2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
When does the Government propose to take over the Department of Quarantine?
– The matter has not been decided by the Cabinet.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the Honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Will the Government, if it has no objection, cause to be placed upon the table of the Senate copies of all documents relative to its negotiations with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company in connexion wilh the purchase’ of the Tasmanian Cable, including any opinion or opinions that may have been taken as to whether the cost ofsuch a purchase would be new or transferred expenditure ?
– It is not considered to be desirable to make the documents in connexion with this matter public
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate or of a Committee of the whole Senate on sitting days other than Fridays be suspended from 6.30 p.m. to 7.45 p.m., and on Fridays from 1 p.m. to2 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Staniforth Smith) agreed to -
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Matheson on account of urgent private business.
Debate resumed from 9th March (vide page 288), on motion by Senator Trenwith -
That the following address be presented . to His Excellency the Governor-General : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General -
May it please your 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.
– Notwithstanding the many objections which have been urged against the continuance of a full dress debate on the opening’ speech in the Federal Parliament, as has been the custom in the States Parliaments, I believe that it is a good practice. It has its abuses, but it, undoubtedly, has its uses. It affords really the only opportunity which is available to honorable senators to offer any criticisms, or to ventilate any grievances, regarding the administration of the Government during the recess. That is a very necessary safeguard which ought to be preserved; it protects the rights of honorable senators. At the same time, I believe that the speech which, is placed in the mouth of the Governor-General should contain the whole of the programme on which the Government are prepared to stand or fall during. the session, and that it is notpermissible to place in that speech as a statement of fact a matter which is in dispute between the contending parties in the two chambers. Every statement in an opening speech ought to be an indication of the intentions of the Government, and should not set out as a fact something which is in dispute between parties. I shall have occasion, at a later stage, to find fault with the way in which the opening speech has been framed. I do not agree with a number of honorable senators who have complained about the conduct of the recent elections. In my opinion, the officers in the Electoral Department are deserving of all the censure which honorable senators can heap upon them: But, as regards the officers who were engaged in the active work of conducting the elections, we can give them no praise too high for the excellent work they . did under most extraordinary difficulties. Whatever difficulties had to be overcome, or inconveniences to be suffered during the contest, were absolutely dne to- the incompetency of the officials at the head of affairs in Melbourne. Travelling through the backblocks in Queensland, as I did during the contest, I teamed after nomination day that returning officers who had to cover- an area of hundreds of miles, and to appoint assistant officers, who in their turn had to travel hundreds of miles, not only did not receive the instructions from the Department, or the corrected electoral rolls, but did not even receive the ballot-boxes until the last moment. It is all the more creditable to the officials who undertook the active work that, notwithstanding the difficulties which were placed in their way by the Department, they carried out their duties to the satisfaction of every one concerned. The police are also deserving of high praise for the magnificent work which they did in the western country of Queensland in a difficult month of the year. From personal observation, I can say that Mr. Balfe, the returning officer for Kennedy, performed his work as. well as it was possible for any human being to do, despite the difficulties which were placed in his way ; he is a credit not only to the Postal Department, but to the Public Service of the Commonwealth. Last evening we heard a long, learned, and sometimes laboured discourse on various topics from Senator Dobson, in which he conclusively proved that he returns to the new Parliament as he left the old one - a confirmed free-trader and protectionist. He has demonstrated once more to us that he can change bis opinions on all subjects except two -more rapidly than any dude can change his necktie;. By a strange quality in his disposition he is consistent in his uncompromising Imperialism, his unflinching and aggressive antagonism to Australian nationalism, and in his unrelenting hostility to the aspirations of the Labour Party. These are about the only two things on which he does show any consistency. I feel quite certain that his Imperialism will meet with its due reward some day. I hope that it will not take the form of a petty signed photograph, such as some distinguished persons in Victoria have received.- If the advice of the Labour . Party is taken in the Court of St. James, we shall have the pleasure of greeting at least Baron Dobson of Hobart.
– There are worse things than strawberries.
– The honorable and learned gentleman has started his career in the second Parliament of the Commonwealth with an exhibition of uncompromising, bitter, and unrelenting hostility to the Labour Party.
– Surely not bitter ?
– Bitter, so far as a gentleman can be who has a’ kindly, generous, cheerful disposition - perhaps I should not say cheerful, because’ in his happy moments the honorable senator always looks sad and sorrowful.
– I am often very cheerfuh
– I am quite, sure that the honorable and. learned senator’s smile woufd make the most stony hearted weep tears ; even when he laughs there is a sob in his laugh. His uncompromising hostility to the Labour Party only concerns us for this reason’: that it echoes the feeling of a large number of persons outside, who manifest the same unreasoning hostility, without being able- to show any justification for it. Last night he said that one of the very great objections which he had to the Labour Party was that we were believers in the principle of compulsory arbitration ; that he believed in arbitration provided that it was not compulsory. And in favour of his contention he adduced ‘ the arguments which he used in the. Temperance Hall in Melbourne, when he was .flattened out by Mr. Tom Mann, and acknowledged his defeat before the audience. Notwithstanding that experience, he repeated here last night, in the coolest possible manner, the tale that he swallowed when Mr. Tom Mann beat him. I have no wish to anticipate the discussion on the second reading of the Arbitration Bill. The Labour Party feel so strongly on the principle of compulsory arbitration that if it involves the turning out of the Government and the putting in of the Opposition, or another party, or if the Government are willing to make it the main issue on which to go to the country, we shall be prepared for either contingency, and quite ready, if necessary, to face a double dissolution.
– It has all been before the electors, and what is the use of talking about a dissolution?
– The honorable and learned senator laboured (his subject for something like half an hour last evening, with the object of showing the iniquities of the Labour Party, because they were in favour of compulsory arbitration. He presented a somewhat melancholy spectacle when, as a lawyer, he stated that he did not believe in the settlement of disputes by a court. For my own part, I do believe that when disputes take place which are liable to injure people who were not directlyconcerned in them, it is only a commonsense thing to set up a legally constituted tribunal which will settle them to the satisfaction of the disputants and for the benefit of the general public. The other question upon which the honorable and learned senator attacked the Labour Party was that of immigration. He did his level best to chastise the Labour Party as naughty children, because they were opponents of an immigration policy. He pointed out what everybody knew, that we have in Australia an immense territory and boundless resources, and that this is one of the wealthiest spots on the face of the earth. He said that the only remedy for the present condition of things is unrestricted and unlimited immigration ,to populate the country. But this is precisely the same senator who is the author of the “ Divorce Made Easy Bill.” That is another of his Yes-Noisms.
– The Bishop has made him drop that Bill.
– He may have dropped it as a matter of policy. I wish to point m 2 out the absolute inconsistency of the honorable and learned senator in his two capacities - one as chiding parent to the Labour Party, and the other as author and advocate of the “ Dobson Divorce Made Easy Bill.” I should like to point out to Senator Dobson and to other honorable senators who may agree with him in his condemnation of the Labour Party, that we are not opposed to an immigration policy. It is an absolute misconception or misunderstanding of our position, if it is not a slander, to say that we are opposed to an immigration policy. But I will tell you, sir, what we are opposed to : We are opposed to any scheme based on the lines of the old States immigration policies. We are opposed to any Government action for the introduction of immigrants on the old lines under which there was no discrimination, and anybody who was willing to come to Australia was brought to our shores. No inquiries were made as to their suitability to be citizens of Australia. They were brought out and dumped into the nearest immigration depot and left to their own resources. They were brought out from thek own country into a strange land, and then, so’ far as the Government were concerned,’ they were recognised as strangers. I am sure that the Attorney-General must know that we have had a very painful experience of immigration of this kind in Queensland. People introduced in that manner are not the class of immigrants who are afforded an opportunitv of developing the resources of this country. They do not get into the country districts, but remain mostly in the cities and help to swell the already overflowing unemployed market. They become active competitors with those who are already in the country, with the result that the standard of living and the rate of wages are absolutely lowered by their presence.
– That is what Senator Dobson wants.
– Probably that is what he wants. There is a very large, influential and wealthy class throughout the Commonwealth, who think that the very ideal’ of civilization - and it certainly is so for them - is to have five men competing for one man’s job. We, as a party, say “ No “ to that policy.
– Can the honorable senator enlighten us as to the Queensland system, under which immigrants were brought out on the nomination of persons already in the country ?
– That is a system of immigration that commends itself to me, and to many of my friends. But I am talking of cases where Government money has been given to immigration agents in the old country, who did not care where the immigrants came’ from, or what their character was, or whether they were capable of developing the resources of Australia or not. So long as they got them here they were satisfied to draw their salaries. The immigrants were dumped into the immigration depot and left to become competitors in the congested labour market. We do not favour any such immigration policy as that. We are deadly opposed to it. We are determined to fight any resurrection of that system for all we are worth. I am perfectly willing to assist the Government with all the vigour of which I am capable in a sound policy that will bring to this Commonwealth a class of immigrants who will help us to develop our natural resources. But take the condition of Victoria at the present time. One gets into a train at Spencer-street, and one is not travelling twenty minutes before the train goes through a stretch of magnificent land without seeing a solitary’ soul living on it. One can travel right through this State and find some of the richest land in Australia occupied only by a few sheep - land which, under a proper system of cultivation, would be able to keep thousands of industrious families in a state of affluence. The earth hunger in Victoria is so bad that people even go away to the mallee country, to the place of perpetual thirst - a place where one can hardly keep a goat, even in good seasons. In the trying seasons that sometimes come farmers who have carefully cultivated a crop find that a sandstorm will come along, whereupon not only the crop but their fences disappear under a sandbank, and they are lucky if their very houses are not buried. We are sending settlers away into those uninhabitable places whilst there are millions and millions of acres within easy reach if only proper arrangements were made to allow settlement to take place. While it will be generally admitted that, as a general proposition, we, as a Commonwealth, have nothing to. do - or, at any rate, very little to do - with the land policy of any of the States, still I think we have some power in dealing with the land question of the Commonwealth as a whole. If an intelligent and vigorous policy were pursued, and we could offer inducements to the best class of persons in Great
Britain, in America, and on the Continent of Europe, we should be able to get them without trouble, and they would be a blessing to us. But the immigrants who came out in the olden days were, in my opinion, more of a detriment to our progress than otherwise. Let me tell the Senate what was the result of a vigorous policy of land settlement in Queensland. The Darling Downs is undoubtedly the choicest spot in that State. It was taken up by large estates.
– It was said years ago that it was impossible to grow wheat on the Darling Downs.
– Yes, just as it was said that a white man could not live in’ Northern Queensland ; but as a matter i’f fact the champion white man in this Senate, Senator Givens, has been living for twenty years in Cairns, and his appearance is a living refutation of that lie. This Darling Downs country was held by a few large land-holders. The Queensland Government took steps to settle it. I am pleased to say that I was never prouder of any political act than I was in following the Government on that occasion. They passed an Agricultural Land Purchase Act, and they re-purchased estate ‘after estate on the Darling Downs, with the result that they drew settlers from Victoria, from Netar South Wales, from South Australia, and even from Tasmania, to go and settle there. Where some years ago there was only a great plain with a few sheep grazing here and there, the country is now (Jotted with thriving settlements, every one of which is doing well. The unfortunate thing is that in that Act Parliament did not go far, enough. They did not insert a provision whereby they could compel land-owners to deal with the Government. The Government can only, deal with land that is submitted to them.
– In some cases the Government have paid too high a price.
– Notwithst a nd in g that the Government paid in some instances 50 per cent, more than the valuators’ estimate of what the land was worth, the policy has been a succesSj and a good business transaction for, the Government. It has undoubtedly proved of very great benefit indeed to the country. Another experiment in this line that was tried in Queensland was in connexion with the sugar question. As an old banker, Senator Walker will know that under the old .large plantation system the growers never succeeded, even with the help of their dearly beloved brother, the kanaka, in making cane cultivation pay. The banks had the growers tied hand and foot. The Queensland Government came to the rescue and erected out of public moneys central mills. The unfortunate thing is that they did not go one step further, and erect a State sugar refinery, and thus take out of the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company the absolute monopoly of the refinement of sugar. The result- of what they did was, however, to establish in the sugar districts a large number of prosperoussmall sugar-growing farmers who are doing well. Those two experiments have been thoroughly successful in Queensland. When the Government had started those experiments they invited and they got settlers from all the rest of Australia. If the Commonwealth were to inaugurate a similar policy it would be able to get the very best class of settlers, and those who are most essential to us, from other parts of the world, for the development of our wonderful resources.
– The Commonwealth has no power to purchase land for settlement.
– It is a matter of negotiation. We certainly have power under the Constitution to put pressure upon those who have the control of the lands of the States. That is another question ; and if the Commonwealth Government had a mind to do it they would soon find out how to do it. If they made an earnest attempt I do not think they would find the Labour Party backward in giving them all the assistance they could possibly expect in that direction. But the tendency throughout the States of Australia is not to encourage either those who were born in the country or who come into the Commonwealth to settle here. There is no encouragement whatever. Quite the contrary. We find that the very class of settlers whom we want, and the native born, who are already here, are treated so badly that they are leaving as fast as they can for the purpose of trying to get better terms elsewhere. Instead of doing something to attract settlers of the right kind to Australia, we have been allowing Victorian settlers to go to South Africa. What were the South African conditions? No Australian was allowed to land in South Africa unless he had a certificate. He could not obtain that certificate unless his character was guaranteed by some reputable person. Even then he could not land unless he had £100 in his pocket before he left these shores. Such were the terms imposed by the British authorities in South Africa to induce our best class of settlers to leave the Commonwealth.
– Chinamen can go to South Africa free.
– But the Jews are dominant just now. After they got there intending settlers , were not allowed to leave the port of Durban, and numbers of them have had to sit down there and see their money wasting away day by day. Many of them are hungering to come back and take up their old avocations in Australia. It would not be altogether an unwise move on the part of the Commonwealth Government if they were to pay the passages of these, families back to Australia. I hold that one native born Australian, who knows our country and is insured to our climate, is better than two of the best imported men we can possibly get. There are thousands of Australians in South’ Africa who went away with their certificates and their , £100, and who would now be only too willing to come back. If the Government desire an immigration policy let them start it at once by paying the passages of these people to Australia.
– Would the Labour Party approve of that?
– The Labour Party would undoubtedly approve of it. I am endeavouring to inform honorable senators that the Labour Party have no objection to an immigration policy, but they do object to an immigration policy of a particular description. The men to whom I refer are. Australians, and the best type of men we could get to settle in Australia. If they were afforded facilities to return to this country I believe they would’ do so. Notwithstanding the fact that the elections are all over, it is still alleged that Australia is an uninviting place for immigrants, because of the existence of the Labour Party, and because the members, of. that party have a strong objection to any Britisher coming here, as instanced by the case of the six hatters, the desirability of an immigration policy is being used as a political weapon against the Labour Party. ‘ Senator Mulcahy made a special reference to the six hatters. The honorable senator only echoed Senator Dobson, and I am glad that honorable and learned senator has a colleague in the Senate in repeating the parrot cries which may be read morning after morning in the daily press. When these honorable senators read any statement in a newspaper they come to the conclusion that it is an absolute fact, and cannot be contradicted. The other day I noticed that in dealing with this question the Melbourne Argus stated that on every occasion an explanation was made either by a member of the Labour Tarty or by a member of the Government, and this resembled a continual washing of hands. I point out that whilst that, at all events, presupposes that our hands are clean, the difficult)’ about the Argus, and those who agree with it, is that they never wash their hands, and they have been so long dirty that if they started to clean them now they would be entitled to an old-age pension before they struck the skin. I would point out to Senator Mulcahy that the six hatters were never excluded from Australia. No effort was made to exclude them. This Parliament - whether in its wisdom or unwisdom, I care not - passed a law requiring compliance with certain provisions by those who came to the Commonwealth under contract. The six hatters came to Australia under contract, and until they complied with the provisions of the Commonwealth law they were kept in Sydney Harbor. The moment they did comply with its provisions, and satisfied the authorities that they had done so, they were entitled to land, and they were landed. That, however, is not what I complain of in the way in which Senator Mulcahy and those who agree with him continually treat this question. It would be as well if some of these people were to take a diet of fairness and frankness; a little honesty for a change would be as beneficial to them as is a change of air to a sick man.
– Is honesty confined to the Labour Party ? Have they a monopoly of it?
– -It would certainly appear that on this particular question honesty is confined to the members of the Labour Party and of the Government.
– - I hope ‘he honorable senator is not imputing dishonesty to members of the Senate.
– No; I am only giving a little advice, though, like a lawyer or a doctor, I do not ‘charge for it. I am supplying a free prescription for political health. Everv time these people mount a platform to talk to the public about the six hatters through Hansard or through a newspaper, they do so in such a way as to convey the impression that no one can enter a port in Australia or land upon its shores without being subjected to certain provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act.
– I am sure I never conveyed that impression.
– The honorable senator conveyed that impression to my mind distinctly. These people never take the precaution of pointing out that, even though the six hatters were detained, many thousands of persons are admitted to the Commonwealth without question. Only the ether day the Vice-President of the Executive Council laid upon the table of the Senate a paper showing that 44,000 people had entered the Commonwealth without question. That side of the case was never put by the individuals to whom I refer. They are eternally bringing up this bogy of the six hatters, and, to a large extent, they have designedly, I believe, allowed it to be inferred that desirable settlers will not be admitted to Australia, except under a strict administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. The whole thing is fiction, and it is neither a proper nor an honest way cif referring to the operation of that Act. I do not wish, at this stage, to say any more upon the immigration question, but I emphasize the fact that the Labour Party is not opposed to an immigration policy, and that, on the contrary, they are prepared to do all they can to assist the present or any other Government to introduce the right class of settlers to assist us in developing the great resources of Australia. I think that I know as much of Australia as most honorable senators, and no one can travel through the rich tracts of very valuable country that we have without it being brought home to him that the mere handful of people now . in this Commonwealth is entirely incapable of fulJy developing our resources. But we should not take money from the taxpayers to introduce a class of immigrants who will remain in the towns, and who will only make bad worse, instead of assisting us to develop Australia. We are prepared to go to any length to introduce the right class of immigrants who, when they come here, will settle upon our land and assist us to make Australia what it ought to be. Passing from ‘ that subject, I desire to touch, as briefly as possible, upon a matter of very great interest to the State of Queensland.
Reference is made in the Governor-General’s Speech to the failure of the Government to secure an acceptable tender for the mail services. I notice that the Prime Minister, in another place, has made an additional statement, to the effect that another offer has been received and that the matter, is still under the consideration of the Government. So far so good ; but both these statements are unsatisfactory to Queensland. Prior to the closing of tenders, representatives of Queensland in the Senate and in the House of Representatives waited upon the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, to urge upon him that in all fairness it should be a condition of any contract made that at least one port in Queensland should be made a port of call. We requested that failing that the Government would call for alternative tenders. So far as I know, nothing whatever has been done in the matter. Tenders were called for, and Queensland’s interests were not considered, notwithstanding the fact that the Attorney-General of the Cabinet is a representative of that State.
– We did call for alternative tenders for Brisbane.
– I am hearing that news for the very first time.
– I proclaimed it all over the place.
– Very well, I will say no more about that. The position at present is that if the Government propose to call for fresh tenders, representatives of Queensland are prepared to deputationize them again to urge the claims of that State ; but if the Prime Minister’s suggestion that the offer by cable is to be taken into consideration by the Cabinet and a contract closed without consultation with Parliament, I, as a Queenslander, enter my protest at once, unless provision is made in the contract recognising the claims of Queensland to have at least one port in that State made a port of call. It must be recollected that the carriage of mails is not the only consideration. The important question of the transport of perishable products is involved, and it is a monstrous thing to ask the State of Queensland to contribute annually for the purpose of subsidizing boats calling at ports in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia when not one port in the former State will be benefited by Ithe arrangements made. What advantage can we in Queensland derive from the subsidy if the boats are not to call at any Queensland port? It is absurd to suggest that we shall ‘ derive any benefit from the mail service. The only benefit we could derive would be by the boats calling at a Queensland port, and so affording us an opportunity to- develop our trade in perishable products.
– And it would cost very little money to provide for that.
– As the honorable senator says, it would cost very little money. _ It must also be remembered that, so far as a mail service is concerned, the States of Queensland and New South Wales subsidize a line of mail steamers for the benefit of all the rest of Australia, and they have never asked Victoria or South Australia to contribute a solitary penny towards the. cost. In the circumstances, we are, in Queensland, entitled to a little better treatment than we have received in the past, or than we are apparently about to receive in the future. If the cable bargain is closed without consultation with Parliament, I can assure the Government that they will hear more about it from representatives of Queensland, and from fair-minded representatives from the other States. I have already mentioned that I am strongly of opinion that the , Government are not entitled, in the address they hand to the Governor-General to read to Parliament, to state as a fact that which is in dispute between different parties in Parliament. I refer now to paragraph 5, which makes a reference to preferential trade. I cannot but refer to the remarkable battle-cry of “ Fiscal Peace and Preferential Trade.” To me that is an absolute contradiction in terms. It is like the mildmannered Methodist saying - “ Peace, peace, my boy,” and immediately afterwards turning round and saying - “ Come outside and put them up.” If we are going to have preferential trade, how are we to have fiscal peace? Surely the whole of. the differences between the protectionist on the one hand and the free-trader on the other, and the fair-trader in between the two rabid sections, must be raised, and where then will be fiscal peace ?
– The paragraph does .not say anything about fiscal peace.
– That may be so, but the battle-cry of the Government during the late election was - “ Preferential Trade and Fiscal Peace.” I am inclined to think that the Prime Minister, like the lamented poet Pope, is ever willing to sacrifice sense for sound. He got hold of a fine-sounding phrase, and forgot about the sense of.it. “ Preferential trade “ is only another term for the fiscal issue that has originated in another portion of the Empire. As a matter of facti I am inclined to think that it has no right to appear under any guise whatever in the Governor-General’s Speech to this Parliament. I do not approve of this paragraph, and I deprecate the message that’ was sent by Mr. Deakin to Mr. Chamberlain - not from Mr. Deakin to Mr. Chamberlain ;.’s individuals, but from Mr. Deakin as the Prime Minister of Australia, and on behalf of the whole of the people of Australia to Mr. Chamberlain as the leader of the preferential trade campaign in Great Britain.
– Is the honorable gentleman against preferential trade?
– Will Senator Playford tell me what preferential trade is?
– It would take me too long to do so now.
– The honorable senator says that it would take him too long, because it takes a long time to invent things. He does not know, and neither the Commonwealth Government nor the members of the Commonwealth Parliament know, what is meant by preferential trade. Nothing in .the nature of a proposal has been laid before us. We have had merely the phrase “ preferential trade,” and to that the phrase-maker of the Government has added the words “ fiscal peace.” I object to the Prime Minister so using his position, and, if it were not against the Standing Orders, I would say, so abusing his position, as without warrant, or reasonable justification, to commit the whole of the people of Australia to a (particular issue that is dividing political parties- in the mother country. The message of the Prime Minister of Australia is being used on every platform in England, and - is quoted as the expressed wish of the people of Australia. It is a misuse of words, it is a slander on the people of Australia, and it is absolutely untrue to say that it is the message of Australia to the people of England as to how they shall cast their votes when the next election for the House of Commons takes place. I repeat that in my opinion, the Prime Minister had no right, upon a contentious matter of this description, to commit the whole of the people of Australia to a particular issue when he knows that his strongest and most numerous opponents are not with him upon that issue. From the point of view of the members of the Labour Party, I feel that it is very misleading, and is a great hardship to us. It would appear from that message, and from the fact that it is to some extent confirmed by the paragraph in this opening speech, that even the Labour . Party of Australia, without knowing what the proposals are, but merely seduced by the sweet-sounding phrase “preferential trade,” are in favour of the policy, thus prejudicing the labour vote at the forthcoming elections in the old country. It is a very great pity that .there are not some clear and definite means of undoing the mischief which the Prime Minister has done, and which he was not warranted in doing. I feel- that if any proposal were made to condemn this paragraph the Government would immediately rally their forces and say that it was equivalent to a censure, and the vote which would be cast would not be a vote for or against preferential trade, but a vote for or against the Government, losing sight of the real reason why the amendment was moved. It was very unfair, indeed, on the part of the Government to confirm the message of the Prime Minister by a paragraph in the opening speech. I consider that on this question of preferential trade, and the deliberate action of the Government, honorable senators ought to express their opinions fully and freely. All I am concerned about is that neither the people of Australia nor the various sections in this Parliament shall be pledged by any action of the Government, either by a despatch or by a paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech, to the principle pf preferential trade. We ought to have placed in our hands definite proposals which could be debated on their merits. We ought not to be carried away by a mere phrase. The leader of the Labour Party in another place put the case very clearly when he said that this Parliament ought not to interfere in the slightest degree with the agitation for preferential trade until the people of Great Britain have had an opportunity of expressing their views, when of course a proposal could be sent to us in a concrete form to be considered and dealt with. Holding this view and feeling very strongly on this question, I move, as a rider to the Address in Reply-
That the following words be added : - But this Senate does not agree with any expression upon the question of preferential trade until definite proposals have been submitted to us by the Imperial Parliament.
– Does, any honorable senator second the amendment? If not, it cannot be put.
Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia).I beg to second the amendment.
– Senator Dawson is aware that if such an amendment were submitted in another place it would be taken as a motion of no confidence. Of course we cannot take such an amendment if it is carried in this Chamber as a vote of no confidence. Certainly we shall oppose the amendment. I think that when my honorable friend has heard my statement with regard to the question of preferential trade and the position in which it stands, he will see that there was not the slightest necessity for , him to move the amendment. When the Government of Great Britain intimate what preference they propose to give to the Colonies, it will be time enough for us to state what preference, we propose to give to Great Britain. That is exactly the position which the Government has taken up.
– Oh, no !
– Unmistakably it is. We are in favour of preferential trade.
– What is it?
– We are in favour of the people of Great Britain altering their Tariff in a direction which will give preference to our products; and- we say that, until they tell us what preference they intend to give us, we are not in a position to say what preference we shall be able to give them. There is one question which we miss on the present occasion, and that is the fiscal question. I feel very much for Senator Pulsford under the circumstances, because we know how he made that question peculiarly his own, how he quoted reams of figures to us, and enlightened us on many occasions. I am afraid that since the leader of the Opposition in another place has buried the fiscal question, at all events for the term of this Parliament, my honorable friend’s occupation is gone, unless, of course, he can take up some other question, and enlighten the Senate on it equallv as well as he did on that question. I propose to base my statement on a few notes which I made when the mover and seconder of the Address in Reply were speaking. I have to congratulate both those honorable senators on the very admirable speeches which they delivered. The first point which was made by Senator Trenwith was in connexion with the Treasurer’s proposal to take over the States debts. He approved of the proposal, but would provide for a sinking fund by means of a land tax. On the other hand, Senator Pearce would provide for the payment of old-age pensions by means of a land tax. Whether the land tax should be used to provide a sinking fund or to pay old-age pensions is a question which will have to be fought out by a few honorable senators. Section 105 of the Constitution provides, in the first place, that the Commonwealth may take over the Statesdebts. I infer that we should have to obtain the consent of the States before the power could be exercised. The section provides, in the second place, that the debts which may be taken’ over shall be those which existed at the establishment of the Commonwealth ; and, in the third place, that the States debts shall be taken over on an indemnity given by the States to the Commonwealth. Since 1901 the States have borrowed twenty or thirty millions sterling. If we decided to take over the whole of the States debts - and that is certainly the best thing which could be done in the circumstances - it would be necessary’ to alter the Constitution; and that is a very difficult matter. It will be remembered that this difficult subject was considered a short time ago at the Treasurers’ Conference which sat in Melbourne. The questions which the States Treasurers were asked by the Federal Treasurer to consider are stated in a Treasury memorandum in these terms -
On that last point I would remark that, by taking over aportion of the States debts and forming a Commonwealth stock, we should give an extra value to the remainder of the States stocks, and merely play into the hands of the present bond-holders. The Treasurer believes in taking over the whole of the States debts, subject to an indemnity by the States for the payment of the interest. Senator Pearce put the matter very fairly and correctly yesterday when he quoted a number of figures which I need not repeat. The Treasurer wishes to take over the whole of the States debts, because he desires to have only one Australian stock on the London market - a very great advantage, as honorable senators know who have any knowledge of, finance. To do so he would require, not merely the whole of the Customs revenue, but considerably more in the case of some of the States. As Senator Pearce pointed out, the position in other States would be different.
– But suppose that the Customs revenue should fail very much.
– If it did, and we needed more revenue, I suppose that ve could increase the customs duties.
– Is the honorable gentleman a revenue tariffist ? Senator PLAYFORD. - We are all revenue tariffists, as the honorable senator knows. Funds have to be provided for Commonwealth and States purposes, and whether Ave are protectionists or free-traders, a revenue must be raised through’ the Customs. Mr. Butler, the Treasurer of South Australia, proposed that the transferred properties should be paid for by the Commonwealth taking over a certain proportion of the States debts. I may mention that the value of those properties is estimated at from ‘^8,000,000 to ^12,000,000. He suggested that, for this purpose, tha Commonwealth should take over a proportion of the States debts, say l,lJ to £,10 or per head of the population in each State, and that then the Commonwealth would have sufficient money in the balance of the Customs revenue due to each State to pay the interest. Honorable senators know that the whole subject is again to be referred to the Treasurers of the States at a meeting which is to be held next month. It is an exceedingly important matter, noL only to the States but te the Commonwealth. All we wish to do is to make the best possible terms we can with the States in the interests of the people of Australia as a whole. We are bound by the Constitution to do certain things, and we intend to abide by its provisions. We believe that in the future the States ought to borrow in the London market through the medium of the Commonwealth, which would be able to get the money more cheaply than they could. Our ultimate aim would be to have only one Australian stock on the market. That could not be accomplished at once. Suppose that the whole of the States debts were handed over to the Commonwealth, they could not be converted with advantage on the London market to-day. Persons who own stock will never take the exact market equivalent from you if you wish to purchase from them. The great majority of the bond-holders in the London market are persons who hold our bonds for investment purposes only, and they do not wish to part with them at the mere market equivalent. When New Zealand converted about ;£i 5,000,000 worth of stock, it had to pay a considerable amount in excess of the market equivalent. That meant a loss to the Colony. The Commonwealth must . be guided by that example. Even suppose that we took over the States debts, we should have to wait until the bonds were approaching maturity before we could convert them into Australian stock. Some of these bonds could not be converted for a period of thirty or forty years, and I am afraid that most of us will be in our graves before we shall be able to get only an Australian stock placed on the London market. Honorable senators have made a little fun of paragraph 4 of the opening speech. In paragraph 3 we are told that the question of taking over the States debts has been under consideration, and that a Conference of States Treasurers on the subject has been held ; and in the next paragraph we are told that: -
The re-adjustment of Federal’ and State finances contemplated in such an arrangement will, it is hoped, present an opportunity for the adoption of an uniform system of old-age pensions throughout the Commonwealth.
– Will they have to wait fifty years for the pensions?
– The imagination of honorable senators has not been strong enough to find out a connexion between the two paragraphs. They have made a great deal of fun here, and asked what connexion there is between the question of old-age pensions and the question of taking over the States debts. The connexion is plain enough. In this Conference with the States Treasurers the Commonwealth Treasurer was trying to make a bargain with the States with regard to their debts. We are to take from them, in the words of the Constitution, some “ adequate amount “ for the purpose of making good the extra money which we shall have to pay as interest on their debts. The position, so far as concerns old-age. pensions is this : There are two States which have old-age pensions - New South Wales and Victoria. Queensland, I understand, has a partial system, paying something like 5s. a week to a number of elderly people. South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania have no old-age pensions systems. So far as the two principal States are concerned all we have to say is - “ Do you not think that it would be wise for us to have a uniform oldage pensions system extending over the length and breadth of the Commonwealth ?” They would be prepared, I should imagine, to say “Yes.” They would be willing for the. Commonwealth to pass a Bill establishing old-age pensions, and willing to indemnify the Commonwealth for relieving them of their present payments on that account. They would save the mone^ they are now spending. In New South Wales, I think, the amount is £500,000 a year. In Victoria the amount is perhaps ,£200,000. It is acknowledged to be a blot upon the legislation of the States that have old-age pensions, that the pensions are only payable to aged people who have lived in the State for a certain number of years consecutively. If we have a uniform system, no matter in what State a person may have been living, if he has been~a resident in Australia for a reasonable time, he will receive a pension. Unless the two States which now pay oldage pensions agreed to indemnify us for paying them on their account, it is clear that we could not institute a system of oldage pensions for all Australia - at all events, so long as the Braddon section lasts’ - without resorting to direct taxation.
– Would not that system put our old-age pensions at the mercy of any State Treasurer if he wanted to upset the bargain?
– He could not do that when once the Commonwealth had agreed to it. The only authority that could withdraw from the bargain would be the Commonwealth, by repealing the oldage pensions law.
– What money could the Commonwealth use?
– That is not for me to say. The Commonwealth Treasurer is prepared to point out what funds can be used. So far as New South Wales and
Victoria are concerned, they provide the funds already. What funds do they use? Therefore, it is clear that the statement that there is no connexion between the States debts and old-age pensions is not a fact. In the past it has been argued,, both by the leader of the Opposition and the late Prime Minister, that their policy was not to resort to direct taxation, but to leave that source of revenue to the States. The States must have revenue from some source or other.
– Does the present Government indorse that policv?
– I believe that they do. The matter has never been discussed in Cabinet, but I indorse it. It is better for the Commonwealth not to interfere in direct taxation, but to leave that to the States. They cannot carry on the administration without money, and they can only get money by taxation. If we take from thern direct taxation, as we have already taken Customs and Excise, I do not kn-iw where they will get money from. Take a case in point, and see how it will work. Suppose that we said that we would impose a system of land taxation. What would be the result? According to the Constitution any taxation that we impose must be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. We cannot have a land tax at one rate in one State and at another rate in another State. What then is the position ? If we impose a land tax to-morrow those States which already have land taxes would have an additional land tax thrust upon them, and those States which now have no land taxation would have a new land tax. The land-holders in the States where there is already a land taxation would have the burden of two land taxes to bear.
– Where is there a heavy land tax now?
– We have one in South Australia. I do not argue in this way because I am not in favour of a land tax. If I remember rightly it was while I was Treasurer in South Australia that the’ land and income and absentee taxes of that State were introduced. But I am opposed to the principle of land taxation advocated by Senator Pearce. He wants to have a land tax for the purpose of bursting up the big estates. He said that he did not believe in leaving all direct taxation to the States, and that he wanted a tax which would result in unlocking the lands. What does unlocking the lands by taxation mean 1 but bursting up the big estates ? If we were to impose a land tax sufficiently high to have that effect we should penalize ihe holders of the smaller areas, as well as the holders of the larger estates. It is all very well to say to a man who holds, say, 50, 100, or 200 acres, arid who is a small holder - “We are going to impose a land tax to burst up the big estates of your neighbour,- and you are only gi’mir, to pay a few shillings in the poundi while the other man will pay as many pounds.” But the small land-owner will know that the man who pays a small amount very often pays more in proportion to his means than the man who pays pounds. If we are going to burst” up the big estates we should do it on the plan which I proposed in South Australia - by taking the large estates by compulsory purchase.
– What is the use of selling land and buying it’ back at an increased price?
– The policy which I favoured was not to sell land at all, but to lease it. We. started a leasing system in South Australia, and we had at the same time the system of the right of purchase after so many years of occupation. We made the two run concurrently ; but we took care in our regulations and in the administration of the Act that the man who took up land on a perpetual lease, with the right of re-valuation every fourteen years, should get his land on better terms than the man who took up land with the right of purchase. The result was that an immense quantity, of land was taken up on perpetual lease. What was the result ? After a time an agitation was commenced against the revaluations, which it was said were grossly unfair. The settlers said - “These revaluations increase the cost to us, and they make us pay a higher rent “ They petitioned Parliament to do away with the periodical re-valuations. The result was that Parliament passed a “Bill altering the Act, striking out the re-valuation sections, and allowing the holders to keep their land under a perpetual fixed rent. But they went further than that - and this shows how troublesome’ it is to manage a land system of this ‘kind when we have a number of self-interested people who are . electors! and who can influence members of Parliament. As the result of further’ agitation, while I was in England, Parliament passed a Bill giving to these men the Tight of purchase. That is the position at the present time. If we are going to break up the large estates, let us do it fairly, and not adopt the Georgian system, which means taxing land-holders to such an extent that it is not profitable to them to occupy their land. That would be grossly unfair. I believe in treating all classes ‘of the community fairly. The land-holders have acquired their land under the laws of the country. In most instances, they paid a fair price for it. Many of the original holders have sold out to others, who bought at the market price. The men who originally held the land have got the unearned increment and cleared out. What are we going to do with the men who have paid the market price for’ the land they hold ? How can it be fair to turn them out by a system of taxation ? But I will not pursue tha’t point further. The mover of the Address in Reply alluded to the additional revenue that the Commonwealth might obtain by acquiring the right to coin silver. The Government have not lost sight of that question. I am informed by the Prime Minister that a considerable correspondence has taken place, and is still taking place, between the “Federal and the Imperial Governments, and that recently there has been received a long comunication necessitating a full reply. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer are dealing with the subject exhaustively. It is true that we can make a considerable profit by minting silver.
– .£50,000 a vear?
– I do riot know the amount, but it is considerable. I do not know to what extent silver coins depreciate by wear. Of course, if the coinage of silver is handed over to us, we shall have to make good the loss by depreciation, but even then we shall make a fair profit. Senator Trenwith also alluded to. banking, and pointed out what might be gained by having a Commonwealth note issue. I am not quite sure whether I understood him accurately, but I believe he said that he was in favour of the establishment of a Commonwealth bank. Turning to the Constitution on this point, we find amongst the matters that the Commonwealth Parliament has power to make laws for -
Banking other than State banking.
That means that we cannot interfere with a bank established by a State. Also -
State banking extending beyond the limits of the State concerned.
That means that if a State establishes branches of its bank in another State those branches come under our purview, and we may legislate for them.
The incorporation of banks.
That is the incorporation of any company that may be estabished.
The issue Df paper money.
There is no doubt, therefore, that we have the fullest powers if we choose to exercise them, and that we could establish a bank of issue. When I was Treasurer in South Australia I had this question brought prominently before me, and my sympathies were undoubtedly in the direction of establishing a State bank. I saw a chance of making some profit out of the issue of State notes. I went into the matter very fully, and I came to the conclusion that I could get nearly the whole of the profits made by the banks upon their note issue by simply putting a tax on their notes that would leave them a little margin. I put it down at 2 per cent., and at present the bank note issue in South Australia is a 2 per cent, issue. The result has been that in the city of Adelaide, and in the centres of population, a bank note is very seldom seen. The currency is nearly all gold. My man who goes to market for me used to bring me home notes. Now when he brings home the market proceeds he brings two things. 1 rarely see a note, but he brings home gold and cheques. That is the case throughout the city and suburbs of Adelaide. In the country districts notes are still fairly well circulated, for the reason that it is easier for the banks to send notes to their country branches than it. is to send gold, as well as being safer and cheaper. The honorable senator said that he thought that the note issue throughout the Commonwealth amounted to £4,000,000 odd, but I find from the latest figures that I can get that the note issue throughout the Commonwealth - including Queensland, which issues her own notes, whilst in the other States the notes are issued by the banks - is £3,700,000. Senator Trenwith thought that if we had a system of national banking the issue of notes might amount to from ,£6,000,000 to £8,000,000, and pictured a state of things by which the Commonwealth would make about £[300,000 a year without the slightest trouble. He intimated the value of the notes actually in circulation at present at between £6.,ooo,ooo and £7,000,000.
– To account for the difference he pointed out that they did not reckon the. notes in the banks, but only those in circulation out of the banks.
– They only reckon the notes in circulation. I do not see how we could tax the banks upon notes held in the banks.
– They are in circulation. They are notes in use.
– I am not certain of the exact words, but I think the reference is to the daily, or weekly, average note issue. The banks should certainly not pay upon notes which are not in circulation. They give from day to day their note issue ; they show the notes paid into the bank, and the notes issued from the bank. It would not be right to impose a tax upon notes paid into the bank. I think the arrangement made is fair, but I have no. doubt that the honorable senator is quite accurate in the statement he made that a certain number of the notes are paid in and a certain number issued from the bank from day to day. However, the argument does not justify the honorable senator in thinking that, because there would be a considerable note issue if we had a national system of banking, there would be a large revenue. If we had Commonwealth notes we should only get the advantage of those in actual circulation, and not of those paid into the Commonwealth bank. Here, , again, if the matter is properly considered, it will be found that a national bank will not provide the profit imagined.
– We have too many banks already.
– It must not be forgotten that by the establishment of a Commonwealth bank we should take away from the States the revenue they are receiving at the present time upon the issue of bank notes. Directly we established a Commonwealth bank we should take away the profit which Queensland now makes from the issue of her State notes, and the profit made by South Australia from the tax. upon bank notes issued there by the ordinary banks. We should at once be interfering with the revenue of the States. I should very much like to see a Commonwealth bank established, if it could be shown that we would make a profit from it, and that it would be of benefit to the people. In South Australia I looked into the matter very carefully, and I came to the conclusion that what we could do was to get all the profit that could be made from the note issue by taxation, so I proposed a tax on bank notes, and supported the establishment of a State bank for the purpose of lending money to landowners and settlers. That was done in South Australia, and it has turned out a very considerable success.
– That was not the decision of the Royal Commission that sat in South Australia.
SenatorPLAYFORD. - I do not just at the moment recollect what the Royal Commission recommended. The next matter to which the honorable senator’ referred was arbitration, and here he made use of an argument with which I entirely agree. If arbitration is to be successful it must be compulsory. We cannot get away from that. I will take the case of South Australia again. When the first Arbitration Bill was introduced in that State by my friend the Right Honorable C. C. Kingston, the measure was in form p’racticallv compulsory. Under it those who would ‘not register could be compelled to register. But the compulsory provisions were struck out by the Legislature. That Bill has been in operation for a great many years, and it was,. I believe, the first Bill dealing with the question that was carried in any Parliament in the Australasian Colonies, including New Zealand. But, from the very fact that there is no compulsion in it, I say that it has been an unmistakable failure. There have not been many strikes in South Australia, because we are a peace-loving people there. Employers and employes manage their own affairs exceedingly well, and get on comfortably together. When even a big corporation, the Moonta and Wallaroo Company, who employ thousands of hands, had trouble which led toa strike, they settled their difficulties amicably by agreeing that the ruling price for copper should govern the wages paid, that the wages should fluctuate as the price of copper fluctuated, but that at all times the men were to get what might be called a living wage. That has been going on there for twenty or thirty years.
– The Government propose to disturb that happy state of things.
– Not at all. The South Australian Parliament passed an Arbitration and Conciliation Bill, but nothing has been done under it. In the instances in which we have had strikes since the passing of that measure in South Australia we have had no means of settling them. The parties concerned would not register under the Bill, and where they were not registered nothing could be done. The provisions of the measure which we have been able to use in that State with good effect are the conciliation provisions. Under the Act certain persons are appointed to inquire into an indus trial dispute, and to give their opinion, in order that the public shall not be prevented from forming something like an accurate judgment upon the dispute, which they cannot do when they are left to the ex parte statements of those immediately concerned. We have had in South Australia one or two instances in which the conciliation provisions of the Act to which I refer have been brought into operation with a certain amount of good. If we are to have arbitration at all it must be compulsory.
– The Constitution does not say a word about compulsion.
– If it does not it certainly gives the Commonwealth Parliament power to deal with the whole matter.
– It refers to conciliation and arbitration only.
– The matter is dealt with in sub-section 35 of section 51 of the Constitution in these words -
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
– The word “compulsory “ is not used.
– That was not necessary, because we are given power to legislate as we please in the matter. We can pass a Bill merely for conciliation, or we can pass a Bill for arbitration and conciliation, and we can make it compulsory.
– The introductory words of the section indicate our powers.
– Section 51 provides that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power tq make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth, with respect to - and then, amongst others, follows the subsection I have quoted. I did not know that there was the slightest doubt upon the point. We have the fullest power to make this legislation compulsory, and the Act will be only so much waste paper if we do not make it compulsory.
SenatorFraser. - The English Act is not compulsory.
SenatorP LAYFORD. - And what good is it there? What effect did it have in affording relief to the workers in the slate quarries of Wales? If the Act is not made compulsory a man may refuse to have his case brought before the Arbitration Court. ‘ I now come to the questionof preferential trade. This is a most- important matter, and it has resulted- in a motion of noconfidence being tabled against the Government. I recollect that before I was appointed Agent-General for South Australia, in 1894, this question occupied the attention of a great many ‘of our. people. It had been’ common for public men to say to one another - “ It does seem very strange that England will not give her own kith and kin in the Colonies some little preference over foreigners, who would wreck her to-morow if they had a chance.”
– England has given us a lot.
– She has not given us any more than she has given her greatest enemy. We like to treat our friends better than we treat our enemies. I do not care a fig for the man who will not look after the interests of his wife and family, and of his relatives, better than he will look after the interests of a man who would put a pistol to his head and shoot him down if he had the opportunity.
– We have never given Great Britain any preference.
– I need onlypoint to the action of other countries. France gives her Colonies preference, and Senator Smith alluded to that himself the other day as something which told greatly in favour of France. The honorable senator told us that even British subjects in the New Hebrides would prefer to come under French rule rather than English rule, because of the preferential treatment given by France to her Colonies. The question was talked about and debated, and in 1894 it was fully considered at a Conference held at Ottawa. I may remind honorable senators of the representatives who were present at that Conference, and the resolution they carried. Canada was represented by Messrs. Bowell, Caron, Foster, and Fleming ; New South Wales by the Honorable F. B. Suttor ; Tasmania by the Honorable Nicholas Fitzgerald ; the Cape of Good Hope by Sir Henry de Villiers, who was Chief Justice of the Colony at the time, Sir Charles Mills, their Agent-General in London, and the Honorable J. H. Hoffmeyer, the leader of the Afrikander Bond ; South Australia was represented by myself ; New Zealand by Mr. Robert Lee Smith ; Victoria by Sir Henry Wrixon, the Honorable Nicholas Fitzgerald, and our friend the Honorable Simon Fraser; and Queensland by the Honorable A. J. Thynne and the Honorable Wm. Forrest. After considerable discussion, in which the whole matter was thoroughly threshed out, these resolutions were carried absolutely unanimously.
– Not unanimously.
– I have the record here. They were carried without a dissentient voice. “After the resolutions had been moved and modified in various waysthe record says - 9
The preamble was . then agreed to, and the resolutions, as finally amended, were submitted and adopted in the following terms : -
Whereas : The stability and progress of the British Empire can be best assured, by drawing continually closer the bonds that unite the colonies with the mother country, and by the continuous growth of a practical sympathy and co-operation in all that pertains to the common welfare ;
And Whereas : This co-operation and unity can in no way be more effectually promoted than by the cultivation and extension of the mutual and profitable interchange of their products ;
Therefore Resolved that this Conference records its belief in the advisability of a Customs arrangement between Great Britain and her colonies, by which trade within the Empire may be placed on a more favourable footing than that which is canied on with . foreign countries.
Further Resolved that until the mother country can see her way to enter into a Customs arrangement with her colonies, it is desirable that, when empowered so to do, the qplonies of Great Britain, or such of them as may be disposed to accede to this view, take steps to place each other’s products, in whole or in part, on a more favoured Customs basis than is accorded to the like products of other countries.
– Lord Jersey did not vote for the resolutions; he voted against them.-
– Lord Jersey was not a member of the Conference ;. he was present only to watch the interests of the Imperial Government, and he did not vote upon any question. He did not even vote upon the question of the Pacific Cable. He was watching the proceedings on behalf of the British Government, and, as might have been expected of such a rank free-trader, he made a report in which, as a matter of course, he did not agree wiih these prospects. It will be seen that in the resolutions I have quoted, we have preferential trade in all its baldness voted for by Senator Fraser and the other gentlemen to whom I have alluded.
– That is so ; I voted for.- it.
– We have here-, I think, the first instance on record in which this question was brought before what might be called a representative body. The Conference was attended by representatives of
Canada, South -Africa, and the Australasian Colonies, including New Zealand ; and I have quoted an authoritative statement of their views in favour, of preferential trade.
– Canada has adopted that principle.
– We know what took place afterwards. Canada desired to shame Great Britain into according her preferential trade, and the Canadian authorities thought that the best way would be to grant preferential trade to Great Britain. Uufortunately, Great Britain did not reciprocate.
– That is a slander upon Canada.
– The honorable senator may think so, but I have a conviction that that was a part of Canada’s motive in establishing preferential trade.
– It was no part of her motive.
– Perhaps Senator Fraser knows the mind of the Canadian people better than I do. I shall leave that as it is. because the honorable senator’s word is perhaps as good as mine upon a question of that sort. I come now to the next phase of the question. Amongst other things asked for was that England should give notice to terminate certain treaties in order that the Colonies might be given an opportunity to make terms for themselves. The Liberal Government in England went out, and were followed by Lord Salisbury’s Government, in which the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain found a place as Secretary of State for the Colonies. When Lord Salisbury came into power, he gave the necessary notice to terminate treaties, and without reference to Great Britain, the Colonies have now a right to enter into reciprocal arrangements with themselves. When Mr. Chamberlain took up the work of the Colonial Office, he went into all questions affecting the Colonies. He desired, so far as he possibly could, to promote, not only the interests of the mother country, but of the Colonies; and, amongst other things, be began to study this particular question of preferential trade. He looked into all the facts, and formulated his own opinion. Like a man of common sense, he did not always adhere to the same opinion. When new facts and altered conditions come before him he found it necessary for him sometimes to alter his views. I desire to point out to honorable senators what were the views of Mr. Chamberlain in 1896. In that year I was AgentGeneral for South Australia, and I was in the habit of corresponding with my then Premier, Mr. Kingston, once a week. I was accustomed to acquaint him, amongst other things, with what was’ going on in the political world of Great Britain. In 1896 I sent him the following communication : -
London, 9th June, 1896. - At the opening of the third congress of the Chambers of Commerce of the Empire, Mr. Chamberlain ‘ said, in refering to closer union with the Colonies, that there were only three lines proposed to accomplish this -
First - Colonies to abandon their fiscal systems and adopt ours.
To this the answer is : The colonies will not adopt this proposal.
Second - To adopt the lines laid down at the Ottawa Conference as follows : -
Those provisions, as I have said, have been removed.
Mr. Chamberlain said that, in his opinion, there was not the slightest chance of England adopting this course.
Third - To create a Zollverein or Customs Union, which would establish at once practically free-trade throughout the Empire, with freedom of contracting parties to make their own arrangements with regard to duties upon foreign goods, and that Great Britain should agree to place moderate duties upon certain articles’ which are of large production in the colonies ; in other words, the colonies, while maintaining their duties on foreign imports, would agree to a free interchange of commodities with the rest of the Empire, and cease to place protective duties upon any product of British labour.
The moderate duties referred to would comprise duties on corn, meat, wool, and sugar, and, perhaps, other articles of enormous consumption in his country, which are produced in the colonies.
This proposal is one that Mr. Chamberlain thinks might, if it came from the colonies, be fairly considered by the people of Great Britain.
As part of a great policy to unite the Empire, at all events, he said, it would not be met in a huckstering spirit; it would not be met with a blank refusal.
I shall now read to honorable senators the comments which I made in this document, and which I forwarded to Mr. Kingston, as follows : -
I will now give the other side of the picture from a colonial stand-point. So far as the colonies are concerned, this Zollverein would mean the loss of nearly all our Customs revenue, which would have to be made up by direct taxation. It would mean the closing of most of our manufactories, and practically confine our people to the production of raw material. It would, in proportion to the percentage of duty levied by Great Britain - say, on corn, meat, wool, tea, sugar, wine, &c. - help the colonial and Indian producer. So far as Great Britain would be concerned, it would give her, without a rival, the ‘ trade in manufactured goods of all the colonies, and, at the same time, protect her farmers. She would, therefore, doubly gain. The proposal is one-sided, for hfy it the colonies, as a whole, would suffer on one hand quite, if not more than they would gain on the other.
These were my views of Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals at the time. It has been stated by Senator Mulcahy and Senator Gray thatMr. Chamberlain has made no definite proposals. No doubt Mr. Chamberlain has altered his views since he spoke at the meeting of the Chambers of Commerce in London, in 1896 ; and I shall now read the proposals which he now puts forward,and which he has advocated during his present campaign. These proposals are, of course, submitted to the British people, and we are only incidentally concerned with them, though, of course, it is interesting to us to know what they really are. Some little time before I left London, in 1898, Mr. Chamberlain asked me whether I -believed that the Colonies would do as Canada had done, namely, give a preference . to Great Britain without, receiving any preference in return. I told Mr. Chamberlain that in my opinion the Colonies would do nothing of the sort, but, before making any offer, would wait in order to see what preference Great Britain was prepared to give. I assured Mr. Chamberlain that if ‘any proposal he made was of advantage to the Colonies, it would be to the interest of the latter to give something in return, and that something would be a fair quid fro quo, offered, in his own words, in no huckstering spirit. Here are the proposal’s of Mr. Chamberlain in. what he calls his sketch plan : -
A duty on foreign corn, except maize, of 2s. per quarter ; and a corresponding one on flour.
A tax’ of 5 per cent, on .foreign meat (except bacon) and dairy produce.
A substantial’ preference to be’ given to colonial wine, and, perhaps, on fruit.
To make up this gain to revenue and loss to consumers, he would remit three-fourths of the duty on tea, half of the sugar duty, and make a corresponding reduction on cocoa and coffee.
He would also propose a moderate duty of 10 per cent, on all foreign manufactured goods.
– What does Mr. Chamberlain want iiom Australia?
- Mr. ChamberIain does not say.
– That is what we want to know.
- Mr. Chamberlain has never asked anything from us.
– Mr. Chamberlain in his Glasgow speech said that’ the Colonies would be expected not to start any new industries to compete with manufactured goods we got from England.
– Mr. Chamberlain has dropped that idea now.
– I have read the Glasgow speech, and I did not see in it any paragraph to the effect indicated by Senator Guthrie.
– Mr. Chamberlain has expunged that from the speech.
– It may have been a slip of the tongue on the part of Mr. Chamberlain. There is no doubt that in 1896 he did desire the Colonies to give up their protective duties on British manufactures, and very likely that thought was running in his mind when he delivered his speech ; but the position is not the same at the present time. I had heard of this paragraph in the Glasgow utterance, but as I say, I could not find it on a careful perusal, and there is no doubt that the speech was revised in order to remove inaccuracies. However, in my opinion the position taken up by the Government is a very proper one, and it is a similar position to that which I assumed without consulting with anybody. I had nothing whatever to do with the deliberations of the Barton Government on the question, but I contend that it is a proper policy to give no preference to British manufactures until we know what preference we are to have in relation to our own products.
– Has Great Britain not given us an immense amount of preference already ?
– Great Britain gives the same preference to every other country.
– That is so; but I have discussed the question already, and I shall not further deal with it. Senator Gray, referring to the Federal Capital, expressed the opinion that there had been sufficient time to enable the Government, if thev were in earnest, to submit a proposal to Parliament: I contend that the Government have done all that is possible. There are more difficulties surrounding this question than Senator Gray imagines. In the Ministry there are two great champions, one for Tumut and the other for Bombala ; and these gentlemen are certainly working hard for their respective sites. The Government were not able to deal with the matter in the first session, but after what was practically imperative legislation had been passed, the question was introduced in the second session, when an exhaustive ballot, which was the fairest system which could be adopted, resulted in the selection of Tumut. When the matter came before the Senate, however, the result was different, a large majority voting for Bombala. The present position is that all the other twelve or thirteen sites have been discarded, and additional information is being gathered in respect to the two sites I have mentioned.
– Why not discard one of these?
– How can that be done if Parliament will not agree?
– Why does the Government not recommend one site?
– It is all very well to ask why the Government do not recommend a site, but it must be remembered that two members of the Ministry are fighting tooth and nail for two different areas.
– Let the Government put its foot down.
– No doubt the Government might do a great many things ; but I do npt know that this is a question which- might be fairly described as one for the Ministry. The choice of a particular site unmistakably rests with the two Houses, and I do not see that the Government should endeavour to force Parliament to accept any particular area, or to induce their followers, out of loyalty, to vote perhaps against their own consciences on a question of the. kind. All that the Government can be asked to do is to bring the question fairly before Parliament.
– Parliament is led by the Government, and ought to be.
– Does the honorable senator not know that Parliaments very often lead Governments? What can the Government do without the approval of Parliament? It is not the duty of the Government to domineer over Parliament on every little question. There are no doubt questions on which the Government very rightly and properly stake their existence, but it would be absurd to take that step in the present instance. The Government will take care that the question is placed before Parliament in the fairest possible way, and I trust that the two Houses will come to some agreement. If there were the same number of members in each House the matter might be settled quietly at a joint meeting, and that course might still be carried out if the Senate were given double the voting power of the House of Representatives, but I do not know whether such a plan would meet with acceptance. Personally I am strongly in favour of Bombala. An examination of an immense area has to be undertaken, and surveys are at present being made in order to fix upon a suitable site in each of the territories now under offer at Tumut and Bombala. There is, however, another consideration which I am afraid may result in blocking the whole business, even if we do arrive at the selection of a site. We are, I think, determined that the Federal territory shall be of an area of more than 100 square miles, but we are informed that the Premier of New South Wales is not prepared to recommend the State Parliament to grant a larger area than the minimum of 100 square miles provided by the Constitution.
– And he cannot be compelled to do so.
– That is why I fear the whole negotiations may be wrecked.
– What is the land worth - -£i an acre?
– The value of the land’ does not matter. The Premier of New South Wales contends that the words in the Constitution, “ not less than 100 square miles,” means within a few acres of that area. It is held that it is not in the interests of New South Wales to allow the Commonwealth Government to govern more than too square miles of New South Wales territory; but I am certain that Parliament will not be content to take that view. In a certain Bill which honorable senators saw last year, the area mentioned was 1,000 square miles, and that is doubtless the area which will be stipulated for. There is no doubt whatever that the Commonwealth should have command of the watershed which will supply the Federal cityj and it is easily seen that to that end there must be more than 100 square miles.
– Does the honorable senator think that New South Wales’ ought to give the large area he indicates?
– Let the Commonwealth take the whole of the . State.
– But the Federal area must not be within100 miles of Sydney. If there is any trouble it will be the fault of New South Wales, and not the fault of the Commonwealth.
– It will be the fault of the Constitution.
- Senator Mulcahy, in referring to the Immigration Restriction Act, said he would” allow people to enter the Commonwealth under contract, and made some allusion to the six hatters,of whom we have heard so much. The section of the Immigration Restriction Act is as follows : -
The immigration into the Commonwealth of the persons described … is prohibited, namely : - . . . .
Any persons under a contract or agreement to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth : Provided that’ this paragraph shall not apply to workmen exempted by the Minister for special skill required in Australia, or to persons under contract or agreement to serve as part of the crew of a vessel engaged in the coasting trade in Australian waters, if the rates’ of wages specified therein are not lower than the rates ruling in the Commonwealth.
I contend that that is a very right and proper provision. I do not mean to say that in the past there has been any great abuse, or that there have been a number of instances in which people have been brought out under contract from the old country, and have been deceived and compelled to work at wages lower than those current in Australia. But we know what has taken place in other countries. In the United States the Parliament had to pass a law, even more stringent’ than our own, in order to - keep out immigrants under contract, and it is our duty to “ lock the stable door before the steed is stolen.” I am sure that none of us want men to be. brought into this Commonwealth under conditions which will compel them to work at lower than the current wages, and bring them into unfair competition with our own Yorkers; and the only way to prevent that state of things is to have such a law as was passed by the last Parliament. In the case of the six hatters, the Government had no choice, as the Executive, but to administer the law, which they would have been breaking had they acted otherwise. I notice that honorable senators very rightly look after the interests of their own States, and Senator Mulcahy is very concerned in view of the Navigation Bill, about the transport of Tasmanian apples in the large steamers which are so excellently fitted with refrigerating appliances. I can assure Senator Mulcahy that the Tasmanian apple trade will not be interfered with in any way. The mail steamers will be able to go to any part of Tasmania, and take as many apples, and as much other produce as they like, to all the markets of the world.
– Without any restriction or limitation?
– Without any restriction or limitation so far as apples or any other produce is concerned to parts beyond the Commonwealth. The only provision in the Act relating to foreign and British ships is that while trading on the coast of Australia they shall comply with the same conditions that have to be’ complied with bythe coasting vessels.
– That will not do.
– Does the honorable senator wish to give the foreign shipping better conditions than are enjoyed by the coastal shipping ?
– I do not want any restrictive conditions.
– The foreign shipping will be placed under conditions exactly the same as those which control the coasting shipping.
– But the circumstances are not the same.
– The circumstances are the same.
– The mail-boats have not done any coastal trade.
– Then the Navigation Bill can do no harm. By such legislation we shall do only what is just and right, namely, compel foreign shipping engaging in our coastal trade to comply with the same conditions as to wages and other matters as have to be complied with by the local shipping.
– Does that apply to passenger rates?
– No ; we do not fix the rates at which they shall carry passengers.
– But if they carry passengers between Melbourne and Sydney, what then ?
– If they do- they will have to comply with the same conditions as our own steamers which carry passengers between those ports. They will have to pay- the same rate of wages, and give the same amount of accommodation and comfort to their men as we require for our own men in the coastal trade. Could anything be fairer? I do not know what the honorable senator wants. Does he wish to treat our people differently from Biitishers and foreigners ?
– He wants preferential trade for foreigners.
– Although I am earnestly in favour of preferential trade for Great Britain, yet I require a quid pro quo. We are not in favour of giving a preference to the foreign ship-owner, nor do I believe that the English ship-owner would ask for a preference against those ships which we employ to do our coastal business.
– Do the Government propose to debar the representatives of Western Australia from travelling in the mail boats.
– I am not going to anticipate the discussion on the Navigation Bill, which I hope the AttorneyGeneral will be able to lay on the table very shortly. Senator Mulcahy may rest assured that it will contain no unfair provision. All its provisions, so far as I have been able to see, are eminently fair, and I believe will be satisfactory.
– Will the steamers that carry the mails give facilities in the way of cool chambers for carrying apples?
– The mail contract is dealt with, not in the Navigation Bill, but in the Post and Telegraph Act, which prevents the Government from giving a contract to vessels which do not employ white labour.
– And the Government are going to give weekly contracts to steamers employing “blackies.”
– That is a very weak argument. Senator Mulcahy said that he did not believe in excluding coloured labour .from the mail steamers. No matter what he believes or disbelieves, we. have to comply with the law of the land, which says -
No contract or arrangement for the carriage of mails shall be entered into on behalf of the Commonwealth unless it contains, a condition that only white labour shall be employed in sucli carriage.
We have a perfect right to say on what terms we shall enter into any contract for the carriage of mails.
– Considering that we form a part Of the Empire. I deny that right. ‘
– Under the Constitution Act we have a right to deal with the matters which are connected with the carriage of our mails. Therefore, it ‘was perfectly constitutional and proper for the Parliament to say on what conditions the Commonwealth would allow steamers to carry our mails, and it has prohibited the use of coloured labour. What has been the policy of Australia on this question ? A great many persons speak and write, especially in the press, in a way which show me that they think that this prohibition was never thought or dreamed of before the Commonwealth was established, and that this wretched Parliament has been led by the nose by . the Labour Party, who introduced the provision, to the great injury and detriment of the community as a whole. I have not the slightest doubt that if .the Government have to resort to the poundage system, there will be as line a row amongst a certain section of the community in regard to the mail contract as we have had for a considerable time. Although we may save £50,000 a year by having the mails carried on the poundage system, still the chances are that the time of transit will be longer. This question was considered in 1894 by the Premiers of Australasia, at a Conference which was held in Wellington, and a resolution was passed that the Imperial Government, who entered into the contract, on behalf of the Colonies and themselves, should insert a provision that the mails should be carried in vessels manned by white labour.
– The Colonies were told that it could not be done.
– The Imperial Government were not inclined to comply with our request. It is clear that all the Premiers of Australasia, in 1894, were in favour of excluding coloured labour from the mail steamers. My point is, that those gentlemen agreed to the resolution because they believed that this was a right thing to do. Purely not one of those gentlemen was so wretchedly mean as to agree to the resolution in the belief that the Government would not insert the provision in the contract ! It was moved by Dr. Cockburn, the Premier of South Australia, and I have not the slightest doubt that the other Premiers were just as sincere as he was. It was sent home by South Australia, on behalf of the other Colonies, and with the other Agents-General I waited upon the Government of the day. We asked the Government to require the provision of larger space in the refrigerating chambers, and, if possible, a reduction of the freights, We got one or two little points conceded, but they said that they could not ask for the exclusion of coloured labour, because the P. and 0. Company had employed lascars, who were British subjects, for a great many years, and had carried the mails in a very satisfactory manner. They carried our mails with the Indian crew as far as Ceylon. We were told that the home authorities could not agree to our request, because if they did it would be casting a slur on their Indian subjects.
– Did the AgentsGeneral ask if the Imperial Government would accept Indian subjects ?
– No ; I presume that the resolution of the Premiers meant the exclusion of all coloured labour. The mail contract will terminate at the end of this year. I can assure Senator Dawson that in our advertisement calling for tenders we said -
The tenderers are invited to state the additional sum required to proceed to the port of Brisbane, alternative sums for weekly or fortnightly calls at that port.
I am not the Postmaster-General’, and I do not know the exact amounts that were asked. I know that one tenderer offered to comply with the labour conditions, but he asked for a sum very largely in excess of what we had been paying, and also asked for a considerable sum for calling at Brisbane. We could not accept the tender, because the price was too high.
– What was it?
– I do not know the amount, and we do not wish to make it known at the present time.
– Will the Senate have an opportunity of discussing this question before the Government close with the offer made in this cable message?
– If the Parliament is sitting T imagine that we shall lay upon the table a copy of the offers which have been made, and state that it is intended to close with a certain offer, and if any one objects to our proposal he will have an opportunity of stating the reason for his objections. I do not know that that course will be adopted, but that is the course which I, if I were the head of the Government, would adopt. I think it is only fair in the circumstances that the question should be considered. The position at present is not exactly what Senator Dawson understood the Prime Minister to say it was. My advice is that- we had a tender which could not be accepted because the price asked was exorbitant, and because it did not comply with the conditions regarding refrigerating space and freights. There is a sporting offer from a firm in Glasgow to build so many ships to travel at a high rate of speed. They required many years in which to provide the ships, and desired the Government to put so much money into the concern. We have also received a telegram from a firm in London saying that an offer is on its way out to Melbourne. We do not know the nature of the offer, but certainly the firm knows that we shall not be able to accept any tender which does not comply with our condition that the ships shall be manned by white crews. This firm has stated that it will provide at least an eighteenknot service. When it was pointed out in the Senate, when the Post and Telegraph Bill was under consideration, that on those terms the Government would not receive any tenders, I said that if the worst came to the worst they would only have to fall back on poundage rates - a system which was tried between Great Britain and America for many years, until America chose to subsidize a line, and Great Britain, in reply, to the challenge, chose to subsidize the Cunard ‘ line, and so prevent it from joining the Morgan combine. If we do adopt the poundage system some merchants will not be able to- get their letters quite as quickly as they do now. But against that fact we shall save £50,000 a year. I have no doubt that we shall have, new developments before long. Undoubtedly some firms - British firms, I hope - will build us: ships to carry our mails with white crews, and give us quite as good a service as we have at the present time, if not a better one. We may have to wait a year or two, but it will come.
– What about the butter and other perishable produce? We live by those.
– They will be carried on the P. and O. and Orient steamers. There will, of course, be the usual steamers carrying the mails from England. The British Government will have a mail service to Australia, and the steamers will have to return and will carry, produce. Let the honorable senator consider the new lines that are coming into competition with the P. and O. and Orient Companies. There is the White Star line, the Lund line, and the Aberdeen line, all of whose boats’ carry’ perishable produce.
– Has Great Britain entered into an arrangement to bring English mails out to us?
– She has not yet entered into a contract so far as I know.
– Will not the fact that the contractors only carry the mails one way immensely increase the price?
– No ; I think not immensely.
– It must be so.
– ‘What are the poundage rates to which the honorable senator refers?
– They are the rates agreed upon by the Berne Postal Union.
– Yes, they are the rates agreed to at the Berne Conference.
– Suppose the High Court decided that the payment of poundage rates to steamers employing Iascar crews was contrary to the Act?
– Then we should have to- pass an Act of Parliament authorizing the arrangement. We have had to do this when the Judges have decided against what Parliament intended.
– Then there is an alliance with the Labour Party?
– That is perfect rubbish. If Senator Dobson will only consider what the Government have done in the past, he will know that we have fought the Labour Party on many an occasion:
– And Senator Dobson helped you.
– Yes, and Senator Dobson assisted us. Were we led by the Labour Party when we dropped the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill last year.? Were we led by them in regard to the education and colour .test? When we introduce a measure, having given to it the best attention we can, if any member of Parliament, whether he is in the Opposition or in the Labour Party, or whether he is an independent member^’ or a supporter of the Government, proposes something which we, on consideration, believe to be an improvement and an advantage, we will agree to it. The Labour Party, which is a considerable party, both in the Senate and another place, have undoubtedly suggested many improvements in Acts of Parliament which this Government have been only too glad to accept. But we are in’ no way bound to the Labour Party. They have not got their apron strings round us, and are not dragging us after them. But Senator Dobson is fearfully suspicious on .this point.
Now I come to Senator Neild, whom, I suppose, I must regard as the leader of the Opposition. There are two or three leaders of the Opposition, but Senator Neild got up after the seconder of the Address in Reply had finished, and in quite the usual way slated the Government high and low. He brought up certain matters. My honorable and learned colleague has alluded to several of them, and conclusively proved that Senator Neild was quite mistaken in a great many of his surmises. I wish to refer to one or two personal points that he made. It appears that he was grieved at the way he was treated at the- Electoral Office in New South Wales. Senator Neild seems to march up and down the streets of Sydney as a kind of little god. He seems to imagine that if he goes into an office and says - “ I want so and so,” the fellows there are to jump about and serve him like a shot. If he drops across a poor wretched officer who happens to come from Melbourne, Senator Neild is down upon him right away. Well, the honorable senator went into the Electoral Office. Evidently he did not see Mr. Lewis, but he saw somebody and asked him for some information as to how many votes he had polled at the Senate election. A New South Wales officer was going to give the honorable senator the information, but he states that an officer from Melbourne jumped up and said that he could not have ‘it. That is one of his grievances. I will tell the House the actual facts, as officially supplied to me, and from them honorable senators can form their opinions as to what attention it is worth while to pay to the honorable senator’s statements. The reply to his statement that he could not get information as to the number of votes is as follows : -
Mr. Biclen was Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State of New South Wales. He declared the result of the Senate elections on the 4th January, and, in so doing, publicily announced the number of votes recorded for each candidate at the election.
Secondly, Senator Neild complains that the information was kept back “ for the benefit of the Minister.” The answer to that is as follows : -
The declaration of the poll was made immediately the results were received from the various returning officers, and the announcement made by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for New South Wales on the 4th January, was not referred to the Minister, the Chief Electoral Officer, or anyone else, prior to the declaration. Senator Lb-Col. Neild evidently refers to information respecting the details of the voting in each division. This was not available until last Monday, the 29th ultimo, since when it has been printed and laid on the table of the House. The information was not kept back for the benefit of the Minister, who has frequently urged its early compilation for the purpose of publication, which was impossible, owing to a difficulty which arose in reconciling the local figures sent in by one of the assistant returning officers.
Why Senator Neild blames the Minister for keeping back the information, and for what purpose he should keep it back, I do not know, but evidently the honorable senator assumes for an improper purpose. Then he complains that the Government only paid the Chief Electoral Officer in New South Wales 15s. a day. The answer is as follows : -
With reference to Senator Lt.-Col. Neild’s remarks as to the salary of the Chief Electoral Officer, he evidently refers to that of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State of New South Wales, which was 15s. per day, and is considered adequate.
Then the honorable senator says that the Government paid the miserable sum of 11s. a day to presiding officers. The following is the official answer to that: -
Presiding officers were not paid11s. a day, as stated by Senator Lt.-Col. Neild, but received a minimum fee of £2 for the duty. In my opinion, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for New South Wales was adequately remunerated for the services which he rendered, and had a sufficient staff to enable him to carry out satisfactorily the duties entrusted to him.
Furthermore, Senator Neild stated that junior officers were sent from Melbourne to New South Wales. That was the trouble - sending fellows from Melbourne to Sydney. The reply is -
It was necessary, in the interests of public business, to send one of the Staff officers from thi Central Administration in Melbourne to the Sydney branch of the Electoral Department, for the purpose of dealing with arrears which had accumulated, and for adopting simple official forms of office procedure.
What could have been more reasonable than that ? I have now answered all the important points of the honorable senator,whom I suppose I must regard as the leader df the Opposition. I do not think I need say anything with regard to the coloured people who are going to Northern Australia. It must be remembered that the men referred to are engaged in pearling, but if we were to refuse to allow them to work with the pearling fleet the fleet would leave Thursday Island and go to the Dutch Settlements, and we should lose the trade with them. There has been a very interesting communication on this subject from the Government Resident of the Northern
Territory,Mr. Dashwood, in which he clearly points out that this would result if we refused permission to coloured men to be engaged in pearl fishing. I come to the speech of another leader of the Opposition, Senator . Smith. He commenced in the usual Opposition style. He told us that the Government were nothing but opportunists. He also informed us thatwe had included in the Governor-General’s speech all the thirty-nine articles that are contained in our Constitutional powers. Another of his rash statements was that we had brought forward propositions iri order to see how the wind blows. Evidently Senator Smith is practising in the belief that in the future he is going to be the real leader of the Opposition. Perhaps we have made a mistake in thinking that he is already in that position. But, still, “practice makes perfect,” and no doubt Senator Smith thinks that if he gets a little practice in making the usual Opposition attacks upon the Ministry he will “ get his hand in” and when his time comes he will be able to do it all the more effectually. I have heard statements like his dozens of times. They are always made by the official Opposition in every Parliament. We are always told that the men in office are opportunists, who are trying to find out which- way the wind blows, and to ascertain . whether Parliament is likely to support certain measures. They are charged with being “ indiarubber “ politicians, compressible, spineless, with doing that which they ought not to do, and leaving undone that which they ought to do, and, in fact, with all sorts of wrongdoing. It is the usual stock-in-trade of an Opposition leader.
– The honorable senator knows; he has been there.
– I have been there on more than one occasion, but I do not think I indulged in that kind of thing very much myself. I am not aware that there is anything else to which I have to refer, except, perhaps, the amendment moved by ‘Senator Dawson. The honorable senatorhas moved the following addition to the Address in Reply : -
That this Senate does not agree with any expression upon the question of preferential trade until definite proposals have been submitted to us by the Imperial Parliament.
In the. first place Senator Dawson must see that he is going against the views of the representatives of the whole of Australasia, of Canada, and Cape Colony, as expressed at the Ottawa Conference in 1894, and those representatives were leading men who occupied, or had occupied, leading positions in their respective countries. What do we say in the paragraph of the Governor-General’s Speech to which the honorable senator objected -
The reaping of bountiful harvests over the greater part of the Commonwealth revives the problem of insuring to the agriculturist a return which will repay his labour and encourage increased efforts.
The honorable senator takesno exception to that ?
– I do, because the Government presuppose that the reaping of bountiful harvests is due to the agitation for preferential trade.
– No, there is a full stop, and the reference to preferential’ trade comes after that sentence. We do not say that Providence has smiled upon us, because we are in favour of preferential trade. We say -
The preferential trade proposals now engaging the attention of the people . of Great Britain will, if approved, secure to’ us an immense and reliable market.
Is not that a fact?
– It is an absolute fact that, if approved, they will secure to us a bigger and a better market than we have now:
– Not a bit bigger.
– The fact that we shall get a better price for our products will encourage a larger production, and will help us in every way.
– How do we know? We have not seen any definite proposals.
– The statement is based upon Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals.
– What are they?
– I have already told honorable senators. In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech we only make the assertion that the preferential trade proposals, if approved, will secure to us an immense and reliable market. So they will. “ That is a fact, and Senator Dawson surely does not object to our saying that.
– I certainly do. It is a contentious statement, which should not appear in the Governor- General’s Speech.
– The . speech goes on to say -
My Advisers are pleased to note the cordiality with which these are generally regarded in this country, and are confident that the feeling will be strengthened when the statesman who is’ their author is able to visit ns.
Are they not regarded cordially in this country ? We ‘ had evidence during the election that they are so regarded all over the Commonwealth.
– No ; I won my election against them, and I secured over 180,000 votes.
– We know that there are some free-traders who object to all these things. They are aware that their occupation as free-traders will be gone directly Great Britain adopts protection, even in the mildest form, and even if only in favour of her own Colonies.
– The honorable senator cannot say that the question of preferential trade was an issue of the elections.
– Undoubtedly it was.
– Then how is it the Government fared so badly.
– If not, what did Senator Dawson mean by his reference to what he called the catching phrase which Mr. Deakin used during the election, “ Fiscal Peace and Preferential Trade,” which was emblazoned upon the banner of the Government? I do not think there is a single representative from South Australia’ who will not agree that the people of that State, will be very pleased if Great Britain will give us preferential trade. I do not know what the people of N ew South Wales may think I know that some of the people there are a curious lot. I know that sectarian difficulties arise in that State that do hot arise in the other States, and all sorts of things are going on there that are never heard of in other parts of the Commonwealth. It may be that the people of New South Wales do not approve of preferential trade, and I suppose they do not care for a fiscal peace.
– There is no peace.
– There is no peace for the wicked, we know. There never was, and there never will be. I have no desire to pursue the subject further. Senator Dawson had extreme difficulty in finding any one to second his amendment, and the honorable senator who did second it did so, I believe, only for the purpose of enabling the question to be discussed. I feel certain that, when the proper time comes, Senator Dawson will withdraw his amendment.
– I ask leave to withdraw it now.
Amendment, bv leave, withdrawn.
– The extremely light and airy way in which the Vice-President of the Executive Council can approach a subject of the utmost gravity is certainly remarkable. There is no subject of greater importance to Australia than is that of our Immigration Restriction Act, and perhaps I should not have spoken in this debate were it not that I wish to say something upon this matter. I do not care to consider what may be said about our legislation, or the views held by Australian members of Parliament. I believe the people of Australia hold higher and nobler views than- those which are embodied in our Acts. I have no hesitation whatever in saying that. I have for a long time, as honorable senators are aware, held views which have had very little . parliamentary support. I have not agreed with the views that have been held by any Government in Australia during recent years. But so far as my poor voice has had any influence I have spoken of the desirability of recognising the great coloured races of the world, and of dealing with them with some semblance of courtesy. Some three or four months ago, Mr. Eitaki, the late Consul for Japan, was leaving Sydney, and at a farewell function given in his honour, at which I was present, I said that I hoped that when he .got back to Japan he would remember that there were two Australias ; that there was one Australia represented by its legislation, and that there was another Australia which more nearly represented the hearts of the people, and which was represented in .the streets by the -cheers of thousand’s and tens of thousands as the Japanese troops who were here last year passed through them.
– We cheered them as visitors, but not as residents.
– This is not the first occasion upon which I have taken .the opportunity to say something of this sort. I have from first to last opposed the legislation of New South Wales. I have here a copy of a letter which I wrote in 1897 to Mr. Nakagawa, who at that time was Japanese Consul, and the predecessor of the gentleman to whom I have just referred. After he had left Australia I wrote to him, in 1897, a letter in which, referring to proposed legislation in New South Wales, I said -
When the time arrives for the final disposing of the matter, I am in good hopes that it may be arranged in a way that will give no offence to your countrymen. I beg you to believe that the people of New South Wales are more liberal and more friendly to Japan than the proposed legislation indicates.
I received a reply from Mr. Nakagawa, he wrote to me from Tokio, to say - ‘
I thank you. sincerely, for your kind note of the roth December. The tone of your letter relieves a heavy burden from my heart.
He says further -
I hope earnestly that you will let me know any important development regarding the relation of the two countries. For. as pioneer of the Japanese Consular establishment in Australia, I am truly interested in the good commercial relations that will grow up.
I have on all occasions done my best to uphold what I believe to be the true feeling of Australia. I have never said that we should throw the front door open to the coloured races of the world’, because I do not believe that we ought to do so. But we ought to remember that those races, which outnumber us by two to one, are God’s creatures, and have their rights in the world - that they have their sensibilities - which we should respect. No man to-day can look on the people of the East and say that they are all effeminate; and the time has come when it behoves us to recognise facts if we will not recognise common-sense and courtesy. We ought to remember that we are a portion of the British Empire, and that, as the Empire is a great Asiatic power, our interests are enveloped with those of the millions of Asia. There has always been associated with the name and fame of Great Britain a belief that she has ever done her utmost to promote the interests and welfare of all races, and that she is in sympathy with every country that tries to advance. I believe that Australians to-day are in sympathy with this aspiration of Great Britain. I cannot think that the legislation directed against those races is justified bv the hearts and consciences of the people of Australia, and here again I must enter my protest against such prohibitory Acts.
– Does Senator Pulsford
– I would rather not be interrupted ; I know the mind of the honorable senator. When the Immigration Restriction Bill was before us. Senator McGregor interjected - “ Senator Pulsford seems very fond of his Indian fellow subjects” ;’ and, on the spur of the moment, I replied that that was true, and that as long as God gave me breath I would do my utmost to speak on their behalf. I am not deterred by any slurs, and I am conscious that in any part of New South Wales - I do not care where, or before what audience - I should have the sympathy of those who believe in humanity, and in our race doing what is right. I do not care what some of our labour friends say, because, sooner or later, Australia will do what is right in regard to coloured races. The question of coloured labour on steamships lies but on the outskirts of this great subject, but it shows to what ridiculous extremes any fallacy, once accepted, may lead a great and generous people. Surely the time has arrived when we should be prepared to retrace some of our steps. As to preferential trade, Senator Trenwith made some observations of a very remarkable character. He told us that Great Britain is going down - that there was a time when Great Britain was the workshop of the world, and when British manufactures were used everywhere, The honorable senator also said that in 185 1 there was held in England a great exhibition, to which people from all parts of the world came, and that when they saw what Great Britain was doing in the way of manufactures, they proceeded to imitate her, and to ultimately oust her out of the markets. The same day I went to the library, and consulted the four volumes of catalogue of that exhibition, and I found that the two first were filled exclusively with British exhibits, while the third contained exhibits from foreign countries, the fourth being devoted to supplementary exhibits of both classes. -It is open to any honorable senator to obtain that catalogue in which he can see for himself the large number of exhibits in all classes of manufactures sent to the exhibition from foreign countries. An idea seems to be held by Senator Trenwith, and also by others, that there was a time when foreign nations were “nowhere” and Great Britain “everywhere.” In Mulhall’s Dictionary of Statistics I find stated the aggregate value of textile manufactures in England and France in the years 1841-50. In cotton goods, the value in the United Kingdom was £469,000,000, and in France £136,000,000, so that the United Kingdom, as we might all expect, was immensely ahead in this industry. In woollen goods the value in Great Britain was £249,000,000 and in France £233,000,000, or nearly the same; in linens the value in Great Britain was ,£103,000,000, and in France £105, 000,000, showing a difference of £2,000,000 in favour of the latter country ; and in silks the value in Great Britain was £108,000,000 antl£i40, 000,000 in France. These figures show that France was producing more silks and linens than was the United Kingdom, and yet we are asked to believe that the time of the great Exhibition, or when Great Britain adopted free-trade, the other countries of the world knew nothing about manufactures. The same authority shows us the consumption of iron per head in the year 1830. In that year Belgium was consuming iron to the amount of 63 lbs. per head, Sweden to the amount of 60 lbs. per head, and the United Kingdom to the amount of 53 lbs. per head. I am sorry that Senator Trenwith is not present, but as he seemed to indicate that I used figures in a way they were not intended to apply, I should like to say that it would be much better for any senator who holds that belief to quote an instance, rather than make such an easy and general remark. I have here more figures; which show the position of Great Britain as compared, not with all the rest of the world, but with the . United States alone, about the time, and after, the former adopted” the policy of freetrade. These figures are all taken from Mulhall, at page 552, an3 relate to carrying power of shipping. In the year 1840 the carrying power of British shipping was 60,000 tons in excess of the carrying power of the United States, while in i860 that of the United States was nearly 2,000,000 tons in excess of that of the United Kingdom. But in 1888 the carrying power of the United Kingdom was nearly 11,000,000 tons in excess of that of the United States. These few figures show clearly that at the time Great Britain adopted”fne -policy of free-trade there were large manufacturing industries carried on in various parts of the world, and that the shipping of Great Britain was as nothing compared with what it is to-day, and was relatively small compared with that of the rest of the world in those days. Perhaps the greatest feature of last century was the marvellous increase which took place in the population of Europe. I believe that we in Australia know a great deal more about both sides of the fiscal question than do the people of England today; but the English people are learning. Before this controversy is over they will know a great deal more, and I feel confident that the policy of free-trade will be held more firmly than ever. When 1800 dawned, the population of Europe, after fifty-eight centuries, was . 175,000,000, and a single century later it was 400,000,000, showing an increase of 225,000,000. It is from that marvellous increase of population that arises most of the great and startling changes in commerce and trade we see to-day. In the early part of last century Great Britain had to import a considerable amount of food, but she had to send her vessels no further than across the German Ocean, or to the Mediterranean, where all she required could be obtained. As the century went on, however, and the population of Europe grew, Europe not only ceased to be able to sell supplies, but entered into the markets of the world for food. To-day, Europe is actually importing more food products than the United Kingdom, and that is done mainly by Germany, which is the country in which we are most interested in the relation to the export of manufactures. That country, which exports manufactures, has to import food, and how can it pay for food without exporting something? It is the non-recognition of these simple facts that has led astray many of the greatest intellects at home. I have no intention to enter fully into this great and interesting subject. I am grateful to Senator Dawson for withdrawing his amendment, because at this late stage of the debate it would not have been in our power to do sufficient justice to the subject. I should like to say a few words, however, as to the mail contracts. Some time ago the Government told us we were to have a mail service, the vessels of which would run at lightening speed, and call at all the ports for produce. This Government, who were doing their best to prevent importation, were very eager, according to their own showing, to increase the imports into other countries. That, however, is all of a piece with protectionist logic. The Government in the first instance said they would have a service which would take produce to England at great speed, in vessels manned with white men only. That picture drawn by their imagination has faded away. There is no talk to-day about vessels going to the various ports and collecting produce, but we are led to understand that even the mails will have to go to England in vessels, which may have on board that terrible outrage on humanity - the coloured man. Some honorable members are rather surprised that mail tenders have not been freely offered. I think, however, that it is not generally recognised that speed is what costs money in shipping. A few days ago, I saw an estimate in this connexion made by the Admiraltyj and it showed that while a steamer of twenty knots would require a subsidy of £9,000 per annum, that subsidy would have to be increased to £200,000 per annum when the speed rose to twenty-six knots per hour. That explains ‘the reason why mail steamers cannot accept a paltry subsidy. When we see that all the leading countries of the world are anxious for their mails to be carried with all possible speed, and desire, so far as their finances will allow, to encourage the building and running of vessels at very great speed, we can perceive what is at the back of the policy of the Government, and what an unsatisfactory position is ahead for Australia when the existing contracts run out. From Senators Trenwith and Pearce, especially from the latter, we have had arguments in favour of heavy .land taxation, but I do not think that either of them has a sufficient grasp of the subject to entitle him to frame financial policies for Australasia. What would be the result of a land tax? What would it mean to the profits and the values of land? Why do people own land ? They own land for the same reason as they own other property, to make money. Suppose that a man owns a city property where the land represents the bulk of the value, and that it is returning 4 per cent., what demand on that return are you making? A tax of id. in the £1 on the value of many pieces of land would be equal to an income tax of 2s. 6d. in the £1, on the rental derived. It means the destruction of the capital values now existing by millions of pounds. How do people value property ? How do they value property but according to the return which can be got ? If the Government step in and say to a man - “ Out of your receipts we want 15 or 25 per cent,” then at once it aims a slashing blow at the value of property and destroys it. We have also heard some discussion about the banking system, and our banks have been referred to. Apparently some persons believe that our great banking, institutions are profitable subjects for taxation, and that the amateur may frame taxation schemes touching the banking system. Let our friends beware. During the last ten or twenty years the banks of Austiali.a have paid much less profit than the banks of Great Britain. Financial institution after financial institution has suffered, Many a big institution has gone down, and millions of pounds have been lost by n.ortgage companies.
– In spite of their great financial genius?
– Surely the honorable senator must be well aware that when a country is stricken by drought, and when prices fall by one-half on the other side of the world, no amount of genius can prevent the natural consequences of those events ; they must be boyie. The times in Australia are at present, we are happily able to say, a little brighter. We have been blessed with a bounteous harvest in various portions of the Commonwealth, and we have the promise of good seasons ahead of us. May they continue, for they will be needed. But let us be very careful that by our legislation we do not throw burdens on the interests of Australia which they cannot stand. Let us do our best to lighten burdens. I do not believe that any good can come to a country by the taxation of commodities or bv the taxation of land. Were it possible to sweep away all taxation, would it not be wise to do so? Since we must have taxation, so far as we can let us distribute it honestly in proportion to the ability of the people to bear it. That is the great object at which we should aim. I hope that the time will come when indirect taxation can be abolished. I would tomorrow, if I were able, sweep away all Customs Houses in the world, and insist upon the collection of all taxation in direct ways. But in order to be able to do this, we require to have certain conditions existing, and until these do exist that course cannot !be followed. Therefore we must do that which is best in our own interests, and at the same time remember that we cannot promote the welfare of Australia by laying crushing burdens on the very industries on which its prosperity depends.
– At this stage of the debate, I do not intend to speak at any great length, because I Slink that the opening speech is of such a character as to evoke very little hostile criticism. Of course we have had from various quarters the usual fulminations which we may expect to be hurled against the Government on such an occasion, but there has been no substantial adverse criticism of the Ministerial policy. That must be taken, as a tribute to the Government. Many honorable senators both on this side, and on the other, have referred to the conduct of the elections. I did not have to seek reelection, and perhaps I had not as much personal experience of what ‘occurred in the management of the elections, as had some of those who have addressed the Senate upon this matter. Several honorable senators, who like myself had not to seek re-election, have, . however, condemned in a very wholesale manner the administration of the Department as exemplified at the elections. But I think it would be well, if, before addressing themselves to this subject, they had borne in mind some singular and unprecedented circumstances. In the first place, it was the first occasion on which the people of the Commonwealth had been polled in a general election on uniform lines: And, in the next place, it was the first occasion on which a general election had taken place in the Commonwealth, with woman suffrage in operation. These two circumstances should be remembered by every person when addressing himself to the subject of the management, Ibr mismanagement of the electoral machinery. It is very easv for honorable senators to come here with a knowledge of the difficulties which arose in one or two portions of an electorate and with hearsay information . as to similar occurences elsewhere and to say. that the mismanagement of the general elections was almost criminally gross. Honorable senators should reflect on these circumstances before they enter upon a course of criticism. There have been some criticisms of .the administration in connexion with the compilation of the rolls. We have been told by more than one honorable senator, and we are told by persons outside, that the rolls were in a shocking state; that in many instances the names of some occupants of one house were on a roll and other occupants of that house could not find their names on the roll. Surely honorable senators who talk in that strain do not forget that it is only a .few months since we had a great many of the leading influential daily newspapers’ in the different States endeavouring to make a huge joke out of the collection of the names for the rolls. We were told that in each State the police were going round, and collecting the names, and we had almost a suggestion in the columns of many journals which were opposed to the extension of the franchise to women that those persons from whom the desired information was sought should show no readiness to furnish it to the officials. I know that in this citv the newspapers published, as they did elsewhere, criticisms on the collection of the names for the rolls, and in many of these criticisms there was almost an implied suggestion that no assistance should be lent to the Department in its effort to correctly compile the rolls. From information which I received at the. time, I can say that there were instances in which persons filled up the schedules in a jocular way, and incorrectly returned the names and descriptions of the persons in their houses. We have to remember these circumstances when we hear persons complaining that the rolls were so incorrectly compil’ed that they were deprived of .the franchise. I think that if many of these .cases were pursued back to the cause of the incorrectness it would be found that, not the Department or its compilers, but some other persons, were mainly instrumental in causing these defects, omissions, and inaccuracies about which we have heard so much. We are told in His Excellency’s Speech that the Government intend to consider the question of introducing a Bill to amend the Electoral Act. I think that in that connexion it might well be remembered that during the recent elections there was more than one instance in which ‘the wishes of a majority of the people of an electorate were nullified by reasoiv,of the fact that there was more than one candidate to contest the seat in the interests of the majority of the electors. In several cases we had the advent of splitters into a contest. In one electorate there may be a very substantial majority in favour of the Government or the Opposition or the Labour Party. Recognising that fact, there is more than one candidate from the party which is in the ascendant, and as the polling day draws near there is the intervention of some person who is representing the minority. By reason of the fact that there are more than one candidate representing the views of the majority of the electors, those electors have defeated themselves, and the minority have been able to return a candidate although he has not polled an absolute majority of the votes polled I think that feature of the electoral system ought no longer to continue. We had an opportunity when the Electoral Bill was before us of preventing such occurrences ; but we did not take advantage of it. The lessons of the last election should be laid to heart, and before another general election takes place, we should make provision to insure that the expression of the political opinions of the majority of the people at the polls shall, as far as possible, be reflected in Parliament. There were one or two matters which I thought might have engaged the attention of some of the critics of the Government, but we have been doomed to disappointment in that regard. We were told during the elections of the atrocious crimes which had been committed by Ministers in .connexion with the treatment of certain shipwrecked sailors. That case formed a subject for severe castigation of Ministers ; but since Parliament met there has been scarcely any criticism of the Government in the Senate in regard to that case. In my own State it was calmly and deliberately published in cold black and white that the Government of the Commonwealth had thrust poor shipwrecked sailors back into the waves, and it was sought by that means to arouse the bitterest antagonism against Ministers.
– It suceeded, too, in Hobart.
– It succeeded iri Hobart to a very great extent, but the Prime Minister was visiting Tasmania, and having an opportunity from the platform of meeting face to face large audiences, he was able to give the truth to them direct, so that his utterances could not be wholly distorted by any amount of journalistic ingenuity. He was enabled in that State to dispel to a very large extent the illusions which those who were opposed to him sought to foster. The electorate of Wilmot was contested by a strong opponent of the Government, but a gentleman for whose attainments, ability, and integrity, every member qf this Parliament had the highest regard; but even he, with all his experience, and the advantages he had in his favour, had a very severe fight to retain his seat. Another electorate contested by a former member of this Parliament an opponent of the Government was captured by a Ministerial supporter. That’ we were able to increase the following of the Government in Tasmania I attribute to the fact that the Prime Minister was able to come into contact with the electors, and to deal with these questions face to face with them. But what was the result in the other States? Day after day, until the elections were complete, the utmost ingenuity was displayed by certain organs opposed to the Government to distort every utterance of the Prime Minister and theother, members of the Ministry regarding the affair. The Prime Minister could not be in every State at the same time, and he could not travel as fast as this distorted information travelled. He could not overtake. it in every State and in every electorate. Wherever he could come face to face with the electors he managed to nail down this slander, for it was nothing more nor less than a slander. I have seen references to the Petriana case in a journal published in the interior of South Africa. Successive numbers of the newspaper which have recently came to hand have contained paragraphs dealing with the affair. It has been represented to the public of South Africa that the Commonwealth Ministry refused shipwrecked sailors permission to land. I have watched the successive issues of that journal, and there has not yet been a contradiction. The information that was published was taken from the Melbourne Argus, and has been proved to be false.
– They never did land in Melbourne.
– I never said they did. I said that statements which were published in the Argus have been proved to be false. The statement of the captain of the vessel was published there. It was afterwards proved that the captain had not been present at any one of the interviews respecting which he professed to give information. The captain went to Sydney directly his statement was published, and we were told to wait in patience for a day or two, when we should be able to hear his reply to the answer of the Secretary for External Affairs. That reply was published simultaneously in the Melbourne and Sydney papers, but never did the captain of the ship make any denial of the statements. He has never yet stated that he was present at any one of the interviews. There we had a specific statement of a high administrative officer of the Commonwealth, who had no personal motives to actuate him in taking a course contrary to law. His statement was not denied in any material particulars. Of course we have had a previous experience of tactics of this kind. During the previous recess the now historical incident known as the six hatters incident occurred. It was then attempted by the press which is opposed to the Government to galvanize that incident into life, so that it might be useful on the reassembling of Parliament, for the purpose of denouncing the Ministry. But when the opportunity for denunciation came, what happened ? Were the Government denounced ? Hardly to the slightest extent. As I think I said on that occasion, these gentlemen who had been so loud in their denunciation outside, once they sank down into . the cushioned seats of this chamber, roared like sucking doves ! All their threats of vengeance against the Government came to nothing !
– What about the Stelling incident ?
– That is a matter which is sub judice, and I shall not pass an opinion on it. I neither defend nor criticise the Government in regard to it. It will be dealt with in a proper way. But I do say here, and now, that both in regard to the six hatters incident and the Petriana incident, the Opposition press and party magnified and distorted the facts for party purposes, with the Tesult of discrediting the reputation of Australians abroad. I do not for a moment suggest that those who were originally responsible for these aspersions intended such a consequence. But that is what has followed from their acts. I have said unhesitatingly that these tactics were resorted to for party purposes. Although some o_f the Opposition organs were enabled to devote more than a column every morning to the Petriana incident before the elections, once the poll throughout the Commonwealth was closed they dropped all reference to it. If honorable senators will look through the files of the newspapers they will see what an amount of space was devoted to the incident before the elections. Then if they turn to the newspapers two or three days after the elections they will find not a single line’ about it; and there has scarcely been a line about it since until the last few days. That is clear evidence that the intention in publishing those distortions of fact was to influence the elections. Reference of an unfortunate kind has been made to the principles of the Navigation Bill. I think that honorable senators might restrain impetuosity which leads them to such criticism until they see the measure. We have been told that it is desired to place all the shipping companies engaged in the interState traffic on terms of equality. Legislation of that character is in operationinthe United States, in Canada, and in New Zealand, and it has had none of the disastrous effects that are predicted for it here. In discussing the Navigation Bill, we shall have the advantage of the experience of those two countries. One honorable senator has suggested that the Bill might interfere with the trade by steamer between Tasmania and the old country.
– And between Australia and the old country.
– If the principle is affirmed, that all Inter-State shipping should be placed upon terms of equality, it clearly cannot apply to traffic which has its terminals in Australia and some place outside Australia. That is to say, if a vessel is trading between Tasmania and Great Britain that will not be Inter-State traffic. It will be oversea traffic. But if that vessel, in trading between Tasmania and Great Britain, chooses, whilst in Australian waters, to trade between Tasmania and Victoria, Victoria and South Australia, and South Australia and Western Australia, I take it that so long as she is occupied, in that trade she must conform to the conditions which we lay down for the regulation of Inter-State traffic. But the moment she leaves her last Commonwealth port the principles of our Navigation Bill with regard to equality of conditions would not apply to her.
– They could not apply.
– I am not concerned with whether they couldo r not ; they will, not apply. It has been stated by Senator Dobson that even a provision of that character would have a very serious effect upon Tasmania, because it would interfere seriously with her tourist traffic. He said that Tasmania desired to become the playground of Australia, and that that State has a large and increasing tourist traffic, with which she does not want interference. I give Senator Dobson the utmost credit for the energy, industry, . and enterprise he has shown in connexion with the advancement of the tourist traffic But I hope honorable senators will not think, because Senator Dobson dwelt so much on that point, that the people of Tasmania are content with the idea that the destiny of their State is to be no higher than that of becoming the play-ground of the Commonwealth.
– She should be the workshop of the Commonwealth.
– Tasmania should be the Belgium of the Commonwealth - the workshop of the Commonwealth. I am not depreciating in any way the advantage to Tasmania of the tourist traffic which has grown up there.
– Chiefly in one portion of the State.
– I am not depreciating its advantage and importance to Tasmania, but I do not think it right that people should imagine that the Tasmanian people look forward to that State, becoming the play-ground of the Commonwealth as its entire destiny. Tasmania has immense natural resources. Its agricultural resources, though not so extensive as those of the iarger States, are still very rich, and its mineral resources are almost unbounded.
– There is timber also.
– There is timber also, and Tasmania has, I believe, greater facilities than has any of the other States for the establishment of manufactures. In connexion with the tourist traffic, to which Senator Dobson has referred, in the event of the Navigation Bill being passed with a provision that all Inter-State shipping, wherever it is owned, shall conform to the same conditions, the position will simply be that the ocean liners at present calling at Hobart for the purpose of taking home shipments of apples, and leaving Hobart for Melbourne, and then f.or Europe, via Western Australia, will have to conform’ to the conditions with regard to the rate of wages, and the accommodation for seamen that will be made applicable to Australian owned Inter-State shipping. It seems to me that Senator Dobson’s argument is that, under these circumstances, these ocean liners would discontinue the” carrying trade between Tasmania and other States of the Commonwealth. I should like to know, from- the honorable and learned senator, how much trade of that character they carry at the present time. In the way of freight, I think, they carry very little indeed. In the matter of passengers, there is perhaps a growing traffic. But, as a matter of fact, the particular passenger traffic that is conducted between Tasmania and the mainland States by the ocean mail boats, is limited to a certain class, and to a certain period of the year. I believe the fares charged are higher than those charged by the Union S.S. Company, which is the largest shipping company controlling communication between Tasmania and the other States.
– Then they do not undercut fares ?
– They do not. I think they charge something considerably above the passenger rates of the Union S.S Company. I do not know that the accommodation provided is in many respects superior to that provided by the Union Company, on some of their boats. Those who use the big mail boats in travelling from Tasmania to Victoria, or round to Adelaide, are quite content to pay something over and above what they would be charged by the Unjpn Company, and they are agreeable to pay the higher rates for “tone.”
– The honorable senator’ is not referring to the Pateena and the Coogee.
– No, I was speaking of the boats trading between Melbourne and New Zealand, which call at Hobart. These are the boats of the Union Company which mainly enter into competition with the English mail boats. These Union Company boats are supplied with every convenience, and their accommodation is quite equal to anything that could be expected. I think there is no objection to them, and if an extra fare is paid for a passage by the mail boats it is paid for the “ tone.” Senator Pearce referred to the question of finance. The honorable senator has pointed out a method by which, in the adjustment of the financial relations of the States with the Commonwealth, provision might be made for the imposition of an uniform land value tax throughout Australia. He has referred to the advantages which’ would accrue from the adoption of such a course. I have not had an opportunity of seeing and considering the report of the honorable senator’s remarks, and I am not in a position to-night to enter upon a detailed criticism of them. It did, however, seem to me, while the honorable senator was speaking, that it was to be understood from his remarks that there was no desire on his part to see the bookkeeping sections of the Constitution’ altered at the end of the five years.
– I desire to extend their operation.
– I wish to say that if that is the attitude which is to be taken up by all the representatives of Western Australia, in the interest of the people generally, it is very much to be regretted. When we entered into Federation under the Constitution, we frequently heard the statement made that for the first few years, at any rate, the Federation into which’ we were entering would be an imperfect Federation. -It was said that until we had a common purse, into which would be put the. whole of the revenues derivable from Federal sources, and’ from which would be taken all expenditure necessary for Federal purposes, we should, not have a Federation in the true sense of the word. We were told that these provisions with regard to bookkeeping, crediting and debiting’ each State with revenue received and money expended, and all the provisions differentiating between new and transferred expenditure, were to characterize the working of the Constitution only in its initial stages. The people of the States believed, when they voted for Federation, that these provisions were intended to operate only for a few years, to serve as a guide to those who controlled the destinies of the Commonwealth in arriving at some more equitable and more Federal adjustment as early as possible.
– Was it-not, also, with a view to allowing conditions to become somewhat equalized?
– And of course with the object of allowing alterations made in the systems previously in force to work harmoniously, that we might see their effects.I allude particularly to the operation of the Tariff, for instance. Coming as we did into a union of six States having different Tariffs, but asked at an early date to adopt one Tariff applying uniformly throughout the States, but only as against over-sea countries, and with the establishment in each State cif the new condition of InterState free-trade, we had to face new circumstances, to which it was quite right we should attach temporary arrangements such as the bookkeeping sections of the Constitution. But I think that the sooner we can dispense with those sections in order to establish something of a more Federal character, the better for the people and for the States.
– The Commonwealth collects from Western Australia £1 per head, and hands back £4 per head.
– That is the Federal idea?
– Undoubtedly it is the Federal idea.
SenatorPearce. - The Commonwealth collects from Tasmania only about £2 10s. or £2 12s. per head.
– That is the Federal idea also.
– And the excess revenue derived from Western Australia is distributed amongst the other States.
– Will the honorable senator tell me of one instance of a Federal form of government in operation, other than that in Australia, where there is not a common purse?
– The conditions between the States are more equal in other Federations.
– I should like here to. say that it must certainly be a matter of gratification ‘ to many to have noticed that, since the meeting of Parliament, more than one member of another branch of the Legislature has confessed that, since the publication of the reports in connexion with the Petriana incident, sufficienthas been learned to create a very -different opinion of the conduct of the Government from that entertained when people were dependent entirely for their information upon the press. I was present at a sitting of the House of Representatives when an honorable member, who is a staunch Oppositionist, admitted that he preferred to take the account given by the Prime Minister rather than that for which he believed the captain of the vessel to be responsible, and I notice that a similar reference has been made by another member of that Chamber. To return to the subject with which I was more recently dealing, it appears to me that two of the honorable senators from Western Australia seem to suggest, from their interjections, that what I have said with regard to the alteration of the bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution is not altogether federal. I ask those honorable senators, and others who share their opinions, whether they can give one concrete instance of a community under a Federal form of government which has not a common Federal purse, into which goes all the revenue derived from Federal sources, and out of which comes all the expenditure necessary for the maintenance of Federal institutions. Senator Pearce replies that those extraordinary provisions, if I may so call them, were placed in the Constitution owing to the exceptional circumstances in Australia, and with the object of providing a means of watching the operation of Federal conditions during its early years. Nobody, I think, can dispute that view; but still, to have a common purse is a much more Federal attitude than is exhibited by those who desire to prolong the operation of these bookkeeping sections. Senators Pearce and Henderson have interjected that Western
Australia is contributing something like £7 per head to the Customs revenue, while Tasmania contributes only between £2 and£3.
– That is owing to the large adult population in Western Australia.
– It is through the operation of the Tariff, and owing to the fact that Western Australia has a large adult population, which consumes dutiable articles to a greater extent per- head than perhaps is the case in other States. Still there is the difference in the contribution that I have indicated, and it is suggested that if we had a common purse Tasmania would benefit at the expense of Western Australia. Do honorable senators who hold that view take up the position that while Western Australia obtains any benefit they intend to be thoroughly and truly Federal, but so far as sharing anv of the burdens of Federation are concerned, they intend to be distinctly provincial ?
– Certainly not.
– If honorable senators do not intend to maintain that attitude they will view the continuance of the operation of the bookkeeping provisions very differently from the way in which they now seem to view them.
– One-fourth of £7 is greater than one- fourth of£2 12s., so that Western Australia contributes to Federation more per head than does Tasmania.
– Western Australia does nothing of the kind. Under the operation of the bookkeeping provisions the expense debited to Western Australia is expense incurred in that State.
– Omitting new expenditure.
– Omitting new expenditure, which is shared throughout the various States in proportion to population, so that the same amount per head is contributed in Western Australia towards new expenditure as in Tasmania. Nobody doubts that one-fourth of , £7 is greater than one-fourth of£2 12s. ; but that fact has no relevance to my argument.
– That is the amount of the contribution.
– I wish to impress on Senator Pearce that, so far as new expenditure is concerned, the people of the Commonwealth contribute equally per head in whatever State they may be.
– My point is that the Commonwealth Government have power to expend the whole one-fourth of the Customs receipts.
– But as a fact the Government are not doing so.
– But they have the power.
– It is not a question of what the Government have the power to do.
– It is a question of what the Constitution provides.
– Senator. Pearce himself, in the course of his interesting remarks last night, said that the Comonwealth Government were returning a surplus over and above the three-fourths of the Customs revenue which, under the Constitution, they are bound to return. The transferred expenditure incurred in Western Australia may be greater per head than elsewhere; but that is expenditure which the Commonwealth Government is bound to keep up in consequence of the transfer of the Departments.
– I am not disputing that. ‘
– Western Australia is getting the full benefit of that transferred expenditure ; but as to new expenditure, the honorable ‘member cannot surely contend that the per capita distribution varies.
– What I say is that the Commonwealth Government have the right to expend the whole one-fourth, and that, if they did so, Western Australia would contribute in a greater proportion than Tasmania.
– And that excess could only be used in Western Australia as transferred expenditure. I am not discussing contingencies, but what has actually taken place, and is taking place ; and I contend that the sooner we have a common purse, the sooner we shall be properly federated. Honorable senators from Western Australia lose no opportunity of advocating the construction of a transcontinental railway, and’ they wish its construction to be regarded as Federal work. But if the cost of that railway was borne by the whole community, New South Wales and Victoria would, as Federal expenditure, each contribute a great deal more than Western Australia, and Tasmania would contribute almost as much as Western Australia.
– It is a national railway. The revenue raised in Western Australia is purely Western Australian, while the railway is an inter-State work.
– The railway between New South Wales and Victoria, and also that between Queensland and New
South Wales, are inter-State railways, the revenues from which are received by the respective States affected.
– They are not Federal railways.
– We are now. asked to connect the railway systems of Western Australia and South Australia, and honorable senators from the former State wish the expense to be borne by the whole of the people. Under such circumstances the cost would not be shared by the States in proportion to benefits received, but in proportion to their population, and Tasmania, which is almost as populous as Western Australia, would bear just as much as the latter State, while New South Wales and Victoria, between them, would bear by far the larger proportion. In regard to the railway those honorable senators wish to stand on Federal ground, but the moment we point out to them that by the reason of the accidental circumstance of their having a large adult population, which consumes per head more dutiable goods than the population of the other States, Western Australia receives a larger revenue than perhaps is wanted, and when we ask for a common purse, they say, “ No ; the money belongs entirely to Western Australia.” Let us take another instance afforded in the case of the northern State of Queensland. During last session we passed what is known as the Sugar Bounties Bill, under which bounties are paid to persons who grow sugar grown by white labour. If the people of Tasmania took up a distinctly provincial attitude, they would ask how such legislation affected their State,’ seeing that they are troubled with no influx of coloured labour.
– Some senators from Tasmania did take up that attitude.
– That was the view of some of the Tasmanian electors.
– I did not take up that attitude, and I am sure that Senator O’Keefe did not, and the fact remains that Tasmania does contribute to the sugar bounties.
– And so does Western Australia;
– Quite so ; and Tasmania, in contributing, is playing the Federal part. But the moment we point out that Tasmania entered the Federation believing that the bookkeeping provisions were to be only temporary, and that there was to be a common purse, we are most emphatically told by the representatives of
Western Australia that that must not be so, because that State, owing to its peculiar circumstances, is getting the benefit of the Customs Tariff to a much larger extent than any of the other States, so far as revenue is concerned. In addition, Western Australia has the advantage of having had in operation for nearly three years a special Tariff, under a sliding scale, against importations from the other States.
– A very doubtful advantage.
– That may be ; but the sliding scale special Tariff is there, and the people of Western Australia must recognise that it is an advantage.
– That is not fair criticism ; Western Australia could not have joined the Commonwealth without that provision.
– I am not questioning for a moment whether or not the provision is a proper one, but simply saying that it exists.
– It is exceptional, treatment.
– It is exceptional treatment, and that it is an advantage is shown by the fact that, although the Western Australian Parliament has power to dispense with the sliding scale special Tariff, that power has never been exercised. The Federal Parliament has no power to interfere in the matter ; but the State Parliament, though it may, if it likes, remove the special Tariff, has never, whether they regard it as an advantage or not, thought fit to do so.
– The Western Australian Parliament represented a minority until about a couple of years ago.
– I am concerned only with the single circumstance that Western Australia has this special Tariff in its favour. Representatives of Western Australia insist almost unanimously that the transcontinental railway shall be a Federal undertaking, and their attitude towards the bookkeeping provisions suggest a disposition on the part of the western State to say - “ We are Federal when there is an advantage, but when there is any expense or burden to be borne we are distinctly provincial.”
– The honorable senator wants to rob Western Australia to the extent of , £600,000 a year.
– There is no desire to do anything in the way of robbery. The honorable senator has lived long enough in Western Australia to know that he could cut up that State into several areas, and find that the contributions to the revenue through the medium of customs duties in those areas is very dissimilar. He would find that in some parts of the State, three times as much per head is contributed through the Custom-house as in other parts. We talk about Australia being one fiscal area. We say that there are no lines dividing the States, that there is only one Tariff not operating between the States, but only, against imports coming into the Commonwealth. But what is all this talk about Australia being one fiscal area, if the revenue which is returned by the imposition of fiscal duties is for ever to be allocated in accordance with the contributions of different parts of that one area? Western Australia is one territorial area for the purposes of its State Government, but it may be divided up into several distinct areas contributing per head of the population through the Customhouse differing amounts. No one from that State would pretend for a moment that each particular locality is to have the whole benefit of the revenue which it contributes. We have to look upon Australia fiscally exactly in the same way as Western Australia looks upon itself for State purposes - as a whole.
– I undertake to say that everyone of the areas contributes more per head than does Tasmania.
– I am not concerned with the question of whether the amount is more or less in that connection; I contend that they contribute unequally.
– How does the honorable and learned senator know?
– I assume that they do. Will the honorable senator deny that they do?
– The honorable senator is prepared, I think, to deny almost anything. When he is forced back into the position that he is prepared to deny in the case of Western Australia what is and has been- the experience of every country in the world, then I think that he is gravelled for lack of argument.
– The whole argument of the honorable and learned senator is that the Eastern States should dip their hands into the pockets of Western Australia.
– The honorable senator can make use of a cheap phrase of that kind if he chooses, but my attitude is nothing of the kind. I distinctly point out to him that, despite the provision for a sliding scale in the Constitution, the six States in the Commonwealth are to be treated as one area when we deal with matters fiscal. When we’ put on a uniform Tariff to operate not in respect of any interchange of products between the States, but only against imports coming into the Commonwealth; when we have that Tariff operating uniformly over one fiscal area we should treat the people in that fiscal area as the inhabitants of one area. If we do that, we shall have one common purse for the reception’of the revenue derived from the uniform Tariff. We shall have in that common purse one means of expenditure for all Federal purposes, for which purposes I submit that the people of the six States are one people and not six peoples. I submit that those who oppose the alteration of the bookkeeping provisions are really trying to arrest the proper development of the Federal ideal.
– Robbery !
– That may sound very well to the ears of the people in Western Australia.
– It is an attempt at robbery.
– From an honorable senator who represents a State which would not come into the Federation unless it had the right for five years to tax the products coming to it from other States, a charge of robbery comes with very bad grace.
– May we not postpone this discussion for seven years?
– As the opening speech indicates that the Treasurer intends to do what is possible to adjust the financial relations of the States, I venture to suggest it affords a good opportunity to establish a proper permanent Federal system of finance in place of a temporary provision.
– We cannot do that without an alteration of the Constitution.
– We can._ The provision is to operate for a certain time, and then to continue, unless the Parliament otherwise provides. I think that the Federal authorities might well consider the a’dvisableness of substituting a more Federal system for that which exists. There are two matters that more particularly affect the State I. represent which I would like to deal with. In the first place, I refer to the means of communication between Tasmania and the other States. It was pointed out here, more than once in the previous Parliament, that in our State we are considerably handicapped, owing to the fact that, on all telegraphic communication with the Commonwealth, we have to pay toll to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company. Our telegraphic system is connected with the telegraphic systems on the mainland by a cable which is operated by a foreign company - that is, foreign in the sense that it is not the same operating body as works the telegraph systems throughout the States of the Commonwealth. Negotiations have taken place between the Government and the company in connexion with the acquisition of that cable. I do not know if an opinion has been taken by the Federal authorities as to whether the cost of purchasing the cable is to be treated as new or as transferred expenditure.
– As new expenditure, of course.
– I do not know. I did not commit myself on that point in ‘the question which I asked to-day. I am not discussing the matter from the legal point of view ; but I do entertain the opinion that it should be treated as new expenditure, for the simple reason that it connects the telegraphic systems owned by the Commonwealth on the mainland and the telegraphic system owned by the Commonwealth in Tasmania. Senator Pearce. - Surely that proves it to be a transferred service.
– It is not in the territory of Tasmania or of Victoria; it is not in the territory of any particular State.
– For a distance of three miles it is. ‘
– I think that Tasmania, and I believe Victoria, would each be quite prepared to pay the cost of maintaining the cable for that distance. This link has been in existence for over thirty years, and it connects the telegraphic systems of the Commonwealth. The difficulty in connexion with Tasmania is that, in addition to whatever the Commonwealth charge may be for the despatch of a message, we have to pay to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company the sum of one halfpenny per word. That amounts to a great deal in the business of a merchant, or of any one who has occasion to do much telegraphing. In Victoria^ person can telegraph through three States, some thousands of miles, at the rate of is. for sixteen words, including the address and signature. But in Tasmania we cannot send a message to Victoria, a distance of some 200 miles, without paying that rate and an additional halfpenny per word. That is an anomaly which I think was never intended to remain in existence when the Federal authorities assumed control of the telegraphic systems of the State, and whatever may be the legal opinion on the question as “to whether it is new or transferred expenditure, I hope that the authorities will see their way at the earliest possible date to do away with the anomaly, so that the people of Tasmania may participate to the fullest extent in the advantages of the federalization of the telegraphic systems. Another matter to which I would like to direct the attention of Ministers has been referred to in the daily press quite recently. It is in connexion with what occurred at Hobart during the visit of the General Officer Commanding the Military Forces, accompanied by the Minister for Defence and the Secretary to the Department. On that occasion a parade was called for, and quite a large number of the men did not present themselves. The General Officer Commanding made some scathing remarks to those who did attend, with reference to the conduct of the absentees. An inquiry has since been held, and if the accounts in the press this morning are correct the Board of Inquiry has reported adversely upon the conduct of the men, and it is suggested that some exemplary punishment should be meted out to the absentees. I would point out to the Ministers that this is not a new trouble. When the Attorney-General held the portfolio of Minister for Defence it was brought under his notice in the Senate on more than one occasion. When an exsenator moved the adjournment of the Senate, to consider the treatment of the Tasmanian forces, the Minister promised that provision would be made for camp pay to those forces ; but the ex-senator, inadvertently I think, omitted to refer to the general treatment of the forces, which was the cause of a great deal of their grievances. They felt that they had not been treated as they were entitled to be treated. According to the Defence Acts of the State they were militia. In order to meet the retrenchment which was introduced into the State some years ago, they were quite content for a year or two to forego their pay ; but they were still liable under the Acts under which they were enlisted to be called out for daylight parades, and to be in other respects treated as militia. Legally, they were militia; actually, they took the position of volunteers. They consented to take the position of volunteers so far as the question of pay was concerned, while the State was being tided over its financial difficulties. As Federation approached, they were told that there would be no alteration made with regard to their payment until they were taken over by the Commonwealth, when they would find that all their grievances would be redressed.
– Who told them that ?
– The officers kept the men together by telling them that they would be legally entitled, as I believe they undoubtedly are, to pay, and that the State was not granting the pay because it had to tide over a financial difficulty; and that in consideration of that fact it had ceased to exercise its power of calling them out as militia. They were asked to wait patiently until they were taken over by the Commonwealth, when they would certainly be treated similarly to the forces in the other States. They were taken over by the Common-, wealth, and from that moment they were treated as volunteers. It was pointed out to the Federal Government time after time that tEese men had legally the status of militia, and were entitled to pay. The men and officers found that those who occupied corresponding positions in the mainland forces were receiving pay. But nothing was done by the Federal authorities to treat them as militia. Eventually a more determined representation was made, and the Government were asked why the men were treated differently. In a minute that was published by the then Minister for Defence, Sir John Forrest, it was stated that the Tasmanian forces were not receiving pay, owing to the strong representations of the State Government. I myself asked a question in the Senate as to whether such representations were made by the State Government. The answer was “ Yes,” but when a search was made it was found that no specific representations had been made.
– I said that there had been no specific request.
– But I asked the question upon notice as to whether representations had been made by the States Governments, and if so, whether there was any objection to producing those representations ; but it was found that no representations of a specific character had been made.
– That was after the debate on Colonel Cameron’s motion, but no Minister in the Senate said that there had been specific representations.
– No; I am refering to Sir John Forrest’s minute. As a matter of fact, it was found that all that had occurred was that a suggestion had been made to the Federal authorities by the Queensland and Tasmanian Governments that they should be careful about their transferred expenditure. Provision was made for pay to these men when they went into camp, but still no provision was made for their ordinary pay. They were not paid when they were brought out on daylight parades. Many of the men have to leave their own work and put others on to take their places when they went out on daylight parades. They were asked to continue as they were doing for years past, rendering gratuitous service to the State at their own expense. The Minister, Major-General Hutton, and the Secretary for Defence went over to Tasmania, and the men were asked to turn out on parade on a Saturday afternoon. They considered that they had exhausted every possible means of bringing their grievances before the authorities. They did not turn up to that parade. If they were volunteers, I take it that they were not bound to attend. If they were militia and were bound to attend they committed a blunder. But the whole argument of the Commonwealth authorities has been that they were volunteers. When they did not attend parade an inquiry was held, and they were condemned for their action. It has been represented in the case against the men, and I think Major-General Hutton made reference to it in Tasmania, that they had proper means of communicating their grievances to the authorities. Undoubtedly they had. They could communicate their grievances through their commanding officer, but unmistakably they were’ sick and tired of doing that. They knew, moreover, that their grievances had been ventilated time and again in the Senate on Supply Bills. Yet there was no redress, and there seemed to be no disposition on the part of the Federal authorities to attempt to alleviate their grievances. Under the circumstances, I ask Ministers to look with some leniency upon the action that was taken by these men. Is there any necessity for vindictiveness ? Is there any necessity to carry out the suggestion made in one of the daily newspapers that they should be disbanded? They are men who have given time and money to the service of the State. They have taken their training year by year, in daylight and at night time. Is it proper that they should be treated in this way when they take a course, which, however, wrong it may be, seemed to them, after nearly two years of persistent agitation, to be the only one which would bring home to the authorities a sense of the grievances that they entertained?, The Minister for Defence, at any rate, should be ‘ asked by his colleagues in the Senate to give consideration to the fact that repeatedly this subject has been discussed, and that nothing has been done to meet what was the obvious wish of those who were interested in the Defence Forces of that part of the Commonwealth. I should like to deal with some of the remarks which have been made by Senator Dobson. More than once he has twitted Ministers with being in alliance with the Labour Party. The evidence he brings forward is the statement made by Senator de Largie that in Western Australia the Labour Party captured seven out of eight seats, and might have captured another one had they run a candidate against Sir John Forrest; and that if Sir John Forrest did not mend his ways before the next election the Labour Party might bring out a candidate and take his seat from him. From Senator de Largie’s remark, Senator Dobson deduces the conclusion that there is an alliance or understanding between Mr. Deakin and Mr. Watson.^ The honorable and learned senator has, I think, got the question of an alliance between the Government and the Labour Party “ on the brain,” as the phrase goes. It has been the fashion in the conservative press, and on the part of members of Parliament opposed to the Government, to hold up the Ministry as being dictated to and drivenby the Labour Party. We are told in the press organs of the Opposition, that it is a question of saying “ Yes “ or “ No “ to Mr. Watson, and that that is what Commonwealth administration and legislation has come to. Senator Dobson has defended at great length the P. and O. Steamship Company - a company concerning which it has been stated, that when its name comes up in the House of Commons it is almost impossible to obtain an explicit reply, because the company exercises so much influence there. During the course of this very debate, Senator Dobson has strenuously combatted the legislation of the Commonwealth which provides that subsidies shall not be granted to mail ships that employ other than white labour. He thinks that there is something alarming in that circumstance, and believes that if the Commonwealth authorities are compelled to resort to a system of poundage rates, they will be paying poundage rates to vessels that employ “ blackies.” But we shall have the satisfaction of knowing at any rate that we are paying to shipowners who employ “blackies” no more than the Postal Union rates, and are not giving them any subsidies. It is quite a different thing to pay a subsidy, and to pay the amount fixed by the Postal Union for services rendered. Now, Senator Dobson has occupied a high and distinguished position in Tasmania, and. has discharged the responsibilities attached to the office he has held with great credit to himself. He was in office as Premier from the 27th of August, 1892, to the nth of April, 1894. Onthe 5th, 6th, 7 th, and 8th, of March, 1894, a Postal and Telegraphic Conference was held at Wellington, in New Zealand ; and on the 19th of March the Conference was held at Auckland. At that time Senator Dobson was Premier of Tasmania. Tasmania was represented at that Conference. It is true that no onewas sent over from Tasmania to the Conference. The State was in a period of drastic retrenchment at the time. But theofficial report of the Conference on the 6th of March, under the heading of “Representation of Tasmania,” contains the entry -
The Honorable Mr. Ward (New Zealand) laid upon the table a telegram from the Premier of Tasmania, authorizing him to represent Tasmania at this present Conference.
The Conference passed without a division, but after discussion, this proviso -
The Honorable Dr. Cockburn (South Australia), seconded by the Honorable Mr. Wilson (Queensland), moved, and the question was proposed, that the following new sub-section be added to paragraph 2, to stand as sub-section (j).
Tenderers to state what class of labour they intend to employ iri their vessels, and that a recommendation be made to the Imperial authorities that mail steamers should be manned by white crews.
That representation, which was agreed to without a division, went to the Imperial authorities in England. No note of dissent was sounded from Australia. The Imperial authorities pointed out that they could not conform to the request. In 1895 another Conference of the Post and Telegraph authorities of the different States - or Colonies, as they were then - was held. The same principle was then affirmed by a reso lution in still stronger terms. The representation was sent to England.
– Was that Mr. Joseph Cook’s motion?
– Yes. In November, 1895, I think it was, the reply came from the London Post Office that the Imperial authorities could not see their way to adopt the suggestion. In 1896, in Sydney, the resolution was again confirmed and strengthened. Not one single organ of public opinion in the Commonwealth . then said a word about the Labour Party. There was a united expression of opinion on behalf of the seven Colonies at Wellington, at Hobart, and at Sydney. Thrice was that expression of opinion made to the Imperial authorities. Not a single organ of the press in the Commonwealth then stated that it was passed at the dictation of the Labour Party.
– Was Senator Dobson a member of the Tasmanian Legislative Assembly at that time ?
– He was; and neither he nor anyone else said that what was done was done at the dictation of the Labour Party. If honorable senators will look to the personnel of these different Conferences, they will see the reason why no such suggestion was made. I do not think there was at any of these Conferences any member who would have been regarded as a member of the Labour Party in any of the States, unless, perhaps, Mr. Joseph Cook.
– No; Mr. Cook had left the Labour Partv then.
- Mr. Cook had left the Labour Party then. But immediately the Commonwealth Government having the power, which the different States, divided before, had not, to’ carry this principle into effect, proposed to carry into effect what had been affirmed and re-affirmed as the desire of the people of the seven Colonies, it was said that they were doing so at the dictation of the’ Labour Party. I think that some reference in the circumstances might be made to what is taking place in the Imperial Parliament in regard to this matter. I remember that in speaking on this subject on a previous occasion, Senator Pearce submitted to the Senate quotations from speeches made in the House of Commons, in which it was shown that honorable gentlemen of standing and repute in that House deplored the growing tendency on the part of British ship-owners to employ coloured instead of white labour, and urged the necessity for legislation to restrain what they considered a tendency calculated to impair the efficiency of the mercantile marine of Great Britain.
– The honorable and learned senator is trying to rob the Labour Party of any credit for the White Ocean policv.
– The Labour Party do not enjoy a monopoly of credit for that policy. They must admit, when they consider what was done at the several Post and Telegraph Conferences held in New Zealand, Tasmania, and New South Wales, that they are only re-affirming as a party what other people in the Commonwealth gave expression to before the existence of the Federal Labour Party. Senator Dawson suggested that. Mr. Deakin had been using sweet and soothing sentences in his attempt to delude the electors, and to delude this Parliament. The honorable senator, in common with others, has stated that, in his opinion, a policy of “ Fiscal Peace and Preferential Trade” is a contradiction in terms.
– So it is, absolutely.
– I find that Senator Dawson is not the only honorable senator holding that opinion. I can understand Senator Pulsford entertaining many theories which do not accord with practice. I have heard the honorable senator most eloquently discourse upon theories which will not stand the test of practical experience. I can quite understand that anything of a fiscal character, emanating from a Government led by Mr. Deakin, will not meet with his approval. On principle, he must be against it. But, so far as practical experience of preferential trade is concerned, fiscal peace and preferential trade are not incompatible.
– They do not seem to go hand in hand in Great_Britain.
– Great’Britain has not of late years established any system of preferential trade with any country, in the world. Great Britain had a system of preferential trade many years ago, and established that system with its Colonies and plantations without any fiscal war arising in consequence.
– The Colonies were never consulted.
– No, it was Great Britain that was consulted. She adopted preferential trade in favour of her own Colonies and plantations, unattended by fiscal war.
– That was for the benefit of British capitalists, who were working slave labour in the sugar trade.
– That is the very kind of labour the honorable senator desires to see introduced into the Commonwealth, and I, therefore, am unable to see why he should make that a charge against the British people. My point is that Great Britain established a preferential tariff in favour of her own Colonies and plantations without a fiscal war as the result. I directed the attention of honorable senators to the fact that within the last few months we have had in New Zealand a tariff altered to a preferential tariff. We have provision made in New Zealand for the imposition of a surcharge on goods coming into that Colony from countries other than the United Kingdom, over and above the ordinary duties imposed. That was the establishment of preferential trade, and what fiscal war occurred when that proposal went through the New Zealand Parliament?
– The Opposition in New Zealand were not strong enough to fight.
– I am saying that preferential trade was established there without any fiscal war.
– Can we do the same thing in Australia ?
– After the Conference held in London in 1897, Sir Wilfrid Laurier introduced in the Canadian Parliament a Bill making a rebate of 25 per cent, upon duties in favour of goods coming into Canada from Great Britain. There preferential trade was established in a way directly opposite to the way in which it was established by New Zealand. It was established in Canada by lowering instead of raising duties - by lowering duties in favour of British commodities - and there was no .fiscal war.
– Did that not cause a fiscal war with Germany ?
– Later on the rebate of duties in favour of British goods coming into Canada was increased from 25 per cent, to 33-^ per cent. - a further instalment of preferential trade - and there was no fiscal war in Canada as the result.
– There was a fiscal war with Germany on account of it.
– I am not talking of that. I am talking of the ripping up of the tariff of the country giving the preference^ and that I .take it is what is meant by a fiscal war in this connexion. I take it that when the Opposition speak of preferential trade bringing about fiscal war, rather than fiscal peace, what is meant is that it will involve a review of our own Tariff and a reiteration of the arguments for and against each item in the Tariff.
– If we change the whole basis of fiscal taxation that cannot be called fiscal peace.
– If that is all the honorable senator means when he speaks of fiscal peace being incompatible with preferential trade, I may be disposed to agree with him.
– That is what I mean It is a contradiction in terms.
– Can Senator Keating tell us what has become of the Papua Preference Bill?
– I imagine that Senator Pulsford is more intimate with that measure than any other member of the Senate. I point out to honorable senators that there is another instance of the etsablishment of preferential trade relations, in the near past, that did not involve any fiscal war. I allude to the case of the United States and Cuba. Since the American-Spanish war and the annexation of Cuba by the United States, preferential . trade relations have been established with Cuba, and the United States Tariff operating against the rest of the world, operates differentially against Cuba.
– There was a fiscal fight in the United States Senate over that.
– Was the whole of the United States Tariff re-opened ?
– There was a fiscal fight.
– There was a fight over the question whether there should be a preference given to Cuba or not, but not a fiscal fight, involving a reconsideration of the various duties fixed by the United States Tariff. I take it that the electors throughout the Commonwealth understand that fiscal peace or fiscal war turns on the question of whether the Tariff, as a Tariff against other, countries, except in so far as applies to those whom we desire to give a preference, should remain intact. The question of whether the United States should give a preference to Cuba did not involve the consideration of the duties imposed by the United States against outside countries. When the Prime Minister spoke of fiscal peace and preferential trade, I venture to think that most of the electors of the Commonwealth understood that what was meant by fiscal peace was that the Tariff as against other than those for whom we established a preference would remain practically as it was. In these circumstances it is idle for honorable senators to say that there is anything incompatible between fiscal peace and preferential trade. In four instances within the last ten years we have seen the adoption of preferential trade relations, and in connexion with not one has there been a fiscal war of the character contemplated by the Prime Minister’s reference to fiscal peace in this connexion.
– What about fiscal peace on the question of the bonus for the iron industry ?
– Can the honorable and learned senator answer for the Government that they will not raise duties against the foreigner ?
– I cannot answer for the Government upon any matter.
– The honorable and learned senator is arguing, on behalf of the Government, that they will not.
– I have argued nothing of the kind. I have pointed out that New Zealand has adqpted a system of preferential trade bv raising duties against’ foreigners, and allowing their Tariff to remain as it is against British goods. I have pointed out that that did not result in any fiscal war, and the Bill to give it effect went through the House ofRepresentatives and the Legislative Council of New Zealand in about a week.
– It does not follow that the same thing will happen here.
– I hope it will.
– I am arguing that fiscal peace and preferential trade are not incompatible, and when I instance the case of New Zealand, Senator Gray falls back upon the statement that the New Zealand instance does not prove that the same result will follow here. I have shown that Canada, following the reverse of the process adopted in New Zealand, reduced duties upon British goods, and thus adopted preferential trade, and without any fiscal war. I have pointed out also that the United States adopted a system of preferential trade with Cuba, which did not involve a fiscal war. My arguments have been directed to combat the assertion that preferential trade and fiscal peace are incompatible, and I have given concrete instances to show that they are not incompatible. I have now touched upon all the matters that I intended to refer to, and in conclusion I can only echo the sentiments expressed in the concluding words of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that the’ work of the session may be productive, as I believe the work of previous sessions of the Federal Parliament has been, of the greatest benefit to the people of Australia.
– The speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral has been discussed at such great length that I am doubtful whether anything new or specially informing in connexion with it remains to be said. . I am told, however, that the Government have no business to go on with ; that the Senate has been summoned merely as a matter of form, and will shortly adjourn for two or three weeks, and that being the case, I do not see why we should not discuss some of the very important matters referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s speech at greater length. Several questions of vast importance to the Commonwealth are referred to in the speech. One is the taking over of States debts by the Commonwealth. Then we have preferential trade, immigrationj and the birth-rate, assistance to agriculture, conciliation and arbitration, and old-age pensions. In fact, the Government seem to have run through the whole gamut of reform. One thing I particularly notice in connexion with fEe speech is, that while the Government point out several matters which urgently require to be dealt with, they very carefully refrain from setting out what their policy is. The Government seem to be following the example of that illustrious individual of whom we have all read, and whose name is Micawber - they are waiting “for something to turn up,” not having the courage, capacity, or originality to “ turn up “ anything for themselves ; and the Opposition is not one whit better. There are three parties in the Chamber, one of which is anxious to retain, while the other is anxious to gain, office ; and that is everything that can be said of them. The third party - the one to which I belong- are not anxious to obtain office, but only to promote the welfare of the Commonwealth. We have a clear-cut, definite policy, which we are not afraid to promulgate, and which, if we had a majority in Parliament, we should be prepared to carry into effect. We have the Government and the Opposition glaring at each other across the chamber. The Opposition grudge the “flesh-pots of Egypt “ to the Government, while the latter eagerly grasp at office, hanging on to its skirts by every means, and willing even to make alliance with that devil of politics, the Labour Party, if by doing so they can maintain their positions. Just look at the attitude of the Government with regard to the population question. I have read the speech which the Prime Minister made at the meeting of the States Treasurers, but what better am I for that? I did not get a single idea from the honorable gentleman’s utterances. The Prime Minister has, no doubt, put his finger on a very sore spot, but he is like a medical man who examines your tongue and feels your pulse, but confesses himself unable to prescribe.
– Doctors generally claim to know something.
– The head of the Government is honest, at any rate, when he confesses his incapacity to name a remedy. Now the Labour Party is prepared with a remedy for this lack of population. What lies at the root of the trouble? Why is Australia stagnating in the matter of population? Our young men do not marry, simply because they cannot afford to do so; and I know that numbers of young women of Tasmania come over to Victoria in the vain hope of finding matches. I recently visited the socialisticridden Colony called New Zealand, where there is legislation of the kind the Labour Party would be very glad to introduce in the Commonwealth. The whole of New Zealand, from one end to the other, was full of business, and I can compare it to nothing else but a hive of bees in the summer time.
– Were there no unemployed? .
– No, I do not think I saw a single unemployed man.
– It is the garden of Australia!
– New Zealand was a fine “garden” in the time of Sir Julius Vogel, much as Tasmania is at the present time. _ I have been in Tasmania, and I have often wondered how it is possible that such a fine, fertile country should be so wretchedly poor and unprogressive ; but since I have come into contact with a gentleman who was at one time Premier of that State,. I wonder no longer. When in New Zealand. I was very giad to have an opportunity to visit a number of factories’ there,’ and one fact that struck me was that it was scarcely possible to find there a young woman of over twenty years of age who was single. There are no middle-aged old maids in the factories in New Zealand; at any rate, I do not think I saw one during the whole period of my visit. All the women workers I saw were young, fresh, blooming, and handsome, ranging ‘from sixteen to twentytwo years of age; and when I asked the managers of several of these factories to explain how it was that no older women were employed, I was invariably told that employment was so plentiful and wages so good, that the young men were prosperous enough to follow the dictates of nature, and get married. If we had good government in the Commonwealth, we should not hear so much about the birth-rate, which would take care of itself. In addition to increasing the population from within, good government would undoubtedly tend to attract people from without. Why do people go to Canada and the United States? Simply because, in those countries, they can get free land, instead of having to pay from jQio to £30 an acre as in Victoria. Canada is very often compared with Australia, to the disadvantage’ of the latter, but those who make the comparison forget that Canada is just over the border from 80,000,000 of the best-off people in the world, and only 3,000 miles from 400,000,000 of poor, wretched, miserable Europeans, who are very glad to find a country in which they can make a living.
– Are these people welcomed in Canada?
– Certain]^ they are, as they would be welcomed in’ Australia. Canada can offer land free, but where can that be done in Australia? Here in Victoria the Government are actually compelled to buy back land, and from this State people have been driven at the rate of 10,000 a year for the last ten years - 100,000 of the flower of the community, mainly young men between twenty and thirty years of age. These young men have been driven away by those wretched landlords who monopolise all the finest areas in this finest of the States. What is the good of honorable senators talking piously about increasing the population and encouraging immigration, if they have no definite scheme to lay before the people of the Commonwealth ?
– Would the honorable senator allow immigrants to come here under contract ?
– Why should they come under contract when they can make their contracts after arrival, and not be the slaves of the land-owners ? Men Who emigrate desire to go to countries where they can be their own employers, as in Canada. In Victoria, however, all the best land is monopolised by a few, and within a short distance of Melbourne there is no less an area than 3,000,000 acres - owned by, I think, sixteen families. Senator Walker, who is a fine accountant, may be able to calculate how many poor families these 3,000,000 acres would support, giving each family 200 acres.
– And that is some of the finest land in Australia.
– The Government of Victoria seem absolutely impotent to deal with this very pressing question simply because the land-owners hold them in the hollow of their hands. The’ Federal Government simply say - “ We point out the difficulty, but we cannot suggest the remedy.” Why not? If the States Governments will not impose taxation which will compel the land-owners to either use the land themselves or dispose of it to others who will, it is open to the Commonwealth Government to use their undoubted constitutional powers and impose direct taxation. The Commonwealth Government, however, are not a direct taxation Government, but a revenue Tariff Government, masquerading in the guise of a protectionist Government. Senator Playford’ dropped the mask this afternoon when he said that he and all of us were revenue tariffists; but God forbid that I should be a revenue tariffist, who advocates a deadly method of taxation which presses most cruelly on th;e great mass of the people. Such taxation neither creates industry nor breaks up monopolies ; and it appears that we merely have a choice between the revenue tariffist who goes about as a protectionist, and the revenue tariffist who poses as a free-trader. We are between the devil and the deep blue sea, because both are frauds and shams, and the enemies of direct taxation.
– Are you a single tcixcr ^
– If I were in Great Britain I should be, but in Australia I recognise very fully that we must have other sources of taxation than land. If we could break up the land monopoly we should be .able to offer immigrants not free land - because I believe that to be impossible, except in the youngest of our States - but land at from £i to £3 per acre.
– At its fair use value.
– Yes ; and we should then, I believe, have thousands of young men coming to Australia. But we have nothing to offer, and can give no encouragement to artisans, labourers, or farmers tilling their own land. We must not forget that while Canada is within 3,000 miles of Europe, Australia lies at a distance of 16,000 miles, and that is a very serious handicap; but if we break up the land monopoly I am sure that immigrants will come here. I do not know about South Australia; but I know that in Tasmania land monopoly rules from one end of the State to the other, and that is the chief reason, I believe, why it is so backward in prosperity. New Zealand was in exactly the same position under the rule of Sir Julius Vogel.
– Is there much land to be got there for nothing ?
– There is not a great deal of land to be got in New Zealand for nothing. The one blemish I saw in that Colony was in the agricultural industry. It is being largely over-capitalized, and if this is not soon checked there will be a reaction. If the Commonwealth Government really had the courage of its opinions, it would grasp this nettle, and if it did not impose direct taxation it would compel the States “to do so. What is the good of talking in a vague, indefinite manner about immigration and popuflation unless some remedy is proposed ? The party with which I am associated has a clear policy. We would break up this and every other monopoly by hook or by crook. We would free the land and the mines. We would make the resources of the country available not only to the people who are here, but to such others as might come here from Europe and America. What is the policy of the Government? It has no policy, no recommendation tel. make; It simply states a difficulty, and then runs away from it. Then we have the question of preferential trade, to which apparently the Government thought itself entitled to commit the Commonwealth. As a citizen of the Empire, I am prepared to consider how a policy of this kind will affect my fellow citizens in Great Britain. If the people of Great Britain - our best customers - are prosperous, it nearly always follows that we also are prosperous. The best thing which could possibly befall Australia would be a 50 per cent, rise in the wages of the British workman. If his wages were increased by that amount, he would be able to buy our products - to wear woollen clothing instead of shoddy, and to eat meat occasionally instead of looking at it once a month as he does at present. As it is, being miserably under-paid, being mostly in a wretched condition-
– The honorable senator had better go and see them.
– Surely honorablesenators do not know more about the condition of British workers than Mr. Chamberlain. He says that England is losing har trade.
– The leaders of the Labour Party in England do not make that statement.
– I am dealing noi with the leaders of the Labour Party, but with the leaders of the Liberal and Conservative Parties, who say that one-third of the people of Great Britain live continually on the verge of starvation.
– One-tenth the honorable senator means.
– The leaders of the Labour Party say that not only one-third, but a much larger proportion of the people of Great Britain live in that condition. I lived in Great Britain much longer, I believe, than I shall live in Australia, and I know something of the condition of British workers. I say that no man in Australia ought to give his adhesion to any policy which would increase the price of food to these wretched millions in the old country. Will this policy of Mr. Chamberlain increase the price of food to these people?
– Inevitably it’ must’.. If it does it is a policy which is inimical to the interests of the vast majority of the working people of Great Britain. It is purely a policy to increase the rents of the land- . owning class.
– Hear, hear.
- Senator Walker and I do not agree very often.
– The honorable senator always agrees with him when he iswrong.
– The honorable senator who interrupts has not had the same advantage that I have had. He has only lived in Australia. I have had the advantage, or disadvantage, of living in Great Britain.
– So have I.
– I may tell the i honorable senator that if I were in Great 1 Britain I should be a free-trader, because I- j believe that free-trade is the only wise j policy for that country. But, being in Australia, I am a protectionist, because I believe that protection is the best policy for this country.
– It is a matter of latitude.
– It is not a matter of latitude or longitude, but a matter of time, place, and circumstances. That is just where rabid free-traders like the honorable senator make a mistake.. He says that, because pap is good for a child, therefore it must be good for a man. Any man of common-sense knows that a child must be treated differently from a man - that a young tree requires shelter, water, and attention.
– Protectionist children always remain children.
– America is a mighty big child, which is going to swallow its father.
– It is still a child; it wants protection we are told.
– If I were living in Great Britain I should certainly be opposed to any policy of preferential trade. Believing, as I do, that it is against the interests of the great mass of the working people of Great Britain, M am opposed to the policy. But some one will say to me, “Well, it might be bad for the people of Great Britain, but surely it would be very good for us.” If this policy would increase the price of the food of the people of Great Britain, if it would add to the cost of their raw materials, would it not injure them in the markets of the world ? They could not produce so cheaply. They could not cope with the competition of other countries, and, therefore, they would lose their trade. If they lost their trade we should lose our market, and it would not do us any good. There is another aspect of the question which might very well be considered. We do most of our business with Great Britain, but we” hope some day to find in the United States a market for our commodities. I am hopeful that before very long we shall find a free” entrance for our wool into that country. It would offer a much better market for our wool than Great Britain, if we could only get an entrance. But if we were to raise a wall, to give Great Britain a preference over the United States in our market, the latter might very well say to us, “ We shall not give you any advantage in our market.” Take Germany and France, which’ buy a great quantity of our wool. Are we going to offend them ? Can we, in Australia, gain anything by adopting this policy? I do not think so. I think that our best policy is either to keep our Tariff as it is or to raise the duties, if possible, and, in any case, to put every nation on exactly the same footing. I believe that the difficulties with which Great Britain is confronted are not at all attributable to free-trade. If <he is losing commerce, it is not because i-f her free-trade policy, but because of the heavy royalties which are paid to the landowners, and the differential rates which the railway companies ciiarge. Private enterprise, landlords, and money lords are ruining Great Britain, and rendering her incapable of competing in the markets of the world. When I was in Glasgow they were erecting new municipal buildings. The roofing was principally composed of iron. Tenders were called for, and the contract was obtained by a Belgian firm. There was a great outcry, and it was asked, very pertinently, I think, by the people in the district, how it came to pass that in the very centre of the iron and coal industry they were not able to compete with Belgium. An inquiry was held, and it was demonstrated clearly that the Belgians were able to undersell the local people entirely because of the higher royalties which the Scotch landlords extorted. If the people of Great Britain, instead of bothering themselves about fiscal questions, only had the courage to throw the landlords off their backs they would find themselves in a position to compete with any community. We have had the Treasurers of the States discussing the question of the transfer of the States debts. In this matter we have the old Australian failing of desiring something for nothing. The Treasurers wish to pay less interest for their loans, and in that way to save some money. I do not think that the bond-holders would be very likely to give us much advantage in that way. Those who derive a certain income from their investments in Australian stocks would, I think, insist upon getting the same, or as nearly as possible the same income, even if we were to change the stock from State to Federal I do’ not see that much is to be gained in that direction. But some of the proposals of the Treasurer, Sir George ‘ Turner, do not seem to me t.o be of a character that ; ought to recommend them to the Federal Parliament. If we adopt his proposals, we shall find ourselves in this position - that we shall be tied down for all time to a revenue tariff. He proposes to pay the interest on the debts out of Customs revenue, and to draw upon the railway revenues of the States for any deficiency. That does not appear to me - of course I am not a financier like Sir George Turner - to be good business. The railways ought to stand upon their own legs. The money which has been spent in building them was borrowed with the intention that they would pay, not only the cost of running them, but also interest on the money borrowed to construct them. That principle ought to be adhered to, and if there is any deficiency - if the railways will not pay - some method of taxation ought to be resorted to. Why are not the railways paying? In the Commonwealth Parliament, we cannot, unless we are prepared to go very much further than the Government seems willing to go, discuss such questions with much profit. But the railways are not paying, simply because in many cases they are run through huge, unoccupied, and uncultivated areas. Why are those areas unoccupied and uncultivated ? Because in many cases they are in the hands of speculators. So that we get back again to the monopolist. We meet him at every turn. He obstructs our view, no matter which way we go, and it is being brought home with increasing force every day, that unless we can drive him out of our path, no progress is possible. If the Commonwealth Government take over the States debts, the inevitable corollary is that the Government must take over the assets. Are we going to make ourselves responsible for the interest upon the debts, whilst the States Governments manage the assets as they please? Such a proposal is ridiculous, and could never have emanated from a man who was really anxious to promote the best interests of the Commonwealth. The whole thing appears to me to be a cunning scheme to save the land-owners from direct taxation, and to throw the whole burden of the interest on the Customs. But suppose the Customs revenue decreases, as I think it inevitably will - I hope it will until ultimately it becomes a very limited amount - what will happen? The bondholder must get his interest. It must come from somewhere ; and as the lands along our railway lines have been made valuable, mainly by means of the money borrowed for the construction of those railways, the people who own the land may fairly be called upon to make up the deficiency. I think those are the lines upon which the Commonwealth policy ought to go. But, as I have pointed out, the Commonwealth Government, while it sees all those difficulties, and realizes them to the full, has not the courage to grapple with a single one of them. What is the good of talking about them if we do not proceed to do something? The whole situation appears to me to be most unsatisfactory and unprofitable. We want to have a Government at the head of affairs that has initiative - a Government that has not only the discernment to see the difficulties, but the courage and capacity to deal with with them. I do not know where such -a Government . is to come from. It is not visible at the present moment. We do not see the elements of it on the Government side of the House, and we look in vain on the Opposition side. I am afraid that the Commonwealth Parliament will have to renew its youth, as the eagle is said to do, before we have any measures which are likely to make for the . progress and prosperity of the Commonwealth. Then the Government talk in a delightfully vague fashion about assisting agriculture, giving bounties, and generally distributing largesse. Why does not the Government come down with particulars, and tell us what it is proposed to do.? They talk of assisting the farmer. We had butter bonuses in Victoria. They no doubt established the industry. But they have not helped the people who work in the industry one iota. The men who milk the cows and who make the butter are just as poorly paid to-day as they were ten years ago. They have to work long hours and submit to just as hard conditions as they did then. The whole benefit of the butter bonuses, so far as I have been able to discover, has passed into the pockets of the owners of the land. If we give bounties or assistance of any kind, .unless we also have a land tax moving hand-in-hand with ‘ those aids, the private enterpriser will again benefit by State assistance. I am opposed to anything that will lead to that end. Then there is some ‘talk about appointing a High Commissioner. When Federation was established it was generally understood that the various Agents-General ‘ were to be recalled, that the Commonwealth was to appoint a High Commissioner, that he would do all the work, and that a very great saving would be effected. But not a single one of the States has shown the slightest disposition to recall its Agent-General. Very often the office ‘ of Agent-General is used as a harbor of refuge for some politician whom his colleagues wish to get rid of and to provide for. We had one case of that kind in Queensland. Sir Horace Tozer became a thorn in the side of the then Government, and they provided for him by sending him to London as Agent-General. It appears to me that exactly the same kind of thing has happened in Victoria, where Mr. Taverner, at a salary of £1,000 a year, has been sent to England. If the Commonwealth Government appoint a High Commissioner, I hope he will be an active business man, who will be something more than a diplomatic agent.
– The model State does not do that kind of thing.
– The model State does not seem to me to be very much better than the other States.
– Which is the model State ?
– Queensland. Did not the honorable senator know that? I trust that if the Government makes this appointment, some gentleman of commercial experience, who will not be too big for his boots, who will not put on too many airs, and who will not be too fond of going into society, will be appointed, and that he will be able and willing to promote the best interests of the Commonwealth. I am very glad that the Government plucked up sufficient courage to protest against the importation of Chinese into the Transvaal. Having committed the blunder of assisting in the destruction of the Boer Republics, it was only right that the Government should protest against this scandalous proposal to introduce Chinese into the Transvaal, whilst thousands of white working men are there, able and willing to work, and in very great need of employment. It was professed that the war was fought in the interests of freedom, and to secure for the people the franchise. They have not got the franchise now. Chinese are to be introduced, without so much as saying “ by your leave,” to the people of the Transvaal. The Englishman was all right, so long as there was some fighting to be done, some blood to be shed, some robbery to be committed. But, after the deed was done, and when the profit was to be secured, he was politely told that he was not wanted, and his friend, John Chinaman, is to be introduced upon the scene. I am glad that the Government had the courage to protest.
We do not expect such things of the Commonwealth Government, but occasionally we are agreeably disappointed. I am glad to think that the noble example set by the Premier of New Zealand has been followed, and I am of opinion that, as we have gone in for an Imperial policy, more or less, every portion of the Empire is interested in what is being done in every portion of the Empire, and ought to express its opinion in circumstances such as these. As to the Federal Capital question, we are told that it is desirable that a final settlement shall be come to at an early date. I am in no hurry to settle this question. I am satisfied that Bombala is the best site, and intend once more to vote for Bombala, if the question is brought up. But I must say that the conduct of New South Wales is not such_ as to incline members of this Parliament to hurry the settlement. We have been met in the most unfriendly spirit by New South Wales, or rather by the governing power in New South Wales. The Commonwealth Parliament passed’ a resolution affirming the desirability of securing a territory at- least 1,000 square miles in extent. We were immediately told by the New South Wales Government that they would never consent to give us that area.
– Why should they?
– They say we must be content with ioo square miles, and I say that I should not be content with that.
– They asked that the agreement should be carried out.
– That is not the agreement. The agreement is that the Federal Territory shall be not less than ioo square miles in extent. It may be as much more as the Federal Parliament may determine, and the New South Wales Government is willing to give. I may tell Senator Gray, who appears to be such a strong advocate of the claims of New South Wales, that if the people, of that State are not reasonable in this matter the Constitution can be altered, and the capital fixed in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, or even Tasmania. The honorable senator must be aware that the Constitution is not like the law of the Medes’ and Persians, which could not be altered. It may be difficult to alter the Constitution, but it can be altered; and if New South Wales continues to adopt a dog-in-the-manger policy the people of the Commonwealth, in a fit of disgust, may say, “ If you will not give us what we have declared, ‘through the mouths of our representatives, that we are anxious to get, we shall have the Federal Capital somewhere else.” I hope that the Federal Parliament will insist on getting a territory of at least 1,000 square miles. For my part I should like to see the Commonwealth acquire a territory of 5.000 square miles. I think that, in addition to Bombala, we should have Eden, because I believe that a Federal port is an absolute necessity for the Commonwealth.
– Then, the Commonwealth must pav for it.
– Certainly the Federal Government will pay for it. Did the honorable senator think that we wish New South Wales to pay for it, when we know that it takes that State all her time to pav her own way, without providing more than a fair share for the Commonwealth ?
– Even when she sells the family heritage.
-i hope that what I have heard with regard to the Government not being ready to go on with business is not true. I trust that the Navigation Bill, which we are told is to be introduced in the Senate, will be brought before us at once, lt contains, I believe, some hundreds of clauses. It will take us some time to get through with it, and it will be iniquitous if we are now asked to adjourn for three weeks, and have to sit late at the end of the session. I have nothing more to say, except that I hope the Government will pluck up a little courage. Having pointed out several matters which require to be dealt with, I hope they will take heart of grace, will seize the nettle, and will attempt to do something instead of talking about it. If they show a little backbone, I can assure them that so far as I am concerned personally I’ shall give them all the support I possibly can.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Powers of the Senate.
– I move -
That the remaining notices of motion and order of the day No. 1 be notices of motion and order of the day for Wednesday next.
In making this motion I may, perhaps, be permitted to make a few remarks upon a question to which I omitted to refer when speaking upon the Address in Reply. The matter is to some extent a personal one, and also affects the Senate. I refer to the criticism passed upon paragraph 14 of the Governor-General’s Speech. The paragraph reads -
The Estimates of Expenditure will be framed with economy, having clue regard to the magnitude and importance of the interests under your control.
As that is addressed by His Excellency to the House of Representatives, the word “ your “ makes it appear as if the subject dealt with in the paragraph was under the sole control of the House of Representatives. That criticism has been offered, and I wish to say that, so far from that being in the minds of Ministers, we recognise that there is a dual control of Commonwealth finances. We know that if the Senate has not in every particular the same control over the finances as has the House of Representatives, it has a very considerable control, and a very much larger power than the Upper Houses of the States Parliaments. I regret that the use of the word “ your “ in the paragraph quoted should have given rise to some little misapprehension as to what members of theMinistry really think. I take a certain amount of blame to myself as leader of the Senate that I did not read the paragraph in this light when it was under consideration by the Cabinet. I can assure honorable senators that there* is no intention on the part of the Government to claim for the House of Representatives any more power over matters of finance than that House is entitled to under the Constitution.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Wednesday next.
– I should like to say a word about the business which is to occupy the Senate during next week. On almost the first day that I entered the Chamber there were discussions going on between honorable senators and Ministers about adjourning for two or three weeks. It was apparent that we had very little business to do, and a sufficient number of Bills to occupy our attention were not distributed. We have been looking forward to an adjournment for two or three weeks, and some honorable senators have gone to their homes.
I do not think that they will be at all inclined to travel1,000 miles to attend the Senate next week in order to discuss a little Bill which is not of great importance, and the consideration of which may occupy perhaps an hour. They are, certainly, not in- clined to come here to discuss the question of the admittance of Chinese to the Transvaal, not because that is not a question of great importance, but because Ministers have already dealt with it. But there is a question in which every member of the Senate takes an interest, and that is the appointment . of a Chairman of Committees, and the motion of which notice has been given by Senator McGregor. Although that honorable senator has given fair notice of what he proposes to do, we can say, “ Thank you for nothing,” when we consider the day upon which he proposes that his motion shall be discussed. A number of honorable senators will be absent on that day; there is no substantial business on the paper to demand their attendance. I have already spoken to Senator McGregor, and have asked him to be good enough to postpone his motion so that we may have the question fought out when there is a full attendance. I am sure that neither Senator McGregor nor the candidate for the Chairmanship, whom he very properly proposes, desires that the appointment shall be made by a snatch vote. Every honorable senator is anxious that there shall be fair play in the appointment of that officer, especially when some of us are thinking of discarding the old and valued Chairman of Committees we have had for three years.
– The honorable and learned senator must not discuss that question now. The only question before the Senate is . that the House at its rising adjourn till Wednesday next. ‘
– If I am out of order I withdraw, but I thought I was giving proper reasons why, if we consent to the Senate meeting on Wednesday next, we should ‘tlo so with an understanding that the motion to which I refer will be postponed. I am entirely in the hands of the leader of the Senate. I do not believe that Senator McGregor or any member of his party, desires that the motion shall be decided at other than an important sitting of the Senate, when Government business will be before us, and honorable senators who are not present will have , no excuse for their absence. I say that any member of the Senate may. be excused for being absent next week, when there is no business of importance to demand his attendance, and when we were led by Ministers themselves to expect that there would be a long adjournment. I leave the matter now in the hands of the leader of the Senate.
– Senator Dobson did have a few words to say to me in connexion with this question, but had I consulted my own convenience and the convenience of a large number of honorable senators, instead of giving notice of my motion for Wednesday next, I should have given notice of it for to-day. I did not do so out of consideration for every member of the Senate who was not present. I desired to give honorable senators a week’s notice, and if they are not prepared to sacrifice their pwn personal interests or convenience in the interests of the country, they have no . business to be here. I am not going to consent to a proposition when it is impossible for me to get an opinion upon it from those whom I endeavour to represent, and who have as much right to be considered in this Senate as anybody else. I hope the leader of the Senate will give us an opportunity, not only to do private members’ business, but all other business which can be done on Wednesday and Thursday next, if necessary.
– If we cast our minds back, we shall remember that, . in the last Parliament, the time for the discussion of private members’ business was very much curtailed. Seeing that the Government have not a great deal of business on hand just now, and that there are already several private motions of great importance On the business paper, we should take advantage of the opportunity we have to discuss those motions. Notice of a motion for the appointment of the Chairman of Committees has been given, and most honorable senators are aware of it. The proposal to alter the Order of business now for the advantage of honorable senators who are absent should not be entertained. I hope the Senate will meet on Wednesday, and will go on with the business on the paper. There is ample business to occupy us over next week, and I am satisfied that unless we take the opportunity to discuss matters now we shall not have time later on in the session. Every excuse will be urged for the shelving of such motions, and, therefore, I hope at this stage there will be no waste’ of time.
– I know that the remarks I am about to make will be somewhat out of order, but as you, sir, have allowed two or three honorable senators to refer to the somewhat informal observations of Senator Dobson, I take the oppoitunity of re-opening the question. I am one who thinks that honorable senators ought to be here to perform the duties they are paid for undertaking, and I certainly shall try to bear that in mind in my own practice. At the same’ time, .when senators have to come from a distance and leave their business, they should, other things being equal, be considered if that can be done without injustice and inconvenience to others. We have sat on only two days this week, and there are important notices on the paper which might very well be dealt with to-morrow, but which now will be postponed until next week, when probably we shall meet for only one day. That being so, I think we might as well finish tha business to-morrow, and thus meet the wishes of some honorable senators without inconvenience to any one. A matter on which I can speak with absolute impartiality is the motion referring to the appointment of the Chairman of Committees. It is desirable that the appointment should bc made by the majority of the Senate, and honorable senators might fairly be expected to aid in having the matter settled at a time when there is a large attendance. I should not excuse honorable senators for not attending, especially when ample notice has been given, but at the same time there is very little business down for next week, and it is probable that a number of honorable senators will be absent. Under the circumstances it is just possible that the senator elected to the- Chair may not represent the choice of the majority. I need hardly assure honorable senators that I have no personal feeling in the matter, my only desire being, as I am sure it is the desire of other honorable senators, to see the election carried out in a fair and proper way.
– One or two honorable senators approached me, and urged mat it would be only fair to give ample notice of the day on which the motion for the election of the Chairman of Committees would be considered. I went to Senator McGregor, understanding that he intended moving that Senator Higgs should take the chair, and suggested that the request made was one which it was desirable to grant; and Senator McGregor, directly the Senate met last Wednesday, gave notice of motion for the following Wednesday. I had promised the honorable senators who spoke tome that I would do all I could to see that ample notice was given, and I thought oneweek a fair interval.
– It is not ample notice.
– Is it not usual to elect the Chairman of Committees on the occasion when the necessity for a Chairman first arises?.
– There is nothing to prevent his election at any time, but the Standing Orders imply that it should becarried out at the earliest possible moment. Ample notice has been given, and if it is so very important, as I admit it is, that the Chairman of Committees should be chosen by a majority of the Senate, it will be the fault of honorable senators if they are not presentto record their votes. I personally have nothing to do with the motion, and if Senator McGregor had been willing to further postpone its consideration, I should have acquiesced. Senator McGregor, however, is not willing for a further postponement, and, seeing that there are three very important items of private-business on the noticepaper, I think the House might meet on Wednesday. The- Government will then be in a position to lay the Navigation Bill on the table, and there is also a small Bill which may be’ considered. If we cannot finish the whole of the business on Wednesday, we can meet again on Thursday, and if necessary Friday.
Question resolved in the affirmative. - Senate adjourned at 9.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 March 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1904/19040310_senate_2_18/>.