3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he will obtain and lay upon the table a copy of the judgment of Mr. Justice a Beckett in the appeal case of the fellmongers to, which I referred yesterday, in order that it may be available to honorable senators ?
– As the question does not involve any matter of policy, I shall ‘do my best to oblige the honorable senator.
– I suggest that in view of the position of the Government, the whole of the questions on the notice- paper should be postponed.
Debate resumed from 24th June (vide page 557) on motion by Senator Millen -
That (he paper (Further Correspondence regarding Imperial Naval and Military Conference) be printed.
– Before proceeding to criticise in detail the Ministerial programme, there is one statement made by Senator Dobson last night to which I should like to reply. He Accused the Labour Party of being actuated by nothing but the basest mercenary motives, insinuating that their only reason for displacing the previous Deakin Government was their desire to get on to the Treasury bench, so that they might share between them the provision of ^12,000 a year.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable senator confirms my statement.
– 1 judge by the actions which were taken by the Labour Party in another place.
– That is the honorable senator’s opinion, but it has no foundation in fact. There is an old saying that mankind are prone to judge everybody else by their own standard, and probably that weakness affects Senator Dobson very badly at the present time. ‘ He thinks that because that is the. sort of motive which would animate him, therefore everybody else ought to be -similarly influenced. I desire to show what sort of disinterested patriot Senator Dobson is, and in doing so I shall not indulge in any conjecture, but will merely relate facts. Let me first point out, however, that the facts are all against his contention that the Labour Party were animated by any mercenary motives, because, although a big strong party, they Supported in office for seven years a Government who were infinitely inferior in number to themselves, and asked for nothing for themselves. We did not ask for any office remuneration, or anything else. We refused to take Tiny portion of the spoils’ of office, because’ we preferred to preserve our independence in order to be able to put forward good legislation on behalf of the country.
– Is that the true reason?
– Yes. Honorable senators will know that for the last two years and a half in the Senate the Labour Party, numbering fifteen here, have been continually trying to keep a quorum, and push forward measures for the Government Party, which consisted of a miserable handful of three persons: We never asked for a single thing, in any shape or form, for ourselves. All, that we asked for was good legislation on behalf of the country, and the people we represent. Therefore, the facts are all against Senator Dobson. What sort of a man is he who makes this grave charge against the Labour Party that it is animated by the basest and most mercenary motives? He belongs to a profession whose members do not hesitate for a moment to put their patriotism in the background, and to take up a case for any body, and fight their own country.
– I rise to order, sir. I know that I cannot base my point of ‘ order oh any of our standing orders, but I base it on a well-known rule of Parliament, that it is out of order to refer’ to a member’s private business or occupation. That is a well-known, rule of the House of Commons, to which our Constitution makes reference, and one which you, sir, must be well aware is observed in some of the State Parliaments.
– The honorable senator is quite correct in saying that it is improper to allude to a senator’s private business or occupation, but I understood that Senator Givens was alluding to a profession as a body, and not directly to Senator Dobson. Of course, if his remarks came down to a direct allusion to Senator Dobson, he would be out of order, but I cannot interfere with him when he alludes to a profession in general terms.
– I cast no reflection on any man personally, or allude to him in his personal or private capacity. I am, I think, entitled to refer to any case in which a man’s private personality comes into public affairs, and he has taken part in a public matter, and it is only from that point of view that I desire to allude . to Senator Dobson. No objection was taken yesterday when Senator Dobson was making violent and base insinuations against the Labour Party. When I am replying in a most moderate way, and propose to do nothing but to quote actual facts, a whole chorus of disapprobation arises from the other side.’ If there is nothing damaging to be said, what are they afraid of?
– They are afraid of the truth.
– I am going to give honorable senators on the other side some truth, and to show what sort of disinterested patriot Senator Dobson is who makes these grave charges against the Labour Party. He belongs, as I said, to a profession whose members do not hesitate to put their patriotism behind them, and to take up a case against their country at any time.
SenatorMillen. - Is not the honorable senator’s trouble like mine, that I am not a member of that sometimes useful profession ?
– Not at the present moment. My trouble is that I have been continually interrupted by honorable senators on the other side, who know that they have grave reason to fear a statement of the true facts.
– I am sure that I have no fear. Go ahead.
– In pursuance of that very worthy object that the lawyers have of greasing their own palms, of lining their own pockets, their patriotism is such that it will allow them to take up a case against their own State.
– Against the Throne, too.
– Yes. I am not particularly cavilling at their conduct, but merely suggesting that they need not place themselves upon a pedestal and skite about their patriotism. Senator Dobson, in pursuance of his undoubted legal right, on one occasion took up a case against his own State and fought it to the bitter end.
– And got £1,800, too, which I richly deserved.
– The honorable senator fought the case to the bitter end, and to do him legal credit, I admit that he was successful. Immediately after being successful this disinterested patriot, or, rather, the firm of which he is head, sent in a bill of costs, amounting to £4,918, against his State.
– Order. The honorable senator is directly transgressing the ruling I gave just now.
-I am referring to a public matter, sir.
– I do not care whether it is a public matter or not. It is not a matter of the same character as that to which the honorable senator alluded in the first instance; that is an attack on a profession generally. He is now going into the private business affairs of Senator Dobson as a member of a firm which sent in a bill of costs, presumably for what were considered to be fair legal charges, and which were subject to taxation. The honorable senator is transgressing the ruling I gave, and is commenting on the professional action of Senator Dobson. I do not object to any political action of Senator Dobson as a public man being reviewed, but the honorable senator cannot go into his private affairs.
– I respectfully submit, sir, that you have a slight misconception of what I was saying. I did not say that Senator Dobson or his firm sent in a bill of costs to their clients. The latter were successful litigants, and the bill of costs which the firm sent in was against Tasmania, and, therefore, it is a public matter.
– I point out to the honorable senator that the question of the costs charged against a litigant is not a public matter. In the instance he refers to, Tasmania was the litigant, and that is not a matter with which we, as a Senate, have any concern.
– I would say, sir, that were it not for the fact that the taxing master struck off £5,547-
– Order. The honorable senator is now directly transgressing the ruling I have given. I request that he will not do that, but will conform to my ruling. I am sure that he does not wish to do otherwise, and, therefore, I ask him not to transgress again.
– Senator Dobson has admitted that he got£1,800 from his State.
– I think, sir, that your ruling is a novel one, so far as the Senate is concerned. I have repeatedly heard honorable senators refer to semipublic instances of the same character during the past nine years.
– I have given my ruling upon the matter, and I am not prepared to debate it.
– The costs which Senator Givens has quoted were given against a railway company in Tasmania. In my case, the costs amounted to £1,800.
– Order !
– They amounted to the sum which I have already stated.
– Order !
– Am I not at liberty to reply to Senator Dobson’s interjection?
– I recognise that Senator Givens.’ reply was provoked by the interjection of Senator Dobson ; but I must again ask him not to pursue the course which he is now adopting.
– I have already said sufficient to enable the public to judge of the disinterested patriotism of Senator Dobson, and I do not think that there is any occasion for me to pursue the matter further. I should not have mentioned it, but for the fact that last evening the honorable senator made the basest charges against the party of which I am a member, and that without the slightest foundation. Simply because he himself is prepared to indulge in such conduct, he imagines that everybody else is tarred with the same brush, and is prepared to sink to the same depth. Another matter to which I desire to direct attention is the appointment, by the present Government of a delegate to the Imperial Defence Conference, which is shortly to be held in London. When Parliament met on Wednesday last, a Government supporter put to the Prime Minister this very pertinent question. “ Who is Colonel Foxton ? “ In reply, the Prime Minister stated that Colonel Foxton was a member of the Executive Council and of the Ministry, and invited his questioner to search the records of this Parliament if he desired any further information.. That was very good advice, and the only quarrel that I have with it is that it did not go far enough. Mr. Deakin should have advised his interrogator not merely to search the records of the Commonwealth Parliament, but the records of the State Parliament of which Colonel Foxton was previously a member. If that were done, Colonel Foxton’s record would be obtained in full. I do not cavil with his appointment as a representative of the Government at the Imperial Defence Conference. As a prominent and reliable member of the Stinking Fish Party, the Ministry could not have selected a much better representative. Colonel Foxton is now a distinguished member of the Piebald Government - the Black Labour- White Labour Government, the FreetradeProtectionist Government, the New Protection and Sweating Government - and is a fitting representative of it in London. But I claim that the first qualification of a truly Australian representative at that Conference is the possession of a close sympathy with our national aspirations. But, instead of being imbued with any such sympathy, Colonel Foxton is totally opposed to Australian aspirations.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the Black Labour Party ought to be represented in London?
– In view of the majority which occupies the Government benches, I admit that it is fitting that sucha distinguished representative of the Black Labour Party as Colonel Foxton should bedespatched to London.
– There is no Black Labour Party in this Parliament.
– Why, the very first speech which the honorable senator himself made in this chamber was in favour of black labour. I have heard one prominent politician challenge the statement that Colonel Foxton ever spoke or voted in. favour of ‘the employment of black labour.. In order that Mr. Willis may obtain the information that he desires, I propose to place upon record the fact that Colonel Foxton has always been an advocate of black labour. In this connexion, I do not ask the Senate to accept my ipse dixit on the matter. I invite honorable senators to searchthe records of the Queensland Parliamentary Debates, if they wish to ascertain! the truth for themselves. When the Commonwealth Government were pushing through the White Australia legislation which was demanded by the people of theCommonwealth, strenuous opposition to it was offered by the Queensland Government, of which Colonel Foxton was a member.
– The honorable senator has no case, and therefore he resorts to abuse.
– I am not abusing anybody. I merely propose to quote from the Queensland Hansard, so that the position taken up by Colonel Foxton on that occasion may be placed beyond the possibility of dispute.
– What was Colonel Foxton at that time?
– He occupied the office of Home Secretary in the Queensland Government.
– I suppose the honorable senator is aware that Colonel Foxton is a native of Victoria?
– That may be a veryconsiderable advantage to Colonel Foxton ; but I doubt whether it is any credit to Victoria. About the time that I have already mentioned, the following motion was submitted by a private member of the Queens- /and Legislative Assembly, in private members’ time : -
That in view of the very large sums of money expended by the State in encouraging and establishing the sugar industry, and the great importance of that industry to the general prosperity of the State, this House is of opinion that it is urgently necessary to place the industry on a thoroughly sound and remunerative basis by establishing a Central Sugar Refinery to supplement the present Central Sugar Mill system, so as to secure to the sugar farmers every available fraction of profit from the production of sugar in a refined state.
That motion will be found recorded upon page 1068 of volume 87 of the Queensland Hansard, of 1901. Upon 3rd October of the same year - immediately after Mr. Barton, the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, had delivered his speech enunciating the White Australia policy - Mr. O’Connell, the Minister of Lands in the Queensland Government, moved an amendment to the effect that all the words in the motion relating to the establishment of a sugar refinery should he eliminated, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof a declaration in favour of a continuance of the kanaka traffic for a further period of ten years. The Queensland Premier, Mr. Robert Philp, made a long speech upon that proposal, during which he exhausted the whole of the time available for private members, and thus prevented finality being arrived at upon the motion. In that speech, he publicly stated that he had induced his colleague, the Minister of Agriculture, to submit the amendment. In order that the attitude of the Philp Government - of which Colonel Foxton was a member - may be clearly understood, I propose to quote a few remarks which were made on the occasion in question by the Queensland Premier. The amendment submitted by Mr. O’Connell will be found recorded on page 1076 of the same volume of the Queensland Hansard. In speaking to that amendment, M.r. Philp said -
I may tell honorable members that as I have previously spoken on this motion I asked the Minister of Lands to move this amendment so that this House, could, at the earliest possible moment, express its opinion on this most important subject. I do not know a more important subject that could be brought before this House at the present time. It was only the day before yesterday and this morning that we knew what the Federal Parliament proposes to do with regard to the sugar industry. It was only this morning that we read the speech of Mr. Barton on this question, and I think we would be wanting in our duty to the State, and to this great industry, if we did not voice our opinions on the subject.
Further on, he said -
If Mr. Barton had taken the advice of Dr. Maxwell he would have gone slowly in his efforts to place the sugar industry in a satisfactory position. There is no man in the Colony more anxious than I am to see this labour question satisfactorily solved. But to say that after next year the present supply of labour for that industry shall be diminished, that the following year only one-half of the number of labourers now coming into the Colony shall be allowed, and that after five years the whole of the labour now used in this industry shall leave Queensland, can only mean one thing to the sugar industry. In my opinion it means total ruin to the sugar industry.
But, despite that gloomy prophecy in 1901, the sugar industry to-day - after all the kanakas who were previously employed in it have been deported to their islands - is more prosperous than ever.
– The honorable senator is referring to Mr. Philp’s statements, not to Colonel Foxton’s
– I intend to show the opinions entertained on. this subject by Colonel Foxton, and also how he voted upon it. Mr. Philp went on to say -
If Mr. Barton is sincere, and if the Labour organizations are sincere in their desire to grow sugar by white labour, why do they not give the matter a fair trial? Let ample time - say, seven or ten years - be given before any change is made in the present labour supply,’ and in the meantime let Mr. Barton acquire a sugar mill and plantation - he will get one in Queensland at one-half, or one-third, or one-fourth, of the original cost - and hand that mill and plantation over to the labour organizations of Australia and let them demonstrate to Australia that they can grow sugar profitably by white labour.
Further on he said -
But I think that when a man who knows nothing about the industry attempts to interfere with it in the way now proposed, he is doing a criminal act, and is no friend of Queensland.
So strongly did they feel on the subject that Mr. Philp, the’ then Premier of the State, alluded to Mr. Barton as being a criminal.
– What has that to do with the military service ?
– I am quoting this to show that Colonel Foxton is a fitting representative of the Pie-Bald or Black Labour Party who now occupy the Government benches. Further on Mr. Philp said -
No man could have conceived that any body of men setting themselves up to be statesmen would ever have dreamt of bringing forward such a Bill.
That was the Pacific Island Labourers Bill.
– They may have been honest in their views at the time when those statements were made.
– I believe that they were honest, and fully believed what they said. I am convinced that they believe now that the introduction of black labour is the best thing for Australia.
– The honorable senator has no right to assume that.
– I can take the honorable senator’s own speeches. The very first speech Senator Gray made in this Senate was in favour of coloured labour. Further on Mr. Philp said -
Here we have the fact staring us in the face that we have grown sugar in Queensland about thirty-five years, and the “ main labour for certain work has been Polynesian labour. We are seeking to carry on the industry - of course, we do not want to carry on an industry that is not profitable - and every one engaged in the industry will tell you the industry cannot be carried on unless there is some labour like that.
Let me make just one or two short quotations more. The speech is a very long one, and I shall only cite a few passages, but I have given the reference so that honorable senators can if they choose get the volume of Hansard from the library and make whatever use of it they please. Mr. Philp said -
If we never have more than 5 per cent, of coloured aliens in Queensland and 05 per cent, of white men, we need not be afraid. We should be a poor-spirited people indeed if, with 95 per cent, of whites, we are afraid of any contamination from 5 per cent, of blacks. My opinion is that we do them more harm than they do us. But, up to the present, in Queensland they have done a great deal of good. They have established an industry - the sugar industry - which Queensland may well be proud of ; and I say that until we find some other substitute, we are justified in asking Mr. Barton to hold his hand. We ask Mr. Barton to make an inquiry - the fullest inquiry possible. I say he ought to make some inquiry. Why, any one charged with an offence always gets a fair trial. No one would dream of convicting a man without evidence.
Then, again, on page 1080, he said -
There are things besides sugar which we cannot grow without the aid of a small proportion of coloured people. Not only can we .grow sugar, but we can grow coffee, and we ought to grow the whole of the tea required by Australia.
So that he was advocating that not only should we continue the supply of black labour for the sugar industry, but that we should proceed to establish other industries by means- of kanaka labour. I do not propose to quote any more from the speech made by Colonel Foxton’s leader at that time, but I wish to allude to the really important thing, which is the division list. Honorable senators will please recollect that no opportunity was given for discussing the motion, except in private members’ time, and consequently the discussion was very limited.
– Cannot people change their minds in nine years ?
– On the 20th December in that year, as recorded on page 3678 of vol. 88 of Hansard, will be found the division list. In order that honorable senators may understand clearly what the division was upon, I will read both the motion and the amendment.
On the Order of the Day for the resumption of debate on Mr. Givens’ motion -
That in view of the very large sums of money expended by the State in encouraging and establishing the sugar industry, and the great importance of that industry to die general prosperity of the State, this House is of opinion that it is urgently necessary to place the industry on a thoroughly sound and remunerative basis by establishing a State central sugar refinery to supplement the present Central Sugar Mill system, so as to secure for the sugar farmers every available fraction of profit from the production of sugar in a refined state -
On which Mr. O’Connell had moved -
That the question be amended by the omission of all the words after the word “by” on line 5, with a view to the insertion in their place of the words “ the continuance of the provisions of the present Pacific Island Labourers Act for a further period of ten years,” which stood further adjourned at 7 o’clock p.m. on Friday, and November, being called,
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question (Mr. O’Connell’s amendment) put ; and the House divided : - Ayes, 19; Noes, 30.
The.” Noes “ include the name of Colonel Foxton, the then Home Secretary, the present delegate of the Commonwealth Government to the Imperial Conference. In the division on the question “ That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted “ that is, the words in favour of the continuance of the Kanaka Act for a further period of ten years - the figures were: - “Ayes,” 31;’ “Noes,” 18. Amongst the “ Ayes “ appears the name of Colonel Foxton, the gentleman of whom I have been speaking. Thus it will be seen that Colonel Foxton at that time, by his votes, absolutely recorded his opinion against the White Labour policy, and indorsed the denunciation of his leader against the then Commonwealth Government, which was advocating White Australia legislation. By his votes he recorded his opinion in favour of the continuance of the Pacific Island labourers traffic for another ten years.
– How does this affect Colonel Foxton ‘s ability as a military man ?
– It shows tha’t he is not in accordance with Australian sentiment on one of the greatest questions affecting the well-being of this country.
– Instead of being sent to London he ought to have been sent to the South Sea Islands. .
– I am trying to show that he is an exceedingly fit representative of the Black Labour Party, which is supporting the present Government.
– So the people of Queensland thought when they returned him at the last election.
– I am merely following the advice given by the Prime Minister to Mr. Henry Willis in another place, to “search the records” and find out who Colonel ‘ Foxton is. There is another interesting bit of history in regard to Colonel Foxton in Queensland politics. He occupied a responsible position, as Home Secretary in the Philp Ministry ; and he used that position - I say so deliberately - to engineer a billet for his own brother-in-law.
– Do not become too personal.
– The facts are upon the records. It is a public matter. He engineered for his brother-in-law a billet which was not wanted, and carried with it a handsome salary, in addition to travelling expenses, including free steamer and railway tickets.
– The matter was a pub- ‘ Bic scandal in Queensland.
– Honorable senators will know that the totalizator has been legalized in Queensland for a number of years. In casting about for a billet for his brother-in-law Colonel Foxton came to the conclusion that an inspector of totalizators ought to be appointed to see that the Government were not defrauded of any portion of the tax imposed, although everybody knew that the investing public and the newspaper report were the most perfect check imaginable upon the totalizator.
– The Government auditor went through all the records carefully.
– Yes, all the time.
– Does it not occur to the honorable senator that Colonel Foxton is not now in Australia, and cannot reply to him?
– He had to listen to me and others making this charge against him in the Queensland Parliament,” as is recorded in Hansard. The Prime Minister has advised us to “ search the records “ to find out who Colonel Foxton is. I am taking that advice. Because I follow the counsel given by the Prime Minister, however, I am to be heckled by honorable senators opposite. Colonel Foxton was too ‘cute to make the appointment himself, although the matter had relation to his Department. But he engineered with the Government to make the appointment, going over the heads of the Public Service Board, who were appointed, just as is _ our Public Service Commissioner, to make all such appointments, and to see that only proper ones were made. When the matter came before Colonel Foxton in his capacity as Home Secretary, he wrote a minute which I will quote. The AttorneyGeneral said, as reported on page 1190 of the Queensland Parliamentary Debates for the year 1899, vol. 83, that the following minute was placed on the initiatory document : -
I think the Home Secretary should make suitable arrangements for the carrying out of this suggestion.
That was a suggestion cleverly made to bring about this appointment. The following is the minute: -
Public Service Board. It certainly seems clear that an efficient check should be maintained to see that the revenue is not defrauded. Without any such check the temptation to make false returns is very great. Will the Board make some recommendation? I would suggest that if any one is appointed it should be some one having a thorough knowledge of racing matters and the ways of racing clubs. - J.F.G.F., 10.2.99.
Those initials, J.F.G.F., are those of Colonel Foxton, whom we are now discussing. It is exceedingly curious that he then put forward the opinion that a man thoroughly well qualified .in all racing matters should receive the appointment ; and it was also a wonderful’ coincidence that his own brother-in-law should be the one man in all Queensland who was so versed in these things so as to be the best fitted for the position. It was curious that Colonel Foxton’s brother-in-law, amongst the whole population of Queensland, should be the best fitted to receive this handsome billet. A storm of indignation was created. The scandal was so great that the appointment was not renewed at the end of the year for which it was made. The Government could not prevent Colonel Foxton’s brother-in-law from serving for the twelve months, but at the end pf that time the appointment was not renewed, and it has not been renewed since. Not the slightest necessity has been found for its renewal. When we find public men guilty pf jobbery and corruption of this kind it is time that we followed the advice of the Prime Minister and “ searched the records.” That is what I have been doing. I am very glad to have had the opportunity to follow the advice of the Prime Minister, and to lay these things bare, so that honorable senators and others like Mr. Willis, in another place, may know who Colonel Foxton is. The appointment of Colonel Foxton as the representative of Australia at the Imperial Defence Conference is nothing short of a public scandal. It is, in fact, disgraceful, because Australia had a right to demand that any man sent to London to represent her should be in touch with Australian sentiment. That Colonel Foxton is not in accord with Australian sentiment, or with the views frequently stated by the Prime Minister on defence matters, is proved conclusively by the report of the interview with him which was read by Senator Pearce last night. The fact is that every one knows that Colonel Foxton has been antiAustralian in his attitude ever since he has been in public life in this country. He has been nothing else but a tuft-hunting society hanger-on. I say that deliberately. He has been against every aspiration of Australian nationalism. He has been against the White Australia policy, because he did not wish to see a white nation built u.p here. He desired that there should be a few white nabobs going through the country with mobs of kanakas hanging about them.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not true.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator not to interject.
– Is Senator Gray in order in saving that a statement made by an honorable senator is not true.
– T did not hear the honorable senator make that statement.
– I did.
– Senator Gray and myself are sufficiently good friends to make it unlikely that we should quarrel because of any interjection which he makes. I am entitled to place on record my opinions in this matter. I say that, so far from being competent to voice the national aspirations of Australia and our desire to build up in these southern seas a white nation, and manfully to provide for our own defence by land and sea, Colonel Foxton is hopelessly out of touch with Australian sentiment and feeling on these great national questions. We desire in Australia to build up a nation worthy of the countries from which we have sprung, and to do all that is necessary for ourselves in a self-respecting, wellthoughtout, and careful manner. Instead’ of leaving it to the Mother Country to defend us, we wish to provide for our own defence. But Colonel Foxton is opposed . to all that. His idea of national defence for Australia is to increase the naval subsidy, instead of providing our own naval’ defence, and to cling to the skirts of the’ Mother Country. We have been advised by the best naval authorities of the Old Country that to provide for our own naval defence is the best contribution we can make to Imperial defence. But Colonel Foxton is opposed to all these ideas. He has been opposed to compulsory military training, which any one who has given any thought to the subject knows is essential to the proper safeguarding of Australia.
– Hear, hear.
– Senator Dobson says “ Hear, hear.” Ever since I have known the honorable senator as a member of the Senate he has been a strong advocate of the cadet system in the schools. He has, in fact, hung up the business of the Senate time after time to press forward that idea. He has been exceedingly earnest and persistent in his advocacy of the cadet system > yet the very first Government that proposed to initiate that system excited the honorable senator’s bitter animosity to such an extent that he did his utmost to cut the throat of that Government. That shouldindicate to the people of Australia how very earnest the honorable senator has been in this matter. He has been a most persistent engineer in bringing about the “ fusion “ designed to kill the Government that wasproposing to do the one thing which he insisted should be done. I have said that inall these important matters Colonel Foxton: is hopelessly out of touch with the general’ trend of Australian feeling and opinion. He is out of touch in these matters with his own leader. When he was first appointed” to attend the Conference, he gave an interview to a representative of the Herald, and the day after its publication he had to becalled to book by His superiors in the Cabinet, and! had to eat his own words. But who is going to make him eat his wordsat the secret Conference in London? Hecan say there what he pleases, and even his own colleagues will not know what he says-
He can misrepresent Australia and his own colleagues at that Conference if he thinks fit. We were invited to look up the records to discover who Colonel Foxton is, and from them we can judge what his utterances at the Conference are likely to be. I say that the Government were exceedingly ill-advised, even in their own interest, in sending such a man as Colonel Foxton to represent them, and, in doing so, they did something absolutely detrimental to the best interests of the young nation we are building up in these southern seas. Almost any other member of the present Ministry would have been a better and more acceptable representative of the people of Australia, and almost any other member of either House of the Federal Parliament would have been a more acceptable representative than Colonel Foxton. The services of several men were at the disposal of the Prime Minister who would have been excellent representatives. I believe that Mr. Deakin himself would *have been an exceedingly good representative, and I should have been very pleased to see him go to the Conference in that capacity. But, instead of going” himself, >or sending a man whose opinions were in accord with his own, he has sent Colonel Foxton, whose opinions are diametrically opposed to his own.
– How could the Prime Minister go himself under existing circumstances ?
– I admit that there were serious difficulties in the way of either the Prime Minister or the Minister of Defence going. The Prime Minister cannot trust the Minister of Defence, unless he has him sleeping with him to look after him, and the Minister of Defence could not -trust the Prime Minister away from his side.
– The honorable senator is drawing upon his imagination?
– It is only a natural and logical deduction.
– For a prejudiced mind.
– It is the natural conclusion to which every intelligent person would come on this matter. We find that the Government have offered a Dreadnought or its equivalent to Great Britain. That is to say, they propose to spend £2,000,000 of Australian money, or the money of the people of some other country which Australia might be able to borrow, in order to present a Dreadnought to Great Britain. .
– They could get the money in Australia.
- Senator Walker, as a wealthy man himself, and a representative in this Chamber of the wealth of the country, of the people who have, as against the people who have not, is probably a good authority as to the amount of money that could be got in the pawn offices, if we desired to go there to pledge our credit. I direct the attention of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to the fact that it was contrary to all constitutional practice for the Ministry to make an offer committing the country to such a large expenditure without consulting Parliament, when Parliament was in session, and might have been consulted at a moment’s notice. This was no new scare got up. on the spur of the moment. It had been got up six or eight” weeks previously by certain interested! newspapers, who wished to find some means by which they could consolidate the opponents of the Labour Party, and so lever them out of office. .They struck upon this- idea of presenting a Dreadnought to Great Britain. The Fisher Government refused to fall in with their proposal, and let me say that they were never- challenged on that question, when they were displaced. If Mr. Deakin believed. that a Dreadnought ought to be presented to Great Britain, his proper course was to challenge the Fisher Government on their refusal to make the offer. Instead of doing that, he adopted a devious course, and, having combined the forces against the Labour Party, fired out the Government on no particular point of policy at all. He merely displaced them as a matter of course, and then, instead of consulting Parliament, although it was in- session, and there to be consulted, he did something which was absolutely subversive of all constitutional government, and1 committed the country to an expenditure of £2.000,000, without consulting Parliament.
– It is still open to Parliament to approve or refuse to approve of that offer.
– Why should Parliament be committed? The honorable senator knows that when the fate of a Government is bound up with a question, members of Parliament may vote to- support them, although they do not approve of the proposal which they have made: We know that the Argus announced that it was very pleased that the Government, on behalf of
Parliament and the people, had offered a Dreadnought to Great Britain; but what need was there for the Government to offer anything on behalf of Parliament, when Parliament was there and competent to speak for itself? Let me ask, who is competent to speak for the people, when Parliament is in session, but Parliament itself? Parliament is the only recognised body sent here to speak for the public, and I saythat before the .public were committed to the expenditure of is. Parliament should have been consulted.
– The Fisher Government did not consult Parliament when they committed the country to an expenditure of £250,000.
– That money had been voted by Parliament for the purpose for which it is to be spent.. If money had been voted for the purchase of a Dreadnought for presentation to Great Britain, I should not be here now denouncing the action of the Government in this respect.
– The £250,000 was not voted for torpedo boats, or for any other class of boats.
– The present Government never challenged the Fisher Government on that.
– No, their quarrel with the Labour Government in matters of defence is that whereas all previous Governments were going on talking at large about defence, they never did anything, and the Labour Government proceeded to do something.
– They proceeded to bleak faith with Parliament.
– They did not. I ask the honorable senator if he thinks that he should be bound by any pledge that I may give?
– Every member of this Chamber was a party to the conditions under which that vote was passed.
– Honorable senators are entitled to speak for themselves, but not for me; and I say that I was no party to the conditions under which that vote was passed.
– According to the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, we should pass another Act cf Parliament before we can touch the money in the old-age pensions fund, which is also a trust fund.
– It was appropriated for a specific purpose. ‘
– It is exactly the same thing.
– An Act providing for the expenditure of that money is on the statute-book.
– Both were trust fundsfor specific purposes.
– The whole quarrel is that the Labour Government, instead of talking at large and going up and down the country prating of what they were going to do, actually did something. It is for that they were called to book. I ask Senator Millen why, if the Fisher Government were worthy of censure because of their action in this matter, honorable senators opposite did not table a vote of censure on that account ?
– They did not wish to waste time
– They have plenty of time to waste on matters of little account.
– The honorable senator has told the country that he intends to waste time.
- Senator Gray is entitled to speak for himself. If, when speaking) he believes he is wasting time, he is entitled to say so; but when I speak I do so for the purpose of elucidating matters of public interest. After the exposition of the question by Senator Pearce last night, I need say no more on the Dreadnought question ; but I enter my emphatic protest against the action of the present Government in making any such offer and committing the Commonwealth to it without first consulting Parliament, especially when Parliament was in session, and competent to sceale for itself on the subject. I should like very much if my honorable friends would dissolve the other House to-morrow, consult the country on the Dreadnought question, and see where they are. If they think that the people of Australia are behind them on the question, let them seize the golden opportunity, go to the country, and pose as the only loyalists. If we saw a woman going up and down the street, prating about her virtue, and continually crying out that she was an honest woman, what would wethink of her? In regard to their loyalty that is what honorable senators are doingall the time. Let me come more directly to the vague generalities - which may meanlittle or much - in the Government programme. Passing over statements of merenebulosity, out of which one cannot get anything, I propose to pick out one or iwo items, and see what promise there is for anything good accruing to’ the country. Their policy is drafted under three main heads, namely, “Industrial,” “Defence,” and “ Finance.” In regard to the first, there are only one or two matters to which I desire to devote a little time, and the first is the question of new protection. Everybody knows that the last Tariff was passed under the distinct promise that the workers should share in the protection therein given. We had the most distinct promise possible from Mr. Deakin. Everybody was told, that the people should share equally in the benefits of protection, that it should not be merely for the manufacturers alone, that the workers should get a portion of it, and that the . interests of the consumers should also be protected. Mr. Deakin was then of opinion that owing to the failure of the Harvester Excise Act, an amendment of the Constitution was necessary in order to give to the Commonwealth that power. He was emphatic in stating that his party and his Government would ask the consent of Parliament to such an amendment, and take a referendum of the people at the next general election. But now we find that, in order to sneak back into office, he has dropped the idea of effective new protection. So it appears to me that Parliament has been taken in altogether by that very slippery gentleman, that the last Tariff was passed through both Houses under absolutely false pretences by Mr. Deakin, because directly the manufacturers received the protection that they required they formed a combination to try to prevent the workers from getting their . due share, and they find Mr. Deakin a pliant tool to carry out their desires. What do we find that he proposes now? He proposes to create an Inter-State Commission. To do what ? ‘ To provide effective protection? No, but to equalize the conditions of labour in the several States. I wish to analyze this document, and see really what it does mean. Instead of giving effective protection to the workers, instead of insuring to them the high wages and good conditions to which they are entitled, because of the Tariff, the present proposals of the Prime Minister are to federalize sweating, and to equalize low wage conditions in the several States. What does he propose? -
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 InterState 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. 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.
Instead of asking the people of Australia to grant to this Parliament the power which he was so emphatic in saying was requisite, he now proposes to go cap in hand, to crawl round on his hands and knees, and beg the State Governments to give him that power, not to protect the workers, but to federalize sweating. Unless the Commonwealth Parliament has the power to protect the workers equally with the manufacturers, what is going to be the result? Everybody knows that the manufacturers desire sweating conditions. They desire to be allowed to employ labour for the longest possible hours at the lowest possible wages, and under the worst conditions they can get, so that they may increase their profit. Each manufacturer wants ‘conditions which will insure him the greatest profit, and that only can be secured, provided that he can work his men at low wages for long hours, and under bad conditions. Every State desires that manufactories shall be established within its boundaries, and in order to encourage manufacturers they say, “ We will give the most favorable conditions for you, although they may be the worst conditions for the workers.” Consequently, there will be a continual competition” between the States to bribe manufacturers to come along and establish their industries. Then what power does Mr. Deakin propose that the Commonwealth shall have? That after this competition goes on between the States, if there is any difference between bad conditions and long hours an InterState Commission shall come along and equalize them. His whole proposal is one to federalize bad conditions of labour, and to equalize sweating in the various States. We find a man like Mr. Mauger, who is a member of the Anti-Sweating League, supporting a Government which proposes to federalize sweating, and sitting; cheek by jowl with a man like Mr. Archer, who said that 3s. 9d. a day of ten hours wai an excessive rate for a working man.
– Who said that?
- Mr. Archer, and Senators Chataway, Sayers, and St. Ledger.
– I doubt the statement.
– The excuse was that the industry could not afford it.
– I thought that there was some qualification.
– When the change of Government took place, I quoted here the official record of what they said, and they could not deny the quotation. Then we have Mr. Hume Cook, another of these “good-as-labour men,” sitting cheek by jowl with Mr. Palmer and Mr. Tilley Brown.
– They were all angels when they supported the Labour Party.
– They never supported us. We kept them in office for a very long time in the hope thatwe might get some good out of them for Australia, but when we found there was no more good to be got out of them we got rid of them. Quite recently I quoted what Mr. Archer said, and here are shining lights of the Anti-Sweating League like Mr. Mauger and Mr. Hume Cook “sitting in the same boat with him.
– The honorable senator quoted his own interpretation, that is all.
– I did not do anything of the kind. Does the honorable senator want me to repeat what I quoted here when the change of Government took place quite recently? I am willing to hand to him the Hansard report, and ask him what interpretation he puts on the passage.” That is what the Government’s new protection proposals amount to. But the people of Australia are not going to be satisfied with that, because they have made up their minds that the workers are as much entitled to a share in the benefits of protection as are the manufacturers. I believe that when the time comes Parliament will refuse to sanction this vile substitute which Mr. Deakin now has the impudence to put forward as something in lieu of effective protection for the workers. This Ministerial programme contains other nebulous things on which I do not propose to waste time. It enunciates a policy of immigration -
An nctive 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, it is hoped, the co-operation of all the States.
On Wednesday last, I was in another place, and one of the first questions which occupied the attention of the Government was raised by Dr. Carty Salmon, a Government supporter. He asked if the Postmaster- General would not provide money straight away to complete the undergrounding of the telephone lines in Melbourne, so as to provide work for the local unemployed. Yet, in the face of this admission, that special relief works should be initiated here, the Government which he is supporting is talking about bringing in a large number of immigrants. I desire to see Australia with a population of 40,000,000, instead of 4,000,000. It could easily carry a population of 40,000,000, and we could bring the immigrants here without any effort if we would only adopt the right policy. What is the policy of the Deakin Government, according to this statement? It is to bring men here, without any provision being made for suitable openings for them on the land or anywhere else, to compete in an already over-stocked labour market. That is what this bald statement in regard to immigration with the co-operation of the States means. The policy we advocate is not only to make work and room for the people already here, but also to make ample work and room for those who may be brought here in days to come, and that could be effectively done by the policy of the Fisher Ministry.
– I desire to call attention to the state of the benches. [Quorum formed.]
– There is one sane method of getting population into Australia, which the Government, I am sorry to say, repudiate, and I can quite understand why they do. The only effective way of attracting population to Australia is by affording people an opportunity to settle upon its lands. At the present time they can get no such opportunity. I gather from Commonwealth statistics that since the beginning of the present year the little State of Tasmania - notwithstanding that its population in proportion to its size and to the area of good land which it contains is a very small one - has lost a large number of its population. As a matter of fact, the population of Tasmania numbers only about 185,000, or approximately one-third that of the city of Melbourne. Despite the fact that it possesses perhaps the best climate in the Commonwealth - a climate which is eminently congenial , to the people of our own race - and that it also boasts the best rainfall, it possesses to-day a total population of only 185,000, and instead of its numbers increasing they are decreasing. The same thing is going on in Victoria and in some of the other States. This result is directly attributable to the artificial scarcity of land, which is choking Australian prosperity. Vet that is the sort of thing which is being upheld by the present Government, and by its supporters. The fact that an attempt was to be made by the late Administration to burst up the existing land monopoly was one of the chief reasons why honorable senators opposite combined to displace it. Pressure was brought to bear-
– No pressure was brought to bear upon me.
– Probably the promoters of the fusion knew that the honorable senator was sufficient of a reactionary already, and so there was no need for pressure to be exerted. What are the facts in regard to the present condition of affairs in Australia? They are that there fs ah artificial scarcity of land-
– An artificial scarcity of money.
– The position is not due to a scarcity of money at all.
– Then the honorable senator knows nothing about the matter.
– There is a scarcity of money with’ which to pay the enormous prices that are demanded by the land monopolists. They say, “ We are willing to subdivide - at a price.” That price, I need scarcely add, is so excessive that no man who pays it can hope to make his farming operations successful.
– We want to introduce people with money from abroad.
– So that the honorable senator may have an opportunity to “ bleed “ them. He desires the intro’duction of soft new chums with money so that big landholders like himself may have an opportunity of relieving them of their capital, by providing them with land, which they will not know what to do with. I have heard it stated frequently that the land monopolists are willing to cut up their estates. We all know that the States Governments have not any land which is suitable for agriculture, and which is situated close to a railway, available for settlement. In Queensland there is not an acre of Crown land suitable for agriculture which is within a good rainfall area, and which is accessible to market. If the Crown possessed any such land, where would be the necessity for the Government repurchasing large estates?
– Only 2 per cent, of the Crown lands of Queensland have been alienated.
– All the land that is suitable for agricultural settlement has been alienated by the Crown. The landholders are willing to cut up their estates at a price, but that price is so excessive that no man could hope to purchase it and make a success of -his farming operations.
– But men are making a success upon it.
– They may do so in a good year, but certainly they cannot hope to do so in a bad year. Most of those who purchase agricultural holdings have to obtain accommodation from financial institutions over long terms. In order that they may keep up their payments, even in good seasons!, they have to sweat themselves, their wives, and their children, as well as everybody working for them, and if they are overtaken by bad seasons they are absolutely ruined.
– Why, land an be bought at Rockhampton to-day for 30s. per acre.
– Land which can be acquired at Rockhampton for 30s. per acre is not worth 3od. per acre. What has been the result of the repurchase of large estates by the States Governments? Naturally landholders desire to obtain the highest price for their lands. When they know that a State Government is prepared to expend a million sterling in the purchase of large estates, what takes place? “An inflation of land values - the very thing which is detrimental to successful settlement. Thf first necessity of the farmer is cheap land. That is his raw material, and without it he must go to the wall.
– It is the small man who has increased the price of land all over Australia.
– Of course it is. The policy of the Labour Party is not to make land dearer, but to cheapen it.
– To burst up estates - to rob the present owners.
– It is landholders, who have been robbing the community al ti the time. They have been indulging in common, downright thieving. Only the other day we were told by a very distinguished statesman in the Old Country that it was time people adopted plain speaking. He added that many of the methods under which money was now accumulated was plain stealing. I do not desire to be so severe as that. I wish rather to discuss this question in the light of our recognised conventions. Viewing it in that way,~l would ask Senator Fraser: Who created our land values? Was it not the people of Australia? All the unearned increment is due to the presence of the people and to their industry and enterprise. Who has robbed them of that which they have created ? The land monopolist. He has confiscated what they have earned, and yet because we now desire to secure the return to the people of a small portion of the unearned increment, we are accused of robbery. Who had a right to sell the land of Australia, which was given to the people by the Almighty?
– The British people gave it to us.
– They did not. They stayed at Home, and we came out here and conquered the wilderness for ourselves. What did the people of England do to reclaim Australia from the bush and to develop its resources? We ought to have a population of 40,000,000 in the Commonwealth.
– Who has prevented that but the Labour Party?
– The land, monopolists, of whom Senator Fraser is one, have prevented it. ‘ They say to the people, “ Unless you give us our toll, unless you pay the price that we demand we will not give you a single inch of land upon which to set your foot.” In the Western District of Victoria, only a few hours’ journey from Melbourne, is to be found some of the finest land in the Commonwealth. It enjoys probably the best climate in Australia, and embraces an area of about 100 miles by 50 or 60 miles. Yet it carries only a handful of people. It is safe to say that that stretch of country would provide a comfortable livelihood for the entire population of Victoria.
– Who sold the lands? Was it not the States Governments?
– Yes. But I say that they had no right to sell them.
– Had they not the law at their back?
– That fact does not make their action right. If everybody, in the ages past had entertained the same respect for law that Senator Vardon appears to entertain, what progress should we have had ? If his idea had obtained, we should be under a despotic form of government today.
– The people have the power to change the law.
– That is what the Labour Party proposed to do. They proposed to alter the law, and to hand back to the community a small portion of the unearned increment which it had created. That is the remedy which I am suggesting for the small population at present settled in Australia.
– I own land a.t Queenscliff, and the honorable senator may have it for 50 per cent, less than I paid for it.
- Senator Fraser knows perfectly well that it is idle to endeavour to generalise from individual cases. He may own a piece of land which has decreased in value 99 per cent., but that does not alter the fact that the alienated lands of Australia as a whole, have enormously increased in value and are increasing in value every year.
– If the honorable senator is going to allow for the unearned increment, he ought also to allow for decrement.
– No. Because a man pays an artificially high price for a piece of land, why should the country be saddled with his bad bargain? All these bad bargains could never occur if there were a proper system by which the unearned increment were taken by the people.
– Surely if the Government take the increment, allowance ought to be made for the decrement?
– Originally, the greater part of the land of Australia was sold for about 10s. an acre. I have never found any person buying land except at its productive value at the time of the pur- . chase, unless it were for speculative purposes j and where people bought land at its productive value, it is in all probability worth not less to-day.
– Would the honorable senator prefer land nationalization or a progressive land tax,- or both ?
– A progressive land tax would accomplish all that is desired. It would nationalize the unearned increments.
– Then a land tax would virtually nationalize the land?
– It would nationalize the unearned increment. If these large estates were burst up, there would be room in Australia for 40,000,000 people, every one of them living in prosperity and comfort, and enjoying, not only the necessaries, but the luxuries, of life. But the land monopolist stands in the way, and says, “ Unless you pay my price, you cannot put your foot on a single inch of my land. Trespassers will be prosecuted. Get off the earth ! “ He says, in effect, “ The earth is the landlords’, and the fulness thereof.” We shall never rest until we have taken this Strangling power out of the hands of the land monopolists, and rescued this young country from the blighting curse of . landlordism.
– Who are the largest land monopolists in Australia?
– The financial institutions, and principally the banks.
– No ; the State is the largest land monopolist.
– I am speaking of privately owned land. In every part of Australia we find an artificial scarcity of land. In Queensland, where there are millions of acres, that artificial scarcity exists just as acutely as it does elsewhere. That fact is proved by the constant clamour there is for the Government to resume big estates and cut them up amongst the people. But the Government, in so doing, have to use the people’s money, and the effect of the Government going into the market is to run up the price of land inordinately. The result is that the unfortunate man who buys land is hampered for all time by the excessive price that he has paid. A progressive land tax would operate in a purely automatic way. We do not propose to take anything from the landlord which is rightfully his. We simply propose to give back to the people a small portion of the value which they themselves have created. Incidentally, that policy will have the most valuable result of bursting up the big estates and creating opportunities for an enormous number of people to go upon the land and make a comfortable living there, without being handicapped by having to pay too high a price. This policy is not only essential for the progress of Australia, but is essential for its defence. Honorable senators opposite prate about their loyalty to the British Government, and of what they will do for the Empire. All they are doing by maintaining this curse of land monopoly of theirs is to keep Australia an empty Continent, and prevent a great number of people from coming here and defending the country.
– The honorable senator’s party would not do much for the Empire.
– The honorable senator who interjects reminds me of a woman going up and down the street and proclaiming how virtuous she is. Nobody believes in the honesty of a woman like that.
– I believe that whenever the Empire is in trouble, the honorable senator’s party is opposed to it.
– Order !
– Mr. President, I am speaking facts.
– The most that Senator Fraser and men of his kidney have done for the Empire is to sweat His Majesty’s subjects, crush them down, and make it difficult for them to live.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to make a direct attack upon another honorable senator.
– If any one makes an attack upon me, surely I have the right to reply. I am enjoying this cross-firing.
– If I were as young is the honorable senator is, I would give it to him; on the floor of the Senate, I mean, not outside.
– I am not frightened that Senator Fraser is not my age, though I have no doubt that he would give me short shrift if he could. However, I know quite well that his bark is worse than his bite, and I take all his remarks with a very good grace.
– We hope that we may do the same with Senator Givens’ remarks, but I am not so sure.
– I am not at all concerned with what Senator Pulsford thinks.
– What area of land would the honorable senator say that a man should hold to constitute him a land monopolist?
– Everything depends upon the suitability of the land for a particular purpose. Five thousand acres of land in the Western District of Queensland would not make a man so great a monopolist as would 500 acres in one of the agricultural areas. It is impossible to mention a specific area applicable to all Australia.
– Owning one- tenth of an acre in Collins-street, Melbourne, would, I suppose, constitute a man a monopolist?
– Of course. But Senator St. Ledger wants me to state the impossible. I myself have an aspiration to see Australia peopled by as many millions as we now have hundreds of thousands in the country. That can easily be done if we take proper steps to provide for the people who are here, and who will come. We should afford to our population an opportunity of making a living without having to work for a boss. Coming to a few other items in the Government statement, I observe that it is stated that there is a necessity for the appointment of a High Commissioner. The Government also contemplate creating an Inter-State Commission. It appears, therefore, that the Government want to have several billets to fill, so that they may be able to stave off possible opposition.
– The honorable senator might have a show.
– I have no desire to fasten myself as a parasite on this country.
– The honorable senator expected to become a Minister some time ago, I think.
– Presumably the Inter-State Commission will consist of three members. The High Commissionership will afford an opportunity for another appointment. Probably there will be other billets to fill in connexion with the High Commissionership. We have been told that an Advisory Board will be necessary. So that the opportunities for patronage which the Government are providing are practically inexhaustible. They have adopted a principle in the formation of the present Ministry which has not been adopted before. Ten Ministers have been appointed, including an additional Honorary Minister. But we know that an “ honorary “ ministership is a polite fiction. No Minister occupies an honorary place. The members of the Government “whack” the £I 2,000 per annum amongst them, and the Honorary Ministers get their share, just as do those who hold portfolios. If the Government have a right to go on appointing extra Honorary Ministers, they will be able to corrupt the whole Parliament.
– Were there not Honorary Ministers in the Labour Government?
– We had the usual number of Ministers. There was an Honorary Minister in the Senate- to look after the Departments controlled by Ministers occupying seats in another place, and there was an Honorary Minister in the House of Representatives to look after the interests of the Department controlled by the Minister in the Senate. That was all that wasnecessary. I am not speaking particularly of the present Government, but if any Government is to have the right to include asmany Honorary Ministers as it likes, that right will be subversive of honesty in Parliament.
-Colonel Cameron. - It will, become an honour to be a private member - without a seat in the Cabinet.
– That is what thingswill come to. The Government are leaving openings for the distribution of patronage which they will probably find very useful for placating disappointed supporterslater on. I do not object to the creation of the High Commissionership. I think that the position should have been filled long ago. Further, I will venture theopinion that the old leader of the Freetrade Party in this Parliament is the one man whom I should like to see appointed. I allude to Mr. Reid. He is the only man whom I would trust to express the Australian sentiment in the Old Country.
– What about Senator Symon ?
– I am not sure that Senator Symon is on the Ministerial side in politics, and I was referring to Government supporters. The man who has beenintriguing for the position, Sir John Forrest - and he has been engineering for it during the last seven years, and actually secured the sending of a man to London to keep the seat warm for him - will never be appointed if I can prevent it. I think that his appointment would be disastrous, to Australia. He has done nothing but engineer in his own interests, and for his own purposes, ever since he came into thisParliament. He does not care a straw for the well-being of the people of AustraliaI do not say that because of party feeling.. Every one knows that I am politically opposed to Mr. Reid. Yet I can say, honestly and fearlessly, that I would gladly welcome his appointment as High Commissioner, and hope that he will get it in preference to any other man on the Ministerial side in politics at the present time. I am expressing my honest opinion. If thisGovernment is going to be allowed to create billets for political friends as their delegate to the Old Country years ago created a billet for his brother-in-law, they will ultimately corrupt Parliament, and the interests of the country can never be safe in the hands of a Government guilty of such conduct.
– The honorable senator would not have them give appointments to their opponents ?
– I would not have them create billets in order to placate political friends. I have just told Senator Fraser that I would sooner see Mr. George Reid appointed High Commissioner than any man on the other side, and he has always been a political opponent of mine. If a political opponent were the best man fox a post, I should give it to him. I am not sure that if the matter came to a vote tomorrow, I should not be prepared to give my vote for the appointment of Mr. Reid as High Commissioner in preference to almost any other man I know. That is the way in which I would be prepared to treat a political opponent; but perhaps Senator Fraser is unable to understand that kind of thing. I notice a little further on in the Ministerial statement, that an endeavour is to be made to cheapen the cable charges between Australia and the Mother Country. T should like to know what provision the Government propose to make to safeguard the interests of the general taxpayer in this connexion. Are the cable rates to be cheapened in order that the general taxpayer may bear the burden? I ask that question because, when the Pacific Cable was started, it was at the cost *and charge of the general taxpayers of the countries interested, chiefly Great Britain, Canada, and Australia. A great agitation was begun at the time, because the rates charged by the private monopoly which controlled the whole of the business of telegraphing to and from Australia and the Old Country were unconscionably excessive. In order to reduce the cable charges, an agitation was got up for a Government and all-British cable from _ Australia, through. Canada to Great Britain. What was the result of this agitation ? The newspaper proprietors, the stock exchanges, and the big merchants here, were all at the back of the agitation for the reduction of rate’s and the starting of an “all red” cable to bring that reduction about ; but when ‘the Pacific Cable was completed, these people actually boycotted the Government cable as soon as the private monopoly reduced their rates. This was the loyalty of Senator Fraser, and his friends who were prating about the establishment of ari “all red” Government cable.’ The people who agi tated “for the construction of the Pacific Cable refused it their custom, with, the result that the taxpayers of Australia,- Canada, and Great Britain have been saddled with the cost of providing cheap cables for these people. The newspaper proprietors who made the greatest outcry against the exorbitant charges of the monopoly, refused to do any business at all with the Pacific Cable.
– The Pacific Cable is improving its position every year by tens of thousands of pounds.
– That may be so; but it is in spite of the people to whom I refer ; and it is still a very considerable burden on the general taxpayers.
– That is pure imagination.
– How much business does the Pacific Cable get from the press of Australia at the present time? I give some idea of the loyalty of these people when I say that the Pacific Cable gets no business from them. It does not get a look in.
– Private enterprise always beats State enterprise ; that is the trouble.
– Private enterprise in this case would have refused to reduce the cable rates by one farthing if the people had not put up the money to build another line. After they had done so, the monopoly said, “ Give us all your business and we will quote low rates “ ; and the loyalty of the people who were foremost in the agitation for the construction of the Pacific Cable was such that they backed the private enterprise against the interests of their own country.
– Let me tell the honorable senator that in a. few years the Pacific Cable will be paying everybody.
– It will take a considerable time yet.
– No, it will not.
– It will. And how long will it take to pay back what it has already lost?
– There is £67,000 of a deficit this year on the operations of the Pacific Cable.
– That is not a circumstance compared with previous deficits.
– There is no such thing as loyalty in business.
– Of course there is not. Patriotism goes to the wall where profits are concerned. You will find a gun manufacturer, or a manufacturer of ammunition who, for the sake of profit, will arm the enemies of his country. And these are the people who prate loudest of loyalty.
– Thousands of rifles sold by our Defence Department to a reputable British firm were afterwards sold to the Hill Tribes in India to be used against British soldiers.
– That is business; but it is not patriotism. It is greed like the greed of those who claim unearned increment.
– The members of the Labour Party are the only pure people. When Socialism arrives, we shall be all right. We shall all be in Heaven then.
– I can inform the honorable senator that he is enjoying a very considerable measure of Socialism to-day. I intended to speak on the questions of finance, telephones, and States rights; but as I do not wish to monopolize the attention of honorable members, I shall only briefly glance at those subjects. With regard to the question of finance, after the Fisher Government had announced its policy in the Prime Minister’s speech at Gympie, Mr. Deakin, the present Prime Minister, took the Fisher Government severely to task because he said their financial policy was not sufficiently definite; and did not disclose where Mr. Fisher as Treasurer proposed to get the money required to carry out the proposals of the Government. Suppose, for the moment, that his charge in that regard was justifiable, what defence can Mr. Deakin offer for his own nebulous statement with regard to finance? Here we have the whole statement before us ; and it does’ not give a single particular to indicate where he expects to get a shilling of the money required, although every one knows that not merely an extra shilling, but tens of thousands of pounds additional revenue will be required. Mr. Deakin- proposes to have something to do with all the schemes formulated by Mr. Fisher, and in addition, to give ^2,000,000 as a present to Great Britain. Yet there is not a word in his statement as to where he proposes to find a shilling of it. M.r. Fisher did submit a tangible scheme for raising the revenue required. He expected to secure a considerable amount from silver coinage, from the issue of Commonwealth notes, and by the imposition of a land tax. But Mr. Deakin has not given any intima tion as to where he intends to get a single farthing. Mr. Fisher’s policy was a sane, well-thought-out policy, and he pledged his reputation, which has never yet been sullied, that he could finance the whole of his proposals on the lines he indicated. Mr. Deakin does not pledge anything. I am exceedingly doubtful whether he has any reputation to pledge; but whatever reputation he may have, he does not put it in pawn on this occasion, although it is about the only thing he does not propose to pawn. For a very long time, I have been of opinion that there has been an organized conspiracy amongst the wealthy people of Australia and the people representing the wealth and moneyed interests of the country, to force the Commonwealth into a borrowing policy. I believe that it has been, to a certain extent, successful. It has been responsible for the “ fusion,” as a neces-sary preliminary to launching the Commonwealth into a borrowing policy. I believe that one of the financial schemes which will be brought down by the present Ministry will involve an attempt to saddle the cost of necessary services to be undertaken by the Commonwealth, upon, indirect taxation for all time. I am opposed to indirect taxation. I say th.it, under our present system, the poor man has to bear too great a share of that taxation.
– Hear hear ; and the honorable senator was foremost in putting it upon him.
– I did nothing of the kind. I voted against every duty designed merely to raise revenue, as I should do again to-morrow. I have no use for a Tariff as a machine for raising revenue. I do not want it for that purpose at all. The only use I have for a Tariff is as an instrument to foster industries and create new industries. I do not desire that a single shilling of revenue should be raised by a Tariff. I voted for protective duties because, if goods are made here, they need’ not be imported from abroad and have to pay duty. Our free-trade friends aredoubtless unable to understand that aspect of the question; but the time now at my disposal will not permit of my taking themin hand to teach them.
– It is lack of ability,, not of time.
– The only ability thehonorable senator ever displayed was in “barracking” for the foreign manufacturer,. arid in trying to deprive Australian workmen of the right to produce Australian goods, whilst he endeavoured to have admitted free the products of the sweated labour of other countries. I have said that I believe one of the methods to be proposed by the present Government for raising money, though they have not had the courage to put it down in “black and white in the Min- “isterial statement, is indirect taxation through the Customs. Will Senator Pulsford and his friends vote against taxation on tea or some other commodity which we do not produce in Australia, and which will be imposed merely for the purpose of taxing the poor people?
– The honorable senator voted for a tax on tea.
– I never did anything of the kind. My vote on tea was to make it absolutely free. That is a proposal which I think the Government will submit; but they will find it a very hard job to get a tax of that kind through the Senate ; and they will find it an exceedingly difficult matter to get the indorsement of the people of Australia for any policy of that kind. With regard to the policy of borrowing, I would say that while it might be justifiable and permissible in the early days of a State even to borrow’ largely, as time goes on and public works become well organized, the necessity to borrow money should disappear. What would be thought of a man who, starting in business in a large way, legitimately borrowed money, if, instead of reducing his indebtedness as years went on, he continued to pile up his indebtedness?
– But one man does not increase in numbers, whilst the population of a country does increase.
– As the population increases, the burden is distributed over a greater number, and, therefore, the need to borrow should become less. It is manifestly more difficult for 5,000 men to build 100 miles of railway, than it would be for 500,000 men to do so. Therefore, I say that while in the early history of a new country it might be found necessary to borrow for the construction of public works, as time goes on, and the resources and population of the country advance, the necessity to borrow money should disappear. The idea of these honorable gentlemen to make a great country is to pawn it, to free themselves from all liability, to let the baby carry the burden.
– The honorable senator’s imagination again.
– That is the actual method which they are always proposing.
– The honorable senator is opposed to the practice of the entire world.
– When Great Britain wants to build a navy at a cost of £30,000,000, does she run to the money market ? No ; she raises money by general taxation. That reminds me that the people in Great Britain who, for party purposes, as Senator Symon said, were making a howl for more Dreadnoughts - I allude to the Tories and the Fat Men generally - are the very persons who, when the Government proposes to raise the necessary money, refuse to sanction the imposition of such a tax as would raise a single farthing to build more ships of that class. These are the loyal people - the people who howl about building more Dreadnoughts, and yet refuse to contribute a single farthing of the necessary cost of construction. That is really what is occurring in the Old Country. All the wealthy people, and some of the so-_ called Liberals, too, are up in arms against’ the Government’s proposal. They will not give the necessary taxing authority ; they will fight the Government tooth and nail to prevent them from raising enough money to buy even a whaleboat. Yet they talk at large about building eight or ten more Dreadnoughts. If honorable senators opposite had their way, this country would, like the lost soul in the Vision of Judgment, be eternally damned. They would like every resource of this country to be continually up the spout, because they say it is such a valueless country that, if it were not for the pawnbrokers, we could not do anything for ourselves.
– It is British capital which has developed this country. The honorable senator ought to know that, surely.
– The honorable senator does not take any stock of the manhood of this country. ‘ His creed is capital, dead money.
– It is British capital that I am speaking of.
– Not only do the wealthy landed people of this country desire to escape their due share of taxation, but they also desire to escape payment for the actual cost of the services rendered to them by the people. Since the change of Government took place, there has “been deputation after deputation to the PostmasterGeneral on the question df the telephone rates. Those people who get an enormously useful service from the telephone want to pay far less than its cost to the Commonwealth. They want to compel poor people to pay for a service rendered to themselves, and they also want poor people who use the telephone to pay an equal rate with themselves. Take, for instance, a man in a small suburb or town, who has had a telephone installed, and who, perhaps, has an average of four calls per day. Wealthy people want to compel that man to pay as much as do themselves, who have a big connexion, and as many as 400 calls per day. There is not anything fair or just about their demands. Every service rendered by the Commonwealth should be paid for in accordance with its value. That is a self-evident proposition which no one can successfully dispute. Of course, the anti-Socialist wants Socialism for his own benefit all the time, and he wants to make the poor man pay for it. I venture to saythat the big newspapers and big firms in Melbourne are getting a service, and advocating that they should continue to get a service, for £9 per year which costs the Commonwealth .£40 or j£$o per year in actual expense.
– More investigation was wanted.
– My statement can be proved up to the hilt. It is a patent fact now, and no investigation was wanted. More investigation was the cry of the Black Labour Party when they wanted a continuance of black labour for another period of ten years. “ Give us,” they cried, “ a Royal Commission, more investigation.” As regards the telephone, investigation after investigation has been going on. Every one knows that no further investigation was needed. There are firms who have almost occupied the sole attention of officials at the Exchange.
– What did the Labour Party do for the poor man as regards the telephone when they were in office?
– We tried to fix charges which would be just to everybody, and not harsh to any one.
– To charge according to the service rendered.
– Exactly ; to fix the charge on a just basis.
– The present PostmasterGeneral said that the toll system had come to sta v.
– I think that pressure was brought to bear on the Postmaster-
General by the fat man. The members of the Stock Exchange and the Bankers’ Federation got at this eminently squeezable gentleman, who was quicker than ever lie had -been in his life in jumping around to meet the demands of interested individuals. I do not propose to occupy the time qf the Senate any longer in discussing the Govern- ment’s very nebulous statement of policy. I shall welcome an opportunity for the people to pronounce upon the remarkable condition of affairs that now exists in the political world. We find honorable senators on the Government side saying they are not bound by their pledges to the people; that such pledges need only be made for the purpose of securing their election, and that as soon as they enter Parliament they can go behind the backs of the people, and do everything which is subversive of their promises.
– No; and I wonder that the honorable senator’s conscience allows him to say such a thing.
– That is an absolute fact. The first essential principle for pure representative government is that the representatives -of the people shall respect the pledges they made at the time of their election. When we find there is readiness on the part of honorable senators opposite to depart from their pledges, it is easy to understand the violent objections they have to the members of the Labour Party signing a pledge so that the people can always know where they are. Honorable senators on the other side will never sign a pledge, because they want a loophole out of which to get. They want to be like the politicians to whom J. Russell Lowell referred when he wrote -
A merciful Providence fashioned us holler In order that we might our princerples swaller.
We do not want an opportunity to swallow our principles, because we are prepared to sign our names to them, but honorable senators opposite are continually sneering at them. Let us take Mr. Alfred Deakin, the head and front of the present combination.. What has he said on the hustings time out of number ; what has he said on the floor of the other House? A little while ago he pointed to the Opposition led by Mr. Joseph Cook, and to the Corner Party, and said that it composed the wreckage of every party that had failed in the House - the wreckage of the Black Labour Party, the wreckage of the Free-trade Party, the wreckage of the Conservative Party, and the wreckage of the Reactionary P-arty. But now he is with the wreckage; he is one of the most lively acrobatic politicians I have ever come across. Apparently he can swallow anything. I once heard a story about a showman who had a very valuable performing snake. It was about 6 feet long, but it was such a clever contortionist that when the showman put its tail into its mouth, it used to swallow itself. I believe that Mr. Deakin is such a clever political contortionist, such a professional acrobat, that if he had only a tail to commence on he could succeed in swallowing himself.
– The honorable senator is good at snake stories.
– I give that snake story to the honorable senator for what it is worth, and I believe that the illustration is not at all inapt. I believe that it would have met with his distinct approval if it had been uttered here last session instead of this session. But times and circumstances have changed, and now we find the apostle of free-trade led by the nose by the leader of the so-called Protectionist Party.
– If there was .no difference between them, why did they fight over the Tariff?
– There was really no difference between them. There were only different branches of the capitalistic system, which is always out for loot, to fleece the poor man, to resist everything which made for the uplifting of the general body of the people. Because they knew that once the people are uplifted capital will have less power.
– The Labour Party is out to assist the general lowering of the people.
– The honorable senator can only elevate himself upon the bodies of those whom he has crushed. He makes a mound of their .bodies, and then calls upon the people to admire him, and to look upon him as a philanthropist. As Carlyle said, a wealthy man, like Senator Fraser, will do. anything in the world for the poor man, except to get off his back.
– I do more for the poor than the honorable senator does.
– We are determined that the fight which has now begun shall never cease until we compel the wealthy people to get off the backs of the poor.
– I have no doubt that members of the black and white combination have a. very strong desire that the discussion on the programme of this Ministry should be concluded at the earliest possible moment. It is somewhat unpleasant for men to have to sit and listen to a detailing of their dangerous transactions. I have an idea that most of them are looking forward to the time when the electors will have to ta’ke into account the very peculiar steps they have taken in their political tracks towards the position in which they are now placed. The ghost of the ballotpaper is appearing before them, and it wears an ominous look which they do not care about. I am sure that Senator Best, as the champion protectionist of Victoria, will undertake a desperate task when he essays to explain to the electors how he and Senator Pulsford have managed to become allies,’ after each having, for the term of his natural life, worried the policy which the other has attempted to promulgate. All the viciousness of the past has now been wiped out by a single act of a political combination which was engineered for the purpose of displacing from office a party whose policy those honorable senators have feared for the past twenty years. The whole of these honorable senators have been acquaintances of mine for a score of years, so that I know their political tracks. To-day I see Senator Millen sitting side by side with Senator Best. I do not know whether the views of the former are tainted with the black and white taint, but certainly his political policy has always been diametrically opposed to that of Senator Best.
– Senator Millen is a new protectionist, and Senator Best is anold protectionist.
– Senator Millen is now a believer in the New Protection. If he were present he would probably tell us that he is not. Senator Best will doubtless say that he has not altered his political opinions, and consequently I am impelled to the conclusion that neither of those gentlemen ever embraced an opinion.
– What is the honorable senator worrying about?
– I am merely anticipating the time when those who profess to be the leaders of political thought in Australia will pass into oblivion, and when, with them, will die the whole of their accursed works. I wish now to refer to an interjection which was made by Senator Gray whilst Senator Givens .wasdiscussing the appointment of Colonel Foxton as the delegate to the Imperial
Defence Conference. Senator Givens enumerated certain works of Colonel Foxton-
– Were they “accursed” works?
– Many of them were. The advocacy of black labour is about as accursed a thing as one can take up. Whilst Senator Givens was speaking, Senator Gray interjected that the incidents to which he was referring occurred four or five years ago, and that during that period very considerable changes had taken place in the lives of most men. May 1 ask that honorable senator if he has forgotten the old quotation which reads, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots” ? I am inclined to think that he must have entirely overlooked the cardinal idea underlying the doctrine of which he has been such an ardent student for many years. Evidently he realizes that his own position is somewhat black, and he therefore desires to change his color. Apparently he would like to eradicate the tiny spots of black and substitute for them something white and pure.
– Impossible !
– Of course it is impossible. I can assure Senator Gray that he will have a very big question to face in the near future. Whilst Senator Pearce was making his very excellent speech last evening - a speech upon which we must all compliment him-
– He received a very wretched report of it in the daily newspapers.
– Senator Pearce, whilst speaking, ventured the opinion that the Employers’ Federation was doing all that it could to prevent the men of Australia from marrying. Senator Gray repudiated his assertion, and described it as absolute nonsense; and I think that one or two other honorable senators cheered his statement. Now, I have had some connexion with the State which Senator Gray represents, and I had a fairly long experience of the employers there, and I wish to say that Senator Gray was not authorized by those employers to deny the accuracy of Senator Pearce’s statement.
– I am not a member of the Employers’ Federation.
– I have a very vivid recollection of a large conference of employers which was held some -years ago in New South Wales, and at which I took a prominent part. At that gathering I endeavoured to show that the industrial conditions which the employers were enforcing day after day were rendering the lives of their employes almost unbearable, and at the same time rendering it impossible for a married man to support his wife and family in any degree of comfort. Thereupon one of the employers at the conference, whom I am sure Senator Gray cannot fail to recognise, rose and declared, “ We are no’ responsible for the children an’- the wives.”
– He was only a little ahead of Walpole.
– Exactly. The same policy has been consistently followed for years. Now, Senator Gray has allied himself with a Government which, it can be easily shown, are. going to hand over the defence of Australia to a committee of the same crowd - the crowd which for years has regarded the working man as a mere utility which Providence has placed in their way for purposes of their own personal aggrandizement.
Sitting suspended from i to 2.15 -p.m.
– I am reminded by the presence of the VicePresident of the Executive Council of some of the great changes’ in opinion that have taken place in recent years. At one time the Vice-President pf the Executive Council and I used to sit shoulder to shoulder together in Labour conferences. We used to discuss the higher principles of politics, and endeavour to find a solution for the very many problems affecting the progress of Australia, as a .whole. To-day we are far apart in our views in that respect. I am still on the right track. From the beginning I have had but the one policy. I was a Labour man when Senator Millen and I used to take part in those labour conferences. I am still a Labour man. We used to represent the unions of New South Wales in those days.
– I am prepared to join a similar conference for a similar object tomorrow.
– I would not doubt that in the least degree. I am quite prepared to believe that Senator Millen would enter any conference to-morrow if he thought that to do so would be a profitable undertaking to himself. His object in attending those conferences-
– Was to stop black labour from coming in.
– The policy of the Labour Party has always been to prevent the introduction of black labour. But the honorable senator now finds himself in unison with the champions of black labour in the Federal Parliament.
– Can the honorable senator name one?
– Not name one advocate of black labour in this Parliament ? Why, Senator Gray is beginning to pale already ! His colour has changed vastly within the last few months. Probably he does not feel quite happy, but there may be means of salvation for him. I also wish to say a few words as to what, in my opinion, has brought about the present degrading political situation. That it is degrading I feel sure the people of Australia are convinced. They are also convinced that the time has arrived when they should have a say as to whether that degradation should continue any longer. Much has been said as to the reason for this combination. I wish to refer to the propositions that the combination has laid before us for consideration.
– Why do they not explain themselves?
– I am afraid that they are almost inexplicable. Those who ought to explain them are holding their peace. Possibly they recognise that if they entered into explanations their credit, low as it is, would fall still lower in the estimation of the people of this country.
– We are very proud of the programme.
– The honorable senator ought to be. The Ministerial statement ought to cause any one to be proud whose desire is to hand over the destinies of Australia to the employers’ party, who wish to control this Parliament and everything connected with the country. There is plenty of room for Senator Gray to be proud of the Government and its policy.
– It is the best statement that has been put before the public since Federation.
– I venture to say that the public have very little conception of what this statement means.
– Was it taken from the confidential circular that Mr. Walpole sent out?
– The probabilities are that if Mr. Walpole had not a hand in drafting the statement, those of whom he is the accredited servant had a very great hand in it. What has brought about the present unholy combination? Senator St. Ledger has been going about the country telling audiences of ladies that the combination has been brought about to save them from the dangers by which they were menaced from the Labour Party. No doubt he had a good deal of reason for what he told his lady friends. Senator St. Ledger saw, as the people of the country have evidently seen, that the day is fast approaching when the welfare of the people of Australia will have to be considered by means of a policy designed in their interest. That day was’ approaching nearer under the regime of the Labour Government. A strong reason for the bringing together of the shreds and patches of all varieties of political colour to be found in Australia was to. prevent the realization of the policy to which I refer. There was no talk of any real combination until the policy of the Labour Party was fairly laid before the country. The Prime Minister himself was holding back. One could not find him with a microscope. Even the announcement of the Labour policy would not have been sufficient to draw him into the front ranks of pur opponents had it not been that the enunciation of our policy evoked strong expressions of approval from all parts of Australia. I am well aware that, as Senator Neild said last night, the policy of the present Government has been approved by the press of Australia. But we are not concerned with what the press may accept from the Government in power. Our concern is with the people- of Australia. They are above the press, just as they are above Parliament.
– They are the masters of both.
– Quite so; and the people were quite willing to accept the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister in his Gympie speech. The knowledge of that was the father of the fear that led to the combination that we now see. Could any man who remembers the events of the last session or two, and who witnessed Senators Best and Millen gnashing their teeth from each side of this Chamber, while fighting each other, from early morning until late at. night, expect to find them as we find them to-day, sitting together and assisting each other to do something which perhaps is embodied in the almost unintelligible statement which, on behalf of the mixed Government, Senator
Millen took the trouble to read to the Senate the other day. The programme, if I am right in so describing it, which Senator Millen submitted, is divided in paragraphs under three heads - “ Industrial,” “Defence,” and “Finance.” Under the industrial head, I wish to emphasize a remark I made in opening my speech. The Government have given indisputable evidence of their desire to be entirely relieved of the, to them, irksome responsibility of controlling the industrial welfare of Australia. In order that they may relieve themselves of it they propose, as Senator Givens said this morning, to create another halfdozen, or it may be another dozen, billets for Government supporters. I should not object to the creation of these billets if they were thought necessary, but I shall continue to object to the creation of such billets to enable the Government to hand over the industrial welfare of Australia to their friends. If anything of that kind be proposed, we shall be justified in crying very loudly, “ God save us from their friends.” Under the heading “ Industrial “ in the Ministerial statement, we are told that all industrial legislation is to be placed in the hands of a Commission to be appointed for a period of about seven years. I do not know whether Mr. Walpole is to be appointed secretary to the Commission, but he would undoubtedly be a very useful man for the Government, inasmuch as he would carry out very literally the instructions they seem desirous of giving that body.
– With Mr. Mauger as chairman, Mr, Walpole as secretary would make a good double.
- Mr. Mauger would make a very excellent chairman. Seeing that he has now foresworn all his antisweating principles and has gone completely over to the side of the sweater, I should not be-in the least surprised if he found congenial companionship on the same Commission with that stalwart champion of Liberalism, Mr. Walpole. I take it for granted that it is intended that the Commission shall take over the control of everything affecting the industrial life of the Commonwealth. We are informed that amongst its duties will be those of a Federal Labour Bureau. I do not know what that really means. If it means that the Commission is to undertake the responsibility of employing the whole of the labour in Australia, it is a very large order.
– What about labour in the States?
– No one in the States is to have anything to do with industrial matters, all of which are to be left in the hands of the proposed Commission. We are told that the Commission will be asked to devote its attention to the study of unemployment and of a scheme of insurance against employment. I assume that it is intended that the Commission shall study the causes which have brought about and are daily bringing about unemployment. They should not need to study that for very long. Surely, in these enlightened days, it is not necessary to appoint an Inter-State Commission to find out why men are unemployed ?
– It is a big question that is exercising the attention of the best minds in the world to-day.
– Surely the honorable senator is not sincere? He does not wish me to believe that he is so innocent of the conditions of life that he thinks an investigation necessary to discover the causes of unemployment.
– Bigger brains than mine or the honorable senator’s ask for such an investigation.
– The honorable senator talks sheer nonsense. There never was a bigger brain than he possesses. In the matter of brains, every other man is a pigmy compared with the honorable senator. But it should not require a very big brain to find out the causes of unemployment. They are already indicated in the history of our social life.
– The question has occupied the biggest minds, both amongst employers and employes for years.
– No; the question that occupies the big minds to which Senator Gray refers - the minds of the employers - is how they will succeed In continuing to keep’ an army of unemployed.
– The honorable senator knows that he is begging the question.
– I am not begging the question. Senator Gray knows as well as I do that the interest of the employer is best served by an army of unemployed. When the honorable senator and those who think with him are prepared to accept a political programme that will solve the problem of the unemployed, he will find that it will be one which will give every workman a chance to live decently and honestly, and will call upon every employer to disgorge a great deal of the profit which he retains for himself to-day. It is upon the army of unemployed that the big employer depends for his increased profits to-day. It is knowledge of, this fact which has brought honorable senators side by side in active combination to delay the march of a cause which has for its object the employment of men at a profitable rate.
– Could the honorable senator spare a moment or two for a solution of the difficulty?
– When Senator St. Ledger and I meet down Collinsstreet at one of those ladies’ meeting I shall be able to give him instruction on the subject for an -hour or so, and I might at the same time discuss some of the nostrums he has lately been putting forward. We are further informed in the Ministerial statement that it will be one of the duties of the proposed Commission to assist in supervising the operation of the existing Customs Tariff. Parliament having done certain work, it is assumed by the present Government that it has outlived its usefulness. There is no longer any need for Parliament, inasmuch as the scraps and odds and ends of political life in Australia by combination have evolved a plan by which Parliament may be abolished. All that you have to do is to establish a guiding principle. By legislation you pass an Act which establishes a guiding principle, and all you need do after that is to appoint a chairman for the administration of the Act, and it will turn out the perfect article; it”” will control the interests of the country, and look after industry and everything else. It is a matter of wonder to me that the Government have not proclaimed the desirability of appointing a Commission to look after our entrance to Eternity.
– Is the Commission referred to the Inter-State Commission ?
– What has it to do with wages, under the Constitution.
– That is what we are trying to find out. Even the Prime Minister admitted in his speech yesterday that there is very little reference to the Commission in the Constitution. It fills a very small space in that document. It is merely mentioned as a body that might some day be provided for. But the Prime Minister and his combination have hit upon the great responsibility which may be placed on the shoulders of the Commission. They say that -
The Commission will also assist in supervising the working of the existing Customs Tariff in its operation upon the investment of Australian capital and labour in Australian industries.
– That is a new Tariff Commission ?
– It is a new Parliamentary Commission, or, if the honorable senator will, a Commission to supersede the Commonwealth Parliament. That is the only tangible conclusion which a man can come to. The Government are simply going to lay down, if they have not already laid down, a great guiding principle, and to turn over everything to this Commission,, because in the next paragraph of the statement they say -
In the meantime any anomalies that may bediscovered in the Customs Tariff Act lately passed by this Parliament will be examined,, classified, and dealt with in due course.
That, of course, is the alpha and omega of their parliamentary life.
– And when did the Labour Government propose to proceed with the Commission?
– The Labour Government proposed to proceed immediately with the legislation which was required to benefit Australia, including the New Protection.
– Did they propose that the Inter-State Commissionshould be a new Tariff Commission?
– No, we had no such proposition to make.
– Nor has anybodyelse.
- Senator St. Ledger has just woke up and realized the position. I would advise the honorable senator, instead of going to address the ladies, to sit down and think out what all this means. Let him remember that his position as a senator is endangered by thepolicy of the party in which he is, I suppose, a very important unit.
– His position is in danger already.
– Apart from the electors, it is in danger. The honorable senator has bound himself to the party which is going to create a Tariff Commission - one which will control all the industries of Australia, and which, I suppose, will do any other thing that is called for, because we are told that -
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.
– Is Parliament to have nothing to say about” it ?
– Nothing whatever. The days of Parliament will have passed and gone when the black and white Government have carried their policy into force.
– The Labour Party would have taken the matter away from Parliament and handed it over to the High Court.
– We would have handed the matter over to the people, but honorable senators on the other side do not want a reference to the Arbitration Court. They do not want the people to have any power in the matter at all. What they want to do is to appoint a Commission of employers, that will control the whole of the workers and industries of Australia. We know that when the -personnel of the Commission comes to be decided, the Government will lake all sorts of care that it shall not comprise a majority of Labour men.
– Surely the honorable senator does not want another year’s debate here on. the fiscal question?
– What I would like to know is whether the InterState Commission is to settle the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth?
– According to this statement, that will be one of its duties. If it is to control or supervise the working of the existing Customs Tariff, what does that mean? Surely it means that the Parliament is to have no more concern with the Tariff, and that in future the Inter-State Commission will do what’ Parliament has been doing in the past.
– Yes, wasting time.
– I believe that a lot of time was wasted when the honorable senator spoke here so often on Tariff questions; but that is not the fault of the people, except for a short time. They may correct that fault in the near future. The Commission is to be intrusted with the supervision of the working of the Tariff, and their right to deal with all industries.
– Is this what is called a fiscal truce?
– I suppose it is.
– It is not the white flag, but the black and white flag which they have hoisted.
– I had the privilege of visiting a very large proportion of the electors in Western Australia whilst the question of defence was being discussed throughout the Commonwealth. I have no hesitation in saying that in that State the defence policy laid down by the Fisher Government was accepted very heartily, both by friends and by foes. I am also prepared to say that the action of the present Government in offering to give a Dreadnought to the Old Country is just as emphatically tabooed by the same people. Of course, it may be a little too previous to speak, because I read the Prime Minister’s speech as it appears in the official organ of the party - the Age.
– The official organ of the party ?
– The official organ of the Government party. They say that they made the policy of the Government, and that its defence policy is to be formulated upon the special articles which have appeared in its columns.
– Who told the honorable senator that?
– The Age. Before his Ministerial statement was read to the Senate, the Age declared in very emphatic terms that largely the defence proposals of the Government would be’ on the lines of its special articles on the subject. I take it for granted that it is the official organ of the Government Party inasmuch as Ministers have very closely followed that declaration. It looks as if “the Age was not very far wide of the mark. In the light of the Prime Minister’s speech, it may be a little too previous to talk about offering a Dreadnought at all, because he has advanced the idea that the gift may be something to float in Australian waters. He has not shown that it is going to be a Dreadnought by any means. It may be a flotilla cn the lines laid down by the Fisher Government. I shall not be surprised if, in the end; that is so. But in any case he stated clearly in his speech that the Government are waiting until the Conference in England has met and laid down the lines on which Australia should formulate its defence policy.
– Hear, hear.
– I am sincerely sorry to hear the honorable senator cheer any such expression, inasmuch as the Government have sent to the Conference a representative who is absolutely opposed to everything that is Australian, as the honorable senator knows.
– That is news.
– Yes, the Australian representative is absolutely opposed to everything Australian;’ but, apart from that fact, we have no great record of Colonel Foxton as a military man. He never took China. So far as I am acquainted with Australian history, he has never shown that he is at .all qualified to even represent Australia.
– What experience had the late Minister of Defence?
– The late Minister of Defence may have had no experience in that regard; but I venture to say that he understands Australia much better and knows infinitely more about the requirements of Australian defence than does the delegate who has been sent.
– He would scarcely say so himself. He has a little more delicacy than to do that.
– Like most mcn, he does not care to crack himself up. I believe that Australia could not have sent a worse representative than Colonel Foxton. I am sure that we could not have sent one who will be farther away from the true sentiments of Australia. It will be a terrible blow to the Austalian people if the Government should: have to send to the Old Country to ascertain exactly what they are to do, and when they are to act. They now realize that it is necessary for Australia to have a defence policy, and they do not want England to tell them whether it is necessary or not. They realize that their duty is to occupy this great country to advantage, and they know what has to follow the steps which have already been taken. I desire now to say a few words regarding finance.
– Did Western Australia contribute to the Dreadnought fund ?
– Yes. I omitted to mention that -circumstance to the Senate. Western Australia contributed to the Dreadnought fund the sum of £59 I35- Its population of 250,000 regarded that “sum as a fairly serviceable contribution towards the purchase of a Dreadnought. I am satisfied that if the inhabitants of Western Australia had ap proved of the action taken by the Deakin Government they would have evidenced their approval by contributing much more handsomely.
– They contributed more than that sum to the Broken Hill lockout in one month.
– Exactly. They contributed thousands of pounds to the Barrier miners, because they regarded their cause as a just one.
– Did not the Premier of Western Australia approve of the proposal of the Deakin Government?
– He refused to commit his Ministry to it. He said that it was a matter which should be dealt with by the Federal Government..
– He was not ready to be wiped out in one act. Under the heading of “ Finance,” the Ministerial statement submitted by the Vice-President of the Executive Council on Wednesday last reads -
A principal departmental outlay will arise in connexion with the works, appliances, and equipment for the services carried on under the Postmaster-General’s control, especially those relating to the telephone branch. A new departure is called foi in order to provide for the early construction of necessary reproductive works in connexion therewith.
I wish to ask Ministers - what is meant by the words “a new departure.” I admit that the Postmaster-General in going round the country has propounded a borrowing scheme. But surely the Ministry will not insult Parliament by declaring that a borrowing policy is new to Australia, especially in view of the fact that £250,000,000 has already been borrowed by 4,000,000 people.
– Solomon says that there is nothing hew under the sun.
– Probably he was right. If the “ new departure “ contemplated by the Government is nothing more nor less than the flotation pf a loan, it is incumbent upon them to take Parliament into their confidence at the earliest possible moment. If that is the “new departure” to which reference is made, I think that a good deal of consideration will have to be devoted to the question of whether other sources of revenue cannot be tapped before we embark upon a borrowing policy. I know that there are some members of the Cabinet who are perfect gluttons for borrowing. They have been borrowing all their lives, and they have severely felt the restraint which has been imposed upon them in this connexion since the establishment of the Commonwealth. I repeat that if the Ministry contemplate entering upon a policy of borrowing, they ought at once- to enlighten us upon the matter, so that we may see if it is not possible to obviate the adoption of that expedient by tapping other sources of revenue.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pulsford) adjourned.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the foi lowing, paper: -
Automatic Stamping Machine for Postal purposes, Merits of - Copy of letter from the Hon. Sir J. G. Ward, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and other correspondence.
Ordered to be printed.
Senate adjourned at 3.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 June 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090625_senate_3_49/>.