4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether, before the 1st September, he will give to the Senate an opportunity of discussing fully the questions of the new telephone rates?
– The honorable senator knows the opportunities which are provided by the Standing Orders for discussing that as well as any other question.
– Will the Government give to the Senate a special opportunity of discussing this important matter ?
– The honorable senator must be aware that he has ample opportunity, if he feels so disposed, to discuss the matter, provided that he can get the Standing Orders suspended. But the Government do not intend to give to him or any other honorable senator a special opportunity to discuss this or any other matter out of its turn.
– I submit, sir, if I am not out of order in making the remark, that the question which I last asked has not been answered.
– The honorable senator is only entitled to ask a question arising out of the answer.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Government anticipate being able to find work to keep the Senate more continuously engaged than it was last week, when it sat for four and a half hours?
– If Providence is more merciful to Ministers than it has been up to the present time, I hope that we shall be ina position to do so.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Report of Radio Telegraphic Conference held at Parliament House, Melbourne, 15th to 21st December, 1909.
Papua - Survey Fees Ordinance of 1910.
Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1909 - Amendment of Paragraph (II.) of Regulation 2 ; new Regulation 6aa ; and repeal of Regulation 9. - Statutory Rules1910, No. 64.
Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902. - Documents in connexion with the appointment on probation, without examination, of Mr. Charles E. Lewis, to the position of Draughtsman, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, Postmaster-General’s Department, Brisbane.
Defence Acts 1903-1904 -
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
Cancellation of Regulation 4, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 60.
Amendment of Regulation 485. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 61.
Amendment of Regulation 414. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 62.
Amendment of Regulation 161. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 63.
Transcontinental Railway : Copy of a communication received from Mr. Jas. Thompson, Engineer-in-Chief, Department of Public Works, Perth, in connexion with the Water Supply.
Federal Capital Site - Yass-Canberra. - Copies of correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales, in regard to the issue of the Proclamation under Section 5 of the Seat of Government Acceptance Act 1909.
Vancouver Mail Service. - Copy of the Notes of what transpired at the meeting at Brisbane, on 7th June, 1910, between the PostmasterGeneral and representatives of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce and of the local butter shippers.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The matter is under consideration, and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Brisbane, has furnished the following information in regard to it: -
This matter is in the hands of the District Inspector, who reports he is waiting for information from the postmaster, Hampden, as to particulars of mail matter affected and offer to run the service.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Referring to his reply to a question asked by Senator Walker on the 7th inst., having refer ence to the introduction of a Bill to enable the inhabitants of Federal Territory to have representation in Parliament, will he state when the second proclamation under the Seat of Government Act 1909 mentioned in his reply will be issued ?
– The proclamation will be issued as soon as possible.
– When will that be?
– When the weather breaks.
Debate resumed from 7th July (vide page 146), on motion by Senator McDougall -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech be agreed to : -
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency ‘for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– - As a new member of the Senate- in spite of my previous experience of this Chamber - I naturally share the diffidence which has been expressed by other honorable senators in approaching such a great national programme as has been laid before us in the Governor-General’s Speech, lest I should be unable to criticise it as it deserves. It is not my intention to dilate at length upon any of the measures mentioned in that document, but I feel that it is almost necessary for a new senator to express his views on those questions which may be called national, rather than party, and as to which I trust party votes will not be cast in this Chamber. The first portion of the speech that strikes me as being very important from a national point of view, and which certainly has been subjected to keen criticism by the Leader of the Opposition, in his excellent address of last week, is that dealing with those financial transactions of the Government which the Opposition say are not exactly in accordance with political honesty. But it seems to me that it was better in the interests of the States, and certainly in the interest of the Federal Government, as there were trust funds lying idle and of no present use, either to the State; or to the Federation, that those funds should be used, in the special circumstances explained by the Prime.
Minister, rather than that the Government should go into the open market and borrow money to meet temporary needs.
– The point wasthat the trust funds were used, without parliamentary authority.
– W - What was done has been fully explained by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and by the Prime Minister in another place, and it is clear that no matter what had been done, it would have had to be done without parliamentary authority in the special circumstances. I cannot see that the Government have been guilty of any heinous crime in the nature of financial or political dishonesty in using the trust funds as they did. After all the money belonged to the public; it was merely used to get over a temporary difficulty; nothing dishonest occurred, and I feel sure that even the members of the Opposition do not feel so strongly about the subject as their language would lead one to suppose. Regarding the financial policy of the last Administration, which was the subject of a referendum on the 13th April, it seems rather strange that although all the States returned to the Senate representatives pledged to the Labour platform:, nevertheless a considerable majority of the people in some of the States voted in favour of the Financial Agreement. That I say is a peculiar state of affairs. The explanation seems to me to be this. The people were opposed to the incorporation of the Financial Agreement in the Constitution. Consequently those who advocated so strenuously the embodying of it in the Constitution in opposition to what was regarded as the truly national policy were relegated to that political obscurity which I had the honour to adorn for three years. In my own State a considerable majority of electors voted for the agreement because, as I interpret the result, there was a loose kind of feeling that from the point of view of the amount to be paid it would be a good thing for Tasmania. But, nevertheless, the people voted for those candidates who were most strongly opposed to the agreement, because they did not want it to be embodied in the Constitution. What they wanted was to secure that the States should receive 25s. per head for ten years, and they were quite satisfied to trust the Federal Parliament in the future to see that justice was done. One of the most remarkable features of that attempt to handcuff the Federation is this : Ten years ago the leading statesmen and authorities on finance in Australia met together in a Convention, and framed the financial provisions of the Constitution. One of those provisions distinctly prescribed how the Federal revenue was to be divided for ten years. The leading statesmen in Australia at that time were quite prepared to trust the people and the Federal Parliament at the end of the ten years’ period. Yet the Fusion party, in the last Parliament, endeavoured to foist the Financial Agreement upon the people, and were not willing to trust the Federal Parliament ten years hence. I consider that ten years is sufficiently long for the 25s. provision to endure, and Parliament should have an opportunity of reconsidering the matter at the end of that time. In relation to the financial proposals of the present Government, there is one matter which deeply affects the State that I have the honour to represent. While I recognise the propriety of what seems to be a very generous provision indeed regarding Western Australia - and it does seem a most generous provision for the Federation to make-
– A just one.
– W - While I recognise the justness of the special financial provision for Western Australia, I must, at the same time, claim that it is a very generous provision. At the present moment I am not quarrelling with it. But I do say that, if there is one State that is entitled to some special concession as well as Western Australia, it is Tasmania.
– Is the honorable senator going to show why ?
– I w I would ask those honorable senators who are not disposed to agree with me just now to wait until the proper time comes, when I shall tell them my reasons. I take it that this is not a suitable occasion for going into details, and, therefore, I do not intend to do so. I have, however, ample facts and figures to prove the justness of my contention. Perhaps 1 may give one or two, by way of illustration. Since Federation, whatever we had in the way of manufactures in Tasmania have been almost wiped out. As was said by a member of another place, Tasmania is now almost a suburb of Victoria, as regards its manufacturing industries. Take the boot trade. Before Federation there were 332 persons employed in that trade in Tas- mania. To-day the number has been reduced to 252, in spite of the natural increase of population. In other branches of manufacture, the same tale has to be told.
– Does that apply generally ?
– T - There is, I am glad to say, one exception, and that is in the manufacture of woollens.
– What about jam?
– I b I believe that the manufacture of jams and preserved fruits has increased since Federation. But the increase of exports from Tasmania has certainly not kept pace with the importation of merchandise from other States.
– What about hops?
– Tha That is a very small item. I am afraid that my honorable friend is reviving an old gibe which ihe used to have at the expense of ex- Senator Dobson. I wish to look at these matters in a national light, and hope that I shall always do so while I am here. I want honorable senators representing other States, however, to look at it in the same light. Because Tasmanians have been good Federalists, they have suffered financially. They have been in the habit of purchasing goods manufactured in other States, and also the products of those States, in preference to purchasing manufactured goods and products from over-sea. Had those manufactures and goods been purchased from abroad, Tasmania would have collected Customs duties upon them. But she has not done so, and, consequently, has suffered financially.
– I suppose that Tasmanians obtained the goods which they purchased in other States cheaper than they could have obtained them from over-sea?
– I d I do not think so. Tasmania has suffered in a far greater measure than the figures- which have been supplied by the Prune Minister in this connexion - and which it is very difficult foi one to refute - would seem to indicate. She has been penalized considerably by reason of the leakage in the revenue that has been going on ever since the inception of Federation. People have come from that State - especially from along the north-western coast, which is nearly as close to Victoria by water as it is to Launceston - and have purchased goods in Melbourne. The western ports of Tasmania are nearly as close to Melbourne as they are to Hobart; and there is very little difference between the passenger rates from that portion of the island State to the two capitals.
– What are the passenger rates?
– The The passenger fare from Melbourne to Burnie is 30s. ; and I believe that the fare from Launceston tothe west coast is 30s., or a trifle less, whilst the fare by rail from Launceston te Burnie is about 15s.
– Would Tasmanians pay 30s. each in order that they might be able to purchase a pair of boots in Melbourne ?
– Tha That is not the question. The fact remains that every month a large number of persons come from Tasmania to Melbourne, not for the purpose of holiday-making, but in order to transact business. They have been doing this for years. I quite recognise that, in the light of the figures which have been supplied, and in view of the small per capita contribution which Tasmanians make to the revenue, that State will not be under any disability if, in the future, 25s. per head be returned to it by the Commonwealth. But we must recollect that figures can be made to prove almost anything. T repeat that a great many persons come from Tasmania to Victoria and purchase goods for which they do not trouble to take out Inter-State certificates. Thus, the State which I represent has lost considerable sums. The Government Statistician of Tasmania has pointed out that it has lost, approximately, ^40,000 annually by way of leakage in this connexion, and Sir William Lyne himself admitted in an interview in that State that it had lost at least £20,000 per annum. How does this leakage occur? I will give an illustration. Not very long ago, a Tasmanian friend of mine visited Melbourne, where he purchased a Cashmore gun for £26 10s., for which he paid cash. Speaking from memory, J think that the duty upon guns is something like 25 per cent. The weapon in question wa’s manufactured outside of Australia, and the duty upon it, which was due to Tasmania, was therefore £5 or £6 But that State was not credited with the duty in question. Why ? Simply because the purchaser did not know that he ought to have obtained an Inter-State certificate. The’ ordinary purchaser from Tasmania does not stop to think about Inter-State certificates. If he purchases £100 worth of goods, which are dutiable at 20 per cent., when they are imported into Victoria, and which, therefore, ought to yield Tasmania a revenue of ;£2o, he does not pause to worry about obtaining Inter-State certificates. Of course, a merchant who is doing a big business with Tasmania would do so. But the casual purchasers from Tasmania, who number thousands a year, do not. It will be seen, therefore, that, whilst the bookkeeping system has been in operation, the State from which I come has lost, approximately, ^40,000 a year.
– The people of Tasmania knew that they would lose revenue when they accepted the Federal Constitution.
– Oh, Oh, no! That interjection will not hold water. When the leading public men of Tasmania asked the people of that State to vote for Federation, they pointed out that, under the bookkeeping . system, that State would not lose revenue. I think that the Senate should pay some regard to the estimate of the Tasmanian Statistician that ,£40,000 annually has been lost to that State by reason of the leakage that, has been going on.
– - How does he know that that is so?
– How How do we know anything? How does my honorable friend know that he will be herein six years’ time? We must exploit the most ready and reliable sources of information that are available.
– The honorable senator will admit that the estimate of the Tasmanian Statistician is merely a guess?
– I d I do not say that Tasmania has sacrificed an exact sum annually. But the fact remains that she has lost revenue; and I am satisfied that that statement will not be disputed by any honorable senator.
– But the margin afforded by a return to that State of 25s. per capita would cover a very considerable leakage.
– No. No. That margin does not prove that the consuming power of Tasmania has been so much below that of other States. I am frequently asked why Tasmania does not collect more revenue by means of direct taxation. But if we look into the figures, we shall find that Tasmania has not spared herself in this connexion. In 1908-9, 27s. per head was collected from that source, as against ns. sd. in New South Wales, 16s. 11d. in Victoria, 19s. 4d. in Queensland, 22s. id. in South
Australia, and 22s. 2d. in Western Australia, or an average for the other States of 16s. 5d.
– How much of Tasmania’s revenue was derived from Tattersail’s sweeps?
– Tha That is a side issue. I have no doubt that, whatever revenue was derived from that source, my honorable friend contributed to it. I submit that the question of whether or not the measure of justice for which I am contending should be granted to Tasmania is one which deserves fair and earnest consideration at the hands of honorable senators. Of course, I ask for nothing in the future, but merely that the State which I have the honour to represent should be recouped for the loss which she has sustained in the past. I do not quarrel with the proposal to grant a special concession to Western Australia
– Every reason which can be urged for giving Western Australia a special concession is a reason against Tasmania being granted similar treatment.
– If Western Australia is -to get more because she contributes more, Tasmania should get less because she contributes less.
– I a I admit that the circumstances of Western Australia are, in this respect, exceptional, and no fair comparison can be instituted between that State and Tasmania. Since-the establishment of Federation, it has been accepted that, on the termination of the bookkeeping system, and the commencement of the per capita system of distributing Customs and Excise revenue, some special (provision must’ be made for Western Australia.
– Because she contributes more.
– And And I say that Tasmania also deserves consideration, because of the leakage which I say has gone on in the past.
– Has it been equal to the excess contribution from Western Australia ?
– It It has gone on for the past ten years; and I think that Tasmania is entitled, now that the per capita system of distribution is to be adopted, to ask for a special grant for ten years to cover the leakage of revenue from which she has suffered during the past ten years.
– The same leakage occurred in all the States.
– N - Not to anything like the same extent as in Tasmania.
– Why not?
– Bec Because the difference in the geographical conditions prevented it.
– Why does not the honorable member propose to alter the geographical conditions?
– I h I hope the geographical conditions will not be altered ; but, in every sense but a geographical one, Tasmania has become a province of Victoria.
– The honorable senator might get over the difficulty by agreeing to attach Tasmania to Victoria.
- Sen Senator Millen could not support that proposal, because it would tend towards unification. With respect to the much-discussed and muchabused land tax proposal, I have only to say that I am whole-heartedly in favour of it, because no one has had a better opportunity than I have recently had in travelling through Tasmania of knowing the disastrous effects of land monopoly in that State. Without labouring the question, I believe that the imposition of the proposed land tax will do something to break up land monopoly; and, if it will not, let our opponents suggest a better scheme for the purpose, and they will find us willing to accept it. Until a better scheme has been suggested, we must go on with that which we have proposed. I must express my disappointment that the Government have not included in their immediate financial proposals one for the consolidation of the State debts, and to provide that future borrowing by the State- Parliaments shall be done only through the Federation. We must give the Government time, however ; and I hope that, not later than next year, something in that direction will be done. We must have the consent of the people of the States before State borrowing can be controlled by the Commonwealth authority ; but I think it would be financial suicide for the Federation to take over existing State debts before this Parliament has acquired the right to control future State borrowing. When the Government are submitting certain questions to the people by way of referendum next year, I trust that they will be asked to give the Commonwealth Parliament this power. One question which we are told is to be brought before the Senate is that of quarantine ; and I hope that when the Government bring down their measure dealing with the subject it will be found to propose a radical alteration of the present quarantine laws in operation in Australia. I trust that it will take from the State Governments and hand over to the Federal authority all the quarantine powers now exercised by the various State Governments, and will give the Federal authority absolute control of all produce passing from State to State. Hundreds of people in the State from which I come were only a few months ago faced with’ die prospect of black and bitter ruin as the result of the operation of the very unfair quarantine laws existing in some of the States. I can quote an instance that actually happened. A certain shipment of potatoes was passed by the Tasmanian inspector on the wharf at Devonport. It was sent to another State, where it was reported as unsound by the inspector of that State. It was shipped back to Tasmania, and without any picking over the potatoes were spilled from the bags in which they were contained into clean bags, and then returned to the port at which they had been condemned, and the same inspector passed them.
– Does the honorable member say that the potatoes were all sound ?
– I - I’ do not; but I mention the incident to show what a farce that kind of inspection is. Surely, when we have been federated for ten years, the time has arrived when, as provided for in the Constitution, quarantine should be taken over and controlled by the Federal authorities.
– We had the same grievances in New South Wales.
– Tha That is so. The Minister administering the Tasmanian quarantine law prohibited the introduction of certain oranges shipped from Queensland or New South Wales on the ground that they were infected by some pest. I suppose he was afraid that if he allowed these oranges to be introduced the pest would infect the orange groves of Tasmania, where we dc/ not grow an orange. That is only another instance which shows what followed from having these quarantine laws operated by the different States.
– But the State authorities have a right to protect their respective States against the introduction of some terrible pest like the tick pest, for instance.
– U - Undoubtedly, that should be prevented. I hope that the Bill to be submitted by the Government will give the Federal authority absolute control in the matter. Another question which is likely to exercise the minds of honorable senators very seriously is the Capital site question. I believe that I shall have the support of some of my honorable friends in New South Wales -when I say that before another pound is spent on the Yass-Canberra site the new members of the Federal Parliament should be given an opportunity of visiting that site and the site first chosen by this Parliament. I do not suggest another picnic. We do not want any more picnicking, but let the new members of this Parliament visit the sites at their own expense. When I look round the Senate I wonder how the decision of the Parliament fixing the site of the Federal Capital at Dalgety came to be altered. When I read the division list I -could scarcely believe what I saw. I had listened in this Chamber to some splendid arguments upholding Dalgety as the best site for the Federal Capital, and I found that some of the honorable senators who used those arguments reversed the votes they had previously given, and voted in the last Parliament for Yass-Canberra. They may have had good reason for doing so; perhaps they knew more of Yass-Canberra then than they did when they previously voted for Dalgety, but, in any case, I submit that the new members of this Parliament should have an opportunity of visiting both sites.
– The whole of the honorable member’s side deserted Dalgety.
– The The honorable senator is quite entitled to his little joke at the expense of my side, but this was not a party question when Dalgety was the chosen site.
– How are the new senators to acquaint themselves with the merits of the site if they are not invited to a picnic ?
– I t I think that the new senators can best acquaint themselves with the chief features of the site by going there in small parties, but certainly, before any more public mo’ney is spent on the site, they ought to be afforded an opportunity of making a personal inspection. It would be well on towards the middle of the session before an inspection could be completed, because all the senators could not go up to the site at one week end. I do not believe that the feeling in New South Wales is so much against the selection of Dalgety as we are led by Sydney newspapers to believe. However, the representatives of the State here are better authorities on that subject than I am, and they can put that side of the question before the Senate. I am not opposed to the selection of Yass-Canberra, because I have not seen the site. I thought’ that Dalgety was a good site to choose, and until I have seen the Yass-Canberra site I shall adhere to that view. I spent some clays in traversing the Dalgety site, and it seemed to me that it was a suitable one.
– Did the honorable senator go up on one of the trips arranged by the Government?
– Yes Yes.
– Why should not the new senators do the same?
– I - I am not quarrelling with that view at all. If the Government choose to take the new senators to Yass-Canberra, they may do so. But that is only a small matter. The chief point is that, inasmuch as the territory is to serve for all time, the best one, if possible, should be chosen. I do not hold any strong opinions about Yass-Canberra, but I want to see that site, and wish other honorable senators to have a like opportunity. Since the 13th April a good deal has been said about the necessity for electoral reform. It is very hard to get the dominant party to agree to change that kind of electoral system which has suited its book. I am sure that my honorable friends on the other side will agree with me.
– If the honorable senator is referring to the block vote for the Senate, I am against any change being made.
– l - l am glad of that interjection. My honorable friend is consistent, and I trust that his consistency will be shown if the question is brought forward here. I am still of the opinion which I expressed here nine years ago, when the question was first raised. It will be remembered that the ^Electoral Bill of 1901, which was originated here, provided that’ the senators should be elected under what was known as the Hare-Clark, or proportional, system, of voting. It was shown that it would be a cumbrous system to work in the big States, but I was always in favour of its adoption. When the provision was deleted, it was replaced with an optional system of voting. The Government brought down a clause providing that a man should be allowed to vote for one, two, or three candidates, as he chose, and should not be compelled to vote for the three candidates. That was put in in place of the original provision, but it was knocked out. I remember that, by interjection, if not by speech, some honorable senators who sat on the Opposition side, and, it may be, some senators who were in favour of the Barton Government, said they believed in that system which would allow a slight majority of the electors in a State to have the whole of its representation.
– For the Senate.
– I - I cannot agree with that. Does it not seem an anomaly in electoral representation that 671,000 electors returned eighteen senators at the last election, and that 662,000 electors did not elect one senator ?
– But equal representation of the States in the Senate is an anomaly.
– Tha That is so under a democratic system of government ; but we are always told that we would not have had Federation without the provision for the equal representation of the States in the Senate. While I am quite willing to allow that a proportional voting system which might be successfully used in the smaller States would be a very cumbrous one to work in New South Wales, still it is time that there was an alteration in the electoral system for the Senate. My plan would be to divide every State into six parts, and to allow each part to elect one senator. That would preserve the continuity of the Senate.
– A better subdivision would be to have three parts.
– At At all events, it would be a fairer system than the present one. The pendulum will swing backwards and forwards.
– Hear, hear.
– I h I hope that it will not swing backwards in three years.
– But the honorable senator has said that it will.
– A - All political history teaches us that the pendulum does swing backwards and forwards. No matter which party is in power, I submit that it is not a- fair system of electoral representation when 671,000 electors can get ^eighteen senators and 662,000 electors cannot get one senator.
– It is the State which -is represented here, and not the electors.
– Acc According to the honorable senator, 662,000 electors are not represented here, because he says that we on this side do not represent their views-
– The basis of the Senate is that the State, as a sovereign entity, speaks,- and it can only speak with one voice. That can only be obtained by means of the block vote.
– I h I hope that whatever is done by the Government in the way of introducing electoral reform, -it will be in the direction of dividing each State into three or six divisions, so that there may be a better chance of obtaining an equally balanced representation.
– It has long been the wish of Federal politicians that there should be only two parties in Parliament. I have been one of those who have strongly desired to see that -result achieved. It stands to reason that each party will occasionally have an innings, lt has now come to the turn of my honorable friends on the other side to have an innings, and, in existing circumstances, I do not grudge it to them.. My impression is that responsibility is good for us all, and when we are in a responsible position some things are not so easy to manage as they seemed when we were merely spectators. I desire to compliment my friends, Senators McGregor, Pearce, and Findley, upon the positions which they occupy. I am sure that we all regret that Senator Pearce’s state of health necessitates his absence. The sooner he comes back the better pleased we shall be. I believe that we have never had a more competent Minister of Defence than the honorable senator since the Federation took place. Of course, it is not unreasonable to suppose that, as the Ministry have a large majority, they will be in a position to allow, occasionally, a private senator to have the chance of bringing in a Bill. In days gone by it has been very difficult for a private senator to get a Bill passed through the Senate. I also desire to congratulate the proposer and seconder of the Address-in-Reply. I am glad to see that my friend, Senator McDougall, stands out for the great importance of the clans commencing with the prefix Mac. He says that the Macs, hold their own very well, and even in the Senate we see how well they, do that. I agree with Senator Ready that it is very desirable that we should not have very long speeches. In days long past we used to credit the Labour party with being the best “ stone-wallers “ here. We cannot for a moment say that we are equal to them in that respect. Our duty rather is not to waste time, but to criticise, and endeavour, as far as we can, to improve the Bills as they come before us. Ai I am not very well this afternoon, I do not propose to occupy much time. The Governor-General’s Speech is composed of thirty paragraphs. It would be rather tedious to go through each paragraph, but the sixth one refers to a matter on which I desire to say a few words. It speaks of the payment of 25s. per head to the States commencing from the 1st July. I am not aware that the Braddon section of the Constitution has been altered. It provides that for ten years the States shall receive three-fourths of the net income from Customs and Excise duties. I maintain that the States are now entitled to receive that proportion until the 31st December next, and that, therefore, the proposed payment of 25s. per head can only commence legally on the 1st January, 191 1.
– Did not the Fusion Government propose what is now being done?
– Yes, but they proposed it by an alteration of the Constitution, which, however, the electors rejected. The Braddon section is still in force, and the States are undoubtedly entitled to receive three-fourths of the net revenue from Customs and Excise. I draw the attention of new senators to the fact that this is essentially a States House, and we are bound to stand up for the rights of the States under the Constitution. Reference has also been made to the fact that the proposed Financial Agreement provided that the States would give £600,000 towards an estimated deficiency of £1,200,000 in the Commonwealth revenue. That promise was made on the condition that the provision for the payment of 25s. per head of the population was put in the Constitution. One part of the agreement not having been carried out, the other part need not necessarily be carried out. But if it is to be carried out in spirit, it should only cover one-half of the actual deficiency in the revenue. If the deficiency is £400,000, the States should be asked to pay half that amount. Many matters which are mentioned in the Speech will come before the Senate when Bills are introduced, and, therefore, I do not. propose to deal with them. I now come to the proposal for a Commonwealth note issue. That is a matter on which I think I can speak with a little knowledge. It is, perhaps, not known to many honorable senators that in days gone a certain Government had an idea of bringing in a note issue, and a meeting of bankers was held. I do not object to the principle of a Federal note issue, but I do maintain that if it is to be introduced, it should be as satisfactory to the every-day trader as the other note issue is. The heads of the banks met together and arranged that each bank should guarantee all the notes of the other banks, so that the public would have the joint and several guarantee of all the banks for every bank note, and the bank notes would be taken at par in any part of Australia.
– The Commonwealth guarantee is better than that.
– With all due deference to my honorable friend, I think not.
– Did the banks carry out that understanding?
– No fear; they are charging exchange to-day on the bank notes.
– The Government to which I refer did not proceed with the matter, but I dare say that the banks would still be willing to carry out the arrangement. It is proposed by the Government that with the Commonwealth note issue gold shall only be obtainable at the Treasury in Melbourne. At the present time the Queensland Government have six places within the State at whichGovernment notes can be converted into gold. I have that fact on the authority of the general manager of the Commercial Bank in Sydney, who gave me the information the last time I saw him. The Government will surely recognise that those of us who have to stand up for State Rights must insist that, if the Federal notes are only to be convertible into gold in one State of the Union, that will be unfair to the other States. Gold should be obtainable for the notes in each of the State capitals. Let me show what will happen if that be not done. A man can pay his debts in legal tender notes, and the creditor cannot refuse to receive them. But if he goes to buy goods, and proffers legal tender notes in payment’, the seller is not obliged to accept that form of currency. Take the case of a man who holds Federal Government notes in Perth, and who goes to a banker, and says, “ I want to purchase a draft on Londonfor £100.” Suppose that he offers notesin payment. The banker may, perhaps. consent to take them, but if he likes he may say, “ No ; notes are not gold ; if I take those notes I shall have to send them to Melbourne to get them cashed. Each of those notes is practically a Melbourne cheque. We shall have to charge you exchange on Melbourne.”
– But the Federal notes will be legal tender .
– The point is that while a legal tender note may be proffered in payment of a debt, a man cannot be compelled to sell goods in exchange for notes.
– In such a transaction as the honorable senator has mentioned, the bank would be willing to take notes.
– Probably a bank would, but it need not. At present the banks keep gold in reserve in all their branches, but if we do away with the note issues of the private banks, we shall require places all over the country at which gold may be obtained for the notes.
– The way to get over that difficulty would be to have a Commonwealth bank in each State.
– I am not going to say anything on that point. Having found fault with the scheme of the Government so far, I will suggest what I think would meet the difficulty. I think that the Government ought to have a Department to look after the note issue. There should be nonpolitical Commissioners, with probably bankers to assist them, in charge of the work. The Department should be conducted on business lines. The Commissioners should be able at any time to show their liabilities on one side and their assets on the other. If the Department were carried on at a profit, that profit should go into the general revenue of the Commonwealth. In that way we should have persons responsible for seeing that there was no undue issue of notes, and that there was an ample gold reserve.
– That would not prevent Parliament from altering the amount of the gold reserve.
– Personally, I do not think that the 25 per cent, gold reserve is sufficient. I have never thought so. The more places there are at which persons can get gold for the Federal notes the greater the favour with which they will be received by the public.If there are six places in the Commonwealth at which the notes can be converted, they will be regarded with more favour than if there is only one ; and, again, if people know that they can get gold for their notes at any time, the probability is that they will not ask for it, because they will know that it is there. I have no objection to the principle of the Government controlling the note issue of the country, but we should see to it that the public are not penalized thereby. Take the Queensland system. In that State it is optional on the banks to pay a sovereign for every one-pound note they take. But if they prefer it, they need only pay one-third in gold and two-thirds in a fixed deposit for two years at 2 per cent. interest. That is one reason why the Government note issue in Queensland is looked upon favorably by the bankers of that State. I understand, however, that there is no intention to offer such facilities in the case of the Federal note issue. The consequence is that if the bankers have to retire all their notes, and then pay for £4,000,000 of notes introduced by the Federal Government, their facilities for lending money to the public will be less than they are to-day, and borrowers will be put to a disadvantage. I hope I have made that point clear. I also wish to make a few remarks with regard to the proposed progressive land tax. I gather that under the Constitution it is impossible to discriminate between town and country lands. How can a person having a large shop in town cut up that property so as to reduce the amount of his land tax?
– It is not desired that he should.
– I can only suggest one way by which he could. Those of us who have had dealings in land may know that a person may own a piece of land absolutely, but may parcel it out to three different persons, each one of whom will have an undivided third of the unimproved value of the land. That is a very complicated thing to do, and it is not altogether fair in some cases. I am interested in a piece of land in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, in which three persons each hold an undivided third. I am sorry to say that it is not so valuable to-day as it was twenty years ago.
– I have a piece of land which I am quite willing to give away ; but no one will take it !
– I once owned a piece of land in Queensland which was of no use to me. I went on paying rates for it year in and year out until, to get quit of the rates, I very generously conveyed it to a church ! With regard to the contemplated legislation affecting banking, which is referred to in paragraph 13 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, it is interesting to read the remarks made by some of our Socialistic friends elsewhere. Prior to the last elections, the Political Labour Council of Victoria issued a manifesto in which they stated -
Banking is one of the frauds by which capitalism fleeces the people.
– What is wrong with that? It is only a truism.
– The honorable senator will not get me to agree with him on that point. I have been connected with banking for fifty years. I commenced as a junior clerk, and am now a director. But I have never seen anything in connexion with banking that was not in every sense an honest business-like transaction.
– Business itself is mostly robbery.
– That is only assertion ; it is not argument. The Victorian manifesto went on to say -
There are twenty-one privately-owned banks in the Commonwealth, which virtually control the industry and commerce of Australia, and make ^1,500,000 a year profit out of their operations.
A large number of persons who have received assistance from the banks have done very much” better than that. We all know that a man who can use money in his trade at 8 per cent., and borrow at 5, makes a very good profit.
– As against that, how many have been driven into the Insolvency Courts by the banks?
– The banks make most out of wreckages.
– The honorable senator misunderstands the argument of the manifesto. What it says is that, if private bankers can make such profits, why cannot -the Commonwealth.
– For this reason : That there are many businesses in this world which are much better managed by private people than by a Government.
– That, as the honorable senator said to me just now, is not a reason, it is an assertion.
– The manifesto goes on -
The Labour proposal is not to nationalize the existing banks, but to establish a Commonwealth Bank, with unlimited powers, which will have a branch in every considerable centre in Australia, and will enter into competition with the company-owned banks. The proposed bank would be one of the strongest in the world, and would, of course, manage the public debts of the Commonwealth.
So far, good; but then this manifesto, issued by a presumably honest Labour Council, says -
The gradual extinction without compensation of the present banks would follow as a matte; of course.
Why without compensation ?
– Why not?
– The banks have acquired their business by honest means,, under the laws of the country in which they are conducted.
– But if competition closesup the business of any other person, does he get compensation?
– Where is there in> this manifesto any statement about faircompetition ?
– If there is to be fair competition it is the State bank which would want compensation for being shut up.
– The Government does not: compensate a teamster when it builds a railway and deprives his bullock team of occupation.
– Are not the banks entitled to some return 011 the enormous capital invested in their business ? At thepresent time in Papua, which is a very important and rising Territory of the Commonwealth, two banks, I am glad to say, have opened branches, to the great delight of the inhabitants, who recognise that banking does a vast amount of good. It is alegitimate occupation, and why should any one speak of bankers as if they were frauds ? Why should banking be referred to as “ one of the frauds by which capitalism fleeces the people “ ? As a matter of fact, banking is one of the blessings; of our social system, and but for it this country would not have gone ahead as it has done. As an old banker, I am hereto stand up for the banking institutions of this country, and I contend that they have contributed in a very large degree to theprosperity of Australia. With regard to defence, I have on more than one occasionin the past said that I regard Senator Pearce as an admirable Minister. I am alf the better pleased that he is again, at thehead of the Department, because he is apparently determined to act upon Lord’ Kitchener’s report. I also commend hisaction in determining to get Admiral Henderson to come and report on our situation/ from the naval point of view. I think the Minister of Defence deserves great credit. I am not one of those opponents who do not think that the present Government are capable of governing the country. I think they are quite capable. I am also glad that they intend to have one postage stamp for use throughout Australia. That is a very sensible proposal. There are several other matters in the programme of the Government as to which something might be said, but I prefer to wait until we see their measures. I observe that the Navigation Bill is to be resuscitated. I recognise, as I think we all do, that Senator Guthrie is probably the most competent man in this Chamber to deal with that matter, subject to Ministerial control. Would it not be a good thing to appoint Senator Guthrie, with one or two others, as a Committee to look through the Navigation Bill, and then accept their report upon it? It would take months to deal with the measure in the Senate. We always had it brought before us when we had nothing else to do.
– Is the honorable member speaking on behalf of his party when he says that they would adopt what 1 recommended ?
– Ours is an individualistic party. We can agree to disagree on many questions, and yet pull together when occasion requires.
– There are fewer individuals in the individualistic party since the last election !
– I am sorry to say that 50 per cent, have disappeared from the Mac Walker party; but it was a very good party. With regard to the Federal Capital Site, I do not agree with Senator 0’ Keefe. I am glad to observe that both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs are in favour of matters being pushed forward without further unnecessary delay.
– I should like to know when the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs said so?
– I have not my quotations with me, but I understand that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs were annoyed at the suggestion that there was to be further unnecessary delay. Last week I noticed in the Sydney Daily ‘Telegraph an amusing illustration which depicted a tortoise gradually proceeding towards Yass-Canberra. The Prime Minister was pictured as holding the reins by which the creature was guided, the
Minister of Home Affairs sat immediately behind dressed in true American style, and the Attorney-General sat at the extreme rear looking a bit uncomfortable. The Minister of Home Affairs was credited with saying, “ What, brother, what are you afraid of ? We are proceeding slowly, but all in good time.” Our friend the Minister of Home Affairs has been described as the most picturesque member of the present Administration. It seems to me that the present Government should be - as I think they will be - about the last to hesitate to carry the question of the Capital Site to a successful termination. It was when a previous Labour Ministry was in power that the Seat of Government Bill was brought forward.
– Has the honorable senator forgotten that Senators McGregor and Pearce voted to destroy that Bill six months later? Their last vote was against it.
– D - Does not the honorable senator believe that the Government are earnest in their intention to push the matter forward ?
– The Prime Minister occupies a most difficult position. It is a case of “pull baker; pull devil.” He has to please his New South Wales supporters on the one side, and his Victorian supporters on the other.
– I - It is a question for Parliament to determine.
– Parliament has already determined it. We only require “the issue of a proclamation to-morrow, and the thing is done. I believe in the honesty of the Prime Minister and of the Minister of Home Affairs, and I hope to see my good opinion of them confirmed by the issue of the proclamation in question within a few days.
– H - How can their honesty be affected if Parliament re-opens the question?
– Parliament has already settled it.
– It is not a matter of choice as between Dalgety and Yass- Canberra. It is a case of Melbourne influence all the time.
– But the action of ont Parliament cannot be binding upon a subsequent Parliament.
– As a matter of fact, the Age newspaper is always harping upon this subject. There was a time when the Labour party regarded that journal as one of the most unscrupulous in Australia.
– Oh, no.
– What I say is a fact. I have heard Senator de Largie express that opinion of the Age newspaper. Here is a little paragraph which appeared in that journal not long since -
Among the senators a strong feeling prevails that a determined effort should be made during the present session to secure the substitution of Dalgety for Yass-Canberra as ‘the site for the Federal Capital. In the last Parliament YassCanberra was only selected through Senator McColl “ ratting “ upon the site he had himself proposed.
Why. the Labour party ratted in favour of Tumut. They threw Dalgety over.
– All but myself.
– Yes, all except my dear old Scotch friend and fellow countryman, Senator W Russell. Ere long I hope to see the Federal Capital established, and one of its principal streets named either Russell-street or Russell-avenue. The paragraph continues -
Of the twenty-three Labour senators now in the Senate twenty-two are opposed to YassCanberra. If a vote were taken, and it were left open for Labour members to vote as they thought fit, Yass-Canberra would be rejected.
I say that that statement is untrue.
– Nobody knows how many are opposed to Yass-Canberra.
– Yes, we do. I say that the three newly elected senators for New South Wales are in favour of YassCanberra.
– Who said so?
– They themselves have said so. They have declared that they will do nothing to upset the selection of Yass-Canberra. Is it to be suggested that honorable senators who represent New South Wales, no matter upon what side of the chamber they may sit, are not actuated by a sincere desire to see justice done to that State?
– During the recent campaign I was never once asked whether I was in favour of re-opening the Federal Capital Site question.
– The electors took it for granted that the honorable senator would vote against its re-opening. The quotation proceeds -
Even if the three Ministers voted against their convictions, and all the Opposition members declared for Yass-Canberra, a majority of the Senate - nineteen senators - would be against retaining the existing site. The situation is an interesting one, and full of possibilities.
I am glad to think that, whatever the Senate may do in this matter, there is another branch of the Legislature which will not consent to an alteration in respect of the site that has been chosen. Leaving this question, I come now to the proposed amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act. I hope that . there will be a good deal of elasticity in the new Act. However much we may be in favour of a White Australia, there are times when considerations of humanity are above those of colour. For the benefit of honorable senators, I propose to read an account of certain incidents which occurred within the past few days. The extract is as follows : -
Some difficulty has cropped up between the shipping companies and the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the castaways of the wrecked “ steamer Kilburn. Portion of the crew of the wrecked vessel were Chinese, and after the vessel was wrecked at the Fiji group they were forwarded on to Sydney from Suva as distressed seamen. Four arrived by the steamer Tofua, of the U.S.S’. Co.’s line, and the balance by the A. U.S.N. Co.’s steamer Suva. Under the Alien Restriction Act the Chinese were not allowed to land on arrival, and the companies, although compelled to carry them as distressed seamen under the British law, found themselves responsible for their safekeeping. It so happened that the Tofua had to proceed to Newcastle for coal, and while there one of the Chinamen escaped from the vessel. Efforts have since been made to trace him, but without avail, and now the Customs authorities have notified the captain that he is liable to the extent of £100, and the fine will be inflicted unless the man is forthcoming. The Chinese oh the steamer Suva were also thrown on the hands of the ship’s company that carried them from Fiji, and they have since been put to considerable expense to prevent them from landing pending arrangements for their departure from the Commonwealth.
After shipping companies have done their best, if one Chinaman happens to escape, they should not be penalized. The shipping companies had done a kindly act by bringing these shipwrecked people here-
– The companies were paid for doing so by the Board of Trade.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– Because the Act provides for it.
– Does not the para-, graph in question state that the companies were put to considerable expense in preventing these Chinese from landing? Should there not be some little elasticity in the Immigration Restriction Act?
– And should we not have correct reports in lieu of faked reports such as the honorable senator has read?
– I want considerations of humanity to run through the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. I feel sure that the Vice-President of the Executive Council is with me on this matter. With every desire not to be discourteous to the Government, I fear that a large portion of the legislation which they intend to bring forward will be of a class character. Australia has come to be divided into two great parties - unionists and non-unionists ; and it seems to me that nowadays it is a crime for a man to be a non-unionist. To my mind, the tendency to give a preference to unionists is distinctly objectionable, and should be scouted by all moderate men. “ Fair play is bonnie play,” as they say in Scotland. Unfortunately, there will always be great differences in the financial position of individuals in this world. Some men will be rich, whilst others will be poor. I recognise that no persons are kinder to the poor than are the poor themselves. But good as are many of our friends who are not well off, they are, in one respect, sadly wanting. As a rule, they do not give that fair support to our hospitals which they ought to give.
– Who do not?
– The class which is represented by the patients. The patients represent a large portion of the community. What do they give to the hospitals?
– In Adelaide, the trade unionists contribute three times as much as do the employers.
– But, unfortunately, there are very many persons who are not in that position. I should be glad to think that every unionist gave so much to the hospitals. Of course, I recognise that benefit societies do a great deal of good. I am a director of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, in Sydney.
– That is a private hospital. I took a man there, and they would not admit him unless he paid two guineas a week.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong; and I speak with authority upon this matter.
– What has the Commonwealth to do with hospitals?
– I think that Senators McDougall and Ready expressed their delight at being in a position to accord fair play to a section of the community which had always laboured under disadvantages. Admitting that to a certain extent the latter portion of their statement be true, I say that at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, a public institution, no charge is made for admission; and that a man who meets with an accident, and who is taken to that institution, receives the benefit of the very best surgical treatment. There is no better surgeon in Australia than is Dr. MacCormick, who can command almost any price that he chooses to name for an operation. Yet, any unfortunate who meets with an accident can be taken to that hospital, where he will receive the benefit of the surgeon’s skill. But, after patients leave that institution, they scarcely ever make any contribution to it.
– Why not impose a hospital rate?
– It is the bettertodo classes of the community who support these institutions. I have here a leading article which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald referring to the Sydney Hospital, in which the statement is made that from the 6,000 patients who did give something towards the funds of the hospital, in a period of five years a total contribution of only £2,678 was received, or under 10s. per patient, from those who gave anything.
– What percentage does the 6,000 bear to the total number of patients treated ?
– I suppose they represent about one-third.
– What did the other two-thirds give?
– Nothing at all. I happen to be connected with a private convalescent hospital, which has been open for sixteen years ending last 30th September, and during thattime 13,000 patients have been through the hospital. They were treated as guests. The hospital authorities will not take money from their patients, but they say to them, “ If you think you are justified in giving something to the other hospitals as a token of gratitude for the treatmentyou have received here, we will send on your contribution for you.” During the sixteen years that privately endowed hospital has spent over £50,000 in treating patients as well as they could be treated in any part of the world, and yet during the whole of that term the authorities of the hospital have not received £50 to give to the other hospitals from the patients they have served. The figures go to show that for each £1,000 given by those to whom honorable senators opposite would refer as plutocrats, the other people have not given £1. While I recognise that, speaking generally, poor people are kind to the poor, I have no hesitation in saying that a great amount of. obloquy has undeservedly been heaped upon the better-to-do classes in Australia. 1 hold that they are as liberal as any other class in the world.
– So would the working people be if they were well-to-do.
– Why do they not give better evidence of it? Let us take the servant-girl class, lor instance. The Hospital Saturday collection in Sydney gives an opportunity which many of them avail themselves of to contribute to the hospitals, but it is found that more than half of the Hospital Saturday collection is contributed by persons who. are already subscribers to hospitals.
– They give because they cannot escape from the collectors.
– The collection is a disgraceful exhibition of blackmailing.
– -ft is scarcely fair for my honorable friends on the other side to suggest that moderately well-to-do people who are not of their way of thinking are not just as liberal and just as anxious to do their duty by the poorer classes as they are themselves.
– The poor catch the hare for them, and they take all the flesh and leave the poor the bones.
– That is just one of those absurd statements of which I complain. I would call that a Givenesque remark. I thank honorable senators for affording me this opportunity to speak. I am here to-day under doctor’s orders not to remain too long, but I thought it right to make a few remarks on the GovernorGeneral’s Speech.
– I should not have spoken at all on the Address-in-Reply if there had been any urgency to bring the debate to a close today. I suppose that no other business is likely to be dealt with to-day, but I trust that as soon as possible we shall have something of a more profitable character to engage our attention than a discussion of this kind. The practice of debating the Address-in-Reply has this value attached to it, that it gives members of all parties’ an opportunity to mention measures which meet with their cordial approbation, or which they consider particularly dangerous..
Honorable senators will recollect that prior to the last general election it was foretold throughout Australia that nothing but ruin, chaos, and general disaster would be the portion of the Commonwealth if the Labour party succeeded.
– Who said so ?
– Nearly all the honorable senator’s friends, and certainly all the leading press barrackers for the party to which he belongs, made that kind of assertion.
– It is a common assertion for Senator St. Ledger to make.
– I have no doubt that the honorable senator expressed similar sentiments, but whether in those words or not I cannot say.
– It is a pity the honorable senator is not better informed.
– lt may be a pity that I should not be as well informed as Senator St. Ledger, but in escaping the infliction of listening to the honorable senator’s speeches I had compensating advantages. Though we heard ringing throughout the Commonwealth these prophecies and forebodings of disaster, we find that the remnant of the political parties opposed to us who have crept back to these chambers are apparently still as well satisfied with their financial and business position as they were. They do not seem to be fleeing the country. During a recent visit to Sydney, I noticed that the building trade there is booming quite as much as it has during the past two or three 5’ears, and none of the disastrous things that we were told would happen appear to have started to happen yet. However, it is of no use to flog a dead horse, and the other party is practically in that position to-day. I might express my great feeling of rejoicing at the fact that the Government are able to bring down a programme which, while it is not all that one might desire, is an instalment of many important reforms embodied in the Labour platform. I feel sure that if the greater part of the measures outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech are placed upon the statute-book, the industrial and social life of Australia will be to a large extent revolutionized.’ i have been too long a student of politics to imagine that any party, however strong, can bring about great reforms in a moment, or that it is possible to accomplish anything like the millennium even in a very lengthy period. But in the reforms outlined in the references in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to land taxation, the nationalization of monopolies as a question to be submitted to the people by referendum, and the blow that is being struck at the borrowing policy by the advent to power of the Labour party, we shall be laying the foundation of great things in the future of Australia.
– Would it take the honorable senator too much off the track to give us some definition of a “monopoly “ ?
– I shall do so when I arn ready. While strongly approving of the programme outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, and realizing, as one must, that only a vague and general outline is traditionally given in opening speeches, I must say that I am somewhat disappointed at one or two omissions from the Speech. I believe that even as the Constitution stands at present the Government would have done well to indicate their intention to propose an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in one or two directions. I think there is no occasion to wait for an amendment of the Constitution in order to extend the scope of that Act. When the Conservative forces were predominant in this Parliament, our party found it impossible to pass into law such an Arbitration Act as they desired, and by reason of the then, strength of Conservatism, provisions were included in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act restricting its operation. Those provisions should be removed without any delay. One of them prevents preference being given to unions whose rules provide for political action. It has become obvious to members of any and every political party that politics are indissolubly bound up with the Labour movement, and that industrial and political action are part and parcel of the same movement. It is of no use now for Conservatism to try to prevent the rightful concession of preference to unionists on the plea that unions undertaking political action should not be treated in the same way as the old unions that held aloof from politics. There is one union in the Commonwealth which has exercised possibly a greater influence on politics in Australia than any other half-dozen.
– So that, if a man does not agree with the politics of his union, he is to starve?
– I allude to the Australian Workers’ Union, to which I have had the honour and privilege of belonging during the whole twenty-four years of its existence. That union three years ago secured an award from the Federal Arbitration Court which meant an addition to the wages paid to the workers of the Commonwealth of something like £250,000 per annum. But because the union has specifically laid down as a part of its constitutional rules that it intends to secure social justice by political as well as other means, and its rules permit an expenditure at the rate of is. per member per annum in aiding the return of Labour candidates to Parliament, it is disqualified from securing preference for its members, however well qualified they are in other respects.
– Is that the union that withdrew from the Arbitration Court on that ground ?
– No, it is still registered. The union that withdrew was, I believe, the Machine Shearers Union. That was .the bogus Shearers Union established by a conspiracy amongst the pastoralists - the politico-industrial’ tool intended to burst up the genuine union, the strike-breaking organization fostered and established by the pastoralists’ money. That organization withdrew its registration, not because it had anything to do with politics, but because it would have been compelled to show a balance-sheet, and that it dare not do, the greater part of its money consisting of a subsidy from the Pastoralists Union. It dared not show its books, because, if it did, its bogus nature would have been exposed to the world. Even such a political opponent of ours as the present High Commissioner, Sir George Reid, publicly admitted that the Machine Shearers Union was a bogus concern and a disgrace to those associated with the Pastoralists Union, who fostered and helped to build up that organization. That was the body that withdrew from registration.
– Of course, there is another history to all that.
– Yes. There is the Pastoralists Union’s history, but mine is the true one, and is based upon the facts that have been elicited. I complain that there is no reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to any intention on the part of the Government to submit an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to repeal the foolish disqualification to which I have referred. Every union worthy of the name takes an active part in politics to-day. Politics touch the life of the community in every direction, and it is practically impossible for any industrial organization, whose members suffer as they do from evils created by past legislation, to abstain from active political work. Now that we have a majority in both Houses of the Federal Parliament, we should deal with this matter without delay. Another restriction which exists under the present law, and which was proposed by the strength of Conservatism in these Chambers a few years ago, is that preventing the employes in the agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural industries from registering their unions under the Act. It was supposed - and that was the only reason which I have ever heard advanced - that these industries were, to some extent, dependent for their markets on the ruling prices of the world, and not on local conditions. They were not to be subject to any laws regulating the rates of wages or the conditions of labour. If .it is right that a union should exist in connexion with the pastoral industry, such as the Australian Workers Union, when pastoral products have to compete in the markets of the world, then what argument can be advanced against the wheatgrower or the grower of grapes not receiving the benefits of the Act? There is a union in the industry with which I am connected. There is a small struggling union of orchard employes; and I, as a small fruit-grower, can assert that there is no other industry in which the employes are worse treated as regards rates of pay and hours of labour. Yet, under that disqualification, if the Orchardists Union becomes federated all over the States, it will be unable to avail itself of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act. There is another body known as the Rural Workers Union, which intends to cover farming, harvesting, and all that sort of work ; but it is precluded from registering under the Act. I think that the Government, in view of the fact that all these persons connected with unions are the most active Labour supporters, should lose no time in bringing in a short Bill to remove the disqualification. It will not involve any complicated work, as the object is simply to remove restrictions which our Conservative opponents succeeded in placing in the Act a few years ago, and which did a great deal to impair its usefulness. But in regard to the general question the proposal to take two referenda as soon as possible is one which meets with my heartiest approval ; and which, I believe, will be indorsed by every well-wisher of the movement throughout Australia. I do not wish to wait for three years to get an amendment of the
Constitution which will enable new Protection to be effectively guaranteed. I am entirely at one with those who believe that no general revision of the Tariff should be attempted until we are absolutely sure of obtaining all the benefits which can be secured by the system roughly known as new Protection. It would be a suicidalpolicy to grant further concessions tomanufacturers until we have got them sufficiently under the whip, to see that those advantages are distributed throughout the whole community, and their employes guaranteed fair wages.
– Do you ever do any good to industry by putting it under the whip?
– I am not talking about putting industry under the whip. What I spoke about was getting the manufacturers under the whip.
– What is the difference ?
– There is a big difference. What the honorable senator would regard as having an industry under the whip would be having it in such a position that it could be crushed. My contention is that when an industry like the agricultural harvester industry gets all the advantages which it is possible to obtain from the Tariff, and refuses to give to the employes what they have a right to receive, and what a Judge of the Arbitration Court awarded them, it would be the utmost folly to do anything to assist either that or any other manufacturing industry by further benefits under the Tariff until we have first obtained ample power to insure that both employes and the general public shall get their share of those further benefits.
– Why not take the present Protection from the harvester industry ?
– If I had been here at the time, that would have been one of the first things which I would have moved to do if it was within the power of Parliament.
– But the honorable senator is .prepared to throw many persons out of work.
– Had I been here when the law was declared ultra vires, and the Sunshine Harvester Company were able to flout the Court’s award, if there was no other way of doing it, the first thing I would have proposed would have been to withdraw at once the Protection which they received from the Tariff. You would soon bring that unscrupulous class of persons to their senses if you acted in that way to one or two “industries ; and even if. incidentally, you inflicted some loss of employment upon those whom they had attempted to rob, the sum total of the good which would be effected would be much greater than the suffering which would be occasioned. When we cannot get all the good which we want, then, as a matter of common sense, we get the greatest good for the greatest number. ‘Evidently, Senator Stewart thinks that the old Protection is so effective that it is better to have that assistance than to wait for the new Protection. He believes that that will help to build up industries and find men employment. Well, I think so little of the good to be effected by fiscal changes that I do not even attach any marvellous importance to the new Protection. I do not think that any industrial salvation can be expected from mere fiscal changes.
– The old spirit liveth and worketh.
– Yes, but the old order changeth and giveth place to the new. T <Jo not believe that the experiences of other countries justify us in believing that industrial salvation can be brought about by any system of fiscalism.
– But nobody says that.
– I think that the energy which has been spent by the honorable senator and others in trying to get the possibly small benefits which may accrue from fiscal changes would have been very much better spent in going for straight-out reforms of a radical character which would produce inestimable good.
– What are they?
– I am not going to say a word on that point now, but when, twenty years ago, I was beseeched by one party ito become a Protectionist and by another party to become a Single Taxer, I refused to join either party, because I was then, as I am still, a Socialist. I believed that in Socialism lay the only true remedy for these evils. That being so, I think that any great amount of energy spent in obtaining the sort of doubtful benefits which may flow from fiscal reform would be better spent in attacking what we really believe to be at the root of our troubles, and that is a monopoly of wealth by a few, and the practical wage slavery of the many. However, I have no doubt that the proposed referenda will, if submitted to the people within twelve months, be carried by a huge majority. I think that the people generally are anxious that Parliament should not be fettered in carrying out those laws which the Constitution at present gives it some power to enact. The average man in the street sees no reason why there should be permission given in the Constitution to establish an Arbitration Court to deal with the prevention and settlement of disputes extending over more than one State, and a whole army of lawyers be almost continuously engaged in trying to prove that this or that particular matter is not within the jurisdiction of the Court. The majority of people, while they are foolish enough to allow themselves to be humbugged, do not like to be humbugged, and do not wish- the Constitution to put them in that position. They want to see equal justice extended to employers and employes so far as any tribunal can do that. I believe that throughout the whole industrial ranks there is a desire that the Arbitration Court should be clothed with sufficient powers to enable it to deal with any cases of industrial disputes which extend beyond the limits of a State. I go further than that;- I believe that the majority of the unions would like to have the right to appeal from their own little narrow industrial tribunals to what they would naturally regard as the most just, fair, and broad-minded tribunal established in the Commonwealth.
– Is not that something remarkably like what the late Go’vernment proposed ?
– The difference is that, whereas the present Government propose an effective way to do it, the late Government proposed a splendid way not to do it, namely, to establish an Inter-State Commission, vested with so many powers that if they were all carried into effect Parliament would practically be left with nothing to do. It was only by agreement between the States and the Commonwealth that the Inter-State Commission was to have any power to deal with the matters.
– The Honorable senator must remember that it is provided for in the Constitution.
– In pre-Federal days all the States would admit that legislation on a certain principle was necessary. But when it came to a question of getting down to business it was practically impossible to get them to act in a uniform way. It was a most cumbrous, round-about system o’f circumlocution. When Mr. Deakin and his colleagues proposed the creation of an Inter-State Commission as a Court of Appeal from wages boards they knew that it was only a bit of political piffle. Let us go straight to the root of the evil and say that the people want power to settle industrial disputes by means of the Arbitration Court ; let _ us put it beyond the power of the High Court to declare anything unconstitutional by so broadening the Constitution that the former will possess those powers beyond dispute.
– The High Court exists to interpret the Constitution.
– If we can amend the Constitution in such a way as to give power to the Arbitration Court where power does not now exist, or is doubtful to that extent, it will remove those matters from the jurisdiction of the High Court. That is all that we contend for. We want to give the High Court less to do by making the powers of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court broader. During the late campaign I frequently heard the question of the High Court raised. One of the Senate candidates made a. great song about his proposal to alter its constitution. Whilst that may be a very difficult thing to do, yet it seems to me that to widen the powers of the Federation is to that extent to restrict the power of the High Court to interfere with the will of the people as expressed through the Federation. Apparently the High Court, owing to the narrow construction which it places on the Constitution, is the last refuge of the reactionary forces in the Commonwealth. I am not going to be one of those who are slaves to precedent; and only so far as the rules of this Senate compel me will t pay respect to the High Court when I think it is wrong. I do not believe in erecting idols and worshipping them. The High Court is purely the creation of the Commonwealth Constitution, and if we find that it is in the road, we shall have to modify its powers, or sweep it out of existence.
– What ! Sweep the High Court out of existence?
– Even so; rank blasphemy as the statement may seem to my honorable friend.
– I only want to know where the honorable senator is going.
– Straight to the mark every time ! While we have a Federal system, it is probably necessary to have some such body to interpret the Constitution and determine what powers are vested in the Commonwealth, and what remain in the hands of the States. I can easily comprehend the purpose and reason for the existence of such a body. But if we have given the High Court too much power, and have given the Federal Parliament too little, the obvious way of restricting the present obstructive and restrictive tactics of the High. Court is to widen the powers of the Federal Parliament.
– Did the honorable senator say “ the obstructive tactics of the High Court “ ?
– Something like that. Owing to the narrow view the majority of the High Court have hitherto taken of the powers of the Commonwealth, I say that that body is practically becoming obstructive to the Australian Democracy.
– The majority is obstructive, and the minority is not ; is that what the honorable senator means?
– The High Court has become the last refuge of the reactionary forces of the Commonwealth, and the hope of the Tories, of whose doctrines my honorable friend is recognised as a leading exponent. In regard to the nationalization of monopolies, I was asked to define what a monopoly is. I do not profess to be an encyclopaedia, or even a dictionary ; but whilst it may not be easy to give a definition, I am satisfied that honorable senators know very well what a monopoly is. Take the word “ genius.” While there are some who are incontestably worthy of being called men of genius, yet there has never been a definition of that word which has given general satisfaction. Similarly, although we may know a thing to be a monopoly, and may feel the evil effects of it, yet we may be unable to give an exact definition of the word we use to describe it. I contend that wherever any industry requires such a large amount of capital to make it successful that only a few individuals or firms can possibly undertake it, that industry becomes a monopoly. Where a few firms only undertake any industry, combination among them is easy. Indeed’, it is practically impossible to prevent combination by any legislation which we may pass. We may have honorable or dishonorable understandings between men and firms; but when only a few of them are engaged in any business, or are conducting any public service or utility, the experience ot the world is that in such instances the natural tendency is for them to combine for their own advantage, irrespective of the well-being of the community they are serving.
– Like the Seamens Union and the Shipping Combine !
– Unionism among workers is merely defensive organization to prevent complete domination by the capitalistic employers.
– Would not the honorable senator give to unionists an absolute monopoly in certain directions? Did he not say so?
– I never said anything of the kind. I spoke of “ preference to unionists,” but that does not in any way mean monopoly to unionists. I heard Senator Walker say a little while ago that he believed in every one getting a square deal. We contend - and, I urge, for reasons that cannot be refuted - that those who, by their energy, by their sacrifice, and by their time and money, build up unions, are more entitled to whatever benefit springs from such combinations than are those who, by staying outside the unions, not only limit their power from the commencement, but render active assistance to the employers in breaking them up.
– T - Those who have done the work in the past hav« been penalized.
– In the past those who did the work of building up unions were penalized, and even to this day are occasionally so seriously disadvantaged that they are driven outside their district, or their State, or even outside their country altogether. To propose, therefore, that those .who have been a hindrance to the triumph of the unions - those who, either through ignorance or through the love of petty personal gain for the time being, have been willing to throw over their fellow men - are to be placed on an equality with those who have worked and sacrificed to establish unions, is to propose more than, I am certain, the honorable senator himself would be willing to grant in circumstances affecting himself.
– T - The phrase that is used should be “protection to unionists,” and not “preference to unionists.” That is what it amounts to.
– That is what it amounts to. That is a point that scarcely any representative of the employing class, will recognise. If you do not give what we call preference to unionists, it means that you are giving preference to non-unionists. There is no middle course. If you do not specify that, under given conditions, unionists must get a preference, you are giving every inducement to employers in those industries to give a preference to nonunionists, and, consequently, to burst up the unions.
– That is the logical deduction.
– Not only is that so as a matter of abstract logic, but in fact. If an employer who is personally adverse to a union finds that no obligation is cast upon him by agreement or by legislation to give a preference to unionists, and if his desire be to burst up the union, then, other things being equal, he will give a preference in employment to non-unionists. Thus, a premium is offered to those who are seeking to break up those organizations. The newspaper press, which opposes us, and voices the views of my honorable friend opposite-
– I have not voiced any views yet.
– It is a testimony to the wide-spread circulation of the honorable senator’s views, that I have obtained a knowledge of them. These persons are continually stating that, if preference to unionists be granted, a number of men who are not members of the unions will be starved. What does that statement amount to ? It amounts to saying that there is not enough work to go round amongst all the persons in the industry in question ; and that, therefore, if a preference be given to unionists, there will be a balance of employes who will have no work to do. Suppose that no preference were given, and that unionists and non-unionists were employed indiscriminately. Suppose there were 10,000 men looking for work in a particular industry, and that it could not employ more than 9,000; it would follow that 1,000 men would either starve for want of work, or would have to seek other employment. Whether the 9,000 who were employed m ere i unionists or otherwise, there would still be 1,000 who would have no work. Therefore, those who say that preference to unionists means the starvation of non-unionists, make a false deduction. In so doing, they really launch an impeachment of present industrial system ; because, in any case, there would be a number of persons out of employment who would be left to starve or battle for casual work’ for a crus It is,
I repeat, an impeachment of the whole system, and bears out entirely what ad-_ vanced Labourites have always preached,” that so long as production is conducted for profit only and not for use, so long as our present iniquitous commercial system continues, unionism is absolutely necessary, or wages will be reduced to a mere subsistence level. It is only that surplus labour under our present system that enables the employers to compete one against another, and causes dissension between unionists and nonunionists. Without prolonging the debate unduly, I should like to say a word or two as to the financial policy of the Government. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than the announcement in the Governor - General’s Speech that the Naval Loan Bill is to be repealed. I have heard it stated that the Commonwealth Labour party has not, at any time, pronounced absolutely against borrowing ; but simply wishes to restrict borrowing. I have heard the present Prime Minister, and other leading members of the party, say that they strenuously object to making the Commonwealth a seventh borrower while the States are indulging in the system of unrestricted borrowing; and that, until the States debts are consolidated, or some arrangement is made to limit and control the borrowing powers of the States, they view almost with horror the idea of the Commonwealth going into the money market. I may say at once, if that be the common idea, that I am absolutely opposed to borrowing altogether. I have frequently been faced with this question, which the questioner generally thought to be a poser which could’ not be answered: “ If you can borrow at a certain percentage, and invest that money in such a way as to make 3, 5, or 10 per cent, out of it, would you not be foolish to decline to borrow ? And, if that be the case in regard to an individual, is not it equally the case in regard to a Government?” My contention is that there is no analogy whatever between a private individual and a community or nation. If an individual finds that he can borrow at 6 per cent., and earn 8 or 10 per cent, with the money, it is perfectly legitimate for him to borrow, under present-day conditions. It may be his only way of making any money. If a man wants to extend his business operations, and there is no other way of increasing his capital than by borrowing, he is justified in doing so. But a nation is in an entirely different position. A private individual or a firm does not possess the taxing power by which a nation can raise the money necessary for carrying on its transactions. Consequently, a nation can do very many things without borrowing at all. My contention is that borrowing not only leads to a profligate and spendthrift policy, but also to taxing the poor for the benefit of the rich. I want to do the reverse. Any community which borrows for other than emergencies is simply assisting an idle class to live upon the interest which is drawn from the sweat and blood of the workers. So far as we can abstain from borrowing, we shall be helping a vast majority of the people. The total debt of the States is over ^250,000,000. The public debt of New South Wales exceeds ^90,000,000, and every year New South Wales pays by way of interest approximately j£3, 250,000. Let us consider for a moment what an enormous proportion of the total revenue derived from legitimate forms of taxation has annually to be paid away in interest upon our indebtedness. Let us consider the increasing percentage of revenue, which, as our public indebtedness grows, must be paid away as interest upon past liabilities. Let us reflect for a moment upon how public work after public work has been undertaken, how it has served its purpose, how it has been replaced by another work without the original loan ever having been liquidated, and how a fresh loan has been contracted to pay for its replacement. Yet this is the sort of thing in which our alleged statesmen have been revelling for generations. If we consider the position, we shall find that the persons who are living upon the interest which we pay, and who comprise a large portion of the moneyed and leisured classes of Great Britain, are just as truly living upon the workers of this country as are the individuals who derive a profit from gambling, or from any other source without working for it. The statement that we have had the benefit of the money thus borrowed is an absolute fallacy. As a matter of fact, the total amount which we have received represents only a small percentage of the sum borrowed. If we take into consideration underwriters’ charges and other incidental expenses, it will be found that we have obtained only a very small proportion of the money which we are supposed to have borrowed. Time will not permit me to deal with this question exhaustively, but even those who do not share my own views upon it must admit that above all things we ought to pay spot cash for the defence of our country. We talk about an Australian Navy. I hold in my hand a copy of a proclamation forbidding the Cerberus to fire salutes in the future to visiting men of war for fear she should break up. I suppose that we have all heard of the boat on the American River which could only whistle when she slopped. In other words, she could not whistle and steam at the same time. It seems to me that the Cerberus occupies very much the same position. If she fires a salute, she will probably damage herself.
– Is the honorable member speaking of our warship the Cerberus ?
– The proclamation in question is dated 27th April, 1910, so that it was issued subsequent to the recent general elections. Apparently, it was a sort of dying kick by the late Administration. Fancy borrowing money with which to build a Navy composed of vessels of that class - ships which dare not fire a salute for fear of sinking themselves instead of the enemy. We all know that in consequence of the improvements which are constantly being made in warships, vessels of the most approved type now become obsolete in a few years. Consequently, to borrow money in times of peace for the purpose of constructing vessels which cannot have a lifetime of more than ten or twelve years would be the most spendthrift policy imaginable. If we regard defence as a form of national insurance, we ought surely to be prepared to pay the premiums upon that insurance year by year as they fall due. In that respect, I trust that the policy of the Government will be steadfastly upheld, and that in the future no party will go back upon it. I have no desire to traverse the whole of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, but I do hope that at an early date the Ministry will afford the Parliament an opportunity of remedying a serious defect in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Honorable senators are doubtless aware that under a recent decision of the High Court that statute has been placed in further jeopardy. At the present moment, a big case, which must shortly come before the Arbitration Court, is pending. It must come before that tribunal within a few weeks, and I contend that in the interim this Parliament ought so to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as to place the Court in a position to know definitely whether or not it is en titled to grant a preference to Unionists. The Australian Workers Union is the industrial body interested in that case and it is now going through the necessary legal formalities prior to its claim reaching the Arbitration Court. I submit that the law should be so clarified or extended as to enable that tribunal to know exactly what are its powers in such cases, so that a union will not be put to vast expense in upholding its claim after an award has been made. Whilst unions have been penalized for striking on the ground that they have been afforded a lawful and expeditious method of settling their industrial disputes without resort to that barbarous weapon, they have, in reality, been, giver* only a stone when they asked for bread. After expending a large portion of their funds in attempting to secure, a judicial settlement of their disputes, after bringing incontestable evidence of the justice of their claims, and after being granted a measure of relief by the Arbitration Court, they have been robbed of the fruits of their victory upon pure technicalities. It will be a standing disgrace to the Ministry if they permit such a state of things to continue a moment longer than is unavoidable. We know that the Government are in entire sympathy with the aims and ideals of industrial union. But it is not sufficient for them to be sympathetic with those aims and ideals. They must utilize the machinery which is at their command for the purpose of meting out justice to the workers. At the recent general elections, thousands of persons who are not connected with our organizations voted for Labour candidates.
– And always do. Senator RAE. - But I mean that a larger percentage voted for Labour candidates than have hitherto done so.
– The results show that.
– Not necessarily. Our membership may have increased sufficiently
– The returns do not show it.
– Our political Labour organizations are not necessarily confined to trade unionists.
– That is something new.
– It is not. The honorable senator’s knowledge of it may be new. But the fact is as old as is the Labour movement itself. Ever since the inception of that movement, persons who are not connected with trade unions have been as welcome to join our political labour organizations as trade unionists themselves. When the Labour party was originated in New South Wales, in June, 1891 - the first Labour members were elected to the New South Wales Parliament in that year - the Labour organization which gave birth to that party was not composed exclusively of trade unionists. A body, which was then known as the Labour Electoral League, was formed, and it admitted freely to its ranks persons who had never been members of a trade union, provided that they subscribed to the principles laid down in its platform. Further, it has never prevented a member of any class from becoming a candidate for Parliament.
– There is hope yet even for Senator St. Ledger.
– There is nothing to prevent any person, be he doctor, lawyer, or school teacher, from becoming a Labour candidate for Parliament.
– Has he not to be a member of a trade union for a certain period before he is eligible to become a candidate for Parliament?
– No. But, quite recently, a provision was adopted by the New South Wales Labour League that before any person may become a Labour candidate for Parliament he must be a member of the union representing the trade -which he follows, assuming that such a union is in existence.
– I am glad that the honorable senator was elected, because he has been able to explain the position so clearly to Senator St. Ledger.
– I have been a member of the New South Wales Labour League ever since it was established. While certain restrictions are imposed, members of unions have the utmost liberty to make proposals and to have them put on the businesspaper. But to make them and to carry them may be two different things. “Some of the wildest proposals ha-ye been made by members of unions.
– If a man who has “been a unionist refuses to belong to a union, is he eligible for selection as a Labour candidate ?
– So far as New South’ “Wales is concerned he is not, but I’ cannot -answer for the other States.
– He is, if he is a member of a Political Labour League.
– If, for instance, a nonunion shearer refused to be a unionist whilst continuing his occupation, he could not be selected as a Labour candidate.
– If he is not. a member of a union he is not eligible for selection as a Labour candidate?
– Yes, he is.
– My honorable friend says “ Yes,” but I say “ No.” We have a rule in our Labour leagues to the effect that if there is a union in the occupation followed by a man who desires to be a Labour candidate, he must be a member of that union before he can be selected. Some industrial unions do not permit a man to.continue his membership when he ceases to follow the occupation of the union. I think the coal miners take that stand.
– No, the coal miners do not.
– The honorable senator refers to such a case as that of a working compositor becoming a master printer.
– Just so ; he could not then remain a member of the Typographical Association. But if he became a member of a Labour league he would be eligible for selection as a Labour candidate. It is only when a man can by the rules of a union belong to it, and refuses to do so, that he is disqualified from being a Labour candidate. I think we should be very inconsistent if we did not have a rule to that effect.
– Any member of a Labour league may be selected as a Labour candidate in New South Wales.
– I think the honorable senator will find that I am right in what I have stated, and that if I am not I ought to be. If what I have stated were not the rule, I should propose it at the next conference I attended; but I know that we carried such a rule some three or four years ago. I wish now to say a word or two about the Federal Capital. During a campaign that extended over a good many months, I do not recollect that 1 was once asked whether I was in favour of YassCanberra or Dalgety. Once or twice I was asked in a general way what I thought about the Federal Capital, and my answer was That what seemed to me of infinitely greater importance than the site to be chosen was that we should secure a provision that not one inch of the Federal Territory should ever be sold. I held that to keep the freehold of the Federal Territory as an eternal heritage for the Australian people was of infinitely more importance than the exact location of the Capital.
– But the honorable senator evaded the question.
– I did not, because I was never asked a question as to the exact site. I may say that, as a representative of New South Wales, I do not consider that I am bound in this matter by any opinion but my own.
– Did the honorable senator ever see the Yass-Canberra site?
– No, but I have been in the locality. I do not know the exact site. I was in the district when there was no idea that it would ultimately be the site of the Federal Capital. I was also at Dalgety in the good old days, when it was known as Buckley’s Crossing, and there was certainly no idea then that it would ever be the site of the Federal Capital. Honorable senators will agree with me that a man travelling through those districts as I did would not observe them in the way in which he would do if he understood that they were likely to be selected for the site of the Federal Capital. I have not now a clear recollection of the nature of the country I saw at Dalgety or in the neighbourhood of YassCanberra. If the matter has not already been settled by mere administrative action, and if there is to be any reconsideration of the question in this Chamber at all. I believe that an opportunity should be afforded honorable senators who have not seen the two sites to visit them. I cannot see how one could pass a fair and impartial judgment upon them otherwise. So far as it can be determined by mere observation, my mind is at present quite open as to the special advantages or disadvantages of either of the sites that have been suggested, and in considering the matter on broader grounds as to whether Yass-Canberra is too near Sydney and Dalgety too near Melbourne, I can promise that I shall take no parochial view of the question. Personally, I believe that the further we get away from Sydney, without getting too near Melbourne, the better, and it would be well if we could secure a suitable site about equi-distant between those two cities. If a suitable site could be found away up in the Northern Territory, I think that is where I should like to see the Federal Capital established. Man is by nature better fitted to inhabit the
Tropics than the Arctic circle, and I think’ it would suit most Australians better to live in a warm climate than in a cold one. I regard an adequate water supply for the Federal Capital as indispensable, and that Yass-Canberra possesses such a supply is not proved, to my mind, by facts and figures submitted by a biased State Premier like Brother Wade.
– Or by the present Minister of Home Affairs.
– I think that honorable gentleman visited Yass-Canberra with a very open mind. Unless it is proved to me beyond doubt that there is a good supply of water for the needs of the greatest population that we are ever likely to have in the Federal Capital, I shall not hesitate to vote against Yass-Canberra, and in favourof a site possessing an adequate supply.
– What about water power ?
– If coal were not easily obtainable, and even if it were, it would be an excellent thing to have water power available for the Federal Capital. I shall not pledge myself to vote tor or against Dalgety or Yass-Canberra until 1 know more about them. No man can get a report upon the two sites that he is sure is unbiased. There may be such a thing as an unbiased report upon them, but how are we to know which it is?
– If the honorable senator visits the sites his report will be unbiased.
– It will satisfy me, though I may not be able to convince any one else that it is unbiased.
– How is it that other men cannot give an unbiased report?
– I do not say that they cannot. The honorable senator misunderstands me. I may read half-a-dozen reports, and amongst them one that is unbiased, but what test can I subject them to in order to learn which is the unbiased report? Unless a man has visited the sites he is not competent to judge whether any report upon them is unbiased. When I have visited the sites, and have looked into the facts and figures, I shall be able to say whether I think a case has been made out for one site or the other. My predilections have been in favour of Dalgety, on account of the superior quality and volume of the water available in the Snowy River. It’ is possible that an ample supply of water may be obtainable from the Cotter and Molonglo Rivers.
– So there is.
– Even my brother Labourite, Senator W. Russell, cannot convince me of that until I see it for myself. I have always been of a sceptical nature, and require to be convinced by the evidence of my senses. I cannot take even Senator W. “Russell’s absolute pronouncement in this matter. I want to know the cost which will be involved in constructing a railway from the proposed site at Yass-Canberra to Jervis Bay. I wish to know, also, whether the agreement to cede the territory to the Commonwealth can be amended or modified to provide that the Commonwealth shall have not merely occupation rights, but sovereign rights, over the strip of country on which the railway is to be constructed, and over the land to be ceded at Jervis Bay. Though not a lawyer, I- understand that there is a great difference between having possession of, or the right to occupy, land and having* sovereign rights over it. If, as I understand, the Commonwealth is merely to have the right to occupy the land on which the railway from the capital to Jervis Bay is to be constructed and the area ceded at Jervis Bay, that will not suit me. I desire that the Commonwealth shall have absolutely unassailable sovereign rights over not only the Federal Territory in which the Capita’l is established, .but also over the area at Jervis Bay and over the strip of land connecting the bay with the Capital. Furthermore, I want the proposed Federal Territory to be enlarged until it embraces the watersheds of the rivers supplying the Capital. I should be content to accept nothing less than that for Yass-Canberra, Dalgety, or any other site. The Commonwealth Government should not be placed in the position of having to depend upon the goodwill or charity of any more or less cantankerous State Premier to be assured that the water supply of the Federal Capital will be conserved, and will not be polluted or otherwise interfered with. The watershed of the rivers supplying the Capital must be under the absolute sovereignty of the Commonwealth. Any honorable senator who read the press comments, especially in New South Wales, about what that State is called upon to give away will know the tremendous outcry that was raised against the area of land asked for. It is provided in the Constitution that the area ceded for the purposes of the Federal Capital shall not be less than 100 square miles. The Sydney newspapers in particular interpreted that to mean that it should not be more than 200 square miles. They contended that in good faith the provision with respect to too square miles meant from 100 square miles to 200 square miles, and that the State was extravagantly generous in conceding 900 square miles for the Federal Territory. I ask honorable senators to reflect for a moment that New South Wales has an area of 310,000 square miles. An area of 1,000 square miles or of 5,000 square miles deducted from the total area of the State would amount to practically nothing.
– New South Wales might give us the odd 10,000 square miles.
– I have no doubt that Senator Stewart is aware of some cattle runs in the State from which he comes having a greater area than the proposed Federal Territory. I think that if the Government of a State, possessing an area of 310,000 square miles, could not spare the odd 10,000 square miles for the purpose of a Federal Territory without making a song about it, they must be pretty mean. When those who are opposed to granting so large an area denounce Dalgety as a barren worthless land, and at the same time raise an outcry against the extortionate demands of the Commonwealth, the one assertion disproves the other. If the land is so barren and worthless as they represent, why should they object to part with it? I believe that a majority in each House is in favour of preserving the land to the people, never to be parted with to the land speculator. If that is so, why should we not have a sufficiently large area to secure the whole of the unearned increment for the Commonwealth, and not allow the speculator to come within coo-ee of our Capital? I look upon this as a very important question. When, some few years ago, the Daily Telegraph of Sydney stated, as though it was an unpardonable crime to even think of it, that the desire for a large area was in order that a Labour majority, when it got hold of the Parliament, might conduct socialistic experiments, I cheerfully admitted that that was my object. I want to see socialistic experiments carried on, in fact, I want to see any experiments carried on which will demonstrate the inherent rottenness of the present system. But land ownership is not an experiment. It is as simple as A. B. C The Duke of Westminster, in London, by simply holding on to some lands which may have been swamps when his ancestors got possession of them, can reap enormous fortunes ; and a man does not need to possess intellect above that of an idiot to hold land once it has been acquired. We know very well that if the Commonwealth retains the ownership, the land in the Federal Territory is bound to grow in value. Most capitals in this world have grown up, more or less, by accident. As to very few towns have we had the advantage of knowing beforehand that they were going to become large or great. In Australia, inland anyway, the beginning of an ordinary town has been a public-house established alongside a crossing over a river or creek, a blacksmith, and other persons following the publican, until, by-and-by, a village has grown up. This has become, in time, a town, or even a big city. In the case of the Federal Capital, however, we know beforehand that some millions will be required to build the necessary official buildings. The head-quarters of the Departments, the Governor-General’s residence, the Houses of Parliament, and other works of a durable and important character, will involve an enormous expenditure, extending over a long period of years. Is it not certain, therefore, that those who will have to minister to the wants of the men engaged in the building operations, not to speak of the Legislature, and the Civil Service, will constitute a large subsidiary population, so to speak, whose presence is bound to give an improved value to the Commonwealth lands? Nothing seems clearer than that, if we retain the lands, all this talk about the vast expense of a bush Capital will fall to the ground ; because the enhanced values will absolutely cover the cost of constructing buildings and laying out the ‘site.
– You will have no exemption there?
– No; not even the honorable senator will be able to get a piece of land. Of course, when you abstain from selling, you abstain absolutely.
– Why an exemption now ?
– I am not proposing a system of land taxation. I am merely arguing that the Commonwealth should retain absolute ownership of the land.
– The honorable senator is giving a handsome argument against an exemption from any form of land tax.
– If the honorable senator can get a sufficient majority to knock out the exemption, I suppose that he will be able to occupy this side. I am now dealing with the argument that the establishment of a bush Capital would be an unnecessary drain on our resources. If we established a permanent Capital within an existing metropolitan area, it would cost infinitely more than it will cost to erect a Capital in the bush. We should require to put up fresh buildings, and the value of the sites would far exceed the cost of establishing a new Capital on Federal Territory.-. I rejoice very much that, owing to the State I represent - in a very narrow spirit, I thought at the time - trying to make a grab for the Capital, and not leaving it an open question, as a checkmate to the effort to drag it to Sydney, the other members of the Convention, in consenting to the Capital being established in New South Wales, made the condition that it should not be established within 100 miles of Sydney. I hold that it would be a fatal mistake to have our Capital in a coastal city, or even to have it in an existing town. It should be established in what is at present uninhabited territory, so that the growing land values shall belong to those who make them, and shall not be the property of the speculator. I have spoken at much greater length than I had intended. I- trust that the programme which has been placed before Parliament, certainly in a very vague and general way, so far as the Speech is concerned, will be carried into effect without delay. I feel certain that honorable senators opposite will not oppose in an obstructive way the measures which will Be submitted. Not only are there very few of those honorable senators now, but we have knocked most of the fight out of them, and as practically every one of the leading proposals of the Government has received the indorsement of a huge majority of the people, they, for the sake of their own political skins three years hence, will shrink from putting up much, of a fight against any one of the measures, and, in a general way, they donot seem much inclined to obstruct. I want them to realize, however, that we shall attempt to capture the remaining seats at the next election. As they know that no mercy will then be extended to them, they will, of course, be quite within their rights in fighting us here. I hope that whilst this programme, which, generally speaking, I support, will be carried into law, it will only be the forerunner of much bigger things. Instead of looking upon it as an extreme one, I marvel at its moderation. I think that if there is one fault which can be found by the electors who returned us with such a sweeping majority, it is at our not grasping at a great deal more. I trust that the Senate, which, by force of circumstances, is put in a kind of subordinate position to the other House, will assert itself, and prove in the future to be the more democratic and advanced Chamber of the two.
– Is there any difference of opinion on the other side on the point that this programme does not go far enough ?
– I am not here to express any one’s opinions but my own. I certainly think that, in regard to the land tax, we should have gone a good deal higher, and that in regard to the payment to the States, we would have been wiser if we had gone a good bit lower than 25s. per bead.
– Fifteen shillings would have been plenty.
– There is no mistaking that any more.
– For my part, I absolutely repudiate the statement that we all promised the States 25s. a head for ten years. I never promised any tiling of the kind to any elector.
– What did the honorable senator promise?
– I promised what Senator Gardiner did. We promised, when we were together, and I assert that I did the same when I was alone, that we would vote for the Parliament having supreme control over the Commonwealth finances, without any limit.
– The honorable senator did not specify a time?
– No. I believe there might have been a bit more pressure applied in Western Australia. I give my honorable friends from that State every credit for resisting to the extent which they did.- Of course, those who proposed to make the payment for twenty-five years consider that a payment for ten years is a very moderate instalment. Others consider that, in all probability, whatever party may be in power five or six years hence it will be compelled to review the situation. It is not a question on which there should be a great party clamour. It is a question of what we shall be able to do with the money which we have, in view of the obligations which we have to meet. I have a very great doubt, as I should have even if I were in favour of giving the States £2 per head for 100 years, as to whether we shall be able to pay them even the 25s. per capita five or six years hence. In my opinion, the proposal to place the Financial Agreement in the Constitution was one of the most shameful conspiracies against the liberties of the people which have ever been entered into by a party. I know that, whilst some may have honestly believed in the. agreement, the vast majority of those who advocated it did not believe in it. They knew that they had foresworn their consciences and thrown their principles overboard in order to secure office. And that was the only object which they had in view in presenting such a shameful contract.
– The honorable senator does not know whom he is referring to, but he does not mind imputing motives.
– The honorable senator knows that it would be against parliamentary rule to mention any names. The vast majority of those who supported the agreement did not believe in it. Any man who advocated its adoption was on the horns of a dilemma. He was either a. fool or a rogue. Either he did not believe in what he was advocating, or he did not understand anything about the interests of Australia.
– According- to the honorable senator’s argument, there were three great States which consisted largely of fools or rogues.
– The greatest of all the States - New South Wales - rejected the agreement, and so did Victoria and South Australia. I believe that a majority of the electors did not very clearly understand the question, and that the Fusionists did their best to fog them. We know that very many of the Fusionists argued that the matter could be much more easily adjusted if the agreement were put in the Constitution than it could if the payment were fixed for ten years. They said, if it were put in the Constitution, it wouldnot be in for long, because it could be taken out by merely passing a law. But if the Labour party’s attitude were adopted, and the agreement were made for ten years, the people would put the States in a much tighter corner. In the next breath, prominent statesmen like Mr. Wade or Mr. Waddell would say that the only security which the States could get from putting the agreement in the Constitution was that it could not be taken out readily. We know that electors who do not make a study of these complicated financial questions were fogged. One of the charges made against the Fusionist politicians is that they humbugged the people and caused them to feel so confused that they did not know how to vote.
– The present Prime Minister said that it would be well to give three years more before we finally decided the matter.
– I was with the Prime Minister during several of his speeches in the country districts of New South Wales, and I understood him to say on one occasion that the people required much more time to consider the subject adequately.
– Now how does the honorable senator’s argument tie him up?
– It does not tie me. up at all, because if the people had had three years more in which to consider the subject they would have defeated the Fusion party by ninety to one. They would have had a bigger beating the longer they waited for it; but we gave them such a thrashing at the last election that we need not bother about giving them a bigger one till three years hence. Undoubtedly we shall then. Many candidates urged that the Financial Agreement should be made to operate for ten years. Some of the members of the present Government advocated that term. But many of us made no such promise. My objection is not to giving to the States whatever can be spared after providing for national necessities ; but my extreme fear is that it will be impossible to pay the amount proposed for more than five or six years at the outside. I should like to allude to one little departure that has been made by the presiding officers of both Houses of the Federal Legislature. They have discarded the wearing of the wig and gown.
– And the Prime Minister has bought a motor car.
– I hope that both statements are true. I do not think that “ clothes make the man,” and I consider that if any institution representing the people is to carry the respect and esteem of the country it should do so on its merits. I do not believe that the real dignity of any office is assisted by the wearing of horsehair or millinery of any description.. If an official, shows that firmness, tact, and ability, in the performance of the duties of his office, which are necessary, his conduct will win that respect and esteem of which he is deserving. If he is not deserving of it all the horsehair and millinery in creation will not cause him to be respected.
– Why does not the honorable senator come here with his coat off?
– Because I am quite cold enough already. If the rules of the Senate did not forbid me, and it was more comfortable to do so, I should be happy to come here with my coat off. On one occasion at a public dinner, when the weather was very hot, I did peel off my coat. There were no standing orders there. Others did not follow my example, but that did not matter. I think there should be the utmost freedom in these things.
– The honorable senator would do anything but turn his coat !
– While it would be snobbish for a man to assume any particularly humble kind of apparel, and while there might be just as much snobbery in appearing in moleskins and a slouch hat-
– The Government cannot be in much of a hurry about transacting public business when the honorable senator wastes time on such matters.
– The party to which the honorable senator belongs is not attending much to business at present, anyhow. He is the only representative of it present.’ Even he is going out. It is something like a triumph for me to drive the last enemy from the ramparts. The discarding of the wig and gown by the President and Mr. Speaker is a step in the right direction. In the past we have paid too much respect to frills and furbelows, and have not paid sufficient regard to the real worth behind them. What has been done marks a distinct advance. Some people are too much in the habit of creating idols and then bowing down to them. For my own part, I believe that the more simplicity is displayed in the conduct of our business the more effectual will be the results. I should like, before concluding, to refer to some of the arguments used in reference to the proposed Commonwealth note issue. It has been said that the Labour party is against borrowing, and yet that we are really securing a forced loan of some £3,000,000 or £4,000,000. The Government scheme provides for keeping 25 per cent, of the amount of the note issue in gold, and additional security will be provided by Treasury-bills being prepared and kept ready for issue at any moment to cover the whole of the notes issued. That has deprived our opponents of the cry they raised about a wild-cat scheme in imitation of those South American republics which have indulged in a debased paper currency. Our opponents being deprived of the charge that the Labour party are going to debase the currency, it is now said that the Federal note issue is in the nature of a forced loan. In another Chamber an eminent financial authority, Mr. Bruce Smith, used that argument.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable senator in order in criticising the remarks of a member of another place?
– The honorable senator is not in order in alluding to a member of another place by name.
– I thought I might be treading on forbidden ground. Now I know it. However, a member of another place - it may have been in Kamschatka - stated that the Labour party were about to issue a forced loan, in spite of the fact that we professed to be against borrowing. But I take it that the reason why we are against borrowing is because it loads the public with a burden of interest. If we could get loans for nothing I should not be opposed to borrowing. Personally, I should have no hesitation in raising a loan for a considerable amount if there was no interest to pay.
– And if the honorable senator had not to pay back the amount.
– I should not mind paying back the principal if I had no interest charge to bear. The objection to loans, from a national point of view, is the burden of interest that they carry. I take it that if 75 per cent, or 70 per cent, of the note issue that is not kept as a reserve fund is at the disposal of the Federal Treasurer, he will not only have that sum without interest, but he will have a loan which will never require repayment. A loan that does not require redemption is practically a gift. If the banks have to deposit a sovereign for each note issued, and if the total amount of the deposit leaves a margin after providing a reserve of some ,£4,000,000 or £5,000,000, and the notes have to be constantly renewed, it follows that the Commonwealth will get that sum free, and will be able to spend it for public purposes. That is far higher finance than the kind which consists in going to the money-lenders of Great Britain for a loan. It seems to me that this note issue is a preliminary to the establishment of a Commonwealth bank. I recognise, however, that that will be a much more delicate matter, and will require very careful consideration. Still, however, I see nothing whatever to prevent the Commonwealth from managing a bank just as wisely and as prudently as such an institution can be managed at present by private individuals. We are continually told that in the Public Service every one is simply trying to get through his day’s work with the least possible exertion, that the Government stroke prevails, and that if a Government bank were established those responsible for it would consider it immaterial whether they made a good investment or a bad one. Those who hold that opinion know very little about our Government officers. I venture to say that in the Government Departments there are some of the most honest, capable, and energetic men in the country. Many of them regard their work as their principal interest in life, and devote far more time to it than is required under the rules of the Service. I know of men of the highest calibre who have broken down in health through enthusiastic devotion to their work. They regard it as far more than the means of earning a livelihood. It is a mistake to suppose that the shareholders in joint stock banks know more about the business of banking than do the ordinary members of the public. A man who invests his money in the stock of a private enterprise bank has to trust to expert ability for the efficient management of the institution. He- has to trust to men who hold salaried positions to use his money wisely. There is no reason why men who are paid to do the banking business of a Government should not discharge their duties as efficiently as do those who are paid to transact the business of a joint stock bank. There is no reason why a Commonwealth bank should not be as efficiently managed as is any bank in the country at present. If a private banking company can obtain the services of a good managing director, a Commonwealth institution can do the same thing whenever the time is ripe to launch this scheme. I confess that there is one disadvantage from which the State suffers, namely, that too often those in authority place too low an estimate upon the market value of the labours of those whom they employ. The manager of a great public Department is frequently paid for his services so very much less than is paid by private enterprise for the performance of similar duties, that he relinquishes State employment for private employment. But if we are prepared to pay the true market value for a man’s services, we shall be able to secure the very best talent available to manage an institution of this kind. I trust, therefore, that, whilst the utmost care will be exercised in framing a measure of this character, no time will be lost in initiating this desirable reform. I believe that if we once break down the land monopoly on the one hand, and the money monopoly on the other, we shall be in a fair way to secure to the whole community those social powers which are necessary for its effective government and economic management. It appears to me that a great many men - even some of the members of my own party - have been rather reluctant to confess themselves Socialists. They nave been afraid that, to many persons, the word had such an evil significance that such a confession would imperil their political existence. I contend that the trend of events the whole world over is in the direction of Socialism. That trend is inevitable. Nothing can avert it, because it is the result of economic conditions. I hold that the Labour movement is the practical expression of so much of that Socialism as the community is ripe for. We are not attempting to injure any class, irrespective of whether they be land-owners or land users. We are not, as our opponents argue, a mere body of city unionists who are engaged in well organized and highly paid “trades - in short, we are not what has been contemptuously termed, a “ Trades Hall party.” But we are advocating principles which, if given effect to, will gradually result in the substitution of well ordered, collective action for the present chaotic, competitive system which satisfies nobody and impoverishes thousands. While, under that system, a few build up fortunes, and a few more occupy comfortable positions in life, the great body of the people - though not perhaps cast in that poverty which is prevalent in other countries - find no security in their position. They do not know from day to day, or month to month, whether or not the income which they are now deriving will be secured to them. No working man “knows what will become of his widow and helpless children, if his health breaks <3own, or if death overtakes him. This insecurity and anxiety for the future are responsible for many premature deaths, and for a good deal of ill health. In other words, worry and work are very inequitably distributed at the present time. Our object is to. bring about a fairer distribution. We know that this can be accomplished only so far as the great body of electors are prepared to work with us, to understand the principles which we advocate, and to vote for them. For that reason, our party propose nothing of a “ wild cat” character to revolutionize society. We propose only to introduce reforms which will pave the way for that collective organization of society in which one will help the other. Whether it be called Socialism or national cooperation, it is clearly a higher and more advanced stage of human development than that in which we live to-day. I trust that my efforts, and those of my colleagues, will help forward this movement, which - even if we opposed it - present-day economic conditions of themselves would inevitably bring about in the not distant future.
– It is not my intention to prolong this debate, because I have always held the opinion that a discussion upon the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply has not very much to recommend it. Long before I entered Parliament, I expressed the view that the time occupied in debating this motion was merely so much “hot air,” as they say in America, because whatever may be urged either for or against the different legislative proposals contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech must be repeated when those proposals subsequently come before us. Therefore, the time which is devoted to a discussion of this character might much more profitably be employed in dealing with the practical business of .the session. But on the present occasion, I recognise that there is even less excuse for debating the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, because usually it supplies honorable senators with an opportunity to have a tilt at their opponents.
– Where are they?
– That is what I wish to know. My heart is in my boots when I look around the chamber - as I have done during the past few days - and notice the empty Opposition benches. After the battle, when the rival parties appear in Parliament, and we start to sum up the results of a general election, we begin to reflect how we got here, and how some of our comrades failed to do so. But on this occasion our opponents have been entirely vanquished. Talk about the fate of the Light Brigade ! There is only a slight resemblance between their fate and that of our opponents at the last election. Before proceeding further, I wish to congratulate you, sir, upon the very commendable stand that you have taken in discarding those emblems of mediaeval mysticism - the President’s wig and gown. They have been handed down to us from the time when they were worn by the few - an insignificant few - to impress upon the vast majority a sense of their importance. I am very glad that you have blazed the pathway for other governing” bodies throughout the Commonwealth to follow, and that you have disregarded the beaten track which has been so long trodden by your predecessors. I only hope that the practice of discussing the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply will also be abolished. There are other innovations, I think, which might be introduced with very great advantage to this Parliament. We have all witnessed the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament at different times, and it appears to me that at that ceremony, the military part of our citizenship figures with undue prominence. I think that that feature might well be eliminated. There is no reason why this Parliament should not be opened in the sane, deliberate fashion that is observed in other countries. It would lose nothing in dignity, and its sphere of usefulness as a Legislature whose function it is to give expression to the will of the people, would be in no way impaired. Indeed, if it were opened with the simplicity which characterized the opening of the United States Congress some years ago, when President Jackson rode up to the Capitol upon his shaggy pony, hitched it, entered the Congress, opened it, remounted his shaggy pony and rode away, it would stand upon an equal plane with that body. There is no necessity for a military display at the opening of the Commonwealth Parliament. Personally, I have an innate horror of such spectacles, because my mind instinctively reverts to the time when I saw the red-coats used by a small and insignificant minority of the people for the purpose of crushing the majority- with a strong hand. When every effort was being made by a struggling people to rise from a position of degradation to a higher level, there was an unnecessary parade of militarism.
– No people are fonder of ceremonial than are our own.
– I have a number of complaints to urge against the way in which the late election campaign was conducted.
Although I have no desire to waste time,, because I recognise that important work awaits us, I cannot close my eyes to the tactics which were adopted by some of themen who led that campaign against theLabour party. A gallant effort was madeby the leaders of the Fusionist movement to divide the sheep from the goats - to bring; under their banner every- element in thepolitical life of this country save that of the Labour party. But if we cast our minds back for a brief period, we shall remember that no great zeal was thendisplayed for the formation of only two political parties. I can recollect the time when the Labour party exercised very great influence in the New South Wales Parliament. While it was engaged in keeping in power there what was then regarded asthe most progressive political party, politicians saw no necessity to bring about the two-party system of government. On the contrary, they found it very convenient to have the assistance of the Labour party. The clamour for the two-party system wasdue simply to the growing popularity of the Labour party. When, by dint of our efforts in the political field over a number of years, and with a powerful press against us, we had at length succeeded in reaching the popular ear, and in impressing uponthe majority of the people a sense of the justice and wisdom of adopting the viewswe had taken so rauch trouble to place before them, our opponents recognised thatwe were steadily advancing in popularity, and it was then that they clamoured for the two-party system. It was then that we found brought into one fold men whose political opinions were as wide apart as the poles, and who were agreed only intheir inveterate opposition to a Labour candidate. The Fusion candidates posed throughout the country as exemplars in politics as well as in society, but what did they do ? From my observations in one part of the Commonwealth, I noticed that they scarcely left anytHing of a shady character unsaid or undone to place themselves in a favorable light and to down their opponents.
– Of a shady character ?
– Yes, and that is even too mild a term to describe the action of some of these exemplars of society. We found some of the men who had the cheek to put themselves forward in this way in the press resorting almost to the tactics of the gimlet brigade. They sent a photo- grapher around to take photographs of four-roomed houses occupied by Labour candidates, and exhibited these as affording a reason why the Labour party should not be supported. I grant that they omitted to “say whether there were mortgages on these four-roomed houses. They even went so far as to go to South Africa to secure a photograph of Mr. Chris. Watson with a Kaffir beside him. Perhaps we should be thankful for small mercies, and the wonder is that they did not pursue their policy of espionage still further. I wonder that they did not employ the gimblet brigade to find out the internal arrangements of the four-roomed houses j to find out what the Labour candidates had for breakfast, and whether they slept between sheets. I wonder that they did not send out photographers to discover where Labour candidates got their meals. I begin to think that I may have had a happy escape, because after a trip in the country I have sometimes plunged a little, and have visited a shilling restaurant. I am surprised that my footsteps were not dogged by the agents of these people in order that a photograph might have been secured of a Labour candidate who bacl the audacity to patronize a shilling restaurant when there were plenty of sixpenny restaurants to which he might have gone. This does not exhaust my indictment of the tactics of the Fusion party at the last election.
Sitting stiff ended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– They exhibited equal ingenuity in their description of the attitude of the Labour party towards those engaged in the primary industries. They endeavoured to induce the farmers to believe that the policy of the Labour party is entirely opposed to the farming interests. They made, a special effort in this direction in Western Australia, in order to bring about a severance between the farming interest and the political Labour party in the State. They went to extreme pains to circulate throughout the State the opinions expressed by an isolated member of the party in Western Australia.
– Almost an unknown man.
– He was an unknown man, and his utterances on this subject were flouted by his comrades in the Labour movement in South Australia. Our opponents in the Western State circulated a pamphlet entitled “ ‘The Labour Parly and the
Farmers.’ ‘ The naked Truth. ‘ To Hell with the Farmers,’ “ in which the statement is made -
The Labour party is trying hard to secure the support of the farmers, “but this shows what a leading Labourite thinks of them. 1 do not so much object to this as to the endeavour which was made throughout Western Australia to induce the farmers to believe that this isolated expression ot opinion was a responsible utterance on behalf of the Labour party as a whole. To suggest that the Labour party would be unjust to the farming interest is certainly not in accordance with the facts. The pamphlet to which I have referred is signed by Mr. Clarke James, who was one of the principal agents of our opponents in Western Australia. It shows the extreme lengths to which they were prepared to go to misrepresent the attitude of the Labour party to the farming interest. I speak as a farmer, and I say that the farming interest has nothing to fear at the hands of the Labour party. Wherever our policy has received the remotest encouragement, the farmers, as a class, have been the direct gainers. We can point to innumerable instances in South Australia where, as the result of the modification of the policy of our opponents, through Ihe pressure exercised by Labour members in the State Parliament, many benefits have been brought to the door of the farmer which he would not otherwise have received. The circulation of the statements of this member of the South Australian Labour party, which had not the indorsement of the party as a whole, did not complete the efforts of our” opponents in Western Australia. In another circular signed by Mr. Clarke James, the leading agent of the brigade responsible for the dissemination of these tarradiddles, I find the statement -
The policy of the Labour party is to starve the States, and if they had their way with the financial agreement our revenue from the Commonwealth would decrease as our population increases. 1 have analyzed the various proposals submitted to this Parliament during the last three or four years for the settlement of the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth, but I have been unable to discover anything in the financial proposals of the Labour party to suggest that it is their policy to starve the States, o’.- that if their policy were carried out, it would have the effect of decreasing the returns to the States as their population increases. Such a statement of the effects of our policy is,- of course, at total variance with the facts, hut it was quite good enough to suit the book of our opponents in the Western State. They circulated these two “ De Rougemonts,” because they are nothing else, with a view to render our party unpopular in the country. I recognise that political parlies do not always rigidly adhere to the truth in the prosecution of their campaign, and this is borne out in the document bearing the signature of our opponents, and professing to describe the effect of the financial policy of the Labour party as being calculated to starve the States, and to decrease their revenue as their population increases.
– Senator Stewart said that in an interview with the press.
– With all respect for Senator Stewart’s powers of initiative, he is not yet authorized to speak on behalf of the Labour party ; and the fact remains that there is no evidence, either in the scheme of the Brisbane Labour Conference or iri the financial policy now presented by the Labour Government, of any desire on the part of the Labour party to do either of the things which our opponents in Western Australia alleged that we intended to do.
– Fortunately, a majority of the electors did not believe them.
– That is so, but I feel that we are entitled to complain of the tactics resorted to by men who have been accustomed to claim that they alone can honorably conduct a political campaign. 1 should like to say that our Electoral Act requires amendment to provide for the exercise of a closer supervision of the expenses of candidates. We had evidence in the Western State that money was flowing from a central treasury in Perth to every small centre of population in a particular district of the State, expressly to forward the interests of Fusion candidates. We were puzzled to know where the money came from. We cannot understand where it came from. But from reports to hand from time to time, and especially from the admissions of the real actors in the play, we are at least entitled to assume, if not to decide, that the amounts which are specified in the Electoral Act were far exceeded in Western Australia. In touring the Swan division, I found, from the reports of friends, and sometimes of opponents, that an unlimited amount of capital was being expended in every small centre. When one arrived at a small place, the first person of any importance one would meet would be a representative of the Fusion party. In Bunbury, the only place which we are told can give birth to a Premier, £200 was expended, according to the best authority. I wish it to be understood that the opinions I am expressing are not my own, nor those of our supporters in the field, but the opinions which were held, with every justification, I believe, by our opponents. It was universally admitted in that centre that at least £200 was expended to advance the interests of the Fusionist candidate. Another gentleman whom I know very well was a travelling organizer, who confined his attention 10 the Swan electorate. He must have received at least £4 or £5 a week for a period of six or seven weeks. In the Newcastle district there was a gentleman who described himself as a Fusion agent. There was also a Fusion agent in Bridgetown, Mundijong, Yaloop, Pinjelly, and Albany. In various places throughout the Swan division there was a man stationed who, if he did not devote the whole of his time to electioneering, had little time left to apply to his own business.
– There were one or two gentlemen with roving commissions.
– What is the difference between doing that and unions sending out nominal organizers who are on the stump all the while?
– The difference between the two men is that the union organizer does the political work voluntarily. The Government should try to find out where all the money came from, and, above all, if it was expended in violation of the Electoral Act.
– It went into the Sporting and Dramatic News.
– I have passed by the efforts of our vanquished opponents in the field of journalism. In addition to stationary agents in the Swan division we had a walking delegate on behalf of the Fusion named Mr. Mills, who had stood as a candidate at the previous Federal election. He toured the whole of the southwestern portion of the State, and the natural presumption is that he did not do that for love of the work in which he was engaged. Of course, he indulged in his customary raillery against the Labour party, and his system of misrepresentation. Amongst the misrepresentations which I had the opportunity of charging him with was his statement that if the Labour party came into power, this Parliament would immediately impose an export duty on wheat. Honorable senators may imagine the effect which such a statement, coming from what had been hitherto a rather representative type of citizen, would have upon a gathering of farmers, meaning, as it did, that if our party came into power, their first effort would be to reduce the price of farm produce.
– Mr. Tudor said he favoured it.
– No; he did not.
– He promised to favorably bring the matter before his colleagues.
– This travelling agent of the Fusion in the Swan division was engaged, we may feel assured, at a very respectable salary for a lengthy period, to set forth the position of the candidates who found him the cash, presumably; but above all to misrepresent, in a most gross and unfair way, the attitude of the Labour party towards the farming interest. I am glad that we have this chance of describing how the election campaign was conducted, and the unfair means which were resorted to by our opponents, in order to place the Labour party unfavorably in the eyes of the public. There were also lady canvassers - four or five - who took a tour in that part of the constituency. The sum total of this financial effort was, according to my best calculations, that at least £480 was put up for the purpose of paying the officials in the employ of the Fusion party, and advancing their interest in that small part of Western Australia. I do not intend to labour these events, except to show that there is need for holding an inquiry. If the Government are satisfied that money has been unlawfully spent for the purpose of violating the provisions of the law which we are all supposed to observe, it is their duty to probe the facts of the last contest in Western Australia, and to find out if any money .was expended, especially illegally expended, for the purpose of bringing about our defeat. It is the particular duty of the Labour Government to set a standard for all other Governments to follow, and therefore I hope that they will institute a searching inquiry. I do not know that I have much criticism to offer regarding the Speech, which sets out the main intentions of the Government. In the first place, it refers to the adjustment which is about to take place in the distribution of the net revenue from Customs and Excise. So far as the time is concerned, I certainly think that ten years is a rather short period, although in expressing that view I feel that I am at variance with some members of the Labour party.
– Make it twenty years.
– No; but I want a little longer period than ten years.
– Are we likely to have the money to pay the amount, and also to look after national obligations?
– I think so. The States are indissoluble units of the Commonwealth ; they cannot be dissolved except by their own motion. Taking into account the fact that they are engaged in carrying out very necessary works, apart from the functions of preserving order and carrying on the civil government, we have every reason to give some encouragement to the States, and not to be guided by the treatment which other Federations extend to their component parts. Take, for example, States like New South Wales and Western Australia. How do they compare with Canadian provinces, or even with the divisions which form the German Empire? They are not merely carrying on the civil government, but they are advancing far ahead of the provinces and the divisions to which I have alluded. They are, for example, carrying on the transport services, looking after the water frontage and the waterways, and in other directions taking the place of private effort.
– Is not that also being largely done in many European States?
– Not to the same extent as here. It is quite true that Prussia has a large railway system, but in Canada and the United States the component parts of the Federation have little more to do than to preserve order and uphold the civil government. They are also carrying on an educational system, but they have nothing to do with the land, especially in Canada, and certainly they have nothing to do with the collective efforts which the States in Australia are at present making. When we reflect that the States of the Commonwealth stand on an entirely different basis from the divisions of other Federations, I think that we should move very gradually in the matter of cutting short the supply of funds which they have been in the habit of receiving from Customs and Excise. I am at one with those who fear that when the revenue from those sources sinks from 50s. a head to 30s. or 25s., it will be absolutely impossible to pay anything tothe States. But, so long as the revenue keeps n the neighbourhood of 50s. a head, I chink that there is a sacred obligation cast upon the members of this Parliament to see that the springs of revenue which have been sustaining the life blood of the States should not be dried up so soon as some seem to indicate is desirable.
SenatorW. Russell. - What would he die effect on the revenue of a dry season or two ?
– Unfortunately the revenue would rise, because we would have to purchase our supplies. In 1902, the revenue from Customs rose, because we had to get our supplies wherever we could, and at whatever it might cost. Looking at the matter broadly, I think that we are not entitled at present to limit the payment to the States to even ten years. I would favour a much longer term, the term of twenty-five years, which it was sought here last year to get inserted in the agreement. Certainly a longer term than ten years would best suit my view. I recognise that in this matter I may be suspected of being a believer in the State Rights policy. I do not think it necessary to argue that matter very fully. I need only point to the action which we took in Western Australia to get the Financial Agreement voted down. To all appearances that State stood to gain more under the agreement that did any of the other States, yet when the time came for expressing an opinion, we stood firmly by the attitude that this Parliament alone should have the final say in the distribution of the revenue from Customs and Excise. We had a strong opposition raised against us. We even had amongst our opponents some misguided adherents of Labour who thought that we were acting wrongly. We then took a stand which cannot justify a charge that I favour the State Rights policy if onthe present occasion I say that ten years is rather too short a period to adopt. Of course, the object of the Financial Agreement was to try to keep the Fusion party in power at the expense of crippling the Commonwealth. It has been said that none sees the course of a game so clearly as do those who are watching it from the outside. It is, therefore, advantageous to read what the London Times has had to say on the situation. Writing on the 1 6th April, that journal said -
Mr. Deakin asked leave to embody the financial agreement in the Constitution, procedure which must ultimately have put the Federal Government at the mercy of the States. The electorate, however, seems determined that the Federal Government shall not thus tie against itself the strings of its own purse.
So say I; but I think that ten years is rather on the short side in the matter of dealing with the States. The Times continues -
But there are problems indissolubly associated with those of Defence on which its earnestness is still to be tried. One of these is the Immigration problem, the other the construction of the two transcontinental lines.
So that The Times, reviewing the position from a distance, dispassionately, concluded that the proposal of the Fusion Government was calculated to place the Commonwealth at the mercy of the State Parliaments. Of course, I rejoice that the advice of that party was not taken by the electors; and I must add that a most systematic attempt was made in several States of the Union, not only to secure the acceptance of the Financial Agreement, but also the rejection of those who were opposed to it. The members of the State Governments themselves brought influence to bear, and even took to the platform and strained every nerve with the object of bringing about the defeat of the Labour nominees. This fact warrants the conclusion arrived at, not only by the members of this Parliament, but by a considerable number of the public outside, that the agreement arrived at by a secret Conference in Melbourne had a political significance which did not appear upon the face of the document. I notice in the Governor-General’s Speech a very mild reference to the transcontinental railway. While I am glad that the subject has been mentioned, I should have been better pleased if the intentions of the Government had been set forth more explicitly, as was done with other items in their programme.
– The honorable senator did not want to have swear words put in the Governor-General’s Speech, did he?
– But my party does not imitate the characteristic of other parties indangling promises before the public, and seeking to gain support by dangling alone. Ours is a party of action, and 1 am prepared to accept this mild reference to the subject as an earnest of the intention of the Government that something will be done in the direction of the performance of this great national work. Because, after all, it is a great national work. Look at what has been done by other Federations. In the United States threequarters of a million dollars were spent on the survey of a transcontinental railway to connect the western sea-board with the east. In Canada, also, the Dominion Government fostered the construction of a transcontinental line. I suppose that there were some “ little Canadians “ who opposed the work, just as my honorable friend Senator Stewart has opposed our Australian railway. I hope, however, that he is now prepared to” look at the subject on broad Australian grounds, willing and anxious that the . Federal Government should take up so large and important a public work. I have no desire to make a special appeal for my own State. I am quite content to let this work rest on its own merits. But I cannot refrain from focussing attention on the fact that the western State has not benefited to the extent that the ardent supporters of Federation at the outset promised that it would do from the accomplishment of national union. I have always been content to depend upon the public spiritedness and the high sense of patriotism of the Federal Parliament to insure the completion of this work, and I do so still, but may I make a few remarks as to how Western Australia has been handicapped. I was sent here as a Protectionist, and the majority of my colleagues have also voted solidly with the object of fostering Australian industries, irrespective of whether Western Australia was concerned in them or not. But I regret to say that an examination of the facts shows that Western Australia has scarcely benefited at all. I take the following figures from the Commonwealth Year-Book. In New South Wales, from 1901 to 1908, the number of factories increased by 1,100. Victoria, in the same period, erected 600 new factories. In the case of South Australia and Queensland, the figures are not quite reliable, because a uniform system of recording industrial statistics was not adopted until considerably after Victoria and New South Wales agreed upon a common method. But the figures before me show that ninety fewer factories were in operation in South Australia. In Queensland, the number of factories decreased by 700. Tasmania built 130 new factories, and Western Australia only thirty-five. The increase in the number of employes is still more important. The term “ factory “ is vague, and conveys no idea of the number of persons employed. It is evidently better to have one factory employing a hundred persons than ten factories employing only ninety. In New South Wales, the number of persons employed in factories in the years mentioned increased by 23,000; in Victoria, by 20,000; in Queensland, by 3,000 ; in South Australia, by 5,000 ; in Tasmania, By 1,200 ; and in Western Australia by only 200. These figures are not encouraging in view of the fact that Western Australia has steadily supported Protection as a national policy. In view of that fact alone, reasonable consideration should be given to our claim, for the building of the transcontinental railway. I did not come here simply as a Western Australian. I came as an Australian, prepared to vote for bounties and for duties irrespective of the States that would benefit chiefly from them. But when we find that a State like Western Australia has so willingly participated in a policy which has benefited other States, it is surely only proper and just that the Federal Parliament should take stock of the position and give her some form of quid fro quo. I am somewhat disappointed that a more firm pronouncement has not been made concerning this great national work. I am anxious to see the two great lines constructed that will bridge over the vast spaces of our interior, and divert the activities of many’ of our people from the coastal districts to the inland areas.
– Does the honorable senator think that our coast is settled ?
– I am free to admit that it is not any tiling like settled. It would carry a far larger population. At the same time, there is a necessity for directing attention to our interior. The big cities of our coastal fringe are, in my. opinion, a bad thing. They are an agency which makes more for the deterioration of our physical stamina than anything else oi which I know.
– The honorable senator must have been reading the Argus lately.
– I have not had time to do that.
– Would it not be better to settle our coast-line before driving people into the interior?
– No doubt it would ; but I do not see anything to prevent the two policies being carried out simultaneously. As far as land taxation is concerned, members of the Labour party have talked themselves hoarse on the public platform by devoting a great deal of time to impressing upon their constituents the need for this desirable reform - a reform which has been too long delayed, and which this country has been labouring to secure for many years. Had a progressive land tax been imposed in the past, it would have prevented our unfortunate settlers from trekking out to the dry arid soils of Australia, simply because they had been denied an opportunity of settling on the more fertile areas within the coastal fringe. Yet some honorable ‘senators have the hardihood to suggest that the imposition of such a tax will constitute an intrusion upon State Rights. As a matter of fact, the position in regard to land legislation to-day is a standing monument to the stupidity of our politicians of the past. It is a standing indictment of the way in which they have shirked their duties by allowing settlement to run in directions that no country with any pretensions to sanity would allow it to run. In the State of Queensland, for which I have a warm corner in my heart, notwithstanding that it has returned Senator Stewart to this Parliament, what is the position? Settlers have been pushed out into the rainless districts beyond Dalby.
– They are crowding into the towns.
– I can point to areas west of Dalby, and on the New South Wales border, into which men are being pushed, and in which their chances of success are almost nil. A couple of bad seasons will mean the repetition of the disasters which have overtaken others in times past. In New South Wales, too, we find unfortunate settlers being pushed out into the country east of Temora, simply because the man with the broad acres is still established in the favoured regions.
– - In Tasmania the settlers have been pushed out 100 miles beyond God-help-us.
– About four months ago I saw a man in my own State, who, with his belongings, was obliged to travel into country 40 miles east of a railway. In Western Australia, too, there is a far greater area available than is available in any other State, because it was settled very much later. Yet, even there we have the large land-owner bringing about the same public injury that he has inflicted upon other States. In his speech the other day, the Leader of the Opposition emphasized his objection to the taxation of city blocks which are being used for industrial purposes. What does he want?
– To be leader of a’ Government.
– I observe from- the newspapers that quite recently a land sale was held in Melbourne, and that a block at the corner of Bourke and Swanston streets realized something like £59,000, or what was equivalent to about £650.000 per acre.
– And what is the value of the buildings upon that block?
– Not more than £5,000 at the outside. I should, like the most enlightened Fusionist to say whether any justification exists for the Government not asking the owner of that block to re-: turn a portion of its community-created value? I am sure that the late Mr. J. B.; Watson did not contribute to that value. Nor have the beneficiaries under his will done so. Of course, it may be argued that to impose a tax on land of that description would penalize the purchaser. But city lands have not yet reached their maximum value. According to McLeod, the economist, land in London is frequently sold at prices equivalent to £1,000,000 per acre.
– Would the honorable senator afford any protection to the mortgagee ?
– In most cases the mortgagee is really the owner.
– If a mortgagee has put £100,000 into land, he has a right to get his money back.
– It depends entirely upon the circumstances surrounding the execution of the mortgage.
– Suppose that themortgagee has invested his money. What then?
– The mortgagee has; sufficient champions in this Parliament tospeak for him, without my taking up the cudgels on his behalf. The latest sale inMelbourne has demonstrated that land inthis city is worth £650,000 per acreAs population becomes denser, land value.? will increase, both in the city and in the -country. If we do not demand a .proportion of the increased value which is given to land by the community, we shall not be entitled to the name of a progressive party which champions the rights and privileges of the workers of this country. I hope that when we have settled down to the practical work of discussing the schedule of reform which is set out in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, the promise of the Leader of the Opposition will be amply fulfilled.
– Where is the Leader of the Opposition?
– I do not know. If that promise be fulfilled, a new era of progress, happiness, and .prosperity, will be ushered into the Commonwealth, which, up to the present has been withheld on account of the stupidity of the politicians -of the past.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
Amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act : Conduct of Business^
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Having heard a rumour to the effect that, after this week, it is proposed that the Senate shall adjourn for a considerable time, I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether that is the intention of the Government; because there is one piece of legislation which is urgently required, and with which I think the Senate might deal very expeditiously. I refer to an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I know that such an item does not appear upon the Government programme, although their views upon it are entirely in accord with my own. There :i re two points in the Statute which need to be dealt with before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court is called upon to hear the -complaint to be made to it by the Australian Workers Union - an organization which covers the whole of the Commonwealth.. In this matter, the interests of the whole community are at stake; and, if a short piece of legislation such as I have outlined were carried by the Senate, I am satisfied that the other branch of the Legislature would rapidly dispose of it when once it was seized of its importance. It seems to me that it is inadvisable that the Senate should adjourn when there are matters with which it might effectively deal whilst the other Chamber is occupied with other work.
– Before the Vice-President of the Executive Council answers the question put by Senator Rae, I should like to be allowed to say that it is news to me, and possibly will be information for the Leader of the Opposition, that the Government contemplate another adjournment this week. It scarcely reflects credit upon the conduct of affairs by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that, notwithstanding the fact that the members of the Opposition in the Senate have during the last fortnight displayed great self-denial and restraint, wilh a view to immediately entering upon the real business of the session, he should be looking forward to a further adjournment. The announcement, coming from this hardworking Government, has given me somewhat of a shock. In making these remarks, I do not lose sight of the fact that the Government have submitted a very comprehensive programme, including very important financial, administrative, and social measures, which they are entitled to take time to fully consider before presenting them to Parliament. Admitting the importance of the measures which the Government have to submit, I hope that if the Vice-President of the Executive Council is forced to ask for a further adjournment, he will make it as brief as possible.
Senator- Findley. - Is the honorable member speaking for the Opposition?
– I thought it was evident that I am speaking for myself; I never at any time attempt to act as a substitute for, or to usurp the position of the Leader of the Opposition, who does so remarkably well for us all.
– I may state, for the information of Senator Rae, that the matter to which he has referred is in the hands of the AttorneyGeneral, and I have no doubt that it will be dealt with as expeditiously as possible. I should like to remind Senator St. Ledger, and those very eager members of the Opposition who are prepared to do such an enormous amount of work but are never here to do it, that the greater proportion of the legislation foreshadowed in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is of such a character that it must of necessity be introduced in another place. So far we have had only the Address-in-Reply and business of a formal character to deal with. There are some small Bills which we might pass, measures which have already been considered in the Senate. The previous Government, supported by the present industrious Opposition, brought them to a certain stage and then left them. They were apparently good enough to waste time with. As a member of the present Government, I have no intention of wasting time with anything. When we take a Bill in hand, I hope that we shall finish it expeditiously. In view of the fact that thirty-six members of Parliament who are not excessive talkers will not occupy as much dme in dealing with the same measures as will seventy-five very fluent and often loquacious members, it is in the interests of the country that we should adjourn for a week or two until another place overtakes us in carrying out the parliamentary business. Senator St. Ledger should remember that while we sit here occupying a considerable time in doing what we might do in a few minutes, the electric light is burning, stationery is being wasted, and the time of members of the Senate and public officers is being practically wasted when it ought to be usefully employed. When we have an adjournment, we should have one which will suit the convenience of the majority of honorable senators. A very substantial majority of the members of the Senate have interests in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania, and an adjournment for a day or for two or three days is of no use to them. I shall advise the Government, if possible, to provide for an adjournment which honorable senators will be able to make use of to visit their homes and their constituents. Although I cannot make a very definite statement to-night, I hope tomorrow afternoon to. be in a position to make a definite statement with respect to an adjournment for more than a few days. We have before us a Bill dealing with lighthouses, light-ships, beacons, and buoys, which has already been considered in the Senate under the late Government.
– With some opposition.
– It does not matter. I gave notice of two other Bills to-day and my honorable colleague gave notice of a third. They are very short Bills, and if honorable senators are anxious to work,as I have been invited to believe, I hope we shall have finished with them on Friday, and we shall then be able to adjourn for two or three weeks at least. That is the position at present, and I need only add thatwe shall find work for the industrious senators opposite as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 8.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 July 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19100713_SENATE_4_55/>.