is justifiable for the people, whose lives are wrapped up in an industry, to have a difference of opinion with reference to its conduct ; but, in view of the fact that they are not the only sufferers by its cessation, the whole community has a right to step in and say to the contending parties - “ Whilst this is primarily your business, it is a business which, if conducted in a certain way, may lead to disputes which will cause injury to every citizen in the Empire, or a section of it ; therefore, the Empire, as a whole, or the section of it in which you dwell, has a right to decide the means by which any issue shall be solved.” This principle is being generally admitted, that is to say there is no argument against arbitration.
– Wait until the honorable senator hears Senator Fraser.
– I do not think that even Senator Fraser will contend now that arbitration, per se, is not a. good thing. But what some of those who say it is a good thing will urge is, that it should not be compulsory.
– Hear, hear.
– What they will urge is, “ It is a good thing, but it should be voluntary ; it is a good thing, but the good only should be those who practice it, that the bad, the wicked, the vicious, the inconsiderate, the callous, should be allowed to do as they like.” Just apply that same reasoning to picking pockets. Is it not a splendid thing that people should abstain from picking pockets ?
– They break the law if they do not.
– Decidedly, they break the law, but there was a time when they did not break the law ; there was a time when there was no law. Suppose we apply that argument to picking pockets.
– It is not applicable?
– What a splendid thing it would be if abstinence from picking pockets were general.
-Col. Neild. - But what about the people who do not wear pockets ? There are whole nations that do not.
– Just now for the benefit of Senator Neild, I shall leave those people out of my consideration. I am dealing now -with civilized communities who do wear pockets, and who when they are fortunate have something in them. I was pointing out that the people who urge that arbitration should be voluntary, although it is a good thing, will object to have the same principle applied to other good things. Senator Fraser has presented me with a living illustration of that fact. Now, I think that abstinence from picking pockets should be voluntary, and with all decent people it is voluntary, but that does not prevent us from making a law to punish people who are so indecent that they will not refrain from the habit. I think that arbitration ought to be voluntary. With all decent, considerate people it is voluntary, and there are many instances of voluntary arbitration that has produced excellent results. But if it is a good principle, it breaks down just where it is most required.
– That is where the trouble begins.
– Because with decent, considerate people on both sides there is very seldom, if ever, any difficulty of a character such as I have referred to. It is the people who are not willing to listen to reason, the people who think that if they are strong enough to make a claim, that justifies them in making the claim.
– Why do not the English unions agree to compulsory arbitration?.
– The English unions agree with it more each day, or to be more strictly accurate, disagree with it less each clay.
– Can the honorable senator prove that ?
– Undoubtedly, but not at the moment. Any person who is acquainted with the literature of trades unionism in Great Britain knows that every year or thereabouts there is a Great British Parliament of trades unionists, and at eachcongress, as it is called, there is a larger minority, a nearer approach to a majority in favour of compulsory arbitration. I remember the time when at the Parliament of labour in Victoria - the Trades Hall Council - the question was discussed. It is only about seventeen years ago. And out of all the members of that council I was the only one who was in favour of the principle. When a division was taken I was the only one against all the rest. I forget how many voted against me; but I venture to say now that that body is unanimously in favour of compulsory arbitration. And I have no hesitation in saying that in the very near future the trades unionists of Great Britain will also be unanimously in favour of it. Even now it is not so much that they oppose arbitration, but that they have not confidence in the courts, and this lack of confidence has been accentuated very recently by a very arbitrary and harsh application of the law to trades unions in Great Britain. Honorable senators will remember the Taff Vale Injunction case. I do not propose at this juncture to discuss the action taken in that case, but it furnishes a reason why the trades unionists of Great Britain have not the same confidence in their legal tribunals, and are not in support of compulsory, arbitration to the same extent as the trades unionists of Australia, where, I am very proud to say, there is in every section of the community the most complete and profound confidence in our legal tribunals. I do not think that I need discuss this matter very much further, except to touch upon this point - and I feel sure it will be urged by Senator Fraser and others who think with him - that disputes between industrial powers, workmen, and employers, can, and ought to be, settled by public opinion. I know that that argument is continually used. I have no hesitation in saying, from an intimate knowledge of the working of industrial organizations, and from the circumstances surrounding industrial difficulties, that there is no adequate means available for properly educating public opinion. It follows, as a matter of course, that both sides to a dispute will in their own interests, and perhaps properly, conceal from the public gaze such facts as tell against their case, and exaggerate such facts as tell in favour of their case. Therefore the only means which the public have of arriving at an opinion is by a study of evidence presented by parties who are distinctly interested in deceiving them as to the exact facts of the case ; whereas a court clothed with authority to probe the causes of a dispute to the fullest extent, and to elicit every detail of information, would be capable of creating a public opinion. After all, in a community such as ours, so completely democratically governed, what is law but public opinion in the concrete - public opinion plus a policeman to give effect to it? That is what all law is. My honorable friend tells me that a man who picks a pocket is breaking the law, and therefore he should be properly punished, and it is right to make a law to punish him. If it is wrong to go to war in the public street, to injure all those immediately associated with the people at war, and to injure, in addition to them, all the community in connexion with it - if that is wrong, and I think that my friend will see that it is, then there ought to be a law to prevent it, as there is a law to prevent pocket-picking or to punish those who pick pockets.
– The honorable senator does not carry his argument quite far enough.
– If the honorable and learned senator would point out how much further I should carry it i shall adopt his suggestion. I suppose that he proposes to contend that this war does not occur in the public streets. I have never known a strike that was not felt not only in the public streets but everywhere. Its influence extends through the whole community. Take the maritime strike. Can any one who remembers that strike say that there was- a citizen in Australia who was not prejudicially affected by it? I do not think that anybody will say so. And yet public opinion was operating on that strike as vigorously as it could for many months before it was settled, and it was settled at a cost which it is quite impossible to calculate, but which I think is under-estimated at from one million to one million and a half. That was the cost of that great strike which unsettled industry, which prevented the wheels of progress from moving as they ought, which stopped the industrial machine from going round, and which caused untold misery to many thousands of the working people of this continent.
– What was the cause of the strike?
– I have tried, and I intend to try, to deal with this question, as far as I can, altogether apart from either individuals or parties.
– Will compulsory arbitration prevent such strikes?
– I know what was the cause of the strike not being settled at once, and that was that there was no law to compel these people to submit their dispute to a competent tribunal, and to abide by the result. I had the honour of sitting up all one night and trying to persuade one side to ask for a settlement of the dispute by mediation,, and ultimately I succeeded in getting them to adopt my advice. But the other side, hearing that they were strong enough to win without regard to the question of whether their cause was right, refused to submit to mediation, and determined to fight to the bitter end, as they did. I may tell Senator Dobson that that conflict began with a demand, on the part of one side, which was conceded by the other side) after a very long period of fighting. There is another point of immense importance in this speech. It is contained in the paragraph referring to the bounteous harvest which our farmers have har3, and the necessity of taking steps by bounties or otherwise to encourage and assist them to grow new products and find new markets. That is the cause which, I think, we ought to be , very pleased to promote by every means in our power. In conjunction with it, is mentioned a fact that is moving the British Empire now to very great intellectual excitement. That is the question of preferential trade within the Empire. Honorable senators know that the late Colonial Secretary is carrying on a campaign - an intellectual crusade - in Great Britain, with a view of inducing that erstwhile free-trade country to adopt a system of modified protection. In order that we may know and may understand in some measure what it is that is creating the remarkable success that is attending this movement.-
– Mr. Chamberlain’s party are losing seats every day !
– My honorable and learned friend is too well informed to think that that in any way indicates that this movement is not progressing. Remember that it is just starting. If Mr. Chamberlain’s party had been winning seats it would have been an evidence that the fight was over, and that Mr. Chamberlain had won in the cause he had undertaken to advocate. It would be remarkable if at this stage he had been winning seats in a country that has been for sixty years standing before the world, holding itself aloft, so to speak, and saying - “ Look at us ! We have thrown open the door to every nation upon earth ! Look at us ! We are not afraid to compete with anybody ! Free-trade is the policy we have adopted and under which we be lieve ourselves to be a nation that has been progressing.” If Mr. Chamberlain’s side had been winning, seats, it would have been an indication that the fight was over.
– Does not the honorable senator think that as Mr.Chamberlain’s side is not winning seats the fight is over?
– No, I do not. The honorable and learned senator knows that if the members of the present British Cabinet went, to the country to-morrow they would be beaten on the education question alone.- He knows that that is the issue that is being fought out now, and that Mr. Chamberlain’s campaign is merely in its infancy. It has not yet reached the stage that may be called the fighting stage. It is in the educational stage. But the fact that Mr. Chamberlain has been able in such a country as I have described to get, not hundreds, not thousands, but tens of thousands all over Great Britain to assemble in their numbers, and to applaud with immense enthusiasm what is to them an altogether new doctrine^-
– They applaud the fighter; British people love a fight.
– British people love a fight, so does the honorable and learned senator, and so do I. The British people are getting a fight in this connexion, and the issue is being fought hard on both sides. What I contend is that, considering all the circumstances, there has been a remarkable manifestation of approval of the scheme propounded by Mr. Chamberlain. In order that we may understand why that is so, it is only necessary briefly to review the history of Great Britain, and. of some of her immediate competitors of to-day. Honorable senators know that England was formerly a protectionist country.
– She is now the most prosperous country in the world.
– I am proud to think that that is so. But I venture also to say that England is not nearly so prosperous as she could be and ought to be. The fact is, however, that England was formerly a protectionist country. Not only was she a protectionist country, but she was the most protectionist country the world has ever known. She not only protected herself against industrial aggression from abroad by imposing duties on imports, but in order to keep in the raw material that was made up within her borders, she imposed duties on its export. Great Britain not only protected herself on land, but she protected herself as no other nation has ever done on the sea. She subsidized her mercantile marine. Great Britain was the first country that ever, with any degree of success, commenced a policy of colonization. She planted around this immense globe colonies to such an extent that it has since been said that the sun never sets upon the British Empire. Having established markets in her colonies she determined not to run the risk of losing them. Having subsidized a mercantile marine to an extent such as no other nation has ever done, Great Britain made an edict that the goods which her colonies required from any other part of the world should not be taken to them on other than British ships. .Having first of all created markets round the globe, to which streams of commerce would flow from other parts of the world, Great Britain then by legislation so protected her interests that these streams of commerce had to flow to the heart of the Empire.
– Great Britain suffered from a bad circulation, until she took the ligatures off.
– The honorable senator will no doubt make an admirable speech when I have done, but I trust he will permit me to pursue my argument in my own way. Great Britain, I say, created for herself a great heart through which all these avenues of commerce had to flow, and she excelled and exceeded, not merely any other nations, but all the rest of the world together in the extent, the variety, and the magnitude of her productions.
– No, that is a very great mistake.
– Well, I have made many mistakes in my time, and that is perhaps one of them.
– Senator Pulsford has a basketful of figures to prove the contrary.
– I have heard of the honorable senator and his figures before. They are very interesting and entertaining, and from his point of view very accurate. Sometimes they are very fallacious - not that they are incorrect, but that the honorable senator tries to prove something from them which they are never capable of proving. However, the point that I am dealing with now is the condition of Great Britain at the time she was protectionist. Remember that in 1798 England had reached such a stage of productive development that she exported ;£i 8,000,000 worth b 2 of her products. From that time to 1815, as honorable members will recollect, the fortunes of France were controlled by the great Napoleon, who, led by his warlike spirit and his overweening ambition, to use a colonial phrase, “bailed up “ the whole of Europe. Practically Great Britain during that period increased her exports from ^18,000,000 to ^42,000,000. And although in 181 5 the Napoleonic wars had ended in consequence of the incarceration of Napoleon, Europe was still prostrate as the result of those wars. Its industries were disintegrated and disorganized. But. England went on progressing until in 1845 she had increased her exports to ^134,000,000. In the following year England adopted what was called free-trade. I will say to my honorable friend, who believes that freetrade is the correct policy, that it is one of those correct things that it is impossible to obtain. It is not possible to obtain freetrade in the civilized world. All that you can have is free imports on the one hand and restricted exports on the other hand. So that free-trade per se, however desirable a thing it may be, is impossible in the existing spirit and temper of the nations, and, being impossible, it is not worth contending for. But what I was showing was that England had, in the language of Cobden, become, during her protectionist days, “ the workshop of the world.” That “is what England was at the time she was protectionist. A German economist, Frederick Liszt, writing of England at that time, said - “England is a world in itself, more powerful and wealthy than all the rest of the world put together.” Now, in 1851, the English people held an exhibition. So proud were they of themselves and of their extraordinary and marvellous industrial conquest, that they said to the -rest of the world - “Come and see what we have done.” The world came and saw and wondered. But its representatives went back and told the people of the countries whence ‘they came what they had seen, and what were the possibilities of a similar policy for themselves, with the result that no other nation did adopt such a policy as Great Britain had adopted. What was Germany at that time? She was one of the poorest nations in Europe ; a poor debtor country. In fact, not a nation, but, as some one has suggested, a number of petty principalities continually quarrelling among themselves. But in 1879 the great Bismarck - probably the greatest statesman the world has had at any time - certainly one of them - introduced a scheme of efficient and complete protection ; and since 1879 - since the adoption of that policy - Germany has ceased to be a poor debtor country, and has become a creditor country to the extent of £1,000,000,000. At the same time she has improved the condition of the people, and the wages of the workers have increased fourfold ; in addition to which Germany has borne a military burden that no other nation in the world has ever been called upon to carry, and has initiated and carried out a scheme of old-age and workmen’s pensions by means of which her work-people have obtained over £120,000,000 since 1885. From being dependent, as she was formerly, upon the mercantile marine of other nations of the world - principally Great Britain - and having no ships of her own, or practically none, Germany now has ships of her own which are amongst the largest and fastest oh the ocean. She has an export trade only second to that of Great Britain, whilst ‘at the same time she has captured entirely her own internal trade. What has happened in reference to America, another of Great Britain’s great and keen competitors ? The United States between 1812 and 1 861 was three times protectionist and three times free-trade, or semi-fr.ee-trade. But since 1861 she has been, practically, continuously and progressively protectionist. What has happened to her in that time ? She has paid off to the bond-holders of England over £900,000,000 ; she has increased in population as no other nation in the world has ever increased ; and she stands to-day as no other nation in the history of the world has stood, a great nation with practically no national debt. The people of England are looking on and witnessing these changes. A thing which struck me most forcibly when I was in England about six years ago was the appeals made on the advertising hoardings - “Buy from your own countrymen ; do not patronize the foreigner.” “Your own countrymen make goods as cheap and as good as the goods of the foreigner.” Appeals of this kind were met with in every corner, and they came from the business people ‘of England. The invasions of the foreigner had gone on to such an extent that if one were sitting on a omnibus riding from one part of London to another it was “odds on” that one had a foreigner sitting next to one and conversing in broken English. If one went into a counting-house it was “odds on” that the clerk who would attend to one was a young German, instead of a young Englishman. The people of England have been suffering under and complaining about this kind of thing for years, and yet they have been declaring that freetrade is the proper policy for any country to pursue. They have been saying, “We believe in free-trade.” But they have been saying it a little less emphatically lately.
– The honorable senator does not object to the Germans ?
– No ; but I like Britons better. If I have a predilection at all it is for my own countrymen. I am not saying that Britons are not sometimes stupid men, and they have been slumbering in regard to this question. But they are waking up now. Mr. Chamberlain is waking them up, and it is to their awakening that I attribute the fact that the movement which he has inaugurated is progressing in the way that it has done. Another point in the Governor-General’s speech to which I would refer, is the allusion to the question of old-age pensions. We are told that the Government believe that financial arrangements may be made for taking over the States’ debts, which may enable Federal legislation incorporating the principle of old-age pensions to be passed. If that can be done, it will not be done a minute too soon. The principle of old-age pensions has practically impregnated the whole .of the Australian people. In two of the States, laws more or less effective, have been created for the consummation of that ideal, and in the other States such laws will be passed in the very near future, if something is not done by the Federation. But with the best possible intentions and with the most complete desire to recognise our obligations to the ol’d people - to the men and women who came here in the early days, when there were no electric trams, no railways, no gas or electric light - but who came here and faced hardships, and subdued the wilderness - our present States laws do not go far enough. There are old people who have been so criminal as not to get rich ; and that, I know, is an offence in the eyes of some. But the great bulk of the people of this community, who have spent the best of their life’s energy in making the country so delightful to live in as it is to us, are people to whom we are under a debt. Although the States which have passed old-age pensions laws were compelled to make some provision against imposition, -as far as they, as States, were concerned, yet it is a fact that there is a time limit fixed during which the applicant for a pension must have resided within the State in which his claim is made. Now, it happens that some of the most industrious and adventurous and useful citizens of Australia were men who were led by their enterprise to seek new fields of industry. Consequently they flitted from point to point over this continent. But they were always Australians, and were always building up Australia, though they never remained long enough in any one of the States of the Commonwealth to become entitled to an old-age pension. Until a Federal law is passed, it will be quite impossible, adequately, to give consideration to these people who have rendered to the country most valuable service. Under present conditions, they are too often left to die of want, because they are old and poor. I want to refer to another matter which has given cause for some criticism. The Commonwealth Government, I am pleased to say, has sent a message from Australia to South Africa. For this I personally thank the Government, and I think the people of the Commonwealth ought also to feel grateful that such a step has been taken. To that message the Commonwealth Government have received a reply .which, so far as we know, amounts to “ Mind your own business.” Some of our citizens have congratulated themselves on the .fact that South Africa had the wisdom to send such a message; but I venture to express the opinion that when we sent the message we were “ minding our’ own business.” We have business in South Africa. We have vested interests in South Africa. We expended treasure and blood there. For what? I do not now propose to comment on the wisdom or unwisdom of our participation in the South African war. We did participate in it, and we sent there some of the flower of our manhood, whose blood now stains the plain’s of that country. We thought that we were doing this to improve the position of British people iri South Africa. Will the position of British people in South Africa be improved if aliens are to be allowed to carry on work which should be open to Britishers and Australians - open to the British people, of whom Australians form a part? Will our interests in British industries be conserved if these industries are invaded by a system of slavery from China? I think not, and, therefore, in my opinion, we ought to congratulate the Commonwealth Government on sending the message which they did to South Africa, and
I earnestly hope that that message will have full effect. The feeling which exists in Great Britain, South Africa, Australia, and, I believe, in Canada and throughout the Empire, is that the proposed system is baneful and iniquitous, and I believe that the expression of that feeling will have effect, and that we may hope even yet that this threatened invasion will not take place. In any case, I congratulate the Commonwealth Government upon sending the message, and, if need be, I should be glad if they would send another, impressing on our fellow countrymen in South Africa that their interests and ours are in this connexion identical - that we feel, in their interests, as well as in our own, that the warning we sent, dictated by our own experience, is one that should be received with consideration and respect. The paragraph in His Excellency’s speech which refers to the Federal Capital says, so far as I remember, that the question has been advanced by the discussions which have taken place, and that, its early settlement is a matter of great urgency, or something to that effect. I agree entirely with the latter portion of the sentence, namely, that the early settlement of the question is a matter of great urgency. I do not agree with a great deal of what has been stated in the press. My experience is that, except in the press, there is very little feeling against the establishment of the Federal Capital. It has been urged, in the press mainly, but the contention is altogether baseless, that it would be undue and unnecessary extravagance to establish a Federal Capital in the near future. My view, first of all, is that we must have a Federal Capital in the not very distant future. That is a matter of necessity, because it is quite intolerable that the great Parliament of Australia should be a tenant at will ; such a position is quite inconsistent with the dignity, safety, and proper government of the Commonwealth.
– And quite inconsistent with the Constitution.
– The Constitution on this point is elastic, and therefore the position may not be unconstitutional ; but I have no hesitation in declaring that the present circumstances are dangerous to the Constitution. The establishment of a Federal Capital would not be extravagance, but economy. At present we are pursuing an extremely extravagant course in continuing, if we do so unnecessarily - though I do not say that stage has been reached - the capital, or seat of government. where it is. I know that some Victorians will say that such an utterance is unpatriotic on my part; but I felt before I had the honour of being elected to this House, and I now feel, that the true patriot in this land of the Southern Cross is he who recognises first that he is an Australian, .and not merely a citizen of any State. What I urge is that we are pursuing an extravagant course in remaining where we are. Around the seat of government there grow institutions which must necessarily increase very greatly. At the same time public offices arise, and above all there are important national documents to be preserved. These documents accumulate with great rapidity, and it is all -important, if the history of the country ever has to be written - if reliable and complete sources of information for future legislation are always to be available - that those documents should at once be placed beyond the possibility of danger. Whatever has to be shifted from place to place is always in some jeopardy ; and from that point of view alone it is unwise and injudicious to continue longer than we must the present locale of .the Federal Parliament. In addition, we have to remember that public buildings are being set aside for our use. It is true that for some of these buildings we only pay rent, and have no obligation beyond the term of our contract. Honorable senators know, however, that such an occupancy must be ‘financially -disadvantageous, seeing- that such kind of tenure necessarily involves higher rent. There are other public buildings which have been erected entirely for our use, and whatever legal liability we may have, we are undoubtedly under an obligation in connexion therewith. On the other hand, we might fix the capital in some :new unsettled district. I may here say that at present I favour Bombala, though I do .not pretend to have sufficient information to give that as my definite and irrevocable decision. It would be unfair, if .not dishonest, for me to adopt such an attitude now. I must obtain further information before I finally decide. At present, however, my view is that Bombala is the most suitable site; and we may suppose that in that district we acquire 200 square miles.
– How does the honorable senator propose to acquire that area?
– I confess I do not know how, but I think it is possible to acquire such an area in a country so extremely good, with an excellent climate, and magnificent water supply. If 200 square, miles were acquired and surveyed at once into, suitable lots for comparatively close settlement by suitable applicants, to be approved, these might be granted possession, at once for five years for nothing, subject to the condition that they must live there and work and improve .the land. It would take probably .five years, or .thereabouts, to erect the necessary buildings for the Parliament and other departments, and by that time the district would have been so highlyimproved that a fair rental from those who had been in occupancy during the period I mention, would realize .a substantial revenue. I think it within the mark to say that the land would be worth at least 10s. per acre per annum; and will anybody contend that such a settlement would not be good for Australia, apart altogether from any considerations, in connexion with the Federal Parliament? A’ settlement of the kind would create decentralization, in an age when we are allcomplaining of centralization as one of the greatest evils. We should create another centre of population, with the additional advantage of another port; and all who know anything of commerce or the development of nations, are aware that those countries with the greatest number of accessible and safe ports occupy the strongest position. If this suggestion were carried out we should create a continuous and thrifty settlement, which would give a revenue of at least £60,000 per annum, that would go a long way to meet the interest on the cost of creating the Federal Capital. However, I have spoken already at undue length, although on matters in which I am deeply interested, and which I hope are of sufficient importance to justify the time I have occupied. I desire now to thank honorable members for the hearty and graceful manner in which they have received me, and for the close attention and great patience with which they have listened to what has been necessarily a somewhat dry and uninteresting address. I can assure honorable senators that I .am extremely proud to be a member of this august Chamber. While I cannot hope to add lustre to this body, I shall consider it my duty, as it will always be my pleasure, to endeavour to extend the great prestige it has already attained, and to. uphold by every means in my power the dignity with which it has clothed itself.
- Mr.. . President, I have the honour to second the motion proposed by Senator Trenwith, whom I claim, with some degree- of pride, to be, as I am, a Tasmanian. The honorable senator has- likened the address of His Excellency to a bill of fare, and I think the simile rather good. It is a bill of fare containing a large number of political viands, which I think we are somewhat prematurely discussing: It is rather like discussing the quality of the turkey by looking at the menu card. No doubt it is pleasant to be promised roast turkey, but when- the dish is produced we may find it seasoned to suit another palate, and thus rendered a little obnoxious to ourselves. However, I see many things in the address of His Excellency to which I can give my support. One of the first questions dealt with is that which has been so very well referred to by Senator Trenwith, the question of the States finances. He pointed out what all who have seriously considered the matter know full well, that the financial position of the States at the present time is somewhat serious. We have to look forward, possibly for some time, to a continuation of depression, while our responsibility with regard to the large indebtedness which has been heaped up by the States remains constant. Senator Trenwith has pointed out that this indebtedness involves sending something like ^16,000,000 per’ annum out of the States, though I think his figures are rather larger than the actual amount.
– I was speaking of private and public debts.
– At any rate, the figures are sufficiently large to justify our regarding’ them very seriously. At the same time, it has- been asked by way of interjection what, we should have done in the States but for the fact that we were able to borrow money for the purposes of developing our great resources; and it is also -asked why some of the responsibility should not be handed on to our children. We should not mortgage the whole assets of the- State, but we might leave our children to bear a small share of the. burden. Why should we give .up our magnificent railway system: - which, taken as a whole, practically pays, at any rate, in good times - without asking, our children and their children to bear some portion, of the original cost of construction. I earnestly hope that we may cease borrowing, or that, at any rate, our future borrowing will be largely decreased. I hope that . the Commonwealth Parliament or Commonwealth Government will,, so far as the Constitution allows, discourage borrowing by the individual States. Let us at once look the matter straight in the face, and acknowledge to ourselves tha-t if this great country is to progress or to have its resources developed, we shall have to do it with our own money. That of course will mean extra taxation of, I hope, . a direct character, in which we shall all have to bear a share. One of the first statements in His Excellency’s address, of which I strongly approve, is that a proposal will be submitted for a uniform system of old-age pensions throughout the Commonwealth. I have always supported old-age pensions as an institution which ought to mark every country professing Christian principles. It. has frequently pained men on visiting invalid institutions in Tasmania and elsewhere, to find people as good as you. or I, Mr. President - people, who: have lived good lives, and whose only fault often, has been that they have not been, able to earn enough to save ; people of education and refinement, whose position is the result of misfortune - compelled to consort with others whose position is entirely due to their own fault. We should try to discriminate and to put those who are respectable in a respectable position. While recognising the obligation to support and feed all who are unable to maintain themselves in their old age, we should enable poor old couples to live in comfort, and not separate them as they are separated in some of the States. We ought to provide a general scheme of old-age pensions for the. Commonwealth, but I shall support the measure, which I suppose ‘must come from another place, only on the condition that there is a specific tax to provide the necessary money. I have had some experience of. a not very pleasurable kind in regard to direct taxation. As possibly some, honorable senators are aware, Tasmania was placed in somewhat serious ‘difficulties owing to the changes caused by Federation, and the incidence of the Customs Tariff., which involved a loss of something like ^154,000 per annum. The Government of the State, in. order to straighten the finances., were forced to impose direct taxation, .and after exceeding difficulty they succeeded; but at the cost of their, billets. I am prepared to succeed again at the same cost in pursuance of a great principle. In every address to my constituents, I declared strongly in favour of old-age pensions. I told them that I shall insist on knowing what the pensions are to cost; because I am confident that when they have that information they will take care that the money is not’ misspent or squandered, but is devoted to the poor people who are entitled to support.
– Every one who is aged is entitled to a pension.
– I have admitted that principle, but I do not think that all poor people are entitled to a pension in the same degree. All are entitled to enough to support them, but some are entitled to a comfortable and respectable living. Of course, there are persons on whom we cannot confer respectability. I suppose that one of the most important matters referred to in the speech is that of preferential trade. It seems that even in Australia the same position exists as obtains in Great Britain, where the question has not got beyond the region of talk. Another extraordinary thing is that the vague relationship of the British Government to this vague proposal is reflected in the Commonwealth. We have no intimation of a definite proposal in the opening speech. We are going to wait, apparently, for something to turn up. I do not think that that is the way. in which responsible government should be conducted.
– We want Mr. Chamberlain to come here and turn it up for us.
– He is doing something like that at home. I wish to avow myself at once a protectionist a,nd a strong supporter of the principle of preferential trade. I do not believe in prohibition, but in common-sense protection. We should not attempt to develop artificially that which Nature has not designed us to produce. If the Tariff had differentiated between goods produced by British’ manufacturers and foreign goods, I think that the people of Australia would have found no fault with it. At any rate, if I had been here I should have supported discriminating duties. I ask honorable senators - Is it not a proper thing to encourage Australia to deal with its kith and kin in preference to other nationalities ? Do we not import an enormous quantity of goods from Europe and America, which are procurable in Great Britain ? And is it unreasonable that we should be asked to give a moderate preference to our own people. That seems to me to be what we are asked to do. What we are promised in return so far as any definite statement has yet appeared, is that some preference shall be shown to our exports in the shape of food products and raw materials over those from other countries. I dare say that many honorable senators are better acquainted than I am with the diversion of British trade which has taken place under free-trade, especially during the last fifteen or twenty years. I have been coming to Melbourne occasionally for some twenty or twenty-five years as a merchant in a small way to purchase necessary supplies in Flinders-lane. Some fifteen or twenty years ago, if I went into a softgoods warehouse, I would find only an occasional piece of American calico or American ticking; but on returning to business after a few years’ retirement, what do I find now ? I go down into a department which once was sacred to goods from Manchester, and see a piece of stuff which has been imported from London, ticketed “ Made in Belgium “ or “ Made in Holland.”
– England makes more now than it ever did.
– I am not disputing that statement. The question is whether England makes, as much as she ought to make ?
– She used to make everything.
– For a much smaller world.
– I am speaking of a class of goods of which I know a little. At one time it was very exceptional indeed! to find in a Manchester department an article which had not come from Manchester, or from some part of England associated witta Manchester. But now you find a great deal of your Manchester goods labelled “Made in Belgium,” or Germany, or Holland. You find your West of England tweeds made in Germany- English calicoes as sold in the retail shops, not only here, . but elsewhere, often come from America. What is unreasonable in our being asked! to give such a little preference as might divert the trade’ of Australia in many of these articles back to the old country ? It seems to me that there is nothing unreasonable, or even arguable, about this proposal. The way in which it should be done is another matter. The question constantly asked on our side of the water has been - How are you going to give this preference? The free-traders replied - “Oh, reduce the duties on British goods,” while the protectionist would advocate an increase of the duties on foreign goods. I think we should use our discretion, and do both according to circumstances. For example, I shall refer to one class of goods on which a low rate is levied - that is cotton piece goods. I have not been able to get the exact figures, but I find that we imported during 1902 approximately about £2,250,000 worth, which came in under a 5 per cent. duty.
– But that is not a x protective duty-
– I am aware that it is not; my argument is that we cannot afford to reduce that duty. It was imposed, I assume, for the purpose of raising revenue ; and I believe that the people would not have suffered very much if a higher duty had been imposed. If you wish to give a preference in that line to Great Britain your proper, plan, I think, would be to increase the duty on foreign-made articles. On the other hand, where you have imposed an excessive duty on, say, men’s hats, you can exercise your discretion in the other way. If a customer wishes to wear an Italian fur hat let him pay the 35 per cent, duty, or what ever it happens to be. We know that the cost of importing such articles is very high, but if people will prefer to wear them let them pay for them; but give them an in’ducement to wear an English hat. I should strongly recommend, if the matter ever came before- the Senate in a definite shape, that we should in such cases reduce- the duty. The underlying principle of preferential trade is protection.
– That is true.
– It is protection for the Empire as distinct from protection merely for the Commonwealth. It means an inducement to British people to consume British - manufactured goods. The first instalment of this principle was adopted by the British Parliament when the Merchandise Marks Act was passed. Under the provisions of that Act the people of Great Britain were invited,1 not directly, but indirectly, to purchase the goods of their fellow-countrymen. It is a reasonable and proper invitation to give,’ and it is one which we might accept iri a national spirit. I am very glad that there is no indication that the fiscal question is to be re-opened. I am strongly of the opinion that, if there is one question more than another on which we ought to have a fixed policy, it is the fiscal question. If the free-trade party had succeeded in establishing freetrade, or something like free-trade, I say, candidly, that I should not have tried to get the Tariff altered. It is a most mischievous thing to tinker with the Tariff. I do not claim for a moment, that it is perfect, because I think that a very1 much better and simpler one could have been devised, but it has been passed, and its provisions are beginning to be understood. Then we have a reference to the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau, and the speedier and cheaper transportation of meat, butter, and fruit to large centres of population. I represent a State which is largely agricultural and horticultural, and, naturally, I agree very strongly with that paragraph. I think that we all ought to be pleased that the Government have announced their intention to do something to encourage immigration. In Tasmania we are doing our best to increase the population, and we are succeeding in our efforts. But, undoubtedly, we feel the need of fresh blood as badly as any part of the Commonwealth. I came to Tasmania as an immigrant, with my father and mother, a great many years ago. My earliest recollections are associated with the arrival of immigrants from the .old country - splendid people, who were very largely, assisted by their own friends, under ‘ the bounty system, and . who became excellent colonists. I remember- that a great many other persons came out at that time, because there was work for them to do when they arrived. In a great many cases they came out under engagement, but, in our wisdom, we have passed an Act which does riot allow a man to come in under contract. That legislation has, I think, been proved to be a very grave mistake. I believe it was copied from the statute-book of the United States. . I think that we should pause before we copy any United States law, because our circumstances are not on all-fours with .those of that country. The people of the United States are a sovereign nation. We are not a sovereign nation. We may be, and, I hope, will be a sovereign, nation, but we are not yet. America, as a sovereign power have a national right to say to people,. “ you shall not come in here under contractto work.” I do not know why it was necessary for America to adopt that law. It did not, however, make the same difference to that country as it does to the Commonwealth. She is only 3,000 miles from Europe, whereas we are 13,000 miles, and if she chooses to select her immigrants-
– Why should’ we not select ours too?
– Did not the Royal Commission in England recommend the adoption of the Australian law so far as England was concerned ?
-r-Even an Irishman .cannot answer .several questions at once. We have decreed that men coming into the Commonwealth under contract to work shall not be allowed to land. If the late Prime Minister had blocked the six hatters from coming in, as he should have done in order to carry out the law - though I admit that he had a discretion - we should have very soon awakened to the fact that we had made a most important mistake, and the probability is that that Act would have been amended.
– Those men came in under the law.
– Yes, because the law gave to one man a discretion which no one man should be .left to exercise. No Minister should be able to say to a person coming ashore to work for an employer, especially to a fellow-countryman - “ Go back, we shall not take waa.”
– They do not say that ; they say - “ Come in free and as many as you like.”
– How many men will be able to come in free when they have 13,000 miles of water to cross? How many men will bring their families to these shores unless they are sure of getting work here? If you want to keep up the standard of wages and living, by all means do so by. association, and as far as legal enactment will enable it to be done, but do not keep out in this indirect way people whom we want here very badly.
– Can the honorable senator cite the case of one man who has been kept out?
– How can I do that? The fact that the six hatters were “bailed up” has no doubt hindered men from getting persons to come put.
Senator -Dawson. - Over 20,000 persons have come since without challenge.
– By all means, let’ them come in. It is our desire to encourage them to come, but I ask Senator Dawson whether, if he were in the old country, he would not be more likely to come to Australia, and bring his family, if he were sure of getting employment here?
– I should not come here with .my heels hobbled.
– There are many people without their heels hobbled, and many people who have no boots to wear who would make good colonists. There are many men, of my acquaintance, who are splendid colonists to-day who came to the Australian colonies practically without a boot for their feet.
– Such persons are welcome to come.
– Let them comeSo long as they are honest, muscular people* we want them. ‘We have here an immensecontinent with only 4,000,000 inhabitants, and yet we are enacting legislation to keep out our own countrymen.
– Only those under contract.
– I am aware, of that, but that is what I object to.
– That is the sort of quibble that keeps them out.
– The honorablesenator wants to bring in “ scabs “ and “ blacklegs.”
– Order !
– I do not think. Senator de Largie is justified in putting that interpretation upon my remarks. I have, in- my time, brought men out from home, paid’ their passages, and engaged them under standard wages. I am not such a large employer of labour to-day as I was at one time, but I have brought men out under those conditions, and why should I not? What is the objection to it? They have; come out as I have said - I have established1, that - to work for the standard rate ofwages, and what right has any one to stopthem?
– We never should’ have stopped them if the system had worked* in that way in the past. But it has not worked in that way, and they have come out to work for lower than the standard* wages.
– First of all, the six hatters were not stopped, and then they were stopped.
– They were . stopped” until they complied with the Act.
– .They were stopped until the .Prime .Minister saw that public- feeling was against him, and then they were admitted upon, a hollow pretext, as we all .know.
– When they complied with the law.
– I thought that the matter of the- .six hatters was dead by this, time.
– The honorable senator believes in free-trade in contract labour.
– I do not believe in free-trade in labour or in anything else. I do not believe in unrestricted competition.
– Why not “ encourage the colonial article? There are any number of men walking about the streets unemployed.
– We are encouraging the local workman. I come now to the question of conciliation and arbitration, and here, again, we have rather a delicate subject. I have given my pledge to support a measure of conciliation and arbitration, and a compulsory one, too, when brought before the Senate under the Constitution under which we are working. Under the Constitution, as Senator Trenwith has stated, we are empowered to make enactments, for the prevention, of or the settlement of industrial disputes which assume a national magnitude. The language of the Constitution in that section has been very carefully chosen. I am not a lawyer, but perhaps some of my honorable friends who are lawyers will bear me out in the opinion that by that section we are very carefully excluded from meddling with compulsory arbitration in the States. But if we are to do what it appears to me it is obligatory upon us to do at some time or another, inasmuch as this is one of the thirty-nine articles, and it is therefore contemplated that we shall legislate on the subject in due course, a rather interesting question at once arises. There is a great deal of feeling in all the States as to whether we should include State employes under the provisions of the Act it is proposed to pass. A very nice point has presented itself to my mind, and I commend it to honorable senators who are- constitutional authorities, and who give time to the study of constitutional matters. It seems to me doubful whether we have any right to specifically exclude any class from the benefits of our legislation.
– Hear, hear. So long as they are engaged in an industrial occupation.
– The question is what is an industrial occupation ? The Constitution is silent upon the point ; and therefore I take it that we are at liberty to put the widest possible interpretation upon it. Can we, in legislating here, specifically exclude employes of the Railway Departments of the States ? . For instance, a dispute of a serious character may easily extend to the employes of neighbouring States such as Victoria and New South Wales.
– There will be a’ nice row if -we do not exclude them.
– I am not giving an opinion at the present time as to whether we should or should not exclude them.’ It seems to me that we shall land the States in somewhat serious difficulties if we include them, but I think it is a doubtful point whether we have any constitutional right to legislate for a section only of the people. If the railway employes and the civil servants of a State constitute themselves into societies and organizations, and fraternise with similar organizations in other States, it is- very doubtful whether we have the right to say to these people - “ We shall legislate to provide for the settlements of large disputes amongst private persons, but you shall not be allowed to take advantage of that legislation.” We shall hear more of this question, inasmuch as I understand the Bill is in print, and probably will be shortly before us. Another question which I think must be handled very carefully is that relating to navigation and shipping. I have not yet seen the Bill, and I do not know what is proposed with regard to the coasting trade, but it may become a rather serious matter to a State like Tasmania, which is a small island, and which depends for its communication upon - the boats running between Hobart and Launceston and the mainland. If we are not to be allowed the use of British boats* such as the P. and O. and Orient boats, or other boats coming from outside, in carrying produce from Hobart, Launceston, and the North-West Coast to Melbourne and Sydney, it seems to me that serious injury may be done to Tasmania. We are developing a large and important trade by means of these British boats. We must be very watchful of that trade. There are indications that it is going to be very much larger in the future. As the trade expands and our production increases, prices will go down, and we shall require to watch the economies of the business, and to see that we agree to no legislation which may place us in the position of having an article upon our hands for which we can find no market. This means a very great deal to Tasmania. Her. export of fruit has grown marvellously in the last few years. It is extending every year, and this year we will send to the home markets half-a-million cases of fruit.
– The Navigation Act will not interfere with that.
– If it interferes with boat’s calling at Launceston or Hobart it will interfere with it.
– How will it interfere ?
– It may or may not.’ I have not yet seen the Bill. I am speaking in the light of what I have read upon the subject, and it seems to be that there might possibly be some trouble. The matter is one to which I am sure honorable senators will give serious attention. I hope that honorable senators of the Labour Party will allow me to differ from them once again, as I see that the question of the mail contract is under consideration. I think that no member of the Ministry, and possibly very few members of the Senate, are in a ‘ better position than the PostmasterGeneral to judge of the difficulties which may be raised for commercial men and the public generally if we do not have a regular, frequent, and punctual mail service. I do not know what project the Postmaster-General has in view, but I frankly say that I do not agree with the idea of excluding coloured men from the stokeholds of mail vessels. I am strongly in favour of a white Australia, in so far as it means that we shall prevent Japanese, Chinese, and undesirable races generally from living with us. The justification for that policy in my eyes is the desire we have to preserve the purity of the’ race. We are taking up a large contract when we say that no one .having a coloured skin shall live in Australia ; but when we go further and say that he shall not live in Australia or any where else, so far as we are concerned, we are taking a little too much upon ourselves.
– We do not say that.
– We say that we shall not allow British ships to come here with British subjects on board.
– We never said anything of the kind.
– We say that we shall not allow them to carry mails.
– No; we shall not subsidize steamers on which coloured labour is employed for the carriage of mails.
– That amounts to the same thing. There are different ways of choking a dog - if I may be permitted to use a common simile.
– We are only saying what Germany and America have said.
– And America ! America again.
– You are an admirer of Germany, are you not ?
– I am not a great admirer of Germany. Coming to another matter, I find that, as part of the scheme for encouraging industries amongst us, one of the most important measures proposed is that for the encouragement of the. iron industry. This is a matter of peculiar importance to Tasmania, because I believe we have there the best iron mine in the States. ‘
– No; we have it in Queensland.
– We have there from 24,000,000 tons to 25,000,000 tons of iron ore within ten miles of a port.
– We have 50,000,000 tons in one mine in Queensland.
– I am glad to hear it. The development of an industry of this kind is a most important matter, and I am sure that when this Bill comes before us it will receive fair consideration. I do not know whether honorable senators have ever taken the trouble to look at any of the figures in connexion with this matter. I find that in the last five years, in rough iron, the first products of iron smelters and mills - pig iron, bar and rod iron, plate and’ sheet iron, and steel rails - we have made importations to the value of £6,000,000, and taking all iron manufactures, we have imported to the value of £11,750,000 in the same time. In addition, we have imported machinery of a total value of £8,750,000. We can easily imagine, though we cannot calculate it to a nicety,, the enormous amount of employment which the production and manufacture of even the pig, rod, bar, plate, and sheet iron and rails would give to the citizens of the Commonwealth. I hope we shall see that production brought about in our time; but whether it is to be brought about by increased duties or bonuses, or a combination of both, remains to be seen. The matter is one which every honorable member, be he free-trader or protectionist, will fairly consider. I should like to say a word or two about the Federal Capital if I am not trespassing too much on the patience of honorable senators. It seems to me that there is a common-sense aspect of the. question. A number of people in Tasmania are very much afraid that the immediate selection of a capital site will at once result in a tremendous and extravagant expenditure of money. I see no occasion for that at all. It seems to me to be but common sense that if we are entitled- to get 100 square miles of territory for nothing in the best part of New South Wales, the sooner we take it the better. That should go without saying. There is an obligation upon us - and I think it is one of the blots of the Constitution, much greater than the Braddon blot, inasmuch’ as it hands down for all time an evidence of provincialism and parochialism - that the site of the capital of the Commonwealth shall be in New South Wales; and there is an obligation upon the New South Wales Government to give us 100 square miles of territory for the purpose.
– Only if it is Crown land.
– We are entitled to 100 square miles, and if we are not altogether .fools we shall take it while we have widest choice. We should make the selection with a view of suiting, not a particular State, but the whole of the States. We should select a site which will be convenient, and I hope it will be a site which will be suitable, not merely as a centre of politics, as a place of residence for the Governor-General, Ministers, and officers of the Commonwealth, but also as a centre of industrial activity and commerce.
– That is Tumut.
– I am not going to say where the Federal Capital should be located. A first consideration must be that it shall be easy of access. It should be surrounded by a good producing country, and it must not be too far away from the sea. Like the honorable senator who preceded me, I have a perfectly open mind upon this question ; but I think we should, so far as is practicable, choose a territory in which another large city can with advantage be built.
– If we can find such a place.
– With the experience gained even in Tasmania we can look upon this matter as business men, and we need not borrow a solitary pound to expend upon the capital. Whether we adopt a system of perpetual leasing, or whether we sell the land - and I hope we shall not do so - we know from our experience that property is enormously enhanced in value by settlement. An instance of this occurred on the west coast of Tasmania, which honorable senators will pardon me for mentioning. Only seven years ago, at a little place on the west coast of Tasmania, the fee-simple of land could be obtained for £i per acre. The Mount
Lyell Company and the Government agreed that this would be a good site for a town, and it was selected as the site of the small town of Queenstown, with the result that land which a few weeks before could have been procured at £i per acre became enhanced in value until it realized £2,000 per ‘ acre. That is what occurred at a small and possibly temporary mining township, anc what is likely to- happen in the case of a town’ which will become the seat of government and the capital of the Commonwealth ? There will, undoubtedly, be an enormous enhancement in the value of the land. People will be anxious to secure corner blocks. If we are wise, we shall first select the capital site, have it surveyed, and make proper provision for public institutions, railway station, parks, reserves, and things of that kind, and then, whether by a system of perpetual leasing with recurring assessments of rental, or by sale, we can proceed to realize upon the property, but not too rapidly. We should let it grow, and should not attempt to build a city in one day. We should remember the adage that “ Rome was not Built in a day.”
– There must be no jerry-building.
– Certainly not. and I hope we shall not borrow money for the purpose of building the capital.
– The capital will not grow until we erect the Government offices. Where are we to get the money for them ?
– That is one of the difficulties which will probably face the honorable senator ; but I am not -called upon to deal with it just now.
– The honorable senator has said it will cost nothing, and I do not see how we are to put up these buildings until we know where the money is to come from.
– I thank honorable senators for the kindly reception they have given me, and, judging by their interjections, for the evident attention with which they have followed some of my remarks, I should like, before concluding, to make my position clear. I have been accorded the honour of being asked to second the Address in Reply, and the seconder of the Address in Reply is usually considered to have associated himself with the Government, and to be a supporter of the Government. I have come into the Senate as a purely independent member. I have an idea thatparty politics should be relegated to another atmosphere. Whatever virtues they have, there is plenty of scope for their exhibition elsewhere. It seems to me that a member of the Senate, at any rate, ought not to ally himself with any party, but should be prepared to deal with measures on their merits. That is what I have promised to my constituents, and what I intend to do. I am with the Ministry in their fiscal policy. They are protectionists, and I am a protectionist. But in other matters I reserve to myself the right to deal independently with measures introduced by the Government, and I will, as I am sure all other honorable senators will do, exercise the best intelligence which has been given to me for the good of the Commonwealth first and of the State which I represent afterwards. There in a final paragraph of the speech which the Governor-General read to us yesterday which refers to his hope that our deliberations may be blessed with Divine guidance. I know that that is a matter which is not at all contentious. I trust that that is what will follow from the prayer of His Excellency. and that our deliberations will result in legislation for the benefit of the whole of Australia - “Each for all and all for each.”
-Col. NEILD (New South Wales). - I think that the Senate is to be congratulated on the accession to our member-‘ ship of the two honorable senators who have just addressed themselves to the motion before the Chair.- In saying that I do not overlook the fact that the honorable senator who moved the motion dealt with some questions_ which seemed to me to be more questions of State than of Federal politics. I do not think, for instance, that we shall find, for some little time to come, that the question of water conservation- in respect to which I beg to express entire agreement with the honorable senator’s views - will be one with which this Senate or the Federal Parliament will have any right of interference. The honorable senator also indulged in a mild jeremiad on the subject of State- indebtedness. I suppose that we all deplore the extent of the indebtedness; of the States, and even of the private indebtedness that exists in the Commonwealth. But that, again, is a question, which, though important, is not yet within the range of Federal politics ; though I freely admit my honorable friend’s justification for mentioning it, in view of the third and fourth paragraphs of the Governor-General’s address. At the same time I would point out that all that the third paragraph of the speech indicates is that the recent Conference of States Treasurers has shown that there is a better understanding of the difficulties surrounding these subjects. I say without hesitation that even if another meeting of Ministers from the different States takes place, however important it may be, the result unquestionably will not be an agreement with reference to taking over the indebtedness of the States by the Commonwealth. Most undoubtedly some of the States will entirely repudiate any desire to augment the powers of the Commonwealth in view of the legislation, which has been enacted and the absence of legislation on other subjects. I do not think we shall do very much more than beat the air by discussing the question of taking over the States debts at this stage. Then there is a paragraph to which importance has been attached with reference to a Federal system of old-age pensions as a possible outcome of the taking over of the States indebtedness. I hope that a system of Commonwealth old-age pensions will be established quite irrespective of the transfer of States debts. I trust that the Commonwealth will insist upon such a scheme being inaugurated on its own merits. The Senate last session unanimously passed a motion which I had the honour to move in favour of the principle of old-age pensions, and requesting the Government to take the necessary steps to initiate a Federal system. I do not know what the present Prime Minister is doing, or whether he is doing anything, but I am perfectly certain that I am justified in stating that the late Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, informed me emphatically that it was his intention forthwith to give effect to the- second part of the resolution of this Chamber, and to communicate with the. Premiers of the various States with a view to bringing about the establishment of a system of oldage pensions on a Commonwealth basis. I shall not take up time by pointing out the reason why two-thirds of the people of the Commonwealth ‘ at present have old-age pensions; whilst the other- third are denied them. That is- the state of things that now exists ; but, as has been, pointed, out, particularly by Senator Mulcahy,- the systems, prevailing at present in New South Wales and Victoria, however advantageous they may be to some, persons, are manifestly unfair and unsatisfactory to the many stalwart workers - or- workers who were once stalwart, and energetic colonists - who- are now unable, by reason of their having moved from one place to another in the course of their lives, to enjoy the benefits which are enjoyed by others who have been to a greater extent stayers at home. These latter persons have not done nearly so much to open up the vast continent of Australia as has been done by those who have moved across the borders from State to State in pursuance of their energetic ambitions, but who by so doing have been deprived of the grants that are now macle to those who stayed at home. I need not go through many of the interesting arguments which have been addressed to the Senate with reference to land taxation and State banking ; although I would ask my honorable friend, Senator Trenwith, where he finds anything about banking in the GovernorGeneral’s speech?- I cannot find a reference to it, and I do not think that my honorable friend the Vice-President of the Executive Council can find one either. But this is .a detail, or, as Kipling says, “ another story.” My .honorable ‘friend Senator Mulcahy advocated protection in the name of preferential trade. Now sir, although I am a free-trader, I am not a bigoted one. I do not deny the possibility of my being convinced as to the erroneousness of. the views to which I hold, although I do not think it is likely that I shall be convinced. Still, I am willing to be convinced. But, after what I heard my honorable friend say, I have come to this conclusion - that in respect to preferential trade, I have not to be convinced, but have simply to change the coat which I have worn all my life and become a protectionist. If that is, as my honorable friend says, the actual underlying principle of the policy of preferential ‘trade, 1 am afraid that there is no chance in the few years that I have to live of my devoting myself to the study of a question which is only a wolf in sheep’s clothing - protection in the name of preferential trade.
– - Imperial protection - that is Wha”t it is.
-Col. NEILD. - And perhaps something more. The first question in this, monumental governatorial address - which is the longest I have ever seen-
– Oh, no.
.- If any Government ever produced any- more than twenty-seven paragraphs in a Governor’s speech, it ought to be ashamed of itself.
– I have seen one four times as long.
.- If this speech is only one-fourth the length of some of the speeches my honorable friend has seen all I can say is he will have to travel a Jong way to see a longer one than this is. Other Governors’ speeches may have seemed longer through the print occupying more space, but so far as concerns the number of topics dealt with I think this one challenges competition. The first paragraph tells us something which I think we were told in the vice-regal speech at the close of the last Parliament - that the drought is over. We all knew that. I will not take up time in discussing ancient history.
– It is, especially over in Sydney.
– It has been very much over in Sydney. Indeed, the rain that has fallen there has been so plentiful that it has done harm by interfering seriously with harvesting operations, and has unfortunately destroyed a very largo proportion of the crops. Therefore I do not exactly see why we should congratulate ourselves about the rain that has fallen since we were here last.
– Most of the f aimers have larger crops than they usually have, notwithstanding the rain.
.- That is a proposition that might very well be applied in opposition to my honorable friend’s argument with, reference to the trade of Great Britain. With respect to the second paragraph of the address, dealing with the existing war, and the hope that neutrality will be maintained. I think I may as well refer at this juncture to paragraph 17, which alludes to the proclamation of the Defence Act, and the establishment of a system of defence on lines of effective organization. While the Act is all right the Government insist upon issuing regulations which are all wrong. They have recently issued regulations which have done serious injury to the Defence Forces. A most extraordinary statement has been made by the Minister of Defence. It was published in the press the other day, and I feel it to be my duty to say something about it I will quote the’ words of the Minister. He says : -
The Federal Forces are ready for any emergency.
The honorable gentleman either knows nothing about the condition of the Defence Department over which he is supposed to preside, or he has grossly misstated the case connected with Australian defence. What we hope and have a right to hope is that neutrality may be preserved, and that neither Great Britain nor Australia may be involved directly in the war in the East. We know that it is possible at almost any moment for the British Empire to be drawn into the struggle. That must be admitted to be the case in face of the fact that Russian war ships are frequently “bailing up!’ British craft on the high seas in parts of the world thousands of miles from the seat of war. It is no use our pretending that everything is right in the matter of defence, when exactly the reverse is the fact. It is not right that Australia should be paying £500,000 per annum for Defence Forces which exist very much more on paper, and in regulations and memoranda than on the parade ground, and that would not be available if war broke out. If we are to have a defence force, let us have a good one. Who would tolerate any one of the States maintaining an entirely inefficient police force which could not capture a criminal or maintain any decent show of order ? But this is the condition of affairs in connexion with the Defence Forces. The Minister goes on to say that if war does break out he proposes to raise the strength of the rifle clubs from 26,000 to 50,000 members. As a matter of fact, there are not enough rifles to supply the peace establishment of the Active Forces, let alone the rifle clubs. The peace establishment of a regiment of infantry under the existing system is 500 men, while 800 men form the war establishment ; and, as I say, there are not enough rifles for the 500 men. I have it on the best authority that in South Australia, which is called the “model State,” there are no less than three varieties of rifles distributed amongst the small number of troops there. T have here an abstract of the Memorandum issued by the Imperial Colonial Defence Committee regarding the defences of the Colonies, dated 21st December, 1896. I shall not read the document, but shall be happy to show it to any honorable senator who desires to see it. It is not a secret document, seeing that it has been published in the Government Gazette of New South Wales ; and it makes a series of recommendations which it is desirable should be carried out in the Colonies. For instance, one clause reads that all the troops in a colony ought to have arms of the same calibre; another recommendation is that troops in colonies which may have to act together ought to have arms of the same calibre, and that arms ought to be provided for 50 per cent, over the estab- lishment and reserves. These are deliberate recommendations by the highest naval and military authorities of the Empire who were called together to advise on colonial defences. Instead of having arms for 50 per cent, over the establishment and reserves, which include rifle clubs, there are not enough rifles to supply the peace establishment. We are spending £500,000 per annum and “ spoiling the ship for ‘ a ha’orth of tar. What is the use of the Minister for Defence talking of raising the membership of the clubs to 50,000 members when the existing clubs are not supplied with ranges?’ 1 have here a letter which I shall read, because it deals with what I deem to be an essentially important matter. In order to impress the importance of this point on honorable senators, I direct attention to the fact that the last Liberal Government which existed in England was hurled from office for the simple reason that they did not provide sufficient cordite ammunition. On what is apparently so small a point the Government . were defeated ; and if that can occur in regard to one form of ammunition - not ammunition generally - what of the Commonwealth Defence Forces which j have been in the hands of the present Administration , for three years this month, and the intolerable deficiencies of which are shown on page after page of the report, by the Major - General Commanding, who is the military expert imported specially to advise on the subject of Commonwealth Defences? The letter I have named refers to the condition of affairs in New South Wales, and I have no doubt that similar conditions prevail in other States. The letter is from a responsible person, and deals with the condition of the Defence Forces in the town of Singleton, which is an important centre in the great Hunter Valley. It is as follows : -
There is now in this town, and has been for some years, a company of Volunteer Infantry, a half -squadron of Lancers, and a Civilian Rifle Club, now “ Reservists,” also the Northern Rifle Association, which has its head-quarters here. For the past three and a half years neither the Volunteers, Lancers, nor Reservists have gene through their annual course of musketry because the Government have failed to provide a range, the old range being practically closed as far as the military authorities were concerned, for the past four and a half years. Land for the proposed range at “ Combo,” Singleton, has been resumed for some three years past, and on two different occasions tenders have been called for the work of building targets, but owing to the prices being too high tenders were npt accepted. .
The letter goes on to say that objections have been raised on various grounds, and that nothing appears to have been done, and then proceeds -
At the present the different companies stand in the position of being disbanded owing to the lack of interest taken in military matters, owing to the unsatisfactory way in which the clubs have been treated, and, seeing this town supplied a very large number of staunch men for the South African war, we feel very sorely treated in return by the military authorities. This club has now made the third application to be allowed to erect, for practice purposes, one or two targets at our own expense on new range until such times as the Department are enabled to complete the number of targets for the Northern Rifle Association to hold its meetings.
The two previous applications have been totally ignored, and yet the forces here are expected to make themselves proficient in the use of the rifle.
I am also in a position to say that in the town of Parkes the people have been agitating for a rifle club and a range for two years past, but, to use a colloquial expression, they have “no show” of getting either. As a matter of fact, the communications of the townspeople on the subject have received no answer from the Department presided over by a Minister who is prepared to increase the membership of the rifle clubs from 26,000 to 50,000. The letter discloses what, in my opinion, is an intolerable state of affairs. The Minister for Defence has told us that the Commonwealth forces are ready for any emergency. What are the facts? The forces have undergone a complete change, which was called reorganization, but which in many cases was disorganization. I speak of New South Wales, of which I necessarily know more than I do of the other States, and I find that there it is apparently impossible to obtain the number of men required to make up the peace establishment. I am speaking of the mounted men necessary to make up the number, which, according to the published scheme, are required in the vicinity of Sydney. The lancer regiment of New South Wales has achieved a reputation second to no cavalry regiment in the whole of the colonial forces. It is a regiment which has practically become historical, but which has now been split up into two regiments. Colonel Burns, than whom no man in Australia has put his hand more deeply into his own pocket to advantage his regiment, is one of the first and most widely known citizens of Australia, _ and _ he has given up the command of this regiment in disgust. The lancer regiment now forms, more or less, part of two new regiments ; but I undertake to say that if this Chamber caused an inquiry to be made it would be found that these two regiments were greatly below strength. I have taken the trouble to go, with some care, through the published Army List of New South Wales, and to examine the number of vacancies in the light of recent appointments and resignations, the latter of which are fairly numerous. The new establishments require a great many more officers than the old establishments, seeing that companies have been reduced in size, and where there were formerly three officers to a company of 100 men, there ought to be now six officers to two companies totalling 120 men. But, even under the old system, I find that there is a shortage of officers in New South Wales amounting to about ninety.- It is all very well to say that the membership of the rifle clubs may be increased ; but where are the officers? What knowledge have the officers of the rifle clubs of any duty beyond that of shooting or superintending at the range ? Are the captains, presidents, or presiding officers of these rifle clubs competent to lead the men into action ? Have they any experience of giving orders, or even receiving orders? To establish a great body of club members without rifles, and without officers, is a proposal which one scarcely has the patience to discuss. I could give, if necessary, the number of officers missing in the different regiments of horse and foot. So far as I can make out there is a shortage of about ninety under _ the old system, and I should think that probably under the new system the shortage is 120. If the number should be less I shall be very, happy to learn of ray error, but I think I am quite right in what I say. We saw the other day that in Tasmania one rifleman turned up to meet the General Officer Commanding on parade, although the Minister of Defence also was there. In the face of that fact the Minister says that the Federal Forces are ready for any emergency. One rifleman to defend Tasmania ! That is the Minister’s idea of the Federal forces being in readiness for any emergency. All those who did not turn up were promised dismissal. I am not very well acquainted with the law that did exist in Tasmania when this event happened, but I doubt very much whether it admitted of the wholesale discharge of men because they did not turn out at a single parade. I think that a larger dereliction of duty than that would be required to justify the wholesale dismissal of a large number of citizens who have been giving their time to the best of their ability to the defence .of their country. T.hat this was not a solitary case in .Tasmania is shown by the fact that two days later, notwithstanding the threat of dismissal, a guard of honour could not be got to receive the Governor on some public occasion. Something of the same kind, though not so bad, happened some time ago in New South Wales, where a large number of men in a company of militia threatened to lay down their arms on parade because of the way in which they were being treated. I do not wish to magnify these things, but it is the duty of a public man, who knows of their existence, to tell the truth, because we are not to live in a fool’s paradise created by Ministerial utterances that are so woefully inaccurate. At the parade held on King’s Birthday in Sydney, an event happened, the like of which has not happened in New South ‘Wales, or perhaps any important centre of the Commonwealth, for many years. The attendance was so meagre that the military authorities carefully abstained from supplying to the newspapers what is called the parade state,, and to this day nobody knows how many attended. This .only points to the same thing- that the Minister is utterly wrong when he alleges that the Federal forces are ready for any emergency. Very recently when he was doing a little electioneering, he invented a nice little catch-phrase. He said that there was to be “ no gold lace and glitter” about the Defence Forces under the new regime. Instead of the honorable gentleman removing one inch of gold lace from the uniforms, I have here no less than eight and a-half pages of the Commonwealth Gazette of regulations for officers’ uniforms signed by Austin Chapman, Minister of State for Defence. A more elaborate system of rig-oat for a certain portion of the defence forces - -the head-quarters’ staff and the different staffs of .the professional soldiers - has never been put in print. It bristles with “.gold lace and glitter.” I hope ,1 shall not be- deemed to be trespassing too much on the attention of honorable senators if I read the first paragraph -
Aiguillettes and Shoulder Pads. - Staff. - Cord i inch gold and red orris basket, with plait and cord loop in front and same at back, the plaits ending in plain gold, with gilt metal tags. The plaits and cords front and back are joined to- gether by a short scarlet cloth strap, in which is worked a button-hole. The aiguillette is attached to the shoulder of the jacket or frock coat by a button placed under the outer end of the shoulder forward. The long cord is looped up on the topor front cord, the front cord and the short and long plaits are fastened together, and a small gold braid loop is fixed thereon to attach 10 thetop button o,f tunic, and to lower hook on neck of the frock coat. On the latter, on the side on which the aiguillette is worn, the arm is passed between the front plait and cord, and the back or long plait on cord.
Another paragraph describes the feathers, to be worn by the Staff -
Feathers to be Worn with Service Hat.- -Staff. - Red and white cocks’ feathers drooping, cn left side of hat, measuring when out of socket, from base of feathers to point, 14 inches, f> inchesacross widest part, and badge staff pattern.
The hat referred to is the brown felt wideawake. And what are the Army Medical Corps to wear ? -
Army Medical Corps. - Plume. - Chocolate os*trich feathers, banded at base with chocolate vulture feathers, bottom in a metal corded ball socket, plain pattern, with embossed Geneva crosson side, three upright flames; height of the plume, 7 inches, and departmental badge.
If I were to read the regulations, which occupy eight and a-half pages of the Gazette, I think that I should convince the Senate that there is a great deal of “ gold lace and glitter” about the new uniforms; and that a great deal too much attention is being given to military millinery rather than to building up the personnel of the forces; without a valid’ force of which character the Commonwealth is living in a fool’s paradise. Then it takes five and a-half additional pages of theGazette to describe the uniform which the rank and file are to wear. No less than thirteen and a-half pages of the Gazette are -devoted to questions of military millinery, and half of the men for whom thesethings are intended have not been enrolled. I think it will be very difficult to find a number of them. The members of the headquarters staff are required to buy coatswhich I know on the best possible authority cost eighteen guineas each. If that does not come within the category of “ gold lace and glitter “ I do not know what the Minister’s meaning is. But -while it isproposed to do away to a large extent with the second, or holiday -uniform, popularly known as review order, it is laid down in these regulations that officers are to hangcords and fancy work over their brown uniform, and call that review order. The’ Defence Act provides that in the matter of; 1 officers’ commissions, a preference shall’ be given to men who have served in the ranks. Yet these men, if they are given a preference, will have to pay more fo’: these new hangings - they are called aiguillettes for the staff, and. apparently breastlines for less important people - girdles and other things, than they would for a good uniform, that would last them for years. With reference to this question of the reorganization of the military forces, and the hope that we shall not be involved in the present war, I desire to say a few words, and I wish what I say to go, as it will, into Hansard, and be circulated so that the people who have to pay for these things may know what is going on. Although the Minister declares in the statement I have read that “ the Federal forces are ready for any emergency,” I maintain that they could not be brigaded with any British troops from any part of the Empire. The drill of the British army, modified by the experiences of. the Boer war, and signed bv one of England’s most esteemed and beloved soldiers, Lord Roberts, was not good enough for the troops of the Commonwealth, who must have now a drill of their own, which. is half horse and half foot. It would take a fairly good penman from eight to ten hours to write into the British drill-book the alterations- which have been made by the Minister.
– Is that what is called the coalition drill?
– I do not know what it is called, but however good it is it is unfortunate that troops drilled under this system cannot be brigaded with troops from any other part of the. British Empire, because the order in which they are drawn up and moved is entirely different. I have here a regulation signed by the. Minister, and published by order, of the GovernorGeneral, which provides for an astroiomVa.1 impossibility. I do not know whether the Minister thinks that he can play the part of a modern Joshua and order the sun to stand still, but he has deliberately enacted that a Saturday . afternoon’s parade shall consist of three hours’ work. It is a physical impossibility during a great part of the year to get three hours of daylight between the time at which the men can fall in and the setting of the sun.
– But men can be drilled by gaslight.
– Yes, and provision is made for- that in night drills; but a drill of the extended character that takes place by daylight on a Saturday afternoon cannot be carried out by gaslight, because the drill now in vogue scatters the men all over the country, and there would be no gas lamps where they were exercised. Although I am entering upon what may seem to . be small details, I say that the sensible man is the man who considers the interests of the people who have to do the work: We know that the average man knocks off work at i o’clock on Saturday, and he has. to go home to get his mid-day meal, change his clothes, and get to the place of muster. If it is a company drill, and there is only one mustering place to reach, the men may be able to fall in by 3 o’clock - very rarely any earlier. We know that the tendency is for men to live in the suburbs, some miles away from their work. They have to travel bv train, tram, or steamer to and fro, and if a battalion parade is ordered ; the usual Saturday afternoon parade, when different companies are brought together from different localities to form the battalion, then New South Wales experience has proved that a decent attendance cannot be secured before 3.30 o’clock, and during a large part of the year daylight is only available between that hour and 5.30 o’clock. This provision for three hours’ drill is very seriously interfering with the attendance of New South- Wales regiments.
– They must be benighted in New South Wales.
.- The regiments are. benighted very frequently in attempting to carry out the threehours drill. Two hours drill satisfactorily carried out is a great deal better than is two hours good drill spoiled by an attempted addition which cannot be carried out with satisfaction to anybody. This only causes the men to lose heart. We must recognise the social obligations of the volunteers and the militia as well as their military duties. Though it may appear tq be a small matter, it is essential in the case of many of these men that they should be at home at a certain time on Saturday night in order that their wives may do a bit of shopping whilst they look after their young families. There is no- use ignoring, by regulation under the hand of the Governor-General, social conditions which are absolutely essential in the domestic life of our own citizens. Then there is another thing which the Government have- done by regulation. They have adopted a system of sweating, that is, worst than any system indulged in, so far as I know, by any Polish Jew in Whitechapel. That is strong language, but I will give my proofs. Hitherto there has been a professional soldier attached to each regiment as adjutant, whose pay and allowance, according to his rank, has varied from ,£400 to .£600 a year. The Government now insists upon having this work done without any allowance, even for horse hire, by men supposed to be competent, who must be highly trained and who get no more than 5s. a day. For 5s. a day the Government now insist upon highly trained men doing that for which the State hitherto paid from £400 to £600 a year.- I call that sweating. But that is not the worst of it. I have another regulation here which provides for something else. Hitherto for the work of administration and for looking after the Government property in charge of each regiment- and in .’the case of a foot regiment, this property will certainly amount to not less than £6,000 in value - it has been found desirable to employ from six to eight sergeants. The property in the hands of the different companies is not all stored in one place but is widely scattered, and the Commonwealth cut down the number of sergeants to attend to the administration and drill work of each regiment from six or eight to four. The salaries of these men average about ;£i75 each, involving a total expenditure of about £700 per year. What did they do the other day ? They issued an order that these sergeants were not in future to do any of the work of caring for the arms, and equipment, or keeping the books of the regiment. I may explain to honorable senators that every bit of military equipment bears a number stamped upon it, and that it is entered up in books the size of bank ledgers, and must be correctly signed for, otherwise the loss to the public would be %’ery serious. There is an order issued now that these four sergeants are not to do this work, and that it is to be done exclusively by three unpaid citizen soldiers in their spare time. If that is not sweating, I do not know what is. I do not know what could be more preposterous than to expect Government property of this great value to be properly cared for by three unpaid men who are occasionally to give it attention when they have nothing else to do. That is the last order, and I think that the sooner the Commonwealth Government withdraw these orders, the better it will be for the wellbeing of the Commonwealth Forces. There is one matter to which I must refer here, because I intend to make it the subject of ulterior action in this Chamber, and that is the stripping off the regiments of the little designations, facing colours on cuffs, collars, shoulder straps, and so on, the small differentiating marks, that draw a distinction between one regiment and another.
– Have they taken the kilts off the Scotchmen?
– No; the Scottish regiments have been left wholly untouched. No alteration whatever has been made in their garb.
.- There is a regiment in Sydney called the Australian Rifles, and from the very day the regiment was raised the men have worn iri their hats, not the plumes to which reference has been made, but the simple insignia of a couple of emu’s feathers. This has been taken away from them. Other regiments have had their distinguishing marks, and I point out to the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the Attorney-General that amongst the 250,000 and more of British volunteers there are not two corps that wear identically the same uniform; neither are there two regiments in the British service that wear identically the same uniform. Each one has its distinguishing marks, in addition to the regimental badge, . which cannot be distinguished until you come close up to a man. You must come close up to a man before you can distinguish the metal badge of his regiment; but the men of a particular regiment may be told at a distance by some pf the other distinguishing marks which have been regimental traditions honoured to a degree which can hardly be understood, except by men connected with the regiments. These distinguishing marks are taken away from- our regiments, and for what purpose ? No alteration has been made in the uniform of the Highland troops; there has been a great addition in the ornamentation of the Staff and the medical staff, but the volunteers, the men who serve for nothing, are treated the worst of all. In New South Wales there are four militia regiments and five volunteer regiments - I am speaking now of infantry - and three corps, and their importance is shown by the fact that a place is allotted to each of these regiments and to each of these corps in the printed defence scheme of the Government. Therefore, I say that these men are absolutely essential to the working out of the Government scheme of defence, and yet by these regulations they have been deprived of the little distinguishing marks which make men proud of their regiment. We know very well that we cannot keep up volunteer regiments unless we can provide some healthy emulation for them. If we are to put them all in exactly the same garb, arid especially if we are to give them as nearly as possible an English gaol rig, and this is not much of an exaggeration, we cannot hope to maintain, the healthy emulation between one regiment and another without which it is impossible to maintain this- portion of the military defence of the Commonwealth. I have made some reference to Sir Edward Hutton’s report. It was laid upon the table so late in last session that I had no opportunity of making any use of it then. I propose to make use of some small portions- of it now in view of the fact that the Minister for Defence declares that “ the Federal forces are ready for any emergency.” What does the military expert at the head of this Department say? I find that on page 13 of his report he says -
The military stores and equipment are . in a most unsatisfactory condition . throughout the Commonwealth, and the situation can only be viewed with the gravest concern. Modern equipment for Cavalry, Artillery,, and Infantry (a proportion of rifles for the troops on their peace establishment, and a small proportion of field guns excepted) may be regarded as non-existent.
– What have they done since that report?
– It would be eminently in the public interest for us to know. I think my honorable friend will find that very little has been done. At page 23 of the report I find the statement is made, that -
The existing system of providing the small arms and ammunition by contract through a local ammunition company cannot be considered satisfactory.
The General Officer Commanding says on the same page of his report -
It requires a period of from 18 months to 2 years to complete large orders for warlike’ stores.
And he points out that we cannot hope to get what is necessary under existing arrangements before 1908. I hope that the danger of war which is shadowed forth in the Go.vernorGenerals speech will be over by that time, and that we shall not in the meantime need the stores and arms, the nonexistence of which the General Officer Commanding deplores. I referred to the fact that the last Liberal Government was thrown from office in England by reason of the absence of a proper supply of cordite ammunition. On the subject of cordite ammunition, the General Officer Commanding on the same page of his report says - ‘ ‘
Artillery Ammunition. - The provision of cordite or smokeless powder for the modern seabearing armament - that means guns bearing seaward - of 6-inch calibre, and below now in position at the defended ports and coaling stations of Australia, is a matter of pressing necessity.
I should like to know how much of that pressing necessity has been made good? I believe that very little attention has been paid to the matter. Then on page 24 we read -
The equipment for the light horse regiments - there are eighteen of them, or there will be eighteen if they are raised - will necessitate the purchase of a pistol.
That means a pistol for each man. Have the pistols been purchased for those eighteen regiments? I will undertake to say that there is not one of them in Australia. On the same page we read -
Accoutrements. - It has been already stated that at the present moment there is no infantry equipment of an effective service for the field force available in any of. the States of the Commonwealth. In some of the States infantry equipment does not exist beyond the waist-belt. There is no infantry equipment in any of the States of a later date than 1882, which is now obsolete.
Then again -
Saddlery. - Saddlery of a description effective for military service is non-existent, except in the case -of the New South Wales Lancers.
There is saddlery wanted for sixteen regiments. Has any of it been procured ? Then, as to guns, the Major-General says -
Field Artillery. - On peace establishment 18 batteries of four guns (Field Force and Garrison Force) - 72 guns; and when increased to war establishment - 96 guns.
The Major-General points out that all we have at present for a peace establishment of 72 guns is 24 guns in all Australia. That is one-third of what we require for the peace establishment. Six other guns have been ordered. Imagine the monumental struggle that must have taken place in the Cabinet before they agreed to order six guns - actually six. - when 48 were required ! There are eighteen -more old guns, which are being converted to a modern type. Whether the Salvation Army is converting them, or who is doing it - possibly it is Dowie - I do not know. Yet the
Minister for Defence tells us that our Defence Forces are “ ready for any emergency “ ! The Major-General goes on to say -
There will consequently be required 24 field guns to complete the peace establishment.
He proceeds -
Artillery ammunition waggons are an essential factor to the efficiency of field artillery. In some States there are no artillery and ammunition waggons of any kind, and in other States there are only a small proportion to the number of guns available. It is, consequently, of primary importance to complete the field batteries on peace establishment to their peace requirement of waggons as soon as possible. There are only thirteen available, leaving a balance of fiftynine for purchase.
Can the Minister tell me that even one of those fifty-nine waggons, stated by the Major-General to be absolutely necessary, has been purchased? They are necessary for a peace establishment, and we are told by the Minister that our Defence Forces are “ ready for any emergency.” MajorGeneral Hutton goes on -
The existing field artillery harness is, with the exception of isolated batteries in two of the States, old, and for service purposes may be classed as worthless.
Imagine the citizens of this Commonwealth being asked to take their guns into, action with rotten harness. It is a. crying shame that such a state of things should exist, and that men should be asked to risk their lives, not only in defence of their. country, but in the defence of rotten harness, by a Government which will issue thirteen and a half pages of military regulations as to uniforms, but which will not provide guns and harness to make the force a valid instead of a paper force.
The amount of field artillery ammunition cordite charges available in Australia is insufficient for the equipment of the guns now existing.
There is not enough ammunition for 24 guns out of 72 which are required for a peace establishment. The Government have gone to the extravagance of ordering six more guns. But where is the ammunition for them.?” Where are the waggons to take the ammunition to the guns? Are the gunners expected to carry it in their arms? Guns are moved about the field with great rapidity, and waggons to carry the shell are just as essential as horses to drag the guns. The guns are useless without horses in front and waggons laden with ammunition behind. The Major-General also says -
Carriages for Guns of Position. - Two batteries of eight guns of position are required to complete the field force.
Will the Minister, tell us in the face of these requirements that “ the Defence Force is ready for any emergency”? But the Government according to their- estimates have no present intention of supplying these things. The Major-General points out as to machine guns that -
One Pom-pom and harness and two machine guns (Colt pattern), with tripod, mountings, per regiment - are absolutely necessary. That means that, as there are 18 regiments of mounted troops or light horse, 18 pom-poms, as they are called, and 36 new pattern machine guns are required. Where are they? I will undertake to say that they are non-existent in the Commonwealth today. Mr. President, it is an extremely unsatisfactory thing for any man to have to stand up in a public place and draw attention to matters of this kind. It is peculiarly unpalatable to me. But I feel that ‘ I am under a bounden duty to draw attention to these matters, for two reasons; One is that I have always taken a very keen and deep interest in matters of defence ever- since, as a boy, I lived under martial law during the first stage of the New Zealand war. In New South Wales that interest is universally acknowledged. Secondly, I feel that I should not be doing my duty, if I did not draw, attention to the ladies of the Government in these matters, particularly . in view of the declaration of the Minister for Defence that “ the Federal forces are ready for- any emergency” - that is to say, I suppose, any emergency arising out of thirteen and a-half foolscap pages of dress regulations ! I cannot follow out all the sinuosities of this monumental speech of the GovernorGeneral, but there are other matters to which I wish to refer. I cannot pass by a question that has not been touched upon by the mover and seconder of the Address in Reply. I think they showed their wisdom in leaving it alone. Reference has been made to the question of the six hatters. Well, the six hatters are not all in Australia now. .Some of them went to New Zealand. I shall say nothing of them. But there is one case which stands out as making the Commonwealth administration worthy of execration, and that is the case of the Petriana wreck. The Attorney-General laughs. If I may, without offence, apply to him a well-known quotation from Byron, I would say that my honorable and learned friend is -
The mildest mannered man
That ever- scuttled ship or cut a throat.
I apply it in this way- that I have been astounded to see that a gentleman of the Attorney-General’s mildness of manner and courtesy of demeanour on all occasions when 1 have had the pleasure of meeting him, should have stood up on platform after platform during the recent elections arid upheld the refusal to allow shipwrecked men even to come on land.
– That is an invention of the Sydney press.
.- I am going to take some action in connexion with this matter. ‘Probably to-morrow I shall give notice of a motion for the production of the papers connected with the case. I want to get at the facts, and I will tell the Senate why. The agents for the ship make certain statements, and the officials of the Government give the flattest contradiction to them. In fact, there are flat contradictions on both sides, and I want to know who has told the truth, and who has told the lie.
– I will tell the honorable senator who told some of them.
.- I will only say this on the subject - that on such facts as are known, the refusal to allow those shipwrecked men to land was a crying disgrace to everyone connected with the transaction. I am ,not saying .that they should have been allowed .to stay here. I know what the law is. They undoubtedly should have been deported. But to say that a man who is shipwrecked, and who is wet and shivering, shall not be allowed to come on shore, but shall be treated somewhat like a criminal
– Who said that?
– I am speaking of the way those shipwrecked sailors were treated, and I say it was a crying disgrace and a scandal to the Commonwealth. Let me relate an ‘incident similar to -this one. Some forty years ago there was a wreck on the New Zealand coast - upon that portion of the coast occupied by the Maories who were at war, with the English, and who were upon territory which was in their armed occupation. The steamer Lord Worsley, which I knew very well - I travelled in her as a child - was wrecked on the coast south of Taranaki, or New Plymouth. ‘The whole of the ship’s crew and passengers - men, women, .and children - reached the shore. They came ashore close to- the natives’ fortifications. The .Maories took council amongst themselves as to what they should do with these people. Remember that theseMaoris until a few years previously were not only savages but cannibals. They discussed what was to be done with the ship’s company, and amongst theMaories were a number whom I will characterize as “ Deakinites,” and who proposed to tomahawk the lot. But the “ members of the Opposition “ were sufficiently numerous to -put the Deakinites aside, and’ the result was that these poor savages, as they were called, fed the hungry shipwreckedpeople, and drove the women and children in . their bullock carts, the men marching alongside, to the nearest position held by white troops. Compare that with theconduct of the Commonwealth Government in the Petriana case. Shame on those guilty of the treatment meted out to the unfortunate beings on that ship ! Then there isthe Stelling case.
– A smuggler.
– That may be so, and I do not defend the man as to that ; why should I ? But does the honorable senator say that a man who has been convicted of an offence, and punished for it,, is to be made the subject of a subsequent prosecution for practically the same offence ?
– The Act says that when the term of imprisonment of a mart who has been convicted of an offence expires he shall be subject to the education test.
– If Senator McGregor reads the Act he will find that he is entirely misrepresenting it.
– Then the Act is very; defective, because we should have here a criminal who would not be here if he were not a criminal.
– I shall not discuss the question, not becauseI cannot answer the interjections made,, but because there occurs to me at this moment a fact which . I had’ forgotten, namely, that this case is before the .Law ‘Courts of New South Wales, and’ doubtless :the President -would promptly stop me .if I attempted to refer to it further. I offer an .apology to you, Mr. President, and to the Chamber for mentioning the caseunder the circumstances. I now come to amost extraordinary clause in His Excellency the Governor-General’s address - the clause which refers to an agricultural bureau and new crops and new markets. Surely the duty indicated here is a State duty. Under what provision of the Constitution can this be a Commonwealth duty? The composers of this lengthy address allege in this part the necessity for speedier and cheaper transportation, just at the very time when their negotiations for speedier and cheaper communication have actually broken down in connexion with the mail contracts. They are alleging the necessity of that which their own policy has rendered impossible.
– The mail contracts have nothing to do with the carriage of produce.
– The honorable senator has surely forgotten the clause of the mail contract which requires the speedy carriage of the very produce which is indicated here.
– Such a condition was placed in our proposed contract, but we could get’ nobody to tender.
-Col. NEILD.- While we are told that this necessity, exists we are also told by the Postmaster-General that he has given up the idea of getting any mail contracts. In this lengthy document there is a statement that the whole question of the subsidies forpostal and other services is now under review. This address in its 12th paragraph absolutely contradicts statements that have been made in the press by the PostmasterGeneral. That honorable gentleman told us through the newspapers that he had a tender for a 30-knot service. If I were disposed to be facetious I should suggest that the Postmaster-General was expecting the mails to be carried by a fish torpedo. That is about the only conveyance by which he is likely to get a service of 30 knots. There is another case to which I can’ refer, because it has happily passed out of the realms of the law courts. That is the Hanna case, which discloses what can only be properly described as the infamous treatment by the Government of an unhappy cabman.
-! never heard of the case.
.- Then I shall tell the Vice-President of the Executive Council all about it, because in his position he ought to have known the facts. The AttorneyGeneral knows all the details of this case. An unfortunate cabman had his horse killed, his cab smashed, and himself injured by an electric current supplied by the Post and Telegraph Department. The AttorneyGeneral, who was then Postmaster-General, encouraged this unfortunate man to go to law, but when the man went to court, thinking there would be a fair and square hearing, the barrister who appeared for the Government took the point that the Court had no power to hear the case. I shall do the Attorney-General the plain justice of saying that I cannot believe he instructed the barrister to take that action, but somebody must have done so, although the man had been invited by the AttorneyGeneral to go into court. At that time the Government of the Commonwealth were in the position of administrative outlaws, being outside the power of any law in creation.
– A very comfortable position.
.- No doubt; and the position was so luxurious that the Government enjoyed it as long as possible.
– No; the Government introduced a Bill to meet the circumstances.
.- That was only done when there was a howl of indignation in both chambers, and throughout the land ; the Government were in such abject terror that they had to introduce a measure. But what took place when the Bill was introduced, and even when the High Court was established? In court after court - the District Court, the Supreme Court, the Full Court, and, finally, the High Court - the finding was in favour of this unfortunate man whom the Government intendedto “break,” not because they thought they were right, but because the man was poor. Even if the ,£200 which was awarded to this man - a wretchedly small sum for the Government, but of the greatest possible moment to the unhappy cabman - has been paid, I suppose he is still poorer to-day. I have statements to show that the Government, while pretending to be just over this miserable sum of .£200, ran up a bill of ,£1,800 for law costs. This money was spent, not in attempting to administer justice, but in attempting to defeat it in a manner eminently discreditable. A statement I have here shows that while the Post and Telegraph Department admitted the facts, it reiterated that the Department was .not liable, notwithstanding that all the courts, finishing with the High Court, decided that it was liable.
– What is the honorable senator quoting from?
.- From the Sydney Daily Telegraph of January last, though I am sorry I have not the exact date. I have heard from a most unofficial source that the cabman has been paid his damages. However, the case was finally decided by the” High Court on the nth November last, and up to the date of the publication of the paragraph which I have indicated, the man had not been paid. If he has been paid since, that very fact makes the delay all the more discreditable. There was a clear admission that the man was entitled to the money, and yet the Government fought him for two years or longer. Under such circumstances, what is the use of suing the Federal Government when they are sufficiently lawless to refuse to give effect to’ the decisions of their own Court under their own laws?
– The Government did give effect to the law.
– But not for months after the decision.
– The Government did so as soon as possible, I suppose.
– The decision ought to have been given effect to a great deal sooner.
– I am afraid the honorable senator would find the Commonwealth Treasurer rather a difficult person to get money from.
– I am not blaming the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who must, however, as a member of the Government, take his share of the responsibility for a state of affairs which is much more than discreditable. I have no personal feeling in this matter, and I am sure that the two Ministers to whom I have referred have none other than the most friendly disposition towards myself. But my friendly feeling, which extends to every member of the Ministry, has nothing to do with the discharge of my public duty. We have read in history of the father who was called upon to give up his criminal son to the hangman, his parental feelings not being allowed to interfere with the administration of justice; and while the friendly relationship between members of this Chamber is not likely to be outraged, honorable senators are of too high a type to allow private friendship ‘to interfere with the discharge of their straightforward public duties.
– The honorable senator told us that he desired to impart some humour to the proceedings.
.- Does the AttorneyGeneral say that what I have said about the Hanna case possesses any element of humour?
– I should say that some of the honorable senator’s remarks are humorous.
– I am sorry that in connexion with this particular case, I have apparently taken a wrong view of my honorable friend’s action. It appears to ‘me, however, that so far from being a subject of humour, this case is a subject for public humiliation. We are told that there is something wrong in connexion with the Electoral Act, and that something is going to be done; and no doubt it is time that something was done in connexion with the Electoral Department. I was declared elected by a few less than 193,000 votes as far back as 14th January. I have been sworn in here, and I do not know, to this hour, how many votes I did1 poll. I could not get the information in the office in Sydney, and, therefore, I wrote an unofficial letter to the head of the Electoral Department in Melbourne. He sent me word that he had instructed the Department in Sydney to give me the information. I called at the office last Monday, and when I asked the Electoral Officer, Mr. Biden, for the information, he said - “ Oh, Colonel Neild, all you wanted has been typed for you for days. I will give it to you.” Then up jumped Mr. Lewis’s clerk from Melbourne, a gentleman named Nienep, and he told the Electoral Officer that he was not to give me the return, or to tell me anything that was in it. I was not to be allowed to know the figures, for the information of myself or of the scores of thousands that I represent ; the papers had gone to Melbourne. That was one story. The other story was that the papers were not complete. Days before they were in Melbourne, not only in typewriting, but in print. Elections are not conducted for the benefit of Ministers, or even electoral officers, but for the benefit of the community, and if there is anybody who has a right to know, at the earliest possible moment, what the result of an election is, it is not the Minister, for he has nothing to do with it. Did any one ever before hear of a returning officer refusing to declare the result of a poll until he had submitted the figures to the Minister? Are we to have Ministerial interference with purity of elections? We shall next have Ministers claiming the right to revise the figures.
– And to amend them.
– I am not making a personal complaint. Having been declared elected, I do not know that it matters very much whether I polled a few votes more or less. But I consider, that it is a scandal that the result’ of an election which took place on ‘the 16th of December last should not have been made public, and. that the information should . have been kept back for the benefit of the Minister, in order tha’t he could get up something like a cricket score average, which means very little, or may mean a. great deal. In the document which was. laid on. the table yesterday, the Minister refers to the paucity of the voting. What is likely to be- the result when on one divisional roll in the electorate represented by the Minister for Trade and Customs, a married woman’s name is put down six times? I shall produce the roll here if needful. That is the way in which the rolls have been made up by the Department. How. could we expect things to be well done when all the Government did in New South Wales, where the polling was. heaviest, was to pay a’ -chief Electoral Officer the- sum, of 15s. a -day? Is that a decent nay to give to a man. who had -to be out of bed twenty hours out of the 2.4, and. possibly even longer than that ? They did not even give him overtime. It was’ the least thing that they could have done, because he was worked to death with a staff not nearly strong, enough.
– Is that a solitary case ?
– No, because it was stated in the; Sydney’ press the other day that the Government had not paid the -miserable 15s. a day to the- presiding officers. It is a disgraceful thing that a junior clerk should be sent from the Melbourne office to practically take out of the hands of the electoral officer, appointed by the Executive Council, his business and his authority.
– Where was Mr.
– He was here, but he has been backwards and forwards. often enough. I have no complaint against the unfortunate man in Sydney, who has been the victim of meddling from
Melbourne, who has been insufficiently paid and inefficiently supported. It is a public wrong that the figures for any one election should be kept from the candidates and the public until the Minister has perused them or has made some use of them, I do not care what. It would be very well if the
Parliament were to insist upon an inquiry.
Not only were things bad enough in connexion with the “ gerrymandering,” of which enough was said last session, but from that time to the present - in the. making up of rolls, in the duplication and more than duplication of: many . names, and in the transparent refusal to print others on the roll - there has been little more or less than a gigantic muddle, discreditable to everyone charged with responsible duties. I understand now that it is proposed to supersede Mr. Biden, and place in his position a not very prominent officer of the Postal Department of New South Wales. I know nothing of the gentleman,, whose name I only heard for. the: first time the other day, and who may be a most admirable officer. But I wish to point out that he is, in the service of the Department, materially junior to many postmasters who are returning officers, for districts. It would be a curious capsizing of seniority in the sendee to make such an appointment; but if he is appointed I hope that he will turn out to be a very good man. There is- one matter which I find I have overlooked. This- is another of those cases in which I am, unfortunately, compelled to accuse the existing Ministry of the nonfulfilment, of a: financial obligation, and in this case to a public servant. I need not go into all the details, but I state as- a fact that some time ago the State Government of New South Wales decided that it would be desirable to have an. official record of the events .connected with the sending of troops from that State to the Transvaal. It will be remembered that New South Wales sent some 15,000 or 1.6,000 men in all. An officer in the Defence Department, who was also an officer in the Education Department, was appointed by the Governor in Council to prepare this record. He was granted leave from his civil occupation for the purpose, and was provided; with a salary equal to that which he had been drawing from his civil occupation, or thereabouts, in order to do this work. He put in three months upon it, and was then called upon to go to South Africa again. He had already been there, and had done meritorious service. On going away he handed over all his records. On his return the State Department of Defence had become a Commonwealth Department, and he was asked to take up the work again. Let me say that all the pay he received for the first three months of his work he expended in the.- purchase of. a typewriter, that he might be able to ‘turn out his work in nice style: He returned to South Africa for further service on’ the 1st July, 1901. Previous to that he had handed over the incomplete sections of the records and all the official documents. On his return from South) Africa, in January, 1902, he was requested to complete his record. The New South Wales military authorities - that is, the Commonwealth Defence authorities - applied to the Public Service Department of New South Wales for his services. The request was granted, and the officer went on with this work from the 12’th February until the 30th May, and during this time he received nothing. He was granted leave from the New South Wales Education Department in order that he might serve the Commonwealth, and so he lost the pay he received in the State sendee, and he did not get a penny for his services from the Commonwealth. At the rate of pay agreed upon the Commonwealth owes him £90, and he cannot get a sixpence of it. Of course he cannot get the money from the State Government of New South Wales, because they relinquished his services, and the Commonwealth Government will not .pay him. It is only fair to say that so far as I know the military head of the Defence Department has urged his payment, but, whether it is due to the Minister for Defence or the Commonwealth Treasurer, and I suppose it is due to one of those officials, he has not yet been paid.
– Why did he not insist upon getting his pay monthly?
– That is a very easy thing to say, but he could insist only through the law courts or strike.
– As a rule a solitary individual does not go out on strike. Ordinarily it takes a number of persons to make a strike.
– And there was no Arbitration Court either.
– There was no Arbitration Court, and I ask what would be the use of his obtaining a verdict in view of the facts quoted in the Hanna case.
– This shows the necessity of extending the Commonwealth Arbitration Act to those engaged in the State Public Services.
– It would be a novelty to have an arbitration law extended to the military.
– If the men cannot get their pay, why not?
.- This seems to me to be a glaring case of injustice, and knowing something of the matter, I desire to know a little more. I have heard one side of the story, and I hope I shall always be fair-minded enough to listen to both sides.
– The honorable senator has hardly given sufficient information toenable me to assist him.
.- I. will give the name of the officer. He is Captain Pearce, of the New South Wales Artillery. I have already given the dates, and I have no doubt they will be found correctly recorded in Hansard. I think this is a gross case of injustice which any honorable senator would take satisfaction in bringing forward with a view to its redress.
– This is the. first I have heard of it.
– No doubt this is the first the honorable and learned senator has heard of it, because, although he was Minister for Defence, it is quite possible that the matter never came before him during the time he occupied that position. .
– According to the dates it ought to have come before him.
.- If my honorable friend knew that many communicationsto the Defence Department, and to other departments of the Government, are never answered at all, and that in many cases an immense amount of time elapses before replies are given, he would not perhaps be somuch surprised. I propose to refer to what is not a kindred topic, though it is still a matter connected with the Public Service, and one for ‘which the Government are peculiarly responsible. I speak of the. transference of public officers without any communication being addressed to them.. They are ordered by the GovernorGeneral in Council to shift many hundreds of miles without being asked” whether their circumstances are such that they can afford to make the change. In New South Wales it has been the custom for many years for two rates of pay to be granted to public servants ; one rate in what are called the settled districts, and a higher rate to public, officials who have to go away into the backblocks and live at greater expense in trying climates. I know of twocases in the Postal Department of New South Wales where married officers, gettingsmall salaries, and living in the city, with all their domestic arrangements complete,, have been, without “ By your leave,” or “ Can you do it,” ordered away into the far west. When a man enters the Public Service he must be prepared to assist in coping, with the exigencies of the service, and to> accept all reasonable responsibilities, but T take it that it is an undue hardship to order a man away without consulting him at all, when there may be many persons in the service who are better able to make the change than he is. In one case I have in mind a man receiving a small pay, and having an invalid wife, who, I believe, could not live in the great stress of heat to be found in the far west, was ordered away without “ By your leave.” All he knew about it was that his transference was announced in the Commonwealth Gazette. I enter a protest against that kind of thing. Though a soldier or a sailor has to go wherever he is sent, civil employment does not contemplate such strenuous movements of the public servants, and they have a right to be reasonably consulted. Referring to one or two of the paragraphs of the Governor-General’s speech, I may say that I entirely agree with the proposal dealt with in paragraph 7, to do something for the increase of the population df Australia. I agree with speakers who have preceded me in urging that without some more rapid increase in the population than we have at the present time, Australia cannot be the great nation that it was confidently believed it would become when we federated. I may say that I have as much opposition for what is contained in paragraph 8 of the speech, as I have of approval for the previous paragraph. Paragraph 8. deals with the proposal for the appointment of a High Commissioner of the Commonwealth. What in the world is he to do? We do not require such an officer; we are not at present borrowing money, and for what other purpose do we require a High Commissioner in London ? A general agent we may want to look after the sale of colonial productions., but the chief, duties of agentsgeneral have been in connexion with monetary transactions, and as there are no monetary transactions necessary in London on behalf of the Commonwealth, I see no necessity for the appointment of a High Commissioner. I hold that there is no reason why we should establish a High Commissioner with a large salary, because we cannot send an eminent man to London with a small salary, and if we are not going to send an eminent man we had better send no one. It is proposed to send an eminent man at a large salary, .and with a large staff at his back to do what, in the name of Heaven? Nothing at all but appear at society functions. I am absolutely opposed to the proposition. I do not know whether this position, is to be given to the gentleman who acted as Mr. Deakin’s bottle-holder in Sydney during the election period, but I hope not.
– Who was that?
– A gentleman named Wise. I propose now to refer to paragraphs 13 and 14, addressed to the members of the House of Representatives, and dealing .with monetary matters - the Tariff and revenue, and expenditure. If there is one thing upon which this Senate has insisted, it is a due recognition by the other Chamber of the rights of the Senate under the Constitution.
– I think it was promised last session that they should be observed.
.- That is so, but if the promise be kept in the word it is broken in the spirit as far as this speech is concerned. It will be remembered that last session I submitted a motion affirming the rights of the Senate in connexion with money matters, and objecting to the action of the Government in placing in the mouth of the Governor-General an expression of thanks to the House of Representatives alone for the grant of Supply. My honorable friend the Attorney-General said that if I would withdraw the motion he would see that the thing did not occur again ; and the honorable and learned senator kept his word in respect of the speech delivered at the close of last session. Then the thanks of the Governor-General on behalf of the Crown were conveyed to both Chambers for the grant of Supply. In that respect the promise made was kept in the letter and in the spirit. Now, I think it has been broken in both. No doubt mv honorable friend the Attorney-General quite forgot the matter, but I protest, and I am quite willing to take action with any other member of the Senate who thinks it desirable to again place on record the fact that, except in the mere detail of initiation, this Chamber is equal with the other, and is responsible for, and has the same honorable right of dealing with the finances of the country as has the House of Representatives.
– Add that to the motion we are now discussing.
.- I do not think it would be desirable to move an amendment, and I give my reason. The moving of an amendment upon an Address in Reply would be regarded as an attack upon the Government, and the strength of the Government would in consequence be brought to bear against a motion which, moved in another way, would perhaps meet with universal acceptance. , I do not know that it is necessary to take any action, but I shall be prepared to join with any honorable senator in doing so if action is deemed necessary, because I think that in the interests of the Commonwealth we should not allow our constitutional rights to go by default.
– Give notice of motion.
– I will give notice ofmotion to-morrow. But’ I think that if I moved it as an amendment upon the Address in Reply I should make a mistake. I did discuss the question with some of my friends, and we agreed that to move it as an amendment would be to complicate the enunciation of a constitutional proposition with party conflict. A word with reference to the site for the Federal Capital. I see it stated in the Governor-General’s speech that contour surveys are in progress at Tumut and Bombala. I want to know - Why not Lyndhurst? That is the site which obtained more direct votes in the Federal Parliament than any other. The majority of votes in the other House was given first for Lyndhurst, and secondly for Tumut, and not for Bombala at all. Bombala was the choice of the Senate. I wish to know why the Government excluded from the contour surveys the site that obtained more votes than any other of the three mentioned. I have heard that there is something like a conspiracy going on in connexion with the Federal Capital. I have heard it from a very good source - from Members of the Federal Parliament - and I may just as well put it on record. It amounts to this - that a number of gentlemen who are entirely opposed to the establishment of the Federal Capital are going to vote religiously for Bombala, knowing that there is no railway within sixty miles of the place, no prospect of a railway being built, and no like’ihood of either New South Wales or Victoria being able to borrow the money to build the necessary railway ; so that while they will be voting nominally to fulfil the conditions of the Constitution by voting for the selection of the Federal Capital site, they will be most industriously breaking the spirit of the Constitution by voting for a proposition that they know will be an absolute nullity. I make that statement because it has been made to me by members who now sit in the Federal Parliament, and I think it is just as well that it should be put on record.
SenatorGuthrie. - I think the honorable senator should tell us who they are. His statement is an aspersion on all the Members of the Parliament.
– It was not a member of the Senate, at all events. There is a very interesting paragraph in the speech, No. 19, regarding a conference with reference to electric cables. I see that there is to be a conference in London, and that the matter is in the hands of the Government. They would not have a conference in Australia, although a man came here all the way from London to take part in it, and although the Agent-General for New South Wales, who was the representative of Australia on the Cable Board in London, was here at the same time. . The Government would not agree to have a conference at any price whatever, and by some means the gentleman referred to was spirited away home again.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong.
– Quite wrong.
.- My honorable friend the Vice-President of the Executive Council has already told us that he knew nothing of the Hanna case, and I had some difficulty in recalling it to his memory. I think I am correct in saying that action was taken in both Chambers of the Legislature with reference to a proposed conference on the Pacific Cable, and the ‘Government opposed it all the time, and for all they were worth.
– The conference proposed was not to be held here, but in London.
.- In that I may be wrong, but as to the desire for a conference, and as to the refusal of the Government to take part in one, I am sure I was right.
– Quite right ; there never ought to have been a conference.
– Now, apparently, the conference that was objected to is to be held. It will be very interesting to hear some of the members of the Government explain to us what has caused this change of front. We know that there has been a change of front on the part of Ministers in regard to a good many things - coloured labour in ships stoke-holds and other matters.
– They have not gone back on that, have they?
– They went back on that. They opposed the amendment to prohibit the employment of coloured’ labour for all they were worth when it was discussed in this Chamber, and I supported them. But the other Chamber would have it that there was to be no black labour on the mail steamers, and the Government threw a somersault, turned up blandly with “Here we are again !” like the clown in the circus, and insisted that there should be no black labour ! It looks as though something of the same sort had been occurring in connexion with the Pacific Cable. They first of all opposed the holding of any Conference, and now they have executed a change of front. In conclusion, I would remark that we have met together under circumstances in which some of the seats on these benches are now occupied by new faces. As far as I have been able to judge there are genial dispositions connected with those faces, and that there will be good comradeship between those who were here before and those who have newly come into the Senate I fully believe. But I cannot help expressing a word of regret that some of those whom we miss have gone from us because from both sides of the chamber are missing the faces of gentlemen who, while sitting here, won the good fellowship and hearty respect of those with whom they sat. I shall be only too glad-
– To meet them in Heaven.
.- I do not know whether I should be quite so glad to meet Senator McGregor there, because if I wanted to sing a nice hymn, I am afraid that he would interject, and I might find him dreadfully in the way.. He would spoil my devotions or whatever . they were* But I do hope, as I believe, that while we miss those whom we respected, and who were good comrades, those who take their places will present the same pleasant and admirable qualities, and that during the years before the next triennial change comes, we shall be a Chamber that will fearlessly discharge its high public duties, whilst the members of it remain on terms of personal friendship, even if of political opposition. I trust that we may all part when the time comes with the same element’s of friendship and esteem with which we have met together. I particularly desire to thank the Senate for the courtesy with which it has listened to a rather long address, but one dealing with a considerable number of facts, which I deemed it to be my duty as a representative of the people to place before my fellow senators’.
– I had no intention of addressing the Senate, .to-night, but it appears to me that the debate ought to go on if possible, and be concluded this evening., Before I proceed to discuss the Governor-General’s speech, I desire to welcome the new senators, and to say that I for one am very pleasantly surprised at the ability shown by the proposer and seconder of the Address in Reply. I think that they made very good speeches from their point of view. It is not to be expected that I should agree with all that has been said,, but they put their views before us very clearly and courteously. I wish to make a remark or two in regard to paragraph 3 of the Governor-General’s speech with respect to the public debt. I cannot, of course, agree with my honorable friend Senator Trenwith, that all the interest on the money that has been borrowed by Australia from England has been thrown away. We have, to a very large extent, assets to show for the money which we have borrowed, and those assets bring in a return. If my. honorable friend makes a point of the amount of interest which we have paid to the bondholders on the money which we have borrowed, he ought also, -per contra, to show us the income which we have earned from the works upon which the money has been expended. I have had the pleasure of reading recently an account of the views of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth in .regard to taking over the debts of the States. I think that Sir George Turner is perfectly right in saying that the Commonwealth must get something adequate by way of additional security before accepting the great responsibility of paying interest on the debts of the States. Sir George Turner proposes that there shall practically be a hypothecation of a portion of the income of the railways. Some years ago I had occasion to speak and to write upon this subject, and although at that time I at first advocated the transfer of the railways to the Federal Government, I found that the proposition was so unpopular in the States that I modified my position, and adopted the very one that Sir George Turner is now taking up. I suggested that in addition to the Customs and Excise duties we might at all events have a partial hypothecation of the incomes of the railways, sufficient tomake up the deficiency between the receipts from the Customs and Excise and the aggregate amount of interest on the State debts. Senator Dawson. - Is the honorable senator trying to steal Sir George Turner’s ideas ?
– Certainly not. But the views of Sir George Turner have been reported in the newspapers, and I have only repeated what I have read. I have written to Sir George Turner saying that I was very pleased to read his views, but I may add that I believe I was the first person who suggested an hypothecation of the railway revenue, such as the Federal Treasurer advocates. I can show Senator Dawson the pamphlet in which I advanced this idea. In regard to old-age pensions, there is a great deal of force in what has been said by Senator Mulcahy in regard, to the unfortunate position of many of our aged andmost enterprising, colonists. In many parts of Australia for many years past I have come across men of the character referred to. I have met a few of them in Sydney, who find that, because they were not in New South Wales for. twenty consecutive years, thev . are debarred from obtaining old-age pensions from the New South Wales Government, notwithstanding, that they are advanced in years, and have been resident in Australia nearly all their lives.. I. certainly think that if an Old-Age Pensions Bill, is to be introduced it should at all events be a supplementary measure, by which any person otherwise eligible who has resided in any part, of Australia should have the advantage of receiving! an old-age pension, although, he has not lived for twenty consecutive years in. any one State. I shall be prepared to give a modified support to a Bill, of that character. I was pleased, to hear Senator Mulcahy’s- views in regard to preferential trade. Preferential trade in his opinion seems to be a kind of modified protection, and those of us agreeing with that view who have always been advocates of free-trade cannot,, therefore, be. expected to give it our support. It was very satisfactory to some of us who have lived a long time in Australia to observe that the Prime Minister desires to attract population to these shores. To my mind this was rather a pleasant declaration of policy on the part of the Government, because rightly or wrongly I was under the impression that the Immigration, Restriction Act had had the opposite effect. I hope, however, that, as a consequence of the policy now advocated, we shall have a large European immigration, and shall not put any undue restrictions on the immigration of white workers.
– Where would, the honorable senator put them ; in the destitute institutions or the lunatic asylums?
– I can tell the honorable senator of many parts of Australia where any man who is willing to work can get work to do. But the difficulty is that a large proportion of the. unemployed will stick. to the cities and will not go to, the bush.
– There are more men out of work in the bush than there are in the cities in proportion to the population.
– And why? Because they insist upon a minimum wage. Many a man who is willing to employ labour cannot afford to pay 7s. 6d. a day. That is the case in New South Wales for instance.
– That does not apply to the bush.
– They get up their unions in the bush in New South Wales as well as in the cities. I will give an instance - I dare say there are a number of other cases which could be cited. This case did not occur in the bush ; but the document I have shows a tendency, and I should like to read it. It is as follows : -
The Saddlers’ Union proceeded in the Arbitration Court yesterday against John Booth for employing a non-unionist.
A non-unionist, apparently, is not to be employed nowadays. The document proceeds -
Booth is a young saddler, who has just started for himself, but employs nobody. Some time ago one of his old comrades called on him and told him. a distressful, story. Booth thereupon gave his friend 10s. for nine hours’ work, lie did not want his services, but only desired to do him a kindness- in his need. That was the offence for which he was proceeded against. His Honour Mr. Justice Cohen suggested that they should settle the matter, but the Union held out for its costs, and finally no penalty was imposed, but costs to the amount of 10s. had to be paid by Booth.
My view is that a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration ought to be voluntary ; but I am always willing to bow to the majority
– If. the parties will not agree, what would you do ?
– I do not know, but. I have generally found, in going through life, that I can settle matters voluntarily without resorting to law.
– But if the two sides will not agree?
– If they will not they must, take the consequences. Compulsory arbitration- is, in my opinion, against liberty, and I have been brought up to think that we ought to be able to do what we like with our own. The new unionism is not the same as the old unionism, though the latter apparently is what John Burns believes in.
– No ; the old unionism is obsolete.
– No doubt the- new unionism may have its good points, but it subverts the axiom that all men are equal in the sight of the law, seeing that it places unionists on a higher plane than nonunionists. As to the Navigation Bill, I think that Western Australian senators have their own reasons for not going the extreme length of saying that colonial rates of wages must be paid on all ships trading between that State and the Eastern States ; at all events, those reasons will hold good until the transcontinental railway is decided upon. When the proposal for that railway is brought forward I intend to support it, provided Western Australia and South Australia will guarantee to bear any loss until the railway itself pays. My own impression is that the railway will pay much sooner than is generally supposed.
– Any loss must be a Commonwealth charge.
– Why not give land grants to induce persons to build the railway ?
– Certainly not.
– The South Australian Government are offering land grants under similar circumstances.
– The South Australian Government are offering 90,000,000 acres, and nobody will take the land up.
– Is it not better to have land taken up under such a system than to have it lying idle?
– But people will not take up the land.
– Have the tenders been received yet?
– We must wait until the tenders are in before we can know whether the land will be taken up. I agree very much with what Senator Neild said in regard to the method of addressing the two Houses in His Excellency’s speech, and I can only regard what has been pointed out as an omission. I gathered from what the AttorneyGeneral said on a former occasion that he would see that our rights were recognised in communications of this nature. I am one of those who think that we are not called upon to interfere with what our > co-colonists choose to do in South Africa, although it is quite true, as Senator- Tren with pointed out, that we did a great deal to assist them in their trouble and distress, I- shall not deal with the defences, to which Senator Neild referred, because, I fear, I should be unable to do justice to the subject. As to the Federal Capital, New South. Wales representatives have been twitted by the Victorian press with being provincial on the subject. I know, as well as do most people, that had it not been for this provision in the Federal Constitution, New South Wales would not have entered theCommonwealth. . That State federated on the distinct understanding that the provision that the capital should be in New South Wales was part of the Constitution, and that the law would be carried out within a reasonable time.
– The New South Wales Government have agreed to lock up nine sites until one is selected.
– I must object to the New South Wales representatives being called provincial, when we are simply asking that the bond which we signed shall be carried out. Without that bond, I doubt whether there would have been federation. I am very pleased that there is an intention to endeavour to reduce the trouble in connexion with the inter- State certificates. Whether or not it is necessary, to have an Inter-State Commission I am not prepared1 to say, but the Treasurer or the Minister for Trades and Customs is the proper person to offer an opinion on that point.
– Why have inter-State certificates between Melbourne and Sydney only ?
– For the reason that it has been discovered that there is very little difference between the two States of New South Wales and Victoria in regard to the inter-State traffic ; but this is a matter on which We shall, no doubt, be more definitely informed by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. As to New Guinea, it will be remembered that last session there was a Bill introduced, which, if amended in the way proposed, would have made it impossiblefor any person, except under medical certificate, to obtain alcohol within the territory. Any person who has been in New Guinea: knows that there are very few doctors there, and that the door would be open to smuggling. I shall not elaborate the point, but I hope that there will be the same liberty of the subject there as in Australia. The Government in New Guinea, I am told orv good authority, is most careful to whom it grants certificates or licences, and there are very few cases of aborigines being supplied with spirits. Senator Smith informed us last session that in a certain island, which is within Queensland territory, although nearer to New Guinea, the aborigines were supplied with spirits ; but that, it must be observed, was under the Queensland Government. Another matter to which I would like to refer is what is called the gerrymandering under the Electoral Act. I trust that there will be new legislation to give fair play all round. If there is to be over-representation anywhere, I would rather that it were in the bush than in the city ; but, as Ave have decided on equal representation and one adult one vote, we have no right to interfere geographically with that principle. I heartily agree, with others, in hoping that war is far off, so far as we are concerned, and in the opinion that the sooner we agree to settle all our international differences, by means of arbitration, the better it will be for all. I trust that I have not taken up too much time, and that the debate will be closed before we separate to-night.
– It was not my intention to address the Senate to-night, sir, but the speech made by Senator Trenwith calls for some remark, not, I hope, from a provincialist, but from one who, whilst he represents a State, feels that he also represents the Commonwealth. In. the first paragraph of the address, the Government congratulate themselves on the fact that the severe drought which for seven years devastated Queensland, New South Wales, and part of Victoria has passed away. I am sure that we all rejoice in that fact; but I feel compelled to express the opinion that the severities and calamities which many of our pastoralists suffered in New South Wales would have been far less in extent had the first Commonwealth Parliament been Federal, not only in constitution, but in spirit. The States I have mentioned were suffering, and they appealed to the Commonwealth Government for relief; but whilst there were sympathetic utterances by the courteous Prime Minister, there was practically no response to the requests of the sufferers. I feel sure that the effect of the refusal of the Commonwealth Government to render practical assistance in New South Wales and Queensland will take a long time to obliterate.
– The Commonwealth Government had no power legally to render the assistance asked. c
– A Minister of the Crown stated publicly that the calamities of one State would be or were the good fortune of another State.
– That is what was said callously.
– Then, again, a Minister of the Crown sent a telegram to the Age newspaper stating that he objected to the suspension of the duties as one of his constituents had some corn, and therefore objected to the removal or suspension of the Customs duties. These facts have raised throughout New South Wales a feeling of distrust in regard to the Federal spirit, and caused many people to feel that Federation has not been the benefit that was hoped for. The Commonwealth Government had the same authority to act that the American Government had at the time qf the Chicago fire, and the same authority that has been exercised by the Governments of suffering countries in times past. I was one of those who happened to be a member of the Sydney Lord Mayor’s Drought Relief Committee, and I am certain that if Senator Dobson had seen the letters which came to us he would have admitted that the circumstances were equal to those which .in times of calamity have caused the Governments of other countries to extend assistance to their people.
– It was a matter for the State Government.
– .Sir John See stated that it was the duty of the Federal Government to take action, and the Federal Government stated that it was the duty of the State Government, and we fell between two stools. At all events, there has, I am sorry to say, been created, a feeling of distrust in the administration of the Commonwealth Government.
– The reason for inaction was ‘ that there was a good crop in South Australia.
– The duties had not Been passed. They were being collected at the time by virtue of an executive act of the Government.
– The Prime Minister and other gentlemen told us that as the Tariff had not been then passed, the suspension of the duties could be effected, and if ever a deputation left a Minister with the belief that he was going to give practical effect to his words that deputation did. But, unfortunately, he was probably overruled by others who had not the great sympathy with our views that he had. The Minister, for Trade and Customs Sir William Lyne, said that the drought had been very much exaggerated, and that in times gone by he had known of far more severe droughts. That statement was made after the drought had extended over the long period of seven years, and had been more severe in its effects than any previous calamity of the same kind. I wish to refer to the question of selecting the site for the Federal Capital. I am one of those who took an interest in the formation of the Commonwealth, and I still believe that, although we have difficulties to contend with in the past, and have difficulties to contend with now, hereafter we shall feel as a nation that we did right in federating. I believe that if a vote were to be taken tomorrow on the question of whether NewSouth Wales should enter the Federation there would be a majority of four to one against the proposal. That feeling has to a great extent been created by the want of sympathy with that State during the drought, and it has been accentuated by the fact that the bond which was made by New South Wales with the federating States has not been carried out. The people of New South Wales think that there has been sufficient time for -the Commonwealth, if it had been in earnest, to submit a site for the Federal Capital ‘for the consideration of the Parliament of New South Wales. There is not an honorable senator but knows that during the recent elections the conduct of the press of Victoria and of the press of other capital cities has not been in accordance with the spirit of that agreement. I am speaking from a knowledge of the feeling of a large proportion of the people of New South Wales, when I say that if the settlement of this question is left in abeyance, it will do an inculcable amount of injury to the Federal spirit, and create in the mother State a feeling that she has been hoodwinked and injured by the other States. I feel sure that honorable senators will do their best to faithfully carry out the compact with New South Wales in that regard. That State made, or believes that she made, many sacrifices to enter the Commonwealth, and therefore I hope it will not be long before the promise made in this opening speech by the Prime Minister will be kept, and a site will be chosen for the Federal Capital. I feel that preferential trade is not a question of practical politics to-day. It- will be suffi- cient for this Parliament to take the question into consideration when it has been sanctioned by the people of the United Kingdom. At the present time, we are simply in the dark as to what it means. The Government of the. Commonwealth appears to me to purposely evade the responsibility of taking any definite action or making any proposals to Mr. Chamberlain or to his representatives in the old country. Perhaps that may be policy, but I think that it is not altogether straightforward. If the Ministry has seen fit to cable to England its acceptance of the principles of his doctrine, I think it should go a little further and say how far it is prepared to go. In ‘the matter of the contracts for the building of steam-engines, I could not find that any preference had been shown to Great Britain. I cannot see where any preference can be brought about to Great Britain, unless we practically indicate from our stand-point what preference means. If it means that the Tariff is to remain as it is, and the foreigner is to pay an increased duty, that we shall know where we are. If it means that the Tariff is to remain where it is, and a preference is to be given to Great Britain, while in some isolated cases the duty is not to be raised, then I think we shall know pretty well also where we are. But at the present moment we are entirely in the dark as to what Mr. Chamberlain is prepared to accept or what the Government of the Commonwealth is prepared to give. We should be very careful before we cause any distrust on the part of those who are doing business with us outside the old country. I believe that in the future Australia will find that her great trade will be done with those countries which border on the Pacific, and it would be folly for us to create a coolness between those countries and ourselves in regard to trade before the matter has been most carefully thought over. We have a yearly increasing number of foreign wool and cereal buyers. The great proportion of the trade in Sydney, and I believe, in Melbourne, goes direct to foreign countries, and a large amount of money is saved. I think, therefore, that we should be very careful before we take any action in the matter of preferential trade. With regard to the employment of Chinese on the Rand, I am one of those who think that no fault can be found with the telegram which has been sent to the Government of the Transvaal. I am not altogether in favour of what is termed a white Australia. I have an objection to the introduction of undesirable immigrants, but I would not go any further than that, because I believe that there are many parts of this continent which it would be utterly impossible to develop except by the use of labour not altogether white.
– Has the honorable member ever tried it?
– No, but I have been in Queensland, the northern part of South Australia, and in Western Australia. I have been pretty well through the whole of Australia, and, whilst from the point of view of the late Sir Henry Parkes, I should object to alien races coming in except under special provisions-
– As slaves?
– Not as slaves. If the honorable senator is referring to kanakas no one who knows anything of those people can say that they are slaves. They are anything but slaves. They are far happier here than in their own country, and at the end of their agreement the majority of them prefer to remain here. They are decreasing in number, and I think that there are far worse darkies coming to Australia than the kanakas. It is well known that a certain company imports a very large number of coolies from India to Fiji, and these are very much more degraded than the kanaka. As a matter of principle, I believe it is right that the alien races should be kept apart from the white races. But I believe that we shall be doing ourselves a very great injustice if we do not recognise that in many parts of Australasia there are large and valuable territories which can only be utilized and worked by labour other than white. I contend that under proper regulations not only would Australia be benefited by the employment of coloured labour, but that the white labour of Australia would be very materially benefited. The white labour of Australia can only be healthily increased and profitably used by the development of Australia as a whole, and not by what is termed the development of Australia for a class. I feel certain that the Labour Party of Australia would be all the better if they would consider Australia as a whole, and recognise that there are large areas of country, which can only be developed by labour other than white.
Honorable Senators. - No.
– After having travelled throughout the length and breadth of Australia I can only tell honorable senators honestly what I think. Thev may not be in accord with me. I believe that they honestly hold their own opinions, and I must be allowed to hold mine.
– The honorable senator only thinks it, whereas we know it.
– From the labour point of view I have had as large an education as any member of the Labour Party in the Senate. I have been a labouring man. I have been an employer of a large number of labouring men. I have travelled, as I have said, throughout Australia under conditions that made it necessary for me to inquire into labour, and while I trust I should do nothing that would injure to any extent or in any form any of the Labour Party in New South Wales, or anywhere else, I do ask members of the Labour Party to consider that they can themselves flourish only by what I term the proper development of Australia as a whole. ‘ If we legislate in such a way as to keep out labour, we shall be keeping out the means by which Australia is to be developed in its entirety. This will recoil upon ourselves, and the Labour Party of Australia will suffer more than any one else. I may be wrong, but those are my views.
– Black labour or white?
– What industry is black labour necessary for?
– I do not know what the honorable senator means by the interjection “black labour or white?” Is the Japanese labour black labour ?
– It is coloured labour.
– Are British subjects coloured labour?
– Some of them are.
– Then all I can say is that a lot of people who go to church and chapel and speak of their “ brothers “ there, have a very poor idea of brotherhood.
– The honorable senator would not like to take some of them into a room and eat with them.
– I think that is not argument, but I perfectly agree with the honorable senator in that. At the same time, I do not believe that we must have a white Australia in every essential, or that we should keep out everybody not of the same colour as ourselves under every circumstance and in all conditions. We shall not gain any advantage by such a policy as that.
– How far would the honorable senator extend the exemptions?
– There the honorable senator asks a very difficult and delicate question. The regulations under which kanakas live in Queensland are such that they have practically no intercourse with the white people of Queensland at all. I am sure that Queensland representatives in the Senate will agree that that is a fact.
– It is not a fact.
– Then the honorable senator will, no doubt, be able to point out in what respect it is not a fact, and why it does not apply. At the expiration of their term of agreement the kanakas are deported.
– No, they are not.
– The honorable senator knows that if they are not they should be.
– A late Premier of Queensland was fined for illegally employing a kanaka.
– Then the law should be brought into operation. That is all I can say.
– Why restrict them if they are “brothers,” as the honorable senator says? Why not allow them to engage in every kind of work?
– I thank honorable senators for the patience with which they have heard my few remarks. As this is my first speech in political life, I may say that I feel, at all events .so far, very happy here amongst honorable senators, and I hope that whilst we shall differ in advocating that which we believe to be true, we shall all try to do our best to make the people of the Commonwealth happy and prosperous in their varying conditions, although we may disagree as to the modes by which this can be best effected.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland). “ should not have troubled the Senate at this early stage after my entry into the Chamber were it not for the remarks which have fallen from the last speaker, who, I believe, represents New South Wales, the mother State of the Commonwealth. I think the honorable senator would have been exceedingly wise if he had confined himself in the remarks he had to make to subjects upon which he has sufficient knowledge to enable him to enlighten the members of the Senate. He has directed his chief remarks to a question which affects, the far northern part of the Commonwealth, about which he has very little information, and about which the information he has is not reliable or correct. The honorable senator was exceedingly generous, inasmuch as while pointing out the blessings to be derived from the free im portation and free employment of all sorts of coloured labour, he was prepared to give this labour to us in the north of Queensland whilst he did not want any of it for his own State.
– I want it anywhere where the conditions are natural to it.
– I desire to enlighten the honorable senator with regard to the conditions in North Queensland. It is said that white men cannot live and work in North Queensland, and yet I stand here, after spending twenty-two years in the country as far north as Cairns, and I can hold my own with any Victorian of my age today.
– Has the honorable senator been on the cane-fields?
– I have been on the cane-fields. When I came out as a mere boy, a new chum from the old country, I worked on the cane-fields on the Herbert. I shall be able to supply the honorable senator with a few facts about the employment of coloured labour on the cane-fields before I conclude. The honorable senator referred to the kanaka regulations, and said that if they were faithfully observed, as he admitted they ought to have been, there would have been little injury resulting to the white race, as the kanakas would not be brought into contact with the white people. When the honorable senator . speaks of the kanakas as men and brothers, and appeals to the Christian feeling of the Senate, and to the feeling of men who go to church and regard all human kind as brethren, I must say that his brotherhood is of very little account when he wants to enslave these men, because directly we apply regulations to them which aire not applied to the other citizens of the Commonwealth, they are to that extent slaves. I should like to know what regulations he would apply to the kanakas or to other coloured labourers brought here. Would they be similar to the regulations which the mining magnates of South Africa propose to apply to imported Chinese ?
– No ; the present kanaka regulations.
– I shall try to point what some of these regulations regarding importation of coloured labour should be in the opinion of men like the honorable senator who last spoke. I have in my hand a copy of some of the regulations proposed by the South African mining magnates to govern the importation of Chinese labour into that country.
– They do not apply.
– I shall show that, these men are proposing the imposition of a system of slavery upon the Chinese who are to be imported under regulations similar to those applied to the kanakas. It is very amusing when we hear these people talking of a brotherly feeling for these coloured races to find that the only brotherly love they are prepared to extend to them is the desire to draw them into their arms in order that they may make a little extra profit out of them. We hear them getting up and ‘” prating “ about their loyalty to the Empire, and about the magnificent Englishman. We are told how reliable he is, and how fine a man, but when it is a question of a day’s work to be done, that he may earn a little to keep his wife and family, we find that he is not reliable at all, and that these people must have the kanaka- in his place.
– He is a good man to stop a bullet. -
– I find that these are the regulations proposed for the introduction of Chinese into South Africa-
– I was speaking of the kanaka regulations.
– I desire to point out to the honorable senator that these regulations are very similar.
– I have nothing to do with them. I am not responsible for them.
– I say that they are very similar to the regulations governing the introduction of kanakas, and unless I am ruled out of order, with all due respect to the honorable senator, I shall proceed to tell the Senate what these regulations are like. I find that the first provides that so long as the labourer remains in the colony, he shall be employed only in unskilled labour necessary for the exploitation of minerals. ‘ That is exactly similar to one of the regulations under which kanakas were introduced into this country. It was provided that so long as the term of their engagement continued they should be employed only in tropical agriculture. As their freedom was restrained they were to that extent absolute slaves. Another of these regulations provides that the labourer shall only serve the person introducing him, or any person to whom, after he has obtained a licence, the first person may lawfully assign his right. Under this, the man who first introduces the labourer has for the time being a right over his body,- soul, and all, and can assign him to any other individual. This is pure, unadulterated slavery, and yet here in the twentieth century, and in this young Commonwealth, we find men so opposed to modern thought and proper progress that they are prepared to rise in this Chamber and advocate that we should taint this young Commonwealth by the adoption of a similar system here.
– That is not the agreement made with the kanaka.
– It is exactly in the same terms. The kanaka is hired for three years to the original indentor. He must work for the three years for the original indentor under almost any conditions the employer choses to impose upon him, and the indentor has the absolute right to assign his services to another individual. I have lived in the districts where kanakas are employed in the State of Queensland during the last twentytwo years, and I know what I am saying.
– They sell a plantation and the kanakas on it as part of the chattels.
– A third condition in these regulations is that the end of the term of the contract, the labourer is to be returned without delay, at the expense of the importer to the country of his origin. There are a number of other conditions with which 1 need not trouble the Senate. These conditions are almost identical with those under which kanakas have been introduced into Queensland. I believe the first of them were introduced into that State in 1863, and the people who imported them said they only required their services for a little time, in order to give the sugar industry a start. In 1884, the then Premier of Queensland, Sir Samuel Griffith, who is now Chief Justice of the Commonwealth High Court, introduced and passed a law enacting that after the year 1890 no more kanakas should be imported into the country. Soon afterwards, in response to an outcry by interested persons who were concerned, not for the welfare of their State, but for their own miserable profits, who had absolutely no patriotism, and were prepared to see the whole country populated by coloured aliens, with their thousand and one stinks and abominations, rather than by people of their own colour - in response to their interested outcry, after there had been a coalition between Sir Samuel Griffith and Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, an ex-Premier of Queensland, a Bill was introduced into the Queensland Parliament to extend the time for the importation of the kanakas. The great kanaka apostle of Queensland, who is, at the present time, occupying the position of Speaker of the
Queensland Legislative Assembly, Mr. A. S. Cowley, the representative of a far Northern sugar district, stated, as the records of the Queensland Parliament will show, that all the planters wanted was the right to introduce kanakas for another ten years, and that if they were given that they would be satisfied, arid would ask for nothing more. That period has more than expired, and yet we find them continually making an outcry for the further introduciton of kanakas.
– The number of kanakas is decreasing, as the honorable senator must know.
– I point out that if the number is decreasing it is in no sense due to any effort on the part of the planters. It is due rather to the wise action taken by the first Commonwealth Parliament in its first session. The honorable senator made a great point of the statement that these kanakas, or other coloured labourers, for I believe he included other coloured aliens, as _ well as kanakas, were introduced for a specific purpose, and that so long as they were confined to that specific purpose they could do no harm to the white population. That is a very great mistake, indeed, because, although they were imported for a specific purpose, I maintain that it was altogether wrong to import them for any purpose whatever. The fact of their importation in the first place was a grievous wrong in the sight of God and man, because in a large number of instances they were absolutely kidnapped from their islands. That statement can be verified from the mouths of former Government agents, who are now out of employment in Queensland, and can afford to speak the truth. They can tell how kanakas were decoyed on board the recruiting ships, and how they were enticed by trumpery articles of trade. It was a crying shame that this system should have been tolerated at all, and the sooner this offence against right and justice is remedied the better it -will be for the people of this country. Our case is supported by the Queensland statistics, showing the numbers of kanakas who were killed off in Queensland when we got them here. The statistics show that, although the kanakas imported into Queensland are all adults, and comprise no young children or old men - they are over 17 or 18 years of age when they are imported - yet the death rate among them is three times the death rate amongst the white population. The death rate amongst the kanakas ought to be one-half if the usual proportion of deaths to population were observed. The figures prove that we are killing them off at about six times the normal death rate. And why ? To make extra profits for the sugar planters, the friends of Senator Gray.
– They are not friends of mine. I do not own any plantations, nor do I employ any kanakas.
– The planters are fortunate to have such an advocate in the Senate. He may have shares in the banks which are interested in the plantations, but I do not desire to insinuate anything of that kind. With regard to the competition of the kanakas with the white race, it is an undeniable fact, which is known to everybody who knows anything about Queensland, that kanakas are employed on almost every conceivable work in that State. Not so very many years ago an ex- Premier of Queensland - the late Sir James Dickson, who was one of the first Ministers in this Commonwealth - was fined in the courts of Brisbane for illegally employing a kanaka coachman. Some other gentlemen were also fined for illegally employing kanakas.
– Perhaps it was a free “ boy “ whom Sir James Dickson employed.
– If the “boy” had happened to be a free “ boy,” Sir James Dickson could not have been fined for illegally employing him. It would not have been illegal to employ him on any work if he had been a free “boy.” That is plain to the dullest understanding. When Senator Walker makes a distinction as between free “ boys “ and other “ boys “ he tentatively admits that the other “ boys “ are to some extent slaves.
– There are apprentices.
– In the Cairns district, from which I come - and I believe I have the honour of coming from the furthest northern part of Australia of any member of this Parliament; I have lived there a long time now - to my knowledge kanakas have been employed at all kinds of work, whilst at the same time white men are going round looking for work and cannot get it to do. During the crushing season at the sugar mills in Cairns the kanakas are busily employed in cutting cane. There is work for some white men during that season, in connexion with the mill business - in harvesting the crop, in crushing the cane, and in making the sugar. But directly the crushing is over the kanaka boys are made available for doing general work. The white men who were formerly employed are all sacked, and the kanakas are employed in their places. I have seen kanakas engaged in fettling on the tramways, and in doing all sorts of other work which white men ought to do, while white workmen are humping their swags along the roads, and looking at kanakas engaged in employment that ought to be. theirs.
– What are the inspectors under the Act doing?
– The inspectors are there only as a blind. Until recently the Queensland Government was simply the representative of the classes who employ the kanaka, and was always agreeable- to “ winking the other eye “ at offences against the Act.
– Then what have the labour members been doing?
– We have been conducting a vigorous agitation for the last fifteen years against kanaka labour, with the result that at the last election we swept the polls against this villany.
– If public opinion was behind them the laws would have been carried out.
– The only law which we want to see carried out with respect to the kanaka is a law which will leave him in his own islands, where he was flourishing and happy before we interfered with him. I have known of hundreds of cases of men who illegally employed kanakas at work which was not contemplated by the Act or the regulations. I know of one planter who employed a whole mob of them in the scrub behind Cairns, at an elevation of 2,500 feet, cutting cedar. The ex-Premier of Queensland, Mr. Robert Philp, some twenty years ago employed a whole mob of kanakas in the Atherton scrub, getting cedar, although he knew that he was the last man who ought to have done it.
– Was that not before the regulations were, framed ?
– No, there were regulations which were supposed to be in force ever since kanakas have been imported. Any one who knows anything about Queensland is aware that kanakas have been employed wholesale at work which it was never contemplated that they should be allowed to do when their importation into the State was permitted. They are illegally employed. Take the case of the- Mulgrave Central Mill in the Cairns district as an example. The Queensland regulations regarding kanakas provide that they can be employed only by their indentors upon tropical agriculture; and upon the indentor’s own land. Now the ‘Mulgrave Central Mill is a mill, put up at a cost of about £60,000. The money was lent by the people of Queensland for the purpose of assisting the co-operative farmers, in order to enable the small growers to grow sugar-cane by white labour. After a while they got a concession enabling them to grow cane by any sort of labour. This concession was made to enable them to provide sufficient cane for the mill. The company at that time did not own any land, nor did it own a single stick of cane. Yet the company hired 250 kanakas for over three years, and it is continually evading the law by hiring out kanakas to farmers who have work to do which they want to have done by kanaka labour. That action was done by that company,, deliberately, to get ahead of the Commonwealth legislation, and so as to be sure of a plentiful supply of their beloved kanakas, no matter what the Commonwealth did. I see that the company referred to is taking a contract for clearing away a quantity of scrub, about forty miles away from the mill, on the high tableland behind Cairns. That work will be done by kanakas, although it is work at which kanakas will be illegally employed. These facts are sufficient to show the wholesale manner in which the Act is evaded.
– Does not that prove that, although Queensland joined in the cry for a white Australia, she does not believe in it?
– Queensland does believe in’ the policy of a white Australia. People like the honorable and learned senator who interjects, have maintained that kanakas are absolutely necessary for work in North Queensland. Now, any time during the last ten years, when North Queensland had an opportunity of expressing its opinion, it has returned a majority of representatives opposed to the introduction of any more kanakas, or to the retention of those who are already in the country.
– That is the extraordinary feature of the situation. Yet the law is broken, as though the people were in favour of a black Australia.
– Unfortunately we have a very fraudulent franchise up there. It is a franchise that was maintained entirely in the interests of the wealthy classes, who desire to have a- monopoly of the
Government of the country. Yet, in spite of that, any time since 1893, North Queensland has sent to the State Parliament an absolute majority of representatives who are utterly opposed to black labour.
– - What is the use of a majority if the people do not believe in the underlying principle of the legislation which they advocate? The honorable senator proves too much.
– Senator Dobson says that the people do not believe in the underlying principle of the white Australia policy. He seems to think that because a few of the “ big guns ‘ ‘ employ kanakas wholesale, and deprive working men of the employment which is their due, they are the country. I dispute that. I. say that the few capitalists who are the advocates of the kanakas are not the country, nor are they a majority of the people of the country.
– - I am taking the honorable senator’s facts.
– The facts that ‘ I state are that, in spite of the people having expressed time after time an emphatic opinion upon this matter, kanakas are forced upon the country and employed upon all sorts of work, which is illegal. I have proved that statement. There are some people who while theoretically objecting to the kanaka still employ him, and wish to keep him there. There are likewise dozens of people who, while employing kanakas, object to their presence in Queensland. A small section, again, desire to employ the kanaka to increase their profits, irrespective of any humane considerations. The only reasons they have are their desire to increase their profits, and they are usually hard and callous . and indifferent towards their fellow white subjects who are out of employment, and without the means of obtaining food for their wives and little ones.
– When laws are broken wholesale, it generally means that the majority of the people are opposed to them.
– The fact that these laws were in existence proves the point I started out with, namely, that the employment of kanakas is a sort of limited slavery in- disguise - the insistence on the regulations proves that point up to the hilt. As to whether or not white men can do this work I should like honorable senators to remember that, white men are doing it at the present moment, and the reason that a larger number are not similarly engaged is the illegal employment of kanakas. I have already mentioned the Mulgrave Central Mill.
– Is that a cooperative mill ?
– Then the persons who have shares have their own properties.
– That is so I believe ; but unfortunately they are not always the arbiters of their own destiny, seeing that the banks, who hold the mortgages, dictate terms to them.
– I cannot believe that.
– I may be allowed to explain one direction in which these people are coerced. At the beginning of last crushing season, eleven of the cooperative farmers in this mill, including two of the mill directors, wanted to register as growers of cane by white labour in order to obtain the bonus, and they applied to the mill for permission. What do honorable senators think the reply was ? It was .that the company would permit them to harvest their, cane by white labour, provided that in addition to paying for that labour, they paid their full proportion of the cost of maintaining 250 kanakas whom the company were illegally employing. That reply was set down in black and white, and has been published in every newspaper throughout the State; and I had the honour of sending copies of those newspapers to the Commonwealth Government. Was that coercion or was it not? Was it a fair proposition? The reason was that the company, having illegally employed 250 kanakas, had to find work somehow, and it compelled these farmers to continue growing by coloured laBour. That will give some idea of the methods of coercion employed against people who desire, to carry out the Commonwealth ideal of a white Australia. Another reason why they desired to coerce the farmers was that until the date of the last Federal election, the men who advo.cated the employment of coloured labour in Queensland hoped that if they could continue to bark loud enough and howl long enough they would induce the people of Australia to believe that white men could not do the work - that they would be able to have the whole question reconsidered by the Commonwealth Government and Parliament, and possibly get the legislation reversed. These people tried by every means in their power to place difficulties in the way of the employment of white men, and when white men were engaged there was an endeavour to represent the experiment as an absolute failure in every case. The planters in North Queensland have thrown away their whole case when they admit that a white man can or may do the work ; but they raise the question whether there is enough white men to take the place of the kanakas, and their great argument is the alleged unreliability of the white labourer. The white man is reliable when the country is in a real difficulty - when there is real work to do in the expansion of the Empire the white man is called upon. But when it comes to his earning his daily bread after the fighting is over he finds that he is not wanted.
– Is the white man reliable day after day in the cane field
– As a matter of fact, every other industry of North Queensland finds no difficulty in obtaining sufficient white labour.
– What about the pearlshelling industry?
– I shall deal with that matter presently. At Charters Towers and in other places in the far north, such as Croydon and Chillagoe, there is no difficulty in obtaining a sufficiency of reliable white labour ; indeed, there are far more men looking for work than can find profitable employment.
– That is different work from cane growing.
– In other districts of Queensland, where a large number of agricultural industries are carried on, no difficulties are found in getting sufficient reliable white labour.
– What are the white agricultural labourers paid?
– The pay is rather small, ranging from 1 5s. per week and found in Northern Queensland.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that sugar-planters would not pay that much for white labour ?
– They would not give 5s.
– But one honorable senator has said that the pay ought to be £5 per week.
– And quite little enough.
– There is no agricultural industry in Australia, and very few other industries of any kind, which is so little dependent as the sugar industry on reliable labour. If a crop of wheat, barley, or other cereal is not harvested within a week a large portion is lost, and if it be not harvested within a fortnight it is all lost. On the other hand,if you do not harvest a cane crop until next week, or even next month, there is no loss, and, indeed, the crop may improve.
– The honorable senator forgets that the mills require to be fed every minute.
-Of course, and so do the stomachs of the unfortunate white men who want labour. There are other considerations besides those of trade and profit. In my opinion the well-being of the citizens of the Commonwealth is of quite as much importance as that of profit, although that may be rather an obnoxious doctrine for the honorable senator. In many cases, even if the cutting of the cane is postponed until the next season, it is not all lost; and the crv about the absolute necessity of getting a sufficient supply of reliable labour is absolute bunkum. As to the mills having to be fed, there are quartz mills and other mining machinery, which in some instances represent quite as much capital as a sugar mill, and there is no difficulty in keeping them constantly supplied without employing kanakas.
– That is skilled labour to a great extent-
– It is not skilled labour in the usual acceptation of the term. Although the miner may be recognised as a skilled labourer, he does not come within the same category as an artisan. All labour that I know of requires a certain amount of skill, and I believe that if Senator Dobson attempted to become a cane-cutter he would require some little practice before he got expert.
– It is black-fellows work for all that.
– I totally disagree that any work is black-fellows’ work only. There is nothing dishonorable or degrading in any white man, not even in Senator Dobson himself, undertaking any kind of rough work. There is nothing so dignified in the world as labour.
– We all think so.
– The belittling of labour, or of any kind of labour, isoneof the worst things that can happen in a community.
– I am not belittling labour, but stating an historic fact.
– It is not an historic fact that any kind of work is only blackfellows’ work..
– Cane-cutting is blackfellows’ work. ‘ The PRESIDENT, - I must ask honorable senators not to interrupt, but to allow the speaker to continue his address.
– Any sort of work, even cane-cutting, is dignified. In my opinion it is far more dignified to labour at cane-cutting, or even in driving a night-cart, than to be the man who lives on the profits sweated out of such .labour. The strength of this young nation, which we are trying to build up, will depend almost entirely on the willingness of the people to put their hands to all kinds of employment, and do their best to expand the industries of the Commonwealth. Should the idea be put into the minds of the people that any work is degrading, and fit only for black-fellows, the results will be disastrous, indeed, for the Commonwealth. Let me give a few instances of the “ reliability “ of the kanaka. A few years ago a kanaka, employed at the Mulgrave Central Mill, was so “ reliable “ that in self-defence the overseer had to shoot him dead. I never heard of a case in which the overseer of a white gang had to take such a step in order to protect his life. At the present moment, in the Cairns district, a kanaka is undergoing three months’ imprisonment for attempting the life of an overseer. A little while ago a kanaka was so “ reliable” that when one Sunday morning he spied a little girl coming home from Sunday school he attempted to gratify his lustful passions, and in doing so killed the child, and he was so “ reliable “ that while in gaol he killed two men. These are the sort of men whom Senator Gray desires to fasten on Northern Queensland.
– I never made any statement of the kind ; I never thought of such a thing.
– I could quote inr numerable similar instances.
– Innumerable instances of white criminals might be quoted.
– I am sure that the honorable senator cannot quote a single instance in which a man of a white gang has had’ to be shot dead in order to protect the life of an overseer. With regard to the reliability of the white -men,, in 1902 a number of farmers engaged with the Mossman Central Sugar Mill - the most northern sugar mill in Australia - to grow cane by white labour, and the company engaged a gang of labourers to harvest the cane for them. In this instance it was the company and npt the farmers who engaged the gang of labourers, and their agreement was to supply 50 tons of cane per day to the mill.
Some time . afterwards the company gave them notice that as more cane was registered for the rebate they would like the gang to agree to deliver 70 tons of cane per day to the mill.« The white gang agreed to do so, and continued to deliver increased quantities of cane to the mill. At a later date - the 24th October, I think - the company gave them notice to reduce the quantity of cane to be delivered to the mill to 50 tons per day, and the men did so. That shows conclusively that the men were delivering to the mill more cane than the company required of them. I wish honorable senators to take particular notice of this fact : that on the 24th December the company gave the men notice that as they were not delivering the stipulated quantity of cane to the mill per day their contract should cease, and that the £100 which they had deposited in order to secure the contract should be forfeited. I can produce the certificate of the Customs officer to show that in that week - Christmas day fell in the middle of the week - the men not only supplied the stipulated quantity of 50 tons per day, but supplied 20 tons additional. Although on Christmas Day and Boxing Day it is permissible, and even allowable, for men to go and have a little recreation, yet, so anxious were they to fulfil the conditions of the contract and to give no cause for any complaints, that they worked on those two days, and continued to supply the full quantity of cane. In that week they supplied 250 tons, which was about 20 tons more than the stipulated quantity, and they would have supplied much more, only that on the Saturday when they finished up the contract, they only supplied eleven trucks. They did not cut any cane on that day, but merely cleaned up what had been cut. Yet these are the men who we are told are not reliable, .and cannot do .the work. It is a crying shame for any one. to make an insulting statement of that -kind. I maintain that every one, whether in this Chamber or outside, should be sure of his facts before he casts a stigma on his fellow white colonists by telling them that they are un- : reliable, and cannot do the work required to be done. They are doing the work on every day of the week, they are the men who took their lives in their hands to open up that country. Before ever a capitalist thought of growing sugar-cane in Northern Queensland, the miner went there with his pick and billy, and opened the country in the midst of dangers and difficulties, and yet he is to be insulted by being told that he is not fit to do the work that is being done’ there. I believe that, in a very short time, if the proper steps are taken, the sugar industry in North Queensland will be in a more prosperous condition under the new white labour conditions than ever it was at any period of its history when black labour was employed. I believe that this Parliament acted in an exceedingly wise fashion when it legislated as it did in regard to the sugar industry, and the kind of labour that should be employed. Briefly, it enacted that after a certain period the introduction of kanakas should cease; that at the end of 1906 the kanakas then remaining in the country should be deported ; that a bonus of £2 a ton should be granted to all growers of sugar by white labour; and that there should be an. import duty of £6 a ton on cane sugar and of £10 a ton on beet sugar, and an excise duty of £3 a ton on all sugar grown in Australia. The effect of that legislation’ is to give a man who grows sugar by any sort of labour a protection of £3 a ton - that is the difference between the excise duty and the import duty - and a bonus of £2 a ton to the man who grows sugar by white labour only. I think that in passing that legislation an enormous blunder was made, and one which I should like to see rectified as soon as possible. The blunder consisted in. giving any protection to sugar grown by coloured labour, because I maintain that it is no part of the duty of the white people of Australia to support an .industry, or to afford a protection which will not find work for the men of their own race and colour. Let me point out that were it not for the fact that the sugar industry was protected to the extent of £3 a ton, no matter by what labour the sugar was grown, it could not have been carried on successfully, or with any hope of making a profit, even with an unlimited supply of labour in any portion of the Commonwealth, during the last two years, owing to the cheapness with which sugar could have been imported. Refined beet sugar could have been imported at about ^10 a ton,, and the ordinary 88 per cent, sugar could have been imported from Hong Kong, Singapore, Java, Mauritius, or any other country in which cane is grown largely by coloured labour at £7 10s. a ton. These facts are known to every man who takes an interest in the commercial news of the day. Given an unlimited supply of cheap coloured labour, the planters in Queensland* - or, for that matter, in New South Wales - could not have hoped to compete in the markets df. .the world without the protection afforded by the Tariff. Therefore when honorable’ (senators hear the planters and their interested press “ barrackers “ talking about the ruining of the sugar industry, I would like them to remember that it has been absolutely saved by the legislation of this Parliament. I should like to instance a few cases of the sort of ruin, which, according to these persons, has occurred. “Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth, the shares of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company - the biggest monopoly of its kind in Australia - could have been purchased in any of the capital cities for £20 each; but a week or two ago they were quoted at £39 each. In other words, the shares of the company have almost doubled in value. If that is the sort of ruin which has overtaken the sugar industry, I hope that you, sir, and every other member of the Senate will be ruined -about ten times a week in the same fashion.
– - Does the honorable senator ‘ know that the ‘ company has mills in Fiji, and is building more mills there?
– I do; and I also know that the company has very extensive interests in the Commonwealth.
– They are reducing them.
– I hope that the honorable senator will excuse me for contradicting him, because I know that the company is extending its interests in very many instances. Let me now point out the sort of ruin which is being brought on the farmer who is growing cane. In 1902 the Colonial Sugar Refining Company paid the farmers in the Cairns district 4s. 9d. a ton more for cane than they did before federation, while last year they paid 5s. a ton more for cane than they did before federation. If that is another specimen of the ruin which has been brought on the sugar industry by Federal legislation, I hope it will continue to be ruined’ in the same way. ‘ Let us consider the question from the land-owners’ point of view, and examine the ruin which has been brought on_ the sugar industry. In the Cairns district, land capable of growing sugar with the absolute certainty that it would be taken by the mill could be purchased at £10 ah acre prior to federation, but cannot be purchased’ to-day at ,£25 an acre. I shall quote one instance of the value of land in the district; and I can gives the names to anybody who wishes to verify my statement. A friend of mine in the Cairns district farmed 60 acres of sugar cane with coloured labour for six or seven years and made a very handsome profit. Under the new conditions he took another farm, where he intends to go in for ordinary agriculture at a much higher elevation. He leased his old farm of 60 acres of cane for a term of five years at an annual rental of £250. If that is ruin, I hope that the sugar industry will continue to be ruined in the same way. It is evident that the intention of the Government and the Parliament of the Commonwealth was to make the conditions such that sugar could be successfully produced by white labour, to induce settlement, and perhaps to increase the number of sugar farmers. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the object has met with the approval of the people of the Commonwealth. But there is a danger of that good object being defeated, unless some further action is taken, because, although the kanaka has to go after the end of 1906, the Chinaman is largely taking his place and threatens to be a worse evil in North Queensland than the kanaka. As one who has lived where the Chinese are largely in evidence, I claim to be in a position to. speak with absolute authority on this aspect of the question. If the good intentions of the people of Australia, as enunciated in the legislation of this Parliament, are to be realized, ‘t is absolutely necessary to go somewhat further, because, after the kanaka has gone away a very large number of the Chinese who are already in some portions of the Commonwealth are likely to be induced by interested capitalists to come along and almost monopolise the industry. At the present moment in the Cairns district the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have contracted to take the cane off 3,600 acres of land which is entirely in the hands of Chinese, and with which no white man is in any way connected. One of the local authorities in Cairns is building a tramway at a cost of ,£4,500 from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s mill at Hamilton to their estate, called the Greenhills estate. But after it is built at the expense of the taxpayers of the State it will not serve a single white settler, because every solitary acre of the estate has been leased by the company to Chinese tenants. Of course, the object in building the tramway is to enable the Chinese tenants to cart the cane from the company’s estate to their mill. If something is not done to check this state of affairs, in a very short time no white far- mers will be able to secure any of the sugar lands, and those who have sugar lands will not be in a position to get rid of their cane, because it must be remembered that the capacity of the mills to take cane is somewhat limited. So long as they are supplied up to their capacity they- can do no more. So long as these greedy companies, such as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, who have no desire for anything at all except to increase their profits, and other landowners, can get 6d. per acre per annum more from the Chinese than from the white men, they will continue to lease their land to Chinese.
– Is the honorable senator aware that there has never been a strike amongst the workmen of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company?
– If the honorable senator desires to hear a disquisition from me upon the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and has no objection to remain here somewhat late, I can possibly oblige him. The conditions in the Cairns district are that the sugar lands are gradually falling into the hands of Chinese. The land is being leased to Chinese by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and by other land.-owners as well, and they maintain that they have very much less trouble with Chinese tenants than with white men, because the Chinese are so much more servile “ than are white men. I have said that the mills can only take a_ certain quantity of cane, and so long as they can get it for 6d. per ton less from the Chinese than from white men they will continue to take it from Chinese. Unless something is done to remedy this state of affairs the upshot will be that the very undesirable result will be brought about of allowing the great sugar industry imperceptibly but quickly to fall into the hands of the Chinese. I do not believe that any honorable senator desires that. What is true of the Cairns district in this respect is also true of every other sugar district in Queensland. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is, I believe, the chief instigator in trying to induce Chinese to take up land, because they find that the Chinese are much more servile, and therefore much more easy to deal with than are the white men. So far as I know the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, their policy with regard to their agreements with their tenants and the men growing cane for them, has always been to allow, and even to assist them to make a living, but they will not permit them to make one cent, more if they can possibly help it. The reason is plain. They desire that these men shall be continually under their thumb. Independent men do not suit the Colonial Sugar Refilling company, or any other company whose sole aim is profit. But independent men are wanted in this great country, and we should do everything possible to encourage them. In order that they may be encouraged they should be freed from the degrading competition forced upon them by the growth of sugar by Chinese and other aliens. I should Tike honorable members to remember that, unless something is done to protect white growers of sugar from the competition of Chinese, the result will be that the white men must inevitably be forced out of the sugar industry or compelled to reduce their standard of living to the degraded standard adopted by the -Chinese. Otherwise they cannot afford to pay the same price for sugar land or to sell their cane for the same price. I have given a great deal of thought to the subject, and I say there is only one method by which this competition of the Chinese in the sugar industry can be effectively checked, and by which the good intentions of the Australian people and the Australian Parliament, for the establishment of the industry on a, sound white labour footing can be given effect to. I believe that the Common wealth Parliament should, at the earliest possible moment, increase the excise duty on all sugar produced in the Commonwealth, and make it exactly equivalent to the import duty; and the’ whole of the excise duty should be given back by way of rebate, or bonus, to the men growing sugar by white labour only, and not one infinitesimal fraction of a farthing to those growing cane by coloured labour.
– The honorable senator will be a clever man if he secures any more bonus for white labour. We are contributing thousands now.
– I do not know that the honorable and learned senator is contributing much. It strikes me that if he used a little more sugar it would suit his constitution. It was undoubtedly the intertion of the Australian people and Parliament to protect sugar grown by white labour, and to offer an inducement to them to con tinue to grow sugar by white labour after the kanaka had disappeared. I believe that Australia is true to that ideal still, not with standing Senator Dobson’s kindly remarks
– We cannot afford the revenue. We are losing ^25,000 in Tas mania.
– I think it would be a good job for Tasmania if she lost the honorable and learned senator as well.
– Tasmania does not agree with the honorable senator.
– I am entitled to my little joke as well . as the honorable and learned senator.
– I shall not interrupt again if the honorable senator does not like it, but we have been accustomed to interjections here.
– What about the pearl shelling industry and the labour employed there ?
– It would be better if there were fewer interruptions.
– I am dealing now with the sugar industry. But if Senator Walker is so disposed, I shall later on be prepared to deal with the pearl-shelling industry. I have said that it is undoubtedly the intention of the Australian people, as shown by legislation passed by the Australian Parliament, to protect sugar grown by white labour, and I say that that good intention will be defeated unless something is done to take away all protection from sugar grown .by coloured labour of any kind. Otherwise, after 1906, sugar grown by white labour will have absolutely no advantage over sugar grown by any sort of coloured labour. There are some 15,000 or 20,000 Chinese in the Northern Territory.
– There are not more than 2,000.
– I am pleased to hear it, because-the late Premier of Queensland, Mr. Robert Philp, made that statement in Cairns some time ago. -He said there were about 20,000 over there, and there was no reason why they should not be brought over to North Queensland to grow cane. There is a very large number of Chinese already in the Commonwealth, a large number already engaged in the sugar industry, and a very large number available at any time to further engage in it. I will ask” what part is it of the business or duty of the miners of Western Australia, the miners and agriculturists of Victoria and New South Wales, or even the miners within, twenty miles of a sugar plantation, to pay an extra price for sugar, in order that it may be successfully grown by Chinese? I take it that it was never the intention of the white people of the Commonwealth that the generous protection afforded by them should be given to the products of coloured labour of any kind. I hope that honorable members will take this matter seriously into consideration, and that they will remember that the good intentions of the Commonwealth Parliament are being defeated, inasmuch as protection is afforded to the product of an industry which, in many cases, is carried on almost exclusively by coloured labour. It is unfair to the white population of the Commonwealth that they should be asked to give protection to a product of that sort. On the other hand, a great industry like the sugar industry, which has been built up in many cases under great difficulties and hardships, deserves that something should be done to enable it to be successfully carried on, as I have not the slightest doubt it can be, by people of our own race and colour working under proper conditions. That is being done at the present time in the northern portion of Australia, and I have no doubt it can be done for all time. With all respect to those’ who have enacted the existing legislation, an amendment is necessary if the evil to which I have referred is to be rectified. I believe that we should take away all protection from sugar grown by coloured labour of any sort, and that we should give all the protection we can afford to sugar produced by white labour only. I believe that if this is done the sugar industry in Northern Queensland and throughout the Commonwealth, where sugar can be grown, will enter upon a new phase of prosperity, which will be of advantage to the whole of the Commonwealth, inasmuch as we shall see the land smiling with waving cane-fields, amongst which will be found the happy homes of settlers engaged in the industry, and rearing children calculated to make this a great nation, and to assist in bringing this Commonwealth to its legitimate destiny. Senator Walker asked me to say why white men are not engaged in the pearl shelling industry. I remind the honorable senator that years before any of the coloured races were engaged in that industry at Thursday Island, white men were successfully engaged in it. That is a fact which I am sure the honorable senator will not deny.
An Honorable Senator. - And other people ran them out of it.
– Notexactly. Other people did not run them out of it. It was a very profitable business, indeed, in the early stages, when the white men worked it’ with their own boats. But when the capitalists came along and saw that it was a good thing, they thought they were entitled to a share in it, and they bought out the original boat-owners at a good price. These men went away and bought other boats, and then engaged in the industry again. The capitalists, in order to secure a monopoly, of the industry, bought them out again. Over and over again white men have since tried to take up the industry, but inasmuch as all licences have been issued to boats employing coloured labour, and the beds have been almost depleted by the work of boats manned by coloured crews, they have found it difficult to do so. Coloured crews and divers . have been engaged by the capitalists, not because they are better divers or fishers than are white men, but because their work is cheaper. Cheapness is the god that all these men are prepared to fall down and worship. Cheapness is with them before every other consideration, and I am sorry to learn that the idea of cheapness seems to find so much favour with Senator Walker.
– I believe in giving men work for which they are suited.
– White men have done this kind of work.
– They cannot get white men for the work.
– They cannot get white men at the wages for which they can get a black-fellow to work. So long as they can get a black man to do the same kind of work at a rate1 per cent, cheaper than that for which a white man will do it, so long will these people give the preference to the black man. I believe they would give the preference to the coloured man even if he cost more, for the simple reason that they want a man who will be service. They do not want independent men. They find the coloured crews much more servile than are white crews, and they know also that a coloured crew is not so likely to “ peach “ upon them if they act illegally by taking shell from prohibited beds, or shell that is not of the regulation size, as they have done times without number.
– Does the honorable senator object to aboriginals doing pearlshelling work?
– Certainly not. I think that the aboriginals of Australia have quite as good a right to work here as anybody else. But I would point out that those people who are always advocating that the aboriginal should be allowed to work invariably advocate that he should be allowed to work at very low wages. There was a great outcry in Queensland some time ago about aboriginals not being permitted to be employed in the mail services of the Commonwealth. I do not know whether there .was any official correspondence on the subject, but there was a great outcry in the newspapers. One day I put the proposition to those people who were championing the case of the aboriginal - on the ground, I believe, that the Commonwealth contracts contained a rninimum wage clause - “ If you employ aboriginals, are you willing to pay them the minimum wage when working on the mail changes, or in other ways ?” But they would not think of doing that. Their desire was to be able to employ the aboriginal for’ nothing, and to flog him if he did not do their bidding properly. That is what I have seen done in various parts of Australia. The sole desire of people who express such great anxiety for the welfare of the aboriginal and the kanaka, and their other beloved coloured brothers, seems to me to be that they shall be allowed to employ them as cheaply as they can, to work them as long hours as possible* and under as bad conditions as are permitted, .in. order that they may be able to increase their own profits, whilst posing as leaders of civilization, and as benevolent philanthropists who are desirous of finding work for the poor black folks.
Debate (on motion by Senator Henderson) adjourned.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following papers : -
Regulations under the Immigration Restriction Act.
Papers relating to the promotion of Percy Howe in the Post and Telegraph Department.
Return of persons refused admission to the Commonwealth, persons who passed the prescribed tests, and persons admitted without being asked to pass the education test, during the year 1903.
Senate adjourned at 10.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 March 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19040303_senate_2_18/>.