4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask .the honorable member for Ballarat a, question. Is it true, as stated in the press, that he said recently at Ballarat thai the Customs imports are increasing by millions of pounds every year, and that the Customs Tariff ought to be- -
– Order I An honorable member may put a question to another honorable member only in relation to the actual business of the House or to something that has taken place in the House. I was waiting to hear if the honorable member for Capricornia was framing a question of that kind, but I find that he is asking a question in regard to something alleged to have occurred outside this chamber.
– I regret that my vocabulary is such that 1 could not compress within the few words I have uttered the intention of my question. I propose to embody a reference to the motion which the honorable member. for Ballarat has on the business-paper.
– Order 1 The honorable member may not do that.
– I wish to ask the honorable member for Ballarat if it is true that he stated at Ballarat that the Customs Tariff should be revised-
– Order ! Order ! If the honorable member tries to persist in the course which he is now taking, I must prevent him from doing so. He is trying to ask a question about a matter, alleged to have taken place outside this chamber, but he cannot be permitted to do “that.
Air. HIGGS. - I shall put my question in this way : Having stated at Ballarat that the Customs Tariff should be revised
-The honorable member may not ask that question.
– I assure you, sir, that my question has reference to the motion that the honorable member for Ballarat has on the notice- paper. I claim that I am entitled to question the honorable member regarding that motion.
-Order ! I have pointed out that the honorable member may not ask a question of this nature. If he persists in trying to do so, ! shall have to take a course which will prevent him. I ask him not to persist.
– You may take the course which, in your wisdom, you deem fit, but let me suggest to you-
-I name the honorable member for wilfully disregarding the ruling of the Chair.
– It is my duty to uphold the position taken up by our presiding officer, but before going further I suggest that the honorable member for Capricornia be afforded an opportunity to withdraw from the position in which he is placed.
– I might, before a motion is made, explain the question I propose to ask.
-The honorable member may not do that.
Honorable Members. - Withdraw.
– I wish to ask the honorable member for Ballarat-
– The honorable member must withdraw from the position in which he has placed himself.
– Will you kindly tell me what it is that I have to withdraw ?
– The honorable member has deliberately disregarded the ruling of the Chair, and must withdraw from the position in which he has placed himself.
– Will you answer me this question - Do you rule that I am not entitled to ask the honorable member for Ballarat a question concerning a motion which he has on the business-paper ?
– You have ruled, Mr. Speaker, after considerable discussion, that the honorable member for Capricornia may not ask a certain question. I made the suggestion to ‘the honorable member that he should be allowed to withdraw from the position in which he has placed himself.
– I asked to be allowed to explain, but he would not allow me to do so.
– Withdraw what?
– Cease disregarding the ruling of the Chair.
– I withdraw anything that may have conveyed the intention of disobeying the ruling of the Chair. I am extremely desirous of complying with the rules of the House.
– I do not know whether that explanation is acceptable to you, Mr. Speaker.
– I am here to see that the business of the House is conducted in an orderly way, and it is my duty to see that the rules of debate are observed. The honorable member for Capricornia desired to ask a question which I could not allow him to ask, and I told him so more than once, but he tried, or I thought he tried, to evade my ruling, and under the circumstances I had no other course than that which I took. If the honorable member for Capricornia desires to apologize to the House, and to withdraw from the position which he has taken up, the matter will end.
– If the House deems that an apology from me is necessary, I freely tender it. I have no desire to resent your ruling, or to behave in an unseemly manner, but I should like to be allowed to proceed with my question. Under standing order 92, I am entitled to ask a member a question concerning any business he may have on the notice-paper, and I wish to know from the honorable member for Ballarat why it is that, when he put his notice of motion on the business-paper, he did not state in it - seeing that he holds certain views-
-The honorable member will see that he is. trying to evade my ruling. I ask him not to do so.
– I move that your ruling, that I may not ask my question, be disagreed with.
– The honorable member must state his objection in writing. The honorable member has handed in a motion dissenting from my ruling, in the following terms : -
That the ruling of Mr. Speaker that the honorable member for Capricornia cannot ask a question of the honorable member for Ballarat concerning a motion he has on the business-paper be disagreed to.
Before asking whether this motion is seconded, I would point out to the honorable member for Capricornia that there is no such motion as that to which he refers on the business-paper. I remind the House that what took place yesterday was that the honorable member for Ballarat rose to speak on the Address-in-Reply. I called on the honorable member, and although there was some arrangement between him and the Prime Minister, the motion to which the honorable member for
Capricornia has referred, as honorable members will see from the business-paper, was not allowed to come on because no notice of motion could have been given at that time. The honorable member for Ballarat could only have concluded his address with a motion of that description. As he has not yet moved his motion the honorable member for Capricornia will see that the question he proposed to ask would not be in order. In the circumstances, I advise him to withdraw the motion of dissent from my ruling which he has handed in.
– Will you tell, me, sir, whether the motion which the” Honorable member for Ballarat intends to move, and has given notice of, is not business before the House?
– I point out to the honorable member that, so far as I am concerned, there is no business before the House at present but the Address-in-Reply. Do I understand the honorable member to persist with his motion?
– Is the motion seconded? There being no seconder the motion cannot be received.
Debate resumed from 20th June (vide page 68), on motion by Mr. Bennett -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
.- The Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General is one of the longest that I remember. It touches upon far more topics than is usually the case, and if I may say so, without disrespect, throws no light whatever upon any of them. The honorable member for Werriwa is to be congratulated upon having had an easier task in moving the Address-in-Reply to this Speech than he had in endeavouring to anticipate the policy underlying it in the recent addresses he delivered to his constituents. The nature of the Speech relieves me of the obligation of touching upon more than a few of the paragraphs, and then chiefly by way of reference to omissions. In point of fact, the omissions from this Speech are far more eloquent than the statements contained in it.
For instance, the assurance that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank has not only been appointed, but is actually engaged upon his duties might raise a question as to what those duties are. Apparently his first duty- is to start a new Australian Savings Bank for the purpose of competing with State and other Savings Banks now operating throughout Australia. The distinguishing feature of the banks already in existence is that the moneys received from the citizens of Australia are employed in Australia and. in each case within the State in which they have been deposited. The consequence of this very wise and fruitful course has been a material assistance in the development of the agricultural and other interests of Australia. Now the proposition appears to be to start a Commonwealth Savings Bank, which, competing in every State with the States Savings Banks, shall make any funds received available for general Commonwealth purposes, many of which if they are not to be met out of taxation or from resources already available, ought to be met otherwise than by demands upon any local funds available in Australia for local purposes. ‘ I do not desire to see expenditure inflated, and, least of all, to see borrowing abroad resorted to when that necessity can be avoided. But why deplete our local resources already found too limited ? I say frankly, and without hesitation, that we ought not to divert moneys which have hitherto been devoted to the practical work of settling Australia by developing its interior and by cultivating its soil to official purposes which, being in every sense Government purposes, most of them not productive in the same sense, should be met out of taxation or by application to more extended money markets abroad, which are not available for the cultivator, or for persons entering upon new industries in this country.
– How does the honorable member account for the fact that the existing banks can only give depositors2½ and 3 per cent., and can give the big men 4 per cent. ?
– Order !
– When that question of large and small deposits arises in connexion with a practical proposal, I will reply to the honorable member, but it would take me too long now. Let the honorable member consider’ the length of the Speech with which I have to ‘deal.
– Why deal with an empty speech ?
– Evidently I am going to have a great deal of volunteer assistance in replying.
– Let the honorable member tell us about the Tariff.
– I shall do so before I sit down. A Federal Savings Bank will obviously injure, rather than help, our rural population and land settlement.
We are told’ that the Australian Notes Act is working satisfactorily. I am glad to hear it. We are not reminded that it is only working at present under a verbal undertaking from the Prime Minister that until after the next election no advantage shall be taken of the provision in an Act passed last session, allowing the Treasurer at his pleasure to greatly diminish the gold reserve hitherto held against these notes. That question does not arise at this moment. The Act stands on the statutebook, but it is a fact of which the electors require to be continuously reminded;
Finding from paragraph 8 of the Speech that -
It is hoped that an early opportunity will present itself for settling the question of the consolidation of State debts.
I am inclined to ask the Prime Minister to oblige us when he addresses the House with a definition of “an early opportunity.” In 1910 it was pointed out that this very Act was becoming more urgent as time passes, and it was hoped then that “an early opportunity” would present itself. Apparently the .Government do not go in search of opportunities. The opportunity is to “ present itself.” It is to arrive in some mysterious fashion self shaped, so as to bring about the consolidation of the State debts. The only encouragement we derive from this paragraph is that the “ early opportunity “ has not yet altogether passed by. A glance at paragraph 8 will show honorable members that it has still to come knocking at the Ministerial door at some convenient hour before the Ministry will receive it or introduce it to the House.
Next comes one of the really startling statements, of the Speech. It is set out that-
Although there has been a very marked increase in the volume of oversea immigration, to which the land tax and general policy of my advisers has largely contributed-
At that I come to a dead pause, unable to finish the sentence. Stupefaction is the only state of mind that can result from the perusal of that assertion. In the first place, as to the land tax, analysis shows that a very large proportion of the subdivisions have been made either between partners, or families, or relations, already interested in the estates, so that this great body of subdivisions imply no increase whatever in the population. A large number of the other subdivisions require only to be measured, as no doubt other honorable members are aware, by the returns- for preceding years to show precisely the extent to which that statement can be given any weight whatever.
– They show that there has been a decrease.
– In some States there will be shown a decrease, and in others a slight increase. I am grouping the States together, and do not delay over the figures.
As to the “ general policy of my advisers,” that is a very judicious phrase to use, because what the general policy of His Excellency’s advisers is no one understands. I do not know whether honorable members opposite are even yet acquainted with what the Government may be pleased to present as their particular policy. We know either of them only as far as it has been announced or acted upon, and in neither of these branches of their policy is there anything that can possibly be pointed to as encouragement to immigration. On the contrary, it was only at the beginning of this year that the Minister of External Affairs, commenting on an article in The Times as to the populating of Australia, said the Commonwealth Ministry were ready at all times to co-operate with the States, but that until that co-operation was sought the Commonwealth could not interfere. Honorable members will recollect that this co-operation was sought formally, pursuant to the following resolution of the Premiers’ Conference: -
That the Commonwealth be asked to provide 25,000 assisted passages per annum for immigrants, arranging with the shipping companies and paying the cost of transportation on a uniform basic .rate, the States to select the immigrants and place them, as at present, and any State being at liberty to supplement the number of assisted passages allotted to it at the same rate.
The reply of our Commonwealth Ministers was that “ they had given careful consideration to the proposal contained in the letter of 6th February, that the resolution of the recent Premiers’ Conference quoted appeared to amount to a recommendation that the Commonwealth should contribute a sum of, approximately, £150,000 a year to the cost of the work of introducing immigrants to Australia now carried out by the State Governments, without their altering any of the other arrangements incidental to that policy, and that, in their opinion, it would not be wise to introduce a divided control.” They had just complained that there was no divided “ control “ - that the “ control “ was to be left wholly in the hands of the States. It is, therefore, not very clear what they meant by that reference. The proposition was that the States should continue to hold themselves responsible for the selection of the immigrants, and that the Commonwealth was simply to finance their voyage here. We had nothing else to do. If that is a divided control, it is so only in a narrow and special sense. It is not difficult for anybody to pay for anybody else’s passage. The complaint of this Government was that all they were asked to do was to pay for the passages, and then they objected that this meant a divided control. I think the Minister will find it hard to reconcile those statements. Either it is not a divided control, or, if it is, it must mean something more which was not then and is not now clear to the Commonwealth Cabinet or any one else.
– It did mean divided control.
– It is very good of the honorable member to try to help Ministers when they cannot reply for themselves. The Commonwealth Ministers said that they were unable to recommend the Federal Parliament to vote funds for the purpose. Here was their Minister for External Affairs complaining that their Government had not been invited to co-operate. He held out the invitation that they should be invited to act. They were invited, and then said “ No.” Apparently, saying “No” and doing nothing is the part of the “ general policy of my advisers “ which has largely contributed to the increase of the population of the Commonwealth. I cannot find any trace of anything else being done by the Government which has assisted to increase the Commonwealth’s population ; and, therefore, admit that the conundrum involved in this statement is one which, personally, I am obliged to give up.
The second part of the paragraph contains a very far-reaching proposal. The words “maternity grant” will, I think, appeal to the sympathies of every man and every woman in this country, but the vague form in which the proposition has been launched leaves us so far without any conception of its extent or limitations, or the conditions and safeguards with which it is to be surrounded. Until they are laid before us, it would be idle to endeavour to discuss something of which all we know is that it is to be a maternity grant. The speeches made with regard to it indicate that it is to be made of the most general character possible. With that we shall be able to deal in due time.
In the next paragraph, we find that certain Royal Commissions have been appointed. The first of these I notice is the Sugar Commission. The misfortune, as was pointed out last year, is that the appointment of this Commission was made at least twelve months too late. The present condition of that inquiry offers a good deal of ground for comment, which need not be made at this moment. In connexion with the Australian Industries Preservation Act, allusion is made to the action brought against the Coal Vend. I regret that some small amount of heat was generated yesterday in respect to it. There is no necessity, so far as I can see, that, on this particular subject, any member of the Government should be as excitedly sensitive as the Attorney-General was, because, when the case against the Coal Vend was first launched, the Attorney-General publicly dissociated himself from the prosecution. When replying to the complaints of Mr. Edden, then Minister of Mines in New South Wales, who protested that the Coal Vend was an excellent thing for the miners whatever it was for the companies, the AttorneyGeneral, in a public interview, repudiated all responsibility for its prosecution, and placed it upon the Shoulders of our Government - the previous Government - shoulders which are very willing, indeed, to receive it.
– What authority has the honorable member for that statement?
– The statement which’ I read to the House and commented on during the Address-in-Reply debate this time last year. This has been quoted again and again, and never yet challenged or questioned. Having so dissociated himself from the Vend prosecution, it seemed to me quite unnecessary, as well as ill-advised, for the Attorney-General to resent a reference to a fact which is associated with one of the most curious developments that, within my experience, has been witnessed in a Court of the Commonwealth. It appears that on an appeal against the decision arrived at by a Judge of the High Court which penalized a number of parties to the Coal Vend, declaring that there was a vend in existence, that its existence was contrary to the law, and mulcting several of the parties in fines of thousands of pounds, an application for an adjournment of the hearing of the appeal was made on their behalf. This application was concurred in by counsel representing the Crown, that is to say, by the Commonwealth. That was my statement - I have never said more at Ballarat or elsewhere, and cannot say less. The circumstance was brought to the notice of all Australia because the Chief Justice and other members of the High Court exhibited the utmost anxiety to make it clear that they desired to avoid any adjournment which was not absolutely necessary. They showed that they were most anxious to hear and determine the case, and, as one of its authors, may I express the hope that they will uphold the Act. Here, then, we have the spectacle of our highest Judiciary, in the discharge of its judicial duties and actuated strictly by judicial motives, urging on the hearing of a case more important than any of the same kind which has yet been determined in Australia. We have those who had been penalized applying for an adjournment, and that adjournment being assented to by the Crown. The Attorney-General last night gave as the reason for that assent the absence of the Crown Solicitor, and went on to say that arrangements had been made that Mr. Powers should be present when the case again came before the Court. All I have to add is that, from a long experience of that gentleman, I feel sure that no delay which he could avoid has been incurred, and I wish it to be clearly understood that nothing which I have said can be construed as in any way a reflection either upon him, or upon the counsel engaged in this particular case, or upon any other officials who cannot be heard in this House.
I put the case forward as a curious one. It is curious, not only because of the very decided views expressed by the Bench, but also by reason of the concurrence of the Crown in the application made by the other side for an adjourn ment. For if there is one point upon which the people of this country require to be assured by a judicial decision, it is as to the length which we may go to protect this community under the Australian Industries Preservation Act, which our Government was instrumental in placing upon the statute-book. Until that judgment is delivered we are not in a position to fully and fairly criticise any proposals which the present Ministry may bring forward to amend the Constitution in this regard. We have no private ‘interests to serve in this connexion. We have only public interests.. It is absolutely in the interests of the whole of the Commonwealth that the people should be protected from the operations of unjust combinations, and therefore this judgment of the High Court should be obtained at the earliest possible moment. I admit freely that there are many classes of cases at law in regard to which a postponement is a matter of indifference to public men and to the country generally, though it may be of enormous importance to private persons. But this is a case in which the importance to the whole of Australia and to the Parliament of the Commonwealth is transcendent. No excuse can be urged to justify its adjournment for a single hour longer than that at which it can fairly be brought forward. Now I hope that we have this issue right away from personal considerations of all kinds, because it ought not to be in any sense a party question. I have brought the incident forward-
– - Who gets the vote of the trusts?
– Yes, who? I will undertake to say that the honorable member’s party got a great deal more of it at the last election than did any members of our party.
– Only ^100,000 was put into the funds of the party opposite.
– Not a dime.
– Will the honorable member resume his seat? I must ask honorable members to cease these interjections across the chamber. They are disorderly, and they are calculated to prevent the Leader of the Opposition from proceeding with his speech. in the way that he would doubtless like.
– In regard to the question of trusts, I have only to say that, so far as I am aware, our party is not indebted to them for a single sixpence. Further, the policy which we have pursued is one which they must, and do, I believe, in this particular case, bitterly resent.
In paragraph 13 there is a strictly diplomatic allusion, for the first time in any Governor-General’s speech with which my honorable friends opposite have been associated to an Inter-State Commission. That paragraph assures us at last that -
The question of constituting the Inter-State Commission provided for by the Constitution is receiving the serious attention of my advisors.
It is rather a death-bed repentance paragraph. I look forward to the constitution of that tribunal with the greatest eagerness, because if a real effort is to be made to create a tribunal capable of exercising the functions which the Constitution contemplates should be delegated to it, we shall all be delighted. But I confess to looking forward with some apprehension to the personnel of that Commission, in view of recent experiences. I hope it will be realized that this body will be one of the most august tribunals it is possible to create in Australia, and, consequently, that nothing short of the very ablest and most competent men in the Commonwealth ought to be associated with it. ‘
Let us now leap to paragraph 18 of the Vice-Regal Speech, which informs us that -
During the year the construction of the torpedoboat destroyer Warrego at Sydney has been” completed, and the vessel is now in commission.
This is the third of the three destroyers which have been built out of the £250,000 which we put aside for that purpose.
– At our instigation.
– It was put aside several years ago.
– Oh, yes, quite that.
– Since the honorable member for Gwydir is uninformed enough to suggest that he had anything to do with that action-
– Our party had.
– I would like to remind him that the £250,000 in question was put aside by the Government of which I was a member, in opposition to the strongest resistance of a number of honorable members opposite. It was only’ retained there as the result of personal argument with others.
– Oh, there you are ! .
– Even then it was honorable members opposite who imposed the limitation that the money should not be expended that year.
– We spent it.
– That is so; the Government spent it without parliamentary authority, and received an express assurance from me that I would be no party to any challenging of their action afterwards. The money was spent on the very purpose for which we had set it apart. Although a paragraph appeared in the GovernorGeneral’s speech informing us of the completion of the previous two vessels, in no reference to the matter has it ever been pointed out that, at a time several years before the expiration of the Braddon section, when every penny was needed, when the Commonwealth services had to be starved to some extent, awaiting the close of that period, and when £250,000 meant morethan a million pounds does now, we put aside the money to build these destroyers, so thoroughly convinced was the majority of honorable members of the necessity for making defence preparations.
– And the Post Office was starved while this was being done !
– The Post Office undoubtedly suffered, and we regretted it. When we arrived within a year of the expiration of the Braddon period, in view of the large sums of revenue about tocome iri, we entered into engagements, for expenditure on the Post Office which involved nearly half-a-million beyond the actual resources of the year. This is thrownat us by honorable members opposite first as an extravagance. We incurred the expenditure with our eyes open, and! informed the House of what we were doing. The operation of the Braddon section was: about to expire, and we, for the first time,, proposed to incur a temporary deficit for about two years, which could be met out of the increased receipts directly the Braddonperiod was over. At first we estimated the deficit at a much larger amount than actually resulted. It amounted to only about- £450,000. Now, as in the first year after the expiration of the Braddon clause, the new Government received £2,000,000 more than otherwise would have been received, and as it had been foreseen thatsuch an amount would be available, wewere neither unwise or extravagant in incurring in advance the expenditure on the Post Office.
I was sorry to see a reference made by a leading member of the Ministry, during the Werriwa election, to the fact that, when the expenditure on the Post Office was found in arrears, the deficiency had to be made up by the present Government. That is only half the truth, the other half being that, as I have said, we had been crippled by the Braddon clause, but, knowing the revenue was to be increased a few months prior to its termination, we deliberately commenced expenditure which would not all fall due until after the Braddon section had expired. Consequently the claim to have made up out of the Commonwealth receipts the deficiency of the last year of our Government ought to have been accompanied by the statement that extra revenue to a far larger amount was about to become available. We have the taunt from honorable members opposite that we did not do enough for the Post Office, accompanied by the further taunt from the same side, that we were extravagant, and a third taunt that the present Government has been able to meetthe expenditure out of resources, which, it should be remembered, amounted to , £2,000,000 more in that year than was enjoyed by the previous Administration in the year preceding.
But to finish my remarks in regard to the Warrego. This destroyer was built in England - I forget the exact -time occupied in the building - was then taken to pieces and sent to Australia to be ‘put together again. This work has occupied twelve months.
– About two years.
– I am; perhaps, understating the time.
– Is the honorable member for Ballarat against the policy of building these vessels in Australia ?
– No; but I am against a policy of intrusting such work under conditions which afterwards involved a Board of Inquiry, the result of which showed that the management, machinery, and much else at the Fitzroy Dock had to be altered in order to cope with the simple work of putting the vessel together. The whole terms of the contract, with which I cannot afford time to deal, show a lack of foresight, proper provision, and criticism ; and an altogether unwarrantable series of expensive blunders during the composition of the vessel. The work has taken six months longer than was arranged between the Governments, although not a rivet hole had to be bored ; indeed, , the putting together has taken as long as if the vessel had to be made from the raw material.
– From what is the honorable member reading?
– A condensed newspaper report.
– An Argus report?
– No; an Age report.
– Does the honorable member not think that that report shows State prejudice?
– I do not think that an extra six months can be so explained away. We must remember that this is not building a ship, but simply putting a ship together ; and yet six months longer is occupied.
Paragraph 26 of His Excellency’s speech tells us -
It is proposed to proceed with and pass into law the Navigation Bill as a measure of the greatest urgency and importance.
In 1 9 10 the Governor-General’s speech told us that this Bill was to be introduced at an early date, and it was introduced, I believe, in another place, where it has remained for two sessions. In this House it has only been read formally a first time, in October last. So far we have not had a word of debate or explanation. This is one of the longest, most intricate, and important measures ever before us, ‘.and yet we are told, by way either of threat or intimidation, that it is proposed to pass it into law. It is to be hoped we can pass it ; but, in doing so, we must do justice to ourselves as a Commonwealth and to a ‘ measure which is more fraught with difficulties of a technical character than any we have hitherto dealt with. It is a measure on which we ought to be thoroughly informed.
– And the Bill will not be constitutional when we do pass it !
– That is a matter on which I accept the opinion of the honorable member, who is, at least, in touch with those affected by the measure.
Paragraph 31 states that the present Government have accepted a recommendation that the standard gauge of 4 ft. 8½ in. shall be adopted for the Commonwealth railway. But the Government did that last year when they fixed that as the gauge- for the transcontinental railway tp Western Australia. We protested at the time against the consideration of the question of the gauge in connexion with any particular line, seeing that it involved the railway systems of all Australia.
– Whom does the honorable member mean when he says “ we”?
– I mean the Opposition and other honorable members.
– It was the Opposition that carried that gauge against us.
– As I have previously said, this was not a party question.
– Look at the division list !
– I am prepared to look at any division list the honorable member pleases.
– Be accurate, at any rate !
– I am strictly accurate.
– No, the honorable member is not.
– The honorable member either does not understand or is incapable of expressing himself. I am pointing out what the Ministry did ; and if some of the Opposition voted with the Government, does the honorable member propose to penalize honorable members for doing so? If any supporters of the Government voted with us, they were happily entitled in this special instance to act according to conscience and judgment; I only wish more of them had done so. To say that this gauge has been accepted now, when as a matter of fact we became absolutely pledged to it by the Ministry last year, is more than a little “ after the fair.”
Paragraph 34 refers to the forthcoming readjustment of our parliamentary representation; and so far as concerns Victoria, it is said that a curious anomaly exists. We are told that, when the estimate of population was made, Victoria was below the quota necessary to retain two of her present number of members, but that, since then, the Victorian population has risen to such a degree that the representation should be decreased by only one member. By the time this has become law and is effective for all we know, if fhe progress of Victoria continues, it may even be possible that this State should not have lost either of its members. Surely this is a condition of affairs obliging us to ascertain the facts* on which such statements are based; because if an injury to this State is being done a remedy should be found. Even though it would probably be difficult to apply one at the present stage - perhaps, impossible - it is right that attention should be called to the point.
– The readjustment was cartied out according to law, was it not?
– There was some suggestion in the press that the honorable member had impugned the honesty of the Commissioners. Is that so?
– This explains what we thought, that the honorable member’s statement was only for an audience.
– The honorable member is better equipped with invention than the rest of us.
Paragraph 37 of the Speech makes allusion to wireless telegraphy schemes. Is this a convenient way of alluding to difficulties which have been encountered? Because I have just been favoured with a volunteered statement purporting to show that, although the Government say that a chain of stations are being opened, nevertheless there are factors in connexion with the work which call for some explanation. The following telegram has been forwarded to me : - 20 June, 1912.
The Hon. Alfred Deakin, Federal Parliament House, Melbourne. - For your, information wireless position is as follows : - Although Government was offered by us chain of stations cash- indemnity against infringement of twenty thousand pounds and undertaking to complete within three months, they elected to take an unknown system of same size stations designed by Government expert, who was stopped by Marconi in England by Judge Parker for infringing Marconi patents.. Government promised Parliament close last session they would have Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart within six months. Only Melbourne Hobart completed, at twice the cost Government could have obtained from us. Instead of Government getting cash indemnity against infringement of patents Government liashad to give Father Shaw indemnity for making stations, holding him free of all costs and damages for infringement. We are informed! Government has now secretly given Father Shaw order for twenty other stations without calling” for . tenders. Both Marconi and ourselves have instituted proceedings against Government and Father Shaw for infringement of patents. Pennant Hills is now completed, a fortnight ahead of contract time. Government has not yet even, completed drainage of site. As regards our station at Fremantle, we have nearly completed it. although we have until October. - William
McLeod, Chairman Australasian Wireless Company Limited.
I do not know the gentleman who has sent the telegram ; I do not even know, as a matter of fact, who is the chairman of thecompany. But since this telegram on a public matter has been forwarded to me, I read it to the House as being pertinentto the paragraph in the Speech to which T” have referred. Wireless telegraphy is a subject upon which I am ill-informed. I’ assume that this gentleman is personally acquainted with most, if not all, of the facts to which he refers.
– Is that correct about secret arrangements with Father Shaw ?
– I do not know.
Some excitement was caused yesterday over the word “curious.” I find that the thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England have a rival in this particular Speech. A number of paragraphs are devoted to a number of questions, upon only a few of which I have yet touched. Two of these paragraphs contain a list, that, judging from a glance, I should say comprises some fifteen or twenty Bills which the Government propose shall be dealt with in the coming session. But, as merely the titles are mentioned, it is impossible to offer any appropriate comment upon them, nor do I desire to do so. Here, however, are thirty-nine paragraphs; here are references to more than a score of important Bills ; and yet, as far as I can judge, the one subject of national importance^ - the one subject towering above all others in the public interest, the one subject which to this Government and this Parliament and the members of it means more than any others - is not mentioned here. It is not referred to. It is ignored.
What is that subject ? It is the problem created by the industrial unrest which has been convulsing this Commonwealth. It is quite true that industrial unrest exists over a large part of the civilized world. But the extraordinary feature is that this country - which has gone further and done more to avoid and to cope with that industrial unrest wherever it arises ; which has made more extraordinary efforts and sacrifices to that end than any other country; which has studied the subject closely ; which has endeavoured to bring to bear upon it judicial and other methods as far as they can be made to apply, and perhaps further ; that this country which has done so much, and whose history is marked by more continuous improvement of conditions, raising of wages, and bettering of industrial circumstances than that of any other country in the world ; that this country, doing all this - which has been so sincere in its efforts to these ends, has not yet coped wilh, but is, on the contrary, confronted with a greater measure of industrial unrest than we have ever before known in the history of Australia. Surely we might have expected that this vital subject of industrial unrest would be dealt with in the national interest, and that, at all events, there would have been an endeavour to throw some light upon the causes of those perpetual disturbances which have occurred - disturbances which, in some instances, have gone very near to assuming the gravest anti-national character.
– There is not one strike in the Commonwealth now.
– What about the strike in the Worker office?
– The present Government came into office under cover of a strong;” advocacy and eulogies of the peaceful constitutional settlement of all industrial disputes.
– And they remain so.
– I again appeal to honorable members to discontinue these interjections.
– It is rot.
– The honorable member for South Sydney must not deliberately commence interjecting the moment after I have appealed for order. If he does I shall take some other course.
– What about the other side?
– Order !
– This Government came into office backed by a party who had been favoured with the support of an enormous majority of the people of Australia; and the people of Australia are now entitled to ask the Government and their supporters how it is that, since they came into office, they have adopted a policy which has not prevented, even if, indeed, it has not fomented, industrial disturbances all over this Commonwealth. It has not attempted to multiply or strengthen Australian industries.
What have Ministers done even in the way of safeguards? They have, it is true, passed legislation which, if taken at its face value, was to put an end to many of these difficulties. They have made the most extraordinary concessions for the purpose of tempting the settlement of some classes of industrial disputes. In order to gain peace, this House parted with powers and created authorities such as exist in no other country, which can only be upheld on the ground of their fulfilment of the purpose for which they were created. So far it cannot be said that they are achieving any substantial success. We are bound, therefore, in the face of what has happened in the last two years, the record of which discloses more disorder, more dissatisfaction, and more strikes than any other period of our history, to consider and reconsider this gravest of questions.
Without detaining the House by giving too many details, I shall do the best I can with the official statistics available. On recent matters they are very incomplete, and also partial ; but, fortunately, there are figures relating to New South Wales which, as the largest State of the Commonwealth, may be taken as typical of the rest. Since the Commonwealth was established, what has been the progress made by the industrial community of Australia? In New South Wales during that period the number of factories has increased by 50 per cent., the employes engaged in them by 60 per cent., and the wages paid by 100 per cent. That, in concentrated form, is the industrial development in the Commonwealth up to the present. Taking New South Wales as typical of the other States, if that record is Australian, as I hope it is, no country in. the world, I believe, not even the United States and not even Canada, can .show such a record.’ The changes have all gone one way. Every alteration has been for the benefit of those engaged in the industries. From 1907 to 1910 there was an increase of £10 per head to the incomes of the wage-earners of New South Wales. I trust that similar figures obtain for the whole Commonwealth.
– How did the averages work out?
– They are given in one of the returns, and I put them aside with reluctance, since their recital would cause me to trespass too much on the time of the House. As I have already said, we cannot obtain the full figures for the whole of Australia in respect of last year. We have, therefore, to deal with them partially. While during this period there was a steady increase of pay and a decrease of hours, there were more references to the tribunals to which we look to settle these questions, and a greater number of decisions by them than ever before. The extraordinary feature is that, side by side with unparalleled advantages and prosperity, side by side with the largely increasing use of means for the peaceful settlement of industrial troubles, there has been a record of strikes, throwing all previous records in the shade. Surely in combining these characteristics, Australia stands alone to-day among the communities of the world. Taking the returns for New South Wales, we find that in 1908 the days lost by strikes in that State totalled 1,650; in 19 10 they had risen to 11,000. That illustration puts at once in concrete form the problem that must puzzle every European inquirer.
There is now on his way to these shores, or in New Zealand, one of the most distinguished men of letters in Great Britain, who is also one of her most distinguished statesmen. I refer to the British Ambassador in the United States, Mr. James Bryce, of whose high attainments and abilities both friend and foe speak alike. That very able and brilliant man - and I am the more free in paying these compliments, because on some cardinal questions I differ from him - is largely actuated in visiting Australia by a desire to study the industrial situation in these new communities. When he views figures of this kind, will he not admit that Australia presents a more difficult nut to crack than any other civilized country? Advances most rapid, continuous, and beneficial in every direction, and at the same time insurrectionary outbreaks fiercer and more threatening than ever before ! How can the two go hand in hand? Why do they go together? That, surely, will be a problem which that statesman will endeavour to face. I hope that we shall have his help in facing it, but it is one to which I, personally, will not attempt at present to give anything like a complete answer.
Still it ought to be clear that the industrial problem cannot be settled by strikes. Strikes are undertaken by those engaged in a particular industry, or branch of if, for a particular gain. If they win, the rest of the community is in no way bettered. Possibly the circumstances of another industry are then so much affected that it has to appeal to an industrial tribunal or, if it be utterly reckless, to strike for concessions in the same way. A strike is always partial and limited, and even when it is in part a sympathetic strike - about the most unsympathetic thing it is possible to conceive - this is always in the interest of a particular industry or industries. If certain employes, as the result of a strike, gain an improvement in wages or hours of employment, that improvement has to be paid for somewhere. Where? And” by whom? By the rest of the community. Strikers dea’l with the situation piecemeal and only obtain piecemeal remedies, all of which have to draw upon our general current funds, upon national finance and national ability to bear the new burden. Consequently even some thinkers who are ranked amongst the most extreme supporters of socialistic views, have admitted that true national progress is not possible by the instrumentality of strikes. All that is possible is an improvement of conditions in a certain number of occupations, and all at the expense of the general community. Rarely is the granting of improved conditions accompanied by such a revolution in the methods of production as to enable the extra payments involved to be withdrawn from the industry concerned without affecting other classes of the community. Then there is sometimes a diminution in the number of employes.
Thus we are now having in Australia, sometimes in one State, sometimes in another - sometimes in this trade, sometimes in that - strikes which create, not only bitterness and hostility, and involve heavy loss, but which impose increased pecuniary burdens on our people. Follow this process’ round, and you find that the more increases you grant the more burdens you have to bear ; the more strikes you get, the more you increase some one’s burden, and so round and round.
– A lovely argument.
– That process may suit some honorable members opposite, it may apply irregularly, but the wildest must admit that it cannot go on ad infinitum. Civilization itself could not bear that strain. In Parliament, if anywhere/the whole of our interests ought to be taken into consideration. In this House; and in the Senate, if anywhere, a problem of this kind ought to be faced. Here we have representatives of all trades, callings, and interests, and surely this task which does not arise from theoretical, but from practical considerations, is forced upon this Government, if they are in earnest, of endeavouring to find some solution which will comply with that programme for peaceful settlements of these disputes with which they set out, and which, so far, falls far short df its aim. Facts prove to us that we must he on the wrong road. ‘ Where is the right road ? Let us approach that with open minds. It involves questions which go deeply into our social life and history. T am perfectly prepared to admit this, and face them. But surely it is a mockery for the Government to come forward with a programme of industrial peace when that programme, not only has no effect upon the average number of disturbances of average gravity, but is accompanied by more disturbances and worse, and greater interferences with national interests than ever was the case before. The two movements - one for peace and the other for war - are absolutely antagonistic. They ought not to be allowed to proceed side by side.
Apart from what is done behind closed doors and by personal persuasion of which we know nothing, we see little attempted to be clone by those who are in control of this country ; or, indeed, by honorable members generally, on the other side in orderto suppress and bring to an end such disturbances as do find an outbreak.
– You cannot do it.
– I know that the honorable member has proclaimed himself an out-and-out revolutionist.
– The honorable member has used words to that effect. Why not seek peace ?
– Come along and try. We are ready to try. You cannot do it.
– That is the counsel of despair. If not, why are we continually tinkering with the issue? Such a theory is impossible of acceptance, by me, at all events.
The way may be difficult, and it may be long, but we must solve the problem. It takes two forms - the discovery of what social justice means, and can be made to mean, in material affairs such as wages, hours, and conditions of labour, production, and so on ; and, on the other hand, the firm and rigorous. suppression of every form of outbreak, physical violence, or outrage as the consideration which the community receives for the sacrifices it makes to that end.
– Also the suppression of some employers, who want to continue sweating.
-I can tell the honorable member of unions more tyrannical than any employers, not only to their opponents, but to their own members.
The solution which appears to find most favour with honorable members on the opposite benches - or from the people who support them most loudly - is that of universal employment by and under a Legislature elected by that community. One can hardlv conceive of a worse or more unworkable method.
The confusion of the business of politics, of the financial interests of individuals and classes with the comprehensive interests of the nation, would occasion the worst encounters, and threatens the most disastrous results. It appears to me, as it has always appeared, that the only practical outlook presented is in the direction of profit sharing, co-operation, and similar methods of employment. Those engaged in the various industries can organize them on the same plans as have already furnished some brilliant successes in the Mother Country. In these there are no strikes, no dangerous differences ; but, by a judicious policy, the individual workers are placed in a position which they realize to be fair, and which affords them all the advantages they can reasonably expect. In addition, a standard is set with which other industries in the same line can by the force of public opinion, if not by the force of law, be brought into accord. Profit sharing, cooperative, and other undertakings of the kind supply invaluable standards. They show what an industry will bear, and without destruction, help to build up others upon a permanent basis. Those methods possess enormous advantages over any attempt at State control. It implies a handling of business directly between the employers or owners of the works and their employes. When the latter are satisfied with their lot, as they appear to be most abundantly satisfied in England in several great enterprises, and in a few elsewhere, we have a solution of the problem, fostering the individual interests of employers and employed, encouraging other interests to adopt the same methods of linking labour and capital harmoniously together.
– The honorable member has forgotten a third party, and that is the consumer.
– I have forgotten nothing of the kind. It is perfectly plain that with fair competition between the industries conducted on these equitable principles you have nothing to fear either for the employers or for the employes; both are guaranteed a fair return. With the free competition of one firm against another, you secure the protection of the public for whose custom they compete. The object of each is that, having given fair consideration to its employe’s, they enter the public market on an equality of terms as well as an equality of prices, so far as they are controlled by cost of production.
– Why, the trusts are abolishing competition. Surely the honorable member knows that competition is dying a natural death.
– Then why do you not go on with the actions against the trusts?
– That . advocacy would have done fifty years ago.
– I should expect the honorable member to repudiate it, for as far as I can see he repudiates everything existing, aiming at something which he thinks will come into existence fifty years hence.
– I repudiate profit sharing.
– I know nothing better or fairer than profit sharing. Although, of course, one speaks always with a frank confession that through those means which are known to us and in actual operation we can perhaps find some better developments than those which we now see, the best road is distinctly through profit sharing and the peaceful handling of industrial problems by the parties directly concerned. The protection of our public as to prices should be secured by open competition under the safeguard of the Inter-State Commission - a body which I have always supported - to be composed of business men with such an acquaintance with the inner and outer working of our industries as to be able to advise Parliament generally as to what are the fair and equitable terms and prices to be observed. They have no such Commission in America, and, so far as I remember, no provision for its creation in their Constitution.
– Yes, they have.
– This country does not appear to have realized that our InterState Commission has already a large and exceptional endowment in the Constitution, provided Parliament thinks fit to take steps to bring it into being.
– No more than the American Constitution has and no less.
– The honorable member will find that he is mistaken.
– I am not.
– However, these are side issues. In our Commission we should obtain a central authority which should be made, as far as possible, independent of Commonwealth and State politics. It should be a business body, answering questions as to all industrial and relevant facts. Parliament will always find the policy and determine what shall be done. But now, what do we find?
So far, nothing is being done in that regard. Te have pursued that weary round of which I have spoken - strikes, pacifications, more strikes, more pacifications, and still more strikes. What do we find side by side with the Arbitration Court? Defiant opponents of those Courts. What did we find in such a case as that which occurred in Perth, where the tramway men struck against an award of the Arbitration Court ? The Tramway Company made the men an offer of some advance beyond what the Court had granted after a fair and full hearing, and the men refused that offer. The company then made a higher offer, and that, too, was refused by them. I regret to say that this was also accompanied by incidents of great disorder and gravity. They finally made a third offer, which meant a loss of £6,600, or over £2,000 a year for three years. This violent strike was only settled by that addition to terms which the Court had held to be fair and right. What, then, is left for our Industrial Court? What confidence can we place in its decisions if, as in this instance, no sooner are they given than they may be overridden ? ‘
In this connexion one is bound to note with the deepest regret that, while even in savage warfare certain conventions and understandings for “the protection of the weak and wounded are observed, no- code has been evolved to protect the innocent and defenceless when a strike occurs.
– The doctors walked out of the Adelaide hospital.
– No one defends that action. During the Perth strike men who continued to work under the award of the Arbitration Court were followed and attacked in lonely places - not man to man, but one man by two or more, and three of them were sent into hospital. Those attacks were criminal as well as cowardly. Why are the women and children of those whose actions do not accord with the views of the strikers allowed to be molested and harried? Even in the bloodiest warfare safeguards are provided for them ; but there is no respect even for the women of the community from some of the hangers on who boast that they are upholding a strike. Surely it is time that the men in command and those who represent labour principles should establish a code protecting the innocent from malicious attacks, and allowing those responsible for the struggle to settle matters . peaceably between themselves. However huge the cost of arbitration, it is not a fraction of the cost of strikes, direct and indirect. If only for purely business considerations, the whole- force of public opinion should be exerted against every proposal to strike, when there is an open way to the Arbitration Court.
– If the tramway men at Brisbane could have got to the Court, there would have been no strike.
– That was a strike in which the one and only cause of the action taken was the refusal of permission to wear a badge.
– Utter nonsense.
– That was the ground on which the strike actually took place, although the point had been submitted to the Court, and was then under jurisdiction. Had that fact been made known to the strikers at the time, in all probability there would have been no catastrophe. The mischief is that the real burden of strikes often, and to some extent always, falls, not upon those concerned, but upon the innocent, upon those who are in no way directly associated with either side in that dispute. It might be arranged, as in a pugilistic encounter, that the principals should meet, and they alone be answerable; but even the code that obtains in a prize-ring does not obtain in strikes.
– Why does not the honorable member apply his principles, and have a go at the Prime Minister?
– Why does not the honorable member tender himself as an antagonist? I am. puzzled, not only by the attitude of Labour members generally, but much more by that of Ministers, several of whom are strong advocates of peace. They attend every meeting of peace societies at which they can conveniently be present, denouncing war, bloodshed, and violence, and preaching the universal pacific settlement of differences. But why do they not preach these doctrines when a strike is imminent or proceeding? Why do we hear nothing of their peace principles then?
– It is not opportune.
– They would be truly and effectively appropriate then, and that, perhaps, is why they are omitted. Nothing can exceed the warmth and vigour of the eloquence of our political advocates of peace when their speeches have no relation to current events, and are connected only with the conduct of remote peoples; but when such speeches might be of service to their country, then and there the doctrine of peace is never invoked by them. Why do they denounce war outside our own borders, and not denounce it inside?
– The honorable member must think that we are a silly crowd, to play into his hands.
– Why preach peace at any price to nations in conflict, and neglect to discountenance civil war in their own country? No worse example of citizenship could be given than for law-makers to associate themselves with law-breakers in whose interest acts of violence are frequent.
– The violence is all on the employers’ side. There you have the starvation of those who cannot help themselves.
– What about the “ hell-upon-earth “ policy?
– The veteran trade unionist of this House, the highest authority on the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes, Mr. Spence, has pointed out that, in the ranks of his party, and even connected with his own newspaper, are employes whose conduct he described as that .of bushrangers, The explanation that the Worker is written by bushrangers explains a great deal previously mysterious.
– Will the honorable gentleman repeat what he said just now about the Minister for Home Affairs?
– -I would rather add that the ordinary strike policy seems to have been reversed when a landlord, in the person of the Attorney-General, sat severely on the chest of one of his employe’s.
It is not any particular outrage to which I was referring, but to the endeavours to carry out a peaceful and constitutional policy by members who are pledged to pacific measures on the public platform and in this House. Recollect the communications that passed through the Governor of Queensland and the’ Governor-General. As a matter of fact, we know that these were really between the head of the Government in Queensland and the Prime Minister. The first is an application for assistance in Brisbane, under section 119 of the Constitution. Honorable members will recollect the fact that a claim was put in by the Brisbane tramway employes to the Arbitration Court in October, 1911, asking that the men in the tramway service should have the right to wear badges, whether thu manager approved or not. Under paragraph 39 b of the claim the men asked that they might “ wear and display “ these badges while on duty. In reply, the company put in a plea that no such distinction should be made among their employes. That remained before the Court from the time the plea in reply was put in, at the end of October, or early in November, awaiting a hearing, which was anticipated early in the new year. The men most unwisely refused to wait for the Court. They struck on the 30th January. Challenged on the ground that the issue was already submitted they denied it through their representatives to the Strike Committee.
– Might I ask who were the representatives ?
– Mr. Finlayson, the honorable member for Brisbane, who referred to the honorable member for Batman as his legal adviser, made the statement.
– Of course, the honorable gentleman knows that he is quite wrong.
– I do not, unless in some minor point.
– I shall put the honorable gentleman right by-and-by.
– I ‘have taken a good deal of pains to get the facts, and think I have them correctly. ,
– I shall give the honorable gentleman some other facts.
– On the facts, as I submit them, these men defied, the Arbitration Act, the Arbitration Court, and this Parliament, which passed the Act and created the Court. That is what they did, anticipating their own plaint which was coming on for judicial hearing- within a very short time. It did come forward at a later stage, and was decided in their favour. So far as that goes, this is absolute proof that there was not the faintest necessity for any such interruption of the business, trade, and communications of the city of Brisbane as unhappily took place.
I shall not delay the House by attempting to paint the condition of things which existed in the city in consequence of that strike. It has been described at length. It is enough to repeat the statements made by Mr. Coyne, the leader of the striking party and a member of the Queensland Parliamentary Labour Party. He declared that on the second morning a’fter the strike no mim could buy a loaf of bread in Brisbane without a permit from his Strike Committee. No city, therefore, was ever more absolutely held up by an armed hostile force than Brisbane evidently was at that time. I say a hostile force, because it was not that of the Government. It had no sanction from any Parliament or from any Government. Indeed the strike bulletins published at the time boasted that the Government itself had to go to the committee to get permits. I am told that this is untrue, except in so far as it refers to the Water Board, . which is a Government institution. The Board had to ask for permits as well as private persons, so had the largest and smallest merchants of Brisbane, and sd had private people who wished to get food or supplies. As Mr. Collings, on the Strike Committee, said, they were the dictators of Brisbane. The city was captured, held up, and half starved.
I find that Mr. Coyne, on 2nd February, sent a message, by telegram, to the Prime Minister, in which he stated that the
Strike Combined Committee have maintained absolute order up to this morning. Peaceable processions have taken place, also peaceable public meetings this morning. and so on. What we should note is the extraordinary nature of the whole of this message. It is not a message from Mr. Coyne as a member of the Queensland Legislature or as a trade unionist, hut from Mr. Coyne as master of the city of Brisbane, stating that the committee of which he is a member has control of that city just as any foreign invader who had landed troops and seized the city would have had. He decides what people may and may not cb. He is absolute master, has processions when he likes, claiming that they are peaceable, because at that time there was no one strong enough to resist him. They were peaceable because he was the absolute dictator of the city. I want to know whether in any constitutionally governed country such a condition of things is possible without the entire destruction of the authority of Government. If Mr. Coyne had said nothing else and done nothing eis.: but boast, as he was entitled to boast, on the facts that he was dictator of Brisbane, this in itself was the most direct challenge which could be given to the Government of this country - which is a Federal Government, and includes both Commonwealth and State Governments. Here was a man who had seized power, and was exercising it, as no real Government holding the power has ever ventured to exercise it in this Commonwealth. This in itself is a matter that calls for a great deal of reflection, particularly on the part of honorable members opposite. Then Mr. Coyne went on to complain -
Permit to hold processions refused ; foot and mounted police fully armed posted all corners preventing people proceeding peaceably along streets.
I understand that they attempted to proceed along the streets in bodies of several thousands, and under very provocative circumstances.
Many serious unprovoked assaults by police.
That is so like the police, we know.
We have vigilance committee keeping perfect order if not prevented by police.
Perfect order when people were living, moving, and feeding only under permits from the Strike Committee.
Will you assist us with your naval and military to maintain peace and order. Reply urgent.
I should think so.
– I think there are a few words more.
– I have not the official document, but if there is more shall be prepared to read it with pleasure. Setting aside what the statement implies, this is what Mr. Coyne says -
Strike Combined Committee have maintained absolute order up to this morning.
That referred, to the 2nd February. Now I find that on the 23rd January, 27th January, and the 28th January - three occasions - dynamite had been discovered planted on the street tram lines, which if it had been exploded might have blown the trams to pieces, killing the innocent, and, so far as the. strike was concerned, disinterested persons that were riding in them.
– That was before the strike. The “plug of dynamite” was a tallow candle.
– It was certainly not dynamite. There was absolutely nothing in the matter. It was proved to be a pure scare. There were crackers in the streets.
– Then do honorable members opposite deny this? -
On January 23, 1912, a plug of gelignite, a powerful explosive, with a fuse and detonator, were found on the Bulimba tramline at Doggettstreet. Mr. J. B. Henderson, Government Analyst, reporting on the material found, said : “Had the explosive detonated under a carwheel,the wheel would have been shattered and pieces of it driven up through the car. The explosion would have caused very serious damage to the car, with correspondingly serious risks to the passengers.”
– That was before the strike.
– The strike was about the trams, and these explosives were placed on the tram lines. Does the honorable member say they had no connexion with the tram strike? On 27th and 28th dynamite and caps - detonators - were found in the grooves of the tram points at Lytton-road, East Brisbane. The flanges of the car wheels were not sufficiently deep to reach the caps in the grooves ; otherwise an explosion would have occurred as the car passed over the material. Later on twenty-five more caps, with dynamite attached, were found by a. private citizen in one of the “boxes” on the same points. I come now to the time when the strike undoubtedly was in existence. On 13th and 14th February, on Kelvin Grove-road, near the Normanby Hotel, two tramway employe’s cleaning out the points found four plugs of dynamite, six half plugs, and fifteen detonators. The explosives were covered with sand. A Leichardt-street car had passed over the points, but no explosion’ took place. Were four plugs of dynamite a harmless dose to give a car?
– Where were the pol:ce then?
– I suppose they were looking after the rioters led by the honorable member. Perhaps they were forming a guard of honour for him. On 20th February, the strike still continuing, at 6.55 a.m. six plugs of dynamite were found between the points of the tram line in Murray-street, New Farm. The dynamite was all together, and partly covered with dust, and was, fortunately, discovered before the trams ran. Again on 6th March, at 8.45 p.m., an explosion took place in Wickham-street. The car had exploded a charge of dynamite which had been placed on the rails, but no damage was done owing to the fact that the explosive had been damaged. I suppose that was the “ cracker “ ! On 8th March’, at 11.20 p.m., a plug of dynamite, with detonator, was found on the Kelvin Groveroad tram line.
My point is, that this is evidence of what must be expected in practically any great city in which the Government of the day is thrust aside, while unauthorized persons, by their numbers and organization, take command of the streets. That justifies no deduction that these outrages were attempted by persons connected with the strike, or that they were committed with their knowledge, but you must realize that in every city of any size you will find, not only a certain number of criminals who seize- any opportunity which a disturbance presents, but also a number of unbalanced people who, in times of seething excitement, processions, marches, and so on, identify themselves with a cause with which previously they may not have had anything to do, and act without authority, under the impulse of the excitement generated. You have to recognise the fact, just as you must recognise that in a city full of wooden houses there is always the dangar of a conflagration.
Why the authors of that strike, and those members who joined with’ them are rightly placed at the bar of public opinion is because - knowing these facts as men of the world - they bring about a condition of things in which other men, having little or nothing to do* with the cause, or possiblyweak men in their ranks, lose their balance,, and commit criminal acts endangering thelives of innocent citizens. Those who hold up the traffic of a city and take control of a city, must take responsibility for the state of the city. When they seize it by violence they invite others to adopt violent means. 1 When they disregard the law, they encourage others to flout the law. Consequently the responsibility fairly sheeted home to those who conducted and authorized the Brisbane tramway strike, is that they most assuredly did, in the first instance, proclaim that the wearing and display of the badge was not before the Court. They distinctly said that at the commencement, and had to withdraw it afterwards. In that they were responsible for making a blunder to which, perhaps, is due the whole of that unfortunate series of incidents. In addition to this, /they are responsible for taking command of the city from that time forward, under conditions which permitted violence, robbery, and worse to take place, because the authorized guardians of the law had been deposed. The strikers were taking their place, but had not the knowledge or control enabling them to give the city the protection to which it was entitled. Therefore, quite apart from any separate offence of indulging in or inviting practically civil war, they had taken upon their shoulders two great responsibilities. In the one they had been entirely misled, because the question of the badge was before the Court ; and in the other they had done what no free citizen or member of a free community can do without defying the Constitution under which he lives - violating his own birthright and inviting others to treat him in the same lawless fashion.
That is a very serious condition of things ; but to us here the most serious and unhappy of all is that I can find no reprobation, no condemnation of these acts, in the speeches of the Prime Minister or of his colleagues, or of the other leading men who were connected with the strike. I can find no attempt to put the men right on the question of the badge, and to point out that, having made a serious mistake, they had not yet lost the opportunity of correcting it, and of returning to their trams, to await in patience the decision- of the Court.
– The honorable member will find an attempt to put him right on some of those points, at any rate.
– If the attempt succeeds, I shall stand corrected. I have not only looked myself, but have had search made through these papers, and in every case have public warrant for what I have said.
In this connexion, I come to the first serious step taken by the Government. I quite recognise that in this matter the Government act as a whole, and I refer to them as a whole, not as individual members. So far as I know, there has been no departure by individual Ministers from the attitude or policy adopted by the Government as a whole. The Government made their choice, and their party evidently approved that choice when, in reply to the telegram from the Premier of Queensland, through the Governor of that State, asking the Prime Minister to take steps immediately to protect it against domestic violence, Mr. Fisher declined to do so. Every honorable member by this time must be perfectly familiar with that section of the Constitution which reads -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion and on the application of the Executive Government of a State against domestic violence.
The word “shall” therefore covers both applications. The Commonwealth “ shall “ on the application of the Executive Government of a State protect it against domestic violence. The Prime Minister in his reply said -
His Government did not admit the right of any State to call for their assistance under circumstances which are proper to be dealt with by the police force of the States. The condition of affairs existing in Queensland does not, in the opinion of my Ministers, warrant the request of the Executive Government of Queensland, contained in your Excellency’s message, being complied with.
That answer was plain. I admit that under that section it was within the competency of Ministers to return that reply. The word “ shall “ in ‘“the section of the Constitution which I have quoted is mandatory, it is true, but that word as applied to a Government would receive the ordinary interpretation, which requires a Government to shoulder responsibility. It is just possible that some State Premier upon losing his head might ask for support from the Commonwealth when it was not necessary. But this was not such a case. I am expressing my own opinion, and it is a very clear opinion on that point.
– The honorable member would not have sent troops to Brisbane if he had been in power. He would have been too cunning for that.
– It is very easy to say what I would have done because nobody can prove it. Consequently, it is a profitless subject for discussion just now.
– It was a political dodge.
– What, refusing the request of the Queensland Government? What this incident constitutes is a pre-“ cedent, and that is why it must be very carefully examined by this House before we allow it to pass. I am speaking in this instance because, in common with every other honorable member, I now stand responsible either for indorsing or condemning the action taken by the Commonwealth Government. I am condemning it because it is part of my responsibility, which I cannot avoid if I would. Seeing that dynamite had been used in a dozen cases in Brisbane, that the city was under the control of a body which was not elected by its citizens, but self created, that honest citizens could not go about their business or obtain supplies in the absence of permits from that body, I say that if these things did not constitute an interruption sufficient to demand action on the part of the Executive Government, there is no case which cannot be explained away. What was the Commonwealth Government asked to do? It was not asked to send 20,000 men, accompanied by artillery, to Brisbane, even if it had them. It was merely asked to do what it thought was necessary to make the police measures effective. We may gauge the standard of what was necessary by the fact that the State Government in their straits called for, and created, special constables, by whose aid they were able gradually to resume control of the city. What was done by the special constables at the request of the State Government in such an emergency could have been done more easily by a body of men of the same number, or by a smaller body, who, being the agents of the Commonwealth, and acting for Australia as a whole - in other words taking no sides with either party to the dispute - would have been able to check that domination of the city by a section which had usurped all authority, simply because it had a strong following. Certainly the Commonwealth militia would have been able, without any more exertions than were put forward by the police, and probably with less, to have controlled the city. There the responsibility lies. I congratulate the Prime Minister and his colleagues - and heartily rejoice in the fact - that their refusal to comply with the request of the Queensland Government led to no worse results than actually followed. That so many attempts to use dangerous explosives passed without loss of human life is something for which we must all feel profoundly thankful. Probably that result was due to the fact that those who laid the dynamite were not sufficiently expert in handling it. Had it been used by men of mining or blasting experience accustomed to it, probably a very different story would have to be told. I congratulate Ministers that no such blot has been cast upon the escutcheon of the Commonwealth.
– There would have been a disaster if the military had been ordered out.
– That is an insinuation which happily at this time of day will not carry farther than the honorable member sitting next to the interjector. We have no “ military “ in this country. We have a citizen militia, but the remainder of our citizens are not separated from them as they are in parts of Europe. There, in times of emergency, soldiers can be placed in the streets, drawn from portions of the country which have little community of interests with the city, and these men, being without ties, are prepared to use their weapons ruthlessly if necessary. But will any one say that the citizens of Australia would be likely to err in that fashion, or that “a single individual would be found bathing his hands in his brother’s blood, except to save bloodshed?
– The crowd they brought down to Brisbane wanted to do it.
– The reputation of those who are politely alluded to as “ the crowd brought down to Brisbane “ is happily clean, because nothing happened. The honorable member apparently recognises the danger of bringing down a certain number of civilians to act as special constables. I admit some danger in that regard. There is always more danger from untrained civilians acting in such circumstances than there is in drilled men who are accustomed to obey the word of command. In the latter case the risk of a man losing his head and his judgment and committing an act which may embroil his fellows in trouble is less.
– That is a thing which is often done by the other side with the object of getting unionists put in gaol. I can cite cases in which it has been done.
– I know of many more cases on the other side, but am quite prepared to admit that mistakes occur upon both sides.
– Tell the whole truth about the matter - keep nothing back.
– What does the Prime Minister mean by the “ truth “ ?
– Everything the honorable member knows of the matter.
– That would take too long.
– The honorable member is doing his worst.
– I am doing my best. I repeat that my charge goes direct to the whole of the Government who are ‘responsible, andnot to one member of the Governmentit goes to the whole of the following who support and uphold the Government, and, from them, to the electors who elect them. We cannot take the matter any further than to the electors’. I do’ not know what number of permanent militia were in Brisbane at the time. In each capital city there is always a handful ; but I believe that if only that handful of officers and members of the Citizen Army .
– We have a permanent force.
– I am talking of the permanent citizen soldiery, but I call them all militia. The Prime Minister may, if he chooses, draw a distinction between the militia and the permanent forces. There were in Brisbane members of the forces who are permanent - officers for the training, and so forth of the citizen militia. These officers, too, are our own citizens; and, though I do not know how many were there, venture to say that a handful of them by their appearance would have done more than any special’ constables could, and with less resistance from the crowd. In my opinion no crowd would fail to recognise the legitimate upholders of authority of the State and of the Federal Government.
– I am afraid the honorable member has had very little experience !
– Often one or two men marked out by their office as the custodians of the public welfare have been able to check, even in the great cities of Europe, grave disturbances of various kinds.
– Against the dictatorship and the revolt of a city?
– There was the dictatorship of Mr. Coyne and the revolt of a city against it. If those hot-headed men, and some worse than hot-headed, who were responsible for the rising, had found themselves confronted officially by the representatives of the Commonwealth in the shape of the permanent forces, and by the representatives of the States in the shape of the police, all but the very wildest and maddest would at once have recognised that resistance must imply a refusal to accept law and order, without which the peace and good government of the community cannot be assured. They would have retired, because the great bulk of the supporters of the rising would have at once deserted and left their leaders to take the penalty.
– That was done.
– And on that fact I have congratulated those concerned, and no one is happier than myself. But the Government took responsibility, and any future Government will have to take a similar responsibility. There may be cities and peoples less obedient than Brisbane proved when face to face with a choice between defiance of the Government and the law, and obedience to the rules binding on every citizen. Fortunately there was obedience in Brisbane; some capital of another State may contain worse disposed people. Henceforth any future Government will have to take such a responsibility much more seriously. Whatever crisis happens after this is certain to be profoundly affected by the decision of the Commonwealth Parliament that the recent instance was one in which it ought to have intervened on behalf of the whole people, or that it is to be regarded as a mere local squabble left to be fought out on the spot.
– That is all it was !
– I prefer not to squabble with dynamite or excited crowds.
– The honorable member is making a “ mountain out of a mole hill “ !
– A “mountain” may not be made of sticks of dynamite, though a few of these can cause an explosion of a very disastrous character.
– Has any bloodshed ever occurred in an upheaval of the kind in Australia ?
– I cannot say at the moment.
– I can remember a case in which one man was killed.
– I am sorry to be reminded that there has been bloodshed, though, fortunately, there appears to have been comparatively little.
In order to suggest to honorable members a, perhaps, surprising precedent for taking a strong view, I find, on reference to the United States Constitution, the conditions under which the armed forces at the disposal of the Government may be summoned. What is the order in which the United States Constitution puts the occasions on which the Government are authorized to employ the troops? The first ground on which troops may be called out is to execute the laws of the Union. No strife or violence need be necessary, but, wherever the police are unable to enforce peace and order, the troops, composed, like our own, of citizens of the country, may be called upon, if the Government thinks fit, to execute the laws of the Union. That is put as the first, and not the last, duty of the troops.
– We may all agree to that.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member agree that, the first duty of our Militia Forces in the Commonwealth is to see that the laws of the country are executed.- What is the second ground on which the United States troops may be called out? To suppress insurrection; and if ever there was insurrection in Australia it was in Brisbane, though there have been other occasions previously.
– What about the occasion when the ‘Premier of New South Wales seized the wire netting - was that insurrection ?
– Something like it.
– Did the honorable member, as Prime Minister, send the troops to Sydney ?
– We managed to win without it. The third ground on which troops may be called out under the democratic Constitution of the United States is to repel invasion. It will be seen that the first ground is to execute the laws, the second to suppress insurrection, and the third, which might have been supposed to come first, to repel invasion.
– Our Constitution reverses the order.
– That is so; and, personally, I prefer our Constitution. But the lesson of a democratic Constitution like that of the United States of America is not to be lightly set aside.
By the way, it was interjected just now that no one was injured during the Brisbane strike. As a matter of fact, two of the police were badly hurt, and a third was fired at.
– I will tell the House all about that.
– It is true. The facts were reported in the public press, and have been commented upon by members of the Ministry and others in . the recent contest. So far I have not seen them challenged.
– Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
– The reports were both challenged and disproved.
– Neither challenged nor disproved, so far as I know, and I have had the newspapers searched.
– I can tell the House who fired the shot. I can prove that it was a policeman who fired the shot.
– Will the honorable member also prove that pickets were not armed with revolvers and cartridges?
– I can prove something stronger that that.
– I shall be satisfied with that. One df the pickets was arrested with a revolver and cartridges in his possession, and ethers were known to have had them.
– They must have been advocates of the capitalists !
– I should like to know what amounts to “ domestic violence,” if it is not “ domestic violence “ to shoot with revolvers, and to be supplied with cartridges. As I have said, very fortunately the strike passed off, only a minimum of force being applied. The threatening conflagration was got under control. In concluding my reference to this unhappy incident, the last matter to which I call attention is that an appeal was made - a right and reasonable appeal - by the State Government for assistance. Honorable members have all read the reply from the Commonwealth Government declining to send that assistance. They have all read also the invitation sent by Mr. Coyne, which concluded with these words -
We have vigilance committee keeping perfect order if not prevented by police.
Then comes the important point of the whole telegram -
Will you assist us with your naval and military to maintain peace and order?
Honorable members laugh, but this was no jest, and it was seriously treated by the Government. The honorable member for Brisbane tells us that there was no need to appeal for assistance, but he cannot deny the fact that the State Government said that there was need for it. The important point to notice here, however, is the difference in the reply sent to the State Government, whose duty it was to maintain peace and order, and the reply sent to Mr. Coyne.
– I take the responsibility for that reply.
– The members of the Government must all take responsibility ; they cannot help it.
– I mean that the honorable member must accept my word that I sent the telegram on my own responsibility.I am quite sure that my colleagues accept that statement.
– The point is this : the reply sent by the Federal Government to the appeal of the State Government was an absolute refusal to send assistance at that time. It was possible . for them to reconsider their decision afterwards, but for that time they absolutely refused. Then came the request of Mr. Coyne, that the Federal Government should send the naval and military to Brisbane to assist the strikers. The reply to that was not a refusal. It was -
Wire received ; hope good sense will prevail to the end.
We all hoped that. That was an excellent conclusion, if the Prime Minister’s telegram had contained, as it ought to have contained, first a strong admonition to disband their forces at once and return to their places as ordinary citizens in a self governing country. It ought to have contained a warning that men who had usurped authority which did not belong to them, and were upholding it by force, should at once return to their peaceful vocations. That was the first admonition that should have been made. The second should have been a warning that if they did not, then the Federal Government would feel obliged to act under section 119 of the Commonwealth. Constitution for the protection of the people of Brisbane. I say that the Government did less than justice in that reply, which showed no sense or recognition of the heinousness of the state of affairs existing, and of the seriousness of the outbreak; which merely put the strikers off with the hope that good sense - of which they had hitherto not exhibited any sign - would prevail in the end. Why had it not prevailed in the beginning?
– Not “in the end.”- The honorable member is misquoting the telegram.
– I read from the printed copy.
– The words are “ to the end “ in the typewritten copy.
– I said “ to the end.”
– No; the honorable member said “ in the end.” The words are “ to the end.”
– “Hope good sense will prevail to the end.” I read honestly, and believed that I was reading correctly.
– I do not doubt that.
– I see no difference between “ to “ and “ in.”
– Oh, yes, the honorable member can.
– I cannot. The honoiable member may.
– “ In the end “ would mean that the men were not doing right up to that time.
– Once more, ‘for the sake of getting the Prime Minister’s telegram accurately into Hansard, let me quote the words -
Wire received) hope good sense will prevail to the end.
I ask what difference is there between that and “ good sense will prevail in the end “ ?
– If the Prime Minister had said that he hoped good sense would prevail “ in the end “ it would have meant that bad sense was prevailing at that time. That is what the honorable member wished to convey.
– I have repeatedly asked honorable members to refrain from interjecting. It is bad enough when honorable members interject to correct the speaker, but when they interject to assist the speaker, great’ confusion is likely to arise. I ask honorable members to abandon that practice.
– The honorable member is right. “To the end “‘implies a continuance of good senses already exhibited. I now see that “ in the end “ can be read as implying “only after the struggle is over.” There is that difference, which I did not catch. The copy from which I was quoting is printed in small newspaper type, and with the glasses Avhich I am now obliged to use I did read “in the end,” though the word is “ to.”
But the conclusion to the whole of this unhappy subject is that even a reference that implied that good sense was then obtaining was in absolute contradiction of the fact. Good sense was not obtaining, and had not obtained for a long time past in Brisbane, and there was also the danger of greater departures from any good sense existing. Consequently that reply showed, in- my opinion, an inadequate appreciation of the responsibilities of the Government. That Ministers and the members behind them should have been particu larly careful to avoid intervention, if they could avoid it, by any device, is not surprising, since this most illegitimate appeal on the part of an unauthorized authority came from men on their own political side, associated with them industrially. The incident afforded the Government an opportunity of showing that our oath binding us to be faithful and bear true allegiance is meant to be obeyed, and will be obeyed, so that we make neither difference nor distinction on party grounds in such crises. It is therefore most unfortunate that there should have been any distinction between the character of the reply sent to an illegal, illegitimate authority, and that sent to the legitimate, the legal, and indeed the only authority under the Commonwealth. I do not propose to press the point too far, but the attitude taken up by the Commonwealth Government was not that which one would have expected from a Government absolutely impartial and independent. The
Ministry ought to have been, in the circumstances, far more strict with its own supporters than it would have been with others, in order to assure the public of its impartiality which I hope this debate will tend to secure for the future. We know that on this question there is nothing to gain by challenging the verdict of the House since a majority verdict was given before we met; but we bring forward this resolution as one of the landmarks in the interpretation of our Constitution in relation to one of the most serious crises that have faced our people. How are disturbances or violence, illegitimate and illegal, to be coped with, and at what stage do such disturbances call for the intervention of the central Government? That point has, not yet been settled, but this precedent on the part of the present Government will be taken into account in any pressing contingency of the same character. It is therefore absolutely necessary that it should not stand without there being registered against it the protest of those who believe that a mistake was then made.
– Surely the honorable member did not want militarism and bloodshed ?
– I desired to prevent bloodshed. The honorable member admitted just now that there is a better guarantee of success when authorized persons undertake the control of a popular rising than when that control is left to unauthorized persons. For that reason, if for no other, the Commonwealth Government should have stepped in on the occasion in question. Therefore, now that the incident has passed into the pages of the history of the Commonwealth - and it makes a black mark on those pages, as do these continuous riotous outbreaks in different directions - it Is well that it should be accompanied by a clear declaration from the Liberal party. We propose to put aside all possibility of being supposed to act in favour of our own party, or of showing partisanship, by calling upon the independent and official authorities of State and Commonwealth to cope with grave disorders of this kind if they arise. The official authorities, who are best, calculated to deal with such disturbances, and who themselves are not permitted to entertain opinions on the subject in dispute, should be relied upon to preserve the good order and peace of the country. Farewell to the good name and peaceful development of the Commonwealth unless they are protected by patient, firm, and impartial hands:
Sitting suspended from 12.56 to 2.15 p.m.
– I find that I omitted to mention one or two facts which probably deserve to be placed on record while I was dealing with the question of the future settlement of strikes. I wished to add the fact that after a careful investigation the cost of the great Newcastle strike is set down at not less than , £1,000,000, and that the cost of the Brisbane strike, though it was of a more general character, is set down at half as much. That is, of course. the cost involved to those who were direct losers in consequence of the strikes. That I was to have introduced in its proper place in connexion with a regretful allusion to the fact that these losses occurred despite the time spent in the House and the cooperation of all parties. For it was during the existence of the three-party system that we endeavoured to frame an arbitration measure which should render strikes impossible.
Resolutions have been arrived at lately by highly representative bodies in which they actually declare for a return to the strike method. An illustration appeared about a week ago at Broken Hill, where that great union, the A.M. A., received a communication in regard to the claims of the employes of the Proprietary Company at Broken Hill and Port Pirie for higher wages and ‘better conditions. It was resolved at a special meeting, held on Sunday, 2nd June -
Thatthe A.M. A. refuses to assist iu citing a case for arbitration, but will assist the Proprietary employed as far as possible if they decide to down tools to get any concession that they desire-
That resolution, it it stood by itself, would be significant coming from “that source, it is more significant when I find that very recently the Labour Conference, in Sydney, carried a resolution which I hope to have in my hands in a few moments, the effect of which is to claim, in a broader fashion, the continuance of the right to strike, notwithstanding the existence of legislation in regard to conciliation and arbitration.
– And they are going to maintain that right.
– Could there be anything more calculated to undermine public confidence in the arbitration law and its various developments, the object of which is to induce a peaceful settlement of industrial disputes, than their practical repudiation by two such bodies, one of them, a representative conference, deliberately proposing to return to the older method of settling strikes by force? That brings us, as I say, face to face with so fundamental a change in the industrial situation that it imparts a still greater weight to the sober warnings which have been given, based on the experiences to which I alluded before the adjournment for lunch. While the bulk of this House is eager to see the peaceful means of settlement by a competent tribunal with powers wisely developed to the utmost, certain bodies which are most concerned, and which include some of the leaders of labour, in New South Wales, are taking a diametrically opposite course. The result of this must be to defeat the purposes of the arbitration law, and to drive us farther along the road of conflict, which we have made, or have been willing to make, many sacrifices to avoid.
– That organization has twenty-one representatives in this Parliament.
– I am informed that the Sydney Conference included no less than twenty-one members of this” or the other House.
– I challenge that statement ; it is quite incorrect.
– It included twenty-one members of the organizations referred to.
– That is a different thing.
– It shows that it is a highly respectable organization.
– It depends upon your standard of respectability.
The other point which I passed, though it appears to be worthy of note, is a consequence of the action of the Government, in refusing the request from the Government of Queensland for their intervention to bring the tramway strike to an end, since this led to their appointing some hundreds of special constables with whose aid order was preserved for the remainder of the strike. I did not call attention, as I ought to have done, and intended to do, to the fact that this implies a shifting of the centre of gravity, so to speak, which, in the interests of the Commonwealth, and its Government, should not have been allowed. Up till now the reading of the Constitution has been that, any rising, strike, public disturbance, or domestic violence, arising from any cause, connected or unconnected with a strike, which might require to be put down by some strong hand, in addition to the control by the ordinary police, should be dealt with by the Commonwealth Government. That prerogative which it enjoyed, and which no one else enjoyed, which it was not called upon to depute, was not exercised. The effect of this refusal was that the State Government, by means of an additional force of special constables, acting in a perfectly legal way, has acquired for itself a constitutional standing in this connexion, which previously belonged to the Federal Government. It took the charge and custody of the affairs of Queensland into its own hands, on a matter as to which under the Commonwealth Constitution this Government and this Parliament were entitled to take control. The establishment of this precedent is clearly a limitation of the authority hitherto exercised by the Commonwealth Government, and an encouragement to other States to deal with similar difficulties in a like way. It appears to me that the idea which probably was in the minds of many more besides myself who were associated with the framing of the Constitution- this particular provision seems to have passed with little or no discussion and by common consent - was that the Commonwealth Government was to be the authority in all matters calling for the exercise of what might be termed supreme force, that it was to be a Court of last and highest appeal in cases of domestic violence, and that its action, for its verdict would be an action, was to be final.
– Not till the State authority failed.
– There is no referenceto the State authority failing.
– That was the intention any way.
– I do not think that can be. read into the provision, but if it is, it will be read into it by those who are anxious to extend the sphere of State authority and to curtail the sphere of Federal authority.
– The civil authority must fail before the military authority will take charge. That is so all over the world.
– I think that is a good principle, but when the civil authority has reached its bounds, we are within a short distance of a “war” without the introductory and ambiguous word “civil.” Civil war is the worst kind of war. I do not question the connotation of the word “civil” in connexion with this matter, but say distinctly that the precedent just set up implies a narrowing of the sphere of the Commonwealth Executive and its supremacy, and an increase of the authority of, and the scope allowed to, the State Executive, I have also been struck by the contrast between the message sent by the Prime Minister to the Government of Queensland, and this statement made by him in 1909, evidently on the advice of his legal colleague, in reference to the Broken Hill strike then in progress -
If the State Government asks us to give it assistance we have got to do so under the Constitution, no matter how much we think as a Government that such help is not needed.
After quoting section 119, he continued -
Under that section we would have to order the troops out to help the police. It won’t do us any good to have to do it, but that will make 110 difference to the Government. We will have to see the law carried out.
That was an authoritative interpretation of the section and of the position of the Government in contemplation of a possible demand for action, which, fortunately, was not needed.
– 1 presume that the honorable member believes that to be a true report, but not a word that he has read was uttered by me, or authorized for publication in my name.
– The statement has been denied.
– The lie has been circulated throughout Australia in respectable newspapers, by persons who knew that it was a lie.
– My authority is a report which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
– The reporter nearly got the sack over it.
– Did the newspaper withdraw the statement?
– The time has come when it must be stopped.
– But was it denied at the time of publication?
– Had I known that the honorable member intended to use the report, I should have told him that it was not true.
– The Sydney Morning Herald is a newspaper of good repute.
– I refer the honorable member to the reports in the other newspapers. Let him ask the reporters what was said.
– Naturally a report in a paper like the Sydney Morning Herald, which was not repudiated at the time, but allowed to stand, is accepted as correct.
– I am not sorry that I did not make a statement” for the protection of my party. Not a word in the report was uttered by me. Some members of the honorable member’s party do not know what courage is.
– Of course, I accept without hesitation the honorable gentleman’s denial.
– The honorable member can obtain support of it from the men in the gallery.
– Was the statement made by any other Minister?
– Not to my knowledge. It was not made by me, nor was it made on behalf of the Government.
– Apart from that I am surprised that it did not occur to the honorable gentleman, in connexion with the Brisbane strike, that he had an unexampled opportunity to intervene for the public benefit, both parties having invited him to do so.
– He showed impartiality.
– Both the strikers and those opposed to them having requested this Government to exercise its powers, it is extraordinary that no action was taken. The dangerous reply was returned to each party that they must settle matters between themselves.
Again during the strike a limited service of trams was carried on by the help of men who took the place of the strikers. At the conclusion of the strife the strikers asked to be reinstated, but the tramway company pointed out that they had ceased work of their own accord, and that to continue a public service it had been found necessary to employ others in their places, who would be retained. Thereupon the PostmasterGeneral publicly announced that, so far as possible, he would find .positions for the strikers in the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
– Was there anything wrong in that?
– Suppose that the position had been reversed, and that the company had reinstated the strikers, dismissing its free labour, would the same offer have been made to these? No one believes that it would. That shows the utter unfairness of the proposal. Those who struck were guilty of an offence against the law.
– They were locked out.
– They refused to work unless allowed to wear badges. The honorable member must not juggle in that way. The strike is estimated to have cost £500,000, and must have put the tramway company to a . very large expense. Men who were in revolt against an industrial system, who had an appeal before a Court in which their application for liberty to wear a badge was included, who had a legal remedy provided for them, who had taken the necessary steps to appear before the Court and were waiting a decision - which, as events have shown, would have been in their favour if they had continued to work - even under all these circumstances insuring them an early hearing - still chose to strike. That, in my opinion, was an illegal act, an unconstitutional act, and also, on a fair consideration of the. circumstances, an unjustifiable act, since they had only to wait a few weeks longer to spare their city the desolation which fell upon it. They refused to do *so. They were headstrong, reckless, and thoughtless enough to take that step plunging thousands of their fellow citizens into losses and difficulties, also hindering and injuring the producers of the State, whose goods were held up for six weeks. In consequence of their action people who took no part in the strike, and had no active interest in it, we~e seriously injured. Yet we are now told that these men should be rewarded by being found places in the Government service, when we know that those who stepped forward to take their places in the service of the tramway company would never have received such an offer at all if they had lost their employment by reason of the reinstatement of the strikers. If that appears to any honorable member as fair and just to our citizens I do not envy him his standards.
Recklessness on the part of the PostmasterGeneral is all that can be urged in extenuation of the use of such words. It < might be urged that he blundered into their use without any realization of their meaning. I am sorry to have to say that this appears to be unlikely, because we have even a worse and more dangerous statement made by the same Minister at Hobart. I very much regret that the honorable gentleman is not present to hear what I have to say on the subject. I have seen no withdrawal of his statement, although attention was publicly called to it. During the election campaign in Hobart the question of applications for the support of the military to suppress domestic violence in a’ State was being discussed. Strong objection was taken to it by a number of representatives of the unions in the Conference, and also during the election campaign. When, in reply to the taunts against the Commonwealth Government - the present Government and their predecessors alike - because they concurred in a law permitting the citizen soldiery to be called out if necessary to preserve the peace, they were reminded by the Postmaster-General - a Minister of the Crown and a member of the Cabinet - that they too possessed rifles. These words have been commented upon, but have never been withdrawn or qualified. They distinctly point to a recognition of the possibility, if not the probability, of what is called “ civil war,” one of the worst of wars, because between citizens of the same State.
– One might almost think he was in Ulster.
– One might as well be there if this is to proceed. I do not think that such an utterance can be too strongly reprobated.
Mr. Thomas. Hear, hear !
– I am glad to know that one member of the Peace Society has rallied to the extent of agreeing to that proposition.
– I was thinking of Ulster.
– I wish that more of the members of the Peace Society would point out that inflammatory language of this sort, suggesting deliberate violence and the use of weapons of war, without any qualification as to the occasion which could in any way excuse their use, is about the most injurious that could possibly be uttered. This was uttered, not only by a representative of the people, but by a Minister of the Crown, who thus detracts from the reputation of Australian public men, and threatens the peace and stability of the Commonwealth. I see that the PostmasterGeneral is now present, and aware that I am quoting some of his remarks.
– Is the honorable gentleman sure that he is quoting my remarks?
– Yes; I have quoted the remarks of the honorable gentleman as published. Though ‘they have been commented upon, they have never been withdrawn in the slightest degree,, to my knowledge. Since the honorable gentleman is present, I should like also to direct attention to his references to the strikers who brought about the Brisbane suffering and calamities as having been “victimized.”
– Hear, hear ! That was an absolute fact.
– So they were - by their leaders.
– Yes, by their leaders, if the honorable gentleman pleases, but not by any of those opposed to them. I have no right to occupy time by repeating what I have already said fully on the subject. The Postmaster-General, after the application by the strikers to be restored, promised that those who he said had been “victimized” would be provided with employment in the Department of the Public Service under his control.
– What I stated in Brisbane I am prepared to repeat now : That the Denham Government were desirous of victimizing certain people because they were unionists, and were trying to drive them out of Queensland ; and that, so far as I could, in the management of the Postal Department I would give them preference in employment if they were qualified.
– First of all, I was informed and am assured by those who know Queensland affairs thoroughly that the facts are not as stated by the Minister.
– I heard the PostmasterGeneral make that statement.
– That is just the sort of company I should expect to find the honorable gentleman in when he makes such statements. As I read the report at the time - and I have seen it copied frequently since - the promise of employment was limited distinctly to the tramway employes. It pointed entirely in that direction, and to no other persons. I must further add that the tramway employes had not been affected in any way by the action of the Denham Government. It was the resistance of the tramway company that affected them.
– Has the honorable gentleman heard what was said about the Prime Minister at the same time? They accused him of being at that meeting, when, as a matter of fact, he was in Sydney.
– That is near enough for them.
– Returning to the calling out of the troops, I find, at all events, that one member of the Government has dealt with the question in its relation to strikes. Senator Pearce, trie Minister for Defence, had something to say on the subject in the Senate. Though the Prime Minister appears to have been misreported
– I was not misreported. I was not seen at all in the matter.
– Words were put into the honorable gentleman’s mouth.
– The incident is one which I could wish to forget, but I had nothing at all to do with it. The reference was by another gentleman, and, if certain people had any honour, it would have been kept out of the press.
– When I first heard that the statement was made by the Prime Minister I was amazed, since it is quite inconsistent with his later career that he should have uttered such words. Senator Pearce, during a debate in the Senate, said -
This Government, or any Government, if there is to be government, has the obligation of defending the laws which are upon the statutebook of the Commonwealth, whether the attack on the law comes from without or from within ; and I say that anything short of this is anarchy, and not government at all ; anything short of this is licence, and not law. No Government can be true to its trust unless it is prepared to take up that position.
During the same debate, Senator Pearce said -
If the laws of the country are opposed by force, are we to allow the lawless minority to tyrannize over the peaceful majority?
That is exactly the question we are asking to-day, and shall continue to ask insistently.
It is very unfortunate that the destructive side of industrial affairs should have engaged us so long, their constructive consideration apparently being thrown entirely into the shade. Our protest was necessary after a long recess, in order that we might finally dispose of past events before commencing to deal with the immediate duties and obligations of the present. So far as the means provided to settle industrial disputes by arbitration go, they received the support of members of all parties. The Governments in power when the foundation Bills were passed happened to be those of which I myself was a member. To conciliation and arbitration, not only ourselves, but parties as a whole were absolutely committed.
Since then, unfortunately, by retrogressive steps we find that discredit has been, and is being, cast upon peaceful and reasonable methods. The judicial machinery is being discredited and disowned, sometimes by the manner in which it is being employed and dropped at pleasure. Finally we have a new intimation, authoritatively indorsed by an honorable member opposite, of the strength of a movement for sweeping away the whole structure so painfully and laboriously raised in order to return to the primitive, dangerous, and costly method of the strike.
This illicit device, as it appears to me, is being adopted under the sanction of the organized bodies of labour, the trade unions, to whom one naturally looks for light and leading on these matters. If I may be permitted to say so, trade unionism could never have taken a step more dangerous to its own reputation, or more likely to turn to its injury in the future. Our original attempt was to deal with these questions through organizations, preserving the interests of individual citizens, even if they were grouped together by thousands. When industrial disputes arose, an impartial tribunal was to determine the settlement. That was to be obeyed. If it is to be ignored, and no doubt it can be swept away for all practical purposes by the united action of the trade union organizations, we shall not only have undone the work of many years, but shall plunge the whole community into very serious straits. As, so far, we have simply received a declaration of the intention of the unions in Sydney to hold themselves completely free from allegiance to the Arbitration Court, I do not feel called upon to examine the possibilities of such a new situation, but I take this my first opportunity of uttering a deprecatory warning of the possibilities and probabilities of the break away. If it means the blotting out from our statute-book of the laborious work accomplished during the last ten years, which certainly requires both revision and development, we shall not only give a very bad lead to civilized communities elsewhere at present considering our methods, but we shall also set back indefinitely the settlement of minor disputes, while major disputes will threaten to grow into compaigns that may finally convulse the affairs of the whole Commonwealth.
– We do not propose to do what you say. We simply reserve the right to strike as our ultimate weapon.
– If the honorable member sued me at law in a matter in which we were both concerned, and the Court gave a decision which he did not relish, the Court would not allow him to defy its judgment.
– We contend that in industrial matters we should be allowed to do as nations do with regard to treaties and alliances.
– The honorable member is demanding that those of our fellow citizens for whom he speaks shall be treated as a separate nation, or, rather, as a nation within a nation, with a Legislature and powers of its own that the rest of the community must obey.
– That is just what we are; we are a people apart from you.
– The honorable member’s doctrine involves the division of the whole community. He divides us into two antagonistic parties, against our will, and that though we are fellow subjects.
– Undoubtedly. The industrial strife is there all the time; you cannot get away from it.
– Have the honorable member and his colleagues thought of the effect of that doctrine upon all those who are outside the scope of the trade unions ?
– I speak for myself.
– I must ask the honorable member for Dalley to cease interjecting.
– The honorable member for Dalley is extremely straightforward in his replies. A part of our community is not organized into trade unions, and, according to the honorable member’s views, that part is somehow or other to continue to find the funds necessary to enable the trade unions to obtain as much as they think they ought to get whenever they like. On the one side we are to have a bod)’ of people who are to determine for themselves what their share of the wealth production of the community is to be, and on the other side a section who are to have no say as to their share or liabilities, but simply to provide the wealth, if it can, for trade unionists and their organizations whenever they want it. Can the honorable member conceive of a people holding together under those circumstances, remaining one people for production but two peoples for subdivision, one section having the whole sway? It is inconceivable. If the honorable member presses that doctrine, it means the disruption of society. It means our division into two segments and a hopeless convulsion of all social arrangements. It means a reign of force, especially if you follow up the practice, referred to earlier to-day, of the sectional strike for sectional interests. The process never has an end. The demands go round in a ring. As soon as you have gone round you begin again with fresh demands ?
– Quite right.
– What a prospect we see opening out before us ! This is what is called “ industrial peace,” into which we are expected to enter with our eyes open. I had hoped that I would be corrected and checked in my prediction, instead of receiving an unqualified assent. This I accept with the utmost unwillingness, for I believe it will be destructive to the Commonwealth, and, of course, also fatal to those workers whose interests are most directly involved.
– It received assent from one quarter only.
– I stand on my own feet, at any rate.
-I have asked the honorable member for Dalley to cease these continuous interjections, and the honorable member for Lang, and others, are carrying on a conversation which makes it impossible for the debate to proceed.
– Our two parties will represent, on the one side, the destructive, and, on the other side, the constructive; but I admit that stage cannot last long. If the destructive party is always to be the successful aggressor, the constructive party must cease to exist. The only outlook will be syndicalism. This means unionist syndicalism. It means the appropriation of all property by those who are engaged in connexion with it. How the trade groups will then settle between themselves as regards the different kinds of property I do not know. There may be great conflicts over that question. In any event, we are being led into a desert out of which I see no pathway. The main point is that a greater burden will now fall upon those on this side, and all who sympathize with them, to devote their attention more than ever, while there is still time, to evolving a constructive system of legislation which will appeal to the public as doing frank justice between man and man, and, as far as possible, between class and class.
– That will be something novel for you.
– A number of attempts were made in that direction in this country before the honorable member who interjects had any part or lot in legislation. Those attempts will continue to be made, because only those who examine and reflect upon the infinite variety of human undertakings and their development in this age, and in the novel circumstances which we are now witnessing, will realize how much the problem as a whole is beyond the wit of man to solve by any one effort. It can only meet with a progressive solution from time to time, by adjustments which, without disturbing the course of national events, will permit of the adoption of a juster and sounder system. That is not the system of the frequent and general strike on the least provocation, and the demand, by force, of toll from the rest of the community. That is recklessly destructive. The constructive programme must produce an entirely opposite state of affairs. I have already alluded to some methods which may be employed in manufactures and many occupations, such as co-operation, profit sharing, and other means which, if patiently pursued, can solve this question in the process of time in a way in which the ideas of the honorable member for Dalley can never hope to solve it. Human character and human ability differ so immensely in every respect, even in their ordinary employments, apart from all other circumstances, that to bring them all at once into line or to march them in one direction, is an achievement which no statesmen whom the world has ever seen would consider within the reach of our powers and possibilities. But on the other hand I submit that the constructive side of social legislation, instead of being torn down by the general strike, is worthy of extension, development, and perfection. Much, very much is possible by its means. But these gains cannot be achieved while the threat of a general strike is always hanging over the community. In the last resort men like the honorable member for Dalley and those behind him hold the last card. They are to have the whole of their demands granted, while those upon whom their demands are made may do nothing but concede them. The honorable member is laying his axe at the root of the tree of industrial legislation.
– The honorable member is quite right.
– He speaks not only for himself, but .for a number of other labour leaders who were associated with him in Sydney, and who assented to the following resolution -
That we demand the repeal of all industrial legislation that takes away the right of combination and the right to strike. Amendment, “ That pending the effective establishment of the proposed federation of labour, the present legislation be allowed to stand.” Amendment carried by 35 to 28.
The repeal is only postponed. Is that a correct statement?
– Quite correct.
– It says, “pending the establishment of the federation of labour.” That, I understand, is now in progress.
– I hope so.
– I have appealed to the honorable member to leave some consolatory hope to the rest of the community, but cannot get from him even the expression of a pious aspiration.
I await with interest the declaration of the Government proposals in respect to the establishment of an InterState Commission, because, as I have frequently pointed out, that Commission affords them one of the widest opportunities which have yet been presented for constructive work in several directions, and especially in connexion with the development of Australian industry. Personally, as a Protectionist, I have always looked forward to the establishment of that body as an independent and original authority to which can be referred without hesitation many of the practical propositions - some of them comparatively small and others of them very large - which await settlement before we can hope to witness a proper application of Protectionist principles at the Customs House.
– What have other honorable members opposite to say to that?
– On the fiscal question both sides of the House are divided. There is no need to disguise the fact that not only are there general divisions between Protectionists and anti-Protectionists in this Parliament, but there are also a series of minor divisions between those who are prepared to protect only certain industries and those who have wider aims. The important thing for all to recognise is that the establishment of an independent tribunal such as the Inter- State Commission is rendered more essential by that condition of affairs than by any other. For instance, from the Protectionist stand-point we find ourselves crippled by the continual challenges of existing duties, or against demands for new duties. I venture to say that there are dozens of duties in our Tariff which have been injuriously affected by mere conflicts of opinion as to facts. What we require is a Board which shall become familiar by practical knowledge with all these questions, and which, without disclosing the particular means - whether they be mechanical or chemical - by which various processes are being improved or cheapened, can so master every business affected as to be able to say what are the conditions surrounding its continuance, and how far its appeal for more consideration’, either in the direction of increased or altered duties, can be supported.
– Does the honorable member think that the Commission would l>e able to do that ?
– Yes, , gradually. But even such an expert body would only be able to find a verdict in respect of any particular industry for a certain period which it is impossible for any person to name. In this day of industrial inventions the conditions of industry change from month to month - one might almost say from week to week.
– I do not think that a Commission would be able to keep pace with the changing conditions.
– I think that such a Commission, properly officered, would be able to do so. Australia can well afford to sustain such a body because its value to the community would be incalculable. I have been frequently informed of facts which if they had been known when previous Tariff proposals were under consideration would hare materially affected the actions of the open-minded, men in Parliament. By the creation of an InterState Commission we should get rid of a very large percentage of the misunderstandings which have hitherto existed, and of the angry feelings which have been aroused by a sense of injustice. All that the Commission would be asked to do would be to ascertain the facts. For instance, it might find that the production of this inkstand cost so much in Australia, but that it could be cheapened by the adoption of such and such a process, or that it could never become a stable industry. In the light of facts of this description, Parliament would adjust the duty which should be levied upon that particular article.
– We should thus get a scientific system of protection without increasing the burden.
– Exactly. Protectionists above all others have urgently pressed for a better knowledge of the circumstances and possibilities of Australia. They have held that such a knowledge would put us in a tenfold better position to deal with our Tariff than any Australian Parliament has yet occupied. What is the Tariff which is operative now? It is that of 1908, with which nobody was satisfied when it was enacted. It defeated our hopes in respect of I do not know how many duties. The increases that were given resulted in a Tariff - there was some excuse at the time, but there is none now - to which a largely revenue tendency was deliberately given by a section of members who were in a position to make or unmake majorities. They wished, for other reasons, for a revenue Tariff ; and that is the Tariff we now have. It is a Tariff which, on its revenue side, was denounced by almost every member of the Government party. They only gave a few reluctant votes for any of those duties, and since they have been in office, have retained for two years, and are retaining those revenue duties for a third year without any reduction.
– The honorable member told the Ballarat people that he was going to ‘leave the Tariff alone !
-I did not tell the Ballarat people anything of the kind; but that is a matter that we can deal with another time.
– The honorable member was so reported in the Age.
– What I said, at Ballarat is what I am saying now, and it was said with the same purpose, namely, to show that an Inter-State Commission, proceeding on non-party’ lines, and dealing with existing facts and proposals in respect to the future, would, for the first” time, equip the House for a fair discussion of Protectionist proposals. I should not be pleading so strongly if I did not believe that the case for Protection, which now awaits an answer, is so good that an impartial investigation would satisfy most honorable members who are opposed to -it, and, further, that the country can well afford now to part with a number of re venue duties. We hear about the increase in the cost of living - an increase which has many causes, and opens up questions - too large to enter into now. Why a very successful strike which raises wages or lessens hours increases the cost of living?
– Would the honorable member reduce wages?
– No; but I should provide a means for fair play all round, not only to those who obtain increases in their wages, but to those who are entitled to an increase of Protection or a re-adjustment of the duties, if necessary, to make the conditions equitable.
– We have not the necessary constitutional power.
– I think we have the ability to do it, and I am sure we have the constitutional power. What we need is expert advice. If we have the courage to do what is necessary, we could then face the facts as never before, and remove the arbitrary lines often drawn between members of this House when a case was presented ex parte on both sides, leading to the swaying of votes for mixed reasons, and resulting in the present unsatisfactory Tariff of 1908. Until the expiration of the Braddon section, it was practically impossible to amend the Tariff seriously ; but since then we have been placed in a financial position enabling us to look the question fairly in the face, and that is what we ought to do at the earliest opportunity. I am sorry that in the Governor-General’s Speech I find no hope of the sort held out. I am sorry to think that Tariff revision is to be postponed to a future Parliament, the revenue duties continuing all the time. The overflowing Treasury will be continually employed no doubt on measures for most of which a good deal may be said from the point, of view of public advantage, but also on projects which could be better awaited than those of the manufacturers and their employes, who Have not been considered, and who cannot afford the delay until a fair Tariff is introduced and passed.
– This is very funny I like to hear the employes considered from that side !
– The employes have always received consideration from this side.
– Honorable members opposite have marvellous powers of concealing that consideration !
– On our side, the aim is to extend the scope of employment, and to raise the level of national well-being without resorting to coercion or confiscation.
When the present Opposition went to the country, we were met on every side with the complaint that, whatever else we had to say for ourselves, we could not promise anything like the wholesale grant of higher duties promised by members of the Caucus during this Parliament. We pointed out that, under our proposal, a branch of the Inter-State Commission would have investigated some portions of the Tariff during the first year of its existence, and more during the second year, and faster as time went on. We further pointed out that, in the light of experience, Protectionists who had faith in the policy need have nothing to fear from such inquiries as guarantees and safeguards. But a high Tariff at once was declared to be a necessary outcome of the return of the then Opposition to power. In Victoria and other States honorable members opposite were returned to this Parliament by majorities gained by assurances given by themselves, and taken as applying to the whole of their party, that large Tariff increases would certainly be made without any Inter-State Commission or inquiry - that generous additions would certainly be granted by a Labour Government with a Protectionist majority behind it. These promises have absolutely lacked fulfilment up to the present time.
– Who made those promises ?
– Such promises were made over and over again in Victoria and other States ; and if the honorable member did not make them, I am rather surprised, though I shall accept his word if he says he did not.
– I did not.
– Victoria rang with their promises ; and, in proof, I refer honorable members to the columns of the Age and other newspapers.
– Those newspapers did not report us.
– The newspapers reported honorable members fully, and called special attention to the Minister of Trade and Customs’ own claim on that account.
– But the honorable member has denied the Age.
– I have not; but merely dealt with what we have found out since then. These were the pro mises under which a number of honorable members won seats, which they never would have won if it had not . been understood that they absolutely pledged themselves to high Protectionist duties. Yet, according to the Governor-General’s Speech, this Parliament is to close without even an attempt to give effect to those promises. The alterations which have been made in the Tariff, when compared, not with the promises, but with what is everywhere recognised as necessary, do not amount to a percentage worth mentioning. Protection is not the only safeguard for Australia, but it is undoubtedly one of the essential considerations in a country of such huge possibilities of production - a country which requires to develop its means of utilizing its own productions in manufactured form, if we are to give our own people a fair chance of finding markets within our own borders as well as beyond.
Mr.Frazer. - Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition agree with that?
– How many honorable members sitting behind the Government who promised it now agree with it? As I said at the outset, there are differences which are frankly acknowledged, but prove no embarrassment on this side to a free expression of opinion or free action.
– Unless on the part of the honorable member for Flinders.
– The honorable member for Flinders has a perfect right to express his opinion on this subject, and I hope he will do so. The Inter-State Commission is empowered to deal with navigation, shipping, railways, and with the enormous area covered by the general title of trade and commerce. The Inter- State Commission is not authorized to deal with Customs duties, and no one desires that it should be; but what we desired was the creation of an expert Board, subject to the Inter-State Commission, devoting itself to those researches, inquiries, and experiments of which I have spoken, in order to keep this House in close touch with industrial progress abroad and progress at home. This would enable us to decide, in the light of knowledge, when we should grant further Protection, and to what extent. Such a body could continually conduct a close study of the industrial life of Australia, compiling complete records of growth or decadence, of the needs of the people, and the necessity for readaptation. Parliament . would shape its policy on its own principles, guided by the facts relating to prices and profits. These being ascertained would allow Protectionists and those who hold, other doctrines to consider in the light of those facts their obligations to the citizens who sent them to this or to the other Chamber. We are sadly in need of such an independent non-party body, if it were only to shorten debates in this House.
– Why did not the honorable member, when lie was at the head of a Government, appoint such a body?
– If we had occupied those benches longer, not only should we have done much good work, since neglected, which required to be done for Australia, but such a body would have been appointed by this time. Parliament would have been absolutely supreme in matters of policy, but we should have been able in some way to keep in touch with the marvellous developments, mechanical and other, of the present age which are having such effects upon the industrial life of this country. In point of fact, what such a body would do would be to keep the finger of Parliament upon the pulse of trade, so that it might be regulated with exactitude. We have hitherto never approached in any particular the consideration of our Tariffs in such a way as to promote the development of new industries for the good of Australia or of those existing which had proved to make for the general well-being of the whole community.
I have been told by way of interjection that there are honorable members of the party sitting on this side of the House who are not Protectionists. Well, the programme of this party has yet to be shaped by the Parliamentary party itself. But what proposals it has received from the leagues, drawn from every State and embracing every colour of fiscal and other political opinion in those leagues - what we Have obtained as a basis in this regard - is a declaration in favour of the full development of the resources and the industries of Australia and of oversea markets for our products. That shows that it is not only the Protectionists, but men who have never claimed to be Protectionists, who are willing to recognise this as a legitimate national platform to which effect should be given. There are other provisions further developing this plank. They may differ, and do differ, as to the methods which ought to. be employed for the development of the resources and the industries of Australia ; but nevertheless they put that as amongst the first duties of the Commonwealth Parliament. There is a. question in the minds of some as to the cost involved - as to whether the price to be paid is or is not here orthere too much. There may be duties which are too costly. The return from some would not perhaps be sufficient to justify ,their imposition. But, regarded from the Australian point of view, in my opinion it would be found that all the great industries of which we have accomplished the establishment, and some others which could be fostered, and which it would be to the interest of Australia to foster, could ‘ be buttressed in such a way that there would be no secret tax levied upon this community without its knowledge, and, on the other hand, no attempt to conserve foreign interests - both of which tendencies have been exhibited too often during my long experience of the discussion of Tariff questions. We should get, for the first time, men who would put the welfare of Australia first, and who would regard the industries of Australia as amongst it greatest possible possessions.
– What do the Free Trade members of the honorable member’s party think of that idea ?
– I have sufficient knowledge of the capacity of my colleagues to know that they are perfectly well able to take care of themselves, and to answer for themselves as Liberals.
– Why did they not let the honorable member speak at Goulburn?
– I can say frankly that the places chosen for me to speak at were very kindly selected as near the Victorian border as possible, in order to permit me to spend my Sunday at home.
– The places were very astutely chosen.
– Finally, the other recommendation of this body is that it would prevent future attempts to make protective issues the tools of any party, but would lead to their consideration on their merits - according to the possibilities of an industry and its opportunities in this continent, and not according to political necessities or to meet the exigencies of party government. As it is, we shall close this Parliament with no Tariff amendment worth mentioning. It is true that the programme of the party opposite still contains the mystic words “ new Protection,” but it is so new that we have never seen it, and so little protective that we have never recognised it as Protection at all. Surely the phrase must be a misprint for “ no Protection.”
– The honorable member himself used the phrase.
– I gave “ new “ a definite meaning in definite measures. But what has been done in shaping a new Protection policy during this Parliament? Nothing !
– We have not the power.
– If we had the numbers the present Government possess and occupied their position, we should not only have the power, but should have exercised it.
– The High Court has ruled that we have not the power.
– No, the High Court has not so ruled.
– We all know what happened in regard to the McKay case.
– In that case our legislation was framed on the advice of one of the best lawyers Australia has known. It is true that the particular proviso was declared void by a majority of the High Court, but even the judgments of the majority admitted that it required close examination to decide where the lines should be drawn. Besides, that by no means closed the possibilities of the adoption of new Protection. There was still a large field for. operation of which we could have availed ourselves in the light of further experience, and which would not have been in conflict with the High Court judgment.
– As usual, that means nothing.
– But there is to be no new Protection this session, and no attempt to develop Australian industries.
– No power.
– It is not that; but it appears as if the only real object that the honorable member and his colleagues have in view is to make the policy of new Protection, as they would interpret it, merely a first step towards the complete nationalization of all industries. Judging from their programme and tactics that is their goal.
This then is the point at which we absolutely part company. That is one of the misuses of Protectionist principles against which I protested in advance. If it is only intended to fatten up our industries for later consumption by the Government of the Commonwealth, with the object throughout this huge continent of taking control over them, we shall bid farewell, not only to the progress, but also to the security of this Commonwealth. Let there be no mistake here. This is the real line of division between us. We put forward as a national policy the development of the industries of Australia, but we insist that those industries and those resources are to be developed by private enterprise, under the control of laws which shall secure equity and justice in the matter of wages, hours, and conditions of employment. Our fundamental difference is not in respect to those wages, hours, and conditions, but in respect to the nationalization of all those industries instead of their preservation in the hands of our citizens and workers, and their progress by the motive power of independent initiative. We rely upon our citizens working for their own families and their own future to develop our resources and perfect our industries in a way that could never be attained by a regimented body of public employes marshalled under political control and bringing political pressure to bear in their own class interest, no matter how ruinous its effects might be upon Australian interests at home and abroad. Big as Australia is, immense as her resources are, she cannot live alone any more than any other continent can. She looks to her oversea trade, and the development of oversea markets, for her produce is one of the chief aims set out in the programme of the Liberal leagues. That is the comprehensive spirit in which this programme was dictated, and in which it is to be read. It covers the whole of Australia and the whole of Australian development.© It means the full calling forth of all the powers, abilities, qualities, and characters of the people of Australia, not their suppression as citizens, not their dressing always in the same garb and being driven along the same road under the same whip.’ It means no such subjection. But, given fair conditions and interplay of faculties established under proper authorities, and these within the means of Australia, each of its citizens living his or her own life, and doing the best for himself or herself, as the case may be, the Australian Parliament will have done all that can be expected from any Government.
There are very important facts in connexion with the struggle that took place at the recent Hobart Conference. At the
Hobart Conference, by a large majority, an article was passed binding the members of the Government and the members of their party to take nothing less than the referendum proposals submitted to the country last year. The whole of those proposals have now become part of the Labour platform, to which every member of the Labour party is committed, and to which every elector is to be committed.
– That is not so.
– Not until after the next election.
– But it is to be submitted at the next election.
– Even so, we shall still have ourselves to please.
– I fail to understand that interjection.
– I mean that that platform does not bind the party that is here to-day.
– It is for the next three years.
– Yes; and every member of the Labour party voted for it last year at the referendum. What is the matter now ?
– That is another affair.
– What has changed since last year?
– It is not a party question.
– I did not say it was. What I did say was that honorable members opposite all voted for all of it last year, and are all going to vote for all of it again. They have made it an- essential article of their programme. I await illumination from the Prime Minister; but, so far as I can see, supposing such a thing were possible, if the present Government were returned again with a majority at the next general election
– There is no fear of that.
– Well, supposing the Labour party were returned with the same majority at the next election, man for man as they are at present, and that at the referendum the Bill embodying these proposals were rejected, I do not know how even that majority could hold office in this House, so absolutely are they committed to it, so absolutely have they bound up themselves with this proposal, and so clearly does it mark out many strides towards the common goal of nationalization. A Government whose policy has been rejected cannot be considered a Government.
– What proposal?
– The referendum proposal. What the carrying of that referendum would mean is the reduction of all the State Governments of Australia to the position of mere local governing bodies and glorified road boards-
– The sooner the better.
– Very well. It means their reduction to mere glorified road boards endowed, except in regard to education, with no great power worthy of a Parliament. It means introducing, of necessity, the honorable member for Herbert’s pet scheme for the subdivision of the whole Commonwealth into a series of extensive municipalities, conducting local works under the control of the Commonwealth. You may offer any illustrations you please-
– The illustration of the Swiss system.
– The German system.
– Those illustrations do not fit exactly. Any one who compares Australia with either Switzerland or Germany without recognising the enormous physical differences, to say nothing of other distinctions, leaves cut some of the chief factors in the problem. I do not wish, however, to detain the House by dealing with that interesting phase of the question. At the next election the submission of the referendum proposal in its full proportions will be by far the gravest feature of the Government policy. As a whole, it throws a clear light upon the plain purpose of the Government policy, which is to carry out their plank as to the nationalization of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange without further delay.
– The nationalization of monopolies.
– With power to this Parliament to define a monopoly as anything it pleases, from a matchbox to the whole of the industries of Australia. A fine safeguard that is !
I will not now accept the tempting invitation to discuss with the honorable and learned member the question of monopolies. The relation of the Government to monopolies is one of the puzzles of the situation. It leaves us hopelessly involved. Sometimes they are on one side of the hedge, sometimes on the other ; but, as a rule, there are usually some of their members on each side, and which is going to win in the contest is more than I can say. Apart from the extravagant power of definition of “monopolies” - really a great legislative power in disguise - which was included in the last proposals, the one justification that the AttorneyGeneral has for his reference to monopolies is that it suits the Government to say that they are opposed to monopolies. As part of their nationalization scheme, they necessarily would take over any monopolies they found in existence, if there are any, and would then proceed to create others of their own. Their object is one monopoly of all employments and appointments, that one monopoly being placed in the hands of, above all other people, a Government changing from Parliament to Parliament, perhaps from session to session. It ls to pass into the hands of different Governments professing different principles, but always mainly occupied with securing the votes of their employes.
– Why should the Government be changed?
– Only because the electors think it ought to be, even at times when it may not suit the honorable member himself. If the policy that is being adopted in regard to the Referendum Bill and to the Hobart Conference programme is brought to its full fruition, it will simply mean, instead of government of the people by the people for the people, government toy a fraction for a faction.
– There is no satisfaction about that policy, any way.
– Not to those who are opposed to the rule of a fraction and universal nationalization.
I have to apologize for having omitted from the early portion of my remarks a reference to a resolution of the Hobart Conference, which I wish, briefly, to place on record as being extremely important in its relevance to my previous comments on the application of Queensland for assistance, and the reply of the Commonwealth Government. It reads as follows : -
That the Defence Act should be so amended as to clearly set forth that the object of creating a Citizen Defence Force, based upon universal compulsory military training and service, is for the purpose of defending the Commonwealth against possible foreign aggression, and therefore -
So far so good. There is no real bearing in the “therefore,” but here it comes - and therefore, under no circumstances, should any person so enrolled be compelled to bear arms against any fellow Australian citizen, nobwithstanding anything contained in the oath of allegiance, or in any other of the conditions of . compulsory service.
During the Broken Hill strike of 1909 the statement, mistakenly attributed to the Prime Minister, was made on authority. This resolution was passed at the last Labour Conference, which met at Hobart on Monday, 8th January, 1912, and closed on 1 2th January. The telegram of the Queensland Government was sent to the Prime Minister on the 1st February, and his reply was made on the 2nd February. This appears to have been the date of Mr. Coyne’s telegram, and the reply to it; so that, at the time when the services of the Citizen Defence Force were denied to Queensland, the resolution I have read had been recently passed by the Hobart Conference.
Now I am told, by interjection, that this is not binding until the next election.
– It is not binding at all.
– It is only a resolution !
– I am told that it is only a resolution.
– Do you not envy us?
– I do not propose to pause to consider either the arguments or the principles. Here is, a clear piece of dictation by the Conference to the Commonwealth Government, and the coincidence that the Commonwealth Government, when it was applied to for action under the Constitution, declined to take it. What connexion, if any, there is between these events it is for Ministers to explain.
I am also unable to touch on several of the matters included in the amendment of which I gave notice, owing to the lapse of ‘ time and the failure of my physical strength, which has embarrassed and, I fear, impaired my arguments throughout. I find that I havenot, except lightly and incidentally, dwelt upon the maladministration or on the financial extravagance or on the appointments which have been made, on’ which I intended to touch. Attention has already been called to the latter, indirectly ; and I have no doubt that my omissions in these regards will be more than made up before this debate is closed. The amendment as it stands was drawn with reference to the direct material available for criticism in these other matters. Personally, I can proceed no farther at present. In order that the amendment should harmonize with the proposed
Address to His Excellency, it should be submitted as an addition, and therefore I beg to move -
That the following words be added to the Address : - “ and to inform Your Excellency that the Government merits the censure of the House and the country for its failure to realize its national and constitutional obligations, for flagrant neglect of its duty to secure industrial peace and good order, and to uphold the law within the Commonwealth ; for its maladministration of public affairs and public departments; for its grossly partisan actions and appointments, and its reckless irresponsibility in the financial affairs of the Commonwealth.”
– The Government cannot accept the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition ; and I hope that the debate will be as brief and concise as possible, so that we can get to other and more important business. I have much pleasure, indeed, in complimenting the new member for Werriwa, not only upon the subject-matter of his speech, but also upon the thoughtful and moderate way in which he presented his ideas. Honorable members will agree with me, I am sure, that he is a new member of’ some promise, who will carry out the duties imposed upon him by his constituents in a manner worthy of any one occupying a seat here.’1 1 would be failing in my duty if I did not also heartily compliment the honorable member for Indi, who seconded the adoption of the Address-in-Reply in, if he will allow me to say so, one of the best speeches which, he has delivered in the House. The Leader of the Opposition has made a rather lengthy speech in moving an amendment which was given notice of at the last sitting,’ but which was only submitted at the very end of his remarks. If honorable members will read the amendment, they will discover that the Leader pf the Opposition did not, in any part’ of his speech, touch on the three essential matters referred to in it, the maladministration! of public affairs, the making of wrong appointments, and irresponsibility in financial matters. Does he ask the House and country to believe that the proper conduct of financial affairs is unimportant? The proper administration of the finances is of the first importance to any country. Although the’ honorable member for Ballarat and the members of his party, with the press behind them, have been stumping the country, declaring that the finances are being administered in a loose and unconstitutional way, he concluded an address extending over a whole day without making a single allegation against Ministers in reference to their conduct of financial affairs.
– The honorable member will hear plenty on the subject.
– He will get it all.
-We have read all sorts of charges in the newspapers, and heard everything that could be said, in every tone and manner, in every offensive and lying way.
– The honorable member will hear it in the true way.
– During the Werriwa election, probably twenty tons of literature on the subject was circulated, but not one of the pamphlets which I read contained a’ truthful statement of the facts.
– Furnish the proof of that!
– Honorable members opposite, with the newspapers behind them, are in a coward’s castle ; but they dare not make here the statements which they have made outside. The ablest orator in Australia, in his great effort to-day, has dealt almost entirely with industrial disputes, and especially with the Brisbane strike. I cannot be expected to conclude my remarks to-night, and reply to him in full ; but I wish to make perfectly clear the attitude of the Government, and my personal attitude, towards the Brisbane strike. Ministers carefully considered the request for military assistance sent by the Government of Queensland, through the Governor of that State to the GovernorGeneral, and came to the conclusion set forth in their moderate reply, that the circumstances did not warrant the calling out of the military. I have an advantage of the honorable member for Ballarat in knowing Queensland. My recollection goes back to a time when the military was called out mistakenly and wrongly, and with great injury to the country. I kept myself well informed - not through partisans - of the state of affairs in Brisbane, and, knowing Brisbane unionists as I did, felt convinced, when the demand was made for the military, that there was no likelihood of the acts of violence which the honorable member for Ballarat suggested were possible. He reiterated statements about dynamite having been found here and there on the tram tracks. Did he mean to suggest that the leaders of the strike were in some way connected with those responsible for this?
– I went out of my way to show that that is not in the least necessary.
– Then what connexion had the subject with that under discussion?
– Every connexion.
– It was a wretched coincidence. Every honest man, whether he believes in the strike or not, would dissociate our party from those who placed dynamite on the tram lines.
– You set fire to the grass, and must take the consequences.
– I hope that that sentence has no double meaning. Setting fire to grass is one of the worst things that a man could do in a country like this. Although over 20,000 artisans and other work people were unemployed in Brisbane during the strike, not a single act of crime was committed.
– What !
– On each day during which the strike lasted, more heinous offences were committed in Melbourne than took place in Brisbane.
– What did Mr. Coyne want military aid for?
– The Leader of the Opposition should have made Mr. Coyne his friend for life in speaking of him as -the king of the situation, and the man in control. Those remarks will be highly appreciated by Mr . Coyne. But few of us would indorse every act of Mr. Coyne, -or even every act of the strike. The Leader of the Opposition tried to leave the impression’ that the cause of the strike was a dispute as to the wearing of a badge, and that there should have been no strike because the matter had been referred to the Court of Arbitration. That would have been a good position but for the -facts. What were they? The disputes between the tramway company and the men had been occurring for the last five years. Mr. Badger is an able and accomplished manager, and carried out his work with a view to making dividends; but he hated unionists, and made no pretence about his feeling towards them. . Whenever a unionist could be dismissed, he was dis- missed. The time came when independent unionists said, “Our fellow- workers shall not be victimized with impunity.” Men who had souls and minds were ashamed to allow their representatives to be made the victims of a tyrant. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to answer, this question : Does he say that he would support a company which would, during a time of stress, shoot men merely because they were opposed to it?
– Shoot men?
– Yes; kill them by the most effective means they could adopt. The representatives of a union are elected in a legal way under the Act. Part of their duty is to promote unionism. The union has declared that, according to the legal advice given them, the wearing of a badge during the time they are employed is legal. They cannot get to the Courts of Queensland to have the matter decided. They endeavour to get an InterState dispute in order to get to the Commonwealth Court that the legality of the badge may be decided. In the interregnum between the application to the Court and the hearing of the matter by the Court, some of the prominent members of the union are dismissed from their employment for no reason of incompetence, but because they were the elected responsible representatives of the men forming their union. The honorable member for Ballarat told us that there are rules even in the conduct of a war. So there are. I hope that there are rules even among barbarous peoples, but I do not think any one would fall so low in a civilized community as to justify a powerful company, having a monopoly and political influence behind it, shooting representative men amongst their employes, or, as far as possible, killing them industrially. Those of us who have ploughed through these fields cannot be deceived by twaddle about the alleged outrages of unionists. We cannot be deceived by a case made for the newspapers. We have been behind the scenes, and have had experience of these things from our youth up. I say in this Parliament to-day, as I -said in Queensland, that I am proud of the way the unionists in Brisbane conducted themselves during that trying time. Their action represents the greatest compliment that could be paid to the people of Australia. It . heartens one to think that whatever troubles may arise in this country, so long as we have a body of men like them, of strong courage and honorable moral instincts, we need have no fear of any internal trouble, and we certainly have nothing to fear from outside aggression of any kind. Let us consider the position in which the women folk of some of the men who were dismissed from the tramway service were placed. During a long period they lived in a constant state of anxiety. They lost the bloom of youth, which to women is worth almost more than life itself, because they knew that their husbands were independent men, and would speak their minds. No doubt, husband and wife talked matters over each day, and both must have felt that the time would soon come when trouble would fall upon them. In the face of this, the honorable member for Ballarat talks lightly of the aggression of these people in leaving their employment, causing disturbance, and so on.
– When their case was coming before the Court.
– I say that during that time of truce, employes of the tramway company were being shot, speaking industrially. What kind of men would their fellows have been if they had allowed their representatives to be passed out of their employ while a case was being made ready for the confederation of the Court ? These are the facts,. Let me pass rapidly to the question of the appeal for the assistance of the military. The Leader of the Opposition was good enough to say, and I thank him for dealing with the matter so explicitly, that he did not read section 119 of the Constitution as mandatory on the Commonwealth Government to send troops merely because they were requested to do so. As my colleagues are aware, that is the view of the matter which I took as a layman. The honorable member for Ballarat was good enough to admit that, under excitement, a State Premier might ask what the Commonwealth Government would feel it their duty to refuse. That exactly describes the circumstances under which we refused the appeal for military aid. I ask for no sympathy for the Government in this matter. We did not send troops to Queensland when they were asked for. We considered that we had the power to accede to, or refuse, the request, that on the evidence before us there was no warrant for the demand made for assistance at the time, arid we refused it. I shall refer more at length to that matter later on. I . wish to deal with a matter which is outside this particular question, which concerns neither this nor the opposite party, but the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. I have not consulted my colleagues, and I therefore .speak for my self only when I say that, in my opinion, had we been so unfortunate that, in our view, the situation at that time compelled ,the granting of the request for troops, and they had been sent, an irreparable injury would have been done to Australia. I go so far as to say that a conflict between the troops and the people of Australia at the present time would mean the end of our first-class defence system. It would absolutely defeat and destroy the wonderful system for the defence of this country which is being successfully inaugurated at this time. I am not saying that circumstances could not arise when it would be necessary to send troops to the assistance of a State Government, but I mention what,, in my opinion, would have been the effect if we had acceded to the request of the Queensland. Government. On the question of the publication by certain newspapers of a statement attributed to me, 1 have to say that I wish the reference had never been made. The statement has been published in almost every newspaper in Queensland, lt arose in some mysterious manner that had nothing whatever to do with me. I think it is known that it affects another person. 1 allowed it to be published in Queensland1 without a reply, and here to-day it is brought up again by the Leader of the Opposition. I must once more deny that E ever uttered or authorized the statementOther papers require only to be examined* to show how the matter arose. I must not close without making some reference to remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition regarding the Australian note issue. Itmust have been amusing to my honorable friends on this side to hear the honorable gentleman state that the success of the Australian note issue rests upon some action? taken by honorable members opposite. We have been invited to believe that the reason, why it is in a stable condition to-day is that: I made a certain promise to the honorable member for Flinders that, until after the next election, I would hold a larger reserve in gold to meet the notes than I think necessary. That is not the reason for thestability and satisfactory condition of our note issue. That is perhaps a reason whyit is not in as good a position as it mightbe. But we have in this matter to -treat our honorable friends opposite as an olderperson treats a younger, or as a father treats a child. It is necessary totake certain persons by easy stages. If they are handled with patience they may be brought over. I wish to say again that in keeping not less than 25. per cent, of our note issue in gold at the Treasury, which would mean an average reserve of one-third in gold for a working margin, we should have an ample gold reserve against a national note issue. 1 promised the Opposition and Parliament, and the country that I would keep a gold reserve of 40 per cent, until Parliament met. I have been faithful to that promise; but the real effect is that we have less money to employ, and, consequently, less earnings from the note issue. The fluctuation until now has not amounted to 5 per cent. The gold comes in and the notes are taken away. May I state again to the House and trie country, and to all those who wish to listen to me, the basis of this note issue? Nobody is Asked to take a note or keep it unless he desires it in preference to gold. People have to bring the gold to the Treasury before they get the notes. If they went out of the door and came back with the notes, they would get their gold, and we should Accept the notes again. During the Werriwa election it was reported to me that the honorable member for Parramatta had said that the gold reserve in the Treasury vaults was depleted, and I.O.U.’s put in instead of gold. The honorable member for Parramatta shakes his head, implying that he did :not say it. I am glad to know it. Personally, I do not know whether all the gold is in the safes or not; but I can say that I hold “the certificate of the Auditor-General that the safes were sealed with that amount in them. That is the position I occupy. I do- not count the gold, but it is pitiful to find the names of men prominent in the public^ life of the Commonwealth being used in connexion with malicious statements, apparently made’ for the purpose of misleading the public.
– I will tell the right honorable member plainly enough next week what I did say.
– I do not know how the honorable member is going to put it. If we had invested the whole amount, instead of earning ^190,600, which will be the figure up to the end of this, month, we should probably have earned a considerable amount more, the States would have benefited, and the people would have benefited also. I now desire leave to continue’ my speech when we meet again.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Yesterday the honorable member for Ballarat announced that he intended to move a motion, and the House adjourned because of that intimation. Thinking that the motion was in the hands of the House, and that I might reasonably, under standing order 92, ask the honorable member a question concerning it, I attempted to do so, with results with which the House is well acquainted. As there may be some who desire to know the question I wished to ask, it was this -
Whether the honorable member for Ballarat recently said at a public meeting at Ballarat that the Customs imports into Australia were increasing by millions of pounds, and that the Tariff should be re-opened for the purpose of giving more protection to Australian industries. If he said that, why has he made no reference in his want of confidence motion -to the Government’s silence regarding the re-opening of the Tariff, and has the Leader of the Opposition refrained from making reference to. the matter out of deference to the fiscal opinions of the Free-trade section of the Fusion, Messrs. Joseph Cook, W. E. Johnson, and others?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4. n p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 June 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120621_reps_4_64/>.