3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to make an intimation to the Senate. As honorable senators are possibly aware from the press, a motion has’ been tabled in the- House of Repre- sentatives which constitutes a challenge to the Government. Our practice in such circumstances has been to adjourn until such time as the challenge has been determined one way or the other; Ordinarily the Government would have felt under an obligation to follow the beaten track, but we recognise that there is now before the Senate ‘a motion which in itself affords an opportunity for any criticism which any honorable senator may desire to direct towards either the Government or its policy.
– The honorable . senator did not supply us with copies of his statement.
– The press did.
– The press got copies of the statement, and why should not we ?
– Order ! .
– I probably would be out of order in replying to the interjection in the course of the announcement I am making. As the motion before the Senate affords to honorable senators an opportunity of offering such criticism as they may desire to direct towards the Government and its policy, and as it seems quite reasonable to assume that they will wish to avail themselves of the opportunity, it is better that the debate in the Senate “should take place simultaneously with the one proceeding in the other House rather than that after the latter debate has terminated public time should be consumed by a debate which probably might be similar in character in this House. For that reason, and with a desire to economise’ time and to proceed with public business, I propose’” to invite the Senate to dispose of the motion before it, and when that debate has terminated, presuming that it is done before the debate in the other House is concluded! to ask the Senate to adjourn. I desire to conclude with this intimation, that iri accordance with the principle underlying a wellestablished practice there can be no Government business transacted here while the motion in the other House remains undetermined.
– -I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, how it is that members of the Senate have not been supplied with copies of the statement he made here yesterday on behalf of the Government?
– The statement I made yesterday was not tabled. The motion I submitted was in connexion with a paper of an entirely different character.
– How is it that the press got copies of the statement immediately the Prime Minister rose to speak?
– I can only add that owing to my inexperience in this position I was not aware that the document would not be printed. Otherwise I certainly would have taken steps to see that every honorable senator was furnished with a printed copy.
-It was printed and handed to the press yesterday.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, now, whether he will rectify straight away the omission made with regard to supplying members of the Senate with copies of the Ministerial statement with which the members of another place and the representatives of the press were supplied yesterday ? I think that a gross slight was inflicted upon, the Senate, and that we should not proceed to discuss the statement until we are supplied with copies. It is essential that we should know what is tn it before we discuss it.
– I have already stated my regret that I did not take a course of action which would undoubtedly have been to the convenience of honorable senators. But I wish to add, in view of the question that has been put, that there was no obligation, beyond that of courtesy, upon me to table that paper, and, having apologized for my omission in that regard, I need not do more.
– The honorable senator can rectify the error.
– If it will be of any value to honorable senators to have copies of the paper handed to them as early as possible, I will see whether that can be done. But those who were anxious to know what is contained in the document have long before this had an opportunity of perusing it in the public press.
– A convenient way of meeting the wishes of honorable senators with regard to the Ministerial statement would be to have an early circulation of the Hansard proof.
– I have not any knowledge as to whether the statement is in print or not, but I am taking steps to ascertain, and, if printed copies- are obtainable, I will make them available at once.
– I desire to ask the leader of the Senate, without notice, if it is the intention of the Government at an early stage this session to introduce a Bill to remedy the defects which have been recently discovered by a decision of the High Court in the Australian Industries Preservation Act, otherwise known as the Anti-Trust Act?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question. May I be allowed to say that the reason why I have been asking honorable senators to give notice of questions is because of the intimation that, in the circumstances I have outlined, it is not possible for the Government to proceed with business ?
– I desire to put a -question to the Vice-President of the Executive Council which I hope he will not answer in the same way as he has been answering other questions. I wish to ask him whether he will take into early consideration the question of binding -together al] the statutory rules which are now, and have been for a considerable time past, clrculated in leaflets amongst honorable senators. I asked this question during the term of office of the late Government, and obtained a promise that the suggestion would be carried out. I believe thar steps have been taken to that end. But may I be allowed to point out that it would be extremely convenient not only to every member of Parliament, but to members of the public also, that these statutory rules should be bound together and indexed. We all know that much of our legislation is affected by the statutory rules to which I refer.
– The matter referred to by the honorable senator relates to a question of convenience which necessarily commends itself to every one. If my honorable friend will give me a few days in which to see what, if anything, is being done, I shall be glad to give him a more definite answer.
– Relating to a question put by me during last session as to whether the Government of the Commonwealth would take steps to consult the Admiralty, as has been done by Canada, with the object of securing experts to visit Australia to ascertain what oil deposits suitable for supplying fuel for marine engine propulsion exist in Australia, I now desire to ask whether the Government has taken any action, and, if so, what action has been taken ?
– I ask the honorable senator to repeat his question at a later sitting.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, a question relating to the Tariff. I noticed in the newspaper the other day that the Minister was making inquiries as to the number of anomalies existing in the Tariff. I desire to ask him whether he has completed his inquiries, and, if so, whether he can give the Senate the assurance that a Bill for the rectification of Tariff anomalies will.be introduced as soon as possible in the interests of manufacturers seriously affected ?
– I ask my honorable friend to be good enough to give notice of his question.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question, without notice, and I shall state in a few sentences my reason for putting it.
– I must point out that the honorable senator cannot debate the matter.
– T am not going to debate the matter. But I ‘have’ been pained from reading in the press the intimidation
– Order. The honorable senator is now attempting to deliver a speech upon the subject. He must confine himself to asking a question.
– Cannot I say, sir-
– I cannot have the honorable senator introducing the matter inthat way.
– Cannot I be allowed to state what I have read in the press ?
– I have pointed out to the honorable senator that it is not in order for him to put a question and deliver an address at the same time. The honorable senator will recognise that he commenced by expressing an opinion of his own in regard to something that has appeared in the press. He is not in order in se doing in asking a question. If he will contine himself to putting his question he will be in order.
– I do not wish, sir, to come into conflict with you. If I had the newspaper to which I refer with me I should be allowed to read it.
– The honorable senator can give the substance of the statement to which he refers.
– The substance of it is this : I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether, in view of the necessity for the removal of all doubt as to the purity and adequacy of the water supply at the proposed Federal Capital, and in view of the fact that the experts who have supplied a report upon the subject are the servants of the Government of the State of New South Wales, the Government of the Commonwealth will obtain a report from independent experts who are in no way connected with the State Government?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of his question.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether any further progress has been made in connexion with the erection of a wireless telegraphy station at Fremantle?
– Will the honorable senator please give notice of his question?
– May I ask the Vice President of the Executive Coun cil, without notice, whether the instructions that have been given- to Colonel Foxton, who is now proceeding to England to attend an Imperial Conference, cover inquiries into the question of utilizing, aerial navigation for defence purposes?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of his question.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether the Government propose to take Parliament into their confidence at any time as to the instructions issued to Colonel Foxton, who is to be their representative at the Imperial Conference in London?
– I ask for notice inthis case also.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he will place upon the Library table the files in connexion with the case of P. J. Ley den, a postal employ 6 in Western Australia?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of his question.
– I ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council, without notice, whether any papers have been presented to the Government, and can be tabled by them, showing the cost incurred by the Postal Commission before and after the resignation of three of its members ?
– Will the honorablesenator please give notice of his question ?
– I desire to ask theMinister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, who is responsible for the design of the new telephone exchange, Adelaide, and whether any suggestions .as to the design were invited from theSuperintendent of Public Buildings, South Australia, or whether any suggestions; offered by that gentleman were accepted bv the designer of the building?
– Will the honorable senator please give notice of his question?
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
COASTAL SHIPPING TRADE
Affiliation of Steam- ship Owners and Coal Merchants.
An important development in connexion with the coastal shipping trade was announced to-day, when, at a conference held between the New South Wales Coastal Steam-ship Owners’ Association and the Sydney coal merchants, it was arranged that, with a view to consolidating, the two bodies should affiliate on all . matters of mutual interest. The shipping companies include all those engaged in the coastal trade, and the coal interests concerned are the Howard Smith Co., B. Byrnes, Warburton and Sons, Jones Bros., and others?
– Will the honorable senator be good enough to repeat his question on a future date ?
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill providing for the amendment of the Constitution for the purpose of enabling the Parliament to nationalize monopolies.
Bill presented, and read a. first time.
Debate resumed from 23rd June (vide page 269) on motion by Senator Millen -
That the paper (Further Correspondence regarding Imperial Naval and Military Conference) be printed.
– I take advantage of this opportunity to make as few remarks as I possibly can in the circumstances, because, in my opinion, the statement made by the representative of the Government in the Senate is of such a non-committal character that it is almost impossible to lay hold of it anywhere. It is as slippery as an eel. Whenever I attempt to get hold of a definite statement in it, it eludes me like a myth. But there are certain peculiarities about it. It is a written, typewritten, or printed document; there is no possibility of getting away from it, or getting at it, or, as I am reminded, of getting a copy of it. It would appear that the Government as at present constituted, must put everything in black and white.
– They have black and white in the Government, now that they are united.
– That is so; they have the black and the white together in the Government. There is another peculiarity about this Government statement : it is three fold, in three divisions, or three parts. It might easily be imagined that the first part is intended to represent the Deakin section of the Government.
– The language is certainly Deakin’s.
– It is Deakinesque, no doubt. It deals with the industrial life of the Commonwealth of Australia. The second part is the Cook part; it deals with defence, and the third is the Forrest part dealing with finance. Honorable senators will see how nicely it all works in. One portion of the statement is supposed to rope in all the members who have in the past followed or are likely in the future to follow Mr. Deakin. The second part, of course, represents what was at one time the Opposition, both in the House of Representatives and in this Chamber; that is to say, the defence section. I think that the defence of Australia, from an Australian point of view, has fallen into very feeble hands when it has got into those of Mr. Joseph Cook and Senators Millen, Gray, and Walker.
– We are allpeaceful men, like Senator Pearce.
– I shall not mention the gallant colonel, Senator Neild, who is left out in the cold, and seems to be an army to himself in all his glory.
– He may make it warm for the honorable senator yet.
– The hotter the honorable senator makes it for me and for every one else the more pleasant we shall all feel. All the harm the honorable senator will do anybody is of little consequence. If I were to have an opponent at an election or in a battle I should pray the Almighty he should be the honorable senator.
– Because I am the only man who would give the honorable senator decent treatment.
– The next section of the Ministerial statement deals with finance, and whom does it represent as a statement before the public? It represents what was the Corner Party in another branch of the Legislature of the Commonwealth. So far as I am aware we never had that party represented in the Senate. There has always been the Labour Party and the other party in the Senate, but in another place they had three parties opposed to the Labour Party, and when they came together they had to frame a policy to satisfy the three sections. Whether they have succeeded or not, time will tell. With respect to the first portion of the Ministerial statement which relates to the industrial life of the Commonwealth, I think that those who are toiling under difficulties and disadvantages in the different States will have to continue to do so for many years to come.
– No matter what Government may be in office.
– If a proper Government were in office and the people were represented as they ought to be - and as I hope they soon will be - something would be done in the very near future.
– It is merely a fight for office.
– Is that all? Then the honorable senator speaks as a disappointed man.
– Not at all. I do not want office.
– The honorable senator should not talk about a “ fight for office,” seeing that no matter how strenuously he may have fought in this Chamber, he has received nothing by way of reward.
– The public have come to the conclusion that it is merely a fight between the “ins” and the “outs.”
– The honorable senator is the bottle-holder for his party.
– The party with which the honorable senator is associated cannot deceive the public much longer.
– I am very glad to have the acknowledgment of such an able authority as Senator Sayers that recent events represented merely a fight for office, because that admission implies that there was no matter of principle involved.
– In any case, the honorable senator’s partv wants office.
– The statement submitted by the Vice-President of the
Executive Council, when subjected to analysis, proves the accuracy of Senator Sayers’ assertion.
– But why did he give the show away?
– I do not know. That is his business.
– I have no show to give away. The public know the show.
– The public know that there was never any fight for office on the part of the Labour Party.
– Then what is all this squirming about?
– There is no squirming on our part. The honorable senator seems to be doing all the squirming, and I am quite satisfied to have him always sitting directly opposite to me in this chamber.
– He is merely repeating what he reads in the morning newspapers.
– I was about to discuss with all seriouness the proposals which the Government intend to submit for the purpose of alleviating the disabilities of those friends of Senator Sayers in Tasmania who are working long hours for very small wages.
– Particularly the printers in the labour newspaper office.
SenatorFindley. -That statement is absolutely incorrect The PRESIDENT.- Order !
– I thank you, Mr.. President, for intervening. The bear gardenis not on this side of the Senate. So far as Tasmania is concerned. Senator Mulcahy need not say much. He is a Liberar now. Of course, he has always been a Liberal, and he is the same kind of Liberal to-day that he has been always. Honorable senators will understand what I meanwhen I say that. He is now associated with the other Liberals with whom he should have been associated years ago - with the black and tan Liberal Party. What do the Government propose to do?
– They propose to do worse than nothing. Their attitude irresistibly reminds me of a man holding up a bunch of carrots before a donkey as a temptation to greater exertion. They are holding a prize before the electors of Australia, and telling them to follow it as longas they can, and that if they do so they will get something when they catch it. But the electors who are able to catch anything- that has been done by the Honorable Alfred Deakin will have to be much smarter than ordinary citizens.
– The honorable senator supported him for seven years.
– I did not catch what the honorable senator said, but I suppose it was not of much consequence.
– The honorable senator’s party ought to be expert judges seeing that they followed Mr. Deakin for seven years.
– But when we found him out, we thought we would give the honorable senator a turn at following him. I hope that he will find Mr. Deakin out for himself. It has taken nearly thirty years to discover what policy the Honorable Alfred Deakin ever earnestly followed. He has swallowed every politician in Victoria who has been associated with him. Sir Graham Berry, the Honorable Duncan Gillies, Sir George Turner, and the Honorable Allan McLean, were all devoured long ago.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Oh, yes, and Senator Fraser was swallowed long ago, but because he did not prove an agreeable pill he has been surreptitiously parted with. I am sure that that honorable senator must acknowledge that if ever there was a political anthropophagus in Australia it is the Honorable Alfred Deakin.
– The honorable senator is not familiar with his own language. If he will speak Gaelic I shall be able to understand him.
– The honorable senator is very serious at the present time. But with all those whom the Honorable Alfred Deakin has swallowed-
– He is very thin on it.
– All cannibalistic creatures are thin. They are never anything else. Mr. Deakin, according to the statement of himself and his own supporters, is now attempting to swallow Mr. Joseph Coot. I am afraid that he will undertake a much more formidable task when he attempts to swallow Sir John Forrest.
– All this is very funny, but it is very silly.
– The honorable senator is a good judge of what is silly. He has been accustomed to silliness all his life.
– Why does not the honorable senator get to his subject?
– Yes. Why does not he discuss politics and cease abuse ?
– If I am out of order, no doubt Mr. President will tell me so. If honorable senators opposite think that I am out of order why do they not say so?
– We do.
– Then why does not the honorable senator raise a point of order, and see how it will be decided. I am the best judge of what I have to say,, and not honorable senators opposite. They have to listen respectfully if it be possible for them to do so. I am merely giving some reasons for the indefinite character of the Ministerial policy which has been foreshadowed in the statement of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. I am about to deal with the devouring attributes of that great leader. Mr. Alfred Deakin.
– The honorable senator has not given us the reason why His own party followed him for seven years.
– We did not follow him. Indeed, I have often, heard the honorable senator say that we pushed Mr. Deakin along.
– I say so still, and I stand corrected.
– We shall be with Mr. Deakin again when we think thaihe is doing what is right.
– Never again.
– No, because he will never be right, and, very probably, even if he appeared to be right, he would never be trusted. Even honorable gentlemen on the other side do not trust him. They cannot take anything from him now unless it is in black and white, and even the Minister of Defence, as he ought to have done, could not go to England because he could not trust the Prime Minister out of his sight.
– No; he could not trust the Opposition for a pair
– The” Opposition have always stuck to their policy. They have always adopted the same methods, and that is more than the honorable senator can honestly say. Coming, to that portion of the policy which is to relieve industrial inequalities and distress, what is proposed to be done?
– The Government are going to start a Federal Labour Bureau.
– No; they are going to appoint an Inter-State Commis- sion. I ask honorable senators to turn up the Constitution.
– They have turnedup the Labour Party.
– The Labour Party are on as solid a foundation as they have ever been on, and it was always too solid for the honorable senator.
– The Labour Party have always been for sale.
– Long may they stay on it.
– Yes, and they will build on it, too. They will build safely and securely, and the people know that their trust will be well kept by the representatives of labour in the State and Federal Parliaments. If honorable senators will turn up the Constitution, section 100 to section 104, they will find what the Inter-State Commission was intended for. I do not know that it would not have been a wise thing if it had been appointed long ago, but it has nothing to do with the adjustment of the industrial affairs of Australia. According to this statement, the Government have communicated with the States to give them authority; but, so far as I can find, there is nothing in the Constitution which would make such control of industrial matters legal, even with their consent.
– - And nothing forbids.
– If the honorable senator will turn up the different decisions of the High Court, and see how the Constitution has been interpreted, he will know whether a statement such as “ nothing forbids “ is of any use to the working population. There is scarcely an instance where a State difficulty, as compared with an Inter-State difficulty, has come before the High Court that it has not strictly interpreted the Constitution from the InterState point of view, and if the matter dealt only with a State, the legislation has been declared ultra vires every time.
– Because the Constitution was not sufficiently definite.
– Because the Constitution is ambiguous in that sense. So far as the functions of the Inter-State Commission are concerned, it is exactly the same. If industrial conditions in Tasmania, or Western Australia, or Victoria differed from those existing in any other State, and the Inter-State Commission were established and appealed to, no matter what the States might say, if a case were brought before the High Court without an amendment of the Constitution having been made, it would certainly decide that the Inter-State Commission had no legal or constitutional authority to act in what was purely a State matter.
– Nothing forbids inquiry into these matters.
– The honorable senator is a great constitutional authority.
– And has nearly always been right in his contention.
– The honorable senator is far better in addressing the ladies of the Women’s National League than in interpreting the Constitution or finding new lamps for old ones. All the light that would ever come from a lamp which had been invented or trimmed by the honorable senator would not be worth two lucifer matches.
– Simply because he is not a trimmer.
– He has been trimming so much in his time that he has cut right down to the selvedge, and he cannot go any farther. At the present time, this Parliament has no authority to give to the Inter -State Commission any power other than that set out in the sections of the Constitution I have cited. Do you, sir, think that a Government containing seven lawyers ‘do not know that fact as well as any layman in Australia?
– They have not Senator St. Ledger in their ranks.
– No, they only want him to complete the octagon, and then the illumination would be so brilliant that it would dazzle the whole world.
– It is a comfort in all the honorable senator’s difficulties.
– It would be like putting sulphuric acid into magnesia - it would blind everything in the vicinity. As the Inter-State Commission would have no power to do the things which are indicated by the Government, what is the use of them trying to hoodwink the people? When a proposal was brought before the Parliament and the people by the late Government, that theConstitution should be amended for the purpose of giving this Parliament the power to do those things, there was an appeal of a substantial character advanced. The people are getting tired of this kind of paltering with’ legislation and with their feelings and aspirations, and the time is coming when the present Ministers will be no longer in a position to’ hoodwink the public as they have done. Then they propose to establish bureaux. For what purpose?
– “The study of unemployment.”
– What are they doing ?
– What did the Labour Government do?
– Why does the honorable senator ask such silly questions? How long had we to do anything ? If the honorable senator had had only time to ascend the summit of a hill and look down into the valley before he was fired off, and somebody then asked what he had done, he would simply say that he had had a look round. We had a look round, to see what we could do, and we made our propositions according to the information we obtained.
– He was afraid that the Labour Government might do something.
– Yes, but I shall come to that by-and-by. I intend to give the real reasons why the late Government were put off the Treasury bench, and honorable senators on the other side will not be able to deny my statement. At the present time I only want to ridicule the idea of the Commonwealth Government establishing bureaux of any description - labour, agricultural, or other. They are not taking the right steps to develop Australia to make institutions of that description effective.
– They are afraid of State rights.
– I do “not know but that they should be. I do not think that there is any necessity for me to dwell much longer on the Deakin - MaugerHume Cook -Crouch- Salmon portion of the Government statement. It is not up to much. It is not definite. It says a lot, and does nothing.
– Rather ‘like the honorable senator’s speech to-day
– Whose fault is that?
– I am not in a hurry, and I am sure that the Minister ought to be grateful even for that. I am making the most I can out of the material at my disposal. It is very like the picture in the Sydney Star the other day. It showed the Hon. Alfred Deakin and the Hon. Joseph Cook, with three legs, trying to build a wall. I now come to the other section of the Ministerial statement. Who, in this branch of the Legislature, is going to father the defence proposals of the Government? They are going to do great things. They have a defence scheme, and have sent a representative to a Conference to be held very shortly in Great Britain. To my mind, out of the Cabinet they could not have selected a more’ unpopular or less effective representative.
– Nonsense !
– Yes ; the honorable senator has talked a lot- of nonsense in his time. What are the qualifications of the Minister who has been despatched Home? Did not the very invitation to the Conference require the attendance of the Minister of Defence in every self-governing Dominion ?
– New Zealand sent its Prime Minister.
– He embodied the whole virtue of .the Cabinet and Parliament, and, of course, he had to go Home to raise the wind. Why did not the Minister of Defence for Australia go Home too ? Is it because his knowledge of defence matters is of such intrinsic value that it was necessary for him to stay in Australia ? Were there no other members of the Cabinet who could have occupied his position while he was in Great Britain? No; but, as I have already suggested, who would watch the slippery Prime Minister if Mr. Cook were away ? That is exactly the position as it appears to me.
– They go on the principle of “set a thief to catch a thief.”
– And the principle of set a thief to watch a thief. I do not like to apply such rude and vulgar terms to such honorable gentlemen, but still, if honorable senators opposite are not pleased with what I have said, I will apply the remark. Because, sir, the members of this Government have stolen nearly every policy that has ever been advocated by any party in Australia - even the policy_ of the Labour Party - and have embellished them.
– Surely the honorable senator does not find fault with that?
– I do not find* fault with that, but if anybody stoleSenator Gray for a mantelpiece ornament,, hung a 56-lb. weight around his neck, and threw him into the Yarra, he would not brag about it. Neither has the Labour
Party any respect for those who steal its policy,and then turn it out with such encumbrances as will make it ineffective or useless if brought into operation. We know all these things, and when we find a Government stealing a policy, and then smothering it in detail, we have no admiration for them. Now about this matter of defence.
– The honorable senator had better “ return to his muttons.”
– The honorable senator who interrupts, no doubt, knows a lot about the subject. At least, he looks as if he knows about it.
– Why was not Senator Neild sent Home?
– It was a great reflection on the honorable senator’s ability and knowledge that he was not included in the Cabinet, and sent to represent Australia at the Defence Conference. The unanimous acknowledgment of that statement by honorable senators ought to please Senator Neild, great though his vanity may be. Inquiries have been made here to-day as to the instructions given to the representative of the Government who has just gone to England. No one knows yet what the instructions were. Apparently they were secret instructions, and I suppose that Colonel Foxton is going to a secret Conference, and no one will ever know what takes place. We do not know whether the instructions represented the views of the Corner party, the Cook party, or the Deakin party; orwhether they were a hybridized conglomeration that no one could understand.
– The honorable senator should say that slowly; we should like to have the band parts.
– The Conference will be held, and I suppose we* must expect great results from it. But the Government are already committed. They have despatched a cablegram to the Imperial Government, stating that they are prepared to present to Great Britain a Dreadnought, or something equivalent to it. They did that while Parliament was not sitting, and without consulting Parliament in reference to it. I am not going to say that there are not enough foolish representatives or misrepresentatives of the people in theFederal Parliament, to commit themselves to an absurdity of this description, while we ourselves are absolutely defenceless. New Zealand has offered aDreadnought; and what an astonishment it will be to the people of Great Britain and to His Gracious Majesty the King when they know that the people of New Zealand already owe £69, 000,000, and have not a. warship of their own, nor any adequate defence in the whole Dominion, and when they find, nevertheless, that these people have the cheek - I will even call it the impertinence - to propose to give something to somebody else. The position is exactly the same in Australia. We owe the financial institutions of Great Britain between£240,000,000 and£250,000,000.
– The best investment on earth.
– Yes, for them.
– For us, too.
– The honorable senator knows that it is a good investment for the financial institutions. See ‘how readily he assents to a proposition that has some common sense in it. The best investments that the financial institutions of Great Britain have are their Australian investments, because here they have the most enterprising and the most honest people in the world to deal with, and the simplest people, loo.
– Cock-a-doodle doo !
– Any rooster that makes an exhibition of himself on such an occasion is, of course, merely holding himself up to public obloquy.
– Is the honorable senator looking in a mirror?
– The honorable senator has become very thin-skinned since he began to rub shoulders with the members of the Employers’ Union, and apparently he does not quite know where he is. There is no necessity to test the loyalty of the people of Australia. That has been tested long ago. There are evidences in abundance, that it would be the great desire, not only of the British people and the British Government, but of the Admiralty itself, that Australia and all the outlying Dominions should take steps to provide for their own protection, instead of offering to Great Britain something which will very likely in ten or twelve years be useless. What are we doing? We are offering Great Britain a Dreadnought, and Great Britain will have to lend us the money with which to build it; she will have to build it; she will have to man it; and she will have to pay for the maintenance of it. She cannot find the men to man it in Australia, because we have not men trained here; nor are we likely to have men trained for the naval service as long as we continue as we are doing at present. Now, the late Government had a- definite policy for the protection of Australia, and for the assistance of the Empire in that direction. They w.ere prepared to pay for the service out of the revenue of Australia, and the people of Australia were quite prepared to find the money. Up to the present time we have not paid more than 5s. 3d. per head for our own defence, whilst almost every other country in the world pays four times that amount. The people of Great Britain pay five times as much. Yet honorable senators supporting the Government wish to keep on in our present path, and to give away a couple of millions in a direction that will create a .burden for us but will afford no relief to the heavily taxed people of Great Britain, who will have to maintain andman the Dreadnought afterwards. Lord Tweedmouth himself, when First Lord of the Admiralty, said that the best thing that Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia could do was to build torpedo boats, submarines, and similar vessels to endeavour to protect themselves and to assist Great Britain in that way. In face of the evidence that that is the right thing to do, the policy of the present Government is both foolhardy and foolish in every respect. Then they propose to build docks at different places.
– The honorable senator is trying to “ dock “ the Government programme.
– It wants docking, scraping, and treating in various other ways before it will be of any use to this ^country, and the sooner the honorable senator tackles the job and does something of that description, the better it will be for the Government. I see from the Ministerial statement that docks and ship-yards are to be established. Where are they going to put the ship-vards, and what are they for ? T. doubt whether there is a member of the Government who knows the difference between a dock-yard, a ship-vard, and a foundry. Indeed, they do not know the difference between a flat-iron and a blacksmith’s anvil.
– Does the honorable senator know?
– I am not making professions of knowledge. I am making statements which it will be for honorable senators opposite to refute if they can. One ship-yard in Australia would be sufficient to build all the vessels we shall want for many years to come, and would be a very effective place for that kind of work. From the defence point of view, all the dock-yard accommodation that is required in this country is in the form of decks for the repair and maintenance of the mercantile marine, and not for our defence. We want very little accommodation for that purpose. The policy of the late Government included all that was necessary in that respect. Then we come- to the corner party section - the Forrest-Irvine-Quick section - I cannot think of all their names.
– The Tory Party.
– We may call them the Tory Party. That party was rather strong with regard to financial policy. But what is the financial policy of the Government? If any one can, out of this Ministerial statement, tell me what the financial proposals of the Government are, I shall give him credit for great wisdom and discrimination. I cannot ascertain. Something is going to be done in the distant future, and there is a hazy reference to it.
– The reference is to a temporary arrangement at that.
– No one knows what it is. Not long ago the Prime Minister and many of his supporters declared that the time had arrived when there ought to be a separation between the financial affairs of the States and of the Commonwealth. But the Government are still keeping the two mixed up. The late Government had a definite financial policy, which was just both to the Commonwealth and the States. Let me remind honorable senators that when, the Convention which brought the Commonwealth into existence was sitting, the Customs and Excise revenue of all Australia was ,£6,000,000. Onequarter was supposed to go to the Commonwealth, and three-quarters, under the Constitution, had to be paid to the States. That is to say, the Commonwealth was to retain ,£1,500,000, and £4,500,000 was to go to the States. After nine years the late Government were prepared to give to the States out of the Commonwealth revenue a minimum of -£5.000,000, with £250,000 in addition for Western Australia, making the latter sum a disappearing amount under a sliding scale. That was the lowest sum that the States were to get, and they were to be paid that amount per capita. That was definite, and we had not to wait for a Premiers’ Conference to dictate anything. Then after the expenses of the Government of the Commonwealth were taken out of the Commonwealth’s share of the revenue anything left was also to be divided per capita amongst the States. Is there any such definiteness in the policy of the present Government? I cannot find it if there is. I shall not attempt to find what is not there, but I propose to tell honorable senators why, in my opinion, and in the opinion of a great majority of the people of Australia, the late Government was defeated.” It was because they had definite propositions to put before the country with respect to the raising of revenue, and with respect to the ultimate settlement of people, not only of Australians but of people from other parts of the world, on the lands- of Australia. The late Government in their proposals included: a progressive tax on the unimproved value of land. Where is the opposition to that coming from? Is it not from the financial institutions, and the large and wealthy land-holders of Australia, backed up by the Employers’ Union and the Chambers of Commerce? They have got the present Government in the hollow of their hand, and will keep them there or snuff them out as they think fit. That is exactly the position the present Government is in. And it is because the late Government were not prepared to submit to the dictation of any section of the community that it was not thought desirable they should hold the reins of government any longer. Then we are told that there are great proposals in the wind ; the taking over of the Northern Territory, the building of the Federal Capital, and thecost of the Western Australian railway “ when the construction is authorized.” There is a doubt about it. Sir John Forrest was not strong enough or could net exert sufficient influence to have that proviso omitted from the Ministerial statement. All these great expenses are to be incurred, but it is said that in view of the expenditure necessary within the next financial year some new system of financing will have’ to be adopted. And what is the suggestion? That we should go on to the money market and borrow money for what the Government call reproductive works. So long as I have the privilege of representing South Australia in the Federal Parliament, I shall always strenuously oppose any borrowing policy for anything of that kind. There will have to be some definiteness about it. Are the people of Australia not in a position now to pay for the improvements required in the telegraphic and telephonic services, and to remedy the defects existing in our postal arrangements ? If within the last nine years the Commonwealth Government had spent the money on these services which they had the power to spend, instead of giving it back to the States to be squandered, they would all have been up to date. Because we did not do that it is proposed that we should adopt a borrowing policy toright what we permitted to go wrong, and what, to a great extent, had been allowed to go wrong before we took over the Post and Telegraph Departments of the States. So long as I am a member of the Senate a borrowing policy for any such purpose will have my opposition. In common with the members of the party with whom I am associated, I am prepared to do all I possibly can to put these services into an effective condition, but the people of Australia will have to bear the necessary expense, and must maintain them out -of their own pockets. There is to be no borrowing for works of a perishable nature. We are not going to do the same as they did in some of the States when they bought guns, which now lie buried in the sand, although the money borrowed to purchase them is still owing, and interest on it has still to be paid.
– Money was borrowed for the purchase of blank cartridge in some of the States.
– Some of the States borrowed millions for the introduction of immigrants, who, after arrival in Australia, remained here only a f,ew days. Thousands of them are now in New Zealand. We are not going to have borrowing in the Commonwealth for a policy’ of that description. It may be necessary in the future history of the Commonwealth to borrow money, but it will be for conversion, and not for the construction of public works that perish in time, and without provision for redemption.
– I understand that the New Zealand Government was kept in office by the Labour Party.
– I do not know what the honorable senator is referring to. He must be in a fog. or a high wind: he seems to have very hazy ideas of what he is talking about. There is in New Zealand ho Labour Party worth speaking of. ‘ After
Mr. Ballance came into power the Governments of the Dominion were so liberal as to make it unnecessary that a Labour Party should grow up there, but as they become Conservative no doubt the necessity for a Labour Party in New Zealand will arise in the near future. If it had not been for such illustrious personages as Senators Gray, Walker, Pulsford, and Neild, who turned Conservative at the first breath,’ there would have been no necessity for a Labour Party in Australia. But the Labour Party has arisen out of the necessities of Australia, and it is going to remain and to grow. I think it would be a waste of breath to endeavour to criticise any further such an ambiguous statement as has been put before the people of Australia by the present Government. I will, therefore, condude by again congratulating them on the fusion that has been effected. I am delighted to see such old and doughty opponents as Senators Millen and Best sitting cheek by jowl. How long they will agree in brotherly amity is impossible for me, or for any one else, to say, and how long Senators Gray and Walker will live in the embraces of Senators Trenwith and Keating, is a puzzle which the Sphinx could scarcely solve.
– What about Senator Mulcahy ?
- Senator Mulcahy is like the innocent child who sleeps peacefully on the breast of any foster mother. It would be impossible to tell who was the honorable senator’s real political mother from any votes he has given or any speech he has delivered in the Senate. Whether the honorable senator is a Liberal, a Conservative, a Radical, or a nondescript, I am unable to say. I would ask some honorable senator who has a better knowledge of these things to make an attempt to do so after I have finished. So far’ as the Opposition is concerned, any measures that are in the best interests of Australia will receive our ardent and faithful support, and anything we consider to the detriment of the interests of the Commonwealth will receive our most serious and strenuous opposition. With the best wishes for my friends in the Government, I shall be satisfied with what I have already said.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New ‘ South Wales) [3.50]. - I feel that it is a task of no ordinary character to attempt to traverse the miscellaneous observations of the distinguished senator who has just resumed his seat. I offer to my honorable friend my most sincere condolences in connexion with the plaintive wail from the ejected from “ the tart-shop.”
– The honorable senator should not” break down over it.
– I feel almost inclined to break down from manly sympathy with my honorable friend in his affliction. In what I have to say, I shall! speak from the stand-point of the candid friend and the independent member. What I have to say may not be wholly pleasing to any one; but I hope there will be a few little bits of pleasure for some, and a few little bits of grit for others. Senator McGregor has just informed us of the splendid services that he and his party are prepared to render to the Commonwealth. How differently that reads from the statement which the honorable senator made eight years ago, from that well-worn bit of carpet opposite where I stand, when he uttered those memorable words that must always live to the condemnation, of himself and his colleagues, “ The Labour Party are up for sale.’”’ They would be up for sale to-day if there were any takers, but there-are none. In the few things I have to say, I shall begin bymaking a few observations for the benefit of my friends Senators Millen and Best. I am not satisfied with everything that has happened lately.
– We knew the honorable senator would not be.
– Was the honorable senator ever satisfied ?
– I was quite satisfied that Senator McGregor was pumping hard in a sincere effort to talk sense this afternoon ; and I am also satisfied that he did not succeed in talking sense. I have, in times past, invited the Senate to support propositions which, on at least three occasions, have been supported unanimously or by large majorities in favour of a more adequate representation by Ministers in this Chamber. The objection I raised before in this connexion I raise again today.
– With greater emphasis.
– In a Chamber that contains half the number of members constituting the other branch of the Legislature–
– It is too late to go home now, and the honorable senator would not be sent, anyway.
– I am not proposing to catch a train before 5 o’clock to-morrow afternoon, so that I am not in the least kind of hurry ; and when honorable senators have done, I will be prepared to go on. But, as the bo’sun -used to say in Midshipman Easy, I am not prepared to waste His Majesty’s .breath in shouting against a crowd.
– Is the honorable senator senior or junior in the service to Colonel Foxton?
– I do not know, and it does not matter, where the military seniority lies. In this Chamber, intellectual superiority is of much greater consequence. The Senate has again and again decided that Governments should bc represented here by at least two salaried Ministers - that is, Ministers designated by the Constitution. But* to-day that condition of affairs does not exist. In. this Chamber we have one Minister known to the Constitution, and another who is unknown to it. The leader of the Opposition -seeing that he has been in the position of “ fifth wheel of the coach “ upon two occasions - might very well hold his speech, because when he was not a Minister he was very pleased to support my motions in favour of securing fuller representation of the Government in the Senate. I need scarcely point out that this Chamber contains half the number of members that is to be found in another place. Yet, whilst in that Chamber there are no less than six Ministers designated by the Constitution, there has never been more than one here. If my honorable friends opposite had remained in office, I should have brought - as the businesspaper shows- exactly the same complaint against them that I am now urging in regard to the representation in this Chamber of the existing Government. As a man who takes some interest in constitutional methods, I cannot be otherwise than eminently satisfied that members of the Commonwealth Parliament have now been practically reduced to two parties.
– The honorable senator said that he was starting: a third party
– No doubt the observation of my honorable friend1 - which I did not catch - was a most profound one, but I shall deal with him later, and I shall have a good deal to say which he will not think at all profound. That the forces in Federal politics have now been reduced to practically two parties augurs very much better for the success ful working of the parliamentary machine than has been the case hitherto. In the past, there has always been some partihanging on the wing of some other party with a view to political - some honorable senator might say personal - advantage. But we now have only two parties iri the Commonwealth Parliament, and that fact must appeal to the good sense of any one who is interested in parliamentary procedure from a constitutional stand-point. As a result of the fusion or coalition - : -
– There has not been a fusion, but an absorption.
– I think that “ absorption “ is the correct word to describe what has recently taken place. Ohe eminent Victorian, with the assistance of ten others, has practically absorbed all the other members of Parliament, who entertain views at all similar to their own. That absorption does not appeal to me. I go further, and say that, from my own knowledge of unions of the kind in Australia - a knowledge which extends- over twenty-five or thirty years - the results have not been of a character satisfactory to their well-wishers. What the future may have in store for the present arrangement I do not know. But I do know that, owing to the changes which have recently occurred, one is compelled to take up some position . of d’efiniteness in respect of the two parties now in Parliament. The fact that honorable senators have changed their seats is an indication that with the change which has been brought about in another place there has been a corresponding change here.
– The honorable senator has left his books in his old seat, so that he evidently anticipates a speedy return to the Opposition (benches.
– As my papersare doubtless in the way of my honorablefriend, I take his hint in a friendly spirit, and I will remove them most speedily. I regret that carelessness upon my partshould have caused him any inconvenience. We must all recognise that, for the present at any rate, political lines in this Parliament are marked out in no indistinct manner. Those who do not belong to the Labour Party, and who are not prepared’ to embrace the bonds which it holds out to every member of Parliament, must take up an attitude of antagonism to it. During the past few weeks, as we all know, throughout Australia frantic cries have beenraised by the ejected from the “ tart shop “ - if I may use a phrase which has- become almost historic. But why . these wails? Did not the members of the Labour Party dig the very pit into which they have fallen? Were they not their own ejectors from office ? Did they not know when they accepted office, they could retain it only with the support of the Deakin party, and did they not at once attempt to undermine that party in the constituencies? They were content to live by the support of the Deakin party, but they were anxious, nay, urgent, to cut the political throats of that party in the constituencies. They made the support of the Deakin party an impossibility, and having reaped the reward of their energies-
– And honesty.
– There is no’ doubt that they wailed throughout Australia with a degree of honesty that was worthy bf the honorable senator’s most complete efforts. If ever there was an instance of boomerang politics, we find it in the present position. Having alienated the support of the Deakin party - having been struck by the boomerang that they were aiming at that party in the constituencies - they now lament the success of their efforts.
– We did not trim our policy for the purpose of remaining in office.
– I do not think that my honorable friend -did. His statement is perfectly true. I think that he and some of his friends did their utmost to outrage the good sense of the community so far as they decently could. There was not a newspaper in Australia - with the exception of a few anti-British rags - which did what the honorable senator and his friends did, namely, oppose the granting of assistance by this great Commonwealth, not to the Mother Country, because I decline to regard that assistance as a. gift to Britain, but to the Empire. It was a gift to the Empire, and should stand as such.
– The honorable senator is wrong about’ the newspapers supporting the movement.
– There are a few thousand newspapers published in Australia, and I own that I am not able to read them all.
– The honorable senator expressly excepted the “ rags.”
– I did. I have read journals which opposed the action of Australia in coming to the assistance, not of Britain but of the Empire.
– There was not one newspaper in Queensland which supported the Dreadnought proposal.
– Nor in South Australia.
– The South Australian Register said that it was “ the emanation of feather-headed fools.”
– I own that I cannot read the thousands of newspapers published in Australia, but I do know that the vast majority of them supported the proposal that the Commonwealth should take its proper place in sharing Empire responsibilities. It is not those who howl the loudest at public meetings who most faithfully reflect the wishes of Australia. When the next appeal to the electors is made - I care not what Ministry may be in office - they will, I feel sure, declare that it is the duty of Australia to assist in bearing the burden of the defence of the Empire. How can the Commonwealth better serve its own interests than by assisting in the defence of the Empire as a whole? The Empire may be, and is, doubtless, prepared to meet all emergencies, but if it is to be a mere question of sectional defence - of a few ships here and a few cockle boats there, of a few battalions here and a few cadets somewhere else-
– And a few colonels in another place.
– The man who has shown by years of service his anxiety to attempt something in the direction of Australian and Empire defence is in a much better position to meet jibes than is the man whose sole efforts in connexion with Australian defence have been in the direction of ridicule.
– The leader of the Opposition has never seen the honorablesenator on his charger, or he would not have made that interjection.
– I do not happen to be a solicitor, or I might be described as a “charger.” The leader of the Opposition took great exception to the fact that the present Ministry contained seven lawyers. I have not counted thenumber of lawyers in the Cabinet, but I know that a lawyer has about three chancesto one as against a layman of securing a place in any colonial Ministry. My honorable friends’ plaintive ejaculations on the subject of lawyers in the Cabinet brought to my mind the words put into the mouth of Jack Cade-“ Let’s kill all the lawyers.” I do not know whether his idea was that the Cabinet would be better without lawyers. I admit that there is rather a plethora of them, but I do not know that the displacement of a lawyer in the” interests of my honorable friend would make the present Cabinet very much better than it is. The honorable senator did not tell us very much about what he would have done had he been allowed to remain behind the counter of the “tart shop.” As a matter of fact, he must recollect that the members of the Government of which he was one, were not responsible Ministers within the meaning of any constitutional term. They were in this Senate and in another place not as constitutional Ministers, who were responsible to the Crown and to the people, but as the agents of the caucus with the door locked. That is the position. I do not attempt to deny that Senator McGregor sought to achieve many meritorious results. I do not for an instant disagree with all that they did, or all that they proposed to do; but I do say, that not one member of the Ministry sat here or elsewhere as a responsible Minister within the meaning of any constitutional authority-. They were merely here, I repeat, as the agents of the caucus.
– Whose agents are the present Ministry ?
– I hope that they will prove to be the agents of the whole community. I have here a most extraordinarily lengthy document. If it were only printed in the large type which dignifies Vice-Regal addresses, I do not know how many pages it would occupy. I listened to nearly all of it yesterday, when Senator Millen was reading it. While it might be a subject of much interest to myself personally to dilate upon its very numerous paragraphs, I would not think of attempting to mention more than a very few of them. There are some paragraphs which appeal to me, I own. On the other hand, there are some about which I am not so enthusiastic. If it is meant for anything more than a political placard, as descriptive of a policy ; if it is intended as an in’dication of what is going to be done during the present session, we shall have to work -overtime all the six months before us. I hope that we shall deal with some of the subjects. One of the first paragraphs which catch my attention relates to amendments of the Old-Age Pensions Act. It is proposed to reduce the period of residence in Australia from twenty-five to twenty years. The present Act, .with a twenty -i five years’ residence provision, was brought into being with the support of the gentlemen who are now His Majesty’s Opposition.
– And the Labour Party drafted that Bill.
– The new bit?
– The Labour. Party have not caught up the position which, as Royal Commissioner for New South Wales, I took up many years ago, when I advocated fifteen years’ residence. So that in no shape or way can I be in opposition to a proposal which only seeks to approach the standard I laid down in a report, dated 1898. When the question of the period of residence in New South Wales was before its Parliament in connexion with a Bill which was initiated as the result of my efforts, how did the Labour Party there act? With the exception of four, every member of that party voted against my attempt to amend the Act so as to give the chance of a pension to men whose regular vocations took them outside New South Wales for more than twentyfour months in twenty-five years. Mir. Thomas Brown, who sits in another place, was one of those who voted with me ; but, with the exception of the four, all the other members of the Labour Party of New South Wales voted against my: motion to enable the payment of old-age pensions to those who had served Australia faithfully and well, even if they had not resided every month of twenty-three years out of twenty-five. Now that Federation is happily about to extend the system throughout-Australia, no doubt it is a fitting time for the Labour Party in the Senate to show their condemnation of the action of their comrades in New South Wales. Then we have a clause about State insurance. For the last ten years or more I have been making a solitary endeavour in the direction of State insurance for workers. The present, however, is a two-penny half-penny proposal. It only proposes something for seamen ; it should include all the workers of Australia, male and female alike. I have battled in that direction for the last eleven years, and I hope to live to see, at the hands of either this Government or some other, an enactment of the prin- ciple of the State, at bare cost, insuring the life, the limbs and the health of every worker in the community. It is cheaper, better, and less open to conflict and industrial misunderstanding than any such methods as are indicated in this document.
– It is very socialistic.
– I never care what a measure may be styled by either its enemies or its friends if I believe that it is for the good of the community as a whole. During a great many years of parliamentary life, 1 have endeavoured to consistently support every such measure as this. If it is made broad enough and useful enough, I do not care what it is called ; if it is socialistic, then let it be socialistic, but let it be passed.
– But the honorable senator is an anti-Socialist.
– I am opposed, necessarily, to some of the things which my honorable friend proposes, just as he is opposed to some of the things I believe in. But that does not, has not, and I trust will not, prevent us from working and voting together for the good of the whole community on some points, if we disagree on others. In this Ministerial statement, there is a whole section devoted to defence, and very properly so.
– That is a subject about which the honorable senator should be able to tell us something.
– I may say a few things before I sit down, and some of them would be worthy of orchestral, accompaniment. We are told that there is another group of proposals. Bless my soul, we have had a number of, not only groups of proposals, but independent proposals. But while these proposals have been more or less nebulous, there has been going on in connexion with our Defence Force, such a series of scandals, such a series of objectionable doings that had the late Government remained in office I should most assuredly have stood here to demand the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate them. I shall mention som« of these things, and read some documents in connexion with them before I sit down. Necessarily, they are not matters with which I have the remotest personal concern, but thev are matters which, as one chosen by the people of New South Wales to do my best in the representation of the State here, it is my duty to bring forward. ‘I shall bring forward one very remarkable case which is wholly connected with Victoria, and which, therefore, has no possible personal interest to myself as a politician or a man. Senator Pearce was alleged to be a most successful Minister of Defence. I believe that he achieved a measure of success in that direction by blindly following the recommendations of an officer who was never discovered to possess any special merits until he arrived in Melbourne. Recently we had a magnificent effort in the defence of Australia promulgated by regulation of the Governor-General in Council. My honorable friend was ministerially responsible for perfecting the defence of Australia by abolishing the wearing of mess jackets once in three or four weeks, and the printing of crossed swords opposite to the names of citizen soldiers to indicate active service.
– That is not correct.
– I have the book. I do not say that the honorable senator was personally responsible, but he was the Minister at the head of the Department that retained the printing of crossed swords illustrative of active service in connexion with the permanent .branch, while removing them from opposite to the name of every citizen soldier in the Commonwealth.
– That is not correct.
– The honorable senator may say that that is not correct.
– T can prove it. too.
– The honorable senator cannot hand to me the book.
– I have not’ the book with me.
– I’ am sorry that I have not the book here, but I will’ send to the Library for it. While the mess jacket has been ordered off and the crossed swords have been abolished, the one great achievement of the late Administration in the matter of Australian defence was the issue of a regulation that box-spurs were not to be worn.
– What about the cock’sfeathers ?
– I am not saying anything about them. It might bewell to abolish them because feathers spoil with the wet, and look much better in ladies’. hats. But box-spurs were abolished in order to popularize the service and make- it attractive to young officers who, by the way, do not wear them. A man must be a major, at least, before he can wear boxspurs, and they are worn by senior officers in almost every defence force in the world, except amongst savages, and even some savages wear “shirt collars and spurs” on special occasions. This splendid result, therefore, was achieved in order that junior officers who do not wear box-spurs might be relieved of the expenditure of 6s. 6d. on their account !
– What are box-spurs wanted for?
– They are one of the best recognised badges of rank worn bv senior officers. It is of no use to tinker with little things while leaving essentials unattended to. I have just been informed that a copy of the latest edition of the Officers’ List is not to be obtained from the Library. I may remark that it is very difficult to get these Government publications. Some time ago I invited the Senate to pass a resolution requiring the delivery of all Government publications to members of this Parliament. The resolution was passed unanimously, but it has never been complied with” by the Departments. They issue documents repeatedly which members of Parliament do not obtain. There are many books and papers which are issued from the Government Printing Office, and which do not find their way into the hands of honorable senators in spite of the resolution passed. I have mentioned this matter more than once, and have become tired of mentioning it. The fault does not lie with the officers of this Parliament. Now I intend to speak on some matters that have happened lately in connexion with the Defence Department. I desire to show positively, from official documents, that while proposals of a nebulous character have been put forward in the interests of infant soldiers - that is to say, soldiers under twenty-one years of age - there has been, ,if not a deliberate effort to injure the existing forces, at least an effort to make membership of the forces hateful to the members. Letme take first of all one case that I referred to as happening in this State in connexion with the Naval Forces. for thirty-one years a citizen of Victoria has served in the Naval Forces of the State and of the Commonwealth. He has been twice gazetted by the Governor-General in Council to the position of storekeeper in the Naval Forces. For thirty-one years he has dis charged his duties so faithfully that there is not a mark against him. But he has been ruined for life, as far as active manual labour is concerned, by a terrible accident that befel him in the discharge of his duty. The name of the man I speak of is Critten. I’ am not personally interested in his case. I am simply concerned with it as a matter of public interest. I ha-ve not seen the man. He has not told me a word about his case. What has hap.penned to him is this: He has been, by some persons other than the GovernorGeneral, disrated, as far as they could disrate him, ‘from his position as storekeeper, and refused the increase of pay that Parliament voted from time, to time. For years he has been entitled to an increase. The money has been voted by. Parliament, but he has not received it.
– Not correct.
– I remind the Senate that I am not fighting even for a constituent, but for a man in the State of Victoria, who, in my opinion, has been badly used. For years past he has been living and bringing up a family of nine children on the splendid emolument of 6s. per day.
– Is the honorable senator’s statement correct?
– Should I make it if I were not correct?
– The ex-Minister of Defence says that it is not.
– -Who fixed the rate of 6s. per day?
– I do not know. I merely state the facts.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator’s facts are. wrong.
– This man has been denied the pay that Parliament has voted for him.
– No, that is not correct.
– I brought the matter before the Minister.
– Which Minister?
– The gentleman who was in office on the 16th February last.
– It was’ brought before my predecessor months before I went into office, and it was brought under my notice long before I received the honorable senator’s letter.
– I did not approach the ex-Minister of Defence, about this matter in the first instance. I approached his predecessor, Sir Thomas Ewing.
– Even the honorable senator was not the first to raise the matter.
– That may be so. There are plenty of persons who will bring forward a matter and then think that they have discharged their duty. They will write a letter, and then go off to play billiards, dropping the whole thing. But I do not do business in that way.If I think that a matter is worth fighting, I will fight it to the last ditch. I am fighting this, and have been fighting it for the last nine or ten months, though I do not say that I was the first to introduce it to the notice of the ex-Minister of Defence.
– The honorable senator is surely throwing a reflection upon the man who did first bring the case under the notice of the Minister, by insinuating that he went away and played billiards, and attended no further to the matter.
– It is clearly shown from the letter which I received from the Department, signed by the ex-Minister, that I made representations long before the 1 6th February. I have not all the papers with me. I did not bring them all over from Sydney. It is sufficient for my purpose at the moment to state the facts as I am now doing. The following is the letter which I received on the 16th February from the ex-Minister of Defence -
With reference to your representations relative to Mr. Critten, the Minister would be glad to settle the matter, and to that end suggests that he should send, through the proper channel, a brief statement of his complaint and claim. The Minister will then be prepared to submit the case to an independent Board, composed of the Public Service Inspector, a Police Magistrate, and a representative of this Department, not connected with the Victorian Naval Forces, for inquiry.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) S. A. Pethebridge,
Senator Colonel the Hon. J. C. Neild, “Greycairn,” Woollahra, Sydney, N.S.W.
It will be seen that the Minister was not prepared to take the responsibility of giving effect to the order gazetted by the GovernorGeneral in Council. What he was prepared to do was to submit the case to a Board composed of a Public Service Inspector, a Police Magistrate - and I wonder what in thunder a Police Magistrate has to do with the administration of the naval affairs of the Commonwealth - together with a representative of the Defence Department, unconnected with the Victorian Naval Forces. This was a very startling statement, that the Minister could not trust any one connected with the Naval Department in Victoria to be concerned with this inquiry, but must bring in two laymen and a militaryperson.
Replying to your letter, No. 946, of the 16th February, re the case of Naval Storekeeper Critten, I beg to say that Critten has, in accordance with the Minister’s proposal, made formal application to the Naval Board, and will be glad to place the facts of his case beforethe Special Board suggested by Senator Pearce, whom I beg to thank for his promised action.
Meanwhile, I have to express the opinion that, for a petty officer, with nine children to support, to be paid 6s. per diem is a public scandal, as is also the fact that, though he has been entitled to an addition of 6d. per diem for six years, vide regulations, he has never received the money.
Further, it is a scandal that, though he has been twice gazetted as storekeeper, he has been illegally displaced from this position, and denied the pay attaching to it.
No wonder the Defence service is unpopular !
I do not take back one word which I wrote in that letter. What has happened since, I do not know. Whether the Board has sat, whether a Police Magistrate has been roped in, I do not know.
But this man has never had a copper to this day. I can only say that he has been refused by orders of the Head-Quarters Staff in Sydney. If I live long enough, I am going to see that this man has justice. I shall help in that direction if I can, or do it single-handed if necessary. That man must be given the compensation which the Defence Act insists shall be given to those citizen soldiers of the Commonwealth who are injured in the discharge of their duties.
As explained by the Crown Solicitor -
That portion of the minute is inaccurate, inasmuch as it was written, not by the Crown Solicitor, but by the Secretary to the Attorney-General. The error arises from a slight misapprehension. The minute should read -
As explained by the Attorney-General, the irregularities complained of do not affect the rights of the case, which is practically as it was before the hording of the investigation by Colonel- .
The Attorney-General decided that the officer who held the inquiry had no right to do so, and that the position, therefore, was as if no inquiry had been held. With the concurrence of two King’s counsel, one of New South Wales and one of another State, I then took the point that the six months’ limit permitted by the Act had expired, and that, as the officer in question had not been prosecuted, he was entitled to be released from arrest. Arrest, in the case of a citizen soldier, I may explain, means that he cannot fulfil the duties of the office to which he has been appointed by the Governor-General in Council. He cannot command his company, he cannot wear his uniform, he must not be found on any military precincts ; in short, in no shape or form is he permittee!: to discharge any of the duties attaching to his position. It does not require much explanation on my part to convince honorable senators that to deprive a man occupying a public position of his office, to strip him of the rights of that office, and to prevent him performing the duties attaching to it, is to degrade him. What else can it be? Would it not be degrading for any honorable senator to be ordered out of this Chamber and to be refused admission to it for six months?
– I must request the honorable senator not to ask an irrelevant question.
– I think that my question is a very relevant one.
– It- does not appear to me to be relevant. There are altogether too many interjections-
– I simply asked the honorable senator if drummer boys are usually drunken. He used the words “a” drunken drummer .boy.”
– The honorable senator is not privileged to ask a question when a debate is in progress. He is at liberty to address the Chair at a subsequent stage if he thinks fit to do so.
– The phrase which I used was merely a haphazard one-
– Then withdraw it.
– Certainly I withdraw it. I have no desire to belittle or injure the’ feelings of any citizen soldier, jio matter what may be his rank. But I hold that there is a distinction between a man in the ranks and an officer, inasmuch as the latter has greater responsibilities imposed upon him. The officer is appointed in a different way from the man in the ranks and the law provides a different set of duties for him.
– In the matter of crime they are equal.
– But there are methods of procedure, and that is all that I referred to. In the second paragraph of the minute which I hold in my hand the late Minister of Defence declared that the six months provision in the Act did not apply to the case which I have cited. Whilst I cannot understand how such an opinion could be published over the signature of any responsible or irre sponsible Minister, I am willing to let that . pass. In the third paragraph Senator Pearce said -
The evidence adduced at the investigation was presumably the strongest that could be obtained in support of the charge , of drunkenness, and was met by certain evidence tending to show that the apparent effects of drink were caused by drugs used for malarial fever. It is doubtful whether any jury would convict on the evidence produced ; under such circumstances, Commonwealth Military Regulation 273 prescribes that an application for a Court-Martial should not’ be made.
My honorable friend, was perfectly right, and I commend that portion of his decision as being admirable military law. To that extent he is to be complimented. The next paragraph of his minute reads -
The charge against Captain - will not therefore be pro’ceeded with, and his release from “open arrest” should be ordered.
There is one paragraph in this document to which I take the strongest exception, because it is a most heinous one for a Minister to issue. It reads -
No hardship has been experienced by Captain - on the score of delay, inasmuch as this was inevitable under the circumstances, and’ more especially as it only involved suspension from military duty as a volunteer officer while the charge was pending.
This officer had been illegally under arrest for six months, but yet we are gravely informed that he had experienced no hardship. He was only a “ volunteer officer,” only a citizen soldier, and, therefore, he could be illegally kept under arrest for six months - as the ex-Minister’s own minute shows - could be subjected to degradation that must be hateful and painful to an honorable man, and yet he experienced no hardship because he was only a “ volunteer officer.”
– The gallery is not full.
– My honorable friend must be full to make that observation. I think that the minute of the late Minister of Defence is one which it must pain that honorable senator to hear read.
– Not at all.
-Then the honorable senator was not fit for the position of Ministerial head of a citizen force.
– The honorable senator should have been there.
– I have no ambition, except to discharge my duties, and I endeavour to discharge them irrespective of whether they be painful or pleasant. They are painful this afternoon.
– It is painful to listen to the honorable senator.
– Then the honorable senator should go outside, and, to quote an historical utterance by a high constitutional authority, “bark with the other dogs.” I have waggon-loads of correspondence dealing with defence matters, but I will not trouble the Senate with it upon the present occasion. As a matter of fact, I was seriously thinking of building a fireproof room at my residence for the purpose of storing records of the Defence Department’s misdeeds. At present, however, I do not propose to pursue this ugly question of defence any further. During the time that I imagine will be afforded by an adjournment of the Senate, I intend to deal with some of these matters by preparing for publication certain chapters ‘or essays on “ What may happen toa citizen soldier in Australia, ‘ ‘ because we cannot expect to secure the citizen force which this Parliament demandsthe force that is indicated in the declarations of Ministerial policy - unless Ave have cleaner and more honest administration. By that I do not mean more honest administration in the matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, but more honest administration in regard to efficiency and the carrying out of the military and naval law. Had the opportunity presented itself, I should have mentioned some of these matters in discussing the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. It is certainly necessary that some one should bring them under the notice of the Senate, although it is a painful thing for any man to do. Personally, I have no more disagreement with the late Minister of Defence than I had with his predecessor, and it is necessarily obnoxious to me to have to bring these matters forward.
– I hope that the honorable senator will deal with more of them if they resemble the last case which he cited.
– There is one other matter that I may be permitted- to mention.
– Would it not be as well if the members of the Senate were present to hear this criticism?
– Something that fell from my honorable friend in connexion with this Critten case reminded me that his idea of a miscellaneous Committee was not altogether original; that his predecessor, Sir Thomas Ewing, had an equally brilliant scheme in connexion with the case of alleged intoxication, which I have related here. After it had been discovered that the inquiry held was illegal, and that the Defence authorities bacl been, acting foolishly, he achieved a brilliant idea. He addressed to the Premier of New South Wales a letter asking for the’ services of a stipendiary magistrate to determine the momentous question of whether a volunteer officer was the worse for a glassof whisky or an overdose of quinine, and the latter, according to the correspondence, replied pointing out that such an inquiry would be outside the commission of a stipendiary magistrate, and that, in orderto protect him if he made an inquiry, it was necessary that he should be appointed’ a Royal Commission. That is a momentous instance of conflict between the Commonwealth and the State.
– When that proposal came before me, I quashed it at once.
– I think that the honorable senator is entitled to the thanks of everybody if he quashed that proposal at once ; but why did he, under his own hand, propose, not one man, but a Board of three persons to determine whether a notice was printed properly in the Gazette ?
– The honorable senator is mixing up two different things.
– The honorable senator need not say that which is calculated to provoke strong remarks.
– The Royal Commission proposed by Sir Thomas Ewing wasin regard to a case of drunkenness ; but the latter case was in regard to the status of Critten
– Undoubtedly, and that is what I have been saying.
– No; the honorable senator is trying to make out the two cases to be one and the same.
– Not at all. I said that there was only one authority, to investigate a question ‘between a glass of whisky and an overdose of quinine, and a Commission of three persons to determine whether a man was. occupying the position to which he had been gazetted by the GovernorGeneral.
– The latter statement is absolutely incorrect.
– If the Secretary for Defence has written an improper, inaccurate letter, I cannot be blamed for that.
– He did not write it.
– He wrote -
The Minister will then be prepared to submit a case to an independent Board, composed of the Public Service Inspector, a Police Magistrate, and a representative of this Department, not connected with the Victorian Naval Force.
– A case for what purpose? Not to find out whether the man was gazetted, as the honorable senator says. That is where he is incorrect.
– I have said over and over again :hat the question to be considered was whether the petty officer was occupying the position to which he was gazetted. ‘ I have made that statement so plainly that if my honorable friend has not caught my meaning, I do not think that it is the fault of my words. I once heard a speaker say, “ I can supply speeches, but I cannot supply brains to understand them.” When I have spoken so clearly, I really cannot understand my honorable friend continuing to allege that I have said something which undoubtedly Hansard will show that 1 did not say.. Let that pass. I come back to the main question. We have had, from Senator McGregor, not an attack but a speech upon a proposal for the printing of a document. He did not object to the printing of the Ministerial statement read here yesterday ? He did not even object to its contents ; but he complained, wilh a pathetic feebleness, that there are some persons offering Government proposals instead of, I presume, their predecessors. My honorable friend is, I believe, recognised by every one here as a manly man, and the best sign of’ a manly man is to take ill fortune and good fortune with the same happy grace. I would not like to see my honorable friend considered a bad loser. I would like to see him recognised, as he has hitherth shown himself to be. a good loser, and if other occupants are in “ the tart-shop,” to be patient.
– The honorable senator growled a bit when he was captured at Chowder Bay, did he not?
– I never was at Chowder Bay, wherever that mav be–
– At the battle of Chowder Bay?
– I was never there in any military capacity, and, there fore, my, honorable friend’s proposition, whatever it is worth, is simply a magnificent effort of imagination.
– Did not Bill Wilks capture the honorable senator?
– This is the first time I have heard of it. A great many years ago, Captain Wilks was an officer of my regiment, and what he did I am not concerned with now. If he did anything improper, my honorable friend may be quite sure that I pulled him up for it. In his present demeanour, my honorable friend has not shown himself to be a good loser. In his speech this afternoon, he has shown a desire to feebly cavil at that which his successors offer to the country. I have shown, by my attitude, that I do not profess to be an enthusiast in respect of all that has been done lately. Goodness knows, I have not shown myself to be a strongparty man. I have played, if a man can do so, the role of candid friend ; but I am in this position, that I must choose between the other side of the House and this side to the extent of where I am to sit, and what my general line of action must be. My general line of action must be with this side. I hope that my honorable friends will permit the printing of this document ; but if they do not, it will not matter twopence, because the business of “ the tartshop “ will still be carried on by its occupants, for the present at any rate. The matter which is under discussion here, has to be fought elsewhere; it is being fought elsewhere, and finally, it has to be fought in the constituencies.
– Why not fight it here, now ?
– I do not think that the honorable gentleman is quite large enough to remove the present occupants of “ the tart-shop.” I recognise his good will ; and if I doubt his power, it is no possible reflection upon his intentions. I hope that this document will be printed. I hope that, notwithstanding the necessary sadness that envelops the minds of some honorable senators on the other side, they will not carry out all their intentions of blocking business ; but that in the few months which have to pass before an appeal is made to the constituencies, there may be such corrections of existing legislation, and such efforts in the direction of new laws as are necessary for the well:being of the people of each division of the Commonwealth, and which are necessary to enable the Common- wealth to pursue its course with that dignity and that public usefulness which is essential to its honour.
– Before I proceed to discuss the Government’s policy, I must perforce, reply to some ridiculous statements made by Senator Neild.
– Oh ! the honorable senator recognises that his own letters are ridiculous ! That is right.
– In the first place, 1 disclaim any responsibility for what took place prior to my term of office ; and most of the questions which the honorable senator brought forward were legacies left to me by my predecessor. There is one little misapprehension into which, not only the honorable and gallant senator, but also a number of other officers fell, and that is in regard to the Commonwealth Military Forces List. The document I hold in my hand contains the regimental list and the gradation list of the Commonwealth Military Forces. In certain circumstances, it was the practice to place a crossed sword opposite to the name of every officer who had seen active service. If any one will refer to the List he will find that it is made up in two parts, the first part comprising the regimental list, and the second part the gradation list. When I mention that the first part deals with the position of every officer in a regiment, honorable senators will realize that it is continually changing, because every month additions have to be made or names removed. In the past, it was the practice to print the whole of this list quarterly. The gradation list applies to the whole force, and only needs to be printed yearly. When I took charge of the Department, it occurred to me that it was an absolute waste of public money to print all these pages of small type quarterly, when an annual print would do. I therefore suggested that the Department should print the regimental list quarterly, and the whole book annually. It is only in the quarterly list that the crossed swords appear opposite the names of the permanent officers only. Prior to my time, in the quarterly list a crossed sword only appeared opposite to the names of the permanent officers who had seen active service. The crossed swords were not opposite the names of militia officers who had seen active service. But in die gradation list they appeared indifferently against the name of every officer who had seen active service. Following out my instruction, the regimental list was printed as it had always appeared before - that is to say, with the crossed swords opposite the names of the permanent officers who had seen active service. I was not aware at the time I ‘ordered this list to be printed that any distinction was made, but as soon, as the first newly-printed list appeared an outcry was raised bv the militia officers, who seemed1 to think that a difference was being made for the first time between them and the permanent officers. That difference always had been made. But on learning of the facts of the case, I immediately issued instructions that whan the next list was printed the crossed swords should appear opposite the names of both militia and permanent officers who had seen active service. So that, instead of being guilty of what the honorable senator has charged me with, it was I who altered the former practice and brought about the change. I managed to save some amount of expenditure on printing the lists, and by the orders which I issued I also rectified the anomaly which had existed in the past. In the last list issued the crossed swords appear opposite the names of all officers who have seen active service.
– In both the quarterly and the yearly lists?
– Yes; !the crossed swords- always did appear opposite the names of militia officers in the yearly lists, but now they will appear in the quarterly lists also. So much for that charge. I come now to the Critten case. This also was a legacy left over, not only by my predecessor, Sir Thomas Ewing, but by every previous Minister of Defence. Critten, as Senator Neild has correctly stated, was a storekeeper in the Naval Forces in Victoria. He met with an accident bv which he was ruptured, and was retired from the forces. After he had somewhat recovered -and, be it observed, after he had received compensation from the Victorian State Government - he applied to be given some light occupation in the Defence Department. The Minister of Defence in the State of ViC.toriathis occurred before Federation, of course - allowed him to come back into the service, but not into the active forces. The man could not come into the forces again in the regular way, because he could not pass the medical examination. They gave him a position in the naval stores branch. That was the position which he occupied when he came over to the Common- wealth. He was not actually in the Naval Forces.” He had not been gazetted in the Naval Forces. He was not eligible to be gazetted, because he could not pass the medical examination. This man, ever since the regime of the Commonwealth, has been approaching members of Parliament, and using influences of all kinds, with the object of getting back into the gazetted forces. He approached every one of my predecessors. If Senator Neild will take the trouble to look at the papers on this question, he will find that every Minister of “Defence has had the case before him.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that Critten has never been gazetted by the Commonwealth Government ?
– He was gazetted in the Commonwealth Gazette under an Order in Council in November, 1906/ and again in 1908, as storekeeper.
– The honorable senator is mistaken. The position of storekeeper was gazetted, but this man has never been gazetted since his accident as a member of the Naval Forces. Indeed, he cannot be admitted into them unless some Minister likes to suspend the regulations regarding medical examination. As I have said, however, Critten has been kept on year after year in the position which he occupies. When I became Minister of Defence, Mr. Mathews, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, came to see me about the case. I had not been many days in the office then, but I at once promised to look into the matter. I went through the whole file very carefully, and consulted with the Secretary of the Department and with the officer in charge of the Naval Forces. I saw that I could not legally reinstate Critter to his former position.
– The honorable senator appointed a Board.
– That Board, which is still sitting, I think, was not appointed for that purpose, as the honorable senator will find if he inquires further. I pointed out to Critten’s friends that if they were well advised they would leave him where he was. But they continually pressed the case, and demanded his re-admission. To my thinking, the man and his friends were very ill-advised in demanding that there should be a Board of Inquiry. But I consulted with the officers, and” ultimately agreed that a Board should be appointed, although I did not consider that its appoint- ment would be in the interests of Critten because I could not understand how, on the evidence, they could possibly report in his favour. The friends of the man said that he could not get justice from the officers of the Naval Forces. Therefore, the officers themselves made the suggestion that they should not be represented on the Board. Captain Cresswell himself said to me that, for his own part, he did not desire that any naval officer should take part in the inquiry, because, if that were the case, Critten would imply that the officers were prejudiced against him. It was therefore at his own request, and in consequence of the urging of his friends, that the Board was appointed. It has not yet furnished its report. Those are the facts of the case. What could I do? I could not reinstate the man in flagrant defiance of the regulations. It has been too often urged against administration that political influence is used with the object of dodging through the regulations. But, though I could not reinstate the man, I was quite willing to allow him to remain where he was so long as he was able to carry out the light duties which he was given to do. I am sorry that Senator Neild does not remain in the chamber to hear my reply. I think that after the charges which he has made he ought at least to listen to the other side. But it is rather characteristic of the honorable senator to make charges and to run away when the answer is being given. I now . come to the case of the man who was arrested on the charge of drunkenness. It is quite true, as stated, that he was charged with being drunk on duty, which, of course, is a most heinous crime. He was a. Militia officer, and was arrested about six months before I came into office. For six months, my predecessor had had the case before him, but did not deal with it. When I came into office, I found that there had been a Court of Inquiry to look into the case under the regulations.
– Had not representations been made to the honorable senator’s predecessor ?
– Yes. The Court of Inquiry was held, and it is quite true, as Senator Neild has stated, that one man who took part in it had already expressed an opinion upon the case. When the Court recorded its finding, the officer appealed to me against it. On going through the evidence, I saw that the Court of Inquirywas wrongly constituted. I considered that it was not a fair thing that the man should be made to suffer under those circumstances.
I expressed no opinion upon the case at all. I simply quashed the proceedings and put the man back where he was before the charge was made against him. What else could I do? I could not give him compensation. All that I could do was to quash proceedings, and reinstate him as captain in his regiment, directing that no mark should be recorded against him for what had occurred. I was not responsible for the man being six months under arrest, because the circumstances occurred 1*fore I came into office. With regard to McDonald’s case, the explanation is easy; and I am certain that honorable senators who know anything about departmental methods will understand -it. The fault I find with the Defence Department is that too much is sent on to the Central Office. 1 think that more power should be given to the State Administrations. One of the things that causes dislocation is that if a State Administration wants to spend they have, to refer the matter to the Minister. This is a case in which a man was injured whilst on duty. He made his claim for compensation. In the first place, the case went to the colonel of his regiment. The colonel recommended an inquiry. The inquiry was held. These inquiries, I may explain, do not record any finding. They simply send on an account of the proceedings to the Commandant, who reads it over, and formulates a .recommendation to the Head-Office, in Melbourne. In this case, the Commandant, acting upon his own judgment, did not think that there was any just claim for compensation. The consequence was that the matter never came before me at all- Senator Neild has said that if the case was not brought under my notice, it shows a lack of cohesion in the Department. But any man who is acquainted with the first principles of business must be aware that the Minister of a Department cannot run round the Commonwealth hunting out grievances. If this man knew the regulations - and pretty well every man in the Defence Department does know them - he would be aware that he had the right of appeal from his superior officers to the Minister. I venture to say that there is no officer in the Commonwealth who would dare, in defiance of the regulations , t:> block an appeal to the Minister. But this man did not exercise his right of appeal. He never made any request to me, and therefore I never heard of his case. If I had been in office for the next five years, I might not have heard of it. In view of the fact that the man did not make any request to me, the whole charge levelled against me by Senator Neild is shown to be ridiculous.
– Yet the man goes behind the Minister’s back to a member of Parliament.
– Yes; and this is the sort of thing that tends towards the destruction of discipline.
– In every Department.
– But especially in the Defence Department. Here’ is a case in which a man does not exercise the right which he has under the regulations, but goes to politicians to ventilate the matter. ,
– The politicians should make inquiries before they take action.
– Especially when the politician happens to have been a military officer. Senator Neild also threatened me with certain other vague and undefined charges. I wish he would make them now. If they are not more formidable than those which he has brought out to-day, I shall sleep unconcernedly. Senator Neild is fond of putting himself forward as practically the father of old-age pensions in this country. But, on the- 3rd June, 1908, when the Deakin Government brought forward the Surplus Revenue Bill for the purpose of finding money for the payment of old-age pensions, I find that Senator Neild was .paired against the measure which afforded the only method by which the pensions could be paid.
– They were two distinct things.
– They were inseparably connected. Every honorable senator must recognise to-day that, had it not been for the passing of the Surplus Revenue Bill, we should not be in a position to pay old-age pensions next month. That is an absolute fact. I propose now to deal with the Ministerial statement, and I would say that the opening sentence summarizes it. It includes a reference to “a most complex series of measures.” I do not know about the measures, but this statement is comprised of certainly the most complex series of paragraphs it has ever been my misfortune to have to puzzle over.
– The honorable senator will worry them out.
– I hope that Senator Chataway and those associated with him will be able to worry them out, for there is certainly not much light thrown upon them in the statement itself. The first proposal is for the appointment of, an Inter-State Commission. This InterState Commission is not merely to carry out the duties laid down in the Constitution, but is to have some other functions. We are told, for instance, that it is to perform such a function as “a general oversight of production and exchange.” I do not know that we shall do much to stimulate production and exchange by merely exercising a general oversight. If that were all that were necessary we might leave the work to Mr. Knibbs, and the Statistical Bureau. I never yet heard that the compilation of statistics did very much to stimulate production and exchange.
– That is not oversight.
– What is meant by oversight ?
– Let the honorable senator wait until the Government bring in their Bill.
– That is the difficulty in which I find myself. The only meaning I can attach’ to the words which are used is that some sort of Board will be appointed that will collate the evidences of production and exchange.
– Does not the -honorable senator think that that would be very valuable?
– It would no doubt be valuable from a s’tatistical stand-point, but the people of Australia will want something more than mere statistics; they will look for something that will stimulate production and exchange. We are told that amongst the duties of the Inter-State Commission will be - those of a Federal Labour Bureau comprising 1 study of unemployment and of a scheme for insurance against unemployment.
What is this Board of Trade to be? Is it to be a sort of mutual ‘improvement society ?
– A general improvement society for the improvement of the Commonwealth generally.
– It seems to me that what we require is something, not for the study, but for the removal of unemployment. If honorable senators are in any doubt as to whether there is an unemployment question in Australia they must be particularly dense. Does even Senator Gray tell me that he is in doubt as to whether there is any unemployment question in Australia?
– There is no doubt about it here or anywhere else in the world.
– What do we require a study of it for?
– I think it is very important that we should study it.
– I should say that before honorable senators take a seat in this chamber, where they have to deal with legislation affecting employment, they should have finished their studies on that question.
– I thought the honorable senator recognised that that was a study which would have to be continued as long as the race continued.
– When honorable senators come here they are supposed to be economically educated. They are supposed to know when dealing with Acts of Parliament exactly what their economic effect on employment or unemployment is likely to be.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that every one here claims to know everything and that the last word has been said on everything?
– I say that it is merely playing with words to propose to appoint an Inter-State Commission for the study of unemployment and of a scheme of insurance against unemployment. Some of my honorable friends thought that this meant that the Government were going to establish a scheme for the removal of unemployment. In fact, Senator Neild said that the Government appeared to have discovered a socialistic measure. I interjected at the time that they had better look out for Senator St. Ledger, who has been informing the women that the Government party are opposing all forms of Socialism.
– That is only what somebody says I said.
– Well, the newspapers are very friendly towards the honorable senator at the present time, and I am sure they would not misrepresent him. This Inter-State Commission is not going to establish or bring about a scheme for insurance against unemployment. Nothing so drastic is proposed.
– Because only Parliament could do that.
– The Commission is going only to study a scheme.
– In order that data may be compiled which will enable Parliament to give legislative effect to it.
-It may suit the Government to put forward that sort of thing to create a glorious hope of something to be done in the future, but I venture to say that if that proposal is put side by side with our proposal for a progressive land tax, and the people of Australia are asked to say which they prefer, they will be in no doubt. If we put before the people a proposal for the appointment of a nebulous body in the far distant future that is to study unemployment and a scheme for insuranceagainst it and side by side with that a proposal for a tax on the unimproved values of land that will break up the land monopoly, give employment, and, to a certain extent, abolish unemployment, I have no doubt as to which of these proposals the people would cast their votes for.
– Was all this done in New Zealand by a progressive land tax ?
– Whilst they were carrying out that policy they dealt in New Zealand with the unemployed question in a more practical way than it was dealt with in any Australian State. It is only since they ceased to bring forward progressive legislation that the unemployed are beginning again to assemble in the streets of New Zealand cities. Then we find that this Commission is going to supervise - the working of the existing Customs Tariff in its operation upon the investment of Australian capital and labour in Australian industries, advising the removal of any inconsistencies in its schedules, and also with the further view of developing preferential and other trade relations within the Empire.
I think that Senator Best made the most vigorous, and certainly the most definite, speech that was ever made in this Chamber on the question of preferential trade. The honorable senator has sitting to-night on his left hand a supporter in Senator Pulsford, who from his point of view delivered if not quite as able, at least as earnest a speech on the same subject. Senator Best’s proposal for preferential trade was that we should raise a wall against foreign countries and remove a brick for the Mother Country. The wall was to be one brick lower for the Mother Country. I can remember the vigour with which Senator Pulsford denounced Senator Best’s idea of preferential trade, and how he ridiculed and constantly voted against it throughout the consideration of the Tariff, as did others who are now sitting with Senator Best.
– Is there any greater difference in the juxtaposition of my two friends here and the juxtaposition of freetrade Senator Pearce and protectionist Senator W. Russell behind him?
– Yes, there is this difference, that on the question of preferential trade, to which I am referring, in common with Senator W. Russell, I supported the 5 per cent. preference proposed by Senator Best on every occasion, whereas Senator Pulsford did not support it on anyone occasion. Further, so far as my position is concerned, no statement made by a Labour Government, or any other Government, could interfere with my fiscal principles. Are we to understand that this statement to which I have referred represents only that section of the present Government and their followers who thought, talked, and voted, as Senator Best did when the Tariff was before us ? Are we to understand that there are only ten in another place, and only three in this Chamber, who believe in this portion of a programme put forward as representing the views of the whole Government, and that Senator Millen and others who think with him have abandoned their principles for those held by the three who have advocated preferential trade in this Chamber before? Although I was one of three, and I think we did not at any time number more than three free-trade Labour,members in this Chamber, I never found the other members of the party sinking their protectionist ideas for mine.
– But the honorable senator had to vote Protection before the consideration of the Tariff was completed.
– I made no secret of the fact that, although I was a free-trader, I was never a revenuetariffist. I would sooner at any time support a duty which wouldprohibit importations than a duty which would allow importations with the object of collecting taxation upon them. I said so when we were dealing with the Tariff, and in carrying out that view on certain occasions I voted for higher duties than even the present Minister of Customs voted for. I contend that this statement is an attempt by the Government, under the guise of saying that they are going to do something for preferential trade, when they know that they are not agreed upon it, and that their followers are not agreed upon it, to shelter themselves behind the Inter-State Commission. In other words, the Inter-State Commission is put up in order to make it appear that in some marvellous way, and by some feat of legerdemain, it is going to influence the views of the Government and their followers. I venture to say that if we are going to have preferential trade from the present Government and their following as represented in the Senate, it will be more in line with Senator Pulsford’s idea than with that of Senator Best, because Senator Pulsford has the larger following in this Government. I now come to the way in which the Government propose to deal with the question of the New Protection. I quote from the statement -
Any, divergencies between industrial conditions in the several States which occasion an unjust’ competition between Australian industries in different States will be adjusted by the Inter-State Commission, with, of course’, due regard to all the interests affected, whether or not the unjustly competitive rates exist under the authority of local industrial tribunals.
If I were an employer paying 6s. per day in Melbourne, I should consider it unjust competition if another employer in the same line of business were paying only 5s. per day in Tasmania. It .would not matter to me that the Tasmanian rate had been fixed by a local Wages Board, or that the cost of living, or the purchasing power of wages, in the two States differed. What would concern me, and what I should have to look at, would be the wages cost of my production, no matter what conditions determined the wages in Tasmania and in Victoria. The competition would be to me an unjust com petition, if there were any differentiation in the direction of lower wages than I would have to pay.
– Then the honorable senator is in favour of a uniform rate of wages throughout the Commonwealth.
– No; I am pointing out that that is apparently what the Government is going for.
– And the honorable senator disapproves of it?
– I do. That is what the Government must go for if they are to carry out the principle they have laid down in this statement; and if, in their own words, they are going to remove “ unjust competition between Australian industries in different States,” they must be in favour of a uniform wage throughout Australia:
– Let the honorable senator read on.
– I shall read the passage again -
Any divergencies between industrial conditions in the several States which occasion an unjust competition between Australian industries in different States will be adjusted by the Inter-State Commission.
What are industrial conditions? To me as an employer they would be the wages I pay, the hours worked, and the conditions that had to be observed. It appears to be proposed to establish the Inter-State Commission as a Board, to which I could appeal from a Wages Board of my State.
– We do not propose anything of the kind.
– That is the statement made, not only in the document from which I am quoting, but in the programme as issued by the allied parties.
– The honorable senator has absolutely misread it.
– The statement, is made that the Board of Trade would be a sort of appeal board to which the parties might appeal from the States Wages Boards where differential- conditions exist.
– I do not wish to interrupt the honorable senator, but he has misread the” proposal, and later on in the session, if he reminds me, I shall undertake to show him his error.
– I quote again from the statement. It is stated! that divergencies between industrial conditions in the several States- will be adjusted by the Inter-State Commission, with, of course, due regard to all the interests affected, whether or not the unjustly competitive rates exist under the authority of local industrial tribunals.
– There is nothing there that suggests uniformity of wages throughout the Commonwealth.
– I shall show the honorable senator how that is suggested. We have Wages Boards established in several of the States already. Only a little time ago in New South Wales, under the local Industrial Disputes Act, a request was made for an increase of wages. Evidence was brought forward by employes to justify the increase demanded. The employers then stated their case, and what was their defence ? Did they bring evidence to show that the wages asked for in the State were unjust. No. They simply brought forward the Wages Board rate payable in that particular industry in Victoria, and showed that it was lower than the Wages Board rate which the employes were asking in New South Wales. I think that it was Mr. Justice Simpson, who, in giving his award, said that he would not grant the rate asked for by the employes, notwithstanding that they had made out a strong case, because to do so would subject New South Wales manufacturers to unfair competition. Consequently, he awarded the Victorian rate of wages. This illustration is sufficient to evidence the way in which State Wages Boards operate. Compare the result with the decision which has been arrived at by the Federal Arbitration Court. In the Harvester Excise case Mr. Justice Higgins laid it down as a guiding principle that in arriving at his determination of what constituted a “ fair and reasonable wage,” he would not be influenced by the determination of any State industrial authority whatever. In order to give effect to the New Protection, the late Government proposed to establish a Federal tribunal, which would not be merely a Court of Appeal from a State tribunal, but which would be absolutely independent of such tribunals, and which could- as it did in the harvester case - lay down what it regarded as proper wages conditions, not only throughout Australia, but in different portions of one State. We saw the result of the exercise of its jurisdiction in the shearers’ dispute, in which Mr. Justice O’Connor laid down three different rates and prescribed varying rates as between New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria. In giving judgment in the harvester case, too, Justice O’Connor said that he had determined the case upon Victorian evidence, but if any other State felt that - by reason of local living conditions - the wages which he had awarded did not comply with the standard that he had set up, he was willing either upon the application of any union or of any employer affected, to hear an application for a revision of the rates either in respect of the whole State or of any part of it.
– In the harvester case was not the South Australian rate mutually agreed upon by the parties, and confirmed by the Court?
– I think that it was. That, however, does not affect the point which I am making, namely, that the New Protection, to which we sought to give effect, would’ have clothed the Federal Court with power to deal with all protected industries, and to lay down con ditions absolutely independent of any determination arrived at by States Wages Boards.
– In other words, the honorable senator would wipe out all State jurisdiction.
– What is. the difference between the two propositions? Quite recently in this State, Mr. Justice a’Beckett was asked to say what was meant by “ a minimum wage” under the WagesBoards system of Victoria. He was asked to fix a wage which would allow a man to marry and maintain a family. But what happened? In his judgment he said that as he read the Factories Act of Victoria and the Wages Boards provisions of that Act, he was not authorized to take into consideration either a man’s wife or his family; that he was empowered only to consider what was a living wage for the man himself. Let honorable senators compare that decision with the interpretation placed upon the Federal law by Mr. Justice Higgins, who declared that hewas empowered to decide what was a fair and reasonable wage to pay a man who had to support a wife and family in an average degree of comfort, and to make provision for. old age, sickness, and privation. This Government has now declared that it will throw overboard the standard fixed by Mr. Justice Higgins, and the decision which he has registered. It will not endeavour to secure an amendment of the Constitution with a view to enabling us to have a tribunal such as we desire, but it wilT legalize the determinations of State tribunals, one of which during the past few weeks has affirmed that it has no power to take into consideration a man’s wife and family.
– The States have power to correct that.
– They have possessed the power for eight years, but what sort of correction have they made? There was a time when the Legislative Council of Victoria entirely suspended for several months the operation of the Factories’ Act - even of its sanitary provisions.
– And in South Australia its operation was suspended for five years.
– Exactly. It was only under dire threats that the Legislative Council of Victoria was induced to agree to the appointment of Wages Boards. Have we any hope that the Legislative Councils of the States will pass a measure which will1 clothe State industrial tribunals with the powers which Mr. Justice Higgins has de- dared are possessed by the Federal Arbitration Court? Not only will they refuse to do so, but in this State the Premier has declined to do so. After the case which I have cited was decided by Mr. Justice a! Beckett, the Tanners and Leather Workers’ Union approached Mr. Murray and asked him to introduce an amending Act which would provide for the payment of “ a fair and reasonable wage” - thus using the very words which Mr. Justice Higgins employed in the harvester case. Mr. Murray declined to accede to the request. The present Government is supported by the Employers’ Federation and by the Manufacturers’ Association of Victoria. Is it not a fact that the Employers’ Federation, which has always banned with “bell, book, and candle” wages board legislation-
– That is not so.
– I say that the Employers’ Federation of this State has always fought factories legislation, and has at all times declared itself against it. Just prior to the amalgamation of political parties which has recently taken place - prior to Senators Trenwith and Dobson joining hands, and to Senators Pulsford and Best becoming political partners - there was an amalgamation in this State between the Employers’ Federation and the Manufacturers’ Association, and those bodies agreed that for the purpose of giving effect to the New Protection they were prepared to accept the determination of the State Wages Boards. I do not wonder at that. What was the alternative with which they were confronted? They knew perfectly well that there was a Government in power which intended to register throughout Australia Mr. Justice Higgins’s declaration as to what was a fair and reasonable wage. To remove the late Administration from office and to promote the fusion of political parties which has taken place in this Parliament, they agreed to amalgamate their forces. They have succeeded in installing in office a Government which will give its adherence to a proposition that “ a fair and reasonable wage “ ought not to take into consideration a man’s wife and family. We know that on a former occasion Mr. Walpole declared that a man’s wife and family were luxuries.
– There is not a Wages Board in New South Wales which in its awards does not take into consideration a man’s wife and family.
– But there are some States in which the local industrial tribunals affirm that under the law they can take no cognisance of a man’s wife and family. The present Government is supported by the Women’s National Association, and we know that one of its champions is Senator St. Ledger. He is one of its pet lecturers, and is always appearing at its meetings. This Association poses as the champion of the purity of the home and the sanctity of the marriage tie. But how do the Government propose to uphold (.he sanctity of the marriage tie and the purity of the home? By recognising Wages Boards which cannot take into consideration the working man’s wife and family.
– - The honorable senator is drawing upon his imagination.
– I am merely using the words which were employed by Mr. Justice a’Beckett in this city only last week. He declared that, although a strong case had been made out by the employes, his reading of the Wages Board provisions of the Factories Acts was that he could not take into consideration a man’s wife and family, but must have regard only to the man himself. We have a Government asking a democratic Parliament to recognise that decision-
– lt would have been quite competent for the President of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to have expressed a similar opinion.
– The Government proposal is expressly designed to override any decision by a Judge who may have given4 an incorrect opinion-
– But we have “no reason to believe that the opinion expressed by Mr. Justice a’Beckett is an incorrectone, seeing that the tribunal over which he presided was a court of final appeal. There had already been a decision given by the Wages Board. The employes were dissatisfied with that decision, and appealed to Mr. Justice a’Beckett. He did not say that they were not entitled to the rate which, they sought ; but he did say that under the law as it stands, he was not able to take! into consideration a man’s wife and family.
– The President of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court might have said exactly the same thing. Is not that so?
– No; because Mr. Justice Higgins, in laying down the rule to which I have referred, merely followed the lines of a previous decision given by Mr. Justice O’Connor. The latter permitted evidence to be tendered regarding the cost of the maintenance of a man’s wife and family, and thus admitted the principle which was afterwards so eloquently stated by Mr. Justice Higgins. These two Justices of the High Court have laid down an entirely different principle from that which is recognised in the Factories Act of Victoria, according to the dictum of Mr. Justice a’Beckett. If it be merely a question of bad law - as is suggested by Senator Best - why does not the Premier of this State make it good law ? I am satisfied that we shall not get anything better from the Parliament of Victoria, because Mr. Murray knows perfectly well that, even if he could get an amending measure through the Legislative Assembly, it would not be approved by the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council of this State is the pet legislative body of the Employers’ Federation; and that Federation is in favour of sweating. The proof of my statement is to be found in the fact that the Employers’ Federation has fought tooth and nail/ against every instalment of Wages Board legislation in this State, and fought bitterly both with money and literature.
– Against sweating.
– They fought against sweating because Wages Boards were instituted to do away with it.
– Those two things are entirely different.
– I mean that they fought against the legislation against sweating.
– And one of the leading employers of this State was one of the most prominent men in bringing about the establishment of Wages Boards.
– That may be. I know that there are plenty of employers who are fair-minded and generous, but the Employers’ Federation of this State - the only organized body which speaks for employers, and, therefore, the only one to which we can look - have, timeand again, denounced the Factories Acts of this State, the Wages Boards, and every Arbitration Bill which has ever been proposed.
– And I have heard many employers express themselves as highly favorable to Wages Boards.
– So have I. I know plenty of employers who to-morrow would vote for the creation of a Wages Board in their industry. But I point out that where we have an organization speaking for employers we must pay regard to its voice, and up to the time of this amalgamation its voice was always directed against Wages Boards.
– That is not correct, but it is only a detail.
– It is absolutely correct. The present Government propose to ask the Federal Parliament - which passed the harvester legislation and established a Court, in which Mr. Justice Higgins made that magnificent declaration as to what was to be the right of the workers of this country - to go back upon what we have done and accept what Mr. Justice a’Beckett says is the only declaration he can give. So far as my voice can reach them, I want the people of Australia to know that behind this mass of words lies that intention ; that, stripped of all its sophistry, that is what the federalization of Wages Boards means, and that this Government are going to make marriage impossible for the workers.
– Rubbish !
– At their present wages, it is impossible for a great number of workers of this city to marry. It is bringing about a state of immorality. Talk about the sanctity of the marriage tie ! Nothing leads more to the destruction of its sanctity than do low wages. Having regard to the judgment of Mr. Justice a’Beckett, the Government are open to the charge that they want this Parliament to legalize a system which does not recognise marriage.
– Why does not the honorable senator say that the Government want to murder them by starvation ?
– Are not employers advertising every day for married couples without encumbrances ?
– In some States there are no Wages Boards. If Senator Dobson is an advocate of Wages Boards, why has he been dumb for so many years on the question in Tasmania? Why is it that in that State they never talked of establishing a Wages Board until they saw the ogre of a Federal Court coming to them? It was not until then that Mr. Evans, who, by the way, was deposed from the Premiership by a caucus, announced that the Government intended to move in the matter. He had a parliamentary majority for years, and did not act. It was not until the Commonwealth was placed under the Labour Government that he intimated his intention to institute Wages Boards in his State. Not that he believed in them; not that he thought that they were necessary; but in order that the Federal Parliament should have no justification for setting up industrial tribunals in the State. He was childish and simple when he said that the object of the legislation was to render it unnecessary for the Commonwealth to make an in-road upon State rights.
– Has the honorable senator considered the chances of whether his views on this question, if given effect to, might not be more severe upon the married man and his family?
– No, I find that tinder the declaration of Mr. Justice Higgins a man can marry. He made that the bed-rock of his award - a wage under which a man could marry, rear a family, and provide for old age, sickness, and privation.
– Has the honorable senator considered whether his decision might not be harsher upon the married man and his family ?
– That . is equivalent to asking me, “ Do I regard £2 8s. a week rather than 30s. in the light of an infliction?” Now 30s. a week is the wage laid down for workers in the artificial manure trade by the Appeal Court under Mr. Justice Hood, and £2 8s. a week was the minimum wage laid down for similar workmen by Mr. Justice Higgins. I am prepared to pocket the indignity every time.
– I am speaking of the principle, not of the rate of wages.
– Of course, the honorable senator refers to that old Tory argument, that if you raise wages you drive capital out of the country, and lessen employment.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The honorable senator refers to the old Tory idea that these industries cannot afford ‘ to pay high wages.
– No; what he means is that a great employer in Sydney, with all modern machinery, will be able to manufacture under conditions against which a man in Tasmania will be quite unable to compete.
– That is to say, the big trust is going to eat out the little trust ?
– That will go on whether we have Wages Boards or not.
– There is not a country in which it is going on more rapidly than it is in America, where they have not a Wages Board from one coast to the other.
– Inter-State freetrade has been against Tasmania.
– Undoubtedly it has been. In Western Australia the boot industry has been practically wiped out by competition from Victoria, but not because that State pays high wages. I. cannot leave this interesting paragraph without referring to the last two lines, which I think any Federalist ought to be ashamed to have penned, though, of course, I can understand a .State writer penning them -
Correspondence is now proceeding with the State Governments in respect to the procedure to be followed in order to endow the Commission with this power.
It is proposed by the Government that we should go cap-in-hand to the Legislative Councils.
– As the Constitution provides.
– As the Constitution allows, but it also provides a constitutional means for the Commonwealth to obtain additional legislative power.
– That is constitutional also.
– It is provided in the Constitution that additional power can be sought, not by correspondence with the States, but by an appeal to the people of Australia. If the latter prefer that the States Parliaments should deal with industrial matters, they have a perfect right to make that preference, and can refuse to give us the additional power which we seek. But the present Government do not propose to make an appeal to the people of Australia. They only propose to appeal to a section of the people, and that section is the property-owning people, because in every case except where the Legislative Council is a nominee body, the State Parliament is dominated by a House which represents only one-seventh of the people of the State. The Government propose to ask Legislative Councils elected on a property qualification to give this Parliament . the power to legislate on industrial matters, when, under the
Constitution, we have the right to address that appeal, not to one-seventh of the people of a State, but to the whole people of Australia. There lies the difference between the present Government and the late Government. We did not propose to go cap-in-hand to any State Premier, and ask him to allow this Parliament to legislate on industrial matters. We proposed to take the sense of the whole people of this ‘Commonwealth. I am satisfied that if the Legislative Council of Victoria has only sanctioned the establishment of Wages Boards, which’ . will net take into consideration the requirements of married men, which will only allow wages sufficient for the employe himself, it will not grant to this Parliament any additional power.
– Does the honorable senator propose that an unmarried man should have less wages than a married man ?
– No, every man should have sufficient to enable him to marry and keep a family. In the last two lines of this interesting paragraph the Government propose to ask this Parliament to surrender powers which have been intrusted to it by the people of Australia. The last Government did not propose that this Parliament should part with any one of -its powers. If a State Parliament wishes to endow the Federal Parliament with industrial power it can do so, as it could have done at any time within the last eight years. Has not there been need for taking that departure? Have there not been times when the establishment of Wages Boards have been called for, and when public meetings with that object in view have been held? We have never heard of a State Parliament proposing to hand over to this Parliament any one of its legislative powers. The present Government want to place this Parliament in a humiliating position - in the position of a suppliant to Legislative Councils composed of property owners. In the Constitution, which Senator Trenwith, with others, helped to frame, and which, I think, he should fight to maintain, the people of Australia gave this Parliament the .right to appeal to them at any time for additional legislative power. But it is not proposed by this Government to ask the Parliament to exercise that right.
– Tweedledum and tweedledee.
– There is a vital difference between making an appeal to the people of Australia and making an appeal to only one-seventh of the people. In other words, the Government proposeto make the appeal to the legislative Houses which have been the fortresses of the sweater, and which have always been relied upon to throw out every progressivemeasure.’ In Victoria the Legislative Council has suspended the operation of the Factories Act, and would do so again tomorrow if it thought fit. What the late Government proposed was to ask the people to enable the Federal Courts to deal with industrial matters in every protected industry throughout the Commonwealth, and to fix a fair and reasonable wage; to be governed by the conditions laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins. I welcome any man who is prepared to fight that question throughout Australia. We are quite prepared to have the battle. Lt another paragraph of this .printed statement we read -
An active policy of immigration will be undertaken, and will be expanded in the light, of the knowledge made available by the’ Commission and the Bureau, and with, St is hoped,, the co-operation of all the States.
If the Commission really collects facts there will be no immigration policy. The State of Victoria during the years of Federation has enjoyed most prosperous seasons. In eight years there has only been one failure of the harvest. The producers- have realized top prices for their commodities. But what is Victoria’s record in the matter of population? In the eight years there was an excess of births over deaths of 106,000. Yet in that period, notwithstanding thebountiful harvests and the high prices, Victoria lost 54,000 adults by the excessof emigration over immigration. The Stateof Tasmania has an equally bad record. Whilst the population is increasing by excess of births over deaths, Tasmania islosing her adult population. There are morepeople going out of the State than are entering it. What is the use of attempting an immigration policy when this sort of thing is going on? What are the causes?’
– The reason peopleleave Victoria is to obtain the cheaper lands in the States of New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia.
– Why are people leaving New South Wales?
– The cheaper lands of Queensland are attracting people also from New South Wales.
– Why should people leave a State like Victoria with its abundant rainfall, its agreeable climate, and its excellent land, unless there is some profound reason? Why is land cheaper in Queensland and in Western Australia? It is cheaper because there is less land monopoly there than there is in thisState. There are thousands of acres in theWestern District of Victoria upon which the whole population of this State could be settled. Take the Tweed River district in New South Wales. Senator Millen’s new chief, Mr. Deakin, recently visited that district, and he declared from what he saw that we could settle the whole population of Australia there. Why is there not a larger population in theTweed River district? The reason why our farmers leave Victoria is because land is too dear, and it is made too dear by being held in large estates.
– The honorable member surely must travel with his eyes shut. If he goes into the Western District of Victoria he will learn something by visiting a place called Terang. The Black Brothers had a large estate there for many years, upon which there were settled only a few boundary riders, with the addition of some shearers at shearing time. The Black Brothers cut up their estate into farms, with the result that to-day there are hundreds of people living on land where formerly there were only a few. What the Black Brothers have done it is possible to do on similarly valuable land in the Western District of this State.
Debate interrupted under sessional order, and sitting suspendedfrom 6.30 to 7.43’ p.m.
Motion (by Senator Findley) agreed to -
That a return be presented showing the number of employes in the Commonwealth service in receipt of salaries from £300 to£400,£400 to£500,£500 to£600, and from£600 upwards respectively.
Motion (by Senator Needham) proposed -
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report on the arrangement entered into with the State of Victoria for carrying out Commonwealth printing, the payment of wages and hours of labour in respect thereto, the adjustment of cost of the printing as between State and Commonwealth, and the conditions prevailing generally in respect to such printing.
That the Committee consist of Senators
Chataway, Dobson, Findley, Givens, Colonel Neild, Vardon, and the mover.
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
– The proposed policy of immigration will be not only nugatory, but positively harmful, unless something is done to open up the lands for the people who are here, and for those who will come. It is of no use for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to say that people are. leaving one State to go to other States where land is cheaper: The fact is that the increase of population in Victoria for the last eight years was under 1 per cent., and in the whole Commonwealth the increase of population for the last eight years was only 1.89 per cent.
– That is the yearlyaverage for the eight years.
– Yes. We have hadi this miserable rate of increase side by side with immigration policies propounded by States Governments. Furthermore, everybody recognises that Australia cannot develop without the development of our primary industries. Our progress must originate from the landed industries in the first instance. What are the States Governments doing to open up and settle the land ? They have closer settlement policies. In the State of Victoria, in the eight years to which I have referred, £1,500,000 has been spent in repurchasing about 200,000 acres, and in two years of that time, from 1906 to 1908, thebig estates of Victoria, that is, the estates over 1,000 acres in extent, have increased to the extent of 117,000 acres. One has only to visit country towns to find out what is going on. Land monopoly is increasing everywhere, at a faster rate than Closer Settlement Acts are distributing land. I was born in the State of South Australia, in one of the most prosperous farming districts, where the harvest has not failed for the last fourteen years. I was away in Western Australia for twenty-five years. When I went back there were fewer farmers than there were twenty-five years before. That is not only the case in that one district. I know of other districts in the rich fertile areas of South Australia where the population is shrinking, and the number of farmers decreasing. The policy of closer settlement merely aggravates the evil of dear land. It is created by an artificial scarcity of land. The number of competitors becomes greater than the amount of land in the market is sufficient’ to supply, and into the market comes another buyer with unlimited cash - the Government - and sends up the already artificially inflated price of land to a higher level still. This is well known to any one who has followed the operation of the Closer Settlement Act in Victoria. Agricultural land has been repurchased in this State at such high prices that the Govern-“ ment cannot get it off their hands, because people could not get a living from it if they paid for it the price at which it was bought by the Government. This evil must be remedied before we can have an immigration policy- The present Government do not propose to do anything to touch that question. The proposed Board of Trade is not to be clothed with power to break up big estates, or to buy estates, and yet the Government propose to spend money on the prosecution of an active immigration policy. I say that a policy of immigration in the face of these facts would be merely a policy to depreciate the value of labour by the introduction of labour to an already overstocked labour market. So far. as the land is concerned, unless we break up the land monopoly, there will be no additional avenues for the employment of labour thrown open, and if we do not propose to open up new avenues of employment, we shall be simply introducing labour to an overstocked labour market by encouraging immigration.
– And .the Government do not intend to touch the Tariff either.
– They cannot do that without creating trouble. The Tariff is the one thing that they must leave alone. Senator Best might agree to the opening up of land, but there is one thing which I am certain is never mentioned in private con versations amongst honorable senators opposite at the rear of this hall, and that is the Tariff. That is the one subject that is taboo at the present time.
– The honorable senator is not very full of it either.
– I have had all the Tariff I want at the present time. But 1 can remember that on several occasions Senator Best directed his remarks particularly to me when he complained that the Tariff was not yet what it ought to be. Not only is the Government policy of industrial legislation a faulty one, and one which will strike directly at the marriage tie by making marriage difficult or impossible for the workmen of Australia, but it proposes to increase the evils of competition by an active policy of immigration to bring additional workers to Australia. I quite recognise that we must have an immigration policy for Australia if we are to continue to hold the country. We must have people settled upon our lands, or we shall not be able to retain them. The merino sheep is exceedingly useful for bringing in money, but it is a very poor soldier. If we are to hold Australia, we must have some millions more of population than we have at present. The problem for every one is hew to increase the population of Australia. I say we cannot do so without dealing with the land question. The Labour Government recognised that. We associated together, as three main features of our programme, a land policy, are immigration, and a defence policy. They stand or fall together. One cannot be effectively dealt with by itself. We cannot adequately defend Australia without increasing our population, and we cannot increase our population without dealing with the land question.
– What about theNorthern Territory ?
– We have not takenover the Northern Territory yet; but if we had done so, I should still say that we must settle the empty spaces in the south as well as in the north. We shall be neglecting our duty as the National Parliament intrusted with” the defence of the country if we donot open up the areas of the Western District of Victoria and the Tweed District in New South Wales that are now lying practically unused, or used only for the breeding of sheep, and -.see that they are put tothe uses to which they might be put. Though many efforts at closer settlement have failed, where estates have been thrown* open on anything like decent terms the improved results, as compared with those obtained under the system- of land monopoly, are most marked. The Surveyor-General of South Australia, in his report for 1908, states -
Land repurchased for closer settlement since the passing of the Act in 1893 to 1908 amounted to 251,476 acres. The land was allotted to 921 persons. Average holding - trifle over 273 acres. Formerly kept only few persons and an average of about one sheep to the acre. There is now a population of 3,058 (including children), also 58,996 sheep, 3,560 cattle, and 3,406 horses; 36,838 acres were reaped last year, with a return of 467,751 bushels of wheat.
That indicates that this land, which was previously used only for sheep, is suitable for closer settlement. I know of estates on which only one or two people were employed, and on which after they were cut up hundreds were employed, and the land carried! more sheep than it did when the estates were used as sheep runs. What has been accomplished there at very great cost to the State might be accomplished a hundredfold by the imposition of a progressive land tax, which would cause the holders of large estates to put them to profitable use, or to cut them up and distribute them to small holders.. They could cut them up, as did the Black Brothers at Terang, and let them to tenant farmers, or sell the lots to small farmers. This would lead to vastly increased production, and more traffic for the railways, and people coming here would know that there was land on which they might settle. It is a very poor immigration advertisement to the people of Great Britain to say that in Victoria there was an increase of r06,00c babies; but, at the -same time, the State could not retain its adult population, and lost 54,000 more than it gained. I know! what the present Government say in this connexion. They say that we should leave the land question for the States to deal with: “ We shall get the. people here. It is the duty of the States to settle them upon the land.” I point out that in almost every State of the Commonwealth, legislation to deal with this question would have to pass in each State Parliament a House that represents the big property-holders. Such legislation must go through the House of landlords, the very men who hold the big estates. We find that that is the case if we look at the Western District of Victoria. To go over the list of large landowners in that district is like reading the roll of the Victorian Legislative Council.
– Years ago, the President of the Victorian Legislative Council said, “ Do you think we are going to tax ourselves.”
– That is the view that they take, and it would not be human nature to expect men to pass legislation to immolate themselves. Do honorable senators believe that the landlords in the Legislative Council of Tasmania are going to pass legislation to break up the land monopoly in that State? It is impossible to think it. In any case, the States Parliaments have had this problem on their hands fifty years before the establishment of the Federation, and for eight years since its establishment. During that time, Mr. Deakin has .been writing letters to the States Premiers, telling them that the Commonwealth Government was prepared to undertake an immigration policy, and the Premiers of only two of the States, Western Australia and Queensland, deigned to make any reply. So we have absolute proof that, so far as the States Parliaments are concerned, they are not likely to do more in the future than they have done in the past to deal with the land question. Mr. Murray, the Premier of Victoria, is proposing to introduce a land tax ; but the most sanguine man here does not think that the Victorian Legislature will pass a land tax.
– They did on one occasion.
– I am obliged to the honorable senator for the interjection; because it enables me to remind him that the measure, as it originally passed the Legislative Assembly, provided for a decent land tax, but it was mutilated in the Legislative Council. Senators Best and Trenwith, and other honorable senators here, know that Sir’ George Turner went to the country on this question, and returned with an overwhelming majority. The Bill to impose the tax was passed by the Legislative Assembly, and was afterwards mutilated by the Legislative Council.
– Sir Thomas Bent was agreeable to introduce a land tax ; but the Labour Party were prepared to knock him out on -it.
– I am afraid the honorable senator is romancing. The Labour Party will support a land tax if the Government supported by the honorable senator will bring it in.
– I know what the members of the Labour Party say they will do.
– I venture, without holding any caucus, to say that if the present Federal Government will give us a pledge that they will introduce a progressive land tax, we shall keep them in office for the purpose, and I venture also to say that in that event, they would not get the support of Senator Mulcahy.
– No; the honorable senator would “rat.”
– The honorable senator should not promise anything on my account.
– I should not like to say too much as to what Senator Mulcahy would do; but I am on pretty safe ground in promising rh? Government that they would not get the honorable senator’s support if they brought forward a progressive land tax. I come now to the part of the Ministerial statement dealing with defence. It is said -
Another group of proposals will be submitted in connexion with the varied issues associated with national defence.
The cable messages exchanged with the British Government concerning Australia’s offer to share in the responsibility of defending the Empire has been placed before you.
That message to the British Government is one of the most singular .communications that was ever sent by any Government, and the reply to it is appropriately singular. I have the message here -
Copy of Governor-General cablegram to Secretary of State.
Melbourne, 4th June.
His Majesty’s Ministers for Australia take earliest opportunity after assuming office to inform Prime Minister, as President of the Imperial Conference, that they will shortly submit to Parliament their proposal for defence of Commonwealth and its coasts. They now beg to offer to the Empire an Australian. Dreadnought, or such addition to its naval strength as may be determined after consultation at Naval and Military Conference in London; at which they will be represented. This offer will be communicated to Parliament immediately it reassembles.
This was the reply -
Copy of cablegram from Secretary of State to the Colonies to the Governor-General.
London, 7th June.
Confidential. - Please convey to your Ministry the warm and very cordial thanks of His Majesty’s Government for offer contemplated in your telegram of 4th June. They welcome the opportunity of consultation afforded by the forthcoming Conference on the Defence of the Empire.
Practically, what that reply meant was, “The Imperial Government thank you for your offer, and welcome the opportunity of meeting your representative in Conference.” Seeing that the present Government had had nothing* whatever to do with arranging the Conference, the reply was really equivalent to, “Thank you for nothing.”
– Did the last Government have anything to do with arranging the Conference?
– Yes; they had.
– That is news, indeed.
– My honorable friend has been so concerned about the “ fusion “ that he has neglected to read his parliamentary papers. I quote from a parliamentary paper, presented by command, and ordered to be printed on the 28th May, 1909 -
Copy of telegram from the Prime Minister to His Excellency the Governor-General at Colac, dated Melbourne, 22nd March, 1909.
Re our conversations on subject naval crisis, I desire to formally convey to Your Excellency that the attitude of the present Government is that, whilst its policy is to provide for its own defence, still, in the event of any emergency, the resources of the Commonwealth would be cheerfully placed at the disposal of the Mother Country. - Andrew Fisher.
Following that is this message, forwarded to His Excellency on the 29th April -
Confidential. - Government of Commonwealth suggests to His Majesty’s Government desirableness of convening a Conference of the representatives of self-governing Dominions at the earliest possible suitable date to consider definite lines of co-operation for the Naval Defence of the Empire.
The following is a copy of a cablegram dated London, 30th April last, from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to His Excellency the Governor-General, and received1 on the 1 st May last -
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, as President of the Imperial Conference, has desired me to ask you to convey the following message to the. Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia-
– Does the honorable senator say that that communication was a reply to one which had been despatched by the Fisher Government?
– No. But I do say that before the late Government were aware that Canada had suggested the holding of an Imperial Defence Conference we had made a similar suggestion.
– Does not the honorable senator read the newspapers ?
– Then I may tell him that on 1st April last a cable was published in the newspapers announcing that Canada had suggested the holding of a Conference on defence matters.
– That cannot beso, seeing that the Canadian Government did not arrive at a decision on the matter until 30th April.
– Did not the Imperial Government arrange for the holding of the Conference, and did they not cable to the Fisher Government in reference to the matter, before the suggestion of that Government was received bv them ?
– No. The authorities of the United Kingdom had apparently made up their minds to convene a Conference on defence matters at the request of Canada before they were in receipt of our suggestion.
– That is all that I said. The Fisher Government had nothing to do with the convening of that Conference.
– The following is a copy of the cable received by the late Government -
ThePrime Minister of the United Kingdom, as President of the Imperial Conference, has desired me to ask you to convey the following message to the Prime Minister of Australia : -
Then follows a reference to the resolution adopted by the Canadian House of Commons on 29th March last. This cable was received bv the late Government only two days after our communication suggesting the holding of a Conference on defence matters had been despatched. The probability is that the two messages were crossing the ocean at the same time. It will be seen, therefore, that we took action in the matter of requesting the Imperial Government to convene a Conference without any knowledge that the Canadian Government had done the same thing. The reply which the present Ministry received from the British Government thanked them for their offer of a Dreadnought, but did not accept that offer. It merely expressed pleasure at the opportunity which its members would be afforded of meeting our delegate at the forthcoming Imperial Defence Conference.
– The Imperial Government have not declined the offer.
- Senator Neild stated this afternoon that the press of Australia were unanimous in supporting the proposal of the present Government. Now, the Labour Party makes no boast of representing on the floor of this Parliament the press of Australia.. But its members do claim that they represent the people of their constituencies, and I venture to say that if the trial of strength which we sought a few weeks ago had been granted, some honorable memibers opposite would have found that, although the press of Australia was behind them upon the Dreadnought issue, the people were not.
– The honorable senator is quite mistaken.
– I have recently travelled over this State more than the honorable senator has done, and I venture to say that he clare not publicly advocate upon any platform the presentation of a Dreadnought to Great Britain.
– I addressed one of the largest and most unanimous meetings at the Melbourne Town Hall upon the subject.
– Order. I must ask honorablesenators not to interject so frequently. Conversations across the chamber are quite irregular.
– Further, the statement of Senator Neild that the press of Australia was unanimously behind the Government in its proposal to present a Dreadnought to the Mother Country is not correct. South Australia is one of the most, important States of the group, and there is not a single newspaper in that State which has applauded the idea. What does the South Australian Register of 8th June say concerning it ? It says -
The new Commonwealth Government has begun its administration with a foolish action which is also a tactical mistake. The offer to theImperial Government of a Dreadnought or its equivalent, subject to a definite explanation of what that equivalent may be, is little less than an ill-timed absurdity. .
Yet now - although the last excuse for urgency was removed when the Imperial Government accepted the New Zealand offer of a Dreadnought in a reluctant manner, and said that there was no need whatever to hurry over it - the Commonwealth Ministry has reversed the wise policy of the Fisher Government in this respect….. There is no question that if a Dreadnought offer were made a test question at a general election the panic screamers would be in a hopeless minority ; and as such an election is so near at hand, the Deakin-Cook Cabinet are playing straight into the hands of the Socialists.
In view of the statements which I have just read, I would suggest to the Government the advisableness of sending Senator St. Ledger post haste to Adelaide for the purpose of converting the editor of the Register. A Socialist is the honorable senator’s pet aversion, and that circumstance alone would be sufficient to stimulate him in his efforts. I venture to say that the attitude which the late Government took up in regard to the Dreadnought proposal gained it thousands of adherents, and at the first election some honorable senators opposite will find this out to their cost.
– Does the honorable senator call himself a Socialist?
– I have always proclaimed myself as a State Socialist, and I glory in the fact as a sane man. It has been said ‘by no less an authority than Senator Neild that the late Government did not understand the technical side of this question. He spoke in a contemptuous fashion of the “cockle boats” that we had ordered. In this connexion it is interesting to recall that when these torpedo destroyers were first ordered some of our friends opposite fell into a most ludicrous mistake. The destroyers are of what is known as the River class, and consequently the spectacle was witnessed of the present Minister of Defence, in attempting to ridicule the idea, inquiring. “What are they going to do with these River destroyers? Are they going to put them on the Yarra or on the Murrumbidgee?” He evidently thought that they were for use only upon rivers.
– How long is it since the honorable senator knew what was meant by a River destroyer ?
– If I had not known I would at least have taken the trouble to find out before I ventured to talk upon the subject from a public platform. Mr. Joseph Cook ought to have consulted a dictionary before ridiculing the action of the late Government.
– The unfortunate thing was that many of our leading newspapers took the same view.
– I am glad of that admission, because those newspapers and critics, whilst telling us that we did not know anything about the matter, proclaimed that they did not even know what a River destroyer was. Had they taken the trouble to consult Brassey’s Annual, they would have found out.
– Upon whose advice was this particular class of boat ordered?
– Upon advice which had been procured by the previous Deakin Government, and which was at our disposal in the Defence Department. Acting upon that advice, the last Deakin Administration was prepared to commit Parliament to an expenditure quite as large as that which we proposed. But I am in a position to quote even stronger authorities in support of our action. The British Admiralty authorities, the Admiral on the Australian statiotn, Sir Richard Poore, and the Governor of South Australia, RearAdmiral Bosanquet, have all declared that one of the most valuable forms of defence which Australia can offer the Mother Country is the maintenance of a wellequipped flotilla of torpedo boat destroyers and submarines which will be in a position to co-operate with the battleships of the Empire if the latter should ever be called to these seas.
– Vessels of the type which have been ordered ?
– Yes. I may add that there are more torpedo boat destroyers of the River class than of any other class in the British Navy. I notice, from cables which have recently appeared in the newspapers, that only a few davs ago the delegates to the Imperial Press Conference visited the yards in which boats of this type are being built, and expressed great satisfaction with them.
– They could not tell what they were like merely by seeing their hulls.
– There is no navy in the world engaged in building operations which is not constructing torpedo boat destroyers of the River type. The British naval authorities are building more vessels of that class than of any other. The advice tendered to the Tate Government was that with the money at our disposal this class of ship constituted our most effective form of defence. Whilst the speed of destroyers of the River class is not so great as that of vessels of the Tartar class, in Australian waters, which are somewhat rougher than are the seas in other parts of the world, the former will be superior to any other type of torpedo boat afloat. In rough seas vessels of the River class can steam faster than can boats of the Tartar class, which have a reputed speed of 38 knots per hour.
– Surely the honorable senator does not compare the seas round the British coast with our seas?
– I do.
– Then the honorable senator knows very little about the matter.
– Every expert I have spoken to on the subject stated that the
Great Australian Bight is absolutely the roughest sea in the world.
– The other day a ship like the Macedonia had to lay to for seven hours.
– The honorable and learned senator, who has just made a trip from the Old Country, confirms my statement. If any one can find a rougher sea than the Australian Bight he will have done a little travelling.
– That washes only a very small portion of Australia.
– It is a four days’ trip to cross the Bight. I refer Senator Dobson to the statement of a man for whom he has expressed the highest admiration - Lord Milner’. Commenting on a speech delivered by Lord Milner, an English newspaper made this statement in a leading article on the 20th April last -
The only practicable method, and, moreover, the best method is, Lord Milner maintains, for the Dominions to build up naval and military forces of their own. Though this policy may appear to involve waste in the multiplication of separate establishments, it will - assuming common principles of organization - produce the maximum of collective strength in the end. The recent announcement of the progress made in the development of the naval scheme of the Commonwealth Government, and of the impending visit of Canadian Ministers in order to consult with the Admiralty, justify a hope that Imperial Naval co-operation on these lines will no longer be thwarted by the reluctance of the Admiralty to have British Navies growing up outside ils own control in time of peace. From the telegram published this morning their appears to be some prospect of Australia taking part in the proposed consultation, in which case matters should be well advanced before the next session of the Imperial Conference which falls due in 1911.
That is from an article dealing specifically with the idea of a. local navy versus the idea of a contribution to the Imperial Navy.
– Will these small boats be any good without larger vessels ? «
– Yes. Certainly it would be better if we could have a navy which included every class of ship, but for a commencement, torpedo destroyers are the most valuable ships that we could have.
– The only point is, Will they help Great Britain to maintain the supremacy of the seas?
– I maintain that they will.
– And I contend that they will not.
– I remind the honorable senator that the supremacy of the seas may be decided either in the North Sea or in the Pacific Ocean. At any rate, wherever it had to be decided, Great Britain, as being responsible for the naval defence of the Empire, could not, and would not, leave Australia unprotected. If we can relieve the Old Country of the necessity and the anxiety of the naval defence of our shores, and enable her to concentrate the whole of her efforts wherever they may be wanted, then we shall be doing the duty which is nearest to us, and rendering the most effective co-operation we can in Imperial defence.
– No; we might do our duty in a better manner.
– I remind the honorable senator that the present Government said that they would give an Australian Dreadnought to the Old Country. Now they could not build a Dreadnought here, or man her with Australians, because we have no seamen with the necessary training.
– We soon will be able to man a Dreadnought.
– We never will, unless we have boats in which to train the men. Our Australian seamen have passed practically into the British Navy out of our control. The only seamen we have are 800 men in the permanent force, who have been trained in obsolete boats like the Protector and the Cerberus, and have never fired a gun less than twenty years old. It would simply be madness to talk about manning a Dreadnought with men who had received that sort of training. So the Government propose to go to the Mother Country to borrow the money to build the ship, and to man it afterwards with Britishers, and then they call that an Australian Dreadnought.
– Certainly not; we would man the boat with Australians very soon.
– If the honorable senator addresses an inquiry to any naval officer on the Sydney station, he will learn that the naval authorities would not trust any man with the 12-inch guns until he had been trained.
– There is not a 12- inch gun on the Australian station.
– The men would have to be trained
– But we have no means to train them
– Two years to build a Dreadnought, and two years to train the men.
– Does the honorable senator know that a seaman has to go through a six years’ course ?
– He is qualified before he has done that.
– Not for the higher classes
– Some men went into the squadron at Sydney After they had been in England for two years, going through a gunnery course, a request came from the Admiral that they should be allowed to remain two years longer in order to go through a higher course of gunnery. Before going to England, they had done two years on the Australian station ; next they did two years in a gunnery school in England, and then, in order to perfect themselves in the higher classes, they had to go through another course of two years. Therefore It takes six years to turn out men fit to man the guns on a Dreadnought.
– Does the honorable senator agree with Admiral Poore, that the Australian ships should be entirely under the supervision of the British Admiral?
– I agree with the statement of Admiral Poore, that the best service we can render to the Empire is to start a flotilla of destroyers, and to train our men to man them. Admiral Bosanquet made a similar statement in South Australia. Admiral Beresford said we could render a better service to the British Empire than by presenting a Dreadnought, and that was by cultivating in our own people a spirit for naval defence, and having a local navy.
– Cannot we do both?
– We should do both if we can, but we have not yet done the one which lies nearest to us. We have not yet commenced to form a navy.. The provision of three torpedo destroyers is an insignificant start. They are so insignificant that they excited the ridicule of those who are now talking Imperial defence. Mr. Joseph Cook, Mr. Kelly, and Mr. G. H. Reid exhausted their vocabulary in ridiculing the idea of the Labour Government ordering the construction of those boats, but to-day they are posing as those, who are in favour of an Australian defence scheme, and are prepared to do their duty to the Empire. They denounced the Fisher Government because they had dared to spend. ,£250,000 in ordering the first three boats for an Australian Navy.
– Because you broke a pledge given to Parliament.
– We broke no pledge. The only persons who made a pledge were the members of the Deakin Government. We took the responsibility of spending the money, and we are, and were, prepared to answer to Parliament for what we did.
– Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes joined in the pledge.
– Did our honorable friends bring forward any motion of censure? They knew that they dare not do so.
– We got rid of you, at any rate.
– -They knew that the people were behind us in our action. Those who condemned us had not the courage to criticise or censure us in Parliament. Not only did we command the support of British and Imperial statesmen and Admiralty authorities, but we find the great Dominion of Canada taking precisely the same attitude as we took. They refused to give a Dreadnought to the Old Country. They said that it was not the best service which they could render to the Empire.
– The circumstances of Canada and Australia are entirely different.
– Certainly they are, but Canada is just as much interested in safeguarding the Empire as we are. I do not take second place to any honorable senator in recognising this essential fact that we cannot bring our policy into effect without the protection of the British flag. Nor can our White Australia legislation be carried out except it has behind it the might of Great Britain. I recognise that any service we mav render will safeguard the Empire, but I differ entirely with those who say that we can render that service best by presenting a Dreadnought built with borrowed money to a country which has not yet commenced to borrow money for providing its own Dreadnought, while we leave the duty at our hands undone. From the Globe, of the 17th April last, I propose to quote a passage from a leading article on this very question -
But a mere monetary contribution cannot be enough to satisfy the ‘ aspirations of countries rapidly becoming conscious of themselves and eager to confront their destinies. They will claim, and rightly claim, some more active part.
The Englishman who looks across Portsmouth Harbor sees a very embodiment of his country in the old Victory and the great black battleships that lie near her. Some similar feeling will one day claim expression in Canada, Australia, South ‘Africa, and New Zealand, and, indeed, even now the Dominions show an unmistakable desire to look on their own ships in their own ports manned by their own men. Australia in particular has long since entered into negotiations with the Admiralty as to the means of Acquiring a fleet of her ‘own, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier has announced that the Canadian Ministers of War and Marine will come to London to confer with the Imperial authorities at no distant date.
– What does the honorable senator mean by the words “fleet” and “navy”? Does he mean simply torpedo destroyers and torpedo boats or seagoing vessels?
– I mean that we should start at the bottom of the ladder. If we can build cruisers, we will ; if we can build battleships, we will; but, at any rate, let us do something effective.
– Does the honorable senator think that we can afford to have both torpedo destroyers and sea-going vessels?
– Then we are commencing at the wrong end.
– A sea- going fleet is not so necessary as are torpedo destroyers, because we are not separated from the Empire. Our first duty is to protect our coastal trade.
– No; to uphold the supremacy of the seas by Great Britain.
– She is well able to do that without our assistance.
– I doubt if she will be in time to come.
– I1 propose now to quote the opinion of an Australian authority who has just returned from Great Britain and who takes a keen interest in naval matters. When he was interviewed on his return he said -
I was there during the progress of the scare, and it was apparent that the whole business was really worked up for party purposes by Tory newspapers and the Tory Opposition.
That is the opinion of a gentleman who is a good Imperialist and, I believe, a good Australian. He looks upon the. Dreadnought scare as being worked up by the Tory party for political purposes.
– Who was the person interviewed ?
– Senator Symon.
– They tabled a want of confidence motion in the House of Commons, to try and make political capital out of it.
– Yes ; the honorable and learned senator went on to say that the supremacy of the British Fleet to-day is undoubted.
– Oh ! Senator Dobson is a greater authority.
– Put Germany and Austria together, and five years hence Great Britain will not be able to do so much.
– We have the statement of British Ministers to the same effect as the statement made by Senator Symon. Let us look at what our present attitude is.
– The statement of British Ministers shows the peril of Great Britain at this moment.
– The statement of British Ministers goes to show the ability of Great Britain to cope with any two fleets in. the world at (his time. What are we doing at present in regard to naval defence? There is a Naval Agreement in force under which we compel Great Britain to keep certain ships on the Australian’ Station, in return for which we pay a subsidy of ,£200,000 a year. The party that sits on this side of the Chamber is absolutely free from any responsibility for that agreement. We voted against its ratification. Now, what does it mean? ‘It costs Great Britain every year - I have seen the returns when I was in the Defence Department - £600,000 to keep those vessels on our shores. Therefore, under that agreement, we are costing Great Britain £400,000 net per annum, and we are keeping in our waters a i-umber of ships, many of them obsolete, and which, if Sir John Fisher got his hand upon them, would be put on the scrap-heap straight away. We are keeping upon those ships 3,000 trained British seamen. Should we not render better service to Great Britain if we said to her, “ We will save you this expenditure of £400,000 per year, and will release these 3,000 trained British seamen, thus allowing you to spend that money and to use those seamen in keeping up Dreadnoughts, or in rendering whatever other service you please ; while we will provide on the Australian coast a navy competent to look after our coastal defence. ‘ ‘ That was our proposition, and I say that that policy was not only sounder, but represented a better Imperialistic policy than does the proposal of the present Government. It is a far more practicable policy; and it is a tangible one. The policy of the present Government is thoroughly unsound. There is nothing in it.
– The late Government obtained the whole of their policy from the present Prime Minister.
– Everything from the time of the flood originated with the Prime Minister !
-Robert Best. - There is something in that !
– Mr. Deakin said two years ago, or thereabouts, that he wanted the Admiralty to cancel the Naval Agreement, although now he offers a Dreadnought I
– I do not admit that it is the case that he wanted to cancel the agreement. It was the subject of negotiation.
– Correspondence ensued, in which the Admiralty referred to that very matter, and made the statement that it appeared to be the desire of the people of Australia to terminate the Naval Agreement. That such was the idea derived by the Admiralty from Mr. Deakin ‘s statement, is clear from the correspondence and the reports of the Conference.
– And Lord Tweedmouth said that if that were the wish of Australia, the Admiralty would not object.
– But the Admiralty would not take the first step.
– Still, Mr. Deakin now offers a Dreadnought!
– Mr. Deakin was the first lieutenant in the Barton Government, which originally proposed the Naval Agreement ; and it was Mr. Deakin who suggested wiping it out. At the Imperial Conference, it was Mr. Deakin who proposed a fleet of torpedo destroyers. But what was his attitude towards the Government that took the first step to give effect to ‘ that proposition? Mr. Deakin guillotined that -Government immediately. From the time it took action, he commenced to intrigue with Mr. Cook to bring about the downfall of the Labour Ministry, and he is supported by, and has behind him, upholding him, the very press that suggested the Dreadnought idea - suggested it, in my belief, with the very intention of bringing down the Labour Government.
– Why did Mr. Deakin put the Labour Government in office?
– To carry out his own policy.
– Does the honorable senator consider that any fleet that’ we could maintain for defending our coasts would be equivalent to the Naval Force at present in our waters?
– I suppose that there is no country in the world that hate stronger punitive fleets than Great Britain. That is to say, there is no country that has such fleets which can be sent to the uttermost ends of the earth for expeditionary purposes. There is no country in the world which is so strong upon the sea as Great Britain is. Yet Great Britain maintains all the year round upon her shores torpedo-boats and destroyers, which never leave those coasts. There is a young officer at present serving with our forces who has just gone through a twelve-months’ course of training in the Imperial Navy. He was on the torpedo-boat service during part of that time. He told me that on Christmas eve, when he and other officers expected to be spending their time with their friends ashore, orders were suddenly received from the Admiralty in accordance with which the flotilla was forthwith sent out to patrol the North Sea. There is not a night in the year when these fleets are not patrolling the North Sea, and Great Britain never sends them from her coasts. She keeps them there all the year round.
– I cannot see that a fleet which we could establish would be at all an equivalent for that which we have here now.
– Yes, it would be, because the only reason for the squadronbeing here now is to defend Australia from any raiding cruisers in time of war. That is the reason why the Naval Agreement was. made.
– Then we were very silly.
– I quite agree with the honorable, senator. I have always said so. But when we said to my honorable friend and others who supported the Naval Agreement that they were “ very silly,” hesaid that we were all disloyal, because we would not vote with ‘ him.
– It appears that theseloyalists must be always “very silly.”
– I come to another question. The Ministerial statement continues -
Colonel Foxton, who has been appointed to represent the Government at the forthcoming Conference in London, will take advantage of this opportunity to consult the Admiralty upon the whole question of Imperial Naval defence, and particularly as to the marine defence of the ports and coasts of Australia by the most effective vessels, manned and officered as far as possible by Australians, trained to the standards and sharing the opportunities of the Royal Navy.
When Colonel Foxton was first appointed to go to England, he did a thing which is most unusual on the part of a Minister in such circumstances. A newspaper reporter came across him, and Colonel Foxton unburdened himself as to his views on Australian defence. This is what he said, as reported in the Melbourne Herald of the 10th June - “ In regard to Naval Defence,” continued Colonel Foxton, “every Australian has an aspiration to see his country make a beginning in the construction of a local Navy. In the fullness of time Australia may be able to boast that she has a Navy which must be taken into account by other nations. That, as I have said, is a national aspiration. “ In the building up of that Navy,” Colonel Foxton went on to say, “ dependent we must be for very many years on the British Navy. We must do all things with a view to cooperation, so to speak, with the Navy of Great Britain in regard to organization, interchange of officers, construction of vessels, and armament. . There are reasons, however, why a subsidy should be continued, andI would not for a moment reduce the present amount which we pay. I would rather increase it.”
Here is a man who has been chosen by this Government to represent its opinion and Australian opinion, and who is in favour of increasing the present naval subsidy !
– Directly opposite to the opinion of the Prime Minister.
– Directly opposite to the opinion expressed by the Prime Minister at the Imperial Conference, and to the opinion of a considerable majority of the members of both Houses of the Federal Parliament, and of the public outside.
– If Colonel Foxton had his way, he would have Australia garrisoned by kanakas.
– Very unfair.
– It is absolutely true.
– Order !
– Colonel Foxton went on to say -
I would not like to see any severance of the Australian Naval Forces from those of the
Mother Country. I would bring them together in one harmonious whole, under one supreme command - in time of war, at any rate.
One stipulation of Mr. Deakin at the Imperial Conference was that there should be supreme control of the Australian Navy by the Commonwealth in time of peace, but that in time of war we should hand over the control of our ships to British officers. So that these two members of the Government, Mr. Deakin and Colonel Foxton, the delegate of the Government at the Imperial Conference, are in direct contradiction. The man who has been sent Home to represent Australian opinion on this question is in flat disagreement with his own political chief, if we may judge the views of that chief from his past utterances. Colonel Foxton was further asked by the reporter -
The Conference is to discuss also the Military Defence question ?
He said -
Yes, practically my views regarding land forces are mutatis mutandis similar to those on the naval question.
If his views on military defence are similar to those he holds on naval defence, what do we come to? His idea on the naval question was that the control of the Naval Forces should be vested in the Admiralty. If his view is similar in regard to the military question, he must be in favour of our Military Forces being controlled by British Army authorities.
– Not necessarily, so.
– But Colonel Foxton’s own statement is that his views on the military question were similar to those on the naval question. These views are certainly startling. I could only assume when I read them that Mr. Deakin, Senator Best, and others had suddenly and violently altered their views on this matter.
– Have not the Naval authorities at home altered their views?
– I am not to be led away from my point. The Herald newspaper also asked me for my views on Colonel Foxton’s statement. Referring to the remark about Australian “ aspirations,” I said that what we wanted was more respiration. It seemed to me that we were in danger of asphyxiation. We have had plenty of “aspiration” in the past; it is plenty of respiration that we want now. After these views had been expressed by Colonel Foxton, so violently in opposition to. the opinions of Mr. Deakin, we had the next day Ministers coming forward with a statement that Colonel Foxton’s views were not those of the Government, but were those of Colonel Foxton only. Before he left for England it was stated that Colonel Foxton was to be supplied with a brand new set of ideas, representing the views of the Cabinet. After he had been supplied with those views he duly left for England. I presume that he is now properly equipped with a brand new set of ideas, which have taken the place of his old ones, so that he will be able to express the views of the present Government and the people of Australia. I ask the Senate to bear in mind that this Conference is going to be a secret one. There will be no published record of it. In all probability we shall never know what Colonel Foxton said there as to the views of the Government. We shall probably never know what Colonel Foxton said as to the views of Australia on this defence question. It is deplorable that the Government should have sent to England a man so hopelessly out of touch with Australian opinion on every one of these vital points. Now we come to the military side of the question. The statement proceeds -
The policy of the Government in regard to , land defence will be founded upon the principle of universal training, commenced in youth, and continued towards manhood. A Bill for this purpose will be introduced founding the system in the schools, where immediate preparations will be made to qualify senior cadets, and in-, crease the efficiency of the forces of the Commonwealth.
I suppose my honorable friends opposite will say that that was the Deakin Government’s original proposal. As a matter of fact, however, the Deakin Government’s proposal left the cadets entirely alone, and dealt only with the militia system. They proposed to bring under this new system a lot of untrained youths, and to wipe out in one fell swoop the whole militia system. The scheme of the Deakin Government was the most impracticable and foolish scheme ever put before any country. True, the youths would become trained as time went on, but at the outset they would be entirely untrained, though they would have to take the place of the existing militia system. The scheme of the Deakin Government made absolutely no provision for the training of cadets. The Fisher Government brought forward a proposal -that compulsory training should start in the public schools and be continued up to a certain age.
– Senator Dobson should agree with that.
– Of course, I agree with it. It should have been done six years ago.
– And yet the first thing the honorable senator did was to vote against the first Government that proposed it.
– Furthermore, we proposed .to continue the militia system until the other system had thoroughly proved itself. We proposed to continue enlistment for the militia, and to maintain the present regiments and corps until the other system had provided a certain number of trained men. N.ow I come to the financial question, and, after all, the land and defence questions are bound up with the question pf finance. One of the strong objections taken by Mr. Deakin to Mr. F’isher’s policy was that he had not made adequate financial provision to give effect to it. One thing that Mr. Fisher intimated was where and how he proposed to get the money to meet the liabilities he was asking Parliament to shoulder. I ask any one to read the Ministerial statement now before us, and to point to any line in it which indicates where the present Government propose to get the money.
– Yes, there is to be what is called “ a new departure.”
– There is to be a new departure, and we must read that in conjunction with what Ministers have given to the press outside, and, when we do so, we find that this “ new departure “ is nearly 100 years old in Australia. It is the old borrowing policy, which every State in Australia has adopted for the last fifty years ; the policy of pawning the family goods, of pawning our credit to raise money.
– That is better than stealing it.
– It is, but the Fisher Government did not propose to steal it either. I can tell the honorable senator of one proposition we made. There are certain people who have become enriched as the result of Australian production, and who do not pay a single penny towards the taxation of Australia. These are people who own land in Australia and live elsewhere. The «Fisher Government proposed to impose an all-round land tax of rd. in the £i on those people, and to make them contribute to the expenses of the government of the country that is keeping them.
The present Government do not propose to tax those people to the extent of one penny. On the other hand, they propose to borrow money, and make the people who are living in the country pay additional taxation. That is their financial policy. Did it need a genius to come forward with such a policy? Did it require a fusion to strike that brilliant financial idea? Why, it is as easy as falling off a log. I might not be able to make 5s. by my industry or my aptitude for business, but, if I were the biggest fool in the country, I could go down to the nearest pawnshop and raise 5s. on my watch.
– So long as the honorable senator had a watch.
– Just so. So long as I had a watch or a watch chain, I could raise 5s. on it. I am pointing out that this is the “ new departure,” the brilliant scheme of finance which this Government was brought into existence to initiate at a time when the financial position in Australia is most acute. According to the statement itself, the next eighteen months is going to be the most acute period financially the Commonwealth has ever had to face, and to meet it the present Government have evolved the brilliant idea of pawning their watch, and they call it a “ new departure.”
– What a prophet !
- .Sir John Quick says so. Does the honorable senator repudiate Sir John Quick’s statement that the Government intend to borrow to finance the Post and Telegraph Department?
– Can the honorable senator mention a single civilized country that does not borrow ?
– I’ can mention a country that has borrowed pretty nearly enough, and that is Australia. Australia has borrowed £250,000,000, or £60 per head of its population. Every man, woman, and child in Australia is pledged to the extent of £60 of borrowed money, and so I may well say we have borrowed nearly enough.
– What is the value of our assets ?
– We have splendid assets, no doubt. I want to say that I am not an opponent of borrowing per se, if a good cause and sufficient justification can be advanced. People borrow in conducting their private business. But I see no justification for borrowing at present, and there are other means of financing the Commonwealth during the ensuing eighteen months. We are going to give a Dreadnought to Great Britain, or some other alternative, and that will involve us in an expenditure of £2,000,000. So far as the Government are concerned, it is only necessary that Great Britain should say “ Yes “ to their offer, and they must find £2,000,000.
– New South Wales and Victoria were willing to do it if the Commonwealth did not do it.
– They would have had to borrow the money, and pay interest on it. The people of the country to whom we are going to give a Dreadnought spent, last year, £34,000,000 on the Navy, of which £12,000,000 was spent in the building of battleships and other ships of war, and they never borrowed a single penny. We are going to the rescue of that country with a brilliant suggestion for the borrowing of £2,000,000 to assist a country that has not found it necessary to borrow a penny.
– And we are going to borrow the money from the people of that country, too.
– That country is faced with a deficit in its finances,’ and what is it proposed to do there ? It is not proposed to borrow, but to tax petrol used for the motors of rich men ; and to tax the unearned increment of land.
– No, they propose to drop that.
– Five-sixths of the proposals of the British Government comprise taxation on the rich and wealthy people of Great Britain. How does the Commonwealth Government propose to find the money necessary to pay the interest on the £2,000,000? Let honorable senators bear in mind that if they do not give a Dreadnought the existing financial obligations of the Commonwealth involve the raising of more revenue within the next twelve months. If they do not give a Dreadnought, a torpedo boat, or even the Cerberus to the Old Country the Government must find more money in the next twelve months. We proposed to find it by the imposition of a progressive land tax.
– How much did the honorable senator expect to get from the land tax?
– I do not know. Owing to the absence of data it is impossible, to estimate accurately, but taking the result of the land tax in South Australia, I venture to say that we should have received about £1,000,000 a year from the progressive land tax and the absentee land tax proposals.
– I thought the progressive land tax was to burst up the taxable estates.
– We hoped that in a few years time there would be no revenue derived from the progressive land tax. The revenue from the absentee land tax would, of course, continue. We did not want a continuous revenue from’ the progressive land tax, because we depended upon the additional prosperity which would be brought about by the bursting up and the settlement of the large estates and the increase in Customs revenue, which would have followed the increased settlement.
– The honorable senator said he did not believe in obtaining revenue through the Customs.
– I do not.
– Yet the honorable senator was depending on it.
– I was not. It is a matter beyond my power, and Customs; taxation was’ in many cases imposed against my vote. But the “ fusion “ has come about,- and it is agreed that the Tariff shall not be touched except to remove anomalies on a revenue basis. ‘ It is not to be touched except for revenue purposes.
– Where does the honorable senator read that in the Ministerial statement?
– I do not read it that way.
– If the honorable senator looks into the matter he will find that the Government cannot touch the Tariff except for revenue purposes. However, I will put this simple question to honorable senators, which will clear up all doubts on the matter. Will any honorable senator on the Government side say that they will not introduce taxes on tea or kerosene ? The silence is painful. We know very well that what is in the minds of honorable senators opposite is that they will get the necessary revenue, or some of it, by taxes on tea and kerosene.
– Where did the honorable senator hear that ? Is that an effort of his imagination ?
- Senator Gray, unfortunately, was not admitted to the caucus at the Grand Hotel where it was fixed up, -and therefore probably does not know any thing about it. ‘ He will find that I am something of a prophet if the present Government live long enough to bring down their financial proposals. Here we have the British Government keeping up the navy by means of increased taxation placed on the shoulders of the owners of wealth in Great Britain, and the Australian Government coming to the rescue of the British Government, and presenting them with a Dreadnought, the interest on the cost of which they propose to meet by taxation of tea and kerosene. I come now to the last paragraph of the statement, and it is certainly a very cheerful paragraph with which to wind up : -
It is hoped that allowing for a searching criticism of all Government measures in the public interest the business programme now presented - and I ask honorable senators to look at it - will be proceeded with in a business-like manner during a fruitful session.
I venture to say that if any accountant of a public institution dealt with finance in the manner in which it is dealt with in this statement he would get the sack. No one realizes more fully than I do that we are faced with a most acute financial crisis in Commonwealth affairs, but at such a time thi present Government come down without a single proposal to meet the financial stringency. I see Senator Best smiling, but I remember that he addressed a meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall, at which it was proposed to present Great Britain with a Dreadnought, and he was a member of the Deakin Government whose Minister .for Defence submitted proposals in his defence Estimates, including one to buy guns to arm and defend the principal ports of Australia, and in particular the port of Newcastle, the most important .coaling station in the south-, em hemisphere. Newcastle is at present defended by obsolete guns, but when the Minister of Defence in the last Deakin Government came along with a proposal to buy two guns to defend that port, which would be a coaling port and a port of refuge for His Majesty’s ships the patriotic Deakin Government cut out the proposal. Why did they do so? Because they found that to do what was absolutely necessary to keep the Defence Forces going as they ought to be kept going would cost more than the one-fourth of the Customs and Excise revenue belonging to the Commonwealth. Rather than face Parliament with some proposals for new taxation, they cut out what was absolutely essential to keep the Commonwealth Defence Forces going. When I took charge of the Defence Department, what I found was that, so far from being able to give a Dreadnought to Great Britain, we had only one rifle to give every ten rifle men in the country. After we had scraped up a lot of old rifles and put new barrels on them we were able to make the magnificent offer of one rifle for every five riflemen in the country. We were compelled, owing to financial exigencies due to the action of the Deakin Government, the men who now proclaim their interest in Imperial defence, to cut out all the senior cadet camps throughout the Commonwealth. We could not find the few shillings necessary to enable the senior cadets to go into camp.
– There was not enough money to repair the Cerberus, and she had to be towed about by a tug.
– However, the Fisher Government came forward and said that they were going to make the defence of this country a reality. They proposed to tell Parliament exactly what would be required to equip and maintain our Defence Forces, and to ask Parliament to vote the necessary money, and they came forward also with deliberate proposals for taxation, to find the money. The spokesman and leader of the present Government, Mr. Deakin, said he had not much objection to the programme, but he did not see where the Government were going to find the money.
– Nor did anybody else.
– Can the honorable senator point, in the Ministerial statement now before us, to anything which will show how the present Government propose to find the money ?
SenatorSir Robert Best. - Do honorable senators opposite put all these things into a Governor-General’s speech?
– Yes ; we did.
– Pardon me; honorable senators did not; they included a number of pious aspirations in the Governor-General’s speech.
– All our financial proposals were put before Parliament and the country. We said - and we were prepared to accept full responsibility for our statement - that for every proposition that we had submitted we had made adequate financial provision without borrowing a single penny.
– The Fisher Government made absolutely no financial provision for 1910.
– Before concluding, I wish to say that I am not concerned with the fusion which now occupies the Government benches. I think that its consummation is a good thing from the standpoint of the interests of the party with which I am associated. I believe that it will result in a tremendous accession of strength to our party at the first election. Hitherto many members of this Parliament, under the pretext that they supported the same policy, have been accustomed to receive votes which ought to have gone to the Labour Party’s candidates. The people will know in future that there is a distinct line of cleavage between them, and consequently will not be gulled as they have been. I sympathize deeply with the position in which some honorable senators have been placed. The fusion which has occurred has, I am reminded by Senator McGregor, excited some attention even amongst our poets. I hold in my hand a poem, the inspiration for which was the following paragraph -
As I say, it all depends upon policies, and policies must be dealt with first. At the same time, we may be pulling in the same boat when our boat is threatened from the same quarter. There are various kinds of combinations, from alliances based on principles to fusions of temporary unions and understandings. - Somewhat cryptic utterance by Alfred Deakin.
The poem reads -
Tho’ it sounds a trifle mystic,
Somewhat vague and cabalistic,
When you come to analyze the inner side
Of political alliance
You will find it is a science.
That embraces matters delicate and wide.
It involves the close cohesion of the faction or cabal,
And the very fleeting friendship of the temporary pal.
But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the shore,
Never mind wot boat yer in, struggle at yer oar.
Cook is on the gunwale, cursin’ us f er cows ;
Deakin’s in the stern-sheets, Mauger’s at the bows ;
The stormy winds are blowin’ an’ the enemy’s at hand ;
We must settle it among us when we’re safely on the land.
There’s the Temporary Fusion ;
Which is mainly an illusion
When you view it in the light of ev’rv day.
But politically? - truly
Tis a state in which, unduly,
You are never pledged or promised either way.
An ideal party union, where a man may trim his sail ;
Though vulgar folk allude to it as “sitting on a rail.”
But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the shore.
We’ll settle in the harbor when the hurricane is o’er.
Quick is partly inside; Irvine’s partly out;
Willie Kelly’s overside, floundering about;
Forrest’s at the mast’ead, lettin’ out a roar.
Never mind who owns the boat, pull for the shore.
Then there’s the Coalition,
Which is entered on condition
You can swallow certain principles with ease.
Tis corruption sugar-coated ;
And no matter how you’ve voted
In the past, you now may change it if you please.
Though the common crowd may scoff at the reversal of your vote,
If you murmer “Coalition” you may safely turn your coat.
But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the land,
Never mind who owns the craft, lend a Trillin’ hand.
Smith is on the bowsprit, yellin’ “ Anti-Sosh “ !
Reid is on a tow-line, draggin’ in the wash;
Jawbone Neild is founderin’, shoutin’ for a rope;
But pull, lads, pull, for the shore’s our only hope.
Note you now the Understanding,
Quite devoid of party branding.
Where the parties undertake to understand
That, in certain set conditions,
They’ll - consider their positions,
And reach out for what they want with either hand.
And for the country’s welfare and the nation’s lasting good,
They agree to understand that they are all misunderstood.
But pull for the shore, lads, pull for the shore,
Groom is on the fore’atch with ‘arf a dozen more ;
Knox is in the chart-room makin’ up his mind ;
Wilks is on a hen-coop, draggin’ on behind.
Never mind the company ; only keep afloat,
You can’t be too particular who’s mannin’ of the boat.
– Who is the author?
– A gentleman who signs himself Den. 1 wish now to deal with the excuse that has been put forward by so-called Liberals for their action in joining the recent fusion. They say that they did so because the Labour Party was attacking them in their constituencies. Stripped of its sophistry, what does that mean? What is the reason for our presence here? Am I here for my own personal advantage, or am I here to register the opinion of the people of Western Australia upon the legislative proposals which come before me? Am I not here to give statutory effect to their will ? My presence in this Chamber, I take it, is merely incidental. What is of importance is that the people of Western Australia should be able to place upon the statutebook the views which they hold. It is merely an incident whether Senator Dobson or myself or somebody else registers those views. But the excuse urges by members of the Liberal Party is that the one essential is not that they should register the will of their constituents, but that they should save their own political skins. Because a party with whom they say they held identical views was preparing to fight them in the constituencies, they turned their backs upon all their political opinions.
– The Labour Party started to attack them while they were in alliance with it.
– That does not justify their change of attitude. The onlyquestion to be considered is, “ Are these men standing by the pledges which they gave the electors on the hustings?” The question of principle is, “Are we carrying out the promises which we made to our constituents?” Are Senators Trenwith and Best in joining hands with Senators Walker and Pulsford doing what they promised the electors they would do? Certainly not. They are putting their own political well-being before the principles which they publicly avowed that they would stand by. When we get them before their masters - the electors - I am satisfied that the policy enunciated by the Fisher Government will find its way to the statute-book, while the vague generalities contained in the Ministerial statement submitted yesterday will be relegated to the waste paper-basket, to which they properly belong.
.- Such an enormous quantity of business is awaiting our consideration that I should like to get to it without delay I therefore intend to occupy only about fifteen minutes in discussing the question of naval defence, in which I take a very deep interest. But owing to the last few words uttered by Senator Pearce, I must devote about five minutes to a consideration of the political situation. It is astonishing how easy it is for us to see faults in others without being able to detect any in ourselves. I should have thought that a common-sense man like Senator Pearce would have said nothing about the political situation, because I am satisfied that the more there is said upon it the worse it will be for the Labour Party. We all recollect that upon a. certain date last session, its members joined in declaring that Mr. Deakin possessed the con- fidence of the House of Representatives, and that within fourteen days thereafter, they turned him out of office. If ever a party proclaimed to the world by unmistakable acts that they were after office, and wished to gain the Treasury bench by whatever means lay in their power, the Labour Party did so. The idea of endeavouring to keep a man in office because they believed in his policy, and because he was in alliance with them, apparently never occurred to them. They were perfectly satisfied to support Mr. Deakin for years, but at last they began to think that there was £~ .13,000 annually attaching to Ministerial office. Accordingly, they said to Mr. Deakin : “ Twenty-seven of us have kept you in office for two years and three months. How long are you going to keep us in office?” Whether Mr. Deakin answered that question I do not know, but evidently they expected him to keep them in office for two years and three months, because within a very short time after voting confidence in him, they tapped him on the shoulder, and said : “ Out you go.” What absolute cant it is for any man under such circumstances to get up and speak as Senator Pearce did ? He endeavoured to explain away the circumstance that whilst the Deakin Party and the Labour Party were in the closest alliance, the latter was holding caucauses all over the Commonwealth for the purpose of selecting candidates to run against every one of Mr. Deakin’s followers. Under these circumstances, was the present Prime Minister to sit down and do nothing to save his political skin ? Is he to be kept in office like a little puppy dog, whilst the Labour Party prepare to oust everybody else for this Parliament? Are we to allow that party to be the only party to organize? The whole thing is too shallow If my honorable friends opposite wish to get to the country upon this sort of cant, the sooner they do so the better. I shall be very glad to meet them upon their own platforms. They have shown to the world that they think more of ,£12,000 a year, and of portfolios than they do of the working classes. I wish now to say a word or two upon the question of naval defence. The late Government acted quite wrongly in expending the £’250,000 voted by Parliament for naval defence purposes, in view of the fact that Mr. Deakin induced the House of Representatives to take that action upon the distinct understanding that the money should not be expended until Parliament had decided the way in which it should be spent. Both Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes in voting for that expenditure actually repeated Mr. Deakin’s very words. I think, therefore, that Senator Pearce made a mistake in the action which he took. I do not admit that any Government have a right to repudiate a definite promise of that sort. The people of England forgave Disraeli for spending ,£4,000, 000 in the purchase of Suez Canal shares, because he did the right thing. I could forgive Senator Pearce if he had done the right thing; but he did not. He did absolutely the wrong thing; he wasted our money; and the moment he had acted, he went through the country saying to the people, “For eight years we have . .been fede-rated. We have had seven Ministers of Defence, but they did nothing. See what a good boy am I. See what I have done. I have spent ,£250,000.” My honorable friend spent the money absolutely in the wrong way. If I am wrong in what 1 have learnt, I am willing to unlearn ; but I do not think that I am. I have been taught by Captain Mallan, and by naval officers of all ranks, with whom T have conversed - admirals, captains, and commanders - that the important thing that stands before everything else is to help Great Britain to maintain the command of the seas.- I should not care if Hobart or Melbourne were blown to pieces, provided that we won the battle which was to determine that England was to be top sea:dog. What good would it be to us to have a cruiser or two to save one or two vessels laden with wool, and otherproduce or goods, if England was going to lose the battle, and the British Fleet to be sunk in the North Sea? If we had twenty armored cruisers, say, three or four in Australia, five or six in Canada, two or three in New Zealand, and two or three in South Africa, the hurrying qf these cruisers across the ocean might make all the difference in the world between England maintaining the command of the seas and losing it. How on earth can we do both ? Honorable senators on the other side, including my clear-headed friend, Senator Pearce, use contradictory terms, and exhibit confusion of thought. They all advocate a mosquito fleet to defend our ports and coasts, and they say that this is to be done in co-operation with the Imperial Navy. The whole crux of the position lies there. I deny that it will be done in co-operation with the Imperial Navy. The very sentence which Senator
Pearce read was, “ If ever the Imperial Fleet comes to Australia, if ever the battle of the world is to be fought off Melbourne or Hobart, then torpedo destroyers and torpedo-boats will be of great use.” Of course they would, if a thing of that sort should happen. But does any man. mean to say that the battle which is to decide the fate of the British Empire is likely to be fought near Australia? My honorable friend says that it might be fought in the Pacific Ocean. I quite agree with him ; but what will be the use to the British Navy of our few destroyers and torpedo boats if the great battle of the world is to be’ fought in the Pacific Ocean ? It is quite likely that at the next Imperial Conference, the Admiralty will advise us that Dreadnoughts are not exactly suited to our requirements. What I think would best serve our needs would be scouts or armored cruisers of from 3,000 or 4,000 to 7,000 tons, with a speed of 25 knots per hour, and the best armament that money could buy. I believe that a fleet of that sort would be of infinite use to us, and to the Empire. I cannot see that’ this mosquito fleet, or, as Captain Bellairs calls it, “ this tin-pot navy,” of ours, will be of the slightest good. My honorable friend spoke about the Imperial Conference. As I sent him a copy of my letter, I think he must know that on the 9th March last, a fortnight before the Dreadnought idea was started, I published a letter in the leading newspapers of the States, except the Argus, which published only one-half of my letter about the cadets, in which I distinctly, said that I had no belief in a mosquito fleet, and pointed out the contradictory policies. “ Here,” I said, “ is loyal New Zealand increasing her subsidy and willing to give two Dreadnoughts to the Old Country, and here is the great Dominion and Commonwealth of Australia wanting to get rid of a subsidy of £200,000, paid for the defence of its ports and coasts, and to break away from the Empire, and )ret using the words ‘ co-operate with the Empire,’ which is a contradiction in terms.” I pointed out that this contradictory policy would bring us to ruin, and suggested that an Imperial Conference of the whole Empire should be called at once, and should not separate until it had agreed upon a really co-operative scheme pf naval defence. At Home, I had the pleasure of talking to three or four admirals, and other naval officers, and I never met one such person who agreed with the idea of our defending our ports and coasts. Those who do adopt that view are simply giving way to the aspirations of a country which is striving after nation: hood. In order to please us and help us, they pretend to believe in our policy. I anticipate that the Naval Conference will point out that there is a much better way of achieving our purpose. Suppose that the whole of the oversea Dominions agree to a policy of local defence; suppose that Canada decides to defend her ports and to have a mosquito fleet all round her coasts; and suppose that Australia, with a coastline of 8,000 miles, follows her example, what possible help will that be to Great Britain in keeping command of the seas ? We may get our expenditure up to millions, and have an .enormous system of harbor and coast defence, but what good will that be when the stress comes and we have to fight for the supremacy of the seas? If any man will show me that, I shall be very much obliged to him. To believe it we will have to unlearn everything we have ever learned. I was astonished to hear Senator Pearce say, in one speech, that he had the approval of the Admiralty for what he was doing. I cannot believe that he had. He sits silent. If he oan point out to me in what article or despatch they have accepted his policy, I shall be obliged to him.
– Lord Tweedmouth, at the Imperial Conference, and Lord Granard since then.
– Do the naval experts of Great Britain believe in our trying to defend our thousands of miles of coastline ? We might get three armored cruisers for the cost of one Dreadnought.
– Quote what Lord Beresford said !
– He did not say that.
– He said, “If a catastrophe overtook the British nation, good night.”
– We all agree with that.
– I hope that we do. I consider that we have made a very bad start indeed. We are going to do somethins which I think is selfish, and will not help old England at all. A remark of mine ‘ has been misunderstood. In my letter I distinctly slated that I did not believe that the Mother Country could for much longer keep up the two-power standard with a 10 per cent, margin. We all know that as regards the United States, which could not build, but could pay for twenty Dreadnoughts as against our five, it is simply impossible to keep up that standard. If Austria, goes on laying down three or four Dreadnoughts annually for many years longer, I doubt if England will be able then to have .a fleet double the size of the combined fleets of Austria and Germany. It is a deplorable thing that, with all our wealth and opportunities, we have allowed the Mother Country to bear .the great strain of its naval defence. My honorable friend perhaps did not see a return which was tabled at my instance last session, but notprinted. Our share of the naval defence of England, taking it at £54.000, 000, is, on a population basis, .£2,400,011, and, :according to our trade, we should Day £2,470,000, but we have been paying the paltry sum of ^200,000 per year. Therefore I welcome what is called the Dreadnought scare as a kind of tardy admission on behalf of young Australia that we have been failing in our duty, that we sympathize with the Motherland, that we recognise that it was unfair to leave’ her alone to keep up the two-power standard, that it was an awful burden to place upon her poor people, whose contribution is 15s. per head, as compared with our is.’ or 2s. per head. Call it a scare if you like, but to my mind it was an admission that came from the hearts of the Australian people that they had been neglecting their duty. Virtually they said, “ We have been neglecting our duty, but we are going to make it up to you in the future, and here is. a couple of million pounds for you right off.” The Labour Party stepped forward, and, in order to curry favour with a certain section which supports them, they tried to throw cold water upon this little patriotic outburst, when the very reason of it was to show Germany that wc were determined that old England should keep ahead of her and retain the command of the seas. Did my honorable friend see the picture in Punch depicting the old British lion with young Australia, and Canada trotting round about, and the shadow of. the German Emperor in the distance, saying, “ Oh, I wish I had cubs like those’? The Fisher Govern ment would not allow the old British lion to have the cubs. When the cubs wanted to bark, and were prepared to bite a little, according to age or size, Mr. Fisher said, “ No, you cannot, our policy is a better one. We intend to go alone. We propose to have a tin-pot navy, because it will mean a little work for Australian workmen.” I should like to see Australians building all our ships.
– What did Senator Symon say about that same question a few months ago?
– I have nothing to do with what he said. T hope I have made clear my views about the naval defence of the Empire. The only way to defend our ports is to defend our supremacy of the seas. I do not intend to go into the question of military defence,, but Senator Pearce did the Prime Minister, unintentionally, a little injustice when he said that in his scheme the latter made no ‘ provision for cadets. The Prime Minister did not do as I wanted him to do; he did not adopt the compulsory system of cadets; -he said that that was to come ; but he most distinctly provided for cadets.
– In a Bill ?
– He said that he had put .some money on the Estimates. He explained that it would require an enormous number of instructors to drill all boys between the ages of twelve and eighteen, and that, therefore, he proposed to bring in the system by degrees. He distinctly stated that ‘the money he provided would increase the number of cadets at the rate of 10,000 or 15,000 per year.
– They never mentioned that in their Bill.
– That was Mr. Deakin’s policy, because I read his- statement, and I think that I wrote to him on the subject. On that point> however, I preferred my honorable friend’s policy, because it proposed to make the cadet system compulsory, as I had advocated. With these few remarks I shall resume my seat, but’ if there is going to be any more of this canting talk I should like to speak and show to the people of Australia what the Labour Government are in regard to their love for the Treasury bench and the sweets of office.
Debate (on motion by Senator Givens) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
. -In the speech which he has just delivered, Senator Dobson stated that he is prepared to discuss the policy of the Labour Party with any member of it. As a humble member of the party, I accept his challenge, and am prepared to meet him in Tasmania or at any town in Australia. It is cowardly, I consider, for a man to talk like that, and not to have the courage of his convictions.
– I am prepared to shake hands with the honorable senator on that bargain, and I will pay for the first hall myself.
– Oh, no; I want to pay half, because I recognise that theLabour Party will receive more than half the benefit. Of course, we can talk, over matters of detail afterwards; butI wish it to be understood that we are to discuss the pros and cons of the Labour Party’s platform, to which I am pledged.
– I should like to talk of the love of the Labour Party for office.
– That is not in our platform, and it has nothing to do with our practice. As a party, we stood behind the Deakin Government for a number of years, and assisted them to carry out their platform, the greater part of which was our own. Whenever we wanted to get anything special, and approached Senator Best, if we could assure him how the numbers were, we were pretty sure of him. But we got tired of that sort of thing. Wie did not gain much advantage from it, because Mr. Deakin was discredited in South Australia, and had no followers there until the fusion took place.
– Would the honorable senator mind telling me how Senator Best managed things?
– I am not going to tell an enemy of Senator Best But, before I sit down, I wish to say this of the New Protection : If I had known before what I know now, the Tariff would have been different from what it is. I was misled by the Deakin Government in reference to the New Protection. I told my constituents that I would support the New Protection principle. I was misled time after time.For that reason. I can never forgive the Deakin Government. If an. occasion arises again when the Tariff isopened, I shall see, so far as my votes go, that the farmers and the working classes get some benefit from the higher duties, aswell as the manufacturers. It was Senator Best who misled me and others, and whofailed to do his duty. More shame to him, and the party that supported him. I should have been afraid to face the electors if we had not turned the Deakin Government out.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at9.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 June 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090624_senate_3_49/>.