4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
SUPPLY BILL (No. 2). Assent reported.
– Pursuant to standing order 31, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senators McColl, Givens, and
– Pursuant to standing order 38, I lay on the table my warrant appointing the following senators to be the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications: - Senators Chataway, de Largie, Henderson, Long, Stewart, Sir J. H. Symon, and Walker.
Senator McGREGOR laid upon the table the following paper: -
Minutes of Proceedings of the Imperial Conference 1911.
– Yesterday, sir, - in this chamber a motion of congratulation to His Majesty on bis coronation was moved and seconded, and I should like to ask you whether it was formally carried. There is no reference to the matter in either of the daily newspapers. Both newspapers’ report such a motion as having been carried by the House of Representatives, making it appear that the Senate had abstained from passing a vote of congratulation.
– The motion, as moved by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and seconded- by Senator Millen, was carried, and will appear in the
Journals of the Senate. We have no control over the newspapers, and if they choose to’ suppress any matter they are at liberty to do so.
– Why should we carry their misleading statements through the post for little or nothing? ‘
– I beg to lay on the table the following paper: -
Notes on the Practice and Procedure of the Senate in relation to Appropriation, Taxation, and other Money Bills; together with Standing Orders and Presidents’ Rulings relating thereto; also” a Summary of Cases referred to (1901-1910), bv Charles Broughton Boydell, Clerk of the Senate.
– May I ask you, sir, whether the document will be printed or referred to the Printing Committee, with a view to that question being considered? If seems to me, from its title, that it would be a book of great use to honorable senators.
– All papers which are laid on the table go to the Printing Committee unless ordered by the Senate to be printed.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
I submit the motton, not out of any disrespect to the Printing Committee, but because some time may elapse before they can meet, and I think that useful information of this kind should be circulated as soon as possible.
– si second the motion. Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Have any steps been taken to establish communication by wireless telegraphy between King Island and the mainland?
– The answers to the honorable senators’s questions are -
– Arising out of the answer, I wish to ask the Minister whether the Department is aware that a wireless’ telegraphic station has been established on King Island? I believe that this is the day on which it is to commence operations.
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Is it the intention of the Government to provide members of this Parliament with a copy of the proceedings of the last Imperial Conference?
– I have just laid on the table a copy of the report of the Imperial Conference. A limited number of copies is already to hand, and these will be supplied to the Leader of the Opposition and to the various rooms in. Parliament House. Five hundred copies will arrive by the end of this month, and as early as possible honorable senators will be supplied.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
If he will table a copy of the poster, alleged in the newspapers to be a girl surrounded by wattle blossoms, which was or is to bc used for advertising Australia in the United Kingdom?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the days of meeting of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be three o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday, and half-past two o’clock in the afternoon of Thursday, and half-past ten o’clock in the forenoon of Friday.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That during the present session, unless other- . wise ordered, at four o’clock p.m. on Fridays the President shall put the question, That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour the Chairman shall in like manner put the- question, That he do leave the Chair .and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question, That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate.
Provided that if the Senate, or the Committee, be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result of such division has been declared ; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the business-paper for the next sitting day.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the whole Senate, on sitting days other than Fridays be suspended from 6.30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Fridays from1 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday after 8 p.m. ; and that, unless otherwise ordered, private Orders of the Day take precedence of private Notices of Motion on alternate Thursdays.
The following Sessional Committees were appointed (on motion by Senator Find- ley) : -
The President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Clemons, Guthrie, McGregor, Millen, Needham, E. J. Russell, and St. Ledger, with power to act during recess, and to confer with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Gould, Long, McColl, McDougall, Sayers, and Story, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Senators Barker, Lt.-Colonel Cameron, Chata- way, Henderson, Rae, Vardon, and W. Russell, with power to confer or sit as a joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That a message be sent to the House of Representatives requesting the House of Representa tives to resume the consideration of a Bill intituled A Bill for an Act relating to Lighthouses, Lightships, Beacons, and Buoys, which was transmitted to the House of Representatives for its concurrence during last session of the Parliament, the proceedings on such Bill having been interrupted by the prorogation of the Parliament.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That a message be sent to the House of Representatives requesting the House of Representatives to resume the consideration of a Bill intituled A Bill for an Act relating to Parliamentary Witnesses, which was transmitted to the House of Representatives for its concurrence during the last session of the Parliament, the proceedings on such Bill having been interrupted by the prorogation of the Parliament.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the consideration of the Navigation Bill, which lapsed by reason of the prorogation, be resumed at the stage it had reached during last session.
Motion (by Senator Chataway) agreed to -
That a return be tabled showing in regard to wireless telegraphy -
Debate resumed from 5th September (vide page 25), on motion by Senator W.
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech be agreed to.
To His Excellency the Governor-General :
Mayit 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.
– On looking through the Speech addressed to Parliament by His Excellency the Governor-General yesterday, I am forced to the conclusion - which I think would be arrived at by less experienced parliamentarians than those sitting on both sides of this Chamber - that the length of the document is in inverse ratio to the substance contained in it. It appears to touch upon almost every subject under the political sun ; but, nevertheless, there is only one matter to which the Government has definitely committed itself. We have the assurance that the Government is carefully considering this matter; that it is deeply pondering the other; but there is only one project upon which Ministers speak with any definiteness, and that is our old friend the Navigation Bill. We have at length the comforting assurance that that measure is to be passed into law before the close of the present session ; but with regard to everything else, it appears to me that the Government have left it optional either to go on with any Bill that is foreshadowed, or to drop it as they please. Before I proceed to discuss what we may consider to be the proposals foreshadowed in the Speech, there are one or two other matters outside the document itself to which I desire to direct attention. In doing so, may I make just one reference to the speech delivered by Senator W. Russell yesterday afternoon. The honorable senator is always more or less interesting in the speeches which he delivers here; but I want, if he will allow me, to make a suggestion to him I hope that, being my senior, he will not regard it as a species of impertinence on my part if I suggest that his speeches would be likely to make a more lasting impression upon the Senate if he would, at some time or other, deliver one which was free from the personal feeling that characterized his remarks concerning a colleague from his own State.
– Most unfair.
– I am making that as a suggestion to my honorable friend.
– Tt would not be a bad thing if the honorable senator acted up to his own advice.
– I am not aware that I have ever criticised in similar terms a colleague from my own State.
– Why not suggest to the honorable senator’s colleagues to be less personal in their references in the press to members of the Labour party?
– If my honorable friends opposite like to attack any one, let them do so, but T am merely suggesting that occasionally - not every time, of course - we might be afforded an opportunity of listening to a speech from SenatorW. Russell which should be free from what I regard as a blemish upon his utterances.
– I was defending an attacked man who was absent.
– Of course, I know what my honorable friend’s position is. He and his friends are the only persons who have the right to attack their opponents whilst they appear to arrogate to themselves the exalted privilege of being free from attack in return. Passing from that, I desire to offer my congratulations to the Prime Minister of this country upon the distinguished honour which has been conferred upon him. and the title which he has accepted. It was an honour of which any man might reasonably be proud, to be called into the inner circles of counsel of the monarch of a great empire like the British Empire. The honour which has been conferred upon the Prime Minister has been marred only by one thing, and that is by the efforts made to apologize for his acceptance of it. Sir, it required no apology. The acceptance of this honour by Mr. Fisher was, I repeat, marred by that one fact, that it was considered necessary to put forward a kind of excuse in the form of a pretence that the title was accepted only because it was thrust upon him. I also offer my congratulations to the Government in another connexion. I do not know whether the statement be correct or not - if it be incorrect, the Vice-President of the Executive Council will, of course, put me right - but I understand that the Government has treated its delegates to the Imperial Conference with a greater degree of liberality than has ever been shown by any Government before. I wish it to be distinctly understood that, in my opinion, the Government have acted rightly. I am not finding fault with them in the slightest degree. Hitherto, it seems to me, Governments have paid too much attention to a kind of criticism that has been made outside - and a great deal of that criticism, it must be remarked, has come from the Labour party - with the consequence that we have seen delegates sent to Great Britain provided for with a distinctly parsimonious hand. But, having expressed the opinion that the Government have done rightly ‘in this matter, I proceed to point out - as I am fairly entitled to do - that it is a little curious that the party which! has always preached Spartan simplicity is the first one to send Home a Labour Premier who has deemed it necessary to have a personal attendant, and which has provided for Ministers who were sent Home with the Prime Minister more liberally than any previous Government had done. I merely point this out in order to express the hope that, in future, my honorable friends opposite will not be so captious in their criticism in regard to similar expenditure which may be authorized by other Governments. Hitherto, I say again, the allowances made to representatives on such occasions has been parsimonious.. A Labour Government have been the first to set a new example. I do not find fault with them.
– We always believe in good wages.
– Well, I think that if I turned up the records I could find that there was on previous occasions rather sharp denunciation from honorable senators opposite on account of expenditure on what has been termed “ picnics “ of tnis kind. I take quite a different view. I say that if we send Home representatives to participate in conferences such as that recently held we should see that they are reasonably provided for, and not compel them to draw upon their personal means, or prevent them, through insufficiency of provision, from upholding the dignity of their position. Having said that, however, let me express my sincere regret that a Government which so liberally handled the public funds to provide for the expenses of its own members, did not view with the same liberality a proposal which was made to send Home a contingent of our troops to take part in the Coronation ceremonies. The reason cannot have been insufficiency of funds. Otherwise I assume that a Ministry which is supposed to be representative of severe economy and simplicity would not have sent a Prime ‘Minister with a large retinue, provided for more liberally than any previous Ministers had been. It must have been rather humiliating to Australians who were in London to see that the Australian Prime Minister was escorted by Canadian troops. There can be no questioning the fact that a contingent of our troops would - I unhesitatingly say this - have compared more than favorably with troops from any other portion of the Empire. There could have been no better advertisement for Australia than would have been provided by sending a small and select body of Austra lian soldiers. I further point out that the Government cannot for a moment pretend that they are not anxious that Australia should be advertised, because the whole tenor ot recent speeches made by Ministers has tended to advertise Australia, and to bring before the minds of those 111 the Mother Country who may be anxious to emigrate the great advantages that Australia offers to them. There must have been some reason why it was thought on this occasion inadvisable to send troops to London. It cannot, as I say, have, been that there were no funds available.
– This is the first Government that sent Home its political opponents at Government expense.
– At Government expense ?
– At the public expense.
– It is quite in keeping with the view which my honorable friends, opposite; take of things that they should speak of “ Government expense “ in this connexion. I am saying that it is a marvellous thing that this Government,, which could draw upon the public funds so liberally when providing for the expenses of its members, and for members of the Federal Parliament, should have become economical, even parsimonious, when it was a question of sending Home a small body of Australian troops.
– It was not a matter of the expense at all.
– What was it then? I am trying to find out.
– It was not that, any way.
– Evidently not. That is the whole point of my argument. I am pointing out that a Government which could double the allowance to Ministers, and which could send Home a Prime Minister with a retinue rivalling that of an Eastern potentate, was still unable to provide a few pounds for the sending Home of troops on an occasion when troops from all parts of the Empire were represented. If it was not a question of money, what was it? Here is a Prime Minister who is supposed to have been brought up and to be living in Spartan simplicity, and he is the first representative of this country to go Home provided with a valet. I should like to know the reason. Turning now to the Conference itself, I desire to say that there has been jio more important gathering of the representatives of the Empire than that which recently concluded its labours in London. It was important first, in my judgment, because of the increasing gravity of the international outlook. Whether it be well founded or not there is unquestionably a growing belief in the minds of most people that many years will not pass over our heads before a great trial of strength will be witnessed. That being so, it appears to me of increasing importance that the various portions of the Empire should have these conferences for the interchange of ideas, the understanding of one another better, and, it may possibly be, learning more of the point of view of different sections of the Empire, with a view to united action when the hour of trial comes. There is, in addition, another matter which marks this Conference as distinct from any of its predecessors, and that is, that, for the first time in our history, the representatives of the outlying Dominions have been admitted into the very inner councils of the Empire. That is the statement which has been made by our representatives, and we have a right to accept their assurance.
– The Imperial authorities could not trust the other people, but they could trust the Labour people.
– Senator McGregor would not be himself if he did not joke even upon an important matter of this kind. I say that this matter not only marks a distinct advance towards the time when there will be closer unity of action between the Motherland and the outlying Dominions, but something else of greater importance. I believe that the admission of the representatives of the outlying Dominions to the inner councils of the Motherland means something more than merely the imparting of information. I consider that it throws an added responsibility upon those who have been admitted to the Conference. It is idle to assume that those, who have been made participators in that information, and intrusted with that confidence, can have done otherwise than come away impressed, I hope deeply impressed, with the fact that upon them there is now an obligation to consider, not merely the requirements of Australia, but also the obligations and requirements of the Motherland. They cannot share in this confidence without also to some extent being held responsible in the way I have indicated. There is this further reason why that responsibility should be theirs. Rightly or wrongly I take this view as to the future: Hitherto wars in which Great Britain has been involved, have been wars in which the interests of Great Britain were principally involved. The next war, in my view, is going to threaten the British Empire. Hitherto Australia has lent some very useful assistance to Great Britain in wars in which she has been engaged. Tn the next war Australia will not merely be assisting Great Britain, but as a part of the Empire, will be fighting for her very national existence. Therefore, I regard this disclosure of Imperial policy to representatives of the outlying Dominions as another step towards the time when we shall have established more frequent communication between the different portions of the Empire, with a view to joint action in such a time of stress as that to which I have referred. I have not the slightest doubt that, as time goes on, some means will be devised by which common counsel can be taken, with a view to that united action. Passing from that to the next paragraph of the Governor-General’s Speech, I see a somewhat audacious reference made to the Naval Agreement. One would have thought that the Government, as a result of the Conference, had drafted some entirely new Naval Agreement. As a matter of fact, the position is practically the same now as that which existed after the agreement arrived at by the Conference to which the previous Government sent Colonel Foxton as their representative. The statement is made that -
The Naval Agreement arrived at after Conference between Commonwealth representatives and the Admiralty is extremely satisfactory, embodying the policy formulated by the Government, and approved by the people of the Commonwealth.
It is perfectly true that it is the policy formulated by the Government, but not by the present Government.
– The policy of the last Government was a Dreadnought policy.
– The policy of the present Government was limited to the use of small coastal boats. That was the original policy of the Labour party. The larger scheme which is now being carried out is unquestionably the scheme formulated at the Conference at which Colonel Foxton represented Australia. These are simple facts beyond serious ‘controversy. I therefore say it is a little audacious of the Government to frame this paragraph in such a way as to make it appear that they are making some entirely new agreement, and turning over a fresh page in Australian naval history. Another paragraph that strikes me as curious is this -
The renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty for a further period of len years is an additional guarantee of the world’s peace.
– What policy did Colonel Foxton go Home with?
– Colonel Foxton, I hope, was not stupid enough to consider that he went Home with any fixed policy. I know that his colleagues were not stupid enough to send a man to a Conference with a definite policy for the purpose of conferring afterwards. The idea of the Conference was to enable us to see how far we could give effect to national ideals while at the same time working in with the plans of the British Admiralty.
– It was a Dreadnought policy.
– To have defined a policy first would have been to render the Conference useless.
– Surely Colonel . Foxton could have suggested a policy.
– That is so, and the agreement practically embodies it.
– There is nothing about presenting a Dreadnought in the new policy.
– Yes, there is the Indomitable. The provision of a Dreadnought was never in the present Government’s policy. The policy they put forward was unquestionably one of small coastal boats, the chief advantage of which appeared to me at the time to be simply that they were to be built in Australia. The policy of the party to which I belong was unquestionably one of ocean-going boats, and I leave honorable senators to say which of these policies is being carried out to-day.
– The last Government’s ocean-going boats were to be sent straight away to Great Britain.
– No, they were not. My honorable friends need not think for a moment that they will turn me away from the interesting paragraph dealing with the Japanese Treaty. I might, perhaps, repeat it with advantage in order that honotable senators “might be impressed, not so much with what it contains, but with what it omits to say. If there is anything at all in the traditions of Parliament one would think that it is rather the business of a Government to tell Parliament something as to what they have done in the name of the people whom they represent, but there is not a single word here as to whether this agreement was, or was not, approved by the Australian delegates. The press has informed us that that approval was given, but there is not a word of it here.
– Inferentially, there is.
– There is not a word here at all as to whether it was approved or not. There is simply the bald statement which we knew all along that this agreement has been extended for ten years. It does appear that Mr. Fisher, moving about in the Old Country, amidst the environment there, did, as the newspapers informed us, express his approval of it, but when he conies out here, somehow or other, he appears to display a little timidity, probably because some of the more militant members of the party, fearful of the view which might be held by certain voters, have restrained the honorable gentleman, and so we find not a single word in this document to tell this Parliament whether or not our principal representative has approved, in the name of Australia, o£ the renewal of that Treaty”. Surely we were entitled to that information. We were entitled to know how far our statesmen committed Australia in this important matter.
– The fact that the matter is included in the Governor-General’s Speech shows that the Government approve of it.
– There is something in the Speech that they do not approve of, and that is the result of the referenda. They do not approve of that.
– And they say so.
– They say that they regret it. Why could they not have said that they approved of the other matter?
– Does the .honorable senator wish us to say that we do not approve of the other?
– I wish the Government to say what they have done in the name of Australia. I venture to say that none but a Labour Government would have had the audacity to commit Australia in an important matter of this kind without at the earliest opportunity telling Parliament what they had done. Are we to understand that because they are a Labour Government, they consider they are under no obligation to do so. It was their duty to tell Australia what they have done, but we have not heard a single word as to whether they were consulted, or whether they expressed approval or disapproval. I can only put their action down to a fear which is almost groundless - the fear that if they approved their action might be misunderstood. I sincerely hope that they approved. But for that renewal the position of Australia would indeed be perilous.
– The paragraph would not be in the Governor-General’s Speech if they did not approve of the renewal of the Treaty.
– I am certain that whether this Government fails by omission or commission, it will not make the slightest difference to its supporters. I venture to say that if a Liberal Government had been on the Treasury benches, the moment it failed to make a statement as to what it had done in the name of Australia, my honorable friends on the other side would have been scarcely able to contain themselves. Let me pass on to one or two minor matters before I draw attention at a little greater length to the referenda. The first is a reference to the Australian Notes. Act. The Speech assures us that it is intended to bring in a Bill to extend the usefulness of the Act. That, of course, is a euphemistic way of saying that already, although the Act is not twelve months old, it is the intention of the Government to commence to undermine it. The objection of the Opposition was not to the mere issue of Government notes, but to the fear that, little by little, the safety of the notes would be tampered with, that, little by little, the Government would commence to destroy its reserve, until, perhaps in a time of financial stress or shortage, they would go beyond the safety line in their desire to utilize that which ought to be held in reserve.
– Was that the only objection ?
– That was the principal objection.
– Not according to the speeches of the honorable senator and his side last session.
– The. principal objection which animated those who objected to the issue of Government notes was the belief that the integrity of Government paper, in order to meet the requirements of the Treasury, was always liable to be violated. No one can cite an instance where a nation has gone in one step from a sound paper currency to an unsound paper currency. It has always been done little by little. This is the first step on a downward path. I do not believe that we shall find, when the Bill is introduced, any very drastic alteration proposed. But we shall find that, in less than twelve months, the Government are commencing to whittle away the reserve for which they took so much credit twelve months ago.
– The Governor-General’s Speech does not say that.
– Of course it does not. Does the honorable senator think for one moment that it is intended to stiffen the reserve ?
– Very likely.
– I think not. There can be only one way in which the Government can propose an amendment, and that is to cut down the margin of reserve. Reference is also made in the Speech to the invitation for designs for the Federal Capital. I ask the Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the protest from a society which, I believe, represents the architects of Great Britain, as to the composition of the Board to adjudicate upon the designs. If I understand the position disclosed by correspondence in the press, the architects of Great Britain - and, presumably, those on the Continent and in America as well - will decline to submit designs unless they are assured that the tribunal to adjudicate will be fully competent, and a request has been made that the Board should be nominated now, so that men who stand high in the profession may know that their designs will be submitted to persons fully qualified to judge. That request has, I believe, been made to the Government, and I do urge - it is not too late yet - that it should receive their most serious consideration. However we may differ as to where the Federal Capital ought to be, there can be no possible room for division on that point. We want the best brains of the most skilled architects of the world to give us their assistance in laying, out a Capital of which we can all be justly proud.
– What about the big block in Sydney which was to be bought for the Commonwealth?
– I shall have a word or two to say about that directly.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the present Board is a capable one?
– I do not know that a Board has been appointed.
– Is not that one of the usual sneers against any Australian body by the Home authorities?
– I say at once, without any disrespect to Australians, that if it is really intended to appoint three officials as a Board, then, in my judgment, it will not be satisfactory. I do not suggest that you cannot find in Australia men competent for the work, but it is assuming a little too much to suppose that in Australia you have men whose experience is as wide as that which can be claimed by architects in a larger way of business in the older countries of the world. However, I am not urging a particular constitution of the Board ; I am merely drawing the attention of the Minister to what appears to be a very reasonable request, namely, that such a Board will be appointed as will guarantee to architects throughout the world that their designs will be considered by a thoroughly competent tribunal. I pass from that to a matter which, perhaps, will excite the interest of Senator E. J. Russell even a little more.
– No, I was only thinking that the honorable senator was not quite so ready to accept expert advice when we were selecting a site for the Federal Capital”.
– I did. The one thing which prevailed with me was expert advice, but the advice which came from the other side was not presented in a sufficiently expert way to alter my views. I desire to say a few words about the Tariff. I am sure that it is extremely comforting to Protectionists like the honorable senators who have been born and bred and “nurtured on a Tariff to have this pathetic picture presented to them through the medium of this Speech - this picture of the Government with heads wrapped in towels consuming gallons of midnight oil seriously considering and carefully watching the Tariff. I want to know what terms my honorable friend would have employed if he had received the same assurance from any other Government?
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that they were drinking kerosene?
– From the tremendous amount of mental stress which they are undergoing in their efforts to watch the Tariff, I think we can assume that they will drink almost anything.
– I think that when Victoria wants a Tariff we shall hardly look to the honorable senator for sympathy or support, because we have never had it in the past.
– It seems to me that, so far as this session is concerned, the honorable senator will get as much Tariff from this side as from his own. Here isthe point I want to emphasize : That the previous Government made a proposal which, I believe, sooner or later, this country will adopt, and that was the appointment of a non-political body - call it what you like, Inter-State Commission or Board of Trade - which would have had delegated to it the duty of continually watching the operations of the Tariff, and free from all party bias or feeling would make periodic reports to Parliament as to how the Tariff was operating.
– The Fusion Government proposed to make that body more powerful than Parliament.
– We did nothing of the kind. The sole duty of that Board, as proposed by the Deakin Government, was to report to Parliament as to the operation of the Tariff.
– And on industrial matters.
– That was another function of the Board. I am not dealing with that matter, but with the Tariff itself. Sooner or later, in my opinion, Australia will come to adopt that idea, whether in that exact form or not I do not know. Assuming that it is committed to the Protectionist principle, we certainly require some non-political body. The best course is to establish a non-political body, whose mission it will be to watch the operations of the Tariff, and free from’ any party colouring to report to Parliament how it is working, leaving it to Parliament to make such alterations as it may see fit. I desire to know from the Minister whether there is any authority for the threat which Mr. Hughes has uttered as to the repeal of the sugar duties. It seems to me that this Government can hardly be still considering the effect of the Tariff on industries when one member, certainly by no means the tail of the Government, can be uttering these threats in the press regarding the sugar duties. If it is the intention of the Government to disturb these duties, surely Parliament should be the first to have that intimation ? It ought not to be given .by any Minister through the columns of the press. One of the things which we have always safeguarded more carefully than anything else is the intention of the Government towards the Tariff. I say nothing at all as to the purpose for which the threat was made, though, to my mind, it was a most indecent thing to do. Here we had a member of the Government declaring in the press that so far as he was concerned he was out for the repeal of the sugar duties.
– Unless the men got a square deal.
– It was a threat then? Was that the condition?
– I hope so.
– That makes the matter, to my mind, a little worse.
– I think that the people of Australia regret that, the threat is not a fact at the present moment.
– I ask now if it is the intention of the Government to do what has been threatened by Mr. Hughes?
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company backed down.
– I want to know if that is the Ministerial intention, or the idle utterance of Mr. Hughes.
– Does the honorable senator justify, the conditions under which the men are employed ?
– I have nothing to do with that. All I am dealing with now is this one question that Parliament is the body to declare whether these duties shall be continued. Are we to understand that it is part of the Ministerial policy to repeal the duties unless certain things happen ?
– The Senate is responsible to the men.
– If it is desirable, or is intended for any reason, to repeal the sugar duties, the Ministry ought to make a collective announcement on the subject. If that is their intention, Parliament is the place in which to make an announcement, and not the columns of the press. What would be said of a Minister who went round the country, and suddenly declared that he was going to put a duty on some article? That would be tantamount to defrauding the revenue.
– The honorable senator would send a wire to New South Wales in order to put them on the go.
– No; there would be no need for me to wire, because an announcement of that kind would be wired at the expense of other persons. I now come to the declaration by Mr. O’ Malley of his intention to resume the heart of Sydney and several big blocks throughout Australia. I want to know whether this is the mere idle vapouring of an irresponsible Minister, or whether it represents the determination of the Ministry. Is it their intention to resume big blocks of land in the various cities?
– That idea is twenty years old.
– Yes; and it is revived, and we have Mr. O’Malley’s assurance - with which he seems to be hugely pleased - that he is going to resume big blocks in other cities.
– It is a good business proposition.
– Who is to determine that, Mr. O’Malley or Parliament?
– He did not say that he was going to do it; he said that he would bring the matter under the consideration of the Cabinet.
– I want to know whether that course has been taken, and whether the Government are going on with the proposition. I understand that a big resumption has just been effected, or is in progress, in Western Australia, and I have no reason to believe that it is undesirable, but it seems to me that there should be a limit to the power of the Government to acquire properties without apparently any reference to Parliament.
– There has been a resumption in Hobart.
– Is the honorable senator justifying a system under which the Government can go and buy land in any quantity without submitting the proposition to Parliament until it is too late to say whether it is justified or not? Even the Caucus was not consulted, I assume, by Mr. O’Malley. Let me show the seriousness of the point I am bringing before the Senate.
– Is the honorable senator speaking for his Caucus?
– I am speaking of a matter that affects every honorable senator on whatever side he sits. Are honorable senators prepared to approve of a system under which a departmental head - which we have the assurance too frequently means the permanent official - is to be at liberty to purchase big blocks throughout this country without the proposal first being submitted to Parliament? If honorable senators tell me that they believe such power should be intrusted to the heads of Departments, I recognise that I may as well cease talking on the subject. But I do not believe, that inwardly they hold that opinion. I believe they are just as keen as I am to insure that Parliament shall first be consulted.
– The honorable senator cannot repose too much confidence in the present Government.
– Does my honorable friend expect them to retain office for ever?
– For a very long while.
– I shall presently give my honorable friend some figures which suggest how rapidly majorities may be converted into minorities, but Senator de Largie’s jocular remark does not for a moment cloud the seriousness of the proposition which I am stating. If the Government are at liberty to purchase £20,000 or £30,000 worth of land in Perth, there is nothing to prevent them purchasing ,£50,000 worth of property elsewhere. Now, if there is one thing more than another about which all Parliaments and parties have hitherto been exceedingly careful., it has been to see that in transactions of the kind I have indicated the fullest opportunity for publicity and parliamentary discussion was afforded.
– That is why previous Governments have had to pay so much foi properties which they have purchased.
– In their own interests I do suggest to Ministers that whenever such transactions are contemplated they should not run the risk of carrying them through behind closed doors.
– Does the honorable senator know that quite recently the Minister of Home Affairs was offered a very handsome profit upon a purchase which he made in Hobart?
– That may be so. But because of that fact, would the honorable senator give him a roving commission, to become a property speculator throughout Australia?
– He is a smart business man.
– In regard to the interjection made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, there is no force in his contention for the reason that all negotiations for the purchase of property by the Government can be carried through, and an agreement made conditional upon the- approval of Parliament. That is the proper way to conduct such negotiations.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council did not go so far as the honorable senator suggests.
– That is what I understood him to say, and I know that it is an argument which is frequently used, and which would have some force, except that there is a way out of the difficulty which I have suggested. All these agreements can be made - as was the agreement for the purchase of a site for the Commonwealth in London, which was afterwards turned down- conditional upon the approval of Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator know of any Government in Australia which is purchasing land for closer settlement purposes under the system which he suggests?
– Yes. That “is the system which is always employed in New South Wales. There, a proposal is made to the owner of any particular property - I am speaking of voluntary resumptions - and an agreement is arrived at which is afterwards submitted to Parliament. I believe that the same procedure is adopted in regard to compulsory resumptions. At any rate, it is well that the Government should always free themselves from suspicion. If it be intended to carry out the spread-eagle proposition which has been outlined by the Minister of Home Affairs, I do seriously suggest that the Government should take some such step as I have indicated. I wish now to make a passing reference to the question of finance. Honorable senators will recollect that when twelve months ago that marvellous Budget was presented by the Treasurer in which the revenue and expenditure were made to balance to a penny - it was the first Budget to my knowledge that ever did so balance - it was pointed out by members of the Opposition that the Estimates had obviously been framed with a view to bringing about that result. That criticism has been amply justified. As was pointed out at the time, our revenue is now very much larger than the amount which was forecasted. But large as it is, we have still to recognise the fact which was emphasized by Senator Buzacott yesterday, that very shortly we shall be brought face to face with the problem of borrowing. We cannot hope to construct the railway to Western Australia, still .less to carry on an energetic policy of development in the Northern Territory - and I trust that we are not going to play with that Territory - without incurring an expenditure which may amount to anything from ,£10,000,000 to £20,000,000. Holding that view, I was very pleased to hear Senator Buzacott say that, while he was opposed to borrowing generally, he believed in borrowing for certain purposes.
– We are not all of the same opinion.
– I know that, on a former occasion, Senator Rae, with his usual impetuous frankness, did disclose the Source from which he would derive all the revenue that we may require.
– I would tax the rich.
– With the recklessness that characterizes him, the honorable senator always says what is in his mind. He has told us plainly, by his interjection, that if he had his way he would get all the revenue that we require for these undertakings by taxing the wealth of the country. In my judgment, he has not studied this question as deeply as has Senator, Buzacott. The latter showed clearly that there is a limit beyond which you cannot safely go, even in your vendetta against wealth.
– I quite admit that. But we have not reached that limit yet.
– I do not agree with my honorable friend. From the few sensible remarks which were made by Senator Buzacott, it is plain that all the preelection promises of members of the Labour party in reference to non-borrowing will have to be modified very much when we get face to face with the realities of our position. I come now to the referenda - a subject which, according to the Vice-Regal Speech, has filled the Government-
– The honorable senator is a very courageous man to refer to that subject.
– I do not think that I need any courage to refer to it, seeing that I have the support of so many citizens of Australia.
– The honorable senator cannot now find the people who are prepared to own that they voted against the Government proposals.
– I do not know in what circles the honorable senator has been moving, but I do know that wherever I go I feel so satisfied with the decision of the electors that I understand the reason why such very different terms are employed in the Governor-General’s opening Speech from those which were used by the Attor ney-General, Mr. Hughes, immediately after polling day. Then we were assured that all the questions which were embodied in the referenda were to be re-submitted to the people. We had the valiant assurance that whether the electors liked them or not the Government intended to push them through.
– I suppose the honorable senator has not a balance-sheet about him ?
– My honorable friend need not remind me of the efforts of himself and the Attorney-General to make the referenda campaign a class fight - to appeal to the passions rather than to the intelligence of the people. But the electors practically said, in reply, “ We do not believe you.” That was the answer which they gave. They clearly understood that an effort was being made to divert their attention from the merits of the Government proposals, and by a majority of 21 per cent., they turned those proposals down.
– If it had been made a class vote, the honorable senator’s party would not have been in, it.
– My honorable friends opposite attempted to make it a class vote. Their efforts in that direction were so palpable that the people resented them, and by an overwhelming majority rejected the Government proposals. In referring to this matter, I wish to draw attention to the marked change which has come over the extremely aggressive attitude which the supporters of those proposals exhibited when they were first introduced to our notice. When it was urged that the questions embodied in the referenda should be submitted to the people separately, the suggestion was scornfully rejected by both branches of the Legislature. A little later, we had the marvellous statement from the Prime Minister that if the people did not accept them they would get something worse.
– They are getting it now.
– The people unquestionably do not think so. I can mention even some newspapers which are devoted to the Labour cause which express grave doubts as to the wisdom of the Government proposals. Prior to the polling their loyalty induced them to remain quiet. But they are not quiet to-day.
– To what newspapers does the honorable senator, refer?
– I have in my mind a Broken Hill newspaper.
– That is not a Labour newspaper.
– Of course it is not if it does not suit my honorable friend. But they are all Labour newspapers in Broken Hill.
– The Sydney Daily Telegraph is another Labour newspaper, I suppose?
– There are no newspapers in this country which the Labour party ought to speak less unkindly about than the Sydney Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald. So far as their leading articles are concerned, they undoubtedly support the party to which I belong, but on all other matters they treat the Labour party with greater generosity than they deserve. But I wish to draw attention to the following paragraph in the Vice-Regal Speech, and to invite honorable senators to compare it with the language which was employed immediately after the result of the referenda was made known : -
My Advisers regret the result of the Referenda vote in April last. They are very strongly of the opinion that the ever-increasing exactions of the Trusts make an extension of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth imperative.
Is that all they have to say ? Immediately the result of the polling was made known, we had a valiant declaration that the Government intended to bring these questions forward at another referendum.
– The honorable senator does not expect a similar declaration to be made every month?
– I do not want such a declaration every month. But if it were competent for Ministers to make that declaration on the 28th April last, surely they are in a position to tell the Senate what they propose to do with these questions? I desire to draw particular attention to the peculiar wording cf the paragraph which I have quoted. It will be recollected that the referenda dealt with something more than mere trusts. It dealt with industrial legislation. Yet there is not a word about industrial legislation in the Vice-Regal Speech. But Ministers- are very strongly of the opinion that the everincreasing exactions of the Trusts make an extension of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth imperative.
– Did the honorable senator say that the Speech contains no reference to industrial legislation?”
– I am dealing with the constitutional amendments. The referenda dealt mainly with two things, industrial matters and trusts. Now we are merely told that the Government are convinced that the enlargement of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth to enable it to effectively deal with trusts is imperative. It was not said after the referenda campaign that the Government intended to drop the proposed alterations of the Constitution dealing with industrial matters. But now we are told that all they have time for is the extension of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth in regard to trusts. Are we to assume, then, that they have determined to drop their proposals with regard to industrial matters ?
– Apparently, the honorable senator is afraid that he will not get a chance to reverse his vote.
– My honorable friend has always been- jocular, but upon this occasion, I ask him to be serious. I do not know that I could wish him other than he is. But if he thinks that he is going to laugh out of court the proposition that I am now submitting, he is making a very great mistake. Is it intended to drop or to refrain from renewing the proposition to alter the Constitution with regard to constitutional powers?
– It is proposed to drop nothing, except a bombshell in the camp of the Opposition.
– My honorable friend did that on the 26th April, and he must have been astonished to find that the anarchistic weapon, as is so often the case, blew him up with his own explosives. The statement has been made here by Senator McDougall that the result was due to the smallness of the vote. It is just as well to clear up this position, and to see whether there is any reason for that excuse. Let me tell Senator McDougall this. If the vote at the referendum had been as large as the vote on the 13th April of the previous year, the Government must still have been defeated. The actual figures were as follow : - In connexion with the Financial Agreement, about .1,300,000 electors- went to the poll. At the referendum on the proposed amendment of the Constitution, 1,156,000 went to the poll. That is to say, 148,000 fewer voters went to the poll as compared with the previous occasion. Now, if those 148,000 electors who abstained from voting had gone to the poll, and had all voted “ Yes “ to these proposals of the Government, they would still have been defeated. What is the good of pretending, therefore, that the smallness of the vote was responsible for the defeat of the policy of the Government? It requires no better illustration of the emptiness of that pretence than the fact that if every man and woman who voted on the 13th April of the previous year had voted at the last referendum, and if the whole of those who abstained from voting at the referendum had voted for the Government .proposals, they would nevertheless have been knocked out.
– How many reversed their votes?
– That is quite a different matter. We are now talking about the smallness of the vote. « The honorable senator is like a jack-in-the-box. When he is refuted on one point he jumps to another.
– I made no reference to the smallness of the vote.
– It was not the smallness of the vote, but the shortness of the money that was responsible for the result.
– Here again we have one of those unsupported statements which are quite easily made, but are absolutely incorrect. If it be true that it was not the smallness of the vote that was responsible for the defeat of the Government policy, all that I have to say is that Mr. Hughes said it was. and that Senator McDougall repeated that statement this afternoon.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake. I never said anything of the Sort.
– Then I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. Some one sitting near him said it.
– Why did not the honorable senator say it?
– Apparently, in the opinion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, it does not matter what a member of his party says or abstains from saying. At any rate, the statement was made by Mr. Hughes. In the month of April, while still smarting under the bitterness of defeat, he had no hesitation in saying that the result was due to the smallness of the vote.
– And the £100.000 spent in New South Wales.
– What proof did Mr. Hughes offer of the expenditure of £100,000?
– He can prove it.
– I venture to say that if Mr. Hughes could adduce any proof of such a thing he would not have wasted his time in shrieking about it, but would have supported his statement by facts.
– Let the honorable senator challenge him, and he will prove it.
– He would not wait to be challenged if he could prove it.
– He named some of the men in the columns of the press.
– Some of those who had the handling of the alleged £100,000?
– Who were trustees for the money.
– Will he vouch for the sum of money handled? If he means to say that the party to which I belong collects funds for campaign purposes, I simply say, “ Of course it does.” So does the party of honorable senators opposite. But we do not levy upon the salaries of members of Parliament. We do not compel them to put their hands in their pockets for campaign purposes. Every contribution received by our party is a voluntary one.
– Paid by the trusts.
– Will the honorable senator say that again?
– The honorable senator’s party is paid by the trusts to work for these things.
– If the honorable senator means to sa.y that members of this Parliament are paid for their advocacy of any particular policy in the interests of trusts, I am entitled to ask him either to withdraw his statement or to prove it. It would be just as easy for me to say that he is corruptly paid for what he does politically. We cannot conduct political controversy on decent lines if these reckless accusations are to be hurled about the chamber. I quite understand, however, how the iron has entered into the souls of my honorable friends opposite when they resort to .accusations of this kind. I venture to say that there is no party in this country that would shrink so much from having its political funds examined into as the party to which my honorable friends opposite belong.
– We have no funds to examine.
– How is it, then, thai one could not walk down the streets of Sydney on referendum clay without seeing motor cars going about in the interests of the Labour party’s policy. Did they get those cars for nothing?
– In Tasmania the honorable senator’s party engaged all the halls three months in advance, and we could get none.
– What does Senator Ready mean? Was there any injustice in what he alleges?
– It was smart business, that is all.
– Was it reprehensible ?
– Only smart.
– Here again we have an instance of the different way in which honorable senators opposite regard things affecting themselves and conduct of the same kind affecting others. The same smart practice of engaging all the available halls was resorted to recently in a byeelection in my own State by the Labour party. That was not reprehensible. But when, as alleged, the same thing was done in Tasmania, to the inconvenience of the Labour party, it was reprehensible.
– The newspapers got double rates from the honorable senator’s party in New South Wales.
– How much did the Labour papers get?
– Nothing at all.
– Double rates for what ?
– For advertising.
– Any one who has done any electioneering is well aware that extra rates always have to be paid for electioneering notices, but if it is alleged that our party paid double rates to newspapers for political services, the statement is absolutely incorrect. What I suppose my honorable friend to mean is that my party paid higher rates than his own, but that simply means that in spite of their denunciation of sweating by others they themselves cut down rates every time. I come back to these figures concerning the referendum, and to the statement that the defeat of the Government policy was owing to the smallness of the vote. I have already pointed out that if every absent voter had voted for the Government propositions, they would nevertheless have been defeated. Let us take another view of the case. Upon the Financial Agreement, 1,300,000 voted. The majority against the proposal was only 2 per cent. We heard nothing then about the smallness of the vote. My honorable friends were delighted with their victory. There was no attempt on this side to ignore the fact that the pro- posal had been defeated, though it was only beaten by 2 per cent. Their own proposals at the last referendum, however, were beaten by 21 per cent. Are they not pitiful - these efforts which are made to ignore the effect of the verdict of the people, a verdict which, I venture to say, will require more than eloquence, more even that the arts of my honorable friends, to reverse it within any period that we care to forecast? As showing how emphatically the proposals of the Government were defeated, let me point out that there are seventy-five Federal electorates. At the time of the referendum, thirty of those electorates were represented by Liberal representatives, and forty-five by members of the Labour party. Of these electorates every one represented by a Liberal declared against the Government proposals, whilst of those represented by Labour members, seventeen voted “ yes,” and twenty-eight voted “no.” In other words, fifty-eight electorates declared against the proposals, and only seventeen declared in favour of them.
– Why this inquest ?
– I quite understand that a man who is charged with murder would like to say, “ Why bother about an inquest? “
– The past is buried.
– Is it not intended to revive it? Will my honorable friend answer that question? We now have an assurance that the old policy is dead and buried. I am glad to hear it. A little time ago, however, we were assured that it was to be re-presented. A statement has also been made, and was repeated here yesterday, that the reason why these proposals were beaten was because the people did not understand them.
– Hear, hear.
– That is a serious reflection upon two sets of people. It is a serious reflection, in the first place, upon the electors to tell them that they did not understand the proposals that were made to them; and it is also a very serious reflection upon the members of the Labour party to say that they were unable to explain their own proposals.
– .We have no newspapers - that is the trouble.
– No newspapers ! Why, the best man in the honorable senator’s party for that work is being paid every week to explain the policy of the party, and has the free run of the columns of the Sydney Daily Telegraph in which to do so.
– They put his contributions out of sight.
– That is not correct. Every Saturday, in spite of his numerous other duties, Mr. Hughes is able to expound the policy of the party in the newspaper to which I have referred ; and, what is more, I have seen in that newspaper, during the heat of the campaign, no less than two pronouncements by Mr. Hughes on the same day in reply to one by Mr. Deakin, one in the form of an interview, and the other in the form of a speech. What is the use of saying, therefore, that the party opposite is not able to make its voice heard in the newspapers ? They have been treated with exceptional liberality. The newspapers which oppose them have treated them with a generosity which the Labour papers have never extended to us.
– We know what misrepresentation is.
– Misrepresentation ! Why, when the Worker commences to speak even respectfully of a political opponent, I shall be prepared to recant what I have said on this subject. But I have never seen a paragraph in the Worker that has even been decently respectful towards an opponent. Only the other day I saw in its columns a reference to one of the most brilliant members of the Liberal party - a man who is not a member of the Senate - who was described as a “ blitherer.” This is the type of “literature” which is regarded as being fair to opponents by a Labour journal.
– Does the honorable senator say that that is typical of the Worker?
– I say so, unquestionably.
– The honorable senator ought to produce a few samples.
– I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that the Worker never refers to any of its political opponents in respectful terms. But, on the other hand, the party opposite receives the most’ considerate treatment from the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph, though honorable senators- opposite have not the decent gratitude to recognise the fact and acknowledge it. I wish, However,, to come back to the reasons why the proposals of the Government were beaten. It is said, that the people did not understand them. 1 think the reason was because the people did understand them. But if there is any truth in the statement that they were not understood, why was that?
– The newspapers would not permit the electors to know what the questions meant.
– Whose fault was that?
– The proprietors of the newspapers.
– We had to face the lies of the press.
– The newspapers printed the lies uttered by the advocates of these proposals. I wish to give some of them, and ask if there was any wonder that the people turned down the proposals when their advocates gave such contradictory interpretations of them as I am about to read.
– Is the honorable senator aware of the fact that the Argus told the people that if they did not vote “ No>” their votes would not count.
– I am not aware of it, nor do I believe it now.
– That is base ingratitude for information tendered.
- Senator E. J. Russell will not, I hope, misunderstand me. I do not mean to say that he has wilfully made a misstatement, but that I do not believe that the Melbourne Argus, or any other reputable journal, would venture to tell the people anything so silly as that.
– I shall produce the advertisement before the debate is over.
– I do not mind saying that there might be circumstances and conditions in which I should myself feel justified in saying that if the people voted “ No” their votes would not count.
– Could the honorable senator give a simple illustration?
– Clearly, their votes would not count if they were in a hopeless minority.
– The honorable senator ought to go back to Sunday school.
– I am free to admit that,, while the honorable senator is present, there is ample opportunity here for a Sunday school teacher. I ought to apologize for these frequent interruptions. I wish to point out why there was some excuse for the people if they did not understand these proposals, though I think they did understand them. First of all, we have this statement made in Sydney at his great meeting there by Mr. Hughes. He said, speaking of the Government -
All they wanted was the power to do those things the States .had not the power to do.
That was a plain and easily understood statement. Mr. Hughes went on to elaborate his argument. He pointed out that the States could not do these things, that the Commonwealth, as the Constitution stood, was not in a position to do them, and he asked for the power to do those things which the States had not the power to do. But what did Mr. Fisher tell the meeting in the same hall? He said -
We only ask for the powers possessed by the States.
There was a contradiction which surely might be submitted as a reasonable excuse for the electors being a little puzzled. They had the two chief spokesmen of the party speaking on the subject - one saying that they asked only for the powers not possessed by the States, and the other that they asked only for the powers possessed by the States. “ Senator E. J. Russell. - There is no contradiction there.
– The two statements are perfectly reconcilable.
– They might be to a higher class of intellect than mine ; but I frankly admit that to me there appears to be no reconciling the two statements. I think that thousands of the electors, when they saw the strong conflict between these two statements, thought as I did, that it was obvious that the sponsors of these proposals did not themselves understand them.
– The one statement is precisely the same as the other. The honorable senator must know that his interpretation has no application.
– If Senator Henderson has correctly followed the quotations I gave, and still adheres to that statement, all I can say is that I must have a very feeble understanding of the ordinary meaning of English words. I will put it in another way. ‘One man says. “ I want what is on that table,” and another says, “ I want only what is not on that table.” Those are clearly irreconcilable statements. We have the same thing in the quotations I have given. One Minister said, “ We want what the States have not got,” and the other said, “ We want what the States have got,” and yet I am told that there is no conflict between them. A large number of the electors thought there was a conflict between them, and decided that as the sponsors of these proposals could not themselves give a clear definition as to what they were, they could hardly do better than turn them down. Let me give another quotation. Honorable senators will, perhaps, recollect that after the proposals had been framed, the Government of New South Wales communicated with the Federal Government asking for a clearer definition of what was wanted. We might assume that as the Government of New South Wales was not composed of dullards, they were fairly competent to interpret the proposals for themselves. Still, they sought information from the fountainhead, and, as a result of their request, Mr. Hughes, the Attorney-General of the Federal Government, sent a memorandum, I believe to all the State Ministries, but certainly to Mr. McGowen, the Premier of New South Wales. In that memorandum, there appeared this paragraph -
In regard to new powers in connexion with trade and commerce and corporations no class of measures not covered by existing powers is contemplated.
Naturally, the question follows, “ If you do not contemplate any measures not covered by existing powers, why do you want additional powers? “ I say that it was because of conflicting statements of this kind that a very large number of electors came to the conclusion that it was not desirable to accept these proposals, at any rate in the form submitted; and, therefore, whatever may have been their sympathies in ordinary politics, they voted very largely to assist in negativing the referendum proposals.
– The Hobart Mercury told the people they would lose their farms.
– I think they will lose a great deal more if they continue to keep my honorable friend where he is. I shall give another illustration. We had assurances from Mr. Hughes and others that, as the Constitution now stands, the Commonwealth was impotent to deal with trusts, and, although we passed legislation, it was so much waste paper. I think I am fairly stating the declaration made from beginning to end of the campaign. The people of New South Wales were rather puzzled by that declaration, because, at the very time that Mr. Hughes was declaring that there was no power under the Constitution to deal with trusts and combines, he was lavishly expending public money in prosecuting a combine. He was upon the horns of this dilemma : either there was at the time Dower under the Constitution to proceed against the combine, or he was guilty of a scandalous waste of public money in a mere game of bluff. Either there was upon the statute-book a law which Mr. Hughes considered sufficient for the purpose, or he would not have launched the prosecution against the Coal Vend. If he believed the Constitution to be defective with regard to trusts, and our present legislation insufficient, he was guilty of a scandalous waste of public money in launching that prosecution.
– That could only be known by means of a test.
– Yes; but the AttorneyGeneral did not wait for the test, tfe told the people that the Constitution was impotent, and the legislation already passed only so much waste paper, and not one of my honorable friends opposite waited to see the result of the test case. They asked the people on the 26th. April to decide that we had insufficient power under the Constitution. They did not wait to see, as a result of the test case, whether we had or not. However, the electors decided that they would wait.
– We did not say that we had no powers, but that they were not sufficient to meet all the operations of trusts.
– The statement was that with regard to trusts we had not sufficient power to deal with them, and at the same time that the Attorney-General said that, in launching a prosecution which is not going to be settled without a very heavy bill of costs whichever way the case goes, he was spending public money in putting into operation a law which we have a right to assume he believed to be effective for the purpose of controlling trusts. There is another thing which was rather puzzling to the people of New South Wales. In those extremely interesting articles which Mr. Hughes contributed, for, I think, a not inadequate fee, to the Sydney Daily Telegraph, we find these statements published only a short time before the referenda campaign was launched.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the labourer is worthy of his hire?
– Yes, I do; but 1 have heard my honorable friends opposite denouncing people with two jobs.
– Which friend? The honorable senator is very fond of using the plural.
– J have heard my honorable friends denouncing people holding two jobs, and I cannot say that I am myself prepared to commend a gentleman in the position of the Attorney-General, and possessing private means as well, doing some unfortunate scribe out of a job. 1 want to show why it was that the proposals of the Government were turned down. This was the position at the time of starting the campaign : Mr. Hughes, as legal adviser of the Government, stood forth as the head and front of the case against the Coal Vend ; but only a little while before he had published this in the Daily Telegraph -
Bad as things are in the North (Newcastle), they would have been worse if cut-throat competition had continued. The miner is paid by the ton of coal hewed - we contend he is paid insufficiently - and the rate goes up and down with the declared selling price. The Vend fixes a price - that price controls the market, which is thus not subject to violent and erratic fluctuations. The miner knows exactly where lie is, and consumers are able to make contracts and arrangements with something like assurance of a fixity of price.
What a blessed thing the Vend was then, when votes were not wanted.
– What is the date of the quotation?
– I have not the date here, but my honorable friend can look at the paper for himself. .
– The point I wished to make was that in the early days the combine did not put up the price so high.
– This appeared prior to last Christmas when the coal strike was on. Mr. Hughes continued -
As for the public, I do not think the Vend, as a Vend, has operated prejudically.
Why in the name of heaven should a prosecution be launched against the Vend when it was not dealing prejudically with the public, and was operating beneficially for the men?
My complaint against the Vend is not that it regulates prices nor that it regulates output, but that it does neither effectively.
Mr. Hughes went on to say ;
Combines, trusts, vends, on the other hand, attempt to control prices by regulating production. They mark a substantial advance in economic development.
This was the education which Mr. Hughes was giving the electors, at any rate in New South Wales, up to December of last year, but when the votes of those electors were required, he is suddenly found pressing with every energy this prosecution against the Coal Vend, which he declared did not injure the public, and was of benefit to the coal-miner. In the circumstances, it was reasonable for the electors to ask themselves : “Is there any sincerity in this? Why is it that always on the eve of an election, when votes are wanted, we have this talk of trusts, and the moment the votes are cast our representatives in Parliament are found to be the stoutest champions of trusts and combines wherever they exist ? ‘ ‘ That was the proposition confronting the people of New South Wales. The statement by Mr. Hughes published in the Daily Telegraph was never withdrawn or retracted.
– No wonder they went astray when the honorable senator attempts to mislead us with such shoddy arguments.
– I am not so foolish as to attempt to mislead honorable senators. These quotations speak for themselves, and honorable senators may attempt to excuse or palliate them as they please. To my mind there is no reconciling these statements with those made later on by Mr. Hughes, or with the action he took as AttorneyGeneral in launching that prosecution.
– Did it cross the mind of the honorable senator when he accuses Mr. Hughes of holding two jobs, that at one time he held two himself?
– Yes, but I have never denounced the practice. I am prepared to take as many billets as my ability will enable me to fill, and I shall restrain no one else in that regard. I desire to say a few words on what appears to me to be the somewhat sobering effect of office on my honorable friends opposite. I propose to deal with the different position which has been created by the presence of my honorable friends for some months on the Treasury benches, and of their confreres on the Treasury benches in the Parliament of New South Wales. The whole outlook has been altered during that time. Up to the tremendous fluke of the 13th April my honorable friends opposite were living on the wild hopes which were engendered by the use of reckless promises. But what is the position to-day?
– On facts.
– Yes, but the facts are very different from those which were promised. They can no longer claim that theirs is a party which stands for principle- Principles, as I shall show directly, are torn up when it does not suit the convenience of its members. They can no longer pretend that their platform is so plain and simple that he who runs may read, because there have already been two crises brought about by the inability of the rank and file to determine what it does mean. They no longer live by denouncing those whose painful duty it is to uphold law and order when the necessity arises. We know that at the last general election in New South Wales the cry was “ The Coercion Act.” We know that at the Federal election the echo of that cry was heard and largely influenced the minds of people. What has become of the Act? Although its repeal was promised it is still on the statute-book and a Labour Government is carrying out its penal provisions. Had any but a Labour Government been in office we should have expected to find Senator McGregor - or somebody else on the other side - rising here as he did on one occasion and protesting vigorously against the sending of police to Lithgow. I would remind my honorable friend that he questioned a previous Government about the despatch of soldiers to Broken Hill. For fear that I might do him an injustice I shall quote his actual words -
I believe the difficulty has been aggravated to some extent by the action of the New South Wales Government in sending detachments of police to that city.
I also desire to ask whether the Government have any opinion as to whether it is not a violation of the Court for any State to keep armed forces for intimidation or any other purpose. If Senator McGregor held those views then and the question was not asked for the mere purpose of vote-catching outside, let me ask him whether in his official position he is prepared to make a protest to the State Government against the action which they have taken?
– The circumstances are quite different.
– Of course they are.
– The difference is that whereas police were sent to Broken Hill before there was any trouble, they were not sent to Lithgow until there was trouble. To the former place they were sent in order to provoke trouble.
– Apparently, when the police are sent by one Government they are sent to provoke trouble, and when sent by another Government the object is to ease out the trouble. My honorable friend virtually says, “ Let the horse out of the stable and then lock the door.” If there is trouble why has not the Coercion Act been repealed? Surely the Labour Government have had time enough to do that? They declared at the general election that if returned it would be wiped off the statute-book within twenty-four hours, but it is still there, and the members who denounced it so bitterly are enforcing its provisions to-day. It is no.t long since there was a strike on a railway being constructed by day labour from Moree to Mungindi. What happened when Mr. Griffith, the Minister for Works, came to deal with the strike? He bought a plant and sent up a number of men to break the strike. That was the action of a Labour Minister. Before taking that step, however, he offered the strikers the provisions of the Coercion Act as a means of settling the dispute.
– There is no Coercion Act.
– I know that, but the honorable senator said that there was. He and his friends lived on that cry and got into power. The only thing which they could talk of was the Coercion Act.
– The Industrial Disputes Act.
– If there is no Coercion Act did the men at Carcoar, who were prosecuted under that Act, voluntarily pay their fines?
– Have the men paid the fines voluntarily?
– Name a strike which occurred in New South Wales?
– I did. The carters said, “ We were getting 12s. a day under Wade. Surely we are going to get a bob more out of a Labour Government?” Their request was refused and they struck. Mr. Griffith’s answer was, “ I will give you the machinery of the Coercion Act to settle your trouble.”
– Did any man have his wages reduced thereby?
– No. Under Mr. Wade the men had their wages increased. When they struck on the works Mr. Griffith’s answer was to send them the machinery of the Coercion Act to settle the trouble, and when they were not prepared to accept that his next step was to employ strike breakers.
– Nonsense. No man has suffered any reduction of wages.
- Mr. Griffith sent up other men to take the places of the strikers. No man at Lithgow is getting, less to-day than was paid before. I know that my honorable friends opposite are in a most uncomfortable position. Prior to the advent of that party to power, everything which is now taking place, and which is merely carrying out the law, took place. I am not finding fault with any Government for doing so. What was done there is the only thing which any Government alive to the responsibility of its official position could have done.
– What is the honorable senator finding fault with?
– I ‘am trying to point out to the honorable senator the position which he occupied before he sat on the Treasury bench - how he denounced the efforts of his predecessors to maintain law and order. The fact that a Labour Government is in office in this Parliament, and also in a State Parliament, is altering the entire outlook. No longer will my honorable friends make these wild promises and appeal to the more thoughtless section of the community by the statements which they have hitherto made.
– Is not that more to their credit?
– My honorable friend does not see the point, surely. If these things were wrong when done by a Liberal Government, they cannot be right when done by a Labour Government. We know that whenever they have been done by a non-Labour Government Labourites have bitterly denounced them, and attacked the Government for doing them. Let me point out another effect which has arisen from the fact that my honorable friends have been successful in the political arena. Hitherto it has been claimed that their programme was so simple that any person who could read could immediately grasp its meaning. Yet we have had, first with regard to the Financial Agreement, the party almost torn asunder in its effort to interpret what the Brisbane Conference determined. More recently in New South Wales a crisis has been brought about. Why? Because the Ministry of the day - that is, the parliamentary party, were not able to decide what was meant by the plank relating to the nationalization of land.
– Nothing of the kind. It was not divided on that at all.
– My honorable friend will see that, so long as the party stood solid and gave the one interpretation of their programme, I, perhaps, was bound to accept that interpretation; but now, when every one appears to be at liberty to interpret it, surely I can claim the same right. The split which has arisen has been as to what the land policy of the party is.
– No. It is not a right, but only a privilege.
– Here is another instance of the fact that the party, once in office, is for the first time surrounded with the difficulties of the position. A party in Opposition has no internal difficulties ; they have only to be sufficiently reckless and careless. My honorable friends for years fattened on reckless promises, and now, when they are approached to redeem them, it has been borne in on the minds of electors that the promises were not simply reckless, but had no foundation in fact.
– Is not the honorable senator pretty hard up when he is dealing with State matters ?
– Am I dealing with a State matter any more than Senator McGregor, was when he asked the Federal Government to interfere with the despatch of police to Broken Hill ? On that occasion Senator Givens followed him up by saying, “ Seeing that this disturbance is likely to spread to other States, and to become a Commonwealth matter, it is the duty of the Commonwealth to intervene in the early stages.” Is not the Lithgow trouble likely to become a Commonwealth matter?
– Hear, hear ; but has that anything to do with the land policy of the State Government?
– The point of the reference to the land policy was simply to show that the claim that the programme was so plain and so simple that he who runs may read can no longer stand, because the party itself is split in its efforts to interpret its meaning. I want to deal with another subject raised by this Speech, and that is the question of immigration. Here, again, we see a considerable difference in the attitude of the Labour party since it has taken office, as compared with that which it manifested when in Opposition. We have first of all the very interesting statement made by Mr. Fisher in a public utterance on his native heath. He had been entertained by the Ayrshire Miners’ Union, and he was speaking not merely to agricultural labourers, but to miners. He then appealed to those contemplating emigration to turn their attention to Australia. Almost on the same occasion Mr. McGowen, the Labour Premier in my State, said, in a press interview, that he was surprised that more people did not go to Australia, where there were opportunities of sunshine and comfort which did not exist in the older civilizations. I want also to quote a few utterances from some prominent Labourites, to show how different they are from those they delivered but a few months ago. I turn again to Mr. Griffith, who, referring to the Newcastle men, many of whom are out of work because of the slackness of. the times there, said to a press interviewer : -
There is not a district in New South Wales to-day, except Newcastle, where the single man willing to work cannot get regular work and good wages. It is the married men or men with family obligations in whose interest I am taking all the trouble. I told them at Newcastle, and I reiterate it now, that there are 1,000 miners in the Newcastle and Maitland districts out of work, and if for that thousand permanent work can be found in other parts of the State it will be better for them and better for Newcastle. As long as there is a surplus of miners hanging round the mine proprietors have always got the big end of the stick.
Mr. Griffith was asked, “ What about their fear that new chums will take their places?”
I am not much concerned about that, said the Minister. All the new chums I have met have far too much sense than to refuse regular work at good wages and sit down beside a mine that works two days in a fortnight. The new chums go out where work is available, and men are wanted, and the surplus worker of Newcastle will have to do the same.
I ask honorable senators to compare these statements, made now by responsible Min,isters, with those wild declarations made a little while ago that there was no room for additional population in Australia. The statements made have always been in deprecation of any effort to introduce population. ,
– A Federal land tax has been passed.
– I see. I recommend my honorable friend to go to the Trades Hall and make an address pointing out that there is room now for immigrants because of the imposition of the land tax.
– Since the Labour Government came into power there have not been sufficient berths obtainable for persons wishing to come out.
– That is perfectly, true.
– Be specific for once. Will the honorable senator tell me the name of any Labour man who ever said there was not room for any more people in Australia ?
– Unquestionably. The Attorney-General, Mr. Hughes, on one occasion said that there was no room for additional labourers in Australia.
– On what occasion? Be definite.
– If I understand my honorable friend to say that the Labour party is, and always has been, in favour of immigration-
– I have always been opposed to subsidized immigration, but at the same time I am surprised that more people do not come here.
– My honorable friend must see why I have not brought day and date with me as to when the statement was made, but I take his attitude as being representative of that adopted by the party to which he belongs. His statement is that he is opposed to subsidized immigration, and that I thought was so much the accepted creed of the Labour party that I did not think it necessary to equip myself with any data of the kind to which he refers. But it so happens that I have with me statements which are sufficiently illuminative of the attitude of the great body of workers throughout this country. Here is one in connexion with the sugar workers’ strike. Mr. T. D. Mutch, of the Rural Workers’ Union, speaking at the Labour Council, moved the following resolution, which was carried -
That the Council deplores the fact that the Queensland Intelligence Agency is being used for the purpose of providing scabs to replace the unionists on the Queensland sugar-fields, and that immigrants are being brought in to act as strike breakers.
What are the Commonwealth Government doing if they allow strike breakers to be brought into ‘the country*?
– Does the Commonwealth Government control immigration?
– Yes, and if that statement be correct they are controlling it In a. very lax manner. It is competent for the Government to prevent the introduction into the Commonwealth of any person.
– Under contract.
– The honorable senator forgot those words.
– I forgot nothing of the kind, as I shall show presently. There is ample power on the statute-book to prevent people being brought into the Commonwealth to act as strike breakers.
– Only if they are brought in under contract.
– If they are “ brought “ here, does not that imply that they are under contract?
– There were seventyfive passengers for Queensland on the steamer by which I travelled from Japan recently, and not one of them was under contract. They were brought out by an Association.
– I do not believe the statement which I have been quoting. But the resolution in question was carried by the Labour Council, and if it be true, the Commonwealth Government are most remiss in their administration of the law.
– The immigrants are brought out first, and are afterwards used for strike-breaking purposes.
– If I bring a man out to this country he does not come of his own volition. There is an arrangement behind him, and if these men are being brought to Australia there must be an agreement with them somewhere. But I am merely pointing out the character of the resolutions which are frequently passed by Labour Councils. .
– Why does not the honorable senator get better information before he comes here with it?
– If my honorable friend had said worse information I could understand him. The resolution which I have quoted represents the attitude which is usually adopted in respect of immigration by Labour organizations. Prior to the advent to office of the present Government, we know perfectly well that members of the party opposite led their supporters outside to believe that they were not in favour of subsidized immigration.
– Do not forget the operation of the Federal land tax.
– I will not forget it. I am coming to the 700 disappointed applicants for land to whom my honorable friend referred yesterday.
– I did not say there were 700 disappointed applicants. I said that there were several hundreds.
– Here is another resolution -
Mr. Stacey, of the Australian Engineers, moved in the Labour Council last night - “ That a letter be sent to the Acting Minister for External Affairs protesting against the admission of contract labour under’ any pretext.”
Did Senator Findley, during the time that he filled the office of Acting Minister of External Affairs, sanction the introduction of any immigrants under contract?
– Let the honorable senator move for a return in that connexion.
– If I had given that answer I should have been told not to quibble. I do not ask for details, but for a simple ‘ ‘ yes “ or “ no “ to the question, “Did the honorable senator admit contract labour during the time that he administered the Department of External Affairs?”
– The honorable senator knows that during the period that I acted for Mr. Batchelor I did sign permits for the introduction of immigrants.
– With the consent of the unions concerned.
– If that statement be true, we understand that Ministers no longer administer their Departments. It is a mere question of the unions administering them.
– The unions and the employers who bring out immigrants under contract. The manager of Mort’s Dock, Mr. Franki, went to the unions first. He recognises them.
– The report continues -
Mr. Stacey referred to the paragraph which appeared in the press that the Mort’s Dock Engineering Company had applied for permission to bring out 120 mechanics under contract, the plea being the shortage of labour in Sydney. He understood that consent to the importation of 18 mechanics had already been given, and if that was so, where was the thing to stop?
Mr. Hampton (Boilermakers) said that his society would have been prepared to admit workers under contract to meet an emergency, but it was realized that when slack time came their own men would be put off to give way to the new comers.
The motion was carried.
The two motions which I have quoted fairly represent the attitude of organized labour throughout Australia, and it is, I venture to say, an attitude which was freely indorsed by Labour representatives up till the time when the present Government assumed office. Here, again, we find the sobering influence of office upon them. I do not say that they are taking strenuous steps to attract people in the Mother Country to our shores-
– Look at the prosperity of the country.
– When I was speaking of the changed attitude of my honor able friends in regard to the introduction of fresh people to Australia I was interrupted by the statement that the influx of immigrants was the result of the operation of the Federal land tax. As Senator W. Russell seemed extremely anxious to lure me on to that question, I am glad to be able to oblige him. I -always endeavour to find out the mental attitude of those from whom I have the misfortune to differ by an analysis of their utterances. In this connexion the first paragraph to which I wish to direct attention is one which the Government is in a position to affirm or contradict. It appears in this morning’s newspapers, and it reads -
Useful and attractive posters are being prepared by the External Affairs Department for distribution in Great Britain. Four typical Australian subjects are depicted - pastoral sheep raising, fruit growing, wheat farming, and wine making - and in bold letters at the bottom readers are promised cheap land, and asked to apply to the High Commissioner for information.
Is that statement, generally speaking, correct?
– What does the honorable senator himself say?
– I am asking the question ?
– Does not the honorable senator think that he might also answer it?
– It is the duty of Ministers to supply us with information.
– Does the honorable senator think that the statement is untrue?
– I think it is true. Of course, the Minister may fence the question, or may decline to answer it or deny its accuracy. But he knows perfectly well that I can, if I wish, put on the businesspaper a question relating to it, which, I assume, would receive an accurate reply. At present, however, it is optional for him, if he is in possession of the information I seek, either to give it or withhold it. Certainly the paragraph in question is in entire conformity with the statement which was made in the pamphlet issued by Mr. Batchelor, to the effect that cheap land is to be obtained in abundance in Australia. We are all aware that whilst in England recently, Mr. McGowen, the Labour Premier of New South Wales, was tendered a banquet, at which he said -
Australia wanted people for the interior. She must have them if they were to hold Australia for the Empire. There were 26,000,000 acres suitable for settlement, and the Government intended to pass legislation to do away with all alienation of Crown, lands. In the future land tenures would be based on the principle that the State control should continue over all lands still the properly of the State.
He asked Britain to direct those of her people desiring to emigrate towards Australia, so that they might always live under the flag that gave them freedom.
Senator W. Russell has said that the flow of population towards Australia is due to the operation of the Federal land tax. Yet the fact remains that land in Australia is higher in price to-day than it ever was before.
– In spite of the land tax.
– When my honorable friends say that, as a result of their policy, land is now cheaper than it was previously, they make a statement which is absolutely contradicted by fact. Land in Australia to-day is commanding higher prices than it ever did before.
– Then the honorable senator was a bad judge, because ;he said that prices would go down.
– My honorable friend is quite correct. The effect of the Federal land tax has been to lower values on those estates which are seriously affected by it. But there has also been operating a set of factors and forces which have increased the value of land to .a greater extent than the tax has decreased it.
– According to the honorable senator’s own admission, one has helped to counteract the other.
– On the few estates which were sufficiently large to feel the tax it has had its effect. Senator Givens, in dealing with this matter, made the clearest Statement of the effect of the tax, from his point of view, to which I have had the pleasure of listening. He pointed out that the area which would be seriously affected by the impost would be insignificant. It was only a few estates, he affirmed, which would be seriously penalized by it. The result proves that he was correct.
– We want the tax made heavier.
– Senator W. Russell brought forward his one or two swallows which he thought made a summer. He spoke of the subdivision of one or two estates. I do not want to say that it is because of the land tax, or anything of that kind, but I do make the statement that subdivision is going on in New South Wales to-day less rapidly than was the case a year or two ago.
– Did I not prove what I alleged by the case that I read?
– My honorable friend proved that one particular man - not the owner, by the way - had made the statement that because of the tax some one was willing to sell certain land as the result of thisgrand policy of the Government, and he contended that, as a result of that policy,, hundreds of people in Australia were enabled to get land. But the case that the honorable senator cited confirms what I have said, namely, that the tax has not lowered values. The fact remains that today, whatever else may be the case, the land tax has not had the effect of securing cheaper land for the people.
– My honorable friend knows what appreciates land values.
– Of course I do ; but the statements made by the advocates of this land tax - that it would have the effect of causing land held for speculative purposes to be thrown upon the market, and that, in consequence, large areas of cheap land would be available - was so much nonsense. lt. has had no such effect. Senator W. Russell himself admitted so much in his statement that in his own State hundreds of applicants for land have had to go away unsatisfied.
– The land tax has: only been in operation for a few months.
– The honorable senator said that more land would be made available to the people as a result of the tax. But does he say that it has had the effect of bringing down values?
– It will.
– A land tax could only have the effect of bringing down land values at the time of its imposition. There is no possible means by which you can secure “ cheap” land to the ultimate user of it, unless in some country that is fast going to pieces. You may pass any legislation you like ; you may even take land and give it to people for nothing ; but that land’ will not be cheap to the man who has to use it ultimately. You may give a block of land to a man to-day, but when he sellsit he does not give it away for nothing because he got it for nothing.
– Did the honorable senator notice the statement made in England by the chairman of the Van Diemen’sLand Company that, owing to the operation of the Federal land tax the companywould be compelled to sell?
– Yes. But what <does that prove? It does not affect my contention.
– The company must sell cheaper than they were previously prepared to do, because they could not sell at the price they were asking.
– Will the honorable senator say that I can buy land to-day cheaper than I could buy it two years ago ? As a matter of fact, land values to-day are higher in Australia than they have ever been.
– And, side by side with that, there is more land available:
– There is not. There never was a time in New South Wales when you could not purchase land if you were prepared to pay the market price, for if. The market price previously was declared to be speculative, but, nevertheless, prices to-day are higher than they have ever been, and I venture to predict that they will continue to be high. As Senator Findley says, land values are going, up. No matter what the cause may be, prices are rising. Therefore the fact remains that, the imposition of this tax has- not fulfilled its purpose, and that the prediction of those who said that it would secure cheap land to the people has been falsified. I venture to add that promises of cheap land for the people always must be falsified.
– There are many estates in New South Wales that have been thrown open that would not have been available except for the tax.
– I claim to have as intimate, a knowledge of matters, concerning the land in New South Wales as any one in this Chamber, and I say now that, whilst probably there may be a few estates which, for sentimental and family reasons, have been held up in the way suggested, I do not believe that there is any considerable number of them ; and, what is, more, I say that, irrespective of the operation of the land tax, I do not believe that any great number of those estates which are now being subdivided were seriously affected by the tax at all. What has brought about subdivision has not been the Federal land tax ; it has been the recognition of the fact that good seasons have widened the area devoted to agriculture. The consequence has been that agricultural prices have been offered and paid for land that has hitherto been dealt with on a pastoral basis. The result is that prices have gone up ; and the promise that the land tax would have the effect of securing, land cheap and abundant for the people has been falsified, as such a promise always must be falsified.
– We shall have to raise the tax..
– There is, in my belief, no means of giving cheap land to the man who is going to be the ultimate user of it.
– Where does the confiscation come in, then ?
– There is confiscation when you admit - as the honorable senator did - that this tax was the means of taking away a third of the capital value of an estate.
– Was there confiscation in putting up the value of land?
– Does the honorable senator say that the tax put up the value? It did not ; but, at the same time, the tax did not keep the price down, as honorable senators said it would. That is1 my contention. If the conditions of prosperity that now prevail continue - as I hope they will - the price of land will not go down.
– We can make land cheaper to the ultimate consumer by preventing artificial scarcity.
– We were always told that the price of land in. this country was above the true productive value. The answer to that is that, in spite of the land tax, land is being, sold to-day at higher prices than it ever was before. There can be: no speculative values affecting those prices. There is, I repeat,, no means by which you can secure to the ultimate user of land, cheap land.; and by cheap land I mean land at a price lower than it will command in the open, market. Let me demonstrate this point clearly, because to me, as to my honorable friends opposite, the land question is. always full of interest. Some of the State Governments are endeavouring to give cheap- land to” the people. In Western Australia, land has- been given for nothing. In New South Wales, land has been supplied to settlers at a price considerably below what it would command in the open market. What is the effect? Will the ultimate user obtain cheap land? Not a bit of it. A man having got his cheap land from the Crown, and having worked it for a few years, will, when it passes from his hands to some one else, take care that he does not sell it cheap. He will demand the full market value for it.
– That is an impeachment of the freeholder system.
– It may be. I have never, as my honorable friend Is aware, contended that the demands of the leasehold advocates are not entitled to serious consideration, although I do not pretend to be an advocate of them. Suppose that a man pays the Crown £25 a year for land which is really worth £100 a year. When he sells that land, he does not sell it for £2$. He sells for a sum which represents £75 capitalized. The result is that the man who buys is no better off than he would have been if he bought his land at auction. The ultimate user of the land is no better off, whilst the Government is much worse off.
– That is quite true; we allow the individual to fleece the Crown in the first instance, and afterwards to fleece the ultimate user’.
– Neither the land tax nor any other device will secure cheap land to those who have ultimately to work it. Leaving that point, I should like to draw the attention of the Minister of Defence to one or two matters connected with his Department. I am spurred to do so by a paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech which refers to the fact that the compulsory training of cadets has been successfully inaugurated. As far as the boys themselves are concerned, I think we may indorse that statement, except that a little friction has occurred in isolated cases. On the whole, it may be said that young Australia has responded with good feeling and all readiness to the call made by the Commonwealth. But when the Government say that the system has been successfully inaugurated, I am entitled to point out that that term cannot be applied to cases in which boys have actually fainted on parade in consequence of the scanty, insufficient, and unwholesome conditions under which they were being trained.
– Would that not be an isolated case?
– I do not know.
– It is a case of “ one swallow.”
– In a case that has come under my notice, at Mittagong, four boys fainted at one’ parade. When such a thing can occur, there must surely be something wrong. Further than that, some of us have seen statements in the newspapers from parents who have made bitter complaints about the unsatisfactory accommodation provided for these boys when they went up for medical examination. ‘ I was told of one place where boys were examined, and must say at once that I do not believe that the Minister himself would come to any other conclusion than that it was not creditable to the Defence Forces of Australia, and not likely to create a favorable impression in the minds of the boys, that such conditions should prevail; whilst, at the same time, it was not fair to the officer responsible to the Government that he should be expected to carry out his important duties under such circumstances. The Minister, I am sure, must have had instances of the kind brought under his notice.
– Will the honorable senator give a case in point?
– I have mentioned the case at Mittagong where four boys fainted. I believe that the facts are in the Department, but, if they are not, I shall be glad to furnish particulars. As a matter of fact, the Minister made a declaration the other day, in the course of which he asked why halls which were available for the purpose were not utilized.
– That was not accommodation for the medical examination.
– I am not speaking solely of that. The Minister must be aware of these claims, because in a statement he made to the press, he complained that halls in various places belonging to the parents of the lads were not made available to the Defence Department, although the Department, in the excess of its generosity, offered to clean the halls afterwards. Is the Defence Department to loaf for its accommodation? In most communities where halls have been erected for any purpose, the residents have contributed to the cost as shareholders, and it is expected that by the income earned, the buildings will pay for themselves.
– We offered more than the honorable senator has said.
– In the statement to which I refer, the Minister will see, if he looks into the matter, that he only said that the Department offered to attend to the cleaning of the halls. I should be the last to suggest that the necessities of the Defence Department should be made an excuse for the exaction of an undue rent. I say that the Department should not be dependent upon the goodwill of the proprietors of any hall for the training of cadets-
– Why should not any public building be available for Defence purposes ?
– To what public buildings does the honorable senator refer?
– Municipal halls, and schools of arts buildings, for instance.
– I do not think they should be available. If the residents of a city build a hall for any purpose, why should the Defence Department loaf upon them ?
– As a Commonwealth, we have not reciprocated in this matter.
– As Senator Keating points out, we have never taken this view when an application has been made for the use of Commonwealth buildings.
– We invariably refused the use of drill halls.
– There is another matter to which I wish to refer, and I will ask the Minister to correct me if I am wrong in the statement I propose to make. I understand that area officers responsible for the administration of an area are receiving an allowance of £150 a year.
– That is so.
– I understand these gentlemen are responsible for the administration of their respective areas. I hope that honorable senators fully recognise all that is involved in the administration of an area.
– They are responsible for the supervision of the area administration. There is, of course, a staff to carry out the administration.
– That is so. I do not mean to say that they must attend to the whole of the actual work. But, if I understand the nature of the work thrown upon them, it represents continuous occupation for the officers appointed. The effect of the payment of £150 per year has been, what I suppose was intended, that the officers appointed, give only their spare time to the work. In the more important areas, and certainly in the more scattered ones, where travelling is a great feature, the work is sufficient for the constant occupation of any man. If that be so, a salary of ;£r5° a Year >s quite inadequate for the position. I suggest to the Minister that the whole success of the scheme is dependent upon the proper administration of these areas.
– We have the money required now from the land tax.
– It does not matter whether we have or not. The point I am raising is whether we are launching this scheme under the best possible conditions. That is a point entitled to consideration. I am making a statement which I believe to be correct, when I say that the work involved in the control of these areas is such as should occupy the greater portion of the time of any man.
– I must differ from my honorable friend on the point. I went round with one area officer, and though, perhaps, his work may have been a little heavy at the launching of the scheme, I came to the conclusion that these areas cannot be effectively administered in the spare moments of the area officers. To ask men who have to do their ordinary business during the day, and, not unfrequently, as is the case with most of us, have some work to do in the evenings, to accept the responsibility of administering an area in their spare time, seems to me, I will not say to invite failure, but to militate against the success of the scheme. It might even be desirable to reduce the number of areas, and have permanently paid officials in charge of the work, so that we may have men devoting the whole of their time to it as a means of livelihood. We should then be much more likely to have the work done effectively than we shall be if it is left to men who have to depend upon other things for their livelihood, and must give the greater portion of their time to their private concerns. There is a matter connected with the Postal Department upon which I wish to touch. I am not going to refer to the continued chaos which exists in that Department further than to say that it is one of the things which the party opposite talked loudly about remedying, before they came into office. They said that they would put it all right in a very short space of time once the electors placed them in a position to do so. But we have had the admission from the other side that the state of affairs is now as bad as it ever has been.
– Not quite.
– The honorable senator says that in a palliative sort of way, but he made the statement that since the advent of the Labour Government- there had been nearly a strike in the Department in South Australia. We did not get near to a strike under the previous Ministry. It took a Labour Government to do that. I wish to refer to another matter, and I will ask my honorable friends opposite to say whether the statement I am about to make is correct. I am informed that the company which was given a licence to establish wireless telegraphy at the Hotel Australia did so, and started its business on a certain tariff, and that the Government then came along and insisted upon the company raising the tariff and charging more for the work, it was doing for the public than it was content to receive.
– An increase of the charge to the public?
– Yes. The Government compelled this company, known, I think, as “ Wireless Limited,” to raise its tariff. We had a long debate last session on the system of wireless telegraphy to be adopted for Government stations. This company obtained a licence to establish a station of its own for the transmission of private business until such time as a Government station was erected’. The company issued its tariff, commenced to do business, and then the Government came along and insisted upon it increasing its tariff by 50 per cent. The position is anomalous, and I think indefensible. If the company was prepared, and it is said that it was, to do business for 4d. per word, it is little short of an iniquity that the Government should compel it to charge 6d. per word. The reason given throws a little light upon the advantages of private enterprise as against State enterprise. It was just this : that byandbye when the Government station was at work, it would have to charge higher rates. The Government could not stand a private company working at a lower rate before the Government station was in operation. It was thought possibly that some odium would attach to the Government if they came along later and raised the rates.
– Is that the honorable senator’s explanation?
– No; that is the explanation given by the Department. The Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral can correct me if the statement is not correct. The statement is made from an extract from an official letter to the company from the Government, laying down the rate to be charged at 6d. per word, whereas the original tariff issued by the company was 4d.. per word. Before the debate closes, the Minister can say whether I am correct in this statement. Let me point out again that this trouble arises not through the Postal Department, but from the tendency of the Defence Department to loaf upon other Departments. The reason the Government would have to charge higher rates at the public station is that to meet Defence Department requirements it will be a high-power station, whereas for ordinary commercial messages, such as those sent by the Wireless Limited, a low-power station is sufficient. A high-power station will, of course, cost more to erect, and the Government must charge a higher tariff in order to make it profitable. We must have a highpower station, not for commercial purposes, but to meet Defence Department requirements, and the whole of the commercial community of Australia is to be penalized because our defence service requires the establishment of a high-power station.
– Does not our defence system protect the commercial community?
– I think it is a fair tax on commerce.
– But surely honorable senators- must see that if commercial messages can be sent at a certain rate, and if for defence purposes something further is ^required, the extra expense involved should be charged against the Defence Department, and ought not to be imposed upon people who use wireless telegraphy for commercial purposes.
– If that argument be sound it knocks out the other argument with regard to the failure of State enterprise.
– I do not follow the honorable senator. Here is a private company prepared to do business upon a certain basis, and the Government comes along and compels it to charge more than it is content to charge.
– The Government are prepared to allow Father Shaw to operate messages from King Island at those rates, but I am afraid they are too high.
– They are, I understand, 50 per cent, higher than the Wireless Limited Company was prepared to charge. If the Government has to erect a station which is above what commercial requirements demand, all that it is necessary to charge in excess on that account should be a specific charge against the Defence Department requiring the high-power station, and should not be loaded upon the commercial users of these appliances.
– Are not the Government tied up in connexion with a wireless patent?
– Is it possible to tie this Government up with anything?
– The law courts will have something to say about it shortly, I believe.
– I am endeavouring to show that it is because of the requirements of the Defence Department, and the loafing, as I call it, of that Department upon other Departments of the service, that we are likely largely to restrict the use of wireless telegraphy. It is world-wide experience that the lower a tariff in postal and telegraphic matters, the greater the volume of business. Messages will be sent for 4d. per word which would not be sent if the charge were 6d. per word. It is unreasonable that those engaged in the commerce of the country who desire to make use of wireless telegraphy should be handicapped to such an extent because of the requirements of the Defence Department. We should not permit the Defence Department to loaf - and I can find no other word for what is done - upon the Postal Department. Even if it will be necessary when the Government station is completed for the Government to charge this higher tariff, why should not the commercial community in the meantime be given the benefit of the lower rates which the private company is prepared to charge? What justification is there for penalizing the commercial public at the present time? It will be some months before the public station is established, and why should we in the meantime deprive commercial people of the advantage of the cheap tariff the private company offers? A great deal is said about the desire of the present Government to cut down prices, and to see that the consumer and the general community are fairly treated, but here we have a case of a private company - for which my attitude in the debate last session indicates that I .have no possible regard - prepared to do business upon a reasonable tariff, and the Government, merely because they fear there may be some protest against the higher charges which they would have to make, in virture of their monopoly, compelling the company against its desire, and against the interest of the users, to raise its tariff by 50 per cent.
– *It is worse than the Sugar Company.
– The action is on the same lines, but I have not heard such a specific charge against the Sugar Company as I now make against the Government. Let me refer now to another little matter. During the recess the Government appointed an accountant for the Commonwealth Military College. I should like to know how Mr. Binnie came to be appointed. I do not know anything about the position or what it is worth. All I know is that a gentleman was appointed to the position without anybody else having an opportunity to apply for appointment. The particulars of the case are, perhaps, best given in the words of Senator McGregor when he was interviewed by the press on the subject.
General Bridges thought it necessary that there should be an accountant, and the matter had been one of urgency. If an advertisement had been called for a position of this kind there would have been about 1,000 applicants, and the examination of their credentials would have taken a very long time. Private negotiations had been entered into with half a dozen men who were applicants for the position.
How did they know of the position? “ Oh,” replied Senator McGregor, “ it got about through some one recommending this man, and some one else recommending that man. It was on General Bridges’ recommendation that Mr. Binnie was appointed.”
Was his application supported by a particular Federal member? “ I do not think there is any letter from a Federal member. The appointment is only on probation.”
But does not that mean permanency? “ Yes, if he proves suitable during his six months’ probation.”
We were supposed to have a Public Service Act which would prevent favoritism of any kind.
– You have it.
– We were supposed to have one, and I almost believe that there is one, because I have my honorable friend’s assurance that it is still in existence. We were supposed to have this Act which was to prevent Ministers conferring positions on favourites or obliging friends by placing relatives in positions. Here we have the Acting Minister for Defence apparently going outside the Act and making an appointment. What is the excuse given? The reason given is that there would have been a thousand applications if called for, and that only six persons were given the opportunity of applying for the position.
– The reason was the urgency.
– We may take the urgency for what it is worth. The fact that there would have been a thousand applicants only shows that 994 persons have been unjustly treated in being denied the right to apply for a Government position. The Ministry should have some better excuse than that published by Senator McGregor. They may have, for all I know to the contrary, but unless they have I venture to say that their action is not one which will commend itself to the Senate, lt is not one which we can quietly allow to take root and develop. I have occupied the time of honorable senators very much longer than I had intended, but for that I am sure they will largely accept the responsibility by reason of their interjections. I want> in concluding, to say this-
– Say you will support the Ministry.
– I cannot support a Ministry which tears up Acts and gives plums in the Public Service to certain individuals, and which is guilty of many other slips - too many for me to deal with this afternoon. I ask the Minister to remember that rarely has there been a session when we have not been, as it were, marking time, when we have not been working half shifts. I feel perfectly certain that the desire of honorable senators is either to be at work or to be free from the necessity of attending here.
– Is it the shearing season?
– Of course I expected that from my honorable friend, but it does not happen to be my shearing sea-‘ son. I am an autumn shearer, so that the gibe passes me by harmlessly, and I do not know that it reflects credit on my honorable friend.
– It was not meant in that way.
– My attendance here will compare, I think, not unfavorably with that of most honorable senators. When there is work to be done I believe that a majority of honorable senators are prepared to attend to carry it through, but we ought not to be brought here merely to, as it were, trifle with the work. I know that there is a sort of general feeling that we ought not to close the Senate for fear of creating a wrong impression outside. If we, being the smaller body, can get through with our work in less time than can the other House, there is no sound sense in keeping us here one moment longer than is necessary.
– Get the Navigation Bill through as quickly as you can.
– It is desirable that the Ministry, as far as the exigencies of public business will allow, should give us work to keep us constantly employed ; and when there does come a gap or a lull, to recognise the fact and adjourn the Senate for a period instead of bringing us over for a half-day’s work a week. I feel sure that in their hearts Ministers quite agree with me. A liberal supply of Bills has been foreshadowed, and I look to Ministers to see that a fair number of the more important measures is introduced here. With regard to some matters there is a difficulty arising out of the Constitution, but this list contains a sufficient number of measures of first class importance, which could be introduced here just as well as in the other House. If Ministers will take that course they will equalize the time which will be required by both branches, and will, I think, find themselves not so jammed towards the end of the session.
– The Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber generally manages to bring upon himself a storm of interjections. I think that he is very largely to blame for that, because, in dealing with various subjects, he does adopt an angry attitude.
– Not at all.
– Of course it represents the honorable senator’s manner rather than his real intention. At the same time, he does occasionally bring in questions and deal with them in a. manner calculated to irritate other senators, and bring upon himself treatment of which he sometimes complains.
– I have never complained of interjections.
– I think that on this occasion the honorable senator has hardly done himself justice in regard to some of the subjects which he dealt with. At the outset, for instance, he brought up the question of the expenses of the delegates to the Imperial Conference. Now, comparisons are always odious, but, notwithstanding that fact, the honorable senator took it upon himself to make comparisons between those who attended the recent Conference and those who attended previous ones. He, therefore, placed me in this position, that in order to do away with the impression which he has endeavoured to create, I, teo, have to draw comparisons. I do not know where the honorable senator got his information as to the expenses of Ministers, because I do not think that a return has yet been tabled; it can be produced whenever it is asked for. I presume that he has gone by what he has read in the press. Let me point out that on this recent occasion Ministers were sent to a Conference at a time just preceding the Coronation of His Majesty the King. I feel sure that it would not be the wish of either the Senate or the country that the Ministers who were sent to that Conference should, immediately it was concluded, skedaddle from the country and return without waiting for the Coronation to take place.
– The honorable senator does not understand me. I found no fault with the increased allowance.
– The honorable senator did not find fault with it in terms, but he endeavoured to contrast it with the allowance paid on previous occasions.
– No, with your past utterances.
– The honorable senator dealt with the matter in that way, and I intend to act similarly. On the recent occasion, the Conference lasted for a longer time than did any previous Conference, possibly because it dealt with a greater variety of subjects, some being of very great importance. That necessitated Ministers representing the Commonwealth in an official capacity remaining in England longer than our delegates at previous Conferences had to do. Mr. Edmund Barton, as Prime Minister of Australia, was our first representative to an Imperial Conference. He was voted on the Estimates the sum of ,£1,850, and no member of Parliament raised any question. Australians are not a mean nation, they believe that their representatives should be able to take up as good a position as the delegates from other countries. No cavil at the expenditure was made by the Opposition or by the Labour party, which was then the third party, or by the members of the Government party. Later we had a member of the Cabinet who was not the Prime Minister going to the Navigation Conference - one which dealt with one subject only, and was held when there was no Coronation, and when, consequently. expenses were not so high as they were on the recent occasion. That Minister was paid the sum of £750. Again, there was no protest or criticism of his action by any member of this Parliament.
– Who was that?
- Sir William Lyne. Neither the Opposition, nor the Labour party, nor the Government party made any cavil. On the recent occasion I had the honour of representing the Commonwealth at an Imperial Conference which dealt with . navigation besides a number of other subjects. I remained for the ceremony of crowning His Majesty, and was given a place at various celebrations as a representative of the Commonwealth, a privilege which I appreciated very much, and my expenses amounted to £joo. As the honorable senator has seen fit to drag this question on to the floor of the Senate, I have been compelled to make that statement.
– What did Mr. D eakin ‘s trip cost?
– I do not know.
– The Minister has taken good care not to quote the cases of those Ministers whose expenses amounted to much smaller sums.
– I have quoted the expenses in corresponding cases. The honorable senator also referred to the parsimony of the present Government in not sending troops to the Coronation. I had some doubts as to our wisdom in not doing so until I saw the procession, and then they were absolutely dispelled. During the second day’s procession I had the advantage of a seat in a stand which was occupied almost entirely by Colonials. Certainly Colonials should have been able to tell Colonial troops if anybody could. One could understand a Londoner or a man from Glasgow being unable to pick out New Zealanders, or Canadians, or Australians. As a matter of fact, there was only one body of troops in that procession which was identified by people sitting near me as Colonials, and these were guessed to be Australians as often as South Africans. There is a rooted idea in the minds of persons all over the world - and there is good ground for it - that the typical Colonial uniform is a khaki uniform with a hat turned up at the side; but, as a matter of fact, the Canadian happens to have two uniforms. They have the service uniform - that is a khaki uniform - but they have also a full-dress uniform which is an imitation of the English regiments’ uniform. The New Zealand men originally had only a service uniform. But on the way to England the idea struck the commanding officer that it would be better to appear in something more showy than the ordinary service uniform, and accordingly he invented a uniform - certainly a most gorgeous one - with the result that people along the line of “route could not identify the New Zealand troops. They were associated with practically every British regiment, but scarcely anybody picked . them out as New Zealand troops. Of course, there were a few who said, “ They do not look like Colonials, but they must be, because they are following the carriage containing Sir Joseph Ward and General Botha.” There was nothing to indicate that they were Colonials, and certainly their uniforms more resembled those of British regiments than any Colonial uniform which I have seen. So that when it is urged that the value of the presence of an Australian contingent at this demonstration lay in the fact that it would have given a magnificent advertisement to Australia, my reply is that ten out of every twelve persons along the line of march_ if asked whether there were .any Australian troops in the procession would reply “Yes.” When the South Africans went past, in five cases out of six they were mistaken for Australians.
– Were there no reviews in which Colonial troops took part?
– No, except on one occasion when the King went down to their camp. But there was not a review in the ordinary sense. There was no public assemblage.
– What about the .occasion when the King inspected the troops at Buckingham Palace?
– There was no public demonstration on that day. It has been said that it would have been a splendid advertisement for Australia to have had troops in London during the Coronation celebrations, and I am merely pointing out that if there was any value to be got out of such an advertisement we got it. I now propose to give the reasons why the Government did not send troops to London. The Ministry hold the view that if we are to represent Australia to the people of Great Britain as we think it ought to be represented, we do not wish to do so as if it were merely a military nation. It is not a military nation. If we desire to give to the people of Great Britain a true idea of what Australia is and what we wish it to be, it must have representa tion in some other form. To cultivate the idea in the minds of Britishers that an Australian is a soldier and nothing more-
– The Government are going to make him a soldier.
– But he is a citizen first and a soldier afterwards. The soldiering part of his duties is merely incidental to the other part. To say that the representation of Australia by a few hundred troops in London would have been a proper representation is not a fact. If we had wished to give a representation of Australian life at the recent Coronation celebrations it ought to have taken some other form.
– Then the Government differ from all the other Dominions?
– That may be so.But there is no harm in our differing from the other Dominions. The question is, Are we right? We think that we are. Another consideration which we had in view was that last year the defence expenditure jumped up about £1,000,000. It will go up considerably this year. Nobody can say that the Parliament or the Government of Australia are not doing their duty in regard to the question of defence. There are plenty of persons who say that we are doing too much. Certainly nobody can say that we are not doing a fair thing. I ask honorable senators to recollect that we are straining every nerve to provide ourselves with an adequate defence scheme, and that our one hindrance is the lack of money. If we had £40,000 to spare we could provide some of the drill halls which the Leader of the Opposition considers are so essential to the training of our youth. Seeing that we have not that money, would we have been justified in spending a similar amount in sending a body of troops to represent us in London? Does anybody doubt our loyalty to the Empire?
– Yes; Sir John Quick.
– To spend £40,000 in sending 300 or 400 troops to Great Britain to assure the people there of our loyalty would have been an unnecessary display, and would only have involved a waste of money. They do not need any such assurance, because they do not doubt our loyalty. Senator Millen took exception to the paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which relates to our naval policy. It reads -
The Naval Agreement arrived at after Conference between Commonwealth representatives and the Admiralty is extremely satisfactory, embodying the policy formulated by the Government, and approved by the people of the Commonwealth.
That is an absolute fact which I shall prove. It is not the first time that that claim has been disputed, and therefore it is opportune for me to supply evidence that it has some backing. First of all, it has this backing : That when every other party in this Parliament - Free Trade and Protectionist alike - was against the establishment of an Australian Navy and in favour of a naval subsidy, the Labour party stood for an Australian Navy.
– Mr. Deakin was always in favour of it.
– Then why did he not bring the proposal forward? As a matter of fact, he was a member of the Government which turned it down, and which introduced the proposal for a naval subsidy.
– He advocated the establishment of an Australian Navy at the Imperial Conference.
– It is true that in 1906 he advocated the creation of an Australian Navy; but it is also true that, in 1903 he was a member of the Government which adopted the naval subsidy in opposition to the votes of the Labour party, which advocated the establishment of an Australian Navy. So that, between 1903 and 1906, his views changed.
– So did circumstances.
– I am not criticising Mr. Deakin for his change of views. Circumstances often alter a situation. I am merely justifying our claim to be the originators of the policy of creating an Australian Navy, on the ground that we were the only party which stood out for it in 4903. Now I come to the question of who originated the Naval Agreement, which, we claim in the Governor-General’s Speech, embodies our policy. I have here the report of the Imperial Naval Conference of 1909 - which contains a report of the resolutions that were agreed to by that body - at which Colonel Foxton, the honorary member of the Fusion Government, represented the Commonwealth. I wish, also, to show what led up to that Conference, what proposals were put before it, where they originated, and how they came before it. The first tangible proposal contained in the document in question - the first tangible proposition of a workable character embodying proposals for an arrangement between the Admiralty and the Australian Government - is headed, “ The GovernorGeneral to the Secretary of State. Received 4.40 p.m., 15th April, 1909.” It sets out a telegram which reads : -
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth- the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth being the Honorable Andrew Fisher - has asked me to submit to your Lordship, for consideration of His Majesty’s Government, the following memorandum on the question of Naval Defence : - “ Whereas all the Dominions of the British Empire ought to share in the most effective way in the burden of maintaining the permanent naval supremacy of the Empire : “ And whereas this Government is of opinion that, so far as Australia is concerned, this object would be best attained by encouragement of naval development in this country so that people of the Commonwealth will become a people efficient at sea, and thereby better able to assist the United Kingdom with men as well as ships to act in concert with the other sea forces of the. Empire : “The views of the present Government, as a basis of co-operation, and mutual understanding, are herewith submitted.”
Then follows a series of thirteen paragraphs embodying the views of the Government as to the method of co-operation, the method of control, what was to happen in peace time, what was to happen in war time, how co-operation could be effected, and how the interchange of ships and men could be effected.
– Is there- anything relating to the type of vessel ?
– Yes. The report shows that what was then contemplated was that a flotilla of torpedo-boat destroyers should at once be constructed by the Commonwealth.
– That was my point. I say that the Labour party advocated a scheme of coastal defence.
– Does the honorable senator say that we desired to provide for only a fleet of torpedo-boat destroyers, and that the Government of which he was a member originated the type of vessel of the fleet unit?
– Our Government originated the type of vessel.
– I have shown who originated the arrangement, so far as a working agreement between the parties was concerned. I will now show who originated the type of ship which is to constitute the fleet unit. I hold in my hand a memorandum which was prepared by the Admiralty authorities, and which is dated 20th July, 1909.
– What Government was then in power?
– The Fusion Government. The Conference upon defence which followed assembled after the 24th July of that year. A cablegram from the Acting Governor of New Zealand reported that the Prime Minister expected to arrive in London on the 24th July, and suggested that the Conference should meet a few days later. But the memorandum to which I refer was drawn up and submitted by the British Admiralty on the 20th July. It states : -
On the 16U1 March of this year statements were made of the growing strength of foreign navies by the Prime Minister and the First Lord of the Admiralty on the introduction of the Navy Estimates for 1909-10.
It goes on to speak of New Zealand having offered a battleship, and of Canada having passed a resolution, and says : -
On the 15th April Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister of the Australian Government, telegraphed that, whereas all the British Dominions ought to share in the burden of maintaining the permanent naval supremacy of the Empire, so far as Australia was concerned this object would be best attained by the encouragement of naval development in that country. (On Mr. Deakin succeeding Mr. Fisher as Prime Minister a further telegram was sent on the 4th June, offering the Empire an Australian Dreadnought, or such addition to its Naval strength as may be determined after consultation in London.)
In view of these circumstances, His Majesty’s Government considered the time was appropriate for the holding of a Conference to discuss afresh the relations of the Dominions to the United Kingdom in regard to the question of Imperial defence, and, on the 30th April, sent an invitation to the Defence Ministers of the four Dominions and the Cape Colonies to attend a Conference under the terms of Resolution 1 of the Conference of 1907, to discuss the general question of the naval and military defence of the Empire, with special reference to the Canadian resolution and to the proposals from New Zealand and Australia.
They then proceed to discuss the naval problem from an Imperial stand-point, and they say : -
Such a fleet unit would be capable of action, not only in the defence of coasts, but also of the trade routes, and would be sufficiently powerful to deal with small hostile squadrons should ever such attempt to act in its waters.
That is where the proposal as to the composition of the unit originated.
– Exactly ; at the Conference.
– No, not at the Conference; it originated in a memorandum from the Admiralty, drawn up before the Conference met.
– The memorandum was submitted to the Conference.
– I know that; and what did the Conference do? I have it here. The Conference adopted in principle exactly what was contained in the Fisher Government’s telegram to the Admiralty as to a working arrangement, and they also adopted, almost exactly in the words submitted, what the Admiralty recommended as to the composition of the fleet unit. What, therefore, becomes of my honorable friend’s claim that his Government originated this idea? I come back to what is stated in the Governor-General’s Speech. It says nothing at all about ships. We make no claim on that ground.- We never claimed that, but only the working agreement, under which those ships were to be controlled; and I point out that that agreement is practically on all-fours with the telegram despatched by the Fisher Government on 10th April, 1909. If honorable senators compare the working agreement which we have brought back with us with the telegram despatched by the Fisher Government as to the mode in which those ships are to be controlled, and how we and the Admiralty are to work together, it will be found that they are identical in their effect. So that the idea as to the nature of the ships originated with the Admiralty, whilst the working agreement originated with the Government which represents the party that has always stood out in Federal politics for an Australian Navy.
– Did the Deakin Government do nothing for the Navy?
– Only peck other people’s brains.
– I come now to the question as to the suggested purchase of post-office sites. What does Senator Millen’s point amount to? He says that certain Ministers differ regarding the purchase of a site for the Sydney Post Office.
– Pardon me; that was not my point at all. My point was that, if sites are to be purchased, it should be done within the knowledge and with the sanction of Parliament.
– The honorable senator raised that point about the Perth Post Office, but the only point he raised regarding the Sydney Post Office, was in his attempt to set Mr. King O’Malley and Mr. Hughes at variance. That is hardly worth taking notice of, because it is, at any rate, clear that Mr. Hughes and Mr. King O’Malley are peacefully working alongside each other in the same Government.
– That was merely an incidental point. My argument was first of all that any proposal made ought to have the sanction of Parliament.
– My honorable friend raised that point in connexion with the Perth Post Office site. What has been done in that connexion is exactly similar to action taken by other Governments ever since Federation commenced. It is obvious that if a Government is going to make a purchase of land it would be foolish of them to put money for the purpose on the Estimates, and let all the world know about it. The result would be that when Parliament, two or three months later, passed the Estimates, the price of the land in question would go up enormously. Senator Millen has been talking this afternoon about increases in land values. I venture to say that we should witness a rise in land values that would eclipse all previous prices if we adopted the method of purchase recommended by him.
– The honorable senator knows very little of business methods if he thinks that that is necessary. The Government could obtain an’ option before submitting a proposal to Parliament.
– What has been done by the present Government was done previously by the Government of which Senator Millen was a member, and by every other Government. It is this : When it is considered to be necessary to obtain land for Federal purposes the Department of Home Affairs first of all satisfies itself as to the value of the land desired. Then that Department obtains the Treasurer’s authority to take the initiatory steps towards purchase. That being done, the Department puts the Lands Acquisition Act into operation, and as soon as Parliament meets it is made acquainted with the proposal, and the money is obtained by a vote.. That is the process that is always followed in connexion with these transactions, and that is the only way in which we can conduct them. What happened in the present case was this : The State Government of VVestern Australia, which owns part of the General Post Office, Perth, notified the Federal Government that they required the whole building. Honorable senators are aware that the buildings occupied by the Federal Government have not yet been finally paid for. This building was partly a transferred property. It is, however, inadequate for the purpose for which it is used, and has been so for a long time. In order that we might, on meeting Parliament, have a definite proposition to bring forward, the Home Affairs Department made inquiries as to the price at which land could be acquired in Perth. They also made an arrangement by which we could obtain land that was considered suitable, and the Treasurer’s sanction was secured. The necessary preliminary steps having been taken, Parliament will be asked in due course to approve of what has been done. I come now to Senator Millen’s references to the referenda. Of course, he is entitled to crow over the result of the referenda. I do not begrudge him his opportunity of crowing. I venture to say that if the referenda had been initiated by honorable senators opposite, and we had won by the substantial numbers that they did, we should have crowed. It all depends, however, on what you are crowing about. What I look at is this : Have the people of Australia anything to crow about? Are they continuing to crow about the result ? I think that they are not. They are beginning to realize that they have something to learn about the matters on which they voted, and they wish now that they knew before what they have since learned. We have the people of Australia to-day paying £3 per ton more for their sugar, whilst this Parliament is absolutely helpless to deal with the question. We know, also, that in die State we Western Australians represent, the Meat Trust has been imitating its stronger brother, the Sugar Trust, in raising prices. There was a little rift in the lute over there a few days ago, when one of Senator Millen’s supporters realized the mistake that had been made at the referendum, and said so in public. The other evening, at Fremantle, Councillor Jones, who has always been against the Labour party, and never hesitated to say so, got up and asked the Mayor to call a public meeting to urge the State Government to deal with the Meat Trust. Councillor Jones said, “ You told me at the referendum that there was no need for the Federal Government to have power to deal with this question of trusts, because the State Government could deal with it. We have been fooled, because we now find that the State Government will do nothing, and I wish we had given power to- the Federal Government. ‘ ‘
– The State Government “ will “ do nothing, or “ can “ do nothing ?
– The present Government will do nothing, but it is to- be hoped that a Government will be chosen that will.
– Then the honorable senator’s argument falls to the ground.
– The honorable senator should write to the Liberal League in Western Australia, and point out that Councillor Jones’ economic knowledge, is at fault.
– No; I should rather be inclined to write to the State Government, and tell them that there is no need to alter the Constitution in order to deal with the Meat Trust.
– I do not think that the people of Western Australia will be inclined to take the honorable senator’s advice any more. What have we to crow about? That certain powers that were asked to be conferred upon this Parliament have been refused to us. Well, who is the gainer? Are the people of Australia any better off because those powers have been refused ? I do not think that can be contended. Nor do I believe that the people -of Australia now see the matter in that light. On the contrary, I think it can be easily demonstrated that the people are worse off, and will continue to be worse off, because it is a fact, as Mr. Hughes has stated, and as Mr. Fisher has also affirmed, that we were asking for powers which, whilst the States had them, could not be used except to a limited extent, whereas the Federal Government could have used them in such a way as to protect the people’s interests effectively. Senator Millen quoted a statement by Mr. Hughes, and another by Mr. Fisher, as though the two conflicted. But do they? Mr. Hughes said, “We only ask for power to do what the States cannot do.” Mr. Fisher said, We only ask for the same powers as the States possess.” I say that both statements can easily be reconciled. That is to say, a State can possess the absolute power to deal with trusts - and that is what we were asking, for, and Mr. Fisher was right in saying we were only asking for the power which the State possesses - and, although it possessed that power, it could not follow a trust an inch beyond its own border.
– The Government were asking for power to deal with a trust within a State:
– It was also true, as Mr. Hughes said, that we were asking for power to do what the States could not do, that is to follow a trust beyond the boundary of a State. I know that Senator Millen is possessed of too keen an intellect not to know that both statements were true, and easily reconcilable.
– I say they represented a flat contradiction.
– I have always herd that the referendum, whilst itself a truly Democratic weapon, is, at the same time, conservative in its operation.
– I suppose that is why the Financial Agreement was defeated.
– I give the honorable senator the benefit of that if he cares to claim it. I make the statement for the reason that people who know the merits of the question vote on them, whilst people who do not know the merits vote only on one side always. That is to say, they say to themselves, “ We do not know what the effect of the proposals will be, but if we vote “ No,” we- shall keep things as they are. We will therefore vote ‘ No.’ If we vote ‘ Yes,’ we shall make an alteration, the effect of which we do not know. We know how things are now. If we vote ‘ No,’ there will be ‘ no alteration, and we will therefore vote ‘No.’” In this way, we always get the votes of those who do not understand the question on the side of the “ Noes,” where they vote at all. I have on that account always held that the referendum has a conservative rather than a progressive tendency. I venture to say that when these questions are submitted again, as they will be-
– In the same form?
– We are not going to bind ourselves to that ; it would be foolish of us to do anything of the kind. It will be time enough when we are faced with the issue for this Parliament to say how the questions shall be submitted.
– The same principles will be submitted.
– That is so, and I venture further to say that if they are defeated again, they will come on again. It has not been the history of the party who launched these questions that once it is defeated it drops out of the running. The whole history of this party has been one series of defeats, followed by the members of the party rising again with the same question until they have finally triumphed. Defeat is no new experience for this party, and when Senator Millen gleefully prophesies that, because the referenda went against our proposals, there is a swing of the pendulum, and public opinion in Australia is now not merely against those proposals, but against the principles advocated by this party, he strikes no terror into any heart on this side of the chamber. We are used to such experiences. We never asked to be placed in a position on the Treasury benches until we had a majority of the people at our back. We have always been the party who demanded one man, one vote, and one vote, one value. We never asked that we should be placed in power to pass certain measures, because a section of the people in a property-elected House voted in a particular way, as has been done on the other side. I can assure Senator Millen that all his dismal prophesies as to what is going to happen in the future will not distress us in the least. .We shall go on as we have done in the past, and as the GovernorGeneral’s Speech shows we are prepared to do in the future, bringing forward measures to give effect to the policy on which we were elected. We have put a progressive policy before the people. If it is not accepted to-day, or this year, we shall continue as a party to advocate it until it is accepted, and then no doubt we shall have our honorable friends on the other side claiming it as their policy.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 -p.m.
– In dealing with die voting upon referenda, we have to remember that we get on the side of the “ Noes “ the votes, not only of those who, because they do not understand the question, vote against any change, but also of those who have been misled on the question. I venture to say that a considerable proportion of the “No” vote in the last referenda was cast by those who were misled. One of the most energetic party organizations in the referenda campaign was established in Victoria under the title of “ The People’s Party.” It is to be noted that these Tory organizations always adopt the most democratic title they can find. I suppose that the organization which flourished under the name of “ The People’s Party,” in common with many others, of the same type, had a common origin in Flinders-street, which appears to be most prolific in the production pf Tory political organizations. This People’s party was evidently made the channel through “ which those who contributed money to bring about the defeat of the legislation against trusts decided to spend it. It was most energetic in the distribution of leaflets throughout the country. It flooded the country with red, black, and white literature on the subject of the referenda.
– And yellow?
– No, it avoided yellow. It was absolutely non-sectarian. I have here a specimen of the kind of statement used by the party organizations of my honorable friends opposite in order to induce people to vote “No” at the referenda.
– They succeeded apparently.
– I have said that they succeeded, because a considerable proportion of those who voted “No” were misled. This document is headed “ The People’s Party.”
– Is the word “ rich “ before the word “ people “ ?
– No. I quote the following -
Three reasons why farmers should vote “ NO ‘” at the referendum : -
To retain present local independence in> State and Municipal affairs.
– Hear, hear - corporations.
– My honorable friend evidently recognises it.
– I re-affirm it.
– As a matter of fact one of the highest counsel in Australia warned us about that, and not “ The People’s Party.”
– The document proceeds -
Issued by The People’s Party, Equitable Buildings, Collins-street.
– Three unanswerable arguments.
– J. Russell. - Is that the party that recently died?
– These parties die between the elections, but they always bob up serenely prior to an election.
– Under a new name.
– Yes, because by the time an election is over the old name has become so discreditable that they must get a new one or render themselves liable under the Vagrancy Act as suspicious characters. Let us look at the first proposition put to the farmers of Victoria, and, I suppose, of Australia generally. They were counselled to vote “ No “ in order to retain their local independence in State - and that was arguable, of course - and in municipal affairs. I say that no one by the wildest stretch of imagination could contend that any one of the proposals would interfere with municipal government or municipal independence in the slightest degree.
– Then Mr. Mitchell was wrong ?
– Yes. Let us look at the second reason -
To guard against threatened export duties on primary products.
Whether any member of the party in Australia is in favour of export duties or not, I ask, What on earth had the referenda to do with the imposition of export duties on primary products ? Senator Millen and every honorable senator opposite must know that if the Government pleased they could today introduce a Bill to impose export duties on primary products, and if every question put to the people at the referenda had been carried, we should not have had a single tittle of power more than we have at present to deal with that question. The People’s party tried to make the farmers believe that the referenda proposals were intended to give the Labour party the power, and that they had the intention to impose export duties on primary products. No one with any sense of honour will refuse to admit that that is a direct misrepresentation, or that any person who was induced to vote “ No “ because of that second reason was misled.
– Does the honorable member say that no member of the Ministry has said that he is in sympathy with an export duty on primary produce?
– I do not say anything of the kind. The members of the Ministry may be sympathetic with silver coinage for all I know. I am not their father confessor, but I do know that the question referred to has not been placed upon the Labour platform, and that neither this nor any other Labour Government has ever made a proposal to that effect. Even though every member of the Ministry and of the party believed in an export duty on primary products, it would have nothing to do with the question. It would be like “the flowers that bloom in the spring.” The question was whether we were seeking these powers in order to impose export duties on primary products, and the only answer that could be given to that was “ No.” We had the power to do so, if we chose, before the referendum.
– The Minister of Customs the other day said that he was sympathetic with it.
– What has that to do with the matter? Because some of my honorable friend’s colleagues believe in black labour, would it be fair to argue that he wished the proposals of the referenda to be defeated in order that black labour might be introduced?
– Which of Senator Walker’s colleagues believes in black labour.
– I have my doubts about Senator St. Ledger himself. I have heard quotations from his speeches which had a very doubtful ring in them.
– Every statement from this side has a doubtful ring in the honorable senator’s ears.
– The honorable senator has said that over and over again, and I dare say he will continue to repeat it.
– With regard to No. 3 - that the people should vote “ No “ to prevent the nationalization of land - I ask what on earth had the referenda to do with the land question?
– Will the honorable senator allow me to show him in one sentence. The Government proposed to nationalize monopolies ?
– And did they not declare land to be monopoly?
– Is that the connexion ? Does not the honorable senator know that in that sense this Parliament has now the power to nationalize land?
– No, we have not; under the Constitution we cannot touch a single acre.
– The honorable senator should know that we have that power. If he requires confirmation of the fact, let him appeal to Senator Vardon, who, when the Land Tax Bill was going through last session, declared that it was confiscation and robbery.
– Hear, hear !
– Because, the honorable senator contended, it confiscated the economic rent. If this Parliament has the power - and the High Court says it has - to confiscate a portion of the economic rent of land, it has the power - and had it before the referenda were taken - to confiscate the whole economic rent of land. This Parliament had, therefore, before the referenda, the power to nationalize land.
– No; to confiscate land.
– Confiscation, taxation, or purchase are only means to an end. The matter referred to in this leaflet is the nationalization of land, and an appeal is made to the farmer to vote “ No,” because, if he votes “ Yes,” and assists to carry the referenda proposals, he will be supplying this Parliament with an instrument by which it can nationalize land. In that sense it is an absolute fabrication ; it is untrue in fact. The three statements, with the exception of that part of the first one which refers to State independence - and that is arguable - are simple lies. This is only a sample of the literature - no doubt bounty-fed literature - with which the Commonwealth was flooded, and under these pretences farmers in thousands no doubt voted “No,” believing that they were preventing the Federal Parliament from interfering with municipal affairs, from imposing export duties on primary products, and nationalizing the land ; whereas the fact is that their “ no” vote or their “ yes “ vote could not affect in the slightest iota any one of those three questions. Senator
Millen is greatly concerned about the little troubles which occur from time to time in the Federal and State Labour parties.
– Not greatly concerned j it is rather the other way about.
– I can well understand the honorable senator being much” concerned in that regard. Whenever we have lived for a time with a family in a district, and find it desirable to go elsewhere, we always retain a distant interest in the people upon whom we have turned our back. In the days which are gone Senator Millen had some little association with the Labour party, and therefore he naturally feels an interest in the small family troubles which occur from time to time therein. As regards his attempt to show the country that there has been any serious discord or any want of solidarity in our party, I want to tell the people whom he has been addressing, and whom I also hope to reach, that the Financial Agreement was a question which concerned the Federal Labour party. The interpretation of that plank lay with this party, and with no State Labour party. The Federal Labour party interpreted that platform, and I challenge Senator Millen to name one single Labour candidate throughout Australia who did not support the Financial Agreement.
– What is the heresy hunt in New South Wales about?
– Can the honorable senator claim the same cohesion for his party? Certainly in New South Wales there were State politicians who disagreed with the interpretation which the Federal Labour party put on that plank, but they were in the position of the ordinary man in the ranks. The power to interpret that platform had been placed with the Federal Labour party, and not with any State Labour party in Australia. In the same way the power of interpreting the State platform has been reposed in the State Labour party, and we have no more right to interfere than has an ordinary man in the organization.
– I do not dispute that. I only say that the interpretation is not accepted by the whole party. I was not speaking of a member of the parliamentary Labour party when I used the term. The Minister forgets that there is a party behind that party.
– I come to the honorable senator’s criticism of our attitude on immigration. There was a time when the Labour party was hostile to immigration. We were perfectly honest about our attitude. We said that under the conditions existing up to the time the Labour party got into power immigration had simply been a policy to bring in cheap labour, lt was a policy which on the one hand locked up the lands of Australia, and therefore prevented the access of labour thereto, and which on the other hand would flood the country with labour in an overstocked labour market, and thereby bring about a decrease in wages and worse labour conditions. We always said, whether in the Federal or the State Labour party, that if we had the power to deal with the land question, and could apply our remedy, in our opinion there was room in Australia for millions of white people. When we obtained the power we did place on the statute-book a measure to open up the lands of Australia, and we are proud to say - and we have made the statement in the opening Speech - that it is having that effect. It is doing more than that, for it is the best immigration agent which Australia has had for many a long year, as is shown by the immigration returns. Senator Millen spoke of cheap land for the farmers of Australia. Which party stands for cheap land for the farmers? Is it the party with which the honorable senator is now associated? It is notorious that that party, whether in the State or the Federal sphere, has always been the one which has been prepared to give land in huge blocks to big corporations, and which has never taken any step to give the land to the people who wanted to use it.
– That is not correct.
– It is absolutely correct. It is the Labour party throughout the States and in the Federation which has been fighting always for land for the man who wanted to use it. Our endeavour has always been to burst up the big estates which prevented farmers from getting areas, and no better weapon to that end has ever been forged than the progressive land tax which was passed last session.
– And land is dearer to-day.
– It would be much dearer without the tax.
– Let us see who is making land available to-day. Senator Millen quoted the number of thousands of acres being made available in New South Wales. I venture to say that during his term of office Mi. Neilsen has thrown open more land than has any other Minister for Lands.
– The honorable senator is absolutely wrong; the official figures show’ the contrary.
– In the press of New South Wales I have seen figures which show that that is a fact. The honorable senator, using this argument in another connexion, said that New South Wales was throwing open thousands of acres of land, naming the number. When he looks over his proofs to-morrow he will find that he quoted figures given to the press by Mr. Neilsen himself.
– Pardon me, I never used any of Mr. Neilson’s figures in connexion with land.
– The honorable senator will see that he did.
– No, I only used the figures which Mr. McGowen used when he stated that 26,000,000 acres’ were available.
– The Labour Government in South Australia is also making land available. One of the planks on which the Labour party in Western Australia is fighting the elections is “ cheaper land for the people.” Its contention is that for some time the Government has been raising the price of land to the genuine settler, and has inaugurated a policy which I referred to a little while ago, and by which certain men are able to get huge blocks to the detriment of the genuine settler. We did not say in the opening Speech that land was cheaper; what we said was that land was available. There is all the difference in the world between land being cheap and not available and land being dear and yet available. That is the position to-day. As soon as the land tax was brought into effect in Tasmania, the Van Diemen’s Land Company - one of the biggest land monopolies in these States - saw fit to change the policy of half a century, and its property has been purchased by a company with the deliberate intention of being cut’ up and sold in small estates. The Western Australian Midland Railway Company - a twin brother of the- other company - is taking energetic steps to dispose of a large quantity of its land, lt is providing homes, fencing, and clearing, and bringing immigrants from England in order to get its land on the market and avoid the land tax. You cannot pick up the newspapers of any State without noticing that estate after estate is coming into the market which has been locked up for half a century and more.
– This has been going on for live years in New South Wales.
– In Victoria only a few years ago the tenant farmers on a neighbouring estate waited on the owner of an estate situated at a little distance from Ballarat, and asked him to subdivide it and sell, but he point-blank refused. Within six months of the land tax coming into effect this estate was put on the market. These are only isolated instances; they can be multiplied. Every honorable senator can give similar instances throughout the States.
– With all this land coming on to the market the price is still dearer.
– I am going to ask Senators Millen and Vardon to have a little colloquy, because their remarks are mutually destructive. If, as Senator Millen has said, the land tax is not having the effect of breaking up big estates, then Senator Vardon must be wrong, because the latter said that our policy was one of confiscation and robbery. Now, if estates are not being broken up, there is no confiscation, and, therefore, no robbery, because the estates are still in the hands of the original owners. Before my honorable friends get up here and make these wild and whirling charges, they should confabulate outside, and come to a common agreement as to which horse they are going to whip. I come to Senator Millen’s statement on the floor of the “ Chamber. In answer to interjections from this side, and Somewhat heatedly, evidently without weighing what he had been saying, -and after he had been arguing for a quarter of an hour to prove that land was not available, he said that men are selling land more freely to-day, and at a better price, than they ever did. That is what we said would be the_ effect pf the land tax.
– Did you state that it would be sold at a higher price?
– Yes; we said that one result would be that the land tax would bring so much fertile land into use that, whilst one tendency might be to lower thi: values, die increased prosperity brought about by the increased settlement would tend to bring values back to their original level. Senator Millen’s statement shows that that is exactly what is being done. 1 now come to the question of the defence scheme. My honorable friend mentioned - and I recognise that he spoke in no captious spirit - that at the inauguration of that scheme some of the boys felt the arduous nature of the task given to them, and that there were some cases of boys fainting. That is by no means peculiar to this particular scheme, because I can remember a case which occurred under the old cadet system where, on one parade, not fewer than eighteen boys fainted on a hot summer’s day. That arose, not from a particular scheme, but from an over zealous or foolish officer giving lads too severe a drill under inclement conditions.
– Is there not a possibility of the medical examination not having been quite severe enough?
– That may be the case. We are having an investigation of the methods under which the medical examination was conducted, and the low percentage would seem to suggest that, perhaps, a more rigid one should be carried out. I regret, as anybody must regret, the instances which have occurred. But I attribute them to the fact that the majority of the area officers and the noncommissioned officers who were detailed were young. They were naturally eager to get to work, and do the best they could. I attribute what has happened rather to overzeal than to any intent on their part to do an injury to the lads.
– No one would suggest that.
– I think that they have been over zealous, giving too much drill, and the lads, not being used to drill, have felt the exercise rather much. Some time ago when the Vice-President of the Executive Council was acting for me, an instruction was issued that these officers were to use a little more discretion, that they were not to make the drill so arduous, and that they were to fit it to the physical capabilities of the lads. That is now being done, with the result that we hear no complaints. I ha%’e no knowledge of any want of accommodation for the carrying out of the medical inspection, but I am aware that there is a lack of accommodation for drill purposes. It is easy to see how that arises. To-night, we have some 80,000 or 90,000 lads drilling in various parts of Australia. Twelve months ago scarcely any of them were undergoing drill, and surely we cannot expect that in one short year adequate accommodation can be provided to that extent. If we were to provide halls for the whole of the cadet force, it would cost us upwards of £1,000,000.
– Cannot the accommodation be rented?
– We might as well erect halls of our own as rent them, because in the latter case we would be obliged to pay interest on the capital sum.
– A hall might be used for drill purposes only one night a week.
– When we come to rent premises, we have to pay a pretty stiff rent, and in most cases it would pay us better to erect a hall of our own than to rent one. Senator Millen has referred to our “ loafing “ upon somebody. Let us look at this question. Throughout the Commonwealth, the various municipalities, roads boards, and district councils - bodies of taxpayers - have erected halls. Anybody who goes through our country districts will see these halls in darkness upon five nights out of seven. Very often there are offices in them, which are occupied only during the daytime. These buildings are the property of the people - of the very taxpayers who would have to build drill halls if we decided to erect them. They are the same people, I repeat, and it is nonsensical that we should spend public moneys in erecting drill halls in townships where there already exist halls, which are unoccupied when we might be using them. We have made an appeal through the State Governments to the various authorities I have mentioned, and I am glad to say a very large number of them have responded to that appeal. We have told them that we are willing to pay for any damage which may be done by the cadets, and that we are also prepared to pay for the lighting. All we ask is that, wherever accommodation exists, the people who own that accommodation should make it available to themselves.
– In all these country centres, is not the chief revenue that which is derived from halls which are let for dancing purposes?
– We do not expect to get halls of that description placed at our disposal. The local authorities would not lend them to us, for the simple reason that the drills would spoil the floor. But in nearly all these halls there are rooms in which we could store equipment, and where the area officer could do his work. Generally, too, there is a show ground where the lads could drill upon an earthen floor. I am glad to say that the people are bringing pressure to bear upon these various bodies to induce them to grant us the necessary ac commodation. As time goes on, we will provide all the accommodation that is required, if Parliament will vote the money. But the thing must be done gradually. Coming to the question of the area officers, I am sorry that the Leader- of the Opposition has such a very short memory. If he had only cast his mind back to the time when he introduced the Defence Bill, and to Lord Kitchener’s report, which was made afterwards, he would have remembered that one of the questions which Lord Kitchener specially stressed was that each area should eventually be placed under the charge of a graduate from the Military College. Dealing with the transitional period through which we are now passing, that distinguished officer went so far as to say -
I do not consider that any of the officers now serving should be transferred to the staff corps, which ought to be entirely formed from the graduates of the Military College, but in order to enable the officers so appointed to areas during the transition period to give instruction to the new force, I would put such officers, when necessary, through a short course in the duties of an area officer. For this purpose I have put in the Estimates, funds sufficient to provide additional instructors.
Lord Kitchener recognised that during the transitional period, we” would require to have some officers acting as a stop-gap - that we could not have them as permanent officers. The only permanent officers we could have were the non-commissioned officers and instructors. We have followed his recommendations in that regard absolutely. He says -
Under this system it is evident that the responsibilities of the area officer will make it a national necessity that he should be a carefullyselected man, thoroughly grounded and trained in his profession, and scientifically educated. No social considerations, no influence, nothing but efficiency should be allowed, to affect the selection and promotion of these officers. Their work should be judged by results alone.
He goes on to say that, in the United States, the West Point Military College supplies that particular class of officer, and recommends us to establish a similar college. He recommends that we should set up a staff corps which should be entirely drawn from the Military College, that the graduates should be sent abroad for a term, and that upon their return they should be placed in charge of the various areas.
– How many years does the Minister anticipate will elapse before they will be in command of the areas?
– Three years from the end of the present year the cadets who entered last year will come from the Military College. They will then go for a year’s training either to India or England, and upon their return they will’ be sent out to the different areas. From that time there will be a gradual flow from the College into those areas. Consequently, what we had to do was to appoint the best men in Australia to these areas to carry on for the time being. If we had taken these men from their civil avocations and turned them adrift in four years’ time, we would have inflicted considerable hardship upon them”. Accordingly we decided, with Lord Kitchener’s approval - he knows what has been done, and he told me in London that he thought we had done the best thing under the circumstances - to appoint the best militia officer available to insure an efficient administration. All that the area officer has to do is to supervise that administration and we have limited the amount of time that he is called upon to sacrifice to not more than four days in one quarter. His duties have been defined, and every individual who applied for the position of an area officer knows exactly what he is expected to do. Under the circumstances we find that these officers are doing their work as well as can be expected of them. Indeed, I think that considerable credit is due to them for the way in which they have done their work. We have not had any serious complaints that they have been overworked. I wish now to draw attention to the fact that the Military College is not under the Public Service Act, and that the accountant of the college is not subject to the Public Service Commissioner. The man who has been appointed, Binnie, was in the temporary employment of the Department of Home Affairs. His name was on the Public Service Inspector’s list of applicants for temporary employment. The practice in all the Departments is that when an officer is to be appointed outside the Public Service Act resort is had to the list in the Public Service Inspector’s office of the State concerned, and a man is taken from there. If suitable, he is appointed on probation. That is exactly what has_ been done in Binnie’s case. He is simply carrying on the work on probation, and the question of his permanent appointment will come up later.
– If he proves to be a satisfactory officer he will be retained?
– Yes. That practice has been in vogue for some time. If Ministers had to attend to appointments of this kind their whole time would be taken up by them. 1 do not know that there are any other points to which I need devote attention. In our opinion the policy put forward by the Government is a progressive one, although it is not as progressive as we would like it to be. We would like to have had power to deal with many of the evils from which the people of Australia are suffering to-day - notably with the trusts which are flourishing here. But the people have not given us that power, and if they prefer to leave the matter where it now stands we must bow to their will. But when they have had a little more experience of these commercial trusts I believe they will recognise the wisdom of giving us the fullest power to effectively cope with them.
– Personally, I do not think much is to be gained as a rule by having a debate on the Address-in-Reply. But on this occasion I desire to say a few words. The Vice-Regal Speech is an inordinately long one, and its value seems to be infinitesimal. It starts with a note of congratulation on the continued general prosperity of the Commonwealth, and concludes with the expression of a pious hope that under Divine guidance our deliberations may promote the welfare of the people.
– Surely that is in order.
– I should have liked to see an addition made to the first paragraph. There should have been, not only a note of congratulation on the continued general prosperity of the Commonwealth, but a tribute of thanksgiving to God for bestowing such blessings upon us. One of the chief matters referred to is contained in paragraph 20 of the Speech -
My Advisers regret the result of the referenda vote in April last. They are very strongly of the opinion that the ever-increasing exactions of the Trusts make an extension of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth imperative.
If the Government had been content to put that matter in. a paragraph by itself at the referenda, and to ask the people to give to the Federal Government the power which was required for the purpose of dealing with trusts and combines, they would have obtained what they wanted.
– It was contained in a question by itself.
– No, it was not. The question was mixed up with others. I have no doubt that there was sincere regret on the part of the Government at the defeat of their referenda proposals. We heard last session about a certain mandate which the Government had secured to carry out that kind of legislation. But the people’s verdict on 26th April last was entirely against giving the power asked for. Today it seems to me there is a mandate from the people to resist in all possible ways this particular kind of legislation.
– To resist it?
– Yes, to resist the proposals put forward at the time when the referenda were taken. Because, after all, the proposition of the Government was to make a radical alteration in the Constitution, the effect of which would have been to change the form of government from a Federation to a Unification. There was an attempt to .take away from the States their rights of self-government, and to hand some of their powers over to the Commonwealth. It has been said that the people voted “ No” because they did not understand the question. I claim that the people voted “ Yes “ when they did not understand it. It was the duty of the Opposition to educate the people as to what the proposals really meant, and the people understood what was intended, with th’e result that they turned the propositions down. We were informed that if the proposals of the Government were rejected, others would be put forward which would make us fall down with fright.
– Is the honorable senator sticking to the old gag still?
– Was not that said?
– lt was denied times out of number.
– The statement was not denied, but a different interpretation was placed upon it.
– At any rate, the people gave a very emphatic answer, and their decision was that they did not want the legislation foreshadowed, and were not going to have it. If, as the Minister of Defence says, the same propositions are to be put forward again, I venture to think that the people will give the same answer. The effect of the referenda was to discredit altogether the representatives of the Government in England. People’ could not understand how it was that a Government which had been defeated when its policy was submitted to the country remained in office. I was asked the question over and over again - “ Why does not the Government resign?” Of course, there was a very good reason for their not doing so. Senator W. Russell, in moving the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, made no reference whatever to the severe defeat of his party. Instead, he simply turned round and indulged in vulgar personal abuse of myself.
– That is untrue.
– Order. The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
– Well, I will say that the honorable senator’s statement is incorrect ; if he says that I made a vulgar statement, I deny it.
– I repeat that the honorable senator simply indulged in vulgar personal abuse of myself.
– I ask, Mr. President, that you will compel Senator Vardon to withdraw, the expression that I made vulgar remarks.
– The President has called upon Senator Russell to withdraw a remark which he made, and he has not done so. He ought to obey the Chair before asking for its protection.
– I understood that Senator W. Russell did obey the Chair by substituting the remark that Senator Vardon’s remark was incorrect.
– I will proceed.
– A statement has been made by Senator Vardon to which another honorable senator takes exception. I think the honorable senator should withdraw it.
– I ask whether what I have said is out of order?
– I cannot rule that the word “vulgar” is out of order. I simply point out that it is objected to by another honorable senator, and ask Senator Vardon, in courtesy, to withdraw it.
– I am quite willing to modify the term which I used, though I can find no other word that expresses my feeling so well. I do not intend to reply in any way to that personal abuse to which I have referred.
– The honorable senator started it, all the same.
– I beg pardon; I never abused anybody.
– In Fremantle the honorable senator did.
– The honorable ‘ senator seems to me to have a mind that is constitutionally foul, and his abuse of myself was simply intended to divert attention from the results of the referenda.
– That is not correct, and the honorable senator knows it. If he had not abused Mr. Fisher, I should not have said a word
– There is a creature that lives in the sea and belongs to the calamary family or order. The peculiarity of this thing is that when it is hard pressed it emits a filthy dark fluid, under ‘cover of which it is usually able to scuttle away. The popular name for the creature is “ squid.” All that I need say is that, while I do not intend to reply to Senator W. Russell’s abuse, I shall always remember him as Calamary Russell, or, if he prefers the popular name, he can call himself Squid Russell. Reference is made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to the Imperial Conference. I have not yet had an opportunity of reading the proceedings of that Conference, but, as far as’ I am able to judge from the newspaper reports, its results were, generally speaking, of a negative character. I cannot understand the want of backbone shown by our own representatives with regard to the Declaration of London. I cannot understand why, although they went to London with a motion to oppose the Declaration, they eventually gave way and assented to it - gave way, too, in face of the opposition of nearly all the Naval authorities, and in face of resolutions by chambers of commerce pointing out the danger to our own trade. We, I suppose, shall have now to take the risks arising from the Declaration. Reference is made in the Speech to the working of the progressive land tax. It is said -
The progressive tax on land values is having a satisfactory effect on land settlement, and is attracting a desirable class of immigrants.
The wonderful thing is that this should have been accomplished in so short a time. Almost immediately after the tax was imposed we are led to believe that it has had a desirable effect in attracting immigrants. I am under the impression that the good seasons we have had during the last six or seven years have had something to do with the advancement of the price of land and the throwing of areas open for settlement. The advance in price has simply made it more profitable to cultivate than to feed sheep upon the land.
– Good wages contribute to higher prices.
– Only one instance was given to us as to the effect of the land tax. That was quoted by Senator W’. Russell, who said that, on. Mr. Maslin’s estate in South Australia, the land tax took two-fifths of the value of the property. The effect was that the owner could not afford to keep the estate for pastoral purposes, and was willing to cut it up and allow it to be sold for agricultural purposes.
– And it was said that the estate would carry one hundred people.
– I am very glad to know that it would. But what man with small capital is able to go and’ buy land at between £fi and £j an acre and work it? What is a small man to do with land bought at that value?
– He could live in luxury on the money he would get from it.
– How is he to get the money to purchase it? It is here that the small man finds the difficulty. He must get cheaper land. Lands are being opened up by nearly every State. A most extraordinary statement was made to-night by the Minister of Defence - that the imposition of the land tax had actually resulted in opening up large estates, and in inducing further settlement.
– So it has.
– I hold in my hand a pamphlet, issued by the South Australian Government in August, 1908. It was published by authority of the Hon.. L. O’Loughlin, M.P. and Commissioner of Crown Lands. I do not think this was part of a Labour platform or the policy of the Labour Government, nor was this Commissioner of Crown Lands a member of a Labour Government.
– Was he not a member of the Price Government?
– He was not a member of a Labour Government. He issued this pamphlet, and, at page 9, he says with regard to lands -
Government land may be obtained on perpetual lease or an agreement to purchase. In the former case the rental will vary from £d. to 4s. per acre. If taken on purchase, the price will be from 2s. 6d. to about £8 per acre, which can be paid in sixty half-yearly payments with a low rate of interest added. In either case the maximum to be held by one person is not to exceed £5,0000 worth.
Miscellaneous leases of twenty-one years’ tenure may be taken up of sites for shops, &c, and in a few cases, for grazing and cultivation, the rental to be fixed.
Land for grazing may be taken, capable of carrying 5,000 sheep, at a low rental, and in dry areas 10,000 sheep.
Pastoral areas in outside country can be had for twenty-one or forty-two years at rentals of from is. 6d. to £1 per square mile.
Then’ he deals with re-purchased lands, and he says -
Large estates in farming districts are purchased by the Government, subdivided, and offered in suitably sized blocks for profitable occupancy. The price at which farmers can get blocks of these lands varies according to quality, but must be sufficient to recoup the Government the cost of purchase.
Re-purchased lands must be taken on agreement to purchase ^2,000 worth unimproved value, improved blocks and grazing land up to j£4>o°° worth. The purchase money must be paid in seventy half-yearly instalments. The first ten payments will be of interest only, which will be at 4 per cent, on the purchase money. Purchase may be completed by paying the balance of the purchase money after holding the land nine years.
Then he refers to lands about to be thrown open, and he says -
Lands will soon be available for selection in Port Lincoln district, 147,000 acres ; east of Murray Bridge, 111,000 acres; east of River Murray, 120,000 acres; Kangaroo Island, 352,000 acres. Land east of River Murray, 415,000 acres, and at Hynam, near Naracoorte, south-east, 38,600 acres, will be available about November next.
This was issued in 1908, before any progressive land tax was imposed, and before the present Government came into power. I could give, if honorable senators needed them, particulars from Western Australia and other States to show that these things were going on before the imposition of any progressive land tax, and before the present Federal Government came into power. It is all very well to talk about this tax and the effect it has had, and to say that it is not an excessive tax. But I hold that if we tax the economic value out of a man’s land, we rob him of that land. What is the effect of the tax on the owners of factories and warehouses in large centres of population? Are their lands burst up and subdivided ? The effect in those cases is simply to increase the cost of production, send up the cost of the goods a man makes for sale, and put the burden of that extra cost on to the consumer. There is no getting away from that. I notice, in paragraph 12 of the Governor-General’s Speech, a reference to the question of Protection. To my mind, it is a very unsatisfactory paragraph. It says -
The effect of the Tariff upon Australian industries is being carefully watched by my Ad visers, with a view to revision wherever the information obtained by them shows this to be necessary. 1 have never posed here as a high Protectionist, but I admit that, as a Commonwealth, we have adopted a policy of Protection. I am quite sure that that policy will not be changed for a good many years, or until there is a change in public opinion demanding it, which I think is a long way off. But as a system of Protection has been .adopted, I think we have a right to see that the Tariff bears equally on all industries.
– How can we do it ?
– I see no difficulty in the way of doing it. To refuse to rectify all anomalies because certain propositions have been rejected is very unfair to manufacturers, and also to the public.
– How does that apply to the hustings speeches of honorable senators on the question of the new Protection ?
– As I understand it. the new Protection proposal is that this Parliament is to have the right, not only to impose a duty, but to fix the wages in any particular industry, and the price of the goods to the consumer.
– What is wrong about that ?
– We have a right to impose protective duties for the establishment of Australian industries, and to provide work for our people. The question of wages is being legislated for in nearly every State of the Commonwealth.
– Admitting that, what regulates the price to the consumers?
– The cost of production regulates the price to the consumer. If the honorable senator is going to take it upon himself to fix duties and wages, and also the price to the consumer, he is going to undertake a very big task. More than that, I say it is an economic impossibility. The cost of production must at all times regulate the price to the consumer. It is the consumer who must pay at all times. I admit that the question of wages is important, but I say that to-day efforts are being made in every State to see that the workman gets a fair return for his labour.
– Does not the Tariff affect the cost of production?
– Of course it does. If a duty is imposed upon raw material it must affect the cost of the production of the finished article made from that material. But the consumer has to pay the duty and the higher wages” whatever they may be. The burden must be upon the consumer and it is impossible to put it on any one else. J think experience has proved that the Tariff is in need of revision. We ought to undertake to make it complete and just to all parties concerned. The Government have no right to put a paragraph of this character into the Governor-General’s Speech, and say simply out of a spirit of petty spite, “ Because you have not carried certain proposals which we laid before you we shall leave the Tariff as it is, or touch it very gingerly.” The revision of the Tariff ought to be taken up. Where there are anomalies, and the Tariff bears hardly upon certain people, relief should be afforded, and we should not shirk the task because some people are displeased with the result of the submission of certain proposals to the public.
– If honorable senators promised the ‘ electors that they would take a certain course, what would the honorable senator have them do?
– I am speaking of what ought to be done in a spirit of justice. If honorable senators choose to make pledges which they ought not to make. I have nothing to do with that. There is a reference in the Speech to the Western Australian railway in paragraph 15, and in paragraph 17 a further reference to the Northern Territory.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Senate. - [Quorum formed.’]
– I have no objection to the construction of the Western Australian railway.
– How generous the honorable senator is.
– I usually am generous ; I wish the honorable senator were so. I believe that the proposed gauge of 4 ft. in. is the right gauge on which to build the railway, but I do not see any reference to a railway so far as the Northern Territory is concerned. I see no mention of any policy for the administration of that Territory. I do see, however, by reports coming in every day that it is in a state of chaos, and dissatisfaction exists in regard to pretty well everything connected with it. If the Northern Territory is to be properly administered and developed a railway from south to north is as necessary as a railway from east to west.
If the railway is to be one to develop the resources of the Territory it must be constructed right through the centre of it. If the Government had said that they intended to extend the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line for another 200 miles, and carry it to the MacDonnell Ranges at once, the ‘deficit on the line that now appears so large would bc very considerably reduced, because it would be carried into profitable country. There would be more traffic for the line,, and it would become more nearly reproductive than it is at the present time. As a matter of justice to South Australia and to the Northern Territory itself the Government should have stated distinctly their policy with regard to the Territory, how they intended to develop it, whether they intended to construct the railway, how soon, and by what route. Unless this is done I do not see how we can hope satisfactorily to develop the Territory. I trust that when we are considering the question of railways we shall demand, not only that the railway to Western Australia, but that the line to Port Darwin also shall be constructed within a reasonable time. I noticed a reference, not in the Governor-General’s Speech, but in the Supply Bill we passed last night, to the matter of advertising the resources of the Commonwealth. There was in the Supply Bill an item of £5,000 put down for the purpose of advertising the Commonwealth, but nothing to show how the advertising is to be carried on, or what shape it is to take. Certainly Australia had a very poor show in London. There were no soldiers representing the Commonwealth in the Coronation procession.
– Are they a reproductive asset ?
– I am not sure that they would not have been a reproductive asset. Notwithstanding all the apologies of the Minister of Defence just now, I think it was a crying shame that Australia was not represented in any way at the Coronation.
– Rats !
– It was not represented by a soldier or by any demonstration in the streets.
– Was not the honorable senator there?
– Yes, but I could not be all over the place at once. Of course, wherever I went, people admired me, and thought that I was a fine specimen of an Australian, but I could not be everywhere. -
– I hope that they did not think that the members of this party were like the honorable senator.
– T am not sure that the honorable senator himself would have made a very grand demonstration, so far as Australia is concerned, if he had happened to be there. I regret that there is not a Commonwealth soldier with a Coronation medal on his breast. I am sorry, too, that the cadets who went from New South Wales were treated so shabbily. Not being recognised in any way, it was very difficult even for them to get a Coronation medal. So far as advertising Australia is concerned, the States were altogether behindhand. I do not blame the Commonwealth altogether for that position. The AgentGeneral for South Australia told me that he did all he possibly could to urge his Government to make some show at the Crystal Palace, but he was refused an opportunity. That, I think, was a great pity, lt was exactly the same with regard to the Crystal Palace and the White City. At the Crystal Palace I saw a notice with an index pointing to Wild Australia. I expected to find an advertisement for the Commonwealth, but instead of that I found some dummy figures of Ned Kelly and his bushranging gang. I went afterwards to the White City. There I saw an advertisement for Australia, and when I went to see what it- was like I saw three fellows on old screws galloping round, and was told that inside there was a performance going on. I went in to see what it was, and found that it was a representation of the Ned Kelly gang, and the most screamingly funny thing in the way of bushranging which one could imagine, Is that the kind of thing which we want to advertise? Is a thing which happened a quarter of a century ago always to be held up in London as an advertisement for Australia ?
– Who is responsible for that?
– I suppose that the authorities in London are responsible. We ought to take some step to counteract this silly rubbish. We should let the people know that bushranging has long ago passed and is gone, and we ought to be doing a great deal more. There was a sum of £5,000 appropriated for advertising Australia. I want to know how it is to be spent, and what sort of advertisement we are to get. I went down to the great Agricultural Show at Norwich, and there I saw a model of a house which is put up for settlers in Canada, and a booth chock full of literature, with a small platform outside, from which, every half hour, a man descanted on the advantages of Canada. We have nothing of that sort going on. If our country is as good as I believe it to be, it is worth advertising. From London I returned in the company of a high civil servant of New South Wales who had been to Canada. He told me that, as regards settlement, Canada did not compare with Australia. Another gentleman who had spent some months in Canada, and who had been in Australia, told me that, as regards natural advantages, the former could not compare in any way with the latter. The only advantage which Canada has is that it is a good deal nearer to the Old Country. A man can go to Canada in a week, and, if he does not like it, he can return for £5. The proposal to buy a site in London for Commonwealth offices is, I think, a very good one, and an admirable site has been selected. If the Commonwealth offices are established in that locality, and surrounded by the State offices, it will concentrate attention on Australia, and no longer will a person in need of information have to go from the West End to the East End, and from the Strand to other places. On the contrary, he will go to one spot, and there get information about any State, and also information from the Commonwealth office itself. I hope that the proposal to buy this site will be accepted. I believe that it will be a good investment in every, way, and certainly to the advantage of Australia, for the site is a splendid one. 1 want to make a few remarks about the military regulations. I find that with regard to certain officers there has been a reduction of the age of retirement, “but no notice of this vital change seems to have been given to any of the officers. Moreover, it was made retrospective, and not prospective. In South Australia there is one officer who has, I think, been very hardly dealt by. He asked for leave which he was entitled to on account of the services he had rendered. He got this leave on 10th December. His retiring age, as he understood it when he went away, was sixty-two years. When he was in England, in March, he received a cable telling him that the regulation had been altered, arid that the retiring age for his class had been reduced to fifty-eight years. If this alteration was contemplated before he went on leave he ought to have been informed accordingly. His leave ought, I think, to have been refused. In that case he might have gone on to the end of his term and got the full leave which he was entitled to at the end of his service. Instead of that, he was allowed to engage return passages for himself and his wife, which meant a very considerable loss to him, before he received any intimation of the change, and he is to get no recompense. This is a hard case. I think that if this regulation had to be made, it should have been made to apply to officers joining the service in the future, and not to men already in the service. Tt seems to me that a very grave injustice is done to a man who has rendered services to the Commonwealth to the best of his ability. I hope that if representations of this character are made to the Minister of Defence, he will give them careful consideration, and see that injustices of this kind are not perpetrated. If officers are to be treated in that way, it will ‘bring the Commonwealth into disgrace. It is not acting fairly to the men who have been called upon to do service for us. Reference has been made to the cadets and to the drills which they are called upon to undergo. I understood, when the Defence Bill was being discussed here, that the Junior Cadets were simply to be put through athletic exercises and plain drill, and that no rifle, not even of a miniature character, would be put into their hands; but I understand that they are drilling with a small rifle, and that a great many of the parents object to it, and I think rightly object. I do not think there is any necessity to give the Junior Cadets anything more than athletic drill and the ordinary marching drill. They ought not to be called upon to bear arms of any kind until they get into the Senior Cadets. I hope that, for the sake of a great many parents who object to what is being done, the Department will drop this practice of making little boys carry miniature rifles, and go back to the original idea. There is one other matter I wish to refer to, and that is the question of transferred properties. According to a paragraph in this Speech, it seems as if this question were coming to a head.I think that the States have a right to claim from us interest in respect of the transferred properties, at any rate for last year and this year. I hope that there will be a satisfactory settlement arrived at, so as to bring the Commonwealth into proper relationship with the States. I think it is high time that the question of consolidating the State debts was undertaken, because, as was hinted here yesterday, if the Commonwealth intends to construct railways, it cannot do so out of revenue. I believe that the money for that purpose will have to be borrowed. It would be ten thousand pities to put a seventh borrower from Australia on the money market. It would be much better to consolidate the State debts, and then simply have one borrower so far as Australia is concerned.
– Will the States agree to that?
– I do not know. We cannot tell what the States will do until we test them. I think it would be certainly the best policy to adopt, because we should have one central authority for the purpose of dealing with these loans in time to come. I have no more to say in regard to the Speech, except to echo the last part of it, that the session may result in the passing of useful legislation for the benefit of the Commonwealth.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Australian Notes Act1910. - Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules1911, No.116.
South African Union : Reply to Congratulations of Commonwealth Parliament upon the establishment of a National Government and Legislature.
Agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and South Australia for the lease , by the latter of the Fort AugustaOodnadatta Railway.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901. -
Amendment of Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 109.
Amendment of Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 114.
Amendment of Postal, General Postal, Parcels Post, Telegraphic and . Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 125.
Amendment of Postal and Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No.126.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 127.
Amendment of Regulations relating to Postal Notes. - Statutory Rules 1910, No.
Amendment of Postal and Parcels Post Regulations. - Statutory Rules1910, No. 134.
Amendment of Postal, Payment of Postage by the Receiver, and Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 135.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901 - continued.
Amendment of Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 136.
Amendment of General Regulations (Sunday Arrangements). - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 3.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 9.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 10.
Amendment of Parcels Post Regulations.Statutory Rules 1911, No. 24.
Amendment of Postal, General Postal, Parcels Post, Telegraphic and Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 40.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 41.
Amendment of Regulations relating to Postal Notes. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 43.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 45.
Amendment of Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 46.
Amendment of Regulations relating to Money Orders. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 47.
Amendment of Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 61.
Amendment of General Postal and Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 62.
Amendment of Money Orders and Telephone Regulations.- Statutory Rules 1911, No. 64.
Amendment of. General Postal Regulations. - Statutory . Rules 191 1, No. 68.
Amendment of General Postal, Postal, Telegraphic and Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules1911,No. 69.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 70.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 74.
Amendment of Telegraphic Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 79.
Amendment of Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 89.
Amendment of Regulations relating to MoneyOrders. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 90.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 91.
Amendment’ of General Postal and Telephone Regulations - Statutory Rules1911, No. 92.
Amendment of Telephone Regulations. - Statutory ‘Rules 1911, No. 97.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. -Statutory Rules1911, No. 100.
Wireless Telegraph Act 1905 -
Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 105;
Amendment of Parcels Post Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 106.
Amendment of Postal and General . Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 109.
Amendment of General Postal, Postal, Telegraphic and Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 113.
Amendment of General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No.114.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Friday next, at 10.30 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 9.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 September 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19110906_senate_4_60/>.