3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No.1) presented by Senator
– I desire to ask the
Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice, a question which I am putting to him because he played a prominent and important part in connexion with the recent fusion of parties. I wish to know whether he has read a leading article in to-day’s Age, and if so, whether he has noticed the following two paragraphs therein -
The Labour Government, having got the reins of office, went off on its own lines without consultation with its Liberal allies, and in at least three serious points of policy - the Land Tax, the Note Issue, and the refusal of a Dreadnought - placed itself outside Liberal support.
But more than this, while accepting Liberal help in Parliament it was undermining the seats cif its Liberal supporters in the constituencies. That is what Liberals have never done against Labour. On the contrary, the Liberal party gave the Labour party seats which belonged to itself as against Conservatives. This conduct of Labour made further support of it all but impossible, since no political party can be expected to acquiesce in a course which involves its own extinction.
I beg to ask the Minister whether either or both the reasons given in the Age editorial to-day. for the present fusion of parties and the displacement of the Labour Government, are correct?
– What have we to do with this?
– Thepeople of the Commonwealth have a. lot to do with it.
– The honorable senator had better give notice of the question.
– It is an important question, and I ask the Minister when I am likely to get an answer, because the reply he has just given has been given to every question I have submitted since the Senate assembled. However, I give notice of the question for to-morrow, when I hope to get an answer.
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, if he is satisfied with the action of the associated banks in charging exchange on postal notes and money orders, the property of the Commonwealth ?
– I ask my honorable friend to give notice of the question.
Debate resumed from 7th July (vide page 911), on motion by Senator Millen -
That the paper (Further Correspondence regarding Imperial Naval and Military Conference) be printed.
– While probably no member of the Senate might be more likely to succumb to the temptation to offer comment and criticism on the recent re-arrangement of parties and places, I propose, considerably to my own surprise, if not to the surprise of other senators, to ‘almost entirely abstain at the present time from doing so. But I will admit that in our more idle moments, if we should have any, it will be an opportunity which it will be very hard for any one of us to resist. The present position of affairs suggests a garden surrounded by enthusiastic admirers, and, perhaps, by a few whose admiration is only luke-warm, pointing, with a certain amount of pride, to the beautiful trees and the blossoms therein, and occasionally directing attention to a pleasing perfume which one can inhale if he gets near to it. That, sir, is the attitude of many honorable senators who sit on your right hand; but, on the other side of the chamber, there is quite a large number of honorable senators who can approach the garden only with a, handkerchief held to their nostrils, and who in looking at the trees and plants can see nothing that is not withered, and, in some cases, absolutely noxious. We recognise, of course, the enormous margin for divergence of opinion that exists in politics. But, although the suggestion does not stop there, it is rather singular to re member that the very enthusiastic admirers of to-day are the persons who, during the last three or four years of the history of the Federal Parliament, to my certain knowledge and theirs, had one great and definite object, and that was to uproot and throw out of the garden all these beautiful blooms. In those efforts, which were continued for three years, it is quite certain that they would have succeeded but for the fact that this very garden - so far, at any rate, as many of the blooms in it are concerned - was jealously tended, protected, and preserved from any sort of attack by the very persons who now denounce it, and all that it contains, in the most unmeasured and unmitigated terms. When I see all these things, I have come to the conclusion that the science of political horticulture is not an exact one ; or else to the conclusion that the gardeners are very unfit for the duties they have undertaken. Before I pass from this subject, may I say this in all fairness - that the gardeners who three years ago tended so carefully this garden, and protected it so assiduously from injury, were at any. rate gardeners who were not paid. They were doing their duty apparently - so far as I can judge - from love of their gardening, and not because of the profit they made out of the garden.
– They planted figs, and thistles grew up.
– I, at any rate, leave them to their own reflection as to what the result of this three years’ careful work has turned out to be. With that reference, and because I want to speak of things which are very much more important from my point of view than the mere change of places and of parties, I will leave the subject. I should like to take this opportunity, however, because I think it is the most appropriate that has presented itself to me, to congratulate Senator Millen upon the fact that he is now the Leader of the Senate. I do that in all sincerity, and without the slightest reservation; and, I hope, without any honorable senator detecting in what I am going to say the slightest trace of irony. Senator Millen and I have been - and I am never going to forget it - very closely and personally associated in politics ever since we cameinto this Parliament. For many years we sat side by side, and were in complete political unison. I will not say, because Senator Millen seems in some respects to have left me now, that he is going to be entirely different from what I knew him to be in the past. I hope that that is not so. He will forgive me if I remind him at this stage of one of the matters which we used to discuss when we sat together side by side. I refer to the conduct of business in -the Senate. He and I used to deplore, in common with others, that the Senate, in regard to the businesslike transaction of its work, had been continually neglected and hampered. He and I were in agreement that the responsibility for that depended, not so much upon the Senate itself, as upon the Ministers representing the Government here, and especially upon the Leader of the Senate. I hope that Senator Millen will agree with me that it is extremely desirable, wholly apart from party questions, that the Senate should, if possible, be allowed to take the place which at any rate it is fit to occupy.
– Hear, hear !
– I know that Senator Millen will agree with me. Although the Senate itself may do something in that direction, it still remains largely in the initiative of the Minister who is in charge of business here, to bring about that desirable result, which I am sure we all wish to see. Senator Millen, no doubt, has by this time discovered, though he is new to office, .that the giving to the Senate of that proper place which I have indicated, is chiefly to be achieved by the Minister who principally represents this Chamber in the Cabinet. Let me put the matter distinctly; and say that if the Minister, who is leading the Senate, chooses to inforce his will upon the Cabinet generally, and to insist upon the absolute necessity of considering the Senate as a serious part of our legislative machinery, so that we shall properly perform the functions that ‘it is our duty to perform, then I say Senator Millen himself can enable the Senate to do its work. In other words, Senator Millen can, by virtue of his position in the Cabinet, give us an opportunity to perform the functions with which we are intrusted under the Constitution. But. if the Senate is neglected in the Cabinet, that position will not be secured to us. I do not wish at this stage to introduce comparisons, which I suppose I mav be accused of making, having regard to things that have occurred in the. past; but I venture to say this - although Senator Symon is now in the chamber - that we had once in the Senate a leader who was always jealous of our rights, powers, and opportunities, and who, because of the position which he took up in the Cabinet, and chiefly because of that, enabled the Senate, for a short time, to discharge its duties as they ought to be discharged. And since I have made mention of one Government, may I say with respect to another - without saying it bitterly - that it was a fact, and I believe that many members of the Senate who were not in the Government to which I refer will agree with me, that the Labour Government previous to the last was as much to (blame in this respect as any Government that we have had. These remarks, of course, do not apply to the last Labour Government, which had not an opportunity. But the previous Labour Government neglected its duty in this connexion, and put the Senate in an inferior position. As I have said, I do not wish to embitter this question in any way. But I do say that if Senator Millen will give effect to the views which he expressed whenhe was sitting side by side with me, I hope to be able to congratulate him on taking advantage of the opportunity that is now presented to him of strengthening the position of the Senate and upholding its rights with regard to our work, irrespective of all party questions. >
– He will uphold the convenience of the Ministry and let the Senate go hang.
– I venture to hope that Senator Millen will, irrespective of any Government measures that are introduced, have regard to the Senate and its opportunities. I am going 10 speak to-day chiefly on the matter of defence, upon which I feel keenly ; but before I proceed to that, there are one or two other matters which, perhaps, I may be allowed to refer to very briefly. I do not wish to allude particularly to the attitude which I took up the other day on the Supply Bill, except to say that my main object was to impress upon the Government the great urgency of the present situation. I, in common with some other members of the Senate think that postponements and delays are dangerous and undesirable, and, so far as we can possibly avoid them, ought to be avoided. I believe they can be avoided by the Government, if’ they have regard to their own strong position here and in another place. But I am sorry to say that I look upon the Government programme as having been constructed with an apparent desire to shelve questions of grave importance. I am going. to touch upon these things very briefly; but let me first mention the proposal in the Government programme with reference to the Inter-State Commission. I do not know whether it has occurred tomany honorable senators, but it is certainly a fact, that in order to establish the Inter-State Commission as proposed by the Government it will be necessary to amend the Constitution. I noticed with surprise that in the Ministerial statement which is in print no direct reference is made to the fact that the Constitution is to be amended.
– To appoint the InterState Commission ?
– To appoint an Inter-State Commission, having the functions and the powers indicated in the Ministerial programme.
– The Government propose to obtain those powers from the State Parliaments.
– I am very glad to have that statement from a Government supporter.
– How does the honorable senator know that I am a Government supporter?
– If, in the circumstances, it is necessary, I shall be extremely glad to apologize to the honorable senator for having called him a Government supporter. In a statement which Ministers have put before the Senate they do not directly say that in order to bring about this industrial reform they intend to introduce a Bill to amend the Constitution. But they most obviously imply it, because this is what they say -
The pivot of several of these will be found in a Bill for the establishment of an InterState Commission, which, in addition to exercising the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, will also be authorized - to do so-and-so. If I were guided by the Ministerial statement alone I should say that the Government proposed that the InterState Commission should exercise the powers with which it is clothed by the Constitution, and that in addition they propose to confer upon it powers which the Constitution as at present framed would npt permit such a Commission to exercise.
– And which are not Inter-State.
– And which they hope to get under the Constitution.
– I desire only that the point should be cleared up. So far as I can elucidate it myself, I say that it must be the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to amend the Constitution. I find that view confirmed by a newspaper extract which sets out under the heading of “The Basis of Coalition” the four planks of the policy of the present Government, and under the heading of “ New Protection” I see the statement “Amendment of the Constitution to enable “ soandso to be done. I get no interjection from Ministers, and that to my mind is rather significant in view of the fact that I am practically asking a question as to what their procedure is to be. I am bound in the circumstances to assume that they propose to amend the Constitution. Let me point out what that means. I commenced my observations by intimating my dislike of the attitude of delay and postponement. If it is the intention of Ministers to introduce a Bill to amend the Constitution, it must, as honorable senators are aware, be introduced towards the close of the year and probably after October. Honorable senators know well the limitations imposed by the Constitution itself upon any amendment of it. The Bill to amend must receive the sanction of this Parliament by an absolute majority, and then before being finally sanctioned it must be referred to the electors of the whole of the Commonwealth, and must be accepted by a majority of the electors and a majority of the various States.
– That means by four States.
– Yes, - the honorable senator’s arithmetic is quite good. What I wish to point out is that if this course is to be followed, and if the Government are in earnest and do not intend to postpone the settlement of industrial matters, they must bring forward a Bill to amend the Constitution, probably some time after October, to meet the provision requiring such a Bill to. be referred to the country not earlier than two months and not later than six months from the time at which it had received the sanction of Parliament.
– That is assuming that the honorable senator’s contention is correct. *
– I wish that the Minister would help me in the matter. I have really sought to obtain from either of the Ministers representing the Government in the Senate some definite statement as to whether an amendment of the Constitution is intended. Surely I or any other honorable senator discussing the matter seriously is entitled to some statement from Ministers as to whether that is the intention of the Government. I shall be glad to wait for such a statement.
– The position is that, under section 101 of the Constitution, we have the power to appoint an InterState Commission. We can assign to that Commission certain duties as regards trade, and can constitute a Board of Trade in connexion with it. In regard to one matter which will also come within the province of the Inter-State Commission proposed, that referring to Wages Boards, we propose to seel: a constitutional means of securing for the Commission the power to deal with it. That is to say, empowerment by the State Parliaments to legislate in that direction.
– I am extremely glad that the remarks I have offered on this question have elicited from the Government a definite statement. In order to make the matter quite clear I shall re-state the position as it appears to me after the remark of the Minister for Trade and Customs. It now appears that in the opinion of the Ministry it is unnecessary to amend the Constitution with regard in a very considerable extent to the ambit of the InterState Commission as they propose it should be established. But with regard to that portion indicated in the Ministerial statement affecting the question of wages, it appears that it is the intention of the Government to ask for .the permission of the various State Parliaments of the Commonwealth not by the formal method of amending the Constitution-
– By exercising powers under the Constitution, since under section 51 the State Parliaments arc enabled to grant certain powers.
– We all know that the States can delegate to the Commonwealth Parliament very wide- powers not directly given to it by the Constitution itself. Suppose we adopt the method suggested and say to the State Governments : “ We want you to intrust the Federal Parliament with the power to deal with the question of wages. Will you do so?” The only method the State Governments could adopt would, of course, be to bring the request before the State Parliaments, and they could hand over to the Federal authority the powers considered .necessary if those Parliaments agreed. But I should like to ask Ministers this pertinent question : For what term of years, and under what parliamentary procedure known, could any State Parliament hand over such powers to the Commonwealth for all time and without the power of recall ? The thing is unthinkable, and no parliamentary procedure in any State would permit it. If my contention is right, and I believe that it is, the position which the Government wish to take up in connexion with the question of wages, is that we should deal with the question in the Federal Parliament subject to the permission, given from time to time, of the various State Parliaments. I do not wish to enlarge upon the point, but J am glad that I have received an answer from Ministers, and that the position with regard to the proposed industrial legislation is now a little clearer than when I began. On the subject of delay and postponement I wish to remind Ministers of the fact that members of the Federal Parliament have during the last nine years reiterated in this and in another place the difficulty that arises from the delay in the proper adjustment of Commonwealth and State finances. 1 should have welcomed,, and indeed I expected from the present Ministry, which claims in respect of its majority and position to be the strongest we have yet had in the Federal Parliament, a definite statement with regard to that difficult question. I should also have expected from such a Government an immediate attempt to grapple with the question. Instead of attempting or asking Parliament to join in assisting them to solve this question, they propose calmly to shelve it for five years. I wonder what they have to hope or expect from the delay so far as a removal of the difficulty is concerned ? Is it expected that a further five years’ experience is required by any one who has been a student of x Federal politics in order to arrive at some solution? The question is difficult. Will five years delay remove the difficulty? Do the Ministry contend that that is their only object, and if so, do they simultaneously admit that they are unable to propose any solution of the problem now? Upon that point I feel very considerable dissatisfaction. But as my remarks in this connexion trench upon’ the question of finance, I shall defer them till a later stage. I wish now to deal with the question of defence. I hope that the Senate will pardon me for reminding it of the present condition of Europe. Towards the close of last year, and again early in the present year, a condition was reached in Europe somewhat akin to a crisis. In England that crisis was precipitated by the sudden disclosure - apparently a surprising disclosure both, to the British Government and the British people - of the enormous strides which had recently and unexpectedly been made by Germany in the matter of naval construction. This disclosure created at the time what many people call a “ scare.” But it also precipitated something which may be of infinitely more value both to England and Australia - a real awakening on the part of the British and Australian people to an imminent danger, and to the extreme gravity of the present situation. We all recognise that in England there is at present in office a Foreign Secretary, whose reputation is without blemish, who enjoys the confidence of every party in the House of Commons, and who for five years has enjoyed the undoubted confidence of the English people. In the discharge of his duties he has consistently endeavoured by diplomatic methods to insure the maintenance of peace. So far as Sir Edward Grey could succeed, he has succeeded. But what does the measure of success achieved really mean? It means that Great Britain has secured two allies, namely, Russia and France. But when we come to analyze the value of those alliances we must admit that at the present time they do not mean very much to England. To-day Russia has a fairly large and undisciplined army,, which is capable of discharging the functions of a brutal police, and which does discharge them - an army which, to the knowledge of military men in Europe, is notoriously inadequate to engage in war at” the present time. The position in regard to the alliance with France is, of course, a very much better one. That alliance is cordially welcomed in both countries. But the benefits to be derived from it are not at all equal. If we inquire into the value of that alliance we are confronted with this position : If war should break out between Germany and England - and in the opinion of most thinking men it is sure to break out sooner or later - France would be completely at the mercy of Germany, because her danger arises upon land and nol upon the sea. The help which England could afford her - magnificent though it would be at sea - would be of very little, value to her upon land. I suppose that less than one-half of the German army could capture France. In such an emergency the greatest hope of the latter country would be that England would lend her 500,000 men. Now, in spite of Sir Edward Grey’s triumphs as a diplomat, the present position is that, from a diplomatic stand-point, Great Britain is almost the laughing-stock of Europe. Quite recently we saw Russia, her present friend and almost ally, subjected to humiliation and disaster, quite equal to that which she suffered in the Sea of Japan, without a single blow being struck. We know that Germany said to her, “Your interests in Bosnia and Herzegovina are nil. You must stand aside,” and Russia had to yield without attempting to strike a blow. The whole of Europe knows that she could not have struck an effective blow, and, consequently, had to submit. As I speak, I am reminded that it was about 100 years ago that the face of Europe was convulsed by the appearance of Napoleon, a man of restless ambition and great power. I venture to say that at the present time there is a far greater man than Napoleon in Europe ; one whose ambition may not represent the same personal lusts that characterized Napoleon, but whose ambition very fairly reflects the ideas of his own people. To-day the Emperor William finds that, from a military point of view, he dominates the whole of Europe. Germany possesses an army which in war time numbers 4,000,000. She has, as a firm ally, a country bound to her by many close ties almost amounting to kinship, and by a common tongue ; a country which possesses an army inferior only to the German army itself. In point of fact, many authorities consider it the superior army of the two. I refer to Austria. This Pan-Germanic alliance dominates the whole European situation. So far as land forces are concerned, Europe is solely at the mercy of Germany and Austria. What interposes between the ambition of the Emperor William and the full realization of that ambition? Only one Power - and here is where my remarks become pertinent to Australia - the British Navy. The only force which interposes between the realization of the ambition of the German Emperor and the safety of the British Empire is the British Navy. It ill befits any of us to attempt to minimize the great power and genius of the Emperor
William. Now that he recognises the only force interposed between Germany and the rest of the world, he and his Government have set themselves the task of building a navy that, within a few years, will surpass in strength any navy that the world has seen. When once Germany has acquired such a navy, there is no doubt that the whole of England, of Australia, and of every other British Possession may become, in the words of Sir Edward Grey, “A mere conscript appanage of the German Empire.”
– What about Canada ?
– So far as it is concerned there is hope, of course. What interposes between Canada, and Germany is the Monroe doctrine. While that doctrine is recognised Canada is not quite in the same position as Australia but it does not apply to the Pacific or to us. I think that it is idle and not very consistent with our dignity to attach too much value to the very great friendliness of America at the present time. If I seem to have been guilty of any exaggeration in what I have said, may £ offer a few brief quotations not from any panic-monger in England, not from any representative of party feeling, not from any Tory who may want to use the present situation for his own purpose, but from a speech which I heard in England, and which I have no doubt every honorable senator has read. It is, I venture to say, one of the most serious, grave, and important speeches which have ever been delivered in the House of Commons. It was made by Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Minister, towards the end of March. I think it is worth while to quote a few of his remarks, and I feel quite certain that when I have done so no ohe here will say that I have exaggerated the condition of things.
– Was his speech made in the course of the censure debate or on the Estimates?
– I think that it was made in practically a censure debate which arose with regard to the Navy and its efficiency. It was delivered on or about the 20th March. What he said should carry great weight, because he is not only one of the most distinguished ornaments of the Liberal party, but he represents the sound opinion of England generally on this question, and his views are indorsed on all sides - indorsed strongly by Labour men in the House of Commons, by Liberals on his own. side, and by most of the Conservatives. He said -
The House and the country are perfectly right to view the situation as grave. A new” situation is created for this country by the German programme. Whether that programme is carried out quickly or slowly, the fact of its existence makes a new situation. When that programme is completed, Germany, a great country close to our own shores, will have a fleet of thirty-three Dreadnoughts. That fleet will be the most powerful the world lias ever yet seen. It is true there is not one of them in commission yet; but it is equally true that the whole programme comprises what I have stated, and that fleet will be the most powerful fleet the world has yet seen. That imposes upon us the necessity of which we are now at the beginning - except in so far as we .happen to have Dreadnoughts already - of rebuilding the whole of our fleet. That is the situation. What we do not know is the time within which we shall have to do it. That is the element of uncertainty.
I might, perhaps, quote further from his. speech, but I prefer merely to remind honorable senators that it was delivered, and to suggest to them that if they view the situation with any interest it is one which is very well ‘ worth reading. I now come to the question of what we are going to do about our own defence. We enjoy the “completest ‘measure of self-government which any country could possibly have. Practically speaking, we are unfettered and unhampered in all legislation. What is the corollary which follows from such a position, and what sense of responsibility ought to accompany such a privilege? It is because we are so completely a selfgoverning community that upon us devolves immediately the responsibility of carrying out that first duty which every nation owes to itself, and that is the duty of providing for its own defences. Could anything be more certain than that, that is the necessary corollary which any rightthinking people ought to immediately recognise and act upon ? If we possess this right of self-government then in the one matter of unbounded importance - the one matter in which our duty stands out more prominently than it does in any other - are we to say, “ While we govern ourselves freely and unhampered by any restriction which Great Britain could impose, we are going to impose upon her the whole duty of providing for our defence?”* That sort of position ought to be untenable, but it has existed for very many years. It certainly has been the position during the whole life of this Parliament. With regard to naval defence what is our situation? We have still an agreement where- by we pay Great Britain £200,000 a year, and not only ask her to comply, but by the terms of the agreement insist upon her complying, with certain conditions in return for that money. Was ever such an agreement made between two countries situated as these two are - that we with the right of selfgovernment and the bounden duty imposed upon us of looking after ourown defence, should calmly go to the Mother Country and say, “ We will give you £200,000 a year towards the cost of your own defence, and in return for the money insist that you should do this thing, that thing, and the other thing?” For my part, I would tear up the agreement to-morrow. I think that it ought to be torn up. I do not want any one to misunderstand my views. It is just because I feel so strongly that the bounden duty of Australia is to join in some scheme of Imperial, as well as local, defence that I would say at once to England, “ Tear up this agreement and let us have some infinitely better arrangement - a better arrangement for you, and one which will be more compatible with our own notion of self-respect, if not with our own notion of self-interest.” Put it down on the lowest ground you will; dismiss the question of self-respect or the question of self-interest as the one dominating factor in the situation, are we going to be content with paying £200,000 a year for naval defence? I should not be for a moment. What does it all mean? To Senator Dobson, who is very keen about these matters, and whose spirit I cordially welcome, but whose methods are, I think, mistaken, let me point out in quite a practical way what this agreement means.
– I do not care two pins about the agreement. Our fair share of the cost is £2,400,000 a year.
– I will come to that matter presently. I want to state some reasons why, in my opinion, the agreement ought to be torn up at once by the present Ministry, with the concurrence of the Home Government. In return for our annual payment of £200,000, the Home Government, by virtue of the agreement, is put to an annual expenditure of £600,000. What sort of gift is that to make? Further, what does it mean in regard to the ships which are here? I wonder if any one knows the present rating and naval value of the ships of this squadron. Will it surprise honorable senators, if I tell them that the Powerful, the chief boat on this station, has merely to get back to England to be scrapped, and would certainly not be in commission at the present time, but for the fact that she represents part of the carrying out of the agreement which Australia enforced upon the Home Country? I wonder if honorable senators know that the Powerful is a more expensive ship to maintain than is a Dreadnought ; that her complement of men equals the present complement of a Dreadnought ; and in point of efficiency I suppose that in a wide enough area of sea, one Dreadnought could sink twenty Powerfuls to-morrow. In these circumstances, let us look at the agreement, and consider in a practical way what it means to Great Britain. The English Government were asked to accept an annual gift of £200,000 towards their naval expenditure. It was impossible, of course, for them to say to Australia, or any self-governing Colony, “We do not want your gift.” They could not do so ; they would not do it. Rather than hurt our feelings, and, perhaps, do something to check a sentiment which it is desirable should spread, they found themselves more or less compelled to accept the agreement, and the corresponding conditions. I have not the. slightest hesitation in saying that the British Government, at any rate the British Admiralty, would cordially welcome the tearing up of the agreement to-morrow. In these circumstances, why should we delude ourselves that the one and only way in which we can help Great Britain and ourselves is by maintaining an agreement of that sort, and paying £200,000 a year?
– Some few persons do think so.
– I confess that I am astonished to hear Senator Dobson say that, but at the same time I am pleased that he did. I certainly was of the opinion that he and many others were desirous of continuing the agreement. I always thought that their chief criticism was that the agreement was all right, but that the contribution was not enough.
-They denounced the Labour party as disloyal, because we opposed the continuance of the agreement.
– Neither in myletter nor in my speech did I do so. I do not care two pins about the agreement. I got out a return to show what a contemptible contribution we make.
– I do not think that the honorable senator quite understands the situation as I am putting it. My view is that the agreement should be torn up tomorrow, and that in place of it, and as a proposition infinitely superior to any agreement of that sort, we in Australia should seriously, and at once, consider the question of Our naval defence, and expend far more than ,£200,000 a year thereon.
– Hear, hear.
– I give the fullest credit to those who supported the gift of a Dreadnought to the Empire, for the reasons which actuated them, when those reasons merely represented - in a foolish way, from my point of view - the spirit and the desire to assist the Mother Country at the present time. To that extent, I give them the fullest credit. The corollary to that is that to the fullest extent to which that offer was meant for party purposes, either in England or in Australia - and in many cases it certainly was so meant - to the fullest extent to which it had that object, or was put forth with that motive, I denounce it as a discreditable and disgraceful act. I do not intend to fasten the accusation upon any particular persons, but I hold that the Dreadnought offer was actuated by different motives. In all sincerity, I give Senator Dobson, for instance, credit for his desire that Australia should co-operate in her own defence, and in the defence of the whole Empire, but I say to the persons who used the Dreadnought offer apparently as a party trick, that their action was contemptible. I dissociate myself entirely from it, and I think that it ought to be denounced. Let me now look at the practical side of the question, and suggest to Senator Dobson that he should consider it from two practical points of view. Let us assume, on the one hand, that the Dreadnought offer might be paralleled by the generous desire of some one to help somebody else along. In other words, it represented a gift. Now, it is a very common practice when some of us are called upon to make a gift to someone else - as in the case of persons about to be married - that we do not make an indiscriminate gift, which might reflect the goodness of our heart, but might appear to the individual a very poor thing indeed. We generally adopt a saner and wiser course if we want to confer a benefit in a practical form. I suggest that the Government can take that as a. practical illustration. I suggest further that it was not the most practical form of assistance to offer a Dreadnought to Great Britain.
Let me put the matter in another way : Let us assume that any individual, or any body of individuals, is prepared, for some reason or other, to invest capital in some undertaking which may be desirable or necessary. What isthe usual procedure? Nine times out of ten the ordinary capitalist is not an expert in the business into which he is going to put his capital. But he has come to the conclusion that the enterprise is a good, desirable, and sound one, and he is prepared to invest. What is his procedure? If he is a sane man he obtains, the services of the most competent expert he can find. He says : “I am prepared to put £100,000 into this venture. You are the most competent expert I can find-, and I propose to ask your advice as to how this money shall be invested.” That is a practical method. It is something similar to that which Australia should say to England at the present juncture. Let me indicate to the Ministry what I should like to see them do, and what I shalt urge them to do; I do not use any stronger verb than urge. I wish to make my position quite plain, and in order to show how seriously I consider the present situation the following is what I should like Ministers to. do at once : They should1 ask this Parliament to adopt something definite, or, in other words, invite’ Parliament at once to enter upon a naval programme. Without desiring tomention particular figures, I say now that I am prepared to cordially support and to do everything I can to bring about a policy by which the Government .of Australia, recognising its bounden duty to the Empire, shall be prepared at once to commit itself to a naval policy involving an annual expenditure of “One million pounds sterling. I would vote for that tomorrow.
– That is x very good plan.
– It is the Labour Government’s proposal.
– I venture to say that if a proposal to that effect were brought down it would receive the almost unanimous support of the Senate. Indeed, it would receive the support of the Opposition for the most part. Governments are occasionally afraid of the attitude of the Opposition, but many of the present Opposition - of course, I cannot speak for them - are to my own knowledge cordially in favour of such a policy as that.
– Hear, hear.
– Our policy was pretty well known.
– That was it.
– The Ministry are fortunate in that they can obtain the advice and assistance of the finest body of naval experts the world has ever seen. I mean the British Admiralty. To put the position quite plainly, this is what I should like to see the Government do : They should commit Australia to an annual expenditure of one million pounds for naval purposes, and when they have secured the vote of that money they should simply invite the Admiralty, the real experts in this matter, to tell Australia how in the best and most economical manner that money can be expended. We can only venture to express our personal opinion as to how it should be expended. For my own part, if my opinion is worth anything - and I think very little of it myself - I think that the Admiralty would advise us to proceed very much upon the lines upon which the late Government were proceeding. This is my honest opinion. It would be of material assistance to the British Navy in time of war if Australia had a fleet of vessels such as have been referred to in our discussion.
– Destroyers ?
– Destroyers of the best type - ocean-going destroyers - which have a great value in time of war, and in addition to destroyers, possibly some fast cruisers.
– :We cannot afford to defend our coasts, and to have a navy for sea-going purposes as-well.
– I wish that Senator Dobson would try to understand me. I repeat that, in my opinion, it is the duty of Australia to vote at least one million pounds per annum for a naval programme, and I say further :hat Australia would be foolish, ill-advised., and ridiculous in the eyes of the world if. being able to get such expert advice as the British Admiralty can give, she did not immediately consult the Admiralty, and adopt whatever means the experts suggested for the expenditure of that sum of money.
– Hear. hear.
– Would the honorable senator condemn any expenditure of money for naval purposes if it were undertaken without consultation with the Admiralty?
– I can quite understand the drift of that question, and I am sorry that there should be given to the discussion of this matter any sort of party complexion.
– I am asking a simple question.
– Moreover, if Senator Millen desires to invite my opinion - the value of which I have already indicated as being extremely little - may I remind him that, so far as we have had any indication, of the opinion of the Admiralty, and so far as they have been consulted as to what was a desirable form for the naval defence of Australia to take, we have had the assurance that the very form adopted by the late Government was the one which they recommended. But, though I feel so strongly on this subject, it is, I think, idle folly for us, or any one of us, to assume that he can lay down the best policy for Australia. Every one of us desires, I am sure, that Australia should show an active form of co-operation in naval affairs with Great Britain. We desire that steps should be taken to enable Australia to co-operate in Imperial defence at once.
– The only way to defend our shores is to have a navy to help to maintain the command of the seas.
– May I suggest, in all modesty, to Senator Dobson, that, instead of emphasizing any differences that may exist between him and me, he should recognise that the British Admiralty is a fat more competent authority than any man living in Australia at the present time, whether he be a senator or otherwise.
– That is quite obvious.
– Then why should Senator Dobson quarrel with me on a point which I say I would leave deliberately to the decision of an infinitely greater authority than we have in Australia?
– There is to be an Imperial Conference.
– It is because of that Imperial Conference that I have urged upon the Ministry the importance of this question. What do we know about that Conference? All that we know is that Colonel Foxton has gone Home practically with no instructions whatever. Indeed, I recognise that it was extremely difficult for the Government to give him any instructions. But this is what I should like, and this is why I think the question is urgent. In my belief, if the Ministry would adopt the method that I shall suggest, it would be a sound and a strong thing to do, and would receive the indorsement of Australia generally; as well as of this Parliament. Before Colonel Foxton leaves that Conference, he should be instructed by ‘the Ministry to say that the Commonwealth of Australia is determined to spend one million pounds per annum in naval defence; and he should further say that he’ is instructed by the Ministry to consult with the Admiralty, and obtain from them the best advice they can give on the subject. To’ do that would be to take steps towards arriving at a decision, and if that were done I venture to say that the statements made by Colonel Foxton at the Conference would be of infinitely greater value than any that have been made on behalf nf Australia hitherto. I have spent sufficient time on this question of naval defence. I reiterate that I am prepared to sacrifice a great deal with regard to other matters - -I am prepared to do a certain amount of unpleasant swallowing - if I can find that I am supporting any Ministry - this Ministry for choice - which ‘ will take a firm hold of this defence question, which will take up the naval question as it ought to be taken up, and which will insist at once that Australia shall recognise her full responsibility, will ask Australia to become selfrespecting, and, if it be necessary, will descend to even lower levels, and appeal to the self-interest of Australia. if the Ministry will do this, let them begin seriously to tackle the question without delay. With regard to the military side of our defence problem, I do not feel qualified to speak, nor do I feel so keenly on the subject. But upon the’ general question of defence I have to admit that I shall vote for some scheme of compulsory service. By that I do not mean an indiscriminate and more or less useless form of compulsion put upon small boys of twelve years of age. I recognise the futility of taking boys of twelve, compelling them to go through a certain amount of military training - foecause their training is not merely physical, it is occasionally military - and then, when a boy reaches the age when he might be expected to be of some value as a military unit, dropping him altogether. That sort of compulsory training seems to me to be quite useless. I began by disliking frankly this compulsory training policy ; but I am prepared, at the present time, in view of the position of Australia, to accept some scheme of this kind. I do not bother about the details of such a scheme.
It is sufficient for me to commit myself to the indorsement of the policy. The details will have to be worked out by the Ministry. It seems very desirable that we should do something to improve our land force. When we entered upon Federation, we hada force of about 28,000 men. At that time the cost of the whole of our defences, including £200,000 for the naval subsidy, was about £800,000. At the present time we have -a force of 22,000 men, and our expenditure has gone up from £800,000 to £1,100,000.
– Those figures do not give the real position. The force is now better equipped, it has larger reserves of ammunition, and better arms than at the inauguration of the Commonwealth.
– I am pleased to. hear that assurance. I confess that I have not analyzed the figures in detail. I propose to make a quotation from a newspaper which is at least enthusiastic in support of the present Government, and I ask. Ministers to say whether the statements, categorically made in it, are true. If they are, I invite them to consider what is their bounden duty with regard to defence. These are the statements made -
We have been a Commonwealth for eight years and a half; and to-day our forces are below peace strength ; are inadequately clothed and armed ; cannot be mobilized for want of transport equipment and transport arrangements; they have not trained officers to lead them, nor could we arm those men whom we pretend we would enrol if war really came. If we sent an army to battle, we should have no mean* ready for supplying it with ammunition - if by luck we had the ammunition to “be supplied. Artillery, which has at times been an overwhelmingly decisive arm in modern warfare (as the campaigns in Manchuria showed), has been so absurdly handled that men* have been trained with a battery of dummy guns. Men in rifle clubs have their patriotism rewarded by the chance of firing one shot in ten from a borrowed rifle. Cadets, to whom we point with national pride, are given no rifles at all.
– Yet the last Deakin Government cut out over ,£100,000 placed’ on the Estimates for defence material.
– Who cut out £160,000 blindfold from the first Estimates submitted? The Labour party.
– I am not concerned with anything in the nature of mutual recrimination as to what one Government did and another did not do. I am most seriously concerned with the present situation, which, as detailed in the quotation I have made, deserves most serious consideration.
– Will the honorable senator permit me to say that there has never been a refusal by any section of the Federal Parliament to vote adequate supplies for material, but the last Deakin Government would not give Parliament an opportunity to do so, although they were aware of the fact I hare stated.
– I say at once that there are few members of the Senate, or honorable members in another place, better qualified than is Senator Pearce to point out to us the very many great failings that have been the conspicuous feature of our administration of defence since Federation was accomplished ; but I am not so much concerned with past errors. I am concerned about the present situation. 1 have intimated what I think with regard to the labour question, and now I say that if the statement which I have quoted from a newspaper which supports the Government, and which can have no possible desire to find fault with them, is true, they have a duty before them that clamours insistently for immediate attention.
– Will they take up our Defence Estimates? We proposed to ask for £500,000 additional this year.
– Why this strenuous effort to bring party feeing into the discussion of such a question?
– Whilst I have already said that I recognise that Senator Pearce is now very well qualified to offer us advice and assistance, I do deprecate :the introduction of any party considerations in dealing with this question. In the House of Commons a very sound practice is followed, which few men who care to retain the respect of that House ever venture to break, of keeping all questions of defence as free as possible from any party taint. It would be very wise and desirable for us to adopt a similar practice in -this Parliament.
– It is not always followed in the House of Commons.
– I admit that, and I am afraid that we shall not always follow it here; but, so far as I am personally concerned, I shall do my utmost to be guided by that practice. If it is any proof of the sincerity of my intention in this regard let me say at once to the members of the Labour party that I found myself far more in accord with their policy with regard to defence than I ever have been with the policy of any other Federal Govern ment on that subject since I came into this Parliament.
– Let the honorable senator come over here.
– No, I shall not go over there. Whilst I am capable of generous criticism of the proposals of my honorable friends, there is between myself and them a very wide gulf fixed. Though I am in many matters opposed to the Labour party I have not sunk to such a low level as to refuse to them generosity of criticism when I can offer it. I shall not refuse them full credit for what they have done, and what they have attempted to do. I should like to say that, in my opinion, one ot the best things they ever did since they entered this Parliament was to send the cable which they despatched at the time when so much was being said about the offer of a Dreadnought. It was referred to by Senator Symon last night, and I should like again to remind the Senate of the exact text of it. This is a copy of the message to which I refer -
From the Prime Minister to His Excellency the Governor-General. Melbourne, 22nd March. Re our conversation on the subject of the naval crisis. I desire to formally convey to your Excellency that the attitude of the present Government is that, whilst its policy is to provide for its own defence -
I thoroughly agree with that - still, in the event of any emergency, the resources of the Commonwealth would bc cheerfully placed at the disposal of the Mother Country.
Wide as is the gulf between my honorable friends and myself, I say that that message reflects very great credit upon the man who sent it, Mr. Fisher, and upon the party he leads. I think it represented a very proper treatment of the situation as it then presented itself. I have ventured only to touch upon military defence. May I bring under the notice of the Government a very important matter on which I should not touch were I not so sure of my ground? I suggest that it is very desirable that they should at once set aside a sum for the investigation of aerial navigation, so far as it affects the question of defence. I have given notice of a question which appears on the business-paper to ask if among the instructions to Colonel Foxton there is any reference to the subject. Possibly, Ministers and many honorable senators to-day adopt an attitude of scepticism with regard to the future of aerial navigation.
– They laughed at it when I mentioned . it here six months ago.
– I do not wish to sound any personal note or to claim authorship for the suggestion. But, knowing what I have recently learnt on the subject,’ I should not be discharging my duty in the interests of the defence of the Commonwealth if I did not urge on Ministers the very great necessity of investigating the subject. At the present time, in my Opinion, the science of the navigation of the air has reached such a stage that the early perfection of it is an absolute certainty. I wonder if the people of Australia generally, or even the members of the Senate, know just what is going on. Do they know that Germany, France, and America have made immense practical commercial strides in the matter of aerial navigation ?
– England has done Something in that way, too.
– It is just because I see what England is doing now that I feel on surer ground than ever in raising this question. There is one thing which we cannot fail to recognise with respect to England, as characteristic of all the past history of England. It is that if in connexion with any question of manufactures or the advancement of sciences, England has once decided to take up any new scientific invention, she has done so’ on such sure ground that she has never yet had to retrace her steps. Still, she has always given a start to almost every other nation in the world in the matter of scientific invention, but when she has once started she has never needed to retrace her steps. It is, perhaps, only since I left England, a few months ago, that the British Government have taken up this question in all seriousness. Surely it is not necessary for me to remind the ‘ Senate that only the other day a German type of the dirigible balloon succeeded in travelling 564 miles, at an average speed of 24 miles an hour. It is only the other day that in another form of aerial navigation represented by the aeroplane another man succeeded in travelling a considerable distance at the rate of 40 miles an hour. It is well known that that very clever inventor Mr. Wilbur Wright, who rose to his present great scientific position from being merely a bicycle mender in some town in the United States, stated in clear and simple language that there was now no limit to the ability . of himself and others like him to successfully navigate the air, and that thedistance to be travelled was simply a mechanical question of the strength, of the motor power he could take in his car. He indicated that that wasa difficulty which could be very quickly overcome. He made this statement, at the place where he was experimenting, to no less a man than Mr. Balfour. Since the statement was made immense strides havebeen made.
– There is the question of expense.
– With regard to the question of expense, what I urge particularly on the Ministry is that the question of expense is absolutely infinitesimal when compared, for instance, with the expense of building Dreadnoughts. Mr. Wilbur Wright is ready to supply machines of his aeroplane type at a cost of somewhere between £2,000 and £3,000. I say that the Government would be well’ advised, and would be doing a strong thing, if they decided immediately to set aside at least £50,000 to investigate thesubject of aerial navigation.
– And inventions generally.
– And inventionsgenerally; but I specially urge the investigation of the subject of aerial navigation in its relation to defence. One of the greatest scientific men in the world, whose dicta upon scientific inventions arealways regarded with the greatest respect - I refer to Sir Hiram Maxim - made a very clear statement on this subject. We cannot afford to neglect what a man of hisstanding has to say. This is what he said in April, as to the rate of progress, and’ by this time, July, many further steps havebeen taken -
At the present rate of progress, declared Sir Hiram Maxim, we shall certainly havemachines inside of a few years that will travel at a rate of sixty miles an hour, and will beable to carry a load of 1,500 lbs. He added, that a thousand such machines could certainly be built for less than the cost of one Dreadnought.
If we are to pay any attention to the careful and weighty utterances of such a: man, whose repute is well known, it will be admitted that we shall be foolish and incredibly slow if we do nothing. There is another phase of the question to which I may refer. _ Is there in this matter of aerial navigation anything to prevent the inventive ability of Australians from commencing at once to deal with the subject? Surely we have men here capable of dealing with it. I have myself heard of amateurs who have displayed almost sufficient capacity to tackle the question, and by the work of Australian ‘inventors something concrete might be produced which would be of immense value to Australia in connexion with our defence. I do not intend to weary the Senate on the subject, but it must be apparent to all thinking men that the value of aerial navigation in time of war is almost incalculable. I remind honorable senators that in England at the present ti’me the first military and naval authorities have set themselves most seriously to consider some form of defence to meet the possibility of an attack by means of aerial navigation in time of war. I shall not dwell longer on the subject, but I again urge upon the Ministry the necessity of giving it serious consideration. Should they come down in the Budget statement, or even before it is delivered, with a proposal to set aside a sum of money for the investigation of the subject of aerial navigation in its relation to defence is there any one who would say that such a proposal would not be eagerly welcomed? If any opposition were offered to it that opposition would emanate from a very small minority.
– It would be unanimously accepted, I think, if the Government did not propose to expend borrowed money upon it.
– Before concluding my remarks, I propose to devote about five minutes to the question of finance. Many times in this Senate, with the full approval of Senator Millen, I have pointed out the desirableness of abolishing the book-keeping provision of the Constitution. I say that that provision is a blot upon the Federation, and that its operation is un-Federal and unfair. I am willing to recognise all the discrepancies that its abolition might bring to light. I am prepared to remedy those discrepancies as far as it is possible to do so. In short, 1 am willing to do anything to secure the removal of the obstacles which prevent the abolition of the book-keeping section of the Constitution. I make that statement for the benefit of honorable senators from Western Australia, because I recognise that that is a State which stands in the way of its abolition. So much importance do I attach to the removal of the objectionable bookkeeping system that I am willing to accede to any reasonable arrangement which may be made to meet existing conditions. But I wish now to impress upon the VicePresident of the Executive Council one other aspect of this book-keeping system which . has probably escaped his notice. It is that it is burdened with so many imperfections that, since joining the Federation, Tasmania has been deprived of at least £150,000 to which she was justly entitled.
– That arises from “ leakage ?.”
– Yes. Further, I do not think that I exaggerate when I say that one-third of the employes in the Customs Department might be dispensed with so far as the necessity for their services is concerned, if the book-keeping system were abolished. A statement of that kind may seem somewhat staggering, but I believe that it is perfectly accurate. The immensity of the work which the system imposes upon Customs officers is not even dreamed of by most honorable senators. Further, it interposes a hundred obstacles to the proper completion of Federation. For instance, how can we secure uniform postage throughout the Commonwealth whilst this objectionable system is continued? I understand that the Ministry have been considering the question of uniform postage, and though possibly they may be able to see some method of giving effect to it whilst the existing system obtains, I confess that I cannot. If, we were to abolish the system we should pave the way for the easy working of many other portions of our Constitution. 1 might say much more upon the financial question, but I think that I had better bring my remarks to a close. I shall have other opportunities of discussing the matter. The Ministry will have to bring forward the Budget statement, and must afford honorable senators a fair opportunity of debating it. But before resuming my seat there is just one subject upon which I must say a few words. I feel sure that many honorable senators cannot look complacently upon the large payment which the Commonwealth is annually called upon to make to the Queensland sugar industry. I do not see how even Protectionists can regard the payment of the sugar bounty with complete satisfaction. If a cynical philosopher were to drop in amongst us and to investigate the question of the sugar bounty he would be consumed with unquenchable laughter. By the payment of a large bounty from the Commonwealth revenue we have arrived at a position in which the Australian consumers are called upon to pay £6 per ton” more for their sugar than are the inhabitants of any other part of the world.
– Is not that the price we are paying for the abolition of black labour ?
– I am afraid that it is not. At any rate the kanaka labourer has gone, and I should like to know how long the payment of the sugar bounty is to continue. Of course, I recognise that the abolition of kanaka labour was the avowed object underlying the legislation enacted by this Parliament in reference to the sugar industry. But surely the time has arrived when we can treat this industry as we would treat any other industry.
– A term is fixed for the operation of the bounty’.
– But the honorable senator knows very well that one of the most difficult questions with which we shall -be called upon to deal .will be the termination of that bounty.
– Are there not several articles in Tasmania which receive as high a. measure of Protection as does the sugar industry in Queensland? Hops and jams are two of the most highly protected articles in the Commonwealth Tariff.
– I am dealing with the sugar industry from the stand-point of the Commonwealth revenue. But since Senator Givens has mentioned the matter I say that Tasmania pays far more for the maintenance of the sugar industry in Queensland than she receives in the form of Customs revenue from the articles to which allusion has been made. She has been doing her share - as she is bound to do under the Constitution - to maintain the Queensland sugar industry. I hope, too, that the Government will pay serious attention to what I have said in regard to the question of defence. -I wish to warn them that while my present attitude towards them is not entirely friendly, it is going to be seriously modified either one way or another by the attitude which they adopt towards defence, especially naval defence. I will go a long way towards overlooking little discrepancies - with, of course, occasional reminders - if .1 find them strong enough and willing enough to tackle this big question, which in my opinion, completely overshadows any other with which we have to deal. So strongly do I feel upon it that I would almost become a supporter of a Labour Government if they would tackle the question of defence and no other Government would do so. I hope that I shall not find myself before the end of the session in a position to say that they have disappointed me. If I have to say that I shall have done with them. If they fail in this respect I shall do my utmost in the interests of the Commonwealth and of the State which I represent to turn them out of office.
– I propose to occupy the attention of the Senate for only a few minutes. I feel compelled to do so, however, owing to someremarks which were made by Senator Symon yesterday. He did me the honour of resurrecting from the pages of Hansard’ a speech which I made in this Chamber incriticism of Mr. Deakin upon the occasionof the resignation of the Reid-McLean Government. Now, the facts are that I entered this Parliament as a follower and staunch supporter of Mr. G. H. Reid, whom I greatly respected, and in a political sense loved. Believing, that the real reasons underlying the downfall of the Reid-McLean Ministry were the wisdom of its administration, and the fact that it was appreciated by the people of Australia, and believing also that certain powerful’ influences behind Mr. Deakin realized the true position, pressure was brought rehear
– Who brought pressureto bear?
– I have in my mind thepowerful influence of the Age, and of theextreme Protectionist party in Victoria. They realized that the Reid-McLean Ministry were affording such marked opportunities for advancing the best interests of Australia that they felt that their causemight become endangered. Holding that belief, and being a staunch supporter of Mr. Reid, I thought that he had received most unfair treatment. Actuated by thatfeeling, I certainly expressed my views in language which was, perhaps, very forcible,, but which in no sense do I withdraw even now. Perhaps if I was speaking at thepresent time I might not speak so forcibly as I did then. But at that time I believed that it was my duty to speak as; warmly as I did in the interests of the party which I represent here. In the circumstances, however, I do not consider that E used one word which could be characterized as too strong.
– If the words were true then are they not equally applicable now ?
– As years roll on our views are considerably modified. Language which we used in certain conditions, and which might have been perfectly applicable at the time, is’ not applicable to new conditions, when time has mellowed us.
– Truth is eternal. It is not something which is true to-day but false to-morrow.
– I realize that Mr. Reid would have been more than human if he had not expressed in as strong language as he could the facts as they occurred to him at that time. I think that the people of New South Wales as a whole also felt that in the circumstances he had not been fairly used, and that his Government had not received that trial which its merits warranted. I very much question if he has not given to Australia one of the most splendid examples of self-sacrificing loyalty, in putting aside his great personality and his claim to a position which his great ability and experience warranted him in aspiring to. He -realized, with others, that no solid permanent Government could be established unless it had at its back a majority to carryout the behests of the general public’ Having come to that conclusion, and believing that he was one of the stumbling-blocks to the consummation of that object, he was prepared to efface himself. In view of his experience and his ability he might have fairly aspired to be placed in the proudest position which any man in Australia could hope to reach - to be not only the leader of a party, but also the Prime Minister. That was, I think, a fair view to take as to the possibilities of the future. I think that Mr. Reid waived his chance with the belief that by taking that course he would advantage the people of Australia as regards its permanent progress by securing a Government which would represent the views of a majority of the people. The reasons which then actuated Mr. Reid are those which have actuated me in following the present Government. I hold that in every change of Government there must be sacrifices made. Mr. Chapman, Sir Thomas E-wing, and Senator Keating must have made sacrifices in deciding to support the present Government. It is just the same with the Free Trade party in New South Wales.
I was elected as a Free Trader to serve under Mr. Reid. I am still a Free Trader. From boyhood I was nursed in that doc trine. I believe now, as I have always believed and always will believe, that the best interests of Australia would be advantaged if we could .have established a Free Trade policy. But I recognise that such a thing is impossible, that we should be simply running our heads against a stone wall without achieving any practical result. Believing that the system of caucus Government is dangerous, and inimical to the best interests of the people, I unhesitatingly give my support to the present Government rather than bring in a Government which would be dominated by a minority. The caucus stands for a programme, and the Labour party would put it into operation if they had the power. I for one am not here to find fault with the Labour party as a whole. I contend that in many things they have shown a fairness, an ability, and a dignity which do them credit; I recognise that they have risen to the position which they now hold. They ought to be proud that they now form one of the great parties by which this country is governed. They could not claim to be a great party when they represented only a minority of the people. Previously they were one of three parties, but now they are recognised as the Opposition. In my opinion that has placed them in a stronger position than they have ever held before. But so long as I. have a vote here I shall do the best I can to crush caucus domination. I believe that in the exercise of its power it is not democratic, but autocratic, anc! that its results have been anything but conducive to the advancement of the best interests of the people. I shall support ‘the present Government loyally and as a staunch party man. I do not believe in the existence of an independent party. I do not want to be even the candid friend of the Government. If I givemy support to the Government it is given cordially, but if it violates the pledges which it gave to the country, then I will unhesitatingly withdraw my support. 3 shall staunchly support the present Government; I have always been a party man. because I realize that if the advantages of the two-party system are worth anything each party must be to a certain extent loyal to itself. I recognise that whilst I receive an allowance of £600 per year for my parliamentary attendance the time of the Senate could be much better employed with the consideration of public business than with a continuous outflow of words, uttered often rather to waste time than to promote the general interests of the counry
– On the question of Defence no doubt the speech made by Senator Clemons will command a great deal of attention and approbation. He very properly pointed out - I do not know whether he intended it as a correction of some comments by Senator Symon - that, after all, the alarm which spread throughout the Empire, and which reached Australia in March, was not exaggerated. And he quoted very aptly and properly from a speech delivered by Sir Edward Grey. Last night Senator Symon took up the position, that it was a scare which was largely worked up for political purposes, and to some extent he directly charged the Government with taking the opportunity to offer a Dreadnought for the purpose of embarrassing the Liberal Government. I shall quote from the speech of Sir Edward Grey’ two extracts which will show that he never made any charge of the kind against the Opposition in the House of Commons, and prove from the expressions of the Prime Minister of England how he did regard the offer of the Dreadnought. It is quite true that, when speaking to a motion on the ‘29th March, Sir Edward Grey to some extent’ regretted that a. vote of censure had been moved at that time. These were his words -
I must regret that the Leader of the Opposition should have taken what he considers the latest opportunity possible, but which we consider the earliest,- of putting down a motion which is a vote of censure as regards the navy.
His only complaint against the motion from the Opposition is there clearly expressed, that he thought it came too early. But he added these significant words: -
I gladly admit that the honorable member and his friends opposite have on many questions of national policy shown the greatest restraint, and have avoided making them party questions. And, with regard to foreign policy 1 cordially and unreservedly admit that, not only the Leader of the Opposition, but the whole party have done so.
Then he went on to say in the same speech -
To turn the navy into a party question, if it be done unnecessarily or prematurely, or by an exaggerated anticipation of alarm, is the greatest political crime any party could be guilty of.
He there plainly admitted, as Foreign Secretary, that his complaint was not that the Opposition were working up a scare, as alleged by Senator Symon. So that what the matter amounts to is that Senator Symon has charged us, and has charged the Opposition led by the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour in the United Kingdom, with an offence which Sir Edward Grey studiously refuses to indorse. Mr. Balfour replied to that portion of the charge made by Sir Edward Grey that he had, perhaps, brought the matter on prematurely. He said -
He thought that argument on such a crucial question was the most proper and satisfactory method of dealing with a very anxious situation. He had been accused of having brought forward this motion on the policy with regard to Dreadnoughts in a purely party spirit. On . this particular question he had pleaded with the Government not merely in the three nights’ debate this session, but every session since they had been in power. If any honorable gentleman would look at the speech he made in 10,06 when the Government announced their determination to drop one of the Dreadnoughts on which they decided, if they would look at the other speeches made by him on the Navy Estimates in March, 1907, and March, igo8, they would see that he had anticipated all the great points they had now got before them, the absolute necessity of augumenting the fleet of the future with Dreadnoughts and other ships and the -great increase in the German power of output. Now, when the question had reached what he conceived to be, not merely a critical and a dangerous phase,. he waited for three days for some help from gentlemen who now had the destinies of their country in their power, before he asked, the House to take a form of decision upon a matter in which the interests of this country were vitally concerned.
– I desire to call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– I regret that Senator Symon is not present to hear what is, I contend, an absolute and complete refutation of what he said about the Opposition in Great Britain intending in any way to raise a scare. Mr. Balfour went on to say -
Would any one say that that procedure was . of a party character? He had never on any question of this kind said a single word which could either weaken the hands of the Admiralty in providing for what he believed necessary for the safety of the country, or to weaken the foreign policy upon any great or critical occasion.
Senator Symon went on to allege that the offer of a Dreadnought in the condition of parties in England was intended to embarrass the Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith. I venture to say that, after I have read an extract from Mr. Asquith’s own speech in Glasgow on the 17th April, the least we shall be able to say about that charge is that it was absolutely and grossly inaccurate. Mr. Asquith, as Prime Minister, had received with pleasure the offer of New Zealand and the message from the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and he used these words, which I take from the weekly edition of the Times of 23rd April -
Before I leave the matter, there is the less controversial and more pleasant aspect of it that is the Navy), which we shall all be glad to acknowledge. I mean the magnificent offers made, and if their value could be enhanced by the line and generous spirit in which these offers have been made, on the part of our selfgoverning Colonies. Nothing could have been more gracious and more tactful or indicate a more generous and patriotic conception of the common obligation of Empire than the attitude of those Colonies in regard to this matter. I will only venture speaking for myself - I have not had the opportunity of consulting with my colleagues, and what I am saying is unofficial - to say that, I cannot help thinking that it might be possible, and if possible, eminently desirable that we should bring together into consultation or, at any rate, into common consultation those great Colonies and the Mother Country, so that we may, not with regard to this particular year alone, but with regard to the future in general, concert in the spirit which they have so finely exhibited, and with the common object we ought to have in view to ascertain as to our respective shares in this great inter-dependent work of the Naval Defence of the Empire.
Where, now, is the evidence that the Imperial Government was embarrassed by this offer, or that Mr. Asquith, as leader of the Liberal party, was embarrassed? He welcomed the offer as a fine and patriotic exhibition of the feeling of the Dominions in a crisis’ in the Empire’s history. To come to a later declaration, I find the London correspondent of the Melbourne Argus, writing on 4th June, commenting upon the position of the Navy, and the very difficult position confronting the Mother Country and the Empire.. He says -
Lord Esher, although he is looked upon by the Little-army politicians as an alarmist, is a member of the Committee of Imperial Defence, with access to tlie best sources of information on all army and navy guestions, and is as levelheaded a man as can be found in the official world. Whatever he says, therefore, commands attention. Speaking in Scotland last Saturday, he said : - “ I am no alarmist, but no one can look at the recent trend of events in Europe [apparently referring to German policy in Morocco and the Balkans], or in the Near East, and the Far East, without becoming aware that Great Britain stands in a more perilous position than at any time during the past hundred years.” He went on to say that our safety was based on the fleet, and, for the first time since 1805, our supremacy of the sea had been challenged, and our fleet was becoming relatively weaker than perfect safety required. These were grave symptoms, he added, and they ought to be matters of anxious thought to everybody. He declared that unless our Government, whether Liberal or Unionist, took strong and immediate steps to assure the national safety, the rising generation might have to fight for the freedom of the country and the freedom of Europe. He considered that our naval supremacy could only be maintained in one way, and that was by laying down two ships for every one of the next strongest power. Lord Esher also declared himself in favour of universal military service, even if the nation had to resort to the odious necessity of compulsion.
This goes to show that there was real cause for alarm with regard to the ship-building programme of Great Britain. Further, it shows that the offer of a gift from Australia was heartily welcomed in England It may be that the last word as to the form of the offer to England has not been said. The offer may not ultimately take the concrete form of a Dreadnought. There is room for a difference of opinion on that matter. But I take it that the offer was intended as notice to any single Power or combination of Powers that might attempt to challenge the supremacy of Great Britain, that in that event we should be “into it,” to use a common expression, to the extent of our last dollar. Much has been said about the merits of a land tax. A land tax seems to be, in the opinion of the Opposition, a panacea for almost all possible social evils. I shall not enter into a controversy as to its merits at this stage, but I should like to point out a rather significant circumstance, the land tax being the keystone of the financial policy of the Opposition. On the 25th November I gave notice of a series of questions bearing upon this subject. It was only about the 12th of December that the answers to these questions were given to me. They were put during the time that the last Deakin Government were in office, and were answered when the Fisher Government were in office. I take it that the imposition and adjustment of a land tax involves a very important financial question, and that a good deal of information of a, very accurate character ought to be given to show what the tax should be, how it would operate, and how revenue and indirectly . land settlement would be promoted by it. As indicating the character of the information I received I shall read two of the questions. I asked that there should be laid on the table of the Senate a return showing -
The estimated number of persons in each State holding agricultural areas, and the number of such areas, of over ^5,000 (i.) in im-. proved, and (ii.) in unimproved value, and the total aggregate value of the same. The return to show the number of persons in classes of ^500 above the value of ^5,000.
The number of persons and areas as in (1) holding areas of A’5,000 and less as in (i) and (ii.) of (1), and the aggregate values. The return to show the number of persons in classes of ^250 in the £$,000 and lower values.
– I call attention to the state of the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
– The two questions to which I have referred asked for. what I believe to be essential elements of information required 1*.foré any Government could tell how a- land tax would operate. The answers given from New South Wales to these relevant and very important questions were these : - (i.) Department is not in possession of any information concerning “ improved “ values. (ii.) Records of Department as to “ unimproved “ values are not up to date. (iii.) Only figures available for compilation would be those at 31st December, 1906, in Shire Areas, and 31st December, 1907, in Municipal Area. (iv.) Impossible to furnish information as to “ unimproved “ values within a period of less than three months, (v.) Estimated that the cost of compiling such a return would be ^2,000. (vi.) Commissioners unable to incur or recommend such an expense.
Similarly incomplete answers as to the value of land held by individuals above the. value of £5,000 are given in the return from Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. The only inference to be drawn from that is that at that time the Government had not in their possession, or if they had did not give it, information essential to the initiation of a policy of land taxation. I maintain that until such accurate information is compiled by any Government that seeks to establish a land tax that Government will be unable to justify the submission of such a proposal to Parliament or the country’, let alone the passing of it. Arising out of the question of a land tax it has frequently been asserted from the other side that there is no land available for settlement in Australia. That statement has been made ad nauseam. Perhaps it would be better “that I should direct the attention of the very few of my honorable friends who are at present on the other side to another matter. Possibly they are so few, because in anticipation of what I have to say on this subject they prefer to remain outside, and it may interest them to know that I shall, probably, shortly have an opportunity of giving this information to a very much larger audience. I have here a brief extract from a paper read by Mr. Elwood Mead, which appeared in the Argus of the 5th July. It is so short and sharp, and contains so much, that it may go absolutely without comment. Mr. Elwood Mead is, I suppose, the foremost authority on irrigation, and the closer settlement of small areas, perhaps, in the world, and probably what he has to say on the matter will, to me an American expression, “go.” Speaking with the deliberation and responsibility attaching to one holding a most important office in the Lands Department of Victoria, he says -
I have stated that to develop the possibilities of this district will involve the settlement in it of four thousand more than it now contains, excluding cities and towns. Where are they to come from? The other districts soon to be settled will need 25,000 more people. Where are they to be found ? When 4,500 acres of land were offered for settlement in Cohuna it was not all taken, and there is 2,000 acres in this district still to be settled. When 40 blocks were offered at Nyah only 30 were applied for.
He adds this very significant statement, clearly with a knowledge of what has very often been said by honorable senators on this side -
While I am in favour of giving home people the first choice of the blocks, I do not believe that there will be applicants for half of them, and I am certain that the State will have to secure some settlers from abroad.
At the Department I asked the price of these Cohuna lands, and I was informed that the purchase price of the freehold of these small blocks ranged from £50 to £60 per year-
– What was the area ?
– I am not quite sure of the area. The blocks differed in size, but I think they ran from 60 to 120 acres each. The payment of the purchase money was extended over twenty or thirty years when the freehold passed into the hands of the settler. That is some contradiction of the statement made as to the utter inability of intending settlers to secure land in Australia. Another statement frequently made by honorable senators on the other- side is that they are irreconcilably opposed to the system of borrowing. I do not suppose that any man acquainted with politics in Australia will say that there has not been some borrowing which has not been justifiable, or that some of it has not been reckless and extravagant. But to argue that because some borrowing has resulted unsatisfactorily, that all borrowing is bad, is only about as logical as to argue that because some idiot or lunatic has drowned himself, a man should not have a swim. As regards borrowing, I maintain that the developmental work of Australia is “practically only now beginning, and as a large portion of that work will fall to the various Governments, it is not right or fair that the cost of the work of Government Departments engaged in opening up and developing Australia should in every case be charged to current revenue. This applies especially with respect to expenditure on reproductive works. If we take such large sums from the current revenue of a young country like this, whose imperative necessity is immediate development, we shall be starving developmental works. In the case of reproductive works, the lives of which may be accurately -measured, and which, for some purposes, may be regarded as permanent, to capitalize the account or deal with it under a system of terminable annuities, would be fair not only to the development of the country, but to the taxpayers. I venture to say that at the present juncture, any Government of the Commonwealth, or of a State, that would restrict developmental works to expenditure from current revenue, would merely stop the development of the country, and would be visited very sharply by the people. May I ask honorable senators opposite which of these two alternatives they would prefer : That the Post Office Department should be cramped in its operations, and, as alleged, by some critics of it, its employes incessantly sweated ; or that we should relieve current revenue of the cost of permanent postal works, and charge them to a capital account? I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that from the financial point of view, the latter is the sounder policy, and that the proper policy for Australia to pursue in this connexion is that which was more than suggested by the report of a Cabinet Committee in May last. Rather than that the business of the Post Office Department should be hampered, this system of finance should be immediately initiated. I believe that the ex-Treasurer of the Commonwealth is now one of the hopes of the Opposition? We are invited to believe that he has remained staunch and true where everybody else has been faithless. I take it that he is a convert to the financial policy so frequently and so vigorously asserted by our friends opposite, with whom he is now closely allied. But a very brief glimpse at the past political history of the Commonwealth-
– I think we should have a quorum to listen to the honorable senator. [Quorum formed.]
– I find that the ex-Treasurer, Sir William Lyne, was at one time a very strong borrower, and I wonder whether he has been’ entirely converted from that policy to the policy which is so strongly urged by the party with whom’ he is now associated. The Lyne Ministry were in office in New South Wales from 14th September, 1899, to 27th March, 1901. My authority for that statement is the Official Year Book of New South Wales for 1904-5, page 451. From that publication I learn that on 30th June, 1899, the amount of Treasury bills, debentures, and stock authorized totalled £94,291,527. Upon 30th June, 1900, it had increased to ,£101,165,508, and on 30th June of the following year it had still further increased to £107,868,893. In other words, during a period almost coterminous with that of the Lyne Government the amount represented by Treasury bills, debentures, and stock had increased °.v £13,577,366. It will be seen, therefore, that up to 1 90 1 the ex-Treasurer was a pretty fine exponent of borrowing. The loan indebtedness during tHe same period shows similar expansion. On 30th June, 1899, the total loan expenditure of New South Wales was £62,074,652, which represented ,£46 18s. 4d. per capita, but on 30th June, 1900, this indebtedness had increased to £^64,475,595, which represents £47 19s. sd. per capita, and on 30th June of the following year the amount had still further, increased to £67,263,715, which is equivalent to ,£49 5s. lod. per capita. Thus during the period in question the loan indebtedness increased by £5,189,063, or £2 7s. 6d. per capita. I have been constantly twitted in this Chamber - of course, in the utmost good humour - with taking a great deal of interest in the question of Socialism. I am sorry that Senator Pearce is not present, because he it was who started the chorus when he unintentionally charged me with an offence of which I am not guilty. I take no. exception to his reference to me, because I recognise that he did not wish to misrepresent me, and, further, because he put his remarks in the most perfect form, and in the best of temper. He declared that on the occasion of a public or semi-public meeting I had said that I was opposed ‘to all Socialism. One could easily tell by the smile which accompanied his charge that he thought I had made rather a stupid statement. But I can assure him and other honorable senators that in addressing public meetings I am always careful to point out that I am opposed to that Socialism which has for its objective the nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. I dare say that the reporter thought it was unnecessary to say anything more than that I was opposed to Socialism, because, by general consent, we all mean the same thing when we use the term “Socialism” in an economic and political sense. But I would further point out that I used the term as it was defined by a Socialist Conference which met in Sydney in February, 1905, for the purpose of setting out its political objective. When Senator Pearce launched his charge against me I inquired : “ Are you not a Socialist?” That is a very awkward question to ask my honorable friends opposite. Senator Pearce could neither evade my question nor deny its accuracy. He knew the sense in which I used the term, and he replied : “I am a State Socialist.” When, therefore, he charges me with having used the term “Socialism” in a vague sense, I am fairly entitled to ask him to distinguish between the meaning that is generally attached to the term and the particular meaning which he attaches to the term “ State Socialist.” There is one kind of explanation which is very freely given by Socialists in Australia. Some of them affirm that Australian Socialism is not anything like European Socialism. On the other hand, many of them declare that on the social and economic side there is no difference between Australian Socialism and Continental Socialism. I believe that those who say this are right. But lest there should be any doubt about the matter, I wish to quote from, an Australian authority, which will be regarded as almost unimpeachable - I refer to the Queensland Worker - which, on page 4 of its issue of 15th July, 1905, says:-
– I should like to see a dozen honorable senators present to hear this. [Quorum formed-]
– The Worker wrote : -
Cardinal Moran, who breathes a semipontificial blessing on the Socialism of the Australian Labour party, has nothing but hard; words for what he terms Continental Socialism. There is really no difference between the two.
On the Continent the Socialists are more or less in conflict with the Church it is true, but that is because on the Continent the Church has slipped into the arena as the ally of the rich man. The Church on the Continent needs modernising.
I entirely agree with that portion of the Worker’s statement, which declares that there is no difference between the Socialism of the Australian Labour party and Continental Socialism. Those who know the history of the Worker must recognise that it is one of the most competent and fearless exponents of Socialism in the Commonwealth. What are the objectives of Continental Socialism? I propose to quote them from unquestioned authorities. The first authority I shall cite is Mr. Belfort Bax, who, in an article published in the Twentieth Century, entitled “A New Catechism of Socialism,” says: -
Socialists are essentially thorough going Republicans. Socialism, which aims at political and economic equality, is radically inconsistent with any other political form whatever than that of Republicanism. Monarchy and Socialism, or Empire and Socialism, are incompatible and inconceivable.
There is another very well-known European authority on the matter, BoruttauI certainly would ask Senator Pearce this question: “From his point of view what is the difference between State Socialism and International Socialism?” The position of Boruttau on the matter of International Socialism was never for a moment misunderstood in Europe. He was the editor of that great newspaper, the Volkstaat, and he also defined European Socialism as -
A new view of the world which in the department of religion expresses itself as Atheism, in that of politics as Republicanism, in that of economy as Communism.
My authority for the quotation is Professor Woolsey’s Communism and Socialism, page 247. Bebel, the well-known authority, gave another definition in almost exactly the same terms, and I believe in a speech delivered in the Reichstag or* Socialism. I have taken the quotation from Dawson’s Lasalle and German Socialism, page 286 -
We aim in the domain of politics at Republicanism, in the domain of economics at Socialism, and in the domain of what is called religion to-day at Atheism.
I could go on multiplying these extracts, but I do not want unduly to intrude upon the time of the Senate. I have only made these quotations becauseI was challenged by Senator Pearce, as I said, in a very good-tempered way, to explain what it was that I did say to my audiences on the question of Socialism, and why I said it, and why I advise and will continue to advise the people of Australia to resist that form of Socialism which I have already defined, and whose objects I am now putting forward from their own unquestioned and unquestionable authorities. On that point I will conclude with an extract from the Social Democrat, which is the official organ of the German Socialist party. The extract I am about to read appeared in its issue of 25th May,1890. In defining “ Socialism, its economic and other aspects “ it used these words -
As a matter of simple fact, it must be candidly avowed that Christianity is the bitterest foe of social democracy.
Mr. President, I must make some apology for reading the following words, because they are revolting to ordinary Christian ears, but, as I have been challenged to give a definition of some aspects of Socialism, I have to repeat them -
Just as so utterly a dunderheaded religion as Christianity could only strike root at all 2,000 years ago in a humanity that had completely degenerated, so ever since its efforts have always been directed, not as one might suppose to rid the world of misery and destitution, but rather to use them for its ends and as a cloak for its other vices and enormities.
It goes on to say -
When God is driven out of the brain of man the whole system of privilege by the grace of Cod comes to the ground -
– I call attention to the state of the Senate, sir. [Quorum formed.]
– The extract goes on to say that practically they must drive out the idea of Christianity and also the Deity, before they can realize their economic theories. There is no mistake, and no hedging about these authorities as to what are some aspects of Socialism. And believing that they know what they are talking about, and are thoroughly in earnest in the business which they have in front of them, I think it is my bounden duty to warn the people of Australia against that kind of thing - not against all Socialism, because one cannot make such a wide generalization as that, but against this Socialism which is so frequently spoken of, not merely by European authorities, but by authorities right in our midst.
– As this is an important matter, sir, I think that we should have a full attendance. [Quorum formed.]
– Before concluding that part of the subject, I shall quote something bearing on what might be called the moral aspects of Australian Socialism, some portion of its moral objectives, and, again, I will use the same authority. The Worker defines some of the moral and religious aspects of Socialism, and the quotation I am about to read will be found in its issue of1st April,1905. It is on the same trenchant - one might use a harsher term - lines put forward by Belfort Bax and others. There is a remarkable analogy on the economic side and the moral side between the views put forward by that writer, and by the responsible Worker, which was the pioneer of the Labour and Socialist party in Australia. In answer to the question, “What is the religious basis of Socialism,” the writer - the editor, I suppose - says-
I have come to the conclusion that it has none. For which may the gods of all the religions be praised. When the Labour movement has to turn to God for help, it will be God help it indeed. Religion deals with the supernatural and the superstitious.
I am giving extracts from the article, but these in no sense, I think, do any violence to the general text. It continues -
Labour as labour knows nothing more supernatural than the growth of a cabbage or the development of an idea. Its credo is purely materialistic, concerning no world but this world. Gods it looks upon with suspicion as probable violators of unionism. The Labour movement is founded upon solidarity, and the gods arc the great disintegrators. Religion cannot live without a deity. Labour writes up on its door-post -
Wanted, A Saviour. - No Gods Need Apply.
All the churches are officially opposed to Socialism. Not one of them has pronounced in its favour, from His Holiness of Rome to the Rev. S. McQueen. Where Labour men and women of every faith and want of faith as. semble together the order of the day. should be
No gods or dogs admitted.
There is a wonderfully close analogy between that official opinion of the Worker on. some of the moral aspects of Australian Socialism and the opinions quoted from European authorities. Assuming that these official organs understand what they are talking about, and mean what they say, and that behind or with them there is a powerful political party which has a distinct and clearly denned objective, certainly from the economic side, then I think that there is absolute justification for those who believe that on that side it might be ruinous to Australia resisting it. In 1905 a. Federal Labour Conference assembled in Melbourne. Any one who is acquainted with the history of these objectives and these Conferences, will find, so far as one can get reports of them, that there is a great deal said about what the objectives mean, and so on. At this particular meeting four different objectives were put forward, and one of them was adopted. Senator Pearce was one of those who had something to say about the objectives, and, in view of what he said, it becomes necessary, I think, for me to state clearly what his position there was with regard to them. Various other well-known members of Parliament, both State and Federal, were present. There was a difference of opinion between the representatives of Queensland and of the other States. Senator Pearce said-
– I think we should have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– Senator Pearce objected to something that the Queensland delegates had put forward, and he made use of the following remarks -
If his Queensland friends wished to be ahead they should withdraw their objective and accept that of Melbourne. It was wider in its scope. It asked them not only to adopt State, but International Socialism. They had something from New South Wales they could deal with.
The objective was adopted as put forward in the official programme. I have frequently drawn attention to the fact that there is a tendency to hedge as to the distinction between the various forms which the Labour objective has assumed. I shall quote from a leading article in the Worker, which dealt with these different proposals.
– Matters are getting worse, Mr. President ; we really must have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– I was pointing out that the programme was analyzed by the authority that I mentioned. I quote this because of the rather curious comment which the Worker made. It said -
The Queensland objective is more comprehensive and more exact in expression. It is also, . we hold, more honest in intent. The New South Wales objective really does not go as far as it seems to do, and for that reason may be said to carry the stigma of guile. a
The Worker went on to say that, after all, the practical intention of the objectives in their various forms, amounted to the same thing. I am glad to see Senator Pearce here now, because it was ‘really the observations made by him which caused me to inquire into these objectives. I believe that the present Government has many, merits arising from its constituent parts. It was recognised that there was a danger in the former situation. I trust that the Government, by its administration, will realize the anticipations of its allies. If so, they will receive fair and loyal support under the terras of the fusion. My honorable friends who sit in Opposition
– Where are they ?
– There are not enough on the Government side just now, Mr. President. [Quorum formed.]
– During the progress of the debate it has been a frequent source of comment by the’ members of the Labour party that their Government was unfairly and improperly treated. On the contrary, however, I, from my knowledge of events that have occurred, am inclined to think that the situation has been anticipated and steadily prepared for by the members of that party. I may be doing ‘ them an injustice, but I really believe that they intended to bring about, as far as they could, the events that have occurred. One of the reasons for their seeking to take office wis this.
– I think the honorable senator’s party should take more notice of his remarks, and I call attention to the state of the Senate.
A quorum not. being present,
The President adjourned the Senate at 5.40 p.m.-
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 July 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090708_senate_3_49/>.