12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the urgency ofthe matter I should like the Leader of the Government in the Senate to indicate when the Government will be in a position to announce its promised policy in regard to the important and pressing problem of providing work for the unemployed?
– The Government has given and is still giving most serious consideration to the question of unemployment Whatever measures can he taken to alleviate the present position or minimize the effects of unemployment or prevent Australia from getting further into the state of chaos which undoubtedly recently obtained, will be taken by the Government at the earliest possible moment.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister had his attention drawn to a statement reported to have been made by the Minister for Justice in the Union of South Africa to the effect that a widespread plot had been instigated by the Third International of Moscow which was calculated to strike a serious blow at the industrial life of the Union on the 16th December next? If so, does the Minister consider that the pledges given by the Soviet to the British Labour Government to abstain from propaganda in the British Dominions is a sufficient guarantee thatsimilar methods will not be attempted in Australia if diplomatic relations between the Commonwealth and the Soviet republics are resumed in the manner indicated by the Prime Minister?
– The question is really one for the British Prime Minister to answer. The Commonwealth Government does not concern itself with what newspapers in any other part of the world may say. It has its own problems and these it will attempt to solve.
– The Prime Minister has promised-
– The honorable senator is not entitled to debate the matter on a question.
– Then I give notice that I shall ask a further question tomorrow.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Transport whether in view of the press reports stating that 30,000 of our breeding merino sheep have been purchased during the past few weeks for shipment to South Africa and Russia, the Government will state what action, if any, it intends to take, in the interests of the majority of the woolgrowers in Australia, to prevent the lowering of the standard of our flocks and the consequent injury to the staple industry of Australia ?
– As an announcement is to be made in another place today regarding this matter, I ask the honorable senator to repeat his question tomorrow.’
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs if at an early date he will lay on the table the report of the Development and Migration Commission on the proposal to pay a bounty on evaporated apples for export, on which report the recommendation of the Board of Trade was made?
– I understand that the report has riot yet been forwarded to the Government. When it is received it will be available for the inspection of every honorable senator as soon as possible. »
– I should like to know if the Government is prepared to proceed with the Life Insurance Bill introduced last session as a Government measure. If not, will it afford facilities to any honorable senator to proceed with it as a private measure?
– I must ask the honorable senator to give notice of the first part of his question. As to the second part of it, if the bill is not made a Government measure every facility will be afforded for its consideration, because it is generally recognized that there is need for the consolidation of the life assurance laws of Australia. I doubt, however, that Opportunity for considering the measure can be afforded during the present sittings. The business that will come forward from another place will most likely occupy the whole of our attention until the Christmas adjournment. [ can promise the honorable senator that if the Government does not bring in a life insurance bill every facility will be afforded to honorable senators opposite to bring one in when the Senate resumes its sittings after the new year.
The following papers were presented : -
War Service Homes Act - Report of the War Service Homes Commission,year ended 30th June, 1929.
Ordered to be printed.
Export Guarantee Act- Return showing Assistance granted - To 30th September. 1929.
National Debt Sinking Fund Act - Sixth Annual report of the National Debt Commission, year ended 30th June, 1929.
Messagefrom H.R.H. the Duke of York.
– I have to report the receipt of the following letter: -
I forwarded to His Royal Highness the Duke of York the copy of the Members’ Roll of the Senate at the time of the opening of the inauguration of Canberra, which your predecessor sent me for transmission to His Royal Highness.
I have now received a letter from the Duke, of which a copy is enclosed, expressing his thanks.
Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill,
President of the Senate.
The copy of the letter referred to is as follows : - 145 Piccadilly, W.1, 8th October, 1929.
Would you kindly convey to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives my grateful thanks for the copy of the Members’ Roll of the Senate and the House of Representatives, which I am delighted to possess as a most interesting souvenir of the inauguration of Canberra, a ceremony of whichI shall always retain the happiest memories.
I am, Yours very sincerely,
His Excellency the Governor-General,
I have suitably replied acknowledging the receipt of His Excellency’s letter.
– On the 22nd November, 1929, Senator Payne addressed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral the following question : -
As provision was made in the Estimates ot the late Government, on pages 384 and 380, for the terminals of the Victoria-Tasmania radio telephone link, will the Government proceed with this work as expeditiously as possible?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that the Government is particularly anxious that a telephone connexion should be provided between Tasmania and the mainland at the earliest possible moment, and will spare no effort to make this necessary facility available as soon as possible.
– On the 22nd November Senator J. B. Hayes asked the following question, upon notice -
Will the Government make representations to the Queensland Government in favour of processers having, say, 1,500 tons of sugar at export parity to enable the raspberry and currant crops in Tasmania to be made into jam instead of falling on the ground and wasting ?
I am now in a position to furnish the following reply: -
The sugar agreement made by the BrucePage Government with the Queensland Government has fixed the conditions and prices for the sale of Australian sugar until 31st August, 1931. It provides for the supply of sugar for processing fruit products for home consumption at £6 5s.1d. per ton less than the ordinary price. While the Government is sympathetic with any difficulties that the growers of raspberries and currants in Tasmania may be encountering for the time being, it does not feel justified in seeking a variation of the agreement.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways,upon notice -
Will the Minister exert the influence the Commonwealth Government must have through financing the north coast railway connecting Brisbane and Kyogle in seeing that, when that line is opened to traffic, a daily train (including Sundays) will be provided between Sydney and Brisbane?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
In terms of agreement between the Commonwealth and the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland, as the works are completed and ready to be opened for traffic, they are to be handed over to the States, and the matter of the train service will be one for consideration by the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales and Queensland, who will no doubt arrange a daily service if the circumstances warrant same.
Authority to Wear Kilt
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The question as to whether the wearing of the kilt can be authorized will be considered in connexion with the scheme of voluntary enlistment which is in process of development.
Report on Flax Industry.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The report will be made available as soon as the Government has decided on the action to be taken.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister obtain a report from the Council of Defence -
Comparing the nucleus of the Aus tralian Army under the recently abolished compulsory system with the proposed new system?
Stating what would be the period required under the new system before the army would be fit to take the field?
Intimating whether the present system will provide an adequate defence of Australia?
– This is a matter of Government policy and it is not proposed to take the action suggested.
Preference to Returned Soldiers
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– This involves a question of Government policy, in regard to which it is not the practice to make statements in reply to questions.
John Brown Prosecution
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Kerbing and Guttering Charges
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
Australia with regard to the kerbing and guttering charges made by the Commission?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Is it the intention of the Government to hold camps of continuous training this financial year; and if so, what units will attend such camps?
– The Government has decided for financial reasons that no further camps of continuous training will be held during the current financial year. Voluntary activities including schools, courses and competitions, are to continue.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation -
Will the Minister favorably consider granting to returned soldiers who have to travel by train to hospital for attention, owing to wounds or disabilities caused by war service, first class rail tickets in lieu of second class, in order to ensure reasonable comfort when travelling for this purpose?
– The Minister has called for a report on this matter and a reply will be furnished when his decision on the report has been made.
Motion (by Senator Daly) agreed to -
That on all sitting days of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the noticepaper, except questions and formal motions, and except that private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday, after 8 p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, private orders of the day take precedence of private notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Debate resumed from 22nd November (vide page 182), on motion by Senator dooley -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
ToHisExcellency the Governor-General -
May it please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
. It is a somewhat unique experience for me to speak on the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech other than as a Government supporter. Conse quently,I listened very carefully to the remarks of both the mover ‘and the seconder of the motion, and made notes of statements which I considered were not in accordance with fact. My purpose in so doing was to acquaint the public of Australia with the real reasons for the change of government.
Later I shall deal with one or two items in the Speech itself; but at this stage I feel justified in referring to the speech of the mover of the motion - an excellent speech in many respects, but spoiled by incorrect statements regarding the causes of the defeat of the BrucePage Government. The honorable senator ought to have refrained from making statements which could not. be corroborated. The first of his statements to which I take exception is that the Labour party had always been vilified by the previous Government. I do not know what object the honorable senator had in making that statement, but during the period that I have been connected with this Parliament I have heard no vilification of the Labour party by the late Government or its supporters. It is true that we have endeavoured to let the people of Australia know the truth about the Labour party; but so long as we told the truth there was, and, indeed, could not be, any vilification. If there was any vilification, it came from the members of the Labour party itself, and not from the party with which I am associated.
The mover of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply said that the defeat of the Bruce-Page Government was the result of the awakening of the people. He described it as a great triumph for democracy. If democracy has to rely upon a campaign like that which preceded the last election, then God help democracy!
– What was wrong with it?
– To the extent that Labour party candidates departed from statements of fact, everything was wrong with it.
– The result of the campaign is giving the honorable senator more concern than did the campaign itself.
– I have not been affected, except that I am in a better position than before the election, for the change of government has provided me with an ‘ opportunity to say a number of things which previously I refrained from saying. It has always been my policy to treat a weak opponent with mercy. Indeed, that has been the attitude generally of members of the present Opposition. In this chamber they greatly outnumber r lie members of the Labour party, and for many years, while that has been the state of parties here, they have dealt mercifully with the minority.
– We want justice, not mercy.
– The mover of the motion said that the late Government was responsible for the distress in Australia to-day.
– That is quite true.
– The intelligent section of the community knows otherwise. The condition in which we find ourselves to-day has been brought about largely by organizations not. connected with the party to which 1 belong. If honorable senators will cast their minds back a year or two, they will remember that the unemployed problem in Australia was greatly accentuated by industrial troubles on the waterfront. After certain steps had been taken, peace was restored on the waterfront, for the first time in seven years. Then, less than twelve months ago, there was an upheaval in the timber industry. That strike wa3 the cruellest which Australia has experienced for many years. Those who were responsible for it, knew that the industry could not be carried on in Australia unless the Australian product could be sold at. a price that would meet, Australian conditions. The only alteration in the conditions which the court imposed was a provision for 48 hours a week. When that, award was made, men whose own positions were secure, urged the unfortunate timber workers to disobey it; they told them that it was better to be half -starved than work 4S hours a week. Unfortunately, the effects of that strike were not confined to the timber workers. As the result of inquiries both in Melbourne and Sydney, 1 have found that the timber workers’ strike resulted in the dislocation of a number of other industries, with a consequent reduction of employment therein. In some industries, the dislocation was so great that, although to-day there is comparative peace in the timber industry, those industries have not yer recovered the ground lost during the strike. Nor will they do so for some time. As a result there have been added to the list of unemployed, thousands of men. who were not in any way directly concerned with the timber workers’ strike. If one interviews the heads of any of the big furniture manufacturing establishments in any of the capital cities, one will be told that, because of the timber workers’ strike, trade is now so stagnant that they are carrying on with staffs that have been reduced by 50 to 70 per cent. The spending power of the people has been so seriously impaired by these industrial disturbances, that necessarily a long time must elapse before it will be possible to bring the output in the furniture trade up to what it was prior to the strike. The mover of the motion (Senator Dooley) declared that the Bruce-Page Government was to blame for the trouble in the timber industry. ‘ Those primarily responsible were the leaders of industrial organizations, because they incited trade unionists to starve rather than abandon the principle of a 44-hour week in the industry. They entirely ignored the fact that all sections of the timber industry were not in enjoyment of a 4.4-hour week. All the bush mills were working 4S hours, and actually the 44-hour principle applied only to city mills.
– Now tell us about the rotten award which was the cause of the trouble.
– I strongly deprecate such a term being applied to an award of the Arbitration Court.
– But it was a rotten award.
– Senator Dooley now endorses the view of Senator Hoare. Evidently every award that does not meet with their approval must be described as “ rotten.” And yet they profess to believe in the principle of arbitration ! Are not they aware that arbitration .as a principle rests upon the acceptance of awards of the court by both sides to a dispute? I hold that if arbitration is to be successful, an award, whatever may be its nature. must be obeyed loyally by all concerned. If an award is not. acceptable to one or other of the parties, the act provides constitutional means for an alteration or amendment of it. If we are to be regarded as a law-abiding people, and earn the respect of other countries, we must be prepared loyally to abide by all the decisions of our properly constituted cri ibunals
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– I am glad to have that admission from the honorable senator. [ turu now to one or two incidents that came under my notice during the last election compaign. And I take this opportunity to say that they reflected no credit upon supporters of Labour candidates in the election for another place. Iti my somewhat lengthy career as a public man, I have taken part in many election campaigns, and I say without hesitation that I have never- known such widely organized misrepresentation to gain votes as I noticed during the recent election contest. I can speak only for Tasmania, but I have, no doubt other honorable senators will have something to say as to what happened in their States.
– I think the majority of them were out on fishing expeditions during the election.
– At all events, I took an active part in the contest in my State, and I kept my eyes and ears open. I was actively engaged in it, because I believed the Nationalist cause to he the right one, and I would rather go down righting for the right than win in fighting for the wrong cause.
– One of the noble army of martyrs!
– Nationalist candidates who lost their seats need not be regarded as martyrs. They stood for a cause that is certain to be returned to power in the near future. But I set out to tell of a number of election incidents that came under my notice. In Hobart I found that many of those who were helping the sacred cause of Labour were visiting shop after shop, and informing sales girls and other employees that, if the Bruce-Page Government were returned, their wages would be reduced.
– That was true.
– That was the most dastardly lie that was ever told to win au election. Those who propagated the lie were fully aware that the Bruce-Page Government had no control whatever over the wages of shop girls in Tasmania, or any other State. Unfortunately, the average girl is not fully informed about these matters, and the girls in Hobart, at all events, did not know that their wages are determined by a State tribunal. But Labour supporters descended to still lower depths of degradation. They paid particular attention to a number of old-age and invalid pensioners, and . spread the lie that if the Bruce-Page Government were successful, invalid and old-age pensions would be reduced.
– There was grave danger of that, being done.
– The honorable senator knows that statement is not correct. He knows that the old-age and invalid pensioners were materially helped by the Bruce-Page Government, which some years ago increased their payments to £1 a week. Senator Rae can search the records, and he will fail to find, in any of the speeches delivered by Nationalist Ministers or supporters, either in Parliament or on the public platform, reference to a proposal to reduce payments to old-age and invalid pensioners.
– It would be quite easy to find such references.
– The honorable senator must know that no statement of that kind has ever been made by any member of the Bruce-Page Ministry.
– What about the maternity grant? The Bruce-Page Government proposed to interfere with that.
– The honorable senator knows that the Bruce-Page Government did not propose to reduce that form of assistance to any deserving case. His sneering reference to the proposal clearly suggests that he is prepared in make an unfortunate man, who may haw been out of work for a long time)- and who perhaps has a wife a in! half n dozen children to support, put his hand into his pocket and contribute towards the purchase of a gold bangle or silver cup for die child of wealthy parents. The late Government did not propose to deprive any deserving case of a maternity allowance. I have before me the report of the policy speech delivered by the present Prime Minister in the Richmond Town Hall on the 19th September, 1929, in which I naturally expected to find a definite and clear pronouncement regarding the policy of his party on matters of vital importance to Australia. I did not expect to read anything actually misleading to the people.
– The honorable senator was very optimistic.
– Perhaps I expected too much. In addition to more than the average number of ambiguities and platitudes, there were several instances of absolute piracy. As the report before me was despatched by mail for publication in the Tasmanian papers the day after its delivery, I presume it can be regarded as accurate. At the conclusion of his speech the present Prime Minister said that if his party were returned to power effect would be given to the policy which he enunciated eleven months ago. In the summary of the Labour party’s proposals reference is made to the establishment of a radio telephone service between the mainland and Tasmania. I have always advocated the establishment of such a service; but I am strongly opposed- to the Prime Minister referring to the matter in the way he did, the suggestion being that his party was the first to propose it. He was fully aware that the Bruce-Page Government had already given consideration to the installation of such a service between the mainland and Tasmania, and had provided a certain sum on the Estimates to cover preliminary costs. In effect, he said that if a Labour government were returned to power a radio telephone service would be installed. That, went down very well in Tasmania, because after a definite pronouncement has been made by a party leader it is difficult for the candidates belonging to other parties to put the true facts before the electors. When the new Ministry was formed the Postmaster-
General (Mr. Lyons) announced, on 25th October, that the new Government would continue the arrangements already made for the establishment of a radio telephone service between the mainland aud Tasmania. He further said that a sum of £100,000 had been placed on the Estimates for this work by Dr. Earle Page, and that the present Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) would make provision for a similar amount on his Estimates. In the same speech the present Prime Minister also said that if his party were returned to power telephonic communication between Perth and the eastern States would be established, but he did not tell the electors that a good deal of work in that connexion had already been done by his predecessors. As a member of the Public Works Committee I visited Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth in May of last year, where evidence was taken on the question of linking up Western Australia with the eastern States by telephone. Later the evidence was considered by that committee, a report was drafted and adopted, and was tabled in the House of Representatives before the dissolution occurred.
– Is it a crime to promise to go on with a work already commenced ?
– No; but if the present Leader of the Government in another place had been honest in the matter he would have announced that the initial steps in connexion with these two undertaking had been undertaken by the Bruce-Page Government, and that if his party were returned to power the work would be continued. Many people were grossly misled and electors, particularly in the States directly concerned, were under the impression that the Labour party was initiating these proposals. I mention these two distinct acts of piracy to show the manner in which the Nationalist party was misrepresented by its political opponents. The people were also told to beware of the powerful commercial and financial forces behind the Government, which were seeking to dictate the policy of this nation and who were at the moment endeavouring to turn back the clock thirty years in an endeavour to repeat the evils of the “nineties.” What were the evils of the “nineties” against a repetition of which Mr. Scullin warned the electors ? According to that gentleman they were these -
Many of the young and happy folk who live to-day have no conception of the conditions of the past - and it is not a very distant past either. What do they know of the weary women who toiled in sweating dens eighty hours a week for a pittance of 12s. 6d.? What do they know of the drivers who were employed from 60 to 90 hours a week for a bare existence? Or the shearers who were paid a penny a head for shearing sheep?
He went on to warn the people of the power of the commercial and financial forces which he alleged were behind the Government of the day and it is amazing ro think that many of his statements were accepted by an intelligent democracy. It was exceedingly difficult to follow up and combat utterances of that nature which were made not only by Mr. Scullin, as Leader of the Opposition, but by many of his supporters. Statements such as those I have quoted were largely responsible for the reverse which the Nationalists suffered.
– Why keep on squealing ; take your medicine.
– I am not squealing [ am satisfied that the medicine which the electors will eventually have to take will be so unpalatable that they will soon be seeking another physician.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to assist in giving them an opportunity ?
– Yes, at any time.
I want now to refer to a matter which E am very loth to touch upon, but about which someone must say something. It was another of the factors that had a wonderful influence on the recent election. The great majority of the public servants of Australia absolutely forgot that they held the title of public servants, and through their organizers and other officers came so much into the open that they publicly advertised in the newspapers of Australia, or at all events in one of them, which has a very big circulation, urging the people to vote Labour.
– Was that the Labour Daily ?
– No. It happened to be the Hobart Mercury, which, thank God, has no association with the Labour
Daily. I want to speak on this matter’ dispassionately. I want the people of Australia to be proud of the public service of Australia. I want those who provide the wherewithal to maintain it to feel that it is a service in which they can have every confidence, and is one that will not descend to party politics. The first object of the public servant should be to serve his country. A public servant is literally one who serves his country. In the recent election, however, officials of public service organizations not only advertised in the public press, but also issued thousands of circulars, urging the people to vote for Labour. I shall read a paragraph from one circular, issued over the name of the secretary to the Tasmanian branch of the Postal Workers Union. It is as follows: -
Allowance Postmasters. Any reduction in salaries applied to public servants would almost certainly mean a comparative reduction in your present niggardly allowance. So, beware. Do not be misled, Labour will give you fair play. Try them by voting No. 1 fo, Labour on Saturday, 1.2th October.
They were not bold enough to say straight out that it was the intention of the then government, if returned to power, to reduce salaries, but the suggestion they made was that, if there should be any reduction, the allowance postmasters must bear a comparative reduction in their present niggardly allowance. It was a cruel and reckless suggestion to make, and had no foundation in truth. There had never been any suggestion emanating from the late Government, or its supporters, that there should be any reduction in the salaries of public servants, or any diminution of their status. But, as a matter of fact, the payment to allowance postmasters is purely a departmental affair, and is based entirely on the amount of business done in any particular allowance post office. If an allowance postmistress finds on her returns that she has increased” her postal business, she gets an addition to her allowance. On the other hand, if there has been a decrease in the business she has done, her allowance is decreased. That is the contract entered into between the department and the allowance officer. It is made, not with the Prime Minister, nor with the Government, nor with the
Parliament, but with the Postal Department, and this public service organization well knew it. Yet this suggestion was good enough, from a party political point of view, to broadcast throughout Tasmania among the allowance officersanu other people connected with the public service.
We have in Australia a population of 0,200,000, and we have an extensive public “service. We have tried to make it a useful body. It is also expensive, but to get good business we must be prepared to pay well. I may remind the Senate that Australia has entered upon a period of adversity. How long it will continue, no one knows. I have no wish to be a dismal prophet, but I am afraid that under the present administration it will be much more prolonged than it would have been under the previous administration, lt is now indicated that extra taxation is to be imposed upon the people. I speak with a desire to help. I say that it is the duty of the public servants to recognize that the people outside, who have to find the wherewithal, should receive proper consideration. No matter how we may try to allay the feeling outside that they are overburdened by having an expensive public service to maintain, that feeling is a growing one, and if the period of adversity is prolonged and the burden of taxation becomes too great upon them, the people will rise up and cry for economy; and, as is always the case, the first effort at economy will be an attempt to reduce the cost of the public service. For my part, I want the public servant to maintain the esteem and respect of the community; but he cannot hold that when he descends to party politics. I, therefore, regret very much the attitude taken up by a majority of the public servants during the last election campaign. I have been in public life for many years, and I have become acquainted with thousands of public servants, who are always prepared to do their very best for their country; but I am afraid that, in their organizations as in other organizations, those who put self first predominate. The watchword of the public service should be “ Our country first and all the time.”
There are- one or two items of con,siderable importance in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Senator O’Halloran, in seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, said that the present Government had made it perfectly clear during the election that compulsory military training would be abolished. All that Mr. Scullin said, in his policy speech, in reference to the subject, was -
We are prepared to assume full responsibility for the adequate defence of Australia.
Does that suggest the abolition of compulsory military training?
– There is something more than that in the speech. Did not Mr. Scullin state that he would put into effect Labour’s platform?
– All I know is that in the speech delivered by Mr. Scullin I cannot find the words “ compulsory military training.” I look upon this innovation with a good deal of dread. I am not militaristic; but I should be unworthy of being called an Australian, or, indeed, a Britisher, if I neglected to do my part in seeing that Australia is in a position to defend itself. I, therefore, ‘ strongly object to any step which weakens an already weakened defence system. It is not safe at this juncture to do so. It would not be worthy of Australia to weaken its defence scheme in view of the debt it owes to the Mother Country, upon whom an additional burden would thus be placed. I regret very much that the Government has seen fit to take this step without conferring with those who were in a position to advise it, and who, I think every one will admit, were in the best position to give advice. The Government took steps to abolish compulsory military training, and then went to its ‘ advisers and asked them to help it to find a substitute.
– The Government would not expect its advisers to deal with matters of policy.
– My honorable friend evidently means that, no matter how much of an ignoramus a man may be who is given a portfolio he must not consult with any one in regard to a change of policy, because he can be assumed to know all about it himself.
– The Minister for Defence did not want to take the step. He said that there was no hurry; but evidently his hand was forced in the matter.
– The Minister for Defence said nothing of the sort.
– He did.
– Mr. McGrath forced his hand.
– Order !
– According to the Governor-General’s Speech, Ministers look forward to the Imperial and Economic Conferences to be held next year, with a sincere hope that they will be able to co-operate with His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain to the lasting benefit of the Commonwealth of Australia and the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. We shall have another opportunity to deal with this matter; but I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Daly) how he can expect his Government to look forward with a sincere hope of cooperating with the British Government in matters that will ensure the lasting benefit of Australia, and also the Old Country, when it is the absolutely determined attitude of his Government to do no trade with the Mother Country in the direction of buying goods from her. We, in Australia, are separated from Great Britain by thousands of leagues of sea. We have a wonderful heritage capable of producing twenty times more than it now does could we but find a market. We are absolutely dependent upon outside sources for the disposal of our surplus products. Yet the indication given in the Governor-General’s Speech is that our tariff wall is to be raised even higher against other countries. In effect, we say to the British manufacturer, “ We want you to give us the best price for our wool “, and to the British people we appeal, “ We desire you to buy more Australian products than you have done previously, because we are your kith and kin.” But it must not be forgotten that they are also our kith and kin. We tell the people of Great Britain further, “ Having bought our raw material, if you dare to manufacture it into goods such as we use in Australia our tariff wall will be raised so high that you will be unable to climb over it.” But we shall still term it tariff preference. Last year I had the privilege of visiting the Old Country, and I spent a great proportion of my time doing what I could to help Australian industries. I did not confine my attention to the cities, but visited the provincial centres and boosted Australian products on every possible occasion. I remember being entertained in England by a certain organization, and in my address to the gathering I stressed not only the desirability but the fairness of British consumers using more Australian goods. The gentleman who re1sponded to my speech stated that he appreciated my earnest, desire to advance Australian trade, but that he wished to inform me that for many years local manufacturers had dealt very extensively with Australia in a commodity upon which a fair duty had been imposed. That duty was then increased so exorbitantly that in one year the Australian business of those manufacturers had fallen off by 80 per cent., due to the introduction of a tariff which they were unable to surmount. He added that, despite this, we still claimed to be giving effect to the principle of British preference, and that it was difficult to listen sympathetically to my plea in the circumstances. I believe that there is only one policy which is any good to Australia to-day, and that is one of work.
– There are about 200,000 unemployed in Australia to-day. Will the honorable senator find work foi them!
– Senator Hoare knows why the majority of those people are unemployed. One reason for our present difficulty is that the cost of production has been forced up until there is very little demand for our products at the prices demanded. That could be remedied by individual employees giving a bigger output.
– There are hundreds of thousands of unemployed in Great Britain where the cost of production has been forced down.
– If Senator Rae can explain to me how a man with a wife and family, receiving £5 a week, can afford to buy as much now that the cost of production has increased by 100 to 125 per cent. as he could when he was receiving £4 a week, the problem is solved. But it cannot be done, and the worker is compelled to buy less. That is due principally to the organized restriction of output. Senator Rae comes from a city where that practice has reached startling dimensions. The honorable senator knows that if a worker is honest and industrious enough to give his employer a reasonable day’s work for his pay, he is soon disciplined, and fined heavily for his temerity. Recently I quoted such a case that came under my notice only a few months ago, and I have since heard of a number of other instances. I know of a man working in one of the suburbs of Sydney, who did a job effectively in a certain time. Within a week he was paraded before his union and fined £10 for cutting down the time in which the union considered the job should be done. That man has no redress, as he has to remain a member of the organization to receive work.
– I am compelled to laugh at the honorable senator for swallowing such a tale.
– I have quoted facts, which may be verified by Senator Rae if he refers to the journal of the New South Wales Furnishing Trade which is published by the Trades Hall, Sydney. A perusal of the files of that journal will disclose that many such cases have occurred during the last twelve months.
In conclusion, I may say that I shall follow the lead given by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce) in the early stages of this debate. I shall not offer capricious opposition to any legislation, simple because it was introduced by a party in which I do not believe. The administration of that party will have my support in all matters which have my approval. I do not believe that there is a Nationalist or a Country party senator who desires to retain his seat, simply for the purpose of opposing the government in power. I am confident that, like myself, they will do all they can to advance the interests of Australia. I sincerely hope that when the details of the measures forecast in the Governor-General’s Speech are dis closed, the programme will not be as bad as we anticipated. If it is, I shall be bound to fight it. I hope that the Government will realize the wisdom of at all times keeping before it the real needs of Australia, and that it will avoid sectional legislation. We are Australians and we cannot injure one section of the community without injuring all.
– As one sitting in opposition to the Government of the day, and almost wholly unfamilar with Parliamentary etiquette and procedure, may I say how glad I was to hear the right honorable Leader of the Opposition state on Thursday last that it was his intention not unnecessarily to harass the Government, but to help by constructive suggestions any endeavours it made to introduce legislation according to the mandate received by it from the country. I read into that declaration an indication that the right honorable gentleman did not intend to adopt a narrow attitude towards the administration of the Government. On the other hand, I was very sorry to hear an honorable senator on this side attempt to belittle, if not to ridicule, that great office, the VicePresidency of the Executive Council, and the senator occupying it, as well as his colleague, Senator Barnes, by referring to them as “ half-baked “ Ministers. I hope that, however much we appreciate the need to increase the existing Ministerial representation in the Senate, none of us will again descend to such tactics. If we consider the subject and put ourselves for a moment in the position of the Leader of the Government in this chamber, we shall realize that it is one of the most difficult in Parliament to-day. It falls upon the honorable senator to pilot through this chamber all the measures that come from another place. He has very slender numerical support in the Senate, and is faced with a party overwhelmingly strong in numbers, one that includes three ex-State premiers, ten or twelve ex-cabinet Ministers, and one or two of the most able political tacticians in the Commonwealth. We should deal with honorable senators opposite as men. We shall not refrain from criticizing the measures which the Government introduces. On the contrary, we shall criticize them severely and oppose them strenuously, if we feel they are not in the best interest of the community.
In that attitude of constructive criticism, I should like to draw the attention of the Government to the importance of maintaining the national credit. All who have had any experience of affairs beyond the borders of Australia know that credit is one of the most important elements in national or individual progress and prosperity. I am inclined to think that this Government has not yet recognized that fact. I feel that that is a lesson yet to be brought home to it, and I believe that the lesson will be learned. Credit is a pedestal very delicate in structure if weakened, but very powerful if maintained. Anything that interferes with the foundation of the pedestal will affect us individually and collectively, most seriously.
I find in the Governor-General’s Speech a total disregard of the future. This Government had no sooner taken office than it rushed in and interfered with the existing migration system. It cabled to Great Britain asking for a modification of the migration agreement, and made announcements that have been broadcast throughout the civilized world, indicating that Australia, a country as large as the United States of America, does not hold potentialities for more than the paltry 6,500,000 people who now inhabit it.
– That is not quite accurate.
– It may not be the impression which the Government desired to convey, but that is what has been conveyed.
– The Government overlooks the fact that human .nature will put the worst possible complexion on any set of circumstances presented to it. This Government has conveyed to the outside world the impression - an impression that , will take many years to- eradicate - that we are unable to maintain a growing population. The effect. is a direct shaking of chat pedestal of credit. Financiers on the other side of the world, as well as industrialists’ and others, who were looking to Australia to provide fresh opportunities for themselves and their families. will now say, “ No ; Australia is not the place for us. Let us look for other fields of investment and industry, other homes for ourselves and our families.” The Government has seriously retarded the development of this country, for no matter what argument is now brought forward, an indelible impression has been made on the minds of people overseas that Australia is unable to absorb even three or four thousand migrants per annum.
–Does the honorable senator say that that is the impression which has been created in the minds of the leaders in Britain?
-That is the impression which has been Created in the minds of those controlling the press of the Old Country ; their views are a reflection of the thought of the people generally. Apparently, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Daly) has not been abroad lately, otherwise he would appreciate that the leaders of thought and activity in the Homeland are particularly sensitive at present regarding Australia. The present Government has Confirmed in their minds the impression that Australia is a desert country, a land of droughts and industrial upheavals, . a place where investments are insecure.
– it is true that Australia’s credit was impaired until this Government restored it.
– If the Leader of the Senate were to seek the honest opinion of the people of the- Old Country, he would find that the public announcements that have been, made during the last few weeks have shaken Australia’s credit.
– That is not reflected on the Stock Exchange.
– According to the Quarterly Summary of Australian Statistics, No. 117, issued last Saturday, instead of there being an increase of population by migration during the second quarter of this year, there was a decrease of 2,273 persons. The natural increase during the period was 18,722; but the net increase in population was only 16,449. That, indeed, is one of the most, striking features of .the Summary. It provides food for thought, for the facts contained *in that publication are known to the authorities abroad,
It was not the province of the Commonwealth Government to take up the matter of migration with the British Government. Ignorant as 1 am of political matters, I know well that migration is the responsibility of the States. Upon them devolves the settlement of migrants. They requisition the Home authorities, through the Commonwealth, so that the Commonwealth is really only the medium through which correspondence between the States and the British Government passes. It is a pity that the Common wealth Government rushed in and ignored the States in this important matter.
– Is the honorable senator aware that the agreement is between the British and Commonwealth Governments ?
– I am aware that, for the purposes of management, it was decided by the Home authorities that, rather than deal with seven distinct and, perhaps, conflicting governments, 12,000 miles away, they should to make an agreement with the States, through the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, the States are definitely the authorities controlling migration. I hold that it was the duty of the Commonwealth to consult the States before expressing any opinion whatever on this subject. How can “Western Australia, for instance, with all its unpeopled areas and its great natural resources, develop if the source of supply is denied to its people?
I was interested in an exchange of interjections between the Leader of the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition, during the speech of the latter on Thursday last.
– Such exchanges were quite disorderly.
– I had hoped that the present Government would not follow the example of the government which preceded it, and refuse to hold an inquiry into the lot of those oversea settlers who were dumped down in a section of the new mallee of Victoria. By taking that matter up, the Government would render a great service to Australia, and tend to restore confidence overseas.
– That ‘is what the Government proposes to do; it will restore confidence.
– I wish to emphasize the unwisdom of interfering with Australia’s credit. Soon after the formation of the new Ministry, the Prime Minister, with a view to advertising Australia and giving the people of other countries an opportunity of knowing him and his Ministers, and their views, consented to the making of a. “ talkie “ film. The speech of the Prime Minister of this young and progressive country, supposed to be well endowed with great natural resources, informed the world that Australia contained many thousands of unemployed. If that was not another dagger thrust at the credit of this young country, I do not know what it was. The Government would be well advised to do its utmost to prevent that film from being exhibited outside Australia.
The seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply referred to the Government’s desire to assist in the development of our primary industries. Basing an opinion on the little experience I have gained in world affairs, 1 cannot help feeling that the Government, instead of easing the burden of the primary producer, is doing its utmost to destroy those very industries which it professes to be desirous of assisting. It has evolved a set of economic laws, the result of which must inevitably be the destruction of those industries. Mention has been made of the establishment of a wheat pool. Should the Government venture into fields of activity of that kind, I hope that it will not act without expert advice. I have here a leaflet which, I understand, was distributed throughout the electoral division of Calare. Over the signature of G. A. Gibbons, now the honorable member for that district in another place, appears the following: -
Our industry is in a bad condition. The wheat crop will be very limited, while wool values are extremely low. Credit must be developed to permit every man on the land to continue working his farm to the greatest possible advantage. The means of recovery rests in increasing the area under cultivation on every farm.
I emphasize that statement. The leaflet, continues -
With that end in view, as Labour candidate for Calare, I stand for: -
An immediate guarantee of 6s. 6d. for the 1930-31 wheat crop.
There is no necessity for me to inform honorable senators of the price of wheat to-day. How ridiculous it is for any individual, let alone a candidate for Parliament, to make such statements!
– He won the election on that pamphlet.
– The leaflet continues -
If the honorable member’s ideals could be realized, I should be happy to place myself under his tuition for a period of six months. I repeat the hope that the Government will not be led astray by views such as I have quoted; but that it will, before proceeding with any such scheme, obtain the best expert advice available. Australia will never reap fruits worthy of its maturing nationhood, or attain a rate of progress in keeping with its immense opportunities, until a national responsibility has been assumed by all sections of the community. Having read the Governor-General’s Speech’ I am inclined to think that those words are particularly applicable to the present. Government.
– In rising to speak to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, I desire to refer to some remarks made a few days ago by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Daly). I sympathized with the honorable senator when he appealed to the Senate . to give the Government credit for sincerity. I also noticed in the press report of the proceedings in another place that the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) appealed to the Opposition there not to make it harder for the Government to effect a settlement of the troubles confronting Australia, particularly those associated with the coal-mining industry in New South Wales. Nevertheless, I felt inclined to ask the Leader of the Senate whether the party which he leads gave the late Government credit for sincerity when it was doing exactly the same thing that the present Government has attempted to do to settle that trouble.
– No; because we knew that the late Government instigated the trouble.
– I thank the honorable member for his interjection. Although in clear and definite terms the late Government stated that it did not possess the constitutional powers necessary to grapple with the situation effectively, not one member of the present Government gave it credit for sincerity. Indeed, that Government was accused of not telling the truth. When the BrucePage Government made proposals for the settlement of the dispute, certain members of the present Ministry went into the country to persuade those most directly concerned not to take any heed of the Government’s efforts. I wish Senator Daly to remember how the work of the previous Government was hindered in this way. I have no desire to make the task of this Government any more difficult than it is. All I desire is to impress upon the Leader of the Senate that the Ministry, of which he is a member, is in much the same position as the Bruce-Page Government, when it endeavoured to bring about a solution of the coal-mining dispute in New South Wales. For this reason I have a good deal of sympathy for the Leader of the Senate in his appeal for assistance. It seems to me that he realizes, probably for the first time the magnitude of the task confronting the Government, and how much more difficult was the task of the previous Government, because of the gross misrepresentation of motives. The issue appears to me to be a simple one - similar to that of two persons engaged in a business. On the one hand we have the coal-mine owner, and on the other the employee. I am not suggesting that the dispute in the. industry is the fault entirely of either the mine-owners or the employees. Probably there are faults on both sides. But it is a fact that, through their joint action some years ago, they raised the price of coal to such a high level that it has become an unmarketable product abroad, and now there is a deadlock. I remind Senator O’Halloran, who is an ardent supporter of the present Ministry, that the Government of the State, which he assists to represent in this chamber, found recently that it could save an enormous sum of money by importing coal from Great Britain, despite the fact that British coal had to be transported over 12,000 miles as against less than 2,000 miles from Newcastle.
– How many British coal cargoes have been reported on fire?
– The honorable senator appears to know a good deal about what happened to British coal cargoes. Perhaps he is in a position to explain why those mishaps occurred.
– I think the inferior quality of the coal was the cause.
– At all events the South Australian Government saved an enormous sum of money by importing British coal.
– It is costing the State 12s. a ton more than it would have had to pay for Newcastle coal.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. But let me return to the position in New South Wales. It has been suggested that if the miners would agree to a reduction of ls. a ton in wages, the owners would cut ls. a ton off their profits, and that the general public should contribute 2s. to enable the industry to carry on. It would be just as logical for me to ask honorable senators to contribute 2s. a ton for all trade that passed through my hands in the course of my business.” That, in a nut shell, sums up the coal-mining position in New South Wales. We have a fairly considerable coal deposit in Western Australia. It may not be regarded as the best steaming coal, but it is a good quality product, and is largely used in my State. The miners there have been working for twenty years, and have never had any trouble. During the whole of the time the mines in New South Wales have been closed the Western Australian miners have been asked to keep on working and contribute to the support of their idle comrades in New South Wales.
– That exemplifies the brotherhood of the Labour movement.
– Apparently, one of the privileges of coal-miners in Western Australia is to carry on so as to be able to contribute to wealthy New South Wales miners, who are doing nothing.
While Senator Payne was directing attention to the trouble in the timber industry, Senator Hoare, by way of interjection, described the Lukin finding as a “ rotten “ award.
– It was worse than that, if the honorable senator can find a suitable expression.
– Before the making of the award to which so much objection was taken, bush workers scattered all over the Commonwealth were working 48 hours. The Lukin award did not affect, that, section of the industry, and there was no outcry because the hours of bush timber workers had not been reduced to 44. It was only when the award affected organized timber workers in Sydney and Melbourne thai there was trouble. Then, to quote the words of Senator Hoare, it became a rotten award, or, according to Senator Rae, worse than a rotten award.
I turn now to the references in the Governor-General’s Speech to the £34,000,000 migration agreement, and I suggest that the Government would have acted far more honorably if it. had brought down a proposal to suspend the scheme in its entirety instead of suspending the assisted passages agreement and expecting the Government of Great Britain to contribute towards interest payments on any amounts raised. By repudiating the solemn obligation contained in an agreement, this Government has sunk to a very low level indeed, and, as Senator R. D. Elliott observed, it has done a great deal to shake the confidence of the people of Great Britain in the Commonwealth. It would seem that because a certain percentage of Southern Europeans are coining to -Australia, migration, in the opinion of the Labor party, must cease altogether. I have no particular love for Southern Europeans, but in fairness to those who have come to Australia it must be said that they have shown a disposition to work.
– The present Treasurer, Mr. Theodore, has always praised [hem as being good unionists.
– That is so. No matter what may be said in derogation of these southern Europeans, the leaders of trade unions take very good care that they join up and pay their union fees. As to the Italians who have settled in Western Australia. I may say that some time ago when Mr. Angwin, who is now Agent-General for Western Australia in London, was Minister for Lands and controlled the activities of the Agricultural Bank, he stated publicly that if farmers continued to let contracts to Italians for the clearing of their land he would withhold assistance to them from the Agricultural Bank. It would appear, however, that private members of the party to which the Minister belonged did not share his views, as in the course of conversation, one of them remarked, “ I wish to God I was not in my present position to-day. If I were not where I am I would soon get these Italians to do my clearing. I had two gangs sent up from the Government Labour Bureau to my farm, and boughttools, tents, and ‘ tucker ‘ for them. They stayed on my farm until they had eaten all the ‘ tucker,’ then they sold ‘ all the tools and tents and cleared out and left my work undone.” The principal objection to the Italians seems to be that they are inclined to work.
The government proposes to abolish the Development and Migration Commission. This, we are told, is to be done in the interests of economy. It may be good tactics to save 6d. in expenditure and advertise the fact. If the news is broadcast effectively the world takes more notice’ than if we spend £50 and say nothing about it. It is well known that for some time the Development and Migration Commission has been a clear target for every critic to shoot at. It has not been at all difficult to ascertain how much it has cost the Commonwealth to date, but the value of its work is not so easily ascertainable. I know, however, that it has saved Western Australia a great deal of unnecessary expenditure, and I firmly believe. that if it had been appointed a few years earlier, it would have prevented the unnecessary expenditure of millions of pounds, and saved a large number of people from a good deal of misery. I say without hesitation that the good work done by the Development and Migration Commission for Western Australia alone more than balances its total cost to the Commonwealth.
I do not propose to deal at length with the Government’s proposal to abolish compulsory military training. That has been fully dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce), Senator Glasgow and other honorable senators; but I take this opportunity to say that since the Government approves of the voluntary system I hope it will become universal. A not inconsiderable number of industrial leaders lately have been advocating the voluntary enforcement of the Arbitration Court awards. Now the Government appears to favour the voluntary system of military training. I hope it will go further.
– And make the payment of taxation voluntary!
– That would be the logical course for the Government to adopt. If it made the payment of taxation voluntary, it would receive the hearty endorsement of a great number of people.
I come now to the remarks of Senator O’Halloran concerning an Australianwide Government controlled compulsory wheat pool.
– I did not advocate a Government controlled compulsory wheat pool.
– If the proposed wheat pool were not controlled by the Government what would happen ?
– My proposal was that it should be controlled by the farmers themselves.
– But how could there be compulsion without Government control ?
– The farmers could determine that matter by their own votes.
– When the honorable senator was speaking of an allCanadian wheat pool I interjected that there was no all-Canadian wheat pool in the sense indicated, and he replied that I was too precipitate, as usual. Actually there is no Canadian wheat pool as outlined by the honorable senator. . The three prairie States of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have organized wheat pools which are controlled by a directorate elected by the participants in the respective pools. No other authority has any control over the farmers’ wheat and, as nearly as I can ascertain, the three pools control 52 per cent, of the wheat production of Canada. Although the pooling system is carried on to a considerable extent in Canada all the Canadian wheat is not under control. The only really successful wheat pool in the Commonwealth is that in Western Australia, which is controlled by the farmers themselves. It is a voluntary pool and is the only one in the Commonwealth which is conducted as a business organization. I remind Senator O’Halloran that the people of Western Australia will never consent to being associated with an all-Australian wheat pool.
– Does the honorable senator believe in the pooling system ?
– I believe in a voluntary pooling system. If the Government, of which Senator O’Halloran is a supporter, advocates the formation of a compulsory wheat pool, I shall urge the farmers, particularly in the State which I represent, not to give away their civil or economic freedom.
– The honorable senator is only a half-hearted believer in the principle.
– Not at all. It is interesting to note the extraordinary changes which are occurring in the policy of the Labour party. Some time ago the party favoured the nationalization of all means of production, distribution and exchange. That had a masculine and commanding sound. But times changed, and we were then informed that that party believed in the “ socialization “ of the menus of production, distribution and exchange. That expression apparently had a more seductive and feminine touch. It has now gone a step further and instead of using the words “nationalization” and “socialization,” it employs “co-ordination,” which suggests perhaps that a happy state of matrimony exists between the other two.
That the Labour party’s policy points ultimately towards unification cannot be denied.
– This Parliament went a long way towards unification” when it validated the financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, and established the Loan Council.
– Possibly we did ; that is undoubtedly the direction in which we are drifting. When the Financial Agreement Validation Bill was before the House, I believe that Senator O’Halloran said that his party was out for unification.
– Of course we were.
– It is well to know what is in the mind of the honorable senator, and those with whom he is associated.
I wish now to refer to certain points raised by Senator Sir Hal Colebatch concerning the financial affairs of the Commonwealth. I think the honorable senator said that the ex-Treasurer was responsible for the budget. He was no more responsible for the budget which he presented than was any other member of the late Government. It was the Government’s budget, not the Treasurer’s.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that the Treasurer was not responsible for his budget?
– He was jointly responsible with the Government of which he was a member. I agree with the honorable senator’s contention that the Commonwealth and State Governments have got into the habit of spending too much - money, and perhaps in many cases spending it unwisely. Unfortunately, that fault is not confined to governments, as quite a number of private persons are guilty of doing the same thing. The honorable senator also said that the Bruce-Page Government sought means to spend surplus revenue instead of handing it over to the States as provided by the Constitution. Without attempting to argue that point, I wish to quote a statement made in evidence before the Western Australian Disabilities Commission, of which Mr. W. G. Higgs was the- chairman, and which, in 1925, inquired into the financial position of that State. Mr. Keenan, on behalf of the State Advisory Committee, quoted section 6 of the Surplus Revenue Act of 1910 which provides that “In addition to the payments referred to in section 4 of this act, the Treasurer shall pay to the several States, in proportion to the numbers of their people, all surplus revenue, if any, in his hands at the close of each financial year.” Mr. J. R. Collins, who was then Secretary to the Treasury, in answer to a question 5857, when referring to that section, said -
That section was never intended to give to the States any money at all. It was put into the bill with my own knowledge, because of a constitutional difficulty. . . It waa never at any time agreed or suggested that moneys, in addition to the 25s., should be paid over to the States. It was fully understood by everybody concerned that the 25s. was to be a final pay.ment It was estimated that the surplus revenue available would be 25s. and not more. . . And it was deliberately intended that there should be no surplus to distribute under that section.
asked, “Deliberately intended by the Treasurer?” and Mr. Collins replied, “By the Treasurer and agreed to by all the States “.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that an agreement between the Treasurers could abrogate the Constitution?
– The Constitution provided for the return of threefourths of the Customs and Excise revenue for ten years, and after that it was entirely in the hands of this Parliament to determine what should be done. This Parliament, in the exercise of its constitutional rights, made provision for a per capita payment of 25s. in lieu of the arrangement which had previously been in existence.
– But the section of the Constitution which provides for the return of certain revenue to the States can be altered only by the people.
– I am referring to the agreement entered into at a conference at which the Commonwealth and all the States were represented and under which it was claimed that the States were ‘ to get surplus revenue over and above the per capita payment. But Mr. Collins said it was clearly understood by everyone that no such payments were to be made. It is unfortunate that the governments of Australia have got into the habit of spending more money than perhaps should be collected from the people. It would be infinitely better if the Australian taxpayers were able to retain more which they could possibly spend to greater advantage than the various governments are doing.
The Governor-General’s Speech does not contain any very definite proposals; but consists largely of a number of promises of something that will be done in the future. We can only hope that we shall soon be told what the Government intends doing. At present, with the exception of a few minor matters which have been touched upon, we are quite in the dark as’ to what its intentions are.
Before concluding I should like to support what has been said by other honorable senators concerning the unsatisfactory ministerial representation in the Senate. To-day, and probably for the remainder of this week, the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Daly) will be the only ministerial representative in this chamber, and upon him will fall the responsibility of answering all questions and replying to points raised in the debate. Anything that can be done to improve the present situation will, I am sure, meet with the approval of honorable senators on this side of the chamber.
– For the first time I find myself on the opposition side of the Senate; but. I have no doubt that I shall soon become accustomed to the change. Changes of Government occur from time to time in every country and that which recently took place here was, having regard to the experience of other administrations, overdue, inasmuch as something like 14 years had elapsed since Labour held the rein? of office in the federal arena.
– The Nationalists had « good innings.
– A very good innings. Changes are certainly inevitable and not always wholly undesirable. I do not welcome the change in this case, but we should reconcile ourselves to it. having regard to the financial position and the outlook generally. In a sense it is not inopportune.
– Does the honorable senator think the Labour party should be in power?
– I do not think anything of the kind. My point is that members of the Labour party, who, in their own opinion, are great financiers, will now have an opportunity to show the people how they would deal with the present acute financial situation.
We find ourselves in opposition principally by reason of a good deal of misrepresentation that was indulged in on the hustings, particularly in connexion with the late Government’s arbitration policy, which was the main issue. The Nationalist party was grossly misrepresented by its political opponents, who told the people our policy was designed to bring about an all ‘ round reduction of wages. We endeavoured to show the electors that such a thing was impossible; that there were State tribunals for dealing with wages and conditions and that the Federal Government would have nothing to do with the matter’; but apparently they accepted the statements of our opponents.
– The late Government’s proposal in connexion with the gross receipts of the picture industry was also an important factor.
– Yes, the Labour party gained a considerable accretion of strength and a good deal of publicity in that connexion. It is rather unfortunate that the Government was compelled to go to the country when its’ budget proposals, involving imposition of additional taxation in certain directions, had just been brought down. The Nationalist party did not for a moment favour a reduction in wages. We contend that high wages are the result of high production. This is demonstrated in other countries. For instance, in the United States of America higher wages are earned because of higher production, and the workers have, if anything, better condition of living than they have in Australia. This I had an opportunity of seeing when I was in California last year. The same thing applies in Canada. We hear a tremendous outcry about the conditions of living’ in Australia compared with those in other parts of the world. The picture is very much overdrawn. The conditions of living in many countries of the world where wages are lower than they are in Australia, are better than here. I am Vice-Consul for Sweden, in Rockhampton, and I have read a good deal about the conditions of living in Sweden. Conditions of living there are in many respects much better than they are in this country, although the Swedish workers there do not enjoy the high wages we have here. I mention these two cases to show that conditions of living are not altogether dependent on high wages or low wages.
Now that the country has decided that it is desirable to retain federal arbitration, it is, in my humble opinion, the right time for the Labour Government to ask the people by way of referendum for additional powers to make federal arbitration function properly, and I recommend that the people should, be asked to decide on the lines proposed by Mr. Bruce in 1926, and agreed to by both Houses of Parliament. It was only when the proposals were submitted to the people that the union organizers decided to oppose them. I really believe that in the present temper of the country there is a very strong chance of the people saying “ yes “ on this occasion. Of course I am not going to say that I would approve of them as they were put forward by this Government.
– I think that the people would say “ No “.
– They have already said “ No “ on four occasions. But inasmuch as they have recently unmistakenably expressed a wish for the maintenance of federal arbitration, I think the time is ripe to ask them to give the necessary powers to enable the. federal system to function properly.
We hear a good deal about the coal trouble, and the promise of members of the Government to settle it within a very limited time - I think a fortnight was the period mentioned - and we hear also much about hardship and suffering in connexion with it. The responsibility for this hardship and suffering rests on the men themselves. It is their wives and children who are suffering, yet they will not do the work which lays at their hands, because they will not accept one jot of a reduction in wages or an extension of hours. I do not advocate the men accepting low wages, but with some knowledge of the coal industry, I say that they could, by some slight reduction in the hewing rate, earn wages which would be envied by every other class of. artisan in Australia.
– It is not nonsense. I know what I am talking about. It has come out that when a month’s notice of the lockout was given and the men saw that there was a lean time in front of them for probably a long period they put forth their best efforts and in some cases earned as much as £25 a week in the Newcastle coal mines. We can, of course, take a very large discount off that figure. But is there any need for women and children to be suffering and starving when men can earn wages like that if they willingly turn their hands to it? It is another example of the way in which the organizers control the members of their organizations. . I think we can safely say that Australia is union- organizer-ridden to the point of madness.
I was connected with a coal-mine in Central Queensland where the ordinary award rates were being paid to the workers, but every fortnight that came round showed a loss. At last it was decided to close down the mine and the miners were given notice to that effect. Some other miners on the same field approached the directors and offered to work the mine on tribute and it was finally agreed that it should be worked on tribute by these men. From that day to this the miners have been doing well and the owners likewise. When orders are good the former have each averaged wages at the rate of £1,200 per annum. Possibly co-operation on similar lines will solve our difficulties in the coal industry. It has been adopted in Central Queensland with quite good results on a number of mines, and the workers are able to make very good wages. They could do the same in New South Wales. The hardship and suffering of which we are told could be avoided if the men would be content toearn a good wage even though it involved the acceptance of a slightly lower hewing rate. If the employers cannot make a reasonable profit, it stands to reason that they cannot keep their mines open. It has been ascertained by investigation that 2s.1d. was the profit shown on the old basis of working.
– Why does not the honorable senator allow the parties to confer? Why does he raise all this heat when a conference is now proceeding?
– I am merely pointing out why all this talk of hardship and suffering should not be dinned into our ears when the remedy is for the men to go to work on a slightly reduced hewing rate which would still enable them to make very good wages.
I view the decision to abolish compulsory military training with a good deal of misgiving. It is true that there are gestures of peace on every hand, and that these may be thought to justify the adoption of a voluntary system. But gestures of peace have been tried out from the beginning of the world’s history; they have always failed in the past,’ and probably must fail in the future. I hope they will not, and certainly think that they should be encouraged in every way. I trust that the wit of man will yet conceive something that will do away with war. But we must be ina position to defend our country, and I do not think that the voluntary system will give that adequate measure of defence which the Government considers necessary. I have had experience of both systems. Under the voluntary system in the old militia days in Queensland, it was quite an easy matter in country centres to raise companies of light horse or even artillery, but in the cities it was most difficult to get volunteers for infantry and arms of that kind. The position will be accentuated more than ever to-day, because the inducements to participate in amusements in cities are greater than they were at the time of whichI am speaking. Despite all our improvements in the art of war, infantry still remains the base line, and I do not see. how, by the voluntary system, we can obtain sufficient troops to fill our infantry quotas in the cities, which, afterall, are the places where defence is most required. The 4s. a day which the Government is offering by way of remuneration to volunteers when they are undergoing training compares most unfavorably with the 8s. a day paid in the pre-compulsory days, when the value of the £1 was very much greater than it is to-day. Compulsory training had a great many merits which voluntary training will not have. The voluntary system is most unfair, inasmuch as it is everybody’s duty to lit himself to defend his country; but under it we get only the patriotically inclined to submit to. training, whilst the others are probably watching football matches, losing the benefit of the physical development that is gained by those who submit to military training, and not learning obedience to orders. There is no opportunity to inculcate discipline in them, and discipline, above all things, is what the young Australian is sadly lacking. These are points which ought to be considered by the Government. Ministers should not lightly do away with compulsory training. Some months ago I had the advantage of a couple of days’ unofficial connexion with a camp in central Queensland, and at the end of the course of training I was particularly pleased to see the troops swing through the streets of Rockhampton. The physique of those boys - their ages ranged from 18 to 20 years - was something to be proud of, and the way they swung along with martial stride and good step showed that the training had not been wasted on them. That is an example of the advantages we shall lose by the alteration in the system of defence. I cannot understand why Labour has done this. . It brought in compulsory training, and the system has functioned very satisfactorily. It was the base line for supplying troops for the Great War. Yet now, because of some influence which is not apparent to me, Labour has gone back on its old principles, and has removed this very necessary element from the public life of Australia.
I also regret the stopping of nominated migrants from the Old Country. I assume that is what is meant by the cablegram recently despatched by the Prime Minister. It is really a repudiation of the £34,000,000 migration agreement, and I daresay that the British Government is making representations to the Commonwealth Government to that effect.
A great deal is said about absorption. 1 agree it is very necessary to keep that phase well before us, but surely, with our vast spaces and great resources, we can absorb a reasonable quota of migrants. The fears of this Government were not entertained by our pioneers.- When my father and others came out to this country they were unskilled, and absolutely unfitted for immediate developmental work, but they settled down and fully 90 per cent, of them made good. To-day their childrenare in excellent positions.
– Do not forget that they had the pick of the country.
– That is admitted, but Australia then had no markets, and lesser absorptive power than it has to-day. The principal factor governing the success of our pioneers was their indomitable spirit. They did not require the spoon-feeding methods that are so popular to-day. Nor was there a Labour government in power with unsound ideas on migration. We have also to consider the matter from the point of view of the League of Nations, a tribunal which regards with disfavour the perpetuation of Australia’s vast unoccupied spaces, while other countries remain over populated. That is one reason why further consideration should be given to the problem, and why it should be viewed broadly.
We should encourage rather than discourage assisted migration. I admit that the Mother Country also has its responsibilities in the -matter. The London Times recently announced that Great Britain had reached its peak as regards population, and the only solution of its problem was a better distribution of its people throughout the Empire. America also has probably reached its peak of population, and will need a distribution. But such a distribution does not necessarily mean sending to Australia only the unemployed. It should rather be a transfer of desirable citizens. I believe that Australia should receive from Britain a proportion of the intelligentsia - commercial people, manufacturers, high technicians, the best type of people, accompanied with capital, who will be able to establish and carry >u new industries in this country. If that plan were followed, Australia would have no reason to complain of the migration scheme, and Great Britain would be assisted, as we should then be able to absorb a greater proportion of her unemployed. We must have brains, capital, and directivity. I expressed similar views when at Sydney, Nova Scotia, with the Empire Parliamentary delegation last year, and they appeared to be acceptable to the British representatives present.
I understand that it is the intention of the Government to amalgamate the Development and Migration Commission with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, under the Works Department.
– That is not the Government’s intention:
– I am glad to hear it. I consider that the activities of those two bodies are entirely different, and that such a procedure would be unsound. I have already indicated to some extent the trend ‘of the activities of the Development and Migration Commission. Those of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are more in the direction of scientific experiment and research and, while I think that the council has done very good work, I believe that there are still untouched many avenues which it should investigate. That body did excellent work inquiring into diseases in sheep and other matters vital to Australia, but I should have liked to see it direct attention to mining technology and the liquefaction of coal. The latter is a pet subject of mine, and both are of the utmost importance to the development of Australia. For over three years I have been concentrating upon the commercial possibility of extracting oil from coal. While I was* with the Empire Parliamentary Delegation, the subject was debated at a conference, presided over by the Minister of Mines, Vancouver. The English delegate, a Mr. Hall, who is now a Minister in the British Labour Government, was firmly of the opinion that the scientist in charge of operations in Great Britain was not putting his best foot forward, or sufficiently optimistic in his task, with the result that other countries were outpacing Great Britain. T com mented that it was rather unfortunate for Australia that it was so, and the Canadian representative echoed my sentiments on behalf of his own country. I said that both countries were relying for guidance on experiments being conducted in Great Britain. Since then, there has been a great development in the matter. I believe that an eminent German chemist has discovered a new method for the liquefaction of coal. T refer to the Bergius process, which is succeeding so well that Germany expects that, within three or four years’ time not one gallon of oil will be imported into’ that country. Also, the low pressure process is proving so successful in Great Britain that it is being employed wherever coalfields exist. Australia, with its marvellous coal deposits, should have a far better chance to extract oil from coal, than to win it from natural resources. Of course, I wish to see that method also prove successful, but to me it has not the possibilities open to the distillation of coal.
– Two companies ure at present working along those lines in Australia.
– I am pleased to hear it. With our immense coal resources, there should be no need for us to import oil. At present we send abroad about £13,000,000 per annum to purchase petrol, which could better be kept in the country and devoted to the winning of coal and the distillation of oil from it. I hope that the Government will stay its hand, and not interfere with the activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, but rather -direct them along the lines which I have suggested. Both that council and the Development and Migration Commission; require time to achieve results, and if those results are not yet as apparent as we should like, there is no doubt that weshall appreciate their importance in the near future.
I have a grievance to voice in connexion with the allocation of portfolios. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce) has intimated that the Senate was flouted in that allocation. I agree with the right honorable gentleman, that we should have had a departmental head, in addition to the VicePresident of the Executive Council, a position which Senator Daly is, so far, worthily filling. I desire, not to reiterate the opinion of Senator Sir George Pearce, but to call attention to the manner in which the State of Queensland has been flouted. The third State of the Commonwealth is represented only by an honorary Minister, an improper condition of affairs. I do not say a word about the fitness of Queensland’s representative in the Cabinet; but as a matter of principle it is wrong that the great State of Queensland should have to be content with an honorary Minister in a cabinet of thirteen. That is unfair treatment for my State, and I strongly protest against it. That reminds me of a promise made by the gentleman who has the honor to represent Quensland in the Cabinet. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) stated on the hustings that he favoured, for a period of five years, a bounty on the exportable surplus of beef to enable the cattlemen of Queensland to survive their losses occasioned by the recent drought, and to get on their feet again. Will the Government give effect to that promise, or is it to be treated merely as a cheap vote-catching device ?
There is one thing in the speech upon which I heartily congratulate the Government, and that is the announcement of its intention to proceed vigorously with the completion of the Kyogle to South Brisbane railway. A sum of £350,000 has been placed on the Estimates for the purpose. I understand that, although the railway is approaching completion, the bridge over the Clarence River is a long way off finality. My object in eulogizing the Government in this respect is to ask it particularly to expedite the work on that bridge, so that the complete opening of the line will not be long delayed. I asked a question on the subject the other day, and Senator Barnes replied that, in all probability, the Clarence River bridge will not be finished until some months after the completion of the railway. I urge the Government to take every step to expedite the completion of that bridge. Until that is effected the railway will not function as satisfactorily as we all desire.
I also questioned the Minister as to a daily train service, including Sunday, between the capitals of Sydney and Brisbane, and the reply given to me wa.« not satisfactory. It was -
In terms of agreement between the Commonwealth and the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland, as the works ure completed and ready to be opened for traffic, they are to be handed over to the States and the matter of the train service will be one for consideration by the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales and Queensland, who will no doubt arrange a daily service if the circumstances warrant same. 1 should not have asked the question had I thought that the Commissioners of New South Wales and Queensland would grant the request. Although pressure has been brought to bear upon them, they have so far refused to include a Sunday train. I speak without authority in the matter; but I understand that the NewSouth Wales Commissioner was agreeable to the running of a Sunday train, but that the Commissioner in Queensland was not. Now that there is a different government in Queensland, it might be possible, if the Federal Government, which is financing the scheme, were to approach it, to get a promise from both Commissioners that a daily train service, including Sundays, will be established. There is a daily train between Sydney and Melbourne and also between Melbourne and Adelaide, and there is no reason why there should not also; be a daily train between Sydney and Brisbane.
– It is all a question of expense.
– I do not think that is the reason. I ask the Government to do its utmost to have a daily train service established between Sydney and Brisbane.
I desire to refer to the question of preferences. When the return of a Labour Government in Britain was announced, 1 was the first person in Rockhampton to hazard the conjecture that our preferences with the Mother Country were in danger. Unfortunately, we had not long to wait before Mr. Snowden announced that, in order to provide a free breakfast table for the people of the Old Country, the British Government would do away with those preferences. Later, because of representations made by the Dominions, that Government modified its proposals. It has now decided to hold the matter over until the Imperial Conference which is to be held next May. L hope that the Prime Minister who, no doubt, will represent Australia on that occasion, will urge the retention of the existing preferences. They mean a great deal to Queensland. Let us consider their effect in respect of one item alone. Assuming that the export of sugar from Queensland to Britain is 200,000 tons per annum, the removal of the preference would mean a loss to Queensland on that item alone of £1,000,0.00. It might be urged that the removal of the preference would provide a cheaper commodity forthe people of Britain; but it would, after all, make so little difference to the average family as to be negligible. In any case, the value of the preference granted to Australia by Britain is not nearly so great as that granted to the Old Country by Australia.
The Governor-General’s .Speech deals with a number of financial matters, but I shall leave my remarks concerning them until the Budget proposals are before the Senate. The outlook is not particularly bright, but, fortunately, there are a number of factors which indicate that an improvement is in sight. The appreciation in the price of wool, the bountiful rains which have fallen recently, and the lowering of the interest rate, indicate that, we are turning the corner and that more prosperous times lie ahead. Should the Government adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Gibbons) and guarantee 6s. 6d. a bushel for wheat, a doubtful benefit to growers would be assured ! By wise administration the Government can do much to assist the country. So long as it brings before the Senate sane and progressive measures, it will meet with no captious opposition. The assistance of the Opposition will be withheld only if the Government introduces fantastic or highly experimental legislation.
Senator OGDEN (Tasmania) fo.42”). - I thought that when Senator Thompson resumed his seat some honorable member of the ministerial party would have risen to reply to the statements that have been made by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Since being raised to the treasury bench, however, honorable senators opposite appear to have become dumb.
I hope that, before the debate closes, the Government will inform the Senate how it proposes to deal with some of the problems confronting Australia.
I desire to congratulate Senator Daly and Senator Barnes on their accession to ministerial office. I do that sincerely. I also congratulate the Labour party on having come into power after having for so many years ploughed the barren fields of opposition. The new Government’s tenure of . office will be determined, to a great extent, by its conduct of the country’s affairs. I expect that I shall be a somewhat severe critic of the Government; but I intend at all times to play the game. Nor do I think that the members of the Opposition generally will take advantage of their numbers to embarrass the Government. The treatment which members of the ministerial party will receive at the hands of the Opposition will depend largely on themselves. If they play the game, we on this side will do the same.
The verdict of the electors given recently must be respected. The issue was whether the Federal Arbitration Cour should, or should not, remain. The electors decided on its retention. I am prepared not only to accept their verdict, but also to co-operate with the Government in improving the existing system. I stand to-day where I stood twenty years ago in relation to industrial regulation. I have always held that there should be only one industrial authority in the Commonwealth. For years I have advocated that full powers in such matter? should be vested in the Commonwealth. Some time ago, when the electors were asked to grant fuller powers to the Commonwealth, the action of the Labour party resulted in their giving a negative decision.
– The reason was the stupidity of Mr. Bruce.
– In 1926, when the late Government submitted its proposals to the people, the Labour party opposed the granting of full powers to the Commonwealth. The State governments refused to surrender their powers, and the people rejected the referendum proposals. I was then forced to accept the only alternative - the abolition of the Federal Arbitration Court and the vesting of the
State industrial tribunals with the necessary powers. Although from many platforms trade union leaders had spoken in the most condemnatory, terms of the Federal Arbitration Court, when the Bruce-Page Government proposed to do away with that court, they charged it with attempting to lower the standard of living by reducing wages. To them it was immaterial that no government has the power to reduce wages. The fixing of wages is governed by the economic law of supply and demand. Members of the Labour party knew these things; but they found that their charge that the late Government desired to reduce wages was a very useful weapon.
Probably no section of the community was more surprised at the result of the election than the Labour party itself. Senator Daly must have been amazed to find himself suddenly exacted to the high and honorable office which he now occupies. I believe that the electors them-, selves were more than surprised at what they had done. They were like the man. who lit a fire on a hot day, only to find that it got beyond his control, and threatened him with devastation and ruin. Many of the electors will be glad to have the opportunity to put out the fire they assisted to light.
– After the election many members .of the party to which the honorable senator belongs were like soldiers suffering from shell-shock.
– The Nationalist party will be returned to office probably before those now occupying the treasury bench expect it. The Government has already done many things which will tend towards its downfall.
I now propose to pursue a line of argument which might be regarded as somewhat pessimistic or revolutionary. In this country to-day there is one main issue, and there are two parties. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber stand for the preservation of the existing social system. They believe in improving it where it needs improvement; in mending it, hut not ending it. Another section, which controls the Labour movement to-day, believes in the destruction of the present system and setting up in its place a communistic state. Thus there’ is a complete line of demarcation between the principles enunciated by honorable senators on this side of the chamber and the social system advocated by that section which controls Senator Daly and his followers in this chamber. There is not any shadow of doubt that this is the issue before the people. The question of a divergence of political faith is not involved. For thousands of years this intricate political problem has been under discussion. If we go back to the days of Plato we find that he stood for the democratic state, while Aristotle represented the aristocratic system of government. But the people in those days were either not sufficiently educated or were too careless to take an intelligent interest in the discussion of the issues that came before them. -In our time, owing largely to a wider knowledge of the doctrine preached by Karl Marx, the issue is becoming a somewhat acute problem, and in my judgment it .will have to be fought out in the Commonwealth.
It is remarkable that the Labour party to-day is endeavouring to steer a course between these two extreme schools of thought. It is appearing in a new role. In its earlier days Labour directly challenged all forms of monopoly, and strenuously opposed the money power.’ On many occasions I have heard my friend, Senator Rae, fulminating against monopolies, whatever form they took. To-day it would appear that he and other members of the Labourparty have abandoned those cherished principles, and so we find them in the role of the friend of the monopolistic enterprises and the representatives of themoneyed class. We have this evidence on every hand. It is written in character* so .plain that he who runs may read. Labour has mortgaged its political soul tothe money power. I need only remind the Senate of the attitude of the party during the recent election. Is it not a fact that the huge picture combine in this country - representing largely American capital - went to enormous expense to ensure the return of the Labour party? It may not be out of place here to emphasize that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds, are extracted from the people of the Commonwealth by the moving picture interests in the United States of America. During the election its representatives in this country raised the cry - “ Hands off the people’s amusements.” Arid the Labour party, be it noted, immediately fell in behind .this combine and said - “ No taxation of the people’s amusements.” Why was that done? Was it not because the moving picture combine spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to help the Labour party to win the election?
– I rise to order. The statement of the honorable senator is entirely incorrect. I challenge him to produce evidence that the Labour party received a bribe from the moving picture industry, and I ask him to withdraw the statement.
– The honorable senator’s objection is not a point of order. Senator Ogden is entitled to express any views he may have on the subject at. issue, and Senator Dunn may state his views; but both must do so in a courteous and proper manner.
– Are we to understand, Mr. President, that you take no exception to the charge by Senator Ogden, that honorable senators on this side, as members of the Labour party, accepted a bribe during the last election campaign?
– No such charge was contained in the statement of Senator Ogden.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that hundreds of thousands of pounds had been paid to the Labour party by the moving picture combine during the last election.
– If that is what Senator Ogden said, he must withdraw it.
– But that is not what I said, Mr. President. I repeat that the moving picture interests spent hundreds of thousands of pounds during the last election, to assist the Labour party to get back to power. That statement is true. Everybody knows that the moving picture combine helped the Labour party.
– Do you rule, Mr. President, that it is competent for an honorable senator to lay a charge that the Labour party, or any member of it, accepted a bribe during an election, and so committed a breach of electoral law?
-I did not say that.’
– The honorable senator said that the moving picture industry spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to assist the Labour party in the recent election, and I submit that his reference to the Labour party means members of the party sitting on the Ministerial bench, and in support of the Ministry in. this chamber. If the party had accepted a bribe, it would have committed a breach of the electoral law. I take exception to the insinuation that the party was bribed.
– I ask Senator Ogden if that insinuation was contained in his remarks.
– No, Mr. President. What I said was that the moving picture combine spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to assist the Labour party to get back to power. That statement is borne out by the facts.
– The statement, of the honorable senator is not out of order. It contains no implication concerning the personal honesty of members of the Labour party. The honorable senator may proceed. .
– It was only necessary during the election to walk down the streets of any of our principal capital cities to find evidence on every hand of the active participation of the American picture combine in the campaign. At almost every session in many picture theatres there was thrown on the screen an announcement of the taxation proposals of the Bruce-Page Government, and an urgent appeal was made to the people to vote for candidates representing the party which advocated no taxation on amusements. This was done every day. I repeat, that the moving picture industry must have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to assist the Labour party, because that was the only party which promised not to impose a tax on amusements. I am satisfied that those controlling the industry, by the expenditure of a huge sum of money, helped the Labour party very materially to defeat the BrucePa.ge Government. Indeed, some of their placards urged the electors to vote Labour. These election advertisements were displayed on hoardings in every street in Hobart, as well as on every main road in the environs of the city. Why, then, should Senator Daly feel so sore about the reminder? I repeat that, by falling in behind the picture combine, the Labour party during the last election campaign, surrendered itself to this capitalistic monopoly.
The argument of our Labour friends was that the Bruce-Page proposal to tax the moving picture industry on its gross turnover was vicious in principle. As a matter of fact, it is not a new principle at all. The present Ministry, even to-day, by the imposition of excise duties, is taxing the gross turnover of breweries throughout the Commonwealth. I also remind the Senate that Mr. Lyons, the Postmaster-General, when a member of a Tasmanian Ministry, introduced a similar measure, under which every publican in that State had to pay a tax of 2£d. on every gallon of beer and every bottle of whiskey which he ordered. Was not that taxation upon the gross turnover? The present federal land tax also embodies exactly the same principle. It is a tax upon the gross turnover of the land-owner, so, as I have said, there is nothing new in the principle.
– Our proposal is entirely different from the proposal of the Bruce-Page Government.
– This objection to the principle which, as I have shown, is not a valid objection, was the only excuse which the Labour Party could offer for surrendering itself, body and soul, to the American picture combine. But we have other instances of Labour’s defection from its former principles. The liquor interests have always been on the side of Labour, and it is a coincidence that immediately Labour is returned to power, by amending the excise duties of the previous Government, it hands back to the rich breweries the Id. a gallon additional excise duty imposed by the BrucePage Government recently. Is not this further evidence of the powerful influence of rich monopolies in the affairs of the Labour party?
The only move made so far by the present Government for the relief of unemployment is a proposal to tax’ industry. This Government has imposed a tariff duty of 10s. a gallon upon imported whisky in order to force the Australian consumer to drink an inferior brand of spirit - to poison the consumer with Australian whisky. Can it be argued that this has been done in the interests of the Australian working man, or to provide employment? May not we assume that the intention was to increase the profits of the Federal Distilleries .in which Mr. John Wren has a controlling interest? Unquestionably this is another instance of a surrender of the Labour party to the money power.
– Does the honorable senator say that Australian whisky is inferior?
– I invite the honorable senator to try it and judge for himself.
– I have sold a great quantity of it, and it has always been good spirit. »
– We will not argue that point here. The Labour party once justly complained that there were no newspapers in Australia in which its members could express their opinions or voice their ideals. But what did we find during the last election? The powerful Melbourne Age supported the Labourparty and the policy of protection. Another influential newspaper, the Sydney Sun published one of the most scurrilous and disgusting political cartoons that has ever appeared in a reputable newspaper, and it was used by Mr. E. G. Theodore as campaign director for the Labour party in New South Wales. The powerful Sydney Sun and other prominent so-called capitalistic journals were on the side of the Labour party during the last election.
I think I have clearly shown that the Labour party has changed its ideals, and that it has now become the champion of monopolists and money power, and is no longer a true advocate of democracy. The members of the Labour party have pleased their capitalistic friends - the rich manufacturers - who laud them day after day, and who will now transfer a further burden to the shoulders of the working man. The manufacturer will make bigger profits to swell his coffers, and the cost of living will soar, while the poor unfortunate working man who looked to the Labour party to solve his problems will agaiti be left in the lurch. I shall deal with that subject at greater length when the budget and financial papers are under discussion. For the moment I shall content myself by saying chat the big moneyed interests are referring to the Labour party as the saviour of the community.
But let us examine the other side of the picture.. How will the members of that party get on with their other friends? No man can serve two masters. How are they going to reconcile their attitude towards the capitalists of this country, with their professions towards the extreme element which was once represented so faithfully and so well by Senator Rae. The communists have now representation on the other side of the chamber and in the Cabinet. We can already see the concessions granted to these friends of theirs, and may naturally ask how long the Government will be able to steer its present course. I suppose the first evidence of a desire on the part of the Government to please the revolutionary section of the Labour movement is its amended defence policy. It is a well known fact that the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which is the supreme controlling body of the trade union movement in this country, is avowedly communistic. That body believes in controlling the means of production, distribution and exchange by revolutionary political and industrial action.
– The honorable senator once supported that policy.
– Does the honorable senator believe in it?
– I ask the honorable senator if he did not once support such a policy ?
– I have never supported a policy of revolution, and I hope chat I shall never be charged with that crime. The Australasian Council of Trade Unions controls the trade union movement and the trade union movement controls the Labour party. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if that is not so?
– Of course it is not.
– The revolutionary body that controls the trade union organization in Australia is the absolute boss of the Labour movement. That is why I refused to follow the men who are blazing this revolutionary path. A section of these revolutionaries deliberately aimsat the destruction of all armed military forces in Australia. The communists do not want a trained army; but they want a free run with the rifle, because the Labour party believes in no conscription, and no interference by the military in industrial disputes.
– Quite right, too.
– That may be the opinion of the honorable senator, but the other day we had a visit from a Mr. Chapman, one of the directors of the trades union movement, who said that, as the State Government’s action in connexion with the coal dispute in New South Wales was almost certain to have interstate consequences, it was the duty of the Federal Labour Government to assert its authority with the forces at its command. That is, the military forces. Mr. Chapman urges the Labour Government to call out the military in connexion with the industrial disputes in the coal-fields. Is the Minister prepared to follow that advice? I have not before me a copy of the Labour party’s platform, and therefore cannot give its defence policy. It appears to be part of their political programme to keep the copies of their platform strictly to themselves.
– That is not correct.
– If the Minister will supply me with a copy, I shall quote the party’s platform in regard to military training. Speaking from memory,I believe it provides that a trainee on completion of his training shall have the right to retain his rifle.
– Quite right, too.
– Why should he retain it? To shoot rabbits!
– To shoot you!
– I believe the honorable senator has spoken the truth. I ask Senator Rae to tell me why a trainee should retain his rifle?
– So that he can defend himself against the Fascistic crowd with which the honorable senator is associated.
– Defend himself against his fellow men?
– Not necessarily.
– To shoot them down ? Is that the meaning of the portion of the Labour party’s platform to which I have referred?
– I challenge the Minister to contradict what I have said. The words have a sinister meaning. Should a trainee be allowed to retain his rifle to shoot down his fellow men?
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– In a minority report Messrs. McNamara and Duffy, the Labour representatives on the Constitution Commission, recommended the insertion in the Constitution of new section as follows: -
No person shall be conscripted under any law of the Corn mon wealth for naval, military or industrial service.
Yet the Labour party contravenes that principle on every possible occasion. It will not permit its followers to have the privilege - of fighting in defence of their country, their homes or- their firesides, yet it says that every man must join a union or be called a scab or a traitor to the Labour movement. It thus employs industrial conscription in regard to trade unionism, but its friends outside who direct its policy will not allow any of the supporters of the party to strike a blow in defence of their country. The abolition of compulsory military training is a distinct gesture towards the communistic friends of the Government, who direct it from outside.
The Labour party also seeks the abolition of the Singapore Naval Base, one of the greatest safe-guards we could possibly have for the protection of Australia. Ministers are prating about their desire for the adequate defence of Australia, yet they make this further gesture to satisfy the militant element within the Labour movement. They tell us that they have no time for communism, but they obey its instructions in regard to defence.
The other day the Prime Minister said that the Commonwealth Government had accepted the Soviet Government’s pledge to the British Government to abstain from propaganda in England and the dominions, yet to-day, in answer to a question, Senator Daly said, that this was a matter that had nothing to do with Australia. In this connexion let me read the following : - .
In a speech at Pretoria the Minister for Justice (Mr. Pirow) referring to the Durban police raids on natives who had not paid the head tax, revealed that a wide-spread plot on Kith December was instigated by the Third In- ternational. It was calculated to strike a serious blow at the industrial life of the Union.
The Third International, declared the Minister, sent written instructions to a number of native labour organizations to “ wage a struggle against the native bills and all other petitions, but in a revolutionary manner, on 10th December. Militant demonstrations were to be conducted, and the mines were to be penetrated by all possible moans.” Therefore, he claimed justification for the Government’* preventive action at Durban, which was the chief centre of unrest. He added that the Union Government would legislate at the earliest date to deal ‘with the agitator who was at the root of the trouble.
Although we have this evidence of a distinct plot on the part of the Third International at Moscow, to interfere seriously with the industrial relations of one of the dominions, Mr. Scullin has accepted the pledges given by the SovietGovernment. But it is only another little gesture to appease the communistic friends of the Labour party ; to keep them quiet while Ministers sit down and draw their salaries.
We were informed the other day that the Commonwealth Government has suspended the issue of licences under the Transport Workers Act. What is that, but another attempt to appease the militant section, which is the driving force behind the Labour movement to-day? Will Senator Daly or any other honorable senator sitting with him refuse to admit the immense benefit conferred by the Transport Workers Act on the people of Australia? No other piece of legislation enacted of recent years has done more than it has done to bring about peace and contentment and fair conditions on the waterfront of Australia. Yet the Labour party has now suspended the issue of licences under that act at. the behest of the militant leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation.
The other day a union waited on the Minister in Canberra and urged that preference to unionists be observed. I am not and never have been a believer in preference to unionists. I am consistent in this regard, because I opposed compulsory military service during the war; although having regard to the number of eligible men associated with the Labour party to-day who refused to go to the war, I should not be prepared to take up the same attitude again. I opposed conscription, and I am equally opposed to preference to unionists, because I regard it as a form of compulsion. It is conscription. This step has also been taken by the Labour Government in an attempt to appease its communistic masters.
Another gesture designed to please the communists is the cessation of migration. Here is a paragraph from the Pan-Pacific Worker to which Senator Rae frequently contributes. It reads - lt is the immediate task of the militants to carry on a determined and unceasing struggle against all form of race prejudices and race hatred fostered by capitalism and reformism.
They want the White Australia policy to be destroyed. So far the Labour Government has not made any definite gesture in. that direction but it will have to, do so sooner or later. It cannot steer a clear course between the two opposing parties. It cannot remain uninjured between the fire of the capitalistic forces and the shells of the communists. Eventually it must pass to one side or the other. In regard to migration, this newspaper says - it is obvious that the workers of Australia, acting in conjunction with the Labour movement of Great Britain, must fight the mass migration scheme of Bruce and Baldwin. It cannot be doubted but that these schemes are exclusively in the interests of the exploiters and imperialists.
In suspending migration the Labour party has surrendered to the wishes of the militant section.
I think I have quoted sufficient to show that the contention I have tried to set up that the Labour Government is endeavouring to please two masters is correct. In the end it must either surrender to the militant section or mortgage its political soul and future to the capitalistic section of the community. I think it is a. matter of impossibility for it to steer a course which will keep it unscathed.
I have some notes upon some of the proposals iu the budget, but I think I had better leave them until we come to deal with the budget in the next few days. But there is one thing I should like to mention. To serve certain, interests which are at the present time standing behind it the Labour party is attempting to abstain from taxing pleasures and luxuries. At the same time it is taxing the every-day commodities of the people, their food requirements, their clothing: children’s socks and women’s hats, and placing an intolerable burden upon industry. I do not know what the workers will think when they eventually come to realize that the cost of living is soaring up. They must see how absolutely futile were the promises made to them.
I do not wish to hamper any negotiations which may be taking place in an effort to settle the coal dispute, but I declare that the Labour party flagrantly and wickedly deceived its supporters when it stated that it would settle that strike in fourteen days. Honorable senators opposite know that that was impossible, and that the Federal Government has no constitutional powers to do such a thing. So the strike continues, and unemployment is rife.
The Labour party claimed that it would solve the unemployment problem by raising the tariff. No government can solve the problem in that manner.
– The Labour party claimed nothing of the sort.
– May I put it that the honorable senator’s party claimed that, by increasing the tariff, it would in-, crease employment.
– And that has already been done.
– I can hardly imagine anything like the childlike simplicity of honorable senators opposite if they believe that an increased tariff is going to relieve unemployment. How is the tax on whisky going to help a workman on a farm, in a timber mill, or in a mine? How is a tax on the commodities of life going to relieve unemployment in the building trade, or give assistance to any unskilled worker? It is absolutely certain that this prohibitive and vindictive tariff will throw more men out of employment. Imports will continue to come into Australia; no tariff will keep them out. The local manufacturer, receiving this large subsidy from the Government, will immediately raise the price of his commodities. The worker will then demand higher wages, and his demand will be granted. The cost of production will be increased, and so the vicious circle will be pursued. I am confident that after the expiration of another twelve months or two years there will be as much, if not more, unemployment than there is at present. I believe that we have not yet reached the full depths of our trade depression. Already there is a curtailment of expenditure on public works. If the high tariff does what the Labour party claims it will do, it will stop imports and so lessen our Customs receipts, which will leave still less money available for distribution. The consequent high costs will curtail the purchasing power of the public and revenue will suffer through the lessened Customs receipts, with the result that next year’s budget will disclose a greater deficit than that which now exists.
– The honorable senator admits that there is a deficit ?
– Of course I do. The Government with which I was associated was prepared to meet that deficit in a fair and generous way, by taxing the people who could best afford to pay, and not by putting severe imposts upon those least able to bear it. On the other hand the Labour party proposes to impose a crushing burden on industry, to increase the cost of living, and to place a millstone around the necks of the workers.
To support still further my statements with regard to the communistic masters of the Labour party, I shall read a portion of a letter which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 14th June last. It is written by a Mr. A. C. Woodsford, a prominent member of the Labour party, and a trusted official of the Seamen’s Union. Portion of it reads: -
Who is it but the Communists who are directing the strikes against the law at the present time? The men’s officials are sitting back and letting the Communists control their unions. Those who do their duty and attempt to keep the militant usurpers out of the committees of Australian unions are the target for all their vile abuse, being branded as “class traitors and scabs “ for trying to assist working men and women to get a living. Wake up, fellow workers, and clean our unions of all disrupters. Are we still going to countenance strikes and disorganization of industry until the British Empire falls, and keep our children hungry until the Communists have toppled over our constitutional Governments and institutions? What then, fellow workers? Misery and pestilence. Nothing short of that will satisfy the Communists, and until they push the workers into violence and ruin. Unless the workers throw them out, the militants, following their instructions from Moscow, will ride the trade union movement to destruction, and I predict that Labour’s hope df building up a clean White Australia with a high standard of living will not be fulfilled.
I do not think that I am unduly stressing the dangers of this evil. All thinking: men know that there is a dangerous element in this country that wants to destroy existing institutions and set up, probably, a regime similar to that which now harasses Russia. I should not refer to that element so seriously but for the fact that it controls the Labour movement.
– The honorable senator does not believe that.
– I do, and that is why I am on this side of the chamber today. In all my experience of the Labour movement, and especially recently, I have never heard a Labour man denounce a. strike. Not one had the courage to denounce the waterside workers’ strike that occurred a year or two ago; to tell the men that they were wrong. They were silent when they should have spoken. As a matter of fact, members of the Labour party openly supported participants in the timber workers’ strike. Indeed, nearly every member of that party broke the law. There is much talk about the prosecution of Mr. John Brown, but many overlook the fact that the late Federal Government could have prosecuted practically every member of the Labour party for inciting men to break the law-.
– That Government was not game to do it.
– Perhaps it was a little too generous. Honorable senatorsopposite and their colleagues know that strikes are illegal. They have always declared that they stand for the principle of arbitration, yet we find them supporting men like Jock Garden and Kavanagh, who openly advocated violence during the timber strike.
– Kavanagh did nothing of the sort.
– He suggested that the strike committee should refuse to advise the men to desist from personal violence. He was later found with a loaded revolver in his possession.
– The honorable senator knows very well that he was acquitted.
– I do not know that this is so, but I do know that he gave that vicious advice. It is against that type that I shall always fight, and the Labour party should be fighting against it.
– The honorable senator fights them only under the cloak of parliamentary privilege. He would not dare to say these things outside Parliament.
– I would be prepared to say them outside, but I know that there are lots of things that Senator Daly would ‘not say outside Parliament.
– I would not say that a man was guilty after he had been acquitted of the charge upon which he was arraigned.
– I am not dealing with that charge. Cavanagh is reported as having urged the strike committee to refuse to advise the men to desist from personal violence.
The other day I read another gem in the columns of the Age, that great protagonist of Labour which the party has set out to serve by imposing high tariffs. A man named Cummins, a candidate at the last State election against Sir William McPherson, the Premier of Victoria, got into trouble during the police strike, at which time he was a member of the force. He was a good Labour man at that time, but recently he cannot be so pleased with the party, for this is what he is reported to have said at an. open air meeting at Prahran : -
A Woman. - Do you expect more from the Nationalists than you do from Labour?
Mr. Cummins. ; I expect truth and principle from the Nationalists, which is more than you ?an get from many of the Labour men. They made us promises, and when they got into power they turned down principle for gold. They broke me mentally, physically, and financially. As long as members of the Labour party could get us to assist them in their campaigns, they made us promises, but as soon as they got into office they threw us down. I saw Mr. Prendergast once about a striker who was almost starving, and he promised to do something for him, but nothing was done. Later I was accused of having been with the enemy because I interviewed Sir William McPherson. I did interview Sir William McPherson. I went to see if he could do something for one of my friends, who had been out of work since the strike. Sir William McPherson, although he was only Leader of the Opposition at the time, said that he would do his best, and he obtained a position for that man. When he found that the man did not have enough money to pay his fare to the job, Sir William Mcpherson gave him ?2.
A Voice. - Anyway, the Nationalist party has done a lot for you.
Mr. Cummins. ; The Nationalist party gave me the sack, and it has persecuted us, but it said from the beginning that we had committed an offence. The Labour party told us that we were right, and then forgot its principles. Every one makes mistakes, but the biggest one I ever made was when I had anything to do with the Labour party.
To most men disillusionment comes sooner or later. I hope that the Labour Government will not indulge in wild schemes, or try to please its communist friends, but will exercise common sense in the government of the country. I hope that it will realize that its duty is to conserve the country’s welfare, that it will legislate in the interests of the whole people, and not of a section of them, and that it will apply itself to the solving of the problems confronting the country. There is sufficient constructive work for it to do without pandering to sectional interests. Our so-called democracy has not brought to the world the benefits which were expected from it. Under our scheme of representative government it sometimes happens that a party seeking office will make all sorts of wild promises to the electors, knowing that it cannot give effect to them. That happened at the last election; the Labour party made promises which it knew were impossible of fulfilment.
In the old days the Labour party had ideals; it fought for principles; it was concerned with the welfare of the struggling masses; it would not ally itself with capitalism, or any moneyed interests; it had an industrial and a financial policy. But to-day that party is barren of any high ideals of citizenship; its only objective is to gain the treasury bench, and to manipulate the administration in the interests of its supporters. I am sorry that the great Labour movement has so far departed from the path on which it first set out. Without desiring to assume the role of a prophet, I feel confident that if the electors had the opportunity to-morrow they would reverse the decision they gave a few weeks ago. The workers will soon find that the Nationalist party is a better friend to them than is the party to which they gave their support. In conclusion, I repeat that I shall vote for any Government measure which I believe will serve the best interests of the country. But whatever the consequences - even at the risk of a double dissolution - I shall not hesitate to take action to frustrate any efforts of the Government which I believe will not be in the interests of the Commonwealth.
– I desire to congratulate Senator Dooley and Senator O’Halloran, the mover and the seconder respectively of the motion for the adoption of the Ad dress-in -Reply, on the speeches they delivered. There is much in the Governor-General’s Speech for which the Government may take credit. When I call to mind some of the reactionary governments of the past, when the country was governed from Pitt-street, Bligh-street, or Flinders-street, or even from Fleet-street, London, I realize that the present Government, even in the few weeks it has been in office, has by comparison, done a great deal. Senator Ogden has promised, his support to the Government so long as its proposals have his approval, but he has indicated that he will stoutly resist any proposed legislation of which he does not approve. He is, in effect, prepared to assist the Government in passing pop-gun legislation; but should it introduce measures of heavier calibre he threatens it with an appeal to the country. The Labour party is prepared to accept his challenge; it is prepared to go to the country again. I invite Senator Ogden to study the votes cast for the several candidates in the Denison, Bass, and Wilmot divisions. A study of those figures would convince even Senator- Ogden that had ‘ there been a double dissolution, he would not now be in a position to say whether he would, or would not, assist the Government to give effect to its legislative proposals. The electors of Australia have shown their approval of the Labour party’s constructive policy, by returning to another place a Labour government with a majority of seventeen over the members of all other parties combined.
– The election was fought on one issue.
– The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) had a good deal to say about communist influences behind the Government. Indeed, a good deal of his speech dealt with Russia and communism. It might be well to remind Senator Ogden, who, since he joined the Nationalist party, has become quite respectable, of the following passage from Holy Writ : -
But Peter said unto him, Although all shall’ be offended, yet will not I.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto theo, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.
And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept.
– What is the object of that reference ?
– I think the honorable senator knows to what I refer. He charges responsible Ministers of the Crown and the supporters of the Government with being communists; he talks of a revolution; he suggests that either Parliament House will fall or the place be submerged. Unless Senator Ogden can tell a better bed-time story than that, he will not obtain a job as a broadcasting announcer.
A few days ago Senator Lynch asked a question relating to the singing of “ The Red Flag “ at the Hotel Kurrajong. I do not say that the honorable senator was not entitled to ask that question, for he did so in a perfectly constitutional maimer; but I deny some of the statements be then made, and I disapprove of his efforts at propaganda. Did he think that to have his question reported in Hansard would be useful when next an appeal was made to the country? Did he expect to use it in order to “ dope “ the electors? Some honorable senators who do not reside at the Hotel Kurrajong might not be aware that, on the occasion to which Senator Lynch referred, some of the guests there indulgedin community singing. They sang some of the songs so familiar to many of us. Among them were “ The Swanee River” and “Old Black Joe.” It is probable that “Pie in the Sky” was also sung, as well as “ John Brown’s Body.” Senator Lynch was there, and I have no doubt he enjoyed the evening.
– Up to a point.
– I suppose the honorable senator enjoyed it until the singing of “ The Red Flag.” But, really, I believe he was mistaken about that song. I understand he thought they were singing “The Red Flag,” when actually they were singing “ The Battle of the BoyneWater,” and I believe the company was singing -
My uncle Mick, he had a stick,
Sohe began to slaughter :
But forgot to kill old Paddy Lynch
At the battle of the Boyne Water!”
It may not be out of place to remind the Senate, that in every country that has a history, the working classes have songs particularly dedicated to their cause. Thus, we find working-class songs in Great Britain, the United States of America, Canada, the South American States, and in Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, and every other European country. And, strange at it may seem, in France, what was once a revolutionary song, has become the national anthem. When the Federal Parliament was sitting in Melbourne, both Senator Lynch and Senator Ogden took part in the historic gathering that welcomed the distinguished French visitor, General Pau. On the steps of Parliament House, these honorable senators, with everyone else in that great gathering, stood to attention when the band struck up “ The Marseillaise.” Likewise, I stood to attention on many occasions in France during the late war, and I now say that I was as good a soldier as ever “Pompey” Elliott was.
– Order! It is not in order to refer to an honorable senator by a nickname.
– Well, my name is secured under patent rights, and is constitutionally correct. In deference to you, Mr. President, I shall say that I was as good a soldier as ever Senator H. E. Elliott was.
– Can the honorable senator give us a bible reference concerning “The Red Flag”?
– In a minute or two I may do so. I wish first to conclude my reference to “The Marseillaise,” to honour which the first gentleman and the first lady of the British Empire, their Majesties the King and Queen of Great Britain, stand up whenever it is played in their presence, whether it he in England or France.
– Surely the honorable senator, does not compare “The Red Flag “ with “ The Marseillaise.”
– It was oncea revolutionary song.
– But not now.
– For the information of those honorable senators who may not be conversant with its history, let me quote briefly from an historical reference to the song itself -
The stirring song orhymn of the French Republicans, was composed in 1792 by a young officer, Rouget de Lisle. He composed both words and music under one inspiration on a night in April, after dining with the Mayor of the City of Strasburg. It was first known as the “ Chant del’Armé du Rhin.” The song was speedily carried by enthusiastic revolutionaries to the chief cities of France. It was brought to Paris by the volunteers of Marseilles, who sang it as they entered the capital, and as they marched to the storming of the Tuileries. It was thus called “ La Marseillaise.” As early as the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, it was enthusiastically taken up as the French National Anthem, and has held that honoured place until this day.
Again, I say that our King, to whom we all swore allegiance at the opening of this Parliament, and to whom I swore allegiance for five long years during the war, stands to attention when this stirring national anthem is played. The words are -
Ye sons of France, awake to glory!
Hark, hark! what myriads bid you arise!
Your children, wives, and grand-sires hoary,
Behold their tears, and hear their cries.
Shall hateful tyrants, mischief breeding,
With hireling hosts, a ruffian band,
Affright and desolate the land,
While peace and liberty lie bleeding?
To arms, to arms, ye brave!
Th’ avenging sword unsheathe!
March on, march on! all hearts resolved
On victory or death.
With luxury and pride surrounded,
The vile, insatiate despots dare,
Their thirst of gold andpower unbounded,
To mete and vend the light and air.
Like beasts of burden would they load us -
Like gods would bid their slaves adore -
But man is man - and who is more?
Then shall they longer lash and goad us?
To arms, &c.
Let me turn now to the words of this terrible song, “ The Red Flag,” to which Senator Lynch has objected.
– A man named Jim Connell, a young Irishman with turbulent blood in his veins. He sprang from a people who for 700 years were turbulent and troublesome, because the right to self-government was withheld from them. These are the words of “ The Red Flag”-
The people’s flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead,
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their heart’s blood dyed its every fold.
Then raise the scarlet standard high!
Within its shade we’ll live or die;
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We’ll keep the red flag flying here.
Look round - the Frenchman loves its blaze,
The sturdy German chants its praise;
In Moscow’s vaults its hymns are sung;
Chicago swells the surging throng.
It waved above our infant might,
When all ahead seemed dark as night;
It witnessed many a deed and vow,
We must not change its colour now.
It well recalls the triumphs past;
It gives the hope of peace at last;
The manner bright, the symbol plain,
Of human right and human gain.
It suits to-day the weak and base,
Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place.
To cringe before the rich man’s frown;
And haul the sacred emblem down.
With heads uncovered swear we all,
To bear it onwards till we fall,
Come dungeon dark or gallows grim,
This song shall be our parting hymn.
What is wrong with those words? Are they not symbolical of the aspirations of the working classes throughout the civilized world? Senator Lynch has objected that this song was included in the programme of a musical evening at the Hotel Kurrajong. But as I recollect the incident, the company was taking part in community singing, when someone came to the door and said jocularly, “Now let us all sing the ‘Red Flag’.” Everybody did so with, I venture to suggest, a considerable amount of pleasure. I hope that Senator Lynch does not take the view that we should ask him what songs may or may not be sung at our gatherings.
– Did the honorable senator ever hear the members of the old Labour party singing that song? He is only a “ Johnny-come-lately “ anyhow.
– Like the honorable senator, I have Irish blood in my veins. I came to Australia at the age of fifteen years and have had a long association with the Australian Labour movement, having been in it for over 22 years, so I am not a “Johnny-come-lately” as the honorable senator infers. I should be sorry if the workers of Western Australia were responsible for his election to this Parliament, or if the workers of Tasmania sent Senator Ogden here. Both honorable senators have broken their pledges to the Labour movement, and I venture to say that if they attempt to rejoin the Labour party they will be reminded of the warning to Peter.
Reference has been made, also, to the singing of the song “John Brown’s Body “. That, too, is historic in its origin. John Brown was an American abolitionist, and leader of the famous attack on Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Early in life he conceived hatred for the institution of slavery and became famous for the killing”, under his orders, of five pro-slavery settlers. After carrying on a strenuous anti-slavery campaign, he was eventually seized, imprisoned, convicted of “ treason and conspiring with slaves and rebels, and murder in the first degree “, and was hanged at Charleston. Shortly after his death a popular song amongst abolitionists was “ John Brown’s Body.”
– It was also popular during the last election campaign.
– It was. It has now become one of the national songs of the United States of America, and is sung enthusiastically throughout the world as the song commemorating a great social reform. Similar compositions are in use by almost every nation, and there does not seem to be any reason why Senator Lynch, who was not a member of the social gathering at the Kurrajong Hotel that evening, should object, because the Red Flag happened to be sung.
The Labour party has been returned to this Parliament with an overwhelming majority and we are safe in assuming that the present Government will hold office for a long time. It is thirteen years since Labour was in control of the administration of the Commonwealth, and during that period various anti-Labour Governments have been in power. Some years ago we had a Nationalist administration led by William Morris Hughes, the founder of the Nationalist party-
– And of the Labour party.
– Yes, and in leaving that party he went the way of many others. During the time the Labour party has been in opposition different administrations have endeavoured to guide the people of Australia through the dark shadows of the political valleys ; but with so little success that the people at last decided to give the Labour party an opportunity to overcome the obstacles which the Nationalist party found it impossible to surmount. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Sir George Pearce) spoke of loyalty and goodwill towards the Government. Senator Ogden also said that he was prepared to assist the Government to a certain extent; but added a proviso to the effect that at the first opportunity he would knife it. I suppose that is the type of loyalty we can expect from the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Ogden. Senator Sir George Pearce also referred to economic freedom, but I should like to ask the right honorable gentleman what economic freedom was experienced during the war or more recently by those who had to submit to the iniquitous provisions of the Crimes Act and the Transport Workers Act? The Labour party is a friend of not only the working man but the primary producers. That was instanced by the convening of a conference of primary producers at Bathurst several years agoby Mr. J. T. Lang, one of the greatest Premiers New South Wales has ever had. That gentleman was always prepared to go right ahead with his policy and to strenuously fight for that which he believed to be right, without asking for any quarter. During the recent election campaign, Senator Glasgow and Senator McLachlan, who were Ministers in the Bruce-Page Government, went into the highways and by-ways and told the farmers that they were their friends. But to-day stud rams and ewes are being exported to Russia, South Africa and other countries where valuable flocks are being raised and their wool is entering into strong competition with one of Australia’s staple commodities. About 30 years ago, wattle seedlings were exported to South Africa with the result that wattle bark can now be produced in that country at such a ridiculously low rate that it can be exported to Australia and sold at a price much below that at which the local article can be. marketed. Years ago the wattle bark trade was worth millions of pounds to Australia, but our trade in that direction is not only seriously challenged by South African producers, but actually taken out of our hands. The wattle bark industry is now worth £2,000,000 a year to the Union of South Africa. If an embargo is not placed upon the exportation of stud rams and ewes from Australia it will not be long before wool producers in that country will be seriously competing with the woolgrowers in Australia. Previous administrations have allowed stud sheep to leave this country.
– Is the Government which the honorable senator is supporting going to prevent that ?
– My word it is! Senator Guthrie, speaking on the wool industry, stated that: -
We had 10 per cent, of the world’s sheep, which produced 27 per cent, of the world’s wool, in value they produced on the average twice as much as the average of the sheep in the rest of the world.
In merino wool, which is what really counts, as it is a pure breed, Australia produced over 50 per cent, of the world’s output nf merino. In the year 1928 Australia produced from 100,000,000 sheep, 050,000,000 lb. of wool, valued at £09,000,000.
At the time at which the honorable senator was speaking £69,000,000 worth of wool was produced from 106,000,000 sheep. It will not be long before South Africa, and a portion of French Morocco, will be serious competitors of Australia in the wool business. I am not a wool expert, but I have been informed that the woollen manufacturers of Bradford have reported that the South African fleeces are brittle, and do not possess the fine long texture of the Australian fleeces. Senator Glasgow, who, I understand, has pastoral interests, has never advocated an embargo upon the exportation of stud sheep. Senator Guthrie continued -
Unfortunately, owing to the enormous increase in the consumption of artificial fibres, such as so-called artificial silk so-called artificial wool, plus the serious increase in the production of fine quality merino wool in South Africa, there has been a tremendous fall in the price of wool. During the last twelve months values have fallen by 35 to 40 per cent., even a fall of 33 per cent. - £23,000,000.
Thanks to the unrestricted export of our high class stud merino sheep to South Africa, the wool clip of that country has increased from 300,000 bales to 000,000 bales in the last 30 years, and from a miserable mongrel wool of low value per lb. they are now producing wool of equal quality (though not so good a yield when scoured) as wo are in Australia. South Africa boasts they are now so well established in the merino stud sheep industry that they can afford to do without any more Australian merino rams - well, perhaps, but let them try! They have never allowed the export of ostriches, ostrich eggs, or angora goats (mohair) from South Africa, and they put a very high duty upon our products such as wheat, flour, &c.
It is my opinion that without the almost continuous introduction of stud merino sheep from Australia the South African sheep will deteriorate and produce less wool, though admittedly fine wool (the country does that).
Why sell our great national industry, our birthright, to South Africa or Russia. The ox port of our stud sheep only assists a very few of our big merino breeders, and we are building up serious competition to our greatest industry.
– The Graziers Association, which should know its own business, has never declared itself in favour of an embargo.
– I am not responsible for the opinions of the graziers. Senator Guthrie, who is perhaps the most reliable authority on the wool industry in this country, has definitely stated that if these exports are allowed to .continue our wool industry will be seriously endangered. It has been left to the Scullin Government to take this matter in hand and endeavour to protect Australia’s most important industry.
The Bruce-Page Government, which professed to be a friend to the farmers, disposed of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, which was the only bulwark Australia had against the British shipping ring. Mr. Bruce was well and truly defeated in Flinders by a man named Holloway, a Labour representative. This great joss worshipped by the Nationalists had his head in the clouds but his feet were ‘of clay ; when he was put to the test at the poll he fell and his party with him. In his capacity as a private citizen is he trying to arrange a come-back?
– He will be back here pretty soon.
– Yes, through the back door. He will never come back as Prime Minister. The people of the country were never consulted about the sale of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and if the present Prime Minister orders an investigation into that sale there may be another tale to tell.
I am sorry that Senator Sir George Pearce is not here to-night. It is rumoured that he contemplates a trip to Tasmania. I am told that he has appointed himself chief Nationalist organizer for by-elections. He may do all right in Tasmania, but if any byelection occurs in New South “Wales, I am afraid he will not make very much progress.
The other day he said a lot about the coal situation. No doubt the majority of honorable senators will candidly admit that the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin), the moment he assumed control, endeavoured to do something to bring the present trouble to an end. He failed because of the limitation of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth. I feel sure that the Leader of the Government will ask the people to extend the Commonwealth power. The sooner it is clone, the better it will be for the progress of Australia. So far as I am concerned, John Brown and Charlie McDonald will not be permitted to rule the destinies of this country. They did not put the coal where it is. It was put there for the use of every man and woman in the land. We know what His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales said after he made his inspection of the coal-mining districts of Great Britain. If he returned to Australia and went through the mining fields where John Brown and Charlie McDonald and other colliery proprietors are starving thousands of men and keeping 12,000 nien out of work, I am sure he would say the same thing.
– The honorable senator is talking rubbish.
– It was not rubbish when you were prepared to lead troopers to ride down, the shearers on strike in Queensland.
– The honorable senator must address the Chair.
– It is said of Mr. Weaver, the Minister for Mines in New South Wales, that he has declared that until the heavens fall coal will be produced by the miners of the Maitland district. Knowing the miners of that district well, I can at once say that Mr. Weaver is a liar. Men, who would not work under the scab conditions laid down by John Brown and the other coal proprietors, would not work for the State under the conditions provided at Rothbury. I speak as one who worked in the mines of New South Wales and also in New Zealand prior to enlisting for the war in 1914. The miners of the Maitland district sent two regiments for the defence of Australia and the Empire, and to-day thousands of them bear the scars of battle. Did they return to allow John Brown to starve their women and children? We are hampered by the limited constitutional powers of the Commonwealth. I believe ri the unification plank of the Labour party’s platform. 1 regard it as utterly wrong that State jurisdiction should be allowed to hold up action on the part of the National Parliament. It is a condition of affairs that must be altered, and I believe that even in our lifetime something will be done in the direction of unification.
I have in my hand a printed Senate notice-paper on which appear certain questions. The first deals with a deed poll relating to the addition of the name of “ Digger “ to “ James Patrick “ before my surname. I have ascertained that these questions were taken off the noticepaper, and that they were to be asked with a personal motive.
– The honorable senator. is not in order in discussing a question which has been withdrawn and is not now on the notice-paper.
– But these were printed, and I saw them in print. I have no need to apologize for what was done for me by a member of the legal profession. For years I have been so frequently called “Digger,” that the impression got about that I was not possessed of any Christian names. I am not ashamed of James Patrick. There is a good solid Irish sound about my Christian names. Senator. Elliott then went on to ask for some particulars about my Avar service. I can give him those particulars. As a member of the Australian Navy I was one of the landing force which left Australia on the 16th August, 1914, for German New Guinea. Strange to say, Mr. Ridley, one of the Senate messengers, was one of my noncommissioned officers. At that particular time Sir Neville Howse was in charge of the hospital arrangements. When we returned from New Guinea I was received into the Balmain Hospital as a malaria patient. When I was certified O.K. again I joined up with the naval bridging train, still serving under Noncommissioned Officer Ridley, and also under Non-Commissioned Officer George Maunder, one of the senior permanent waiters in the refreshment room of this building. I have, therefore, ample evidence on the spot about my soldiering. I soldiered on in Egypt and elsewhere for five years and one month, and I went and returned with a clean record both physically and otherwise. I soldiered on and took my share of the heat and the burden of the day to the best of my ability. I shall not apologize to Senator H. E. Elliott for the part that I took in the great war. I admit that all credit is due to the honorable senator for the part that he played in that upheaval. I served Under him, andI know that he was a good soldier, but I deprecate his personal attack upon me.
– I thank you, Mr. President, for your timely warning, as I do not wish to trangress the Standing Orders. I was paid for my soldiering job, and on returning to Australia resumed my civil vocation at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. My eldest brother, Thomas, was killed at the war. My brother, Joseph, served for five years, and was personally decorated by the King of Belgium. My brother, William, served for five years, while my brother, John Edward, served for three and a half years, enlisting when only 17. He was shot through the right eye, and may be totally blind in four or five years’ time. My sister, Katherine, also played her part in the war. Yet, in this National Senate, I was insulted by a man under whom I served abroad. What was the underlying motive of that direct personal attack?
– I think that the honorable senator has gone far enough with what I can only regard as a personal explanation.
– I thank you, Mr. President, for giving me the opportunity to vindicate myself. I have no wish to indulge in personalities, and I seek no mercy from honorable senators opposite in the pursuance of my political duties. If there are to be any more wars outside the coastline of Australia, I for one shall not go. I was going to explain why, but shall refrain from doing so, as I might hurt somebody’s feelings.
Quite a lot has been said in relation to the defence policy of the Labour party. I shall read that plank of our platform as set out by the executive in 1927. It reads -
Amendment of Defence Act to secure -
That is plain enough. Members of the Labour party went to the country pledged to that platform, and they were returned to power. The platform is endorsed not by only five or six men, but by the representatives of Labour, in conference assembled. Therefore, neither I nor my colleagues are prepared to apologise for the abolition of military training. We realize that the compulsory system was regarded as a huge joke, a futility which necessitated the expenditure of vast sums of money.
Senator Sir George Pearce sneered at the introduction of the volunteer system. I remind the right honorable gentleman that that system gave to Australia many fine soldiers, including Major-General Sir William Glasgow, who did his job well on the other side; General Monash, General Chauvel, Major-Genera] Sir Charles Rosenthal, and MajorGeneral Sir Joseph Hobbs, who was in charge of the Fifth Australian Division. It also gave us Brigadier-General Senator H. E. Elliott.I regret the cheap sneers that have been cast upon the proposed uniform for the volunteer force, the references to kilts, and such like. At one stage I felt inclined to suggest that Senator Reid should be clad in kilts in order that he might act as a sample unit of a Queensland kilted regiment; but I did not’ wish to be personal. I believe that the Scullin Government has displayed sound common sense in its handling of our defence problem. Senator Sir George Pearce allowed himself to become “ all hot and bothered “ over the proposal. Let me go back to the year 1901, to see what the right honorable gentleman then advocated. Speaking in the Adelaide public park on the 4th August of that year he said : -
In this bill we are face to face with one of the greatest dangers that have ever confronted the people of Australia. . . . Born as we are in the atmosphere of liberty and free government, we will not become part of a force which strikes deeply at the root of free government as this bill does. . . . The bill had its origin in the mind of the military commandants, but the string they played upon to dupe a credulous public was our White Australia policy. We have insulted our neighbours, not by the object of our desire, but by the method we have adopted to attain it, and therefore we fear reprisals.
The extract is available to honorable senators should they care to read it.
Surely honorable senators opposite recognize the inconsistency of spending millions of pounds on a system of compulsory military training, and at the same time supporting the Kellogg Peace Pact, and the disarmament ambitions of the League of Nations. Are they sincere in their desire that there should not be another war?
– Nobody wants another war.
– God forbid that there should be another war such as the last. I feel confident that men like Senator Cooper, who lost a limb at that war, do not advocate that we should indulge in one.
– If another war of a similar nature to the last occurred, I should be prepared to participate in it.
– With all due respect to my ex-comrade, Senator Cooper, I should allow him to go, but I would remain out of it. I shall deal with our Naval Board, on which there are three members, pensioners of the Imperial Navy.
– It is impossible to train an Admiral in a year or two.
– I should like to see at least one Australian on that board.
– There is an Australian on it.
– Then I should like to see two Australians on it.
– In a few years it will be composed wholly of Australians.
– I hope so. I regret that £7,000,000 was spent overseas to construct the ships of our Australian Navy. I do not blame Senator Sir William Glasgow for that expenditure, as he was only one of a cabinet. I suggest that we have the men with the necessary ability to supervise the construction of war ships in Australia when they are needed. I hope that the present Government will embark on a scheme of ship building.
The following comprehensive list of organizations in Victoria, which are associated with the world disarmament move ment, should convince honorable senators opposite that the peace movement is growing : -
Amalgamated Food Preserving Employees’ Union of Australia.
Amalgamated Society of Engineers.
Australian Baby Carriage and Wickerworkers’ Association.
Australian Boot Trade Employees’ Federation.
Australian Brushmakers’ Union.
Australian Builders’ Labourers’ Federation.
Australian Catholic Federation.
Australian Labour Party (Victorian Central Executive).
Australian Labour Party - Women’s Central Organizing Committee.
Australian Natives’ Association (Victoria).
Australian Railways Union.
Australian Saddlery, Leather, &c., Allied Workers’ Trades’ Employees’ Federation - Saddlery, Leather and Canvas Section.
Australian Saddlery, Leather, &c., Allied Workers’ Trades’ Employees’ Federation - Tanning & Leather Dressing Section.
Australian Student Christian Movement.
Australian Timber Workers’ Union.
Australian Tramway Employees’ Association.
Australian Tramway Employees’ Association (Victorian Branch No. 2).
Australian Workers’ Union.
Ballarat Ministers’ Fraternal.
Baptist Union of Victoria.
Bendigo Peace Alliance.
Billposters’ Union of Victoria.
Blacksmiths’ Society of Australia.
Business and Professional Women’s Association.
Church of England.
Church of England Men’s Society.
Citizens’ Education Fellowship.
Collins Street Baptist Church.
Conference of Churches of Christ.
Congregational Union of Victoria (Public Questions Committee)
Council of Churches in Victoria.
Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Federated Carters’ and Drivers’ Industrial Union of Australia.
Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia.
Federated Confectioners’ Association of Australia.
Federated Engine Drivers’ and Firemen’s Association of Australasia.
Federated Furnishing Trade Society of Australasia.
Federated Lift Attendants’ Union of Australia.
Federated Liquor and Allied Trade Employees’ Union of Australasia.
Federated Millers and Mill Employees’ Association.
Federated Miscellaneous Workers’ Union.
Federated Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
Federated Tobacco Workers’ Union of Australasia.
Foreign Journalists’ Association.
Free Religious Fellowship.
Greek Orthodox Church.
Henry George League.
Hibernian Australian Catholic Benefit Society.
Incorporated Association of Registered Teachers of Victoria.
Independent Order of Rechabites.
Institute of Pacific Relations.
Labour Guild of Youth.
League of Nations Union.
Loyal Orange Institution of Victoria.
Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows.
Manufacturing Grocers’ Employees’ Federation,
Melbourne Society of the New Church.
Methodist Church of Australia.
National Council of Women of Victoria.
Operative Painters’ and Decorators’ Union of Australia.
Presbyterian Church of Victoria.
Printing Industry Employees’ Union of Australia.
Purple Cross Service of Victoria.
Sheet-Metal Working Industrial Union of Australia.
Shop Assistants’ & Warehouse Employees’ Federation of Australia.
Socialist Party of Victoria.
Society of Friends.
Theosophical Order of Service.
Toc H League of Women Helpers.
Trades Hall Council.
Travellers’ Aid Society.
Unitarian Christian Church.
Victorian Band of Hope Union.
Victorian Christian Endeavour Union.
Victorian Conference of Seventh Day Adventists.
Victorian Plasterers’ Society.
Victorian Teachers’ Union.
Victorian Trades Union Salaried Officers’ Association.
Victorian Women Citizens’ Movement.
Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Victoria.
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
Wooland Basil Workers’ Federation of Australia.
Workers’ Educational Association of Victoria.
Young Men’s Christian Association of Melbourne.
Young Women’s Christian Association.
At the biggest convention of its kind held in Australia, over which the late Mr. Justice Higgins presided, a resolution in favour of international peace was agreed to. The movement is now world-wide. I invite Senator Glasgow and Senator Pearce to contest an election on the issue of the abolition of compulsory military training by the present Labour Govern ment. My advice to those honorable senators is, that if they desire to retain their comfortable seats in this chamber and their names on the Commonwealth pay roll, the less they have to say about that act of the Scullin Government the better.
I desire to refer to the suspension of assisted migration. Senator H. E. Elliott’s bed-time story about Southern Europeans brought me almost to the verge of tears. It affected Senator Rae in much the same way, for he asked for a handkerchief. Senator H. E. Elliott said nothing about our Australianborn citizens; his whole concern was for the Southern Europeans. As a trade union leader, I congratulate the Government on its action in relation to the suspension of assisted migration. Owing to the maladministration of Nationalist Governments in the States, and of the BrucePage Government, a great deal of unemployment exists in Australia to-day. The ex-Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) was aptly described by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) before he became Minister for Trade and Customs, as the most tragic Treasurer Australia had ever known, for during his term of office, a considerable surplus was turned into a huge deficit. I say nothing against Dr. Earle Page other than as a Treasurer, for I know him to be a good surgeon and physician. For a couple of years I lived in the district he served on the north coast of New SouthWales. His name there is a household word - not as a financier, but as a physician and surgeon. It is certainly a tragedy to have as Federal Treasurer a man who says that two and two make five. The empty Treasury coffers bequeathed by the ex-Treasurer to his successor reminds me of the nursery rhyme -
Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard
To get her poor dog a bone;
But when she got there, the cupboard was bare.
Arid so the poor dog got none.
Fortunately for Australia, we now have a Treasurer who knows that two and two make four.
I am. proud to support a Government which has the courage to say to the people of Australia, and, indeed to the world, that it places Australia first. Senator Payne spoke of the “clear Old Country.” I realize that Australia has a lot to thank the Mother Country for; but the time has come when we should put Australia first and build up our own industries. The new tariff schedule will enable thousands of workers now unemployed to obtain work in Australian factories. Our newspapers recently contained the information that Birmingham was greatly upset by ‘the introduction of a new tariff by the Commonwealth Government. The Labour party offers no apology to Birmingham, or to any people anywhere, for its fiscal policy. I look forward to the day when we shall not only have a higher tariff but when we shall build our own ships. We should adopt the principle of the people of the United States and say that all Australian ships should be built in Australia.
The Labour Daily, the official organ of the Labour movement, has summarized Labour’s ideals in these words -
An effective tariff wall - Australian matches are just as good as any imported . . .
Establish and foster secondary industries - whoever has seen a small-priced Australian clock or watch?
Open up industrial research laboratories - oil from coal analine dies, artificial silk.
Decentralization - build dams, conserve water and give the workers on these big jobs the right to take up and develop land, which will be improved by these schemes. -
Home marketing - teach the young idea to think now that we have abolished shooting.
Good paths - we are getting good roads, out people are killed from being forced to walk on them by neglect of our paths.
Stabilization of interest rates - building and manufactories are sorely hit by the high fluctuating rates now charged.
Abolition of legal parasites - these bugs crush the life out of the little man in industry by their “procuration” and other fictitiously captioned greedy imports.
Secondary industries bank - some institution which will not require a game man to pledge his soul if he is starting a new factory.
Inventions - encouragement and protection of local inventors so that they will not be forced to soil their brains abroad.
And so on. The Scullin Government was returned with an enormous majority in another place only a few weeks ago, and I venture to say that when it faces the electors again to give an account of its administration it will be returned puce more with an enormous majority, not only in another place, hut in this chamber also. I am afraid that my friend, Senator Reid, as well as Senator Cox, Senator Thompson and Senator E. B. Johnston, will be among the missing. As for Senator McLachlan, he will have such a crash .in South Australia that he will be convinced that his opponents have put the political hammer lock on him. The Scullin Government has given ample evidence of its determination to “ deliver the goods.” It has proved itself to be a virile administration, and I am satisfied that, as the result of its efforts, Ave shall hear no more about the so-called “ red “ influence.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Plain). - Order! The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– On behalf of the Government I offer congratulations to the Right Hon. Sir George Pearce upon his elevation to the position of Leader of the Opposition, and to Sir William Glasgow upon his election as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I sincerely trust that the happy relations which existed between those twi during the term when I Avas leading the Opposition will be long continued. Even at the risk of offending Senator Ogden I express the wish that he will long remain in his present position on the Opposition benches.
There are many aspects of the debate to which I should like to refer, but we have a fairly long business-paper and time is valuable. We are expecting a number of measures from another place shortly, and if Parliament is to rise on the date contemplated, we must push on with the business. I believe we can finish within the time fixed if Ave cease talking about these bogeys of bolshevism, and the unseen influences that are alleged to be disrupting the Labour movement. I am inclined to think that if a Labour Ministry had been in office when the seat of Government Avas transferred to Canberra, Senator Lynch would have blamed it for the colour of the carpet in this chamber, and Senator Ogden would have concurred, because both honorable senators affect to believe that anything Avith a. tinge of red in it is evidence of our association Avith some hidden force in
Russia. I can assure both honorable gentlemen, however, that the Government, which I have the honour to lead in this chamber, owes no allegiance to any outside political body. They need have no fear that we intend to link up with outside forces and bring about a revolution in Australia, because as I pointed out by way of interjection earlier in the debate, even if some people believed there was the need for a revolutionary change, the necessity for it disappeared when the democracy of Australia returned Labour to power a few weeks ago.
There seems to be a complete misunderstanding on the part of honorable senators opposite, as to what is the Government’s policy concerning some of the matters mentioned in the Speech of his Excellency the Governor-General. Senator Pearce mentioned what he termed a series of destructive administrative acts, and quoted particularly the proposal of the Government to suspend compulsory military training. I do not propose to traverse the arguments employed by honorable senators on this subject. All I wish to do is to remind them that the Labour party’s platform has been before the people for many years, and even if the former Prime Minister did force an election upon one issue, Labour candidates declared that if returned to power, Labour would not only maintain the federal system of arbitration, but would give legislative effect to every plank in its platform.
– That is a pretty big order.
– We gave a pledge that we should give effect to our policy to the fullest extent possible. We realize that we are up against a stiff proposition. One of our promises was that we would remove from the fair name of Australia the stigma of conscription of her youth.
– Of course it is a stigma. Only one dominion in the Empire now conscripts its youth for military service. Even the Mother Country has not conscription. How can we, as a people, talk about disarmament if we continue to conscript our manhood for military service?
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that our system of compulsory military service was comparable to conscription as it is known in other countries ?
– Under that system we were conscripting the youth and denying to them the opportunity to participate in games in their leisure time, but we did not take that stand with regard to men who had the vote.
– Then what has the honorable senator to say with regard to our compulsory educational system?
– That is designed to fit a lad for his life’s work.
– Similarly military training is designed to fit him to defend his country.
– At the same time it inculcates in a youth a spirit of militarism before he reaches the age at which he is competent to decide for himself. The Government has pledged itself to reduce the military vote by £150,000. We believe this can be done without impairing the efficiency of our defence system. Although certain honorable senators opposite have earned renown in military service not one of them, during this debate, succeeded in proving that our estimate was an over-statement of the case, and not one was able to demonstrate that the voluntary system, which we propose to establish will not be at least as adequate for the defence of Australia as was our compulsory system.
It has been alleged that the abolition of compulsory training will leave Australia defenceless. That I deny. Honorable senators on this side are just as sincere as are honorable senators opposite in their desire to see this country adequately safeguarded.
– The evidence is against the honorable senator and his party.
– I listened to the honorable senator for about an hour and a half, and he failed to produce one tittle of evidence that would satisfy any reasonable person that he had established his case. He said in effect, that in suspending compulsory military training, the Government was playing up to the reds, but he did not tell the Senate what was our expenditure under the compulsory system, and what would be saved under the voluntary system. Senator Glasgow said that possibly the Labour party’s proposal would meet with some success, but he doubted it.
– I proved that the voluntary system was more expensive than the compulsory system.
– The honorable senator quoted the figures when the rate of pay was 8s., as against 4s. per day. At a rate of 8s. per day it would be more expensive than under the compulsory system. Does the honorable senator think that we have not learned anything during recent years in the matter of military organization ?
– The members of the Government know nothing concerning military organization, and did not even consult the heads of the Defence Department about the proposed change.
– That may be of benefit to the taxpayers, considering that although we had so many generals on the Ministerial side for several years, during that time, £64,000,000 was spent on defence, and all we have to show for such expenditure is the somewhat insignificant fleet, which spents most of its time in Sydney. It may be of advantage to the taxpayers to have a government consisting of men somewhat inexperienced in military organization, and who take the views of expert military men who are not influenced by party politics.
– But the Government has not taken the advice of the military authorities.
– At present the Minister for Defence (Mr. A. Green) is conferring with the principal military officers. The Government did not confer with the department concerning the abolition of compulsory military training, as we definitely told the people prior to the general elections that, if we were returned to power, compulsory military training would be abolished.
– “Why did not the Government seek the advice of the military authorities concerning the best method in which to change from the compulsory to the voluntary system?
– We are doing that now.
– The Government scrapped the compulsory system before it conferred with the officers of the Defence Department.
– We suspended compulsory military training, and perhaps we were safe in assuming that Australia would not be invaded during the short period in which the new organization would be built up. I do not think it will be long before the voluntary system will be at least as efficient as that which has now been abolished. It will then be our proud boast that, in this respect, we stand side by side with every other dominion in the British Empire, with the exception of New Zealand.
– The Government is giving a premium to men who do not want to serve.
– My belief is that the success of the Australian soldiers during the Great War was due to the fact that they were not conscripts, and when Senator Ogden knows a little more concerning Australia’s manhood, he will realize that we can do more with a man by guiding him than driving him.
– It is a pity that principle is not applied in connection with trade unionism.
– The honorable senator and those with whom he is associated have never attempted to get down to the fundamental causes of industrial unrest. At the first sign of an industrial disturbance the Nationalist Government proceeded to accentuate the trouble. The Transport Workers Act, which is regarded by honorable senators opposite as a most beneficent piece of legislation and the means of restoring peace on the waterfront, had a most disastrous effect not only upon a number of deserving workers but upon a section of the commercial community.
– It was responsible for industrial peace on the waterfront.
– It is very easy for the honorable senator sitting in comfortable surroundings to speak in that strain, but he has never taken the trouble to ascertain the effect of the late Government’s action in that respect. The Transport Workers Act was responsible for driving, men, women and children to the verge of starvation, and seriously interfering with the activities of business-men.
– That is not so.
– If the . honorable senator would visit Port Adelaide he would see in one street six or seven shops which were closed in one week as the result of the introduction of the licensing system.
– The same shipping business must be going on and if other men are working on the waterfront there should be no occasion for shops to close.
– The present service on the waterfront is more efficient.
– The honorable senator’s contention is not supported by the information in my possession. One of my first acts after my appointment as a Minister was to conduct an investigation into the licensing system. I interviewed the licensing officer in Melbourne who was asked if he would grant a licence to a man in the last stages of consumption, or one who had just served a term in Pentridge, and he replied “It is quite possible.” I was further informed that 8,935 licences had been issued, although at a peak period work could not possibly be found for more than 4,227 men. The same condition of affairs exists proportionately at Port Adelaide. Notwithstanding this we are informed by honorable senators opposite that the Transport Workers Act has been the means of promoting industrial peace.
– So it has. There has been peace on the waterfront in Queensland since the system has been introduced.
– I am as conversant with the conditions on the Australian wharves as is Senator Glasgow and I know that it is not the Australian stevedores who are keeping the waterside workers from their employment, but the British shipping interests, which had the support of the late Government. 1 ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Daly) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Daly) read a first time.
Business of the Senate.
.- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
As mentioned in my opening remarks on the Address-in-Reply, we shall soon be receiving a good deal of business from another place and it will be necessary to expedite the work of the Senate. I understand that several honorable senators opposite still wish to speak on the Address-in-Reply and also on the Estimates and Budget papers. In these circumstances I ask honorable senators to come prepared to sit for an hour or so later to-morrow in an endeavour to dispose of the Address-in-Reply and the budget and thus enable us to deal on Friday with the two measures, the first reading of which I have just moved. If that cannot be done I shall have to ask the Senate to sit on Tuesday of next week. There are also other measures coming from another place and in order that I may be able to regulate the business of the Senate and to meet the convenience of honorable senators who desire some freedom during the week-end I ask them to assist in disposing of the Address-in-Reply and the budget by to-morrow night. If that be done an adjournment can be made from Friday until Wednesday; if not I shall have to ask the Senate to meet on Tuesday next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 November 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19291127_senate_12_122/>.