4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask you,
Mr. Speaker, a question on a matter of privilege, and drawyour attention to the following statement, which appears in this morning’s Age: -
Senate Candidates. wreckers’moveresultless.
The executive of the Constitutional Union waited as a deputation on Victorian members of the Federal Parliament in Mr. Denkin’s room at Parliament House yesterday afternoon. Mr. Deakin and a small body of members were present. The object of the deputation was to prevail upon the parliamentary party to arbitrate in the difficulties that have been raised in connexion with Mr. Manger’s candidature for the Senate. They proposed that the Victorian members should intervene, and that their decision as to Mr. Mauger’s position on the Liberal ticket should be final. During the discussion, however, a difficulty as to the union’s precise standing in the matter was raised. It was questioned whether it was vested in powers to make any request to the parliamentary party. The largest and most powerful of the leagues, the People’s Liberal party, has specifically declined to allow such intervention by the Victorian members.
– Does the honorable member propose to read much more ?
– It is necessary to read the whole report so that you may understand the position -
This point was acknowledged to be good, and no change in the situation resulted from yesterday’s deputation. It is understood that the union will therefore be bound once more to consult with the leagues.
I wish to know if the Leader of the Opposition has privileges other than those of an ordinary member, and whether any member may bring political bodies into the rooms of this building for the purpose of concocting schemes connected with the next election campaign?
– The extract read by the honorable member is so long that I might well have been given notice of the question. I was unable to gather from what was read exactly what took place, but, as the honorable member is aware, newspaper statements are sometimes most unreliable. It is not permissible for outside bodies to use the rooms of this building, but I am unable to say whether any room has been so used. If any room was used for the purpose of a meeting by other than members, its use was distinctly wrong.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether the deadlock in the negotiations between this Government and that of South Australia regarding the transcontinental railway is at an end, or whether a settlement is likely to be reached at an early date.
– I can only repeat what I told the honorable member for Coolgardie yesterday. There is hope of an amicable settlement, and I trust that it will be arrived at soon.
Debate resumed from 25th June (vide page 158), 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.
Upon which Mr. Deakin had moved -
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.”
Mr.HUGHES (West Sydney- AttorneyGeneral) [2.35]. - Speaking at Ballarat sometime ago, the Leader of the Opposi- tion, who represents the constituency of that name, made this statement -
The Coal Monopoly had a judgment standing against it in the High Court. It was curious that the representative of the Labour Govern- ment assented to an application of the parties fined as monopolists when they made application for their case to be postponed for a considerably long time.
The honorable and learned member repeated that statement at least once, and others followed the example. The honorable member for Went worth also stated that the Government had suddenly abandoned all proceedings against the Tobacco Trust.
– I have not with me a copy of the report of the honorable member’s remarks, but the purport of the criticism was to that effect, and he further stated that we had concurred in the application for a lengthened postponement of the Vend’s appeal case, and intended to allow the Vend another year in which to fleece the public. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has exonerated the Crown Solicitor and Mr. Bavin, who appeared as counsel for the Crown, from any blame in this matter, and therefore it rests solely upon my shoulders. The honorable member for Ballarat also repeated a statement which, I learn, he has previously made, that I have publicly disowned respon sibility for the Coal Vend prosecution action, and that I have declared many times that it was initiated by the Deakin Government, who gladly accepted the responsibility. I shall deal with those statements in turn.
What is known as the Anti-Trust Act was passed in 1906. This Government took office on 29th April, 1910. From the date of the passing of that measure, in 1906, to the 29th April, 1910, the day on which we came into office, no trust had been prosecuted.
– The honorable member was in office in 1908.
– The honorable and learned member has already spoken. It is now my turn. From 1906 to 29th April. 1910, nothing had been done, but, of course, there was nothing very curious about that.
– The honorable member was in office in 1908.
– The honorable and learned member will please be quiet ; if not, I shall ask Mr. Speaker to keep him quiet. When I say that nothing was done, I mean that nothing substantial - nothing that would affect the trust - happened. The trust lost no sleep ; it lost no money ; and it lost no opportunity to fleece the public.
The history of the matter may be briefly recited. In September, 1907, the question of the coal combine was referred to the Crown Solicitor for opinion, and, on 22nd November of that year, a report was presented by the Crown Solicitor with the opinion that proceedings should be taken.
– And in 1908 there was a Labour Government in office.
– I am quoting from the official records. In June, 1908, when the honorable member for Darling Downs held office as Attorney-General, instructions were issued to settle writ and advise on evidence, and, in July of that year, questions were submitted to the coal and shipping companies. In August, the Crown Solicitor reported the result of inquiries in Adelaide, and the Attorney-General authorized all necessary inquiries in other States. On 5th September, proceedings were authorized to be taken for refusal to answerquestions, and, on 28th September, Messrs. Appleton and Huddart Parker were fined in the Police Court. In October, the appeal was set down for hearing, but was not reached. On 13th November, 1908, the first Fisher Ministry came into office, and, on 5th December, the appeal was postponed owing to the illness of Mr. Justice O’Connor. On 2nd June, 1909/ the
Deakin Ministry came into office, and, five days later, judgment was given in the Huddart Parker case. In November, answers to questions were received, and on 24th December a long report was furnished by the Crown Solicitor. On 26th February, 1910, Mr. Bavin commenced the investigation and tabulation of evidence. On 19th March, counsel’s suggestions and advice were forwarded to the Attorney-General ; while, on 15th April, a person, whose name I shall not mention, handed certain minutebooks to the Department of Trade and Customs. On the following day, further questions were tentatively settled. But the first serious step was not taken until two days after the general election of 13th April, 19 10, when the secretary of the Associated Colliery Proprietors - the “Vend” - handed in the minute-books; and, on the 16th April, as I have said, further questions were settled. On 2 1 st April - eight days before the present Government came into office - Mr. Glynn, who then held office as AttorneyGeneral, wrote a departmental memorandum, as follows -
On Thursday, 31st Mardi, 1910, I had a long conference in the Attorney-General’s Office, Sydney, with Mr. Bavin, one of the counsel, Mr. Shand, ICC. being up-country, on the evidence and particular charges and defendants. I told him that on answers to further evidence being received, books containing records of meetings being handed over, and details of Adelaide, S.A., Government contracts taken, the writs should be prepared and settled foi issue.
Books less some pages now received.
On 18th April, Mr. Garran wrote that he had conferred with counsel as to settling questions on 20th and 21st April, conferred with Mr. Powers, who said draft questions not yet received, and that delay had been caused by difficulty of getting counsel ; Mr. Shand now back ; when questions issued and answered and South Australian evidence - which was only or mainly evidence of detriment - taken - the case would he ripe for proceedings.
We came into office eight days after Mr. Glynn’s memorandum had been written. On 5th May, or six days after I took office as AttorneyGeneral, the Crown Solicitor was instructed to expedite, as far as practicable, the initiation of proceedings. On 29th May the writs were issued, whilst on 4th June further writs were issued. In August statements of claim was served. Particulars were demanded by defendants, and were given in October following. Then further particulars were ordered to be served by 1st April, and issue was joined in February, 191 1. Notice of trial was given for 10th April, and the hearing began on 13th April. There were forty defendants and thirty charges, and the hearing, which extended over seventy-three sitting days, was completed on 29th August. Judgment, which was reserved, was delivered on 20th December, its delivery occupying no less than three days. View it as you please, it was a monumental judgment, and it has excited the admiration of the Judiciary of other countries. We have been requested to supply the United States Supreme and State Courts with copies of it, and it stands today the most comprehensive judicial utterance extant on anti-trust legislation under our own statute, as well as that of America, which does not differ fundamentally from our own, not even excluding that recently given in the Standard Oil case. The judgment was in favour of the Crown. The defendants, thirty-nine in number, were each fined ^500, with costs, and the combine was ordered to be forthwith dissolved. This brings me, incidentally, to the statement made by the honorable member for Wentworth that we had allowed this’ Trust to continue its rapacious way, and to fleece the public for another year. Had the honorable member taken the trouble to read even the summary of the judgment he would have learned how utterly futile and silly his statement was, because, as I have said, on the 20th of December last, the day upon which the judgment was given, the combine was dissolved. It is not now in existence, and its power to fleece the public, so far as this law is concerned, has absolutely passed away. Therefore the public are amply safeguarded, and if the appeal were never heard the public would not be one whit the worse. That is one point, and a most important one.
Notice of appeal was first given by one of the defendants in January. No other notice of appeal was given until the 14th March, which was five or six days inside the period in which notice could be given. I may say that negotiations had been in progress about which I am not free to speak, but it was very doubtful whether there would be an appeal at all. Five days before the expiry of the time fixed by the Court, an appeal was lodged on behalf of the shipping companies. On the 29th March the shipping companies intimated definitely that their appeal was going on. The April sittings were then at hand. I may remind the House that the case took seventy- three days to hear; the delivery of the judgmentoccupied three days, and it is very clear to anybody, to a lawyer particularly, that no litigant could hope to get the printing done in the two or three days which elapsed from the 29th March to the April sittings.The Court never expected it; nobody expected it, and had we insisted upon it, of course, the Court would not have listened for one moment to such a demand, and we should have been charged by the people outside, and by my honorable and learned friend opposite, no doubt, with attempting to crush to the dust the poor harmless trust. An application was made on the 13th May to Mr. Justice Barton in Chambers, and on the 14th May, Malleson, England, and Stewart, the solicitors for the trust, informed the Crown Solicitor that they were instructing counsel that it was impossible to be ready for the 29th July, and urging him to press for a later date. On the 16th May the application was made to the Full Court in Sydney. From February it was perfectly clear that the appeal could not be heard before the sittings which are fixed to commence on the 29th July, and which nearly always begin in August. The whole question then was whether the appellant should be heard at the beginning of the sittings or later in the sittings. Instructions were given to the counsel for the Crown to anake an application to fix a date, and both parties appeared before the Court on the 26th February of this year. I will read the Instructions to the House.
It is impossible for either party to get ready under those circumstances for the next sittings of the High Court fixed for April. It will take a long time to select what both sides rerequire . .. and some time to get the printing done, and a reasonable time before hearing ….
The parties would be pleased to know when It will suit the Court to hear the appeal.
It might be pointed out for the Court’s consideration : -
It was anticipated, and it is anticipated, that the appeal will take at least four weeks. If honorable members will remember that the Chief Justice was speaking to that effect, and referred to the consequent dislocation of other business in other States, they will understand His’ Honour’s references. When an application was made by Mr.
Mitchell in Melbourne on the 26th February
TheChief Justice said that as the appeal had not been set down he could not make any order, but that ifnotice of appeal was. given, and it was set down for the April sittings and application was then made, it would be ad journed till the 29th July. He was then asked by Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Starke to say whether the Court would take the Sydney business first and fix the 26th August for the hearing of the appeal, but he said he would not do that at present, but that if any application was made he would consult the other Judges and state whether they would take it on the 29th July or a fortnight or a month later.
I now come to the statement that it was a very “ curious thing that the Crown assented to the application for a postponement of the appeal for a considerably long time.” I want the House and the country to remember what “ a long time “ means in reference to this case. This case had its genesis in 1907 - that is five years since. From that day to this it has been, sleeping or waking, going on its long journey. It was proposed to postpone the hearing of the appeal from the 29th July until some day in August; that is to say, for about thirty clays ! Was this a ‘ considerably long time “ ? It certainly was very “curious” that the honorable member for Ballarat who had managed to postpone this case for four years, should say that it was very “curious “ that we should assent to an adjournment for thirty days !
Mr. Bavin, counsel for the Crown, was asked by me to state, in reply to what my honorable and learned friend said, whether he was instructed by the Crown to agree to a “ considerably long adjournment,” whether he had said that the Crown could not be ready by the 29th July.
– What did the defendants ask ?
– I am going to read it.
– Why not read it in order ? It comes first.
– The other night the honorable member for Wentworth quoted the Chief Justice, as follows : -
An application was made to me and I understood Mr. Bavin, who appears for the Crown, to say that the Crown could not be ready by July 29th.
I propose to read Mr. Bavin’s statement -
I have no recollection whatever of stating that (he Crown could not be ready by29th July - I had no instructions to say so - I ‘had no reason to say so - and such a statement certainly would not have represented my own view of the facts. The only thing that makes me hesitate to assert positively that I did not say so, is Mr. Justice Barton’s observation in the Full Court that he understood me to say that the Crown could not be ready. I do remember that some reference was made in Mr. Justice Barton’s chambers to Mr. Powers’ absence in England, and 1 think that I stated frankly that the Crown did. desire that Mr. Powers should be present at the hearing of the appeal, and that this was one of the reasons for their concurring in the application.
As to the proceedings in the Full Court, beyond informing the Court that I appeared for the Crown, I did not intervene in the’ matter until after Mr. Justice Barton had made the statement that he understood that I had stated that the Crown could not be ready by 29th July. I then explained that I was only appearing to consent’ to an application by the appellants for the fixing of the date at the end of August or the beginning of September. My recollection of what I stated to the Court is that I said that the Crown understood that the appellants could not bc ready before the date mentioned. I certainly did not state to the Court that the Crown could not be ready, and when something was said, not by me, but, I think, by one of the Justices, about Mr. Powers’ absence in England, I stated that before Mr. Powers left it had been understood that the appellants could not be ready until the date mentioned, and that he had gone away under that impression. I expressly stated to the Court that I refrained from asking for a postponement on that or any other ground. I merely concurred in the application by the appellants, and I repeated the statement that it would suit the convenience of the Crown if the date mentioned by the appellants could be adopted. I added that it was, of course, a matter for the convenience of the Court, and when the Chief Justice intimated that it would be inconvenient to the Court to adopt the later date I refrained from pressing the matter in any way whatever, and accepted his intimation as settling the question.
In regard to the statement that the Crown agreed to an adjournment of the case until next year, Mr. Bavin says -
It appears that it has been understood in some quarters that the Crown actually asked for or concurred in an application for an adjournment notwithstanding that this would have put the appeal over to next year. This, of course, is a complete misunderstanding of the position. As soon as it was intimated by the Chief Justice that to adopt the course suggested by the appellants would, in view of the arrangements of the Court, necessitate postponing the appeal until next year, neither party pressed the application any further, but took that as settling the matter finally. The whole question before the Court was whether the appeal should be heard at the beginning of August or at the beginning of September ; and when the Court intimated that the former date was the only convenient date for them, and that they did not regard the reasons mentioned by the appellants as sufficiently strong to justify them in adopting the later date, the matter was at an end.
I put .it to the House whether that is. not in a most complete and detailed way a crushing answer to statements which have been made The Crown did not instruct counsel to ask for an adjournment for a considerable time. The Crown has been guilty of no act which is curious from the legal stand-point or from the political stand-point, or from the stand-point of honorable men. On the other hand, the Crown has pushed on this prosecution with vigour and despatch, and it has secured a judgment against the Combine after a lengthened hearing. It is in the satisfactory position of being able to say that it has burst up the biggest trust in Australia, so far as the Anti-trust Act can burst it up. The Trust to-day is crushed under the full weight of the Anti-trust Act - and I never saw a trust look healthier in my life ! One word more : Mr. Powers went to England upon business of the Crown.
– He left on the 26th of March, and went via Perth, where he stayed some days to do some business for the Crown.
– Did he go to ‘London ?
– He went to London on public business.
– How could the honorable gentleman expect to have him back in time when he left for London in March ?
– It was so expressly arranged. He was authorized to go to London on public business by me. As the matters upon which he went are. still pending, and the interests of the Crown are involved, I shall not state publicly what those matters are. But I shall be very glad, if the honorable and learned1 member for Ballarat pleases, to tell him. privately what they are.
– I am quite satisfied.
- Mr. Powers went to London on public business, after it had been made distinctly clear that the Vend appeal case could not come on before the 29th July, and, in all probability, would not come on until some time in August. The business of the Crown, and the interests of the people, did not, and do> not, suffer from Mr. Powers’ absence in these circumstances. So much for my honorable friend’s charges, and the chargesof those that follow him, as to there having; been a curious delay in this case, and the interests of the people suffering. I have shown there is not one word of truth in it. I come now to another really curious phase of this matter. In his platform, which we shall deal with later, my . honorable friend says that the weaponof the party opposite in dealing with the trusts is the Anti-trust Act. To that they pinned their faith. Upon that they stand. If the Anti-trust Act is no good they have absolutely no weapon to meet the most notorious and dangerous feature of modern civilized life. Let us see how it acts. The judgment in the case to which I have referred was unreservedly in favour of the Crown. Every defendant was fined. The Trust was dissolved. All was over with the poor old Trust. I have knowledge of the shipping industry by virtue of my industrial connexion. There are others here who have knowledge of the coal industry. I ask any man, whether he be a merchant, a shipper, or citizen, or a passenger, or anything else, whether he deals in coal or ships it, to say frankly whether he has noticed any indications that the Trust or Combine has weakened. Have they lowered their rates to the public ? Not by a fraction. We know that the appetites of the trusts are tremendous. They satisfy them in the best way they can. I do not blame them for it, but it is notorious that they have raised their rates several times since this action was entered upon. The Vend and the Combine have been dissolved in the same way. The Standard Oil Trust of America has been dissolved, and its shares to-day are higher than ever they were before. Mr. Justice Isaacs dissolved the Trust on 20th December, and Huddart Parker floated their company in the new year or about that time, and these shares were sold at a premium of 4s. before they got on to the market. This is the remedy these gentlemen opposite have for dealing with trusts. This is the remedy which, after existing as a barren fig tree for four years, has at length produced its Dead Sea fruit, which has left the companies no worse off than they were before, and benefited the public not at all. I am not in favour of treating trusts in this fashion. It harasses them without benefiting the public. It has not done one human being in this country the fractional part of a penny’s good. Ithas harassed the shipping companies unnecessarily, and has not done anybody any good. It is rotten from whatever side it is looked at. From the employers’ side if is no good and from the workers’ side it is no good.
– It is good for the lawyers.
– There is nothing curious about that. That may be said of all legislation coming from the other side. Now I come to another statement. The honorable member for Ballarat, in reply to an interjection by the honorable member for Gwydir, said that a certain statement had i been madeover and over again, and that I had never contradicted it. It was that I disowned any responsibility for the antitrust action, and said it was not mine at all, but the honorable gentleman’s. It has been stated that I said so in November in Sydney. That is absolutely without foundation. On page 122 of Hansard for 6th September, 1911, the honorable member for Ballarat said -
I shall not allude in detail to the Coal Vend and Steam-ship case in New South Wales, because, although the hearing has been closed, the Judge has not yet delivered his judgment. But it will be remembered that it was the Attorney-General himself who, at the very outset of the case, pathetically reminded his State colleague, Mr. Edden, who had attacked him for interfering with so beneficent an institution as the Coal Vend, which is understood to have been extremely useful to the miners of New castle -
It has been most useful, there is no doubt at all about that - that he Mr. Hughes, was not to blame - that it was not his action which was then being proceeded with. The honorable gentleman reminded Mr. Edden, through the press, that the late Government instituted the prosecutions, and prepared the whole of the materials.
Because I did not contradict what he said then, the honorable gentleman says that it must be true. I want to say here that I never have troubled about contradicting anything that appears in the press, unless it affects my character as a man. One cannot deal with everything that appears in the press. Honorable members opposite are not so situated, because the statements made in the press about them are statements which ought to be contradicted, but not by them. Now, this is what I did say - and I said it in the Daily Telegraph of 1st March, 1911. It is headed “ Will the Vend End?” “Mr. Edden Alarmed.”
Referring yesterday to Mr. Edden’s championship of the coal vend, Mr. Hughes, the Federal Attorney-General, said the prosecution of the vend was not as Mr. Edden seemed to think, for the purpose of smashing it, but , to enforce the law against persons who were thought by the Government to have broken the law. “ If,” said Mr. ‘Hughes, “ a man who has broken the law is put in gaol, and his wife and children starve in consequence, you surely could not say that the object of the prosecution of the man was to secure the starvation of his family.” He added that the case was sub judice, and he would not, therefore, discuss it further than to say that the law, which was not made by the present Government, but by Mr. Deakin, was there, and was for the purpose of preventing the people from being exploited. “ There’s the law,” he said, “ and we are going to enforce it.”
I wish to draw attention to the fundamental distinction which exists between what did occur and what my honorable friend said occurred. He said that I . had disowned the action.
– The Act.
– He said the “action.” I never did. I did not agree with the Act, but I did initiate the action, and I did carry to a successful termination the solitary successful prosecution under the Act. I took the law as I found it.. I said, “It is not my law.” I said then, as I say now, that our anti-. trust legislation is like an attempt on the part of boarding-school girls to take a modern fort. It is futile. My honorable friend said that I stated that I disowned the action. I never did. I never said anything in the remotest degree resembling such a statement. He said that because I had not contradicted it, he accepted the statement as a fact. When the honorable member for Gwydir interjected he silenced him in that way. I now make this statement of fact, and I say, “ Here is the newspaper cutting in support of it.” Then the honorable member declared his belief in the Anti-Trust Act, and affirmed that the only good which was ever achieved under it was achieved by his Government. In short, he stated that they were morally responsible for the successful prosecution of the Vend - a statement which I regard - in view of the biographical record which I have just given of their failure to take proceedings - as most comic.
I want to say, further, that the AttorneyGeneral of the late Deakin Government has expressed his opinion of the Australian Industries Preservation Act and of the powers we enjoy under the Constitution in respect of industrial matters most effectively. In his memorandum upon the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill he stated that it was necessary to amend the Constitution in order to give us power over trusts and combines whether they are situated in one State or in more than one. The honorable member for Angas has declared, in the most public and explicit way possible, his belief in the utter futility of our constitutional powers as they now exist to deal with trusts and combines.
I come now to one other point : Last night, the honorable member for Parramatta, in carrying a little further the statement of the honorable member for Wentworth, inquired, “Why do not the Government attack all these trusts? “ He said, in effect, “ You have dealt with one only, notwithstanding that you have been in office for more than two years.” If we have dealt with one only, that is a great deal more than the Government of which the honorable member wasa Minister dealt with. But I would point out that, according to the memorandum of the honorable member for Angas, there are thirty-three trusts in existence in the Commonwealth, and, of these, we have power to deal only with three. Will the honorable member take notice of that? That is the only reason why we have not dealt with thirty of them. We have not power to deal with more than three. Those three are the Coal Combine - we have dealt with that; we have secured a conviction against it, and it no longer exists. The next is the Confectionery Combine, and the third is the Mildura Dried Fruit Combine - a little toddling thing which goes about picking up worms - glad of an opportunity to secure the crumbs which fall from the rich man’s table. As for the Confectionery Combine well, we can prosecute that if theappeal fails. But the Sugar Combine, which is at the back of the lot of them, we cannot touch. No doubt, it is very funny, and the honorable member for Wentworth is quite right to laugh. A man in his position can afford to laugh. The Government are confronted with a great monopoly, and cannot touch it. If I were in that monopoly I should laugh too. But. although I regard our present anti-trust legislation as futile, I do not say for one moment that legislation of that character cannot be made most effective if the Commonwealth possessed the necessary powers.
I have now dealt with the charges that there was a curious delay in the prosecution of the Coal Vend ; that the Crown was a concurring party to a postponement of proceedings for a long time ; that the people were being fleeced for another year; that we ought to have prosecuted all combines that the Australian Industries Preservation. Act is sufficient to enable us to deal with all combines. I have dealt with these points, and I will say no more upon them. But there is one matter relating to the Tobacco Trust upon which I desire to touch.. The honorable member for Wentworth has. asked why we did not proceed with the prosecution of it. I have already given an answer to that question. We cannot proceed under the Australian Industries Preservation Act. If the honorable member desires a decision upon that point, the honorable member for Angas has supplied it for him by citing thecase of Knight v. The United States Government, in which the law is most clearly laid down. There is no ambiguity about. that decision. We cannot deal with manu- facture under our trade and commerce power, limited or unlimited.
I come now to another matter. The Leader of the Opposition expressed astonishment on looking through the Governor-General’s Speech that it contained no mention of the great question of industrial unrest. I do not know why he should be affected in that way. Does his record entitle him to be affected in this almost hysterical manner at the non-mention of industrial unrest? I have noticed in him symptoms of unrest, of course, but I thought them symptoms of political unrest. What is this belated anxiety on his part about industrial unrest? Is another election coming on and finding him again unready with anything save words ? He has been reading about industrial unrest during the recess ; but I venture to say that my honorable friend knows nothing more than the terms themselves. He says there is no mention of industrial unrest in the Governor-General’s Speech. The honorable member looked at the Governor-General’s Speech before, in order to find material for attack ; if he will now look at the Speech in order to see what is really in it, and what it means, he will see that there is a reference to industrial unrest of the most grave and important character. For his benefit, so that he may not waste his time in looking for matter which he does not understand, I may tell him that it is proposed by the. Government to ask the people of the country to give this Parliament power, by an amendment* of the Constitution, to deal with the causes of industrial unrest.
– I dealt with that.
– It is that very point on which we stand.
– A very fine point, too !
– As the honorable member for Wentworth has said, we are face to face with the question why we have not dealt with the Tobacco Trust. I am sorry to say that we cannot deal with the Tobacco Trust. We are asked why we do not deal with this, and do the other, and the answer is that our powers are so circumscribed that we can do nothing useful in those directions. The honorable member for Ballarat speaks about industrial unrest. The causes of industrial unrest are world wide. In every civilized country we see outbreaks, some of the most furious, and many of the most determined and widespread character, all arising from industrial unrest. The world is in a state of flux ; there are great changes, pregnant with meaning, and possibly with disaster, to civilization. Unless we can find some way of dealing with the facts, civilization, and all our attempts at orderly government, must disappear.
– Not so bad as that, surely !
– The honorable member for Ballarat spoke about industrial unrest, but he puts forward no remedy. As I said last night - it will bear repetition - honorable members opposite are each having; a night, and I think that last night was. that of the honorable member for Fawkner..
– At any rate, I made one convert in the person of the Minister of Home Affairs !
– And a most interesting night the honorable member must have had. Honorable members opposite go around talking about their remedies for the industrial unrest j but the honorable member for Fawkner and the honorable member for Ballarat cannot possibly understand the causes of industrial unrest. In the very nature of things they do not, and cannot, know what industrial unrest is. Industrial unrest is a condition innate in the present position of affairs; and it will not cease until present conditions are completely changed. We are moving along on lines to change them fundamentally. “We do not believe in profit-sharing. I do not believe in profit-sharing. Profit-sharing is good for those who share the profits, but it does not benefit mankind at large. Where there was one person taking the profit, profit-sharing sets up fifty, one hundred, or one thousand persons, and if it is to the interest of that hundred or that thousand to oppress the multitude, they will do so if they have the means. Profit-sharing, in the very nature of things, must be partial in its effects. Viewed from one side, it means a trust or combine. What is a trust or combine but profit-sharing? All the employers in an industry get together, and they pool and share the profit. What is syndicalism ? It is the working man’s idea of profitsharing. He says, “ We will take an industry, work it, and share the profits, eliminating the capitalists.” The honorable member for Ballarat does not say to what extent he proposes to share profits - whether it shall be t. per cent, 2 per cent., share and share alike, or what, though I do not think it can be share and share alike. I have no doubt that when the honorable member comes to details his scheme will prove most interesting, but at present he is in a position to say to the capitalist, “ Share your profits, pleasing yourselves, of course, what share you get “ ; while to the working man he says, “ Why remain a wage slave all your life - why not be a participator in the glorious harvest that civilization has yielded ?” Of course, the capitalist and the working man both say that this sounds “all light.” The proposed remedy is very illusive, but it has its fascinating side. I denounce profit - sharing because it is partial ; it cannot apply to all sections of producers; it fails altogether to protect the community, and it is the community that is the unit in civilized life. Production is not for the group or the individual, but for the community. Railways, tramways, gas, and electric lighting, who is to own them? The group of people who work them or the community? The community. Who is to settle the rate of wages in the various industries when groups or individuals carry on those industries? The community - clearly the community always. The community must be representative of the whole of the public. Besides, how is this profit-sharing scheme to be applied, and by whom? This Parliament has not power to apply it; we are destitute of the slightest vestige of any power to enforce profit-sharing. The honorable member for Ballarat puts forward a scheme to befool people who do not understand industrial unrest, for the simple reason that they have never felt it. There are men on this side of the House - and I am one of them - who have bottomed the abyss of’ industrial unrest. .1 have starved in the great cities of this country. I have known for years what it was never to have enough to see me beyond the week in which I was living. I know what industrial unrest is, and how the workmen under industrial unrest feel, and dozens of men on this side can say the same. What is “ industrial unrest “ to men who live sheltered lives in great houses, who have never had to suffer or be exposed to the vicissitudes of fortune that befall the average citizen? What do they know of industrial unrest, with all their babble about profit sharing? We come forward with a scheme or plan of no cut-and-dried character. There is no such plan. We say that by the process of evolution the people must come to their own. There will be no violent over-turning, no rude dispossession ; there will be no dishonest act of any sort or kind.
– Claude Duval !
– A shameful interjection !
– The welfare of the community must always be superior to that of the individual.
The honorable member for Ballarat made no reference to our proposed amendment of the Constitution. His attitude on that question is one of silence. The honorable member made no reference to that most prominent of all paragraphs in the Governor- General’s Speech, that we propose to ask the people and Parliament to give us extended constitutional powers.
– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon.
– There is nothing but the most cursory reference in his speech relating to that most important of all questions with which the people of this country will be faced and with which they are faced to-day - namely, the want of power of this Parliament to deal with trusts, combines, and industrial matters ; and there is not the slightest indication that he recognised that this question goes to the root of the causes of industrial unrest. Our helpless position has been denounced over and over again by the Judge of the Arbitration Court. The great strike at Brisbane would have been averted, I believe, had there been power for the men to go before the Arbitration Court and have their grievances settled. Even to-day there is an appeal against the decision of the Judge with reference to the right to .wear a badge, and the High Court will very likely decide that the Judge had no power to make such an order. This is a monstrous condition of things. When twenty thousand men, whether their cause be good, bad, or indifferent, thought it good enough to lay down their tools, the question at issue was at least one which some Judge in this country ought to have power to settle. The honorable member for Ballarat spoke of industrial unrest, but he never said a word about the causes of industrial unrest. Until there can be a competent tribunal in this country to deal with those causes, the people have every right to regard my honorable friend’s meanderings in the fairy fields of economics, as he knows them, with amused contempt.
My honorable friend said something about the Inter-State Commission, and he was very much affected by the Prime Minister’s brief reference to it. It was the only thing that seemed to please him. He was delighted to think that the Inter- State Commission was coming, but he had gloomy forebodings as to who were to be put upon it. All I can say is that I do not share them.
– The honorable gentleman will find that I did deal with the question of the amendment of the Constitution. Another misstatement !
– I turn now to my honorable friend’s platform. I will not read all of it, yet it is worth reading. My range of reading is of the widest description. I read all sorts of things, and the more humorous they are the better I like them-. I never turn a thing down because some other fellow does not like it. I look at it up and down. I try to see the humour in it, and if it has any I enjoy it. I think that to any one who has the faintest germ of humour in his carcass this platform and the honorable member’s comments upon it in the light of subsequent criticisms makes one of the most humorous documents ever produced. I will deal first with his platform.
– It is the League’s platform.
– Apparently I did the honorable member a grievous wrong. I withdraw what I said. It is “ The League’s platform.”
– The Women’s League ?
– No, “The League”! What I am going to quote is the honorable member’s opinion upon it, and if he is not going to adopt it, it was a shameful thing for him to say what he did about it. This is what the honorable member said -
In that platform they would find that Australia was proud of her place as one of the greatest dominions of the British Empire.
So far, Mr. Speaker, we are treading on very safe ground.
They would find in that platform a recognition of their undischarged debt to the Mother Country, and to that great Navy which enabled them to live at peace.
We seem to hear the beating of the drum and loud singing by glad choirs of “ See’ the Conquering Hero Comes “ ! Reading the honorable member’s speech, any man with the imagination of a glowworm feels himself thrill with patriotic and Imperial fervour. He can see passing before him in pageant the whole British Empire - the army, the navy, the monarch, with flags and banners waving triumphantly, and all the great crowds of wildly enthusiastic citizens frantically shouting hurrah ! He goes on -
They would find recognition of ties which bound and which ought to bind them to their fellow Dominions under the flag.
More processions ! More drums ! More armies ! More flags ! More hurrahs ! The Dominions now go by !
They would find a friendly hand extended to the State Governments.
Now, Mr. Speaker, the Empire has gone by, and we have come back to theCommonwealth. We are back in this our own dear land, and delighted to find that the honorable member is prepared to hold out the hand offellowship to the State Governments -
They would find that not only was the dignity of the Commonwealth asserted, but its high relations were laid such stress upon that no one could fail to understand that they at heart realized how much they owed to those relations.
This reads a trifle ambiguously. There seem to be too many “ relations “ in it, but one thing is certain. I am perfectly certain that no sentiment in it will offend anybody. It is the sort of thing that one might read over the open grave of one’s dearest friend. The honorable member goes on -
He would turn their minds back upon the antiLiberal programme -
This word “ Anti-Liberal “ he has himself coined. It is one of those baffling flights of imagination - one of those excursions into the higher empyrean - which endear him to us and make him stand out amongst his fellow members as being a man preeminently suited to frame programmes, and particularly to explain them. He goes on in a perfect rapture of ecstasy - in which all these things were omitted, and this omission left them without a basis in the world, and threw into still stronger relief the partisan and partial character of the proposals they had submitted.
Here we come in. What a frightful contrast ! With us there is no banner, no flag, no army, no navy, no glad hand of friendship. We simply go marching on, a gloomy, formidable band of men arrayed in sober garb, intent upon attending to our business. I have no complaint to make in this matter. I think that this description fits us well enough. We are men of business, and nothing more. We are a Government of men intent upon business. We have no time for show, or bands, or gasconade. As Henry V. said -
There’s not a piece of feather in our host.
Good argument, I hope, we will not fly !
He looked forward to the day when Australia would, first indirectly and then more directly, be associated in the solution at the heart of the Empire of Imperial questions, would be prepared to defend her own territory, and would claim the right to assist in maintaining the peace of the world.
To that I say that I also look forward to this glorious future. But we have not been content with merely looking forward to it. We have done something to bring it about. We have provided this country - and when I say “we “ have done it, I say so deliberately - with something more than the shadow of a Defence Force. W’e have not been content with a pious declaration of our intentions to defend our country, nor content with laying aside£250,000, which might some day be used for the purposes of defence. And we have placed a fleet on the water, and an army on the land, the like of which has not been seen in our time. The honorable member for Parramatta last night claimed for himself and the Government of which he was a member, credit for the present defence scheme. That Government passed an Act, but did not venture to put it into force. It was to take effect upon the issue of a proclamation, but the proclamation was not issued. It is ever so with these gentlemen. They bear every resemblance to live, active politicians, yet they are dead. The anatomist with his scalpel can detect no difference between a corpse and a live body, but there is a very important difference, and now that the people have found out that these gentlemen, in spite of the banging of drums, the waving of banners and the delivery of fine orations, are political corpses, they will not again elect them as representatives. Other planks in their policy, according to the honorable member for Ballarat, are -
To consolidate State debts.
To provide an adequate sinking fund in connexion with public loans.
The last is the proposal of a prodigal who seeks to excuse his prodigality by promising that, although he is borrowing a lot of money, he will make provision for paying some of it back. It is a poor substitute for our policy of not borrowing at all. We have not borrowed, and therefore need not
This was a great blank in the Anti-Liberal platform. While there were these blanks in that platform the Liberal programme was filled up with about a dozen important propositions having in view the future of this country. . . . Here was a bold policy from the Liberal party of bold contour, comprehensive, vital, and national in character. The Liberals were proud of it, and pledged to put it into force at the earliest opportunity.
This is the honorable member’s matured opinion of this platform which he said is the League’s and not his ! But there is no reference here to it not being the platform of the Liberals, to it not being a fighting platform, or to an intention to amend it. It was the fighting platform until something happened to it. Yet this is the manner in which the honorable member for Flinders, a member of the Liberal party, spoke of it at Aspendale -
This fighting programme appeared to have been arrived at by the simple process of elimination, by taking out of it anything that could offend the susceptibilities of any one. All the bones had been carefully removed, and nothing left but a kind of gelatinous compound, political food for infants and invalids, and warranted not to cause the slightest inconvenience to the weakest digestion !
In all my political career, I have never before heard such diverse descriptions of the same things. Nor a more scathing and contemptuous denunciation even by an opponent. Yet it is to this platform of policy that the electors are to be asked to pin their hopes. They are to regard it as their sheet anchor, their Eddystone, their Rock of Ages. The honorable member for Flinders, continuing his criticism of this “ bold national policy,” went on to say-“-
The appointment of a tariff board was suggested. That was all right. It was the main plank of his platform in 1906. But a party that had a policy ought to be able to indicate something in the nature of the constitution of that board and the general sailing directions.
He continued -
It was further resolved that the Liberal party should not oppose a judicial preference to unionists awarded by a Court.
No doubt he is in favour of that -
Provision for preference being awarded by the Court under certain conditions was included in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill introduced by a former Liberal Government under pressure of the Labour caucus. Was that any reason why Liberals should now be bound in the matter ?
There is nothing gelatinous about those statements. They are more than mere oratorical phrase; they are the plain declaration of the only member of the party who has the courage to say what he means. There are members of the Opposition who have brains, and there are others who have courage, but, apparently, only one has both the brain and the courage to detect and expose the spineless, gelatinous character of the so-called Liberal party’s platform. I ask the House to note carefully what he said -
There is no need why there should be any longer preference to unionists. Why should the Liberals be bound? The plank that some proposals for the amendment of the Constitution should be brought up at an early stage would excite a great dealof interest. The Liberal party had to have some definite policy in that matter; it ought to say it was against amendments in the Constitution, or else indicate the extent to which it was prepared to support amendments.
I say “ Hear, hear “ to that -
It was resolved that the federal character of the Constitution must be preserved with amendments when necessary. How clear. How definite ! The platform went on to say that there must be retained to the States those sources of taxation which it was never intended should be exploited by the Federation. That was a matter they all might assent to. The only nuestion was - What were these sources of taxation ? The next plank was the appointment of an Inter-State Commission. . . . There was a considerable amount of indefiniteness there. One might well ask what powers were to be vested in this Commission, because the constitution invested it with very narrow and limited powers. If it was intended that this Commission was to be an effective arbitrator in industrial troubles, then it must be provided with powers the Constitution did not now give it.
The speech of the honorable member for Flinders is a well of wisdom, in which nil may dip, and fill their buckets amply. We shall iook for the honorable gentleman’s support when certain legislation is before the House, and, later, when certain measures are before the country. The honorable member, a constitutional lawyer of eminence, has declared, as the honorable member for Angas has declared, though the latter does not go quite so far, that the Constitution must be amended if this Parliament is to deal with industrial matters, trusts, and combines. He says that the Constitution should be amended so that we may exercise the full trade and commerce power.
This speech by the honorable member for Flinders was a veritable bombshell and caused a very great deal of trouble among his party. They have been endeavouring to explain it away ever since. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said last* night that the honorable member was quite free to denounce the platform as he pleased, and still to remain in the Liberal party ; but those who have read the leading articles and letters from indignant citizens which have appeared in the big newspapers lately, will recognise that the way of the Liberal reformer is a hard one. No sooner had the honorable member for Flinders said what he thought of the Liberal platform, than hundreds of citizens were stirred to such a pitch of indignation as to demand that he should either postpone his inconvenient reforms or leave the party. But his criticism stuck fast, because it was obviously only too well based. The position was desperate. A meeting of the party was held, and the people were told that the platform which the honorable member had criticised was not their fighting platform. It was a mere draft of the planks of the platform, and was to be filled in byandby. The Leader of the Opposition had described it as a policy of “ bold contour, comprehensive, vital, and national in character”; but we are told now that they are going to dump it - to crucify it, to alter it, to do anything at all with it, provided that they can get rid of the accursed thing. Their position reminds me of the American politician who said, “ This is my programme, gentlemen, but if it does not suit you, it can be altered.” The honorable member for Flinders was besieged. The parliamentary party held a meeting on the 18th June, and at its conclusion, the Leader of the Opposition informed representatives of the press that -
Mr. W. H. Irvine had made a statement regarding the speech which he recently delivered at Aspendale. . . . Mr. Irvine described the circumstances under which the speech was made. Several members who also spoke expressed themselves as being gratified that Mr. Irvine had cleared the matter up, and pointed out that the speech was capable of several interpretations.
Where is the interpreter? This policy “ of bold contour, comprehensive, vital, and national in character “ was described by the honorable member for Flinders as a “gelatinous compound.” The honorable member said of it -
All the bones had been carefully removed, and nothing left but a kind of gelatinous compound, political food for infants and invalids, warranted not to cause the slightest inconvenience to the weakest digestion.
What interpretation could be placed upon those words other than that the platform was absolutely spineless and useless - that it was good for no one; said nothing, attempted nothing, pushed aside every great problem, and evaded the real issues. It may be that later on we shall have one of these interpretations from the honorable member for Flinders himself; and, until then, we must rest satisfied with our own interpretation, and that of every leading journal in Australia. Some of the newspapers have warmly taken up the case on behalf of the honorable member for Flinders, while others have attacked him with no less warmth. A leading article which appeared in the Argus of 4th inst. censured him pretty sharply for daring to tell the truth -
In his Aspendale speech he has done nothing more than create a blank without making a single helpful suggestion as to how it should be filled. If the Liberal programme be gelatine, then he attacks gelatine with putty ; and he condemns what he terms vague generalities in generalities which are still more nebulous. Being himself apparently without a policy, he condemns the party for having none. Let us take as a typical instance of his method his reference to the Arbitration Court. Mr. Irvine speaks of it as an industrial storm centre which has done more to embitteT than to harmonize relations between employers and employes, and he asks the Liberal party bluntly, “ Are you going to do away with it?” Now, that is a very startling suggestion to convey, even in the form of a question, and it is amazing that Mr. Irvine should raise the point unless he has already considered it and made up his mind. If he has done so, why does he not let the Liberal party and the people as a whole know the result of his cogitation, so that they may be informed and, perhaps, guided on so momentous a subject?
But the Age, on the other hand, supported his view. Dealing with the attitude of the Women’s National League, it said some rather severe things about the League. The House will remember that the League were not satisfied with the platform which the Leader of the Opposition had described as “a policy of bold contour, comprehensive, vital, and national in character.” They drafted one of their own, and this is what the Age of the 34th inst. said of them -
They don’t know where they arc, nor what they mean ; and it is not possible for anybody who has lost himself to feel quite comfortable. They tell us while asking for votes that they are “ not in any sense a political party.” Then, in the name of all that is honest, what are they ?
If they are not a political party, how comes it that they are banded together to defeat labour? Here are their own words : -
The Protectionist Voice.
The country hasdetermined that Protection shall be the fiscal law of Australia, and, that being so, the League accepts that policy, and is willing to give its help to make the policy complete on all round equitable and consistent lines.
The Free-Trade Voice.
That does not mean that it will support prohibition or outrageous duties which would only have the effect of increasing the already high cost of living, would lead to demands for yet higher wages, and would so increasethe cost of local manufactures as to break down Protection by its own weight.
We do not pillory these backward and forward fiscal voices with any desire to add to the chaotic condition of what passes for the league’s mind ; but for the purpose of suggesting to the husbands or brothers, or cousins, of these distraught ladies that it would be the part of kindness to lure them away anywhere out of the limelight in which they are making these exhibitions of political ineptitude.
And on 24th May, the Age wrote -
The Liberal-Conservative alliances which are just now trying to shape the coming campaign are at a critical part of their duties. The one great aim that dominates them all is to defeat Labour. . . . We have said that a reformed Tariff is a sine qua non, and that the reform must guarantee very much higher Tariff duties.
It went on to say -
Liberals were in this loose alliance with Labour, because the political programmes of the two parties were very largely on the same lines. The “ understanding “ was in every respect a proper one. It would have been still better bad the alliance been complete and the Government a composite one. . . . Now, the important deduction from this circumstance is that naturally Liberalism has more in common with Labour than it has with Conservatism.
There is much talk about Liberalism t What is Liberalism? What is its platform? Is it that “ gelatinous compound “ which the honorable member for Flinders has so contemptuously derided; or is it theplatform several planks of which he himself puts forward? If it is this latter, then the people of this country had better be careful, for I have never seen a more sinister sign of reaction and the worst kind of reaction.
Clearly no one knows where they are. The great “ Liberal “ party speaks with not one voice, but twenty. This is another voice. Writing on the Tariff, the Sydney Daily Telegraph says -
It is just as well that those Liberals who put Protection before Liberalism should understand that the Free Traders, irrespective of anything the Conference may be induced to promise, will not consent to take the place of their political bond slaves in this coalitionor any other coalition.
A hopeful prospect for the Protectionists of Victoria in the prospective Liberal
Government. Again, the Hobart Mercury writes -
For example, Mr. Deakin, as the authorized exponent of the party, said that it purposed to promote co-operation, profit-sharing, and even insurance against unemployment, all of which have, we suppose, advocates among all parties, even among the Labour party. But, what Mr. Deakin does not see, or, if he sees, takes care not to say, is, that all these things depend on the workers themselves, and can only be partially helped by legislation, no matter what may be the party in power. Co-operation has been tried for over a century now, and except for distribution purposes is a failure. This is especially the case in France, where it has been tried on a large scale, and in most favorable circumstances, as we have shown from the authentic records. Profit-sharing is_ here and there a success, but only under special circumstances.
Mr. Watt, Premier of Victoria, seems to have been supporting one view or another in this political Donnybrook fair. I am not quite clear which it is, nor is it material, for, beyond an assumption which is not borne out by the facts that, he was sent here by Providence to act as His locum tenens, and to generally supervise everything, including the running of this Parliament, I do not think that any particular notice need be paid to him. I think this is a mistake. We have been told that he has been urged to come into this Parliament, where there is an opening for him.* I do not know whether there is. That is, of course, a matter for the Opposition. If they think that he is the man to save them, well and good- Until then I do not- think that any further notice need be taken of him than to say that his remarks are a very weak and uncertain echo of what has already been said, and very much better said.
After the speech of the honorable member for Flinders, the Leader of the Opposition, who must have had quite a bad headache, said, “ That is not our fighting platform at all ; we have yet to draw that up.” Yet on the nth June he said at Ballarat-
Before the end of the week the Parliamentary party’s platform would be published. In the programme would be found summed up the views of the Liberal party representatives upon all the current questions of the hour.
Every question touched with, a light and graceful hand, no problem left unsolved; everything attempted, and nothing done -
He invited them to compare it with the programme of the anti-Liberal party.
The Age, unable to restrain itself at the stupendous folly of its followers, on the 5th June published this statement -
The programme as drawn up at the recent conference of Leagues was a tissue of vague generalities, without a shadow of definite meaning, simply because it may signify anything or nothing. Mr. John West, the Secretary of the Australian Liberal Union, excuses it on the ground that it was never intended to be a “lighting platform” at all. . . . Mr. West says that the “ fighting platform “ is to be formed at a later date by the Liberal Parliamentary “ party on the skeleton one of the Leagues, and he says it may be as full of fight as the Parliamentary party likes to make it.
The idea of the great Liberal party devising a platform full of .fight is, to those who know them, really £00 funny for anything. Speaking about thi j unkind criticism of the exercise of his right as a free man, the honorable member for Flinders said at Leongatha on the 5th Juno -
It was said that the platform fie criticised was not completely or officially published, but it had been published in the morning papers as- *’ The Liberal Programme “ and the “ Fighting Platform” of the Liberal party. Now we are told that it was not adopted at all, and that it is subject to modification and may be rewritten, but the delegates who adopted it are scattered. Are they to come together again,, and is it to be re-written?
The Parliamentary platform is not yet issued ; but on Friday Mr. Deakin said that the Leagues’ programme would be the basis on which it would be drawn up.
I think we may take it from what has been said that delegates from variousleagues met. I do not pretend to know them, but they have a number of leagues, who put in most of their time in denouncing each other. They met and drew up a platform. This platform was intended to be the platform upon which the great Liberal party was to stump the country, yet has not now one defender. No one has dared to defend it since it has been criticised. Before it was attacked everybody applauded- it.. The Leader of the Opposition,, a past master, in the art of eulogy,’ described it as of bold contour” comprehensive, vital and national in character. The Liberals were proudof it, and pledged to put it into force at the earliest opportunity.
Directly the honorable member for Flinders showed what it .was - a hollow sham, a spineless, gelatinous compound - they started to do - what? They said, “Do not shoot; we will come down.” They started to alter the platform, and they have been altering it ever since, but they have not yet come to anything definite, though we have had one or two definite pronouncements from the honorable member for Flinders, which I propose to put before the House and the country before I sit down. That is the policy of the honorable member for Flinders, and as he is a man of firm will and declared purpose, which cannot be said of many members on the other side, we may assume that what he says he will stand by, and that the others will not very materially differ from him.
What then is his platform? He is opposed to compulsory preference ; so is the platform. Clearly then upon this point there is agreement. What are they going to do in this matter ? I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition does he propose to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to that effect ? I put the question to the honorable member as from one unionist to another. I challenge the Opposition to make a public declaration of their policy in this respect. Compulsory preference has been placed on the platform by that party. They have been endeavouring to repudiate it, but they have never had the courage to repeal it, or even to formally disown it. I ask them now what they propose to do. Dare they go out and say, “ We will, if elected, repeal compulsory preference ito unionism “ ? They are silent. Are they ashamed of their platform or merely afraid of it?
The honorable member for Flinders went on to tell us of another plank in his platform. He said that there had been shameful and wasteful extravagance in the financial affairs of this country. He added that there had been wasteful extravagance in the Post Office. I shall leave the details of that expenditure to be dealt with by my colleague the PostmasterGeneral. But during the past year we have raised the salaries of the men in the Post Office by over ^120,000. The honorable member for Flinders says that there has been wasteful extravagance. Well what is he going to do about it? Is he going to cut down the salaries of the postal employes? If not, where does he propose to effect economy ? Is he going to increase the telephone, telegraph, and postal rates to the public ? There are only two ways in which economy can be effected. One is by reducing wages, and the other is by increasing the returns. I ask the honorable member what does he propose to do.
Now we come to a more important question still. He says in detail that the old-age pensions scheme has at- tained a monstrous growth in this country ; that it is. creating a body, so to speak, of spineless paupers, who want to lean against the State, and that, in the good old days, when he was Premier of Victoria, the old-age pensions system was carried out for one-half of what it costs today. Yes, it was, and with that half there went the bitter tears and wailings of thousands of the poor unfortunate old and suffering in this country. Does he propose to go back to those bitter and sad days? There are 100,000 people in this country, the aged and afflicted, resting securely under ihe sheltering wing of this most beneficent legislation. Lees he propose to repeal that legislation, and take away from them their last poor shelter?
– All silent.
– Yes. they are all silent. They have not the courage to say what this one man has said, and they have not the courage to denounce him. They sit there silent both when he speaks, ami when I denounce him. What the honorable member said is perfectly true. Their policyis a spineless and gelatinous one. They are not capable of evolving any other kind. They themselves are spineless and gelatinous.
What is .the matter with the partyopposite? I shall tell honorable members. The party was born wrong. Ithas been wrong from its birth. It has. within it men, and good men, from each side, but they have been brought together for an evil and sordid purpose, and there is nothing in common between, them except a desire to hound us out. The press of this country has admitted it, and members of the party themselves both by their words and actions have admitted it. They stand condemned. They speak with two, aye, with ten voices. The honorable member for Ballarat says this, and the honorable member for Flinders: says the opposite. One says they have ai bold policy, and lauds it with extravagant eulogy, and the other spits upon it, and despises it. The party opposite was hatched’ by a conspiracy to down the Labour party, and the members of the party have goneabout since that day with this millstone around their necks like a curse ever since. The party is doomed to destruction, nothingcan save it. It does not matter what we , may do; it will damn itself. Why, sir. it. cannot even select candidates !
I will not detain the House at much greater length. I am satisfied to have dealt with these charges and to have refuted them ; some of them fully, and others as fully as time would permit. I have shown that it is not true that we have neglected or ignored our constitutional obligations. It is not true that under the Constitution this Government ought to have sent troops to Brisbane and did not do so. I have shown that the requirements of the Constitution were not fulfilled by the Premier of Queensland, and that, consequently, if the Prime Minister had sent the troops, he would have been guilty of a constitutional outrage, quite apart from the merits of the case, because he had no business, unless there had been a proclamation by the Queensland Governor, to send troops at all. Further, I have shown that the law, as laid down in the cases that govern this matter, shows that the troops ought never to have been sent, even had a proclamation issued, to deal with a mere police matter. We have been censured for not sending troops to Brisbane. We say in reply that we ought not to have sent them in any case, even if a proclamation had issued, and a proclamation did not issue. The Liberal party say by their vote of censure that they should have been sent. I ask the honorable member for Parramatta : Does he think the troops ought to have been sent ? I ask any honorable member on the other side : Is he game, by his vote, to say that troops ought to have been sent to Brisbane ?
– -Net one of them.
– No, by voice, gesture, or murmur, they dare not say it. They sit there spitted upon this skewer, and dare not say that they are in favour of the sending of troops to incite a civil population to riot and bloodshed. They dare not say it but they dare the coward’s part and shelter behind this contemptible motion of censure affirming that we have neglected our constitutional obligations. Let them accept their obligations as members of this Parliament, and dare to say what they think. It is long since the honorable member for Parramatta was in a strike, but he was in one once. What is more, he saw a piece of artillery loaded and levelled at the Lithgow mine. Has he forgotten that day? Is he in favour of invoking the military? If you had asked him then, he would have said, “No!” What does he say now? Yet no man who votes for this motion of censure shall escape the consequences of it, so far as what it involves is concerned. I put the matter to honorable members opposite quite plainly. If they do not mean what I have stated, let them amend their motion of censure by taking that clause out of it, or let them take this clear warning of the obligation and responsibility which will rest upon them, for they cannot disown it, nor the consequences of their vote.
With regard to partisan appointments, I need say nothing more than this : I take the appointments of Mr. Miller, Governor of the Commonwealth Bank ; Mr. McKay, Land Tax Commissioner; Professor Gilruth, Administrator of the Northern Territory; Mr. Bevan, Judge of the Northern Territory; Mr. Ryland, Land Commissioner of the Northern Territory; Mr. Jensen, Geologist; Mr. Campbell, Imperial Trade Commissioner; and Mr. Clarke, and can it be said by any fair-minded man that the Labour party have been guilty of partisanship in these appointments - that they have given the best plums in their dish to Labour men? Let us look back to the record of the Liberal party. Did they ever give one solitary appointment to a Labour man ? Take the appointments of Mr. Miller, at £4,000 a year, Mr. McKay, at £1,200 a year, and Professor Gilruth, at£1,700 a year. These are the highest-paid positions, and have been given to men who do not hold our political opinions. There never was such an abandonment of opportunity on the other side. And yet with their record, honorable members opposite have the impertinence and effrontery to charge us with partisanship.
They speak about extravagance - have they proved it? They do not attempt to prove it. The honorable member for Flinders has made statements in reference to the Post Office, and to old-age pensions. What does he propose to do about it? Does he propose to reduce Post Office expenditure, and how? Is he going to cut wages down or starve the Post Office Department? Which is he going to do? We want to know. If he cannot or will not tell us, his utterancemust be characterized, as he characterized that of the honorable member for Ballarat, as babble and a gelatinous compound only fit for weaklings and infants.
What does he propose to do in regard to old-age pensions? To cut them down? Either that or his loud denunciation of our extravagance is but idle talk. Do honorable - members opposite desire to cut down the defence vote? Let them dare say so. Last night the honorable member for Parramatta declared that our land tax policy had been a failure. He affirmed that it had not had the effect of throwing open for settlement all the available land, that it had not done anything worth speaking of - in fact, that it had failed. Well, what is he going to do in regard to it? If he wants land settlement, what is he going to do? Will he propose a repeal of the land tax? Let him say so. If it has failed, it has failed only for one reason. But, as a matter of fact, it has not failed. Of any taxation ever introduced into the Commonwealth, or any other ‘Parliament, it has been the most signally successful. It has been singularly successful from a triple aspect. It has been revenueproducing, it has encouraged immigration, settled people on the land, and it has enabled us to put into operation an effective defence scheme. Our system of defence to-day rests upon that very base. Without the land tax we could not defray the cost of our defence unless we resorted to borrowing, and the Labour party are not prepared to countenance that. But if the land tax had failed, it would have failed only because it was not sufficiently high. Does the honorable member for Parramatta suggest that the exemption should be eliminated? For a few moments I looked at the Sphinx on one occasion, and I got just as much information from that as I do from gazing at the honorable member. The truth is that honorable members opposite dare not say they will repeal the land tax. They denounce it, but impartial critics laud it as one of the best pieces of legislation ever passed. The London Law Times, in discussing the Osborne appeal against the decision which sought to upset the validity of the land tax - I like to quote from . a law journal, because it is, to some extent, a badge of respectability - says -
But to the very large class of those whose means have shut them out from obtaining land, this decision opens the vista of acres of fruitful land available to the small settler, and it announces that increase of population in Australia so much desired. Osborne v. The Commonwealth should be a finger beckoning the intending emigrant to turn to Australia as his future home.
I say that that is an eloquent tribute to our policy; and amply corroborates the statement which I made last evening, that we “have done more for immigration during the period we have been in office than was accomplished by all the years of oratory and memoranda on the part of previous Administrations.
I come again to the Coal Vend case. We have seen that every one of the honorable member’s charges in reference to that have utterly broken down. Substantially not one solitary statement made by any honorable member opposite is in accordance with fact. It ‘is not true that I disowned the case. It is not true that the Crown was responsible for any considerable delay. It is not true that we left the Vend to fleece the public for another year. It is not true that we in any way neglected either our opportunities or our duties in regard to this matter. On the contrary, it has been shown that, within six days of my advent to office, active steps vere taken in this connexion - steps which have been continued to this very day. As a result, we have secured a judgment - the most effective which the law permits. The Vend has been heavily fined and dissolved, and whichever way the appeal may go is immaterial so far as the people are concerned, because the Vend is carrying on operations at the old stand - under a different name if you like - in exactly the same way as it did before.
– Why did you waste all this money, then?
– We have not wasted any money. The other fellows have had to pay the -.costs. So far, the only persons who have wasted any money are the Combine and the Vend. They have had to pay the fine as well as our costs. But I say again that the Australian industries Preservation Act is not even fair to the Trusts. Tt irritates them without benefiting the public. It has not done anybody any good. Yet it is the sheet-anchor of the Opposition.
Honorable members opposite comprise a party which is without a platform and without a common purpose beyond that of displacing the Labour party from office. That is a position which I would emphatically impress upon the electors of Australia - it is an admission of a most sinister kind. The only policy which they have of a definite character is one put forward by the honorable member for Flinders, which proposes to repeal preference to unionists, cuts at the root of that social legislation under which 100,000 of our fellow-creatures are to-day assured of some degree of comfort in their old age, and in their sufferings, and threatens the Post Office employes, whose salaries we have lately raised, with reduction. They are now asking for increased salaries, and their request is met by the honorable member for Flinders with a statement which, if it means anything, means that their present salaries must be cut down, or, what is worse for the public, the Post Office must be starved. The Opposition have clone what they could to discredit the party to which I belong. They have not stood upon trifles. They are now seeking the suffrages of the people upon a platform which is the laughing-stock of the continent, a platform that has been denounced, discredited, and disowned. They are a party which, by its genesis and record, invites disaster; which stands condemned* and which has already been visited with the heaviest censure that has ever been visited upon a Government by any people. They stand with not one solitary principle to bind them together, _ and they are not only hopelessly divided, but hopelessly inept.
Take their attitude on the fiscal question for an example. The honorable member for Ballarat, the Leader of the Protectionist party in this country, has nothing better to suggest in the way of fiscal reform than that the Tariff should be remitted to an InterState Commission which is not yet bom, whose powers, when born, are narrow and uncertain. I commend that to the Protectionists of Australia, and particularly to the Protectionists of Victoria. The only remedy, the only hope, put forward by their champion on the Liberal side is that the Tariff shall be submitted to an InterState Commission. To what depths has the Protectionist party in this State descended ! The Opposition stand condemned as having made charges they have failed to substantiate. We, on our part, shall carry on the work we have begun, relying on our record to prove our worth. In due time, we shall go before the electors of the Commonwealth, with the assuranee that the people, who are keen critics, able to separate the wheat from the chaff, will again return us to office.
– I must start by congratulating the AttorneyGeneral on his complete recovery of health. We may be satisfied, after listening to him, that he has made the best of the Government case - the best that is in him. I take it that, if the public of Australia are able in reality to separate the wheat from the chaff, they will find that there is mighty little wheat in all this pretended array of facts, and much chaff to bluff the electors into the belief that the Government have nothing to hide.
We have heard the Attorney-General this afternoon in many phases. He started on the defensive. I ask any Labour supporter - and particularly the honorable member for Gwydir, whom I should like to see remain in the Chamber - whether the AttorneyGeneral was half as happy when he was trying to explain away the Government’s action in regard to the trusts, as he was afterwards when trying to attack the Opposition for various things which they had, in his imagination, done, and for other things, equally in his imagination, they were likely to attempt. I direct the attention of the Attorney-General to the fact that he has not even attempted to answer the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition and myself with regard to the attempted postponement of the appeal against the Coal Vend decision. When the Attorney-General was asked a question in the House the other day on this matter, he tried to excuse, himself on these grounds-
I shall content myself by saying now that the instruction given to the counsel for the Crown by me and to Mr. Powers, before his leaving this State, was that under no circumstances was any proceeding to be delayed, or he to be absent from this country upon the first occasion on which the case could come on.
Further, he said- . . counsel for the Crown had no instructions at all to do anything other than what . I have said.
That is, he took no responsibility. What has this agile gentleman attempted to do to-day? He has called the counsel for the Crown as evidence in support of his statement that he did not attempt a postponement of the case ! We have, in reply, the statement of the Chief Justice of Australia and other Judges of the High Court. I have just been given a letter by the AttorneyGeneral, iri which he says -
I must go and get a cup of tea. I hope you will excuse my going out.
I read that because I desire the AttorneyGeneral to stay.
– You are a pig !
– The honorable member for Wentworth is playing it low down f
– Is it any lower than what was said to-day about the honorablemember for Wentworth having an interest in the sugar business?
– I must repeat to honorable members the request that they will not continue interjections.
– Are we not here endeavouring to arrive at the truth? Is the Attorney-General merely going through a harlequinade to disguise the facts, and then leaving the Chamber on other business ?
– The honorable member is only fit for a tap-room !
– I must ask the AttorneyGeneral to withdraw that statement.
– Yes, I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker, but the communication was private.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw the statement.
– The honorable member . has withdrawn it.
– I do not know what the communication was intended for ; I took it as an insult, simply handed across the floor to show contempt. It had nothing about “private.” on it, or anything else of the kind ; it is merely a statement that the Attorney-General might have interjected.
– It was only courteous on the part of the Attorney-General to tell the honorable member that he was going to leave the Chamber.
– Courteous ! 1 have received a lot of courtesy in connexion with these matters : and I shall deal with other statements of the Attorney-General before I sit down.
What did the statement of the counsel for the Government amount to? In the letter, Mr. Bavin said he had “consented” to an adjournment until the end of August or the beginning of September, and, further, that he had merely “ concurred “ in an adjournment. The Crown consented to an adjournment, and concurred in an adjournment; and the adjournment, had it been granted, would have meant that the appeal could not be heard this year, and would have been put off until afterthe referenda campaign. That is what we say, and what the Chief Justice said ; and that is what all the laborious speech of the AttorneyGeneral has failed to wipe away. We have what the Chief Justice of the High Court said in this connexion. At the outset, I shall read the report in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 17th May, this year -
An application was yesterday made to the High Court on behalf of the shipping companies interested to fix a date for the hearing of the appeal in the vend case. The parties represented by counsel were the shipping companies concerned, the Associated Northern Collieries, and others, and the Crown.
At the outset of the application the Chief Justice asked Mr. Wm. Ham, who appeared for the appellant shipping companies, if the application was to fix a date when the matter might come on andhave an opportunity of being concluded, or was it merely an application seeking to have the matter postponed.
– In fact, it is an application for a postponement.
The Chief Justice. - I may say I know something of the case. In order that it might be postponed, it has been set down early next sittings.
– The appellants find it almost impossible to be ready by that time. I may point out that the printing will not be done in time.
The Chief Justice intimated that when the matter was brought under his notice in Melbourne, he had advised the parties that if they really wanted to have the matter heard, it should be set down early in the list for the next sittings. It had been accordingly set down, and there was only a short case before it. That would give the Court weeks to dispose of it. If it were not dealt with then, there would be very little chance of it being finished during the year.
Mr. Ham explained that the desire was to fix a date which would allow the printing to be done.
The Chief Justice. - I must say that it is absurd to say that a period of six months is required for that purpose.
Mr. Justice Barton. An application was made to me, and I understood Mr. Bavin, who appears for the Crown, to say that the Crown could not be ready by 29th July.
The Chief Justice. - I think that the real reason for many of these applications which come before the Court is that somebody or other has found it inconvenient to deal with the matters earlier. The alternative is to take the case early next sittings or to have it stand over to the following sittings.
Mr.bavin (for the Crown) said that the appellants could not get the necessary printing done by the 29th July. He suggested that a date should be fixed late in August or earlv in September.
The Chief Justice. - That would shut out the next Melbourne sittings.
Mr. Justice Barton. Also the Western Australian sittings.
The Chief Justice.- The appellants have still two clear months and two weeks, during which time enough printing could surely be done to cover all the cases heard in this Court for years. To say otherwise is to pay a very poor compliment to the printing resources of the Capital of New South Wales.
– If the matter is set down for 20th July an application might have to be made then for a postponement on the ground that the- necessary printing could not be completed within the time.
The Chief Justice. - The business of this Court cannot be interfered with because some particular claimant is too busy to attend to the matter he desires to bring before it, or because somebody else happens to be too tired to do his work in connexion with the case.
Is that the Federal Attorney - General ? - too tired to do his own work in connexion with the case? The report proceeds to quote the Chief Justice -
The Court will not tolerate delays for those reasons, which, my experience tells me, are often the real ones for many of these applications.
Mr. Bavin. Should it suit the convenience of the Court, the Crown is willing that the case should stand over until the end of August.
The Chief Justice.- That would be most inconvenient. The judgment was delivered last year, and it is nonsense to say that the printing could not be done between then and the end of next July. The case is set down as second in the list for next sittings, and, in the meantime, we will listen to no application to remove it from that position.
So that the Chief Justice and the Judges of the High Court of Australia have already answered this pretended explanation of the Attorney-General, made to this House this afternoon.
– He took care not to quote the Chief Justice.
– The honorable gentleman took very good care not to quote the Chief Justice ! Now what did we say on this matter? All that the Leader of the Opposition said, and all that I myself said, was that it was a very “ curious “thing that a Labour Administration should be putting off the hearing of these trust appeals. Is it not a curious thing? Is not every soul in this community now aware that it was curious ? The Attorney-General’s answer is to beat his breast, and say that he is not going to rest under any imputation upon his personal honour. Who has ever made any imputation upon his personal honour ? To remark that this is a “ curious “ thing cannot be interpreted as an attack upon the honorable gentleman’s personal honour, integrity, and reputation. The Attorney-General knows exactly in which direction he and his friends are most vulnerable ; but we have made no such charge. It is indeed a curious thing - I repeat the phrase - that the AttorneyGeneral of a Labour Administration should be putting off the hearing of this appeal against the Coal Vend decision ; and. I want some further explanation than a mere beating of the breast of the AttorneyGeneral, or a letter from the Government counsel in the case who the AttorneyGeneral tried to make us believe had acted without his authority. It is the Chief Justice of Australia who makes these statements, and they have been reported in the public press.
The public of Australia will want to know what is the explanation of this curious fact. In my own humble judgment the whole purpose of the AttorneyGeneral - because I refuse to accept his statement that counsel for the Crown acted against his authority - lies in the fact that he believesthat the Coal Vend decision will be upheld upon appeal. If it is upheld, it will be proved to all Australia that existing legislation is capable of bringing all trusts and combines within the Federal sphere. In my humble judgment, it is deliberately against the public interest to have this matter postponed until next year, in order that the Attorney-General and his colleagues may be able To make the sort of speeches that the honorable gentleman has made here this afternoon in support of their referenda proposals, and so hoodwink the Australian people into giving him and his friends greater powers to deal with the trusts, against which he now professes to be so excitedly interested.
The Attorney-General made some statements in the course of his speech with reference to remarks made by myself at Goulburn, New South Wales, as to the general attitude of this Government towards the trusts. I only wish the honorable gentleman had done me the justice to read to the House the remarks which I actually made at Goulburn. As he appeared only too anxious to escape grappling too closely with this problem, I propose to read, with the permission of the House, exactly what I did say. My remarks were reported in the Daily Telegrafh, Sydney, on 27th May. I said -
Senator Pearce, at Cootamundra, talked about the sugar inquiry. He howled against that octopus, the sugar company, but did not even whisper against the tobacco trust. The time was when the Labour party hunted tobacco from end to end of the Commonwealth. Now they could never find a man in the Labour party to open his mouth upon that sacred subject. Why was it that the Labour party, which used to claim that this monopoly should be nationalized, were now so strangely silent? Why was it possible to get no inquiry at all into the subject of tobacco ?
I proceeded upon those lines. My charge against the Labour Government was that whilst they would pack for referenda purposes an inquiry into one industry, for some reason or other they were not in a position to have an inquiry all round.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ packing “ the inquiry ?
– As I have made that statement, perhaps I had better prove it. Honorable members will recollect that I myself asked for an inquiry into the sugar industry in Australia. My own opinion is that if you had a straightout, honest inquiry you would find that the best way to keep alive the white sugar-growers in North Queensland, and to protect the other interests concerned with sugar, would be to take off the duty on sugar completely, and pay whatever bounty is necessary direct to the white grower in Queensland. I myself believe that the Sugar Refining Company is able to stand without a duty.
– Who receives the bounty now ?
– I do not desire to go into the whole subject at this stage. I merely wish to make my position plain. Sugar is of importance to the fruit industry, and is the raw material of jam making, and of other industries, and is largely consumed throughout the Commonwealth. My opinion has been all along that if you were to have a fair judicial ‘ inquiry into this sugar problem, you would find that the recommendation would be that we should take off the duty, and pay the bounty necessary to keep the industry alive direct to the grower of white sugar in Queensland and northern New South Wales. I asked for this fair and impartial inquiry, and I was promised it by the present Labour Administration. On the 21st September last, -the Minister of Trade and Customs said -
The Government have decided that the Sugar Commission shall be a non-political Commis-. sion. . . . We think that it is wise to appoint an outside body whose members may inquire into the conditions surrounding the sugar industry free from all political bias.
An absolutely unbiased, non-political inquiry was promised. But when the Commission was appointed, it was found that, with the exception of the Chairman, who has not recently been a politician, all its members were persons holding strong political views, and, all but one, Labour politicians. I believe that the purpose of these appointments is that the Commission may recommend that nothing can be done in connexion with the sugar industry until the referenda have been agreed to, and that thus a bogus public opinion may be created by a packed inquiry. In order that the position may be made abundantly clear, let me quote from a speech made by Mr. Hinchcliffe, one of the non-political, unbiased members of the Commission, a gentleman who is the business manager of the Brisbane Worker, and a Labour representative in the Queensland Parliament. Speaking in th”e Queensland Legislative Assembly, he said -
I certainly think that if it was for this reason alone it was a misfortune that the recent referenda proposals of the Commonwealth Government were not carried, as they would have enabled the Commonwealth Government to put an end to this huge monopoly which is coercing the small man and making the workers suffer as they have suffered.
– Was that speech made before Mr. Hinchcliffe was appointed to the Commission ?
– Yes. I am not entering upon a defence of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I do not know whether it is to blame or not. That does not concern the issue. The sugar industry is big enough, and the issue of sufficient public importance, to warrant the Government in keeping its promise to this Chamber. Had it done so, we should not have had a Commission appointed to declare that the passing of the referenda is necessary. We should have had an investigation which would have ascertained the facts, in the interest of the community.
What was the retort of the AttorneyGeneral to my statement that the inquiry was a packed one? I had been speaking at Goulburn on a Saturday, and at various places, 30 or 40 miles from the railway line, during the week, and he thought that I should not be able to reply before polling day to any statement that he might put into the Sydney press. Therefore, in a contribution to what, in his idle moments, he calls the capitalistic press, he made a statement headed “ Desperate Men,” to which all the publicity he for the moment desired was given. But I propose now to give it more publicity than he would wish for. The statement was as follows : -
The Werriwa election seems to be responsible for very extraordinary speeches. Some of them appear to indicate that the Liberal party is in a pretty desperate way. Certainly, their speeches are the speeches of desperate men. They stick at nothing. With the speeches in general I have nothing to do, but to Mr. Kelly, to whom apparently has been allotted the duty of “ going it blind,” I want to say just a word in reply to his remarks in connexion with the attitude of the Government towards the trusts. Accord- ing to his account the Commonwealth Government has unaccountably retreated from its’ position with regard to the Tobacco Trust; it is lukewarm in pushing the coal and shipping combine prosecution to its conclusion, and the only thing it seems to be earnest about is the Sugar Trust. Of his innuendo in connexion with the Tobacco Trust I shall say nothing more than that it is obviously inspired by two motives. One is to influence votes in the Werriwa election, and the other to create a volume of public sympathy for the poor Sugar Trust. Mr. Kelly’s trouble seems to be that we are prosecuting the Sugar Trust.
I was the first to ask for a public inquiry !
If we had prosecuted the Tobacco Trust and left the Sugar Trust alone, apparently Mr. Kelly would have been quite satisfied. And here I come to the answer to Mr. Kelly. I find that the estate of Mr. Kelly’s father, the late Mr. T. H. Kelly-
My father died over ten years ago - is largely interested in the Sugar Trust. As far as I have been able to make inquiry, he is not a shareholder in the Tobacco Trust, nor does it appear that he has any financial interest in the Coal or Shipping Combine. Therefore, boiled down, Mr: Kelly’s falsetto shriek at Werriwa amounts to an impotent attempt by n shareholder in the Sugar Trust to influence public opinion, and to enter into a case which is sui judice. I have no doubt the electors of Werriwa, bearing these facts well in mind, will be able to draw their own conclusions, and put Mr. Kelly and his remarks in their proper place.
My reply to that extraordinarily ingenious misstatement - I had to telegraph it from Goulburn - was as follows -
Mr. Hughes key hole tactics are more than met by the fact that I have advocated and pledged myself to a policy with regard to sugar which will prevent the Sugar Company participating in Government assistance to the sugar industry. My policy is to give the people cheap sugar by taking off the duty, and to keep alive the white sugar-grower by paying him direct by way of a bounty the amount necessary to maintain his industry. Mr. Hughes has acquired correct information from his friends in the Tobacco Trust that I am not a shareholder in that concern. Is he. and are his friends, especially, in the new shares issued lately? He is wrong when he says I am a shareholder in the Sugar Company. I do not own a single share in that company, and have only a life interest in my late father’s estate, of which less than one-tenth is comprised of shares in the Sugar Company and shipping and other companies. Years ago, after entering Federal politics, I asked the trustees to sell the estate’s interest in sugar, as I wanted to leave no loophole to the mud slinger. The trustees refused in the interests of the beneficiaries general])’. I have since again approached them in this matter, with the like result; but although I have been unable to make them do what I wanted, I am satisfied that the only mud that will stick will be to Mr. Hughes’ own hands, since the sugar policy I stand for is one that will cheapen sugar to the Australian people, and give not one penny piece to the Sugar Company. Let
Mr. Hughes explain if he can t. Why the Government broke its word to the House to appoint an unbiased, non-partisan, non-political inquiry into sugar? a. Why Mr. Webster ran away from his own motion for an inquiry into tobacco ?
– I shall answer that question.
– I hope that the honorable member may -
I asked the Attorney-General to say whether he and his friends hold shares in die Tobacco Trust, and stated thai he had obtained correct information from his friends in the Trust, because I understand - as I do not follow the key-hole tactics of the Attorney-General, I have no personal knowledge ; I do not turn up the wills of persons ten years dead - that the Trust is registered in London, and the share list kept there. How could the honorable gentleman ascertain that I was not a shareholder in the Tobacco Trust, if he were not in correspondence with some person possessing the confidence, and acquainted with the inner working, of the concern? I shall take that matter a step further presently. The Attorney-General attacked me, knowing that it was I who first called attention on the public platform to the statement of the Chief Justice with regard to the postponement of the shipping companies’ appeal. Yet I am, also indirectly, interested in a shipping company, so that the advertisement which the Attorney-General has given me is one which I think I can venture to claim with some degree of confidence shows my disinterestedness. I start to fix public attention upon the fact that the Government is treating the shipping companies with too much consideration. I appeal for a fair inquiry into the sugar question, and ask for an inquiry all round. I believe a fair inquiry all round would show that a good deal of the statements that are made on the public platform about the trusts are made only for political purposes. I believe it would show that the wild statements that the Labour party used to make some five or six years ago about the Tobacco Trust are very largely unjustifiable, and that if we had an inquiry all round by competent, unbiased, non-political persons
– Where are they to be found ?
– We should eventually have submitted to the people of Australia a judgment upon these questions in which they could have some confidence.
For instance, I do not trust the judgment of the honorable member for Gwydir in these matters. When he was anxious last session to make himself a little inconvenient to his own Government on the ground that they were not paying sufficient attention to his report upon the Postal Services, what did he do? He did not submit a motion of want of confidence, nor did he take any other overt step. He simply gave notice of his intention to move for an immediate and searching inquiry into the affairs of the Tobacco Trust. Was there a cheer from the Government side of the House when that notice was given? Not a whisper. Did honorable members opposite look pleased ? Certainly not. The honorable member was more than a meddlesome fellow lie was a dangerous fellow, and he got no encouragement from his own colleagues in his demand for an immediate and searching inquiry into the affairs of the Tobacco Trust.
– This is very good.
– I ask the honorable member to search the records of this House to see whether he received any encouragement from his party. If he did, then his withdrawal of the notice of motion was the more extraordinary.
– Did not the honorable member and his party give him any encouragement ?
– We gave him so much encouragement that the moment that he surreptitiously withdrew his notice of motion from the business paper we caused it to be placed there once more, and we are going to have that motion dealt with.
– I shall tell the honorable member why I withdrew it, and what is more, I should not wait until I had set out on an electioneering campaign in order to make an allegation. I should have made it in this House when the notice of motion was withdrawn if 1 had any statement to make.
– I did refer to the matter immediately after the withdrawal of the notice.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon, he did not.
– I did, and my reference to trie matter is to be found in Hansard.
– The honorable member must have referred to the matter at midnight.
– No, it was on one of the numerous occasions when the honorable member is away in the country. I do not wish to suggest that he does not attend to his parliamentary duties, but he happened to be away from the House on the occasion referred to. I availed myself of a debate on a Supply Bill to refer to it, and I particularly asked the honorable member to be present this afternoon to hear what I had to say. After all, I cannot understand the attitude that he now takes up. I should have thought that this House was the safest place in which to make any statement that one did not want to have challenged. What one says here is privileged; but I have drawn attention on the public platform, where I am not covered by privilege, to the fact that 1 think it very curious that the honorable member should have withdrawn his notice of motion for an immediate and searching inquiry into the affairs of the Tobacco Trust. If, therefore, the honorable member thinks that I have been making a cowardly attack upon him, he has open to him all the processes of the law to secure satisfaction.
– The honorable member knew when he made the statement in question that I was buried in the bush at Werriwa and could not reply to him.
– I did not know where the honorable member was, or what he was doing.
– The honorable member knows what I am doing to-day.
– Yes; and I shall be glad to have the honorable member’s explanation of this matter. It is capable of many different explanations. It is possible, for instance, that friends in his own party may have earnestly implored him not to proceed with his motion, on the ground, perhaps, that they were very good fellows.
– No member of my party ever spoke to me about it.
– Then there was some outside reason?
– No; I can decide for myself what I ought to do. I need no guidance from the honorable member or any one else.
– This is a singularly independent attitude for a member of the Caucus to take up !
I do not wish to do the honorable member an injustice, and I invite him to turn to Hansard, Vol. LXI., page 1350, where I am reported to have said in this House on 1 2th October last -
It is possible that my honorable friends opposite, in their zeal with regard to monopolies and combines, may want to go a little further than sugar. They may wish to look into the sphere of shipping, and even into the prohibited regions oE tobacco. On the notice-paper only a few days ago there stood a motion in the name of the honorable member for Gwydir for the institution of an immediate and searching inquiry into all the phases of the tobacco industry of Australia. Even the tobacco trust was not to be sacred.
– It is, seemingly.
– And why ? Because my honorable friends opposite seem to be afraid, for some reason or other, to go on with any attack upon the tobacco trust.
I shall hand this volume of Hansard to the honorable member, so that he will realize that exception was taken to his action at the earliest possible moment.
There are several curious phases of this tobacco question. In the first place, I think it essentially curious that so valorous a representative as the honorable member for Gwydir should have run away from the battle about as soon as he had sounded the bugle.
-He was not in the House on the day upon which his motion was to come on for discussion.
– It never came on for discussion. The honorable member surreptitiously withdrew it from the businesspaper.
– I withdrew it, as I had a right to do.
– Undoubtedly ; and the House undoubtedly has the right to comment upon the honorable member’s action. It is curious, also, that the honorable member, at a time when he was annoyed with the Administration, should have chosen this means of making his party uncomfortable, and then have gone away to the country before we could get to grips with this erstwhile octopus.
– Wrong, again. I have never been annoyed with my party.
– Without going into the question of a very important Royal Commission I would remind the honorable member that since I have been in this House two Labour Administrations have been formed, and that I well remember his attitude upon both those occasions.
– That is pure dirt.
– If the remark is offensive to the honorable member, I shall immediately withdraw it.
– It is offensive.
– The honorable member seems to be more “ touchy “ on the subject of the disappointment of an honorable ambition than upon his attitude regarding this question of tobacco.
As the Attorney-General has seen fit to dig up my private affairs, even if it is to his own discomfiture, I wish to refer to one possible explanation of the friendly interest which some honorable members appear to take in the doings of the Tobacco Trust. It will be remembered thatone of the things upon which Labour has been building high hopes for the starting of a daily Labour newspaper in Sydney has been a special Cable Syndicate. Will honorable members, in their spare time, examine, for their own information, the share register of the syndicate? Another thing which I have in my mind is that it is rather necessary, in order that the syndicate may keep alive until the Daily Worker is ready for publication to take up the running, that some big daily newspaper in Australia should buy the cables. Let honorable members look at the share register of the only big daily newspaper in Australia which buys the cables of this cable syndicate. When the Sydney Sun, a bright and clever newspaper, was recently re-organized, a gentleman intimately connected with the Tobacco Trust’, and also interested in Government contracts in an interesting way, as I shall show later, bought a very large interest in the Sun Company.
– Why does not the honorable member give his name - Denison?
– If the honorable member wants the name given, yes. A very curious thing is that the Sun is, I think, the only daily newspaper in Australia to contribute to the Cable Syndicate, upon which Mr. Watson is building tremendous hopes for the creation of the Daily Worker in Sydney. It is also a very curious thing -and I shall keep on using the word because I do not want to make a statement, but to get an explanation-
– State facts.
– I am stating facts. I am giving my honorable friends sufficient facts upon which to ask an explanation - that is all I am doing.
– Or is the honorable member fishing?
– Are honorable members placed on their guard then to give no explanation? Do I understand that remark to mean that the honorable member is afraid that somebody will give me the explanation for which I am asking?
– I am afraid the honorable member knows nothing about it.
– It is a fact that the first issues of the new Sydney Sun, very largely brought out by a member of the Tobacco Trust, contained leading articles hounding down the Colonial Sugar Refining Company as a monopoly of an iniquitous character; so that the attack upon that company was very gratifying, apparently, to certain interests, or certain persons in the Tobacco Trust. It is also a fact that the same gentleman in the Sun, has been, to a certain extent, identified with contracts, one of which I can refer to. PerEaps by reason of his personal qualities, because I understand that he is a very attractive man, he is possibly pretty well known to my honorable friends.
– What contract does the honorable member refer to?
– I am referring to the right to transfer the wireless telegraphy contract, which was given by the previous PostmasterGeneral, Mr. Thomas, to this contracting syndicate, and by which “they were able to make a good deal of money on the Sydney Stock Exchange.
– And the contracting syndicate was inaugurated by the Liberal Government.
– That is absolutely too thin.
– It is absolutely true.
– The original contract was signed by the previous Administration about four or five days before it left office.
– Longer than that.
– I think it was on the 4th April, 1910, that the tender of the syndicate was accepted.
– That is so, and the Liberal Government did not leave office until the 29th April.
– The honorable member is bothering now as to whether it was signed a few days or twenty days before the Liberal Government left office !
– If it was signed between the election day and the day they left office the position is worse.
– A contract was let immediately before the Liberal Government was defeated at the polls, and under it the syndicate could make no profit beyond a legitimate profit out of the contract. That is the point. On the 4th April, 191 1, a year later, the Australian Wireless Syndicate, in which Mr. Denison was a prominent shareholder, went to the PostmasterGeneral, Mr. Thomas, and asked his permission to transfer their contract to erect two stations to a larger company which was to be formed. That was done, and what happened? Mr. Denison’s £5.000 syndicate transferred their rights to a . £65,000 company, and in exchange got£45,000 in cash and shares ! That is what the syndicate did as the result of the complaisancy of a Labour PostmasterGeneral.
– Whose money did they get?
– The money of the public.
– They did not get Commonwealth money.
– The honorable member is trying to defend this piece of stupidity on the part of the Commonwealth Government by saying that the Denison syndicate did not get the Commonwealth’s money, but only the money of the people ! There is a very considerable difference between the two things ! The honorable member says that this is a mere stock exchange operation which it is perfectly legitimate for the Government to assist so long as the syndicate do not get any money from the Treasury ! But I contend that Commonwealth contracts ought to be kept in their entirety, and that no step ought to be taken by a Commonwealth Department which would give a contractor the chance of making a great deal of money by company flotation on the Sydney or any other stock exchange. Here is another curious thing. It was not the contract itself which gave Mr. Denison the chance of making money, but the fact that a Labour PostmasterGeneral was complaisant enough to let him transfer the contract to a new company to be formed, and to which he sold his syndicate rights, which were assessed by himself and his friends at £5,000, for £45,000 in cash and shares.
– Was not that company formed before he asked for a transfer of the contract?
– I do not think so.
– I think it was.
– We have never got that statement yet in the replies of the PostmasterGeneral.
– Did they not have to raise snore capital to carry out the contract ?
– They did. What happencd was that a company was formed with a capital of £65,000, £20,000 of which was available for the ordinary purposes of the company, and £45,000 of which was given as payment for the good-will of the £5,000 syndicate.
– Is the honorable member sure of that?
– Yes, I am sure of it. £45,000 was paid in cash and shares to the syndicate.
– How much in shares?
– The amount paid in cash was £10,000, £1 5,000 was paid in paidup preference shares, and £20,000 in ordinary paid-up shares.
– What are the shares worth now ?
– I do not know. I do not think they are worth £1. If they are quoted at less than£1 it shows that somebody has been trying to sell ; and that will not help my honorable friends opposite one iota, because the person who disposes of shares after the formation of a company is usually a man who has received a large number of shares in exchange for what he had to sell.
– We know who the persons concerned were. Samuel Hordern was one.
– Honorable members opposite know much more about these things than honorable members on this side can pretend to know.
– The honorable member is making his attack because he is annoyed that some other persons did not get a chance to be in the’swim.
– I understand the honorable member says that the trouble is that somebody else was not in the swim. The curious thing is that persons who were in the swim, like Mr. Denison, should be so identified with movements in connexion with the Labour propaganda such as the publication of Labour newspapers, and so on. He was one ofthe members of this concern, and another big financial member of it was the proprietor of the Sydney Bulletin, who afterwards used the “ Wild Cat “ columns of that publication to advise investors in Australia to buy shares in this company, from which, possibly, he was quite willing to sell out, although we do not know that for certain.
I have dealt with one or two matters in connexion with trusts. Some serious reply is necessary to the facts I have given the House and the country. I make no charges, but I say, merely, that it is a curious thing that my honorable friends opposite and tobacco should seem to be so oddly interwoven. There may be some explanation of it. I hope there is an explanation which will not make it necessary for the Attorney-General to beat his breast and make statements, before any charge is made against him, about his honesty and integrity. I hope some serious effort will be made to reply to the matters I have placed before honorable members. I repeat that it is a curious thing that there should be a packed inquiry into the sugar business, whilst honorable members opposite will not make an inquiry all round into the operation of trusts. It is now almost too late for them to give us anything but a belated explanation of their extraordinary lack of enterprise in dealing with trusts, and perhaps some explanation from the honorable member for Gwydir of the reasons why he gave notice of his valorous intention to resolutely deal with that erstwhile octopus, the Tobacco Trust, and then became like a sucking dove before he actually reached the battle.
The most prominent feature of the addresses delivered from the other side in the course of this debate has been the attempt, originally of the Prime Minister, and later, by implication, of the Attorney-General, to stir up class hatred, and to misquote and misrepresent statements made by the Leader of the Opposition in order to fight over again in this chamber the merits of the origin of the Brisbane strike. It appears to me that the time has gone by for honorable members opposite to tell us that they have starved in strikes; that they have not been bred and born in the lap of luxury ; that they have had to fight for their livelihood ; and that, as the Attorney-General has only just said, they have starved in times of industrial disturbance. All I can say is that it must have been a very long time ago - when our honorable friends opposite were in the Labour movement, and before they had begun to be parasites on it. They tell us that we are against the Labour movement, and that it is not safe for the electors to return us to power because of what might happen to the working man. I ask the working man, in reply to that statement, what he is getting out of the present Labour business. His conditions are no better than they were two years ago. In some respects, he is a great deal worse off. But my honorable friends opposite are perfectly happy. They are on a good wicket. We never hear a complaint from them. I am not a person accustomed to make such attacks as I have been compelled to make this afternoon. I am one of the good-tempered type of politicians, but I say that when the AttorneyGeneral and the Prime Minister use this clap-trap rhetoric to endeavour to create class hatred in the Commonwealth, I am not only justified, but it is my absolute duty, to point out that while it is true that while honorable members opposite are constantly advocating the abolition of wealth, they are all growing rich in the process. They are all right ! They are doing their best, and I have no complaint to make against them on that score, but they should not be so hypocritical as to pretend that, by virtue of their “poverty” they have some peculiar interest in common with the working classes, which we on this side of the House do not possess. I am justified in making these references to the effort on the part ‘ of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General.
The Attorney-General said that he is against strikes, and always’ has been against them. The Prime Minister said the same thing. But they do not always say the same thing in the same place. I can remember that the Prime Minister told us quite a different story at Brisbane. At Brisbane, Mr. Fisher said -
He made no apology for the attitude he took towards the strike. The strike was necessary. It was well that the great body of unionists rose like one man and supported the tramway men. Some of them had said the cause of the general strike was a small one, but to him it was a great thing.
That was the utterance of the Prime Minister, who is sworn to uphold the Commonwealth Arbitration law, to which the Tramway Employes Union had appealed, and which declares strikes .to be illegal. In Brisbane he was in favour of the general strike. But what did he say when he visited Goulburn? In the Evening Penny Post of that city he is thus reported -
He was accused of supporting strikes and turmoil. (A voice : Hear, hear.) He did not know what the “ Hear, hear,” meant. He had never in his life advocated strikes.
– Hear, hear !
– The Prime Minister again says “ Hear, hear.” He took the trouble to go to Brisbane, and to speak in support of the general strike. He declared that it was a great thing. Yet he now expresses approval ot his own statement in Goulburn that he never supported strikes in his life ! His attitude is supremely ridiculous. It is even something worse, I think, for it seems to me to exhibit a lack of appreciation on his part of the candour which he owes to the Australian people. Either the one statement or the other expresses his sentiments in regard to the general strike. Let him say one thing or the other, and keep on saying it, but do not let him say one thing in a particular place, and a different thing in another place, just as suits the exigencies of the moment.
I come now to the Attorney-General. He, too, has declared that he is opposed to strikes, and has been opposed to them all his life. He beat his breast to prove it. But what are the facts in regard to his opposition to strikes? As a matter of fact, when the Newcastle coal strike was in progress, and a strike committee was formed, which sat in Sydney, to deal with the question of calling out other unions, and thus extending the area of the industrial disturbance, Mr. William Hughes appeared in the public press as a pacificator - as a man who was endeavouring to quell Mr. Peter Bowling. He was the man of men upon whom the industries of the country could rely for the cessation of hostilities. The public regarded him as such - as Mr. W. M. Hughes, the settler of strikes.
Mr. Bowling was eventually tried for breaking the law of the land. What happened then? When Mr. Bowling was brought before the Court in New South Wales, sworn testimony was given, not by a Liberal or an opponent of the Labour party, but by Mr. Andrew Grey, the secretary of one of the greatest unions in that State, that it was Mr. W. M. Hughes who moved the resolution that the men should come out on strike after the lapse of four days.
– To what men was he referring?
– I have the press extract. It records the testimony of Mr. Andrew Grey, secretary of the Federated Coal and Shaleworkers Union, who swore before the Police Court that -
The first resolution in favour of an open conference was moved by Mr. Hughes and carried unanimously by the strike conference. The second resolution was, “That in the event of an open conference not being granted within four days the Waterside and Transport workers be asked to cease work.” This was put to the meeting and carried unanimously. It was moved by Mr. Hughes.
The Attorney-General has never contradicted that statement.
– Then why did the authorities prosecute Mr. Bowling and let Mr. Hughes go free?
– Because, I presume, the facts were not known at the time of the strike; for all the time, that Mr. Hughes was moving resolutions in favour of the general strike at the strike congress, he was posing in the public press as a pacificator, and was visiting Mr. Charles Gregory Wade almost every day in regard to the strike ! It is a curious thing that, so soon as he discovered that Mr. Wade meant business in regard to the strike congress, he got out of it very quickly.
– How did he get away?
– By posing as the pacificator” in the public press, whilst moving resolutions in favour of the general strike in the strike congress. So that we now have both the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral at the bar of public opinion. T understand that Mr. Peter Bowling seconded the motton which was moved by Mr. Hughes. Poor Bowling stuck to the course which the Attorney-General of Australia advised him to follow, and fell in. As a result he was committed to gaol, and Mr. W. M. Hughes, no doubt, wrote many articles on “ The Case for Labour “ in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, showing what a bad and dangerous person Mr. Bowling was. This is the way in which our Labour leaders treat those who have confidence in them.
In his remarks upon the subject of strikes the Prime Minister was almost pathetic. He said that strikers were the noblest men he had ever met, and that he preferred their society to the society of any other men. I believe there is no finer body of men than unionists, but I do not insult their intelligence by talking to them in the way that, the Prime Minister talked to them. Only yesterday he spoke to them as if he himself belonged to the artisan class, and as though - if he left this Chamber to-morrow - he would go back to his trade. What a piece of arrant humbug. The fact is that, by his circumstances, he is to-day more widely removed from the majority of the working classes than we are. What nonsense it is for him to endeavour to stir up class prejudice in the way that he did ! He affirmed that strikers are a magnificent body of men. The mere fact that they are strikers, I suppose, makes them ipso facto a magnificent body of men. But what about the strike which took place in the Worker newspaper office in Sydney? The employes of the Worker struck for the ordinary pay given by the capitalist press. But what did the honorable member for Darling say ? He said that the strikers were “ nothing but a pack of bushrangers “ - those honest journalists of the Wo’rker, who have given us so much political inflammation for years past ! When anybody strikes against anybody else, it is all right ; but directly there is a strike against the Labour party, the strikers are either hounded out of public life or out of their jobs on the Labour party’s journals.
I should now like to say a word or two in regard to the Werriwa elec tion. I ant reminded of this election by the fact that the whole of the speeches from the Government side during this debate have been what I might call electioneering addresses. They have failed entirely to meet the criticism directed against them by the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition; they have gone off into tangents of class prejudice and into those appeals which so disfigure the utterances from that side up to date. . Those speeches are just about as inaccurate as the election methods adopted by the Labour party in the Werriwa election. When I heard my friends opposite going about Werriwa making history all their own. I began to think they were in reality descended from a long line of Ephesians.
– Who was “ Diana “ ?
– I cannot say-. The Standing Orders do not permit me to describe in more direct language the,fallacious appeals made to the public of Werriwa by honorable members opposite. I think I might properly describe the honorable member for Adelaide as “ Diana,” for he certainly made the trickiest speech at Goulburn that I have ever heard of. Half of that speech was half the truth, the balance of it was not the truth, and all of it was suggestive of things still more untrue. He started off by defending the Prime Minister for his connexion with the Brisbane strike. He said that the Prime Minister had been accused of giving money to the strike fund, and went on -
The law was degraded they said. He presumed they referred to Mr. Fisher giving money to the strikers in Queensland. If the law had been degraded Mr. Fisher had degraded it m the very highest company of their Empire. When the miners strike was in progress the King, Queen Mary, and the Queen Mother each gave£1,000 to the striking miners’ fund.
Here is a statement by a Minister of the Crown that the King, to whom he has sworn allegiance, and whom, I understand, he has. on occasion served in many capacities, had given £1,000, along with similar amounts contributed by the Queen and the Queen Mother, to the Miners Strike Fund in Great Britain The statement is a pure fabrication. It was good enough for a country audience, but surely not good enough to come from a Minister of the Crown. The fact was. that this money was given for the alleviation of suffering caused by the strike; it was never given to keep the strike going, as Mr. Andrew Fisher, the Prime Minister of Australia, gave money to keep the strike going in Queensland.
-It is exactly the same tiling.
– There is a difference between giving money to keep a strike going against the laws of the land, which Ministers of’ the Crown have sworn to uphold, and giving money to alleviate suffering and distress caused by no fault of the sufferers, or by anything which we can control. If it comes to a mere question of charity, to put it on no higher ground, we can rely on Liberal opinion and Liberal pockets contributing just as generously, and, I think, more so, for the alleviation of suffering caused in any way, especially by strikes, as we can rely on - I shall not say honorable members, but place the matter outside politics - men supporting the Labour movement. If it were merely a question of alleviating suffering, the best thing would have been, for the Prime Minister to go to Queensland and use his influence with the strikers to submit their case to the Com monwealth Court - to urge them not to force the issue at the expense of the great suffering caused by tlie holding up of all industries in Queensland.
– What about the military ?
– The honorable member knows as well as I do that the whole reason and purpose of such an appeal to the Commonwealth Government was to show the public of Australia that the Commonwealth Government was behind the State Government in the maintenance of public order.
– It was only a political dodge !
– I personally think that the Prime Minister neglected his duty in not making it perfectly clear that, whether or not he thought soldiers ought to be sent, he was, in the last resort, behind the Government of Queensland. Let him, if be liked, say that in his opinion there was no occasion for calling out the militarythat is a matter of opinion. I am not going to contest the opinion of the Prime Minister in that regard, and I have never done so from the start. But, while holding that opinion, he ought most clearly to have demonstrated the fact that, when mischievous persons in Brisbane sought tomake the public believe that the Commonwealth Government were behind them, and were not for the maintenance of Jaw and order, such a statement was a malicious falsehood. That was his public duty as Prime Minister responsible for the maintenance of public order, and that is where he has gone wrong. All this special pleading, all these ridiculous inventions and lies as to what has happened in other parts of the world or would have happened here if the Prime Minister had done his duty, may be swept away. We may take the lesson from the experience of the Queensland elections, that the public of Australia like square dealing; they do not desire men in power who are afraid to stand up to a union secretary in control of a general strike movement.
– The honorable member dare not make that the issue at the next election !
– That was the issue in Queensland, where they best understand this matter. They understand the reason why the Prime Minister gave one sort of reply to the Premier of Queensland, and a very different reply to Mr. Joseph Coyne.
– The Labour party are stronger in Queensland to-day than they were before the election.
– The fact is that the Prime Minister was afraid of Mr. Coyne, and thought he had nothing to gain by doing his simple duty to the Premier and people of Queensland.
I have already dealt with what “Diana” said; and I should now like to refer to an extraordinary statement made from a platform by another distinguished leader of the Labour party in the State of New South Wales, namely, Senator McDougall. That gentleman said that the whole Labour party abhorred the statements made by Senator
Rae in connexion with the right of a striker to shoot any man desiring to take his job Senator McDougall told the people of Marulan that his “ whole party unanimously abhorred and repudiated the statement of Senator Rae.” Is that opinion supported by honorable members opposite or not?
– What does the honorable member think?
– -I think that it is not. I at once asked Senator McDougall at that meeting, “ If you repudiate and abhor the statement, will you join with us in driving Senator Rae and other such fanatics out of public life?”
– Will the honorable member give us Senator McDougall’s reply, made at the same time, about Mr. Wetherspoon?
– That is why I made the remark about “ other fanatics.”
– The honorable member for Parkes said that there would be a bloody revolution if the referenda proposals of the Labour party were carried.
– The honorable member for Parkes never made the statement that has been attributed to him. He has contradicted it several times, and it is of no use for the honorable member to repeat it now. It is quite correct that, when Senator McDougall said that he repudiated and abhorred everything that Senator Rae said, he alluded to some things that a Mr. Wetherspoon had said. I had never heard of Mr. Wetherspoon.
– The honorable member must go about with his eyes shut, then.
– My honorable friend forgets that eyes are not the means of hearing. I repeat that I had never heard of Mr. Wetherspoon.
– He. is connected with the Farmers and Settlers League.
– Mine is a city electorate, and I am not brought into close contact with farmers and settlers.
– I am glad that the honorable member does not know all the rogues in Sydney.
– I should like to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the honorable member has referred to some unfortunate person whose name has cropped up in this debate as a rogue. However, I think that the importance attached to the honorable member’s utterances will be that which is usually attached to the utterances of the representative for East Sydney since Sir George
Reid retired from that electorate. The point is this : Senator McDougall asked me whether I repudiated Mr. Wetherspoon’s utterances with regard to “ shooting them down.” I said, “ I do not know the gentleman ; but if he said that, I am all for driving him out of Parliament, if he is already in it.”
– The honorable member cannot; Mr. Wetherspoon is in the Upper House.
– Cannot the . honorable member’s party abolish the Upper House? They have been threatening to do so for years, but all they have done since they came into office in New South Wales has been to appoint members of their own party to seats in it. When I asked Senator McDougall whether he would join us in driving these lunatics out of Parliament, he said, “ Oh, no!” I take it, therefore, that his statement about repudiating and abhorring Senator Rae’s utterances was only so much tarradiddle, employed simply because Marulan was not the place where such sentiments ought to be voiced.
I had overlooked another statement made by the honorable member for Adelaide in the course of his address at Goulburn during the Werriwa campaign. He said, in referring to the Ministerial allowance - which Ministers have specially given to themselves to enable them to travel away from their jobs -
He himself had been a member of the Ministry for about eight months, and he had not drawn one penny out of the revenue of the Commonwealth. He was there that night at his own expense, and he had travelled on official business ; and although he had every legal and moral right to draw 25s. a day, he had not drawn a penny.
Is it not known to every man in this House thai the Honorary Minister has no legal right to draw a single penny? Is it not known that the number of paid Ministers is limited under the Constitution? The honorable member for Adelaide, not being one of those paid Ministers, is not entitled’ to a single penny by way of travelling allowance. I think that, morally, the honorable member is entitled to a great deal, because he has occupied many separateoffices at one and the same time, and has; been largely responsible for the administration .of Australia during the last few months. Ministers say that this travelling allowance has been due to them in the ordinary course of business. Is that so? Have honorable members ever seen such a spectacle as we have had in Australia during the last recess, of Ministers responsible for the supervision of policy in their respective Departments, irresponsibly leaving them, their places being taken by unpaid irresponsible Honorary Ministers? The purpose of a Minister in a public Department is obviously to supervise policy. He is the connecting link between Parliament and his Department. You cannot supervise policyanywhere half so efficiently as at head-quarters. Yet our Federal administrators have been all round Australia earning this travelling allowance, whilst their Departments have been run by the honorable member for Adelaide and Senator Findley. This is no extravagant statement. It is a statement of fact. I hold in my hand an extract from the personal column of the Melbourne Argus. That column has nothing to do with politics. It merely details the actions of important and prominent persons. This is the state of affairs that was recorded last April -
The Minister of Defence (Senator Pearce), accompanied by Mr. Roberts, Honorary Minister, who has been acting for him, will reach Melbourne by the Adelaide express to-morrow morning. The Minister of External Affairs (Mr. Thomas) will leave to-morrow for Sydney, and on Wednesday he will board the steamer Eastern with the Federal parliamentary party, which he is to lead into the hinterland of the Northern Territory. . . . The Postmaster-General (Mr. Frazer) has gone to Sydney, and the Minister of Customs (Mr. Tudor) is on his way to Perth, where the Minister of Home Affairs (Mr. O’Malley) is inquiring into the acquisition of land for a post-office site. Mr. Fisher, the Prime Minister, will leave for a tour in New South Wales and Queensland on Tuesday. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McGregor) is returning to Adelaide, so that the Honorary Ministers, Senator Findley and Mr. Roberts, will be busy administering Departments in the absence of the Ministers.
That is a mere statement of fact. Honorary Ministers were looking after the Federal Departments, whilst the real Ministers were earning their travelling allowance by moving all over Australia. This is the most singular instance we have had on record in any country of the innate modestv of Ministers. These Ministers have, told us, and the people of Australia, that it is worth the while of the public to pay them 25s. per day to stay away from their offices and not attend to ‘their jobs. They have been busy staying away from their jobs and earning travelling allowances ever since they brought this new system into existence.
– I wonder how much it costs them per day to travel?
– Why should it cost an ordinary Minister 25s. per day to travel and the Prime Minister £2 2s. ? This arrangement does not seem to be founded upon any equitable basis.
– It is a question of economics.
– If it is a question of economics, the Minister of Home Affairs is apparently deserving of a great deal more than any other Minister, because he can live on a great deal less. Certainly, the effect of paying this allowance has been to make Ministers “ go out and see Australia “ - to use a euphemism. They have gone out to see Australia at Australia’s expense; and, if I am any judge, they are prepared to go out and see Australia at any time for any purpose - as long as Australia makes it worth their while to do so !
One thing that was said during the Werriwa election campaign is worthy of some comment. We were told, by certain speakers, that Ministers had taken this new travelling allowance as an alternative to the£400 a year which this Parliament gave to Ministers as a travelling allowance in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth. When the question of the payments to Ministers came before Parliament, it was decided that they should take the . £400 a year - which was then the amount of the allowance made to members of Parliament - in lieu of any travelling allowances. When the parliamentary salary was raised to£600 a year, this House, with the concurrence of the Senate, specially resolved that the salary of Ministers should not be raised with it. Ministers were to continue to receive their£400 a year, and no more, as a travelling allowance, and that arrangement continued until this Government took office. But these Labour Ministers, in addition to the . £400 a year each which it was determined by Parliament should be regarded as a travelling allowance, receive other travelling allowances, and as a consequence each one of them basattended to his work at the head office of his Department much less frequently than any of his predecessors.
– Does the honorable member say that they get two sets of travelling allowances ?
– That is the fact. I do not make the statement because I think that they should be confined to Melbourne. Personally, I see no harm in these gentlemen leaving the management of the public Departments to the permanent heads. It might have been an advantage to have the Minister of Home Affairs, for instance, in
Fremantle, as an expert on land values in a place which he has never visited before, because it prevented him from doing anything unfair and partisan in the administration of his Department in the meanwhile !
I was astonished to hear the AttorneyGeneral give it as his reason why the Labour party suffered badly in the Werriwa contest that we had an excellent candidate, while their man was not so valuable a political asset; that we had a man who was known and respected, while their man was not known, and, the inference is, was not respected. As a matter of fact, the present member for Werriwa is respected, just as Mr. Conroy is respected by all who know him. The Labour party largely made the election campaign a fight, not between principle and principle, or policy and policy, not upon the pressing political problems of the day, but upon the merits of the two candidates. Whilst the press on our side was gagged, and the supporters of Mr. Conroy, in common decency, were silent regarding the personal qualifications of his opponent, Labour members and their official organ, the Co-operator, played the game of Catts as Catts can. That publication distributed lies by the barrow-load about our candidate, and contained many unsigned articles which were an infringinent of the law.
– All the articles in the Cooperator were signed.
– I saw unsigned articles in that paper commenting on politics. Those responsible for the publication ought to be proceeded against for their infringement of the law.
– They will not be proceeded against.
– 1 am sure of that. The Labour party’s story was that our candidate was not decent enough to represent any electorate; that when he formerly represented it he neglected its interests; that he had maltreated his tenants - shades of Billy ! - that he had done everything imaginable against public decency and private honour. Yet now they tell us in this House that we reduced their majority by 1,500 because we had a better candidate than theirs. This is an unfair and untrue statement of the position at Werriwa, and a gross insult to the member for that division, who, as a new member of the House, is entitled to consideration.
– The Attorney-General did not make the statements that the hon orable member attributes to him; he will not find them in Hansard.
– He certainly said what I have repeated, though I believe I may not find it in Hansard. He made the statement most distinctly, and every one on this side remembers it. It was made from his place at the table. He said that Mr. Conroy was a man well known everywhere, and respected by every one, but that his side was under the disadvantage of running a new man.
– He said our man was unknown, and his opponent notorious.
– He did not say that. The interjection is almost as reckless as the honorable member’s statement about the badge in the tramway plaint.
– He said that our man was unknown. That is a very different statement from those attributed to him by the honorable member.
– What is the sense of a statement to the effect that, because our candidate was known and the Labour candidate unknown, the Labour party lost 1,500 votes, if it is not a reflection on the Labour candidate? Our party was lucky in its candidate, and therefore we reduced the majority of our opponents - that is what he suggested ; and if it is not a reflection on the honorable member for Werriwa, I do not know what is.
As the Minister of External Affairs is in the chamber I have a word or two to say about matters connected with his Department, and offer the friendly suggestion that he might make it his business to really look after the external affairs of Australia. His concern seems to be chiefly with the white ants of the Northern Territory ! There are matters of pressing importance to Australia with which his Department should deal, but, owing to his slackness, there is no organization for dealing with them. What more directly affects Australia than the treatment of Australian goods and shipping by the colonies of a great Power in the Souffi. Pacific? I wished to know how our commerce was treated by the German colonies right against our door, and wrote to the Minister of External Affairs asking for information on the subject.: The first letter I received was from the Minister of External Affairs, promising to obtain the desired information as soon as possible. The next came from Mr.
Lockyer, Comptroller-General of Customs. It read as follows -
Melbourne, 14th March, 1912. Dear Sir, -With reference to your letter of the 22nd ultimo, addressed to the Minister of External Affairs, I beg to inform you, in the absence of my Minister, that the information contained in this office does not disclose that the German possessions in the Pacific (in Samoa, New Guinea, and New Britain) give Tariff preference to goods of German origin ; nor does it appear that the terms of the German Customs Union apply to the possessions mentioned.
Honorable members will notice that the reply is carefully . worded. It does not say that Tariff preference is or is not given to goods of German origin, but that “ the information contained in this office does not disclose” that it is given -
Inquiries have been made as to whether there is any discrimination against British or Australian shipping on the part of the authorities of the possessions in question, but up to the present no information on this point has been obtained. However, the matter is being pursued, and you will be further communicated with in regard thereto.
A little over a month later I received a further letter signed by the Acting ComptrollerGeneral, Mr. S. Mills -
Melbourne, 17th April, 1912. Dear Sir,. - Following on the letter addressed to you from this office on the 14th ultimo, I beg to inform you the German Trade Commissioner, Sydney, advises that all the German Colonies have only one Customs Tariff, which applies to all goods alike, irrespective of origin ; further, that since the administration of the Marshall Islands reverted from the Jaluit Company to the Imperial German Government’ (in 1908), arty discrimination between German, British, or other shipping would be against the Regulations, and therefore illegal.
Honorable members will observe that, although I first communicated with the Department of External Affairs about the middle of February, it was not Until the 17 th April that I was able to find out - and then not from the Department of External Affairs - something affecting the external affairs of Australia that it ought to have been able to supply without going outside its own doors.
That is an interesting case, and another eloquent illustration of the neglectful way in which the Government is treating the affairs of Australia is to be found in an interview with the present Prime Minister which appeared in the Argus on 26th March last. The interview reads - “ Preference is not a new thing,” said the Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher) yesterday, when a leading article that appeared’ in the Argus of Saturday dealing with the apparent intention of the United States to exempt its shipping from the payment of tolls when passing through the
Panama Canal, which may be open for traffic in two years, was mentioned to him. Mr. Fisher appeared to be aware of the fact that a Canal Bill was before the House of Representatives of the United States, but he was of opinion that representations to the British Government, on behalf of the Commonwealth would at present be premature. “ However much we may regret the fact that Australian shipping may have to pay a toll of 6s. per ton when passing through the canal,” added Mr. Fisher, “ we must remember that we give preference in our Tariff, and try to build up our mercantile marine at the expense of the shipping of foreign countries.”
On reading that statement, I at once wrote to the Prime Minister, asking where we gave preference to our shipping at the expense of the shipping of foreign countries. I ought, perhaps, to place on record the correspondence, in order to show how much attention is paid tothe external affairs of Australia by the Prime Minister. I shall read all the letters but the final one, which is marked “ private,” and which, therefore, I cannot put in without the permission of the right honorable gentleman. I think this correspondence shows that he did not understand the particular point at issue, although it vitally affects Australia. I wrote to the Prime Minister as follows : - 26th March, 1912.
The Right Hon. the Prime Minister.
In to-day’s Argus you are quoted as having used the following words in extenuation of the preferential treatment proposed to be accorded to American shipping using the above canal : - “ We must remember that we give preferencein our Tariff, and try to build up our mercantile marine at the expense ‘ of the shipping of foreign countries.”
I would be glad if you would kindly informme whether you meant to include within theexpression “foreign countries” the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa ;. or, if not, what preference over foreign shipping; Australia gives in her Tariff or otherwise to the shipping of the British Empire?
I asked’ that question because the preference that we wished to give to the shipping, of the British Empire was refused by the Board of Trade as far back as 1906. In reply, I received the following letter : -
I duly received your letter of the 26th ultimo on the subject of Panama Canal charges.
With regard to the report in the Argus of that date of remarks made by me in this connexion, I desire to inform you that what I intended to convey was that preference was given to British goods, and that efforts had also been directed to giving preference to goods carried in British bottoms.
On receipt of my letter, the Prime Minister had looked up the facts, and had found that what he had stated to be a fact was not a fact. It will be noticed that he did not deny the accuracy of the report. I then wrote to the Prime Minister as follows : -
I have to thank you for your letter of the 3rd instant.
Since 1906 it has been known to the Federal Parliament that British Treaty obligations with foreign Powers prevent the British Government accepting preferential treatment for its own shipping ; for it was in that year that a proposal to that effect, which had passed both Houses of the Australian Parliament, had to be abandoned on representations from the British Government.
Knowing this, I was forced to the conclusion that your references in the Argus of the 26th ult. to our efforts “ to build up our mercantile marine at the expense of the shipping of foreign countries “ referred to the protection which our Tariff affords to local shipping at the expense equally of British and foreign shipping. And I confess I could see no logic in advancing this purely local fact as a reason why an empire that refuses to give its own shipping a preference should refrain from protesting against the proposed preference in Panama Canal charges to American as against the shipping of other countries.
The American Government will naturally seek to make the Panama Canal pay its way, and will accordingly have to make foreign shipping, as far as possible, pay for the preference given to its own shipping. Thus the result of low (or no) charges to American shipping willbe high charges to Australian and British shipping; and Australian trade will suffer.
As you were good enough to protest at last year’s Imperial Conference against the magnitude of the Suez Canal charges-
I direct the attention of the Minister of External Affairs to this fact - may I hope you will be equally alive to Australian needs in this new direction? In this case protest can be made with infinitely greater justice, since America is able, and Great Britain is not, to alter at will the charges in these canals respectively.
I need not suggest that protest has a better chance of successagainst “ a proposal “ than against un fait accompli, and that, consequently protest to be successful should be made without further delay.
That letter was addressed to the Prime Minister on the 9th April, and his reply was as follows: -
Dear Mr. Kelly, - I have duly received your letter of the 9th April with regard to the question of Panama Canal charges. I am now on tour in my constituency, but upon my return to Melbourne I shall give your representations my best consideration.
Subsequent to his return to Melbourne, he began to give these questions of enormous importance to Australia the consideration which, I think, he ought to have given them before he proceeded “ to tour “ his own constituency.
This question of the Panama Canal charges is enormously important to Australia, for the reason that as soon as the canal is opened, Australia will cease to. be at the end of a string of the world’s shipping trade. It will then be in the middle of a long band of shipping, and the result, so far as passenger ships are concerned, will be very important. Australia is getting but a very small percentage of the tourist traffic of the world to-day, because tourists will not undertake a long sea voyage when they will have to return by the same route. The moment the Panama Canal is opened, if British shipping has equal rights with the shipping of other countries, and is, consequently, unhampered, we shall find shipping companies sending vessels to Australia by one route, and back through the Panama Canal, thus making a round voyage. Instead of being an unpopular place for tourists, Australia will then become very popular with them. Honorable members may say that the tourist traffic, after all, is a very small matter. In itself it is; but a tourist traffic compels the creation of tourist ships, and the most valuable freight that a tourist ship carries is frozen produce. If you double the tourist shipping which calls at Australia on its way round the world,ipsofacto you will double the refrigerated space offering for the carriage of produce. In this way you will give a vast fillip with reduced rates to the great trade, which is rapidly increasing and can be very materially increased, in commodities which are sent in a cold or frozen state to the English market.
– The Minister of Home Affairs admits that it is a matter of vital importance to Australia. We ought to have done everything we possibly could at every stage to see that Australian trade had not to pay a special toll, directly or indirectly, on its passage through the Panama Canal to market.
We have a right to offer a protest, because, when all is said and done, the United States have guaranteed our shipping and our trade equal rights when using the canal. In 1850 the United States and Great Britain entered into the ClaytonBulwer treaty, under which both Powers undertook that neither of them would exclusively control a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, or fortify any canal to be built.
That treaty was superseded in ,1901 by the Hay-Pauncefoote treaty, under which Great Britain gave up her veto right against America building a canal on her own account, and also her right to veto the fortification of the canal, and took in lieu thereof a right not only for its own shipping, but also for the shipping of all nations, for in the treaty the following words occur-
The canal shall be free to the vessels of all nations on terms of entire equality, so that there shall be no discrimination against any such nation or its citizens or subjects in respect of conditions or charges of traffic or otherwise.
We have the absolute right, then, to ask that our shipping and our trade shall be treated on identically the same terms as the shipping and the trade of the United States that use the canal. Quite recently the shipping companies in the United States were having a fight in political circles with the railway companies. The latter do not want the Panama Canal to become too popular, and the former want all the Government assistance they can get to make it popular. The shipping companies want special treatment at the hands of the American Parliament, and they have been using all the forces at their back to achieve their object. The railway companies have been trying to defeat their effort. Whilst this fight was in progress - a fight which vitally affected Australian development, which was woven up with Australia’s right under a treaty signed, sealed, and delivered - the Prime Minister of Australia did not apparently know what it was all about, and thought it was of more importance to tour his constituency than bring pressure to bear immediately through the right source upon those interested.
– If Mr. Bryce was available to make representations for Canada, he was also available, I assume, to make representations for Australia.
– Certainly. The Imperial authorities would undoubtedly have dealt with the matter. I give the correspondence with the Prime Minister up to that stage. I have had a further letter since then, but it is confidential, and I prefer him to make any statement he cares to make on that subject. The fact remains that, until goaded out of a position of indifference by argument and reference to facts, the Prime Minister of Australia regarded this as a matter of little or no account. Yet it is closely related to the External Affairs Department, whose representative, I understand, was leading an ex pedition in the Northern Territory when this correspondence was proceeding ! External affairs, however important, appear to be a matter of no importance to the Minister of External Affairs.
– The honorable member is smart and clever.
– I wish that my honorable friend was smart, and then he would stay in one Department, instead of being shifted about. He has now a chance of doing what he was not able to do in the Postal Department, and that is of organizing something vitally important and necessary. He has an opportunity to organize channels of information under the External Affairs Department. In the past we have depended upon the alertness of the Ministers in charge of the Department to keep in touch with matters occurring outside Australia. But apparently we can no longer depend upon the Minister. That quality is missing in the existing Ministry. They no longer concern themselves about external affairs, however important they may be to Australia. We want some special arrangement whereby persons officially responsible to the Department will keep their eyes on these things in different parts of the world, and see that Australian interests are safeguarded.
Sitting suspended from 6.27 to 7.45 p.m.
– The Attorney-General this afternoon referred to the appointments which the Government have made to several positions. It is not my purpose now to discuss the personality of the gentlemen appointed, or their qualifications for the positions to which they have been appointed. I wish only to say that in his appeal to the prejudice of honorable members supporting the Government, the AttorneyGeneral overlooked the fact that our charge in connexion with these appointments was never based merely on the ground that the gentlemen appointed were supporters of the Labour party. It was much broader based. We said that the appointments made were not the best that could have been made in the circumstances, and that, being made, in a number of cases of defeated Labour candidates, or, in other words, men in search of a job, the onus lay upon the Government to prove that those men were the best that could be procured for the respective offices. For example, the objection urged to the appointment of Mr. Campbell as a Trade Commissioner was that he did not fulfil the conditions laid down by the Prime Minister himself when in England. The right honorable gentleman expressed, in the clearest possible way, his belief that if the Commission was to do any valuable work at all, its members must be gentlemen commanding the respect and confidence of their respective countries, and, at the same time, men who could speak with confidence of and in the countries they represented. We pointed out that Mr. Campbell was not known in Australia, and that, so far as we could learn, he had had no previous experience which would qualify him for this high office. It is a fact that, in the course of an interview before leaving Melbourne, Mr. Campbell showed that he did not thoroughly understand or grasp the duties of the position. He confessed that he did not quite know what the duties of the Commission were to be. He was dogmatic only on one point, and that was that Tariff pre- ference was to be one of the subjects dealt with by the Commission ! We are aware that Tariff preference is one of the subjects which has been kept back from the Commission. So that, in this case, not only did the Government appoint as a Trade Commissioner a man whose only qualification, so far as we can find, was that he had been defeated in the Labour interest for Parliament, but a man who did not Juiow what he was appointed to do ; and ilhis, in spite of the Prime Minister’s conitention that a representative Australian should be appointed to this office.
I wish now to refer to one or two matters in connexion with the Department of the M mister of Home Affairs. I hope to address myself to these departmental matters in a better frame of mind than I was in before the adjournment for dinner. When one is faced with a charge of personal interest In any matter, and knows that the person who makes the charge realizes, as well as one does oneself, how baseless it is, he is naturally prone to hit a little hard in reply. I shall ask the Minister of Home Affairs to explain, if he can, one or two matters connected with his Department which seem to me to require some explana- tion.
In the fust place, the honorable gentleman has rather dodged explanation with regard to his attitude in connexion with the use of the old roll at the recent Werriwa election. In the House the honorable gentieman was asked -
Call the Minister of Home Affairs produce “his telegraphic correspondence with the Chief Electoral Officer in New South Wales? I under stand that the old roll, in addition to the new roll, was used in the Werriwa by-election. The telegram to which I refer was, I think, from Crookwell.
The Minister’s reply was -
The old roll was not used.
Of course, being an innocent member,I was expected to shut up and say no more; but I came to the same problem again, and I found that the Minister, on the second occasion, used words which were hardly explanatory enough in my humble judgment. He admitted that he had given orders that the old roll was to be used ; but that when he found out that that was not legal, he withdrew from that position. I should like to say at once that no officer of his Department has betrayed its secrets to me. Tfiis information has come to me as information will come to honorable members, no one knows how.
– By wireless.
– By wireless is the proper way to put it. I am informed that the Minister at Crookwell sent a telegram to Goulburn to the divisional Returning Officer, who was responsible for the election, not to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer at Sydney, to use the old roll, at any rate in Crookwell, if not throughout the electorate, as well as the new roll. He did not send a telegram, but wrote a letter to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer at Sydney, giving the same instructions. What I wish to direct the honorable gentleman’s attention to is that, if this be so, or if it reasonably approximates to the actual state of affairs, he should explain why it was that he did not understand the electoral law when he started to give directions as regards the use of the roll in that election. It should be well known to every one that the moment a new roll comes into existence the old roll is obsolete and finished with. I think that what happened was that the Minister, being particularly anxious that certain persons, whose names were not on the new roll, should vote at the election in virtue of the fact that their names appeared on the old roll, gave instructions in that regard, but was pulled up short by his own officers. I do not know, but I think that is what must have happened. I am sure it was inadvertence on the honorable gentleman’s part. The names of these persons were not on the new roll, and the Minister wanted them to vote, not merely because tliey would vote Labour, supposing them to be members of trusts, who would, I think, if sensible persons, vote Labour ! I know that the honorable gentleman will deny that the incident had any partysignificance, or had its birth in any party spirit; but I should still like him to explain his reason for doing what he did.
I wish to call the honorable gentleman’s attention to another matter in which I am personally interested, and in connexion with which I occupy a somewhat ridiculous position. I found some time ago, and as soon as I could I called to see the Minister about it, that a change was proposed in connexion with the Victoria Barracks, in Sydney. The Government were proposing to resume a place, which the managers of a trust estate in which I am interested desired to sell, for the purpose of establishing barracks at Double Bay, Sydney. As soon as I found that the papers had. gone on to the Home Affairs Department, I at once told the permanent official in charge of the Department, and the Minister himself, that, although we wanted to sell this place, and had wished to sell it for a considerable time, it was not suited to Commonwealth purposes.
– Hear, hear ! That is so.
– The Minister bears me out in that statement. He could not find the papers. It was the first the honorable gentieman had heard of the matter, and I, as a person who was likely to be considerably benefited by the proposal, urged the Minister to regard it as an unsound proposal from a Commonwealth point of view. We learned that the papers were somewhere in Sydney, and the Minister of Home Affairs was very anxious to know what the proposal was. I was anxious to know, and I wanted the scheme blocked at once. I have since seen the papers bearing upon it - the Minister desired that I should see them at the earliest possible moment. But what puzzles me about the matter is how it originated. There is nothing on the papers to show that.
– Surely there ought to be.
– I can assure my honorable friend that the papers do not disclose how the scheme came into existence. The Minister knows who originated the proposal. Why, then, does not that information appear upon the papers. I cannot understand the value of official documents if they do not disclose the whole origin and course of the public business with which they are presumed to deal. The Minister knows, quite as well as I do, who originated this proposal,and if he does he is perfectly aware why the name of its author does not appearonthe papers. It is rather a curious thing-
– What a lot of “ curious “ things the Opposition have lately discovered !
– I hope that I have not given offence bymyuse of the word “ curious.”
– Tell us all about it.
– I prefer that the Minister of Home Affairs should do that. But if he will not give us the information, I shall move for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the whole matter and to examine witnesses on oath.
– I have no objection to the honorable member giving the House the information, if it is in his possession. I have not got it.
– I occupy rather a difficult position in regard to it.
– It was not the honorable member himself who originated it.
– No, I was the person who blocked it, as the Minister himself will admit. The curious feature about the business is that there are two estates - each about the size of that on which the house the Prime Minister recently acquired in Melbourne stands - which it is desired to sell. Now, everybody knows that it is very difficult to sell that class of property.
– The trustees want to sell it, and they don’t want to sell it.
– I do not wish to sell this estate in which I am interested to the Government because they cannot make proper use of it. Honorable members upon this side of the chamber are not built like that. These two estates, I repeat, are in the market for sale, and,of course, a certain amount of commission would naturally have to be paid upon such a sale Under the scheme proposed, I may add, it was suggested that in order to provide parade grounds a portion of Sydney Harbor should be reclaimed. I can assure my honorable friends that it was seriously proposed to purchase two large residential houses on the shores of Sydney Harbor - both very valuable properties, though not suitable for a military barracks - and to provide the parade grounds by employing dredges to fill in the harbor both’ in front and by the side of these residences. There were 60 or 70 acres of reclamation to be effected !
– Does this all appear on the papers?
– The scheme is disclosed upon the papers, but the name of its originator does not appear. In justice to the local military authorities it ought to be shown who is the author of the scheme.
– I hope that it was not intended to reclaim the whole of Sydney Harbor.
– It was proposed to take away one of the best parts of the harbor, namely, Double Bay.
– I am up against that.
– I told the Minister of Home Affairs that the whole thing was absurd, and that it ought to be stopped.
– Was it intended to provide a manoeuvre area?
– There was more manoeuvring about the business than is disclosed in the official papers, and I want the Minister to say frankly who originated the scheme. If he cannot give us that information, I trust that he will consent to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the whole of the circumstances connected with the birth of this proposition. “ Redleaf “ is the name of the house which appears most prominently in the papers, and the proposal was to transfer the Victoria Barracks to Double Bay, Sydney.
– Did the Minister turn it down ?
– Yes, and I was the first person who came along and advised him to turn it down.
There is one other matter connected with administration to which I desire to direct attention. Some time ago I asked a question relating to the Small Arms Factory. I asked why it was that the contractor, who under the contract had incurred enormous penalties, had never been mulcted in those penalties. In reply, I was informed that the whole matter was under consideration, but that it was not deemed wise in the public interest that I should be enlightened very much. But we all know that the contractor entered into a bond of £20,000 for the due performance of the contract, and seeing that he was liable to a fine of . £400 for every week that its completion was overdue, he owes the Commonwealth, upon paper, no less a sum than£56,000. During the Werriwa election my honorable friends opposite stumped the constituency, exhorting the electors to vote for Labour because they had given them a Small Arms Factory. As a matter of fact, it was due to their maladministration that the establishment of the factory had been postponed for about fifteen months. The contractor - notwithstanding that he had undertaken to complete the work within a certain period - simply laughed at the Commonwealth. What had really happened ? When this Government of business men and abstruse financiers made a claim against the American firm in question, the latter whipped in a counter claim for costs incurred by reason of the Government having varied the contract, and thereupon the claim was apparently dropped. If there is a contract, we ought to see that the contractor . keeps to it. I have a similar complaint to make in. regard to the wireless business. In that case, the varying of the contract enabled the contractors to make a great deal of money out of the public on the Sydney Stock Exchange, and in this case penalties of £56,000 were sacrificed for a similar reason, and the completion of the factory delayed some fifteen months. Now that the contract is all over, and the factory has been taken delivery of, I wish to know why it is that the Government have not been able to keep the contractor up to his contract.
– The Government made about£40,000 out of the contract.
– The Government were entitled to make £56,000, but we have not heard a whisper of what they have “ made.” If the Government have made , £40,000, all the more reason for an immediate statement of the fact. The newspaper statement is that the counter-claim is for a greater amount than the Commonwealth claim, and that, consequently, the Commonwealth is not pressing its case.
– Let the honorable member inquire what he could put the machinery in for.
– My honorable friend, is always full of sympathy for the contractor ! The Attorney- General this afternoon beat his breast, and said that the Anti-Trust Act is “not fair to the trusts”; and in the same way we find now the Minister of Home Affairs saying that the contract in the case I have just mentioned is not fair to the contractor. But the contractor ought to have thought of all these things before entering into the contract. If a contract is to be anything more than a mere blind to enable us to give preference to a particular contractor, we must keep people to their engagements.
This afternoon, in one of the most amusing flights of the Attorney-General’s rhetoric, when he had the House, especially honorable members opposite, convulsed with” laughter, he referred to the fact, or the alleged fact, that his party waved no flags and walked in no processions - that Ministers marched behind no banners. I do not wish to refer to dead and buried history, or to the predicament in which a really good sincere Christian may occasionally find himself. I have no desire to harrow the feelings of my honorable friend by referring to the melancholy spectacle of the Minister of External Affairs marching behind a militant band, and in front of still more militant banners, because the unionists at Broken Hill said it was necessary for a Minister of the Crown to walk in a .strike procession. I do not - wish to refer to these things, but merely to show that, after all, my friends opposite have a good deal to do with banners and with marching when it suits them.
Again, I have to refer to the exPostmasterGeneral. Although Tattersail’s is very properly denied, postal privileges and facilities, art unions run by my honorable friends’ friends outside are permitted to enjoy them. I wish to deal with one of the art unions of which. I have here a balance-sheet. These art unions are allowed to be carried on through the post in the ordinary way, although they are conducted on exactly the same gambling lines as Tattersalls, except-that in the latter case the prizes represent a bigger percentage of the takings. These art unions, as I say, are allowed to be conducted through the post, whereas any person found dealing with Tattersalls finds his correspondence cut off. For some reason or other, my friends opposite, who object to Tattersalls, delight in the fact that art unions for the raising of funds for particular purposes may use the agency of the post-office. The balancesheet to which I have referred shows that in this particular case £13,837 3s. was received from the sale of tickets, and that £1,563 12s. 7d. was paid out in prizes.
– Was that the gold medal year?
– The Committee got more than gold medals; they got hats, banners, cloaks, and everything under the sun ! Amongst the items of expenditure are : - Attendance fees, £216 4s. ; secretary’s salary, £160 ; and honorarium, ,£150 ; banner carriers’ fees - what about processions? - £104; lSsistant secretary, £65 ; committeemen’s day pay - those patriots must be paid ! - £64 ; clerical assistance, .£61 10s. ; delegates’ expenses, £49 ; officers’ salaries, £46 ; prizes for displays in the procession - there was a procession, you see! - £120; catering - they cannot live for a shilling a day in this movement - ^150 ; services rendered - it is all so delightfully explicit ! - £33 r9S- ; hats for committeemen - what is charged by those stalwarts for hats? - £26 19s. 9d.
– How many ‘ committeemen were there?
– We do not know. There are charges for clerical assistance, for bannerette boxes, and so on ; and the £13,000 odd that was received for tickets with a beneficent object - -
– It was used for the conversion of the heathen.
– This is not the first time that the Minister of External Affairs has been interested in the conversion of the heathen, and it is not the first time that the conversion has worn a business aspect. If it is a fair thing to “ shut down “ on Tattersalls, which, after all, deducts only 10 per cent, for expenses, it is time we “ shut down “ on the efforts of the friends of the Ministry outside to raise money on the pretence that it will be given away in prizes. I say without hesitation that an Administration which will let these art unions be carried on through the post, whilst it, in my humble opinion, very properly tries to “ shut down “ on the gambling institution? in Hobart, cannot claim that the government of the. country is conducted on nonpartisan lines.
– The Liberal party in New South Wales always gave permission- for the Eight Hours Day art union.
– Did my honorable friendever get a hat out of it ? Honorable members opposite claim to be a solid party, and I think I have shown that they are.
– It is too solid a party for honorable members opposite.
– The Labour party isa solid party - it’ is the “ thickest “’ thing I know ! Its members were returned two years ago to help the people,, but have they, seriously speaking, succeeded in helping any one but themselves?’ The people do not think so. The Labour majority in Werriwa was reduced by 1,500,. and I shall tell honorable members exactly why. The working man sees that his conditions of living are worse now than they were two years ago. Because, after all, wages are only valuable for what they will purchase ; and if the cost of living goes up more rapidly than wages rise, it means that the worker is worse off than he was before. Owing to industrial confidence having been upset - not so much by the action of my honorable friends inside this chamber, as owing to the platform protestations that they have made in the course of their electioneering manoeuvring - public confidence has been destroyed. Consequently, there is less competition for labour in Australia today than there would have been had they behaved sanely on the public platform. There being less competition for labour, the working man is nol getting so much for his labour in reality as was the case two years ago. Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards may raise wages, but if that rise is artificial it is passed on to the cost of the service given by the wage-earner. If he is making something, the extra cost is passed on to the cost of the article which he makes. If he is handling something, it is passed on to the cost of handling. Inasmuch as the working man has to live by purchasing the products of other working men and the things which other working men have handled, he finds that the price of these goods has gone up. The only real way in which you can benefit the worker is by bringing about more competition for his labour; and the only way in which you can cause competition for his labour is by establishing public confidence, so that every one will be prepared to come out and take a hand in increasing the productivity and prosperity of the community. I believe in the payment of good wages ; but I do not believe in the hollow humbug of increasing wages by one shilling a week and increasing the cos>t of living by three shillings. When that is done, the working man is worse off than he was before ; and he is beginning to realize that in this country. Working men are saying “to themselves : “ Is this the sort of thing that follows from Labour Administration?” All their allegiance to my honorable friends opposite is disappearing. Some of it may still be there, to some extent, but the enthusiasm has gone. Working men throughout the country are beginning to think for themselves.
– They think that the honorable member’s party is dead.
– They showed that they thought our party was dead by decreasing the Labour majority in Werriwa by 1,500, and by reducing their position in Boothby from a majority of 4,000 to a minority of nearly 2,000 ! In face of this position of affairs, the diatribe indulged in this afternoon by the Attorney-General was only so much crackling of thorns under a pot. Honorable members opposite recognise that they are in trouble; and they seem to think that their only chance of evading their difficulty is by casting ridicule on a party, each member of which has the freedom of conscience to be able to speak and think for himself, and is not at the mercy of any hide bound machine which compels him to do what his party wants, whilst at the same time allowing him to vary what he says to suit audiences in different parts of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Robertson made an interjection just now which I did not catch.
– To bring immigration to the country is the way to make the lot of the working man better !
– But is not every sensible person in this House aware that the whole influence of the party to which the honorable member belongs has been against immigration ? With that knowledge one must be amused at the pious expression of selfsatisfaction in the Governor-General’s Speech to the effect that their policy has contributed materially to increasing immigration. Self-satisfaction and selfcomplacency do not make a thing what you may wish it to appear for the time being. I welcome the honorable member’s interjection, which shows conclusively what humbug these gentlemen really think is the pretence on the part of the Prime Minister and his colleagues.
I wish to say a word about profit-sharing. [ followed the Attorney-General very closely this afternoon, and understood him to say that profit-sharing was very much like temperance; that it was a very good thing for a man to be temperate, but that if all of us were temperate no one of us would be better than the rest.
– He did not say that ; he said if all were teetotallers.
– That is worse.
– I dissent; it is better !
– I stand corrected ; it may be better. We will say that profitsharing is like teetotalism, an excellent thing for the individual who practises it, but that if every one in the Commonwealth practised it no one would be better than the rest. That is the argument. It is a curious thing to say. The honorable gentleman went on to say that profitsharing was an excellent thing for the persons who took part in it, but was not going to relieve the labouring classes one iota. What will relieve the working classes in any community or make the community truly great and prosperous?
Mr.KingO’Malley.- The defeat of the Liberals.
– Is that the only alternative? The only way of making any person content in life is by making him happy in the position in which he finds himself. By all means let him try to better his condition, but do not pretend that a man is going to be made happier from the belief that a landlord belonging to the Labour party is a better man to deal with than an humble individual on this side, or that a financier over there is more closely allied to Labour principles in his financing than is a miserable pittance-man on this side ! Honorable members opposite call themselves Progressives. Privately they might seem to the uninitiated never to progress. Some of them describe themselves in their election certificates as anything but what they are. I may, without offence, mention that one of them describes himself as a miner - one of the finest occupations a man can follow. He must be a political miner, sir. For any honorable member opposite so to describe himself in his present circumstances is ridiculous. Honorable members may have followed occupations of this kind twenty years ago, but they should describe themselves accurately to-day.
Mr.West. - The honorable member never worked in his life.
– My honorable friend was, I believe, a plumber. When he was such, he was following a very honorable career, for which I venture to say he was more fitted than- . The fact is that my honorable friends are describing themselves in this fashion with the express purpose of making the public believe that” they are still members of the working class, still labouring men. But look around at them. Some of them tell us that they were once starved in strikes. . But that was years ago. I honour them for it. I doubt whether we can get along in this world without occasional strikes or industrial disturbances of some kind, and I honour men who stick to each other. But for my honorable friends to get up now and ask us to believe that they are the only peoplewho are competent to speak for working men is absurd. When one casts one’s eye from the honorable member for East Sydney to the Prime Minister, and from him to the solid exterior of the honorable member for Maranoa, one begins to wonder how much they have starved in recent years.
– I have never had tucker at the honorable member’s expense.
– I hope that a remedy for that may be applied at the earliest moment.
– I shall publicly announce the fact when it is.
– I shall be very happy; and I trust that my honorable friend, being the richer man of the two, will do me the courtesy to return my hospitality.
– I have worked hard for what I have.
– Exactly, and I honour the honorable member for it. It is absurd for us to speak about each other in this way.
– Then why do it?
– Because it is necessary to answer the appeal to prejudice which comes constantly from the other side. I have one exception in my mind. At Gunning, during the Werriwa campaign, the honorable member for Macquarie made the best speech I have heard from a Labour member for a long time, because there was no intentional nonsense in it. He said that it was absurd to describe the Labour party as a class party, inasmuch as its members are drawn from all sections of the community. I have always held that view. A survey of the benches opposite shows that the Labour members cannot be said to represent the working men more than we on this side. I do not think that honorable members there are any nearer the manual labour stage than we are. But, although drawn from all sections, they act only in the interests of one section. While, personally, there is no difference between those composing the two political parties in this House, in policy and action there is all the difference in the world.
– The members of one section only sent me here, but it is a big section.
– In my judgment, the Labour party is tainted with class ambition. But I refuse to credit the assertion that the honorable member for Adelaide, for instance, has ever done a day’s workwith his hands in his life. He is a man who has used his wits - I mean his intelligence - which all will agree is of a fairly high order. You can go through my honorable friends, and find that it is the same with all of them.
– rWe would not let the honorable member go through us.
– A man would have to be very wide awake to go through the honorable member. He is capable of showing so many sides when really pressed, that ! would be the last person to tackle him in an inimical spirit.
I cannot see that my honorable friends opposite have added one iota to the liberties of the Australian people ; but they have taken away one of their liberties. We inherited freedom of political conscience, and this they have taken away. The Attorney-General asked this afternoon if we would repeal the preference to unionist provisions. Personally, I am in favour of preference to unionists if given by the Arbitration Court ; but I am not in favour of compelling, as is done by the Act passed by the Labour’ Government two years ago, men who are compulsorily unionists at the peril of their livelihood, to subscribe to the Labour funds, and to vote Labour if told to do so. I am in favour of preference to industrial unionism, but preference can be given at too great a price if it involves the sacrifice of political liberty and individual conscience. The measure to which I refer is a disgrace to the statute-book in that respect. Formerly the law said that a union should get preference from the Court if it did not require its members to do anything of a political character, or to contribute to a political fund; but now men are compelled to join unions, contribute to the funds of a political party, and to subscribe to newspapers, like the Sydney Worker, which are run to advance the narrow, personal interests of honorable members opposite. I have said enough to show that we are not afraid to handle these industrial questions.
But the unionists are beginning to ask what they get out of unionism. They find that they have to pay a great deal of money, much of which is spent on what is really political organization. The industrious and prudent unionists are discovering that they have no sort of guarantee in regard to the expenditure of their funds for union purposes, and that honorable members opposite are, to a man, opposed to the granting of a free Government audit of union accounts, because they do not wish the unionists to know what they contribute to put them into Parliament. Honorable members opposite say that it is we who desire this information. Personally, all I desire is that it shall be given to those entitled to it. The reports of the Government auditors could be confidential to the members of the unions. Why should the supporters of the Labour party be denied the right of knowing what they pay for keeping honorable members opposite in their jobs? The workers are beginning to find that they are being exploited, and that the Labour movement depends on a name, a certain agility, and a considerable amount of tub-thumping - a section of the community being gullible enough to imagine that, because a candidate describes, himself as a Labour candidate, he is peculiarly identified with the interests of Labour. I must apologize for having spoken at such length.
– The honorable member should do so.
– The electors of East Sydney are so represented in Parliament, that, were I not to speak occasionally, my honorable friend would not be able to make a speech by interjection. I trust that he will give us the’ advantage of his eloquence later in a more connected effort.
I will now summarize the points which I have made. But let me content myself by saying that I have shown conclusively that there is a great deal to be inquired into seriously without any sort of party bias concerning the attitude of the Government towards the trusts. I want honorable members opposite not to burk that issue ; I want them to go into it without suspicion, simply to get at the facts. What is the reason for the Government practically crying “ peace “ to the trusts ? Is it, as the Attorney-General put it, that in their opinion the Anti- Trust Act passed by a Liberal Administration is “ not fair “ to these damaged and oppressed associations? Is it because it is unfair, and because the trusts consist of a lot of good fellows that my honorable friends, have suddenly become silent in regard to all trusts except one which a certain member of the Tobacco Combine desires shall be attacked at the present juncture ? I ask honorable members to look into the matter, and to see. that it is not shuffled out of public notice. I believe that the public of
Australia are anxious to know why the Government use the power of Royal Commissions to foster a bogus referenda propaganda and to make inquiries into one industry, while they will have no inquiry at all into any other. I want the Government, and particularly the Attorney-General, to try to give some reasonable explanation of the matters that I have placed before the House only this afternoon. I want them to tell us why, throughout the length and breadth of Australia, they shouted against the tobacco monopoly only a few years ago, while nowadays we cannot hear a whisper from them. Is it sacred ground? My honorable friends opposite ought to look into this matter. They ought to know where they are, and how they stand. We have had charges of personal interest hurled across the chamber, and my wish is that honorable members supporting the Government will go into all these matters. When they find their leaders becoming wildly excited at the mere whisper of an interrogation from this side of the House, and beating their breasts and saying, “ We are honest men,” I want them to endeavour to ascertain why they are not proceeding against these trusts. I have not made a charge against the honesty of any individual.
– Not directly, but by innuendo the honorable member does make charges.
– I have never by innuendo or otherwise suggested that there was not an explanation. I should like my honorable friends to find out for themselves what it is, and I am justified in asking them to do so.
– We are satisfied-
– That there is going to be no inquiry?
– That our party is honest.
– I believe that if honorable members -of the Labour party inquire into the Tobacco Combine they will find that their own statements of a few years ago were largely wild and extravagant. If they do not inquire into the working of the Tobacco Combine, however, “ the public of Australia will ask why they were so enthusiastic in their pursuit of that opulent octopus until four or five years ago, whereas to-day they cannot find it in their hearts to utter even an unkind whisper against that downtrodden and famished industrial enterprise.
– I have listened, as I always do, with great interest to the honorable member who has just resumed his seat; but, at the outset, I desire to refute some of the accusations that he has hurled at honorable members on this side of the House. For instance, I have never accused the Opposition of being wealthy men. What I have always said is that they are the servants of the wealthy, specially sent into this House to do the work which the wealthy will not come here and do for themselves. I have no objection to any wealthy man, whether he does or does not control a trust, seeking election to this House, and fighting on the floor of this chamber a loyal battle in a straightforward way against the people’s representatives. Whenever I meet any of these wealthy men in the electorates, I treat them with every courtesy, because I believe them to be justified in defending their rights. But what is the use of this party, if it is not going to approach the great interests which the wealthy have built round themselves during the years they have had control of the legislative halls of Australia. What fools the wealthy would be if they did not put down their money, as they are doing now, to the extent of thousands and tens of thousands of pounds, to defeat our party.
– Where are they doing that?
– What fools they would be to let us know. My honorable friend must think that members of the Labour party are mere infants. I can assure him that every one of us can read and write, and that nearly all the men who support us can also actually read and write. And what have we been reading during the last twenty or thirty years? Have we not been reading of the tricks of trusts in America which the Opposition party are now emulating in Australia? In America no disclosure is made of where the money to fight a campaign comes from, or where it is kept. But when campaigners are required to lie, to abuse, and to side-track the people’s interests, abundant money is forthcoming to pay them. I have every respect for the men who do that, because I like to meet them, so to speak, with blade on blade. I like to meet them with the banner of the people’s rights as against their money for corrupt purposes. That is the reason I have always more respect for them than for the servants - especially the poor men - whom they send here to fight the battle for the wealthy. The honorable member for Wentworth has not been obliged At any time to follow a useful occupation. He was born with a golden spoon in his mouth, won for him, perhaps, by his predecessors ; and I fail to understand why he should be so jealous of the reputation of honorable members on this side of the House because they have fought the battle of labour from the cradle upwards.
– I never suspected for a moment that the honorable member had done a day’s labour in his life.
– That interjection is on a par with the honorable member’s allegations and suspicions concerning our party. I never take him seriously, but
Tie is always most entertaining, and sometimes lets fall some accidental truths that :are extremely useful. In deference to him, let me say that I had some misgivings as to whether the Government were going absolutely on the right track, but that, having listened to the advice which he has given them this evening, I am now fully confident that they will never make another mistake. I am happy. I am confident. Confidence is absolutely restored, but let my honorable friend remember that the battle which is now approaching will be such as we .have never seen before in the Commonwealth. When I entered this House the Leader of the Opposition was leading a Government, and I sat on the cross-benches and supported him.
– A rather variegated support.
– Did I ever fail the honorable member in regard to Protection ?
– Thanks. That is the only point on which I could support the honorable member solidly. My opinion of him was that he was leading the Democratic side in regard to his “particular movement. Of course, his movement has a Democratic side, but it is not Democratic enough for me. To-day I find him side by side with the honorable member for Wentworth, who used to flog him hour after hour on the floor of this House with that rhetoric which he has been using this evening. I find a mixture of all these opposing elements brought together. I find, too, that they have thrown fiscalism overboard absolutely. Is not that a new situation ? Have we ever seen anything f that kind before?
– I think that your party ought to keep quiet on fiscalism.
– I am not prepared to keep quiet on fiscalism for one moment.
– This is a break away.
– We hear a’ solid Protectionist cheer on the Opposition side, especially from the honorable member for Wentworth. I am prepared at any time, even in the last session of a Parliament, to give additional Protection to a number of items that require it, and if the Government had chosen to bring before the House a proposal to add twenty or thirty or fifty items to the Tariff they would have had my solid support, but I would not support in the last session of a Parliament a wholesale reopening of the Tariff. I want that to be plain, and I make that statement as a Protectionist. This is not the time to reopen the Tariff. No one would laugh with more delight than would the members of the Opposition, who say that they are Protectionists -and I am not going to doubt their word if they adhere to it - if the Government were so foolish as to bring down in the last session a Tariff of nearly 500 items to be_ discussed. We all have vivid memories of the weary nights and all-night sittings which we spent on a Tariff of 411 items. To ask that a Tariff should be brought down in the last session, and that all other proposals should he swept on one side is positively absurd, especially when the members of the Opposition have opened the session with the most extravagant motion of censure which has ever been submitted to a Chamber by any man. The very extravagance of the motion kills it in my opinion. If the Leader of the Opposition could prove a tenth of his speech, and bring it to book against any Minister on this side, I should be one of the first to ask those who put the Minister on the Treasury bench to shift him.
– Wait until the debate is finished. You have only heard a fraction of it yet.
– I am pleased to hear the Leader of the Opposition describe his speech as a fraction. That was my opinion of it from the very beginning. He reminds me of the story of the boy and the cats. The boy said, “ Father, there were 500 cats on our house last night.” “ My boy,” said the father, “that is drawing it pretty strong.” “ Well,” said the hoy, “ there were fifty.” “Oh, my boy!” remarked the father. “ Well,” said the boy, “ there were our cat and another.” The Leader of the Opposition came down with a grandiloquent motion of censure about the awful extravagance of the Labour party, and their “ awful failure, and he wound up by giving us a mere fraction. We discover after he has finished speaking that there may be a. fraction of truth in what he has put before the House. The honorable member for Wentworth wanted to know why we were not jubilating, why we were not publishing figures about tlie elections. I want to know their position. Why do they not publish broadcast throughout Australia, in the great newspapers which back them, the results of the referenda campaign in Werriwa, where they had a majority of thousands, and on which they based a claim that they would defeat us at the next election ? At the recent election, we put up a new man, who was not used to political fighting, and he actually beat the Opposition candidate by several hundreds. Why do they not assiduously publish the result of the elections in Western Australia where a Labour Government has been put in power? Why do they not canvass the fact that in New South Wales a Labour Government has been put in power since the last Federal election? Why do they not state that despite the Brisbane strike, their own party came back to the House to face the same old Labour party, with only one member short, three Labour members having been lost in the redistribution of seats? Why do they not publish, too, the fact that in Tasmania the Labour party has reached within two of the Government party? I was surprised at the amount of attention given by the Leader of the Opposition to the Brisbane strike ; in fact, the burden of his tale from beginning to end was “ Brisbane strike.” I was informed throughout Queensland, when I was engaged on certain work, as I came south, that the Prime Minister had indorsed the principle of the universal strike, and upheld it. The day on which the Prime Minister indorses the principle of the universal strike, and upholds it, I shall withdraw my allegiance to him, or any other Labour Minister, or the Labour party.
– Do you mean a general Strike ?
– A universal strike means the bringing out of the workers in all the industries in a general strike in order to get their rights.
– Was not that done in Brisbane ?
– The Prime Minister has made his position clear, and I was delighted to hear his statements. He made the fact clear, as I believed he would do, that he does not indorse the universal strike as an industrial weapon. I have fought for twenty years for arbitration and peace. I am not prepared to stand with my party if they raise the flag of the universal strike in preference to the legislative remedy. If by a union of the wealthy, the monopolists, the sweaters, and the anti-Christians - if by lies, calumny, and bribery - the Opposition could wipe out all the Labour parties in the Commonwealth, including the Federal Labour party, I would be prepared to turn round and consider the universal strike as a method to be adopted, because then I should say, “ Our political warfare has absolutely, failed. We cannot fight wealth on that side by these means.” But until a fair trial is given, not only to the Federal Labour party, but to every State Labour party in the Commonwealth - and they will be in power directly - I am not prepared to abandon the political method, and adopt the universal strike as a method. Every man throughout the Commonwealth who is fighting the Labour parties in Parliament is, by his very action, advocating a universal strike. I have accused some of the farmers and settlers of altering their names to farmers and Socialists. There is within the Labour movement a small coterie organized as “ the red-raggers, “ but they call themselves the Socialist party, and oppose the Labour party. They advocate the universal strike. T have told the farmers and settlers that they are farmers and Socialists, because if they put out all the Labour Governments, they will take away the one safety valve which prevents the workers from going out in a universal strike. While the workers of Australia believe that through Labour Governments they will be able to get justice, they will, by an overwhelming majority, in my opinion, stand to that method. But if ever the day should come when they feel that they cannot get justice through Labour Governments, and cannot fight the forces in political warfare, they will have to resort to a universal strike. They have been on the verge of it in Great Britain, and so close to it, in fact, that the Imperial Government now display the greatest anxiety to bring about one man one vote, which will be only the forerunner of one adult one vote in that country. This is an extremely serious matter for me and for other honorable members on this side. We would not like to see a miniature French Revolution in Australia. We recognise that in this country there are public schools established in every direction, and many excellent private schools as well. The public are becoming educated, and, whether they be farmers, miners, wage-earners, civil servants, or legitimate businessmen, the people we appeal to and desire to represent, are waking up to the fact that they have rights, and are determined to get justice. They will get it by political means if they can, but if it is denied them by the influence of the powers of wealth, as it is in America, then red revolution stares them in the face as the only remedy. I think that the representatives of the people in this chamber should make themselves clear on this point. So long as we fight straightforwardly in a definite direction, so long will men outside refuse to be led away by persons who are less responsible than we are ourselves.
Last evening the honorable member for Parramatta thought fit to hurl a personal insult at myself. He said that I had asked the Government to give me the appointment of Administrator of the Northern Territory, and that when I was refused that position I asked them for a minor position, such as that of Administrator of Lands in the Territory. That is the sort of political tactics in which the honorable member indulges. I may say in passing that he was recently assisting the squatters in my electorate to get ready to down me in the coming campaign. He addressed a meeting in the town of Tamworth, which boasts the possession of two newspapers, a copy of one of which I have in my hand. No doubt, the honorable gentleman thought that after he had spoken there “ Foster’s cake was dough,” to put it in the vernacular. I should like to read for his information the opinions expressed on the day following his departure from Tamworth, in a newspaper which is not a Labour journal. I quote from the Tamworth Times of 18th June. This is supposed to have been heard “ through the telephone “ -
Mr. Cook’ condemns the Arbitration Act, the Commonwealth Bank, and other Federal Acts of the Labour Government. Would the Liberal Government be game to repeal them?
Mr. Cook made purity of administration a great point, and condemned the “ spoils to the victors” policy, which he alleges that the Labour party have adopted.
Just fancy ! Mr. Cook was put into Parliament by the miners and other working men the first time the Labour party was elected in New South Wales. He was a staunch Labourite, and because he was a good living man and a good speaker he was elected to the leadership of the party. George Reid, then Premier, offered Mr. Cook the position of PostmasterGeneral in the Reid Government, salary, about ^1,500, and he succumbed. Since then he has been amongst the fat men, has occupied various positions of emolument, and from being the first chief deserter from Labour’s ranks, he has developed into one of its fiercest opponents, his prayer for their utter extinction at last Fridaynight’s meeting being sufficient proof of the poison that is under his lips. “ They will not go out of office voluntarily at the present time,” he said, “ but early next year there is to be an election, and I hope that they will for ever depart as far as the Government of Australia is concerned.” Just one question - Apart from “ purity of administration “ forsooth, what’s his policy?
The honorable member for Parramatta alleged last night that this Government had appointed gentlemen to positions - naming Mr. Ryland - for which they had not the necessary experience. In Heaven’s name, what experience had the honorable gentleman to fit him to become PostmasterGeneral of New South Wales ? What necessary experience had he to become a member of the Federal Cabinet and Minister of Defence? I have seen honorable members in this House, during my short career here of five years and a half, take office without any previous experience whatever, and acquit themselves most creditably. The honorable member for Parramatta quite forgets his own career when he makes such attacks upon others.
– But he was a great failure as a Postmaster-General.
– I am not prepared to say that. I do not propose to deal with the honorable gentleman as Postmaster-General of New South Wales. What I am dealing with is his brazen-faced audacity in preaching to other honorable members when he has himself not only deserted the party that gave him political birth, but without any hesitation walked into a great Department as Postmaster-General of New South Wales. I should not like to trace the honorable gentleman’s history behind that to discover what his previous experience was, but I can assure him that when he states that I offered* to take a subordinate position in the Northern Territory, he is simply repeating a deliberate untruth, wherever he heard it.
– Order ! The honorable member should withdraw that remark.
– I will say that the statement is absolutely incorrect, to put it into parliamentary language. As I have been put upon my mettle, I do not mind taking the House into my confidence in regard to what really did transpire, and to state the reason why I had the audacity even to think of going to the Northern Territory. I happen to be the son of a miner. I was born on the Turon goldfields. Before I was fourteen years of age I could prospect for gold. I enjoyed going down the mine to see shots fired. I enjoyed assisting my father on the Saturdays. He was not a wage-earning miner, but mined his own claim, working it himself, and sometimes with the assistance of others. This experience naturally gave me an insight into the work of a miner, even as a boy. My parents thought that I would be more usefully employed if I entered the Education Department. I went into that Department at fourteen years of age, and remained in it until I was twenty years of age, and I am proud to say that I was able to pass a progressive examination every year during that period. At the age of sixteen I discovered from reading certain American works that there was a labour problem. I do not mind telling the House what they were, because it will do all who hear or read my remarks good to study those works for themselves. They were really wonderful works for their day, and aroused my admiration as a boy of sixteen. One was Looking Backward, by Edward Bellamy, and the other was Casar’s Column. Looking Backward showed what ought to be our condition if we were really Christians and brothers one to another. Casar’s Column showed what might happen in America in the age of air-ships if something were not done to stem the tide of poverty, misery, and corruption. These books might, perhaps, be read with better effect to-day, as they more accurately describe the position of affairs in America at the present time. I may say that about the time to which I refer I paid a visit to Brisbane, where I heard of Henry George, who had recently visited Australia, and had stirred up the dry bones on the question of land taxation from end to end of this Commonwealth. He performed important educational work in that direction, and left behind him disciples who are to-day ardent single-taxers. I am not a single-taxer myself, but I am a believer in land taxation. That experience gave me a new fillip. and by the time I reached twenty years of age I decided to abandon the Education Department, in order to gain more experience, with a view to entering political life. Now the cat is out of the. bag, arid honorable members know why I am here.
– The cat was out of the bag then.
– I do not suppose that the honorable member for Ballarat, when he was twenty years of age, would have cared to do what I did.
– I was teaching at that time.
– I am proud that I acted as I did, because for fifteen years prior to entering this Parliament I was gaining experience in at least three States. For two years I was engaged in Queensland under a tropical sun. I covered a thousand miles in Western Australia during the early days of the gold rush, and I saw hundreds of men done to death by disease which could have been prevented had the Government of the day adopted humane remedial measures - had they established a decent medical department on the gold-fields of a character similar to that which I urge should be established in the Northern Territory. In New Zealand I was able to personally witness the results of the legislation which was enacted at the instance of the late Mr. Seddon, to hear the opinions which were expressed upon it, and to understand the whole position. In those fifteen years I earned my living as a miner, as a farmer, as a pressman, and as a storekeeper, and I was also connected with the co-operative movement. I would be willing to put my experience side by side with that of the honorable member for Parramatta if I occupied the position of Postmaster-General, or even that of Administrator of the Northern Territory. When I heard- that the Government had failed to obtain the services of a suitable man for the Territory, and when month succeeded month without anything being done, I made an offer to the Minister of External Affairs. I stated that if no other member of the Labour party would take up the cudgels I was prepared to go there in the capacity of Administrator.
– As Administrator?
– Yes; and I would not sacrifice my position as a representative of the people in this House for any subordinate appointment. There is absolutely no comparison between the position of an honorable member of this Parliament and that of Mr. Ryland with a salary of £800 a year. The man who goes to the Territory has a big proposition to face, and if I had not had experience of the agricultural, mining, and pastoral industries I would not have made the offer which I did. When I made it I was prompted to do so by the recollection that the development of the Northern Territory is completely in the hands .of the Labour Government. There is no Upper House and no State Governments to obstruct their work, and consequently they have a chance to put the best ideas of labour into operation absolutely untrammelled. That opinion I still hold, and I say that either a Minister or a member of the Labour party should have been appointed as Administrator of the Territory. He would then have been able to undertake the development of the mining, agricultural, and pastoral industries, to deal with the coloured labour problem on the spot, and to draft a code of regulations and ordinances in conformity with labour ideals.
– He would, have been able to set up the true Socialistic State?
– The honorable member knows that I belong to the Labour party, and not the Socialist party. His interjection reminds me of a statement which Tie made on a former occasion, to the effect that I had advocated the payment of lj per cent, by way of interest on capital.
– Afterwards the honorable member said that he meant 1½ per cent, every six months.
– I said that the 1½ per cent, represented payment on capital, and if the honorable member will visit the Parliamentary Library, and take the trouble to read up the New Zealand Loan Act he will find that the Government of the Dominion allowed settlers to pay 1½ per cent, off their loans every six months, thus making 3 per cent, annually.
– I have another speech of the honorable member which I shall read by-and-by.
– If it is as reliable as the one which the honorable member professed to quote on a previous occasion it will not be worth very much.I wish to add that during my stay in the Northern Territory I had the pleasure of meeting the gentleman who has been appointed to the position of Administrator, of travelling with him for many days, and of hearing the opinions which he held. I am glad to say that in him we have a man of very high integrity and undoubted ability, and one who I hope will accomplish much good work for the Commonwealth, no matter what Government may be in power. But I still adhere to the idea’ which I have already expressed in regard to that appointment. If there are two applicants of equal ability for any position, and one is a sympathizer with Labour Administration, I hold the view that this Government is quite justified in giving that one the preference. The party opposite have never considered, any man in the Labour ranks in any Government appointment. I wish now to refer briefly to the appointment of Mr. Miller as Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. It has been said in this House that the Government could not get a man of first class standing in Australian banking circles to accept the position. To prove that this is a calumny, I wish to quote a few remarks from a financial publication which is practically a banking journal. Here is what it said of Mr. Miller when he was about to proceed on a tour for the benefit of his health -
Mr. Miller entered the service of the Bank of New South Wales, at the Deniliquin branch, in August, 1876. In 1882, Mr. Miller was, at his own request, moved to the head office, where he gained experience in every department of banking. Before the crisis of 1893, tie had risen to the position of assistant accountant, and, under his superior officers, had charge of the “lightning issue” of special notes under the famous Act of Sir George Dibbs.
That was the time when the Government of New South Wales had to guarantee the notes issue of the private banks of that State in order to keep them sound. The journal continues -
On the retirement, in 1S95, of Mr. Nasmith who had been accountant at head office for over twenty years, Mr. Miller, at the age of 35, was appointed to the position. While holding this office he had some experience on the inspecting staff, carrying out special inspection duties in Victoria and South Australia. For a time also he took charge of the Western Australian business, during Mr. Salmon’s absence from that State. In M00, Mr. Miller was promoted to the important position of assistant to the general manager, the business of the bank having grown so rapidly under the command of Mr. Russell French, that it was absolutely necessary that the chief executive officer should be relieved from all that could be safely trusted to other hands. In due course Mr. Miller’s official designation was altered to that of “ general manager’s inspector,” and later to that of “ metropolitan inspector,” but, notwithstanding the added duties, he has all the time been Mr. French’s trusted “ right hand,” a position for which his loyalty.and thoroughness eminently fit him. Kind, courteous, “ alive,” and loyal, with a thorough grasp of the affairs of the great institution in whose service he has so praiseworthily risen, Mr. Miller holds a high place in the esteem of the banking fraternity. Under a “ chief “ still in the prime of life, and aided by the kindly counsel of officers grown grey in .honorable service, he has been fortunate in so early reaping the reward of his painstaking exertions. One of the founders of the Institute of Bankers of New South Wales, and its honorary treasurer from the beginning, Mr. Miller has taken a deep interest in the affairs of the institute. He is a justice of the peace, and in recognition of his valuable services in connexion with the Hospital Saturday movement he was many years ago appointed a life governor of the Sydney Hospital and the Children’s Hospital. Mr. Miller is married, has six sons and two daughters.
Those last words, at any rate, are a good recommendation. I should not have gone to all this trouble in speaking of Mr. Miller, whose character is undoubted, had I not liked fair play. We all know that one great factor behind any financial proposal is the confidence of the public; and the appointment of a gentleman like Mr. Miller, with full control of the banking business of the Commonwealth, will establish the necessary confidence; and I am pleased to be able to compliment and congratulate the Prime Minister on securing the services of this gentleman.
In regard to the Northern Territory, I have some slight grievance against the Government, who, in my opinion, are not making sufficient haste with the development of that portion of Australia. Up to now the procedure of the Government has been such as I cannot indorse to the full. Not one word has fallen from the lips of the Opposition in regard to the development of the Territory. Why? The Opposition are praying to Heaven that the -‘Labour Ministry will neglect this great national asset, so that we may be flogged for the omission at the elections. There is no doubt that the Opposition would like to see us neglect the Territory, so that they might be able to point to the fact that, in the face of Chinese and black labour, nothing has been done; and that, further, no aid has been given to mining there. As a friend and supporter of the Government - as more a supporter and fighter for the Labour movement than even
Ministers in the Cabinet - I say that the Government are making the mistake of their lives in neglecting the development of the Northern Territory. The position in regard to China alone ought to make us alert, and fill us with the desire to populate the Territory with white people. Since this Parliament last met, there has been a great revolution in China, where a republic has been proclaimed in place of the monarchy. This came as a sort of thunderclap to me, although I had been carefully watching and studying events in the East in regard to China, Japan, and India, for many years, owing to my great interest in the coloured labour question. The Northern Territory is practically at the door of China, and yet half the population, putting blacks aside, are Chinamen. We find Chinamen carrying on half the business of the Possession. It is true that the blacks are denied the right to come into Chinatown at night, or at certain hours ; but “the Chinese, who trade with them, can easily go into the bush.
As a practical miner, I say that the mining industry in the Northern Territory has been simply ruined by the employment of Chinese labour, and by the letting of mines out on tribute to Chinamen. This letting of mines by tribute is a sort of technical matter; and I may explain that it means that, when a man pegs out 50 or 100 acres, he may let the claim to miners on payment of a tribute of 10 per cent., 20 per cent., or, it may be, 25 per cent. This is a very old idea, which has been carried out in Great Britain right away back in history in the form of mining royalties. The mines in the Northern Territory have been handed over to the Chinese, who, however, have only gone down a few feet ; in no case has a shaft been sunk into the bowels of the earth more than 300 feet. People who know the shafts of 3,000 01” 5,000 feet in New South Wales, Victoria, and other mining centres may well ask what sort of a test such mining has been of the possibilities of the Northern Territory. There has been boring to nearly 2,000 feet; but if there is one proposition more laughable than another put forward by the Government, it is to bore on gold reefs. Every old miner knows that gold usually occurs in shoots. A reef may be as long as this chamber, while a shoot may be 10 or 20 feet long and yet very rich. I never quite realized this fact until I stood at the mouth of the geysers at Rotorua, in New Zealand, and watched Mother Nature doing her work there, and actually spouting out liquid quartz. To show that it was quartz or silica, the Government guide placed a bag of sand at the mouth of one of the geysers, and in a very short time the bag was inside a transparent lump of quartz, through which we could see it. The great fissures in which gold is found may have been formed in identically the same way. A fissure nearly 50 feet long may have been under similar thermal action for hundreds or thousands of years, depositing gold brought up in solution. And yet we are told that the mining possibilities of the Northern Territory have been tested in some cases by putting down bores; but a gold-miner knows that a man may be within a foot of an enormous discovery and yet miss it. A man may be actually within a pick-point’s length of a fortune after mining for months or years ; and yet the reward be reaped by his successor, who, with an explosive or with his pick, strikes the gold. We can imagine in the Northern Territory a drill of a few inches in diameter passing down into the bowels of the earth. All the good such bores could possibly do would be to find out if the lode were there ; and the boring in the Northern Territory up to date has absolutely proved that the veins go down to a deeper level than would be reached by a 300 feet shaft. I say that these Chinese tributers have simply worked out the payable ore, and have then abandoned the mines, because they would not do any “ dead “ work. Any man who has had mining experience understands that. I may mention that I have had experience not only of gold-mining, but also of wolfram, tin, molybdenite, copper, and silver lead mining. I can say that it is a customary thing to have the whole shoot cut out and disappear. On one field in Queensland, the Wolfram Camp, it was a saying - -at a time when I was engaged in writing reports on Chillagoe, Hodgkinson, and that great district, which used to appear in the Melbourne and Queensland press - that so long as there is a vein of silica as thick as a knife blade, it is a safe thing to put in a little more labour, to use a little more ammunition, to do some “ dead “ work, and you may discover another big deposit right in the same shaft. It is understandable by any practical miner that if in a fissure lode the mineral came from below, it may have been blocked by an infall of rocks, &c, and that if the men keep on sinking, they will probably find the gold. In making this statement, I challenge any practical miner “to contradict me when I say that gold-mining in the Northern Territory has never even had a decent test.
– Can the honorable member tell us ‘ what mining is being done there now ?
– There is a report by the Acting Administrator up to the end of the year 191 1, .and I may as well make a few extracts from it. On page 5, the Acting Administrator says -
Mining shows signs of re-awakening interest. The wide area of mineral country here demands attention, and sooner or later the mining people will be wondering why the industry has been so neglected and cold-shouldered by them. Truly, the past mismanagement of some of the large concerns has afforded a very bitter pill to investors. The remedy for such enormous losses is to be found in pursuing a policy of mining, rather than in expending the bulk of the capital in machinery which developments do not for die time justify. It is worth noting, that with all the primitiveness of methods employed, the handful of miners have won minerals, according to the returns filed from 1904 to end of 1911, to the value of approximate!)’ ,£1.500,000.
If any one . can show me a place where, by sinking not more than 300 feet, £1,500,000 worth of gold can be got in seven years, I shall be glad to have a look at it with a view to prospecting.
There can be no doubt that a much greater value was won than the returns record.
When honorable members recollect that the Chinese, ever since the days of the Turon, have had a habit of pocketing their gold, and smuggling it away to China, they can imagine how much has been obtained in this district.
– What is the reason why the companies have abandoned their workings in the Northern Territory?
– Many reasons can be given, but I can give one which will be self-evident. English companies have usually sent out “ tender-feet “ to manage these mines. Men of that kind are not adapted to the work. When I left the Education Department, and went into the wilds of Western Australia, I got the shock of my life. I was like a young man who went not very long ago to try to get on the land in the Northern Territory. He stayed about four days, and then rushed home, and condemned the Territory. I felt like rushing back from Western Australia when I got there; but I stuck to my guns, and got a lesson which has stood me in good stead. After I had lived a couple of years in tropical Queensland, I quite understood, why it was that Queenslanders from the north were such a success in
Western Australia. When I went to the Northern Territory, I was quite prepared to find a horrible condition of affairs. But what I actually found was quite different from what I expected. I found the town of Darwin situated well above sea-level - perhaps a couple of hundred feet or more - in a very agreeable situation. I found a splendid stone-built hotel, which cost some thousands of pounds. I found a railway running to the mining centre, and civilized conditions prevailing generally. I had been led to expect trouble from the mosquitoes, but, as a matter of fact, I travelled 200 miles inland, and never, except on one occasion, had to compulsorily drop a mosquito net over me.
– In what month was that?
– It was in the month of May certainly, but my inquiries also showed me that what one is led to believe about the Territory is certainly not true, namely, that if one escapes the mosquitoes the white ants are ready to devour him. I also found that three generations of white people were to be met with there, and those that I saw were thoroughly healthy-looking people. As you travel from Darwin into the bush, the further you go the more healthful the country is. I met there Captain Barclay, who was returning from a long journey inland, and I found him in splendid health, and with nothing but praise for the climate. The tropical belt in which mining operations have been carried on is the most disagreeable part of the whole Territory. But let not honorable members forget that the Northern Territory is 500,000 square miles in extent. It is nearly twice as big as New South Wales. It is, in fact, an enormous Territory, possessing nearly all the climates that are to be found in Queensland, and, as many honorable members know, there are places in that State where the frosts are pretty sharp at some periods of the year. What has happened in regard to the “tenderfoot” mining managers who have been sent there ? The first thing they did was to build residences for themselves to make themselves comfortable. I do not blame them for that. Their next idea was to put up an abundance of machinery, and, if possible, to bring about plenty of delay in putting it up. Exemption after exemption was obtained for the leases, showing that they were not in any hurry to do any real mining. I may mention that the Government owns a mine there upon which there is over , £30,000 worth of machinery and plant now lying on the ground. I hope that the Government will not part with that machinery, because with the new development in mining which is about to take place in the Territory it will be bound to fetch a high price, even if the Government has not the backbone to enter into the development of the mine itself.
– Where is it situated?
– It is within a stone’s throw of the railway line at Brock’s Creek. When one goes there one feels in the heart of civilization ; it is such a good place. I met there a lady who is assisting her husband to do cyaniding work - that is treating tailings. She had ridden some miles in on her bicycle, and came up smiling. She was able to tell us a good deal about her life there, and assured us that it was quite healthy, and that the female section of the community kept in excellent health so long as they moved about and did not loaf too much. In fact, I saw enough to convince me that the Commonwealth has a splendid asset in the Territory. Any man who went directly from Melbourne in the winter time to the Northern Territory would think it a very hot place; but for a person who had spent a summer in Queensland or Western Australia the Northern Territory would have no terrors. During the wet season the weather is disagreeable, but the wet season lasts only from November to about March. Cattle rearing has proved such a success in the Territory that no one will discuss it merely as a possibility. One station runs 100,000 head, and is in a position to ask the Government to erect freezing works. There are scores of big cattle holdings, though I have not time to go into figures on the present occasion. As for sheep rearing, that must wait until the Barklay tableland has been developed. Within 300 miles of Port Darwin the grass is not suitable for sheep ; and in the wet season they would perish in large numbers from foot-rot and other diseases. Any Government wishing to advance the interests of the Territory should do all it can to increase the number of cattle breeders, and should provide vessels for the conveyance of products to markets. Freezing works are necessary. At present beasts that would fetch £9 at Adelaide are worth, in the Territory, only £2 or £3, and the impossibility of getting produce of any kind to a market absolutely retards progress. As to the agricultural value of the land in the Territory, Mr. Campbell, the ex-Director of Agriculture of New South Wales, is a man who knows what he is talking about in regard to soils and practical agriculture. In his report on the Territory, dated 6th August, 191 1, he says - 1 find that very little, if any, encouragement has been given by the South Australian Government for the promotion of agricultural settlement; indeed, it would almost seem as if this has been discouraged by prohibitory railway charges, the avoidance of experimental work, and the lack of interest generally taken in agricultural matters in the Northern Territory.
On the Victoria, Daly, and MacArthur Rivers there are three enormous tracts of country possessing millions of acres of good land, and after them comes the Port Darwin district, in regard to which Mr. Campbell recommends the setting apart of 2,560 acres for an experimental farm. He says that the area chosen - includes a variety of soil and aspects fairly typical of an extensive area of country within which mixed farming and stock raising should prove profitable to settlers, provided the work be carried out on proper principles, and that a market be established and products can be exported. In the year 1890, a tobacco plantation upon Crown lands within the area recommended for an experimental farm, with every prospect of success; a large sum of money was expended ; about 70 cleared and stumped ; an extensive tobaccocuring shed erected ; and various necessary buildings erected. A few tons of tobacco were cured, and a sample forwarded to the tobacco market in Dresden is said to have realized 10s. 90. per lb.
I am afraid .that while the Tobacco Trust continues to operate in this country, there will not be much hope for the tobacco industry, which ought to become one of the most important in the Northern Territory. Coming to the Katherine River district, Mr. Campbell recommends the setting aside of 2,560 acres on the southern banks of the Katherine River for agricultural settlement, and says -
This will embrace land which is fairly typical of thousands and thousands of acres in the district.
He makes a similar recommendation in regard to the Daly River district, where the land chosen is said to be fairly typical of extensive areas near the several tributaries of that river.
The geological formation hereabouts is chiefly limestone, and the soil is free or “ sandy “ chocolate loam immediately along the river banks for a distance of about 200 yards or so, merging into heavier and darker-coloured soil. Here and there throughout the district are limestone and quartzite outcrops - not to any great extent.
The land south of the Katherine River is supposed to be very good, but I have not any report on it. With regard to the Daly River country Mr. Campbell says -
In addition to the above sites for experimental farms I think that an area of 2,560 acres should also be set apart in this district, in view of the fact that a vast area of country there, differing altogether from the country in the neighbourhood of the other selected sites, extends for miles about both banks towards its mouth ; I therefore recommend that a site be set apart fronting the Daly River on its eastern bank.
The land extending back from the river bank for about a quarter of a mile to half-a-mile is open forest, the soil being of a chocolate loam of excellent character ; beyond this lies an open plain of low-lying heavy soil, under water during the wet season, but not difficult, I think, to vastly improve bv drainage.
Some of those who visited the Territory are very much afraid of the inundation which occurs in the wet season, forgetting that a country called Egypt, which has practically no rainfall, has depended for thousands of years 011 the inundation of the banks of the Nile for the renewal of its soil and the prosperity of its agriculture. In the Northern Territory I saw snap-shots of Teosinte, a plant similar to corn, which grows 15 feet high, and any farmer can provide himself with enough ensilage to feed his stock during a dry season. There is an immense growth of all kinds of grass. I travelled over 200 miles of country, and classified about ten kinds of grass, five of which are most succulent, and suitable for stock. I ask honorable members to consider for a moment how many head of stock could be run on the unimproved bush country of New South Wales, Queensland, or any other State - before the timber on it had been rung, before the land had been cleared, fenced, and closely stocked. If they do they will gain some idea of the position of the grazing industry in the Northern Territory. There grazing operations are carried on in the wild bush. No attempt has been made to fence in areas, with the exception of a few small paddocks in which graziers keep the horses necessary for rounding up their stock. Grazing there is neither more nor less than ranching in the open country. In my own electorate we have land which, before it was cleared and closely stocked, would not carry a sheep to 8 acres, but which to-day will carry a sheep to the acre. Those who understand grazing know very well that land is greatly improved by close stocking, and that after it has been cleared of rubbish, its carrying capacity rapidly increases.
Much has been said of the coarse grasses of the Northern Territory, but I challenge any one familiar with the subject to deny that if grass on a holding in Victoria or New South Wales is allowed to become coarse stock will pass it by and nibble the short shoots. They prefer to eat the short shoots, and to remain in a half-starved condition, rather than eat the coarse grass. The grasses in the Northern Territory, according to the experts, and to the evidence of at least fifty people whom .1 questioned on the subject while in the Territory, are most succulent, but until the country is fenced, and closely stocked, and until the bush fires are done away with, it will not have a chance. I have heard honorable members speak slightingly of the timber of the Territory. It is certainly not of the best, for the sufficient reason that for ages the blacks have been firing the long grass as soon as it gets dry, in order to drive out the vermin and game that they wish to spear. White men there think nothing of casting a match into the grass and burning it off because it is too coarse for the stock to eat, and because they know also that as the result of the burning off new shoots of most succulent grass, on which stock will fatten rapidly, will quickly spring up.
– How would the honorable member keep this grass very short.
– By close stocking.
– What is the stock going to do during the six months of dry weather every year?
– While the honorable member was temporarily absent from the chamber I referred to that point, and urged that ensilage could be used during the dry season. The. honorable member knows something of grazing, and I have been pointing out that grazing in the Northern Territory is being carried on upon land that is absolutely unimproved. Mr. Campbell went on to say in his report that-
The grasses which grow with extraordinary luxuriousness about this district are well represented within the area in question.
The reference is to the Daly River district -
All sorts of stock, with the exception, perhaps, of sheep, can be tested here, and, if it be considered desirable to domesticate the buffalo, perhaps a more suitable locality for this work would be difficult to find.
He went on to say -
The land for some miles around Darwin - and I want the honorable member for North Sydney to take special notice of this statement - consists, for the most part, of gravelly ironstone soil, apparently of an inferior character, but really capable of responding to good cultivation, except about the very stony portions; so much so that the inhabitants of the towe might, without much difficulty, supply themselves with many vegetable requirements. Sandy flats and pockets occur near the sea shore, where the soil is a good sandy loam, which is made use of by Chinese for vegetable and fruit production. A few miles beyond the town limits the land improves to some extent, and although “ patchy “ - fairly good, inferior, and poor - might very well be made better use of than is the case at present. The country is, generally speaking, slightly undulating, with here and there depressions, lagoons, swampy places, and water-courses, with ironstone conglomerate outcrops and gravelly ridges. The best portions of this land were alienated from the Crown many years ago.
I wish to emphasize the scandal of the closed areas of Darwin, where the land has been alienated to a tremendous extent. Many of the owners are absentees. Even Lord Rosebery is reported to be interested in some of these blocks. The allotments that have been so alienated have not even been fenced in. Any man who goes to Port Darwin and desires to build a house in the township finds himself faced with the fact that hundreds of allotments there are held by private individuals, who demand exorbitant prices for them, just as if they were situated in a State like Victoria or New South Wales. That is one of the problems confronting the Minister of External Affairs. We find that in the Northern Territory private enterprise has absolutely failed. A few individuals have been allowed to secure the private ownership of land and to lock out the people who wish to .use it. In the Northern Territory, we have the finest example of “ how not to do it “ in the matter of freeholds. Some hundreds of thousands of acres along the railway line have been alienated, but not a fence has been erected, not a water-hole excavated, not a tree planted. If these areas were useless, would men be prepared to put their money into them ? Would they hold them for speculative purposes? One of the curses of freehold in land is that the man who goes ahead can demand a heavy toll of those who follow. He can hold up thousands of acres, put obstacles in the way of settlement, and prevent the development of the country. That is what has actually occurred in the Northern Territory under the Conservative Governments that have in the past administered it.
– What is the extent of land held under freehold there?
– Some hundreds of thousands of acres.
– Four hundred thousand acres out of a total of 335,000,000 acres.
– As a representative of South Australia, the honorable member resents any attack on the administration of that State; and, whilst I have to thank the South Australian Administration for holding on to the Territory until the Commonwealth was prepared to take it over, I must say that I have never seen a more disgraceful failure of private enterprise than is evidenced in the Northern Territory. No attempt has been made to help the pastoral industry. There has been rather an effort to secure the best of the land there to big lease-holders for a term of forty years. That is what has been done to develop the Territory.
– What is the rental of these leased lands?
-A mere peppercorn rental. So far as some people are concerned, it does not matter what rental is paid, as long as private enterprise is able to “ collar “ millions of acres. What did Conservative Governments do in our own States? How many acres are held by the squatters of New South Wales? Two of my strongest opponents in the electorate of New England - Mr. Dangar and Mr. Frank White - between them hold hundreds of thousands of acres away from the bond fide settlers- who would like to go on the land of New England. The principle has been applied to the Northern Territory to a high degree. I am glad that they did. not sell more of the land ; but I regret, indeed, that leases have been granted in such large areas. This has kept the whole place back. One reason why the mining industry has been retarded is that interested persons have been waiting for the day when they could get full sanction to turn the Territory into a blacklabour country. They have been hanging on under that delusion. Then you would have seen a development of the Territory, because there is nothing to stop it. There are the land, the minerals, and the markets - because this country is nearer than we are to the great European and great Asiatic markets. When the honorable member for Corio returned, he said, “ I have changed my mind about the Northern Territory being the back door to the Commonwealth; it is the front door.” It is the door open to the East and the North. This is a serious situation. Here is another way in which the administrators who believed in private enterprise have strangled this country. They went in for a good old scheme of centralization at Darwin. Even the itinerary which was mapped out for the members of this Parliament recently was such that we were to see only Darwin and the back of it. They did not want us to see too much of the Daly River.
– Why not?
– The Daly River may become a severe competitor with Darwin.
– Because the local shipping trad? would be diverted. They did not want us to know too much about the McArthur River, which has great possibilities, as it is within easy distance of Camooweal and other centres in Queensland. On the McArthur River a place can be reached within 80 miles of the Barklay tableland. A short line of railway would tap that great tableland where the sheep industry is established. The people at Darwin do not want to develop these districts.
– Because they would be rivals to Darwin. The people of Darwin dominate the whole show.
– But is not the Government administering the Northern Territory ?
– The duty of the Government is to take up the work of decentralization ; to put a big settlement on the Victoria River country; to place a settlement on the McArthur River country; to open up the Barklay tableland; to put a settlement on the Daly River country ; and not to spend too much of the money in Darwin, which has the poorest land of all. No doubt it is a fine port, and a splendid entrance to the Territory. I grant it all that ; but to waste tens of thousands of pounds there, at the expense of other great centres, which ought to be opened up and developed, would be a scandal and a shame. I blush with shame when I look at Sydney and Melbourne, great octopi as they are, in a sense, sucking everything from different centres. Along the coast of New South Wales there is room for half-a-dozen excellent ports ; and yet the Administrations in the past would never grant, railways to those ports to open them up; they would never touch them. I am glad to see that Queensland has a very much better system.
– What sort of settlement do you suggest, agricultural or pastoral?
– I suggest that the mining and pastoral industries should be first encouraged, and that the Government should go warily in regard to agriculture. They might very well establish a settlement on the Daly” River to produce all the vegetable and fruit requirements for Pine Creek, the gold-fields, and Port Darwin. The disgrace of the position up there is that they have to import their fruit, and a lot of vegetables, because people will not grow them. An odd Chinaman is engaged at this work, but the Chinese do so much better as traders and tributers in mines that it is not likely that they will bother about producing fruit and vegetables. In regard to the miner, I have not very much more to say at present, but I would like to quote a little more from Mr. Campbell’s report.
The Northern Territory possesses the great advantage of well denned seasons, which is not the case in the southern States of Australia, and this is an advantage neither understood nor appreciated. The certainty that rain will fall within a well defined period, in abundance, to be succeeded most surely by a well denned dry period, enables the settler to make arrangements accordingly. All the heaviest of farm work can be performed during the mild season, and the lighter during the summer.
A country which is tremendously boomed to-day is Canada, where for half the year a farm is under snow and ice. In the Northern Territory, the country is under rain, and the graziers assure me that there is an abundance of green feed during the whole of the rainy season.. Compare the Northern Territory with Canada if you like, where the land is hidden under frost and snow, where the conditions are so bad that the settler has to leave his farm, and go elsewhere while the snow and the frost cover the land, and come back later, and pop in a wheat crop in the few months of the year which are at his service. All that I ask for the Northern Territory is fair play. I do not want to boom it. I only say that it has never had a possible chance in regard: to its agriculture, or anything else. The honorable member for Darling Downs made an interjection about the land on the Pine Creek railway. On this subject, Mr. Campbell says -
Along the railway line from Darwin to Pine Creek, extending from the vicinity of the Dar win River to the terminus and beyond, lies a great “ mineral belt.” This spreads out for some miles on each side of the railway.
This country is hilly or mountainous, the hills rising to a height of from 300 to 500 feet apparently, above the general level of the surrounding land.
Throughout this mineral belt, between the hills lie flats more or less extensive and, as a rule, well watered by creeks, lagoons, or billabongs, and water-courses ; or, water can be obtained by sinking some few feet below the surface. The soil is generally fertile and productive, and likely to prove suitable for the raising of pigs, horned cattle, horses, and, perhaps, sheep, and also for the production of maize, tobacco, lucerne, cotton, rice, tropical fruits, and many other products.
I have seen places where most beautiful homes could be made where families could live in comfort by the exercise of ordinary exertion and care.
The soils about these flats seem to me to be singularly well adapted for the production of high class cigar leaf tobacco and, perhaps, of pipe tobacco also.
To show honorable members the difficulties under which the producer labours, I wish to quote another paragraph in regard to the Daly River settlement -
Lately, at the Daly River, two farmers, Messrs.’ Thomas and Roberts, have grown tobacco, to a limited extent, with excellent results as to quality of leaf, but a dismal failure from a commercial point of view. They forwarded 100 lbs. of leaf to a firm in Melbourne. By the time the tobacco arrived at that place, the weight had been reduced to 15 lbs. in some mysterious manner, and what- with that and numerous charges, one being 5s. for opening the box, and although the best quality realized is. od. per lb. there was no profit to the growers. I enclose the letters concerning the sale, &c, &c, which the growers gave me; they are interesting in showing the little hope there is for a market for cigar tobacco in Melbourne, at any rate, and indicate the necessity for obtaining a market in Europe, where good leaf suitable for requirements will always find a satisfactory sale.
Between the railway line and the Daly River, to the west and north, as far as to the sea coast, lies a vast extent of flat and undulating, or rather slightly undulating country, well watered by creeks, water-courses, and lagoons, where large areas of fertile soil may be found, and through it extends a belt of limestone.
Every man knows the value of limestone to agriculture. Every man knows the value of limestone country even for grazing -
A great proportion of this country should prove admirably adapted for mixed farming. It seems well suited for the breeding of horses, and indeed of all kinds of stock. The grasses here seem to be particularly sweet and nourishing. I noticed that in travelling hereabouts, the pack horses scattered away immediately the limestone country was reached or where patches were crossed over, and they eat ravenously at the grass, green or dry, and the saddle horses would make all possible efforts to obtain as much as possible. This country is easily accessible £rom. the railway line or from the Daly River.
I believe that sheep could be kept on many parts of the land with profit, as soon as means could be adopted to cope wilh the “seedy” grasses which are now, very commonly, spread over the country ; and I also believe that lucerne, the best of all fodder plants, would thrive admirably if some care be taken during its early growth to prevent its being smothered by weeds and grasses.
Just one more paragraph, and I am done -
Along both banks of the Daly River, from the “crossing place” to its discharge into the sea at Anson Bay, a great extent of fertile land spreads out, from “open forest” to great open plains, narrowing and widening to stony ridges and hills in the background. Here the soils vary considerably from chocolate-coloured of light free texture to that of a heavier character, and from free, black soil to heavy and stiff black soil, and soil almost sandy.
I have found it possible to submit a continuous account of the agriculture of the Northern Territory, year after year, since 1S84, by means of reports made by various Government residents. No attempts whatever appear to have been made by the South Australian Governments to entourage the industry in the slightest degree, notwithstanding the existence of an Agricultural Department in Adelaide.
– Whose report is that?
– It is the report of Mr. W. S. Campbell, who was sent to the Territory to inquire regarding land suitable for agriculture, and for the establishment of experimental farms. It was ordered to be printed on 25th October, 1 91 1. I do not ask honorable members to take my word as to the possibilities of the Northern Territory. 1 claim to have a knowledge of soils. I know a basalt soil from the soil of a river flat. I know a limestone soil from a clay soil. I know the various kinds of soils I have seen in my travels in the Commonwealth, and I have had the “pleasure of visiting all the States, and have earned my living by intense agriculture. I do not wish honorable members to take merely my word, and that is why I bring forward this report, as that of an expert, to indorse what I have said about the Territory. Some honorable members say that I should only speak of what I saw ; but if honorable members generally restricted themselves in that way in this chamber, in connexion with all matters dealt with here, we should not have any debate lasting more than about ten minutes, and our legislation would be very rapid indeed. I know that they grow tea in China, but I have never seen them doing it. I know that the Thames is a river in England, and that London is there, but I have never seen it. There are many things I know that I have never seen. When I visited the Northern Territory, it did not occur to me for a moment that I was going to see the whole of the Territory, though I am thankful that I was able to proceed 200 miles inland from the coast. But I made it my business when I got there to begin a study of the Territory. I went to the Mines and Lands Departments there, and discovered that development work was only in an embryo stage. I was told that the Minister of External Affairs made a discovery about two days before he left the Territory. He discovered that there was a mining assayer there. I wish to compliment the honorable gentleman upon taking a trip to the Territory. I hope that the Minister occupying a similar position in every Commonwealth Government will make it his business to do the same thing. No man can have the slightest conception of what the Northern Territory really is without visiting it and studying it upon the spot. If the Minister of External Affairs takes to heart the lessons he learned there, and profits by his visit, the result must be of value to the Commonwealth in its influence upon his administration. Seeing the state in which mining in the Territory was, I took it upon myself when I reached the principal mining centre, to address a public meeting, which all members were invited to address. I advised the miners to form a miners’ association, with .a view of putting their requirements in a collective way before the Government. I wish it to be distinctly understood that this Miners’ Association is not an association merely of wage-earning miners. It is an association of every man actually engaged in mining in the Northern Territory, whether he is the owner of a claim employing labour, or is working on wages. I may say that the members of the association have done me the honour to appoint me to an official position. I received a wire from them only yesterday, in which they voice their requirements. It was sent from Pine Creek, and arrived here on 24th June. . Perhaps it would be as well if I read the wire to the House -
Resolutions passed full meeting to develop mineral wealth Territory. Your Government firstly give liberal assistance and encouragement to prospectors under supervision warden. Acclimatized local men preference. Government batteries. Sites approved Director of Mines. Abolition Chinese tributes. Minimum wage. Government agency for buying minerals. Eighty per cent, miners Territory enrolled. All enthusiastic. Yourself elected President by full general ballot.
So that, in spite of the Government, I have been appointed to an official position in the Territory. I am very proud of the honour indeed ; and I thank the gentlemen who have elected me to this position. Apart from any personal considerations, however, I should consider myself as guilty of a criminal act if I did not make a fight for the development of the great mining possibilities of the Northern Territory. I may say that several matters connected with mining were placed in my hands before I left the Northern Territory. I had the pleasure of discussing the whole situation with those interested, and the one thing on which they were most insistent was the abolition of Chinese tributing. If we are to get the Chinese out of the Northern Territory, we cannot take them neck and crop and bundle them out, but must gradually supersede them by white men. The one way of getting them out of the mining industry is to prevent them from working on tribute for any mine-owners. We should compel white mine-owners to develop their own properties, or leave them alone. If they cannot be developed by white labour, they are of no use to us.
– Do the Chinese hold miners’ rights?
– I do not know whether the Chinese hold miners’ rights, or whether the practice is for a white man to take out rights for a certain number of miners and then employ Chinese. I did not investigate that matter, because I hoped to see the whole mining position taken into review. Certain requests were made to me from a place called Horseshoe.
– That ought to be a lucky spot.
– It is lucky to this extent, that there is a ramshackle battery there that robs the miners of from to j£8 per ton of the tin ore which they dig out of the ground. They are charged £2 per ton for crushing, whilst I suppose that in Victoria or in Queensland 10s. per ton would be considered a very big” price. It costs the miners about £2 per ton to draw their stuff to tlie battery, and it is alleged that from 5 to 12 per cent, of ore is lost in the slimes by the use of this imperfect machinery. I do not blame the owners of the machinery. Why should they bother, so long as the miners are content to use it and pay tribute for it ? But if the Government are going to develop the mining industry in the Northern Territory, it is their duty to look into these matters, and to provide the miners of the Territory with up-to-date machinery, so that they may not be losers to the extent to which they are under existing conditions. These resolutions were put before me before I left the country, and I asked the miners to send copies of all resolutions sent to me to the Administrator and the Minister also. I said I would be only too pleased to fight for them on the floor of this House. Shortly before he left the Territory, a letter making certain requests was sent to the Minister of External Affairs ; and I hope that when the honorable gentleman speaks in this House on the subject of the Territory, he will let us know what the proposals of the Government are. He has not done so, so far. A. gentleman was instructed by the miners at Horseshoe to forward me the following suggestions -
Mining and pastoral” industries must be assisted, more especially the former.
– Are these resolutions?
– No. They are more in the nature of requests or suggestions. They read -
The Government to arrange to sell the miners’ mineral production at the best market, and to advance 40 per cent, or 75 per cent, of the value until the realization.
Let me explain the meaning of that. I have sold tin which I consider was worth at least £20 or ^30 per ton more than I received for it. These men ask the Government to save them from ,£20 to £30 per ton upon their minerals, which at present finds its way into the pockets of the middlemen. Let us assume that tin is worth £200 per ton net. They desire the Government to advance them £100 per ton, to forward the tin to Germany or elsewhere, and to give them the balance, less the cost of transit and a small charge - if they choose to make one - when the returns are received. If that were done, they would be enabled to continue prospecting. I know that when I was engaged in prospecting I would have been delighted if I could have obtained similar terms. But the tin-buyer was able to “ fake” the market, and to say that the price of the metal was low. As one was forced to sell in order to pay the storekeeper, he was, practically speaking, at the buyer’s mercy. These men also say -
Why this is needed is because the middleman’s charges are excessively high. Some glaring instances of same if you make inquiries. The Government to publish weekly, per medium of the Government Gazette, in the Northern Territory Times the market prices of wolfram, tin, copper, lead, &c.
The present Government have been accused of subsidizing their supporters. I wish to point out that the Northern Territory Times receives a subsidy of £300 or £400 annually from the Commonwealth to enable it to employ white labour.
– The subsidy is for the publication of the Gazette.
– Without that subsidy the newspaper would experience a hard time. But although the Government subsidizes it, the journal in question still writes them down.
– That simply shows its independence.
– The document which I hold in my hand continues -
Cheaper explosives. Present price of gelignite, £s 10s. per case to the individual miner. The miner and prospector to be assisted with rations, also money, to develop any promising shows he may find. Said subsidies to be arranged by the Mining Board. The Mining Board to be constituted as follows : - His Excellency as president, the chief warden, who will act as secretary, and whose office will be the place where the board meetings are held and records kept, and not less than three competent miners, said three miners to be balloted for by the Northern Territory residents. These three ‘ men must be paid for attending board meetings, also travelling expenses. The duties of the board will be to encourage mining, and inspect and report when assistance is needed by the miner, &c. Present Mining Act in force (,gp.3) wants revising badly. Would suggest entire new Act, be compiled from, say, the Western Australian and Queensland Acts, i.e., inasmuch as they would appertain to the Northern Territory. Present mineral holdings of claims or leases are too large. Present Act does not allow the miner to go on and work the “alluvial” on another person’s claim or lease, or on a gold claim or lease. Nor is it compulsory for the holder of a mineral claim to lease same, the 2s. 6d. claim is practically given for all time. Latterly the mineral claims have been cut down in acreage ; formerly huge eighty-acre block were granted from 25. 6d. (for all time). Labour conditions, one man one block. Average of mineral claims must be cut down. Wages : Would suggest a standard rate of wages for miners working at the mines, and that the employer be strictly kept to that rate whether he employs white, yellow, black, or brindle. Then, I think, the white will predominate. Abolition of payment of royalty on leaseholds. In lieu thereof a fixed annual adequate rental. Present system of “ free assaying “ altered, as it only makes a liar of the prospector, although required to do so. Would suggest that the Government take over at the first opportunity one of the most promising mines and work same in an up-to-date manner. I would suggest the “ iron blow.”
– Do not forget that the Government took over one mine, and that the white ants are working it to-day.
– The communication continues -
No notice to be taken as to result of borehold put down by Government bore, as it was put down in the wrong place. (In this matter the chief warden can advise you.) All returns from said mine can be obtained from the warden’s office. Properly equipped Government prospecting parties of not more than three practical men to each party. We also want some representation. 1 am .sorry to have occupied so much time in reading these tedious details.
– Does the honorable member approve of the suggestions which he has read after his experience of the Territory?
– I do not approve of all of them, but I most emphatically approve of the suggestion .to abolish mining tributes to Chinamen.
– The white miners will not work there.
– No white miners have been encouraged to go there. The mine-owners have preferred to employ coloured labour because it suited them to do so. The South Australian Government preferred coloured labour, and it employed coolies to construct the Port Darwin to Pine Creek railway. I trust that the Commonwealth Government will insist that only white men shall be employed upon the .construction of railways in the Territory, and will give each man thus engaged an opportunity of taking up a block of land either towards Port Darwin or the Katherine River. I should prefer the Katherine River area myself, because the soil there is better. Mr. Campbell says that that country would be suitable for subdivision into 330-acre blocks. I had the advantage of seeing a similar system adopted in New Zealand, when the late Mr. Seddon was in power. There the Government gave the men who were employed upon the railways permission to take up land, and as a result while they were getting wages from the State they were able to develop their homes, which, upon completion of the lines, became self-supporting. If the men who will be engaged upon the railways in the Northern Territory cannot make their homes self-supporting in such a limited time, they will always be able to fall back upon mining.
– How far would the mining operations be from their homes?
– Only a few miles, and there would be a railway all the way. But the mineral belt of the Territory extends over thousands of miles. If honorable members are anxious to know iri detail the mining returns, I can supply them from the warden’s report, which, after all, is the only reliable source of information we have on the point, though, of course, it does not account for what is smuggled out of the Territory by the “ Chows.” The warden’s report, dated 29th March, 1912, contains the following - The better return of gold is due solely to rich crushing parcels obtained by Chinese tributers from the Eleanor mine at Pine Creek, and put through the Cosmopolitan Battery and Cyanide plant, the increase there being £11,600 over the previous year, the yields from the other auriferous mines worked was very disappointing, and not payable.
That may seem very small compared with the mining returns in Victoria or Western Australia, but it is some evidence of the presence of gold in a country in which we are told there is no mining worth mentioning
In the opinion of the owner of Burns’ Wolfram Mine the prices ruling for that mineral were low, and would command a much larger figure in the near future, so he purposely limited the output of the mine and held back 30 tons of 30 per cent, copper ore that was risen. At the lower workings of the mine, the deepest being only 60 feet, the wolfram ore bodies under foot are richer than in the shallower ground. … A Melbourne company had acquired the Maude Creek Old Copper Shows, and are about to expend £5,000 solely in development work there, mining on a limited scale being started near the end of the year. Very little work has been carried out on these shows in the past, and that only of a superficial nature. The only parcel sent away was in 1905 of 10 tons of about 40 per cent, copper ore. It will be observed by the returns that with the decreased production there is also a corresponding decrease in the number of men engaged in the industry, both Europeans and Chinese. Taking into consideration the number of old Chinese fossickers, some 300, who only eke out a bare existence, the average earnings of £82 for the year can be considered satisfactory. With such a shifty population, it is impossible to ascertain the actual difference of earnings between the two races, but taking the Umbrawarra field as a criterion, the European diggers there averaged £127. The rate ruling for European wage miners was £4 per week, and the Chinese £2 Ss., only about a dozen of the former and 40 of the latter were so employed. … At the end of the year, there were in this district 263 mine holdings held under titles, they comprise nr mining leases and approved mining lease applications, 151 under mining claims certificates, and one approved tin dredging lease application. On a large number of these the labour conditions were not fully complied with, and steps will be taken for their cancellation for such reason. As the wardens of other mining districts have furnished me with but little information I am not fully conversant with the operations carried out in such areas. I understand that the popu- lation of Tanami gold-mining district D gradually dwindled away until only four or five miners were left, who worked the alluvial and’ rich leader stone, the yield of gold from that locality being about 200 ozs., of a value of about £800. The gold won from district C was of the value of .£3,408, consisting of 867! ozs. of battery and cyanide gold, value £3,208, and 50 ozs. alluvial, value £200.
The miners employed in prospecting are compelled to “dolly out” in a. bit of an iron cup, with a piece of metal to pound the ore; and with these appliances they have to earn enoughto keep them supplied with the necessaries of life. As a matter of fact, they dare not trouble over any proposition which does not show free gold in plenty. I am assured by practical miners that unless a reef goes 10 ozs. to the ton it is of no use. Just imagine the mining speculators of Victoria striking any mining enterprise showing such a return. One great difficulty is the cost of transport in a country without roads; and very much money will have to be expended before the Northern Territory has anything like the advantages of the southern goldfields in this respect. I should like to draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that while in 1894 only .£1,250 worth of tin ore was produced, the value in 1911 was £22,900. The tin industry has advanced by leaps and bounds. In 1903, the output represented ^10^773, and, in 1907, it represented ,£41,000. There was a slight decline in 1911; but, in comparison with j 894, there has been an advance. Goldmining, on the other hand, has decreased. In the case of copper, the return in 191 1 was only £1,470; and the total value of the mining output in 19t1 was ,£55>i’45. I should not like to conclude without saying a word about the Government mine. This is a Socialistic enterprise, which was entered on by an anti-Socialistic Government ; and now that it has come under the control of a Government accused of being Socialistic, it is as well that we should know something about it. There is one report, which says -
The company’s records show that since the present company has held the mine, up to the end of June, 1905, 5,734 tons had been treated by the battery alone, for 2,172 ozs. of gold, value £7,154 12s. 3d. This mine is very promising as regards future developments in depth.
If honorable members will take the trouble to read the report of the explorations made by the Government Geologist and staff during 1905, they will get all the details of the Government mine, together with a picture of the machinery, and so forth. I am sorry, for the sake of the honorable member for North Sydney, that there are no photographs in it of the white ants. I saw some which had eaten the timber away, but they had not yet tried to consume the iron and steel parts of the machinery ! I am not going to urge the Government to rush into the development of this gold mine, but I do urge them to hold on to the machinery. I am of the opinion that gold-mining is an industry that can well be left to private enterprise, because it is a pure gamble and speculation. Tinmining is a little better ; whilst lead, silver, and copper occur in bigger lodes, which can be easier tested. Coal-mining is, of course, essentially a province which the Government might enter with a prospect of success. But I do not ask the Government to interfere with private enterprise in the Northern Territory in any way, as long as the mining, farming and pastoral work are legitimately conducted. But there is a tremendous amount of work that the Government can do to help these industries, and they should not be afraid to take up such propositions in the manner approved of by the Labour thought of the Commonwealth. For instance, instead of subsidizing steamers to carry mails, I would urge the Government to have their own steamers, and to take over the whole of the transport work in the Territory. I would further urge them to take over the whole of the storekeeping, and to displace the Chinese trader. As long as the Chinaman is allowed to trade in the Territory as he does to-day, he if going to stop there. Take away the right of trading from the Chinaman and the white man altogether. Do not make fish of one and flesh of the other. Let the Government grapple with the problem of distribution, as they will have to grapple with it elsewhere, if they are to deal satisfactorily with the high cost of living. I do not intend to enter into a lecture on the nationalization of distribution. When I submitted a motion 011 this subject last session, it was considered that my proposition was a most extraordinary one. Perhaps it did look rather elaborate; but I maintain that it had not a scintilla of the extravagance of the censure motion which has been launched by the Leader of the Opposition. This session I am satisfied to ask the Government to nationalize distribution in the Northern Territory, so that the miner who goes out to develop the country shall not be charged exorbitant prices for. his dynamite, his tools, his food, and everything that he has to buy. I urge them to establish a Department of Medicine, so as to give the settlers the services of qualified doctors and nurses, who might work from centres at Darwin and Pine Creek. We should provide for treating the men and women who go out as pioneers in these districts, and should assist them to struggle against the climate; because, although I have said much in favour of the climate of the Northern Territory, it certainly has many drawbacks as compared with our southern climate. The pioneers must not be left at the mercy of doctors who charge huge fees. I saw men go down in hundreds on the gold-fields of Western Australia because no provision -of this kind was made for them. When I went to the Territory and realized the possibilities of mining there, I resolved that one thing I would urge on our Government would be to go on with the work which they have begun in the Medical Department. I am proud that they have begun it, and hope that they will extend it.
– What about schoolmasters ?
– Schoolmasters will also be required. I disapprove of the arrangements in connexion with the schools in Port Darwin at present. I do not like to see Chinese and nigger children sitting side by side with white children. I certainly would not allow a child of mine to sit with a Chinese or nigger child in any school. When I was a school teacher. 1 had a. case of the kind to deal with. The parents emphatically objected to their children sitting side by side with children from the blacks’ camp. I object to the principle of putting clean white children side by side in the same class with these coloured children. Not that I say tha* the. little children of coloured parents whom I saw at Darwin could be called dirty. I would not say that for a moment. But, at the same time, it is a fact that unnameable diseases are. rife amongst the blacks and the Chinese. Afghan traders are spreading those diseases all the way from Boorooloola to South Australia. These things must be grappled with. I am quite prepared to have teaching given to the black and Chinese children, but I want to see them segregated from the whites. I do not believe in any mixing. I stand for the white race, and for our White Australia policy all the time. These are a few of tlie practical things that need to be dealt with.
In regard to the settlers whom we are sending to the Territory, I am of opinion that, to send men there under ordinary conditions with a few pounds with which, to fight the battle of life is a great mistake, and means courting failure. Unless work can be found for men on the railways, it is a mistake for them to go there without a few hundred pounds to stand by until they can rear some cattle. You cannot get a return from cattle in one or two years. It takes five or six years before you can get an adequate return. There is a difficulty about getting cattle into the Territory. Certainly, it is not over-populated with cattle, but the men who have herds stick to them. It is useless to take cattle there, except from Queensland. Cattle from a country where there is no tick and red water will not succeed well. The cattle must be immune. In making these suggestions to the Government, I claim assistance from members in all parts of the House, because this is not a party question. I am of opinion that a system of co-operative village settlement ought to be established. A settlement ought to comprise, say, 1,000 families as an objective. One might be started with, say, ten families, but it could work up to 1,000. Such a settlement could produce many of the things that are required in the Territory, such as sweet potatoes, beef, mutton, cheese, milk, and vegetables. They could grow tobacco for export. They could raise stock and enter upon any other industry suited to the country, and they need not go out into the wilds where there are no roads, or suffer the hardships of pioneering. In association they would have at least some of the comforts of civilization from the start. Were I going to the Territory as a settler, I would rather go to such a, settlement, composed of persons possessing their own holdings, but helped by the Government with stores, transport, and machinery, and otherwise financed, than take the risks of individual pioneering. My suggestion is worth consideration. If we we to obtain a proper hold of the Territory, we must strike out on new lines. Private enterprise there has failed to populate the Territory. The people for these village settlements should not be immigrants from the Old Land. I would not send men to the Northern Territory red- raw from the Old Land, because the change of climate would be too severe. This is no disparagement of immigrants from the Old Land. Had not my father immigrated, and started work on the Ovens diggings at the age of twenty-five, I might not be here to-day. But it would be better to fill the southern States with men from the Old Land, and let the hardy sons of Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, and the western district of New South Wales tackle the Northern Territory. Those forming the settlements which I suggest would be sure of food and clothing in return for their labour, and would have homes; and if they chose to strike out for themselves and take up other land, there would be nothing to prevent them from doing so. As far back as 1898, I wrote to the press, urging the establishment of village settlements for the absorption of the unemployed, whether resident or immigrant. I am not afraid of immigration, but I do not wish to see thousands of immigrants in our streets without employment. It would be more inhuman to strand immigrants here without employment, than to strand our own people. Immigrants who cannot find immediate employment should be absorbed into co-operative village settlements such as I have outlined. This would give them a chance to become Australian citizens, and when other avenues opened they would enter them without being forced to do the Australian worker out of a job. Who would uphold an immigration policy whose effect was to throw a thousand men out of work, to give employment to a thousand immigrants, and to allow vindictive employers to victimise unionists who had fought to better their condition? We cannot stem the tide of immigration. The great north shrieks for people. I am not, surprised at the opposition of certain Queensland politicians to our Northern Territory schemes. I had the honour of being interviewed by the Queensland press wherever I went in that State, and I am very thankful for the opportunities given to say something about the Territory. But there is a very acute opposition in Queensland to the Commonwealth proposals for developing the Territory, and those who express it are not to be blamed, because Queensland has large areas which have not yet been developed. The Australian Government, however, is concerned with the whole Commonwealth. We must welcome the immigrant with outstretched hand, taking care that he does not displace our own workers. The establishment of cooperative village settlements would remove the unemployed from our streets, and enable them to retain their manhood. When the Attorney-General spoke of travelling for miles throughout the country looking for work, my heart went out to him, as every man’s heart must go out to the man who has to beg for work, and whose manhood is thereby at stake. It is a disgrace to all previous Administrations that some method of absorbing the unemployed has not been found. Occasionally, owing to a readjustment of industrial conditions, men must be thrown out of employment ; but chronic unemployment should be prevented. This Government has a chance to solve the problem. They have land which they have got, practically, for nothing. They can make what Ordinances they like, there being no State Parliament or Upper House to challenge them. I am proud to fight for the development of Australia; and it will be a proud day for me, if I ever see it, . when a Commonwealth Government solves the difficulty of settling the Northern Territory with a white population. I do not wish to see the question played with.
Mr. Roosevelt, whose name is today in every man’s mouth, and in every newspaper throughout the world, had a worse problem to tackle when cutting the Panama Canal. Millions of money were wasted on that enterprise, and white men were dying like sheep, because of the unhealthy climatic conditions. In the Territory, on the other hand, there are hundreds and thousands of miles of country possessing a magnificent climate and a beautiful rainfall. Malaria is not prevalent to any extent, and not worse than in parts of Queensland. Mr. Roosevelt dealt with the Panama difficulty by having the work performed under Government control, by providing stores for the workers, and creating and paying them in notes given a currency in that part of the world. Healso established a Medical Department, which is one thing I suggest should be done in . the Territory. By coping with malaria, by pouring oil on the swamps to choke the mosquitoes before they could fly - by making these and other’ works a matter of State enterprise - Roosevelt made a success of one of the greatest and most difficult undertakings in the annals of the world. No greater enterprise was ever undertaken, and yet Roosevelt conquered. The canal has been constructed, and it remained for the honorable member for Wentworth to point out to-night the glorious results that are likely to follow its completion. I hope that his predictions will be verified. One of the results which I am sure will accrue is that, if Cousin Jonathan cares to take advantage of the construction of the canal to place his fleet in the Pacific Ocean, we shall have near by a friend and helper who will stand by us in the hour of need. I am not prepared, however, to wait even for the help of Cousin Jonathan. I want to see the whole of this great Commonwealth developed and peopled, and I desire also to see undertaken in the Northern Territory a work which, in many respects, is similar to that of the making of the Panama Canal. The task that confronts us there, however, is easier, and the results will be more remunerative. Great wealth is there waiting to be developed, and the only question to be determined is how best: to attack the problem. The Minister of External Affairs will have my utmost sympathy and help in the great task before him, and the Administrator, no matter whether I disagree with him because he has not had Australian bush experience, or because he is not a member of our party, will also receive all the sympathy and help I can extend to him. I earnestly trust that honorable members on both sides of the House will give every assistance and encouragement to the men who have to shoulder the great work before us in the Northern Territory.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Groom) adjourned.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to intimate that I shall ask honorable members to pass either to-morrow even ing, or on Friday, one month’s Supply, on the basis of this year’s Estimate, so that the wheels maycontinue to go round.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at zo.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 June 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120626_reps_4_64/>.