4th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether he will lay on the table of the Senate or the Library copies of all papers in connexion with the visit of a detachment of New South Wales cadets to England on the occasion of the Coronation of King George V. ?
– I have had prepared by the Department aprecis of the correspondence which I propose presently to lay on the table of the Senate. The file of papers in connexion with the matter will be laid on the table of the Library. I lay on the table, by command, the following paper -
Presisof Correspondence in connexion with the Visit to England of a Detachment of Senior Cadets from New South Wales under Command of Major Wynne to attend the Coronation.
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs whether he will table details regarding the. 763 labourers who have been introduced, or whose introduction under contract has been approved of, since the beginning of this year ? If he cannot give the details, I shall move for a return.
– I think it will be better for the honorable senator to move for a return.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Defence Acts 1903-1910 -
Regulations (Provisional) for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth -
New Regulation 92a. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 1 1 1.
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
New Regulation 198A. - Statutory Rules 1910 No.110.
Amendment of Regulation 208. - Statutory Rules, 1910, No.112.
Amendment of Regulation 188.- Statutory Rules 1910, No. 113.
Amendment of Regulation 556.: and new Regulation 558s. - Statutory Rules 1910, No.116.
Amendment of Regulation 164. - StatutoryRules 1910, No. 117.
New Regulations 104a, 104B, and 104C, and amendment of Regulation106a. -
Statutory. Rules 191 1, No. 1.
Defence Acts 1903-1910 - continued.
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth - continued.
Cancellation of Regulation 167. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 14.
Amendment of Regulation 421. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 15.
Amendment of Regulation 485. - Statutory
Rules1911 No. 28.
New Regulation522a. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 34.
Amendment of Regulation 134, and New Regulation 56(a). - Statutory Rules 1911,. No. 35.
Amendment of Regulation 540b. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 36.
New Regulation 106c. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 49.
New Regulations513a, 513b, 513c, and 513d.- Statutory Rules1911. No. 51.
Cancellation of Regulations 2 and2a, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof. New Regulations2b and2c. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 53.
Amendment of Regulation 458. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 54.
Amendment of Regulation 36. - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 55.
Amendment of Regulation 473. - Statutory Rules 1911 No. 58.
Amendment of Regulation 421. - StatutoryRules 1911, No. 67.
Cancellation of Regulations 152,153,154, 155,156,157,158, and 159, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 73.
Amendment of Regulation 34. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 107 .
New Regulation 615. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 117.
New Regulations 273a and 276a. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 122.
Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
New Regulation 57 (a). - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 118.
Amendment of Regulation 1 08. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 131.
Amendment of Regulation 108. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 132..
Amendment of Regulation 63 (a). - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 2.
Amendment of Regulations 73 (B) and 78 (b). - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 13.
Amendment of Regulation 66 (a).- Statutory Rules 1911, No. 17.
Amendment of Regulation 109. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 26.
Cancellation of Regulation 81, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof- - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 27.
New Regulation 85 (a). - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 37.
Amendment of Regulation 161 (b). - Statutory Rules1911, No. 38.
Amendment of Regulation 63 (b). - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 39.
Amendment of Regulations 64 and 70. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 57.
Amendment of Regulation 113. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 65.
Amendment of Regulation 238. - StatutoryRules 1911, No. 72.
Defence Acts 1903-1910 - continued.
Regulations (Provisional) for Commonwealth Military Cadet Corps and Universal Trainings-
Cancellation of Regulations for the Commonwealth Military Cadet Corps. - Statutory Rules1909, No. 34, and substitution of New Regulations for Universal Training in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1910, No. 133.
Cancellation of Regulation 16, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 25.
New Regulations59-88 and Appendices IV.-IX.- Statutory Rules1911, No. 30.
Amendment of Regulation 2. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 56.
Cancellation of Regulation 36, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof.- Statutory Rules 1911, No. 78.
New Regulation 44 (a). - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 56.
Regulations (Provisional) for the Entrance Examination to the Military College of Australia -
Cancellation of Part II., Syllabus, and substitution of new Part II. in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 88.
New Syllabus, Part III.- Statutory Rules 191 1, No.118.
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military College of Australia. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 16.
Amendment of Regulations 3, 6 (1), (e), 12(i),35,and 76 (i). New Regulation 12(iii), amendment of Appendix I. and New Appendix II. - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 52.
Regulations (Provisional) relating to the Landing of Sailors and Soldiers from Foreign Men-of-War and Transports. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 29.
Regulations for the Conduct and Management of Government Factories and the Employment of Persons under Section 63, Sub-sections 1 and 2, of the Defence Acts. - Statutory Rules1911. No- 66.
Naval Defence Act 1910 -
Regulation (Provisional) forthe Naval Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulation 55. New Regulation 167A. - Statutory Rules 1911, No.31.
Cancellation of Regulations 5 and 6, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof ; cancellation of Regulations 7, 8, 9, and 10, and amendments of Regulations 1, 4, 12,14, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 98, 99, 172. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 32.
Cancellation of Regulations for Naval Cadet Corps. - Statutory Rules 1900, No. 28 - and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 108.
Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulation 77. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 33.
New Regulation 50a. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 85.
Regulation 50B to be numbered 50c. New Regulation 50b. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 86.
Naval Defence Act 1910 - continued:
Financial and Allowance Regulations for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth - continued.
Cancellation of Regulations 48 to 5oa, and substitution of new Regulations48-50 in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules1911, No. 87.
New Regulation50d. - Statutory Rules 1911, No. 119.
Amendment of Regulation 49 (i).Statutory Rules1911. No. 123.
Amendment of Regulation 48.-Statutory Rules 1911, No. 18.
Report on the First Entrance-Examination to the Royal Military College of Australia, held in February,1911.
Lands Acquisition Act1906 -
Notification of the acquisition of land at Perth, Western Australia, for Commonwealth purposes.
Public Service Act 1902-1909 -
Documents in connexion with the following promotions -
Mr. Stuart Gordon McFarlane to the position of Clerk, 3rd Class, Central Staff, Postmaster-General’s Department.
Mr. Ernest Swire to the position of Clerk, 3rd Class, Postmaster-General’s Department, Sydney.
Mr. Sydney Lawrence Monaghan to the position of Assistant Manager, 3rd Class, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, Sydney.
Mr. Norman William Nagel to the position of Postmaster, Grade II., 2nd Class, Cairns.
Messrs. William Morris, Maurice O’Connor, and Stanley Charles Francis to the positionsof Inspector, 3rd Class, Clerical Division, Inspection Branch, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, New South Wales.
Documents in connexion with the appointment of Mr. E.H. Seitz to the position of Draughtsman, Class E, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, Postmaster-General’s Department, Sydney.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer,uponnotice-
Will theGovernment furnish senators with a return showing -
The names of those who paid the Federal land tax for the past financial year ?
The amounts of their respective assessments?
The amount of tax paid?
– I have submitted this matter to the Treasurer, who is now considering it.
Motion (by Senator St. Ledger) agreed to-
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a return showing-
The amount spent in advertising the resources of Australia between the 1st of July,1910, and 30th June,1911.
The amount spent (a) within the Commonwealth, (i) outside the Commonwealth.
The countries, and amounts spent therein, outside the Commonwealth.
The total number of immigrants that ar rived in the respective States of the Commonwealth, and the nationalities of the immigrants.
Debate resumed from 8th September (vide page 238), on motion by Senator W. Russell -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s opening Speech be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General :
May it Please Yoon 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.
– Prior to the adjournment of the Senate on Friday last, I pointed out that as soon as the Prime Minister had returned from the Imperial Conference he was interviewed and was met, very properly so, by his colleagues within the precincts of Parliament House. I mentioned that in his address to his supporters he used these words -
I say at once that, if the Empire is at war the Commonwealth is, de facto, at war.
With that sentiment, at any rate, the Opposition will entirely agree, but in the very same breath the Prime Minister used words so important to the Labour party, as well as the Opposition, and the country generally, that they will require, shortly I think, a clear and unequivocal explanation or interpretation, addressed as they were to his colleagues while he was dealing with an important matter of Imperial policy discussed at the Imperial Conference. His words were -
I do say, however, that the autonomy of the Dominions is complete ; that this autonomy is such that it is for the Dominions Parliaments to say how far they will actually participate in any war, and how they will dispose of their forces.
– Well, is it not for them to say ?
– The honorable senator is quite right to ask the question ; but I will now ask the Minister of Defence, and through him the Government, this question :
Why are we voting millions for our Military and Naval Forces? Is there such a thing as the passive prosecution of a war as well as the active prosecution of a war? That question is answered by the Prime Minister himself in the first portion of the statement that I read, where he said that when any portion of the Empire is at war the whole Empire is de facto at war. But what was in the mind of the Prime Minister when in the very next breath he made a limitation to the effect that in consequence of the autonomous powers exercised by the Dominions it will be for them, through their Governments, to say whether they will actively participate in any war in which the Empire may be concerned? It is not less vital to the Mother Country than to ourselves that those questions should be answered in clear and unmistakable terms. I venture to make the statement that we are voting these millions - and I suppose we shall be asked to vote more - for naval and military purposes in order that if the Empire becomes engaged in war our forces shall be an integral portion of the forces which will co-operate for- the preservation of the integrity of the Empire.
– That is already admitted.
– I said clearly enough in the former portion of my speech that apparently so much was frankly admitted. But we know the circumstances in which some of the utterances of the Prime Minister with regard to the Imperial Conference were made. Not a single member of the Opposition party, as far as I am aware - certainly not one inside Parliament, nor, I believe, outside - has struck into this controversy for any other purpose than to ask what exactly the expressions of the Prime Minister mean. If he is not understood, the Prime Minister himself is to blame. He has provoked comment from the press of the country by using the expression that in time of war, because of the autonomous powers which we have, and which the Imperial Government concedes that we have, it will be for us to decide whether or not we actively participate. I venture to say, as a matter of individual opinion, and as one having some acquaintance with the opinions and policy of the Liberal Opposition, that we are voting millions for our Naval and Military Forces in order that when any portion of the Empire is engaged in war we shall not passively, but actively, co-operate to preserve for every portion of the Empire its integrity within the Empire.
– Is that a secondary consideration ?
– No, it is a primary consideration from top to bottom. The unity and integrity of the Empire is a supreme consideration, inasmuch as, except for it, the separate portions of the Empire would not exist independently and possess the autonomy they enjoy. Does the Minister of Defence expect that he is going to get millions voted for defence in face of an utterance of that kind, unless we have a clear declaration of the policy which is to guide the Ministry?
– It is an old policy.
– The Prime Minister is responsible for the introduction of this comment. Are we to adopt this interpretation of his utterances - that when the Empire is at war with a foreign Power, the Commonwealth Ministry shall come down to Parliament and ask us to discuss the question whether or not we shall participate in it? As a matter of fact, there can, I think, be no departure from the policy that we have always pursued in this respect. We cannot build up our Naval and Military Forces except with the object of preserving our unity and integrity as part of the Imperial Dominions. That is a plain, intelligible statement. I take it that this country is willingly consenting to be taxed, and will willingly pay any amount in reason that may be required for such Naval and Military Forces as are necessary for the purpose that I have indicated.
– The honorable senator would borrow the money.
– That is a side issue. It is not now a matter of money, but of the policy upon which the money will or will not be expended.
– The honorable senator is making the matter as clear as mud.
– In answer to that very courteous interjection, I say that if the subject is clear to the honorable senator’s brain, the explanation has probably gone through the substance to which he has referred. An echo of the statement made by the Prime Minister is to be found in an utterance made by Sir Wilfrid Laurier during the Imperial Conference, or, at any rate, to some interviewer while he was in England. I take it that, in this matter, the whole of the Dominions have interests in common, and the criticism which affects one calls forth a criticism from the others who may be affected by such an utterance. I venture to say, therefore, thai Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s reported utterances upon Imperial policy are also such as to call for some explanation from him.
– What have we to do with Sir Wilfrid Laurier?
– We are an integral portion of the Empire, and, as I have said before, the policy which affects one portion affects the remainder.
– Sir Wilfrid Laurier is minding his business, and we have to mind ours.
– Exactly so; that is what is the matter. But it is impossible for us to look exclusively to our own selfish interests in questions which affect war. We have to consider the graver issues which will not only confront us, but every portion of the Empire; and I am afraid that the policy which Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s utterance indicates would not only be cowardly, if it were possible to carry it out, but would tend towards the disintegration of the Empire itself - that is to say, if his words bear the only construction which it appears to me can be placed upon them. I will read the comment made by the Times upon Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s utterance, and which applies also to the statement .of the Prime Minister. After this remarkable utterance by Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Times - I am quoting from the weekly edition of that journal of 19th May, of the present year - wrote -
If Canada and British Imperial interests diverge no statesmanship will bridge the gap made. But do they diverge, and are there any questions of foreign policy which can be regarded as of Canadian interest alone? If there are, then British statesmen will certainly prefer to see them settled by the Canadian Government alone. The fact, however, is that no part of the Empire can have relations with foreign Powers in which the rest of the Empire is not concerned, unless it is prepared to face the full responsibility of a diplomacy of its own. In that case it would enter the international arena with only such influence as its own resources supplied. This is very naturally a consummation much to be desired by foreign Powers, but it would hardly enhance the autonomy of the dissenting British States.
I entirely dissent from the position taken up at the Imperial Conference by Sir Wilfrid Laurier in regard to this matter of Imperial defence. I think that he dragged a question of the highest Imperial policy down to the level of the exigencies of a political party conflict in Canada. I go further, and say, without hesitation, that the warning sounded by the Times was an exceedingly opportune one. Now that we are building up our Naval and Military Forces—now that that process is in its infancy - it is only right that we should have an early declaration of the express purpose for which those Forces are being established. More than one portion of the speech delivered by the Prime Minister makes it clear that he recognises the obligation of the Commonwealth, as an integral part of the Empire, and that he appreciates keenly our duty in regard to that Imperial relation. It was not until he came into personal contact with his own colleagues that he qualified that doctrine by a comment which is capable of a dangerous and most disastrous application. When the Minister of Defence asks Parliament to vote more millions of pounds for the building up of our Army and Navy, honorable senators upon this side of the chamber will require, on behalf of the country, an unqualified expression as to what is to be the military and naval policy of the Government. Is the question of whether we are to take part in any war waged by the Motherland to be, in time of war, considered merely as an academic one.
– Is that a decision which has been arrived at by the Liberal Caucus?
– I stated at the outset of my remarks upon this subject that I spoke only for myself, although, from personal contact with many honorable senators upon this side of the chamber, I believe that they share my opinion.
– Is this a continuation of Mr. Stead’s attack?
– I say, “Steady upon that matter.” I regret that even an honorable senator opposite should endeavour to extract from me a declaration upon that subject. Notwithstanding my honorable friend’s attempt ,to side-track me, I am content to found my comments upon impeachable extracts from speeches delivered by the Prime Minister. I do not think that I owe any apology to the Senate for having dealt with two of the most important portions of the Vice-Regal utterance. I now propose to deal in a cursory fashion with some of the important items which were alluded to by the Minister of Defence in the course of his reply to the criticism of the Leader of the Opposition. The Minister, in referring to the incidence of the Federal land tax, affirmed that until the near approach of the imposition of that tax there was not much room for land settle ment in Australia. I do not think that I have misinterpreted the substance of his reply. The only inference which one can draw from that statement is that theFederal land tax is responsible for the breaking up of large estates, which have hitherto prevented closer settlement. Surely the statement that there was no room for land settlement in Australia prior tothe imposition of the tax was a whole burntoffering on the altar of the god of clap-trap. It is evident, too, that that whole burntoffering was a whole-hogged statement. What are the facts of the case? I have here a few figures which will speak for themselves, and which will show what was the area of land held for developmental purposes in Australia long before a land tax was thought of.
– That was a long time ago.
– Even before the honorable senator commenced to hunt for Labour votes.
– The honorable senator is degrading himself by making such a remark as that. A personal reference of that kind is certainly more or less degrading to the honorable senator to whom it is applied, and as it is utterly unjustifiable, it is also a degradation to the honorable senator who makes it. The reason why it was made is that honorable senators opposite cannot sit quietly under the fire of criticism.
– It was intended as a compliment to the honorable senator.
– I fear the Greeks when they bring me gifts. I propose now to quote some figures relating to the area of land under crop in Australia
– Does the area alienated give any indication of the area which is devoted to agriculture?
– I cannot say that. If necessary, I shall take the figures further when a favorable opportunity presents itself. These figures, which show the area under crop in Australia, are in themselves a complete refutation of the statement made by the Minister of Defence. These are the figures of the acreage under crop at the periods mentioned. In 1860-1. 1,188.282 acres; in 1870-r, 2;i85.”534 acres; in 1880-1, 4.577.699 acres; in 1900-1, 8,812.463 acres; in 1909-10, 10,972,299 acres. These figures indicate a progressive increase in the area placed under cultivation, in the decades mentioned, varying from 50 to 200 per cent. In the circumstances, it is about time that Ministers addressed themselves to those who can consider the application of a policy rather than to those whose minds can be led away by the- grossest political claptrap, for that is the only term that can be applied to the statement that until the present Government reached the Treasury benches, or immediately prior to their advent to power, there was no agricultural settlement in Australia. The figures I have given completely refute the statement.
– Is not 10,000,000 acres a very small area to have under cultivation in a huge continent like Australia?
– That is a proposition with which I have nothing whatever to do. I am dealing only with the statement made by the Minister of Defence, and I express my astonishment that he ever made it. I have to say, further, that in respect of that statement, one can only compliment his honesty at the sacrifice of his intelligence, or compliment his intelligence at the sacrifice of his honesty.
– Can the honorable senator explain why eleven people should hold 1,500,000 acres in the Western District of Victoria?
– My honorable friend desires me to follow a great fallacy in logic by drawing general inferences from particular instances. He is unable to see how dangerous and fallacious that kind of reasoning must always be. The fact that one or two men have held unduly large areas of land in Australia does not affect the general proposition that land settlement in Australia has been steadily progressing notwithstanding the imposition of the Federal land tax. The figures I have given show it. What better test can there be of close settlement than the amount of the wheat crop? Generally speaking, the cultivation of wheat is associated with the settlement of the land in comparatively small areas. Now, what are the figures with respect to the increase in the acreage under wheat? In 1 860-1, the acreage under wheat in Australia was 643.983 acres; in 1870-1, it was 1,123,839 acres; in 1.880-1, it was 31054,305 acres ; in 1 900- 1. it was 5.115,965 acres; and in 1909-10. it was 6.586,236. Clearly therefore, close settlement was going ahead by leaps and bounds, notwithstanding the proposed imposition of a Federal land tax.
– And yet the Queensland Government have had to repur chase properties to secure land for the people.
– Until the end of time, the State Governments for State purposes will have to repurchase land. No Government, not excepting a Labour Socialist Government, can carry on its operations without buying back for State purposes lands, the fee-simple of which has already been parted with to private owners-
– For agricultural development ?
– We can never’ hope to get agricultural development tin-‘ less the land is alienated in freehold. There could be no more striking illustration of that fact than is provided by the. recent history of land settlement in Queensland. The Queensland Government offered about 8,000 acres on perpetual leasehold, and after two or three years they were able to alienate no more than 2,000 acres in this way, whereas the alienation of land under freehold tenure for agricultural purposes was at the same time going ahead by leaps and bounds in every portion of the State.
– How much land is under cultivation in Queensland?
– I am unable to say now. Could the Vice-President of the Executive Council tell me at once how many officers there are in the Department of Defence? I can however say, from his general reading, that any man who has given attention to public affairs must be aware that close settlement has been steadily increasing, though he may not be able to say what is the area actually under cultivation in Queensland.
– Since when?
– Since Noah’s Ark if the honorable senator pleases.
– Only since the Labour Government came into power.
– Exactly. These interjections remind me of a passage which occurs in one of George Elliot’s novels, in which Mrs. Poyser complains that her husband is like the bantam cock in the backyard, that was always of opinion that the sun never rose in the morning until he had got up and crowed. A great deal of that kind of reasoning we have from the other side, and the statement of the Minister of Defence is a glaring illustration of it, and it displays the same kind of intellect in the failure to discern between cause and effect as was displayed by Mrs. Poyser’s bantam cock.
– Then, it was only a coincidence that the cock crowed and the sun rose a little later?
– Honorable senators opposite, from the Minister of Defence downwards, are apparently unable to distinguish the difference between coincidence and cause and effect, for they invariably confuse the two things. Can we blame them when we find a Minister, who has gone through a “long parliamentary training, and a previous experience of platform debating, standing up in this chamber and making such an extraordinary statement as that which was made by the Minister of Defence with regard to the. progress of land settlement in Australia.
– Did the honorable senator ever know the effect to come before the cause?
– The honorable senator is dealing in metaphysics, and there is an old saying about asking questions which I shall refrain from quoting. Now, what about the imposition of this Federal land tax? It was pretended during the discussion of the matter that it was to break up large estates. The Minister of Defence says, by inference, if not directly, that it is doing so, and he quotes the Van Diemen Company’s land. Does the Minister console himself with this view ? What Australia is gaining or suffering by the imposition of the progressive land tax it is impossible at this stage to determine exactly. (But I venture to say, on fairly strong grounds, that three-fourths, if not a greater percentage of the total tax, falls upon the backs of the workers and wage-earners, in the form of increased rents. There is scarcely an office in any city in the Commonwealth of any size, the rent of which was not raised immediately upon the imposition of the progressive land tax. There is scarcely a portion of any residential district in Australia in which landlords whose property has been assessed at ^5,000 and over have not recouped themselves for the taxation by increasing the rents charged for their property. Who paid it?
– In 1887 rents were as high as, if not higher than they are to-day, and there was no land tax then.
– My honorable friend cannot wriggle out of the position. Again that does not touch the point I took. We were led to understand by the Minister of Defence that the imposition of the Federal land tax was a sort of heaven-sent blessing, which his party alone conferred upon the people of Australia. His statement has been- repeated, and possibly will be repeated again, but I wish to draw the attention of honorable senators on the other side to the consideration of where this tax is falling. Every land-owner who holds a residential or city property at once passed the tax on to his tenants, and we shall shortly have a return showing how it bears upon the tenants. My honorable friends may indulge in self-congratulations about their land tax, but they cannot get away from the fact that, immediately upon its imposition, the rent of every office in every thickly-populated city in Australia went up, and the rent of almost every cottage went up immediately too.
– Who got the increased rent?
– The landlords.
– We shall have to get a little more out of the landlords, then.
– Do not honorable senators see that the Federal land tax is already falling upon the backs of the workers, although they are pretending all the time that it is not? Further than that, what else happens ? When land-owners who held more than ,£5,000 worth of residential or city property, and who, therefore, were directly affected by the land tax, protected themselves, the rents of adjoining cottages or properties went up in accordance with the law of sympathy. Because, if one landlord having property of a value of more than ,£5,000, raised his rents by is. or 2s. a week in order to compensate himself for the payment of the land tax, the man who owned the adjoining cottage naturally looked to his tenant for a corresponding increase in the rent. That is how this tax is operating throughout the Commonwealth .
– Where did your law of supply and demand come in then?
– Call it what you like, the land tax is operating in that way. I do not think that, under present conditions of society, there is a tax which will not be passed on, and which will not ultimately fall, if not wholly, largely on the backs of the masses. So far they ha ‘is been deluded by the hypocritical cry that the land tax will break up large estates. In at least nineteen-twentieths of the cases the tax cannot do so, because the estates on which it operates are so closely settled thai further breaking up is impossible. It may follow that, in some isolated instances, a large holding, being subject to the operation of the tax, is in course of transition. But supposing that that is the case, who is going to pay the tax ? If a large holder transfers his land to a small holder, the small holder will take the land with the tax, so that the transferror shall not bear the imposition, and the terms will in nearly all cases be so arranged that the small holder will pay not only the capital value of the land, but every penny of the land tax. There is no royal road to taxation, and it will not take much longer, I think, for the people of Australia to understand that the last thing which an honest Government should do if it desires not to increase the burdens of the country, is to impose taxes of any kind, and never to impose them except in cases of necessity, because, if ill-regulated, the worker will suffer all the time.
– And leave land monopoly as it is?
– That may be cured in other ways. We cannot escape from the fact that this boasted land tax is falling to-day on the backs of the workers as tenants. If my honorable friends want to get hold of big estates, and such estates are really preventing settlement, there are other ways of dealing with the matter. What the Government has done in this case in order to get a few cracklings foi; themselves, has been to burn down the whole house. A paragraph of the opening Speech refers to the consolidation of the State debts. I am not going to ladle out, if I may be pardoned for using that expression, any particular censure on the Government in this matter, because I think that every Government of the Commonwealth is justly open to like censure. The subject has not been dealt with so far, and I hope that the Ministry will be able to make good their word, and, at any rate, do something. I take it that the consolidation of the State debts, embracing at least £250,000,000, will be the biggest financial transaction which a Commonwealth Government has ever undertaken; that a satisfactory solution of the difficulty will tax the highest financial talent, not only inside Australia, but outside as well, and that it cannot be settled satisfactorily by Parliament until the whole question has been threshed out from top to bottom by a competent financial committee, capable of advising us as to the action to be taken. As soon as the matter is dealt with, in justice to the States, the better. We have already deprived the States of half of their Customs returns, which was the principal security for, and the fund for the payment of interest on, their debts; and therefore, in duty to the States, we are forced to take up the question. The only way in which it can be approached is, I think, the way in which a similar question was approached in England, when about ,£350,000,000 or £400,000,000 worth of Government stock was gradually converted into what are known as consols. The operation took about twenty or thirty years ; but it was preceded and accompanied by various Acts of Parliament, and expert financial advice, both inside and outside Parliament, carefully piloted the Government through every measure necessary to carry out that gigantic financial transaction. In a similar way. we must deal with this £250,000,000 worth of stock. I hope that the Government will at once appoint a competent Royal Commission, and, if possible, not allow the consideration of the question to be delayed a day longer. On the matter of policy, I express this opinion, which I have frequently expressed elsewhere, that, in the taking over or the consolidation of the State debts, I shall be no party to any policy which would interfere with future borrowing by them. In support of that opinion, I can quote the advice given by the Agent-General for New South Wales in 1909, when the question of consolidation and the future policy to be observed was being spoken of in this Parliament, and indirectly in the State Parliaments. It has been contended here and elsewhere, over and over again, by political and financial leaders of far higher standing and authority than I would presume even to think myself to be, that you cannot approach this big financial operation without restricting the borrowing powers of the States. I have differed, and, in the light of information which I possess, I shall continue to differ from those persons. The matters seems to me to be entirely distinct from one another, and, rather than see the borrowing powers of the States for the present, and for years to come restricted, I would prefer the State debts not to be touched or consolidated. ‘ In support of the opinion that we can separate the two questions, I shall quote the advice of the Agent- General for New South Wales, Mr. T. A. Coghlan, wired from
London on oth March, 1909, to his Premier. He said -
I would like to correct statements made at the Conference of Premiers, 1906, that I considered Slates could borrow on better terms than could the Commonwealth. The contrary is the case for equal amounts. Commonwealth could certainly borrow on better terms than could any State. Its credit could not be quite as good as Canada, but where New South Wales would obtain 99 for a 3^ per cent, loan, Commonwealth would obtain at par. The idea encouraged in Australia that where States pay 3^ per cent. Commonwealth would pay 3 per cent, is ridiculous. India, with the guarantee of the Imperial Government, borrowed recently exactly on the same terms as New South Wales, and Canada shade better, both at 3^ per cent., and underwriting cannot be avoided. Imperial Government only party able to place loan without underwriting. But though superior to individual States the Commonwealth’s credit could be only maintained within narrow limits. There is no question here that the six States, acting separately, could obtain from London sums far larger than could the. Commonwealth, perhaps twice as much. This arises from strong growing tendency amongst all classes of investors to distribute investment risk. Present difficulty of States obtaining loans arises from the inability of the market to forecast the European situation, and will soon pass away. This affects even the Imperial Government, which is waiting to place loan Irish stocks.
My opinion, supported by leading financiers here, is that, if power to borrow in London be surrendered by the States to the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth will find itself in difficulties when providing for renewals, and it would not be able to obtain any money for new undertakings. Axiom, “ Whole greater than the part,” is, in this instance, fallacious. You must remember that the Commonwealth inevitably will be a borrower sooner or later.
To-day it has been announced to the world that the Commonwealth is going to borrow money for the construction of two railways.
No reliance can be placed on policy of abstention. My advice is that the question of the transfer of State debts be kept distinct from settlement of Commonwealth surplus distribution, and that in the interests of the Commonwealth and States the power to borrow be not surrendered.
I know of nothing which materially modifies that important’ opinion from a high financial authority. That the States’ credit to-day is stronger than the Commonwealth’s estimate of its own credit, is proved by the fact that the Queensland Government raised its last loan at about 12s. 6d. per cent, less than the rate at which the Commonwealth Government was lending money to various States.
– I think it was 32s. 6d.
– So much the better, and that only confirms my argu ment. I was putting it at the very lowest figure.
– How can you gauge the power of the Commonwealth as a borrower?
– Who is the best judge of the credit of the Commonwealth, when it exacts from its own borrowers a higher rate than that at which the Queensland Government can borrow money in the open market in London ?
– There is no difficulty in disposing of the money, anyhow.
– That is not the point. The Commonwealth is exacting a higher price from its borrowers than a powerful and big State was able to borrow money at when it appealed to the market in London. For this very reason, the States will naturally demand that when the question of consolidating the State debts comes up, that their power to borrow shall not be restricted unless they are to have two markets - the Commonwealth market and the open market of the world - to appeal to.
– Why did not the other States also borrow at lower rates of interest ?
– I think that every State could have got .almost the same terms as Queensland ; and, that being so, it seems to me that the States are quite right in insisting that they shall not be forced to go into a dear market when the world’s market is open to them, especially in view of the fact that the larger States have lying before them the great work of developing their immense territories.
– Then, the honorable senator’s statement amounts to a charge of extravagance against the States which did not borrow at lesser rates of interest.
– I do not think that they made a good bargain. I do not like making comparisons, which are always more or less odious, but certainly Queensland scored when her Government refused to take money from the Commonwealth Treasurer, and went into the open market and obtained the money she wanted at cheaper rates than the Commonwealth Government was asking for its advances. Queensland took the risk, and it was proved that she was thoroughly justified. For some time to come, at any rate, why should we restrict the borrowing powers of the States? On the other hand, the consolidation of the State debts is one of the most pressing and important necessities of the Commonwealth.
– According to the honorable senator’s argument, it would be a bad thing to consolidate the debts, because the States can borrow cheaper than the Commonwealth ; and there is no need to consolidate the debts of the States if the credit of the Commonwealth is lower than that of the States.
– Yes, for this reason - that if you consolidate the debts of the States and you can bring down the interest on State stocks the States will come to the Commonwealth and not go to the open market.
– The honorable senator argues that they cannot do that to advantage.
– I do not say anything of the kind, as a universal proposition. The Minister of Defence is particularly ingenious in trying to twist one’s arguments. I said, as distinctly and clearly as I could, that on the present occasion we have a positive instance that a State could borrow in the open market at a cheaper rate than the Commonwealth placed its own credit. But I do not say that that position is going to last for all time. On the contrary, I believe that the successful consolidation or conversion of the debts of the States, at a rate of interest less than the rates on the loans originally incurred, would act as a most powerful magnet for the States to come to the Commonwealth to borrow, rather than go to the open market. But the States have no reason for doing so yet, because the Commonwealth has been dallying with this question year after year, talking about it and doing nothing. In my opinion, the Commonwealth has been mixing up this question of the consolidation of the debts with the threat of restricting the borrowing of the States, which naturally they will resist.
– The States, as a whole, have been opposed to the taking over of their debts by the Commonwealth.
– How can that be so, when the last referendum showed that tlie majority of the people were in favour of the Commonwealth taking over the debts of the States?
– But, as a general rule, the State Governments have been opposed to the taking over of the debts by the Commonwealth.
– Opposed to the restriction of further borrowing.
– They have certainly been opposed to the restriction of borrowing, and members of the State Governments, as individuals, if not as Ministers, have not been too favorable to the proposition made from time to time for the conversion and the consolidation of their loans. But there is a good deal to justify their attitude. I have pointed out one reason : that they will not be favorable to the proposition as long as the Commonwealth authorities insist on mixing up the two questions, the restriction of their right to borrow, and the consolidation of their debts. Paragraph 30 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech deals with the right of Commonwealth public servants to appeal to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. There can, I think, be but one comment on a. proposal of that kind. It is a confession of inefficiency on the part of the Postmaster- General, and a confession of gross timidity on the part of the Government itself. If the management of the Post and Telegraph Department is such that its officers do not get fair play in the exercise of their duties as public servants the Minister is responsible for not relieving that situation through the action of Parliament.
– The honorable senator’s party was responsible.
– It is not a question of a particular party being responsible. I am not going to separate one party from another, except to say that, if the public servants of the Commonwealth are not being treated properly in the matter of salaries or wages, the Minister is not doing his duty, either to the Parliament or to the people of this country, when he does not make out a case to Parliament for an improvement of their lot. There is certainly one branch of the Post and Telegraph Department that is grossly ineffective. I allude to the Telephone branch. The reason for its ineffectiveness is that more money is required to carry it on. I believe that the Telephone branch, from the time when the Department was taken over by the Commonwealth, has never been supplied with sufficient funds for discharging its functions, if they were to be carried out effectively. We cannot expect public servants to administer the machinery of a Department properly if they have not sufficient motive power at their disposal. A report laid before Parliament some five or six years ago informed us that the Post, and Telegraph Department required some two or three million pounds to bring it up to a modern standard and to satisfy the reasonable requirements of Australia. The Government could have relieved the situation by resorting to the system which prevails iri the British Post Office. The PostmasterGeneral in Great Britain has been asking for some millions for the purpose of taking over the ‘telephones, which have been in the hands of private companies. He proposed to finance hig policy by a system of terminable annuities. In just the same way here the difficulty of extending the work of the Post and Telegraph Department could be. got over by a species of loan, which might be paid back to the Treasurer after a certain number of years. I believe that the Postmaster-General in Great Britain published a memorandum showing that he would require about £6,000,000 in order to bring the telephone system, formerly controlled by private companies, up to the standard required by the people of the United Kingdom.
– The privately-owned telephones were not in an efficient state, then ?
– So it seems. The British Postmaster-General wished to take them over. It is not for us to say whether he was right or wrong. The fact remains that, in order to bring the service up to a state of efficiency, the PostmasterGeneral required a very large sum of money. He had no hesitation about his procedure. Did he wait until Parliament provided the money for him out of revenue? He did nothing of the kind. He raised the necessary amount of money on a system of terminable annuities. It seems rather extraordinary that the Government of the Commonwealth, when they knew that the telephone service was in a state of howling inefficiency, should not have taken steps to improve it, although they had about ,£3,000,000 available, arising out of the note issue, which they were willing to lend to the States at interest.
– The honorable senator opposed the Surplus Revenue Bill.
– What on earth has that to do with the question?- The awful aptitude which the honorable senator displays for connecting things which have nothing whatever to do with each other is so remarkable that if his talent enabled him to connect related subjects with the same ease he would be one of the most remarkable statesmen in Australia. It seems an extraordinary thing, I say again, that the Treasurer of the Commonwealth should have his vaults bursting with gold, and should be lending out money to the various States, while one of the Commonwealth Departments is in a state of howling inefficiency. A telephone in one’s house at the present time is an instrument of torture. Personally, I would almost rather go into a dentist’s chair, and have an operation performed, than go to my telephone and use it.
– The telephone that I have is a delight to me, and to my whole family.
– This seems to be a case of favoritism.
– It may be that I am rather irritable, and expect too much ; but 1 also hear these complaints from friends and business men in Sydney and Melbourne. When one is travelling, or doing any business, and wants to use a telephone, one finds that this, which should be one of the instruments of public convenience, is little better than a cause of wholesale lurid profanity. When I go to a public telephone, I can hear the business of other people ; but I can neither transmit a message of my own, nor hear a message that is being transmitted to me.
– What a splendid romance the honorable senator could have written !
– The best of romancers could not do justice to our telephone system. It is of no use for honorable senators opposite to pretend that the system is in a state of anything like efficiency, because the fact that it is not is well known. It is almost impossible to get any satisfaction from a telephone in Sydney or Melbourne, where the last thing you expect is to hear your message transmitted or the message of another transmitted to you. You may be waiting fifteen or twenty minutes, and may hear everybody else’s business but your own during that time. What is the reason for that? It is that the officers have not the means and the material for bringing the telephone system up to date.
– People -would not use the telephone at all if it were like that.
– Many people will not have the telephone at present. The point that I wish to make is that it is remarkable that the Government should have millions at their disposal, .whilst they cannot find money to put the telephone system in a proper condition. Paragraph 26 of the Governor-General’s Speech must have been drafted by a humorist, or by a combination of humorists, in the Ministry. It begins by saying -
My Advisers regret the result of the referenda in April last.
I wonder why it was necessary for the Government to say that.
– We had anticipated so much.
– Exactly; we knew all along that the Government would regret the result; but we did not know that we should have this childish expression recorded in a Governor- General’s Speech.
– - If the honorable senator is proud of the result of the referenda, Heaven help him when he goes before the electors next time.
– Our constituents are like our coffins, in that they are always in front of us, and that we have to face them sooner or later, whether we like it or not. If the threat of the Ministry to again submit to the people the proposals which were so decisively rejected in April last be carried into effect, it will give me the greatest pleasure, because I shall consider it my duty to once more stump the country in opposition to them. But I do not think the Government will re-submit those proposals to the people. If they do - making all the reservations that a man must make when he enters upon the field of prophecy - I think they will be soundly defeated. Further, I do not believe that the Government are game to refer them to the electors again in the form in which they were previously presented. Ministers will probably recognise that some consideration is due to the people, of whose interests they profess to be the special’ guardians, by presenting them in a form which will enable the humblest, as well as the most exalted, intelligence to realize their effect. But from a statement which was made by Senator E. J. Russell, I gather that at least one of the proposals will be abandoned. That honorable senator, in championing the Minister of Defence, who charged the Opposition with having broadcasted misleading literature as to the meaning of the proposals embodied in the referenda, declared that the statement .which was contained in one pamphlet that municipalities would be robbed of their powers by the Commonwealth, was sheer nonsense. My reply was that the most eminent constitutional lawyer, in Australia held exactly the same view as that which was expressed in the pamphlet in question ; and thereupon Senator E. J. Russell pointed out that Mr. Mitchell had withdrawn his original opinion on the matter, thus implying that the view which he then expressed was a wrong one. Consequently, I venture to affirm that the Government will not bring forward that proposal again. If they do, they will bring it forward in such a form as will prevent a mistake being made such as we, as well as Mr. Mitchell, are alleged to have made. There is no political party in this country which is so stupid and undemocratic as to say to thepeople at this stage of our political history, “ Either you did not understand the proposals referred to you in April last, or you were so corrupt that you allowed yourselves to be bribed. Because you were so unintelligent, or so corrupt, at the last referenda, we are again putting the proposals before you, hoping that you will now understand them, or that you will not allow yourselves to be corrupted by the organizations of the other side.” No Government, I repeat, dare do that. I hope that Ministers are game to do it. If they are, they will meet with the same opposition, and with a more decisive defeat than they experienced on the last occasion. I come now to the question of the establishment of a Commonwealth bank, which has been long promised by the Labour party. That promise they are bound to redeem. The reason underlying the establishment of this institution was well explained in less than a sentence by the great financial authority on the other side of the Chamber - I refer to Senator Needham. He put into less than a sentence the whole object of the financial policy of nineteen-twentieths of the supporters of the Federal Labour party, and, indeed, of the Labour party throughout Australia, when he said that the object of establishing a Commonwealth bank was to provide the people with cheaper money. In framing such a measure, 1 believe that the Government entertain the delusion that they can provide the country with cheap money. But no fact is more clearly established historically than that Governments cannot make money cheap.
– Do not the State Governments lend money at lower rates than private financial institutions?
– It is a clearly established historical fact that Governments cannot make money cheap. No Government yet has been able to make a paper currency take the place of gold. It took Secretary Chase three or four years to understand that, as a result of using greenbacks to defray the cost of the civil war in America., he was paying ;£i 10,000,000 more than he would have had to pay had gold been used. A similar disaster will overtake any Government which attempts to act upon the principle expressed by Senator Needham. There are only two factors which can make money cheap, namely, the .general prosperity of a country in conjunction with sound government.
– The State bank in South Australia made money much cheaper than it was previously.
– In times of paralysis, it is not the capitalist who suffers by a depreciated currency, because he holds every civilized Government to its contract to redeem that currency in gold or silver. Thus it is not the moneyholders who suffer at such critical periods, but the workers. As Lord Farrar, a most eminent authority upon money, says -
A depreciated currency benefits the employer, and is a robbery of the worker.
I do not know whether my honorable friends opposite will dispute that proposition. The only other subject with which I wish to deal is the proposed amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Amendments dealing with the parent Act have been made by almost every Parliament since the inception of the Commonwealth, and the Wages Board system has been operative here for many years. There is not an employe^ in the Commonwealth but must admit that no Government on earth has tried harder and more honestly to provide machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes than have the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the States. But, after twenty years of experimenting in this matter, we are again confronted with the need for a further amendment of existing legislation, presumably in the interests alike of the workers and of the employers. If there .be one thing more than another which Australia requires to-day, it is industrial peace. We have already provided the machinery for bringing about industrial peace, but, if the desire of the unionists or employes is not in that direction, all our Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts are in vain. It is the duty of every representative of the people, and of every employer and employe^ to do his utmost to insure that the instrument that we have designed to secure industrial peace in Australia is not converted into an instrument for industrial warfare. If we are going to write over the doors of our Wages Boards and Conciliation and Arbitration Courts, “ Every employer is a highway man, and every employe an Esau,” we might as well close those institutions. By so doing you would be making the last stage worse than the first. To approach any matter from that point of view would be to doom it to failure.
– Why does not the honorable senator include himself? Why does he always say “You”? He is asmuch responsible as are we for defective legislation.
– My mentor again. Perhaps I should apologize to the Vice-President of the Executive Council for having been so late in enforcing thisproposition, but better late than never. I have the feeling, however, that I have already written and said something on this matter. ,1 take the opportunity now arising from recent events, to emphasize thewarning that any hope that a multiplication of these tribunals will benefit the employer or the employe will be only a delusion if Acts of Parliament are to be administered and Courts to be appealed to inthe spirit that every employer is a highwayman, and every employ^ an Esau.
– It is characteristic of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and the party opposite, to throw all responsibility upon others.
– Possibly that is so; but surely the Government have sufficient experience now to be in a position to frame an Act which must be used for the purpose of promoting industrial peace. In a country that is prospering at the present time, and whose prosperity is increasing by leaps and bounds, who has more to gain by industrial peace than the worker. The responsibility rests upon their leaders, inside and outside of Parliament, to impress upon them the necessity for industrial peace. Surely it is time we gave a fair trial to the machinery we have set up for the regulation of industry, and that members of both parties inside and outside of Parliament should ask employes and employers alike frankly and fully to see to it that they will drive out political agitation, cease to appeal to the stupid prejudice of politics or class, and insist that our legislation and our tribunals to give it effect shall be administered from the most economical stand-point for any community, the stand-point of peace between employer and employe. It is one of the most dangerous and despairing signs that we should have preached in Parliament, and from platforms outside, maxims which can only tend to inflame the hatred of the two classes and drive them further apart. The more closely the two classes in industrial life are brought together the better it will be for themselves, and for the community at large.
– There was a beautiful reign of peace between the slave-owner and the slave.
– Here, again, we have the reference to the highwayman and the Esau. The slave-owner on the one hand, and the slave-driven employe” on the other. The honorable senator by his interjection seeks to institute a parallel for the position of employer and employe in the position of the slave-owner and his nigger.
– Is not that the ideal for which the honorable senator is striving when he speaks of industrial peace?
– Why not strive for industrial peace? Following up the interjection of the honorable senator, I say that if the industrial conditions of Australia can only be regulated upon the supposition that one factor in the development of industries is the slave, and the other the slave-driver, the end can only be civil Avar or revolution. I say that such conditions as the honorable senator suggests do not exist in Australia. The employes of Australia are not slaves. I take this opportunity of saying that I do not believe there is a country in the world in which, from any stand-point, the workers are better off than are the workers of Australia. I do not say that they should be content for all time with existing conditions ; but I do say that if they do not consider that they are getting a fair return for their labour in all departments of industry, and desire to better their condition, their hope for the future will lie, not merely in the passing of legislation and the institution of Courts for the settlement of industrial questions, but in approaching the settlement of those questions in the spirit that what must be insisted upon is the establishment of industrial peace. I am sure that Ministers are anxious that we should get to business as soon as possible ; and now that I have settled, from my point of view, so many matters of importance referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech,
I hope that any honorable senator opposite, or the Vice-President of the Executive Council, should he think it well to rise, will confine himself to a cursory .reply to my remarks, in order that we may conclude this debate as quickly as possible.
.. - I do not intend to take advantage of the present opportunity to survey the whole political field to the uttermost bounds of the horizon. There are but two or three subjects to which I desire to refer very briefly. The .first is the result of the referenda decided in Australia on the 26th April last. There has been great jubilation in this and in another place, as well as outside Parliament, on the part of members of the party opposite at the result of the referenda. It was stated no later than yesterday in another place, by a very prominent Conservative, that the Labour party should have taken it so much to heart that the Government should have immediately resigned and allowed the representatives of the minority to occupy the Treasury benches. I am in no way downcast by the result of the referenda. The members of the Labour party can congratulate themselves that they still remain the reform party. It is characteristic of all reform parties that their proposals are so far ahead of the views of the majority that it takes a few years for the people generally to catch up with them. I am satisfied that the next time the proposals for effecting alterations of the Constitution are submitted to the people they will, as the result of bitter experience, have been taught the urgent necessity of answering “Yes,” to them, and giving this Parliament the power we asked for at the referenda. The result was a pretty well foregone conclusion if we take into consideration the extraordinary amount of money spent in opposition to them, and the more than extraordinary amount of misrepresentation that was indulged in. The people were grossly deceived as to the effects which would follow if they answered “ Yes “ to the questions put to them. It was repeatedly stated in this and in another place, as well as outside Parliament, that no people should give to any Parliament the power which this party asked them to give the Federal Parliament. Those who used that argument merely advertised their own - utter stupidity, because, although the people declined to give that power to the Federal Parliament, they still left it in the hands of every State Parliament, where it can be exercised, not at the will of the people’s representatives, but at the will of the representatives of “ Fat “ in nominee Upper Houses, responsible to nobody, or, as in some States, in Upper Houses responsible only to a small section of the community. We hear a great deal about industrial strife and unrest, and we have just listened to a plea by Senator St. Ledger for industrial peace. But I remind the honorable senator that there are several things which are much more valuable than peace. I should, no doubt, be a very peaceable and harmless individual if I lay down and allowed other people to use me as a footstool or a door-mat, but I say that a people who will permit themselves to be used in that way are too contemptible to have any consideration given to them at all. When we hear all these references to strikes and industrial unrest, it is curious that the only strikes alluded to are the efforts of the workers to secure an increased price for the commodity they have to sell, namely, their labour. There is not a single word in denunciation of the wealthy and mighty corporations when they go on strike. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, within the last month or six weeks, has struck three times. It has asked another £i per ton each time for its sugar, but there has not been a single word of denunciation of that strike against the whole of the people of Australia. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company demanded an increased price for the commodity it has to sell, and refused to supply anybody unless it got it. When the worker demands a little increased price for the commodity he has to sell - his labour - and refuses to supply it on any other conditions, he is immediately denounced ; we are told that there is industrial war, that the country is going to die dogs, and every one is going to be ruined. There is not a single word of condemnation for the great commercial strikes which are against the general public all the time. I am satisfied that most people in Australia have been convinced by the action of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company,, during the last month or two, that it is absolutely necessary to give to the Commonwealth Parliament the powers for the regulation and control of monopolies which we asked from them at the last referendum. I am certain that if the questions were put to them again, the people, voting in the light of the experience they have recently gained, would emphatically answer “ Yes “ to them.
– Did we not offer to do that?
– Who are “We”? Are we to understand that “ We” represents Senator St. Ledger
– No, I said “ We.” It is an absolute fact that we did so, through our leader in another place.
– The people who can give the Australian Parliaments the power asked for are not the “ We ““of the Opposition benches, but the people of Australia.
– I said that we offered them that power.
– Who are “We”?
– The party in both Houses.
– The party have nothing to do with it. It is the people of Australia who have the power. Really, the assumption of importance by some people is too absurd.
– It was not an absurd assumption of importance. I repeat that it was offered through the Parliament to the people.
– However, I am not concerned about having a wordy argument on the matter with the honorable senator. I am pointing out what the facts are, and the facts in regard to that great monopoly - which I believe is the greatest commercial monopoly in Australia - are so glaring, and have been brought so much home to the people by bitter experience within the last month or two, that I am perfectly satisfied that the people, not “ we.” will give to this Parliament the power which it sought at the last referendum, but which they refrained from granting owing to misrepresentations and the misconception which naturally followed from the misrepresentations.
– Pardon me, there is no difference of opinion between the parties on that matter.
– I am quite positive that by-and-by, when the people are convinced that this extension of power is necessary, Opposition members, with the honorable senator at their head, will be going round and howling that they were the men who advocated it and accomplished it all the time.
– Which is an absolute fact. We did.
– The honorable senator told us a few minutes ago that he went round Queensland fighting to his uttermost against the proposals put forward at the referendum., and it is quite true that he did. Did he advise any of his constituents to vote “Yes” to any of the questions?
– No wonder I did not. You so mixed them up that you did not give us a chance. You were hoisted with your own petard.
– Not only has the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, owing to the position of advantage which it occupies through being a monopoly, gone on strike against the people of Australia three times during the last five or six weeks by putting up the price of sugar by £1 per ton on each occasion, but it has also gone on strike against other important manufacturing industries. There are other manufacturing industries to which sugar is largely a raw material. Consequently, these manufacturers were considerably retarded in the conduct of their business by having to pay extortionately high prices for their sugar. Not only did this company exact these extortionate terms, but it also put forward a claim on its customers which should not be tolerated by any free people, and that is that they must buy every particle of sugar which they use in their business from or through the company, otherwise they will not be served on these terms at all. This corporation occupies a position which is, I think, very much worse. During the last few months we have had what Senator St. Ledger would call a very disastrous piece of industrial warfare in the sugar industry. It is a very curious fact, which is known to him as well as to any other gentleman acquainted with the position in Queensland, that for at least twenty years we listened to the howl of those engaged in the sugar industry to the effect that white men could not work in cane-fields in the tropics at all. That was the great cry of the black-labour people who were interested in the sugar industry at that time, and for twenty years, in season and out of season, it was dinned into our ears. During the last strike, however, what was the cry ? The cry was that the eight hours per day which we in Australia pride ourselves upon having adopted as a reasonable standard for a day’s work was ridiculous, and that these men should work from ten to twelve hours per clay in the tropics, where the black labour people formerly howled that white men could not work at all. The astonishing thing, to any reasonable, fair-minded man, in regard to that strike, is that it was necessary to have a strike at all in order to obtain such eminently fair and reasonable conditions as 30s. per week and tucker and eight hours per day in Australia, or, as an alternative, 42s. per week without tucker - that is, a miserable 7s. per day. Yet it was necessary for the men to enter upon a long continued strike in order to obtain these meagre terms. I think it is beyond the bounds of possibility for anybody to say that their demands were in any way excessive, and it was particularly strong, for those who formerly said that white men could not work in the tropics at all, to refuse to agree to a working day of eight hours. Were it not for the fact that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company dominates the whole position, that strike would not have been necessary, and for more than one reason. In the first place, the fact that the company dominates the whole position made private millowners and private growers afraid to go against its wishes in the matter, and it has always been a notorious sweater, a notorious employer of coloured labour at every place at which it could possibly employ them.
– It might be fair to say that they asked for an inquiry.
– There has been an agitation for a Commission of Inquiry ever since the Federation was accomplished, and the original intention was to make use of the organized evidence given by these people to stave off the attainment of the white labour ideal, and enable the growers to retain coloured labour in the sugar industry.
– Will not the Commission which is to be appointed go into the whole matter.
– I am not aware that there is to be a Commission appointed.
– The members in another place were told so by the Prime Minister.
– When a Commission is appointed, I shall believe it, and not before. I may have a word or two to say about the possibility of appointing a Commission before I have finished, but at present I am dealing with the position which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company occupies in the sugar industry in Queensland. My advices from that State are that the private growers were mostly in favour of granting the men’s demands, but the big mill-owners, headed by the company, set their faces against the demands and refused even to grant a conference to the men. Not only were the men’s proposals eminently fair, but they tried by every means in their power to find a peaceful solution of the difficulty. As far back as the beginning of March, and even before then,, they threw out invitations to the sugar-growers to have a conference in regard to the matters in dispute. The sugar-growers scornfully refused to have a conference, and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company poohpoohed the whole proposal, and said that it had no dispute with its employes at all, and would not hear of anything. The consequence was that the men were forced to enter upon an organized strike in order to obtain a minimum of the concessions which they had asked for. Now I do not want to be misunderstood. I do not wish to pose here as an advocate of strikes, or anything of the kind. I have been in a few strikes. I have always been a member of an organized industrial union, and I dislike strikes as much as anybody does, because they bring untold suffering upon persons who very often have no particular connexion with the industrial trouble in hand, as well as upon those engaged in the industry. But there are times when it becomes necessary for men to go on strike in order to obtain a minimum of justice, and the late sugar strike was undoubtedly one of that kind. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, as I have said, set its face sternly against a conference or against anything which would tend to bring about a peaceful solution of the difficulty, and the consequence was that we were threatened in Australia with, not only the sugar industry being hung up, but our great shipping industry, and, perhaps, several other industries being hung up, if the dispute were prolonged much further. It is a very serious thing, indeed, when one large corporation is given so much power that it is able to provoke a contest of that kind. A suggestion was put forward at that time by the Acting Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes, that perhaps an effective way to bring the company to its senses would be to remove the protective duty, and compensate the sugar growers in some other way. That might be a very effective way of dealing with the company, and I have not the slightest doubt that it would -bring the company to its senses, and completely protect the public from its depredations. If that had been done, the company would not have been able to charge the people of Australia £b or £1 a ton more for their sugar than they charged the people of New Zealand, where there is no protective duty. But I refuse to believe that that suggestion was put forward in any serious spirit at all, because I hold that the removal of the duty is not the remedy for the troubles existing in the sugar industry.
– Can you suggest a better remedy ?
– Whatever we may have to do to find a solution of the difficulty by-and-by, in my opinion the removal of the duty would result in nothing less than disaster. It must be remembered that, if you got even with the company by removing the duty, you would also stand a splendid chance of killing the sugar industry, and depriving men of any work at all, or the sugar-growers of any profitable source of employment. You might kill the whole thing, and there is no industry in Australia, whether protected or not, which is so valuable to the people as is the sugar industry, because it has settled in a portion of our coast, which otherwise would be practically unoccupied, a large, prosperous, and thriving population. The sugar duty is the only protective duty that I know of which has succeeded in settling a very large number of persons actually on the land, and which has given us a fixed population in a part of the coast which, perhaps, would otherwise be very sparsely occupied, and that settled portion, with a large number of workers employed on it, is the most effective occupation we can have, and the best means of defence against a foreign foe, if it should ever come against us, because, unless we have our land settled and occupied, our hope of effective defence will be very small indeed.
– The workers in the industry are sweated, and the consumers of sugar exploited.
– I have never heard in Melbourne a suggestion to abolish the duty on furniture simply because a large number of Chinese, who go in for sweating, are engaged in the furniture trade. I have never heard a suggestion that we should do away with the protective duty on harvesters, although Mr. McKay had a very large strike on his own a little while ago. If the abolition of a duty is the remedy to be applied to one part of Australia, then, undoubtedly, it must be applied to every other part. I am not one of those who believe that, because the referenda went against us, therefore we should cease to give effective Protection to Australian industries. While it is true that the employers sternly refuse, as they have always done, to give anything but the bare minimum wage to their workers, while they insist on grasping, for their own advantage, almost the whole of the benefit of the Tariff, I hold that the refusal to give Protection is not the way to build up Australia, or the way to do good for the workers. The way to do good for the workers is to build up industries by a protective Tariff, and to find another way of dealing with the recalcitrant employers who will not give a fair deal to their workers.
– The bounty is protection.
– I shall come presently to the question of the bounty. This is an interpolation necessary to furnish an answer to Senator Findley’s interjection. I am glad that he made it, because he has given me this opportunity of replying to his argument.
– Senator Findley was right.
– Probably he was right, according to my honorable friend’s way of looking at matters, but he will allow me to have my opinion. If any one proposed to remove the duty on salt, which affects South Australia, Senator W. Russell would be the very first to protest, although the industry? employs very, little labour.
– How does the honorable senator know that I should protest?
– I am certain of it; I know the honorable senator. I regret exceedingly - although some people seem to think it a matter for congratulation - that our revenue from Customs and Excise is mounting up by leaps and bounds. I regret that conditions in Australia are such that the revenue derived from importations is advancing by several millions. When we passed our last Tariff I hoped that it would bring us an increased revenue for a year or two, but I thought that after it had had the effect of establishing industries the revenue from Customs duties would considerably decline. I believed that it would do so in proportion as the people of Australia began to feel their feet in manufacturing industries and to supply their own wants to a larger extent. That is the natural effect of an effective protective Tariff. If the present Tariff is not effectively protective it ought to be made so. If it be wise to refuse to grant more Protection to Australian industries, because certain manufacturers will not give a fair deal to their workers, I say that those who take up that position should immediately advocate the removal of existing protective duties. If it is contended that the manufacturers are getting an undue advantage, and are not sharing it with their workers, the logical thing would be to wipe out the existing protection.
– There is no analogy between the sugar industry and any other industry.
– The honorable senator says that, because he has seen scarcely anything of the sugar industry and knows next to nothing about it. He can go up and down Little Bourke-street and see Chinamen, working in industries to which Wages Boards do not apply.
– Wages Boards apply to Chinese as well as to white men.
– I defy Senator Findley to show that Wages Boards or Factory Acts apply to furniture shops where only two or three Chinamen are employed. They can evade the law by splitting up their factories into separate rooms. As a matter of fact, that is done wholesale. There are one or two of the largest furniture shops in Melbourne in which you would find it to be almost impossible to get a single article made by a European ; and these are not merely “ hand me down “ second-hand shops, but some of the biggest warehouses in this city.
– Quite right.
– It is a matter that is within my own knowledge. Therefore, I say, that those people who would refuse full Protection because some manufacturers sweat their workmen and do not give them a fair deal, ought, if they are to be logical, to refuse to grant the present Protection until such time as the employers come totheir senses and grant better conditions to their employes. I, however, want to see all Australian industries placed under aneffective protective Tariff, whilst, at the same time, assuring to the workers a fair deal by other means. It was not the employers of Australia who beat us at the last referenda, and refused to give us the power that we wanted to secure to the workers a fair deal. It was the working people of Australia who beat us, simply because they were labouring under a misconception. Nine-tenths of the voters of Australia, from one end of this country to the other, are working people. Therefore, it must have been working people who beat us on the 26th April. If they had known in what direction their true interests lay, and had not been so grossly deceived by the campaign of misrepresentation indulged in by the press, and by honorable senators opposite, they certainly would have answered “ Yes “ to the referenda questions. I am satisfied that when the people of this country have been taught by bitter experience what the monopoly of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company means, they will give us such effective powers as will enable us to secure justice for them. But, in the meantime, no Australian industry should be allowed to suffer for want of effective Protection. When the people come to their senses and give us the power that we require, it will be useless to us if there is no employment for our people.
– Employers say now that they cannot get people to do their work.
– That is all bunkum. Any number of black-legs can be got when a strike is on. Ship loads of men have been taken from Tasmania and Victoria recently to beat the sugar workers in Queensland. When men can be obtained for employment in far distant Queensland to break down a strike, it cannot be said that there is not sufficient labour in this country.
-Colonel Cameron. - Are not the conditions in Queensland very favorable to the workers?
– How can they be very favorable, when all that the sugar workers were asking for v.as 30s. a week and an eight-hours day ? In Victoria workmen would be ashamed to accept such wages and conditions of employment; yet here they enjoy all the pleasures of a good climate and the high civilization of a beautiful city like Melbourne.
– I saw a statement that some of the sugar workers were making ^5 a week.
– It is possible on contract work, but the strike did not touch contracts. A party of really good cutters going into a good field of cane, where the crop is fairly heavy, has not been tossed about by wind, and is not overcrowded, can earn very high wages ; but the average, taking one week with another, is nothing like so high as £5.
– I suppose that all the work is not done by contract ?
– No. Nearly all the cutting is done by contract, but, of course, there is a large amount of other work, which it would not be possible to do by contract. It would be very difficult to frame conditions of contract which could cover the whole ground. I came into this Parliament as an advocate of effective Protection. I remain an advocate of effective Protection still. While I am as much in favour of the new Protection as any man in this Parliament or in Australia, yet I say that the one need not wait on the other.
– Oh, yes, it must.
– It is our duty, first of all, to find work in Australia, and then to find means of insuring that the workers shall have a fair share of the value.
– Trust to luck ; there has been too much of that.
– I am driven back to this position by the interjection of Senator Findley - that there are people in Australia who would see this country without industries at all if we cannot have ideal conditions prevailing in them. I say, however, that while striving for the ideal conditions we must take care that we have the industries established, so that when the ideal conditions are obtained the workmen will have employment.
– A hundred and one industries have been established in which fair conditions ought to prevail, but the men cannot obtain them.
– If the honorable senator were logical, he would take up this attitude : ‘ ‘ Because you have not given us the fair conditions we desire, we will take away from you the Protection you now have.”
– The honorable senator does not propose to do that in Queensland.
– I would propose to do that to-morrow if I took up the same attitude as the honorable senator does. We should establish industries, and insist upon fair conditions for the workers prevailing in them. As soon as the workers themselves are seized of the advantage of giving to this Parliament the necessary powers, as they were invited to do in April last, I am perfectly satisfied that they will obtain what is their due. But if we hope to get a reversal of the referenda vote by holding out either a bribe or a threat to the manufacturers, I say that the manufacturers cannot help us if they would. They are such an infinitesimal small proportion of the whole population of Australia that the whole of their votes count only for a very small factor. It is the votes of the workers which count in this country ; and as soon as the workers are satisfied that we are asking for a fair thing, they will give us the power we desire. I come back to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and its control of the sugar industry. 1 find that in Australia last year some 16,000 tons of sugar were produced by coloured labour. We have been all striving very hard for the realization of the White Australia ideal. We have been striving very hard to bring about white labour conditions in the sugar industry. But we have not succeeded yet to the fullest possible extent.
– What is the total sugar production?”
– For the season 1910-11, the total amount of sugar produced in Australia was 226,092 tons, of which 209,422 tons was produced by white labour and 16,670 by black labour. Of the quantity produced by coloured labour it is safe to say that about nine-tenths was produced under the auspices of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. In North Queensland, wherever they possibly can, they lease lands to Chinese growers. The sugar is grown by Chinese labour under Chinese conditions,, and the cane is crushed by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. They go so far that, on the Herbert river, where they lease a tramway from the local authorities from Lucinda Point to Ingham, they even do the fettling by coloured labour. Of course, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is open to the usual criticism applying to companies, that it has neither a body to be kicked nor a soul to be damned. All its desire is to grind dividends out of the people of Australia for the benefit of its shareholders, and it employs every means at its command to accomplish that object. It employs coloured labour wherever there is a chance by leasing land to Chinese, and it takes the cane of the Chinese, grown under Asiatic conditions. Why should this Commonwealth of Australia encourage the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to do that sort of thing by giving to the sugar grown by coloured labour a protection of no less than £2 a ton ? It is not fair to refuse protection to the white employer because he will not give fair conditions to his employes, when we are giving protection to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company which employs Chinese. I entered the Senate as an advocate of the abolition of all Protection to sugar that is produced by coloured labour. I did my best to secure that result, but only succeeded in getting the measure of Protection that was accorded to sugar grown by black labour decreased by £1 per ton, .and the bounty that was paid to sugar grown by white labour increased by a similar amount. In order to show the position which I assumed when I contested an election for a seat in this Parliament seven years ago, I propose to quote from the first speech which I delivered at Cairns, the town in which I lived, and which is one of the important sugar-growing centres of Queensland. Upon that occasion I said -
Outside sugar was taxed £6 per ton, and an Excise duty of ^3 placed on home-made sugar, thus leaving ^3 protection for even black-grown sugar, a bonus of £2 given to white sugar, making the protection on the white article equal to £5. Now, in his opinion, the Commonwealth Parliament made a great mistake in allowing the black sugar any protection at all, and he would like to see an Excise duty levied of j£6, equal to the Protective duty, the whole of the Excise to be given back to white-grown sugar. (Cheers.) If he succeeded in being returned this is what he would advocate - no benefit through the Tariff at all on black sugar, but the full benefit of .£6 per ton on white. (Applause.) . . . Were white people interested in maintaining industries for the benefit of the Chinese? He thought not; but they were profoundly interested in maintaining industries for the benefit of white people to enable them tolive and be prosperous and benefit the country. He thoroughly believed that to take away every farthing of Protection from black-grown sugar was the best thing to do in the interests of the State. He was satisfied that if the Federal Government had done it at first there would not be now a single employer of black labour in Queensland.
I had that speech printed in pamphlet form, and distributed broadcast throughout Queensland. At the time (I was practically an unknown man, and was advocating revolutionary principles in regard to the sugar industry. Yet I was elected. How, then, can it be urged that the people were not in favour of the policy which I advocated? It is ridiculous that we should give to the growers of sugar by black labour a protection of £2 per ton. Oneway in which we could place more people upon the sugar lands of Australia, and garrison our Northern coast, is by removing that protection.
– Does that argument mean that the honorable senator, would- practically prohibit Chinamen from tilling, the soil ?
– If the Chinese at present in Australia choose to continue to grew sugar, by all means let. them do- so. But it is- no part of the business- of’ oar people to pro-vide them with a subsidy or protection for doing so.
– I thought that the object of the duty was to abolish black labour.
– When we levied a protective duty in the first instance, the idea underlying our action was to enable sugar to be grown by white labour. Consequently, there is no- necessity to give any protection whatever to sugar grown by coloured labour.
– I thought that ,£3 per ton represented the measure of Protection granted to black grown sugar.
– The original position was that this Parliament levied a protective duty of £6- per ton, and an Excise duty of j£$ per ton, upon sugar. But £2 per ton of the Excise duty was afterwards refunded to the white grower in the form of a bounty. Since them- the Excise has been increased’ to £4 per ton, and the bounty to ,£3 per ton. Consequently, the grower of sugar by white labour enjoys, a protection of £5 per ton. He receives £3 per tom by way of bounty, plus the difference between the Excise and the protective duties. The grower of sugar by coloured labour receives no bonus whatever, but gets an effective protection of £2 per ton. I say that that protection should be removed by this Parliament immediately. Nearly the whole of the sugar that is produced by coloured labour is grown under the auspices of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, because the Chinaman is a more subservient individual than the white worker - or, as Senator St. Leger would describe him, “a more peaceloving, employe” - his standard of living is lower than that of the white man, and consequently he receives a preference from it.
– If we removed that duty, does the honorable senator think that we should do away with the Chinese who are employed in the industry?
– I am certain of it. There would not be a single stick of cane grown by Chinese labour. Further, we should not be placing the growers of sugar by coloured labour in any worse position than they occupied, prior to the establishment of Federation, It has been, suggested in some quarters that, the most effective way to deal with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company would .be by starting a national refinery, and I quite agree with that view. I am1 perfectly certain that the one way in which this powerful corporation can be brought to its senses is by the establishment of a national refinery, and preferably that refinery should be controlled by the Commonwealth Government. But, unfortunately, the Commonwealth does not possess the power to establish a refinery, and when we asked the people to give us that power at the recent referenda, owing to the. campaign of misrepresentation which was -indulged in they refused to do so.
– Why does not the Queensland Government set up a refinery of its own?
– When I was a member of the Queensland Parliament, in the 1’ate nineties, I advocated, by specific motion, that the State Government should establish their own refinery. I pointed out that it was ridiculous for them to sink £”500,000 in central mills, unless they were prepared to go further and refine their own sugar, so as to make it ready for human consumption. But the interests of the monopolists were paramount with the Queensland Government at that time, just as they appear to be now. Senator Walker cannot be blind to the enormous influence which this monopoly exerts with a certain class of politicians.
– I do not admit that it is a monopoly.
– I. have not asked my honorable friend to do so.
– What about the Millaquin Refinery?
– It -can deal only with just as much sugar as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company permits it to deal with. That statement I can prove to the satisfaction of the honorable senator. The company has an absolute monopoly of the whole business of refining and distributing sugar throughout Australia, in addition to which it goes in for producing raw sugar by means of its own crushing mills. We have been told repeatedly that this beneficent corporation, which commands the admiration of so many Liberal politicians of the type of Senator Walker, has accomplished much. It has accomplished much at the expense of the people of Australia. Quite recently it has fleeced the consumers by raising the price of sugar three times within a month, and it has also systematically fleeced the growers, to whom it pays from 4s. to 6s. per ton less for their cane than they receive from the Central Co-operative Mills. It is no wonder that the company is able to do a great deal, seeing that it makes a disclosed profit of nearly £500,000 a year, whilst its undisclosed profit must be very much more.
– I suppose that the honorable senator knows that the company has mills in Fiji?
– I do; also that a large proportion of the profits which the company makes in Fiji is utilized in further developing its property there. I would also point out that the profit which I have mentioned is not made on capital actually subscribed. Time after time the companyhas watered its shares to an exorbitant extent. It pays its shareholders a paltry 10 per cent, dividend, with an occasional bonus, and every now and again it hands them over an enormous dividend by applying a large portion of its undisclosed profits to the creation of new shares. I repeat that my opinion is that the most effective way to deal with this huge monopoly is by establishing a national refinery. Preferably, this work should be undertaken by the Commonwealth, which has authority from one end of Australia to the other. Senator Walker has asked me why the Queensland Government do not establish a State refinery. My answer is that the powers of the State Government do not extend beyond its own borders.
– Is not nine-tenths of the sugar produced in Australia grown in Queensland ?
– But it is not consumed there. Nine-tenths of the sugar produced in Australia is consumed outside of Queensland. Therefore, it is desirable that the Commonwealth Government should establish a national refinery. But, unfortunately, it has not the power to do so. I am aware that that very powerful journal, the Age, has recently published a series of articles in which it advocated the establishment of a sugar refinery by the Commonwealth. I can hardly persuade myself that the Age is serious in this matter. The writers of the Age are too well informed not to be aware that the Common wealth has not the power, under the Constitution as it stands, to engage in commercial enterprises of that kind. The Age was one of the most potent factors in Victoria in preventing us from getting the necessary power to do so. It, of course, assumes a high attitude, and says, “ There are our arguments, and there is no disputing them.” But if those arguments were presented to the High Court of Australia, which is the deciding tribunal, they would cause only a smile of derisive contempt at such puerilities being put forward as serious propositions. Of course, the writers of the Age strive to cloud the issue by a statement of fact that we could start a sugar refinery on the lines of the military clothing and harness factories ; or we could start a sugar refinery in the Federal Territory, or the Northern Territory, which are under the sole jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Parliament. All these statements are quite true, but they do not apply in this case, because they provide no remedy. We could establish a sugar refinery to supply our own employes with refined sugar as part of their daily wage, or as rations supplied to them under contract, but that would not solve the question of the price of sugar to the public, nor would it affect the monopoly of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. It is also true that we might start a refinery to produce unlimited refined sugar in the Federal Territory, or in the Northern Territory, but what would be the use of that when we dare not sell it outside the bounds of the territory under Federal control. With the small population of the Northern Territory, or of the Federal Territory, all the refined sugar we could find a market for would not be worth taking into account, and directly we embarked upon the commercial enterprise of distributing the sugar outside the boundaries of Federal territory we should go beyond the limits imposed upon our action by the Constitution as Tt stands. The writers of the Age are usually well informed, and I have no doubt that they are as well aware of these facts as I am, but they desire now to climb down after the abnormal attitude they took up at the time of the referenda.
– But could we make sugar refining pay, if refineries were established in either of the Territories mentioned? Would it not be necessary, to establish a refinery on the seaboard?
– I am not now dealing with that aspect of the question. If, as I say, we could not engage in such an enterprise, the question whether we could do so profitably or not does not arise. There is another way in which this matter could be dealt with. When the sugar strike was at its height, the Minister of Trade and Customs visited Bundaberg, and most commendably attempted to put an end to it. He went up with the avowed purpose, which he tried his utmost to carry out, of effecting conciliation between the contending parties. The question arose whether the industry could afford the increased wages asked for. Some of the growers took up -this position : They said, “ You are retaining £i per ton out of the protective duty as a contribution from this industry to the revenue of the country. If you would forego that we should be able to give the men the improved conditions and better wages they are asking for.” It is quite true, as the growers pointed out, that the Commonwealth is deriving a revenue of over £200,000 a year from the sugar industry in the shape of £1 per ton Excise duty, representing the difference between the amount of Excise collected on white-grown sugar and the amount of bounty paid. And, in addition to that, the Commonwealth receives £4 per ton Excise on over 16,000 tons of sugar produced by coloured labour ; the total amounting to .£230,000 or £240,000 per annum. That is a handsome contribution to the revenue, but the Minister of Trade and Customs suggested, in order to bring about good conditions in the industry, that the Government might be willing to give up that £230,000 or £240,000, and give the growers the benefit of the full £6 per ton protection. Still he could arrive at no settlement, and he had to come back to Melbourne disappointed at having been unable to effect his object. I think that., allowing that £1 Excise to the growers would not solve the difficulty, or place them in a better position than they are in at the present time to pay fair wages to their employes. In my opinion, the position would not be altered by the adoption of that course, because, no matter what Protection this Parliament gives the sugar industry, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company collars the lion’s share. I pointed out a little time ago that of two mills established side by side, one a Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s mill, and the other a co-operative mill, the latter can afford to pay from 4s. to 6s. pelton more for cane than is paid by the former. I can go further, and say now that the co-operative mills could pay at least 10s. per ton more than the Colonial
Sugar Refining Company’s mills are at present paying for cane if they could get a fair price from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for their raw sugar. It therefore appears to me that every concession may fatten the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and do little good to the growers and workers in the industry. But if we were to establish a rival refinery of some sort, a national refinery under the Commonwealth, a State refinery under a State Government, or a co-operative refinery worked by the growers, we would effect a great saving, which would benefit every citizen in Australia, as well as the people immediately engaged in the sugar industry. At present, at the sweet will of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company,- the people of Australia are paying from £d. to fd. more per pound for sugar than they need pay ; the growers have to accept less for their cane than they ought to be asked to accept, and, in their turn, pay less wages and provide worse conditions for their workers than they would otherwise be able to do. As, apparently, we are powerless to establish a national refinery, and as the State Governments will not undertake the duty of establishing a State refinery, the only alternative left - and the one which I admit is the least desirable - is the establishment of a cooperative refinery, I put forward the suggestion, for the consideration of the Commonwealth Government, in the interests of the people of Australia, as a whole, and of the sugar industry, that a large portion of the revenue now derived from sugar might be devoted to the establishment of a co-operative refinery on somewhat similar lines as those on which the Queensland Parliament voted £500,000 for the establishment of central mills to crush the cane and produce the raw sugar. It would nor be too much to apply to the purpose if the object in view were anything like accomplished. The people of Australia pay far more than £250,000 a year in an undue price for sugar. If we could, without great cost, by a loan or a subsidy, secure the establishment of a rival co-operative sugar refinery to supply the people of Australia, with sugar at a reasonable price, we could bring the directors and shareholders of the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company to their senses, effect a large saving to the people of Australia, and accomplish a great deal of good in connexion with a very valuable industry. I shall not go into details in connexion with the subject on this occasion. This is not the time for such details, but if the Royal Commission suggested is appointed, I shall be prepared to supply it with details, and to do my best to assist any one who thinks the scheme worth carrying out. In any event, some effective means will have to be found to deal with this question before the people of Australia come to find the position unbearable. I have to congratulate Parliament, the Government, and the country upon the fact that, after strong efforts on both sides, the great sugar strike which threatened to be so disastrous at one time has been satisfactorily settled. That is something to go on with, but while the conditions in the industry remain as at present, and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company continue to possess a monopoly, we can never be sure that the conditions of unrest will not again be revived, and trouble ensue. I believe that one of the most effective means of obviating anything of the kind would be to break the power of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which is dominating the whole position. It is not good for any industry that its condition should be dominated by a monopoly, and it is especially evil in the case of the sugar industry, which supplies an article of necessary daily use for every man and woman in Australia. While I admit that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company supplies a first rate article, I contend that in every other aspect of the case, the company entirely fails in its duty to supply this necessary commodity to the people at as cheap a rate as possible, consistent with the prosperity of the industry. I hope the Government will consider the suggestion I have made, and that if the Commission that has been so long talked of is appointed, it will give it the power to inquire into that, and cognate matters, so that every phase of the question may be covered. As I said in the beginning, I did not intend to cover any political ground at all, but to refer only to two or three matters of particular interest to myself and the people I represent. Having accomplished that, I have done all I desired, and I thank the Senate for the very patient way in which what I have said has been listened to.
.- We have all listened with a very great deal of interest to the speech of the honorable senator who has just sat down. I confess that I do not thoroughly understand the sugar question, and am very glad to obtain information to assist me to a clear understanding of the matter. It is lamentable that, although we have given between £2,000,000 and ,£3,000,000 to those engaged in the sugar industry, the conditions in that industry should be as they have been described. I agree with Senator Givens that a wage of 30s. per week for men working eight hours per day in such a climate is top little for white workers. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that something might have been done to remedy such a state of affairs. Nearly two years ago, a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate conditions in the industry, and it was only the illness of a Judge which prevented that Commission getting to work. When a change of Government took place, nothing was done to set the Commission to work to make the necessary inquiries, which might have avoided all the trouble that has since taken place in the industry. Apparently, the authorities were content to allow matters to drift until we reached the state of affairs which led to the recent strike. We were told a little time ago in the press by the Acting Prime Minister that a remedy would be found, and we thought that a remedy was going to be found, and right away ; but nothing has been done, and now the Government are falling back upon what the last Government proposed nearly two years ago, namely, a Commission, which could have reported within the period of six months, and which might have avoided all this trouble.
– An inquiry by a Commission always means delay.
– That is all that we are offered now. What else can we do? The honorable senator says that a suggestion has been made by a powerful newspaper that possibly a national refinery could be established which would take the sugar and treat it. The honorable senator casts ridicule on the proposal, but he does not state his reasons for so doing.
– I said that the reasons are to be found in the Constitution.
– We have as much right to take that contention as correct as to regard it as wrong. Why not test the point? Why not find out if the Government have the power to establish a refinery? I may be wrong, but I fancy, speaking from memory, that Senator Pearce, when he brought in his proposals in 1903, argued that under the trade and commerce power of section 51 of the Constitution the Commonwealth could take any industry and nationalize it and go into business. If he was right at that time, the same thing must be right now.
Senator Givens. “Oh, no; the High Court has had a very important say on the question since then.
– I am inclined to think that the Age, which does not speak at random, which is a most careful newspaper, and which has the best legal talent at its command whenever it advocates a proposal, would not have made this statement so clearly and so confidently as it has done unless it had ample ground for believing that the Commonwealth had power to establish a national refinery. However, let us hope that something will be done in order that this trouble may not be repeated. We have spent enormous sums of public money to secure the establishment of the sugar industry by white labour, and it is a pity that we have spent all that money if our people are to pay £6 or £7 a. ton more for the sugar than is charged in other countries, and there is to be such great dissatisfaction in the cane-fields. Senator Givens touched upon another point, and I think that he was scarcely fair. ‘He said that, at the referendum, the people refused to give to the Government power to deal with monopolies, and he argued as if that was the only question which was put to the country at that time. But he knows very well that that was not the case ; he is well aware that every speaker on a platform who was against the referenda at that time said that he was willing, and that the people should be asked, to give the power to deal with trusts and monopolies. But there were other important matters included in the referenda. There was a radical change proposed, which, if ratified’, would have dwarfed the States, and made them complete nonentities.
– Oh, rot !
– That is not argument. The fact cannot be escaped from. The States would have been dwarfed and made mere nonentities, and power would have been (given to this Parliament ‘to meddle with every industry, no matter how large or how small it might be. and to say that any industry it pleased was a monopoly, no matter what that industry might be. Senator Givens lias stated that at the referendum the workers were misled. Surely the workers of Australia have sufficient common sense to understand proposals when submitted. Is not the honorable senator uttering the strongest condemnation of the proposals themselves and the attitude which the Government and the Labour party took up in regard to them when he says that the workers, who compose ninetenths of this population, would not have them ? What stronger condemnation than that could he utter ? Does he think that the workers would turn against those whom they consider their friends, and defeat such proposals by a quarter of a million votes unless they thought they were unworthy of acceptance? The suggestion will not stand argument. At the last election we had senators returned by a majority of a few thousand votes - one candidate was beaten by only 1,100 votes. In a similar constituency - the whole of the people - we have proposals turned down by a majority of a quarter of a million votes. What a volte-face is that ! It is nonsense for Senator Givens to say that the people of Australia would not empower this Parliament to deal with trusts and monopolies. Every speaker from a platform would have consented to grant such power, and the people would willingly have clone so. As Senator St. Ledger said, an offer was made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place to agree to the referendum if it were confined to the question of taking power to deal with trusts and monopolies.
– The only source of information which most of the people had was the daily press, which had laid itself out to misrepresent the whole position.
– You were out speaking.
– Unfortunately., I was laid up with dengue fever most of the time.
– The people of Australia are not fools. They quite understand the right or the wrong of a proposal, and they were not prepared to accept the proposals of the Government, simply because they did not believe that they were wise and would be beneficial to Australia. It is of no use for any one to say that the people refused to grant to this Parliament power to deal with trusts and monopolies. If they had been asked for such a power, it would have been willingly conferred, but the Labour party, elated by their success at the general elections, and believing that the wave which swept them into power had not subsided, put forward these audacious proposals, and they met with a fitting fate. What do we find now? Do we find any intimation in the Speech that the proposals are to be made again ? No. The only announcement which is made is that power is to be asked from the people to deal with trusts and monopolies, because the Government know well that such power will be given, but the other powers asked for in April will not be given. With much of Senator Givens’ speech I am in thorough agreement. I sympathize with the men employed in the sugar industry. I think that they asked very little, but the honorable senator was wrong in condemning the proposal of the Age without our having the clearest legal opinion on the point. I read the articles very carefully, and it seemed to me that the writer had the best of the argument, and that the section dealing with trade and commerce does give that power. At any rate, it is worth a trial. As this Parliament meets year after year, one perceives the utter uselessness of a debate on the Address-in-Reply. Really, 1 think it is time that the Government took this matter in hand. Of course, we must have an Address, because it is .the King’s representative who calls Parliament together. I think that after the opening Speech is read, a simple motion, supported by the two Leaders, might be passed in a formal way, when we could get on to the business of the session.
– Suppose that we wanted to move an amendment?
– An amendment could be moved and decided, should the parties desire to try their strength. When there is no desire to move an amendment, why should so much time be wasted?
– Sit down then.
– I intend to waste a little more time, because that is the fashion. At the same time, I should be very glad to see this procedure done away with. We have listened to-day to two able speeches from Senators St. Ledger and Givens? but of what use are they ? Do they settle anything ? No. In the old days, a debate on the Address-in-Reply to the opening Speech might have been desirable to educate the people, but now we have a press which gives them all the information they require. The debate settles nothing, and very often it only embitters the relations between the two sides. If a debate of this kind were necessary at one time, surely it is less necessary than ever now when all the business of Parliament is threshed out by the dominant party beforehand, and questions settled so that the’ programme cannot be altered. We are here to-day as a registration body, and not as a representative or legislative body. We cannot alter the course of legislation once it has been settled. Why, therefore, should we waste two or three weeks of the country’s valuable time, especially after a recess of nine or ten months, in beating the air as we are doing? The Speech itself is very mild indeed. There is nothing very truculent about the Speech, and evidently the Government’s desire is to have a very quiet and peaceful session. 1 have heard that the depressing influence of the vote at the referendum is having its effect upon the party. Had their proposals been carried, we should have had a Speech containing very different proposals from those which are submitted.
– Of course you would ; there is no secret about that.
– But the people of this country have thought differently. We dare the Government to submit the same proposals to the people at the next election. I should be only too glad if they did, and if it resulted in my defeat I should feel better out of Parliament than inside. In this Speech, the Government speak about the prosperity of Australia. A little while ago, the Acting Prime Minister took credit to the Government for that prosperity. The prosperity of Australia does not lie with any Government, it lies in three or four inches of rain. It is rain which makes this country prosperous or otherwise. A Government can always do a great deal to mar its prosperity, and, in my opinion, this Government is doing so. The country is too good, and the seasons for the last five or six years have been too good, for even a Government as bad as we have now to do very much harm. I do not propose to touch at length on the delegation to the Old Country. As is known, I was against the voting of money for any person except the Prime Minister. I thought he was the only one who ought to have his expenses defrayed. I did not agree to the subsidizing of members of this Parliament to go to. the Old Country. It was a private invitation they received from private members of the British Parliament, and ought to have been accepted at their private expense. I think that the Government has been lavish in expending public money. I fail to see why three under-secretaries should have gone with the Ministers, and why the families of those officers should have been taken.
– They were not taken at the public expense.
– If all I hear is correct, there was a pretty good sum allotted to each officer.
– Fifty per cent, more than an officer ever had before. Senator McCOLL.- The Minister of Defence brought up this question in his speech, and he quoted one or two Ministers who had been rather extravagant, but he did not quote the case of a man - a better man than any of the Ministers who went Home lately - who went to England and did the business of this country at very much less cost. I remember the time when the gentleman who is leading the Opposition in the other House went to London in connexion with the passing of the Constitution Bill. ; The Victorian Government, of which 1 was a member, placed ,£1,000 to his .credit to cover his expenses, and he returned .£450 to’ the Treasury.
– Look at the rise in the cost of living. Senator McCOLL. - The Ministers who went to the Coronation recently were franked everywhere at Home. One member said that he attended fifty banquets in forty days. Surely other persons found the money to pay for their entertainment. What the result will be I do not know.
– I suppose that the honorable senator would do like Sutherland did - get £5 worth of threepenny-pieces for tips.
– I have never been called mean, and such a suggestion as that has, never entered my head. I have travelled in the Old Country, and in America, and happen to know what tipping is, certainly better than does the Minister. I think that the Prime Minister would have done well to have gone to the Old Country more as a representative of Australia than as a representative of the Labour party. He was met everywhere by Labour men - men who were no friends to this country. I think that he should have taken higher ground, and kept on a higher plane than he did. Keir Hardie, Ben Tillett, Barnes, and others, were not the men whom this country sent the Prime Minister Home to collogue with.
– Where did Ben Tillett meet the Prime Minister ?
– His name was mixed up with the Prime Minister and his party right through the affair.
– Where did he meet the Prime Minister?
– I am not sure.
– You ought to be sure before you speak.
– The Prime Minister was with Keir Hardie, anyway. However, I have no doubt that our friends had a good time in England. Fifty banquets in forty days was really good work. But I am afraid that they hankered very much more after the flesh-pots of Egypt than after the tents of Jacob. We may well ask ourselves now - what is Australia going to get from the whole expedition? The answer is, I think - practically nothing, or very little indeed. Ministers went to London to do honour to the King, and that is about the beginning and end of the whole matter.
– Does the honorable senator say, then, that Australia should not have been represented at the Imperial Conference?
– Certainly Australia should have been represented, but we did not require a whole posse of officials, nor did Federal Ministers need to be drynursed by their secretaries. .
– The honorable senator said that it would have beep better if we had stayed away.
– I did not say that Ministers should have stayed away. I know that one or two had to attend. It seems to me that Ministers and their supporters have been extremely unfair in regard to the claims made as to the origin of our present system of military and naval defence. A previous speaker attempted to give the whole of the credit to the Labour party. I interjected that that was exceedingly unfair to Mr. Deakin. Honorable senators opposite know very well that the establishment of an Australian Navy has been advocated for years by the Age and Mr. Deakin.
– How many years?
– Six or seven years. If honorable senators opposite will read the reports of the various Conferences, they will see that what I have stated is correct.
– Read the report of the 1903 Conference.
– Mr: Deakin did not go to England on that occasion. Australia was represented by Sir Edmund Barton and Sir John Forrest.
– Read the report of the Conference that took place in Australia in 1903.
– Something had to be done in the matter of defence at that time. The British Government wanted the naval subsidy to be nearly doubled. They succeeded in getting a promise that Australia would pay £200,000 a year and New Zealand £40,000, for naval defence. When that proposal was submitted here it was opposed by the Labour party, who have always been opposed to the British Fleet and the British Army. They have never had a good word to say for the British soldier and sailor. The establishment of an Australian Fleet has for years been in Mr. D eakin ‘s mind, though he had to accept the proposals made by Sir Edmund Barton and Sir John Forrest. If Parliament had rejected those proposals, we should have been loafing on the British Government and paying nothing for our naval protection. From that time forth, however, Mr. Deakin used all his efforts to get the Naval Agreement with the Admiralty cancelled. In 1907 he submitted definite proposals for the cancellation of the Agreement, and it was cancelled. To say, therefore, that the new scheme of defence is due to the Labour party is simply equivalent to going about in filched plumage. If honorable senators opposite will read the magnificent speech by Mr. Deakin, in which he laid down the whole platform and policy of naval and military defence in another place, they will realize how unjust their claims are. On that occasion Mr. Fisher said that the speech was the finest utterance Mr. Deakin had ever made, and that he cordially agreed with the policy there laid down. But Mr. Deakin did more than that. He placed £250,000 to a Trust Fund for naval defence purposes, though a promise was given that the money would not be touched until Parliament determined exactly how it should be spent.
– If eloquent speeches could have built a navy, we should have had the biggest navy in the world.
– That sneer is utterly unworthy of the Minister. I am afraid that he is getting “swelled head,” and is trying to trade upon the achievements of others, with which his own will stand no comparison. When the Labour Government came into office they took the money which Mr. Deakin had put aside for naval purposes and spent it, without the authority of Parliament, on the building of three destroyers. If honorable senators opposite say, therefore, that this Government is the author of the present policy of naval and military defence, they are claiming credit that is not due to them. I hope that the question will be definitely looked into by some impartial authority, and that the history of it will be given, in order that credit and blame may be attributed to the right people. I would especially ask honorable senators opposite to read that magnificent speech made by Mr. Deakin in 1907. With regard to the building of war-ships, I should like to know why a contract was given to the New South Wales Government to build for cost, with 10 per cent, added, without affording Victorian firms an opportunity to tender? 1 feel sure that other firms would have been glad to undertake the work on those terms. I also desire to touch on the question of universal training. I believe that the night drills for boys are doing a great deal of harm. Only the other day a State schoolteacher spoke to me in a very serious way as to their effect upon our youths.
– Does the honorable senator want the boys to drill on Sundays ?
– I want them to drill on Saturdays and in daylight. This teacher said to ‘me that, while the system was benefiting the youths physically, it was having a demoralizing effect upon them. I would urge the Minister to give this subject his most serious attention. If I had a lad of fourteen years of age, I would not send him to night drills. I would rather pay the penalty, and, if I could not get out of it in any other way, I would send him out of the country. I cannot think that it is right to require lads to go out to drill at night, with all sorts of fellows, listening to all sorts of language, under officers who have no real control over them. Some cases have been reported of larrikinism by some of the youths, but the Acting Minister of Defence merely sneered and took no further notice of them. Then there is the matter of drill halls. These lads should be drilled in proper halls, which should be obtained by the Government. Ministers say that they have attempted to obtain the use of halls all over the country, and have failed. But they refuse to grant the use of their own drill halls for any purpose. Only last week, application was made by a physical culture class in Kerang for the use of a drill hall in that neighbourhood for an hour or two a week. They were refused. Yet the Government say that Town Halls should be placed at their disposal for drilling purposes.
– We never said anything of the kind.
– Ministerial supporters have said so, and have complained that Town Halls were not placed at their disposal. In Canada, some of the finest halls in the country are what are called “ Armouries,” which are used for training purposes. Forces who have the use of places like those become, proud of their institutions and buildings, and are pleased to be trained in them. To drill young lads in the open air at night is not a right thing at all. If the ,£30,000 in excess of the amount authorized by Parliament, which has been spent upon the Federal Capital, had been devoted to the erection of drill halls in various parts of Australia, there would not have been so much ground for complaint. Parliament authorized the expenditure of £54,000 on the Federal Capital, but ,£84,000 has been spent. That was not a proper thing to do, and many of those who now support the Government would have complained if it had been done by any other Ministry. It also looks as if we were not going to get the best design obtainable for the Capital City. Competition is to be limited to a very small circle. When Washington was laid out, designs were invited from the whole world, and, as a matter of fact, a Frenchman was chosen ultimately to lay out the city. Every one who has been there knows that Washington is one of the best designed cities in the world. An endeavour should have been made to meet the views of English architects, in order that the widest possible range of competition might have been secured. One must be disappointed at knowing that nothing definite is contemplated in regard to the Tariff. We are told in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that the operation of the existing Tariff is “ being carefully watched,” but watching seems to be all that is to be done. I do not agree with the argument that before we touch the Tariff we should see to it that the workers get full benefit from it. Senator Givens was quite right in the argument he addressed to the Senate this afternoon. He said that’ if we are going to pursue the policy of securing full benefits to the workers before we institute a thoroughly scientific Protective Tariff, we shall, in the end, probably have a great Tariff but nobody working under it. I have always contended that we should secure work for our workmen first, and insure proper conditions of labour afterwards. But if we are going to deprive Australia of an effec tive Tariff until the labour conditions are satisfactorily arranged, we might as well wipe out Protection altogether. The truth seems to me to be that the Government are not sure of carrying Protection within their own party. We know that originally that party was just about equally divided on the Tariff issue.
– We are not sure about carrying the honorable senator’s kind of Protection at any time.
– Honorable senators opposite are not sure of themselves. They feel uneasy as to not being on safe lines. They say, “ This is a thorny subject, and if we touch it we shall have our hands scratched; therefore, we will simply watch and do nothing.” But that was not what the people expected at the last election. Thousands of Protectionists’- votes were given to the Labour party because it was believed that the country would get a larger measure of Protection from them than from the Fusion Government. Now, those voters feel that they have been betrayed. But there is another great danger to Protection in this country. We cannot shut our eyes to the danger that Protection may be ruined by the trade unions.
– We would get on all right if we had freedom of contract?
– The honorable senator will provoke some very nasty . remarks if he does not remain silent. At the Collingwood hat factory, from £^200,000 worth to .£300,000 worth of hats were manufactured last year, and £^200,000 worth were imported. Why were they imported? Because the factory could not get the labour which it required. The Hatters’ Union kept five hatters, who possessed certificates of competency and the clearances from their unions, out of work for three months after their arrival here, because it would not admit them into its ranks, unless they agreed to pay £40 each. This want of labour is what is going to kill Protection. Labour is wanted in almost every branch of industry in this country. Only a little while ago, I entered a furniture warehouse for the purpose of purchasing two or three small articles. I could not obtain them because, the factories, I was informed, were unable to fulfil their orders on account of the scarcity of labour.
– What were the benefits which the hatters were to derive for the money which they agreed to pay to the union?
– The right to work, which ought not to be denied to any man. To tell them that before they can obtain employment they must pay a heavy penalty is a queer way of extending a cordial invitation to them.
– It is sweating the worker.
– Then we are promised the establishment of a Commonwealth bank. I should like to know who is the Government adviser in this matter. Is it the Yankee who is running the Department of Home Affairs?
– I think, that is an unfair remark to make.
– He is the only person whose name is mentioned in connexion with it.
– Who is the Yankee?
- Mr. O’Malley, the gentleman who is administering the Department of Home Affairs, and who uses such very correct and elegant language himself.
– He is not a Yankee, but a Canadian.
– The establishment of a Commonwealth bank is a very big question. Similar institutions have been started in other countries, and we know the ruin which they have brought upon those countries. I ask the Government to be very careful in entering upon financial undertakings of this character. I believe that the idea underlying it is not so much a desire to help the people as_ to wage a vendetta against existing institutions. I hold no brief for private banks, or monopolies of any kind. But we must remember that banks as they exist today are an absolute necessity. I have made some inquiries into this question, and I have ascertained that the average amount held per shareholder in three banks in this city represents only ^£520 in two and £250 in the other. It is all very well to hold out to the people the delusive hope that they will be able to obtain cheap money; but our Savings Banks are paying depositors 3J per cent. on. their deposits, and lending money out at a per cent.
– If the Commonwealth bank pays its depositors a higher rate of interest, it cannot lend money as cheaply as can existing institutions.
– Of course not. If we hit a bank we do not harm it, but we harm the whole community.
– The Savings Bank will only pay 3J per cent, upon deposits UP to ^250.
– More than that amount may be deposited at the interest rate if it be placed to the credit of a trust account. Better terms cannot be obtained from any bank.
– It would be interesting to know how the honorable senator voted when he was a member of the Victorian Government at the time of the banking crisis. He ought to defend private banks.
– It is a great pity ‘ that the Government did not prop up all those banking institutions which failed at the time of that memorable crisis, because I believe that their security was absolutely sound. They should not have been allowed to suspend payment.
– What about the Federal bank ?
– I believe that the security held by each of those banks was good enough.
– If their securities were sound, why did they suspend payment?
– For the simple reason that -their assets were not liquid.
– Senator McColl gave a vote in the Victorian Parliament while that crisis was on. I will give him the particulars of that vote as it is recorded in the Victorian Hansard.
– I was a member of the Victorian Government at the time the banks suspended payment. It was not our fault that they did so. We did what. we could to keep them going.
– In what way?
– I do not remember. I know that the honorable senator is the ferret of his party, so that he can look the matter up.
– I am not the fox of my party.
– No; the .honorable senator is the Thug of his party— the knocker-out.
– On a point of order, I wish to know whether it is parliamentary to use that expression.
– The honorable senator knows that interjections are disorderly, and there has been nothing but a constant fire of interjections during -the last twenty minutes. I did not hear the expression to which he takes exception.
– I take exception to being classed as a “ Thug.” Senator McCoIl described me as the “ Thug” of my party.
– Order ! If Senator McColl used that expression, I ask him to withdraw it.
– The honorable senator also used a very nasty expression towards me. However, I withdraw, and leave it to his own good sense as to whether he will withdraw the statement which he made about me.
– You withdraw the expression that I am the ferret of my party, and I will withdraw the statement that I am not the fox.
– I observe from the Vice-Regal Speech that it is proposed to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. What lines the amendment will follow I do not know. I was very disappointed when I heard an honorable senator deprecating the idea of industrial peace. We know that early in the present year strikes appeared to be stirred up in all directions. Some gentlemen who ought to have been advocates of industrial peace were striving to create dissension everywhere. If we desire the good of Australia, we ought to do our utmost to insure industrial peace. Year after year we have been amending our Conciliation and Arbitration Act and introducing Wages Boards, with a view to bettering the position of the worker. But all our efforts have been in vain. Take the case of the Newcastle strike, which occurred in 1909. That was a monstrous strike, and it was started by the leader of the Labour party, the late Acting Prime Minister. He moved the resolution which brought it about. Then when the Coercion Act became law in New South Wales, and prominent members of the party became afraid of being gaoled, they sneaked out of the trouble, and allowed Peter Bowling to bear the brunt of it. I am glad to note that the development of the Northern Territory is to be taken in hand. I look upon the settlement of that Territory as the most serious problem which we have to face. I opposed the transfer of it to the Commonwealth, because I did hot believe in the conditions surounding the construction of the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek.
– The honorable senator turned turtle on the Federal Capital site question, anyhow.
– I did nothing of the kind. If these interjections continue, I shall be prompted to make some very nasty remarks. It will be very difficult to induce white people to settle in the Northern Territory and to cultivate it as it ought to be cultivated. I am sorry we have not a: Federal Bureau of Agriculture, so that the Government might send experts there and establish experimental farms. These will require to be established upon dry fanning lines, if they are to be a success. Hitherto all the great systems of agriculture have been formulated and carried on under moist conditions; but a system of dry land agriculture has not yet been formulated, though’ they are doing it in America now. It is a most serious problem - the problem of whether white men, and especially white women, will be able to make a living there. I do hope that the Government will have the whole question investigated, so that we may get the very best results from the land which is to be settled. A great responsibility rests upon the Ministry, and I am sure that any proposals of a sound and reasonable character will be acceptable to all parties.
– Surely the honorable senator does not say that there is ho dry farming in Australia?
– No; I am . aware that there is a good deal of dry farming carried on in Australia. What I am saying is that the question of how the Northern Territory is to be administered and settled is one of the most important which the Government have to consider. If they desire people to go there, take up land, and work it as farms, they must establish experimental farms in advance of settlement in order that the settlers may be informed as to what they ought to do, otherwise we shall have failure after failure. The Northern Territory is the danger zone of Australia. There are only 1,200 white people there, and it is not more than five or six days steam distant from Japan and China. I lately had the pleasure of listening to a gentleman who came from China and Japan two or three months ago. He made the statement that the changes taking place in China at the present time are enormous.- The Chinese are doing away with their old educational institutions, and are now running their schools on European lines. The latest implements of warfare are to be found there, and a Chinese Parliament will meet in 1913. The most important social, industrial, military and religious changes are taking place there, and very shortly the country, instead of being governed by the
Emperor, his Council, and Viceroys, will be governed by representatives elected by the people themselves. They are now building their Parliament Houses, and in 1913 a Chinese Parliament will meet. We have to bear in mind that China, with her 435,000,000 of people, is to-day a very different China from what she was a few years ago. The Chinese are a peaceful nation, but when people begin to realize their strength, they are sometimes disinclined to continue to be peaceful. A few years ago, the Chinese were asked by the British Government to refrain from dealing in opium; a term of ten years was arranged for the cessation of the traffic in opium, and -to-day there are whole provinces in China in which a poppy plant is not to be seen. In a few years now the traffic will be at an end. The whole condition of China is altered, and we must have the Northern Territory settled, or we may have to deal with a people who, by sheer weight of numbers, might overbear not only Japan, but this country as easily as possible. I am very glad to see that the Government are proposing reciprocal - trade relations with Canada and New Zealand. It will be of great advantage to this country if we establish trade relations with Canada. We have to depend on our primary products from the soil for our prosperity, and we must increase the markets for those engaged in our primary industries. There is no market that seems to me more tempting than the Canadian market. There will be soon running into Vancouver four great lines of railway ; the seasons in Canada dovetail into ours, and if we could get our fruit carried there, -we should for three or four months of the year command the Canadian market. If we wish our people to be settled on the land, it is our duty to find markets for. their produce, and we should require a direct line of steamers from each port. There are enormous opportunities for trade in Canada; there are 7,500,000 people there, whilst we have only 4,500,000. Canada has only 7,250,000 -cattle, whilst we have 11,250,000, and Canada has only 3,000,000 sheep, whilst we have no less than 92,000,000. There is room for a great trade with that country, in frozen meat, dairy products, and fruit. I. hope, therefore, that the Government promise to establish reciprocal trade with Canada will be given effect. -We must have direct lines of steamers from each of our large ports. Hitherto, exports to Canada have had to be transhipped al; Sydney, and this has in volved a great deal of unnecessary expense. It is a drawback and a danger to Australia that boats running between this country and Canada should call at New Zealand. In one case, I know that sixteen Americans who were coming over with the object of settling in Australia were intercepted in New Zealand, and they remained there. I know also that some undergraduates from Pueblo, Colorado, coming to -this country stopped at New Zealand, and were persuaded to remain there.
Sitting suspended from 6-36 to 8 p.m.
– I have said that there are. four lines of railway now running into Vancouver. They . are the Great Northern, the Northern Pacific, the Canadian Pacific, and the Grand Trunk lines.
– They do not jib at one transcontinental railway in Canada.
– No ; but they leave the building of railways to syndicates there.
– The Government do not pay for them either.
– Should not the land given to the companies be regarded as pay- ment ?
– It is part payment, of course, but I am not discussing that question just now. I am speaking of Canada as a market for our produce. I am showing how the country is being opened up, and that there is there a great scarcity in the local production of fruit, butter, and mutton.- Mutton is almost unknown in Canada, because of the very small number of sheep there. I hope the Government will keep these matters in view. I am aware that an order was received some time ago in Victoria from Canada for 50,000 cases of apples, but, because of lack of space on the boats, they could not be supplied. I may inform honorable senators that Washington imports peaches under cold storage from South Africa, and their fruits bring high prices in Washington and in London. Our seasons dovetail into the Canadian seasons, and we ought to make a. big effort to get into- the Canadian market. The land tax is referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech as having cheapened land and induced settlement. ‘ It has not cheapened land, nor do I think it will do so, but I believe that it will have some effect in the breaking up of large estates, and so will induce settlement later on. It is, however, too early yet to take credit for the land tax for any increased settlement. A reference is made to the trip to Papua.
Personally, I think it was a useless waste of money. The members of this Parliament who took part in it no doubt had a very good trip, but they could not have obtained much information, and their visit will, I think, be of very little use to the country. A reference is also made to penny postage, and it is claimed that if the Federal Government err in anything it is not in administration, I do not think the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department was ever worse than it is at the present time. The whole service is rife with complaints. I wish particularly to call attention to the way in which country services and post-offices are being treated. When the revenue from country services does not equal the cost of running them, the Government are making the people pay the difference, unless it amounts to less than £5. The Department threatened to discontinue a service in one of the northern districts of Victoria because the revenue derived from it was £6 7s. id. short of what was expended. I came down specially to Melbourne to try to induce the Department to alter its determination. If the difference had been £4 19s. 6d., the people would not have been charged anything, but as it amounted to £6 7s. id. they were asked to pay up that amount, or the service would be discontinued.
– The whole of it, or the difference between that amount and £5?
– The whole of it. A number of people are dependent upon the service for mail facilities, and the district is a remote country one. I wrote to the Department, and offered to guarantee the amount required, but the authorities would not accept my guarantee, and, in order to keep the service going I gave my cheque, and hold a receipt for the amount now in my possession. -I think this is cutting matters a little too fine. It seems to me that where there is a large population, and a big voting strength, the people get every consideration, whilst scattered settlements in our back districts receive no consideration at all. I intend to test the feeling of the Senate as to whether this sort of thing should be continued. In pre- Federal days there was nothing of this sort. Districts were not charged with any shortage in the revenue from public services. In many cases post-offices were kept open where the cost amounted to a shilling apiece for the delivery of letters. We are continually preaching to the people that they should go upon the land, and yet the Government are depriving them of the ordinary advantages of citizenship, unless they pay personally for the cost of the services they enjoy. In many cases the payments to persons in charge of allowance post-offices have been cut down. I have a letter from another part of the northern district of Victoria, from a man who is being paid £5 a year for keeping a post-office. He has been given notice that from the 1st July last his remuneration will only be at the rate of £3 a year. It is not a very big post-office certainly, but the man is required to be always in attendance. The postage is stated to be 708 letters and 276 packets, and he receives 2,484 letters and 1,500 packets. He is allowed the privilege of selling stamps, provided he pays cash for the stamps beforehand, and he is then given a commission of 6d. in the £1 on their sale.
– Does he find office accommodation ?
– He has to find all the necessary office accommodation. The Department does not pay a single penny for that. He is required also to do parcel post work, to make up mails, register letters, and keep the office open to the public all the year round for a payment of 2 1/2 d. a day.
– Did he do this f °r £5 a year ?
– He did, and is prepared to continue to do so, but he is now to get only £3 a year.
– After doing that work for £5 a year, he should be compelled to do it for nothing.
– It is difficult to get people to take charge of these post offices in remote country districts on the terms fixed by the Post and Telegraph Department. If the number of letters dealt with is 600 to 1,000, the payment made is £1 ; if 1,000 to 2,000, £2 ; 2,000 to 3,000, £l J 3>000 to 4,000, £4 ; 4,000 to 5,000, £5 > 5»°°o to 6,000, £6 ; 6,000 to 7,000, £7 ; and 7,000 to 8,000 £8, which is the maximum amount paid for what are called allowance post offices. I think that a stop should be put to that sort of thing at once. It is cruel to treat the country districts in such a way. I intend to submit a motion to the Senate dealing with country mail services, and the payments made to country postmasters. Another step taken by the Department which I look upon as distinctly retrograde is the closing of post and telegraph offices at 6 p.m. This has been, on many occasions, a serious inconvenience to me, and it must be of very great inconvenience to the public at large throughout Australia. I notice that a large deputation waited upon the Minister yesterday in connexion” with this matter, but they got rather cold comfort from him. He is disposed apparently to look at it from the pounds, shillings, and pence point of view only. He has said that only so many telegrams are received after 6 p.m., and the offices cannot therefore be kept open.
– On that argument we should close up the Pacific cable.
– On that argument we might justify the closing of a number of services. The Government are concerned about a paltry saving in one direction whilst they are pouring out money in another. It is like pouring out the contents of a barrel at the bung-hole and saving them at the spigot.
– The closing of post offices after 6 p.m. applies only to Victoria.
– It applies- also in New South Wales. I was in that State a little time ago, and could not send a telegram after 6 p.m.
– In Western Australia the offices have never been opened after 6 o’clock.
– Western Australia is not developed yet. If a person has never enjoyed a privilege he does not feel the lack of it. But people who have been accustomed to a privilege all their lives feel the lack of it very keenly when they are deprived of it. I see that the progressive land tax is spoken of as. having had some effect in attracting immigrants. That is rather far fetched. I think that it has had very little effect in increasing land settlement up to the present, and the statement that it has attracted immigrants is merely a tarradiddle. The immigrants who have been coming to Australia within the last year or two have been induced to come here through the exertions of the State Governments who have been making special efforts to introduce people.
– Why does not the honorable senator give some credit to the High Commissioner’s Office?
– The High Commissioner is not the land tax, and, though his efforts may have had some effect, he has not been very long in the position, nor has he very much money at his disposal, to further emigration to Australia. It has recently been due to State agencies, and let me tell honorable senators opposite that the main factors in stopping emigration to” this country are the Trades Unions and Political Labour Councils.
– What rot !
– There is not one Labour programme which has been issued during the last nine years in which immigration was a plank. I have the programmes for 1903, 1906, and 1909.
– Is there any programme in which immigration was denounced”?
– No; but there have been plenty of meetings and gatherings at which immigration has been denounced. What has stopped persons from coming here from the Old Country has been these warnings as to the state of the labour market, and the alleged conditions here, which have been constantly transmitted from political labour councils and trades unions.
– The Age is continually objecting to the importation of military officers, and why should not the workers object to the importation of men to compete with them?
– The bodies I have mentioned have been subsidizing demagogues at Home to put articles in their newspapers. In Wales the Prime Minister told a body of men that in Australia there was work for those who chose to come, and the workers here are bringing him to book for doing that.
– The “ stinking fish “ party is doing more to prevent immigration than is any one else.
– The Labour party; is the “stinking fish” party which is keeping persons from coming to Australia. Perhaps the honorable senator will believe what John Burns says. When exception was taken, at the Congress of 1907, to the operations of the Immigration Bureau in England, he stated that what was stopping emigration to this country more than anything else was the reports sent Home about the conditions of the labour market here by private, semi-private, and public bodies. Honorable senators on the other side have only to look at their own newspapers to find the proof of what I say. If you want to get the mind of a party, do not” go by its addresses, but read its press. Where will )’Ou find any Labour press in advocacy of immigration to this country? Yet that is our one great want. You will find men like Ben Tillett and Tom Mann continually running down this country, which treated them well. In the Daily Mail a year or two ago, Ben Tillett had a paragraph put in stating that in Victoria there were 100,000 men, women, and children in a state of absolute destitution. Will . any one say that that was true ? Senator Henderson. - You will admit that at one time there was an immense number of destitute persons in Victoria. I am not prepared to say that the number was’ 1 00; 000.
– Do not try to excuse a statement of this kind.
– I have seen the streets crowded with such persons.
– So have I, and gone through them; but that occurred a very long time ago.
– Perhaps the occasion to which you refer occurred a long time ago.
– In this paragraph it was stated, at the instance of Ben Tillett, that in Victoria 8,000 or 9,000 children died each year from the want of food. That is the sort of information which is sent Home, and stops persons from coming out. The workers in Canada and America do not do that. America has been getting 1,000,000 immigrants a year for the last twenty or thirty years. She raises no protest against persons entering her territory, because she knows that the more persons come, the more work there will be for everybody. Let honorable senators on the other side read their Labour newspapers, and see what they have published on this subject. ‘ I want now to refer to the difficulties which appear’ to be in the way of the Minister of Defence in regard to carrying out his scheme. I notice that in some parts pf the. country, especially in Broken Hill, some extraordinary resolutions have been passed. In a newspaper of the 5th inst. I read the following resolution: -
That, whereas under the existing compulsory military law, the youths and young men, from 14 years to 26 years, who are being, or are to be, disciplined by officiating flunkeys of a financing faction, may be called upon in the future to put the quietus on the aims and activities of organized labour, we, the members of the Barrier branch of the A.M. A., register our protest against the ‘politically-propped military scheme, and pledge ourselves to use every means, legitimate or otherwise, to frustrate the side of mad-frenzied Australian jingoism that at the present juncture is being fostered by the political misgivings of all parties.
Further, we call upon all unionists who are fathers of conscripts to counteract the damning influence of military officers by inculcating the spirit of independence and proletarian principles- ia their sons, so that they will always instinctively know where their class interests be, and incidentally where to turn their rifles in the event of industrial unrest, whenever and wherever the powers that be decree that ball cartridges be resorted to. And that all members of this association be asked to refrain from allowing their sons to be trained under the Compulsory Military Act, and in the event of any member being prosecuted, this association offers its moral and practical support.
That this .association is also in favour of the general strike as a means to prevent war.
They say that they will support no Labour member who does not vote for wiping out the Defence Act. And further, they withdrew their support from the HospitalSunday movement -
The meeting decided to send the resolution tothe local Federal member (Mr. Thomas), requesting him to bring it before Parliament. It was also resolved that members of the association refrain from supporting Labour membersof Parliament who do not vote for wiping out the Defence Act. A committee of twelve wasappointed to prepare a manifesto in opposition to the Act, and to conduct a campaign against it. Another resolution adopted was to the effectthat the association refrain from taking any part in the coming Hospital Sunday demonstration if the cadets are to take part.
The general public refuse to take the resolutions seriously. The association officially reports that its meeting was crowded, and that, the resolutions were unanimously adopted, but. outsiders, including many unionists, assert tha*, the resolutions were the creation of the Socialists in the association.
In a newspaper of the nth inst. I read-
Submitting to the request of a deputation fromthe Amalgamated Miners’ Association’s antimilitary campaign committee, the Hospital Sunday demonstration committee last night decided to recall the invitation given to the cadets totake part in the Hospital Sunday procession. The deputation promised that if the cadets were not allowed to march the association would turn out in strong numbers. The decision to excludethe cadets was carried by 16 votes to 10.
– I do not think much of the Committee then.
– Yes ; but that is theposition. What is the Minister of Defence going to do? Will he have the pluck totackle that sort of thing, or will he liedown to it? If he does not act properly,, then good-bye to our Cadet system.; because that sort of feeling will spread.
– Do not troubleabout it.
– The honorable senator is a man of peace, and does not likethis sort of thing. That is all I have to say. The Government, apparently, are not in a hurry to get on with work ; but I hope- (that we shall have a pleasant and useful session, and that our legislation will be for the benefit of the country.
Senator E. J. RUSSELL (Victoria) J8.20I. - I feel somewhat at a disadvantage in having to follow an honorable senator who possesses all the virtues, both political and otherwise, while he considers that anything which may come, ..from this side can :be of no use, ornamentally or otherwise, or of practical effect in politics. I have .been pondering for some considerable time to discover what could be his motive. I must admit that generally he is friendly outside the Chamber, but whenever he rises here it seems impossible for him to do anything but endeavour to create personal conflicts for some ulterior object.
– Never until it is forced upon me.
– Of course it is forced upon the honorable senator, and that is what I am bound to point out. What is the reason for this attitude? One reason is that he has given certain votes which he knows well the people of this State will never forgive him for. He is more than ever anxious that they shall forget, above all other things, that it was his vote which fixed the site of the Federal Capital at Yass-Canberra.
– That is too bad ; I claim that honour.
– I should vote in the same way again and again.
– Whilst Senator W. Russell may desire to claim the credit, at all events he has been a little consistent in regard to that site. But what has been the attitude of Senator McColl? Did he favour Yass-Canberra? Did he “believe that it was the best site? Was he anxious that the Federal Parliament should meet there, or did the exigencies of party at the time compel him to give a vote of which he has been ashamed ever since?
– I have never been ashamed of my vote. Mr. President, I think that that is hardly parliamentary language.
– I want to point out to Senator Millen, who, I think, ought to give me credit for taking this attitude
– I do, because you bring up this subject every time you speak.
– If the honorable senator will only listen to me, I do not think that we shall be found in opposition now. In the last speech I made here in regard to the Capital, I said that as two Parliaments had decided that it should be established at Yass-Canberra I should no longer offer any opposition to that site. I do not know whether the honorable senator takes any exception to my attitude.
– I shall see what it is later.
– What has been the attitude of Senator McColl ? He gave the vote which fixed the site after trying to hide his head under the banner of Tumut. But ever since that day he has been crying in the Chamber and objecting to the voting of any money to carry out the determination of Parliament.
– It is quite untrue to say that I have been crying ever since.
– You were crying to-night.
– I do not look very much like it, do I?
– It must be a case of misunderstanding.
The- PRESIDENT.- Senator McColl is entitled to remark that a statement is not correct, but the use of the word “ untrue “ is out of order.
– The statement is incorrect. The whole thing is too paltry to worry about.
– I would like to look at the honorable senator when he is pleasant, if he was not crying to-night. The position he has taken up has been that of consistently trying to delay the establishment of the Capital at Yass-Canberra. He has asked the Senate repeatedly - and I do not think that he will deny my statement - to delay, and not to spend money. Even to-night he has asked that no money shall be spent on the Site.
– Not “ no money.” I admit that I opposed any heavy expenditure.
– What is the position taken up by the honorable senator?
– I took exception tonight because the Government have spent £30,000 more than was voted.
– If the amount is 30s. the honorable senator is against the site. The Parliament determined on the site, and if the Ministry did not carry out its instruction, and proceed with the erection of the Capital there, he would be one of the first to denounce them.
– That is pure assumption on your part.
– I do sometimes assume things which are not always correct. I plead guilty; but for pure assumption and audacity I think that the honorable senator is unequalled in this Chamber.
– Thanks, very much”.
– Well, trie honorable senator assumes to be all virtue on this question.
– This evening again pointed references were made to the question of Protection. What has been the attitude of the Government? They promised to look into anomalies in the Tariff. I am a Protectionist, and I am satisfied that the Government mean to redeem that promise. If they do not, the honorable senator will find me voting, when the proper time comes, to secure those amendments which we believe to be necessary for the welfare of this State. He sneers at the Government for not re-opening the Tariff, but he surely cannot forget that not many months ago he joined with some of the most prominent Free Trade members of this Parliament in a fusion which, if it had any object at all, was intended to wipe out Protection. The honorable senator also said that the people of this country believed at the last election that the Labour party were the real Protectionist party, and that they would bring in amendments of the Tariff. Well, as far as I am concerned, I did make such a promise,’ and I shall endeavour to redeem it. But. he” should also remember that when his partly was crying Protection from the housetops the people refused to believe them. That was because the people knew that’ two-thirds of his party were absolute Free Traders.
– Are they all Protectionists in the honorable senator’s party ?
– I never affirmed that they were, and the honorable senator will find a difficulty in pointing to any speech of mine in which I made such a statement. Senator McColl has, however, been endeavouring by all the means in his power to cloud the issue in order to avoid the same fate as befel his colleagues on the 13th April, 1910. He has not the courage to face the electors on the same issue and take the consequences, as his colleagues had to do on that occasion. He hopes that the slight reverse to the Labour party which occurred on the 26th’ April–
– Slight ?
– Well, the wholesale reverse, if that word will suit the honorable senator better. Senator McColl hopes that that reverse will be repeated at the next election, but I may assure him that the people are waiting to mete out to him and others the same fate as they gave to his colleagues in the previous year.
– As a prophet, the honorable senator is at a discount after the 26th April.
– There were distinct issues upon which the members of the Fusion party were judged. The people of this State condemned them wholesale. It was a lucky thing for Senator McColl that he had not to be judged on that day, for he knows what would have ocurred to him if he had been; and it is because he is really anxious to dissociate himself from the principles of the Fusion party, which brought his colleagues to grief, that he drags the personal issue in on every occasion.
– I appear to be a heavy trouble to the honorable senator.
- Senator McColl is no trouble to me, but it is troublesome to the people of this State to know what his political opinions are. He has also aired his eloquence on the subject of the prosperity of the country under the Labour party. If good government cannot insure prosperity to a country, it is, at all events, true that bad government can drive prosperity out; and the worst records to be found in the history of this State are those of the period when the honorable senator was a member of a Ministry. There has been no time in Victoria’s history when so many men had to walk the streets as was the case then. In face of what then occurred, the honorable senator now poses as an authority on banking and of the risks which a Commonwealth bank would entail. The honorable senator is well aware, as a Victorian Minister at the time to which I am referring, that his Government did things of which he is ashamed to-day. People were not permitted to receive the deposits which they had put in the banks because of the action of his Government. . He ought to remember his association with some of those institutions when he speaks of what a Commonwealth bank might possibly do. The honorable senator said that the Government of the time could have saved every one of the banks. If the State could have saved those rotten institutions, which crumbled one after the other, surely the Commonwealth is six times as powerful as any individual State, and could guarantee the stability of an institution established by itself.
– We are wiser to-day than we were then.
– It is well to know that the honorable senator attains wisdom sometimes. I was a little confused as to whether Senator McColl made one of his remarks on his own responsibility or attributed it to a school teacher ; but I understood him to say that if he had a boy he would not permit him to undergo military training because of its demoralizing effects.
– No; I said I would not allow a boy to go out for night drills. I have a boy who is a senior cadet now. I said that, sooner than allow a boy of fourteen to go out on night drills and mix with nil sorts of people, I would pay the fine or send him out of the country.
– The honorable senator is a striker then. He is no better than a trade unionist.
– But I would send my boy to day drills. Every parent will agree with me, too.
– The honorable senator reflects on trade unionists when they do not obey the law, but he says that he himself would go on strike against the law of the land, and would also incite his boy to resist it.
– This is mutiny!
– Humbug !
– When a trade unionist, in spite of black lists, and in spite of his name being given to employers as a person who should not be employed, has the courage to go on strike, he is ah offender against the laws of the country ; but when Senator McColl refuses to obey the law it is conduct of quite another description.
– The honorable senator justifies such conduct in the one case, but takes exception to it in the other.
– I am not justifying any one, but am pointing out an inconsistency. Senator McColl may break the law with impunity, but another person must not.
– When did the honorable senator ever denounce an industrial strike ?
– I have denounced strikes on more than one occasion, but I have never, on any occasion, advocated the total abolition of strikes, and never will. I do not believe that we have yet reached a stage of civilization when that can be done.
– Why should not Senator McColl be allowed to strike as well as any one else?
– I am objecting to his assumption of virtue in his own case, whilst he is ready to denounce breaches of law in others. He has also referred to Canada, with its glorious progress and its four transcontinental railway lines. Yetthe same honorable senator voted against the only transcontinental Survey Bill which has been introduced into this Parliament - a measure, not for the purpose of building a railway, but merely for the making of a preliminary survey. He tells us that if his party were in power we should probably have transcontinental railways all over the country.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– Has not the honorable senator been recommending the Government to copy Canada and its transcontinental lines ? Otherwise, what was the use of quoting the Canadian example?
– I was quoting Canada as a market for our produce.
– And the honorable senator voted against every effort that has been made in this Parliament to copy the methods of Canada in reference to the development of the country. It is just as well, if we believe in what Canada has done to develop her territory by means of transcontinental railways, and thus to open up the country for settlers, that we should advocate the same policy for Australia. The honorable senator was very ready with his denunciation of the legislation and administration of the Government; but I should like to ask him which of the fortytwo measures placed upon the statute-book last year he would like to repeal ? Which would he repeal if his party came into power? Would he repeal the land tax?
– Are the Labour party in New South Wales going la repeal the Coercion Act?
– Yes, at the earliest opportunity. Which of the fortytwo measures would Senator McColl like to repeal?
– Did the Government pass forty-two measures last session?
– Yes, they did.
– They did more mischief than I thought.
– Which of them has the honorable senator the courage to come out and say that he would promise to repeal ?
– Probably the whole lot.
– Is the whole party opposite content to make vague insinuations, and to adopt the same method as Senator McColl has adopted, by suggesting that everything resulting from that legislation is bad, whilst refusing to specify any particular measure? Would Senator McColl repeal the land tax or penny postage, or the Australian Notes Act? If not, what is he complaining about?
– We made the Notes Act for the honorable senator’s party. We built it up for them.
– I am learning something.
– The Government adopted what we suggested.
– This Government has been denounced for its iniquitous legislation. Well, I ask Senator McColl again which piece of our legislation would he repeal?
– Do not ask him to be too definite.
– I do not ask any man to be definite who finds himself in an awkward corner, but if Senator McColl has not the courage to answer the- question here, the electors will take care, when he denounces the Labour party, that they know which piece of our legislation he wishes to repeal.
– How could we repeal the Australian Notes Act when the Government have lent money for a fixed term?
– It is possible to repeal any piece of legislation if it is working badly.
– You cannot always retrace an evil step, as the honorable senator has probably found out.
– While I admire the honorable senator’s cleverness, I wish to observe that if the country is pros perous in spite of our legislation, honorable senators opposite could, if they had the courage, soon find a way of repealing that which was working badly. When we, on one occasion, did not like a financial measure passed by a previous Government - the Naval Loan Act - we had the courage to repeal it as soon as we came into power.
– We had not borrowed under that Act. If we had borrowed under it the Act could not have been repealed.
– If action had been taken under that Act, it could not have been repealed. Action has been taken under the Australian Notes Act, and the proceeds have been let out for fixed terms. How could we repeal it, therefore?
– The honorable senator would like me to go into details ?
– I should like a simple answer.
– I cannot enter into details at the present moment, but I say again that if any of our legislation is bad, it cannot be contended for a moment that it would be impossible if not to repeal it immediately, to stop the further issue of Commonwealth notes, and gradually to redeem them as the loans fell due. Is that an impracticable proposition ?
– If ever the Labour party, as the result of experience, arrive at the conclusion that the note issue is a bad thing for Australia, they will soon show the honorable senator a method by which the legislation authorizing it can be repealed. Senator McColl must have been a very busy man during the recess. He was not able to visit Papua with the parliamentary party of inspection, and consequently he denounces the trip as a pure waste of money. I will let the honorable senator into a secret. Almost at the last moment, I found that it would be very inconvenient for me to accompany the party, and, consequently, I decided to abandon the visit. But on my way into the city one morning, I purchased a newspaper from which I gleaned that the whole of the members of the Opposition in this Chamber and another place, as the result of a round robin, had ratted upon their promises to visit Papua. As I did not wish to be bracketed with them, I resolved, at considerable personal inconvenience, to make the trip.
– Did 1 promise to go?
– I have never mistaken the honorable senator for the whole of his party.
– I did not hand in my name as one who was willing to make the trip.
- Senator E. J. Russell said that the whole of the members of the Opposition in this Parliament ratted upon their promise to go.
– Then I will correct my statement by saying that severalmembers of the Opposition in this Chamber and in another place, after handing in their names as amongst those who were desirous of visiting Papua, withdrew at the eleventh hour for the purpose of gaining a mere party advantage. Personally, I had a very pleasant trip.
– We do not doubt that.
– lt might have been still more pleasant if the Leader of the Opposition had accompanied us. As the result of that visit, I believe that a certain number of members in this Parliament are in possession of information upon many matters which will prove of great value to the Commonwealth. Surely, it will not be urged that it is possible to get as accurate information concerning a country by any other means as it is by obtaining a first-hand acquaintance with the conditions which prevail there. Is it a waste of time for legislators who are charged with the responsibility of administering the affairs of Papua to personally ascertain the position of its native inhabitants, so that we may be able to prevent them being exploited by the white man ? I believe that the trip will prove of great benefit to the Commonwealth. We found that the natives of Papua are capable of being educated up to a very high standard. I have school books in my possession which prove that native children up to twelve and thirteen years of age are quite as capable of assimilating knowledge as are children of similar age attending our own State schools. I confess that previously I had entertained the idea that the natives fell far short of the standard of excellence which I found amongst them. It may interest Senator McColl to learn that in a New Guinea plantation we saw the natives of that country handling a plough almost as well as a white man could handle it. We learnt that they were engaged in various forms of agriculture, and that they do not depend upon the white man for food, but produce all their own foodstuffs.Seeing that the honorable senator admires thrift so much, let me inform him that indifferent parts of the island we saw storehouses in which were stored from 200 -to 400 tons of potatoes for future consumption.
– They were cornering the market.
– No. There were no Fusionists there. I have never heard of any complaint by a native of Papua - either man, woman, or child - that he or she lacked the necessaries of life. Consequently, we have to ask ourselves the question, “ Why do these people work for the white man?” They do so simply because they desire to obtain tobacco and a few luxuries. But wherever they are so employed, their health suffers, and they receive less of the food to which they are accustomed than they would otherwise do. So far as housing and living are concerned, the great majority occupy a position of comparative comfort. They do not require to work in large numbers for the white man. But the latter is particularly anxious to secure native labour by taxing them, notwithstanding, that the natives, as the result of the tobacco which they smoke, already contribute 70 per cent, of the revenue of the country. Consequently, the white planter can have only one object in compelling them to work for him, namely, a desire to exploit them. These are serious problems which must demand our earnest attention, in the near future. T admit that, so far I have not matured ideas upon them. But I feel sure that if a proposal to compel the natives to work for the white planters were submitted to this Parliament Senator McColl, had he visited Papua, would have been better able to cast -a wise vote upon it than he is at present. But simply because the newspapers of this State opposed the trip, he lacked the courage to make it, and to learn first-hand the con,ditions which obtain there.
– It is simply childish to talk like that. I neither lacked the courage nor the means to go.
– Does not the honorable senator honestly think that men are benefited by travel and by visiting conntries other than their own ? I will undertake to say that the sixteen members of this Parliament who journeyed to Papua are better able to deal with the problems connected with that country now than they were before they visited it.
– When honorable senators take pleasure trips, they ought to pay their own expenses.
– What is a pleasure trip?
– The honorable senator told us that the trip to Papua was one.
– Is not that Territory a part of the Commonwealth? Further, will the honorable senator say that he has not taken a pleasure trip on his parliamentary i ail way pass?
– I never travelled to another country upon it.
– Only a few months ago it was the practice of the honorable senator, and of members of the Opposition, to say that the Labour party in this Parliament were dominated by trade unionists. Yet to-night the honorable senator read resolutions which were adopted by trades unionists and in which our party was denounced for certain actions. Had he taken the trouble to read those resolutions, he would have known that they were based upon incorrect representations. One of them dealt with the high fees which, it alleged, students entering the military college were called upon to pay. Yet he ought to know that a student entering that institution has to pay no charge whatever.
– I did not read anything about the military college. “Senator E. J. RUSSELL.- Did not the honorable senator read certain resolutions which were carried at Broken Hill ?
– They contained no reference to the military college.
– Then the honorable senator read only a part of them.
– I read the whole of them.
– My memory is sadly at fault if one of those resolutions does not refer to the high fees alleged to be charged to students entering the college. The honorable senator does not appear to know to which party he belongs to-day. The People’s party and the Liberal paTty have recently used but the Women’s National League is standing aloof from them. To which party does the honorable Senator belong? Is he in a position to throw stones at the Labour party because of a slight division in its ranks? He knows perfectly well that there are divisions in the ranks of those who are opposed to Labour.
– He is always hanging on to the ladies’ skirts.
– There is a reason for that. If he is again returned to this Chamber, it will be because he will get ladies to misrepresent facts from house to house, and thus to cover up the political votes of which he is ashamed to-day. He knows that he owed his political existence in the past, and that he will owe it in the future, to the power of the ladies to misrepresent the dozens of votes that he has given in the Senate. If he is opposed to the Labour party - and his opposition to it is about the only thing in which he is consistent - he ought to be good enough to refrain from personal insinuations, unless he expects to provoke replies of the same character.
– The honorable senator started them to-day.
– I hope the honorable senator will be fair. I asked him one question as to how he voted when the banking issue was before the Victorian Parliament.
– That is so.
– Was that a personal question? Did it not bear directly upon the question of banking? Let me conclude by saying that, though I accept the honorable senator’s withdrawal of a certain statement, which, since I have looked into it, seems to me to be about the most insulting statement that could be used towards an honorable senator, if he has any manly instincts at all, he should go a little further, and withdraw privately, as well as publicly, the statement that he made.
– The honorable senator called me one name, and I called him another; and, at the same time, said that we should both withdraw what we had said.
– I am prepared to withdraw my statement.
– I have withdrawn what I said.
– The honorable senator called me a “ ferret,” and I took that to be a compliment from him.
– I did not call the honorable senator a ferret. I said, “ You can ferret that out.”
– I took that statement as a compliment. As the honorable senator has withdrawn it, I withdraw the “fox,” since he finds the reference objectionable.
– I regretted the remark the moment I had uttered it. It was made in the heat of the moment. I am very sorry for it, and withdraw it.
– I accept the honorable senator’s withdrawal of the statement, which I felt very keenly at the time. On looking closely into the meaning of it, I was disposed to feel it even more keenly than I did at first. I wish now, however, to get back to politics, and I ask Senator McColl, as a special favour, not to the Senate, or to me, but to the people of this country, to say plainly which of the measures of the Labour Government he has the courage to propose should be repealed, or even amended.
– I desire to add a few words to the agony inflicted upon the Senate by other speakers. I agree that this debate is a waste of time, and all my sympathies are with the President in having to sit and listen to it. A few remarks have fallen from honorable senators opposite during the debate which, I think, require an answer. I shall not make an outcry, as some have done, about the result of the referenda. I feel as Senator Gould felt last year, when he admitted that his party had been weighed in the balance, and found wanting. At the referenda we were weighed in the balance, and found very much wanting; but I am prepared to accept the verdict of the people on that occasion without offering any excuses for it. Senator Millen said that I had been making excuses for it ; but, as a matter of fact, I made none. Certain honorable senators opposite have referred to the manner in which some of the members of our party were nobbled on that occasion. They told us how poor Mr. Holman, Mr. Beeby, and Mr. McGowen were hobbled, shackled, and bound by a Labour Conference. I wish to say that if they were shackled and bound, it was only with a silken thread, which they might have burst at will. I, personally, should have been much better pleased if they had done so, and had openly and boldly proclaimed their opposition to the referenda proposals. Their silence was made good use of by the other side, from every Conservative platform in Australia, and through every journal opposed to the Labour party. I wish to say that they were not the only persons silenced, but we did not hear one word about the silencing of one of the brightest intellects in the New South Wales Parliament, who, though on the other side generally in politics, made a manly and straightforward speech in that Parliament in support of the referenda proposals. When I asked across the chamber how the party opposite nobbled Mr. David Fell, the honorable senator who was speaking, said, “Who is David Fell? I never heard of him.” I say now that he is one of the brightest intellects in the New South Wales Parliament, and because he made a speech in favour of the referenda proposals, he was nobbled in some way. We have not been told how, and, in fact, nothing has been said on the subject, but we know that pressure was brought to bear upon that man in connexion with his business interests, and he was in that way compelled to keep silence. One of the strongest speeches made in favour of the proposals of the Labour party was made by him, and as some honorable senators opposite have not heard of that gentleman, or his speech, I shall read a little of it to show what sort of a speech it was. Mr. David Fell said-
Reference .has been made to the Federal referenda, and the Leader of the Opposition called upon members of the Government to declare themselves on that point. I do not know whether he wished any other honorable member to declare himself. But I should like to state here, without fear or favour, that I am prepared to declare myself. It is not the first time I have declared myself on the question nf the Federation as against the State. I believe that I am voicing the feeling of the majority of the people of Australia when I say that the Federation will be upheld before the State. If young Australians have any national sentiment, they recognise the greater potentialities of the Federation as against those of the State in which they live. If I am to be influenced by the statements of the Leader of the Opposition, who is also the leader of the party to which I belong, I must come to the conclusion that the Federal Parliament - and I am speaking of it as a Parliament in which to-day we may have a Labour Government and to-morrow some other Government - is composed, and likely to be composed, of the enemies of Australia. But I recognise that the people who sent me here also sent the representatives to the Federal Parliament, and on the principle that the greater includes the lesser, I assume that the members of the Federal Parliament, whilst they may view matters in broader perspective than we do, will also recognise the requirements of the State. I have never hesitated to tell my constituents that I am first for the Federation, secondly for the State, and thirdly for my constituency. So far as the referenda are concerned, I admit that. there is some strength in the argument of the Leader of the Opposition that it would have been much fairer to take four votes instead of one upon the questions submitted to the people. But whilst I have listened to the Leader of the Opposition, and I have read Mr. Deakin’s manifesto, and Mr. Bruce Smith’s letters, I have not come across any practical statement affording reasons why we should not consider some of the suggestions submitted to us by the Federal Government. I recognise that the Leader of the Opposition, viewing the matter from a legal and constitutional point of view, has it presented to him in an aspect which does not impress commercial men. But I would ask the honorable member whether it is not a fact that the conflict of opinion upon the subject of the Companies Act alone has led to tremendous expense and confusion. In New South Wales we have a Companies Act dealing with matters, which the Federal Government desire to control, which I say is a disgrace to our community. Although we have had’ Government - after Government in power, not one of them has attempted to deal with that Act and put it on a proper basis. Then, again, in the matter of life insurance, for years past the public have been robbed; more or less, owing to defects in the Companies Act which are extremely irritating. Moreover, that Act does not give protection to bodies of individuals who form companies in New South Wales. At present companies formed and registered in Sydney, if they establish branches in other States, are treated as foreign companies. I would ask the public and the Leader of the Opposition whether under these circumstances he considers that the desire of the Federal Government to obtain power under the Federal Constitution to bring about conditions of uniformity in regard to company law is anything that we need feel any special concern about.
I shall not read any more of the speech. I have read sufficient to show that there was some one on the opposite side who was nobbled, not by a Conference, but by the operation of a force which would have compelled him to leave the State if he did not comply with the desires of certain people. I wish” to say a word or two about the way in which some of the members of the opposite party attempted to frighten the unthinking electors. One honorable gentleman, who is well known to us all, told the electors of South Australia that if the referenda proposals were carried, there would be a bloodier revolution in Australia than there was in France 100 years ago. In view of such statements made to unthinking people, and the terrible tales told of what the Labour party were going to do if they got the power, is it any wonder that their proposals were defeated ? I shall not further enlarge upon the matter. We got our gruel, and were prepared to take it standing up. There is another matter to which I should like to refer. Senator Millen read a resolution which he said was passed by the Sydney Labour Council, and spoken to by delegates from the union to which I belong. The honorable senator tried to show that the members of that union and the Labour party generally have always been against immigration, and have turned round now only because the present Government fear the people. I was one of those who, as honorary secretary of a large union in New South Wales, circularized England, and America with the object of preventing’ people being brought out to Australia under false pretences. I am not ashamed of what I .did, and should do the same thing again to-morrow if the same necessity existed. We were told that Mort’s Dock Company had applied to the Minister of External Affairs for permission to bring out mechanics. I interjected “ with the approval of the unions.” I wish to say that that great company recognised the boilermakers’ union. Before going to the Minister of External Affairs, they asked the union for their approval of a scheme for bringing mechanics into the State of New South Wales. They secured the approval of the union, but they did so under false pretences. They said that they were in need of a certain number of mechanics, and in this connexion I shall read some extracts which may serve to explain the situation. By the way, I have an extract here from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which leads me to say that the authorities of that journal should, under the existing law of the State of New South Wales, be brought before the Court for attempting to provoke a strike. I quote the following from that newspaper -
BOILERMAKERS MAY STRIKE.
compi.aints of Unemployment. “Rough Weather and Rust.”
The word “ strike “ was freely used at the last meeting of the Boilermakers Union in connexion with the position of the men employed by the Railway Department at Eveleigh, whoare waiting for a Wages Board decision. It was decided eventually to wait upon the Premier in regard to the matter. If no settlement results from this course a special meeting will be held to consider the next step to be taken.
I have read that to show what some of the newspapers will do to try to stir up strife amongst trade unions. The statement made was an absolute falsehood, because the union to which I belong never talked, or even thought of striking against the Railways Commissioners. As I have said, the authorities of this journal should be cited before the Industrial Disputes Court for publishing such a statement. The next extract is the one to which 1 wish specially to refer -
Members expressed indignation at the report that the Minister for External Affairs had granted permission for boilermakers to be brought from overseas while a number of mcmbers of the union were out of work. It was stated that Mr. Cutler, superintendent of Cockatoo Island Dock, had said 400 boilermakers were required, and eight days afterwards had put off 40; and that Mr. Franki, manager of Mort’s Dock, had stated 100 men were wanted, and had obtained permission to obtain 87. During the fortnight the foremen at Mort’s Dock had discharged over 60 boilermakers, and 20 members had left on clearance for the other States in order to seek work. “We depend on rough weather and rust,” remarked one member. “ Our work only lasts for a week or two, and then we are out of work again.” Some new arrivals complained that they had been deceived as to the amount of work offering, and they intended to go back to Britain as soon as possible.
When one hundred mechanics are placed on the unemployed list in Sydney alone, is there any wonder that they carry a resolution such as that referred to by Senator Millen ? Had it not been for the action of the Labour Government, who are doing their best to foster this much-needed industry of iron ship-building in Australia, there would have been a great dearth of employment in that line to-day. The Government to which Senator Millen belonged intended to have these vessels built, not in Australia, ‘ but in another land. The present Government have shown that they possess some stamina by declaring that they intend to give Australian workmen a chance. When, in the near future, the material has been landed, there will be plenty of work for mechanics in the trades and callings I have referred to. Can any one wonder that men embittered by hunger and the want of clothing for their offspring carry resolutions of this description ? It is unfair and unjust for honorable senators on the other side to criticise the action of those who are compelled by want of employment to act in that way. We have heard during this debate, and Senator McColl has just told us, that there is room in Australia for thousands of men. So there is, but the States are not bringing in the right class. They are bringing in men for whom there are no places here. There is a class coming to Australia to-day who are being thrown on the labour market. Perhaps an extract from a Tory newspaper in Sydney will explain the position better to honorable senators opposite better than I could do. It reads as follows -
” WANTED, A CLERK.”
A Rush of Applicants. immigrants to the fore.
There is rather more than a suspicion that a fair percentage of the immigrants now regularly arriving from the Motherland are simply and solely city men and youths, who have no intention of faring forth into the country to engage in primary production.
Striking proof of this discomforting fact was afforded by experience of a Sydney business man last week. He was desirous of adding to his clerical staff, and advertised for a young gentleman, applications to be made in writing addressed to the office of a newspaper. The day on which notification appeared, his accountant called for and received replies numbering some scores. Next day there were many more, and, altogether, over 200 disengaged young men made known their willingness to accept the post, practically at any salary that might be fixed. “ I was astonished, and not a little grieved,” said the advertiser, in conversation, with present writer, “ to discover that the larger proportion of the applicants were immigrants - five-sixths of them, in fact. Their letters were, for the most part, well written in commercial style, indicating that their claims to be regarded as trained men were well founded. As it happened, I wanted a local man, or a man with knowledge of local conditions, and I could do nothing for any of the poor fellows.” “You did not see any of them?” “ Yes, one, as I thought by the brevity of his note that he was a Sydney resident, and his business-like style impressed me. He told me things which I was very sorry to hear. He and many others like him had been induced to try_ their luck in this country, only to find on arrival that the opportunities of getting billets for which they are suited are few and far between. I learned as much from the letters of the applicants which I received, and it would seem that there is something radically wrong. Goodness knows, we rear more than enough clerks for our requirements, and we don’t want to import more from the old land.” “But did these immigrants not come here with the intention of entering into agricultural work ?” “Not so far as I can discover. Their letters give no hint of any such intention, and that one man I saw told me that he had been assured there were plenty of openings in Sydney, that business was booming, and so on.” “ And how are these immigrant-clerks getting on?”
This is the part which explains the matter. From New South Wales I have received plenty of proof of the statement - “ I have heard,” said our informant, “ that a number have been taken on in various establishments at what is called a ‘ commencing salary,’ and the old hands have been displaced. Others of the new comers have swallowed their pride, and whatever pretensions they may have had, and taken jobs as kitchen men, pantry boys, housemen, and so on. There is always a demand for this class of domestic labour, and it insures a home and food, if nothing else.”
That extract, taken from one of the Tory newspapers in Sydney, shows the state of the market so far as that class of labour is concerned. Something should be done. We, as a Labour party, say that we are pleased that men,, women and children should come to this country and engage in the primary industries, but we contend that if any Government imports men of the description I have mentioned into our towns, it can only be regarded as a menace to the Labour movement and an attempt to lower wages. I think that Senator Millen might well excuse the Labour Council for carrying the resolution, because they knew too well the consequences which flow from the introduction of such persons. We can realize that employment must be scarce in some parts of Australia when recently employers found 300, 400, and 500 men at a time in Victoria, Tasmania, and New South Wales to take the place of the men on strike in Queensland - men who were simply asking for a living wage, and who had worked, in ray opinion, for a starvation wage. When we find that hundreds of men in Australia are willing to “ scab “ on their fellow-men at the time of a strike, we say that employment is scarce, at all events in that line. I will admit that there is a scarcity of labour in some trades, but you cannot get skilled artisans in those trades to come here when they can get better wages in other countries. In Canada, for instance, a skilled mechanic gets 35 or 40 per cent, better wages than he could get here, notwithstanding all the boom we have, while in South Africa a skilled mechanic receives 25 per cent, more than the wages paid in Australia. You can not expect practical mechanics in the Old Country to come to Australia when they can go to other parts of the world and get from 25 to 35 per cent, better wages than are paid here. I trust that whatever may be done in the matter of advertising in the Old Country, it will be made pretty . plain that there is no room in Australia for men of that description. So long as they come to Australia we are always willing to hold out the hand of fellowship and treat them as brothers, but we say that there is no work for them here, no openings, no opportunities, and we would rather that they stayed away. The Leader of the Opposition must have had a very poor case to bring against the proposals of the Government in this Speech when he could only find small matters in connexion with our defence system to speak about, when he could only tell us, for instance, about the terrible tragedy at Mittagong, when four of our young soldiers fainted on one day. I have watched the progress of this movement in the district where I live, and there is nothing harmful to the lads in the drill. Everything depends upon the character of the area officer or the men who are put in charge of the lads. The principle of the man who is in charge of the area where I live is to appeal to the hearts of the lads, and he succeeds. After the drill is over you will see a couple of hundred lads going home with the officer, so well do they like him. A man of this description acts sensibly when youngsters begin to quarrel on parade. It has been reported that someawful offences have been committed in some districts, and that the offending lads have been hauled up to the Courts and fined. But the officer I refer to is not a man of that type. He simply takes the lads round the corner and lets them finish the quarrel. When an officer will enter with his whole heart into the spirit of the thing and teach the lads that drilling is a privilege everything will be well with the system. Senator McColl has referred to the awful crime of herding the boys together. He forgets the object of the association.
– I only referred to boys of fourteen years of age.
– Between a boy of fourteen years of age and a boy of seventeen years of age there is not much difference.
– When a boy is sixteen he knows differently.
– That Is not the trouble. The trouble is that a son of a privileged family in Australia is compelled to take his place in the front fighting line with the son of the merest labourer.
– That is right.
– That is the trouble. The lads have to stand together, and those who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth think that they are placed in an inferior position when they are required to mix with the sons of labourers, and the sons of poor widows. If this military training will do one thing it will help to stamp out that feeling of caste which has prevailed so long here, and which has ruined other lands. I desired to see in Australia an Army different from that of the Old Land. I wanted to see a citizen force from which caste would disappear, but I am sorry to say that it is slowly and surely making headway. To-day, if a man does not happen to be in a select social circle, no matter how good he is, no matter what examination he has passed or how clever he is, he finds it three or ten times harder to get promotion than does a man who mixes in society circles. I give a note of warning to the Government that, if they want to insure the success of the scheme that differential treatment must be wiped out. It is said that we cannot find any Australians to man our Fleet. It is hard to bring Australians down to what men have to stand in the Navy of the Old Land and other navies. It is hard to break the spirit of the Australian. But let him know that he is in exactly the same position as the best on the vessel, though holding a humbler position in life; let him know that one man is as good as another, and you will find that the Australian will be ever ready to take his place in the front fighting line, not only on the land, but at sea. I hope the Government will do something to render it possible for the sons of working men to rise from the ranks. Of course, it is not impossible for them to do so at present, but very few working men are able so to educate their sons that they can, under present conditions, rise to the highest positions in the Australian Army. I do not intend to add further to the debate, and should not have spoken at all except for the assertions made as to the position of the trade unions in Sydney in regard to the immigration proposals of the Government.
– I cannot agree with much that has been said about the uselessness of the debate on the Address-in-Reply. Whilst perhaps we might have a very much better system than is possible under some of the old and obsolete forms that are observed, yet this debate has some uses ; and I intend to make brief use of the opportunity for the purpose partly of replying to the statements of members of the Opposition, and partly to put on record the opinions I hold on some of the subjects embodied in the Governor-General’s Speech. It is rather unpleasant to have to talk to such a meagre audience as I see in front of me. I have been in various Parliaments to listen to debates on the Address-in-Reply. I have seen in some cases a numerous Opposition possessed of very little ability, and in other cases an Opposition small in numbers but able. In this case I am in the unhappy position of finding before me an Opposition which has neither numbers nor ability. It seems, therefore, rather a waste of time to talk to them. But it is a matter of duty to speak in some cases, and on this occasion I am not speaking for the sake of spreading myself, but to reply to some mis-statements which have emanated from honorable senators opposite. One thing it appears to me might have caused the Opposition more jubilance than they have displayed, and that is the result of the referenda.
-Colonel Cameron. - Modesty.
– No, they have not refrained through modesty, but I believe because they possess an attribute which is common to humanity, namely, shame— shame at the methods by which the results were obtained. In this connexion I wish to refer particularly to some of the statements made by Senator Millen. In his opening speech in criticism of the GovernorGeneral’s utterances, he stated that the daily newspapers of this country had not only treated the Labour party fairly, but conspicuously so ; and that, as a matter of fact, we owe .them a deep debt of gratitude for the attention they have devoted to the expression of Labour views by members df our parly. There has been for some little time past a movement on foot, which has now taken practical shape, to endeavour to provide a daily newspaper which shall voice the views of the Democracy of this country more effectively than they are voiced in any_existing journals. Whilst many such attempts have been made in past years, the present effort is, I believe - indeed, I have reason to know - one which is on a solid basis, and will result in something substantial at no distant date. Why is it that the workers of this country are spontaneously clubbing their money together - taking cash from their small and hard earnings - in order to establish . a Labour daily newspaper to voice their opinions ?
– We already have one in South Australia.
– I am aware that there is already a daily Labour newspaper in Adelaide. There is another in Broken Hill, and a third in Hobart. But in the larger cities of Australia, which, necessarily on account of their size, exercise greater influence on the public affairs of the Commonwealth, we find that there are no such journals. There is none in Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. That means that over 1,000,000 inhabitants of this Continent are without any method of obtaining fair and full expression of their views on political subjects. The Leader of the Opposition stated that money was being extorted from men by a levy in order to raise the necessary funds. The union to which I belong has. already contributed over £30,000, and there has not been one instance of illegitimate pressure or legal proceedings to procure that sum. When the members of one .organization alone are prepared to contribute that amount of money, it shows that they not only desire to have a daily Labour newspaper, but are prepared to make sacrifices for it. There appears, therefore, to be some real need for a Democratic organ of public opinion in each of our principal cities.
– That money has been found by men who are only partly employed, and not too well paid.
– It has been provided by men who have had to go to the Arbitration Court to initiate long and costly proceedings in order to obtain a fair wage. The unfairness of the daily newspaper press of Australia does not lie in the fact that they refuse to report the utterances of the prominent men of the Labour side of politics. The public demand is so great that they dare not refuse to report these views through the medium of their news columns. The unfairness lies, not merely in their leading articles, but in their comments which frequently accompany their statements of news, and which are so coloured with prejudice, and so full of misrepresentation, that the whole of public opinion is more or less tainted and attempted to be corrupted. Commencing close at home, with the press of this State of Victoria, let me take an instance. During the progress of the Referenda Bills through both Houses- of this Parliament, one powerful newspaper in the city, the Age, cordially supported the proposals of the present Government. The Age published leading articles, comments, and criticism ; and in every case made strenuous endeavours to destroy the arguments brought forward by Messrs. Deakin, Joseph Cook, and other representatives of the Fusion party. The bulk of the arguments naturally affected the debates in the other Chamber, though occasionally members of the Senate were criticised. The leading articles in the Age day after day exposed the sophistries and fallacies enunciated by those who opposed our referenda proposals. Let me give one or two instances. If the Age had kept to the same stand as the Argus did, and had opposed our proposals all along, I should have honoured it. But let me quote the actual words used by the Age. In one leading article that newspaper said -
The passing of the Bill means that the electors of all the States will be asked to approve of the Central Parliament being given’ greatly extended powers - powers which will enable it to determine disputes in any one industry and in any railway system of Australia.
It went on -
The clause now proposed, as has been said, is the same in effect as that which was carried into law in 1904 when it placed the railway servants within the scope of the Federal Arbitration Act. The law was declared ultra vires by the High Court, and it is this which is now sought to be amended, so that in giving to a Federal Court the right to deal with industrial disputes the power would be quite plenary in all branches of labour. Sir William Lyne asked, “ Why should not railway men have the same rights and privileges all over Australia as other workmen have?” There may be 500,000 workers who will come under the cognisance of the Federal Courts. On what grounds should railway servants be excluded? To say that because the State pays the salaries it must have the right to prescribe the conditions of service is contrary ti the very principle that guides all industrial legislation. Mine-owners pay miners’ wages, factory-owners pay the wages of factory hands, contractors pay the wages of artisans and builders, but none of these employers have the power of fixing the rates of pay and the conditions of labour. The Stale would merely stand in the same position as any other great employer. The Federal Courts would decide disputes, and prevent the recurrence of strikes by the strong hand.
That was published in the Age of 19th October.
– That was the Age of reason. Now quote the Age of unreason.
– The Age of 8th December wrote as follows : -
Surely the general industrial conditions may be safely entrusted to the local Parliaments elected on the widest possible franchise.
That is what the Age said in regard to the railway servants. This is what the same newspaper said in regard to the trade and commerce provisions on 19th October -
Trade, commerce, and industry are all proper subjects of the National Government. In the German Federation they are absolutely included in the national power. They must be so everywhere if the people are to be supreme. . . . Industrial benefits can be fairly disseminated only through the power of a national Parliament. Industrial regulation is not in itself a
State matter at all. It is national in its significance, and as such belongs to the National Parliament. Mr. Justice Higgins pointed to the need of this power when he showed that our industrial laws as they stand involve many issues in a “ Serbonian bog of technicalities.”
On 21st October the Age wrote as follows : -
No man ventured to say ten years ago that the Federal fundamental law had any pretensions to being more than a tentative measure. On the contrary, it was well provided with the means of effecting its own amendment, making the people the arbiters in every case of what that amendment should be. Mr. Sampson’s short speech yesterday, running over these facts and examining the need that the nation, and not the States, should govern our industrial conditions, was a weighty contribution to the debate. ‘He was felicitous in saying that they who oppose the granting of more power to the Commonwealth in dealing with trade and commerce and industry virtually affirm that the Federal Parliament cannot be trusted to exercise those functions, and that such powers are safer in the hands of the States. Mr. Deakin contends that no national Parliament can take proper cognisance of industrial conditions in a country as wide in area as Australia, where one part is in the tropics and another on the confines of the temperate and frigid zones- But, as Mr. Sampson pointed out, .the State of Western Australia embraces all those extremes, and no one has yet affirmed the inability of that State to regulate the wages of its workmen or the conditions of its trade. Moreover, concerning the allegations that these industrial powers are too large to give to the Commonwealth, it is enough to answer that every Federation in the world possesses them save America and Australia. And what is more, there is no other Federation in which the national powers are so limited as they are in this Commonwealth.
Those were the statements of the Melbourne Age of 2 1 st October last. They were the comments of that journal upon the speech made by Mr. Sampson.
– The Age patted him on the back for saying just the opposite.
– Exactly. I make these quotations for the purpose of showing that it is necessary to have a purer form of journalism in this State than that which exists to-day.
– We could not have a more varied form of journalism.
– It is extremely varied; in fact, it is quite versatile.
– It is impartial !
– Yes, like the teetotaller who drank whisky. On the 8th December of the same year the Age wrote -
The danger of the powers which the Labour Party is so anxious to acquire is the drastic character of the change proposed. It makes too great a leap. Political and economic progress is accomplished by slow and well-considered steps. We should not attempt a startling alteration of the Constitution without seriously de bating its effect, and it is questionable whether public opinion has been fully educated to the extent proposed in the more important of the series of questions to be submitted to the people. . . If the referendum for the regulation of labour conditions had applied to protected industries only, the country would .have consented willingly to the widening of the Constitution for the purpose. But it goes altogether beyond that clear and direct issue. Every industry in the Commonwealth, every form of employment, manual or professional, skilled or unskilled, the University professor or the corporation labourer, will come under the control of “the central industrial jurisdiction.
There is a lot more of that sort of fustian. The Age then goes on to say -
It included in the reference to the popular vote the determination of wages and hours of labour for all classes of State servants.
There is no doubt that that was a deliberate misrepresentation, because it is clear on the face of it that the proposal applied only to railway servants. Whilst on the 8th December the journal in question declared that the general industrial conditions might be intrusted to the State Parliaments elected on the broadest franchise, on the 7 th November of the same year, in writing of the Legislative Council, it said -
But human greed has in all ages set itself to frustrate the bounties of Providence, and it may be safely said that in no State in the world inmodern times has there been a House of Legislature which has been more conspicuous than our Legislative Council in placing the private interests of capitalists first and the general interests of the people in a subordinate position. When the time comes for that House to be blotted out of the scheme of things, men will have a sigh of contentment, such as Sindbad must have emitted when he got rid of his burden- in shuffling off the Old Man of the Sea.
That is the way in which it described the Legislative Council on the 7th November, and yet on the 8th December it declared that the industrial conditions of the people might be safely intrusted to a Parliament which was elected on the widest possible franchise.
– Tell us the reason for its change of view.
– It is well to recollect that one of the chief arguments advanced by our opponents against the referenda proposals’ was that the Attorney-General had lumped them together so as to compel the electors either to accept or reject the whole of them. This is what the Agethe great barracker for the defeat of the referenda proposals - said on 20th October,, in alluding to a speech by .Mr. Deakin -
There _ were two shadowy ideas running through it. One is that though some reform iri the Constitution is necessary, that which is proposed is too much. The other is that the first of the two referendum bills, that which proposes four amendments in the Constitution, should be divided into four separate referendums, so that the electors may accept one and reject another as they please, instead of being compelled to say “ Yes “ or “ No “ to the whole lot.
– Is the honorable senator quoting from the Age directly?
– I am quoting from an absolutely verbatim copy of the Age articles, the originals of which I read myself. That journal continues -
As to the first of these objections, that the proposed referendums are too large and sweeping, Mr. Deakin was asked, “ Ought not the people to be the judges of that?” To that he replied, “Yes, but in this Bill you will put four amendments into one group and compel electors to take all or none.” The answer to this is that there are two Referendum Bills. One deals with the enlargement of the Federal powers on industrial matters, the other gives power to the Commonwealth to nationalize monopolies. The four amendments relating to trade and commerce, corporations, industrial disputes, and trusts and combinations are simply various phases of one question. They hinge upon one another, and to a large extent are interdependent. To put them in the shape of four separate referendums would complicate and embarrass what is in itself a simple proposition. That proposition is that to the Federation belongs of right the power to legislate on all matters of wages, trusts, and industry.
– It is not the Age which the honorable senator has in his hand.
– No, but it is a verbatim copy of the articles which it published. I can personally vouch for the accuracy of this copy, because I read every one of the articles myself, and I have not twisted anything from its context to suit my arguments. That journal published powerful and convincing articles dealing with every phase of the Bill, and tore to shreds and tatters the arguments of its opponents. It continued to do this until after the close of the session, when it turned a complete volte face, and wrote articles in condemnation of it.
– Senator Fraser told it that if it did not turn its coat there rould be serious consequences. He said that it would lose its shipping and commercial advertisements.
– Does the Minister charge Senator Fraser with having made that statement?
– It is perfectly true that he made it.
– It is scarcely fair to make that charge against him during his absence.
– What does the defence of Senator Chataway amount to? Either that the Age is governed by absolute imbecility, or that, from mercenary and corrupt motives, it changed its policy.
– I have nothing whatever to do with the Age. I defended Senator Fraser.
– Very well; I accept the honorable senator’s apology.
– I did not apologize.
– My object is not to quibble as to whether Senator Fraser made a certain charge, but to show that we have not a reliable press in this State. When Senator Millen declared the other day that the Labour party owed a debt of gratitude to the daily newspapers for their treatment pf it, he was talking political “ tripe,” and he knew it. Let me invite attention to the treatment meted out to us by still another journal. Only a little while ago it was reported that a dangerous riot had occurred at Lithgow, in New South Wales. Here is a specimen of the way in which that fine democratic journal, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, described it. Only a little more than a week ago it published in large letters the following headings -
Violence at Lithgow. Raid on Blast Furnace.
Police Injured. Refuge in Engine-room.
A “ violent mob “ was said to have been in “ full possession “ of the town, and of the whole of the ironworks (barring the blast furnace), from 10 p.m. the previous night till the time the Telegraph went to press.
– Is the honorable senator quoting from the Daily Telegraph now ?
– No, but I am quoting from a copy of its report.
– From what paper is the honorable senator quoting?
– I am not: quoting from any newspaper. But as I can personally vouch for the accuracy of the copy which’ I am reading, it does not matter if I were reading it from the back of a pack of cards. On Thursday the Sydney Morning Herald printed the following -
Eight Hours of Chaos.
The Iron Master Besieged.
Police Charge the Mob. Lithgow is in a state of turmoil. Anything might happen. The mob is in an ugly mood once more. The police and strikers have come into conflict, batons have been used freely, and sore heads have resulted. Arrests have been made.
On the next day the scare headings in that same journal read -
In narrating how the reckness and blood thirsty strikers tried to get at the “ loyalists,” it said -
The police stood in front of the crowd, and drawing their batons barred further progress. The mob seethed and tried to break through. Meanwhile the loyalists made good their escape. The police, like the rearguard of a retreating army, followed slowly in the wake of the fugitives with batons half drawn ready for any emergency. The mob was in a decidedly ugly humour, “ they are spoiling for fight” said a senior officer, “ and, by– , they will get it.”
The Sydney Morning Herald, that respectable, grandmotherly journal, which is looked upon by the elite of New South Wales as next to the Holy Scriptures, very nearly swore about it. This is what appeared a little later from the report of the police -
Superintendent Johnson, who is in charge of the police at Lithgow, in his official report, denies that the police ever drew or attempted to draw their batons. There had been some interference, he says, with the houses of free labourers, but not with any grievous effect. The worst was the discharge of a dynamite cap which the Superintendent alleges did no further damage than to crack a pane of glass.
All this sensational business was intended to inflame the minds of the general public of New South Wales by suggesting a demoniacal character for these riots.
– Would the honorable senator describe the Lithgow affair as a picnic?
– Senator St. Ledger’s mind seems to be obsessed with the idea of picnics. His life has evidently been one long picnic. I am not speaking about picnics at all. My contention is not that there was nothing done at Lithgow, or that nothing wrong was done there; but that when there is anything done, it is surely enough that a newspaper should relate the facts, without attempting to make the position a thousand times worse than it is. In this case there was something which, perhaps, might be called a little worse than horse-play, though not so bad as has often been done by some of the youths attending our Universities on a Commemoration Day. I complain that these journals that are so very democratic about the way in which Russia should be governed, should attempt to inflame the mind of every one opposed to unionism by the publication of these exaggerated reports of occurrences. They have the unblushing audacity to write about the yellow journalism of America, whilst they perpetrate similar stuff themselves whenever it suits them, in the hope of prejudicing the mind of the public against trade unions.
– What did occur at Lithgow?
– I was not present.
– Yet the honorable senator denies the accuracy of the newspaper reports.
– Senator St. Ledger, apparently, does not know how to be even as fair as the newspapers from which I have quoted. I do not claim to know anything at first-hand of what occurred at Lithgow ; but I have compared the accounts appearing in two specially reputable morning newspapers published in Sydney, with the official report of the superintendent of police, who was sent to Lithgow. I am not putting forward any view of my own, but showing that when the calm, dry, official report of occurrences at Lithgow was received, it showed the gross exaggeration published by these newspapers, obviously, as I contend, to inflame the mind of the public against these alleged rioters, the unionists. This is only one instance, which could be multiplied by ten thousand. I, personally, have no complaint against the daily press, because the more it abuses me the more I flourish. But I do say that the crying need of this country is a daily newspaper, and fifty if we could get them, which will put on record the views of the Democracy of Australia, instead of the distorted and lying misrepresentations which are current every day in the daily press in every one of the States. Of course, I am aware that a man like Senator St. Ledger will not think anything of a little misrepresentation like this, because the Brisbane Courier can out-Herod Herod in this kind of thing at any time. The newspaper is certainly the most shameless journal published in the Commonwealth in its dealings with matters of this kind.
– Does the honorable senator hold me responsible for what appears in the Brisbane Courier)
– I do not, except that the honorable senator belongs to the party which is buttressed by that journal, and he may, therefore, be regarded as, to some extent, responsible for what appears in its columns.
– Labour papers occasionally encourage outrages ; but I do not charge the honorable senator with doing so.
– I say that the whole of the daily press of Australia is an outrage on fair play and decency. Last year the Sydney Morning Herald used “ Billingsgate “ concerning myself, in regard to the vote I gave on the Federal Capital. All these newspapers that profess such a high moral tone are themselves the biggest offenders against fair play and the judicial treatment of matters affecting the public interest, in which the Labour party are concerned. They might well, instead of complaining of the yellow journalism of America, put their own houses in order. Failing any hope that they will do such a thing, it is only natural that the democratic elements in this country should endeavour to provide themselves with a daily press, which will fairly record the doings and aspirations of the party to which they belong.
– Are the Labour newspapers going to report both sides? Senator RAE. - There is not very much occasion for them to report the honorable senator’s side, because, in the first place, the existing daily newspapers do that, and even improve upon the speeches of honorable senators opposite. So that a measure of fair play will be brought about if we can establish newspapers which will do us a like service. I am not blaming the daily newspapers for this course of conduct because of any hope I ever held that they would act differently. I should deem it as illogical to cast any considerable amount of blame upon them as it would.be to blame a black snake for being venomous. It is ‘the way he is built. The newspaper press of Australia at the present time is dependent for its existence upon the commercial and financial interests which our party is out to deal with. Naturally being dependent upon those interests as against the interests of the whole community, and being a product of this commercial age, and a mighty bad product at that, it has to play up to those who are its support. We can, therefore, expect no reliability or stability in the course taken by the daily press at any time. It must adopt a political course in accordance with its pecuniary interests. That being so, I say that one of the greatest blessings this continent can experience will be brought about when we are enabled- to launch a daily newspaper press which will be absolutely free from commercial influences of that kind, because ‘it will be owned and controlled by the Labour organizations of this country. I am very glad indeed to be able to inform my honorable friends opposite that we have already in hand for the purpose a sum approaching ,£40,000, with another £40,000 or £50,000 in sight, and we hope soon to have a daily newspaper in full going order.
– My honorable friends will have a big, flourishing, financial corporation.
– I hope we will, and . I believe that one of the effects which the publication of a Labour journal will have will be to compel the others to give us a square deal. I hope we shall have a ring of Labour journals right round the continent! Referring now to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, I should like to say something with regard to the paragraph dealing with the Imperial Conference. I hope that the good results foreshadowed will be realized. In connexion with the reference to the new Naval Agreement, arrived at after a Conference between the Commonwealth representatives and the Admiralty. I should like to express my disappointment that it has been agreed that the discipline and methods adopted in our Australian Unit are to be precisely the same as those adopted in the Imperial Fleet. I can quite understand that uniformity of equipment, and that kind of thing, would facilitate combined action by the various units of the Fleet if ever, unfortunately, it should be necessary for them to act together. But I feel that if we are to adopt a precise copy of the British regulations and methods of discipline, we shall find it extremely difficult to recruit Australians for service in our Navy.’ 1 submit to the Minister of Defence that, while on broad general grounds it is no doubt highly advisable that we should run on common lines with the
Admiralty, we shall find it very difficult to get Australians to enter our naval service if they may be subjected to the kind of thing which I know from friends and relatives who served in the British Navy was common in that Navy a few years ago.
– There has been a great alteration in the British Navy in recent years in respect of the matters to which the honorable senator refers.
– The Minister will admit that an alteration was highly necessary. If the class and caste business to which Senator McDougall referred were allowed to grow up in connexion with our Navy, if those placed in command were to be drawn from a special class, and unnecessarily rigorous and severe discipline brought to bear upon the men engaged in our ships, we could hardly expect that they would be manned by the best class of Australian youths.
– Within the last few years flogging has been abolished in the British Navy.
– I have heard so, but tyranny might be exercised without going to that length. My father was in the British Navy, and, though there has been time for many changes since he served, the way in which the Navy was managed in his time was something scandalous. We know that with all its high traditions sections of the British Navy have mutinied in past generations, and in the present generation there has been a close approach to mutiny on many occasions, due to the exercise of a certain amount of unnecessary tyranny and unfairness by superior officers in the management of the men. I trust we shall never allow anything of that kind to grow up in our Navy. At the same time, 1 am not one who believes in any namby-pamby sentimentalism in the management and control of any of our public services. I recognise that in any organization, and particularly in the control of ships of war, discipline must be enforced, but I trust there will never be enforced in our Navy a system of discipline of the rigorous and injudicious character that seems to have been enforced in the British Navy in times past.
– There is no indication of undue severity.
– I have not heard of any yet.
– We may get efficiency without severity.
– I trust we will. One matter referred to in the Governor-General’s
Speech is the establishment of the Federal Capital. I was one of those who, last session, voted against the choice of Canberra for the Capital site. If it had not been irrevocably settled, I should have been prepared, on any future occasion, to do the same thing ; but I contend that the site having been fixed by the only method known to Parliament - a majority vote in both Houses - the opposition to the building of the Capital at Canberra on the part of some of my Victorian friends on both sides in this Chamber is unwarranted. Having decided once and for all upon the selection of a particular site, the sooner we accomplish the object for which the Federal Capital was designed the better. I shall, therefore, on no occasion be found in opposition to a proposal for the expenditure of the money necessary to give effect to the wishes’ of the Parliament in establishing the Capital. I believe that the amount offered by the Government for the best design for the Federal City is totally inadequate to secure the best results. I have told the Minister of Home Affairs that, in my opinion, to give ,£25,000 for the best de-, sign for a Capital city, on which millions of pounds will ultimately be expended, would be money well spent if it secured for us a first-class. design. It would be a mere bagatelle compared with the results which might follow from its expenditure. It is no disparagement to Australian intelligence to say that in this country we have never had an opportunity of doing much in the planning of cities, and we should take advantage of the experience of ‘ people in the older countries of the world, and, that being so, I contend that we should make a magnificent offer so as to attract the best talent, because no country in the world can be always planning a new Capital. Such an opportunity will probably never arise again, and we should endeavour to obtain the most up-to-date plan for a Capital which the mind of man is capable of evolving. This is the first time in the history of the world when one nation has owned a whole continent, and has been able to create a city at its own will for the purpose of a Capital. It should be a city which will be an object of pride, and I might almost say of veneration to future generations of Australians. For that reason I think that the amount offered for the best design is ridiculously small and mean. If it should fail to bring forth a design which can be approved of, I trust that renewed efforts will be, made, and that a much more generous prize will be offered. I also believe that each House of this Parliament should have an opportunity of examining and approving of a design before it is adopted by the Government. It is not a matter for mere Cabinet decision, and, therefore, Parliament should have an opportunity of expressing an opinion on whatever designs may be submitted before we are committed to any particular one. In regard to the Tariff, at the referendum I made an uncompromising statement to the effect that I would oppose any alterations in the direction of affording more Protection to any industries until we had secured the power to give effect to what is known as the new Protection. While some of my colleagues on this side differ from me, I am still of that opinion. I think - and I believe, it is founded on a common-sense view of the matter - that if the manufacturers want to get more protection, they should enlist themselves on1 our side hi fighting for those amendments of the Constitution which will enable us to enact the new Protection.
– Does that not look very like a bribe?
– It does not trouble me in the least whether you call it a bribe, or anything else. I call it a condition, that unless they are prepared to give this Parliament the widest conceivable powers to see that labour gets fair remuneration they shall never receive a vote from me to give them one copper more protection. If all Protectionists in the world think differently I cannot help that : they are wrong, evidently. Does it not stand to reason that if you proceed to enact a scientific Tariff - a thing which I believe to be a myth - or the nearest approach you can get to it, the manufacturers will probably say, “ We have obtained, if not all we want, all we can expect, and now we will strenuously range ourselves against the Commonwealth having power to hand any of our profits over to the workers.” As a matter of pure tactics I think it would be idiotic on our part to give them another copper until they help us, or abstain from opposing us, in the demands we are making
– If you are serious you are very frank.
– I am frank. I have never concealed my opinion on this matter, and on a few others. We know very well that, under the Constitution, we have no power to enact new Protection. While I do not believe .for a moment that even it we had new Protection it would be more than a palliative to a section of the community; while I am not building up any extravagant hope that the widest measure of new Protection will ever bring about the industrial millenium, yet I do say that, so far as it goes, it is on the right lines, and that the recognition of it is a distinct step in human progress. The recognition by a whole community that a fiscal law is not meant for the benefit of one small section only, but is avowedly meant, even if it is not accomplished, to benefit the workers in the industries, as well as those who scoop the profits, is of itself a valuable one, and I shall demand that (recognition before 1 shall concede a single point.
– The Protectionist trades unionists, . in America, are unanimously against that.
– Yes, and the trades unionists in England are very largely against compulsory arbitration. It is, perhaps, a good thing that different communities in the civilized world, even speaking the same language, have different ideas on these matters.
– It is not your fault that they are wrong.
– I am not even saying that they are wrong. I quite agree that much of this legislation is purely experimental in character; that it is farreaching in its effect, and that all that it may yet bring about is not known to any of us. Consequently, if one nation waits to see how another nation gets on, we may be able to take lessons from its experience, or vice versa. I contend that we have not yet had an opportunity to give full effect to the principle of arbitration. I contend that all laws fail if you quote the instances of those who break them in proof of that contention, and that, therefore, the fact that there have been numerous transgressions of this law, that there have been various instances in which it has broken down, does not afford any conclusive evidence that it is wrongly based.
– The most serious thing is not the breach of the law, but the fact that the breach is defended, and that a right to break the law is claimed.
– I do most honestly.
– I was thinking of the honorable senator.
– I wish that the honorable senator had been as frank as I have been. I honestly contend that this experimental piece of legislation was deliberately spoiled by the gentlemen associated with my honorable friends opposite, when leading principles which we advocated should be included were rejected.
– That does not apply to State laws.
– When we find those who were compelled by force of public opinion to take up a measure and emasculate its main provisions, giving us the husk after crushing the kernel’, it is not to be wondered at that we absolutely refuse, when it suits us, to be bound by such a fraudulent law. A law is a fraud when the chief provisions which would have given it life are withheld. Of course, I go further than do many of my honorable friends, and believe that the basis’ of this law is wrong. In the Arbitration Act of New Zealand, they openly started with the advocacy of organization. They recognised that the law was for the purpose of the better organization of labour, or- used words to that effect, and they encouraged organization under the law. We, on the other hand, did not specifically do anything of that kind. We went out of our way to give opportunities to nonunionists to avail themselves of the law to some extent. But I go further than that, and say that an arbitration law, in order to be effective, should not attempt to do any of those Aim flam things which mob orators enunciate, about holding the scales evenly, and all that kind of pathetic claptrap. What we want is an arbitration law which sets out to do, by legal . and peaceful means, what we, as a Labour party, exists for, and that is to secure the wealth of the world for the world’s wealth producers. An arbitration law should be a means to secure to the workers, by peaceful means, an ever increasing share of the wealth which they produce. That is what we are out for. Why disguise it in any way ?
– You claim the right to arbitrate, and if the award does not suit you, to break it.
– We may apply for something which we know we are justly entitled to, and if. the verdict goes against us, we may get less than we are enjoying. An arbitration law of that kind is not of very much use to me, nor do I believe it will be to the workers. Manifestly, they want better conditions. They want an arbitration law to secure to them by peace ful means what they succeeded in getting before by strikes. If it is not going to do as much for them as strikes did, then we do not want it. We want means which will give us most of that which we, as wealth producers, are entitled to, and if one way will not do that, we naturally resort to the other. Whether my fellowmembers share these opinions or not, those are the lines on which I have always gone. I know that if you have a strike, you have to resort to arbitration sooner or later to determine the terms on which . you will settle. It is seldom that one side knocks out the other completely. They generally come to some kind of agreement as to the terms on which work shall be resumed. It is better, I think, to arbitrate before you fight than to do so after damage has been done. If we, as a class, are to gain anything by arbitration, we shall have to try a more effective scheme. It is a labour measure for the benefit pf the workers, not for the benefit of the class represented by honorable senators on the other side, who have been getting the benefit all the time. If they do not like that sentiment, I cannot help it. I contend that the methods of arbitration, so far, . have been ineffective, because they have not recognised that this is an age in which the workers have awakened to the fact that they have been far too long the slaves of a class who have robbed them from the cradle to the grave. It is slowly dawning upon them that they possess the numerical and physical power to alter that state of things. In this country the workers have attained political power, and once they form an effective combination, there is absolutely nothing to prevent them from getting all their demands complied with. If the Parliament is not prepared to frame measures which will give them slowly, but surely, a constantly increasing instalment of the wealth they produce, then it will naturally goad them into such a state that they will turn round and take the lot. For the protection of the class for which my Conservative friends opposite -attempt to legislate, they should be foremost in advocating this peaceful means of securing justice to the workers, knowing that that is the only way to avert revolution.
– Do you not trust the Arbitration Court?
– I have not been complaining of the awards of the Court, but of the very foundation of our arbitration law; that it does not set out definitely to give better conditions to the workers.
– That was its object.
– That should be its sole purpose, and that is the purpose which men always put before crowds. But I hold that that is not its sole effect. Its purpose does npt matter to rae unless that is its effect. When a law can be brought in to lower wages as well as to raise them, do you think that it is of any use to us? It is of no use to me.
– You are a whole hogger, anyhow.
– No; I believe in carrying out a thing lo its logical conclusion, and the purpose of my argument is to show that the workers of the world are setting out to get a larger share ‘of the wealth of the world which they are the chief factors in producing. That being so, of what- use is it to them if a Court gives them a little more to-day and takes it away from them to-morrow, placing them in- a worse position than they originally were? That is simply playing with the question, merely tampering with a great purpose, instead of dealing with it. It must be clear to all of us that the proceedings of the Arbitration Courts must be rendered much more prompt and less costly than they are at present. Take the case of the Australian Workers Union, whose case is being heard at the present time. The costs; which have been piled up week after week, have already involved our union in about £6,000. That kind of thing may be all very well in the case of a big wealthy union like ours, which can stand it. But what sort of effect can such difficulties have upon the masses of workers all over the Commonwealth?
– How was the £6,000 expenditure incurred?
– The - honorable senator cannot expect me to furnish him with a lawyer’s bill of costs.
– I thought’ the arbitration law shut out the lawyers.
– No, it does not. The honorable senator will find that, if the parties agree, or if the Judge so orders, lawyers may be admitted. Indeed, I know that that is so, because in a case which was tried by Mr. Justice O’Connor four years ago we sought, prior to the trial corning on, to prevent the pastoralists getting leave to employ counsel, and the Judge granted leave, in spite of our opposition. That having been done, of course we then secured the best counsel we could. The present
High Commissioner represented us, and put up a very decent fight for us, getting well paid for it, of course. He even advocated preference to unionists, notwithstanding our political objects.
– That” was part of his brief, not an exposition of his principles.
– We quite understand that it was in accordance with his brief. The expenses of witnesses are something enormous. We have had to bring witnesses from every State in the Common-wealth, except Western Australia, where an agreement at present exists, and have had in many cases to keep them for weeks, and that during the shearing season, when competent men would be earning the largest amounts that they earn at any time during the year. Thousands of documents have had to be prepared. All this costs an enormous amount of money, and I say deliberately that something approximating . £6,000 has been spent on this case up to date.- I now ask leave to continue.my remarks to-morrow. Leave granted ; debate adjourned. Senate adjourned at 10.3a p.m. “
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 September 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1911/19110913_senate_4_60/>.