4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair’ at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– .1 ask the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to the-‘ fact that the English hospitals are excluding medical men holding Scotch and Irish qualifications? Will the right honorable- gentleman see, in the making of appointments to medical positions in the various Departments of the Commonwealth Government, that men and women holding Scotch, Irish, English, and Australian qualifications are all given a fair run, no preference being shown to those who possess English qualifications ?
– I understand that the honorable member bases his question on something that appears in a pamphlet which I have not read. I have not heard anything on the subject.
– The pamphlet is from the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland.
– I see the heading here, “ No Irish need apply,” but in Australia, Irish and Scotch diplomas, as well as English, are considered quite good enough, and the appointment of a medical man to any position willbe made on the ground of his fitness to perform the duties attaching to it, without considering whether he gained his. education in England, Ireland, Scotland, or Australia.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs yet taken steps to give the white residents of Papua an opportunity to be represented in the Legislative Council of the Territory ?
– I replied a little while ago that we had not time this session to provide for an alteration of the Constitution of Papua, but hoped to deal with the subject in one’ of the first measures introduced next session.
Resumption of Land
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs give the House any information regarding the resumption of land in the Federal Capital Territory, including the resumption of the Church and School Lands there?
– W - We have resumed the church, not that we are going to do anything to it, but so that in the natural order of things it will be on the same basis as everything else in the Territory. We do not intend to interfere withthe church in any way ; we shall let her operate in the future as she has in the past until perhaps, centuries hence, when something else may happen.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Railways - Uniform Gauge - Interim Report by the Conference of Railway Engineers (dated 7th December,
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act - Military Forces. - Regulation Mo.106a Amended (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1912, No.226.
Telegraphs and Telephones Special Works Account Act.1911 - Schedule of Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council, dated 4th December,1912
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
School Playgrounds as Drill Grounds - Deferred Pay - Japanese Trade in Pacific - Conveyance of Cadets to Rifle Ranges - Brigadier- General Bridges.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– Yes, as soon as the information is available.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is any deferred pay still outstanding in connexion with non-commissioned officers in the New South Wales Military Forces? If so; when will the overdue payments be made?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
The Regulations do not provide for the payment of deferred pay to members of the Permanent Military Forces, consequently no such payments can be due or overdue.
Probably what is referred to is the practice which was in force in the Instructional Staff in New South Wales prior to Federation; when, in consequence of slow promotion and advancement, a system of deferred pay, payable at the end of each year, was instituted at the rate of 6d. per diem after ten years’ service, and a further 6d. per diem after fifteen years’ service. Such payments were only made as “ bonuses “ on favorable recommendation for zeal, energy, and good conduct. It was not only possible, but more than probable, that . 1 man would remain for ten or more years upon the same rate of salary, which might be the lowest.
No further addition as deferred pay or bonus was made for any other period of service.
Shortly after the Defence Department was taken over by the Commonwealth the pay and allowances of members of the Permanent Forces were consolidated, and all who were at the time entitled to same had the deferred pay added to the total of their approved rate, such amount payable under the regulations being drawn until the individual was entitled to higher pay by promotion or by higher rank.
Representations have from time to time been made for the reinstitution of this deferred pay or bonus system, but such has not been approved. .
The question of rates of pay for the instructional staff, warrant and non-commissioned officers, throughout the Commonwealth has recently been under consideration, and provision has been made for certain increases in the rates for different ranks, to come into force as from the 1st July last, as soon as the Estimates are passed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What is the present rule or practice with reference to the free conveyance of cadets from their homes to rifle ranges, and will arrangements be made to reduce the distance within which they are required to walk or pay their own fares or travelling expenses?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The firing of a musketry course is one of the statutory obligations of a senior cadet in the third and fourth years of his service.
Transport is provided for cadets who have to travel distances exceeding five miles to the range. For distances of five miles and less they are required to make their own way. Any cases of special hardship being dealt with on their merits as they arise.
Owing to the magnitude of the expense involved for transport, if all cadets were franked to the respective ranges, it is considered inadvisable to make any amendment at present in the practice which now obtains.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Debate resumed from 9th December (vide page 6632), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill is the culminating stage of a series of Bills trending in one direction, and that direction, as honorable members on this side have frequently pointed out, is the ultimate goal of the Labour party, namely, the nationalization of all industries, as I propose to show a little later. I would remind honorable members that monopolies, in their basic element, always have some special privilege upon which to rest, and, in almost all cases, these privileges rest upon either a prerogative of the Crown or some Act of Parliament. Most of the monopolies which have been specially referred to here are monopolies which have grown up as the result of our own legislation, and we can deal with them without nationalization at all by retracing the various steps which we have taken to establish special privileges on behalf of certain sections of the people, whereby thev can exploit the rest of the community for their own pecuniary advantage, and, very often, to the detriment of the whole of the community. The first monopolies of which we have any knowledge, so far as British experience is concerned, date back, I think, to the time of Edward III. The first case was tried in 1602, when the question of monopolies was determined by a Court of law. Originally, all monopolies were vested as a prerogative of the Crown, and were really in the gift of the Government, but it was not until the time of Henry VIII. that this prerogative of the Crown, exercised by the King, came into general use. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it had become so extensively exercised by that Sovereign as to constitute very grave abuses, which ultimately were brought before the notice of Parliament, and led to many very strong complaints and protests, and ultimately a prohibitive proclamation. Hume and other historians relate accounts of many heated debates in Parliament from the years 1565 to 1601. At the time of James I., when monopolies had grown to very noticeable and detrimental dimensions, the House of Commons appointed Sir Edward Coke as chairman of a Committee of Grievances, the object of which was to inquire into, regulate, control, and suppress, injurious monopolies ; and the result was that prohibitions followed, and. for a long time monopolies were kept in check. In 1623, a Statute of Monopolies was passed making all monopolies illegal, except such as might be granted by Parliament, or were in the interests of new manufactures or inventions. This Act was strictly enforced, and eventually by its aid the evil system of monopolies was pretty nearly abolished; at any rate, the evil was greatly abated, and a normal condition of things was practically reached by strict administration. This law has really formed the principle ever since on which patents, trade marks, and similar enactments, both British and otherwise, have been based. It still remains in existence, although it is frequently abused; but I think that if we have to follow, in Commonwealth legislation, on similar lines, we shall find that we have plenty of power to effectively deal with monopolies without inviting the creation of a still greater monopoly - a parliamentary or national monopoly - by means of the proposals embodied in the Bill. The whole principle tends in the direction of surreptitiously altering entirely the Federal character of the Constitution, without making it apparent that the intention is to set up a unified form of government. That was pointedly referred to by Mr. Beeby, in resigning his post in the New South Wales Ministry. So strongly does he feel that this is the main intent and purpose of the
Federal Labour Government, and so strongly opposed is he to that system, that he has gone to the length of resigning his seat in the Legislative Assembly rather than submit to be coerced by the Labour Conference into supporting their referenda proposals. In his manifesto to the electors, he says -
The Australian Constitution was framed purely for a Federal as against a unified form of government. If Unification had been the objective, the whole scheme would have been different. The record of the Conventions shows that the delegates began, continued, and completed their labours with one purpose - that of maintaining full State autonomy after vesting in a Federal Parliament control of specified questions of national importance which could not be effectively dealt with by the existing State Governments. To-day we are asked to completely, depart from the Federal conception without refraining the Constitution. All I ask is that the issue be honestly dealt with, and that the supporters of the amendments will make it clear that they are asking for the powers of a unified Government, but have not courage to ask for those changes in the Constitution which must precede Unification.
This states the position as I view it, and I think that anybody who has examined this proposal, and read it, in conjunction with the preceding proposals, can form no other conclusion than that the sole aim and object of this series of measures is to invade the State authority in matters “where State control should be supreme, and to set up a unitary authority in the Federal Government over areas and subjects which it was never contemplated should be included in the Constitution when the question of Federation was being considered. I think it would be, as Mr. Beeby says, very much more honest for Certain sections of this Parliament to go to the people and say that they find that the Federal scope of the Constitution does not enable them to do certain things which they desire to do to carry out the real Socialistic objective of the Labour platform. I may point out that when some of these proposals were being discussed in the Labour Conference of 191 1, it was a very significant thing that Senator Gardiner is reported in the press as having expressed the hope that -
Mr. Holman would not tell the press the fact that the Labour party intended to amend the Constitution in the direction he had urged. It might defeat the referendum proposals if it leaked out. Let them first get in the thin edge of the wedge by the carrying of the referendum proposals.
Here is a cat let out of the bag by one of the leading members of the Labour party connected with the Federal Parliament.
– At the last Labour Conference Senator Gardiner, according to this newspaper, said that it might defeat the referendum proposals if certain things said at the Conference leaked out. Let them first, he said, get in the thin end of the wedge by carrying the referenda. The only inference to be drawn from this desire for concealment is that they should first carry out the thin end of the wedge and keep concealed from the public the ultimate goal of all these proposals, and once they had got in the thin end they could drive the wedge home, and have their “ whole hog “ Socialism in full swing. There is no doubt that the aim and object of the whole of these proposals is first to help to create monopolies by legislation, and then to declare, by parliamentary vote, to be monopolies all the industries which the Labour party desire to nationalize, and so by one declaration after the other to secure the sole control of industry in its ramifications throughout the trade and commerce of all the States.
– It is a good job that it is the honorable member who is making that statement.
– I am not the only one who has made it, and I propose to show that the statement is amply justified by making a few quotations from utterances of members of the Labour party. The honorable member himself, in the course of an interview with the Queensland Worker, said -
I let them know where Jim Page stands all right. I am a Socialist, and I not only believe in Socialism in our time, but in Socialism all the time.
– Hear, hear ! I would not go back on that statement, and have not attempted to do so.
– Quite so ; but when the Opposition point out that this proposal for the nationalization of monopolies is intended to cover the whole gamut of Socialism, the honorable member himself, as well as other honorable members opposite, take exception to our statement. I desire to show that we have the authority of their own statements for the opinion we express in this regard. Mr. J. C. Watson, former leader of the Labour party in this
Parliament, when at the Labour Conference in 1905, said, in speaking of the Labour party; -
The sooner it was made clear that the movement was Socialistic in its trend and intentions the better. It would be the wisest thing to make it a sine qua nott that those who come into the Party were Socialists.
In that last sentence we have an indication of not only the trend of the Labour party, but the final objective of each of these proposals.
– That does not cut any ice. The people to-day are not afraid of Socialism.
– Are they not? We shall see. But why, then, these frequent attempts to throw dust in the people’s eyes ? Then, again, the honorable member for Kennedy on one occasion said -
Let us appeal to the country, and let honorable members opposite take up the cry of antiSocialism, while we take up the cry of Socialism.
I find also that the Minister of Defence - Senator Pearce - speaking at the Hobart Conference, said -
Individualism is doomed, and Socialism must take its place, with the means of production manipulated and controlled by the whole people.
Honorable members should be interested in the following statement, made by another member of the present Ministry: -
This, then, is what the Labour movement means. In one precise pregnant word it means Socialism. Well, Socialism is your scheme a? apart from all other schemes.
This was a statement by the present Minister of External Affairs, when speaking to the workers at Broken Hill, to whom he was appealing for support at the last general election. He went on to say -
It is based on social growth. It is the common holding of land and the means of production and exchange, and the holding of them for the equal benefit of all.
The whole programme of the International Socialists is embodied in those words. The most extreme Continental Socialists want no more than that for which the honorable member asks, and which he declares to be the goal and objective of the Labour party.
– He must have been speaking of the far-away future. »
– No, he was speaking of the present time.
– Then. why has he not introduced such a policy in connexion with the Northern Territory?
– The Government are bringing it into operation in the Northern Territory as fast as they can. They have established there, to begin with, a Socialistic laundry, and there are other projects of the kind. Senator Pearce introduced a Bill in the Senate to amend section 51 of the Constitution so as to give the Federal Parliament power to make laws for -
The nationalization of monopolies with respect to production, manufacture, trade, and commerce.
Is anything that could be nationalized left out of that proposal? I think that fc covers all production, distribution, and exchange. That gentleman is now the Labour Minister of Defence. It seems to me, therefore, in view of statements that have been made from time to time by members of the Labour party, that their attitude in regard to this proposal to take power to nationalize monopolies is intended only to hoodwink the people in regard to the real scope and .purpose of the measure. One has only to examine the wording of the Bill to discover what is really intended. It declares that this Parliament - the most unsuitable and incapable tribunal for the purpose - is alone to have the right to declare when an, industry, calling, or business is a monopoly. One of the organs of the Labour movement, the Brisbane Worker, is always preaching the doctrine of Socialism. It has declared boldly-
Nothing short of a policy of straight-out Socialism, vigorously and persistently pursued, can be of much avail, and the Labour movement must be part of the great world-wide on-sweep which threatens dynasties in its progress, and is shaking established institutions to their base. . . The flag of our faith is flung to the battle breezes - the banner of Socialism.
Again, when referring to the Labour candidate who opposed the Leader of the Opposition at Ballarat, at the last general election, and. to the attempt by some members of the Labour party to water down their Socialism, the Brisbane Worker, wrote -
The pledged Caucus man who is running against the Prime Minister at Ballarat declared that the objective is collective ownership, but it is being kept in the background because it is at present unattainable. The objective, however, was not to be Jost sight of. He did not wish to deceive his hearers in the slightest degree, but his Party was leading direct to Socialism.
– It seems only yesterday that nothing short of land nationalization would suffice for the honorable member.
– I have not made any such statement. At no time of my life have I advocated land nationalization. Henry George lias demonstrated its undesirability. The late Leader of the Labour party in this House, Mr. J. C. Watson, speaking at Redfern, said -
It was time they intervened by nationalizing the shipping industry.
Then, again, the honorable member for Herbert, speaking in this House, declared that his party was going in for “ more Socialism, and of a more pronounced type.” During the last session of the Federal Parliament the business-paper fairly bristled with notices of motion, in the names of members of the Labour party, making various proposals for nationalizing industries. These proposals related amongst others to the nationalization of the tobacco industry, the shipping industry, coal mines, the sugar industry, and the iron industry. In addition, as I have pointed out on previous occasions, there are in the platforms of the State Labour parties several planks for the nationalization of industries by the State. Taking the two programmes together we fmd that the Labour party have in hand all sorts of Socialistic schemes and enterprises. I have here a copy of the Brisbane Worker, on the front page of which is a cartoon depicting two men rearing aloft the banner of International Socialism, bearing the words “ International Socialism,” “ Workers of the world unite,” whilst various figures are shown, representing the workers of France, Germany, Australia, Italy, Great Britain, and America, waving their hats before it.
– I shall have to quote that notorious cartoon drawn by the honorable member, and published in a singletax newspaper.
– I have never drawn a cartoon for the present single tax paper, The Standard. I do not know precisely to what the honorable member refers. The quotations which I have made from speeches delivered bv, various members of the Labour party show, not only the character of the Labour movement, but that the objective underlying these proposals is the whole-hog Socialism of the International Socialist party. Our actual experience of Labour Governments bears out my contention. We have the Federal Government engaging in all sorts of Socialistic enterprises, not a single one of which I believe is paying its way at the present time. Every one shows a loss.
– Name them?
– I am speaking of commercial enterprises upon which the Government is entering - such works as are usually conducted by private enterprise. We have the Saddlery Factory, the Woollen Mills, the Laundry in the Northern Territory, some cabbage-patches growing here and there, and other things of that nature. In Western Australia, as reported in the Argus of 6th December, the Labour Government has been raising a loan of £5,600,000, and the Loan Bill includes items of expenditure for Socialistic enterprises such as saw-mills, £120,000; steamers, ,£100,000; workers’ homes, £150,000; State hotels, .£19,000; State brick-yards, ,£10,000 ; and State milk supply, ,£4,000. Here we have a further indication of the fact that, not only does this trend manifest itself in connexion with Federal legislation, but that we have the Federal and State Labour parties working together for the establishment of State enterprises, and using public money for the purpose, without first having obtained the sanction of the people. We have, in New South Wales and Victoria, enterprises of a similar character, such as brickworks, cement works, saw-mills, and coal mines. My own opinion is that, in regard to all these matters, we are going on a wrong track. I do not believe that the evils of restriction, which breed monopoly, can be cured by greater restriction and the creation of greater monopolies. I have held the opinion, ever since I have studied political economy, that the only cure for monopoly, and for the evils of restriction of trade, is freedom of production, coupled with freedom of exchange. Where everybody is free to engage in production, where everybody is free to engage in exchanging the products created by the application of labour and capital to the forces of nature, there is no foothold for monopoly, which can exist only where artificial barriers are raised, between the people and the things which the people need. It is the creation of these artificial barriers which make practicable the creation of monopolies. They exist only where special privilege exists ; and the moment you interfere with the freedom of the people to produce and to exchange the products of their labour, and create artificial barriers between the community and the needs of the community, thereby enabling certain sections to monopolize production, fix prices, and corner markets, you are laying the foundation of monopolies, and thus bringing about injury to the whole community. The way to cure that injury is not by the creation of larger monopolies, but by sweeping away the foundations upon which monopoly and privilege rest. It is not by nationalization, but by freedom, that we can cure monopoly. I may remind honorable members that the methods proposed for running various concerns by the State are not new. Over and over again, in older countries, for centuries past, they have been tried. They have failed in every case. In all my reading, I cannot recall a single instance of a successful European Socialistic experiment in any country or period. When an effort was made, at the time of the French Revolution of 1848, to control all industry, Lecky points out that it led to a terrible system of tyranny and oppression. The contract system was penalized, wages and hours of labour were arbitrarily regulated, the State formally guaranteed work to all who needed it, national workshops were established to provide work for all, and private enterprise was everywhere discouraged. What was the result? Universal satisfaction and content ? Nothing of the kind. The result was chaos, discontent, and trouble on every hand. According to Lecky -
All steady industry was arrested or dislocated ; and the fact that men holding a leading position in the Government were preaching a complete revolution in the conditions of labour and the rights and distribution of property had very naturally destroyed all credit.
– Was that before or after the Revolution? .
– It was during the period when the French Government was running all these nationalized concerns. Articles of first necessity rapidly rose in price in a city where thousands depended for their subsistence on the sale of articles of luxury and superfluity. Every employer of labour restricted his business within the narrowest limits. In the great majority of Parisian workshops the number of persons employed was now only a fraction of what it had been before, and according to the most moderate calculation, the loss in Paris alone was not less than 2,000,000 francs -£80,000 - a day ; a loss which fell on the humblest and most industrious. The Congress of workmen at Luxem bourg claimed and exercised a despotic power, and, says Lecky -
The poison which Louis Blanc and his followers were diffusing was not the less deadly because it was abundantly mixed with sentimentality, and coupled with the loftiest professions of virtue and philanthropy.
That is just as we find it to-day. History is repeating itself. The very same kind of sickly sentimentality which used to tickle the ears of the populace in those days, and was indulged in by the popular orators and demagogues of the day, is indulged in today by those who preach this pernicious and soul destroying doctrine. How did the French Socialistic regime end ? It ended in riot and bloodshed, in bayonets and guns, so that in four days 16,000 men were killed in the streets of Paris. That is an experience which I sincerely trust is not likely to follow experiments in the direction of the nationalization of industry in Australia. Fortunately we have a means at our disposal which the French people had not at their command, in that we have so wide a franchise, and that so large a measure of political power rests with the people. But I would commend to honorable members opposite Ruskin’s answer to Socialism -
It is simply chaos - a chaos towards which the believers in modern political economy are fast tending, and from which I am trying to save them. The Socialist, seeing a strong man oppress a weak one, cries out, “ Break the strong man’s arms,” but I say, “ Teach him to use them to better purpose.” Put it at its worst, that all the poor of the world are but disobedient children, or careless cripples, and that all the rich people are wise and strong, and you will see at once that neither is the Socialist right in desiring to make everybody poor, powerless, and foolish, as he is himself, nor the rich man right in leaving the children in the mire.
That is the opinion of a well known writer whose views honorable members opposite are very fond of quoting. I ask them to lay those views to heart. Speaking yesterday the honorable member for Capricornia said that this Bill was mainly directed against the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Now, that company’s monopoly rests upon legislation which was enacted by Parliament. That legislation has enabled the company to achieve their present position, and to establish the monopoly which they now enjoy. If their business be regarded as a monopoly, and if the main purpose of this Bill is to destroy that monopoly, all we have to do is to retrace our steps and to repeal the legislation upon the foundation of which this monopoly has been built up. This Parliament has enacted Tariff and bounty legislation, the operation of which has tended to convert this company’s business into a monopoly. Having prepared the road for them, and having buttressed them in every possible way, honorable members opposite now denounce the company as one which is opposed to the best interests of this country. Without saying whether its operations are injurious to Australia or not, there is no doubt that people have to pay much more for their sugar under it, and I do claim that the remedy, if the company be a monopoly, is in our own hands, without resorting to the extreme of nationalization’. We have legislated to create this monopoly, and it seems peculiar that we should denounce something of our own creation - something which we have bolstered up by legal enactment. It is in our power to remedy the mistake which we made. Let us hark back to the point where we made that mistake, and by so doing we shall destroy this monopoly. I need hardly remind honorable members that a Royal Commission was recently appointed to inquire into the operations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and that that Commission was largely composed of men who were sympathetically disposed towards the Labour party. Yet even they are not prepared to recommend the nationalization of the industry. During the course of his speech the honorable member for Capricornia read certain extracts from the report of the Commission dealing with the subject of the monopoly itself. But he was careful not to read the recommendations of the Commission which are opposed to the proposals now put forward, which he says are directed principally against this monopoly. Upon page 46 of their report the Commissioners, in discussing the nationalization of the refining industry, say -
The refineries are the controlling factor in the sugar industry. If the refineries were nationalized by the Commonwealth Government, public authorities would fix the prices of refined and raw sugar respectively ; and they could also make the payment of the fixed price for raw. sugar conditional in the case of each mill upon a payment by that mill of a fair price for the cane. Any profits resulting from the control of the industry would find their way to the public purse. Despite these indisputable advantages, we cannot recommend the course suggested. Several reasons in their cumulative aspect convince us that, at any rate for the present, the nationalization of. the refineries would be inexpedient. These reasons may be briefly stated.
The Commission then set out their reasons under the following headings : -
The efficiency of the refining industry as it is at present carried on.
Costs to the Treasury. * ,
The speculative character of the refining industry.
This portion of the report concludes thus -
We believe that the foregoing considerations constitute in their cumulative aspect a convincing reason for seeking some other way of insuring an equitable distribution of the profits of the sugar industry among its various branches. So that after the most careful inquiry, and after an investigation into all the ramifications of the industry, extending over a period of many months, the Commission were not prepared to recommend its nationalization, but suggested that the Government should seek some other means of insuring an equitable distribution of the profits of the industry. Then, in paragraph 24 of their report, the Commission state -
The suggestion has been made that, since refiners are in a position to control prices in the sugar industry generally, the Commonwealth might enter into competition with existing concerns with a view to keeping down the price of refined sugar, while raising the price of raw sugar. We cannot recommend the adoption of this suggestion : -
The suggestion is probably due to an exaggeration of refining profits. The profits of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are largely due to items other than refining.
Honorable ‘members who know anything about the industry will recognise that the principal profits of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are derived from the commercial use which is made of the byproducts. It is by turning into a marketable article the various by-products which previously were regarded as waste products that they are able ‘to secure a larger profit over the whole of the operations of the industry. I quote the following from page 48 of the report of the Commission -
If the Commonwealth Refinery entered into competition with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the Commonwealth Refinery would be severely handicapped. It would have great difficulty in obtaining regular supplies of Australian raw sugar, and in getting its refined article regularly on the market. It would be expected to pay high prices for raw sugar, and to accept low prices for refined sugar. It ‘would, moreover, come into competition with a longestablished business conducted with a very high degree of efficiency. We have frequently had occasion to criticise the Colonial Sugar Refining Company from various points of view, but we do not hesitate to express our admiration of the economic efficiency which characterizes every branch of its business which has come under our notice.
In order to prove really effective for the purposes we have now in view, the Commonwealth Refinery would have to proceed on a large scale. This would imply a duplication of refining plants in Australia quite inconsistent with a sound economy of national resources. For the foregoing considerations, as well as for others, we are of opinion that the proposal to establish a Commonwealth Refinery is impracticable.
After the most exhaustive examination of the business of the company and of questions of production, labour, cost, profit, and distribution, and, although the majority of the members of the Commission were reputed, if not known, to possess sympathetic leanings towards the Socialistic objective of the Labour party, the evidence convinced them that, notwithstanding the fact that the industry is a monopoly - and, as such, I do not defend it - it is carried out in the most efficient and satisfactory way. In one portion of their report the Commissioners describe it as a beneficent monopoly. The evidence showed that the business was conducted economically on scientific business lines, and the Commissioners are not prepared to recommend that the Commonwealth should enter into competition with it. They point out that, if the Commonwealth did so, it would require inevitably to duplicate plants and works, and it could not expect to make a Commonwealth refinery a profitable undertaking. We have this Royal Commission telling the Government that their main objective in this matter is undesirable.
Mr. Roberts. They do not say that.
– They say that they do not recommend it.
– So far as sugar refining is concerned.
– I remind the honorable gentleman that yesterday the honorable member for Capricornia told us that the main purpose of this Bill was to suppress this monopoly. He said that the measure was directed mainly against the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and, if my memory serves me right, claimed that to be its chief purpose.
– That may be the honorable member’s opinion.
– The honorable member did not say so. He stated most definitely, without qualification, that that was the chief purpose of the Bill. Yet we have the Royal Commission, after thorough inquiry into the affairs of the company, recommending the Government not to proceed on these lines so far as the sugar-refining industry is concerned.
– Does the honorable member think that that will alter our minds ? Q
– Our experience has shown that no amount of evidence or argument, and no appeal to reason, will alter any determination which certain honorable members opposite have arrived at. They come to conclusions with ill-informed minds, irrespective of any evidence which may be tendered, and then, like spoiled stubborn children, persist in their ill-formed conclusions.
– How did the honorable member arrive at his conclusions when he was in the Labour movement? .
– Always on sound lines. It was only when those in the movement departed from those sound lines, and left the path of freedom and justice, that I found myself at the parting of the ways with them. I left them with very much regret, because I am so sympathetically disposed to the democratic point of view and the legitimate aims of Labour. It always causes me a pang of regret to find honorable members opposite departing so widely from the paths of freedom and justice, and espousing principles injurious to the community, because founded on class prejudice, tyranny, and injustice.
– We can understand the pang in view of the fact that we have succeeded so well since the honorable member left the movement.
– The fact that many people succeed in doing wrong does not justify wrong-doing. The speeches made by honorable members opposite show that behind this proposal to nationalize monopolies is a much more farreaching purpose, embracing the nationalization, not merely of monopolies, but, as opportunity arises, of every form of industry now carried on ‘by private enterprise, which they may consider it worth their while to nationalize. I do not think the proposed amendment of the Constitution would be in the best interests of the community. We have had sufficient experience of Socialistic experiments, even in our own time, to know that they can never be made a success, because they leave out of account the one essential element that cannot safely be ignored, the ‘element of human nature. One big commercial undertaking - our Post and Telegraph Department - is at the present time under the control of the Commonwealth. I do not regard the Post Office as altogether a Socialistic institution, because it lacks many of the fundamental essentials of Socialism, according to some of the best informed Socialist writers.
– And according to honorable members’ interpretation.
– Hubert Bland, a Socialist author, in the Fabian Essays, points out that the Post Office and similar institutions are not in their nature Socialistic, because they do not conform to the fundamental tenets of Socialistic principles. I commend those essays to the perusal of honorable members who are so fond of pointing to the Post Office as an evidence of Socialism in our midst. Hubert Bland says that it is not so much what the State does as the purpose for which the State does it, that is the factor determining whether an enterprise is Socialistic or not - that the delivery of letters or telegrams by a State does not necessarily include any of the elements of the Socialistic principle. However, I leave that aside, making a present to honorable members opposite of all the advantage they can get. or think they can get, by instancing the Post Office . and the State railways as evidence of Socialism in actual fact in our time. Socialistic authorities are practically unanimous in saying that such enterprises are not Socialistic, and I say they are not. They are semi-Socialistic: and, so far as they go, particularly the Post Office, they art a byword of reproach. The people point to the administration of the Post Office with scorn, and it is one cf the most unsuccessfully managed commercial institutions to be found in any part of the world-
– Would the honorable member hand the Post Office over to private enterprise ?
– No; but it should be put under commission in the same way that the State railways are. When the State railways were wholly under the political control of the Government of the day, through a Minister, they were hotbeds of corruption, favoritism, ineptitude, and inefficiency ; men of no ability were put into the highest positions, and political influence was the controlling factor in most of the appointments. Generally speaking, throughout the States political control, management, and influence led to so many abuses that the Governments were forced to abandon direct con-
L>4i] trol, and place the management in the hands of independent commissioners. And the same thing has had to be done in connexion with our Public Service, which, when it was under political control, showed similar evidences of abuse. All this proves that Governments are not the proper authorities to intrust with the management of enterprises in which large bodies of labour are employed ; and it stands to reason that this must always be so while human nature is what it is.
– Are not our railways equally Socialistic with the Post Office?
– The honorable member cannot have been listening. Socialistic authorities tell us that the Government control of railways, and other’ utilities, does not constitute Socialism - that it is not the actual carrying out of State enterprises that constitutes Socialism, but it is the principle on which, and the purpose for which, they are carried out which are the factors determining whether the enterprises are Socialistic or not. We have had many experiments in Socialism in this and other countries, even in our own time. In former years America was the happy hunting ground of Socialistic experiment, and that country, I suppose, is the graveyard of some hundreds of such enterprises. We had the departure from the shores of Australia of a band of some of our most enterprising spirits who were imbued with the principles of Socialism, and who attempted to form a Socialistic colony in Paraguay. We all know- how the Royal Tar departed from Sydney with an enthusiastic contingent on board, though it is true that the numbers had been somewhat thinned owing to dissensions which arose while the vessel was delayed in sailing. Little cliques and societies were formed amongst these enterprising colonists, and all the elements of disruption ‘were really present before they started ; and owing to the play of human nature, which must always assert itself, these developed on board, and many of those who were supposed to be a brotherhood and sisterhood, about to give the world an object-lesson in Socialism, were not even on speaking terms. Nevertheless they persevered with the experiment, but ic was riot long before they found the whole thing a failure. Gradually little parties began to drift away until only a mere handful were left ; and these divided up what property remained, and started out on those purely individualistic lines to which we have been accustomed from time immemorial, and which really are the only lines that have proved successful. Then there was another experiment in northern Queensland by Socialistic regenerators, on the Alice River, near Barcaldine. That seemed to prosper for a little while, but gradually there appeared the same indications of self-interest and of a human desire to excel. The spirit of emulation was there as a necessary part of human nature ; and the early promises of the settlement were dispelled by complete disruption. In a paper called The Capricornian, there appeared the following in reference to the Alice River settlement -
The men gradually drifted to what, in the dialect of the strike which gave birth to the settlement, was called the old wages slavery. They simply could not stand everything in common. What killed the settlement was not death, nor the hardship of the climate, nor the difficulties of agriculture, but simply Socialism. The system broke down ; men could not stand it, and in the end a settlement which started with over 100 men dwindled down to seven.
It is interesting 10 learn that these seven remnants of this socialistic community subsequently formed themselves into a limited liability company on capitalistic lines, and have since flourished exceedingly.
All of these Socialistic experiments have failed, notwithstanding the fact that they have been initiated with enthusiasm and engaged in by men imbued with the highest sentiments, and actuated by the strongest desire to reform and ennoble humanity. In every case, the last resort has been the much-despised capitalistic system, which, after all, is the natural system of carrying on all enterprises.
– Very unnatural.
– No, not unnatural, but. often, unfortunately, abused. I admit that there have been causes of grave discontent and complaint owing to the manner in which the capitalistic system has been carried out as the result of the greed, rapacity, and unscrupulousness of many employers. I do not defend such men, but I say that the abuse of the power in their hands, and their failure to deal with men as human beings rather than as beasts of burden, has led to the growth of the Socialistic sentiment. This failure on their part dots not” make Socialism right. I do not think it is right ; but the fact that it is wrong does not absolve us of our responsibility to find a remedy for the evils which have sprung up. It is our duty to teach employers, as well as employes, the right thing to do, and we have the means at hand in the shape of Wages Boards and other tribunals which have been brought into existence in order to enable employers and employe’s to adjust their differences. I am glad to say that in this country we have growing up now a class of employers who make a close study of this question, and who are anxious to do what is fair and just, emulating the example of some humanitarian employers in Great Britain and on the Continent. Recently, I inspected a large factory owned by one of the much-abused trusts, and I found that the employes were contented, well clothed and preserved, and were working under healthy conditions. Everything possible was done to minister to their comfort and convenience, and also to promote their mental and bodily development. Such employers would be a credit to any community. I maintain that it is by adherence to the principles of freedom, justice, and equality of opportunity for all. and by recognising cur responsibilities one to the other, that the true solution of our industrial and social problems really lies. To the mutual recognition of our responsibilities one to the other, and the recognition of .the responsibilities of employers to employes so that work may be carried on harmoniously, and ths interests of all may be considered, we must look for the true solution of industrial questions and the establishment of just conditions between employer and employ^, and the good of the community at large.
– The honorable member for Lang could net help, here and there, sounding a note that had a truly Socialistic ring about it. He was harking back to the old faith he once professed, and I cannot altogether blame him for doing so now and again. I would remind the honorable member, who speaks, in a fine large fashion about Socialism and its definitions’, that we have for our guidance the definitions given by some of the most able clerics.
– Clerics who mistake Christianity for Socialism.
– Nothing of the kind. When the honorable member sets himself up against Dr. Ingram, Bishop of London, he is, in effect, telling that eminent divine that he is a “ noodle,” and knows nothing about the matter.
– The best of men may make mistakes.
– I am much more inclined to accept the definition of Socialism given by these great spiritual guides in the Old Country than that of a biased politician in this House. The honorable member also spoke of harmony being brought about between employer and employe by means of Wages Boards and similar tribunals, rather than by the nationalization of industries. But the honorable member seemed to forget that even in such a case the aid of the State would have to be invoked. It would be necessary for the State to create Wages Boards, and for the Federal Parliament to create Arbitration Courts, and thus at one stage or another the help of the State would have to be enlisted in order to overcome difficulties. Further, I would remind the honorable member that, notwithstanding his meagre definition of Socialism, from which he excludes our postal system, our education system, and our railways, every man in this community is a Socialist - it is only a matter of degree. I believe that the people recognise this fact, and that Socialism does not now wear that alarming aspect in which it once presented itself. The honorable member also remarked that there were a number of matters which might better be left to the State Parliaments. In this respect he emphasized what had already been said by the honorable member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Ballarat. All these honorable members seem to be scared at the prospect of the Commonwealth taking over some small businesses. In this matter we can best be guided by the history of the past. The State Parliaments have conferred certain functions on municipal bodies, and they have rarely interfered in the carrying out of these functions : but, on the other hand, they have in many cases broadened the powers and elevated the status of the municipal organizations. If the States have acted in this way in relation to municipalities, may it not be reasonably assumed that the Federal Parliament will act similarly in regard to the States, and that they will not take over duties that can be better carried out by States? We have only touched on the fringe of Government experiment on Socialistic lines. In Germany, the Government make an annual profit of ,£2,000,000 out of their State coal mines. They also carry on the salt industry, and look after the brewing industry. Coming nearer home, I may point out that the Government of Western Australia are even conducting an hotel with great success, and are obtaining a considerable revenue from it, although I do not altogether believe in making profits out of such enterprises. I advise honorable members to pay a visit to our Newport workshops, one of the finest institutions south of the line, and conducted by the Victorian Government. Instead of its being an expensive experiment, the manufacture of our rolling-stock has saved several thousands of pounds to the State of Victoria. When our State Government proposed to send cut of the State for engines, the prices quoted by Baldwin, the American manufacturer of railway engines, and Beyer, Peacock and Company, the British manufacturers of railway engines, ran into thousands of pounds more than the engines could have been manufactured for in our Socialistic workshops at Newport. That is a fact that is practically well known to everybody. So that as regards the talk about our indulging in experiments, and entering into businesses and doing work that is absolutely essential for the carrying on of the State, to say that those experiments have not been a success is to say something that is not in accordance with fact either here or abroad. Members of the Opposition are always alleging that our party is drifting, and that our legislation has a tendency in a certain direction only. But if there is one thing that can be said about the Labour party it is this : that they have a programme, they have no hesitation in presenting it to the people, and there is no doubt as to the programme which they do present. Here is the objective of the Labour party -
The cultivation of an Australian sentiment, based upon the maintenance of racial purity, and the development in Australia of an enlightened and self-reliant community.
That objective has been before the people of Australia for eight years, and honorable members have only to compare our numbers in this House eight years ago with those of to-day, and they will realize the great increase that has taken place in our numbers, until we now occupy the unique position of being in an absolute majority both here and in another place. ‘
– This is the first time they have had a dose of Socialism.
– Judging by the ideas which the honorable member held some years ago, I should say that it is a dose that ought to be to his liking. I have read something of the past history of the honorable member, and I know that he has expressed himself in favour of ideals which are held by our party, and which we are trying to give legislative effect to.
– Judgingby the Commonwealth Bank and several other institutions that have been established the people iike the dose.
– Yes. There is one thing certain, and that is that the Commonwealth Bank will not be wiped out of existence. If by a mysterious combination of circumstances the Fusion party come into power that Bank will still stand. They can never go to the country and advocate its being wiped out. It is only by the States laking the matter in hand in a comprehensive way, or by adopting Socialism, if you like to put it that way, that financial schemes and banking can be properly carried on. I might direct attention to what was said by the honorable member for Mernda ‘some years ago. When that honorable member was discussing the amalgamation of two banks he said, “ What we need in this country is a big central institution that will be the bulwark for all the financial institutions in our community.” In London, only the other day, the chairman of directors of one of the chief banking institutions operating in Australia said that the Commonwealth Bank would in years to come occupy a position in Australia equal to that of the Bank of England at Home.
– Does the Bank of England compete with the Savings Banks?
– We have discussed that question. When the offer made by the Prime Minister to the State Premiers in respect of their Savings Banks was presented to the people of Australia, I have no hesitation in saying that the State Treasurers missed a golden opportunity. However, two of them, perhaps three, will come in.
– They will all come in.
– Yes, it will be forced upon them. The honorable member for Bendigo delivered a most exaggerated speech. He pictured all kinds of ills that would befall the community if we indulged in the nationalization of monopolies. One point which he and the Leader of. the Oppo sition made was that, as we had already passed measures dealing with trade and commerce and trusts and combinations, we held sufficient power to deal with these monopolies and regulate them. The honorable member for Bendigo referred to the many ways in which we were going to interfere in small matters. Anybody who has any idea of the operations of the Commonwealth Government will realize this : that municipalities have their well-defined sphere of operations; the States, too, have their well-defined area of operations, and wo are trying now to increase the area of the operations of the National Parliament. As regards those small matters which municipalities can deal with, there is no intention of interfering with them. To show conclusively that we do not intend to interfere with those matters that are now being carried outby the States I shall read sub-clause 2 of the proposed clause 51 a -
This section shall not apply to any industry or business conducted or carried on by the Government of a State or any public authority constituted under a State.
In clear and distinct language, it is proposed not to interfere where the States are carrying on certain industries, such as railways, workshops, and other Socialistic enterprises, because they really cannot be called by any other name, and a municipality which is providing light, either by electricity or by gas, or performing any other public service, will not be interfered with. The Bill in its terms is in consonance with the objective cf our party.
The honorable member for Bendigo was also very much affrighted that by the nationalization of industries we would create a. very large Public Service. He enumerated “the number of persons who were temporarily employed, and said that if various industries were also to be conducted by the Government it would mean an undue enlargement of our Public Service. If that is good logic, the honorable member should argue that we ought not to extend our educational system, because, by building schools in new localities, we must add to the number of our public servants in the shape of teachers, or, again, that we ought not to extend our railways, because the opening of a new railway must mean the extension of our Railway Service. So he might go on arguing until the thing would become practically ridiculous. A Government, whether it be a Federal or State Government, that undertakes services which have been performed by private enterprise must of necessity employ labour in order to carry on those works. And so, should both Houses of this Parliament decide by resolution that an industry is a monopoly, we shall have the right to deal with it in that particular way.
Another objection has been taken which I was about to elaborate when I was interrupted, and it is that we have no reason to pass this Bill, because we have already passed a measure asking for power to regulate monopolies. The fisherman will, I think, supply a very good illustration here. If he desires to catch a certain class of fish, the mesh of his net has to be very small. 1 am not going to regard these Bills, five of them at any rate, as nets in which’ we shall endeavour to catch those who are carrying on nefarious practices in the community ; but if the mesh of the trade and commerce net, or the combinations and trusts net, is not sufficiently close to catch all the men we desire to catch, we shall certainly catch some in the nationalizing of monopolies neb. The power to nationalize monopolies is absolutely essential if the safety of the community is to be maintained. That is one argument I put forward for passing the Bill as an extra safeguard against the people in this community being dealt with as the people of other communities have been dealt with.
The honorable member for Kooyong also had a good deal to say about the taking over of businesses, and he asked what kind of a body was Parliament to fix prices or to say whether a business was a monopoly or not. He must have known full well when he gave utterance to such a sentiment that he was dealing with the question in a very flimsy way.’ Is any Government - Labour, or Liberal, or Conservative - likely to propose the taking over of a business without making full inquiries into the conduct of that business?
– Why, he fixed the prices of harvesters.
– The honorable member for Kooyong was Minister of Trade and Customs in a Government which practically did fix prices in connexion with the harvester industry, and, wriggle as they may, they cannot get away from that fact. Any reasonable body of men will make full inquiries before they arrive at such a decision. The matter will be dealt with as a business proposition. Suppose that we have an idea, or good grounds for believing that a certain industry is a monopoly, and that it is conducted in a manner which is detrimental to the best interests of the public. Full inquiries will.be made in regard to the conduct of that business ; then, certain recommendations will be submitted, I take it, by an independent body, and as we are about to create an Inter-State Commission I can conceive of no better body to undertake that work. For the sake of argument let me put a proposal before the honorable member for Kooyong. If we had an idea, or good ground for believing that a monopoly was carrying on business in the community, an intimation could be made to the Inter-State Commission, which could make full investigation and submit a recommendation to Parliament. A recommendation, of course, would be an essential preliminary to any legislation in that regard. Therefore, all these men of straw which are being built up and so nicely knocked over by honorable members opposite, are so much dustthrowing. I am certain that the people feel the effects of the methods of conducting many businesses to-day, and that when they have an opportunity of making their position more secure they will have no hesitation in voting for this proposal above all others, lt surprises me that members of the Opposition can stand here and defend monopolies. It seems to me a very peculiar stand for them to take, and one of which. I think, the people will not be slow to disapprove. .
The honorable member for Lang has quoted from the report of the Sugar Commission. I do not intend to quote the whole paragraph again, but merely to refer to a few words -
Several reasons, in their cumulative aspect,’ convince us that, at any rate for the present, the nationalization of the refineries would be inexpedient.
It will be seen that the members of the Sugar Commission have not finally made up their minds in regard to the sugar industry, but they say that at present the nationalization of refineries would be inexpedient. I infer from that statement that if the same Commissioners had to inquire into the operations of the. Sugar Monopoly, or the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, in twelve months’ time, they might quite consistently submit a recommendation for the nationalization of theindustry. The quotation continues -
The cost of nationalizing the refining’ industry would involve an initial capital outlay of same millions by the time allowance had been made for the costs of refineries,good-will, floating capital, &c. To secure a fair interest on this capital outlay without penalizing consumers would, we believe, be difficult, if not impossible.
It appears to me that the Commission only looked at one aspect of what we call a nationalization system. It does not mean that we are going to buy up the existing businesses; that might cost too much money. We can nationalize in another way. We can start a refinery, and conduct it in opposition to that of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. A splendid illustration of the good effect of such a course is furnished by South Australia. It was reported in the press, of either this morning or yesterday evening, that a deputation from the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce waited upon Mr. Pascoe, who is Minister of Agriculture, and, I believe, a member of the Legislative Council, and desired certain alterations to be made in the conduct of the Government butter factory. The State Government have been buying the cream from the producers, manufacturing it into butter, and selling the butter locally, and, I understand, exporting it, too; practically they have been carrying on the whole of the manufacturing industry for the producers. The Chamber of Commerce were desirous of bringing about certain alterations, and, I presume, that at the back of their mind was the abolition of the State butter factory. But Mr. Pascoe very emphatically stated that the butter factory was a very good thing, indeed, in connexion with the industry, because it helped to protect the producer of cream on one side, and the buyer or consumer of butter on the other, and that he as a member of a Liberal Government, not long returned to power, did not intend to make any recommendation to the Cabinet on the lines which the deputation had suggested, but that he and the Government intended to keep the butter factory going. That is only a small illustration, but, to my mind, even a small Commonwealth sugar refinery, conducted on proper lines would keep the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in a proper relationship to the public.
The honorable member for Bendigo, referring to the brick combine of Victoria, said that it could not be a very bad thing since the State Government had consented to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into it. That appears to me to be rather strange logic. There must be some ground for complaint, otherwise the State Govern ment are placing themselves in a peculiar position by appointing a Royal Commission to inquire into the operations of the combine. We have in this State a Liberal Administration, and it appears to me that it is anxious to obtain information to prove whether or not the statements that have been made in regard to this combine are correct. I believe that the evidence will show that it is about time that the Government, or some other public body in Victoria, took in hand the manufacture of bricks. The late Sir Thomas Bent, when Premier of Victoria, acquired land on behalf of the Government and set up a brickmaking plant to carry on the industry, but did not actually commence the making of bricks, because the present manufacturers undertook to supply the State at a certain price. The State brick yards are now held by a company which has agreed to supply bricks to the State, and not to join the combine. Notwithstanding that, however, the Government evidently think that there is need for an inquiry.
Returning to the report of the Sugar Commission, I intend to quote a passage to which the honorable member for Lang did not refer. I do not say that he purposely refrained from doing so. I recognise that he was anxious, just as I am, to crowd into his speech as much information as possible within the limited time allowed by the Standing Orders. It cannot be denied that the delivery of electioneering speeches has already commenced on both sides of the House. The reports of our speeches are to be circulated throughout the country, and I presume that every honorable member is trying, to use a colloquialism, to “ get in his little bit.” The Sugar Commission, in paragraph 41 of their report, state -
We recommend that the Parliament of the Commonwealth should endeavour to acquire, by an amendment of the Constitution or otherwise, such powers as would enable Commonwealth authorities to control the prices of raw sugar and sugar-cane.
We recommend, should such powers be acquired -
that the price of raw sugar be fixed on a sliding scale by the Inter-State Commission ;
that the price of cane be fixed by a Board for each mill, consisting of a representative of the growers, a representative of the millers, and a chairman to be appointed by the InterState Commission.
In other words, the Commission, although it thinks that it would be inexpedient to recommend at the present time the nationalization of the sugar refining industry, goes so far as to suggest that in respect of two important branches of the industry, the growing of sugar cane and the production of raw sugar, prices should be fixed, lt does not think it right that the one company which has the dominating influence in the industry should be permitted to say what price shall be paid for raw sugar and sugar cane. lt practically recommends the fixing of prices.
There is one country to which we can specially look for information regarding the operations of the wealthy combines, trusts, and monopolies that are exercising so detrimental an influence upon the community. I refer to the United S.ate of America. I propose to put before the House one or two quotations from a book written by a man who belongs to the millionaire class. It is addressed by the writer to his own class, and it tells them exactly what they have done by means of combinations of capital, the formation of trusts, and by acting in a monopolistic way. The title of this book is The Passing of the Idle Rich, and the author, Mr. Frederick Townsend Martin, says at the outset -
I know society. I was born in it, and have lived in it nil my life, both here and in the capitals of Europe. I believe that I understand as well as any man what are the true traditions and the true conditions of American society ; and for comparison, I also know and understand the conditions and traditions of society in other lands.
He speaks of the first inroads made by capitalists upon industry, with a view to conducting great enterprises in a way that would be exceptionally remunerative to themselves, although hard upon the workers whom they employed and injurious to the consumers of the articles they manufactured. He speaks of the early life of these men, who came from the gold-fields of California, the forges of Pittsburg, the forests of Michigan, and the ‘ ‘ metalled mountains of Montana,” and settled in great centres of population where, engaging in manufactures, they gradually wiped out the competition of all small industries and securely established themselves. Writing of those whom they left behind at Pittsburg, Michigan, California, and Montana, he says -
It is not too much to say that they left behind them a people reduced to industrial slavery. Gone forever was the free America our fathers knew. Faded into history was the ideal of Washington and Jefferson and Lincoln.
From the year 1890 onward the progress of the United States has been the fearful march of manufacturing industry. In that year the products of industry and agricultural wealth were about equal. Ten years later the products of industry were two to one against the wealth gathered from the fields.
Side by side with this conquest of America went the growth of tenant farming, as against the old free tenure farming that had marched steadily into the farthest untitled corners of the land so long as land was free. To-day there is no free land within the borders of the nation, save for a few small tracts hardly worth mentioning. Here, as in the industries, capital did not hesitate to claim and capture all that it dared. Law after law was passed to prevent the centralization of the power of exploiters over great tracts of the West. Law after law was broken, evaded, or laughed at. Once the spirit of exploitation on a large scale was abroad in the land, nothing could stand against it.
To gain its ends, wealth crept stealthily into every seat of power. The law stood in its way : therefore, in Legislative halls and in political caucuses wealth had to have its representatives. The Legislatures, the Courts, the press - these were made pawns in the game of exploitation. Wherever possible, the army of exploiters laid profane hands even upon the trusteed funds that guard the property of the spoiled and broken, the funds of the savings banks, and of the insurance companies. Nothing was sacred; nothing was secure.
The raw material of wealth, as I have stated in a previous chapter, is the labour of men. In the days of individual effort, exploitation of labour was not possible. . . .
These quotations, and one or two others which I shall make, all deal with the subjugation of the smaller manufacturer, the squeezing o’f him out of competition, the treatment of labour, and the creation of monopolies, on lines that have led to the exploitation of the American people-
– That is what the Opposition want here.
– That is so. I make these quotations .because we are governed under a Constitution very like that of the United States of America. Unfortunately our Constitution has been too much Americanized, with the result that we are suffering. Yet because, by means of these proposals, we are trying to free the people of Australia from the shackles with which they are bound, we are denounced by the Opposition. Mr. Martin goes on to say -
Yet, I confess, the terrific sweep of industrialism across this land throughout the past century appals me as I study it from records written and unwritten. I cannot go down through the crowded tenement sections of our great cities without having it borne in upon me that we as a nation pay a fearful price in human blood and tears for our industrial triumphs.
He is speaking of the triumphs of the combines and of the wealthy men of America. He says, again -
I cannot see the poverty, even the degradation, of the wives and children of the wage-working class in many cities, and even in many rural districts, without being visited by the devastating thought that surely, if the principle crf the thing be necessary and’ right, there must be fearful errors somewhere in the application of the principle.
– Is it a millionaire who writes this?
– Yes. The title of the book itself is very significant - The Passing of the Hie Rich; and I am glad to see that there is a rich man in America, living in the centre of the great trusts, who is awake to the fact that the day is coming when the idle rich will pass out of existence. Again, he says -
I turn with something like dismay from a sketch of the methods of the culture of this growth. For it is watered with the bloody sweat of labour and the salt tears of bitter poverty and suffering ; and it is fertilized with the dead bodies of men and women outworn in the grim battle of life. Tended and watched it is by a foul horde” of underlings, hired judges of the law, panders in politics, prostitutes in the pulpit, lickspittles in college chancelleries, J uri uses in the press, blackmailers in business^ and miserable time-serving parasites clinging like filthy leaches upon the administrative bodies of the nation.
That is strong language from a millionaire.
To’ my mind, as I have studied this question, there has come a sad conviction : This nation is betrayed. The planting of the seed of our industrial system, whose fine flower has been reached in our class of idle rich, was quite possible without any betrayal of the people. Even its growth for two decades was possible without a conscious effort on the part of the keepers of the public citadels to throw open the doors to a public enemy. May a thinking man dare to say that the growth of’ this system since I 800 could have been possible without criminal negligence on the part of those public servants sworn to guard the true and lawful interests of the people of this nation.
That is an awful indictment of those who’ have had the administration of the affairs of- America.
– Is he speaking of the civil servants?
– Of them, and others. He is speaking of the conduct of government in America, and how it has fallen under the spell of those who have command of the almighty dollar. Responsible persons have been bought, and because of that have allowed these evils to fasten themselves upon the nation.
– The author does not say that; that is the honorable member’s interpretation.
– I advise the honorable member, and all those associated with himto read this book from cover to cover. If, after doing so, he can oppose these referenda proposals, he is not a man of the stamp of character that I have always taken him to be. Again, the writer says -
It matters not one iota what political party is in power, or what president holds the reins of office. We are not politicians or public thinkers ; we are the rich ; we own America ; we got it, God knows how ; but we intend to keep it if we can by throwing all the tremendous weight of our support, our influence, our money, our political connexion, our purchased senators, our hungry congressmen, and our public-speaking demagogues, into the scale against any legislation, any political platform, any presidentiacampaign, that threatens the integrity of our estate.
– Does the honorable member. believe all that?
– I thoroughly believe that this man is speaking the truth.
– Then Democracy can be bought and debauched.
– This, at any rate, is what a millionaire says. I am proving my case from the other side. He proceeds -
I have said that the class I represent cares nothing for politics. In a single season a plutocratic leader hurled his influence and his money into the scale to elect a Republican Governor on the Pacific Coast and a Democratic Governor on the Atlantic. The same moneyed interest that he represented has held undisputed sway through many administrations, Republican and Democratic, in a State in which it had large railroad interests.
Thank God the people of America are waking up ! The author proceeds -
It is a call for a leader to freedom - the freedom we bought with our blood and signed away in innocence. I care not where you turn, the voices of the people crying for their rights rise stronger, fuller, more threatening year by year. Day by day they organize. A meeting of farmers at St. Louis files formal protest against the profits of the middleman, and forms a committee to investigate and report, and puts together a league of a reform. A machine-made politician in New York, in Massachusetts, in Pennsylvania is crushed by the votes of the people he fondly had dreamed he owned. A firmly entrenched public officer is branded a liar and a thief, no matter what committees may whitewash him. A public document, published to clear the skirts of a ruling party of the charge of being in part responsible for the rising prices is “ laughed out of Court by the people themselves. A daring and preposterous attempt on the part of organized railroad owners to advance rates to the general public, while holding them down for the “ bi? interests,” is met by a storm of organized protest. Cham- bers of Commerce, industrial clubs, manufacturers’ guilds, consumers’ leagues, spring up all over Hie country, expostulating, pleading, threatening, hurling legal thunderbolts.
I have one more quotation to make. It is equally emphatic wim those I have already made. It proves conclusively, at any rate, that one man who is living in the thick of this business in America is awakening to a true sense of his duty as a citizen. He warned his own class that they are travelling on a path which will lead to their downfall, because, as he says, the citizens of America are now alive to the real danger. He says, with regard to future operations -
Let any man discover in the mountains of Mexico, in the forbidding ridges of Alaska, or on the plains of the Yukon, great new deposits of iron, or coal, or oil, and immediately, almost before the news of such discovery has reached the world at large, a dozen secret agents rush to investigate. They represent the Piersons, of London ; the Guggenheims, or Morgans, of New York; the Rockefellers, or the Rothschilds, of New York or Germany. They are the first in the field. They pre-empt for fortunes already far beyond competition, the opportunity of makin;; a tremendous fortune out of the new discovery. Think of the raw materials of commerce - sugar, meat, oil, iron, coal, copper, cotton, wheat, corn, lumber - is it not absolutely true that in the manufacture and exploitation of this tremendous mass of the raw material of wealth the possibility of amassing; enormous fortunes is almost hopelessly limited bv the activities and the world-girdling power of capitalistic groups already far beyond the reach of competition? The free land of America is gone. All those great staples that have been in generations past the vehicles in which men have been carried upon the road to lordly fortunes are already in the hands of a few hundred families. . This fact, sinister as it undoubtedly is in the broader economic conditions of the country, must certainly tend tn eliminate more and more the possibility for the creation of additional gigantic industrial fortunes in this country. In so far as this is true, it is a very important item indeed among the forces that tend towards the elimination of the idle rich.
This man, who is speaking to his own class, tells the truth in such a way that his book must have a powerful effect upon American opinion. I have no doubt that it will bring about a g:eat change in the affairs of that country. For my own part, I want to stand in such a position, representing not only my own constituency, but, in a lesser way, the people of Australia, that I may do my utmost to prevent such a state of affairs arising in this country. Therefore my voice and vote, both here and in -the country, will be used in an endeavour to -vest the Commonwealth with power to deal with these iniquitous combines, trusts, and ^monopolies.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That Lord Islington, ex-Governor of New
Zealand, be provided with a seat on the floor of the House.
– We have just listened to a most moving speech by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, in which he cited the statements of some American millionaires as to enormities which are taking place in that country under the existing condition of things. I am not going to deny anything which is contained in the book from which he quoted. I do not know whether the facts, as he has quoted them, are correct or not, nor do I think it matters very much. The author of that book has made plenty of money out of the toil of other people, and I was waiting to hear the honorable member quote some passage which would evidence remorse on the part of this man, but I did not hear a sentence which indicated that he entertains the slightest remorse, or that he has made any restitution for all the tears and blood that he has wrung from the American poor. Not one word has been forthcoming to show his sincerity. There is only one test of the sincerity of a man like that - he should tell us whether he is giving back the money which he has wrung so foully from these men and women, whom he has so eloquently and tragically described. All (his rhodomontade which the honorable member has read will not assist us to solve the problem with which we are faced. Let us admit that things are bad in America. I am not here to defend the trusts of that country or the trusts of Australia. But the honorable member will find that, before very long, the trusts of America will have to be dealt with by means of the Tariff. Congress there has nursed them to their present abnormalities and enormities.
– Is the . honorable member a. Free Trader?
– That is not Free Trade or Protection, but common sense. Does not the honorable member know that more than one Protectionist nation has already begun to do that? Does he not know that, some years ago, Canada reduced certain duties very considerably because it was found that one trust was getting a monopoly, and that those duties nave not been raised since?
– Does not the honorable member know that the biggest trusts are those which are not protected?
– I do not know anything of the kind.
– What about the Beef Trust? Is there any Protection on beef?
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs cease his catechism for a moment? I have only an hour in which to express my views. Before to-day this Parliament has entertained the same notion. Even the late Mr. Kingston, who cannot be accused of having had Free Trade proclivities, submitted a proposal with the same object in view. When it was withdrawn owing to its being unconstitutional, he declared his intention of again bringing the proposal forward, as he regarded it as providing the only means by which Protectionist monopolies could be held in check. Therefore, what the honorable member for Maribyrnong has quoted has no point in this debate. He has referred to a set of enormities and abnormalities which I hope will never find lodgment in Australia. I trust that we shall all strive to devise some means of preventing such an awful condition of things being established here. But will the mere quotation of harrowing passages, which burden the souls of those who listen to them, help us to solve the problem with which we are confronted? They point out not one direction in which anything of the kind may be avoided. The author whom the honorable member quoted was addressing a few comillionaires in America upon the passing of the idle rich. But what remedy does he suggest? Does he suggest the nationalization of the trusts, does he suggest that they should be made to disgorge - that justice should be clone to the dispossessed, or that restitution should be made to the widows and orphans? Not one word does ho utter in that direction.
– Let the honorable member read the bock himself. I recommend it to him.
– If it is to be judged by the passages which the honorable member has quoted, I think that the book is exaggerated and tremendously overdrawn.
This Bill represents the last of the proposals of the Government which will be submitted tor the consideration of the country in the early future. We had better regard this practical proposition in the light of our own local circumstances, and pay a little less heed to the moving and eloquent appeals of the millionaires of America, who, having made money to satiety, now think that they may gain a little notoriety by denouncing the very methods which they themselves employed. Let us leave them to their millions, to their regrets, and to their remorse. We have practical work to do, and that sort of sentimental writing will not help us very much. The proposal embodied in this Bill is that, upon a resolution of both Houses of this Parliament, the Commonwealth may take over, on just terms, and control and operate, any monopoly. In other words, the Government propose to set entirely on one side all the learning, law, and experience of the High Court. The Attorney-General says, in effect, “ This Parliament, on my initiative, may declare that any business is a monopoly, and a monopoly thereafter it shall be.” In other words, this Parliament, by a resolution of both Houses, is to do what all the judicial experience of the world has so far found a supreme difficulty in doing. Is this Parliament wiser than are the Judges on the Bench? Does it possess more experience than the learned and trained jurists of the world? Are we as likely, torn and divided as we are by party passions, prejudices, and predelictions, to arrive at the true condition of affairs, as are the Judges sitting detached and apart from it all? Which of the two tribunals would honorable members rather trust in dealing with any other matter - a party of men engaged in a political propaganda, or a party of Judges, whose trained experience and judicial temper peculiarly qualify them to interpret the conditions of any business, and to arrive at the facts concerning it ?
– Does the honorable gentleman say that there will be no inquirypreceding our decision?
– T do not say that there will be no inquiry. I should think that in all probability there will be an inquiry, but who will make that inquiry ?
– The Inter-State Commission, for instance.
– No; it will be made by a body composed mainly of the dominant political section of this House, as in the case of the Sugar Commission. Was that inquiry a fair inquiry? The honorable member for Maribyrnong thinks that it was. We, on the other hand, think that the Sugar Commission was not constituted as fairly as it might have been. They have done their work, and it does not now appear to satisfy honorable members opposite. I wish to say that an inquiry by untrained and inexperienced men will not bring us any nearer to a decision as to what is a true monopoly, and such a monopoly as interferes unduly with the private affairs of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
The great issue to be raised at the coming elections is to be this : Whereas the Opposition will contend that the State may very properly use all its powers, resources, and influence to control and regulate, and keep within proper metes and bounds the wealthy industrial enterprises of Australia, our honorable friends opposite will urge that they cannot be controlled by regulations, and must therefore be nationalized. They aim at the dispossession of the individuals who control these huge enterprises, and the placing of those enterprises under the control of the State. What are the motives which urge honorable members opposite to this course? I should like to say here that it is quite in accord with the programme of the party as decided at the recent Hobart conference* There the Prime Minister himself, instructed by the Maryborough section of his constituents, moved the following motion : -
That there be one uniform objective for Commonwealth and State, and that to be the Queensland Labour Party’s objective.
What was the Queensland Labour party’s objective, the adoption of which the Prime Minister moved ? It was this -
The securing of the full results of their industry to all wealth producers by the collective .” ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, to be attained through the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State, and local governing bodies.
That is pure straightout Socialism. That was the objective ‘which Queensland members of the Labour party, through the mouth of the Prime Minister, wished to have substituted for the objective at present put forward by the party.
– How did the vote go?
– I am going to tell the honorable member why the proposal was turned down. The critics mainly were Mr. Watson, Mr. Griffiths, and others. Here is Mr. Watson’s criticism. He said -
The Federal objective asked for “ the extension of the industrial economic functions of the State and municipality.” There was no limit to that sphere of activity.
Therefore, be contended that it was of no use to adopt the Queensland objective, because it brought the party no nearer to what they desired. As a working proposition, he contended that “the present objective was all that they required, and was as thoroughly radical and Socialistic as the objective suggested from Queensland. Later on, Mr. Griffith appeared on the scene, and he said -
He did not agree with the previous speaker. The objective, providing as it did for-the “extension of the industrial economic functions of the State and municipality “ covered everything from flying machines to brickmaking. He was a Socialist, and the Labour movement was a socialistic one.
Mr. Watson. Hear, Hear. We frankly accepted that years ago.
Mr. GRIFFITH. We did so, and have been attacked by the Sydney press because they said the movement was socialistic. He had a paternal interest in this objective, having been present when it was framed, and he felt, with Mr. Watson, that there was everything in it that a progressive Socialist would require.
I think this is the first step in the working out of that objective to which my honorable friends opposite are pledged, and which they have declared, through their leaders, to involve all the Socialism necessary to help them later to nationalize all the means of production, distribution, and exchange. I can, therefore, on the score of consistency, offer no objection to the’ attitude of honorable members opposite in seeking for an amendment of the Constitution to give effect to this proposition here and now.
What are the reasons urged on their part which seem to make this a. necessity? In the first place, they say that they want this power to remove injustice and to insure fair conditions for all concerned, including tire public, the wage-earners, and the Government. Are they going to secure it? I do not need to go to America or to any country in which there is Socialism in operation at all. I want to stop at home for a moment and see how the Socialism’ we have is working out. We have heard a’ good deal about the Post Office in this debate. Last night, the honorable member for New
England reminded us that the Post Office is run for the benefit of the public, and he held it up as an example of successful Socialism. Is it really so? Does the Post Office, or any other Government institution which we are running at the present time, furnish a reason why we should proceed further to nationalize the industrial enterprises of the country? I find, to begin with, that in the Post and Telegraph Department the average wage is about £125 a year. Is there anything idealistic in that? Is that a handsome wage?
– Is that for adults?
– That is the average wage throughout the Department.
– Including the wages of telegraph messengers ?
– Including every one engaged from the top to the bottom of the Department. Further, I say that during the last two years, in the Sydney General’ Post Office, at any rate, overtime has been worked unceasingly, and Avithout payment for it, unless it has been made in the last week or so. There has been more overtime worked in our Socialistic institution, the Sydney General Post Office, than anywhere else in Australia. I make that statement without the slightest hesitation. So we have it that the average wage is £125 or, it may be, £127.
– It is£126.
– And overtime, for the most part, has not been paid for, while the loss on the Post Office this year is 37½percent.
– The average wage throughout Australia is only £83, so that the wage in the Post Office may be regarded as 50 per cent,better than that.
– I very much doubt that.
– It is so stated in Knibbs.
– I have not time to quibble about these points ; I am talking about the Post Office. But even if£83 is the average wage for Australia, and there is a better condition of affairs in the Post Office, is that all that honorable members opposite have in their minds when they talk about Socializing all enterprise’s? Is their only ideal £126 a year?
– I remind honorable members opposite that the latest German Socialist writers are frankly telling the people of Germany that there can be no substantial increasein wages under Socialism.
– The figures in Knibbs do not take into account the professional and higher paid officials ; they include the office boys but leave out the general manager, and the comparison is not a fair one.
– All our experience here indicates that it will be impossible for every man to get the wage that my honorable friends opposite have many times led us to expect.
Mr. Knibbs has furnished us with a very interesting set of figures lately, showing the wealth production of this country, and what would be the result if it were divided amongst all classes of the community. Why Mr. Knibbs should be instructed to make out a table of that kind I cannot imagine, but he shows that, if the wealth were equally divided, it would mean about £16 10s. each over a minimum of£200 per annum. It will be seen that even in Australia there is not that enormous wealth production which would make every man a millionaire if it were equally divided, nor would it very materially increase the wages or improve the conditions enjoyed to-day. I am glad that these inquiries are being made since the Labour party took office, because the information will show the people outside that my friends opposite have not the elysium to take them to that they picture, but only the same hard, grasping, poverty-stricken world, taking it by and large, from which they are led to hope for escape whenever Socialism is realized.
– The inquiries will show us the people who can stand taxation.
– That may be; but Mr. Knibbs shows that, if all the large owners were taxed out of their wealth, there would be not very much per head if it were divided. The Post Office is anything but an example of successful Socialism. Thisyear, according to the Estimates, the private enterprise of this country will have to subsidize the Post Office to the extent of £3710s every £100 of its income.
– We might increase the postage on newspapers.
– I am talking of the facts as they are; and honorable members opposite are always pointing to thePost Office as a Socialistic enterprise to be emulated.
– Should we hand the Post Office back to private enterprise? .
– I have answered that question a score of times, and again I have to say “ No.” The Post Office is in the nature of a monopoly, and ought to be operated by the State. Honorable members opposite are always pointing to this or that State institution as a marvellous example of Socialism ; but if all the privateenterprises of the country were conducted by the State, with precisely the same financial results, the country would be bankrupt in a year. Even with all the saving of money which ought to have been spent on the Post Office, we find that in eleven years the Department is in debit to the tune of 624,000 ; and if private enterprises are to be taken over and conducted in the same way, the nation will be bankrupt before it begins its career of Socialism. I have nothing to say against State Socialism as exemplified in the Post Office. We have to carry the Department along because it is in the nature of a monopoly and because we can make use of it, and similar instruments, in a collateral way for the benefit of the people. We must remember, however, that this can only be done because the Post Office is subsidized by private enterprise - a fact that honorable members opposite always gloss over.
– We might charge more for the services rendered.
– - Every man, woman, and child will have to contribute about 9s. each to make up the deficiency on the Post Office alone; in other words, 35s. per family will have to be paid at the end of the year. This is a fact that honorable members opposite might recollect when they talk of the benefits of penny postage, which, to a working man, means considerably less than 35s. a year.
– The honorable member was favorable to penny postage.
– I am in favour of penny postage now, but I am not whooping about it as a financial success, and urging that other undertakings of an industrial character should be carried on by the Commonwealth. The other industries of the country have to pay in order to keep this Government industry going.
– According to the honorable member, the Post Office subsidizes private enterprise with penny postage.
– If so, the Post Office gets the money back again.
– Surely the honorable member does not propose that “the Post Office shall be made to pay ?
– I am merely stating facts in reply to the argument that ire ought to do with trusts what we have done with the Post Office, pointing out that if this be done on the same financial lines there is nothing but national bankruptcy staring us in the face. Are the employes of the Post Office so well off, after all ? 1’ believe there is discontent, with some fighting and squabbling. It would seem that there is as much dissatisfaction inside the Public Service as outside. Many of the men employed by the Commonwealth, in all Departments, think that they are not getting just remuneration for the work they do; and human nature inside Government institutions works in exactly the same way as outside in industrial enterprises carried on by’ private individuals. Who has not had public servants complaining to him of the injustice and hardship inflicted by the authority of the Government itself? Only last week I was talking to a postal employe, who, without any reason being given, has been ordered to take up a position 300 miles away from his home.
– Somebody lias to fill those positions.
– Of course, the man has to go.
Silting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I have pointed out that the Post Office has paid its waythis year, because private enterprise has subsidized this Socialistic institution to the amount of ,£37 10s. on every £100 required to square the ledger. I do not deny that there are other advantages; but were the industries of the country run on the same financial basis as the Government enterprises, we should be bankrupt within a very short time.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong says that one of the reasons why this power is needed is to give us control of the railways, so that we may put an end to the scandalous sweating in Victoria. To-day, he has spoken of the admirable Newport workshops, but the other day he said that there was more sweating in the Victorian Railway Department than anywhere else in the State. There have been strikes, threats of strikes, and requests for Wages Boards to adjust differences, so that the lot of the railway employe’ under Government control in Victoria would seem anything but ideal. What is the cause of this trouble? It 5? the same cause that brings trouble in private employment. Human nature is the same everywhere, hence we have discontent and a sense of injustice. One man is preferred before, or promoted over, the head of another, who thinks that he should be getting as much or more wages. Among the measures yet to be dealt with this session is a Bill to help to cure the discontent which exists in the Commonwealth Public Service, notwithstanding two and a half years of Labour administration. Apparently, our public servants do not trust this Government, or the Public Service Commissioner, who has no motive in the world but to give them justice ; they must have a Judge to deal with their complaints. What does one find in the Northern Territory? There we are ,£500,000 on the wrong side of the ledger, and after two years of Labour administration the debit does not seem to be diminishing. The other day we had a fine splash at Port Augusta ; a railway being Begun, although we had not a rail to lay down, and had not conserved a drop of water in that dry district. According to the present Minister, inferior powellised sleepers are to be used on that line, yet he tells us that “he is competent to run the world, and that it would pay this country to give him . £1 .000,000 a year to run its Departments. Further, we have the statements concerning “ the man on the job.” Everywhere I find the Public Service as discontented as private employes, and I see no prospect of getting the working man to heaven by means of any of the Socialistic processes that are advocated. The supposition underlying the proposals which have been put before us seems to be that the State is a perfect, omnipresent, omniscient instrumentality which can dispense justice to its employe’s more perfectly than any other. But, as I have already said, Government^ schemes have to be run with human ability, skill, and ambition. To-day, Government control means control by the Government of the dominant party in the State, and in Australia it is the Caucus which controls the Government, with the result that allegations of, jobbery, favoritism, preference, and privilege are abroad, as they have not been before for many years. Has Socialism ever succeeded in any part of the world? The other day, the honorable member for Melbourne referred to the Socialism of Japan. He told us that the Japanese Government have a monopoly of tobacco manufacturing and match making, but gave his case away by saying that it imposed duties amounting to 250 per cent, to protect these industries, and this notwithstanding the fact that the workmen receive only is. a day. Is that the perfect example of Socialism which we should follow? Would the honorable member set up a monopoly of that kind here? 1 shall not say whether the tobacco pf France is good or bad, but it is certainly no better than that made by private firms, and it is alleged that the wages paid by the Government to its employes are not any higher than those paid by private firms. What a picture we had of successful Socialism in the New Australia movement. Let me quote some passages from the latest book on the subject, Stewart Grahame’s Where Socialism Failed. Speaking of one of the settlements, he said -
A blight seemed to descend upon everything managed by the community, and the children proved no exception to the rule. Deliberately cut off from the softening influences of religion, and brought up to ignore all distinctions of age or sex, it was natural for them to seek always their own pleasure and ride rough-shod over the old and infirm. Untaught and unrestrained, the neglected children seemed doomed to suffer all their lives for the follies of their parents. This was, perhaps, the saddest aspect of the New Australia fiasco.
As soon as the resolution abolishing Socialism was carried, Frederick Kidd, under whose sane and practical administration the change was brought about, get off to Asuncion to interview the Government, whom he found sympathetically disposed and prepared to do all in their power to assist the colonists. Withdrawing the original grant of territory, the President confirmed them in possession of twenty-five square miles, on which they were actually settled, and approved a scheme whereby every man was entitled to select for himself an allotment of sixty squares of agricultural ground, for which he would be given title deeds, when he had built a house and complied with the usual conditions. The right of grazing over the grass lands was reserved in common for all, so that it was possible for every individual colonist to become a big cattle farmer if he could find the necessary capital. This fact created fresh ambition in the heart of every family, and there was a general exodus of able-bodied men to the railway works at Sapucay, to Asuncion, Rosario, or Buenos Aires - anywhere where good wages could be earned by a man willing to work his fingers to the bone. . . .
One and all found salvation in the “ iron law of wages,” and discovered for themselves that capital is the indispensable ally and friend, and not the enemy of labour. The legitimate ambition of each one was to become himself a capitalist, for “ Capital is the result of labour and abstinence.”
There is a sentence in Levy’s Outcome of Individualism, which well sums up the conditions at New Australia : A brief but brilliant span of existence may be attained by a socialistic State living on the capital of its predecessors; but it soon runs through this capital, and goes out like a spent squib, and leaves a nasty smell. The “ nasty smell “ at New Australia took the form of rancour and bitterness of spirit, so that many families were not on speaking terms with their nearest neighbour - not that any one had time it inclination in those terrible days for sociabilities.
Then as to the Cosme experiment -
Eventually, as at New Australia, the Government stepped in, withdrew the original grant, «nd divided the Cosme settlement up, on the usual colonization terms, each family being allotted so much agricultural and so much grazing land. “ The Cosme Colony has now definitely thrown its dreams overboard,” wrote a correspondent to an Australian journal. “ For several years before it abandoned the original principles it was an open secret (scarcely even concealed by the interested parties) that the few remaining members were held together only by the expectation of the final break up, when the property would be divided, and the fewer that remained the greater individual share would accrue to each.” Thus, after wasting the best part of their lives in hopeless experiments, the Cosmans were given a new lease of life and they, too, began to make some progress towards prosperity.
Yet one of the most sane and intelligent of Australian leaders at the time, Mr. William Lane, was the head of the New Australia movement. Has Socialism succeeded in Australia under the regime of the Labour party? In New South Wales, Mr. Griffith has started State brickworks, but what improvement has lie effected in the price of bricks?
– Bricks are only half the price that they were.
– Nonsense ! I was speaking the other day to the manager of a brick company, who told me that fuel alone was costing private manufacturers as much as the estimated total cost for Mr. Griffith’s bricks when they were made. It was impossible, he said, for Mr. Griffith to make bricks for anything like the price that he charged for them. Mr. Griffith, as a Minister of the Crown, is making bricks for the Government, who can afford to pay the full price for them. The man outside who desires to build a house cannot obtain a brick from the State brickyard. He must pay the full price to private enterprise. There is, therefore, no help coming from that quarter.
– There will be.
– We know all about the “ will be.” Lots of things were to be done, we were told, before the last general election, but none of those promises has been realized.
I have not time to refer in detail to the Commonwealth Bank, about which so much was said this morning, but the latest information in regard to it is that the little money that has been deposited with it is being lent by Mr. Miller to the private banks to strengthen them still further, and to enable them to continue to bleed the people, as we are told by honorable members opposite they do. The extinction of the private banks prognosticated seems to be further off than ever.
– Do not forget that he is lending the money, not to local banks, but to English banks carrying on business here.
– He is lending money to private banking companies, and so making their position stronger. By means of money deposited with the Government Savings Bank, he is helping them to “ bleed “ the people more.
I would also remind honorable members “ of the little incident connected with the Government works at Yanco. One would have thought that if there was a place on this earth where an experiment could be made it was there. Mr. Griffith proposed to set up a Socialistic store at Yanco, but, after careful investigation, came to the conclusion that he had better not do so. And why? “ I should have to give the men credit,” he said. That is exactly what every private storekeeper has to do. “ And then,” says he, “they would not pay me as they would pay a private individual, and so there would be wigs on the green, and we had better, as a Government, keep out of the business.” If he dared not run a little Government store on Government works, what chance have we of so nationalizing these services on any large scale as to make an impression on the private enterprises of Australia? The more I see of Government Socialistic enterprises, the more they seem to me to be like the proverbial bunch of carrots. There is nothing in them. While Mr. Griffith has spent £200,000 on his little Socialistic experiments in New South Wales, the private enterprise of that State has expended a couple of millions more in putting down plant. In other words, while he has spent ,£200,000 in trying to catch up to them, they have spent £2,000,000 in getting further away from him. How long will it take him, by means of his trumpery experiments, to overtake or to make any impression whatever on the private enterprises of the country?
Then we have cur Commonwealth factories, concerning whose operations no balance-sheet is published, so that we do not know whether they are supplying clothing and other materials at prices below those at which private enterprise could supply them to the Government.
The point is that, up to date, there is not one Socialistic experiment that can be proved to be a success. What method are the Government going to adopt in this process of nationalization ? We are told that property is to be taken over “ on just terms.” Nothing could be mere vague.
– The words “on just terms “ were inserted at the instance of the honorable member for Flinders.
– What do they mean, and what does the word “ property “ mean? The lawyers hold that “property” used in a business does not include the good- will of a business; so that there is no provision in this Bill for taking over the good-will of a business on just terms.
– The lawyers can always split straws.
– Is it “splitting straws “ to say that, in the final adjustment of a bargain between the Government and private enterprise outside, skill, and all those things that go to make up a successful business, should be taken into account,?. It is the very essence of justice, it seems to me, that all those things should be fully and fairly accounted for. I am glad that there are going to be investigations, for the more these matters are investigated in Australia the less encouragement the Labour party seem to get for their proposals. They have had all sorts of inquiries by their own appointees - by men of their own political faith - and those men have ruled these schemes outside the pale of practical politics. They say that they are undertakings which the Government should eschew, and not embrace. It is worth while placing on record statements made in this regard by the Sugar Commission.
– Especially after the honorable member’s remarks regarding the personnel of the Commission.
– Yes. I have here the opinions which the Government’s own appointees - men of their own political faith - express, ,and which should deter the Ministry from nationalizing the sugar refineries. I should mention, by the way. that the nationalization of sugar refineries was placed on the programme of the Labour party at the Hobart Conference. The Government have had an inquiry by these gentlemen of their own political faith, and they are against the nationalization of the refineries.
– Inquiries do not bind me.
– Then of what value was the argument put forward this morning by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, that there would be an inquiry into all these matters before action was taken ?
– We shall inquire when we get full power to make our inquiries effective. We do not want a bogus inquiry.
– Was the inquiry into the sugar industry a bogus one?.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we have spent to no purpose £7,000 or ,£8, 000 upon an inquiry conducted by men of the Government’s own political faith ?
– I mean that it was a bogus inquiry in the sense that the Commission had no power to obtain al 1 the evidence it required.
– The Sugar Commission reported under die heading of “ The efficiency of the refining industry as it is at present carried on “ -
We do not think that the public ownership of the refineries would prove as financially successful as the present private ownership.
Then, under the heading of “ Costs to the Treasury,” it reported -
To secure a fair interest on this capital outlay without penalizing consumers would, we believe, be difficult, if not impossible. . . In the general result we cannot avoid the conclusion that the Commonwealth Treasury would be involved in heavy financial loss unless it were prepared to make higher demands on the consumer than is necessary under a system of private-owned industry subject to appropriate regulation.
In other words, the Commission reported that the Government could not make the industry pay without increasing the price of sugar to the consumer.
Honorable members opposite have said again and again that the consumers of sugar are fleeced.
– So they are, and the honorable member knows it.
– The champions of the Labour party say in their report that the Government could not make the sugar refining industry pay unless they put up the price of sugar, and fleeced the public still more. ‘ They proceed to refer to the speculative character of the sugar refining industry. Certain processes are being developed that may lead to the scrapping of the present machinery, and the» Commission think it would be better for the Government to leave these speculative undertakings to the private enterprise of Australia. “ Regulation, control, and justice to all engaged in the industry,” they say, “but nationalization - no.” So much for sugar.
As 10 coal, I have only to remind the House that the Government themselves instructed Mr. B. R. Wise, in the recent prosecution, to say that there was no desire to touch the Vend, so far as the putting of the coal into the trucks at Newcastle is concerned.
– Who told the honorable member that? Mr. Wise said that he was making that statement on his own volition. He was not instructed to make it.
– I only know that Mr. Wise was instructed to make the statement, and he could have been instructed only by the Attorney-General or the Crown Solicitor. In discussing this matter there is no occasion to go abroad for illustrations, or to read extracts from books. We have abundant material immediately before us, and it all tells us, as unmistakably as facts can speak to sane men, that nationalization is financially unprofitable and unwise. Regulation and control are all that is needed in Australia to secure justice to all concerned.
The trouble is that trusts, like individuals, are governed in many cases by directors and managers who are unscrupulous. That is the testimony we get from America and many ether quarters. Directorial unscrupulousness is the problem that we have to face, and that, at bottom, is a moral and not a political problem. The point is that trusts do not do what they ought to do. They do not always act wisely, or deal out justice to all concerned. We are told that in some cases the public are fleeced by them; that they indulge in sweating, and that they drive the small man out of all industries. That was a statement made this morning by the honorable member for Maribyrnong. These trusts, being unregulated, are, in fact, like the deadly upas tree wherever they grow and flourish. We may admit that to the full. But are trusts singular in that respect? Is everything perfect within the pale of the Government? Do not Governments occasionally indulge in sweating? Is that not the trouble just now in the Postal Department, and in connexion with the Victorian railways? The honorable member for Maribyrnong says “Yes,” and so we find that all the traits that characterize trusts characterize also Government control ; so says the honorable member for Maribyrnong. Mr. Griffiths’ difficulty just now is that he has had to discharge some 2,000 or 3,000 men because he finds that he has not the purse of Fortunatus out of which to pay their wages. The money lender has buttoned up his pocket for t£ie time being. These trusts, it seems to me, shortly put, mirror the prevailing moral standards of the community. At bottom, the problem is not one to be met by means of machinery. That idea is altogether too cold and mechanical ; but trusts can be dealt with in many ways. First of all, we should hunt them out whenever we find them acting in restraint of trade or doing anything to the detriment of the public. A keen, alert, watchful Government should always lie looking for those acts of depredation, should always be guarding the public against the greed, the avarice, and the machinations of these private individuals whom human nature works in these malign and underhand ways. We might have a keener inspection of these trusts; I do not see why we should not, if necessary, have more frequent statutory reports from them as to the condition of their affairs; and I do not see why we should not, if necessary, have a Government audit of many of them - a capable, detached, and impartial audit - so that the public may see what is taking place in connexion with these large industrial enterprises. Above all, we must find some way in our Statutes to sheet home personal responsibility for the wrong-doing of these trusts. The moment we do that” we shall be able to sheet home wrong-doing to the individual, and make it not worth his while to do wrong.
But I come back to the point of view from which I set out.
– Does the honorable member mind coming back to the statement that he made in regard to Mr. B. R. Wise? The Attorney-General point blank contradicts it.
- Mr. Wise says that he was instructed. That is upon record. It is simply alleged that the AttorneyGeneral was responsible for Mr. Wise’s opening statement, and for leading the
Court to avoid inquiry into that particular part of the Coal Vend’s arrangement.
Experience is the test of all truth, and experience shows that we have not yet a successful example of State Socialism anywhere in the world. By that I mean that we have not an instance which will fit our Australian conditions. The Japanese experiment is good enough in its way, I suppose, and we might imitate it if we wished our men to work for a shilling a day behind a 250 per cent. Tariff. The tobacco industry of France is good enough in its way. But will that fit the conditions which obtain in Australia? We must look for experiments which have been worked out on the plane of civilization that we are following - on the plane of industrialism that we have fixed for ourselves by Statute law. No other experiments will be a guide to us; no other experiments are conclusive so far as this argument goes. It does seem to me that the tendency of the times is well summed up in the following extract by an American writer -
We will make a sky-reaching, an all-powerful law. We will all work for the Government, and the Government shall feed us all. This is the plan of the Nationalist. It is the loftiest structure of its kind that man ever sought to rear; for Socialism seeks to outwit mother nature herself and to legislate the law of nature off the face of the earth. It is the modern tower of Babel. But it is not to be built of bricks, but of men; and the mortar of legislation never can make a man stay put. Legislation is invoked to cure all the ills that flesh is heir to. Is there injustice? Let us make a law against it. Is there too much competition - make a law to put it down? Is the millennium slow in coming - invoke the law?
– Who wrote that?
– An AmericanMr. Henry James. But I come back to this point : that we have not any experience on which we ought to base these tremendous and far-reaching social experiments, even under our Democracy in Australia. Experiment is the test of all truth, and experiment shows the uniform failure of Socialism upon any large and national scale. Experience proves the truth of the following proposition -
That the condition of civilization or barbarism among nations is in proportion to the security and inviolability of private property. The certainty that a man can enjoy the fruits of his toil is the great stimulus to production, enterprise, and prosperity with the individual and with the nation.
– It is not often that I engage the attention of honorable members, and on this occasion I shall be as brief as possible. I regard the pro posal which is embodied in this Bill as one of transcendent importance. It does seem peculiar that the Opposition should oppose Commonwealth control of monopolies on the ground that the Government propose to nationalize them, and that they should oppose the nationalization of those monopolies on the ground that the Commonwealth can control them: So that, whether we propose to control or nationalize them, they raise an objection. They have raised bogies in regard to monopolies. They have urged that this Parliament will have power to define what is a monopoly, and that the High Court will be vested with a similar power. But it seems to me, as a layman, that the High Court will deal with the question of the control of monopolies, while this Parliament will deal with the question of their nationalization. Each authority will be sovereign within its own ambit, and each will determine what is a monopoly for the purpose which it has in hand. The honorable member for Parramatta has quoted a number of isolated instances of the failure of Socialistic enterprises - such, for example, as the failure of the New Australia scheme. What does it matter if there have been failures? How do they point a moral or adorn a tale? Why, the whole path of progress is strewn with failures. If the circumstance that efforts on the part of the public to control public utilities have failed is to constitute a condemnation of public ownership, how much more ought the failures of private enterprise - the failures of private corporations and banks, which have spread destruction over a wide area - to constitute a condemnation of the system of capitalism which surrounds us ? One cannot pick up a newspaper without reading of private insolvencies, in which the creditors receive, perhaps, is. in the £1. Do honorable members opposite quote these instances? Not at all. To them they mean nothing. All the arguments which can be adduced against public ownership account for nothing in the face of the world’s experience and the world’s practice. This is not a question of Labour or anti-Labour. It is not a question of Socialism or antiSocialism, it is not a question of theory or of the application of a theory. It is a question of national necessity as applied by all the Governments of the world. The fact is that in every direction this question of public ownership is becoming a growing factor. It does not matter whether one turns to Australia, on the one hand, or to Russia on the other, or whether one turns to France, to Germany, or to , Japan. The fact remains that public ownership, whether it be by the States or by a Federation, is an ever-growing factor. It has its initial struggles, and it has its failures. But in every case public ownership is a growing force, and in no country are any efforts made at denationalization. Whether it be a question of the public ownership of railways or of schools, or whether it be a question of the municipal control of the water or gas supply, or whether it be a question of “making a roadway or a footpath, at every step we find the class of man who is mirrored by honorable members opposite. At every step there .have been those who have prophesied that it meant horror, peril, and social destruction - who have urged that it was doomed to failure. But when a proposal has once been accepted, and when the advantage of it has been no longer disputed, these same persons have declared that that, step was not the one to which they objected - that it was the next step. Thus they have established themselves before the rising tide, like Canute of old,, exclaiming “ No more, no more.” But all experience has defeated their prophesies. It has supplied them with a complete answer to their gloomy forebodings. Most honorable members opposite who have addressed themselves to this Bill have raised the objection that we have power to control monopolies and that therefore their nationalization is not necessary. The honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable member for Bendigo both took up that attitude. It is the attitude which the troglodytes of politics have taken in every country on every national question. I take up this stand : that it is not a question of party at all. lt i3 not a question of labour, of progress, of revolution, or of Socialism. Boiled down it amounts to this: “ It is a national necessity?” I affirm that it is. Where does the national necessity arise in this country ? It arises from the peculiar position in which we find ourselves. We have established a system of national defence and a system of national Protection. We propose to maintain Australia as a white man’s country, and we propose to carry on in this country all those industries which will provide the people within our boundaries with a variety of occupations. We are face to face with the fact that to-day an immense volume of imports is pouring into this countryWhether we are invaded by labour, or by a foreign army, or by the products of cheap labour, the national spirit calls upon Australia to defend itself against this foreign aggression. What solution have we to this problem ? Honorable members opposite propose to remit it to some Board and to leave ihe task which confronts us now to be dealt with some years hence. But any man who considers the situation knows full well that there can be no greater piece of hypocrisy than is provided by any public man who talks about the solution of this invasion of Australia by foreign products, but who fails to face the problem of how and by what means foreign goods may be excluded, while at the same time the revenue obtainable from the influx of those commodities may be collected. We have to maintain our defence policy, our old-age and invalid pensions, and fulfil all the functions of a National Government out of revenue, and the only means at. our command is the Customs, owing to the peculiar Constitution imposed on us. There, therefore, remains only one solution of the trouble - only one means of making up a revenue depleted by a national system of Protection. We can only meet the situation by imposing additional taxation, with the one alternative of getting within the control of the nation the industrial resources of the nation in many directions, and diverting the profits from the hands of private individuals into the coffers of the State. Only by such means can we secure the end we have in view. We are told that this is an irrational and improper means of securing revenue, and that in pursuing such a policy we are going in the face of the world’s experience. We are told that the countries which threaten our national and industrial supremacy are Germany and Japan. These are the countries, apparently, in view of which we are spending millions of money in order to defend ourselves against possible invasion, both industrially and politically; and yet these are just the two nationalities that are building up their powers and resources by the policy that is embodied in the Bill before us. Japan is endeavouring to save its people from additional taxation by excluding the American Tobacco Trust, and thus securing revenues which previously went to the United States of America, and a similar policy has been put into operation in many other directions. The first thing that Germany did on the establishment of the
Empire was to found a national bank. The honorable member for Kooyong has talked to us about confiscation ; but the German Government, which was not composed of Socialists or Labourites, or even of Radicals, but of men who were determined to build up an Empire, were not particular as to the methods they pursued. They did not spend millions of public money in laying the foundations of a new bank. They made the national interest their supreme interest, and seized the existing banking corporations without paying them a penny. They took over the capital of the banks as part of the national debt of the Empire, and from that time those banks have been paid 31/2 per cent. on their confiscated capital. What would be said of us to-day if we, in the interests of the nation, pursued such a method ? We should be denounced as confiscators, and yet that is the method pursued by the men who laid the foundations of the great and growing Empire of Germany. And it is exactly that policy which the Japanese are carrying out. In England £40,000,000 of profit is annually made on railways in the hands of private individuals, whereas in Germany the Government have control of railways, smelting works, banking, and other enterprises, and devote the profits to subsidizing shipping, building up industries, and constructing menofwar. It is those lines that Australia can pursue. Of all questions presented to us, none transcends in importance the one that we are now considering. It rests on no grounds of theory or of party policy, but on the solid ground of national necessity. To merely turn aside and raise quibbles as to whether this or that is an evil proves nothing - national necessity is the paramount necessity. We can only have effective Protection by devising new methods whereby to replace the depleted revenue which must result; and the only methods are to take over the ownership of our industrial resources, to reduce the expenditure, or to impose additional taxation. No member of the Opposition can tell us how and by what means they would solve the problem of how to establish a national Protection in Australia, side by side with a depleted revenue - how to make that revenue up. The Bill before us constitutes the only effective national policy which will enable Australia to march with other countries of the world. I think, Mr. Speaker, I have occupied your attention long enough in placing these few thoughts before the members of this House.
.- The honorable member for Bourke ismaster of a fervid and attractive oratory which gives immediate satisfaction to his own supporters and more permanent comfort to his opponents. The honorable member occasionaJly makes prophecies, and recently he told us of the “Sedan” to which honorable members opposite were marching. Hehas now just explained to us, carried away by his own eloquence, the exact nature of the weapons which he and his colleagues are carrying to battle at the next election. We have been told till now that the power to nationalize should wear in the public gaze a humanitarian, democratic, and beneficent garb; but what do we now hear? We find exactly what it is that honorable members opposite are carrying in the bag they have been giving us a peep at in the course of these debates. We have occasionally seen a few of the claws through the sacking, and an ear or two, but now the whole cat is out. It is taxation, and nothing but taxation, which underlies these nationalizing proposals. And where did the honorable member go to for his inspiration ? To the Democrats of Germany? No, he went to the man who, he himself admitted, wasthe very reverse of the Democrat, namely, Bismarck. He said that in Germany it was that stalwart Conservative and Tory who suggested nationalizing proposals, not for the purpose of uplifting the people, paying higher wages, or evenly distributing profits, but for the one essential purpose of providing the means for national defence. The honorable member is to be commended for his frankness, and his friends are to be congratulated on the complete exposure he has made of all they have been pretending for some days past. The honorable member in referring to Germany said that the German statesmen - I quote his exact words - “were not particular about the methods they pursued,” and he held them up as an example to his own supporters. Is it because honorable members opposite are “not particular as to the methods they pursue” that they are constantly endeavouring to make this proposition bear a humanitarian aspect? Is it because they are “not particular about the methods they pursue” that they are constantly asking the electors to vote for the nationalization of industries on the pretence that it means a more even distribution of wealth ?
– Does the honorable member say that he has quoted my exact words ?
– The honorable member is cleverer than the Hansard reporters, who complain that they cannot hear them.
– The honorable member spoke with impressive slowness when he used that phrase - he spoke from his heart to his applauding supporters. The Germans were not particular about the methods they pursued, and why, ergo, should honorable members opposite be? The fact remains that the proposition, as we understand it, is one for nationalizing industries broadcast - not only the sugar monopoly - in order to get still further profits and still more taxation by indirect methods from the pockets of’ the people of Australia. The honorable member for Parramatta has quoted statements by the Sugar Commission’s adherents of the Labour party with regard to the possibility of nationalizing the sugar industry with financial solvency. The Sugar Commission is a jury drawn, not from all sections of the community, but from the colleagues of the honorable member for Bourke, and this jury of the honorable member’s friends declared against the nationalizing of the sugar industry.
– That is on a par with what the honorable member said before.
– I ask honorable members to look at the report of the Sugar Commission which has been read by the honorable member for Parramatta, and which is signed, first by the Chairman, and then by Mr. Albert Hinchcliffe and Mr. Shannon. Is M’r. Hinchcliffe a Tory ? Is he not the business manager of the Brisbane Worker, and a Labour member of the Queensland Parliament? Then we have Mr. Shannon, n barrister, who stood for Kennedy in the Labour party’s interest. The third man is Mr. Robert McM. Anderson, who stated very shortly before his appointment that it was well known to ;>11 his friends - and in that category we may include the AttorneyGeneral - that for a long time past the Labour party had had his complete sympathy.
– I can assure the honorable member that I never knew of it.
– Perhaps not, but the Attorney-General did. This jury of the colleagues of the honorable member for Bourke was appointed to inquire into the sugar industry, and it cannot be contended for one moment that they have any friendliness towards the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, or that it was their mission in any sense or form to shield the company. They exercised all the processes of the law to complete their inquiries, and their verdict is that if we nationalize the sugar industry iit will mean that, under Government inefficiency - that is the burden of their report - the nationalized industry will have to charge the Australian consumer more for his sugar than he has- ever been charged before.
Let me take another side of this question, which has been referred to by 1 lie honorable member for Bourke. He started his oration by saying that this was a new principle - as a matter of fact, the principle is as old as the Pharaohs - and that there has been no recession from any nationalized project. If we read history, we find that, whenever there are too many nationalized industries, there is a>n immediate recession, and the pendulum swings back towards individual liberty and broadcast individualism.
– Give an illustration.
– I can give no more complete illustration of the working of absolute Socialism than we get in Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs, when the State carried out absolutely every operation in the land.
– Why not go back another 1,000 years?
– Because there is no earlier history. At the time I speak of, we find Egypt in a state of Socialism. I do not wi.-ih honorable members to think that there is any facetiousness in my statement. The honorable member for Bourke said that the Socialism of to-day is not the Socialism of a Czar or of a Pharaoh, but is the Socialism of the people - the government of the people’s industries by the people themselves. Is that a fair statement oE the Socialism to which honorable members opposite are directing their efforts? A very short time ago we were told that we were going to kil! that octopus - the banking ring - by starting a bank of our own, which, in some vague, undefined way, would cheapen money for the producers and benefit the Australian community in other directions. The Australian Bank has. been established, and recently it lent money to a number ‘of the banks which form a portion of this so-called octopus. In thisconnexion, I put a simple inquiry, couched in the most inoffensive language, to the Prime Minister, as follows -
With reference to the published statement of the assets and liabilities of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia as at 30th September, 1912, in which it appears that the bank had made advances to lour private banks, only one of which is an Australian bank - Will he inquire and inform the House as to the basis of the distribution of such advances?
That surely was a justifiable inquiry to make in regard to an industry run by the people for the people; but what was the honorable gentleman’s reply ? It was not the reply of a popular administrator ot public affairs, but the reply of a Czar. J have no complaint to make against the reply; but I repeat that it was the reply of a Czar. It was as follows -
I have communicated with the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, who has furnished me with the following reply : - “ I beg to advise that, as the management of the Commonwealth Bank is to be free from political interference -
– Do you object to that?
– Not the least in the world. I am pointing out the humbug of pretending that the public will run the industries of Australia -
I respectfully decline to answer this or any question of a similar nature.
Thus even the basis of the business of this institution is not to be the subject of political knowledge, let alone of political control. The national institution that was going to cheapen money to borrowers, and to assist every agency of the Commonwealth, is being run on lines which - as the Opposition showed at the time, it should and must be - are divorced from political influence or popular control. Indeed, every Government agency that we create in the sphere of finance must from the very risks of the enterprise be only another private enterprise financed by the Australian people.
I do not think that his fervid oratory was the cause of the extraordinary error made by the honorable member for Bourke, when he said that the party to which i have the honour to belong opposed the control Bill on the ground that there was to be a nationalization proposal, and now opposes the nationalization proposal because there is a control Bill. That was a “ clever “ distortion of the fact. We, on this side, are prepared to give the fullest and most complete control over any trusts or combines acting to the detriment of the public. We have always taken that fair position. All we sought to do in regard to the control Bill was to have it so amended . that the Commonwealth, while possessing all the power needed, should not exercise it in regard to innocent bodies, but should concentrate its energies upon the regulation and control 0t trusts and combines acting to the detriment of the public.
The honorable gentleman went on to say that the Bill before us was a measure, free from interference by the High Court. The fact to which the honorable member refers is a dangerous one, and should give honorable members pause. The members of the Labour party have been constantly referring to the Australian trusts as enormously wealthy corporations, which, for1 the sheer love of doing it, contribute enormously to the party funds. That is a picture which they have constantly held up to view. Now the Bill says that when each House of the Parliament has in the same session, by resolution passed by an absolute majority of its members, declared that the industry or business of producing, manufacturing, or supplying any specified goods or services is the subject of a monopoly it may be nationalized. Will it not be worth the while of the trusts to prevent such resolutions being passed in regard to any of them ? Will hot the trusts be ready to make enormous financial sacrifices to prevent the passing of such resolutions? These resolutions can be carried only at the instance of the Government of the day, and would not trusts, which, according to honorable members opposite, are ready to give away hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for the mere love of giving,, be prepared to spend lavishly to prevent their introduction?
– The Bill brings Tammany methods into Australian public life.
– It introduces the worst features of American public life into Australia.
– Has the honorable member any experience of being bribed?
– The question is so contemptible that it is worthy of the honorable member. Honorable members opposite have dug this grave for their legislation. They have held up the large business corporations of Australia as instinct with corruption, and ready to bribe the politicians with purses of enormous capacity. If that is the attitude of the trusts, and the Bill( passes, I venture to predict that, in the future, every opportunity to bribe individual Ministers will be taken, and Parliament will lose the high esteem in which it is now held by the public of
Australia. Again., if some future Ministry refuses to introduce legislation of a nationalizing character for legitimate and bond fide reasons, will not men who are mean enough to suggest individual bribery here be the first to declare that it has been bribed? _ Do we want the national honour and dignity of Parliament to be dragged in the mud? Honorable members opposite, to keep themselves in power for a year or two, have used this poison, and it will stay in our’ public life if the Bill passes. That is one of the most serious criticisms I have to offer on the measure.
The honorable member for Bourke admitted that Socialistic enterprises have invariably failed, but pointed out that insolvencies are constantly occurring in private life. I would remind the House that insolvency is a process for weeding out the unfit. The unfit in the financial body are, as it were, a cancer which is better cut out than retained.
– Sometimes they are unfortunate.
– Insolvents may be unfortunate, but they are generally unfit financially. Is it not better for men to be weeded out of positions which they are not capable of filling than to be kept there by Government support?
The objective of honorable members opposite is complete Socialism. That has been enunciated since the days of Mr. Watson, and no honorable member opposite would, in his candid moments, deny it. To my mind, nationalization would be detrimental to every section of the public. The honorable member for Bourke admitted that the consumer has to pay the cost of nationalization, and the consumer is the general public. A nationalized industry would permit no possibilities of comparison of its products with similar products produced elsewhere. At the present time you can compare the bread of your baker with that of any other; and find whether you are getting value for your money ; but were the baking industry nationalized there would be no possibility of comparison, and it would be impossible for the ordinary person to know whether the Government was not depreciating quality with a view to increasing revenue. In other countries Government monopolies, such as the manufacture of tobacco, are used in this way for taxation purposes, and the quality of the article produced suffers. In France, Italy, and Japan, where the manufacture of tobacco is a Government monopoly, we consequently find the worst tobacco in the world. But let us see what happens in Australia. Here the sending of telegrams is a Government monopoly. A few years ago a telegram used to be sent with reasonable speed for 6d. for sixteen words, but a new system has been initiated. The Government say, ‘ ‘ You may still send a telegram at the rate of sixteen words for 6d., but we cannot guarantee that it will be received soon enough to make is worth your while to send it. If you want to send a real telegram, you must send it as an urgent message, and we shall charge you double rates.” By this means there has been extorted from the public double the price charged a few years ago for sending an ordinary telegram. Telephone rates have also been increased. There are no standards of comparison, and the public forget that they are getting less value for their money. The Government, in operating every monopoly, alter the basis of conducting their business, and up goes the price to the ordinary consumer. If time would permit, I could give many instances where taxation has been increased by this insidious means to users of departmental services; and that is the inevitable result of every system of State Socialism of which I know.
– One has to pay 5 cents to use a telephone in Canada or the United States of America.
– I’ think that the cheapest telephone service is to be found in Stockholm. The fact remains that the cost of the telephone service in Australia has gone up very considerably during the last year or two.
The taxpayer is sold both in the way towhich I have referred and in another way. Owing to the same sort of considerations of Government inefficiency as were placed before honorable members opposite by their own colleagues on the Sugar Commission, the taxpayers are sold both as consumers, and as general taxpayers who have to pay to nationalize and run all these successful private enterprises.
Nationalization is not a new thingeven in the Federal arena. We havecomplete powers of nationalization nrespect of every governmental agency that we possess, and we are operating thosepowers at the present time. In this- connexion I invite honorable members to consider an answer that I obtained the other day to a questiou which I put in this House concerning the Commonwealth Harness Factory. If they do, they will see the inefficiency of Government management, even under the existing control, which, according to honorable members opposite, is all that could be desired. I asked what was the price per bell tent quoted by Messrs. Thomas Evans and Company, of Bourke-street, Melbourne, and what was the Commonwealth Harness Factory’s cost price for a bell tent made to the order of the Defence Department. In reply I was told that the actual cost price of the Commonwealth agency is £3 8s.11d., whilst the price quoted by the private firm mentioned, after allowing for rent, advertising, and other charges-
– And profits.
– And profits, is only £3 8s. Here, then, is the very latest example of Socialism run mad, and of Government inefficiency as against the efficiency of a competitive system.
– We are saving a lot of money in connexion with the Commonwealth Harness Factory.
– I shall give some instances to show the way in which the Government are saving money !
– That just given by the honorable member is a weak one.
– It is good enough for the public outside, who have to determine this question. I have put some further questions with regard to this Government industry, but have been unable to get them answered. I think that the answer is to be given to-morrow - after this Bill is cut of the way.
– That is a silly piece of impudence.
– I hope that the sartorial exhibit over the way will give me a chance to proceed. I recently asked the prices of mail-bags as made for the Postal Department by our glorious Commonwealth factory, and the, prices at which the same bags were manufactured in the Postal Department before that factory was established. I am awaiting an official answer, but meantime can give an answer which I believe will prove to be true. The factory price for the biggest bag is 2s. 8½d. as against the is. 7½d. charged by the Postal Department, andthe factory price for bags of the second size is 2s. ofd. as against 1s.11/3d.
– This is not official information.
– I did not say that it was. Bags of the third size cost107/8d. in the factory, as against5½d. in the Postal Department, whilst the smallest size bags cost 8½d. in the factory, as against 47/8d. as made by the postal employes. Here is another instance of Socialism run mad. It serves to show that the taxpayers will have to bear a very considerable load when the Government start on their various projected operations.
– I do not see in the noticepaper any question by the honorable gentleman which remains in abeyance.
– The question to which I refer was postponed to-day. It was put on the notice-paper I do not know how many weeks ago. The Estimates in respect of the Northern Territory for this year show that the Government are exercising there to a very considerable extent the powers of nationalization which they already possess. Provision is made for Government cottages for the use of the employes, and for the erection and equipment of a steam laundry. It was not thought proper that the white men at Darwin should have their clothes laundered by Chinese, and now we are to have a “ white “ laundry to wash the clothing of the Chinese in that part of Australia.! We also have up there an experimental farm, and a horse-breeding establishment - which is a good thing. Then there is a vote to encourage prospecting for metals and minerals. There is also to be a fodder farm, whilst advances are to be made to settlers - a business that should be carried out as a sub-branch of the Commonwealth Bank. All these matters relate to the Northern Territory. Again, hers we have a Cordite Factory, erected at a cost of nearly£100,000 ; a Woollen Factory, which cost nearly £28,000; a Clothing Factory, that cost about £26,500; and a Small Arms Factory that cost £170,000. In connexion with the last-named factory we have a most extraordinary instance of Government inefficiency in conducting such enterprises. The Government began with a contract for the supply of machinery, under which the contractor was made liable to all sorts of penalties if he failed” to fulfil his contract within the prescribed period. But, although the contract was some eighteen months overdue, and the work of supplying small arms for our Defence Force was delayed to that extent, not one penny by way of penalty was paid or claimed.
– The late Government altered the contract.
– The present Government came into office within six months of the contract being signed. Had their predecessors been responsible for any mistake in connexion with this matter, it would have been told from the housetops. The delay to which I have referred occurred, and the extraordinary concession on the part of the Defence Department to the contractor was made, during the term of office of the present Administration. The completion of the factory was delayed eighteen months, but, so far as I know, although the contractor was liable to penalties amounting to between £50,000 and £60,000, not one. penny has been recovered. Here we have another instance of Government ineptitude and incompetency in connexion with nationalized industries.
Are we to have the same sort of thing throughout the Common wealth ? What industry does the Government propose, first of all, to nationalize? They cannot start with the sugar industry, for the Attorney-General’s own trusted friend has aimed a swingeing blow at that proposal. Will honorable members opposite have the effrontery to say they will start with the nationalization of the tobacco industry? Will they have the temerity to say that they propose to invade that sacred sphere? Are they going to nationalize shipping, after giving those engaged in the local shipping trade complete immunity from oversea competition and other benefits under the Navigation Bill? Will that beneficent octopus, the Australian Shipping Ring, be now attacked in its lair after honorable members opposite have been feeding it up ? . J fail to see to what useful Australian purpose these powers could be put. They can be used only, as the honorable member for Bourke has said, for the purpose of taxation. As one who holds that taxation ought to be imposed only when urgently needed, only with the utmost prudence, and in the most open way, I resist this means of sweating from the poor consumers of Australia additional taxation without letting them know how that taxation is to be wrung from them.
I should like to refer very briefly to an interjection made by the honorable member for Brisbane, who said there was something of the early Christian ideals about this proposition on the part of the Labour party. I do not profess to be as good a Christian as he is, but so far as I can see there is a material difference between the tenets of the early Christians and the taxation tenets of honorable members opposite An early Christian tenet was to “ give that which thou hast to the poor,” whereas the Labour party’s tenets would have them abolish wealth, establish industries, take away what others have earned, and give away a very small percentage. There is considerable difference between the tenets of the early Christians and those of the Labour party in regard to Socialized industry. I have here a comparatively recent work upon this subject.
– Is it the Pilgrim’s Progress?
– I do not know whether the honorable member wishes to mock the book that I have in my hand, and which is the Papal Encyclical.
– The honorable member himself has beenmisquoting Scripture.
– I have seen the honorable member wearing kilts, and in many funny phases, but I refuse to admit him to be a doctrinaire on the subject of Christianity. I hold in my hand an encyclical letter of Pope Leo. XIII., which seems to fit the general attitude of honorable members opposite, who are always denouncing the capitalistic system as an octopus which is squeezing the life-blood out of the bodypolitic. It reads -
To remedy these evils the socialists, working on thepoor mans envy of the rich, endeavour to destroy private property, and maintain that individual possessions should become thecommon property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private persons to the community, the present evil state of things will be set to rights, because each citizen will then have his equal share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their proposals are so clearly futile for all practical purposes that if they were carried out the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. Moreover, they are emphatically unjust, because they would rob the lawful possessor, bring the State into a sphere that is not its own, and cause complete confusion in the community.
These general words apply with the utmost force to this Bill. The Attorney-General, in introducing it, had the amazing effrontery to say -
The industry must be taken over and paidfor on just terms, and may then be carried on by the Government, or dealt with in any way the Government pleases. . . . There is no hint nf expropriation ; it is simplv a businesslike proposal to take over and conduct, as a Government business, that which is already in the field of industry as a private concern.
Yet the Bill provides as follows -
Parliament shall have power to make laws lor carrying on the industry or business by or under the control of the Commonwealth, acquiring for that purpose on just terms any property used in connexion with the industry or business.
Goodwill is thus to be excluded. Let me take the case of a surgeon by way of illustration. In the practice of his profession he uses certain property. That property consists of his offices and his instruments. The instruments and the property may be worth only a few pounds. But his skill and his brain may have so organized hrs business that it is worth thousands of pounds a year to him. Under this Bill the Government would be able to take his business from him for the payment of the price of his instruments.
– Could he hand over his skill and brains to anybody else?
– Not if his business was nationalized. There lies the injustice. If, again, one purchased the Age newspaper in the open ‘ market, one would probably have to pay something like £1,000,000 for it. But a man who purchased the Age newspaper offices, would, perhaps, have to pay only .£50,000 or ;£i 00,000 for them. So that, under this Bill, the Age newspaper could be nationalized for ,£100,000, and its proprietors might thus be deprived of nine-tenths of its purchase price, which they would have been able to realize for it in the open market. The same thing applies to almost every phase of industry which can be brought under the operation of this Bill . Yet the Attorney-General had the effrontery to say that there was no hint of expropriation about the measure !
For the reasons which I have advanced I shall oppose it. Not only has the Commonwealth the power to nationalize, which is incidental to its other powers, but every State has the complete power of nationalization within its own borders, and the bulk of the nationalization which might be undertaken is nationalization by the municipalities and State agencies of the people.
If the powers sought in this Bill are vested in the Commonwealth Parliament it will be more difficult for us reasonably to regulate and sanely to administer the Departments which we already control. We shall have a great many more toys to play with, toys of a very expensive nature - as has been pointed out by the members of the Sugar Commission - and the public servants of Australia will get still less of our attention year after year. This Bill is opposed to the interests of the Australian consumer, and in the light of the speech of the honorable member for Bourke, is opposed to the interests of the Australian taxpayer. It is also opposed to the interests of the Australian public servant, and of the Australian public. I urge the electors to read the speech of the honorable member for Bourke, if they wish to realize the exact nature of the beast which is being placed before them, and to vote out this proposed power at the forthcoming referenda.
– The objections which have been urged to this Bill are, shortly, that the power to nationalize monopolies is not necessary, and that its exercise would result in disastrous consequences to the nation and to the morale of the community. Yesterday, the honorable member for Ballarat directed his attention primarily to the first of these classes of objections. He said that the Bill was not necessary because we have power to deal with monopolies under the Bill dealing with “ trusts, combines, and monopolies in relation to the manufacture and supply of goods and services.” He said that, under the Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill, and the Constitution Alteration (Corporations) Bill, we have power to deal with other monopolies, and that, therefore, we were completely armed against all possible enemies in this direction. Consequently, he urged that this power was superfluous and dangerous, and one which ought not to be granted. I think that his statement upon examination will prove to be fallacious. If it does not prove to be so, I admit that we ought not to have a power at once superfluous and dangerous. But the argument that we have other means of dealing with trusts does not dispose of our contention that we require also the power which is asked for in this Bill. Let us examine the question. Let us consider the attitude of honorable members opposite towards these proposals. They say that they will oppose this Bill because all the powers that we require are conferred by the preceding Bills. That is quite satisfactory as far as it goes. But let us consider their attitude towards the other Bills. They were opposed to every one of them.. They smote them hip and thigh. The position is that they will go to the electors, but will not say to them, “ We advise you to grant this power in relation to the nationalization of monopolies, but do not grant the powers which are asked for in the other Bills.” Nor will they say to them, “ Grant the powers which will be conferred by the other Bills, but do not grant the power of nationalization which will be conferred by this Bill.” On the contrary, they will counsel the people to reject every one of the six proposals to amend the Constitution. That being the case, I submit that the argument of the honorable member for Ballarat breaks down. He has said that the powers conferred by the other Bills are sufficient. But he has also pledged himself to oppose granting to this Parliament the powers which are contained in those other measures, which he says are amply sufficient, and by implication in his argument necessary for our purposes.
That is one point ; now to another. He says that there is no necessity to nationalize a monopoly which we can control. I dispute that entirely. 1 say that the only way to control some monopolies is by nationalizing them. While we may control a domestic cat by a word, a sound, or a gesture, if we wish to control a Bengal tiger we must cage it, or subdue it by means appropriate to a beast of that kind. There are some monopolies which are so powerful that the State and they cannot exist side by side. I submit that the Beef, the Oil and Steel Trusts of America are examples of such trusts. They have, by various means, got such a hold, not only of the economic sources of the well-being of the people of America, but of its institutions of government, legislative and judicial, as to make government by the people a mere sham. In such cases there is no middle course ; the people must either rule or be ruled. The power to control monopolies, therefore, implies the power to nationalize them in certain cases.
Let us now consider the honorable member’s argument from another stand-point. The powers which are sought in the other Bills with which we have dealt would not enable us to control monopolies unless every one of those measures received the assent of the people. The Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill will probably give us the power to control a monopoly. The trust, combine, and monopoly power will give us authority to deal with combines and monopolies in relation to manufactures or the supply of services. I wish to put the position as set before the House by the honorable member for Flinders, and contrast it with the attitude of the honorable member for Ballarat. 1 submit that the arguments of these two honorable members are mutually destructive. The argument of the honorable member for Flinders is, shortly, that there is no necessity for the “ Trust, combine, and monopoly “ power, because we have, in the “ Nationalization of monopolies “ power, sufficient authority to deal with trusts. Therefore the honorable member for Flinders contended that to grant the “ Trust, combine, and monopoly “ power would lead to confusion, since there would be two authorities, each having independent power to decide what was a. monopoly. We were asked, on this ground, to reject the Trust, Combine, and Monopoly Bill, and now, for precisely the opposite reason, to reject the Nationalization of Monopolies Bill. If we had taken the advice of the honorable member for Flinders, we should have rejected the Trust, Combine, and Monopoly Bill, because the Nationalization of Monopolies Bill was sufficient; but if we accept the honorable member for Ballarat’s advice, we shall reject the latter Bill because the former is sufficient. If we take the advice of both or follow the example of either we shall reject both Bills. I leave the people to decide which of these two authorities is right - that they cannot both be right is evident. In the circumstances, we shall do right to reject the advice of both.
Let me now say a word on the difficulty which arose in the mind of the honorable member for Flinders as to the definition of “monopoly” by the High Court and by this Parliament. He said that the High Court would define “ monopoly “ in any way it pleased, and that the Parliament would define the word in any way it pleased, and that there would be difference of opinion and confusion. There may be ; but whether there will or not I cannot say, nor can any man. Why should it be supposed that Parliament and the High Court will differ? They may or they may not. I do say, however, that we ought not to hesitate to ask the people for sufficient power to deal with trusts, combines, and monopolies, merely because there may be a clashing of opinion, or because the High Court is not the ultimate tribunal in regard to the interpretation of terms in both cases. Nothing is more clearly evident in these later days than the fact that the Judiciary is frequently quite incapable of inter.pleting plain words - words that are in the mouth of every citizen, which circulate freely throughout commercial circles, and are accepted as current coin by the whole community. These plain words are bandied about in the Supreme Court of the country as if they were foreign tokens. But yesterday the High Court was again in difficulties over a plain word. It found itself unable to say definitely what the word “ industry “ means. Yet this is a word familiar to all men. It has a meaning common to the community, and apparently an esoteric meaning peculiar to the law. If the legal meaning was always the same and easily ascertainable, no difficulty would present itself, but difficulties do continuously arise. We find the Court, so far from being a vademecum upon which we can always rely for a clear unambiguous interpretation of a term in the Constitution, divided and unable to say definitely what the law really is. Let me just show to what extent this has gone. The States of America have made really desperate efforts to deal with trusts and combines, and some of their laws are, I suppose, the most drastic in the world - nothing more drastic is possible; language fails utterly to trespass on a barrier beyond that which these laws have scaled. And yet trusts, as I have already said many times in this chamber, develop and flourish in the United States of America, under Federal and State laws, more luxuriantly than in any country in the world. The Court here is asked to say what is a trust, combine, or monopoly. We are told that the Court will be able to clearly indicate just what these terms connote. But can it do so? In America all is confusion in this matter. The American Courts are asked to say what is and what is not a legal combination, and these are the words of Eddy, a leading jurist, set out in his text-book on Combination : -
The cases already reviewed show that -
There is no form of combination adopted by capital which has not been directly or indirectly approved by some court of record ;
There is no form of combination adopted by capital which has not been directly or indirectly condemned by some court of record.
The decisions are in such conflict that it would be a waste of time to attempt to reconcile them upon any tenable theories.
There is the deliberate and reasoned conclusion to which one of the most able jurists has been driven - a man who opposes utterly the views which are held on this side of the House. So, if we are asking the people to give power to the Parliament rather than the Court to say what a monopoly is, we are not doing so without good reason. This Parliament comes every three years fresh from the people; it is not a body that lives in a stagnant pool. Parliament draws its virility and its power from the ever-fresh and ever-flowing waters of the people’s will. Every three years Parliament is vested with fresh authority : charged with the last word that the people have to say on any subject. It knows just what the people want, and is charged to do it. But while Parliament is vested with great power, it is loaded also with great responsibility. The people have at every election the right to say, “ You did that which you were charged not to do. You did not do that which you were pledged to do. Get you gone !” One mistake is all that any one Parliament can ever make, and it pays dearly for it. By every principle of democratic government the people must be allowed to rule ; and I cannot see how the principle of this Bill can be assailed unless Democracy itself is assailed. If Democracy be sound, then that principle, based on Democracy, is also sound.
I have said that there is no way of controlling some monopolies except by nationalizing them, and I say that again. There are many monopolies which, from the nature of the commodities they control, the scope of their operations, may easily be controlled ; but there are others that cannot be so controlled, and the power to nationalize ought to be vested in the Commonwealth in order to deal with such cases. The honorable member for Bourke, in one of the most admirable speeches we have listened to during the debate, told us that the power to nationalize is a power not only vested in, but exercised by, every civilized Government in the world, except the Government of the United States of America. The power to nationalize is a power which fifty years ago was viewed with fear and trembling by the most venturesome of reformers. To-day, hide-bound Conservatives are advocating its exercise under the guise of municipalization, which is only nationalization written locally. Nationalization is approached now, not in fear and trembling by these gentlemen, but with loud and resounding hosannas. lt is a fact suggestive, but incontrovertible, that the greatest steps towards Socialism in our time have been taken by Conservatives in this direction of municipalization of public utilities.
And the movement grows daily more matked. What is our own experience? We have not been laggard, but have led the vanguard ofcivilization in the world. The policy of ‘nationalization is more widely applied in this country of ours than in any country on earth.’ So far from being a doubtful experiment, or one pregnant with disaster - one into which we should enter only after grave and laborious thought, and hedged about with many restrictions - it has become the accepted policy of Australia. And it is a policy which, entered upon, has never been receded from in any one case. What is a better test of any policy than that? It is a policy for the world as it is, and not for the world as it should be or as it might be. We see around us a world, as I have said often, in which competition no longer holds sway. We see great corporate bodies, exercising tremendous powers and influence. There is but one remedy for all this ; and it is a remedy which finds its strength, not in the flimsy theories of the arm-chair professor or idealist, but in the vigorous growth of a plant rooted in deep soil, and springing out of the very nature of things. People nationalize enterprises now because it is the only thing to do - not because some man got on the stump and told them to do so, or because some philosopher has supported the theory in a book. The people nationalize because nationalizing has to be done; just’ as a man eats, without thinking about it, in order that he may live. So we must nationalize, and secure public ownership of utilities, at any rate, or economically perish, or at best be serfs at the disposal of great and merciless corporations.
This is ‘ no new and venturesome experiment; it is one with which we have grown familiar, and which has proved itself. The railways of this country are nationalized, though the honorable member for Ballarat hinted yesterday that perhaps they were not successful - that their nationalization had been a failure. I remember some years ago an agitation oi some considerable strength that reared its head in New South Wales in favour of handing the railways of that State back to private enterprise. In that agitation Sir William McMillan, late member for Wentworth, figured most prominently. But times have changed. If Ave went over New South Wales - which is politically disturbed just now owing to various causes - with the finest hay-rake, not one man would be found who would dare to go on the public platform and advocate such a proposal. The public ownership of railways is as much an accepted fact in Australia as adult suffrage. There are men, I admit, who are opposed to both ; but they dare not go on the platform and say so; and, generally speaking, the man who is opposed to government by the people is opposed to State-owned railways. The nationalization of railways has proved itself, and by its fruits we know it. The public debt of all the States of Australia is £267,000,000, on which there is an annual payment for interest of .£9,000,000. Of the £267,000,000 borrowed, about three - fifths, or £154,000,000,. has been invested in the State railways. Last year the railways provided £5,369,000 of the interest due on the public borrowing of Australia, and showed a clear profit of £1,424,000. after paying interest, upkeep, and other costs. That is a magnificent tribute to national enterprise. Without the railways we should be taxed over £5,000,000 more to provide interest on our public debt. No doubt honorable members may say that the moneywould not have been borrowed. But, as the honorable member for Bourke has pointed out, Germany, by the revenue from its railways and other national utilities, has been able to build up a great navy, to subsidize a great mercantile marine, and to move from the rearguard to the very van of the commercial and maritime world. Today Great Britain, the greatest commercial nation on earth, is hard pressed by Germany’s competition, and rejoices when Canada, or some other part of the Empire, offers to find £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 to help in her defence.
In Australia we have many other examples of State enterprise, in addition to railways. The States have freely exercised their power to nationalize, and will do so more largely in the future than they have done in the past. They have exercised this power because circumstances demanded it. For a like reason we ask for it.
We have been asked, “ Why do you desire both power to control monopolies and power to nationalize than?” Let me ask in my turn, “ Why have the States both power to control and power to nationalize and yet have exercised the latter so freely?” They have not been satisfied with exercising their power to control, but have nationalized certain industries. Why ? Because they have found it more conducive to the public benefit to have them managed directly by the people than left in the hands of private individuals.
As to the general objections to this Bill, they are the same as those put forward against all the others. Our proposals have met the fate that usually threatens reforms. Since the time of Noah there has never’ been a proposal for reform which some crusty and hoary-headed Conservative has not denounced as fraught with disaster. So many dreadful pictures have been painted by our friends of the consequences that must follow the measures which the Labour party have introduced that we have grown callous. In 1910 we listened to the stories of the disasters that would follow the imposition of the land tax. Ruin was to roll like a sea of glowing lava across the land. Squatters, poor rich landlords, unfortunates who had invested their scanty earnings in huge tracts of country, were to be ruthlessly crushed. But the records show that there was never before such prosperity as has attended this country during the last two years. That is the answer to the croaking of my honorable friends opposite. When we proposed to issue Australian notes,’ it was said that artisans would be seen, haggard and weary, bearing through the streets huge piles of notes which they vainly endeavoured to persuade credulous tradesmen to cash. But we have never seen anything of the kind. The notes are negotiable at 20s. in the £1, and the only fault which the artisan has to find with them is that he cannot get enough of (hem. When the honorable member for Ballarat and myself were not separated by the width of this table, I listened with great pleasure to many admirable dissertations on anti-Socialism which he delivered. He described the anti-Socialistic policy of the honorable member for Parramatta, and the then honorable ‘ member for East Sydney, as “the cry of the reactionaries,” and their party as “ the wreckage of every party, including the black labour party, and the party that opposes every reform.” At that time the honorable member for Ballarat saw the reactionary behind his cloak of hollow pretence. Now the honorable member has become purblind, and sees only the cloak, and on it blazoned those fearsome things which, in 1907, he denounced as bogies to frighten children and credulous electors. If proposals for reform had been rejected when denounced as dangerous, no reform, no progress, legislative or otherwise, would have been achieved by civilization. When it was proposed in the British House of Commons to pass a Bill providing for a ten hours day, some of the best men in Great Britain denounced it in unmeasured terms, declaring that it would undermine the commercial and industrial supremacy of the. country. They asked how could we compete with ten hours a day against Germany with, an eighteen-hours day? But the measure was passed, and Great Britain has not succumbed. As Macaulay has pointed out, if Great Britain is to go down, she will not go down when fighting with a nation that has an eighteen-hours’ day, because such a nation is not to be feared. It will be a truly civilized nation, peopled with men and women with sound physical bodies, with alert and highly trained minds, that we need fear. When Simpson announced his epoch-making discovery of chloroform - the greatest boon, with antiseptic surgery, that science has given to suffering humanity - he was denounced, because it was said that he had destroyed pain, which had been sent by the Deity to remind us of our mortality. Thank God, he held his own, and the world is the richer for his science and courage.
The honorable and learned member for Ballarat says that there is no need for the nationalization of monopolies, and that nationalization would mean extra taxation. That is an extraordinary view. Monopolies are able to pile up huge profits so as to build mountains of reserves out of the exploitation of the people. Yet, according to the honorable member, if they were nationalized, the people would be taxed more heavily 1 On the face of it, the statement is absurd. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, as an example, has built up reserves worth millions out of profits wrung from the people. Were the Government running the industry, those millions would have been spent either in giving better wages to the workers, and better prices to the cane-growers, or cheaper sugar to the consumers, or distributed evenly among all these, and taxation, instead of being increased, would have been decreased. That, at any rate, is the opinion of the company itself. It is very much on the alert in these days. It fears the Referendum dreadfully. To show that, it is necessary to nationalize an industry like this because it is too big to control, let me quote from the Benalla Independent of 6th December. When one’s son is small, if he does not do what he is told he is smacked ; but when he becomes 6 inches taller than his father, and 3 stones heavier, the threat of such procedure is absurd, the proceeding itself impossible. Any remedy at all must be suited to the circumstances. What will suit such circumstances as these? A letter dated 27th November last, and addressed by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, was sent to the proprietor of the Benalla Independent -
Dear Sir, - Re the enclosed letter from the general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Tlie company wish to have this inserted next issue in your open column, and without any advertising mark. While this can in no way be claimed as an advertisement, to insure publication the company are prepared to pay, and you may charge us up to £1 15s. for the service. There is, however, one condition, attention must be drawn to the letter in your editorial column in the same issue. You make the comment as long or as short as you like, and may, of course, comment adversely or otherwise, but public attention must be drawn to the letter. Please post marked copy showing insertion to Mr. Macdonald, Colonial Sugar Refining Company, Sydney
M. Shakespeare, Manager.
A similar letter was sent to every newspaper proprietor in Australia. That is the way in which the company has tried to put its side of the case before the public. I replied to the letter, the insertion of which was asked for, in die metropolitan press, but my reply was not published by the country press. I ‘cannot pay £1 15s. to each of a thousand newspapers. The letter which the company wishes inserted is one written by Mr. Knox, to which I replied so effectually that a Second letter written by him was to the first as a bleating lamb is to a roaring bull. But the company buys its way to the electors in this fashion ! Yet we are told that this great company must be dealt with very carefully and gently. It is on behalf of great corporations of this kind that the Opposition tell us that we ought to be careful, and not to ask for the power to nationalize, because such a power is quite unnecessary. Yet it was the general manager of this company who, when asked whether it was correct, as had been stated, that it had given £50,000 to the funds of the campaign against the last referenda - to throw dust in the eyes of the people, so that they should vote against our proposals - said chat he would not deny that something had been paid, although a contribution of £50,000 had not been made.
It is very evident that we need power, and plenty of power, to deal with such conditions. No company in Australia need fear that it will not obtain from this Parliament a fair deal. Whether it is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company or the smallest company in the community, it need have no fear in that regard.
Let me give an illustration showing, from quite a different point of view altogether, why we should have power to nationalize. The Commonwealth wants power to nationalize for purposes connected with the development of certain industries of which the iron industry is an excellent type. The iron industry of Australia was supported by the State Government of New South Wales, and is now being subsidized by the Commonwealth, but no one can say that the position of the industry is satisfactory. The Commonwealth Government, for its own purposes, requires thousands of tons of steel rails. It also requires thousands of steel plates for shipbuilding. It requires great guns, and it requires in a dozen different directions the products of an up-to-date iron and steel plant. But the Common wealth, while it has power to erect a plant to supply its own purposes. Such not be justified in erecting such a plant unless it were able to keep it going all the time. For a plant that could supply the Commonwealth requirements on an economical basis would supply far more than it could consume for its own purposes. Such works must have an opportunity to supply, not only the wants of the Commonwealth, but the wants, of others, and to do that we must have added power. We have not got the necessary power, but we must have it. Is any one going to say that it would not be a wise or business-like proposition to make our own rails and steel plates? We are building our own ships, but every ounce of material we use has to be imported or purchased locally under circumstanceswhich mean that the Commonwealth is paying by way of subsidy or concession of one sort or another a great deal more than it should pay.
One point more, and I have finished. The Opposition have said that the word “monopoly” is not defined in the Bil], and that it ought to be. I have also seen in the press articles urging that we ought to define in this Bill what we mean by “monopoly.” With all deference, I cannot agree with that view. It is impossible to insert in the Bill a definition of monopoly that would nor* make confusion worse confounded. In
Texas, laws have been passed to deal with trusts, combinations, and monopolies, and in one of those laws an attempt has been made to define what a monopoly is. I shall read a few lines of that definition. I could not read it all at this stage, for it comprises over a page of closely printed matter. In Eddy on Combinations, vol. 2, page i j 31, the definition is given as follows : -
A “ monopoly “ is any union or combination or consolidation or affiliation of capital, credit, property, assets, trade, customs, skill or acts, or of any other valuable thing or possession, by or between persons, firms or corporations or associations of persons, firms or corporations, whereby any one of the purposes or objects mentioned in this Act is accomplished or sought to be accomplished, or whereby any one or more “f said purposes are promoted or attempted to be executed or carried out, or whereby the several results described herein are reasonably calculated to be produced ; and a “ monopoly “ as thus defined and contemplated includes not merely such combinations by and between two or more persons, firms or corporations acting for themselves, but is especially defined and intended to include all aggregations, amalgamations, affiliations, consolidations or incorporations of capital, skill, credit, assets, property, custom, trade or other valuable thing or possession whether effected by the ordinary methods of partnership or by actual union under the legal form of a corporation, or an incorporated body resulting from the union of one or more diss tinct firms or corporations, or by the purchase, acquisition or control of shares or certificates of slock or bonds, or other corporate property or franchises; and all corporations or partnerships that have been or may be created bv the consolidation or amalgamation of the separate capital, stock, bonds, assets, credit, properties, custom, trade or corporate or firm belongings of two or more firms or corporations or companies are especially declared to constitute monopolies within the meaning of this Act, if so created or entered into for any one or more of the purposes named in this Act’; ami a “monopoly” as defined in this section is hereby declared to be unlawful and against public policy, and any aand all persons, firms, corporations or association of persons engaged therein shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of a conspiracy to defraud, and shall be subject to the penalties prescribed in this Act.
– Itounds llike the Literal party’s policy.
– There is certainlylenty oof it. Any reasonable man would think that definition sufficient to cover the ground. The average man would say that a monopoly, in order to get through that definition, would have to get up bright andarly iin the morning, but I have not the slightest doubt at all that monopolies have got through it very easily. What would be the position of the unfortunate electors of Australia if wc were to put in front of them such a definition, and to ask them to say “Yes” or “,No” to the question, “ Are you in favour of it?” I can, in fancy, feel myself quailing under the caustic castigation of honorable members opposite for attempting to bewilder and delude the unfortunate electors by putting such technical and involved language before them. Definitions will not help us. As a matter of fact, a monopoly is something which we all know very well when we see it, but efforts to define a. monopoly only increase the difficulty of understanding and dealing with it.
It was said last night that we ought not to have this power, because we propose to exercise it in a way that would be unfair to those from whom we acquired an industry. The honorable member for Kooyong made a strong point of that contention, declaring that there was no provision in the Bill covering good-will, and that consequently we were going to take away from people that which belonged to them, and to pay nothing for it. I do not want to take up the time of the House in dealing at any length with that question. I desire only to say that in my opinion the Bill does provide for good-will being taken over on fair terms. In Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary, volume 3. page 1586, it is laid down that “ Good-will is property.” Potter v. Commissioners of Inland Revenue, and C commissioners of Inland Revenue v. Angus. I shall quote the decisions shortly. In the case of Commissioners of Inland Revenue v. Angus, reported in 2<? Q.B.D., 1889, page 590, Lord Esher, Master of the Rolls, said -
Now the property which was to be conveyed in the present case is a legal property. i have no doubt that the good-will of a business is ‘property.” ….
Then, again, in the last paragraph of the judgment of the Court in Potter v. Commissioners of Inland Revenue, reported in Exchequer Reports, volume 10, page 158, we have the statement -
We think that good-will falls under the description of property.
This Bill provides that -
The Parliament shall have power Vo make laws for carrying on the industry or business by or under the control of the Commonwealth, and acquiring for that purpose on just terms any property used in connexion with the industry or business.
In view of the language of thelause, aand the authorities I have quoted, the honorable member’s efforts to discredit the proposal now before the House by stating that this party would be guilty of attempting to take that which belonged to another without paying for it, is quite unjustifiable. The language of the clause does not support his contention, and it is not the intention of this party to take property from nv 0 one without paying for it.
We are asking the House and the country to agree to this proposal. We have not made the request for this power without carefully considering the position, and the necessity for dealing with it. We are satisfied that the several powers for which we are asking are all necessary. We are perfectly satisfied that the power to nationalize is one of the most valuable and essential that could be at the disposal of modern civilized Governments, and we are convinced that the condition of things existing to-day calls for the vesting of that power in this Parliament. We believe that this is a power over which the people will have ample control. It will not be exercised at the mere caprice or fancy of any faction or party. It will not be exercised without consideration and thought.’ Rather will it be exercised as the deliberate policy of a party formulated and presented to the people and approved by them. It will be thought over with care, exercised only after careful inquiry into the facts by some independenttribunal, and directed against some substantial and overpowering condition of things which does not permit of being dealt with in any other way. In short, this is a remedy to be used with discretion, but a sovereign remedy for a condition of things which defies in very many cases all other attempts at cure. It is a remedy which has been freely used by other Governments. It is a remedy which has been more and more resorted to as the years have gone on. It is a remedy which in the very nature of things will be still more and more resorted to. It is a remedy which the press in 19 10 indorsed very strongly. The Age in its issue of 8th December, 1910, said in the course of a leading article -
There is no such objection to the demand for the nationalization of monopolies. To that question the electors will have no hesitation in saying “yes.”
With that I entirely agree. It is a message which I trust that great newspaper, and every other great journal in Australia, will send out to the electors. It is one that once having been sent out should not and indeed cannot be recalled. The proposal now before us is a facsimile of that put before the people in 1910, save that one alteration has been made in order to meet the objection that under the power for which we asked we should be able to deal with monopolies controlled by State or public authorities, and. as we do not consider it necessary or desirable that we should have that power, we have said so plainly in this Bill. This measure is directed against private monopolies, and private monopolies only. It is a Bill not to deal with a condition of affairs where competition exists, but to deal with a condition of affairs where competition is dead. It relates to private monopolies, and not to State monopolies, or monopolies which are controlled by municipalities. It is directed against monopolies which can, ex hypothesi, exist only where competition is dead, and the only question which the people have to ask themselves is which monopoly they prefer. - one run by a few individuals for the benefit of a few, or one run by the people for the benefit of the whole community.
Question - That this Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes), by leave, put -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
The House divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of this Bill.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of this Bill.
Motion (by Mr. King O’Malley) proposed -
That the House of Representatives approves of the fresh distribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. F. Poate, H, Langwell, and J. G. McLaren, the. Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their reportlaid before Parliament on the 28th day of November, 1912.
.- The Minister has contented himself with simply submitting the motion, and that fact, in itself, should go a long way towards inducing the House to give this question very full consideration. If the Minister does not feel inclined to submit reasonswhy we should not accept the report of theCommissioners, it becomes my duty to do so. I desire to approach this question, as I did on the last occasion, from a nonparty point of view. The honorable member for Wentworth laughs, but it will be remembered that, in regard to the last distribution, it wouldhave been to my personal interest to recommend its adoption. However, I regarded the distribution then proposed as an outrage on country interests,, and felt it my duty to take the stand I did. Under the circumstances, I cannot be charged on this occasion with opposing the recommendations of the Commissioners, because they have obliterated the electorate of Riverina. It is this House, and this House alone, which has to take the responsibility for this report. We haveoften heard here, and in the State Parliaments, of the inequalities between the representation of the people in the country districts and the people in the metropolitan centres ; and it has always been held that consideration must be given to the country electorates, having regard to the means of communication, and other features, so that’ they may be faithfully represented. The Electoral Act charges the Commissionerswith certain duties, and I think I shall be able to show that those duties have not been observed on the present occasion. An electorate containing about 30,000 electors, embracing only a very small proportion of miners, has been attached to the remote Barrier electorate. The Barrier, which is the centre of the electorate, is distant about. 700 miles ; and how far means of communication have been taken into consideration is shown by the fact that an elector de-. siring to reach the Barrier from the southern portion of the electorate will have to travel over 2,000 miles on a return journey. If an elector, for instance, desired to travel from Hillston to the Barrier, he would have first of all, to take a coachjourney of 150 miles to Hay, then a journey of 80 miles odd, to Deniliquin, 200 miles; to Melbourne, 500 miles to Adelaide, and 400 to 500 miles from Adelaide to Broken Hill. The report itself shows that the Commissioners have not considered community of interest and means of communica- lion, but have simply proceeded on a numerical basis. . The Commissioners are charged to give due consideration to community or diversity of interest, means ofcommunication, physical features, existing boundaries and divisions- and boundaries of State electorates, the last mentioned with a view to assimilating State and Federal boundaries, so as to save expense. In paragraph 10 of their report, however, the Commissioners tell us -
In the fresh distribution herein proposed your Commissioners have endeavoured to so adjust the boundaries of the divisions as to include in each division a number of electors approximating as closely as practicable to the ascertained quota of 34,657. In so doing it has been found necessary to increase the number of metropolitan and sub-metropolitan divisions by two, and to correspondingly reduce the number of countrydivisions.
This is an admission that they have absolutely ignored the directions in the Act. The quota of 34,657 was given for a specific purpose. There is an allowance of 15 per cent, by which the Commissioners may either increase or decrease the number as necessity arises; and, in the past, without exception, it has always been decreased in the case of country electorates, and increased in the case of metropolitan centres. This plan, however, has been departed from. The maximum number allowed to the Commissioners was 41,588, and the minimum 27,726; and they could have utilized the difference had they so pleased. But they decided to simply approximate as nearly as possible to the maximum number. In other divisions, the numbers are, in round figures, Barrier, 33,000; Calare, 33,000 ; Illawarra, 34,000 ; Robertson, 34,000 ; Parramatta, 34,000 ; Lang, 34,000 ; and so on. I cannot lay too much stress on the fact that Parliament charged the Commissioners to give due consideration to country interests on the various points I have already mentioned, but the Commissioners, by equalizing the figures numerically, have deprived the -country districts of two electorates, and created two new metropolitan electorates. This I regard as an outrage on the Act, and as a violation of the intentions of Parliament. Under the redistribution, the constituencies of Barrier and Darling will comprise more than one-half of the whole area of New South Wales; and I contend, in the presence of the representatives of those electorates, that it will be physically and monetarily impossible for them to faithfully and honestly represent the whole. To traverse these electorates would take so long as to leave no time for legislative duties.
– The honorable member desired one-vote-one-value, and now he does not like it.
– The honorable mem.ber is wrong. I have always said that while one-vote-one-value is theoretically and morally correct, the policy should always be applied so as to give due consideration to country districts. It is possible to cover a city electorate in a few hours by means’ of a cabThe whole of the electors of some citydivisions could be addressed at two or three meetings, but it would take seven months, travelling by motor cars or any other conveyance, to address all the electors of at least two of the New South Wales country divisions. Is that a fair and equitable arrangement of boundaries? In redistributing the electoral divisions of Western Australia and Queensland, due regard was not given by the Commissioners to community of interest and means of communication, and the House returned the Queensland scheme for reconsideration. As a result a second redistribution was submitted, giving’ effect to the directions of the Act, and it was adopted. I have pointed out in regard to the New South Wales redistribution that- to give a sufficient number of electors to the Barrier division, the northern portion of the Riverina electorate could have been merged in the Barrier electorate. That arrangement would have studied community of interest, because the district to which I refer is populated largely by a mining community, and contains mining centres such as Mount Hope and Gilgunyah, and would also have studied the means of communication, because a line is to be taken from Condobolin to Broken Hill, to link up all these districts. TheRiverina division proper would have had its own community of interest, and would have been conveniently served by means qf communication. However, that suggestion was not considered, and the scheme before us gets rid of the Riverina division altogether. I ask honorable members, should not the Commissioners, in re-arranging the boundaries of the divisions of a State, concern themselves with the question : Is the population of certain divisions likely to increase or decrease? Riverina is the only division in the southern part of New South Wales whose population is rapidly growing. Since 1910, its population has been increased by 11,000 electors, and this increase is continuing. The land tax has had a great deal to do with this, because it has brought about the- cutting-up of large estates, but the Burrinjuck storage works and the closer settlements at Yanco, and out towards Hillston, will bring hundreds of thousands of persons into that part of the country.
– Although population has increased in Riverina. .the population of Sydney has grown at a still greater rate.
– If half the number of electors allotted to a city constituency could return a representative for remote country constituencies like Riverina andi Barrier, the city population would be represented as well as, or better than, the country population, because, as I have stated, the people in metropolitan centres are in close contact with their representatives, but in the country it is extremely difficult to get about. The Barrier division has now 5,462 electors fewer than the quota, and the Darling 1,163 electors more than the quota. Vet there has been added to the Darling 6,399 electors, so that that constituency is to have 7,562 electors more than the quota. Calare has already 55366 electors more than the quota, and 790 electors more are to be added. Hume has now 158 electors more than the quota, and 6,916 electors more are to be added. The quota is 27,000, and the electorates of Barrier, Darling, Calare, and Hume will, between them, contain 26,410 electors more than the quota. Is there any justice or equity in an arrangement of that kind? It should require very few words from me, or from any one else, to convince the House that the Commissioners ought to be compelled to comply with the conditions laid down in the Act, which they admit they have not done. They have acted on other considerations, and have deprived the country districts of two seats, adding two +0 the metropolitan districts. Knowing- in our. hearts that the distribution is unfair and unjust, -and will practically disfranchise a large number of electors, ought we to adopt it merely because the Commissioners have proposed it, or are we going to do our duty and ask them to reconsider- their scheme?
– Cairn we do that ?
– I have no hesitation in saying that we can. I could have made an alteration of two of the proposed electorates in the last scheme which would have avoided the necessity of any further altera tion. It has been said, and will be said-, that I am fighting for my own personal advantage, because the Commissioners propose to abolish the Riverina electorate, which I represent ; but I am not doing so. I opposed the last redistribution, which did not affect me personally. I am fighting mow in the interests of some 34,000 electors, some of whom have always, and will always, vote against me. They will beabsolutely disfranchised if this redistribution is adopted, and might as well stay at home, and not trouble about political matters, for all the effect that their votes will have. There is not a municipality, shire council, or any other public body in the electorate that has not sent protests to me against this redistribution. My drawers are full of such communications. The scheme is unjust to these electors, and to country interests generally. It has not been prepared in accordance with the directions of the Act, and Parliament will be doing its duty in again referring it to the Commissioners. Surely, for once, we can put party feeling on one side. As a matter of fact, party interests are not now concerned, because under any scheme the State will have twenty-seven representatives in this House. But the country is being deprived of representation, to the advantage of the city, which is wrong. I appeal to Ministers and to the House not to permit this injustice.
.- The House will admire the altruistic selfeffacement of the honorable gentleman who has just addressed himself to this question. It will be readily remembered that on the last occasion that the matter was before us he was, as he has just told us, benefited by the scheme proposed by the Commissioners.
– Yet he felt it to be his duty to oppose the adoption of that scheme. He occupies a peculiarly original position. Usually when a’ man’s constituency is injured by a proposal of this kind, his own interests suffer; but, speaking of the last redistribution, he said, “ My constituents ask me to put their case as forcibly as I can. They point out that under this scheme they will suffer a very serious injustice.” Yet I understand that the honorable member himself was benefited bv that scheme.
– I do not quite follow the honorable member’s meaning.
– The honorable member said just now that he would have been benefited by the adoption of the last scheme.
– Benefited personally.
– I fail to see how an honorable member could- be personally benefited under any scheme which would subject his constituents to a serious injustice.
– I meant that I should have been personally benefited by having a more compact electorate.
– The honorable member has given us a new definition of the word “ disfranchisement.” He has said of this scheme as he said of the last, that if it were adopted a number of electors would be disfranchised, but one finds, upon making an examination, that if this scheme were adopted, a number of electors at present in the honorable member’s constituency would be transferred to that represented by the Minister of External Affairs.
– Not much of a compliment to the Minister.
– I did not intend to reflect on the Minister, but how could 11,000 in one centre fight against 22,000 in another ?
– Surely in this national arena we can ask for support irrespective of the immediate callings of the persons concerned. We are dealing with large principles in a broad way. Surely it is not necessary, for instance, to try to concentrate the farming vote.
– What is meant by “community of interest”?
– That is one of the broad principles laid down in the Act for the guidance of the Commissioners. If honorable members opposite believe that the Commissioners have mischievously ignored those principles, they ought to dismiss them. I take it, however, that the Commissioners can be trusted to observe the provisions of the Act, and, so far as I have been able to judge of this redistribution, they have set themselves seriously to carry out the desire of the House, as evidenced by speeches made on the last occasion. The general burden of the attack against the last distribution was that it was not on the basis of one vote one value. The honorable member for Macquarie, the honorable member for South Sydney, and others who spoke in this House, as well as in another place, where the matter was really fixed up, raised that objection. The Commissioners have been guided by the utterances of honorable members opposite, and in .this redistribution, whether it be right or wrong, have given absolute expression to the principle of ‘ ‘ one vote one value.”
– They have not given expression to the Act.
– This scheme gives expression to it more closely than has any that I have seen since Federation. Under it the electorates are practically of equal value. I have risen, not so much to discuss the merits or demerits of the scheme as to ask the Minister what he intends to do with it after it has been dealt with.
– To ask for another scheme.
– -And to allow the Parliament to jump into recess without giving us an opportunity to deal with that scheme.
– No; it is all ready.
– The honorable member says that another scheme is ready for presentation. I would ask the Minister whether that statement is correct.
– I - I cannot say.
– How comes it that the honorable member for Darling is in a position to make such a statement ?
– P - People in this country seem to know everything. ‘
– If this scheme be thrown out, as honorable members opposite apparently intend it shall be, will the Min*ister pledge the Government to give this House an opportunity to consider a further scheme ?
– D - Does the honorable member desire to come back after Christmas ?
– I certainly would come back after Christmas to deal with so serious a matter. I ask for a reply to my question.
– It is disorderly to do that.
– But it was perfectly in order for the honorable member for Riverina to draw attention, as he very properly did, to the way in which this proposition had been moved by the Minister, who did not think fit to tell the House what he thought of the scheme. We cannot get any information. There seems to be on foot a conspiracy to require the electors of New South Wales to go to the poll at the next general election on the basis of the existing boundaries.
– The honorable member has no authority -for that statement.
– We cannot obtain even a whisper from the Minister or any . one else opposite in regard to that point. If this scheme be thrown out, and no provision be made for redistributing the Federal electorates in New South Wales, it will be the worst case of gerrymandering that has ever occurred.
– Will it be any worse than that which the honorable member’s party perpetrated in the last Parliament in connexion with the redistribution of Western Australia ?
– The honorable member has no sense of proportion when he speaks of the two matters in the one breath. The honorable member for Riverina has said, with the appearance of sincerity, that if this scheme be rejected, with the result that we go to the constituencies on the existing electoral boundaries, no harm will be done, since the State will have the same representation. How absurd it is to talk of State representation in this House ! Is this not a National Parliament, and are not all the electors in Australia entitled to equal representation in this House? Can it be said that no damage is done electorally to any person in New South Wales while under the existing divisions 40,000 persons on the roll can have two representatives in this House, whilst 47,000 electors in one electorate, and 49,000 in another, have only one representative? The existing boundaries are an absolute travesty of the principle of one vote one value ; but. because it suits some honorable members opposite - perhaps, because it suits himself - the Minister is not prepared to make afight against the rejection of this scheme.
– The honorable member has no right to impute motives.
– The honorable member did not hesitate to say that the Minister’s silence should induce honorable members to seriously weigh this proposal.
– I did not impute any motive.
– What else did the honorable member do? I shall not be affected personally whatever is done with this scheme, save that if it be passed I shall lose some of the best constituents that I have. If it does not pass, are honorable members opposite going to blacken themselves on the platforms of Democracy by wilfully conniving at an election-
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it; but I wish to draw the attention of the people of Australia to the extraordinary state of affairs that will exist if, for party purposes-
– Order ! The honorable member is now attributing improper motives. He has no right to do that
– Well, I shall say that it would be most improper to go to the country on the existing Federal electoral boundaries for New South Wales. From the point of view of the electors, it would amount to a scandal. Why should 20,000 electors in one constituency have one representative, while 49,000 in another have only the same representation? That is the present state of affairs. It is curious that almost every constituency which has this enormous inflation of electoral strength is represented by members of the Liberal party, while the electorates embracing only a small number of electors are represented by members of the Labour party.
– That is not so. My constituency is a very large one, and it is not represented by a member of the Liberal party.
– It will be.
– T - The Opposition are all “ goners “ ?
– I can assure the Minister that we are just as healthy politically as he is. My only concern is to learn whether that basic principle of Democracy “ one vote one value” is to prevail in Australia, or whether, for reasons which I am not permitted by the Standing Orders to refer to, we are to go to the electors on the existing electoral boundaries. I have a right to ask the Minister whether he will guarantee that this Parliament will meet again after Christmas, if necessary, to pass a redistribution scheme in the event of this little arrangement materializing-
-The honorable member is now imputing dishonorable motives. He must not do that.
– Then 1 shall say that in the event of a recurrence of the accident that happened to a previous redistribution scheme, when it was supported by members of the Ministry and solidly opposed by every Ministerial supporter-
– That is not correct.
– I foTgot for the moment that the honorable member for Calare did vote with the Government.
– And so did the honorable member for Darting.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. Two out of some thirty supporters of the Government voted with the Ministry for the scheme last before us.
– And those two were sufficient to carry it.
– But that did not stop the accident occurring in another place, and I am entitled to know in the interests of Democracy what is proposed to be done in the event of another occurrence of the kind in this House.
– May not the absence of -some of the honorable member’s own party bring about the rejection of this scheme?
– It is a simple question of arithmetic.
-Do -Do not get excited.
– I am not. I am showing more interest in this question than is the Minister. .1 suppose that “the brethren “ do not like him to express his views upon it. Including the independent member for Gippsland, there are forty-one Ministerial supporters. It is obvious to me that an accident is going to happen to this proposition.
– Accidents happen in the best regulated families.
– And honorable members opposite are the best regulated family in this way that I have ever seen. The Minister of Home Affairs, whose position necessitates that he should formally move the adoption of the report of the Commissioners, cannot even express an opinion either in favour of or against that accident. Consequently he said nothing. I desire to see daylight after this accident has occurred.
– The honorable member wants to see too much.
– Has not an honorable member who represents 47,000 electors the right to ask why the Minister remains dumb? I ask the Minister, in his reply, to state in the clearest and most unequivocal language of which he is capable, whether, if an accident should occur to the redistribution scheme which is now before us, he will pledge himself and the Government to again meet this House after Christmas?
– I - I am willing to meet the House, but I cannot answer for others
– It is ridiculous to suppose that our Christmas dinners are of such importance that we ought to allow the electors of the great State of New South Wales to go to the poll at the approaching elections upon divisions which are a veritable travesty on the Democratic principle. It is very unfortunate that it should suit one political party to hold the forthcoming elections on the existing electoral boundaries.
– The honorable member has no justification for that statement.
– If the honorable member will look at the existing electoral boundaries, he will find that on the enrolment for 191 2 the electorate of Barrier, which is represented by the Minister of External Affairs, contains 22,264 electors; that of Macquarie, which is represented by a Labour member, has 24,000 electors; while the constituencies of Werriwa and Robertson each contain less than 30,000 electors. On the other hand, the division of North Sydney, which is represented by a Liberal, contains 49,829 electors; that of Lang,, which is also represented by a Liberal, contains 47,353 electors; that of Parkes, which is represented by a member of our party, contains 46,274 electors; and that of Wentworth contains 46,982 electors. Under the existing divisions a great portion of the Liberal strength of New South Wales is locked up in those few electorates. If the scheme which is now before us be rejected, it will appear to the public that Democracy has been sacrificed to party exigencies.
– At the last election in New South Wales the Liberal electors did not vote strongly enough to secure the return of senators.
– I make the “ accident “ party a present of that. By locking up the Liberal voters in a few electoral divisions, a large percentage of the Liberal strength is sacrificed.
-Order ! The honorable member is now imputing motives, which he has no right to do.
– Our Constitution and the Electoral Act have endeavoured to insure against these accidents. But evidently it is impossible to insure against them. I hope that the House will not be insulted by the Minister refusing to assign any reason why this proposed scheme should be agreed to. I do not care what redistribution may be adopted so long as it is based upon the principle of one vote one value.
– The law provides what is to be done.
– If Parliament be not sitting, how can another redistribution scheme be presented to it ? The honorable member knows as well as I do that, for some time past, there has been a feverish anxiety on the part of honorable members opposite to close the session. He represents only a small electorate.
– It embraces one-fourth of the area of New South Wales.
-Is that the new principle which is to be adopted in connexion with parliamentary representation? Do honorable members come here to represent the rights of property or to represent flesh and blood ? Surely every man and woman in the community has an equal right to the sufffage. Becausethe honorable member for Darling is obliged to do a lot of travelling, are his constituents to have greater representation than are the electors in our busy centres? Such a principle is absurd, and the scheme which was based upon it first saw the light in our State Parliament, where it was brought forward to convenience the representatives of country districts, and not the people generally. I notice that the Minister of Home Affairs is again reading the newspaper. If this redistribution scheme be rejected, and no other scheme be submitted to this Parliament for its approval, I shall make charges outside this Chamber which I am not permitted to make here. I shall give honorable members opposite a chance of testing the truth of those charges where they may choose. The charges will be made in the most unequivocal language.
– The honorable member must not threaten.
– I am merely stating what I propose to do after the accident has happened. I wish to know what the Minister of Home Affairs is going to do.
– I - I shall do my Christian duty. I shall vote for the proposal.
– And what will the Minister’s colleagues do? In introducing a proposal to the notice of the House, it is usual for a Minister to assign reasons why honorable members should vote for it. A great deal has been said of the provisions which are embodied in our Electoral Act. in regard to community of interest. Community of interest is a matter on which the Commissioners are likely to take a more unbiased view than that held by any individual member here. It is ridiculous to suppose that we can regard these matters from a disinterested and impersonal point of view. If I were making a speech as full of matter on any other subject, what chance would there be of seeing so many honorable members on the benches opposite as there are at present ? It is inherent in human nature to takea personal view of such a question as that before us, however much we may beat our breasts and declare to the contrary. If it should happen that this second scheme of the Commissioners is thrown aside, an amendment of the Act will be required to make the decision of the Commissioners absolutely final, a necessity which, in itself, would be deplorable. I like the safeguard which is provided in the ventilation of the question in this Chamber, but if the opportunity is to be used for the promotion of accidents of the kind contemplated, the only way will be to prevent the recurrenceof such eventualities. The people of New South Wales will not quietly sit down, and permit a vast number of electors to be disfranchised. Under the existing distribution ten country electorates will have approximately the same voting strength as seventeen city electorates.That is to say, that proportionof the electors in the cities will be absolutely disfranchised, not by, the removal of one member or another, but through not having equal representation in’ this place. I am accordingly reinforced by this fact in demanding that the position may be made perfectly clear asto what is to happen. The honorable member for Riverina, when the previous redistribution was before us; said -
Let me put the matter from another standpoint. There are 30,000 miners collected around Broken Hill, whilst 15,000 agriculturists and pastoralists are spread over the remaining portion of the Barrier electorate. What chance is there of any community of interest ever existing between these two sections? The result is that theagriculturists and pastoralists feel that they are being absolutely disfranchised and that the Commissioners intend to give them no voice in political matters.
I have in my electorate 47,000 electors of all trades, professions, and occupations, but it is not suggested that each separate trade or occupation should be formed into a sort of guild for representation here.
– There are other kinds of community of interest- commercial, for instance.
– It is part of the Labour party’s propaganda that there is absolutely no community of interest between the capi- talistic class and the wage-earners; but, if that be so, why should we have electorates at all? If the honorable member presses that provision of the Electoral Act to the conclusion he suggests, he will .find it absolutely subversive of parliamentary representation. He would say that there is less community of interest between the employer and the employe than there is between an employ^ in agriculture and an employe in mining, and yet employers and employed, as the only possible way, are all asked to vote within the same electoral boundary. I had thought that what was always placed in the forefront by my honorable friends opposite was the absolute equality of labour - the universality of the common interest of labour. Now, however, we have community of. interest dragged out of the vaults in order to effect the murder of the principle of one vote one value.
– That is according to a direction in the Act.
– The Act is the clearest thing in the world; it says that there shall not be more than a certain number of electors above or below the quota. If the honorable member wishes to see the Act upheld, I claim his influence, not here, but upstairs, where it is more valuable,- to guarantee to us a distribution in New South Wales before this House rises - whether this or some other distribution does not concern me.
– Why not let us have a vote?
– I wish to know exactly where we stand ; and we ought to have a statement from the Minister.
– I have endeavoured to ascertain during the dinner adjournment the Ministerial intention regarding the proposed redistribution, but have been unable to acquire any information on the subject. I, therefore, assume that in this case, as in others in which the veil of secrecy is deliberately drawn over the actions of the Government, the right is in some considerable danger. If the scheme of the Commissioners is not adopted, the electors of New South Wales, I understand, will have to go to the poll at the next election in the divisions for which they are now enrolled, and, therefore, to place the facts on record, I propose to show the allotment of the electors according to the 191 2 enrolment, leaving the matter then to. the con sciences of honorable members opposite. I shall take first the eleven city electorates. Of those represented by Labour supporters, Cook contains 35,733 electors, Dalley 38,765, East Sydney 35,428, South Sydney 34,873, and West Sydney 33,111 ; and of those represented by Liberals, Illawarra contains 30,060 electors, Lang 47,353, North Sydney 49,829, Parramatta 39,851, Parkes 46,274, and Wentworth 46,982. The eleven city electorates which I have named contain in all 438,259 electors. There are sixteen country divisions. Those represented by Labour members are Barrier with 22,264 electors on its roll - contrast that with North Sydney, which has an enrolment of 49,829 - Calare with 33,092, Darling with 28,899, Gwydir with 34,338, Hunter with 35,840, Macquarie with 24,344, Nepean - this electorate is temporarily represented by a Labour member - with 41,252, Newcastle with 32,186, Robertson with 29,488, Werriwa - for the time being represented by a Labour member - with 28,565, and New England with 31,416. Then there is Eden-Monaro with 22,712, Hume, represented by an Independent, with 27,884, Cowper, represented by a Liberal, with 37,179, Richmond, represented -by a Liberal, with 34,996, and Riverina - represented by the latest recruit to the Labour party and a leader of the “Accident” party - with 33,°3°- The sixteen country divisions, mainly represented by Labour members, contain 497,485 electors, or practically as many as the eleven city divisions. The Government, in recognition of the constitutional principle that Ministers should stand by their officers, have gone through the performance of submitting pro’ forma a motion for the adoption of the Commissioners’ scheme, but it is left to the party which is so ably led by the honorable member for Riverina to kill the scheme. Previous to the dinner adjournment I stated the opinion that, personally, I do not care an iota whether the scheme is adopted or not. But I am prepared to accept the recommendations of officers chosen deliberately to give effect to the principle of equality of representation. It is the desire of all honorable members on this side of the House that that principle should be acknowledged, but I have found out to my own satisfaction during the dinner adjournment that it will be endangered if the scheme is rejected. There is no undertaking to prolong the. session until another scheme can be submitted, in order that at the coming election effect can be given to the principle of one vote one value. There is a callous disregard of the rights of the electors to equality of representation, the disinterested altruism voiced by the honorable member for Riverina being shared by every member of the “ Accident “ party, who are ready to surrender the basic principles of Democracy to gain their immediate ends.
– W - What about the “do-nothing” party over there?
– The Minister is displeased because I intend to vote for this motion. He would like the House to unanimously support the dear brothers of the Labour party ! No definite objections have been urged against the scheme now before us. The honorable member for Riverina has told us that 15,000 of his electors would be disfranchised if they were represented by the honorable member for Barrier.
– I said that they would be disfranchised because they had no community of interest with the electors with whom they would be associated under this division.
– I have quoted the honorable member’s actual words. He said clearly and unequivocally - he can on occasion so express himself - that if the electors in the western portion of his present division were put into the Barrier division they would be if so facto disfranchised. I do not view these matters in a personal light, but I cannot see much difference between the honorable member for Riverina and the honorable member for Barrier, who belongs to the same party. The one is a Minister and the other only a supporter, and, therefore, perhaps in a steadier job. There is, however, nothing justifying the opinion that the transfer of electors from one to the other would be tantamount to their disfranchisement. In the absence of explanation, I am forced to vote for the scheme, because the objections urged against it are almost frivolous, and because if it is rejected there will be no equality of representation, so far as New South Wales is concerned, in the next Parliament.
– I should like to know how we stand in this matter. An honorable member who supported the previous distribution, which differs entirely from this, is now supporting this distribution.
– And those who opposed the last distribution are opposing this.
– Are we to accept any scheme the Commissioners may throw at us whether it be good, bad, or indifferent? I did not oppose the previous scheme very strongly.
– The honorable member voted against it. Did not the vote count for much?
– I accept responsibility for votes which I give in this chamber. I voted against the last scheme because I thought that it required amendment, but I did not object to it as strongly as I object to this. It gave the country a predominance of representation, if anything, and to-day the cry from one end of New South Wales to the other is “ More representation for the country.” There is talk of a Country party forming there, the people of the country feeling that they suffer from the centralization of everything in Sydney. I am in sympathy with them. We have suffered too much from this centralization, our interests not being understood by the city people. I thought when the last scheme was rejected by the Senate - a body which it does not concern, because it does not change the Senate electorates - that the Commissioners would have amended it in the light of the views expressed by the majority of the representatives of New South Wales in this House, who voted against it, but they have not done so. I have no personal interest to serve. As a matter of fact, if the scheme now before us is adopted, my majority will be doubled; but I should like to know what community of interest there is between Boggabilla and Glen Innes. The last scheme had regard to community of interest so far as New England was concerned. Of course, every honorable member knows his own electorate best. In the last distribution, there was added to my constituency a piece of country in the north containing a number of small towns, the residents of which have been asking time after time to be transferred to the electorate of New England, since it embraces towns with which they do business. They have no community of interest with the Richmond division. I understood that existing State constituencies were to be taken into consideration, but I find that a small portion of the State constituency of Gough has been left out of my electorate and added to the Richmond division, whilst the New England electorate has been carried right on to Boggabilla, and embraces a big bit of country having no community of interest with the rest of the electorate. Then, again, the Commissioners have left out a portion to the south which has full community of interest with the rest of my electorate. I mean Tamworth, which has been cut off. From the stand-point of want of community of interest, I have ground for complaining of the way in which my constituency has been redistributed, although I know that the people who have been included within it will treat me well. My chief objection to this redistribution scheme is that under it the country districts of New South Wales would be deprived of two representatives. This scheme simply means greater concentration, and the placing of more power in the hands of the people of Sydney. As long as I am a member of this House, I shall always protest against the domination of the country by the city.
– I was one of those who voted for the last scheme submitted by the Commissioners. I did so because 1 recognised the difficulties with which the Commissioners were confronted, and also because that scheme preserved the existing representation of the country districts of the State. I failed to see how the Commissioners could increase, as they had to do, the number of electors in EdenMonaro without cutting into a large portion of my electorate, and also into the electorate of Werriwa. It appeared to me, therefore, that, although 1 should suffer under that scheme, the Commissioners had made as fair a distribution as was possible in the circumstances. I have always held the opinion that the country should be fairly represented. I have always recognised the difficulties connected with the representation of country as opposed to city electorates ; but it comes to me rather as a surprise to learn that an honorable member of the Labour party should be urging the special representation of the country as against the large centres of population, in view of the fact that the Labour party have always endeavoured to lead the electors to believe that they, above all others, support the principle of one man one vote, and one vote one value. I am going to support this scheme, as I supported the last, because I think that under it the Commissioners have given expression, as far as possible, to the principle of one man one vote and one vote equal value. It goes nearer than does any other to the observance of that prin ciple. Under it an attempt has been made to equalize the voting strength of the electorates to a greater extent than has hitherto prevailed. The honorable member for Riverina and others have said that the Commissioners have failed to give effect to the requirement of the Act that, as far as possible, community .of interest should be preserved. I agree that every effort should be made, in redistributing the electorates, to observe that principle; but I disagree with those who have said that there is a greater want of community of interest under the scheme now before us than prevails in the electorates as at present constituted, or than existed under the last scheme. By way of example, let me refer to the position of Illawarra. We have along the coast in that constituency the great mining centres and the southern gold-fields of New South Wales. All these are within my electorate, as well as large dairying .districts. Running immediately down the centre of the constituency is the Illawarra dividing range, and no one will say that there is any community of interest between the people on the coast and the residents of Moss Vale, Bowral, Mittagong, Camden, Picton, and other towns on the other side of the dividing range. The constituency, however, has remained as it is at present ever since Federation. The honorable member for New England has also shown that there is a want of community of interest in that electorate. It is for those who object to this scheme, on the ground that it fails to take into account community of interest, to show that it is worse in that respect than is the present distribution. I do not hesitate to say that the constituencies as they stand to-day show a greater want of community of interest than exists in connexion with the redistribution now before us, or would have existed had the last scheme been accepted.
– What community of interest is there between Narrandera and Broken Hill?
– The want of community of interest between Broken Hill and other districts included under this scheme in the electorate of Barrier is certainly apparent ; but there is just as great a want of community of interest in some of the existing electorates. I think that the Minister of Home Affairs, in submitting the motion for the adoption of this scheme, should have indicated what course he intended to pursue. As Minister of Home Affairs in a previous Administration, I had occasion to submit a redistribution scheme, and I recognised that it was my duty, as the responsible Minister, to explain the position, and to give the House some guidance. It is true that this is not a Government matter. I presume that members of the Ministry are free to vote upon it as they please ; but. it is for the Minister who has appointed the Commissioners to tell us whether he agrees or disagrees with their work. In that respect the Minister has failed in his duty.
– Did the honorable member make any explanation when he submitted a scheme of redistribution?
– I did. I gave a full explanation - the report of which covers many pages of Hansard - of the scheme for the redistribution of Western Australia which I submitted to the House. I put the facts before honorable members as plainly as possible.
– But the honorable member’s party voted against them.
– For some reason or other, all my party, with the exception of the honorable member for Darling Downs, did so. The more I see in this Chamber of what goes on in connexion with the redistribution of electorates, no matter what Government may be in power, the more fully convinced I become that the work should be allotted to an absolutely impartial tribunal outside. The honorable member for Wentworth has shown that there is a shroud of mystery enveloping the action of the Minister of Home Affairs. If there is not, why does not the Minister tell us what he proposes to do?
– The honorable member speaks from experience. When he introduced a certain redistribution scheme, the party voted against it.
– I am perfectly frank-
– The honorable member, as an ex-Minister, knows that the only other course open to the Minister is to refer the scheme back to the Commissioners.
– It is the duty of the Minister to tell us whether he agrees or disagrees with the scheme. So far he has not done so. He has simply submitted a formal motion for its adoption. His predecessors, when submitting such a scheme, have always given expression to their opinions, and have asked the House either to accept or reject the scheme.
– The Minister has already asked the House to approve of the scheme.
– He has formally moved its adoption, but has given no reason for his action.
– He desires to save time.
– I do not wish to labour this matter. I only desire to secure for the people of New South Wales a .fair deal.
– I think we are all imbued with the same desire.
– That remains to be determined by the way in which honorable members vote. The honorable member for Wentworth has shown that at the present time some of the Federal electorates in New South Wales comprise many thousands of electors in excess of the number in other constituencies. It would be a disgrace to allow the next general “ election to take place on the existing divisions in New South Wales. We have, on the one hand, the constituency of North Sydney, with 49,000 electors ; whilst, on the other, we have the constituency of the Barrier, with some 22,000 electors. Can any , one contend that in constituencies ranging between these two figures .an election can take place under conditions which will give effect to the principle of one adult one vote, one vote one value? I was under the imprest siOn that honorable members opposite held themselves up as purists in connexion with the political life of the country, and that they would refrain from anything in the shape of gerrymandering to suit their own party purposes. If the forthcoming elec: tions arc to take place on the present distribution there will be every ground for the suggestion of gerrymandering ; and it is in order to give equal voting power, as far as possible, to every man and woman, that I am supporting the .distribution now proposed.
– If the honorable member is not careful, it will be carried.
– I hope it is carried.
– I do not want to see the honorable member commit political suicide,
– I feel quite sure that honorable members opposite are actuated by the best feelings towards me.
– I do not think any hornorable member on this side would like to see the honorable member rejected.
– I am very glad to hear that I have the good-feeling of honorable members opposite. But this is not a question of good-feeling as between honorable members so much. as one of securing for the people proper political representation. I submit that with the constituencies constituted as at present, the people would not be able to secure the representation to which they are entitled if another election took place. It is desirable that we should equalize the constituencies as far as possible within the limits allowed by law, and the proposed distribution would equalize the values of votes in New South Wales more closely than in any other part of the Commonwealth. I hope that before the debate closes the Minister will give us the benefit of the fullest information he has been able to obtain from the officers who are responsible for submitting the present scheme.
.- The principle of equalizing the electorates is all very well in theory, but it works out unfairly to the country constituencies, and as a representative of a country electorate I take this opportunity to enter my most emphatic protest against the principles on which the Commissioners have based their redistribution scheme. The law requires that the Commissioners shall give due consideration to -
But, as is pointed out by the Commissioners, they considered nothing but the quota. They have absolutely ignored their duty to consider the other matters referred to.
– Where do they say that ?
– The honorable member will find the following statement in paragraph 10 -
In the fresh distribution herein proposed your Commissioners have endeavoured to so adjust the boundaries of the divisions as to include in each division a number of electors approximating as closely as practicable to the ascertained quota of 34,657. In so doing it has been found necessary to increase the number of metropolitan divisions by two, and to correspondingly reduce the number of country divisions.’
That is to say the whole object of the Commissioners was to adjust the boundaries so as to include in each division as nearly as possible the ascertained quota of electors. They are allowed by law a margin of 13,800 electors. The quota is 34,657, the maximum 41,580, and the minimum 27,726. The margin is fixed so as to allow of the consideration of diversity of interests in the scattered country districts, but the Commissioners have ignored all such considerations, and have endeavoured to make the electorates as equal as possible in regard to numbers. If the present tendency continues, and the population of our great cities increases by leaps and bounds, our country constituents will be deprived of representation to an increasing degree under every distribution. Even under present conditions the country electorates are becoming so large, and the diversity of interest is becoming so great that it is practically impossible to secure adequate representation. The constituency of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro extends from the border to within 50 or 60 miles of Sydney, and the electorate that I represent extends from the Eden-Monaro electorate in New South Wales to within 58 miles of Melbourne, and it will be practically impossible for representatives of such constituencies to attend to the requirements of those they represent. I heard the representative of a thickly-populated city electorate - who evidently did not know what he was speaking about - say that it was more difficult to represent a city constituency than a country constituency. I would like the honorable member to have some experience in connexion with the representation of my electorate, which is small compared with some of the country constituencies in other States. It is because of the extent to which the interests of sparsely-populated country electorates have been ignored that I enter my strong protest against the principle upon which the Commissioners have formulated their scheme. I am rather surprised to hear some honorable members, who have always been supposed to look after the interests of residents in the country, and who have previously insisted that there should be a smaller number of electors in country than in city electorates, strongly advocate the system of equal representation so far as numbers are concerned. Whilst no doubt this principle is all right in theory, and may be carried out where the people are closely settled, it will work great injury if applied to our scattered country districts.
– It is amusing to hear honorable members opposite crying out that the country electorates are being deprived of representation. Whatever may happen in this respect they must regard themselves as responsible. Under the last redistribution scheme every country electorate was preserved. The Commissioners laid themselves out to preserve intact every country electorate.
– Not intact.
– Yes, as electorates. With this end in view, the Commissioners apparently began the work of redistribution right away in the interior, arid stretched .the whole of the electorates citywards in order to preserve every electorate. Moreover, they, worked on a sufficient margin to .permit of this being done. That is to say, there was a margin of about 7,000 between the highest and the lowest under the last scheme submitted to this House. That scheme was “ turned down “ by my honorable friends, and this very argument of one vote one value was more persistently voiced than any other throughout the whole of the debate both here and elsewhere. I would like to know what the Commissioners could have done but take that decision as their guide, and preserve the principle of one vote one value? What else could they do when this direction came from my honorable friends opposite, who have always made it one of their cardinal election principles? Now that they have obtained their heart’s desire - what they were asking for on the last occasion- they say it is wrong. There is no satisfying my honorable friends. The Commissioners have done exactly what they were asked to do by my honorable friends opposite, and indeed it is hard to see how they could have done anything else. In the first instance they sought to insure that no ‘country seats should be destroyed, and no one could have treated the interior of New South Wales with greater fairness and generosity ; but my honorable friends would have nothing to do with that scheme, and threw it ‘out. ^
– There was a small majority in its favour in this House. It was rejected by the Senate.
– The honorable member says that the Commissioners should have interpreted the small majority in favour of their scheme as an indication that they ought to bring in a new redistribution scheme without destroying any seats in the country, so that it might be in accord with the views of honorable members opposite.
– That is absolutely incorrect. I say that we carried it by a small majority. The honorable member’s statement is a lie.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw ifr, but I object to the statement of the honorable member for Parramatta.
– The honorable member must apologize for having made the remark.
– In accordance with parliamentary practice, I apologize,’, but I think-
– The honorable member may make an explanation afterwards.
– I said that amajority carried it here, but that it was “ turned down “ in another place.
– Will the honorable member consent to Hansard clearing the matter up?
– I hope that you, sir, will permit Hansard to settle this/ difference between us.
– I cannot permit Hansard to do that.
– Not when both the honorable member and myself agree to be bound by it?
– The honorable member may get a copy of the Hansard report.
– That is all I desire. I do not want to do my honorable friend the slightest injustice. I certainly thought it was extraordinary that he should say that the divisions should befixed up so that they would suit my honorable friends opposite.
– I did not saythat.
– That is the impression which 1 gathered from his remark. Of course, if he withdraws it-
– I said that thisHouse carried the last redistributionscheme. and that the Senate turned it down, although it did not affect that” branch of the Legislature.
– And the honorable member said that the way in which’ it got through here - by a majority of onevote should have been an indication tothe Commissioners that my honorablefriends wanted the present electoral divisions preserved in the country with a slight alteration, such as the majority indicated’” by that vote. But to endeavour to satisfy one party or the other in this House is no business of the Commissioners. We must take our chance of being satisfied or dissatisfied: The one thing which they have to do is to obey the instructions which are given to them in the Electoral Act.
– Which they say they have not done.
– Which they say they have done. They say -
In the fresh distribution herein proposed your Commissioners have endeavoured to so adjust the boundaries of the divisions as to include in each division a number of electors, approximating as closely as possible to the ascertained quota of 34,657. In so doing it has been found necessary to increase the number of metropolitan and sub-metropolitan divisions by two, and to correspondingly reduce the number of country divisions.
– Will the honorable member read paragraph 4 of their report?
– Yes. It reads -
In making the proposed distribution, your Commissioners have complied with those provisions of the law which require that-
– Read on.
– I need not quote any more. They say that they have complied with the law.
– Read on.
– Very well. The paragraph continues - the Commissioners shall give duc consideration to -
They say that on each occasion they have endeavoured to keep these interests in mind. They say, in effect, “ Parliament turned down ‘ our last redistribution, not because we did not subscribe to these features so much as because we did not give one vote one value.” Now they have endeavoured to keep these features in mind while giving one vote one value in accordance with the wish of this Parliament. They have interpreted the rejection of the previous scheme as a direction to them whilst preserving other features to give one vote one value.
– I thought that the honorable member argued, not five minutes ago, that they should not accept a direction from this Parliament.
– Not at all. What I said was that they had no right to consider the party effect of what they were doing. The honorable member’s remark,’ which has yet to be cleared up, suggested that they had a right to do so. In my judgment, what is taking place here is the clearest of all indications that this House is not fit to determine this matter at all-. The sooner it is removed from party influences, party predilections, and party interests the better will it be for all concerned, and the better will it be for our reputation.
– Let us go back to one Commissioner-a Judge of the Court.
– I do not want one Commissioner. I am satisfied with three Commissioners. I do not mind very much whether we have one Commissioner or three Commissioners. But we ought to’ have some final authority which is detached from our party interests, so that we may get finality and the requisite authority to back it. I am not so sure that a Judge of the Court would not be the best authority we could get. I would be prepared to have anybody who is capable and disinterested enough to undertake the work without consideration of party interests in this House. My honorable friends opposite have got exactly what they asked for, and yet they do not seem to be satisfied. For myself, I am going to support the recommendations of the Commissioners.. My own impression is that, in some respects, this redistribution is not as wise and useful as was the last. But here it is. We have sent back one scheme which was prepared by the Commissioners. This House spoke in no uncertain way about it. So did the other Chamber. Now the Commissioners have given the House what they were directed to give it, and yet my honorable friends opposite are going to send the scheme back to them again.
– Has not the honorable member’s party ever sent back a redistribution scheme?
– Of course. We sent one back, but it affected only one seat. In the present instance there are twentyseven seats affected. Will my honorable friend tell me when he will be satisfied?’ I do not think he will be satisfied until he gets a redistribution which he thinks will suit his own party down to the ground. My honorable friends opposite must accept the responsibility for depriving the country districts of New South Wales of two seats, because they directed the Commissioners to redistribute its electoral boundaries in a way which compelled them to take two seats from the country and give them to the city. That was unmistakably the argument advanced in both branches of the Legislature on the last occasion, and in obeying that direction the Commissioners have apparently done wrong. It is time this battledore and shuttlecock ceased. It is time that we stopped this consultation of merely party feeling and party interests in the redistribution of the electoral boundaries of the different States. New South Wales apparently is to be the one State which is not to have its electoral inequalities redressed. If this redistribution scheme be rejected we shall go to the country at the next election with huge gaps between some seats and others - one man counting for twice as much as another in the final decision of the people - thus outraging the principle of a Democracy, getting nowhere near a proper redistribution of the electoral strength of the country, and altogether ignoring the democratic voice of the people, which postulates that every man in Australia shall have an equal say in the direction of public affairs If I could see any possibility of securing another redistribution earlyso that it would be of use at the next election, I should not say what I am saying now. But I see no such prospect. This is the final opportunity we shall have of discussing this matter. Again, we have the spectacleof the Minister of Home Affairs sitting dumb as an oyster in regard to this scheme, technically discharging his duty by formally moving its adoption, and then leaving it for the wolves to do just what they please with it. One would imagine that there was something sacrosanct about the Minister from the way in which he brings down these schemes, pitches them on the table, and then goes out of the door. Never has a Minister acted in that way previously. On the contrary, every Minister who has preceded him has stood up to his task, and urged that the redistribution which he has submitted should be adopted. But he will have nothing to do with this scheme. He says, in effect, “ I have technically performed my duty. Here is the scheme. Do what you like with it. ‘ Boot ‘ it out. I have . to bring it forward, or I would not do so.” The way in which he brings forward these proposals is an invitation to the House to reject them. I believe he will be glad if this redistributionis rejected just as the other scheme was rejected. It appears to me that the first redistribution was the only possible one having in view the preservation of country interests and the keeping intact of all the country electorates. On the last occasion the Commissioners went out of their way to achieve the very desirable object of giving the back country all the representation to which it is entitled within the margin of our Electoral Act.
– Why did they run away from it?
– Because this Parliament told them to do so.
– This House adopted the scheme.
– And then honorable members opposite set to work to secure its rejection in another place.
– That is a veritable charnel house.
– I believe it has become so during this Parliament.
-Order! The honorable member must not refer to the Senate in that way.
– Is it not permissible for an honorable member to refer to the action of the other branch of the Legislature towards the last redistribution scheme?
– The honorable member must not discuss any action of the
– All I know is that it frequently discusses our actions. If it let us alone, I should not mind. But in connexion with the last redistribution it actually undid what we had done, although it did not concern it a bit. On that occasion its members embraced the opportunity to discuss my electorate, and to drag my name into the debate. Now the Speaker rules that we must regard the Senate as something sacred, though evidently the Senate does not attach any notions of sanctity to us. However, I think, Mr. Speaker, that you will not rule that I must not refer to the Senate’s action in throwing out this scheme, because” that is what has brought it before this House.
– The honorable member knows that he must not discuss’ the Senate.
– I wish to express my opinion that this scheme ought to be carried in order to remove the disabilities under which we in New South Wales suffer at present, and which constitutes an outrage on democratic principles ; otherwise the people will be unable to express their feelings in the way that. has been permitted in all the other States. I have yet to learn why New South Wales should be singled out for treatment of this kind when every other State has had its disabilities reviewed and redressed. Something ought to be done, and this scheme appears to me to suggest the only method, although there is much in it to criticise, and much, I frankly admit, with which I do not personally agree, and which I do not understand. In the case of my own electorate, I could have arranged it much better than it has been arranged by the Commissioners on this second occasion. I remember the honorable member for Nepean, when the first scheme was before us, suggesting that the fruit and farming district of Hawkesbury should be put into the .Nepean electorate ; and this has been done in the scheme now before us, only to a greater degree than then suggested. The electorate has been pulled right out of shape in order to get a huge industrial centre tacked on to the farming and fruit-growing district.
– Does the honorable member not agree with that?
– Does the honorable member agree with it? He did not agree when less was proposed in the last scheme, but fulminated against it in the House. Now, however, that the whole thing has been arranged in such, a way as to give him “ a leg in,” he sits as silent as the sphinx - not a word do we hear about any want of community of interests between two sections of the same electorate. I fancy that the honorable member has been making recommendations in connexion with the redistribution. The singular thing is that if we get the Parramatta newspaper of a week or two ago we can see a paragraph foreshadowing the very distribution that has taken place, and that paragraph is headed, “ Cann versus Cook.” At any rate, there Have been some prophets about who are pretty good at guessing.
– There are a number of prophets in Parramatta !
– And also out of Parramatta, apparently. Indeed, I think that a prophet is talking to me now. At any rate, the honorable member for Nepean has got what he desired in this scheme, and it suits him, however it may not suit others.
No doubt we could all criticise the scheme, pull it to pieces, and evolve a better one for ourselves if we were permitted ; but I doubt if we could get a scheme which, on the whole, would fit the interests of New South Wales in the same way as the last scheme did. In that scheme, community of interest was studied, although that may not have been so in one or two instances. However, nothing human is perfect, especially in a redistribution scheme, when there is a wide and diversified area to manipulate and apportion. On the whole, as I have said, the last scheme was the best, consistent with the requirements of the Act, to preserve intact all the country seats ; but it was flung out by my honorable friends opposite. Why that was done, I do not know. They never told us, and I have never seen a scheme rejected for less adequate reasons. There was not a weighty argument addressed to the question during the whole time we were considering it; much more argument has been applied to this, and I dare say with greater reason. But what are we to do? If we throw out this scheme, we shall get no other, ‘and shall have to be content with the old electorates. We would not be justified, in my judgment, in casting this proposal, which represents our only chance, to the winds, and permitting the present electoral disabilities to remain ; and, therefore, with all its faults, the scheme will have my support.
.- The remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta should not be permitted to pass without comment. Those remarks would have come more appropriately from any other member in the House but himself, and he should be the last person to utter such sentiments. He has assumed an attitude of lofty principle, and taken a stand on the high ground of ethics in regard to the position of the Minister of Home Affairs and of some members of the Labour party. I do not know anything of the pros and cons of the case, but take it that the members from New South Wales are the most intimately conversant with the situation. The honorable member for Parramatta takes the objection that this redistribution ought to be left in the hands of the Commissioners, and that Parliament ought to have nothing to say. Well, the honorable member was at one time a Minister of the Crown, but he never took any action in that’ direction ; on the contrary, he presented a spectacle never presented, I should say, in any Parliament in the’ Empire. If I remember rightly, it was the honorable member and the members of his Government who left their own Minister . stranded hopelessly. They thought they were going to lose a seat in Western Australia, and, to preserve their own party, they let their own Minister go on the rocks. That was an ignoble position for a Government to’ occupy, and yet the honorable member has the audacity to stand up here to-night and speak as though people had no memories. However, honorable members will doubtless vote as they think fit, and, in any case, this Ministry will not present to the Chamber and the country such a spectacle as was presented by the honorable member for Parramatta and his colleagues.
– How will the honorable member vote?
– I have no intention at this stage of the session to occupy time over this or any other question, and when I record my vote I shall be able to satisfy the curiosity of the honorable member for Wentworth.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Parramatta is quite correct in saying that the Commissioners took their instructions from this House, for, had that been so, they would have kept closer to the redistribution they first submitted. So far as I can remember, the criticism on the last occasion was mainly caused by the fact that the provision of the Act in regard to the consideration of community and diversity of interests had not been strictly adhered to. On that occasion, I pointed particularly to Werriwa and one or two other electorates where the division seemed to run counter to this -first principle laid down. I intimated that I thought the distribution was one that met all the conditions generally ; but that in some minor details there were faults, which it would be possible to remedy without recasting the whole scheme. At the same time, I supported the proposal because I did not care to take the risk of sending the distribution scheme back, and, perhaps, getting one with which I agreed much less. The present position fully bears out my judgment on that occasion, because the scheme now before us is one of which I approve much less than I did the first one, with all its defects. While I agree that the electorates should, as nearly as possible, have equal voting strength, and should represent living men and women in preference to acres or trees, some regard must be paid to country interests. We have had Federation for less than twelve years, and in that time there have been three distributions in New South Wales, including the one before us. If we adopt the present scheme, it will mean that, as compared with the first division, we shall have sacrificed no 0 fewer than four country electorates, with a corresponding gain to the cities. In the redistribution of 1906, Canoblas, which I represented in the first Parliament, and Bland, which was represented by Mr. J. C. Watson, were cut out, and the new electorate of Calare was formed. The State gained a seat by increased population, and the effect of the redistribution was to give two seats to the cities, namely, Cook and Parramatta. The scheme before us proposes to practically repeat that - the country divisions of Riverina and Macquarie being thrown into other divisions, and two fresh city divisions - Botany and Lane Cove - being created. If the Commissioners took instructions from the Parliament at all, they took them from the Senate, where the point insisted on was the need for equal voting power in the divisions. This proposed distribution gives as complete expression to that principle as is possible, the divisions being as nearly as practicable equal in voting power, though the ‘result is the disfranchisement of the country to some extent, and the increasing of th representation of the congested metropolis. In the country, long distances have to be travelled by candidates to canvass the electors, and by members to get into touch with their constituents, and by electors to get into touch with their representatives. Some allowance should be made for this fact, due regard being had to the basic principle of equal representation. The first distribution proposed went as near as possible to meeting these conditions without the cutting out of any country divisions, and it recognised the quota. With a- small re-adjustment of boundaries to secure community of interest, that distribution would have gone further towards securing general approval in country districts than this now before us. But, as the result of the census, all the other States have now been redistributed, and New South Wales should be brought into line with them. Could I convince myself of the possibility of returning this scheme to the Commissioners, and of get- ting from them, and adopting before the end of the session, a better scheme, I would vote against the motion of the Minister, but, as I fear that if we reject this proposal New South Wales will be left with its present divisions, I shall vote for the motion.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … 6
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Section 34 of the Bills of Exchange Act provides that -
A holder in due course is a holder who has taken a bill, complete and regular on the face of it, under the following conditions, namely : -
That he became the holder of it before it was overdue, and without notice that it had previously been dishonoured if such was the fact; or
That he took the Bill in good faith and for value, and that at the time the bill was negotiated to him he had no notice of any defect in the title of the person who negotiated it.
The conditions expressed in paragraphs a and b ought not to be alternative, and the Bill amends the Act by substituting the word “ and “ for the word “or.”
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Amendment of section 34).
.- I looked into this matter when the Bill was introduced, and I am satisfied that the amendment is a right one to make. To my mind, the error is a typographical one rather than a mistake in drafting. I remember a somewhat learned dissertation in one of the books dealing with bills of exchange as to why the alteration was made by the Commonwealth,but, so far as I can recollect, the author has not solved the point up to this very day.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted, and Bill, by leave, read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The chief object of this Bill is to safeguard, not only the public health, but the health of immigrants. The present Immigration Restriction Act, under which alone the Government has power to prohibit the landing of diseased persons’ in Australia, has proved to be quite inadequate. Its inadequacy has been specially marked whilst the present Government have been in office, owing to the large stream of immigrants that has been pouring into the Commonwealth. The purpose of this measure is a fourfold one. In the first place, it is to prevent the introduction of persons who might communicate disease to others ; secondly, it is to prevent the introduction of persons likely to become a burden upon the State ; thirdly, it is designed to prevent the introduction of persons who, although not likely to become a burden upon the State, are possessed of defects which, they are liable to transmit to their offspring; and, finally, the Bill is intended to minimize the risk of danger to immigrants by lessening the possibility of their having to spend many weeks in close contact with persons suffering from disease. Under the existing law considerable difficulty has arisen. Immigrants now coming to Australia may be divided into two classes - those who pay the whole of their passage money and those who are assisted by a State Government. It is the practice of State Governments to require those whom they assist to come to Australia to undergo a medical examination before leaving the port of embarkation, but those who come here unassisted - those who pay their own passage money - undergo practically no medical examination whatever. The only examination to which they are subjected, if they travel by an immigrant ship, is a sort of medical examination, made in accordance with the requirements of the Board of Trade, as they are passing on board. That practically is really not a medical examination. We purpose establishing a Medical Bureau in England, and every person leaving Great Britain for Australia, no matter in what class he travels, will have, on arrival, to produce the certificate of a doctor in the country from which he comes.
– Is the Bureau to have officers in the different ports?
– It is our intention to have doctors in various ports of Great Britain, who will be nominated by the medical officer in charge of the Bureau, and it will be necessary for any person coming to Australia from Great Britain to obtain a certificate from one of those doctors. It is not our intention to establish a depot at the port of departure where intending immigrants to Australia must be examined, because we think it is only fair that, before a man breaks up his home with the intention of coming to Australia, he should undergo a local examination, so that if he is medically unfit he will not be subjected to any hardship. A certificate obtained from the local medical officer will be prima facie evidence of his fitness to land here. It is further provided, however, that it shall be necessary for the doctor on board to personally examine every passenger, whilst they will also be examined when they arrive here. Whilst a person may obtain a certificate of health from a doctor before he leaves Great Britain, and may also pass the medical examination on board ship, we hold ourselves free to return him whence he comes if the medical officer in Australia does not pass him. We think it desirable to provide for a medical examination before an intending emigrant leaves Great Britain for Australia, because if, on arrival here, he were found to be suffering from a disease, the sending of him back might involve some hardship. We retain to ourselves the right to take that action, even if an immigrant passes the examination at Home and the examination on board, but fails to pass the medical examination on arrival in Australia. At the same time, we feel sure that of those who pass the first two examinations very few will have to be returned when they reach Australia. This Bill is urgent, because we find that the percentage of unassisted immigrants coming to Australia is becoming greater than the percentage of assisted immigrants. I am sure we are all glad that that is so. Until some twelve months ago, the percentage of assisted immigrants was higher than the percentage of unassisted immigrants, so that the greater number of those coming here had undergone some medical examination before they left Great Britain. During last year, however, 51 per cent, of those coming here were not assisted, whilst the remaining 49 per cent, were assisted by the States, so that the greater percentage of the people now landing in Australia have undergone practically no examination whatever before embarking. I am speaking now of those who come from Great Britain. Some immigrants are also coming to Australia from the Continent of Europe; but as the proportion is comparatively small, we do not propose at present to establish a medical bureau save in England, although we shall have power under this Bill to establish bureaux ‘in other countries.
– What is to be done in regard to immigrants coming down from the East?
– I am dealing at present with those coming from European countries. We require that those coming from countries other than Great Britain shall produce the certificate of the ship’s medical officer. They will, of course, run a greater risk of being returned when they arrive here than will those who undergo the preliminary medical examination in the country from which they come. If at any time a large stream of immigrants should set in from any European country other than Great Britain, it will be open to us to establish a medical bureau there. As to Eastern countries, Asiatic immigrants are prohibited.
– A certain number of Russians are coming down from the East.
– Those who are not prohibited immigrants must produce a certificate from the medical officer on board.
– Are the Government taking power in that respect?
– They are. Every person coming to Australia from Great Britain must produce the certificate of a doctor in the Old Country, and also the certificate of the ship’s doctor; while those who come from any other country will have at least to produce the certificate of the medical officer on board, and to undergo examination on “arrival. The provision as to the certificate of the ship’s doctor is necessary, because a person might pass the medical examination before embarking, and yet develop a disease on the voyage out. There is only one provision to which I desire to specially direct the attention of the House, and that is sub-clause 5 of clause 4, under which we provide that the fee paid by an intending immigrant for a certificate of health shall be refunded to him on his being allowed to enter the Commonwealth. I intend «to move the omission of that sub-clause. It was inserted by me under the impression that the States were refunding to every immigrant the amount paid by him for a medical certificate ; but I find that that practice is not being followed.
– Has the honorable member any idea of the fee that is usually paid?
– We intend to provide that the fee shall not exceed 5s.
– That is a big fee in England. A fee of 2s. 6d. should be sufficient.
– We sent a cablegram to the High Commissioner inviting his opinion on the question, and received a reply that 5s. would be a reasonable fee to fix. However,- we intend to make that the maximum, so that doctors appointed by us will not be permitted to charge more than 5s. It is also provided in the Bill that members of the crews of ships coming to Australia, who ai the present time are permitted to land merely because they are members of crews, may be prevented from landing if the doctors certify that they are suffering from any contagious disease. Then, again, in the case of Chinese members of crews, who now have the right to land, although we do not take away that right we require that before the men land the captain must provide us with some means of easy identification. I am sorry to say that there are a good many members of ships’ crews who suffer from contagious diseases, and it is only right that we should have the power to quarantine such men on their ships. I have explained practically the whole of the provisions of the Bill.
– What is the meaning of the provision with respect to identification ?
– I have just explained that, so far as Chinese are concerned, before they are allowed to land, the captain will be required to furnish some means of easy identification.
.- At a mere cursory glance it is difficult to ascertain what is the real scope of the Bill. But I am afraid that the Minister is going a little further than is necessary in regard to the scrutiny of immigrants. He has very largely widened the definition of what I may call “ disease “ for the purposes of the Immigration Act, and has left a great deal to the discretion of the officers. It seems to me that we are going altogether too far. I have read a good deal about eugenics, but what I have to say I utter with bated breath, because if there is one subject upon which a man may be open to criticism by so-called experts it is the subject of eugenics. So far as my reading has gone, it seems to me that we should not hasten too rapidly in the direction in which the Bill appears to go. Although scarcely the threshold of scientific discussion in regard to eugenics had been reached, the Imperial Government rushed in with a Bill which was regarded as a material advance upon all previous measures, but which, when it came to be dealt with in the House of Commons, was in respects amended out of recognition. Following on the same idea, it appears to me that we have now before us a measure which is intended to exclude from the Commonwealth, not only those affected by disease, but those affected by any unsoundness that may be transmitted to their offspring. The discretion as to where the line shall be drawn is left very much to the medical man, and in some cases will rest upon an officer of Customs. Do we mean that this should be the case? Our present law provides that -an idiot or imbecile may be excluded; but it is now proposed to extend the scope of that provision to embrace a “ feeble-minded person.” One could scarcely walk down Bourke-street without meeting, in the opinion of some, a “ feebleminded person,” or “defective” within the meaning of this Bill.
– Such as bookmakers.
– Possibly, half the members of this House regard those who are politically opposed to them as feeble-minded persons. In the next paragraph it is provided that any person suffering from “ a serious transmissible disease or defect “ may be excluded. Now what is a defect? The grades of human intelligence range from i to 100 in probably every thousand persons in the community.
– Thirty-three per cent, of the pupils in the Edinburgh schools are reported to be suffering from ear, nose or throat troubles.
– Nature itself gradually makes for the restoration to the normal or the mean. If this were not so, human society could not be held together, and the race would gradually die out. There is continuous fighting going on towards the mean. The provisions in the Bill are so drastic and far-reaching that very few of us would care to be an immigrant, and have our mental capacity, or our capacity for transmitting some serious defect, left absolutely to the decision of a Customs, or even a medical, officer. Then, again, it is provided that “ any person suffering from any mental or physical defect “ may be excluded. If is further provided “ that any person suffering from any disability or disqualification which is prescribed “ may be excluded. Does this mean a physical disability or disqualification? All these matters are to be left to the discretion of an officer, and Parliament will not, except through regulations, be permitted to exercise any check whatever. Any efforts in the direction of protecting our population against the lowering of its physical vitality is to be commended; but the draftsman has gone too far in including within the provisions of the Bill all sorts of defects, some of which are common to average persons one meets in the street. I shall be very pleased to hear what the honorable member for Melbourne has to say with regard to this matter, because I know that, apart from his experience as a medical man, he has given a great deal of consideration to the subjects dealt with in the Bill. All I can do, under the circumstances, is to suggest that we should exercise reasonable precautions. I am inclined to think that.it is proposed to go too far. According to my reading, where defects such as those mentioned in the Bill exist, the vitality of the people is not so great, but nature, in her unerring way, rectifies the evils we are seeking to remedy by legislation. In one line Max Nordau has shattered the ex cathedra statements of some so-called experts in dealing with these matters. In endeavouring to exclude those who ought not to be admitted, the Minister is going entirely beyond the bounds of reasonable necessity. I would like to know whether these provisions have been taken from legislation passed in other parts of the world.
– Canada and the United States of America work on the same lines.
– I should like to know whether all these grounds of exclusion have been adopted in Canada. I admit that I have not had time to examine Canadian legislation, and all I can do is to utter a word of caution to the House not to rush into scare legislation of this class without a thorough knowledge of its scope.
.- I did not expect this Bill to be brought on to-night. Although I agree with much that has been said by the honorable member for Angas, I am pleased that the Government have introduced the measure. If the Bill were to be taken literally, scarcely 5 per cent, of the population of Australia would be eligible as immigrants. There is no doubt that our policy should be to make Australia an example to the world in the matter of health, both mental and physical. But we must proceed circumspectly. I would much prefer to see provision made for the appointment of an expert surgeon in England who would be able to give us the latest and fullest in- formation in regard to the treatment of diseases of a contagious character. I believe that for £1,000 per annum we should be able to command the services of an Australian medical expert of the highest class, who would probably be better fitted for the post than would an English medical man. We should select as out medical representative and adviser in England a man of energy, who would keep himself posted as to the latest cures in connexion with such diseases as consumption, so that he might at the earliest possible moment make such cures available to our own people. In regard, also, to the red plague, which is referred to in the Bill, our medical officer in England could follow up the latest developments of science in Germany, France, and the United States of America. t should like an assurance from the Minister in regard to his powers in respect to individuals who may be suffering from curable diseases. Judging from a hasty glance through the Bill, I consider that we are not giving a fair chance to men who may be suffering from temporary illness. We are not showing them the same consideration that we now give to a horse, a cow, or a dog, and an assurance from the Minister that he would be in a position to order into quarantine a person suffering from temporary illness, so that he might be afforded opportunities for treatment and recovery, would greatly relieve my mind.
– I would go so far as to say that if the Quarantine Act does not provide for it we shall provide for it in this Bill.
– I know that the Minister is in thorough sympathy with me. Of course, medical men sometimes make mistakes. According to Playfair’s Midwifery, which is a standard work throughout the world, had it not been for the want of surgical knowledge_ of the then greatest surgeon of the day, ‘when attending the Princess Charlotte, Queen Victoria would never have come to the Throne. That is why I want a certain amount of control to be exercised by the laity in this matter. We know that in Germany the germs of cancer were actually planted in the breasts of women in order to see if they would grow. That could not happen in any hospital in which the laity have full control. We know, too, that in the . university at Vienna what is known as the “red plague” has been planted in innocent patients in order that students might see its results. Conse quently I urge that the laity should have some control in this matter. I presume that that control would be exercised under the High Commissioner. If in the future we are to bring to Australia emigrants who will prove good citizens, mentally and physically, LL think we ought to employ our own steamers to convey our produce to the Old Country, and to bring back desirable immigrants to people our empty north. If that course were adopted the doctor on board would have full control, and during the long sea voyage no disease could escape him.
– Many of these poor immigrants have never had a chance to become strong.
– My heart goes out to them. The misery I saw in London, Belfast, and Liverpool is such that it places a stigma on the English race. I saw nothing like the wretchedness that prevailed there in any of the other European kingdoms which I visited. I welcome this Bill. I am sure that the Minister strongly desires to make the measure one which will reflect credit on Australia.
– Nobody can find fault with the Minister of External Affairs for endeavouring to do what he can to prevent Australia being burdened unduly by those who are affected with permanent disease which is likely to inflict injury upon our own people. But in this Bill an absolute prohibition is imposed upon a certain class of persons. The principal Act was framed with a due regard to the public weal. It provides -
The immigration into the Commonwealth of the persons described in any of the following paragraphs of this section (hereinafter called “prohibited immigrants”) is prohibited.
Then it enumerates the class of persons who come within that category. But the; provisions of this Bill are very much more stringent. The wording of some of them follows closely certain sections of the Canadian Act. Paragraph b of section 3 of the principal Act imposes a prohibition upon - any person likely, in the opinion of the Minister or of an officer to become a charge upon the public or upon any public or charitable institu-. lion.
Under this Bill that provision will be eliminated, and paragraph c of the principal Act will be considerably altered. The corresponding clauses in the Canadian Act relate to idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, epileptics, insane persons, and persons who have been insane within five years previous. But that Act contains the humane provision which has been suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne. It imposes a prohibition upon - persons afflicted with any loathsome disease, or with a disease which is contagious or infectious, or which may become dangerous to the public health, whether such persons intend to settle in Canada or only to pass through Canada in transit to some other country ; provided that if such disease is one which is curable within a reasonably short time, such persons may subject to the regulations in that behalf, if any, be permitted to remain on board ship if hospital facilities do not exist on shore or to leave ship for medical treatment.
Generally speaking, that provision deals with diseases which are liable to spread and to do injury to the community. But what we are dealing with is not the ordinary quarantinable disease, but another disease entirely. Seeing that a person suffering from some such ailment is absolutely prohibited from landing in Australia, I think that the Minister ought to introduce some such humane provision as has been suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne. Then paragraph / of clause 3 of this Bill imposes a prohibition upon - any person suffering from any other disease or mental or physical defect, which from its nature is, in the opinion of an officer, liable to render the person concerned a charge upon the public or upon any public or charitable institution.
What is the meaning of the words “ mental or physical defect “ ? The provision seems to imply that a prohibition will be imposed upon a person who is blind or dumb.
– The Minister can exclude any person who is blind now.
– But I do not think that Australians would object to a blind person being admitted if he or she had means of support. If a family desired to come to Australia, and one of the children belonging to it happened to be blind, we would not desire to exclude that child. In Canada the prohibition applies to immigrants who are dumb, blind, or otherwise physically affected - unless in the opinion of a board of inquiry or officer acting as such they have sufficient money, or have such profession, occupation, trade, employment, or other legitimate mode of earning a living that they are not likely to become_ a public charge or unless- they belong to a family accompanying them or already in Canada, and which gives security satisfactory to the Minister against such immigrant becoming a public charge.
I know that the Minister desires to surround our immigration laws with as humane conditions as possible, and it would be worth his while to see if he cannot tone down such absolute prohibitions as may cause inhumane treatment. Of course, we are dealing with immigration restriction, and it is wiser to let certain persons know from the beginning that it is not possible for them to enter Australia. It is quite right to take action as soon as possible, so that persons may not unnecessarily be put to the expense of coming here.
– The honorable member will realize, as an ex-Minister of External Affairs, how hard it is to refuse some applications.
– I quite agree with the Minister, but at present I am considering more particularly the unfortunate immigrant.
– A doctor in England would prevent a number of such persons coming.
– And possibly keep out a number who are undesirable. Immigration has, of course, been increasing of late years.
– Does “immigrant “ include all persons who come here?
– It includes all persons, but the immigrant we have in mind is the one who comes here, not on a pleasure trip, but intending to reside here permanently.
– Would this Bill exclude a consumptive coining here on a trip ?
– The Minister would have the right, to absolutely block any person suffering from consumption.
– The Minister has that power now. Unless some one guarantees the personal expenses of the consumptive immigrant, he cannot be allowed! to land, and there have been one or two very hard cases.
– This is a matter with which there are serious difficulties connected. Many people suffering from consumption are advised to come here on account of our climatic conditions, with a view to recovering; and it is a serious matter, and almost inhuman, to exclude them altogether. One of the first members of this Parliament left the shores of England thinking that he was coming here to find an early grave, but the climate was so suitable that he lived to a ripe old age, and became one of the most respected members of the Legislature. The object of the measure should not be to exclude altogether such person.’) who come here, under proper conditions, with a view to recovery, but if they are allowed to come, every precaution should be taken to prevent the spread of disease. Many infected people have gone to Roma, in Queensland, and many wonderful recoveries are recorded, but there was lack of regulation and supervision, which contained its own menace, and which we do not desire to see repeated.
– The State Governments complain that such consumptives became chargeable on the public funds.
– We should be careful to see that they do not become chargeable, and particularly that they do not spread disease. We cannot be too careful in this regard. In 1910, there were 95,692 arrivals, and 58,145 departures; in 1911, there were 141,409 arrivals, and 64,206 departures ; and for the ten months of 1912 there have been 136,435 arrivals and 60,554 departures. That shows a steady stream of people who are intending to make Australia their home. In New South Wales, up to the 31st October last, 12,455 nominated and selected immigrants arrived, for which the State is responsible; in Victoria., to the same date, 9,479 arrived ; in Queensland, to the 30th September, 5,177 ; in South Australia, to the 31st October, 1,901 ; and in Western Australia, to the 31st October, 6,169.
– Do all these pass medical examinations ?
– Those who are not assisted do not pass an examination.
– The figures I have read refer to assisted immigrants, for which the States are responsible. I always consider that the control of entry into Australia is a purely Commonwealth matter, and it is highly advisable to have one inspecting power, which should be the Commonwealth.
– We have received communications from New South Wales and Victoria expressing pleasure at the introduction of this Bill.
– It is better to have one uniform system which will give greater efficiency, and, at the same time, prove better for the people in the Old Country, who will know that there is a common standard with which they must comply. This is intended as an Immigration Restriction Bill, and I hope that the next measure will be an Immigration Encouragement Bill, so that we may have a healthy flow of immigrants into Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Ik Committee :
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Amendment of section 3).
.- Will the Minister consider the question raised by the honorable member for Darling Downs of amending the Bill so as to bring it into line with the Canadian Act? There is a difference between the first generation and the second, as any one may see travelling through Australia ; and without an amendment the Bill might work hardly in the case of a family of small means who desire to come to Australia, and who might prove a credit to the Commonwealth. A man and wife might come here with five or six children, all of whom were healthy except, perhaps, one or two.
– I shall see that there is a provision made in the direction suggested. I may say that, up to the present, I have adopted the course which the honorable member would desire. Various cases have come under my notice in which a family of three or four children are all right in regard to health, and only one child diseased ; and as a refusal would mean that the whole family would have to remain in England, I have admitted them. Of course, if there is only the father and mother, and one diseased child, they have not been allowed to come in.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 -
After section 3 of the principal Act the following sections are inserted : -
Amendment (by Mr. Thomas) agreed to.
That proposed section 5 be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Regulations).
– This clause empowers the Governor-General to make regulations; and I should like to know whether there is any definition of the words “ pulmonary tuberculosis “ referred to in clause 3. I suppose the reason this is provided for is that it is well known to be a communicable disease. Will it be possible for the Minister to determine that a person is suffering from tubercular disease? The word “pulmonary “ covers the lungs and their appendages; but there are other portions of the respiratory tract which may be affected with tuberculosis, causing as great a risk of infection as an affection of the lungs.
– You think that something should be added?
– Certainly. The evident reason for the inclusion of pulmonary tuberculosis is the communicability of that disease by the ejection of sputum capable of conveying it; and should the disease occur anywhere from the nose down to the lungs, disease germs may be spread in this manner.
– I shall submit what the honorable member has said to our medical adviser, and, if necessary, amend the clause.
.- I wish to know whether the prohibition of certain immigrants mentioned in clause 3 is mandatory on the Minister, or will he have the right under the regulations which this clause entitles him to make to allow, say, a man who has been sentenced on conviction to imprisonment for a year, to enter the Commonwealth before five years have elapsed since the termination of the imprisonment ?
– The Minister will be obliged to prohibit such a man from entering the Commonwealth.
– I think that he should have some discretion in the matter. There are cases in which men have perhaps embezzled under great temptation, and after having served their term of imprisonment may desire to make a fresh start away from the scene of their fall. The circumstances of individual cases might very well be taken into consideration, and where the general character of the immigrant is good,
I do not think we should close our doors against him.
– There is no law preventing merciful administration.
– The Minister says that it will be mandatory to prohibit such a man as I speak of from entering the Commonwealth until five years after the expiration of his sentence.
– The prohibition will break down if we relax the law.
– We should, of course, endeavour to prevent members of the criminal classes from coming here, but it should be possible for the Minister to take extenuating circumstances into consideration. I understood the Minister to say that he has discretion in regard to immigrants who are imbecile, or diseased persons who are members of a family.
– No. I said that I would consider the advisability of drafting an amendment to give the Minister discretion in dealing with such cases.
– I ask the Minister to take this matter into consideration also.
– I shall see whether it is necessary to recommit the Bill to meet the case referred to.
.- The definition of “officer” in the Act includes any person appointed by the Minister, who may not be a medical man ; but I take it that the officer referred to in this clause is an officer of the kind mentioned in clause 4, that is, a medical officer. If the word covers any person appointed by the Minister, it might be left to a policeman to determine whether an intending immigrant shall be allowed to enter the Commonwealth.
– The Government would have to be consulted in any case.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment ; report adopted.
Prosecution of Cadets. - Replies to Questions.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed-
That this House do now adjourn.
.- In the absence of the Honorary Minister, representing the Minister of Defence, I draw the attention of. the Prime Minister to the fact that, although it is three weeks since I asked for particulars in regard to the prosecution of twenty-one boys in my district, each of whom was called upon to pay £11s. for legal expenses, notwithstanding the statement that an instruction had been issued that legal assistance was not to be employed in these prosecutions, I have not yet received a reply. Is the Department of Defence short-handed, or is it run by imbeciles, that it cannot answer such simple questions more speedily? Will the Prime Minister obtain a reply?
.- The matter mentioned by the honorable member for South Sydney affects me, too. I brought it under notice at the time, and wrote to the Department about it, receiving an acknowledgment of my letter. We should receive replies from the Defence Department more expeditiously. A young man named Cook, who was fined £5 at Newtown, made up his drills, and it was decided that thefine should be refunded. That was settled by the Defence Department, and the matter was referred to the Attorney-General, but for four or five months it has been, like Mahomet’s coffin, in mid-air. No business house would tolerate such a delay as has occurred. The Commonwealth is not hard up, and can afford to pay for any extra assistance that may be required by any Department. It is intolerable that the completion of a mere formal matter should be deferred for months. I ask the Prime Minister if he will see that something is done to expedite the settlement of this case, and to obtain quicker replies to questions ? I do not like worrying Ministers, but our constituents worry us, and there is no justification for the interminable delays which now occur.
– I shall see to the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.43p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 December 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121210_reps_4_69/>.