3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to draw the attention of the Minister representing the Attorney-General to the following paragraph in a circular headed “Joseph Palmer and Sons’ Monthly Share. List,” and distributed amongst honorable senators -
In Australia there is scarcely a business or occupation of any kind that is not now regulated by an agreement or understanding as to prices and conditions, and the results to the public are altogether satisfactory and beneficial. Space will allow here but a single illustration of this, and we. choose one that may, at the same time, help to show the absurdity of the law, namely, the Newspaper Trust. It is well known that there, is among the newspaper proprietors of Australia an agreement that all cable messages from Europe shall be obtained- through one channel only,’ and which in restraint of trade forbids any paper to receive and publish any independent cables. This it is that explains why the cables published daily in all the different papers are identical. As a result of this arrangement, instead of cable news appearing in a small number of larger papers only, every newspaper throughout the Commonwealth, even in the remotest backblocks, is enabled to supply its readers daily with the latest intelligence from all parts of the world. But however beneficial this may be to the public, it is, under the Australian Industries Preservation Act (section 7), an offence, for which the penalty is £500. However, it is quite certain that no Government will dare to put the law in operation against so powerful an organization as the Press.”
Referring to that paragraph, I beg to ask the Minister the following question -
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
MINISTERS . laid upon the table the following papers -
Public Service Act 1902 -
Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. George Henry Morgan to the position of manager, 3rd Class, Clerical Div- sion, Telephone Exchange, PostmaslerGeneral’s Department, Melbourne.
South African Union - Cable from the President of the National Convention, in reply to the Prime Minister’s cable of felicitation.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act 190S -
Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 47.
– Assistant laid upon the table -
Return to Order of the Senate of 24th June, 1909 -
Commonwealth Service - Employes receiving Salaries of ^300 and over.
[2.33]. - Iask Senator Croft to be good enough to postpone the question standing in his name on the notice-paper. This request applies to all the other questions on the notice-paper.
Hansard that last week Senator Pearce accused me, while claiming a very prominent position in connexion with the establishment of old-age pensions in Australia, of pairing against the Surplus Revenue Bill, without which Bill, he said, old-age pensions could not be paid. I have taken the trouble to look up the matter, and ascertain the facts. At the end of May I asked the then Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin, if there was any chance of the question of old-age pensions coming on in Parliament during the session, because I had booked my passage to go to the northern part of Australia, but would not go if the matter was to be dealt with. He assured me that it would not come on. In pursuance of that promise, I left Sydney by steamer at 9.15 p.m. on Tuesday, the 2nd June, as I find by . reference to my old pocket-book. On looking at the pair-book, I find that I was paired on the 3rd June against the Surplus Revenue Bill. The pair was made when I was out of Australian waters. I was on the high seas. I take no exception to the pair ; I do not know who made it; I blame no one ; but so far as any connexion between the pair and the question of oldage pensions is concerned, there was positively nothing for which I am in any way responsible. I also desire to mention that the Surplus Revenue Bill did not contain one word in reference to old-age pensions, the appropriation for which was made in a measure subsequently passed.
Debate resumed from 25th June (vide page 438) on motion by Senator Millen-
That the paper (Further Correspondence re. garding Imperial Naval and Military Conference), be printed.
– It is to me a matter of very great amusement to find honorable senators opposite continually objecting to the fusion which has taken place amongst other honorable senators. I am particularly amused, because fusion is practically the backbone of the Labour Party. It has been their backbone both in Government and in Opposition. Their party consists of an alliance of free-traders and protectionists.
– That is an admission that we have a backbone.
– I admit that the Labour Party have a backbone of the character I have indicated.
– What is a fused backbone?
– It is the alliance I refer to. I think it is clear to honorable senators generally, and I have no doubt it is clear even to the legal mind of Senator Symon, although it affords an opportunity for a small -joke.
– It was my physiological mind I was thinking of.
– I am anxious to inform honorable senators that this is not the first time I have been a party to a fusion. I go further, and say that in all probability if a fusion of Federal Free Traders and Protectionists had not taken place in New South Wales in 1898 there would have “been no Federation, or it would not have come off at that date, and if delayed I do not know when it might have eventuated. I propose to refer to the events in’ New South Wales at that time for the instruction of honorable senators,’ and I think that the facts I shall bring forward will be of some interest. In 1898 we were just about to face a State election for the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. The movement for Federation had then made considerable progress. A statement had been made by a number of opponents of Federation that Free Traders and Protectionists together really intended to upset the Free Trade policy of New South Wales. This had a bad effect, and if the idea had been allowed to take possession of the public mind it would have been quite impossible to persuade the people of the Free Trade State of New South Wales to vote as they ultimately did for Federation. Sir Edmund, then Mr., Barton, was the leader of the Federal party in the State, and in his published manifesto he included this paragraph -
The fiscal question should be sternly left in abeyance during the struggle to secure Federation. I repeatedly pointed out that it would be unjust, as well as impolitic to endeavour to reverse the fiscal system in this Colony in the meantime. Not only do I hold that opinion strongly, but I shall resist any attempt at such a reversal during the Parliament.
When that appeared I wrote a letter to Sir Edmund Barton on the point, asking him whether his manifesto included not only the Customs and Excise duties but the land tax and income tax, to which Sir Edmund Barton replied by writing at the bottom the one word “ Yes.”
– What did the honorable senator ask him?
– I shall read my letter. I wrote -
I presume that the statement in your manifesto that you would oppose any reversal of the fiscal system during the next Parliament means not only that you would oppose any reversal of policy with regard to Customs and Excise, but that you would also oppose any reversal of policy as regards taxation of land and of income.
Sir Edmund Barton wrote at the bottom of my letter, the single word “Yes.” It became necessary for me to take hold of the subject with considerable vigour, because statements were being continually made as to what the Free Traders and Protectionists together were going to do with regard to the Free Trade fiscal policy of New South Wales. I have here a long letter which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of 1 8th July, 1898. I followed that up two or three days later with another letter, from which I shall read some extracts. I may say that in the meantime I had requested Sir Edmund Barton to communicate with some of his leading Protectionist supporters and get them to make a clear statement on the subject. I deal with that in the following way -
When I wrote my letter I had not received all the answers to four -messages of inquiry which, at my suggestion, Mr. Barton had sent in his own name to four leading. Protectionists, viz., Messrs. See, Copeland, R. E. O’Connor, and Chanter. I now append the replies.
Telegram from Mr. See, Grafton, 21st July, to Mr. Barton. “ Being absent from. Grafton your message only reached me yesterday. I have read your manifesto, and approveof your fiscal pledge.”
Telegram from Mr. Chanter to Mr. Barton. “ Support your statement in manifestorespecting . sinking fiscal question absolutely. Advise all Federalists do same.”
That ought to be very interesting readingjust now for Mr. Chanter as a member of” the House of Representatives.
– I continue the quotation from my letter -
Young, to Mr. Barton. “ Have already declared I support your statement in manifestorespecting fiscal question. Repeat declaration, now. Have written Pulsford.”
Mr. Copeland was at the time a leadingProtectionist in New South Wales, and afterwards was Agent-General for the Statein London. Later on in my letter I said -
In view of the assurances now before fhepublic that the fiscal system at present existing is safe whatever the outcome of the pending election, the question is whether there hasnot been something like a “ conspiracy “ toraise an alarm, for which no ground or excuseexisted. When Messrs. Barton, Lyne -
Honorable senators will see that Sir William Lyne was in it too -
Copeland, See, O’Connor, and Chanter unitetheir assurances, nothing further, surely, isneeded. But though nothing further is needed1 much more is forthcoming. Sir W. P. Manning, who is contesting Woollahra; Mr.. West, who is contesting Paddington ; Mr. Lewis, who is contesting Cook Division ; Mr. Cohen, who is contesting Annandale ; Mr. Raffan, who is contesting Randwick ; Mr. Quinn, who is contesting Bligh Division, haveail, to my knowledge, assured the respectiveelectorates named that they will resist any fiscal’ change during the coming Parliament. Mr. Clarke, who is elected for the Hastings, havingbeen unopposed, has also emphatically given me the same assurance. Indeed, I may say I’ have not heard of or seen one protectionist whorefuses the assurances desired. The seven names, just mentioned are of candidates I havecasually met the last few days. Of course, I know very well there are in the protectionistranks some men whose pledges would not bevalued very highly, but I don’t care a buttonfor such men, for they are helpless againstthe bulk of their party and their leaders, justas similar men are similarly helpless on thefreetrade side. . That the protectionists as a party will during the whole of the next Par- diament let the fiscal policy alone is now an established fact, and there is therefore nothing o prevent the free-traders and protectionists working together to bring about a Federal union of these Colonies at an early date.
I have here the originals of the telegrams and letters referred to; the messages addressed to Sir Edmund Barton having all been handed over to myself by that gentleman. With respect to the letter from Mr. R. E. O’Connor who, if my memory serves me right, was at the time a candidate for the electorate of Young, but was defeated by Mr. Watson, I shall read the concluding iparagraph -
I can assure you I have no intention of supporting Mr. Barton or, indeed, of entering the Assembly for any other purpose than the accomplishment of Federation.
I hold in my hand several advertisements, occupying one or two columns of space, which appeared in the Sydney newspapers at that time. They are all headed “ To free-traders and protectionists, protectionists and free-traders.” One of them reads -
Vote straight for the candidates of the Federal Association selected by a joint committee of free-traders and protectionists. Don’t be misled by any talk about a conspiracy to reverse the fiscal policy. Unite to create the Australian nation as you would unite to defend it against the foreign enemy.
Then follows a letter signed by Mr. B. R. Wise and Mr. Bruce Smith, who referred to the fact that Mr. Barton and Sir William Lyne had given pledges that they would not attempt to “sneak in” protection under the guise of Federation. The same issue of the Evening News contains a letter written by myself, headed “ Our fiscal system and the election.” A few sentences from it reads -
To-day I and many others, the sincerity of whose attachment to the principles of free-trade cannot be questioned, are being subjected to what is only mildly described as misrepresentation. In our judgment, the time has arrived when the union of the Australian Colonies is imperatively called for; called for, I take it, by every consideration that can appeal to the patriot and the statesman ; called for by the course of events, both within and. without the borders of Australia ; and we are at one with every man who, whatever his views on other subjects may be, is prepared to make this subject of Federation the controlling factor of this general election and of the coming Parliament. We are told that we are participators in a protectionist conspiracy; that the Protectionist Party with one hand will wave the flag of Australian brotherhood, whilst with the other hand they will drive the assassin’s knife into the heart of the fiscal system of New South Wales. We men who, like myself have toiled hard for many years in the interests of free-trade, and who would far sooner cut off our right hands than be false to our faith, have this charge levelled at us. The cry that freetrade is in danger is a “political dodge” - the danger that threatens is to the political life of those whose actions in regard to the great question of the day do not inspire us with confidence. It is thought the danger may be staved off by raising the old fiscal battle-cry. That the alleged conspiracy does not exist, and that we are neither participators in it, nor dupes of others who are, can easily be shown.
In concluding my remarks upon this portion of my subject, I wish to refer a little more particularly to Sir William Lyne, because I imagine that honorable’ senators - on account of the very uncompromising attitude which that gentleman has taken up-
– Will the honorable senator read the letter which he wrpte to the Sydney Daily Telegraph, in which he refused to sink the fiscal question in order to bring about the fusion of parties which has recently taken place?
– Will he read his special article upon the glories of freetrade, which was published in March last, in the Nineteenth Century?
– Perhaps the honorable senator will permit me to select my own quotations. The Sydney Morning Herald, of Tuesday. 19th July, 1898, contains the following telegram from Germanton, in the Hume electorate -
Germanton, Monday. - Mr. W. J. Lyne ad dressed a large and representative meeting tonight at the School of Arts, the hall being crowded. Mr. J. Ross, J. P., was chairman. Mr. Lyne was enthusiastically received and frequently applauded. He declared that his partyhad agreed with the Federal Free-trade Party to sink the fiscal issue and fight together to bring about Federation under the leadership of Mr. Barton.
I think that statement is very clear and emphatic. It is very interesting to notice that the two New South Wales representatives who are specially standing out from the fusion which has taken place- I refer to Sir William Lyne and Mr. Chanter - were up to their necks in the fusion of 1898.
– What about the honorable senator’s letter to the press, in which he refused to be a party to the fusion? I read it.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. He did not read it. I wrote a letter to the newspapers in which I most distinctly stated that I would be no party to any arrangement under which we sold ourselves to the enemy. All the Free Trade members of this Parliament have said the same thing, both publicly and in the meetings at which the question of fusion was discussed. The accusation of the late Minister of Defence comes with very ill grace from a Free Trader who, for’ years past, has given his adhesion to a cordial alliance with his brother Protectionists.
– Is it not a fact that the honorable senator in his letter to the Sydney Daily Telegraph, stated that he refused to sink his fiscal principles?
– Certainly, and I have not sunk them.
– And is it not also a fact that in that respect the honorable senator differs from Senator Pearce, who has sunk his fiscal principles?
– It is quite clear that there was a fusion of political parties in New South Wales as the result of which Federation was brought about. I am veryemphatic in saying that but for that fusion, Federation would not have been an accomplished fact to-day. It was on account of the fusion that Federation was rendered possible. I do not think that the other States would have federated if New South Wales had stood out of the Union. The fusion of parties which recently took place in this Parliament was brought about for the purpose of furthering the greatness of Australia under Federation. There is every justification for that fusion. We cannot travel any part of the world without being impressed with the wonderful developments that are taking place in science, art, trade, invention, and discovery of all kinds. Nor can we avoid noticing that the art of government is daily receiving more attention. Parliamentary work is becoming more and more important every year. The developments of the twentieth century have been very great indeed. The advances which have been made during the past fifty years have been most remarkable, but the developments of the few years of the present century have exceeded those which occurred during the last century. Changes are now taking place such as have never been known before. We are living in stirring and anxious times, and we need a Government which represents a majority of the people of Australia - not a limited portion of its inhabitants, however loyal and able they may be. There was an urgent necessity for the formation of a strong political party such as has recently been formed. It is incumbent upon the electors of the Commonwealth to return to this Parliament the very best men available. I hope that the people will bear that fact in mind at the next general electionIf we get the best men’ and a Government that is really representative of the majority of the people of Australia, we mayexpect Australia to be able to hold its head* high in’ the world. Not only has the Mother Country given Australia selfgovernment, but she has gone far. beyond that. She has conferred upon Australia the power of absolute government over a territory greater in extent than England, Scotland,, and Wales combined. I refer to Papua. When we remember that the boundary of our territory there touches German territory on the north and Dutch territory on the west, it will be seen that we are face to face with possibilities of trouble. Nothing in the world’s history has been more prolific of conflict between nations than boundary disputes. We may any day be face to face with trouble with Germany in Papua affecting the boundary between Australian and German territory. The possibility of such a thing ought to make us feel that we owe it to the Mother Country as well as to ourselves that we should be able to speak with a majority voice. Not only have we this power in Papua, but we have before us the probability of having other territories togovern before long’. We are to take over Norfolk Island. Though that island has. practically been under Australian government - that is, the Government of NewSouth Wales - for many years, yet it is now to become formally a part of the territory of the Commonwealth. We shall in the future have control of other territories in the South Seas, as, for example, at the New Hebrides. These matters point to the necessity of having a Government strong in itself, strong in the power at its back, and strong in its ability to deal with great questions in a way that will command the respect of the world and the confidence of the Home Government. These are great reasons why there should be a fusionin Australia, and why I and Senator Best with other Protectionists here could not stand aloof and allow allsorts of trouble to eventuate, leaving important matters in abeyance while we fight over matters upon which we do not think in common. Now let me refer to theDreadnought matter. When the proposal’ to present a Dreadnought to Great Britainwas first initiated, I did not lose many minutes before I wrote a letter to the exMinister of Defence, promising him straightaway my vote in the Senate in support of the gift. I thought that it was not fair to the Government that we who believed in the proposal should leave ourselves in the position of being able to quibble afterwards. I spoke straight out. I did more than that. 1 said in my letter, “ Not only will I give my vote, and not only am I in favour of the gift of a Dreadnought, but I think that a gift of five Dreadnoughts would represent more closely the position that Australia should take up, and it is a position towards which I think Australian opinion will gradually mature.” It has been said that the agitation for Dreadnoughts in England was, to a large extent, fomented by party feeling. ‘ I am bound to admit that great use has been made of the position for party purposes in England. If honorable senators will refer to the Westminster Gazette of the 1 2th or 14th May last, they will find over my signature a very indignant letter, denouncing the use that has been made of Australian patriotism to further the purposes of the Protectionist party. But I am not going to be misled. Because I see what is being done, I am not going to lose sight of the necessities of the case. I noticed that Senator Symon on, I think, the day after he arrived from England, referred to the agitation in England, and said he thought ‘that that agitation had been worked up for party, purposes. But on the very next day came a cable message, indicating that Mr. Reginald McKenna, the political head of the Admiralty, had made a statement which confirmed all that had been said by other people previously. I do not think that Senator Symon will be prepared in the Senate to-day to tell us absolutely that Ave are fools for our pains.
– He will tell us something much more to the point than that.
– I should be glad to hear him on the point.
– He will tell us that the agitation was aroused only to embarrass.
– I am quite clear on the point. It is nothing to me whether Australia presents to the Mother Country a Dreadnought or makes some other contribution towards Imperial defence. The great and important factor is that Australia is to-day prepared to take her share of the burden.’ That i(s. what I am aiming at. You may call it presenting a Dreadnought or anything you like, but the essential fact is that Australia is to-day awake to the necessity of taking some share of the burden of Empire. That is all I am anxious for. and all that I ask for, no matter what form our participation may happen to take.
– Let us ,do it in a much more practical form.
– I have to call the ex-Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce, over the coals for a statement made by him in regard to this matter. Speaking in Melbourne on 31st May last, referring to the Dreadnought question, he concluded his remarks by saying-
Three of the wealthiest land-holders in NewSouth Wales had promised to give £10,000 each, npt to present a Dreadnought to the Mother Country, but to oust the Fisher Government, because it was going in for direct taxation.
– The report is not quite correct. I said : “Two wealthy landholders and the Chairman of the Tobacco Trust.” Otherwise the quotation is quite accurate.
– In the first place, Mr. Dixon, the Chairman of the Tobacco Trust, ga.ve ^5,000.
– He ought to have given ^50,000, considering what he has made.
– What I want to “ point out is that these gifts were made before it was known that the late Government did not intend to act upon the proposal.
– No, that is incorrect.
– There can be no question of the misapprehension which the honorable senator was under when he allowed himself, in the poverty of his argument, to make use of this assertion. How could it be true? How could people save their pockets by gifts of £10,000 for the purpose of promoting a policy which must increase taxation ? The thing is ludicrous, and will not bear looking at for a moment.
– They wanted to oust a Government that proposed a land tax.
– However much the taxation of the country mav grow, whatever increase there is that facilitates the imposition of new taxation - and that is what honorable senators want - the grant of a Dreadnought made it easier, and not more difficult, to impose a land tax. I do not propose to review at length the late Government’s defiant action with regard to coastal defence. After pledges had been given here and elsewhere, after votes - mine for one - had been obtained by a distinct statement that nothing would be done in the matter until the Parliament had had an opportunity of deciding how the money should be expended.
– No such pledge was given by the late Government.
– The money was voted under this pledge. Money that is given in trust for a certain purpose ought ro be held in trust, and nobody has the right to come along, take possession of it, and say, “ We will do what we like with it.”
– The money was appropriated by Parliament.
– It was a distinct breach of faith and trust of which the late Government ought not to have been guilty, and for which they deserved to be expelled from office.
SenatorPearce. - Does the honorable senator support the action of the Prime Minister in promising £2,000,000 for a Dreadnought without consulting Parliament ?
– I do absolutely. That is one of the reasons which make it absolutely necessary that the country should b.e governed by men who are truly representative, and have a following who” constitute a majority. It was only last week that Sir Joseph Ward was passing through this State. I came up by train with him, andcongratulated him and New Zealand. I said, “It is well that a country has at its head men whoknow how to take occasion by the hand.” This is necessary for every “country that desires to be well governed.
– The New Zealand Parliament was not sitting.
– We do not know when a great world emergency may arise. We cannot see into the future. We only see the very troubled world around us, and the necessity of the time is that we ought R be a united Australia, and to have a Government which has a real following at its back, and can speak as representing the whole country. Senator Pearce was going to London at the invitation of the Home Government, to the Conference. I sympathize with him in his disappointment, and he would be a strange man if he did not feel disappointed at what has taken place.
– Sympathize with Australia, not with him.
– I sympathize with Senator Pearce.
– Australia has lost more than he has.
– In the judgment of my honorable friend. When that invitation to an Empire Conference came to Australia, we ought to have been able to send a man, even if it was Senator Pearce - and he has my esteem for many great qualities which he possesses - who carried with him the representative power of a Government with a majority at its back, and in the . absence of that power, Senator Pearce was not the right man to go.
– I did not propose to go until after Parliament had met.
– Let me refer a little to my own position in regard to Free Trade. When we Free Traders did our utmost to bring about Federation, we saw that there was one branch of Free Trade which was to be secured for ever, and that was freedom of trade among the States. For years and years we fought for this Free Trade. Our esteemed friend, Sir William Lyne, used to tell us how Victoria robbed New South Wales of about £1,000,000 a year. But all that is a thing of the past. The States may trade together without let or hindrance, and that right cannot be taken away. We believed that we had a fair chance of winning freedom for our external trade ; but, as honorable senators know, we have not succeeded there.
– Not yet ; but I, who have some faith in the common sense of Australians, and think that they will ultimately find out the right course, anticipate that some opportunity may arise for rarsing the question successfully, and that Australia may yet be a Free Trade country. The growing cost of living must be telling a lesson to the people. Speaking on Friday, Senator Givens wanted to know where we were in regard to taxation, if new duties on tea and so on were to be proposed. The people of this country are taxed by Customs duties far too much, and a duty on tea will not be imposed with my consent. I remind honorable senators that they were parties to the imposition of a big duty on sugar, and to arrangements by which an enormous amount was diverted fiom the Treasury. We are paying about £1,200,000 in consequence of that duty, and the Treasury is finally enriched to the time of about , £200,000, and a solid £1,000,000 is absorbed by the industry, but the people pay the money. We are asked to believe that this position does not exist; but I know that it does. If this enormous payment which is made by the people, came into the Treasury,’ it would do a great deal to settle many difficult questions of Federal finance. The people of Australia are infinitely over-taxed through the Customs, and I shall be no party to the imposition of additional taxation, unless some of the present burdens are first of all removed.
– Will the honorable senator be a party to altering. the sugar arrangements ?
– The existing sugar arrangements I look upon as very objectionable.
– Will not the honorable senator try to stop them?
– Undoubtedly, I shall do my best in that direction. I desire to refer to another matter on which I feel very strongly, and that is that freedom of trade is an Empire necessity. I feel very certain that when we, with our huge and empty continent, erected Tariff barriers, we affronted the world. When Canada inaugurated a system of preference eight or ten years ago, she inaugurated at the same time a Tariff war with Germany. What does it all mean? These things have brought new troubles to the Empire. Have honorable senators forgotten the troubles and the enmities of the old Victorian stock tax ? I have not. I know what feelings of enmity in adjoining Colonies it was the cause of. And I can understand and appreciate thoroughly the feelings of enmity which must exist today in various countries at a tiny population such as ours, possessing itself of a huge country, and yet holding aloof by our Tariff from the trade of other countries.
– Of course, Germany must be very angry, because she does not do it herself.
– Germany cannot do it; she has no great continents filled with handfuls of Germans. The position is widely different. I do not desire to raise a fiscal debate here ; that is far from my thought. Only three or four days ago, I saw a cablegram from London, in which Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, said -
The more I see of the relations between the Mother Land and the self-governing Dominions the more I am convinced that fiscal liberty is essential to union.
I am convinced of it. I have been fighting for freedom of trade for twenty years, and for very much stronger reasons than the mere advantage of it to Australia ; I have been fighting for it for the interest of the Empire. I have felt all along that the existence of the Empire to a very considerable extent depended upon that. We claim the supremacy of the seas. And as long as the Empire maintains a policy of freedom, the. supremacy of the seas may well be associated with that policy, but not without it. I shall conclude mv few remarks with a reference or two to our friends of the Labour party. A few days ago, I read a case where a man was charged before a police magistrate with having forged some bogus testimonials of the work he had done and of his personal qualities, and the excuse for doing if was that he did not know of any other way of obtaining sympathy. That is very much the state of affairs with cur friends opposite. They have called themselves the Labour party. They have purloined the term “ Labour.” There is no honorable senator here who, on the average, has lived a harder life than I have, who has put more work into every 24 hours than I have done; but I am a non-Labour man, and they are Labour men. That is a dodging appeal to the sympathies . of the public. I have heard honorable senators sneer at there being so many lawyers in this Parliament. I believe that in New South Wales there are about six budding barristers belonging to the Labour party.
– We want all we can get.
– Of course, you draw them in. You call them Labour men. Men may be like the lillies of the valley : they toil not, neither do they spin, yet if they know how to spen labour, they will be the salt df the earth. That is the policy with which honorable senators opposite wish to beguile the innocent electors. They are up to all sorts of petty tricks to win sympathy in regard to their late expulsion from office. They whine all day long about it, and represent themselves as having been so badly treated that they are entitled to say all sorts of queer things about the new Government. A man is refused a pair ; the pairing season is gone, and the despairing season lias arrived. Thai, is really the position, I think. I very frequently pass a few yards from this: chamber a memorial to the eight hours, movement in Victoria, but I never do so without giving it a smile. I read the inscriohon upon it : “ Memorial to celebrate the
Inauguration of the Eight Hours Movement in Victoria in 1856.” That was fifty-three years ago. I wonder where the majority of our Labour friends were in 1856. Where was Senator Needham in that year ? If we may believe the Labour party to-day, it is they, and they alone, who. have done all these great things, and started schemes of all sorts for the amelioration of labour. Long before Senator Needham was thought of the object of the eight hours movement had been gained . and all kinds of action taken in all civilized countries for the amelioration of those who labour. Honorable senators opposite and their friends have taken advantage of the existence of these movements to trade on the sympathies of the public, and to persuade the public who often are only too gullible that they are the only real Simon Pure.
– I take advantage of this opportunity to make a protest. I sat and listened as patiently as I could to Senator Pulsford, and I expected that he would have been good enough to have related his conversion. I am sorry that the honorable senator failed to do so. I presume that as Senator Millen, who we know is diplomatic, sits alongside the honorable senator, Senator Pulsford is to some extent under his wing, and perhaps at his bidding as well. I ha.ve received Senator Pulsford’s photograph, and I cherish it. I told my wife and family that I had received it, and intended to bring it over to South Australia, because there are very few members of the Senate whom I like better than the honorable senator, but it is amazing to me to see a man whose photograph as the champion of Free Trade appears at the head of a statement which I have received sitting on the -same side in this chamber with Senator Best and with Senator Trenwith, who I am sure is not feeling very happy to-day. I hope that Senator Pulsford will supply me with another copy of his beautiful photograph attached to some production which will not be such a caricature of his action in joining forces with the Protectionists. I do like consistency, and from the honorable senator I expected at least consistency. I was a member of the Senate for about eighteen months before I saw the. honorable senator, but I heard so much about him that I was delighted when I heard that he was approaching our shores. In the circumstances, I have been very greatly disappointed to hear him condemn the
Labour party in fhe way that he has done to-day, especially when I remember that Senator McGregor supplied a pair for the honorable senator during his absence from the Senate, extending over eighteen months. Then there is my opponent, Senator Dobson, who is going to fight me from the public platform in Tasmania. What did the Labour party do for him through Senator William Russell ? They found a pair for the honorable senator for many months. That was done for the convenience of the honorable senator, and with the consent of the party on this side. My reason for referring to these matters - and I hope that it will get into the press-
– Let the honorable senator not be too sanguine.
– I am afraid there is not much hope, because we do not get fair play even in the Adelaide press. But I am taking the opportunity to say what we have done, and no one knows what we shall do in the future.
– What about Mr. Chris. Watson and the pair found for him.
– I am not dealing with Mr. Watson. The position 1 take up in this matter is that it is the duty of every member of the Senate, and of every honorable member in another place who takes the salary attached to the position which he occupies, health permitting, to be present while Parliament is sitting.
– Why does the honorable senator refer to Mr. Watson? My object in referring to the pairs given to Senators Pulsford and Dobson by honorable senators on this side was to reply to the press, because even in our Adelaide newspapers references are almost daily made to the refusal by the Labour, party to give pairs, as if we were the most wicked people under the canopy of heaven. We are here met on a serious occasion. The times are trying. Senator Pulsford will be thought a much more cautious man than I am, but in the circumstances in which the present Government made the offer of a Dreadnought, or its equivalent, to Great Britain, the honorable senator has said that he would have given five.
– The honorable senator would have given£10,000,000.
– So far as the taxpayers of South Australia are concerned, the offer of one Dreadnought would represent about£200,000. At the close of last session, although we had a Labour Go- vernment in power, Senator Millen will remember that when we were discussing a proposal in the Manufactures Encouragement Biff to grant a bounty on the local production of iron, I wanted to know where the money was to come from. I take the same stand to-day. I say that so far as my knowledge of the people of South Australia goes, the, are practically unanimous against the proposed gift of a Dreadnought to Great Britain.
– Or even five Dreadnoughts.
– That would be worse. If a Labour senator said what Senator Pulsford has said, it would be thought that he ought to be sent to a lunatic asylum. At least five of the representatives of South Australia in the Senate are opposed to the gift of a Dreadnought. Senator Symon is as strongly opposed to it as are members of the Labour party. I cannot speak for Senator Vardon, and I do not profess to do so. When in South Australia, I received the newspapers regularly, and the political news always attracted my attention. I felt that the manoeuvres that were being carried on by Mr. Deakin, Sir John Forrest, and Senator Best were deplorable. When the Fisher Government took it upon themselves to order torpedo boats, those opposed to them said: “You have done wrong. You had not the authority of Parliament,” and in referring to the payment of old-age pensions, they said to the Fisher Government : “ You have not the money to pay old-age pensions.” What followed? Could inconsistency go further? They then said : “ Mr. Fisher, you must give a Dreadnought to Great Britain.”
– Without waiting for the authority of Parliament.
– Yes ; without waiting for the authority of Parliament. I said the other day that honorable senators opposite do not desire to consult the people, and I say now that it is the duty of every member of the Federal Parliament, in the interests of the State he represents, to look after the pounds, shillings, and pence, and to insist that Parliament should be taken into the confidence of the Government, and should know what their intentions are, what money they will require, and how they intend to obtain it. Senator Millen may think that on some occasions I speak only, for myself, but if by speaking sensibly and practically, and;, perhaps, somewhat lengthily as the occasion may require, we can succeed in preventing the Government doing what they have proposed to do, we shall be willing to. remain here day and night. Senator Millen should take the Senate into his confidence, and tell us where the money is to come from.
– The honorable senator told us about a “ new departure.”
– What does the “new departure” mean? The honorable senator ought to explain that. If he were sitting on this side, as he did last year, and his new colleague, Senator Best, represented the Government that made such a proposal, what a time Senator Best would have.
– Where is Senator Best now ?
– I do not know. The honorable senator is looking for pleasure, and I do not think he can find very much of it here. His countenance when here does not express happiness. I sympathize with him, and also with Senator Trenwith. When we grapple with the real question, those who are prepared to spend the money of the Commonwealth should be asked to say how they propose to get it. Mr. Deakin was so anxious that Parliament should be called together immediately that he almost attempted to force the hands of the late Government. He took every possible step to frighten the Fisher Ministry into acceding to his demand, and he declared that the necessary money with which to pay old-age pensions was not available. Yet this same gentleman immediately afterwards turned round and said, in effect - “Although we have not the money with which to pay old-age pensions, we ought to present a Dreadnought to the Mother Country.”
– Senator Pulsford says that we ought to present five Dreadnoughts
– Where is the logic in such an attitude ? I say that there is none. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence object to direct taxation, and declare that the requisite funds for administering the affairs of Government should be provided out of Customs and Excise revenue. What does that mean ? Does it not mean an increase in the cost of living ?
– Ask Senator Pulsford.
– It is of no use asking him. He seems to have been struck dumb.
– He said that he would not vote for a tax upon tea.
– I am glad to hear that, because if Senator Pulsford’s vote were cast with the Opposition, I think that we might be able to prevent the people of Australia from, being called upon to pay a duty upon tea. The policy of the Deakin Government is to borrow money to the tune of £2,000,00(3-
– They will have to borrow £3,000,000 or £4,000,000.
– They may have to borrow £10,000,000. Where is this money to come from?
– From the London Jews.
– The policy of the late Government was clear and unmistakable. They were prepared to initiate a scheme of defence very much upon the lines laid down by the previous Deakin Administration ; they were ready to establish an institution somewhat akin to a State bank; they were willing to impose a tax upon estates the unimproved value of which exceeded £5,000, and to levy an additional impost upon absentee landlords without; any exemption whatever. In short, their policy was absolutely a sound one. I am proud of the fact that they manfully stuck to their guns, and refused to back down upon a single item. They declined to convene Parliament at an earlier date than was necessary, and they refused to accede to the clamour to present a Dreadnought to the Mother Country. Before this Parliament prorogued last year, I remarked to Senator Millen and the present Minister of Defence that I recognised that with the next shuffle of the political cards they would occupy the Treasury benches. Immediately after the prorogation, in addressing a meeting at Yass, I said that, knowing Mr. Deakin as I did and recognising his anxiety for office, those who sat behind him and those who would like “to be linked with him in a Government, would join forces for the purpose of displacing the Labour Government as soon as Parliament reassembled. That prophecy has been fulfilled to the letter. But the late Government were deposed from office in a most unfair manner. In passing, I may mention that I was very pleased to notice a report in the newspapers to-day in connexion with the YassCanberra Capital site. From a perusal of Mr. Scrivener’s report, I was under the impression that there was a scarcity of water of good quality within the selected area.
– So there is. The water supply is not good.
– That is not my opinion, and my colleague is not going totrap me into making one statement to-day and another to-morrow.
– We both saw the water.
– It is true that on our visit of inspection we saw some dirty water, but we also saw some most beautiful’ water. What I feared was that the Premier of New South Wales had attempted to intimidate Mr. Scrivener, because his report was adverse to the locality which is favored by the former. I have the greatest faith in Mr. Scrivener’s ability and straightforwardness, but if I believed that the Premier of New South Wales had threatened that officer in any way, my allegiance to the Yass-Canberra site would be seriously shaken. Only yesterday a correspondent of an Adelaide newspaper stated that notwithstanding all that I had said in favour of the site, I was absolutely wrong. In reply, I may say that when I visited the site a second time, in company with Senator Vardon, I was more impressed with it than ever. We obtained a billycan of water from the Cotter Creek and I enjoyed the nicest drink of tea, made from it, that I have had for a long time. I wish now to ask Senator Millen whether he will not give us some information in reference to the financial question ? If he will not, when I return to South Australia at the end of the week I shall have to admit - if I am interviewed by a representative of the Register - that all our attempts to draw the Government have failed. We are elected to this Senate for a specific purpose. We are here to safeguard State rights. Why, then, ‘should we not be trusted? The Government have refused to recommend the Governor-General to grant a dissolution-
– Have they not told the honorable senator that there is to be a “ new departure.”
– But I want to know what is the “ new departure.” We have a right to know that.
– The “ new departure” is to spend money without the authority of Parliament.
– Having listened to the speech of Senator Pulsford, the constitutional authority in this Chamber and the one time champion of Free Trade, I must say that I cannot understand how he has come to climb down upon his Free
Trade principles and to uphold the position taken up by the Government. I am aware that the honorable senator said that he would not be content with presenting the Mother County with one Dreadnought, and that he was in favour of giving her five Dreadnoughts. I do not know what is the matter with hiin. Formerly I was under the impression that he was a thoughtful and cautious man. The only explanation I can find for his present position is that he has to go before the electors in March of next year, and that the Dreadnought proposal in New South Wales has been run by the press. In order to secure a change of Government, and to escape the imposition of a progressive land tax, the wealthy men -of that State promoted this scare along with the Tory crowd which is pulling the ropes in Old England. I understand that several of these wealthy men have given ^10,000 each towards providing a Dreadnought for presentation to Britain.
– They merely promised to do so. They have not given the money.
– I think that the grand outspoken speech delivered by Mr. Fisher at Gympie, struck terror into the hearts of the land monopolists of New South Wales and the other States, and I am not at all surprised at it. Senator Pulsford, living as he does amongst such people, and looking anxiously forward to the next election, has evidently forgotten his hustings pledges, and has resolved to get in out of the wet. That is the only explanation I can offer for his altered conduct. Mr. Deakin had no followers in South Australia until recently.
– He has very few there now.
– Senator Vardon was returned as a strong opponent of Mr. Deakin, and so was Senator Symon. Thank God the latter is still an opponent of his-
– Was the honorable senator returned as a supporter of Mr. Deakin ?
– No. As far as Mr. Deakin is concerned, I never had any faith in him.
– That is why the honorable senator voted for his Government for so many months.
– We were not scrambling .for office. It was our policy that we wanted to have realized. When there were only three and a half supporters of the Deakin Government in the Senate - for Senator Cameron, who was the half supporter, was not with them on any other question than defence - and when we used to approach Senator Best and make a reasonable request to him as to what we wanted, he used to say immediately, “What are the numbers?” It was within the power of the Labour party for a number of years to turn out the Deakin Government, who always had the Conservative element at their throat.
– The honorable senator has only told half the story.
– Not even half.
– I have not told nearly the half of it. If I had desired to occupy time, I might have produced letters and quoted from Hansard. What did Mr. Deakin say, speaking of those who are his. present supporters, on the 20th October last? He said that Mr. Reid had behind him the wreckage of the anti-Socialist party, the Free Trade party, the Black Labour party, and the Reactionary party. At. that time Mr. Deakin proclaimed that he would not touch the Conservatives; but to-day he is sitting with the. wreckage. The wreckage came and beseeched him to take them up. Sir John Forrest said, “ I will not be led by Mr. Cook ; w’e must have Mr. Deakin, or I myself will lead.” We hear much about the caucus. But there were plenty of caucus meetings while the present Government were in process of formation. Some of the caucuses were held at the Grand Hotel. I was pleased to see Senator Millen’s name figuring prominently at that time, because, if there was anything to be distributed, he had as much right to a share as any one, on account of his ability. On one occasion I read how, at fifteen minutes past 12 o’clock, Senator Millen, Senator Best, and others adjourned te the Grand Hotel to come to a final decision as to what was to be the policy of the Government.
– It was a grand adjournment.
– Was it not? It was something to be handed down to history. Although I am becoming accustomed to the sight of the ranks opposite, yet I cannot help thinking that it is a sight for the gods to witness Senator Best in alliance with his old enemies. He was put into .office by Labour, kept in office by. Labour-
– And turned out by Labour.
– Yes, and he never forgave us. As I have said, the Deakin Government had only three direct supporters in the Senate. They were Senator Best, Senator Keating, and Senator Trenwith. Now “ Fair play is bonnie play,” and if justice had been done Sena- for Keating should have occupied Senator Best’s position in the present Government. He was Senator Best’s senior. Surely the matter of religion should not have influence in these matters. Probably the reason why Senator Keating was passed over was’ that he has not so much of the scheming instinct about him as Senator Best has. He is not so impatient. He is willing to wait until his time comes, when, probably, he will be able to run for the Presidentship, or something of that kind. But Senator Best, being of a more impetuous turn of mind, could not wait. He said, like Mr. Cook,. “ The Labour party have no right to be in office ; let us get them out of it.”
– He is “ a young man in a hurry.”
– And he ought to study others. Senator Keating was a Minister before him, and sustained the position with credit to himself when he led the Senate. He was a grand and able man. But Senator Best jumped his claim l.y performing an acrobatic feat. Some reference has been made to the occasion when I took a seat on the side of the Chamber opposite to the supporters of the Deakin Government. The reason why I took that seat was as a protest against the way in which the Deakin Government dealt with the new Protection question. The most effective way of showing my feeling was by changing my seat. I was never a supporter of Mr. Deakin personally. I told the people of South Australia that I had no faith in the man. Although a Protectionist on new Protection lines, at the same time I preferred Mr. G. H. Reid to Mr. Deakin. The one is a practical common sense man, and the other is one who lives in the clouds, and with whom I could not have anything to do. Out of the thirteen representatives of South Australia in this Parliament, not one was returned as a Deakin supporter. I wish that Senator Trenwith or some other supporter of the present Government would come over to South Australia, and explain their policy. Senator Trenwith was over there some time ago, and made some very able speeches on the Protectionist question. If he came now, he would be gagged.
– The honorable senator may be quite sure that wherever I go, I shall say what I want to say.
– I am a poor man, and am already engaged for a debate with Senator Dobson but if Senator Trenwith will come over, I will pay the cost of a hall.
– The honorable senator says he would be . gagged.
– If a man is elected to represent the people, it is his own fault if he is gagged. I should like to hear even Senator Best in South Australia in defence of the Government. But I know that the Minister of Trade and Customs will not come. I wish he would.
– Since the initiation of this debate, it has been said in many quarters that the Labour party has been guilty of serious obstruction. If I understand that word rightly, obstruction can only come from one side of a legislative chamber. Having watched the debates very carefully in both branches of the Legislature, I can say that a fair share of time has been occupied by members of both parties. Consequently, the charge of obstruction cannot be laid at the door of the Opposition in either House. I want to ask Senator Pulsford a question before he leaves the chamber, as he appears to be about to do. Towards the close of his address I attempted to engage his attention, and receive an answer to a question, but he wasso much engrossed with his thoughts and his eloquence, which was, I admit, very interesting, that he did. nbt hear it, though repeated. He was then attempting to ridicule the members of the Labour partv bv doubting whether they were sincere in their motives, their utterances, and their actions. He asked this question, “ Where was. Senator Needham in 1856, when the question of eight hours a day was initiated?” He spoke of the monument near by, which was erected to commemorate the initiation of the eight hours movement in Victoria. I ask the honorable senator where he was when Mr. Richard Cobden, the champion of the Free Trade movement at Home, was one of the most eloquent advocates and exponents in the reform movement in thethirties. Is the honorable senator any less a Free .Trader to-day because he was not alive at that period ? Perhaps he was alive then.
– Is that the question?
– Is the honorable senator any less a Free Trader because he was not about then? Is he less sincere in. his advocacy of his Free Trade views? Why should he direct such a question to me, and impute base motives to Labour men, advocating sincerely, as they do, the platform and pledges on which they were returned to both Houses of the National Parliament? Thai is the question I’ have to propound to my honorable friend.
– Will the honorable senator give notice of it, please, as it is such a grave question?
– I do not feel inclined to give notice of it, because the notice-paper is chock full of questions, and Senator Best, who is now beaming with smiles from the place which he always likes to occupy - the Treasury bench - is anxious that the answers to those questions should be postponed. We have before us a supposed policy statement of the present Government. I desire to congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council upon the admirable manner in which he filled the role of auxiliary GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth. A few weeks ago, in this chamber,” His Excellency read the Governor-General’s speech, announcing the proposals of the then Government. Another branch of the Legislature did not even extend the courtesy of considering those proposals. When we reassembled here, after an adjournment, Senator Millen read another GovernorGeneral’s speech, in which we find that the policy of the new Government is divided under three heads, “ Industrial,” “Defence,” and “finance.” The third word in the first paragraph of the statement, is “ complex “ -
The most complex series of measures to be submitted includes those affecting the industrial interests of the Commonwealth.
I admit that they are complex. It con- , tinue. -
The pivot of several of these will be found in a Bill for the establishment of an InterState Commission. “ Pivot” is, T think”, a very happy word. The pivot of the present combination that occupies the Treasury benches is their mutual hostility to the Labour party. That is the pivot on which they have re volved, rejected all their pledges, and betrayed the people who have placed them in Parliament.
– I thank the honorable senator. My conscience is quite clear, at any rate. I was against the Labour party, was I not?
– The honorable senator’s conscience is very elastic, we know.
– The honorable senator’s conscience is as good as new, because he has never used it, but I was not referring to him.
– Then I apologize.
– I do not want the apology.
– Very well, it is withdrawn.
-I was referring to the occupants of the Treasury benches. There is nothing on which they agree - no principle in politics on which they have ever or are now or ever can agree - except their mutual hostility to the Labour party, and their desire, at all hazards, to remove them from being in possession of the government of this country. This statement goes on to announce ‘ that the new Government will establish an InterState Commission. I am inclined to think that this is another sop. The Government have already created one record in the number of their Ministers. No previous Government included ten Ministers. Why should there have been ten in this case, seven Ministers of State and three Honorary Ministers. By the way, the Prime Minister is supposed to be an Honorary Minister.
– Oh, no !
– At this stage of Federal history, I should like to have a definition of what an honorary Minister really is? Does he receive any remuneration for his services to the Commonwealth ? I venture to think that every one of these gentlemen is receiving “to-day remuneration for his services to the country. This fusion Government contains seven lawyers. I have no antipathy to the members of the legal profession, or to the legal members of this Government. Personally, I have every respect for these gentlemen, but I intend to watch very carefully any proposals emanating from a Government in which members of the devil’s brigade constitute a majority, because it always has been said that we cannot expect very much progressive legislation from such a combination. I thought that by the establishment of the InterState ‘Commission there might be a possibility of placating two or three more Government supporters.
– It is very handy to have a bribe of that sort to use.
– Yes, I think it is very convenient. I know that there are two or three fusionists who are keenly disappointed because they were not included in the present Cabinet. They have been silenced by the knowledge that, according to the Ministerial statement, an Inter-State Commission is about to be appointed. Possibly, these two or three malcontents may be commissioned.
– I would not accept an appointment, at any rate.
– There is an old saying that present company is always excepted, and, of course, I always except my veteran friend. . But apart from this proposal being as, I think, a mere sop to keep together this awful combination, there is something more behind it.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Inter-State Commission is to be formed of politicians?
– I think that they are. to have a good cut.
– God help us if they are.
– That would be a. first-class means of depleting our (majority.’
– I will bet the honorable senator a suit of clothes that there will not be one politician on the Commission.
– This is not a gambling chamber, sir, nor am .1 a betting man. The creation of the Inter-State Commission vitally affects the question of new Protection. Here we have our obliging friend, Mr. Deakin, again turning a somersault.
– That is nothing.
– Of course, his somersaults are so frequent that one need not be surprised at him. Last year, when the High Court decided that our new Protection legislation was ultra vires, Mr. Deakin made repeated statements that his “Government would lose no opportunity, through the means of a referendum, in appealing to the electors to confer upon this Parliament sufficient power to deal -with this phase of industrial legislation.
– He meant that he was not going to find an opportunity.
– He was looking for Labour support when he made that statement.
– When that statement was made he, with his handful of followers in another branch of the Legislature, and with three and a-half supporters here, as Senator W. Russell has just stated, knew that they were being kept alive by Labour support. What do we find these honorable gentlemen doing now ? They are running away from their position. Mr. Deakin is afraid to invite Parliament to pass a Bill for a referendum of the people on the question of so amending the Constitution as to give this Parliament the power to deal with this phase of the question. What Senator Millen says in his statement, which is somewhat Deakinesque in its composition, is -
The pivot of several of these will be found In a Bill for the establishment of an InterState Commission which, in addition to exercising the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, will also be authorized to undertake many of the valuable functions discharged in the United Kingdom by the Board of Trade.
The point I wish to make is this : The High Court has already said that the new Protection legislation of this Parliament is beyond the powers conferred on it by the Constitution.
– Not quite that ; exercising the power under an Excise Act, perhaps.
– The High Court has said that the legislation passed bv the Federal Parliament to give effect to the new Protection idea is ultra vires. Can Senator Best, on behalf of his leader, Mr. Deakin, inform the Senate how the appointment “ of an Inter-State Commission or Board of Trade will get over the decision of the High Court, and give this Parliament power to deal with industrial legislation in the way desired?
– If it is unconstitutional for this Parliament to deal with it, how can this Parliament give an InterState Commission power to deal with it?
– That is just the problem I submit. It is possible that Senator Best, as a member of the legal profession, will be able to evade the question. This is a very important matter. If there is- any question agitating the minds of the people of Australia to day, it is the question whether the Federal Parliament should have full control over the industries affected by the Tariff.
– Agitating the minds of some of the people of Australia.
– With all due respect to Senator Vardon, I may say that since this question was brought forward, I have travelled over a great deal of the Commonwealth, and speaking, not only as a party man, but from my experience of employers as well as employes in various parts of Australia, I repeat, that to-day the Australian public generally desire an amendment of the Constitution giving the Federal Parliament power to deal with those industries which are affected by the Tariff. I say that, although the appointment of an Inter-State Commission may, for many reasons, be advisable, it will not go to the root of this question. I would, on many grounds, support the appointment of an Inter-State Commission ; but it will not remedy the existing position, so far as our power to give effect to new Protection is concerned. We must go further, and have an amendment of the Constitution. I say, also, that the Prime Minister and Senator Best are going behind their promises lo the people of Australia, and are attempting to evade the position by such a subterfuge as the appointment of an Inter-State Commission. The next matter dealt with in the Ministerial statement is the appointment of a High Commissioner. I realize the necessity for such an appointment, which I think has been too long delayed. It is essential that the people of the Commonwealth should be represented at what is now known as the “ Heart of the Empire.” New Zealand. Canada, and South Africa, are represented there ; and no delay should take place in the appointment of a High Commissioner for Australia. All I wish to say in connexion with this matter is that, before the appointment is made, the name of the gentleman favored by the Federal Government should be submitted to this Parliament. I do not desire that the name should be included in the Bill, because I know that that could not be done; but I do say that, before the appointment is made, the Federal Parliament should have a voice in the selection of the man to occupy the position. There is another matter mentioned in the Ministerial statement which, :t present, through the medium of the Press Conference in London, is engaging the attention of the world. I refer to the proposed cheapening of the cable service. I do not know what the intentions of the Government are in this connexion ; but I ask them to consider seriously the necessity of trying to kill the present cable monopoly. Whilst the agitation by the Press Conference is laudable in one way, I do not think that it will best serve the interests of the people of Australia if the rates for press cables only are reduced. In common with all who have the welfare of the people of Australia at heart, I should like to see the cable rates so cheapened as to bring our people into easy communication with the people of other ‘portions of the Empire. Senator Best and Senator Fraser are, we know, great advocates of Imperial unity.
– The honorable senator, I know, is not.
– I am giving Senator Fraser credit for his opinions.
– And I am giving the honorable senator credit for his.
– I thank the honorable senator for that. What I wish to point out is that, if we are going to have a real Imperial unity, if the bonds of Empire and the silken threads of unity are to be strengthened, it can only be bv the establishment of cheap intercommunication between the various portions of the Empire. Why should only the press of Australia be given the advantage of low rates ? Why should not every person in Australia, if the necessity demanded, be able to communicate with his ar her people in every portion of the British Empire at equally low rates.
– At the present moment, the Pacific Cable authorities are proposing to reduce their rates.
– To the press.
– And the other will follow.
– We have no guarantee of that.
– If Senator Fraser will listen, he will learn that what I am complaining of is that it is not right to reduce cable rates for the press only. The press are, of course, welcome to any reduction of rates that they can secure. I would be prepared to support a reduction in press rates.
– But if the press secure a reduction of rates, they will not use the Pacific Cable ; they will use the reduction of rates by the Pacific Cable only as a lever to force the Eastern Extension Company to reduce their rates, and the people generally will have to pay the piper. ‘
– I want to say that those who advocate Imperial unity should advocate the cheapening of cable rates to every citizen of Australia, whether engaged in press work or in any other kind of work. If Senator Best joins in the debate, I should like him to explain just what ‘ is meant by the reference to the cheapening of cable communication in the statement submitted by Senator Millen. So far as the taking over of the Northern Territory is concerned, I have already said that I shall be in favour of the Commonwealth taking over from South Australia the administration of the Northern Territory on certain conditions. I believe the present Government intend to submit to Parliament the draft agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of South Australia. If it comes before us in ils present form, there are certain clauses in that agreement to which I shall object, but I strongly favour the proposal to take over the Territory.
– What does the honorable senator value most - the elimination of the clauses to which he refers, or the taking over of the Territory ?
– I value most the taking over of the Territory. I think that the elimination of the clauses to which I have referred would in no way endanger the transfer of the Territory to the Commonwealth. In my opinion, the necessities of Australian defence alone will inevitably compel the taking over of the Territory, even without certain conditions contained in the agreement.
– Suppose we cannot have the clauses referred to eliminated from the agreement?
– And honorable senators will not get them eliminated, either.
– I do not think that that position will arise. I do not think that the Federal Parliament is quite prepared to accept the dictum of South Australia, as set out in the agreement referred to. The next item mentioned in the statement is old-age pensions. I am glad to be able to say that, for once, I can congratulate the Government on something. They express a very laudable intention to lower the residential and age conditions governing the payment of old-age pensions. But I do protest that it was scarcely fair for the head of the present Government to say, as he has said, that the payment of old-age pensions was in danger. Apart altogether from party political warfare, there was no reason why such a statement should be made. . I have said that there was no reason, but 1 forgot. There was one reason, and’ that was that every member of the present Government felt that at all hazards he must discredit his immediate predecessor in office-
– Who forced the old-age pensions upon them?
– Forgetting altogether the fact which they could not deny, that had it not been for the presence in this Parliament of Labour members, the aged poor of Australia would not be receiving old-age pensions from the 15th of next month.
– What nonsense.
– New South Wales has been paying old-age pensions, for years.
– In reply to Senator Walker, let me say that New South Wales is not the only State in the Commonwealth. There are six States in the Commonwealth, and I speak, not only as a representative of one State, but also as a representative of the Commonwealth.
– The Labour party are responsible for forcing the question on the Government of New South Wales, also.
– In Victoria, the Oldage Pensions Act was placed on the statute-book at the instigation of the Labour party in this State.
– What, in Victoria?
– I do not wish to be driven by these interjections away from the trend of my arguments. I say emphatically that had it not been for the presence ‘of the Labour party in this Parliament the aged poor of Australia would not receive pensions - small though the amount may be - on the 15th July next.
– That is rubbish.
– With his usual youthful impetuosity Senator Fraser exclaims “ rubbish.!’
– That is too polite a word to describe the honorable senator’s statement.
– When the honorable senator, who is a very good judge of rubbish, next addresses the Senate, I hope that he will embrace the opportunity to justify the assertion which he has made. Senator Walker has stated that old-age pensions are being paid in New South Wales. I know that they have been paid there for some years, and the same remark is applicable to Victoria. But I would remind him that under the Old-age Pensions Act passed by this Parliament, the number of persons who will obtain relief in New South Wales and Victoria - particularly in Victoria - will be very greatly increased. Although New South Wales and Victoria are two great States of the Commonwealth, the honorable senator must recollect that there are four other States in the Federal Union. Surely they must be considered ?
– The Queensland Parliament enacted an old-age pensions scheme about the time that this Parliament dealt with the matter.
– What is the use of a State Legislature passing an Act dealing with the matter, if it does not pay the pensions? The aged poor cannot live upon a statute. They want the wherewithal with which to purchase food, clothing and shelter.
– We will send them copies of Hansard.
– If any man is deserving of credit for the fact that oldage pensions will be paid on the 15th July next, it is the Leader of the Opposition in another place. When the Surplus Revenue Bill was about to be submitted to Parliament by the last Deakin Administration, Mr. Fisher suggested that a portion of the surplus balances which had previously been returned to the States should be devoted to a trust account for the payment of oldage pensions. The Surplus ‘Revenue Bill was considered in due course, and what did we find ? We found honorable senators in this chamber, as well as honorable members in another place, opposing it, notwithstanding that it provided the money with which to pay old-age pensions, and to initiate an effective scheme of, defence. They opposed its passage, notwithstanding that they knew that, if the measure were rejected, old-age pensions could not be paid. As a matter of fact they admitted that upon the floor of the Senate. But when they were on the public platform seeking the suffrages of the people, ‘these e honorable senators declared themselves in favour of a Commonwealth scheme of oldage pensions. As Leader of the Senate at the time, Senator Best was. charged with the duty of piloting the Surplus Revenue Bill through this Chamber, and he had to contend with no stronger opponent of it than the honorable gentleman .who now sits like a cooing dove beside him - Senator Millen - who was also supported by Senator Mulcahy. Since then these gentlemen have united, and they now tell us that the payment of old-age pensions was once in jeopardy. No greater lie was ever manufactured than the statement which was made yesterday-
– The honorable senator is not in order in alluding to any statement made yesterday as a “ lie.”
– I do not wish to run counter to your ruling, sir, but von intervened rather quickly. I did not say where the statement was made.
– I certainly understood the honorable senator to say that the statement was made here, and that it was a “ lie.”
– It could not have been made here, because the Senate was not sitting.
– I am perfectly aware of that, but I took it that the honorable senator alluded to our last day of sitting. Of course, if he assures me that his statement had no reference to anything which has taken place in this Parliament, I shall accept his assurance.
– I say that no greater lie was ever manufactured than the statement which was made yesterday by the Prime Minister, that at some period of this year the payment of old-age pensions was in jeopardy.
– The honorable member is out of order in describing the statement of the Prime Minister as a “ lie.” He may say that the Prime Minister made an incorrect statement, but he must withdraw the expression which he has used.
– I withdraw the word “ He,” and I say that the statement of the Prime Minister was a prevarication.
– That statement is not in order, and the honorable senator must withdraw it.
– Then I withdraw it, and say that the Prime Minister’s assertion was incorrect’. Such a statement could have been made only with an ulterior motive - a desire to damage the reputation of the late Government. It is a reflection upon their integrity. We are also informed in the Ministerial statement of policy that “ legislation will be introduced for the repression of trusts.”
– What about- a political combine?
– The statement to which I have directed attention is a most remarkable one. Is it possible for such legislation to be introduced, seeing that the present Government was conceived in the sanctum of the Employers’ Federation, that it was born in the Grand Hotel, and that it can be kept alive only by the political nourishment which is served up in the columns of the Melbourne daily newspapers ? Yet a Government which has come into existence under such conditions has the temerity to calmly inform us that it intends to introduce legislation for the repression of trusts. In doing so, I think that it has plumbed the depths of ridicule. If such an announcement does not amount to burlesque, I do not know what burlesque means. It is nothing more or less than an insult to the intelligence of honorable senators.
– A new version of The Hypocrites.
– In dealing with trusts, we must recollect that there is a certain gentleman named Walpole. I .believe that he is a member of the Employers’ Federation.
– He is the secretary of that federation.
– A day or two ago the Melbourne Age - and I use the name of that journal with a certain amount of trepidation - under scare headlines, announced that it had discovered a secret plot to oust the present Government. In support of its statement, it published a copy of a circular written by Mr. Walpole, and forwarded to certain members of his organization, in which it was suggested that a meeting should be called for the purpose of formulating a policy for the ensuing elections. In effect, the Age said : “ How dare Mr. Walpole do anything of the kind? Have we not already framed a policy for the Government? We do not want any Walpoles on the job. What we want are wall-flowers.” Anybody who has watched the progress of events at the Seat of Government during the past few weeks must have observed that there are any number -of wall-flowers on the Government benches in the Senate, and in another place.
-Colonel Cameron. - Do not they adorn those benches ?
– They may do so in their own estimation. Upon the question of defence, the Ministerial statement says -
Another group of proposals will be submitted in connexion with the various issues associated with national defence.
Since the present Government took office, they have been guilty of at least two administrative acts which require explanation. Almost their first administrative act was the appointment of a delegate to the Imperial Defence Conference in the person of Colonel Foxton. For that gentleman, personally, I have every respect. But the appointment of Colonel Foxton as the representative of Australia was nothing more or less than a gratuitous insult to the people.
– In what way?
– Because he is anti-Australian.
– I believe it is a fact that Colonel Foxton represents the constituency of Brisbane.
– He is antiAustralian in sentiment, and in every possible way.
– He is antediluvian as well.
– It seems to me that the two words which most readily occur to honorable senators opposite are “bosh” and “sosh.” Why do they not get up in their places, and deliver coherent speeches, instead of making such interjections? The morning after it was announced that Colonel Foxton would be the representative of Australia at the Imperial Conference, the Melbourne Age came out with a leading article of a very strong character. The Age was, in years past in this State, the maker and unmaker of Ministries. It has been attempting to play the same part in Federal affairs. I believe that on the present occasion the Age has been successful in making the Ministry now in office. But the people of Australia will be the unmakers of this Government. In the article to which I refer, the Age, in very strong language, demanded the cancellation of the appointment of Colonel Foxton. It gave reasons which have been buttressed during recent debates in both Chambers of the Legislature, showing that not only was Colonel Foxton anti-Australian in regard to his views on the White Australia question, but that also in a published interview, which was referred to last week by Senator Pearce in his admirable speech, Colonel Foxton had declared himself in favour of an increased subsidy to the Imperial Navy. I say, without the slightest fear of contradiction, that any member of the Australian Parliament who to-day says that he would grant an increased monetary subsidy to the Imperial Navy, does not truly represent the opinions of the Australian public. The leading article in the Age reminded the public that Colonel Foxton was an advocate of black labour, and of an increased Naval subsidy, and was, therefore, by no means the man to go to England to advocate a scheme of Australian defence.
– He has gone back on every alleged principle he ever held.
– I dare say Senator Turley knows Colonel Foxton’s political history better than I do, but I am satisfied that he is not a fitting representative of Australia in the matter of defence. .
– But he has gone, and that settles it.
– The leading article in the Age demanded one of two things : either the cancellation of Colonel Foxton’s appointment, or that he should be accompanied by Senator Pearce. The reasons were stated plainly, that Colonel Foxton was not seized of the opinions of the Australian people on questions of defence, whilst on the other hand Senator Pearce was, and, while Minister of Defence, had effectually carried out Australian national ideas. But although Colonel Foxton has gone to England, we find that he is not to be intrusted with those powers which usually attach to a plenipotentiary. He is to keep in constant communication with the Ministerial caucus. Colonel Foxton dare not give one vote at the Conference without the sanction bv cable of the combination who occupy the Ministerial benches.
– He is quite harmless as long as he is well tied up.
– But these are the people who say that Labour members are gagged, tied hand and foot, so that they dare not use their freedom of action in this Parliament. This man who has gone Home as the representative of the Australian Government dare not give a vote unless he has his ear to the telephone in connexion with the cable to Australia, so that the Government can tell him how to vote.
– There is no similarity between the two cases.
– Why not?
– The honorable senator’s common sense ought to tell him that there is not.
– I say that there is. On the one hand, we come here as the representatives of the people.
– Bound down by a machine.
– We come with a policy that we explained on the public plat form before being elected. We said to the people that, if elected, we would endeavour to carry out that policy in legislative form. We go further, and sign a promise to adhere to the platform. On the other hand, Colonel Foxton has gone Home as the representative of the Government with an alleged Australian defence policy. Why should not Colonel Foxton be free to speak and vote at the Conference as the representative of the Government without having to keep in constant touch with the Ministry, who will tell him what he is to do? If he is not caucus-ridden and caucus-bound, I do not know who is. It strikes me that the Government were forced to send an irresponsible person to England on this mission. The Minister of Defence dare not go. He dare not leave Mr. Deakin by himself. Mr. Deakin could not go Home and leave Mr. Joseph Cook in charge. The only alleged military gentleman in the combination was Colonel Foxton. Hence Australia is sacrificed. What was the matter with Senator Cameron? Why did not the Government send him ? . He is a proved soldier, who knows more about defence than any member of the present Government.
– Would honorablesenators opposite have given Senator Cameron a pair if he had been sent Home?
– I am not dealing with the question of pairs, but with Australian defence. Did Colonel Foxton get a pair?
– -No. 0
– Could not Senator Cameron have gone to England under the same conditions ? The next administrative act of this Government was the offer to Great Britain of a Dreadnought, or something equivalent. A few days ago, the Labour Government were chided with the fact that they had gone behind theback of Parliament by ordering the construction of torpedo boats for Australian defence. The present Government havegone behind the back of Parliament in committing Australia to the expenditure of ^2,000,000.
– The Government cannot spend one penny unless Parliamentapproves of it.
– I will deal with one or two phases of this question. Parliament determined, per medium of theSurplus Revenue Act, to place a certain sum of money in a trust fund for the- purpose of meeting the claims of Australian defence.
– Which money was not to be spent until the details were furnished to Parliament.
– There is not a word in the Act which says so.
– Words of honour, surely, ought to count for something.
– When the Bill came before Parliament, it was stated that it was for a certain purpose. The object for which the Trust Fund was created was explained. Parliament agreed to the construction of the fund ; and, simply because Senator Best, who was then leader of the Senate, made the promise that the money would not be spent until Parliament agreed-
– That promise was only made to individuals.
– I have already said, when speaking on the AddressinReply, that Senator Best’s promise, as Vice-President of the Executive Council, was made in reply to a question by an individual senator, and could not bind the Parliament or any succeeding Government.
– The. promise was not made in reply to an individual question. It was something acquiesced in by the Senate and by the other House.
– Where is the record?
– It was a reply to an interjection.
– I challenge Senator Best to prove that the Senate by a resolution agreed to any such understanding. The honorable senator cannot do it. He wishes, however, to convey an imputation that is not fair.
– If we had . broken that agreement, something would have been said.
– I say that Parliament did not demand that promise.
– Is it not a fact that the Bill would not have been carried unless that promise had been made?
– There is no fact about it. Senator Best was asked a question, and said that the money would not be spent until Parliament had been consulted. Such a statement as that does not, and cannot, bind the Parliament or succeeding Government.
– The honorable senator has not answered Senator Trenwith’s question.
– I have. I said that he could not be sure that the Bill would not have been passed otherwise.
– The Bill could not have been got through the other Chamber without the promise.
– That is only an assumption.
– I do not think that the government of a country, .or the affairs of a Parliament can be carried on by assumptions. What we want are facts, and I invite Ministers, when they reply to me, to contradict successfully my statement. What have the Government done in connexion with the offer of a Dreadnought? Behind the back of Parliament, they have committed the country to the construction and presentation of a Dreadnought, or some alternative, which may be acceptable to the Imperial naval authorities. Suppose that the offer of a ship had been accepted right out, without regard to an alternative. It would have been built in a British ship-building yard, the material would have been procured from Great Britain or some other country, the workmen employed upon the construction would have been British, and the money would have been spent there. Of course, I would rather see my fellow countrymen employed than foreigners ; but it is a strange thing that the only Australian, Mr. Deakin - the man who is preaching the doctrine of a self-reliant Australia, the necessity of encouraging and developing our industries and resources - should be the one to say to the Old . Country, “Here is a gift of ,£2,000,000. Spend the money in England while our workmen in Australia are allowed almost to starve.” Now, where is the money for this purpose to come from ? . When .1 was speaking on a former occasion, Senator Best interjected, “ You are not too sure as to whether we will borrow the money or not.”
– I said, “ Don’t be too sure.”
– It was a tribute to the late Labour Government, that they received from persons in Australia, an offer of money at per cent. par. That did not look anything like a want of confidence or the withdrawal of capital because Labour men were in power. On a previous occasion, Senator Best said “ Don’t be too sure that we will have to borrow the money.” If the Commonwealth does not borrow the money, where is it to come from, I ask him?
– Do not be in a hurry.
– He is relying upon the Mother Country not wanting the equivalent of a Dreadnought
– I do not think it is wise for me to be in a hurry in connexion with this policy. There is only one other way in which the money can be obtained without resort to borrowing, and that is by asking the States to forego a certain proportion of the money returnable to them. If they assent to the request, good and well. But it will be a very strange thing to me if they agree to the proposal, considering that only a month or two ago, they raised a hue and cry that the Commonwealth was robbing them by the enactment of the Surplus Revenue Bill. Again, if they agree to the proposal, they will be robbing their taxpayers. No matter how the proposal is looked at, it means that the Australian taxpayer will have to pay the piper, while somebody else calls the tune.
– There were only two State Premiers who agreed to the proposal, namely, the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria.
– Yes. The people in the various States, who were carried away by this hysterical wave, were asked to subscribe to a Dreadnought fund. I know what was done in Western Australia. A big meeting was held in the Town Hall, and a,n overflow meeting outside; a subscription list was started in the newspaper; and a proof of the loyalty of the people of the State in that direction was given, to the amount of £50.
– The meeting in the Town Hall carried an amendment against the offer of a Dreadnought.
– My honorable friend reminds me of the fact that although the Town Hall was crowded to its utmost capacity, an amendment was carried against the motion submitted.
– Who says that? Did not the Mayor declare the. amendment lost? That isa detail, of course.
– The press of Western Australia said that the amendment was carried, and that the Mayor, carried away by the hysterical wave, was anxious to get his motion put through anyhow. I do not want to labour the question. . I do not know what the alternative to a Dreadnought is, and as a member of this Parliament, I desire to know.
– I wonder how the construction of a dock at Fremantle would suit the honorable senator.
– A dock is being constructed at that port, and I am not so parochial minded as is my honorable friend. I know that docks may be provided anywhere so long as he is a Minister of the Crown. That is about the extent of his anxiety. I do not, I repeat, know what the alternative, to a Dreadnought is. This Government will not let the Parliament or the people of Australia know what it is until the Imperial Defence Conference has finished its labours. What does that mean ? It means that despite all the statements which have been made by Mr. Deakin and Senator Best, that they had a scheme of Australian defence, until the Defence Conference has decided what the scheme should be they will not tell our people. If the Government had a scheme of defence they would have said to their delegate, “Go to the Conference and state what our scheme is, and if they will not agree with it, come back and we will deal with the matter ourselves.” I wonder whether the Government are prepared to test the feeling of Parliament on this question of presenting to the Old Country a Dreadnought or an alternative. Will they dare to go to a division ? I do not think that they will. I believe that if they had the courage of their convictions, and came down with a message from His Excellency recommending that a certain sum be appropriated for the presentation of a. Dreadnought or the building of a dock on some portion of the Australian coast, as a naval base, they would be successful in carrying it through so far as numbers were concerned, but the trouble would be that the division list would mean the political extinction of some of their supporters. For that reason they are afraid to take the opinion of the Parliament. They prefer to wait until their delegate, or alleged delegate, has returned from London, and then the life of this Parliament will have expired by effluxion , of time, and the question of the promise of a Dreadnought or some other alternative, will be kept for the platform in those constituencies where they think that it might be suitable, and if it is not suitable we shall hear nothing about a Dreadnought from the platform.
– The honorable senator thinks that it is a trump card for the platform.
– The honorable senator knows how to play a trump card”. He played his trump card when he got on to the Treasury bench. He knows well how to get there.
– That is a sore point with the honorable senator.
– I think that the Labour party are now in their proper place, and that is in opposition. We attained our present numerical strength by reason of our militancy, and I do not want the party to return to the Treasury benches again until we ha.ve a sufficient number to carry on the government of the country without depending upon the treacherous or questionable support of gentlemen such as Senator Best and Mr. Deakin.
– The honorable senator is unkind.
– Anyhow we would not eat dirt for the sake of holding office.
– Hear, hear.
– We went out of office honorably, and we did not go into office dishonorably, as honorable senators on the other side have done.
– We did not sacrifice our principles on either occasion.
– I hold in my hand a report by the Director of Naval Forces, which is in reply to another document on Australian defence. On page n it contains this paragraph -
The work required of an Australian service is purely Australian defence against raiders that may escape the British fleet not, as is so commonly believed, engagement with a naval power that has already overcome the British Navy.
That I think is a most remarkable paragraph, to find in a report of this nature. Evidently the Director of Naval Forces is under the impression that sooner or later Great Britain may lose the supremacy of the seas. He may be right in his deduction, but I hope that that day will never arrive. In view of that paragraph, however, why should we be concentrating our efforts and energies on the presentation of a Dreadnought? Why should we not confine our energies to the building up of a local defence, which in a national emergency would be a valuable adjunct to protect our £170,000,000 worth of sea-borne commerce between Great Britain and Australia?
– Does not: the honorable senator think that it would* be rather a good move to assist in presenting such a catastrophe from happening ?
– I think that theprovision of local forces would be a better way to prevent such a catastrophe from happening, than ‘ the presentation of a Dreadnought. I am buttressed in that opinion by a statement made by Lord Charles Beresford.
– Does .the honorablesenator mean the statement which appeared in yesterday’s newspapers as coming from Lord Charles Beresford in favour of cruisers ?
– My honorablefriend, with his usual impetuosity, is a little in advance of himself. I refer to the statement made by Lord Charles Beresford, that for the effective defence by sea of any country, Dreadnoughts were a thing; of the past.
– Lord Charles Beresford never said that.
– He did say that if the British Navy were defeated then it would be “ Good night “ for the Empire.
– I am not going to enter into a personal controversy with Senator Millen, but when the honorable senator speaks in reply to this debate, let him prove my statement wrong, if he can. In the Ministerial statement, I notice *a reference made to the telephone service. We are aware that the present PostmasterGeneral was not very long in yielding to the clamour of the Employers’ Federation to suspend the scale of charges for the use of telephones, drawn up by his predecessor.
– What a wicked body the Employers’ Federation must be.
– I do not say so. I do not think that they are a wicked body. I believe that they ale legitimately employed in looking after their own interests.
– I draw attention to the state of the Senate. Quorum formed.’]
– 1 am sorry that honorable senators opposite will not keep a quorum, but I have no control over them.
– It is the honorable senator’s friends who have deserted him.
– I do not think so. It is not the duty of my friends to keep a quorum.
– It is their duty to be here.
– It was the duty of Senator Millen’s friends to be here the other day, when their private business kept them away.
– It ought to be the pleasure of Senator Needham’s friends to listen to him.
– It should have been Senator Pulsford’s pleasure, as well as his duty, to be here a week ago. Instead of attending to his private business in New South Wales, he should have been here to look after the public business, for which he is being paid. When interrupted, 1 was referring to the question of telephone charges. I said that Sir John Quick was not long in yielding to the representations of the Employers’ Federation in connexion with the scale of charges proposed by Mr. Thomas, the late Postmaster-General. Those charges might, or might not, have been too high, but there is no doubt that they were framed with a desire to compel the larger users of the telephone to pay the larger amount. It is not fair that the private user of the telephone should be called upon to pay as much for the service as the commercial user, especially in view of the fact that in these days of keen competition the telephone is of such great assistance to the business man.
– The small user of the telephone would, under the late Government’s proposal, have to pay more per call than the large user.
– That is not so.
– I say that the scale of charges drawn up by Mr. Thomas would not have made the small user pay more than the large user. It was an endeavour to adjust the scale of charges, and would have resulted in the man who made most use of the telephone having to pay most for it.
– It was a charge according to services rendered.
– As Senator Pearce suggests, it was an attempt to secure an equitable payment for services rendered.
– The whole point was that there was no information in the Department to determine what was a fair charge to make. Mr. Thomas proposed to fix the charges first, and make the inquiry afterwards. This Government proposes to inquire first and fix the charges afterwards.
– There was full information before the Cabinet; and Senator Millen must be aware of that.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
- Senator Millen’s statement is a . reflection on the officers of the Department. While in office, the honorable senator will have to depend on the assistance of the officers whom he is now reviling. Mention is made in the Ministerial statement of the Navigation Bill. I hope that it will be pressed on with, and that no more delay will arise in the passing of that very important measure.
– Hear, hear !
– I hope that the honorable senator who says “Hear, hear” will give proof of his sincerity by proceeding with the Bill as early as possible. There are one or two other matters referred to in the Ministerial statement to which I might refer ; but I have no wish to occupy the time of the Senate unnecessarily. 1 might refer to the financial proposals of the Government, and particularly to their proposal to float a loan. I dare say that the Government will shortly ask this Parliament to borrow money in Australia, or somewhere else, for improving our postal facilities.
– To do business on business lines.
– To borrow money to-day, and allow a future generation to repay it. If I were to borrow money to-day and permit some one else thirty years hence to repay it, that would be a business transaction on business lines. But it is not the kind of business that 1, or the party of which I am a member, go in for. It is, however, the kind of business that the present combination party are going in for, and that many of them in the past did go in for in the various States, with the result that to-day Australia has a national debt hanging over her which she never would have had if there had been effective opposition to this policy on business lines. This is the kind of business policy which has been strangling Australia until now, and honorable senators opposite desire to draw the cord tighter around the necks of the people of Australia by borrowing more money. I need not further discuss the statement introduced by the present Government, any more than to saythat it is not worth the paper that it is written on. I fail to’ see how the present Government can hope to regulate or suppress trusts, or any other evil which at the present time is menacing the interests of Australia, whilst they are bound hand and foot by the Employers’ Federation, who are responsible for their presence on the Treasury benches.
– When I gaze on the benches in front of me, and note the occupants of them, I ask myself, in the words of Bret Harte -
Do I sleep? Do I dream?
Do I wander and doubt?
Are things what they seem,
Or is visions about?
It seems but yesterday that many of the present occupants of the Ministerial benches were on this side of the House. It seems but yesterday that those honorable senators tried, by every known device, to emasculate the Tariff, to strangle existing industries, and to refuse, absolutely and definitely, the giving of any assistance with a view to the creation of new industries in any part of Australia. It seems but yesterday since every opportunity they had was availed of to oppose everything of a national character. But a change has come over the scene, and it has been brought about mainly, we are told, by one or two honorable gentlemen sitting on the opposite side. There was, not long ago, a mighty army of Liberals sitting there - a trinity who claimed the kudos for all the advanced legislation at present on the national statute-book. The trinity were Senators Best, Keating, and Trenwith. Senator Best has all the characteristics of his chief, the Prime Minister. He has an intense lust for power. He has an insatiable appetite. When out of office, disappointment, dyspepsia, and despair are written largely on his face. Nothing will appease the honorable senator’s hunger but the Ministerial nose-bag, and as soon as he gets his nose inside of that bag it does not matter whether it contains Protectionist oats, Free Trade chaff, or anti-sosh carrots, he partakes of all with avidity, a complete change comes over his countenance, and for the moment he appears to be happy. Then there is Senator Keating, who, I am sorry, is not present. We know that he looks anything but happy. The honorable senator was at one time the hope of Tasmania, so far as Liberalism is concerned. When the present Prime Minister journeyed to that island State some time ago, one of the first to greet him was Senator Keating. With that honorable senator the Prime Minister, we were told by a certain newspaper, had a triumphal march from one end of the State to the other. Various meetings were addressed by the Prime Minister, and it was said that there was an awakening and revival of Liberalism, and that the next elections in the island State would show unmistakably the results of Mr. Deakin’s mission to Tasmania. The elections took place very shortly after, and we had an opportunity to read in the great organ of the National Liberal party - the Argus - because that newspaper is now the organ of the National Liberal party., and helped to bring about the combination-
SenatorFraser. - Both the Age and the Argus are now the organs of the party.
– No, there is only one newspaper that is the organ of the National Liberal party, and that is the newspaper that brought it into existence, and is mainly responsible for it. The other newspaperref erred to follows the lead of the great National Liberal organ - the Argus. That newspaper gave us the results of the elections in Tasmania. The Argus said -
The results of the elections were as follows :
Anti-Labour,18 ; Liberals or Deakinites, o ; Labour, 12.
I called the attention of one of my friends of the Labour party to this statement of the results. He had been over there assisting candidates at the election and he said that the Argus report was scarcely correct, because the anti-Laborites returned numbered seventeen, and that the Deakinite Liberals secured the return of one candidate named Rattle, whilst three other Deakinite condidates lost their deposits. So that what we read in the newpapers was really the result of the imaginative mind of the pressman- who accompanied Mr. Deakin on his trip. Senator Keating, I expect, played his part in connexion with the fusion of parties which recently took place in this Parliament. Consequestly I watched his. face prior to the formation of the Government with some interest. Hope was written largely upon it. “Two members,” he doubtless said to himself, “ are required in this chamber. Senator Best has had a long innings, and surely the claims of Tasmania cannot be overlooked, especially in view of the part which I played in assisting to make the visit of Mr. Deakin to that State the success which it is alleged to have been.”
– Surely he did not accompany the Prime Minister with that object in view.
– I am not alleging that he did. But what a change has come over Senator Keating since the Cabinet was formed. In his splendid isolation he is mute and disappointed.
– Where is be?
– I know where he usually sits, and in imagination I am picturing him. The atmosphere which he is now inhaling has had a very marked effect upon him. At the last general election, Senator Keating stood quite distinct from other parties as a Liberal candidate. The Labour party put forward two candidates -
– It was very clever.
– No, had it been clever it would have put forward three candidates, and had it done so, Senator Keating would not be a member of the Senate to-day. The Labour party put forward only two candidates and the anti- Socialist brigade nominated three. The candidates who were opposed to the party represented by Senator Keating, and to the Labour party, made it manifest that they favoured widely different thing’s in regard to a national policy. Will the electors of Tas- mania believe for a moment that Senators Keating, Mulcahy, Dobson, Clemons, and Macfarlane are to-day members of the new Liberal party, that they all advocate the same principles, and are desirous of achieving the same end ?
– Who says that they are?
– We have been informed by the daily newspapers, and by the members of the present Government, that the members of the fused party are a united and happy family, and that they all subscribe to the one policy.
– Such a statement has never been made in the press.
– Then honorable senators opposite are not united, but are merely hanging together.
– The honorable senator will find out in good time.
– I think I shall. I never believed that honorable senators holding such diverse views could come together for any length of time, or for any good purposed Then there is Senator Trenwith. He has been a consistent opponent of land monopoly. If he is so still, I would remind him that he is sitting side by side with the champions- of industrial monopoly, and with the strongest advocates of earth monopoly to be found in any Parliament in Australia.. There are a couple of honorable senators to whom I wish briefly to refer. For a long time one of them exercised himself in endeavouring to educate the women of Australia upon the question of “ National Assism.” I refer to Senator Dobson.
– He is a fallen idol now.
– Exactly. I do not know why the ladies do not now extend to him the invitations which formerly came his way. Evidently they have discovered that his political views are not palatable to them. However, the fusion party has discovered a new political Adonis in the person of Senator St. Ledger. Whenever the ladies of a certain political organization in Victoria require a speaker they need only send a post card or a telephone message to Senator St. Ledger, and his services are at their disposal. The honorable senator will discourse upon any subject under the sun. Possibly he tells the women whom he addresses that the Labour party desire higher wages and shorter hours, and a number of other reforms which will mean disaster to the common weal. Senators St. Ledger, Fraser, Vardon, Gray, and Walker-
– The honorable senator is naming the best men in the Senate.
– I am naming the gentlemen who during the whole of their political careers have been known as Conservatives, who are opposed to everything of a progressive character, who belong to the mark-time party, and who have never done anything for Australia, unless there was a force behind them to quick march them into action.
– Does the honorable senator belong to the monarchical party or to any other party ?
– I belong to the Labour party, which makes its platform known from one end. of Australia to the other, and which has not the assistance of the great daily newspapers in any of the capitals. But, despite the fact that it has no powerful financial institution at its back it is the only party in the national Parliament whose numbers have increased with the passing years.
– It is a pity that the honorable senator does not talk national politics.
– My honorable friend has been talking what he regards as national politics for some time. He, too, played his part in the bringing about of the recent fusion, and for so doing has been rewarded with the position of Government Whip. Now that he has got that office, no doubt he is happy. But I do not think that the position will last very long.
– The honorable senator is unhappy.
– I do not think that any honorable senators upon this side of the chamber are unhappy on account of recent events. They are annoyed at the absolute want of principle which has been exhibited by honorable senators opposite. There has been an absolute abandonment of principle on their part, as well as a violation of the pledges which they made upon the hustings.
– Little things like that annoy the honorable senator.
– And what annoys me, frequently annoys the great majority of the electors of the Commonwealth. Had a dissolution been granted a few weeks ago, I venture to say that some of those who were most prominent in the recent fusion negotiations would not have been returned to this Parliament. The Ministerial statement of policy contains many promises. It is full of vague generalities ; but it contains nothing of a substantial character, so far as the masses of the people are concerned. I even doubt whether it will be printed, because the motion for its printing has yet to be carried. For some few weeks prior to the recent fusion of political parties, the Age newspaper watched the course of events very closely, and it was much alarmed when it realized that the proposed amalgamation was likely to take a definite shape. On the 18th March last, it wrote -
This hankering for the suppression of all but two parties is really a desire to suppress the intellectual life of the people. There is no room in two parties for many men to develop the best that is in them. A union between Mr. Joseph Cook and Mr. Deakin would mean the political emasculation of tens of thousands of men who might be constrained to become the followers of one or other of them. Who cannot see that yoking together two such men as Mr. Wise and Mr. W. H. Irvine would suppress in both all that should distinguish each ? And the injury that such suppression does to the individual is carried along into all the ramifications of the political life of the country.
We are now asked to believe that Mr. W. H. Irvine, who has been denounced by this very newspaper, who has even been denounced by members of the so-called Liberal party, as a Conservative and reactionary, has changed his political opinions, and that he is as anxious as are other honorable members to give effect, for example, to a scheme of new Protection. We all know the part which he played when the Tariff was under consideration. At the last election, he was returned as a Protectionist. In the House of Representatives, 287 divisions took place upon the Tariff proposals of the last Deakin Government. Upon 82 occasions Mr. Irvine voted against the Government duty, he paired against it upon 28 occasions, and he neither paired nor voted 108 times. In other words, he was against effective Protection 218 times. He voted for the Government duty only 50 times, and paired in favour of it 19 times. The Age article continues -
He stands for everything which the capitalist holds dear and which the toiler detests. While drawing his own parliamentary salary, and shirking the work attached to it, he will still leave the States in possession of the power they abuse, to the encouragement of the sweater. And this is the type of politician with whom the Liberal party is asked to form a permanent and efficient junction. There is satire in the very suggestion. If there be, as Conservatism alleges, something immoral in the past agreement between Labour and Liberalism, by means of which each has gained the maximum of what it desired to achieve, what can be said of .the suggestion that Reactionaries, like the man we have described, shall join with a party of progress in order to carry on Government by a manipulated majority ? The repulsiveness of such a compact stands out in its native ugliness when put under the searchlight, and it ought to make every good Liberal scout it as he would the introduction of the plague.
There is not the slightest doubt that the majority behind the Government is “a manipulated majority.” How the manipulation was worked time will show. This Mr. Irvine, when Premier of the State of Victoria, was known as “ Coercion Irvine.” He introduced in the Legislative Assembly a Strike Suppression Bill, some of the provisions of which would disgrace even Russia. He also emasculated our Factories Act. It will be within the knowledge of honorable senators that a Factories Act, embodying many beneficent principles, was passed by the State Parliament some years ago. That Act enabled Wages Boards to be created. They were composed of an equal number of employers and employes with an independent chairman. The Boards met and discussed questions pertaining to the trades for which they were appointed. After a Board had discussed various phases a determination was arrived at which, was published in the Government Gazette. That determination fixed hours of labour, rates of pay, and1 the number of apprentices to be employed. When Mr. Irvine was Premier he caused the Act to be amended, so that the determination of a Wages Board had to be carried by a seven- tenths majority, and the chairman had no say in the decision. That is to say, a Board composed of five employers and five employes, presided over by a chairman, could not arrive at a. decision by a simple majority ; but either two employers or two employes had to change their views before a determination could be arrived at. The absurdity of the thing was so manifest that not long afterwards the provision was repealed. Again, the original Act gave power for its provisions to be extended to shires. Mr. Irvine amended it so as to permit an unlimited number of apprentices to be employed, and so as to take away the power of extension to shires. He also permitted apprentices over the age of twenty-one to be employed. What was more, his amending Act allowed a final appeal to an Appeal Court. Under- the original Act the determination of the Board was final t-nd absolute. The amendment, carried at the instigation of Mr. Irvine, as the result of giving appeal to a Court, had the effect of removing one of the best provisions from the original measure, and in some cases made it impossible for unions which were not finan-dally strong to carry their cases to Court. Another matter of the highest importance to the workers was that the Appeal Court was bound by a provision in the Irvine amending Act, permitting the Court to fix the wages at the rates paid by “ reputable “ employers. We know that in one industry the ‘ 1 most reputable ‘ ‘ employer was found to be paying only 36s. per week. The Court fixed that rate as the wage to be paid to those employed in the industry. We are asked to believe that from such men as Mr. . Irvine the workers are likely to get a measure of new Protection that will be of advantage to them. Mr. Fairbairn is another member of this fusion party. He is the president of the Employers’ Federation, which body, of course, strongly supports the present Government. A short while ago Mr. Fairbairn was welcoming a British manufacturer to one of the gatherings of the Employers’ Federation, and he made use of these significant words -
Although they understood that the present Wages Boards had modified sweating in certain trades where women were largely employed they did not believe in the principle of wages being fixed by Act of Parliament, and only accepted the Wages Boards as the lesser evil of several proposed panaceas for the settlement of industrial strife.
That is clear and unmistakable language. Mr. Fairbairn and those who think with him only accept Wages Boards as a lesser evil, and if he had his way he would sweep away Wages Boards altogether.
– The honorable senator’s party has been against Wages Boards in New South Wales.
– Our party brought Wages Boards into existence in’ this State.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. His party had nothing to do with the matter.
– There, is not a Statute of any importance in operation in any part of the world operating for the good of the workers that has not been brought into existence by force. It is force that moves the average politician, and the average Government. The Victorian Government was forced to pass the Factories Act by public opinion.
– That is not the Labour party.
– Public opinion was created largely by the industrial organizations of this State, which spent thousands of pounds in the engagement of halls, the publication of addresses, newspaper articles, and lecturing, with the object of focussing and arousing public opinion on the evils of sweating. Through the means of the agitation thus created the Factories Act was passed. Pressure was brought to bear upon Parliament.
– Will the honorable senator be kind enough to give us any record of a suggestion for the creation of Wages Boards prior to the occasion on which the Government of which I was a member brought in their proposal ? Does he know of any suggestion from the Labour party? Can he mention a single instance?
– In Victoria, some years ago, there was acute poverty and sweating of the worst kind. A Royal Commission was appointed in consequence of statements made in pulpits and on public platforms. It was stated that in some cases women had to sell their bodies out of sheer necessity because of the inadequate wages they were receiving in certain factories. In consequence of this searchlight having been thrown upon the subject, ‘ a Royal Commission was appointed , and after it had completed its labours a Factories Act was introduced. But if I remember rightly, Sir Alexander Peacock said that the Factories
Act which he submitted to Parliament was only intended to apply to those cases affecting women workers where absolute Sweating was shown to exist. Sir Alexander Peacock was at the inception an Opponent of a comprehensive measure.
– The Trades Hall Council, through its special Committees appointed from time to time, and by means of its organization, was mainly instrumental in securing the passing of the Victorian Factories Act.
– Eighty per cent, of the members of the unions in New South Wales have come in under the Wages Boards, although the Political Labour party moved heaven and earth to prevent them.
– Because there are certain provisions in the New South Wales Act which are not acceptable to the trade unions party.
– Will the honorable senator allow me to ask him whether he can think of anything on earth, or above the earth, or under the earth, for which the Labour party does not claim credit?
– I do not know of anything on the statute-book, which is of any value, that has not been placed there by the support of the Labour party. The Deakin party in this Senate which numbered three, has the audacity to claim that they placed on the statute-book the Tariff which is in operation to-day.
– Did the Labour partv put it there?
– Did the trinity put it there?
– Through whose support ?
– Certainly not the support of . the whole of the Labour party.
– Through the support of the Labour party, the Tariff was passed.
– The Protectionist members of it.
– I do not know of any member of the Labour party who did not vote for protective duties, because even Senator Pearce, recognising that the majority of the citizens of this country had approved of a protective policy, voted for protective duties.
– How about rock drills and reciprocating engines?
– The honorable senator can pick out one or two items, but one swallow does not make a summer. Taking the Tariff as a whole, whatever Protection there is in it was secured by the members of the Labour party. Some of the prominent fusionists not only opposed the Tariff, but stayed here hour after hour to “ stone- wall “ it. The Deakin partv claim that they passed the Old-age Pensions Act. The facts are, as partly related by Senator Needham, that Mr. Frazer, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, some time back asked Mr. Deakin in the House of Representatives when old-age pensions were likely to become operative. He replied by saying that it would depend upon the Premiers’ Conference at Hobart. Then Mr. Frazer said : “ If there is no agreement between the Premiers at Hobart, are we to understand that old-age pensions will not be operative until the expiration of the Braddon blot’ in 1910?” Mr. Deakin said: “I am afraid that is so.” Those remarks can be found in Hansard. So that had it not been for the Labour party, old-age pensions would not have been payable until 19 10. Mr. Fisher pointed out means whereby the nucleus of a fund could.be created at once, and, therefore, all credit is due, not to the Deakin Government, but to the Labour party, for having pointed out how the pensions could be made payable.
– Could they have carried their proposal without the aid of the Deakin Government?
– Yes; because, so far as I can remember, there was not a single opponent in either House when the measure was brought forward.
– But I am referring to that session.
– I do not know of a single opponent at that time. All opposition seemed to have disappeared. Certainly, they opposed the principle that the surplus revenue should not be paid into a fund for the payment of old-age pensions. When the Fisher Government was in power, extreme anxiety was manifested by certain members of the Opposition that Parliament should be convened as speedily as possible. The Government arranged that it should meet about a month earlier than had been the practice with previous Governments. But that would not satisfy these honorable members. They were determined that Parliament should be called together immediately tlie round-robin was sent to Mr.
Fisher at Gympie. In fact, they said, “ We want work; work we must have; we are uneasy and unhappy when we are out of harness.” But as evidence of insincerity and hollowness, we find that as soon as ever Parliament is called together the Government have to send special wires to bring certain honorable senators here to attend to their duties. Why were they anxious to get Parliament to meet so much earlier than is customary ?
– Some of them have not turned up yet.
– And that applies to some members of the Labour party
– Senator Best, prior to the submission of the round-robin to Mr. Fisher, made a special ‘trip to Western Australia to interview Sir John Forrest. At Perth he was interviewed by a newspaper reporter, and he told us plainly that the Labour party would have to quit the Treasury benches. He had not been out of office a day or two before he made that statement.
– Will the honorable member just read what I said?
– The honorable senator said, as Mr. Joseph Cook said more cold-bloodedly, “ It does not matter what their policy or their programme may; be; they have no right to be in office; and I arn determined that they shall be shifted.”
– Senator Best made that determination when the Deakin Government got notice to quit.
– Yes, as soon as that notice was given, he determined that the new Government should not reign long if he could help it ; hence his journey to Western Australia, his many journeys from Parliament House to the Grand Hotel, and vice versa, and his journeys to Sydney to enter into negotiations with Mr. Joseph Cook and Sir John Forrest. Was he then acting with the authority of Senators Keating and Trenwith, because we understood that it was a united party, or was he acting of his own volition? Surely such negotiations are not entered into without the members of the party being consulted?
– But they did not have a caucus.
– We were informed through the press, when the fusion was assuming a more concrete form, that a caucus meeting was held. It was attended by all the members of the Deakin party, including Senators Trenwith, Keating, and Best, and so pathetic, I believe, were the scenes-, that rivulets of tears were shed over the proposal that there should be a parting of the ways, that this united party should be rent asunder. Some of them joined the fusion very reluctantly.
– Did the honorable senator see the tears running under the door ?
– It is common talk about the building that more than one at the caucus shed tears.
– On the honorable senator’s side.
– No ; if we believe that a thing is wrong, we do not do it, and if it is right there is no occasion to shed tears. We do not know what influences were at work. However, very sad and pathetic scenes took place at that historic gathering. It was not a united caucus at all, because there was a division of opinion. That has been marked in another Chamber since then, and it will be more marked, I am sanguine, after a general election has been held. In their anxiety to get Parliament convened and to work, they started sky-rocketing. They said that the Empire was in danger, that battleships were being built as rapidly by Germany as by England, in order to overthrow the latter’s supremacy of the seas, that it was imperatively necessary that a Dreadnought should be given to the Mother Country by the Commonwealth Parliament, and that if the Fisher Government did not offer the gift, it should not be allowed to live, that a censure motion would be tabled, and that those who were behind the movement knew that there would be an overwhelming majority in favour of the proposed gift. What has happened to the movement? We know what has happened to it, because it never had any existence outside of two States in the Union. It was never seriously discussed in some parts of Australia. I venture to say that, with the exception of Victoria and New South Wales, you would not get ten persons out of 100 in a State to approve of it. You would not get a tenth of the population of this State to approve of the proposal.
– Not one out of a hundred in South Australia.
– When Senator Pearce was speaking the other night, and dealing particularly with defence, he said that Senator Neild had stated that the newspapers of Australia were unanimously in favour of the proposal. He showed, in reply, that in South Australia that was not the case. Extracts from various newspapers published in different States could be read, if it was thought necessary, to confirm his statement; but in South Australia, as Senator W. Russell has stated, the great bulk of the people are just as strongly opposed to the proposal as are some people in Victoria. There is not a newspaper in South Australia which favours it. Adelaide has the Register, the Advertiser, one or two evening newspapers, and several weeklies,, but not one newspaper in the State approves of this proposal. The Register, as Senator Vardon knows, is a Conservative organ.
– That is news to me.
– In South Australia, there are two modern dailies - the Advertiser and the Register.
– The Register is a Liberal newspaper, and the other is a nondescript.
– The Advertiser I have always understood, and I have had opportunities of perusing its columns, to be. a. Liberal organ, and the Register essentially a Conservative newspaper.
– Senator Vardon means Liberal, as it is now interpreted.
– I mean true Liberalism.
– The honorable senator has in his mind the new interpretation of Conservatism. Amongst other things, the Register of the 8th June says -
The attempt to spread the Dreadnought panic in Australia failed dismally, as it deserved to fail among sensible and patriotic people.
– That is a very good thing for it to say.
– Does the honorable senator approve of it?
– I am glad to hear that. Probably we shall yet find out who are in favour of giving a Dreadnought and who are not.
– The honorable senator will admit now that the Register is a Liberal newspaper?
– I am very glad to have an admission from the honorable senator that he is not in favour of the Dreadnought proposal. The Register continues -
In South Australia the movement ceased almost as soon as it started - indeed, it hardly started at all. A similar remark applied to all the other States except New South Wales and Victoria, wher.e a few ill-balanced folk strove desperately to arouse enthusiasm, but failed unquestionably and emphatically. Australians absolutely refused to be goaded into’ a frenzy to please a score or two of excitable feather-headed folk.
That is what the Register thinks of those who- initiated this movement.
– The honorable senator will think a lot more of this newspaper now, will he not?
– On that question it expresses the opinion of a majority of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
– That is only a sampleof its wisdom.
– It is wise at the present time, anyhow. In regard to thisquestion, it goes on to say that the policy of the Fisher Government reflected the opinions of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator take- any other politics fi om this source?
– No; but I want to know what politics Senator Best believes in at the present time. Is he in favour of giving a Dreadnought, or against it?
– Read the newspaper.
– At one time the honorable senator was very anxious to have a vote taken on the Dreadnought proposal > but as soon as he got into office again that matter did not worry him any more. The only vote he really was concerned about then was a vote to displace the Labour Government, and restore him to the position of a Cabinet Minister. I know what forces are behind this fusion. There is no doubt that newspaperdom is behind it.. There has been a fusion of political parties, and a fusion of newspapers throughout Australia. There are only two parties now inpolitics - Labour and anti-Labour.
– What about Sir William Lyne?-
– Six William Lyne is not anti-Labour. Although he is not a member of the Labour party, I venture to say that his attitude meets with the hearty approbation of thousands of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
– Of course it does ; and with the disapprobation of many more thousands.
– No, of very few indeed; because, if there is one thing of which the citizens generally approve, it is that a man occupying a public position should be consistent and true to his pledges.
Sir William Lyne has been faithful and true to his election pledges and promises. He was returned as a Liberal and Protectionist, and has steadfastly adhered to his principles.
– And yet he escaped opposition by the Labour party in his own constituency by only one vote - 27 to 26.
– That should win for the honorable gentleman the admiration of everybody. We are told that the only reason why a number of so-called Liberals joined the present fusion party was because their political existence was threatened by outside Labour organizations. Members of Parliament who sacrifice principles in which they believe because they are afraid of losing their seats, are not entitled to much consideration or respect. Sir William Lyne was threatened with opposition in his constituency. Various meetings of Labour leagues were held, and urged that a Labour candidate should be run in opposition to him; but that did not prevent Sir William Lyne from remaining true to the pledges he made to the people who had returned him.
– What has the honorable senator to say of the action of the Labour leagues in opposing a man who he says was so good and true?
– No one knows better than Senator Millen that the Labour leagues have been called into existence for the purpose of advancing the Labour movement. The leagues’ platform is published broadcast, and is sufficiently comprehensive. The doors of admission to the Labour party are open wide to every one who wishes to join the Labour movement.
– At the price of his personal liberty.
– I have, heard, that gag so often, that I am surprised to hear Senator Chataway repeat the hackneyed statement. Where is there any sacrifice of personal liberty on the part of a man who says, “ I believe in the platform and constitution of the Labour party, and will become a member of it”? How does he sacrifice any more than a member of any other political party ? We know that he does not do anything of the kind. No member of any other political party has greater freedom of conscience and action. What freedom or independence of action have many honorable senators on the other side? We know that they were not even consulted about the fusion of parties.
– The honorable senator has just had an instance, in the reply given to him by Senator Vardon.
– If the honorable senator refers to Senator Vardon’s reply to my question regarding the offer of the Dreadnought, I may answer that I can well understand that, when the new party was formed, it had no political platform.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7-4-5 p-m.
– I was endeavouring to show that, not only has there been a fusion of certain political parties, but that there has been a fusion also of the great daily newspapers throughout Australia. . It is because of this big combination that I venture to assert that not one honorable senator sitting on the other side can claim to-day to be a free man. Every honorable senator who is a member of the fusion party, and who has subscribed to its platform, whatever that may be, must support it up to the hilt. He dare not break away . from, that party, because’, if he did, his political existence would be brought to an end. In every vote which some honorable senators opposite will give upon matters which have to be dealt with by this Parliament, they will abandon their life-long principles, or their names will be omitted from the newspaper ticket when the general election comes round. That is a very humiliating position for honorable senators to be placed in.
– It is worse than the “Caucus.”
– As I pointed out, in reply to an interjection by Senator Chataway, every member of what has been called the “Caucus” party is a free man. No combination of the newspapers in any part of Australia can force any Labour member to do that which he does not believe to be right. But some honorable senators opposite have recently done what they knew in their hearts to be wrong, in order merely to save their political skins. The present Government have submitted to Parliament a printed statement, in which I find one or two paragraphs, under the heading “ Industrial,” that call for consideration. Referring to the Inter-State Commission, I find the statement made -
Among its duties will be those of a Federal Labour Bureau, comprising a study of unemployment and of a scheme for insurance against unemployment.
It is known to every observing man that in the city of Melbourne there are thousands of unemployed. There is not a trade or calling affiliated with the Trades and Labour Council of Victoria that has not within its ranks scores of unemployed men, who are anxious for work, and unable to obtain it. There is not a city, town, borough, or hamlet in the whole of this State in which there are not many persons unemployed. Recently I had an opportunity, with a member of the House of Representatives, to visit towns in the Western District of Victoria. In each of those towns we were confronted with men who had been out of work for long periods of time, and who saw no immediate prospect of obtaining employment. Recently, in Warrnambool, which is the centre of a very rich agricultural and pastoral district, £300 was set aside by the State Government for the plantation of marram grass, te prevent the drifting of sea sand. For that work no less than 300 men were registered for employment.
– If the honorable senator’s party had remained in office much longer, there would have been three times as many.
– I intend to show that if the policy of our party had been carried into effect, there would have been few, if any, unemployed in any part of Australia.
– And especially in the part the honorable senator has referred to.
– Yes, that is so. So acute was the distress amongst those seeking the employment to which I have referred,, that men were employed upon it only for short periods, so that as many as possible might secure employment. But if every one who sought this employment were given work, it would have meant that there would have been only £1 for each. In another paragraph, under the heading of “ Industrial,” I find this statement -
An active policy of immigration will be undertaken, and will be expanded in the light of the knowledge made available by the Commission and the bureau and, with, it is hoped, the co-operation of all the States.
– Hear, hear !
– I know that that paragraph will be warmly supported by those who believe that population is synonymous with prosperity, and that all that needs to be done in order to insure a permanent and prosperous community is to open wide the gate to all and sundry who wish to come to Australia. But I ask what opportunities offer to the unemployed in our midst, let alone the unemployed inother countries, to obtain land or employment in Australia? It is true that some of the State Governments have introduced systems of immigration. In Western Australia the State Government has been carrying out such a system for a long time. But recent events have shown that in Perth, and in the main cities of Western Australia, there have been agitations of unemployed, who have been clamouring for work, and agitations on the part of recently ai rived immigrants who have been clamouring for land. Some recently arrived immigrants, who deputationized the State Government, said that they had been through all the States, and were unable to get any land, because the best land was all taken up. One recently arrived immigrant, whowas a member of an unemployed deputation, said that when he left the Old Land1 he was promised that as soon as he arrived in Western Australia he would be able to obtain remunerative employment as a farm labourer. He added that 30s. per week ir* Western Australia was not as good as 15s. a week in the Old Country, the wage which he was receiving before he left for Australia. The fact is that there is very little scope in Australia to-day for farm labourers or for labourers of any other description. Ir is not that there is not ample room for ten times our present population; but because there will never be any permanent prosperity in Australia until we have iri power a Government that realizes the causesof unemployment. What are the causes of unemployment? They are, first of all, land monopoly. Whilst the lands are monopolized in any State of the Commonwealth we can never hope for advancement or progress.
– Is that the cause of unemployment in New Zealand?
– Land monopoly has. been extensively broken up in New Zealand, and the Parliament of the Dominion has shown the way to the State Parliaments, and to the national Parliament of the Commonwealth. In Victoria recently, we had evidence that certain members of the State “Government were opposed to a tax on land values. They said they had nothing to” learn from New Zealand and yet, after making this statement, they deputed the Minister for Lands to go to New Zealand; and since his return the Government have announced their intention to introduce a scientific system of land taxation and development.
– What did a New Zealand delegate tell the Sydney Trades and Labour Council?
– It is not shown that the statements made by one visitor from New Zealand represented the opinions of the people of that country.
– The statements referred to prove merely that the policy commended by the honorable senator has not been proceeded with far enough!
– Before a progressive land tax was adopted in New Zealand population was leaving it as fast as it could, and the Dominion was almost on the verge of bankruptcy. But when the late John Ballance came into power, he promptly introduced a measure for the taxation of land values, which resulted in the bursting up of some of the large estates. Additional avenues of employment were thus opened up, thousands of people were settled upon the land, and the clouds of depression were superseded by the sunshine of prosperity. There are many measures on the statute-book of New Zealand which might be copied with advantage even by this Parliament. I know, that we have frequently been told that in the Commonwealth ample land is available to those who may desire it. Senator St. Ledger lias declared that in Queensland alone there are millions of acres awaiting development. If that were the case, it is remarkable that the Government of that State has, for a long time past, been engaged in the repurchase of estates for closer settlement purposes. In Victoria, estate after estate has been re-purchased. As a matter of fact, from 1901 to 1908, the Victorian Government have re-purchased 211,140 acres, at a cost of ,£1,471,300. The total number of persons settled upon the land so resumed is 1,470.
– People or families?
– Only 200 families?
– My information is obtained from Knibbs’ Official Year -Book. I repeat, that for an expenditure of approximately £1.500,000, only 1.470 persons have been settled upon the lands of Victoria. Moreover, since the Government have appeared in the market as a purchaser of land, its value has increased in every direction. Indeed, the result has been a perfect land boom in the rural parts of this
State. At the present time, land here is so dear that it is well nigh impossible for a man to make a living upon it. In NewSouth Wales particularly, there is more sweating upon the land than is to be found in any other branch of industry. We have proof of that afforded by the Teachers’ Conference, which was held not long since, and which made some startling revelations in connexion with the employment of children in the dairying industry.
– Many of the people engaged in that industry purchased cheap land ; but that did not prevent them from doing the cruel things about which the honorable senator is going to speak.
– Upon a former occasion, I quoted extracts which showed conclusively that the sweating carried on in the dairying industry in New South Wales and Victoria is clue to the high rents which the landlords exact from their tenants.
– But the majority Df the dairy farmers in New South Wales are settled upon their own land.
– I doubt that state ment. In New South Wales, the share system is extensively in operation, just as it is in every other State. A similar remark is. applicable also to the cultivation of cereals. In dealing with the employment of children in the dairying industry in New South Wales, the Teachers!’ Conference said -
In 20 schools, with an aggregate enrolment of.s55> n0 fewer than 503 of the children assisted in dairy work, the time thus spent ranging from one and a-half hours to four hours each day. In addition to dairy work and school work, 117 children walked over two miles to school. On the average, 157 children arrived at school late, while 119 were authorized by parents to leave early. Taking one individual school, with an enrolment of 96, 50 children were engaged in dairying, 35 camelate, and 20 left early, the average time spent in dairying work being three hours. The teacher writes : - “ Fully 30 per cent, are unfitted to receive the full benefit of instruction, as they are nearly all drowsy, languid, and inert during the afternoon session. This is not so pronounced in winter as in summer. At present few, if any, rise earlier than 5 to 5.30; but the time is now approaching when many will rise at 4 to 4.30 a.m. This is the cause of the tired feeling which pervades the school in the af.ternoon, and any teacher in a dairy centre who denies that it. exists must be himself affected so badly as to be oblivious of his surroundings.” The teacher cites individual cases. In one instance, two State boys, aged 10 and 12 respectively, have on occasions to milk from 30 to 40 cows. “The worst cases,” he continues,’ “ are those of State boys and families engaged on shares or wages. In these
Cases the evil amounts to absolute slavery.”
– Yet, Senator McColl moved to exempt agricultural industries from the operation of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– Would Senator Pearce make that Act apply to families?
– Certainly, I would.
- Senator Millen has not offered any opposition to the application of that Act to families in Other fields of industry. If sweating be inimical to the interests of a nation in one field of industry, surely it must be inimical to its interests if it be practised in other industries ! In the dairying industry, there are. children who are dwarfed in body and stunted in mind, owing to the evil of sweating. The forces of the earth monopolists ‘are behind the party that now occupies the Government benches. Here is an appeal by Mr. Ritchie, a wealthy squatter of the Western District of Victoria -
I appeal to the land-owners - big and little, to the farmer, and to those who abhor class legislation - legislation by a class for a class, and to blazes with every one else - to subscribe to this anti-Socialistic fund? …. To further the good cause, and to give the antiSocialistic fund a start in life, I beg to say that I shall be happy to subscribe to it the sum of £100.
Other land-owners - not small farmers, because the latter know their true friends and recognise that the members of the Labour party are their best friends - have contributed to the fund thus initiated, so that it has now reached close upon £1,006. For what purpose is this money to be utilized? Not for the purpose of breaking up large estates, but for the purpose of enabling Mr. Ritchie and others to enlarge the areas which they now hold. At the present time Mr. Ritchie owns an estate near Penshurst of 14,000 acres, and has a relative who owns another 17,000 acres, so that between them they hold 31,000 acres. There is a fine metal road running from Penshurst to Dunkeld, a distance of eighteen miles, and along the whole of that road there is only one house.
– In what State is that?
– In Victoria. Mr. Ritchie and four other land-holders in the district own 80,000 acres. Nearly three decades ago some of this land was classified, under the Berry Act as second and third class, and was then valued at £2 and £3 per acre. Some of the land acquired at has been let at from 8s. 6d. to 30s. per acre per annum. So high have been the rentsexacted that men who have done their best to make a livelihood upon it, have had to give up the task in despair. Upon these estates only about fifty men are permanently employed. Under a progressive land tax these estates, as well as others, would be broken up, and prosperity would be created, not only in that portion of Victoria, but in every other part of the Commonwealth.
– Will the honor.eble senator give us some proof of his assertion ?
– I should not mind doing so to those who would be likely to understand me. But the only time the honorable senator is at home is when he is attending an afternoon tea party, for the purpose of addressing ladies with antiSocialistic tendencies. Mr. Ritchie further says -
Lil:e the sword of Damocles, there hangs over the land-owner a Federal land-fine, which, to him, would spell something like ruin. Is a bursting-up land-fine necessary ? The large estates are melting like snow-wreaths in thaw, and in 30 years the squatter will be as extinct as the dodo. His name is on the list of departures, and a future generation will know him not.
Unfortunately the squatter is not melting like snow wreaths. I hold in my hand the Warrnambool Standard Almanac for 1909. It was published by the proprietors of that newspaper, chiefly for the purpose of affording information to tourists visiting that part of Victoria. It contains about 11 pages relating to estates in the Western District alone - estates ranging in area from 10,000 to 70,000 acres.
– What price does the land realize there?
– It has realized as much as .£130 per acre. Some of the land there which is now valued at £60 and per acre, was purchased in the early daysof settlement at £1 per acre. Taking intoconsideration the improvements which have since been effected, £40 or ^50 per acre has probably been added to its value. Who is responsible for this addition? Would it be wrong to obtain for the community some portion at least of the added value which it has created?
– Would the tax proposed by the Labour party be levied on the unearned increment?
– The tax proposed by the Labour party would be levied upon. the unimproved value of land - the value which has been created by the increase of population.
– I ask the honorable senator a simple question, “ Is the tax that is proposed by his party a tax that is to be levied upon the State-earned increment?”
– It is to be a tax upon the increment earned by the community.
– Then why make any exemption ?
– Because in the first place we are concerned with the breaking up of big estates. Earth monopoly is harmful to every country in which it exists.
– If the honorable senator’s party wish to lev)’ on the State-owned increment, they ought to levy irrespective of the people who own the land.
– No matter what we proposed, nearly every member of the present fusion party would oppose it. Before long, the people of Australia will have an opportunity of expressing their opinion in regard to the fusion which has been formed, a fusion for the purpose mainly of advancing the interests of a small coterie of individuals who have little or no consideration for the welfare of the masses.
– I have no hope of good from any legislation that will be introduced by the present Government. What reliance can be placed upon a policy emanating from them? Mi. Joseph Cook, the Minister of Defence, said, at Bendigo, that the new Protection policy was a madcap scheme not worthy of serious consideration. So far as my knowledge goes, Senator Millen showed his opposition to the new Protection scheme when it was first introduced.
– That is incorrect ; I voted for it. I suggest to the honorable senator that he should occasionally tell the -truth.
– At any rate, I am correct in regard to Mr. Cook, and I am certain that some at least of those who are supporting the Government, not only opposed Protection for manufacturers when the Tariff was under consideration, but made it clear that they were opposed to all forms of Protection. Senator Gray worked himself into a frenzy in his opposition to the Tariff, and to the suggestion that there should be a comprehensive and all-embracing scheme of Protection. The Age said, when it was first proposed to bring about the fusion of parties, that such an alliance would be like that of a lamb with a leopard. But the unnatural alliance has been consummated. I do not know what members of Parliament the Age writer had in his mind. The probabilities are that by the lambs he meant such as the three Liberal members of. the Senate - Senators Keating, Best, and Tren- with - and by the leopards he probably meant all those who hold views in contradistinction to theirs. The leopard cannot change his spots. Neither can political leopards. They have merely changed their seats.
– So has the honorable senator’s party.
– But we have not changed our opinions, nor have we changed our policy, which is understood by every one who is opposed to us.
– It is principally a policy of “ weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.”
– There is no wailing and gnashing of teeth on our part because we are in Opposition, but there is detestation with respect to the change of opinions of certain honorable senators opposite. The combination is unnatural, and. therefore, I believe that it will be brought to a speedy termination. I am satisfied that the fusion cannot hang together for a lengthened period, because it consists of so many divergent views and contrary parties, constituted of the flotsam and jetsam of almost every political party that we have had in Australia since the inception of Federation. How can we expect such a party to work for Australia’s greatness and advancement? The thing is impossible. The motion before the Chair is that a paper be printed. The paper is already printed, and, therefore, the motion simply means that we are asked to approve of the policy of the Government, whatever it is. The more one reads the statement, the more difficult it is to understand it. But whatever it contains-
– The honorable senator is against it.
– I am certainly opposed to it. I am opposed to the present Government, and so is every honorable senator sitting on this side of the Chamber. We are determined to utilize every legitimate opportunity to bring the present combination to a speedy end.
– I do not know that I should have spoken in this debate except for the fact that I have been personally named by . several speakers. It appears to me that the debate is bound to be a fruitless one, and it is occupying time that might be more profitably employed. Senator Pearce was, I think, the first to refer to me as sitting over here in company with Senator Gray, Senator Pulsford, and Senator Dobson. My answer to that is that I have never sat anywhere else than where I now sit since I have been in’the Senate, and that I have done so for physical reasons. Without regard to those in power, I shall continue to sit here, so that the seat which I occupy does not indicate anything. But it is perhaps due to my comrades in the Senate, and to the 100,000 odd people who voted for me at the election, that I should define my attitude in regard to the present situation. When we dispersed for the recess, I was sitting here in conjunction with supporters of the late Labour Government. My honorable friends opposite know that my sympathies during the whole of my political life have Ijeen with the aspirations of the Labour party.
– They always have been.
– And my political acts have been in the same direction. However, the Labour Government was dispossessed. Now, I had some voice in the discussion as to whether they should be dispossessed, and, as vigorously as I was able, I urged that an effort to remove them from’ office should not be made. But the party with whom I have also been associated during my political life - the Democraticparty in Victoria - decided that their support of the Government should be withdrawn. Singularly enough, it was withdrawn in exactly the manner in’ which the Labour party’s support of the Deakin Government was withdrawn. Admittedly, the Labour party had no fault to find with their policy.
– Yes, we had.
– That, at all events, was my impression. The Labour party sent a notice to the Deakin Government - a formal, polite, and courteous notice - stating that the Government could not rely upon their support any further. No reason was given, except that the time for withdrawing the support had arrived’. That is my recollection of the case. The Deakin Government were put out, and thev recognised, as far as their action went, that their removal was inevitable, and that it was not a matter to scream over or screech about, or an occasion for making a noise, or calling nasty names. They retired. There was, as I understand, a desire on the part of those who were in direct Opposition to coalesce with Mr. Deakin and the Deakin party, as the Labour party had coalesced with the Opposition to put out the Deakin party.
– We did “not coalesce with them. They voted with us, but we did not approach them, nor did they approach us.
– The Opposition voted with the Labour party. Mr. Deakin refused to be any party to the procedure that was suggested to him. I think that that was a gracious and a proper position for him to take. The new Government had a right to have time in which to frame their proposals and present them to the country and to Parliament. The support of Mr. Deakin’s party was the absolutely necessary condition of the Labour Government having the chance to succeed with its policy. But it proceeded at once, or as. quickly as it possibly could, to give notice to quit to those people upon whom it must rely for its continued existence. Personally, that consideration would not influence me. It never has done. But I can easily understand the attitude of men who said/” These people have declared their desire that they shall not be further burdened with our support; they have expressed their desire that we shall be removed from the arena that enables us to support them ; therefore, it is necessary for us to consider how the principles in which we believe may be maintained.’’’
– What troubled them was how their skin might be protected.
– I am presenting the case as it occurs to me. My honorable friend knows, I think - he ought to know, at any rate - that there are verv few political differences between him and me. I am as anxious as he can possible be to see manv of the advanced democratic views inwhich I believe embodied in the statutebook of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator think there is anv hope of securing them from the present Government?
– I shall state what my hopes are. I am endeavouring to point out clearly the situation asit presents itself to my niind. As I havesaid, I spoke and voted against a similar message being sent to the then Prime Min- ister, Mr. Fisher, as had been sent to the previous Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin. Then a further question arose, and that was a proposal to amalgamate, coalesce or form an alliance, with the direct Opposition. The ground on which that alliance was, it was said, to be made was that the Opposition had agreed to a very large number of the views which I held and have held for years, and which honorable senators opposite hold and have held for years. For instance, as honorable senators know, during all my political career I have been an extremely militant Protectionist. Perhaps I may be wrong, but I earnestly believe in that policy, and the allegation is that the Opposition have agreed that there shall be no interfering with the Tariff in the direction of Free Trade, and that so far as there is any interference to remove anomalies it shall be on the lines of the Protectionist policy. I do not knbw whether they are in earnest about that, and can be relied upon; but if they are I do not care that during all their lives they have been engaged in resisting Protection. My practice lias always been to accept good from wherever it came however unlikely it was that good could come from that source. In that connexion I am perfectly easy in my mind, though Senator W. Russell assures me that if I were to go to Adelaide now to say anything on political mattersI should be gagged. I do not believe it. I do not believe that in Adelaide or anywhere else the people of Australia who have observed my actions for the last thirty years, would do that.
– That is unfair.
– I understood the honorable senator to say so. Will he tell rrie what he did say? I shall be glad to resume my seat for a moment if he will, as I do not wish to misrepresent him.
– I did not say what the honorable senator stated, but I said that when he visited South Australia he was a party politician and was running in the interests of Protection and Democracy. God knows where he is now, when he is following such a crowd as Senator Pulsford and others.
– That does not explain what the honorable senator said before. However, I will assume that he did not say what I attributed to him.
– I did not.
– The honorable senator said just now that God knows where
I am now. That is so obvious that it need not have been stated; but apart from that any person who knows me knows where I am now.
– Where the honorable senator was then thev knew, but not where he is now.
– I am a Protectionist who intends to do all I can on every occasion to have the Protectionist policy of this country made as completely scientific as possible. am a Protectionist who, whenever the Tariff is touched and I have power to influence the decision, will endeavour to make it as perfect as possible on the lines of Protection, and wherever it is proposed to alter it in any direction, will resist that with all the vigour I possess. That is my position on that point.
– The honorable senator may be a good swimmer, but he will admit that he has a big stone round his neck.
– I have nothing round my neck except a collar. These honorable senators who are sitting by me, and to whom the honorable senator refers as being round my neck have been my comrades here for nearly six years. The bulk of them have held views very widely diverging from mine. During the whole of that period I have done them the honour to acknowledge that they earnestly differed from me, and that they believed that they were right. They claim now, some of them, to be willing and prepared to believe in some of the views I hold. If they are prepared to give effect to them I am here to assist them by every means in my power. That is my position.
– Will the honorable senator wait until they take the initiative?
– I am waiting. I have not said anything objectionable to my friends opposite, as they know, although some persons have said things of me aggressively. I do not allude to honorable senators, because I have to acknowledge that from them I have received thji. greatest possible courtesy and kindness, anrt T believe confidence. I refer to members of an organization who for years have said things of me and at me and to me for which there was no warrant, and it will be observed by any person who has taken any notice that I have never hit back or said anything in return. I am not hitting back now. It is only when it is said that I am in an awkward position that I speak. I am not in the slightest difficulty. I am perfectly independent. Senator’ Findley mentioned my name several times, and spoke of honorable senators on this side as being press fettered or in some other way fettered. But permit nae to inform him, and anybody else who thinks that I am press or otherwise fettered, that I am not built that way. I never have been, and am not likely to be fettered by any consideration other than my judgment of what is right. My position is that if the Labour Government had been permitted to remain in office there was a great deal of its policy which I should have ardently indorsed. It was not permitted to remain; it is not here to present its policy, but I am a trustee of the people of Victoria sent here to watch the legislation that is presented, and to endeavour to advance and facilitate the carrying of measures in the interests of the people.
– Can the honorable senator accomplish that better in a Free Trade camp than he could on this side of the Senate?
– The present Government has presented a paper which is now under discussion. It contains a proposal for facilitating what we call the new Protection. Honorable senators know that I have, been amongst the foremost and most ardent advocates of that form of Protection. I had the honour to carry into legislative effect the first resolution ever passed in Australia for giving effect to the principle. I am very proud of that.
– The honorable sena-. tor is identified with a man who has been doing all he could to kill the principle - W. H. Irvine.
– If it is possible by any means, with W. H. Irvine or anybody else, to advance the principle another stage, I am prepared to so advance it, because my view has always been that the important conideration is that the right things should be done, not who should do them.
– Is the honorable senator hopeful?
– I do not propose just now to say anything about that, but I would remind my honorable friends of a similar circumstance in connexion with myself, and some persons as divergent from me as W. H. Irvine. When the fate of the Federal Constitution, which we now applaud, was trembling in the balance in Victoria, I, as a member of the Convention, who was very much dissatisfied with some of the provisions of the Bill, but still convinced that on the whole it was a Bill that we ought to indorse, said so. I was on a platform to advocate its acceptance, with Mr. Murray Smith, Mr. J. B. Patterson, Mr. Duncan Gillies, and a number of others who were called the . most ultra Tories in Victoria, and I was twitted with that. I replied, “ It does not matter to me who come on to my platform I welcome them,” and some members of the Labour organization in- Victoria called me traitor. I have had that term yelled out at me in the street because of that act. At that time the Labour party in Victoria were opposed to the acceptance of the Constitution Bill on the ground that it was undemocratic, and I’ was called a traitor because, with a fuller knowledge, and, perhaps, in some instances, with a better judgment, I thought it on the whole a democratic Bill. Honorable senators know that now the Labour party think that it is an extremely democratic Constitution, not yet what they would like, but better than anything that surrounds us on any hand, And they are anxious, some of them, to bring all legislation under its provisions by means of unification.
– Is it, not fair to state that as the result of the Labour party’s opposition certain clauses were amended at the Premiers’ Conference?
– Clauses dealing with great vital questions?
– No. The point I want to emphasize is that some of these men, while they have admitted by their actions and their efforts, that my intuition or my skill, or my judgment, or whatever they may choose to call it, was better than theirs at that time, came round to my view, and adopted the Constitution as a great advance, have not yet ceased to call me traitor.
– Is it not a fact that’ the opposition to the honorable senator was mainly because of his opposition to adult suffrage? He was opposed to the womanhood of Australia being enfranchised.
– My honorable friend is entirely in error.
– I am not.
– My honorable friend cannot have read the debates in the Convention.
– I am not speaking about that time.
– It is not true that I was opposed to womanhood suffrage at any time.
– Was not the honorable senator present at a meeting in the Town Hall here when a division was taken,, and did he not oppose the introduction of adult suffrage under the Bill ?
– I think that I can turn up the records, and show the honorable senator that he did.
– My honorable friend is in error. I can tell him what he is thinking of, if the President will kindly permit me. Some years ago there was a meeting Weld at the Town Hall to form a league. I think it was a Federal league. It was proposed to mix two issues, and I objected to another issue being added to the one under discussion. I forget now the subject, but I am perfectly clear that my objection was not to the granting of womanhood suffrage, because I had always been in favour of that : in fact, I had always advocated it from everv platform where I had the opportunity, and I was president of the league in Victoria when we succeeded in achieving our object. The ground of my objection on that occasion was the mixing of two issues. That shows the unfairness of that kind of opposition that twists circumstances unwarrantably, in order to make it appear that a man holds views which he does not.
– There was no twisting about it. The proposition was that no franchise would be acceptable to the people of Victoria unless St embodied adult suffrage. A vote. was taken in my presence, and the honorable senator voted against it.
– I succeeded in preventing the motion from being carried, but, not because I did not favour womanhood suffrage, seeing that at that time I was working for its adoption. But assume for argument sake that my honorable friend belongs to some church organization, and that its members are discussing some proposal.
– It does not matter, as it is ancient history.
– It does matter, because these things are being twisted. I will assume that Senator Findley is engaged in dealing with a trade union matter, and some one’ comes forward with a proposition which is entirely irrelevant to the issue. If it were relevant, Senator Findley, would be in accord with it ; but, being irrelevant, the honorable senator would very; properly say, “ I quite agree with your view, but this is not the time or place for your proposition.” That is the kind of opposition I presented at the time to which Senator Findley refers. Of course, all who know me are aware that it is incorrect to say that I ever was opposed to the female franchise. Indeed, in supporting the Constitution Bill throughout Victoria, I argued ‘that the provision it made for adult suffrage was one of the elements of its splendidly democratic character. It was made imperative, under the Constitution, that the ‘franchise for Australia must be an adult franchise. We provided that the Federal Parliament might create a uniform franchise; but it could not take from any citizen or set of citizens the franchise they enjoyed, and, as the women had the franchise in South Australia at the time the Constitution was framed, it was imperative that, whenever a uniform franchise was adopted, it must include every adult in Australia. So Senator Findley will see that he was in error in his assumption that that was the ground of objection to me.
– It was one of the grounds.
– I have dealt with this personal matter because of the rather pointed, though, I think, not unfriendly, manner in which. my name has been referred to. I have shown that my attitude upon that occasion was similar to my attitude upon this. I was prepared, and always will be, I hope, to accept the assistance of any person from any quarter in the direction I think it proper to go.
– How can the honorable senator expect assistance from a person who tells him publicly that he is opposed to what he believes.
– To whom does the honorable senator refer?
– To the honorable member for Flinders, who stated that he does not believe in the new Protection, and to Mr. Joseph Cook, who described it as a “madcap” system. How can Senator Trenwith expect assistance from them.
– I am not in alliance with Mr. W. H. lrvine or with Mr. Joseph Cook. I am here as a trustee of he people of Victoria to secure, not in the istant future, but, if possible, now, legisition upon the lines that I Have always dvocated. If it should happen that the view taken of the present Government by my honorable friends opposite is correct, and that Senator Millen is actuated only by a consideration of the convenience of being in office, I shall know what to do, but I venture to hope and to think that it is not so. Senator Millen and myself have been opposed on most issues ; but I have never seen anything about the honorable senator which would lead me to assume that he is dishonest.
– Senator Millen is a verynew Protectionist.
– That is so. There was a time when other members of this Senate were “new” Protectionists; and a time, since my presence here, when other honorable senators who have been very loud in their advocacy of Protection, declared that Free Trade was the proper policy. I do not think that they were dishonest when they said that Free Trade was right. I believe that they thought so. I do not think they are dishonest now when they say that Protection is right. I believe that they have been converted. I think that is a fair and proper assumption ; and it is, at any rate, the assumption on which I desire to proceed.
– The honorable senator is very guileless.
– It seems to me that political life would be intolerable If we had always to assume that the men who differ from usare rascals.
– We do not object to their differing from usbut we do object to the Jim Crow jumping they “do.
– My honorable friends opposite gave a good deal of time, during the recent recess, to platform advocacy.
– That is not unusual.
– No; but I am speaking now in reply to Senator Givens’ reference to Jim Crow jumping. I do not know how Jim. Crow jumped.
– I addressed fewer meetings during the last recess than during any other; but I got more space from the newspapers.
– I am not Blaming the honorable senator for having ad dressed meetings; but I am “sure thstt at every meeting he addressed, he tried to strengthen the convictions of those who agreed with him, and to convert some who did not agree with him. When you have succeeded in converting a man who was previously violently opposed to you, do you call him a Jim Crow jumper ? Do you not say, “ Well done, old man, I am glad to see you on our side at last ‘ ‘ ? Honorable senators opposite will permit me to say to my honorable friend, Senator Gray, “Well done, old man, I am glad to see you on our side at last.”
– There is too much make believe about tbat.
– I hope it may be found to be true.
– Honorable senators opposite do not realize that it is possible for us to think more of Australia than of our individual opinions.
– I hope I have stated the position.
– Hope implies expectation ; does the honorable senator expect it ?
– If I do not get it, I shall be found jn opposition to them ; that is all. I am not bound by the press criticism, or by any other consideration, to go with an individual, a party, or a host, that I do not believe is going the right road. I never have been, and I never shall be, so bound.
– Why did not the honorable senator follow the party that promised most, and that was prepared to do most ?
– To which party does the honorable senator refer ?
– The Labour party. The honorable senator left them when they brought forward their policy.
– I have not left them. They are not in office. If they were on this side I should be found sitting behind them now. Honorable senators opposite know that that is correct.
– Is it necessary in order to- secure the honorable senator’s support that the party that gets it must be in office ?
– No, that is not necessary. In order to secure my support there must be something before me to support. It is to legislate that I am sent here, and not to screech and to declaim about unjust treatment and cruel hustling from pleasant positions.” I am not here for that purpose.
– The honorable senator did it before.
– I have never done it.
– The honorable senator told us that he pleaded with the caucus meeting of his party to support the Labour Government.
– Yes, that is so.
– Then why does the honorable senator now deny it?
– Why are honorable senators opposite asking me these questions ?
– Is the honorable senator where he is now against his own convictions ?
– No, that does not at all follow, There is nothing secret about my action! I have said that the major portion of the Labour party’s programme, as presented in Mr. Fisher’s speech at Gympie, met with my indorsement.
– The honorable senator is of so easy a virtue that he is happy anvwhere.
- Senator McGregor looks jolly, but he is not as happy as I have known him to be. I said a few minutes ago that my mission here is to legislate. The members of the late Government are not now in a position to propose any measures of legislation for my approval. There is in office a Government who have undertaken to present some measures of which I heartily approve. I. want to get on with those measures, or to prove that the Government is not in earnest. Honorable senators opposite say that the Government, and those supporting them, are not in earnest, and are only pretending that they believe in these things. Are they not acting suicidally in, I will not say wasting, but in unnecessarily occupying time? If they be; lieve what they say and I think they do, surely their policy is to sit as quiet as possible and compel the introduction of these measures by the people who they say do not wish to introduce them ?
– What time have we occupied unnecessarily ?
– I think that the present discussion has been somewhat drawn out. I think that the comparison between the splendid things that would have happened if the late Government had been permitted to remain, and the awful things that may be expected to happen if the present
Government are permitted to remain in office, is unnecessary.
– If we were not discussing these things the Senate would be adjourned.
– Perhaps my honorable friend is right in suggesting that we get a little amusement out of- the discussion, which, otherwise we should lose. But generally speaking, discussions of this character are subversive of progress and of useful work. I again urge that my honorable friends opposite desire measures and not office.
– We desire information in reference to the policy of the Government, and we do not get it.
– And that is the reason for blocking business?
– We are not blocking business.
– I have endeavoured to point out what appears obvious to me, that if it is correct to say that the present Government is insincere, that those who profess to support them will not accept the policy they have presented, that they are hypocrites and are not in earnest, their test way to hit them is to sit by and see what they are prepared to do. Honorable senators opposite are playing entirely into the hands of the Ministerial party by getting up all this excitement and making long’ speeches.
– Then what is the honorable senator growling about?
– I am not growling at all. I am advising men who whatever they may think, have always had my sympathy.
– We do not want the honorable senator’s sympathy, we want his assistance.
– I venture, to say, without undue egotism, that I have assisted to realize the aspirations professed by honorable senators opposite, not once or twice, but frequently.
– The honorable senator helped to put the Labour Government out, that is clear.
– If Senator Findley makes that statement in earnest, he is in error.
– I cannot be in error, because the late Government were defeated by a majority, and if the honorable senator and one or two more had voted in another way they would not have been defeated.
– The honorable senator is only proving his ignorance, because I voted in caucus with the minority. The honorable senator will permit me to say that during my political career I have been doing the things which he has been talking about, and that I have done more in an hour than he possesses the capacity to do if he lives for a thousand years.
– “ Sound the loud timbrel.” The honorable senator is now showing his true colours.
– When I am met with gibes from a quarter from which they are not warranted, I may be forgiven for retorting. Nothing in my attitude has warranted the honorable senator’s gibes.
– What has the honorable senator done?
– Let Senator Findley look at the statute-book of Victoria and he will find out.
– Senator Trenwith has bowled out Senator Findley.
– The honorable senator has not done so. If he had voted for the Labour Government they would have been still in power.
– The vote referred to was not recorded here.
– If the division, in which I voted with the minority, had been taken in this chamber, I should have been found sitting on the other side of the House when it was taken.
– Then the honorable senator is tied down bv the caucus rule?
– No. Had the vote been taken in this Chamber, I certainly should have supported the maintenance of the Fisher Government in power.
– What about the honorable senator’s own party caucus?
– I have told my honorable friends my position, and I have advised them - though I am not aggressive and never have been towards them, notwithstanding that I have received very serious provocation-
– I do not think that the honorable senator has received any provocation from us.
– No. I have already stated that I have always received the most courteous consideration from my honorable friends opposite. But when Senator Findley asks what I have done, he and other honorable senators know perfectly well what I have done. They know that what is called the new Protection is not a new idea at all.
– What has the honorable senator done,?
– I must ask Senator Findley not to be so constant in his interruptions. Senator Trenwith has replied to him half-a-dozen times, and yet he persists in putting the same question again. The honorable senator must cease interrupting.
– I was pointing out when I was interrupted that it was at my instance that provision for the payment of a minimum wage was engrafted on the statute-book of Victoria. I do not claim any special credit for that, because to obtain it was my mission in the -State Parliament. It was at my instance that the eight hours principle, so far as it has been applied to the Public Service of Victoria, was so applied. It was at my instance that provision for the payment of a minimum wage to labourers was placed in such -i concrete and definite form that it became impossible for contractors to evade it. It was at my instance that an old-age pensions system was introduced into Victoria.
– And it was at the honorable senator’s instance that the amount payable under the Act was reduced.
– No. There was no pension payable at the time to whichthe honorable senator refers. The law had1 lapsed, and if a proposal had not beenmade in favour of the ‘payment of 8s. ai week by the Government of which I was then a member, our old-age pensioners would have received’ no shillings a week. The wise course for us to follow in connexion with progressive legislation is to accept at once what is practicable, and toreach out subsequently for the other portion, which we have not been able to obtain - not to determine that we must have the whole loaf or nothing. A pension of 8s. per week at the time of which the honorable senator speaks was possible; but with the Legislative Council which wethen had a payment of ros. per week would have been impossible. To-day in this State old-age pensioners receive ios. per week.
– To-morrow they will receive ios. per week throughout the Commonwealth.
– And I do not think that ios. is the highest sum at which- we should aim. I have no desire to further occupy the attention of the Senate, but 1 felt it due to those gentlemen who have specially mentioned me, that I should offer seme explanation of my position.
– Does the honorable senator approve of the Government proposal to appoint an Inter- State Commission?
– I. have always thought that an Inter- State Commission should be appointed, though for the purpose of giving effect to a scheme of new Protection I do not believe that the Government proposal will succeed. If it does not, we shall still be in a position to deal with the matter in another way. Speaking some months ago on a Sunday afternoon, in the Wesley Church, of the necessity for a central authority controlling industrial matters, I said -
I believe that at the next election the electors will be asked to express their opinion upon the question of whether the Constitution should not be altered so as to enable the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with industrial matters, and I hope that with overwhelming force their answer will be “Yes.” But if nobody else gives them the opportunity to vote upon this question, I will do so myself.
– The Government do nor propose to give them such an opportunity.
– Then I do.
– The state..ment of Senator Pearce is not correct, and -the honorable senator knows it.
– Senator Trenwith is in a straight position now.
– It is characteristic of me that I have never occupied any other position.
– The honorable -senator should give notice of his intention now.
– I should have given notice to-day, but for the fact that my action would have restricted me in the -statement which I am now making. However, I must confess there is some merit in the proposal of the Government. The Constitution empowers Parliament to give <effect to the new Protection in the way that the Government propose, just as effectually as does the way that I propose. But the probability of’ the .Government scheme “being effective is so remote that I have no confidence in it. According to the Ministerial statement, the Cabinet themselves “ have foreseen the possibility of failure. “They have indicated that in the event of failure, they propose, to take the steps which I have suggested. To-morrow I intend to give notice of my motion ; but that will not block the proposal of the Government in any way. If six Acts of Parliament can be obtained from the different States in time-
– They cannot, and the Government know that perfectly well. They are a lot of hypocritical pretenders.
– I would point out that the honorable senator is not justified iii speaking of any Government in that way.
– I think so. At any rate, that has been my, experience of them.
– The honorable senator must not make these interjections.
– It is neither wise nor necessary to say that the Government know perfectly well that it is impossible to obtain the requisite authority from the States^ In any case, we shall not be placed at* a disadvantage by making the attempt. If, as I hope and believe, there is an earnest intention to adopt other means of giving effect to the new Protection, should the readier means which the Government propose fail-
– Meanwhile will not the workers suffer for two or three years ?
– They need not suffer for a week. I take it that if the answer of the States is not satisfactory, before the opportunity is lost, a Bill dealing with this question will be introduced.
– Will the Government obtain a satisfactory answer from Queensland ?
– We are placed at no disadvantage in asking the States to cede this power to us. If they do so, we shall have achieved all that we could achieve by an amendment of the Constitution, and we shall have achieved it more readily. If they do not grant us the requisite power this session, we can secure our object in the way that we think it ought to be secured.
– Suppose that the Premier of Victoria is willing to cede us the necessary power, what guarantee have we that the Legislative Council of this State will agree to the Bill ?
-Unless the necessary measure be passed by the State Parliaments within a couple of months, I intend to proceed with my motion, which provides for the taking of a referendum upon the question of an alteration of the Constitution at the coming elections.
– Have the Government fixed a date when these measures must be passed ?
– I am not in the confidence of the Government. I am merely concerned with stating my own position, and I have done so in the clearest and most unequivocal manner.
– It is a painful case.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I feel no pain. If the measures outlined in the Ministerial statement are proceeded with, and carried into law this session, it seems to me that we shall have accomplished good work. Before concluding, I should like to refer to one other matter, namely, the “ new departure “ to which allusion is made in the statement of Ministerial policy. I am opposed to borrowing, if it is at all possible to avoid it.
– Where do the Government intend to obtain the money with which to carry out their Dreadnought proposal?
– I do not know. I am, and always have been, opposed to borrowing. I think that the proposal of the Fisher Government to create a paper currency would have been an admirable way of obviating the need for adopting that course. That proposal contained nothing new. I have advocated its adoption for twenty years.
– Yet the honorable senator deserted the party which would have tried to give effect to it.
– I have not deserted any party. If there has been any desertion, I have been deserted.
– We did not desert the honorable senator.
– And I have not been antagonistic to the party with which the honorable senator is associated. I was a member of that party in Parliament before my honorable friends opposite.
– I was a member of it long before I entered Parliament.
– It is no credit to me to be older than the honorable senator. It is exceedingly inconvenient. I wish I were much younger.
– I was a trade unionist before the honorable senator was, I think.
– I am sure that the honorable senator was not. I feel that a paper currency is something that will have to be adopted in the not distant future. Anyhow, I am in favour of it; and when the opportunity arises, I shall assist to carry the proposal into law.
– The proposal is characterized by the honorable senator’s present political friends as a madcap scheme.
– That is their opinion, perhaps ; it is not mine. I see noreal difference between the issue of a paper currency and a silver currency. Neither the one nor the other is money in the sense of being equivalent to face value. Both the paper currency and the silver are simply promises to pay, and they only have effect as currency on the security of the State that issues them. If the State that issues them is an insecure and Insolvent State, they will not pass at their face value, but simply at their intrinsic value.
– TheHonorable senator wants the notes to be on a gold basis.
– I do not propose to enter at length into a discussion of what would be necessary to guarantee a paper currency. But I should like to say, incidentally, that in Great Britain, or inany part of Australia, twenty shillings can be exchanged with ease for a sovereign, without any trouble, because the guarantee behind them gives them their face value. If we can do that in regard to ten shillings’ worth of silver, we can do it with regard to a farthing’s worth of paper. It may have no intrinsic value . t all ; but the guarantee behind it constitutes an effective and face value guarantee.
– The honorable senator is making Senator Best look very uneasy.
– I am merely expressing my own views. I do not knowthat there are any other points in the Government’s programme with which I disagree. I have expressed my attitude about the efficacy of their method of securing thenew Protection. But I also express my confidence in their earnestness, and my belief that if they find that the method they areat present adopting is ineffective, they will adopt the other method. I doubt thewisdom of borrowing. I think it not necessary, on any evidence that has at present been submitted. In a general wav, I look upon borrowing as dangerous and bad’ in principle. The Commonwealth has;’ initiated the principle of paying for new public works out of revenue. It has done that very largely.
– Not largely, but entirely.
– It is a good principle.
– I think it is an admirable one. The Commonwealth has already spent something like £3,500,000 on new public works. Under the conditions that prevailed in the States, and under the conditions that some honorable senators desire to initiate in the Commonwealth, we should have spent loan money to that amount. If money, had been borrowed, close upon ,£500,000 would already have been paid in interest.
– Not on ,£3,500,000.
– Assuming that the payments extended over the eight years during which the Commonwealth has been in existence, the interest payments would te a great deal more ; but I do not know exactly the period within which these expenditures were undertaken, and it is necessary to know that, in order to be able 10 say how much interest would have accrued. But, at any rate, we should have spent a considerable sum in interest. As we have not spent the money in that way, these reproductive works must have earned that money for us ; and we have got it to spend this year, without costing the people of Australia one penny. I think that that is worth remembering; and I take the liberty to mention it here, in order that honorable senators may not be deceived at any time as to the attitude that I intend to take up.
– If we had borrowed, we should be paying more than .£100,000 fi vear now.
– Yes. It seems to me that it is wise for us to be very slow indeed in departing from the safe principle which we have adopted.
– That safe principle was largely the outcome of the Labour party’s attitude. We refused to support borrowing.
– I have been expressing my agreement that the Labour party’s aspirations are desirable. Therefore, my honorable friend will not twit me with being angry with him when he claims that credit. The principle of not borrowing is, I repeat, a desirable one, and I hope will te maintained. I regret extremely that I have been led into some expressions of heat.
– They were very mild.
– I regret them, nevertheless, because I was very anxious not to say anything to hurt any one’s feelings. I am amongst friends here ; because I call all the members of this Senate my comrades, and I flatter myself that many of them are personal friends. Amongst: friends, I do not think that words that are offensive should be used ; nor should there be any undue heat; and I am very sorry if anything that I have said has hurt anyone. I assure those who, perhaps in mv interest, fear that I am tied, or trammelled, that they can disabuse their minds of that idea. I am not tied or enslaved in anyway.
– If there is any party in this Senate that ought to be satisfied with the present, state of affairs, it is the Labour party. They are now in the position to which they have endeavoured to attain for some considerable time. Personally, I compliment the ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, on. having made at Gympie a very straight-out manly speech, showing exactly the course which he and the Labour party intend to pursue. It is, as Senator Pearce put it, a policy of State Socialism. That is. shown, by the fact that it is acknowledged that theparty is going for land nationalization.. The nationalization of the land is, I suppose, one of the first things to te achieved if State Socialism is to te carried out.
– Was that in the policyspeech at Gympie?
– Does the honorable senator say that to frighten the South Australian farmers?
– My honorable friend, Senator Henderson, in speaking, last week, said that the land tax was merely intended as a step towards land nationalization.
– No; the honorable senator is absolutely mistaken.
– I do not believe in land nationalization, and never did.
– Then, I should’ like to know what State Socialism doesmean. I understood that it meant thenationalization of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange; and if the land is .not the first means of production, I am afraid that the issue is not asclean cut as it ought to te. The Labourparty, I think, are perfectly justified insaying that they are going to secure a majority of seats ‘if they can. They are justified in saying that they do not look upon any mail as being “as good as Labour,” if he is not a member of their party. In that respect, we have a clean-cut issue. If the Labour party are returned on their own policy with a majority, they should be in a position to carry out that policy without the aid of any other party. It has not been so in the past. There is no doubt that the Labour party attempted to push Mr. Deakin as far as they possibly could. When they could not push him any further, they said, “You stand aside now; we will lead and you can push.” But Mr. Deakin was not prepared to do the pushing, as the Labour party had done it for him. It is right that we should get to the position of two parties in politics. Then, whatever Government is in power will be supported by those who are in agreement with the whole of their policy, and they themselves will be responsible for that policy to the country.
– Is the honorable senator’s party going to push” now, or will they try to pull Mr. Deakin back?
– Our party is going to endeavour to carry out some useful legislation for the benefit of the Commonwealth. Senator Findley wanted to know what the honorable senators on this side of the chamber really were. He said that some of us were Conservatives. I never professed to be a Conservative. I do not see how there can be a Conservative party in a young country like this. Any party that wants to stand in the way of progress must be pushed on one side. The electors of South Australia returned me on the opinions which I expressed. I had the support of certain organizations ; but none of them asked me to sign their platform, or questioned me as to what I believed in. They supported me on my public utterances.
– They knew that the honorable senator would do what they wanted, and, therefore, they did not require him to sign anything.
– I am not like the honorable senator, who is required by his party to put his name to what he professes. Upon the opinions that I expressed, I received the biggest vote that any man has yet received in South Australia.
– But the honorable senator had not me standing against him at the last election.
– If the honorable senator could resign, and I did the same, and we were to stand for election at the same time, I am satisfied that I should beat him, not by 7,000, but. by 10,000 votes. If I had had another fortnight in the recent campaign, I should have had a majority of 10,000 .instead of 7,000. Perhaps in three or four years hence Senator W. Russell and I will be standing together. We shall then see who obtains the most votes.
– I beat the honorable senator’s vote by two to one in the place where he is best known - Hindmarsh.
– I do not think that the honorable senator ever beat me by two to one anywhere. At the election, I had a majority in nearly every division.
– A sectarian vote.
– I am sorry that the sectarian issue should be dragged in. I have never introduced it, and do not believe in doing so. I wish to come now to the statement which the Government have presented. I confess that it seems to me to be rather general in its character. ‘ I should have been pleased if it had been a little more definite in some of its expressions. It is proposed in the statement I notice to appoint an Inter-State Commission, and to clothe it with what I regard as very large powers. It is to perform the functions of a Board of Trade, to have a general oversight of production and exchange, to act as a Federal Labour Bureau, to supervise the working of the Customs Tariff in its operation upon the investment of Australian capital and labour in Australian industries, to advise in regard to inconsistencies in its schedules, and so on. There is another paragraph which reads -
In the meantime any anomalies that may be discovered in ‘ the Customs Tariff Act lately passed by this Parliament will be examined, classified, and dealt with in due course.
I desire to know whether the Inter-State Commission . is to have power to deal with these things, or simply to report and allow the Parliament to deal with them? Surely what is meant is that whatever it may desire to do must receive the indorsement of Parliament.
– Hear, hear. It could not be otherwise.
– The Inter-State Commission or any body of inquiry could not possibly legislate.
– I notice, too, that the Inter-State Commission is to take up the matter of the industrial conditions in the various States. I am one of those who believe that there should be as little interference as possible. I do not think that there should be any clashing between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to industrial legislation. It may be right that where any State has not made legislative provision for the securing of fair and proper wages- to the workers, the Commonwealth should be able to step in, but I believe that the work can be better done by the States than by the Commonwealth.
– What about Tasmania?
– I hope that it will enact industrial legislation.
– The honorable senator would not object to Wages Boards being created by the Inter-State Commission in anv State where there were no such Boards, but how would it get the necessary power ?
– That is not for me to say, but I imagine that there must be legislation for the purpose of granting the power. I do not believe in freedom of contract between employers and employes. I hold that we should endeavour to see that fair wages are paid for fair labour. But, on the other hand, I do not believe in a State coddling manufactures. It was said just now that the Commonwealth may interfere where there is no State legislation, but I do not think that it ought to interfere where a State has made satisfactory provision for securing fair conditions of labour in various industries. So far as I can learn the idea of the Labour party was to hand the whole of the industrial conditions of the ‘Commonwealth over to the Federal Arbitration Court for administration. It was said, I think, in the first place, that such administration should apply to protected industries only, but later I understand the proposal was extended to all industries. I do not think that the change of view matters very much, because I can hardly find an industry which is not protected. It appears to me that pretty well every industry in a State, right down to primary producers, is protected. Therefore, the Federal Court must have power to deal with all industries.
– What protection has the shipping industry?
– Are the shearer and rouseabout protected, who have got more from the Arbitration Court than have the men in any other industry in Australia?
– The pastoral industrv is protected by duties on horses, sheep, cattle, and pigs.
– Is there a duty onwool?
– Does the honorable senator want an export duty on wool ?
– Is an export duty Protection ?
– It does not matter. I hold that inasmuch as these articles are protected, the pastoral industry is protected. The same thing can be said, in regard to the farming industry, as there are duties on hay, wheat, and oats. The dairying industry is also protected, as there are duties on butter, cheese, bacon, and other articles. If the whole of the industries are handed over to the Arbitration Court every industry will be brought within its control.
– Are the seamen working in a protected industry?
– Under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the agricultural, viticultural, and pastoral industries are exempted.
– It was proposed by the late Government to seek power to takecontrol over all industries, and surely those are industries which would come under the law?
– But the rural industries are exempt from the operations of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– If the whole of the industries are handed, over to the Arbitration Court they must come under itscontrol. It is all very well to hand over to a Court the power to fix wages, and it may be a very right thing to hand over legislation with regard to conditions of trade,that is as to how a man shall carry on his manufacture. But there is onething which we cannot do. We cannot pass a law which will make a man earnthe wage fixed for him, and that is perhaps where a difficulty may arise.
– No, but sometimes employers can get their printing- done in Japan.
– If any printing is done in Japan the persons concerned have to pay the duty fixed on the article. If the nrinting industry is protected it will be for the Wages Board to see that printers get a fair return.
– In some States there are no Wages Boards.
– Tasmania is, I understand, the only State in that position.
– In South, Australia some industries are not under Wages Boards.
– In Queensland there are not Wages Boards for all industries.
– What I wish to point out is that the Legislature cannot surround industries with a set of artificial conditions which will not stand the ordinary strain and stress of commercial life, and. very often, that is what is proposed. In these matters I do not like a resort by the parties to a Court. It antagonizes the parties straight away. One is plaintiff and one is defendant, and instead of going into Court in a friendly fashion, the parties go in almost as enemies. I believe in the principle of conciliation, conference, mutual consideration. I have always supported the use of Wages Boards, because it brings together the people who are directly connected with the industry, and know all about its conditions. I believe that they are more competent to fix up these matters amongst themselves than any Court could be.
– The Arbitration Court is only appealed to when conferences have failed.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is exactly right.
– He has been on Boards in connexion with seamen.
– The Broken Hill appeal to the Arbitration Court was made after a conference had failed.
– That case was referred to the Arbitration Court.
– After a conference had failed to bring about a settlement.
– And all the other companies accepted the conference agreement.
– Exactly, but the caseswere referred to the Arbitration Court.
– Only the case of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company.
– That company appealed to the Arbitration Court. There was no desire, I think, to agree in conference.
– All the other mines did agree.
– Yes, but there was really no desire, I think, to agree in conference.
– By whom?
– Perhaps not by either side.
– But, with one exception, they did agree.
– Half the men went back to work.
– It was only one company that disagreed.
– The men at Broken Hill and Block Ten were out. However, that does hot alter my contention, that in all cases the people who are interested and working in a trade, whatever it may be, are better able to come to a satisfactory decision than a Court is likely to be. The other night Senator Henderson, whois not here now, instanced one employer who said that employers were not responsible for women and children. Is it fair to take that man as a typical employer?
– Yes, a Judge in Victoria said the same thing less than a fortnight ago.
– I could instance an employer who is very considerate to his workmen, paying them during sickness, and granting them leave every year. If I were to sa.y that he is a typical employer my honorable friend would say that I was not fair.
– Certainly, as we know from experience.
– The honorable senator would be quite right. I admit that there are unprincipled employers who would skin a flint ; but I do not think it is fair to say that the great bulk of them are men of that type. I noticed that at Port Pirie a Mr. Wood made this statement -
He liad advocated that the men should go back to work so that they could keep the union intact ready for an opportunity to strike a blow at capitalism. They were going to take employment with the company, and then strike a blow by leaving the works at an opportune time - a time when metals were high and things were blooming.. He hoped that tlie men who went on at the smelters and the refinery would do as little work as they possibly could, as that would be good enough for capitalism.
– Who is Mr. Wood?
– He is a man who was addressing the people at Port Pirie. If I were to come here, and say that he is a typical workman, what would my honorable friend say of me?
– Was he a workman ?
– I do not know anything about him. If I were to hold him up as a typical workman my honorable friend would say that I was not fair, nor would I be if I did. Speaking from my business experience, I assert that 90 per cent, of the workmen are good, honest men, who will always do a fair day’s work.
– They would not take advice like that, anyhow. .
– I should hope that they would not, but it was given. It is not the kind of advice which was given by my friend, thelate Thomas Price, in South Australia. When he was addressing the men of his own trade, he said, “ Always do your best, and put as good work on the inside of the wall as on the outside.” . That is much better than the advice given by the man at Port Pirie.
– That was probably manufactured by your press.
– Or bv a sharebroker.
– We often -hear insinuations about reports being manufactured by the press. At any rate, this statement by Mr. Wood was published in the press, and no one has ever contradicted it.
– The honorable senator admits that 90 per cent, of the workers do not agree with the man.
– My belief is that 90 per cent, of the workers are thoroughly good, true men, and I speak from my own experience. What I said was that I should have as much right to hold up that man as a typical workman as Senator Henderson had to hold up the mean scoundrel to whom he referred as a typical employer. As a matter of fact, neither are typical, and the average of both employers and employes are good.
– The honorable senator seems to forget that Senator Henderson’s typical emplover has had his position backed up by the law in Victoria within the last fortnight.
– I am not talking about the law, but about men. A reference is made in the Ministerial statement to the intention of the Government to adopt a policy of immigration to settle people on our lands. The replv to that is that there is no land, and that it is necessary to break up the big estates. For that purpose, the Labour Government proposed to impose a very stiff progressive land tax. I believe that the idea was eventually to make it the first step in a policy of land nationalization. If that be so, it was of very little use to throw the sop proposed to the man holding land worth less than £5,000. If the object were nationalization of the land, it would not matter whether a man held £50,000 worth or £50 worth of land, eventually the rental value would all be taxed out.
– There was no such proposal in the Labour programme.
– It is said that the reason why we must have this land taxation is that there is no land available.
– One object was to adjust the incidence of taxation.
- Senator W. Russell will admit that he has contended that land taxation was necessary to burst up the big estates. After all we have heard, it is not a little strange to learn that only 6.62 per cent, of the land of the Commonwealth has so far been alienated. It is a libel upon Australia to say that the whole of our good land is comprised in that 6.62 per cent.
– Can the honorable senator say how much the State has available for settlement ?
– Who said that all the good lands in Australia, were comprised in that area?
– If there is good land outside that area, where is the necessity -to burst up the big estates in order to find land on which people may settle?
– Has the honorable senator never heard of long leases or licences, or anything like that ?
– I am speaking of land that has actually been alienated, and only 6.62 per cent, of the whole of the land of the Commonwealth has been alienated. If the honorable senator will look at the Commonwealth Year-book, he will find a diagram illustrating the area alienated.
– If the honorable senator had read my speech, he would know that I referred also to land held under lease and licence. He should be fair.
– I can give the area of land held under lease. The leases are for only a certain term, and the lands comprised in many of ‘ them are subject to resumption, if necessary, in the public interest.
– By paying heavy compensation for improvements.
– Not in the case of a number of annual leases and occupation licences.
– It is said that there is no land available for immigrants, and, in answer to that statement, I shall quote from Mr. Clarence Goode, who represents the district of Stanley in the South Australian Parliament. He is a Labour man, and a practical farmer. He was a member of the Wheat Commission appointed in that State, and, as such, paid a visit of inspection to the west coast, and also to the lands east of . the Murray. After going over the land, he submitted a report on what he saw, in which he said, referring to lands on the Murray and on Eyre’s Peninsula -
No doubt many seekers after land will be asking which is the better place to go to - the Peninsula or the country just reviewed. On the Peninsula there is more country available, probably 2,000,0000 acres, as against 1,000,000 acres here ; consequently, there is a greater extent of good country in the larger area. The Murray country is nearer the centres of population ; a gulf has to be crossed to get to the Peninsula land. The rainfall on the Peninsula is probably more reliable than across the Murray. Some have friends doing well in both places. These and other minor considerations will influence settlers in their choice, but whether they go across the Gulf or across the Murray they will find land on which they will be able to build up happy and prosperous homes, and become contributing factors in the great development which should take place in every direction as the result of opening up some 3,000,000 acres of land to profitable settlement.
That is in one State, and it will be seen from a pamphlet published by the Government that the terms on which these lands are offered are exceedingly reasonable. They are -
The rental will vary_ from¼d. to 4s. per acre. If taken on purchase, the price will be from 2s. 6d. to about £8 per acre, which can be paid in 60 half-yearly payments with a low rate of interest added. In either case, the maximum to be held by one person is not to exceed£5,000 worth.
Miscellaneous leases of 21 years tenure may be taken of sites for shops, &c, and, in a few cases, for grazing and cultivation, at a rental to be fixed.
Land for grazing may be taken, capable of carrying 5,000 sheep, at a low rental, and in dry areas 10,000 sheep.
Pastoral areas in outside country can be had for 21 or 42 years, at rentals of from is. 6d. to £1 per square mile.
– What is the rainfall of the dry areas referred to?
– I do not know what particular part is referred to in this pamphlet, but over the 3,000,000 acres referred to by Mr. Clarence Goode the rain fall is sufficient for wheat if artificial manures are used.
– At what distance from a railway can wheat be grown successfully ?
– On the west coast a railway has been built for the purpose , of opening up the country. The South Australian Government are proposing now to build a railway for the benefit of the other area referred to, and there is the River Murray, by which the settlers could bring down . their produce to Morgan, and thence by rail to market, or by water the whole way if they pleased.
– At what distance from a railway can wheat be grown successfully ?
– The distance varies in different parts ; it is impossible to laydown a hard-and-fast rule in such a matter.
– The land on Eyre’s Peninsula is 50 miles from the coast or from any railway.
– A great deal of it extends along a line of railway that has only recently been constructed. I have been wondering what the Government of Western Australia are doing. I do not think that a Government would be responsible for untrue statements in an advertisement. I have here an advertisement which I cut from one of the Melbourne newspapers, and which was inserted by the Western Australian Government. It reads -
Cheapest land in the world, and most liberal land laws. 60,000,000 acres of Crown lands, suitable for grazing, mixed farming, dairying, and fruit growing ‘available in a temperate climate, with an annual rainfall ranging from 50 inches to 10 inches. 50,000 acres now surveyed in advance of selection waiting to be taken up. Droughts unknown. Seasons as certain as the sunrise. Conditional Purchase Cultivable lands from 10s. to £1 an acre, payable in 40 half -yearly instalments without interest - Conditional Purchase Grazing land, 3s. od. to 10s. an acre, payable in 40 half-yearly instalments’ without interest. A Free Homestead Farm of 160 acres for £1. Half cost of survey onlv payable by selector in two instalments over twelve months. State Agriculture Bank advances loans to settlers. Up to £300 advanced to full value of proposed improvements. Maximum advance,£500. Interest only payable at 5 per cent, per annum the first five years after first loan is granted ; principal . and interest repayable in equal annual instalments over 25 years thereafter. Government’s policy : a railway for every producer ; 1, too miles of new agricultural and mining railways have been built in Western Australia during the last three years, or under construction or proposed. Free railway passes and the services of land guides and conveyances without charge provided for those desirous of inspecting the land. Full particulars on appli- cation to the Officer in Charge, Western Australian Government Agency, 317 Collins,street Melbourne.
– It is said that there are over 50,000 acres of land already surveyed and available, and the policy of the Government is to build a railway for every producer.
– That puts the brand on it.
– What the honorable senator has just read bears out what the Labour Government published throughout Europe and Great Britain in a newspaper called the Clarion.
– The policy of the Government is to build a railway for every producer, and it appears that 1,100 miles of railway have already been constructed or proposed. I do not think that any Government would publish these statements if they were not true.
– The statements quoted are perfectly accurate, but something has been omitted, and that is a statement that the bulk of the land referred to is more than 20 miles from a railway.
– How much would it cost to clear?
– Most of it could be very easily cleared.
– 1 suppose that a little pioneering would require to be done, as was done in the early days in the various States. I have here a letter written to the Pastoralists’ Review by a Mr. Francis Bacon. I do not know the gentleman, but he appears to give chapter and verse for every statement he makes in his letter.
– I read one statement in it referring to Queensland which is not true.
– He says-
I boldly assert that the bulk of the land holders in’ Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia have been cutting up and selling their estates for the last ten to twenty years, and they are now, especially in Victoria and Riverina, where the demand is the greatest, putting a large quantity of land on the market. I say that at the present time there is more land “ offering - mainly in New South Wales - than there are men to buy it.
There are other statements, for which the writer gives chapter and verse, but I invite honorable senators to listen particularly to this, which, perhaps, discloses the crux of the whole matter -
I notice that the young men of the present day don’t care to go out to the Mallee in Victoria or .the western division of New SouthWales or to Queensland ; they like a nice climate, close to a railway, and not too far from Melbourne or Sydney. Look at the Victorians who have helped to colonize Queensland ; the Fairbairns, Olivers, Murphys, then men like Sydney Kidman, the late C. B. andHurtle Fisher, they did not stay in the green grass country.
– Does the writer say that Hurtle Fisher did not stay in the green grass country ?
– I have quoted the statement, and it is open to contradiction if it can be fairly contradicted. I say that it is an absolute fact that what the Labour , party wants to do is to burst up the estates close to railway lines, where all pioneering work has been done, and I hold that we should encourage our young men to go out and . do some .pioneering work themselves. A land tax will not open these waste places. It will not assist in the defence of the country. It will not put people upon these open spaces.
– The men to whom the honorable senator has referred were all located upon pastoral and not upon agricultural holdings.
– But the argument is equally applicable to the agriculturist. I can recollect the time when it was urged that it was impossible to grow wheat 100 miles north of Adelaide.
– That is what the squatters used to tell us.
– We are told that we must levy a progressive land tax for the purpose of bursting up big estates.
– Such a tax will not affect a single farmer in South Australia, and the honorable senator knows it.
– I do not know anything of the sort. Here are 3,000,000 acres of land available for settlement - land upon which people can establish, prosperous homes.
– It is not open to them now.
– It will cost £2 or £3 per acre to clear it.
– My honorable friend has always some objection to urge. Only a week ago he was good enough to quote certain passages of Scripture for my benefit.
– I hope that the honorable senator has not forgotten them.
– I believe that he purchased a new Bible in order that he might be in the position to read those passages. The quotation which he made from the 5th chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah, and which reads -
Woe unto them that join house to house, that Jay field to field, till there be no place, “that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth ! carries, I think, its own condemnation. I should like to be permitted to quote a scriptural text for the benefit of my honorable friend. I cannot give him chapter and verse, but somewhere in the book of Exodus he will find this commandment -
Thou shalt not steal.
– I never did.
– The imposition of a progressive land tax is tantamount to stealing, although one may use the more euphonious expression, and say that it is “ confiscation of property.”
– According to the honorable senator any form of taxation is stealing.
– No. Everybody has a right to contribute his fair share of taxation towards tlie government of the country. I would remind Senator W. Russell of yet another scriptural passage which he will find in all the synoptic gospels. It is related that Jesus Christ said to a certain young man “ Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor.” But a progressive land tax means - if it means anything - “ Go thou and sell all that some other people have and give to the community.”
– Not to the community, but to certain individuals.
– I admit that it is possible to take isolated- passages of Scripture and make them prove anything.
– Why does not the honorable senator quote from Leviticus the passage which says “ The land ye must not sell for ever.”
– But the land has been sold, and the State has given the purchasers certificates of title which declare that it is theirs and their heirs for ever.
– Subject to taxation.
– But not subject to taxation which will rob it entirely of its value. In this connexion I am forcibly reminded of a story which I heard some time ago concerning two men who were arguing about the Scriptures. One said to the other, “ I can prove to you that, according to the Bible, you ought to commit suicide.” The other replied, “ Nonsense, the Bible does not teach that.” Then the first speaker said, “Does not the Bible say that Ahithophel went home, put his house in order, and hanged himself.” “ But,” replied his companion, “That proves nothing,” to which the first speaker retorted, “ Yes, but does not the Bible also say, ‘ Go thou and do likewise’ ?” Of course, the argument is not convincing, but it is about as good as some of the scriptural quotations which are made in this Senate. With the proposal of the Ministry to appoint a High Commissioner I heartily agree. It is high time that Australia was properly represented in London, just as are the other over-sea Dominions. I observe in the Ministerial statement of policy a reference to the Northern Territory. The statement is made -
A measure is to be introduced to permit of the better discharge of the national responsibilities of the Commonwealth. Your authorization will be sought for the acceptance of the Northern Territory.
One is naturally led to inquire “ upon what terms?” Is this Territory to’ be acquired upon the terms settled between Mr. Deakin and the South Australian Government some years ago?
– The honorable senator may bet all he owns that it is not.
– I admit that the statement of the Government is somewhat indefinite. Not long ago I was a member of a deputation which waited on the then Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, in Adelaide, for the purpose of asking him whether he would carry the transcontinental railway from Pine Creek- through the centre of the Northern Territory. He declined to pledge himself to do so. “ What I wish to know is whether the Northern Territory is to be taken over by the Commonwealth under the terms of the agreement made with the South Australian Government. If a railway is not to be built from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, we have a right to know how it is intended to- develop the Territory. As far as I can see it can be developed only by the construction of that line. Such a railway is necessary for the purpose of developing the country, as well as for defence purposes. If a line be constructed east of the Territory that will not result in its development. Should the
Commonwealth agree to take over this huge province it must determine not only to develop, but to effectively occupy it.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the South Australian Government should give us some idea of how it can be developed?
– The South Australian Government say that if the Commonwealth wishes to develop it it must build a railway through its centre.
– They want us to develop it in their way.
– They want to see it developed in the best way for the Commonwealth. [Quorum formed.] Quite recently an excellent series of articles written by Mr. Jeffries was published in the Lone Hand. The writer of those articles put the position remarkably well. I* should like to read an extract from one of them in regard to the question of defence. Mr. Jeffries says -
The Commonwealth must be in the position to pour in men by the thousand, and deal out lire and steel to any one who questions the effectiveness- of its occupation. To do this it must build that strategic railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek to connect the Territory with the more populous portions of the Commonwealth, and make it ours in fact as well as in name. Even if the Territory were a desolate waste, “full of devils,” and unhealthy to boot, that railway would be necessary, vital, indispensable to the safety of the Australian nation. But the Territory is not a barren waste, and, in addition to securing something extra in the shape of natural safety, the Commonwealth stands to gain in importance and wealth by linking up the empty province and settling it with a white fighting population. All moneys expended in the taking over and occupying of the Territory would be merely capital invested in a remunerative business. It is a land of immense possibilities. Around its vast’ coastline is a strip of country varying from 80 to ioo miles in width, in which, the rainfall averages over 40 inches per annum, and in some portions of which it averages over 65. This gives a well-watered area of 86,500 square miles, capable of maintaining a population of 30,000,000 or 40,000,000. The island of Java supports 29,000,000 on an area of 50,500 square miles, a large portion of which is rugged mountain, and quite unfit for cultivation. Practically the whole sea-board of the Territory is suitable for cultivation of some sort, and the interior is far from being the sandy desolation it has been painted. In addition to the 86,500 square miles, which average over 40 inches annually, there is another strip of 120,600 square miles which has between 30 and 40 inches annually ; 96,790 square miles with between 20 and 30; 213,430 with between 10 and 20; and 6,300 with less than 10 inches per annum.
– What is the number of white people in Java?
– That is not the point. The point which the writer makes is that Java supports a population of 29,000,000. Unfortunately, there are not many white people in the Northern Territory.
– There never will be until we give them a railway.
– That is so. In another article Mr. Jeffries puts the position remarkably well. He says -
The requirements of our transcontinental line are tremendous, and it is doubtful if there is any other country in the world, except Mexico, where nature has given a route which combines all the essentials of such a railway as does the Oodnadatta to Pine Creek line.
Being a strategic line for the conveyance of troops in war time, it must take the shortest route across the continent. The O.P. Ck. line fills the bill excellently. It crosses the continent at its narrowest part, the distance from water to sea being only 1,638 miles. In considering this matter, it must be remembered that Port Augusta lies over 100 miles north of Sydney, and that Adelaide is only So miles south of the New South Wales capital on exactly the same parallel of latitude as Jervis Bay.
Very often it happens that the shortest route presents so many engineering difficulties that a longer line is more quickly built. But in this case the facts are all the other way. For not only is the Oodnadatta-Pine Creek line the shortest in actual distance, but it starts off with the additional advantage of having 575 miles already constructed, and which can be changed in a few weeks from narrow to broad gauge.
In building a strategic line through a country where there is no population to offer local resistance, and to build up armies by making good the attrition of war, country must be chosen that lends itself to defence. And the only course across Central Australia that does lend itself to defence is that which would be traversed by that same Pine Creek to Oodnadatta line. Of this more anon.
As the best defence is a sturdy and numerous population, extracting its living from the soil, our strategic railway, in addition to providing the shortest route across the continent, and being the line most quickly built, must also be one that will encourage settlement. It should run through country with a good rainfall, and where the land is not alienated in large blocks, and where the Government can hold out inducements to the people to go on the land. And again, the Oodnadatta to Pine Creek line fills the bill. So much has fixture favoured Australia in this respect that it really looks as though the continent had been specially designed by the Defence Department of nature’s creation department.
Those articles are exceedingly well written, and the case is very clearly put. I should have liked to read the whole of them for the edification of honorable senators.
– Most of us have read them.
– I hope that justice is going to be done, not only to South Australia, but to the Territory itself. It should be handled so as to be effectively occupied and thus made valuable for defence purposes. That brings me to the defence proposals of the Government. No reference is made to the Dreadnought question in the Ministerial statement. I said in answer to Senator Findley, a little while ago, that I agree with the statement quoted from the South Australian Register. So I do. But the Commonwealth Government have submitted a proposition to the British authorities. If in reply to that the British Government were to say, “ The very best thing that you can do is to build us a battleship,” I should vote for the proposal, and should personally subscribe all I possibly could towards the fund. Personally, however, I do not think that that is the best thing to do.We can render better assistance in some other way. As the question has been put to the Imperial Government, we have to wait for their answer. We want to know how they think we can best assist them in the defence of the Empire, and in retaining British supremacy at sea. I shall await with much interest the proposals that are made. With regard to the matter of universal military training, and the establishment of an army, my personal opinion is that some modification of the Swiss system would be the best that we could adopt. We could not adopt the Swiss system exactly, because Switzerland is a compact little country, whilst ours is a large one. But the principle is sound.
– The Labour Government’s proposal was a modification of the Swiss system.
– I am pleased to hear it, and should have been glad to support such a proposition. The final paragraph of the Ministerial statement, relating to defence, reads -
Provision for local supplies of small arms and ammunition is being pressed forward in order to diminish dependence of the Commonwealth upon consignments from oversea. Tenders for an ammunition factory, and also for a small arms factory, will be accepteirl as soon as possible.
That is a very sound policy, and I. hope that it will be carried out, so that we shall not be dependent upon outside sources for small arms and equipment. Finance is said, in the Ministerial statement, to be a vital question. A great deal has been said as to the amount which the Commonwealth has paid to the States over and above their three-fourths Customs and Excise revenue. But I have never heard reference made tothe faqt that during the whole of this time the Commonwealth has had the use of some- ^9,000,000 worth of transferred properties for which we have paid nothing.
– It is only fair to point out that the Commonwealth has paid the interest on those properties by the surplus revenue returned to the States.
– A valuation should be made, because without it we do not know the exact cost to the Commonwealth.
– It would only be a bookkeeping entry.
– Exactly. It would have made no difference to the States, but it might have made a difference in respect to the surplus paid over. If the Commonwealth had made the interest payment on the properties instead of the States the debit would have been to the Commonwealth instead of to the States. Mr. Fisher suggested handing over£5,000,000 per annum to the States for all time, with some oddments thrown in. The State Premiers declared that the States could only remain solvent with an income from Customs and Excise of£6, 750,000 per annum. I want to see the Braddon section done away with, and the bookkeeping entries abolished. If the Commonwealth wants to raise one pound in taxation, I do not want to see it compelled to impose taxes to the amount of £4., in order that it may return 7 5 per cent, to the States. If a per capita grant were made to the States - and I suppose that it would be something like 25s. per head- it would allow both the Commonwealth and the States to expand together. As population increased their revenues would increase and the system would be fair, both to the Commonwealth and to the States.
– The per capita revenue does not always increase with an increase of population. In Western Australia as the population increased the per capita pavments decreased.
– I notice in the paragraph in the Ministerial statement, in regard to the Post and Telegraph Office, that there is to be a new departure. It does not sav what the new departure is. If it means borrowing money, I say that is perfectly legitimate for reproductive public works. It is not possible for us to carry out all the works which the Commonwealth will require without raising money bv way of loan, and there is no harm in that system- provided the works themselves are reproductive. I wonder how Australia would have got on if the system of paying for everything out of revenue had been adopted from the commencement in the States. Wc have 16,212 miles of railway, and the cost of building and equipment was £139,988,015. I venture to say that if the railways of the States were sold, what they realized would practically wipe out the debts of the States. But if the States had -said, “ We will not build a railway until we have the revenue to pay for it,” how many miles would have been built? Take the waterworks and the water conservation works that have been carried out. Suppose the States had said, “ We will not do a stroke of this necessary work until we can pay for it out of revenue.” How rauch should we have done? Progress would have been practically impossible.- The same may be said with regard to sewerage and sanitation works. If the States had waited until revenue accumulated, they would have had to wait a very long time. Take industrial operations. Nearly 249,000 people are employed in our industries. The wages paid per annum amount to over £18,000,000.
– Do we borrow money to pay wages?
– No, but suppose that business men had said, “We will not launch out until our accumulated profits enable us to start new works. We will not borrow money to enable us to buy new plant and erect new buildings,” to what extent would our industries have increased? Does not a business man, if he has any enterprise, and sees a good opening for business, go at once to his banker and borrow the necessary money ? As his business develops he pays interest at .5 per cent., or whatever the rate may be, and if he makes five or ten per cent, for himself, he is very well satisfied. A great deal of claptrap is talked with regard to a non-borrowing policy. It will be found eventually to be impossible to carry it out. I do not believe in indiscriminate borrowing. I say distinctly that money ought only to be borrowed for reproductive works. If that is done it is a logical policy. If we are going to erect buildings which will last 50 years or more, why should not those who come after bear some portion of the extra expenditure? They will reap their share of the benefit. I said at the commencement that I should have been glad if the Ministerial statement had been more definite in its terms. I shall have to ‘ wait until the various measures are introduced to determine whether they will receive my absolute support. I hope that we will soon get to business, and that measures will be introduced which will be for the benefit of. the country. I am prepared to judge the Government from their measures. If they are not worth supporting, we will throw them out. If they cannot introduce measures that ought to be passed, they must make way for others who can. But we cannot make up our minds on that point until we have disposed of this preliminary business, and given the Government the opportunity to bring forward their Bills. Upon their measures we shall judge them. I trust that they will be such as will commend them to the support of the Senate generally.
Debate (on motion by Senator E. J. Russell) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 June 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090630_senate_3_49/>.