3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the, leader of the Senate, without notice, if there is any accuracy in a statement which appeared in aLaunceston newspaper of Monday last, to the effect that it is not now the intention of the Treasurer to introduce his Budget until October?
– I have not seen the statement referred to. I shall be glad if the honorable senator will bring it under my notice, or give notice of a question in the usual way.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following papers : -
Post and Telegraph Act 1901 - Cancellation of General Postal Regulation 3 and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 70.
Census and Statistics Act1905 -
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the month of April, 1909.- Bulletin No. 28.
Population and Vital Statistics : Commonwealth Demography, 1908, and previous years. - Bulletin No. 13.
Defence Acts 1903-1904 - Regulation (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. - New Regulation 60A, and Amendment of Regulation 106. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 66.
Debate resumed from 30th June (vide page 591), on motion by Senator Millen -
That the paper (Further correspondence regarding Imperial Naval and Military Conference) be printed.
– In discussing the programme submitted by the present Government one is particularly struck with the fact that it contains little or nothing which gives any hope to the great masses of the people. It distinctly shows a desire to help all classes in Australia save the working classes. There. seems to be hardly any wish on the part of Ministers to even go to the extent of promising that something shall be done in that direction.
– The Labour party say that this programme is merely a copy of what they proposed.
– I am not aware that the Labour party have made that statement, but it is certainly true that the programme includes matters which are common to all parties. I do not, however, propose to occupy time in discussing those items of a national character which are common to all parties and to all persons who desire to see the development of the nation of Australia. I want to discuss more particularly the points wherein parties differ. The programme of the Government has been dividedunder three heads, namely, “ Industrial,” “ Defence,” and “ Finance.” In the first place I find something in the nature of a promise to the workers that there shall be established a Board of Trade, which will be the pivot of several industrial measures or powers. It must be distinctly understood that a clear promise was given to the workers that, whatever party might be in power, they should be allowed to participate in the protection given at the Customs House to manufacturers in the form of receiving increased wages in very many industries. But what do we find? The present Prims Minister had no hesitation whatever in stating that it was a simple question, and was merely a matter of levying an Excise duty or granting a rebate to those manufacturers who observed certain conditions. A little later, however, we found that he was not only willing, but . anxious, to provide new Protection for the workers by an amendment to the Constitution. What do we find to-day ? The workers are promised a levelling up,’ but there is no suggestion to empower the proposed Board of Trade to increase the rate of wages in any industry extending throughout Australia. In this programme it is proposed that wherever there is a conflict between the wages ruling in two States, or in one State and other States, there may be a levelling up, but where a sweating rate exists in any industry’ in all the States no levelling up is even suggested. I could name many industries which are not only receiving protection at the Customs House, but which could not possibly be dealt with under this programme. It contains an item which is of promise to the workers! Referring to the Inter-State Commission, we are told that -
Among its duties will be those of a Federal Labour Bureau, comprising a study of unemployment and of a scheme for insurance against unemployment.
Whilst I shall not be found voting against any scheme to provide for insurance against unemployment, I, as a representative of the working classes, have no enthusiasm to waste on a proposal bf this character. What does that paragraph’ mean ? It is an admission that under the existing system the governing powers of Australia are incompetent to abolish unemployment. The idea of a Government in the twentieth century admitting the fact that .it is beyond their power to provide employment for the men and women of the country is certainly some- thing’ new, and very significant. Why do men work ? They toil to produce wealth. In turn, the distribution of that wealth means material comfort to the workers. The value to the Commonwealth of ti worker in regular employment has been variously estimated. It should be the duty of every Government in Australia to see that the whole of the workers are given employment by .which they may be able to maintain themselves and their families, and add to the material prosperity of the country. However, in spite of the numbers behind them, the present Government apparently confess that it is quite impossible, under any proposal they are able to submit, to abolish unemployment. That may be satisfactory to workers of the class whom Senator Walker lias referred to ; but it will not be satisfactory to the thousands of unemployed in Australia to-day. I regret that the Government should be so hopeless of satisfactory results from their programme. It will not give any satisfaction to those who are unemployed in Australia to-day- to learn that the Government confess their inability to abolish the causes of unemployment.
– How is the casual labourer to be provided for under the Government’s scheme?
– I do not propose to enter upon a discussion of details. I merely say that the present Coalition Government hold out no hope to the workers that they will be able to abolish unemployment. The confession is somewhat unlike the Leader of the present Government, who, in the past, whatever pro’posals he may have submitted, has always been prepared with plenty of promises calculated to delude the people. Wherever in the Ministerial statement there is a reference to the appointment of a Board of Trade, the development of markets, the appointment of a High Commissioner, or to any matter affecting the interests of the trading and manufacturing sections of the community, the Government say, distinctly, that they are going to do something. But in every reference to a matter affecting the workers, they say that they are going to. study it. No doubt they will continue to promise and go on studying measures which would be of advantage to the workers who, in the meantime, will be permitted to starve. Side by side with the admission by the Government that ‘they are unable to suggest anything which will abolish unemployment, the unemployed will derive little satisfaction from the’ following 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.
The Fisher programme, enunciated at Gympie, was. described by the present Prime Minister as “a pious aspiration.” What sort of a pious aspiration is it to express a hope that the State Governments, who have hitherto refused to co-operate with the Federal authorities in the matter of immigra- lion, will now do so by making lands available for persons who might be induced to come to Australia. So far, the State Governments have shown little desire to make lands available, not merely for immigrants, but for those who are in Australia at the present time. Only yesterday, in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, Mr. Cotter, the. honorable member for Richmond, brought under the notice of that body the case of a man who was deluded into coming to this country by statements made by a responsible officer in the employ of the Victorian Government. That man, apparently, is now to be left by the same State Government to starve in Melbourne. This is the kind of thing which the present Federal Government is going to propose for the benefit of the workers of Australia. Under the heading of “ Industrial,” I also find reference to some measures, which would have been proceeded with had there been no change of Government. No matter what Government may be in power, I hope that the measure proposed to reduce the qualification of residents for obtaining a,n old-age pension from twenty-five to twenty years, will be carried. I can safely say that had the Fisher Government remained in office, such a measure would have teen amongst the very first introduced this session. Some little time ago, the present Minister of Trade and Customs, as Leader of the Government ‘in- the Senate, introduced the Australian Industries Preservation Bill. At that time, there was no doubt in the mind of Mr. Deakin, or in the mind of Senator Best, that the proposed law would be effective. Some of us raised such doubt, and we were told that there was not the slightest doubt that the : measure, if passed, would prevent the development of trusts in Australia. Since that time the Australian Industries Preservation Act has been tested and found wanting. What is the position of the Government to-day? Do the present Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs undertake, as they did twelve months ago, to abolish, trusts and prevent their development in Australia? No, today they propose the introduction of a Bill providing for the prohibition of inequitable rebates by trusts and combines. What does this mean? It means that the Government acknowledge to-day that they are unable to prevent the development of trusts. Instead of amending the existing Act, or introducing a new and more drastic measure to prevent the development of trusts in Australia, the Government are going to permit the existence of trusts, and will merely prevent them from granting rebates.
– The power to grant rebates is the most powerful weapon in the hands of the trusts.
– Whatever may be the most powerful weapon In the hands of the trusts, Mr. Deakin was quite confident, and Senator Best was absolutely sure, that the Australian Industries Preservation Act would be effective to prevent the development of trusts.
– I hope the honorable senator will quote exactly what I said, and will not give merely his own free translation of what I said.
– I find nothing in the Ministerial statement before us to indicate that the Government intend to prevent trusts from coming into operation in Australia. We know that there are many differences of opinion existing between members of the present Government, and even between the two representatives of the Government in the Senate. We can only judge of what the Government intend tq do by the statement put before us, and there is nothing in it to indicate that they are really going to tackle the trusts problem at all. In another paragraph of the statement we are informed that’ the Government are going in for a new departure. The expression is somewhat Deakinesque. One member of the Cabinet, .who has been touring Victoria, advocated as strongly as he could the borrowing of money by the Commonwealth, but in this Ministerial statement the Government make reference only to a “ new departure.” Why do they not intimate that they intend to commit the Commonwealth to a borrowing policy? I have no hesitation in saying that if in the interim a strong public opposition to such a policy be developed, the Government will find some other method of explaining what is now familiarly known as “a new departure.” Then, when they are asked why they have departed from their announced policy they will be ready with the solemn assurance that the “new departure” did not refer to any borrowing proposal whatever. It is rather remarkable that some members of the Government are being permitted to wander throughout the Commonwealth advocating a policy which their colleagues do not indorse.
Nor are indications wanting that the Ministry are not very serious in regard to their financial proposals. Apparently they desire to temporarily postpone the submission of their financial scheme in the pious hope that in the meantime they may be able to reconcile the differences which exist between them. If that is not the position, I am quite unable to understand-
– Hear, hear !
– If that is not the position I am quite unable to understand why there should be any delay in dealing with this vital question after 1910. The Vice-President of the Executive Council interjected just now “Hear, hear.” I am not quite clear whether1 he meant to convey the idea that the reason which I advanced was correct, or whether he sarcastically meant that my statement that I was quite “ unable to understand “ was correct.
– Hear, hear !
– I thank my honorable friend for his “Hear, hear,” and in reply, wish to say that the fact that I am unable to understand does not in any way reflect upon my intelligence. If anybody were to ask me what the VicePresident of the Executive Council had advocated in the past, I should be able to tell him.
– Show me where there is any discrepancy between what I have advocated in the past and the document which the honorable senator holds in his hand.
– In the same way, if I were asked whether I could understand what the Minister of Trade and Customs has advocated in the past, I should have no hesitation in answering “ yes.” But I cannot reconcile the hybrid proposals which have emanated from both those gentlemen. T regret that Senator Trenwith is not present, but that is scarcely my fault, as I have previously intimated that I had a few remarks to make concerning him. Among the very modest members of this Chamber-
– There are a few.
– Among the very modest members of this Chamber is Senator Trenwith. I have heard one or two claims made by honorable senators, but I had no idea that the Senate contained such an intellectual giant as Senator Trenwith until I heard him1 make the rather astounding statement the other night, that so great was the gulf between his own men-, tal ability and that of Senator Findley, that he had accomplished more in a single hour than Senator Findley could achieve in a thousand years. That modest declaration reminds me of a public meeting which I heard Senator -Trenwith address at Ballarat some time ago, a.t which he affirmed that he had practically brought the Labour party into existence, and that he had maintained it for years, although subsequently he claimed that he had accomplished more than all the members of the Labour party combined. As is well known, Ballarat is a strong Liberal constituency, but, despite this fact, Senator Trenwith received only about two votes in it for every five cast in favour of the Labour party, thus evidencing that his innate modesty is really very helpful to us.
– The honorable senator must remember that he is a Victorian.
– I do recollect that fact, but J do not think that he contains the best elements of the best Victorians. Senator Trenwith, who claims to have accomplished so much for labour, occupies rather a peculiar position, in that he failed to vote for, and even urged the withdrawal of, a proposal made in this Chamber by Senator Findley for the application to the distilling industry of the new Protection. Senator Trenwith used all his persuasive powers to induce Senator Findley to withdraw that proposal, but without avail. What was the result? When the division was taken this great champion of labour was absent and did not record his vote.
– And where was the Minister of Trade and Customs?
– He was absent, as usual.
– The honorable senator should not be so eloquent .on the subject of absences, because it is a game at which two can play.
– I have no objection to the Vice-President of the Executive Council playing it against me if he can. I have never been absent from this chamber when any question upon which I was pledged to my constituents was- under consideration, or when any proposal affecting the ‘ welfare of the masses was being discussed. The Excise Tariff (Spirits) Act was placed upon the statute-book in the face of direct opposition on the part of the Deakin Government. Both Senator Play- ford and Senator Keating, who represented the Government in this Chamber at the time, voted against the measure, notwithstanding that the Administration to which they belonged subsequently claimed - for the purpose of securing what votes they could from the labouring classes - that they were the great exponents of the new Protection. The award given by the Minister of Trade and Customs inconnexion with the employes in the distilling industry was of the most literal character. ‘lt was the first occasion upon which clerical workers had had their wages regulated by law throughout the Commonwealth. Yet Senator Trenwith, the great champion of labour, who has done more for the workers in one hour than Senator Findley could accomplish in a thousand years, did not take the trouble even to vote upon that measure. At all events, Senator Findley can say, “ I have succeeded in carrying a law in the Commonwealth which did materially improve the condition of _ the workers, and which did bring comfort to the homes of some people “ ; whilst Senator Trenwith can only say that he neglected his duty, and failed to stand up for his principles. Senator Trenwith may take refuge behind the fact that the provision in question was declared unconstitutional by the High Court.
– It was not so declared. The point has never been decided.
– At all events, the Government have ceased to administer the Act, believing it to be unconstitutional.
– And the wages have been reduced.
– In some cases they have been, but the wages have not gone back to the figure at which they previously stood, when the mein worked very long hours for very small remuneration. It may interest honorable senators if I’ read ‘the following letter which I have received from Dr. Wollaston, the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs -
All instructions issued under the Excise Tariff Aci 1906 relating to wages paid by distillers were withdrawn on the 7th July, 1908. At the same time, I believe these wages are still being paid by Joshua’s, and, I fancy, other ‘ distillers.
Honorable senators opposite know Joshua, who is the chief of their party at the present time. Whether that Act was constitutional or not, Senator Findley, by means of it, succeeded in securing a permanent increase of the wages of the men engaged in the industry in the State of Victoria, whilst this great power, this creator of the Labour movement, Senator Trenwith, did absolutely nothing to bring about this improved condition of things. Now I wish to deal with a few notes upon Senator Trenwith’s speech of last week. I was astounded at the honorable senator’s attitude and bearing. It was my good fortune to arrive in this great and marvellous city of Melbourne on a very memorable day in the history of “the workers of Australia. It was during the great maritime strike, which was largely organized and controlled by the same honorable senator. . I was but a boy then, but I can remember a. few incidents very well. One of my recollections is of walking through Melbourne, to Flinders Park and seeing armed men in the streets. These armed men had been called out at the instance of the present Prime Minister of Australia. They had instructions from their chief, Colonel Price, to “Fire low and lay them OUt. After a while I reached the scene of a great meeting. There was one man then who stood out as the champion of the workers. The impression which I received at that time has never been wiped out of my memory. Senator Trenwith then declared the right of men to organize, to strike, and to fight to obtain just conditions of labour. He urged the workers to organize both politically and industrially. When the capitalists at that period asked why workers struck, and why they did not send representatives to Parliament, among the earliest advocates of that policy was Senator Trenwith. He was elected, and advocated the claims of the workers in the Legislative Assembly of this State. Having thus become a champion of Labour, he now claims that he created the Parliamentary Labour party. It must be admitted that he occupied at that time probably the highest position that it was possible for the workers of this country to confer upon him. I believe that he enjoyed the absolute confidence of every worker in Australia. We subsequently found him leading a party of very earnest men, some of them extremely able advocates of the Labour cause. The honorable senator alleges that he never left the Labour party.
– Hear. hear.
– But that the Labour party left him.
– Hear, hear.
– When Senator Trenwith resigned his position of Leader of the Labour party in the State of Victoria, it was confidently believed, even if there was no absolute vote, that he was entering a Cabinet to represent the workers of Victoria.
– But there was an absolute vote. There was a vote of thanks for past services, and of congratulation on my becoming a member of the Cabinet.
-I am glad to hear that that was so. That strengthens my statement that the honorable senator went into the Cabinet as a Labour man to advocate Labour principles.
– Hear, hear.
– But what was his position then? He permitted himself to be committed to proposals with which I know he did not agree. He allowed his own political principles to be compromised by a Ministry which was amongst the failures of Victorian political history.
– To which principles does the honorable senator refer?
– Since the honorable senator asks me, I will give the exact facts. The Government of which he was a member, but in which, nevertheless, he was still supposed to be an advocate of labour; actually introduced a Bill relating to old-age pensions, reducing the then existing pension from1ds. to 7s. per week.
– The honorable senator is very ill-informed. His statement is altogether wrong. There was no pension at all at that time. The Act had lapsed four or five- months before.
– If there is to be a splitting of straws, I shall indicate what look place.
– That is right.
– An Old-age Pensions Act had been in existence in Victoria, under which the maximum pension payable was 10s. per week. I understand that that Act was limited in its operation. At the end of the period for which it was enacted, it was necessary to introduce a new Bill, which, however, was practically a measure to continue the old Act. The new Bill was introduced by the Liberal Government of which the honorable senator was a member. But they did not propose to continue the old-age pension of 10s.per week. They actually proposed to cut down the amount to 7s. per week. The honor able senator voted for the payment of a pension of 7s. Mr. Kirton, the member for Ballarat West, if I recall the facts rightly, moved to strike out the word “ seven,” with the intention of substituting “ten.” Senator Trenwith voted against that proposal. Then the Liberal. Government, which, like most Liberal Governments, was as tricky as possible, moved to insert the word “ eight.” Again the honorable senator, when he could, not secure a pension of 7s. per week, voted for a pension of 8s. as against a pension of 10s.
– But we got the oldage pension.
– We secured an old-age pension of 8s. a week instead of10s.
– We got an old-age pension of 8s. a week instead of nothing.
– I ask the honorable senator to tell me-
– I cannot tell the honorable senator now, but I will byandby.
– I know what the honorable senator wants to say, and that is that the Upper House would not pass the old-age pensions. If it would not pass them then, why did it pass them for the Turner Government?
– The honorable senator ought to know that the first Bill proposed a pension of 7s. per week, as in New Zealand. Being near Christmas, it was interjected : “ Oh, it is Christmastime, give them10s. a week this time.” It was only an experiment. It was not passed as a pension of10s. per week. The original proposal was a pension of 7s. a week, and just as a good-natured act at Christmas time, as it was only a tentative measure, the pension was made10s. a week.
– Am I to understand that the honorable senator suggests that it was a good-natured act which offered10s. a week as a pension?
– That is the fact, and if the honorable senator will look up the record, he will find that it is so.
– Good nature indeed ! I have always understood, and regret to learn otherwise, that the honorable senator advocated an old-age pension as the just right of every individual, Yet he says that the Assembly allowed a pension of 10s. a week to go through in good nature. I have never heard of the Conservatives in any Parliament doing anything of that kind before through good nature. If Conservatives in Victoria goodnaturedly granted 3s. a week more than they would otherwise have done, what becomes of the honorable senator’s claim that they would not have voted10s. a week as good-naturedly as 7 s. or 8s.? There is no justification for saying that the Upper House, which voted10s. a week on one occasion, would not have voted similarly, on another occasion. At all events, if the honorable senator had been the strong earnest advocate that he had been in previous years, of the right of old people, he would have said first : “ Let us try for a pension of10s. a week. If the Upper House will not pass that, we will have to accept the inevitable.” Can he refer me to any speech which he made on those lines at that time?
– The honorable senator meekly permitted his political opinion to be compromised by belonging to a Government of that description. I want to deal now with a few points of the address he delivered here the other day. Of course, it is impossible for me to deal with the whole of his speech. In the few notes I took, I have tried to preserve intact his exact meaning. I trust that he will not think for a moment that I desire to misrepresent his views. From the position he is now occupying, he said -
When we dispersed for the recess, I was sitting here in conjunction with the supporters of the Labour party. My honorable friends know that my sympathies during the whole of my political life have been with the aspirations of the Labour party.
I, with other honorable senators, thought that his aspirations had been with the Labour party. I was led to believethat we could rely upon him for absolute support of all ideals of Labour. But what is the use of aspirations? Though I do not want to rob the honorable senator of credit for his share of the work he did in creating the Labour party, I would point out that other men have given more time and thought, and done much more practical work than he has ever done in that direction. Let me, in all friendliness, ask him this question. Apart from the fact that he worked and spoke on behalf of certain principles, in common with other persons, what record has he to show that he accomplished anything in the form of legislation beyond that secured by the indirect pressure which the Labour party has brought to bear upon various Governments? I heard the honorable senator claim that he was the first person to bring into existence in Victoria the minimum rate of wage. It is certainly true that he was the first to move in that direction, but he should have been just to his colleagues, as he expects them to be just to him in return. Is it not a fact that he was invited in the name of the Labour party to move in that direction ?
– Is it not a fact that one man - the present Leader of the Victorian Labour party - had specialized on the subject for two years, had searched the records, and had ascertained where the principle operated in Australia, Europe, and America? Is it not a fact that the Labour party invited the honorable senator to take up the principle with a view to its enactment?
– It is a fact that it was very nearly lost through the action of the present Leader of the Labour party.
– On that occasion the honorable senator used matter which it had taken another person two years to collect, and if he was successful in his effort it was only at the behest of the Labour party, who did their duty to him as leader by asking him tomove in advocacy of this great principle. But it is not fair for him to say “Alone I did it.” He only did what was his duty as leader of the party.
– I do not claim any more than that.
– The honorable senator made the modest claim that he had done more in an hour than Senator Findley would do in a thousand years.
– I believe that that is correct.
– I regret that the honorable senator was not present a few moments ago, when I tried, and, I believe, successfully tried, to prove that Senator Findley had as his record the establishment of new Protection, which the honorable senator tried to induce him to withdraw from.
– What was new Protection?
– New Protection in the distillery trade.
– If it is a matter of getting proper wages for the men, I have been doing that for thirty years. That is not new.
– The honorable senator has been advocating that.
– And I have been successful.
– When the honorable senator had a practical opportunity to vote on new Protection, did he cast a vote? Certainly not. When an amending Bill was before the Senate, and T moved for the exclusion of lawyers - who, by the way, received nearly .£900 from the unfortunate agricultural implement workers - was it Senator Findley or Senator Trenwith who asked me to withdraw from that position? It was the latter.
– I think that the position is an unsound one. I do not think that you could get on without lawyers. You want them more than the other fellows.
– I withdraw from the position, since I understand that the honorable senator is an advocate of industrial laws with lawyers to run the show.
– Judges are intrusted with that now, and, if Judges, why not lawyers?
– It is not by the wish of any, recognised Labour organization, and if it be the wish of Senator Trenwith that lawyers should appear in such cases, he does not hold the views which the Labour party throughout Australia hold in that regard. In a friendly sort of. way he ventured the following remarks: -
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 the effort to remove them from office should not be made.
That is puzzling. It reminds me of the phrase which the Prime Minister applies to industrial affairs ; it is a little complex. We are thankful that he strove to prevent the fusion of parties being effected. Why did he make that effort? Was it because in his opinion the programme of the Labour party was sound or unsound ? I take it that it was because he considered that our programme was a sound one. Did he believe that the enactment of the principles enunciated at Gympie would be beneficial to Australia ? If he did, then he only did his duty in trying to prevent the Fisher Government from being dispossessed. But what do we find? While the great Demo cratic party to which he claims to belong,, those who are known in this State as the “ good as Labour men,” have accused the members of the Labour party from time to time - I do not say that Senator Trenwith has - of bartering their conscience in the caucus, will he say why he sits on the other side, why he is prepared to give any support to the Coalition Government?
– I think I said why the other evening.
– Presently I will state the honorable senator’s reason. In view of the fact that his action at the caucus meeting indicated his belief that at that period the Fisher Government was the best one for Australia, that is an admission from his own lips that he has betrayed his principles to abide by the majority decision of the so-called Liberal party. I do not blame the honorable senator for abiding bv a majority decision, because I do not think that there is any room for individuals in our system of party government. Knowing that he believes in party government, and expressed his belief at the Federal Convention, I do not blame him. I only want to make it quite clear that it is impossible for him to belong to the ‘so-called Liberal party, to the fusion party, and at the same time to claim the allegiance, the confidence, and the trust of the members of the Labour party. This is what he said -
There was, I understood, a desire on the part of those who were in direct opposition to coalesce with the Deakin party, as the -Labour party had coalesced with the Opposition to put the Deakin party out.
Did the honorable senator intend to convey that there was a distinct co-operative effort on the part of the Labour party and the then direct Opposition ?
– Only during the time of the vote. That is all I claimed, and that same sort of coalition was sought again to put out the Labour party.
– Not the same sort.
– Exactly the same sort - a vote of no-confidence, with no agreement or alliance, simply to put out the Government.
– The first vote was not given in that way at all. It was a vote upon a distinct clause of the Bill, and the effect was to put the Government out.
– -Both parties joined in a vote against the Government.
– The last vote was given to put the Labour party out.
– I am not speaking of the last vote, but of what occurred last session.
– One was a distinct attempt on the part of the Labour party to show clearly to the people of Australia that they were no longer associated and co-operating with the Deakin party. The then Opposition, purely for reasons of their own, and certainly not because of any sympathy with the Labour programme, joined in as a tail to the Labour party for the shortspace of about three minutes.
– When was that?
-When the direct Opposition of the day joined with the Labour party to put the Deakin Government out.
– Does the honorable senator refer to last session?
– But that was all arranged between Mr. Deakin and Mr. Fisher.
- Senator Trenwith has said that the coalition between the Labour party and the then Oppositionled by Mr. Joseph Cook was the same kind of coalition as that between the Deakin party and that led by Mr. Joseph Cook to-day.
– If the honorable senator will read my remarks, he will find that I said no such thing. I spoke of what took place last session, and of something else that it was proposed should take place last session.
-I am afraid that the honorable senator has forgotten what he said. These are the words he used -
There was, I understood, n. desire on the pnrt of those who were in direct Opposition to coalesce with the Deakin party as the latter party had coalesced with the Opposition to put the Labour party out.
– Yes, that was last session.
– But the statement is notcorrect all the same.
– Yes, the position was exactly the same.
SenatorE. J. RUSSELL.- There was nothing in common between the direct Opposition to which the honorable senator refers and the Labour party. If that Opposition chose to join with the Labour partv in displacing the Deakin Government, it was certainly not with the intention of keeping a Labour Government in power.
– Or of putting a Labour Government into power.
– Or of putting a Labour Government into power. But the present fusion or coalition was premeditated. The negotiations to bring it about had been going on for four months at least.
– I am not talking of the present coalition, as the honorable senator must know. I was talking of what was sought to be done last session.
– I understood that the honorable senator was speaking of those who expelled the Fisher Government from office.
– No, I was speaking of what happened last session.
-I may have misrepresented the honorable senator, but if he will carefully read his own words he will admit that there is no attempt on my part to do him any injustice, or to put upon them a construction which the words he used will not bear.
– I am sure of that, but I am pointing out that the honorable senator was in error.
– I accept the honorable senator’s assurance, but it did seem to me that the statement he made was incorrect. Another statement made by the honorable senator is as follows -
The grounds on which the alliance was sought to be made was that the Opposition had agreed to a very large number of the views which I have held for many years, and which honorable senators opposite hold, and have held for years.
I ask Senator Trenwith to bear with me for a moment whilst I endeavour to explain what this really means. Senator Trenwith has advocated for many years political action on the part of the trade unions. As recently as seven or eight weeks ago, he advocated equality of payment for services rendered irrespective of sex. He has always been a militant trade unionist. He has held ideals in sympathy with those of the Labour party, and yet in all sincerity the honorable senator now tells the Senate, the people of Australia, and particularly the people of Victoria, that the men who are to-day sitting behind the Deakin Government desire to form an alliance in sympathy with many of the views which he and members of the Labour party have held for many years.
– That is their allegation. I wish to give them an opportunity of proving it; apparently the honorable senator does not.
– The honorable senator is willing to accept their word that they intend to do these things?
– No, no.
– Let me put the position to the honorable senator in another way. For many years he was associated with the Trades’ Hall Council, arid was a worthy and respected member of that institution.
– I am’ still.
– I am not saying that the honorable senator is not. I speak of the time when he was actively associated with that body. Suppose the men who are now professing to support the Deakin Government had come to the honorable senator and said : “ We are in sympathy with your ideals and with the objects of your trade unions.” That would be an allegation that they were in sympathy with the ideals and objects of the honorable senator and the trade unions; but would he, because, of th’at allegation, trust those men, and ask them to come inside the unions and the Labour organization?
– Yes, I would.
– I can only say that I would not. I trust the day is far distant when the members of the Employers’ Federation will be permitted to enter the trade unions. When they are the trade unions will come to an end, as Senator Trenwith with his great experience must know.
– Personally, I am always glad of a convert from anywhere.
– As I have already said, no man exercised a greater influence over me in my earlier days than did the honorable senator. I do not think that the attitude which I take up in politics to-day is one whit more advanced or more uncompromising than that assumed by Senator Trenwith in past years. The honorable senator is not the type of man to listen to plausible expressions of sympathy with his ideals. He has been a strong individual fighter for his principles. Can we believe that this strong fighter, who has for a quarter of a century at least been fighting against the Employers’ Federation, Conservatives, Free Traders, and anti-new Protection men, is prepared to-day, when they have practically been whipped by him and others into their present position -
– If they submit, have I not done right?
– Are we to believe that, because these men have told the honorable senator they are willing to indorse his views for the progress of Australia, he is willing to accept their word? Does the honorable senator believe, to quote a typical case, that Mr. W. H. Irvine is going to co-operate with him in carrying out the principles which Senator Trenwith has advocated in common with the Labour party for many years?
– I say that if Mr. Irvine says he is willing to do so, let him come and do it.
– ff Mr. W. H. Irvine said it to me a thousand times [ would not trust him. Senator Trenwith has before now tackled some big jobs in the interests of the people, but I am afraid he will tackle the biggest job he ever took in hand when he sets out to convince the people whom he has so much impressed in the past that he is to-day co-operating for the benefit of the working man with the Chairman of the Employers’ Federation and men like Mr. W. H. Irvine.
– I have done that before. I co-operated with Mr. Bruce Smith when he was Chairman of the Employers’ Federation to initiate arbitration proposals that, were adopted by the Trades Hall Council, and that operated effectively for some years.
– If I were in the position of adviser to the honorable senator, I should ask him not to tell the electors of Victoria that he was cooperating with Mr. Bruce Smith to secure for them the benefits of the new Protection. Speaking of the division which took place in the caucus of the Deakin party, the honorable senator said -
If the division on which I voted in the minority had been taken in this chamber I should have been sitting on the other side of the House when the vote was taken.
That is to say, that if the division had been taken in the Senate, the honorable senator would have voted for the Labour Government.
– Hear, hear.
– Is the honorable senator to-day sitting in active cooperation with those who formed or supported the Labour Government, or is he prepared to give a reasonable trial to the. Fusion Government? If the honorable senator did not believe in, and strenuouslyvoted against, the fusion, and if he would have voted for the Labour Government, had it been possible to take the vote in this chamber, and if he admits that, against the dictates of his own judgment and conscience, he voted in a caucus that was not the caucus of the Labour party, he must further admit that he was a member of a caucus sufficiently powerful to compel him to vote against his own judgment and conscience.
– Which is the vote I gave against my own conscience?
– Has not the honorable senator indicated that he intends to give a general support to the Fusion Government.
– I intend to vote for their proposals to initiate the new Protection.
– But not to support the Government.
– I intend to vote for the measures I have always advocated.
– To support the Government when they are right.
– Weare prepared to do that, but that is not the kind of support they want.
– I can only say that Senator Trenwith has a peculiar way of supporting a Government. On one or two convenient occasions, when acting as Whip to the last Deakin Government, the honorable senator’s back was very prominent when the division bells were ringing. I need not mention specific instances, because the honorable senator is aware that what I say is only tpo true. If that is the kind of support he intends to give the Fusion Government, they will find him a very candid friend, whose support will not be of very much use to them.
– I have always been tolerably candid, and I shall not be less so in the future.
– The honorable senator said, further - referring to the Labour Government -
I have not left them. They are not in office. If they were on this side I should be found sitting behind them.
The honorable senator said that he cannot support the Labour party, because they are not in office.
– I did not say any such thing. I cannot support their measures, because they are not here to propose them.
– Does the honorable senator contend that under the party system of government he cannot sup port a party unless they are in power? Does he not know that from the Opposition benches he could give a general support to the party in opposition, and by his speeches so educate the people as to convert a present minority into a future majority? Does he mean to say that he must continually sit on the other side, giving a general support to whatever Government may be in power?
– I have done that for six years. There have been several Governments in office since I have been here, and I have never shifted my seat.
– But the honorable senator will admit that he is now in the worst company in which he has been during the six years.
-i do not wish to offend anybody.I am not going to make any admissions.
– Perhaps it would be just as well that the honorable senator should not make admissions.
– The honorable senator will find that my actions will justify me.
– I only hope that Senator Trenwith will discover the mistake he has made, and that the day is not far distant when he will desert the camp in which, I am sure, he unwillingly finds himself. He further said -
I have said that the major portion of the Labour party’s programme as presented bv Mr. Fisher at Gympie met with my indorsement.
I know - and most honorable senators know - that Senator Trenwith does indorse the major portion of that programme. But I should like to ask, “ What are the portions which he does not indorse?” He has given the Senate no information upon that point. Does he not agree with the imposition of a progressive land tax?I am aware that he has been an ardent advocate of a land tax for years-
– All my life.
– But I do not know that he is in favour of the imposition of a Federal land tax?
– I advocated it at the last election.
– Then I am unable to understand the portion of the Gympie programme to which the honorable senator objects. From his silence I can only infer that he agrees with the whole of that programme. If that be so, why is he not upon this side of the Senate, assisting to eject from office those who will not make that policy the law of the country? No accusation of maladministration has ever been levied against the Fisher Government - it was simply the Gympie programme, with the prospect of a progressive land tax, which brought about their downfall. If Senator Trenwith indorses the whole of that programme there must have been betrayal in his heart when he agreed to support the present Administration. The Government have intimated, as distinctly as the Deakinesque language employed in the Ministerial statement will permit one to interpret it, that they intend to initiate a borrowing policy. Senator Trenwith does not believein a borrowing policy. Yet he is willing to support the retention in office of a Government that will - if the necessary numbers can be secured - make the Commonwealth the seventh borrower in Australia. During the course of his speech a few days ago, Senator Trenwith said -
A paper currency -
I take it that he meant thepaper currency advocated by Mr. Fisher at Gympie - would have obviated the necessity for a borrowing policy.
– That is merely another form of borrowing.
– If it were another form of borrowing, and the Government favoured borrowing, why did the majority of the colleagues of the VicePresident of the Executive Council squeak so much if borrowing was a part of the Labour Government’s policy?
– Senator Findley has given one verv good reason.
– And the Vice-President of the Executive Council knows the others. In reply to an interjection by Senator McGregor, Senator Trenwith said -
My honorable friend knows, or I think he ought to know, at any rate, that there are very few political differences between him and me. I am as anxious as he can possibly be to see many of the democratic views in which I believe embodied in the statute-book of the Commonwealth,
Now, I wonder what the great body of trade unionists - many of whom voted for Senator Trenwith at the last election - I wonder what the poor peasant farmers and the despairing landless would think, if Senator McGregor were to vacate his position as Leader of the Opposition and cross the floor of the Senate to keep company with the Conservatives upon the other side? Yet Senator Trenwith, who claims to hold similar views to those entertained by Senator McGregor, has actually done this thing, and believes that he can justify it in the interests of progress, Democracy and honest government. I do not believe that it would be possible for either of those gentlemen to justify any such action. The electors, I think, will take a more serious view of the matter-
– The honorable senator fears that they will not.
– Time will tell. Though nobody would miss the good social company of Senator Trenwith more than I should, we must recollect that we are here to advocate political principles. If Senator Trenwith, after having been returned to give statutory effect to certain political principles, chooses to commit those principles to the custody of political baby-farmers in the persons of the Government of to-day-
– The Government are baby-farmers in that they will take very good care that the political infants which Senator Trenwith has assisted to create will not reach maturity. Only the other day Senator Gray said that honorable senators did not realize that it was possible for some of them to think more of Australia than of their own individual opinions. What did his statement mean? Was it not a distinct admission that some honorable senators’ have sacrificed their political principles? Senator Gray was one of those who insisted upon having a. free hand upon the fiscal question. That being the case, is Senator Trenwith quite sure that he has secured a free hand in regard to Protection which he has advocated for so many years? And if both those gentlemen are at liberty to exercise a free hand upon the fiscal question, what about the difficulties that will be created when we come to seriously consider Tariff anomalies ? I can quite understand a man reaching a stage at which it becomes manifest to him that he has been working upon wrong lines, and when accordingly he becomes converted, but I cannot understand a great body of men who have been students of political history for many years becoming converted holus-bolus to the political ideas entertained by Senator Trenwith.
– Is not the honorable senatorglad?
– I should be if it were possible for me to believe in their sincerity.
– Then, why does not the honorable senator hasten to give them an opportunity to prove their sincerity ?
– I should have hastened but for the delay occasioned by the remarks of Senator Trenwith. Before the advent of the present Government there were three parties in this Parliament - the Liberal party, the wreckage of various other parties, and the Labour party. By his silence Senator Trenwith has indorsed the whole of the programme of the Fisher Government. Some of the members of the so-called Democratic party to which he claims to belong evidently believe that that programme would not be a bad thing if they were only secure in their seats. But, as evidencing how sincere they are in their belief that it is in the best interests of the country, we find Senator Trenwith, and the whole of his party, now in the grip of those who have .for years fought so vigorously against every ideal formerly held by them:. Can Senator ‘Trenwith indicate one principle which made him a power in Victoria, one ideal, one plank in his platform which the majority of the supporters of the present Government have not consistently opposed? I know of none. Consequently, there must be a big sacrifice of principle, and that being so, I take it that the minority, and not the majority, will be called upon to make the sacrifice.
– Does it mean that Senator Trenwith has become fused ?
– I am afraid that the fuse will be burning during the next few months, and that about March next it will reach the powder. Then some persons will, go up. I am not sure that they will be. the Conservatives who represent Conservative seats, or Labour men, who represent Labour constituencies. Probably they will be those who are sitting on a rail in Labour constituencies, because they will not obtain ‘ the Conservative vote. Let me conclude by’ asking Senator Trenwith, as ex-Leader of the Labour party, and one of the men who assisted to create and maintain it for years, how he can justify his claim that he did not leave the party, but that the party left him? To-day he says, in effect: “I believe in the ideals of the Labour party, and in the principles embodied in Mr. Fisher’s manifesto at Gympie.” May 1 ask him, then, why the
Labour party left him if they still hold the same ideals and principles as he does ?
– The only difference between the Labour party and myself is that I never did, and never would, sign any pledge for them. 1 was their leader for ten years under those conditions.
– I merely want to do justice to the honorable senator, and I am glad that he has indicated what his difference with the Labour party really is. But I believe that Senator Trenwith will admit that if that was the only difference it was not so great that it should drive him into the bosom of the inveterate enemies of the Labour party. Let me ask him this : If Senator Trenwith believes in the principles of the Labour party,, if it be true, as he claims, that he never hit back at the Labour party, if it be true that men have shouted “Traitor !” to him in the street, and that he silently bore all this without hitting back-
– The honorable senator knows that it is true.
– How can T know it is true, when the honorable senator himself has, to my knowledge, gone into the constituencies and assisted the opponents of the Labour party? Never hit back ?
– “No, never.
– What is the meaning of “hitting back ‘ ‘ ? The honorable senator has toured this country, assisting our opponents. Though I cannot say that he has specifically opposed me, yet he has generally taken the platform of those who were opposing me at the election, and he has opposed many other Labour members.
– When”; and where?
– Did not the honorable member take the platform at the last Federal elections?
– In favour of Protection. I understood that the honorable ‘ senator was a Protectionist.
– Did the honorable senator say a. word indicating that I or any of my colleagues was a good Protectionist ?
– Did he treat our opponents as good Protectionists?
– Ah, yes; the honorable senator said from the public platform that our opponents were the only Protectionists in the right.
– In this, Chamber the honorable senator did not always vote for the highest Protection that might be secured. Repeatedly the Labour party was defeated bv two votes, and sometimes by three, and the three who beat us on many occasions were the three members of the Deakin party.
– It is quite impossible to say just now whether that statement is correct or not. It is quite possible that it is correct) and it might have been in the interest of Protection to vote against a high duty on a particular occasion.
– The excuse at the time was that a compromise had been arrived at between the Protectionists and the Free Traders in another House.
– Was not that a sufficient reason?
– It shows that the honorable senator had been practising unfaithfulness to principles for some years past. I wish to say, in conclusion, that I had no desire whatever to be personal. I do not think that I have dealt with other than the political principles of Senator Trenwith and those with whom he is now associated. My only desire was to say a few words in defence of my own party, and to remove some misapprehensions that seem to exist to the effect that Senator Trenwith was a sort of superior Labour man, who would never contaminate himself by signing the pledge as the mere ordinary hod-carrier of the Labour movement has to do.
– Senator Trenwith never spoke about being “contaminated.” He gave his reasons.
– I wished to remove a misapprehension that seems to exist that the Labour party occupies the position that it does to-day because of Senator Trenwith’s great fighting strength, o Seeing that it was the labouring classes that originally sent Senator Trenwith to Parliament, they had a right to expect his loyal adherence to the principles which they had returned him to support. As such has not been the case, I can only say that, in my belief, the people will take their political revenge in March next, when we shall find not only Senator Trenwith, but those associated with him in the so-called Democratic party who have so basely abandoned every political principle they ever held, receiving their deserts at the hands of the electors.
– I approach the consideration of the matter before the Senate from a somewhat different point of view from that which has been taken by the honorable senator who has just sat down. My honorable and greatly esteemed friend Senator Walker said, the other day, that he would like to hear me on the situation, and mv honorable friend, Senator Pulsford, in the course of a speech to the whole of which, unfortunately, I had not the pleasure of listening, said that he also would be glad to hear my opinion on some of the matters to which he referred. My esteem for both my honorable friends is so great that the least I can do is to gratify them in those particulars, or attempt to do” so. The occasion is the advent to office of a new Ministry. It is not an ordinary Ministry. It is not a coalition Ministry. It is not a reunion, which was the name applied to that combination which Mr. Deakin formed with the Labour party in 1905, when, under circumstances that are a matter of history, he ejected the Reid-McLean Government from office. That was supposed to be a reunion of hearts that had been temporarily estranged, and of people who were brought . back to the combined fold. That, as I say, was called a reunion. But for this Ministry a new name has had to be coined. It is called a “fusion.” Now, my honorable friend, Senator Pulsford thinks that that is a very good name. He defended it because, as I gathered, he thinks fusion strengthens back-bone.
– No; the honorable senator is not representing me quite accurately.
– I am quite content, because I am not very particular about a name. In the few remarks that I propose to make, I shall address myself rather to those- whom I look upon as my friends politically.
– We are all the honorable senator’s friends.
– I am glad to hear that. I do not think that on any occasion I have ever been very much troubled about a name. It is the thing itself which concerns us. The thing itself here is the Ministry. There are two things in relation to the Ministry that are important; its -personnel and its policy. I do not think that ft is possible, I’ do not think it would be just, to dissociate the one from the other; because while there may be offers of policy, still, as the honorable senator who has just sat down indicated, a great deal depends upon the confidence or trust which you repose in those who put forward these promises as to whether or not you can have any faith in their carrying them out. In neither aspect does this fusion commend itself to me. It does not inspire me with that confidence, that trust, or that enthusiasm which some of my friends may - each of us must exercise his own judgment - feel upon the subject. But I wish to express my view of it ; and I think that it is due “thaW I should), seeing .that !my, esteemed friends, Senator Walker and Senator Pulsford, have paid me the compliment to which I have referred. I shall recall, I hope without any personal feeling of any sort or description, a few facts to show why I do not myself regard the fusion with a friendly eye. These are facts which I respectfully, and in all humility, submit for the consideration of my honorable friends, as to whether they should not with me pause before giving a whole-hearted and undivided allegiance to a leader whom, ever since the establishment of this Commonwealth, they have opposed whenever he has been in office-Mo a leader to whom they have been opposed during, at least, seven years - to a leader who yesterday spurned and insulted us as the wreckage of causes which some of my honorable friends may hold dear. Now, I am going to recall plainly one or two facts, and to invite my honorable friends to reason with me about them. Let us reason together for a moment as to whether or not we are going to be suddenly inspired with faith in the wrecker. Now we have a record of what took place and of what was said on the 20th October, 1908. At that time my respected and esteemed friend, the Right Honorable G. H. Reid, was the leader of the party to which I considered it an honour to belong. He was the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives; and, in my judgment, it was a misfortune to this country when he retired from the leadership. The present Prime Minister then said, Mr. Reid being present -
At the present time the right honorable member has behind him only the wreckage of ]Blfadozen old sections. He has behind him the wreckage of the free importing party ; myself and other Free Traders - the wreckage of the individualist party ; to which Mr. Deakin appears tr> have been steadily opposed - the wreckage of the anti-Socialist party ; he is now the Leader of the anti-Socialist party - and the wreckage of the coloured labour party - all are to be found on that side of the House.
– Is not that something to be glad of?
– My honorable friend has not much to be glad of in the position he now occupies. Mr. Reid thereupon said -
That is untrue; that is absolutely false.
It was not a very parliamentary interposition perhaps, but 1 honour Mr. Reid for absolutely repudiating these base slanders. Mr. Reid also said -
The honorable member has made a dastardly statement.
Was it not dastardly? A discussion then took place, and, of course, Mr. Deakin qualified his accusation as to Mr. Reid on that right honorable gentleman pointing out that he was the first to introduce the* White Australia policy. But Mr. Deakin went on -
What I have said is - and it is true - that he has behind him the wreckage of the coloured labour party. . .
The Opposition side of the House is the refuge of the defeated.
– At the present time it is.
- Mr. Deakin was speaking of my honorable friends.
– At the present time, that is the wreckage.
– I am speaking of an historical situation.
– That is altered.
- Mr. Deakin also said -
That is why naturally on the Opposition benches are clustered the wreckage of tlie parties that have failed in this House. They will always gather there while we have an Opposition like the present linked together, not so much by what it agrees with, as by what it disagrees with.
Having stigmatized the party to which we considered it an honour to belong in that way, he proceeded to undertake, in effect, that never on earth would he join with such a crew, that never on earth would he have anything to do with such wreckage. He continued -
I see in this House many gentlemen with whom it would be a privilege for us to act_ some with whom we have acted, and others with whom we may act again -
God forbid - but we also see here the remnants I have spoken of, with whom we cannot act.
The wreckage, my honorable friends and myself, following our leader, Mr. Reid. What is he doing now? But that is not all-
I speak of some with whomit is impossible for us to act -
One might think that he is only dealing with the then emergency, but he is pledging himself as to the future -
I speak of some with whom it is impossible for us to act, either now or at any future time.
– He has changed his opinion.
– He has, and it is not the first time he has done so. My honorable friend may think, “ Can the leopard change his spots?” Oh, yes; if the leopard is Mr. Deakin.
Why is it impossible? he asks. I am commending these things to my honorable friends perfectly dispassionately, and interspersed with a few inferences which I suggest for their consideration.
Why is it impossible ? It is because we have a distinctly different line of policy,
Nothing to be fused, “ a distinctly different line of policy.” because we have different ideals. “ Ideals “ is a very favorite word with Mr. Deakin. Mr. Kelly interjected, though I do not know what he meant by the interjection, “ But the honorable gentleman used the stiletto.” Mr. Deakin said -
We cannot be associated with reactionaries.
What next will he say about us? Mr. Reid then, in a deprecating way, asked : “ Is this from the gentleman who signed an agreement with me,” and Mr. Deakin replied -
On the contrary, this is from one of those who have learned the consequences of entering into an agreement with the right honorable member.
A more gross insult, it seems to me, could not have been offered, not merely to the party to which we belonged, but to our leader, by whom it was our duty to stand. In face of that, is it unreasonable that we should ask ourselves, shall we take the wrecker at his word ? Shall we abandon such of these causes as we agree with, such of them as have been dear tous, such of them as haveled us tooppose Mr.
Deakin during all these years? Have the fragments he refers to of these wrecked causes been gathered up and jettisoned because of this condemnation and in order to bring about this fusion, I would like to know ?
Senatorpearce. - He says that they have all adopted his policy.
– Hear, hear.
– I am very glad to get that cheer, because no one better understands the inner history of this business, I believe, than does Senator Trenwith, and that “ Hear, hear,” whilst it is explanatory, is distinctly distressing for the wreckage’ to hear. Is it not reasonable that we should consider why we should be in such haste to go over to the enemy ? Why should we fly so fast into the bosom of the gentleman who has so insulted us ? Why should we go so fast into the bosom of our traducer ? Why should we not at least have had a withdrawal ? Why should he not have explained that this was all a mistake, made in the heat of the moment? As Confucius, whose precepts are almost equal to those of the Christian religion, once said : “ The danger of allowing a man to spit in your face without resenting it, is that he may be tempted to do it again.” So far as the Opposition led by Mr. Reid was concerned, none of us were so poor - I mean politically, because I have always had as great a liking for Mr. Deakin personally as any man can have - as to do him reverence. Are we now to begin and continue shouting ‘ Hosanna, ‘ ‘ without explanation, withoutone word being said to bridge over, so far as I can see, the immense gulf that existed and that was intensified on the occasion to which I referred ? Has he magnetized the people? Has he over-persuaded them ? Like every one else, I recognise his marvellous gifts of speech ; they are, I think, beyond compare. I remember well an historic occasion when our very good friend, Sir George Turner, stood in the House of Representatives, a living protest to the treachery of which he was the subject at the hands of Mr. Deakin. He said -
My honorable friend always uses an avalanche of words, and it takes some little time to ascertain exactly what is his meaning.
A little later on - and this perhaps explains the extraordinary influence which Mr. Deakin may have - Sir George Turner said -
No man is better capable of persuading any one to do anything. Many a time he has sat in the Ministerial corner, and has by means of one magnetic look persuaded me to give way.
A greater man than even Sir George Turner long ago described Mr. Deakin, a roan called John Bunyan. In that wonderful allegory of his with which you, sir, are acquainted, he wrote a description which is very much to the effect of Sir George Turner’s, but infinitely finer. He must have looked down the vista of the centuries and conceived of such a situation as we have in Commonwealth politics to-day.
– Does the honorable senator refer to Mr. Facing-both-ways?
– Why does Senator Walker anticipate?
– It was not Mr. Facing-both-ways. My honorable friend may apply such a term to Mr. Deakin; I would npt. The character was not a Cabinet Minister; he was not even a member of Parliament. His name was Talkative, who came upon those two pilgrims, Christian and Faithful, just as they were entering the city of Vanity Fair. He wanted to associate himself with them, to have a fusion, and so he went up to Faithful, who’ was afterwards done to death in that place, and said -
I will talk of things heavenly or things earthly : things sacred or things profane : things past or things to come : things foreign or things at home : things essential or things circumstantial : provided that all be done to our own profit.
No wonder Faithful said, “ What a brave companion have we got ! He will make a very excellent pilgrim.’” But Christian said, “ This man with whom you are so taken will beguile you with that tongue of his, will beguile with that tongue of his twenty of them that know him not.” Faithful asked, “ Do you know him, then?” “Yes,” replied Christian, “better than he knows himself.” As Sir George Turner said, Mr. Deakin’s capacity of persuasion is great. We all feel it when it is brought to bear. I beseech honorable senators most respectfully to join with me in endeavouring to resist the persuasion which, at least temporarily, has led to a dominant majority in Opposition laving down their arms, and not merely ignominiously surrendering to the enemy, but selecting and accepting the General as theirs. I refrained from interposing earlier in this debate, because it seemed to me that the Labour party had a
Tight to some precedence, as they appeared to consider themselves badly treated. They evidently feel the natural bitterness of defeat, and also the perfectly natural and just resentment at what they seem to regard as the scurvy treatment which has been meted out to them. I remember that some years ago John Bright, in making a speech in the House of Commons on the abolition of primogeniture, related a little .anecdote in inverted commas, describing something that had happened. He had made a similar speech previously, and on leaving the House of Commons he met a younger son, who said to him - and he quoted the remark in the House of Commons in his second speech as I quote it now - “ We have been damned badly used.” That may possibly be the feeling of the Labour party in regard to their recent treatment.
– And that is just the way they express it, too.
– That I do not know. I do not think myself that they have been very well used. At the same time, I do not extend any sympathy to them.
– Let the honorable senator say that it serves them” right.
– I take my honorable friend’s words. I’ think it serves them, as the boys say_, “ Jolly well right.”
– We did not expect much different treatment, either. ‘
– I do not know about that, but I have no sympathy with them on that score, because I think it serves them right for leaning on so broken a reed as they did. But I give them this consolation that Mr. Deakin has treated them in respect to the matter they complain of not a bit worse than he has treated others; not a bit worse than he treated another Ministry and its leaders. What causes me considerable perplexity as to the present situation is that I object to be content now to sit in ostensible support of a politician who, as I think, betrayed my own leader and my own friends only so very short a time ago. Now, what is the case of the Labour party? I should not have referred to this except that it seems to me that frequently the blame is thrown on the wrong shoulders. The Labour party are called to account for daring to have a grievance. Here I wish to agree with what Senator Millen said in regard to the party.
In November last year when a considerable change took place, Senator Millen said -
Honorable senators on this side have no quarrel with labour, and are certainly not in opposition to anything which makes for the progress, social, economical, and political, of the whole community.
I think we all agree with that. I have myself said in this Senate very emphatically that the terms “Socialist” and “Anti-Socialist” are extremely misleading. The honorable gentleman now at the head of the Government has declared himself, as he and a great many other people must do, to be a Socialist. The members of the present Opposition have no objection to being called “ Socialists.” The term “Anti-Socialist” is much more misleading than is the term “ Socialist.” But as there seems to be no objection on that score, it is convenient to speak of “ Socialists,” and, if honorable senators like, of “ AntiSocialists.” What Senator Millen said was -
All that we are in opposition to are those social extremists who mistake reckless experiment fo’r progress, who build castles in the air and imagine they are solid edifices, and who being merely iconoclasts, are pleased to regard themselves as social reformers.
Remembering that we wish, I hope, to see fair play, however much we may be opposed to the Socialist party, using the term for convenience. What was the position? For more than three years they kept Mr. Deakin in place and pay. With their aid, and in respect to that we certainly have nothing to thank them for, he destroyed the Ministry which a few months before he had put into office, and of which he was supposed to be a loyal supporter. He led during those three years the combined forces, because they really represented one force led by him, of which Labour was far the strongest: Did I hear Senator Trenwith cheer that statement?
– What was that? I was very nearly asleep.
– Well, it might have been another sound that_ I heard. Mr. Deakin went to the Imperial Conference of 1907, as the head of the party of which the larger section was the Socialist Labour party. He was their leader, their proposals and legislation became his, and were resisted and opposed by my friends and myself.
– He would do anything if you would keep him in office.
– There is this also to be remembered to the credit of the Socialist party : For three years they asked for nothing. They did not give Mr. Deakin their support because of any promise of office or anything of that kind.
– But he gave them their legislation, and, therefore, they got something.
– Of course, he gave them their legislation, because he was their leader.
– He has seen the error of his ways, perhaps, since.
– That was the price’ he paid.
– But what price is he paying now? He is in exactly the same position. He is still the leader of a minority. It is a. minority Government, supported by a dominant majority, and the only difference in the situation is that now the dominant majority are getting their share in the offices of the State. The Labour party, to their honour be it said, so far as we were aware, apparently never asked for a portfolio.
– They could not do so. They were forbidden by the “ Caucus.”
– That is the only thing I ever heard said in favour of the “ Caucus.” They were forbidden to share the spoils of office.
– I should like to hear the honorable senator on the other side.
– Why is it that blame is thrown upon the Labour party, and not upon Mr. Deakin, for what took place in November of last year? I have said that what has- taken place serves them right. But in November of last year they were put into office by Mr. Deakin, and I shall have a word to say about that in a moment. I have stated the position for three or four years, and am I a member of the Opposition to forget these things? Am I to do an injustice to the Socialist party, and not point out how Mr. Deakin-
– It is said of the Bourbons that they learnt nothing and forgot nothing.
– Then Senator St. Ledger must be a Bourbon. It is sufficient for me to have to deal with our own political history, without having to deal with that of the Bourbons.
– Will the honorable senator allow me to ask whether he has not forgotten something- that the present is not a Deakin Ministry, but a Deakin-Cook Ministry ?
– Oh, is it? Then, might I say tomy honorable friend, would it not have been more decent, after all this history, if Mr. Deakin had stepped down and stepped out, and allowed Mr. Cook, the leader of the dominant section, to form an independent Government?
– He offered to do so, but they were afraid to let him.
– I do not know whether I am quoting correctly, but I think I saw in some newspaper that,at a meeting, Mr. Reid had proposed that Mr. Cook should be the leader. That was the right thing to do. The satisfaction I have here is that an extinguisher has been put upon Senator Best as Leader of the Senate, and that Senator Millen occupies that position today. It is a pity the same thing did not take place in the other Chamber.
– They had one experience of that, but - never again.
– There is a leader of one section in one House, and of the other section in the other House.
– One section does not appear to havea leader in the Senate. But I wish to get on with my little history, and I am sorry that I should be led off into these comments when I merely wish to state the plain facts as they appear to me.
– We are all enjoying the honorable senator’s speech. Let him go ahead.
– My honorable friend need not tell me to go ahead, because I am going ahead. I am much obliged to him, of course. Perhaps, like my honorable friend Senator Pulsford, he wishes to strengthen my back-bone.
– Mr. Deakin had retired so far as he could for the time being from the leadership.
– In order to come in again ?
– I only wish to put the matter fairly.
– It is like the lady who. saying she would “ ne’er consent, consented.” I know the difficulty of the position - no one better. I have pointed out that for three years Mr. Deakin had the support of the Labour party without promise of reward of any description. Not only so, but, and I quote now from, I think, the Leader -
Mr. Deakin was quite willing to acquiesce in the admittance of Labour members to office.
This faithful and loyal Prime Minister was. it appears, ready to cast out four or five of his friends in the Ministry, and take in four or five Socialists. How is it that that was not carried out? He was willing to go halves, but the Socialists, whose bidding he was doing, as my friends have reminded me, spurned the offer.
– Does the honorable senator vouch for thatas a fact?
– I am quoting the Leader.
– The statement is not correct, but that is only a detail.
– It is correct enough, and Senator Best knows it.
– I am reading from the Leader; they did not consult me about it.
– They will after this.
– Quoting the Leader again -
He was ready to promote a LiberalLabour Coalition on a fair basis of cooperation. But this offer was contemptuously cast aside, and Labour demanded and obtained its desire that a Labour Ministry should be formed without any infusion of the Liberal element.
The Labour party preferred what is called isolation, that, I suppose, simply means running on their own,to keeping Mr. Deakin longer in office, or sharing it with him. Now, what took place in the early days of November of last year? Can anybody who recalls what took place then - and the facts must be fresh in our minds - repose any confidence in Mr. Deakin as the Leader of this Government, entitled to the confidence of the community in promoting the destinies of Australia? Can any one believe in the protestations which are made as to the great altitude which he has reached in purifving and re-organizing the political conditions of this country? What took place? A cut-and-dried arrangement - I use that term advisedly - by which Mr. Deakin was to go out of office and his friends who constituted the larger portion of his following were to take his place. What happened? There were some mysterious private conferences - a form of intrigue ; I will not use the word “conspiracy,” which has been used so frequently-
– “Intrigue” is good enough.
– It will do well enough. Mr. Fisher solemnly intimated - and I hope that honorable senators will recognise that I am dealing with this matter quite impartially - that the larger section on the Ministerial side of the House of Representatives could no longer support the Government. Mr. Deakin gravely assented, and inquired, “ Is there no other step now ?” But it is quite evident that that announcement was expected, and the proper course for Mr. Deakin to have taken was either to have resigned there and then or to have awaited the submission of a motion of no confidence by the recognised official Opposition, whose leader then was Mr. Cook. But, of course, that was not the object of this little game. It might have let the regular Opposition into office, whereas the object was to permit of the larger section of the Ministerial side of the House - the Labour party- assuming the reins of Government. In point of fact, it was, in substance, a reconstruction of the Ministry which then existed. So it was arranged that a formal motion, should be submitted, upon which Mr. Fisher should move a slight technical amendment, the voting upon which would be regarded as a motion of no confidence in the Government, thus assuring that Mr. Fisher, who submitted it, should be sent for by his Excellency the GovernorGeneral. On a subsequent occasion, Mr. Cook very properly denounced the whole of this arrangement and referred to what he described as the “ alacrity “ with which Mr. Fisher rose to submit his trivial technical amendment. Now I ask honorable senators what faith we can have in a leader who is a party to a scheme of that kind?
– None, whatever.
– There were two parties to the transaction, both culpable, and we are not to condemn one whilst acquitting the other and crediting it with having a clean sheet. The result was that Mr. Deakin put the Labour party in office and promised them his support.
– What were the conditions of his support?
– There were no conditions at all, so far as I know. I propose to read just one or two sentences which Mr. Deakin uttered in this connexion, so late as November of last year. The ideas therein expressed are clothed with a great wealth of language, which makes portions of them rather ambiguous. Mr. Deakin said -
It can be dealt with henceforward only by some other Government which in the same way will have a general or particular understanding with some party outside itself. It may be that a change in the men upon whom devolves the task of holding the helm, will enable this House to transact the business which passes from our hands.
– Were these statements made by Mr. Deakin on the occasion of his defeat?
– They were made when the little arrangement was arrived at by which Mr. Deakin was to stand aside and allow the members of the Labour party to assume office. The words I have quoted were uttered before the amendment determining the fate of his Government was submitted. Perhaps, if it had not been for this expression on the part of Mr. Deakin, Mr. Fisher might not have moved that amendment. Mr. Deakin continued -
It is our duty when laying down the official conduct of business to endeavour to strengthen the hands of those who will take it up while the conduct of that business by them does not conflict either with the principles on which we were returned, or with the interests of the Commonwealth.
He then proceeded to amplify what might otherwise have been ambiguous -
No matter into whose hands that policy may fall, it will be both our privilege and our duty to support it. This can be accomplished, as my honorable friends in the Corner have shown for the past three years. *
His honorable friends in the Corner were the members of the Labour party -
With their fixed and decided platform, remaining without amendment from Parliament to Parliament, they have been able to lend us support, without breach of, or departure from, it or the obligations which they have assumed. So much at least is possible from us under similar circumstances.
It was probably the last sentence or two upon which Mr. Fisher relied in submitting his amendment. Again and again in the House of Representatives upon the discussion of Ministerial policy, both at the instance of Mr. Dugald Thomson and Mr. Joseph Cook, Mr. Deakin, by interjection, declared that he was keeping the Labour party in office, although he threw the gibe at the Opposition that they had helped to put them there. What does all this mean ? I say without hesitation that the bargain to which I have alluded was not at all a creditable one. I recollect very well Senator Millen denouncing it in this Chamber in emphatic terms, and describing it by that lively simile, “ the descent upon the tart shop.” I quite agree with that description. It was a delightful and perfectly true expression. But the “ tart shop “ was laid open to Mr. Deakin’ s successors by Mr. Deakin. The arrangement was arrived at with the co-operation and agreement of Mr. Deakin. Such an agreement is of a character unknown in political history, and of a character which I hope will never be known again in political history? In plain English, Mr. Deakin enjoyed the fruits of office for over three years, and he rewarded a section of his followers wh[o had stood by him during that time by placing them in office.
– And also by putting them out of office.
– I am coming to that phase of the question. Mr. Deakin abdicated in their favour and then - and this is the leader whom we are asked to follow - immediately proceeded to intrigue against them. From what he said the other day he appears to have begun this quite six months before the date upon which he was speaking. My position! in regard to the Labour party is unchanged. I do not care who is concerned in a transaction of this kind, I should mete out the same censure, because I desire to see purity and fair play. The position was that Mr. Deakin - having put the Labour party into office as part of a bargain which was not a creditable one, but rather one which every one of my honorable friends here would have denounced as Senator Millen did - abandoned the principles which I had always attributed to him. One would have thought that at any rate he would have waited a little while and given them a little rope, so to speak.’
– He gave them six months.
– The honorable senator has not been listening. Mr. Deakin began intriguing against them six months before the date upon which they were displaced.
– Does the honorable senator know that?
– I know what Mr. Deakin himself said. This leader who had had the support of the Labour party and had previously offered to go halves with them- - an offer which had been contemptuously rejected - and who then acquiesced in an arrangement by which they were to have, not a half, but the whole, at once began to intrigue against them.
– The honorable senator forgets that both the Labour party and the Ministerial party - -
– If I am forgetting anything, the omission can be supplied. The more the details of this history are filled up the more disagreeable does it become. If Mr. Deakin felt that the Labour Government ought not to be in office - that it was, as some of us ‘ considered, impotent - and if he knew that his promised support was a sham, I say that he was guilty of paying them for services rendered to him, not out of his own pocket, but out of the pockets of the taxpayers. 0 Why should he, if he did not believe that they should be in office? If he contemplated that at the end of the six months he was going to turn them out of office, why did he put them in office or allow them to remain there for a day? When Parliament prorogued the late Government was in a minority. A good ‘ many of us expressed the opinion that they could do nothing. They were powerless. It was even said, as a charge against them, that they wanted to get into recess. I dare say they did. -It was quite natural under the circumstances. And here was Mr. Deakin, who is now Prime Minister of this great country, putting them in office, keeping them in office, and keeping six months in recess, the men whom he now literally declares were simply masquerading and were not really a Ministry at all.
– They responded by stabbing Mr. Deakin and others in the back.
– He is an authority on the stiletto.
– The interjection of my honorable friend, Senator McColl, is an unfortunate one. The Labour party may have followed the example that Mr. Deakin set them, which, of course, does not make it. any better. Assassination is bad at the hands of any one. It is un-English and unfair.
– There is no assassination in an* open fight at the hustings.
– If Mr. Deakin knew, and felt, that the Labour Government was impotent, on what principle could he justify putting them in charge of the destinies of this country?
– Who, on this side, has ever tried to justify his doing those things ?
– I am so glad to hear that. I thank my honorable friend.
– Whoever did ?
– I do not think it possible for any one on this side to justify such a thing. I have been putting these simple facts to show that I agree with my honorable friend. But, Mr. President, if my honorable friends cannot justify Mr. Deakin in doing these things, are they justified in following him as their leader? If these things are done in the green tree what will happen in the dry?
– We will see about it.
– I know the lynx-like eye that my honorable friend-, Senator Walker, will cast on Mr. Deakin, but I know Mr. Deakin’s powers of persuasion. Senator Walker’s remark, however, means, at all events, that he is not an enthusiastic supporter of the fusion.
– We have to study Australia.
– But surely my honorable friend would not hand over the destinies of Australia to the keeping of a man who would betray them? That is the question that has been perplexing me. How am I, in the face of these things, to take to my bosom a man who has traduced my party and my leader ? But I say, again, that if Mr. Deakin knew and felt that the Labour Ministry was incompetent, what was to justify him., in the face of the country, in putting them in office? What is there to justify him in giving these interlopers six months’ pay but of the taxpayers’ purse for doing nothing? But the man who is the greatest culprit is the man who ought to have known better, Mr. Deakin. If, on the other hand, he honestly believed that the Labour party were worthy of office and of power at all’, as I am quite willing to assume that he did, then he did them a cruel wrong in immediately beginning to intrigue against them, and what is more, to use Mr. Cook’s expression, in booting them out of office without a hearing. That is one part of the story. The second part is, that Mr. Fisher and his Ministry were entitled to rely on Mr. Deakin’s support; not always, not eternally, but until, on some point of policy or some point of administration, clearly defined, they were arraigned and defeated. I confess I shall be glad to hear that action justified. Having put them in office, and having declared in the passage I have read, contrasting the two, that they had supported him for three years, and that he and his party were prepared to do as much for them, I cannot understand how he could be a party to turning them out of office without giving them an opportunity of being heard in their own defence. Mr. Cook, who expressed himself exceedingly well, as he always does, on the 26th November, tried to extract some information about the situation. He said -
I fancy that the Labour party had a friend at court -
Of course he meant to suggest that not merely the arrangement had been carried into effect, but that a suggestion had been made to the Governor- General - who consulted the Governor-General for them, and that friend is sitting by them to-day, staunch for the present.
Now that reminds me of a little story that I heard some time ago. A lady was complaining to her old gardener that he was a little the worse for liquor, and she said to him, “ Now, John, when you came to me you know you said you were a staunch teetotaller.” The gardener replied, “Not staunch, ma’am, not staunch !” My friend, Mr. Cook, must, I think, have seen that story when he said, “ Staunch for the present.” He went on to complain, as Senator Millen did most justly and with great emphasis in the Senate, that a change of Government had taken place without a scintilla of reason. But is not that exactly what has happened now ? Isthere any difference? Is it not a fact that, under the circumstances I have recalled to the attention of the Senate, the Labour Government were, to again use an expression of Mr. Cook’s, ignominiously booted out by the present Prime Minister, who had put them in? As Sir George Turner declared on the occasion that I have already referred to, the hand that made them was the hand to unmake them. It was done without a scintilla of reason, under circumstances which required at least some reason, some indictment.It was different in that respect from the previous occasion, when Mr. Deakin changed portfolios with them. Then, Mr. Deakin could make no complaint, because it was under an arrangement that he had himself made. This ignominious booting out of office of the Labour party was performed by the politician who had assisted to put them into office, as they had supported him during a long period when he enjoyed the emolu- ments of office at their hands. Well might they say -
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
– The application would be correct except for the fact that we never did trust him.
– The honorable senator is giving himself and his party away.
– No ; »ve always said so.
– We were watching him all the time.
– In that respect, I think, my honorable friend is right in saying that he is going to watch Mr. Deakin. That, at all events, is satisfactory. What I have related is the position according to the records as they are before us. But there is one other little thing that I would like to mention. On the 20th October, when the little arrangement I have detailed took place, Mr. Deakin apologized for having been a party to turning out the Labour Government, and, to show that there was no fleck in the sea of their smooth relations, he explained that he had not intended to do them any harm when he voted them out of office in 1.904. He said this -
Some of us, and I was one, found ourselves trapped -
That was when Mi. Reid came in, into voting a Government out of office that ought to have been allowed to stay there longer.
Is there any assurance that he will not say the same thing again, if it suits him to extricate himself from the present situation and to seek again a fresh alliance with’ those with whom he has hitherto been associated ? I ask those honorable senators who took a strong view of the transaction last November, whether they think that with this record Mr. Deakin is exactly the gentleman who ought to be Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia at this juncture? But there is, as I have said, aworse case. My honorable friend, Senator Pulsford, sought to palliate the fusion by recalling one in New South Wales. That was no fusion at all, but simply an agreement to banish for the moment the fiscal differences for the sake of Federal union. That was honorably kept for one specific purpose. What is the specific purpose here?
– To “ down “ the Labour party.
– Is panic-fear of a party who have done nothing a kind of justification? The great difference is that that arrangement was .not made by Mr. Deakin. I thank my honorable friend for the reference, because I recollect that it was then a case of national union in this country or nothing. It was a specific issue, and no more. But I also remember, and recall to his recollection if he will permit me, with all deference, another coalition which was with Mr. Deakin. It was more nearly the kind of thing than that in New South Wales. It involved the sinking of the fiscal issue for a time. We have often heard of the fiscal issue. I do not know where it is now, under the language of this Ministerial statement. But at that time, let it be remembered, we had just passed a Tariff, and the sole object of the sinking of the fiscal issue was to secure fiscal peace for that Parliament. Apparently we were all going on comfortably. Our friend Mr. Deakin, who put us in office, went quietly to Ballarat; and having on a previous occasion at that place denounced in no measured terms the Labour party, he made a speech. I quote, not from Hansard, but from a most excellent pamphlet by my friend Mr. Bruce Smith. Referring to the Labour party, Mr. Deakin said, in 1904 -
It was a leading member of that party, and one of its ablest members, who told us three years ago that the party was up for sale to the highest bidder between other parties. “ Here are our votes,” it said, “ for your legislation. We don’t believe in you or your policy, but if you give us the legislation we want, we will support you.”
Is not that exactly the position in which Mr. Deakin was for three solid years? Can anybody doubt it? What does he think of it when he is not enjoying the fruits of office? Mr. Bruce Smith prints in italics this passage “in the speech -
Could a more demoralising bargain be ‘proposed in any public body or institution?
Mr. Deakin went to Ballarat, and held himself up for sale. He said, in effect - If the Labour leagues adopt Protection, we will assist them. If the Anti-Socialist leagues put Protection in their platform, we will assist them.
– He was a friend to all parties.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.- My honorable friend does not know what Mr. Deakin will not do. At any rate, that is what he did to us on that occasion. To the Free Traders in the Ministry who had taken the risk of such things, it meant a condemnation, but nothing else. No selfrespecting Government would hold office for “five minutes when their occupancy of it depended literally upon the vote of Mr. Deakin ; certainly upon his support. On that occasion it did not matter very much to those who must take the risk of such things. But the Ministry included four members who were old political and personal friends of Mr. Deakin, two of them being very old friends of his in the State Parliament. I remember well the pathetic figure of Sir George Turner in the House of Representatives when he was so severely stricken with illness that, the Speaker, certainly once, if not on more than one occasion, besought the forbearance of honorable members in interjecting. No more pathetic scene has ever been witnessed In any Parliament than on that occasion when Sir George Turner got up in his place and, with a trembling voice and in great pain - not bodily only, but mental also - declared that Mr. Deakin had urged him again and again to go into the Ministry and that but for his personal solicitation he would not have gone in.
– I think it was Mr. McLean who said that.
– It was said by both. Sir George Turner said that, being in ill-health, he at once refused to go into the Ministry, as he wished to retire from politics, but, at the solicitation of Mr. Deakin, he gave way, and became a member of the Government. Yet, without going to him as Sir George said he would have expected an old friend to do, and saying, “Sir George, I am going to Ballarat, where I intend to say one or two things which you may think show unfaithfulness to your Government, but you are not to take them in that way “ - without a word of warning - Mr. Deakin went to Bal.larat, and made that speech, which was’ described by the Age, in large type over a leading article, as “ Notice to Quit.”
– That is exactly what “it was.
– That is exactly what the honorable senator said it was not at the time.
– Everybody knew that “it was.
– Pardon me, Mr. Deakin did not deny that it was a notice to quit, but he said that it might be a month’s notice, or three months’ notice, or six months’ notice. He stated that a Government containing his friend, Sir George Turner, was to interpret it as a three months’ notice, and not an immediate notice to quit. Well might Sir George Turner say, “ Save me from my friends.” As my honorable friend, Senator Gray, remarked, Mr. McLean said very much the same thing. Speaking on the AddressinReply, in LQ05, my honorable friend Senator Fraser asked : If the past history of the Parliament was not creditable, who was responsible? Then my honorable friend expressed his opinion. Since he has referred to the matter, I should like to remind him of the exceedingly appropriate language in which, on that occasion, he described Mr. Deakin, the Leader of the present Government.
– Who was that?
– Senator Gray, who I know is a man of strong feeling for that which is right and just. I am quite sure that he would not have used the language which I am going to read, and to which I gave my entire assent at the time, if he had not meant it.
– And I believe it just as strongly now.
– The honorable senator said -
Mr Deakin has created a precedent which, I contend, will lower the political and moral life of the community.
Is a politician who has lowered the political and moral life of the community to be the leader of it ?
I believe that he will live to regret the manner in which he has brought about this situation. Speaking politically, Mr. Deakin has absolutely dishonoured the cheque that he gave to Mr. Reid. If I were to describe him as I regard him I would rather speak of him as a political jelly fish. When I say that, of course, I am only speaking of him politically. To my mind, this conduct says very little for Mr. Deakin as a practical politician. We should like to think of Mr. Deakin personally as the estimable man that we have all believed him to be hitherto.
That, I think, is a plain narrative of facts. The only additional fact’ which I think it is well to bear in mind, is that at the election which followed shortly afterwards, Mr. Deakin, to show his friendship for Mr. McLean, went up Gippsland and most vehemently opposed him. I do not’ like very much the expression I am going to use, but with a slight alteration I will quote what Sir Thomas Ewing said of the Labour party, and ask whether it might not be said of the present Prime Minister by some of those concerned in these incidents -
An alliance with the present Prime Minister is like an alliance with an American Indian. He may fight on your side, but pretty soon after the fight is over he will get your” scalp if he gets the chance.
– Study Australia.
– We are to “study Australia.” That, I dare say, covers a multitude of sins. Generally when we have to study anything, we like to know the character of the person under whom we are to study.
– We want a teacher of good morals.
– That is, I think, a desirable thing. If the party is anti-Socialist I ask my honorable friends, have they got an anti-Socialist ? What has Mr. Deakin said about Socialism and antiSocialism? This is what he said at Ballarat, as honorable senators will recollect.
– How many years ago - three or four?
– It was that eventful time when he turned upon the Ministry of Mr. Reid, which he had put in office.
– That is what we call ancient history now, is it not?
– Like Adam and Eve, I suppose?
– How many years ago was it?
– I am not complaining of my honorable friend drawing, as I should expect him to do, the veil of oblivion over it. I want to get at the policy. I want to get at where this anti-Socialism is. I want to understand the leader of the anti-Socialist party. Speaking on the same occasion at Ballarat, in 1905 - that is just before he formed the Ministry which was reconstructed by the advent of the Labour party, he said-
We are now being told that the issue is one of Socialism against anti-Socialism, but that issue is no longer concrete or practical?
What becomes of it ? Is it to be Socialism or anti- Socialism?
It has been removed to the realm of theory and opinion. It is something vague and indefinite instead of being precise. It is a question which no two public men define in the same fashion.
He ridicules the whole thing, and he goes on to say -
What prospect is there that a definitive answer can be given when an issue is to be submitted in that cloudy, nebulous fashion?
He is pouring cold water on the issue of Socialism against anti-Socialism. This is worthy of consideration -
What is the anti-Socialism programme to be? What anti-Socialistic legislation is to be proposed ? What legislation considered Socialistic is to be repealed?
Is he going now to repeal all these measures of Socialism that are on the statute-book, and which we have so continuously opposed?
– Like the Sea Carriage of Goods Act ?
– I do not consider that Socialistic. But is he going to repeal the section in the Post and Telegraph Act which Sir John Forrest described as wicked and dishonest? Is he going to repeal the Anti-Trusts Act, which in another speech he asked if Mr. Reid was going to repeal? That is what I call antiSocialism. If there is to be a leader of anti-Socialism surely it should be his business to purge, or try to purge, the statutebook of these Socialistic measures?
– We shall prevent them from being carried further.
– Then my friends are going to leave those on the statute-book where they are? Mr. Deakin further said -
These are questions which the electors of Australia are entitled to have answered before they vote in favour of anti-Socialism. It must take a form, it must take a shape, it must be something tangible whose effects an endeavour can be made to trace out.
Then he goes on to enumerate the things I have mentioned.
Mr. Reid has declared two clauses in the existing legislation, the contract labour clauses of the Immigration Act, and the clause in the Postal Act, should be amended, but he has not said what other clauses are to be substituted for them, or if any are to be substituted. Answers to these questions will be required before this issue can become direct or practicable.
Now we are told that the present Government is an anti-Socialist Government. What did Mr. Deakin tell us upon this point ?
On this question we are entitled to press for a reply.
I think Mr. Deakin was absolutely right in that -
We have anti-Socialistic leagues in a neighbouring State, springing into existence in every electorate, yet there is no programme announced to which any one or more of these leagues is committed.
I see that in the press it is stated that with the advent of the present Government we have a riddance of minority rule. Have we? What sort of a party is the Prime Minister’s party ? Is it not a minority, and a very helpless minority? We have had minority rule for Socialistic legislation for something like seven years. By whom? By Mr. Deakin. Is not that a fact? And is it not the very irony of politics that the gentleman who is said now to be ridding us of minority rule is he who, if he did not create it, has practised and profited by it for the last seven years? Is it to him that we are to intrust the redemption of Australia from the evil effects which flow from minority rule? As I said, we still have minority rule, and the only difference, as compared with previous positions, is that some members of the majority are, in the case of the present Government, taken into office with some members of the minority.
– That is the way in which all parties are formed, I think.
– Why was it evil before if it is right now?
– I do not object to Senator McColl’s interjection, but if that is how all parties are formed, I am very sorry to hear it. But then, I ask, why do these things?Is it lust for office? Is that it?
– That was the Labour party’s idea.
– The idea of the Labour party who stood out of office for three years?
– They made the greedy grab.
– I do not see any evidence of a “ greedy grab ‘ ‘ on their part. I see that Mr. Deakin offered them halves, and they would not take it.
– And they gave him the whole.
– And, as Senator Stewart reminds me, they gave him the whole, and for years asked for no share in the emoluments of office. I merely ask the question, is it lust of office? Senator Dobson said the other day that it was to save his political skin - the political skin which the Opposition, including myself and Senator Dobson, had been after for three years. And is this honorable gentleman to be allowed to have the whole support of that Opposition in order to save that political skin? But then he has said himself, and this is something to which I venture to direct the attention of my friends the Free Traders. I am quoting from the Argus -
The fusion was the only step possible to preserve Liberalism.
What does Mr. Deakin mean by Liberalism? Does he mean the policy of the Opposition as it existed until a month or so ago? Not at all. He means Protection. When he said that the fusion was the only possible step to preserve Liberalism, he meant that it was the only step possible to preserve . Protection and the Protectionist party.
– What does Senator Pulsford sav that it means?
– I wish to make no comments at all. To make it abundantly clear, Mr. Deakin’s views were declared to be -
Both the interest of his party and the public interest required the severance from the Labour party which he had effected.
– What is the date of that?
– It is in respect of a speech which was made only the other day. I am quoting from a leading article,but really the two newspapers are now so much alike that for the moment I am unable to say whether it is from the Age or the Argus, but I shall find out for the honorable senator later. It is a curious thing that in 1905 the alliance of Mr. Deakin with the Labour party to oust the then Government was called “ The Liberal-Protectionist Reunion.” Now, the Liberals have never been associated with Free Trade in this country.
– I always consider that the Free Traders are the Liberals.
– Yes ; but my honorable friend knows that nobody else agrees with him.
– I say that the genuine Liberal party is the Free Trade party.
– So do I; but we should be stoned if we said that outside.
– I have never called myself anything else but a Liberal.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.Nor have I. But like my honorable friend, I am sometimes called a cast-iron Conservative. It is a gross insult, of course. In this country, by a strange perversion, it is the Protectionist party that is always called the Liberal party.
– That is what always deceived me.
– I am afraid that that is how some of my honorable friends are likely to be deceived under the present arrangement. The first alliance of Mr. Deakin with Labour was called. “The Liberal-Protectionist Re-union,” and on this occasion the alliance’ which Mr. Deakin has made must be called “The LiberalProtectionistConservativeFree Trade fusion.” That is what it must be called, because the Liberal-Protectionist party has been displaced.
– The honorable senator has forgotten to include the name of one section, to which Mr. Deakin has referred as the black labour section.
– Under these circumstances I do not think it is to be wondered at if my friend Mr. Deakin does not know exactly where he is. I find it stated, and as an incident it is curious, that Mr. Deakin found it very hard to believe the other day that he was really leading the Ministry. Three or four times, it is said, he referred to Mr. Fisher as the Prime Minister, and more than once he referred to the Opposition as the Ministerial party. I dare say that the honorable gentleman was whispering to himself -
Do I sleep? Do I dream?
Do I wander and doubt?
Are things what they seem,
Or is visions about?
But can we, then, because after all this is what it comes to, really feel that implicit trust in Mr. Deakin as a leader, which regard for the highest interests of the destinies of this country demands? To sum up : Yesterday he was Leader of the Socialist party. I am unable to distinguish between a gentleman who has had that party as the largest section of his following, and who put on the statute-book the Socialistic legislation which they required, and the man who is at their head, as Mr. Fisher is, directly and straightforwardly. To-day he is the Leader of the anti-Socialists. Yesterday he was prepared to cast out from his Ministry four or five of his own friends, in order to admit an equal number of Socialists ; to-day he intrigues to dismiss the Socialists without a hearing. Yesterday he declared it impossible then, or in the future, to work with the wreckage of those causes which he described as the Opposition ; to-day he claims to be their leader. Yesterday he told the Imperial Authorities that Australia was desirous of putting an. end to the payment of £200,000 a year under the Naval Agreement. To-day he makes political capital out of an offer of a Dreadnought or its equivalent of £2,000,000.
– I will show my honorable friend in a moment.. He at least lived politically for years on the system of* government by a minority, and now he poses as the instrument specially designed to destroy it. The other day, in England, and elsewhere, he talked largely about immigration. He affirmed that Australia was a great continent lying almost empty, and calling aloud for adventurous spirits to come from the Old Country - for the life-blood of a nation. Yet he placed upon the statute-book the Immigration Restriction Act, and the Contract Immigrants Act? Is he not responsible for section 16 in the Post and Telegraph Act, which was characterized as “ wrong, foolish, and dishonest “ ? Is this to be repealed under his leadership ? Let us look upon the record of the legislation which we have hitherto opposed, and ask ourselves “ Can this be true?” Are we to put the stamp of our approval upon his successful efforts to so increase the cost of mining, farming, and other industries as to diminish employment, and to reduce earnings? Despite our opposition, he drove the kanakas out of the sugar industry. Am I to say to that, and to the other things which I have mentioned; “ Well done.” Is he not responsible for the union label ? We should never have had it but for him.
– It is no good, anyhow.
– I am rather encouraged to hear that.I am always glad to reflect that we have the High Court when these Acts turn out to be failures. But it was not Mr. Deakin’s fault that the union label ‘proved to be a failure. Has any other man been in one sense so faithless to Federation by placing so many unconstitutional measures on the statute-book in defiance - and this is the whole point of my contention - of the Opposition? And are we still going to trust him with the Constitution? We have the Australian Industries Preservation Act, the Commerce Act, and the Trade Descriptions Act: - all of which were opposed by us - upon the statute-book, and we have also that monstrous fiasco, the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act - that delightful excursion into the realms of new Protection - and the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Act. Yet we are asked to pledge our fealty to a Minister who is responsible for all these measures, the greater number of which were passed despite our strenuous opposition.- At any rate, we did not consider them part of the programme to which we ought to give our assent. No manager of a business would be engaged without his credentials being first examined, and yet we are asked to accept Mr. Deakin as Prime Minister in the face of the damaging record, from our point of view, which the whole statute-book presents. I am sorry that that should be the position to-day. But whatever our regard for Mr. Deakin may be- - and, personally, I hold him in the highest esteem - we must -look at his political acts. I think it was a distinct misfortune that he did not adhere to his earliest intention to stand aside upon the occasion when the negotiations for the fusion of parties took place. Had he done so, he would have felt a happier man, and more confident of his position in the country than he can possibly feel to-day. The negotiations for the fusion were of a very curious character, and I propose to read just one or two sentences from the cablegrams transmitted to- the English newspapers. As early as the ctb March the political campaign had begun, and the Times stated -
Mr. Deakin cannot seriously attack the Labour party which agrees with and has helped him to carry through more than half his policy.
That was a very sensible thing to say.
Mr. Cook, whose chief theme in past years has been the shortcomings of Mr. Deakin, is under orders not to touch that subject again.
On the 18th May the following appeared -
Mr. Deakin refuses office in any Ministry not pledged to his full programme -
I should like to know if that statement is true - and, consequently, the coalition negotiations have been transferred to Sir John Forrest and Mr. Cook, who are now quarrelling over the leadership.
On the 26th May the following cablegram was published -
The terms of the coalition practically are as follow : Mr. Cook accepts Mr. Deakin’s platform on condition of the postponement on one excuse or another of all the principal planks.
Does not that accurately describe the situation ?
Thus, compulsory training is deferred till Lord Roberts or Lord Kitchener is available to- visit and advise Australia. The financial settlement between the Commonwealth and the States is postponed for five years, and so forth. Mr. Deakin seems to hope that the temporary association of the three sections will eventually cause an approximation of views and a consolidation into one party, but it is more probable that whenever a dissolution comes the whole of the present arrangement will be shattered at the polls.
I merely mention these matters incidentally. The result of all the negotiations is that the present Government are in office. Nobody has more fairly earned an opportunity of office than *has the Vice-President of the Executive Council. I know his industry and political zeal ; no one knows it better. But I do regret that he should have succumbed to the temptation of accepting office in what I cannot help regarding as an alien camp, and subscribing allegiance to a leader whose politics he has always vigorously opposed in this Senate.
– One would think from the way the honorable senator has been talking that there was no man other than Mr. Deakin in the Ministry.
– I do not think that there is. I say further that the most laudatory remark I have heard about the Ministry is that it is no worse than the Labour Ministry. For my part I doubt it, because there is this to be said for the Socialist party: that we know absolutely where they are. We hear a good deal about their methods and their policy, much of which I condemn, but what are we to say of the methods and policy of Mr. Deakin, as evidenced ‘ in the history to which I have called attention? Have his methods been free from- criticism ? Are we to denounce methods on one side and not upon the other ?
– Is that not what the honorable senator is doing?
– When, therefore, I am told that the present Government are no worse than was the Labour Ministry, I beg to doubt it. At any rate we know exactly where the Labour party were.
– I object to minority rule.
– We have minority rule now.
– We have majority rule.
– No. We have minority rule with a dominant Opposition majority. There is no misunderstanding what we may expect from the Socialists, but in the case of Mr. Dea- kin we never know where he is. The Labour party reminds me somewhat of the boy in the drug store. When a gentleman came along and saw the little fellow behind the counter he exclaimed: “Halloa, have you got a diploma? “ To which the little fellow replied : “ No, but we have a little mixture of our own which is quite as good.” That is my complaint against the Labour party. They have “ a little mixture of their own.”
– Are they not in favour of the nationalization of the land ? Let the honorable senator ask them. that question now, because 1 want to get information.
– I have no objection to the honorable senator getting all the information that he can in regard to any party’s future policy. But I am bound to say that one might go a long way in this country and he would find very few people who trust Mr. Deakin.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator altogether. It ma.y be.
– That, is quite candid. My * honorable friend thinks that there is room for repentance.
– And need of it, too.
- Mr. Deakin has much need of it. I am delighted to hear that, because I am bound to say that there are not half-a-dozen men in the Senate who do not agree with my honorable friend. ‘ I think I might put the number lower’.
– Only three.
– I think there is only one, and that is the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I shall not dwell upon the point that I object very much to the reading of the Ministerial statement. I objected before, in 1905, when Senator Playford read the statement of policy of the Government that then came in. I think it is an insult to the Senate to have a written statement of that kind brought clown without the advantage of explanation and elucidation upon the different points forming part of the policy. It was sought to be justified in 1905 bv Senator Playford, who said that the Government wanted to “ sing the same song “ in both Houses of the Legislature.
– What a nice harmony there would be on the present occasion !
– It is just because the result could not be very melodious that it has been put in this form. It is significant that these two questionable Deakin Ministries should have adopted the same questionable method that I am criticising. Of course, it may be that, Ministers being new to office, they had not got quite into harmonious working, and had not complete confidence in each other. But the greatest difficulty that arises out of this practice is that the statement is laid before us without elucidation. When it is brought forward within the four corners of a written instrument, there is no explanation. The position’ in regard to a GovernorGeneral’s speech is entirely different. First of all, the speech is read ; then two gentlemen selected from the Ministerial supporters, and who are supposed to be inspired by the Government, deliver themselves upon it ; then there is a speech from the Leader of the Opposition; and’ then discussion is opened by the Minister who happens to be leading, on behalf of the Government, making an explanation. I pass that point by, however, in order to say that I am puzzled by the basis of agreement on which the Ministerial party has been formed. I find that there are at least four different published statements as to what is called the basis of the fusion. I am in a state of great perplexity, and I look to my Free Trade friends to explain the position to me. The Age stated the basis of the fusion to be-
No interference with the Protectionist policy of the present Customs Tariff, or in rectifying anomalies.
I want to know whether that is correct? If so, what does it mean? Does it mean that the Free Traders returned to this Parliament are now pledged to be Protectionists? Is it really true that there is to be no interference with the Protectionist policy of the present Customs Tariff, or in rectification of anomalies? I ask my honorable friends to tell me, because the point is vital.
– One of the Ministers will reply in the course of time.
– This means that we must always level up. We can never level down.
– Not necessarily. Anomalies may be rectified.
– But my honorable friends are not to interfere with the Protectionist policy of the Tariff, “or in rectifying of anomalies.”
– Did the honorable senator read what Mr. Reid said about it?
– I am coming to that. The Argus reported the basis of the fusion to be -
No interference with the Protectionist policy of the present Customs Tariff in rectifying anomalies.
That is worse. That is to say, we are not to touch the Tariff except on a Protectionist basis.
– It may be less Protectionist after a rectification of anomalies. The honorable senator knows that sometimes one has to submit to the inevitable.
– I am asking for’ information. The Age, in a leader on the 5th June, said -
The basis of union is that Free Traders have acknowledged that the -fiscal issue is -
What? Not in abeyance; not suspended; but - is settled.
I have never agreed to that.
– For how long?
– The fiscal issue is “ settled.”
– There is a term.
– This says nothing about a term.
– Then the writer did not know anything about it.
– It goes on - and that Protection is to be maintained as the guiding principle of fiscal action.
– Up to a certain point only.
– I am showing the beautiful harmony that exists as to the fusion, so far as regards the fiscal issue. Mr. Reid takes quite a different view. This is what he says -
Before the fusion the Free Traders in the direct Opposition requested Mr. Cook to make our position perfectly clear to Mr. Deakin. We pointed out that if any alteration in the Tariff were proposed which raised the fiscal issue as between Free Traders and Protectionists, we Free Traders held ourselves perfectly free to hold to our convictions.
– That is my impression.
– What do the Protectionists say to that? What is said about it by the Age, which I regard as a great and powerful newspaper, advocating what it believes to be right, although I disagree with it?
– What authority had Mr. Reid for his interpretation?
- Mr. Reid put his interpretation upon the ar rangement, and the Age has put its interpretation upon it. It was at liberty to do so.
– What authority was there ?
– I want to know what is the basis of this fiscal settlement, and I find that there are four different statements about it. There is the statement in the Argus, which I have read, which is the worst of them all - no interference with the Protectionist policy of the present Customs Tariff in rectifying anomalies. It is quoted as if from a document. The statement in the Age is identical except for the little word “or.”
– The statement in the Age represents the understanding.
– No interference with the Tariff until the end of the next Parliament.
– There is nothing here about the end of the next Parliament.
– That is distinctly understood.
– It will not be distinctly understood by the’ electors.
– We had a sinking of the fiscal issue once before that was to be until the end of the Parliament then in existence. But it was burst up by Mr. Deakin.
– Perhaps he has seen the error of his ways.
– God forbid that I should ever think that there is any error in his ways ! I like a precedent. We had only one understanding in those days. Here we have four. Even the one understanding was not kept. It was burst up.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that there was only one article of agreement in the case of the previous fusion ?
– No, the honorable senator does not understand me to mean that. .1 am bewildered, because at first.it looks as if there were to be no rectification of anomalies. But I warn the F ree Traders, if they will allow me with all deference and all humility, against believing that there will be no setting up of this fiscal question in connexion with the rectification of anomalies. It was the rectification of anomalies about which the split took place in 1904, and it was because of the use of these very words about rectification that an excuse for the split was found. First one set of Protectionists, and then Mr. Deakin following in their ways, destroyed the agreement, reopening the whole subject, and leading to the construction of a new Tariff, with all its attendant evils.
– The honorable senator has rend Mr. Reid’s words, which are absolutely correct, but each member of Parliament has his individual freedom.
– I am only anxious to have this fiscal matter cleared up. According to Mr. Reid!s interpretation it seems to me that every one is to be free.
– Mr. Joseph Cook said the same.
– Even’ one is to be free. I accept that as what is believed. But what is the result? The result is the very thing that happened in 7904. What was sunk then was the reopening of the Tariff, except for the rectification of anomalies. That exception was seized upon by the Protectionists as an excuse for re-opening the whole question. Of course every one was free, but the exception burst up the agreement, and turned out” the Ministry which was put in on the supposition that everything was all right. But I am still more puzzled when I come to the Ministerial statement. I am only going to refer to one paragraph of it. It is certainly a most extraordinary: statement. It says -
The most complex series of measures to be submitted includes those affecting the industrial interests of the Commonwealth. The pivot of some of these will be found in a Bill for the establishment of an Inter-State Commission; which, in addition to exercising the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution,
The first tiling that this Government proposes to do is to seek an ‘amendment of the Constitution, which I think every Federalist ought to resist. In the Constitution we have an Inter-State Commission defined, and the object is to enlarge ifs powers and give it the extraordinary function of a. Federal Labour Bureau.” Its members are, I suppose, to employ their leisure in making a study of unemployment. When they get into their offices they are to make a study of unemployment, and also a scheme for insurance against it. It is to be a kind of roving Commission, I suppose, to find out for a future Government a policy on unemployment and insurance. But it is not to be merely that. Of course it is to undertake many valuable functions. It is to have - a general oversight of production and exchange, supplying information in respect to markets and openings for trade, abroad, and for the improvement and extension of Australian industries within our borders.
What does it mean? But that is not all which is proposed in this sort of dragnet.
The Commission will also assist in supervising the working of the existing Customs Tariff in its operation -
Are we going to delegate to the Commission the working of the Customs Tariff? Are we going to abolish the present Customs administration? What does it all mean? The Commission is to supervise the working of the existing Tariff in its operation - on what ? Not its general working but its operation - upon the investment of Australian capital and labour in Australian industries.
What does that mean? Not merely is it to do that, but it is to advise - the removal of any inconsistencies in its schedules.
And as if that were not enough for the Commission it is also to ‘advise - with the further view of developing preferential and other trade relations within the Empire.
But it is -to do more than that.
Any divergencies between industrial conditions in the several States which occasion an unjust competition between Australian industries in different States will be adjusted by the Inter-State Commission, with of course, due regard to all the interests affected -
That is to say, the condition of the manufacturer, and the condition of the workman will be in a far more parlous state than they are in now, because no one knows how the Inter-State Commission will be constituted. If it is to have plenary power without appeal, except on questions of law, as is the case under the Constitution, then the industrial interests of Australia will be intrusted to a power that will be absolutely beyond control, and will exercise an autocratic and untrammelled influence in all probability to the disaster of those interests’ in some form or other. We are told that any divergencies will be adjusted - with of course due regard to all the interests affected, whether or not the unjustly competitive rates exist under the authority of local industrial tribunals.
But that is not all which is proposed. An agricultural bureau is to be associated with the Inter-State Commission. Did any one ever hear of such preposterous nonsense as that? The agricultural bureau is to be established - in order to employ the latest scientific, means of co-ordinating -
I like all these big words very much- and extending the good work of the State Departments.
But that is not all which is proposed-
An active policy of immigration -
Away from the control of Parliament- 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.
In the middle of this part of the statement we find this little paragraph thrown in -
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.
There is the footprint, there is the significant thing. What does it mean? Is the whole basis of this coalition to disappear, and is everybody to vote as he likes, when these questions come up, or are the Free Traders pledged, as the Age says, to deal with the anomalies on the basis of and in accordance with the principles of Protection? That is all I propose to say with regard to this policy statement. I want to deal with another matter which is allied with that statement, and that is the question of naval defence. On that question Senator Dobson - who I am sure spoke in an unguarded moment - in answer to a statement made in debate, that Great Britain will he well able to uphold her supremacy of the seas without our assistance, said -
I doubt if she will be in time to come.
– Hear, hear.
– I am sorry to hear that. I know my honorable friend’s patriotism, but think that if he had reflected he would have seen that very few men, with a spark of real patriotic feeling in their breasts, and not carried away by the excitement of the moment, could fairly and justly come to such a conclusion as that. I believe that Great Britain is supreme, that she possesses the mightiest fleet that has ever been in the world. If so terrible an occasion should arise as that her interest, her integrity, and her life were assailed, I believe that that little isle set in the silver sea would rise, as she has done before over and over again, in the magnitude of her might, and successfully face Europe itself in arms. I prefer to accept Sir John Forrest’s statement, made at a meeting inPerth, about the time when this fusion wastaking place. In March last he said -
He did not believe that there was any real” crisis, because Great Britain could afford ai hundred Dreadnoughts if she wanted them.
That I believe, too. At the same time I think that there are one or two things which require to be made clear. So far as my honorable friend made them clear I am at one with him. Every man of British blood must regard it as an axiomthat British supremacy of the seas must be maintained. It was said a couple of hundred years ago that -
The Royal Navy of England has ever been its greatest defence and ornament. It is its ancient and natural strength, a floating bulwark of the island.
That is as true now as it was when it waswritten by Mr. Justice Blackstone, with this difference, that for the word “island” I would substitute the word “ Empire.” The honour and the safety of the nation - that means the whole nation from end to end of the Empire - under the providence of God, chiefly depend uponour strength at sea. We all agree with that. Another indisputable point is that hitherto Australia has not borne her share of the burden of the Empire. The link that unites us to the Mother Country isinvisible, but it is none the less strong, and it is incumbent upon every part of this; Empire, which is linked up with the heart, to rise to the responsibilities which rest upon it of doing its share in the maintenance of the integrity of the Empire and’ of the great instrument by which that integrity is kept up. Those who talk and’ imagine that everything should be left toEngland should remember that the peopleof the Old Country hold a lordship over some eleven or twelve millions squaremiles of the earth’s surface - great areas of the world, equal to fifty times the area of France - and over a population numbering one-fourth of the whole human race, in many parts where the white man is a mere fraction, and that on these little islands, as Lord Rosebery called them the other day, lie the pressure and the duty to defend the Empire. I do not believe that any one in this country would be mean enough to say, “ Oh, leave our defences alone, let England defend us.”’ But when we speak of our defence wehave to remember that there is the defenceof our own shores, and of the trade routes,. the protection of which is vital to our oversea trade, and the defence of which is, in fact, wholly in the hands of the Imperial Fleet, because it is only nonsense to suggest that we can insure its protection by means of a local navy. It must remain in the hands of the Imperial Fleet, which in this connexion is like the surgeon who holds in his hand the artery from which, if it is opened, the whole life’s blood will stream. We know also that if the navy of Great Britain were to suffer a reverse - I do not mean one, or, perhaps, two - but if Great Britain sustained a reverse from which her power would stagger, whether we had an invasion to face here or not, the hand of the dial of the progress of Australia would te put back for a couple of generations. Another thing is quite clear if we recognise this, and that is, that to avoid war we should be ready for it. We require adequate armament, concentrated equipment, and efficiency, and what I lay the greatest stress upon, as Senator Dobson did the other day, a uniform and central direction. We are not to wait until the country is pillaged, our citizens killed, or our houses in flames. We are not to forget, as has been too much the habit in Australia, I am afraid, that the fighting instinct is not yet dead in the human breast. But we are to arm and prepare the power and readiness of the Empire, and to the humble extent to which we are responsible our power and readiness, that we may avoid the horrors of war. We may be all convinced of this, yet there is nothing, and ‘I repeat now that in my humble opinion there was nothing, to justify the scare which took place and the offer of the Dreadnought. I do not say that it was anything discreditable at all; far from it. No one could possibly ignore the effect of a demonstration, or of a declaration, whether it is business-like or not, upon foreign nations. But that is not the point of view from which we ought to took at it.
– It is one of the points of view.
– It was the outcome of hysterical emotion, and not the considered proposal of sane minds. I want to recall what took place, and I am afraid it has been a great deal overlooked. What led to the scare? The Imperial Government were as much alive to the necessity of maintaining the supremacy of the Navy as were, any of us here. It happens that there is a Liberal Government in power in Great Britain, and that there is a Conservative Opposition. It happens that party feeling runs high, and that with a. view to carrying out their policy to increase the strength of the Fleet and to provide ways and means in order to prepare the way– -
– To leg-rope some of their weak supporters.
– That expresses it very well. In order to prepare the way, with many among their supporters who were desirous of economizing in various directions, including the Navy, the Government made a statement. in Parliament with regard to the strength of the Navy, and instituted a comparison, a wholly incomplete comparison, between the building operations of Great Britain and the building operations of Germany. They said that recognising the position it was necessary to lay down four improved Dreadnoughts - not Dreadnoughts as technically understood - two in July, and two in the month of November; and then they went on to say that consideration would be given to improvements, developments, and so on ; and that, if necessary, they took the power to lay down four more next year. That was eight Dreadnoughts. That statement was immediately seized upon by the Tory party for party purposes. Mr. Balfour said, “But you must strike out ‘may’ and put in ‘ shall’ “ ; and, not content with that, he gave notice of a censure motion in the House of Commons, condemning the Government for not immediately laying down eight Dreadnoughts. I shall quote a word or two from an article by Sir William White, who used to be Director of Naval Construction, and who is perfectly impartial and entirely disinterested.
– But the scare was started by the speeches of the Liberal leaders, who admitted that they had been surprised bv Germany’s activity.
– Thai was not the cause of the scare.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– Before the adjournment, Senator Dobson said that he thought the Liberal Government, were responsible for what has been described as a scare.
– I say they started it.
– I do not think so. But I go this far with my honorable friend, and I have said so before, that I think they were “hot wise in the method they adopted in order to induce their weak supporters to assist them to carry the necessary financial proposals in order to strengthen the Navy as they desired.
– That was the object of what they said.
– Undoubtedly. If a Government desire that their proposals shall be carried they must put their best foot foremost and make’ out the best case they can in support of their position. That was a right course for the Imperial Government to take, but I think they were not wise, if I may presume to’ say so, in the method they adopted. It would probably have been better, as many people admitted at the time, if they had been a little more definite as to the course they intended to take during, the following year. The difficult situation was brought about by their use of the word “may.” It was a temptation which, I think, the national spirit, as opposed to the party spirit, might have induced the Opposition to avoid. But they could not resist the temptation, and the first thing that was done was to instantly magnify what was said by the demand to substitute the word “shall” for the word “may.” I propose to quote some references to the matter from an article by Sir. William White, an ex-Director of Naval Construction. He was a perfectly impartial witness. He stands in the front rank of naval constructors, and is aman without any political interests and subject in no way to political influence. He is a man whose patriotic desires and determination to assist, so far as he can, in the building up and the strengthening of the Navy of Great Britain are entirely unquestioned. I quote from an illuminating and instructive article which he contributed to the Nineteenth Century for April. This is what he wrote-
Mr. Balfour desired that for “ may “ the word “ shall “ might be substituted. The Prime Minister declined to accede to that change ; the motion for a vote of censure followed.
But Mr. Balfour, though he gave notice of it, subsequently declined to move the motion of censure himself, and handed it over to a supporter -
The result of this action, as might have been anticipated, was to transfer to the floor of the House of Commons a discussion as to the “ necessary “ number of ships, which matter ought to have been dealt with finally and completely in camera by the Admiralty and the Cabinet.
Is not that absolutely sensible? The whole thing arose, as I say, from the unwise form in which the matter was perfectly legiti mately put by the Government in the House of Commons. One word was seized upon by the Opposition to make political capital with the result that, to use a common expression, the whole of the fat was in the fire, and the country was in a blaze.
– But did not the Prime Minister and Sir Edward Grey say that Germany had taken them by surprise?
– They did not say that Germany had taken them by surprise, but that they were surprised at the progress made under what was called the accelerated programme of German shipbuilding. I shall say in a moment what that meant. I am not speaking with a. view to vindicate the policy of the Liberal Government in Great Britain.I ammentioning facts in order to lead up to an observation I propose to make with regard to what was done here. Sir William White went on to say, and Senator Dobson will probably agree with this also -
But for the important issues involved the spectacle would have been amusing when politicians innocent of technical knowledge like the Prime Minister, Mr. Balfour, the First Lord -
The reference is not to the First Sea Lord, Admiral Fisher, who, of course, knew what he was about - and many others attempted in. public debate to make estimates of the number of new ships which would be “necessary” at various dates, or to fix “danger periods” likely to occur during the next three or four years.
Could any thing be more absolutely on sane lines than that ? How could people at Home, and much more, how could we out here, 12,000 miles away, and depending upon excitable telegrams, possibly form an opinion as to whether the Opposition were right in demanding that eight Dreadnoughts should be laid down this year, or that the Government were right in saying that four should be laid down this year and four next year? The thing, if I may be forgiven the expression, is childish. What was proposed here was the offer of an additional ship. Every one knew that the Dreadnought offered was not to be considered as one of the programme proposed by the Admiralty, who were already prepared to find the money for the number they said were or might be required. But it was to be something additional, which the Admiralty did not want, and the offer of which could only embarrass and inconvenience them, and the offer of which was a condemnation of the policy of the Government in power in Great Britain.
– How could we, with our knowledge of what was taking place in England, be exonerated from believing that there was reason for the panic?
– I do not think the honorable senator is exonerated. I do not think that such a proposal should have been made without knowledge. I saw the other day in the Melbourne Herald- a very well-informed newspaper- that the present scare is about aerial ships. It is said that Germany is constructing these aerial ships in such numbers that Britain must wake up. Are we going to offer an aerial ship? What do we know about them ?
– No one in the other States knew much about it.
– They did not know anything about it. .
– We knew what was reported in the English newspapers and wired to us here.
– I am not venturing to suggest blame at all. I am merely stating the facts as they existed when the offer was made to show that not merely is the censure motion absolutely conclusive to indicate that the Opposition in the Imperial Parliament attempted to make a party question out of the Government proposal, but that a party question was made of that, which we all declare ought not to have been made a party question. For instance, the Morning ‘Post said -
The point, and the sole point which is now at issue between our critics and ourselves, is whether we should bind ourselves to order the four extra ships at once or leave the question to be determined later in the year.
That is to say, these self-appointed critics declared that the Imperial Government were Wrong, and that eight extra battleships ought to be constructed at once. The Government Whip, Sir Alexander Acland Hood, said-
The Unionist party demanded eight Dreadnoughts to be laid down during the year. The country supported the demand, and the Government would either have to accept it or go.
What could be worse than the attempt which was made - as might have been foreseen here - by Mr. Balfour and the Conservative Opposition to use the offer of a Dreadnought from New Zealand as an argument in favour of preferential trade? This is how the matter was treated in Wellington, New Zealand - I quote from the correspondent of the Morning Post, of 21 st May -
Mr. Balfour’s attempt to convert New Zealand offer of a Dreadnought into another argument for fiscal preference has not given much satisfaction here. Of course, we like to be “ cracked up,” and Mr Balfour’s declaration in his speech at the Agricultural Hall, briefly reported to us by cable a week ago, that “ nothing was more moving and magnificent than the unsolicited response made” by New Zealand,” has naturally been well received.
The embarrassment caused to the Imperial Government must have been tremendous, because they could not refuse to accept the offer. The cablegram proceeds -
It has, indeed, been particularly welcome at a time when (he first exuberance of our emotion has had time to cool, and the questioning and critical spirit has begun to raise doubts and difficulties which, were unheard of when the proposal was first mooted. But most of us are quite unable to see the relevance of the incident to the fiscal question, with which Mr. Balfour seeks to connect it.
That is what the offer of a Dreadnought from the Commonwealth would have intensified. Free Traders and Protectionists alike would have been playing -into the hands of the Tariff reformers, the Conservative Opposition, of the Old Country -
If such gifts are accepted, “ our cablegram reports him as saying,” Britain cannot refuse preference to the over-seas States. A fiscal change is now inevitable. The new system must grant what the whole constellation of sister States have steadily, persistently, and patiently asked for, year after year.
Are we not justified in saying that this great national question upon which the Government of the Mother Country were quite as alive as was the Conservative Opposition, was dragged down to the level of partisan politics, and that the offer of a Dreadnought from New Zealand was used to further the purposes of the Tariff Reform party in England ?
– Admitting that statement, which is undoubtedly true, will not the honorable senator agree that the official news which has since reached us” week by week has shown that the original feeling in England was justified?
– The scare? Certainly not.
– The honorable senator has read the speech of Lord Rosebery ?
– I have. Nothing could be more delightful than Lord Rosebery ‘s -speech. I wish to read one or two quotations in support of the conclusion at which I have arrived that this scare was unjustified, and, being unjustified, was utterly mischievous. Upon pages 542-3 of the Nineteenth Century and After, Sir William White says -
Meantime it is desirable to avoid any disposition to create a naval scare for which there is absolutely no justification, and the creation of which could only make us ridiculous in the eyes of the world.
Again, at page 542, he says -
The nation is united in the resolve to maintain that supremacy at all costs, and only harm is done by exaggerated statements or by the hysterical inquiry which has been made in some quarters, “ Can our sea power be saved ?”
Again, he says that upon this question journalists have lost their heads. I would also remind honorable senators that, apart from the number of ships in any’ navy, a good deal depends upon power and efficiency. The efficiency of the British Fleet, apart from the number of ships which it contains, is absolutely unrivalled. Upon that point we have .the testimony of no less an authority than Lord Roberts, who, in the alarmist speech which he made the other day in the House of Lords, declared that the Army was a sham Army, but that the Fleet - owing to the fact that it had not been made a party question - was efficient. He deplored the tendency which has been exhibited during the past month or- two to make the Fleet a party question. There were 300 vessels, each as full of machinery as a watch, manoeuvring in the North Sea for three weeks last year - I note that this year there were 350 vessels so engaged - and the fact that they returned to their respective rendezvous without a single accident, is the most marvellous testimony to the efficiency of the British Fleet as a war machine. An American Admiral who witnessed the manoeuvres said -
The British Navy is impressive, not merely because of its overwhelming size, but chiefly because of the shining efficiency which we seldom associate with bulk. It is the pride of the Briton and of every man in whose veins runs Anglo-Saxon blood.
That is the spirit which we ought to encourage just as we ought to oppose the tendency to accept scares which are created purely for party purposes. I ask the forgiveness of honorable senators for reminding them of a very admirable Lord Nelson story. When Nelson originally set out in search of the French Fleet he had only ten sail of the line, although he was pursuing eighteen sail of the line with a steady determination to bring them to battle. At Barbadoes his fleet “was strengthened by two other sail of the line. When he arrived off Trinidad he thought that the French Fleet under Villeneuve was there. Accordingly he summoned all his captains to a council on the deck of the old Victory. The following is all that took place at that council : - -.He said to the captains : “ The French Fleet is probably there. They have eighteen sail of the line. The Victory will take three, the Canopus, the Spartiate, and the Belleisle, will take two each, and the rest of you will take one apiece. Now’, gentlemen, the fleets are equal.” That is the kind of spirit in which we ought to approach the consideration of the question of the comparative strength of fleets.
– Have we a Nelson now ?
– I believe that we have. I believe that there are admirals in the British Navy who will rise to the occasion should an emergency ever demand it. I deplore the tendency which exists - and it is also deplored by the officers of the Navy whom I met in England - to broadcast these scares and to depreciate the power and sterling efficiency of the British Fleet. Moreover, the strength of that Navy is not to be calculated merely in Dreadnoughts and Invincibles. Upon page 545 of the Nineteenth Century and After, Sir William White says -
Mr. McKenna admitted that this method of calculating in Dreadnoughts and Invincibles alone may seem unsatisfactory, and even unfair, to some persons; and he declared that the British Navy built before the Dreadnought era still constituted a mighty fleet.
Again, on page 546 he says -
Dr. Macnamara might have added that many naval officers consider the King Edward to be superior to the Dreadnought in offensive and defensive power. Mr. Asquith, like Mr. McKenna. confined the .numerical comparisons he put forward to British and German Dreadnoughts, but was careful to explain that while he agreed that vessels of new types will gradually exclude vessels of earlier type from effective competition, he considered the magnificent fleet of forty battleships we now possess to be “ the finest fleet which has ever been seen in the history of the world.” He added, that “ up to the year 1912-13 it will be still the most powerful and most efficient and most formidable fighting fleet.”
– Is he thinking of the two- power standard still?
– Of course he is.
Again, on page 550, he says -
Viewed in the light of the latest information it will be seen that a programme which provides for effectively commencing two new British battleships in July, and two others in November next, and for completing each ship in two years, should give us 16 completed vessels of the Dreadnought and Invincible classes before the end of 1911, at which time Germany would possess nine similar vessels ready for service, two others approaching completion, and two well advanced, but not expected to be ready for service until the autumn of 1912.
– The figures which the honorable senator has quoted are, I presume, based on the assumption that the German Naval Bill is not expedited.
– No, they are on the assumption that all kinds of expedition are used ; that the Germans use as much expedition as they can.
– Sir Edward Grey does not bear that out.
– My honorable friend will pardon me, but Sir Edward Grey does bear it out -
Further, if orders are placed for four additional British battleships so that their actual erection can be commenced in April, 1910, these also should be available before the summer of 1912, and we should then have twenty battleships and cruisers of modern types as against 13 German ships.
All this is on. the assumption that the German difficulties as to finance, of which we read every day in the newspapers, will be overcome. But I deprecate this continual bringing of Germany into our discussions. It may be that we shall some time have enough trouble with Germany ; but this constant comparison of Germany with Great Britain, this constant denouncing of Germany in the press, and the rhetorical efforts that are made by the Conservative Opposition on the platform in England to arouse feeling about Germany, are to be deprecated. Again, on page 560, Sir William White says this -
Suggestions have been made that we should match programme with programme, or “ lay down two keels to one” laid by Germany, or make a supreme effort and decide on the simultaneous construction of such an overwhelming force as would convince the German Government that it is hopeless to attempt a competition with Great Britain.
Some people go as far as to say that England should declare war at once with Germany, and smash her growing fleet forthwith
All these proposals appear to miss the essential point that we already possess an overwhelming force, taking into account the two navies as they exist, while in Dreadnoughts alone we have maintained (as shown above) a considerable lead, shall continue to maintain it for three or four years if the new programme is carried out, and can maintain it without any special programme on lines similar to the German Acts.
Again, on page 561, Sir William White says -
Mr. Asquith has declared repeatedly that the Government fully recognises this duty, and will fulfil it. The programme of ship-building for T909-10, in the judgment of the Government, is sufficient for that purpose.
On the same page he writes -
The assumption that underlies’ the alleged acceleration is that Germany sees an opportunity of overtaking or surpassing Great Britain in the number of Dreadnoughts- available for service at particular dates during the next three years, and that this superiority in Dreadnoughts alone would be fatal to our naval supremacy, because Dreadnoughts have rendered all earlier types obsolescent and of little fighting value.
That is what he points out as the fallacy underlying the whole of this scare -
The latter doctrine has been preached so long and loudly in this country during the last four years that it has found many converts here, and possibly also in Germ any j but the naval authorities of that Empire are not among the believers - in that fallacy, and have given evidence again and again that they are not. They cherish no illusions, but fully recognise the enormous preponderance in power of the British Fleet, and it is folly to attribute to them the desire to provoke a conflict in the near future. We have reason to be ashamed of the wild talk which has been indulged in by some writers during the last few days, and for an assertion that “ Unless the Government can be induced or forced …. to lay down eight ships in the next few months, and to order that those vessels shall be pushed on day and night, our naval supremacy is doomed, and our national life, our Imperial existence, are worth little more than two years’ purchase.”
Now, Mr. President, can anything be more conclusive than that? There may be differences of opinion - if so I have not been able to find them - as to whether, in three or four years, our fighting fleet ought not to be strengthened. It is the business of the Imperial Government to see that no doubt shall exist as to the preponderance of our Navy. But when we find the Imperial Government saying that they are doing everything that is possible, and when we are satisfied that that is the case, they ought not to be embarrassed,, not merely by the Conservative Opposition, whom they have to light, and who a.re making this a party question, but by some people in Australia who, it may be in moments of praiseworthy emotion, say that not only ought eight Dreadnoughts to be built by Great
Britain, but that another Dreadnought or two ought to be given by Australia.
– Has any reason been given as to why Germany is making these extraordinary efforts ?
– I do not know. I suppose she is making them for the same reason as actuates England. I am somewhat apprehensive, like every one else, but I am one of those who suppose - and I saw that an Ambassador said the same thing a little while ago - that Germany is increasing her naval strength because she wants to be in the front rank as a naval power, and to protect her enormously in.creasing sea trade. She probably sees that her interests require to be protected. But I admit fully that it is the duty of the Empire to maintain the British Fleet, to preserve our supremacy upon the seas, whatever Germany may do, and whatever her ulterior object may be. I will come to another passage in Sir William White’s article, which gives the absolute figures as to the mighty Fleet possessed by England at this very moment as compared with Germany -
And he adds this - .
A considerable number of the British armoured cruisers are distinctly superior to some German battleships in offensive and defensive power. The British battleships have 152 12 inch guns in their armaments; the German battleships 40 n inch. British cruisers carry 6S 9.2 inch guns as against 6 9.4 guns carried by the German cruisers. When it is remembered that this mighty fleet will be supplanted in 1912 by at least 16 completed Dreadnoughts, and that 20 such vessels will be ready if the four contingent Dreadnoughts are laid down, while Germany anticipates the completion of 13 ships only by the autumn of 191 2, it must be admitted that no true reason exists for anxiety as to our naval strength three years hence in comparison with Germany ; or that the accelerated completion in that country of any possible number of Dreadnoughts by that date can threaten our superiority sinGe we can build as fast and probably faster.
I ask to be forgiven for making these quotations. I make them especially for this reason : I consider that it is the duty of every citizen, if he can, to allay the feeling of alarm which has been brought about. I am not making these remarks in any party spirit. I should deplore it if there were any party element whatever in the consideration of a question of this kind. But the mind of the country ought not to be left in a condition of panic if any effort of any of us can help to do away with it. I am glad to see that in Lord Charles Beresford’ s speech on the subject he expressly deprecates any panic.
– But he asks far eight Dreadnoughts.
– I beg my honorable friend to recollect that Lord Charles Beresford is not only a naval officer, but also a political partisan.
– The honorable senator quoted him as an authority. I did not. Having brought him in as a witness, the honorable senator should not discredit him.
– Lord Charles Beresford said that there was no occasion for panic. In calling for eight Dreadnoughts he simply adopts the policy of his party. But I am going to call him in again in a. moment to show that Australia ought never to have offered a Dreadnought, and that it was not the proper thing to do.
– It was quite proper.
– My honorable friend will understand that I am not blaming him in the slightest degree, or any one who choses to give -io5>000 towards a Dreadnought. I am quite certain that if Australia had had the knowledge of these things, even these gentlemen would have abstained from the course which was taken.
– I should not.
– My honorable friend would give twenty battleships, and so would I, if it were necessary. If it is put on a businesslike footing, showing that it is necessary, and that the proper way is to make a contribution, I am ready at this moment to vote either battle-ships or money, or anything else. If the Imperial Conference, or Government, say, “ The proper way to assist us is by giving us a contribution of ^1,000,000,” and we have the means at our disposal, I am prepared to support the request, but that is not the position at all.
– The question is, What would the honorable senator have done here without the knowledge?
-I should have held my hand and my tongue. Let me see what happened not knowing the facts, and I always take that into account. In New Zealand, Sir Joseph Ward offered a Dreadnought, or two, if necessary, just as though he had a cupboard full of them and could hand them out at a moment’s notice. Knowing that a Dreadnought could not be constructed for two or three years, and certainly could not be manned by Australians at all, obviously the first thing to do was to consider the best way of rendering that immediate assistance which, if required, it was desirable should be furnished. If immediate assistance was Avanted surely their proposal was not merely futile, but perfectly absurd? That it was not the proper way is shown - I do not propose to express my own opinion about it - by three quotations which I will make. The first is from Sir John Colomb, an admiral who is just dead, but who for years in the House of Commons, took the deepest interest inthe progress of the Navy and whom I heard speak at the Royal Colonial Institute, which was so infected with party spirit that they must needs take a hand in this business in England. The second quotation is from Lord Charles Beresford, and the third from the late Under Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Unionist Government. In a letter dealing with a communication signed by, I think, the Labour members of the House of Commons, and therefore a critical letter on what they had said, Sir John Colomb wrote -
Now, my close observation - extending over forty years - compels me to assert that great mischief and great waste of money has resulted from action taken in spasm; of alarm uncontrolled by any principles and unguided by any settled businesslike purposes.
In the speech which he made at the Australasian banquet, Lord Charles Beresford said -
Before spending a large sum of money it is always well to look at what the result will be. The proposal is an offer from many of the Dominions-
He is given to nautical exaggeration. We all remember the letter he wrote to a clergyman, saying, that if the people knew certain facts as to the state of the Navy there would be a panic all over the place.
– He is a little difficult to manage.
– Yes; one does not know which way he is going to speak. He afterwards suggested that he had never so written to anybody. The unfortunate clergyman in his own vindication produced the letter, and then Lord Charles Beresford said that it wasa private letter.
The proposal is an offer from many of the Dominions, that two millions should be presented to this country for the purpose of laying down battleships, to serve in the Home waters. Well, my view of the situation is this, that all these great Dominions can best help us by making proposals for defending themselves. Now let me take the proposal for spending from any one Dominion two millions on a battleship. Will that really help the object in view?
I am not reflecting at all upon the spontaneity and so forth of that aftersuggestion. Lord Charles Beresford continues : -
Now let me take the proposal for spending from any one Dominion two millions on a battleship. Will that really help the object in view ? There is one point that the English-speaking nations are very determined upon, and they will argue upon it considerably, and that is that whenever they spend money they like to have control of it. I think that is a most reasonable suggestion.
I am one who does not regard it as a reasonable suggestion. I think that if Australia does her duty in contributing to the Imperial burden in connexion with the Navy, she should hand the control over to the Imperial authorities. I do not think that you will ever have an efficient Navy if there is divided control.
– What about the local Navy ?
– We are not talking about the local Navy, whichI think ought to be under local control, unless Imperial interest requires otherwise. Lord Charles Beresford continues -
It is one that we have often heard argued, and in which I myself have the most perfect sympathy. Let us suppose two millions is going to be spent on a battleship. The battleship is to be in these waters, because you would not like to have it different. Battleships by themselves are not of much use ; they have to be in fleets. Imagine there was a war, and imagine that the Dominion’s battleship was in these waters, and the danger that will occur to the Dominions does occur. That is the question of trade routes. I do not think it would add to the sympathy of these Dominions if, after having paid this large sum of money, that this, I won’t call it accident, this circumstance did occur to them, when the money they had invested was defending the shores of this country. I think that might provoke recriminations. The only way the Dominions can be hurt is by their trade routes being cut.
He goes on to talk about trade routes, but I shall not trouble to quote further what he says on the subject. Then I come to the Right Honorable Alfred Lyttelton, because later on we find that the Conservative Opposition were coming to see that this was a national question, and one not to be dealt with as a matter of party politics. At a dinner - I forget whether it was on the same occasion or not - he said -
I myself am convinced the true way to get a great Imperial Navy is not in any sense to check, but, on the contrary, to foster, the national spirit in the Dominions overseas. You cannot have national existence unless you have at the same time the will and the desire to make sacrifices by maintaining national existence by arms, and I am therefore absolutely in accord with Canada and Australia, who desire to form their own Navy and their own Army, and to make that Navy and that Army an essential part of the defences of those great nations and States. I thoroughly believe in that. Speaking purely from the point of view of the Motherland, I am certain we shall derive greater assistance and greater power from the efforts made in that direction than from anv idea of the States of the Empire booming merely contributory to the Mother-Power, and I believe, so far as I have been able to follow it, that is very much the view of His Majesty’s present advisers.
Then we hear it said that the little flotilla of destroyers is to be characterised as a tin-pot Navy. Well, upon that, as I have said, Sir Joseph Ward made that proposal. On the 22nd March, the Fisher Government sent a cablegram which I. believe was the first response from Australia to the situation in England, and which was amplified on the 1 6th April. Quoting from memory, because I have not the cablegram at hand, it was to the effect that, in the event of stress, or the existence of a difficulty, the entire resources of this Commonwealth would be placed at the disposal of the Mother Country. That was a statesman- like response to the situation which was supposed to have arisen in England. If Australia says that whenever the Mother Country is in trouble, I am proud of her, because everv one of us would desire that the whole life’s blood and treasure of Australia should be at the disposal of the Mother Country. I cannot understand, except that the word Dreadnought was used, why a cablegram of that kind should not be as reassuring to England, and as effective a warning to the hostile nations, if they may be called hostile, as the offer of a Dreadnought.
– But is not something specific always better than something general ?
– Something specific if we have it to give.
– So we have.
– We would have to borrow , £2,000,000.
– I do not care about that. We might as well offer the Old Country an armoured motor car. What is the good of the offer when we have not the money or the ship ?
– I beg my honorable friend’s pardon, we have.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON.Where?
– The Government has been offered £2,000,000 in Australia.
– By whom ?
– By two of the banks.
– For nothing ?
– For3½ per cent.
– If the banks had offered the money for nothing I should have said “ Well done.”
– That is all very fine.
– Because I think that if it was an effective battleship, £2,000,000 would have been a cheap insurance for the banks, which I suppose would be looked upon as fair loot by a raiding cruiser.
– Honorable senators opposite said that we would have to go to Great Britain to get the money. We should not have to do anything of the kind.
– We should have to borrow the money, anyhow.
– We should have to borrow the money.
– From our own people.
– But we should have to pay it back.
– Yes, honest men always pay back what thev borrow.
– I never heard it put in that way before. The banks, it seems, saw a splendid opportunity of investing £2,000,000 of surplus capital at 3½ per cent. Is that the reason why they have supported the offer of a Dreadnought ?
– We should have to pay as much as that in England for the money. My honorable friend may be a very good lawyer, but he is a very bad banker.
– My honorable friend is quite right. I am a very had banker. I could not rise to the sublimity of that proposal at all. I have mentioned the proposal made by the Fisher Government, and opposed as I am to the Labour party, their methods, and their programme, I do not see why I should not give them credit in a matter of this sort. I really venture to think that that message best expressed the real views of the Commonwealth.. Why should we not give the Labour Government credit for sincerityin sending that message?
– No one has refused to give them credit, but they have not given us credit for offering a Dreadnought.
– But what was the good of offering a Dreadnought ?
– At the present time about£100,000 has been collected in New South Wales towards the cost of a Dreadnought.
– I think that in New South Wales they should have been able to collect£1, 000,000. I think that there are1,000 men in New South Wales who might very well have given £1,000 apiece.
– Is the honorable senator willing to give £1 ,000 ?
– I do not belong to New South Wales. My friend Senator Walker has led me off the track. I have tried to comply with his request to say a few words on the situation.
– The honorable senator has spoken for about three hours.
– We do not question the sincerity of the Labour party in this matter.
– No ; we must give them credit for sincerity, and, therefore, I ask my honorable friends to say, in all fairness, whether they do not believe that the Fisher message, to which I have referred, was not, I will not say a very noble message, but at least a very appropriate message to send on such an occasion. All the resources of Australia were to be at the disposal of the Mother Country.
– Had the Labour Government all the resources of Australia at their disposal ?
– Had Mr. Deakin, before he consulted Parliament, the£2,000,000 in his pocket?
– Yes, or he knew where to get it.
– I ask Senator Walker not to interject so frequently.
– Perhaps Senator Symon will allow me to interrupt him for a moment-
– Yes ; but could we not discuss these matters better afterwards?
– The honorable senator stated that in New South Wales-
– I again ask the honorable senator not to interrupt.
– I desired to tell Senator Symon something which he does not know.
– I like the honorable senator’s interjections, but he and I must obey the President. I am so delighted to have a chat with my honorable friend that I cannot resist it even in this way. But I apologize and take the entire blame for the breach of the Standing Orders that has occurred. I have only recently ascertained the figures and facts, and I hope I shall be again corrected if I am wrong. What I wish now to say is that the first time on which Mr. Deakin took up the position of standing shoulder to shoulder with New Zealand was on the 7th April-
– It ought to have been the1st April.
– If I am wrong, I hope that I shall be corrected ; but, so far as I am able to discover, it was on the 7th April. I do say that, with the knowledge of the cable sent by the then Government, and I do not care what Government it was, is it not strongly suspicious that the part of Mr. Deakin’s speech - and I will not read some parts of it which are quite unintelligible-referring to the Dreadnought and the willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with New Zealand, was made with a view to putting a spoke in the wheel of the Ministry of the day? If it was made before Mr. Fisher’s cable was sent, of course, I am wrong.
– No; it was made after.
– If it was after, then, I say, it stands out a foot. I cannot acquit Mr. Deakin or others, who subsequently to the despatch of that cable by the Ministry of the day, went to the side of New Zealand and proposed the offer of a Dreadnought, of doing so, not for highly national and patriotic purposes, but for party purposes. That is my view. I hope that I may be mistaken. I find that what Mr. Joseph Cook said was much more sensible, although it is singular to note how he has departed from it. At some agricultural gathering, I think it was, Mr. Joseph Cook said that the Dreadnought would be sent as soon as the Federal Parliament had an opportunity of speaking on the matter. It is a remarkable thing that, if that was the ground of the indictment against the then Ministry, it was not stated in the House of Representatives and made the ground of their dismissal. I say that they ought to have been challenged on that, if on nothing else.
– They were Stabbed in the dark.
– I say nothing about a stab in the dark, or anything of the kind.
– Is the honorable ^ senator forgetting that the two leading States of the Commonwealth undertook to send a Dreadnought themselves?
-But they did not do it, and I should have let them do it if they chose. I have nothing whatever to do with what the State Governments proposed.
– I do not think that the honorable senator should ignore the fact.
– It has nothing whatever to do with me.
– Mr. Deakin knew of it when he said that we could send a Dreadnought.
– Whywas he to kow-tow to and play into the hands of those two States?
– He was giving an opportunity to the other States to come in if they liked.
– I do not wish to discuss that. I do not belong to any of the State Parliaments, and it is for them to deal with that question. I am dealing with the national situation. I say that it is a remarkable fact that Mr. Deakin did not challenge the Fisher Government on this matter, as, I believe, Mr. Joseph Cook would have done. Mr. Joseph Cook was Leader of the Opposition, - and I believe that he would have taken the sense of the House of Representatives on the question. Mr. Deakin did not attempt to challenge the Government on the point. I suppose it was because he “ either feared his fate too much, or hi.s deserts were small. But why did he not do it? If the action of the Fisher Government was improper, what are we to say of Mr. Dea- kin’saction in making the offer he made while Parliament was in session, without consulting Parliament ? I say that it was not the right thing for Australia to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand in this matter, lt was the duty of those in power, with the meeting of Parliament comparatively imminent, to consider the thing, as the gentleman from whom I have quoted suggested, from a business-like point of view. It was not the business of the Government, without full information, to embarrass the Imperial Government, whose difficulties, God knows, are great enough. They have to raise now some ,£20,000,000 or £25,000,000 in extra taxation, which the Conservative Opposition in the Imperial Parliament are opposing in the most strenuous way. Why are they to be embarrassed .by an offer like this? Why is their policy to be condemned? - a policy in which they declared that the Fleet- of England was invulnerable; that England is unassailable on the high seas ; and that the supremacy of the British Navy is as unchallengeable to-day as it was iri the days of Nelson. Another phase of the question requires consideration. Before this Dreadnought could be built, Dreadnoughts might be obsolete. They are being changed and altered every day.
– Did not Mr. Deakin, in making the offer, ask the advice of the Imperial authorities on the question of offering an alternative to a Dreadnought f
– What had the previous Ministry done? The Canadian Government suggested a Conference, and the Fisher Government also suggested a Conference. That was the proper thing to do. I said so in. England, and 1 say so again now. The proper thing to do is to have a Conference, and there arrange what form our assistance should take. Another thing which the Government should have considered - and in this connexion I give due weight to Senator Walker’s information that the banks are prepared tomake a good investment - was the ways and means to make good their offer. Money should be no obstacle to the Commonwealth in assisting the Mother Country. I hope itwill never be assumed that the Commonwealth will allow any question of- money tostand in the way of what the Mother Country requires to maintain the Fleet, which is as much ours as hers, and which is of as much value to us as to her..
– We pay very little tomaintain it.
– I know that we should pay more.
– A miserable £200,000 a year !
– I agree that it is a miserable pittance; but the worst feature of it is that it is paid under an agreement. I say that what we give the Mother Country for the maintenance of the Imperial Fleetshould be given without any agreement at all. We do not want any hiring agreement. What we give should be given untramelled by any restrictions or conditions. How are we to get the money to make good the offer of a Dreadnought? Surely that ought to he considered. We are going to incur a most laudable debt, supposing the offer takes the form of giving £2,000,000 straight away. We must consider how the money is to be raised. Are the Free Traders going to assist Mr. Deakin and the Protectionists to get it from the masses of the people through the Tariff?
– It might be raised by direct taxation.
– Are we to raise it by duties on tea and kerosene ?
– Probably by an income tax.
SenatorSir JOSIAH SYMON. - I do not know how it is proposed that the money should be raised, but, at any rate, I shall be no party - if that is what noninterference with the Protectionist principle of the Tariff means, under this basis of fusion - to extracting this money from the pockets of the consumers in this country by any further addition to that blacklist which now exists as a Tariff.
– Who is responsible for the black list?
- Mr. Deakin.
– Did not some of our Free Traders assist?
– So far as tea is concerned, I answered the honorable senator’s question in the negative last week.
– I am pleased to hear it. I am with the honorable senator. I commend very much to my honorable friends that article by Sir William White. I think it will have a soothing influence, especially after the statements of Lord Charles Beresford in his saner moments, and of Mr. Alfred Lyttelton, But the situation now is a little different, be cause, as my honorable friends remind me, the offer of a Dreadnought, pure and simple, is dropped, though the word is retained, I suppose to save some people’s faces. The offer now is “Or something else.” That is very proper, because, “ of course, that brings the whole question under the consideration of the Conference, and the only thing that can be said in objection to it is that, as Mr. Joseph Cook very properly said, Parliament should have been consulted. I wish to say, however, that, viewing the offer of the present Government’ even in its new form, I prefer Mr. Fisher’s cable. Mr. Fisher’s message was adopted by Sir John Forrest, in a resolution which he moved - andI thank him for that, because I wish to give every one due credit - at a meeting which he addressed in the Town Hall at Perth.
– There was a very good reason for that.
– I do not know what the reason was. I say that Mr. Fisher’s message disclosed the true position. It recognised that it is our duty to bear our share of the burden of Empire. It recognised that the then Government felt that Australia was prepared to do its duty, not merely up to a minimum or maximum, but to the full limit of its resources. It recognised that what is to be done should be done, not in a spasm of fear, or from party feeling, but as Sir John Colomb said, on a business-like basis. It was saying: “Here we are ready; what do you wish us to do? We wish to do our duty; will you tell us how?” It was saying, as has been said in very eloquent lines : -
What have I done for you,
England, my England?
What is there I would not do,
England, my own?
It was asking them to tell us what they wanted us to do, and I do not believe anybody could have gone back on the whole of what that cablegram conveyed. . Personally,whether it be in battleships or their equivalent, I am prepared, when the matter is presented to us on a business-like basis - as I believe it will be with the assistance of the Imperial authorities - to vote for the proposal according to our means, to the enormous benefit to be derived from it, and to the absolute safety of this country, which is wrapped up in the supremacy of the British Navy. But I shall object - as I have done on all occasions - to any sort of an agreement under which we are to hire the ships, whether it be for this purpose or for that. Our local defence is quite a different thing, and upon that point the Government are merely carrying out the policy which the last “ Deakin Government adopted in its correspondence with the Admiralty. The papers in my possession show that they contemplated the purchase of torpedoboat destroyers, and also of some submarines. The latter, however, have evidently been dropped under expert advice. So that the difference between the proposals made by Mr. Deakin and those of the Fisher Ministry was that the former were conditional upon the cancellation of the Naval Agreement, whereas the latter were made on the understanding that that agreement was to continue.
– Until its termination.
– Exactly, until 1913. Sir Richard Poore and others have all recognised the advantage of these destroyers”, and, whatever I may think of their smallness as a beginning, I have always advocated an Australian Navy as an auxiliary to our land defences. In addition, we have had from all quarters expressions of opinion that they would form a most valuable auxiliary to any portion of the Imperial Fleet which might be in Australian waters for the purposes of defence or attack. Then, too,. I think that we should have Colonel Foxton’s instructions before us. Only the other day an inspired paragraph, which was very difficult to- understand, appeared in one of the newspapers. For the reason that that paragraph was obviously inspired, and particularly as Colonel Foxton is not a naval man, I think that we should have the actual text of his instructions before us. The Government would do well to place those instructions upon the table without awaiting any specific request in that direction. I hope that a steady resolve to do our duty to the Motherland and to the supreme Navy, will be maintained. I trust that we will not be. niggardly in considering any proposals that may be made to us. by the Imperial Government. Whatever other effects the discussion of this question may have had, it must have convinced us of our obligations, and of the fact that, however we may stand in regard to other nations - whatever perils, imminent or remote, there may be - we are determined to pour out our blood and offer our treasure in defence of the Empire of which we are citizens. So far as the position in this Senate is concerned. I shall’ preserve a strictly^ non-party attitude. I shall adopt the independent position which Senator Walker has stated his determination of following. I distrust Mr. Deakin utterly as a politician, though I have a great regard for him personally. I distrust his politics utterly, and I do not think it is possible to have any faith in them. <!I have been in opposition to him whenever he has been in office ever since the Commonwealth was inaugurated. I was elected in opposition to him and his Government, and certainly what has recently occurred has not converted meThe Ministerial proposals which may be submitted I shall deal with upon their merits. I confess, however, that I shall view them with a little suspicion as coming from rather a tainted source, and on that account I shall give them the strictest scrutiny. I shall take nothing upon trust. If the measures are good I shall support them ; if they are bad, I shall oppose them. Upon these lines, aloof from the entanglements of parties, I shall do my best, as a senator from South Australia, in the general interests of the Commonwealth and the particular interests of my own State.
– - I ma no intention of speaking in this debate, but Senator Symon referred -in such marked terms to Senator Pulsford and myself that I feel bound to define my position. We must all thank Senator Symon for the very interesting speech which he has delivered, but we must also regret that twothirds of it was devoted to a philippic uponMr. Deakin. I am not called upon to defend Mr. Deakin. He is well able to defend himself, and I have no doubt that the representatives of the Government in this Chamber will have something to say in reply to his strictures before this debate closes.
– Mr. Deakin is the honorable senator’s “ boss “ - his leader.
– Senator Findley may say so, but it does not necessarily follow that his statement is true. I do not intend to enter into a discuss’.on of many matters which were dealt with by Senator Symon ; but in justice to my own State I wish to say that New South Wales and Victoria jointly agreed to bear the expense involved in the presentation of a Dread nought to the Mother Country if the Federal authorities did not see their way to do so. and the Home authorities desired! it.
– But they did so without the consent of their Parliaments.
– Ministers of State have just as mach right to make such an offer on behalf of their States as Mr. Deakin has to make it on behalf of the Federation. The present Prime Minister knew what the States were willing to do, and was accordingly in a position to determine the course which he would take. Senator Symon was absent at the time. He comes from the same country as myself, but I am sorry to say that he has a habit of speaking of “ England,” instead of “ Great Britain.”
– I shall change that habit.
– It is simply preposterous. We all know that historically England is an appanage of the Scottish Crown. With Senator Symon I enjoy Mr. Deakin’s friendship in private life. A more charming personality there is not in Australia. With regard to his political actions, all I can say is, “ Let bygones be bygones.” We believe that Mr. Deakin has very good reason to prefer the party which is now supporting him to that which formerly supported him. I ask honorable members to reflect for a moment upon the behaviour of the Labour party since they were displaced from office. Look at the way that its members have wasted time day after day, and week after week, in vilifying Mr. Deakin for what he has done in days gone by. Who believes in minority rule? Yet twenty-eight members of the Labour party, with four extreme Protectionists in the other House, seem to think that they represent a majority.
– Is the honorable senator wasting time now?
– At the present time Free Traders and Protectionists have agreed to sink the fiscal question, and Senator Symon was a member of a Government which did the same thing.
– We tried to do it, but Mr. Deakin would not let us.
– We intend to improve upon the honorable senator’s experience.” Mr. Deakin has now discovered his true friends, and they are not honorable senators opposite. I feel ashamed to sit here day after day listening to honorable senators vilifying Mr. Deakin because of his faults. What good does it do? It merely irritates him. I now propose to advance two or three reasons why
I intend to give an independent support to this Ministry.
– Another independent supporter ?
– All Free Traders are independent supporters. As a matter of fact, I never knew a Protectionist who did not buy his goods in the cheapest market- and sell them in the dearest. All Protectionists are most anxious to protect their own pockets. I repeat that the fiscal issue has been- sunk for the time being. Honorable senators on this side of the Chamber believe in majority rule, and we have majority rule now. I must congratulate Senator Symon upon having induced my honorable friends opposite to attend in full force to-night. ‘ One of their number is absent in Western Australia, so that, for the first time this session, we have had the pleasure of seeing fourteen out of their full strength of fifteen present. Yet this is what they regard as patriotism. Ministerial supporters also believe in the maintenance of loyalty to Great Britain. We have not any Republicans or extreme Socialists upon our side or supporting us. We do not believe in sympathizing with outrages such as were committed at Broken Hill recently, where men actually dared to say that the presence of police was responsible for certain trouble which occurred. Any law-abiding .citizen should be glad to see police. One member of the late Government actually headed a procession at Broken Hill, and who would dare to say that the Attorney-General of that Administration ought to have conducted himself as he did? I really wonder what the world is coming to. There is such a thing as constitutional action. At Broken Hill at the present moment some are advocating the looting of shops.
– There are hundreds of starving people there.
– I do not care whether there are hundreds or thousands of starving people, that is not the way to set to work. There is a proper constitutional way of obtaining relief. We stand for justice to the whole community, not for one class only. ‘ We do not believe in differential taxation. We think there ought to be honest taxes all round. If there is to be direct taxation, I am an advocate for an income tax rather than a land tax. Why should we disorganize or interfere with the finances of the States?
– God help the honorable senator’* crowd if they get justice ! It will be a bad job for them.
– I do not ask for more than “justice, and I want justice for all. We, on this side, stand for the encouragement of immigration. I was talking a few years ago to a member of ‘ the Labour party who is not now in this Parliament. I said to him : “ Do you believe in a fine stream of European immigration to this country?” He said : “ I want to know how it is going to affect wages.” I told him then, as I have often said to others since, that the Labour party unfortunately believes in an Australia for the whites who are already here, and for no one else. Its members are afraid of wages coming down.
– How would the honorable senator like the ra.te of interest to be lowered?
– Interest is lower now than it used to be. The rate is reasonable enough at present. We also stand for Federation, and not for Unification. One of the charges that will be brought against honorable senators opposite at the next election is that they are going in for Unification. Senator Symon has told us that he cares for measures not men. I have always been a supporter of good measures no matter from what side of the Senate they came. It seems necessary that I should say a word for the Free Traders in this Parliament. We Free Traders have confidence in the Ministry as long as Messrs. Cook, Glynn, Fuller and Millen are in it. But irrespective of those gentlemen we believe that the other members of the Ministry will honestly carry out the agreed-upon terms of coalition.
– What are they?
– The honorable senator will hear that from Ministers later on.
– Which of the three interpretations of the basis of fusion is the correct one?
– I suggest that the honorable senator should get the information he requires from the Government. When we find that such men as Mr. G. H. Reid, Mr. Dugald Thomson, and Mr. Bruce Smith, not to mention others, approve of what has been done, we can be content. Honorable senators opposite have sunk the fiscal issue, and we have been satisfied temporarily to do the same. There is something higher than fiscalism, and that higher policy we intend to promote.
– “ Down “ the Labour party !
– Certainly not; but I want to “ down “ the politics of the Labour party. They lost one of their best men recently because he could not stand their methods any longer. Almost all the best men in their party leave them after a while. Senator Trenwith was once one of them.
– Even the devil was an angel once.
– I do not ‘object to being called a member of the antiSocialist party, although I am not unfavorable to one kind of Socialism. It is a peculiar kind, because it is voluntary. I refer to Christian Socialism. As soon as you make Socialism compulsory it is no longer Christian. My impression is that the Labour party in Australia has touched high-water mark. The election in South Australia quite lately, confirms that belief. Singularly enough some of mv Protectionist friends consider that the present Government has practically nobbled the Protectionist party in the interests of Free Trade, while Senator Symon seems to be under the impression that the Protectionists have nobbled the Free Trade party. Probably neither’ statement is true. Both parties are maintaining their fiscal principles, but for the time being have agreed upon a common platform for the benefit of the country. We put country above party. Some of my honorable friends strike me as being something like the person referred to in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, as Mr. Facing-both-ways. We, while supporting the Government, know where we are. Senator Symon referred to Confucius, who, he told us, said that if you allow a man to spit in your face and do not resent it, he will very likely do it again. Some time ago,’ however, I was reading Waterton’s Travels in South America, when I was surprised to come across an instance to the opposite effect. Waterton, with his comrades, met an uncivilized party of aboriginals in the northern part of South America. He walked up to the chief unarmed, seeing that .the man’s face was kindly in expression. When, he got near, the chief forthwith spat in his face. Wa terton saw that he did it with kindly feeling, and spat back. They were good friends at once. That incident shows that such treatment as Senator Symon has referred to is in some parts of the world regarded as a compliment. Every one here knows I have always, been an individualist in politics. I am still. I think that if a man has the ability which enables him to rise he has a right to what he earns. Allusion has been made to the “tart shop.” Whatever my faults may be, no one can truthfully say that since I have been in Parliament I have shown any desire to secure anything for myself. I do not like these continual allusions to the desire of politicians to secure billets, f take it that we are sent to Parliament to look after the interests of the country. 1 If a politician is offered office and can take it honorably, he has a right to do so, and ought not to be aspersed. I admired the members of the Labour Government in many respects. I admired much of their administration, and never spoke a word in disparagement of them personally in their private capacity. But rr,y good opinion of them has been considerably modified by their extraordinary conduct in opposition. It looks as if they would have liked to remain in office a little longer. They have none but unkind remarks to make concerning those who put them out. But those who ejected the late Ministry did so in the interests of the country, according to their own and my belief. It is not a personal matter. There is not a senator with whom I am not pleased to shake hands. I do not consider that Mr. Deakin is the ne plus ultra of a political leader, but’ under the circumstances we are quite justified in meeting him and his party on a common ground of action for the best interests of Australia, as we conceive them to be.
Debate (on motion by Senator Clemons) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090707_senate_3_49/>.