8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T.
Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 12th March (vide page 370), on motion by Senator Lynon -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to-
ToHis 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.
– The few remarks I propose to make will have reference to some matters which I conceive to be of Australian importance. I wish to be quite candid with the Senate, and therefore admit that I regret I was defeated at the last Senate ‘ election. While I have regret on that account, I have the consolation of knowing that I have had my say while J have been here. It is never pleasant to be defeated at an election, but the unpleasantness is increased when one does not know by how many votes he has been defeated.
– It might be still less pleasant for the honorable senator if he did know.
– It is very unsatisfactory that I do not know. I was asked the question in Melbourne yester- day, and had to confess that I did not know. I said I had obtained 129,000 first ‘ preference votes; that when the second preference votes were counted my total rose to 143,000 odd, and that at the declaration of the poll my total was 130,000. I am not contending for a moment that if all the votes recorded at the election were counted to a conclusion the result in Queensland would have been different.’ We, who were defeated at the election in Queensland, may be said to be like those who die for want of breath, since our defeat was due to want of votes. It would have been much more satisfactory if all the votes recorded had been counted to a conclusion,so that we might have known what the position really was. I sincerely trust that if the electoral monstrosity upon which the last Senate election was conducted is to be allowed to continue in operation - and I suppose that the Government will see that it does, since it served them so well - at least an amendment providing for a full count of all votes recorded will be made, as well as some other obviously necessary alterations of the law.
A matter I wish to bring under notice is one which has an Australian application, and it is in regard to the future policy to be adopted in connexion with the Pacific Islands. Honorable senators will remember that during last session I raised the question a couple of times in this Chamber, and expressed a fear that a policy might be adopted which would have the effect of putting plantations in what was lately German. New Guinea under the control of monopolies instead of having them subdivided, as I suggested, into blocks of 250 acres for the settlement of returned soldiers desirous of going there, and who might be able to carry on the blocks successfully with assistance from the Repatriation Department. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) went to Brisbane, just before the elections, he was waited upon by a deputation of returned soldiers, and promised them that nothing would be done in this connexion until the new Parliament assembled. I was interviewed about a month ago in Brisbane by some returned soldiers, who wished to find out how the scheme was progressing. I wired to the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Poynton), who had just been appointed Minister for Home and Territories, and he replied to the effect that the scheme of development to be adopted under the mandatory powers had not been completed. I ask the representatives of the Government in the Senate to make some reference to this matter, because the two returned soldiers who interviewed me in Brisbane gave me to understand that quite a number of returned men have their eyes turned towards New Guinea. They have not definitely decided to go to New Guinea, but they would go if they received proper encouragement. I saw these men again on the day following my first interview with them, and asked them if they could give me some idea of the number of returned soldiers in Brisbane who were looking that way. They said that they were acting on their own initiative, and did not represent any body or league. They had not discussed the matter with others with the intention of finding out how many would be prepared to go to New Guinea, but they told me that in the twenty-four hours since they last saw me they had quite casually met about twenty returned soldiers whose aspirations were similar to their own. They assured me that there were scores of returned soldiers in Brisbane prepared to go to New Guinea to settle, if given reasonable encouragement. I have no doubt that what may be said of Queensland in this regard applies in a lesser degree to the other States. I re ceived the following letter from one of the men who interviewed me: -
With reference to my previous inquiries re German New Guinea, I shall lie greatly obliged if you could enlighten me on the following: - If the Government has any scheme on hand to settle returned soldiers in German New Guinea, what assistance they propose to grant, the procedure required to get the land, if the policy the Government intend to adopt for the mandated territories has been decided on; if not, could you give me an idea of the approximate date when it will be settled? My reason for asking this is that I have been back from abroad some time now, and as I cannot afford to be idle much longer I would like to have an idea of how things stand.-
My previous contention was that these plantation areas should be cut up and given to returned soldiers desiring to go to New Guinea. There is an unlimited area of virgin country in New Guinea which the big financial organizations and syndicates might well undertake to develop, but which it would be impossible for private individuals to take up. I understand that there are some plantations which had reverted to the German Government in New Guinea, and there is a suspicion in the minds of many people that big syndicates in the South -have been organizing with the idea of acquiring those existing and fruitful plantations as they stand. I was made suspicious in this matter when I noted the constitution of the Royal Commission that was appointed to make inquiries in connexion with the Pacific Islands. It comprised Judge Murray - about whom I express no opinion, as I do not know the facts through being so far away from the centre of administration in New Guinea - Mr. Lucas, the Islands manager for Burns, Philp and Company, and ta third member in the person of Mr. Atlee Hunt, Secretary to the Home and Territories Department. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that what must have been in the minds of those who appointed the Commission and ‘the aim they were pursuing was that, recent developments having shown how successful Mr. Atlee Hunt as an administrative head proved himself to be in farming out the Northern Territory to Vestey Brothers, he might be able to farm out the plantations in the Pacific Islands to another monopoly in the shape of Burns,Philp and Company. I was suspicious of this Royal Commission as soon as T learned who were appointed members of it.
It is somewhat remarkable that in the Melbourne Argus of 3rd March there is a paragraph to the effect that these Commissioners have completed their report, which was in the hands of the Government, and that it would be laid on the table in Parliament before long. To-day is March 19, and the report has not yet appeared on the table of the Senate. There is keen interest taken in this matter by ma”ny returned soldiers and other people, who desire to know the policy to be. adopted by the Government in connexion with the Pacific Islands. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) in another place said that one of the tasks which he would be. called upon to perform when he arrives in England is to fashion the instrument for carrying out our mandatory powers in the Pacific. Perhaps the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Millen) will be able to tell us whether the mandate has yet been issued in view of the fact that there is no League of Nations yet and no peace, as events transpiring in other parts of the world clearly show-.
– We have a League of Nations.
– Have we the mandatory powers?
– The mandate has not been issued.
– I wanted a statement on that point from the Minister, not for any purpose of my own, but for the information of people who have been making inquiries of me.
Following on the remarkable operations in the Pacific after the outbreak of the war, it may be said that Burns, Philp and Company have had a monopoly of the Islands trade since the German line of steamers was withdrawn. The world’s market price for copra is £70 per ton, but Burns, Philp and Company used to go to German New Guinea and take, if not demand, copra at from £24 to £26 per ton, since they were the only buyers. I am given to understand that the trader Marcini, owned by Burns, Philp and Company, which was sent in search of the Matunga, the vessel captured by the Wolf, has been often to New Guinea, and has called at all the ports- of what was lately German New Guinea with a super-cargo on board. It was by these people that the copra producers were told that they must sell to Burns, Philp and Company, or their products would be left on the wharfs. This was done notwithstanding the fact that Burns, Philp and Company had been granted a subsidy to maintain the trade with Papua. It was found by the firm that it was more profitable to carry on operations with German New Guinea, and therefore Papua was absolutely starved in the matter of shipping facilities. It is not my intention to go into the question outlined by Senator Foll regarding the administration of Papua, because I do not know the exact position,” although I have heard many conflicting rumours.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that Burns, Philp and Company would pass Papua and go on to German New Guinea?
– Their ships were certainly giving preference to the copra trade in German New Guinea.
– It is a long voyage if they left out Papua.
– The firm has shipped large quantities of copra from German New Guinea direct to America, and it is time that it realized that what it did in war-time will not be permitted in time of peace. By adopting this policy it ‘is cutting off the Australian trade, and sending its boats from Rabaul and other Pacific islands direct to America. One of the arguments held out in favour of mandatory powers over the Pacific Possessions being granted to Australia was that the trade of the Pacific Islands would be held by Australia. If Burns, Philp and Company is allowed to continue its present policy, not only will the copra trade be diverted from Australia, but our own products will not be marketed in those Possessions. We are manufacturing tinned meats, condensed milk, biscuits, and other such commodities, which could be profitably marketed in the Pacific, but if we are not to have shipping connexion, and Burns, Philp and Company is allowed to continue to trade with America, the requirements of the islands must necessarily come from America, and not from the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth fleet will come in then.
– I would like an expression of opinion from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Millen) as to whether it is possible for the Government, through the Shipping Controller, or any other authority, to divert a line of steamers to the Pacific Islands, as the Commonwealth is surely entitled to that trade. If facilities were thus provided our trade with the islands would not only be extended, but markets in the East would also be opened up. If Burns, Philp and Company is allowed to exclude Australia, it will be a standing disgrace and a shocking example of the inability of the Government to handle a most important problem.
– If the honorable senator’s suggestion were adopted the Commonwealth would have to become a trader as well as a shipper.
– I do not suggest the Commonwealth should become a trader in copra and other commodities, but the Government should provide facilities for the development of trade, concerning which we have heard so much during the last few years. If Australian commercial interests are to. be dominated by one firm- and I understand that Burns, Philp and Company prefer to trade with America - a great injustice will be done to the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that Burns, Philp and Company should be compelled to trade with the Commonwealth?
-No, but that the Government should endeavour to establish a connexion between Australia and the Pacific Islands, particularly as we have a Shipping Controller under the jurisdiction of the Government.
There is another matter to which I desire to briefly refer, and it also has an Australian application. The saddest part of the elections - not of the result, but of the circumstances under which the campaign was conducted in Queensland - was the libels that were heaped upon that State. I am glad to be able to saythat the three successful Senate candidates were not responsible for these libellous statements. There were men, however, occupying high and honorable positions who absolutely went out of their way to grossly libel the State of Queensland. The Treasurer (Mr. Watt) publicly stated at St. Kilda that “the bailiff was waiting on the Treasury steps”; the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) said that “ Queensland was on the verge of bankruptcy “ ; and the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Bamford), who was assisted by some State members, declared that “the financial bottom was falling out of Queensland.” It is contrary to political ethics for elections to be conducted on such lines, and these gross libels were absolutely unwarranted and unfounded. Assuming, for the sake of argument, they were correct, which I deny–
– If they were correct they could not be libellous.
– It is astounding to realize that these so-called patriots went around damning one part of Australia, and gave it out broadcast to the world that what I conceive to be the pearl State of the Commonwealth was on the verge of bankruptcy.
– Such statements were not made to injure Queensland, but were made with the idea of saving the rest of Australia from a similar fate.
– They were made with the object of winning the elections. Condemnatory statements were not only broadcast throughout Australia, but throughout the world, and in condemning one important State, a reflection was cast upon the whole of the Commonwealth.
-Were those charges made against the State or against the financial activities of the Government?
– They were all insuperably interwoven with the State of Queensland, and to give an idea of the tactics adopted I shall quote from a pamphlet supplied to me in Mackay, containing a number of verses with a political colouring-
– Was it written by McDougall ?
– The issue of the pamphlet was authorized by John H. C. Sleeman, publicity officer, Northern National Political Union, Sturt-street, Townsville. The lines, which are a travesty on verse, are headed “ Damn Ryan,” and for the edification of honorable senators I shall quote a portion to show the policy our opponents as a body adopted in Queensland in their endeavour to secure victory; They read -
If Ryan damned the State he ruled,
To pawn its credit for the gain
Of party - and the people fooled,
Then who shall say that all in vain
The woman’s policy was framed,
Or that she should be now ashamed,
And not repeat the formula -
If Ryan damned prosperity,
Of all but Ryan-named T. J.,
Should he from “ damning,” scathless, free,
Amidst the mouldering decay
Pass out uncensured, and not told
The woman’s words were words of gold,
Although not classic formula -
The poem continues -
If he has damned this Northern’ State,
Why should his damning be postponed,
For inefficiency, should Fate
Prevent T. J. from being stoned?
Has Ryan. passed the stage when he,
From criticism should be free,
And scathless ‘scape- the formula -
– He does not say “Damn the Northern State.”
- Senator Millen has stated that there is ‘no reflection on the State of Queensland, and I therefore ask the Minister’s attention to the following lines : -
From North to South, from East to West
He has a land in travail sore,
The victim of fanatic zest
He leaves diseased, with rotting core,
A State that once from ill was free
Till damned by Ryan’s gaucherie:
Wherefore the caustic formula -
– The sentiment is good, but the poetry awful.
– For the information of Senator Newland and other honorable senators, I may say that Queensland is not “rotten to the core,” and any one making such a statement is a very little Australian. As members of a National Parliament we should “ side-step “ these miserable little things, and avoid adopting such contemptible tactics.
– Little things?
– Yes ; they are paltry and puerile, and I denounced’ such tactics from every public platform. Since I have been a member of this Chamber I have never cast a reflection upon any other State. Had I been a senator when the East- West Railway Bill was submitted I would have supported it, and I would also support the construction of a line from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta, because I realize that these are undertakings absolutely essential in the interests of the whole Commonwealth.
– You would have done something that your colleagues would not do.
– I am not responsible for their actions. A number of people repudiate my sentiments on many subjects, and there may be room for disagreement withmy colleagues on some points. It is unworthy of any man aspiring to a public position to broadcast such stuff throughout Australia. Senator Newland, by interjection, has stated that the sentiment was good–
– The whole thing is miserable drivel, and I am rather sorry the honorable senator is allowing it to be published in Hansard.
– The honorable senator is sorry because his party is associated with it. I am sorry for the honorable senator, because the issue of the pamphlet was authorized by John H. C. Sleeman, publicity officer of the Northern National Political Union. The honorable senator need not have any regrets . about me reading this, because I quoted it on every public platform after it came into my hands.
Reference has been made to finances in Queensland, and I should like to take this opportunity of briefly commenting on that important question. The Daily Telegraph of 16th March contains a report of a statement made by the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Theodore, who admitted that during the five yearsof Labour rule in Queensland a total deficit of £830,000 had accumulated.
– To what extent have the taxes accumulated?
– I shall endeavour to show, by quoting Mr. Theodore’s figures, how that deficit arose. He has made a comparison with the figures of 1914, and that is a reasonable basis on . which to work, and has shown that for the upkeep of hospitals £118,000 more bad been voted than in 1914; for insane hospitals, £100,000 more; for the support of State children, £100,000 more; for State schools, £370,000; and for secondary and technical education, £30,000 and £20,000 respectively.
There is an important item that is not mentioned included in the list submitted by Mr. Theodore. When the Labour Government came into power in Queensland, the railway workers were denied the right of access to the Arbitration Court - a right which had been denied them for years by preceding anti-Labour Governments.
– The Queensland Government did more than the South Australian Government has done.
– Exactly !
– The right was not given of their own free will, because the railway employees forced the hands of the Government.
– When Labour members were in opposition they repeatedly moved for an amendment of the Act to enable public servants to approach the Arbitration Court. I speak with some knowledge of the subject, because I served for two years in the Queensland railways, and left the service in absolute disgust. Ihave no hesitation in saying that before the advent of Labour to power in that State, the Queensland railway workers, the school teachers, and the police were absolutely the most sweated individuals imaginable. When they were given access to the Arbitration Court their plaint was heard, and the allround increases granted, not by the Caucus or the Trades Hall or the Government, but by a Judge in arbitration, amounted to £500,000. The increase was fully warranted, and it waa quite time it was given. We advised the Queensland people that they should be prepared to take the responsibility for the increase in wages. Subsequent increases were given, amounting to, perhaps, another quarter of a million. Those sums were saved by the previous Government by sweating their employees, and naturally that Government was enabled to show better results from the railways. No reasonable person could cavil at the belated action of giving the railway workers of Queensland something like a fair deal.
Let me quote the records of some of the other States in the matter of accumulated deficits. I shall not do so in any disparaging spirit, because I recognise that during the last five years conditions have been quite abnormal in regard to the cost of materials and the cost of living. Mr. Theodore says -
It is true that since we have been in office our deficit has grown to £830,000, but we should have had no deficit at all if we had hada sympathetic Legislative Council. We are not the only State with a deficit. Victoria during the past five years, under a National Government, has accumulated a deficit of £1,000,000.
Yet the fact that Queensland, under the Labour Government, has in five years accumulated a deficit of £830,000 has been broadcast, not only throughout Australia, but through the whole English-speaking world, to the detriment of Queensland and of Australia as a whole. Mr. Theodore goes on to point out that South Australia accumulated in five years, also under a National Government, a deficit of £1,800,000. Queensland, therefore, is not in it with nationally-governed States in the creation of deficits. We cannot hold a candle to them. Western Australia accumulated a deficit of £2,971,000 in five years, also not under a Labour Government, and the accumulated deficit of Tasmania in the same period was £177,000.
– Does a Queenslander draw comfort by instituting a comparison between his State and Tasmania ?
-I feel that, in justice to Queensland, I should endeavour to refute the slanders heaped upon that State during the election campaign, and ask honorable senators from other States to look a little nearer home before they race round the country condemning the management of the Queensland finances.
The public debt of Queensland is £91 per head, and Senator Crawford’ will assert that it has increased by leaps and bounds since Labour came into power. I know that has been stated all over the country. But the public debt of Western Australia is £116 per head. I do not say that that is anything against Western’ Australia, which has a relatively small population. The public debt in Queensland has been increased by £.11,000,000”; but bear in mind that we still boast the longest railway mileage of any State of the Commonwealth.
– And the biggest railway deficit, too.
-No. I think Victoria beats us in that, even though our railway men are paid decent wages. The public debt of Western Australia has increased by £9,000,000; of South Australia, by £9,000,000-, of Victoria, by £16,000,000, and of New South Wales, where the cream of nationalism prevails, by £30,000,000. All this is in five years.
– Will the honorable senator give the taxation per head ?
– I intend to do so, and I think I can present a point of view which has not previously appealed to the honorable senator. On the question of the increase of the public debt during the last five years, it should be stated that Queensland came into the arrangement with the Federal Government for the curbing of State borrowing and expenditure, whereas New South Wales did not.
An interjection was made regarding the Queensland Legislative Council. Honorable senators will, doubtless, have read in the press that it is intended to send a delegation from Queensland to England for the sole purpose, I presume, of defaming Queensland, as was done during the elections. It is to consist of Sir Robert Philp, Sir Alfred Cowley, and Mr. J. A. Walsh. Sir Robert Philp is a very estimable gentleman in .political life, so long as you do not bump up against vested interests- he is a very nice man personally; but if you do that, you tread on his corns. Nobody knows better than yourself, Mr. President, what Sir Alfred Cowley is - I suppose the blackest-hearted black labourite that Queensland ever produced, and the last man to give up the ghost in regard to the retention of the kanaka in the Queensland canefields, if, indeed, he has yet given it up, which I very much doubt. He was Speaker .of the Queensland Parliament for several years, and I honestly believe he would still love to see his “ brother,” as he used’ to call him, occupying North Queensland. Mr. J. A. Walsh is a six-and-eight-penny gentleman, who has to fawn on vested interests, -whenever they throw him a brief, bony or otherwise. He does not come into the calculation much. I take it that he is going as legal adviser to the delegation.
– Do not speak so disparagingly of lawyers. Is not Mr. Ryan one? And did be not receive a fee from . the Queensland Government?
– Quite a number of people have realized lately, to their cost, that Mr. Ryan is a legal gentleman.
Sir Robert Philp, who, we presume, will lead the deputation, was for three years Premier and Treasurer of Queensland, during which period the accumulated deficit totalled £1,100,000. A great song is being made about the accumulated deficit under the ‘ Labour Government reaching what is called a colossal height of £830,000 in five years of war time.
– There is a big difference between a deficit with low taxation and a deficit with high taxation.
– I do not desire to burke the taxation question. The percentage of deficit to revenue in Sir Robert Philp’s time was 10 ,per cent. ; ‘ under the Labour Government during the past five years it was 2 per cent.
– I do not think there was any direct taxation when Sir Robert Philp was Premier.
– That is the point. Sir Robert Philp is heading the delegation to London to complain about the financial position of Queensland, and what is termed’ the recklessness of the Labour Government. Senator Crawford and yourself, sir, will remember that Sir Robert Philp made an effort to impose direct taxation, with the idea of wiping out his accumulated deficit of £1,100,000. His idea was a poll tax of 10s. per head on every adult wage earner in Queensland, irrespective of his earnings. If the citizen earned nothing, he had to find the 10s. poll tax all the same.
– And other taxes were imposed, such as the income tax. Everyone had’ to pay a minimum of 10s.
– I believe the income tax was introduced about that time. I was mining then, and I remember that I had to pay the 10s., with ls. penalty.
The Queensland Labour Government, on the other hand, resolved that people who had done so well during the five years of the war should be asked to bear a fair proportion of the expense of carrying on the government of the State and developing its resources, and sought to remove a restriction which has been operating very harshly against the welfare of Queensland for many years. That is the restriction which .prevents the Land Court - not the Government nor the Caucus, nor the Trades Hall- from raising pastoral rents in reappraisement by more than 50 per cent.
That restriction was imposed when things were very bad in Queensland after the drought, to give the pastoral industry a chance of reviving, and in what was conceived to be the best interests of the State.
– That was a condition under which the land was leased.
– In 1910, when the Land Bill was going through the State Parliament, of which I was a member, Mr. Denham, the Liberal Premier or Minister for Lands, who was piloting the Bill, said that if he had his way, and if the Government had its way-, that restriction would be removed and the Land Court would be given the right to fix the rent at what it thought fair.
– That was when the Bill was before Parliament originally.
– It was not the original Act, but anamending Land Bill. The reason the Government could not make that alteration if it wanted to, was that the pastoral and other vested interests of the Legislative Council would not have allowed it, as the Government knew. The Labour Government has two or three times sent up a Bill to remove the restriction. Does anyone here say that it is unfair to give the Land Court the right to assess the rental of State properties? The idea is preposterous.
– If you leased a house from me at a fixed rental, you would consider it arbitrary and unfair if I increased the rental during the currency of your lease.
– If I came crying to the honorable senator for a low rental for the place I lived in, because I could not afford to pay more, having had bad luck, and the honorable senator gave me easy conditions for about ten years, and if all at once I prospered, would the honorable senator say “ You can have the house indefinitely on the same terms” ?
– But this is not indefinitely.
– Well , it is for thirty years. Would Senator Millen say that?
– Yes, because the lease had been granted prior to that. Senator FERRICKS.- Senator Millen has a right to say that in regard to his own house, but he has no right to say it in regard to the property of a State.
– A State has no more right to break a contract than have private parties.
– Everybody knows that the pastoralists of Australia have done exceedingly well during the past five years. Where is the patriotism of these gentlemen? At their head stands Sir Robert Philp - whose public career is inseparately interwoven with deficits - leading a delegation from Queensland for the purpose of defaming that State.
– If he defames it, will not he himself be among the first to suffer ?
– Oh, no. Because the Government of Queensland took certain action to get their legislative proposals through the Legislative Council of that State, these gentlemen are going to England to urge certain objections. I venture to say that if, during the war, I had stated that Australia was rotten to the core, that it was on the verge of insolvency, and that the bailiff was waiting on the Treasury steps, I would not have escaped with less than three years’ imprisonment. Yet these men are being allowed to go forth on a mission to defame a part of Australia. To my mind their action constitutes a very near approach to treason. Rather than allow them to go abroad on this mission the Government should intern them as enemies of the Commonwealth.
– Did I understand the honorable senator to say that the accumulated deficit of Queensland in five years represents a sum of £830,000?
– Why, the AuditorGeneral says the amount is £3,600,000.
– That is in regard to the railways. The delegation to whichIhave referred should not be permitted to leave Australia. Of course, I do next imagine for a moment that the Imperial Government will take any notice of their representations. The members of the delegation have been absolutely snubbed every time they have approached Downing-street. But in spite of that, they are going abroad to interview the financial magnates of Great Britain. Now, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth (Mr. Watt) has already left Australia for England on what, I understand, is to be chiefly a financial mission. Will tha presence of a delegation of responsible men from Queensland in Great Britain for the purpose of defaming one of the six States of the Union, be likely_ to assist Mr. Watt ? I cannot understand why the Government do not attempt to dissuade these gentlemen from the action they propose to take. I, for one, will never defame any portion of Australia. When political contests are fought on such grounds there is not a very great elevation of our national ideals.
I come now to a paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech which makes reference to the Arbitration Act. I had hoped to deal with a couple of . phases of this question before the recent elections were held, but, unfortunately, I was prevented from doing so. I now wish to outline the procedure which is ordinarily followed in our Arbitration Courts. It is usual for the employers and employees to go into the Court and state their respective cases. Then, the first factor which the Judge takes into consideration is the capital that is invested in the industry which is under review. Suppose, for example, that Senator Lynch invested £60,000 in an industry and employed a number of men in it. 1 If a dispute arose between him and his employees the Judge would- first take ,into consideration the amount of capital embarked in the industry, and would insure to Senator Lynch what he conceived to be a fair return upon it. Now, the machinery of an employer, for commercial purposes, may possibly be worth £60,000, but of what utility is it until the workers’ capital - the labour - is applied to it? But whilst consideration is given by the Court to the value of the- machinery that is operative in the industry, no consideration whatever is given to the capital of the worker. Until our system of arbitra- tion recognises that the workers’ capital is not only of equal, but of more, importance in commerce than is the capitalist’s machinery, it will not work equitably. Yet the Judges in our Arbitration Courts do not take any cognisance of it. They merely endeavour to ascertain the least amount upon which the worker can live to operate the capitalist’s machinery. A scientific system of arbitration would recognise the combined capital of all the workers ?ho operate the machinery.
– -Is not machinery only another form of labour?
– Yes, but the Court allows for a fair return upon the capital ‘represented by the machinery, whilst ignoring the capital which is represented by labour. Such a system is neither just nor scientific. There is another aspect of the matter to which I desire briefly to refer. The biggest objection to our arbitration system is the delay which occurs in the granting of awards, owing to the congestion which takes place in our Arbitration Courts. Let us suppose that Senator de Largie is an employer, and that a dispute arises between him and his employees. Before he will confer with those employees, he says to them, “You must first go back to your work.” Do employers exercise such authority by divine right? If a body of men leave their work because they are dissatisfied with the conditions of employment, what right has the employer to say “ Before I will confer with you, you must go back to work “ ?
– He has every right to do that when there is an Arbitration Court in existence. It is a great pity that we have not an Act under which those who break the law can be punished.
– The first people to break our arbitration laws were the Broken Hill Proprietary Company.
– That is no reason why other persons should do likewise. Two wrongs do not make a right.
– I wish now to put before the Senate some aspects of this matter which I regard as of. very great importance
– I believe that the Labour Government in Queensland asked men to go back to their work.
– If I left my employment I would refuse to do that, until the dispute in which I was concerned’ had been settled.
– And yet the honorable senator pretends to extol arbitration ?
– Arbitration has accomplished a lot of good, but the system must be altered if it is to live, and I am anxious that it should live. These disabilities, however, must be removed, and . the workers’ capital must be regarded as of equal value with the capital that is represented by the employers’ machinery.
Employers have no right to order men to resume work. Do they own me, body and’ soul?
– The honorable senator believes in the divine right to strike ?
– And he also believes in arbitration?
– I do, and I hope that the workers will never give up the right to strike.
– The two things are diametrically opposed to each other.
– Another phase of this question which is deserving of notice has reference to the hearing of plaints before the Court, especially in cases in which female workers are concerned. I remember reading a series of cases which were heard some time ago by Mr. Justice Edmunds in Sydney. In those cases quite a number of girls employed in the white work industry, and who appeared as witnesses, were asked by counsel, and by the Judge himself, most delicate questions in regard to the number of undergarments, &c, that they required during the course of the year. One question went so far as to seek information about a laundry bill. I do not think that female workers should be subjected to an examination of that kind either by the Arbitration Court or any other Court. If the Judge has no other means of getting the information that he requires, let him make inquiries in his own home regarding the laundry bill and the number of undergarments which are required in a year by a female. Again, an almost unlimited time was expended by one of the Judges in our Arbitration Courts in taking evidence upon the question of whether bacon is a necessary commodity for the worker. Does he have to consider whether it is a necessary commodity in his own larder? Surely evidence on such matters is not necessary! These are the causes of the delays which occur in the granting of awards by the Arbitration ‘Court. When a Judge who is in receipt of £3,000 a year spends halfaday in conducting such inquiries, and when he presumes to ask female witnesses such delicate, and almost immoral, questions as I have indicated, the Court ceases to be one of arbitration, and becomes a court of degradation. This is one of the factors which is causing our system of arbitration in Australia to become unpopular.
In conclusion, it is just within the bounds of possibility that I may again appear, in this Senate. In addressing the electors at the declaration of the poll, and particularly those who were gibing at me, I said, “ You are so pleased at my defeat that I propose to give you a little more pleasure. I promise you that, if the opportunity offers on some future occasion, you will be afforded another chance of voting against me. What more do you want ?” To those who are delighted with my disappearance from this Chamber, I say the same thing now. Should the occasion arise I shall take another opportunity of appearing before the electors of Queensland or of a part of Queensland and endeavouring to become again one of its representatives here.
– I desire to make a few remarks on the Address-in-Reply, and, at the outset, I would like to say that the election having been fought and won, I would like to be able to congratulate the Government and their supporters on their victory, because, having in me a little of the sporting instinct of our race, I enjoy a “scrap” like most men, and feel satisfied when the best man wins. But on this occasion I have reservations, for the reason that I do not think the fight was a fair one; it was won on what, in sporting parlance, is called a foul. Because of that, I reserve my congratulations to the Government. No doubt, this will not worry them very much, because they are in power, but f wanted to say it. Of course, the Government have no- need to worry, because’ in the Senate they have a great majority, and after June next there will be only one honorable senator left on this side to represent the views of the Labour party in Australia.
– But the honorable senators on this side represent the whole of their respective States.
– I know they profess to; but if that were so, things would be different in the country. In another place, the Government are in rather a precarious position, and anything may happen; but, personally, I do not think there will be any disturbance until the next election, as the new party is really only a second edition of the old Nationalist’ party; consequently, there need be no fear of any political turmoil, for the present, at all events.
Had the recent election been fought on’ its merits, and won on the performances of the Government, I would have been one of the first to congratulate honorable members opposite upon their victory.
– Your people were more to blame than anybody else if the election was not fought on its merits.
– I do not believe that ; and I intend to prove, as clearly as possible, that the Government were afraid to place the real issues before the electors, because they knew that if the people were properly informed they would not have had a chance in the country.
– Why did your campaign director bring in the woes of Ireland as one of the election issues?
– So far as I am aware, he did not do that; but I know that a good number of people who support honorable’ senators opposite bring the woes of Ireland and other countries into the politics of Australia.
– Your campaign director did this at the outset of the campaign.
– So far as I know, he did not do that. The campaign was not fought on the merits of the case at all. Every day the daily press printed columns of reports as to what- the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) was saying and doing, but nothing was said regarding the Government policy or the Government’s performances. The statements were mostly diatribes about “Ryan and ruin” and allegations of that character, that ought not to have been brought before the people at all. The Prime Minister, in his own way, so distorted the position in Queensland as to absolutely mislead the people, and the daily press, which could have controverted him, assisted in every possible way. They could have torn the entrails out of the Prime Minister, metaphorically speaking, with regard to his statements about Queensland affairs, but they had no mind to do so, and no desire to inform the people as to the real facts. We were told that Queensland, under a Labour Government, was the dearest State in Australia to live in, and that its finances were bordering on insolvency. These allegations are not borne out by the facts. I do not turn to any Queensland Minister for authority to refute them. I turn to the man who is supposed to occupy a judicial position, who is not swayed hither and thither by party politics, but takes the cold figures as they are, and presents the actual facts to the people. Concerning the high cost of living, Knibbs shows that in Queensland it is less than in any other State except Western Australia. In the last quarter of 1919, when the election campaign was in progress, the cost of living in Sydney was 33s. Id., in Melbourne 31s. 4d., in Brisbane 30s. 10d., in Adelaide 30s. 8d., in Perth 28s. 9d., and in Hobart 32s. 2d.
– The contention is” that there has been a greater increase in the cost of living in Queensland since the Labour Government came into power, than in any other State -of the Commonwealth.
– I think that allegation has been refuted in another place by the honorable member who was Premier of Queensland. He has pointed out that the Labour Government came into power in 1915, and that during the first year, they reduced the cost of living by 12 per cent., but the Commonwealth Government then took control of price fixing, under the provisions of the War Precautions Act, and immediately the cost of living in Queensland began to rise. It has been rising ever since at the same ratio in every State. Anyhow, Knibbs shows that in the last quarter of 1919 the average in Queensland was lid. lower than the average for the rest of Australia, and to me that statement ‘ appears to be unanswerable. Knibbs’ figures also disclose the same position for the other three quarters of 1919. Had the Prime Minister and the daily press been desirous of informing the people of the real facts of the case, they could have quoted Knibbs’ figures. What does it matter whether Mr. Hughes, Mr. Ryan, or Mr. Tudor is leading the Government of this country? Our real concern, should be that the people get the facts, so that they may judge for themselves.
– You should apply those principles to your Labour friends and the Labour press. They told the most scandalous lies about me in Western Australia.
– I am interested in the conduct of more than one Labour paper, and, so far as I am aware, they lay themselves out to inform the people of the country of the truth.
– The Labour paper in Tasmania gives the other side a fair deal in all respects.’
– I was interested in founding the Australian Worker, and yet no other paper told more lies about me at the last election. It repeatedly stated that I advocated Asiatic labour in Australia.
– I repeat that, so far as I am aware, the Labour newspapers of Australia lay themselves out to inform their readers of the truth inpolitics, and other matters of interest to the people. Our opponents knew that they had not a million to one chance of winning the recent election on a straight-out issue, and so they also brought in the question of every man’s religion.
– We did not start that campaign.
– You did. I propose to quote some of the literature that helped to put honorable senators opposite into this Parliament again.
– Personally, I never refer to any man’s religion.
– I am glad to know the honorable senator did not, and I believe also that many honorable senators opposite would scorn to win an election on the religious issue, but they must accept the responsibility for the actions of their party.
– Do you accept responsibility for the actions of the Labour press ?
– I have to, and I make no apology when I say that I am prepared to take my party with all its sins, its faults and shortcomings, though they be many. I take my full share of any responsibility attaching to me as an adherent of the Labour party.
But I want to inform honorable senators of what oocurred during the recent election, and to quote, for their information, extracts from some of the literature that was distributed to everv household in Victoria, stirring up ill-feeling between Roman Catholics and Protestants. They knew that unless this issue could be raised, the chances of success were five to one against them, so they departed from clean politics, and endeavoured to show that the Labour party were under the heel of Romanism. It may be news to some honorable senators, but I can assure them that this literature went a long way towards helping them to get back to Parliament. I am not a Roman Catholic. There are many amongst Government supporters, and many on my own side; but I never inquire what a man’s religion is. Nor does the Labour movement. We stand for giving the people the utmost freedom to worship where they like, when they like, and how they like.
– Anyhow, a man’s religion is settled for him before he is born.
– The honorable senator is quite right. A man’s religion is an accident of his birth. As a rule, a child follows the religion of its parents. This is an extract, referring to Roman Catholics, contained in one of the leaflets distributed throughout Victoria during the recent election campaign: -
The Public Services are full of these individuals, some of them good servants, some grossly incompetent, but all in the Roman organization for mutual protection against the fresh air of efficiency and competition, and against any inquiry into these departmental shortcomings of which so many of them are guilty. It is as difficult to bring one of them to justice in a Public Department as to secure a conviction from an Irish Roman Catholic jury in Ireland.
Each of them carries tales to the priest, sets traps for Protestants, watches and notes events that may develop, and warns the priest. They are the snarling and whining malcontents and discontents in all the associations, and in this they are supported by the priests, who naturally encourage them, under pretence of wanting “ better conditions.” The priests also assist to “ rope in “ or silence the more moderate ones by persuasion or threats.
Each adherent is a spy for the anti-State organization of the Romans.
That is the kind of stuff that the party opposite won the election on. I intend to give them a dose of it that it may go on the public records that there is a political party in this country prepared to descend to any depths to win an election. With regard to the Post and TelegraphDepartment, the writer of the pamphlet goes on to say -
In the post-offices, the telegraph, and the railways Romans act as spies, and ave guilty of treachery and mean conduct in all branches. They openletters, neglect to deliver letters or parcels known to be Protestant. They inform priests of the contents; they copy telegrams, note down telephone messages, and carry them to the priests; they neglect duties in the railways, hoping that Protestants will sutler; they purposely mislay parcels sent by or intended for Protestant organizations. All as part of a system to help the Church. Being all bigoted sectarians, they resist all freedom of speech.
This pamphlet was distributed by the Nationalist party. The only imprint upon it is “ Varley’s, Melbourne,” but the party opposite are responsible for its distribution.
– I did not know of it.
– Then if the honorable senator did not know of it, it is time that he did. It is time that he learned that this kind of thing was behind him. It is to make the honorable senator and others acquainted with these facs that I refer to the matter here. I believe that there is a vast number of people- in this country who are clean and honest, and believe in a fair fight, and would put their foot down on this kind of thing if they could. My purpose is to show that it can be of no advantage to any party that Australian public life should be contaminated by the distribution of matter of this character
– That is quite true, but the honorable senator should sweep before his own door.
– I have been, connected with the movement on whose behalf I am speaking here to-day for a very long; time, but I do not remember a single occasion when anything of’ this character was ever brought into any contest or any of our battles, political or industrial, by the party to which I belong. I quote further -
In the ‘ Customs Houses they endeavour to stop importation’s of any books dealing adversely with the Roman Church. In the revenue offices they pry into information, and communicate to priests the position and operations of all citizens.
It is as before stated, a development of the Roman Irish character and practice to avoid the work of production - the self-reliance and the competition of life - and get into a snug billet, from which to exercise pressure as a’ body and endeavour to capture the Public Service, and make it an adjunct to the Roman power in the State. It is a doubtful policy, indeed, whether any of the Roman sect should even as citizens have a proportion of these billets, but certainly it should be a very limited proportion.
In the opinion of these people it is a doubtful policy whether Roman Catholics should be given even a proportion of the public positions which have to be filled in this country.
No Roman Catholic should be in a position of trust in them.
What a sweeping condemnation that is of an important section of the people of this country. We have learned from the press in the last two or three days that the people so defamed here are to be led in a procession to-morrow by fifteen V.C.’s of the late war. These are the people who, we are told’, should not be permitted to occupy any position in the public life of the country. .The pamphlet continues -
No Roman Catholic should be in a position of trust in them, because he is trained and bound by allegiance to the priest and the church first, last, and. all the time.
Then the writer deals with the unions, and he says this -
In the unions of modern growth the priest sees an organ that may be of use to the Roman Church. Most unionists have a strong desire to better their conditions, but are not trained to study whether the views adopted will in the end effect this object. The priest is better advised and more far-seeing, he instigates Roman workmen or agitators to secure positions in these unions, and through them as presidents, secretaries, office-bearers he becomes the wire-puller behind the scene.
I have been active in the industrial life of this country for thirty-three years, but that statement is news to me. The writer continues -
Everything done or proposed is carried to him by his tools in the union. It is considered by the bishop, and if it suits the Roman’ Church it is supported. The disguise here is “humanity,” the love of the priest for the poor - which is as genuine as that of the wolf for the lamb.
All our business, and, I suppose, even that of the Australian Workers Union, as well as that of other labour organizations, is taken to the bishop to be considered by him. I suppose that the writer will tell. us later on that the bishop pronounces the decisions of the Australian Workers Union. This is the kind of thing that the party opposite filled the people of the country with, and won the election with, because they had no case of their own to submit to the electors.
– Why . pollute Hansard with rubbish of that sort?
– I am giving it to the honorable senator because his party is responsible for it. I want to shame him and his party, so that nothing of this kind shall happen again.
– I deny the honorable senator’s soft impeachment.
– The pamphlet continues -
In how many union officials are there now seen a predominance of Roman Catholic names, and in how many do. groundless agitations occur? It is extraordinary that the unions are blind to, or do not suspect, the real position.
The Irish Roman Catholic is by nature glib and shallow in speech, and for a time succeeds in impressing his co-unionists with his sincerity for their cause. Eis real and only object is himself, and his priest, and it will be always seen that on the analysis of the position that these two stand to gain a little, whoever else may lose. He either gets publicity, or a wellpaid billet, and it is the fixed Jesuit principle never to have peace if possible, but always to keep things in a state of flux, so that they make continuous demands for advantages and privileges.
That is more news to me -
The One Big Union is confessedly aimed at upsetting the Government, and we may therefore be sure that the Roman priests are striving craftily to get positions of prominence for their tools in the One Big Union.
I was under the impression, from all I had read on the subject in the press of this country, that agitators broughtfrom America, or some other part of the world, were responsible for all the talk about the One Big Union, and that their objective was not only to upset the present Government, but every other Government, and to have a kind of anarchical method of running this country that no one has very much time for. I find from this pamphlet, issued by the National party, who have the assistance of all the secret service, the Federal police, and every other agency possible to gather information, that it is not importations from other countries that run the One Big Union, but that the Roman Catholic clergy of the country are running the whole business.
– That is a remarkable production.
– It is like a good many more productions issued in support of the National party. The imprint upon it leads to no one. Those responsible for it are not game to put their names to it. Let me tell honorable senators now what, it is said, the Roman Catholics do in connexion with elections In this country. According to this pamphlet - Inourlectoral system, the Romanist priest busies himself both before and at the election.
Before, he organizes and instructs his tools in the police force - the force that carries out the detail of putting names on or off the electoral roll. The Romanist in the police are instructed to omit leaving notices at Protestant houses, but to include all Romanists, to remove names if inquiry is unlikely, to put on fictitious names that can be recorded and used by Romanists. These police are trained to be treacherous. At elections, the priests send round, by the police and others, secret voting instructions - they provide voters for names known to be absent or fictitious - and they scheme to prevent Protestants from voting.
I could produce in this chamber something even more vile than that which was issued by the same organization, and distributed over every garden gate in and around the suburbs of Melbourne and in every big town in Victoria. These things influenced the electors to a certain extent. People who were desirous of doing the right thing were frightened by these statements, supported, as they were, by the utterances of the Prime Minister and by the daily press. People were afraid of what was going to happen in Australia if the Labour party, supported, as they were led to believe, by the Roman Catholic Church, was again returned to power. Honorable senators have listened to the vile things which it is suggested that Roman Catholics in this country can be guilty of. No one believes them, but they served the purpose of the party opposite, and won the election for them. I am hoping that the history of this country will not be written on a foundation of that kind, but by the clean and honest people of Australia, who, I believe, will absolutely repudiate any party responsible for sending out stuff of this character. As a man who does not claim to be a saint, I say that the party that would be responsible for sending out that kind of literature to influence honest electors is not worth an honest man’s while stopping to spit on them.
– The Prime Minister talked of the “ unseen hand.”
– He was the instigator of the whole thing.
In addition to this, we had reams of matter published in the press of this country about Bolshevism and what was happening in Russia. In this connexion my own name was mentioned two or three times. A year or two ago I spoke in Ballarat on the subject of the League of Nations, and incidentally referred to some of the things that were happening in Russia. I said that in their fight for liberty the Russian people had my full sympathy, as every people fighting for liberty have always had. That waa construed into a statement that Iwas standing behind the nationalization of women, and wanted the women of Australia to be nationalized. I have a wife and five daughters of my own, and I am hoping that this country is going to be a place fit for them to live in. I desire that they should be able to live their lives in this country as happily as I have lived my own, and may perpetuate the name properly and honorably. The people who circulated that statement about me knew well that it was not true. The press knew that I did not stand for the nationalization of women, and that the working class of Russia did not stand for it. The press knew that the journal that first published that statement about the Russian people was at least clean and decent enough, when the truth was discovered as to the state of affairs in Russia, to publicly apologize to the Russian people for the foul aspersion cast upon them in saying that they stood for the nationalization of women. The daily press of this country knew that well, and knew that the Russian people did not stand for it any more’ than Barnes did. But they used that against Barnes in the election, and said that he stood for the nationalization of women. I say on the floor of this chamber that I wish them no more harm than this, that I hope to God that they will stand as strongly for the clean life of the women in this country as Barnes does, and, if they do, not much harm will be done.
– The daily press never repudiated the statement when they knew it was withdrawn.
– They have never repudiated’ it yet. The daily press of this country, which is supposed to influence, the morals and political opinions of the people, has not yet seen fit to apologize to the people of Russia for the statements to which it gave such publicity, and in which there was not a word of truth.
Let us now consider the promises made in the programme of the Government. Although they are somewhat numerous I hall deal with three in particular. One was submitted in July, 1917, the other on 25th June, 1919, and the last on 25th February, 1920. The first and second have, been broken, and it is to be hoped in the interests of Australia that a similar fate does not await the third. In 1917 the Government promised to amend the Tariff, but nothing was done. Another promise was made in June, 1919, but again inactivity prevailed, although the Government had nearly a year between the date on which the promise was made and that on which Parliament was to be dissolved by effluxion of time. Honorable senators were sent to the country six months before there was any occasion, and during the interregnum the Prime Minister and the Government could have submitted and passed the necessary legislation to amend the Tariff.
– What about the promises of the honorable senator’s party from 1914 to 1917 ?
– They have all been kept so far as I know, and if they have not, perhaps it is because Senator de Largie and others who left us prevented us from carrying out our programme. In common with all other parts of the world, we are experiencing the aftermath of war, and peoples the world over, whether they were directly engaged in connexion with the great conflict or not, cannot escape its consequences. Australia was in it right up to her neck, and in my personal opinion much more so than was warranted. At the outbreak of hostilities some adverse comments were made as to what the men of Australia were doing, and to some extent these may have been justified. I believe that Australians were prepared to do all that was humanly possible, and subsequent events have shown that they did. What was the result? People, including honorable senators on both sides, were going all over Australia asking the men of Australia to enlist, and I believe many of them honestly thought that they were doing the right thing. The Australian people were ied to believe that Belgium was on the verge of being wiped off the face of the earth, and our men went in thousands to assist in suppressing the outrageous atrocities that were being committed in that country. I do not think there was a single man in Australia who was not prepared to endeavour to right those wrongs. Now that the war is over let us consider what Australia has done. We have lost for ever 60,000 of our best and bravest men, and Belgium, the country we were asked to save, which has a population of 8,000,000-3,000,000 more than that of the Commonwealth - has lostonly 20,000.
– Many were under German control, and could not join their armies.
– The Australian people were gravely misled, but I am not accusing any one of doing it wilfully, because I honestly believe that they thought they were right. In this, as in connexion with all wars, we have been seriously misguided. There is always some one behind the scene engineering such conflicts, and who do not care how many sons of ours are slaughtered or maimed. I was hoping, as I am sure all other honorable senators were, that the last conflict would end all wars, but I am somewhat doubtful if that happy result will he achieved. Since the armistice was signed, fighting has been going on in different countries, people are still being slaughtered, and there appears to be no power to stop it.
– The slaughter would have been greater had the Allies been defeated.
– Very likely. On a recent occasion, when speaking of the League of Nations Treaty, and when contradicting the accusation that I was in favour of the nationalization of women, I stated that if that treaty was likely to be successful two things were essential, and they were that full franchise should be given to all adult3, and that the people should be properly educated.
– -Why did not the Labour party stand up to their work?
– We are standing up to it now.
– Why did you not send a Labour representative to the Washington Conference?
– That was merely Another fake. We do not walk into all the traps you set for us, and although you may . “get” us on some occasions you cannot do so always.
– What about, the resolution that was carried at the Trades Hall last night?
– I know’ that a resolution was passed, but I am not worry ing about that. I do not think it is worth while. It will take all the resources of this country and the tolerance of our people to enable us to carry the burden we have to bear.
It is no use whining about our responsibilities, because we have to meet the bill, and to do this we must foster our industries and encourage production. We cannot, however, hope to do that unless Ave are prepared to tax the wealth of the community, and make the country produce more. We do not desire men to work long hours or to reduce their remuneration. We have produced, and are still producing millions of pounds worth of wool, wheat, and meat - three very essential commodities. At the present time we are sending wool to Great Britain or elsewhere for treatment. There was a time in the history of England when all the wool produced in that country was sent to Flanders to be woven into cloth. The statesmen of that time realized that it was a foolish policy, and said that as they were growing the wool they should manufacture it into cloth. They did so, and instead of sending their product and their1 money out of the country they brought money in. Experts were sent to Flanders, with the result that manufactories were established in ,Great Britain, and since that time all the wool has ‘been treated at Home. Why cannot Australia do the same? An honorable senator says that they have the population. We would have the population if sufficient inducements were offered. It is not necessary to advertise Australia in the papers of Ireland, ‘Scotland, or Wales, because the people there have friends in Australia who advise them of the conditions prevailing here. They also see Labour papers, that give them information that is nearer the truth than thatcontained ‘ in some other newspapers. It is unnecessary for them to depend on leading articles in such journals as the Argus to learn of the opportunities there are in Australia. Those intending to emigrate to this country desire to know if they can get remunerative employment ; and if that were available, we could get suitable settlers from almost any part of the world. It is merely a question of offering a sufficient inducement.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– Opening up all the avenues of employment. In the first place, I would suggest following the steps of Great Britain when she sent woollen experts to Flanders to make inquiries into the woollen industry. England is manufacturing cloth, and disposing of it in the markets of the world, and surely we can do the same.
– It would be difficult to get weavers in Australia to agree to the hours worked in England.
– I would be in favour of weavers in this country working as little as possible, because I think history has demonstrated that a tremendous mistake has been made by asking men to . work long hours. This is very clearly illustrated by the fact that when Kitchener’s first army was mobilized, quite 50 per cent, had to be discharged - not because they were not courageous, but because they were unfit to do a man’s work. We do not want low wages, long hours, and a condition of slumdom in this country. Great Britain has realized her mistakes, and is now making an effort to improve tile conditions qf her working people.
– There is a vast difference between that and the modern effort to abolish work altogether.
– If we could do without work it would be better still ; but that is not practicable. I do not find fault with work, because I think that most people are better if they .engage in some active and useful occupation; but no one is better when driven to the limit of his capacity..
Coming back to the promises which I hope the Government will keep.. Irrespective of the opinions that will be expressed by the financial interests of Great Britain, it is out bounden duty to see that woollen industries are established in this country, and that our raw materials are locally treated before being exported.
– American investors would bring millions of pounds into this country if they were not afraid of the labour conditions.
– They would not be afraid of the Australian labour conditions if they knew the capacity of the Australian workmen.
– They are not afraid of the high wages.
– They know that the Australian workmen are capable of producing more than those of other Coull- ‘ tries, and are prepared to come to Australia and invest their capital.
I am asked why do not they make a start. There are many -reasons. The manufacturers of this country are seeking protection under a new Tariff, arid the workmen also need protection. I trust the Government will be successful in their endeavour’ to establish new industries as there are tremendous possibilities, particularly in the woollen industry. Why should we export our raw material when we should be exporting the finished article ready for placing in the tailors’ shops? There arehundreds of thousands of useful citizens in Great Britain who would be prepared to come to Australia, but they do not wish to land in this country and be “compelled to carry a swag from door to door in search of work. I am strongly opposed to an immigration policy that will result in flooding this country with men and women from abroad before our own people are found employment. In Ballarat the other day I was informed by an official of the Returned Soldiers’ Association -that 400 men in that city are awaiting work. They were drawing a sustenance allowance, but they do not want that. A business man said to me the other day, “ I have two young men working in my office who were drawing a’ sustenance allowance. Although they are smart lads, they could not get anything to do for months, and so I found employment for them. They are well worth what they are paid in the office, and it was pleasant to see how delighted they were to get off the streets into some useful occupation, and be made independent of Government sustenance.” What applies to these lads applies to 99 per cent, of the other fellows, of whom so many thousands’ are wanting (employment., What I have said refers to only one city in “Victoria, but the same thing applies to nearly the whole of Australia. Why, then, are not the Government active in getting them settled before they agitate to bring people from other parts’ of the world ? If we could truthfully state that there is not one returned soldier in this country desirous of employment who has not got it, it would be the finest possible advertisement to induce emigrants to come here.
– There are two jobs waiting in the country for every man who goes there.
– My experience is altogether different. ‘ As president of a big organization, it is my business to know what is doing in the labour markets of Australia, and to put men in touch with work if I can. My experience, and the experience of our organization, is that the work is not there, and that thousands of men are now out of employment in Australia , not because they desire to be, but because they cannot help it. That is a bad condition of things in every way.
– There are a lot of returned soldiers waiting for employment.
– That is my experience ako.
What I said about wool applies to wheat, meat, leather, and a number of other products which we send away from ‘Australia to give work to people on the other side of the world. Instead of keeping the work, and the money, too, in our own country, we send it all out of the country and cart the material twice across the sea, to use it finally ourselves. There is no sense iri that system, and ib ought to be altered. We are told, on the authority of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), that Germany is easily the most highly-organized industrial country. She organized her industries .in a way that we possibly have not attempted to do in Australia, by means of bounties and other things. There are many ways in which we can do this, Once we settle in our minds that we are going to do it. We must first resolve to establish these industries in this country, irrespective of what is said by monied interests in other parts of the world. We must keep in mind all the time the motto, “ Australia first,” if -we are to make this country what it ought to be. If we do that we may expect effect to be given to some of the Government’s promises.
I listened attentively to Senator Fairbairn’s remarks regarding arbitration, and congratulate him upon his very evident earnestness and desire to find some means to avoid the industrial troubles that are continually recurring in this country. I believe that it is possible; but it is only possible by getting, earnest and honest men to deal with the problem.
– Hear, hear! On both sides.
– Yes, on both sides. We have an Arbitration Act, and some one said this morning that arbitration had done a great deal more for the workers than strikes had done. I am a strong advocate of arbitration, but I would point out that strikes brought about arbitration.
– They forced the people to get something better.
– Strikes forced the people to legislate for something that would obviate them if possible. I am also well aware that before we had arbitration we could not get conciliation. Senator Fairbairn, as a prominent member of the pastoral community, will remember the times I am speaking of. 1 have been interested in the pastoral industry, in perhaps a humbler way than the honorable senator, for many years.. I remember that, before we had arbitration, my organization went time after time to the Pastoral Association, and requested them to meet us in conference. Time after time that request was point-blank refused. They would not meet us.
– And now the boot is on the other foot.
– That is not so.
– You are the. top dogs now.
– But we never refuse to meet the pastoralists. I am continually meeting their representative here to talk over various difficulties, and I am pleased to be able to say that we manage to ‘settle them. When we cannot agree, the Registrar contrives to settle the ^trouble for us. That arrangement has been mutually satisfactory. In the early days, the other side simply said to us, .in effect, “Get off the earth. How dare you ask us for an opportunity to talk over your troubles? Our troubles about your troubles ! We are doing all right.” That was the spirit in which the Australian Workers Union were received, and it was the experience of every organization in this country before the Arbitration Act was passed. We forced on arbitration because we were prepared to fight, and struck and struck again until we got it. An honorable senator interjects that we are still striking. I admit that we still strike, hut that is only when it is necessary and unavoidable. The Government panty say they are going ito alter the Arbitration Act. They said the same in 1917 and 1918, but they have not done it yet. I hope they will carry out their promise and do something to make that magnificent piece of machinery more adaptable to the requirements of the times. It is absurd for the daily press to say that agitators go out and foment strikes. Nothing is further from the truth. I have been connected with a number of strikes, and I assure the Senate that I would sooner be there as one of the rank and file than as an officer at any time.
The Arbitration Act has many faults. Mr. Justice Higgins has pointed out many directions in which it can be amended in order to give better service to the people. Organizations have also pointed out many particulars in which the Act wants amending. The great trouble is that, when organizations state a case and file a claim before the Court, the Court work is so congested that they have to wait a long time for a hearing. In some cases it has been as long as two years. We all know that during the war the cost of living has been going up by leaps and bounds, and no man can be expected to work contentedly at the same wage when he Knows that it costs him 15s. to buy what cost him only 10s. two years ago. Everybody knows that that is true, and it is time we altered it. We should attempt it now. Possibly, we are limited to a certain, extent by the Constitution, but we ought to find out where that limitation ends. We should test the matter again and again until we ascertain how far the Constitution does actually limit our arbitration power.
– What about the cases where strikes have occurred almost on the heels of a fresh award?
– Strikes will occur, as the honorable . senator knows, but it is very rarely that a strike occurs unless there is some good reason behind it, because, after all, our people are not all fit for the lunatic asylum. They are common-sense people, and do not go on strike for fun. It should be the concern of the Government to remove the dis abilities which face the workers. After all, they are our people; they are the people who create the wealth; and surely, therefore, they are the most important section of the community. They should be considered, and the desires they express should at least concern the Government, if the Government intend to do what is best for the whole people. If possible, the Government should amend the Arbitration Act so that it will not take longer to have a case heard in the Arbitration Court than it does in a civil Court. In seven days, or at the very outside in three, months, one can get into Court with any other kind of case in this country. Why cannot the Arbitration Court be organized in the same way? Why should my organization have to wait for six months or a year for a hearing? Why should not people be able to get before the Court within a reasonable time? Of course, certain things have to be done when a claim is filed, because the other side must be informed of what you are asking for, but that should not take two years or anything like it. More Judges should be appointed, if necessary. I would not care if we had fifty Judges receiving £2,000 a year each, if by that means we could keep the industries of this country going, and give the industrial organizations confidence that they will get a square deal. Senator Fairbairn can wield a great deal of influence among the people with whom he is in touch regarding industrial affairs. He can impress on them that something is expected from them also. They must know that they must swallow some of their pride, just as we have to do’ who do the work in this country, and they should recognize that when we file a claim or approach them in any way we are not actuated by a mere whim. When we approach any section of the employers with a demand, whatever they think of it they should understand that it concerns us any how, if it does not concern them, and that the request has been honestly made and ought to be courteously met. I have been on deputations down here with my organization, where those receiving the deputation annoyed one by th’eir offensive manner so much that it almost made one want to get up and “ crack” them.
– I do not think that has been the case recently.
– It happened not very long ago. It may not do much good to make the thing public, because I believe that sometimes the soft word gets you a long way further than the angry one.
The Arbitration Court is distasteful now to a very large section of the industrial organizations. Take the case of the recent seamen’s strike. I knew the full extent of the men’s case, and thought it a reasonable one. Evidently they impressed the Government with, the reasonableness of their claim in the end, because the Government stepped in and settled the dispute. The Court could not do so. These things are important, because that struggle held up thousands of men who were not directly interested in it. When the coal supply of a country is- stopped the wheels of thousands of industries are stopped, and people who are not directly concerned in the strike are looking for something to eat. It -is a calamity when such a’ thing can occur, and if any Government, Labour or otherwise, can remove the cause it is doing good service to the people. I hope the Government will keep their promise by making the Arbitration Court so plastic and pliable to the service of the people that it will gain the full respect of all the industrial organizations.
– How would you enforce awards?
– I know that that is very difficult. There is machinery in the Act to provide for certain penalties, but I do not remember any case where these have been enforced. My organization, which embraces over one hundred thousand workers, is an arbitration union. We stand for the awards of the Court, and have done so for a number of years. We have been able to work amicably for the people who employ our class of labour.
– You have some
– Odd strikes cannot be avoided, but those which have occurred in the pastoral industry have not been of any great magnitude or importance. We have kept our awards, the other people have kept them fairly well also, and that big industry is being carried on without any great trouble.
– When the sitting was suspended I was proceeding to show that whilst the organization of which I am a member stands for arbitration, and whilst its members have worked under Arbitration Court awards over a long series of years, it is an impossibility for that organization to get its trouble settled always by means of arbitration. That is why I desire to enlist the interest of Senator Fairbairn in this matter. I know that he is a gentleman who deservedly wields a great deal of influence with the employing class. I wish, therefore, to point out to him that there are a great many instances in which members of the Australian Workers Union are unable to get to the Arbitration Court.
A day or two ago I called attention to a dispute that exists at the present time amongst the men engaged upon the Murray River waters scheme on the Victorian side of that river. In reply the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories told us that; -
The State submits to the Murray River Waters Commission proposals and estimates of works. These are subject to approval by the Commission-. When the construction of works is authorized, the execution, including employment and fixation of wages, is a matter for the State-constructing authorities.
Now the Commonwealth is contributing towards the Murray River waters scheme the sum of £1,000,000, and New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia are each contributing a similar sum. The Chairman of that Commission is the representative of the Commonwealth. The position to-day is that the men who are engaged upon the Mitta works on the Albury side of the river are working under an award of the State Arbitration Court, and receiving 14s. 3d. per day, whilst the men who are employed upon the Victorian side of the river, and who cannot get a Wages Board, or other industrial tribunal, to determine their claim, are being paid only. 12s. per day. I am assured that these works will be in progress for about twenty years, and that, in course of time, they will employ 7,000 or 8,000 men.
– That is the fault “ of the honorable senator’s association, which advised the electors to vote “ No “ upon the recent referendum proposals.
– That association did nothing of the kind. Personally, I am very sorry that the proposals were not carried, because we should then have been able to test the sincerity of the Government in regard to them. Owing to the conditions which I have outlined a strike is now in progress on the Murray River works - a strike in which some 300 or 400 men are involved. It is impossible for any organization to induce its members to work for 2s. 3d. per day less than other men are receiving for doing precisely similar work right alongside them. Yet the daily press has the temerity to tell us that we are the people who are engendering industrial strife. The State Government will not act in this matter, and consequently I appeal to Senator Fairbairn to bring his influence to bear with a view to securing a satisfactory settlement of. this industrial dispute. I need scarcely remind honorable senators that thousands of our soldiers are returning to Australia, and that many of them are waiting for land upon which they can establish their homes. I understand that the Government intend to settle a large number of them along the waterways- of the various States. It is important, therefore, that this scheme should, be carried out promptly in order that the wealth of this country may be greatly increased. The Government have £1,000,000 invested in the Murray River waters scheme, and a great portion of their Repatriation policy hinges upon the expeditious carrying out of that undertaking. It would, therefore, be distinctly to their advantage to get the men who are now on strike back to their work without unnecessary delay. There are influences which can be brought to bear on the Government, and I hope that every honorable senator will do his best to bring about the result which I have indicated.
We have heard a good deal of talk recently about the need for re-establishing the trade of the world. But there are some persons in the community who say, “Notwithstanding our great desire to reestablish the old order of things, if the prosperity of the earth depends upon our trading with Germany, so far as we are concerned we cannot assent to it.” In a speech made by the Prime Minister which was reported in the Argus of the 6th September last year, the right honorable gentleman said -
Germany stands to-day the best organized nation in the whole world for the commercial war that is to be. There are people here who speak to me about trade relations with Germany. Well, gentlemen, .you must choose. If you want trade relations with Germany get some one else.
What sense is there in taking up such a position at that? I have here cuttings from the daily press of Victoria, which show that, at the time the Prime Minister made this silly statement, England, America, France, and Switzerland had resumed trade relations with Germany.
– America particularly.
– Yes. In Australia we have large shipments of wheat and wool awaiting transport to the markets of the world. Yet the Prime Minister wishes to put the 90,000,000 of people in Germany - who, according to him, are the best organized race on the face of the earth - into a bottle, and to ja ab the cork down tightly, so as to keep them there. His attitude is a perfectly ridiculous one. The war is over, and it is our business, as quickly as possible, to wipe out all the soreness that has been engendered by it. It is impossible to bottle up 90,000,000 of the most intelligent and highly-organized people in the world. It is generally supposed that the Allies are going to get thousands of millions of pounds by way of . indemnity from Germany. I do not think that Australia will get any of it, and I am very doubtful whether it would do us any good if we did get it. Seeing that we have vast quantities of wheat, wool, meat, and other classes of merchandise awaiting transport to the other side of the world, we would be absolutely foolish if we cut out one of the best buyers we could possibly get. If. Germany is so badly in n< jd of raw materials she will probably be prepared to pay the highest prices for them. At present we do not sell our wool to Germany. But what happens? We sell it to Britian, France, and America, and they, in turn, sell it to Germany. The middleman thus gets the profit. It is like instructing an auctioneer, at a horse sale, to disregard the bids of the best buyer present. We must recognise that the 90,000,000 of German people naturally wish to see their country restored as soon as possible. By helping them to re-establish normal’ conditions there, we shall be doing something in the interests of our own people. I trust that, in the future, we shall hear less of the stupid attitude towards Germany which has been exhibited by the Prime Minister.
I regret what appears to be the defeat of Labour at the recent general election. I am sorry that I shall have to vacate my seat here, but I trust that my absence from the Chamber will be merely of a temporary character. I hope that in the days to come, when the bitterness which has been engendered by the recent war has passed away, the 600,000 trade unionists of this country will be reunited, that they will wipe out the little differences which have separated them in the pplitical field, so that by the time the next election comes round, their full strength may be exerted, instead of being dissipated by reason of divisions over comparative trifles. If those 600,000 voters with their sons, brothers, wives, and sisters marched together to the ballot-box they would have very important influence upon the result of any future election, because they would represent a very big percentage, if not a majority, of the 2,250,000 votes that are polled in this country. And so I say to my fellow-unionists outside, “ Never mind your interna] bickerings, the time is coming when it will be necessary, for the political salvation of this country, to remove all these pinpricks which are creating differences between you, and rally to fight for the bigger things that we all expect Australia to see.” We hope, in the course of time, to have in Australia a population ten times greater than at present, and all properly catered for, in an industrial and political sense. And if we close up our ranks we shall be able again to show, as we were demonstrating before the war, that there is a part of this earth upon which people can live together in happier and better circumstances than in any other part of the world. I shall leave this Senate with some regret. I have been in politics for seven years. I came here with certain definite and clear principles, and I can say that I shall go out without sacrificing one of them. I have not gone back on any pledge given to my constituents or the organization of Labour, and I feel that I shall be able to say that whether I have accomplished much or little, at least I have been true to the promises I gave to my people. I know, however, that I shall not be out of the political contest altogether. It is not my nature to remain silent, and so, when I vacate my seat in this august Chamber I shall take up my work outside. All my life I have been in the stress of the industrial and political world, and in future I shall do my share of the work as I have done in the past. I hope that I shall do it as loyally and as earnestly as in the days before I came into this Chamber, and as honestly as I did while here.
.- I should not have spoken on the AddressinReply but for some remarks made by Senator Ferricks in relation to the financial position in Queensland and the attitude taken up by members of the Nationalist party during the recent election campaign. When Senator Ferricks charges Government supporters with having vented their spleen upon Queensland he is making a statement that is” absolutely wrong. Queensland occupied a prominent place in the election campaign, chiefly because of the financial condition of the State as the result of the administrative acts of the gentleman who” is now the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan). I think, therefore, that members of the Nationalist party were doing their duty to Australia when warning the people not to accept as a leader, and a possible Prime Minister, a man whose administration had brought Queensland into its present chaotic condition, and who was glad enough to get out. Senator Ferricks also made some reference to the increased wages paid to Queensland Government employees, including those in the Railway Department. I admit that these increases were justified, but I point out that the higher freights and fares charged more than covered the extra amount paidto employees, and, in spite of this fact, last year’s operations showed a considerable deficit.
– But were not the employees sweated previously ?
-I have admitted that the employees were entitled to the various increases paid to them. I would be the last to say that any public servant should be expected to work for wages not in keeping with the present high cost of living. But I point out that the railway deficit for 1918-19 was £1,421.328 as compared with the surplus of £48,651 in 1914-15. when the previous Government relinquished control.
– Can the honorable senator point to any railway service in the Commonwealth that did not show a deficit during the war period ?
– That does not enter into the discussion at all. The railway services of the Commonwealth were recouped by the Defence Department for any extra expense as a result of the wax.
– But all the States, and not Queensland alone, had a deficit. That is the point.
– The honorable senator will have an opportunity of putting his views before the Senate if he wishes to do so. It is my purpose to remove any misconception created in the minds of honorable senators by Senator Ferricks’ remarks. The honorable senator also said that certain influential gentlemen in Queensland were getting into communication with financial authorities in Great Britain with respect to the proposed State loan. I venture to say that these people are not alone in their condemnation of the Administration. The AuditorGeneral, in his report, states -
There is now a world-wide demand for economy in respect to public expenditure, and, in view of the deficits of the past three years, together with the information conveyed by the figures in general, appearing in the report, it is obvious - if the financial stability of the State is to be maintained - that the gravity of the present situation and the risk in regard to the future call for thoughtful reflection. While the railway receipts since the State Labour Government have been in power have increased by 5.04, other receipts increased by 8.3 per cent., and taxation by 190.5 per cent. Notwithstanding this heavy increase in taxation, the Queensland Government finished last year with a deficit. Yet Senator Ferricks has the temerity to say that Nationalist candidates had no right during the election campaign to bring the finances of Queensland into the discussion at all. I am one of those who believe that Queensland is second to no State in the Commonwealth. I believe that, with sane administration and if given a decent opportunity, Queensland, from a productive point of view, will compare more than favorably with any other State.
– But your own people have been running down Queensland by disparaging the Labour Government.
– We did criticise the State Administration, and I think we struck the right note when we warned the people not to put into power in the Commonwealth a Government of the typo that we have endured in Queensland for the last five years.
– Give us some extracts from the Commonwealth AuditorGeneral’s report concerning the mismanagement and extravagance of the Federal Government.
– If the honorable senator desires, he can do that in his own speech on the Address-in-Reply. I believe that the people of Australia are to be congratulated for not having returned to power a Labour Government led by the gentleman who was Premier of Queensland during the period under review.
I should like now to deal with certain matters in connexion with the Repatriation Department. In Queensland it is not the policy of the Government to part with the freehold, and so returned soldiers who desire to settle on the land there are at a distinct disadvantage as compared with returned soldiers settled on the land in other States, where land settlement is on the freehold basis. I do not know what the constitutional position is, butI was always under the impression that there should be no differentiation between the States, and, as I have just pointed out, land settlement in Queensland is on a different basis. The money for land settlement is provided by the Commonwealth Government, but the administration is in the hands of the State authorities. I take it that it is possible for the Commonwealth to procure land in Queensland which might then be devoted to the settlement of returned soldiers on terms similar to those which can be taken advantage of by returned men in the other States. I ask the Government to see that a close watch is kept upon the land thrown open in all the States for the settlement of returned soldiers. On some of the soldier settlements in Queensland the returned men are doing well, and will doubtless become prosperous citizens, because the land selected for them is good land. In other cases, and notably in connexion with the soldiers’ settlement on the North Coast line, the land is patchy in character, and, whilst a man on one farm is doing well, his neighbour may have struck a bad patch, and is not doing well; In view of the fact that the Commonwealth Department of Repatriation is providing the money for soldiers’ settlements, I urge the Government to keep a closer watch upon the quality of the land thrown open for returned soldiers.
Another matter in connexion with repatriation to which I should like to refer is the assistance given to totally disabled men. I have in mind the case of a returned man who has an injured spine, and whose handicap, because of his injury, is as great as that of a man who, unfortunately, may have returned totally blind. I need not give the name of the returned soldier, but the particulars of the case show that it is a very deserving one, and I know of others equally deserving of consideration. I think that these totally disabled men should be treated by the Repatriation Department in the same way as are the totally blind. The case to which I refer is a spinal case. The man is paralyzed, except for his shoulders and head, and there is no hope of his recovery. His total allowance is £2 9 s. per week, plus 8s. 9d. from the patriotic fund; and, in addition, a daughter has recently begun to earn £1 per week, making a total income from all sources of. £3 17s. 9d. Rent, railway, and life insurance reduce this to £2 16s. 9d., out of which the mother, two girls, aged seventeen and twelve, and a paralyzed baby of two-and-a-half years have to be supported. At present, the baby is in the Children’s Hospital, but is expected to be returned home soon. The mother states that they managed to live on this amount until prices went up, but that now it is quite impossible to do so. This man is at as great a disadvantage as is the poor fellow who unfortunately lost his sight in the war, and I ask the Government to consider whether men totally disabled, from whatever cause due to the war, may not be treated in the same way as are those who are totally blind.
With regard to the position of theological students who went to the war, I understand that the principle laid down by the Government is that, unless such students enlisted before they were twenty years of age, they are not eligible for the benefits of repatriation, and the Department will not provide them with the necessary funds to continue their education until they have been ordained to the ministry of the churches with which they are connected.- I have had brought before me the case of a returned soldier who is a theological student, and whose application for assistance for his college course was rejected on the ground that he did not enlist until after he was twenty years of age. In this case, the reason why the young man did not enlist before he was twenty years of age was ‘that, before he reached that age, he had not reached the height required for enlistment. He was then only 5 ft. 4 in. in height. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is aware that, when recruiting began to fall off, the standard of height was reduced, and this young man was then enabled to enlist, and did so. Because he did not enlist before the age specified by the Repatriation regulation, he is refused assistance by the Department to continue his theological studies. The State Board of Queensland expressed sympathy for this young man., but pointed out that they had emphatic instructions from Melbourne that -no college student who did not enlist before he was twenty years of age was eligible for the assistance asked for. This case was brought before the Repatriation Committee by the Rev. Canon Garland, a gentleman who has taken a very great interest in returned soldiers ‘in Queensland, and he was informed that no deviation from the regulation could be considered in this case. I think that such cases might receive more sympathetic consideration.” In the Governor-General’s Opening Speech there is a reference to the intention to make certain amendments in the Repatriation Act, and I hope that this matter will not be overlooked when the amendment of the measure is under consideration.
Another matter deserving attention is “ the fact that returned men making applications before the State Boards, feel that sometimes their requests are turned down, because, through illiteracy, or because they may be suffering from results of their war service, they are unable to state their own case as effectively as it might be stated. It is suggested that such men should be given permission to appoint some one to appear for them in support of their applications, and I commend that suggestion to the favorable consideration of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen).
I am very pleased to see thatat last the Commonwealth Government have taken some action to stimulate cotton growing in Queensland. An American Commission that recently visited the State has reported that there are parts of it that are admirably suited for cotton growing. Perhaps the most important statement in their report is that the old idea that cotton growing is a black labour industry is quite exploded. I believe that in America to-day the most satisfactory results have been obtained from cotton growing carried out entirely by white labour..
– It is the gathering, and not the growing of the cotton that is the trouble.
– The American Commission to which I refer state conclusively that the whole business from planting to harvesting is a white labour industry. In view of the world’s shortage of cotton, and the prices which, as the result of our being in the hands of unscrupulous English combines, we are called upon to pay for cotton, it is the duty of the Government to encourage its production in Australia in every possible way. The United States of America produces from 12,000,000 to 14,000,000 bales of cotton of 500 lbs. each every year. About 12,000,000 of people are engaged in producing and handling the crop. England imports cotton fibre to the value of from £70,000,000 to £100,000,000 every year in normal times, and, in addition, cotton seed and oil in huge quantities.
-From America or from Egypt?
SenatorFOLL. - I cannot say. I give the total importations of Great Britain from other countries to show that there “ is a tremendous market for cotton, and I hope that the Government, through the Bureau of Science and Industry, will give every assistance to the proposal to open up land suitable for the production of cotton in Queensland. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) has announced that the Government intend to fix the price of cotton, and there is no reason why the cotton industry should not be in a flourishing position in Australia in the near future.
It has been said that the GovernorGeneral’s Opening Speech is brief, and I am pleased that it is so. I take it to be an indication that the Government do not intend to launch out in a number of new directions, but rather to indulge in a few years of careful administration. It will be admitted that our finances need very careful nursing indeed. If the brevity of the Speech is an indication that the Government intend to. carefully conserve the finances of the country, as I believe they will, their return by an overwhelming majority at the recent election will be justified. This is not a time for extravagant expenditure in new directions. I believe that the people in recording a vote for sane, national, democratic government, as against revolutionary Socialism, will not have cause to regret the step which they took on the last polling day.
– In view of the fact that the electors of Tasmania, or at least a majority of those who recorded valid votes at the last election,were not satisfied with the policy which I and those associated with me put before them, I shall not undertake a criticism of the policy of the Government as set out in the Opening Speech. I think, however, that it is only right that I should place on record in the official pages of Hansard, which is the only publication likely to contain such information, a few facts concerning the peculiar working of the present Electoral Act in connexion with counting, recounting, and adjustment of preferential votes at the last election. As there may be some intention to do away with the inequalities and absurdities of the existing law, I propose to put in evidence, not my own opinion of the Act, but that of two journals published in Tasmania that are consistent supporters of the Ministry and their policy, and consistent opponents of myself and the party to which I belong. I shall make my first quotation of a brief extract from a leading article published in the Hobart Mercury, which Ministers are well aware is a strong opponent of my policy, and an equally strong supporter of theirs. On the 5th January, when the actual results of the polling in the Senate elections in Tasmanian were made known, the Hobart Mercury published the following statement in a leaderette: -
It is natural that supporters of Labour everywhere in the Commonwealth should be feeling very sore over the working of the system of voting, which in the present election has almost wiped them out, and in our own State has completely done so. Nor do we think the disgust is confined to members of the Labour party. Personally, we indorse the local designation of the result of the election for the Senate as “ The Senate scandal.”
The Labour party had been issuing articles in relation to the system of voting adopted, headed “ The Senate Scandal “ -
And probably many members of the Nationalist party take the same view. It would be an unpleasant task, of course, to have to answer the question of which Nationalist senatorselect we would leave out in order to make room for Labour representation; nevertheless, there is a very considerable anomaly in the fact that the man who actually received the highest number of No. 1 votes in the whole poll, and who, therefore, under the old system of polling, would have come out at the top of the poll as the ‘first of ten candidates, should fail to get a scat. Still more anomalous is the fact that when Labour candidates received the votes of 24,100 electors to the Nationalist 35,162, Labour should not secure a single representative, whilst Nationalism gets- four. This is a result neither just nor wholesome. No honest man can support it for a moment. As it is mathematically due to the system, under which a single strong man in a party carried in all the other candidates of his. side, no matter what the worth of the other side if the total vote is inferior, the sooner the system is chang’-d for one less unjust and more proportional, the better for the morale and the reputation of Australia.
That is the opinion of a newspaper supporting the principle of proportional as against preferential voting. In the same issue, in another leaderette, the following appears : -
The request made by Senator O’Keefe to the Chief Electoral Officer for Tasmania that he be permitted to make a personal scrutiny of the Senate ballot-papers which were rejected as invalid, is, on the face of it, not unreasonable.
Senator O’Keefe does not suggest that there has been either neglect, misunderstanding, or fraud on the part of any of the ‘ officials engaged in the count. If he had even hinted at such charges, the only possible course would be to recommend him to enter a petition in the regular way, which would bo- considered by the Court of Disputed Returns. But, if we rightly understand Senator O’Keefe, he desires to have this information, and to make it public, in order to show exactly what number of electors may be presumed to have desired to vote either for the Nationalist or the Labour candidate. The Chief Electoral Officer has, it appears, no power to comply with the request, which, however, he is sending on to the head office in Melbourne. If the supposition is correct, the deduction, may follow that the intelligence of Labour supporters is of a lower’ average than that of Nationalist supporters. But the Constitution, in giving this right to vote, does not take count of intelligence. Provided a person has reached the age of twenty-one, and complied with certain simple requirements, he has the right to be enrolled as an elector, and to vote for the election of members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. In our opinion, Senator O’Keefe would be acting with better discretion if, instead of trying to puzzle out from invalid papers how many people were unable to vote as they wished, he took up the larger question, irrespective of party, of endeavouring to reduce the probability of informality.
That is exactly what I did in the last hours of last session when the Electoral Bill was before the Senate. I moved a number of amendments designed to decrease instead of increase the number of invalid votes. The article continues -
A scrutiny of informal ballot-papers will not by any means reveal the number of persons who voted in some way different from their intentions, nor in the proportion of such belonging to each political party. The fact is that the Senate ballot-paper, with the necessity of marking preference for not less than nine candidates, was a severe trial to many people of high intelligence, and even to those who knew exactly what they wished to do. It is reasonably certain that a good many people made mistakes, without making their papers informal, and it is a fact that a considerable number solved the problem by marking their preferences straight down in the order in which the names appeared. We do not believe that these mistakes affected the result of the election ; but, had the numbers been’ closer, it might have had very serious effects. It is certainly desirable, and even necessary, to have a system of preferential voting, in order to meet the difficulty of candidates on the same side splitting the vote, and allowing a minority representation. But the system now in force appears to us to he far too rigid, and tends to take away from a certain number of people the right to vote which the Constitution allows. It will be admitted that there are obvious difficulties in the way of giving any considerable discretion to electoral officers, and that the Electoral Act and its regulations must be precise in their terms. But these might be so framed and worded as to provide that when an elector so marks a ballot-paper as to leave no possible doubt of his intention, that vote should be allowed. For example, at the last Senate election, if & paper was marked 1, 2, and 3 for Senators O’Keefe and Guy and Mr. Woods respectively, and went no further, that paper would be informal. And yet there could be no possible doubt that the elector desired that the three vacancies which will occur on 30th June next should he filled by those three candidates. The probability is that such an elector, desiring to bo represented by Labour candidates, did not care in the least which of the other candidates was elected if his own three failed. The same thing precisely might have happened with many Nationalists, who, having voted for their own chosen candidates, considered they had done enough. It is true that the method of voting was explained; but some people were still ignorant of it, and made mistakes, for which they paid by losing their votes. Considering that the party system exists, and is frankly recognised, it seems to us absurd to compel electors to mark preferences right through. The simpler the method, the more likely is an election to result in giving effect to the will of the electors, and when an elector has made it quite clear what arc his wishes, that vote should be counted as valid.
So much for the opinion of that newspaper, which is one of the strongest supporters in Australia of the Government, and one which is, naturally, opposed to the Labour party.
– By whom was it written ?
– The editor or leader writer of the Hobart Mercury, I presume.
– Is his opinion of more importance than that of the Parliament?
– What a ridiculous interjection. It seems that one is not allowed to quote the opinions of leading authorities in one’s own State. Surely I am justified in submitting opinions expressed in the leading articles of the papers published in the State I represent just as other honorable senators are in quoting leading articles from the newspapers in the States they represent. Senator Earle knows that the journal from which I have quoted is an important factor in influencing the minds of the electors, and it did so at the recent election. We cannot get away from the fact that newspapers very largely influence the electors on the eve of an election through the medium of their leading articles, and when an important journal such as the Hobart Mercury directs attention to what it considers to be a fault in our electoral system,surely I am justified in quoting it.
Perhaps the figures I am about to give will be of interest to Senator Guthrie, and will show that an amendment in the Electoral Act is necessary. I am speaking as a defeated candidate, and, to that extent, may be handicapped, but I am sure a majority of the people of Australia, irrespective of parties, came to the conclusion when the final results were announced thatthe Act was faulty, particularly as regards the method of counting and apportioning the votes. I honestly believe that the Act should be repealed and some more satisfactory measure drafted, to allow the electors to express their opinions more freely. We have to bow to a majority of the electors when they express their opinions in a valid way. I am sure Ministers will see the force of the figures I intend quoting from the World, a paper supporting the Labour party, but they are the same as those published in other papers. Senator Mulcahy was elected by 33,172 votes for a term of approximately six months, and Mr Payne, who secured 30,277 votes, has been elected for a period of six years, although Senator Mulcahy received the greater number.
– Is notthat matter sub judice ?
– It should not be referred to now.
– I do not think for one moment that any honorable senator can conscientiously argue in that direction. This is the place where the Act was framed, and where any criticism concerning it should be made. I do not think it matters whether the question is sub judice or not, as I am sure the Judge who hears the case before the Court of Disputed Returns will not take the slightest notice of any opinion expressed in this Senate. I have every right to express my opinions, and, through the medium of Hansard, to bring them clearly before the people of Australia. The fact stands there in all its nakedness that a man who received only 30,277 votes is elected for a term of six years, whereas one who received 33,172 votes is elected only until the 30th June next.
– The honorable senator must remember that there were four separate counts.
– Of course there were, and because the system compels four separate counts to be made it is imperative for me to make these remarks. Every single vote which was properly counted in favour of Senator Mulcahy should have been recorded in his favour on every other count. It stands to reason that, so far as preference went, those electors who recorded their votes to the extent of 33,172 for the six months’ seat would’ also have recorded their votes in his favour when the count was made for the other seat. » Senator Pearce. - The exclusions are not the same.
– That is the absurdity of the Act, and, no matter what mathematical system may be followed, it cannot be shown why a man receiving 33,172 votes should be defeated by a candidate receiving only 30,277 votes. No student of the electoral systems of the world, or any one else, would be prepared to say that such a system should stand. I believe that before the next election public opinion in this matter will be so strong that the Government will be compelled to amend the Act. According to the figures published in the World, the final count showed that Millen, who was declared elected, received 33,247 votes, and O’Keefe was the runner-up with 26,105 votes. For the second’ seat, Foster secured 33,173, and, O’Keefe was runner-up with 26,179. For the third seat, Payne received 30,277, and O’Keefe was the runner-up with 29,075. Here is an anomaly which will take some explanation. In one count O’Keefe is credited with 26,105 votes, and he is defeated. In the next count for the second seat O’Keefe receives 26,179 votes, and, although he has gained, he is again defeated. In the voting for the third seat, Payne receives 30,277 votes, and’ O’Keefe 29,075. It is a remarkable system of counting votes which allows O’Keefe to go up in the count for the third seat from 27,000 to 29,000, or only 1,200 votes behind Payne, while for the fourth seat Mulcahy is declared the winner with 33,000 votes, and O’Keefe drops back to 26,250. When the Bill was going through the Senate, every honorable senator thought that in the distribution, readjustment, or allotment of the preferences the same results would be obtained all the time, and that the same preferences would be counted for every candidate all the time, and every time, until that candidate obtained an absolute majority.
– They never thought the same ballot-papers would be counted all the time. How could they, when, in one case, an excluded candidate would be at the bottom of the list, and in the next case at the top?
– No candidate was actually excluded. He was only laid aside for the time being, and brought back into the count again. It is also a remarkable system which allows a man with 33,000 votes to be declared defeated by a man with 30,000 votes. The Launceston Examiner, also a consistent supporter of the Government, and a paper which was very pleased to see the Labour party wiped out, published the following remarks about the working of the Act and the necessity for its amendment: -
Nationalists recognise that the system is unfair, and that it reflects discredit on the Federal Parliament which enacted it. Possessing a majority of the votes, Nationalists were entitled to majority representation, but the minority were also entitled to their share. Mr. O’Keefe polled a little over 29,000 votes on the count whichresulted in Senator Payne’s election, yet this large body of electors, almost one-half of the whole, is totally unrepresented in the Federal Parliament. If the vote in the other States is equally solid on party lines, then Labour will not have a single representative in the Senate. A system which produces such a result is an insult to the intelligence of the community. It is absolutely indefensible, and although it was enacted by a Nationalist Government, we are by no means proud of the victory obtained by such questionable means. Both parties have had an opportunity of introducing a fairer system, hence both must share the odium which attaches to it, and the aim should be to wipe out a system which offends the public sense of fair play, and introduce proportional representation at the earliest moment.
The paper which supported the Labour party and the two chief newspaper supporters of the Government were, and are still, unanimous in condemning the peculiar system of counting the votes which had that remarkable effect. I could quote further articles from the Mercury to show that compelling the electors to vote for double the number of vacancies, plus one, made a large increase in the invalid votes absolutely certain. It is shown that not only poorly educated and totally uneducated people spoilt their ballot-papers because of that, but that a large number of educated and intelligent people also did so. I wish to put these things on record in Hansard, because I believe the time will come, between this and the next election, when a system of voting, and particularly of counting votes, will be devised that will allow people to express their views in such a way that their votes will not be invalid. Public opinion will force on that alteration if. the Government do not see fit to amend the Act themselves.
I shall take further steps to obtain access to the invalid votes. In view of the fact that about 10 per cent. of the whole of the electors of Australia who went to the ballot-box rendered their votes invalid, it is only fair that we should try to discover the reasons that made them spoil their ballot-papers. There has never yet been a Federal election, and certainly never a State election, in Tasmania where the proportion of invalid votes has been anything like so large. The large increase was entirely due to the system of voting which compelled electors to vote for double the numberof vacancies, plus one. I could quote figures for several State elections to show that where from 70,000 to 80,000 electors voted under the figure system, the informal votes were between 2,000 and 3,000; whereas on this occasion, when only about 60,000 persons went to the poll, over 6,000 spoilt their ballot-papers. Thus there were double the number of invalid votes, with 25 per cent. fewer people voting, as compared with the State elections in May last, when every ballot-paper in practically all the five divisions carried as many names as the Senate ballotpapers did. They had to be marked by figures; but the vital difference is that under the State law an elector is compelled to vote for only half the number of vacancies. When people vote for the number of candidates necessary to fill the vacancies, nine out of ten of them feel that they have done enough. If you compel them to go on and vote for double the number and one over, you necessarily increase the number of invalid votes. The Chief Electoral Officer for Australia, and the Chief Electoral Officer for my own State, tell me that the first and greatest cause of invalidity was that the electors were compelled to mark so many candidates. That system must be altered. If Parliament prefers preferential voting to proportional representation, very well. If it is the will of both Houses that the party which obtains only one more than half the number of votes cast shall secure the whole of the representation, well and good. If a majority is in favour of preferential voting, and wants to intensify the block system, it is not for me to complain; but I have every reason to demand that so large a number of electors shall not be compelled to render their votes invalid.
– Nobody compels anybody to commit an irregularity.
– If you tell them that they must vote for nine candidates, when only four are to be returned, that in itself doubles the number of invalid votes, and therefore compels the people, against their will, to render their votes invalid. There is no compulsory voting system, and the fact that the people go to the poll shows that they want to record their votes intelligently. So long as the Electoral Act gives a vote to every man and woman in Australia, whether they can read and write or not, we should have a system which will allow them to record their votes in a way that can be understood. If Parliament wants to take the franchise away from poorly educated people, there is a proper and straightforward course to adopt. That is by amending the Electoral Act to provide that only certain persons shall have votes for the Federal Parliament. But so long as the Act gives every free man and woman over twenty-one the vote, it is the duty of the Government and Parliament to make the method of voting as simple as possible, and not, as in December last, bring in a system which makes it doubly difficult to record an intelligent vote. I hope that before the next election the Government will see their way clear to bring down these necessary amendments of the Electoral Act.
Debate (on motion by Senator Senior) adjourned.
Bill presented, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
The following paper was presented: -
Senate adjourned at 3.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 March 1920, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1920/19200319_senate_8_91/>.