5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My attention has been drawn to the words I am reported to have used in the debate on the Supply Bill on the 27th August. I wish to say that, owing to the pressure of other work,’ I had not an opportunity of making an alteration in the proof, and I assumed the words to be correct. The words I want to put right are these -
That minute was indorsed by all the other members of the Board.
I may, perhaps, be allowed to read the minute to make it quite clear wherein I erred. The minute I quoted was -
I consider that a large sum of money has been injudiciously expended At this base, and thnt this expenditure is still proceeding. I very strongly recommend that it be curtailed, and that the Director of Naval Works be instructed in writing to cut down expenditure to the limits laid down in the recent Board meeting, and communicate it to him then verbally.
Following that, I said, “ That minute was indorsed by all the other members of the Board.” I find that that statement is incorrect. The minute was written by one member, it is indorsed by the second naval member, the finance member indorsed only the last paragraph, and the first, member has not minuted the paper at all. It seemed to me that it was only fair, both to the Senate and to the officers concerned, that I should at the earliest possible moment make this explanation.
SELECT COMMITTEE: Mr. H. CHINN.
– I desire to make a statement on a question which concerns the privileges of the Senate. Soon after the appointment of the Select Committee to inquire into the Chinn case, and soon after it had commenced its sittings, the’ chairman, Senator de Largie, approached me and pointed out that, in his view, it would be necessary for the Committee to visit Kalgoorlie for the purpose of taking evidence. Following upon that information, I had a consultation with the Clerk of the Senate as to whether the necessary funds, were available, and he informed me that they were not. Then, as Chief Executive Officer of the Senate, I instructed the Clerk to writeto the Treasurer, asking that a sum of £250 might be placed at the disposal of the Department for the purposes of that and other Select Committees. In accordance with that instruction, the Clerk sent the following letter to the Secretary to the Treasurer : -
Commonwealth of Australia.
Melbourne,5th September, 1913. Sir;
I am directed by the President of the Senate to ask that a sum of£250 may be placed at . the disposal of this Department from the Treasurer’s
Advance to meet the expenses of a contemplated visit to. Kalgoorlie of the Select Committee appointed by the Senate to inquire and report upon the dismissal of Mr. Henry Chinn, Supervising) Engineer on Transcontinental Railway.
In connexion with this matter, I am requested to point out that the sum provided under Contingencies” for the Senate, even if the whole amount were’ available, would be inadequate to meet the expenses of such a visit by a Select Committee.
I would also refer you to the scale of “ Payments to Witnesses “ authorized under standing order No. 313 of the Senate, by which it will be seen that the expense of bringing any considerable number of wtinesses from Kalgoorlie to give evidence would amount to a very large sum.
The President is, therefore, of opinion, that it will be much less expensive for the Committee to proceed to Western Australia and take evidence there than for the necessary witnesses to be summoned before the Committee in Melbourne.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Clerk of the Senate.
Commonwealth Treasury, Melbourne.
This morning I received the following reply:
Commonwealth Treasury, Melbourne.
Prime Minister, 9th September, 1913.
Referring to the letter from the Clerk of the Senate, asking that a sum of£250 be placed at the disposal of the Department from the Treasurer’s Advance to meet the expenses of the contemplated visit of the Select Committee appointed by the Senate to inquire into and report upon the dismissal of Mr. H. Chinn from the position of Supervising Engineer of the Transcontinental Railway line (Kalgoorlie section), I have to say in reply that, after full consideration of the matter, the Government have decided not to grant the request, as they are unable, to perceive any reason for the expenditure of the money for the purpose stated.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
The Honorable the President,
The Senate, Parliament House, Melbourne.
I have looked into the matter carefully, and, so far as I have been able to ascertain, this action on the part of the Government is entirely without precedent. I take a very serious view of it, because, if it were allowed to pass without question, this or any future Government might at any time entirely nullify the power of the Senate to inquire into a particular matter by refusing to provide the necessary funds. I would point out, also, that several Select Committees have paid visits to other States and other places in order to collect necessary evidence, and that their expenses were rneb entirely without question by the Government of the day. A Select Committee on the Tasmanian Mail Service visited Tasmania. There was a Select Committee to inquire into the case of Major Carroll, which went to Sydney and Brisbane; and a Select Committee which was appointed to inquire into the matter of the Press Cable Service, and of which I happened to be a member, visited Sydney, and there was not, so far as I can ascertain, any question raised by the Government of the day in regard to the expenditure. According to the authorities I have looked up, in the House of Commons - the procedure of which is used largely as a guide for the Senate - there has never been any question as to payment of the necessary expenses incurred by a Select Committee to inquire into any matter. I thought it my duty to make this announcement to the Senate, because, as I have said, in my view the position is a very serious one. It will be for the Senate and the leaders of the Senate to take the necessary action, if they consider it proper, to safeguard its rights and not to have its powers abrogated or nullified at the dictation of any Government.
– I should like, in view of the statement just made, to ask the representative pf the Government in the Senate what steps he intends to take to protect the rights and privileges of the Senate 1
– I can only say that a more important thing needs protection, and that is the principle known as responsible government.
– That is an absolute insult! Keep your insults to yourself!
– On a question of privilege, sir, I desire to call your attention and that of the Senate to a statement made by the Prime Minister a few days ago, and to ask you a question in connexion therewith. The Argus of the 1st September contained a paragraph headed “Federal Situation, Prime Minister’s Comment.” After speaking in Sydney about the situation in another branch of the Legislature, the Prime Minister finished in this way -
It looks as if the issues forecasted by Sir Richard Baker and other constitutionalists in the Convention had arrived, and I have no doubt that the great public outside is looking on and taking, note of the position of affairs at this moment. It cannot in the very nature of things be a lasting one. On one side is a party with its programme waiting for an opportunity of putting it on the statute-book ; on the other side is an Opposition in one House, and nearly the whole of the Senate as was stated the other day, playing the part of braggart and bully.
I want to call the attention of the Senate to that statement. I enter my personal protest against what I consider a grave reflection on the Senate, and I think it ill becomes a man occupying the high and exalted position of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth-
– On a point of order, I ask whether in raising a question of privilege, as Senator Needham has done, it is in order to comment upon the remarks to which exception is taken in the way the honorable senator is doing ? I do not object to the honorable senator raising the question of privilege, but I think he is not in order in debating the matter.
– An honorable senator may use such language as is necessary to elucidate the question of privilege he raises. So far as I have followed Senator Needham, I do not think that he has transgressed the Standing Orders.
– I was saying that it ill becomes a man occupying the position of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to make such a grave reflection on the Senate. I resent it as a member of the Senate and as a private individual.
– When is the speech supposed to hav been made ?
– It is in an interview with the press in Sydney.
– It is not a statement made in another place.
– No; it was made outside Parliament altogether. I want to ask you, sir, whether there is any remedy or procedure which the Senate might adopt to prevent a repetition of such reflections by a man occupying such a position as that occupied by the Prime Minister.
– In reply to the question asked, I have to say that I did see the statement referred to, and, in common, I suppose, with other honorable senators, read it, and observed the language in which it was couched; but I deprecate any reference to it or any notice of it here as calculated to magnify it unduly. I do not think that the Senate should take any action, or attach any importance to a statement which evidently was due merely to an ebullition of petulance. It would ill become the Senate to magnify such a statement or attach any importance to it.
– It might be well summed up by the question,” What can you expect from a pig but a grunt?”
– Order !
– As a matter of privilege I should like to point out the way in which members of the Government are out-Heroding Herod in their attacks upon members of this Chamber. The AttorneyGeneral has made a direct attack upon the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the cause of Mr. Chinn ‘s dismissal, and has stated that its finding will doubtless be treated by his colleague, the Prime Minister, with silent contempt. He has also condemned that body as a partisan body; he has implied that the person whom its inquiry chiefly concerns and the Committee are acting in collusion, and he has been guilty of a deliberate perversion of the truth in stating that the Committee was composed of partisans, because it is well known that honorable senators upon the other side of the Chamber were asked to contribute their quota to its constitution and, with the exception of Senator Bakhap, they declined to do so.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence the following questions without notice -
– The honorable senator will not expect me to answer his questions categorically, but as to the main question, I may state that it has been decided to retain national regiments within certain limits, and the details of the organization necessary to give effect to that decision are now being worked out.
– As I do not regard that as an answer to my questions, I give notice of them for to-morrow.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What decision has been arrived at in regard to the claims of the Scottish and similar national regiments that they be allowed to wear their present distinctive styles of uniform?
– The answer is -
It has been decided to retain National Regiments with certain limits, and details for carrying out the proposal are now under consideration.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether arrangements have been made or recently altered, fixing the first port of call for the Australian warship Australia ?
– No alteration has been made in the arrangements.
– What is the arrangement?
– The first port of call for coaling purposes will be Albany, and the first port of call officially will be Sydney.
Expenditure : Graving Dock
– Reverting to the matter with which the Minister of Defence dealt by way of personal explanation this afternoon, I desire to ask whether he will call upon the third Naval Member of the Board for a report, indicating in what particulars the expenditure on the Cockburn Sound Naval Base was injudicious and extravagant, as stated in his minute.
– My honorable friend will perhaps understand the reason for my answer when I say that I would like him to repeat his question in a day or two.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Senate any report by Admiral Henderson, in which that officer recommended the laying down of a graving dock at Cockburn Sound, as stated by the Honorable Minister in his speech in the Senate, on 27th August, on the Supply Bill?
– What I referred to was that portion of Admiral Henderson’s printed report, on page 56, which reads as follows: - “ Fremantle,
Payment of Registrars
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he has inquired into the reasons why the Registrars under the Maternity Allowance Act in South Australia have not been paid?
– I have made inquiries into this matter, and I am informed - first, that the Department is not aware that any delay has occurred in paying these officers; and, second, that if there has been delay,the fees can be obtained by applying to the Commissioner. In the meantime, inquiries are being made in Adelaide.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether he can supply me with any further information regarding the intentions of the Government concerning the selection of a site for the new General Post Office, Perth?
– Since the Senate last met, I have inquired into this matter, and I find that, up to the present, nothing further has been done. I give the honorable senator my assurance that I will acquaint him of any proposed alteration in the site as soon as possible.
– In view of the series of threats which has been levelled at the Senate by the Minister of Defence, and Senators Oakes and Gould, will the Government take into consideration the advisableness of bringing forward legislation for the abolition of this Chamber?
– Who is going to reply ?
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - A question like that does not need a reply. It is an insult.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether he can supply me with the promised information in reference to the alleged reduction of wages in the case of line repairers in Queensland ?
– The reply to the honorable senator’s question came to hand to-day. It is as follows: -
Melbourne, 9th September, 1913.
With reference to the extract from Hansard of the 28th ultimo, which you forwarded to this office on the 2nd instant, respecting an inquiry made in Parliament by Senator Maughan (Queensland) in regard to a statement that the wages of certain line repairers in Queensland had been reduced from gs. per day to 8s. 6d. per day, I am to inform you that in August, 1912, approval was given by the PostmasterGeneral for a minimum wage of 9s. per day to be paid to the men employed in undergrounding telephone wires in Brisbane, but owing to a misunderstanding on the part of officers of the Accounts Branch in Brisbane, the increase was erroneously applied to temporary linemen in Brisbane, who were entitled to a minimum wage of 8s. per day.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Defence - Department of -
Extracts from the Annual Report of MajorGeneral G. M. Kirkpatrick, C.B., InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces of the Commonwealth; dated 30th May, 1913.
Cordite Factory : Report for period ended 30th June, 1912.
Clothing Factory : Report for period ended 30th June, 1912.
Harness, Saddlery, and Leather Accoutrements Factory : Report for period ended 30th June, 1912.
Small Arms Factory : Report by EngineerCaptain W. Clarkson, C.M.G., R.A.N., upon relinquishing his appointment of Acting Manager on 10th August, 1912. Lands Acquisition Act1906 -
Lease of Land in Federal Territory. Approval granted - F. A. Campbell, Woden Station, Queanbeyan.
Land acquired under, at -
Abbotsford, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Port Augusta, South Australia - For Railway purposes.
Victoria Park, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Manufactures Encouragement Act1908. - Return of Bounty paid during financial year ended 30th June, 1913.
Northern Territory. - Ordinance of 1913. No. 7 - Crown Lands.
Papua. - Ordinances of 1913 -
No. 4. - Supplementary Appropriation (No. 3) 1912-13.
No. 5.- Supply 1913-14.
Public Service Act 1902-1911. - Promotions -
Department of Home Affairs -
Shale Oil Bounties Act1910. - Return of particulars of Bounty paid during financial year ended 30th June,1913.
Whether, on 22nd July, the Honorable the Attorney-General received a telegram to the following effect : - “ As Senate candidates we are equally interested with Representatives, and claim representation on electoral inquiry. (Sgd.) O’Loghlin, Newland, Senior.”
Why was the claim ignored and the usual courtesy of a reply not vouchsafed?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
Is it a fact that the Government has entered into an arrangement with the steam-ship monopoly for another Loongana to be placed on theLauncestonMelbourne mail service, and is the shipping combine sending a special agent to England to order the vessel?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
Negotiations for the improvement of the Tasmanian mail service have been passing between the shipping companies and the Postal Department, and instructions have been given for an agreement to be drafted for submission to the companies, but it cannot be said when it will be completed.
– Arising out of that reply, I desire to ask the Minister of Defence if the Senate will be afforded an opportunity of seeing that contract before it is finally ratified?
– As the negotiations are clearly not passing through my hands, if the honorable senator desires an answer to his question I ask him to give notice of it for to-morrow.
– Arising out of the reply which has been given, I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether the statement which appeared in one of the daily newspapers of Melbourne withinthe last day or two to the effect that negotiations had almost been completed between the Government and the Union Steam-ship Company for the carriage of mails to Tasmania, and that it had been definitely arranged that another Loongana was to be built, is true ?
– I am unable to say what paragraph the honorable senator is referring to. I have not seen it, but if he wishes to bring it under my notice, I suggest that he should refer it to me.
– Does the Minister think that that is an answer to my question? Surely he can say whether it is correct or incorrect that the Government have started or completed negotiations with this company, and whether the company have entered into negotiations for the building of another Loongana.
– I think that the Senate will recognise that I am in a sound position when I say that during the progress of negotiations it is not reasonable to expect that details shall be made public.
What steps have been taken, if any, for extending telephone connexion across the border from Frances, in South Australia, to Minimay, in Victoria?
– The answer is -
The Departmenthas been in communication with the persons interested in this line, and has informed them of the terms under which it can be erected. The Postmaster-General is, however, looking into the matter to see if more satisfactory arrangements cannot be made.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Have the Government received any communication regarding the Navigation Bill1912, which was reserved for His Majesty’s assent? If so, what is the nature of same?
– Yes; the Bill has been assented to.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– It is not at present the intention of the Government to propose altering the Papua Act for the purpose of substituting the elective system for that of nomination in regard to the selection of the non-official members of the Legislative Council.
Appointment of Medical Officer
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
I should like to add to that answer that the figures given applied to the time when the honorable senator submitted this question; but since then a further reduction has taken place, and on the 8th September the roll was as follows : - Staff, 4 ; number of men, 35.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon, notice -
– The answers are -
Re-employment of Men.
asked the Minister of Defence -
If all the employes at Fitzroy Dock who were thrown out of work through the stoppage of the power plant have been re-employed?
– I am advised by the acting manager that all such men have been re-employed.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
An exactly similar procedure exists in the British Regular Army. The fact of a soldier holding full non-commissioned rank is considered to be sufficient warrant that he is of good conduct, and the rates of pay of full non-commissioned officers have been determined on the understanding that such non-commissioned officers do not receive good conduct pay.
Conditions of Employment
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is he aware that the conditions of employment of the men working at Garden Island have been altered, although a definite promise was given that existing conditions would not be interfered with ; if so, will the Minister make inquiries into the matter?
– I ask the honorable senator to repeat his question later in the week. Information is being sought from the acting manager, but is not yet to hand.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Medical Attendance : Education
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– Arising out of the Minister’s answer, I should like to ask whether the plans and specifications - which I happen to know were prepared by the New South Wales Government - have been definitely abandoned, or whether it is only temporary accommodation that is being provided ?
– I am not able to answer the honorable senator’s question, but if he will give notice, I shall obtain a reply for him.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Has the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth submitted any memorandum on the electoral rolls in reference to the alleged over- loading of the rolls; and, if so, will he lay a copy of the memorandum on the table of the Senate?
– Yes, I have pleasure in laying the document upon the table.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Did the Federal Government of 1903 issue a Commonwealth stamp not bearing the imprint of the King’s head?
– The answer is -
Ninepenny stamps not bearing an imprint of the King’s head were issued in 1903 for New South Wales and Queensland.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– No, there is no regulation, but the question of the interpretation of the minute of the late Minister has been raised, and the whole subject is now receiving consideration.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to alter paragraph I. of section fiftyone of the Constitution.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to alter paragraph XX. of section fiftyone of the Constitution.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution bv empowering the Parliament to make laws with respect to trusts, combinations, and monopolies.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to alter paragraph XXXV. of section fifty-one of the Constitution.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution bv empowering the Parliament to make laws with respect to industrial disputes in relation to employment in State railway services.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution by empowering the Parliament to make laws with respect to industries and businesses declared to be the subject of a monopoly.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 9th July (vide page 13), on motion by Senator Bakhap -
That the following Address-in-Reply 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.
– It may be imagined by some persons, both inside and outside of Parliament, that it is such a long time sinco the Senate has had an opportunity of doing any business that the AddressinReply to the opening Speech of the GovernorGeneral might almost be forgotten.. The Speech, or rather the words that were put in His Excellency’s mouth by his advisers, were of such a character that I am quite sure very few persons would consider them worth remembering. Yet out of loyalty to His Majesty’s representative in Australia it is the duty of members of this branch of the Parliament to give to an Address-in-Reply every consideration it deserves. It was not His Excellency’s fault that his advisers were not prepared to come forward with a policy when Parliament met. Since then, the members of the Senate and of another place have been furnished with a statement. If any one glanced over and considered the. statement for a few minutes, he could see no difficulty about it being placed before His Excellency for the purpose of delivery to the Senate on opening day. But there have been so many policies brought forward in the last six months in Australia that the people are really puzzled to know what there is to legislate about. There was the policy of the ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher. It was a clear and definite policy, and one which would be of benefit to the whole people of Australia. But as regards the present Government, we must begin with the first enunciation of a policy. The first plank with the Leader of the present Government was to displace’ the late Government, and the second plank was to get into their position; aud to stop there as long as they possibly could, I dare say, would have been the third plank if there was a third one in the policy. The next policy of which I have had any intimation was that which was delivered in a place called Parramatta. That policy was “ a White Australia, freedom, and Federation.” At the opening of Parliament the Governor-General came before the representatives of the people and made a few statements that were put into his mouth by his advisers, but there was really nothing in them. Ultimately we got a statement which is really a substitution for a policy. We will see as we go along how it compares with the policy of a Government that had something to’ place before the public, and was prepared to do so at the opening of Parliament, but was not permitted.
– No, they shirked it.
– No. I shall come to that by-and-by. My honorable friend need not be in such a hurry, because the Opposition is providing plenty of work for the Senate, whether the Government does or not. The first Cook policy has taken effect. The Fisher Ministry has gone out, and the Cook Ministry has come in. It was just like a game of whist. The present ‘
Government won the odd trick, but the: honours have all remained with the Opposition, where they were previously.
– I think the Government got both thehonours and the tricks.
– They got the honorariums.
– There may oesomething in that. I come now to the second policy delivered at Parramatta in-, favour of a White Australia. I should like to ask the representatives of the Government in the Senate, what put it intotheir heads that the White Australia policy was in any danger? 1 am sure there wasno necessity for alarm so far as the Opposition are concerned, because they will advocate and support a White Australia tothe last ditch. Who is it that is likely to interfere with the policy of a WhiteAustralia so far as this Parliament is concerned ? Is Senator Gould going to interfere with it?
d- - I am going to advocate it against the attacks of honorable senators opposite.
– Then the honorable senator has lately come to the stool of repentance, because he has never previously been very strenuous in his support of the policy. I should like to ask whether a strenuous support has been given to the policy by the present Treasurer, Sir John Forrest. Only on the- 11th or 12th July last, speaking at a dinner given by the Commercial Travellers’ Club, or some such function, he told the people of Australia that every production of the Northern Territory has to compete with the cheap coloured labour of other parts of the world, and endeavoured by innuendo and insinuation to show the impossibility of ever developing that Territory by white people. Why are these things said ? Why are we being continuously reminded by these sturdy champions of a White Australia, who are new-born advocates of anything of that kind, that the Northern Territory is in such a position geographically that great difficulty will be found in developing it by white people? Is it in the interests of the Territory, or in the interestsof the Commonwealth that these statements should be continuously dinned into the ears of people at such functions ? Is it the Honorable Bruce Smith, a supporter of the Government in another place, who’ is going to defend the White Australia policy against his dear coloured brethren in other parts of the Empire ? Are these the men who are to be the ardent advocates of the White Australia policy in the future? I should like the people to think of these things, and then ask themselves what was the necessity for Mr. Joseph Cook to make a White Australia the first plank in his platform.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Was it not a member of the Ministry in the New South Wales Parliament who introduced one of the earliest Bills to give effect to the White Australia policy?
– The honorable gentleman referred to was once a member of the Labour party in the State Parliament ofNew South Wales, and probably that is where he first got his White Australia principles. But as he has deserted nearly all his original principles, is it not reasonable that we should express a doubt as to whether he may not do the same thing in connexion with the White Australia policy? I shall not say any more about that matter. The people know who are the honest, earnest, and effective advocates of a White Australia, and they will have every reason to suspect those on the Government side who are making it the first plank in their platform to-day. They will require a great deal of whitening, and all the whitewash in Australia will not cleanse some of them, as the spots will show through. The next plank on the Parramatta platform was “ glorious freedom,” a term which nearly all tyrants in the past have used.
– Honorable senators opposite would not give the people freedom; they tried to load them with chains.
– We shall see about that by-and-by. I am not going to deal at any great length with the question of freedom as enunciated by Mr. Cook at Parramatta. I notice an item in the manifesto, or programme, of the Government which will give me an opportunity to more fully refer to that question. The next item on the Parramatta programme was “Federation.” We had that thirteen or fourteen years ago. It was settled in 1901, when the Commonwealth Parliament was first elected. Federation was then accomplished, and it must have been a dearth of items and a lack of planks to build up any kind of platform that induced Mr. Cook, at Parramatta, to refer to Federation at all. I should like to ask honorable senators opposite: Who had any idea of interfering with Federation in Australia? The thing is accomplished, and has been working fairly well. I hope that in the near future, when it is much improved, it will work a great deal better.
– The party opposite wanted to break the machine.
– No, we wanted to oil the machine, to regulate and perfect it, so that it might easily, comfortably, and more perfectly carry out the function of governing such a people as the Australian people.
– Honorable senators opposite are not the right sort of engineers.
– We shall see what skill Senator Bakhap has in this direction when he has the opportunity to exhibit it. Before I come to the policy, manifesto, or statement that is before us in conjunction with the AddressinReply, I wish to say a few words with respect to the position as it has been in the past, and is at the present time. There has been scarcely a function attended by members or representatives of the present Government in New South Wales, or any of the other States, for the last two or three months at which they have not referred to the extraordinary political position Australia is in at present. According to the Government and their press supporters, nothing like it has ever happened in Australia before, and nothing that they can imagine - short of a double dissolution - can afford any remedy. They are beginning to change their tune now, and to become more moderate in their language. We have been told that we are at present confronted by an extraordinary, unique, and unparalleled position, which never previously existed in Australia, with a majority supporting the Government in the House of Representatives, and that majority the Speaker - the man in the Chair - and a majority of twenty-two in Opposition in this branch of the Legislature. It is constantly said that nothing like that ever previously existed in Australia, and, consequently, we must have a double dissolution.
– And the majority of one is a machine man, who has to do what his party directs.
– Never mind that. He is a good servant who does what he is told. I say that there is nothing peculiar, strange, or extraordinary in the present position of parties in the Federal Parliament. The same condition of things exists in almost every State at the present time, and has existed in Australia to a greater or less degree ever since there has been responsible government in any of the States. Yet in the past representatives of the party opposite have never said anything about a double dissolution. I can remember when I first became a representative of a small proportion of the people in South Australia. I was a member of the Legislative Council. The late Charles Cameron Kingston was Leader of the Government at the time, and he had a majority of one in the House of Assembly. He had only seven or eight supporters in a Legislative Council numbering twenty-four.
– He had only six supporters.
– No, there were more supporting Mr. Kingston in the Legislative Council than the six Labour men who were there. The numbers were much the same as they are in the Federal Parliament to-day. Bill after Bill was sent by the House of Assembly to the Legislative Council, and ignominiously kicked out by them if it did not suit them. But there was no word then in the Tory, Liberal, or any other press, or on the tongues of any of our Conservative friends who support the present Government to-day about a double dissolution for the Parliament of South Australia. If we go to Tasmania we shall find that the same position has always existed there, even with a Liberal Government in power. If we consider New South Wales at the present time, and for the last fifty years, we shall find that practically the same condition of things existed there - a nominal majority for the Government inthe House of Assembly and an extraordinary majority in Opposition in the Legislative Council. Coming to Victoria we find the same condition of affairs existing, even with a quasi-Liberal-Conservative nondescript Government, such as there is in this State at the present time. Yet if they passed any Bill containing even a semblance of Liberalism, when it reached the Legislative Council it was either ignominiously rejected or amended out of all recognition. I do not need to point out the differences which have existed in all these Parliaments in respect to the passing of Liberal measures. But every one of these Parliaments occupied an exactly similar position to that which is at present occupied by this Parliament, save that it was in an opposite direction. In the House of Representatives to-day the Conservatives are in a majority of one, while the Radicals, the Laborites, the Socialists, or whatever our traducing friends of the press or Opposition choose to call us, have a huge majority in the Senate. I do not see that there is any very great possibility of that condition of affairs being altered for a long time to come. But because the ex-Prime Minister, the Leader of the Labour Party, dared to submit a no-confidence motion in another place, he and his party have been characterized by my honorable friends opposite as time-wasters and obstructionists. I ask them whether Mr. Fisher’s action was an extraordinary one? It is not so long ago that the business of the country in the House of Representatives was hung up time after time by the same gentleman who is so loud in his complaints to-day. In New South Wales no fewer than thirteen no-confidence motions have been submitted during the present Government’s term of office by the so-called Liberal party. I merely mention these matters to show how inconsistent are my honorable friends opposite - as they have always been. They may imagine because they gained a slight advantage at the last election-
– Because the Labour party lost a big advantage.
– Let us review the position, and see the terrible disaster that has overtaken the Labour party. The Minister of Defence will recollect–
– When he was in the Labour party.
– No, I am talking of things of the present time, not of the days of “ auld lang syne,” when Senator Millen was clothed and in his right mind. I am speaking of the Commonwealth Parliament itself, and I say thatthe progress of the Labour party since the consummation of Federation has been uninterrupted. I maintain that that progress has not yet ceased. In the aggregate, since the elections in 1901, the Labour party have not sustained what might be called an absolute reverse. They havealways come back stronger.
– Did the party come back stronger last time? Why did the late Government resign if they came back stronger ?
– That is our business. We know our business just as well as do the Government. We are not the limpets that they have been. We know when it is our duty .to give the people an opportunity of seeing what their reputed friends are disposed to do for them. The Minister of Defence will recollect that in 1901 the Labour party had sixteen members in the House of Representatives, and eight in this Senate - a total of twenty-four. That was a great disappointment to some of the advocates of Federation who had previously declared that with the large constituencies for the House of Representatives, and whole States voting as one electorate for the Senate, it would be impossible for men of the “ hob-nailed brigade “ to enter this Parliament.
– Then why did the leaders of that party oppose the acceptance of the Commonwealth Constitution Bill?
- Senator Millen knows that in the first Parliament we had twenty-four representatives distributed between the two Houses. In 1903, a general election took place, and the representation of the Labour party in this Chamber was thereby increased to fourteen, whilst the number of Labourites returned to the House of Representatives wa3 increased to twenty-five, making thirty-nine in the Parliament - an increase of 62^ per cent. At the general election which was held in 1906, the number of Labour senators was increased to sixteen. The death of one of these caused an election in one of the States, and on an appeal to the High Court this number was reduced to fifteen. But the original strength of the Labour party in the Senate, as the result of the 1906 elections, was sixteen, and its representation in another place was twenty-seven - an increase in the aggregate of over 10 per cent.
– The honorable senator is dealing with this matter from an accountant’s stand-point.
– I am stating facts that will bear analysis. They must be analyzed quietly, and not by one who is subject to spontaneous splutters that resemble the discharge of a bunch of crackers. In 1910, another general election took place, and those who desired Federation for the purpose of abolishing the Labour party were still further disappointed. As a result of that contest, the number of Labour members in the House of Representatives was increased to forty-two, and in the Senate to twentythree - a gain of a little more than 51 per cent. As the Labour party grew stronger and stronger, the prosperity of the country was abnormal. Nobody can deny that.
– The other side said that it was due to Providence.
– But Providence always fights on the side of the big battalions. Then the 1913 elections came along, and although they resulted in a decrease of five in the Labour ranks in the House of Representatives, there was an abnormal increase in the strength of that party in the Senate. In the two branches of the Legislature, we have an aggregate of sixty-six members - an addition of one as compared with our strength after the 1910 elections, or an increase of 1£ per cent. I am not going to prophesy concerning the result of the next appeal to the people. They know from experience that they enjoyed prosperity under the regime of the Labour party, and they are beginning to experience adversity under the administration of those who are in office now.
– The cost of living has gone up, and there are numerous unemployed.
– God help the unemployed under this Government! Already the cry of those who have been discharged by the Commonwealth is reaching the ears of those who have a just right to listen to it. If the Government continue along the lines that they have pursued during the past few months, when they next appeal to the electors they will experience a bigger surprise than ever. I have given the history ofthe increase in the strength of the Labour party in this Parliament. The present occupants of the Treasury bench call themselves Liberals. As the Judge would say, “ May the Lord have mercy on their souls “ for making such a statement. I would ask Senator Gould when he earned the title of Liberal ? Was it when he got a knighthood ? I do not think so. I would even ask Senator Millen himself, “ Does he deserve the title of Liberal at the present time?” I recollect when there was a Government in power in the Commonwealth, and when there were three men representing it in this Chamber, namely, Sir Robert Best, Mr. Trenwith, and Senator Keating. These were the socalled Liberals, and they claimed the support of the Labour party because they introduced Liberal measures. The Labour party supported them till it could support them no longer. Senator Gould could not call himself a Liberal then, neither could anybody else who occupied a seat upon this side of the chamber. They were all Conservatives, and were acknowledged as Conservatives. While this travesty was being enacted here, those who had the smallest title to call themselves Liberals in another place were being reduced in numbers, election after election, till at last there were only nine or ten of them left. They only held office because there was a strong contingent of Labour men who were prepared to support Liberal legislation. The great mass of the supporters of the Government in the other place were Conservatives. The supporters of the Government to-day are Conservatives. They are men who were formerly called Conservatives by the Age, and were acknowledged as such by the Argus.
– Where was the honorable senator sitting then?
– I was supporting the Liberals.
– Where are the Liberals to-day?
– I do not know where they are. The time came when a Dreadnought agitation was aroused all over Australia, and the Liberals took alarm. A weak-kneed section of them rushed over into the arms of the Conservatives, who showed their wisdom by dropping their own name and calling themselves Liberals. As soon as the people got an opportunity they would have no more of this party; and the only Liberals left in the last Parliament were the late Sir William Lyne and Mr. Wise. One was unseated, and the other died. Now they are all gone. Senator Millen has gone a greater length than any other man among those who, in the past, called themselves Liberals. At one time he enjoyed the confidence of the Labour people in the part of the country where he lived to such an extent that they chose him as their representative to a Labour Conference. But like his leader in another place he not only deserted his Labour principles, but his Liberal principles also. Now he is as true a Conservative as any of them. These things are known to the great majority of the people of Australia. When were honorable senators who have been returned to assist this Government Liberals? ‘I am inclined to call them wolves in sheeps’ clothing, or asses in lions’ skins, or jackals in goats’ clothing. At any rate they are not “ the real Mackay.” At the last election they did not tell the people the truth about themselves. How, therefore, can they be expected to tell the people the truth about the Labour party? The truth was not in them. It is difficult for me to make these observations concerning men whom I have known so long. As far as the men themselves are concerned I have not a word to urge against them . It is not from spite or spleen that I say these things. Probably the men themselves cannot help what they have done. It is the policy which they advocate that? I am against, and as long as they advocate that policy they will have my opposition. T may respect them personally; I have no ill-feeling against any man; but when it comes to questions of politics, which is like religion with me, I may be even considered fanatical. I now come to this precious statement which has been placed before the country as the policy of the new Government.
– It is a programme, not a policy.
– It is not even a decent programme.
– It is an apology.
– It is an apology for nothing. The first item in this memorable statement is in connexion with the electoral laws of the Commonwealth. The new Government started out to do big things. They were determined to confer great benefits upon the people of Australia. They had actually altered the postage stamp. That is one of the greatest things they have been able to do. It is really a wonder that they have not altered the name of the Federal Capital. Doubtless they would like to alter every piece of legislation brought into existence by the late Government. What are they going to do in respect to the electoral law ? They say in their statement that the rolls have been inflated. Are they not tired of that statement? Has not the error been exploded long ago? Has not the bottom been knocked out of the allegations of the Ministerial party ? They said that there were more names on the rolls than could be accounted for by the census. . Senator McColl, Senator Millen, and other members of the Ministerial party declared that there were thousands of irregularities in connexion with the last election. They entered upon a special investigation, with the result that the thousands disappeared, and the irregularities have become so insignificant that they are not worth talking about. In fact, Government supporters have stopped talking about them now. One oan go to any of their bun struggles without hearing a word about electoral irregularities. They are not going to prosecute anybody for anything. I know how mistakes are made, not by the electors always, but by electoral officials.
– Bad provision was made for the election.
– No matter whether the provision were good or bad, the irregularities were so few that no one ever hears about them now. It was said that impersonation and plural voting had been rampant. I will give an instance within my own knowledge, and it is typical of thousands of instances of the same description. In South Australia, there is a family called Calderwood. At White’s River, where they reside, there were a number of Calderwoods. An uncle and a nephew were both named John Calderwood. In the month of April, Uncle John Calderwood sold out, and came to live at Norwood, near Adelaide. On the 31st May, he voted under the absent voter’s provision for the Division of Grey, where he had formerly lived, because he had not had time to transfer. Nephew John Calderwood also voted for the Division of Grey. When the rolls came to be scrutinized, it was found that only one John Calderwood had been marked off. The second John Calderwood had not been marked off at all. A mistake had been made by the poll clerk. But both John Calderwoods voted quite honestly and fairly. Where I reside, in Albert Park, Melbourne, I know of three parties of the same name living in the same street. The three voted, and only two of the names were marked off. Apparently one impersonated the other, but, as a matter of fact, nothing of the kind occurred. An error was made by the poll clerk in marking off the same number far two different persons. These errors can be easily remedied, and will be remedied. There was no corruption on the part of the electors. The very fact that the supporters of the Government are saying no more about electoral irregularities is a sign that they have come to the conclusion that they made a great mistake in the original outcry. The reprehensible part” of the whole thing is that they have not the manliness to apologize. They have not the manhood to admit that they made a mistake, and that the electors of Australia were far better than the Liberals imagined. What are they going to do about the Electoral Act? They are going to institute enormous reforms. For one thing, they are going to restore the postal vote.
– When ?
– I do not know; in “the sweet by-and-by.” I never was a supporter of the postal vote. I believe that every elector should go to the polling booth,, and mark his own ballotpaper. But if the members of the Government can show me that the sacredness of the ballot and purity of election can be protected, even with postal voting, 1 will withdraw my opposition. Till then, however, I shall continue to oppose postal voting. The Government pose as the advocates of freedom. Freedom assumes many phases. There is one phase of it that appeals particularly to the present Government. They are going to liberalize the electoral law with respect to the press. They are going to allow the press to publish anything anyhow, and no one is to know who is slandering or misrepresenting the person they attack. The late Government were disgusted at all times with the methods adopted by the press for the purpose of decrying the party and honorable individuals, without the party or the individuals having any idea of the identity of their slanderers or traducers. They came to the conclusion that during anelection campaign the only way in which they could effect any remedy was by compelling the writers of scurrilous articles to put their names at the bottom, and then people would know the value to place on statements such as very often appeared in the press of this country. I believe in freedom as much as anybody else does, but I do not believe in freedom for the burglar or the pickpocket. I do not believe in freedom for the slanderer. I do not believe in freedom for insinuation and innuendo to a party or to individuals.
– Do you believe in freedom for the working man ?
– I shall come to the working man quite soon enough for honorable senators if they will only restrain their youthful impetuosity. I dare say I know as much about the working man as do Senator Bakhap and the other senators on that side.
– Your experience is not as varied as mine.
– Probably I “know just as much as does my honorable friend. I am prepared at all times to compel those who write articles or statements of that description to put their names at the foot, so that we may know our friends and our enemies. I have no fear of honest criticism at any time, nor has the Labour party. What we do disapprove of are slanderers and misrepresentation by writers for a press that is ashamed to put their proper names at the end of the articles. So far as any freedom of that kind is concerned, the members of the present Government are not likely to get my support, or that of any one on this side.
– Would you make that provision apply all the year round ?
– Yes; if I had my way, the press, whenever they made references to people or parties, would be compelled to disclose their hand. I have seen articles published here, and I know the men who wrote them. I do not know whether they did conscientious work or not. Hungry Hurst and Mendacious Maling, in the Argus, did all they possibly could to misrepresent the Labour party and its representatives all over Victoria. The same thing might be said of its illustrious contemporary, the Age, which very seldom knows where it is.
– It has been very wobbly for some time.
– For a year or two it has not recognised the straight path. The Government propose to impose some restriction in connexion with absent voting, and to endeavour to have one roll for the Commonwealth and the States. The latter is a thing which we all advocate, and we do not need to go to a manifesto for a suggestion of that kind. The next item on the manifesto refers to another phase of freedom from the point of view of our friends on the opposite benches. They intend to see that in the Public Service of the Commonwealth no preference shall be given to any one, that everything shall be fair and above board. They intend to restore the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act to what it was some years ago, when Senator Clemons was instrumental in putting in an amendment that barred preference being granted to any union if a portion of its funds was devoted to political purposes. The Government also propose to exempt the agricultural or rural workers from the operation of that Act. That is the kind of freedom which has been advocated since Cain killed Abel. The same Conservative section of the community, ever since the beginning of the world, have been preaching privilege for themselves, and calling it freedom for somebody else. When they had the brass rings round the necks of the serfs they were acting in the interests of the serfs, and not in their own interests. When those poor individuals were sharing the acorns with the swine they were herding, the Conservatives were acting in their interests, and every attempt by a philanthropic man in those days, or at any other time, to better the conditions of those who had to do the work of. the world, was opposed as strenuously as it is now, if not even more so. We know from history that there was a time when to be a member of a trade union was a crime. We know, too, from history that there was a time when, if a man was a member of a trade union, or was paid to do a certain action, prison and transportation would be his lot, and any attempt to alter those conditions was opposed by the same section of the community as is represented by honorable senators on the other side. I can speak from personal experience. Some hon1orable senators, very probably, may imagine that they know something about the conditions of the working classes. I am just on sixty-five years of age; for forty-four years I have been a trade unionist, and forty-four years ago the same condition of things existed, so far as unionism is concerned, as existed for fifty years previously. There was a class of unionist that would be tolerated - the original trade unionist, who was a member of his union, and went to the hotel on meeting night, had his pint of beer and a long pipe, and discussed trade matters. He was a good trade unionist, because he never did anything. But between forty and fifty years ago trade unionism began to become active, and as soon as it did it was reprehensible to the minds of those who are represented on the opposite side; it was injurious to trade. I can remember when I, as a man, getting a man’s wages, worked for 5s. a week in the winter and 4s. in the summer, and got no tucker or lodging. I had to support myself. That was liberty; that was freedom. That is the kind of freedom that honorable senators on the other side desire to see established.
– Freedom of contract.
– Exactly. Freedom to live on seaweed, on Indian meal, on potatoes, on anything one liked, from the beginning of the year to the end. That was the time that we were taught in the Sunday schools to order ourselves lowly and reverently before our betters, to submit ourselves to our spiritual pastors and masters, and to be satisfied with that state of life into which it had pleased God to call us. Those were the days when the worker was treated very little better than a pig. Those were the days when men would put up with anything, because they were ignorant, they bad very little education, and they never travelled very far in the world. But in the middle of the last century the people began to be enlightened. The State schools came into existence; the parish schools flourished ; the schoolmaster was abroad. The people began to learn to think, and to reason that it was not the will of the Creator that one section of the community should live in luxury for which they had not laboured, while another section were bordering on starvation from the cradle to the grave, their only hope in childhood, youth, manhood, or age being the poorhouse when they were not able to work for themselves. Those were the happy days for the people who are represented by our honorable friends on the other side. I am speaking feelingly of these things, because I have had a large experience of them, and I have in my mind the experience of hundreds of persons who have fared far worse than ever I did in those “glorious” days when the freedom which honorable senators opposite want now was rampant. Time went on, and the num ber of unionists increased. The more they were persecuted, the more they increased. When they began to be enlightened they became militant, and, to my knowledge, strikes occurred in the Old Country in comparison with which anything that has happened within the last twelve or fourteen years has been insignificant. Every step that the working classes have made they had to make, as it were, at the point of the bayonet. They never got a concession without a fight, without starvation, without hardship both to themselves and to their families. They fought the battle, and many of them had to suffer, and their children also. Then they began to see that unionism had done some good; that it had increased the wages of the workers, bettered their conditions, and shortened their hours. If I were to relate some of my personal experiences as to the conditions under which the working classes had to labour, it would disgust most of the senators who are here to-day. Yet to secure the benefits they have obtained they have been called upon to make great sacrifices. We come on in the history of the trade union movement to the early nineties. We remember the dockers’ strike in Great Britain, when the whole world was stirred with sympathy for a body of men who were on the verge of starvation even when they were working, and who thought it better to die in idleness than to die under hard labour. They went out for better conditions, and with the support of workers all over the world and other sympathizers as well they secured some improvement of their condition. Yet these men to-day only earn enough to keep body and soul together. Coming to Australia, Senator Guthrie will well remember the maritime strike that occurred here. It was considered one of the greatest disasters that had ever overtaken Australia. Then the Broken Hill strike followed, and those who had been opposing unionists all the time began to weigh the position in their minds, and men not of the working class, knowing the alarming conditions that existed, said one to another, “ These conditions cannot last much longer or the country will be ruined. Let us give advice to the workers.” They did give them advice, and in every State in the Commonwealth the same advice was given. The workers were told, “ Why do you ruin yourselves and your employers with these disastrous strikes? You have manhood suffrage so far as the Lower Houses of the Legislatures are concerned, and why do you not go to the ballot-box and send into Parliament men who will make laws that will prevent disasters of this kind.” I know that this was so, and so does every other man in the Labour movement since the early nineties. Senator Millen knows it well. The working class took the advice, and they began to organize, not only as industrial, but as political unions. They gradually became stronger and stronger, and from having an insignificant one or two in each Parliament, the number of their representatives increased until they had a majority in some of the State Parliaments, and strong contingents in the others. Then the very people who advised them to commence political as well as industrial organization became alarmed again, and they now say to the workers, “ If you are politically organized you have no right to preference.” I say that the movement has grown from small things to great things, and has grown legally under the Constitution of the country. I say that political unions have as much right to preference and protection as have industrial unions. The second section of the Government manifesto refers to the Commonwealth Service. Every member of the Senate, and every member of this Parliament, is aware that so far as the Public Service of the Commonwealth proper is concerned, no one can get into it except by examination directed by the Public Service Commissioner. The only preference there is ability and proficiency. No one has even attempted to alter that. But the Commonwealth has many contracts, and does a great deal of work itself, and as representatives of the working classes, it was the duty of a Labour Government, knowing the value and effect of unionism in the past, to give preference to those who had made the sacrifices. I take the case of a town whose corporation is a very efficient one. It makes roads, footpaths, drainage works, and provides for the lighting of the town, and sanitary arrangements. One or two of the citizens say that they do not want electric lights or gas lights, sanitary arrangements, roads, or footpaths. All they desire is to go back to the good old time and roam about free like the blacks. They therefore refuse to pay any rates. Honorable senators opposite know that such persons could not remain in that community very long, because the civic authorities would prosecute the delinquents, and see thatthey paid the rates necessary for the beautification of the town and the protection and preservation of the citizens. That is exactly the principle that hasbeen adopted in the past by trade unions, whether industrial or political. The members band themselves together for their own protection and the betterment of the conditions of the class to which they belong. They work for the improvement of sanitary arrangements, the shortening of hours of labour, and the increase of their comfort, and every week they pay regularly their contributions for the maintenance of good conditions. Will honorable senators contend that it is fair or right that two or three individuals should share in the benefit which others have fought to obtain when they have never spent a penny or a moment of their time in the endeavour to secure them ? If they think that they should, and call that freedom, I differ from all who hold such an opinion.
– They believe as we do in their hearts.
– I believe they do, but R. O. Blackwood and a few such people have control of their caucus arrangements, and consequently honorable senators opposite have to make believe in some instances. So far as preference to unionists is concerned, I and every member of the Labour party will do all that we possibly can to maintain that principle now and for ever. With respect to the alterations proposed to be made regarding rural workers, I should like to ask honorable senators opposite what the rural workers have done to society that they should be neglected any more than any one else? Has a bricklayer, a carpenter, a builder’s labourer, a painter, a gasfitter, or a lawyer any greater claim to protection or the improvement of his condition than has an agricultural labourer? I know a little about agricultural labour in every State of the Commonwealth, and in other parts of the world as well. I have gained this knowledge by personal experience. If you go to the country to-day where there is freedom of contract, the freedom our honorable friends prize so much, but which I call slavery, you will find that the agricultural labourer is in a very little better condition than the hog, and is not as well cared for as the horse or the cow. I know these things. I know that even in Australia very little consideration is given by the majority of people to the agricultural labourer. There are good farmers in the Commonwealth, of course. I have worked for good agriculturists myself. I never would work for any others. As soon as I found that I had not a good employer I left his employment. The good employers are able to give good conditions and pay fair wages, but the bad ones will not do so. It is no hardship to a good agriculturist or manufacturer to give fair wages and good conditions to those whom he employs if every one else in the same business is compelled to do the same; but when one set of individuals is permitted to exercise this freedom of slavery, and another is under obligation to give fair wages and good conditions, hardship comes in. So far as Australia is concerned, where good conditions exist among the rural workers there is peace, happiness, and contentment, but there are cases where it is only by compulsion that men can be got to work for some employers at all. I remember that, not long ago, in the Bungaree district of Victoria, men were paid 6d. and 8d. per bag for digging, picking, and bagging potatoes. They very often could not work for more than two or three days in the week on account of wet weather. What conditions were those to ask any man to submit to ? The men were not able to make enough to keep body and soul together. Then they had no proper accommodation. Many of them had to sleep in the Fame place as the horses or the cows. If there is an honest attempt made to alter the degrading condition of the agricultural industry by extending conciliation and arbitration to the agricultural workers of Australia, I am one of those who will help it as far as I possibly can. Every honorable senator on this side is of the same mind. I would do anything I possibly could to assist the farmer and producer to improve the degrading condition in which they find themselves at the present time. It is the high prices they have to pay for agricultural implements, artificial manures, and the appliances they require, that keep them in the condition in which they are, and render them unable to pay decent wages, or give good conditions to those who work for them. The aim and object of this party is to so alter the legislation of the Commonwealth that every farmer and producer will get a fair return for his crop and will be fleeced as little as possible by those with whom he has to do business.
– They are suffering from the intervention of the middleman.
– That is very evident. As there are others who may desire to say something on this subject, I shall not thrash it out threadbare. When the legislation foreshadowed in the Ministerial statement is brought before the Senate, I hope t will be dealt with on its merits. I hope it will receive honest criticism, and that if it is found to be bad in its probable effect upon the people, it will be relegated to the wastepaper basket. Item number 3 in the Ministerial programme is Protection. I am surprised at Senators Millen and Gould, and at Messrs. Bruce Smith, Joseph Cook, Elliot Johnson, and more than a dozen others I could name-
– All good Protectionists !
– All staunch, solid, and sound Protectionists ! They are men who opposed Protection from their A B C in politics. Now we are told that they are Protectionists. They are going to refer the question of Protection to the Inter-State Commission. Senator McColl, who pretended to be a sound Protectionist in, I think, everything but threelegged glue-pots-
– He was solid on that.
– No. He wanted them to be admitted free on the ground that they could not be made here. Honorable senators opposite have twitted the Labour party with its lack of earnestness during the past three years on the question of Protection. I would like to point out to them that, during that period, the Labour party was pledged to a platform which set out that the only Protection we could support was the new Protection - Protection through the Customs House to the manufacturer, and protection to all the workers of Australia through the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Because we could not get the manufacturers to agree to that principle, we could not keep our platform pledges on the fiscal question. When the Labour party go upon the hustings, and make pledges to the people, they are prepared to respect those pledges, and the legislation of the past three years abundantly proves that. When we are bound to a plank of a platform, we adhere to it. That is more than I can say of other political parties in the Commonwealth. Mr. Fisher stated on the public platform that the late Government were prepared to undertake an immediate revision of the Tariff if they were returned to power. However, they were not so returned, and therefore I would like to know when my honorable friends opposite intend to make a move in regard to the fiscal issue. Are they going to wait for the Inter-State Commission’s report before they attempt to give relief to the languishing industries about which we have heard so much ? If so, they will be out of office before that report is forthcoming. Paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 of the Ministerial statement relate to matters with which my ex-colleague, Senator Pearce, is in a better position to deal. Paragraph 7 relates to national insurance. I believe in national insurance for the purpose of affording protection from fire, flood, and all other risks of that description. But the national insurance of which the Government speak in their statement of policy is insurance against accident, sickness, unemployment, and maternity. They are going to alter the Maternity Allowance Act with a view to providing that the maternity grant shall be paid only to mothers in necessitous circumstances. Who is to be the judge of that? So far as insurance is concerned, I hold that every industry has a right to carry the risks which appertain to that industry. If unemployment and sickness are national matters, the national revenue should be drawn upon to insure against them, because the whole of the people contribute to that revenue. The late Government made the maternity allowance what it is because they did not believe in pauperizing any section of the community. But my honorable friends opposite, by drawing a distinction between the working man’s wife and the woman of means, will pauperize one and make the other appear independent. So far as the Labour party are concerned, every mother in Australia fulfils the same obligation to the Commonwealth, and, consequently, all should be treated alike. This party will strenuously resist any attempt to pauperize any section of the community. I will leave other members of the party with which I am associated to deal with most of the subsequent paragraphs in the Ministerial policy. Paragraph 10 refers to the Murray waters, There is no mistake about it; the Government are great hands at padding. What has the Commonwealth to do with the Murray River? It has only to see that one State does not infringe upon the rights of another. Consequently, that paragraph is so much idle padding. I might also deal with the question of the State debts, the Savings Banks throughout the Commonwealth, and the gold reserve under our note-issue, but I must leave something to other honorable senators to discuss. Where any legislation proposed by the Government is intended to destroy the advantages conferred by previous legislation enacted by this Parliament, it will meet with our opposition. But where proposals of a Liberal character are submitted - such, for example,, as the liberalizing of the old-age pension, scheme - the Labour party will support it.. We hope that, as time goes on, the intentions of the Government will become more, apparent to the people, and that thereason for our opposition to their proposals will also become more apparent, so. that the electors will thus be able to judge- between us.
– I take no exception to the tone of theaddress of the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber. His remarks were not unfair, and they were delivered - as most of his addresses are - in a good-natured spirit. He did not deal very fully with the great problem which affects Australia at the present time, though he wandered into ancient history, and discoursed lengthily on the hardships which were suffered long years ago. He can scarcely urge, however, that the conditions which he condemned are operative at the present time.
– In a lesser degreethey are.
– No. We have grown right out of them, and there is throughout the whole of the Englishspeaking races of the world to-day a more humane spirit than was ever exhibited before. The honorable senator claimed that every benefit which the workers enjoy today is due to trade unionism. As a matter of fact, every benefit which they haverenjoyed for hundreds of years has come, not from trade unionism, but from Liber- alism. The measures which are aiding the workers in this country have emanated from Liberals and Liberalism. Every great reform that we have enjoyed has sprung from the same source. But Senator McGregor was merely following the usual practice of orators upon his own side of the chamber when he took credit to the Labour party for everything that was good, and sought to saddle his opponents with everything that was bad.
– What are the Government going to do for the agricultural labourers ?
– I will deal with that question presently. The Leader of the Opposition told us that when we were in Opposition we had only one policy, namely, to oust the late Government from office in order that we might take their places. That statement is becoming trite nowadays. We have heard it over and over again. It might just as well be applied to any Opposition in any Parliament. The trouble with my honorable friends is that our policy has succeeded - that they are out of office, and that another Government are in office. My honorable friends are out of office, and they are likely to stay out. Why are they out of office ? If they have performed all the wonderful feats of legislation and administration of which we hear ad nauseam, how is it that the people have displaced them from office?
– We have 66 members in a Parliament of 111 members.
– But the honorable senator’s party are not in office. They have been displaced by the vote of the people, and because they went to the country promising all sorts of blessings for everybody, and failed to carry out their promises. Senator McGregor gave us the history of the Commonwealth Parliament from its inception. He traced it to the period when the Labour party came into power. They had a splendid opportunity, but what has been the result of their three years’ administration ? The people have put them out of office, and have installed another Government in their stead. What is there in that circumstance to boast about, as Senator McGregor has boasted? The fact is that the late Government and their supporters were tried at the bar of public opinion and were found wanting. That is the whole truth.
– Is this Opposition and that Government the result of their verdict ?
– It is. I admit that the position is a peculiar one. I admit that, so far as the number of electors who voted at the recent elections are concerned, public opinion seems to be pretty equally divided as between the two political parties in this Parliament. But owing to our faulty electoral system we have in this chamber twenty-nine Labour senators, and only seven Liberals. If honorable senators were returned in accordance with the opinions of the people throughout this country, the position in this chamber would be similar to that which obtains in the House of Representatives. In the other Chamber, in the last Parliament, the Labour party had a majority of ten, and there were two Independents who usually supported them. Their majority has now gone, and the two Independents have gone with it. There is now a Liberal Government in power. We heard from Senator McGregor a good deal about the White Australia policy, and, as usual, the whole credit for carrying it out was given to the honorable senator’s party. As a matter of fact, the While Australia policy was not introduced by the Labour party, or carried into effect by them.
– It would never have been a policy except for the Labour party.
– I admit that the party opposite supported the policy, but it was introduced and carried into effect by the Liberals, who saw long ago - before the Labour party even came into existence - that it was necessary to keep this country white’ to maintain our racial purity and to avoid those scourges which beset countries in which there are mixed races. While I fully admit that the party opposite supported the White Australia policy, they had nothing whatever to do with its introduction, but simply aided those who were the authors of it.
– Sir John Forrest only a few years ago wanted to bring incoolies.
– The opinions which many people had many years ago they have seen fit to change. Honorable members opposite have done the same. We> have to deal with the opinions of people as they are held to-day. We are honestly trying to carry out our opinions. Senator McGregor also referred to the question of Federation, and scoffed at the idea of its being mentioned in the programme at all. But we are Federalists, and we believe in upholding Federation. Honorable members opposite are making efforts which, if successful, would destroy Federation. When the Federal Constitution was laid before the people the leaders of the Labour party endeavoured to secure its rejection, and they have been working against it ever since. They -re now advocating proposals which would make Federation, as we have it to-day, impossible. They would alter the whole machinery of government, and bring about Unification, a policy which would never be tolerated by the people of this country. Senator McGregor argued that the idea of a double dissolution was ridiculous, and not to be thought of. I can quite understand honorable members opposite entertaining that opinion. I can quite understand those who have come here for the first time, and those who, in the ordinary course of things, would have a few years to serve, being reluctant to go back to the country. We were told that, because a somewhat similar condition of things exists in a number of the States, there is no reason why it should not exist here. But it ought not to be permitted to exist. We are not here to mark time. We were told some time ago that if we would bring in legislation that would not reverse the policy of the Labour party we should be permitted to retain our seats on these benches without dispute.
– Who said that?
– That has been said over and over again by the leaders of the party opposite. But we are not here to make terms of that kind. The people put us here to alter much that was done by the Labour party, and we are going to endeavour to do it. Honorable senators opposite put me in mind of the Scotsman whom Max 0’Rell speaks about. He was always talking of heaven, but was the very last man who wanted to go there. We have honorable senators opposite claiming that they represent the people, and that they are the only true Democrats; but, nevertheless, they show themselves extremely reluctant to meet the people. That, indeed, is the last thing that they desire. But, if we wish to secure a verdict of the people of this country that will result in a reasonable condition of affairs, let us have a double dissolution, and let honorable senators opposite arrange for the Government to bring it about. Then the- people can decide between us. The Government that now occupies office has submitted a programme to the country and to Parliament. Of course, my honorable friends do not think much of that programme. It is not their business to think much of it. It is their business to belittle it as much as they can. But it is also their business, as representatives of the people, to give this Government a chance by affording us an opportunity of bringing in Bills which will make our proposals concrete. It is their business to assist in the government of the country to the extent of enabling us to submit out measures to Parliament, when they can be either accepted or rejected. I should like to contrast the treatment to which we have been subjected with that which was accorded to the Labour party three years ago. When they came into office with a swinging majority - not a majority of the electors of the country, but a majority in Parliament - were the tactics to which we have been subjected resorted to by the Liberal party? Did we not, on the contrary, give the Government fair play? We did not submit time-wasting motions to Parliament. We accepted the verdict of the country, and helped the Government to carry on the business of Parliament. Of course, we found it to be necessary to challenge some of their measures; but there was no obstruction, no “stone- walling,” no attempt to waste time, such as we have had during this Parliament. There has been a deliberate attempt to waste time on the part of the Opposition. Instead of being afforded opportunities of bringing forward our measures, we have been treated to the somewhat Gilbertian proceedings of the past month; and if we are to believe our friends, we shall have the same kind of thing here.
– Were not noconfidence motions proposed when the late Government was in office ?
– Only when circumstances justified action of the kind. But the tactics now being pursued cannot be justified. We are told that since this Government came into office the cost of living has gone up and unemployment has become rife. Surely that is a cruel thing to say about a Ministry that has only been three months in office. The increase of the cost of living is evidently the result of the policy of the Government during the last three years. Indeed, the cost of living went up and unemployment increased during that period. We had not been three weeks in office before Ministers were waited upon by deputations representing the unemployed of Melbourne. We did not create that unemployment. It is useless to say that we are responsible for it. The late Government was in office three years, and to maintain that the increase in the cost of living and of unemployment which occurred was due to us, is something which no one will be willing to believe.
– This Government’s friends, the middlemen, are responsible for the high cost of living.
– The honorable senator’s party had a majority in both Houses, but what was the result?
– The Minister knows that we asked for an alteration of the Constitution.
– Yes, the party opposite asked for it on false pretences. When they went through the country their whole stock-in-trade was the denunciation of trusts and combines. Butall the while there was in the Law Department a statement regarding inquiries which had been made into the operations of between thirty and forty trusts. What was the result of those investigations? The facts were submitted to Mr. Powers, then Crown Solicitor, who has since been promoted to the High Court Bench, and it was discovered that the alleged trusts were not detrimental to the public interest. No prosecution was instituted in any case. Yet no information about these matters, no statement that the document was in the Crown Law office, was made to the public. We were not told that the affairs of these alleged trusts and combines had been inquired into, and that there was no tangible reason for believing that they had done injury to the country. On the contrary, the people were led to believe that trusts and combines had been doing great mischief, and that their wings would be clipped if the Labour party got into office again. The whole thing was a hollow sham. If there were trusts and combines why did not the late Government deal with them ?
Senatorde Largie. - Because they had not the power.
– They had absolutely all the power that was necessary. They had at their command the most drastic law in the world - a law far more severe than those of the United States, under which trusts and combines have certainly been dealt with. But the late Government had not the courage to touch the question. Is it not mere foolishness, or f oolhardiness, therefore, to pretend that the Labour party was eager to deal with this question ? Much was said by Senator McGregor about Liberals and Conservatives. I do not know who are the Conservatives of to-day. There are men who were Conservatives, but they have been Liberalized, and have banded together with us, with the result that wev have a Liberal Government in office now. We are told that there were in the previous Parliament only two Liberals left, Sir William Lyne and Mr. Wise, and Senator McGregor has asked where they are to-day? Both lost their seats for supporting the Labour Government. It is quite certain that the party opposite know full well that the Government is in earnest, with its Liberal programme, and that is the reason why they show such a keen disposition to obstruct our work. The Government cannot be accused of wasting, time. As soon as we met Parliament we only asked for barely sufficient time to enable us to prepare our Bills. The late Government took three months to prepare a programme; we had only one month. When Parliament resumed we were quite prepared to go on with business, but have: been refused an opportunity.
– We have had to fill the business-paper for you.
– I think that the less said by the honorable senator about the conduct of business in the Senate during the last three years, especially during last session, the better it will be. We had fifty measures passed through the Senate during last session, but nearlythirty of them were not submitted for our consideration until three or four days before Parliament rose. They were driven through, as every one knows, without receiving any consideration. If honorable senators opposite look at the business done during the last session they ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Senator McGregor dealt at some length with the electoral law. He does not think that it requires alteration, but we think it does. We believe that the law was altered by the Labour Government to suit themselves and to endeavour to make their return to office as sure as they possibly could. They never imagined for a moment that they were going out of office. They thought that, with the command of the elections in their own hands, the alterations of the law - especially the abolition of the postal vote, and the crippling of the press, and of free discussion - would make their path safe and easy; but they discovered their mistake. Their actions were being scanned closely, and the people made a change. We propose to alter the electoral law; we intend to restore the postal vote.
– Where are the Bills?
– The Bills will be brought into another place as soon as we are permitted to bring them in.
– Why not bring them in here? There is nothing to prevent you.
– During the last few years we have heard a good deal about the wholesale corruption that was perpetrated under the system of postal voting. I have obtained from the Chief Electoral Officer a return of the cases actually brought before the Department in which there was any wrong done under the system. The cases are very few indeed. Altogether they number ten or twelve. That is all the record that the Electoral Office has of any wrong-doing under the postal-voting provisions.
– Do you withdraw your Fitzroy statement?
– I do not withdraw it.
– In view of your report you ought to do so.
– I shall deal with that matter directly. I find from this return that the offences against the postalvoting provisions were mostly trivial. Mr. Stephen Barker, for instance, was brought up and fined, but, on appeal, the conviction was quashed. I know , that Senator Barker would not do anything wrong. I do not propose to occupy time by going into the details. There are only ten cases that have been dealt with. In the most glaring case a man was fined £25. Some cases were withdrawn, and in the other cases a fine of.£l was inflicted. The cases were nearly all of a trivial kind. I will give an instance. It is the case of an old lady who could scarcely write. Her hand shook so much that an officer steadied her arm so that she might be able to write properly. He was fined £1, and an official who did not interfere to stop him was also fined £1. That is an illustration of the cases that were brought forward. We intend to restore the postal vote, because we think that a great wrong was done by its abolition. Who were deprived of the benefit of the system? The sick, the old, and the far-off people were disfranchised, and we intend to restore the postal vote to them.
– Are you going to lay this paper on the table?
– The honorable senator can have the paper with pleasure. Where are all the cases of which we have heard for years of offences committed under the Electoral Act? We cannot find any trace of them. We think it is not right that thousands of persons throughout the country should be disfranchised by being unable to record their votes.
– You have not dwelt long on the personation question.
– I shall come to that by-and-by. To show how the postal vote operated in the locality where I live, seven persons, whose ages averaged eighty-five years, had to be carried to the polling booth. They went in the cold and the rain, and some of them almost at the risk of health or life. It was a pathetic sight, and had it been witnessed by honorable senators opposite, they would regret, I am sure, that they ever deprived those persons of the means of exercising the franchise. Much has been said about the conduct of the late elections, and much was said a little while ago about some remarks I made at Fitzroy. I shall deal with the matter now, as I have been invited to do so. I did not propose to touch it. I said -
There never was, in the history of Australian elections, such a campaign as the last. There had been more names on the rolls than there were persons entitled to vote - he had these figures from Mr. Knibbs - 60,000 more in New South Wales, 60,000 in Victoria, 30,000 in Queensland, 17,000 in South Australia, 11,000 in Western Australia, and 7,600 in Tasmania. How was that?
That statement was challenged in the Senate.
– No; the statement about the resurrection of the dead.
– I shall read that directly.
– The other statement was never challenged here.
– We were told tonight by Senator McGregor that a statement was made as to the inflation of the rolls which was not correct.
– - That statement was never challenged.
– No; it was the statement about the resurrection of the dead that was challenged.
– I shall come to that. A challenge was thrown out from the other side that the electoral rolls were not inflated. Before the certified lists were ready, there were 326,099 more persons on the rolls than were eligible to go on, and there was some cleaning up, but on the 31st May, according to the Chief Electoral Officer and Mr. Knibbs, there was a surplus of 183,770.
– That is only a rough estimate.
– That is the statement I made, and one which I believe to be correct. So much for my statement that the rolls were inflated. I think i have shown that they were. In my speech at Fitzroy, I went on to say -
The worst of it was that a lot of people voted twice.
That was the second statement I made. I have here a statement issued by the Chief Electoral Officer, showing that there were 5,760 cases of duplicate voting.
– Alleged duplicate voting. Read the officers’ report.
– Be truthful.
– I have to ask your protection, sir, when I am told to be truthful. I am not going to make a statement to-night that I cannot prove. I hold here a return which gives the facts. The statement I made at Fitzroy was made on the 21st July, and since then there has been an inquiry.
– Why did you not prosecute the double voters?
– According to this return, there was a duplication of votes to the number of 5,760. That bears out the statement I made that many people had voted twice.
– Was not this officer told that they were not cases of duplicate voting, but mostly clerical errors?
– The next statement I made at Fitzroy was, “ They had even resurrected the dead to vote.” I may have been a little hasty in making that statement. I think there was a good deal of talk, as there is at the present moment. I had heard of some cases, but I must say that I cannot prove them, and, therefore, I withdraw the statement.
– Will you admit that, when you were asked to withdraw the statement, you had only the same proof before you as you have now ?
– I was subjected to language the reverse of that which was fit, and I was not going to be bounced into doing anything.
– That is quite incorrect; as you will see if you will read my speech in Hansard.
– Order !
– I was subjected to language to which I had no right to be subjected. I was not then inclined to withdraw anything I had said ; but if the matter had been put in a reasonable way I might have done so. I said much more; but these are the only statements which were challenged here.
– I rise to order. Senator McColl has complained that the language to which he was subjected on a previous occasion, when I brought this matter before the Senate, was unfit to be used. I wish to know, sir, whether it is correct for the honorable senator to reflect upon the language I used when I made the charges against him.
– I did not mention the honorable senator’s name at all.
– This is not a point of order, because Senator McColl did not say anything disrespectful of the language used by the honorable senator, nor did he mention the name of an honorable senator.
– Oh, yes, he did.
– I understood Senator McColl to say that the language used on that occasion was fairly warm, but that cannot be regarded as disorderly.
– My point of order, sir, is that Senator McColl said-that, on a previous occasion, he was subjected to language that was scandalous.
– I did not hear him say that.
– I assure you, sir, that he did say so. I certainly think it is objectionable to be accused ofusing such language.
– If Senator McColl applied that term to language uttered by an honorable senator, he was out of order.
– I did not use that term, sir, but I said that I was subjected to language to which I ought not to have been subjected. During the last election there was much discussion, and feeling was exhibited which had never been seen before. It was said that there had been a good deal of unfair dealing. Certainly, circumstances seemed to warrant the statement I made. I know that there was a crowd at the polling booths ; that persons thrust cards in the faces of electors going to the polling booths, and endeavoured, iu many cases, to persuade them to vote in a certain direction. These proceedings created considerable comment. There were other reasons for the existence of a feeling of suspicion. We had a circular issued by the Chief Electoral Officer, under instructions from the Minister, in which he said -
Advice has been obtained that an elector does not lose his right to vote because some one personating him has voted in his name, and therefore an elector who, not having already voted at the election or referendum, claims to vote, and answers satisfactorily the questions put to him by the presiding officer, is entitled to vote, notwithstanding that some one else has voted in his name, and his name has been marked off on the list of voters.
Presiding officers will act upon this advising should occasion arise, but it is not necessary or desirable that it be promulgated for public information.
Why was that circular issued ?
– That is issued at every election.
– Such a circular was never issued at a previous election. If duplicate voting was not anticipated, why was the circular issued? That gave rise to a good deal of talk and suspicion. Then we had another circular issued from the Minister of Home Affairs which reads as follows: -
Please see that in future, except in cases where it is absolutely unavoidable, station managers, owners, or overseers are not appointed to any position in connexion with the conduct of elections.
Was ever a greater stain put upon a’ respectable body of men than to say that the landed people of this country, and those who managed for them, were unworthy to take part in the conduct of an election? What a disgraceful thing to say about any class in the country. I would not like to make the statement regarding any class, let alone a class that is as respectable as any other class in the community. When we saw that circular about double voting, and the other to prevent one section of the community from taking any part in the conduct of the elections, we naturally looked for unfair dealing. These circulars invited the suspicion which existed at the time. Whether there were malpractices at the last elections, and, personally, I think there were, it is impossible to find out. It is most difficult to prove any case of personation. I believe that there was a great deal of personation, but I cannot prove it. We all know that it is next to impossible to prove such things unless our electoral system is altered, and we have some check upon the rolls. We propose to amend the Electoral Act to restore the postal vote, to remove the restrictions imposed upon the press, and to clean up the rolls in order that when we go before the country again we may have pure rolls and an honest conduct of the elections. Honorable senators on the other side have classed the writers for the press on a level with murderers, pickpockets, and slanderers.
– Senator Barker cheers that statement. A member of the party opposite said they would not protect such people, and placed them on a level with murderers, pickpockets, and slanderers.
– Some of them were worse.
– That is a nice thing to say of people who write for the press. But what did honorable senators opposite gain by imposing restrictions upon the press? They lost as much as they gained, because they prevented reports of speeches made in the country, and the education of the people by Liberal and Labour candidates alike.
– We did not prevent the reports. The writers could have put their names to them.
– The publication of such reports was prevented because the restrictions imposed struck such terror into the owners of country newspapers that they would not take the risk of publishing them. We propose to remove those restrictions, and to have freedom of the press, which is one of the safeguards of our liberty. I was glad to hear Senator McGregor express approval of the proposal that there should be one roll for the States and the Commonwealth. There are many matters in connexion with which the States and the Commonwealth might work together. This is one, and I fail to see why there should be two separate rolls when the boundaries of State and Federal electorates might be made conterminous, and one roll might be made to apply to both. We should then have a double check, and a better chance to see that the rolls are purified. Some reference was made by Senator McGregor to the proposed amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and we had a long dissertation from him upon trades unions and the work they have done. We had also a sneer at the Sunday-school, which, I think, was unworthy of the honorable senator. The question of the rural workers was brought up, and I admit that, at first blush, it would seem that the rural worker will be unfairly treated if he is not given the same privilege as other workers. But throughout my political career I have been against the subjection of rural industries to city conditions. I say that rural employers have no more right to sweat their workers than have employers in any other industries, but to bring rural industries, subject to alii the changes of the weather and fluctuations of price, under city conditions and trades union management, is a thing which I shall always vote against.
– The farmers will continue “to live in the country. We shall not bring them into the cities.
– No; but the policy of honorable senators opposite would deplete the country, and we should have very few farmers left.
– How would the honorable senator deal with the matter?
– I think that the Wages Board system would meet the difficulty. Those engaged in rural industries could meet together under that system, and it is the only system that has lifted up the workers in this country. There is no reason why it should not be applied to our rural industries, and by securing fair wages to the workers bring about peace throughout the country. But to bring rural workers under trade union conditions, and to have walking delegates going through the farmers’ books, and telling them to do this, that, and the other, is a thing to which I shall not submit, whether I retain a seat in the Senate or go out of it.
– Is it a fact that the honorable senator told the farmers that they would have to put the union label on their sheep ?
– Once allow the Trades Hall to control the work of the farmers and they will have to brand their sheep and cattle, and everything else, before they will be allowed help. We were told that Senator McGregor and his party are against the proposed National Insurance Bill; but one member of the party in another place has expressed himself in favour of it, and has said that some such legislation must be introduced. We cannot carry on all these ..’benevolent schemes in this country unless we receive some assistance from the people themselves. The time for honorable senators to criticise the measure is when they see it, and I remind them that in going against national insurance they are opposing a principle which is making headway in Great Britain at the present time. There was very little in Senator McGregor’s speech touching upon existing conditions in the Commonwealth. It was, no doubt, a very good speech for his party, if addressed to the supporters of the party outside; but what we have to look at are the needs of Australia at present. We have a great defence scheme, which requires to be perfected. We have in the Northern Territory an enormous area of country which must be crossed by railways, and must be settled; and we have the question of the Tariff to deal with. One would think that the last thing to which honorable senators opposite would refer would be the question of Protection. They had three years in which to do something. They were aware that the importations pf goods .”which could be made here were increasing to the value of millions of pounds every year, but they never raised a hand to remedy that state of affairs. They deprived our people of work, and had them walking the streets, and then at the last moment, when they found that Protection was to be a crucial question at the elections, they turned a volte-face, and said, “ Let the new Protection go. We are going for the old Protection, and a revision of the Tariff.” Why did they not do that when they were in office, and had the power to revise the Tariff? Now, when we are taking the question up, we find honorable senators opposite sneering at Senator Millen, Mr. Joseph Cook, and others who are prepared to deal with the matter in an honest way. We have appointed the Inter-State Commission to deal with the matter, and have given instructions for an immediate report upon industries suffering from unduly low duties, in order that they may be relieved at once. We can, later, propose a final revision of the Tariff, which will meet the needs of workers, employers, and consumers. We have been twitted that we are not honest in the matter; but we are honest, and have gone about it in the only way which can be effective. The last thing which honorable senators opposite should mention is Protection. We have all these things to do. The question of the control and use of the Murray waters has been referred to in a sneering way, but there is nothing in Australia the potentialities of which are so great as the utilization of the Murray waters. We propose to help the States in regulating it, maintaining the flow of the stream and utilizing the water which is now running every year to the sea. All these things are in front of us, and need to be attended to, but we are being asked to pursue a mark -time policy, and are told that we must not interfere with what the other side have done. If we do not agree we are to be subjected to a waste of the time of Parliament. Honorable senators opposite say, “We are the people, and when we are gone wisdom dies with us.” That is not sport. My honorable friends opposite are bad losers. When they were turned out once before, the business of Parliament was held up for weeks, ‘and they refused to allow any measures to pass. The same thing is happening today. Do honorable senators think, that the people are blind; that they do not see what is going on, and will not know who are ‘ their friends ? I say, let us have an appeal to the country. Let us have a double dissolution. Honorable senators opposite talk a great deal about Democracy, and I say let us go to the people, and let them settle the whole matter. If they come back with a majority, I shall be content. I say let one side or the other have a majority and get on with the business of the country. Senator de Largie interjects, but if the great land-owner of Western Australia would hold his tongue we should get on better.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator McColl has referred to me as a great land-owner of Western Australia. I say that the statement is untrue.
– It is not a crime.
– It is not a crime, but it is untrue all the same, and I desire that the statement shall be withdrawn.
– There is no point of order. To say that an honorable senator is a “land-owner is not to cast any reflection upon him.
– In view of the circular which was issued by the late Minister of Home Affairs, Senator de Largie may object to being called a great land-owner, and I shall therefore say that he is a s-mail land-owner. I do not propose to continue the debate. We want to get on with the business of the country. We want to do what we were sent here for, and if we cannot do it, I say let us all go to the country again, and let the people settle matters between us.
– “ We have big things to do.” “All these big things are in front of us.” I quote these expressions from the concluding portion of Senator McColl’s speech, yet th’ honorable senator commenced with a claim that the party on this side should assist the Government to bring about a double dissolution to prevent these big things being done. I compliment Senator McColl upon a manly, though tardy, withdrawal of statements which he made regarding this party and corruption at the recent elections, in a speech which has already been referred to in this Chamber. Before proceeding with the few remarks I have to make, I may be allowed to call the attention of the Senate to a somewhat unusual circumstance. I have had the honour to be a member of the Senate for ten years out of the thirteen years during which the Federation has been established, and it has hitherto been the custom when the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber has criticised the policy of the Government, for the Leader of the Government in the Senate to follow him in reply. That has been the customary procedure, and I hope it is not a studied insult to the party on this side, or their leader, that it has been departed from on this occasion. The Leader of the Opposition has been replied to by a member of the Ministry who is not the Leader of tile Government in the Senate. I admit that the honorable senator has made an able speech from his point of view. In his opening remarks Senator McColl pleaded that the Opposition, with their strong majority, should assist the Government to bring about a double dissolution. Why should we ask for a double dissolution in the interests of the people if all these big national works require to be undertaken, and great national problems are waiting to be solved ? I may be allowed to direct the attention of the honorable senator to what should be the duty of the Government in the present peculiar circumstances. We know that in another place the Government have no majority unless they count the vote of the honorable gentleman who occupies the Speaker’s «hair. We know that in the Senate we have the noble seven opposite, six of whom were returned from two of the States, confronted by twenty-nine members of the Opposition. We know perfectly well ako how hollow is the cry that Australia has asked for this change of Government. When our opponents say that the voice of Australia has placed a Liberal Government on the Treasury bench, we know how absurd their statement is. At the recent general elections Australia spoke with two voices - one a very weak voice, which could scarcely be heard, placed thirty-eight members on the Government side, and thirty-seven members on the Opposition side, in the House of Representatives, whilst the other voice gave the Labour party a majority of four to one in the Senate. In these peculiar circumstances, why do the Government wish to bring about a double dissolution? When the late Government resigned, there were only two straightforward alternatives open to their successors. The first was that they should not undertake the task of carrying on the government of the country without a majority. Of course, that would have involved another election for the House of Representatives immediately. Their second alternative was to submit measures to this Parliament embodying the national proposals for which the Vice-President of the Exe cutive Council says Australia is waiting, and to ask the Opposition to give statutory life to these big national undertakings. Had the Government done that they would have found the party on this side of the Senate anxious to help them.
– They show their anxiety to help us in a very curious way.
– We have had no chance of helping the Government, because the latter have not brought forward a single one of these great national projects. Look at the business paper for the House of Representatives, and what do we find? The Audit Bill and the Agricultural Bureau Bill. There can be no denying the fact that the Government do not wish to get on with the business of the country. They stand condemned out of the mouths of their own leaders on fifty platforms during the last few weeks. They have affirmed that they desire to bring about a double dissolution. Within the past week or two they seem to have weakened somewhat on that plan. They now realize that the task is much more difficult than they imagined. But there are higher objects which they could achieve. The three years which this Parliament has to run might well be occupied iu dealing with useful noncontentious legislation, which would avoid the possibility of conflict between the two Houses. But instead of bringing forward a programme of that kind, the Government have submitted one which is a direct challenge to the Labour party. In this connexion, I may be allowed to quote a very good authority on the duty of a Government -
The one and only proper function of a responsible Ministry is to propose and urge into law measures that are capable of fairly carrying into effect the ascertained wishes of the whole people. Did a Government so far depart from its duty to the nation as to invent and frame its measures with the simple intention of irritating its political antagonists, no fair-minded citizen could regard it without anger and disgust. The party game is rapidly going out of credit in Australia, because our education is already sufficiently advanced to enable us to see it for exactly what it is - a game of crass and sordid selfishness that cares for nothing but party triumph. We sincerely believe that, had a poll of the Australian people been taken on the question after the last election, an immense majority would have directed Mr. Cook to formulate his policy in such a way as to insure several sessions of important legislative work in which both parties might have honestly and cordially collaborated. It may be that the Cook Government’s programme will be of the character desired. Let us all hope so ; for a Parliament so fresh from the country ought to please the people, and there is really nothing in the constitution of this Parliament - provided it is led ‘ by statesmen and ruled by dutiful consideration - to prevent it running its full term, and proving the very best Parliament we have yet seen.
That is not the opinion of any organ of the Labour party, but of the Melbourne Age.
– It was written before the want of confidence motion was submitted.
– It was written before the Ministerial policy was announced - a policy which was calculated to drive the Labour party into bitter opposition. It plainly states that several measures are to be brought forward in order that the Labour party shall oppose them. I am quite satisfied that the people of Australia do not desire the turmoil of another election in the near future. In these circumstances there was only one wise course open to the Government, namely, to bring forward a programme of noncontentious legislation, to which both political ^parties might well have devoted their attention, and which might thus have been placed upon the statute-book. Concerning the desirableness of securing a double dissolution, I would ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he has consulted his colleague, the Treasurer, on that matter? It would be interesting to know what that gentleman thinks of a double dissolution. The Treasurer was ODe of the foremost members of the Convention which framed our Constitution, and anybody who chooses to read the Convention debates will find that he was a strenuous opponent of a double dissolution under any circumstances whatever. I propose to read one or two quotations from his utterances. I find that on page 2109 of the Melbourne Session of the Convention, which sat in 1898, he said -
I may say, in the beginning, that I have all along been opposed to a provision for deadlocks. … I desire that the procedure to be followed in the future should be based on the procedure we have always followed and are following now, and on the procedure which exists in the great Mother Country. If a difference occur at the present time between two Houses of Parliament in any of the Colonies with elective Upper Houses - and several, including- that which I represent, have elective Upper Houses - there is no provision for a dissolution of the Upper House.
After going into details concerning the several methods which have been suggested for dealing with deadlocks, and after several times asserting his view that in case of a dispute between the two branches of this Parliament the House of Representatives only should be dissolved, Sir John Forrest proceeded -
The proposal I favour is that the Senate should not be dissolved at all. … I should like to see some simple plan adopted. I do not want to see any dispute between the two Houses carried on for months and months, simply in order to gratify adventurous and aspiring politicians.
Mr. Reid. ; The referendum is short, sharp, and decisive.
Sir JOHN FORREST. The referendum is unwieldy and would not be effective. My objection to the dissolution of the Senate, as proposed in the Bill, is that it would give the executive Government too much power. It is an engine that could be used by the executive Government to coerce the Senate.
Why, every statement made by Ministers which has touched upon the political situation during the past few weeks has been an attempt to coerce the Senate. In language which can only be designated es vulgar, the Leader of the Government has sought to bully the Senate and to coerce it either into accepting measures passed by the other branch of the Legislature or to consent to a double dissolution. I wonder whether Sir J ohn Forrest has changed the views which he expressed in the Federal Convention. Continuing, he said -
Why cannot we devise some simple and more speedy method of meeting the difficulty. If the Houses cannot agree, even after a dissolution of the one House, then let them meet together, and let a three-fifths majority determine the matter. I mention a three-fifths majority, but that is a point on which every honorable member may have his opinion. … By following the plan I am suggesting we shall be going along, a well-beaten track, and not along tracks that will lead we do not know where. We should be following the precedent of the British Constitution, which provides that the Lower House may be dissolved. That is the plan that has been adopted in every British Colony, and that is all that we want. By a dissolution of the Lower House we can most effectually ascertain what the opinion of the public is.
Judging by their platform utterances, my honorable friends opposite do not wish to do that. They merely desire a double dissolution.
– If the Government went to the country, and came back with a majority in the other Chamber, would honorable senators opposite ratify the verdict of the people ?
– I will answer that question in a moment. Sir John Forrest continued -
I say that if the two Houses cannot agree, they should meet together and settle the matter in dispute. The world has not been made for to-day or to-morrow, and we are not dependent for our existence or our well-being upon the passing of any measure immediately. If there is a grave dispute, no one loses much by delay. Under this Constitution the Senate will be con tinually changing.
– The honorable senator forgets that the Convention did not adopt that view.
– I know what it adopted. It adopted a provision which permits of a double dissolution being brought about in certain circumstances. Why has there been this great change of view? Sir John Forrest also said -
Every three years one-half of the members will go out. If they are opposed to what is the popular view they will not be re-elected, and in six years it will be possible for the people to alter the whole personnel of the Senate.
Mr. Peacock. ; The Government may be dead in the meantime.
Sir JOHN FORREST. That does not matter. We have to think about the country, and whether I am in the Government or you are in the Government the country will go on. This desire to coerce the one branch of the Legislature is wholly opposed to my ideas of constitutional Government.
Further on, Sir John Forrest said -
Those honorable members who do not like the Upper House in their own Colonies forget to tell us that this Upper House is to be elected by the same people on the same franchise as the House of Representatives, and that it will be more representative of the masses of Australia than the Lower House itself, which will only represent certain districts.
Is it because those concluding words of Sir John Forrest have come true that he has changed his view? Is it because the masses of Australia are represented here more truly than in the other House that he has altered his opinion ?
– Are what?
– The masses are represented here more truly than elsewhere.
– The surplus votes which I got were more than the total number that the honorable senator represents.
– Then is the honorable senator a Unificationist?
– By no means.
– Is Senator Bakhap a Unificationist?
– Does he accept the Constitution as it stands, which gives equal representation to all the States?
– Most decidedly I do.
– Then the honorable senator must recognise that the
Senate represents the people of the country.
– It represents the people as segregated in one way.
– Is it because it has been found that Sir John Forrest’s words have come true that honorable senators opposite have changed their opinion of the Senate ? We cannot probe into Cabinet secrets, but if Sir John Forrest still holds the same opinion of the Senate, it is a pity that he does not give utterance to it, and contradict the views expressed by his colleagues from public platforms. Is it because the “ hob-nailed boots of Labour “ have been heard resounding on the floor of the Senate that he has altered his opinion?
– Where are the hobnailed boots ?
– That is a figure of speech. The saying has been attributed to a leading member of another place that “ the hob-nailed boots of Labour would never be heard on the floor of the Senate.” But that gentleman miscalculated the Australian public. The hobnailed boots of Labour have, figuratively speaking, been heard here four times as loud as the boots of the Liberals on the other side.
– The honorable senator could not find a hob-nailed boot in the whole Senate.
– It is a remarkable thing that the great Constitutional authorities in the Government, who today would only be satisfied with a double dissolution, a few years ago argued that a provision for deadlocks was unnecessary, and that the Senate would never require to be dissolved. The explanation can only be that the Democracy of Australia has risen in its might, and in the last two elections placed four Labour members in this Chamber for every one Liberal elected.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was speaking of the claim of Ministers that the only way out of the present difficulty is to obtain a double dissolution. Why do Ministers argue that the Senate does not represent the people of Australia as well as the House of Representatives does? Senator Clemons is a representative of one of the smaller States. It is well known that those
States would never have joined the Federation except for equal representation in the Senate. Those who are supporting the hue-and-cry for a double dissolution, if they come from the smaller States, are in an absolutely inconsistent position.
– We do not join in any such hue-and-cry when we point out that a double dissolution is the constitutional device for ending a deadlock.
– But there is no deadlock, and there is no reason why there should be a deadlock if the Government will behave in a reasonable way.
– I quite admit that technically, under the Federal Constitution, there can be no deadlock.
– There cannot be unless the Government behave in an unreasonable manner. The only possible way out of the difficulty is for the Government to bring forward measures which are calculated to advance the interests of the country, and to which both sides can agree.
– Who is to be the judge of whether measures are in the best interests of the country, the Opposition or the Government?
– Does the Minister claim that the Government are the only judges in view of the present position? The Government are supported by thirtyseven members against thirty-six in the one House, whilst in the other they have only seven against twenty-nine. He must admit, therefore, that the country has not spoken in favour of the present Government.
– Why did the late Government resign, then ?
– The late Government accepted the inevitable, and admitted that it could not carry on the government of the country under such conditions. The best policy for the Government to pursue was for them to meet the Labour party in a spirit of compromise. But instead of that, we have brought before us a document embodying the proposals of the Government, which axe violently antagonistic to the platform on which the members of the Opposition were returned. It must be admitted that the chief reason for bringing forward these proposals was to occasion a quarrel between the two Houses. Those gentlemen who, at the last election, fought us bitterly in regard to our demand for increased constitutional powers did so on the ground that those powers given to the Federal Government would do away with State rights, and reduce the powers of the State Parliaments. They claimed that we were Unificationists. But at present they are the Unificationists.
– Does the honorable senator really believe that I am one?
– If not the honorable senator must accept the alternative.
– What alternative?
– That the Senate, because it represents the States, has an equal voice in the government of the country with the other House.
– But it has to submit to the terms of the Constitution.
– It has when the occasion arises. I submit that there was but one way out of the difficulty, and that was for the Government to bring forward measures to which both parties could subscribe. Senator McColl says that the country is waiting for great measures to be passed. Do these proposals of the Government represent a great national policy ? Certainly not. Does a proposal to do away with the provision of the Electoral Act requiring newspaper articles at election time to be signed, amount to a great national problem ? Is the restoration of the postal vote a national problem ?
– The honorable senator’s party has made it a big one.
– The honorable senator has endeavoured to exaggerate the importance of it.
– If it is not an important question, will the honorable senator enable us to pass it?
– If my honorable friend can show me how we can restore the postal vote, and still avoid the corruption which surrounded the use of it - if he can show me how it can be applied to the sick and those who live a long way from the nearest polling booth without being corruptly used - I shall be prepared to vote for it.
– The honorable senator’s party never proved that there was corruption.
– That has been thrashed out over and over again. If the honorable senator can show a way out, I shall be willing to vote for the postal vote being restored. But there must be safeguards against corruption.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the obligation is on him to show that the postal vote was corruptly used)
– We had a great deal to say about that on other occasions. It cannot be too often impressed on honorable senators that there cannot be an early appeal to the country by means of a double dissolution. This branch of the Legislature represents Australia, just as much as the other branch does, and represents it by a louder voice. Senator Millen will agree to that, I am sure.
– I will do nothing of tile kind.
– We are twentynine to seven in the Senate, and thirtyseven to thirty-eight in the other House.
– But the honorable senator’s party represents a minority of the people of Australia.
– Then the honorable senator does not believe in the Federal Constitution ? Why does he not bring forward a proposal to alter it, and give us Unification instead of Federation ?
– I do not want that at all, but the Constitution contemplated that the Senate would be a States House and not a party machine.
– The logical inference from that interjection is that the honorable senator does believe in Unification, because he believes that the smaller States should not have equal representation with the larger States in the Senate.
– I do not think that that is his opinion. If it is, some of us will differ from him.
– Allow me to state my own logic.
– If we grant for a moment that the only way out of the present peculiar position is a double dissolution, let us have it. I shall vote for a double dissolution so long as it is to be on a big national issue. Let us have it on a national issue and not a trumpery issue, such as the restoration of the postal vote, or the abolition of the provision for the. signing of articles in the press. Let us have it on a big national issue such as the land tax or the Commonwealth Bank. Our honorable friends opposite fought the land tax tooth and nail. They fought it in the country from a thousand platforms, and when our party was given a mandate by the people, by a big majority in both Houses, to impose a graduated land tax, our opponents carried their fight into the halls of the Legislature. In this and another place they bitterly fought our proposal day and night. A majority, if not every one of them, declared here, as well as in the country before we were returned three years ago, that a land tax was absolutely opposed to their idea of fairness to the States. Why do not my honorable friends bring forward some issue such as that, which all the people of Australia could understand ? If they want an issue to fight on surely that would be a good one on which to appeal to the people. That would be a real live issue which the people could understand. Another big issue on which the Labour party was returned three years ago by a generous majority in both Houses was the establishment of a Commonwealth Bank. Every one of my friends in both Houses fought that proposal. Why do they not bring down a Bill to close the Commonwealth Bank, or to repeal the land tax, if they want to bring about this muchtalkedof double dissolution? If they would bring forward a proposal to repeal the land tax I am satisfied that our party would welcome an appeal to the country. My honorable friends, if they would not repeal the laud tax, would emasculate it, or spoil the value of it by administration if they could; get back from the country with a majority in both Houses.
– Are you against the proposal to give to a State the amount raised within its territory by the land tax?
– I am .not against that proposal if it is constitutional j but I do not know that it is. I do not know that you could allocate to each State the amount gathered from the land tax.
– Yes, you could.
– The land tax is generally collected all over Australia, and must, I take it, go into the general revenue. However, that is only a side issue. I do not believe that any honorable senator on this side would oppose an issue of that kind.
– You advocated the land tax on a side issue, for you talked about it breaking up the big estates.
– We said that the land tax would do two things, and that was to incidentally - or, if you like, directly - break up big estates, and to give revenue. My honorable friends opposite are not honest and consistent. Here is a big issue which the people of Australia could understand, and on which they would have something to decide. If my honorable friends want a double dissolution as the only way out of the present difficulty, let them bring forward a Bill of that kind. In the document which formulates their policy we do not find any proposal to interfere with the land tax, but we know that at least one of the candidates on the side of my honorable friend in the last Federal election let the cat out of the bag when he said that he was opposed to the land tax, and would repeal it if he had his way. It may be that a number of others would do the same thing. It may be that if our honorable friends opposite had got a majority, even although they did not go as a party to the country before and advocate the repeal of the land tax, they would repeal it or spoil the efficacy of it by administration. Of course, in the present position of affairs they know perfectly well that that is impossible. The subject of a double dissolution may not be palatable, but it is the most interesting question which can be talked about at present. I take leave to doubt that it is palatable to the general public of Australia. I believe that if they could be polled to-morrow they would say “Let the Government proceed on national lines. Get some way out of your difficulty without putting the country to the expense of another election which might, or might not, alter things.” We might come back in exactly the same position numerically in the other House, or in both. There might be absolutely no change. Yesterday one of the great newspapers of this city published an article stating that a single dissolution would be no way out of the present difficulty. Today it published a well-written and evidently well-thought-out article, stating that a double dissolution would not end the difficulty, and to-morrow we may get a third article stating what, in the opinion of the writer, is the only way out of the difficulty. I suppose we shall find that the only certain and feasible way out, to use the concluding words of to-day’s article, will be the bringing in of the initiative and referendum. There is another way out of the difficulty. If this powerful journal wishes for an almost immediate way out of the difficulty, let it advise the party it supports to take the other House to the country. There is no neces sity for the Senate to go to the country, because one party has a big majority here. Let the party which is working on the majority of the Speaker only in the other House be content to submit to the country the question as to which side shall govern.
– What will happen if they win then?
– Let this great organ which is throwing for the moment all the weight of its influence in the country on the side of the present Government throw all its weight on the side of thepresent Opposition for a few weeks, and a way out of the difficulty will be found. Because, with the aid of the power it exercises in Victoria our party would come back almost for a certainty with a majority in the other House. I recommend to the writer of these very fine articles that that is another way out of the trouble. If this great organ, which has made the scheme of the initiativeand the referendum one of its pet projects - in fact, its pet project - will support the party which is pledged to bring in the initiative and the referendum, and if that party should get a majority there will be a way out of the difficulty. The pet project of this newspaper, I repeat, is the introduction of the initiative and the referendum, yet it is opposing the only party which is pledged to bring in the initiative and the referendum, and supporting the Government, though only for system. There is also another great cry of this powerful journal, which is supporting the Government, though only for the time being. Heaven knows where it will be this day three months or six months, remembering how it has jumped about in its politics during the last year or two. There is, or there was, another great cry of this powerful journal, and that is an immediate revision of the Tariff. I am a Protectionist. I want to see the day speedily arrive when the placard “ Made in Australia “ will be the most powerful passport to the pockets of the people. But in this Parliament we have two parties; one party is distinctly pledged to an immediate revision of the Tariff if it gets the power to do it, while the other contains a large number of the leading Free Traders in Australia. I think that Senator Clemons will admit that many of his speeches during the last election vere pretty strongly tinged with ideas of Free Trade.
– I have always regarded Senator Clemons as nearly as strong a Free Trader as is Senator Pearce.
– The honorable senator is not quite right. If he had said “ nearly as strong a Free Trader today as Senator Pearce was a few years ago,” he would have been correct. Senator Pearce has given his allegiance to his party, and is, as the honorable senator knows, a loyal adherent of it. He pledged himself, in common with other members of this party, to an immediate revision of the Tariff. Why is it that a powerful organ, whose three cries were the initiative and the referendum, Elective Ministries, and an immediate revision of the Tariff, is now found supporting the other party, which has not’ the remotest intention of immediately revising the Tariff, or of even remedying anomalies, until it is absolutely compelled to do so? One of the duties of the Inter-State Commission will be to gather information to be used in formulating a scheme of Tariff revision or in remedying anomalies. Now, it is a significant thing that one of the gentlemen appointed on the Commission is an ardent Free Trader. What a volte face, to use the words of Senator McColl ! Only a few weeks before Mr. Piddington was appointed to the Inter-State Commission he was almost howled down by all my Fusion friends and the Fusion press in Australia as a proposed Judge of the High Court.
– Why did not your party make the appointment?
– When Mr. Piddington was appointed a Judge of the High Court, a studied insult was arranged to be given to him, if he ever took his seat, by the leading legal fraternity. They were going to give him the absence of the welcome; not that welcome which we know is, as a matter of custom, always given to a new Judge upon taking his seat on the Bench.
– Are we the leading legal fraternity ?
– The honorable senator would not like me to class him as one of the small fry of the legal fraternity.
– I thought you were talking politics. What have we to do with the legal fraternity?
– I must be the judge of what is politics. We often hear the honorable senator talking of things which are not politics. I have heard him do that on the platform.
– You misunderstand me.
– It is politics when I charge the Government with having some purpose in view in appointing Mr. Piddington to the Inter-State Commission. He may have been the best man to appoint. He may have had more qualifications than any other applicant, but it is a significant thing that when he was appointed by the previous Government to another position not one whit more important - a position which does not require any more legal knowledge, on the very admission of the Argus, which fought him at the time - his appointment was strongly objected to. The Argus at the time admitted that, as regards the work it will have to do, the Inter-State Commission is just as important a body as is the High Court. Yet the Fusion press and the leading Fusionists in Australia, including, I understand, the present AttorneyGeneral, were violently opposed to the appointment of Mr. Piddington to the High Court. A few weeks later our honorable friends made him a member of the Inter-State Commission. Why? Because he was a good Free Trader, I tike it. That must be about the only reason.
– Is that why your Government appointed him as a Judge ?
– Fiscalism does not enter into the High Court question, surely.
– There is a vast difference between the Judiciary and commerce.
– There are a number of other subjects- upon which one is very much tempted to speak. One is known as the Tasmanian grant. It specially concerns me, as a representative of Tasmania. I make bold to say that if it were not for certain statements made during the last election on the subject of the Tasmanian grant, it is very probable that two or three of the honorable senators facing me to-night would not have been returned to the Senate. Three Fusion candidates were elected to the Senate for Tasmania. If there was one thing which more than another operated in their favour it was the cry that if the Fusion party were returned to power Tasmania would get the balance of £400,000j which our friends said from every platform in the State the Fisher Government had robbed her of.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that I said anything connected with that matter ?
– I will accept Senator Clemons’ denial and apologize to him if he asserts that he did not refer to it.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I never mentioned the subject from the beginning to the end of the campaign.
– I am glad to hear that statement. As a believer in fair play between political parties, the honorable senator should be sorry with me that such statements were made on the authority of the executive of the party that was seeking his return in Tasmania.
– There is nothing wrong with the statement. It is true.
– What is true?
– It is true that Tasmania should have received £900,000 and received only £500,000.
– If the statement was not made by Senators Clemons, Bakhap, and Keating, I am prepared to accept their denial, but it certainly was stated in every newspaper opposed to the Labour party, and in pamphlets issued by paid organizers of the Liberal party, that the Fisher Government had robbed Tasmania of £400,000, and that if the Fusionists were returned to power Tasmania would get the money. For the information of Senator Clemons, I quote the following from a pamphlet issued by the Liberal League in Tasmania, and authorized by Mary Taylor, of 113 Macquarie-street, Hobart. The statement is made in the form of a dialogue between a Labourite and a Liberal - “ Labourite.” - Why did you have to bring Trenwith over? “ Liberal.” - For the same reason that the Scotch made Gladstone, an Englishman, one of their members. He is the best man in the Commonwealth to represent Denison. .If he had been our member Fisher could not have robbed us of ^400,000 Federal grant.
Among the reactionary proposals of this accidental Government, one’ is to substitute contract for day labour in the carrying out or’ Federal public works. In making this proposal, the Government are not benefiting by the recent experience of other Liberal Governments. I have here a statement made only the other day in the Tasmanian Parliament by the Minister of Works, Mr. Mulcahy, who can by no stretch of imagination be called a supporter of the Labour party. In giving the Legislative Assembly his annual Works statement, and speaking of certain railways, he said -
It is reported that in the completion of this work by day labour good results have been obtained, a thoroughly good class of work having been carried out, the cost of which has been kept down to the lowest, consistent with efficiency ; and the Department, by having a free hand, was able, with advantage, to carry out minor deviations which could not have been done with the same advantage if the work had been let out by contract.
That is the experience of a Liberal Government within the last twelve months of carrying out Government work by day labour.
– It is the experience also of the Queensland Government.
– I am reminded that it is also the experience of the Queensland Government. It might be a good thing from the point of view of the Labour party, but it will certainly be a bad thing in the interests of the Australian taxpayer, if the day-labour system in the construction of public works is replaced by the old system under which favoured contractors who sweated their employes were allowed to scoop big fortunes out of the pockets of the people of Australia. With proper supervision - and there is no reason why a municipal council, or a Government, should not be able to secure proper supervision as well as a private contractor - public works can be Carried out more quickly and more efficiently by day labour than by contract. Dealing with another railway proposal, which is about to be commenced in Tasmania, Mr. Mulcahy, at the conclusion of the statement to which I referred, said -
All the survey work has been completed, and the construction work will immediately be put in hand. The work will be carried out by day labour similarly to that on the BurnieFlowerdale extension.
I have only one or two words to say in regard to the land tax. I am very pleased that the present position of political parties prohibits the Government from doing what no doubt some of them would like to do, and repealing the land tax, or destroying its efficiency. If there is one State of the six comprising the Federation which has benefited, and is today benefiting, directly, by the imposition of the Federal graduated land tax, it is the State I have the honour to represent. My honorable friends opposite who fought so bitterly against the imposition of the tax should be honest enough to admit that. I heard Senator Clemons, then on this side of the House, speaking strongly against the tax, and I feel sure that he honestly believed that the proposal to impose it was a bad one. I think that, at the time, Senator Bakhap, though not standing as a candidate in Federal politics, was also opposed to the tax.
– I said that it was an untimely invasion of the realm of State taxation.
– That is a very good phrase. If the honorable senator leaves here on Friday, he can, in eighteen hours, reach Burnie, on the north-west coast of Tasmania, and if he goes for 9 or 10 miles along the railway line running out from that port, he will find that there is something going on there which should convert him, and should cause him to admit that if the invasion of the realm of State taxation was untimely, it has at least proved valuable. There are today over 100 men employed on one portion of a big estate held by absentee owners on the other side of the world, and allowed for many years past to remain in a state of nature. As absentees, the owners of this estate are now obliged to pay 50 per cent, more taxation than is imposed upon resident owners. Their total income from the estate was about £8,000 a year, and now that they find ;that the Federal land tax absorbs £6,000 of that amount, they have been obliged “ to get a move on.” For the last forty or fifty years they have allowed thousands of acres of splendid rich red soil, 8 or 10 miles distant from one of the best ports in Australia, and connected with it by rail, to remain in a state of nature.
– Land settlement has been proceeding there for years.
– The honorable senator knows well that it has been in spots - 50 acres here, and 100 .acres 4 or 5 miles away, with a virgin forest between the selections. If he could overcome his party bitterness, the honorable senator would have to admit that, because of the imposition of the Federal land tax, the estate to which I refer is now being brought into cultivation. Thousands of pounds have been earned in wages by men employed by the absentee company own ing the estate, to clear the land that it may be brought into the highest state of development. One splendid result is that numbers of young would-be farmers in Tasmania, who before were never able to get any of this land on reasonable terms of purchase or rental, are now being offered reasonable terms to take it up. Why is this? It is because the company are now obliged to do something with the estate if it is not to be an incubus rather than a source of profit to them. They are spending thousands of pounds in clearing the land, and propose to let it in farms of 100 or 150 acres, on reasonable terms, to those who are willing to take it up. On the north coast of Tasmania, the same company owns other large tracts of land, and they are planting a large area as an orchard, and if the experiment proves that the land is suitable for orchards, we are informed by the manager of the company that present operations are only a small instalment of what is to follow. . I say that this is directly and solely attributable to the operation of the Federal land tax. If there is any State in which the people have before their eyes a concrete instance of the efficiency of the tax to do what it was intended to do, and what the party on this side said it would do, it is the State of Tasmania. I was returned as a strong believer in and supporter of the land tax. It was one of the foremost planks of the platform upon which I was returned, and I should be recreant to the trust of the electors if, by assisting my honorable friends opposite to secure a double dissolution, I imperilled that tax, and other important planks of the platform to which I subscribed, and on which I was returned. Why should I, in the circumstances, assist my honorable friends opposite out of the difficulty they find themselves in ? We listened recently to a violent attack from the leader of the Government in the Senate upon a Federal official, Mr. Ryland. If all that the honorable senator said regarding Mr. Ryland’s capacity to fill the position he now occupies was true, the logical sequence should be that his services should be dispensed with. Senator Millen used that gentleman’s name in reply to a remark made by Senator Pearce, who affirmed that one of the cries raised during the recent election was that the late Government had been guilty of appointing its supporters to the highest and most responsible positions.
Yet the whole of that charge boiled itself down to the appointment of one man.
– It did not.
– Will the Minister of Defence name some of the other gentlemen who’ were appointed to important positions by the late Government?
– I gave a list at the time.
– Will the Minister name some of the other officials who were appointed to responsible positions by the late Government and who were unfit for them?
– Mr. Campbell was one. I gave a list of seven or eight.
– But the Minister did not say that those seven or eight officers were unfit to fill the positions to which they were appointed. He merely said that they were supporters of the Labour party. His attack was chiefly directed to Mr. Ryland. Let me recall the names of a few of the gentlemen who were appointed by the late Government to important positions and who never could be said to be supporters of the Labour party. I notice that no reference has been made to Mr. Denison Miller, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. Was he a supporter of the Labour party ? Was Mr. McKay, the Land Tax Commissioner? Was Mr. Duffy or Mr. Powers, each of whom has been appointed to the High Court Bench ?
– Ask them about the appoiutment of Mr. Swinburne.
– Exactly. Immediately my honorable friends came into power they appointed to the Inter-State Commission one of the bitterest opponents of the Labour party in Australia. Yet I have not heard any member of our party question his appointment. So long as they believe him to be fitted for the office which he fills they would not question his appointment, notwithstanding that he is of the same political faith as my honorable friends opposite.
– Who is that?
- Mr. Swinburne. Although that gentleman is known to be a bitter partisan I have not heard a member of our party question his appointment. But many of the attacks made upon the late Government by the Fusion press and by paid canvassers during the last elections were made on the ground that they had appointed their own political friends to important positions in the
Commonwealth. But our critics were careful to say nothing as to whether or not those friends were capable. There are two questions of vital importance contained in the Ministerial statement of policy. The first is the proposal to exempt the rural workers from the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - to deny them access to the Arbitration Court. Upon that question the Leader of the Opposition spoke feelingly this afternoon. I support every statement that he made regarding the necessity for granting these workers an opportunity to place their grievances before the Arbitration Court. I cannot go back so far as my honorable friend, but I know that the number fourteen always has a nasty sound in my ears, because when I was fourteen years of age I had to work fourteen hours a day for 14s. a week, and to keep myself. Fourteen was my unlucky number. The condition of the rural workers in Tasmania has not improved very much since then. At that time I have a vivid recollection of working in the off season for 2s. a day, out of which I had to keep myself. I have been obliged to sleep in the stall of a stable, and also in a building which had been used as a fowl-house a few days previously, but which had been cleaned out for the accommodation of the hands who followed the travelling thresher. Thousands of rural workers to-day do not enjoy very much better conditions. Within the past two or three years it was my duty to go out among the shearers of Tasmania, where I found wealthy squatters housing them in stalls that had been occupied by horses only a few days previously. When honorable senators opposite say that the rural workers are enjoying the best conditions, they know perfectly well that they are making an incorrect statement. They know that although the wages of these workers have been increased, their conditions of employment are still susceptible of a great deal of improvement. When they talk about freedom, and in the next breath propose to deny the rural workers access to the Arbitration Court, I am convinced that they do not know the meaning of the word ‘ ‘ freedom . ‘ ‘ Another question which they are anxious to get before the Senate as a bone of contention which may bring about a double dissolution, is that of preference to unionists. Whilst that is a vital matter to the party to which I belong, it does not stand on the same plane as does the land tax or the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank. I ask those who decry preference to unionists whether they realize what they are doing when they talk of abolishing it. I know that one honorable senator opposite does possess a knowledge of the conditions under which the miners have to work. He is the only supporter of the Government in this Chamber who has that knowledge, and I wonder if he subscribes to the doctrine that preference to unionists must be abolished if any of the funds of the miners’ organization are devoted to political purposes.
– I do; make no mistake about it.
– Then the honorable senator has gone back on the men who first assisted him into political life.
– He was a revolutionary Socialist at one time.
– He was. The first time I had the pleasure of meeting the honorable senator was about the year 1894 or 1895.
– He was a red-flagger.
– Yes; he was a red-ragger. Senator Bakhap will doubtless remember the occasion to which I refer.
– Did I ever belong to the honorable senator’s party?
– If the honorable senator will permit me, I prefer. to proceed in my own way. About the year 1894 or 1895 the honorable senator and myself met for the first time as personal friends. We have been the best of friends since, although we were then political friends also. The only difference between us at that time was that the honorable senator was so far in advance of me as an out-and-out supporter of the doctrines of Labour that I could not catch him.
– What? Does the honorable senator say that?
– I do. We met at a mining conference in Launceston. The honorable senator was sent from one mining district and I was sent from another, to meet delegates from other mining centres. I think that the object of our meeting was to suggest to the Government of the day the wisdom of framing new regulations for the mining industry. During the discussions which took place at that conference, whenever an opportunity occurred, Senator Bakhap, with his well-known eloquence, spoke on advanced and democratic lines.
– Can the honorable senator tell me one item of the Labour platform which cropped up during any of those discussions?
– Yes. There was a proposal that- the Tasmanian Government should grant to a private company what was regarded by some as a valuable concession. That Government was being asked for a concession to construct a land grant railway-
– Does the honorable senator say that I am in favour of land grant railways now ?
– The honorable senator asked me to mention one item in the Labour party’s platform which cropped up at any of our discussions at that conference. At the time of which I speak I was editing a little paper in a mining camp, and I recollect that I was not nearly so advanced and radical as was Senator Bakhap. For instance, I held that under certain conditions, such as then existed in Tasmania, a land grant railway was justified. Here was a portion of that State which was absolutely isolated from the remainder of it, so far as railway communication was concerned. Owing to this circumstance, residents of that locality were obliged to pay up to 50 per cent, more for the necessaries of life than they would otherwise have done. The Liberal Government which was in office had got the State into such a bad position financially that they could not afford to build this railway. A private syndicate came forward with a proposal to build the railway in return for certain concessions. Amongst these was one that a certain quantity of land along the route of the line should be granted to the company. They also proposed that, seeing that the line would run through a mineral belt, they should pay a percentage to the Government of Tasmania on the gross value of the minerals raised on that land. I and others held that that would be just as valuable to the Government of Tasmania as the then existing leasing system; because the State was then leasing out mineral areas at so much per acre.
– Would the honorable senator take up a similar attitude now ?
– I remember advocating that view, and others who were pretty strong Democrats also urged that the concession should be granted. But Senator Bakhap did not help me.
– I have not changed if the honorable senator has.
– He dealt with the question pretty vigorously, and showed himself to be a strong supporter of some of the chief doctriues of the Labour party.
– Did not the Hobart Mercury oppose the land grant railway at that time ?
– The M ercury would do anything.
– Anything consistent with its general policy of wisdom and justice.
-Of course the honorable senator has as much right to his views as I have to mine, and he is a very strong exponent of any view that he takes up. When he was first returned to the State Parliament he declared himself to be as good as a Labour man. In fact, the executive of the Labour party in Tasmania thought of selecting him as a Labour candidate.
– When was that?
-He was not actually selected, but in consideration of his well-known advanced views his claims were considered.
– In the very first speech I made I slated the Labour party.
– Yes, but under what circumstances? That was after the Labour executive had chosen four candidates, and had not selected the honorable senator. I believe he was asked to allow himself to be nominated.
– I was not asked.
– Did he not enter the State Parliament as a “good as Labour man “ ?
– Yes, the honorable senator distinctly told the miners that, although he was not a Labour candidate, he was as good as a Labour man. Indeed, as I have said,he was seriously spoken of as a suitable man to choose as a Labour candidate. We found our mistake out afterwards.
– The honorable senator is completely at sea.
- Senator Bakhap is now opposed to preference to unionists; but he knows perfectly well that there is one particular class in the industrial life of Australia who will suffer severely in respect to political rights if preference is abolished. The members of the miners’ associations are keen politicians. If the proposals of this Government in regard to preference are passed it will mean that those miners will either have to give up their right to preference before the Arbitration Court or surrender their political rights. That is to say, this Government will give political rights to a naturalized alien, but will take them away from a large section of Australian citizens.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Absolute nonsense.
– They will either have to give up their political rights or their claim for preference.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - They need not do the one nor the other as long as they act fairly and squarely.
– I do not know what else giving up preference means. Senator Bakhap knows what a miner’s, life is. He knows the dangers of their occupation. He has been a miner himself. He knows what it is to work underground, to carry his life in his hands, to remain for eight hours out of the twenty-four in uncomfortable surroundings which in some cases are absolutely destructive of health. Only a few months ago an awful calamity occurred in Tasmania, when forty-five miners were suffocated, and their bodies were only extricated weeks after the calamity. The ventilation of mines is certainly better than it used to be, and that any improvements have been effected is due, not to the non-unionists, but to the unionists. Senator Bakhap knows that as well as I do. He knows that it is the unions of Australia that have secured improvements in the ventilation of mines. Twenty-five years ago to work in some mines was tantamount to sowing the seeds of phthisis or miners’ complaint within two or three years, and even a strong man could not last more than four or five. There are in Australia to-day hundreds of men walking about suffering from this terrible complaint, who were formerly as fine specimens of physical manhood as could be seen anywhere. Since then great improvements have been made in the ventilation of mines, and who have been responsible for them ? I ask the onetime miner now sitting on the Government benches for a reply.
– The honorable senator is dreaming.
– Senator Bakhap must be dreaming, or he would not be where he is. Will he give me a straightout answer to the question - who is responsible for these improvements, the miners belonging to the unions or the non-unionists ?
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The Liberals, who gave thepeople every right they enjoy to-day.
– Every man who has kept his eyes open, and has thought, knows perfectly well that such safeguards as we have secured in the matter of the ventilation of mines and the safeguarding of the lives of miners have been attained by the miners’ unions. There are in Australia to-day hundreds of miners who, because they are unionists and took a prominent part in getting these improvements in their working conditions, were blacklisted in the fields in which they were living. That is a well-known fact which cannot be disputed. Such improvements as have been obtained are not benefiting the members of the unions alone. The nonunionists, Mr. Packer’s brigade - the free workers, as they call themselves - are deriving as much benefit from the improved conditions as are the men who suffered in bringing them about. My honorable friend opposite, if he knows what the mining conditions in Australia have been for the last fifty years, is aware of that as well as I am. If these miners want to continue to play a part in the political life of their country; if they wish to advocate the interests of the candidates who are pledged to their own political beliefs, if they wish to spend even a shilling out of the funds, they are to be denied preference to unionists. Looking at the other phase of the question, it must be accepted that if we are to make the arbitration law effective, we must have preference to members of the organizations. If it is intended to sweep away preference to unionists, and drive the unfortunate rural workers, who are being sweated in many places nearly as badly as they were sweated thirty or forty years ago, from the the benefit of the Arbitration Court I shall welcome doing away with the Arbitration Act. I would just as soon have no Arbitration Act. There is one more question I wish to touch upon, and I am 6orry that the Tasmanian representative in the Government does not happen to be here at the moment. It is a question seriously affecting the interests of the State I represent. For some years the residents of Tasmania have suffered very serious inconvenience, because of the absence of anything like a decent steamer service with the mainland. They are affected as regards fares and freights. There is a consideration which brings the mainland into the matter, and that is the carriage of mails. A considerable sum, £13,000 I think, is paid by the Commonwealth for the carriage of mails under the contract with the combine known as the Union Steam-ship Company and the Huddart Parker Company. The contract will expire very shortly, and it is stated in wellinformed circles that the present Government intends to enter into another contract with the combine for a term of years, if it improves the service. I, like every other Tasmanian, want to see the service improved. We want to see at least another Loongana put on the service, instead of the old Rotomahana, which an honorable colleague once very aptly said here is qualified for an old-age pension. We want to see another Loongana, or a vessel equal to her in speed and capacity, take the place of the Rotomahana. Tasmania will be paying a pretty dear price, and to some extent those on the mainland who do business with that State will also pay a pretty dear price for the improvement of the service if a long contract is entered into, unless there is a very stringent clause in the agreement binding the companies down to certain fares and freights, not more than the present ones. Unless the contract is surrounded with very strong safeguards, our experience of the combine leads us to expect that, knowing the people of Tasmania and business men on the mainland will be at its mercy, up will go the fares and the freights as soon as it is able to raise them . It would have been far better for the Government, if it wanted to give a fair deal to Tasmania, to institute a Commonwealth line of steamers. That, I know, will be called State Socialism.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Perhaps it would be as successful as the Western Australian line of steam-ships, which is a dead loss.
– We have quite conflicting statements about that line of State steamers. I have no doubt some of my Western Australian friends will be able to effectively combat many of the statements made by the other side regarding the question of State Socialism in their State. As regards mail services, nearly all the States on the mainland are linked up by railways. Seeing that Tasmania cannot be linked to the Commonwealth by that means, the Government should take the next best step to do justice to that State, and that is by establishing a Commonwealth-owned line of steamers, so that the State shall not be dependent upon the caprice of any steam -ship company or any combine of two companies such as has had the State in its grip during the last few years.
– It should have exactly the same facilities as have been given to the other States.
– Exactly. I am very pleased that Senator Clemons, who represents Tasmania in the Ministry, has returned to the chamber. In his absence I was referring to a statement which some persons believed to be authoritative, that there is every possibility of a contract for a term of years being entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the Union Steam-ship Company, or the Huddard Parker Company, or the combine, for the carriage of the mails between the mainland and Tasmania. If that is so he will remember that only last year he was one of a deputation who objected to a long contract being entered into.
– That is not what I objected to.
– Am I wrong in making that statement?
– I never mentioned the question of a long contract last year.
– The honorable senator objected to any contract being entered into.
– You can see all I said in Hansard.
– I know that the honorable senator took pretty strong objections to the combine as it was then carrying out the service. I recognise that he wants to do the best he can for Tasmania in this connexion, but I think it would be only fair if he could - of course, without giving away Cabinet secrets - meet the other representatives of Tasmania to have a sort of consultation, and make suggestions, or state their views. It does not matter which party we represent when it is a question of conserving the interests of the State. There is room for a consultation of members of both parties that come from Tasmania.
– Is there any possible improvement of the Tasmanian service outside the State-ownership of steamers, of which you would approve ?
– Yes, there is, though I cannot go into details now. There are certainly vast improvements which could be made in the present service; but, undoubtedly, I would favour a State-owned line.
– I know that; but would you, in any circumstances, approve of any arrangement which was not based upon that principle?
– It is the only solution.
– I do not agree that it is the only solution.
– I am glad to hearthat.
– But I do say it would be the best and the safest solution. After all, what would there be so violently antagonistic to the cherished principles of our friends in the Fusion party in instituting a Commonwealth-owned line of steamers ? We have State-owned railways carrying passengers and mails, and, to some extent, goods, in several Statesof the Union. We cannot, I repeat, have a railway to Tasmania. I think, whether the Government is opposed to State Socialism or not, there is every reason for making an exception in the case of Tasmania in the interests of its people, and to come down with a proposal for a Commonwealth-owned line of steamers. If the Government will take that course, they will do far greater- benefit to all the people of Tasmania, whether they are supporters of the Labour party or the Liberal party, than they will by finessing, even in the cleverest possible way, with the present companies, and getting the best terms they can. That view is, I am quite sure, held not only by myself, and the Labour party, but by a majority of the people of Tasmania. If they had been polled on thatone question at the recent election, I am quite satisfied what the verdict would have been. But our friends opposite were opposed to the idea. There was a large number of questions upon which the election hinged, but I feel satisfied that, no matter which party they support, a majority of the people of the State would favour a Commonwealth-owned line of steamers being established, because, after all, while there may be temporary expedients or palliatives, that would be the only safe way out of the difficulty. It would safeguard Tasmania against the troubles by. which she has been inconvenienced for very many years through having a very inferior steam-ship service to the mainland.
– You know very well that I cannot agree with you on that point. I Bay that the Tasmanian people want mail facilities, rapid transit, and conveniences of travel. I cannot agree with you that they can only get those things by a State-owned line.
– I do not say that they can only get them in that way, but I say that it would be the safest way out of the difficulty. I, perhaps, ought to apologize for having detained the Senate at such length. I can only say, in conclusion, that when the repealing measures are brought forward I shall be found with other members of the Labour party strenuously opposing the repeal of such things as preference to unionists, and the restoration of the postal vote - unless it can be shown that the exercise of the franchise can be safeguarded - and the other measures which the present Government have expressed their intention to repeal. As a final word, I repeat that there is a better way out of the difficulty with which this Parliament is now confronted than that outlined in the Ministerial statement. This statement is merely an invitation to the Opposition to fight the Government and bring about a dissolution of some kind. If the Government will listen to the voice of reason, they will cease the braggadocio which has been indulged in by their leaders from every platform, and their challenges to fight the Opposition, who are stronger than they are, and will bring forward a programme of non-contentious legislation with which both parties can occupy themselves beneficially for the next year or two. Amongst such legislation may be mentioned a measure to establish the initiative and referendum, and a measure for an early revision of the Tariff, and not merely the rectification of a few anomalies. If the
Government will take this advice, they will find that in the Senate we shall not have a party of twenty-nine ranged against a party of seven, but that legislation will be proceeded with in the most amicable manner, and we shall no longer witness the spectacle which we have seen during the last few weeks of both Houses of this Parliament doing nothing for the electors who sent them here.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mullan) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to ask the Leader of the Government if it is possible to get an answer to any question, to say whether, after the debate on the Address-in-Reply is finished, the Government have business which they are prepared to go on with. -
.- Before the Minister of Defence replies, I wish to make a personal explanation. When speaking on the Supply Bill on the 28th August, I mentioned a matter connected with the External Affairs Department. I said that two boilermakers and a coppersmith had been introduced from the Old Country, and were then working in Western Australia. I asked the Honorary Minister, who was in charge of the measure, to vouchsafe information which I had sought from the External Affairs Department, and had not, up to that time, received. In the course of my speech I said, in reply to a statement made by Senator Clemons that ten days had elapsed since I had written a letter on the subject to the Department. I wish now to say that I made a mistake, and that ten days had not elapsed. Senator Clemons did me the courtesy this afternoon to show me the papers in connexion with the matter, and I find that I wrote to the Minister for External Affairs on the 25th August, and that his reply to me was dated 28th August, only three days, and not ten days, after I had written. But I wish to say, further, that the Minister’s reply did not reach me until at least three days after I made the speech to which I referred. I have been informed by Senator Clemons that the Minister at once attended to my communication, and it was not his fault that the reply to my letter was delayed. I make this explanation in justice to the Minister of External Affairs.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs whether he can give the Senate information as to the present position of the proposed contract between the Federal Government and the State Government of Western Australia for the supply of sleepers for the transcontinental railway? If not, perhaps the honorable senator will make inquiries, and supply the information at another sitting of the Senate. The position at the time of the change of Government was that a preliminary contract had been drawn up, and negotiations were proceeding in respect to it. So far as my knowledge of the negotiations is concerned, they had apparently reached an agreement. As this was some months ago, and no announcement on the subject has appeared in the press, or has been made in Parliament, I would like to ask whether the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs will give the Senate, at the earliest opportunity, some information as to whether the contract has been finally signed, and, if not, as to cause of the delay t
– I have no knowledge of the matter referred to by Senator Pearce, but I will have inquiries made on the subject, and obtain the information sought for.
.- With regard to the question raised by Senator Rae, I am not in a position to speak definitely to-night. I hope to be able to make a statement to the Senate on the point during the currency of the debate on the AddressinReply, or at its termination. I am compelled to say that the prospect of any great rush of business coming to this Chamber from another place does not at present appear very alluring. At a later stage I shall make some announcement in answer to the question put by Senator Rae.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at9.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 September 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19130910_senate_5_70/>.