5th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I notice, sir, that a portion of the fence surrounding the Parliamentary Garden is used for the purpose of an advertisement hoarding. I desire . to know whether the fence has been let for that purpose, and, if not, whether steps will be taken by you to prevent it from being so used 1 I refer ‘ to the portion of the fence facing Albertsstreet, which has been used for some time as an advertisement hoarding.
– It is quite news to me that any portion of the fence round the Parliamentary Gardens is being used for the purpose of an advertisement hoarding. I can assure the honorable senator that such a thing has never happened with my approval, norshall it happen in the future with my approval. I shall make inquiries, and, if the case is as stated, and the matter is within my control, I shall take steps to put a stop to the practice immediately.
asked the Vice-Pre sident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
In view of the appeal published during the last Federal election in Tasmania and in other ports of the Commonwealth, which read - “ Vote for the Liberal party and the reduction of the cost of living” - and the fact that Mr. Knibbs’ records, as published in Wednesday’s Age, indicate that the cost of living is still going up, will the Minister indicate what particular measure in the Government’s programme this session is intended to redeem this promise ?
– The answer is -
The general effect and purpose of the whole policy of the Government, both as to legislation and administration, will have the result indicated; but, in view of the state of parties in this chamber, the Government consider it would be futile tosubmit its proposals to Parliament prior to an appeal to the electors.
GOD’S OWN COUNTRY.
SenatorREADY asked the Minister re presenting the Prime Minister,upon notice -
– The answer is -
This matter was considered by the representatives of the Commonwealth and State of Victoria in London some time ago; but they considered that,as the book bore on its face proof of its exaggeration and untruthfulness, it would be giving it an undue advertisement to take any official notice.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice - 1.Is the Minister aware that serious complaints were made publicly in the press of Tasmania as to the quality and quantity of the food supplied to the recruits at the Perth encampment, Tasmania?
– The answer to the questions is -
No complaints have been received, but inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
FEDERAL CAPITAL: STONE.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
SEASONING OF TIMBERS.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are-
The only timber at present stored is in open drying sheds, and consists of -
MAP OF AUSTRALIA.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are - 1 and 2. - I would call the honorable senator’s attention to report in Minister of Home Affairs’ Schedule No. 17, reading -
Proofs of this map have been printed, and copies sent to the Surveyor-General of each State have been returned with corrections. These have been made on the sheets prepared by the Department of Lands, Sydney, but suggestions have not yet been received from the Admiralty or the Royal Geographical Society of England. Meanwhile new transfers are being obtained of the sheets as corrected by the Surveyors-General, and the work will be put on the stones, upon which any future corrections will be made.
It is not anticipated that the finallyrevised map will be ready for issue before June, 1914, although advance proofs may be available.” The reports of the Admiralty and Royal Geographical Society, England, are not yet to hand. 3 and 4. - I will ascertain how the southern portion of West Coast of Tasmania is shown on the proof map, and draw the attention of the officers concerned to the remarks of. the honorable senator and the necessity for correct delineation.
– On the 7th inst., Senator Keating asked a question relative to the establishment of wireless communication with King Island. The following reply has now been furnished : -
The Government has no objection to the residents of King Island arranging to use the installation established there by Father Shaw. They have already been so informed, and the Postmaster-General offered them a sum of £150 per annum towards the cost of working it.
– The Government ought to do this themselves, and not call upon the people there to contribute.
– In regard to the same matter, the following reply to a further question has just been handed to me : -
No formal offer to sell the wireless station at King Island to the Government for the sum of £1,250 has been received. In the first place, a verbal offer was made to the PostmasterGeneral to sell the station for £3,000. Subsequently a person who, it is understood, is now interested in the Shaw Wireless Limited, called at the office of the Engineer for Radiotelegraphy, and made a verbal offer on behalf, of his company, to sell the station in question for the sum mentioned. He was asked to put his offer in writing, but such an offer has not yet been received.
– Bub the Government ought to establish the station and make the people of King Island citizens of the Commonwealth.
Debate resumed from 7th May (vide page 712), on motion by Senator Oakes -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to: -
To His Excellency the Governor-General. May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament..
It is a poor compliment to their Leader that there should be only five or six members of the party opposite present in the chamber to listen to him.
Standing Orders, with1 which I was acquainted, I found that an interjection is permissible from a senator provided that he draws attention to a quorum not being present. I did not use the word “ quorum,” nor did I draw attention to the state of the Senate. I desire, sir, to get a definite ruling on the subject. Is it to be understood that if an honorable senator draws attention to the absence of members of a party from the chamber, without referring to the state of the Sen ate, that is a call for a quorum?
– Standing order 57 is very definite on the matter -
If any senator shall take notice, or if the Chairman of Committees shall report to the President, that a quorum as aforesaid is not present, the bells shall be rung for two minutes; the President shall then count the Senate, and, if a quorum be not present, he shall forthwith adjourn the Senate till the next sitting day.
– May I be allowed to interject, sir? The word “quorum “ has been quoted by you ; a quorum is twelve senators.
– To me, there seems to be no doubt that if the attention of the presiding officer be called, to the absence of senators, it is imperative upon him to see that a quorum is present. In view of the interpretation which I place upon the standing order, when my attention was called to the attendance in the chamber, I had no other course open to me but to order the bells to be rung so as to form a quorum.
– With all due respect sir, that is against May’s Parliamentary Practice.
– I - I should like to know whether it is customary for an honorable senator who interjects during the course of another honorable senator’s speech to be supplied with a proof copy of his interjections? If that is the custom, it is just as well that we should all be made aware of it.
– An honorable sena-, tor can see the proofs if he so desires. That has been the practice since we first met here.
– I - If it is the practice, I should like to know whether honorable senators have a right to correct the proof copy of their interjections, just as they have a right to correct the proof copy of their speeches?
– Order ! This discussion is altogether irregular. Had
I not been engaged in speaking to Senator Oakes at the time it arose, I would not have permitted it. However, in order to settle .the matter, I wish to say that the right which honorable senators enjoy is a right to be supplied with a proof copy of their speeches for purposes of correction. I have never heard of anybody being supplied with a proof of his interjections. At the same time, I can see no objection to any honorable senator going to the Hansard staff for the purpose of verifying what he has said.
– A full report of the debates is sent to the Minister’s room.
– Owing to circumstances over which I had no control, I had not the pleasure of addressing you, sir, during the last session of this Parliament. In doing so now, I wish to express the gratification which is felt by a majority of the electors of Queensland - the sincere feeling of pleasure of your thousands of friends in that huge State - and to convey my own congratulations to you, on your elevation to the high office of President of this Chamber. I feel quite sure that you will discharge your onerous and responsible duties with that spirit of firmness, ability, straightness, and energy which has characterized your public life, both State and Federal. I do not intend to traverse any of the ground that has been covered in another place during the discussion of the censure motion there within the past three weeks. I have perused those debates very carefully, but I have not been able to dig up anything fresh. There is no desire whatever to traverse old ground, nor do I intend to attempt to follow the Minister of Defence into the indefinite details which he gave the Chamber last night during the course of a two and a half hours’ speech. His remarks, of course, were intended as a reply to the Leader of the Opposition here. The presentment of our case was put’ forward by Senator McGregor, and the presentment of the Government defence was in the hands of the Minister of Defence. I merely wish to add that members of the Labour party in this Chamber are quite prepared to abide by the presentment which has been made on our behalf. There is one matter to which I would like to refer - a matter which was touched on by the Minister of Defence during the course of his remarks. I mention it specially for the, information of Senator Keating, who yesterday retorted to an interjection of mine that the Minister had already explained who was responsible for the change of policy effected by the Government from day labour to the contract system in the matter of railway construction. To my mind, the Leader of the Government in this Chamber did not make that point at all clear. Leaving the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs and Mr. Deane entirely out of consideration, I say that the Government which substituted the contract system for the system of day labour made it possible for abuses of this character to creep in, and they alone are responsible.
– Look at the Ministerial benches now. There is not a single Government supporter present.
– I also wish to refer to the statement of the Minister in regard to the question of a double dissolution. I shall not endeavour to combat his arguments, because I am prepared to stand by the presentment which has been, made of our case, both in the House . of Representatives and here. Loth as I am to enter upon another election for the Senate - because I can ill afford to traverse an extensive State like Queensland - I am prepared to go to the country to-morrow; in fact, I would be eager for a double dissolution if the Government would ‘ only agree to once more place the referenda proposals before the electors. During recent months we have heard a good deal about trusting the people. Are the Government prepared to trust them sufficiently to place before them the referenda proposals which were defeated by such a narrow majority last year?
– T - They intend to put forward some wishy-washy proposals of their own.
– Yes, in an endeavour to side-track the issue. Of course it may be urged that these proposals have already been defeated twice, namely, in 1911 and in 1913. But our opponents, who contend that representation in this Parliament is so evenly divided that legislation cannot be carried on, entirely overlook the fact that the position of political parties here is less evenly balanced than is the position of the electors in regard to the referenda proposals. In the Commonwealth Legislature to-day there are sixty-six Labour members, and only forty-five Fusionists. Now the referenda proposals were defeated only by majorities ranging from 20,000 to 30,000; and we are justified, therefore, in arguing that upon those proposals the electors are more evenly divided than are the rival parties in this Parliament. I propose now to mention one or two matters which, in my judgment, are of outstanding importance from an Australian stand-point. Chief of these is the question of Tariff reform. As is well known, the Labour party are pledged to the policy of the new Protection. I am an ardent new Protectionist. I have been an ardent Protectionist ever since I commenced the study. of political economy in an elementary way. I was a very keen old Protectionist, but when the Labour party in its wisdom evolved a scheme of new Protection, I became somewhat luke-warm on the question of the old Protection.
– We cannot have the new Protection without the old.
– My honorable friend has anticipated me. Iam still enthusiastic upon the question of the new Protection, but I am keenly alive to the absolute necessity which exists for granting Protection of some kind to our industries; and if we cannot get the new Protection, then, “ Give us the old Protection.” To dispel any idea of inconsistency on my part, I propose to state the grounds on which my conviction is based. As is well known, the new Protection provides for protection being extended to the manufacturer, the worker, and the consumer. It is contended that the old Protection protects only the manufacturer. So it does, legislatively. We maintain that persons other than the manufacturers can and ought to be protected. Granted that effective Protection is given to the manufacturers, I am firmly convinced that the- workers in protected industries - if they cannot secure protection by legislative enactment - will protect themselves. This conclusion was forced upon my mind by the experience of the Brisbane strike in 1912. I then became convinced that the workers of Australia are determined to secure justice. If the Parliaments of the Commonwealth will not grant them justice they will obtain it by striking, and good luck to them. It -may be said that we are not going to protect the consumer. My reply is that he occupies exactly the 6ame position as does the worker. The consumers as a body will have to protect themselves. They have had two opportunities of doing this by carrying the referenda proposals, but they have refused to embrace them. I have no doubt, however, that a change of opinion amongst the electors is imminent. Another matter of great importance to which I desire to allude is the pernicious system of tipping which is eating into the heart of the Australian nation. It is growing with a prickly-pear rapidity, and I contend that the levity displayed by the Minister of Defence and his one colleague towards this question is very superficial. I shall endeavour to show why. On the steam-boats plying between Queensland ports, where there is no railway opposition, we pay fares running from 15s. to a guinea a time. By “ a time “ is meant, from 15s. to a guinea, on an average, for each meal and each bed. The travelling public pay these exorbitant fares, and, in addition, are expected - in fact, almost forced - to assist to pay the wages of the employes of the Shipping Trust. Half-a-dozen times at Queensland ports I have been followed on to the various jetties by stewards, who have asked me if I had forgotten them. I always reply politely that I have not forgotten the stewards, but that I pay my fare, that if the stewards want their wages they should get them from the Shipping Trust who employ them, and that if the Shipping Trust does not pay them enough it should be made to do so.
– Is there not an award in that industry ?
– There is an award for the stewards. This was made by Mr. Justice Higgins, who lias been subjected to very harsh criticism, almost amounting to slander, at the hands of people represented by honorable senators opposite. If, as a Labour party, we wanted to condemn Mr. Justice Higgins on the Bench, we could make out a strong case against him in regard to that very award, by which he did more to injure the Labour movement in Australia than any dozen of his other awards have injured the other side. If my memory is correct, he awarded a minimum wage of 25s. a week for stewards, and made an allowance of 15s. a week to be made up in tips by the public, making the total minimum wage £2 a week. That award was right up against our Australianism and our Democracy, and totally opposed to the principles which we advocate for the uplifting of humanity generally. It is nothing but a breeder of servility. How can we expect to build up a nation if we encourage men to dance attendance on others, holding and brushing their coats, and carrying their bags, in the expectation of receiving a 2s. or 2s. 6d. tip 1 I am not blaming the men, and they know my views, for I have been speaking on this subject in and out of Parliament for the past five years. The fact that not much progress has been made towards reform is, perhaps, an evidence that my influence is not very great.
– The tip is too strong for you.
– I do not think it would be too strong if public opinion were to take the matter up. The practice is a breeder of abject servility, and is totally opposed to the Labour party’s principles of a fair wage and the right of the worker to get the full results of his industry.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - If Mr. Justice Higgins increased the award, I do not think it would stop the tipping practice.
– I quite admit that the only thing to stop it is public opinion. It is also eating its way into our railway systems.
– It has been there all the time.
– I differ from the honorable senator. Its growth during the last seven or eight years in our railway systems has been astounding. It is actually encouraged by the Railway Department in Queensland to enable them to sweat their employes. They start what are nominally called lad porters at 10s. a week, with half-yearly increases of about 2s. 6d. These lads are under twenty-one years of age, but physically’ many of them are just as good men now as ever they will be, and are expected to> make up sufficient to live upon by getting tips out of the public. That system is openly encouraged by the Railway Department of Queensland, where the Minister of Railways, in reply to a statement of mine on the subject, said he saw no harm in porters taking gratuities from people who were disposed to give them. In fact, our over boomed Railway Commissioner in Queensland encourages the idea, although he will sack a man if he takes part in politics.
– I - Is it not forbidden by the railway regulations?
– There is a regulation on the subject, but it is a dead letter. As an instance of the effects of the evil, if Senator Oakes or Senator Millen came along carrying an overcoat, or a brief bag, he would be surrounded by three or four lad porters asking him if he wished to be shown to a smoker; whereas a lady travelling second class, and burdened with two or three children, would be allowed to struggle with her boxes by herself.
– Is that not a fault of railway supervision?
– No ; it is all attributable to the tipping system.
– It is everywhere the same.
– It is far worse in Great Britain and on the Continent, and we in Australia ought to raise a protest before it reaches the same dimensions here. Let me give an instance of what happens when one travels between Sydney and Wallangarra - the Queensland border town. Again, I make no complaint against the men, but only against the system of which they are the victims. I am well known on the Queensland railways and the Queensland steamers, and am rarely troubled there for a tip, because I never give one, but when I get out of the New South Wales train at Wallangarra I generally tell any one who is travelling with me to watch the New South Wales conductor. While on the platform waiting for the Queensland train to start he will come to me three or four times. He will ask first, “Did you get a seat, sir?” Again he will come and ask, “Have you got your bag?” Then he will come along and say, “Are you all fixed up, sir?” All these are excuses to enable him to be about. I do not escape into the car, but stand on the platform to see how many times he will come.
– It shows that he is looking after you.
– Yes, in the expectation of receiving a tip. It shows to what depth of servility a man is required to descend by this degrading practice. Is any man placed in that position capable of bringing up a family of self-reliant, independent, democratic, and free young Australians? The system is spreading among our young Australians, and I am entirely opposed to it. Happily, the Railway Department in Victoria has made an attempt to do away with the custom. Any porter who accepts a tip at Spencer-street or Flinders-street is penalized.
– There is a notice in the dining-car to the effect that gratuities are expressly forbidden.
– Yes, and it is treated in the same way as the “ Smoking Prohibited “ notices on every platform. You can walk past them and smoke them brown.
– Let me disabuse the honorable senator’s mind of that idea so far as tipping on the Melbourne stations is concerned. I was made the innocent cause of a railway porter at Spencer-street being accused of receiving a tip. The stationmaster sought me out on the subject, because a charge was made by one of the luggage porters that I had made an inquiry from the railway porter in question and had given him a tip in return for the information. The stationmaster, when informed of my views on the subject, told me that they had done away, as far as they could, with the system of tipping at Spencer-street and at the central station in Flinders-street, with the result that there were now thirty-five luggage porters earning their living between the two stations. I was asked to report on the matter, and gave a statement which has cleared the railway porter. There is no objection to the luggage porters or cabmen charging for services of this kind, but a man in another occupation should get sufficient out of that occupation to leave this particular industry, or whatever it may be called, . to those engaged in it.
– You are not objecting on the ground of being “ scotched,” so much as on the ground of the great principle involved?
– That is so. I think a half-sovereign goes as short a distance with me as with the average man; but I never give a tip on principle, and believe that the time will come, if public attention is focussed on the matter, when railway porters, stewards on the steamboats, and other attendants will get sufficient wages to keep them properly. We are told by those who frequent the leading hotels in our capital cities that it costs as much to get out of them in tips as it would cost to get out of the Flemington race-course if one went there for the day. The practice of tipping is growing and being encouraged by people who disagree with the Labour party, because they like a certain amount of toadying, and to see the young Australians losing their manliness. Although various conferences are held from time to time on different subjects by bodies like the Australian Natives Association; the Commercial Travellers Association, and even by Labour bodies, on not one occasion have I heard of attention being drawn to this important question. The commercial travellers the other day, in conference, voiced complaints about being approached in the country for charitable grants, services, at concerts, and so forth. Complaints were also made about the hotel tariffs, but not one reference was made to the question of tips. The reason, no doubt, is that it is not the commercial traveller himself whose pocket suffers. You will see him handing 5s. or 10s. to the steward on a boat, but it is the consumer who really pays that sum, because it goes down among the expenses. I take it that no better place could be found to ventilate this matter than the National Parliament.
– You are up against a big problem. I hope you succeed.
– It is necessary to draw public attention to the evil. It will then be for public opinion to act; and in years to come, perhaps, we shall see a great change. Twenty years ago other reforms brought forward by the Labour movement were just as coolly received as the suggestion of no tips may be, but we have lived to see them,brought into - effect.
– Would you include Christmas boxes in the same designation?
– I would start first with those who are regularly employed, but certainly would include the practice of giving Christmas boxes, because the thing is getting an absolute affliction. It is an old cap-touching, forelockpulling practice, a bad old tradition handed down to us from Great Britain, and should find no place in our young Democracy. The people should put up their backs against it. I think the abolition of the tipping system should be regarded as a national subject, and I hope the attention now drawn to it will « do some good. Another national subject to which I wish to refer is the alien invasion that is coming down on us in Queensland, and that will incidentally drift further south. An article recently appeared in the Brisbane Daily Standard drawing attention to the fact that “new chum” Chinese were being smuggled into Queensland over the Northern Territory border. The article has, however, been already quoted in the House of Representatives, and it will be sufficient for me to give the headings, which are as follow: - “White Australia flouted,” “ Yellow menace,” “ The open back door,” “ Chinese coolies in hundreds,” “Big syndicate at work,” “ White money-seeking traders concerned.” This is a -subject in which I have taken a very keen interest during the past six or seven years; and have been firmly convinced during all that time that newchum Chinese are drifting into Australia. One has only to visit the Johnstone River district, and the Atherton country, in Queensland, to be convinced of this fact, from the number of Chinese coolies who cannot speak a word of English, who may be seen there. They have evidently just arrived from their own country. In many of the towns of Queensland, and in some of the country districts, the Chinese residents make some attempt to conform to European dress and customs, but if one visits the Chinatown of the Johnstone River district, or the Chinatown of the Atherton district, he will find that the Chinese there do not conform to European customs. In the narrow streets of these Chinatowns Chinese may be seen wearing sandals, loose robes, and flying pigtails, and can be noticed walking up and down, jeering in their own lingo at white men and women. Where do these people come from ? I made a statement five years ago, which is repeated in the Brisbane newspaper to which I have referred, that they come across from the Northern Territory. The statement which appears in the Daily Standard article completely bears out the fears entertained in this connexion. These men are coming into Queensland through that open door at Port Darwin, and why? It is because the Queensland Tory Government have been encouraging them to do so. They are encouraged by the fact that, as coon as they arrive in Queensland, they are allowed to lease land. After the exposure in the Daily Standard of the unlawful traffic that is going on, I received information from the Johnstone River of the conditions under which newchum Chinese are permitted to lease land from the land monopolists of the district. I can briefly enumerate those conditions. I have here an eight-page legal document setting forth the conditions in the usual superfluous legal phraseology, but shall not inflict it upon the Senate. Briefly the conditions of the contract are: - Duration of lease, four years; lessees Ah Hew and Poon Sing. Lease 180 acres. Kent £1 per acre for 51 acres then cleared for the first year; £1 additional per acre per year for each acre stipulated to be cleared under the agreement. During the second and third years they have to clear all of the 180 acres fit for cultivation, and pay £1 a week rent in addition. The rent is payable half-yearly in advance, the lessee to pay all rates and taxes, and there is this very significant condition that the lessees shall ship their product - bananas - by the Adelaide Steam-ship Company only.
– Is that an actual clause of the agreement?
– Yes, there is such an agreement here drawn up by a firm of solicitors at Innisfail, in Queensland, setting forth the conditions to be observed between the white lessor and the Chinese lessee. The leased land is to be subject to a right-of-way for tramway purposes to a firm of shipping agents, and the tenancy is to be terminated by one month’s default in the payment of the rent. This suggests a word or two of reference to the question of the cultivation of bananas on the Johnstone River, in other parts of Queensland, and in the northern parts of New South Wales. When Mr. Tudor was in Queensland, as Minister of Trade and Customs, a deputation, of which I was a member, waited upon him to ask for an increased duty on bananas. I pointed out at that deputation that if the duty were increased it would be the Chinese who would receive the advantage. I have made many inquiries since coming to Melbourne, and find that it is impossible to purchase bananas here, whether Fiji or Queensland bananas, outside the Chinese ring. I have seen the Fiji and Queensland bananas on sale here, and admit that, in some cases, the Queensland bananas are very inferior, but the difference in price between them is not warranted as a general rule by the difference in quality. The difference in price here between Fiji and Queensland bananas runs to 2d. and 3d. per dozen. Whilst admitting that the Queensland bananas that are brought to Melbourne are inferior to the Fiji bananas sold here, I contend that the cause of the inferiority is that the Chinese growers, leasing land from the land monopolists of Northern Queensland, have deteriorated the quality of the bananas grown by ingrowing, lack of cultivation, and loose methods. One of the loose methods adopted is the picking of immature fruit. When this immature fruit arrives in Melbourne the bananas, on being opened, will be found to have a dough-like core running down the middle. I do not blame the people of Melbourne for preferring the Fiji bananas to those which they receive from Queensland’; but we do contend that, in Queensland, we can grow bananas as good as those which are grown in Fiji, or anywhere else. We are growing them at the present time, and not in the most tropical parts of the State, although it will be admitted that tropical districts are most suitable for the cultivation of the bananas. In the southern parts of Queensland, where banana cultivation is carried on by white men, a class of bananas is grown that does not reach Melbourne, because the quality is so good that the fruit does not get past the Brisbane market. We hold that if we had cultivation by white men in the more northern districts we should grow a better banana than is grown there now. It may be suggested that this is a parochial matter, and one with which the Queensland Parliament should deal, but undoubtedly, from some aspects, it may be regarded as a national matter, because the question of the exclusion of
Chinese, and the administration of Federal legislation for the purpose are involved. The administration of that legislation in the past has been very lax under Labour as well as under Liberal Governments. Steamers trading between China and Australia anchor within 300 yards of the jetty at Port Darwin, and are quickly surrounded by Chinese junks and sampans. Passengers on landing have to walk along the jetty and through a turnstile presided over by a Customs officer. But does any one suppose for a moment that new-chum Chinese will walk along that jetty and go through the turnstile? Not much, when there are dozens of junks and sampans around the vessel by which they may be transferred to the shore, and when it is remembered that the shore is only about 300 yards distant, which is but a short swim for an ordinary swimmer. Opium is smuggled into the country by these means, and the lax administration of the Federal authorities is responsible for it. Without doubt, this National Parliament can assist in the exclusion of Chinese by not encouraging them to come here, as the Queensland Government are doing. When we raised the question of the fear of the White Australia policy in Queensland before these disclosures were made, we were told, even at the last election, that we were rattling the dead bones of the kanaka. But no sooner did the Queensland Tories rid themselves of Federal control of the sugar industry than they proceeded to rake up the live bones of kanakas, and of aliens of all kinds - black, yellow, and brindle. They have been given permits indiscriminately to work in the sugar industry. Chinese and other aliens have been granted permits to take the place of white workers in the sugar industry, and many of them have left maize-growing in the Atherton district, and banana-growing in the Johnstone River district, with the result that more Chinese coolies are required for carrying on those industries in the districts named. It is true that there is in Queensland an Act to prevent the leasing of land to aliens. Senators Maughan and Mullan and I were in the Queensland Parliament when the measure was passed, and the Labour party in the Legislative Assembly tried to make the law an absolute prohibition of the leasing of lands to aliens. The Tories would not accept that, and, if they had done so, the Tories in the Legislative Council would have heaved out the measure at once.
– Those Tories need a double dissolution.
– My honorablefriend’s interjection is a very apt one. The best arrangement which the Labourparty in the Queensland Legislative Assembly could make in connexion with that measure was to secure that the area to beleased to any alien should be limited to 5 acres. You, sir, as a resident of North Queensland for many years, and’, doubtless other members of the Senate,, are aware that Chinese coolies are very much alike in appearance. As a means of indicating similarity, the proverbial expression “ As like as two peas “ might be improved upon by the use of the phrase* “ As like as two new-chum Chinese.”’ They are all cousins or brothers. Land,, as a matter of fact, is leased toChinese in large areas, as in the case of the 180 acres just now referred to, thoughnominally it is leased in 5-acre lots to different men. Each Chinese has a block: of 5 acres, which he has to work for a Chinese-importing syndicate. The result is that these men are the absolute tied slaves of the Chinese-importing syndicate for years to come. In proof of that, I can quote from an agreement sent to me from Innisfail, after the disclosures in the Daily Standard. It shows that the conditions up there represent, if not actual slavery, a very near approach toit. Wealthy Chinese syndicates in North Queensland are trafficking to-day in their human brethren. This is quoted from an agreement, drawn up in legal form and! duly signed and attested -
We, Wah Hing and Wiillie Chow Lee, of Innisfail, the within-named lessees -
These men are storekeepers in Innisfail,. and very prominent residents of the district - in consideration of the sum of Six hundred and forty pounds, to be paid to us by Ah Hew and’ Poon Sing, of Innisfail, gardeners, do hereby transfer and assign to the said Ah Hew and Poon Sing, all our right, title, and interest aslessees in and under the within-written lease.
And we, the said Ah Hew and Poon Sing,, hereby agree to accept the above transfer subject to all conditions and obligations on the part of the lessees contained in the withinwritten lease.
Dated and signed.
Ah Hew and Poon Sing have signed their names in shorthand or Chinese hieroglyphics to that document. These new chums have been bound to Wah Hing and Willie Chow Lee to the tune of £640 to go and grow bananas, and they are to pay that sum off with interest and comply with other conditions. How is it to be done? They will never do it. They are there absolutely as slaves for the importing syndicate until they buy their freedom at a wage of about 10s. a week. That is how Chinese are coming into Queensland and drifting to the Southern States; that is why they are brought here. The remedy, doubtless, looked for by honorable senators listening to my remarks is to be obtained not only by taking better precautions at the Northern Territory - if you like, the patrol of the coast by one of our war vessels - but also by a much stricter supervision on the arrival of Chinese boats. Absolutely, the best precaution, in my opinion, would be for the Federal Government to apply the conditions of the Excise and bounty system to the banana industry, which, so far as I am aware, is confined to Queensland and New South Wales only. This system operated very beneficially in that regard in connexion with the sugar industry in those two States, and now that it has been removed, of course all the Chinese are back in the industry, so much so that even the Australian Sugar Producers Association in Queensland, the direct mouth-piece of the refining monopoly, has protested to the Tory Government against granting indiscriminately permits to aliens, to work in the industry. If the Excise and bounty system were applied, and it could be aplied on a per cental basis, I feel quite sure that the aliens would be driven out of the banana industry as they were driven out of the sugar industry. But coming back to the question of the deputation to Mr. Tudor, it was very singular that two or three of the strongest advocates on that occasion for increasing the duty on bananas were shipping managers. One of them was the manager of the Adelaide Steam-ship Company, which company, under this legal agreement, has the exclusive right of carting the cargoes of bananas from some growers on the Johnstone River. Keen as the demand is amongst a section of the Queenslanders for higher protection on bananas, while these conditions prevail in the northern part of that State at the behest of land monopolists, and with the knowledge of the Tory State Government, although an ardent Protectionist, I am not going to ‘ ‘ enthuse ‘ ‘ for an increase in the duty. While the leasing of land to aliens to grow bananas is an inducement for the smuggling of Chinese coolies into Australia, we might as well have the black-grown bananas of Fiji for consumption.
– The Tory Government have issued 1,300 odd permits since that Act was passed.
– They have issued permits indiscriminately. They have taken aliens away from banana and maize growing, and, consequently, other coolies are now necessary to fill their places. The indentors are paid - it is authoritatively stated on information obtained by the Daily Standard - £50 for a Chinese coolie delivered to the grower, in chains it might be said - in financial chains, at any rate, for many years to come. If the Excise and bounty system were applied ‘to the banana industry it would become a white labour industry. We can grow bananas in Queensland as good as the bananas grown in Fiji or elsewhere. I feel sure that the comparison, which is against us in Melbourne to-day, would disappear with the cultivation of the plantations by white labour. But if it did not wholly disappear, as believed, I would be enthusiastic and ardent in the’ advocacy of an increased duty on bananas. I wish now to refer to a matter which transcends many of the questions mentioned at great length elsewhere, and to which much prominence is given in various places, particularly in the newspapers, and on public platforms by politicians, especially politicians on the other side, although we do not overlook or funk the problem. I refer to the prevailing industrial unrest, as it is called, and to the situation thereby created. I do not think there is a member of the Senate who, whether he agrees with my sentiments on this matter or not, will deny that the industrial situation as we find it to-day is a matter of national importance. What are the remedies suggested to wipe out this industrial unrest, or to bring about what our honorable friends are so fond of prating about, industrial peace? When talking a few minutes ago about the industrial workers going to protect themselves in another way, Senator Oakes interjected, “ That means byforce.” Allow me to tell that honorable senator and his colleagues that the people who refuse legislative redress to the workers of the Commonwealth or elsewhere are the actual, if unconscious, advocates of the use of force. I ask Senator Oakes what is the alternative.
– I was only quoting Mr. Hughes.
– I ask the honorable senator, or any of his colleagues, if he is not prepared to give the workers legislative redress, what is the alternative ? My honorable friends say to the workers, “No; we will not allow you to improve your conditions through Courts established for that purpose.” What is the alternative? The alternative is to do it the other way. What is the other way?
– Who says so?
– I shall show the honorable senator where it has been not only said but done in a dozen ways by the Employers Federation of Australia, who are doing the bidding of the trusts of Australia, and who, I may say, with all fairness, and. without any desire to be personal, have in this Chamber delegates acting in their behalf as honorable senators.
– That is an infamous and untrue statement.
– I beg pardon.
– It is an untrue statement.
– The cap fits. I did not say it was the honorable senator. I said that some honorable senators are delegates of the Employers Federation in this Chamber, doing the bidding of the trusts above them.
– Youfind it safer to libel them here than outside; that is a libel.
– I will say it outside at any time.
– Oh, you will, say anything.
– We are not judging the honorable senator on his words, but are judging him and his party on their actions. In reply to the interjection of Senator Oakes, let me say that any award which has been delivered by Mr. Justice Higgins has never been broken by the employes.
– What about the bakers’ strike in Sydney now?
– They have not broken the award yet.
– Do you say they have not broken it?
– I will make a. reference to that case if the honorable senator likes. Will he mention one instance where an award of Mr. Justice Higgins in the Arbitration Court has been broken by the employes ?
– I give you this one now.
– Outside of that case - and it is not an “award by Mr. Justice Higgins, to start with - can the honorable senator cite one other case? He cannot. We can give half-a-dozen in- . stances where an award has been broken by the employers.
– What special virtue is there in an award of Mr. Justice Higgins as against any other award ?
– Nothing; but I happened to mention his name.
– There have been dozens of Arbitration awards broken. The Waterside Workers’ case was a case in point. There they had to establish a State tribunal to get the men to go back under the Federal award.
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that I am talking about the Federal Arbitration Court.
– So am I.
– We can quote half-a-dozen instances, where the awards of that Court have been violated in effect by the Employers Federation, and will start with a case which occurred two years ago. The tramway employes of Brisbane, who went out on strike, got an award for increased rates of pay, and for preference to unionists. That award has not been observed by the employing monopoly - not much. They appealed to the High Court on various subjects whether there was a dispute, &c. I think that the last heard of the matter was that a question had been raised by the employers as to whether there was a dispute extending beyond the limits of a State, or whether the Arbitration Court had any jurisdiction. The High Court ruled that they had jurisdiction to set aside an award of the Arbitration Court, and, if remembered rightly, the order nisi for prohibition sought by the employers was made returnable some time this month in Melbourne.
– That is not a breach of the award. That is a case of a body of men exercising their rights under the law.
– I am not sticking to a breach of the award, but saying that the employers have not abided by the award.
– It is not an award so long as it is within the jurisdiction of the High Court.
– I am going to show how, through the employment of capital in taking the case from Court to Court, it will never be allowed to become an award. When the order nisi for prohibition is returnable in Melbourne this month, it will be over two and a half years since the issue was raised; and if the appeal be decided adversely to the employers, then, to quote the words of Mr. Badger, king of the monopoly in Brisbane, he will take the case to the Privy Council in London. If Senator Oakes were asked to be content to wait over two years for redress, would he face the possibility, the high probability, of having to wait another year or two while the matter went away on appeal to the Privy Council ? It is not unreasonable to expect that if the award goes to the Privy Council we should then see the present Chief Justice taking another health trip to London to “ confab “ with my lords of the Privy Council before the hearing of the issue, the same as was done in the Coal Vend case. It is said that these matters are never touched upon. I contend that eminent jurists are like everybody else, humanly. When a numberof them get together, what is the first thing they talk about? It is shop, and “hobnobbing “ and “confabbing” with my lords of the Privy Council has a very good colouring, in my opinion, according to charges we could level-
– Are you suggesting that Sir Samuel Griffith took a health holiday for that purpose?
– I am saying that he might take another health holiday.
– You have no objection to Mr. Justice Higgins getting a holiday ?
– I think that I have given no great praise to Mr. Justice Higgins in my remarks to-day.
– You are suggesting that Sir Samuel Griffith took a health holiday for quite another purpose.
– What did our honorable friends opposite and their press puppets insinuate against Mr. Justice Higgins time after time? My words are mild as milk compared with the slanders put out by the honorable senator’s side.
– No one has suggested that Mr. Justice Higgins has taken a holiday for any other purpose than that given out to the world at large, but the honorable senator is now saying that Sir Samuel Griffith took a holiday for the purpose of influencing the judgment of the Law Courts at Home.
– It looks very like it.
– Now Senator Rae says “ it looks very like it.”
– He did not insinuate that at all.
– If he said it, why should he not stick to it?
– I will stick to anything I say.
– He did not say it at all.
– I propose for the edification of my honorable friends opposite to cite further instances where the employers have not abided by awards of the Federal Arbitration Court. The master builders are appealing against an award made in relation to the conditions of the builders’ labourers. The Merchant Service Guild’s award is being appealed against by the Steam-ship Owners’ Association. In Victoria the other ‘day we heard of a body of stone-cutters absolutely refusing to sit on a Wages Board to give an award. Therefore, they have locked out their employes.
– They did the same thing with the drivers’ strike in Adelaide.
– A dozen times the same story could be repeated. I was in Sydney during the three weeks of the meat strike.0 Never in the history of industrialism in the- Commonwealth was there a greater effort made by the employing class to promote a big strike than was put forth on that occasion. The master butchers - if I may use a trade term - were “ hogging “ for a fight at the behest of the Employers Federation, doing the bidding of the trust on top, all in preparation for an election that might take place as the result of a single or double dissolution. Before the caseof the waterside workers went to the Arbitration Court, the Tory newspapers of Brisbane plainly advised the ship-owners to put up their backs and to fight. The Employers Federation wanted a big strike - a strike that would affect the people - such as would occur through the stoppage of the meat supply or of steamship communication. Of course, the bread case, to which I shall refer directly-
– Were the men observing the award of the Court, or were they breaking it?
– They were breaking the award of the Industrial Court of New South Wales.
– And it was quite wrong for the employers to resist their efforts ?
– The employers are breaking awards every day. What they have been doing for years it is fair for the workers to do. In support of my statement that an attempt was made by the employers to bring about a strike, I wish to mention that one morning I attended early at the principal depot in George-street, which was run by these master butchers, strolling down at about 10 o’clock. There was not a soul outside the shop, but there were about a dozen employers inside the establishment engaged in cutting up meat. Not a solitary individual was taking any notice of the establishment. That did not suit the master butchers, and soon afterwards three burly policemen came along - they have some very fine men in the force in New South Wales, and these were three of the finest - and stood outside the shop, although there was no gathering there apart from the ordinary traffic.
– What time was the shop opened for business?
– My honorable friend has anticipated me, Naturally, when the police stood on duty outside, the people gathered out of curiosity to learn what was the matter. When the crowd became sufficiently large, one of these socalled master butchers got to work with a whitewash brush, and wrote on the window of the establishment “ Sale commences at 2 o’clock,” a very glaring endeavour to create a stampede. In proof of my statement that all the people in the crowd were not in quest! of meat, I may mention that I had my pocket picked of a presentation tobacco pouch.
– The honorable senator ought not to keep such company.
– In the crowd were many master butchers at the time. When the shop was opened at 2 o’clock, the people did not stampede worth 2d., and the master butchers were disappointed. Accordingly, another endeavour was made to create a stampede. It was attempted in this fashion : The supply of meat each day was increased up till Saturday, when a double quantity was required to carry the people over Sunday.. But on the Saturday the supply forthcoming was only half that which was available on ordinary days. Yet these are the people who are opposed to preference to unionists. Does my honorable friend, Senator Oakes, support the attitude of the master butchers?
– Does the honorable senator support the attitude of the people who wanted meat?
– Does the honorable senator support the action of the men in breaking the State award ?
– Does Senator Oakes support the attitude of the master butchers in that strike?
– If the master butchers were standing behind the law, I support them.
– I did not put my question to the Minister. Speaking from memory, there were 600 retailers in the metropolitan and suburban area of Sydney. All but sixty of these were prepared to concede to the men the advance in wages asked for.
– What was the good of the award ?
– The balance of that 600 were not allowed to do so. The carcass butchers gave them to understand that if they conceded the conditions demanded by the men they would get no carcasses supplied to them. Some shops did open in defiance of the master butchers and of the carcass butchers. They were in a position to buy, kill, and supply beef under union conditions.’ How were they treated ? An association known as the master butchers and allied trades, including fellmongers - the buyers of butchers’ by-products, such as hoofs, horns, hides, skins, and tallow - prevented firms engaged in that industry from touching those byproducts of these union shops. - Yet these are the people who accuse the Labour party of favouring preference to unionists.
– It is a federation of interests on one side as against a federation of interests on the other side.
– The interests of the employers have been federated for years, and it is time that the interests of the employes were federated. The people did not stampede for the meat. They realized that they were paying very high prices for that commodity. The season was an appropriate one for a decreased supply of meat. It was the Lenten season. Eventually the master butchers were only too glad to re-open their shops.
– Before leaving that question I want to ask the honorable senator if he indorses the action of the men in breaking the award of the Court?
– If the increased cost of living brought about a lessening of the wages of the men, and if they could not get prompt access to the Court again, I would say that they ought not to abide by the award. They should do as the employers do.
– Break the award when it does not suit them.
– I think it is time that the word “ masters “ in its industrial application was expunged from the Australian vocabulary. The workers do not recognise any masters but themselves. They are the wealth producers, and numerically they are the stronger. Why should this term be used in an industrial sense in democratic Australia ? I refuse to recognise any master by whom I may be employed. Another phase of this question was mentioned by me a little while ago when referring to the Brisbane general strike. If the Employers Federation of New South Wales succeed in engineering a big strike just before a general election, they may find themselves in the same position as that in which the Brisbane Employers Federation found themselves after the general strike of 1912. To-day it is almost impossible to get a Tory there to mention that strike. When reference is made to it the Tory will reply, “ That is ancient history.” I have no hesitation in declaring that if organized labour in Brisbane asked the Queensland branch of the Employers Federation to-morrow fox a conference, its request would be granted. It is often urged that when the workers go on strike they lose thousands of pounds in wages. That is perfectly true ; but at the end of the year are they much worse off ? Very little. But what do the employers lose if there is a protracted strike ? They lose dividends - their religion and money - their god. Although the Employers Federation of Victoria were loyal unionists to the Employers Federation of Queensland after the general strike, and although they sent along a donation of £3,000 to help to wipe out the expenses that had been incurred, members of the latter body were bewailing the effects of that strike for twelve months afterwards. Their annual reports contained lamentable wails about the losses which they suffered during the industrial upheaval. The man who, by virtue of his office, was at the head of that strike, Mr. Coyne, was vilified and maligned incessantly. Even his children were not free from irritating taunts, such as “ Yah ; your father is a striker “ ; and “Yah; your father is a traitor.” The elderly dames of the Women’s Fashionable League, too, used to swish their skirts aside as they passed Mr. Coyne’s fence. Yet the feeling in Queensland to-day is that if a plebiscite were taken as to who should be the Premier of that State, Mr. Coyne or Mr. Denham, the former would romp in by an overwhelming majority. That has been the effect of the general strike in Brisbane. I warn honorable senators opposite that if the Employers Federation continue to pin-prick the workers of Australia as they have been doing* for some years, and if it continues ‘ ‘ hogging ‘ ‘ for a fight, the Australian Democracy will give it a fight. It is all very well for Ministerial followers to preach industrial peace. But would Senator Oakes preach that doctrine to the King of the Cannibal Islands ? Why, then, should the workers supplicate for peace to the commercial cannibals known as trusts, to whose policy the Employers Iederation gives effect, and whose delegates in the Commonwealth and State Parliaments do the bidding of that Federation? If things are forced to a climax, and a great industrial upheaval takes place, it will be the employers who will be the advocates of revolution, and not those who wish to give the workers redress by legislative enactment, who will be held responsible.* Of course, they may lay the flattering unction to their souls that, in the event of a great industrial upheaval, if the strikers protest to any degree, the military will be called out. They may think that there is an anti-Labour Government in power which would accede to such a demand. But if such a contingency should ever arise I have sufficient faith in my fellow-Australians to believe that they are imbued with enough patriotism, enough humanity, enough Democracy, and enough of the spirit of justice and righteousness to make them throw their rifles into the gutters if ever they are ordered to fire on their fellow-workers. That is what I think of the young Australian. A great deal of capital has been made by honorable members on the other side out of the conditions of the rural workers, particularly by some of the country members. They quoted an incident of the New Zealand strike to show that the farmers went to the rescue of law and order, as it was also alleged that they did in Queensland. A lot of them did bo in Queensland, but they were paid 10s. a day for it, and given as much Government corn and chaff as their horses could eat. It was a dry time on some of the farms, and it suited them very well. In New Zealand they went to uphold law and order, but those honorable gentlemen in this Parliament who support their attitude in that regard quite overlook the fact that they were called “ arbitration defenders” on that occasion. The New Zealand farmers who were sworn in as special constables undertook to uphold the principle of arbitration, and it is a striking commentary on that fact that, although the rural workers are beseeching the farmers and settlers associations, particularly in New South Wales, to meet them in conference, so that the two sides may go to the Arbitration Court to settle their differences, the farmers and settlers associations of New South Wales say, “No, we will not meet you in conference; do as you like. Go on strike.” I would now warn my friends on the Ministerial benches that if the rural employers of New South Wales persist in that attitude they may bring about in their industry a state of affairs similar to that brought about in the Queensland sugar industry so recently as three years ago. The employes in that industry at that time wrote officially, giving two or three months’ notice before the commencement of the season, to. the Australian Sugar Producers Association asking for a conference to see if it could not be mutually agreed that the industry should pay them 5s. a day and keep for an eight-hours day. The sugar-growers of Queensland, at the behest of the association, which is the mouthpiece of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, replied, “ We will not meet you in conference. We know what is fair. Accept the present rate of wages, or do the other thing.” The men did the other thing. They went out on strike, and the result is that only the other day an award was made in Queensland fixing the rate of wages in the industry in the slack season at an actual minimum of 8s. 8d. a day. The men won their strike on the occasion referred to, getting, by agreement, 5s. a day and keep for an eight hours day. Then the mills were working overtime, and the wages were gradually increased, with the result that the Tudor regulations were eventually evolved, granting the men ls. an hour. Somebody on the other side made reference to the Tudor regulations, but, without saying which Government was responsible - the old Liberal Government, the present Conservative Government, or the late Labour Government - I contend that the Federal control of the sugar industry, until Mr. Tudor issued his regulations to protect the worker, was of no benefit to the worker in that industry. Fancy a regulation providing that men should be paid 22s. 6d. a week for ten hours a day as a minimum standing for so many years ! The people who were responsible for that regulation are the ones who are now complaining against interference with the labour conditions in the industry. Mr. Tudor, by his action, was the first to give anything approaching justice to the employes, and, as an actual fact, to the employers themselves, in the Queensland sugar industry. When the 22s. 6d. rate was ruling, I, as the representative of a sugar constituency in the Queensland Par1liament, faced the position. I told my constituents, who were mostly sugargrowers, that until the sugar industry, like every other industry, paid 10s. a day as a living wage - and that is a minimum living wage in North Queensland - it would never be on a sound basis industrially. That was only three or four years ago. The award made the other day, under a State industrial jurisdiction, created by the Conservative Denham Government itself, fixed a minimum of 8s. 8d. a day in the slack season, while the cane-cutting rates are up as high in some cases as 12s. and 13s. a day. We are laughed at when we say that 10s. a day ought to be the minimum, and yet today the Conservative section of the sugar-growers of Queensland have to pay even . more under an award made by a tribunal constituted by their own friends. I sincerely trust, in conclusion, that there will be no going back in the industrial conditions of the Commonwealth. Wages are higher and things are much better than they were in years gone by, but they should be a lot better still, because the workers of Australia are awakening to the fact that, as wealth producers, they are entitled to a greater share of the wealth they produce. Conditions in the past, even within my own memory, were very bad, particularly in the rural districts. I was brought up on a farm, and in the old immigration boom days it was a common thing for new chums to come along and offer to work for all hours at 10s. a week. Married men, some of them with seven or eight children, were working in the foundries at Maryborough at 4s. 2d. a day. That was, comparatively speaking, only a few years ago. A great advance has been made in that connexion since then. I contend that higher wages are better for the people. Even if admitted - which I do not - that the people are not much better off in the end, and have no more money to put into the bank at’ the end of the week, we would still say, “ Give us the high wages all the same, because the standard of living is higher; the children are clothed better, fed better, and educated better than they were ten years ago, and this is all in the interests of our young nation.”
.- The first paragraph in the Speech is from our point of view the most important in the whole document, containing, as it does, a statement that, on account of ill health, and for private reasons, His Excellency the Governor-General is compelled to relinquish the position which he has filled with so much distinction in the
Commonwealth. The capacity and tact with which he has discharged the high duties of his office make his departure a subject of regret among all parties in the Federal Parliament. I am sure I am expressing the feelings of all present in saying that I trust his successor will reach the same high standard in the discharge of his duties. Beyond that paragraph, there is little in the Speech to interest honorable senators, and less to interest the people. It was expected, after all the rhetorical fireworks on the platform, and the support and booming in the press during the last election campaign, that the Liberal- or Fusion - party would present to the House and the country a policy somewhat in keeping with the utterances of their leaders; but we look in vain for any definite statement of policy from the party now in power. We look absolutely in vain for any challenge by them to the splendid programme of legislation that the Labour party put into operation during their three years of office. This lack of sincerity on the part of the Fusion party is causing its own supporters no little uneasiness. One can see, in the columns of the press of the various cities, statements from supporters of the party now in power regretting the fact that they have taken no definite action to repeal the Socialistic legislation of the Labour Government. I notice in the Launceston Examiner, a paper circulating in Tasmania, and second only in importance to the Daily Post printed at Hobart, the following paragraph:-
The Federal Labour party forced through the Commonwealth Parliament a crushing land tax. The Liberal members opposed it to a man, yet, now that the Liberals are in office, not the slightest attempt is made either to repeal or lighten the impost. Again, would there be any wonder if the Liberals, who have been providing funds, as well as effort, ask themselves what they are doing it for?
Letters of that nature are constantly appearing in the press from staunch supporters of the Liberal party; and, therefore, one is justified in criticising the policy which the party have put before us as so much cant, humbug, and insincerity, only equalled, perhaps, by their utterances at the last election.
– The squatters of Australia subscribed thousands of pounds to the Fusion funds, and are getting nothing in return.
– That is so; and it is only natural that those who pay the piper should call the tune. I do not think they are guilty of anything unreasonable when they ask that some attempt should be made by the party whom they sent into power to repeal the legislation which, in their view, is objectionable. The AttorneyGeneral in the present Government has been subjected to very severe criticism, both in this House and out of it; but if there is one man in the Government for whom I entertain a high respect, it is he.
– For God’s sake, don’t say that!
– I do say it, and will give my reasons. If there is one man in the Cabinet, orin the party, who is absolutely loyal to the principles of a political lifetime, it is the AttorneyGeneral.
– The honorable senator does not know him ; he never had any principles.
– He is a representative of an extremely Conservative and Tory character - I do not use those terms in an offensive sense - and he has never pretended to be what he is not. I do not think that his most bitter opponents can say that he has ever claimed or offered any allegiance to democratic legislation.
– Can the honorable senator explain the action of the AttorneyGeneral in swallowing the policy which he described as a “gelatinous compound “ ?
– That description of the policy was made with the object of stiffening the backs of the honorable gentleman’s colleagues, and inducing them to do something which he believed should be done in the interests of the people who sent his party to Parliament.
SenatorO’Keefe. - It was not done; and the Attorney-General is still swallowing the “gelatinous compound.”
– If my honorable friends will permit me to proceed, I think I can show that the Attorney-General has established his claim to the leadership of the Fusion party in Australia.
– H - He is the most Conservative member of it.
– He has never pretended to be anything else. When did he ever profess to have any sympathy with the worker, with the struggling settler, or the factory hand? He has never had any sympathy with these people, and he has not troubled to hide the fact.
– And he never will.
– The honorable gentleman never will; and, consequently, I say that we know where he stands. But the same cannot be said of many Liberal members in this Parliament. They have never done a good turn to the workers in their lives, and they never will; but they have expressed lip loyalty to them, and ‘ have all the time been living in an atmosphere of deceit and misrepresentation. In the circumstances, I think wo can admire the one man of the opposite party who has had the courage to declare his political convictions definitely. The AttorneyGeneral has not yet made the impression on his colleagues that might have been expected; but I ask who honorable senators imagine is responsible for the wretched little test Bills which will come before us in the course of a few months or years? It is common knowledge now that the AttorneyGeneral told the other members of the Government that, unless these two Bills were at once presented to Parliament, as a test between the political parties, he would no longer remain a member of the Cabinet. The fact that he is still a member of the Cabinet is proof conclusive that the honorable gentleman has had his own way in the Government. What the fate of those measures will be is not difficult to conjecture, nor is it difficult to say what the fate of Mr. Irvine and his party will be in the course of the next few years. I may not be regarded as a prophet, but I venture to prophesy that the present Government is the last Tory Government that will ever be in power in Australia. Let- us have a declaration from the Government that, during the present session, they will attack the legislation carried by the Labour Government, or let them admit that they were insincere in the statements they made during the last election campaign, and that their only object in humbugging the electors was to get into office, and hang on to office, no matter how discreditably or disreputably. The fact that the Government have been twelve months in office, and have not dared to lay rude hands upon any of the legislation upon national questions carried by the last Government is the greatest compliment that could be paid to the Labour party.
– The honorable senator forgets that they have given us a new postage stamp.
– That is a mere detail. If my honorable friend wishes to suggest that that is the greatest effort of which the present Government are capable, I shall not contest that view. I say that the finest compliment that could be paid to the Labour party lies in the fact that the land tax, the Commonwealth Bank, the note issue, and the maternity allowance carried by the Labour Government remain intact. They will remain intact, because the present Government know as well as we do that the people of Australia are behind all that legislation. Although the Government have not made any direct attack upon our legislation, they have sought to accomplish something by the insidious back-door process. We know that many of the members of the Liberal party and their supporters are directors or shareholders of private banking institutions in Australia. We could not, in the circumstances, expect them to be very enthusiastic about the success of the Commonwealth Bank. We know that one member of the Government, at a public meeting in Victoria - and it seemed to me with almost fiendish delight - declared that the Commonwealth Bank, before it really had got a start, was in a fair way to failure. This gentleman went out of his way to mislead the people. ‘
– As a director of the bank?
– Yes, as my honorable friend reminds me, this member of the Government is a director of the Commonwealth Bank for the time being.
– It was an outrageous thing to do.
– It was an absolutely monstrous thing for any member of the Government to do.
– He would get himself into trouble if he said the same thing about a private bank.
– That may be so ; but the gentleman I refer to, notwithstanding the fact that the bank had to pass through its initial stages, and meet the heavy expenses consequent upon the establishment of an institution of the kind, pointed with glee to the fact that it showed a loss on its first year’s operations. We hope that the next few years will show that the Commonwealth Bank is taking the place it ought to occupy as the leading financial institution in Australia.
– It has no chance of succeeding while the Fusion party are in charge of it.
– I am satisfied on that point. I have before me a declaration by no less a person than the Prime Minister to the effect that no effort will be spared by the present Government to prevent the bank being a success. A question was some time ago submitted to the Prime Minister by Mr. Tudor, in another place, regarding the renewal of Treasury-bills issued by the State Government of Western Australia. Treasury-bills had fallen due to the extent of ?200,000, and it was necessary that they should be renewed. Application was made to the present Government, and the Treasurer, who is one of the representatives of Western Australia in another place, declined, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, to renew them. It was thought that the refusal to renew the bills was due to the strict line drawn between the politics of the Premier of Western Australia and of the present Prime Minister. That view was very soon dissipated by the Prime Minister in the answer he gave to Mr. Tudor’s question. I quote the following from page 4338 of Mansard for the 15th December, 1913
Mr. TUDOR. Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a telegram published in to-day’s Argus, headed “ Ministers differ,” “Liberal and Labour,” and which reads, “Perth, Sunday.”-
– The honorable member will not be in order in reading the extract.
Mr. TUDOR. Very well, sir. The newspaper paragraph is to the effect that the Federal Ministry have refused to renew bills to the Western Australian Government to the extent of ?200,000. I desire to ask whether that statement is correct; and, if so, whether the fact that the two Ministries concerned happen to be of a different political colour has anything to do with the refusal?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. I saw the statement in the newspaper this morning. It is in no sense true that the political colour of the Ministry has anything to do with the decision. The same intimation has been sent to the rest of the States. The whole point is that we want the money for our own requirements. Western Australia is being treated in the same way as is every other State to which we have loaned money.
The point is that the previous Administration, led by Mr. Fisher, found it to be most profitable to the people’s bank to lend these moneys to the different State Governments. When the Commonwealth Government lent these moneys to the State Governments private banking institutions in Australia were restricted to that extent in their operations as money-lenders, and were deprived of perquisites in the way of brokerage, and extravagant interest on such transactions, which had formed a considerable portion of their profits every year. These supporters of our friends opposite, being largely interested in these banking institutions, naturally claimed that the present Government should take no action calculated to conflict with their interests. I am not blaming our honorable friends opposite in this matter, because it was a perfectly natural course for them to follow ; but I say that their action in this connexion was calculated to undermine this Commonwealth institution which means so much to the people of Australia, and which, in the course of ten or twelve years, will be found of very great benefit to the Commonwealth.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended for lunch I was dealing with the attempt of the present Government to render as inefficient as possible the action of the previous Government in establishing the Commonwealth Bank and its note issue, and pointing out that they have sent a general intimation to the State Treasurers that they intend to call in all the moneys lent to them by the Fisher Government, a transaction which resulted in the Commonwealth revenue benefiting to the extent of £340,000 a year. Whether the Prime Minister on that occasion spoke hastily or not I do not know, but no attempt has yet been made by him to correct the statement I quoted a little while ago in answer to a question submitted to him by Mr. Tudor. On the contrary, I have noticed that the Treasurer, speaking at different centres, has in a great measure offered confirmation of the statement of the Prime Minister to Mr. Tudor,, that it was the intention of the Govern ment not to renew the Treasury-bills to the State Governments. If honorable senators will reflect for a moment they will realize that this is a matter of very considerable importance to the State Governments, who found the financial assistance obtained from the Commonwealth Government under Mr. Fisher to be very useful and very valuable, because the sudden withdrawal of these large sums from the various States will cause their Treasurers no little embarrassment. If honorable senators will refer to the table prepared by the late Treasurer, showing the financial policy of the Commonwealth under his administration, and the various investments made from the Notes Trust Fund and the General Trust Fund, they will find that the State Governments were under a very considerable obligation to him for his prompt assistance, and the very inexpensive manner in which the moneys were transferred. A reference to the table will show that from the Australian Notes Fund there was advanced to the various States £5,795,000, from which the Commonwealth is receiving an annual revenue of £207,350, and from the General Trust Fund £3,697,206, which yields an annual interest of £132,751, making a total revenue of £340,101 per annum from Mr. Fisher’s investments. It is obvious that that very large sum represents to the people of the Commonwealth this important fact, that under the Fisher Administration the Federal Parliament with all its expensive paraphernalia did not cost the taxpayers a single penny. Again, that large amount of interest goes to prove the further assertion that the Commonwealth Treasury had made incursions into the financial domain that meant very considerably less revenue to the private financiers and the banking institutions of Australia. I suppose it is to be expected that this institution, which has accomplished, and is accomplishing, so much, and which is capable of accomplishing so much more in the interests of the people of Australia, is not going to receive any encouragement at the hands of the present Ministers. Leaving that question, I come to the other questions which the Government and their hired press say are the questions of the moment. In my opinion the two test Bills are to be brought forward to cover up the incapacity and the insincerity of the Government. In this connexion I wish to call public attention to the absolute indecency with which the Ministers and some of their followers, or slaves, whichever you like, use the name of the Governor-General. They talk on the platform as if they had the Governor-General in their pocket; that they have only to make an application on these paltry, trivial measures, in which no national principle is involved, and the Governor-General will grant them a double dissolution. We have all had considerable experience of the tact and the ability of ‘ the GovernorGeneral who is leaving Australia. We have ample confidence that his common sense and judgment would have dealt in a practical and constitutional way with these Bills, if submitted to him, accompanied by an application for a double dissolution. We know nothing of the gentleman who is succeeding him, beyond the fact that he is a man of very wide parliamentary experience, and is credited with possessing sound common sense. That being so, I have no hesitation in saying that when these Bills are presented, if they are ever presented, to that gentleman, he will apply the only test which, in my opinion, a common-sense man would apply to them, and that is the test of importance. If that test is applied, an application by the present Government for a dissolution of the House which represents the interests of the States will receive a very short shrift indeed. Dealing with the question of preference to unionists, I consider that the attempt contained in the Government’s Bill is only in harmony with the general conduct of Ministers in dealing with big questions. From my point of view, there is really no principle involved in the Government Preference Prohibition Bill, because, after all, it can affect only 3,000 temporary employes in the Federal Service. If that is the desire of tlie Government, it can be well accomplished by an Executive act. It is competent for a Minister to say by minute that there shall be no preference shown to unionists in his Department, and that is an end of the matter, no legislation on the subject being needed. We find now the same lack of courage that the Government have always exhibited when approaching this question. They dare not approach the broad prin ciple of preference to unionists throughout Australia. They dare not tackle the organizations that are strong enough to protect themselves, but they simply put forward this prohibition of preference to unionists in the Commonwealth Service in order that the public may say that the Government are intensely anxious to give absolute freedom of employment to every member of the community. Nothing could be further from the truth. I remember seeing in the Bulletin a cartoon which, no doubt, honorable senators remember very well. It portrayed two portly, and apparently wealthy, gentlemen discussing the advent of the Labour Government to power, and reviewing also the constant statements by the Liberal press that the Government were indulging in the policy of spoils to the victors. One gentleman said to the other that such a thing was a travesty upon responsible government, and no civilized community ought to tolerate it. Turning round to his friend, he said, “You know, Charles, it is a good thing we got our boys into the Commonwealth Service before these Labour men got into power.” Probably that is the view which the present Ministry will take of employment in the Commonwealth Service so far as the regulations will permit them. I want to show, further, the absolute hypocrisy behind the Government’s claim in connexion with this measure of the need for legislative action. We have an Arbitration Court under the jurisdiction of Mr. Justice Higgins, who is, I understand, now going on a very well-earned holiday. During the existence of the Court, numerous questions have come before His Honour for adjudication; and, among them, claims by several organizations for preference to unionists. In the case of probably the two unions best able to force their demands in this connexion, the Judge, in his wisdom, refused to grant preference to unionists.
– What unions were those ?
– The Seamen’s Union and the Australian Workers Union. I point to these unions because they are, without question, the two strongest industrial organizations in Australia. Notwithstanding the fact that, in the case of one union, 98 per cent, of the men employed in the industry were members of that organization, the Judge declined to grant preference to unionists. I ask my honorable friends opposite what greater protection can they desire in regard to preference to unionists than is given by the very wide discretion enjoyed by the President of the Arbitration Court to-day. I want, if they will permit me, to read the dictum of the Judge when replying to the application of the Australian Workers Union -
There is a separate application for preference for members of the claimant organization. In my opinion, I have power to grant such an application, even though preference was not a subject of dispute (sec. 40) ; but in this case I am not satisfied that it is necessary to order preference at present. Circumstances may possibly arise in which such an order may become necessary, and my refusal is without prejudice to any future application.
Can we imagine a more common:sense view of an application of the character made by the Australian Workers Union than which was ascertained by the President of the Court? Coming to the Federated Seamen’s Union we find that a similar application for preference to its members was made to Mr. Justice Higgins. In declining to grant that application, Mr. Justice Higgins said -
T am asked, under section 40, to direct that, as between members of the claimant organization and other persons desiring employment at the same time, preference shall be given to such members, other things being equal. There is really no evidence in support of this claim except that about 98 per cent, of the seamen are members of the organization; and that fact seems to be rather a reason for saying that the order is unnecessary than for saying that it is essential. It is urged that without unions there could be no industrial agreements or awards - no means of settling disputes - and this is very true. It is also urged that the unionist bears the expense and worry of arbitration and of negotiations, and that the non-unionist bears no expense, often enables the employer to beat down the unionists, and yet gets the benefit of any advance in wages that the unionists gain. And there is much truth in this also. But it does not follow that an order for preference is a fit remedy. I desire to confine my remarks to the case actually before me; but, to my mind, a claimant ought to make out a very strong case before the Court should fetter the discretion of the employer in selecting his employes. The order should be shown to be clearly necessary in order to secure fair conditions for the men. Much depends on the meaning of “ other things being equal.” Does this refer merely to sobriety and skill, or does it also include the personal likes and dislikes of the employer (or his manager) ? If the latter, the order would seem to be useless for the protection of the unionists.
In a provisional agreement made on the 31st December last, the employers consented to concede preference until the award should come
Senator Long. into force. The agreement was made to avoid a stoppage of work which was imminent, and on my distinct assurance to the employers that any concession made by them for the time being would not prejudice their position on the discussion of the merits of the claim for arbitration. I have found that the dread lest a provisional concession should be treated as an admission is often an obstacle when I try to get a temporary arrangement to tide over a crisis before arbitration; and yet such arrangements are eminently useful to all parties, because they enable the employer to carry on the business pending the award. I hope that this dread will be no longer entertained now that it is seen that I have not adopted the clause in the provisional agreement for preference, and have considered the subject as if the agreement had not been made. I propose to say that the Court does not see fit to grant any order for preference to members of the organization at this stage; but the refusal is without prejudice to any application that may hereafter be made on other materials; and to preface the words by a statement to which the respondents consent, in pursuance of certain correspondence in February, 1909.
That is the manner in which the President of the Arbitration Court disposed of the claims of two of the most militant industrial organizations in Australia, and his decision provoked nothing but absolute obedience on the part of the unions concerned. In my opinion it is a splendid thing that he should have such discretionary power. What better protection can my honorable friends opposite desire than that the granting of preference to unionists should be in the hands of a Judge- of the Arbitration Court, who is clothed with ample power to grant it or refuse it as the case may be? I know that the unionists throughout Australia pay very little attention to this so-called Government Preference Prohibition Bill. They regard it as something to talk about5 as so much insincerity, and so much sham and fraud. They recognise that there is nothing in it, that nothing is meant by it, and that the Government have not the courage or the capacity to attack the great principle of unionism throughout Australia. At the last general election one of the principal cries of the Liberal party in country electorates was that the rural workers’ log was an iniquity, and that, as soon as they were returned to power, their first act on behalf of the producers, of the men on the land, and the bone and sinew of the country, would be to exclude the rural workers from the operation of the Arbitration Act. Have they taken any step in that direction yet? Do they propose to make a move ?
– T - They propose to move later on.
– A Liberal member of this Parliament, in conversation with a Minister the other day, inquiried when the Government were going to bring forward their policy providing for the exclusion of rural workers from the Arbitration Act. The reply of the Minister was, “I cannot say when you will have it, but you will have it, on my word of honour as a poli1tician and a gentleman.” “Yes,” retorted the member; “ that is all right. But when are we going to get that policy?” Thereupon the Minister, who is a bit of a wag, replied, “ I told you a moment ago that I was a politician. I am not a prophet.” If there is one section of the industrial community which is entitled to protection at the hands of this or of the State Parliaments, it is surely the sweated workers who are engaged in the . rural industries of Australia. I speak with some knowledge and experience of the conditions which obtain in my own State. I am satisfied that, low as wages may be in other industries in that State, they are not half as low as they are in the rural industries. Would honorable senators believe that we have men in Tasmania who have families to support and who are earning the miserable wage of 12/6 per week?
– And who live upon ram-stag mutton and post-and-rail tea !
– Yes, and also black sugar, the use of which would impair the constitution of the most robust rabbit in the district. The rural workers of Australia are the most sweated and defenceless section of the community, and yet this courageous Liberal party has avowed its intention of removing from the Arbitration Act whatever possibility of securing protection they now enjoy.
– T - The honorable senator forgets that if they catch rabbits they have to give the bosses the skins.
– That is fairly well known. I know a big wealthy landowner in the northern part of Tasmania who advertised for a handy man. In response to that advertisement, one man attended whose appearance suited the squire. Having been told that the wages would be 15s. per week, this man inquired, “What shall I be called upon to do?” The reply was, “ You will have to do the ploughing, look after the horses, chop the wood, feed the pigs, attend to the cows, go to the post-office, and do all other messages.” Then the prospective employe asked, “What is the nature of the soil round here?” “ Oh, that is all right, but it has nothing to do with you,” replied the employer. Thereupon the man said, “ It will have a good deal to do with me if I take this position, because if the soil is of a clayey nature I might be able to make bricks in my spare time.” Notwithstanding tlie public declaration of this great Liberal party, which stands for justice to every section of the community, and which, nevertheless, desires to deprive the rural workers of the little protection they enjoy at present, nothing has yet been done to give effect to the promises which it made to the people at the last election.
– The Government have not had time to do anything yet.
– Possibly, if they remain in office during the next six or seven months, they will make a spasmodic effort to satisfy those who sent them here - who worked hard for them, and subscribed large sums of money for campaigning purposes - that they are in earnest in the matter to which I have just referred.
– They will refer it to> the Inter-State Commission.
– All the credit con- nected with the appointment of that very capable body belongs to their predecessors in office. Those gentlemen who were always asking for a greater measure of protection, and for investigation into the condition of the industries with which they are connected, are now getting more investigation than they thought they were likely to get, before that Commission was appointed. The chances are that if the commercial community to-day were afforded the opportunity, they would vote very solidly for the abolition of the InterState Commission. That body has done good work, and is capable of doing still better.
– T - They would vote to take the Tariff question out of its hands.
– The reference of that question to the Inter-State Commission was one way of passing on the investigation of a very intricate subject to a specially-qualified tribunal.
– Whatever the recommendations of the Inter- State
Commission may be, the question of Tariff reform will still remain in the hands of this Parliament.
– Of course, the recommendations of the Inter-State Commission will be subordinate to any action which this Parliament may take. But all the preliminary investigation is in the hands of the Inter-State Commission. There is one objectionable feature connected with the labours of that body which, to my mind, ought to be remedied. No official report is taken of the evidence given before it. The Commissioners- highly-skilled men though they may be - are bound to rely upon their notes to guide them in coming to a decision in respect of the numerous applications which are made to them.
– Why should not an official report of the evidence taken before that body be laid before Parliament ?
– It is most desirable that a verbatim report should be taken of the evidence given before the Commission, and made available to members of both Houses. The other test measure, the Postal Voting Restoration Bill, has been dealt with very exhaustively by members on both sides in another place this session, and by honorable senators on this side last session. The leader of our party has already effectively shown that we are favorable to any system that will be free from corruption, while enabling the sick and infirm to cast their votes at Federal elections. We submitted last session a proposal which we felt would meet all the necessities of the case. If the Government know a better way, let us have it. We undertake to give it the fullest and most careful consideration. It was their own party in Queensland State politics that repealed the postal vote, condemning it year in and year out, but whether the present Ministerial party in this Parliament condemn it or condone it, the fact remains that some provision will have to be made under proper supervision to enable the sick and infirm to record their votes. Senator Pearce, last session, put forward a very comprehensive and complete scheme, but it received very short shrift from the Government in another place. It did not receive the consideration to which it was entitled at the hands of men who claim to be fairminded, and to be anxious to find a solution for this problem, which so vitally affects a great many electors of the Commonwealth. Senator Pearce’s scheme was disposed of briefly because it was considered by the Government to be much too cumbersome. They said it would mean the appointment of an army of presiding officers or travelling officials, yet a few weeks before the Acting Minister of Home Affairs had brought in an amending Electoral Bill to provide for the appointment of no fewer than 3,000 assistant presiding officers and poll clerks.
– At a cost of ?35,000 !
– No; the honorable senator is confusing that Bill with the present proposal of the Government to appoint seventy Divisional Returning Officers only. To avoid laying myself open to the charge of misquoting, I propose to read the Minister’s actual words as recorded in Hansard. On 16th September, 1913, it is reported that, while Mr. Kelly was moving the second reading of the Bill, Mr. Burns asked -
Will the Government make provision for appointing more presiding officers T
Mr. Kelly’s reply was as follows:” ;
Of course we shall. The main trouble and difficulty will be in the administration; but the administrative officers do not shrink from any trouble and difficulty that will give us a secure and pure electoral system.
We indorse that absolutely -
In 4,000 polling places, at present, there are no assistant presiding officers at all. These are the country places, where not many votes are cast, and there will be plenty of time for devoting the little extra trouble which the new system will entail. But we shall require an additional 1,500 assistant presiding officers and 1,500 poll clerks.
That means an addition to the existing staff who are responsible for the conduct of Federal elections -
Those officers oan be provided, and will be provided. It is desirable that they should be provided, in order to obtain the additional security which we shall get if this Bill becomes law.
As a matter of fact, that embodies the very amendment which was submitted by Senator Pearce to the Postal Voting Restoration Bill when it was presented to this Chamber last session. If the Government were sincere in their desire to find a fair, just, and impartial solution of the question, they might well have adopted our proposals in that direction, or, at least, have given them the consideration to which their importance entitled them. At this stage I might be allowed to revert for a moment to a matter affecting the rural workers’ log. Mr. Patten, a prominent member of the Liberal party in another place, made a public declaration last session that the workers’ log as put forward by the Rural Workers Association was lower than the rates being paid by the rural employers in his district in New South Wales, and in many other places. That statement has quite possibly taken away some of the sting of the charge made by the present Government and their followers that the log makes an exorbitant demand on the producers of this country.
– They are paying ls. 1½d. per hour up at Mildura, and make no complaint about it.
– Hear, hear ! I regret that I forgot to mention this matter in its proper order, but its importance warrants me in quoting, from Hansard of last session, Mr. Patten’s actual words, as follow : -
I know there are certain remarks I shall hear. There are gags trotted out from Cape York to the south such as “ too well off,” or “ out for cheap labour,” and that sort of thing. But I would draw the attention of the honorable member to the fact that, to-day, in the rural districts of Australia, in a great many instances we are paying more than the claim set out in the log of the Rural Workers Union. And I want further to say that those wages were paid months before that log appeared in print.
A statement of that kind, coming from a candid man like Mr. Patten, who is, no doubt, a fair employer, has taken the sting out of the assertions of the Government regarding the exorbitancy of the demands made by the rural workers. I want to compliment the people of Australia on having so successfully passed through the searching ordeal of investigation regarding electoral irregularities, to which they were recently subjected by the Government by means of inquiries by private detectives and officials; and, in fact, by every method which the Government could command to unearth fraudulent practices and corruption. Unfounded charges against the people of Australia were levelled by Ministers from one end of the continent to the other, and that is why I am complimenting the people on having come through the ordeal with their character as Australian citizens unsullied. It is, perhaps, too much to hope that those who were responsible for the slanders will take the first opportunity to withdraw them publicly, and admit “like men that the statements they made were, if not untrue, certainly unfounded. To make a statement to-day and correct it tomorrow if it is found to be untrue is the act of an honest man, because it is simply to admit that he is wiser to-day than he was yesterday. Honorable senators on this side of the House have accused the “Vice-President of the Executive Council of making these serious charges, and have confronted him with them, and with the disproof of them ; but all they could extract from the Minister was a smile, or more often a sneer.
– I never sneered, and never smiled, and everything I said was absolutely true.
– The honorable senator still sticks to his statements, although the expert testimony of officials of the Electoral and Police Departments has proved that no such thing as duplication, fraud, personation, or corruption was perpetrated throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
– I swore it on oath before the Royal Commission.
– The honorable senator only did so with a good deal of qualification.
– No qualification at all.
– From the day he made his statement, until yesterday, the officials have- been denying it.
– They will continue to do so until the Minister does the proper and correct thing by admitting his error.
– I cannot, when there is no error.
– I am glad to believe that the Minister is quite wrong. I have too much faith and confidence in the electors of Australia to believe that they would stoop to anything in the nature of the practices with which the honorable senator has charged them.
– You said that corrupt practices had been indulged in by the people under the postal-voting system. What becomes of your faith and confidence in the electors of Australia in that case?
– The first Government in Australia to introduce the postal vote was the Queensland Government, and. the first Government to secure its abolition was the same Government.
– What was the reason ? Was it not abuses of the system ?
– It was because, as Mr. Kidston said, the system lent itself so readily to corrupt practices.
– Then what about your faith in the people of Australia in that case?
– That is ancient history, and has nothing to do with Federal elections. I was in New South Wales when the last State elections were being held. I discussed the matter of the elections at a hotel in that State with several girls who were waiting on the table. They asked whether it was a Federal election, and I explained that it was a State election. Then they said, “ Oh, we like the Federal elections best.” I was bound to inquire why, and they replied, “You can get a postal vote, and you need not bother going to a polling booth; and you know we always get £1 for our vote.”
– The honorable senator should have got that statement on oath.
– Is this a fairy tale?
– No ; I give honorable senators my word of honour that that conversation took place in a hotel in Moree, New South Wales. I have to deal now with another matter of considerable importance to Australia, ‘and that is the determination of the present Government to invert from the well-established and welltried principle of day labour to that of contract labour in the .construction of public works. I honestly believe that to be a retrograde step. Its only result will be the aggrandizement of a number of contractors throughout the country. It may not surprise honorable senators, because their experience may be similar to mine, when I tell them that every little tin-pot bit of work that requires to be done for the Commonwealth in tlie city of Hobart is now being let by contract. Carpenters, married men with families, have been dismissed from their work; the plant which the Commonwealth Government acquired two or three years ago has been stacked, and the money it represents is earning nothing. Weeks are allowed to elapse while some tin-pot little job is being let to a contractor. -It may have been brought under the notice of other honorable senators that in other capital cities in Australia the contract system is being introduced by the present Government in this quiet and insidious way. For some years we had a Liberal Government in power in Tasmania, but, thank goodness, their career has been terminated, and there is now a Labour Government there. During the last twelve years, since I have taken an active interest in politics, and in the development of the State, railways and all other important public works in Tasmania have been carried out on the day-labour principle. During the time I was a member of the State Parliament, the Tasmanian Government built three railways, and there are two more now in course of construction; and all these lines have been carried out on the day-labour principle. The experience of Queensland in this direction has been brought under the notice of the Government time and again in this chamber and in another place. It has been shown that in railway construction in that State over a period of ten years there has been an aggregate saving to the people of no less than £4,000,000 6y the adoption of the daylabour principle.
– Mr. Bell does not say so.
– I can quote a better authority than Mr. Bell, namely, the Queensland Minister of Works.
– Mr. Bell had charge of the work.
– Mr. Bell, no doubt, is a very capable man, and was for some time associated with the construction of public works in Queensland ; but I may be allowed to remind the Vice-President of the Executive Council that a deputation of contractors and builders waited on the Minister of Works in Queensland, and requested him to revert to the contract system, and he absolutely refused to do so.
– The poor starving contractors were turned down.
– It was not a question of turning down the contractors. The Queensland Minister of Works realized that he was, for the time being, the custodian of the people’s interests, and that, whether he was in favour of the contract ° system or the day-labour system, that which was most economical should be adopted in the interests of the people. He took the action he did with some little reluctance, I admit, because he told the deputation that he was in strong sympathy with them, but that the facts were against them. Coming to Victoria, it will be found that a similar experience has followed in that State the adoption of the day-labour principle; and, as compared with the construction of public works under the contract system, it has led to the saving of the funds of the people. If there is one act for which the Government are responsible, which, more than another, is calculated to come into conflict with the general interests of the community, it is their reversion from the day-labour principle to the contract system. I come now to a question that is seriously agitating the public mind; I refer to the Teesdale Smith contract. My chief quarrel with the Government in connexion with the matter is this: Officials may make mistakes, and a Minister may make a mistake ; but it is surely their bounden duty, when they have done so, to admit it. When a Minister has approved of a certain system or undertaking, surely, if he is not lost altogether to a sense of self-respect, he should accept responsibility for it.
– He should not hide himself behind his officers.
– In this case we have had the spectacle presented time after time of the Honorary Minister and of the Minister of Home Affairs himself, Mr. Joseph Cook, throwing the whole of the responsibility for this blunder upon officials who have no opportunity to defend themselves either in another place or in this chamber.
– I do not think the honorable senator is doing the Minister justice. I think that Senator Millen admitted that he took the full responsibility of it.
– I agree that in this Chamber Senator Millen threw himself upon the mercy of honorable senators on this side, and accepted the responsibility on behalf of the Government; but Senator Oakes must be aware that neither the Prime Minister nor the Honorary Minister was so chivalrous in another place.
– I was under the impression that Mr. Kelly made a perfectly frank admission of his responsibility.
– What was the honorable gentleman’s clear and bounden duty if he had done something contrary to the interests of the country? What did Colonel Seely do when his action as a responsible Minister was questioned ? We know that he ceased to be a Minister of the Crown. Eather than throw the responsibility upon officials of his Depart-, ment whose action he approved, the Honorary Minister should have done the same thing; but Colonel Seely’s was too high an example for him to follow.
– H - He took refuge in the statement that the officials were appointed by the Labour Government.
– Any paltry excuse at all, and any course but the right one, was good enough for Mr. Kelly. The right thing for the honorable gentleman to do was to stand by the officials who advised him all through the piece. Coming to the contract itself, I want to make an offer to the Government, and I wish the member of the Government present to mark down the day and date. I am prepared to give the name of a responsible firm that will be willing and glad to undertake 40 or 50 miles of con- struction on that line,0 in similar country to that in which Mr. Teesdale Smith is working, for 4s. 6d. a cubic yard, and to ask for no payment for embankments made with the spoil from the excavations. If the Government are sincere in the statements they have made, and in the defence which Senator Millen offered last night for this contract, they will accept the offer of this responsible and reputable firm. Our hearts went out to the Minister of Defence last night while we listened to him defending this wretched little contract, which is the rottenest contract the Commonwealth Government has ever been committed to. Although it was a duty cast upon him as a loyal colleague, the honorable senator knew, as we know, that the facts were against him, and that the whole business is reeking with discredit to his colleagues and to the present Government. I am satisfied that Ministers are not looking for cheap work. They would sooner pay 8s. a cubic yard than 4s. 6d. for this work. If they want this work done cheaply and expeditiously, there is a firm waiting to take a contract for 50 miles of the work in similar country to that in which Mr.
Teesdale Smith is carrying out his contract, at 4s. 6d. a cubic yard, without payment for the embankments.
– I - I notice that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has not taken a note of that offer.
– I have, a mental note of it, and will duly convey it to the Minister in charge of the Department concerned.
– I feel that I have detained honorable senators long enough, but there is another matter to which I wish to refer. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, may say that it is a pet subject of mine, and one on which I am continually harping, but I cannot resume my seat without calling attention to the apathy shown by the Government to the repeated requests of the people of King Island for better means of communication with the mainland or Tasmania. For the last twelve months we have been hammering at the doors of the Government, hoping to induce them to favorably consider this request. “We understood that the difficulty was that the cost of the wireless station already erected there was prohibitive, because a sufficiently powerful wireless station might be erected on the island for less than half the sum asked by those who have erected the station already there. But this difficulty has been removed, because, although the existing station cost something like £3,000 to erect, it has been under offer to the Government for some little time for £1,250. All excuses should disappear, all obstacles should be removed, when the people who own this station, which is in good working order, are prepared to let the Government have it for £1,250. Yesterday, the Vice-President of the Executive Council stated in an emphatic manner that it was not their intention to utilize the plant on that station. Why? Will it interest honorable senators to know that Father Shaw, one of Australia’s scientists, is concerned in that work? Will it interest honorable senators to know that the Shaw wireless works at Randwick, in New South Wales, that made complete equipments for the Commonwealth under the” Labour Government, have not done six pennyworth of work for the present Government ? Will it interest honorable senators to know that the company which is managed by Father Shaw, has imported special machinery, at great cost, to do this class of work?
– It is a purely Australian concern.
– It is a purely Australian concern, which employs something like180 young Australians, and halfadozen skilled officials who have been imported from America, England, and elsewhere to supervise. The training in electrical engineering and radio-telegraphy which these 180 young Australians receive at the works, honorable senators must admit, will be absolutely invaluable to this country in time to come. The company has not received six pennyworth of work from the present Government.
– Can you supply the reason ?
– One moment. The company has £4,000 or £5,000 worth of motors incomplete, and is not able to complete them until it gets some money. The . Commonwealth Government have owed the company £4,000 for nearly six months, and the company cannot get it. Has the boycott of the Government in relation to these works at Randwick anything to do with the purchase of the wireless station at King Island? It appears to me that there is some connexion between the two things. The payment of the £4,000 has been approved, yet this struggling company cannot get it. If the representatives of New South Wales go out to the works at Randwick to-morrow, they will find that the company cannot obtain payment for work and labour done for the Commonwealth, although the money has been owing for nearly six months. It is absolutely disgraceful.
– Are any reasons or excuses given for non-payment, do you know?
– Simply none. Of course there are the big companies operating - I refer to the Australian Company, the Marconi Company, and the Telefunken Company. Some statements have been made to the effect that the Commonwealth Government have been overcharged for certain works.
– By whom?
– By the Shaw Wireless Company. The answer to that allegation is that the cost of manufacture in Australia is considerably higher than the cost of the imported article, because the company had to import special machinery to fulfil the orders from the Commonwealth. It must be remembered also that this question has been asked: “ Bid not the Labour Government let contracts for wireless without calling for tenders?” There was no other company in Australia capable of undertaking the work. The only company that was capable of undertaking this special class of work, was the one which had erected a special plant at great cost at Randwick to carry out Commonwealth work. Therefore, there could be nothing improper in the Labour Government entering into negotiations with the company.
– Are we right in inferring that the Shaw Wireless Company got work from the Federal Government hecause there was no competition, that it was the only company of the kind, and that now other companies are competing against it?
– There is no other company or firm that can compete. The honorable senator must understand that the works at Randwick have completed, I think, seventeen wireless stations, throughout Australia for the Federal Government.
– Did you say that the company had been kept waiting twelve or six months for £4,000 ?
– The company has been waiting nearly six months for their money, and I shall be glad if the Minister will institute an inquiry. I have had some diffidence in mentioning this matter.
– I do not know why you should.
– Because I have had a. son employed in these works for eighteen mouths, and he is getting a very fine training indeed. “When I go there and notice the great number of young Australians receiving an excellent training, I cannot help but think what a great service they can render by-and-by in this particular science, and what a pity it will be if the works are allowed to go out. I am sure that Senator Rae will not twit me with interfering or poaching on his preserves, or with doing something which I, as a representative of Tasmania, ought not to do. He knows, I am sure, as well as I do, that our party is not regulated by geographical conditions or considerations, and that we are all equally anxious to call public attention to something which we believe to be wrong. I beg of the Minister to go into this question, and let us know whether there is any connexion between the station at King Island and the apparent boycott of the Shaw wireless works at Randwick. I ask him to consider the condition of the residents of King Island, to remove any prejudice he may have in this connexion, and to give those people the communication of which they are so badly in need, and for which they have applied so persistently and so long.
– I can assure the honorable senator that I will.
– I do not suggest that the honorable senator has any personal prejudice, but there is something wrong, and I sincerely hope that he will make an inquiry and get to the bottom of this matter. I remind him that yesterday afternoon he committed himself definitely to the statement that it was not proposed to utilize the station at King Island. I do not know whether he was then aware that the station was under offer to his Government at a very much reduced price. He may not have known that fact at the time, but I am in a position to tell him that the station has been under offer to the Government for some little time at £1,250.
– What did the Pennant Hills station cost ?
– Speaking from memory, I think it cost £22,000. I desire now to refer to the mail contract to which the Government have hitched my little State for seven years.
– The great betrayal!
– I think it is a be-‘ trayal. I consider it is unfair that Tasmania should be tied, so to speak, to the heels of a shipping combine for that long period.
– Senator demons said it was a good bargain.
– I do not remember what Senator demons said on the subject, hut, speaking vulgarly, I say it is a rotten bargain for our State. “We have now what is called the winter service. The wretched old Rotomahana has been put on once more. Passengors leave here by - her to-day, and God knows at what time to-morrow they will get to Launceston.
– If the engines.go they get through all right.
– Yea. That is the risk one has always to undergo in travelling on this old boat, which, as honorable senators must know, has been running for forty years.
– Hear, hear! A good old vessel.
– She has been, no doubt, a good vessel, and my honorable friend is welcome to her between Melbourne and Adelaide. I would admire her much more in the Adelaide trade than in the Launceston trade.
– In the good old days she used to be the greyhound.
– Yes, and in the good old times people used to go to war in canoes. I suppose it is only like beating the air to call attention to this matter. It is too late to protest now that the Government have tied Tasmania up for seven years. “We shall have to pay toll, and submit to the exploitation of the shipping combine.
– “Will you tell us a few of the most objectionable features of the contract?
– The most objectionable feature is that the contract has been entered into for seven solid years, and there can be no variation of the terms and conditions until that period has elapsed. In the meantime the shipping companies can put up the fares and the freights, which they have done twice during the last three years.
– “Without limitation?
– Of course there is a limitation, but whatever the limitation is it rests entirely with the companies. We have to travel by the boats of the shipping combine, or swim.
– Have . the Government reserved no right to review the fares and freights?
– There is some little useless condition in that regard - “ any- thing unreasonable “ ; but who is to be the judge of unreasonableness? The shipping combine?
– Could we not go by aeroplanes?
– Please God, we will do so very soon. I am not.- satisfied with the contract, and it is not to the credit of Tasmania’s representatives in another place that the Government were permitted to perpetuate this injustice on our State.
– One of them could have held it up.
– I am sorry that the Minister of Defence is not in his place, but, of course, he cannot be in two or three places at one time. I regret very much that something in the way of justice has not been done to Captain Onslow, a very capable man, who was abruptly retired from the . position of second member of the NavalBoard, and who is compelled to leave this country almost in a condition of disgrace professionally. I understand that he will leave Australia in the course of a few days, with a good deal of regret, because he still feels that his knowledge and his experience would have been of considerable assistance in developing our naval scheme. He is leaving Australia very much heartbroken because of the treatment he received at the hands of this Government. If it should happen that the whirligig of time should bring a Labour Government into power within the next few months, I sincerely hope that an invitation will be sent to this highly capable officer to return to Australia and accept the position on the Naval Board which he did fill, and is capable of filling, with a great deal of distinction.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lynch) adjourned.
The following paper was presented : -
Timber - particulars of, at present stored, for use by Commonwealth Government.
Senate adjourned at 3.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19140508_senate_5_73/>.