4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and -read prayers.
Wool Tops - Tin Plates.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and. Customs whether an inquiry has been made by his Department as to the effect on the wool industry of Australia of the bounty on wool tops? If an inquiry has been made, what is its result ?
– An inquiry has been made, the report being that the bounty is beneficial to the producers and workers of Australia. The existing bounty will not expire until the end of next year; but, as the manufacturers of wool tops ‘ have to make their contract^ at least twelve months in advance, it is the intention of the Government to provide in the Bounties Bill which will be introduced for the extension of the bounty on wool tops tor another two years.
– I wish to know if the Minister, when giving attention to the question of bounties, will take into consideration the advisableness of granting a bounty for the production of tin-plates?
– The. matter has not previously been brought under my notice, but I shall be pleased to look into it. The Bill is practically complete, and it makes no provision for a bounty on tin-plates.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister what is the position in regard to the .residence of the King’s representative in Sydney?
– The official residence of the Governor-General at Government House, Sydney, will terminate next month.
– Has any new arrangement been made?
– The Government , will see that the King’s representative is properly housed.
– Did the Prime Minister read the statement in last night’s Herald that yesterday a caucus meeting of the Opposition was held to consider, among other things, the Maternity Allowance Bill ? I should like te know whether this- is the party which, by its noisy declamations, suggests that it never holds a caucus?
– Having been very busy yesterday, I did not read the Herald, and have no knowledge of what was done by the Opposition ; neither do I know that it is the practice of that party to hold caucuses, though I have seen it stated in the newspapers that the party does meet in caucus. «
– On the 28th August the honorable member for Richmond asked for a comparative statement of the prices of meat and butter produced in Australia and sold in London during the. past twelve months. I have obtained figures covering a. period of fourteen months, so as to bring the information up to the end of last month. It is as follows : -
– I wish to make a personal explanation. In the Age report of the proceedings of yesterday an interjection is attributed to me which I did not make. I am represented to have said, apparently referring to members of the Council of Churches, “ their souls are in their boots.” I made no such interjection.
– Will the Minister of Home Affairs inform the House as to the stage which has been reached in connexion with the preparation of the plans for the laying outof the Federal Capital site?
– Those charged with the matter are holding what I hope will be their last conference at the office to-day, and I expect a report immediately after their deliberations have been concluded.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if he is in a position to inform the House regarding the supply of steel rails for the trans-Australian railway. The question was asked the other day, but he was not then able to answer it.
– I hope to be able to give my right honorable friend the information next week.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to a complaint made by the Daily Post, Hobart, on the 1 2th inst., that it is unable to obtain information from the military authorities of that city. The newspaper says -
The reason for this appeared yesterday, when Captain Smith declared candidly that he had no time to give news to The Daily Post. He admitted that he gave news weekly to the Mercury reporter, but added, “ The military claims all of my time that I’m able to give, and if you want news you had better see Lieutenant Robson.” He admitted, however, that Lieutenant Robson was not in the position to give so much information as himself. And so it was left at that, Captain Smith taking up the position that, although he had time to give information every week to the Mercury he had no time to give the same information to The Daily Post.
I ask the Honorary Minister if he will see that the Daily Post reporter is treated in the same way as other press representatives.
– It is the policy of the Minister that all newspapers shall be treated alike in respect to the furnishing of military information. This matter will be brought under his notice.
Stamp Sale Licences - Conduit Works - Rights of South Australian Transferred Officers - Mail Branch Officers, Adelaide : Sale of Stamps
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General if he is aware that a large number of persons who have been selling postage stamps in Sydney have been deprived of their licences. Will he renew these licences as a matter of public convenience ?
– I do not know of any specific cases.
– I have sent the Minister information regarding two cases.
– They have not come under my personal knowledge. It is the custom of the Department to review these licences periodically, it being occasionally discovered that licences issued to meet the public convenience are taken advantage of by persons who desire to save 2½ per cent. on the stamps which they use for their own purposes, or are held by persons who supply institutions which could as easily get their stamps from the post-offices. Thus scrutiny is necessary in the interests of the revenue. Should my honorable friend think that injustice is being done in any case, I should be pleased to look into it.
– On the 15th August the honorable member for Nepean asked, on behalf of the honorable member for Batman, the following questions : -
In connexion with the undergrounding of the telephones -
What classes of officers prepare and check the estimates of cost of the several sections?
What has been the relationship of cost and estimate in respect of each section?
An interim reply was then given, and the following information has now been received : - 1. (a) Conduit Works.-The Assistant En gineer for Conduits, after ascertaining the requirements, either prepares the estimate himself, or calls upon one of the Inspectors acting under him to do so. In the latter case directions are given as to what duct capacities are to be allowed for, starting and finishing points, route, &c. When the foregoing details are furnished, the Assistant Engineer for Conduits checks the estimate and compares it with his notes, making any corrections or amendments considered necessary, as well as arranging for all draughting work required in regard to the proposed work ; the completed estimate in detail is certified to by him before submitting for approval. All proposals and estimates prepared by the Assistant Engineer for Conduits are submitted by him through the Engineer for Lines, who considers their effect on existing works, and on whom the responsibility for this section of work rests under the Electrical Engineer, Victoria.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether, in the event of the Post and Telegraph Association of South Australia obtaining from the Arbitration Court a favorable award from the date of their claim respecting their accrued and accruing rights, the Government would then be prepared to recognise the justness of the claim and give effect to that award as from July, 1904?
– The Government feel they are not called upon to deal with hypothetical cases, and consider the position sufficiently covered by the answer given by the Attorney-General yesterday.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Mr. TUDOR laid upon the table the following paper : -
Railway from Albury.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether he has taken the steps promised on 29th November, 1911, to have full inquiry, and, if necessary, an examination of the route, made in. regard to- a railway from Albury, vid Germanton and Tumut, to the Capital Site; and an approximate estimate of the cost of a railway by this route, and the number of miles that would be saved in travelling from Melbourne ?
– A full inquiry has not yet been made. The country intervening between the Capital Site, Albury, and Tumut comprises some of the roughest in New South Wales, and railway construction through it is likely to be so costly as not to be warranted by the advantages to be gained. The Government of New South Wales will also have to be consulted. I can assure the right honorable member that before anything is done to connect the Capital with -the SydneyAlbury railway line his suggestion will be fully considered.
Debate resumed from 25th September (vide page 3456), on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- On an occasion like this the House, in its cooler moments, will deplore the type of appeal to passion made last night by the Honorary Minister. The secondreading stage of a measure of this character ought to be devoted to weighing calmly and considerately any “suggestion that may be made to perfect anything in the nature of Government assistance and help to women during the crisis of their lives. The honorable member for Parramatta had given a whole train of reasoned thought to the consideration of the Bill, pointing out its defects, and how it could be made more efficient, and he was met in reply with nothing but a denunciatory electioneering address on the part of the Honorary Minister. It is a pity that an opportunity like this should be subordinated to the meanest of political motives. The strongest grounds for caution in dealing with these matters is to be found in the utterances of the Prime Minister himself, and of persons high in the confidence of honorable members opposite, such as
Mr. Jethro Brown, recently appointed chairman of the Sugar Commission. Both those gentlemen have pointed out quite recently how necessary it is to carefully weigh any proposals like those contained in the Bill; but when these “gentlemen were quoted the Honorary Minister could think of nothing but beating his breast - where his heart would have been had the ‘ elections not been so close - and denouncing the Opposition for opposing this proposition before the Opposition had even begun to think of opposing it I
I believe that the honorable gentleman last night was speaking as the mouthpiece of the Ministry. He was put up, I understand, to show us the Ministry’s teeth, and these certainly looked very fine and workmanlike in the window j but I have been examining them overnight, and I find the whole set to be false.. The Honorary Minister began with a statement that, all through the political record of the party with which I have the honour to be associated, is to be found determined resistance to any legislation of a humanitarian character. We are told that old-age pensions were vehemently resisted by this party to the last stage, and that, yet, the party now seeks credit for that reform. As a matter of strict fact - and I only touch on this because the question has been raised - of the three States which did not have oldage pensions prior to the Commonwealth Act, two were States that had long had1 Labour Governments; while the State that first provided old-age pensions was one that had up to that time never had a Labour Government. Even, in this House we find the utmost unanimity reigned amongst members of all parties in regard to the establishment of such pensions in the Commonwealth. I do not think that either a grant such as this to meet the necessities of the spring time of life, or Government assistance to relieve the anxieties of life’s declining days, should ever be made the sport of party, or the opportunity for personal and party profit, but should be put on a higher plane, and considered by honorable members irrespective of our jealousies in this place.
We have heard it said that this is a humanitarian measure. Some of us may wish -to take a little more credit than others, according to the warmth of the support we accord to this particular measure ; but, as a matter of fact, not one of us can pose as more charitable than another because of the point of view from which he regards the Bill. In the first place, it is very easy to be charitable at the public expense - to be liberal and profuse at the expense of other persons. Our duty here is not to portray ourselves as heavensent benefactors at the expense of the people of Australia, but to consider how most worthily we can employ the public funds and resources for meeting a national necessity such as the one under the consideration of the Chamber. We hear much about the singleness of purpose of politicians of all parties and all types. I am not going to differentiate between members on this or that side of the Chamber, but we all know that, with regard to the consideration of motherhood, even my honorable friends opposite have not been entirely consistent. It is proposed now to give £5, irrespective of how much or how little it is needed, to every mother who bears a child. Have honorable members considered what this Parliament has done, and what they themselves have indorsed, with regard to the expenses that maternity entails? If we may be permitted to take a passing glance at the Tariff we find that the mother who has a baby, and will look forward under this Act to getting the bonus two months after her labour, has to face a tax of 35 to 40 per cent, on the baby linen of the infant. Taxes are put on everything that is required : - on the little cot is imposed a duty of 35 per cent. ; trie blankets have to pay 30 per cent. ; socks, 25 per cent. ; bootees for the child, when a little older, 35 per cent. ; and even the comforter has to pay 25 per cent. Not a single thing that the child wears, uses, or needs is overlooked, but has to pay its toll to the revenue of the State.
– What has the honorable member for Ballarat to say about that?
– What has the honorable member for Gwydir to say, who supported the Tariff right through? Let no man cast a stone at another unless he is in a position of blamelessness himself.
– I ask the honorable member for Wentworth, as a family man, whethere he does not know that comforters are very injurious to children?
– I have thought out Wry possible thing that a child might need, just to give a brief resume of the taxation that maternity has to bear, altogether apart from the increased cost of living, as shown in the price of foodstuffs md so forth.
In every possible way maternity is taxed under the existing law ; yet we have a number of “philanthropists” opposite coming along, expanding their chests, and saying, “We at last have thought of a way to assist maternity.”
It seems to me that the real problem is, not how to give grants to persons who have votes, but how to make most comfortable women and most healthy their offspring at this crisis of the mother’s lives. The crisis does not begin with the actual child-birth. It is in existence for a considerable time beforehand. One of the most difficult periods of a woman’s life is the month or two prior to the birth of the child. She is upset, worried, and full of foreboding. The burden she bears has its own effect upon her nervous system, and it is during this period that my honorable friends opposite suggest she should start out apparently under this Bill as a financier ! She is to receive £5 to recompense her for all these things two months after the child, if it lives, or is viable, has been born, or five months after the period of nervous strain begins ; and we were told last night, I think by the Honorary Minister, and I believe also, although I am not quite sure, by the Prime Minister, “ Oh, this is all right; the mothers will be able to operate on the credit of this £5.” They obviously cannot do so, because they do not know that the child is going to live. The credit, then, is not a negotiable one. But, anyway, why ask a woman in this critical period of her life to try tonegotiate this credit of L5 with, perhaps, some pawnbroker? Surely maternity is not to be made a matter for a pledge in the Castles of Three Balls. Surely we have not lowered the glory of womanhood quite as far as that. The whole matter requires to be dealt with, systematically. It needs to be dealt with on an organized basis, and if we are going to deal with it on a humanitarian basis, we must deal with it from the time the crisis begins until the crisis is over. After childbirth a poor mother ought to be looked after for a considerable period, not only as a matter of charity, but as a matter of justice to the State, for, when all is said and done, the circumstances immediately preceding, as well as succeeding, child-birth must have a very considerable influence upon the child that is afterwards to be a citizen of the State. We ought to deal with the matter in an organized way throughout the whole crisis. It is not a mere matter of paying a grant to voters - after all, women have now the right to vote - it ought to be a matter of organized Government assistance to tide women over these crises in their lives, and so to enable the State to be sure of the stamina, mental and otherwise, and the outlook of the children.
Honorable members opposite have made rather a parade of their difference with the Council of Churches and other organizations with regard to the question of illegitimacy. I hold that a woman should not be penalized in an Act of this kind because she has been a victim, for I cannot help feeling that women who get into the awful trouble of bearing a child that is not to bear its father’s name are really victims, and are worthy of every charitable instinct that man has in him. The very fact that the outlook of the mother of an illegitimate offspring is so black and so miserable before child-birth necessitates that Government action, to see that the child’s outlook is not poisoned, should start when that woman’s crisis starts, some months before the period of child-birth really takes place. The Bill, however, does not handle the question in that way. It provides merely for a grant of £5 per head. I doubt whether £5 per head is enough in the cases that really need it; it is £5 too much in the cases that need it not.
It seems to me that this Bill should embrace the whole wide question of the insurance and care of our industrial and working community in every stage of its existence. These matters ought not to be shut up in water-tight compartments. A woman’s crisis should be dealt with throughout its period ; and I do not think that any dole, whether it be on the eve of a general election1, or given apart from any consideration of the kind, will go even a little way to meet the difficulties of this admittedly difficult problem. Some honorable members have referred to the miserable circumstances under which some women enter into that glory of womanhood, maternity. They seem to forget that this grant of ,£5 will do absolutely nothing to lighten the load. It will be obtained months after the great event of woman’s being has taken place. What we want is, by reasoned care and organized foresight, to endeavour to secure that every woman in the Commonwealth who carries out Nature’s purpose shall Be able to bring forth a future citizen of the State in circumstances that will not warp that future citizen’s outlook and will not spoil the mother for future occasions of maternity. I hope that the Government will give some consideration to suggestions such as I have broadly outlined for dealing with this question on an organized scale, and I implore honorable members on both sides not to use this question for party recrimination, but to place it above our own selfish interests and selfish party ends - to place it on high as a national movement for increasing the well-being of Australian mothers and future citizens of this great country.
.- Members of the Opposition, in urging us in the closing session of the Parliament to indulge in a scheme that would involve an expenditure of millions, are asking rather too much. It seems to be characteristic of the Opposition to complain, when we take one step, that we should have taken two. Sometimes, when we take two or three steps, they complain that we have taken too many, and should have taken only one. No matter what action we may take in this regard, I do not think there is any. possibility of pleasing them. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat intimated that the motherhood of Australiawould regard the proposed allowance of £5 as of little value during the most critical periods of their lives. The best judges of the question of whether this allowance will be advantageous or not are the mothers themselves ; and, so far as I have been able to ascertain their opinion, it undoubtedly is that the proposition of the Federal Government is going to be beneficial to those who are to be mothers. I am confident that they understand the position far better than a mere man possibly could do. It has been said that a nation lives in its children. I believe every member of the House desires to preserve the child-life of the community. At this very critical juncture in a woman’s history, instead of one life being at stake, there are often two. Therefore on that occasion all’ possible care should be taken to preserve the lives of both and make them afterwards as healthy and strong as possible. I have been reading recently a book entitled The Infant, the Parent, and the State, by Dr. H. Llewellyn Heath, Fellow of the; Royal Institute of Public Health, Member of the Royal Sanitary Institute, formerly assistant to the Chair of materia medico, and therapeutics of the University of St. Andrews, and late Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Ipswich. This work deals with the various phases of the very subject which we have been debating. There is a preface written by Professor G. Sims Woodhead, M.A., of Cambridge University, who puts the case so finely that i think his words are well worth producing. He writes -
Are we as citizens doing our duty by the citizen of the future? might very well be taken as the type of question that, fortunately, is now being very widely asked in our communities. It is a question not to be lightly answered ; it_ deserves careful consideration. Many are now trying to answer it. Some of those who have made an effort to collect materials on which to found their answer have been astonished at what has arisen out of their search, with the result that it has been driven home very forcibly that as regards the child, even before it was born and for some time after birth, conditions have grown up and have been allowed to continue which, if properly understood, would, ere this, have been got rid of at almost any cost. Some recent attempts to improve the condition, physical, mental and moral, of the children of the poor have been described as socialistic in their tendency. Without quarrelling about words and definitions, may it not .be accepted that it is true economy to insure healthy surroundings for the child, both before and after birth? To put it on its very lowest plane, is it “ good business “ to waste money on the teaching of half-starved children? to allow, unrestricted, the formation of criminals and degenerates through overcrowding, through evil surroundings, through malnutrition, and through drink ?
I think that gentleman has put the case in respect to the present proposal in a nutshell.
– Does the honorable member think this Bill is anything like what that authority is talking about?
– I certainly do. In language true and plain, he has accurately described the measure before the House.
– Do you think the Bill will effect what he is aiming at ?
– To a large extent 1 think it does so. We cannot effectuate social legislation in a hop, step, and jump fashion. We must meditate and deliberate before we launch out on great schemes that will cost the community millions.
– Hear, hear ! You cannot proceed by a crude proposal like this.
– When old-age pensions were introduced, both in the State Parliament and in this Parliament, many critics said that the measures were crude, and made most doleful predictions that nothing but failure could attend Acts of that character. The same moans and complaints are always indulged in by people who see for the first time a proposition placed on the notice-paper of Parliament. I therefore do not take much notice of prophecies of that kind. Every proposal submitted to Parliament should be judged upon its merits, and the very essence of this proposal is to benefit our womenkind and the child-life that comes into- the community. I quite agree with the honorable member for Wentworth that prior to the birth is the time when a woman should be relieved as much as possible of labour and worry. Every one who has studied the question knows that the birth of a child is not the beginning of its life; it is but the continuation of a life. In regard to character, and more particularly in regard to temperament, nerve development, and physical development, one of the most important periods in the life of a child is that prior to its birth. . In that regard, if an expectant mother, especially one in poor circumstances, knows that there will be money available to provide proper attention for her and the child at the critical time, her mother heart and mother nature is relieved of a considerable amount of worry and trouble, which in many cases has been great enough to make a distinct impress upon the life of a child before it was born. Like the honorable member for Maranoa, I have no hesitation in saying that when the first members of our family were coming into the world I, as a worker of the community, would have been exceptionally glad had there been at our disposal a sum of £5 to defray certain expenses. Let me draw a little picture of what happens in many and many a home in Australia. One woman friend visited another, who, pointing to a vase on the mantelpiece, said, “ That is my bank.” Taking down the vase, she scattered on the table pennies, threepenny pieces, and sixpences, nearly all coins of small denomination, which she had been gathering for some time. When asked what these were for, she said, “I am putting by for the time when the little one will be coming into our family.” These small amounts she had been saving out of the meagre wages earned by her husband in order to meet certain liabilities that must be incurred at that time. Very often the mother would have been better physically, and it would have been better for the little one, if she had been able to spend those small amounts to buy herself nourishment..
I have here quotations to show what a wonderful influence, according to experts, the treatment of the mother has upon the child prior to its birth. First let me read the following -
A special sub-committee made a report through the Public Health Committee for Preston in 1902, and among their conclusions were the following : -
Many deaths talcing place during the first month of life, which are returned as due to premature birth, immaturity, congenital debility, and convulsions, may be ascribed to female labour in the mills.
The diminished stamina of the parents is a cause specially associated with the increase in infantile mortality.
I shall not occupy time by reading a table of figures furnished by this expert, it being enough to mention that it discloses the fact that the proper treatment of mothers prior to their confinement has a marvellous effect on the weight of their babies. Information regarding 1,500 children, divided into three groups of 500 each, and subjected to different sets of conditions, shows that where mothers have to work for their living and are improperly fed, the babies suffer ; where they are better fed, the babies come into the world better nourished ; and where they are well fed and properly treated, the babies are heavy and healthy, and make a good start in life. Although the proposed allowance may not be paid in some cases until two months after the child has been born, the prospect of it will be beneficial to mothers prior to that interesting crisis in their lives, and after it.
– Why not inaugurate a scheme making proper provision to deal with the whole subject?
– The honorable member will find me ready to go as far as he would go in providing for unemployment insurance, insurance against sickness, and other reforms of that nature; but at this stage of the life of this Parliament it is not possible to do more than we are now doing. Our support of the Bill has been stigmatized as the result of new-born zeal, and it has been asked, Why this proposition at the eleventh hour? The honorable member for Wilmot will bear me out that provision for a maternity allowance was a plank of the platform of the Tasmanian Labour party at the last State elections. When addressing the people there in regard to it, I said that I did not think the Commonwealth Government would allow a State Government to take the matter up, because it should be dealt with by an Aus tralian scheme covering the whole Commonwealth. I have been informed, too, by the honorable member for Dalley, that the New South Wales Labour party’s platform provides for the. nationalization of health, free and decentralized medical, surgical, and nursing services, State maintenance of hospitals, special care for maternity, the protection of child life, and the supervision of unhealthy or dangerous occupations.
– The New South Wales Government has a scheme for dealing with maternity cases.
– Yes, but it is a comparatively small one. It must be remembered that in this matter there is room for private enterprise, municipal enterprise, and the enterprise of both State and Commonwealth Governments. We cannot do too much for the preservation of the life of our citizens, and particularly of our children. The Governor of Queensland, Sir William McGregor, a shrewd Scotchman, recently had the temerity to suggest that the Government of that State should take some action for the saving of child life. I think we have been told by the Prime Minister and Attorney-General that about 8,000 children die annually whose lives might be saved. Sir William McGregor put the number at 12,000, and said that it would pay Queensland better to spend money in preserving her child life than in providing facilities for immigration.
– That would apply to the whole Commonwealth.
– Yes. It is not often that a Governor discusses questions like these, and considering the character of the speaker, I am inclined to accept both his figures and his opinions as correct. Mention has been made of the views expressed by a deputation of the Council of Churches which waited on the Prime Minister. I was present at that deputation, and heard what was said, and know the manner in which it was said. Of course, clergymen, like other citizens, are entitled to freely express whatever opinions they may hold, but I felt bound to say to some of these gentlemen, “ The arguments you have used against this proposal could be used with equal force against the most beneficent measures that have ever been introduced. They would apply against the establishment of foundling hospitals, lying-in homes, and other institutions provided by the charitable to help. those in need. This is only a case in which the Commonwealth Government is assisting other agencies in the work of relief.” Be it said to their credit, other clergymen have expressed themselves in favour of this proposal, and have gone to the trouble of dissociating themselves from the views expressed by the deputation from the Council1 of Churches. I do not think that these members of the Council of Churches represent the Christian sentiment of the community. The other day a discussion on the subject took place in the Bendigo Anglican Synod, under the presidency of Bishop Langley. There was considerable difference of opinion, and it was finally decided that the synod should take no action in the matter. Silence is usually accepted as giving consent, so that I presume a majority of the members of the synod favour the Government proposal. Bishop Langley, in closing the discussion, said that he entirely agreed with the action of the Government in proposing the bonus ; though that is a wrong term, because it is really a maternity allowance. A lay member of the synod said that he was surprised and pained to learn that Christian ministers had protested against such a beneficent proposal. The Rev. Dean McCullagh, of Bendigo, who is regarded as one of the finest men in the Anglican Church, and who has rendered long and valuable services to the community in which he has lived, speaking on this subject, made use of the following words -
The argument that the bonus would lessen the affection of the child for its parents was a very poor one. He considered education was just as precious to the child as food. The State provided education, and no one would say that by providing education the State was causing the child to lose affection for its parents. If lie thought the bonus would encourage vice, he would denounce it. If the Master were on earth again and could see the poor outcast girl who was a victim to a man’s sin he believed He would stretch out a helping hand to her even as He did to those who were even lower. Those words express far more accurately the true opinion of our Christian bodies than did the deputation of the Council of Churches. I come frequently into contact with clergymen and others associated with church and philanthropic work, and many of them have deplored the action taken by the deputation of the Council of Churches.
– That deputation insulted the women of the country.
– I am content to leave that to the women of the country. I have no wish to be personal, because these and kindred matters should be discussed from a non-party stand-point; but the slur has been cast upon us by the Opposition that the Bill is a party placard. It is rather a poor cry to say that the action of the Government in proposing legislation for the amelioration of the conditions of women, and to help those needing relief, has been taken to gain an advantage at the elections. The women of the country will know how to treat that statement. Personally, I have exceptional pleasure in supporting the measure, and I am sure that every member of the Labour party holds the same view in regard to it as I do. We are supporting a measure which we believe to be in the best interests of humanity. There is a lot said about goods and chattels, bricks and mortar, and broad acres, but the true wealth of a country is the human beings who live in it. If we can make their lives happier, healthier, and better, we should bend our best energies to doing so. Not only in Australia, but in every civilized country, advanced social legislation is being passed, and British and European communities will go further and further in this matter. Forty years ago Prince Bismarck, although a Conservative, when at the head of the German nation and Parliament, introduced legislation which, while there was a cry against it at the time, is now lauded to the skies wherever it is understood. People talk of Socialism in Australia, but they ought to consider the work that is done by some of the municipalities and the Government of Germany. If the Commonwealth Parliament had the same power as that of the German Parliament there would be no hesitation about taking the further steps suggested by honorable members opposite.
– We have the same power.
– That is not so; when we pass legislation of a certain character people who have the means take their case to the High Court ; and some of the most beneficent laws we have passed that Court has ruled out, and seems inclined to rule but. Under the circumstances, we can do nothing better than make an appeal to the people, and I look forward with a great deal of pleasure and hope to the result of the next referenda. If the further powers that we require are granted we may anticipate some useful work by this Parliament; and it affords me much pleasure to play a small part in placing on the statutebook a measure of this beneficent character.
– One cannot help approaching a subject of this kind with the greatest sympathy, because, no matter on which side of the House we sit, we are imbued with those strong humanitarian instincts which are manifesting themselves in all the nations of the world. The leading nations now meet together to discuss matters relating to the preservation of woman and child life, altogether apart from purely State or local objects. Recently the Imperial Government assented to an international arrangement, arrived at in Conference at Berne, in 1906, providing that women should not be compelled to do certain kinds of night work ; and not long ago there was an International Conference, at which I am glad to say Australia was represented, to deal with the important problem of infantile mortality. The representative of Australia at the Conference was an eminent Victorian medical man, Dr. Dunbar Hooper, and there have already been good results from what was then done. For instance, organizations have sprung up in various parts of Australia with the object of regulating the milk supply, by means of which it is hoped that thousands of infant lives may be saved. The problem, however, has not yet been solved, and further effort will be required on the lines suggested to make a complete scheme. We are all agreed that everything possible should be done to protect the motherhood of Australia at the hour of its greatest need, and that the preservation of child life is all important to the nation. We hear much of men’s rights and women’s rights, but it is now beginning to be realized that there is such a thing as children’s rights; and I am glad to say that for many years past men and women have been working unselfishly in this good work. One of the results is that several of the State Parliaments have provided that the children of the State schools shall be medically inspected. In Queensland there ia quite a large staff of medical men and women thus engaged, and the Government have even gone so far as to appoint an oculist to visit the western parts of the State with a view to securing that the children there shall grow up with perfect eyesight. We all desire to give practical help and assistance to our women and children ; and to give that help and assistance, even through State agencies, is no sign of national weakness, but, on the contrary, is a sign of national strength. When those who are strong use their strength to help those who are weak, it speaks well foi the idealism and high spirituality of the community. On many of these subjects we may be all agreed, though, when we come to deal with practical methods of reform, we may differ. Having regard to the humanitarian instincts common to all of us we ought to be able to bring to bear impartial consideration, and out of our mutual counsels evolve reforms applicable to all classes of the community. The Bill before us is very meagre in its terms, and, when listening to honorable members opposite, it is very difficult to ascertain what is the underlying principle. Honorable members are glad to hear from the Prime Minister that this is not a bonus for babies, I understand that the practical object is to protect women in their hour of difficulty and danger - though, incidentally, it is their hour of joy - and at the same time to safeguard the young life brought into the world. We all of us here have the highest respect for motherhood, and feel, with Coleridge, that the mother is “the holiest thing alive.” The mother in the hour of child-birth commands the sympathy, regard, and esteem of every person in Australia. We have to see that every woman, irrespective of class, has proper provision made for this trying time in her existence, and we have to consider how that proper provision is to be applied. Those who are competent to speak on this subject - and I can refer to this from information gained from years of association with those engaged in work of the kind - tell us that the three essentials are the proper nutrition of the mother, abstention from excessive work, and proper medical and nursing asistance and attention. The question is how these can be best applied in all cases. There are those in the community who can well afford to look after themselves, and there are others who can only make the proper provision by the exercise of thrift, while there is a third class utterly incapable of providing themselves with any assistance. As to the last mentioned, it is to the interest of, and a duty upon, the nation that assistance should be extended to them. But what does this Bill propose to do? It seeks to appropriate a certain sum of money in order that £5 may be given to a mother, or some person appointed by her, on the registration of the birth. That embraces the whole scheme, and it is certainly very vague, giving no evidence of having been carefully thought out. There is no safeguard that the money will reach the person for whom it is intended. Technically she may receive it, but we ought to see that she has the benefit of it. The next great defect is that, when the money is paid, there is no guarantee that it will be applied to the proper end. If a mother receives the ^5 two or three months after a birth, how do we know that, in her hour of need, she has received the assistance she requires? What security is there that she will have proper medical and nursing assistance? The Bill is grossly defective, inasmuch as it affords no guarantee of compliance with the three essential conditions I have already mentioned. There is one security, and one only, namely, that the money has to be paid over on a medical certificate. I take it that we are all agreed that the three essentials should be fulfilled, and, that being so, we ought, when the Bill is in Committee, to endeavour to provide that the money shall be properly applied. There are three criticisms that may be applied to the measure. The first is that it is ineffective; the second, that it is unsatisfactory; and the third, is that it is not consistent with the spirit of the Constitution, though I regard the last as a minor point. It is sheer nonsense and humbug to appropriate £5 per head for wealthy people who do not require it; and the only reason I can, conceive for this general application is that honorable members opposite, when on the platform, may be able, in an airy way, to exclaim, “See how just we are; this is no class legislation !” The States can deal with these matters completely and adequately. It may satisfy the vanity of a public speaker, but will it satisfy the taxpayers, who have to provide the money in order that that public speaker may gratify his ambition? A large proportion of this proposed appropriation may go to persons who are wealthy. I am perfectly sure that we have in the community some who, whether they need it or not, will apply for the allowance if it is made available to them. They ought not to apply for it, and they should not receive it. There are in Australia to-day scores of charitable institutions to which I would sooner see the money applied, which, under this Bill, will go to wealthy persons. If I were told that this money had to be expended, and were given my choice as to how it should be spent, I should say at once that I would prefer to see the allowance increased to j£io per head, and given only to those who needed it, rather than that rich and poor alike should receive it. Those in power, however, have willed otherwise. I have dealt with the first class, who do not want this money. Let us now look at the next class, for whom some sort of assistance will have to be devised. A large section of the community consists of those who receive a weekly wage which is not large enough to enable them to put by much to meet expenditure in time of sickness and need. That remark applies to numbers of wage earners in Australia, and I should be prepared to agree to an appropriation of money, either by the State or the Federal authorities, to give assistance in those cases. The third class consists of those who are incapable of supplying their own needs, and these we must treat sympathetically. We must do all that is necessary to meet their requirements. We have to ask ourselves, however, how we can best meet these conditions. What are the agencies that can best be utilized to meet them, and to insure that those who need this assistance will receive it? The taxpayers will raise no objection to any appropriation of money, which they have to find, as long as it is devoted to the legitimate objects I have mentioned. This Bill, however, breaks down seriously, inasmuch as we cannot satisfactorily administer the grant so that it may reach these people in the manner and at the time that we should like it to reach them in order that they may reap the full benefit of our legislation. This difficulty arises from the very nature of our Constitution. It is idle for us to say, “ We are going to do this whether the Constitution will enable us to do so or not.” We have to recognise our responsibility, and to consider whether there is in the Constitution any power enabling us to carry out the humane proposals that we have at heart, and which we all desire to see effectively brought into operation. The first question that has been raised - and it is a very important one - relates to our constitutional power to make a grant or appropriation at all. Honorable members hold different views upon the question, and I admit that there is room for a difference of opinion. I say, however, that if we believe that the principles applied to the American Constitution apply to our own, there is no doubt that the power of appropriation exists, and that we can apply and vote this sum of money to the purpose we have in view. Story, in his Commentaries «n the Constitution of the United States, writes at page 717 -
The argument in favour of the power is derived in the first place from the language of the clause conferring the power (which it is admitted in its literal terms covers it) -
The wording of our Constitution in this respect is just as wide as is that of the American Constitution, which declares in effect that taxes have to be raised for the payment of public debts, and for the genera] welfare of the United States. The section in the Commonwealth Constitution dealing with appropriations provides that we have power to make appropriations “ for the purposes of the Commonwealth,” so that it is just as wide, therefore, as are the terms employed in the Constitution of the United States of America. Story continues - secondly, from the nature of the power, which renders it in the highest degree expedient, if not indispensable, for the due operations of the national Government -
That is to say, the mere fact that we are a National Government implies that we may need sums of money to carry out truly national obligations. That argument has considerable cogency as applied to Australia. We have only to consider for a moment some of the objects for which votes are passed from time to time - the reception of the Association for the Advancement of Science, Antarctic exploration, expenses of attending conferences abroad, and so forth. All these different purposes are part and parcel of our national existence, so that we are not to be bound down to the specific wording of the enumerated powers. Story goes on to say - thirdly, from the early, constant, and decided maintenance of it by the Government and its functionaries, as well as by many of our ablest statesmen, from the very commencement of the Constitution.
That ground does not apply except in a general way to our case. Sufficient time has not elapsed to create such a practice as would enable us to say that we could rely solely upon that argument. In summing up the position, however, Story says -
Appropriations have never been limited by Congress to cases falling within the specific powers enumerated in the Constitution, whether those powers be construed in the broad or the narrow sense.
It will be found that the American Constitution is always interpreted in the sense that it provides for a Government of limited delegated enumerated powers. To use the words of Marshall, C. J. -
This Government is acknowledged by all to be one of enumerated powers. The - principle that it can exercise only the powers granted to it would seem too apparent to have required to be enforced by all those arguments which its enlightened friends, while it was depending before the people, found it necessary to urge. The principle is now universally admitted.
In a recent case, Kansas v. Colorado, where the Court dealt with a relevant v point to that we have before us here, and in which it was held that a certain Act of Congress was ultra vires, because it purported to deal with only certain separate States, the same doctrine was laid down. The American Constitution is one giving only delegated enumerated powers, and Congress can exercise powers only within that specified range. When they come to deal with powers of appropriation, however, it is held that they can appropriate money for practically unlimited purposes,. That is the position of the United States, but doubt has been cast upon our power, because it is contended that the States have a specific right, under section 94 of the Constitution, to all surplus revenue. The fact that they are entitled to the surplus revenue, it is urged, cuts down these wide powers of appropriaton in respect of national purposes of the Commonwealth, specified in clause 51. It is at this point that there are differences of opinion. If we have the power to appropriate, it does not follow that we have power to invade all the powers of the States. Although we may appropriate money for some of the purposes in respect of which the States have power to legislate, we cannot supersede the State authorities by simply making an appropriation in this Parliament, and basing legislation upon the appropriation. Hamilton makes that point very clear in a passage quoted by Story, at page 718. He says, dealing with this general power of appropriation -
The phrase is as comprehensive as any that could have been used, because it was not fit that the constitutional authority of the Union to appropriate its revenues should have been restricted within narrower limits than the general welfare, and because this necessarily embraces a vast variety of particulars which are susceptible neither of specification nor of definition. It is, therefore, of necessity left to the discretion of the national Legislature to pronounce upon the objects which concern the general welfare, and for which, under that description, an appropriation of money is requisite and proper. And there seems no room for a doubt that, whatever concerns the general interests of learning, of agriculture, of manufactures, and of commerce, are within the sphere of the national councils -
Then these words are in italics - so far as regards an application of money.
That is to say, an appropriation of money. -
The only _ qualification of the generality of the phrase in question, which seems to be admissible, is this, that the object to which an appropriation of money is to be made must be general and not local -
The money cannot be appropriated for local purposes; for example, they cannot give it to only one specific State - its operation extending in fact, or by possibility, throughout the Union, and not being confined to_ a particular spot. _ No objection ought to arise to this construction from a supposition that it would imply a power to do whatever else would appear to Congress conducive to the general welfare.
And this is the important point -
A power to appropriate money with this latitude, which is granted in express terms, would not carry a power to do any other thing not authorized in the Constitution, either expressly or by fair implication.
The position, according to this passage from Hamilton, would appear to be that we can appropriate this money, assuming that we have the power of appropriation, for the purpose of affording charitable relief, but that when we come to legislate, on the basis of the appropriation, to provide the machinery, to fix penalties, to organize institutions, and so forth, we may come into conflict with State powers, and that, in so far as we do, we may invade the jurisdiction of another Parliament. What is the difficulty in which it will land us? We are here appropriating money, possibly under a power which we possess, but when we come to carry out the proposal - to administer it, to try to see that the money goes to the people whom we desire to reach, we shall find that we are creating machinery that is certainly of doubtful validity. I think that the Attorney-General said that one reason why we could not legislate in connexion with certain objects was that we should be invading State authority, and would not have power to follow up our purpose. That shows the limitations of our power. When we attempt, in this way, to appropriate and to legislate at the same time, we are acting contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. We may have the power to appropriate, but we may not have the power to create machinery to set up the administration to carry out the scheme in the satisfactory way that we desire.
– Is the Constitution any good at all?
– It is exceedingly good ; but that is the position with which we are faced. Let it be clearly understood that all sides sympathize generally with the desire to assist those who are in need of assistance under the conditions stated by the Prime Minister.
– Have we not the power to discriminate ?
– What we object to is the way in which the Opposition dissemble. They say that they agree to the principle of our proposal, but object to the way in which we intend to give effect to it.
– We are faced with a practical proposition, and we are trying to show honorable members opposite how they can give effect to it. What. I am pointing out is that the present scheme is defective and unsatisfactory, and I do not believe that any honorable member opposite is thoroughly satisfied with it. They may sympathize with its aim and general purposes, but I doubt if they are satisfied with the machinery provided to carry it out.
– What is your remedy?
– Do nothing.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. My remedy is not to do nothing. The Prime Minister was quite right when, at Hobart, he said the true way to carry out an idea of this sort was by a spirit of Federal and State co-operation. If that spirit still prevails, the Government can introduce a Bill to appropriate the money as surplus revenue, and hand it over to the States, which, with their machinery, can accomplish the desired object. If we thought more of the persons to be relieved and less of our respective rights and privileges, it would be better for Australia as a whole.
– Do you think the Victorian Government would co-operate with us?
– They are just as Federal in spirit, and probably more so, than many men who proclaim themselves Nationalists on the platform.
– I wish they would give some evidences of it.
– I will say this of the State Governments generally: Honorable members opposite have boasted that since the Labour Government came into power there has been a magnificent inflow of immigration. The States provided the money and all the organization, and brought the people out here. Then they said to the Commonwealth Government, “This is a heavy burden on us; will you help us to bring the people out here?” To this the Federal Labour party replied, “ We decline to have anything to do with you, as we object to dual control.”
– And the way that Deakin and Groom co-operated with the States was to. write memoranda 1
– I must ask honorable members not to introduce party questions in this way. That is not the sort of spirit in which we expect the Ministerial party to discuss this important subject. The Prime Minister, speaking at Hobart, not at the dictates of any Conference, and not under the compulsion of any Caucus, gatherings, but as a true, free man, facing existing problems with a heart full of sympathy, said, “ We should carry out our object by the loyal co-operation of Federal and State agencies.” Surely there are Labour Governments in power in the States that would work sympathetically with this Parliament? Would the Government of New South Wales turn down any reasonable, fair, philanthropic proposition?
– They propose to supplement this scheme.
– That shows how they are disposed towards it. Another method would be to appropriate the money, and take advantage of all the different municipal and State agencies, or private institutions now existing throughout Australia. These are bodies engaged in the practical working out of these problems. They understand the question, and would see that the money was sympathetically administered. Why should we not try to take advantage of the friendly societies of Australia? I noticed the other day, when passing through Sydney, that Mr. Henry Herron, the secretary of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows, interviewed on this matter, had stated -
At the last annual meeting the question of a maternity benefit of 30s. per week for four weeks to the wives of members of the order was discussed. Previous to the meeting the matter had been brought under the notice of the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and a scale of contributions for the proposed increased benefits was asked for. When the information came to hand it was found that the scale would be too high. In discussing the matter, the Registrar expressed the opinion that the matter should be a national affair, and upon that suggestion we wrote to the State Government, suggesting that a maternity benefit should be paid to the members of friendly societies, and suggesting that it might be advisable to work the same under the Subvention to Friendly Societies Act.
He added that he was pleased to see that the Federal, as well as the State, Governments were taking the matter up. There is one agency that can be used.
– Would that be of any use to those who are not members of friendly societies ?
– I am quite willing to support appropriations of money to assist all those cases which are outside friendly societies.
– They are going to get it, whether you support it or not.
– That settles the whole question t I had an idea that Parliament was a deliberative assembly, and not a registering machine. I believe that if the money were appropriated and the friendly societies utilized by means of a subvention, the money would much sooner attain the desired conditions that I have mentioned than under the scheme at present before the House. After all, why should we not take advantage of the friendly societies if they desire to assist in this matter? We have in Australia 4,564 lodges, with 404,552 benefit members. Their total revenue is .£1,538,582, and their expenditure £1,251,883. Their total accumulated investments amount to ,£4,927.714. Our population is about 4,500,000, and we see that over 404,000 of them, mostly adults, are members of friendly societies. These would be, to a great extent, heads of households. In arriving at the number of persons who are receiving the benefit of friendly societies’ administration, we must take into account the families of these members, so that we may say that probably half the people of Australia to-day are enjoying those benefits. We ought to express our gratitude and approbation to those who have produced this record of the growth of friendly societies in Australia. It would be far better if a subvention of this kind were administered by them than by a cold official who simply sends a postal note along. The work of the friendly societies represents the true spirit of brotherhood, help and assistance. Honorable members opposite may sneer and laugh at friendly societies, but that does not answer my contention that if the maternity allowance were administered by the officers of the friendly societies more true sympathy would be shown. They could set down the conditions under which it would be applied, and the people would know that services had been rendered to those who needed them, and that Australia had benefited by the application of the money.
– Were you ever- a member of a’ friendly society?
– As a matter of fact, I am a life member of one. There is probably a great deal of force in what the secretary of the Oddfellows says, to the effect that their funds are not adequate to enable them to carry out a maternity allowance scheme, and Dart of this money could be used to supplement their funds in order to enable them to give effect to their beneficent designs. If we did this, the three conditions I have enumerated could be carried out: We should know that the friendly societies would supply the money to the people at the time it was needed. The societies might be able to provide the medical assistance required, and also send the nurses in order that the mothers might be looked after properly. In addition to the friendly societies, there are many other institutions which have been doing beneficent work in this regard. I am willing to assist in any appropriation of money which would reach all those cases which are outside of friendly societies.
– Hear, hear ! Any way but the right way !
– I am contending for the true and right way. Honorable members opposite have not given us any idea or scheme or principle. They have indulged in a lot of platform stuff, but we are asking them to consider this matter seriously.
– I must ask honorable members to discontinue interjecting. There are one or two honorable members who have been very prominent in that regard this afternoon. I do not wish to mention their names, but I shall have to do so if interruptions continue.
– The people who are most incompletely provided for in Australia, in the matter of medical assistance and nursing, are those who reside in the bush districts. The problem we have before us in dealing with them will not be solved by merely voting the sum of £$. Whether we like it or not the allowance will have to be supplemented by a large number of bush-nursing schemes. There are in existence at present in many parts of Australia hospitals which are doing good work for those residing in the bush. I have it from those employed in the hospitals that these have been most beneficent institutions for the women of the bush in maternity cases. These agencies must be supplemented in their work.
– We ate quite willing to do that.
– 1« am glad to hear the honorable member say so. Greater assistance might be given by contributions to the funds of many of these institutions than by wholesale donations which will go. to rich people who have no need of them., As regards the class of people who are outside of friendly societies, I may mention the case of those women who have to earn their living without any man to support them. Those are the persons who ought to get our help and assistance. I quite agree with the provisions in some laws in certain parts of the world, prohibiting women from undertaking work at all at certain times. The result of that is that they have to be supported during the period of the prohibition, and I think that is a humane and proper condition. It is provided in the Act passed recently in Germany that -
Women must not be kept at work before and after their confinement for a total period of eight weeks. They may resume work only on proof being adduced that at least six weeks have elapsed since their confinement.
In England a section of the Factories Act imposes a penalty upon any employer who knowingly employs a woman for a certain period after her confinement.
– It is evaded every day.
– If it is, that does not justify the man’s act. The prohibition is right.
– How long before confinement?
– Unfortunately there is no prohibition in that regard, and that is where the Act is defective. The States can- deal with these matters completely and adequately.
– Those agencies are not effective.
– They are not intended to be.
– Laws which are not intended to be effective should not be on the statute-book, but the laws on the statutebook should be honestly administered, and if not effective should be made so. The proper agencies for this are the States. It is not desirable, in the interests of the infant life of the Commonwealth, that married women should be employed in factories shortly before the bearing of children. I understand that there are about 75,000 women working in the factories of Australia, but I have been unable to ascertain how many of these are married. According to English statistics, the mortality is higher in districts where the majority of mothers are working than in other districts where they are not ; and Mr. John Burns has said that the mortality of the children of working women is twice as great as that of the children of mothers who do not go out to work. We cannot shirk our national responsibility in this matter, but, as practical men, we must endeavour to ascertain what are the proper agencies for dealing with the problem. Inquiry shows that the proper and effective agencies are the State Governments. The Commonwealth cannot provide for the proper feeding of women before confinement; it cannot prohibit the employment of women shortly before confinement; and it cannot require medical attendance and certificates. As we have not power to do these things, the proposal before us cannot be productive of much good, and, being contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, will not give satisfaction. More could be done if the money appropriated were handed to State agencies; but, as the Bill stands, it is crude and ineffective, and its want of discrimination is absurd. I have been asked - Has this Parliament the constitutional power to do anything effective? My reply is that it has. We have power to pass laws relating to insurance, and, by providing an insurance scheme, we could deal with the whole subject on a comprehensive basis. We are living to-day in a time of prosperity ; but it is the history of Australia that droughts and depression follow periods of prosperity. When droughts occur, those employed by the rural industries are largely without employment, transport lessens, and the railway and similar services are retrenched. There is a falling off in the demand for goods in the cities, and hundreds engaged in shops and factories are thrown out of work. At such a time, large numbers of men need work, and are ashamed to beg for the necessaries of life. One of our big problems is- how to preserve regularity of employment and a constant standard of living in times of adversity and prosperity. Honorable members have known this during the whole time that they have been in power, but it is only on the eve of a general election that any humanitarian proposal is put forward. One big problem is how to provide for periods of unemployment. The provision of medical attendance, maternity relief, and other humanitarian reforms are part and parcel of a movement which should be embodied in a scheme of national insurance. Such a scheme should be comprehensive, including various forms of insurance, and thus covering maternity allowances. This is what Chiozza Money says of LloydGeorge’s scheme, on page 202 of his book Insurance v. Poverty -
Insured women, married or unmarried, will receive “ in confinement “ 30s., which may be paid in cash or in kind. Observe that “ confinement “ is not defined ; the presumption is for a wide construction of the term, to include pre-viable delivery.
The wives of insured men, although not themselves insured under the scheme, will also receive the maternity benefit.
If a woman is as an employed contributor insured, she will receive sickness benefit as well as maternity benefit, which amounts to a double maternity benefit (i.e., £3), whether her husband is insured or not. (Sub-section 6.)
Maternity benefit becomes payable after the insured woman, or the husband of the uninsured woman, has paid contributions for 26 weeks. (For voluntary contributors the waiting period in this respect is 52 weeks.)
The mother has the right to decide whether she will be attended by a doctor or by a properly certified midwife, and she will have free choice of doctor or midwife.
An insured woman receiving maternity benefit has not to pay her contributions while away from work in consequence of her confinement.
Maternity allowances in the Old Country, in Germany, and other parts of Europe are part and parcel of general schemes of national insurance, and to be effective under our Constitution should be part and parcel of such a scheme here. Honorable members may object that national insurance is based on individual contributions, but to meet the cases of those who could not take advantage of the scheme, I should be prepared to supplement its funds so that every case could be dealt with in the spirit in which we desire relief to be given. With a national insurance scheme, we could legislate effectively for the preservation of the life and health of the mother and child, determine and enforce the necessary conditions, and exercise the humane supervision that is wished for and necessary. Great Britain has reason to be proud of the splendid work of Lloyd-George.
– Despite the opposition of the Conservatives.
– He had to meet the opposition of the Conservatives and the Socialists, but, with the aid of the Liberals, carried his scheme through. This is what he said of it -
There is growing and spreading at the present time a consciousness that some features of the social conditions of this country are a blot upon the fair name of our nation. To this consciousness the National Insurance Scheme makes its appeal. It calls for certain elements of sacrifice from all ; it asks of the industrial population mutual thrift and providence, from the State and the employer it demands the recognition of obligations hitherto generally neglected. If this appeal be not made in vain - as I, for one, am confident it will not be - and the campaign against poverty, squalor, and disease in our midst evokes the same patriotism that is always ready to leap to’ the call of external danger, then the National Insurance Act will prove to have provided a better and firmer foundation for our national greatness.
Obviously, such a scheme would provoke great antagonism, but he had the courage, strength, and capacity to see it through. He was dealing with new problems under unascertained conditions, but he had to guide him the experience of European nations. In Germany, the insurance receipts in 1908 amounted to ^19,800,000, and the expenditure to ;£i8, 900,000, the assets being about ,£13,000,000. Those figures show how greatly these social reforms have spread in that country. Provision is made for the people in their several localities to exercise co-operation and control. Understanding their own difficulties, they are allowed to deal with their own problems, instead of being compelled to submit everything to a central authority. In that way, lessons of co-operation and thrift of incalculable advantage are being taught to the country. The same thing may be done in Australia, but it must not be commenced in a crude way. We must study our special conditions and needs, discovering the problems to be faced, and applying sound principles adapted to local conditions. Thus there is ample scope for our activities and energies. Although we may differ about means and agencies, there ought to be no diversity of opinion in regard to the objects in view. Although, naturally, a scheme like this evokes our sympathy, we have to consider and provide a permanent solution of great problems - a solution %tha.t will last beyond the Parliament of to-day, and adapt itself to Australian needs and conditions. We have to devise a scheme which will give continuity and permanence, and be of ultimate good to the nation as a whole.
In my opinion this scheme is unsatisfactory, ineffective, and inconsistent with the spirit of our Constitution. There ought to be a national insurance scheme whereby those who have not the means to contribute may be assisted out of the national wealth ; because, if poverty exists, it is a national as well as an individual responsibility. Although we may differ, let us hope that the same human instincts animate us all, and that in this matter we shall rise superior to party politics and party considerations. I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ no provision for maternity allowance, which does not form part of a national insurance scheme, providing for sickness, unemployment, and medical attendance as well as maternity, and subsidized by an Appropriation to the extent necessary to make the benefits immediate and adequate, will be effective, satisfactory, or consistent with the spirit of the Federal Constitution.”
– This has been referred to as a Baby Bonus Bill, but the Prime Minister made it clear that there is nothing to justify such a title.
-A practice has grown up which, has been the cause of difficulty, so far as I am concerned; and I take this opportunity to place the position before the House. An amendment has now been proposed ; and the practice hitherto, under such circumstances, has been to allow discussion on the amendment and on the motion. If that course is continued, and any honorable member, after the amendment has been disposed of, desires to assert his right to speak on the main question. I have not the power to stop him. That being so, I have decided to compel every honorable member who ‘speaks now to confine himself entirely to the amendment.
– That is unfair to those who have not yet spoken.
– It is not unfair, because such honorable members will still have a right to speak on the main question when the amendment is disposed of.
– When 1 rose I thought that the practice hitherto followed would be continued, and that, not having spoken earlier, I should be at liberty to discuss the amendment! and also the motion. However, I submit myself to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and shall limit my remarks to the amendment.
– The honorable member need not limit his remarks at all.
– If honorable members opposite are anxious to come to a decision on the question, and are prepared to take a vote now, I shall not stand in the way; but I do not wish to lose my right to speak on the amendment, and afterwards find that the Opposition insist on carrying on the debate. I am not ‘opposed to a system of contributory pensions. In my desire to make provision for myself in my old age, and for my family, I have invested in an insurance company. I know that this is a proprietary company, and that part of the profits earned out of my money goes towards the emoluments of those personally interested. I have the further knowledge that the success of this association, and the guarantee for the provision I desire to make, are at the tender mercies of the management, which may be good, and secure the end I have in view, but may, on the other hand, turn out bad, and result in the loss of all the money I have invested. I have always realized this, and, not in this Parliament, but in another Parliament, I have insisted that the Government should undertake a national assurance scheme, with the backing of the nation, and without that liability to failure inseparably, associated with private undertakings. I am, therefore, in hearty sympathy with any fair and reasonable proposal for national insurance which will enable me to become a contributor to the provision to be made for myself or my family. There is, however, no analogy between a proposal of that kind and a proposal such as that before us.
– The proposal before us is part of the greater national scheme.
– If so, there is no reason why the present proposal should be hung up until the wider scheme is introduced.
– Why was not the wider scheme introduced in the first instance?
– The greater scheme is one requiring considerable attention and consideration; it is a scheme not for the tail end, but for the beginning of a Parliament. The proposal before usis a comparatively small scheme, which, while part and parcel of the wider scheme suggested, is distinct and complete in - itself. Under the circumstances, there is no justification for defeating the Bill in the manner proposed by the amendment. a3 a matter of fact, if we pass the Maternity Allowance Bill, it can be used as l>3<] a lever for securing the wider scheme in which I and others are interested. I shall support the Bill, because it is within the range of practical politics, requiring only the assent of this Parliament to come into operation, and meet an urgent national need.
– I understand that, in my absence from the chamber, an amendment has been moved, and, having read it, I should like to say, as briefly as possible, that the Government cannot accept it. To accept this amendment would mean delay, and the defeat of the purpose and object of the Bill. The amendment proposes a scheme that is problematical and uncertain.
– Why problematical? In what sense?
– It means, if anything, a scheme of insurance that would take years to mature ; the object of the amendment is evidently the defeat of the Maternity Allowance Bill. Let us look at the position in which this amendment places the Opposition. Honorable members opposite say that the Bill before us is unconstitutional.
– As it stands, it is doubtful.
– And the Opposition wish to make it doubly doubtful by introducing four or five other schemes. On the plea of making the scheme more effective, they desire to make dead sure that it will not be constitutional. We shall proceed with this Bil) in the meantime, leaving honorable members opposite to give effect to their by-and-large notions when they have the opportunity to do so.
– The Prime Minister, in his rather heated protest against the amendment, stated, in the first place, that it had been moved with the object of delaying the carrying into effect of the proposal embodied in the Bill. A careful perusal of the amendment will show, however, that it simply provides for a scheme of national insurance, which is to be subsidized by the State, in order that its benefits may become immediately operative. That part of the amendment completely disproves the statement of the Prime Minister that it has been moved merely to delay the Government project. The right honorable gentleman also stated that the benefit of such a scheme as that outlined in the amendment was problematical. In making that statement, he ignored the fact that schemes such as that proposed by the Opposition are eminently effective in other countries. They cover, not a fraction of the community in which they are operating, but by far the larger proportion, and are proving most beneficial. Mr. Lloyd George’s scheme, passed through the House of Commons last year, provided immediate relief, since it was subsidized from the National Treasury. That is what is proposed by the Opposition in this case. Our scheme would provide for a wider range of benefits than that covered by the Bill, and they would come into effect quite as speedily as would any benefit that might be derived from the partial scheme introduced by the Government. We are all agreed that the object sought to be attained by this Bill must claim the attention and sympathy of every right-thinking member of the community.
– The honorable member is now making a speech similar to that which he made on the main question.
– I am replying to a statement by the Prime Minister, that the amendment was designed to bring about delay, and that the benefits of the scheme for which it provides were problematical. What I wish to show is that the- scheme would not only provide benefits as speedily as any proposal made by the Government, but provide benefits wider and more far reaching than those for which provision is made in the Bill.
– The honorable member will be out of order in discussing that matter.
– Then I would ask you, sir, to instruct me as to the extent to which I am limited by the wording of the amendment. It provides for a scheme of national insurance, covering unemployment and sickness, and providing for medical benefits as well as for a maternity allowance.
– Does the honorable member think that if it provided also for a land tax, he would be justified in discussing the land tax?
– I should like to know whether I am at liberty to discuss the systems that are expressly covered by the amendment.
– The honorable member may make a reference to them, but must not discuss them in detail.
– I wish to show that the amendment will not mean delay, and that, by means of a subsidy from the Com monwealth, the relief for which it provides can immediately be given. I wish also, to combat the statement that the benefits of such a scheme are problematical. As a matter of fact, the advantages of such a scheme have been proved beyond dispute by older nations that have had to face problems with the like of which we have never yet been confronted. In these circumstances the charge made by the Prime Minister has no foundation in fact. The sincere desire of the Opposition is that the splendid and beneficent proposition embodied in the amendment shall be carried out as speedily as possible. Our complaint is that the Government proposal does not go far enough, and that it is ineffective in the sense that it provides for the payment of a lump sum after childbirth, when, as a matter of fact, a scheme worked out upon an actuarial basis - a scheme such as those in operation in older countries - would provide for a maternity benefit, both before and after confinement, as well as for benefits in other directions. Under such a scheme we should also provide, at least in part, against sickness and unemployment. The amendment so eloquently put before the House by the honorable member for Darling Downs has my hearty support. I regret that the Government have failed to display that foresight and statesmanship, as well as that degree of human feeling, which is necessary to enable provision to be made for various forms of necessity to which certain sections of the community are, from time to time, subject. Honorable members opposite have referred with derision to the attitude of the Opposition, but the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Darling Downs will show that there is no want of sympathy on our part, and no desire to shelve a provision in the principle of which we all believe. Our desire is that the National Parliament shall tackle this national problem, not in piecemeal fashion, but by means of a comprehensive scheme such as that which we have indicated. The amendment, if carried, would mean the extension of help to various sections of the community, not only whilst they were incapacitated, but whilst they were unemployed. Under it, at the same time, encouragement would be given 10 thrift, and to the development of that selfreliance and character, without which no nation can be great. In initiating any great scheme of this kind we have to take care that, whilst enabling us to discharge important functions of government, it will also encourage citizens to help themselves in their time of health and strength. That is the aim of the Opposition. We do not desire to shirk our responsibility, and it is for that reason that the amendment has been submitted. I believe that the scheme which we propose would carry out the object which the Government have in view in a far wider and more comprehensive way, and at an expense to the State not largely in excess of the amount that is to be expended on the proposed maternity allowance. The honorable member for Darling Downs told us that we had in Australia over 400,000 members of benefit societies.
– The honorable member is now discussing the main question, to which he has already spoken.
– There are various agencies which can be pressed into the service of the community, and which would help us in carrying out a scheme of this kind. Schemes of national insurance, similar to that indicated in the amendment, have been carried out successfully in Great Britain and Germany, where every agency - national, State and municipal - > has been pressed into the service of the State to help to make them successful. The more this question is considered, the more will it come home- to the genius and statesmanship, which, I hope, reside in this House, that the scheme proposed by the Opposition is the only one possible under Australian conditions. It would be one of the most Beneficial, far-reaching, and permanent schemes ever passed by this Parliament. The Parliament of the Commonwealth has done Herculean work since it was first elected. Probably, in spite of the criticism directed against it, no Parliament has carried measures of greater importance. I believe that many of the laws passed by us, although not quite as successful as we had hoped they would be, have redounded to our credit, and have -.upon them the impress of statesmanship. I know of no Commonwealth measure, however, that is of such immense benefit to the less fortunate, the temporarily incapacitated, and the unemployed of the community, as would be a Bill framed on the lines which this amendment suggests. It is unfortunate that the Government, instead of straining the Constitution, did not act within its terms as regards insurance by bringing before the House a Bill that would not only have redounded to their credit, but would probably have marked the finest achievement of this National Parliament during its short history. It is a wonder to me that the Labour party did not seize the opportunity. No better time than the present has ever presented itself to this Parliament for passing a comprehensive scheme. . It is not in times of adversity or drought that great schemes of this kind, involving the expenditure of- large sums of money, should be initiated. A time of prosperity and abounding revenue, like the present, when, there is very little unemployment in Australia, and when, generally speaking, wages and conditions are good, would have been a golden opportunity to bring forward a comprehensive scheme that could have been made immediately effective by a directsubsidy from the State. I am pleased that the Opposition have tabled an amendment, and only regret that the House is not able unitedly, independent of party considerations, to bend its energies to the task of placing on the statute-book a measure which would have exemplified the finest work of this Parliament.
– I am in favour ,of a general scheme to provide for unemployment, accident, and death insurance supported by the Government to a sufficient extent to bring a reasonable scheme within the reach of the masses of the people, but I am absolutely opposed 0 to using that scheme as a means of defeating the present proposal.
We know that the party on the Opposition side have been trooping in and out of their party room for some days past, to try to find some means of defeating this proposal, and yet appearing to the public to support it. Those gentlemen are not prepared to oppose our legislation straight out. They have their devious means; they have their back-stairs ways of pretending to the public to support a thing on the one . hand, while doing their utmost to defeat it on the other.
Now we know the reason why the honorable member for Parramatta spoke for an hour and five minutes last night, and yet did not tell us what he was going to do as regards the Bill. . We know now why the Leader of the Opposition talked all round the proposal, but did not say whether he was going to vote for or against it. We know, also, why one after the other, members of the Opposition have been raising the constitutional issue. Every one of them has a great, kind heart, and is very anxious to do something for the motherhood of Australia, but when a practical proposal comes along which will give them an opportunity of doing it now, they say, “ We cannot do it because of the Constitution.” Another section says, “ You are not going far enough.” Why do they not rise and move that £25 apiece should be paid to each mother?’ They say, “We want to provide for these mothers for seven or eight weeks before childbirth, and seven or eight weeks afterwards.” I say deliberately that every man on the other side of the House knows that such a scheme as the honorable member for Darling Downs has submitted this afternoon is an absolute impossibility between this time and the general election. The honorable member for Wimmera has just been outlining a scheme including unemployment insurance, sick benefits to men and women, medical benefits to men and women, and maternity allowances. He suggested that we should subsidize all the friendly societies and benevolent institutions throughout the length and breadth of Australia, but he did not forget to say that his proposal should- only be undertaken “ after a proper actuarial calculation of the whole thing.” The honorable member knows that such a scheme as that is an utter impossibility inside of at least two years, and probably four or five years.
– What about the Lloyd- 3 George scheme? You have not read it.
– Mr. Lloyd-George’s scheme was inaugurated only after the most extensive inquiry. It took some years to prepare, as the honorable member knows, and yet he wants the public to believe that a great scheme covering the whole continent of Australia, and dealing not only with maternity allowances, but with sick and medical benefits for the whole population, and unemployment pensions also, could be brought into effect in the few short months at our disposal.
– You have had two and a half years to do it.
– The honorable member’s party have had ten years, and have not done a thing in that direction. When the Labour party come along and wish to do something for the motherhood of Australia, not in five or ten years’ time, but now, the Opposition, with a fair face but with a dagger behind their back, do their best to destroy the proposal. It is a tremendous task to work out a scheme ‘for unemployment pensions all over Australia.
– But you agree with the idea?
– Yes; I placed such a scheme before my constituents before the last election, and, so far as I am concerned, the proposal before the House is only a beginning of what we ought to do for the mothers of Australia. It is something which lies within our reach to do, and that is what I like about it. We can give the mothers this assistance how, and go on preparing the other scheme. When the general scheme is ready, we can, if advisable, merge a maternity endowment into it. Meanwhile, let us go on with this.
Examine the business sheet, and note the measures to be dealt with this session. We have the Navigation Bill-
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– I submit, sir, that I am entitled to make a passing reference to the long list of measures on the notice-paper, making it an absolute impossibility, if the amendment were carried, for it to be given effect to during the life of this Parliament.
– The honorable member must not deal with the other questions on the notice-paper.
– I am compelled to bow to your ruling. Honorable members opposite know that there is a long list of measures which it is probable we shall have to sit day and night to pass, and yet they want to have a scheme carried out that is bigger than the Navigation Bill, and desire the maternity allowance measure to be hung up until it is done. It simply means that they are opposed to the Bill. The Age said, in its leading article, this morning, that the reasons the Opposition were giving in their speeches were against the Bill, but they were afraid to go over to the other side and vote against it. This amendment is a way out for them, devised after the many Liberal caucuses they have had. We knew it as soon as the honorable member for Darling Downs rose. We could see from the trend of his remarks that the whole thing had been arranged, and that an amendment would be moved in order to put the umbrella up for them. They knew they would want something to shield them from the showers of adverse public criticism. They desired to seem to offer the public something better than the Government were offering.
– It means a fourth Leader of the Opposition.
-They have been *>o long in making up their minds that their leaders have talked out time. They have spoken one after the other, so as to give the party an opportunity to have their meetings and come to a decision. As a consequence, it came right down to the turn of the honorable member for Darling Downs.
– You know every point of the game !
– I know the honorable member fairly well. I have watched his career for some years. Whenever the honorable member wants to oppose anything, especially a proposal by the Labour party, he never opposes it on its merits. You cannot find in the whole of his speeches any instance of his opposing a solitary Labour measure on its merits. When he gets up to debate it, he uses fine words and phrases, saying, “I am in favour of this democratic legislation, but I absolutely object to the way the Government are going about it.” He then proposes some other way that is absolutely impossible, and he afterwards tells the public, “I was perfectly in favour of this great humanitarian idea, but the Government were utterly misguided in the way they wanted to do it, and it was not against the principle, but against the Government’s methods, that I voted. y That is the way the Opposition find a way out every time, but I venture to say that this little ruse in connexion with the maternity allowance will not deceive a man or woman in this country.
If I wanted to make any party capital out of this thing, the Opposition have absolutely given me the trump card. I could ask for absolutely nothing better to deal with on the platform’ than this hypocritical proposal of the Opposition to give us something that they know it is utterly impossible to give at this stage. Of course, we know that an insurance scheme, for which the crowd outside have to pay, is the great cure-all of the Opposition for the ills of the body politic. What they object to is that this Bill is giving something in the shape of a national endowment to the mothers of Australia - making a present to them from the National Parliament. It is the nation’s tribute to the mothers of the Commonwealth. The Opposition say, “Yes; we will provide the machinery all right, but you must pay for it yourself.” What they object to is that we are compelling the landlords of this country to pay some of their wealth into the public Treasury, and that we are going to use the money to help the mothers of Australia. The Opposition want to relieve the landlords of what they are paying into the Treasury, and to compel the mothers to help themselves. What they want is a measure, not for the protection of the mothers, but for the protection of the poor, trembling, sickly, landlords, who have had put on them lately a plaster which has made them feel rather out of sorts in the place where it touches them most. The proposal is an attempt to take this plaster off the landlords, and to put the burden on the mothers of Australia, who already have too heavy a load. The honorable member for Darling Downs commenced by speaking of his sympathy for the mothers of the country. He said that this is no party matter; that our hearts everywhere are overflowing with sympathy with the women of the country ; but the conclusion of his speech reminded me of the couplet -
It is all very well to dissemble your love, But why did you kick me downstairs?
While professing to be ready to give help to the mothers of Australia, the honorable member proposes to kick this Bill providing immediate assistance downstairs, and into the gutter. Honorable members opposite, after their cogitation and their caucuses, have done something which it will take them twelve months to explain to the electors, and particularly to the mothers of Australia. Why are they not honest with the public? Why do they not say, “ We are against this proposal, and shall vote against it,” instead of seeking to defeat it in a back-stairs manner? They have not the moral courage to vote against the Bill. Therefore they are appealing to the Women’s National League, and to those of the same way of thinking as the deputation from the Council of Churches that waited upon the Prime Minister. They seek to placate the reactionary forces of the community by opposing the passage of the Bill, and, at the same time, try to save their faces by telling the public that they are in favour of a general contributory / scheme of insurance. I wish them every sort of good luck with the political grist that tactics of this kind will bring to their mill. Personally, I am delighted that they have come out, in their true colours. They are opposed to doing anything for the mothers of Australia in the only practical way at the present time open to us.
. The honorable member for Cook has tried to tear the amendment to tatters, although expressing himself in favour of all that it contains. He favours insurance against unemployment, and against sickness, and the provision of medical aid, but his argument for rejecting the proposal of the Opposition is that there is no time. The Labour party has now been in office for nearly three years, yet, until six months ago, nothing was heard from it about a maternity allowance. At the Inter-State Conference of the Labour party held at Hobart, in January last, Senator Needham proposed’ a bonus for babies. That was rejected on the voices, practically without discussion. The proposal now before the House amounts to the same thing. The Bill provides for a maternity allowance ; but unless the child is born alive, or it is a viable child, the mother is to get nothing. That is practically a Bill to provide bonuses for babies. But at Hobart the Prime Minister said that all such proposals as these were unconstitutional, and, therefore, it would be useless to agree to them. The Honorary Minister, at the Labour Conference held at Hobart, proposed that pensions be provided for widows and orphans, which, constitutionally, would be on the same ground as the present proposal; but the Prime Minister is reported to have said that-
No one would be readier than he to exercise a power of that kind, but he’ was afraid that it was not within the Constitution. An amendment of the Constitution would have to be brought forward to meet this end, and it should not be limited to widows and orphans. He did not know that any good purpose could be served by putting this on the platform if there was no constitutional power to carry it into effect. He believed in the principle, but he must vote against it.
For the first time in the history of Federation there has been plenty of money available for this and kindred purposes during the occupancy of office by the Labour party, because the Braddon section ceased to have force shortly before the party came into power ; but although the party has had command of all this money, no proposal for maternity allowances came from it until, at the January Conference in Hobart, it was made and rejected, almost without discussion. Yet now the honorable member for Cook says that there was no time to consider a comprehensive insurance scheme.
– The honorable member is dealing with the main question, but must confine himself to the amendment.
– The honorable member for Cook dealt with the measure as a whole.
– I did not follow hip closely; but if that is so, he was not inorder, and I ask the honorable member for Franklin not to follow his example.
– I did not do so.
– Most distinctly the honorable member did.
– I have always been in favour of compulsory insurance. When the old-age pensions question was being discussed, I suggested pensions at the rate of £1 a week, and pointed out that they could be provided for if a small contribution were exacted from every young; man in the community, to be continued while he was in the prime of life. My, opinion is that the single man, while young, should pay the largest contribution, a reduction being made to married men for every child born to them. Such a systems of insurance would be of enormous benefit to our community, and should include insurance against unemployment.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we can provide against unemployment ?
– Under the Constitution we can legislate in regard to insurance generally ; I do not think that there is any limitation of that power. If we cannot provide for insurance, we cannot provide for a maternity allowance. The question of constitutionality is, however, one for lawyers. As a layman, I do not venture an opinion on it, though I say it is a pity that so much of the time of the High Court is occupied in testing the constitutionality or otherwise of our legislation. About four years ago the unemployed of Melbourne practically rushed the Queen’s Hall, urging the Commonwealth Government of the day to provide work. At that time many hundreds of persons were walking the streets of Melbourne without work.
– Was the Labour party then in power?
– It was sitting behind the Government of the day.
– Which was then led by the honorable member’s leader.
– He was the leader of the honorable member for Cook then. The honorable member says that there is no time to consider the proposals of the Opposition, of which he says he is. in favour, and. in support of his statement: he pointed to a lot of wretched notices on the business-paper. Most of the matters there referred to could be left over until next year, much better than the proposals which the Opposition have put before this Chamber. If there is need for legislation of this kind, as I believe there is, time should be found for it. It is the weakest of excuses to say, on the eve of a general -election, that there is no time to carry proposals of which one is in favour. Why this new-born zeal for the mothers of Australia? We heard nothing of this proposal until it was found that a general election was approaching. At the Labour party’s Conference at Hobart, in January, no proposal was made for a maternity allowance, but a proposal for a bonus for babies - which was practically the same thing - was turned down.
– Therefore, the members of the party are not machine-controlled.
– They act like a machine when struggling for their lives. I do not blame them; they have before them the results of the State elections all over Australia, and of the Boothby and Werriwa Federal by-elections.
– We shall soon have the result of the Franklin’ election.
– i am willing to stake my majority against that of the honorable member. Honorable members opposite have been asking themselves a momentous question which people have been asking for 2,000 years on a much more serious question, namely, “ What shall we do to be saved? “ A maternity bonus seems to be the only means of saving the Labour party ; and they are throwing £5 notes at the mothers of Australia after robbing them of their votes, thinking thus to save their miserable political lives. In my opinion, however, the Labour party will not be successful. We should never have heard of this proposal had it not been that honorable members opposite know, as =the honorable member for Bourke pointed out some time ago, that they are “marching to their Sedan.” God knows that I desire to give all assistance possible to every woman who needs it; and, perhaps, there are men on this side of the House who have done as much as some honorable members opposite for suffering humanity. My own opinion is, however, that not more than one-fifth of the mothers of Australia will really need this grant; and, in order to assist that one-fifth, the Government are throwing a large part of ,£400,000 into the laps of the wealthy, who do not need it.
– We do not desire to discriminate.
– There is discrimination in the case of old-age pensions; and all this hypocrisy comes with very bad grace from honorable members who support a scheme under which every applicant has to prove his poverty.
– Does the honorable member not know that we propose to remove that objection by an amendment in the Old-Age Pensions Act this session?
– But win the
Labour party do so? We have been told by the honorable member for Cook that there is “ no time “ ; but I should not be at all surprised if the Government do bring forward the proposal mentioned by the honorable member for Bass, since they find that the Maternity Bonus Bill is falling rather flat. There is no doubt that suffering motherhood should be rendered every aid ; but every speech and interjection from honorable members opposite shows fully and truly the main object of this measure; party considerations and vote-catching have inspired that proposal from start to finish. The honorable member for Cook is in favour of every .proposal in the amendment, but says that he will be compelled to vote against it because there is no time to carry it into effect. The Government have been three years in office, and yet we are told that they have “ no time.” If the reforms mentioned are carried out one at a time, like the maternity bonus, it will be fifteen years before the whole scheme, which we all desire, can be put into operation. As I have said, in four-fifths of the cases of childbirth in Australia there is no necessity for this grant.
– Is the honorable member suggesting that people who do not need the grant will take it?
– The Prime Minister said he believed that, as is the case with old-age pensions, the feeling against the grant as a charity dole would die away, and that it would become more and more general, until all mothers are paid.
– Does the honorable member believe that?
– Evidently, the Prime Minister believes that, in a great number of cases, the money will be taken where it is not needed. It is nothing less than a public scandal to throw money at people who are in comfortable circumstances, and whose joy and .comfort it should be to provide for such events. In my opinion, grants of this description to persons who do not need it tend to undermine the self- responsibility of the nation ; the more such free gifts are made, the more we shall find people stretching out their hands, whether they are in need or not. Honorable members opposite have shown no desire to deal with insurance against the eventualities outlined in the amendment. As for there being no time, it is not the fault of honorable members on this side that the session has, to a large extent, been wasted. Those responsible are the Government, who bring forth a Lands Ordinance measure, a Navigation Bill, and other proposals which have to be taken back to be remodelled. In” the case of the Navigation Bill, we now have practically a new measure in a sheaf of amendments which will compel honorable members to reconsider the whole matter. If there has been any waste of time, it is due to the ineptitude of the Ministry in the conduct of the business.
– We shall try to improve to-night.
– I intend to vote for the amendment, because I believe there is time this session, with the experience of other nations before us, to prepare a general scheme for insurance as set forth in the amendment. Honorable members opposite dare not support any proposals for insurance in which contributions are involved
– Hear, hear ! I am against contributions.
– I know; and that is where we differ. When a man is young, strong, healthy, and single, it is good to compel him, not only to make provision for his old age, but for the assistance of those who have not the same advantages as himself. Such a levy would make’ better citizens of our young men, and would enable us to pay at least £i per week, instead of the present small dole of 10s. a week, as a pension. It is quite within the range of practical politics to leave undisturbed the present pensioners, and to compel contributions from the young as a provision for pensions for themselves in the future. The price of one drink a week would enable a young man to contribute more than is contributed in Germany.
– All young men do not drink.
– Those who d® not ought to have more money to make provision for their old age. We are only touching the fringe of these great questions, and touching it badly ; and it is high time we approached them from a broad national stand-point. A scheme of compulsory insurance, based somewhat on that of Germany, where the employer, the employ^, and the Government each contribute a part, is one of the best j’et devised for solving problems with which we have not yet attempted to deal in Australia. One of the saddest sights is a willing man unable to obtain work, while his wife and family are waiting at home for the necessaries of life ; and it is one that should not be possible in a young community like that of Australia. We know, however, that there is no country more sensitive to climatic influences; and, with one year of drought, our prosperity fumbles about our ears, with a decreased revenue, retrenchment, and loss of employment through no fault of the people affected. We have alf seen, under such circumstances, thousands of willing men unable to find employment.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect these remarks with the question before the Chair ?
– The amendment proposes to make provision for compulsory insurance against unemployment; and one of the first things we have to deal with-
– The honorable member cannot debate that question.
– The amendment proposes that there shall be compulsory insurance against unemployment.
– The fact that certain schemes are referred to in the amendment does not justify the honorable member in debating them in detail. If, for instance, the amendment provided that a maternity allowance should not be granted until a land tax had been passed to cover the cost, I should not be justified in allowing the House to debate the general question of land taxation. If I did, I should be opening up an avenue of discussion to which there would be no end.
– You have deliberately ruled, Mr. Speaker, that I must not debate the main question. If I am also debarred from debating the amendment, there is nothing left for me to discuss.
– On ‘a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I submit with all deference that since the amendment declares in effect that no scheme of maternity allowance will foe effective unless it provides also for insurance against sickness, unemployment, and also for medical attendance, the honorable member would be in order in giving reasons why the scheme as embodied in the Bill will be incomplete unless extended in the direction indicated by the amendment. .
– I point out, Mr.( Speaker, that the amendment submits an alternative scheme to that before the House, and that to discuss it at all we must necessarily compare and analyze both of them. The amendment embodies a scheme to widen that for which the Bill provides, so that instead of restricting, it seems to me to widen, the area of discussion.
– You pointed out to the honorable member for Franklin, Mr. Speaker, that if, for instance, the amendment made allusion to a land tax, you could not permit a discussion on the subject of land taxation. I would remind you, however, that the terms of the amendment are essentially relevant to the Bill. The fact that we are debating the amendment with your consent, indicates that the subject-matters covered by it are relevant 10 the Bill itself. The honorable member for Franklin was indicating other proposals of a cognate character that must be considered in connexion with a national scheme of insurance, such as that suggested in the amendment, and I submit, with great respect, that he was in order in doing so. It is impossible for us to debate the amendment unless we are permitted to show that to make the Bill complete it is essential (hat the subjects covered by the amendment shall be comprehensively dealt with by it. The amendment, if carried, will be practically an instruction from the House to the Government as to what the terms of the Bill shall be. I submit that the remarks in which the honorable member for Franklin was indulging were strictly relevant and in order.
– Since it has been mentioned, the whole question arises as to whether the amendment itself is in order. The question before the House is that a Bill, which was initiated in Committee on a message from the Governor-General recommending an appropriation for a specific purpose - the payment of a maternity allowance - shall be read a second time. The amendment provides for the omission of certain words, and the insertion of others declaring that provision should be made for, amongst other things, unemployment insurance. Will any one say that the question of unemployment is relevant to the question of a maternity allowance?
– The disability might arise from unemployment.
– If that argument were sound, it would be quite in order for an honorable member to move at this stage that no workman should be allowed to ride in a tram car or a railway carriage, because by doing so he would be expending money that might be used in connexion with the proposed maternity bonus. The whole question resolves itself into one of relevancy, and that is a question which for the moment rests with me and ultimately with the House. In my opinion, the matter of unemployment has nothing whatever to do with the question of the maternity allowance. And so with the question of general insurance.
– General insurance includes the subject dealt with in the Bill.
– It might include a hundred and one things; but that would not justify me in ruling that the question of general insurance was relevant to the question of a maternity allowance. In answer to the honorable member for Kooyong, I should like to point out that, when the amendment was submitted, there were so many interjections that I was unable to grasp its full purport. I did not think it would be just for me to say at once that the amendment was or was not in order, inasmuch as I had not had an opportunity to examine it. In the circumstances, therefore, I allowed a debate in relation to it to take place. In that respect, I followed a course that I have adopted on several other occasions when I have had any doubt as to the relevancy of an amendment. But there is yet another, point to be considered. The honorable member for Darling Downs, in moving his amendment, said that he proposed to omit certain words with a view of inserting others. My first duty is, therefore, to put the question, “ That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the motion;” and, until that question has been dealt with, the question of order does not arise. The words proposed to be inserted may not be inserted; so that, in the circumstances, I cannot give any ruling at this stage in regard to the relevancy of the amendment itself. I do not know definitely that the words read by the honorable member for Darling Downs are the exact words that he will eventually move to insert. I allowed the discussion on the amendment to follow broad general lines; but when the honorable member for Franklin desired to go into details, I had to call him to order. I allowed him to refer, in a general way, to the question of national insurance; but when he proceeded to go into details, it was incumbent upon me to protect the House against what might prove an endless discussion. In the circumstances, I rule that the honorable member was not in order.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I wish to know how we stand? You have already ruled that we may not discuss the Bill, and you now rule that we may not discuss the terms of the amendment.
– The honorable member, as an old parliamentarian, must know that an honorable member who has spoken to the main question cannot do so a second time. I have allowed certain latitude to those who have not spoken to the main question; but I must confine the debate to the amendment before the Chair. I allowed the honorable member for Franklin ample latitude to discuss everything relating to the amendment, but declined to allow him to go into specific details.
– In common with other honorable members on this side of the House, I am’ not at all surprised that the amendment has been launched. The history of all reform movements in every Parliament is that those who are opposed to a proposed reform try to conceal their opposition to it by making the statement that it is not democratic enough, or that it does not go in the right direction, and so forth. The whole trend of the criticism of the Opposition has been that the Bill does not provide for certain things in which they believe. We had the suggestion made by one of their number that there should be propounded a contributory scheme in which provision should be made for the payment of a maternity allowance. Others of the Opposition have said that there should be a general insurance scheme; and that suggestion has been embodied in the amendment. The honorable member for Franklin also intimated that the scheme should be a contributory one, so far as the payment of old-age pensions was concerned. The whole tenor of the arguments of the Opposition has been that the people who are going to benefit by this proposal should not. be benefited, because they do not contribute anything towards the cost.
– I distinctly said the contrary.
– And the old-age pensions’” scheme generally is on a non-contributory basis.
– Most people who areagainst our old-age pensions’ system believe that they should be paid on the lines of the German scheme or the LloydGeorgescheme. If the amendment were carried,, it would mean great delay, as the honorable member for Cook pointed out. When the compulsory insurance scheme was introduced in Germany, Bismarck, only as itwere, intimated the framework of his Bill, and it took years to get the whole machinery into operation. In starting a scheme of compulsory insurance, it would be necessary to establish branches in every part of the Commonwealth, and to have a set of books in every employer’s office, while every employer would have to send in a return of the number of hands employed and the wages paid per annum.
– He has to do that now for the State.
– He has not to do it for the Federal Government. I venture to say that a scheme such as the Opposition advocate could not be launched under twelvemonths. It is evident that their purpose isto delay this proposal, because they areafraid that some kudos will be gained from it by this side. I hope it will not be looked at from that point of view. I know that in my own district it will not affect one vote. Every member on this side is prepared togo to the election without any such aid, but we know that the Bill embodies a humanitarian principle, and it should be put into effect without waiting for the whole machinery of contributory insurance to be created. We propose to carry out the maternity allowance scheme by means of the present old-age and invalid pension machinery. We already have officers in every part of the Commonwealth for pension purposes, and we have machinery in existenceby which we can distribute this particular gift to the women of the community. On the other hand, to establish a system as proposed by the Opposition means creating a complete new set of machinery, which would be very costly to the country, because every one in the community would be called upon to pay so much per week or per year, -the employer would have to pay so much for all his employes, and the Government would have to bring down a Bill providing for a contribution from the Treasury of so much per head of those registered under the Act. That is the Lloyd-George scheme, and the German scheme. The weakness of it is that it will cost too much to collect the money and administer the Act. We should have an army of secretaries all over the Commonwealth.
– Are you against it?
– Yes, i am against compulsory insurance. The weight of the machinery and the working of the Act would be too much for this country to carry.
– Are you in favour of a scheme of unemployment insurance?
– No. I hold that we are in a country the circumstances of which are quite different from those of Germany and Great Britain. We are the wealthiest country in the world per head of population. If there are any aged or invalid or sick among us, the people of this country are willing to pay sums from the Consolidated Revenue to relieve that distress.
– How would you deal with the unemployed?
– I am not dealing with unemployment now. That is one of the red herrings which the Opposition are trying to draw across the track to prevent us assisting suffering humanity.
– I desire to raise a point of order. I submit that we may deal with the second reading of a Bill in four ways. An amendment may be moved to the question “ That the Bill be now read a second time” by leaving out the word “ now “ and adding “ this day six months,” which, if carried, finally disposes of the Bill, or the previous question may be moved. According to standing order 162 “ no other amendment may be moved to such question except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.” I understand you, sir, to say that you have an amendment that certain words be left out with a view to insert other words. I submit that that amendment, in itself, cannot be regarded as an amendment strictly relevant to the motion “ That the Bill be now read a second time.” You must have something more than that before you. You must have the words that are proposed to be inserted, in order to comply with standing order 162. You have before you an amendment stating that the words proposed to be inserted in place of those proposed to be struck out are -
No provision for maternity allowance which does not form part of a national insurance scheme providing for sickness, unemployment, and medical attendance as well as maternity, and subsidized by an appropriation to the extent necessary to make the benefits immediate and adequate, will be effective, satisfactory, or consistent with the spirit of the Federal Constitution.
I submit that the Bill has for its object the providing of a maternity allowance for certain people. It is to take the form, not of a contributory scheme, but of a free gift or grant. It would be wrong for us to avail ourselves of the passage of a resolution providing for certain money to be given to certain women in the community on the happening of a certain event, in order to introduce a stipulation that a grant shall be given to cripples or blind people. We must confine the discussion of the measure to the sole question of the giving of a certain amount of money as a maternity allowance to certain women. If we had carried a resolution that a sum of money be appropriated for the purpose of making a gift of ,£1,000 out of the Consolidated Revenue to an individual who had performed a great public service, should I be in order in proposing that we should give a bounty or gift of ^£1,000 to a dozen other people in the community ? I submit that I should not be entitled to do so. The honorable member who moves the amendment proposes to introduce a scheme of national insurance. The Students’ English Dictionary defines “ insurance “ as -
The act of insuring or assuring against loss or damage, especially by dea*; : accident, or fire; a system by which a person by making certain payments secures in the future a certain sum of money for himself or his representatives; a contract by which, for a stipulated consideration, one party agrees to make up a loss which another may sustain.
I submit that this is an attempt to introduce an alternative scheme, as the honorable member for Parramatta said.
– Hear, hear; precisely. Amendments of this kind have been moved over and over again.
– The honorable member for Flinders may see no difference between the two, but I see a great difference. The one is a bounty, or free gift, of a certain sum of money to certain women only; the other is a proposal for a contributory scheme, whereby, not only women, but men shall pay a certain amount into a fund to be subsidized by the Commonwealth.
– Compulsory insurance is partly a tax.
– The point may also be taken that the amendment is an endeavour to impose upon the people of the Commonwealth a certain tax in the form of a contribution. I suBmit that the maternity allowance has nothing to do with a scheme for unemployment insurance. Further, it is attempted to introduce a system of medical attendance and of contributions from all sections of the community - men, women, and children. The motion of the honorable member for Darling Downs, if it is anything at all, is a direct negative, and ought to be met by some of the methods outlined in the Standing Orders. If honorable members want to move an amendment to destroy the Bill, there is a way for them to do it. If they want to move an amendment with regard to certain restrictions, they will have plenty of time to do it when the Bill reaches Committee. I take the point that the question before the House is confined to one clearly defined issue - the grant of a maternity allowance to women.
– Do I understand that the honorable member questions whether the amendment is in order?
– I understood you to say that the question before the Chair is a proposal to strike out certain words with a view to insert others, and the point I raise is that, under the Standing Orders, we cannot separate the amendment into two questions, that we cannot consider the striking out of words, except in relation to the putting in of other words, and that the words which it is proposed to insert constitute a proposal not covered by the appropriation for the purposes of the measure.
– I submit that the amendment is entirely in accordance with the practice of this House, of all the Australian Parliaments of which I know anything, and of the House of Commons. An amendment to the motion for the second reading of a Bill must be relevant to the Bill, and the question arises what constitutes relevancy. It has been ruled repeatedly that an amendment amounting to a direct negative of the question, and no more, cannot be moved. For instance, an amendment to the effect that the Bill is unsatisfactory would be ruled out of order. Again, an amendment, containing a proposition merely modifying provisions of the Bill, would be out of order, because trie proper time for dealing with such a pro posal would be at the Committee stage. But, according to the established practice, an amendment containing a proposal ir» the nature of an alternative to the provisions of the Bill, and for attaining the same ends, would be in order. That has been held over and over again. The reason for holding such an amendment in order is that it gives the House the opportunity of saying that, while it favours a particular object, it thinks that it should! be sought by other methods than those proposed. In this instance those who support the amendment say that, although they favour the giving of maternity relief, the matter is not properly dealt with by the Bill, the second reading of which ought, therefore, not to be agreed to, but an alternative set of propositions should be adopted. That, if not the only, is certainly the usual ground on which such amendments are held to be in order.
– What about the appropriation in Committee for the purposes of this particular Bill?
– That does not concern us in dealing with the motion for the second reading, and, consequently, does not concern us in dealing with any amendment relative to that motion. The motion of the Prime Minister was that a Bill, making provision in a certain way for the giving of maternity relief, should receive the support of the House, and any amendment must be relevant to that question. The Speakers of the House of Commons, and of the Australian Parliaments, have always held that on the motion for the second reading of a Bill an amendment can be moved which .proposes in effect that some other means than those provided in the Bill shall be taken for the attainment of the particular object of the measure. If the right to move such an amendment were restricted, it would seriously interfere with a rational mode of dealing with questions, and one which has the sanction of the House of Commons. Could anything be more reasonable, where a Government says, “ We propose to deal with a particular evil in a particular way,” than that the members of the Opposition should rejoin, “ We admit the need for dealing with this evil, but contend that it should be dealt with in a different way “? In this case it is contended that, as an alternative to the Government method of providing maternity relief, such relief should be given under a scheme of insurance. Is it not necessary that any party, or member, in a deliberative assembly, should have the right to say, “ We agree with our opponents as to the need for legislation in this matter, but think that a better mode of attaining the object than that which you propose could be adopted “ ? In this instance it is contended that a general scheme of insurance, covering maternity relief, would give more satisfactory results than the proposal of the Government. It will be a serious derogation from the freedom of debate if the amendment be ruled out of order.
– I had no wish that a point of order should be taken on this question, but the decision which you gave, Mr. Speaker, regarding the scope of discussion on the amendment makes me feel that the amendment is not in order. The Governor-General’s message recommends an appropriation of revenue for the purposes of a Bill for an Act providing for maternity allowances, and for nothing else. The Standing Orders allow certain amendments to be moved on the motion for the second reading of a measure. An amendment may be moved by omitting part of the motion, with a view to insert other words. You, sir, if I followed you aright, regard the amendment which has been proposed as consisting of two separate questions, but I can only regard it as one question. As I read the Standing Orders, we cannot consider the omission of certain words from a motion of this kind, except in relation to the words which it is proposed to substitute for them, and if those words go beyond the scope of the appropriation, or order of leave, the amendment is not in order. It would approach the absurd to say that the proposal for the omission of certain words could be discussed as in order when that omission was proposed with a view to securing the insertion of other words whose insertion would not be in order. Unless both parts of the amendment are in order, it must be out of order.
– I would remind the Prime Minister that, in November, 1907, a message of appropriation had been received, and on the second reading of the Bill for the encouragement of the manufacture of iron by private enterprise, the right honorable gentleman moved to add to the motion for the second reading the words - and that the Committee on the Bill be instructed to .incorporate in the Bill provision for the nationalization o? the iron industry.
Colonel Foxton thereupon took a point similar to that taken by the honorable member for Capricornia to-night. He referred to the Governor-General’s message, and to the various Standing Orders dealing with the question of relevancy. Finally, Mr. Speaker gave this ruling - _ The honorable member has called my attention to certain of the Standing Orders, to which he desires me to refer in giving a ruling. In the first place, I point out that the first standing order referred to only prescribed that -
In all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by sessional or other Orders, resort shall be had to the rules, forms, and practice of the Commons House of the Imperial Parliament…….
In cases, therefore, where we have provision made, there is no such reference to the rules or orders of the House of Commons. No doubt, if the amendment now before the Chair were intended to be an instruction, and nothing more nor less, it would be out of place that it should be moved until the Committee itself had actually been ordered to sit; that is to say, until the second reading had been passed. Thereafter s motion, as an instruction, might properly be moved within certain times. It seems to me, however, that although the word “ instruction “ does appear in the amendment - and I suppose that is what has misled the honorable member for Brisbane - the amendment does not come before us as in any sense an instruction. If the honorable member will turn to standing orders 161 and 162 he will find that the former, reads as follows -
Amendments may be moved to such question - that is the question of the second reading - by leaving out “ now “ and adding “ this day six months,” which, if carried, shall finally dispose of the Bill; or the previous question may be moved.
Standing order 162 is -
No other amendment may be moved to such question except in the form of a Resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
The Bill was a measure to encourage the manufacture of iron by private enterprise, and the Prime Minister moved to secure the introduction of a measure for the nationalization of the iron industry. The issue was - should the manufacturer of iron by private enterprise be encouraged with a bounty, or should the iron industry be nationalized? Here the question is - shall we provide for a maternity allowance, or shall we provide for a system of national insurance, including a maternity allowance? Mr. Speaker continued -
The amendment is intended to deal with the encouragement of the iron industry, and as an alternative to the Government proposal, which is to encourage that industry by means of a bounty, whereas the honorable member’s proposed method is not a bounty but the taking over of the industry by the Government.
The honorable member for Capricornia says that the difference in this case is that one proposal is for a free grant and the other for a contribution; but Mr. Speaker disposed of that point very quickly when he said -
The amendment is therefore distinctly within standing order 162, being a motion strictly relevant to the Bill before us.
The judicial mind of honorable members opposite is such- that when a ruling supports their own view, it is all right, but when it applies to honorable members on this side, it is all- wrong. The honorable member for Capricornia said that no amendment could be moved except of the kind he mentioned ; but when the motion for the second reading of the Surplus Revenue Bill was before us, the honorable member for Parramatta moved that all the words after “ That” be omitted, with a view to insert “ the consideration of this Bill be postponed until the financial- relations of the States and the Commonwealth shall be dealt with as a whole.” That is exactly parallel with the amendment moved to-day, which suggests an alternative scheme. According to the Prime Minister, the Bill is to provide for women during child-birth by a gift out of the Treasury, and the amendment asserts that the provision ought to be part and parcel of a general insurance scheme. I submit that the amendment is relevant to the Bill, and that the point of order ought to be overruled.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I understand, sir, that you have said something as to the position in which you find yourself. An amend-, ment has been moved by the honorable member for Darling Downs to omit certain words with a view to insert other words. It is, I think, essential to consider the point of view from which you propose to deal with the question. If we are merely to discuss whether the honorable member is in order in moving the omission of certain words, without our making any reference at all to any other words, I take it that the point of order fails ; an amendment for the omission of certain words is, no doubt, perfectly in order. I do not know whether any reference was made in the course of the mover’s speech to any alternative proposal. It is sufficient, I take it, to move the omission of certain words, but if that be the position that you are taking, I submit that no reference can be made to the alternative proposal, or to the words that are proposed to be inserted if the words are left out. It cannot be competent, I think, for an honorable member to move the omission of certain words, and to indicate his intention to insert other words if the words are left out, and then for the House to discuss the merits of the contingent motion, if the Chair is going to take the view, on a point of order, that it is not competent to discuss the relevancy of the contingent motion, but only the proposal to move certain words. That, I take it, places the House in an entirely false position; and, therefore, I do not propose to do anything more than to say, first of all, that, if we are asked to consider only the proposal to omit certain words, the point of order taken by the honorable member for Capricornia, must fail. “But I submit that the contingent motion - because it is a contingent motion - cannot, in the view I am putting before you, take effect, or be before the House, until the substantive motion that the honorable member for Darling Downs has moved is put and carried. Therefore, what is before the House now is the Bill as it stands, and the amendment to omit certain words. We cannot, under cover of this motion, discuss something entirely foreign to the motion before the House, which is that the Bill be read a second time; and until ihe honorable member’s motion is disposed of, all that we can discuss is the Bill. We certainly cannot discuss this contingent motion of the honorable member. I am not saying whether that’ motion is relevant or not; and it will be time enough to discuss that when it is before the Chamber. If, on the other hand, Mr. Speaker, you take the view that the contingent motion is before the House, then I propose to argue whether it is relevant or not, but I do not wish to waste time in discussing a phase of the matter which I contend, from what has fallen from your lips, is not before the House. What is before the House, in the very nature of the case, is that which has been submitted from the Chair, namely, that all the words after “That” be omitted with a view to insert other words. What those words are we are not officially informed, and when I say that, I am merely taking what I understand is the attitude of the Chair. We cannot discuss a thing until it has been put from the Chair ; and this has not been put. The only question before the House is that the Bill be read a second time, and we may discuss the Bill, and whether certain words be omitted which would have the effect of negativing the Bill. If the amendment is carried we may do what the House pleases ; until that time, I submit we cannot discuss whether the matter is relevant or not. If your ruling is going to cover the question of the relevancy of the honorable member’s contingent motion, and if you propose to declare that that motion, on the face of it, is relevant and may be discussed, I ask you not to so rule until you have heard argument to show why it should not be discussed.
– I have no intention of dealing with arguments which appear to me utterly fallacious. They are quite out of line with any experience I ever remember in this House or that of the State. Nothing is more familiar than an amendment to omit certain words with a view to the introduction of certain other relevant words. In thirty years’ experience, I have never known the discussion of the words proposed to be inserted to be ruled out of order. It is known that the motion to omit words is merely formal, and affords no ground for argument; the discussion invariably turns, from first to last, on the reason why the words are proposed to be omitted, that is to say, on the words proposed to be inserted. I have never known any other practice followed.
– I have allowed this discussion in order that I might be assisted ; but I do not think there is any need for it to go any further, because I have thoroughly made up my mind as to the course I am going to take, and, when I have taken it, it will be for honorable members to decide whether or not my ruling shall be disagreed with. I have heard arguments from honorable members on both sides. The honorable member for “ Capricornia contended that there are certain amendments which may be moved on the motion for the second reading of a Bill ; one is that certain words be omitted, with a view to inserting other words, providing that the Bill shall be read a second time that day six months, so as to practically kill the measure ; and other amendments providing they are relevant to the question before the Chair. The honorable member for Flinders, in his argument, really dealt with the question of relevancy; and, as I pointed out, I am the sole judge of relevancy, subject, of course, to the decision of the House. That is to say, I give my decision as to relevancy, and it is for the House to decide whether I am right or wrong - the House accepts my ruling or it rejects it. I may say that when the amendment was moved I did not catch the whole of it, and it was not possible for me to grasp its exact meaning as it was read. As soon as the amendment was handed to me, and I had an opportunity to read it, I was in doubt as to whether or not it was . in order, and, in the circumstances, I thought that the proper course for me to pursue was to allow it to be discussed until I had thoroughly made up my mind on the point. Having given the matter consideration I decided to restrict the debate entirely to the question before the Chair, with the result that the honorable member for Franklin ceased his speech. The point then .arose whether the whole amendment was in order, and the question to be considered was that which I have submitted to the House. The question was, “ That all the words after ‘That’ be left out,” and the question now before the Chair is “ That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.” The Prime Minister urged that the effect of such a procedure would be to make the whole position ridiculous. That, however, is not a matter which I have to consider. As a matter of fact, I have known motions to be so amended that all the words except the opening word “ That “ have been left out. That is a course for the House to take when it desires to destroy a Bill. The Standing Orders provide distinctly what course shall be followed where it is proposed to leave out certain words. Standing order 130 provides that -
Every amendment must be relevant to the question to which it is proposed to be made. while standing order 132 provides that -
When the proposed amendment is to leave out certain words, the Speaker shall put a question, “ That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question.”
I have done that, and I am now asked to rule that the remaining part of the amendment is out of order. I cannot do that, because I do not know that the words which the honorable member for Darling Downs has said he intends to move are the words that he will eventually propose to insert. Until they are actually moved I cannot rule that they are out of order. But from the moment that I came to the conclusion that the amendment as read was irrelevant to the question before the Chair I decided that honorable members should not discuss the matters contained in the amendment. If the blank proposed to be created is created, and the honorable member for Darling Downs moves to insert the words which he has indicated, it will be for me then to determine whether or not they are in order.
– When this point of order was raised I was endeavouring to confine myself to the amendment before the Chair, and was pointing out that if a system of compulsory insurance were inaugurated-
– Order !
– The only amendment now before us is that certain words be left out.
– Let us get to a vote on that question.
– If it is the desire “of the House that we shall proceed to a vote to settle the matter 1 shall reserve for another occasion what I have to say.
– Am I to understand, Mr. Speaker, that we are not to be at liberty to make any reference to the terms of the amendment which have already been so fully discussed ?
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– The question before the Chair is “ That the Bill be now read a second time,” and the amendment is that certain words be omitted with ..1 view to the insertion of other words. I understood Mr. Speaker to say that we were not to be at liberty to discuss the words proposed to be inserted, although they had already been discussed. The speech made by the honorable member for Cook consisted for the most part of a rather heated and vehement attack upon the Opposition for what he alleged to be a want of sincerity in regard to the amendment.
– The honorable member must not discuss the amendment.
– The charge against the Opposition is that we are not sincere in putting forward this amendment, and that our sole object is to delay or defeat the Bill. That is the point that I propose to discuss. The charge is at complete variance with every statement that has been made from this side of the House. Member after member of the Opposition has said that we are in favour of the general principle of the Bill, but that it cannot be effectively carried out unless it forms part and parcel of a national scheme. As to the charge of insincerity, the memory of my honorable friends opposite must, indeed, be short. They must know that the proposals embodied in the amendment formed part of the direct policy of the late Government. If the Minister searches the records of the Department, he will discover that I, as a member of the late Government, and acting on their behalf, collected a lot of valuable information, and caused the question to be reported upon, with the very object of bringing in a Bill to provide for a national scheme such as is now suggested.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to the question before the Chair.
– It is said that the amendment is a mere pretence and a hollow sham on the part of the Opposition. I am replying to that charge by pointing out that it embodies the scheme of the Opposition for dealing with great social problems.
– The honorable member cannot discuss the amendment.
– I venture to say that, when questions of this kind are submitted, nothing is more usual than to propose an alternative proposition. If I am not to be permitted to discuss the Bill, or the amendment, it is rather difficult for me to proceed: I am desirous of answering those who have preceded me. It has been suggested that the amendment would have the effect of delay. I contend that it need not have that effect, because, first of all, the Government have for their guidanceschemes of a comprehensive character, which are in complete operation in other countries.
– I regret to have to interrupt the honorable member, but he must recognise that he is now trying to evade my ruling. I have pointed out distinctly that I allowed the amendment to be discussed until I had an opportunity to see what its contents were, and that as soon as I read it, I ruled that the schemes referred to in it could not be debated.
– I have never known such a thing in all my experience.
– If the honorable member for Ballarat thinks that my ruling is an erroneous one, there is a proper course for him to take.
– By way of explanation, I should like to say, Mr. Speaker, that I did not intend to cast a reflection upon the Chair. What I did intend to convey was that you had not made at all clear to me the decision at which you had arrived. On the contrary, I understood that the universallyaccepted practice in similar circumstances was to be followed. I am sorry that I misunderstood you.
– It has been urged that this is not a bond fide amendment, and that it has been lodged for the purposes of delay. Surely I am at liberty to contend that that is a misrepresentation of the object of the amendment. I am dealing with the charge of mala fides directed against this side of the House, and [ say that the object of the amendment is, in accordance with parliamentary practice, to enable the Bill to be perfected. If the amendment were agreed to, it would be competent for the Government, within a very short time, to amend the Bill accordingly, and to proceed with it. I was urging that there is already available machinery of the kind indicated.
– The honorable member is now trying to evade my ruling.
– I did not intend to do so.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [8.7J. - Will you kindly tell us, Mr. Speaker, what is the question before the Chair ?
– The amendment is “That all the words after ‘That’ be omitted “ ; and the question is, “ That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.”
– Something more than that was moved by the honorable member for Darling Downs. He moved that all the words after “That” be omitted, with a view to the insertion of certain words, which he read. I contend that that part of the proposition should be submitted from the Chair.
– I have already said - and I do not wish to carry this discussion any further - that the honorable member for Darling Downs moved to omit certain words, with a view to the insertion of others, and I have explained no less than three times that when the amendment was moved, I was unable to grasp its full purport until it was handed to me. I doubted from the moment I received it whether the amendment was in order, but I put the question at the time in accordance with the Standing Orders, “ That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question.” I took up the position, in the first instance, that the words which it was proposed to insert were not before us. If they are not before us, they cannot be discussed. If they were before us - and the honorable member contends that they form part of the whole amendment - I should rule the amendment out of order. I have put it in the only form in which it can be put before the House, namely, “ That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question.”
– Then the only thing we can discuss is whether the words, “ This Bill be now read a second time “ should be left out or retained ?
– That is the question before the Chair.
– That, in my judgment, will necessitate a review of the principle and provisions of the Bill. How else can we argue whether the words shall be retained or not? Your ruling brings us to this point: that we are really allowed now to rediscuss the provisions of the Bill. There is no other debate that you rule to be relevant. How can we say that those words should be omitted or retained unless we proceed to give our reasons ? Those reasons must be reasons which would be relevant or permitted in regard to the Bill as a whole. For instance, one of the reasons above all others why we submit a motion of this kind is that this Bill, in itself, is not a perfect measure. It does not go far enough. It does not meet the spirit of the times.
– And he says it without a smile !
– I say it because I believe it. We are therefore justified in trying to enlarge the scope of the measure. One of the reasons why I think these words should be omitted with a view to the insertion of others is that the money at present being expended in Australia would make a self-reliant and thrifty scheme of infinitely wider scope, and of a great deal broader and further reaching effect, than the measure submitted by the Government. I have been going into some of the figures in this matter, and it occurs to me that we might very well, with the money that is already being expended in Australia as a whole, inaugurate a scheme that will give immensely greater benefits than those contained in the Bill, and widen the scope of the provisions altogether.
– Order ! ‘ The honorable member has already spoken to the main question. He is now making another speech to the main question, and not to the question before the Chair. The honorable member must not follow that course.
– Will you kindly tell us what we can say?
– That is not the Speaker’s duty.
Several honorable members interjecting -
– I should like to be permitted to address you without these constant guffaws and interruptions.
– I would point out to honorable members that it is most difficult for me to follow the various points that are raised if these continuous interjections are to go on.
– I simply want to know exactly what we can say, and am anxious to keep within your ruling. You have now ruled that I may not discuss the Bill. You have already ruled that I may not discuss the words which are hereafter to be submitted.
– You may discuss the blank.
– What remains for me to discuss?
– The honorable member no doubt is in difficulties, but I submit that he cannot get out of them by discussing Mr. Speaker’s ruling.
– I am not discussing your ruling, sir. Am I to discuss the blank? If so, I shall see if I can do an hour on it. I hope that we may get out of this impasse, which is the result of new practice. I have seen similar motions submitted.
– Order ! Will the honorable member discuss the question before the Chair?
– I advise honorable members opposite not to worry, as this little difficulty is not insuperable. They -are only prolonging the debate by the way they are going on. In my judgment, Mr. Speaker, you have put us in such a position that we cannot discuss anything at this stage.
– Will the honorable member proceed?
– I am anxious to do so, but you will not let me. You will not allow me to discuss the suggested amendment,, or the Bill. I have never seen that kind of thing occur in Parliament before. I have seen an amendment of this kind put many a time, but never with this result, and if that is not new practice, I should like to know what is.
– I propose to address myself to the question, before the Chair, and, in doing so, toclaim the right which the representation of 47,000 Australians have given me to makemy votes in this Chamber perfectly clear. We have certain rights and certain dutiesin this Chamber. We have a duty to the electors of Australia. We should not try toevade explaining the votes that we proposeto give here. The question immediately before the Chair is that certain words beleft out. If they are left out, the Bill undoubtedly will not “ now “ go intoCommittee. I wish to suggest to honorable members some reasons why the Bill should not now go into Committee. Itswhole drafting limits it in certain directions. The Government assistance to maternity is to be post-dated, for the £5 isto be granted two months after the grant is required.
– Order ! The honorable member is now discussing the mainquestion, on which he has already spoken.
– I admit that I am insome difficulty. I feel that Australia isbeing run just at present by the Standing; Orders and a majority.
In my judgment but a very brief time would be required for the introduction of” proposals to enable the question of maternity, which is alleged to be the underlying principle of the Bill, to be dealt with from the very time the woman enters into her crisis, which is before the birth of the child,, up to the time she is fit to resume her normal occupation again. That is what. I want to see done in this measure, and for that reason I shall vote for the amendment. It is because honorable members opposite do not want to see that done that they will vote against the amendment. As I read the division that is coming on, those members who merely want to put £5 down two months after a woman needs it, will vote against the amendment, while those who want to see maternity in all its wider aspects dealt with, and the whole crisis of a woman’s life met for the benefit of the State and of her progeny, will vote for the amendment ; and no man will be able to coverup his tracks from the electors by saying that this was a technical question, governed by the Standing Orders, and that the vote he gave was to strike out all the words . but “ That.”
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question - put.
The House divided.
Majority … … . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to move -
That the following words be added : - “ That the Committee on the Bill be instructed to incorporate in the Bill provision for a national insurance scheme providing for sickness, unemployment, and medical attendance, as well us maternity, and subsidized by an appropriation to the extent necessary to make the benefits immediate and adequate.”
In support of the amendment I desire to mention what was done in this House in an exactly parallel case. In 1907 the Manufacturers Encouragement Bill was before the House, and on the motion, “ That this Bill be now read a second time,” the present Prime Minister moved -
That the following words be added : - “ and the Committee on the Bill be instructed to incorporate in the Bill provisions for the nationalisation of the iron industry.”
– Does the honorable member contend that this will be an instruction to the Committee?
– I am following the procedure adopted in an exactly parallel case. In regard to the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay, Mr. Speaker said -
I have ruled that while the word “ instruction” appeared in the amendment, and, perhaps, sufficiently justifies the honorable member in thinking that it is an instruction, it is by no means such. The amendment is introduced properly under standing order No. 162, which I have quoted, and which declares that no other amendment besides a proposal to leave out “now” and insert “this day six months,” or the previous question, shall be moved, except in terms of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill which I say this amendment is.
– Is the honorable member now raising a question of order ?
– No; I am merely showing that I am following procedure already sanctioned.
– The honorable member may not now discuss a matter of procedure.
– The amendment is intended to indicate that in our view the provisions of the Bill are of a piecemeal character, and that its objects cannot be effectively achieved unless they are made to form part and parcel of a larger scheme. It is felt that it would be unwise to attempt to deal with only one part of a complex social question.
– Why did not the honorable member deal with this matter when the Old-age Pensions Bill was under consideration ?
– I had the honour to introduce the old-age pensions legislation in the Senate, and what I now propose is supplementary to that great and important scheme, which we all had the pleasure of supporting. The party to which I belong feels that it would be useless to deal only with the one aspect of the social question dealt with by the Bill, though the subject-matter of the Bill must take a prominent place in any general scheme. Mr. Lloyd-George has passed through the British Parliament a measure providing a scheme for dealing radically and completely with the matter’ with which the Bill deals only in part. His scheme provides for insurance against unemployment and against sickness.
– I ask whether the amendment is in order, seeing that it is not relevant to the provisions of the Bill.
– No amendment has been put from the chair. The honorable member for Kooyong is speaking to the main question.
– I submit that the only effective way of dealing with the subject with which the Bill deals is to introduce’ a comprehensive scheme covering it and other social questions. The last Government gave very full attention to this matter, and it was my duty to collect information for the framing of a Bill to carry into effect its policy. That information is in the possession of the Department which I was administering. We know what has been done in these matters in other countries. We have as an example schemes which have been in actual operation in Germany for the last thirty years. We know what a magnificent success those schemes have had. We know their value, and we know that their success is due to the fact that funds are provided partly by the State, partly by the contributions of the employers, and partly by the contributions of those to be benefited. It is to the last factor that the success is chiefly due. By providing for a scheme similar to those in operation in Germany, in Switzerland, and in France, we shall achieve the most effective means for dealing with this matter. If it is objected that our proposal means delay, or the defeat of the Bill, I say that that is a most unworthy charge.
– There is no amendment before the Chair.
– I have indicated the amendment that I propose to move.
– The honorable member must not discuss it.
– I have indicated that it is my intention to move the amendment which I have read. It may be suggested that such an amendment is not within the constitutional power of this Parliament, but I venture to say that it is. Paragraph 14 of section 51 of the Constitution empowers this Parliament to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to insurance other than State insurance, and with respect to State insurance extending beyond the limits of a State. That power, like the others given by the section, is set forth in a very bald form. As indicated by the honorable member for Darling Downs, the first principle to guide us is that laid down in the text-book, namely, that every power alleged to ‘ be vested in the
National Government, or any organ thereof, must be shown to have been affirmatively granted; and a second rule is -
When once the grant of a power by the people to the National Government has been established, that power will be construed broadly. The strictness applied in determining its existence gives place to liberality in supporting its application.
Chief Justice Marshall laid down in McCulloch v. Maryland -
The powers of government are limited, and its limits are not to be transcended, but the sound construction of the Constitution must allow to the National Legislature that discretion with respect to the means by which the powers are to be carried into execution which will enable that body to perform the high duties assigned to it in the manner most beneficial to the people. Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional.
The object of Parliament at all times should be to place the widest construction on our Constitution, so as to make it full and comprehensive. It has been suggested that we on this side wish to evade this question, on the ground of technical constitutional objections; but, so far as my judgment goes, the terms of the measure are well within the Constitution. Section 81 practically gives us full and ample power of appropriation, at least, which enables us to accomplish what is foreshadowed. That section is as follows : -
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 subject to the charges and liabilities imposed by the Constitution.
It is quite true that, according to section 51, the enumerated powers are limited, and it has been suggested that Parliament has only jurisdiction to deal with those enumerated powers so far as appropriation is concerned. I do not concur in that view, and it will be gathered from American cases that it has been established that Congress can appropriate moneys in aid of public matters which the Government are not liable to administer and regulate. The fullest powers of appropriation, therefore, exist ; and I have no doubt that, so far as this Bill is concerned, and the other measures foreshadowed in the amendment, we have complete jurisdiction to deal with them. It is not, therefore, from the constitutional stand-point that we need be deterred in the introduction of a full and complete scheme of insurance. In Quick and Garran, it is said that the Federal control over insurance extends, in the same manner as the control over banking, to any form of insurance throughout the Commonwealth, except insurance organized and carried on by the Government of a State, and confined to the limits of a State. We have arrived at the position that we have the fullest constitutional power - though I say this with great deference - to deal with the subject before us in the widest and most comprehensive way. We should, therefore, not pass legislation which merely means the distribution of largesse, but should seek to achieve in the most effective way the real object of the Bill. I contend that we are fortunate in having, in the various States, machinery that would prove of valuable aid and assistance to us. In my opinion, every State should have, as many of the States have, institutions into which a woman, by the mere reason of her condition, and without being asked any questions, may go and receive the benefits of the best skill and attention. I do not think for a moment that the proposal in the Bill can hope to attain the same end that might be attained by the establishment of institutions of the kind I have indicated. It is to the highest and best interests of the community to encourage motherhood, and see that our women do not suffer in doing their duty to the State. I feel that, so far as the principle of the measure is concerned, this House is in complete and unanimous accord ; and not one word has fallen from the Opposition suggestive of any restriction in securing the best results from a proposal of the kind before us. We should, therefore, be justified at this juncture in instructing the Government that the Bill is not sufficiently comprehensive, and that, with a bounteous revenue, the money proposed to be spent under the measure could be more effectively applied in the way I have indicated. Under the Bill there is the possibility that the money will be largely wasted, whereas, on the other hand, if we subsidize State agencies and institutions, which are well established, and have proved most valuable, we shall have the most effective means for securing the best results. The friendly societies, which have been mentioned, could, no doubt, afford valuable help. They are among our most cherished institutions, and, as the managers of them have a special knowledge of the working of schemes for the benefit of the workers, they could be utilized as a valuable piece of existing machinery. I cannot understand what objection honorable members opposite have to a more comprehensive scheme. I have demonstrated, I hope, that the suggestion I have made does not mean delay. I have shown that there are examples which could readily be followed, and also that there is already valuable material in the various State Departments available for immediate use. Under all the circumstances, it is not unreasonable on the part of the Opposition to suggest that such questions ought not to be dealt with in a piecemeal fashion. I therefore beg to move -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “and that the Committee on the Bill be instructed to incorporate in the Bill provision for a national insurance scheme, providing for sickness, unemployment and medical attendance as well as maternity, and subsidized by an Appropriation to the extent necessary to make the benefits immediate and adequate.”
– This amendment is out of order, first, because it is not relevant, and, secondly, because such an amendment cannot be moved until after the second reading is carried.
Mi-. DEAKIN. - I give notice that I will to-morrow move -
That the ruling of the Honorable the Speaker that the amendment of the member for Kooyong is irrelevant to the motion that the Bill for an Act to provide for payment of Maternity Allowances be now read a second time be and is hereby disagreed with.
– This notice of motion will be taken into consideration to-morrow.
– I am now in a position to discuss the main principles and purposes of the Bill. It has been urged that the proposed payment of £5 will have a tendency to increase the birth rate, but I cannot agree with that deduction. In my opinion, the whole justification for this measure must be found in another direction. We find that, according to statistics and returns, the loss of infantile life at birth is very great; and, in my opinion, the justification for this measure lies in the hope of minimizing that loss by the means of the timely assistance proposed. It is very strange that a measure of this kind should have struck so many “snags” in the way of amendments, points of order, and other methods well known to honorable members who have no particular desire to expedite a measure before the House. Whilst we have had all these subsidiary proposals, we have had nothing in the nature of direct and strong adverse criticism of the principle embodied in the Bill. Honorable members of the Opposition, with perhaps one or two exceptions, have admitted that the principle is a sound one. Their chief contention is either that the Bill has been crudely drafted, or that its machinery is ineffective, whilst it is also urged that it may possibly be found to be unconstitutional. We have to go outside i the Chamber to find the direct objections lodged against the proposal. Those objections are important if we are to judge by the press reports of meetings at which they find expression, and they are important also having regard to the social standing of those who raise them. I should like to direct attention to just a few of these objections, in order to indicate their general character. The first pointed objection came from two prominent members of the Opposition. Senator McColl and the honorable member for Fawkner denounced the proposal in very strong terms. Their denunciation has apparently been taken up by a section of the electors in different organizations, and more particularly by the members of the Women’s National League, who have expressed some very pronounced views in regard to the matter. The chief objections are that the Bill does not differentiate as it ought to do between mothers who are married and those who are not, and that the tendency of the proposal must be to undermine the marriage-tie and to increase immorality. One. strong protest came from the Council of Churches, which represents a large number of religious bodies. A deputation from the Council, including the Rev. Professor Adam, convener of the Public Questions’ Committee; the Rev. A. McCallum; the Rev. Leyton Richards; the Rev. H. Worrall ; Pastor Herlitz ; the Rev. Professor Rentoul; the Rev. T. Adamson; and the Honorable James Balfour, M.L.C., was introduced to the Prime Minister by the honorable member for Kooyong. Professor Adam was one of the principal speakers at that interview. I have here a report of the proceedings, which appears in the Co-operator of the 12th of this month. That newspaper writes -
Last week a deputation from the Melbourne Council of Churches waited upon Mr. Fisher and objected to one or two of the details of the proposal. Only very condensed reports of this deputation have as yet been made public. For that reason, and because of the intense public interest, we have secured a transcription of the shorthand notes which is published below.
A report of Professor Adam’s presentment appeared in the official organ of the Presbyterian Church - the Messenger - of 20th inst., and, so far as it goes, it practically agrees with the report of his remarks appearing in the Co-operator. Reading that report, it seems to me that the objections raised by the deputation may be divided into two classes. In the first place, some of the speakers were much concerned about the moral attitude of the Ministry with respect to marriage. That was a point to which they gave prominence, and the second point made by them was as to the unwisdom of paying an allowance of this character to the mother of a child born out of wedlock.
The first objection was founded upon a newspaper report professing to record the utterances of a member of the Government, whose name was not given. The Herald was quoted as the newspaper that furnished the report of the statement to which objection was taken, and that statement was as follows -
There seems to be too much of the Pecksniffian parson about nowadays. Why should one go prying into one’s private affairs to discover where the marriage lines are. Is all the happiness and unhappiness confined to marriage?
This last phrase, which was inserted in the report, was taken to indicate that the Government was at least not very sound upon the question of marriage. Professor Adam, criticising this alleged utterance of a member of the Government, said that it seemed to him to be - a direct belittling of the importance of marriage. A mere deplorable utterance could scarcely be conceived by a responsible Minister in a British Government. He could not for a moment think that that utterance truly represented the opinion of the present Government towards marriage.
The matter was also touched upon by Professor Rentoul, who indicated that if the report were correct he could not feel that he ought to pray for a Government that would express such views. The Prime Minister stated that the sentence to which exception was taken was “ dropped in to help the thing along.” Later on he was asked why he had not contradicted it. He replied that he had never seen the report. It had never been brought under his notice, and he should not be expected to contradict what he did not know existed. After some speakers had made as much capital as they could out of this point, the Rev. Leyton Richards, a Congregational minister, was good enough to give expression to his opinions upon it.,o
He said that he desired to “dissociate himself from the remarks as to Mr. Fisher’s liability for certain statements in the press. From what was said he was satisfied that this was not a correct report of the utterances of the Minister, and he did not, as a member of the deputation, come prepared to assume that it represented the sentiments of the Ministry upon this particular question. The report sets forth that the Prime Minister, in the course of his remarks, stated that, with regard to the Herald paragraph, he regretted that it had come up ; that it did not represent his own views, nor did it represent the views of the Minister in question. In all British Courts it is a well known axiom that a man accused of any crime shall be held to be innocent until his guilt is established. That principle, however, does not seem to apply to Labour Ministers, or members of the Labour party. Until they have proved their innocence they are assumed to be guilty of any crime that may be charged against them. Another extraordinary position taken up by our opponents outside is that the Ministry and their supporters are responsible for the utterances of any individual who claims to belong to their party. If a Minister had been so loose in his expressions as to give utterance to the sentiment to which I have already referred, it followed, according to the standard of these right reverend gentlemen, that the Ministry and the whole of the Labour party must necessarily hold the same view. We have had previous experience of this kind of thing in our battles. We know the means by which partisan newspapers try to further the cause which they support, and to place their opponents in a prejudicial light. This, as the Prime Minister plainly indicated, is only one of many methods that have been adopted with varying degrees of success. Fortunately the average elector is now able to size up at their correct value these biased and very often untrue statements.
At the deputation of the Council of Churches, the Rev. Professor Adam is reported to have said -
They had not seen details of the proposed measure, but there was one particular clause said to be included in the measure, i.e., the proposal to extend the grant provided under the measure to mothers of illegitimate children.
Was it right or desirable that no distinction should be made between these two cases in regard to their desert at the hands of the State, and their fitness to be established in a civil right to funds out of the public purse? The Council thought it was not right to make no distinction.
Their objection to the proposal to give this bonus out of public funds to the mothers of illegitimate children was two-fold. They held, first, that it was unjustifiable in principle, and they feared that in practice it would lead to an undesirable increase in certain directions.
If that means anything, it means that the mere offer of an allowance of £5 will lead to an increase of illegitimacy. With all due respect to the learned professor, I am afraid he has taken his views on these moral questions from the utterances of the good ladies of the Women’s National League rather than from the actual facts of life. If the reverend gentleman was a little better acquainted with the working, conditions of life, I do not think he would have advanced against the proposal the argument- that women would be induced te* commit this grevious wrong to themselves and their sex by the possibility of getting an allowance of £5. The Reverend Mr. McCallum, of the Methodist Church, took strong exception to the payment being made to the mothers of illegitimate children. Professor Rentoul stated that -
His objection to the proposed Bill was that it would give a bonus to a woman, and through her to her seducer, for breaking the laws on which the State’s safety depends. He thought it a foolish and perilous thing.
Then the Reverend Mr. Worrall said -
He was certain, from his own knowledge,, that a great number of people would regard the proposal as an. absolute incentive to wrong doing. . . . There was a thrill of horror running through the hearts of the very best people of Australia at this suggestion, and they hoped that no steps would be taken to encourage vice.
I cannot understand how those reverend gentlemen, who ought to have a certain acquaintance with human nature, can suppose that an allowance of this character would be regarded as a sufficient compensation for the pains and penalties of childbirth, to say nothing of the disgrace of a maternity that is against the social order and well-being of the State. The Reverend T. Adamson, of the Methodist Church, who said that he was connected with theMintara Home, which was practically a Government institution in Victoria, for reclaiming fallen girls, observed -
In their judgment, the offering of a bonuswould remove one of the barriers to the fall of girls of that type.
He also made the astonishing statement that certain mothers were so debased and demoralized as to value a £5 note more than the chastity of their daughters, and would lend themselves to bring about a condition of illegitimate parentage in order to- secure that reward. These reverend gentlemen ought to be in a position to understand the weight of a charge of that character, and should not make it lightly without sufficient evidence. I have been associated with working people, and, in fact, with many different sections of the community, and have yet to learn that there are any number of women and men in our community so debased and vile as those reverend gentlemen would lead us to suppose. The pains and penalties of parentage are very severe. A woman has to go down to the very gates of death, and has to bear suffering of such a character that the comparatively insignificant sum of £5 would not be the slightest inducement to her to run the risk. I should (ike to remind those reverend gentlemen, and the good ladies of the Women’s National League, that that great British statesman, Mr. Lloyd-George, includes a maternity allowance in his national insurance scheme, and draws no such distinction as they would have us draw here. He simply lays it down that motherhood is essential, just as the Prime Minister has laid it down in this measure.
– The cases are not on all fours ; the one is an insurance, the other is a gift.
– The principle is the same. Mrs. E. W. Nicholls, president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, has made a pronouncement on this matter also. Either she gave a lead to those worthy churchmen, or she followed their lead. I think she is generally given the credit of giving them the lead. She says -
It seems patronizing and degrading to motherhood, and savours too much of petty politics, and too little of broad statesmanship. It is almost a premium on crime.
She does not stop to explain why it should be almost, and not altogether, a premium on crime -
It would be better to spend the money in subsidizing institutions that quietly provide succour for those that need help. A sober, industrious people, fearing God and hating evil, would scorn a bonus for maternity as an outrage and an insult, and surely Australia is not yet willing to admit that it is an evil case as such a proposal would suggest.
I am afraid that these worthy ladies have not had the experiences of some of their less fortunate sisters. If they do go down to the gates of death in the interests of maternity, they are surrounded with all the comforts that wealth can provide. They have doctors and nurses in attend ance, and the conditions are made as pleasant and bearable as possible. Hundreds of their less fortunate sisters have to go through this trying time in far different circumstances. These feel the need of help, and strongly desire to give their newly-born children the comforts and advantages which are denied to them by their positions in life. The purpose of this allowance is to help them in that direction. Another worthy lady, Lady Way, president of the State Children’s Council of South Australia, expressed the following strong opinions at a meeting of that body in Adelaide recently -
To extend further the payment to parents of illegitimate children was dangerous. They surely did not desire to stimulate moral degeneracy and its attendant miseries. Should the proposal become law they must be prepared for a considerable increase in the expenditure for the care of illegitimates. When it was considered that a great many parents were so wanting in principle that they made no effort to provide for their offspring, they might expect a large increase of pauperism. There could be little doubt that the marriage tie would be greatly weakened and the sanctity of the home life would be invaded. The amount of £400,000 was bad enough, but large as it was, it was nothing compared with the pernicious incitement to vice which the Bill would engender.
I presume, largely as the outcome of that strong indictment of the principles of the measure, the Council resolved that, in its opinion,’ no allowance should be paid in cases where children are illegitimate or still-born. If these worthy churchmen, and these worthy ladies who interest themselves in charity, as they understand it, are correct in the opinions which they have fearlessly expressed, I ask why has the Opposition not voiced their objections and attacked the Bill on the ground that it would furnish an incentive to immorality ?
The Rev. Professor Rentoul, D.D., Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, whose general assembly is now sitting, gave expression in his presidential address to this view -
What a hollow farce in the name of Christianity ! what a transparent trick to catch votes at a coming political scramble !
I am ‘ a member of the Presbyterian Church, and have been in politics for twenty years, during which time I have had fierce political fights, but I say, honestly and conscientiously, that I have never asked any man for his vote, nor have I referred to any private or public act of my life as constituting a personal claim to support. Further, I have stood by proposals that were unpopular because I be- lieved them to be right, and I am not supporting the Bill because of the votes that may therefore be cast for me. If these critics are to be believed, those who support the Bill will lose votes at the coming election. I do not think that any member of this House supports it for any other reason than because he looks upon it as a measure calculated to assist the interests of morality, to further the preservation of human life, and to bring a little sunshine into the lives of women who pass down to the gates of death at the crisis of maternity unsupplied with many of the necessaries required at that period. I desire to repudiate the jibe that this is a “vote-catching” expedient.
Although some clergymen and some good ladies have strongly opposed the Bill, other clergymen, or worthy members of the community, view it very differently. Dr. Strong is well known in Melbourne for his learning, his ability, and his philanthropy. I have not a report of his utterances in regard to the measure, but I should like to quote this newspaper comment in regard to them -
Only a few days ago a number of presumably representative ecclesiastics interviewed Prime Minister Fisher to voice a protest against his announced purpose to pay the bonus equally to married and unmarried mothers. Dr. Strong commented on the representations of this deputation by stating that those members of it who feared that illegitimacy would be encouraged were no doubt quite honest. But often young women who had made a false step in life should be as respectfully and tenderly dealt with as married mothers. They needed all the help they could get to prevent them from sinking further. When a young woman had made a fatal mistake it was not a Christian attitude to judge her.
We are told in the Old Book that this very question was raised in the time of the Master! Certain good, religious people, who regarded themselves as examples lo the community, brought before Him a woman accused of the offence to which reference has been made, the penalty for which was death, and they asked for His judgment. He said in effect, “There is the law ; if any of you consider that he is without sin, let him enforce it by casting the first stone at her.” They felt the force of His rebuke, and one by one turned away, leaving the woman alone with Him. When He found that they had not condemned her He said, “ Neither do I condemn you ; go in peace, and sin no more.” It seems to me that the good ladies and good churchmen, who have inveighed against the Bill, are so conscious of their righteousness that they would have been prepared to cast stones al that woman. In effect that is what they asked the Prime Minister to do. They asked that unfortunate mothers should be made to bear the uttermost pains and penalties attaching to their offence, and objected to any monetary help being given to them on the basis of common motherhood. Among the learned members of the church who have expressed approval of the Bill is Bishop Langley, who was at one time incumbent of St. Philip’s Church, Sydney, and, as I attended its Educational Institute, I knew something of him. His church was close to one of the slum areas of the city, and he went among the unfortunates of the district and endeavoured to do what a Christian can towards alleviating suffering and distress. Speaking from his intimate knowledge of humanity, he said, at a synod meeting recently held at Bendigo, that he entirely agreed with the proposed bonus scheme, but that if he had thought that the bonus would encourage vice, he would have denounced it. His experience had taught him that the prognostication that it would encourage vice was not warranted, and he felt at liberty to support the measure. Another clergyman supporting the Bill is Dean V. MacCullagh, whom I have not the pleasure of knowing, but of whom the Sydney Sun says -
His acts of charity make such demands upon his stipend that his parishioners at St. Paul’s Church have for years past subscribed a purse of sovereigns for him on his birthday. The spectacle is not unknown in Bendigo of the tall white-haired dean carrying a mattrass to some unfortunate widow in a back street or personally conveying other comforts to the suffering poor.
He is a man in close touch with the actual conditions of life; he knows the springs that move, the temptations that beset, the demoralization and degradation that operate. He knows, too, where there is to be found a spark of better nature, which, if cultivated and fostered, will produce a better life. His views on the Bill have been set out in a short address, in which he said-
Personally he was of opinion that if any financial assistance was to- be rendered to women in their time of trouble it should certainly be given to women who had been seduced.
It had been suggested that the Government proposal would lead to an increase in immorality. He refused to believe that any young woman would sacrifice her honour for the sake of £s-
These are the sentiments of churchmen of equal eminence with those who oppose this Bill - the sentiments of men who have, possibly, more practical knowledge of the conditions with which we have to deal. Then the Rev. Courtney Thomas, of Wonthaggi, in an address, objected to the action of the Council of Churches as not representing the real sense of the church community, and expressed the opinion that the Bill would prove a blessing to many in their time of need.
– The Council of Churches did not say anything to the contrary.
– The Council of Churches would draw a distinction between the married mother and the unmarried mother, and would exclude the latter from any benefits of this Bill.
– Otherwise, as I take it, they support the Bill.
– They do not make it very clear that that is so; but they certainly have very strong objections to anything being done for the unfortunate unmarried mother. Then the Council of the Baptist Union recently passed the following resolution unanimously : -
This Council of the Baptist Union regret the resolution of the Council of Churches, which in their judgment ought to have been submitted to the constituents of the Council first, and we cannot agree that the payment of the maternity bonus should be made the opportunity for discriminating between married and unmarried mothers.
Although the Methodist Church has not pronounced any opinion as a church, its official organ, The Spectator, publishes an article, in which we find the following: -
We cannot see that the proposal will be an inducement to immorality. No girl is likely to barter away all that she will lose by immorality for the sake of a ^5-note, to come long afterwards when she is a mother. The thing is unthinkable, when one reflects for a single moment.
That is the matured judgment of very worthy people; and I commend it to those equally worthy people who take an opposite view.
There is no doubt that, at the time of birth, there is great loss of life, and figures have been quoted in this connexion. I ‘have here a. very able work entitled The Bitter Cry of The Children, by Mr. John Spargo, who, at page 7, writes as follows: -
Wolf, in his classic studies based upon the vital statistics of Erfurt for a period of twenty years, found that for every 1,000 children born in working-class families 505 died in the first year; among the middle classes 173; and among the higher classes only 89. Of every 1,000 illegitimate children registered - almost entirely of the poorer classes - 352 died before the end of the first year.
I should like honorable members to note the varying death rates in the different classes of the community. In the working-class family, living on the verge of subsistence, where the mother and child are denied the sustenance necessary at this very vital period, the death rate is enormous; in the middle-class family, where the conditions of life are better, and the mother is surrounded with greater comfort, the rate is reduced, though it still remains high ; but amongst the wealthy classes, who have all that money can buy, we find the death rate reduced to a minimum. We have the further fact that amongst illegitimate children the death rate is excessive. Mr. Spargo, in his book, tells us -
Dr. Charles R. Drysdale, Senior Physician of the Metropolitan Free Hospital, London, declared some years ago that the death rate of infants among the rich was not more than 8 per cent.. while among the very poor it was often as high as 40 per cent. Dr. Playfair says that 18 per cent, of the children of the upper classes, 36 per cent, of the tradesmen class, and 55 per cent, of those of the working class, die under the age of five years.
Similar variations can be found in Australia. We have slums in our great cities ; and recently a clergyman engaged in mission work in Sydney told us that there are 200,000 people there living under slum conditions. Of course, this phase of life is not nearly so extensive or intense as in the Old World, but it can be observed here; and the struggle of the Labour party is to prevent it becoming more evident, by means of a better distribution of wealth and the creation of better social conditions. By this Bill it is hoped to introduce a little sunlight into the homes of the wretched poor.
The honorable member for Parramatta last evening spoke of the unfitness of many infants for the active duties of life as the result of hereditary taint; but I should like to remind that gentleman that the unfitness is more apparent than real. Mr. Spargo tells us that he started out with the strong conviction that heredityhad a great deal to do with the conditions he found in slum life; he was of opinion that the deterioration was inherited, and that the present state of affairs could only be remedied by the slow process of evolution. He was forced, however, to the conviction, that the hereditary taint was not nearly so strong as it appeared to be, as is shown by the following extract from his book : -
And yet the experts say that the baby of the tenement is born physically equal to the baby of the mansion. For countless years men have sung of the Democracy of Death, but it is only recently that science has brought us the more inspiring message of the Democracy of Birth. It is not only in the tomb that we are equal, where there is neither rich nor poor, bond nor free, but also in the womb of our mothers. At birth class distinctions are unknown. For long the hope crushing thought of parental hunger, the thought that the mother’s hunger was shared by the unborn child, and that poverty began its blighting work on the child even before its birth, held us in its thrall. The thought that past generations have innocently conspired against the well-being of the child of to-day, and that this generation in its turn conspires against the child of the future, is surcharged with the pessimism which mocks every ideal and stifles every hope born in the soul. Nothing more horrible ever cast its shadow over the hearts of those who would labour for the world’s redemption from poverty than this spectre of prenatal privation and inherited debility. But science comes to dispel the gloom and bid us hope. Over and over again it was stated before the Interdepartmental Committee by the leading obstetrical authorities of the English medical profession that the proportion of children born healthy and strong is not greater among the rich than among the poor.
The great differences, it seems, are created, not before, but after birth. Children are thin, debilitated, and physically unfit in the slums, not because they were born so, but because of the unhealthy and unsocial conditions in which they are reared; and all that is required is to alter the conditions, when there will remain no reason why the children of the poor shall not be mentally and physically equal to the children of the rich. What I have read is the outcome of the investigations of a Committee appointed some years ago by the Home Government; and their conclusions have been amply verified since.
The idea of the Government in introducing this Bill is not to increase the birth rate, or, as has been feared by some critics, to offer an incentive to vice, but to render such assistance as will enable mothers to give to the community better children. I have no hesitation in supporting this humanitarian proposal, which will be amply justified in time and do an immense amount of good. I only wish the allowance was larger; but, as it is, I believe it will prove a great boon to many. So far as the cry of “ vote catching “ is concerned, it does not appeal to me, nor will it appeal to the great body of electors outside. I feel that some of those who are out to catch votes believe that they have, so to speak, “missed the ‘bus’,’ in connexion with thisproposal, and that they desire to make an effort to hold on, as long as they can, to the votes upon which they believe they have a lever. I am satisfied, however, to leave the whole question to the good judgment of the people, who have from time to time to record their votes.
.- I approach the consideration of this measure with the greatest pleasure, because I am convinced that if any one possesses a knowledge of the wants of the industrial classes of Australia, I do. I have been struck by the remarkable lack of knowledge displayed by honorable members opposite. I am quite willing, however, to accept from them an apology, because circumstances have not placed them in the position that honorable members on this side of the House have occupied. When this proposal was first made, it was received by the people of Australia as one which the Labour party were expected to bring forward when they were returned in April, 19 10. Any one who has studied the politics of Australia must know that the landed class and the Church have long had a very large voice in matters affecting the legislation of this country. In April, 1910, however, the Democracy of the Commonwealth decided that they would be represented in this Parliament; and for the first time in our history they were given an opportunity to govern Australia. There is very little doubt that, as the Democracy march onto the Treasury benches of the several Parliaments of this country, they will retain their position, because the people are beginning to understand that it is only when they are governed by themselves that justice is done to all sections of the community. This Bill has been introduced under conditions such as have never attended any similar measure. It makes no class distinction. No matter what position in life a woman may occupy, she will be able to claim the allowance for which the Bill provides as soon as she has registered the birth of her child. Under the laws of the States it is necessary for a child to be registered within six weeks of its birth; but if a mother feels that she requires speedy assistance, she will be able to register her child within six days of its birth, and at once obtain the allowance.
The assertion made by honorable members of the Opposition that mothers will have to wait two months to secure this money is a mere stretch of the imagination on the part of persons who are trying to prevent this payment being made to the womanhood of Australia. Such assertions are made solely with the object of deceiving the people. The Opposition know well that mothers will be able to obtain- the allowance within a few days of the birth of their children, and will not have to wait, as they have alleged, for two months. This’ proposal, like nil other measures introduced by the Government, has been opposed by the Opposition. Whenever we bring down a Bill, we have from them the cry “ It is unconstitutional,” The cry is raised to prevent the passing of legislation which we regard as exceedingly necessary. It is raised so often that it has become positively nauseating to us. It is a perfectly useless cry to raise. The Opposition might just as well tell us that blowflies are to be found in Australia. They declared that the land tax would be held to be unconstitutional, and they have made a like assertion about many other measures introduced by this Government.
– It is “ the legal blowfly.”
– The honorable member is quite right. Just as a nose-bag is useful to a horse, so the “ unconstitutional nosebag “ is useful to the members of the legal profession. I have sat patiently in this House, hour after hour, with the object of trying to discover the real objection of the Opposition to this measure ; but I am quite unable to understand why it should be opposed. I have already said that Democracy has come into power, and the Democracy is not likely to be shifted from power during my lifetime. So far as I am concerned, the Opposition may bring against me the strongest man they can select, and I shall have no fear. I do not want, however, to pass away too hurriedly from the question of the alleged unconstitutionality of this Bill. I have always understood that the welfare of the people is the supreme law. If it is, then I think we can banish this question of unconstitutionality. Parliament is supposed to have the supreme power. It has in every other civilized country, and why should not the Parliament of Australia have it? The intelligence of Australia is equal to that of any other part of the world, and yet, whenever a Bill to give effect to the will of the people is introduced, we are told that it is unconstitutional.
– It is very annoying.
– Yes; if we were outside I could say that which I am not prepared to say in the House. On 13th April, 1910, the Labour party in’ both Houses of the Legislature were returned by a large majority, and it is significant that not one Opposition candidate was returned to the Senate.
– Will the honorable member confine himself to the question before the Chair?
– I think that my remark is very pertinent to the question before the Chair, but I have no desire, Mr. Speaker, to fall out with you. It is because the Labour party are in power that measures of this sort can be brought forward. We could not expect the Opposition, if they were in office, to submit such legislation, because they are not in sympathy with the majority of the people. They are mostly identified with those who are opposing the onward march of Democracy, and who oppose it because it means interference with their vested interests. That is the reason for the honorable member for Fawkner’s opposition to the advance of Democracy. He knows that every advance that we make means that he will not be able to make any great addition to his material wealth. t do not wish, however, to be personal. The honorable member for Calare delivered a very nice address. Indeed, he spoke so nicely, and his remarks had so much to do with our spiritual advisers, that I almost thought that he was delivering a sermon. I propose to make a quotation from a book entitled The Christian Attitude Towards Democracy. It is written by a gentleman who does not belong to the Labour party, but who has liberal views, and who takes up a Christian attitude towards great public questions. He has a title, too. We do not very often find Christian men with titles. Before I quote from this book, which is written by Sir W. Robertson Nicoll, LL.D., and was published in March last, I should like to say that I do not go to Ancient Rome for the quotations that I wish to put before the House. I endeavour to find some living authority, and to put before honorable members the Latest expressions ,of opinion, because I find that musty traditions are neither more nor less than Con- servative rags, and are in no way suitable to our present-day civilization. The author of this book, writing of the trouble which has appeared lately in Great Britain, states–
The French revolution has been described by an excellent authority as one of sentiment. The present revolution - for it is no less than a revolution - 1 believe that he was really referring to the great change which took place in Australia on 13th April, 19 10 - is one of business. Even men like Lord Morley and John Stuart Mill foresaw but dimly the course of politics. They imagined that the democracy would become keenly interested in subjects like the Constitution and the Government of Ireland. On these matters the democracy may come to be of one mind, but meanwhile what they are caring for is their material interests. Lord Morley said in 1886, 11 What makes the Radical in the street is mostly motherwit exercising itself upon the facts of the time.” This has come to .pass. The Radical of the street reads his newspaper, and watches the motor-cars, and the jewels, and the tokens and forces of luxury that meet him on every side. He reads about the fortunes left by men of whom he has never heard, and about the dividends paid by companies, and his mother-wit exercises itself upon these. It is this that has brought in the new movement towards the equalization of human lots, and though the movement may be diverted and checked by divisions, it cannot be turned back.
Our friends opposite did their best by the manipulation of an amendment this afternoon, but with all the ingenuity of the legal fraternity - and God knows they are as plentiful on the other side as gooseberries in a quart pot - with all the machinery of deception at their disposal, because I am sure some of them earn their money by deceiving people, they could not defeat the Government on this Bill, which we hope will become law at the earliest possible date.
– They have no brains.
– They have brains, but they have got them so muddled with deception that they are of no use to them now. Some speakers on the other side inferred that the payment was going to be made under such conditions that there would be no receipt for the money. I have had a certain amount of commercial experience in my own business, and have been in charge of works for other people, and I understand that the amount is to be payable by a postal note, as one of the easiest means available. We do not require a lot of machinery or a lot of red tape when the money is paid. All we want to know is : Has the child been born, and is it a live child ? The mother should then only need to hold out her hand to receive from the National Exchequer the amount of money proposed in the Bill. That is all we want to provide for, and1 it is easily done. The payment could be made by means of a cheque payable to order, the mother having to sign the cheque, and the signature being witnessed by some official. I thought some cf the honorable gentlemen opposite had some commercial experience, but T am coming to the conclusion that they are like a fellow who has been fed on pap all his life. Apparently they have had a lot of servants to look after them, employing others to do the work, and drawing the screw themselves. I do not think there should be much real objection to the Bill. Some members opposite have said, “ Oh, this is charity”; but can any honorable gentleman tell me what charity is? An American once told me that in America they understand charity to mean, that if you want to give a man £1 it costs you 17s. 6d. to collect it, and the man gets the remaining 2s. 6d. I think that is something like what would happen if the proposal of honorable members opposite, to hand this maternity allowance over to the benevolent and good-looking ladies, whose meetings many of them are so anxious to attend, were given effect to. Are they not satisfied that the officers employed by the National Government will pay the money properly to these people ? I suppose some of those ladies would want the recipients to do as is done in England - make a curtsey, and say, “ Please, may I get it?” We want nothing of that sort here. This is simply a’ donation or a payment for maternity from the National Government to the person who is entitled to it, and nothing, should stand between the National Government and the mother who is to receive the amount. I come now to a matter upon which I wish to speak very seriously. I refer to a suggestion made by members of the Opposition, which I regard as a reflection on the women of Australia. I do not think those honorable gentlemen meant it, but if they did I say without fear or hesitation that they are not fit to sit in a National Parliament. In short, they suggest that the only place for a woman belonging to the industrial class, who is about to become a mother, is a refuge. That is all they recommend. Mr. Deakin. - Who said that?
– The honorable member did, when he said that a woman should go into one of these institutions to become a mother.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– It is nothing more or less than putting women into a barracks. That is what these places are, and I know what I am, talking about. The’ place for a mother to be delivered is in her own home, where her other children are, and where her husband is. Would any honorable member opposite like his wife to be taken away from home at such a time? My wife had ten children, and I was there always to see that she had proper attendance, and to see that everything was provided for her comfort. When the child was born the first that went into the room to embrace her was her husband, and the first thing she asked when it was all over was,. “ How are the other children? Are they being properly cared for?” I resent this talk about benevolent asylums being fit for women of the industrial class. However, it is quite in accord with the general attitude of the other side. I remember on one occasion in Sydney, when we wanted to hold a public meeting to receive Sir George Grey, I was asked by the Trades and Labour Council to make arrangements with the mayor for the meeting, because I knew the mayor and the aldermen, and my influence was greater than that of any other member of the council. The mayor, however, said, “ The hall is just nicely decorated, and there is a garden party and a dance on. You cannot have it for a meeting, but we have a lower hall - a cellar - which you can have.” The cellar was considered quite good enough for the workers to meet a man like Sir George Grey in. Member after member on the Opposition side said he thought a benevolent asylum was the place for women to go to.
– Who said that?
– Every member who spoke made reference to it. The honorable member for Ballarat, perhaps, did not mean it, but no other inference could be drawn from his statement that there are these benevolent institutions to which women could go. Home is the proper place for the woman at that time, and the object of the maternity allowance is to provide her in her home with those com forts which she sometimes cannot get out of the paltry amount earned by her husband in his vocation.
– The honorable member’s statement is an absolute perversion, so far as honorable members on this side are concerned.
– I did not hear one member of the Opposition express the sentiment that the woman should be in her own home. These benevolent asylums, to which, unfortunately, many women who have no homes have to go, are virtually barracks. We should not encourage such places. I am ‘Speaking now as one who had his struggles in early days, when I was on wages. I know what it is to go through trouble. Many honorable members have made reference to ladies who run these institutions. I hope that the result of this debate and of the remarks which I have made will be.to induce some honorable members to be more careful. No human being is more sensitive than a modest woman, and nothing makes a modest woman shudder more than to go to one of these places. I am speaking from intimate knowledge, because my home has been in the same place for thirty-five years, and I know the people among whom I live. I did not move my residence simply because I became a member of Parliament. Reference has been made to friendly societies. I doubt whether a single honorable member opposite knows anything about them. There is a phrase commonly used about people who “talk through their necks.” I am not sure what it means, but I say with confidence that some honorable members opposite have been talking about a subject concerning which they are barren of knowledge. I know something about friendly societies. I joined one in London in 1870. I drew my clearance, and went to New Zealand in 1873, and I went to Sydney in 1876. I have been financial from the moment of my joining up to the present hour. I paid my last fees just before I left Sydney this week. I was a member of every conference of my order, and attended every grand lodge meeting for thirty years, until I became a member of Parliament. I was told that the conference which I did not attend, because of my parliamentary duties, was the most “dead and alive” one ever held. I was for twenty years a friendly society secretary. I can, therefore, say with confidence that I have some knowledge of the subject. The only funds that are recognised by the registrar are sick and funeral funds. Maternity funds are not registered. The doctor and the medicine are paid for out of the management fund. For these, members pay 8jd. per week. An honorable member opposite said that 75 per cent, of members0 of friendly societies obtain medical attendance at maternity. That is absolutely wrong. I do not think that 30 per cent, of the mem1bers obtain medical attention in such circumstances. Medical men are usually anxious to get friendly societies’ business, because a doctor of any ability obtains practice and reputation in this way, and is thus enabled to make progress in his profession. The fee paid to the doctor used to be a guinea, and it had to be paid six weeks before the event. In the country districts the fee was two guineas. Some two years ago, however, the fee in the city was increased to two guineas. I know of hundreds of cases of members of friendly societies who really have not the means to pay these fees, and actually do without medical attendance in maternity cases. Some doctors, to punish them for this, insist on treating them as private patients, and charge them fees as they would charge other persons if anything happens within six weeks after birth. I know of many cases of people who would like to avail themselves of the services of medical men im the event of maternity, but have not the means to pay the fees. If this Bill is passed those persons will be able to procure medical assistance, and to procure various little comforts. Honorable members can understand that with my experience of life I hail this Bill with delight. It may be described as a political trick by some members of the Opposition, but I retort that those who resort to such tactics are not fit to be in a National Parliament. There are too many social distinctions in this country. The man in the street takes notice of the motor cars and the jewellery. We see the same sort of thing in this House. Sometimes when I am leaving this building I watch an honorable member who has a motor car waiting for him, at the door. The chauffeur opens the door of the. car, an electric light is turned on, and the honorable member is tucked up in a nice rug as gently as if he were a lady. There is social distinction there. What have I done that I should not have the same comforts? I have worked hard all my life, and never robbed anybody either.
– Order ! “Will the honorable member confine himself to the question ?
– I do not think that I am going beyond what is fair when I draw attention to these social inequalities. A. man who wants to become a statesman in this country, and aspires to represent the people, will have to see that something is done to equalize social conditions. We are/ not here to follow precedents, but tor create them. The people would not have put the Labour party into power had those who occupied the Opposition benches carried out their wishes. It is because they did not do what the people desired, and did not administer the affairs of the country as the people wished, that the Labour party is in power ; and if i understand the Democracy of Australia, w» shall remain here for a long while. But we shall not remain here if we do not do our duty. No one is more quickly punished than is the representative of the industrial classes who is not true to the people by whom he has been elected. No electors are quicker to see the faults of their representatives, and to remove those representatives, than are the industrial classes. None of us should be here who does not do his duty. There are plenty of men outside as good as those in the House. We do not monopolize all the wisdom that is in the world.
– Will the honorable member confine himself to the question before the Chair?
– I hope that I shall hear no more about putting the wives of the industrial classes into ‘benevolent asylums and refuges, no matter how good. We should create the feeling that a woman should be in her own home, surrounded by her children, when an event of this character takes place. She should be where her husband should have an opportunity to embrace her as soon as the event has happened, not in an institution where he will be kept waiting at the gates for admission. The members of the Council of Churches have been strongly criticised by other honorable members, so that I shall not deal with them. There is this good feature in the Bill, that it makes no class distinctions. It draws no line between wealth and poverty, between the child born in licensed wedlock and the child born without a licence. I am sure that the future historians of Australia, if they set up a roll of fame, will not forget the members of this Government and of this party. We shall then be properly eulogized for the grand and noble work that we have done in the short time that we have been in power. I have endeavoured to show that the friendly societies do not desire to distribute the maternity allowance. They admit to membership only healthy persons. Those who are unfortunate enough to suffer from any sickness are not admitted. The Rev. VDr. Rentoul, speaking at the Presbyterian Assembly yesterday, said that -
He protested against . ruthless lines drawn, not’ at morality, not as against the seducer of girlhood, but to rigidly exclude and ban any woman who was cursed by any tinge of colour and shade save that of a European.
There is hardly a person in the community who is not in favour of a White Australia. I number coloured persons among my friends, and, as a Christian, I sometimes ask myself why should restrictions be placed on them. But I have to think of my ten children, five or six of whom are married and have children themselves. I have to protect them. Were coloured races to dominate Australia, our liberties would be gone. This convinces me of the need to exclude Asiatics and coloured women from the benefits of the Bill. I have often been questioned after my meetings’ about my views in regard to the colour question. Recently a dark gentleman whom I know said to me, “ West, why did you make that reference to coloured races?” I said, “ We are friends, are we not, Jim?,” He said, “Yes; what is the reason of your antipathy against the coloured peoples?” I replied, “It is due to the fear that your race may outdo mine, and I must provide against that, as I sst traps to catch the rats and mice, which would otherwise make my house uninhabitable.” Dr. Rentoul is a university man, and I pay him respect, but I do not think that there is any ground for saying what he did. I am sure that the Minister of Home Affairs would have been glad had the Americans been able to keep their race pure. The people of America regret that there is such a mixture of races in their land, and feel that, in time, it may occasion very serious trouble. We should try to avoid that, and secure for the benefit of our posterity the predominance, in this sunny Australia of ours, of the race to which we are proud to belong.
– I rise to support the motion for the second reading of this Bill. As a member of the Australian Labour party, I am satisfied that it is in accordance with their ideals, and in keeping with their promises to the people. I do not look upon the proposed maternity allowance as in any sense a bonus. I regard it merely as a sum of money to be given to a mother when bringing a child into the world, in order that she may secure medical attendance, proper nursing, and nourishment. As men, and fathers, we know that woman is the most beautiful thing on God’s earth. In my opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than a good woman. If that be so, is it not the duty of Parliament to care for the most beautiful thing on earth? If a son be present during a difference between his father and mother which threatens to become serious, he will take the side of his mother rather than that of his father. A young man’s mother is first in his regard. The love which one bears for his mother has been naturally transferred from her. I can speak on this subject as a married man. I may say that I am pretty well married too, seeing that I have nine children, two of whom are themselves married, and I have five grandchildren. I can remember ths interesting occasions which have occurred in my own household. I can recollect .that, on the second of these occasions when my wife was stricken down, I had not a £5 note to pay for a doctor or a nurse. I should have been very thankful to have had one, and to know that my wife might be satisfied that the necessary expenses of the occasion would be immediately met. When this has been my own experience, I can understand that it has also been the experience of thousands, and of hundreds of thousands of. persons in Australia. 1 never had need in my life to beg for a crust of bread, or to steal anything ; but 1 have been in want, and I know how hard it must be upon any woman, in the performance of the noblest duty of womanhood, that of giving birth to a child, to lack assistance. Surely no one in this, the richest country on God’s earth, would refuse to grant a maternity allowance to any woman on such an occasion. I do not think that honorable members will refuse to do so. I have been surprised to find honorable members opposite endeavouring to belittle the Labour party by stating that we are bringing this measure forward on the eve of an election for the specific purpose of endeavouring to gain kudos and votes. They are, no doubt, very sorry that they did not submit such a proposal when they were in office. They had the opportunity and missed it. They were not game to make such a proposal, because they thought that perhaps it would be unpopular. What do we hear from them now? They say that it would be a dangerous and an improper thing to give this allowance directly to the mothers of Australia. One honorable member opposite, the honorable member for Echuca, went so far as to say that, in many cases, the allowance would be spent on drink. Is that the opinion which some of the Liberals entertain of the women of Australia ? Some who support the other side, and, unfortunately, amongst them ministers of the Gospel, have gone even further. They have gone so far as to hint that a woman would suffer torture for nine months, and degradation for all time, in order to secure a grant of £5 from this National Parliament. Is it possible that we have men in our community wearing the black cloth and the white tie, and claiming to preach Christ crucified, who could make such a statement as that? It is but too true that we have. I read the statement in the newspapers during the last month with disgust, and I asked myself, “Where is true Christianity ; where are we to find it?” Let me refer to another phase of the question. Unfortunately many young women make a mistake. They do that which they should not do ; but we find that, in nearly every instance, the woman who makes a mistake and then becomes a mother belongs to the poorer classes of the community. What becomes of the young women of rich families who make such mistakes ?
– They take a sea voyage.
– Yes, they take a sea voyage for three or six months. That is a fact. But the unfortunate girl who belongs to a poor family suffers disgrace, and the finger of scorn is pointed at her by the old maids of Australia who belong to the Women’s National League. They do not know a mother’s feelings, and they are cruel enough to say almost anything about the mothers of Australia. Then there are honorable members opposite who desire this money to be doled out to the mothers through the medium of charitable institutions. Just three years ago, I had the honour of being Chief Secretary of Tasmania. It is true that I occupied the office for only seven days, but during that period I went about with a view to seeing what was going on under the head of that Department- Whilst the agricultural show was being held in Hobart, I visited one of these charitable institutions. Under responsible government, which had been in existence for sixty years in Tasmania, what did I find? I will not exaggerate in any shape or form, because I have made the same statement that I am about to make from nearly every public platform in the State from which I hail. I have made it in the presence of nearly 3,000 people, and I did not flinch. If this is what is called the good work which is being done by charitable institutions, let us have none of it. I visited the charitable institution at Newtown, Hobart, in which there were about 250 women inmates, and an equal number of men. I found the place fairly clean; in fact, I may say very clean. I walked from bed to bed and spoke to nearly every woman in the building. I asked them how long they had been inmates of the institution, and how they were being treatedI found some of the inmates were nearly 100 years of age. In fact, one was 102 years old. I said to her, “ My good woman, what do you get for breakfast here?” Her reply was, “A pot of black tea and a. piece of bread1.” I then inquired, “ Do you get any. milk and sugar in your tea?” and her answer was, “ No, sir.” “ What do you get on the bread?” 1 asked, and she replied, “ Twice a week we get butter, at other times nothing.” A similar tale was told me by another inmate. I then inquired, “Do you get any porridge in the morning?” and was informed that she did not. Dinner and tea were served upon similar lines. The only difference between the fare served in the male ward was that the men got a plate of dry porridge in the morning - that is porridge without milk or sugar. This institution had been under Tory, Conservative, and Liberal Governments for nearly sixty years, and I was the first Chief Secretary of Tasmania to walk through it and converse with the inmates. The superintendent accompanied me, and’ before I left I ordered that the following day the inmates were to be supplied with a new diet, including half a pint of milk each per day, and white sugar on their porridge; that the women were to be supplied with porridge ; that they were to have butter on their bread always, and that a certain quantity of meat and vegetables were to be supplied to them daily. These dear old souls have been blessing the Labour party ever since. I gave that order-
– And the Government are afraid to cancel it.
– They dare not cancel it. Then I visited the Boys Training School.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the Bill?
– Yes. Some of the mothers had died in giving birth to these lads, who were then sent to the training school. About forty lads, ranging from five to fourteen years of age, were inmates of the school. On the occasion of my visit a whistle was blown, and they at once assembled in the yard attached to the building. The superintendent told them who I was, and, of course, they were called upon to give three cheers. 1 immediately commenced to question the children in the presence of the superintendent. I said to them, “ Well, boys, what time do you get up in the morning?” Their reply was, “ Half-past 5 o’clock.” I asked, “ What do you do then?” They answered, “We milk the cows.” “ How many cows are there?” I inquired, and they said, “ Twenty-two, sir.” “ Do you. get any milk in your tea?” I asked, and they answered, “ No, sir.” “ After milking the cows what do you do?” was my next question. They said, “ We have’ our breakfast, and after that we go into the field.” I asked the superintendent what they meant by saying that they went into the field, and he explained that there was a large farm connected with the institution, and that the lads tilled it. I asked them what they did afterwards, and they said, “ We come into dinner “ - a dinner similar to that served to the old men and women. I further inquired, “ What do you do afterwards?” They said, “ We go out on the farm again.” They further informed me that after that they milked the cows, and subsequently had tea. “ After you have had tea, what do you do?” I asked. Their answer was, “ We go to school.”
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know if the honorable member’s remarks are in any way relevant’ to the Bill?
– I would point out that the honorable member is merely illus trating what he desires to say upon the Bill, and that the debate generally has been to the effect that the proposed maternity allowance should be handed over for distribution to the mothers through the medium of charitable institutions.
– I asked the superintendent some questions in regard to the parents of the lads. One or two of the elder boys said that they did not remember their mothers. They had died in giving them birth. I said to the lads, “ You go to school at night time?” and they answered, “ Yes, after tea.” These boys rose at half-past 5 o’clock in the morning, worked all clay upon poor food, and were sent to school at night to receive one and a half hours of tuition. These de*ar little motherless and fatherless children, in a charitable institution conducted under a responsible LiberalConservativeTory Government, were lined off like cattle in a shed, each in his little sleeping box, which was actually wire-netted on the top. I asked the superintendent whether the children ever got any recreation in the shape of cricket, draughts, or other games, and he informed me that they did not. He added that, as I had asked the question, he might tell me that a few cheques had been sent to be spent in their enjoyment, but these had not been used, because no order had been received from the Government. Before I left the institution I gave an order that so many pounds were to be spent on these neglected children, who were there under the care of those dear, good people through whom honorable members opposite suggest that this allowance should filter. Then what about private institutions, including private hospitals, some of which are the biggest sweating dens in . Australia? I know what I am talking about, because one of my daughters insists on being a nurse, and I do not like to stand in the way of her desires; and she informs me that in Sydney, where she is at present, she works from 6 o’clock in the morning until 6 o’clock at night one week, and in the following week- ,
– Does the honorable ( member propose to connect this with the j question before the Chair? j
– Yes, I am talking about ^ institutions.
– The honorable member must connect his remarks in some way with the question.
– I take it that some women go into these institutions to be confined.
– That is not sufficient to justify the honorable member’s remarks.
– I think I have told honorable members sufficient about charitable institutions. The general trend of the arguments on the Opposition side of the House is that, though they do not oppose a grant to, at any rate, certain mothers, the money must filter through the churchesand charitable agencies. I can only say, with another honorablemember, that unless the vote goes direct to the mother, my vote shall not be given for the Bill. I am delighted to be a member of the party which has introduced this measure, because I believe it will give great joy to many a mother. If it is the means of saving only a portion of those who have suffered in the past, and who, without it, must suffer in the future,I am glad to support it. We always hold up Australia as one of the richest countries in the world, and, surely, if that be so, we can look after those in distress and want. It is not fitting that a woman who is fulfilling God’s wish should be treated as an object of charity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 (Short title).
– I move-
That the Chairman report progress and ask leave to sit again.
There is an understanding with the Leader of the Opposition that the Bill shall pass through its Committee stage to-morrow.
– If we have time to move two amendments - that is all.
Motion agreed to; progress reported.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
The clear understanding is that the Maternity Allowance Bill shall pass through the Committee stage to-morrow. I desire to ultimate to honorable members on both sides that, in all probability, they will in the future be asked to meet on Wednesday and Thursday mornings at half-past Ten o’clock.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11. 7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 September 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120926_reps_4_66/>.