2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General, without notice, has he heard, first, several complaints about defects in the electoral rolls of Victoria ; and, secondly, that every resident in Gilbert- street, Bourke Electorate, has been struck off the roll ? I wish to know if that is a fact, and also when the new rolls will be ready.
– In the press this morning I noticed’ some reference to the matter alluded to by the honorable senator, but I have not had an opportunity of ascertaining the facts. I shall be glad if he will give notice of the question, so that I may inquire.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he will inquire into the matter of the distribution of the notice-paper of the Senate. Last session it was a frequent experience for those of us whp live in the suburbs, as most of us do, I think, to receive . the notice-paper of the House of Representatives on the day of meeting, but not to get the Senate notice-paper until- the following day, or late on the day of meeting. This morning I received the notice-paper of the House of Representatives, but not that of the Seriate. The notice-paper is useless to us unless it is delivered before we leave our homes.
– That is a question which ought to have been addressed to me. I am very sorry that delay has occurred, and I shall see that it does not recur. I can see no reason why the notice-paper of the Senate should not be delivered quite as early as that of the other House.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON laid upon the table the following papers : -
Pursuant to the Electoral Act 1902, report and maps of the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the StatcB of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Western Australia into electoral divisions’.
Pursuant to the Defence Acts 1903-4, Statutory Rules 1904, Nos. 77-80, 82, and 83 ; Statutory Rules 1903, Nos. i-6, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 20, 22, 27. 34. 35-
Report on British New Guinea for tbc year ending 30th June, 1904.
– Is it intended that these papers shall be printed? The Attorney-General has not moved in that direction. Sometimes we have found that the papers we have expected’ to receive have not been printed. I think that all these papers require to be printed.
-Any honorable senator can move that they be printed.
– I move -
That the documents be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motions (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That the days of meeting of this Senate during the present Session be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week, at the hour of half-past Two o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and at the hour of half-past Ten o’clock in the forenoon of Friday, unless otherwise ordered.
That on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday during the present Session, Government Business take precedence of all other business on the Noticepaper, except Questions and Formal Motions, and except that Private Business take precedence of Government Business on Thursday up to the tea adjournment, and that, unless otherwise ordered, Private Orders of the Day take precedence of Private Notices of Motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motions (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to -
That a Standing Orders Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Best, Dobson, Lt.-Col. Gould, Playford, Pearce, Trenwith, and Sir J. H. Symon, with power to act during Recess, and to confer with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives; three to be the quorum.
That a Library Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, Senators Keating, Matheson, Millen, Stewart, Styles, and Clemons, with power to act during Recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives ; three to be the quorum.
That a House Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, Senators de Largie, Fraser, Lt.-Col. Neild, O’Keefe, Turley, and Sir W. A. Zeal, with power to act during Recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives; three to be the quorum.
That a Printing Committee be appointed, to consist of Senators Dawson, Findley, Guthrie, Henderson, Macfarlane, Pulsford, and Staniforth Smith, with power to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives ; three to be the quorum.
Motion (by Senator Lt.-Col Neild) agreed to:-
That consideration of the Parliamentary Evidence Bill be resumed at the stage it had reached when interrupted by prorogation.
The PRESIDENT laid upon the table his warrant nominating Senators de Largie, Dobson, Macfarlane, Sir Josiah Symon, Walker, Lt.-Col. Neild and Styles members of the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications.
The PRESIDENT laid upon the table his warrant nominating Senators Dobson and Lt.-Col. Neild to act as temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– I beg to move -
That the following Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General : -
TohisExcellency the Governor-General. May it please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, li-sg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency lor the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I move the motion, knowing full well that it will be unanimously passed. We have reason to be grateful for having a good Sovereign and for all the other advantages that we possess as citizens of the British Empire. We all know that the present Government came into existence through an alliance.
– Through trickery.
– Alliances, whether between nations or between individuals, should be honorably kept. There should be no question of their being kept unless one party flagrantly makes a breach or exonerates the other therefrom. I do not wish to say anything which would reflect upon any honorable members elsewhere, but it does not appear to me that the present Government have been fairly treated. The Prime Minister and his colleagues would not have dreamt of taking office unless under an alliance of the kind which took place. The prime mover in bringing about the alliance was Mr. Deakin, and although some newspapers say that his West Australian speech was not very satisfactory in some regards, [ will not say on which side it was not satisfactory.
– He got into a bad atmosphere over there.
– Are his speeches dependent on the locality in which they are delivered ?
– The Ballarat speech was disappointing to both sides, I think.
– Very disappointing to the Prime Minister.
– No doubt it. was, and that is what I am complaining of. The Prime Minister had a right to expect that before the alliance was broken an intimation would be given.
– To which of Mr. Deakin’s Ballarat speeches is the honorable senator referring?
– To the last speech, which was delivered on Saturday.
– That was the best speech he ever made.
– Mr. Deakin’s speeches are always well made. After that speech, the Prime Minister naturally and properly saw that the alliance was virtually over. That was not said in so many bold words by Mr. Deakin, but such was the construction which I think any honorable senator would place upon the speech. What course was then open to the Prime Minister? What could any high-minded man who wished to govern constitutionally and properly do under the circumstances?
– Take his “ gruel “ like a man ; that was the best course.
– I do not think that any one will complain of the way in which the Prime Minister has taken his “gruel.” He has taken it in a very creditable mannerHe has clearly shown that he is not going to remain in office to the debasement of his own self-respect. In the past Prime Ministers and Ministers within my Australian experience, have frequently remained in office when it would have been much more to their credit if they had retired, rather than allow themselves to be overpowered by minorities, and compelled to do what their own honest convictions showed them ought not to be done. When a Prime Minister, or any Minister, is coerced in respect to carrying Acts of Parliament, or into agreeing to the insertion of clauses in Bills, that are in contravention of what they believe to be right, they ought to retire, rather than submit to such treatment. The contrary course has in many instances been followed during the last few years, and has been the cause of a good deal of the legislation of which some of us complain. At least, I complain of much of it. Others, of course, are highly satisfied. But I dissent from much of the legislation to which I refer, and having followed a certain course of politics all my life, it is not worth my while to change now, even if I desired to do so. Another consideration is that personally I have no wish to do more in the political arena than promote the welfare of this great country. And it is a great country, great in its possibilities, and great in its marvellous resources. But we are sadly knocking it about.
– Take the revelations of the Butter Commission, for instance.
– Yes, .the Butter Commission exposed wrongs that every one was glad to have exposed.
– And the leather frauds.
– Every fraud should be put down by Parliament. Every improper combination should be put down by Parliament. Anything that is inimical to the welfare of the whole people should be put down by Parliament. Surely we are not going to admit on the floor of this Senate that Parliament is not capable of putting ‘down wrongs and trusts and combines which are inimical to the public welfare.
– Like the land.stealers in New South Wales.
– Yes, or any other wrong-doers. To return to my subject, the present Government came into power with a distinct understanding that there should be fiscal peace.
– And then appointed a Tariff Commission !
– I do not see that they did any harm in appointing a Tariff Commission. Surely we are not afraid to hear both sides of any question. If my opinions are wrong, I am prepared to listen to the opinions of others, and to accept if they can prove that I am wrong. It was not wrong to appoint a Tariff Commission. The Commission has opened the eyes of the public to many things of which they had not an idea. But there was an understanding that there was to be fiscal peace during the life of the present Parliament. Now, apparently, there is to be something else. I am not going into that question in detail ; but, at any rate, it was well known to those who helped to form the present Government, that the Prime Minister and his colleagues could not possibly carry on without an alliance. Mr. Watson asked for a dissolution when his Government went out of office. That request very properly was not granted. Not that I should have objected to it, because I do not know that it is wrong to appeal to the people at any time. Still, we do begrudge the expenditure on a general election if it is not necessary. But in this case the Barton Government were first in power, the Deakin Government succeeded them, and the Watson Government came after the Deakin Government. Now the ‘ Reid Government is in office. The House of Representatives has been tried all round. What possibility or what probability is there of any useful legislation being carried during the remainder of the life of this Parliament? I do not see the slightest hope of it. Such being the case, I think that the sooner an appeal is made to the people the better for all parties. Because it is not proper that Parliament should be governed by a minority. If that were to happen, Ministers would be squeezed into doing what they did not think ought to be done, and Acts would be passed that would be a discredit to the Commonwealth in general.
– If that principle were pursued, we should have an election every eighteen months.
– Not necessarily.
– If an appeal is made to the country now, it will not be made sooner than when Mr. Watson wanted it.
– Mr. Watson wanted an appeal to the country when the present Parliament had longer to run than it now has. Parliament has now, at all events, been in existence eighteen months. Indeed, I think that the socialistic party are anxious for an appeal to the country. They have been agitating hither and thither all lover the States ; and is it to be supposed that they are to have a monopoly of the lecturing and of the stumping of the country ? It is time that the other side was heard.
– There is no one to stop the honorable senator from going on the stump.
– No; and the honorable senator’s party will have a proper opportunity of appealing to the country and of carrying out their ideas to a successful conclusion if they are returned with a majority. If they are not in a majority:, of course the result will be different from what they expect. At any rate, if the people of this country are determined to have Socialism or something akin to it, then, I say, the sooner we know it the better. Let the people have a taste of what is to come. If Socialism is to rule, and is going to do all the wonders that some people hope, the sooner we have it the better. If it is going to cure all the evils of society, if it is going to remedy all wrongs, and to put an end to all the ills that human flesh is heir to-
– We do not claim that much for it.
– If Socialism does not change human nature, I am afraid that it will not succeed.
– Why oppose the millennium ?
– Exactly; but I am afraid that human nature will have to 1bp changed before Socialism can succeed. I may, of course, be wrong. As honorable senators know, I have had some complaints against past Governments for many reasons. I need not recapitulate them.
– Coloured reasons, for instance.
– Not coloured reasons at all. One reason was that the first Government of the Commonwealth gave a promise to the Socialist Party that they would not send a contingent from Australia to fight against the Boers in South Africa unless Parliament agreed to it ; and they only sent a contingent when Mr. Seddon showed them a lead, and when the Premier of Victoria, Sir Alexander Peacock, threatened to send a contingent from this State if the Commonwealth Government would not do so. That was one reason why I altered my views with regard to the first Government. I am not going to support any Government that is not prepared to stand by the British flag when the Mother Country is undergoing trouble and trial. Another reason was that I found fault with their management of many things - the sugar business, for instance. I was a White Australia man, as all other honorable senators are; but I did not wish to pass laws that would raise the price of sugar, and would be detrimental to other large industries in Australia. For that, and for various other reasons, I objected to the proceedings of the then Government, and not because I had changed my political opinions. I have not changed them from that day to this, nor am I likely to do so.
– No one would accuse the honorable senator of such a thing.
– It is no accusation if a man changes his opinions honestly. The first Commonwealth elections were taken on the 1899 statistics, which were prepared eight years after the census of 1891. The statistics now before us are only four years older than the census returns of 1901. The present proposal of the Government with regard to rearranging the electorates is on an improved basis, because the States statisticians! met and made an arrangement, which is an improvement on the former system.
– When did they meet ?
– They did meet, as. the honorable senator ought to know.
– I do know, but I want the honorable senator to tell me. It is years since they met.
– The losing or gaining of a member by a particular State does not hang upon the idea of one State losing and other States gaining. It depends upon population statistics. It may be that a State like Tasmania gains population to a certain extent because of an increase of immigration from the mother land or elsewhere. The States expect that justice shall be done all round in the matter of representation. The Constitution directs us to give fair representation to the people of all the States of Australia. The Act that was passed some time ago at the instance of the Barton Government provided for the appointment of Commissioners to subdivide the electorates. In accordance with that Act, a measure was introduced for the redivision of the electorates. Only two States were dealt with under that Bill as finally passed. The proposals with regard to the four other States were rejected. Hence an inequality and an injustice has ibeeni perpetrated from that day to this. It is a great shame that it should be so. There are at present enormous inequalities in certain electorates when compared with others. That has been shown over and over again ; and it was shown most emphatically when the present Prime Minister resigned his seat in the House of Representatives in order to emphasize the wrong that was being done to his own State. In the distribution of seats for the Federal Parliament, Victoria secured twenty-three representatives, having 1,135people over half the quota.
– Then, Victoria wasentitled to that number.
– But according to that account, the figures were 1,135 under half the quota, and not over it. The honorablesenator has got the statement wrong.
– Victoria got, as. every other State should get, what she was entitled to. That is what I am contending; for. Will Senator Styles object to that? In the second distribution of seats, Victoria secured twenty-three representatives, because her population gave 2,280 over half the quota in excess of the number required for twenty-two. On the present figures of population, it is shown that 27,443 is half the quota for a representative.
– Will the honorable senator tell us what the result of the census was ?
– Victoria is now shown to have 24,631 less thanthe half quota, which would entitle her to twenty-three representatives, and she has only 2,812 over the number required for twenty-two representatives. New South Wales secured her twenty-six representatives in 1903 with a full quota for every member. Now, in 1905, she is entitled to an additional member, hecause the figures show that she has 2,767 above the half quota in excess of the number required for twenty-six representatives.
– Those figures are mere guesses.
– Victoria was given the representation she has had in the past without grumbling on the part of the people of any State, and, in my humble opinion, the present Administration in this matter could not do either more or less than what they propose. There was no grumbling about what was done in the past by previous Governments. Although, as a Victorian, I regret that it is likelv that this State will lose a representative in the
– Still, I say that whether we are dealing with the case of Victoria, or any of the other States, this Parliament should do absolute justice to them all.
– Will the honorable senator tell us the results of the census?
He has given us the guesses ; I ask him now to tell us the facts.
– There is no chance of Victoria losing a member.
– Not the slightest. Men who will gerrymander will do that.
– Order ! There is a great deal too much conversation. I must ask honorable senators to allow Senator Fraser to be heard.
– Much has been said about representation, about one man one vote, and one woman one vote, but I say that the electorates should be honestly subdivided, so as to insure representation in conformity with the Commonwealth law under which we are working. I do not know what is to be the result of this upheaval. Honorable members who are supposed to be the Socialists of the Federal Parliament have been stumping the country, and if people are to be informed, it is right and proper that representatives of all sides should be heard, and that the true state of public matters should be made known. If we are going to have Socialism, let us have it, and be done with it, but let us not have it by a side wind. Let every elector hear the other side, and be thoroughly informed as to what is to be the future state of the Commonwealth. When that is done, we must submit to whatever Commonwealth representation is decided upom in the circumstances.
– Would not the honorable senator like to know what the future will be?
– I am prepared to say that I do not believe, for a moment, that the State of Victoria will dream of supporting Socialism.. There is not in Victoria one man or one woman in a hundred who is a socialist, according to the ideas which honorable senators opposite have of Socialism. Onlv the other day a splendid article against Socialism appeared in the Age. In that article its failures in all parts of the world were referred to. The failures we know of in Australia were mentioned, and there have been eight or ten instances in South Australia, and in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– The Age showed that the honorable senator was a failure at one time.
– It may have been right. I am not going to blow my own trumpet.
– The people of Victoria did not indorse the Age, or the honorable senator would not be here.
– The people of Victoria gave me close upon 86,000 votes. I have been here fifty odd years, and intimate friends of mine who have died have made me their executor. I have held large trust estates representing hundreds of thousands of pounds, and no man can point a finger at me, and say that I have robbed any* one of a shilling, or have lost a shilling in the administration of those estates. I can challenge any one here, or elsewhere, to prove that I have not done justice in every position in which I have been placed in this State. I am quite willing to have my affairs laid open to the public, and can challenge any contradiction of the statements I have made. Only the other day I wound up an estate representing£30,000, and in connexion with it I got from the widow,, who has gone home to England, a letter which I could quote to the Senate, thanking me for the kindly care I took of her money for many years past.
– I thought the honorable senator was not going to blow his own horro ?
– When interjections are made which ought not to be made I am entitled to meet them.
– The honorable senator quoted the Age, and I merely reminded him of what the Age had said about himself.
– The Age supported me, and I was thankful for the support.
– The Age is right, sometimes.
– I was saying that the Age the other dav published an article on Socialism in connexion with an interview with Mr. Tom Mann, who was paid £600 a year by some of our honorable friends opposite, and those who are taking charge of them. We find the Argus also writing aeainst Socialism, and I ask, what have we to expect? In the State of Western Australia, from which most honorable senators opposite come-
– Oh, no.
– They have a Socialist Government. In South Australia thev have a Socialist Government, or something like it. In Queensland they have the same, or something like it. and in the State of Victoria we have a Socialist labour leader.
– What about New Zealand ?
– New Zealand is not socialistic yet. Mr. Seddon is not a Socialist.The wheel of politics is making a rapid turn in New Zealand at the present time, and I am prepared to make the prophecy that the voice of the people will be heard there in a different tune to that which has been heard in the last few years.
– Would the honorable senator be game to meet Tom Mann ?
– Tom Mann is paid £600 a year to preach his doctrines, and are not other people to be allowed to preach theirs? Are the people who own the £10,500,000 in the Savings Bank to be at the mercy of Tom Mann? Are the people who own their own homes, houses, and cottages to be at the mercy of Tom Mann?
– Tom Mann says that that is their look-out.
– He says let them look out for themselves.
– He is going to lecture against Mr. Deakin at Ballarat in a day or two.
– Mr. Deakin, at Ballarat, said there is not one man in a hundred in Australia who is a Socialist. When this (millennium arrives, and all production is carried on under the whip by gangs, as in the early days in New South Wales, we shall have a nice state of things to contemplate. We have a great country, and if we are patriotic enough to work for its weal we can make it a great country, because it has enormous possibilities. We produce wool, wheat, butter, frozen mutton. We have our horse export, and other exports, and the exports of Victoria have increased largely during the last year. All that is required is that the States of the Commonwealth shall be left alone for the next few years, to enable us -to show the world how prosperous we are. But if we drive capital and population away, what result can we expect? What this country wants is population and capital. Both must go together, and no country. can be developed without capital.
– Do we not want black men to work our industries too?
– In the north of Queensland we do, but under proper supervision. The very fact that those men would develop our resources in the north of Queensland, where a white population cannot properly live, proves that their employment would prove an enormous outlet for the work of white men- living in that part of the world, and elsewhere in the Commonwealth, and would enormously increase the trade of the States. But, according to the doctrine of the Socialists, we are to have nobody here but those who are already here, and they are driving even those away by their actions. It is a sorry state of things for a young country like Australia, with millions of acres of land ready to be cultivated and made productive, when any of its population are compelled to leave.
– Why does not the honorable senator advocate the introduction of niggers into Victoria - his own State?
– We do not need niggers in this State, because its climate is such that the white population can do all that is required to be done very well.
– I can stand the climate of North Queensland as well as the honorable senator can stand the climate of Victoria.
SenatorFRASER. - If we are to have a general election, I would’ like to direct the attention of honorable senators opposite to the statements now appearing in the newspapers. I find it stated that -
In commenting upon the Federal situation in its leading columns to-morrow the Sydney Morning Herald will say -
– To-morrow’s paper.
– That means to-day, and the paper will be here to-morrow. It is stated that the Sydney Morning Herald will say : -
As matters stand, the Federal Parliament has to say whether it will or will not consider the question of a general election on an equitable basis. Responsibility for refusing to allow a distribution of seats, whicfi shall tally with the main principles of democracy, must rest, therefore, with Mr. Deakin. The old gerrymandered constituencies are a scandal and a disgrace.
If I were a New South Wales representative I should say the same. I say it, being a Victorian, and it is true.
They stand for an iniquitous compact between labour and a time-serving Government-
– Is that the present Government ?
– No, it is not. The present Government are proposing to pass a measure which will be equitable.
They stand for an iniquitous compact between labour and a time-serving Government, and they deny to the people of Australia the justice of proper representation in the Federal Parliament. Mr. Reid and his colleagues have therefore boldly thrown down the challenge to Mr. Deakin and
Mr. Watson. It is not a question of the transaction of public business in the ordinary way, but of preparing for battle, and whether the fighting shall be fair or foul is to rest with the Labour Party and those to whom it is now looking so eagerly again for support. We accept the position in these terms as one that precludes the hope of sufficient support for Mr. Reid. Mr. Reid and his colleagues, in effect decline to carry on, and even if we allow that Mr. Deakin and his sympathizers would like to give them rope, not quite seeing the path clearly ahead, the position has become impossible. This, further, must be interpreted as a prelude to a dissolution. There can be no alternative in our opinion. Mr. Reid, through the Governor-General’s speech, calls to everybody in Australia, who stand for liberty and progress, and who is opposed to Socialism, to rally to his side. The present Federal Parliament has shown itself utterly incapable of dealing with the business of the Commonwealth, and has become a by-word throughout the Continent for inaptitude and hopeless loquacity.
– Order ! I do not think the honorable senator should read such a statement.
– I beg your pardon, Mr. President?
– The Honorable senator has no business to read a statement reflecting on Parliament - a statement that the Parliament is utterly incapable of doing the business of the Commonwealth.
– I had not noticed that the words reflected on Parliament, and it may be that I do not agree with the statement.
– The honorable senator ought not to have read that extract.
– Doubtless the honorable senator read the statement unwittingly.
– I think I am entitled to read the extract. On the floor1 of the Senate I say fearlessly that the past history of the Federal Parliament is not creditable. Am I allowed to say that?
– The honorable senator is a member of the Parliament.
– That is so; but I repeat that the past history of the Parliament is not creditable, and I have over and over again raised objection to the method of conducting the public business. The Parliament has disgraced us in this country
– Order ! The honorable senator is not in order in saying that Parliament has disgraced this country.
– I am speaking of some of the actions of Parliament.
– The honorable senator ought not to make such a reflection, which, as he knows, is contrary to the Standing Orders.
– I do not wish to speak offensively of Parliament.
– The honorable senator does not mean what he says, in fact.
– The article in the Sydney Morning Herald goes on: -
To argue that there should not be an immediate dissolution, because of the expense, is to beg the question. It would be infinitely more expensive to have another term of sacrifice of public interests than to spend , £100,000 on the election of another Parliament, and the sooner we get to the real business of the day the better.
I quite agree with that.
– With the whole article ?
– I quite agree with the opinion that the sooner an appeal is made to the people the better.
– A double dissolution?
– Yes ; . and I shall resign my seat to-morrow if other honorable senators will also resign. I am prepared to face the public at any moment ; and I can live whether I am returned or not. I have worked hard enough for fifty odd years, and I am not now to be frightened by the people. If the people distrust me, they will, perhaps, learn to trust a better man. I have no more to say.
– I have great pleasure in seconding the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s speech, though I deeply regret the cause of that address. That is the cause which, if I may so term it, has brought about this disruption.
– Where is the disruption ?
– The honorable senator, when his opportunity comes, may be able to describe the present situation as not a disruption ; but I must so term it. If Parliament or any other public body is suddenly thrown into chaos I do not see how it can be otherwise described than as a disruption. The present position is due to the action taken by a gentleman whom personally we all respect. He is one who is acknowledged to have a charming personality and a great gift of language, and to be, in many respects, one of the “white men” of Australia. I desire to express my regret that the present position should have been brought about by the same gentleman who was the prime mover in the formation of the present Government. Doubtless, Mr. Deakin honestly believed at the time that the affairs of the Commonwealth were in such a position as to render practical legislation almost impossible. That position Mr. Deakin attributed to the fact that there were three parties in the Parliament - that one of the three parties was what he called a machine-caucus party which dominated the Government, and in many respects rendered the administration unsatisfactory. In fact, Mr. Deakin used the words “ intolerable “ and “ unbearable,” when he spoke of the Ministry as having to submit to the domination of a third party. I venture to say that Mr. Deakin has revealed what may have been in some measure the cause of the weakness of the first Commonwealth Administration. Mr. Deakin himself, when Prime Minister, felt the position to be such that he could not carry on, and he took steps to bring about an amalgamation of the two parties whom he conceived to be best able to conduct the parliamentary business of the country. I am now referring to the freetrade and the protectionist parties. On both sides strong views are held; and as neither free-traders nor protectionists are satisfied with the Tariff, we may take it that the present fiscal system of the Commonwealth is a fair compromise. We all realize that the continuous re-opening of the fiscal question is inimical to the best interests of the Commonwealth ; that has been acknowledged in both sections of the public press. Mr. Deakin, therefore - and, I think, wisely - brought about an amalgamation of the two parties. Indeed, he did more than that, in one sense, because there is no doubt that the protectionist members of the the Cabinet were gentleman, not only of whom he. approved, but who had been advised to do so by him before they took the positions. Under the circumstances, we may take it that that Cabinet was to a great extent created by Mr. Deakin. What has taken place since the formation of that Cabinet? Mr. Deakin not only had a great hand in the formation of the Government, but he entered into an agreement with the leader of the Free-trade Party - a written agreement.
– Mr. Deakin now denies that.
– If Mr. Deakin denies that, I am sorry to have made the statement. I am, ‘however, only saying what is1 generally understood in the country, and is openly stated in the newspapers. At all events, whether the agreement were written or verbal, I think it should have been honorably observed by both Mr. Deakin and Mr. Reid. Mr. Deakin gave Mr. Reid to understand that during the life of’ this Parliament, assuming it to run its normal course, there would be no interference with the Tariff. What has taken place since then ? Has Mr. Reid broken the agreement in any respect? It is stated that in a certain sense Mr. Reid did break the agreement by sanctioning the appointment of the Tariff Commission. Mr. Deakin candidly states, that, although he was not advised in regard to the appointment of that Commission, he -knew and approved of it ; and for eight months he has allowed that Commission to proceed with the inquiry without one single protest to the effect that it interferes with the agreement he entered into. I should like to know what would have been said had the present Prime Minister broken the agreement in the same manner as’ it has been broken by Mr. Deakin. We should have had our protectionist friends, in the press and on the platform, ‘howling from one end of Australia to the other. We know the vituperation to which Mr. Reid has been subjected, principally from certain political opponents, who regard him as a hindrance to the realization of certain objects which they have in view. Mr. Deakin has created a precedent which I contend will lower the political and moral life of trie community. I believe that he will live to regret the manner in which he has brought about this situation. At Ballarat the other day he said that the Prime Minister wanted a blank cheque, and that the leader of the Opposition wanted a postdated cheque; but did either of them or anybody else believe that he was going to dishonour his cheque? Speaking politically, Mr. Deakin has absolutely dashonoured the cheque that he gave to Mr. Reid.
– How many cheques did Mr. Reid dishonour?
– I am speaking on the facts of the case. No doubt when the Prime Minister’s past is brought in evidence my honorable friend will be able to speak of it, but I am now stating the views which Mr. Deakin expressed at Ballarat eight or nine months ago. I will ask the Labour Party to say what they think of his speech on that occasion. It is only fair that the parts of the speech which I think of great importance as bearing on this issue should be printed in Hansard. I therefore propose to quote the views which Mr. Deakin held at that time of the party which he now proposes to ask to join him in a Government.
– Is that clear yet ?
– To that party he said, “ If you will adopt the protectionist platform I am with you.”
– What report is the honorable senator quoting from?
– From the Melbourne Argus of the 2nd August, 1904. This morning I went to the Age office to get a copy of its report, but I found that no copy of that issue was obtainable.
– They were bought up !
– I got the last copy of the Argus which” was obtainable; but I wished to get a copy of the Age, in order to satisfy some of my honorable friends on the other side.
– Is that report as true as the forecast of the Governor-General’s opening speech ?
– Does the honorable and learned senator mean to say that it is not true?
– Is it as true as the forecast of the opening speech?
– If the honorable and learned senator says that this report is not true I shall know what to say.
– That the newspaper is not reliable is shown by its forecast of the opening speech.
– Would the honorable and learned senator accept the report in the Age?
– I do not care which newspaper it is.
– Then both newspapers are untrustworthy. Would the honorable and learned senator like me to quote from the Australian Worker or the Brisbane Worker? At a meeting held at Ballarat on Monday, 1st August, 1904, this motion was submitted : -
That the time has arrived when it is imperative upon members of the general community to take steps to protect the Commonwealth against the sectional aims and interests which tend to subordinate the public welfare to their own, and that this meeting approves of the formation of a National Political League, which has for its objects the combination of all leagues which are opposed to Socialism.
Speaking to that motion Mr. Deakin said -
We stand to-day as Liberals who recognise that those who seek to rush you over the precipice are the most fatal enemies to the true cause of liberal progress.
My honorable friends on the other side are going. to take Mr. Deakin over the precipice.
The Prime Minister, as reported in yesterday’s papers, said, truly, that neither meeting nor caucus, nor any of the other proceedings adopted by those who support him, are original inventions. They have been applied, more or less, by all parties, and will continue to be so applied, but it is the method of this application, the extension and exaggeration, which have been given to them, and the way in which they have been knit together, that bids fair to introduce a new and most undesirable feature into Australian politics. You may accept, if you please, every item of the published labour programme - the fighting programme of the future, its present programme, the State programme, the Federal programme, and yet be excluded from the ranks of that party. You must swallow, not only the programme, but the organizations.
That remark was cheered to the echo.
What is more, you must swallow them whole. (Hear, hear.) If, in accepting every article of the programme, supporting every proposal which they put forward, you once endeavour, as many of their own members have proved in this and other States, to assert your individuality, you once try to have an independent mind on other subjects or in relation to party arrangement, you are a heretic, banned with bell, book, and candle. Look at the New South Wales election ! Challenge it if you dare !
A Voice. - Do you. challenge it ?
Mr. DEAKIN. I am challenging it to the best of my power. (Cheers.) I avoid personalities.
Further on in this speech, Mr. Deakin said -
As I have said, nothing which has beei? done in the name of the Labour Party is original. What is original is, that instead of being content with the use of political machinery, they are fast travelling in the direction, which will, in my judgment, if continued, be demonstrated to be grave abuse. First, they knock away a little liberty, then a little authority, and then a little independence. (Cheers.) What will remain?
A Voice- We will get liberty. (Laughter.)
Mr. DEAKIN. A poet, returning from Germany to France, was once intrusted wiili a huge German sausage. It was so very large that he said to himself, “ A little piece off it will not matter.” So he took a little piece, and found it was very nice, and then another little bit, and by the time he got to Paris there was no sausage left. (Laughter.) In the same way, your independence will be taken away by a simple series or morsels until there would be nothing left. (Cheers.) I wish to submit that, by a simple series of morsels, the present Labour Party threatens the independence of the whole community. (Cheers.)
Alluding to the position of a candidate and the caucus he said -
The first thing is to ask him to submit to an absolutely unnecessary dignity. He is branded as untrustworthy, because his word to his fellow citizens on the public plafform is not taken.
A Voice - Quite right, too.
Mr. DEAKIN. The man must sign the pledge. If a man will break his spoken word, will he not break his written word?
– No !
– That is a question which my honorable friends on the other side should put to Mr. Deakin just now.
The man who is not fit to be trusted on his spoken word is not fit to be trusted on his written word. And what is the object of that, I ask you? The object is not to tie the candidate down to his constituents, but to forge another link in the chain which binds him to the wire-pullers, and brings him under the thumb of the local committees. (Cheers.) But make no mistake. That is not true of every Labour candidate, for I am here to-night to be perfectly fair. For every case which I am referring to I maintain you should know of similar cases, and, therefore, know of the particular case to which I am alluding, because I am speaking common knowledge. I say there can be nothing more derogatory to a representative, or injurious to his standing in Parliament, than to see a body of men required to pledge themselves to vote and act as their judgment would not direct them to. This is a sporting community, and it has been one of the boasts of sportsmen that enormous sums change hands, and there is no written agreement, but simply the word of man and man, and it is said among sportsmen that there are fewer breaches of bad faith amongst sportsmen than there are in signed bonds taken into Courts. As a sporting community, you will trust your bookmaker, but you won’t trust your parliamentary representatives. (Cheers.) Then, when you have your representative, the next piece of machinery into which he goes is called the caucus. Every party has its caucus, and I have not a word to say against it, but no caucus, except that of the Labour Party, seeks to compel the minority to vote against their convictions and their good judgment.
Speaking of party government, Mr. Deakin said : -
Parties are necessary. Our great model is the mother country, where parties, which are clearly defined, are yet sufficiently flexible always to be able to adjust themselves to new circumstances. The recent outbreak of the fiscal question has broken up the Unionists, and sent them into two parts. Yet you are compelled to “ gape, sinner, and swallow” all that the Labour organization wants to give you. One of the strongest and keenest proofs of that is found in the fact that members who have sat side by side with and fought for, the Labour Party in the Federal and State Houses on nearly every division, because their platform was the same - members who were really bulwarks of strength in the Labour Party, have in time the pistol presented at their heads. Sign, or resign, they are told. There is no consideration for their friendship, and unless they bow the knee entirely to the organization they are excluded from it, and are fought more bitterly than the enemies of both. If you take these different parts of the machinery, and look at them separately, and then remember that you have to look yet on one more operation, the tactics of its voting, you will realize more fully what the party is. A leading member of the party told us three years ago that the party was up for sale to the highest bidder. The offer was made by one for the whole party, who were to follow his bidding. I ask you, could a more demoralizing bargain be transacted in any public body or in any great institution ? It is a perfectly fair thing to make concessions for the purpose of carrying on the practical business of the country. That is done by all parties, but no party that ever Australia had known had offered itself as a whole in this public manner. There is only one name for it - it is utterly demoralizing. (Cries of “ Rats,” and cheers.) And now, ladies and gentlemen, I have tried to take piece by piece all the machinery, and have shown you the dangers attendant upon each. I am not asserting that each of those dangers exists in every part of Australia, but every one has been manifest in some part of Australia. (Hear, hear.) Every student of politics knows that every abuse to which I alluded exists somewhere in Australia, and is tending, and must tend, to increase, unless it is brought into the light of day and exposed, and we take steps to defeat it. We must recall that party and their representatives to the true party lines of constitutional government. (Hear, hear.) When, as in this case, you have, not only the separate dangers of each piece, but the cumulative force of the whole, you will begin to recognise that it is organization pushed to the extreme, so as to turn the voters into dummies, to turn their representatives into pawns, and to turn their Ministers into figure-heads (Cheers.)
Further on, Mr. Deakin said:
We have a state of things which threatens the early arrival of the “ war boss,” as they call him in America, and the caucus inside. What is left for the representative, and what is left for the man the representative is supposed to represent? He first takes instructions from the war boss, and then votes as his caucus bids him. . . . What will be the inevitable result? If we are to see the political machine developed, as it seems to be beginning to develop, in these directions, at last the rest of the community, stung to exasperation, might probably resort to the same methods. I am not here to plead for it. I am here to oppose it. I would not fight even the machine with another machine. (Hear, hear.) I am fighting the machine with freedom, conscious of all its advantages. My plea to-night is not a plea to exasperate ; it is a plea to the minds and consciences of those who listen to me, asking if there is not a better way in politics than the political machine. It is all right when the man dominates the machine, but with the Labour Party the machine appears to dominate the man. (Cheers, and cries of “ Rats.”) ….. We want some direct relation preserved between the electors and their representatives, who can be true to the principles which they have upheld on the platform, true to their party so long as their conscience is not outraged, acting with the authority of their constituents, but not at the instance of any body of unrepresentative men outside of Parliament. (Cheers.) What the wire-puller wants is a man he can mould. He does not seek the ablest man, because he would break away; he will think and speak for himself. ….. The man the constituencies want is the man who speaks frankly, who acts straightforwardly, true to his pledges and his principles, without sacrificing his manhood or his independence. (Cheers.)
I ask the Senate how, after a speech like that, is it possible for Mr. Deakin, as a consistent public man,to say to the very men whom ‘he thus referred to, “Come unto me; only give up the vital principles that you hold, and accept the ultra protectionist principle that I believe in, and vou can join with me.” Every element in that speech is an attack upon the Labour Party as a machine-caucus party. If that speech means anything, it means that in Mr. Deakin’s opinion, the machine-caucus party is going to bring about things in this Commonwealth which he for one abhors, and would do everything he could to strangle and to kill. Yet now, without the slightest justifiable cause, Mr. Deakin simply says, “I am willing to form a party consisting largely of this party, with its caucus machinery still complete, with nothing of its organization altered, and am willing to act with it.”
– When did he say that ?
– Did he not say it at Ballarat? What is the meaning of his speech if he did not say that? It is plain enough. It is stated that Mr. Deakin said that the newspapers misunderstood his utterance, to some extent, and that in certain respects, he did not mean what was attributed to him. But I ask, why, after that speech was made, did Mr. Deakin confine himself to his own house, and refrain from publishing any correction?
– Because he was very ill.
– Why did he not write to the newspapers and explain in what manner they had misinterpreted his thoughts? Besides, in what measure have the newspapers misrepresented him? Are. any of the facts which he stated in that speech misrepresented? Is the statement correct that, in Mr. Deakin’s opinion, the Labour Party is the great party in Australia which has to be fought and strangled? And is it also correct that he now wants to make a union with that party ? It must be remembered that the present Ministry is composed partly of his own former colleagues, gentlemen in whom he had confidence, anil in whom, I venture to say, he still has confidence. During their Ministerial career, he has never said anything that would lead any. one to believe that he was hostile to their administration. To my mind, this conduct savs very little for Mr. Deakin as a practical politician. We should like to think of Mr. Deakin personally as the estimable man that we have all believed him to be hitherto.
– Yet the honorable senator was always opposed to him.
– I have not been op-‘ posed to him very strongly, except on the great fiscal question, and also on the point that in many respects he has represented Victoria in a manner that I considered was not conducive to that true spirit of Federation which, in his earlier days, as an apostle of Federation, he had so strongly, and so eloquently represented would be the result of a union of these States. I consider, and I say openly, that New South Wales has been most unfairly treated; and Mr. Deakin, in some measure at all events, has been to blame for not trying to bring politics to that high elevation which he idealized in his campaign prior to the passing of the Commonwealth’ Bill. I thought that if Mr. Deakin believed in the ideals that he professed, he would, when he got into power, do his best to institute a policy which would insure to each- of the States complete justice, and would lead the people to believe that equity would be meted out to them. I for one do not believe that complete justice has been done to New South Wales, and I state that plainly, although otherwise I am an admirer of Mr. Deakin. As a practical business man, however, my admiration for him has been weakened, because I can no longer consider him to be a practical business politician. Indeed, if I were to describe him as I regard him, I would rather speak of him as a political jelly-fish. When I say that, of course, I am only speaking of him politically.
– I rise to order. I wish to know whether the honorable senator is in order in referring to Mr. Deakin as a “ political jelly-fish “ ?
– I think the honorable senator should moderate hislanguage.
– I can assure . you, Mr. President, that I did not refer to Mr. Deakin personally.
– I do not think that the honorable senator should use such an expression.
– I withdraw at once if it is thought that the expression is one which I should not have used. I wish now to come to another phase of the question ; and that is that there is very little doubt that if His Excellency the Governor-General deems fit, we shall have a general election early. I want, if I can, to appeal to the
Labour Party on this matter. I give them credit, to a certain extent ; that is, I give credit not to the caucus Labour Party, but to the Labour Party that existed years ago. They were the first, as radicals, not only in Australia but elsewhere, strenuously and earnestly to advocate manhood suffrage. Their principle then was “ one vote one value,” and the whole democratic body in England and elsewhere were solid upon that question. There is no one here, I think, who will state that the present electoral rolls are in any sense an interpretation of that principle. Absolutely the reverse is the case. Because, if “ one vote one value “ means anything, it means that there should be equal representation of the people in the different States. But we find to-day in New South Wales, that in the electorate of Parkes, there are 33,000 voters, whilst in the same State in the electorate of Wentworth, there are 11,000 voters. In Parkes there are 11,000 women, whilst in Wentworth there are 4,000. Is that a state of affairs which our friends of the Labour Party consider to be equitable, or . in keeping with the democratic principles which they in times past have professed, and even now profess to believe in ? Do they believe in the principle of equal representation of manhood when it suits their individual electorates, and hold that it is no principle at all when it does not suit them ? Do the democratic voters throughout Australia believe that their representatives are acting in accordance with their principles, in retarding the remedy of an injustice that is patent to everybody? I believe not. I sincerely tender my thanks to the Government for the constitutional stand that they have taken. They have taken a stand which, in the opinion of every thoughtful elector, whether he be for or against them, will at all events convince the people that. the present Government do not desire to stay one hour longer in office as the Ministerial representatives of His Majesty, without the knowledge that they have a majority of votes behind their backs, and that they can conduct parliamentary business with credit to themselves and with advantage to the well-being of the Commonwealth. I think that, in asr suming that attitude, the Government have given the Commonwealth an index that they will act constitutionally in all circumstances. They have said in effect, “ We acknowledge that we cannot go on with useful work under present circumstances, and we feel that in the interests of the Commonwealth a general election should take place upon sound democratic lines, and in accordance with the principles upon which the constitution of this Commonwealth was founded.” They, therefore, say. that before the election takes place, the Commonwealth Parliament should legislate so as to do away with the present injustice, and to place every voter in the Commonwealth of Australia upon the same basis of “ one vote one value.”
Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir Josiah Symon) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next.
Senate adjourned at 4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 June 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1905/19050629_senate_2_25/>.