5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Before calling on formal business, I wishto mention that, as it was stated yesterday that the division bell has not been ringing in the garden, I have obtained a report from the assistant-engineer, who informs me that the division bells of the House of Representatives were ringing on the night of the 22nd May, and that he distinctly heard the garden bell ring when the division was taken between 9 and 10 o’clock p.m. He says that his statement will be corroborated, if necessary, by one of the library attendants, who also heard the bell. Realizing that atmospheric conditions might affect the ringing of the garden bell from time to time, I have in structed the engineer to keep a careful note of the condition of the bell, and to supply a bell of stronger timbre than that in use at present.
.- I shall be glad, sir, if you and tbe House will allow me to make a statement concerning the mace.
– I wish to eay that I am entirely responsible for the removal of tbe mace and the placing of it under a seat in this chamber. I assure you that in removing the mace I had no intention of trying to lower the prestige of your position, or of insulting you or any member of the House. Acting in a spirit of frivolity, which I admit is quite out of place in a serious-minded politician, I removed the mace. Perhaps I have nob sufficient respect for the mace. These outward forms and ceremonies do not appeal to me asthey do to honorable members who come-
Honorable Members. - Do not spoil it.
– Let him make his own statement.
– He is expressing his own opinion.
– They do not appeal to me as they do to honorable gentlemen who come from older countries, where the mace is regarded as a symbol of authority. However, I consider myself entirely to blame in the matter, and apologize to you and to the House for what I did.
– I am sure that the House appreciates the manliness of the honorable member’s statement. I, personally, am very glad that he has removed one of the reasons for a motion which I now ask leave to put before the House.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Prime Minister have leave?
– Shouldwe not know what is to be proposed before we grant leave?
– I take it that the motion refers to the subject under discussion.
– I wish to make a statement.
– The Government have considered this matter very carefully during the interval between yesterday’s sitting and this morning, and have arrived at the conclusion that it should be investigated by the House itself. One reason for an inquiry has been removed, but there remain other serious matters. When there is taken from the chamber a book which is peculiarly the property of the Speaker, who is the servant of the House, the discharge of his duties are interfered with in a very serious way, and that can never be for the benefit of the House as a whole. There is also the interference with the property of the House, an investigation into which I think necessary. I know of no better tribunal for the making of an investigation than a Committee of the House, composed of an equal number of members selected from each side. The investigation’ of such a body would clear the matter up, or, at any rate, would finalize it by a report to the House. Without further comment, I ask leave to propose the following motion: -
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the improper removal from the chamber of Mr. Speaker’s copy of May’s Parliamentary Practice, with Mr. Speaker’s notes in connexion therewith, and the abstraction of such notes, the interference with the keys of certain doors in the chamberand precincts, and other disorderly proceedings; such Committee to consist of Mr. Archibald, Mr. Charlton, Mr. Sampson, and Mr. Bruce Smith, with power to send for persons, papers, and records, to report the evidence from time to time, and to have leave to sit during the sittings of the House.
I have selected the names of four members who, I think, might suitably be chosen for the investigation, but it is for the House to say who shall serve.
– What about the locking of doors outside? That should be inquired into.
.- May I make a statement?
– I entirely agree with the proposal of the Prime Minister, but suggest that, instead of moving the motion to-day, he should move it tomorrow. He would have my support in moving for a Committee, but I think that it would be well to delay the consideration of this matter. I am sure that I speak for my friends on this aide.
– I appreciate the spirit of the suggestion of the right honorable member, and accordingly give notice of the motion for to-morrow, to take precedence of other business.
– May I make a statement ?
– I think that this is the proper moment for me to state that it has come to my ears that a member of the press in the gallery has been accused of seeing the whole performance that has been spoken of. I have made one or two inquiries, and I do not believe that any member of the press would be a sneak, a spy, and a cur in a matter of this kind.
– In the light of the splendid report which I read yesterday, would it be possible for the Postmaster-General to put Mr. Gasman, of Chicago, into the Postal Department of Australia at a reasonable salary?
– Personally, I would like to see Mr. Gasman come to Australia, and I am inclined to think that he would be willing to come, but it is only fair that I should consult my colleagues before making an important arrangement like that.
– Amongst the Yankee notions and Canadian reforms which the Postmaster-General intends to bring into use in Australia, has he noticed that there are no letter deliveries for towns where the inhabitants are less than 5,000 in the United States of America and 10,000 in Canada, and does he think that these notions will suit Australia to-day?
– The Parliament and the Postmasters-General have always endeavoured to give the greatest facilities for the delivery of letters throughout Australia. They have not drawn any distinction as to the size of the towns, and wherever the delivery of letters can be carried out it is done in the country and the cities.
– Query !
– My view is to continue the same principle, and to extend it as far as we possibly can, but the question put by the honorable member for Darwin dealt with a mechanical gentleman. Mr. Gasman is the man who has designed all the mechanical appliances in use in the Chicago Post Office. There is a great saving of labour and of the health of the people by the use of this class of machinery. As regards the area of land, the Chicago Post Office, like the Sydney and Melbourne Post Offices, is cramped, and it has now been discovered that it can be managed by floors just as easily as if it was all on the ground itself. We can apply these principles to our two big post offices at least.
– When the Treasurer is preparing the Amending Bank Bill dealing with the Savings Bank branch, will he give an opportunity for the States to be treated alike ?
– I should be very glad to consider this proposal. I quite agree with it myself. While the Bill will probably have to deal with the States that have agreed, still we will leave the door open for others to come in.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral lay on the table of the Library the correspondence between the Government of South Australia and the Commonwealth Government relating to an exchange of the Post Office for the Police Court at Port Adelaide?
– I have not looked at the correspondence, but I do not think that there is any objection to doing what the honorable membei desires.
– Some time ago there was a suggestion for a reciprocal arrangement between New Zealand and Australia as regards the payment of oldage pensions. Has the present Ministry considered the matter at all ?
– It has been considered quite a number of times. As far as I can recollect, the arrangement seemed to be a one-sided one. That is the emphatic opinion of Mr. Knibbs, as far as the actuarial side of the matter goes, and that is why the matter has not been submitted to the House before now.
– I ask the Postmaster-General whether the Government intends to be represented at the
Postal Conference at Madrid, not by an official, but by a Minister?
– I would like to answer this question. I hope it may be possible for a Minister to attend the conference. It is of the utmost importance, I think, that some one with the requisite authority and status should be at all the conferences that take place from time to time. They are international in character, and, therefore, it is of the utmost consequence that our voice should be heard when the international sifting of postal arrangements is taking place. I hope that we shall be in a position to see that the Government is represented by a Minister at the Madrid Conference.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– To make the matter clear, it is necessary, before replying seriatim to the questions, to make a brief statement -
There are certain expenses -incidental to the maintenance of a militia corps, such as cleaning and care of arms, &c., and to meet this expenditure commanding officers are credited each year with an allowance termed Corps Contingent Allowance, which they hold practically in trust for the Government, and which they are only permitted to expend for certain prescribed purposes. This allowance for the years 1912-1913 and 1913-1914 was paid on the basis of 7s. 6d. per head of the authorized establishment. The amount is in accordance with the regulations, which also prescribe that, under special circumstances, it may be increased to a sum not exceeding 10s. per head.
The answers to the questions are as follow : -
The reason for the marked difference in the corps referred to between the estimated establishment and the actual strength is due : -
After the 30th June next the differences will not be so great, as by that date there will be but few voluntarily enlisted men.
It is open to any commanding officer to submit representations for an increased allowance under this regulation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– This evidently refers to cadet officers who are permitted to purchase their own uniforms, and obtain refund of cost from the Department. The answer to the questions is - 1 and 2. So far as is known at Headquarters there are no cases of cadet officers who have been kept waiting for months for a refund of the cost of their uniform. If the honorable member can furnish me with specific cases the Minister of Defence will have inquiries made, and if claims are in accordance with the regulations instructions will be given that they are at once to be adjusted.
Seniority of Rank
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
As it is rumoured that by a recent decision of the Military Board it is intended that in future - despite the fact of difference in training for special work - officers of all branches of the Permanent Force shall be considered as a whole in deciding the seniority of rank for promotion purposes, docs the Minister not think that any alteration of the method which keeps the permanent and administrative and instructional staffs separate in seniority, as they are separate in training, will be inimical to the interests of Universal Military Training in Australia?
– The answer to the question is -
It has been decided that graduates from the Royal Military College, on appointment to commissioned rank in the Permanent Military Forces, shall bo borne on one list for promotion. This decision does not, however, apply to officers already serving as such in the Permanent Military Forces.
It is not considered that the procedure in question will be inimical to the interests of universal military training in Australia.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether any satisfactory arrangement has been made between the Commonwealth, States, and Local Government Boards so as to arrive at uniformity in making land values for taxation purposes, and, at the same time, remove the alleged present unjust anomalies?
– The answer to the question is -
The late Conference of Premiers passed the following resolution, with which the Commonwealth Government are in accord: - “ Resolved. - That this Conference affirms the desirability of uniform valuations for Commonwealth and State purposes being adopted as early as practicable, and that the necessary legislative or administrative steps in that direction be taken by the States.”
The New South Wales Government have already drafted a Bill for this purpose, and the terms of it are being considered by the Government.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are - 1 and 2. I am not aware that such is the case. As a matter of fact, I do not think there is much pilfering.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the questions are -
– With regard to question No. 9 on the notice-paper, I understand that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports takes the responsibility for the accuracy of the report ?
– I take the responsibility for the accuracy of the report, and ask the Prime Minister the question standing in my name -
– I have only had time to glance over this question, and I hardly think that any good purpose would be served by the course suggested.
– I agree with the honorable gentleman.
The following Papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Belmore, New South Wales - for Defence purposes.
Bondi Beach, New South Wales - for Postal purposes.
Brighton, Victoria - for Defence purposes.
Erskineville, New South Wales - for Defence purposes.
Pialligo, Federal Territory - for Federal Capital purposes.
Northern Territory -
Crown Lands Ordinance 1912 -
Charge for preparation of leases.
Surrender of leases - No. 22.
Regulations amended - No. 8 and No. 16.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act, Marine Board and Navigation Act (South Australia) and South Australian Railway Commissioners Act - Marine, Harbor, and Railway - Jetty Regulations.
Debate resumed from 27th May (vide page 1532) on motion by Mr. W. H.
That this Bill be now read a third time.
.- I have no doubt that we shall be charged with obstructing the passage of this measure, but the truth is that we have little opportunity nowadays to obstruct legislation. There was a time when honorable members were permitted to speak for nine hours at a stretch, and even longer. That, no doubt, is to some a horrid memory, but at the present time there can be very little of the character of what used to be known as obstruction since, on a motion of this kind, an honorable member is not permitted to speak for more than an hour and five minutes. I regret that this Bill has not been amended - that it agrees word for word with the Bill that we passed last session. It must be recognised that several important amendments ought to have been made. For instance, clause 2 refers to preference in relation to any employment “ by the Commonwealth.” That is very loose drafting. The Acts Interpretation Act provides that “ Commonwealth” means “the Common weal th of Australia,” so that the clause provides that no preference or discrimination shall be made for or against any person in relation to any employment “ by the Commonwealth of Australia.” Why were the words “ Commonwealth Public Service “ not employed? Undoubtedly the explanation is that the sole object of the Government, in trying to pass this Bill, is to bring about an early double dissolution. Is that a worthy aim? When the Prime Minister took office, no doubt he assured the Governor-General that he would be able to carry on the government of the country. If he finds himself unable to do so he ought to resign. He should not seek to use the forms of Parliament in this way.
– If he did resign, could the Labour party carry on better than the Liberal party?
– Possibly not; but, in that event, the House in due time would be exhausted, and an election would follow in the usual way. I am sorry that there does not appear in this Bill a clause providing that no preference or discrimination shall be made for or against any person in relation to any employment in the Commonwealth Service on account of his membership or non-membership of any association of attorneys, solicitors, barristers, architects, surveyors, surgeons or physicians.
– They do not seek employment; they are sought out.
– My regret at this omission is not due to any objection on my part tothe associations existing to-day among the professional classes. I agree with the Attorney-General when he says, “I believe in unionism in every form.” At some time in our history, if we are to straighten out the discrepancies existing on our planet, there will be a union or association in connexion with almost every occupation, or at all events, unions covering a series of occupations. The honorable member for Wilmot has just said that barristers, architects, and other professional men do not apply for employment. Does he not know that architects do apply?
– I was referring to the lawyers.
– If barristers and solicitors do not apply for employment, that is because of the perfection of their organization. I am aware, of course, that if a man wishes to retain the services of a barrister, he must do so through a solicitor. A barrister is not supposed to know anything about fees. With money, the root of all evil, he is presumed to have no concern. The Attorney-General smiles, because he knows that I am now touching upon a peculiar aspect of the profession of the law. Sordid considerations are not supposed to trouble a barrister, and he would be insulted if a man said to him, “ I wish to pay you fifty guineas to take up my case.” A barrister so addressed would say, “How dare you speak to me in this manner. You must consult a solicitor, who will brief me to appear for you, and will possibly mark upon the brief the fee which you desire to pay me.”
– Will the honorable member connect his remarks with the third reading of this Bill?
– I am trying to show that all professions should be brought within the scope of this Bill, if, as the AttorneyGeneral assured me, it is to apply to the professional as well as the industrial classes. When I asked, “Why does not this Bill apply to the professional classes?” he said, “It does; we are an organization; it applies to us.” I then pointed out that the Bill declared that preference should not be given by any officer of the Commonwealth to a member of a political or industrial organization. The Attorney-General’s answer was, “Is that what it says?” At that time, evidently he had forgotten that the word “ industrial “ appeared before the word “ association.” Had the point occurred to him before introducing the Bill, he would, perhaps, have omitted the word “ industrial,” so that the Bill would have applied to associations of every kind. But since that word appeared in the original Bill, which was’ closured through this House, and rejected by the Senate, the honorable gentleman’s whole purpose would be frustrated if he now allowed a single amendment to be made, because it would not then be the same Bill. In that case, the Senate would reject it, and it would have to be again brought before this Chamber for the AttorneyGeneral to attain his end.
Colonel Ryrie. - The Opposition tried it on.
– We endeavoured to improve the Bill. We have been told by i the Prime Minister what is the object of the measure. The Attorney-General has admitted that, at the present time, it is the law that no preference shall be granted to unionists. So far as the Ministry are concerned, that law is like the laws of the Medes and Persians, in that they will not depart from it. They have thus proved by their own statements that this Bill is superfluous from the standpoint of the law; but it is all-important from that of the intentions of the AttorneyGeneral and his colleagues. The Prime Minister stated that it is the intention of the Government to force the Bill through both Houses for the purpose of securing a double dissolution. Prom an Argus report, published on 10th April last, I gather that the AttorneyGeneral, in speaking at Warrnambool, said -
The duty of the Ministry was to try and meet the trouble as it now existed. The only weapon which the Constitution gave was the creation of conditions under which both Houses might be compelled to appear before their electors. That was the main object in view now. During last session the Ministry passed two test measures. The first step to obtain a double dissolution had been taken. The duty of the Ministry was now to complete the task - to force the Bills if possible through the House of Representatives a second time. If the Senate again rejected it the Ministry could go to the Governor-General and ask him to exercise his prerogative in submitting the differences of the Houses to the people.
Throughout the past eight or nine months he seems to have regarded it as certain that the Government will secure’ a double dissolution. I want to put before the House and the country the position that the Government are in error when they say that they are powerless to enact legislation. They proved conclusively by their ‘actions last week that they are not powerless. I propose to show that their legislation has not been obstructed. Whatever legislation has been introduced by them which was in the best interests of the people has been approved, both by the Senate and by this Chamber. Reference to the Common.wealth Gazette of 3rd January will show that last session, apart from a number of Supply Bills, we passed “ an Act to provide for the acceptance of Norfolk Island as a Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth and for the government thereof,” “ an Act to amend the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-12,” “ an Act to amend the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902-11 in relation to eligibility for appointment to the Public Service of the Commonwealth by reason of State service,” “ an Act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue a sum for the purchase of land for defence purposes,” “ an Act to provide for a Joint
Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts,” “ an Act to provide for the establishment of a Parliamentary Standing Committee on public works and for other purposes,” “ an Act to provide for the construction of a railway in the Northern Territory from Pine Creek to the Katherine River, the appointment of officers, the making of charges, and the appropriation of money in connexion with such railway,” “ an Act to amend the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-12 and the Post and Telegraph Rates Act 1902-11,” and “ an Act to authorize the raising and expending of the sum of Two million seven hundred and eighty thousand pounds for certain purposes.”
– Order ! The honorable member is travelling over a very wide field, which seems to me entirely foreign to the purpose of this Bill.
– I am not arguing whether these measures ought to have been passed or not. I merely mention them to show that the claim of the Government to a double dissolution on the ground that we have obstructed their legislation has no foundation in fact.
– Order ! I do not see that that has anything to do with the third reading of this Bill.
– Is it not recognised that the Bill before us is a “ test “ Bill ? The Attorney-General has admitted that it is already the law that no preference shall be granted to unionists in Government employment.
– It will be necessary for the honorable member to connect his remarks with the motion for the third reading of the Bill.
– With all due respect, I claim that I am doing that when I show that the contention of the Government that we have obstructed “legislation is destitute of all foundation. Surely, as an Opposition, we are entitled to offer some criticism of measures which the Government bring forward ? They should not’ expect their Bills to be passed without any consideration whatever. I claim that all the discussion which has taken place, and which has led up to this crisis, has been necessary in the public interest.
– While the honorable member will be perfectly in order in making a passing reference to other measures, he will not be in order in entering into details or debating those measures. He must connect his remarks with the motion before the Chair.
– I shall not enter into details concerning the measures that we passed last session. Although the AttorneyGeneral has declared that he is in favour of unionism in every form, I cannot see any action of his which supports his professions.
– I thought that he was opposed to all unions.
– No. He says that hb is in favour of unionism in every form. We are educating the honorable gentleman. If I might use an expression which originated with the honorable member for Darwin, this is a Parliament which destroys reputations ; and I venture to think that it is a means of educating some who have hitherto been very conservative. If the Attorney-General is now in favour of unionism in every form, and knows anything of the subject, he must be aware that there are a number of misguided or uninformed people who do not know the value of such organization. There are selfish people quite prepared to reap the advantages of unionism without paying towards the organization which has given them their improved conditions. Let me give an illustration. Ac one time I was in the position of secretary of the Typographical Association in Sydney, and we succeeded in increasing the membership from 400 to over 1,000. There were, however, some men who, as soon as they obtained situations in the Government Printing-office, and thought, that they had positions for life, discontinued their payment of 9d. a week. Is there any just-minded man who would contend that these men, reaping advantages gained for them by the association, should be placed on the same footing as those who were willing to continue their subscriptions? Let me give an instance of the value of preference to unionists. At one time, in Sydney, non-unionists were permitted to work in certain printing offices; but the unions became strong, and were sympathized with to such an extent that the overseers in those offices, when a man applied for employment, asked whether he was or was not a member of the Typographical Association, and, if he was not, he was not allowed to start. I am now speaking of the Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald offices. Both those offices, and also the offices of the Argus and the Age, are now conducted upon unionist principles. No non-unionist compositor could possibly get into any of these offices; and I doubt whether any journalist who is not a member of the Journalists’ Association would be given a position; at least, I hope not.
– The same may be said of the Government Printing-office.
– I believe that is so. Why do the Argus and the Age support the Government campaign against preference to unionists? If there were no Typographical Association, the trade of a compositor would not be worth following. I call it a trade, but there was a time when it was deemed to be a profession, and any one who followed it was, in consequence, entitled to wear a sword. The Government, knowing the advantages of unionism, and the influence that preference to unionists has in impelling men to join an association - knowing what unionism has done for civilization - would, if they acted up to their professions of Liberalism, encourage preference. I should like to call to my aid some observations of the Prime” Minister. We quote speeches of the honorable gentleman, from 1891 to 1894, in regard to which some people think there ought to be a political statute of limitations; but the quotation I desire to read is more recent. The Prime Minister said on that occasion -
The honorable member for Newcastle referred to mc as an old-time ‘ secretary of a trade union. The honorable member is quite right. When I was secretary to a union we always insisted on preference to unionists, and in a very summary fashion.
– What was the union?
– The Coal-miners’ Union. We had no difficulty in doing that, and I am free to tell the honorable member that if I were in the same position to-day I should do the same again.
Further on, in reply to a question as to how long he was secretary, he said -
For some years. If I were in that position again I should adopt the same attitude. I have no sort of sympathy with the man who will work alongside another man, and see that other paying every week of his life into an organization to protect his rights, and to maintain his position, whilst he himself is skulking, and deriving the benefit for which the other is paying and working. I have no sort of sympathy with that kind of tiling.
The merest hint that an employer will have no non-unionist in his employ has the effect of inducing a great number of men, who would otherwise object to pay the subscription to join unions, and so the merest indication that the Government is against preference will induce numbers to stay outside, and to that extent render unionism weaker and of less importance. It has further been contended that preference to unionists in Government employ will lead to the strengthening of the Labour party; and that is the sole fear of honorable members opposite. They have an idea that, because a man becomes a unionist, and because a portion of his money is, in certain cases, used to publish a paper for the dissemination of Labour political views, and sometimes to assist in paying the expenses of Labour candidates-
– Is the honorable member aware that the secretary of the Typographical Association in Sydney is on the committee of the honorable member for North Sydney?
– I was not aware of that, but it supports my view that it does not by any means follow that a man will vote for a Labour candidate simply because he himself is a member of a trade or labour union. The secrecy of the ballot will prevent any harm arising from preference to unionists. However, I do not think that the secretary of the Sydney association is on the committee of the honorable member for North Sydney.
– That secretary is a Liberal.
– Is that a fact? I know that a former member of the Board of Management of the Typographical Association in Sydney worked for Mr. Wilson as against the present member for East Sydney. It will be seen, therefore, that membership of a trade union is no guarantee of votes for the Labour candidates. I wish this fact were thoroughly realized, because, in Sydney, at all the Federal elections, especially for the Senate, Labour candidates are opposed by what are known as Labour Socialists, and these are supported by many unionists in West Sydney, East Sydney, and other constituencies.
– I remind the honorable member that he is now discussing the general question of unionism, and not preference to unionists in Government employment.
– Ministers and their followers fear that if preference be given in Government employment, it will mean an accession of strength to the Labour party in Australia, and I am endeavouring to show that such a result does not necessarily follow. Unless the Labour party, by its programme and its enthusiasm, can commend itself to the majority of the people, it must continue in the cold shades of opposition. Another incident that shows that the fears of honorable members opposite are groundless is the statement made by Mr. W. Rosser, President of the city branch of the Railway “Workers and General Labourers’ Association of New South Wales, who referred in approving terms to the action of the Prime Minister in settling at Canberra, in a sympathetic mood, a strike which he could not get the Labour Government, when in office, to settle. There is the case of the president of a union attacking this party, and if any inference can be drawn from his remarks, it is that he will be found at the next election supporting the Liberal party. How then can it be said that to give preference to unionists in Government employment will have the effect of inducing people to vote for the Labour party or to subscribe to its platform? I suppose it is not of much use to try to induce honorable members to vote against the third reading, because their minds are made up. The incidents of the past week indicate that it is the intention of the Government to use all the constitutional forms of the House, even to the extent of exhausting honorable members physically and mentally, to force their legislation through. The Prime Minister said at Wangaratta, on 7th August -
Wo could do with a little more peace in this troubled land of ours. No one regrets more than 1 do to see the unsettled state of the people and the perpetual state of industrial war, which never .seems to have an end. This land always ought to be vibrating with optimistic fervour, but in this land we have a statu of affairs, industrially and otherwise, that is very far from being what it ought to be. I hope most sincerely that we may do something to heal the breach between the various parties in this country, so that wo may together tackle those national problems that are overdue for settlement.
That is his appeal for industrial peace in the community, but how does he propose to bring it about? By introducing a Bill which all his supporters admit is of no value or necessity, and forcing it through both Houses in order to bring about a general election. We are informed by the Liberal Whip that the deliberate intention of Ministers when they took office was to bring about a double dissolution; that he did not know when it would come, but that it would come some time this year. We have no right to spend our time considering the third reading of a Bill of this character, when so many other important measures might be brought before us. We have no right to take such a Bill to His Majesty’s representative, and ask him to send the two Houses to the country on it, putting the country to the enormous expense that a general election involves, and dislocating the commercial and trading community. The election that they say will follow- the rejection of this Bill will cause a very great disturbance of trade. Incidentally, it will put honorable members to a great deal of inconvenience. It is 1,500 miles to Rockhampton, the heart of my constituency, and that is only a circumstance to the travelling I shall have to do if a double dissolution takes place.
– Better have an elective Ministry.
– I am glad to find that the Postmaster-General is in favour of elective Ministries.
– I am, and always have been.
– I believe it would be a happy issue out of a number of our political afflictions, and shall do my best to induce our supporters to place that reform upon our programme. We have no right to pass the third reading of the Bill if it is going to have the result that honorable members have said it will have. The Government have no right to waste the time of the House over it, because they are quite wrong in their publiclyexpressed opinion that they are sure to get a double dissolution. They seem to think that His Majesty’s representative has no power at all. Has he no prerogative? The Constitution provides that if a Bill is passed by one House, and the other House fails twice to pass it, or passes it twice with amendments with which the House of Representatives does not agree, the- GovernorGeneral “may” dissolve both Houses. That gives the Governor-General the prerogative. The Attorney-General at St. Kilda said that the Liberal party need not bother about that matter, but I submit that they ought to bother about it. They have no right to go about the country making such statements as “ We are going to have a double dissolution,” or “ Select your candidates, and we will make all the arrangements to have a double dissolution this year.” They have no right to make statements of that kind concerning a certain high personage.
– Why have you been selecting your candidates?
– Because honorable members have set a very bad example which they had no right to set. I have the strongest objections to the passage of the third reading of the Bill, because we could occupy our time very much more profitably in the interests of the community; and if a double dissolution should happen to take place, if the Government can persuade the GovernorGeneral that they are unable to do any business, we have no reason to suppose that the same thing may not happen next year. Therefore we should hesitate before we try to lay down a precedent that will affect future Governors- General and future Parliaments. If a double dissolution should follow the rejection by the Senate of this flimsy measure, which is not necessary, and which will do nothing, then if any other party should later on approach the Governor-General and ask for a double dissolution on similar grounds they will naturally expect to get it. The proposal of the Attorney-General and Ministers is a very wrongful and unworthy attack on the working classes of Australia. The Attorney-General and his friends seem to b.e unable to realize what the working classes are doing for Australia. Who bear the most difficult burdens or do the most uncongenial work ?
– Who take the most risks and suffer most from accidents and loss of life?
– Yes; who go into -the coal mines to dig out the coal that furnishes the Attorney-General and his friends, and us all,’ with the warmth we require? Take the record of men who have gone into coal mines in Australia -and the number who have been killed by falls pf earth or from suffocation by damp or deleterious gases. Who are the men that take these risks? They are mostly unionists, against whom the Bill seems to be directed. Take the cushions on which we sit on in this chamber, which’ are necessarily soft to enable us to carry on our work when sitting for such long periods. Who have upholstered them? Not the architects, the surveyors, the barristers, or the solicitors. I could go through the whole gamut of men who might be employed on a building of this kind - the labourers, who dig the trenches, the stone masons, the plasterers, the carpenters, the plumbers, the painters and decorators, and the hundred and one odd men who would be employed. They are wage-earners, mostly unionists, against whom the Bill is directed. Who built the ships that took us across the ocean to the Old Country at Coronation time?
– These details are rather irrelevant.
– I connect them in this way. At some time or other we shall probably build ships. -If the Commonwealth ever enters into the steam-ship business - which will be necessary if it is to defeat certain combinations - shipbuilders must be employed, and to my mind it will be necessary to give employment to unionist shipbuilders. I am trying to impress Ministers, only one of whom is in the chamber.
– And he is the best of the bunch.
– It would be rather harsh to say that he is the best of a bad lot, but I believe that the Minister of External Affairs, if he had his way, would not be associated with a Bill of this character. He recognises the advantages that come from belonging to a union. We give employment to union barristers. Let us throw open the employment that can be found in the Department of the AttorneyGeneral to a number of non-union barristers, permitted to charge their clients as low a fee as they like. What would happen? Would honorable members at present in the proffession, and members of the Bar Council, be able to charge the fees that they do charge? I venture to say they would not. I do not wish to incur the displeasure of the Chair by going over the whole ground of industrial activity, but I would like to say that in our Commonwealth Woollen Mills at Geelong, we shall be employing union labour, I trust, and I would like to see the overseer at those mills instructed to employ unionists in preference to non-unionists, all other things being equal. The Attorney-General and his followers in bringing in a Bill of this character do not realize what the working classes are doing for Australia. Should not the shearer who shears the wool, which will afterwards be sent down to the Commonwealth Woollen Mills be considered? Should anything be done which will disadvantage him and help to keep down his wages below what is a reasonable rate ? I submit that the Bill will have that effect. The Government should even at this stage withdraw the Bill rather than do anything calculated to weaken the trades and labour unions of Australia, and to that extent retard the progress of civilization. I am sorry that the Bill does not contain a clause to this effect -
This Act shall not apply to any officer of the Commonwealth Public Service who gives preference to members of organizations or associations affecting which the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court lias directed that, for the prevention or settlement of an industrial dispute, or for the maintenance of industrial peace, or for the welfare of society, preference shall be given.
If the Attorney-General and his supporters consider such a Bill necessary they should surely be prepared to make an exception in the case of preference given on the lines indicated here. This House agreed years ago that it was in the interests of peace and order in the Commonwealth that there should be a law embodying that provision, and that the President of the Arbitration Court should, where he thought it advisable, be at liberty to give preference to unionists for the good and welfare of society. What is to prevent a non-union carpenter seeking employment in the Commonwealth Service joining the Amalgamated Carpenters and Joiners Union, and so removing any difficulty in the way of his appointment ?
– Then there would be collective bargaining.
– There was a time when men refused to recognise the benefits of collective bargaining, but that day has gone past. I am extremely sorry that a provision such as I have mentioned does not find a place in the Bill. 1 should have less difficulty in accepting the Bill if it contained such a clause, as it would give some feeling of security if the members of unions seeking employment in the Commonwealth Service could approach the President of the Arbitration Court, and ask him whether they were entitled to preference. It does not always follow that the President of the Court will make an award of preference when he is asked to do so. Honorable members are aware that only the other day Mr. Justice
Powers in a certain case refused to make: an award of preference.
– What was the result?
– I am not allowed to go. into those details. Honorable members- opposite who claim to be Liberals will have very great difficulty in explaining their support of this Bill to their constituents. The Attorney-General, in introducing the Bill in its present form, did not display the impartiality which he claims to be one of his chief virtues. It would be a very different Bill if it included barristers and other members of the legal profession, surveyors, architects, and other professional men. If the honorable gentleman had included contractors, as suggested by the honorable member for Cook, the Bill would have appeared to be more even-handed in its object, but in its present form it is directed against the interests of the great working classes of Australia. I use the term to refer to people engaged in industrial occupations. The AttorneyGeneral asked whether barristers were not members of an industrial organization, but the question was an absurd one. I use the term industrial classes to indicate the huge body of manual workers who are engaged in producing something of material substance. I do not contend that a great deal of mental work is not necessary in connexion with nearly every occupation. If honorable members were to try their hands at the work they would soon find that considerable skill is necessary, even in the occupation of the men whom we sometimes see on country roadsides cracking stones. In my time there was a good deal of manual labour about the work of a schoolmaster; I refer to the use of “ the cane.” but there is not so much in that profession in these days.
I enter a final protest against tha third reading of this Bill. I have opposed it at every stage, sincerely believing that it was my sacred duty to do so. I know very well that there are some people whose opinions I respect and value, who think that we should haveallowed this Bill to go through as’ quickly as the Attorney-General desired. I contend that there has been no unnecessary obstruction to the measure. We are entitled to use the forms of the House to speak so long as we have anything to say in opposition to the measure. I am aware that the press does a very great deal in educating the public, but Hansard also plays an important part in that work. We often laugh at Hansard, and say that it is an infliction to have to read it, but if I may be pardoned for referring to myself, I have here a telegram from a man asking that he should be sent a copy of Hansard containing a certain speech made last year. This proves that there are some people in Australia who take a keen and intelligent interest in Hansard. And those people are mostly to be found out in the back-blocks of this country, in the “ Never Never,” where they get a mail only once a month, or once in three months. In mining camps and shearing sheds I have been surprised to find that the men there are better acquainted with the course of political events than are hundreds of men whom one meets in the big towns.
– Why does that surprise you !
– Perhaps it is not a matter for surprise when one remembers the picture shows, libraries, and other forms of recreation which the people in the cities are able to enjoy.
– I cannot connect the honorable member’s remarks with the Bill.
– I am trying to excuse myself, if any excuse be necessary, for speaking at length on this stage of the Bill. I realize at once that when a man commences to excuse himself he accuses himself. But in excusing myself for making lengthy observations on this measure, I desire to say that in my opinion it is necessary to convey, through Hansard, to people in the back-blocks the reasons why we oppose this measure, why we refuse to allow it to go through the House with lightning rapidity, and why we think it should not be made the basis of an appeal to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral for a double dissolution.
.- The honorable member who has just spoken, and who comes from the State of Queensland, as I do, said that he did not know what members on this side would have to say in support of their action in approving of this Bill. I believe we are under no difficulty whatever. At any rate [ apprehend no difficulty about it, because one of the planks I advocated at every meeting I addressed during the last election campaign was that no preference should be given to unionists in the carry ing out of public works or services, as the funds for such works are provided by all classes of the people, and that therefore employment should be open to all.
– Do you apply “ that argument to contractors as well ?
– Yes. I apply it all round, to all public works and services. The position of the private contractor is quite different. He can do what he pleases with his own. He has the right to select any man he pleases, provided always that he pays the standard rate of wages. He is obliged to do that, or he cannot get the work done. But for unionists to say that they shall have preference in Government work, for which the funds are provided by all classes of people, is utterly wrong. They might just as well say that another man has a right to dictate what my religion shall be.
– Why do they not give Packer’s union a show on the KalgoorliePort Augusta railway!
– I do not trouble the House often, and the honorable member might allow me to state my parable in my own way. The position of honorable members in regard to preference to unionists is indefensible. They say that this ±>iii is practically a provision that preference shall be given to non-unionists, because unionists will not work alongside nonunionists. Well, that is a disability of their own creation, and I do not think that we should come to their rescue in this matter. Suppose certain people said, “ We shall not use Bourke-street unless we have a preferential right to a certain part of it?” Would it not be absurd for us to give them that preferential right ? I also take up the position that long before unionism had done anything in Australia, long before it had become recognised, it was conceded, as far back as our history goes, that it is the inalienable right of every man to earn his living. I suppose honorable members are familiar with that fine passage in the American Declaration of Independence, “ We hold these principles to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that amongst those are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” How can a man pursue happiness, if, when he seeks work, a section of the community says, “ We shall not work with you, and the employer shall not reap - his crops or get off his clip of wool if he employs you?” That sort of thing is setting the clock back and reverting to the conditions of the dark ages. I have no opposition to trade unionism. I know, perhaps, more than honorable members give me credit for the improvements which unionism has brought about in the conditions of the shearers and rouseabouts. But I say that the injustices have been remedied, and justice is secured to the workers now by law. If by some action of their own the Australian Workers Union were to break up to-morrow, the rights of the shearers and rouseabouts would still be secure, because Parliament has provided a legal tribunal for the workers, and that has been more effective in improving their conditions than has union agitation.
– And the shearer works on piece work.
– That is so. Members on the opposite side are very ready to suggest that the dairy farmer and the wheat grower should pay a certain standard of wages, irrespective of the qualifications of men. Why do they not propose that for the shearer, and say that every shearer should be paid a certain wage per day, irrespective of his shearing capabilities?
– The employer is not compelled to keep a man if he is not efficient.
– Practically he is. I repeat that the rights of the workers have been secured to them by law.
– Who brought about the change?
– I admit that unionists had much to do with it, but they did not do everything. In my opinion, adult suffrage and payment of members did more than the unions, because they made it possible for the workers to be represented in Parliament, and to have legislation passed for their betterment. That was so in my own State, and in every State I know. There have been two elections since preference to unionists was embodied in the arbitration law, and it has been contended that the people have therefore indorsed the principle. I deny that they have done so. In 1904, a Coalition Ministry was in power, and, as often happens in such cases, legislation that was utterly unsound became law.
– We have a Coalition Ministry now.
– That is not so. The members of the Liberal party are united in their platform, and are in a majority in this House. When preference to unionists was legalized, it was surrounded by limitations which induced the people to give it a trial. It was provided that before ordering preference the President of the Arbitration Court should, by notification published in the Gazette and in other publications, make known that all persons and organizations interested who desired to be heard on the matter should appear before him on a certain day. That limitation has been swept away. It was also provided that preference should not be directed to be given unless the application for it was, in the opinion of the Court, approved by the majority of those affected by the award who had interests in common with the applicants. That limitation has been swept away. Further, the President was given power to suspend and alter his award if he found that the applicants were enforcing conditions that were unfair. That third limitation has been swept away. To-day, the unionists, who by no means form the majority of the workers of Australia, are absolutely breaking up the industries of the land when they cannot get their own way. They have shown that they will respect awards only when these are in their favour, and that, otherwise, they are ready to strike against them. In 1913, there were in New South Wales, a State that is governed by a Labour Administration, no fewer that 134 disputes out of 208 that occurred in the whole Commonwealth, the number of persons affected in New South Wales being over 40,000, as against 50,000 in the whole Commonwealth, and the loss of wages involved there being £208,000, as against £288,000 for the whole Commonwealth.
– The honorable member will admit that the disputes were promptly settled.
– I do not admit that. Recently, there was a bakers’ strike in Sydney. That was partly settled, but now we are threatened with another strike in Melbourne. If the £208,000 that has been wasted on strikes in New South Wales, and the contributions of unionists to their organizations had been invested in sheep and cattle, the members of the Australian Workers Union would be the sheep and cattle kings of Australia to-day, instead of levying blackmail on those who want to work.
– Steady !
– The honorable member may take exception to the word ‘ ‘ blackmail,” but in Queensland no man, however competent, can get a shearing job without contributing to the funds of the Shearers Union. It was said the other night that men are not asked their political views. Of nourse, they are not. What the unions want is their cash. Each man on joining the union is handed a ticket entitling him to a paper. To what paper?
– The paper.
– -The paper which advocates the political views that he detests. Is that fair play? On the 13th May last, there was a meeting in Sydney of representatives of industrial unions, and it was resolved, on the motion of the secretary of the Illawarra Miners Association, that a circular letter should be sent to all unions, suggesting the establishment of a Federal fighting fund, each member being asked to continue a levy of ls., and the Labour members of Parliament being requested to contribute 10 per cent, of their salaries. I am curious to know what the reply of Labour members will be to this demand, and am inclined to think that, if there is a determined attempt to enforce it, they will agree with me that the unions are levying blackmail, and will not hesitate to describe them as bushrangers. It may be suggested that ls. per man is not a large contribution, but I am informed - I give the information for what it is worth, not having had time to check it - that the total contribution will amount to £30,000. The honorable member for South Sydney has said that he and his fellows are advocates of peace.
– That was his Scotch wit.
– I believe that the statement was made seriously, but certainly they have a very queer way of advocating peace. The honorable member for Darling, during a visit to the Wagga district last year, advised men not to strike, but not to go to work, and said that if they held the farmers up these latter would probably have to pay double rates to get their crops off. He wondered how they would like that. If they did’ not agree, he said, the farmers might expect to have trouble at every harvest.
Was that promoting peace? Was the Brisbane strike the result of an attempt to promote peace?
– Who caused that strike?
– I am not going into that matter now. All I shall say in regard to it is that the Labour members of the State Parliament were ready to march in front of the strikers until they saw trouble ahead, and then every one of them considered it necessary to see what the position of affairs was in the rear.
– What did the State Government do in connexion with that strike?
– The strike in Brisbane opened the eyes of the producers and the employers of labour generally, in Queensland, to this fact : that while it is possible for an employer of labour, or a director of an industry, to grant all the conditions insisted on by the employes, there is noguarantee to him that he will be allowed to conduct his work in peace. At the call of an outside union, men have left an employer in the lurch. As a director of a butter factory, I know that butter was held up in Brisbane through the strike. We had no quarrel with any of our employes, but we lost a good market for some of our butter.
– It was all caused by the Government of Queensland.
– Let the honorable member, who makes some extraordinary statements about Queensland, follow me, and prove that statement. I think that in that matter the State Government held the scales fairly, and the proof is, that when the general election came round twelve months afterwards, they were returned by a very substantial majority.
– What about the increased majority gained by the honorable member for Brisbane?
– When the Postal Vote Restoration Bill comes before the House for consideration, the honorable member will hear something about the electoral rolls in Queensland which he will not like. There is no guarantee that preference to unionists will give peace. If there was such a guarantee there might be some argument in favour of the principle, but there is not. Unionism, I admit, has improved the lot of the shearers and the workers in the past, but it has got so strong that it has become a pitiless tyrant. Last night we had from the honorable member for Wakefield an illustration of what the unionists will do. Let me give another illustration from a newspaper report -
What appeared to be a case of pitiless tyranny was brought under the notice of Mr. Russell, S.M., in the Police Court, Adelaide, on 14th March, in the hearing of an unsatisfied judgment summons. A respectable-looking man was sued for £7 10s. 9d., alleged to be owing for groceries.
Defendant said he was a wharf labourer, and that lie had had no work for three weeks.
Counsel: How is that?
Defendant: 1 was Oil. overdue to the association, and lost my membership, and I cannot get work unless I am in the association.
Mr. Russell: You are to starve for the rest of your days because you are 9d. overdue?
Defendant: It looks very much like it. I cannot get iti the association again without paying £2.
How much do you owe? - Six .shillings *and threepence. We arc only allowed to be 5s. 6d. in arrears.
– Where was that?
– In Adelaide.
– That man was proven to be a disreputable character.
– Was he?
Are you going to pay £2 or starve? - I cannot pay it. An employer asked an officer of the association if I could take some work, but the latter refused, and I lost £35, which I would have got from the job. I started to work on a vessel called the Prophet, but the association’s officer came to me and said I had no right to work there, because I was not a mein- bor of the association. Later on the officer brought down two association men; I was ordered 04 and one of the other mcn took my place. In the following week I started to work on another vessel, but was stopped again.
Replying to the S.M., defendant said he had a wife and two children.
Counsel: You are- disqualified for life, as it were?
Counsel: I do not ask for any order in the circumstances.
The S.M.: I should think not.
Will honorable members opposite stand up for that sort of thing? Mr. Riley. - Yes.
– I am very much surprised to hear the honorable member say that. I will go so far as to say that in his calmer moments he will be sorry that he slandered himself by making the remark.
– I take up the same attitude on that as the Prime Minister does - a man has no right to be a skulker.
– It does not stop there.
– Order ! It is the honorable member for Lilley who is making the speech, and not the honorable members who are interjecting. -
– If this matter can be explained, honorable members opposite ought to thank me for mentioning it here ; at any rate, it looks very bad. On the point as to whether it is a right thing for unionists -to refuse to work with nonunionists, to prevent a non-unionist from earning a livelihood for himself and his family, I wish to direct attention to what Chief Justice Stout, of New Zealand, said the other day, in sentencing a man named Henry Holland, editor of the Maoriland Worker, to twelve months’ imprisonment for the use of seditious language. If I am not mistaken Holland is known in Australia. Chief Justice Stout cannot be accused of not being favorably disposed towards Labour.
– Holland is not a Labour man.
– How did he come to be editor of the Maoriland Worker, then?
– He stood against the AttorneyGeneral.
– What is the good of the honorable member telling us that?
– He did stand against the Attorney-General.
– It does not mat’er whether Holland stood against the AttorneyGeneral or not.
– He belongs to your side; he is a Syndicalist.
– What did Chief Justice Stout say on that occasion? He said -
When a man who is a worker, with his wife and family, perhaps starving, chooses to work, what right lias any worker to stop him from working? He has a right to labour. That is the foundation of all social life.
That is the position we take up right through. We are prepared to say to all trade unionists, “ Go on and prosper. See by all legitimate means that standard rates of wages and reasonable hours are brought into every trade in the land, but do not take up the position that a man who will not join a union, and subscribe to your political opinions, shall be prevented from earning his living.” All that this Bill provides is that, as regards Government employment, all ‘ men in Australia shall be put on an equal footing. I will not speak much longer, sir, for this reason: that during the short time I have been here, I have not been impressed by the way in which the work is done. I wish to say, without intending to be censorious or offensive in any way, that if the directors or the managers of our commercial, . financial, manufacturing, and producing interests were to be as dilatory and as talkative as we have been in connexion with this small Bill, we should have speedily a condition that would approach very closely to national bankruptcy in Australia.
.- I desire at the outset of my speech to reply to a statement made by the honorable member for Lilley in regard to a wharf labourer at Adelaide, who he led us to believe was expelled from his union and denied the right to earn his living on the wharfs because he owed 9d. to the union. When cases of this kind are” brought forward by our opponents it often happens that we have not at hand the answers to them. But in this case, fortunately, the honorable member for Adelaide happens to be supplied with a full reply to the allegation, and I propose to put it before the House. I am surprised that the honorable member for Lilley, although able to discover the charge, was quite unable to find the answer to it. That is a peculiarity of Liberal speakers, not only in this House, but throughout the country. They make charges against us, and although those charges are refuted, they repeat them again and again, and quite forget to mention the refutation. The answer to the honorable member’s allegation in respect of the wharf labourer, who was proceeded against at the Adelaide Court to show cause why he should not be committed for failing to pay a debt of £5 incurred for groceries, is as follows: -
The statement made by the honorable member for Lilley was that this individual, because he had fallen into arrears to the extent of 9d., had been expelled from his union and refused the right to work on the wharf. Evidently the magistrate who heard the case accepted that statement. He was like a good many other magistrates whom I know, who are only too anxious to accept any statement that is detrimental to a trade union. They make no inquiry-
– Something like Judge Higgins.
– I call your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the reflection cast upon Mr. Justice Higgins by the honorable member for Calare. I do not think that the names of our Judges should be mentioned in this way in our discussions.
– I trust that honorable members will recognise the principle that the Judiciary should be regarded as being above political criticism. The honorable member’s remark ought to be withdrawn.
– Before withdrawing it, I would respectfully ask you, sir, to call upon the honorable member for Ballarat to withdraw the aspersion which he cast upon the Magistracy.
– Will the honorable member withdraw his remark and then make his explanation ?
– I withdraw it, and apologize to you, sir. I now ask that the honorable member for Ballarat be directed to withdraw his insinuation against magistrates.
An Honorable Member. - He did not mention any name.
– On a point of order, the honorable member for Ballarat did not mention any name, but his remarks, I contend, were none the less reprehensible because of that. He attacked the whole Judiciary.
– I heard the honorable member for Ballarat make some observations regarding magistrates in general, which might or might not have been justified, but they were of too general a character for me to take exception to them.
– On the point of order, sir, the honorable member for Ballarat did mention a magistrate’s name. He mentioned the magistrate who tried the case, and we have been told that the name of that magistrate is Russell. The honorable member for Ballarat said, “ This man, like other magistrates I know of”-
– Order. No objection was made to the remark made by the honorable member for Ballarat at the moment it was uttered, and it is impossible for me to go back to it.
– As a matter of privilege, sir, I desire to say that I called attention to the remark made by the honorable member for Ballarat, and I call attention to it now. I hope that you will require it to be withdrawn.
– I am unaware that my attention was called to the remark at the time it was uttered. Some objection may have been taken by way of interjection across the chamber; but interjections this morning have been so numerous that it is impossible for me to take any notice of them except to condemn them as a whole. I trust that honorable members will assist me to carry out my duty by refraining from interjecting.
– On a point’ of order, sir-
– Is this fair? We are to have a division at 4 o’clock.
– That does not interest me in the least. I have the same rights that are enjoyed by all other honorable members, and I am prepared to assert them. The honorable member for Riverina distinctly called your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the fact that the honorable member for Adelaide had mentioned the name of a magistrate. He mentioned the name of Mr. Fleming.
– Order ! Will the honorable member resume his seat? It is quite obvious that the honorable member for Henty is not acquainted with the circumstances regarding which he wishes to raise a point of order. I would suggest that, as the particular matter to which reference has been made was allowed to pass at the time without any objection, it would be well to let it drop.
– I think that you, sir, have passed an undeserved reflection upon me. I am perfectly acquainted with what has occurred. All I did was to make a mistake in the name of the magistrate.
I distinctly heard the honorable member for Ballarat traduce the Judiciary as a whole, and mention the name of the justice who tried this case. Now, seeing ° that one honorable member upon this side of the House has been called to- order, I think that when your attention has been called to the statement made by an honorable member on the other side of the chamber, even though it be a minute or two afterwards, you should call upon him to withdraw.
– I would again point out that objection was not taken at the time, so far as I am aware, to the remark of the honorable member for Ballarat.
– But your attention has been called to it.
– So far as my recollection serves me, the honorable member for Ballarat did not make the observation in the connexion that the honorable member for Henty says that he did. The honorable member for Ballarat, by interjection, has denied the correctness of the interpretation placed upon his remarks by the honorable member for Henty, and in the circumstances I cannot take any action.
– I was very pleased to hear the Prime Minister’s voice this morning, though it was only raised in connexion with a point of order on this Bill. All we get from him nowadays is a statement on a point’ of order or a personal explanation. His silence in connexion with the debate upon this measure has been remarkable. I now propose to conclude the reading of the circular which contains the refutation of the statement made by the honorable member for Lilley. It reads -
The association allows a member to fall into arrear for thirteen weeks, after which he must rejoin.
It has been conclusively proved that McCallum was neither sick nor had he, at any time, left the district, and at the time when he fell into arrear Port Adelaide had never been busier. It has also been ascertained that, in the six weeks preceding his appearance in the Court, he had earned no less than £11 from three of the seven companies operating in Port Adelaide, while, at the same time, if work was not offering on the wharfs, the man is by trade a baker and confectioner. During the same period work was so plentiful that many vessels were unduly delayed owing to the scarcity of wharf labour, and on many occasions the secretary and vigilant officer were at their wit’s end to cope with the demand. That the Court should accept the statements of such an individual in face of the known position passes comprehension, and it can clearly be seen that it is only for political purposes that the matter has been given such prominence. When a man at the busiest part of the year cannot keep up a payment of 5cl. per week, for which- hu gets such manifold benefits, it is quite time such an individual was taught such a severe lesson instead of being released in the manner the Court lias decided. - J. CARR, Corresponding Secretary, Workingmen’s Association.
I think that that is a complete answer to the charge made by the honorable member.
– Did that answer appear in the public press?
– Yes. With his keen eyesight, the honorable member for Lilley could read the charge made against this union, but it is somewhat remarkable that he should have failed to read the answer to it. He sprung upon us a charge with a view to discrediting trade unionism. He boasted of what he had done for unionism in Queensland.
– Where did I boast?
– The honorable member boasted of what he had done for the shearers.
– I did not.
– The honorable member said that unionists alone were not entitled to the credit. At any rate, that is the impression which he left upon my mind.
– The honorable member evidently does not ^understand his subject this morning.
– That remark comes well from the honorable member for Henty. Before I conclude my observations I intend to say a word or two about him. I trust that the honorable member for Lilley, at the conclusion of this discussion, will apologize to the Workingmen’s Association in Adelaide for his very unfair remarks upon it. I feel sure he will see the necessity of doing it that measure of justice.
– Had not the honorable member himself better apologize first?
– So long as I am a member of this House, if I break any of the rules governing me as a Parliamentarian, I shall always be prepared to apologize to Mr. Speaker. But I will always insist upon justice being done to me. I can scarcely understand why this Bill has been introduced. The Ministry have admitted that it concerns no individual, that it takes away preference from nobody, and that it will not apply to a solitary person in Australia. Why, therefore, it has been introduced passes my comprehension. In Victoria we know that recently the cost of living has largely increased, and that there is unemployment from one end of the State to the other. In practically every avenue of industry there are men unemployed, and yet we have a Government in power which can bring forward no measure purporting to interfere with the increased cost of living. They make no attempt to deal with the problem of unemployment. Instead, they occupy the time of this Parliament in bringing forward a measure which will not affect one individual throughout Australia. In introducing the Bill the Attorney-General dealt with the doctrine of “ spoils to the victors,” and stated that the Labour party had been guilty of practising it when they were in office. Now, for many years I have been a member of the State Labour party, and for about a year I have been a member of the Federal Labour party, and I candidly confess that I have never been able to- get a job for any supporter of mine. The most I have ever been able to do is to get a man a pick and shovel job. I have never known of the so-called Liberal party giving any position which was worth more than 8s. or 9s. a day to a Labour man. It ill-becomes members of the Liberal party to suggest “spoils to the victors,” and I think they must be talking with the tongue in the cheek. I notice that the honorable member for Henty applauded the Attorney-General when he referred to the subject.
– Is the honorable member quite sure about that?
– I am quite sure, and I did not think it becoming of the honorable member. Although the honorable member for Henty is a gentleman and a citizen for whom I have the greatest respect as an individual, he has been long associated with the Liberal party, and knows all their tricks. When he was defeated as a candidate for the Melbourne seat in the State Parliament, he was subsequently, on the principle of “spoils to the victors,” given a position on the Melbourne Harbor Trust, and a pretty lucrative position too.
– That was four and a half years afterwards 1
– No matter how long it was afterwards. The honorable member was also made admiral of the John Murray.
– And I gave four solid years’ good work for nothing !
– I do not know where the” nothing “ comes in, because, at any rate, the honorable member had a very grand uniform. It is the Liberal party who have ever adopted the policy of “ spoils to the victors.” Whenever a position worth anything becomes vacant the Liberals, when in power, always give it to a friend, and not to a professional friend, but generally to a candidate on their side who has been defeated.
– Give us a few cases.
– That is easily done in the case of Victoria. There was Mr. Andrews, a defeated candidate, who was given a position on the Licences Reduction Board; Mr. Barr, formerly member for Fitzroy in the State Parliament, who was given another position on the same body; and Mr. Holden, another Liberal member, who was made a member of the Harbor Trust, Geelong.
– Is the honorable member in orderin dealing with preference to State employes?
– The honorable member for Ballarat is in order if he wishes to make some comparison or a general reference; but he must not otherwise debate the subject.
– The honorable member for Calare asked me for some cases.
– I suppose the State got value for its money.
– That is not the question. If the Labour Government had appointed defeated candidates to similar positions, what a hue and cry there would have been throughout Australia ! One appointment was made by the Labour Government in the Northern Territory, and we hear about it every day, although it is generally admitted that that man was eminently qualified for the position. Then Mr. McGregor, the member for Ballarat East in the State Parliament, was given a place on the Harbor Trust, Geelong; Mr. Duggan, member for St. Arnaud in the Liberal interest in the State Parliament, when he was defeated at the poll, was consoled with an appointment to the Closer Settlement Board ; and Mr. Kennedy, when he was defeated at the poll, was made a member of the same Board. The value of these positions ranged from £200 and £600 to £800 a year, and these cases could be multiplied by dozens.
– And they occur in every State.
– I am speaking of Victoria only, and yet honorable members opposite have the audacity to talk about “ spoils to the victors.” They cannot quote a solitary instance in which the Labour party, when in possession of the Treasury bench, have rewarded any of their defeated supporters with similar positions. The only posts given are those to pick-and-shovel men, and no doubt these could have otherwise looked after themselves.
– I do not wish to mention the Judiciary, but I think the Labour party appointed an ex-Attorney-General to a High Court position.
– That was, I think, an appointment made by a Liberal Government. Other Liberal supporters in the State who were given appointments were, Mr. Kirton and Mr. Brawn on the Ballarat Water Commission, and Mr. Holden, a Liberal member, was first given a seat on the Harbor Trust, Geelong, and when he resigned that appointment, was made chairman of the Harbor Trust in Melbourne. Yet honorable members opposite talk about “ Tammany Hall.” The last instance is that of Mr. Deakin, who has been appointed to represent Australia at the Panama Exhibition.
– Everybody is proud of that appointment.
– I am not questioning the appointment, which may be all right as an appointment.
– Mr. Deakin is not to be paid.
– But similar appointments made by the Labour party would not be allowed to pass without criticism and strong objection. Under all the circumstances, I hope we have heard the last from honorable members opposite of “ spoils to the victors.” Before the reform of the Public Service in Victoria it was notorious that Liberals retained their hold on their constituencies simply in proportion to the number of their friends for whom they secured public appointments; and it was the advent of the Labour party which made merit and competition the test, and gave a chance to all, irrespective of political influence.
– The amendment of the Public Service Act in Victoria was before there was any Labour party in the State.
– The Public Service Act of New South Wales was introduced by the Reid Government.
– So long as the working classes remained quiet, and refused to organize for political action, the Liberals exercised to the full the policy of “ spoils to the victors,” but with the. growth of the Labour party that policy has declined. I understand that this Bill is introduced by the Government in the belief that it will be rejected by the Senate, and that this fact will be sufficient on which to claim a double dissolution. Personally, I do not think the Government have any chance of attaining their object; but it would, I believe, be to the great advantage of the Labour party if the Governor-General were at once approached with the proposition. As Parliament is constituted to-day, we cannot carry any effective legislation.
– Hear, hear!
– The Prime Minister can end the matter by remaining away from the division this afternoon. By being defeated and handing in his resignation he will bring us within measurable distance of what we ought to have - a dissolution of the House of Representatives.
– Does the honorable member think that if we went to the country, and came back here very strong, we could get any measures through the Senate ?
– The Government might then have a reasonable ground for asking for a double dissolution. As matters stand now, I think they know they have no hope of getting it. Their own press supporters are to a large extent against them on this matter. Listen to what one of their chief advocates - Melbourne Punch - says about the two measures in its issue of 7th May, 1913 : -
But is the Senate unworkable simply because it declines to pass a Bill to prohibit preference to unionists in Government employment? A preference which is now non-existent, which is forbidden by Executive minute, and which cannot conceivably come into force before general elections come round again in the ordinary way. This tuppeny Bill is much too small to justify a double dissolution. And the other test measure - that providing for Postal Voting - is equally trivial.
I quite agree with that ; but it was a surprise to me to read it in Punch. Honorable members may laugh at my quoting that paper, but I can assure them that it has an influence in Victoria somewhat similar to that of the Sydney Bulletin, only on more Conservative lines. In this matter it has published the truth, or, as the honorable member for West Sydney would say, it has seen the light, realizing the futility of Parliament continuing as at present. It sees that the Prime Minister will probably be refused a double dissolution, and that Parliament will be just as unworkable then as it is now. If the Prime Minister really desires to secure a double dissolution, let him bring down measures of some importance, such as the Electoral Reform Bill, which he introduced at the beginning of last session. By that measure the Government proposed to tamper with the ballot by compelling every elector to sign a block. I suppose that Bill represented the mature convictions of the Government. It involved the complete alteration of the Electoral Act. By re-introducing it, and also bringing in a Bill to abolish preference to unionists for all unions in Australia, I honestly believe the Government would get their double dissolution; but they are not prepared to do that. They bring in a Bill, which, if carried into effect, will mean nothing, and apply to nobody. Throughout the debate I have not heard one honorable member on the Ministerial side affirm that, should the Labour party win at the next election, it would be necessary for them even to repeal the Bill. They could give preference to the casuals in the Public Service without even taking the trouble to introduce a repealing measure. If that be so, it passes my understanding why the Government introduced this Bill, whilst so much important legislation needs to be passed. There must be some motive underlying its introduction. I honestly believe that it is a direct blow at the trade unions.
– The honorable member has just said that important business cannot be done.
– I say the Government have made no attempt to do it. There are any number of measures of a non-party character, although they may be contentious, which could be introduced, such as the Tariff Anomalies Bill, and a
Social Insurance Bill. There would be differences of opinion upon- the rectification of Tariff anomalies, but the Government have pledged themselves to that policy, and on this side, with the exception of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, every member is pledged to it, as laid down by our leader, the right honorable member for Wide Bay.
– I must claim exemption from that pledge.
– The honorable member is another exception ; but I know I am pledged to vote for it, and the great majority of our party are in accord with our leader on the question. What is the motive underlying this measure? We read about speeches made by the Prime Minister in days gone by in defence of trade unionism. I should have loved to be in the New South Wales Parliament, even if only in the gallery, to listen to the eloquent speeches he made in his early days in defence of the principle of trade unionism.
– I am prepared to defend it to-day.
– I must take leave to doubt it, when I see the honorable gentleman associating himself with the AttorneyGeneral, who, by his every public action, has done his level best to destroy trade unionism. There is an old saying that a man is judged by the company he keeps.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
– We have been told over and over again by the Ministry that they have a mandate from the country to bring in this Bill, and that by opposing the measure we are preventing the wish of the country being given effect to.
– It was not mentioned in the Prime Minister’s policy speech.
– But, first of all, I deny that Ministers have a mandate from the country. So far as the Senate is concerned, the Liberal party went to the electors fourteen strong, and returned numbering seven, while, so far as the House of Representatives is concerned, the members of the Opposition secured a majority of about 50,000 votes over the votes polled for honorable members on the Ministerial side. That effectually disposes of the argument that the Ministry received a mandate from the country to bring in this Bill. I admit that during the last election preference to unionists was made a party cry in the Ballarat electorate, and I defended the principle, because I believe in industrial peace, and that only by effective organization among employers and employes can we have industrial peace. The Attorney-General attempts to charge members of this party with being Syndicalists, and he spoke of general strikes and such like, seeking to prove that in this way the Syndicalist section of the community was controlling the Labour party; but I have been studying some matters in connexion with the Syndicalists’ movement, and I should like to read the following from S. P. Orth’s book - Socialism and Democracy in Europe -
It is not easy to classify syndicalism) for it refuses to be called anarchism, repudiates the leadership of socialism, and scorns to bc merely trade unionism. The following arc its principal characteristics. It is disheartened’ with socialism, because, it says, socialists have lost their ideals in the race for political power. Law making is useless, because no laws can emancipate the working men. It therefore despises governments and abjures parliaments.
Clearly showing that the methods of the Syndicalists are totally different from those of the Labour party. Syndicalists do not take part in elections, and they do not believe in Arbitration Courts or Wages Boards, whereas the methods of the Labour movement are the very opposite. The Labour party believes in organizing workmen so that they can, by . application to Arbitration Courts, have their grievances adjusted. When the trade unionist gives up the right to strike he certainly should be given preference in employment. During the last ten or twelve years I have seen miner after miner boycotted and denied the right to earn a livelihood for himself and those dependent on him for committing no crime except that of belonging to a political labour league or a trade union. Preference is given in all sections of the community, yet the Ministry in their Bill make no attempt to interfere with that which exists among the commercial classes. On the Stock Exchange the sharebrokers have preference of a very strong character. The number of members of the Stock Exchange in Victoria is limited, and it is not a case of paying an entrance fee of a few pound n or a few shillings.
– The honorable member can commence as a broker tomorrow if he likes.
– That statement is not correct as applied to Victoria, because “ there the membership of the Stock Ex- change is very limited, and until a mem»ber resigns or dies no one can become a member of the Exchange.
– You may start as an independent sharebroker. You need not be a member of the Stock Exchange.
– Furthermore, sharebrokers carry on their transactions in secret. They traffic with people’s shares, but do not allow the people to go in and see them bought or sold. I understand that the price of membership of the Stock Exchange in Victoria is from £100 to £800.
– In Sydney the price is £1,000.
– These people certainly exercise a very strong preference. They are the sole judges of who should be competitors. It is strange that most of these men are bitterly opposed to preference to unionists. Apparently preference is all right for a certain class when it is put into operation, not for the purpose of securing a living, but in order to get luxuries; but it is all wrong when it is put into operation by the working classes in order to try to get a bare living. Again, we have the auctioneers, who, by law, have a very strong preference. A man pays so much for a licence-fee; it is not open for si ny one to become an auctioneer unless he has the capital with which to pay the licence-fee. In Victoria, a man need have no character to become an auctioneer, so long as he has the necessary capital. As to references, one can get them by the dozen ; they do not count for much ; so that it is easy to get a licence. The doctors also have a union, and there is strong preference among them. The honorable member for Barker will remember the time when doctors were brought out from the Old Country for the Adelaide Hospital, and other doctors would not consult with them because they did not happen to belong to the Doctors “Union. The barristers also have a close organization, and compel every person who requires their services to employ a member of it. Yet these are the people who denounce -preference to unionists as applied to industrial organizations. I cannot understand their attitude. They should be the last to object to the- principle. So far as the Bill is concerned, members of the Labour party have no need to fear when they go before the electors, but what we have to fear greatly is misrepresentation by the other side. The issue was made most difficult for us at the last election by reason of the statements appearing in the Argus day by day that preference to unionists meant that the sons and daughters of farmers would not be allowed to work on their parents’ farms unless they joined the unions.
– And what does the Act say about that?
– The Act is very clear upon the point.
– There is truth in it, because a nephew of mine - a schoolboy sixteen years of age - spent his holidays on my place, and the shearers would not allow him to go into the shed unless he joined the union.
– Quite right, too. You would fill the shed with “ scabs “ if the shearers would stand it.
– I suppose that it is one of the rules of the union that all employes should belong to the union. In that case it was not a question of prohibition by law ; it was a question of prohibition by reason of the strength of the union. And why should the nephew of the Postmaster-General be permitted to earn the increased wages secured by the Australian Workers Union and not pay something towards the expense of securing them ? Section 40 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act says -
The Court, by its award, or by order made on the application of any organization, or person bound by the award, may -
direct that, as between members of organizations of employers or employes, and other persons (not being sons or daughters of employers) offering or desiring service or employment at the same time, preference shall, in such manner as is specified in the award or order, bc given to such members, other things being equal.
But it is of no use quoting that section, because during the next election we shall again have to reply to the misrepresentations of the Liberal party. They will again appeal to the orchardists, telling them about the children not being allowed to pick a little fruit on their return from school unless they are members of the union. That is one of the statements that appeared in the Argus at the last election, notwithstanding that the section I have just quoted was specially inserted in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. We are accused of bringing about industrial unrest, but there is another section which was put in the Act, and was intended to prevent strikes. I quote it, because, if an election does take place, I wish members of the Liberal party to go to the country knowing exactly what is in the Act. Section 6 says -
No pe-son or organization shall, on account of any industrial dispute, do anything in the nature of a lock-out or strike, or continue any lock-out or strike.
Penalty: One thousand pounds.
There has not been a strike by any industrial organization registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. There can be no preference extended to an organization that does strike. We have never asked for it. I would not be a party to asking for preference to an organization that imposes heavy entrance-fees or makes itself a close corporation. When unions apply to the Arbitration Court they have to prove that their entrance-fees are not heavy, and that the door is open to practically any one to join - that is, any one of good character. Those who have always been opponents of the toilers of the community claim that this Bill is brought in in order to protect the workers and look after the welfare of those who are not members of a union. As a matter of fact, those who are not members of a union, or who work in localities where no unions exist, are very few. We have what is known as Packer’s Union in Victoria. In the creation of a new Wages Board in Victoria the other day, Sir Alexander Peacock, the Minister for Labour, nominated certain members of Packer’s Union, but the members of the industrial union objected, and demanded a ballot of all the employes in the industry. In the ballot that took place, not only did the members of Packer’s Union vote, but also the other employe’s, and the highest vote accorded to a member of the genuine union was 840, whilst the highest vote accorded to a representative of Packer’s Union was 180. I know for a fact that numbers of men belonging to Packer’s Union would not trust their own representatives on the Wages Board.
– They were business men.
– They were. They knew that representatives of a union,, which existed only by the goodwill of the> employers, and was subsidized by the employers, were not likely to fight for fair conditions when face to face with theemployer at the Wages Board table, and? for that reason they preferred membersof the Agricultural Implement WorkersUnion to be their representatives on the Wages Board. Yet we are told by the Attorney-General that this Bill is brought in to preserve the liberty and freedom of the British subject. The words “ liberty ‘* and “ freedom “ come glibly from the lips of the Attorney-General, who, in view of his record in Victoria, should be the last to talk about such things. I shall never forget that the honorable member as Premier of Victoria brought in the Strike Coercion Bill which - destroyed a great principle of Magna Charta inasmuch as it deprived prisoners of all right to bail; it made every arrested person guilty unless he proved himself innocent, thus subverting a well-known principle of criminal law under which any prisoner is allowed to plead “ not guilty “ ; it permitted a Court to be held privately anywhere, for the obvious purposes of “rigging” the Bench, preventing publiccriticism, and rendering null and void a publicsafeguard which compels all prisoners to betaken to the nearest Court of Petty Sessions for trial; it deprived men of all accrued rights; it rendered any one who published or said anything in favour of the strikers or against theGovernment liable to £100 fine and twelvemonths’ imprisonment-
– Order !
– Surely I am in order, sir. I. am trying to show what wemay expect from this Government if this Bill is passed, and they get a double dissolution and come back into power. We can only judge the party by their actions in the past. My purpose is to tell the people what the Attorney-General did when Premier of Victoria, and what he is likely to repeat if he is again returned to power in this Parliament.
– The honorable member must connect those remarks with the Bill. I do not desire to interrupt him, but I cannot see any connexion between this matter and the subject-matter of the Bill.
– This Bill is dealing with public employe’s, and what I am quoting refers to a Bill introduced by the
Attorney-General as Premier of Victoria to deal with the railway employes.
It sternly repressed all meetings of six people or more, unless they could prove to the satisfaction of any policeman that nothing was said in reference to the strike; it gave any officer of police power to enter any meeting anywhere, and disperse it in five minutes under pain of immediate arrest without warrant; it gave any person power to seize any publication or newspaper or document that such person might consider disloyal to the Government and in favour of the strikers, and destroy it; it prevented the handling of any money by any one, if such money were to bo used in any direct or indirect way to assist a striker or a woman or children; it absolutely destroyed all legal rights of the strikers under any existing law by retrospective provisions, thus, in a cowardly way, affirming the Tory principle that all men are not equal before the law; and it degraded Victorian law by placing the power of manufacturing offences in the hands of the police and the Irvine Government.
– Who said that ?
– Those were the provisions of the Coercion Bill introduced by the Attorney-General when Premier of Victoria. At that particular juncture the Attorney-General had come into- power on a wave of public opinion in connexion with the Kyabram movement. His party inflamed the public mind against the working classes, and obtained a snatch majority at the polls. Their industrial legislation prevented new Wages Boards being created, and they rescinded all humane legislation. The Liberals are now talking about interference with the rights of the British subject, and about the wrongs that will occur if the Labour party get into power again and reintroduce preference to unionists in the Public Service. I am prepared to fight that question on the public platform. We are not advocating preference to unionists for entry into the Government service. We have our Public Service Commissioner. He holds examinations of candidates, and entry is by merit alone. This Bill applies only to casuals in the Government service, and already by administrative act the Government have taken away the right of preference to unionists in connexion with casual employment. I hope that the Government succeed in getting this measure to the Governor-General at once, so that we may have the answer without delay. So far as I am concerned, I am quite willing and ready. I do not think there will be a double dissolution, but if the Government are in earnest there ought to be a single dissolution, when I hope they will be defeated and give way to somebody who will bring in legislation which will be beneficial to all the people of the Commonwealth. I will give my vote against the third reading, in the hope that the Bill will be defeated, and I may remark, in passing, that it is the custom, when numbers are equal, not to destroy existing legislation. I trust that on its third reading the Bill will be defeated.
.- I rise to support the third reading of this Bill, and I do so for several reasons. Firstly, I see in this Bill a possibility of overcoming the present impossible political situation. The present Leader of the Opposition found it impossible to carry on the Government of the country, inasmuch as he was in a minority in the House, and the power was transferred to the present Government. They in turn find it impossible to do much that they desire to do in the way of legislation. Consequently, they are taking a course of action which may possibly lead to a double dissolution. For my part, I hope it will have that effect, and that is one of the reasons why I support the Bill. If we can get the measure through this Chamber, I feel certain that in another Chamber it will be dealt with differently. But be that as it may, we have a hope, under those circumstances, of going to the country either on a double- dissolution or a dissolution of only this Chamber. I would welcome either one or the other; but I do say that, from our point of view, it would be a grave disadvantage to us, and, I believe, a grave disadvantage to this country, if we did not go to the country on a double dissolution, so that senators might be able to assert their right to be as they are, just as we are called upon to assert our right to be as we are. There is the significant fact in regard to this measure, that it has been stigmatized by the Opposition as a most unimportant Bill. Strangely enough, while that has been the attitude of our honorable friends opposite, there has never been any Bill debated at such length at its various stages -as has this one. Never before have I heard a Bill debated at such length on the motion for leave to introduce.
– Four of your men stuck us up for fifty hours.
– I am referring to the motion for leave to introduce. The opposition to which the honorable member refers was on a gerrymandering electoral Bill. On every occasion when it has been possible to raise a debate on this Bill, and to exercise the undoubted right of honorable members under the Standing Orders, that right has been exercised by honorable members opposite. Why? Was it to demonstrate that the Bill was of no importance; or was it to demonstrate that the Bill was so important that honorable members were determined to talk it out, if possible, so that it should not be sent up to the Senate and pave the way for a double dissolution? I venture to think that there has been no Bill of more importance to this country than this one. Judged by even the actions of honorable members opposite, and judged also by the fact that it deals with a fundamental principle, that principle being that inasmuch as every individual in the land is called upon to pay a fair share of taxation, irrespective of his politics, in a like manner each man in the land is entitled to a fair share of employment. As to the merits of the Bill itself, I say that it is a move in the right direction. Every day the Executive is taking powers away from Parliament. The Executive of the Fisher Government decreed that there should be preference to unionists, and established a policy of that kind; the present Government came into power, and by Executive act repealed that decree. But if this Bill becomes law, no longer will it be possible for another Government to give preference to unionists by an Executive act. This is a big question, involving a fundamental principle, and such a principle should not be given effect to by the Executive, except by direction of Parliament in the form of an Act. The honorable member for Capricornia said that he believed in unionism in every form. I do not. I believe in trade unionism. I am deeply sensible of the fact that trade unions are rightly in a position to assert their influence and rights, and secure things which are fair and legitimate, but I am in opposition to political trade unionism. There is a peculiar phenomenon in New Zealand known by the Maoris as “aitu hawatu.” It is a grub about 2 inches long. A parasite attacks it, and it thereupon makes a hole in the ground some inches deep, and out of its mouth grows a plant. The peculiar thing is that the grub, nevertheless, maintains its form, and, when dug up, is worshipped by the Maories. The life history of this grub illustrates what has happened to trade unionism. You have buried trade unionism, and out of its mouth has grown something that is an evil, and will blast the workers first, and finally the whole community. It will ultimately destroy Unionism. What are the political trade unionists? Let us judge them according to their merits. We all know the pledge that the unionist has to sign. It takes from every man his individuality. Unionists must submit their will and judgment to the decision of a chance majority. The pledge which they take destroys their manhood, and makes them slaves. I am an Australian native, and have travelled a great deal in this country, and possess a large practical knowledge of affairs. I know that when you ask many men whether they are unionists, you are told, “ I am a unionist because I cannot afford to be anything else ; had I not joined a union, I could not have continued to live in Australia.” Men are forced into unions for political reasons. Any man who will not join a union is called a “scab,” and all sorts of unseemly and opprobrious epithets are applied to him. The honorable member for Ballarat has asserted that certain members of Mr. Packer’s union distrust their leaders, and would not assist them with their votes to obtain certain positions. What confidence have unionists in one another? Every shearer belongs to a union, and one of the conditions forced on the shearera which shows that they do not trust each other is that which compels them to allow the owner or overseer of the station on which they work to deduct from their wages the money due to the union.
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the Bill.
– I am showing the absolute necessity for a Bill to render preference to unionists in Government employment impossible. One of the reasons why we should insist upon Government employes being free men is that unionists are compelled to contribute to political funds. When the honorable member for Darling Downs was speaking in this House on one occasion, in 1912, he asked, “ Are not members of unions required to make contributions for political purposes?” and the present Leader of the Opposition replied, “ Many of them are not.” That was an admission that many of them are compelled to contribute to funds for fighting the political battles of a certain party. Is it right or fair that a political party should be supported by forced payments? I have been accused several times of having made a certain statement regarding the entrancefees charged by particular unions, and have endeavoured, by interjection, to make it plain that I merely repeated a statement uttered in this chamber by the honorable member for Boothby. The honorable member said that the Townsville Wharf Labourers Union charges an entrance fee of £50.
– He has admitted since that he knew nothing at all about the matter. Some honorable members opposite must have told him.
– It is a matter of indifference who told him; he thought the statement of sufficient importance to repeat it, and thus became responsible for it. The forms of the House will not permit me to quote from the official report of his remarks, because the speech was not made during the debate on this Bill.
– Yes, it was.
– Then I shall read it. The honorable member for Boothby said -
The objection is raised that some unions make it next to impossible for new members to join by making the entrance fees too high. I do not know whether there is any truth in the assertion, but I was told that one union charged new members £20. I was also told the other day by a man in the train that the Townsville Wharf Labourers Union is charging new members £50, making it manifestly impossible for any working man to enter that union. I have not ascertained whether that statement is correct, but if it is true, these heavy entrance fees are imposed in order to protect the unions from a financial point of view. It must be remembered that these organizations commenced operations many years ago, and their older members have paid large sums to bring them to their present financial position. The members of the Port Adelaide Working Men’s Union have, for many years past, regularly contributed to the union through weekly payments, and levies, and special calls on the death of members. Some members of this organization, which is now fairly wealthy as unions go, have paid in hundreds of pounds, and naturally they contend, as the older members of a lodge would contend, that a heavy entrance fee should be charged to those who wish to partake of all the benefits the union can give them. In fact, they would be doing wrong if they did not act in such a way.
In any case, the fact remains that men who are forced into unions are compelled to contribute to their funds, and in thousands of cases the contributions are above the means of men seeking employment. How do the unionists treat those who are outside unions? Let me give a few of the statements, not of privates in the ranks of unionism, not of mere nobodies, but of leaders of the movement. Mr. F. Hyett, secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Employes, who took a leading part in the implementmakers’ strike, declared at the Trades Hall, on the 3rd March, 1912, that -
If it were necessary to make the life of a non-unionist a hell upon earth while it lasted, they would have to do it.
Where is your Christianity, or your sense of justice, when you try to make the lives of those who do not see as you see a hell upon earth ? Shame upon those who adopt such an attitude. Mr. L. Cohen, speaking at the Trades Hall, said -
The Federal Ministry (the Fisher Ministry) was carrying out the platform of the Labour party. The Ministers were elected to give preference to unionists. Non-unionists should be put off the face of the earth.
The Christians! Senator Rae has said that -
Any violence done to non-unionists was justified.
Kick them, shoot them, do as you like with them, they are non-unionists -
If they were shot, or put to death, it was not more than they deserved.
I propose now to put before the House a statement made by another leading member of the Labour party. No man stands higher in the estimation of the Labour party than does the president of the Australian Workers Union, the honorable member for Darling, who, on one occasion, said of certain unionists, “ They are a lot of bushrangers.” That was the way he described employes of the New South Wales Worker who were on strike.
– For higher wages.
– Quite so. They merely asked for the same rates of wages that were being paid in other newspaper offices. They persisted in their demand, and the honorable member for Darling - the uncrowned king of the Australian workers, the man who in reality “ ruled the roost ‘ ‘ while the right honorable member for Wide Bay was presumably Prime Minister of Australia - complained that these unionists were a “lot of bushrangers “ because they made that reasonable demand. All these important facts must be borne in mind when we are discussing this measure. Men who have asserted that unionists are bushrangers, and that non-unionists ought to be shot, have deliberately and with malice aforethought asked for preference to unionists in Government employment. With my last breath I shall fight against such an iniquity; I shall fight it to the death.
– I wish to make a personal explanation regarding a statement deliberately made by me on two occasions, and for which I take the full responsibility, but which seems to have been misunderstood by some honorable members opposite. The statement in question, as reported in Hansard, is plain enough to me, but apparently it is not to some of my honorable friends opposite. When speaking of compulsory unionism. I said that I had been told by a fellow traveller in a railway train that an entrance fee of £50 was being demanded by the Townsville branch of the Wharf Labourers Union. I did not believe that that statement was correct, and I think that in the course of my speech I mentioned that disbelief on my part. I merely gave the statement for what it was worth, and pointed out that if it were true it would be an argument in favour of compulsory unionism.
.- The chief contention advanced by the honorable member for Echuca was that unions which comprised only a minority of workers compelled the majority outside to join their ranks. That argument needs only to be stated in order to lay bare its complete and utter absurdity. Unionism is contributed to by men who have a very strong social sense, and who entertain for their fellows, on a minor scale, the feelings and sentiments upon which civilized society has been established. With this brief reference I shall dismiss the honorable member’s speech, because nearly everything that he said had been heard before, and answered again and again in this chamber. I would, however, ask him, as well as those who feel as he does, whether it is not correct that every measure introduced into Parliament is supposed to be in response to some popular demand. And I would ask him and his fellow supporters of the Government to show that there has been any popular outcry for this Bill. Have any petitions been presented to this House, or have any public meetings been held to support it? Is there any clamour for it on the part of the people outside ?
– The question was settled at the last election.
– To justify the holding up of the proper business of Parliament, in order to pass a measure of this kind, which has been described as fraudulent - and I have no doubt that it is largely a sham - the Government should be able to claim that they have a clear and decisive mandate from the people in favour of it. The honorable member for Wannon interjected a moment or two ago that the question had been settled at the last general election.
– And settled very emphatically.
– It may have been decided in some of the Western district townships where the honorable member rusticated before he honored this House with his presence; but wherever. the issue was submitted to the free Democracy of Australia the answer given every time was in favour of preference to unionists. And. why ? Because in 99 cases out of 100 the unionist is not only the best workman, but the best citizen. He is more obedient to the law, and has developed a higher . communal sense than has the non-unionist, and, therefore, is entitled to be recognised by the laws of his country. I have pointed out that neither a petition nor a resolution passed at any public meeting has reached this House in favour of ‘ the Bill. The only expression of opinion that we have had in its favour has come from partisan newspapers which support the Government in everything they do, and in every proposal they choose to initiate in this Parliament. Honorable members opposite are following an ignis fatuus, if they think that those newspapers represent or reflect the public feeling of Australia. It has been amply proved during the last ten. years that they represent the views of only a few individuals. I ask the honorable member for Wannon and others who are new to this Chamber to look back at the history of political parties in this House during the first ten years of its existence. In 1901 the Labour party in this Chamber numbered only sixteen out of a total membership of seventy-five. Nine years later, despite the continuous denunciation of these powerful newspapers throughout Australia, the Labour party was returned by the people of the Commonwealth with a commanding majority in both Houses of the Parliament. The honorable member for Wannon should remember that important and salient fact when he is yielding to the dictation of, let us say, the Argus. He should recognise that in accepting the dictation of these newspapers regarding a measure of this kind he is following a false and illusive light.
– But the Labour party went back a lot at the last election.
– I am not going to enter into an elaborate calculation of the number of votes polled by each party at the last general election, because I think it has been shown already in this House that in the aggregate more votes were polled by Labour candidates than by those ou the other side.
– For both Houses.
– Quite so. I feel constrained to refer to the methods by which this Bill has been pushed through the House, both on this and on a previous occasion ; and, since I had not the privilege of being a member of this House last session, my comments may be regarded as those of a detached spectator. It seems to ‘me that one of the gravest sins that a political party could commit would be to manufacture a majority by suspending or expelling a member of the opposite party. I am glad to say that nothing of that kind had ever happened before in the National Parliament.
– Order 1
– Every friend of the Constitution and of Democracy-
– I must ask the honorable member not to refer to that matter. He is reflecting on a decision of the House, which is prohibited by the Standing Orders.
– I am making but a passing reference to it, and do not intend to enter upon anything in the nature of a discussion.
– The honorable member will see that he is reflecting on a decision of the House.
– I am expressing the pious hope of every friend of the Constitution and of Democracy that nothing of the kind will ever happen again, at all events, in this Parliament.
– Order !
– I think that much is in order. I can conceive of nothing more discreditable, except the incident I have just referred to, than that you, Mr. Speaker, should be elevated to a position
– Order !
– I am making only a passing reference -to the matter.
– The honorable member is out of order in referring to it.
– I know that there is a notice of motion on the business-paper relating to the innovation by which your rulings may not be challenged, but I do not propose to enter into the merits of the question.
– The question before the Chair is that this Bill be read a third time, and the matter to which the honorable member is referring has absolutely no connexion with it.
– But if the third reading of this Bill has been promoted by methods that are not in accordance with the traditions of Parliament-
– The honorable member must know that he is not in order in reflecting on any action of the House.
– I hope, sir, that you will listen to what I have to say. I submit with great respect that if I can show that the third reading of this Bill has been promoted by measures which have not been sanctioned in this House before, or, so far as I know, in the Imperial Parliament, by whose practice we are guided, I shall be in order: I bow, however, with great deference to your ruling. The Government, in my opinion, will be greatly disappointed with the result of this measure, even if it meets with the fate which they hope it will in another place. I do not think that the people of tha country are so agitated on this question as the Attorney-General and other members of the Ministry appear to think, and wish them to be. At any rate, T have seen no evidence outside the columns of partisan newspapers that the public ire taking any very great interest in the question. We have to remember that, after all, this class that we are supposed to be protecting has never given the slightest sign of making themselves vocal on tha matter. We have not had a solitary word from any non-unionist that he has been deprived of employment since the Labour Government issued their edi-;t. Surely before we are asked to pass a Bill of this kind we ought to have some proof that the present condition of affairs mea:is injustice for some portion of the community.
– If they “ kicked “ they would be made marked men !
– Not at all; they have proper means by petition, public meeting, and otherwise of making their opinions known ; and, as they have taken no steps, the inference is that they have no grievance. In the course of my life I have met some non-unionists, and I think they may be divided into two classes. First, there is the non-unionist who is a man of strong individualistic views, and who believes that he can fight his way alone. He desires to be as unfettered as possible by the regulations imposed by society. He has not inherited or acquired the social and fraternal sense which recognises the obligations of the strong to the weak - of the fit to the unfit. The other and larger class is represented by the men who wish to obtain benefits for which they refuse to make any payment or sacrifice. As a Parliament, we ought not to hold up our proper business in order to legislate for the benefit of people of the latter type. I have no intention of making any references that are not quite courteous to the Attorney-General. But in his peregrinations around the coun- try prior to the election, he laid down very clearly, from his point of view, the law of conspiracy. I understand the honorable member to mean that, while an individual may give up his employment, and be perfectly legally entitled to do so, if he agrees with one or two others that they shall also give up their employment they are guilty of conspiracy.
– Not necessarily; there is another element required. They have to agree together to give up their employment to the injury of other people. I admit that people have the right to agree together to stop work for the purpose of bettering their own conditions.
– Just so. If they inflict any hardship or injustice on a third party they are guilty of conspiracy?
– If they do it for that purpose.
– If that be so then the Attorney-General has greatly failed in his duty, for not only have working men combined to raise their wages, thereby inflicting some hardship on those who have to pay the wages, but all engaged in trade have combined to raise prices, and thereby inflicted injury on the community. If workers are to be condemned for combination then all who combine to make undue profits are even more deserving of censure. The Attorney-General has never yet answered the case that has been made out against him, namely, that he. the great promoter of this Bill, has himself sinned in the way for which he condemns unionists. The honorable member for West Sydney read the rules of the Bar Association of Victoria and the pledges which the Attorney-General as a member, signed, I presume, in the days before he thought he would occupy his present position. The honorable gentleman has a clear case to answer, but no answer has he , yet given. He has often complained of, or, at any rate, he has resented the comments on his conduct passed from this side of the House.
– No, I do not mind them.
– I am sure that the honorable gentleman does not approve of the use of violent language by one party against another. Such language, of course, proves nothing, but I desire to show by reference to a newspaper that I shall quote that violent and intemperate language is not used by one party exclusively. I have here a newspaper said to be subsidized by the Employers Federation, and, I believe, by the association with which the honorable member for Riverina is connected.
– The honorable member is not correct, so far as I know; that >;, if he is referring to Liberty and Progress.
– That is the publication. I did not say that I absolutely knew the fact, but the inference is that the newspaper is subsidized by some employers’ organizations, for it certainly could not live on the support it otherwise receives. I feel quite certain that if a Labour journal had written of a Supreme Court Judge in the terms used by this periodical in reference to Mr. Justice Higgins there would have been a charge of contempt of Court, or measures taken by the Government of the day to punish the authors oP the libel. In Liberty and Progress of 25th May, the very last issue, there is the following -
The position of President of the Arbitration Court is a difficult one. It is probable that any one who fills it must lean a little towards Labour; but, unfortunately, Mr. Justice Higgins was altogether on one side, and knew no other that was over worth listening to. It is true he has never granted the unionists their full demands; hut, as these demands arc always made higher than the unions are prepared to accept, there is nothing to be said in praise pf any apparent moderation on His
Honour’s part….. But wo are at a loss to understand why His Honour should have “ wished prosperity to the great enterprises that had been before him.”
I ask the Attorney-General to give attention to what follows -
It is not in the best of taste for the Lord High Executioner to be so solicitous about th, welfare of li is victims. It is rather like rubbing the salt in; especially after an award in “ the Waterside Workers case, which was extravagant and beyond all reason, and has created discontent in almost every trade, because His Honour gave unskilled workers a much higher wage than is being earned by any average artisan. In surveying industry from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Hobson’s Bay, His Honour lias, unfortunately, regarded it with the eye of a Socialist. Proudhon once said, “All property is robbery.” His Honour added the remarkable dictum in one of his judgments that “ all employers are highwaymen.”
This newspaper virtually charges a Judge of the High Court with indorsing the sentiment that all property is robbery, and with expressing his own opinion that “ all employers are highwaymen.” I have followed pretty closely the remarks of Mr. Justice Higgins in the various cases that have come before him, and I do not remember his use of any such words, or any words bearing any resemblance to those I have just read. The article goes on to say -
The more recent judgments of the High Court considerably amplify the powers of the Federal arbitration tribunal. Rightly or wrongly, it is evident that it will soon bc dealing with all our industries on a most extensive scale. There exists, therefore, the gravest necessity for giving the Court a fair trial. Such a trial it cannot have when its powers are wielded by a partisan.
I wonder what would have been the fate of a Labour newspaper ten or fifteen years ago had it printed in its columns the statement that a Judge of the Su- preme Court was a partisan. If the Court itself had not taken action, the Government of the day would have done so -
Its President should not be a Socialist, or a man whose economic views ure of such a distorted character that he can express himself in the insulting terms which have been used from time to time by Mr. Justice Higgins.
There are many other matters connected with the Bill to which I should have liked to refer, but in view of the agreement made to take a division at 4 o’clock, I shall merely summarize my remarks by saying that I offer the strongest objection both to the measure itself and to the methods by which it has been bludgeoned through the House.
– At this stage I do not propose to detain the House many minutes. It may be fairly said that the question has not suffered for want of discussion; but by way of explanation or extenuation it may just as fairly be added that no subject ever better deserved discussion. Had the Minister in charge of the measure so far condescended as to explain the real reason for its introduction, I venture to say that the debate would have been considerably shortened. However, the position as set forth by the Government is that this measure has been introduced for the purpose of putting an end to a state of things in the Public Service which the Attorney-General has told us has become intolerable. No one who has the welfare of his country at heart could but unaffectedly rejoice at such a desirable consummation. The soul of the patriot straining at the leash, over-eager, as it were, to serve his country on these rare occasions, when his patriotism brings forth fruit, has a right to be glad. Here it is alleged that a state of things exists, or existed, when this Ministry came into office, which, by all accounts- I mean all accounts from the other side - was most deplorable, amounting to a state of positive political immorality throughout the Public Service. Last evening the Minister of Trade and Customs said that “ political corruption “ actually existed at that time. Of course we are given to understand that this dreadful state of things no longer exists; and it was to put an end to it that the honorable gentleman came into office. The kind of political immorality that ‘allegedly existed was very shortly this: The trade unions of this country were gravely suspected, not, I admit, without reason, of supporting the Labour party. It has come, in these later days, to a pretty fine state of affairs when a large and considerable number of men deliberately support a party like ours; but such, unhappily, is the case. But even this was not the worst case. There were grave reasons for the suspicion that they are not only supporting this party by their votes, but are also actually so far forgetful of what is right and proper as to spend their money in supporting this party. To the honorable and learned gentleman that is a shocking and an intolerable state of affairs, and he determined to put an end to it. He proposes to proceed to do so by, first of all, putting an end to favoritism in the Public Service; that is, he puts an end to the practice known as preference to unionists, and by administrative act the Government has actually put an end to preference to unionists. That is the position to-day. I have not very much time at my disposal, and I must come, perforce, right to what I have to say. The AttorneyGeneral, speaking on the second reading, asked, in reference to an argument used by me that the Bill was intended “ not to abolish preference to unionists, but to give preference to non-unionists, what tittle of evidence could be brought forward in order to support that argument?” He said that if honorable members knew that that was the object of the Bill, they should bring forward acts in proof of their statement. I accept that challenge. I say, deliberately, that this measure is introduced in order to give preference to non-unionists, and that it would never have been introduced had it not been obvious to honorable members opposite that they did not get one union vote out of every 100. It is a purely party measure, introduced for purely party purposes. The tremendous display of patriotic fanaticism that has been exhibited during the last fewdays has been really directed - not against unionism, not even against political unionism in itself - but has been occasioned liecause unionists have dared to choose to support the Labour party, whose policy in their opinion is best calculated to further the interests of the Commonwealth of Australia. That is the true reason of all this posturing.
The Attorney-General says thatfavoritism in the Public Service is incom patible with political morality; and he proposes to put an end to all favoritism, either by social influences, or by political influences, or by trade union influences. He has challenged me to produce some evidence that the Bill is a measure to promote preference to non-unionists. The best of all evidence is, of course, written documents bearing directly on the matter in dispute, and in the little time that I have at my disposal I can deal with only one or two of such documents. On the 12th May of this year of our Lord 1914, a gentleman, whose name I shall not mention, received from the Resident Engineer at Jervis Bay a reply to his application for employment in a temporary capacity. This did not happen last century, or last year, or even last month; it happened during this month. This was the reply he received -
Commonwealth of Australia.
Resident Engineer’s Office,
Naval College, Jervis Bay, 12th May, 1914
I am in receipt of your application for employment, dated the 10th instant, and should be glad if you would furnish me with the name of your union and also further particulars of your experience. (Sgd.)…………………
– By the Resident Engineer - Mr. Jeffrey is, I think, the name ; but the name is not so important as the astounding nature of the communication. I venture to say that in the history of the Commonwealth Public Service this is absolutely unique. On the 19th of the same month there came from the same gentleman to this applicant the following communication : -
Naval College, 19th May, 1914
In reply to your application for employment here, I have to inform you that there are no vacancies at present. Your name has, however, been filed for future reference.
But two days subsequently another person, whose name I have here set down, but which I shall not give, and who had been communicated with in the same terms, but did not give the name of his union as the other gentleman did, was sent to work at Jervis Bay. The honorable the Attorney-General has asked for evidence, and here it is, and very much to the point. Look at the language of the first note, which says: - “ I should be glad if you would furnish me with the name of your union.”
– Keep calm! I asked Senator Pearce, the ex-Minister of Defence, if in his time he had ever sent out, or permitted to be sent out, a document of that kind. He said, “Never”; nor in his time had anybody been asked before he secured work whether he was in a union. During his régime it was not until after a man secured employment that he was asked whether he was a unionist or not. That was the condition of affairs before present Ministers took office. But now every applicant, apparently - at any rate, this applicant - is asked for the name of his union. What for? If the Attorney-General says that there are to be no distinctions between the sheep and the goats, that the unionist and the non-unionist are to lie down in the same paddock, that no one is to be asked any questions, and that no one is to be preferred because he belongs to a union, then no one must be set aside becausehe belongs to a union. Yet in this case why did they want to know anything about the man’s union? It is perfectly clear that in this request there was a sinister motive. That is obvious on the face of it.
– On whose part?
– Wait a moment. There is the document. The honorable gentleman can explain it. I am putting forth the explanation it bears on the face of it. If I am told that there is to be no discrimination against a man because of his religion and, as an applicant for a post, I am asked, “ What religion are you?” what am I to think? If I am told that there is to be no discrimination against a man because he is a member of a union, and I am asked, “What union do you belong to?” what am I to think? There are the documents, and I leave honorable gentlemen to answer them, but nothing they can do can ever wipe them out. There they stand, as the outward and visible sign of the virus that is running throughout, and is responsible for, the. policy of the Government. While they say that there is to be no favoritism, and they talk of aboli tion of preference to unionists, they send out a document which practically makes for preference to non-unionists.
– I am necessarily limited to four or five minutes in making any reply in reference to the matter that has just been brought before the House by the honorable member for West Sydney. It is a remarkable thing that, though at the commencement of this debate honorable members on the other side were challenged to bring forward one tittle of evidence in support of their claim that the policy of the Government was preference to nonunionists, it is only within five minutes of the time agreed upon for taking a division on the question that they have brought forward any evidence. In the first place, the documents produced prove absolutely nothing - simply that Mr. Jeffrey, the resident engineer at Jervis Bay, wrote the following letter: -
I am in receipt of your application for employment, dated the 10th instant, and should be glad if you would furnish me with the name of your union and also further particulars as to your experience.
That does not prove much. Then we have a statement by the honorable member that some other person, whose name he does not mention, was at the same time appointed to a position at Jervis Bay. I shall not waste time over the matter. I say, on behalf of the Government, and of every Minister, that the charge that any Minister has made, or authorized at any time, any preference to non-unionists, is an absolutely false statement. Two out of my five minutes have gone, and if honorable members will cease their interjections, and allow me, I shall continue. It has been said throughout the debate upon the Bill that there has never been any demand for the measure, and that the matter has never been before the country ; also that the present Government have had no mandate to deal with preference to unionists in Government employment.
– Hear, hear!
– Then let me tell the ex-Prime Minister that, if there was one issue which was more operative than any other in turning the balance of public opinion against the late Government, it was this very question. On every platform throughout the whole of
Australia the action of the late Government in giving preference to their own political supporters against the will of Parliament was in the forefront of every Liberal candidate’s speech.
– Does that statement refer also to the Prime Minister?
– Suppose it does not, what then ? But let me tell the honorable member that it does refer to the Prime Minister, and I can show the honorable member the issue on which the Government has a direct and distinct mandate. I shall read from the speech delivered by the Prime Minister at Parramatta, on the 3rd April, 1913, in which speech the policy of the present Government was laid down. The honorable gentleman said -
Liberalism arrays itself against the principle obtaining to-day in Government employment, by means of which the citizens of Australia are classified, and political opponents declared ineligible for Government employment because of their political creed. The very essence of civilized government is the equal treatment of all the citizens of the country. There should be only one door of entrance, and that always standing wide open to the. Public Service, and one passport at the door, namely, merit and ability to perform the service sought. Whatever arrangements may be made outside for the granting of judicial preference, conditioned by the circumstances in which it is given, the enactment of absolute preference by the Government is a complete negation of the principle of equal citizenship. No citizen is allowed to escape his responsibilities, and no citizen should bc debarred from his corresponding privileges. Equal opportunities should surely prevail in Government employment, if anywhere at all. The present system by which tha Government Service is being packed with political partisans should be ended as early as possible.
To-day the principle of “ spoils to the victors “ is in vogue, from the office boy to the highest administrative positions in the Service. The proper attitude for any Government on this matter was admirably stated by exPresident Roosevelt some time ago, as follows : - “ I am the President of all the people in the United States. My aim is to do equal and exact justice as among them all. In the employment and dismissal of men in the Public Service, I can no more recognise the fact that a man does or does not belong to a union, as being for or against him, than I can recognise the fact that he is a Protestant or a Catholic, a Jew or a Gentile, as being for or against him.”
My time has now expired, and with that quotation I desire to conclude “my remarks.
Question - That this Bill be now read a third time - put. The House divided.
– As the division list shows that tho numbers on both sides are equal, I will give my casting vote with the “ Ayes,” and declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– On a personal explanation, I desire to say a word in reply to the statement of my honorable and learned friend, that it was a curious thing that the information I had brought forward only arrived five minutes before the close of the debate. In justice to myself, I desire to say that I brought the information forward at the earliest possible moment. I did not receive it until 4 or 5 o’clock on Tuesday, when I was in Sydney. I came to Melbourne yesterday, and was too unwell to attend the House. Honorable members on this side will confirm me in saying that I asked to be allowed to speak, and it was not my fault that this information was not brought forward earlier.
– I rise to a personal explanation. As this question affects the Department for which I am responsible, I wish to say that, if the interpretation placed on the letter by the honorable member is proved to be correct-
– I rise to order. Although this matter may affect the honorable member’s Department, it does not affect him personally, and I ask your ruling, sir, as to whether the honorable member is in order in now trying to get in a statement in reply to a certain document which was used in the debate? He had his opportunity to speak earlier.
– If the honorable member for Wentworth desires to make a personal explanation in regard to something which has been said, and which he considers involves a reflection on himself, he will be entitled to make that explanation.
– I take it that the statement was made by the honorable member for West Sydney as a reflection on the Minister in charge.
– If there is no charge against the present Government in connexion with that statement, I shall have nothing further to say. I wish to say this, however, that my instruction to all officers of the Department of which I am in charge was that there should be absolutely no preference or discrimination whatsoever as between unionists and nonunionists. Of this letter I know nothing. I would only suggest to honorable members that, if they wish to be fair to an officer who is not here to defend himself, and who wrote the letter, which reads as follows : - and should bo glad if you would furnish me with the name of your union, and also further particulars as to your experience.
Opposition Members. - What for?
– It is quite possible that this applicant in this correspondence told the Resident Engineer-
-The honorable member must confine his remarks to a personal explanation.
– Then, sir, I can only say that I have this moment drafted a wire to the Resident Engineer, and that, on receipt of his reply, I will place the full facts at the disposal of honorable members to show that their statements are not correct.
– I ask if the honorable member is in order in introducing new matter ?
– It’s all right; I got it in.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! If several honorable members make remarks while another honorable member is speaking, it is impossible for the occupant of the chair to judge whether an honorable member’s remarks are in order or not. I must ask honorable members to not immediately interject when the Speaker calls for order, and to allow the proceedings to be conducted in a proper and orderly manner. 1 shall expect honorable members to assist the Chair in preserving decorum in the chamber.
– I wish to know if it is in order for a Minister to say, after he has been allowed by you, sir, to make a personal explanation, “ I got it in all the same “ ?
– I. reminded the honorable member for Wentworth that he was going beyond a personal explanation. I did not hear the remark referred to by the honorable member for Wide Bay ; but if the honorable member for Wentworth deliberately intended to get behind the Speaker’s decision, and beyond what was properly a personal explanation, he was certainly not in order.
– I did not mean it.
– I submit that the whole statement of the honorable member for West Sydney was not a personal explanation.
– You should have raised the point at the time.
– I am trying to show how fair honorable members are.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! Will honorable members cease interjecting? I shall name the next honorable member who interjects after I call for order.
– I rise to order.
– There is a point of order before the Chair, and I must hear what it is.
– I will not proceed further.
– On a point of order, I desire to ask you, sir, if it is not a gross reflection on the Chair for an honorable member to rise on a point of order and, after taking up the time of the House, sit down without having stated his point of order ?
– How can there be a pointof order? There is nothing before theChair.
– There is nothing before the Chair at the present moment. The proper time to raise a point of order is when the matter involving the point arises. It is certainly not proper for one honorable member after another to raise points of order in regard to the discussion of a point of order already raised. Only one point of order can be before the Chair at a time. Theraising of a multiplicity of points on a point of order already raised might cause the original point to be lost sight of altogether.
.- I move-
That I have leave to bring in a Bill-
– I rise to order. The Prime Minister is proceeding to move a motion; but you, sir, ruled a few days ago that, when two hours have elapsed after the meeting of the House, the Orders of the Day must be called on.
– Standing order 119 provides that -
If all motions shall not have been disposed of two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House the debate thereon shall be interrupted, and, unless the House otherwise order, the Orders of the Day shall be taken in rotation ; but if there should be no Order of the Day, the discussion on motions may be continued. The consideration or motions may be resumed after the Orders of the Day are disposed of.
– The Orders of the Day have not been disposed of.
– That is so. Having regard to the standing order, and to the various rulings that have been given in interpretation of it, I think that, unless the House otherwise orders, we must proceed with the Orders of the Day.
– In that case, I move -
That the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the consideration of the Notices of Motion 1, 2, and 3, Government business.
.- I should like to make a few remarks to show that the consideration of the Orders of the Day should not be postponed.
– Should not the Government conduct the business of the House?
– If the Government, in the battle of wits, which the Prime Minister says is taking place in this Chamber, has not wit enough to conduct the business of the House properly, it is the duty of the Opposition to assist. The Prime Minister should be satisfied with his achievement of this afternoon. He has got the Government Preference Prohibition Bill through its third reading, and there is no reason why we should not now be allowed to go home to recuperate, and to prepare ourselves for the second test Bill which is to bring about the double dissolution. The second reading of the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill is the second Order of the Day. That Bill is a most important one, and should be dealt with at once. If I remember rightly, it was brought forward by the ex-Prime Minister, and was framed by the party to which I belong; at any rate, we are pre1 pared to share in its paternity, and to deal with it at once. ‘ If that were proposed, I should withdraw my request that we be allowed to go home. The Prime Minister, in drawing up the businesspaper, placed as the first Order of the Day the third reading of the Government Preference Prohibition Bill; and, following it, he put three notices of motion. Surely he did not expect to get to those motions. If he did, where were his wits ?
– By what wit could we have arranged our business better ?
– We are showing the Prime Minister that he does not possess the wit that he thought he possessed when he stated in Sydney that there was a battle of wits taking place here, and that he was winning. He considered it a win when he prevented us from debating a motion of censure by enforcing the rule that, when two hours had elapsedafter the meeting of the House, the discussion of motions must cease. Now he is “ hoist with his own petard.”
– We have to put up with a lot when we come into contact with an unintelligent, stubborn, and unpatriotic Opposition.
– This is a sample of the Prime Minister’s refined speech, which we are to imitate, I suppose, on these uncultured benches.
– I withdraw what I said.
– It is very necessary that we should deal with the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill, which contains only twenty-four clauses and three schedules. We want to give power to Committees to compel persons to give evidence before them.
– Has the honorable member ever, in his parliamentary experience, known a courtesy like this to be refused to a Government?
– That is a straight question. I ask, in my turn, has the honorable gentleman ever known a Government to avail itself of a majority of one to place the motions of the Opposition on the notice-paper where they cannot be dealt with? Has he ever known a Government, anywhere in the wide world, to treat a Speaker as you, sir, are being treated, by the action of the Prime Minister in refusing to allow certain motions to be discussed ?
– The honorable’ member should not bring into the discussion the occupant of the chair.
– I beg your pardon, sir. The Prime Minister kept us sitting continuously for three days last week, ruining our constitutions. He showed us no courtesy then. When I asked him to let me go home, to gain the benefits of Tired Nature’s sweet restorer, balmy sleep, he would not do so. Now that I am strong again, why should I consider his request? The Parliamentary Witnesses Bill, like the revision of the Tariff, and some other measures, is a matter of importance, which ought to be dealt with before other measures which are not permitted to be named, but which have taken up a great deal of the time of the country. What does the Prime Minister think Parliament is for? Does he think that it is like one of those machines in the Chicago Meat Works, in which a pig is placed at one end and comes out at the other end converted into sausages? One of the Orders of the Day which he desires to postpone is that of Supply. When we reach Supply, I desire to deal with the question of Defence, and the failure of Major-General Sir Ian Hamilton to in clude in his report any observations as to the wisdom of compelling boys of tender years to undergo military training. I should like to have his opinion as to whether it is right to make such boys march 20 miles, as was done at Lilydale the other day.
– I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the only question which the honorable member may discuss is that of whether these Orders of the Day shall be postponed.
– I was about to call the honorable member’s attention to the fact that he is wandering from the question before the Chair, and is not in order in doing so.
– I am offering reasons why these Orders of the Day should not be postponed. There ar.e several items of Supply with which I should like to deal. There is, first of all, the question of Defence.
– The motion before the Chair is that the Orders of the Day be postponed, and the honorable member must confine himself to the question of postponement. He will not be in order in discussing the Orders of the Day which it is proposed to postpone.
– One of my reasons for objecting to the postponement of the Orders of the Day is that I wish to discuss the question of Defence.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the various matters covered by the term “ Supply.” The question of Defence might very properly be discussed on a Supply motion; but the only question before the Chair is that certain Orders of the Day, including Supply, be postponed. The honorable member must confine his remarks to the question of postponement.
– I was in hopes that we might discuss various matters covered by Supply, which opened up a pleasing vista ; but you have brought me back, Mr. Speaker, to the question of the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill. What is the Prime Minister’s object in submitting this motion ?
– I wish to bring some business before the House.
– What business?
– The proposal to deal with trusts, amongst other things.
– Will the honorable gentleman take, first of all, the Bill relating to trusts?
– We shall take it in its order.
– Some honorable members are extremely anxious to deal with the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill, but I should be quite willing to withdraw my opposition to this motion if the Prime Minister would agree to deal, first of all, with the Bill relating to trusts. The sooner we reach that measure the better.
– The honorable member does not want to reach it.
– When the Minister of Trade and Customs told us that he had the Beef Trust under his observation, we did not expect that he would bring down a Bill to deal with it for another three or four years; but he has given notice of motion for leave to bring in a Bill relating to it, and if the Prime Minister will assure me that he will deal with it this afternoon I shall no longer oppose the motion. What is there about the Postal Vote Restoration Bill that we should inconvenience ourselves? Have we not come here fully prepared to deal with the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill, which is far more important than is the first Order of the Day? The Prime Minister should have so ordered the business-paper as to render it unnecessary for us to raise these objections. Out of consideration for him, I shall refrain from speaking further at this stage; but if the motion be agreed to, I hope to give a few reasons why the honorable gentleman should not have leave to introduce the Postal Vote Restoration Bill.
.- I move -
That the following words be inserted after the word “ That “ : - “ Orders of the Day 2 and 3 be postponed, and Order of the Day No. 4 be taken into consideration, to permit of anomalies in the Tariff being considered forthwith.”
The Prime Minister, in the course of the policy speech which he delivered at Parramatta, made a definite proposal that the anomalies in the Tariff should be immediately rectified. I propose to quote from that speech, and to refer, also, to a considerable volume of correspondence which came to me from factories in my electorate some time ago, showing that it is urgently necessary that the anomalies in the Tariff be rectified.
The Prime Minister, who was then Leader of the Opposition, delivered what is known as his policy speech at Parra matta, and it is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 4th April, 1913. In that speech he referred to the matter as follows : -
Meantime we propose to deal with the Tariff in the same way as in almost every civilized country in the world. It must no longer be the tool of parties. Its proper and reasonable adjustment should be suggested by experts who are absolutely disinterested, and with due and proper regard for the interests of all concerned.
That is a general statement, and he went on to make a definite statement dealing with Tariff anomalies -
Thisneed not and will not prevent a prompt rectification of such anomalies as are discovered by the Department in its administration.
By that definite statement the whole of the manufacturing interests and their dependent industries, as well as the great bulk of the people who believe in fostering Australian industries, were led to believe that there would be an immediate rectification of Tariff anomalies.
The Labour party has been charged with not dealing sufficiently with this question when they were in office. As a matter of fact, the Labour Government dealt with it at very considerable length; and I think this is an opportune time to place on record what they did in this connexion. The following lengthy statement will show what was done : -
Principal items, from the Protective standpoint, dealt with by the Customs Tariffs 1910 and 1911 : -
-The honorable member is not in order in going into all these particulars on a motion of this kind; he must deal with either the amendment or the motion.
– I propose to show that this Order of the Day is urgent, and should not be postponed. To do so, I wish to discuss the Tariff generally, to justify my proposal.
– The honorable gentleman will not be in order in discussing the Tariff schedule.
– Then, I submit that I shall be in order in dealing with correspondence which shows that the matter is urgent.
– That depends on the nature of the correspondence.
– If I am not allowed to quote correspondence showing that an amendment of the Tariff is urgent, I cannot give honorable members justification for voting for my amendment. Some of the factory owners in the Cook electorate have communicated with me in regard to various items covered by the following: - Glass manufactures, barrow wheels, stoves, sash weights, condiments, rope, cordage, binder twine, leather, straw hats, chemists’ foods, carbide of calcium, paper, waterproof garments, bevelled and silvered plates, paints, clay pipes, chalks, and basket and wicker ware. At the Alexandra end of the Cook electorate there are some bottle works, and it has been found that, by an anomaly in the Tariff, filled bottles are permitted to come into Australia.
-The debate the honorable member is now initiating would be perfectly in order in considering a proposal to introduce a Tariff measure. The honorable member, however, appears to have forgotten the proposal before the Chair. He must confine himself now to the amendment he has moved or to the motion which was originally proposed. In doing that he will not be in order in opening up the whole question of Tariff anomalies and diverting the debate to that subject.
– It is proposed to postpone Orders of the Day Nos. 2, 3, and 4.
– The subject to be discussed is the postponement of the Orders of the Day.
– Yes ; and one of the Orders of. the Day that it is proposed to postpone is a motion to go into Committee of Ways and Means, which would permit of the Tariff being dealt with.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing the question of Ways and Means.
– I am merely pointing out to the House the proposal that is before the Chair.
– The honorable member is not in order in proceeding on his present lines.
– My amendment proposes that the motion to go into Committee of Ways and Means shall not be postponed, but shall forthwith be moved with the distinct purpose in view of a rectification of Tariff anomalies. A Tariff is always introduced in a Committee of Ways and Means; and my proposal is that only two of the Orders of the Day shall be postponed, and that the third one, namely, to go into Committee of Ways and Means, shall forthwith be proceeded with.
Why should the Tariff not be considered ? The Government have no other business properly before us for this sitting; if they had they would go on with it. It is only by the will of the House that the Orders of the Day can be postponed, and the Government given an opportunity to introduce altogether different business. The Government have not taken the precaution to have proper business before the Chamber. Four or five days ago the Government knew that the vote on the Government Preference Prohibition Bill was to be taken at 4 o’clock, and they had ample opportunity to prepare any business they desired. The Prime Minister, however, who is supposed to possess all the wits of the community, and to be a great strategist, confesses that he has no business to go on with, except by courtesy of the Opposition.
– What courtesy have the Government shown us?
– Not much ; we have had very short shrift, but that does not prevent the Prime Minister asking concessions at our hands. I submit that this is the proper time to deal with the Tariff, and we have all the hours before us up to midnight. If honorable members are prepared to come to a vote on my amendment, I am ready to resume my seat immediately. It appears that I am not in order in showing the extent to which the Fisher Government rectified Tariff anomalies, or in dealing with the strong appeals that have come to me on behalf of the manufacturing interests in the Cook electorate.
– I submit that the amendment is out of order. It is to the effect that a certain order of the day may be taken into consideration, so that an opportunity may be furnished for the consideration of anomalies in the Tariff “ forthwith.” The amendment is out of order inasmuch as it is impossible of realization even if carried. There cannot be any consideration of the Tariff unless there is first a covering message to make that consideration possible.
– We shall deal with that point when it arises.
– We cannot deal with it at any time without a message. The proposal is to deal with the Tariff anomalies “ forthwith,” and I submit that, as that is impossible, the proposal is out of order.
– I rule that the amendment is in order.
– If I am not permitted to deal in detail with the rectification of Tariff anomalies, I may be “permitted briefly to point out some of the questions involved.
– Let the Government do as much as the Fisher Government did !
– The Government are not prepared to do anything. We have an announcement from the Opposition that they are prepared to go on with business of a non-party character which affects the vital interests of the country; and we find the Prime Minister trying to shelve that business on a point of order.
In the newspapers a few days ago there was a statement to the effect that stoves are being imported by Anthony Hordern and Sons, of Sydney, that are obtained at a lower price on board in London than they can be manufactured for, at cost price, in Sydney. Thus we have in the Cook electorate an industry that is being subjected to dumping and unfair competition at the hands of large manufacturers in England. The firm to which I refer employs between 200 and 300 men in Sydney, and at their other places throughout the Commonwealth some 800 men. Surely this is a matter that does not require any investigation by the InterState Commission, for the facts are selfevident. The mere proof of a statement of that kind should be sufficient to induce any Government that has the welfare of the people of Australia at heart to bring forward a rectification of anomalies in the Tariff which can be proved beyond question. Then there is another industry, the iron industry.
– I must again call the attention of the honorable member to the fact that he is not in order in particularizing the various industries that he proposes should be made the subject of legislation regarding Tariff anomalies. The honorable member will only be in order in making a general reference to the whole subject.
– Then I shall just indicate the industries which are affected, and the articles affected, without giving justification for the rectification of the Tariff upon them.
– The honorable member will not be in order in giving those details. He can deal with the matter in a general way only.
– Can I indicate the lines of the Tariff that should be dealt with ?
– Certainly not.
– My amendment indicates that certain Tariff anomalies should be dealt with, and I wish to say what they are.
– The honorable member would be in order in doing so when Tariff anomalies come up for discussion, but, under cover of an amendment of this kind, to such a motion as is before the Chair, the honorable member cannot specifically mention a number of articles, and thus debate the general question of Tariff revision.
– The proposal is that there should be a direction to the Government to rectify certain Tariff anomalies, and it is absolutely essential that I should indicate the anomalies that need to be rectified.
– The honorable member can do it in a general way only. He cannot go into particulars.
– I cannot, refer to the manufacture of wheelbarrows in a general way. I must simply say “ wheelbarrows,” though I do not propose to go into details.
– To do. that would be an evasion of the ruling.
– I wish to ask the House to give an indication to the Government that certain Tariff anomalies should be rectified. I do not ask to be permitted to go into details, but I wish to indicate some of the items where rectification should take place.
– If I permitted the honorarble member to do that, the honorable member could select a few items, and other honorable members could select a few more, and so a debate upon the whole Tariff would be raised, which obviously would be out of order.
– The ruling has circumscribed my remarks very considerably.
– I am sorry, but it cannot be helped.
– My amendment is that the Order of the Day - Ways and Means - should be gone on with in order to permit of the rectification of Tariff anomalies. If I am not permitted to briefly refer to the items which should be dealt with, I am not permitted to give justification for accepting my amendment.
– The procedure the honorable member suggests would involve the opening up of the whole fiscal question.
– What follows my action is of no consequence so long as my remarks are to the point.
– The honorable member’s amendment is moved on a definite motion for the postponement of certain Orders of the Day, and he is not in order upon such an amendment in doing anything but speak in a general way upon the matter of the rectification of Tariff anomalies. The honorable member mast not traverse my ruling. He must abide by it.
– There seems to be nothing for it but to do so. I shall go back to the point of the promise made bv the Prime Minister to have these anomalies rectified, which promise was also nade by the Minister of Trade and Customs and by the Postmaster-General. Yet nothing is being done. The Government have referred the matter to ‘the Inter-State Commission, and we are told that no anomalies are to be rectified until that Commission brings in its report. When the matter was brought up on a former occasion, the Minister of Trade and Customs stated that 463 applications for Tariff protection had been sent in to the Inter-State Commission. Does not that show that there is a very strong desire throughout Australia that there should be rectification of Tariff anomalies? If there were no anomalies in the Tariff, if Australian industries were not suffering, there would not be this multitude of applications from the various industries. According to the Minister of Trade and Customs, 149 of these matters have been dealt with, and 320 witnesses have been heard by the Commission, and that evidence has been taken in Victoria only. Then, how many witnesses will be required in connexion with the 463 applications? There will be at least 1,600 witnesses to be examined in Victoria alone. When the Minister was challenged that this investigation would take a long time, and that considerable time must elapse before a report was brought in, hesaid that the Tariff could not be dealt with until these matters had been investigated in every State. Therefore the 1,000’ Victorian witnesses must be multiplied by six, for the Inter-State Commission has to go to every State for evidence. At the present rate of progress there will be no report presented in the life of this Parliament nor in that of the next.
What do we see in the meantime? Unemployed all over Australia. In my electorate there are many appeals to me to try to find men work, but I am unable to do it. I see that there are about two or three thousand unemployed at Ballarat.
– Not quite so many as that. I should say that the number is about 500.
– If we multiply that number at Ballarat by the number of cities in Australia proportionately, we shall see that there is a big army of unemployed. The honorable member for Fawkner took part in a deputation the other day showing that there were very many unemployed in Melbourne, and the same thing applies in Sydney. Why should there not be a rectification of the Tariff anomalies that will provide the unemployed with work ? This time of the year, when there is the greatest suffering from unemployment, is an opportune occasion for the House to give a direction to the Government that these -anomalies in the Tariff should be rectified.
There is no escape for the Government in the matter. They propose to go on with the Bill to provide for postal voting. Important as postal voting may be, there is not likely to be an election for some considerable time, because it is the last thing in creation the Government wish for. Postal voting therefore cannot come into operation for some considerable time, and, in the meantime, workmen are out of work. Postal voting will not feed the workless’ hungry, nor clothe them, nor light their fires, nor put food in their cupboards.
– If the people get postal voting, why do they want work ?
– No doubt, for many Liberal agents and touts at election time, the postal voting system would provide work at raking in votes. I have quoted from the speech made by the Prime Minister at Parramatta last year just prior to the election, and there was also a speech made by the present Minister of Trade and Customs at Toowoomba, and published in the Toowoomba Chronicle on the 8th April, 1913. This speech by the Minister is headed “ Advertisement,” and occupies six columns of the newspaper. It is clear that it is a carefully prepared speech sent in to the paper, and paid for at so much an inch. Let us see what the Minister had to say in his statement to the electors.
A Tariff Board NECESSARY
In every debate Parliament has been hampered in considering Tariff measures from lack of accurate and complete information. With different industries in different States, and these industries in different parts of a vast Commonwealth, Parliament as a whole has not been able to do adequate justice.
I cannot agree with that statement entirely. Honorable members represent every constituency. When the debate takes place in regard to the Tariff I have information to put before honorable members respecting industries in my own electorate, and I presume that is the case with every honorable member. Why, therefore, the need to send this roving Commission through the length and breadth of Australia to inquire into the Tariff when every honorable member must take the responsibility of standing by the interests of the constituents he represents, and of Australia generally? As far as I am concerned, what the Inter-State Commission recommends will not make much difference. If I consider it my duty to vote in favour of Protection for certain industries in my electorate, do honorable members think that the report of the Inter-State Commission to the contrary would affect me? I would boot the report under the table.
– There are a lot of things that ought to be on the free list.
– 1 agree with the honorable member. While I say that goods which can be manufactured in Australia ought to have adequate Protection, I also say that there are a number of other items that ought to be placed on the free list, because they cannot be manufactured in Australia, and the duty on them is placing a burden on the people.
– Order ! The honorable member is again discussing the Tariff question.
– I am pointing out anomalies. One anomaly is that there is not enough Protection on goods that can be manufactured in Australia; and another anomaly is that duties are collected on articles which cannot be manufactured in Australia, and the people are being called on to bear an unnecessarily heavy burden. Those anomalies should be wiped out. Even the Prime Minister said that- revenue duties should be wiped out. This is what the honorable member said in a speech reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 4th April, 1913 -
I should add, further, that since becoming the responsible leader of the party I have been inundated with appeals from all sorts of people as to what I propose to do to bring down the cost of living, and, at the same time, intimating that, in their opinion, the present high cost of living is ‘ the direct and sole result of the present Tariff. I do not hesitate to say, without discussing the subject fully, that I am hopeful an expert investigation of the Tariff may lead to a substantial reduction in the purely revenue duties of the present Tariff schedule.
That is what the Prime Minister proposed under the heading “ Reducing the Cost of Living.” We know perfectly well that there are a number of Tariff items about which there cannot be any dispute for five minutes. They are purely revenueproducing duties, and the Prime Minister, who has taken a prominent part in Tariff debates in this Parliament, knows perfectly well that he will see, as soon as he looks at the Tariff schedule, a number of duties which are not Protective, but are purely revenue-producing.
I was proceeding to deal with the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs in the Toowoomba Chronicle, in which he said that this matter was to be referred to the laterState Commission, and I indicated that, so far as I was concerned, the report of the Commission would not necessarily affect me. I am not alone in that attitude. Mr. Deakin, who has been looked upon as the leader of the Protectionist forces, made a similar statement in connexion with a previous Tariff Commission. On 15th December, 1904, Mr. Deakin made the following statement (Hansard, p. 8618): -
Personally, I decline to be bound by its report, or by that of any other Commission, and that is why I take no exception to its personnel.
Ho took no exception to the personnel of the previous Commission, because he did not intend to be bound by its report. Apart from the personnel of the InterState Commission, does anybody think that honorable members will be bound by its report if that report does not suit them ? I say that no honorable member will take any notice of the recommendations of the Commission if those recommendations do not suit them and the interests they represent.
We are told by the Minister of Trade and Customs that we are not to have the evidence, but that we must take the conclusions of the Commission. There are three members on the Commission, the central figure being Mr. Piddington. Those of us who come from New South Wales know that that gentleman is a confirmed Free Trader. If there is a division of opinion between the members, Mr. Swinburne being on one side-
-Order! The honorable member is proceeding further than he is entitled to do.
– Well, without discussing the personnel of the Inter-State Commission, I say that to ask the House to simply take the recommendations of the Commission without having the evidence, and without knowing whether the Commission is divided in its opinions or not, is a most ridiculous proposition. The whole purpose of the inquiry into Tariff anomalies in the way proposed by the Government is surely to produce evidence, and who is to be satisfied with the evidence? Not this House, but the InterState Commission. And because the Commission is satisfied with the evidence, does it mean that this House is to be satisfied also, without having an opportunity of studying the evidence ? To me it is more important to have the evidence and not the recommendations of the Commission, than it is to have the recommendations and not the evidence. I should be prepared to pay- considerable attention to the evidence taken by the Commission, but I should give very little consideration to the recommendations of that body. I do not want the opinions of Mr. Piddington and Mr. Swinburne on these matters. My electors sent me to this- House because they know what opinions I hold on the Tariff question, and I am prepared to decide on the evidence and not to allow the Inter-State Commission to think for me.
Then the Minister of Trade and Customs proceeded in that speech which was published as an advertisement in the Toowoomba Chronicle of 8th April, 1913-
There is need for an impartial tribunal to keep constantly in touch with the great spheres of production, manufacture, and importation so as’ to advise Parliament withnowledge on a thoroughly scientific basis.
I agree with that. When we have rectified the whole of the anomalies, it would be a good thing for the manufacturers to be able to submit information to the Inter-State Commission, so that the Commission could put that information in such a form that it could be dealt with in- stelligently by honorable members, but the evidence taken by the Tariff Commission should not be held up in the first place. The speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs continued -
With such a board Parliament oan carry out policy with knowledge, and so give each State justice in the application of policy - to have an Australian Tariff for an Australian nation. The Liberal party, including Protectionists and Free Traders, having accepted Protection as their “policy, have agreed that the policy of the present Commonwealth Tariff as determined by the electors is to be maintained.
The honorable member made that statement, and it has been dissented from. The honorable member for Parkes, in a considered letter written to the Sydney Baily Telegraph, denied this absolutely. He did not accept the present Protectionist policy; all he agreed to was a rectification of Departmental anomalies, not in the Protectionist direction, but in regard to items in the Tariff respecting which it had been clearly shown that mistakes had been made. This is a totally different thing from the rectification of anomalies in a Protectionist direction. Other honorable members on the Government side are in a similar position. The honorable member for Werriwa said that he came into Parliament on a Free Trade reaction.
The honorable member for Calare stated that he came here as a Free Trader, and. it is a significant fact that the previous member for Calare, who had always been a Free Trader, but pledged himself to the Fisher policy of a Protectionist Tariff, should have been defeated, and that another gentleman who is a hot-headed Free Trader should have been returned. Both those honorable members have made a statement in the House that they will not be a party to the rectification of the Tariff in a Protectionist direction. Let me quote further from the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs -
A permanent non-political body shall be constituted, having statutory authority to -
supervise and report to Parliament respecting industrial production and commercial exchange, also the working of the Tariff, its operation and effect upon investment of capital, and the employment of labour in Australian industries.
to make recommendations from time to time for the adjustment and revision of the Tariff in all cases of proved necessity with due regard to the interests of all sections of the community.
And this is the point I wish to lay particular stress upon -
In the meantime any anomalies or inconsistencies that may be discovered in the schedules of the present Tariff are to be dealt with as soon as practicable.
We know perfectly well that when the honorable gentleman came into office an investigation as to Tariff anomalies had been proceeding. After the Fisher Government had dealt with the Tariff, and a long list of anomalies had been considered and removed and additional protection granted to Australian industries, the then Minister had lists printed, and gave an indication to the manufacturers of Australia that he would be glad to have evidence as to any further anomalies, with a view to their prompt rectification. The manufacturers all over Australia wrote into the Department for those forms, which they filled in and returned. So that when the present Government took office there was information ready to hand in the Department from the manufacturers of Australia regarding Tariff anomalies. Twelve months ago the Government were in a position to proceed with the rectification of the Tariff anomalies, and they are in the position to do it to-day. The Prime Minister took me up on a point of order a little while ago by saying that the Go vernment were not in a position to proceed with this matter forthwith. I say that the Government are in a position to proceed with it forthwith. If it were possible for this House to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole, and appoint one of its number to go to the Customs Department and get particulars of the proved anomalies of which the. Department has knowledge, the rectification of those anomalies could proceed this very day, and there is nothing to prevent that being done, except the obstacles created through the present Ministers being in office.
Reverting to the shelving of the Tariff question by placing it in the hands of this long-winded legal tribunal, I would remind honorable members that the Government said they were going to appoint a board of practical business men. That was stated by both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs. Those gentlemen knew perfectly well that the Inter-State Commission Bill had been passed, and if they were not referring to some different body, which was to deal with the Tariff questionj why did they not say that they proposed to hand it over to the Inter-State Commission?
– The honorable member will not be in order in dealing with that matter.
– I wish simply to point out that even the obstacle of the Inter-State Commission would not have been in the way if the Government had carried out their election pledges, and appointed a few business men to inquire into this matter, without that long-windedness which generally characterizes investigations by legal tribunals. The Minister of Trade and Customs played on some fine phrases in making his speech upon the Tariff question. He talked about Australian industries, the interests of the Australian nation, the interests of all classes of the community, the urgency of the Tariff, and anomalies being rectified forthwith. And yet the Government have been in office twelve months, and have attempted to do nothing. There is no attempt to go on with genuine business, though I assume that a majority on each side is prepared to deal with the Tariff. The honorable members for Wimmera and Gippsland were returned as Protectionists. Are they not prepared to allow Tariff anomalies to be dealt with forthwith.? Both honorable members are silent.
– The honorable member for Gippsland succeeded a real Protectionist.
– Had his predecessor, Mr. Wise, been here, the amendment would have had his enthusiastic support. At the next election the voters of Gippsland will know how to distinguish between the friends and enemies of the Tariff. After the pre-sessional speeches, to which I have referred, the Government met Parliament, and on 13th July, 1913, -put forward a programme in this House in which the following statement occurred: -
It is the intention of the Government to maintain the accepted protective policy. The Inter- State Commission has already been appointed, and, in addition to fulfilling its constitutional duties, it will supervise and report to Parliament with respect to industrial production and commercial exchange. It will also inquire into the working of the Tariff and its operation and effect upon the investment of capital and the employment of labour in Australian industries. It will make recommendations from time to time for the adjustment and revision of.- the Tariff, due regard being had to the interests of all sections of the community. In the meantime, any anomalies discovered in the existing Tariff will be dealt with.
What does “ in the meantime “ mean? Does it mean any time between now and the day of judgment?
– It means that the Government promised to rectify anomalies before the Inter-State Commission made its report, and it has broken that promise.
– It has doubly broken its promise. It did nothing for the rectification of Tariff anomalies in the 1913 session, and has attempted to do nothing this session. The Prime Minister, when seeking the suffrages of the people of Parramatta, was enthusiastic about the rectification of anomalies, and the reduction of the cost of living by removing revenue duties from the backs of the people; and the Minister of Trade and Customs spoke about building up Australian industries, and waved aloft the flag of Protection. When the Ministry took office, it found in the Customs Department a schedule of anomalies left there by the ex-Minister of Trade and Customs, but notwithstanding the statement in its programme of business, nothing was done in regard to the Tariff during 1913, although it cannot be said that Government business was obstructed at all. The Government was able to pass Bills providing for the creation of a Public Works Committee and a Public Accounts Committee, and a dozen other measures of comparatively small importance ; but it made no attempt to deal with Tariff anomalies.
Now it has allegedly discovered that it cannot continue to carry on, and has asked the House to pass Bills to create an unnatural dispute with the Senate, a course never contemplated by the Constitution, in the hope of prevailing upon the Governor-General to grant a double dissolution. Ministers do this because they have no policy, and are supported by a crowd whose political opinions resemble a patchwork quilt, and are of every shade. Some of the Ministerialists are Revenue Tariffists, others are Protectionists; others, again, would use the Tariff partly, to obtain revenue, and partly to protect industries, but they cannot resolve their differences. The honorable member for Werriwa has declared that if the Government dared to proceed with the Tariff he would fight for Free Trade. We know what that would mean. The honorable member talks without limit, and three like him would make it very difficult to do anything with the Tariff. The honorable members for Parkes and Calare, and several other Ministerialists, are also Free Traders. Thus the position of the Government is one of impotence. It has a majority of one only in this House. Were the honorable member for Werriwa to speak at length against any Tariff proposal, he could not be “gagged,” because, if offended, he would walk out of the chamber and leave the Government without a majority. Every member behind the Government is pulling a different way, and Ministers are trying to bring about a double dissolution in the hope of finding an issue on which to appeal to the country and consolidate.
-The honorable member is again digressing.
– I have here indisputable evidence of the need for the rectification of Tariff anomalies which particularly concern my electorate. I have taken several opportunities to induce the Government to go on ‘with this matter. Last year, when an amendment was moved to the Address-in-Reply, censuring the Government for several things, the re- pudiation of pledges in connexion with the Tariff was particularly mentioned. I have also moved the adjournment of the House to ask that Tariff matters be dealt with, but the motion was talked out. Now that the Government is without business to proceed with, I ask honorable members to direct that the Tariff matter shall be dealt with. I shall not occupy the whole of the time allowed to me by the standing order, because I wish to have a vote on this question, in order to test the feeling of the House upon it’. Why should the Government be allowed, for party interests, to prevent the House from dealing with the Tariff, when an overwhelming majority is prepared to deal with it? Ministers are absent from the chamber, trying to discover some point of order which will prevent a vote being taken, and if they cannot do that they will either have the question side-tracked, by the moving of some further amendment, or will put up supporters to talk it out. The electors will be able to judge by the Government’s lack of earnestness on the Tariff question whether Ministers are in earnest on any matter making for the welfare of the people.
– It must be very gratifying to the honorable member for Cook to pose as the one great Protectionist of the House.
– Does this close the debate ?
– Is the Prime Minister speaking to the amendment?
– I am speaking generally.
– Another honorable member rose when I called the Prime Minister.
– I do not propose to allow any one else to speak. I regard the amendment as purely ob structive.
– I called the Prime Minister under the impression that he wished to speak to the amendment. If he does not intend to do so, any other honorable member wishing to speak has the right to speak first. Otherwise, the Prime Minister, in speaking, will close the debate.
Mr.Fenton. - The Prime Minister wishes to close the debate.
– Certainly. It is my duty to close it at the earliest possible moment.
– I cannot allow the Prime Minister to do that.
– I had begun to speak before a point of order was taken.
– I called the honorable gentleman under the impression that he rose to speak to the amendment.
– I wish to speak now; and, if I can do so, to close the debate.
– The honorable member, by again speaking to the motion, would interfere with the rights of others who are entitled to be heard if they so desire. It is not the province of the Speaker to close the mouths of others who desire to speak by calling upon the mover of a motion to reply, so as to shut the mouths of other honorable members.
– May I not speak at all?
– Yes; the honorable member may speak to the amendment; by so doing, he will not be closing the debate.
– I wish to close it, and it is my duty to close a debate of this kind, if I can. The one good thing that will come of this debate is that it will be but another indication to tbe people of the absolute unworkability of this Parliament.
– Then dissolve it!
– Let the honorable member hold his peace a little while and we shall do our best to accommodate him. The justification for the course which the Government are pursuing is being demonstrated more and more every day by the Opposition. I refer to the fact that, apart altogether from test Bills, the Opposition decline absolutely to do the country’s business, be it what it may.
– Give us a chance.
– I have been trying for some time to give the Opposition a chance. I wish to deal with the business of the country to-day, but the Opposition have declined to permit it to be dealt with. They absolutely insist that a motion for leave to introduce a Bill which has to do with the Beef Trust shall be pushed aside while they discuss the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill.
– Not at all; my amendment relates to the Tariff.
– That amendment was moved only because the Opposition found that they could not talk exhaustively to the original motion. It was moved only when they found that they could not otherwise go ahead with their wildly obstructive tactics.
Mr.McGrath. - Is the Prime Minister in order in saying that we have been pursuing obstructive tactics?
– If the Prime Minister made that statement, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it.
– It is perfectly true, all the same.
– Am I not in order in saying that the effect of this conduct on the part of the Opposition is to obstruct the business which the Government have upon the business-paper ?
– I rise to a point of order. After the Prime Minister had withdrawn the remark to which exception was taken, the honorable member for Wimmera interjected, “ It is quite true, all the same.” I ask that that statement be withdrawn.
– I did not hear the interjection, but if the honorable member for Wimmera made such an imputation, I ask him to withdraw it.
– The Standing Orders require the withdrawal of a statement to which exception is taken, and I therefore withdraw the remark.
– The obvious intention of honorable members opposite is to prevent the Government getting on with the business of which they have given notice.
– The Government gave notice of one of these Orders of the Day months ago.
– Order ! The honorable member for Cook has just spoken.
– He has just concluded a speech extending over an hour, yet here he is again chattering like a magpie.
– Keep smiling !
– Well, I shall repeat, in my calmest tones, that the object of this proposal on the part of the Opposition is to prevent the Government proceeding with their business as they desire to do. In all my parliamentary experience I have never known a Govern ment to be prevented from taking their own business in their own way and order.
– The. honorable member has done the same thing many a time.
– I have not, and I have not known it to be done before. The ordinary courtesies to which the Government are entitled at the hands of the House are denied us every day by the Opposition. And for what purpose ? To prevent the consideration of Government business upon the notice-paper, which includes a measure affecting the Beef Trust. The Opposition tell us that the Beef Trust most urgently demands our attention, yet they are now blocking a Bill relating to it. They are using all the forms of the House of which they can avail themselves to prevent its consideration. And they are doing this in order that the House may consider the supreme and pressing importance of a Parliamentary Witnesses Bill. Was ever political insincerity carried further? Was a political farce such as this ever enacted before in the history of civilized government?
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the words “ political farce.”
– I do so. Rule the statement out of order as many times as you like, sir, the obvious fact remains that the Opposition absolutely decline this day to consider the proposal of the Government to deal with a trust which the Opposition themselves say is injuring the people, committing depredations upon the community, and engaging in a sinister attempt to force up prices. By their actions, and by their voices, the Opposition declare, when the Government make a proposal to deal with that very trouble, that the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill is of far more importance.
– The Government cannot deal with the trust until we pass an effective Parliamentary Witnesses Bill.
– We cannot deal with any Bill until it has been introduced, and the Opposition are preventing the possibility of considering a Bill relating to trusts by blocking Government business in order that trumpery mxtters may be discussed.
– Is Tariff revision a trumpery matter ?
– Iam not referring to the Tariff. That question has been switched on to cover the real purpose of the Opposition, which is to block the Government from pushing on with the business of the country, whether it relates to the Tariff or to anything else. They are out to prevent the Government doing any business whatever. If we came down now with a proposal to consider any part of the Tariff, this obstruction on the part of the Opposition would go on just the same.
– There might be obstruction on the part of the honorable member for Werriwa.
– Before the honorable member tries to take the mote out of the eye of the honorable member for Werriwa, let him take the beam out of the eye of the honorable member for Grey, who lodged an objection to-day, and told us plainly that he must be left out of the category of those ‘who desire to consider Tariff anomalies. How many more of the Opposition are in the- same position? Is the honorable member for West Sydney anxious to consider Tariff anomalies? Is the honorable member for Cook himself burning with a desire to deal with them?
– The honorable member for Cook has been all through his electorate telling his constituents plainly time and again that he will vote all the duties down on everything relating to the breakfast table.
– I have not.
– The honorable member has said so many times.
– I deny that.
– The honorable member has said that he will vote to bring down all -the duties on foodstuffs and everything relating to the breakfast table.
– I rise to order. The Prime Minister is misrepresenting me. I have denied his statement, and I ask that my denial be accepted by him.
– It is customary for an honorable member to accept another honorable member’s denial of the correctness of a statement attributed to him.
– The parliamentary rule requires me to accept the honorable member’s denial. I have repeatedly read statements by the honorable member for Cook that he would vote to bring down the duties on all those things that relate to the workers’ table.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member is misrepresenting me, and refuses to accept my denial.
– I understood the Prime Minister to say that he had read certain statements.
– I deny it.
– The honorable member cannot deny the Prime Minister’s statement that he has read certain things, but he may deny that he uttered the statements attributed to him.
– I go further, and say that I have heard the honorable member in this House declare that it was time that the duties were taken off some of these things.
– Revenue duties only.
– No ; not revenue duties.
– The honorable gentleman is telling an untruth.
– I heard the honorable member enumerate the duties which, in his opinion, should come down.
– The honorable member is saying what is not true.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, and say that the honorable member’s statement is incorrect. I ask that my denial be accepted, and that the Prime Minister shall not persist in misrepresenting me.
– I have already pointed out that it is the practice of the House to accept an honorable member’s denial of something attributed to him. I ask the Prime Minister to observe that practice, and, at the same time, I call upon honorable members to cease interjecting.
– We are entitled to ask whether this amendment has the support of the Leader of the Opposition? Has it his countenance? When we are considering Government business the right honorable gentleman is constantly absent. Members of his party are continually taking the work of the Leader of the Opposition out of his hands, and moving irresponsible motion after irresponsible motion. Is it not time that we heard from him on this matter ? Who is the Leader of the Opposition,. I should like to know ?
– Andrew Fisher.
– There he isthe honorable member for Cook. It is time that we knew whether a proposal of this kind has behind it the authority or the Opposition. I have never seen anything like this before. The Leader of the Opposition is constantly out of the chamber, while irresponsible members of his party are proposing to take the business out of the hands of the Government. If the amendment has his support it is another motion of censure. As it is we can afford to treat it with the contempt it deserves.
– The Prime Minister has been out of the chamber nearly all the afternoon.
– I hope that nc one on this side of the House will attempt to play pranks, like honorable members opposite are doing, while I happen to be out of the chamber. Where is the Leader of the Opposition ? Am I not entitled to ask whether this proposal has his support ? It has been the rule since constitutional government began to ask whether such a proposition has the support of the Leader of the Opposition. A proposal of this kind ought not to have been moved in his absence.
– He was present whan it was submitted.
– Then why is he not here? Why can I not obtain from him a statement as to whether or not the amendment has his approval?
– If the Prime Minister had been here in time he could have obtained it.
– Has the honorable member sent for the Leader of the Opposition ? I think I am entitled to ask that question .
– If the Prime Minister asks me any question, I shall answer it.
– Here is another leader ! Honorable members opposite do not appear to see that this business is serious and “ loaded.” We wish to know whether this amendment is moved with the authority of the Labour party, or whether one or two quite irresponsible members are to take the business of’ the Opposition out of their Leader’s hands ? If the’ latter be the case, we shall know what to do. I submit that I am entitled to know what sincerity there really is on the part of the Opposition in the burning desire they have expressed for the rectification of Tariff anomalies. This business appears to be of such consequence that all the leaders of the Labour party are absent from the chamber when it is brought up.
– How many leaders are there on this side?
– Goodness only knows! There are four honorable members sitting on the front bench now. I suggest that when the important question of the Tariff is under consideration we are- entitled to know the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition regarding it.
– Does the Prime Minister admit that it is important?
– It is so important that the Leader of the Opposition “ scoots “ out of the chamber - that he is out of the chamber, and will not express his opinion one way or the other.
– That is not correct.
– I ask, again, whether the honorable member for Cook has the authority of the Leader of the Opposition when he submits this amendment - whether it is done with the consent and approval of his leader?
– I represent, an electorate, and I take the responsibility of moving the amendment in the interests of my electors.
– Exactly; then I shall have to take the responsibility, as representing not only an electorate but the country as a whole, of telling the honorablemember that we cannot take the proposal seriously.
– Then do the other.
– We have arrived at the point that an irresponsible member of the Opposition, without reference to his leader-
– That is not so.
– Possibly flouting his leader’s advice.
– That is not so.
– This important question raised for discussion is thought so much of by the leaders of the party opposite that they all absent themselves immediately from the chamber.
– That is not true.
– It is a fact that there is not a leading member of the Opposition in the chamber while this matter is under discussion.
– Who are the leading members ?
– Does the honorable member not know his own leaders ? Are there so many that they are not known ?
– Is the Prime Minister in order, in a debate on this amendment, in going into the question of the leadership of the Labour party?
– The Prime Minister is quite in order in asking whether an amendment of the kind has the approval of the Leader of the Opposition. I point out that honorable members have interrupted the Prime Minister, and thus prolonged his remarks beyond the time they otherwise would have .taken up. I have several times called for order, and I must emphasize the absolute necessity,, when such a call is made, for honorable members not immediately afterwards to interject. I have several times had to call attention to this reprehensible practice, and, while I do not wish to proceed to extremes, if honorable members do not obey the directions given them they must take the consequences.
– I regard any matter affecting the fiscal question as one for the serious discussion of the House. The question has been deliberately raised by an honorable member of the Opposition, and I am taking the usual course in asking whether the amendment has the approval of the leaders of the party opposite. If this amendment be carried, it means that we quit these benches ; and, therefore, the matter is serious.
– Is that what is the matter ?
– I wish to know where the Leader of the Opposition is on this question - whether the amendment has been launched with his concurrence? I am entitled to the information, but I am met with the question, “ “Who are our leaders?” If I am to judge, I should say that the honorable member for Cook is the Leader of the Opposition at the present moment, and, beside him, there is another leader in the person of the honorable member for Gwydir. Further, there is an honorable member who has offered to answer any questions that I may care to ask.
– Is the honorable member discussing the question before the Chair?
– The Prime Minister is quite in order in asking for information of the kind. The -honorable gentleman is addressing himself to the amendment, and expressing his views regarding the effect of it.
– Only a moment ago the accommodating member for East Sydney offered to answer any questions on points in regard to which I may be in doubt.
– I shall render the Prime Minister all the assistance I can.
– I pay the honorable member for East Sydney the tribute of saying that I have known him as always a staunch Protectionist. If this motion is serious - and I think it is - then I can only conclude - but here comes the Leader of the Opposition.
– I believe that the Prime Minister sent for me.
– I should like to know from the right honorable gentleman whether he is in favour of the course now being taken?
– What course? ‘
– An important amendment has been launched, and the right honorable gentleman, who is supposed to lead the Labour party, does not know anything about it. The position is becoming more ridiculous every minute!
– We must object to the words “ supposed to lead the party “ - the Prime Minister knows that the right honorable gentleman is the Leader of the Labour party.
– What is the question before the Chair ? The speech of the Prime Minister makes me rather astonished.
– A motion has been moved by the Prime Minister to postpone certain Orders of the Day until after the consideration of notices of motion Nos. 1, 2, and 3, Government business; and an amendment thereto has been moved by the honorable member for Cook to insert words which will have the effect of postponing Orders of the Day Nos. 2 and 3, but of bringing Order of the Day No. 4, and the question of the rectification of Tariff anomalies, under consideration forthwith.
– I should like to know if the Leader of the Opposition is of opinion that the business of the Government should be set aside while we discuss amendments of this character?
Does the right honorable gentleman think that the proposal on the business-paper to deal with trusts, which he and others are never tired of alleging are to the hurt and injury of the country - are forcing up the prices of goods which the workers consume, and thereby reducing the workers’ earnings - should be set aside while we discuss an abstract proposal which can have no good result ? We are entitled to know who is Leader of the Opposition in connexion with these matters. It is not usual to have Tariff proposals launched by any honorable member without the imprint of the leaders of a party. That is why I wish to know whether the right honorable gentleman is of opinion that this course of procedure should be followed - whether it has his approval and the approval of his colleagues.
On the fiscal question itself, the position of the Government is quite clear ; and I am going to take two minutes to state it to the House.
– The Prime Minister is treating the question seriouslynow!
– I have said all along that I regard it as serious, and that is why I do not think it ought to be in the honorable member’s irresponsible hands. The Tariff has been referred to the Inter-State Commission, which was created for this specific purpose by honorable members opposite. They provided the very machine which to-day is operating; and, so far as I know, not one word of complaint has arisen, until very recently, as to the personnel of the Commission.
– We did not appoint the members of the Commission.
– That is so; but honorable members opposite have never uttered one word of criticism as to the personnel.
– Yes; I said that they were Free Traders.
– That may be; but the honorable member, at the election, absolutely repudiated his party; and in that he was quite consistent. As soon as the declaration as to the Tariff was made at Maryborough,the honorable member on the next night, I think, said that the Leader of the Opposition did not represent him in this matter - that, in effect, he would not vote another duty of a protective character until he knew where the workers “ came in.” Is the proposal before us one which will permit the workers to “ come in” ? This is a proposal for the rectification of anomalies.
– I shall vote for rectification where the workers get their due.
– That is the proper attitude for the honorable member to adopt, but he swung himself right out ofline with the rest of his party, who, without reference to the workers, pledged themselves to deal with the Tariff. And by what method were they to proceed ? Merely by the method of the machine which they themselves had created. When they passed the legislation creating the Inter-State Commission they specifically gave the Commission the function of dealing with the Tariff as it affected the worker, the consumer, and the employer. The question is being inquired into with all celerity - with the utmost possible despatch. The honorable member for Cook seems to know what are the fiscal opinions of Mr. Piddington, though I confess that I do not.
– Does the honorable member not know that Mr. Piddington was a Free Trader in New South Wales?
– Does the Prime Minister not know that?
– -All I have to say in reply to the taunting interjection of the honorable member for Barrier is that Mr. Piddington was a Free Trader at the same time the honorable member himself was.
– And at the same time the Prime Minister was.
– Is the honorable member for Barrier still a Free Trader?
– What has thatto do with Mr. Piddington?.
– Apart altogether from Mr. Piddington, who may or may not be a Free Trader, the other two members of the Commission, at least, are regarded as Protectionists.
– How does the Prime Minister know that?
– I repeat that Mr. Lockyer and Mr. Swinburne are Protectionists.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– I have again to ask honorable members to keep order.
– It is a pity honorable members cannot let me getalong with this matter. They have raised the question. Let us face it. I repeat again that the machinery has been created by my friends opposite, and that the personnel of the Commission has been composed so as to. make it compatible with the fiscal opinion of the country as decided, so my honorable friends say, again and again, in favour of a Protectionist Tariff. There are two Protectionists on the Commission.
– Were they appointed because of their Protectionist ideas?
– They were appointed because they were suitable men, and because I believed, and the Government believed, that they were men who had the full and complete confidence of this country.
– One of them was a very awkward man in State politics at the time that he was shifted.
– I know nothing about what he was in State politics. I only know that Mr. Swinburne is a man who commands the confidence of this country as to his ability, his integrity, his uprightness and his sincerity; and whatever else the Government have done so far, they have never tried to make appointments of any kind except upon the score of ability and character.
So there we have the machinery, and it is being operated by men who, by their own fiscal beliefs and opinions, are not likely to do any damage to the Protectionist policy of the country. They are now engaged in this work. Yet honorable members opposite want me to say to them, “ You must do just what I want you to do.” I decline absolutely to do anything of the kind. I decline to have the Commissioners interfered with, sp far as the conduct of their own business is concerned. Whatever the consequences may be, they shall be allowed to do their work in their own way.
– Will you not specify a certain time for the preliminary report?
– All I know is that the sooner they report the sooner what they -have to report will be brought to this House. We shall not delay it one minute. I can promise the honorable member that. But we do not propose to proceed until we know where we stand, and we can only know where we stand when a full and complete investigation has been made into these matters. I am glad, indeed, to have this opportunity of correcting an impression which has been industriously circulated throughout the country by certain Protectionists that
Ministers propose to allow this Inter-State Commission to fix the Tariff of the country. I have never made such a statement anywhere. I have never thought of maksuch a silly pronouncement.
– I read it in the-Age.
– I am not troubled as to where the honorable member read it. I am only concerned in repudiating any such foolish notion. I say that this Parliament, and no other body, must take the responsibility.
– Then let us have it now.
– Have what now?
– The Tariff, without a report from the Inter-State Commission.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should take the matter out of the hands of the Inter-State Commission ?
– Yes, straight away. Otherwise we shall have to wait too long.
– Does the honorable member say, then, that he made a mistake in passing the Bill to create this machinery ? Does his leader support him in this denunciation of the machinery appointed to settle this matter?
– That was not all they were appointed to do.
– What were they to do otherwise?
– Any amount of work.
– All I know is that in line upon line of the functions which honorable members allotted to the Inter-State Commission, they made it as clear as the English language can make anything clear that they required the Inter-State ( Commission to deal with the Tariff in a very thorough way. That was the Commission honorable members gave to them, the Commission for which they asked authority in the House; and that permission was given to honorable members without let or hindrance on either side of the House. Yet now the honorable member says that it was all a mistake.’
– I have said nothing of the kind.
– Since we have been in office we hear nothing from honorable members on the Opposition benches but absolute and utter condemnation of everything they did when they were on the Government benches, and here’ is another instance of it. The honorable member says that it was all a mistake. After having given his deliberate vote to put the Tariff into the hands of the InterState Commission, he now says that he wishes to take it away from them.
– I have said nothing of the kind.
– We are not going to play with the matter with such childishness.
– They are playing with the Tariff.
– Are they?
– The trouble is that honorable members opposite did nothavethe appointing of the Commission.
– It is quite evident that something went wrong in connexion with that Commission. Every one knows what it was. But we have one consolation, and that is the belief that the country is behind these Commissioners in their inquiry and in their work.
– Go to the country and find out.
– You do not want to go to the country. If you did, you would not bring these obstructive motions forward all the time, and prevent us going there.
– I do not know whether Mr. Speaker heard the statement of the Prime Minister.
– I withdraw the statement in order to save time.
– Order ! It should, not be necessary for me to have so frequently to appeal to honorable members to maintain order. I have had to do it several times already to-day. Many disorderly remarks to which exception is taken arise out of disorderly interjections which precede them. I ask ‘honorable members to refrain from interjections. They are at all times disorderly, and especially so when they are in concert or in succession.
– Here is the machinery provided for the Inter-State Commission. They are bidden to inquire as to -
The production of and trade in commodities; the encouragement, improvement, and extension of Australian industries and manufactures.
Yet the honorable member says that it was all a mistake.
– Read on.
The effect and operation of any Tariff Act or other legislation of the Commonwealth in regard to revenue, Australian manufactures and industry, and trade generally; prices of commodities; profits of trade and manufacture; wages and social and industrial conditions -
– Read on; there is more yet.
Labour, employment, and unemployment; bounties paid by foreign countries to encourage shipping or export trade; population; immigration ; and so on. There are the duties you charge them to perform. Is that a light task?
– Yet, because they have not reported at once, you accuse them of all sorts of thing3, make all sorts of unworthy imputations against them, and say they are playing with these duties you gave them to perform. You are not fair. Every one knows that you are not sincere.
– Is that remark in order ?
– Very well; I withdraw it.
– The honorable member must address the Chair.
– Let us see where gentlemen opposite are. I heard the Leader of the Opposition speaking on this matter in the House not a long time ago. On the 9th September, 1909, just before he himself came into office, and was let loose on the Tariff, he challenged the then Prime Minister, Mr. Deakin. Here is what he said -
I now ask the Prime Minister whether he really believes, as he invites other people to believe, that the time will soon come when the Commonwealth will be able to contribute to the revenue, through the Customs and Excise, an amount in excess of £3 10s. per head T The idea is ridiculous and absurd; and, in my opinion, that piece of special pleading was worse than worthless; it was not only absolutely useless, but, though not intentionally, misleading to the public. . . . I go so far as to say that I shall regret it very much if the receipts from Customs and Excise for the Commonwealth ever exceed £2 8s. 6d. per head. That amount extorted from every individual in” the Commonwealth, whether well-to-do or otherwise, is high enough in all conscience. . . . If the honorable member for Robertson is of opinion that it is too high, I am sure I can say, on behalf of all the members of our party, that we will assist him to reduce it.
The high-water mark which the right honorable gentleman would not exceed was £2 8s. 6d.per head, and if honorable members required his help he was prepared to reduce it. That was before he went into office; but after three years of office on the part of these honorable gentlemen, who have been fulminating ever since, the revenue from Customs an’d Excise was still at about £3 10s. per head. In a word, they did nothing with the Tariff during their whole three years, and now to-day, when they are out of office, they are all burning with the desire to rectify anomalies in the Tariff, and to cherish the manufacturers and industries of Australia. The position is too obvious.
But just let me put another aspect of the matter. Their organ, the Sydney’ Worker, on the 6th November, 1913, dealing with the subject “Who Pays?”, said -
Who pays the Tariff? You workers every time. You not only pay the Tariff, but you also pay that extra tribute which the Tariff permits the master class to levy off the productive labour of the country.
– Is that an editorial ?
– Yes. It is a denunciation of the Tariff.
Sitting suspended from. 6.30 to 8.0 p.m.
-When the House rose for dinner I was making some answer to the question which has been raised, not only here but elsewhere, as to the bona fides of the Government and this party respecting this fiscal question. All sorts of statements have been hurled about the chamber from time to time, and altogether this fiscal question seems once more to be doing our friends opposite good service. When they are out of office they are “ whales “ on the Tariff ; when they are in office they absolutely shelve it, and decline to touch it.
– That is not correct.
– That is their record.I have before me statements made by the honorable member himself only a little while ago, in which he declined to touch the Tariff until certain guarantees had been given with regard to the protection of the worker. Does not the honorable member know that at the last Inter-State Conference at Hobart, when the Labour party’s present policywas settled, from which policy they may not depart, the Conference turned down a proposal for effective Protection, and decided to leave the matter as it is ? Did not the right honorable gentleman say at Maryborough, by implication, “ No more Tariff until we pass the referen dum, so that we may protect the workers?”
– He said the reverse.
– I have all the honorable member’s statements here. As to the solidarity of my honorable friends opposite, I should like to ask whether the honorable member for Grey is prepared to vote for a higher Tariff on fertilizers, for instance, and for higher duties on agricultural machinery? Where are honorable members in this matter? Is there any sincerity in their attitude ? Let them take the beams out of their own eyes before they go hunting for the motes in the eyes of individuals oyer here.
I desire to make one or two references to the Tariff and its relation to the InterState Commission. The honorable member for Cook said that the House would not agree to the recommendations of the Commission if those recommendations did not suit the House. I entirely agree with the honorable member. When the InterState Commission has completed its investigations -
– When will that be?
– Forty years hence.
– Order !
– It is impossible to get a sentence out; honorable members are interjecting the whole time. When the Inter-State Commission has completed its investigations into any item of the Tariff, the responsibility of this Parliament will commence, and it will be for this Parliament to exercise that responsibility in the light of the information furnished by the Inter-State Commission. The Commission is not to mould the Tariff; it is not to decide the Tariff; it is only to inform the House regarding it; to give us the fullest information concerning it, and its effect upon the manufacture of certain goods, upon the worker and upon the consumer. And when the House is fully informed as to the bearing of the Tariff in all its relations, it will take the full responsibility of any decision affecting the Tariff. The responsibility is ours, and can never be transferred to a Commission or any other body. Nor has there ever been the slightest intention on the part of the Government or this party that we should surrender one iota of our responsibility in connexion with the finalizing of this Tariff matter.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong has complained that he cannot get all the evidence taken by the Commission; he wants a shorthand note of all the evidence. I venture to say that this House has considered reports of Royal Commissions before to-day, in which a full report of evidence has been included, and the bulk of that evidence has been passed by totally unheeded. The honorable member should not convey the impression, however, that no evidence is to be furnished. That is far from being a fact. I believe that such evidence will be furnished as will satisfy any reasonable man, and I do not understand this clamour for a mass of detail.
-Who is to be the judge?
– The InterState Commission will be the judge of the evidence, and they propose to give us all the evidence they can, and to substantiate all their recommendations by evidence. I should like to read a memorandum submitted by the Minister of Trade and Customs with reference to questions put to him, and complaints made, by the honorable member for Maribyrnong -
Mr. J. E. Fenton, M.P., has called upon me and entered his protest against the action of the Inter-State Commission in not having shorthand notes taken of the proceedings before the Commission. He stated that, in his opinion, as Parliament had to consider the reports on matters of policy affecting the Tariff, it was essential that Parliament should have the evidence upon which those reports were based. I desire to bring this protest -under your notice, and will be glad if you would inform me as to what notes of evidence can be made available, should Parliament so desire, in connexion with the applications which are being submitted to the Commission.
The reply of the Chief Commissioner, Mr. Piddington, was as follows: -
In reply to your communication of the 4th inst., with reference to the question of having shorthand notes taken of the Tariff investigation proceedings, I have to state that unless the Government desires a full shorthand note of the evidence to be taken, the Commission proposes to submit with itsreport a summary of the evidence, to be prepared from notes taken by each Commissioner, including documentary evidence, or so much documentary evidence as may be relevant. This we think you will find ample for the purpose mentioned in your letter.
– Who is the better able to judge of these matters - party politicians in this House, or highlytrained and highly-qualified judicial members of a Commission, who are sent specially to inquire into this matter, and who are free from party bias and party manipulation?
– Are they to decide this question of Tariff?
– I thought I had already made it perfectly clear to the House that this Parliament, and not the Inter-State Commission, was to decide the Tariff.
– But the Commission is to decide the evidence.
– Have they not been appointed for the purpose of informing this House? It is their prime function; but what the honorable member wants is that we shall dictate to them what they shall do, when they shall report, and what evidence they shall submit. That would be an interference with the proper functions of the Commission, as laid down in the Act, and the Government do not intend to lend themselves to any such action.
– You promised to remedy the anomalies in the meantime.
– What we promised is being attended to. One gets nothing but a silly guffaw lately whenever he makes a statement in this House. Does the honorable member wish me to tell him what particular anomaly we are rectifying, and how we are going to rectify it? He does? That shows how much the honorable member knows about Tariff rectification, and about parliamentary procedure in reference to such a matter. He will only know what our proposals are when they are placed on the table. I hope the honorable member will recollect that something is being done, and that we are fulfilling the promise made to the country. And when the matter is dealt with, it will not be handled, as heretofore, with party passion dominating its consideration in this House, and determining it entirely; but we intend that this House shall have before it the best evidence that can be collected by the men most qualified to collect it, and after every consideration, and every interest has had its full, free, and fair discussion before the Commission itself.
.- The Prime Minister has definitely asked me to say how I regard the amendment moved by the honorable member for Cook.
– I asked if it had your consent.
– The amendment moved by the honorable member for Cook reads -
That Orders of the Day Nos. 2 and 3 be postponed, and Order of the Day No. 4 be taken into consideration to permit of anomalies in the Tariff being considered forthwith.
I agree with that. It is in accordance with my action when this matter was previously before Parliament. In the words of the Prime Minister himself today : It is in accordance with the pledges I gave to the people at the last election. The honorable member admitted that. He stated that the party on this side was pledged to it.
– I admitted no such thing.
– Then the honorable member said it.
– I have just been reading statements to the contrary, in which you said to the electors “ the referenda, or no Tariff.”
– The Prime Minister will say. anything. I shall repeat what I said at Maryborough, every word of it, from beginning to end: -
Maryborough, 31st March, 1913
The Tariff originally imposed in 1901 and since amended, though working fairly well on the whole, seems to call for re-adjustment to more effectually encourage Australian manufacturers. With respect to the further encouragement of Australian manufactures the policy of the Labour party has been and is along the lines of the New Protection. Legislation, instigated by the Labour party and passed by the Parliament in 1906, has been in the Excise (Agricultural Machinery) Act declared by the High Court invalid. Until the Constitution is amended nothing can be done to give effect to that policy. Protection of the workers in protected industries cannot be assured while protection of the consumer, i.e., of the community generally, is quite impossible. We therefore most strongly urge that the amendments of the Constitution now before you should be approved, in which case we shall take immediate steps to put the policy of New Protection into force and give such protection to the community and to the workers as may be necessary. Should the people, however, decide not to take to themselves, through their Federal Parliament, these powers, the Government pledges itself to take an early opportunity to amend the Tariff to give effective protection to Australian industries.
The same conduct was pursued outside that has been pursued within the walls ofthis chamber, but the facts cannot be excluded from Hansard, though the newspapers supporting honorable members opposite may suppress them. We said, . “ If our referendum proposals are not carried, we shall take an early opportunity to give ample and full protection to Australian industries.”
– I have read the official programme. Have I read it correctly?
– Yes. “ The protection of the consumer or the community generally is quite impossible “!
– We made our statement definitely and distinctly, so that every honest man and woman could know our programme. We said that, should the referendum proposals not be carried, we should still proceed with an early amendment of the Tariff to give effective Protection to Australian industries. In pursuance of that policy, on which we were elected, we propo.sed to give effective Protection at the earliest opportunity. There is business in our proposals; there is none in those put forward by this Government. The Government’s proposals cannot affect a single industry, cannot find work for one unemployed man. They have merely wasted the time of the National Parliament in the consideration of trumpery Bills, introduced to gain a political advantage. Industries may flag, injustice may be done; it is nothing to the party opposite, so long as it may gain a political advantage. Two sessions may be wasted, nothing being done, and we are to be blamed.
– You are to blame so far.
– The opportunity has not come. The Prime Minister has quoted what I said in 1909. I repeat what I said then. He stated that I objected to a very high revenue Tariff; I still object to such a Tariff. You cannot have effective Protection and a large Tariff revenue. That is a consistent position, but the honorable gentleman evidently does not know the difference between a Tariff imposed to obtain revenue and a Protective Tariff imposed to meet the necessities of industry.
– I merely pointed out that, although in office for three years, the right honorable gentleman did nothing.
– That is not an accurate statement; it is merely a desperate exclamation made after the honorable gentleman has been bowled out two or three times.
– What did you do ? Convict me with the facts.
– The honorable gentleman, by his excitability, and the words he has uttered, has convicted himself. He convicted himself when he did not read the whole of my Maryborough statement. We have, as a party, put our policy before the country, and we keep our pledges, whether in Opposition or in office. The measures that were chiefly before the country when we took office were carried into law. The Tariff had a prominent place in our programme at the last election, and we are in duty bound, individually and as a party, to’ carry out our pledges to the country. I am heartily pleased to have an opportunity to do so, seeing that there is in power a Government which seems to be careless of the prosperity of the country, and is willing to prevent the doing of useful work in this Parliament, for the carrying out of its whims, and the securing of a political advantage.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Mr. J. H. Catts’ amendment) be so inserted - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 1
Questionso resolved in the negative.
.- To-day we have had an exhibition of the ineptitude of the Government, Ministers proving themselves incapable of arranging the business on the notice-paper in a manner enabling it to be dealt with creditably to their party. The Opposition has had to teach the Government how to arrange a business-paper.We, as a party, attach no importance to the motion that the Prime Minister desired to move, asking for leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to restore the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act with respect to voting by post. Rightly or wrongly we regard that motion as a mere political placard. The Bill to which it relates will bring no relief to those who are asking for help, nor will it benefit any section of the community. That being our view we sought to induce the Government to take up business of more importance to the country. The Orders of the Day, which the Prime Minister desires to postpone, are the second reading of the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill, and the consideration in Committee of Supply and Ways and Means. In the course of his tirade the Prime Minister declared that the Opposition were doing something that would tend to block the inquiry which the Government proposed to make into the operations of the Beef Trust. As a matter of fact our object is to assist the Government to secure an effective inquiry. The effectiveness of the Commission which has been appointed to investigate the operations of the trust depends largely upon the passing of the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill. Again and again during the last three or four years commissions appointed by this Parliament to inquire into various enterprises and industries have found it utterly impossible to compel the principals to give that evidence which is so essential to enable Parliament to come to a proper decision. The Parliamentary Witnesses Bill is intended to remove that disability. The Prime Minister, however, chides us and asserts that we are trying to prevent the passing of useful legislation when we are really showing our bona fides by calling upon the Government to proceed with that Bill, instead of wasting time in discussing measures that have no substance, and which are merely political placards. Our desire is that the Commission appointed to inquire into the operations of the Beef Trust shall have ample power to compel the agents of the trust to disclose that evidence without which no effective action can be taken by the Parliament.
– Does the honorable member say that the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill will give that power to the Commission ?
– That merely shows that the honorable member has not read the Bill.
– I have read it.
– Then the honorable member does not understand it.
– I take no notice of an interjection of that kind coming from an honorable gentleman, who a little while ago made a certain statement on the floor of this House when there was no one to reply to him, and had subsequently by a nod of his head to admit to the ex-Attorney-General that it was not in accordance with fact. The Parliamentary Witnesses Bill, the AttorneyGeneral will admit, is more important than is the Postal Vote Restoration Bill.
– lt has nothing to do with this matter.
– The AttorneyGeneral, with his experience of parliamentary machinations, must know that the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill is far more important than is the Bill for the restoration of the postal vote which the Prime Minister desires leave to introduce. Every one of the- Orders of the Day which (he honorable gentleman desires to post- pone, is of more importance than the notice of motion with which he wishes to proceed. There are, for instance, many matters that might be discussed with advantage to the people on the motion for Supply. There are many questions of far more importance to the people than is the notice of motion which, owing to the Prime Minister’s own incapacity and want of foresight, cannot be proceeded with to-night. The honorable gentleman finds himself hoist with his own petard. I well remember when it was first ruled that notices of motion could not be discussed after two hours from the opening of the sitting had elapsed. It was on that ruling upon a point of order raised by the Prime Minister that our right to debate a censure motion was restricted. Advantage was taken of a standing order which had never before been called into requisition by any decent Government. Honorable members opposite strained the Standing Orders to secure a party victory. They showed to what length they would go in their desire to do nothing more than to placard the country with a couple of trumpery, useless Bills, which are more or less of a mockery.
– The honorable member is not in order in describing a Bill as a mockery.
– I withdraw the word “ mockery,” and say that the Bills in question are more or less of an imposition on the credulity of the people. The ruling given on the occasion to which I have referred governs the action of the House to-day, and the Prime Minister, who initiated this method of conducting business, now howls like a baby because the Opposition seek to give preference to business more important than that with which he desires to proceed.
– I think that the Govern ment will resign very soon.
-After the division just taken some of them might well be expected to do so, but I think that nothing short of a volcanic outburst would shift the Government. After the vote just taken on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Cook, the Victorian supporters of the Government, who were most loud in their demands at the last general election, must feel very uneasy. Unlike us they had not two strings to their bow. We were prepared if the Constitution were amended to see that justice was done under the Tariff, not only to the manufacturer, but to the worker and the consumer as well.
– The honorable member is now traversing the amendment, which has been disposed of. He is not in order in doing so.
– I merely desire to show the hopeless position of some honorable members opposite in view of the decision just arrived at. I should not be surprised if the Ministerial party held a caucus and decided to withdraw the notice of motion for leave to introduce the Postal Vote Restoration Bill. If they desire to escape from the wrath to come they should withdraw the Bill, and try to avoid any dissolution either single or double. Judging by their looks some honorable members opposite realize that after the division just taken they will have some difficulty in facing the electors. What the Prime Minister said earlier in the day has been verified. The honorable gentleman declared that this was a battle of wits, and so it has proved. The Government and their supporters would have been better advised had they not adopted this method of restricting and curtailing debate on a question of great importance to the people of the country ; indeed, we have been practically prevented from discussing fundamental issues on which the government of the Commonwealth depends. To move a vote of censure is the inherent right of an Opposition ; it is the only means we have of expressing our disapprobation of the action of the Government, and indicating to the country the state of affairs within Parliament. One would think that the Government would hesitate before they endeavoured, by stretching the Standing Orders, to embarrass the Opposition in performing one of their first duties to the people.
– The honorable member is now discussing the effect of the Standing Orders.
– I am discussing the effect of the ruling.
– That is not before the Chair. The question is that Orders of the Day be postponed until after the consideration of the Notices of Motion 1, 2, and 3. Government business.
– I am trying to show why the Orders of the Day should not oe postponed. They are of far more importance than the motions referred to, and, therefore, should claim our prior attention. The Prime Minister has a notice of motion for leave to bring in a Bill to restore the provisions of the Electoral Act with respect to voting by post ; but there is no honorable member in the House, and very few people in the country, who understand politics, who won id, for a moment, say that they should claim priority over any measure that might be suggested. Only by the greatest stretch of imagination in a decadent brain could such an idea find a place. What does *thi** proposed Bill mean?
– It means that sick people will get a vote.
-We, on this side of the House, have no objection to bond fide sick people exercising the franchise. The next notice of motion is by the Minister of Trade and Customs, for leave to bring in a Bill to amend the Australian Industries Preservation Act. Will any honorable member tell me that the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill is not more important than that motion. The Parliamentary Witnesses Bill is intended to give to Parliamentary Committees powers which are absolutely necessary to their proper working, and which have hitherto not been possible under the law. This measure is of great importance, in view of the many Commissions and Committees in existence now, and likely to be created in the future.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the proposals embodied in the measures mentioned ; the question is their postponement.
– I am endeavouring to throw a little light on the subject Defore the House.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the subjectmatter of the motions on the paper.
– The Parliamentary Witnesses Bill gives power to Committees and Commissions to effectively conduct investigations ; and we claim that under the circumstances it ought to take precedence. The measure is full of important provisions, which, as 1 say, are absolutely necessary in view of the Royal Commissions already at work. A Select Committee is to be proposed to-morrow.
– The honorable member ought to be on that Committee I
– If the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill were law, I might be induced to act on the suggestion of the
Postmaster-General, but I have no desire to be on any Select Committee under present conditions. Then, again, could anything be more important than the discussion of the vast expenditure of the Commonwealth? Can any unbiased person, with no political axe to grind, contend for a moment that the consideration of Supply would not produce better results than a discussion on the empty, paltry, trumpery political placard represented by the first motion ? In order to test the sincerity of the Prime Minister and the Government on the question of the Beef Trust, I intend to move an amendment. We know how the Prime Minister stands in relation to Protection, and it is desirable that we should know how he stands in relation to the question of the trusts. I move -
That all the words after “ consideration “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ of Notice of Motion No. 2 as follows : - Mr. Groom : To move, That he have leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906-1910.”
It is of no use the Prime Minister masquerading with pretences before the people, because they have some idea of the value of those pretences. Only by placing the professions of the Government in a crucible and separating the genuine from the false, can we understand how the time of this House is being absorbed. If the Government are in earnest in their desire to trace the minions of the Beef Trust to their lair, and wish to prove whether the high price of meat is due te the combine, or to other causes, they will vote for the amendment. If they do not vote for the amendment then the public will be able to judge where the Government stand. Should they supportthe amendment, we shall expect to see some tangible proof of their sincerity and earnestness in the matter. During the last few weeks I have been more perplexed by the proceedings in this House than I have ever been before in all my Parliamentary experience. I have never known a Government to play with the affairs of the country as the present Government have done. I submit the amendment, and trust that the House in its wisdom will adopt it.
– I second the amendment.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (ParramattaPrime Minister and Minister of Home
– I had the floor.
– The formal seconder can speak later. I have called on the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member for Oxley will not lose his right to speak. Here is another amendment
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Oxley rose to second this amendment, and did not resume his seat. The Prime Minister, therefore, is not in order in interrupting the honorable member.
– I asked if the amendment was seconded - it was merely a formal matter - and if the honorable member did not resume his seat when I was on my feet he was out of order. I did not call upon the honorable member for Oxley. It is the practice of the House for the Chair to call on members from each side alternately, preference being given to a Minister when he rises. An honorable member who formally seconds an amendment is not deprived of his right to speak later.
– Here is another amendment taking the business out of the hands of the Government, and again the Leader of the Opposition is absent. I desire to know whether this proposal to censure the Government by taking the business of the Government put of their hands has the approval and imprimatur of the responsible Leader of the Opposition. It is time we knew where we were in this House. I suppose that honorable members opposite, after an hour’s debate, will bring in the Leader of the Opposition, and that he will give them his blessing. He is compelled to do it. He reminds one of nothing so much as that man one reads about-
– On a point of order, I desire to know whether the honorable member is in order in referring to the Leader of the Opposition under cover of this amendment?
-The Prime Minister is certainly in order in asking whether an amendment of this character, which proposes to take the business out of the hands of the Government, . has the sanction of the Leader of the Opposition.
– The Leader of the Opposition reminds one of that man one reads about as running after a troop of other men. When he was asked why he was running after them, he said, “I have to run after them, because I am their leader.” The Leader of the Opposition will come into the chamber directly, and I suppose be will be compelled to say again that he approves of this proposition, and that he will also say, as he did before, “ This is business.” It is business, the business of deliberately preventing the Government from getting on with the country’s business. I tell my honorable friends opposite that their doings are not disturbing me in the slightest, because they are making it abundantly clear to the country that, test Bills or no test Bills, they have not the slightest intention of letting the Government do the country’s business. I hope the country is taking notice of what is going on. Nothing could be more eloquent - nothing could be more demonstrative of the fact, which we have time and again told the country, that it is not possible to do business in this House - useful business. or otherwise.
– But you will cling on to office as long as you can.
– We shall cling on to office until we choose to quit it, or until this House bids us quit it. Let honorable members make no mistake about that.
– Put on the “gag” if you wish to push on with business.
– If ever the “gag” was justifiable, it seems to me it is in connexion with obstructive motions of this kind, proposals which have the effect of obstructing Government business, and it amounts to this : that the Government cannot do business while our Standing Orders remain, except by the application of the closure. That is the plain English of it. And we are faced with that situation, and a very serious one it is - honorable members are acting in a way which has demonstrated one fact, namely, that no business can be done in the House except with their permission, unless it is put through by the application of the closure. All I have to say is that the Government have not the slightest intention of allowing honorable members opposite to do the business of the country.
– When we get a chance to talk, we shall talk, but when you put on the “gag” we cannot talk.
– I call the attention of the country again to the fact that honorable members opposite are asking the Government to “gag” them, demonstrating to the country thereby that they deserve it. The honorable member for Bourke says, “ Why do you not ‘ gag ‘ us?”
– Yes, if you wish to get on with business.
– The honorable member thinks that he ought to be “ gagged,” or he would not say that.
– Never. I think my remarks are too precious to be “gagged.”
– Especially the remarks the honorable member makes when he is not on his feet. The country is being treated to a novel spectacle in this House. Honorable members who go about protesting that they want to do the business of the country, that they want to take in hand some useful legislation, will not permit the Government to introduce legislation of any kind.
– Withdraw the test Bills, and see what we will do.
– No, thank you. We have put one measure through in spite of you. With all the limitations imposed on us, and they are many - such as no Government has ever yet had to face - we have put through one of those measures. We have put it through in spite of the Opposition and all they could do to prevent it.
– Why cannot you put other measures through in the same way?
– Here, again, is another member who asks us to apply the closure.
– Then you admit that you closured the test Bill through?
– Did we? I was not aware of it. If honorable members opposite go on as they are doing, the Government will be able to do a little business later on, because their own supporters are deserting them in disgust, going out of the House when a vote is taken in order to show their disgust at the whole proceedings. That is a spectacle we have had to-night. I congratulate one honorable member on his pluck.
– One Free Trader.
– Now we have an honorable member taunting another about his Free Trade principles - one Free Trader taunting another Free Trader; but we are not dealing with Free Trade now. I am dealing with the matter of the conduct of public business, and I invite the attention of the country to the spectacle before us to-night of an Opposition which clamours to do the business of the country, yet takes advantage of every form the house permits in order to prevent any business being done. That is one outstanding feature. Another outstanding feature following upon that is that this Parliament is not in the position to do business, and the sooner matters are brought to an issue, and the people of the country are able to express their opinion upon the whole parliamentary machinery and upon the composition of both Houses, the better for all concerned.
– On a point of order, I contend that the amendment is out of order. I understand that the motion before the Chair is to suspend the Orders of the Day until notices of motion are dealt with. My contention is that the amendment is to dispose of notice of motion No. 2 before we have reached it. The honorable member will have ample opportunity of moving his amendment when we suspend the Orders of the Day.
– I submit that the point is a good one. The honorable member can do nothing in the way of overriding a notice of motion until we reach notices of motion.
– The amendment is out of order.
.- I am delighted that the amendment has been ruled out of order. The Prime Minister is anxious to go on with public business.
I am very pleased. After a lapse of twelve months, I am certain that he is anxious to go on with some business, and, had he spoken for a little longer, he would have contributed to the harmony of proceedings, and helped us to go on until
II o’clock to-night. But he has at his disposal the very same instruments that he employed last session, and which he had no scruples about using last session. Why does he not put them to use now ? There are methods - the Standing Orders and instruments - at the disposal of the Government. There are the Government. We are obstructionists. They are anxious to go on with the business. Why do not they do it i
– I rise to a point of order. Here is an honorable member calling attention to the fact that the Opposition are deliberately obstructing public business. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to rule the honorable member out of order for confessing “that he has risen for the purpose of deliberately obstructing public business, and for inviting the use of the “gag” to try to prevent that obstruction.
– I do not think the Prime Minister has put the point correctly. The honorable member for Bourke was simply re-stating what the Prime Minister had already stated. Two or three times during the debate the Prime Minister has talked about the obstruction on this side, and the honorable member for Bourke was reconstructing the picture the Prime Minister had put to the House, and, in doing so, was merely making use of the language of the Prime Minister.
– I have not heard the honorable member for Bourke declare that his intention was to obstruct the business of the House. If several honorable members interject at one time, and in loud tones, it is not possible to hear what is said.
– It is quite true that I was not making any observations of my own. I was not in the least obstructing public business; everybody knows I would not do so. If the Government would bring forward public business I would be prepared to give indorsement to it. I was merely recapitulating the statement made by the Prime Minister. It has been said that it was necessary for some one to go to the country. I am pointing out that this Parliament could be sent to the country by an easier process than by sending me out of the chamber.
– The question before the House is the postponement of these orders.
– Yes, sir. Is it not the duty of the Government, when they profess to conduct the business of the country, to know enough, to be clever and capable enough, to so arrange the businesspaper as to prevent anything of this kind occurring?
– We cannot get behind the Standing Orders.
– The Standing Orders are a protection to all members of the Chamber, and the Government have to draw up their business in accordance with them. The Standing Orders are clear and definite, and there is no reason why the order of business laid down by them should uot be proceeded with. An honorable member sees what the order of business is, and he gets a pair and goes away to one of the other States, or to England, or elsewhere, thinking that he will be back here in time to deal with a certain question, but he finds that in his absence the Government have shot up to a prominent place in the business-paper something new and unexpected. The Government knew when they drew up the notice-paper that the Parliamentary Witnesses’ Bill was of vast importance, and they made it the first Order of the Day. Why have they departed from it, and why do they ask us to discuss something else in its stead ? On the question of Supply-
– There has already been an amendment which included that.
– That amendment related to Ways and Means.
– It dealt also with the postponement of orders 2 and 3.
– The amendment moved in connexion with the fiscal question resulted in a long discussion, but no amendment has been moved in regard to the Beef Trust. That is an important matter. The trust is an evil regarded by the Government as being of vast importance, and it ought to be dealt with immediately. It would be far better if the Government were to move that Notice of Motion No. 1 be postponed until after motion No. 2.
– That has been ruled out of order, and cannot be made the subject of an amendment.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Moreton took a point of order on the last amendment, which proposed that Notice of Motion No. 2-
– The honorable member cannot rise to a point of order on a matter that has already been decided.
– I am speaking on a different matter. I submit that there was an error in the drafting of that amendment.
– The honorable member mav not now discuss it.
– That error has been corrected.
– Order ! The honorable member has interrupted the speech of the honorable member for Bourke with a point of order which I rule cannot be taken at this juncture.
– I have another amendment, and if you rule that it is in order I will speak about it.
– The honorable member may proceed, while I read the amendment.
– The question of the Beef Trust is an important one, and the Government chided the Labour party for not doing anything in this matter. Today we have a genuine Government in power who desire to do something, and here is their opportunity. Let them go on with the matter at once. They may introduce a Bill which will have a. far more reaching effect on every household in the country than the other business with which they wish to proceed. A gigantic combine has taken hold of our meat supply, and every Government in the Commonwealth is trying to deal with it. The Commonwealth Government, recognising their national responsibility, are endeavouring to cope with the evil. If we are to deal with this matter, surely there is no necessity for the Prime Minister to introduce personal matters, and there is no reason why the AttorneyGeneral should gape at me in annoyance.
I have done nothing to earn his disapprobation. I merely exercise my right as an honorable member of this Chamber to bring forward certain matters that are well worthy of consideration; yet the moment any honorable member rises to exercise his right the Prime Minister asks, “ Where is the Leader of the Labour party?” The Leader of the Opposition has as much right to rest and recreation as any other honorable member has; he has other matters of public importance to attend to, and he has to leave other men of less capacity than himself to carry on the discussion in this Chamber. I feel that my obligations to the country demand that I should draw attention to the fact that the Government, who profess so much interest in the operations of the Beef Trust, are disinclined to push on with the matter at all.
– You are not in good form; you are not sufficiently amusing; I am going.
– No, I am not in good form ; butI feel that later on in the evening the proceedings will become more interesting.
– You are driving your leader out of the chamber in disgust.
– I have seen the honorable member for Parramatta go out also. I had to listen to him with great pain during the preceding Parliament, and his gigantic efforts hour after hour-
– Eighty -three measures your Government passed without the *’ gag.”
– The honorable member will pass as many if he lives long enough. I notice, Mr. Speaker, that there is a pained look upon your countenance, and under those circumstances, because of the regard I have for you, I will draw my remarks to a close. I feel that they have been so interesting that they are bound to result in good fruit, and that the Prime Minister will give his indorsement to the amendment which I now move -
That notice of motion No. 1 of Government business be postponed until after the consideration of notice of motion No. 2 of Government business, which is as follows: - “Mr. Groom : To move that he have leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1006-1910.”
– The amendment is a variation of a previous amendment which was ruled out of order. This amendment, also, is out of order.
.- I am rather disappointed that the Prime Minister has not seen fit to bring forward the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill. We are aware that he has appointed a Commissioner to inquire into the operations of the Beef Trust; and I claim that, without the aid of that Bill, the Commissioner will be almost powerless. With the aid of that measure, he will be able to obtain evidence which, if the Bill does not become law before he commences his inquiry, he will not be in a position to collect. If the Government were anxious to bring forward business which the country would welcome, they would see that the most beneficial legislation which they could bring forward, and which would affect the whole of the people of the Commonwealth, and would be applauded by them, would be something in the nature of this Parliamentary Witnesses Bill. It would be of infinitely more benefit to the people than the Bill which the Government propose to bring forward at the present time. We know that the Bill which the Prime Minister is anxious to bring forward as the second test measure has very little significance, so far as the people of the Commonwealth are concerned. If the Government are anxious to go to the country, they can do so without the aid of this Bill. The Bill which has already been passed would not be of much use for the securing of a double dissolution, and the people know how to view it. The Prime Minister continually blames the Opposition for blocking business, although it is the Government that is at fault, because were measures brought forward of which the Opposition could approve, they would not be held up.
– Then the honorable member admits that the business is being held up?
– Yes; the useful measures for which the country is crying. They have been held up by the Government. I am afraid that the Bills which the honorable gentleman wants us to consider of vital importance will remain unpassed for a considerable time. Were he really desirous of going to the country, there is a shorter way of getting there than that which he proposes.
– Who wants to go to the country?
– We, on this side, are anxious to do so, to get a fresh decision from the people, and honorable members opposite say the same. The Prime Minister has the power to send us there; let him use it. A Commissioner has been appointed to inquire into the operations of the Beef Trust, but without a Bill that has been dangled before us for some considerable time the inquiry will be largely useless, and he will get very little evidence. We know that it is very difficult to trace the operations of the trust.
– The honorable member is out of order in discussing the Beef Trust.
– I wish to show that the Government has failed in its duty in neglecting to push forward a certain measure. Ministers are making their position more difficult by trying to bring forward a Bill which they know will take a long time to get through this Chamber. If they desire to meet the wishes of the people they should accept the amendment of the honorable member for Bourke.
– There is no amendment before the Chair.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will accept the thoroughly practical suggestion made by the Opposition, because by doing so he will do what is agreeable to the people.
.- After the eloquent and persuasive speeches that have come from this side, I am surprised that the Prime Minister has not acceded to the proposals of the Opposition. Earlier in the evening he seemed anxious to proceed with the Australian Industries Preservation Bill.
– You blocked it.
– We are exceedingly desirous that something should be done to check the Beef Trust, and I understand that the Bill is intended to give a Court larger powers to do that. The Government has no mandate from the country to bring in the Bill for the introduction pf which the Prime Minister wished to get leave this afternoon. The Government is kept in power by the casting vote of the Speaker. It manages to hang on to office, but has lost the respect of the country for doing so. An analysis of the voting at the last election shows that the majority of the people then pronounced strongly against the Liberals and against the restitution of the postal vote. The Government, however, wishes to repeal the legislation which abolished the postal vote. I am surprised that members opposite, who declare themselves to be Democrats, should be unwilling to bow to the will of the people. The Minister of Trade and Customs has given notice of a motion for leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Australian Industries Preservation Act, a much more important measure than the Postal Vote Restoration Bill. “We are ready to heartily support that measure, our enthusiasm for it being evidenced by tonight’s debate.
– What has the Minister to say?
– I suppose his answer will be the usual one, that “he has the matter under observation.” We want the Bill to see the light of day. The notice of motion respecting it may be good window dressing, useful for an election campaign; but we desire to see the Bill introduced. Personally, if the Minister would promise that it shall be the first measure proceeded with, I would sit down right away. That is my answer to the Prime Minister’s statement that we are blocking legislation. The Minister is silent. Evidently he has no intention of proceeding with the measure. I am afraid that honorable members opposite are only playing with the subject, and have no wish to offend their friends the Beef Trust. I do not wish to say anything unparliamentary, but do we not know as a fact that a cheque for £2,000 was sent by the Beef Trust to assist the Liberal party at the last general election ?
-Order! The honorable member must withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it; but the Minister knows that it is true.
– I know that it is a pure invention.
– I am not saying that the Minister of Trade and Customs handled the money-
– I have already told the honorable member that he is out of order in making that statement.
– I want to clear up the matter. I should be very sorry to do the Minister of Trade and Customs an injustice. He thought that I was imputing that he had handled this cheque for £2,000.
– Neither I nor any one else handled it.
-The honorable member for Ballarat is now deliberately evading the ruling of the Chair. I remind him that he cannot do so with impunity.
– I wish to show why the motion submitted by the Prime Minister should not be carried. The arrangement of business on the notice-paper rests with the Government, and if they had any constructive ability at all, it should not be necessary for them to seek to alter the order of business. It was arranged that the division on the third reading of the Government Preference Prohibition Bill should take place at 4 o’clock this afternoon, and the Government should have so arranged their business as to render it unnecessary for them to move for the postponement of certain Orders of the Day as soon as that division had been taken. I wish to impress upon the Minister in charge of the Bill affecting the Beef Trust the urgency of dealing with the motion of which he has given notice, and I shall conclude by moving -
That the words “ and 3 “ be left out.
– I second the amendment.
– Whatwill be the effect of it?
– The Prime Minister has moved for the postponement of the Orders of the Day until after the consideration of notices of motion 1, 2, and 3. The third notice of motion, which stands in the name of the Treasurer, and which it is proposed to omit from the motion, is for leave to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to the Savings Bank business of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. In the course of his strident utterance this afternoon the Prime Minister appealed to us to proceed as early as possible with the measure designed to cope with that commercial octopus known as the Beef Trust, and our amendment is designed to assist the Government to push on with it. W e cannot, at this stage, discuss the notice of motion for leave to bring in a Bill relating to the Commonwealth Bank; but I certainly hope that the motion for leave will be rejected. If the Government should obtain leave to introduce the Bill, then, unless the “ gag “ is applied, honorable members will avail themselves of every opportunity to discuss it. We may discuss it on the motion for leave to introduce the Bill, the motion for the second reading, in Committee, and on the motion for the third reading.
– This is “ stone-walling.”
– I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– It is quite true, but I withdraw it.
– The honorable member is only adding insult to injury.
– The honorable member must withdraw the remark, in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– I withdraw it; but I still think that I was right.
-The honorable member must not defy the Chair. I give him another opportunity to withdraw the remark.
– In deference to you, sir, I withdraw it; but I think it all the same.
– The withdrawal must be without qualification. The honorable member knows that.
– Well, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it.
– I hold very strong convictions in regard to this measure, and would do anything possible to secure its withdrawal. I regard it as the result of a deep-seated disapproval of the action of the Governor of the bank in conducting the business as banking business should be conducted; and the real object in the amendment is to secure its removal from the business-paper. I hope that the Treasurer and Attorney-General, who are now in consultation, will deem it wise to withdraw the motion. The immediate object of the amendment is to so arrange the business-paper that tomorrow we may be able to deal with the motion in the name of the Minister of Trade and Customs. No doubt, when the Treasurer asks for leave to introduce the Bill, he will afford us some information as to how far he intends to interfere with the proper carrying on of the Commonwealth Bank, and my opinion is that the measure would result in depriving the bank of a considerable portion of its business.
– The Commonwealth Bank will be given a quid pro quo.
-I do not know that it will.
– The Governor of the bank thinks so.
– From an interview which the Governor of the bank gave to a newspaper, it appears that he has practically repeated the offer made by the Leader of the Opposition, when Prime Minister, to the State Governments to allow them 75 per cent. of all the banking business.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing that question.
– However, the . motion that stands pre-eminently above all others is that in the name of the Minister of Trade and Customs; and I hope that the business will be so arranged that it may be discussed at once.
.- I have not had an opportunity to say a word on the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill. I cannot see why the Government should desire to postpone this business.
-The honorable member must confine himself to the amendment.
– In my opinion, it is absolutely necessary that the Commonwealth Bank should have power to deal with the Savings Bank business.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the powers of the Commonwealth Bank.
– I desire to show why notice of motion No. 3 should not be proceeded with. In my opinion, it is unadvisable to interfere with the Savings Bank business.
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the notices of motion on the paper.
– One reason why the motion relating to the bank should be postponed is that the Treasurer is not yet ready with the Bill, and there are other matters far more urgent. Another reason is that the Bill is introduced at the dictation of certain persons outside this Parliament.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided -
Ayes … … … 28
Noes … … … 26
Majority … … 2
Question - That the Orders of the Day be postponed - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative..
.- I move-
That I have leave to bring in a Bill for an Act to restore the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1909, with respect to voting by post.
I do not propose to debate this matter at the present stage. All the facts are before honorable members. There is scarcely a new thing to be said about it. The subject-matter of the Bill has been discussed over and over again until it is threadbare ; and, as the whole of the evening has been taken up in the discussion of other things, I content myself, at this stage, which is usually a formal one, by moving this motion.
.- The information given by the Prime Minister as to what he proposes to do in this connexion is very meagre. I presume that we may understand from has words and from the actions of Ministers, and from what they have stated elsewhere, that this Bill is on similar lines to that which was submitted last session.
– It is exactly the same Bill.
– And that it has the same intention and the same purpose. It is a Bill founded on evidence that would convince no one, and it is not founded on the policy Ministers originally introduced to the House in the amending Electoral Bill; but, apparently, is drafted and introduced for the obvious purpose of misleading the electorate as to the actual position of the law at the present time. Last session, opportunities were given to the Government to pass a comprehensive Bill which would enable every citizen of the Commonwealth entitled to record a vote to do so with reasonable security, so far as electoral difficulties are concerned, with reasonable protection, and with fuller facilities than have been given under any Act that has yet been passed ; but the Government refused to accept the amendments proposed by another place. We all remember the - Electoral Amending Bill brought down by the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs. It provided that every elector before voting should sign the butt of the ballot-paper, but after criticism, the proposal was dropped with alacrity like a live wire. The statements of Ministers as regards the great loss of electoral power through the abolition of the postal vote have not been borne out by facts. We have proved up to the hilt that under the old system corruption did exist, as it will exist, because it is inseparable from the system.
– There were only two cases proved.
– The cases to which the honorable member refers were very bad cases.
– But still there were only two.
– If the honorable member will turn to the experience of Queensland, and to the evidence given there, not by people holding the views of the Labour party, but by people of the other party, he will see that the postal vote was used in such a way as to absolutely violate the secrecy of the ballot, and place many sick persons and a large number of poor people absolutely in the grip of the financial interests they were dependent on.
– If that is true, why were there not more prosecutions?
– For the obvious reason that there is no greater difficulty than instituting prosecutions in circumstances such as this. The employer or his agent may visit the wife of an employé and suggest that she should vote by post.
– Suggest it! They do it.
– I am putting it very mildly when I say “ suggest.”
– They threaten to sack the husband if she does not vote by post.
– I think there were 800 cases in Charters Towers.
– There were 2,700 postal votes in one small electorate.
– On a roll of 10,000 there were 2,700 votes collected and mostly by the agent of one political party.
– Then, again, I ask why, if those were the facts, there were not more prosecutions?
– I have just explained that the postal-voting system to which I have referred, places in the hands of employers, particularly companies, a power that subverts the very principle of the secrecy of the ballot. I have always been strongly in favour of the principle of the postal vote, because of the right that isgiven to a person to vote; but its abuses were such that it had to be set aside. As the honorable member for Barrier pointed out, there is another reason why the postal vote in itself is defective. I presume I am correct when I say that often elections are won or lost on what takes place within the last few days prior to the day of polling. The postal vote has this defect, that it must be recorded some time prior to the actual election day. If it is recorded a week prior to election day, between the time- the postal vote is given and the day on which tha election takes place, something may be said or done by a Government or by a party which would actually change the vote of half the people who had voted by post. Therefore, the postal vote is unsound in principle also.
– Will you be followed by other speakers when you finish?
– Oh, yes! I have not much more to say, but the introduction of this Bill will be discussed. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook.) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I am sorry to detain honorable members and the officials of the House at such a late hour, but private members have no chance of introducing any matters to the House except on the motion for adjournment. My object in rising is to ask if it is not possible for some arrangement to be made by the Defence Department in regard to certain cadets, who are quite willing to perform their military duties, but who are compelled, by reason of the trade or profession they follow, to absent themselves from parades at certain times. Many such cases -have been brought under my notice, but I wish to draw the attention of the House to one case which seems to me to be particularly hard. A young fellow writes to me -
I wish to draw your attention to the in convenience I am put to by attending compulsory training. I attend the Working Men’s College four nights a week for carpentry and stair building. I have to attend drill the first Thursday in each month. Thursday night is a lecture night at the college, and by going to drill I miss the lecture, which I cannot pick up on any other night. I am in the Naval Reserve. Last year I had to put in seventeen days’ continuous drill in June. By attending that drill I missed the half-yearly examination. This year I drilled in April. My employer at work had an important piece of roofing work to do at the time, and he wrote to the District Naval Officer to postpone my drill until a later date in order thatI should not miss it. He explained it was a difficult piece of work, and it would be an opportunity I should, perhaps, not get again while serving my apprenticeship. He received an answer from the District Naval Officer stating that it was not convenient to alter the drill, so I missed the chance of learning something. Ihave heard that we. will drill again in November. If so, I will be away from the final examination at the college, and so lose my chance of obtaining a diploma. I think consideration should be shown in cases such as these.
Trusting you will use your influence in my direction, &c.,
It is very evident that cases of this sort will discredit the system of compulsory training more than anything else. On the introduction of the Defence Bill, nearly four years ago, I pointed out that these cases would occur, and I said that the Department should make arrangements to meet them. The Department has not done so. I ask any honorable member in this chamber whether itis fair to cast on the defence system the blame and responsibility for retarding a young man in his trade or profession when he is young? I hope the Department will issue an order of somecharacter, so that cases of this sort may be dealt with, and the interests of the cadet considered as well as the interests of the system. If not, through these cases continually coming before us, a system which most of us are in favour of will be discredited. I trust that the Prime Minister will endeavour to make arrangements so that the officers will see. that these young fellows have an opportunity of attending their classes and obtaining their diplomas.
– I will bring the honorable member s remarks to the notice, of my colleague, the Minister of Defence. I quite agree that every possible facility should be given to these young men, and what the honorable member has said shall have the fullest consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140528_reps_5_74/>.