4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The Senate met at 2.30 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General .
The Clerk read the proclamation.
His EXCELLENCY the GOVERNORGENERAL entered the chamber and took the chair. A message was forwarded to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate Chamber, who being come with their Speaker,
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech: - .
His Excellency the GovernorGeneral having retired,
The President took the chair at 2.50 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills of last session reported : -
Naval Defence Bill.
Commonwealth Bank Bill.
Customs Tariff Bill.
Inscribed Stock Bill.
Australian Notes Bill.
Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill.
Telegraphs and Telephones Special Works Account Bill.
Pacific Cable Bill.
Public Service Bill.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1909-10.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings Bill) 1909-10.
Appropriation Bill 1911-12.
– I have to inform the Senate that on the 7 th October last I forwarded to Lady Northcote, through His Excellency the Governor-General, the resolution of sympathy passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of Lord Northcote, third Governor-General of the Commonwealth, and that, in reply, I have received from the Governor- General letters forwarding despatches from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, together with a letter of thanks from Lady Northcote, which I ask the Clerk to read.
Letter read by the Clerk as follows : -
Eastwell Park, Ashford, Kent,
December 4, 1911.
Dear Mr. President,
I am deeply grateful to the Senate for the honour paid to the memory of my husband, and would desire through you to thank the members for their message of sympathy in my bereavement.
During the years which Lord Northcote and I spent in the Commonwealth we met with unvarying kindness, and I am even more touched by the share which Australia has borne in my sorrow. I take comfort in the thought that my husband’s name should be held in esteem in a country from which we both carried away feelings of lasting affection.
I remain, dear Mr. President,
Alice S. Northcote.
-laid upon the table-
The Treasurer’s statement of receipts and expenditure during the year ending 30th June, 1911, accompanied by the report of the AuditorGeneral.
MINISTERS laid on the table the following papers : -
Audit Act - Transfers of amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council -
Financial Year 1910-11, dated - 26th April, 1912.
Financial Year 1911-12, dated - 14th February, 20th March, 27th March, 3rd April, 18th April, 26th April, 30th April, 8th May, 15th May.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1911 respecting contract immigrants admitted or refused admission into the Commonwealth, &c.
Census and Statistics Act -
Regulations (provisional) -
Labour and Industrial Statistics - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 12.
Return of Trade Union Statistics - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 31.
Returns of retail prices by shopkeepers - Statutory Rules 191 2, No. 38.
Population and Vital Statistics -
No. 27. Quarter ended 30th June, 1911.
Shipping and Oversea Migration, 1910.
Trade, Shipping, Migration, and Finance -
No. 56. - August, 191 1.
No. 57. - September, 191 1.
No. 58. - October, 1911.
Trade and Customs and Excise Revenue, 1910.
Defence - Australian Army Medical Corps - Annual Report of the Director-General for the year ending 30th June,1911.
Defence Act - Regulations, Amended, &c. (Provisional) -
Factories - Government - Conduct and Management, &c, under section 63 - Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 87, 90.
Military College - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 86.
Universal Training - Statutory Rules 191 1, No. 212 ; 1912, Nos. 7, 10, 16, 20, 42, 47, 72, 88, 89, 100.
Military Forces -
Regulations - Statutory Rules, 191 1, No. 213; 1912, Nos. 6, 19, 23, 28, 30, 37, 43, 48, 61, 82, 91.
Financial and Allowance Regulations - Statutory Rules 1911, No.211; 1912, Nos. 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21, 22, 24, 25, 29, 36, 39, 40, 41, 44, 49, 50,58, 59, 73, 74, 77 ,81, 98, 99,103,104.
Naval Defence Act - Naval Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulations, Amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1911, No. 210; 1912, Nos. 2, 3, 18, 34,83.
Electoral Act -
Reports, with maps, by the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the States of Victoria and Western Australia into Electoral Divisions.
Electoral Act and Referendum Constitution Alteration Act -
Regulations (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 68.
Electoral Act and Tasmanian Electoral Act -
Regulations (Provisional) relating to joint Electoral Rolls. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 67.
Immigration Restriction Act -
Return showing, for 1911 -
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under at -
Bittern (Morradoo), Victoria - For Commonwealth purposes.
Bittern (Morradoo, &c), Victoria - For Commonwealth purposes.
Caulfield, Victoria- For Commonwealth purposes.
Delunga, New South Wales - As a site for a post-office.
Fort Largs, South Australia - For Defence purposes.
Guildford, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Hamilton, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Jervis Bay, New South Wales - For Commonwealth purposes.
Kilkivan, Queensland - For Commonwealth purposes.
Kyogle, New South Wales - For Commonwealth purposes.
North Botany, New South Wales - For Commonwealth purposes.
Penguin, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Pialligo, New South Wales - For Commonwealth purposes.
Rylstone, New South Wales - For Commonwealth purposes.
Selwyn, Queensland - For Commonwealth purposes.
Stockton, New South Wales - For defence purposes.
Sydney, New South Wales - For Commonwealth purposes.
West Terrace, South Australia - For postal purposes.
Yarraville, Victoria. - For postal purposes.
Yatala (Hundred of), South Australia -
As a site for Post Office.
As as site for a Wireless Telegraph Station.
Meteorology Act -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Meteorological Publications -
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 13
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 84.
Naturalization Act -
Return of number of persons to whom certificates of naturalization were granted, 1911.
Northern Territory -
Ordinances of 191 1 -
No. 14 - Lands Acquisition.
No. 15 - Interpretation, No. 2.
No. 16 - Aboriginals.
Ordinances of 1912 -
No. 1 - Native Birds Protection.
No. 2 - District Council Assessment.
No. 3 - Crown Lands.
No. 4 - Supreme Court.
Ordinances of 191 1 -
No. 20 - Liquor.
No. 22 - Supplementary Appropriation, 1910-1911, No. 7.
No. 28 - Plants’ Diseases.
No. 29 - Liquor, No. 2.
No. 30 - Supplementary Appropriation, 1911- 1912, No. 1.
Pearl, Pearl-shell, and Beche-de-mer.
Ordinances of 1912 -
Public Service Act -
Appointments, Promotions, &c.
Department of Prime Minister -
Department of Treasury -
Department of Home Affairs -
Regulations Amended -
No. 228 - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 1.
No. 104 - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 32.
Nos. 114-116a - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 33.
No. 48 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 51.
No. 158a - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 52.
No. 163a (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 54.
No. 157 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 55.
No. 168 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 56.
Nos. 40,89, 105-108a - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 57.
Nos. 144-5,257-61 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 57.
Nos. 60-65 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 62.
No. 57 - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 63.
No. 168 (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 80.
No. 157 - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 101.
Nos. 40, 89, 105-108a, 144-5,257-61 - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 102.
No. 163a - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 106.
Telegraphs and Telephones Special Works Account Act -
Transfer of Moneys dated 13th March, 1912.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinance of1911 -
No. 3 - Rates (No. 2). -
Ordinance of 1912 -
No. 1 - Traffic.
No. 2 - Rates.
– In view of the great disaster which happened to the steamer Titanic, and seeing that the Navigation Bill has yet to go through another place, is it the intention of the Government to introduce amendments to that measure which will minimize the possibility of such a dread catastrophe occurring in Australian waters.
– The awful incidents connected with the loss of the Titanic, so far as they have been related to us by the press, have been considered by the officers of the Trade and Customs Department and the Government, and the Navigation Bill as it left the Senate is being reviewed in the light of the information supplied to us concerning that disaster.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs if he can inform the Senate as to the stage reached in connexion with the negotiations which, I understand, are now going on between the Commonwealth Government and the South Australian Government in reference to the acquirement by the Commonwealth of land necessary for the construction and maintenance of the trans- Australian railway. Will the Minister,” when giving the information, also inform the Senate as to when a start will be made with the construction of the line after the negotiations referred to are completed?
– The necessary Act passed by the South Australian Parliament to enable a commencement to be made with the railway was thought by the Government to be, in some of its provisions, inadequate for the safeguarding of the interests of the Commonwealth. Certain communications have passed in regard to proposed amendments or alterations, and these negotiations, we hope, will be shortly brought to a successful issue. The intention of the Government in respect to the construction of the railway is disclosed in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, in which it is stated that, after the negotiations referred to are completed, the construction of the line will be immediately proceeded with.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether it is a fact that the Government have already employed a number of men in what may be regarded as the preliminary stages of this undertaking?
– I am not able to answer that question. I ask the honorable senator to give notice of it.
– Perhaps the Minister may be able to get information on the subject, and, if possible, will give me an answer at an earlier stage than he suggests.
– I shall endeavour to do so.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether the steamer Rotomahana, which, by arrangement, carries mails for the Australian Government and also passengers between Melbourne and Launceston, has not yet qualified for an old-age pension ?
– I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the question.
– Arising out of the answer, I should like to put a further question to the Minister.
– Order !
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether, in accordance with a promise made by him last session, the Government will furnish honorable senators with a return showing : - 1 . The names of those who have paid Federal land tax during the past financial year.’ z. The amount of their respective assessments. 3. The amount of tax paid.
– The returns referred to are being prepared. But a statement of the names of taxpayers and the amount of taxation paid by them is at the present time considered a matter of confidence by the Commissioner of Taxes. I shall make further inquiries, and see whether the request made by Senator Ready can be complied with.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until lo-morrow at half-past 2 o’clock p.m.
– I have to report that His Excellency the Governor-General opened Parliament in this chamber to-day, and that he was pleased to deliver a speech, a copy of which has been handed to every honorable senator, so that it is not necessary that it should be read.
– I move -
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 Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to Our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
In moving the adoption of the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech, I may take the opportunity of saying that the motion which I now submit will, I am confident, meet with the most hearty accord from every honorable senator opposite, as well as from the members of the party to which I belong. To my mind it marks one of the characteristics of our parliamentary methods that, upon a motion of this character, as to which there is common agreement, we are likely to have a most vigorous debate, full of keen criticism, at all events from honorable senators opposite. That criticism will be directed, not only to the principles which have actuated the present Government, but also to their administration during the two years that they have been in office.
– We shall endeavour to meet the honorable senator’s require1 ments in that regard.
– I say franki)^ as one of the supporters of this Government, that we shrink from no criticism. 1 recognise that Parliament is a place in which vigorous criticism of the action of any Government is appropriate; but I venture to say that in respect of their policy and administration the. present Government can challenge criticism with greater confidence than could any Government that has ever held office in Australia. Not only have they attempted, and in many instances carried to a successful issue, many projects which have met with the most-*-I was going to say bitter, but I . prefer to say strenuous opposition - but they have carried them into effect in a manner-‘ which would not have been possible had any other than this Government been in office. That has been rendered possible by reason of the fact that the Government have had such a strong following in both Houses of the Legislature, and also by reason of the splendid support which has been accorded to them from one end of Australia to the other. As far as projected new legislation is concerned, there is much in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to occupy our attention for many months to come. I am of opinion that the first essential of successful government is the maintenance in office of a set of men who will be able to manage affairs and carry out a policy in the interest of the people of the country ; and during the time that I have had the privilege of occupying a seat in the Commonwealth Legislature - and this is the first time during a reasonably long parliamentary career that I have ever been so satis- factorily situated - I have had the pleasure of knowing that I was supporting a Government in office that was not only prepared to administer the affairs of this country in the interests of the people, but also to carry out quickly and effectively the practical legislation that the party to which I belong has been striving for a great many years to accomplish. Turning to some of the points mentioned in the Speech, we may join with His Excellency in congratulating the whole Commonwealth upon the splendid rains that have given us an assurance of prosperity for some time ahead. I must, however, deprecate the attempts that have been made in the press, and by many members of the public, to exaggerate the fact that there has been a short period without rain by describing it as a drought. People at a distance who are not acquainted with the power of recuperation possessed by the soil of this country read these descriptions of drought and form the opinion that Australia is in a serious condition. I say that it is a mistake to allow the idea to go abroad that each little period of dryness ought to be described in the press, by some of the public, and also, I am sorry to say, by some platform speakers, as a drought.
– I wish the honorable senator were in the middle of it. He would speak otherwise then.
– I venture to say that no one in this chamber has seen more of the effects of the drought than I have.
– And felt less.
– I leave the honorable senator to think so if he pleases.
– I mean that the honorable senator has not personally felt the effects of drought to any great extent.
– I am not so sure of that. I recognise that between January and May of the present year the outlook, so far as the country was concerned, was not of the brightest. But still there was no warrant for making a great outcry in regard to it. Certainly there was a shortage of that rainfall which is so essential to success in our primary industries. But we must recollect that in Australia the autumn seasons are always marked by long periods of dry weather-
– The autumn is the period of our most abundant rainfall.
– It may be so in certain places. We all join with His Excellency in expressing our pleasure that the prospect of a protracted drought has passed away, and that we can look forward to a continuation of our former prosperity. In this connexion, I would point out how prosperous the Australian Commonwealth has been since it fell under the guidance of the present Government.
– And the Caucus.
– I do not object to the statement of the honorable senator, because the Labour Caucus is merely a meeting of our party, and I hope that our party will always formulate our programme. I hope that it will always exercise a wise supervision over proposed legislation. If honorable senators opposite work under a different system - a system under which there is no meeting of their party to consider what legislation shall be pressed forward, and what measures shall be withheld, I am sorry for them. But I would like to know what they have to substitute for the system which is adopted by the Labour party. The Caucus is nothing more nor less than a meeting of our party ; and if there be anything wrong in its members meeting together, I should like to know what it is.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. -The Caucus is a meeting at which the minority are drilled into obedience.
– That is one of those misstatements which may be used with effect on a public platform when there are people present who do not know better ; but when the honorable senator deliberately affirms that the Caucus is used to drill the minority into obedience, if he does not know that the statement is incorrect he ought to. I want to say, further, that, not only do I claim, as an individual member of the Caucus, as much liberty as my honorable friends opposite, but I claim that I enjoy more. I have greater liberty than they have in criticising the actions of my party.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Does the honorable senator ever criticise their actions in the Senate?
– He has done so repeatedly.
– My record of last session alone is more than a complete answer to the question as to whether I have ever criticised the members of the Labour Government. But I do not want to get away from the point at issue. Senator Gould is under the impression that the Labour Caucus adopts a system under which the minority of the party must bow to the will of the majority ; but that is not correct. So far as the Caucus is concerned, we are pledged to vote for certain planks in our platform; but outside of those planks we are not bound by any word or pledge. I hope that we have heard the last of this attempt at misrepresentation - this attempt to misrepresent the facts to the people outside, and to make it appear that members of the Labour party have not the same freedom as have the members of other political parties. I make the assertion that as our platform is in black and white, and we have to sign itbefore we can become candidates for Parliament, we enjoy more freedom than do honorable senators opposite.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - I congratulate the honorable senator upon his freedom.
– Measured by every standard that we can apply - whether it be by Customs and Excise revenue, by land values, by the increase of immigration or population - we can look back with satisfaction on the time that the administration of the affairs of this country has been in the hands of the Labour Government. Measured by any of these standards there is an increased and increasing prosperity in Australia which is a complete answer to the gloomy predictions made by my honorable friends opposite when we were struggling for the reins of office.
– Our prosperity merely serves to show what great resources there are in this country.
– It is remarkable that in face of all the dismal predictions that the Labour Government would fail to live up to their high ideal-
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Have they lived up to it?
– If they have not, we shall be delighted to hear honor able senators opposite tell us where they have failed either in administration or legislation.
– They have failed in everything.
– I do not want any general statement of that kind, but I invite these old, astute parliamentarians to level definite charges against the Government - charges of failure either in administration or legislation. As this is the last session before we shall be called upon to face our constituents, let honorable senators opposite point to the statute-book, and tell us what legislation we have enacted which they will repeal. Will they repeal the Land Tax Act ? I do not think so. That tax, if it did nothing else, called into existence a number of additional taxpayers to assist the people to prepare for the defence of Australia. I recollect that when the Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, was in London, he was waited upon by a deputation of absentee landowners, who pointed out the hardship which the tax inflicted upon their interests. I remember that a gentleman representing the Midland Land Company complained that that company had to pay £7,000 annually to the Commonwealth Government as the result of its operation. Another member of the deputation, Mr. Henry Joselyn, representing the old South Australian Land Company, affirmed that that company had to contribute no less a sum than£18,000 a year. I would ask my honorable friends opposite whether they will tell the people that they are prepared to repeal that legislation, and thus save the absentees from paying land tax. They appear to be quite silent now when we ask whether they are going to do this thing or not. I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that if, at the next general election, they could get sufficient power, they would revert to a system under which wealthy companies would escape taxation as they did prior to our legislation. Apart from raising revenue to assist in carrying out the great defence proposals of the Labour Government, what has been the effect of the land tax ?
– What are the defence proposals of your Government?
– I refer to our land and naval defence proposals.
– Do you mean compulsory training?
– That is one of them.
– That was placed on the statute-book before this Government was formed.
– The late Government wanted to borrow ^3,500,000 to defray the cost of their proposals.
– There is not a cadet in training nor a rivet in a ship to-day that would not have been there if the present Government had not been formed.
– The whole contention of the Opposition party, taking our information from the press of Melbourne and Sydney, was that if the Empire needed assistance in naval defence it should be given a Dreadnought for service in the “ North Sea. That was the whole cry of the party with which my honorable friend is connected, and when we talked of building a Navy to protect Australia, they talked ot that Navy as a mosquito fleet.
– A tin-pot Navy.
– It was described by the Leader of the Opposition as “ the Labour party’s tin-pot Navy.” Our opponents almost branded us as disloyalists because we refused to contribute to a Dreadnought fund. If there is one thing more than another for which the Prime Minister deserves credit, it is that, in a time of clamour, when it did look as if the Empire was in danger, he was not to be stampeded into any proposal to vote huge sums of public money to assist in providing a fleet at the other side of the world. He contended then that the best defence of the Empire, so far as Australia was concerned, was the defence of Australia by Australia.
– Does the honorable senator deny that the fleet is being constructed in accordance with the agreement entered into by the Deakin Government ?
– I am not going to attempt to answer any of the conundrums put so cleverly by my honorable friend. According to the press of New South Wales, and according to the speeches of honorable senators opposite, their whole idea of a naval defence scheme was an increased subsidy to the British Navy.
– It was the scheme which you are carrying out now.
– Their whole idea was that an increased subsidy should be granted to the British Government, and that a Dreadnought should be presented to the Old Country, to be used where it would be most needed - in the North Sea.
– What was the purpose of the Naval Loan Bill ?
– After the Government winning the elections in the teeth of their opponents’ criticism and the Labour party’s scheme receiving the approval of the best men who have been giving their attention to the defence of the Empire, I can quite understand the anxiety of honorable senators opposite to try to claim it as part of their policy. Ever since there has been a Labour party they have clamoured and cavilled at every new proposal put forward ; but when, by the use of the platform only, we popularized the measures, and, perhaps, had enough strength in Parliament to compel the Government to place them on the statute-book, they have had. the effrontery to claim them as their measures. The land tax has had the effect of compelling absentee landlords to pay their fair share towards the government and defence of Australia. It has had a further effect. It has caused the breaking up of innumerable large estates from one end of this continent to the other. Mr. Henry Joselyn, when pointing out to the Prime Minister in London what his land company were prepared to do, said that their tenants only held reasonably small holdings - that is, farms of 240 acres each - were prosperous, and satisfied to remain as tenants ; but he added that if the company were called upon to pay this enormous taxation, they must say to their tenants, “ We will sell our farms to you at cheaper prices than to anybody else, but we must sell them, because we cannot pay the tax.” Here is the case of an outsider pointing out that the very first effect of our land tax is that his company are compelled to sell their big landed estates. I do not think that there is any one here who has a doubt as to which is the better class of farmers - those who own -the lands or those who have to pay interest.
– Those who own the lands, not those who lease them.
– My honorable friend’s only objection to the leasehold system is when the rent is paid by the lessee to the Government. We have never heard him raise his voice against a system of leasehold under which the rent is paid to a rich landlord or a big company.
– Yes, you have.
– No doubt I did when the honorable senator belonged to our party, and we sat together in conference in 1893. I wish to point to another effect of the land tax which has come under my own observation. I am not going to say that the effect of this taxation has been so marked in all the towns of Australia as it has been at the town of Orange. Within a five-mile radius of the Orange post-office, five or six very large estates have been subdivided and sold since the land tax came into operation. I refer to Dalton’s Blechington estate, the Rosedale estate, Moulder’s Bloomfield estate, Moulder’s Warrindine estate, and Frost’s Campdale estate. Of these five estates, four border upon the boundaries of the municipality. If there was nothing else to justify our party and to make us satisfied with the result of this experimental legislation, these subdivisions should.. We can never forget the objections which were taken to our policy by honorable senators opposite. They used all the constitutional means in their power to prevent us from giving effect to our proposals before they would submit to the will of the majority at the polls, and also to the will of the majority in each House of Parliament. We are intensely gratified that our legislation is doing exactly what we claimed it would do. Our honorable friends on the other side not only said that it would be a serious mistake to introduce a land tax, but they tried to make the Parliament and the country believe that we had not the constitutional power to enact such an impost. I believe that their statements led the land companies which appealed to the Courts to waste a considerable amount of their money in testing our constitutional power. Honorable senators on the other side said so positively that there was no power in the Constitution to give effect to our land tax proposals that I have no doubt a number of the big landholders who had not looked into the matter as keenly, believed that their statement was true, but they found to their sorrow that it was not true.
– We never denied that Parliament had the power.
– I do not want to hunt up the statements of my honorable friends.
– Nobody denied the power of Parliament to impose a land tax, but we said the power was never intended to be used except in an emergency.
– We can understand now why our opponents claim our de fence system as theirs. I suppose that the land tax system is theirs, and that they have always intended to carry it out. I have no doubt that everything which turns out well will be represented by them to be exactly what they intended. I heard the debates in the Senate, and read the debates in the other House, and I thought that one of the chief objections of the Opposition to our land tax proposal was that Parliament had not the constitutional power to enact such taxation. At all events, that was the impression which was conveyed to my mind. I do not always, know whether my honorable friends aretalking to deceive their own supporters, or criticising the Government with a view toimproving their legislation. It is pleasing to know that the system of Australian bank notes is working satisfactorily.
– Is it?
– It is very pleasing, indeed, to learn from the opening speech that the system is working in a most satisfactory manner. The value of the notes in circulation is over £9,000,000.
– That is not correct.
– Notes to that value have been issued, but only notes of the value of £4,000,000 at the outside are in circulation, so that any two or three banks, if they wanted to do it, could tie up your Government in a few minutes.
– I am not going to discuss what any two or three banks might do. The fact that notes of the value of £9,512,151 have been issued, and that there is a gold reserve of £4,305,215 at the Treasury-
– How long is it going to be there at that rate?
– It matters not how long it is going to be there at that rate. There is a gold basis of almost 50 per cent, of the notes issued. .
Senator Millen. But the Prime Minister recently put through a Bill to reduce the gold reserve to 25 per cent.
– If necessary; and I suppose that my honorable friend is aware that the best authorities say that a gold reserve of 12½ per cent. is sufficient to carry on with.
– Not with a tenmillion issue.
– If a gold reserve of 12½ per cent. is considered by some ofthe best authorities to be sufficient for a small banking company, why is it not sufficient for the Government of Australia, which can call up, if need be, the last shilling from the last taxpayer?
– The gold is not the only reserve.
– No, it is not,in this case.
– It is the only thing which can be paid over the counter, though.
– We know how many tons of gold there are waiting to be paid over the counter, but there need be no fear in this matter. I think that honorable senators opposite will agree with me that during the time the Australian notes have been in circulation the utmost care has been exercised by our Treasurer and Prime Minister. There is nothing in his administration which need cause the least anxiety in the mind of the most nervous that anything is being, or will be, done in a way calculated to injure the reputation and credit of the Commonwealth. I am also glad to find that the Bank Bill of last session is being given effect to, and that the appointment of the Governor will be quickly followed by the appointment of his subordinate officers, so that we may soon have a most successful banking system in operation. I should like here to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition upon the tact that in a recent speech he pointed out, and agreed with, the soundness of our banking proposals.
– That is quite incorrect.
– I do not want to be incorrect. In fact, I wanted to congratulate my honorable friend on being correct in that case.
– I must decline your congratulations.
– I was merely quoting from a statement which the honorable senator made in the Paddington town hall, and in which he pointed out that our banking proposals were absolutely on a safe and sound foundation, the only fault being that they brought into existence a twenty-fourth bank, when we already had twenty-three banks in the Commonwealth. If the honorable senator did not make that statement, he ought, I think, to read the press reports of his speeches a little more carefully, and correct them.
– What you have done has been to quote a portion of what I said, leaving out the preceding remarks. I shall supply the omission to-morrow.
– I really thought that I was quoting exactly what my honorable friend said at Paddington, that we were simply calling into existence a twenty-fourth bank, when already there were twenty-three banks, which could conduct the whole of the financial business of the Commonwealth.
– I am sure that the honorable senator is wrong, for this reason: for months I have been looking hard for something kind to say about the Government, and I have failed.
– My honorable friend is in very bad company. I was going to contrast that candid statement of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate with the carping statement of a leader, or half-leader, who sits in the other House, that the Labour Government have been responsible for the passage of legislation which compelled the banks to pay their gold into the Treasury and take the Prime Minister’s I.O.U.’s in return.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - It looks very much like it.
– The honorable senator says that it looks very much like it; but is there any man acquainted with the legislation providing for the Australian note issue who will say that there is any compulsion brought to bear upon the banks to use Australian notes? If it does not suit the convenience of their banking business, they have no occasion to use them.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - But the honorable senator knows perfectly well that they must have notes to carry on their business.
– Weknow that in the ordinary conduct of their business they must employ notes.
-Colonel SirAlbert Gould. - The Government do not permit them to issue notes of their own, and so they must take the notes provided by the Government.
– Exactly. Just as we say that they shall not issue any sovereigns, shillings, or coppers of their own, and must take the coin provided for them by the Government. The point I wish to make is that it is not right that men holding high positions in the public life of this country should, in order to gain the passing advantage of the applause of the crowd, make statements so wide of the mark as that the legislation passed by this Parliament compels the banks to take the Australian notes.
– As a matter of fact, is not that practically, what it does do ?
– As a matter of fact, it does not. The banks have no more need to take these notes than I have. When I go to a bank, they give me notes because it is convenient for them to do so ; but if they choose to conduct a cash business, there is no compulsion upon them to take Australian notes under the legislation which has been passed by this Parliament. What has been stated may be one of the effects of our legislation ; but if we are to have honest criticism of the Government, the people should be told that. They should not be asked to listen to wild statements that such a thing is compulsory under our legislation. I think I may say that, so far as the Australian notes are concerned, the best and soundest banking authorities - and I do not here refer to that section of the banking community composed of people who are half bankers and half politicians, but to the common sense banking community - do not at the present time view the Australian note issue with any alarm. The people are satisfied with the note issue, the best banking authorities are not alarmed, and we are deriving at the present time from this legislation a profit of £200,000 a year in the way of interest on loans. Our notes have been loaned to the various States, and the loans granted to Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and the other States have enabled those States to carry out reproductive WOrkS that have l:>een of immense benefit to them. It should further be remembered that the State Governments have not been asked to take £92, £95, or £98 for each £100, but have been given the full £100 for every £100 they borrow. The people of the Commonwealth and of the States represent the same body of taxpayers. This legislation has been of mutual benefit to the Commonwealth and the States, and it is very hard, at the present time, to estimate what is the real profit which the people of Australia derive from this par ticular piece df Commonwealth legislation.
– It has enabled the States Governments to get better terms from private money-lenders also.
– That is so.
– They are paying higher interest now than they ever had to do before, although the honorable senator claims that the financial legislation of the Government is so beneficial.
– One reason for that is the abounding prosperity of the Australian community, and the development of investments which has been proceeding during the last two years, and which has been unprecedented in Australia. In times past our friends opposite used to talk to us of the iron law of supply and demand. When money is not being used you can get it cheaply, but when money is required for investment in trade and commerce, and for business purposes, then, just as the demand for it increases, so the price for its use increases.
– Is not that the iron law of demand and supply?
– That is exactly what 1 am saying. I am getting back a little on my honorable friends opposite. We used to have to put up with these lectures heretofore, but we are giving them to our honorable friends now.
– Then the honorable senator has learned something from those lectures.
– I have learned much from the honorable senator. I used to listen to the words of wisdom which fell from his lips many years ago. In considering the banking proposals of the Government, it is well to consider their full effects, and not to try to put them in a false light in order to blame them for results which are not due to them. The increased price of money is due to the increased demand for it. No one can fail to have observed the enormous development of business which has taken place in Sydney, and also, I am glad to say in Melbourne, during the last two years. One of the most pleasing features of the time is the growth and development of business, not only in these two cities, but throughout Australia. I do not intend to speak at any great length, but I wish to refer to something new which is mentioned in paragraph 9 of the Governor-General’s Speech.
After a reference to the death rate amongst infants, the statement is made -
My Advisers, considering its men and women to be the greatest asset of the nation, after most careful consideration, have decided to lay before you a proposal for a maternity grant to the mothers of children born in the Commonwealth.
On account of its novelty this may be regarded as one of the most remarkable features of His Excellency’s address. It is remarkable for many reasons. If it is found that the proposal receives the approval of the people of the Commonwealth our friends opposite may not claim that it is their proposal, and something we have taken from them, but I have no doubt that four or five years hence, should there be an appeal to the people, and this proposal is found to be approved by them, we shall find the same anxiety displayed by our honorable friends opposite to show that they always believed in it, and that if the Labour Government had not remained in power, they would have given effect to it.
– Their caucus approved of it yesterday.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– The report of their proceedings in the Age shows that they did. The proposal to my mind has much to commend it. I think it was Mr. Arthur Griffith, Minister for Works in New South Wales, and one of Australia’s foremost men, who said that the most desirable immigrant is the Australian baby. We have the statement made that last year nearly 9,000 children died under the age of one year, and nearly half of that number died during the first four weeks of their infant life.
– Is that peculiar to Australia ?
– Certainly not. The figures disclose that the death rate amongst infants is much greater during the first month of life than later, and most of us are acquainted with the fact that much may be done to save many thousands of these valuable lives.
– And ought to be done.
– And much ought to be done. -The statistics, not only for Australia, but for all countries in the world, show that the mortality amongst infants is nearly as great during the first month as during the following eleven months of infant life. We have now a maternity grant proposed by the Govern ment. I do not know what the amount will be, but, whatever it may be, it should be sufficient to provide better professional attendance, nursing accommodation, and better food for mother and infant.
– Does the honorable senator not think that it ought to be retrospective ?
– This enormous death rate may be materially reduced if provision be made for better professional attendance and better nourishment for mother and infant. In the case of the ordinary working man, who has to maintain himself and his family on just what his hands can earn, the receipt of a small amount of money, even as small as the maternity grant may be, will at that interesting period remove a great deal of anxiety from the minds of himself and family by placing them in a position to secure little comforts, and will, in my opinion, lead to a considerable improvement in the figures showing the death rate amongst infants at the present time. It is reasonable to suppose that the expenditure of a few pounds at that period will enable many infants, who under existing conditions pass away, to thrive arid develop. It is because I believe this to be a sound and common-sense proposal that I give it my approval. I know that, at first sight, it is repugnant to the conservative mind.
– No doubt the honorable senator is an authority on the conservative mind.
– I recognise that I am apt to get out of touch with the party because of the conservative view I take of things. It may give us a sort of shock to read of a proposal of this kind for the first time, but when we make ourselves acquainted with the advantages that are likely to accrue from it, and the assistance it may afford for the preservation of a number of valuable lives, in spite of our natural conservatism we can give it approval. Viewing it in a calmer light, we can all agree that it will provide a means of saving life. My honorable friend, Senator Vardon, is inclined to make the proposal retrospective in order to cover lost ground, but there must be a beginning to all new forms of legislation. This is a beginning upon which the Government can be congratulated, and I join most heartily in that congratulation. There are several other matters mentioned in the Speech, which might be referred to j but I think it is sufficient now to comment upon the fact that a selection has been made from the designs for the Federal Capital. I hope that the Government will proceed expeditiously with the building of the Capital, and I look forward to the possibility that, perhaps the next Parliament may meet in the Australian Federal Capital at Yass-Canberra.
– I desire to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. Looking through the Speech, I can congratulate the Government upon the progressive steps they propose, and which I believe are in keeping with the desires of the people of Australia. If the legislation foreshadowed be passed, as I trust it will be, during this session, I have no doubt that the Government will have the highest of all compliments paid to them, such as they have received in respect of their past legislation, namely, that the Opposition will claim their measures wholesale, and assert that they were initiated by them.
– Would the honorable senator mind telling us the date of the Defence Bill which made training compulsory ?
SenatorE. J. RUSSELL. - I have a recollection of a proposal, not by a halfleader, but by a whole leader of the honorable senator, for the defence of Australia up some back creek with a war boat.
– The honorable senator is evading the issue.
– I would ask Senator Millen to say whether he was not a supporter of the Dreadnought policy of Australian defence?
– Did we, or did we not, bring in a Bill to make training compulsory ?
– In seconding the motion, I have to say that, while agreeing with the past legislation of the Government, I can also extend to them my congratulations upon their splendid administration of the various Departments. I have followed most of the speeches made by members of the Opposition, and I am not aware of any definite criticism which they have been able to level against the legislation carried into effect by the Government now in power.
– That is the reason why the Opposition have been so successful in their campaign in the country.
– That is owing to the fact that the Opposition are such an harmonious body ! The various sections of it love each other ! Although the honorable senator is one of the chosen mouthpieces of that great body, the Women’s National. League, I am afraid that they are causing as much discomfort in his party as can be imagined.
– They are supporting the honorable senator, are they not ?
– I believe they, are, and I wish them good luck. I do not think that I have ever been condemned for being so narrow-minded as to reject support from whatever quarter it may come. There is another difficulty about criticising a document of this kind with which one is in general agreement, namely, that the Opposition, from whom we have a right to expect criticism, seem to be unable to advance anything that is original and new. When we look to them for criticism of the Labour platform, one of the first things we hear from them is the old cry of “caucus secrecy.” That is an objection to our party’s organization that was dealt with and effectively disposed of years ago. But to-day, it may be remarked, it is not only the Labour party that has a secret caucus. The political party in Australia now that not only refuses information to the public and to the press, but even to members of their own party, is that which is presided over by no less a person than Senator Vardon. He presided over a caucus held not long ago as to the proceedings of which no information was accorded, and consequently Mr. W. H. Irvine, in criticising what he supposed to be the result of its deliberations, appears to have fallen under the displeasure of his colleagues, who took occasion to bring him to book. The result was that Mr. Irvine apologized, and pleaded in excuse his ignorance of the platform of his own party.
– That shows the tolly of a man speaking about a thing as to which he is not sufficiently informed.
– It does.
– Does not the honorable senator think, then, that he ought to profit by that example?
– I say “ Hear; hear,” to that. Senator Vardon tells us that Mr. Irvine ought not to have spoken till he knew. What an admission that is ! It is an admission that Mr. Irvine did not know the policy of his own party. Who is responsible for his not knowing ?
– The caucus.
– Exactly, the caucus. It was a peculiar position indeed. Recently there was a meeting of the three Opposition leagues - the Women’s National League, the People’s party, and the People’s Liberal party. I believe it was a very harmonious caucus meeting. They sat for about three hours, and I understand that the final result was - no agreement. When the meeting was over, the president, Mr. Lewis-
– That is where we differ from the caucus of the Labour party. The honorable senator would have had to swallow what the caucus decided.
– What did Mr. Lewis swallow, then? He had to inform the press that he could not give any information, because the caucus of the three leagues had been pledged to secrecy. Vet, to-day, Senator Gould, with all his experience of politics, having heard ‘ this talk about caucus brought up over and over again, comes here and has nothing more original to say than “ Caucus ! caucus !”
– The galled jade is wincing.
– I am not aware that I am wincing; certainly not from that cause. I wish to say a word about the note issue. I understand that Senator Gould ‘ knows something about banking, and I am quite sure that Senator Millen, with his great keenness, may be given credit for knowing a good deal about it. We hear forecasts of what would happen if one or two of the banks were to produce their notes at the Federal Treasury and demand gold for them. What would be the effect of such. a thing?
– The Government would have to float bills.
– First, I dispute the possibility of such a thing occurring; secondly, the wisdom of it; and, thirdly, if the private banks attempted to do anything of the kind, the Australian Government would bring into existence a national bank which would practically wipe the private institutions out of existence.
– Have we not a national bank now?
– Yes ; but it is not fully developed yet. It is going to grow. Now, what is the security behind Australian notes? Senator Millen says that it is not gold. It is just as well to put on record what the securities against our note issue are. I do not think that there is any intelligent man or woman in this community who would think it a wise thing to allow the money paid into the Treasury for notes obtained to lie there and not be put to good use. I feel sure that Senator Walker would not approve of that. He would not regard it as sane banking. Indeed, I venture to express the opinion that 40 per cent, of gold is too much for the Treasury to hold against the note issue, and that it would be sound policy to devote a larger percentage of the gold to reproductive purposes. Now, what has happened with some of the gold that has been deposited ? Let us see. There is a gentleman at present presiding over the destinies of this State of Victoria who may be given credit for being one of the most active leaders of the Anti-Labour party. Mr. Watt has continually denounced the Australian note issue as being an unsound project. Yet, as Treasurer of Victoria, he was one of the first to be found waiting on the doorstep of the Treasury when it was announced that the States could obtain loans from the Commonwealth, and he secured ^980,000 of this note issue at 3^ per cent., maturing 10th August, 1919.
– He got the money, did he not?
– Of course, he did.
– Very well, then, what risk did’ he run?
– He is not complaining of running any risk; but honorable senators on the Opposition side are saying that the security is not good enough.
– That does not affect Mr. Watt. He has got his money.
– Does the honorable senator think for a moment that Mr. Watt would be guilty of borrowing money from the Commonwealth if the security of the note issue were, in his opinion, unsound ?
– The man to trouble about that is not Mr. Watt. He has the sovereigns. The men who hold the paper have paid the sovereigns for it.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that Mr. Watt does not trouble about the value of the security? The New South Wales Government also took the trouble to obtain a. loan from the Commonwealth Treasury, borrowing ^600,000 at 3! per cent., maturing on 15th June, 1912.
– Would the Treasurylend me some?
– I do not think so. Although, personally, I have the highest regard for the honorable senator, if I had control of the money I would not lend it to him.
– Does the honorable senator mean that the money is only for Labour supporters?
– No; I mean that the Act under which the note issue was established allows the money to be lent only on securities that can be held against the notes and which are as good as gold. The Treasury must hold either golden sovereigns or security of the greatest possible soundness. In the case of these loans the Treasury holds the security of the whole of the people of the borrowing States. For the note issue to fail it would be necessary either for one or two States to go insolvent or for the Commonwealth itself to go insolvent; and I do not think that there is any danger of that. Does the honorable senator think there is?
– A State does not go insolvent. It has to pay up by taxing its people.
– The only extreme case that can.be imagined is a rush by the banks upon the Commonwealth Treasury. But I do not think that anything of the kind is likely to happen. If it did, surely the security of the Mates would be satisfactory. If not, what would it mean? That the whole of the States would be insolvent; and as their destinies are not, as a rule, being controlled by the Labour party, any such conjecture is a poor tribute to pay to the parties which control the State Governments to-day.
– When did Mr. Watt denounce the note issue, and on what grounds ?
– I should like to put a more reasonable question to the honorable senator. When did Mr. Watt ever go on to the public platform during the last two years without denouncing it?
– The note issue? On what grounds?
– That it was unsound.
– Does the honorable senator bring that forward as proving that it is sound ?
– As the honorable members of the Opposition have opposed nearly everything that is sound, I should take it that, on that ground alone, their opposition to the bank note issue proves that it is sound. Now, the Labour Government had been in power in the Commonwealth some time prior to 29th September, 1 91 1. I desire to make a quotation from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, a newspaper that is largely responsible for sending some honorable senators opposite into this Chamber.
– Never again.
– I believe that the Daily Telegraph loves them still. Although there is a danger of an unfortunate fate overtaking them, I should be inclined to regret, on personal grounds, if it were so. The Sydney Daily Telegraph of Thursday, 2nd November, 191 1, published the following communication from its special correspondent in London, dated 29th September -
The London Stock Exchange has been of special interest during the past few months. We have had a succession of alarms and situations approaching a financial crisis. With one single exception all securities have shown a heavy loss. And that exception has been in the securities of Australia.
The one country with a Labour Government !
– What security is under the control of the Federal Labour Government ?
– -This article deals with the securities of Australia, including private and public securities. Have the capitalists who have invested in these securities shown any timidity about the paper of the Labour Government? One would have thought that if the security had been bad the value of the paper would have dropped immediately. But such has not been the case. The article goes on to say -
Apart from the Commonwealth, no country, British or foreign, has escaped the effects of the general anxiety about the position in Europe. Gilt-edged stock, which has been considered immune from anything but the outbreak of actual war of a menacing character, has been indiscriminately hammered with a multitude of less respected holdings’. In fact, Australia has done somewhat better than hold her own. In a number of instances shares have been actually improved during the recent troubled season. There was, for example,a fine rise in Broken Hill. It might have been expected that the ill-informed outcry in the press here about the Federal land tax and the widely advertised protest which the deputation to Mr. Fisher made upon the subject would have had a bad effect upon our pastoral security held in this country. We were repeatedly told that the Federal land tax would cause the withdrawal of large sums of British capital from Australia. Indeed, this seemed inevitable. As a matter of fact, however, all Commonwealth securities have stood firm, while those of the rest of the world were being sorely knocked about.
– Does the article give quotations ? .
– I have quoted verbatim from the Daily Telegraph article.
– Does it show whether Commonwealth stocks are at par, above par, or below par?
– It does_ not say, but as the article was published in a newspaper that has continually opposed the Labour party, and which many honorable senators in the Opposition take as their principal authority on most public questions, I think it will be accepted as reliable. Recently Mr. W. H. Irvine - and he ought to be a fair judge - said that it would probably be just as well for Australia if the Labour party remained in power for another three years. He stated that we were now engaged in a perfect financial carnival. I do not know why that should be so. Outside of the land tax, I am not aware that the Labour Government have imposed any new taxation. During the first year, the total amount collected as the result of the operation of that tax was £1,400,000, and, during the second year, ^,’1,300,000. And we have not yet borrowed a single penny. There are certain moneys in trust funds to-day, and it is anticipated that the year will close with a surplus of ,£1,000,000 or £1,500,000. While it may be true that loans will require to be raised for the purpose of constructing the transcontinental railway, it is not true that the Commonwealth is indebted to the private moneylender to the extent of a single penny.
– But the policy of the Labour party is to borrow only for reproductive works. Will the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie be reproductive?
– I hope so; but I confess that I do not regard that project from a commercial stand-point alone. I hope that before we are very much older Senator Vardon will be found voting with me in favour of the construction of still another line, which cannot be regarded solely from a commercial stand-point. I refer to the railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek.
– That work will pay a long way better than will the other line.
– I think it is bad tactics to condemn the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie-
– I am not condemning it. I merely say that it is the policy of the Labour party to borrow only for reproductive works
– Let us ask ourselves what is the net result of the practical trial of the Labour party ? Who has benefited ? Who has been injured by labour legislation ?
– Why, as the result of the operation of the land tax, some men have lost two-thirds of their net income.
– Of course, men will squeak, but I should like some proof of that statement.
– I can tell the honorable senator of one man whom he knows very well, who has suffered.
– During the first year of the operation of that Act about £22,000,000 worth of land was cut up, and about ,£9,000,000 worth was bought by men who were in possession of more than £5,000 worth of unimproved land values. Within one year there were 7,800 new landholders called into existence.
– How many were there the year previously ?
– I have not the figures. But I have no hesitation in saying that the year previously there was not £22,000,000 worth of land subdivided.
– In my own State the figures show a decrease, not an increase.
– We all know that the States have been attempting to deal with the land problem for a number of years. In Victoria we have had four or five amendments of the Closer Settlement Act. Yet what is the position today ? Victoria is loaded up with about £400,000 worth of land. This land has been advertised broadcast, it has been brought under the notice of local residents and immigrants, and yet the State cannot induce anybody to take it off its hands. Why? Because it paid too much for it in the first place. The Commonwealth brought about more real settlement within twelve months by reason of the operation of the land tax-
– It was the good seasons which did it, not the land tax.
– Then Providence appears to have been very kind to the Labour party. This seems strange, seeing that another political party is never tired of implying that God is upon its side. At its meeting places it has mottoes on the walls such as “ For God and country,” the implication being that we are for the devils down below. Why has Providence been so kind ?
– Does not the sun shine upon the good and evil alike ?
– It does; but if we are to attribute things to luck, the squatter has never enjoyed such prosperity before as he has enjoyed since the Labour party came into power. Neither have the bankers.
– Have not they raised their rates of interest since the Labour Government took office?
– Have not they raised their profits? Have we not produced more wool and more wheat ? Have there not been more profits for the bankers and more work for the manufacturers? There is not a single branch of industry which has not enjoyed a considerable increase in the profits which it has earned.
– Then Mr. Joshua was wrong in his statement to the Minister of Trade and Customs the other day?
– Undoubtedly, he was wrong. I still hope that this session will not close without an increased measure of Protection being granted to certain industries in Australia.
– I thought the honorable senator said that all our industries are doing well.
– I believe that the manufacturers of Australia as a whole are doing very well. Proof of that is to be found in the difficulty which is experienced in securing suitable labour. I admit that, during the past two or three months, there has been a slump in the labour market, and that’ there have been men unemployed.
– In good times, there are always some men out of work.
– The honorable senator believes it to be inevitable that, under the best circumstances, there will be a certain number of unemployed. But are we responsible, as a Labour party, for that?
– But the honorable senator’s party was going to alter those conditions.
– During the past two years, there has been less unemployment than there was previously. But was Labour legislation responsible for the threatened dry season?
– The honorable senator’s party promised to prevent all these things.
– Tome Protection is not a matter of figures. I feel sure that if Senator Millen saw a young man who was doing very well, he would not say to him, “ You are doing very well, and therefore you must not go in for more enterprise.”On the contrary, he would be the first to encourage him by saying, “ Go on, you are doing very well.” While it is true that our industries are prosperous, I say that many of them could be made more prosperous by the aid of a little more Protection. To me the test is not whether a manufacturer is doing well, but whether, by producing certain commodities here, we could not provide more employment for our people. I am prepared to fight the manufacturer for fair conditions for his employe’s. The greatest enemy to a Protective Tariff in Australia to-day is the manufacturer himself. He is not prepared to extend to his employes the new Protection.
– The fault lies, in the first place, with the Age.
– Less than a week ago, the Age published an article which stated that two-thirds of the members of this Parliament are Protectionists. It pointed out that, unless Protection was extended to the workman and consumer alike, some members were not prepared to grant to manufacturers any increased measure of Protection. I do not agree with that view, but I respect it, because I recognise that there is some reason underlying it. But it is useless to talk about protecting the consumer and worker so long as commodities are. manufactured in a foreign country. We never shall be able to pass a law which will affect the industrial conditions of any country other than Australia. For these reasons, I hope that, before the session closes, Parliament will see that the Commonwealth is given effective Protection. During the past three years, the value of our imports has increased from£51,000,000 to£66,000,000, and the value of them for the current year will probably approach £80,000,000. I say that, for a young country like Australia to import £80,000,000 worth of goods is a suicidal policy. These figures show convincingly that our Tariff wall is too low. If Australia is to develop her trade and industries, she must not import so largely and I know of nothing that will attract men and women to a country so quickly as the knowledge that there arc good times ahead of it. I hope that something will be done to stop an importation which. I consider to be excessive..
– It can easily be done.
SenatorE. J. RUSSELL. - How ?
– I am not the honorable senator’s adviser.
– I anticipated some such reply ; the honorable senator is never known to be definite. The Labour party is in this difficulty in the matter : we know how our members stand on the fiscal question, but we do not know how the Opposition members stand.
– That is their business. The honorable senator need not trouble about that. Those of the honorable senator’s party quarrel amongst themselves.
– I used to think that we quarrelled a gooddeal, and regretted it ; but my present opinion is that our caucuses, or meetings, compared with those of the Opposition, are as heaven. Honorable senators may draw their own conclusions regarding, our opponents. In conclusion, I hope that all the legislation outlined in the Speech will be placed on the statute-book during the present session, and that something definite will be done in regard to Protection. I hope, too, that at the end of the session the Government, in every Department, will have the same clean record for administration that it has now. I congratulate Ministers on the work that they have done, and trust that they will do equally good and effective work in the future.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 June 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19120619_senate_4_64/>.