5th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Census and Statistics Act 1905 -
Australian Statistics - Monthly Summaries -
No. 6. - June, 1912; No. 7. - July, 191a; No. 8. - August, 1912; No. 9. - September, 1912; No. 10. - October, 1912; No. 11. - November, 1912; No. 12. - December, 1912; No. 13. - January, 1913; No. 14. - February, 1913; No. 15. - March, 1913 ; No. 16. - April, 1913; No. 17.- May, 1913 ; No. 18.- June, 1913 ; also appendix re Smallpox, &c. ; No. 19. - July, 1913.
Census, 191 1 -
No. 13. - (Localities; No. 14. - Mortality Investigation 1881-1910; No. 15. - Families; No. 16. - Occupations; No. 17. - Occupied Dwellings.
Prices, Price Indexes, and Cost of Living in Australia. Labour and Industrial Branch. Report No. i.
Trade Unionism, Unemployment, Wages, Prices and Cost of Living in Australia, 1891-1912. Labour and Industrial Branch. Report No. 2.
Labour Bulletin No. 1. - January-March, 1913-
Labour Bulletin No. 2. - April-June, 1913.
Population and Vital Statistics. Bulletin No. 30. Commonwealth Demography, 1912, and previous years.
Transport and Communication. Bulletin No. 6. Summary of Commonwealth Statistics for the years 1902-1912.
Finance. Bulletin No. 6. Summary of Australian Statistics, 1903-1912.
Social Statistics. Bulletin No. 5. As to Education, Hospitals and Charities, and Law and Crime for the year 1911.
Production. Bulletin No. 6. Summary of Commonwealth Statistics for the years 1902-1911.
Shipping and Oversea Migration of the Commonwealth of Australia for 1911.
Trade and Customs and Excise Revenue of the Commonwealth of Australia for 1911.
Official Year Book of the Commonwealth, No. 6 (1901-1912).
Privileges op the Senate.
.- With the leave of the Senate, I desire to make a statement.
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that Senator McGregor have leave to make a statement?
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
– In view of the statement which you, sir, made yesterday, and of the correspondence which has passed between the Clerk of Parliament and the Prime Minister in reference to a Select Committee of the Senate, and in view also of the fact that the Senate possesses coordinate powers with the House of Representatives, and has the same privileges and immunities as that body, and also as the House of Commons, I wish to enter my emphatic protest on behalf of the Opposition at the action of the Prime Minister in depriving that Committee of the opportunity to make the fullest inquiry into any matter which it has been appointed to investigate. On account of the Prime Minister’s action in refusing to furnish the necessary funds to enable such inquiry to be undertaken, it is absolutely necessary that we should enter our protest, so that our apparent acquiescence on this occasion may not be regarded as a precedent in the future. I enter my protest, and hope that it will be noted.
– Last night the Vice-President of the Executive Council, while speaking on the Address-in-Reply, said -
I am not going to make a statement which I cannot prove. I have here a return which gives the facts. There was a duplication of votes to the number of 5,760. That bears out the statement which I made that many people voted twice.
I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he is in possession of information which has not been furnished to the Senate, and which will confirm the statement he has made. Also, I wish to know whether he has read the report of the Chief Electoral Officer which has been laid upon the table of the Senate, and which every honorable senator has had an opportunity of perusing; and, if so, does he not know that that officer says -
A review of the Ballarat lists discloses that many names which have been marked twice are followed on the rolls by identical or similar names which have not been marked. There is reasonable ground, in cases of this kind, for assuming that there have been errors in marking.
Is he not aware- that the Chief Electoral Officer further says -
In some divisions the whole of the apparent duplication could probably be cleared up without disclosing any fraud.
Can the Vice-President of the Executive Council substantiate the statement which he made on a former occasion, andwhich he repeated yesterday, that there were 5,760 cases of duplication at the recent elections, and that he could prove that a number of persons voted twice. If he can supply that proof to the Senate, I shall be obliged to him; if not, I hope he will withdraw the statement.
– Many weeks ago, about the 20th July, I think, I made a statement to the effect that many persons had voted twice at the recent general elections. That statement is borne out by the report of the Chief Electoral Officer. I have read his report, but I am not bound to accept the correctness of any assumption on his part. I say that the inquiry has shown that some persons did vote twice.
– Then why does not the honorable gentleman bring forward proof of his statement?
– The proof is to be found in the official record - 5,760 duplicate votes.
– Arising out of that answer, I again ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether he will furnish this Chamber with proof that there were 5,760 duplicate votes cast at the recent general elections ?
– The Senate already has that information.
– I beg to give notice that, on Wednesday, 17th September, I will move -
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I may inform the honorable senator that he had better withdraw my name, because I am not prepared to serve.
– The Standing Orders provide that an honorable senator cannot decline to serve on a Select Com mittee, though he may ask the Senate to be relieved from the duty of acting on such a Committee.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, which member of the Ministry secured the services of a detective to investigate matters connected with the Ballarat election; were the services of the detective paid for by private sources, or out of the public funds; and, if the latter was the case, would he lay the information obtained on the table of the Senate?
– The matter mentioned by the honorable senator is quite strange to me, and I have no information in regard to it.
– I will give notice of the question.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence -
. Whether the agreement in respect of the Tasmanian mail service which is now being drafted provides for -
Will the Government give the Senate an opportunity of considering the agreement before it is ratified?
– As the question itself indicates, the agreement is now being drafted. It is therefore not possible for me to say definitely what it will contain. To the second portion of the honorable senator’s question the answer is “ No.”
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether the Cabinet have considered the advisableness of making an extended contract with the Union Steam-ship Company, and whether they have arranged for the construction of another vessel of the Loongana type?
– The whole question is under consideration.
– The Leader of the Government said yesterday that a draft agreement was in course of preparation by the Crown Solicitor. Can the Minister of Defence give the Senate any information as to the lines upon which that agreement is based, and as to whether it provides for a better service ?
– During the progress of the negotiations it is not desirableto make any further statement than I have already made.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether the Government will take immediate steps to bring about an amendment of the Constitution to provide for the abolition of the Senate and the conduct of all parliamentary business by one House ?
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether his attention has been drawn to the following telegram, published in the Argus of the 4th September, under the heading of “ Weather Warnings; Cyclone Season in the North”-
Cairns (Q.), Wednesday. - Considerable interest attached to a deputation from the Chamber of Commerce which waited on the Commonwealth Meteorologist (Mr. Hunt) to urge that a better system of weather warnings be instituted.
The president of the chamber (Mr. A. J. Draper) said that it had been suggested that there should be an interchange of readings between Thursday Island, Cooktown, Cairns, and Townsville during the cyclone season, so that those in the far north would be in a better position to warn shipping.
Mr. Donaldson urged the establishment of a meteorological station at Cairns.
Mr. Hunt, in reply, declined to establish a meteorological station at Cairns. It would be creating a precedent, and other ports would want the same. He intended, with the consent of the Deputy Postmaster-General, to arrange for the interchange of data several times daily between Thursday Island -and Brisbane. During the cyclone season on the northern seaboard he would arrange to get a set of data exchanged along the coast.
Will the Minister be good enough to ascertain whether any official action has been taken in this regard, and report to the Senate?
– I recognise the importance of the question raised by the honorable senator, and will endeavour to obtain the information for him.
National Regiments : Naval Bases : Conditions of Employment, Garden Island
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Has the Minister decided to extend the right to wear the Scottish kilt as a military uniform to other members of the Defence Forces than those already in possession of them, to whom permission to retain that uniform had already been granted?
– As the details regarding this matter will be considered by the Military Board at’ an early date, replies to the honorable member’s questions will be deferred until the Board’s recommendations come before me, and I have had an opportunity of considering them.
– May I ask the Minister whether, before this regulation is dealt with, he will give the Senate an opportunity of discussing it ? It is not an ordinary regulation. What is proposed will involve a complete departure from the existing scheme.
– -I am rather surprised that an ex-Minister should put such a question to me.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is it not a fact that borings had been put down to a depth of 40 feet on both the Parmelia and Success Banks at Cockburn Sound, West Australia, under the direction of the late Government, and were not the reports of such borings in the possession of the Naval Board before February, 1913?
– The Director of Naval Works has reported, but I am not yet certain whether such reports had been referred to the Naval Board.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is he aware that the Right Honorable the Treasurer has telegraphedto the Mayor of Fremantle that, in respect to the naval base at Cockburn Sound, “ Nautical men whom I have consulted much prefer Mangles Bay at Rockingham to Jervoise Bay as it is far more spacious, has far deeper water, is far better protected, and has better holding ground “ ; and will he inform the Senate of the names and professional attainments of the nautical men who have given the advice referred to?
– This question has been referred to the honorable the Treasurer.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
In reference to the minutes of the Third Naval Member of the Naval Board dated 18th July, 1913, as to alleged injudicious expenditure at the Henderson Naval base, Cockburn Sound, will the Minister call upon the Third Naval Member to indicate the particulars of “ injudicious expenditure” referred to?
– The whole of this matter is under review, and it has not yet been decided what further action, if any, will be necessary.
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 would ask the honorable senator if he will be good enough to communicate to me, or to the Department, some further particulars to show exactly what it is he wants, because in the office they are unable to detect any alterations in the conditions. If the honorable senator supplies particulars of the mattershe has in view, I shall endeavour to get the information for him.
Postal Electricians and Mechanics:. Telegraphic and Telephonic Expenditure: Weighing of Newspapers
– Some time ago Senator Needham asked me a question respecting the appointment of electricians introduced from the Old Country, to which I promised to obtain a reply. The answer I have to give to the honorable senator’s question is that the Public Service Commissioner has been requested to again advertise throughout Australia for these electricians. The applications are returnable on the 1st October, and it is the intention of the Government to make every effort to get the electricians here before attempting to import them.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
How many newspapers pass through the Sydney General Post Office in bulk?
– The answer is -
Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
Mr. B. R. WISE, K.C.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amounts have been paid to Mr. B. R. Wise, K.C, for legal services during the last three years?
– Inquiries are being made in regard to this question, but, so far, information is not available. I ask the honorable senator to ask me for the information later on.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will the Government take into consideration, the necessity of providing free medical and medicinal requirements for the men engaged upon the construction of the Transcontinental Railway ?
– The answer is - The question of medical attendance for employes and their families in connexion with the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway is being attended to in the Department. It is probable that the usual practice in connexion with the railway construction works, whereby a small deduction is made from each workman’s wages, will be followed. The deductions will probably vary according to the remuneration received by the employe, but, generally speaking, should be about sixpence per week.
Resignation of Dr. Strangmann
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Library all papers concerning the resignation of Dr. Strangmann as Commonwealth Medical Officer at Port Darwin ?
Oil Lands : Oil Works
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Motion (by Senator de Largie) proposed -
That the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the dismissal of Mr. Chinn have leave to adjourn to Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia, and that the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Committee, while at Kalgoorlie, to sit and take evidence during the sittings of the Senate.
– On the motion, sir-
– The motion having been declared formal the honorable senator cannot speak to it.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . I8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 10th September (fide page 1043), en 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.
– During the recent electoral campaign I predicted from many platforms that if the Liberal party were returned to power they would immediately proceed to repeal the great social and industrial legislation passed by the Labour party during the last three years. The election is now a matter of history, and, although the Labour party have a pronounced majority of twenty-two here, unfortunately we are in a minority of one in the House which makes and unmakes Governments, where the Cook party are in office. Thank heaven, they are not in power so far as passing legislation is concerned. I find from a statement submitted here by the representative of the Government that my prophecy has been fulfilled. We are told that our electoral law is to be attacked; the secrecy of the ballot is to be violated ; an attempt is to be made to smash unionism, to ostracise the hardy bush worker, to deprive the mothers of Australia of the maternity allowance, because, we are informed, the Act is to be placed on a poverty basis; and what is more, the statement indicates that the workers of Australia are to be asked to contribute towards the maintenance of a standing industrial army - an army of unemployed - to be available when the captains of industry require them. These are the men who talk about class legislation, and scarcely are they in office on a microscopical majority of one in the other House - and before they are in real power in Parliament - than they propose to repeal the beneficent laws passed by our party’ in the interests of the people of Australia. A great programme this is - to tamper with the franchise, to penalize unionism, to handicap Australian mothers, and to ask the workers to pay tribute to the captains of industry! Had our opponents swept the polls by an overwhelming majority, we would not have been surprised at this procedure - indeed, we would have expected it; but for the Government to come down here and adopt this repeal policy without an emphatic mandate from the people is a rare example of arrogance and impudence. To hang on to office on the casting vote of the Speaker is bad; to try to do business confronted with an overwhelming majority in the Senate is even worse; but to expect to carry this repeal policy in a Parliament so constituted is an outrage on public decency. Yet the Vice-President of the Executive Council said yesterday that the duty of the Opposition is “to give the Government a show.” Did we not give them a show ? These men who were supposed IX possess a monopoly of the intelligence of Australia met the Parliament and confessed that they had no policy to present. The
Labour party, in a spirit of fair play, said, “ We will give you time to prepare a policy,” and we gave them, I think, over a month for that purpose; and then they come down and ask us to give them “ a show.” A show to do what ? To repeal the great legislative enactments of our party. A nice chance there is of them getting that show, so far as we are concerned ! Proceeding, Senator McColl contrasted the action of his party towards ours three years ago with our action towards them to-day. Any man who is not approaching his second childhood would be able to recognise that there is not any analogy between the position of the Fisher Government three years ago and that of the Cook Administration to-day. Three years ago the Fisher Government cameinto power in the House of Representatives with an undoubted mandate from the people, and they also had an emphaticmajority here. They were told by the people to go on and give effect to their policy. What is the position of the Cook Government? In the other House they have not a majority at all unless they contemplate making the Speaker a party hack, and I hope that he will not - nor do I think he will - condescend to be made one. In the Senate they have no majority at all. Indeed, they are, as everybody knows, in an overwhelming minority, being only seven to twenty-nine.’ It islunacy on the part of any man to contrast the position of the Fisher Government with that of the Cook Administration to-day. But I had better proceed todeal with the precious policy document that is before the Senate. In paragraph 1 of the Government statement of policy we find the following: -
The purification of the rolls is being proceeded with, and every endeavour is being made to insure accuracy. The Government, holding that an effective electoral law is the real foundation* of a sound parliamentary system, will introduce a Bill to restore the postal vote, and to modify the provisions in respect to absent voting.
What is wrong with the existing electoral law ? Are there too many facilitiesfor voting, too many names on the roll, too many electors who vote for Labour ? Is that what is wrong ? Because of these.things the franchise is to be watered, down, restrictions are to be imposed, and. facilities for voting reduced. Nothing has occurred in the Commonwealth since its inauguration so serious as the cruel, and unjust charges which have been flung at the Labour party and the people.- of Australia regarding the conduct of the recent general elections. At every Liberal rally which has since been held, Liberal prevaricators - some of them old “enough to know better, and some of them holding positions of responsibility which should have prompted them to act with more prudence - have’ declared that at those elections corruption was practised in a wholesale fashion by the people of Australia. We were told by the Tory press that impersonation, plural voting, and gross irregularities had been resorted to, and scores of petty-minded Liberal politicians took up the parrot cry. Unfortunately, this foul calumny on the integrity of the people’ of the Commonwealth has not remained within this continent. It has been cabled throughout the civilized world that the people of Australia conduct their elections in a corrupt fashion. That circumstance must have a most damaging effect on the high character that we have hitherto enjoyed. Indeed, these attacks were carried so far that in Queensland the Government put into the mouth of the Governor at the recent opening of Parliament there the following extraordinary statement -
If personation, plural voting, and other illegalities were not rife at the recent Federal polling it was not, in the opinion of my advisers, because existing arrangements do not encourage and facilitate such practices. Therefore, it is their intention to request the Commonwealth Government to appoint a Commission, consisting of the Chief Electoral Officer, his State Deputies, and the principal State Electoral Registrars, to devise some means whereby the Federal electoral rolls and the conduct of Federal elections will be above suspicion.
Any person reading that paragraph would naturally be led to believe that corruption at the recent Federal elections was rampant. Anybody reading the cablegrams which have been published throughout the .world regarding the conduct of those elections will have a very poor opinion of the honesty of Australians. The present Government, thinking that they had discovered something which would discredit the Labour party and the Labour movement, proceeded immediately after the elections to issue special regulations, having for their object the holding of a scrutiny. But for the vigilance of the Labour party that scrutiny would have been conducted under conditions that would not have savoured of fair play. We beheld the extraordinary spectacle of a Government attempting to hold a scrutiny without scrutineers, until their efforts were blocked in another place. Every name on every roll in every division has since been carefully examined, and with what result ? We find that there were 2,760,216 persons enrolled, of whom 2,033,251 voted. Out of these, 5,760 names have been ticked off on the rolls more than once. The inquiry into all the alleged gross irregularities has revealed this, and nothing more. Just prior to that investigation being held, we were assured that, in connexion with the Fremantle election, there were thousands of duplications of votes. We were told that in certain streets the whole of the people had voted more than once. What are the facts? There were 33,613 persons on the Fremantle roll, of whom 28,628 voted. Out of that number the names of 156 persons had been ticked off on the roll more than once. That is the only offence which has been established. In Oxley, Queensland, it was stated that more people had voted than there were names on the roll. That statement was freely made, and members of the Liberal party were going to prove it. But inquiry has revealed that, out of 38,238 persons who were enrolled, 31,372 voted, and all the alleged irregularities boiled down to this: that 135 names had been ticked off on the rolls more than once. Instead of the recent elections having been conducted corruptly, it may yet be found that those elections - the first conducted by a Labour Government in the Federal sphere - were the cleanest ever held in the Commonwealth. The worst that can be urged in regard to the conduct of those elections- is that the names of 5,760 persons were ticked off on the rolls more than once. This is equivalent to three errors per thousand, which is about the average of the mistakes made in ticking off names on the rolls in connexion with Stats elections.
– It would not amount to one at each polling place.
– Not by a long way. -It speaks well for our officials that there were not more names ticked off in error. But, in spite of the irrefutable evidence submitted, we yesterday witnessed the spectacle of a responsible Minister; - to his shame be it said - deliberately stating in this chamber that there had been double voting. I have here a report by Mr. R. C. Oldham, the Chief Electoral Officer, in which he clearly sets forth that there were no corrupt practices indulged in at the recent elections. As the report has already been read in this chamber, I do not propose to read it again. For any man, in the face of the evidence which has been forthcoming, to assert that corrupt practices were resorted to in connexion with the conduct of the recent general elections is an infamous libel on the people of Australia. Such a libellous statement could only emanate from a diseased and criminal brain. Coming closer to this Liberal repeal policy, for as such it may be described, I find that it is proposed to reform our electoral laws. I think that the Government are more likely to deform them. Just imagine the present occupants of the Treasury bench talking about “ an efficient electoral system”; and about placing Parliament on a sound basis ! Why, they have been lifelong opponents of everything which makes for a sound representative parliamentary system. They talk about duplicate voting. Yet they tried as long as they could, and by every means in their power, to make duplicate, and even triplicate, voting the law of the land. In my own State I recollect, in the early nineties, one man who had no fewer than thirty-four votes at an election. At that time plural voting was regarded as the exclusive privilege - no, I should not say privilege; as the absolute right - of the Conservatives. In my own State plural votes were exercised to such an extent that I know of an instance where one man had the right to cast thirtyfour votes in one election. It was only after the fiercest battles that the Labour party succeeded in- abolishing plural voting, and establishing what we possess today - an adult suffrage which is the broadest on earth.
– There are supporters of the Government who still believe in the old plural voting system.
– Yes, and they would give effect to it to-morrow if they had the power. Let us make no mistake about that. Again, these gentlemen pretend to be the guardians of the women, and to have a desire to afford special facilities for them to vote. It was only a few years ago when the Ministerial party prophesied that the granting of the vote to women would mean degradation to them and disaster to Australia. If they had the power the women, for whom they seem to be so solicitous’ to-day, would not have the vote at all. I come now to the postal vote, which the Government propose to re-introduce.
– The postal vote and the postage stamp - that is all their policy.
– Why this tampering with our electoral system ? Why revert to a system which has been tried and found to be little better than open voting? Yesterday Senator Millen was hungering for information with regard to corrupt practices in connexion with postal voting. I propose to give him some evidence. Anybody who has had experience of the postal vote would be very careful about supporting the re-introduction of it. I happened to be a candidate in Queensland at the only two State elections at which postal voting was permitted. At the two elections I was a candidate in different electorates, and they happened to be the constituencies in which postal voting was most abused. I claim, therefore, to be in a position to point out some of the possibilities of the system. I shall not enter elaborately into details now. An opportunity will possibly be afforded on another occasion if ever the so-called Electoral Amendment Bill reaches the Senate. But I may say that I found that after the issue of the writ .every day was a polling day, and every house was a polling booth. The secrecy of the ballot was grossly violated. What is worse, a reign of terror prevailed throughout Queensland. In Charters Towers the mine managers called at the houses of the miners working under them, and induced their wives to vote for their party under the grossest, vilest forms of intimidation. Our opponents talked about the postal vote being of great convenience to country people. What was the experience in Queensland ? At the 1907 elections, nine town electorates polled more postal votes than the whole of the rest of the State put together, and in 1908 the town electorates polled 13,615 postal votes against 7,009 polled in the whole of the rest of the country. The people of Queensland became so disgusted with the system, after a fair trial at two elections, that they immediately demanded its repeal. The following is a paragraph from the Queensland Governor’s speech addressed to Parliament immediately after the election of 1908-
The last two elections have demonstrated that in some respects our electoral law is defective. In particular, the postal vote has been found to be a serious invasion of the secrecy of the ballot, and to afford facilities for practices which interfere with the expression of the opinion of the electors. It is, therefore, the intention of my Advisers to re-submit for your consideration the Bill introduced last year for removing these defects.
– That was by an anti-Labour Government ?
– That was by the Kidston Government of Queensland. The Home Secretary of that Ministry, who is no Labour man, and never was, in introducing the Bill, made the following remarks -
It has been found in practice that the provisions for the postal vote are of such a nature that fraud is made easy. It is known that there was considerable abuse of the provisions during the last election, and it is, therefore, suggested that the best way to deal with the postal vote is to wipe it out altogether. Personally, I know the system was abused, and that it was open lo great abuse.
The Premier of Queensland took the same view, and said - livery one of us knows quite well that the way in which the postal vole was carried out in many cases made it, to all intents and purposes, open voting. To all intents and purposes, if -.ve continue our Electoral Act with this blemish in it, we abolish the protection of the ballot as far as women are concerned, and certainly as far as the majority of the women are concerned. I consider it is the duty of the House to wipe out the postal vote root and branch, and wipe it out at once.
Those are the opinions of men who had experience of this system. I will now give the experience of some to whose opinion the supporters of this Government ought to pay particular attention. I refer to a Select Committee of the Federal Parliament appointed by the House of Representatives in 1904. The Committee submitted its report on the 28th October of that year. It may be valuable information to Senator Millen, who is eager to get evidence of irregularities under the postal-voting system, to read this report.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Is that the time when Mr. Fisher said that the postal vote was a necessary corollary of the ballot?
– The Committee reported -
Without concluding that undue influence was used in connexion with the postal vote, the evidence adduced shows that under the present sub-section advantage may be taken to destroy the free and secret exercise of the franchise.
The application forms may be witnessed in blank, and these forms may be taken in numbers bv agents for candidates when canvassing, and pressure brought to bear on persons whose names are on the roll. The evidence justifies your Committee in finding that many persons who voted by post had not reason to believe that they would be more than five miles from their polling place on the day of election, and were on that day within that limit. It would appear that the voting facilities provided have been used contrary to the intention of the Act.
Therefore, on the testimony of this Parliamentary Committee, there is evidence sufficient to condemn ths postal vote.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The reply to that is that the postal vote was instituted after that report was received.
– No; if the honorable senator looks up the report, he will find that the postal vote was first exercised in 1903, and the Select Committee was the outcome of the first election under that system. There is no harm in correcting the honorable senator when he gets off the right path. We are told that if the postal vote is not re-introduced the women of Australia will be seriously handicapped. Is there anything in that argument? All the evidence proves the contrary. Here is some evidence which may emphasize the j>oint. At an election, when there was no postal voting in Australia - namely, at the last election - a higher percentage of women voted than ever before. I will give the figures. In 1903, at the first election under postal voting, 39.96 females voted. At the election of 1906, the percentage of females voting was 43.30; at the election of 1910, the percentage was 56.17; but at the last election, when there was no postal voting, the percentage of females who voted was 69.71. It might be contended by our opponents that, of course, the women voted at the recent election in a higher ratio because of the greater excitement that prevailed. That may be true, but it does not alter the facts, because we find that there was a smaller percental difference between the number of women and of men who voted at the last election than at any previous election. In 1903, there was a difference of 13.13 between males and females who voted. In 1906 there was a difference of 13.08 per cent. In 1910 the difference was 11.41 per cent., and at the last election, when the postal vote was not used and when this alleged handicap was supposed to be imposed upon the women in consequence, the difference between males and females voting was only 7.51 per cent. These figures clearly prove that there is nothing in the contention that the Labour party seek to handicap or harass women in their efforts to record their votes. I will want to have very strong evidence submitted to me that no corrupt practices will be possible before I give a vote for any system of postal voting.
– It is on the Labour platform .
– My honorable friend professes to know more of the Labour platform than does a life-long supporter of it. He’ can know nothing of it when he talks like that.
– The honorable senator will find that it is on the Australian Labour platform.
– The honorable senator does not know what he is talking about, or he would not make such a statement. I wish to deal now with another portion of the Ministerial statement, containing their proposal for the exclusion from preference of unions and unionists who subscribe to political funds, and their proposal to deprive the rural workers of the benefits of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Three things are aimed at here, with one end in view. The Government propose, if they can achieve their desire, the smashing up of unionism. They want to water down the little preference which unionists have, and they wish to exclude altogether from preference unions that take part in politics, and to deprive rural workers of the benefits of conciliation and arbitration. I have no hesitation in stating that I believe in preference to unionism. Our unions have been the consistent advocates of everything making for the improvement of the condition of the people. Every improvement in the social and industrial laws of this Commonwealth may be traced to the power and influence of the unions of Australia. Senator McColl yesterday seemed to question this statement. He claimed that the Liberal party are responsible for the great achievements in social and industrial reform of the last twenty years. I would refer the honorable senator to the impartial, cold, and calculating statement on this question of no less a personage than Mr. Knibbs, Commonwealth Statistician. This gentleman will not be expected to take a partisan view. He is, naturally, expected to take a materialistic, fair, and just view of everything. Here is what he says on this question, and perhaps it is just as well I should quote it in view of the statement made by Senator McColl yesterday. At page 1011 of this year’s edition of the Commonwealth Y ear-Booh, under the heading “ Industrial Unionism and Industrial Legislation - General Remarks,” Mr. Knibbs says -
In Australia industrial unionism paved the way for industrial legislation.
Are you listening, Senator McColl?
– Yes, I hear every word .
– I hope this quotation will benefit the honorable senator. Mr. Knibbs goes on to say -
Conditions of employment were, on the whole, favorable to the investigation of industrial problems ; and experimental legislation was possible because of the simplicity and directness of the aim of those engaged in industrial occupations. Moreover, the fact of the non-existence of the complex problems and organizations of older countries rendered initial legislation comparatively easy. Hence rapid changes in laws regulating industry occur, and are likely to occur. To a great extent the trades unions were responsible for these laws. They steadily and continuously urged an amelioration of the condition of the working man, and by organization and discipline they presented a united front to opposing forces, and attained many advantages by a recognition of the principle that unity is strength. Their efforts have resulted in improved conditions. Particularly shorter hours, a healthier mode of life, and safeguarding against accident. One great aim of present-day industrial legislation has been said to be to extend !: the reasonable comforts of a civilized community “ to those engaged in every branch of industry. The standard of wages must, therefore, be maintained at a satisfactory level. Large organizations have been able to attain their” ends by force of numbers, and, in the case of the great bulk of the artisan and similar classes, through the solidarity of their unions. The smaller and less perfectly organized industries, unable to maintain an effectual struggle with hope of success, are now receiving, by legislative enactment, the benefits already gained by the trades unions. Industrial organization by means of unions now tends to embrace all classes of wage-earners.
I hold that that paragraph bears out fully the contention of the party to which I belong - that social and industrial legislation is entirely attributable to the power and influence of industrial unionism.
– Does Mr. Knibbs say anything there about putting the union label on cows and sheep, which is what Senator McColl told the farmers ?
– We can leave our opponents to say that kind of thing. I should not be surprised to hear anything that Senator McColl had told the farmers after the unfair statements which he made here yesterday concerning corrupt practices at the recent elections. Before the advent of unions what were the conditions in Australia, or, indeed, in any other land ? The workers worked from daylight to dark for a miserable pittance.
– I had to do that, and then had to walk 7 miles home.
– Yes; and the honorable senator would have had to walk 14 miles home if he had been able to do so, or if it had been in the power of those who employed him to drive him. Owing to the efforts of unionists, we can to-day boast of shorter hours and better wages, with the result that the people are better housed, better clothed, and better fed. They have more time for recreation and for education; and this has resulted in benefit, not only to one class, but to every class in the community. Because of his better housing and clothing, and his higher education, the worker has been made a more efficient man, and the productivity of labour, has thereby been greatly increased. Apart from this, by these laws we have treated the working classes as men and women. We have demanded that they shall be treated as human beings; and, in treating them thus, not they alone, but the whole community lias profited. This Parliament, in passing the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, submitted the strongest argument possible in favour of preference to unionism. This Parliament recognised that arbitration was impossible without unionism, and, in proof of that, we find that unions alone can register under the Act. Therefore, as unionism has made arbitration possible, and arbitration has made industrial peace possible, I claim that unionists have an undoubted and indisputable right to preference. This is an age of combination. Capital is organizing its forces as it never did before, and Labour is compelled to organize its forces to save itself from the rapacity of capital. We find that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of the Commonwealth and the measures passed to promote industrial peace in the different States all demand that unionists shall obey the law. On the other hand, no restraint whatever is imposed upon the nonunionists. Seeing that the unionist is supposed to obey the law, and that the non-unionist may utterly disregard it, and, without responsibility or penalty, may do what he pleases to upset every effort which unionism makes for the improvement of the condition of the people, surely the unionist, who has to obey the law, and is prepared to submit to it and to abide by the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, is entitled to some form of preference. The only thing I can see in the programme of the Government is a proposal to give preference to “ scabs.” That is the only alternative to preference to unionists, and it is the inexorable logic of the position the Government have assumed . They propose to give preference to “ scabs,” and to deny preference to tlie unionists, who are entitled to it. Then they tell us that because a unionist subscribes to political funds he is to be deprived of preference, and by this means they seek to divorce political and industrial unionism. Why, they might as well attempt to wipe out unionism altogether, to wipe out the Labour movement, as attempt to bring about this divorce at tlie present time. Political unionism and industrial unionism were married long ago, and the offspring of that alliance has been tlie Labour movement - the grandest movement on earth - and it will take something more than the Cook Government to bring about divorce. The Government are quite well aware, and any man who knows anything about the great Labour movement to-day must realize, that unionism without politics is a thing of the dead past. It has long since been discarded by every leader of note in the Labour movement throughout the civilized world, and it is simply because the Government know that these two forces are inseparable that they try to strike this vindictive blow at tlie great Labour movement. Honorable senators will all remember, as I think Senator McGregor recalled yesterday, that in the early nineties, during the great maritime strike and during the great shearers’strike, when our opponents were telling the soldiers to. aim low and lay the unionists out, we were advised to adopt constitutional means in order to achieve our ends. Well, we did adopt constitutional means. Unionism caine to the conclusion, and rightly, I think, that they should seek State intervention for the settlement of their grievances, and as that implied the passing of industrial legislation, unionists rightly concluded that they should be represented in Parliament. Thus started the great Labour movement in Australia.’ It has grown in every State _ “in the Commonwealth. In every State Parliament a great
Labour party lias arisen. It has been the dominant factor in many States, and certainly it has been the dominant factor in the entire Commonwealth, for ,it has ruled Australia through this Parliament during the last three years. Because our opponents realize this, because they have recognised the growth of the power and influence of this great movement, they now seek to destroy it. Why sir, they might as well try to do what an historical old lady tried to do long years ago, to brush back the tide, as to brush back the onrush of Democracy. Political unionism and industrial unionism are inseparably connected : the man who injures one injures both, and now that the Government have thrown down the gauntlet, and sought to destroy unionism, they will find that the great machinery of the Labour movement will be brought into play for the protection of unionism. I am quite sure that every member of our party will use every means in his power to defend the great Labour movement, to defend the great industrial unionist movement, to defend the brave men who, by their self-sacrificing efforts, have made it possible to have a Labour movement at all. The Cook Government have reckoned without their hosts, believe me, in making this unnecessary onslaught upon industrial unionism. But, perhaps, the cruellest effort of all is their attempt to ostracize the rural workers. Why in the name of fair play should this great body of workers be politically and industrially ostracized 1 If it is good that preference should apply to one industry, why should it not apply to all industries? If the principle is good, why should it not be extended? The bush worker is undoubtedly amongst the best class of our workers. He has more to put up with than have any other workers. But for the hardy bush workers - the men who have developed our great primary industries - Australia would not be the prosperous country it is to-day. It is an unfair thing that the bush workers should be forced to resort to the cruel, obsolete, barbarous method of the strike, because thai is all that is to be left to them. If they are to be denied preference, if they are to be deprived of the benefit of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, what more will be left than the-obsolete method of the strike, with’ the terrible sacrifices which it involves? We hear a constant wail from our opponents - a wail, perhaps, which has some justification in ii - that the trend of population in Australia is towards the cities, to the impoverishment of the country. Is this proposed measure of the Government calculated to improve that condition of affairs ? Hardly ! If the bush worker of the future considers himself unduly handicapped, as he undoubtedly will be if the Bill is ever (sassed, then he will wend from the country towards the city to the detriment of Australia as a whole, and to the detriment of the men whom it is sought by the Bill to benefit, because, if the workers come into the towns, there will be a scarcity of labour in the country, and the farmer himself - the man whom they pretend to help - will be the very first to feel the pinch of the proposed amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. There is one aspect of this question which I would like to submit for the consideration of the Senate. When a protective Tariff was before this Parliament, the workers, through their representatives, cheerfully voted for Protection for rural industries the same as for any others. I hold in my hand a list which I can read, if necessary, showing where the great products of the rural districts have been, protected by this Parliament in the interests of those engaged in rural industries. If the workers of Australia, through their representatives, have been quite prepared to make the sacrifice of paying higher rates for the necessaries of life in order to protect the rural industries, is it not a fair proposition that, in return, they should be afforded at least the protection of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act? Again, scores of millions of money have been expended in the various States in building railways for the opening up and development of the rural industries, and for the enhancement of the value of the lands of the farmers. The workers, as well as every other section of the community, are paying their share of the interest on that money. Yet the worker, who has to pay from the miserable pittance he receives towards the interest on the money that has been expended in improving the holdings of the men engaged in rural industries, is to be denied the bare justice of being able to apply to the Arbitration Court for an improvement in his condition. Already in this ‘ Parliament - in the other House - an Agricultural Bureau Bill, has been introduced, and, of course, it will involve a great expenditure, and rightly so. I believe in doing everything we can to develop all our rural industries, and, therefore, I am quite favorable to the expenditure of the money involved in the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau. The workers of Australia will have to contribute towards that expenditure, in common with other classes in the community; yet they are going to be declared, under the proposed law, political, social, and industrial outcasts. A grosser injustice was never inflicted. It was never contemplated that any party would inflict such an injustice on any class of our citizens. Some of our representatives - in another place, at all events - seem to think they were sent to Parliament for the avowed purpose of representing the farmers. They are quite justified in representing the farmers by every means in their power, but I would remind them that there is another class in the community whom they are also expected to represent, and that is the employes in the farming industries. They should remember that they are sent to Parliament, not to represent one class in the community, but the whole of the community. I propose to say a few words on the so-called national insurance scheme of the Government, but perhaps I had better first read the paragraph on the subject in their statement -
The maternity allowance is being claimed in a very large proportion of the total cases of birth, and the expenditure is likely to amount this year to about ^650,000. Ministers feel that the obligation of the public should be limited to proper provision for necessitous cases, and that nl] other cases would be better and more economically provided for by the scheme of national insurance, referred to in previous paragraph.
Perhaps the most audacious attempt of the Government is that in which they seek to mutilate the Maternity Allowance Act. If in that Act the Labour party had discriminated between the rich and the poor - as it is now proposed to do - they would have been charged with having enacted class legislation. Indeed, our opponents might have gone further, and have charged us with having granted a preference to unionists. Now they are whining because £650,000 is to be paid this year by way of maternity grants - a sum equal to the payment of £5 each to 130,000 mothers. Instead of this matter being one for regret, it ought to be an occasion for jubilation. If the people had not claimed the maternity grant, the present Government would have at once declared that they did not require it, and would have urged that as an excuse for the repeal of the Act. Now, however, that the money is being claimed, they affirm that the allowance should be granted only in necessitous circumstances. Truly we have an extraordinary Government in power. They are not content with tampering with the ballot, and with endeavouring to smash unionism. They now propose to make an onslaught on the mothers of Australia, and on the most humane and progressive piece of legislation which has ever been enacted by any Parliament - a Statute which has exalted Australia and Australians in the eyes of the world. Yet the Government and their supporters pretend to be very solicitous about securing a vote for sick women. It is nothing short of hypocrisy for the Ministry to be prepared to afford facilities to women to vote while seeking to deprive them of the maternity allowance. I will undertake to say that the Maternity Allowance Act has brought light and happiness into thousands of homes, and has given thousands of women a better chance than they ever had before of surviving the most critical period of their lives. Coming to the question of unemployment insurance, I am of opinion that any scheme in that direction will need to be very carefully examined. I am prepared to assert that the scheme proposed by the Government is nothing short of a capitalistic device to fleece the workers of the little which they are already getting. Broadly speaking, unemployment is not so much the fault of the individual as of the community - in fact, the community, and not the individual, is generally responsible for unemployment. As an instance of that, let me point to weather conditions. Droughts are responsible for very serious depressions, which lead to great unemployment. In some cases, floods, too, produce the same results. Then, again, inventions may dislocate certain industries and lead to unemployment. Even a change of fashion may lead to unemployment. In most cases, it is the community and not the individual, which is responsible for, and should bear the brunt of, unemployment. One writer has put the matter very concisely. He says -
Individuals should not be responsible for nature or society’s capriciousness.
But unemployment is, more than anything else, the inevitable outcome of our capitalistic system to-day. So long as the captains of industry are eager to obtain high profits, so long shall we have unemployment. When any commodity is selling at a high figure, the natural tendency is to produce that commodity as rapidly as possible. This leads to an abnormal demand for labour for the time being. That demand is succeeded by over-production, and over-production always leads to glut and to unemployment. Surely the individual cannot be held accountable for this, and yet he has to suffer. When this condition of affairs obtains, not only in one industry, but in several industries, a very acute situation arises, and the unfortunate worker, who has absolutely no control over these circumstances, is compelled to suffer. Then we have the ever-recurring financial crises, and with them inevitably come unemployment. To-day, the man who is in work is always anxious. He is ever in dread lest a sudden termination shall come to his employment, and the individual who is out of work occupies an even worse position. To him - especially if he has a family - the task of discovering where he can get employment is a positive nightmare. In most instances unemployment, therefore, is due to circumstances over which the workers have no control. Every fair-minded man must admit that some alteration in these conditions is necessary. But it would be monstrous for any Parliament to seek to compel the workers of Australia to support our unemployed. In asking the workers to contribute to a system of national unemployment insurance, the Government would be asking them to subsidize a fund the avowed purpose of which is to maintain a surplusage of labour, which would always be ready to go to the rescue of the captains of industry. When there was a demand for labour, these men would be ready to rush in and spare the capitalistic brigands of industry the necessity of paying higher wages. It would be most unfair for the workers of this or any other country to be asked to pay tribute to any system of national unemployment insurance. Dr. Zacher, who was formerly an Imperial insurance officer in Germany - one of the countries which has had more experience in national insurance than most others - says -
Unemployment of a purely industrial origin, which is an inevitable consequence of capitalistic production, can only be mitigated, perhapscan be suppressed, by an insurance of which the contributions are paid by the masters cf industry. Any different system which tends toburden other shoulders with the cost of insuranceagainst unemployment is illogical.
That is the opinion of one of the best authorities extant on unemployment insurance. I am prepared to go further than he does, and to declare that if a national scheme of unemployment insurance is to be established, the community, and not the individual, should be made financially responsible. That is an absolutely sound position. What would be the first effect of the system if we adopted that plan ? The nation being financially responsible for unemployment insurance, would seek to remove the cause of unemployment rather than to relieve unemployment. That is what we want. We desire to do away with unemployment rather than to be continually and temporarily relieving it. In this connexion, Mr. Knibbs, in his excellent collection of matter on this subject, says -
Unemployment is evidence of defective social organization, and should be corrected by improving organization rather than bv remedying it.
Unemployment brings scores of misfortunes upon the individual and upon the community. Destitution, disease, and crime follow in its wake, and physical, mental, and moral deterioration and degradation are always its outcome. Even if the system which I have suggested has some evils associated with it - and I deny that it has any - it would be a hundredfold better to adopt it and to avert this terrible social calamity than to go on as we are doing to-day. If we could but remove the causes of unemployment and the dreadful consequences of it, we would transform society. A properly-organized community, in which everybody was employed, would enormously increase our standard of comfort and intelligence ; and, as an outcome of that, would enormously increase our efficiency and our productivity. It would pay a hundred-fold the cost to the nation of sustaining an unemployment scheme out of the Consolidated Revenue. Confidence in the ability of men to secure permanent employment would enable our citizens, eagerly and willingly, to take on the duties of citizenship which our present accursed system forces them to abandon. The marriage rate today is a direct testimony’ to the uncertainty of employment among men. They are afraid to assume the responsibilities of citizenship because, under our present economic system, they are liable to be thrown on the scrap-heap, and their families may be driven to want. But under the scheme which I have indicated, tlie marriage rate would be enormously increased, and the population statistics would, as a natural consequence, be increased. After all, what Australia wants more than anything else is population. We should secure it by this just and rational method of giving reasonable tenure of employment to our own citizens. Before I finish, there is just one other paragraph in the Ministerial statement to which I should like to refer. Paragraph 9 says -
The construction of the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie will be pushed on as rapidly as possible, and the question of using the contract system in the construction of the railway is being considered.
Yes, I can well imagine that the friends of the Government, who look to obtain concessions, are forcing them to abandon the day-labour and adopt the contract system.
– The “controllers” of the Government might be a better term .
– Perhaps my honorable friend’s term is the correct one.
– Why have the New South Wales Government decided to abandon the day-labour system?
– I am not responsible for the actions of the New South Wales Government any more than Senator Millen is; but, as he has mentioned that State, I will quote some figures which justify the maintenance of the day-labour system.
– Why do the Tasmanian Liberal Government stick to the day-labour system?
– In -New South Wales, since 1907, 404 j miles of railway have been built under the contract system at a cost of £1,667,704, equal to £4,189 per mile. Under the day-labour system, New South Wales has built 765 miles of railway, at a cost of £2,482,588, equal to £3,222 per mile, representing a saving to New South Wales of £967 per mile, owing to the adoption of the daylabour system. But perhaps my own State affords a much better example of the benefits of the day-labour system. In Queensland, from 1891 to 1893, we built 1,144 miles of railway, at a cost of £4,796 per mile, under the contract system . Prom 1900 to 1911, under the day-labour system, we built the same mileage at tlie rate of £2,982 per mile; representing a saving per mile, under the day-labour system, of £1,814, or an aggregate saving on the 1,144 miles of £2,078,471. Surely that is sufficient evidence to induce any Government to continue the day-labour system. Indeed, a Government which, in the face of these figures, departs from day labour can only be actuated by ulterior motives.
– The Tasmanian Government have not let a railway to be built by contract for the last fifteen years.
– That shows their good sense. There are many other matters in the Ministerial statement to which I take exception, but I do not desire to trespass at greater length upon the time of the Senate. In conclusion, I wish to state most emphatically that any attempt made by this or any other Government to repeal the social and industrial laws passed during the last three years, making for the happiness, contentment, and prosperity of the people of Australia, will be opposed by me by every means which the practice of the Senate and the terms of the Constitution permit. But, on the contrary, any measure which I consider to make for the welfare of the people will receive my warm support, regardless of the Government from which it emanates.
– In offering a few observations upon the policy which has been presented to the Senate in the memorandum of the Government, I suppose that I, in conjunction with other honorable senators, will be accused of wasting time and obstructing the business of the country. I may remind honorable senators that when a policy of obstruction was practised during the last session of the last Parliament, it was referred to by the supporters of the present Government and by their press as a great and effective protest on the part of the Liberal party against the methods and proposals of the Labour party. I have not the slightest desire to enter into anything in the nature of obstruction, but I am going to insist on my right as a member of the Senate and as a representative of Tasmania, to discuss all matters that come before us for consideration as fully and freely as I like, always providing, of course, that I conform to the rules of the Senate. Opposed to us to-day we have what I may term - though it may seem harsh - the miserable remnant of a discredited party, discredited because they have not had the courage to declare themselves to be what they really are. They claim to be Liberals, and they are not. They are Tories, but have not the courage to admit it. The result is that at the recent election that party, not representing fish, flesh, or good red-herring, received the punishment that any set of men would deserve who deliberately set themselves the task of deceiving the people. When we look at honorable senators opposite, we realize all the sham and hypocrisy lying behind the claim that they have a majority in Parliament and a mandate from the country to control Commonwealth affairs. They make this statement, knowing as well as I do that their party in the Commonwealth Parliament is in a minority of twenty-one. For the first time in the history of Federal government we have a Ministry in office that is absolutely incapable of exercising any power.
– And still they claim a double dissolution.
– Honorable senators opposite profess a desire for a double dissolution, but they are in fear and trembling of what may happen to them if they get it.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - We will take the chance.
– My honorable friend says that he will take the chances. I remind him that there is nothing at the present moment to prevent the Government bringing about a dissolution. There is nothing to prevent the parties being sent back to the people for definite and binding instructions as to what shall transpire in this Parliament during the next three years.
– Does the honorable senator mean both Houses?
– I do not for a moment suggest anything so outrageously absurd. That there can be no justification for a double dissolution, my honorable friend must know quite as well as I do. We all know well, and none better than the honorable gentleman leading the Government in another place, that a dis solution of both Houses can only be brought about as the result of a conflict between them. Senator Oakes must know very well that at present, and for some time to come, the contest will rage with fierceness and evenness in another place. I hope that the time will shortly arrive when the Ministerial party will see the absolute indecency of carrying measures in another place by the casting vote of the Speaker. I say that no one who did not possess the audacity of the gentleman who leads the Government in another place would dare to attempt to carry on the government of the country under such conditions. It is not fair to the gentleman who has to discharge the onerous and responsible duty of controlling the conduct of the House of Representatives to call upon him, on every occasion, to decide the fate of the Government. With all respect to the honorable gentleman, I say that, whenever he is called upon, he loyally fulfils his obligations to his party. Honorable senators opposite are few in number, but quite recently they have shown themselves capable of making a great noise. I am sure that they must feel very much ashamed of themselves as a result of the investigations that have been made into the wholesale charge’s of corruption and malpractices on the part, not only of the electors of Australia, but also of the electoral officials charged with the administration of our electoral law. Here I wish to say that we have a right reasonably to expect that when members of this Parliament, by being made acquainted with the actual circumstances, have discovered that they have been making statements contrary to fact, they will have the decency to admit that they have made misstatements. We have a right to assume that members of the party opposite are as pleased, as the rest of the people of Australia must be, that the charges hurled broadcast against the electors have been shown, after careful and skilled investigation, to be absolutely without foundation.
– If the honorable senator says that, he does not know Senator McColl.
– I am beginning to know the honorable senator. Although I may not share Senator Blakey’s views regarding the veracity of Senator McColl, I will say, from what I have known of the honorable senator during the last two or three years, that he and I could tour Victoria from one end to the other making speeches at every village and town, and could tell more lies than all the rest of the honorable senators in this Chamber, and I would not speak a word during the whole journey.
– The honorable senator only degrades himself when he makes these statements.
– Now that the Government are satisfied that there was not all the duplicate voting which they alleged took place at the recent elections, they need to be reminded that our electoral law provides that punishment may be meted out to people who publish statements calculated to mislead the electors, or reflecting upon the candidates. In addition to the attacks which have been made on electoral officials by prominent members of the other side, we have had newspapers casting the basest assertions, not only upon electoral officials, but upon members of the previous Administration. I am sure that the sentiments expressed in the quotation I propose to make will not be indorsed by honorable senators opposite. It will be recollected that there was some delay in proclaiming the actual result of the Hume election. The Mercury, a newspaper printed in the southern part of Tasmania, and which honorable senators occasionally hear of, made a reference to this subject.
– That is the newspaper which Senator Bakhap says always stands for justice and wisdom.
– The honorable senator must have been in one of the joking moods, for which he is becoming notorious, when he said that.
– Practically speaking.
– That is a modification which the honorable senator is accustomed to make.
– The Mercury is a well-conducted and important newspaper.
– That is not doubted. The following appeared in the Mercury a few days after the result of the Hume election was made known.
The Labour Government of the Commonwealth is at an end. Mr. Patten won the Hume seat, being 381 votes ahead yesterday with only 350 more to be counted. Mr. D’Arcy, whose “ executive ability “ as Returning Officer for Hume has helped to make history in much the same category as that of Mr. Speaker Willis, like another Horatius, kept the bridge bravely while Mr. Fisher and his colleagues continued for a week to divide ^230 or so of public money between them ; and as an example of the “ man on the job “ spirit, which has signalized the era of Labour in office in the Commonwealth, we may well hope that this fine display of the art of making your job last will remain a record, and close for ever a discreditable period in the annals of Administration.
– The Mercury is the chief supporter of the Liberal party in Tasmania.
Senior LONG. - That is so. We have to grin and bear the reflection cast upon the late Administration, but I think that the present Government should be prepared to do its duty and relieve the Returning Officer for the Hume division of the base assertion which has been cast upon his reputation. I appeal to the Government to take some action in the matter which will relieve that gentleman of the charge that he was deliberately hanging up the return for the Hume electorate in order that the late Government might draw a few pounds more of public money. I wish now to come to the interesting document which is termed the policy of th present Government. The one thing that stands out very prominently in the memorandum of the Government policy is the declaration to do away with preference to unionists. There is a qualification that they are going to destroy preference to unionists in the case of unions that are not strong enough to secure preference for themselves. Wherever there is an industrial organization or union which, because of its numbers and financial standing, is unable to secure preference for itself, the political party led by the present Prime Minister is going to deprive it of preference. Preference to unionists is good or bad in principle. If it is good, there is no reason why its benefits should not be extended to every section of the industrial community. If it is bad in principle, there can be no justification for extending it to any section. If the principle of preference to unionists is sound - and the Government have, in effect, admitted that it is - there can be no reason for limiting its operations, more especially when we remember that we in Australia have, thank God, advanced very much beyond the methods of industrial warfare adopted by other nations, and have, perhaps with some success, settled industrial disputes by referring the matter in controversy to a properlycon.stituted authority. Whatever faults - and I admit it has some - our Arbitration Act may have in the minds of our friends opposite, it is a thousand times better to settle the disputes by conciliation and arbitration than to revert to the method of settling disputes which recently characterized the outbreak in Dublin - with the bayonet and the policeman’s bludgeon.
– Or the method adopted in South Africa.
– Exactly. Ever since its inception this party has stood for industrial peace. We believed that the best way to attain that object was by the establishment of a compulsory Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and that is our belief to-day. If our friends can recommend a safer or more expeditious process we shall be glad to hear of it. I do not hesitate for a moment to say that the qualification hedged round their declaration regarding preference to unionists would be removed entirely if there was any possibility of the Liberal party gaining strength at another election. But they know as well as we know that they are lucky indeed to be permitted to carry on with even the casting vote of their presiding officer as a result of the last election. We know that it was sheer apathy and indifference on the part of our electors that permitted such a thing to come about. Our supporters, with a knowledge of what that indifference has cost them still burning in their, minds, would welcome an early appeal to the country, but our friends opposite want to postpone the evil day of another appeal to the electors, in the hope that the electors will have forgotten all about what took place then. They can take the House of Representatives to the country to-morrow if they wish. If they were as anxious to get the verdict of the people as they profess to be, it is waiting for them tomorrow, or the next day, or as soon i>s they like to go. Let them go and get the verdict. They can accept my prophecy here and now that their control of the government of Australia would be terminated very quickly. Again I submit the proposition that preference to unionists is, in principle, the only means by which we can march towards that goal of industrial peace to which we are all looking forward. When we call upon an organization to surrender something we ought to be prepared to make some allowance to it in lieu of the sacrifice. Our honorable friends on the other side know that the members of an industrial organization, when they bind themselves under an award of the Arbitration Court, surrender absolutely the right to strike, and so dislocate the affairs of a particular industry or employer. The award of the Court is not, however, binding upon those workers who are not members of an industrial organization. Although they benefit by what has been done by the efforts of the industrial organization, they are not bound to respect the dictum of the Arbitration Court that no disorganization shall take place; and they can strike when they like, and so disorganize the business of an industry or their employers. When the members of an industrial organization are so hedged round with these conditions, as I believe they ought to be, so far as an industrial agreement is concerned; when there is no possibility of the men bettering the terms of their contract by a strike, some consideration ought to be given to them in the matter of preference. Again, may I point out that the Melbourne Age is very emphatically opposed to the action taken by the Government in that connexion. Probably the meanest and the most callous proposal of the Government is the one to exempt rural workers from the operation of the Arbitration Act. What a sop to Cerberus! Every one knows that it was from that quarter they obtained their support, and that in consequence of the great outcry they made quite recently about the rural workers’ log, they were bound to take some action. It does credit to their courage that they have attacked the weakest and most defenceless section of the industrial community. Senator Mullan dealt with this question most forcibly, and his remarks had the effect, I noticed, of making Ministers look very much ashamed of themselves. There is no doubt that the agricultural employes are the most sweated section of the community. Until the advent of the Labour Government they never had any opportunity or hope of getting their grievances redressed or their conditions regulated by a proper authority, and that right was extended to them by their inclusion within the scope of the Arbitration Act by the recent Labour Government. Here, again, we are faced with this proposition : if the principle of arbitration is good for certain industries, how can we deny its application to other industries? Why should the man in the factory, or the man in the mine, be specially catered for in the matter of industrial legislation, and why should his wretched and much more sweated brother in the agricultural districts be denied the benefit of that legislation? There can be no justification for the proposal of the Government, and here I am reminded of the Liberal platform, under the auspices of which Senator Bakhap was returned. In paragraph 1 of the Federal Liberal platform we find this glorious sentiment -
To promote the unity of the Empire under the British Crown.
One can almost hear the band playing and see the flags waving. Paragraph 4 includes this plank -
To use all the powers of the Commonwealth in securing the fullest social justice to all.
– There is something like a definite statement in that.
– Yes, but what I wish to call attention to is that my honorable friend is running away from that statement.
– No, I never run.
– It was on this platform that the honorable senator was returned, but the action of the Government is in direct conflict with the declared policy of the Liberal party.
– Nonsense !
– How can my honorable friends opposite secure social justice to the men in the agricultural fields when they are denied the same right as is extended to other workers?
– The State can give them fuller justice than the Commonwealth could do.
– But that is not using the powers of the Commonwealth.
– My honorable friend, I see, has a mental reservation. During the electoral campaign our honorable friends toured the country, and pointed out to the farmer that the only thing standing between him and prosperity was that the man who did his work wanted something like a living wage. The farmer is quite sure that disaster awaits him if - his employes are paid in something like proportion to what the employes in other indus tries are paid. There are other channels by which greater tolls are levied upon the man on the land than are exacted from him by a request for a reasonable wage to his employes. On that subject our friends opposite are silent. We know that they could look for little support from those who control agricultural machinery, bags, twine, artificial manures, and the like, if they told the truth to the farmers - that, day in and day out throughout the year, they were exploited and fleeced by those in control of those combines.
– Instead of that, they went round and told them that the Labour party made the hens go clucking.
– That was one of Senator Bakhap’s fairy tales. It is no exaggeration to say that on agricultural machinery alone last year the men on the land throughout the Commonwealth had to pay unfair toll, to the amount of £1,000,000. That is no mere party statement, but one which can be supported by the report of the Royal Commission which specially investigated the matter. According to the evidence taken by that body strippers and harvesters could be sold for £50 a-piece, and, after allowing for depreciation of plant, &c, would show a profit of 10 per cent, on the capital employed. But instead of the machines being sold for that sum, they were sold at from £’75 to £80 each. As there were 8,700 of these machines sold in Australia in 1911, and an extortionate charge of £25 was made upon each of them, the farmers upon this one item alone were robbed of £217,000. The same monopoly has control of the seed drill business. This implement, it was ascertained by the same Commission, could be manufactured and sold at a substantial profit for £22. But a fair profit does not content the Trust which controls this particular machine. Instead of selling it at £22, they exacted for it £36 from the farmers of Australia. As there were 17,100 of these drills sold in 1911, the farmers were thus called upon to pay the Trust £239,400 more than they ought to have paid. If the overcharge on these two machines alone were equally divided between the farmers and the Trust, the former would have been able to pay their employes a better rate of wages, and, at the same time, would have made a bigger profit on their operations for the year. My honorable friends opposite have never gone to the length of explaining to the farmers of the Commonwealth that there is a Wheat Ring in Australia, and that by reason of its operations they lost on the crop for 1911 no less a sum than £625,000. This result was brought about by the manipulation of prices. In binder-twine a similar set of conditions obtains. Three or four years ago the man on the land could purchase his twine at a fixed price, but to-day, although the cost of producing this article is not one whit more than it was, he has to pay 25 per cent, more for it.
– Is not the cost of production actually less than it was ?
– As a matter of fact, the production of binder-twine to-day costs 6£ per cent, less than it did four years ago. Corn sacks is another item in respect of which the farmers are being unfairly dealt with by the Bag Combine. In 1909, the standard corn sacks were sold for 4s. 4d. per dozen. In November and December of last year the price had risen to 8s. per dozen - an increase of almost 100 per cent, in three or four years.
– Has the honorable member read the statistics relating to the jute crop lately?
– Yes. This is the information that the honorable senator ought to have given to the farmers amongst whom he sought political support.
– I will give them the information which is contained in the remarks of the Victorian Minister of Agriculture, who recently inquired into the matter.
– I wish the honorable senator to understand that I am not making statements from hearsay. My statements are based on the results of an investigation by a Royal Commission. Some time ago, when the present Government proposed to exempt rural workers from the operation of the Arbitration Act, a criticism of their action appeared in the Melbourne Age, which, I think, honorable senators ought to hear. It reads -
The proposal to exempt rural workers from the operation of the Arbitration Act is even less defensible. Is it logical that men should be deprived of recourse to the Arbitration Court merely because they chance to live and work in the bush? We cannot believe that this item of policy has received proper consideration at the hands of Ministers, in spite of what Mr. Ahern informed the House last evening, for they need but to study it a moment to recognise that the inevitable effect of such a law would be disastrous to the interests which, presumably, they seek to serve. The demand for labour in our great primary industries is nearly always in excess of the supply, and no sane person can suppose that the shortage could be made good by so unwarrantably penalizing the conditions of the rural worker’s lot. lt is a reactionary project which the (Liberals of Australia are certain to condemn. The Liberal cause is bound up in the great democratic principle of equal opportunities for all without invidious discrimination. To exclude rural workers from the Arbitration Act would involve a reckless negation of this principle, for it would rob every country worker of a privilege which every urban artisan enjoys of right.
That is a timely and pungent criticism from a newspaper which has given the present Government a very loyal support, and which is still supporting them.
– It will continue to support them no matter what they say or do.
– Exactly. It is interesting to note what our friends opposite propose to do regarding that great question in which all Australians are interested - I refer to the question of Protection. In the memorandum of Ministerial policy we are told that it is the intention of the Government to maintain the existing Tariff. For a brief period prior to the last election, and at intervals during the past three years, scathing articles appeared in the press denouncing the late Government for not having taken steps to remove Tariff anomalies, and to extend more effective Protection to a number of industries which were alleged to be languishing. I am a Protectionist up to the hilt - up to the point of prohibition. I believe that everything that can be manufactured in Australia should be manufactured locally and that upon such articles we should impose such a high duty as would make it impossible for imported articles to compete with Australian production. I believe, further, that everything which we cannot produce locally should be admitted free. I was, and I am still an advocate of the doctrine of the new Protection. But I am loyal to the Leader of our party, Mr. Fisher, who, prior to the last elections, declared that if the verdict of the people was against the new Protection he would accept that verdict and proceed as early as possible, if returned to power, to extend to Australian industries that protection which the electors had directed him to extend to them. But what is the policy of the present Government? The Free Trade members of it know that they dare not move for a reduction of the duties upon some of the items of the present Tariff, whilst the Protectionists know that they dare not move for increased duties upon other items, although the existing duties do not afford our industries adequate protection.
– That is why they are shelving it.
– Yes. The whole case was most innocently given away by a leading Fusion newspaper the other day. When I read it, honorable senators will see at once the influences which are operating to keep my honorable friends opposite absolutely silent, and to keep their hands off Tariff reform. This newspaper - the Mercury-
– Where is it published ?
– T. almost expected to see Senator Bakhap’s moustachios stick out in indignation at that question. The Mercury is published in Tasmania.
– Where is Tasmania ?
– I wish Senator Findley, who has always claimed to be y good Federalist, to understand that Tasmania is part of Australia. This quotation from the Mercury explains what I take to be the true attitude of the present Government in regard to Tariff reform -
The Liberal party is pledged to maintain the present Tariff in the main, with only such alterations as are clearly necessary. The principle of Protection is recognised, and the practice (up to the present limits), but while the Free Trade section of the party will not attempt to lower the Tariff, the Protectionist section is to preserve a similar discretion.
Most innocently this newspaper, which is the official organ of the Liberal party in Tasmania, lias given away the attitude of the present Government on the question of Protection. This is a matter which ought to occupy the attention of the Government at the earliest possible moment; and if they are not disposed voluntarily to undertake the reorganization of the Tariff, they ought to be compelled to do so by the members of the Opposition. T am certain that when the Government go to the country, as they surely will have to do in the course of a few months, they will be asked, in the most decided terms possible, what has become of those wholehog Protectionist arguments that were used at the recent elections in every part of Australia. In a sense, the Government have taken refuge behind the Inter-
State Commission; and they are telling the public now that it would not be wise to move in regard tq the Tariff until they obtain the information which the Commission has been appointed to collect. There cannot be a shadow of doubt that the Inter-State Commission is capable of performing, and will perform, very valuable work on behalf of Australia. But it ought not to be the function of the Inter-State Commission to deal with, a Tariff schedule. That ought to be the sole function of Parliament. The whole question ought to be fought out here. I subscribe entirely to the sentiment expressed by ex-Senator Sir Josiah Symon who, speaking at Adelaide during the recent election campaign in regard to the Inter-State Commission, said -
Now, as to the future, one or two words. First, as to the Tariff. You know I am a FreeTrader. (Applause.) Nevertheless, 1 recognise that this country has adopted as its settled policy the principle of Protection, and I recognise, too, that that Tariff will have to be investigated and revised sooner or later. But I am not in favour of this proposed Board, to be a buffer between the manufacturers, fir the people, and the Parliament. I know wlm happened when a Tariff Commission was appointed by the Government, of which I had the honour to be a member, in 1904-5. After that the Tariff was again re-opened for revision. The recommendations of that Tariff Commission, that Board, were really treated as of comparatively little value. You will have a Board which will be costly, and which will only provide another avenue for button-holing, and that sort of thing. If there is to be a revision of the Tariff, let us fight it again boldly, on the floor of the Parliament, and not through the instrumentality or with the preliminary aid of any delegated Board. (Applause.)
I submit, in support of the opinion expressed by Sir Josiah Symon, that we ought to undertake willingly the investigation of the existing Tariff, with the object of seeing whether it cannot be made more effective. In regard to old-age pensions, I have to hurl the accusation at the Government that they are departing from the platform which they presented to the country. Here I may remark that the Liberal party are following us pretty closely in having a platform with numbered planks. We have a pledge, and they have adopted one, too. We have a system of pre-election, and they have adopted the same method. If they keep on like this, they will soon be up to the standard of responsibility which has always characterized the movements of the Labour party. In plank 13, the
Liberal party is pledged to maintain oldage and invalid pensions. The Government memorandum indicates the manner in which they are going to maintain that system. My honorable friend, Senator Mullan, in his remarkably able speech, has dealt very eloquently and effectively with that question. I do not propose to follow him, because I could not hope to improve upon the very fine argument presented by him in opposition to the scheme of the Government. There is, however, another plank in the Liberal platform to which I wish to call attention. It is No.6 -
To control by law the operations of trusts and combinations acting detrimentally to the interests of the people.
Those are strenuous words, and an opportunity is offering to-day to honorable senators opposite to put them into practical operation. There is a Shipping Combine operating between the mainland and Tasmania, which is acting most unfairly towards the people of the latter State.
– It is robbing the people of Tasmania.
– It has been robbing them for a considerable time. One of the most prominent supporters of the Liberal party in the other House, Mr. McWilliams, has declared, in the most emphatic terms, that there is a Shipping Combine, and that it does regulate prices. Freights have been, for some time past, extremely high, and have imposed considerable burdens upon the consumers of our State. In fact, we pay the highest freights and passenger rates in Australia. But something else has happened recently which justly alarms the people of Tasmania. High as freights have been, within the last month or six weeks there has been an increase of 15 to 20 per cent. We in Tasmania wish to use every possible means to keep the population there, and to attract others. But we are finding it almost impossible to attract people from oversea, and difficult, indeed, to maintain our native population in face of handicaps which are multiplied. This is not to be wondered at, when we remember that our people are exploited by the shipping companies and other combines operating from the mainland. A number of articles have appeared in Tasmanian newspapers which are strong supporters of the Liberal party, stating that unless something is done to prevent the shipping companies from inflating the already high Tariff it will be a serious look-out for Tasmania.
– What was the attitude of the people on the referenda?
– We improved our vote as compared with the previous one, and the things which are happening today will make the people of Tasmania exceedingly sorry that, on the 31st May last, they refused to give the Commonwealth power to enable our Government to deal effectively, from a central authority, with shipping and other combines. This matter of the shipping and mail services has been brought more than once under the notice of the Government. Now that the seal of silence has been removed from the lips of the Government, we may expect the courtesy of a reply to the frequent questions on this subject asked by honorable senators on this side. How do the present Government propose to rescue Tasmania from under the heel of this monopoly ? If the newspapers correctly represent their views, the Government are going to enter into a contract with the Union Steam-ship Company for seven years, giving the company an increased subsidy. They propose to grant a subsidy which would enable the Commonwealth to pay interest on the cost of two new Loonyanas. The statement I am about to make is not presented for the purpose of giving offence to the party opposite. I say that it is not reasonable to expect that our friends are likely to take any action that is calculated to conflict with their own interests. By that I mean that many of them are more or less heavily interested in the shares of certain shipping companies. I am not finding any fault or suggesting that there is anything wrong or improper about that.
– Then why make the statement ?
– I will give my reasons. I say that in view of the fact that members of the party opposite are interested in concerns of that kind, it is unlikely that they will do anything to bring about the establishment of a Commonwealthowned line of steamers trading between the mainland and Tasmania. Members of the party, who, before this was mooted, perhaps, for many years held large interests in shipping companies, and who continue to hold those interests, cannot be expected to become enthusiastic over a Commonwealtli-owned line of steamers to establish communication between the mainland and Tasmania. We are engaged in linking up the East with the West of Australia by a Commonwealth railway, and that is a perfectly proper thing for us to do. It is a necessary and natural corollary of that that we should link Tasmania with the mainland by a Commonwealth line of steamers, affording to our people a more rapid and less expensive service.
– Which the Fisher Government proposed to do.
– And which I believe they will have an early opportunity of doing if our friends opposite have the courage to take the course that political tradition and decency ought to suggest to them .
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - We have the courage to take honorable senators opposite with us to the country, if they will go with us.
– Much as I like my honorable friend, Senator Gould, I do not desire to take his interjection seriously. There is no occasion for the honorable senator or myself to go to the- country. We can continue to sit here in this secure haven of rest and. watch the electors determinating the issue for another place. When the issue is settled there it will be settled here. I submit that even if the present Government had a working majority, they have a three years’ record of legislation and administration on the part of their predecessors that they would find it very difficult to equal, let alone surpass. There can be no question that the late Government was the most progressive Government in Federal history. Let us listen once more to the voice of Sir Josiah Symon.
– The voice of wisdom.
– Aye, the voice of wisdom. . That gentleman’s idea of freedom evidently did not appeal to our friends opposite. There are men professing Liberal views who are true to Liberal traditions, and have a right to regard themselves and speak of themselves as Liberals. Men of the character of Sir Josiah Symon are ready to do justice to their opponents. A Liberal in the true sense is of no use to our honorable friends opposite.
– The honorable senator is implying that the members of the party opposite are counterfeits.
– I am not implying it; I am asserting it. I asserted it quite early in my remarks, and in the most definite language possible. I have not the least fault to find with a man who describes himself as a Tory, or as ‘a Conservative. He has as good a right to so describe himself as I have to describe myself as a Labour man ; but I do ask that he shall have the courage of his opinions, and live up to what he really is. Some of my best friends are the most deeplydyed Conservatives who could be found in the whole of Australia. I have never found fault with them, nor should I be justified in finding fault with them for calling themselves Conservatives.
– If they called themselves Liberals the honorable senator would find fault with them.
– That would be quite another matter. If they did that Ishould, of course, join issue with them. I have made the statement that the present Government have succeeded the most progressive Government that Australia’ has known. As evidence in support of that contention, I am going to read an extract from a speech made by Sir Josiah Symon, who only quite recently was a very distinguished member of this Chamber. Speaking of Mr. Fisher, Sir Josiah Symon said -
The Prime Minister, in his eagerly awaited speech at Maryborough last night, demonstrated, with almost painful elaboration, what was already obvious - that he leads a Ministry of action. No fair-minded elector would deny that the Fisher Government has accomplished a good deal, and that its performances have usually been characterized by courage, confidence, and definiteness of purpose.
Senior Senior. - He was quoting the South Australian Register, the most Conservative organ on earth.
– He went on to say -
That is what I like to see in a public newspaper of standing and honour. I read something to the same effect in the Mail, and it is in this spirit that I am speaking myself. . The . Federal Ministry may have done too much, and may have done it in a way we disapprove, but I say that they have done things. The calm pride of Mr. Fisher was quite justified. Mr. Deakin has spoken with respect of “ The Labour party’s fixed and decided platform.” To their credit that can be said. They have shown no uncertainty. They have had no fencing. They knew what they wanted, and went for it ; and with definiteness in their objective. They had their platform, and they stuck to it.
That is a statement regarding the late Ministry by a man who was not only a distinguished member of this Chamber, but who occupies a very prominent position in the legal profession of the Commonwealth.
– An equally complimentary statement was made by a very eminent visitor, Sir Edgar Vincent, the chairman of the Imperial Trade Commission.
– That is so, and I think that Admiral Henderson made a somewhat similar .statement. When he visited Australia he said that under the Labour Government Australia was doing things that other countries were talking about. I feel that I have detained the Senate at considerable length, and do not propose to trouble honorable senators much further. I wish just to express the hope that there will be no more shillyshallying on the part of the Government. The people have brought about certain conditions in another place which are as’ unsatisfactory to our party as they are to the party opposite. There is a means of terminating that unsatisfactory state of affairs. The opportunity is awaiting the Government at any moment they like to avail themselves of it. I hope, therefore, that for the sake of the traditions that have characterized Governments in the British Dominions, we shall not any longer witness the spectacle of a Government trying to hang on to office indecently, and throwing the responsibility of remaining there upon the casting vote of the presiding officer in another place. I say once more, that I am certain that the people are anxiously awaiting an opportunity to make themselves more definitely heard than they were at the last election. If that opportunity is given them, I have little fear that the result will be that the term of office of the present Government will be terminated.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ready) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 24th September.
Motion (By Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the Semite do now adjourn.
– Yesterday evening I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he could give me any information respecting a contract between the Federal Government and the Government of Western Australia for the supply of sleepers for the Kalgoorlie-Port Augusta railway. I should like to know whether the honorable senator is yet in possession of any information on the subject!
– I have been able to get the information which the honorable senator desires. According to a memorandum I have received from the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs -
Some 60,000 jarrah sleepers have been supplied under the agreement. The Powerllized kauri sleepers are not due until November next. There has been some delay in agreeing to the exact wording of the deed of contract, but the document is now with the West Australian Government for signature.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 September 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1913/19130911_senate_5_70/>.