3rd Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to acquaint the Senate that I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General a Commission empowering me to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to honorable senators.
The Hon. SIMON FRASER made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as senator for the State of Victoria.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, whether the partial promise which was made by him last session, that during the general elections he would consult the officers of his Department with a view to having a trial of voting machines made at some of the more populous polling places, was carried out, and, if so, whether he will table any report which he may have received from those officers upon the working of the machines?
– I have no personal information which would enable me to answer the question, and, at the time I spoke here, I was representing the Minister of Home Affairs, who sat in another Chamber. I shall, however, have inquiry made, and furnish the Senate with the information asked for.
– It is not so much a voting machine as a counting machine that we want.
– I wish to ask the leader of the Senate, without notice, whether the Government are prepared to table the whole of the correspondence in connexion with the introduction of contract labourers from Europe, and also with other applications on the same subject from Queensland ?
– I believe that I tabled some papers in connexion with the question yesterday ; but I propose to lay upon the table other papers, which I think will completely supply the information sought.
Motion (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the report of the Royal Commission on Papua, laid on the table of the Senate on the 20th inst., be printed.
– I should like to ask the
Minister of Home Affairs whether the Government have yet considered the desirability of affording members of both Houses of the Federal Parliament an opportunity during the coming recess of visiting the Northern Territory, with a view of making themselves acquainted with its great resources and possibilities. If not, will the
Government give the question their early attention, and report their decision to the Senate ?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of his question.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Introduction of European Farm Labourers under Contract. - (1) Correspondence respecting the application of the Mossman Central Mill Company Limited. - Dated 3rd November, 1906;11th January, 1907. (2) Application of the Mossman Central Mill Company Limited. (3) Application of the Pioneer River Farmers’ and Graziers’ Association (Mackay). (4) Application of the Canefarmers’ Association of North Queensland (Cairns).
Statement showing -
Cost of the Senate Election; the General Election, House of Representatives; and the Referendum, 1906.
Comparison of Cost with previous Commonwealth Elections.
Statistics relating to the Senate Election, 1906; the General Election, House of Representatives, 1906; and the submission to the electors of a proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution, entitled the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) 1906.
Colonial Conference, 1907. - Despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, containing preliminary proposals on the subject of the agenda, and procedure.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Acts 1903-1904 -
Cadet Corps - Amendment of Regulations, para. 22, sub-paras, (a) and (h) - Clothing Allowance, &c. - S.R. 1906, No. 93. Regulations governing Landing of Foreign Troops, &c. - Repeal of S.R. 1906, No. 48 - S.R. 1907, No. 3.
Naval Forces - Regulations Amended - Para. 55 - Retirement of Warrant Officers - S.R. 1906, No. 87; Para. 171 (a)- Courts Martial - S.R.1906, No. 91. Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended - Paras. 70, 73 - Compensation for Injury, &c. - S.A. 1906, No. 86; Para. 49 - Pay of Armourers - S.R. 1906, No. 90 ; Para. 49 - Pay of Painters, &c. - S.R. 1906, No. 92 ; Paras. 37, 39, 41 - “ Treasury Regulations “ - S.R. 1907, No. 2.
Military Forces - Regulations Amended - Paras. 1, 2, 3 - Council of Defence, &c. - S.R. 1906, No. 101 ; Paras. 20, 146 - Warrant Officers, &c. - S.R. 1906, No. 102 ; Paras. 514(a), 516 - Rifle Clubs - S.R. 1906, No. 103; Paras. 493A, 501, 504A, B,C - Canteens, &c. - S.R. 1906, No. no; Para. 128 - Retirement of Warrant Officers, &c- S.R. 1906, No. 124. Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended - Para. 122(c) Payment for Duties- S.R. 1906, No. 88; Part
VIII., Sec. I. - Travelling Allowances (Inspector-General) - S.R.1906, No. 89; Paras. 151, 151 (a) - School of Gunnery, Sydney - S.R. 1906, No. 94; Para. 235 - Telegrams - S.R. 1906, No. 95 ; Para. 77 - Pay of Sergeants-Major - S.R. 1906, No. 104; Reg. 144- Allowances for Courts Martial, &c. - S.R. 1906, No.III ; Para.98 - Clothing, &c, Allowance - S.R. 1906, No. 123; Paras. 45, 47, 49 - “Treasury Regulations” - S.R. 1907, No. 1.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon n otice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon nptice -
Is it the intention of Ministers to facilitate in every way they can the admission of agricultural labourers to the Commonwealth?
-The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
Ministers are considering various schemes for the introduction of suitable white agricultural labourers to the Commonwealth.
– That is hardly an answer to the question.
– It is the answer which has been supplied to me.
Motions (by Senator Best) agreed to -
That the days of meeting of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week, and that the hours of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be half-past two o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and half-past ten o’clock in the forenoon of Friday.
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate or of a Committee of the whole Senate on sitting days be suspended from 6.30 p.m. to 7.45 p.m. and on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
The following Sessional Committees were appointed (on motion by Senator Best) : -
The President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Best, Dobson, Keating, Clemons, St. Ledger, Sir J. H. Symon, and Trenwith, with power to act during recess, and to confer with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Lynch, Stewart, Sir J. H. Symon, and Walker, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
The President, Senators de Largie, McColl, McGregor, Mulcahy, Col. Neild, and Turley, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Senators Croft, Findley, Guthrie, Hender son, Macfarlane, Pulsford, and Givens, with power to confer or sit as a joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday up to 6.30 p.m., and that, unless otherwise ordered, Private Orders of the Day take precedence of Private Notices of Motion on alternate Thursdays.
We have practically had this sessional order in operation for many years, and I submit that it is a useful one to be adopted.
– I called “ Not formal “ to this motion with the object of moving such an amendment as will give private members the whole of Thursday instead of up to 6.30 p.m. I therefore move -
That the words “ up to 6.30 p.m.” be left out.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council has very truly remarked that this order has been in force for a number of years. It has all the merits, and, of course, all the demerits, of antiquity. Some honorable members may think that it has worked very well ; and it has no doubt worked in a very large measure so as to waste the time of the Senate without any result. Every member of this Senate must know that private members’ business under the existing rule has never had a fair show. Questions, notices of motion, and other preliminary business of a sitting have all to be dealt with before private members’ business can be touched ona Thursday, and, consequently, very often it is nearly 3 o’clock before the latter is reached. It will be seen that three and a half hours each week is the only time within which private members have an opportunity to discuss questions they bring before the Senate. That method of doing business very often gives “ stone-wallers “ an opportunity.
– What !
– The honorable senator, as an accomplished exponent of that very difficult and delicate art, ought to know something about it.
– A “ stone wall “ cannot be built in three hours.
– In any casethis sessional order has had the effect of giving honorable senators an opportunity to waste three and a half hours of the public time without a chance of coming to a decision on any question.
– It has given one senator.
– I have known the honorable senator who interjects take up the whole of Thursday afternoon, and then sit down with permission to resume his remarks on next private members’ day. Senator McColl has jus,t given notice of a motion which, if carried into effect, will place the Government of the day in quite a different relation from that which they now occupy to private members. If carried, that motion will elevate private members and depreciate the Government ; and in this con nexion is the one central fact with regard to parliamentary government which every member of Parliament ought to keep continually before his eye. Under our existing rules almost the whole burden and responsibility of government is thrown on a Committee of Parliament. If that Committee does not approve of business being brought before Parliament the business may be introduced by a private member, but it is then never sure of anything like fair treatment. The amendment I propose would give honorable senators an opportunity to exhaustively discuss, an.d, what is even more important, an opportunity to decide questions introduced as private business.’ Every one, I think, must recognise that private members have just as much responsibility in regard to the affairs of the country as have the members of the Government.
– There is no such thing as a private member.
– As Senator de Largie very properly remarks, there is no such thing as a private member. In any case, business brought in by ordinary members has hitherto been treated in a contemptuous kind of way. However earnest an honorable senator might be in any matter he has very often been accused of deliberately attempting to waste the time of the Senate. I wish to effect, if I can, some little improvement in regard to this matter; and I think that if the whole of Thursday be given up to private members, it will be a step in the right direction. Of course, if there is no private members business, Government business will go on, and if private business be finished at an hour earlier than that of the adjournment, then, again, Government business may be proceeded with. I submit this amendment in the hope that honorable senators will give it their careful consideration, and, if they think some change in the presentmethod of conducting affairs is necessary - and I believe a great majority of honorable senators do think so - they will give it their support.
– I suggest that, in order to attain the object in view, it would be better for Senator Stewart to move the omission of the word “ Thursday “ in the first line, which would give the test exactly; and then, if that be carried, a slight amendment will be required later on in reference to the words “up to 6.30 p.m.” At present, the motion, if amended in the way proposed, would affirm that Government business should take precedence, and then that private business should take precedence.
– I will, by leave, amend my proposal in the way suggested.
Amendment amended accordingly.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I have an amendment to move which, I think, will achieve the desirable object that Senator Stewart has in view, which is to secure further opportunities for the discussion of private business free from intentional obstruction. In the past our sessional order has permitted the discussion of private business between half-past 2 and half-past 6 on Thursdays. If at any time there should be elected an honorable senator desirous of intentionally obstructing, he would, under that order, know exactly the time to which he would have to obstruct to prevent the private business under discussion from being brought to a conclusion. But if we were to strike out the words “ up to “ with a view to substitute the word “ after,” then, if honorable senators felt interested in the question under discussion in private members’ time, they could, if they chose, go on with it all night. It sometimes happens that a particular private senator is, perfectly honestly and earnestly, interested in matters that the Senate generally may think of no consequence whatever. In such a case under such a standing order as I suggest the private senator would be unable to keep senators present to enable him to continue the discussion. But there are times when a senator introduces a proposal in connexion with which a considerable majority of the Senate may desire that there should be further discussion.
– What, then, does the honorable senator propose?
– I move-
That the words “up to” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ after.”
If that be carried, the discussion on any particular piece of private business may go on after half-past 6 o’clock. Organized obstruction or individual obstruction would then be rendered ineffective by the determination of the senators present who were in favour of the proposal that it should be carried to a conclusion.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.4]. - I should have liked to hear the opinion of the Government upon Senator Trenwith’s amendment, and to know whether they intend to accept or oppose it. Certainly they might take the trouble to point out what it really means. I do not much relish the prospect of the Senate being kept here all night and being placed in the hands of a few senators, much as I love them.
– We return the love.
– I know that the feeling of affection is reciprocated. If Senator Trenwith’s amendment were carried it would be within the power of a few senators who desired to see a particular motion carried to keep us here all night long.
– Why not?
– That is done with Government business sometimes.
– Yes, but Government business is on a different footing. To carry this amendment would be to take the whole of the business of the Senate out of the hands of the Government. Humble as the members of the Government in the Senate may be, there is a limit beyond which they cannot be trodden upon, surely. Looking at the matter from the stand-point of Government business, I think that it would be exceedingly undesirable - if we are to preserve that control over the sittings of the Senate which ought to be preserved by any Government - to accept the amendment. I trust, therefore, that the members of the Government will not assent to this very remarkable deviation from our past practice.
– I hope that the Government will accept the amendment moved by Senator Trenwith. Past experience, not only in the Senate, but in other legislative bodies in Australia, has made it fairly evident that something ought to be done to give private members of Parliament an opportunity of being a little more effective in their attempts to carry either motions or measures, especially when a considerable body of other representatives of the people is prepared to support them. I need not refer to our past experience, and have no inclination to do so. If the amendment is carried, a private senator will commence his business with the knowledge that, at any rate, if other senators are not interested in it, they will stay away, and that, when 10 or 11 o’clock comes, it must be a very important or urgent matter that will detain a quorum. So that the Senate will be adequately protected in that way. If the matter before the Senate is of sufficient importance to induce . senators to remain, I think that the senator who has introduced it ought to have a chance to push it to a conclusion if a sufficient number of senators support him.
– I am not aware that any occasion has arisen within the experience of the Senate to justify the alteration in our procedure suggested by the amendment. I point out that what is proposed will not effect an improvement. Indeed, it will probably operate in the opposite direction. It certainly will not operate advantageously so far as the individual private senator is concerned. No matter how strongly he may feel on a subject which he has introduced, he will have no opportunity of keeping a quorum.
– Unless he can interest others.
– Undoubtedly. Every senator has a right to bring before the Senate measures which, in his opinion, are in the best interests of the country whose representative he is. It must be obvious to honorable senators that, if any particular section of the Senate - I do not care what it is - feels, a special interest in a subject, it can undoubtedly tire down the Senate in order to achieve what it desires. I wish to impress upon my honorable friends who feel inclined to support the amendment - and I speak from experience in a State Parliament - that, so far as private business is concerned, there is always the utmost difficulty in securing a House to deal with it.
– Hear, hear.
– My honorable friend, from his own experience, verifies what I say. My experience was that it was most difficult to secure an attendance for the purpose of transacting private business.
– It can only be done when there is an important question to be discussed.
– I mention this to illustrate the contention that by accepting the amendment honorable senators will really be curtailing the opportunities that private senators have by reason of its being possible, and in many cases probable, that a quorum cannot be maintained for the purpose of transacting the business.
– A very good thing, if the discussion is not worth listening to.
– That may be; but it is hardly a sound doctrine, from my honorable friend’s point of view. Every member of the Senate has a right to place his case for any great measure in which he mav be interested frankly and freely before the Senate, and to have it discussed. In my opinion, no occasion has arisen for an alteration in our practice.
– Oh, yes.
– Last session.
– Senator Findley selects last session. I believe that on one occasion an honorable senator undoubtedly occupied the attention of the Senate for a considerable time.
– No one mentioned that.
– The honorable senator’s interjection could only have one meaning, and that is that what the honorable senator referred to was “ stone- walling. “
– Not at all. What I say is that we had insufficient time, because the question was so important.
– What I am urging is that our experience in past yearshas been such that the time allotted for private business has proved adequate. It has been suggested that “stone-walling” takes place. My experience is that no “stone-walling” has taken place. In the very incident mentioned by my honorable friend, the honorable senator to whom he was no doubt alluding addressed himself to the very important question under discussion very earnestly, and with very great ability in my judgment. There was no “stone-walling” so far as I could discover in the arguments which he addressed to the Senate. Indeed, there was time to terminate the debate and have a division upon the motion.
– It was a very hurried one.
– I think not.
– There was very little time for a reply - only a quarter of an hour to reply to a speech of four hours.
– Well, my honorable friend need not have taken a division unless he had chosen.
– Senator Pearce will admit that his opponents helped him to get a division.
– In that case, there was no “stone-walling,” and a division was ultimately taken. In every Parliament whether Federal or State, when there is private business on the paper, towards the end of the session, every opportunity is given with a view of having it discussed and disposed of.
– There was not much consideration given to it last session. The Government wanted to wipe it off the slate.
– Within my experience it has been frequently the case that Government time has been given for the purpose of private business. But so long as we have in vogue the system of responsible government which we now enjoy, private business must give way to the exigencies of Government business. In view of what I have urged - that the amendment is not an improvement, that it will not give the extended time that honorable senators have sought - I submit that the experience of the past justifies us in adhering to our past practice. Of course if we discover that any “ stone- wal ling “ is indulged in it will be time enough to take some means of altering the sessional order in view of the exigencies that may then arise. But, frankly, I do not know that it is of much moment one way or the other whether that sessional order is carried or not, so far as this session is concerned, and it is possible that the debate might be more useful on a future occasion.
– Is it not a fact that if these motions are passed now, they will apply when we meet again?
– They will have to be passed next session, undoubtedly.
– It will not be a new session ; it is only to be an adjournment.
– There will undoubtedly be a prorogation. Of course, there will have to be.
– Will His Excellency the Governor-General have to come down here again as he did yesterday ?
– What is the objection to adjourning?
– My honorable friend will see that for a new session a little more will be required in the Governor-General’s speech. In the circumstances, I would urge Senator Trenwith not to press this amendment.
– I sincerely hope that Senator Trenwith will withdraw his proposal. Instead of facilitating private business, it will give it a very great knock down. At present, on Thursdays, we have from half -past 2 till half-past 6 for private business. That is four hours. We have already passed a sessional order that we suspend the sitting each evening until a quarter to 8, so that if the amendment is carried, private business could not commence earlier than a quarter to 8. From then till 10 o’clock only gives two and a-quarter hours, or till 11 o’clock only three and a-quarter hours, and we could only get the usual afternoon four hours by going on till quarter to 12. That is entirely undesirable unless for proposals of very great importance. I am certain that Senator Trenwith, reviewing the matter afresh in the light of what has been said, will now see that instead of facilitating private business, he would aim a heavy blow at it, and therefore I trust he wilt withdraw the amendment.
Question - That the words “ up to “ proposed to be left cut be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Majority, … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 20th February (vide page 21), on motion by Senator Lt.-Col. Cameron -
That the following Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General : -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire 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.
– Realizing that the Governor-General’s speech, in consequence of the time and circumstances of this meeting, has rather a prospective than an immediate interest, I had intended to conclude my remarks last evening, but, led on by a number of relevant and interesting interjections, I was drawn over the limit that I set out to observe. I may therefore be excused for a few extra remarks this afternoon. When the Senate adjourned last evening I was referring to the paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s speech which touches the question of placing the finances of the Commonwealth upon a more equitable and satisfactory basis. As I said then, that is an extremely important, though difficult, question. There is probably no question in connexion with which there is more loose and ignorant thinking than that of the public indebtedness. Originating, as these States have, from citizens of Great Britain, our ideas on public finance and public borrowing are largely based upon the conditions of and the thoughts developed in the old country. The circumstances of public debt in the Commonwealth and in Great Britain are extremely different. There has grown up in Great Britain a superstition that the national debt is in itself an advantage. This has arisen probably from the fact that the national debt of Great Britain has been created by a process of internal borrowing, unlike what obtains with most other borrowing nations of the world.
– Internal lending.
– Internal lending and internal borrowing. You cannot very well have one without the other.
– The Government is the borrower.
– I will not split straws over the question. The fact remains that the very large interest bill of the United Kingdom is paid within the kingdom itself, and therefore the burden of it is not felt nearly so much as the burden of interest is felt in other countries that borrow externally. There is another important difference between the nationaldebts of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. That of Great Britain was incurred mainly in defence of Great Britain and of the British Empire generally, and therefore, after it was expended, nothing of a material character was left. Of course, we all acknowledge the immense advantage to Great Britain and to ourselves that still accrues from the defence of the British Empire by our forefathers, but as a material asset nothing remains as a set-off for the British indebtedness.
– Except the glory.
– I am not one of those who laugh or sneer at the glory that surrounds the defence of Great Britain.
– Therefore it is an asset.
– But it is not a material asset in the sense that it is paying interest, as some of our assets are. The fact that our indebtedness was largely incurred for the purpose of performing public works of a useful and reproductive character has had a tendency to mislead some thinkers upon the question. It is urged that most of the objects upon which our borrowed money was expended are paying the interest entailed by the borrowing. In a considerable measure that is true, although to some extent it is untrue. It is urged also that, as the objects upon which the money was expended are paying the interest that the loans entail, we are suffering no burden. There cannot be a greater mistake. There is going out of Australia between £8,000,000 and ,£9,000,000 annually in interest upon loans. If it was a fact that the whole of that interest was earned by the objects on which the money was expended, it would still be a burden, and an undesirable one - a burden which should not be endured if there was any possibility of preventing it.
– That would not apply if the interest was earned by the income from the works.
– If there is an income from the works which only pays the interest - indeed, if there is more ; if there is a very high income - it is still a misfortune that any part of it should be leaving the Commonwealth.
– We must borrow in a young country.
– That is a wry much bigger question than the circumstances of this session would warrant me in entering into, although I venture to say that a great deal of our national expenditure would have been very much better incurred out of current ‘revenue. Certainly the Commonwealth is setting a wise example that must bear immediate fruit of an extremely beneficial character in defraying the cost of the Public Service, either new or old, entirely out of current revenue. I do not pretend that that could have been done in the past.
– It could not have been done.
– The honorable senator does not contend that it may be done in the future.
– Most assuredly I do. What I am endeavouring to show is that we are sending out of the country annually between £8,000,000 and £9,000,000, and that if it were a fact that the works upon which the borrowed money was expended earned the whole of that sum it would still be a misfortune to have to send it out of the Commonwealth.
– Why, if we have got other money for it?
– To work for profit that you get yourself is extremely desirable, but to work for profit that somebody else wholly gets is less desirable.
– Surely the honorable senator would not refuse to pay the mien who lent the money?
– No; if the honorable and learned senator suggests for a moment that I hold in the least degree the idea of repudiation he is misconceiving me. What I am pointing out is that there is an expenditure which, if it did not exist, would be an advantage to us. We have draining out from this small population of 4,000,000 £2 per head per annum. Assuming that it were earned by the objects upon which the borrowed money was expended, still that would be a disadvantage if it could be averted. I venture to say that it could be done. I have no hesitation in saying it is not a fact that the interest is wholly or nearly earned by the works. A great deal of the borrowed money was expended upon works which have long since rotted away. Some of it was expended upon works which have had to be reconstructed out of additional loans.
– Is not that done in all business relations?
– All business relations have some circumstances which it would be well to amend. The fact that this thing has happened before is no palliation. The fact that a man had one arm broken last year is no argument that’ it would be a good thing for him to have the other arm broken this year. This money is going out of the Commonwealth every year. It seems to me that we ought by some means to discontinue or minimize public borrowing, because whenever we incur an additional debt it is always a debt1 far in excess of the sum received. Invariably our loans are floated at a discount, sometimes at a very alarming discount.
– No; they are now floated at a premium.
– I am not aware of a loan which has been floated recently at a premium. I have known loans to be floated at £92, £94, £96, and £98, but almost invariably at a discount. What happens then? The loans are terminable, and we are unable to redeem them without increasing our indebtedness.
– With the last Victorian loan of £4,000,000 it was not so. but jus.t the reverse.
– In order to redeem a loan that was floated at a discount it is absolutely imperative that we must not only renew, but increase our indebtedness.
– The honorable senator is all wrong.
– My honorable friend may be all right, but if we borrow 000,000 at a discount or 10 per cent, we receive only ^900,000, but we must pay 000,000. If we have to borrow to redeem that loan, and we borrow again at a discount we have to borrow more than ^1,000,000; and if we cannot borrow at more than ,£90 we have to borrow £1,100,000. That process continually increases our indebtedness without in any way increasing the comfort that we derive therefrom - the products in goods or works or otherwise. Therefore it is extremely desirable that we should adopt some means of reducing our present indebtedness, and legitimately restricting future borrowings. Without knowing what proposal the Government may have in its mind for consolidating the State debts, I hold that no system will be completely satisfactory which does not provide first of all for the creation of a substantial sinking fund in order to relieve posterity of the load of indebtedness under which the Commonwealth is labouring, I believe that if we consolidate the State debts we shall make a very considerable saving. I quoted yesterday a distinguished representative of Canada, who assured us some years ago that when the Dominion was established it was immediately able to borrow at 1 per cent, less than the separate Canadian provinces had been able to borrow. That is not a theory, but a fact.
– We ought to know the conditions under which the money was borrowed.
– Of course, the conditions must differ. We cannot hope to make as great a saving as they did in Canada, but the same combination of circumstances, in one direction at any rate, is sure to create in some degree the same advantages,; though it may not be 1 per cent., it may be £ or i per cent. At any rate, it ought to be obvious to every thinker that any stock which is of immense volume, and can be easily operated upon, is of more value than a limited stock which it is difficult to discover. The Federal stock, whenever the loans are consolidated, will be much more advantageous in financial markets, and therefore it will be of more value to the Commonwealth.
– It all depends upon the confidence which the public may have in Commonwealth legislation.
– Of course it does, and it goes without saying that financiers and others, will have more confidence in the aggregate credit of the ‘States than they will have, at any rate, in the credit of some of the individual States.
– Not necessarily.
– I have no hesitation in saying that necessarily they will, because if it sp happens that there are six States standing so high in public estimate that there is very large confidence in them when those States unite and prove, so to speak, their public honour as well as their assets, clearly the confidence must increase..
– No; that simile does not hold good.
– While I think that we must have created in the very near future some scheme for a sinking fund that will gradually but surely pay off our indebtedness, still we must have in connexion with future borrowings Federal control and definite restrictions. I apologise to honorable senators in some measure for having gone at such length into this intricate but extremely important question. It brings one naturally to another question of equal importance, though not of the same intricacy, and that is the question of old-age pensions. The Government has coupled the two questions together. I am not bv any means clear that there is any necessity for one to be contingent upon the other.
– Last year the Government coupled special duties with old-age pensions.
– I am not clear that there is any necessity for the Government to couple the two questions together, but still I feel that a wise consolidation and manipulation of the debts would lead to a saving, which would go a very considerable way to meet the expense of a Federal oldage pensions scheme. We.all know that the principle of old-age pensions - the feeling that men and women who have done the country’s work through a long life and have not succeeded in making some provision for their declining years, are a proper charge upon the whole community - is spreading.
– Spreading ! I think’ it has spread.
– It has not spread everywhere yet.
– Parliament is unanimous, and the only question is that of finance.
– The i’dea has not spread everywhere yet, but it has I think so completely impregnated the Australian mind that we are justified in assuming that there is a general demand for the accomplishment of a scheme of oldage pensions in some efficient form. Clearly then, there is nobody competent to effectively deal with the matter but the Federal Parliament. In the early ‘days there came to these States, then separate Colonies, some of the most strenuous, and physically and mentally fit men and women from the old world. The fact of their coming here was an indication of an adventurous, roaming spirit ; and under the conditions which then prevailed, and the great opportunities for personal advancement, or, at any rate, for the change that is so dear to adventurous spirits, they flitted from Colony to Colony, but leaving everywhere marks of their energy and enterprise which was of so much advantage to the whole Commonwealth. There are a number of those old men and women to-day stranded in the evening of their lives - men and women who, owing to the restless energy with which they were filled, never stayed long enough in any State or Colony to qualify under any conditions that must prevail in connexion with a State system of old-age pensions. If a State adopts on its own account on old-age pensions scheme, it must take some precaution that it is not imposed on by those who are not properly citizens of that State. Therefore, there are quite a number of highly deserving, poor, helpless people, who are not eligible for an old-age pension under the conditions that any State has’ created. The Commonwealth ought, therefore, as early as possible, to provide some comprehensive scheme that will embrace those who have been citizens of the Commonwealth, some of them for thirty, or forty, or even fifty years, but who have not been citizens of a single State consecutively long enough to qualify for a pension. I am glad to see in the Governor-General’s speech a reference to this question. I now desire to refer to the question of the Northern Territory, which I spoke of last night as of kindred importance with the question of Federation. Australia can never complete an effective scheme of defence until it has acquired control over that territory.
– Until the land monopoly is broken up.
– That is another question. We cannot defend Australia until we have control of the Northern Territory ; and therefore it is extremely urgent that the Commonwealth should acquire that control. At the same time I feel that the control ought to be acquired under conditions that are equitable to South Australia and to the Commonwealth. It would be a great misfortune if the Commonwealth Parliament permitted any State of the Commonwealth to, so to speak, put the rest of the Commonwealth in its pocket. In dealing with the financial arrangements there ought to be given fair consideration to the expenditure that South Australia has already had to incur in connexion with this very ‘difficult administration. But there ought to be only fair consideration; there ought to be a determination that South Australia, like the rest of the States, should bear its share of the loss in connexion with what I hope will soon be a common burden so far as the past is concerned, and a common asset so far as the future is concerned. The last paragraph of His Excellency’s speech refers to an arrangement for commercial interchange between various sections of the Empire. This question probably transcends all others in importance, intimately connected as it is with the question of defence. We know that throughout the civilized worl’d to a greater extent probably than ever before, the nations are standing up against each other armed to the teeth, and are continuing and extending their armaments ; and therefore, the danger to any nation is greater than it was in times past. Munitions of war are being increased in their destructiveness - are being rendered more deadly and more terrible in action. In order that our Empire mav be capable of defending itself against the possibilities by which it is surrounded, nothing can be more important than that it should be made completely self-contained and self-supporting in all its wide ramifications. We know that the dear old Mother Country is not by any means in that condition at the present time. Great Britain draws from the rest of the world to an enormous extent for its daily require.ments ; it draws from nations which might, any day, be at war with the Empire, and depends for its three meals each day largely on those nations. I have not the figures, up to date, but I remember that, on looking them up a little while ago, I discovered that England imports in breadstuffs alone between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 tons per annum, while the other parts of the Empire contributes to that less than 1,000,000 tons. The United States, of America contributes something approaching 4,000,000 tons of the whole; and, supposing the possibility - which I hope and expect will never arise - that England were at war with those whom we affectionately term our American cousins, she would be deprived of four-fifths of her bread supply.
– That is not now the case in regard to the importations.
– That was the case in 1892 ; and I do not suppose the position has. materially altered-since
– It has very materially altered.
– We know that 1892 was a drought year in Australia, and that the exports in that year were comparatively trifling. But Canada sent to Great Britain only 600,000 tons of breadstuffs, while the whole of the British Dominions supplied something less than 1,000,000 tons out of the 5,363,000 tons imported by England. However, that is only an illustration of what is going on in connexion with almost every product imported into Great Britain. In order that Great Britain may be secure, and that the Empire, which depends for its security on England’s security, may be assured of the possibility of defending itself - existing as it does in the midst of an aggressive belligerent world - it is. very desirable, if practicable, that all the products which are used by the various parts of the British Empire should be obtained within the borders of the Empire. Such an object, it seems to me, would be facilitated if some effective satisfactory means of trade preference could be arrived at.
– Australia must put her hand into her pocket, and does not feel disposed to do that.
– I am not sure that Australia need ‘necessarily put her hand into her pocket, but even if that were the case, she has shown already that she is prepared to do so.
– We have not seen it.
– It was ma;de very visible in connexion with the Boer
War. Without discussing whether that was a wise or an unwise war, Australia did put her hand into her pocket very deeply indeed; and there is no doubt that if any part of the Empire were seriously imperilled, and Australia’s pocket could help it, there would be no lack of desire to render help.
– How can Great Britain be given an advantage so far as breadstuffs are concerned?
– So far as breadstuffs are concerned, there can be no advantage ; but the honorable senator will see that if we are considering trade relations, we must consider them all; and there is no doubt that Great Britain could give Australia, Canada, and other parts of the Empire immense advantages without in the slightest degree hampering herself.
– Not in regard to foodstuffs.
– And Australia could give to the British Isles great advantages without hampering herself.
– Australia could, but Australia does not propose to do so.
– I do not desire to discuss the whole question ; all I say is that it is to be hoped that by means of this Conference of Prime Ministers some satisfactory solution, or even the nucleus of a solution, will be evolved. If that be so. we shall lie well repaid for the inconvenience that arises from our not being able to go on at once with public business. For those reasons, I congratulate Parliament upon the speech that has been submitted, and, with the greatest possible pleasure, second the motion for the adoption of the Address in Reply.
.- Owing to the absence of the leader of the Opposition, I find myself called upon to speak much; earlier than I intended. It appears to me that this debate opens up every political question which is now before the electors, and, therefore, I make no apology if I allude to various matters which, possibly, may not be mentioned in the short speech which His Excellency has graciously delivered to us. We have had a very heated contest at the general election. We have had very grave issues put before the electors, and we have a Prime Minister continuing, in office in violation of the principles which he most strongly and eloquently enunciated to the people. I, therefore, think that, whether
I say it or not, a great deal remains to be said, and a great deal ought to be said, so that we may have the atmosphere cleared, and know whether or not the present Prime Minister and his colleagues and supporters are in the future to govern the Commonwealth by constitutional principles or otherwise. Senator Trenwith has exceedingly cleverly, from the Government point of view, placed before us certain issues, which, he says, were submitted to the electors. I agree with the honorable senator, to some extent, that one of the issues was the old fiscal issue of more protection. It is true also that the leaders of the Opposition in both Houses put before the electors the question of anti-Socialism against Socialism - a sound and sane method of dealing with our industrial life, ,as against the extraordinary Germanic and continental idea of nationalizing all means of production and exchange, and practically depriving the community of those incentives which are planted in human nature, and which alone can give us the progress we desire. But my honorable friend Senator Trenwith omitted altogether the third issue put before the electors by the Prime Minister himself ; and that was the impossibility of carrying on constitutional government with three parties in the field; that you cannot do that any more than you can have a decent game of cricket with three elevens.
– The country has shown him that that is the proper way to do it.
– My honorable friend has maintained a very discreet silence about this very important issue. We have the Prime Minister’s own words for saying that constitutional government in the proper sense of the term - meaning a high p’hase of it - cannot be carried on as parties now exist. The Prime Minister spoke most eloquently and most plausibly about this matter. Indeed, he gave up his political life in defence of his principles, but we found him a short time afterwards going back to the Treasury bench under exactly the same circumstances, putting his principles in his pocket, forgetting all about them and living by principles the very opposite of those which he had politically died to uphold. This is, to my mind, a very important matter indeed, because I should like to ask my honorable friends opposite - especially the new leader of the Senate - where it is going to end ? Senator Tren with in his speech recollected nothing about the dirt eating of which we have heard something. Surely he cannot have forgotten the remark of Sir George Turner, who said that he had eaten dirt long enough, and the eloquent words of the Prime Minister, in stating the reasons why he gave up the reins of Government and forsook office with all its emoluments, its honours, and its dignities. Every word that the Prime Minister then said is more than applicable at the present time. I desire to know whether the Prime Minister was right or wrong in what he then maintained? If he was wrong, let us know it, and let us know what his future principles are to be. If we are to have logrolling by parties and alliances, we ought te know it. For my own part, I believe that the Prime Minister was right, and that is the view which every sound constitutional authority must uphold. But if the Prime Minister was right then, he is now living in defiance of every sentence that he uttered then. That is my point.
– Those protests of the Prime Minister were made when he was out of office.
– Quite so; and after he had given up the reins of Government, and when I suppose he felt very bitter at having been squeezed out of office. But let us go back to the issues that were before the country at the last election. I have no hesitation in saying that the issue of protection - from what I have seen and read and from studying the statistics - was merely a side issue. I do not deny that it was put forward as a Government issue, and was adopted by some of those politicians who were fighting for their lives and battling for “their seats. But I have no hesitation in saying that from the point of view of tens of thousands of electors, that issue was an absolute sham and a bogy. We all recollect, indeed, that not long before the cry was for fiscal peace. At that time the very newspapers which at the last election were clamouring for more protection., were eloquently expounding the idea of fiscal peace. But a very clever gentleman, who now occupies a seat on the High Court bench, bethought himself of a stick with which to break the Reid ‘Government; and he started up again t!his bogy of “ more protection,” although it had been agreed by every party in the Parliament, and by the whole press, that we ought not again to raise fiscal strife. Mr. Isaacs succeeded admirably in attaining his purpose. He succeeded in bringing about the downfall of the Reid Government ; and because this bogy issue made such a splendid means of upsetting that Government and of doing what the Labour Party and Mr. Isaacs wanted, they have had to go on with the farce of pretending to themselves and to the electors that this issue of free-trade and protection is once more a live one. It has become a live issue. I admit it. But it is a bogus issue. We all know, of course, that the game of politics has to be carried’ on, and that a few issues of this kind are necessary for the playing of the game. But surely you expect something better from a statesman than the mere playing of a party game with all its tricks, .n man who is capable of nothing better than that is no true statesman; he lives on sentiment and, though expressing very grand ideas, absolutely acts in defiance of them all. My belief is - and I have heard the same view expressed by hundreds of electors - not in Victoria, of course - that the protectionists of Victoria have once more gone mad. They can think of nothing else but “ more protection.” Protectionists, free-traders, and moderate tariffists all joined together as earnestly as they could in framing our present Tariff. The cry then was ‘ ‘ Revenue without destruction.” I do not believe in this ultra-protection that is now asked for, but without which it appears that some of our Victorian factories cannot live. The issue of anti-Socialism against Socialism raised at the last elections was a far more pressing one. It is an issue which was far more effective, and which is of far more concern to our industrial life and to the principles on which our government ought to be carried on.
– It was a greater bogy than any other.
– My honorable friend may be perfectly right if he takes the extremists of either party. I do not desire to do so. I do not desire to saddle my friends of the Labour Party with a belief in the establishment of State nurseries or in the abolition of the marriage tie. I simply desire to deal with them according to their own platform. They advocate a phase of continental Socialism, namely, the nationalization of the means of production and exchange and transportation. But for purposes of electioneering - as one of the tricks of the game - they have lowered their demands, and now say that they desire simply to nationalize industries as they become monopolies. As Mr. Watson has said, they desire to go one step at a time - a very good thing to do if you are going ahead in the right direction.
– And the country has said that it approves of that policy.
– I am happy ro say that in the Senate I do not see any evidence of the approval of the country. The Senate has been strengthened in the opposite direction. It has been made stronger in support of sound and proper principles - those principles without which there can be no real progress. I have no doubt that at the next elections the Senate will be made even stronger in this direction, and that it will be able to taI:e its proper place in the affairs of the country, and to act very usefully as a saucer in which to cool the Labour Party’s proposals. When we come to deal with the Tariff, as we shall have to do later on, I believe that we shall find that that issue was very much of a bogy. I should like to know how it is to be dealt with. The last Tariff took exactly nine months to frame. On that occasion we were deluged with placards and manifestoes from both sides as to what the duties ought to be.
– And smothered by lobbyists.
– We were almost worried to death by them, each side putting its version of the facts and figures before members of Parliament. If anomalies in the Tariff have been discovered; if there are things in it which need rectification, those matters should be attended to. But if the whole Tariff is to be opened up, no one can suppose that there will not be a conflict between the free-traders, the moderates, and the Victorian protectionists, just as there was before. Compromises will be arrived at, and it is bound to take a very long time. I deny that there is any necessity for increased duties. In Tasmania we have several important industries. We have two woollen mills in Hobart which are being carried on most admirably, and have more orders than they can fulfil. Mr. Johnstone, of Johnstone Brothers, told me that in November last he sent away 5,000 pairs of blankets, and that he is turning out over 100 pairs per day. I asked him if 15 per cent, on woollens was sufficient. He said that it was more than ample, and that he could manage with 10 per cent. Indeed, he said he believed that the industry need not fear if it had to compete with England or foreign nations without any duty at all. But, following up the ideas of the Victorian protectionists, he said that, though they might be able to do with 15 per cent., they would rather have 20 per cent. This factory ih Hobart is equipped with all the latest machinery, it has become strong, and fears no competition. So far from wanting a higher duty than 15 per cent., Mr. Johnstone is certain that it can do with less. Turning to the question of the boot industry, what do we find ? For five years, under the Reid Government, in New South Wales, that industry was carried on without any protection whatever. If that could be done for five years in New South Wales, it seems evident that an increase of duty is not required. It cannot be urged that the Victorian factories were better off at that time than the New South Wales factories, or that the Victorian factories were more solvent. Indeed, I had it pointed out to me that they were less solvent than were the free-trade factories in New South Wales. If that be so - and I am assured that it is a fact that no one can deny - what are we to think of a number of gentlemen who say that 30 per cent, on boots is not sufficient, and that the duty must be raised? Such an argument is a mockery of the people of this country.
– There is not a Tariff Bill before the Senate, is there?
– No, but Senator Trenwith put most cleverly what were the issues. The most important issue is that raised by the Prime Minister as to whether we are to have in the Federal Parliament constitutional government or not. Let me ask my ‘honorable friend Senator McGregor where this principle of the smallest party of the three being in office and kept in power by the Labour Party so long as their legislation is satisfactory, is going to stop. I ask him this in his capacity as leader of the Labour Party.
– The Government were against the Labour Party on every division to-day.
– I am not at all disconcerted by my honorable friend’s interjection. The alliance exists. It is there. Under the alliance Mr. Deakin is going to England, under it Sir William
Lyne has packed up his portmanteau and lias gone, under it we are to have a session lasting a week or two, and business is to be postponed, and under it Mr. Deakin is kept in office so that he may violate his own principles.
– Why do you make statements that are not facts?
– My question still remains, and I want an answer to it. I am going to attempt to give an answer myself. I may not be right, but I will make a guess at it. My question is, “ Where is this state of things going to end ? “ In the way in which we have been going, in the way in which Mr. Deakin has been holding on to office, this is what may happen : Mr. Deakin will come back from England - whether he tackles the Tariff before this takes place or not I do not know - and at the right moment Mr. Watson will probably say to Mr. Deakin, and there is nothing to stop him, “You have had office, for one, two, or three years. You have had it solely owing to the alliance, written or unwritten, direct or indirect, with, and the support! of, the Labour Party. Our party is larger than yours. We have not had a portfolio. We have not had any of the sweets of office. All the portfolios have been given to your party. You have had all the sweets of office, and now do not you think it is time for a change? I therefore suggest - rather I do not suggest, but I demand - that you send in your resignation to the GovernorGeneral, and advise His Excellency to send for me, Mr. Watson.” Then Mr. Watson will go on to say, “ I expect from you no more and no less than the support which I and my labour colleagues have given to you.” That is the nice state of affairs that Ave are coming to. Where is it going to stop? It is a pretty end to all Mr. Deakin told us. That is what will come of this three elevens system, and it will come in spite of all Mr. Deakin’s warnings, because, although he warns us, he does nothing but live upon the system he condemns. I am rather strong about this point, because mv friend the Prime Minister, whom as a man we all respect and almost love, cannot as a politician ask us to have confidence in him any longer. Mr. Deakin had the chance of his life, and he has never stretched out a little finger to take it. He has never stretched out anything but his tongue to put an end to this system that he has condemned in such scathing terms. He has never done a single thing to end what he said was absolutely subversive of all responsible government. What might he have done when he was forming his Government? Instead of going back to exactly the same position as was not fit for him to live under twelve months before, why did he not ask Mr. Watson to join him, and give the Labour Party some of the portfolios, having a Labour-Liberal Government, as he ought to have done? I suppose he would say it was impossible, that the portfolios would not have been accepted, but does not every man of common-sense see that if Mr. Deakin had taken up that position he would have been now in a strong position which nobody could assail? He would have tried then by his acts to carry out the principles he had avowed. He would have made some effort to stamp out the system which he said was pushing the Commonwealth over a precipice. He would have made some effort to lick the Labour Party into something like decent shape, instead of having to condemn them as a party without either judgment or conscience, or something of that sort. He could have done all that, and Mr. Watson, of course, would have declined the offer. Of course, Mr. Watson could not accept it. He has to reckon not only with the caucus - not only with the pledged members who are here, and who would have forbidden it - but also wilh the organization outside. I refer to the Political Labour Council, over which I see our friend Senator Findley is now going to preside. He would have had to consult outside organizations which nobody but the Labour Party knows, composed of nonentities, of men who are politically unknown. They would have had to consider the matter, and they would have said to Mr. Watson, “Tell Mr. Deakin to keep his portfolios to himself.” But what a strong position Mr. Deakin would have been in if he had taken that step. If the Labour Party had refused his offer then, could they have gone on refusing it? If a common-sense proposition is made to the Labour Party, under which responsible government can be carried out, are they going to refuse it always ? They dare not, because they know they would lose greatly in the opinion of the electors, who, after all, would be their masters then as they are now. Mr. Deakin has missed his chance, and here is a gentleman by the name of
Johnson in Perth who is now suggesting the very thing that Mr. Deakin should have suggested.
– As a Labour man I repudiate entirely what Mr. Johnson has said.
– Of course my honorable friend repudiates it. He might as, well tell me that the sun is shining outside. Of course it is. I wanted that suggestion to come from Mr. Deakin, and then his actions would have been in accord with his, words. Mr. Deakin would have had the right to live politically, even by an alliance with the Labour Party, if he had taken one single step to bring about an alliance in which his party and the Labour Party would have become one party. There would have been then two parties in Parliament. Mr. Deakin, by missing his chance, has left it to Mr. Johnson, of Perth, to suggest that the Labour Party’s platform wants broadening. Would not any man of common-sense agree with him, notwithstanding the repudiation of my honorable friend sitting opposite? This gentleman has pointed out that there is too much of the pledge in the Labour Party’s programme. Ts there a man of common-sense in the Commonwealth who will not indorse that view? Has any man the right to come here as a mere delegate - as a mere talking machine - the ropes being pulled by somebody outside? Has anybody the right to come here as a kind of slave? We have heard a great deal about slavery applied by the Labour Party to the question of Chinese labour, but what are some honorable members sitting here but slaves? They cannot vote for fear they should violate a pledge. They do nothing but what they are told, not only by the caucus, but by the labour councils outside. This gentleman in Perth has a soul above the present Labour Party. He is going up towards something high - something like good and proper government. Hereis one man, at all events, who would have shaken our Prime Minister by the hand and told him he was on the right track.
– Any man who will rat on the Labour Party will meet with the honorable senator’s approval.
– There it is again. It is coming out in every word the honorable senator utters.
The school comes out inall you utter ;
Besides, you smell of bread and butter.
Every sentence the honorable senator utters savours of the same thing. Here is a pledged Labour PartY. here is a caucus, here is an outside machine having control over them all, and anybody who professes to raise a voice against them is a traitor and a blackleg, and everything that is bad. If Mr. Johnson has not the strength to do this, if he cannot convert the Labour Party, the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth might have made a very great step towards converting them. I understood from Mr. Deakin’s trenchant criticism, from his. eloquent words, that he was speaking from the bottom of his heart, and voicing his inmost convictions about what responsible government ought to be, and I am bitterly disappointed that so far from taking a single step to carry out his principles he has been living every day and every, hour since by violating them. Therefore, however much I have regarded and esteemed Mr. Deakin, I cannot understand his. actions, and politically I think he has forfeited the esteem and regard of all men in the Commonwealth who desire what he apparently desires - constitutional government. I think the very gravest consequences are ahead of us. I see nothing whatever to prevent the scheme I have enunciated being carried out, and Mr. Deakin and Mr. Watson changing places, and the same old logrolling system going on which Mr. Deakin has so strenuously condemned. It therefore appears to me a very great pity that the Prime Minister is to attend the Imperial Conference at Home. We ought to, and I hope we ‘do, take a great interest in the subjects of vast importance which are to be brought before that Conference, and we do not want to move any motions which would in any way detract from the position which the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth ought to take up, and the dignity which he ought to command when he gets there. At the same time, I am sure there are thousands of electors who do not believe that the Prime Minister will worthily represent them on many points. One point upon which I think they will be misrepresented is that of protection, applying it as we must to the question of preferential trade. I regard preferential trade as about the most important question which can or will ever come before the Empire, except the question of defence. There are various opinions in the old country about it, but every day men whose integrity, ability, education and culture can- not be doubted are coming’ round to the idea- that some change is wanted in the fiscal policy of the Empire. I would recommend my honorable friends opposite to read two speeches recently delivered by Lord Milner. He is the coming man. I believe he will take Mr. Chamberlain’s place. He describes himself as an Imperialist of the deepest dye, and personally I hope to live and die an Imperialist of the deepest dye also. I have a much better cry than “Australia for the Australians.” I have the cry of “Australia for the Empire.”
– For the Chinese.
– We are not talking about Chinese. People who talk about the Chinese generally endeavour to hunt them out of the country when they want to get the sweets of office, and when they have got the sweets of office they want to keep them in. That is the only thing I have learnt recently about those who talk of the Chinese. If my honorable friends read Lord Milner’s speech they will’ see what a true Imperialist is. In spite of all the surroundings of England, in spite of the press and the free-trade victories, he announces himself as a preferential trader, and if preferential trade does mean a moderate amount of protection he will have it for the sake of binding the Empire together. But what is Mr. Deakin’s idea of preferential trade? Have we not had a sample of it in this Senate, and did not four of us walk out of the Chamber for the express purpose of killing the Bill, believing, as we did then, and do now, that the Bill was a disgrace to Australia? The factory owner of Australia was riot called upon to sacrifice a single farthing. I suggested that the Bill would have our support if on even halfadozen items there was a paltry 5 per cent, given to Great Britain ; but not a bit of it. No Minister who” is supported by the Victorian factory owners could dare to reduce duties. Whoever heard of knocking off a paltry 5 per cent, from a duty of 40 or 50 per cent. ? The Victorian factory owner woul’d think you had all gone mad - that you were all fit for Yarra Bend. I contend that that Bill was a mockery, and therefore I helped to kill it. I hope Ave shall never see such a Bill again. How can it benefit Great Britain if we raise the duty on boots from 30 to 40 or 50 per cent., or raise the duty on hats, or raise the duty on most manufactured articles by 10 or 15 per cent, in our Tariff, and then put on more ‘duty as against the outside world, if we still leave those high duties against Great Britain ? If we do that, what is the use of talking about preferential trade ? Mr. Deakin, whenever he talks on this subject, says he believes in preferential trade. But what is the use of believing in a principle and then bringing in a scheme which is an absolute impossibility? Is Mr. Deakin going to live by doing these things? Is he going always to govern the Commonwealth by announcing most wonderful ideas and then acting contrary to them ? I desire to see the Empire consolidated, and when I am told that it can be bound together by no ties other than those of sentiment, I do not believe the statement. Mr. Churchill - who, I admit, is a most clever young gentleman - says that the defence of the Empire is not a business proposition, but I should like to hear Mr. Chamberlain anr] Lord Milner on the other side. What did Lord Salisbury say about the defence of the country? He said that it was not the business of the War Office, but that of the people. To consolidate the Empire, to defend its parts, to increase the trade between the different parts, is a business proposition in every sense. How Mr. Churchill, with his free-trade notions, or whatever notions he holds, can say that the defence of the Empire is not a business proposition, I cannot understand. It. is one of those catch phrases which caught on, and which I suppose made (his party think that he was a very fine young gentleman in answering the preferential traders for the time being. Now, are we here to do business? Is not everything in connexion with defence and trade essentially a business proposition? I hope that when the Prime Minister goes Home he will not misrepresent us, but will come back and give us a scheme of preferential trade which will not flout Great Britain, which, to use Mr. Chamberlain’s words, will not be a mockery, but which will help to bind the Empire together, and have some tendency towards free-trade within the Empire. My protectionist friends on the other side may point to the United States and Germany, and say that they furnish absolute evidence of the benefits of protection. But it is equally open to me to say, and it is said in every modern book that one takes up. that Germany and America furnish splendid evidence of the benefits of freetrade. Throughout the great republic of
America, with its forty-five States and its population of 80,000,000 persons, no one has ever suggested the erection of fiscal barriers and walls round each State such as our Victorian friends used to build round their little State. That was never dreamt of there.
– Have Victorians ever said that with reference to the Commonwealth ?
– I do not know what Victorian people say.
– The honorable senator should compare like with like.
– All I know is that Victorians are now shouting for a bogus issue. My honorable friend may say that Germany affords a wonderful instance of the benefits of protection, but I submit that she also furnishes a. wonderful instance of the benefits of inter-Imperial free-trade. If the Prime Minister is to worthily represent the Commonwealth, he ought to have some scheme to submit which would make for more free-trade within the Empire. But my honorable friends want a little more protection against the outside world, and I have come to the conclusion that here it is of no use to be a free-trader.
– Say 2 j per cent., or something like that.
– My honorable friend knows well that to some of the industries of Great Britain 21 per cent, may mean a verygreat deal. It may mean all the difference between losing and gaining a market. There again my honorable friend bears out my argument. In Victoria the people are not used to reductions of duties. The very idea of it makes their hair stand on end. It is a kind of medicine to which they are not accustomed. They are asking for more and more protection. A man might as well save his breath as talk to a Victorian about taking off duties.
– In Tasmania they want an earthquake to shift the people under any circumstances.
– In Tasmania the people are getting on exceedingly well. We are trying to build up the character of our people. It appears to me that some members of this Parliament quite forget that in every Bill that we pass we ought to have an eve to the character of the people. We cannot possibly have a sturdy, self-reliant, strenuous and progressive people if we are to carry out all the whims, fads, and fancies of the Labour Party or the Labour protectionists of Victoria.
– For years all the young people have been leaving Tasmania.
– My honorable friend has made one year, in which. I believe, we lost thirty-seven persons, into years. That is the case with Victoria. Ever since I took my seat in the Senate I have understood that adults have been leaving Victoria.
– Not the young fellows.
– I understand that, to a great extent, the manhood of Victoria has been leaving, and this exodus has all taken place in spite of most strenuous efforts to keep up high protective duties. I was very pleased indeed to hear the remarks of Senator Cameron with regard to defence. This afternoon I learned from the reply of the Minister of Home Affairs to my question that the cadet system is to be enlarged. But I ask Ministers if they are not absolutely ashamed of the cadet system as it stands. According to the statistics we’ have in Australia 310,000 youths between 12 and 19 years of age. Under the first scheme which was enunciated, it was proposed, out of that number, to drill about 23,000 youths, at a cost of £23,000 a year, but it is now proposed in the near future to drill 37,000. Is that the way in which to train the manhood of Australia? to put our defences in order, to carry out a single idea that Senator Cameron has enunciated with regard to the absolute necessity of being able to defend our shores? Here we have a dozen schemes before us. There is universal training, which some persons want, which Senator Cameron thinks we ought to have, but which I do not think either the manhood or the pockets of Australia would stand. There is no reason why we should go in for a system of universal training. But there is the Swiss system, under which a young man is taken at the age of 17 or 18 years in the infantry for forty days in the year, and in the cavalry for fifty days. In every subsequent year he has to submit to so many days’ training, perhaps twenty or thirty, and gradually his annual term of drill is reduced. In that way they have built up a very large army of trained men. I believe that these trained men have been complimented upon their efficiency by mili tary experts. Because we cannot get evert the Swiss system here, the Victorian Defence League, to which I belong, has suggested to Ministers that they should call upon the manhood of Victoria to enrol themselves as either cadets or rifle-club men or volunteers, and then, if that call is not readily met, as I am quite sure it will notbe, the League is going to ask the Government to introduce a scheme of universal training. But the Defence League of New South Wales is now asking the Government to adopt a scheme of universal training. If it is thought that any form of universal, training would be evaded, the only course to adopt is to have an absolutely uptodate and perfect system of cadet training applicable to all youths between 12 and 19 years of age. Then we should have some material to work upon, and if ever universal training were introduced probably a week spent in camp once a vear for three years, with so many nights’ drill and so many afternoons’ rifle practice, would serve to make these trained cadets efficient soldiers. But the way in which we are fiddling with the matter can lead to no good result. Let me point out once again two or three fatal flaws in the cadet system. In the first place, there is nothing compulsory about it. We compel boys and girls to go to school in order tolearn how to read, write, and figure, but we will not even take the trouble to enact that they shall go to school for the express purpose of being drilled, made squareshouldered, taught how to deport themselves, and to develop their muscles.
– Is there any difficulty in getting the number of cadets for which the present scheme provides?
– I should think that we ought to be able to get 37,000 cadets out of the 310,000 youths in the Commonwealth; but I feel certain that unless we have some sort of compulsion, more than one-half of the youths of the Commonwealth will never attend drill. Why is the matter to be left to the whim of the cadet or to the fad of the parent? Why cannot we have a compulsory system of drill ? We have a compulsory system of education. Is not drill part of a boy’s education? Certainly it is. The answer I got from Senator Keating to-day was a little hazy on the question of the uniform. I happen to know that some of the military experts think it a perfect farce to put boys of 12 to 13 years of age into a uniform which costs 15s. There is no occasion for the junior cadets pf 12, 13, and 14 years of age to be provided with more than perhaps a cap. Let the uniform be withheld until they begin to get into senior rank. Let it be given as a kind of reward to them for having become efficient in their drill. Is there any sense ir. requiring boys of that age to wear a uniform at a cost of 15s., when we can drill only a tenth part of the youth of the Commonwealth? Is that the way in which to get a citizens’ army or to build up a Defence Force? Certainly it is not. Colonel McCay’s scheme was to apply to all boys attending school. What is the good of that system when in seme of the States boys leave the State school when they are 13 years of age? What is the use of applying a compulsory system to a school boy when we want to get hold of the youths of from 14 to 17 years of age? Is it not far more important to drill the youths when they are becoming hobble- de-hoys and larrikins than to bother about putting in uniform boys of 12 and 13 years of age? The proposal will not bear examination for a moment. I understand that the Government, with the exception of one Minister, believe in universal training, but they have not the courage to apply a system of that kind to the boys in our schools. How can we ever expect to have a proper military system while we have a weak-kneed Government of that description? I do not quite agree with all that Senator Cameron said about the command of the seas and the use of a Navy in comparison with our Military Forces. I think that if we enter upon the construction of an Australian Navy it will land us into an enormous expenditure, which I feel quite sure the electors are not prepared to allow their representatives to vote. In my opinion, this idea of an Australian Navy is a mistake. I understand that a great number of our Admirals and Naval men hold that view. Possibly they may be prejudiced in favour of the Imperial Navy, but still their advice is worth listening to. It appears to me to be the height of folly to say that we cannot afford to expend £100,000 or £150,000 upon the training of our boys, but can afford to go in for a Navy which is estimated to cost £3,000,000. We ought to trust to the Imperial Navy, though not to Imperial seamen. Let us train our naval cadets and our young men for defence on the sea as well as for defence on land. Let us not only have ships as training vessels for Australians., but let us have some of the squadron manned by Australian men and commanded by Australian officers. But why break away ‘from the old country and declare that we desire a navy of our own? Are we to enter upon the construction of armed cruisers and of battleships like the Dreadnought? With schemes for old-a,ge pensions, an interState railway, and the taking over of the Northern Territory, shall we ever have money with which to build an Australian navy ? If we follow our experts., who, of course, believe that there is “ nothing like leather,” I am afraid we shall be committed to an expenditure which will mean disaster. The Prime Minister, if he is not careful, will, I fear, misrepresent Australia. I do not believe that Australia is. prepared to break away from the Imperial Navy, or to follow Mr. Deakin in departing from the example of New Zealand. We ought to continue to subscribe to the Imperial Navy, but we should subscribe more in men and material than in money. The idea of our trying to build a few torpedo boats and destroyers, and then imagining that such a policy will help in the defence of our ports ! The ports are not the point ; the battle which will decide the fate of the Empire will be fought upon the high seas. Australia must stand or fall with the Empire; let us, therefore, have one Empire, one trade, one navy, taking care that in the Navy there are Australian men and boys and Australian officers. I am very much interested in the question of the proposed Imperial Council, the establishment of which, I think, would do an enormous amount of good in the way of consolidating the Empire, and helping the people in Great Britain to understand Australia, and helping Australians to understand our friends at Home. An Imperial Council of the kind might meet every two years, if once a year were too often, and representatives, from Australia could be sent. It is, therefore, a bitter disappointment to me that the Premiers of the various States which formed this Commonwealth are not summoned to attend the forthcoming Imperial Conference. This omission I regard as a great blunder on the part of the Liberal Party. It may be said that we have federated for the ‘sole reason that in regard to defence matters we may speak with one voice ; and that the Prime
Minister does voice the opinions of the whole of the Federation. But defence is not the only question that has to be considered; we have to consider the administration of the lands of the various. States, and also the question of immigration. The Commonwealth has nothing to do with the administration of the lands in the States. Under the regime of Mr. Deakin there is much talk of schemes of immigration, though it is well known that no scheme can be carried out unless the States supply the land. Then, further, the very life of the States, financially and otherwise, depends on right decisions in regard to all those matters in which the Federal Parliament is paramount ; and it is a great mistake to imagine that any one man can speak for a vast continent like Australia. New South Wales has a population of 1,500,000, and a revenue of over £12,000,000, with an enormous trade ; and yet it is not proposed that the Premier of that State, or one of the State’s Ministers, shall be summoned to the Imperial Conference.
– Would it not lead to complications if certain of the States pressed one view, while the Commonwealth pressed another?
– It might lead to complications, if either view were pressed to a bitter determination, and the States and the Commonwealth voted against each other. But the point raised by Senator Millen seems to me to favour the summoning of the States Premiers to the Conference. If it should turn out that after argument the Premiers were to prove the Prime Minister to be wrong, and the Prime Minister should go in a direction opposed to that desired by the Premiers, what then about the representation of Australia? Would it not be .disastrous to send Home a Prime Minister who, on an important point, went in an exactly opposite direction to that desired by the Premiers? All this goes to show, I think, that the Imperial Council ought to consist of a larger number. There is no desire to have over representation, or to have two or three Ministers from each little State galloping to England every now and then ; but there ought to be adequate representation, and I submit that one man is not sufficient. I am very hopeful that a scheme to give constitutional power to the proposed Imperial Council may be evolved, and that out of this Conference we may get what I shall not call a governing body, but some body in which every part of the Empire will be heard on all matters in which they are concerned, such as defence, trade, post and telegraph administration, and immigration. As to the question of the Final Court of Appeal, I should like to say that in the Federal Convention I fought as hard as I could against in any way cutting down or removing the privilege of the humblest elector to appeal to His Majesty in Council. I can very well recollect being “ hauled over the coals “ by the leader of the Opposition in this Chamber, who was also a member of the Convention. I was opposed to the honorable and learned gentleman on this point, though I offered my opposition with great deference in view *<Sf the fact that I regarded him as knowing more of such matters than I did myself. I pointed out, however, that the Federation was intended to enlarge the privileges of the people of Australia, and I never believed for a moment in preventing the Privy Council from dealing with any question regarding the interpretation of the Constitution. It appeared to me then, as it appears to me now, that the men who framed the Constitution, and who listened to the speeches of the framers and the comments of the press, were the worst to undertake the work of interpretation j and, as I say, I never believed in interfering in any degree with the right of every subject to appeal to the King in Council. I hope that the judgment of the Privy Council will stand in regard to the payment of income tax by Federal officers, and that the High Court and every Court throughout the Empire will acknowledge the Privv Council to be the highest tribunal for all parts of the Empire.
– What nonsense !
– It may be nonsense to the honorable senator. We all know that the honorable senator desires a Court for the Labour Party only. If there be an Arbitration Court he desires a Judge who will go with the Labour Party every time ; and if a Judge dares to give an award in favour of the capitalist, he would telegraph to the Socialists at home to have nothing to do with such courts. In one case I believe there was absolutely a petition to have a Judge removed, and the honorable senator, and those who think with him, desire nothing which extends beyond the ideas of the party to which they belong, even though injustice be done to every other class. I should be exceedingly .glad if the
Government could foreshadow any scheme which would settle the financial problem justly between the States and the Commonwealth. It is an old dodge, of course, to mix up a popular issue like old-age pensions with some other great scheme. Mr. Chamberlain tried the dodge, and, in spite of it, he came in for scathing criticism. The best way would be to let the question of old-age pensions “paddle its own canoe,” and be judged on its merits. I am far more in favour of giving old-age pensions - but in a proper manner - than I am of building an Australian Navy. Last session I gave notice of motion, which, however, never reached discussion, dealing with this matter, and I shall probably reintroduce the motion, or submit an amendment on the Bill, when the old-age pensions proposals are before us. By all means give pensions to old men and women who cannot help to earn a living for themselves ; but it is the height of folly to scatter oldage pensions broadcast for everybody for all time to come, without asking those who are to participate to practice thrift or contribute in any way - without asking men to give up one pot of beer or two figs of tobacco per week, a denial which would be sufficient to provide a pension. If no other honorable senator will support me in this view, I shall stand alone. In years to come the legislation we are now passing must react on the character of our people, and if we desire to make them strenuous, selfreliant, and thrifty, we shall not do so by pitching 10s. a week at the head of every one who, it may be, hides his money or exaggerates his poverty. The systems adopted in Germany, Denmark, and other places are working most admirably; but the representatives of the people in Australia have got oldage pensions into their heads as a kind of battle-cry, and they do not seem to think that the matter even needs discussion. Under the schemes in the countries I have mentioned, people are assisted to be industrious and thrifty ; and yet honorable senators opposite do not seem to be willing to take a warning from history, or any lesson from the examples afforded in other parts of the world. In a humble way I endeavour to do so, and I say that there are men and women now suffering in our midst who ought to be relieved at once, without any humbug or nonsense. We have been dangling oldage pensions before them long enough, and now old-age pensions ought to be provided for those I have mentioned ; but the youth of the community ought to be taught that they owe a duty to Australia. Let us teach our youth their duties, and not always be haranguing them about their rights. There is no right due to any man without a corresponding duty, and on every man there is the duty cast to maintain himself and be thrifty. Under the scheme of my friends opposite I am afraid we shall teach the youth of the country nothing about their duties, but simply talk to them about their rights.
– Why does the honorable senator not propose that the people should go to bed in the dark, so as to save the cost of matches, and thus provide a pound or two every year?
– Is that a relevant interjection? What I say is that people ought to prove their right to a pension by contributing towards the cost, though, of course, a man who could not contribute would get a pension. Can it be said that men earning wages from £2 10s. to £4 a week cannot afford 6d. a week towards a pension fund ? I find that if a man commences at twenty-one years of age he need only contribute something under 9d. per week in order to provide sufficient to give him a pension.
– The honorable senator is rather late in the day. Why did he not apply that principle to Judges and other public officials who received big pensions ? _
– I am inclined to think that the last paragraph in His Excellency’s speech is the most important, where we are told of an agreement to take over the Northern Territory being laid before us when next we meet. This is a very important matter, and there are one or two points on which I desire to say a word, it appears to me that the agreement is rather one-sided, and that the Premier of South Australia has made by far the best of the bargain. I notice that the railway is to be taken over at the cost of its construction, though I see nothing about the present state of the repair of the railway. If the Commonwealth is going to take over the whole of the debt of the Northern Territory, that surely ought to be done on terms which are fair to the Commonwealth. If we are to assume the whole of the liability, and take over the railway at cost price, I should like to know the state of the rails and the sleepers. Rails and sleepers have so many years of life, and are we to be asked to take over this railway at the cost of construction when that life has practically come to an end ?
– There is no railwayin Tasmania in as good order as the Northern Territory railway.
– The railway may be in good order ; and all I say is that we ought not to adopt an agreement which provides that we are to take over the line at cost price, regardless of its state of repair. If it is in good order, so much the better; but I do not think that any railway is worth cost price unless it is in good order. Another point in the agreement, which is a very small one, makes it clear that the South Australian people have taken verv great care of themselves. We all know that the transcontinental railway will be of benefit to the whole Commonwealth, but it will be of enormous benefit to the State through which it passes. It will promote settlement in that State, and will benefit it in other ways. Yet we find that South AusTalia proposes to give us permission to take her timber, ballast, and stone if we pay for it as set forth in her Act. That appears to me to be most ungenerous. It is a very small thing, but still it is ungenerous. South Australia should bear in mind the enormous debt we are to incur, and the enormous advantages which will be secured to her by this expenditure by the Federal Parliament. Surely, therefore, on this point she could afford to be generous ; and unless she is generous the agreement will not be a fair one. The reason why I have spoken on this matter now is that it appears to me that the agreement is really t> cover up the vexed question as to whether we are to have a transcontinental railway to the West or not. Now, I do not think that it is a proper and a fair thing that that matter should be slipped in and mixed up with another contract. That is not mv idea of statesmanship : and I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be able to make a clear statement on that point. I can quite understand that South Australia will give way. and allow the railway to be built. But I still contend most strenuously that it is not properly the task of the Commonwealth to build that railway. It is the business of the State concerned to build it, and the business of the Commonwealth to give a fair and generous subsidy in return for the advantages which the Commonwealth generally will derive from it.
– Let us have the survey before we talk about the railway.
– Well, I contend that my State has no right to be asked to contribute towards surveying other people’s te:ritory. Let Western Australia survey her territory at her own expense, and then come to us and ask us to contribute a subsidy in proportion to the benefits received. I have never yet departed from my principles on that point, and consider that justice demands that the railway should be built by the States concerned. South Australia will undoubtedly derive an enormous amount of benefit from our taking over of the Northern Territory.
– Does not Tasmania get the best of the bargain with regard to the cable service?
– We cannot help those things. I am. not objecting to the Northern Territory being taken over, or to South Australia receiving some advantage. In a large Federal matter of this kind, it cannot be helped that one State should particularly benefit. We all come out on top sometimes. But I say again - do not let us mix up this question of the Northern Territory with the question of the railway to Western Australia. The people of the West, will some day have the railway. Some day they ought to have it. But let them pay for it just as we have paid for our own trunk lines in other States. I think that I have now exhausted the subjects upon which I wished to speak ; but before sitting down, I should like to say that in my opinion it would be a saving of time if my honorable friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, would consider the advisableness of adjourning when Parliament has done its business, instead of proroguing. I do not see the object of bringing the Governor-General here again when we reassemble to do the business of the session. What is the use of wasting time in that way? It appears to me that the better course would be for Parliament to adjourn to a date to be fixed. Then we need not have a second formal opening of Parliament. Of course, if the Government has made another arrangement, it is not for me to dictate to them. The party to which I belong cannot control the Government. We are not their masters. I merely suggest a. course that would prevent a great loss of time. Another request which I have to make to my honorable friend is that when our work does commence, the
Vice-President of the Executive Council will see to it that the Senate has some business to go on with. If in the other House members choose to fight away for weeks at a time, the Senate should not be left with nothing to do. Let us have legislation to go on with while another place is otherwise engaged.
– . - I do not intend to address the Senate upon the matters referred to in the Governor-General’s address, but rather to draw attention to what I consider to be some defects in the Electoral Act and in its administration during the recent election. It occurred to me, as one who took an interest in the elections in a rather remote part of Western Australia - the Swan District - that while the Electoral Department had made every provision for placing people upon the rolls by sending police constables to canvass amongst the workers in the camps and elsewhere, it had made no provision by which those people might be able to vote. That is to say, while the Department put the people on the rolls, it d’d not send policemen round to witness applications for the postal votes. I myself, as a justice of the peace, witnessed many postal votes. Now, that is a thing that I personally deprecate. I do not think that any man who is actively engaged in politics should witness such votes. It would be better if the Department supervised the whole of such work. We have to-day heard the usual stereotyped remarks from Senator Dobson. We have had his customary attack’ upon the Labour Party. We have heard it many times before. I have listened to it over and over again during the last three years. I am getting quite used to it. The honorable senator’s eulogy of Mr. Johnson, M.L.A., of Western Australia, is one of which Mr. Johnson will hardly be proud. Any man who has been a member of the Labour Party, or who has claimed to be a Socialist, or even a reasonably strong democrat, does not think much of a eulogy coming from Senator Dobson, of Tasmania; and I do not think that even Mr. Johnson - a gentleman with whom I do not agree, and whose views on some matters I entirely repudiate - will care to receive his praise. Now, I have been wondering since my return to Melbourne, what is going to happen in regard to the personnel of the present Ministry, and what attitude the Prime Minister and his colleagues intend to adopt to wards the right honorable member for Swan, Sir John Forrest?
– Oh, he is to be acting Prime Minister !
– Yes, we have read that he is to be acting Prime Minister ; but if the electors of Western Australia as a whole were consulted, I venture to say that he would be not even a member of the Federal Parliament, let alone Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. Sir John Forrest’s opinion of the Labour Party has been frequently set forth not only in Hansard, but in the public press and from the platform. It is not a very good one. Yet do we not find that the Labour Party is keeping him in office? Do we not find that the Labour Party is the only party that can assist his colleagues in the Senate to pass legislation? Sir John Forrest went to the country not as a Minister ought to do, but to represent a particular policy that the Ministry professes not to believe in.
– He represented the Labour Party.
– He did nothing of the kind. He was supposed to go to the country as any other Minister would, to represent the views and the policy that his colleagues in the Government believed in. But in Western Australia he stated publicly - I do not make this statement simply on my own responsibility ; it has been published in the press - that he intended to select for every seat - that is, for three in the Senate and five in the House of Representatives - a candidate pledged to a particular platform, and that was the platform of my honorable friends opposite, not the platform of Sir John Forrest’s colleagues.
– We knew nothing about that.
– Had Sir John Forrest been successful we should have had three more senators sitting on the benches opposite and five more members sitting on the Opposition benches in the House of Representatives. Would Sir John Forrest’s colleagues have liked that? Honorable senators opposite sometimes talk of the Ministry eating dirt through receiving support from my party. They receive my support, because I believe that they are better than the party sitting in Opposition. But their own colleague - the colleague of my honorable friend the Vice-President of the Executive Council - went over to
Western Australia and endeavoured to bring to this Parliament men who were bound, and tied publicly and privately by their pledges and utterances, to oppose the very Ministry to which Sir John Forrest belonged. Only one of those gentlemen was returned to this Parliament, and where do we find him sitting in the House of Representatives? We find him sitting in Opposition, ready to vote against the Ministry. In my own opinion, and in the opinion of the public of Western Australia - I mean, of course, the majority of the public - there has been some alliance between Sir John Forrest and the part)’ known as the Anti-Socialist Party of Australia, whereby they got a share of the enormous funds used throughout Australia to combat Socialism and the Labour Party. I am glad that my honorable friends opposite laugh. Possibly they enjoyed some of the fruits.
– The Labour Party spent more money in New South Wales than any other party did.
– Then it was very lucky indeed to be able to do so. The Western Australian Labour Party was not so fortunate. We had very little money to spend. In the Senate we find that no less than eleven of the members elected at the last election are sitting in Opposition. Only two are sitting in support of the Government, and there are five labour men who, I assume, are, like myself, prepared to support a Government which will give them the best measures. Now, if Sir John Forrest had been successful the figures would have been reversed. There would have been fourteen sitting in Opposition, and the Government would have been put out. I shall always feel, in ray support of the Government while Sir John Forrest is a member of it, that I shall have to get something for my support all the time; because my presence here is always discounted by the fact that Sir John Forrest is a member of the Ministry. Let me quote one of the many things that Sir John Forrest said. Speaking at Newcastle, Western Australia, he said -
They (the Western Australian Labour members) were merely nominees of the Labour unions; they worked through their secret caucus, and had no separate existence. They might bark as much as they liked, but they could not bite unless the majority did so. The result was that the platform of their leagues was predominant, being superior to the interests of the State.
Yet Sir John Forrest receives the support of this party, and allows it to keep him in office. If the caucus rules us - and I say that it does not - and we rule him, then he is being ruled by the labour caucus also. But nothing of the kind happens. As every honorable senator knows - of course I know it pays them to preach the other way on the hustings - outside the planks of our platform we have absolutely a free hand. As every honorable senator who has sat in this Chamber knows, we as frequently vote against one another as not; but_I notice that honorable senators opposite do not vote against one another whenever they want to defeat the Labour Party. We had a case to-day, although it was on an unimportant matter. Senator Gray knows very well that last year, when important questions came along that affected the policy of the Labour Party, the Ministry would go over and vote solidly with the Opposition against the Labour Party.
– That was when they had their wisdom cap on.
– That was when honorable senators saw that it was necessary to use their strength. Another of Sir John Forrest’s utterances, recorded in Hansard of 4th August, 1904, is as follows: -
The present management of Parliament -
That is the Ministry holding office by favour of the Labour Party -
The present management of Parliament is scandalous as well as being demoralizing to responsible government.
He said this also in Western Australia, and declared that he would never remain in this position if he had to be dominated again by the Labour Party. He was asked what he would do in case the Labour Party were successful in Western Australia, and his reply was, “ I never take a fence until I come to it.” I would suggest that Sir John Forrest has come to the fence, and we say to him that he should make his course perfectly clear. He should either retire from this Ministry or the Ministry should stand in the position where they justify what he has said about the Labour Party, and they also should retire.
– You have the power entirely in your own hands.
– The power, so far as I intend to use it, will be used in this way, as I have said before : I am going to support this Government while I get something from them. Senator Millen had better get on these benches, and if he can give me something towards the platform which I believe in, something tangible in the interests of Western Australia, I will support him.
– What is the good of abusing Sir John Forrest?
– Because I think he should not be there. He is a political turncoat, a traducer of his friends., and a man personally that I do not think is fit to associate with the honorable gentlemen who are his colleagues.
– No, no !
– The honorable senator feels a great deal of sympathy for Sir John Forrest, because that honorable gentleman was the most powerful worker in the interests of anti-Socialism in the whole of Australia during the last election. Senator Dobson, I think, suggested that we should have an adjournment, and not a prorogation. Perhaps my experience in politics has not been large, but if I am to understand that by having an adjournment we will not have a proper and fair go at the policy of this or anv other Government, then I am for aprorogation, in order that when the Governor-General comes down again we mav have, at all events, as much detail as possible as to the policy to be proposed by the Government for the future.
– I am not going to detain honorable senators long, and I am not going to discuss the policy or want of policy of the Government. But I should like to take this opportunity of saying a few words regarding the administration by the Government of the Electoral Department in the elections that have just takenpl ace. I wish the Minister of Home Affairs was here, because there are one or two questions to which I should like his attention. We could not say for the Government in the election that has just passed as we could previously that thev had not had sufficient experience. Two Drevious elections had been held, at which the electoral officers had had the opportunity of finding out the weak portions o’f the Electoral Act.
– They found them out and made them weaker.
– They presumably found them out, because they came before us with an amending Electoral Bill, which was drawn up by the officers in the Electoral Office, adopted by the Government, brought before the Houses, and passedinto law. We were told that it was absolutely necessary to pass the Bill in order to have an effective working of the Electoral Act. The Government have had practically five years to organize their staff. They have had the experience of two elections, and they have had every opportunity and generous treatment by both Houses in amending the Electoral law. Yet I venture to say that the election which has just passed, so far as administration is concerned, was the most wretchedlyconducted of all. It caused a larger proportion of voters to abstain from voting because of want of facilities, and it caused a larger number of informal votes than ever before. I see the Government have compiled a return, and I suppose they will parade the fact that they have been very economical over this election - that they have saved £10,000 as compared with the first election. The first election cost £56,331. That was in 1901. In 1903 the election cost £51,414. In 1906, with a larger number of voters, and with a referendum also to be taken, the total cost of the election throughout Australia was only £46,649.
– Underpaid officials.
– Yes. I say advisedly, as one keenly interested in the election from a personal point of view, that that result has been achieved at the cost of efficiency, by a cheese-paring and parsimonious policy which resulted in hundreds of electors throughout the Commonwealth, in every State from what I can hear, and in my own State from my own personal knowledge, being absolutely prevented from recording their votes.
– Thousands of them.
– I can say at least that hundreds of them who came to the polling-places prepared to vote were prevented from voting owing to the parsimonious treatment of the Ministerial head.
– What about the ones who had no polling-booths to go to?
– That is another aspect of the question, but where there were polling-places, hundreds of electors were prevented from voting.
– The same thing happened in my own State, but what was the cause of it?
– I will explain how they were unable to vote. Take the polling places in Perth as an example, and not a solitary example, because you can find dozens of other examples in the State of Western Australia alone. First of all they did not put sufficient officers in the polling places to cope with the number oF electors who came to the poll. They had only one officer in the main booths to deal with the form “ Q “ vote - the absent voters. The result was that when after 5 o’clock large numbers of people came from business places an’d from factories and workshops to record their votes there was a glut. There were more voters there than could be dealt with, and at 7 o’clock, when the time for closing the polling places came, there were crowded booths. Hundreds of people came to the door, saw the state of things inside, and knew they would have to wait some hours to record their votes. Consequently they would not stop, and went away in disgust. That was true of the large polling-places in Western Australia, and personal conversation with honorable members from other States points to the fact that the same thing obtained there.
– It took me two hours to record my vote.
– In Bunbury, which is not a large town - it has a population of some 4,000 or 5,000 people, and is well known as the birthplace of the honorable gentleman about whom we heard so much from the last speaker - from 7 o’clock, when the polling place was closed, it was some two hours before the final votes were recorded, because there was such a crowd waiting in the polling place. I was informed that it was absolutely impossible to wedge any more persons into that polling place, and they had practically to elbow people out to close the door. That was due not to the local administration at all, but to the foolish parsimony of the then Minister of Home Affairs - Mr. Littleton Groom. I know that repeated requests were made to that honorable gentleman from Western Australia for more generous treatment, and for more officers to be supplied. Representations were made to him to give better facilities, and in face of those representations he refused absolutely to give those facilities. I know that was the case in my own. State. Senator Croft pointed out that we go to great expense to give people the right to be upon the rolls, and yet after we have given them that right the policy of the Government, so far as the last election was concerned, was to put every obstacle in the way of their recording their votes when they were upon the rolls. During the last few months of last session, I received a number of requests from Western Australia for polling places in country districts, particularly in the Swan division. I am going to mention here a feature which is characteristic in America, but which I hope is not going to become characteristic of Australian politics. The Swan division is represented by the Federal Treasurer, and most of the requests that were made to me were for polling places in that division. I sent them on to the then Minister of Home Affairs in ample time for him to make the necessary inquiries and to grant the facilities if they were justified. In only one case was my request granted1 - in the division of Swan, which is represented by the Minister who presides over the Treasury. In the case of what is known as the timber concession some few miles from Collie, there are over 300 voters on the roll, anr! yet a polling place was refused. These people were working on polling day, and to get to a polling place they would have to go bv rail some 7 miles over a bush railway - a timber line, where there is no regular service.
– I assume that when the honorable senator’s communications reached the Home Affairs Office there was ample time for the necessary inquiries tobe made?
– Yes. In fact I was here in Melbourne before we dispersed.
– It makes the honor-* able senator’s case stronger.
– As a matter of fact, one of mv requests was granted. That was for a polling place where there were, I think, 30 or 40 votes recorded. In the case of the Collie timber concession, for which a polling place was refused, there were 300 or 400 voters.
– That makes it all the more remarkable.
– Yes. When I reached Western Australia and found that these requests had been refused, I was simply deluged with letters from different parts of the State - I dare say other honorable members for Western Australia had made similar requests and met with a similar fate - from people in country districts asking that certain people in those districts should be appointed to test the applications for postal votes and to witness the signatures. I know that the suspicion would occur to some persons’ minds thai the people who were requested to act would be the people associated with my party, and that I was asked to do this in the interests of my party. That is a natural suspicion to any man who takes a leading part in party politics, but I can assure honorable senators that many of the requests which I sent to the Electoral Department were not at all of that character. I will take the case of a timber mill as an instance in point. I asked that the manager of the mill, who is also part owner, should be appointed as an officer to test the signatures and the requests for postal votes. That gentleman is by no means a sympathizer with the Labour Party. If he is a partizan at all, and I do not know that he is, his sympathies would naturally be on the other side, for the simple reason that recently there has been a severe industrial
Conflict between the mill-owners and millemployes, and as a part mill-owner and mill manager, his sympathies would naturally be rather with the other side than with us. I have no knowledge whatever of that man’s political principles or ideas, but I know that he would have had the opportunity of testing and registering a large number of postal votes. The request for his appointment was refused, as were dozens of others. I know as a matter of fact that applications were made that police officers should be allowed to perform this duty in certain farming districts where it was absolutely impossible for the voters to come in to the poll. It was asked that a police officer should be allowed to ,go round each district to give out the forms, attest the guarantees, and collect the papers. In some cases that permission was granted, but in many cases it was only granted after a long correspondence between the Department of Home Affairs and the local authorities. In fact, every obstacle was placed in the way of electors exercising any form of voting at the recent elections in that State, especially in the Swan division. If it is proposed to carry out this policy, why should we waste money in getting people enrolled? Let us say to the people at once, “It is useless for you to get enrolled, because if you do we shall not give you an opportunity to vote.” If it is only proposed to give facilities for voting in populous centres, then let us say, “ In any place where you cannot muster over so many hundred votes, we shall not give you postal facilities.”
– Part of the honorable senator’s accusation is that even in populous centres such facilities are not given.
– I have pointed out that in populous centres polling places we’re provided, but that they were inadequate. Then take the management of the form “Q.” In a large polling place like the Boulder, in Kalgoorlie - it was. the same in Perth and Fremantle - only one officer was authorized to witness the signatures to the forms. When I went into one of these polling places to vote under the form “ Q “ I saw round an unfortunate officer a surging crowd, and it was getting well on towards evening. How he managed to perform his work at all in the circumstances I cannot understand, but I can imagine how it was that there was such a large number of informal votes. I can also believe that many hundreds of persons, whose time was limited, would not wait in order to record their votes. I understand that there has been a conference of the electoral officers for the States. I trust that the Minister of Home Affairs will endeavour to so arrange his office that at future elections we shall have not only economy but also efficiency. Economy at the price paid at the late election is false economy. We want, not to discourage, but to encourage, persons to go to vote. There is. a tendency amongst persons not to take that interest in these matters which they should, and nothing is more calculated to cause persons to lose interest in Federal politics, and not to trouble to record their votes, than the way in which they were treated at the last election. Furthermore, I can say confidently that as regards the management of elections the Commonwealth suffered very much by, comparison with Western Australia. Throughout that State - where I am sorry to say there has been an anti-Federal feeling crowing - that unfortunate comparison was made. The people said, “ Under the State we are given facilities for voting, but under the Commonwealth we are denied facilities.” In the suburb in. which I live - Subiaco - under the State management we ‘have three polling places, but under Federal management only one, although the suburb extends for a distance of seven miles. Honorable senators can easily imagine the distance which some persons had to go in order to vote. I hope that the Minister of Home Affairs will take to heart the lesson of the general elections, and try to lay down such plans as will insure in the future that not only shall we get people enrolled, but that when enrolled they will be enabled to vote.
– - I desire to congratulate the new Ministers upon holding their present- positions. I believe that the Senate is very pleased to see them where they are, provided that no honorable senators on this side can occupy the Treasury Bench. I think I express the regret of a great many in the Chamber when I say that we miss our old friend Mr. Playford. He was a man whom we all personally liked, and I for one desire to express my regret that he is not here now. I hope, however, that he will be long spared in good health and enjoy much happiness. I was very much struck with Senator Trenwith’s opening remarks. He said that the most important part of the Governor-General’s speech is contained in the eighth paragraph, which begins with the words, -
You will be called together again as soon as possible.
No doubt there is a certain amount of truth in that observation, but I take it that in a debate of this kind we are at liberty to discuss matters which mav have occurred during the recess., as well as the subjects mentioned in the speech. The last session was opened with a very long speech from the Governor-General, and this session is opened with a short speech. Perhaps it is all the better for being short, but still it deals with a good many subjects which call for comment from those who are not supporters of the Government. No one, it seems to me, can object to the Prime Minister going to the Imperial Conference; but as regards our representatives at the Navigation Conference, I cannot help thinking that the Government have paid a very lefthand compliment to this co-ordinate branch of the Legislature in not including amongst them at least one senator. I never doubted that at all events Senator Guthrie would have been asked to join the deputation. I think it is singular that in a Parliament consisting of two co-ordinate branches, the Senate is not represented, and the other House is, or rather was before Mr. Watson retired, represented by no fewer than four members. I hope that in future, whatever Government may be in power, the rights of the Senate will never be overlooked. The Prime Minister is, I presume, supposed to represent the views of Australia generally and of its
Parliament. I hope it will be distinctly made known to the public of Great Britain that he really represents the views of the Government party, which consists of seventeen in one House, and either three or four in the other. Giving them credit for four in the Senate, the Government party comprises only twenty-one members out of in. Therefore I trust that the Prime Minister will be very careful not to commit Australia in a manner which the Parliament will not confirm. I for one should be very glad to inspect the report of the Royal Commission on Papua. 1 shall have very strong sympathy with whomsoever may be its Administrator. He will have a most difficult task to perform in dealing with a population comprising 300,000 or 400,000 black natives and 400 or 500 white persons. Whoever he may be I think that he will be handicapped by the small amount of money at his disposal to promote settlement. I understand from travellers that men cannot ride in the Territory, but have to walk in most places. That means clearing away the scrub or forests in order to open up communication with the interior. I think that the time is not far distant when we shall have to recognise Papua as a Territory of Australia and establish a system of thorough free-trade between the two places. The local revenue from Customs duties is approximately £20,000, and the grant from the Commonwealth is £20,000. How can an enormous, undeveloped Terri.tory be prospected and opened up effectually with a revenue of only £40,000? We must recognise that we ought to treat Papua as an integral part of the Commonwealth. I learn from a telegram in the newspapers of this morning that an ex-senator is reported to have a chance of being appointed its Administrator. Whether he be appointed or not I believe that he will do his level best when he goes in any capacity to the Territory. He is a conscientious man, but whether he has all the qualifications for the position of Administrator I take tine liberty to doubt. I consider that the Administrator should be a man who has gained experience in a tropical country, such as the west coast of Africa, where he had to come in contact with a large number of black natives, and at the same time to control Europeans. That is not a knowledge which can be picked up in a day. It can only be acquired, I imagine, by years of residence in somewhat similar climate and under like circumstances.
I credit the Government with every intention to promote immigration, and in this respect I cannot understand the delay which has taken place in appointing a High Commissioner. I do not think that we, as a Federation, will be properly represented in Great Britain until we have our own High Commissioner who can take a stand somewhat similar to that which Lord Strathcona takes in regard to Canada.
– Is not Captain Collins sufficient?
– I have not anything to say against Captain Collins, but I /do not think that a mere Government official is exactly an equivalent for a High Commissioner. The latter should be a man who can act in a public capacity like Lord Strathcona has done for Canada. We connot expect to have many nien like Lord Strathcona, because he is enormously wealthy, nor do I think that it is altogether desirable that our High Commissioners should be very wealthy. In the Governor-General’s speech there is no allusion to the question of the Federal Capital. The State I have the honour, to represent looks upon the establishment of the Federal Capital as an integral part of the Constitution, amd until it is established probably we shall be found sitting in opposition to any Government. My own impression is that the Labour Party, who hitherto have been very strongly in favour of Dalgety, would not object to Canberra as a compromise. It is more accessible than Dalgety. It is practically the same distance from, the sea-coast, and a port can be got either at Jervis Bay or Bateman’s Bay. I am assured that those who visited Canberra were very favorably impressed. The leader of the Labour Party in the other House, I understand, strongly favours Canberra now as a compromise between Dalgety and Lyndhurst.
– He never favoured Dalgety.
– He was a sensible man in that regard. I am verv surprised that the Government have not brought in a Bill to take over the quarantine department. Surely that is a matter of Federal importance, considering the enormous extent of our sea-board, about 8,000 miles. With regard to the representation of the Government it is true that we have two Ministers of the Crown here, but there is no compliance with our resolution. Last session, and I believe previously, we resolved that the Senate would not receive fair play until the Government was represented by two Ministers with portfolios so that a fair number of measures could be initiated here, and we should not then have Bill after Bill brought in during the last week, as we had last session, and senators put to the unpleasant necessity of kicking them out ignominiously. For that act we have been blamed by some good persons. The Australian correspondent of the Times seems to think that we behaved like a lot of children, because during the last week or two of that session we did not pass measures which for months previously had been lying upon the table. Bill after Bill, introduced at a comparatively early part of the session, was left unnoticed until the last few weeks. I have great hopes that, at all events, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who is cognisant of the facts, will show a different state of affairs even during this short session, and also in the next and longer session. As to the Tariff Commission, I, of course, admit that there is a good deal to be said from the point of view of the Government, for postponing the consideration by Parliament of its reports. I may say, however, that when I came to Melbourne I was in hopes that the Government would deal with at least a portion of the reports of the Tariff Commission, and not ask honorable senators, some of them, to travel 2,000 or 3,000 miles, kick their heels for a few days in Melbourne, and then return to their homes. I can well imagine that some of my friends from the North of Queensland will feel that they have been brought almost on a fool’s errand at the present time, when they are asked to return to their parliamentary duties a few months hence, so as to allow three or four gentlemen in the meantime to take what is something like a pleasure trip to the old country. In regard to the representatives sent home, T am in hopes that Sir William Lyne, as I said to him yesterday, will derive a good deal of information. That gentleman seemed to think when I saw him that there was very little to be learned by going to Great Britain - in fact his opinion seemed to be that Australia could teach Great Britain not a few things. I suppose that Sir William Lyne is going to be a sort of travelling encyclopedia and give information to all and sundry. Prior to his departure, I took the liberty, in a chaffing way, of expressing the hope that he would return to Australia a confirmed free-trader, after observing the advantages of the great free-trade policy in the mother country. In regard to the Northern Territory, the Government deserve great credit for the steps which have been taken. I have for years advocated in this Chamber that there should, if possible, be Federal control of this enormous territory. South Australia, in my opinion, deserves very great credit for having for so many years carried on the administration of that part of Australia at an annual loss; and I shall be one to endeavour to see that that State gets full justice when the terms of settlement are under consideration. It is scarcely fair to refer to Norfolk Island matters in this short session, but I may assure the Government that the Senate will be with them if it can be arranged to bring the Island under Federal administration. At present, the affairs of the island are controlled bv New South Wales; and, therefore, in my opinion, we ought to lose no time in adding the Possession to Federal territory. I am rather surprised that, with Sir John Forrest in the Government, the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill has not been re-introduced. I cannot understand how it is that Senator Pearce, representing as he does Western Australia, made no allusion to this railway project in his speech, or why he passed without adverse comment the omission of any reference to it in the GovernorGeneral’s speech. I have a distinct recollection of an eloquent address from that honorable senator in the small hours of the morning a few years ago; and I cannot understand how it is that he has not on the present occasion drawn attention to the fact that this - shall I call it a national work? - is not in the programme of the Government. There is no doubt that had Senator Matheson been present last session, that Bill would have been carried ; and, therefore, it is not fair only to accuse the representatives of other States of un-Federal feeling in not supporting the Bill.
– The Bill will be carried the next time.
– Why should it not have been introduced at once, so that the survey might have been proceeded with during the next four months? I hope we are not going to have any more Royal Commissions for some time to come, because the expenditure in this direction during the last few, years has been outrageous. One Government after another seemed to evade the responsibilities of office by appointing Royal Commissions ; but, in my opinion, members of a Ministry ought to have the courage tointroduce measures on knowledge acquired1 and to stick to them.
– The Reid Government was responsible.
– I do not except the Reid-McLean Government, or any other Government, because, like Senator Stewart, I believe in hitting out when it is necessary.
– Does the honorable senator not believe that there are times whenRoyal Commissions are necessary?
– No doubt now and again ; at any rate, Senator Gray did good, work on the Commission of which he was a member, though he was in a minority in hisrecommendations. We have heard it stated to-day that the great question at the recent election was fiscalism. That may have been so in the comparatively small State of Victoria, but it certainly was not in the giant States of New South Wales and Queensland. In these latter States the question, was Socialism versus anti-Socialism; and I believe that in the present Senate of thirtysix members, not excepting the VicePresident of the Executive Council, there are nineteen anti- Socialists. But when the fiscal question is out of the way we shall, I trust, see a change. At one time we used to hear a great deal from our labour friends about a graduated land tax, though we do not hear anything about that question now. Such a proposal would never pass in this Chamber; we are not going to rob people. Land taxation at the present time is purely a State matter, and we have no right to unnecessarily infringe on States rights.
– Where does the honorable senator find that in the Constitution?
– There is such a thing as the spirit of the Constitution, as well as the letter - the .letter killeth, but the spirit maketh alive. The repatriation of the kanakas is going on somewhat better than I thought it would. It is a melancholy fact, however, judging from’ the newspapers which I read, that kanaka women who do not go back to their own island, or who were born in Australia, are looked upon as pariahs in the New Hebrides, and are treated as the offscourings of their own society. I hope, therefore, that the Act will continue to be administered in a broad, liberal spirit, so that no native of Queensland, because he or she happens to be the child of kanakas, may be sent to the islands. I leave it to mv Queensland friends, who are much better acquainted with the subject than I am, to enlarge on this aspect of the question. I have been waiting patiently to hear some representatives of the northern State, amongst whom, I believe, there are two, if not three, eloquent nien ; and I may say that we shall be delighted to hear some of the new members give us a specimen of their quality. Senator Stewart, who is a most eloquent man himself, is, I am sure, glad to think that though some of those new senators may not be able to see eye to eye with him, they are men for whom he has a high regard as fellow senators. As to old-age pensions, I say now, as I said before, that to bring the question within practical politics, the States themselves ought to appoint a joint commission to administer old-age pensions on a proper -per capita basis. In my opinion, it is unfair that a man, who may not have dwelt twentyfive years continuously in any one State, and yet may have been forty years in Australia, is not able under present circumstances to obtain a pension. Under such a joint commission as I have suggested, any person who had reached the required age, and who had resided for so many years in Australia would be entitled to participate. I am with Senator Trenwith and others in regretting that we did not pass the Bill for the amendment of the Constitution last year to allow the Commonwealth to take over all the debts of the States after approval by referendum. I voted for that measure, and it has been insinuated that I am not a good party man because I do not always vote against the Government. When I! first came to this Chamber, I said that I would vote for all measures on their merits by whomsoever introduced ; and I have acted on that principle from start to finish. If I think a Bill to be a good Bill, I never allow mere party considerations to prevent my supporting it. As I have said before, I say again, that when we come to have a consolidation of the debts, I believe we shall save £700,000 or £800,000 a year, which would give something towards providing Federal old-age pensions. But without some such consolidation, I see no chance of a saving excepting by a large increase of population. If we could make the population 6,000,000 instead of 4,000,000, we -should, have a much larger income, and the proportion of expenses of government would not be so great as in a smaller population. As to the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, I have all through been an advocate of the necessity for some years of maintaining the bookkeeping system. When we first entered into Federation, the revenue of Western Australia was £7 per head, while that of Queensland was £4 or £5, though in New South Wales it was not quite so much. Had we had the per capita division of income that some of our Tasmanian friends were so anxious to have, it would have meant that a State with a return of 25s. or 30s. per head would go shares with a State contributing £7 per head. That seems to me improper and unfair; and, whether I be regarded as enlightened or unenlightened, I maintain that when we come to divide the income of the whole country there ought to be some proportion between the receipts and expenditure of the States. Let us do what is fair between man and man. His Excellency’s speech refers to the development of the latent resources of the Commonwealth, and, in my opinion, the best means of development is a fine stream of European immigrants who, if they can bring a little capital, will be so much the more welcome. There is also a reference to promoting the trade relations of the Empire; and this reminds me of the absurd socalled preference measure of last session, which showed that we were not prepared to give anything out of our own pockets. I am quite aware that the fiscal issue is being sunk, and, therefore, I shall not trouble) honorable senators with my views in that connexion. I may say, however, that I have not ceased to be a freetrader, and I shall probably be a freetrader when I go underground. We have heard a great deal about defence, and in this connexion Senator Cameron spoke eloquently. I am one of those benighted individuals who would like to see cadets efficiently drilled; but whatever we do we must not in any way show that we distrust the dear old mother country. The Royal Navy is our first line of defence, and will be so for many a long day. It does not follow, however, that we should not encourage the building of a few local vessels, such as torpedo boats, &c. ; but it is very expensive to construct men-of-war, which in five or six years, not infrequently, become obsolete. If we begin to make a navy we must count the cost, and, with a population so small as ours, it must be many years before we can afford to provide battleships.
– I rise with a great deal of diffidence to speak on the questions placed before us for consideration in the Governor-General’s speech. I feel - and I think the feeling is more or less common throughout the Chamber - pretty much like a patient when he knows that chloroform is about to be administered. The Chamber and the Ministry seem to be acquiescent in this process of chloroforming; and it is not for me to dictate as to what course ought to be pursued. All I can do at this juncture is to say that I Leg to protest; and I agree with Senator Walker’s expressions of disappointment. Some information might have been sent to us concerning the probable course of events so that we might have been able to attend to other business, rather than come down to be present at what is merely a chloroforming of Parliament. I do not intend to criticise in detail various portions of the speeches which have been made. It would perhaps be bacl policy to anticipate the substance of some speeches which, when we are called together again, will probably have to be made. But from the opening remarks of Senator Trenwith I was very much struck with the necessity of a contribution to the debate from the point of view of other States than his. It also occurred to me in following his remarks closely that sometimes the speeches of Victorian senators, and members of the House of Representatives also, rather indicate that they think that their whole vision should be fixed upon the Yarra, and that it ought not to extend beyond the bounds of the River Murray. I think Senator Trenwith said that Australia had pronounced a distinct verdict on a particular issue ; and if I understood him aright, he indicated that that issue was protection, in the sense that it was entirely theduty of this Parliament to proceed at once to carry out the verdict of Australia in the direction of increasing protective duties. I wondered at the time, and beg to express my wonder now, whether Senator Trenwith had heard of the contest which took place in the State of Queensland. As far as I know anything with regard to that contest - and I was an active participator in it and helped to fight out the issues fairly and clearly - I can say that if there was any place in Australia where the fiscal issue was sunk it was Queensland.
– I was talking of Australia.
– I may be misstating - perhaps through misunderstanding - the tendency of the honorable senator’s remarks. If so, I hope that he will excuse me. I wish to state what I took to be the general effect of what he said regarding the issues at the last election in Australia. May I be permitted to say also that I regard the Constitution of Australia as establishing in a sense a body like a jury composed of six persons; and one of those is the State of Queensland. I hope the Senate will pardon me if I say with respect to Queensland that, in view of its possibilities, it is likely to be in some respects one of the greatest States of Australia. When that State spoke pretty distinctly on a clear and distinct issue, I think that it was the duty of Senator Trenwith, when referring to the verdict of Australia, to be accurate either in his memory or his knowledge of what the particular issues settled in one important State were. If the veydict of Australia is that this Parliament shall apply itself to support, to develop, and to give full assistance to the industries of Australia, why is it that the present Government has hung up the Tariff question? Why does the Government keep it back? Whether we cannot debate that question until we have all the reports of the Tariff Commission before us is one matter; whether we cannot debate it when we have some of the reports before us is another. But if it is an all-important question, and if the verdict of Australia at the last election was that this Parliament should immediately proceed to take whatever measures it thought advisable for the further protection of industries which, if my memory serves me correctly, the Prime Minister described some time ago as being in imminent danger of strangulation, why is it that at this juncture we have not received any information with reference to what is to be proposed in regard to the Tariff. It also occurred to me, while the remarks to which I have referred were being made from the other side of the chamber, that I have seen the strong expression used that the Prime Minister and the present Government depend upon, live, move, and have their being in submission to, the will of what is called the “ Labour Party.” I wish to use the terra that the members of that party themselves are fond of using; and that reminds me that in Queensland we did not use the term “Labour Party” at all. We used from the platform another term - a term which, when it is used, it is very hard to tell whether the persons to whom it applies like it or not. We did not call them the Labour Party; we called them the Socialist Party.
– Hear, hear.
– I am glad to get a “ hear, hear,” from the other side, because it helps definitely to clear the issue. When sometimes we were taunted during our campaign with what we meant by Socialism, I, at an,v rate, made the position very clear by quoting the declaration of the leader of the Labour Party as to what was his general and particular objective. There can be no mistake about it now, and I shall continue to use the term, if I may be permitted to do so in this Chamber, by calling the gentlemen to whom I refer members of the Socialist Party. I said in Queensland, during the campaign, that the Labour Party had gone - that it had disappeared, that it had either been nobbled by the Socialists, or that it had taken the Socialists to its bosom. This leads to what I should like to accentuate, and it is this: When the leader of the Socialist Party - he called himself a Socialist - came to Queensland during the campaign - and he did so twice - he said that he was a Socialist ; whereupon many of his followers proclaimed themselves straight-out Socialists, and declared that they were delighted to be found upon the platform doing what they could to propound socialistic doctrines.
– It was only down down south that thev toned them down.
– I dare say, but I am not concerned now with how they toned their doctrines down. We took particular care in Queensland to narrow the campaign to a particular issue. When the leader of the Socialist Party began his campaign - again, if mv memory serves me correctly ; I have not the manifesto here - it was distinctly laid down, I think, that the fiscal issue could never be regarded as settled until it was submitted by a. referendum to the verdict of the electors of Australia. More than that, I think that he also, in his manifesto, said that he would extend the question of the Tariff in the referendum to the consideration also of hours of labour and conditions regarding the protection of labour. He made it quite clear that, as far as he could, he would first take the Tariff question and deal with it by a referendum of the electors of Australia, and that, in that referendum, he would call upon the electors of Australia to decide whether thev would not also limit the hours and conditions of labour, and deal with the question of pay. In the clearest manner possible, as far as I can understand it, he laid it down that the fiscal issue had not been considered by the people of Australia - that it had not been properly put before them. I could not help thinking of that while Senator Trenwith was speaking about the duty of extending protective duties, and I could not understand why it was that Senator Trenwith forgot that point.
– It does not seem to touch the issue. My position is that the people have returned a large majority of protectionists
– Then, Mr. President, all that I can say is that I am sorry that I misunderstood the position that Senator Trenwith took up with regard to the verdict of Australia. It seems to me that the remarks that I have made have a direct or an indirect bearing upon the verdict of the people, and, for what they are worth, I beg to present them to the Senate, and especially to the consideration of our Socialist friends opposite. A very important question has been raised by Senator Pearce, and the conditions in Western Australia being very similar to those in Queensland, I was delighted to hear his criticisms with regard to the conduct of the last election and the administration of the electoral machinery. I am sorry that the Attorney-General, who is a brilliant Queenslander, and a man who ought to know what is required in Queensland, should have been the responsible Minister in this case. I agree with every word that Senator Pearce said. He has not in the slightest degree exaggerated. So far from his having, overdrawn the picture with regard to the difficulty of electors getting on the rolls and recording their votes, I can indorse everything he said. I hope that, during the recess, measures will be taken by the Government to consider a remedy for that kind of thing. Senator Pearce spoke strongly, but no one has suggested a remedy. I believe that a conference of electoral officers, who are intrusted with the administration of affairs, has been called. I think it would be well if, during the recess, the Government would appoint a Committee - not a Royal Commission in the ordinary sense - composed of members of both Houses of the Legislature, to go thoroughly into the question, and to discover how the mistakes arose, with the view of bringing down information to Parliament, in the light of which the difficulties referred to might be avoided in the future. I hope that, in the course of the criticisms which may be offered regarding the conduct of the election, the party represented by honorable senators opposite lilli cease from continued imputations - at least outside this chamber - that we, whether we are candidates outside, or speaking from our seats here, do not desire to get the voice of every adult - male and female - in our respective States, in order to decide who shall be their representatives. I was very pleased to hear from Senator Pearce’s remarks that he was doing his best to assist the electors in Western Austraia, and that he was calling for assistance from a gentleman whom he might reasonably expect to be his opponent. The honorable senator mentioned a fiasco that took place at some place in the Swan electorate, and from his arguments one might be tempted to the conclusion that he insinuated that a prominent member of the Ministry, who is receiving the heartiest abuse of those who support him, had designedly arranged what took place. That may or may not be true, but to me, as a new member - I hope I am not hypersensitive - it does not seem quite in accordance with the fitness of things that persons who support a Minister should abuse him. It mav be that closer contact with parliamentary tactics and strategy will dull one’s sense of the fitness of things. I do not know that I have ever enjoyed a political attack more than I did that of Senator Croft on a Minister whom his party help to keep in office. It was quite a pleasant break in the somewhat dull monotony of this debate.
– There are spots even, on the sun.
– I dare say there are. I leave honorable senators to determine whether Senator Trenwith means that Senator Croft or the Minister is the spot on the sun. Even if one searched through one’s vocabulary for terms of abuse - perhaps that is rather a harsh word, and I will say terms of objection or invective - to surpass those directed by Senator Croft towards Sir John Forrest, it would be very hard to find them. I am delighted to learn that even the Socialist Party on the other side of this Chamber have a profound distrust of and dislike for that Minister, who could not hold office one hour if they chose to give effect to their feelings towards him. I hope I may be pardoned for saying so, but I am inclined to think that the same feeling exists in that quarter towards other Ministers, only possibly it may not be wise or prudent to extend the attack any further. It is somewhat difficult, especially for a new member, to find out the real reasons of some parliamentary movements, but it seems to me that part of the objective behind this dose of chloroform which we are now to take, is this : Just as in certain chemical operations you must take great care to prevent two or more molecules from coming together for fear of an explosion, so it has been deemed advisable to arrange for this adjournment and the retirement of one or more Ministers to a distance of over IO,000 miles, where they may engage in the deliberations of some very important conferences, because their presence here in politics might otherwise have an effect similar to that which would take place in the instance I have mentioned in chemistry. I wish to revert to Senator Trenwith’ s remarks regarding a paragraph in the Governor-General’s speech which, whether intentionally or otherwise, although it must have been absolutely unintentional, is a sort of belittlement of the position of the States. With all respect, I beg to draw the attention of the Prime Minister, or whatever Ministers were responsible for drawing up the document, to the following paragraph in His Excellency’s speech: -
A third Conference of Prime Ministers of the self-governing portions of the Empire has been summoned to assemble in London in April next.
It may be hyper-criticism< to draw attention to those lines, because I take it that there is not the slightest desire on the part of the Ministry to belittle the importance of the State Premiers. I believe it is thoroughly understood by the Ministry, as well as it is by the State Premiers, that under the terms of the Constitution the States are sovereign powers within the ambit of their jurisdiction. Within that ambit they are as sovereign and independent powers as the Government represented by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth is within the ambit of the Federal Constitution. It is therefore not strictly correct to state that a Conference of Prime Ministers of the selfgoverning portions of the Empire has been called together, because the Prime Ministers of the respective States have not been called to the Conference. There may be ample reasons why they were not called.
– They are not called Prime Ministers, and therefore the term does not apply to them.
– Perhaps the honorable senator’s retort is to some extent well called for, because I may be uttering hyper-criticism of what I think is a flaw in the text. I draw attention to the matter, however, because it is notorious throughout the whole of Australia that considerable irritation, or even a worse feeling, exists between the Premiers of the States and the Commonwealth Government. As a senator, I am bound within the terms of the Constitution to represent to a large extent the feeling which exists as to the jurisdiction of the States. I am tempted to do so now because on one occasion a clear usurpation of the powers of the States was made by the Commonwealth, and the High Court had to put its hand down on the Commonwealth Government. I may be pardoned for pointing this out as an individual case for what it may be worth. It is quite probable that much of the legislation which has been passed, and some which is contemplated, will be found to be as distinct a violation of the Constitution as that case. If the Federal Government is to achieve all the good which we hoped it would achieve, which it was intended to achieve, and which with wise and cautious legislation it can achieve, that end can only be attained by soliciting in every fair, reasonable, and constitutional manner, the heartiest co-operation of the State Administrations - of the State Premiers themselves - and by seeking to secure to the fullest extent the confidence, respect, and esteem of the State electors. I am somewhat at a loss to understand why the Imperial Government did not recognise the fact that over a very wide area and in a very useful sphere of legislation the States are sovereign. If the Imperial Government did not choose to recognise that fact, I wonder how it was that they did not see that under the terms of the Federal Constitution the Stales have full power and jurisdiction over their own lands, and that that is the central point of what I consider, with all respect to Senator Trenwith, the important issue for Australia - the bringing in to this vast continent of numbers of European and other white people, in order to carry out fully and practically that policy which we on this side of the Chamber have deeply at heart. That is a policy which in the strongest and most unmistakable terms I expressed to the electors throughout the whole State of Queensland - a policy to make this continent white from end to end, and to make a White Australia not merely a text upon the lips but a conviction deep down in the heart. I find when I come to criticise the deliverances of the socialistic members on the other side of this Chamber, that for six years during which the Federation has lasted they ‘ have been howling out for a White Australia. From the time I put my foot forward to seek a responsible position in public life, I asserted as strongly as ever I could that the supreme need of Australia is a vigorous system of copious white immigration, preferably from our own lands, or from judiciously selected European countries. I ask that party which’ has carried the banner of a White Australia for the last six or seven years, “ What have they done to make Australia white? “ We speak about the security and the defence of this outlying portion of the Empire, but one has to look but a short while at the map, one’s knowledge of geography need be but very limited, and one’s sense of historical imagination has to be comparatively elementary for one to realize the great danger looming on the horizon - a danger which Australia will have to face sooner or later and fight out for itself. I ask those Socialists who have been living on the gospel of a White Australia, who have been carrying that banner for the last seven years, to consider what they are going to do, and to tell this Chamber what they have done in order to make Australia white.
– Make the land available for one thing.
– Where will you settle the immigrants when you bring them here?
– I know where a number of you people have settled them - under the ground, not on it.
– How many people have been settled under the ground in the State represented by Senator Findley? Because some settlers have been settled under the ground is that an argument why we should not bring in more white people? Senator Stewart asks me where we will put them. During the campaign I traversed Queensland from end to end - from the Gulf to Southport, right down the coast and along the western line - and when the honorable senator asks me such a question, I beg leave to answer it in the usual Hibernian fashion by asking him another. Where was he all the time?
– I have been fighting the anti-Socialists all the time - the people who create land monopoly.
– Then the honorable senator allowed somebody amongst the anti-Socialists to put on him glasses which were absolutely opaque, and that is his own foolishness. I do not wish to speak at much greater length now, because it is evident that after the prorogation many of the subjects which we have touched upon will be dealt with in a direct form, and I do not wish to anticipate or lessen the force of any remarks which I may wish to make then upon questions to which I have given some consideration, and upon which, with the kindness of the Senate, I intend to speak very strongly and directly. [Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.].
– The question of a White Australia, and the question of immigration are, I think, pf sufficient importance to the Imperial authorities to make them see the necessity for the attendance of the State Premiers or some responsible representatives of the States at the Imperial Conference, for the purpose, at anv rate. of consultation or deliberation. I think it will be impossible for even the Prime Minister of Australia or his associates or for the two of them together, to give sufficiently accurate and definite information, with a view to the action which we on this side of the Chamber would like to see taken on the future policy towards making a White Australia. The question of establishing a white population here is of equal importance to the Imperial’ Government as it is to us. The burden of Empire on the Old Country is very great. It is our duty, as well as perhaps our advantage, to relieve that pressure as far as our resources will permit us. To my mind, the best and most effective way in which it can be done is for the Imperial Government, the States Governments, and the Commonwealth Government to unite, and devote their energy to promoting a stream of British immigration to this land.
– At whose cost?
SenatorST. LEDGER. - At our cost, if necessary - at all costs, if necessary. I hope that when the Prime Minister goes Home he will press that view, not only from the Australian, but also from the Imperial, stand-point. There is, I believe, correspondence tabled which indicates to some extent the initial attitude of the Prime Minister on this important question. In my addresses from the platform, I pointed out to the electors generally the vital necessity of bringing into that vast State the people of our own kith and kin, and if those are not sufficient for the purpose we might judiciously select hardy, industrious, and sober citizens of some European nationalities. I believe the correspondence reveals the fact that the Prime Minister to some extent is in accord with us. I hope that in the Imperial Conference he will to the utmost of his ability give effect to that policy or support its continuation. It is quite true, I think, that the Socialists in the Chamber are particularly uneasy with regard to the question. I am speaking entirely on my own responsibility as a senator for Queensland. I believe it is my duty to reproduce the substance of the speeches which I addressed to the electors, and try to give practical effect here to the policy which I put forth on the platform in, I think, clear and unmistakable terms. I desire to know what attitude the Socialists are going to take. Not only are we expected to take our chloroform as soon as it is administered to us, but it would seem that there is. almost a conspiracy of silence - or, at any rate, a great reluctance on the part of some honorable senators to touch these important questions.
– The honorable senator seems to be chloroformed.
– No, I have not yet taken the chloroform.
– The honorable senator will be put upon the operating table di rectly.
-I feel quite confident that after the political doctors are done with us we shall return to the Chamber with renewed vigour and strength. What attitude, I repeat, are the Socialist members of the Senate going to take up with regard to the introduction of white immigrants? Do they intend to refuse to support the Prime Minister, Or to block him in any efforts which he may make to bring in European population, until the Ministry can establish a negative? Are they going to say that no white immigrants are to come to Australia until the Ministry are able to establish here with methematical accuracy the fact that there is not one white man unemployed? It is very important to know what direct interpretation the Socialists intend to give to that provision in the Immigration Restriction Act. I hope that before the chloroform is administered to the rest of us, they will give a clear indication of their attitude on that point.
– It was made absolutely clear in the legislation of last session.
– I am not one of those who always keep their eyes and their minds on the past. “ Let the dead past bury its dead “ is a useful maxim in politics as well as in other things. Notwithstanding the interjection made from the other* side, I feel quite confident that I shall be able to justify all my actions. I dare say that an attack will be made upon me, and I think that it will not find me unprepared. I would remind my opponents that it will be absolutely necessary for them to be scrupulously careful in the presentation of their facts. In his speech, Senator Cameron dwelt upon a very important question. There is no doubt that the defence of Australia is a vital question, especially in a certain possible and imminent conjunction of affairs in the East, and perhaps in European centres. I do not quite agree with him that the sources of danger are where he indicated; but I cordially indorse most of his remarks. I think it is time that the people of Australia gave an indication of practical sympathy with this great movement. But the crux of the question is where is the money to come from? I hope that the Minister of Defence will submit a scheme for the improvement of our defences which will so commend itself that the people will willingly bear the sacrifice which may be required of them. I ask Ministers to carefully consider the importance of beginning at a comparatively early age a system of military instruction and discipline’ with the boys in the primary and secondary schools. Compulsory service on the part of male adults is a very important and might become a very vexed question. But I quite agree with Senator Dobson as to the importance of beginning the instruction of cadets at a very early age. I believe that it would be wise on the part of Parliament to make liberal provision for the extension and perfection of the system. I do not speak from the stand-point of militarism. It is not militarism to teach the citizens that they ought to be in a position to defend their State against aggression. Ours should be a policy of defence, not defiance. I do not suppose that there is any party in this Parliament which would ever adopt an aggressive attitude. It is not militarism, I repeat, to ask the citizens to begin to prepare for their own defence. A certain amount of military training is of incalculable advantage to the young, physically and mentally, from the disciplinarian point of view. It can do no harm, and certainly it will do a great deal of good, to train the lads in the primary and secondary schools. There is a historical story told of the system of education in vogue with the Medes and Persians. One of their lawgivers said, “ Our whole system of education is directed towards teaching the youth to ride well, to shoot well, and to tell the truth well and all the time.” That is not a bad system of education. I hope that the Education Departments of the States will cordially co-operate with the Commonwealth in that regard. The question of preferential trade, I take it, is bound to come up at the Imperial Conference. I do not intend to deal with that very vexed question, but, using my privilege as an Hibernian, I beg to ask the high tariffists what they have to offer to the mother country. I hope I am not exceeding the indulgence of the Chamber when I say I feel that on this important question of preference the Prime Minister is not going Home as the representative of the Commonwealth, but as a delegation from the State of Victoria. In any case, it ought to be the duty of the Ministry and of honorable senators on the other side to tell us what it is they have to offer to the mother country in a preferential policy, and to make clear how that policy is going to apply to the mother country and to Australia. Ever since this question has been spoken of in the Commonwealth we have had nothing but mystification and confusion. I quite agree with Senator Walker when he points out that it is almost a hypocritical grace we are presenting, to talk of building a prohibitory Tariff against the world as well as against the mother country, then to speak of leaving a little gap here and there, and call it preferential trade. That is not what I believe Australia desires, nor what the authorities in the mother country would entertain for a moment. I omit any reference to the States debts or the taking over of the Northern Territory. The latter question will present some grave constitutional questions; which will require the closest and keenest scrutiny on the part of both Chambers. We have been talking about the States debts for a number of years, and I hope that we shall go on talking about them for some years to come. I confess, though it may Le my defective intelligence, that I have yet seen no scheme, nor read of any scheme, which I think offers a satisfactory solution of the difficulties of the States themselves, and of the difficulties of the Commonwealth Parliament, in taking over the debts. It may be that we shall find a solution, but this is a question which, whether it is attacked either in the old country from the point of view of the bondholders, or here from our point of view as a Commonwealth taking over the liabilities of the States, will require the highest financial intelligence, not only of the Chambers themselves, but of Australia, to settle it satisfactorily. I now congratulate you, sir, on your elevation to your present position. Though, of course, it is my duty - because that is what I take it the electors sent me here for - to oppose the Prime Minister politically with all the force and effect I can, I now, notwithstanding those differences of political opinion, in view of the fact that he is determined to take the voyage to England, and do the best he can for Australia, from every point of view that may be presented, wish him, bon voyage, and hope that he will return to us with perhaps a wider vision and with something, if I may be permitted to say so, more of steel, in his political fibre, which will be required when he comes to consider the questions which will be presented to him at the Imperial Conference. I thank honorable senators for the courtesy and kindness with which they have listened to me, and I hope I have not detained them too long.
.- I- had not intended to address the Chambertonight,, imagining that the debate would not close until next week. I thought that, at any rate, we were entitled to some reply from the Government to the variousinquiries that have been made, if not to the various criticisms that have been bestowed on the Government and on the Address. But, of course, it is sometimes well and prudent for a Government, when they know that they can carry their point, to say aslittle as possible. There is really not much to be said about this attenuated production that is given to us in the shape of a speech. It gives us no policy ; it givesus no light or leading on any of the great questions of the day. I suppose, as Senator Trenwith told us yesterday, it would never have seen the light had it not been’, that the Constitution required that Parliament should meet ; and, therefore, a speech of some kind or other had to be presented. Of course, we could not expect very much of a speech from the Government in its present position, which is certainly a very peculiar one in politics. There is no doubt, as Senator Trenwith said, that the position of the Government is a tenable and constitutional one. There is no getting away from the fact that the Government are constitutionally in office ; they have set a orogramme before the country, and I mav say that, so far as I can see, a majority has been returned to support that programme, although the Government have not got ai great many supporters. Therefore I say that the position of the Government is tenable, and also constitutional ; but I do not know that it is a position that a highminded politician would care to occupy.
– Not if it is constitutional ?
– Not even if it is constitutional. The Government are there until they are put out : but, at the same time, my recollection cf the politics of some years ago - of Service, Gillies and Sir Henry Parkes - leads me to the opinion that those I have mentioned would not have retained office under such circumstances.
– They would have “eaten dirt” just the same.
– I do not think so. It seems to rae somewhat unkind and ungracious of the members of the Labour Party, who are supporting the Government, to cavil and gird at the Government as they are doing. I think the members of that party might be content to serve the Government quietly and faithfully, and when they quarrel, to quarrel outright. I was somewhat disappointed by the speech of Senator Croft, when he referred to Sir John Forrest. That right honorable gentleman has done a great deal for Australia, and I do not think that the epithets bestowed upon him this afternoon are at all deserved or worthy of the Chamber, or of the honorable senator who uttered them. We have had an indication from Senator Croft, and I think one other honorable senator, cif the attitude) of the? Labour Party, namely, that it is “ out for all it can make.”
– So is every other party.
– I do not know, and I do not think, that that is so. There are some members of Parliament and some parties who are “ out “ to do the best they can for Australia, and not for what they can make for the special section of the country which happens to send them to Parliament.
– The Labour Party is the biggest section of the Commonwealth.
– The biggest section of the Commonwealth is not represented by the Labour Party, either in this House or the other.
– Tt is only a matter of a short time when it will be.
– It will be time enough for honorable senators to say that the Labour Party represents the biggest section of the Commonwealth when such is the fact. We have yet to see that day, and perhaps some of the prophets may not be here to see it, if present auguries can be relied on. I have no particular ill-will against the Labour Party, because with many of their ideals I find myself in accord; though with their methods and practice I entirely disagree. When I can help the Labour Party I intend to do so; but, when necessary, I shall oppose them straightforwardly as I did at the election. If it be said that the Labour Party represents the majority of the voters, I may, perhaps, with humility, point to the enormous number of votes I myself received as a strong anti-Socialist candidate,, in order to show that that party does not represent the majority of voters in Victoria.
– That vote was not an anti-Socialist vote, but an Age and Argus vote.
– I trust that this Senate will not become a mere Chamber to register caucus decisions.
– Nor Age nor Argus decisions.
– Certainly not. This Chamber ought to register the will of the country, and carry it out as far as possible. I may be permitted to call the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to what was, I think, a little slip he made yesterday. When proposing Senator Gould as President, the VicePresident of the Executive Council said that a meeting had been held, at which the determination to elect the present President had been come to.
– I do not think I said that ; let me hear the words.
– The honorable senator said that a meeting had been held, at which a determination had been come to as to who was to be elected President.
– I do not think I said that. I said nothing about a meeting having been held ; what I did say was that I understood that the will of the Senate hail been ascertained.
– If the honorable senator reads the Age, he will find it reported as I have said. I am not mentioning this in any captious spirit, but merely in order that the matter may be put straight.
– But it would not be true if I said such a thing.
– I felt inclined to take exception to it yesterday, but I did not wish to throw a jarring note into the election of President. What the VicePresident of the Executive Council said was that there had been a meeting, and it was for honorable senators to bow to the will of the .Senate. Not only myself, but other honorable senators, felt that the public would understand that a meeting had been held outside the Chamber, and a determination arrived at. There was no meeting of senators outside the Chamber beyond that of the Labour Party, and I do not wish the public to understand that that being the only meeting, this Chamber was bound to come into accord with its decision.
– The honorable senator is mistaken, and, fortunately, I have the
Hansard report here. Such a thought as the honorable senator suggests was not in my mind.
– I have already said that I think the Vice-President of the Executive Council made a slip.
– But I did not make a slip; I did not say what is alleged.
– I assure the VicePresident of the Executive Council that the utterance was noted, not only by myself, but by a large number of other honorable senators.
– The words which I used were, according to Hansard -
I take it as a matter of very great pleasure indeed that before the formal meeting it has seen fit to make known its will and desire.
– The word “meeting” was used; and the will of honorable senators could only be made known at a meeting, and not by mere lobby gossip.
– The Whips frequently ascertain the sense of the Chamber before a vote is taken.
– The ‘GovernorGeneral’s speech opens, with a word of congratulation on the prosperity prevailing throughout the Continent; but for that the Government do not take any credit. In the speech there is an omission of something which is usually put in at the beginning, though sometimes at the end, and sometimes at both, acknowledging that Divine Providence has something to do with the prosperity. I do not know whether there was any reason for the omission.
– Mr. Bent took the credit the other night at Brighton.
- Mr. Bent halved the credit with Providence. We are told that we are called together to comply with the provision of the Constitution, and to enable the Government to meet Parliament ; and that is a mere stereotyped announcement which calls for no comment. The third paragraph, however, which refers to the Imperial Conference to be held in London in April, is of great importance. This is the third Imperial Conference of Prime Ministers and other representatives of the dependencies of the Empire that has been held, and it is an occasion of supreme importance both in the history of Australia and of the Empire itself. The previous Conference was held under the glamour of the King’s Coronation, and also to some extent under the glamour of the South African war. Consequently our represen tatives, were received with very great cordiality in the old land. They also had the advantage of having in office at that time a Government that was extremely sympathetic towards the dependencies of the Empire. They had at the head of the Colonial Office a gentleman, Mr. Chamberlain, who had elevated the position of Colonial Secretary much higher than it had ever been before, and who received them with marked cordiality. I suppose that the bonds of friendship and kinship were on that occasion drawn closer than they had ever been before. I fear - I may perhaps be pessimistic - that very, few good results will follow from the Conference to be held in London at an early date. The Ministry in office at the present time, as is well known, is not in such close sympathy - and touch with the dependencies of the Empire as the previous Ministry was.
– I think there is no query. I believe it will be found that some of the members of the Ministry are Little Englanders, and some are pro-Boers.
– Some of the members of the present Ministry; and the fact that in the speech from the Throne all reference to the coming Conference was entirely omitted, shows that the Government is not in sympathy with it. Pointed attention was called to the omission in the House of Commons by Mr. Balfour, who took the Government to task for not recognising the importance of the occasion and of the dependencies that will be represented at the Conference. Then, I do not know that the delegation that is going to England is as strong as it might be. Certainly I take no exception to the Prime Minister going. If there were a vote throughout the country he would receive the almost unanimous support of the people. But I think that he ought to have been backed up by a strong man in whom the people have full confidence. I wish to say no word against the present Minister of Customs, but no one will say that he can be looked upon as a true representative of Australia. There are other men who might have gone, and I have one in my mind who I think would have filled the bill. That is the present Speaker of the House of Representatives, Sir Frederick Holder. He would have gone with the full approval of Australia, and would have commanded the confidence of all classes,. I fear that we shall suffer in the present delegation from the fact that the Prime Minister will not be supported as he ought to have been. He is undertaking a herculean task. He is going there to meet the very bes,t men in the Empire. He has grave problems to deal with - the problem of preferential trade, the problem of immigration, the problem of defence, and the problem of the future of the Empire, in which the dependencies are concerned. In connexion with all those grave problems he will receive no such efficient help as he ought to have had under present circumstances. We know from the public remarks, made by members of the present Government in the old country - Mr. Asquith, Sir Edward Grey, the Prime Minister, Sir Henry CampbellBannerman, Mr. Lloyd George, and others - that they are not in sympathy with any reciprocity between the dependencies and the old land, and I do not think that they will do very much to forward the motion of the Prime Ministers in that respect. The matters that will be discussed at the Conference will, of course, be very important. During the last few years the position of the great dependencies of the Empire has changed very much. There has been a growth of Imperial unity. The development of Canada and her grant of Imperial preference, the sending of troops to South Africa, the Imperial Conferences of 1897 and 1903, the establishment of this great Commonwealth, and the subsequent development of affairs in South Africa, have all tended to force the question of the relations of the great dependencies to the Empire more prominently before the public than it has ever been before. We are now approaching a crucial point when great organic changes appear to be about to take place in the relations between the Empire and the dependencies. Those dependencies a,re expanding and developing into nationhood. They are rapidly ceasing to be merely colonies, and are becoming nations. Their relationship with the motherland will have to be reconsidered. The question of a united Empire will require to be solved upon lines which will make the Empire homogeneous, self-contained, and strong. We want to make the unity as close as possible, and as strong as possible at all points, and to that end the dependencies will, I think, come to be recognised more and more as sister States. During the past few years there has been a growth of national consciousness which I found when travelling through Canada a year or two ago was more developed there than is the case in this country. But it is growing very rapidly here also, as any one who takes note of matters of Imperial concern can see very easily. We must develop in one of two ways; either by Imperial unity or Imperial separation. I do not think that any country can be more loyal than Australia is. We may have here and there an expression of opinion to the contrary, but you have only at a public meeting - whether it be a political gathering or a social meeting - to strike a true Imperial note to bring from the audience a cheer of agreement. What we have to consider, and what I take it the representatives of the Conference will consider, is - how are we to secure the development and Strengthening of the British Empire and the States which compose it, bringing about closer unity and harmony, and at the same time securing with greater accuracy the representation of the views of the dependencies in all Imperial councils? That end must be secured not by our becoming too closely entangled with the outside affairs of the Empire, and not by a Federation, but by treating each other as sister States in an alliance. The more we are left to ourselves to follow our own bent and to develop our part of the Empire in our. own way, the stronger we shall grow and the better able we shall be to support the Empire when support is needed. I think that that is the way in which we ought to travel - not by making hard-and-fast bonds or agreements, but by allowing each dependency to develop in the best way it can. We need in regard to the old land a closer fiscal union. I do not share the pessimistic views of my honorable friendwho last spoke. I believe that we can find willing minds who will be able to come to an agreement with regard to thismatter. Australia uses an enormous number of articles that we are not producing, and cannot produce for a great many years. We produce an enormous quantity of raw material which we wish to send abroad. We should endeavour to send as much of it as we can to the old land. We should endeavour in every way to promote unity, with the old country, and if we keep that object in view, and have willing minds at the head of affairs, we shall, I am satisfied, be able to develop our own industries under a protective system, whilst at the same time giving the old country as great a preference in everything as we possibly can do.
– Give her preference and take it back by duties !
– It is impossible to discuss a question like this and to say in advance exactly what preference shall be given. It is a matter of argument and of agreement. But I repeat that with willing minds we shall be able to come to an agreement by which preference can be given.
– I suppose the honorable senator will admit that there must be a fair give and take.
– There should be. We want an honest preference, not a bogus one. We want one that will lead to the advantage of both countries, not merely to the advantage of Australia) though such a preference would be greatly to the advantage of this country. It is good for us, I think, when we have borrowed money from Great Britain, and have to pay interest upon it, that the greater part of our trade should also go there. I believe that the great majority of the people of Australia, whether in Victoria” or elsewhere, wish to see the Tariff question settled. The protectionists desire to see it settled, because at present things are in too uncertain a state to give any security to those who put their money into industries, or to the workmen who desire employment. If we are going to have protection let us have proper protection. Let us have a protection that will really carry out what protection is intended for. Let us have duties that will be sufficient to ‘do it, and let those things which we cannot produce ourselves come in as free as possible. Under the old Victorian Tariff, which was a wellconstructed scientific protectionist Tariff we imported into this State £18,000,000 of goods per annum. Under this protectionist Tariff £12,000,000 worth of goods out of the -^”18,000,000 came in absolutely free of duty, and from the articles on which duties were levied Victoria raised a revenue from Customs and Excise of about ,£3,000,000. I think those figures are correct; the Vice-President of the Executive Council knows, them better than I do. Victoria was able to have a very large free list and a true protective system as well. To show the difference between the old Victorian Tariff and the Tariff we have now in operation,
I may remark that though the Commonwealth Tariff is exceedingly low as compared with the Victorian Tariff, one of the leading softgoods merchants in Flinderslane told me a little while ago that they are paying in Customs duties double the amount that they paid under the Victorian Tariff. We want this question settled, and 1 believe that the great majority of the people of the country would like to see it settled. There are some, I know, who do not want it settled, and one body that is of that opinion is the Labour Party. They do not want it settled because they have managed to live on Tariff strife for a considerable time, and hope to live on it for a long time to come. I do not anticipate that we shall get, during this or the next session, very much assistance from that party as a body towards settling the question, because they know that the sooner it is settled the sooner they will be settled also.
– Every Age machinemade politician has been living on that for years and years.
– The honorable senator is not justified in talking about Age machine-made politicians. Any one who has read the Age for many years knows that I do not owe very much to it. It is an absolute untruth to say I do.
– The honorable senator would have been where his colleague Skene is if he had not been on the Age list.
– I have been twentyone years in Parliament, and I have represented the same people for the whole of the time. That is a sufficient answer to any taunts from an individual such as the honorable senator who has just interjected.
– The honorable senator is as good as you are, any day.
– Order ! I must ask honorable senators not to interject.
– We have only to look at the example of Canada. She has forged ahead enormously owing to her protective policy.
– Why not take New South Wales ?
– I do not think New South Wales is in the same street :ls Canada, and if I were to discuss the fiscal position in New South Wales, I should have to discuss a good many matters connected with New South Wales in conjunction with it, such as the assistance New South Wales has had from loans to enable her to carry on, and many other matters. I am pointing to one of the greatest dependencies of the Empire in somewhat similar circumstances to our own. Canada has attained her present position by her protective policy. When the reciprocal agreement between Canada and the United States terminated suddenly in 1866, she had for twelve years been endeavouring to build up a United States trade, and she had got it. She was at her wit’s end to know where to look for customers, and many in Canada said, “ We must have annexation or incorporation with the United States, otherwise we shall not be able to deal with them.” There was, however, the spirit of the old Empire loyalists there. They would not listen to that proposition for a moment; and instead of their adopting it, Sir John Macdonald introduced his protective Tariff and brought about the Federation of Canada in the following year. Since then Canada has never looked back. We must have this protective policy if we are to progress in Australia. We have had here latelv Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, a gentleman whose name was mentioned by Senator Trenwith. He passed through Australia with the speed of the carrier pigeon, and I see he has been giving his ideas about us in the House of Commons. I trust that English people will not takethat gentleman as a very good authority on Australian matters.
– The honorable senator was giving us his ideas about Canada just now.
– I was stating the history of Canada, not the present position.
– Perhaps Mr. Ramsay Macdonald was giving history, too, in the House of Commons.
– There will be very little sympathy for Australian workers from that gentleman. I happened, when in England, to attend a gathering in Trafalgar Square, to which he led up some hundreds of unemployed bootmakers from Leicester. He was inveighing against the conditions in England, and all the while he was upholding then, as he is upholding now, that freetrade policy which was keeping those men out of work and their families in starvation. The question of preferential trade will be one of our first considerations. Next, I think, our great need is that of immigration. It is our most crying need, and I trust that the Prime
Minister will be given a fairly free hand to maketentative arrangements - because he cannot finally close them - in regard to this great question. I am a strong supporter of a White Australia, and what I saw, in going through other countries, has only confirmed me in the belief that we should keep this, as far as possible,a white man’s country. They are finding out the danger in America, they are complaining very bitterly now in Canada, and, while we are comparatively free of those troubles which are afflicting the United States, and to a much less extent Canada, let us continue to keep as free as we possibly can of them. Canada has gone ahead, first by her protective policy, next by her encouragement of immigration, and she has got there the right sort of people.
– All Socialists.
– No, the right sort of people. From 1899 to 1904 they landed in Canada 443,661 declared settlers, independent of others who came into the country.
– For how many years?’
– That was for five years.
– Can the honorable senator give us the nationality of those people ?
– There were 159,565 from the United States, 104,405 from England and Wales, 23,343 from Scotland, 9,288 from Ireland, and the balance of 147,120 from other nationalities, so that they were getting immigration, and they were getting the right stamp of people. Of course, much of the immigration to Canada is due to the exertions of the great railway bodies there - the CanadianPacific and the Grand Trunk - but immigrants are assisted in some ways by the Government. I do not think they are assisted much in money. They are assisted more by immigration lecturers, advertising, and immigration agencies throughout the Continent of Europe and the old land.
– The honorable senator forgets one matter - reduced freights.
– From 1899 to 1904 the Canadian Government spent £500,000 sterling, or 3,000,000 dollars, in immigration. She has done more. She has not asked high prices for her land. This is what she has done to promote settlement there: From 1891 to 1898 she gave away 4,803,200 acres. During that time she only sold 461,583 acres. In the five years from 1899 to 1904 she gave away 16,808,800 acres to settlers, and she only sold 594,433 acres. This seems to be an example of kingly generosity, but it was a wise policy, and she is now reaping her reward.
– She is not afraid to alienate her land, apparently.
– Of course, we do not control the land. That is unfortunate. I trust the Government will be able to make arrangements with the States to get control of land. I have advocated in another place that the Commonwealth Government, in order to get land, should even buy it in order to settle the people under good conditions. I am not prepared to say whether the Northern Territory will be suitable for the settlement of white people, but the bargain that has been made to take it over will, I hope, be ratified if it is on anything like fair lines, and possibly the Commonwealth may have large areas of country there at its disposal. The question of defence is not one I understand very deeply, but every one who looks at the matter is becoming more and more impressed with the necessity for doing a great deal more than we are doing at the present time. I was. glad to hear a gentleman who can speak with authority such as Senator Cameron deal with the matter at such length and with so much earnestness. A year or two ago I voted for the subsidy to the British Navy. Had I known as much then as I do now I would not have voted for it. I think we shall have to take up this question as a national one. Perhaps at that time I had not given the matter due consideration, but it seems to me now that we must take up the question both of Army and Navy, and spend money upon them.
– You are becoming a Socialist.
– I am not a Socialist. I hope that in this matter I am a patriot. We are getting beyond the mere hiring of defence from any one, even from the old land, and, while it might not be wise during the term of this agreement to abrogate it, although we could do so by giving two years’ notice, still we should deal here in no cheeseparing fashion with the question of defence and the beginnings of a navy of our own. I hope the Tariff question will be settled this year, but I am afraid that with this long adjournment, and with a very long Governor-General’s speech to consider - which will probably take up the month of July - and with all the complicated issues that spring from the consideration of a Tariff, we shall not get that question settled promptly. I may be wrong, but I really do think it would have been very much better if the Minister of Trade and Customs had remained behind, and if the Houses had sat on and dealt with the Tariff Commission’s reports. While I do not desire to speak harshly, it savours to me of inconsistency that men who for the last two years have been talking about workers out of work, about starving women and children, about unemployment being rife throughout the country, and who were so clamorous for something to be done, and done at once, a year or two ago, should now quietly sit back and say, “ There is no hurry. Proper time must be given for the consideration of these things.” I do not understand how honorable members anywhere can take up that position. However, it is a matter for themselves, and for their constituents. I think it is very well understood that there is not general satisfaction with, the Australian delegation to the Navigation Conference. We were asked to send men who understood the business - men representing those who put their money into the pursuit, and men representing also those who put something far more important than their money into it - their lives and their happiness. We have not sent a worthy representative of either party. I am afraid our delegation will not be looked upon with great satisfaction at Home, and that we shall not rise in the estimation of those connected with the matter at Home through the men whom we have sent there. A matter I should like to urge the Prime Minister to see to in his absence is the question of appointing a High Commissioner as soon as possible. It is only those who go to the old land, and spend a few weeks in London making inquiries, who know how little we are thought of, and how little we are known. Of the newspapers in London which are legion, not more than three or four give a reference to Australia, and only one or two give a kindly reference. That can be largely cured by having proper representation in the shape of a High Commissioner in the old land, and I trust the Prime Minister will take such steps there as will lead at a very early date to our being properly represented. I have nothing more to add to these somewhat desultory, remarks, except that I will sit here as an independent member, as a protectionist desiring to see a thoroughly good protective Tariff, and prepared to support any Government, no matter who they are, that will bring in legislation in accordance with my policy, and for the best interests of this country.
.- I did not intend to rise this evening, but as the question is likely to be put at any moment, I desire to bring some matters under the notice of the Government. I observe that there has been a conference of returning officers for the States in Melbourne. At the first Federal election in 1901, I was one of the returning officers for the Kennedy division, and I have also been returning officer for State electorates. I have never seen a more pitiable exhibition than was presented at the recent Federal election. In Brisbane the polling place was located in the most outlandish spot which could be selected. The candidates spoke to the various returning officers, and although we were spending our time and money in addressing the electors, our advice, even though it might not have been the best, was ignored. I do not think that Parliament ever intended that such treatment should be meted out to us. It is stated in to-night/s newspaper that Victoria has lost one or two members according to the rolls, and that is the proper test to take. I can say, from personal experience, that it is not the proper test to take. If the rolls of the other States are in the same condition as are the rolls of Queensland, then they are perfectly rotten. Take Brisbane, for instance. I know a well-known man whose name appears on five rolls. I know other men whose names appear two or three times on die rolls for the district. I also know men who had left the State, and who could have voted if they had wished to do that which was not right or just, because their names still appeared on the roll. Therefore I do not see how any one can take the rolls as a test of the population in a district or a State.
– Does not the honorable senator know a large number of persons whose names are not on any roll ?
– Yes; and I know a large number of persons in Queensland whose names are on the roll, but who, when they went to the polling place, were simply- told by the official that they were not enrolled. I can produce an affidavit to that effect.
– Well, the best remedy is to upset the election.
– I intend to bring this question before the notice of the Government in accordance with my promise, no matter what interruptions may be made. Hundreds of persons did not take the trouble to look at the roll, but walked away from the polling places. Under a blazing sun sixty-seven persons went down to a place about half-a-mile away, and there found that their names were on the roll. Sixtyfour of them returned to the polling place, claimed the right to vote, and voted. I like fair play, both for myself and for my opponents. I hold that those who have to pay the piper should have a chance to record their votes if possible. During the electoral campaign, we asked not only supporters, but also opponents to turn up and record their votes, as we desired to ascertain the true opinion of the people of the State. Nothing, I think, could be fairer than that. I do not know who is to blame, but certainly somebody has blundered, and hundreds of persons in Queensland have been disfranchised by the action of either the Government or their officials. It results from a cheap and nasty way of doing their business. To-day I picked up a return, from which I learn that in 1901 the cost of the elections was £5^,331- In 1903 it was reduced to £51.000, and in 1906 to £46,000.
– And in 1906 they had a referendum as well as a general election.
– Those who support the Government are responsible for the events which distinguished the recent election. The men who were appointed to act as officers were underpaid. In fact, they were sweated. Yet my honorable friends on the other side still support the Government which perpetrated those acts. Take the figures for Queensland. In 1901 the cost of the Federal election was £12,000. No one in that State has cavilled at the expense of that election, because it is generally recognised that if we wish to do a thing well, we must secure the services of good men and pay them good wages. The rate of pay has been cut down. Men. as I know from experience, had to remain at their posts from .half-past 7 a.m. to between n and 12 p.m. for an ordinary day’s pay. That, I suppose, is a little bit of Socialism in our time, and the people who do the work are to be ground down. In 1903 the cost of the Federal elections was reduced by £3,000 in that State, and last year it was reduced by very nearly £2,000. It is a disgrace to the Commonwealth, as well as to Queensland, that men should be asked to go to the booths and work during long hours for a pittance.
– The authorities would not employ enough of them either.
– Exactly. In the Electoral Act there is no system for purifying the rolls. That is generally left to a lad in the office. I have no fault to find with the lads, because I suppose they only do what a great many grown-up persons would do. But there should be a system whereby the rolls could be purified. At the present time, I repeat, that is left to a lad. If he has a bias one way he will strike off the names of persons, and when they go to vote they will find that they are not enrolled. Or, if he has a bias the other way, he may leave on the names of persons, although he knows that they hare gone away, with the hope that they may come back.
– The honorable senator said that it is left to a lad. Is that correct ?
– I mean that, generally, an under clerk, who is paid at the rate of £2 a week or less, is left to do that work.
– But he cannot strike off names.
– No matter what he can do, I know what is done.
– Only the registrars can do that.
– There is no such thing as a registrar. There is no means provided in the present Act for purifying the rolls.
– Oh, yes there is.
– Iwould like the Minister to tell the Senate what it is. I am stating the facts, and what I have been told by the highest officials.
– The rolls are open for inspection.
– In this case, what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business. I do not propose to touch upon the fiscal question at the present time, because I suppose that it will become the subject of long contests here by and by. I am not an out-and-out free-trader, nor a prohibitive protectionist. I believe in a reasonable amount of protection, but not in prohibition.
If we had prohibition, where would our revenue come from? In Queensland the fiscal question was sunk by both ourselves and our opponents. No one has a right to stand up here and say that that question was before all Australia, because Queensland is a very large portion of the Commonwealth, and there it was not brought forward at all. I do not remember any instance when we were asked to say whether we were in favour of or against protection. The honorable senator who said that the question was put before Australia, must now admit that he was wrong. I am quite aware that in Victoria it was the chief question, but that, I think, was the only State where it was brought forward prominently. I do not suppose that many honorable senators on this side can find fault with the eighth paragraph of the GovernorGeneral’s speech -
You will be called together again as soon as possible, in order that you may consider the legislative proposals laid before the electors, comprising, among others, measures to place our national industries upon a sound and permanent basis under equitable conditions ; to develop the latent resources of the Continent; promote trade relations with the Empire ; make adequate provision for our defences; and augment the population of Australia by a judicious encouragement of immigration.
I do not know how honorable senators on the other side feel with regard to the last subject, because our opponents were against immigration. We were in favour of immigration, therefore we can support the Government on that question.
– The honorable senator is sitting on the wrong side of the Chamber.
– I see on the other side honorable senators who are prepared to support the Government, although they have no faith in that part of their programme. I am very pleased to say that so far as most of the promised measures are concerned, the Government shall have my hearty support. But I am a very free member of the Chamber, bound to no caucus or party. I made that declaration from every platform on which I spoke. In every speech I told the people that I was opposed to Socialism. From the north to the south, and from the east to the west, that was the key-note at the general election. In Queensland the great issue was whether the Government of the Commonwealth should have the right to tax the lands of the States. We fought that issue for all it was worth. We contend that although the Constitution may authorize the Federal Parliament to take that step in a time cf great national emergency, in time of peace it has no right to intervene, because once it begins to exercise the power of taxation the Commonwealth will soon own the land. I tell any one who owns 50,000 acres of land that if he will give me the power of taxation in regard to that land, I will soon become its owner. If the Federal Government were empowered to tax the lands of the States, men would soon part with their lands. I hope that that power will never be granted to any Federal Government. I believe that the States Governments, if properly approached, are prepared to open up the lands to a stream of immigrants, and to assist immigration in every form. In Queensland, where I have lived for forty-five years, we have never had so prosperous a season as we now have. I am very pleased to see that all other parts of the Commonwealth are prosperous. In Queensland we have alienated 4 per cent, of our lands, and any observant man who travels through the State will find millions of acres “ of Crown land, which are quite suitable for farming and dairying. In the other House there is a gentleman who once owned a large tract of country not far from Rockhampton, which! to-day is carrying hundreds of prosperous dairy farmers. We are told that there are enough people in the Commonwealth. That statement is absurd.
– Who said that?
– During the late elections, we heard that statement from gentlemen who hold the same views as does the honorable senator. We have been told that there is no work, and, therefore, no occasion to bring men to this country, but I say that there is plenty of work for the right class of men who will go on the land. In the district of Mackay there are hundreds of farmers who ten years ago were immigrants, and who are now prosperous. I can assure honorable senators that it would gladden their hearts to see the happy and contented position of those men. There are millions of acres in the Commonwealth on which people may be placed. There may not be land available in Victoria, but in Queensland a man may plough for a thousand miles without a stoppage through one of the finest territories under the sun. There is, I admit, the one drawback of the droughts, but these affect the whole of Australia more or less ; and I have no doubt that ire time science will find a remedy. We are told we ought to have an army and a navy. I have been president of a rifle club, and have assisted it to the best of my power for many years ; and my idea is that, with our present population, we cannot afford both an army and a navy. It is for us to decide which arm of defence we can bring to the proper state of efficiency with the means at our disposal. I heard Senator McColl say that he did not believe in what is called the “ naval tribute.” Well, I do believe in that subsidy, but I also believe in Australia trying to form the nucleus of a navy without too much expense. I have no doubt that ships could be obtained from the old country to be used as training vessels ; but beyond what I have indicated it is of no use attempting to go, because I am sure the public would never foot the bill for both an army and a navy. We must have one or the other ; and I am pleased to see that the Government are taking steps in regard to the cadet force, my only complaint being that they do not go fast enough. We hear people talking in one breath about providing an army and a navy, and in the next breath complaining about the expense of the cadet force. One battle-ship would cost more than would equip and educate 100,000 cadets. Let us take the material which is at hand ; and we all know that there is no time in a boy’s life when he will take to soldiering so readily as between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. There is no question that unless people are brought to Australia, and settled here, so as to attach them to the soil, we shall never be able to raise an efficient defence force. We do not desire to have people who merely come to a gold rush, and then ,go away again ; we desire to have people who will make their homes here. Such, however, has not been the aim of the Commonwealth so far ; but I hope that when we meet again, a Bill will be introduced empowering the Government to spend twice as much, or, if needs be, three times as much, as is now spent on the Cadet Forces. I do not intend to make a long speech, because the hour is getting late, and, as a matter of fact, there is very little in the GovernorGeneral’s speech that, from my point of view, can be cavilled at. Of course, it has been stated that the honorable gentleman who is going as the representative of Australia to the Imperial Conference has not the confidence of the country. That is a matter of opinion, and my opinion is that the honorable gentleman has not that confidence. Fifteen years ago nobody admired the present Prime Minister more than I did, but the way in which he has hung on to office, and the way in which he has “eaten dirt,” and returned to it, has lost him the good opinion of not only the people of Victoria, but of the people of the whole of Australia. I only wish that the representative to the Conference was one who had the good-will of Australia, as a whole, and not merely of one section. In one sense I am glad that the Prime Minister is going Home, because, as my colleague has said, the visit may open his eves to wider views. In that however, I have little faith, because none are so blind as those who will not see. I have to thank honorable senators for the patience with which they have listened to me, and for the few interruptions I have experienced ; and I conclude by expressing the hope that, although all the senators who represent Queensland may not be able to see eye to eye on every question, they will, in any matters affecting the rights of their State, be found fighting on the same side.
– - Before venturing to trespass on the time of the Senate in referring to one or two of the matters which have cropped up during the discussion, I take this, the first opportunity, to tender my congratulations to you, sir, on the high and important position to which you have just been elected. I have not had for any appreciable time the pleasure of your personal acquaintance, but if I am to judge from the unanimous vote of the Chamber, I am led to believe that you are possessed of all those qualities and abilities which are necessary to fill so important and proud a position ; and I trust you will long be spared to preside over the destinies and deliberations of this Chamber. I listened with great interest to the eloquent address delivered by Senator Cameron ; and I was particularly struck with his very patriotic references to the all-important question of defence. I approach this question with a certain amount of diffidence, in view of the fact that the honorable senator I have mentioned is a man of greater physical dimensions >than myself, and is also a soldier. But notwithstanding the_honorable senator’s patriotic utterances, and his contention that it is necessary for us to take every step possible to defend Australia, I think that he and other honorable senators who followed him have forgotten one very important factor. If we are ever to have a proper system of defence, then, before we start to talk about a cadet system, or about training the youth of the country to shoot straight, we must commence by dealing with the land question. If those honorable senators are in earnest, then I ask them to assist the party which has been dubbed the Socialist Party, to impose a tax on unimproved land values, and thus compel those men who to-day are holding the land in large tracts and preventing the natural development of the national wealth, to disgorge, and afford room for those whom we should have to train. .
– Is not that the duty of the States?
– It has been my experience, in contesting more than one State election in Western Australia, that, when a reference is made to a tax on unimproved land values, the anti-Socialists say, “ Oh, that is a question for the Federal Parliament.”
– They never said that in Queensland.
– There are more places in the Australian Commonwealth than Queensland. Then when one is contesting a Federal election, and a reference is made to the all-important question, the answer of this same party is, “ Oh, that Is a question for the States.” That is how our opponents wriggle. Therefore, I hope that when during the life of this Parliament this question comes before us, honorable senators who have preceded me in this debate, will remember their utterances, and, if they are sincere, will vote to a man for this tax as being a matter which is indissolubly connected with the question of Australian defence.
– The honorable senator’s party never give us a chance of voting on it.
– I think the honorable senator will get the chance before he again appears before the electors.
– Not even the honorable senator’s party can squeeze the Government to introduce the proposal.
– Time will tell. There is another matter in connexion with defence to which I, as a Western Australian senator, would like to refer, and in connexion with which I invite the support of Senator Cameron. If we are to effec- lively defend Australia, there must be a transcontinental railway - the east and west of Australia must be linked together.
– Why not the north and the south?
– The north and the south, if the honorable senator likes. If there were no other argument to support the necessity and desirableness of connecting the eastern and western portions of the Continent, there is the argument of defence, and when we are discussing the question of this much-needed railway on a future occasion I shall appeal to the honorable senators to whom I have referred to support the representatives of the western State. I was very glad to hear Senator McColl say that he is opposed to the Naval subsidy. So am I ; and I hope the day will soon arrive when we shall make an effort to prove to the mother country that we intend to try to be self-reliant. So long as we continue to pay that subsidy, so long do we prove that we are neither able nor willing to make an attempt to build up our own nation. Much has been said during the debate as to the impossibility of our building or maintaining an Australian Navy. But we do not require to go to the expense of constructing Dreadnoughts, Terribles. or Powerfuls; we might make a humble start by defending our coast-line with submarines and a small torpedo fleet. Even if we are paying £200,000 a year to the British Exchequer, the fleet for which that money is paid would be of no use to us if we were subject to an invasion to-morrow. If Great Britain found herself in the position which her Field Marshal fears may occur at any time, that fleet might be called away, and we would be left to the tender mercies of our neighbours, the Mongolian hordes. I regret that the Imperialistic spirit has been so pronounced during the course of this debate. I have regretted for some considerable time that the public men of Australia are too Imperialistic, and forget that their duty is first to the Australian Continent and the Australian people, and to the mother country afterwards. Let it not be understood that, in making such a statement, I am more disloyal or more loyal than any other man. I have every respect and every consideration for the motherland from which I have sprung, but I know that it is our duty first, as a young nation, to look to ourselves. If the motherland is ever in difficulties, and wants our help, I am sure that help will be given.
I should not like this debate to close without referring to the statement of Senator Trenwith when he assured the Senate that the only issue before the electors of the Commonwealth was that of the Tariff. I wish to make this statement more particularly in view of the fact that honorable senators on this side of the Chammer have throughout the course of the debate referred to the socialistic senators opposite. It may be that I am bv some regarded as one of the anti-Socialists. Well, I am glad to say that I am not. I am proud to say that I belong to the party which has been dubbed socialistic. Yet I say this, Mr. President - that throughout the length and breadth of the State of Western Australia, of which I have the honour to be one of the representatives, the only question which tha electors had to decide was that of the policy put forward by the Labour Party - or, as my honorable friend Senator St. Ledger terms us, the Socialist Party-
– As they term themselves.
– And the want of policv of those opposed to us. As a result the three men who stood on that policy were returned by a magnificent majority to represent Western Australia in the Senate.’ Let me say, in reply to Senator Trenwith, that if the only issue put forward by the Government of the day prior to the dissolution of Parliament was that of Tariff, it is a remarkable thing that in Western Australia a prominent member of the Ministry, who occupies a seat in another Chamber, ran two different men who had two different fiscal faiths, for two different constituencies. For the Fremantle electoral division he espoused and supported an avowedly protectionist candidate, who on his arrival in the Federal Parliament took up a position in direct opposition to the party which poses as the protectionist party. In the Perth electoral division the same gentleman espoused and supported a candidate who was avowedly a free-trader.
– And made a protectionist stand down in his favour.
– Not only did he support a free-trader, but he made a protectionist candidate retire in his favour, although, if he had been returned, he would have sat in direct opposition to the Government of which that gentleman is a member. If that is putting one issue before the electors, it is a strange way for the members of the
Ministry to put an issue before them. We have been reminded in the speech read by the Governor-General yesterday that an Imperial Conference is about to take place in London. We are told that the reason for this short session is that the Prime Minister has to attend that Conference. I am not going to enter into the pros and cons of that question. Personally I fail to see why the Federal Parliament should adjourn simply because two or three of its members have to go to London. Whatever may be the subjects that come before the Imperial Conference, I sincerely hope that the. representatives of Australia will adopt no cringing attitude, but that they will show to the people of Great Britain and to the representatives of the other selfgoverning portions of the Empire that we in Australia, at least, are imbued with a truly national, self-reliant spirit. On the question of immigration I wish to make myself clearly and distinctly understood. I recognise that it is necessary that Ave should encourage a judicious system of immigration. But I will be, as I have hitherto been, a most determined opponent of any system of. immigration until such time as we have initiated another system to provide for those who are at our own doors. It is useless for honorable senators to stand up in the Senate and tell us that in various parts of Australia land and work are available. To wuch statements I give an emphatic contradiction. There are many places in this Commonwealth to-day where the unemployed problem is acute and where misery and starvation stalk throughout the place. If we are going to face this question, let us do it in the manner I have indicated. Let us endeavour first of all to supply the wants of those who are here. If we are determined to develop our great agricultural resources, let us give every facility and every opportunity to those who are at present within our shores and who are idle but willing to work on the land if they can find favorable opportunity. Do not let us continue the pernicious system that has obtained in some States of recent years, of bringing men here who do not immediately settle upon the land, but who enter into competition with the various artisans in the already congested labour market. Such are my views on one or two of the matters that have been brought before us in the speech from His Excellency. So far as the Tariff is concerned, we shall have ample opportunities for discussion at a later stage in the life of this Parliament. I have a fiscal faith and a very pronounced one, and I will put that fiscal faith into practical operation when the Tariff question comes before us.
– There as nothing “ anti “ about the honorable senator’s fiscal faith.
– There is not. In conclusion, I wish to thank you, sir, and the Senate for the patience with which you have listened to this my first effort in this Parliament. I trust that no matter what our political views may be, or whatever differences of opinion may arise, theresult of our deliberations will be to promote the good, the prosperity and contentment of this Commonwealth, whose destinies we have been called upon to guide.
– I do not intend to occupy the attention of honorablesenators at great length, but seeing that two or three of those who have addressed themselves to the motion have thought it necessary to make reference to the administration of the Electoral Act at the recent elections, I think it is only due to them and to the Senate that something should be said on the part of the Government with regard to that matter. It has been stated that my predecessor in the Heme Office - the ex-Minister of Home Affairs, who had’ control of the Department in December last - by paltry parsimony brought about in connexion with the administration of the elections very many of the disadvantages and hardships to the electors and the community generally, to which reference has been made. T would say at the outset that it has to be remembered that theelections were carried out under what may be called an entirely new law. Certainly we had a Commonwealth electoral law for the election of 1903, but since then therehave been introduced a considerable number of modifications constituting the Act of 1905. I do not put this forward as a reason why mistakes should occur or hardships or injustices arise in the administration.
– Many of those alterations were made at the suggestion of officers, who told us that they would facilitate the work.
– Undoubted)’, many were introduced as the result of the experience of the 1903 election. Approximately 13,000 officers were employer! throughout the Commonwealth for the conduct of the election last December. A general election, as honorable senators are aware, occurs once only in every three years. It is not a case in which a man has an opportunity of rectifying a blunder which he may find in the ordinary course of his daily experience. I do not propose to deal at great length with this subject, but incidentally to touch upon one or two matters referred to by Senator Pearce, Senator Sayers and others. I may say at the beginning that the whole of the rolls for the Commonwealth were readjusted on the basis of the redistribution of electorates proclaimed on the 17th July last. The rolls themselves were printed and exposed at all the post offices throughout the Commonwealth - the appropriate roll at the appropriate post office. Notifications were put up at the post offices, and at all public buildings throughout Australia, setting out the methods of obtaining enrolment, transfer, change of polling place. Everything was done to bring under the notice of the people how they could enrol, and enrol for the proper polling place. After that the postal officials throughout the Commonwealth were instructed to render every assistance to persons making inquiries with regard to electorates and enrolment. Maps for different divisions were put up at the post offices, and every advantage was taken of the information contained in the existing State electoral rolls, and any action that had recently been taken in connexion with them. Not long before the issue of the writs, the rolls, in consequence of the applications made for enrolment and transfer, were reprinted, and the reprinted form of the rolls was exposed as were the original rolls at the different post offices throughout the Commonwealth. Moreover, a particularly stressful notice - if I may so style it - a notice which was calculated to attract the attention of electors - was issued reminding them of the opportunity of getting upon the electoral roll. Certainly a good deal of supineness was shown by many who did not take advantage of the opportunities to get upon the rolls. Later on many of those persons, in the excitement of the contest, took a little more interest in the matter than they had previously done. The fullest advantage was taken of the liberality or generosity - or interest it may be - of the press, which throughout the whole Commonwealth drew the attention of the readers of the newspapers to the obligation that fell upon them with regard to enrolment, or transfer, or desire to change polling places. As to the matter to which Senator Henderson has made reference, when we amended our Electoral Act in 1905 we made provision for working in co-operation with the States wherever there should be appropriate electoral machinery. At a Conference ofPremiers held a few years ago in Hobart it was decided that it would be to the interests of the States and the Commonwealth if joint action should be taken in connexion with electoral administration, and honorable senators who were present in the last Senate will remember that in our Electoral Act of 1905 we made legislative provision to enable the Electoral Department of the Commonwealth to work in conjunction with the Electoral Departments of the States. I regret, however, that so far the States have not joined in with us in that matter, although, possibly, at some very early date in the future we may find several, if not all, of them taking action of that kind. It is in anticipation of the States joining in with us in that regard that the whole electoral system throughout the Commonwealth has been organized. Reference was made by Senator Sayers to the fact that many of the officials engaged in the elections were ill-paid.
– They were paid much less than under the States.
– That is one of the features to which I just now referred when I said that the whole organization of the electoral administration throughout the Commonwealth has been based upon the anticipation that the States will hereafter join in with us, use as far as possible the same rolls, as far as possible the services of the same officers, and as far as possible the same polling-places.
– To induce them to make the franchise identical ?
– Wherever it is identical it would be a comparatively ea’sy matter for the State and the Commonwealth to work together in that regard. We must, in organizing the whole electoral system, keep that well in mind. Otherwise, hereafter it might be that, instead of the working together being productive of benefits in the way of reduction of expenditure, it would have just the contrary effect.
– All that has nothing to do with the point raised by Senator Pearce.
– The Minister has not referred to any point brought forward here yet.
– I have done so. I have referred to points which were brought up probably when the honorable senator was not present.
– I have been present during the whole of the day.
– The Minister has not shown us the reason why the Government ignored the States provisions in regard to polling-booths, and cut them entirely out when the Federal elections were held.
– I do not know that any honorable senator drew attention to that matter.
– Senator Fearce did.
– In what instance?
– I will give the honorable senator one instance. At the Collie timber concession we asked for a pollingplace, where there are some 300 names on the roll, and the request was refused.
– I heard the honorable senator mention that matter. Does he say that that is a polling-place in the State ?
– - Yes.
– So far as the Subiaco State election was concerned, there were three State polling-booths, and yet the Federal Department only gave one, although at the former election there were two, and the population has increased in the meanwhile.
– As the honorable senator mentioned himself by implication, I was not in charge of the Department at the time the election was conducted, but the information I have from my officers with regard to Western Australia is this : Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act additional polling-places are created whenever the necessity arises, and - this has regard to Western Australia - all applications for additional polling places recommended by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for that State, and received prior to the printing of the rolls, were favorably considered by the Minister.
– Were they granted?
– Yes ; all those that were recommended by the Chief Electoral Officer prior to the printing of the rolls.
– That was before
– No. I said the rolls were printed on the basis of the redistribution of the electorates proclaimed in July. They were printed later on in October, and the supplementary rolls were printed later than that.
– The Minister will see that locates the responsibility. It makes the Electoral Officer for the State responsible for refusing these facilities.
– All that were received prior to the final printing of the rolls. Honorable senators will see that you cannot get an additional polling place if the rolls are finally printed, because you have not got a divisional list. However, that is the information I have from my own officers.
– I know polling places were granted after those I asked for were refused.
– What I have stated is the information I have with regard to this matter. Probably, with regard to those specific instances, I shall be able, by further inquiries, to satisfy the honorable senator and others who may be interested.
– In that particular place we had to engage a special train.
– I shall be very glad to get any information with regard to it.
– The Minister can supply the information privately, in any instance.
– The congestion that took place is an admitted fact. It must be remembered that the principle of absent voting has been recognised and legislated for only in recent years. One of the features unforeseen by the administrators of the electoral law has been the remarkable increase in the use by electors of this system of voting. It has been very noticeable in all the metropolitan centres. Electors who live out in the suburbs chose not to vote at the polling place for which they were registered, but crowded in in inordinately large numbers to certain polling places in the metropolitan division itself.
– Because they came into town to attend to business.
– Naturally so. They came into town about 9 and left about 5, or perhaps came in at ‘8 and left about 6, and they preferred to vote in town rather than vote at their own polling places. In some instances electors who were living only a couple of hundred yards from their, own polling places voted in the city. This led to an enormous congestion of votes - votes registered under the form Q provision - and the absent voters crowded in in those instances in very much larger numbers than were anticipated.
– There was often only one person authorized to take the declaration.
– That is what I say. The congestion was far greater than we anticipated, and it showed itself more particularly in the metropolitan centres.
– Where it was to be anticipated.
– Yes ; but I understand that a very much larger number of persons voted in this way at the last election than on previous occasions. Senator Sayers also said he had been informed by a reliable authority that there was no provision in the law for purifying the rolls. In our original Commonwealth Electoral Act we had a provision for the purification of “the rolls by revision courts, but we abolished the revision court system in our Act of 1905, and in Part VII. of the Act as it stands now as amended we have provisions ranging from sections 67 to 72 for the removal of names from the roll. The procedure is that any name on the roll may be objected to by any person, a deposit of 5s. being necessary, to be forfeited to the King if the returning officer holds the objection to be frivolous. Section 68 provides for the form of objection, and in section 69 the obligation is cast upon every registrar to lodge or make an objection in writing, setting forth the ground of such objection in respect of any name which he has reason to believe ought not to be retained upon the roll. When he does that the returning officer must forthwith give notice of the objection to the person objected to. The notice must be in the prescribed form, and mav be served or sent by letter. Then the obligation is not thrown upon the person objected to of attending the Court, but he may orally or in writing in the prescribed manner answer the objection.
– Senator Sayers’ point was that that business fell into the hands of tinder-strappers in the Post and Telegraph Department, who did not carry it out.
– It would only be in the hands of the returning officers or the registrars. The persons appointed as registrars in many instances, especially out side the very populous centres, are officers attached to the Post and Telegraph Department, and they are not under-strappers in any sense of the word. They are persons charged in many instances with the responsibility of conducting a post and telegraph office. Naturally in the whole scheme of organization it has been sought so far as possible to use Commonwealth officers as registrars wherever available, because you have in them persons accustomed to responsibility and to discipline. In all those instances they are bound by the law, wherever they have reason to believe that a person is no longer entitled to be on the roll, to strike the name off and send a notification to the last-known address of that person. If they did not do it, then they; were guilty of a neglect of duty, because the law casts an imperative duty on them.
– That was Senator Sayers’ contention.
– I understood Senator Sayers to say that there was no provision for doing that at all, that no registrars came into the matter at all, and that the law contained no provision, and the honorable senator challenged me to produce it. The provisions are there in the Act. The honorable senator also said he had been, as he thought, reliably informed by somebody that the law contained no such provision casting such a duty on any person.
– The Minister is perfectly correct ; but those sections only make provision where the officer knows or thinks the voter has disappeared. There is, however, no means of ascertaining whether the elector is there or not. It is only in those cases in which by accident or otherwise the officer has reason to think the elector has gone.
– Yes, but it is open to any one else to lodge an objection. As a matter of fact the law is there, and if it has not been put into play in any particular instance it is either through the omission of a private individual, who may or may not have taken the course which the law allows him to take, or through the neglect of an official. As those responsible for carrying out this duty are in most instances permanent officers of some department of the Commonwealth, their particular neglect in the matter can be easily brought under the notice of the Government, who can give attention to it.
– There is no obligation in that section upon the officer to take any steps to find out whether persons are improperly on the roll.
SenatorMillen. - Then there may be hundreds of voters who disappear, and whose names remain on the roll.
– That is a matter for the Legislature. So far as the general administration is concerned, I think honorable senators will recognise that the conduct ofsuch an important matter, so extensive in all its ramifications, as a Commonwealth election can be hardly expected to be carried out without some illustrations in some place or other of mistakes or even bungling. When you are controlling an army of something like 13,000 officers who are performing a duty which they only perform - fortunately or unfortunately - once in three years, you cannot expect that they will work with the clock-like precision and regularity of those who are carrying out the same duties day by day and week by week and year bv year. I think it will be found by all dispassionate observers and inquirers, if the whole matter is gone into, and the particular concrete instances are examined in all their bearings, that the election was conducted, generally speaking, in a very satisfactory way, and that the reduction in the expenditure was not due to any parsimonious desires on the part of my predecessor, but was brought about by a system of greater perfection of organization than could possibly have been achieved on the occasion of the first Federal election. I shall be very glad if any of the particular instances that honorable senators are peculiarly interested in are brought under my notice. I shall endeavour to get the fullest amount of information about them, and I hope that in most instances, if not in all, the fuller information will satisfy honorable senators that the alleged blunders were not as serious as they originally thought.
– Does the honorable senator suggest anv remedy?
– I do not think that such an important document as the Governor-General’s speech should be allowed to pass without a little remark. But before going into the subjectmatter of it, perhaps I mav be permitted to observe that it is a pity that, having been called together, we should be compelled to separate so early. There seems to have been a very large amount of enthusiasm and energy infused into the Chamber since the accession of a number of new senators, and it is very probable that, if we do not meet again until June or July, a very large portion of that enthusiasm will have evaporated, very much to the loss and disadvantage of the members of the Senate. The Government might have set out in detail some of the many subjects of farreaching importance which are to be submitted for discussion at the Conference of Prime Ministers of’ the self-governing portions of the Empire, to be held in London in April next. We are dismissed with the curt information that there is to be a Conference, and that many subjects of farreaching importance will be discussed thereat, but we are not told what the subjects are to be, or of the attitude of our representatives upon them. That is an omission on the part of the Government which Parliament ought to resent if it is in a position to do so. We are merely asked to send our representatives to the old country, and to let them do what they please, return and give their report, when I suppose we shall be invited to indorse what has been done, no matter what it may be. I for one object to that method of carrying on business. It is asking far too much of Parliament to request its assent to that proposal. Unfortunately, I am in a rather difficult position. If any number of honorable senators refused to permit the Prime Minister to go Home, I suppose he would take that refusal as a vote of no confidence, and resign, and in all probability we should have another Government. However bad or unsatisfactory the present Government may be, the alternative would be a thousand times worse. I arn therefore placed in this unfortunate position, that I am between His Satanic Majesty and the blue sea. I choose the blue sea in preference. The only paragraph of the GovernorGeneral’s speech that I desire to refer to is the last one, which contains a very comprehensive programme, no doubt, and which reads as follows: -
You will be called together again as soon as possible in order that you may consider the legislative proposals laid before the electors, comprising, among others, measures to place our national industries upona sound and permanent basis, under equitable conditions ;
That is, I think, a most excellent portion of the Government’s policy, and I trust that no time will be lost in calling Parliament together and carrying out their promise in that connexion. The paragraph continues - to develop the latent resources of the continent ;
That is a phrase that finds its way into every Governor-General’s speech. It sounds well, and means very little. promote trade relations within the Empire ;
That probably means preferential trade, of which I am an advocate. I shall support any fair system which may be brought before Parliament. make adequate provision for our defences ; and augment the population of Australia by a judicious encouragement of immigration.
The misfortune about this portion of the speech is that it is very vague and indefinite. What is meant by the phrase “ adequate provision for our defences “ ? It appears to me that the very first essential, so far as defence is concerned, is population. So long as we have only 4,000,000 of people inhabiting this Continent, we can never hope to maintain it against invasion.We ought to strain every nerve to increase our population to ten millions, aye, even to twenty millions.I do not believe that Australia will ever be absolutely safe against invasion until the population has been increased to at least twenty millions. I do not know what the policy of the Government is. They talk of “ a judicious encouragement of immigration.” I do not know what the phrase means. I do not believe the Government is aware of what it means. But I think it must be evident to every citizen that if we are to be secured against foreign aggression, no matter how prosperous or politically free we may be, unless we are sure that we are able to defend our territory against a possible invader, then the whole thing goes for nothing. For that reason, as well as for the maintenance of a White Australia, a very large increase of population is absolutely necessary.So far, I think the Socialists, or the “ Soshes “ as they were called during the general election, and the “ Anti-Soshes “ are agreed. But when we come to the method of bringing about that additional population then we differ. The Anti-Soshes have one method to propose; the Soshes have another. What is the method of the former? Let us try to clear our mind of prejudice, and examine the propositions of each party on their merits. The anti- Socialists are to a man either free-traders or revenue tariffists.
They will lift neither hand nor foot to maintain existing industries or to create new ones by means of Tariff legislation.
– Senator McColl is a protectionist.
– I withdraw my remark, and say that a very large majority of the anti- Socialists are either free-traders or revenue tariffists, and Senator McColl” is a revenue tariffist. If we had a free-trade policy in Australia to-morrowit would mean the throwing out of employment of hundreds of thousands of men and women. A system of revenue tariffism, while it drags the last farthing of taxation out of the pockets of the poor, does not assist to establish a single industry. The only thing it does effectively is to save the skin of the rich man from taxation, and that is what our friends on the right are so much in favour of. So much for the anti-Socialists. They subscribe to a man to the infamous creed given out some time ago by their leader, the Honorable George Reid, when, in discussing the question of establishing industries in Australia, he asked, ‘.’ Why should we not wait, before trying to establish these industries, until we have developed pauper labour of our own?”
– Mr. Reid never said that, and has denied the statement that he did at least a dozen times, as the honorable senator knows.
– When Mr. Reid finds now that the public of Australia are almost to a man and woman against him he comes forward and denies that he ever made such an utterance.
– Let the honorable senator give the proof that Mr. Reid ever made the statement.
– I do not care whether Mr. Reid made the statement or not. It does not matter whether he did or not.
– I f he did not say so he ought to have said so.
– Yes, because the statement embodies the very flesh and blood and spirit of his party’s policy. They will not reach out hand or foot to establish a new manufacturing industry. They will not break up the land monopoly. “Oh,” they say, “You must not touch the landlord; he is sacred, like the cat in ancient Egypt. You must not break up this monopoly, even although every State in the Union is losing population year by year.” A few weeks ago I read in the Age the astounding statement that Victorian citizens could not find land without going to Canada. We have it in Coghlan that during the last fifteen years Victoria has lost no less than 160,000 of the flower of her population. ^
– Although N she has had the highest protectionist policy in the world.
– They were driven out of their native country by the land monopoly.
– No ; by protection.
– No; while the people were being driven out of the country districts the population in Melbourne was increasing. While the farming areas were being aggregated into big estates the factories in Melbourne were being multiplied. If it had not been for Victoria’s protectionist policy, land monopoly would have driven away not 150,000, but 500,000 of her people. It was her protectionist policy that saved her.
– Victoria has had a protectionist pOliCY for thirty years.
– The fact remains that during the last fifteen years Victoria has lost 160,000 of her most effective citizens. These men and women have been driven from the State by the evil of land monopoly. That evil is not confined to Victoria. Go across to Tasmania, and you find that that tight little island, although capable of maintaining a population of j, 000,000, has a population of only about a 70,000, and people are going away continually.
– It is the same in, South Australia.
– Yes. Land monopoly is the stone that lies in the way of our advancement, but our anti-Socialist friends absolutely refuse to interfere with the land monopolist. From whatever point of view we regard them, they are the enemies of the country. Their intentions may be perfectly honorable. They may honestly labour under the delusion that they are patriots, consumed by love of their country, whose policy is the best under the sun. But surely if they applied the touchstone of commonsense to it, they would see that, while we have land monopoly and a revenue Tariff, it will be impossible to create new industries, and to add ito our population by making Australia the country that we all desire that it should be. What is the o policy which anti-Socialists offer to us?
While not assisting in the creation of new industries, nor affording opportunities for the people to settle on the land, they clamour for the introduction of more population. How do they propose to get more people here? These anti-Socialists, these men who scout the idea of receiving assistance from the State, desire that working people should be brought here at the expense of the State. If I were an antiSocialist, I should scorn to take one farthing from the State, and if I desired that working people should be, brought here, I would take the necessary money from my own pocket. O.ur friends the anti-Socialists take nothing out of their own pockets, but as much as they can get out of the public Treasury, and thev use that money, not for the benefit of the people at large, but for the benefit of the class to which they belong. Let us contrast that policy with that of the Socialist. He believes in encouraging people to come here. We say, let us make Australia the best country under the sun.
– It is so now.
– We have fair fields, fertile pastures, rich mines, and the finest resources that any country could possess. Let us use them so that Australia may support a very much larger population than she has now. Let us make the fertile areas of Victoria, which now support only a few sheep and cattle, available to men. women and children. Although, according to the Age, Victorians have to go to Canada for land, I believe that within about thirty miles of Melbourne there are 3,000.000 acres of land held by 150 owners. That statement touches only the fringe of land monopoly in this State. Those owners ought not to be permitted to stand in the way of the country’s progress.
– The honorable senator would, I suppose, buy their land at its full market value.
– I would not buy them out. I would no: pay them a ransom. The honorable senator wishes to reward them for injuring the country. I would penalize those who obstruct its progress. Will he assert that the allotments in Collins-street, which, fifty or sixty years ago, were bought for a few pounds, and are now worth thousands of pounds, have been raised to their present value by the exertions of their owners?
– Some of the present owners may have given £1,000 a foot for land which originally cost only £50 a foot, but is that a reason for taking it from them at the lower price?
– No one wishes to take it from them. But Australia has borrowed a large amount of money, most of which has been spent in the making of railways, roads, and bridges, and on other developmental work tending to increase settlement. This expenditure has largely increased land values. To whom does the increase belong? To the private owners of land, or to the community whose money has created the increase? Let the private owner have what belongs to him. I want none of it. But I insist on taking what belongs to the community.
– Who is the community ?
– The people at large. The honorable senator is one member of it. As I do not wish to detain honorable senators, I shall not now go into this question at length. I suppose that it will all have to be fought out on the platform before the eyes of the people. I have not the slightest intention of backing down in the least from the views which I have always held in regard to land value and other taxation. The Socialist says, “Let us make conditions here so good that people will flock to Australia in their thousands and tens of thousands.”
– Does the honorable senator intend to give them freehold homes here ?
– I shall not enter into the discussion of that question. There are millions of people in that grand country from which Senator Gray came who have not a freehold, or the most remote hope of ever obtaining one.
– That is no reason why people here should not have freeholds.
– The question is too large to be dealt with in the limited time now at my disposal. We say, make the best land available. During the electoral campaign in Queensland some of my anti-Socialist friends were very fond of telling us that there are 400,000,000 acres of land in Queensland, and therefore there is no lack of country there upon which to place settlers.
– That is so.
– Undoubtedly. But is that land available for settlement? If so, why have previous State Governments spent over £1,000,000 in re-purchas ing estates on which to place settlers, and why has the present Government of Queensland obtained authority from Parliament to spend £500,000 a year in that way? If there is such a plenitude of land available for settlement, how does it arise that in almost every portion of the State people are clamouring for the Government to buy land from private owners for the purposes . of settlement?
– Would the honorable senator mind telling us what he means by making land “available”?
– Surely the demand which has sprung up in Queensland ‘ - I do n5t refer to any of the other States - ought to explain the idea of “ available” to the honorable senator.
– But it does not.
– If there is so much land available on which an ordinary man might make a living, and which can be obtained from the State at a very low price, how does it come about that there are hundreds and thousands of people in Queensland clamouring for the Government to buy estates at prices varying from £3 to £10 an acre? It is simply because the land which has not been taken ‘up is, for the present, beyond the pale of cultivation. There are millions of acres of the best land of the State along our railway lines held by monopolists, and while this is the case we ought not to compel people to go to the back blocks,, far from the railways, where roads are bad, ‘heavy clearing has to be done, and the land probably of an indifferent character, with an insufficient rainfall. Our own people will not go to such land, and yet we are asked to invite immi-grants from Great Britain who have no experience of the climate or conditions. As I say, our own agriculturists refuse to settle on such land, and if people come to Australia and settle there, they are doomed to failure.
– What does the honorable senator suggest should be done with this land?
– I think the wisest thing to do would be to promote settlement in the natural fashion by bringing under occupation and cultivation the lands along the railway lines already built. Here we have the policy of the Socialists and the anti-Socialists contrasted. The antiSocialists will assist neither in providing employ- . ment in factories nor in breaking up the big estates, and yet. they propose to bring here.- a number of immigrants and dump them on me labour market. That is the. happygolucky policy which those gentlemen advocate. Our policy is exactly the opposite. We say there must be more population, but that to induce people to come here we must provide outlets for their energies by providing land and works ; and the only way in which that can be done is by a system of high protection, and the breaking up of land monopoly. I do rot propose to say anything further on the subject, because doubtless we shall later on have an opportunity to thresh out the whole question and arrive at a conclusion of some sort
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– * move -
That the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’* opening speech be presented to His Excellency by the President and such honorable senators as may desire to accompany him.
I may be permitted to say that an arrangement has been made with His Excellency to receive the Address-in-Reply. at 11.30 a.m. to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I remind honorable senators that the time at which His Excellency will receive the AddressinReply is 11.30 to-morrow. Carriages will be here at 11 o’clock to convey as many senators as may desire to accompany the President to Government House.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That Senator Pearce be appointed Chairman of Committees.
– I thank honorable members for the honour they have conferred upon me in appointing me to the position of Chairman of Committees. I can assure honorable senators that I appreciate the honour very highly. I shall do my utmost, by my action in the Chair, to prove that I am worthy of the position, and I trust to have the co-operation, as I feel sure I shall have, of honorable senators on all sides of the Chamber, in carrying out the arduous duties which will devolve upon me.
– I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Wednesday next.
I may say that this is only a formal motion, because, in the meantime, there will be a prorogation by proclamation.
– How are we to get the information we have asked for ?.
– I will take an opportunity to send the information which has been asked for by honorable senators to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 February 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19070221_senate_3_36/>.