House of Representatives
24 September 1912

4th Parliament · 3rd Session

Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3.0 p.m., and read prayers.

page 3316




– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs whether certain dodder-infected lucerne has been imported into Australia. If so, will he inform the House where it came from; and will he take steps to prevent the importation of dodder-infected lucerne?

Minister for Trade and Customs · YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP

– The honorable member was good enough to notify me of his intention to ask these questions, and I have been furnished with the following replies : -

It is understood that the seed was brought from America by intending settlers who wished to grow lucerne, and had been told that good seed was not. available in Australia.

Under the Federal Quarantine Act effective measures are adopted to prevent such dodderinfested lucerne seed from entering Australia. The lot of seed in question has been held up, and the importers notified that it must be either freed from dodder seeds or be re-exported.

page 3317


Public Borrowing - State Debts


– Has the Prime- Minister read in this morning’s press the report of a speech by the honorable member for Ballarat, in which he stated that this Government - having failed to meet all its engagements out of revenue, the Commonwealth would have to borrow, and the Government had, as a matter of fact, not disguised its intention to do so.

Is it the intention of the Government to borrow ?


– We have no intention to borrow, other than has been stated in this Chamber.


– The honorable member for Ballarat is also reported to have said that - the Fisher Government, which was the only Federal Government that had the power to deal with the question [of States debts] had virtually washed its hands of the question.

I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether the statement is true; and, in connexion with it, whether the right honorable gentleman has read the following statement, which appeared in the Age of 21st August : -

The States have now the power to refuse to give up their right of independent borrowing, and the Commonwealth Government is practically powerless because of Mr. Deakin’s past surrender to the States. The speech was a very long one, and a very tedious one, and a reader of it will search it in vain for any light on Commonwealth problems or the way out.


– My recollection fails me regarding the statement of the Age. It is not correct to say that this Government does not desire to take overthe whole of the State debts. We are ready to deal with the States, now or at any time, regarding the consolidation of their debts, and nothing would delight us more than an indication of their willingness to take advantage of the invitation which is open to them. We have no power to compel the States in this matter.

page 3317




– In view of the statement made by the Minister of External Affairs on the motion for disallowing the Northern Territory Land Ordinance, can the honorable gentleman inform us when he proposes to deal with the matter, either by framing a new ordinance, or by introducing a Bill?

Minister for External Affairs · BARRIER, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I cannot at present name any date.

page 3317




– Will the Attorney-General lay on the table a copy of the judgment of the High Court in the Vend appeal case, and a copy of Mr. Justice Isaacs’ judgment?


– I am not aware that the judgment of Mr. Justice Isaacs has yet been printed, but if copies of these judgments are not available, I shall see if they can be made available and laid on the table.


– I suggest to the AttorneyGeneral that, in regard to Mr. Justice Isaacs’ judgment, the best thing to be done is to obtain copies of volume 4 of the transcript prepared for the parties, which, I believe, would cost over £200 to print separately. There are possibly some copies still available.


– I shall do that.


– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the leading article in the Age, and to the recommendation that an appeal be made to the Privy Council ? Does not the right honorable gentleman consider that the only cure for the evil of Vends and Trusts is for the people to alter the Constitution, so as to give this Parliament power to deal with them ?


– I read the article referred to. Consideration will be given to the suggestion it contains. My reply to the second question is that I have already expressed an opinion on the subject.

page 3317




– Has the Minister of Home Affairs read the statement attributed to a lady elector, and published in the press, that -

Fisher need not think he is going to stop me from voting. I am going to vote if I have to. swim to the poll.

Will the honorable gentleman make an inquiry concerning the breach of the law committed by a lady of such excellent capacity in voting by post?

Minister for Home Affairs · DARWIN, TASMANIA · ALP

– I saw the statement. The lady is not sufficiently familiar with the sympathetic heart of the Prime Minister if she thinks he would prevent her from voting. He is the one man on earth who would furnish her with every facility for getting to the poll.

page 3318




– Has the Prime Minister noticed the statement in a leading article of the Argus, that he or his officers are incapable of writing an official letter grammatically ?


-I saw the statement, which is rather an unfortunate one, the Argus writer, either wilfully or from want of knowledge, grossly misrepresenting the facts. That journal left a complete sentence out of my letter where it suited its purpose, and then commented on the construction. This is the third time within three months that the same thing has been done in its leading columns.

page 3318




– We intend to see that Tasmania gets justice in this matter.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– She has not got it yet.

page 3318




– I should like to ask the Leader of the Opposition a civil question if he would not mind answering it.

Mr Deakin:

– I am sure that it would be civil.


– I wish to know whether, after the refusal of the Premier of South Australia to surrender any legislative rights as regards industrial conditions, he still thinks it is possible to get the States to concede these powers to the Federation?


– Order ! It is not customary for one honorable member to put a question to another honorable member unless the latter is in charge of some business before the House. So far as I know the Leader of the Opposition is not in charge of any business just now.

page 3318



Leave to Officers


– On the 20th inst. the honorable member for Herbert asked me these questions, to which I gave an interim reply : -

  1. Whether any rule or regulation is in force under which an accumulation of leave to officers of the Postal Department is not allowed to extend beyond a period of three years?
  2. If so, does such a rule apply in cases where annual leave has not been granted owing to the exigencies of the Department not permit, ting of the absence of any men?
  3. Is the Minister aware that the Public Service Commissioner has refused to allow any leave owing after the expiration of three years, authough no arrangements were made to relieve the men to whom leave was due?
  4. Does the Minister consider this treatment of men to whom leave is owing - due to no fault of the men themselves - fair or proper? If not, will the Minister make an order that all those men to whom leave is owing, no matter when such leave became due, shall, providing that such leave was not forfeited or voluntarily surrendered, be granted the leave due at the earliest possible moment ?

The following are the answers : -

  1. Yes, and such a regulation applies generally throughout the State Services as well as that of the Commonwealth.
  2. Yes; leave of absence in all cases is per missive, and subject to the convenience of the Department.
  3. Yes, as provided for in the regulation.
  4. Every endeavour is made to relieve each officer for recreation purposes, but, as above stated, leave of absence is permissive, and where the Department is unable to make the necessary arrangements, and an officer’s leave accumulates for three years or more, it is considered that the granting of an extended holiday of fiftyfour working days on full pay meets the circumstances, and fairly compensates the officer, as an extended holiday of this kind is of more value than the annual eighteen days.

page 3318




– Can the Prime Minister tell the House yet whether he has sent an official reply to the Premier of Queensland with reference to the sugar bounty and Excise proposals?


– No.

page 3319



Cadets : Oath or Affirmation


asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

  1. Is the taking of an oath or affirmation obligatory on cadets of any age registering under the compulsory clauses of the Defence Act?
  2. What is the nature of said oath or affirmation?
  3. What is the penalty for refusal to take said oath or affirmation?
  4. Have any candidates refused to take said oath or affirmation?
Minister (without portfolio) · ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is - 1, 2, 3, and 4. No.

On ceasing to be cadets, and entering the Citizen Forces, trainees are required to take the following oath of allegiance or affirmation laid down in the Third Schedule of the Defence Act : -

Oath. “ I swear that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King in the Forces of the Commonwealth of Australia for the term of years or until sooner lawfully discharged, dismissed, or removed, and that I will resist His Majesty’s enemies and cause His Majesty’s peace to be kept and maintained, and that I will in all matters appertaining to my service faithfully discharge my duty according to law. So help me God.”

Affirmation. “ I solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign Lord the King in the Forces of the Commonwealth of Australia for the term of years or until sooner lawfully discharged, dismissed, or removed, and that I will resist His Majesty’s enemies and cause His Majesty’s peace to be kept and maintained, and that I will, in all matters appertaining to my service, faithfully discharge my duty according to law.”

Section 76 of the Defence Act provides that- “ Any man who has enlisted, or who is liable to enlist, for service in the Defence Force, and who refuses or neglects to take the oath set out in the Third Schedule, when tendered to him by a justice of the peace,or by the commanding officer of the corps to which he is attached, or which he is required to join, shall be liable to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for a period not exceeding six months.”

Three cases of refusal to take the oath by trainees have come under notice, and are receiving consideration.

page 3319




asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Whether he has yet received any reply from the Mount Lyell Company to a previous question of the honorable member for Bass regarding the importation of Maltese into Tasmania?
  2. If so, what is the nature of the reply ?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are*-

  1. Yes. 2. (a) The majority of the Maltese employed by the Company can speak English ; many of them have been in the Commonwealth for some time.

    1. The Company made no arrangement whatever with the Maltese, before they entered the Commonwealth.
    2. The Company employ about 120 Maltese, who came to them in six lots at different times.
    3. The Company do not treat only with one man; each man is dealt with, and paid individually, as other employes, and at the. same wages.
    4. The Company do not pay any interpreter. As usual in gangs of men there are spokesmen, but they are not interpreters, and have not been paid by the men or the Company in such capacity.
    5. The Company say that there is no interpreter for the Maltese at Mount Lyell, and no such person was responsible for the engagement of the men by the Company, The Company positively assert that these men were engaged within the Commonwealth through the usual agencies, the Government Labour Bureau and Labour Registry Offices.

page 3319


MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -

Railway Sleepers - Papers respecting the adoption of Karri Sleepers (Powellized) on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway.

Public Service Act - Postmaster-General’s Department - Appointment of J. M. Crawford to new position of Assistant Electrical Engineer, Central Staff.

Defence Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -

Universal Training - Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 180, 181, 182.

Military Forces - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 183.

page 3319


Second Reading

Prime Minister and Treasurer · Wide Bay · ALP

. -I move-

That this Bill be now read a second time.

The object of this short Bill is to provide for the payment, under prescribed conditions, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of maternity allowances to women who give birth to children after it has become law. The amount that will be paid to a mother in respect of each occasion on which a birth occurs is£5, and the Bill appropriates the money for that purpose. If honorable members will look at the Bill they will see that the whole policy is contained therein. The short title is the Maternity Allowance Act, but if a person took notice of what the press said he would think that it was for quite a different purpose. The Act is to be brought into operation by proclamation, and administered by a Commissioner, subject, of course, to the direction of the Minister. It provides that the mothers of children born in Australia, subject to certain limitations, and on ships passing from one port of Australia to another, and between territories of Australia, shall be entitled to the allowance. The general conditions under which the payment will be made are laid down. Clause 5 reads -

  1. A maternity allowance shall be payable in respect of each occasion on which a birth occurs, and the child is born alive, or is a viable child, but only one allowance shall be payable in cases where more than one child is born at one birth.
Mr Deakin:

– Is there any purpose in that last qualification?


– It is a maternity allowance, though the press and, I believe, some honorable members opposite have always referred to it by another name. It is for the protection of the mother and the child or children. The clause continues -

  1. Where the child is not born alive, or dies within twelve hours after birth, a medical certificate must be furnished certifying that the child was a viable child.
  2. Where the Commissioner is satisfied that no medical practitioner was available to attend the case, and he is satisfied by evidence that the child born was born alive, or was a viable child, he may dispense with any medical certificates required by this section.

Honorable members will see quite clearly that the protection given to the public is ample. A great number of persons were apprehensive that the Bill would allow of payment being made for the worst practices that are known to humanity, but I think that the drafting of this clause insures ample protection against imposition or improper conduct being rewarded in any way. I commend it to the consideration of those honorable members who think otherwise. Sub-clause 3 of clause 5 is a very useful provision. Honorable- members will recognise that in a large continent like Australia there are certain places where it would not be possible for women in childbirth to obtain a medical certificate, and consequently it is left to the discretion of the Minister to say whether, in the absence of that certificate, they are entitled to the allowance.

Mr Groom:

– Is it the general intention of the Government that there shall be medical attendance?


– It is the desire of the Government and, I am sure, of this House that there shall be medical attendance, but the Bill does not prescribe it. It is further provided that before the money shall be payable in the case of a child which is not born alive or which dies within twelve hours after birth a medical certificate shall be necessary. I think that provision, is desirable for the protection, not only of the public, but of the public funds. Where a child lives for a longer period than twelve hours no medical certificate will be demanded, nor will it be necessary to secure the payment of the allowance. This provision is merely intended to meet the cases of stillborn children, or of children who live for a lesser period than twelve hours. The next clause imposes certain limitations. It sets out that -

The maternity allowance will be payable only to women who are inhabitants of the Commonwealth, or who intend to settle therein.

I shall have no objection to that provision being made a little broader, although I think it is broad enough. Sub-clause 2 of clause 6 provides -

Women who are Asiatics, or who are aboriginal natives of Australia, Papua, or the islands of the Pacific, shall not be paid a maternity allowance.

The following clause contains a restriction as to the time during which a claim can be made. That, I think, is desirable, because a claim ought not to be a contingent liability on the revenue of the Commonwealth for an indefinite period.

Mr Groom:

– Is the Bill intended to apply to the white residents of Papua?


– That is not clearly stated. The reason why they are not included is that they are not directly under the Commonwealth Government. Nobody knows that better than does the honorable member. The Government may, however, by another method, secure the same result at any time”

Mr Groom:

– It is highly desirable that they should be placed on the same footing as white residents on the mainland.


– They are not excluded from participating in the allowance by reason of the fact that they are not included in this Bill. Clause 7 imposes a limitation as to the time within which applications may be made for the maternity allowance. In nearly all the States the registration of infants must be effected within six weeks, so that the Bill allows double that period within which to make the application. The next clause is an important one, although it is merely of a machinery character. It seeks to enact that these allowances shall be paid by money order to the mothers and to the orders of the mothers. It is not proposed to ask for receipts. I am advised by Mr. Allen, of the Treasury Department, that this’ course may be safely adopted. He thinks that it will lead to expedition, to simplicity, and to absolute security. Those who are acquainted with the administration of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act will admit that he is a careful and cautious administrator, and when he strongly advises that this method will afford the Commonwealth ample security, I am inclined to think that we ought to give it a trial. Some honorable members are of opinion that it would be better if we claimed a receipt from the payee. But the circumstances at the time may not be favorable to the procuring of a receipt. It may be easier for a person, to get an order from the payee, so that the money may be obtained. Another reason underlying this provision is that even if we forwarded the allowance by registered letter, it would be impossible, perhaps, to secure the signature of the person whose signature we desired. Thus delay would be inevitable. There is a proviso to the clause which vests the Commissioner with discretion in the matter of determining to whom money shall be paid in the unfortunate case of the death of a mother. There is a similar provision in the Old-age Pensions Act which prevents money being wrangled over by legal parties, or claims being made for it by the next-of-kin. The amount in question is a small one, and 1 think *e shall be perfectly safe in leaving its distribution in the hands of the Commissioner. He will endeavour to discover who is most entitled to it in such circumstances as I have depicted, and he will disburse it in the way that he deems best and most in accordance with the law. The other portion of the Bill pro.vides penalties for those persons who endeavour to impose on the public, or who make false statements. Clause 10 sets out that any person who attempts to defraud -the Commonwealth, and the subsequent clause provides that any person who does actually defraud it, shall be liable to a penalty of .£100 or imprisonment for one year. I have heard some “honorable members say that that penalty -is too severe, while others maintain that it is not severe enough. In my opinion, it is sufficiently severe^ to deter most people from attempting to impose on -the Commonwealth. The last clause -of the Bill deals with regulations.

Regulations will be prescribed to give, effect to it. This proposal is not new. It has been partly in operation for very many years. The same principle has been given effect to in Switzerland for, I think, more than twenty years. It is not, however, a direct grant from the Government. Germany has also an insurance scheme which enables a maternity payment to be made, but the amount paid is lower than that which we propose to give.

Mr Deakin:

– Is there no contribution under the German system?


– Yes; these are all insurance schemes.

Mr Glynn:

– There are other schemes in addition to insurance systems.


– Quite- so, but those to which I refer are insurance schemes,v whereas this is not one.

Mr Riley:

– And we do not wish it to be an insurance scheme.


– There is no intention on the part of the Government to make it an insurance scheme. It is to be an allowance paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund without any contribution on the part of the mothers.

Mr Joseph Cook:

– With what ultimate State object in view ?


– With the object of protecting the present citizens of the Commonwealth, and giving to coming citizens a greater assurance that they will receive proper attention at the most critical period in their lives. In a recent interview, Mr. Lloyd-George, speaking of his insurance scheme, about which there has been so much controversy in Great Britain, stated1 that he considered the most important part of it was that making provision for a payment of 30s. per head to mothers at the period of childbirth. That is the statement of the man on the scene - of a Minister of the Crown in a country where much more dire misery and need exist than in Australia. Coming nearer home, honorable members will also recollect that the late Mr. Seddon took pains to provide nurses and other necessary assistance for the women of New Zealand who required such attention at the period for which we are providing,and he continued that system more or less until the day of his death. It was good and ample so far as it went. Mr. Sed.don’s own’ words to me were, “ I did not seek to justify it on philanthropic grounds ; I could justify it absolutely on economic lines as a provision for the safety of the

State.” He was of opinion that such a system was a benefit to the State, apart altogether from the direct good done to the recipients of such assistance. The same principle underlies the bush nursing scheme introduced by Lady Dudley. It was thought at the time of the inauguration of that system that an endowment of about £1,000,000 would enable the -©Tiganizers to do all the work that is proposed to be done under this scheme at the present time by an expenditure of£500,000 per annum. I know of some of the difficulties that were met with in attempting to raise funds for the purpose of the bush nursing scheme. I am not sure that it was on right lines, but the one idea seems to have been present in the minds of all who have attempted to assist’ ‘the rieedy at ‘the time ‘for which we are “pVovid’ing. This proposal, I think, is a departure in the matter of cost, and ‘that is an infportant ‘consideration. The proposal to make every mother in Austrafia, after the p’assing «of this Bill, a payment of £5 in fespect of a case ‘df materrrity will mean probably in the hear future ‘an -expenditure of ‘not ‘less than£500,000per annum. That the ‘Commonwealth can : beat that expenditure I have no doubt, and -I am equally confident ‘that ‘the Commonwealth will receive from it an ample ‘return. Some honorable ^members ‘may -say that -the expenditure ‘may –not -cease . ‘it j£500,000 ‘per annum. -I -should be happy, indeed, if it did not stop -at . >£1,000,000 : pef annum. There -can be -no ‘injury -by -reason ‘df the expenditure ‘it ‘involves. The -more we have ‘ ‘-the better- for -Australia. The more . young Australians we . ‘have the wealthier ‘the ^country must be.

Mr John Thomson:

-^Then why. -not make’speGial-provisiorrih the case of ‘twins?

Mr.FISHER. - Because this is a maternity allowance. ‘If ‘it ‘were a ‘baby bonus, the “ position would be ‘ different ; but it ‘is not. It -is “a ‘maternity allowance for the protection and -cafe df the mother, which is tantamount to the ‘protection ‘anrj care of the unborn child. The honorable member ‘for ‘Cowper ‘knows -very well -that there is no limit ‘to “the power of the “States to assist-‘and make ‘provision -for the prosperity 6f every child a’s -soon : as it ‘is registered in Australia. The ‘Cofnmonwealth is not in ‘-that fortunate -position. Subject - to what my ‘honorable colleague, the ‘Attdrney-Genef-al, ‘may -say, T ‘believe “that1 the1 Com’mon wealth ‘has no1 control over public -health, ‘arid-lias riot the same’poiwer Ito- deal “‘With1 children that -‘the ^States have.

I would remind those who, no doubt, will criticise the methods by which it is proposed to make this payment that if they have any charitable instincts, and any surplus money to give away, they will still be able to bestow it upon the children after the mothers have been cared for by theCommonwealth in this way. Do not let a«y one run away with the idea that thisproposal will dam up the wells of charity.It is axiomatic that good nature begetsgood nature, and I am convinced that after our scheme comes into operation most members of the community will be prepared tojoin in philanthropicwork by the State that will do equal service probably with that done under this scheme. I have already referred to the question of cost. Although the number of births ‘last year., . as nearly as could “be ‘determined toy the Government Statistician, was 122,193, I donot think the expenditure during the first year will exceed£500,000. I -ha-ve no-doubt that a number -or’ people will not apply in the first instance for ‘this allowance, but I -think that ‘the numtber that will -fail to do so after the ^system has -been in operation for some time ‘will ‘be a diminishing (oneJ We have hadi the same -experience with regard to invalid . and -old-age ‘pensions. People -who did not desire ‘to tate the pensions ‘.haive, as years passed by, <cheerfully made application for and accepted’f hem. In this1 case there is n© qualification ‘whatever. Each and every one Stands ‘on ‘the same level, must make . application -on -the -‘same form, and apply -for -.the -money : in !tlie : same way. There lis, ‘therefore, not Ithe slightest stigma of Gharity attached to this allowance proposal.

Sir John Forrest:

– Is charity a stigma?

Mr.FISHER.- If the. . right honorable member for Swan wishes this ‘House and the public to believe -that charity has. always been free from a stigma when . bestowed, he must be less . acquainted >with-theihistory and practice’ of this world -than teven : I am, though I . am a much younger man. I have never dipped my -spoon into a^soup kitchen, but I have ‘seen others do it under ihumilitating conditions. I was not many -years old when J felt that! would. drown:myself rather . than 1 humiliate myself, -is as well ; for the race that, in general, 1 that is the feeling -the people. have. ‘

Mr Fuller:

– sYou. areiiknocking. that old spirit’ ©at df . the 1 people fast.


– This will not knock the spirit- out-‘ of them; this will : put the- spirit

*Maternity* [24 September, 1912.] *Allowance Bill.* 3323 into them. To bring any heat into the discussion of this Bill was the very last thing that I desired, but honorable members opposite know that many women go through the most trying period of their lives, illfed, ill-clad, ill-equipped, without assistance, arid with nothing left to them but a proud spirit - a proud womanly spirit, and good luck to them. We intend to put a little between them and dire poverty, without degradation. It may be amusing to some honorable members opposite- {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- There is not a farthing for them in the coming to it. It is only after. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- Is there not? I am' afraid that the feeling on the Opposition side has blinded some honorable members to the actual facts of the case. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- Do you call that an answer? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- If the honorable member will allow me, I am coming to it. When this Bill becomes law a woman will know, and everybody acquainted with her will know, that there is ^5 awaiting her. It is one of the features of the commercial life of the present day that where there is money about a number of people become interested in that quarter. The butcher, the baker, the tinker, the tailor, the medical man, and others, will all remember that there is *£5* about, and although the money is not in their hands, the credit will be good. May I say also that, even if 5 per cent, to 10 per cent, do not make good, it will be as good as almost any other commercial transaction, and the credit will remain for the woman in the prematernity period as well as afterwards. That this proposal will relieve misery, I have not the shadow of a doubt. It will also save lives, and in saving lives no one knows what the result will really be. A distinguished writer not long ago asked, " Who can tell that among those who die young, there has not been, say, a Shakspeare, a Newton, or a Darwin? " Who can say what will be the value to the world of lives saved and lives protected, apart altogether from the misery and suffering that will be alleviated? From that point of view, I think it is the duty of the community, and especially the duty of a National Parliament, to protect every possible life. I think it is generally believed that the geniuses are not always the most robust physically, and it is just possible that those who are lost early in life would be, if preserved, the most valuable to the State. At any rate, this proposal will do something to help to bring that about. It will bring comfort to those to whom it is intended to bring comfort generally, and it will benefit the nation. If I might be allowed to depart from the discussion of the measure, and address myself to a phase of human thought and human action that has appealed to me for many years, I would say that man seems to have brought down with him through the corridors of time instincts and ideas that belong to a period long past. He seems to be afraid of helping the helpless, lest, if he does so, they may raise up an effete kind of individual that will destroy the whole race. This was well exemplified by my northern countrymen - the Highlandmen - who generally thought that a person whom a glass of whisky would not cure was not worth curing. Physical fitness was, until recent times, the objective, speaking generally, of a fighting race. That day has now passed. Intellectual development now rules the world, and will continue to do so under civilization. Civilized effort and civilized progress must take place through intellectual development, and on those lines we are undoubtedly right in helping in this way. I am not here to say that there should be indiscriminate protection of the unfit, without supervision. I believe that civilized government will compel supervision and proper treatment of the unfit, but that is a question which does not come into this proposal directly at the present time. It is our business to provide, first, for the safety of the mother and child. We can leave the subsequent comfort and happiness of both to be dealt with in another manner. This is not the last proposal of a humane character which will come before this Parliament. It will be remembered that when every new proposal of 'a Socialistic, or rather social, kind, has been brought before the country and Parliament, we have been met, not by direct hostility so much as by insinuations as to the means and methods sought to be employed. It has been alleged that political advantage has been sought. Subsequently, however, when the public ear has been caught by the policy promulgated, the question has been asked, " Where is the money to come from? " It has been said, " The cost is prohibitive; it will' ruin the country." We have transformed that attitude in the Commonwealth of Australia. Our invalid and old-age pensions scheme is, I think, the best of its kind in the world. Its administration I believe to be the_ most humane in the world. The cost is, of course, very large, but I am one of those who believe that this system of ours has helped to promote the progress of Australia more than many other things that are believed to have assisted in our prosperity. By providing for the aged and the invalid we have relieved the best members of families - who, in nearly all cases, had to bear this burden before - of the more serious part of the obligations they had taken upon themselves. This national scheme has enabled some of the best of our citizens to apply whatever savings they had to purchase better machinery, and to apply their labour to industry with better results. They have thus been enabled to obtain greater production as the result of their labour. By that means, they have assisted in promoting the prosperity of the country. Far be it from me to say that we have reached a point when we can put an end to social legislation of this kind. Far be it from me to say that we have reached a point when the Commonwealth can cease to take action in these directions. As the matter of public health has come up in the course of discussion on this subject, I may be allowed to say that 1 think the time is not far distant when the Commonwealth, either in co-operation with the States or on its own account, will have to acquire power to deal with matters of health concerning the whole people of the Commonwealth in such a way as will reflect credit upon Parliament and the people. I may be asked - and shall be asked, no doubt, by the Leader of the Opposition - if this question was before the public at the last general election? I admit that it was not directly before the public. On that ground, there may be some reason for an attack upon our policy, especially if the Leader of the Opposition is of opinion that the people are against it. At the same time, the matter was indirectly before the public, through references by many members of this party. My honorable friend, the member for Melbourne, to my own personal knowledge, has been advocating a policy of this kind for over nineteen years. Other honorable members on this side of the House have, again and again, referred to the matter. So that, although I quite cheerfully and freely admit - as, indeed, I ought to do - that that policy was not officially before the public, I am nevertheless convinced that it is in conformity with the wishes of the majority of the people. I believe it to be urgent in a national sense, as well as in the interests of the individuals who will be benefited by it. For that reason I think that this measure ought to be proceeded with without delay. Whether it be constitutional or not isa question upon which I should be the last man to express an opinion. When I find learned Judges, not indeed calling each other names, but in polite language saying, with respect to constitutional provisions, " My brother, you did not know what you were talking about," I may reasonably hesitate to express an opinion as to what is constitutional and what isnot. But I am of opinion that the Commonwealth is at liberty to spend its own money as it pleases, without let or hindrance as far as this question is concerned. If the Opposition intend to fall back upon the Constitution, I may say at once that I am satisfied that we have ample and specific powers to warrant us in taking this step. I do not think that the matter is at all in> doubt; and I am speaking now on advice which I have received from the proper authorities. Those honorable members who wish to argue the constitutional question are at liberty to do so, but I am not going; to argue it. I argue chiefly from the public point of view of the utility of this proposal. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- Lots of other things; are useful. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- One thing at a timeGenerally speaking, it is one of the irritating things which one has to encounter, that when anything is proposed that is worthdoing, there are always some who say, " That is right enough,- but why not dothis?" The countries which make no progress are those who pursue that idea to itsfulfilment. Let us do this thing first. I suggest to the right honorable member for Swan that we should carry out this policy in the complete way proposed, and thentake up other ideas which he may have in. his mind. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- It seems to me thatthe Prime Minister does not care for theConstitution at all. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- The right honorablemember should not say that. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- The Prime Ministersaid it himself. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- My devotion to theConstitution has led me into many errors. We all thought that the Constitution was a very different document from what it hasbeen interpreted to be, or our enthusiasmwould have been damped a little more than» it was when Federation was advocated- >But I do not think that honorable members need worry about this proposal being outside the Constitution. All that I need say is that I am advised that the Bill is clearly within the Constitution, and, it being within the Constitution, the Government feel bound to proceed with it with the greatest expedition possible. The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Parramatta last week both took exception to our determination to proceed with this Bill without an adjournment of the debate. Now that honorable members have seen the Bill, I think they will agree with me that it is one which can easily be debated after my remarks are concluded. Before I became a member of this House, I was accustomed to a Parliament where debate upon a Bill proceeded immediately after the second reading was moved. This debate can conveniently proceed to-day. I shall close my remarks by stating, as regards the mortality occasioned by maternity, that the death-rate of married women is nearly twice the death-rate of women unmarried. I ask those whose enthusiasm in opposition to this policy has rather led them astray, whether the penalty upon maternity indicated by that fact is not sufficient, and whether it should not make us additionally anxious to assist the unfortunate. {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat .- The Prime Minister has, by word of mouth at all events, anticipated some of the arguments' which he assumes are to be addressed to the House in opposition to this Bill. I can, perhaps, relieve his mind by saying at once that my references to those matters will be of the briefest possible character. I have but an hour in which to discuss a proposal of great magnitude. It is not a new departure, seeing that we have already passed an Old-age Pensions Act, with a somewhat similar aim for our fellow citizens, male and female, who have reached a certain era of life. In the providing of old-age pensions, we turned to the past with feelings of gratitude, and endeavoured to recognise, in a manner befitting our nation, the services, the work, and the toil of those who had not been fortunate enough to be placed above the reach of want. Let us never forget that we owe it to the untiring exertions of a man still living, the **Hon. Mr. Howe,** of South Australia, that this power was placed in the charter of the Commonwealth of Australia, though only after long and serious struggle. Of course, the honorable member for Swan and the principal supporters of **Mr. Howe** are entitled to credit in this connexion ; but to that gentleman belongs the honour of proposing to place this power in the Constitution. The proposal before us is clearly akin to that for old-age pensions, although it turns its gaze in exactly the opposite direction. This looks not to the past but to the future, so far as it may be affected, and its aim is that the Australian people shall be better equipped for facing that future. So much for the national outlook.. Then, of course, the Prime Ministerknows, and none better, as is shown in his demeanour, how to. touch the responsive chord of sympathy with woman in her hour of trial; and every man in the community recognises the Tightness of that appeal. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I never suggested otherwise. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- That is a mysterious utterance. I am saying that the Prime Minister suggested it by his manner in the course of his remarks. Of course, if he had not done so, we should all have known perfectly well that, for the time being, at all events, he sought to place those, if there are any absolutely hostile to this proposal, under the spell of that appeal to nature; and very properly so. Among the many appeals made by those intrusted with the representation of the views of their fellow citizens, with authority to clothe those views in acts, none can be. made with more certainty of success than that claiming consideration for woman in the highest hour of her womanhood - in the achievement by which she links generation to generation, in a bequest to posterity. Consequently, the Prime Minister possesses a great advantage in submitting his measure while the note of that appeal rings in our ears and in our hearts ; and it is somewhat of a struggle to brace oneself against the tide sufficiently to give the proposition, now submitted for our authorization, that calm and deliberate consideration to which it is entitled. But it is into that critical mood we must endeavour to transport ourselves, the more justified, perhaps, because, as the Prime Minister tactfully admitted ins advance, the question has never been submitted to the country, and, apparently, had not previously been brought immediately under the consideration of himself or his colleagues. Still, here it is. By reference to the proceedings of the Conference in Tasmania last January of the representatives of the party of which my right honorable friend is the Leader, I find that quite an important discussion was devoted at that gathering to this and other questions' closely akin. There was an amendment submitted urging the establishment of a system of compulsory contributory assurance against sickness, accident, motherhood, and old age. So far, of course, this indicates simply an insurance proposal; but the addition " with discrimination in favour of parents of large families " points a little beyond. The mover of that amendment alluded specially to a provision for maternity, and to contributions by parents of large families. Subsequent speakers urged that the insurance should be a direct charge on the community, and not on wages. These illustrations show the general trend. Then the Prime Minister took part in the discussion. He pointed out certain limitations which he observed in our Constitution - that we had no power at all to deal with medical men, hospitals, and chemists, who, presumably, might be called to our assistance ; he preferred the Lloyd-George system to the continental systems alluded to by other speakers. As to maternity insurance, he cited **Mr. Seddon's.** measure, under which nurses were employed, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also from economic considerations. In regard to invalid pensions, he said most significantly that there was great danger ahead- that society would have to organize itself' and see that, where pensions were paid for invalidity, they did not do gross injustice to society, and endanger its very existence. He insisted that this was a question which men and women with robust minds must face in the interests of the people generally. Finally, his conclusion was an expression of his trust that the Commonwealth would be able to work in cooperation with the States in all matters connected with hospitals and similar institutions, so as to be able to lessen the difficulties and trials of the unfortunates of society. There his remarks ended; but on the question of power, he spoke again, when it was urged that pensions should be granted to widows and orphans. He had no hesitation in interpreting that as outside the Constitution. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Ms Fisher: -- Does the honorable member say that it is within the Constitution? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- No; I simply say that the Prime Minister had no hesitation *in* that regard. He believed in the prin ciple, but would vote against it for legal reasons. Almost immediately afterwards, **Senator Needham** moved a motion to the effect that the Conference should consider the question of a bonus to children, especially in large families. That motion was seconded, but rejected on the voices, as was the previous one. Consequently, in a general way, the debates involved propositions of a similar character to that now submitted. An important feature - the most memorable of those announcements - was that in which the Prime Minister laid his finger on the possible danger in respect to invalid pensions. This I take to mean, not only a possible abuse, of the definition of invalidity entitling a man to a. pension, but also the difficulties of supervision, throughout such a vast area as Australia, over payments made under those circumstances. I am not aware of any other difficulties which such a remark would cover. At that time, eight months ago, there was no expectation in any of the minds of members of the Conference, of the particular proposal now under discussion. Nowadays very little reflection will be required to suggest that the extremely hopeful view of the Prime Minister, that this payment can be made without dread of abuse, is one which only a very sanguine temperament would father. This proposition is couched in so general a form that it extends from the home of the wealthiest to the home of the poorest members of the community. It covers, particularly in a prosperous country like Australia, a great section of our people upon whom the cost of rearing their children has not been, in any financial sense, a burden at all. Consequently, the very breadth of the project, covering, as it does, this absence of any real need, is a feature which freely permits of abuse, apart from the direct and immediate intention of the grant. It is not proposed merely to pay it into the pocket of every woman who becomes a mother, and is in personal need, but to pay whether she has any personal need or not, and whether the sum will count for anything with her or not. *i* {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- That takes away the charity aspect of it. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- It does not, but it affords opportunities for the abuse of charity. I think we should prevent the possibility, or, if that cannot be prevented, should have some means of knowing who would take advantage of the circumstances. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- Surely no good Liberal lady would do that? {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- Does the honorable gentleman suggest the publication of names ? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- It is my duty to call attention to the fact that, quite unnecessarily, this proposition has been made far more extensive, costly, and open to criticism than if it had been confined to cases in which the necessity was actual. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- Good old poor-house dole ! {: .speaker-L4X} ##### Mr PARKER MOLONEY:
INDI, VICTORIA · ALP -- The cost of investigation would be too great. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Possibly, at a later stage, I may touch upon the interjections. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- Why do the Government discriminate in connexion with old-age pensions? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- That is a very proper reply *pro tem.* Why do the Government discriminate in the case of old-age pensions ? {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- I am one who would make them universal. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- A number of honorable members opposite took the view thatthey shouldbe universal, but the common sense of the House and its sound judgment rejected, such a proposition. Ministerialists tell us very often that almost the whole of our revenue is contributed by those who earn their living by their own labour, and that these people who supply the money are entitled to have it employed with care, and only where it is needed. They have a right to demand that it shall not be lavished needlessly in order merely to round off a phrase and strike an attitude. It is the money of the people of Australia, which, if we are to believe our honorable friends opposite, is almost entirely wrung from the masses, that is to be wasted in this way, dangled as a bait before classes of society who have no possible justification for putting in a claim for such sums. {: .speaker-KNH} ##### Mr Mathews: -- There are no poor ladies of the Women's National League here. {: #subdebate-13-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to cease his interjections. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Let us place the responsibility for this feature of the proposal upon the proper shoulders. Honorable members opposite intimate that they are prefectly ready to sanction this spendthrift policy. But the first duty of an Opposition is to safeguard public expenditure and diminish the burdens sought to be im posed upon the people. I take this opportunity to at once enter a personal objection to any such squandering of public money. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- Is this merely a personal speech or the speech of the Leader of the Opposition? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- I believe it to be, or know it to be, the views of honorable members with whom I am associated. But this is a subject which covers so large an area and touches so many interests that I shall not be in the least surprised to find honorable members on this side differing in particulars from myself. For that we do not apologize., On this question, whilst I am fairly confident that I represent the general opinion of honorable members on this side, I have not taken any means to ascertain it. If any honorable member on this side differs from me he is at perfect liberty to say so. I shall make no complaint. Now that the humour of honorable members opposite has reached this height of extravagance, I may be permitted after my protest to resume the even tenor qf my way. The Prime Minister, in the course of his remarks, laid great emphasis on the fact that this is a maternity allowance, and therefore a mother of twins was not to receive more recognition than after a single birth. The distinction is a very fine one. If the bearing of twins, which I understand to be a more painful and serious operation than the ordinary birth, is not to be recognised in a maternity allowance it cannot be called a maternity allowance. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- If the child does not live the mother is to get nothing. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- She does if the child is viable. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- It is not a child otherwise. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- I have used the phrase of the Bill. If it be true that the tasks of maternity, if there be more than one child at a birth, and the consequent physical trial is greater, it would be only fair to recognise that. The addition to the cost would be infinitesimal. The principle on which twins or triplets are excluded appears to me to be unsound. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Lawyers may make a double charge ; medical men do not. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- A large number of medical men in this city have made it their practice for years, unknown to the general public, to attend cases of maternity in poor homes without charging for their services, or receiving anything for their futurere cognition. The Prime Minister, perhaps under suggestion, was particularly careful to dwell upon the fact that, as this is a maternity grant, it must be strictly limited ; hence much that might be clone for the children need not be done, because the grant is for mothers only. Yet, in another part of his speech he properly and impressively said that the grant is to insure that our new-born citizens shall receive al I necessary care and attention. That being so, need so much stress be laid upon the nature of the allowance preventing consideration of a proposal for devoting part of it to the wants of the children? Mother and babe are so closely united that one rarely suffers without the other; but a mother whose confinement has been easy may have given birth to a tender, delicate, and - sensitive child, needing special care. It may be answered that the use of the money is at the mother's discretion. That is true, but it is worth considering whether it be not possible to make certain that the child will always secure the attention its condition demands. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- Will not the mother be the best judge? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- In most cases; but the measure applies to all classes, including the feeble-minded, and the worse than feebleminded, of both sexes. It will operate in slum tenements, as well as in clean and comfortable homes. Attention to this matter is needed, I think, to achieve the principal, and perhaps the original, object of the measure. From my standpoint, the problem always presents a double face: How to provide both relief for the mother and care for the child? In its earlier days and months the infant is absolutely defenceless against the risks of life, and in untoward circumstances of hardship and deprivation must suffer even more than the mother, who is better able to endure. The Bill almost ignores the newly-born child and surely this is neither necessary nor wise. The constitutionality of the measure cannot be argued during the time which remains to me under the standing order, nor shall I dwell upon the fact that the schema outlined is, as a whole, of the vaguest and the crudest. To assert that direct relations can be established between the Commonwealth, as contributor, and all the mothers in all the States, is an extravagant expectation, and' distinctly unwise. There are ways, scarcely alluded to by the Prime Minister, except by inference, of providing for the health and welfare of mother and child alike. These should be popularized and applied if the measure is to have the practical effect desired. The provision for sending an allowance by post is one that will permit of grave, and serious abuses. Where the stress of living bears hardly upon a family, the receipt of the grant will be desired at the earliest moment"; but there are, unfortunately, many homes in which mother and child may be deprived of it, the money being intercepted by the father or other persons immediately associated. No safeguards are provided against such abuses. Perhaps no complete safeguards are possible; but, as in the other case to which I have alluded, there are opportunities for obtaining the aid of efficient, sympathetic, and sufficiently widely distributed administrations to operate as a practical check against disregard of the mother's claim. Those surrounding her are sometimes destitute of humanity and regardless of the purposes of the bounty. This measure will impose on the Government a responsibility to the tax-, payers for the judicious and economical expenditure of their funds, and to the mothers and infants for their proper and wise distribution. There are parents, though I trust very few, who would employ this money to uses of little benefit to themselves, and of absolutely none to the child. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- The honorable member is setting up a number of imaginary objections. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- The honorable member appears deplorably lacking in worldly experience, or else of little sympathy for sufferings which, although they do not reach the public eye, are severely felt in certain dens. I am sorry to have to allude to such contingencies, but we are assuming a great responsibility when we ask the people for this ,£500,000 to be spent on the mothers of Australia, and, incidentally, in benefiting children born in Australia. We owe it to them to see that the money shall not be wasted, but shall be applied, so far as we can insure it, to the purposes intended - to the persons who have a claim upon us, and for. whom it has been voted - the mother and the child. We must take care that it is applied by the mother for her child and herself, and not diverted to other purposes. To turn next to a means of action to which these considerations lead us, it is perfectly obvious to honorable members that, except in an indirect and involuntary way, the Prime Minister, for some reason or other, practically excluded all reference to the States and to the charitable bodies which have sprung up in them. These cover practically the whole of this Commonwealth, not sufficient for the whole, but efficient within certain areas, and generally within large areas. These are agencies of the States directly controlled by the States, or supported and assisted by the States, controlled by committees of philanthropic citizens. There are other ventures, church or private, financed and directed by those whose hearts are open to the appeals made to them from some of the grim surroundings with which they are acquainted. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Does the honorable gentleman know that there are many who would rather die than appeal to these agencies? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- I do. There is no pretence that these official or voluntary agents of charity have either described themselves or wish to be described as visitors from a higher sphere, coming to this earth as persons of immaculate quality. But the fact remains that, being human, and possessing the ordinary human weaknesses in the same degree as ourselves, they still possess the human virtues in a much greater degree, and many of them devote themselves to this mission.I know some whose whole lives are wrapt up in the discharge of duties and obligations of this sort under circumstances perfectly unknown outside their own immediate circle, who never have obtained, and who, if they can help it, never will obtain, the slightest notoriety even within the small circle of their friends. Beyond them, perhaps not quite attaining that height, but in varying degrees, you find tens of thousands of nelpers. Most of us are helpers when our emotions have been immediately appealed to, or our sympathies aroused ; these are helpers nearly all the time, and a few all the time. There is thus a great agency scattered throughout the States, largely selforganized, but buttresed also by State institutions. These have by no means coped with all the distress, suffering, and misery in Australia, but they have added their work to that of the State by contributing to lift the loads from the shoulders of thousands in danger of being crushed if neglected. What appears to me to be a great omission in the policy announced, and, perhaps, in the measure itself, though that can be assisted, possibly, by more considerate administration, is an endeavour to make use of all the knowledge gained by these various agenciesif necessary, to make use of their assistance - to ask for it, and to receive it. Thus we may bring to bear the combined force of all the philanthropic institutions and associations, and individual persons throughout the Commonwealth for this and other work of a beneficent and unselfish character. To this, happily, thousands of our citizens, particularly thousands of women, though comparativelyfew men, devote a large portion of their time and strength. With these guides and helpers at hand, you have the power of protecting the weak and helpless mother against the imposition which may come even from near relatives. {: .speaker-KHU} ##### Mr Howe: -- Does the honorable member mean that the money should pass through their hands? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- No. I want to especially avoid, as far as we can, officialism or officious-ism. But the satisfactory working of this measure, in any case, will mean the appointment of many more officials, and the aid, it may be, of those discharging other functions, who will incidentally assist. But those who are invaluable are the sympathetic helpers who come forward to undertake this work solely out of regard to the person's affected. These, without any assumption of superiority or control, keep in touch with the weak sufficiently to see that they are not being victimized, as they may too often be. If you read the accounts of Police Court cases for a few days only, you will see that the natural protector of the family in a certain number of instances, fortunately not many, turns against those who are absolutely dependent upon him. The records of other Courts tell their own tales. Woman - trusting womanhood especially - is in nearly every instance the victim. Now these risks and perils can be in a large measure mitigated by adding to whatever this Parliament may decide to do, not a greater extension of the official element than is absolutely necessary, but unselfish, sympathetic, unpaid aid. In such cases " woman to woman " is often perfect. If we are to safeguard the money with which the taxpayers intrust us, or assist in the fulfilment of the aim which this Bill is drafted to fulfil - saving the mother in her last weeks of ailment and expectancy, the child in its first few weeks of drawing breath - we can reach humanity at its weakest, tenderest stage, more sensitively liable to be affected than at any other period. That is the time when the guardianship of surrounding friends, neighbours, relatives is called for and needed. The people of Australia would respond, if appealed to, in order to bring relief to them in the hour of their trial. ' It is impossible- it would be impossible if one desired it - to speak adequately of these trials, or of the delicacy of the means necessary to be employed to meet them. But if, as I trust, the results of this measure be such that the workers for humanity will concentrate on cases of dire and real need, and link themselves with every organization in the States which can lend friendly assistance, we may insure a wise expenditure of this money, and kindly surroundings., invaluable for the, safety of the mother and the child. I had proposed to refer to various continental precedents, hardly one of them directly in line with our own, but taking into account the extent of Australia, and the smallness and scattered nature of its population, it really appears to me unprofitable to do so. The fact is that the States of Australia are spending about £1,500,000 per annum on directly charitable work. If we add to this the private donations, certainly £2,250,000, and probably £2,500,000, are expended *in* most years for purposes including those at which this Bill aims. There is thus a total expenditure in this direction of £3,000,000 annually. The assistance which it is proposed to grant under this Bill is not quite as novel", perhaps, as has been generally supposed. In Victoria there is a special sum for the purpose at the disposal of its Treasurer - I refer to the Compassionate Allowance vote. This amounts to about £4,000 a year. It may be applied to any case of hardship whatever - to any family which is reported to the Government to be in distressed circumstances. But the cases to which it is applied most frequently are those of husbands out of work, and of women shortly to be confined. The nearest Ladies' Benevolent Society is informed of these facts and is authorized to obtain, at the expense of the fund, whatever may be necessary for the comfort of the mother, to. pay the rent qf the house, and to purchase blankets, food or clothing. The amount expended is governed only by the necessities of the case. It may exceed' £5, or it may be less, but the assistance is given, as long as it is required. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- I know as much of the working of as many Ladies' Benevolent Societies as does any honorable member of this ' House- {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- That has nothing to do with the point which I am endeavouring to make. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- I know of as full a district in which work is done as does the honorable member. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- I am not claiming that I know anything. In some cases the rent has been paid for more than two months, and attention has been given to the household during the whole of that time. Where there is no district Ladies' Benevolent Society, cases are directly dealt with by officers acting under the instructions of the Government. Where the benevolent societies disperse benevolent funds, that money is partly repaid to them. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Can the honorable member cite any particular cases? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- One of the regulations provides that, as soon as a case has been dealt with-- {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Where have they done0 what the honorable member claims? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Wherever it has 'been required. One of their chief objects is to do it without flaunting the fact in the public gaze. In one case I find that £4 10s. was paid to a family, whilst the husband was out of work; that £4 was given to help the wife over her serious illness, and that a final 7s. 6d. per week was granted for four weeks to enable her to bridge over her difficulties. This is an illustrative case which has been supplied to me by 'the Inspector of Charities at my request. Besides, that, the Government subsidize to some extent the Melbourne District Nurses. Society. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- An excellent institution. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- And one of which the Minister of Trade and Customs knows something. The work of that society is directed along the very lines suggested for this Bill. It has a considerablestaff of highly qualified, and. trained nurses,, who are available at any hour of the day or night to visit any places, from which information may come that: a nurse's servicesare necessary. In addition, the membersof the committee, from- time to time, visit every such house and family in- distressed circumstances, and,, in the many eases in which the. mother,, being invalided,, is incapable of attending to- ker household* affairs,, that work is undertaken for her. The family is visited by members of the committee, who take it in turns to discharge this duty. In many instances this practice has resulted in intimacies which continue long after the need which originated them has passed away. Thus a footing of friendship is established which is valued, on both sides. It has taught both a great deal., lt is a constant practice of this District Nurses Society to assist with necessary gifts in the way either of furniture, clothing, or ornaments. But the never-broken rule is that these donations come anonymously. They can never be appropriated to any particular person. They simply arrive,, and are dealt with by the recipients as they please. That rule is observed in order to maintain their full sense of independence in every way- The District Nurses Society merely intervenes to fulfil a particular need at a particular time, but the family is placed under no sense of obligation. We have these institutions - would to Heaven they could be multiplied ! - which manage by these natural and simple means to come into direct touch with what, to most of us, is a problem of great difficulty. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Does that happen all over Victoria ? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Not all over it. I wish that it did. The Bush Nursing Society is an extension of the same system applied to country conditions. It is rather relaxed at present for the want of two or three nurses. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- Unfortunately, Victoria is not Queensland. **Mr. DEAKIN.-** Queensland is, of course, a huge State. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- Unfortunately, we want more of the same work done in Victoria-. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- But I think that the honorable member knows that the Society is making an effort to bring out three additional nurses. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- It does splendid work, but, unfortunately, there is not enough of it. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- That is the point to which I am coming. Surely the hope is that if this work be taken in hand in the true spirit, there will be an opportunity, to the advantage of the Commonwealth, of gradually enlisting the sympathetic aid of these various bodies. Thus whatever may be the final decision of this Parliament - and I suppose that, as the Government have a majority, the Bill will pass in an unaltered form- {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- Hear, hear ! {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- But it does not follow that improvements cannot be suggested in it. We shall endeavour to effect them. It is perfectly clear, however, that, in some form or other, it will be authorized by Parliament. But our aim should be to authorize it in such a form that it will not create a merely official interference with the homes of the ailing - that it will not establish a temporary official relation with them ; but that it shall enlist other sympathetically conducted agencies to fulfil its purposes by enlisting, at all events in the cities, and gradually in the country, the sympathy of those women who are engaged in this noble, Christian work. .Neighbours can keep an eye on cases under this Bill, and can report any in which the mother or the child, or both, need protection. By this means we can secure another check against the fraudulent interception of the money or its cruel appropriation from people who sometimes, owing to the condition of helplessness in which they find themselves, are too timid to dare to make a complaint, even after they have been robbed. These are the serious matters which those with wide experience, whom I have been consulting, suggest should be taken into continuous account in the conduct of any such operations as the Government have designed. The larger the scale of the allowance, the greater the need of supervision and assistance. I hope to bespeak, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government and the officers they may appoint to administer this work, an association on their part with every philanthropic effort with which they can link up this proposal. Let them obtain whatever assistance can be derived from other endeavours to meet the sad cases by which we are confronted, and opportunities of recognising mutual obligations. We have the State and local governments everywhere j we have many friendly societies and other organizations, almost too numerous ' to mention ; and we have throngs' of sympathetic and capable women and men who, by means of these organizations are engaged in doing their noble work with open heart and hand. The plain and potent need is to affiliate with them in the conduct of this new endeavour - to join hands with them - if we are to see that this allowance is put to its best use, to go further and do more. There are already existing in relation to maternity a number of admirable institutions to which we are greatly indebted. I am speaking now of Victoria, but have no doubt that like institutions exist in all the other States. We have foundling hospitals, refuges, Salvation Army homes, and orphan asylums; all these are aiding the efforts of the Women's Hospital, the Children's Hospital, the Women and Children's Hospital, and the Convalescent homes; not to mention the great general hospitals, which also play their part in this regard. Here we have a great army of helpers and invaluable institutions capable of being employed for the purpose of this Bill, to the great advantage of those whom the Bill is intended to benefit. In connexion with the District Nursing Society, the doctors give their services absolutely without fee or reward. Medical comforts are also supplied by the Society without any charge to the persons benefited. This Government, too, is already faced by the situation . to which I have been calling attention, owing to the project of the Government in New South Wales. **Mr. Flowers,** a member of the New South Wales Ministry, has brought forward a scheme which is to involve in New South Wales alone an expenditure of £60,000 a year. Under this, there is to be free medical attendance and skilled nurses. The comment is made that the Federal allowance will become merely "pin-money " to the women so helped. The New South Wales Government intends to use all the organizations that it possesses for the very purpose here suggested. They propose a systematic plan of maternity aid, utilizing all the public hospitals, which the Government subsidize, using the system of local government, the medical officers in country districts, and the bush nursing institution. It will link all these together, and make them the means of its operations. The Government will pay all medical and nursing fees. These are to be standardized, and medical and nursing treatment will be compulsory. That is to say, the State undertakes the responsibility of paying for skilled attendance. The only obligation is upon the heads of families to avail themselves of it under penalty if they fail. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Does the honorable member know how much that will cost per head? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- The expenditure proposed is £60,000 per annum. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- There are about 50,000 births in New South Wales every year. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- I presume that **Mr. Flowers** is taking into account only the necessitous cases. I do not think he mentions in his scheme the number with which it is designed to deal. Under it, these public institutions are to receive increased allowances. In private cases, vouchers are to be supplied, and the Government are to pay the money ; in other cases, the doctors and nurses will look to the Government for payment. Friendly societies are also to take advantage of the system. In only 70 per cent, of their cases, at present, are the doctors requisitioned. In 30 per cent, of their cases, the mothers run all the risks attendant upon the absence of medical assistance. That is a point that needs to be emphasized. I am informed that an astonishing number of births in Melbourne and its metropolis are attended by unqualified, or, in a few cases, by disqualified women, instead of by medical men and properly qualified nurses, and that the loss of life and the sufferings of the mothers, who are uninformed on this subject, and unaware of the risk they run, constitute a very serious item. This is one of the evils in this community with which we ought to be able, indirectly, to deal. We ought to see whether the New South Wales requirement cannot be introduced everywhere - whether it cannot be made compulsory in every case to have a thoroughly qualified nurse, or, if necessary, a qualified nurse and doctor, to attend at every birth, so that the mother * and child can have a fair chance. {: .speaker-JSM} ##### Mr Thomas Brown: -- That can be secured only by State and Federal intervention. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- It can be secured by both working together. I am arguing for our co-operation with all the societies and all the States. Whatever the Parliament desires to do can be better done by cooperation than by other means. The closer the co-operation, the better the results. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- How many years will it take to secure that co-operation? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- We can make a beginning. All these institutions are moving now. The difficulty is that they are but little associated with one another. The object is to associate them more closely with each other, and with Federal and State effort. If that be achieved, they may contribute to each other, instead of over- lapping, in undertaking the common war against want, suffering, and privation. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- I am given to understand that some of these societies very often differ, not only with each other, but amongst themselves. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- That has to be overcome. It is, after all, only one of the characteristics of our nationality. Britons may rule the waves, but every Briton is determined to run his particular wave in his own particular way. **Mr. Flowers'** aim is to avoid anything like pauperizing the section of the community which he will be able to reach. His chief object is to approach the task from an opposite angle. I have here a good many suggestions made at public meetings in New South Wales as to the use of public hospitals, and with regard to nurses and the education of young mothers. There is an excellent suggestion that the highest class in the State schools should have some practical knowledge of ordinary nursing methods imparted, so that young girls before leaving school may possess at least an elementary acquaintance with nursing, and the best way of dealing with accidents. To conclude, I think the total number of births last year was about 122,000. It is obvious that we cannot cope with the whole of these by existing agencies, but it remains to be discovered what proportion of these "are births in absolutely necessitous conditions, or in conditions in which, at all events, the attention received is insufficient, and the further grant proposed by this measure is really required. That would need a calculation which I, at all events, am not prepared to undertake. **Dr. O'sullivan,** a leading member of the medical profession in this city, has entered a strong protest against any indiscriminate bonus to maternity. The one thing on which he lays stress - and it might possibly be made a condition wherever possible - is that in all cases in which the grant is given the mother must undertake, when able to do so, to lear the child at her own breast for a reasonable period. The number of deaths in great cities of infants which are not fed at the mother's breast is terrible. In Germany, it was absolutely appalling, and it is high everywhere else. It will, I think, be reasonable to make it a condition that, wherever possible, the mother who is to be assisted shall suckle her own child if she is able to do so. That, at least, the Commonwealth is entitled to ask, as a re cognition of the assistance which it is giving. The time limit renders it impossible for me to enter into some other important issues upon which I had collected material from official documents, but in one of these, where an investigation took place, the value of having the child with the mother was proved. It was shown that where they were separated there were thirty-five deaths out of seventy -three admitted. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- From what is the honorable member quoting? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- The last report of the Inspector of Charities for Victoria. I have thought it more useful to direct attention to the practical effect of the proposals of the Bill than to consider any of the general and theoretical aspects from which it might be criticised. The lesson of the old English Poor Law is very impressive. Personally, it seems to me a legitimate thing for the Government of Australia to take its part in providing, for mothers and infants who need its assistance, the requisite opportunity for the mother to rear the child, and to that extent I support the Bill. It ' seems, however, to extend far too widely its far too general operations. It should be limited in the way I have mentioned to cases of actual and practical need, and administered with a complete, frank, and continuous co-operation with all charitable societies throughout Australia, and especially with all efforts of the States. These agencies should all be brought into line, so that they may mutually assist each other in their noble work for the whole Commonwealth. {: #subdebate-13-0-s3 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
AttorneyGeneral · West Sydney · ALP -- The salutary influence of public opinion was surely never more strongly evidenced than in regard tothe measure now before the House. After the cataract of criticism, denunciation, and almost vulgar abuse to which we have been subjected ever since the Bill was mooted, nothing has so far been said - and we must assume that everything that ought to be said has been said by the honorable and learned gentleman who leads the Opposition - against the principle, and very little against the proposals, of the Bill. Not art echo has been heard this afternoon of those? wild and hysterical outbursts that we have witnessed from time to time in the varioussuburbs. I wish first to say a few words about the principle underlying this measure, thensomething about its constitutionality, and lastly to proceed to consider the proposals- themselves. First as to the principle. It is said by the honorable member for Flinders, who has been, and is, very prominent in the counsels of the Opposition, that all measures of this sort are inherently bad in themselves. ' The honorable member has, rather more frequently than usual, been giving the public the benefit of his very profound economical lore in this direction. Quite recently, at Camberwell, he made a political deliverance of himself, and laid down what he conceived to be the economical and ethical creed for this country if it were to be saved. I dwell upon what he said, not because he said it, or because I believe that in itself it is worthy of anything more than a fleeting reference, but because the honorable member represents, and is typical of, a very large and1 powerful influence that is moving the Opposition party. I freely admit that the party does not wholly embrace the opinion that the honorable member has expressed, but that attitude is not confined to this measure, but extends to all. It cannot agree upon any one principle. But the honorable member for Flinders is made of sterner stuff. He has principles, and he avows them. When, therefore, I deal with what the honorable member for Flinders thinks about measures of this sort, I am dealing with the spirit that animates and moves the Opposition party, which is now seeking in every way to persuade the people of this country to intrust it with the reins of government. I want to show what kind of attitude the honorable member for Flinders adopts towards the principle in this Bill. Speaking at Camberwell on the 25th June, he alluded to this measure as " Political fly-paper." No doubt, there is some classical authority for such a reference. I am not able to lay my finger upon it, but I anticipate that the allusion is taken from one of the minor and obscure Latin authors with whose writings I am not conversant. From that admirable classical starting point, the honorable member proceeded as follows - >Amongst those who were qualified to judge of this kind of political fly-paper, this is one of the most attractive vote-catchers on the market. But it is not a dream only - it is sure to catch votes. The question is - How ought we to receive a proposition of this kind ? If we -are to pay out of the public Treasury increased oldage pensions, invalid pensions, and baby bonuses, why should we not extend it in every direction? We might even help young married couples to furnish. You know you can always replenish the public Treasury by putting on a new tax; so you can go on from step to step. I think the duty of all of us who have the future and the good of Australia at heart, and want to see the end of all this weak, maudlin sentimentality which masquerades under the name of humanitarianism, is to determine where we should draw the line, and, having determined that, we should go straight forward, popular or not popular. Truth must become popular in the long run. It is bound to win. I cannot believe that whatever extravagance is indulged in, whatever sentimental legislation is passed, that the people of this country are not wise enough to see that such undue pampering is not going to result in any benefit to this country. I might elaborate the honorable member's opinions, but, from what I have quoted, it may be seen that he is opposed to old-age penions, to invalid pensions, to a maternity allowance, and to grants and pensions of every sort and description that have for their object the benefit of the people. I am not going to say one word now in favour of the 'underlying principle of such grants and pensions. I merely point to the attitude of the honorable member and of those who stand with him, who undoubtedly make up a most powerful section of the public. But I may remind honorable members that when pensions were restricted to the bastard sons of kings and the degenerate descendants of victorious warriors and decayed statesmen, they were regarded by our critics as admirable and heaven-sent blessings. But when that which had been the privilege of the few became the right of the common people and it was proposed to give a pension to every aged man simply by reason of his manhood, and to every aged woman simply by reason of her womanhood, without regard to sex, class, or position, then it was discovered that pensions ' ' sapped the fibre and independence of the people " ; then pensions were means devised for " undermining the thrifty habits of the people." We never heard that pensions undermined the character of some of those exalted persons whose reputations have descended with an ever-increasing and abominable odour to us. We never heard that pensions sapped the fibre of their nature. We never heard that pensions destroyed the spirit of thrift in them. Nor did we hear for a moment that pensions in such cases were opposed to the spirit of the Constitution.. All these evils have been discovered since that which was the prerogative of the few become common to all. The principle of these pensions is, I feel perfectly assured, one which is in keeping with the spirit of the age, and those who oppose them mark by their opposition the attitude which' they assume towards that spirit. But their opposition is practically that of the person who endeavoured to sweep back the tide with a broom. There is nothing - absolutely nothing, so far as I can see - to justify them, either ethically or as a matter of economics. The honorable and learned member for Flinders is a great lawyer. I admit that freely. When he assumes the right to speak with authority upon economics, we challenge his position. I deny utterly that he has any such right. Whatever he says about economics, he must justify. He must not speak *ex cathedra,* but must establish! his position by facts and by argument. He must demonstrate that his principles are sound. I say again, most emphatically, that the honorable members attitude on this question is not only opposed to the spirit of the age, but his principles are opposed to common sense. He is opposed to that "'sickly sentimentality " which is responsible for our hospitals; to that "sickly sentimentality " which has rescued from the living grave of the workhouse thousands and tens of thousands of the aged and deserving poor of our country. No doubt, the honorable member's economics and the system which we support are in bitter opposition, but, whether his economics are right or our system is right, we are quite prepared to leave the public to determine. I venture to say, however, that no man here - certainly not the Leader of the Opposition - will dare to- declare against that " sickly sentimentality " - that spirit, rather - that humane, kindly, and great spirit which declares that when a man or a woman has done his or her duty, he or she has a right to claim from the State this measure of aid. {: .speaker-KCP} ##### Mr Gordon: -- No one has said that-. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- Yes; people have said it. The honorable member for' Flinders says it. The whole position in regard to the members of the Opposition is this - that in the suburban crusade which they are conducting they have permitted themselves to utter sentiments on public platforms which they would not dare to breathe here, where they are confronted with those ghosts of their dissipated selves and are open to refutation. I leave the principle now with the remark that this measure is based upon the same foundations as that kind of legislation to which the world to-day has set its hand in every country which has claims to be considered civilized. The more civilized the country, the further it has gone in this direction. It may be said that where legislation of this description has not been able to lift its head, there you will see but a thin veneer between civilization and utter barbarism. Russia has not got legislation of this kind; China has not got it; India has not got it. There you may see manly independence unsapped by any of these vicious principles ! America, I am afraid, has not got it ; and there the Standard Oil Trust and the Rockefellers flourish abundantly and are quite unsapped by anything ! I come now to the constitutionality of the principle. It has been said - not here, but possibly it will be said here, though in a very mild way - that it is just possible that this measure is not constitutional. It is quite a long time since the constitutionality of any measure introduced into this House has been called in question. During the first session of this Parliament, as far as I recollect, every measureintroduced, or nearly every one, was stigmatized with the epithet of " unconstitutional.." Happily, the Acts then passed have survived the criticism, and are doingvery well ; or, perhaps, in such a debate as. this it would be more appropriate to say that they are " doing as well as could be expected in the circumstances." It has been declared that this measure isunconstitutional, because the power to grant a maternity allowance cannot be discovered' in any of the enumerated powers. I shall content myself by saying, in reply, that the power of the Commonwealth to expend money by no means depends on any of theenumerated powers. So far as I know, there is nothing to prevent the Commonwealth expending its money in any direction. Certainly it cannot follow up suchexpenditure by regulation or law; but itcan spend its money how it pleases. Itmay be that we cannot compel one solitary being in the country to come and take themoney, but as that does not seem, fro"m. what we hear by way of criticism, to be one of the dangers to be apprehended underthis measure, we need not discuss the point. The measure is perfectly constitutional, in my opinion, and whatever its defects may be, unconstitutionality is not one of them. We come now to the application of themeasure. It has been said by the honorablemember for Ballarat that one of the defects - and I hope the country will mark that the honorable member does not, for one moment, attack the principle - is that it is to apply to all sorts and conditions of women, whether they be in need or not in need. Now, that is quite true, and I am glad of it. We have heard a great deal of its application to women who are not married - why not? This measure will apply to all women by reason of their motherhood ; surely that is a perfectly sufficient -qualification. The honorable member for Ballarat said that if the measure applied only to women who were in need, little or no exception could be taken to it. I point out, however, that. one of the chief accusations hurled against the Labour party is that we do nothing but introduce class legislation. If we represent anybody, we represent the poor of the country; at any rate, I can honestly say that I do, and there are a great many poor people in my electorate. I speak from experience, and I have no doubt there are many men here who could do the same, when I say that £5 is a mighty big sum to many of our constituents, and would have been to many of us. We are accused of offering £5 to any woman without asking whether she is a Labour supporter or whether she is poor, or any other question beyond, " Are you a woman, and are you a mother; if so, you may, if you wish, take *£5."* That, I contend, is not a defect in the measure ; and its greatest distinction is that, at present, it applies to every woman. It is the ideal of the Labour party to extend old-age pensions in exactly the same way; and I most emphatically protest against the deduction made by the honorable member for Ballarat in regard to this Bill. In all this kind of legislation there should be no distinction at all; we are to assume that no citizen will apply unless he or she requires the assistance. If a woman does apply, there is an end of the matter ; she has a right to the allowance, and what more is there to be said? There is nothing new in this universal application, which is a well-settled principle. This is shown in the educational systems of Australia. Education has been taken in hand by the State after centuries of private effort - misdirected, abortive, and wholly resultless, or nearly resultless effort It was first taken in hand by the Government, and given only to those people -who were in need. It was found advisable, however, to remove some of the restrictions, and these, in time, have disappeared one by one until, in this country, education is now free to all, the richest and -the poorest alike. No one ventures to assail that principle, lt is a curious quality of our critics, and critics of reform generally, that it is only when a reform is contemplated that it is attacked ; when it becomes a well-settled institution, no one ventures to attack it, and those who have attacked, then flock around the standard, and we learn for the first time that they were its devoted adherents and advocates. I notice that even the honorable member for Flinders does not attack the educational system, although I can conceive of nothing more calculated to undermine the independence of any person with money than to be able to send his children to school and pay nothing for the privilege. We do not hear even a breath of such criticism. Why ? I think the answer is perfectly clear. There are some lengths to which even the honorable member for Flinders will not go. So much for the criticism against the general application of the Bill, irrespective of class, or social position, or political opinion. It has been suggested by the honorable member for Ballarat that, in its applition. th'is allowance ought not to be given indiscriminately or directly ; and a very great deal might be said by way of argument in that direction: The honorable member has put forward certain suggestions. He has said, for example, that we might take advantage of the local government machinery, friendly societies, hospitals, and other organizations now in existence. No doubt we might; but it is perfectly clear, I am sure, to the honorable member, and 'all of us, that, if we used any of these organizations, we could not follow the money. Whatever was done with the money would be done by them ; and while we might criticise or withdraw the allowance, we could not control the expenditure; we should hand over the money to other people, and they would expend in I am not going to say for a moment that private organizations are all guilty of lavish and unprofitable expenditure, but I do say that it is very notorious that some private organizations of that kind are. There is a good deal of money subscribed by the State and private individuals, and a good deal of it, somehow or other, does not reach the people for whom it was intended. Certainly that is not true of many organizations, but it is certainly true of some. If we had the power to. follow the expenditure of the money - to watch and criticise and to control it at every stage - it might be very desirable to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member. But we have not that power, and such a course is undesirable. It has been pointed out that this allowance may be abused. No doubt it may. The old-age pensions system is abused. Hospitals are abused every day. People go into hospitals who ought not to go there, and they keep out people who ought to go there. Every man who has been any time in the world is aware that there is a certain percentage of people whose chief aim in life seems to be to abuse the good nature and generosity both of the community and of private individuals. But I should be sorry to think, for one moment, that these people are typical of mankind. I ask honorable members to consider the case. We are dealing with women at the supreme moment of their lives. We are dealing with a principle which I suppose every one will admit to be the greatest, most fundamental, and most precious human sentiment. It is to this mother love that we owe our existence. There is absolutely nothing so closely and explicably woven into human nature as mother love. It does all things, it endures all things. We are to assume, therefore, that a woman, in any circumstances at all, will always do her best for her child. In ninety-nine cases out of one hundred all the children that are alive to-day are alive because of their mothers' love. Some figures were quoted by the Leader of the Opposition with which I quite agree. It is notorious that where little foundlings are put away from women sp that they cannot be mothered the mortality is dreadful to contemplate. We must, therefore, assume as a settled and unalterable factor in this business that women do love their children, and will spend this money in the best possible way in their interests. They will do that. It seems to be taken for granted by many, who, singularly enough, are quite unfit to speak with authority on the matter, that there is little or no need for such a grant as this in this community. I utterly deny that. The conditions existing in this community are not anything like so bad as those obtaining in the older countries of Europe, but cases do exist in the Commonwealth where many women are reduced at this supreme moment of their existence to a condition so harassed by dread of poverty and the future that their lives, and their children's futures, are hopelessly imperilled. There is not the slightest doubt of that. As one who has had a fair amount of experience amongst the poor, and endured poverty myself, I venture to say that the number of these cases is greater than is supposed. I say I should willingly cast my vote for this proposal on that ground alone, relying upon the fact that a mother will always do her very best for her child. It is perfectly true that there are men and relations of women who at the time might be inclined to take advantage of the mother. I do not deny that, but I do say that there is no machinery at the disposal of the State, or of the Commonwealth, short of the criminal law that can deal with depraved natures of that sort. We have to face the fact that 95 per cent, of the people of this country would, not be guilty of any such thing, and that if we penalize the 95 per cent, for the 5 per cent, who will abuse the allowance we shall be. condemning the whole of the community because 5 per cent, in it are unjust. We should rather be prepared to assist the community if 5 per cent, were good. I venture to say that the overwhelming majority of women who are in necessitous circumstances, or in circumstances in the remotest degree approaching the necessitous, will welcome this proposal with a joy that cannot be understood by persons who have never been poor themselves. I wish now to say something about the economic effects of this proposal. We hear a great deal from our friends on the other side about the virtue of immigration, and the fact that we need more population for this country. It is a singular thing that these gentlemen, who are everlastingly telling us that what we require is more population, should have done nothing in that direction when they had the opportunity. I have said something in another place to show how the concentrated and continued efforts of these gentlemen, who profess to be in favour of an increase of our population, resulted in an ever-diminishing band of pilgrims, who came to this country, saw it, and went away. I am now dealing with hard facts. More people have come to this country in the two and a quarter years during which the Labour Government have been in office than I believe came to it in the previous twenty years. {: .speaker-KCP} ##### Mr Gordon: -- They were brought here by the State Governments. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- When we went to the country in 19 10, what did our honorable friends opposite say? They said, "If you elect these men you will ruin the country. Ruin and stagnation will stare it in the face. The land tax will ruin it, the Commonwealth Bank, and the Australian notes, and the proposal to pay the States 253. per head of their population will ruin it." We carried all these things into law, and I read in the newspaper this morning that the clerks in the offices of the AgentsGeneral in London are reduced to despair, that they are driving people away, and are embarrassed by the hordes of people who are trampling over one another in the effort to get out to Australia. But did they do that before? Never. It was a place to be avoided as if it had the plague, when our honorable friends opposite were in office. I pass that by. Their, criticisms upon the effects of Labour in office were like the wails of the damned. I hope that their prophecies and their amazing nonfulfilment will be taken note of by the people of the country, that in turn they may be warned of the dreadful consequences that follow upon the assumption of office by our honorable friends opposite. Our oversea population, during the *regime* of Labour, has increased beyond all knowledge and beyond all precedent. Now I come to the increase of population here. The birth rate has gone up since the Labour party came in. An honorable gentleman laughs, and I do not know whether his laugh indicates that there is something in the fact in which he has reason to take pride. What I say is a solid fact. An increased marriage rate and an increased birth rate almost invariably follow periods of prosperity. When there is general depression we find a falling marriage rate and a falling birth rate. Cause and effect were never so closely allied as in this connexion during the two and a half years in which Labour has been in office. During the last two. years the marriage rate and the birth rate have gone up in the aggregate, and have gone up per cent, of population. I wish to say that what that proves conclusively is that where there is prosperity, and abundance of means, or increased means, there will be an increased birth rate, and an increase of population. Where population is desired, as it is in this country, it is most extraordinary to find gentlemen who are everlastingly talking of the value of population, deploring high wages, and grants out of the public Treasury, such as that now proposed. They will do anything in the world to get more population except those things which are essential. The report of a Royal Commission appointed by this Parliament some years ago to inquire into the birth rate, showed the extent to which certain vicious and deplorable practices prevail in our midst. The degenerate ideals of to-day are largely responsible for the decline of the birth rate. The decrease of child-bearing is not confined to Australia, but is general throughout the world ; the more civilized the country the more the practices to which the Commission referred prevail. Child bearing has become a thing to be avoided. Yet, in all countries the barren woman has been, and in some still is, regarded with aversion and contempt, and, speaking generally, that feeling is a wholesome one. Very powerful economic and ethical causes have brought about a lamentable and general perversion of a sacred and holy ideal. Such legislation as this is a wholesome antidote to a national poison. The Bill is a recognition of the value of children to the State, and of the services rendered by mothers in bearing them. By it, we attempt to assure to every woman, in the supreme trial of her life, peace of mind, skilled attendance and some measure of comfort. The effect of poverty upon illegitimacy and worse is very obvious. The result of this legislation cannot be demonstrated in figures, but it will be enormous. According to a cablegram in today's *Age,* 20 per cent, of the births in Berlin, and nearly 30 per cent, of the births in Munich, are illegitimate. Of the births taking place in the Commonwealth, only 5.84 are illegitimate, so, that illegitimacy is four times as great in Berlin, and five times as great in Munich,. as it is in Australia. But in Munich, the workmen's guilds require each candidate for admittance to produce a masterpiece to show his competency, and until a man becomes a member of the guild of the trade which he follows, he cannot marry, because he cannot get employment, or cannot get it at first-class rates. This, naturally, has its effect on the illegitimacy of the city. The earning power of the people has a very marked effect upon the birth rate. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- The honorable member need not have gone to Germany. What about the banks of Australia that refuse to allow their young men to marry until in receipt of £200 a year? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- I shall not express an opinion upon that regulation now. My point is that the industrial conditions of 1 the ' country are largely responsible for its marriage arid birth rates, and the ratio of illegitimate to legitimate births. Experience bears out the contention that the wider the diffusion of prosperity the greater the marriage and birth rates, and the fewer the illegitimate births. Illegitimacy is largely dependent upon economic conditions ; improve these, and you largely reduce it. The suggestion has been made that we should hand over the distribution of this allowance to private organizations ; but we prefer to rely upon the women of the country, and in 95 per cent, of the cases we shall be justified in that. I do not deny that there will be abuses. Every good law is abused, but civilized society is prepared to do the great good that can be done, disregarding the little evil that may accompany it. I have the assurance of the Treasurer that the Department of the Treasury Will collect the bounty for 3 per cent., andi distribute it for 1 per cent. {: .speaker-KJE} ##### Mr W H IRVINE:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA · ANTI-SOC; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917 -- What do you mean when you say they will collect it for 3 per cent. ? {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES: -- I mean the general cost of collecting the revenue. The cost of administering the Old-Age Pensions Department, and other Departments, enables the Treasury officials to speak with some degree of certainty, and this is, I submit, a point which ought not to be lost sight of. Economical administration is a matter of first importance to the country. If it is a good thing - and we submit that it is - that there should be a maternity allowance, surely it is in the last degree material that the woman should get the money, and that it should not be swallowed up in the cost of administration. Shortly, the principle at the bottom of this Bill is one adopted by every civilized nation. It is part of the warp and woof of our legislation; it remains there, and whatever certain individuals may assert to the contrary, I venture to say that the people of this country would no more tolerate the abandonment or the emasculation of our old-age and invalid pension system than they would permit of the repeal of the White Australia legislation. In every country - Germany, France, England, and elsewhere; - this kind of legislation is going on. It is the business of the State to look after its people, and it is a shortsighted and wholly wrong system of economics that teaches that the best results flow from allowing the individual to do as he best can without! guidance and without aid. We see clearly enough in these days, when production has developed so tremendously that the State must interfere in certain directions. We have seen it in the case of education; we see it in regard to hospitals. The experience of hospitals is such that I feel very sure that before long there will be a demand which will have to be yielded to by the States that they shall have greater control than they exercise now over the hospitals of our country. It has been shown clearly enough, I think, how very important it is to the women of this country that they should be assured that, at child birth, they will have sufficient to tide them over this trying time in peace, and with some degree of comfort, and receive that skill and attention which are so necessary to mothers at that time. Last year very nearly 9,000 children under the age of one year were lost to Australia; they died. How many, in addition to that number, were murdered, either by way of what is called infanticide, or in a more subtle and dreadful way, we do not know.But if we are to believe what the police tell us, we may add to the number I have already stated an equal number. This dreadful trade is plied here in our midst almost openly ; every man knows that it goes on, and no man dare say anything at all. The police seem powerless ; the law seems powerless, and the trade goes on. This measure, at any rate, shows that the State recognises the value of the child, and will do something to mitigate this dreadful evil. These causes should actuate every member of the House to support the Bill. It is one which I believe marks another stage along a road which humanity is determined to travel. I venture to say that we shall live to see stages long beyond this one taken when the State will interest itself in the child's welfare, and realize that the health of the whole people is the concern of the nation. {: #subdebate-13-0-s4 .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN:
Angas -- I do not think that the Government can complain of the treatment which this Bill has received from the only member of the Opposition who has yet spoken. Because the AttorneyGeneral, in the preface to his, in some respects, irrelevant observations, did acknowledge that the apprehension of the speech of the Leader of die Opposition in his mind was that the latter was in favour of the principle of the measure, and had not uttered a word of condemnation of its general scope. But he immediately went on to twit the Opposition with holding views which, he sought to impute to them by some impression made upon his mind on reading what he called a suburban speech of the honorable member for Flinders. One can at once see the force of his reference to these remarks when I mention that he prognosticated at once the opposition of that honorable gentleman to this Bill, because, summarizing previous alleged inferences from criticisms, he said that his remarks indicated that he did not approve of the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Act. If I remember aright, the honorable member for Flinders, who is able to take care of himself, and who, I hope, will pardon this reference by me, expressly repudiated here on one occasion the allegation that certain remarks of his indicated an opposition to the principle of old-age pensions. Then the AttorneyGeneral, after talking of the comparative ignorance of certain honorable members on the question of general economics - and he mentioned the honorable member for Flinders even there, commenting upon his want of right to pose, which I am sure he did not do, as an economic authority - himself went into an excursion on this question of economics. He mentioned, for instance, that a depression and a falling birth rate are always concomitant, and that the necessary sequence of a rise in industrial wages is higher production as regards human beings. I do not know whether he has read an interesting discussion which is proceeding in the Continental and some of the English newspapers on the question of the falling birth rate of France. It is remarkable that the very pinnacle of prosperity industrially, and so far as measured by military power, was reached last year by France. There, according to the references to population which I have read within the last two or three months, there is an increasing decline in the fertility of each family. Or if the Attorney-General wanted to go a little further he might make, for instance, a comparison between parts of the United Kingdom. I can assure him, not only from reading, but from memory, that it was not at times in Ireland when depression was unfortunately most profound that the relations and moral obligations of parenthood were most neglected. Why, the Irish families in my youth were proverbial for their extent, and I have heard very high testimony paid by Englishmen who visited my native country recently to the purity and fertility of the family relations, and the fact that no subventions of this sort are necessary to maintain the race. The AttorneyGeneral also referred to a suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition, and I think that we ought rather to be obliged to the honorable gentleman for making suggestions in connexion with the matter, which ought to be above party. He commenced, as I said, by commending the Leader of the Opposition for his apparent indorsement of the measure. The latter did not indorse the measure. He gave utterance to some humane principles which are worthy of consideration, but he did take exception to meting out to all alike, whether they want the money or not, the same consideration, which is a vital difference. But, before I pass from the question of economics, I should like to mention that when the Attorney-General drew some relation between illegitimacy in Australia, where the percentage was comparatively small, and illegitimacy in Berlin and Munich, I was rather puzzled to see where the connexion between his advocacy of this measure, and these facts came in. In looking up this question one of the materials to which I had resort was the report of the Labour Commission which visited the Continent a year or two ago. From that document I found that in the very places to which the Attorney-General referred - such places as Berlin, Munich, and Hamburg - this principle of granting an allowance in respect of children, whether legitimate or illegitimate, prevails. So that if one wished to misapply logic - and I think the consideration of a measure of this character ought to place us above that temptation - it would be open to me, in ~reply to the AttorneyGeneral, to say that, on the very figures which he gave, a maternity allowance would lead to an increase of illegitimacy. But I do not say that. His statistics show that where, apart from insurance, a gratuitous allowance or provision is made in connexion with maternity, the percentage of illegitimacy is highest. However, I will leave that aspect of the question.. But there is one matter to which the Attorney-General made reference, which justifies me in making a short excursion into the law on this matter. In reply to the helpful suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition that, perhaps, our obligations to humanity might be expressed by subventions to friendly societies, he hinted that there was a weakness in our constitutional powers. I happened to be a member of a Commission which investigated a cognate matter about twenty years ago, and I propose to quote the addendum to a recommendation that we made on the subject. The AttorneyGeneral stated that the Government could not give effect to the very commendable Suggestion of the honorable member for Ballarat because they had not the power to create the necessary machinery. I ask the head of the Law Department whether he thinks we have the power to create machinery for the purposes of this Bill? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- What he said was that We could not follow the grant. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- There is one point which must strike anybody in looking at our constitutional powers, and in that connexion I intend to make only one or two suggestions. I hope that they will be unbiased. If the Attorney-General meant that we cannot create machinery for the purposes of this measure, he may be correct ; and, if so, the Bill in that respect may be outside our constitutional powers. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- His words were that we could not follow the money. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- I refer to the law, because, although we may have the power to make an appropriation, we may not have the power of putting in incidental machinery provisions. If he meant that we could not follow the money and see to its application in the case of friendly societies, surely he is not *so* lacking in expedients - if he approves the principle - that he cannot make a grant to the States and charge them, with the duty of seeing that it is administered as it ought to be, -or that he cannot provide as a penalty for the misapplication of the allowance that no subsequent subvention shall be made to the friendly society concerned. I cannot understand the effort of the Attorney-General to discount the helpful suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition. I come now to the question of our constitutional powers. Our Constitution is somewhat different from that of the United States. Section 87 of our Constitution has been modified, if it has not been entirely abrogated, by the Surplus Revenue Act of 1910. May I remind the Attorney-General, who pleased some honorable members of his own party when he drew attention to what he regarded as the falsification of the prophesies of lawyers in this House concerning the validity of certain Bills, that the honorable member for Flinders and myself, amongst others, distinctly stated - although from a party point of view the statement may have been an indiscreet one - that we considered the Surplus Revenue Bil] of 1906-7 was perfectly valid. I might cite other instances of the fairness of honorable members upon this side, of the chamber who have expressed opinions on various measures - opinions which have subsequently been sustained by the High Court. The Surplus Revenue Act of 1910 provides that, after a certain date, section 87 of the Constitution shall cease to have effect, so far as it affects the power of the Commonwealth to apply any portion of the net revenue of Customs and Excise towards its expenditure, and so far as it affects the payment of any balance by the Commonwealth to the several States. That, I presume, abrogates section 87 of the Constitution under which any unexpended portion of the Commonwealth's one-fourth share of the Customs and Excise revenue had to be paid to the States. Whether clause 94 of the Constitution can be affected by our legislation is a matter about which there is some doubt. That section provides for the payment by the Commonwealth of surplus revenue to the States after five years of bookkeeping in any way that the Commonwealth may determine. It may be that the States are entitled to" all unappropriated surplus revenue, or that section 94 was ancillary to expired sections, and so may be affected by our legislation. I use the word " unappropriated " deliberately, because, so long as we make an appropriation, as we do under Trust Funds, no claim can be set up by the States.- Let us see what light we can get on this matter by reference to the American Constitution. In passing, I may mention that there are two provisions in our Constitution which relate to the payment of bounties, namely, section 91 and sub-section in. of section 51, which, by expressly giving us power to grant bounties, may imply a limitation on our powers to appropriate for the same purpose in other directions. It is implied by Marshall, in the case of *McCulloch* v. *Maryland,* that, in imposing a tax, the Legislature acts on its constituents. In other words, for an abuse of taxation power, the remedy is political, and not constitutional. In *Willoughby* on the Constitution, a passage occurs which I may be excused for quoting at length. In referring to the argument that all taxation must be imposed, and all appropriations must be made for public purposes, he says - >In fact, however, the limitation that an appropriation must he for a public purpose has been without practical effect, as the Courts have in no case attempted to hold invalid an appropriation by Congress on the ground that it has been for a purpose not public in character, and, as regards the restriction that appropriations shall be in aid of enterprises which the Federal Government is empowered to undertake, the doctrine has become an established one that Congress may appropriate money in aid of matters which the Federal Government is not constitutionally able to administer. Theprincipal case referred to by *Willoughby* was one as to the power of Congress to make an appropriation for internal improvements within a State. That power was upheld, but the significant commentary is made by President Monroe, who issued a very able, and, apparently, authoritative, paper on the point - >But the use and application of the money after it is raised is a power altogether of a different character. It imposes no burden on the people, nor can it act on them, in a sense, to take power from the State.- This is the point - or in any sense in which power can be controverted, or become a question between the two Governments. The implication from that is - and Monroe supports it by his summary at the end - that if an appropriation did raise a question of power between the two Governments and indicated an attempt to encroach upon the State province by an appropriation, not expressly within the Federal province, it might be beyond the power of Congress. This proposal may be questioned, owing, in the first place, to the possibility of there being a constitutional provision that the surplus revenue must be paid to the States. If that is so, according to the suggestion of President Monroe it may be that a question between the two arises which puts a limitation upon our power to make the appropriation. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Professor Harrison Moore makes a somewhat similar statement. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- I have not had time to look into all the authorities. But even if there is a doubt upon the matter, if the policy is sound, the Government should not hesitate to enact it. Why should we hesitate, merely because we have a doubt as to our rights, to pass Bills in furtherance of a particular policy? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I have even heard people say that it is doubtful whether we are legallysitting here. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- Sometimes it may be doubtful whether we are physically sitting here. We have heard the AttorneyGeneral's reference to what may happen after the next election, but, according to Berkeley's theory of physics, it would be physically impossible for it to happen, because you cannot kick any one off anything. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Did he notsay there was no matter? {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- What we say is that nothing appears to matter to honorable members opposite. There are one or two conditions of a healthy, industrial, social and domestic life, of which the legislator must take account. In the first place, and above all things, the fair remuneration of labour should be our aim, and, in the next, we ought not to forget the desirableness of having a high level of individual character. I belong to the school who think that legislation may undoubtedly conduce to the one, for the unregulated play of competition, of tupply and demand, as the history of industrial relations attests, seldom, if ever, insures a fair and adequate remuneration of labour; but that we can do very little by our legislation towards the attainment of the other. I believe that history shows that no nation's character was ever made, although the vigour and virility of many people have been marred, by bureaucratic and legislative philanthropy. As a matter of fact, one might say, in deference to the Ministry, that to mean well and to act wisely are not necessarily the same thing The public men of the Roman Republic undoubtedly meant well when they indulged in the policy of the gratuitous distribution of corn. But by weakening the manhood of the Roman citizen, whom their agrarian policy and growing luxury had first impoverished, they precipitated the decline of dominions once as potent and imperial as our own - an empire that was built up by a people as practical, as prosaic, as enterprising, as eminent in the lines of political and industrial activity as the British themselves. I read a few nights ago the statement of a Roman poet, that Nature, the parent of things, brings everything to the utmost limit of its growth. We know that disposition, self-reliance, mental and moral vigour and efficiency - in fact, all those qualities that give dignity and effectiveness to the individual and supremacy to the race, come, after Nature's way, from conflict with opposing conditions, and the development of personal aptitudes. Granted a fair field for merit, equal opportunity to all to make the best of conditions in which their lot is cast, the less the State interferes with the promptings of individual and domestic interests, of parental instincts, and filial affection, the better for the grit of the citizen and the standing of the nation. The fact is, we cannot play or interfere with Nature without paying the penalty in impaired faculties or disordered functions. Every artificial aid to natural operations and processes eventually produces atrophy ; so that when, by a course of misapplied eugenics, the legislator has killed romance and shelved love - when, forgetting that, as **Sir Thomas** Browne reminds us, Nature is the art of God, he has touched with, his paternalism and latest notions of conception and birth, the most powerful and effective feeling and instinct of all creation - he may find, too late, that he has destroyed those healthy, and, on the whole, unerring impulses of personal attraction and repulsion that make for the propagation of what is best in the race, and has made man alone incapable of those parental selfsacrifices and solicitudes which, throughout the whole of animated nature, have in them so much that is redeeming and divine. The most sacred and disinterested of all relations, that of parent and child, is based upon altruistic self-denial and selfsurrender, and it is this devotion of self to the lives of others that is the real source of the holiest of human affections. Having said something of what seems to me to be the ethical, and too much neglected, aspect of the matter, may I pass on to acknowledge that one of our aspirations ought to be to raise to the very highest point that is consistent with the general rights of the rest of the community, the remuneration of the masses. With our honorable friends opposite I think we are - in spirit at all events, although we may differ as regards the method - in absolute consonance on this point. These aids are required only in a comparatively low state of industrial remuneration. For instance, the free dispensary system was, undoubtedly, the concomitant of conditions that have happily passed away, I trust for ever. I do not believe that any British people, educated and enfranchised, with the power of the suffrage that they have, will ever tolerate by their legislation, or by halting from legislation, a reversion to the conditions of times when men drudged long hours for pretty short commons - for a miserable pittance that very often did nothing more than keep the wolf from the door, while it left the home without any of those comforts and accessories that belong to the ordinary decencies of civilized life, and brightened only by the innocent faces of children, who happily, by a dispensation of Providence, seem always to be unconscious of even the most miserable surroundings. While there was a time when free dispensaries and many other aids to benevolence were necessary in order to accomplish objects of the class which the Ministry have within their commendable intentI am not impugning their motives - nevertheless- the system debilitated to some extent the character of the people. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Do you think that free art galleries would interfere with the stamina of the race? {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- How can the character of the people be debilitated by anything that stimulates their aesthetic sense ? We are not dealing here with aesthetics. We deal sometimes with the philosophy of morals, even on a Bill of the class which has been introduced to-day, but what we have to regard are the hard facts of human relations, expressed in the question whether a due proportion of reward is given to acknowledged merit. Incidentally we must touch upon the possible effect upon the grit and character of the individual of the paternal legislation we may place upon the statute-book. The free dispensaries were described by the author of a *Handbook of Charity Organization* as - , A vast school of pauperism demoralizing the honest poor, educating them in improvident habits, and teaching them, in one of the most vital departments of life, to be thriftless and dependent. I do not altogether agree with that, but if you carry your philanthropy in this matter beyond what one would consider to be reasonable limits, you may ultimately interfere with the grit and stamina of the race. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Do you think this Bill goes so far as that? {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- I am afraid it will tend in that direction. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- If we had free railways, would it interfere with the grit of the people ? {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- Perhaps the honorable member belongs to that school of economics which has put forward that proposition for the last twenty-five years. 1 am. not going to give him gratuitous advice to-night on that subject, because it is not pertinent to the Bill. I think the principle embodied in the suggestions of the Leader of the Opposition was that our endeavour ought to be to help -those who help themselves, and not to give 90 per cent, of the people a grant which is required only to cover the deplorable condition of, perhaps, 10 per cent. The principle of selfhelp is undoubtedly that upon which Lloyd-George's Act of last year is based, and that is only the carrying out of legislation which was begun ten or twelve years previously. They began in this matter in the Old Country with the Midwives Act of 1902. I find that the hope of those who promoted that measure, that the standard of the poorer homes in cleanliness, in hygiene, in medical comforts at this critical period of a woman's life would be substantially raised, has been partly realized ; but, with that curse which seems always to fasten upon even the best intentions of some men, they have so standardized their methods of application, treating all children alike, that the Midwives Act has, to some extent, broken down. The individual equation is absolutely ignored by the philanthropists who placed the Bill upon the statute-book. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Is the honorable member referring to the South Australian Act? {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- No; to the Act of Great Britain. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- -We have not one in Victoria, even yet. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- I am sorry that Victoria does not turn more often to South Australia for an example. We of that State have given the rest of Australia a lead in some things. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Hear, hear ! I think your State institution for children is the best in the world. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- I shall refer to that shortly. We find that Lloyd-George's Act is based upon contributions by those who receive the benefits. The industrial remuneration of the English operative is much less than it ought to be, and considerably less than it is here. Are we less capable of establishing a successful contributory scheme than they are in the Old Country ? Have they ever asked there for subventions of this sort? Are we likely to raise the standard of ethics here, to raise the standard of character here, by always doing directly from the State, without con tributions from the individual, what they never hesitate at Home to apportion between the State and the individual concerned? {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Your Leader said that the poorer people contribute the greater part of the revenue. Surely, therefore, they pay a good deal in that way ? {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- Who are responsible for that state of things? We can alter it by a different fiscal arrangement if we like. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- That is an easy way to get out of it. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- I do not want to get out of it. I have always pleaded that our prime source of taxation, the one which is really effective - the Customs and Excise - pressed with undue severity upon the pockets of the poor and those of moderate incomes. So that, if the honorable member wants to increase in the people the capacity to contribute towards an effective scheme, he can easily do it by modifying the benevolent policy that enabled him to put those fiscal measures upon the statutebook. *Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.* {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- Lloyd-George's Act provides that after twenty-six contributions the maternity allowance shall be 30s., and there is also provision for any member of an allowance of 7s. 6d. a week for four weeks. That weekly allowance applies to the contributing mother, whether married or single. The other does not. The justification advanced for it in England may be found in a statement by the Poor Law Commission that an enormous amount of unemployment was due to physical inefficiency, so that the State was justified in subsidizing the voluntary efforts of people to do something for their own good. The Swiss law is based upon a similar principle. There, medical attendance and sickness benefit is provided for six weeks after confinement, and there is, in addition, a grant of 20 francs,, which is similar to the maternity allowance of this Bill, with an addition of 20 francs fo every mother who herself nurtures her child for four weeks after confinement. The Swiss law, I think, is based, like Lloyd-George's Act, on the principle of some contribution from those who can afford to pay something, but asks nothing from those whose means are too small for any drain to be made upon them. The German system of insurance is also based upon contributions, and a recent amendment grants a sum equal to a maternity allowance for a maximum period of six weeks' pregnancy. This Bill contains no such provision, although that might be the time of greatest necessity. But it is a fair comment that if credit is assured, the amount required will be found. I think that either the Prime Minister or one of his followers interjected something to that effect during the course of the debate. One of the leading writers upon national insurance, Comyns Carr, in a book upon Lloyd-George's Act, justifies help being given either through organizations or directly in many cases. He says - >The public can hardly realize what a vast amount of sickness and disablement result from neglect at confinement and during the lying-in period, and if it were for no other reason than to save the insurance funds, it is essential that every attempt should be made to make approved societies and insurance committees provide the best possible allowance and treatment in maternity cases. There again the suggestion is to make use of the agency of the friendly societies on the lines of the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition. There is a German Federal Act which has not been mentioned by the Prime Minister. The Imperial Law of Settlement of 1870 and 1894 gives Federal relief to necessitous persons- without any contribution. But that law is worked through State agencies. The Federal Government will have nothing to do with the distribution at all, because it thinks that it is better to work through the States or the complements of the German Union, whose agencies can come directly into touch with the people affected. Honorable members will find this matter dealt with in a report of the Commission of 19 10 - a Commission, I think, of Labour members who visited the Continent to inquire into this subject. They point out that the relief afforded is not indiscriminate. Taking Hamburg as a test city, they state in their report that less than 2 per cent - the exact figures are 1.94 - of the people are helped in this way. There is an inquiry made to what extent there is need for assistance, which this Bill absolutely ignores ; and the benefits include a midwifery allowance, and extend to the mothers of illegitimate children, But there is no fixed scale, because in every case an inquiry is made as to the extent of the necessity. Medical and obstetrical attention is provided out of the Federal grant. The mother of the child - of an illegitimate child, for instance - may be, attended to at home, or may acquire gratuitously the services of a municipal doctor, or may prefer to go to one of the usual maternity homes which are subsidized by the Federal Government. The distinction I point out there is that the objects aimed at by the Prime Minister in this Bill, and by the German Federation, are alike- to be humane where necessity requires it. But my objection to this Bill is that it goes beyond the clear necessity. Passing from European countries, I should like to call attention to what is done in South Australia, because I take the position that voluntary assistance, in co-operation with the administration of State Acts, has been found at all events nearly adequate in South Australia, and eventually may be found fully adequate. In that State there is a lying-in home for the very poor, and for single women, without cost. It is controlled, I think, by the Destitute Board. It provides a home for the mother and child, free, for at least six months. Similar provision is made by the House of Mercy, Walkerville, by the Anglicans, by the Roman Catholics at the refuge at Fullarton, and by that very excellent institution the Salvation Army. There is also provision for married women at low rates. Maternity provision is afforded at an institution beautifully situated at Rose Park. Then there is the Destitute Board, which makes provision for children of all ages, and takes charge of children who have no parents, or are without a home. I could enumerate a number of private and semi-public agencies that meet the object desired by the Prime Minister in relation to his Bill. I should also like to mention that under our Acts the father is, of course, responsible for the maintenance of his children. He is responsible to make provision before birth, and, if he leaves the State, he can be brought back. In this Parliament we have, I think, a Bill on the file to amend the State Records and Judgments Act. By this measure, it is hoped that reciprocal assistance will be more facile than it is under the existing arrangement. In South Australia., a man who is the father, or the putative father, of a child is obliged to make provision for the coming necessities of the mother ; and for that, this Bill does not provide. I happen to be a member of the Council which has the control of this business, and I cannot absolutely say that the arrangement has been effective to the full extent desired, but it has, to a large extent, got rid of that great evil of selfish parentage ignoring its obligations. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- It fails largely because of the publicity. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr GLYNN: -- That may be so; I do not know; but I should say that the possibility of publicity might operate at a more critical time. In 1910, there were 77, 466 persons receiving sick pay through the ministrations of friendly societies in Australia, and the total amount paid for medical attendance, and on death was £485,824 - a pretty large voluntary provision. If we subsidized the outlay of those ' societies so as to make their benefits cover the very object of this Bill, and also meet cases of clear necessity, we should do as much as ought to be expected from any Legislature. I am entitled to take this point of view, because, in an addendum to a report on the question of old-age pensions in 1898, I said, qualifying some of the objectionsurged even to old-age pensions - >The objections advanced with questioned force against the State pension system - that it would tend to impair the dignity of human life, increase facilities for pauper existence, and check the development of a healthy spirit of independence^ - do not to the same extent apply to State aid to providence through friendly _ societies. The people themselves would create and work the machinery, and the extent of a genuine desire for a pension, in old age would be a measure of the system's success. We have old-age pensions, and I accepted the .principle of the States providing them ; but beyond that, anything we do ought to be through the friendly societies, using, as far as we can, the agency of the States. We have, perhaps, control of the biggest amount of revenue, and therefore our funds may be more legitimately drawn upon for the necessary supplies. There are two States to which I might refer for the lessons they teach - Imperial Rome and democratic Athens. I have already referred to Rome incidentally, and to the effect of the *largesse* and luxury on the character of its citizens ; so it will suffice if I simply say, with Gibbon, that " a time came when the Roman world was peopled by a race of pigmies, when the fierce giants of the north broke in and mended the puny breed. They restored a manly spirit of freedom, and, after the revolution of centuries, freedom became the happy parent of taste and science. Let us now turn to Athens - to Greece - small, poor, but ever of heroic mould. " In all the work they did for us," says Zimmer, "and all they wished and tried to do they were straining the tiny human strength of their own unaided idealism against the heavy dead weight of material forces which they could neither control nor understand. When we feel tempted to reproach them with all they left undone, let us rather remember the pluck and cheerfulness, and endurance, socharacteristic of the poor, with which they maintained the unequal combat." And headds, " It was the doom of Athens that, poverty and impossibility dwelt in her from: first to last. It is to the immortal glory of her citizens that, though they were too clear-eyed' not to behold them, they bravely refused to submit, either in mind or body, to the squalid tyranny which they have imposed on the great mass of mankind." And what Athens valued in her women also were self-mastery, self-forgetfulness, courage, and gentleness. It was, we are told, the Greek wife's hope and prayer that, according to immemorial tribal tradition, she might never fail to give the State its quota of living souls. Of necessarily simple life and many household economies, her sense of civic duty, marital respect, and reciprocated affection were enough to make her accept and' long for the cares and compensations of parenthood ; realizing, in her case, the never-failing experience of every robust and regenerate people, that, since all nature sighs to be renewed, the pure relations of wedded life, and the exuberant joy of motherhood in the vicarious sufferings of the domestic hearth, may be trusted to maintain and multiply the quality and numbers of every temperate, virile, and selfrespecting race. **Mr. PAGE** (Maranoa) [8.1J.- If one thing more than another has ever made my blood tingle through my veins at a. faster pace, it was the encouraging wordsused by the Prime Minister to-day in introducing this measure. Above all things, the Labour party stands for the uplifting of the human race. There is not one man on this side of the House but has felt the want of £5 at some time or another; and I am not afraid, or ashamed, to own that: when my first-born saw the light in London there was only 18s. between my wife,, child, and self, and starvation. When we hear the Prime Minister say what this. Bill is going to do for the people of this vast continent, I can only wish more power to him, and more power to the party te* which we belong. It is all very well for the honorable member for Angas to tell us what the Greeks did - how their race wasimproved, and how poverty made them " stand up to the collar." We do not want anything of that sort in Australia; at any rate, I do not. If I pride myself on anything, it is on being associated with the noble band of men behind this Ministry, who have introduced old-age and invalid pensions, and have supported those reforms through thick and thin. We were at one time told that all those ideas were chimerical - that they were all in the clouds - and many years ago we were defamed by every newspaper in the country. To-day, however, these reforms are an established fact. This afternoon we have had an exhibition of rail -straddling such as I never saw before. On one occasion the honorable member for Bourke likened the honorable member for Ballarat to a bird springing from branch to branch - an elusive bird which, though it seemed sure to be caught, always escaped by hopping to another branch. To-day we have had an exhibition of the same tactics. The honorable member for Ballarat did not speak as Leader of the Opposition, but spoke for himself. Is there any man on the Opposition side of the House who is "game" to say that he does not believe in this proposal? I venture to say that there is not one; and, so far as the Labour party is concerned, I am sure honorable members on this side are quite willing to carry this question before the country. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- That is all the Labour party desire it for. {: #subdebate-13-0-s5 .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- There it is; the honorable gentleman has let the cat out of the bag. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Your cat. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- So far as I am concerned, I do not require this proposal to go to the country ; no one knows that better than does the honorable member for Ballarat. I give him an invitation now to come up and wallop me in the Maranoa, and I will give him the maternity bonus in. I make the honorable gentleman another sporting offer; I shall undertake not to address a single meeting in the Maranoa. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- That would not be fair, because if the honorable member addressed a meeting, that would kill his chance. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- The electors of Maranoa know me, and they know the honorable gentleman better. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Only through the honorable member. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Well, I have never said anything bad about the honorable gentleman. The honorable member for Angas said that we should allow the friendly societies to distribute the maternity allowance. Does the honorable gentleman know anything of the working of friendly societies? How are they to alleviate the suffering of the women we desire to relieve, and who are the outcasts of society ? Notwithstanding what was said of the remark by the honorable member for East Sydney about " woman to woman being no good," a truer statement was never made in this House. The honorable member put it in a very crude way, but his statement was true all the same. There are no people on the face of the earth so harsh in their treatment of fallen women as are their fellowwomen. We have had some who call themselves the " ladies," not the " women," of Victoria, who have had the cool effrontery to speak on this question in public at some of the tea-fights and bun scrambles which the honorable member for Ballarat patronizes occasionally. The honorable member for Kooyong also patronizes such gatherings. I should like to ask the honorable member what has become of the great political salon which he inaugurated before the last election, and at which he was going to have the *crime de la crime* of political society? It was his speeches at those tea-fights and bun scrambles that lost the honorable member his seat in the Senate. He is following the same evil courses now, and they will have the same effect at the next Federal elections. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- The honorable member's *crime de la crime* is below the standard in butter fat. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- That is so; and I believe the honorable gentleman was prosecuted by the electors, who found him guilty, and jerked him out. {: .speaker-JPC} ##### Sir Robert Best: -- They jerked him in again pretty quickly. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- That is the easiest thing in the world. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Is the honorable member going to connect these remarks with the question before the House? {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Yes, sir. It was not by the support of the maternity allowance that the honorable member was returned for Kooyong, but by the most unholy political rush I ever witnessed between the honorable member and " Number *66* Bourke-street." Getting back to the honorable member for Angas, I should like to know what the honorable member knows of the working of friendly societies. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- As a matter of fact, I was asked to lecture on the subject a few months ago, and studied as hard as I could on the point. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- The honorable gentleman should have come to some of us who have been members of friendly societies for the best part of our lives. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- 1 may be mistaken, but I did not speak without some knowledge of the subject. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- The honorable gentleman is very much mistaken. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- The honorable member forgets that Lloyd-George adopts their machinery. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- -We are ahead of LloydGeorge. This is a progressive age, but politically Australia leads the world in everything. The honorable member for Angas may believe that I am trying to teach my grandmother how to suck eggs, but I wish to say that honorable members on this side desire, not only to make the conditions of life in Australia better than they are in the Old Land, but to make this country the brightest spot in the world. I honestly think that we are on the right track. There are some honorable members opposite who have the courage of their convictions, and occasionally tell the truth. They do not know what they say, or how they say it, and do not know that they have told the truth until they see it in cold print. Some of them go round addressing meetings of women in different parts of this State, but when the reports of their meetings appear in cold print, we find that the large gatherings of women they addressed are represented by twenty or thirty at the most of the old tabbies or disgruntled old maids of Victoria. What sympathy have they with motherhood ? None at all. The honorable member for Flinders addressed a large and enthusiastic meeting of the Women's National League at Murrumbeena the other day. One newspaper described it as an immense gathering, but the truth came out a few days later, and we found that there were twenty-five people there. That was the large gathering at which the honorable gentleman made another policy speech for the Opposition. As a matter of fact, the Opposition do not know where they are. One section gives the electors a gelatinous compound, and at another gathering the honorable member for Flinders gives them political pap for children, and at a later meeting says that he did not mean what he had said, but something else. That describes the position of the Opposition in connexion with this Bill. If the honorable member for Fawkner were present, I should recommend him to take the honorable member for Ballarat out to some of his stations on the Barcoo and Thompson, and engage him as a fencer. The honorable and learned gentleman is the champion fencer of Australia. He is a past master in the art of political fencing. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- The honorable member makes me blush. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Does not the honorable gentleman make himself blush when he gets up on the fence? He hops up so lightly that I could not imitate him. He then hops down again like a parrot after seed on the ground. I never knew a greater political fencer. This afternoon, he commenced his speech on this Bill very well, but it was not very long before he had his coat-tails pulled by the honorable member for Parramatta, who whispered sweet nothings into his pink ear. The honorable gentleman then immediately said, " I am addressing myself to this question, not as Leader of the Opposition." Then some one - I do not know whether it was the exPostmasterGeneral or the exAttorneyGeneral - gave him the tip, and turning round valiantly, like the Duke of York addressing his troops, he said, " I believe I am voicing the sentiment of every man behind me on this side of the House." Does he want us to think that the Opposition has not held a caucus in regard to this proposal? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- I do. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- That it has not had a' meeting in regard to it? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- It has not held one. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Then honorable members are waiting for to-morrow's trains, so that there may be a caucus of the members of the party in both Houses. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- That will be too late. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr PAGE: -- Yes. The Prime Minister has forestalled the Opposition for once. I have been in this Parliament since the inception of Federation, and, if it please God to give me good health, shall remain here a day or two longer ; but no vote that I have given, and no vote that I shall give, will cause me greater pleasure than the vote foc the maternity allowance. {: #subdebate-13-0-s6 .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK:
Bendigo -- Honorable members must have been delighted with the breezy speech of the honorable member for Maranoa. We are pleased to hear him at any time, but on the present occasion he seemed to outdo himself in enthusiasm, energy, and emotion. I congratulate him on his long, consistent, and useful Federal career, and hope that he will long remain in his present position. He is entitled to all credit for the manner in which he advocated old-age pensions ; but I ask him when he discovered his zeal for a maternity allowance. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- I have felt it all my life. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- Then it is strange that the honorable member has given no expression to it on the floor of this Chamber, or in his speeches elsewhere. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- The papers will not report me. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- The' same remark may be made concerning the members of his party generally. The lightning-like rapidity with which this new plank has found a place in the platform of the party is surprising. We had not heard of the proposal before the beginning of the present session, and it is to be marvelled at that a scheme, propounded with so much enthusiasm, has not before found a place in the official programme of the Labour party, or some other political party. But even now the programme of the Federal Labour party, and *the* programmes of the State Labour parties, make no allusion to a proposal for a maternity allowance. This scheme owes its initiative to the present Government. If the matter is of such great urgency and importance, why was it not brought forward years ago? This is new-born zeal . The proposal seems to have originated in the brain of the AttorneyGeneral, who thought of it as a good party cry, likely to be popular, and to create enthusiasm. No doubt, in the flush of its novelty, it had a certain dramatic force and interest, but opinion in regard to it is now divided in all sections of the community. The proposal must be dealt with on its merits, and viewed from the economic, philanthropic and public stand-point. _ It has drawn attention to a subject of considerable interest and importance, and should be dealt with in a fair, reasonable, and practical spirit. The first question to engage attention is whether there has been any public demand for the legislation now submitted, and the second is whether this legislation is needed, or can be justified. Parliament has the right to initiate any scheme of social reform that it may think fit, but its function is rather to interpret the desires and needs' of the people, and to consider them in the light of the public welfare. Parliament should neither go too far ahead of public opinion, nor lag too far behind. Were there a general demand for legislation of this kind, it would have found expression at the elections, and in party conferences. At the last Labour Conference, held in January, 191 2, the Federal Labour programme was reconsidered and revised, and the party had an opportunity to add this plank to its platform, but it did not do so. And yet that was not done. I do not think that it was suggested by any of the many hundreds of Labour leagues to be found in various parts of the country who had an opportunity of sending in hints or suggestions for the guidance of the Conference. {: .speaker-KHU} ##### Mr Howe: -- We have it embodied in our plank for the protection of child life. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- A member for New South Wales proposed that a system of compulsory contributory insurance against sickness, accident, motherhood, and old age, with discrimination in favour of large families, should be added to the Labour programme, but even that modified scheme was not carried. The Prime Minister was present at the Conference, but now he says that this proposal for a maternity grant embodies one of the dreams of his life. If he was dreaming about it when he was at the Hobart Conference that was a very suitable opportunity for him to show his desire to give practical realization to his dream, and yet we do not find that he made any suggestion to add this maternity grant to the Labour programme at Hobart. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- On the contrary, he gave all this legislation a douche of cold water. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- The idea was not thought of then, and until within a few weeks of the opening of this session it was not suggested in any practical shape or form. {: .speaker-KHU} ##### Mr Howe: -- It was on the State programme. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- It is not on the Federal programme, and that is the one with which I am dealing. {: .speaker-KHU} ##### Mr Howe: -- Very well. We want to make our programme wider. We have taken it up. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- If the State Labour parties wanted to put it on the State platforms, why did not they do so? The reason is obvious. It was never considered as being within the realm of practical politics, or within the sphere of Federal politics, until a very recent date, and now it finds a sudden appearance in the shape in which it finds expression in this Bill. At the time of the Hobart Conference attention was drawn to the system in force in New Zealand, which was a compound of private contributions towards an insurance fund, assisted by a Government subsidy or guarantee. That scheme was presented for consideration at the Conference, and received some support, but it was not adopted. I shall come to it presently. I merely wish to illustrate at this stage, in support of my argument that there has been no public demand for legislation of this kind, the absence of any movement in that direction by the Leaders of the House, or by the dominant party here until within a few weeks of the opening of this session, and now we are confronted with the practical proposition contained in the Bill which the Prime Minister admits embodies a form of policy that has never yet been submitted to the people of the country for their approval. I think it must be generally admitted that the proposal comes as a surprise, not only to the House, but also to the people of Australia generally. However much support and glee it may have excited in Labour circles, it undoubtedly has caused surprise and curiosity, and almost feelings of incredulity in other quarters. I venture to say that the bulk of the public have not yet fully realized the significance of this important proposition, and have hardly had time, many of them, to make up their minds, and they will have just reason to complain if Parliament is taken by surprise in being required to come to a decision upon a question of such vast importance involving a large expenditure without the electoral body having been consulted on ' the question of propriety or policy. I wish now to deal with the second question, which I think ought to be considered, arid that is whether there is any public necessity for a proposal of this great importance, financial as well as economic? One would think from the pathetic speech of the Prime Minister, the pathetic appeal of the Attorney-General, and the speech of the honorable member for Maranoa, that Australia was about the most uncivilized and the most uncharitable country in the world. One would think that in Australia there was no provision made by public or Government agencies, or by private agencies, for the relief of distress in poor humanity. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- No. That is the one .thing I object to - pauperism. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- One would think that we were a most mean, niggardly com munity, not a liberal, generous community. I think that such a suggestion is unworthy of any critic or member of the House. It is a reflection upon the liberality, the generosity, and the kindly disposition of the people of Australia to say that there is no provision for the majority of the cases which this Bill is intended to meet. {: .speaker-KXO} ##### Mr Page: -- That is a bogy of your own. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- The facts, the figures, and the records of Australian history show that there is no country on the face of the earth where the people are so liberal, so generous, and so kindly disposed in relieving and assisting those who require relief and help, whether it be in maternity or other form of trouble, as in Australia. The record is most honorable and most creditable. Long before this maternity proposition ever found expression in this Bill, the people of this country had not been neglectful, but had been attentive to their duties of citizenship in endeavouring to make provision for cases of the kind contemplated by its provisions. I find that it is not very easy to make up a complete record of what Australia spends in endeavouring to relieve every form of distress or invalidity that is entitled to consideration, but here are a few of the headings of expenditure in Australia during 19 10, which I have compiled from **Mr. Knibbs'** valuable work : - General hospitals, £800,000 ; benevolent asylums, -£190,000 ; orphanages* £72j°°°J State Children Relief Boards, reformatory and industrial schools, and boarding out children, £244,646 ; making a total of £1,306,646. These headings do not include blind asylums, dumb and deaf asylums, maternity homes, lying-in hospitals, midwifery wards, foundling hospitals, refuges, and rescue homes, nor do they include old-age pensions. **Mr. Knibbs** is not able to give full and complete particulars of the money which is expended under this heading." Probably if the whole of the figures were available, the record would speak trumpet-tongued in favour of the liberality of the people of Australia in this direction. In reply to a letter which I wrote to him asking for particulars, **Mr. Knibbs** says - >In regard to your inquiry ,of the 20th instant, it seems impossible to get anything like a definite return of female refuges and relief institutions and agencies, since the functions for which such institutions are established are performed by many charities in which the care and protection of women comprises but a small proportion of the total activity, Maternity homes and lying-in hospitals undoubtedly frequently partake of the nature of refuges, since they furnish a shelter for unmarried as well as for married women, and illegitimate births sometimes far outnumber legitimate births, as at the Women's Hospital, in Carlton. In New South Wales, out of thirty-three charitable institutions exclusive!)' for females, about fifteen *perform* their chief function as refuges. In Victoria, the number of refuges returned is ten, but probably two foundling hospitals and three Salvation Army rescue homes should be added, as it is' believed that these are largely refuges. In Queensland, seven institutions appear to be mainly refuges. In South Australia, the destitute asylum has a midwifery department, and, besides other institutions for women, there are seven refuges. In Western Australia, including the House of Mercy, the number is six. For Tasmania, no refuge institutions, as such, are returned, but it is known that there is a home in Hobart. Orphanages and reformatories are in all cases omitted. It if were possible to ascertain and definitely formulate the amount received from State subsidies and private contributions, which proceed from the liberality of citizens, it would add largely to the credit of the people, financially expressed, in support of the cause with which this Bill is largely supposed to deal. But no definite record can be obtained. **Mr. Knibbs** says that on the whole there is proof which justifies the expenditure, Government and private, in aid of all these charitable and relieving institutions being set down last 3'ear at ^2,200,000. If we add to that the expenditure upon invalid* and oldage pensions, which is approximately ^2,400,000, we find that the enormous sum of ^4,600,000 is annually being spent by the various Governments of the Australian States in organized and systematic effort to relieve poverty and distress. That record is one which ought not to be forgotten, but which ought to be presented as an answer to any such suggestion as has found expression here to-day, that the people of Australia are not doing their duty. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Does the honorable member say that there is no reason for this Bill ? . {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- I say that no proof has been submitted that the existing agencies in the direction mentioned have not fairly discharged their duty. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Is the honorable member opposed to the Bill ? {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- There may be individual cases of hardship which have not come under the notice of these various organizations, but the mere existence of isolated cases does not justify any legislation which upon its face appears to reflect upon the charitable instincts of the people of the Commonwealth. From what has been said upon this measure, one would think that there were hundreds of women dying, hundreds of families who were unable to provide for events which occur in the history of families, and hundreds of girls perishing in the streets. If honorable members will refer to the records of Victoria they will find that, as a result of Government assistance and private contributions, splendid organized efforts are being made to alleviate suffering. In the *Victorian Year-Booh* for 1910-n there are pages devoted to supplying exhaustive information in regard to various foundling hospitals, infant homes, refuges for women, Salvation Army rescue homes, night shelters, and institutions of that character which are engaged in this good work. In justice to those who are responsible for the conduct of these institutions, I would like to mention the names of some of them. I submit that, assuming that we have power to deal with this question, a strong case has not been made out for Federal intervention. Here is a list which is given by the Victorian Statistician of the refuges for women for the year 1909-10 : - Ballarat Home, Bendigo Rescue Home, Elizabeth Fry Retreat, South Yarra.; Geelong Retreat; Magdalen Asylum, Abbotsford; Carlton Refuge; South Yarra Home; Temporary Home, Collingwood ; House of Mercy, Cheltenham: Magdalen Asylum, South Melbourne. During the year, these institutions accommodated women and girls to the number of 372. In addition, the Statistician says - >There are six rescue homes controlled by the Salvation Army - at Abbotsford, Ballarat, Bendigo, Brunswick, Fitzroy, and Geelong. . . . During the year, 722 adults and 118 children were admitted ; 282 were placed at service or restored to friends ; 419 were discharged at their own request; 37 were sent to hospitals and other institutions ; 1 1 infants died ; and there were 97 children who went out with their mothers, and 4 who were put out to nurse or provided with homes. The Army received £400 from the Government, in aid of these institutions; £164, private contributions; and £4,848, the proceeds of the labour of the inmates - a total of £5,412. The total expenditure was £5,748. That amount was expended upon rescue homes, under the supervision of the Salvation. Army alone, and these, of course, deal only with a portion of the relief which is. contemplated by this Bill. The fact, however, ought to be mentioned in a debate of this kind for the purpose of showing that the people of the various States have not callously neglected their duty in the cause of humanity, and that there is no justification for such an urgent appeal as has been made on behalf of this Bill. If the Prime Minister had been able to submit statistics showing gross neglect on the part of the State Governments, or on the part of the citizens of the various States, to attend to all cases requiring attention, his position would have been greatly strengthened. But I think that, in a matter of this kind, before we are called upon to enter a sphere of legislative activity involving an enormous expenditure out of the Federal Treasury, a strong case, and one beyond a mere pathetic appeal, ought to be made out in favour of Federal intervention. This class of work naturally comes within the sphere of State activity. It must be admitted, even by the resolute and determined supporters of the Bill, that the expenditure and policy involved do look like an invasion of the sphere of State activity. The draftsman of this Bill has exercised the greatest ingenuity and cleverness possible to make it appear that it comes within some section of the Federal Constitution, and yet he has ignominiously failed. Even a student of Federal politics, to say nothing of experienced law officers, examining this Bill, and comparing the expressions that appear upon its face with the powers conferred upon the Parliament by the Constitution, must be led seriously to doubt the source of Federal authority upon which it is supposed to be based. The Prime Minister said this afternoon, in answer to an interjection, that he justified the Bill on the ground that it was to protect existing citizens and those coming of age. He laid special emphasis upon the point that it was a Maternity Bill. He emphasized the contention that it was not to promote the interest and welfare of the child, but to protect and assist the mother of the child. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- And protecting the mother undoubtedly means protecting and safeguarding the child. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- Nothing is said about the child in the Bill. The special exception made in the case of twins shows that there is no desire, by means of this Bill, to make provision for the protection of the child. The Bill is designed to protect the parent. It is a maternity measure pure and simple for the protection of the mother. This may be a most laudable effort, whether it be viewed from the stand point of maternity or from that of the interest of the child. No honorable member would dare to say a word against any scheme that could be justifiably adopted for the purpose of recognising maternity where recognition was necessary. One must speak with reverence, and with the most profound respect, when reference is made to maternity or motherhood. Whatever may be one's attitude regarding the constitutionality of this Bill, one must look with the most profound respect upon its inner motive, namely, the recognition of motherhood and maternity. With me it is largely a question of whether a strong case has been made out in favour of . Federal assistance; whether this Bill does not appear to be something in the nature of a reflection upon the State Governments and State charitable institutions and organizations; whether the proposal may be looked upon rather as an afterthought on the part of a political party, than a well-considered, well-devised scheme for the recognition of maternity, ' either by a bonus or allowance. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- Would the honorable member mind telling us whether he is for or against the Bill? {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- I am quite prepared to support the second reading of the Bill, in order that I may assist in making it a workable measure. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- While the Government and their supporters insist upon making it a party measure. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- We are quite prepared to assist in removing any anomalies that may be found in the Bill. {: .speaker-K8L} ##### Mr Thomas: -- The honorable member is not against the principle involved? {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- If we have the legal power, and a case for Federal intervention is, or will' be, made out, then I shall not think of being against the principle embodied in the Bill. My. point is, however, that the Government before asking Parliament to launch upon an annual expenditure of £500,000, which may probably grow into £1,000,000, should make out a fairly strong case, particularly when we find that existing organizations, up to the present time, have been doing the work in view well and satisfactorily. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- Does the honorable member say that he would consider the question of constitutionality before the principle of a Bill? {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- No; I would not be so narrow-minded with respect to the constitutionality of this Bill. But in this, as in every other case that comes before us, we, as legislators engaged in the exercise of limited and defined Federal powers, ought not to ignore our constitutional limits. We are here, not to exercise unlimited, undefined powers, but as a branch of the legislative machinery of the Australian people. We are here as members of a political partnership. Our share of the great work of governing Australia is clearly laid down by the Constitution. The Constitution is our title deed; it is the charter which defines the work we have to do ; and when we are about to undertake a work involving an enormous expenditure, we have a right to look into the four corners of this instrument to see whether the undertaking is within our province. We have a right also to ask ourselves whether our constituents have given us a mandate to enter upon a work of this kind. If they have, well and good ; but even in a case of doubt I should not say that a man would be justified in voting against the Bill. He would not be justified in voting against it merely because there was a doubt as to its constitutionality. There is a means of determining the question of constitutionality, but, at the same time, we ought not to ignore such a question. There are, no doubt, men who may feel disposed to disregard the problem - who would never raise the question whether we had the power to do a certain thing, as long as it might lay the foundation of, or justify, a party cry. But it is by no means clear whether the people of Australia intended this Parliament to deal with votes such as are embodied in this Bill. The AttorneyGeneral has not indicated any constitutional ground in support of it. He merely says that, in his opinion, the Bill is constitutional, and he is undoubtedly entitled to his opinion, just as others are entitled to their opinions. It appears that the sole ground upon which the constitutionality of this Bill is to be based is section 81 of the Constitution, which provides - >All revenues or moneys raised or received by the Executive Government of the Commonwealth shall form one consolidated revenue fund, to be appropriated for the purposes of the Commonwealth in the manner and subjected to the charges and liabilities imposed by this Constitution. Apparently, the object of this section was mainly to create a Consolidated Revenue Fund, into which all the moneys and re venues of the Commonwealth were to be placed from time to time. Then follows - to be appropriated for the purposes of the Commonwealth in the manner, and subject to the charges and liabilities, imposed by this Constitution. In order to find out what are the " purposes of the Commonwealth," we have to refer to part V. of the Constitution, under the heading of " Powers of the Parliament." Section 51 gives a complete specification and enumeration of the powers of the Parliament; sections 52 and 53 refer to the mode of originating and passing Appropriation Bills, while section 56, in particular, says - >A vote, resolution, or proposed law for the appropriation of revenue or moneys shall not be passed unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the Governor-General to the House in which the proposal originated. That section 4 is in part V., under the heading of " Powers of the Parliament," so that it is quite obvious that the "purposes" referred to in section 81 must mean purposes within the meaning of the powers conferred upon Parliament by the Federal Constitution. There is nothing in any other part of the Constitution which suggests anything in the shape of maternity bounties or allowances. There is one section which expressly provides that the Federal Parliament shall have authority to grant bonuses or bounties upon the production or export of goods. This Bill has evidently been drawn studiously for the purpose of avoiding the word " bounty " or " bonus," and has utilized the word "allowance," yet the word "allowance" does not occur in any part of the Constitution, except in that very useful and interesting section which provides for the allowance to be granted to members for their services in attending Parliament. Supposing this Parliament passes an appropriation of money, as recommended in this Bill, for a purpose not authorized by the Constitution, then that becomes an illegal expenditure within the meaning of the Constitution, and it would be quite within the competence of any of the State Governments or Legislatures to take action to test the legality of such an appropriation. It is not likely, I suppose, that any private individual would, undertake the responsibility of testing the legality of the Bill, but the States of the Australian Commonwealth have a financial interest in the question. They have not been finally disposed of by the 25s. per head settlement. On the contrary, they have still an 'interest in it, as what I may call the residuary legatees of the surplus revenue. That is provided in section 94 of the Constitution, the sidenote of which still remains " Distribution of surplus." Not only that, but in the Surplus Revenue Act passed by the present Government in 19 10, section 4 provides that the States are to receive 25s. per head for ten years, but section 6 goes further, providing that, in addition to the 25s. per head, the Treasurer shall pay to the States all the surplus revenue, if any, in his hands at the close of each financial year. Consequently, the States are still interested in any surplus which may remain; and if any of the surplus revenue is spent for an illegal purpose, or for a. purpose not warranted or authorized by the Constitution, the States have a right, if they think fit, to sue the Commonwealth for the money illegally expended. That is quite obvious from passages which occurred in the judgment of the High Court in the *State of New South Wales* versus *The Commonwealth,* reported in 7 C.L.R., page 194. There the question was the legality of certain appropriations of surplus revenue, which had been set aside and saved up, so to speak, in Trust Accounts for the purpose of old-age pensions, and for the purpose of the Coast Defence Appropriation Act. I invite the attention of honorable members to the words of **Mr. Justice** Barton in delivering judgment in that case. Referring to the Old-age Pensions Appropriation Act, and the Coast Defence Appropriation Act, he said - >Each of them is, on its face, for a purpose for which the Commonwealth Has power to make laws. It is said that that purpose is not sufficiently denned. That argument was not closely pressed, and I have no doubt that the purposes of the appropriation are amply denned i£ the Acts are otherwise warranted by the Constitution. The passages which I have emphasized show that in any appropriation made by this Parliament, regard must be had to the power of appropriation vested in Parliament, and such power of appropriation must be warranted by the Constitution. In another passage, **Mr. Justice.** Barton said - >These moneys have been drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth under appropriation made by law. To become surplus revenue, so as to be claimable by the plaintiff State, they must have been either wholly unappropriated for any purpose of the Commonwealth, or appropriated for something which is not such a purpose - that is, illegally. The obvious deduction is that, if an appropriation is made for a purpose not warranted, or authorized by the Constitution, it is an illegality and a nullity, and the States will have a right to demand an account of that money as surplus revenue. In another part of the same decision, **Mr. Justice** O'Connor said - >It is admitted that the Commonwealth Parliament may expend what it thinks fit in the execution of the powers conferred on it. The Commonwealth is entitled to accumulate revenue to be paid out later in the execution of some Commonwealth power. These passages indicate that this matter is by no means so clear as the AttorneyGeneral would have us believe, but is open to argument, and may lead to serious litigation in the future. However, no doubt those who are convinced of the necessity of the Bill, and think they can justify their attitude, will not be deterred by any constitutional difficulties or doubts, but will go on and take the risk, leaving the High Court to decide the question according to law. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- On the other hand, there are subjects practically inseparable from maternity given over to the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- Such as what? I have not heard any mentioned. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- Invalidity. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- That is an entirely different question from maternity. It seems strange that during the whole of the Convention debates, of the Federal campaign, and of our Federal history up to a fortnight before this session began, not a single suggestion was made as to the possibility of the Commonwealth legislating upon such a question as this. It was never suggested that the Federal Parliament ought to have such a power, or that it hadsuch a power. However, I have done my duty in drawing attention to the matter. It cannot be said hereafter that Parliament had not the opportunity of considering it, or that there was no one ready or willing to take the responsibility, because, of course, to draw attention to such a point as this involves responsibility. It has been discussed out of doors, and it is only fitting and proper that it should be brought under the attention of honorable members, so that they may think over it. Now I come to the Bill itself, and will address a few observations to the House concerning its framework, and the principles which may be deduced from it as explained by the Prime Minister, and as gathered from a perusal of it. The first criticism that I have to make is that no case has been made out of neglect on the part of the States, or the citizens of the States, to take reasonable care in the matter of the protection of mothers and children. I should be quite willing to give the Bill the benefit of any doubt in that direction. I do not think that honorable members who are animated by feelings of humanity and philanthropy, or .with a desire to help those who have to sustain the responsibilities of maternity, would hesitate if there were any doubt about giving the benefit of it in such an instance. But, let us view the mode in which it is proposed to administer this grant. No discrimination seems to be made. It is to be an absolutely unqualified, unconditional, and indiscriminate grant in respect of maternity alone, without any guarantees or securities as to its due application to the purposes aimed at by the Bill. A" very narrow and limited view is taken by the terms of the measure in restricting the benefit purely to maternity. I have read certain criticisms upon that aspect of the case which I think are quite justifiableOne is that no woman would expect any financial reward or recognition for maternity *per se.* No high-minded woman in the world would think of accepting such a grant. Nothing should be held out in the way of a cash stimulus to maternity. From that point of view, the Bill seems very narrow, because it proposes to give a grant of *£5* for maternity alone. That is proved by a fact which appears upon the face of the measure, where it is provided that if a child is not born alive, or dies within ten hours after birth, a medical certificate must be provided showing that it was a viable child. That shows that the grant is not to enable the mother to make provision for nourishing the child. No consideration is given to the fact that the troubles and difficulties of motherhood do not end with the act of maternity, but really begin when the mother, is burdened with the nourishing and protecting of the infant to which she has given birth. Maternity alone seems to be too narrow a point of view upon which to rest this grant. {: .speaker-KUF} ##### Mr Spence: -- Does the honorable member want the Bill to go further? {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- I am dealing with the assumption that we desire to frame a workable Bill ; and from that point of view, it appears that the grant ought to be conditional upon compliance with the duties of maternity, as evidenced by a medical certificate, or by the lapse of time. The Bill gives the grant upon the act of birth itself, without any reference to the fate of the child. I think that the interests of the child ought to be considered as well as the interests of the mother. In that respect, also, the Bill is too narrow in its scope. Assuming that we have authority to pass such a measure, it ought to exact guarantees for the protection of the child's life. No doubt, in the majority of cases, as the Prime Minister said, the instincts of motherhood would be quite strong enough to be relied upon without demanding any proof of compliance with those instincts, or with the ordinary precautions for the protection of life. But my complaint is that, in this Bill, nothing is taken into consideration as to the necessity of protecting the life of the child, or guarding against infant mortality. The child may be neglected and may die before the money is actually procured, but no discretion is allowed. In a scheme such as this, not based upon insurance, but taking the form of a grant from the Federal Treasury, the Government should surely take power to deal with the surroundings in which such a vast sum of money is to be spent, and no objection could reasonably' be taken to such guarantees and securities being exacted, assuming that we have power to deal with the matter constitutionally at all. Then, again, the framers of this Bill evidently glory in the fact that there is no differentiation. It does not regard any distinction between rich and poor, between the just and the unjust. That is quite open to argument. I am not censuring the Government in that respect. What I understand has influenced them in refusing to make any discrimination is, in the words of the AttorneyGeneral, that they do not want to create a class distinction. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- We have a rooted objection to class legislation. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- They do not want to make this grant appear as if it were a charitable dole. But when Parliament is asked to pass a Bill of such magnitude, which is likely to be a growing burden upon the community, it is quite entitled to prescribe under what conditions it will make the grant or gift. Surely Parliament, disregarding the parrot cry of class distinction, is entitled to protect the public revenue, and to prevent money for such a purpose being distributed amongst people who do not want it, and ought not to get it. Whatever loud appeals may be made from the humanitarian stand-point, surely the great bulk of the people. of Australia, who are fairly well off, should never ask for this grant. Many of them do not desire to take it. But, on the other hand, there will be others who may not scruple to take the money, though they do not need it. I do not see why Parliament should allow people who may be well off, but may also be actuated by mean and gross instincts, to gratify themselves in this way. We could easily surround this scheme with conditions and limitations, without branding the grant with the stigma honorable members opposite wish to avoid. It does not follow that there is any more stigma attached to receiving a bounty than there is to being exempt from taxation, and we know that there are exemptions under land tax and income tax laws without the suggestion of any degradation. Why should there be any stigma suggested by providing that the bounty shall not apply to persons in receipt of an income over a certain sum per annum ? Such a condition finds, expression in the New Zealand Act, which has already been referred to, and was quoted at the Labour Conference in Hobart last year. The fund in New Zealand is called the National Provident Fund, and the law regarding it was passed in 1910. The fund is made up partly of the contributions of those who wish to participate, and partly of a subsidy from the Government, and in the case of any shortage in the distribution of benefits the Government make it up. The payments' exacted from the contributors are very trifling, ranging from 9d. per week, beginning at the age of eighteen, to is. 9d. per week at the age of forty-five. The New Zealand Government could not see their way to " go the whole hog," as this Bill does, and give indiscriminate free grants to everybody ; but they gave the option to the people to become partners, so to speak, on the payment of nominal contributions. The contributors, in this way, have a vested interest in the funds, and are induced to cultivate habits of thrift and foresight, and the fact that they contribute deprives the scheme of any suggestion of charitable relief. Section 18 of the New Zealand Act provides that only when the joint income of the husband and wife does not exceed .£200 for the preceding twelve months shall the allowance of *]£6* be paid, or any less sum the Board may direct, and every application has to be accompanied by a statutory declaration as to income. That is a statesmanlike scheme, based on a sound, economical, judicial principle. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member's time has expired. {: .speaker-KYJ} ##### Sir JOHN QUICK: -- I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill. {: #subdebate-13-0-s7 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 .- I have read somewhere that when a man reaches the height .of his ideals he is either supremely happy or quite the reverse. Tonight, I am delighted that one of the ideals of my life has been realized - an ideal formed amidst the misery and wretchedness of London. Honorable members may recall that the Prime Minister told us that this is only one portion of the work to be done ; and, notwithstanding what the honorable member for Bendigo has said, I may say that I advocated all three reforms over twenty years ago. Honorable members who asked whether there is a demand for this allowance will forgive me if I recall a page of Roman history. When one of the generals of the great Belisarius was entering Constantinople, and saw a wretched beggar by the wayside, he said to the beggar, " Why do you not ask for alms ?" Then the beggar, holding out hi's rags, said, " Are these not speaking with a hundred tongues?" Every woman whose life may be lost for want of proper nursing, which, in these matters, takes precedence of medical attention, is crying out with silent tongue ; and women in such straits ought not to be asked to come round begging. Has the honorable member for Bendigo ever seen, as I have, expectant mothers begging for paltry bags of linen that would not fetch is. under the auctioneer's hammer? Even in the suburbs of Melbourne, the Ladies' Benevolent Societies supply such bags, which are known as " baby bags," and they are welcomed with delight. I can well remember, when in London, the arduous work I did, with others, in attending the poor in their maternity cases ; and often we had to scrape from our persons the bugs which had gathered on us in the wretched dwellings. There was one case in which ten people lived in a room measuring 10 feet by 11 feet by 10 feet high, within a stone's throw of the Duke of Westminster's palace, in the West End. And yet, when we find our Prime Minister introducing a measure in words that are almost worthy of the lips of Christ - a measure to help every woman, God-given with the power of maternity - we find legal gentlemen quibbling. I believe that the honorable member for Bendigo would have . ' taken a different view of this measure had he not been brought up a lawyer. I recall the words of a famous jurist of the United States, " If you want a traitor to a country, or a great cause, you will never need to go far to find him. He is ready-made in any lawyer you meet." I am not speaking personally, because I know that when this Bill goes to a vote the honorable member for Bendigo, as well, I believe, as every other honorable member opposite, will vote for it. I believe also that every one of the superfine ladies who talk outside upon a subject they know nothing of would vote for this measure if they knew the misery and wretchedness under which some women become mothers. To-day I read a statement. in the Age, which I thank the proprietors of that newspaper for publishing. The *Argus* must have refrained from publishing the statement out of consideration for Lady Way. I cannot say anything harsh of the ladies, as they are not in the fight, but any one who consults the book, *Who's Who,* and knows anything of the maternity age, will laugh at the idea of this lady speaking as she has spoken. One honorable member who spoke on the other side was not as careful in what he said as the Federal Statistician is compelled to be. We have, in **Mr. Knibbs,** at the head of our Statistical Department, one of the greatest statists in any part of the world. He has, in his publications, refrained from repeating the infamy which should never be put upon any child, and which was put upon children as the result of infamous laws made by lawyers., We hear talk of British law, and the palladium of English liberty, but when the nobles forced King John at Runnymede to sign the *Magna Charte* there was included in English law a provision preventing a father doing what was right by his innocent offspring. In most Continental countries such a provision has been done away with, and we should have dealt with the matter here if Conservative men had not carried a provision which was unworthy of them. I am glad to say that at the present time an attempt is being made in the State House of Victoria to remove this blot upon our legislation. Honorable members of this House should use the words of the Commonwealth Statistician, and refer to nuptial and ex-nuptial children. Here I think I should offer my meed of praise to a man whose name must remain unknown because it was his wish. He told me that he had a small sum ' of money and wished to do the most good possible with it, and he asked me to advise him. I said, " If you well help unfortunate mothers who cannot claim husbands you will, in my opinion, do the best that can be done with your money." No less than four human lives were saved by the expenditure of that money. The maximum amount of assistance in any case was *£6* 5s., and the minimum *£4* 5s. No man who has ever seen a mother bring a child into life could refuse to support this proposal. At such a time the mother stands sentinel betwixt life and death, in a firing line in which more lives have been lost than in the firing line of any battle ever waged by any nation in the world. There is no man who would say that he would not help a woman and her child at such a time. In such circumstances it is harsh to hear the ' references which have been made to the Constitution. Who made the Constitution ? lt was not made by the voters of Australia. The Constitution is not as advanced as all on this side, and many on the other side, would have it. No greater falsehood ever left the lips of man than the statement that the Labour party were against Federation. We were fighting against the form of Federation proposed. How was it arrived at? There were ten men from Western Australia who followed their " boss " at the Federal Convention. They were not elected by the people, but were nominated. We have had experience of nominee Houses of Parliament in Australia, and we know that no nominee legislative body in the world has ever left good laws on record. Our Constitution is not such as we, of more advanced thought, desired it to be. We desired that the citizens, the creators of this Parliament, should have the, power, through the referendum and initiative, to make laws and change them. When we make laws here we are threatened with the High Court. I could sometimes forgive any one for swearing at the High Court when he hears of some of its decisions. I had three afternoons before the High Court, and I would not trust a Newfoundland dog to it. I heard from the other side of the House a gentleman who is at present a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, state facts in reference to the High Court which, if they were generally known to the people outside, would lead to a desire to sweep some of its members from the Bench. Today one of the greatest physicians who adorns Collins-street - I refer to **Dr. Springthorpe** - informed me that for two guineas a nurse worthy to attend Lady Denman would go into a home and teach a mother if she required the knowledge how to look after her child. The doctors' fees in such cases are not high, because the members of no profession do more for their clients than do the doctors in such cases. I have taken care of a practice in England for two guineas a week and my keep. I was liable to be called upon at any time of the diy or night, and every call had to be attended. Seven and sixpence was often in London the fee charged for such cases. In my opinion the proposed allowance of *£5* will mean the saving of many lives, and will, in the future, do very much good. But do honorable members think that that will be the end of it? No, it is only the thin end of the wedge. The day will come when we shall make a claim for a child's pension. A mother will be able to say, " I have not enough to feed and clothe my children properly.. My ten children cannot be herded into two or three rooms ; I want room for them, that they may become healthy, and under an Act of Parliament of the Commonwealth I have the right to claim a pension for my children." No man here will be prepared to deny that right. In speaking of a place, which I said was close to the palace of the Marquis of Westminster, I forgot to say that it was over a stable. Any one who knows London, and the big cities of the United Kingdom, will know that there are in them what are called . " mews. " These are two story buildings ; the rooms of the upper story are let to families, and the lower story used as stables. The horses underneath the rooms let to families are treated a hundred times better than are the human beings above them. This accounts, to some extent, for the deterioration in the British Army. It has been found necessary to reduce the measurements for the British Army, whilst in Germany they have been able to increase the measurements, because, in that country, they try to bring up healthy men and women. There is one clause in this Bill against which I wish to enter a protest. {: .speaker-F4S} ##### Mr Joseph Cook: -- There is a much lower birth rate in England than in Germany. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- I can recall for the honorable member a statement by Professor Pepper, who won more medals from the highest examining authority in the world, the London University, than any other two men. He stated, speaking of the early eighties, that a workman in London would get from 18s. to 20s. a week, and could keep a wife and child. But his children increased while his wages did not. The room he occupied did not increase, and became the living, sleeping, eating, and washing room for the family. The little mites were sent out into the street to harden. They hardened, but their legs became bent and their wrists and ankles enlarged until they got what the Germans, with an unerring talent for naming things, called "the English disease" or rickets. Possibly, not one of those children would reach the age of twenty-one years, or have a healthy day in their lives. That is the kernel of what Professor Pepper said in a lecture I had the privilege of attending. With regard to the provision relating to aboriginal and Asiatic women, I would point out that aboriginal women already come under the care of the States, but, in my opinion, Asiatic women married to citizens of the Commonwealth possess full citizen rights. I voted to give every Asiatic who was a citizen of the Commonwealth the right to an old-age pension, and I am not ashamed of that vote. Even if there was something to be said against granting pensions to Asiatics, there is nothing to be said against giving the maternity allowance to the Asiatic woman who brings an Australian native into the world. By being bom here, a child becomes an Australian native, with full rights to citizenship. I should have liked provision to be made for the granting of the bounty to Asiatic women, and make my protest against the omission. As there are many speakers to follow, I do not wish to take up too much time. I am glad to have lived to see this night, and to be a member of the House on this occasion. God giving me power, and my friends outside continuing to have faith in me - and I have spoken on this subjectmany a day - I hope also to be here to see child pensions provided for. Then theideals with which I started my political career will have been realized. They were - woman suffrage, old-age pensions, and child pensions. This Government and thisParliament have provided also for invalid pensions. Thus will be realized what I told a lady of title in Newcastle, when, in that tone which only educated ladies can assume, she asked me what were the ideals, of the Australian Labour party. My reply was that if she would condescend to listen I would try to teach even her something. I said that the ideals of the Labour party were to remove the words " pauper " and' " poverty " from the Australian vocabulary. God giving this Parliament power,. and with the aid of the Motherland, and perhaps of other European nations, in keeping back the shadow that looms from the East, Australia will follow its high ideals, and its record will make a page in history which will equal, if not surpass, that of the older Greece. So may it be is, I think, the wish of every honorable member. I do not think that there will be a division on the second reading, but had I been asked at the commencement of the debate to say what hope would pulse my heart with the most joy, I should have replied that it would be to hear the Leader of the Opposition - I know what eloquent words would have come from his eloquent lips - say, " **Mr. Speaker,** I claim the honour of seconding the motion for the second reading of this Bill, and say, on behalf of the Opposition party, that we shall support it, and do all that we can to improve it." {: #subdebate-13-0-s8 .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN:
Fawkner .- The honorable member for Melbourne, whose kind heart is well known, made reference to Roman history. I should like to follow his example. What is intended as a kind act often has very cruel results. Honorable members no doubt are aware that when Carthage and Egypt were conquered by Rome, they had to pay tribute in wheat, and the question arose, what should be done with this wheat? The Roman tribunes said, " Let us give it free to the people." Then it was suggested that it should first be made into bread, and the bread be given free. That was done. No doubt, the intention was kind, but the result was the ruin of the Roman Empire. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- Land monopoly ruined Rome. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I do not agree with the honorable member, and have not land monopoly on the brain, though, if he would listen to me, and there were the occasion, I could speak on the subject for an hour and a half. The free distribution of food was the ruin of the farming class in Rome. The farmers became serfs; the nation had no free citizens to draw on for its legions, and the Empire faded away. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- There was no Labour party in those days. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- The tribunes were the Labour party of the day, and ruined the Empire by their spurious philanthropy. The honorable member for Melbourne spoke of child pensions. Nothing could be sadder than to see children lacking bread. But we should prevent that, not by doling out pensions, but by making the fathers of the land sufficiently well off to be able to provide for their wives and children. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- How does the honorable member propose to do that? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I shall speak on that subject later. The fathers of this country should be proud of supporting their wives and children. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- How can a man getting £2 a week support ten children? I can instance a case in which such a man has fifteen children. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- The honorable member referred to many sad cases, and a picture of the country to which he referred could hardly be overshaded. If Jack London's *Abyss* is true - and one cannot believe that it is true- {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- It is too true, unfortunately. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I am very sorry, indeed, to hear that. If it is true, nothing would be drastic enough to deal with such fearful things as we read in that book. Have we anything approaching that in Australia? In the *Y ear-Book* one finds the following description of the general condition of the people of Australia, on page 929- >The distribution of wealth in the Australian Commonwealth, and the generally favorable conditions as regards scope for the exercise of natural ability, operate to prevent the development of a permanent pauper class, and, at the same time, lessen in a dual way the burden of charity. This latter is brought about by the increase, on the one hand, of the number of people whose prosperity enables them to relieve the indigent and unfortunate, and by the reduction, on the other, of the number who need assistance. Enactments of State Legislatures have decreed short hours and a liberal holiday allowance for large numbers of persons engaged in industrial and other pursuits, and, even in occupations not covered by Act of Parliament, the general conditions of employment often provide a considerable amount of leisure. This, coupled with an equable climate, enables the community to spend much of its time in the open air, with resultant advantages to the physique and general health. No poor-rate is levied in Australia, and Government aid without return is required only for the aged and disabled. Moreover, although old-age pensions are paid by the Commonwealth, the payments- are looked upon rather in the light of a citizen's right than as a charity. One has to go to the *Year-Book,* apart from isolated private experience, to find out what the conditions are in Australia, and these are totally different from those related by the honorable member for Melbourne. I fear, of course, that in his wide practice he has met with cases of distress. If I were faced with this problem : "Is this£400,000 or£500,000 a year going to directly save the life of one woman or one child?'' I would say, "Let us have it, by all means." {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- It will. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I believe that every honorable gentleman, in the House would say the same thing; but the question we have to look at in all this class of legislation is, " Are we going to do more good or more harm?" We do not expect a surgeon, when we call him in, and he has to cut off a leg or an arm, which is a painful operation, to burst into tears. Nor do we expect legislators, when we know that these heartrending things occur, to get unduly upset by them. Of course, we know that they occur, and we want to alleviate them as best we possibly can. But I think that this step requires very careful consideration indeed. I agree entirely with one thing that the honorable member for Melbourne said, and that is, that it is little short of a disgrace not to include alien women with the other women in this community. It gives us on this side a handle. We can say perfectly well," We know exactly why you do not extend equal consideration. It is because these women have not votes." That is what we will have to say. We do not like to say these things. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- Your modesty is very great. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- They have votes in Victoria. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I do not think that they have votes for the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr Chanter: -- If they are naturalized they have. {: .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936 -- In Victoria they have votes for State elections. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- A good many of us know what these people are, and that a present of £5 would be no relief at all. If we intendto help them - and I think that we should not leave them out altogether - we ought to give power, say, to the police magistrate for the district to see that they are properly looked after. If the Commonwealth is going to take this class of work in hand, I think that it should do it all round, and not allow these poor, wretched women, who want assistance very much indeed sometimes, to go entirely without aid. We ought to give the police magistrate for the district, as in Queensland, power on the 24th May- the late Queen's birthday - to present the women with a blanket apiece. He ought to be empowered, also, to give a little assistance of some sort where he knew that it would save alife. I think it is about the least that we can do for those who had this country before we came here. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- We look upon the aborigines in the States as. wards of, the States. We take care in the Northern Territory that they are properly looked after by the Commonwealth and I think that the States ought to do likewise. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I am very glad to hear the Prime Minister say that, because I very often feel that we owe a debt to the old aboriginal people of this country, who are dying off. One of the saddest sights I have ever seen I saw at the Gippsland Lakes, when the last of the whole of the tribes of Victoria were gathered together in a small church. We owe some little debt to these failing people, and I was very pleased to hear the Prime Minister say that, if other women are going to be looked after, these poor waifs and strays will also receive some assistance. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- In the Northern Territory we provide everything that Professor Spencer asks for. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr Fuller: -- The Prime Minister did not say what the honorable member has attributed to him. He only referred to the aborigines in the Northern Territory. He is not going to bother about the aborigines anywhere else in the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- The States have all the land. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I think that alien women who are naturalized subjects - I mean the higher races, like the Japanese and Chinese - should be put on a par with the white women in the community. {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr Chanter: -- So they are, if naturalized. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I do not understand that from this measure. {: .speaker-JWY} ##### Mr Chanter: -- Undoubtedly, they are. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I understand from a legal friend that it is not the case. I think that every civilized community nowadays is paying great attention to those who are unfortunate in the race of life. We can judge a civilized community pretty well by the amount of attention which is paid to those who are unfortunate. I feel, therefore, that it will not be out of place to glance for a minute or two at what is done in Australia in the way of granting relief. I know that there is a great objection - and in the past it was a wellfounded objection - to what is called charitable relief. The Prime Minister referred to it as the taint of charity; but I think that the taint of charity is surely passing away. The names are changing. We used to have ragged schools. We not only gave relief, but people took an apparent delight in insulting the wretched unfortunates who had to sue for relief. I think that that sort of thing is passing away. I see that we still have a ragged school amongst us, and I wish that the name was changed. Every time I pass what is called a ragged school, I feel ashamed. The term was all right in the first instance, when **Dr. Guthrie** started these schools in Glasgow. It did not appear to offend the community then as it does nowadays. But in Australia, a country of ups and downs, any one may be ragged, and very sorry to be ragged. A man or a woman would very much sooner be well-dressed than ragged. To add an insult to what is undoubtedly an injury, to call a wretched man or woman who has to go and take charity names at the same time, is always abhorrent to me. I think, however, that that method of looking at this class of help is fast dying out. The old-age pension system has come in to a great extent; and people now feel that they have a right to apply for a pension. They think that if they are down in the world, those who have money have a right to give them a helping hand. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- They have to prove their poverty before they can get a pension. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- In order to prevent the possibility of abuse, the money of the taxpayer, who is very oftennot, perhaps, very much better off than some of the recipients of this bounty, has to be safeguarded. We have to look after that. I was going to point out what we are doing in Australia for those who are not in good circumstances. I gather, from an official return, that the old-age pensioners number 79,784; and the invalid pensioners, 10,985 ; or a total of 90,969. These persons are in receipt of£2,235,168 yearly. That is a very large sum. A great deal of it, I am glad to say, is well spent. Of course, there are cases - as there always must be - in which the money is expended in drink. But that cannot be avoided. I learn, from page 929 of the *Commonwealth Year-Book,* that, during 1910, there were 338 hospitals, conducted at a cost of £802,212. During that year, these institutions treated 119,091 patients. These figures represent a very substantial contribution towards the relief of the sick and suffering. The institutions include a great many women's hospitals, which are devoted exclusively to the treatment of the trouble with which this Bill seeks to deal. During the same year, the benevolent institutions cost£193,294. There were also fortytwo orphanages, containing 5,132 inmates, and costing £72,882 ; and industrial and reformatory schools costing over £200,000. In addition, 16,849 neglected children were looked after by the States, at a cost of£244,646. There were thirty-one insane asylums, whose inmates numbered 18,870, and the maintenance of which cost £561, 677. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- The honorable member is proving that things must be pretty bad in some places in Australia. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- How ? {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- By reason of the fact that these institutions exist. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I do not think that we have an undue proportion of insane persons in the Commonwealth, {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- The honorable member mentioned several industrial schools, refuges, homes, &c. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I am merely endeavouring to show that a great deal of private effort is directed towards the relief of persons who require assistance. Australia is in the front rank of civilization as it should be judged to-day. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Would it not be more civilized if the Government undertook this work instead of charitable institutions? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- As a rule, better work is done by private than by Government institutions. That is not only my own view, but that of **Mr. Watt,** the Premier of Victoria. It is also the view of the Labour Premier of New South Wales, **Mr. McGowen,** who, when waited upon by a deputation from the Trades Hall with a request that the various hospitals and charitable institutions should be nationalized, said that it would be the greatest calamity that could happen to the community. {: .speaker-JOW} ##### Mr Bennett: -- Did the honorable member read his explanation of that statement? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Perhaps he had to explain it away afterwards. But that was his genuine expression of opinion, and I thought a great deal of him for having the courage to voice it. I do not think that this class of work can be better performed by the Government than by private individuals. I have seen things in connexion with private institutions which I did not think were right. But we can find faults in every undertaking. I believe that these institutions can do better work than can the State. **Mr. Watt** brought out that fact very prominently the other day when speaking on the Charities Bill. I believe that the granting of relief to women who require assistance can be better performed by enlarging the work of our private institutions. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Has the honorable member any figures bearing on the cost of collection, and on the distribution of the money ? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I have looked into that matter very carefully; but I have not the figures with me. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- How much per cent. would the cost amount to in the case of private institutions? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Speaking from memory, about 14 per cent. {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- It is higher than that in the institution of which the honorable member is chairman. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I ask the Prime Minister whether he does not think that that cost will be far more than equalled by the expenditure incurred by the Government ? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- We propose to undertake the work for 1 per cent. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I do not think that it can be carried out for anything like that figure. But the point we have to consider is whether the work will be as well done on behalf of the taxpayer. Will it find its way into the proper channels, as it would do if it were in the hands of private institutions ? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I invite the honorable member to examine it, and if it is not better done, I say that complaint ought to be made. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- No doubt. What I fear is that, instead of the£5 reaching the poor mother, it will very often reach the father, and thus the public-house. {: .speaker-KZA} ##### Mr West: -- That is a libel. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I do not think so. From his own experience, the honorable member must know of cases of that sort. Of course, such cases constitute only a fragment ; but, nevertheless, there are some. In addition to the institutions which I have already named, there are a great number of institutes which treat the deaf and the dumb, and there are crèches and kindergartens innumerable. In 1910, the total Government expenditure in assisting people in distress was£1,385, 703, and, including private expenditure, the total outlay was £2, 200,000. If we add to that the amount which was expended upon invalid and old-age pensions, we get the very large sum of £4,435,168. I am proud to know that Australia takes such splendid care of those who require its care. On. the top of all this, it is now proposed to expend another £400,000 or£500,000 annually. There is one reason why I object to this Bill. I think we cannot be too careful in our expenditure of the public money. The Prime Minister admits that this matter has not been before the electors. We know perfectly well that we do not permit the practice of private bribery ; and I fail to see why we should countenance public bribery. Where a scheme of this sort is contemplated, there ought to be a clear-cut line, and no Government ought to be able, on its own initiative, to spend large sums of money upon such a project, without a mandate from the electors. {: .speaker-KHE} ##### Mr Higgs: -- Does the honorable member consider that this legislation is political bribery ? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I do, absolutely. {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- Then the honorable member will vote against the Bill? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- One has to look all round a question of this character. One has to ask oneself why this proposal has been suddenly made, coming upon us like " abolt from the blue." The Labour party gathered in strength recently at the Hobart Conference, but there was then no talk of a project of this kind. At that time, the women of the community had not been outraged by having taken from them the right to vote by post. Since then, postal voting has been abolished, and the women of the community have said, " We do not like the Labour party. They have taken from us - they have taken from mothers - the right to vote." {: .speaker-KEV} ##### Mr Fenton: -- That " gag " will not go down. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Honorable members may laugh, but at the next general election they will find that the abolition of the postal vote is no laughing matter. They will have a great deal of trouble in justifying their action in that regard. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- How does the honorable member explain the fact that at the first election after the abolition of postal voting there was a higher percentage of votes than ever before? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Because the people were angry. {: .speaker-KX9} ##### Mr Watkins: -- So angry that they returned the Labour candidate. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- The answer is obvious. The women felt so outraged in having this right taken from them- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! Will the honorable member confine himself to the question before the Chair? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- The interjections of honorable members opposite have been leading me on to the downward path. They will certainly have a troublesome time at the next general election in explaining why they took away from women the right to vote by post. Is this not an attempt to placate the women? Why this sudden desire to placate the women of the community? Why not give pensions to children? Children always appeal strongly to me, and if pensions of any kind had to be provided, I should like to see the children included in the scheme. Every man must feel sorry for little ones who have to go starving to school. The point is, however, that they have no votes. In that respect, they are like the black women. {: .speaker-JUV} ##### Mr Mcwilliams: -- And the cadets. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I do not know about the cadets. I shall leave the honorable member to deal with them. One does not like to impute motives, but when this proposal was first mooted, I said to myself, " The Labour party, as a rule, do not take any action without a reason, and there must be some reason for this proposal. Can it be due to a sudden epidemic of kindheartedness on their part? " There was no sign of anything of the kind at the Hobart Conference, but suddenly, when the women got angry because their votes were taken away- {: .speaker-KK9} ##### Mr Jensen: -- What about the men? They also are not allowed to vote by post. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- They have not had an opportunity to express their dissatisfaction. {: .speaker-KZG} ##### Mr Roberts: -- Has the honorable member met any of these angry ladies? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Yes, many of them. They are angry, not with the Opposition, but with the Government, and I think that is the explanation of the action of the Ministry in bringing forward this Bill. Holding, as I do, this view, I am not so greatly impressed as honorable members opposite would wish us to be with their apparent kind-heartedness. The Bill really tells in their favour. The point I wish to make is that a proposal to spend a large sum of money annually should first have the sanction of the people. We stop any private member from bribing a constituent. I cannot give an elector £5 to vote for me. Mr.Webster. - Does not the honorable member distribute among charities the £200 per annum added to his allowance as a member of Parliament? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Not when I am a candidate. I do not distribute that money with the ostensible object of bribing the electors. I do not think I give away more than I did before I received the extra allowance. It is hard to analyze one's motives; and I should not like to say whether I give away the money because of political or charitable motives. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- The honorable member is in doubt about it. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I am; but I have no doubt as to the object which the honorable member has in view in supporting this measure. I can well imagine the scene in Caucus. The Minister of Home Affairs is the cleverest man amongst the Labour party, so far as this sort of work is concerned. I think that the Prime Minister was greatly exercised in his mind about the fact that this proposal had never been submitted to the electors. He said it was not put before the people at the last general election. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- I said quite frankly that it had not been prominently before the people. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Does not the right honorable member think that a large annual expenditure should not be made - particularly when it may seem to be proposed with the object of gaining votes - without the sanction of the people? Does he not think that, inasmuch as we do not allow a private memberto give a bribe, the Government should be prevented from bribing the electors, and that the proposed expenditure should not be made without the authority of the people? {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- If the Opposition take that view of the Bill, their duty is not to let it pass. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- When a proposal of this kind is made, I want to make sure that it is made because of kindness of heart, and not as a bribe. Where is this going to stop ? What is to prevent the Opposition going one better, and offering a maternity allowance of£10 *?* {: .speaker-KWL} ##### Mr Tudor: -- Try it. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Some time ago, the honorable member for Cook suggested in this House that navvies employed on the trans- Austral ian railway should receive 8s. a day. I immediately urged that they should be paid 12s. per day. Parliament will be entirely debased if it goes on in this way. The Government propose a maternity grant of£5, and the Opposition may say, " We are prepared to give£10." Legislation of this character ought to be absolutely free from any taint of bribery. Talk about the taint of charity ! The taint of bribery is equally as bad; and I think that taint will stick to this measure. {: .speaker-KYV} ##### Mr Riley: -- Do you think that a lady will vote for Labour because she receives £5? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- I think that the Bill may have that effect. It is obviously introduced with that object. My only wish is to see the money of this country properly expended; otherwise we shall bring this Parliament into a very unenviable position. Legislation of this class ought to receive the sanction of the people either at a general election or by means of a referendum, before it is passed. The whole of the funds at the disposal of a Government might be used in this class of work, and where is it going to stop? I should have no objection to it if it were put before the people, and they indorsed it. That would be the proper course to adopt, because then there could not be any suspicion of anything but a real desire to do this country good, and help those who are in distress. I think this class of legislation is robbing the home, which I look upon as the unit of our civilization. A self-respecting father ought to be proud, and to look upon it as a privilege, to pay for the support of his wife and children in every trying circumstance. If the State does that class of work for him, it will rapidly undermine the homes of the community, upon which the security of the State rests. This is a long step towards Socialism. I feel sure that the whole of this class of work eventually must be dealt with by a proper scheme on the lines of the German system, which deals not only with this matter, but with unemployment and other sorts of insurance. That is the proper and manly way to do it, as then every class pays according to its means, and as the funds accumulate all this kind of work can be done, thus doing away with the taint of charity altogether. If we can do away with that taint we ought to do so, in order to keep the community selfrespecting. I should like to see the whole of this work done eventually by a properly thoughtout scheme on the linesI have indicated, by which every class of suffering to which any individual in the community may be exposed would be treated and provided for. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- We shall give that consideration in the next Parliament. {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- Yes, after the votes are cast. I should like to see it considered soon, because we are not always going to have these piping times of prosperity. We are certain to have a recurrence of unemployment. Our friends opposite have made no provision for that, although I thought one of the first things they would do would be to bring in a scheme to provide against it. {: .speaker-KXK} ##### Mr Webster: -- How can we get the referendum through if we do all these things ? {: .speaker-JYR} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN: -- The Labour party do not require the referendum for all their schemes. They are sticking out all round the referendum. It may cover a little bit in the centre, but it does not cover up the glaring faults of the Labour party, such as the fault of not looking after the unemployed. There is nothing to stop the Government from making fair provision now in that direction. I will not yield to any member in the House in my desire to help any unfortunate person, but I think we ought to have some explanation of the measure, and feel sure that legislation of this kind, which assists any particular Government or party, is not a class of legislation of which this House ought to be proud. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Ozanne)** adjourned. House adjourned at 10.21 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 September 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.