5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he will takeinto his immediate consideration the abolition of solitary confine-; ment as a punishment for defaulting cadets? I should like to be able to make a speech on the subject, but I am afraid that I cannot do so at this stage.
– I promise the honorable member that I shall have a good look into this matter. I do not like solitary confinement for boys, but just what to do in this matter I do not know.
– Will the Minister of Trade and Customs inform the House whether there has been further correspondence between this Government and that of Queensland in regard to the control of lighthouses, and, if so, what decision has been come to?
– There has been no correspondence since that to which I have already referred.
– There was some difference of opinion.
– Therehas been no further official correspondence, and no claim of the kind spoken of by the honorable member on a former occasion has been made.
– Will any sum be placed on the next Estimates to give effect to the recommendations of Commander Brewis with respect to the lighting of the North Queensland coast?
– The material has been obtained, and the men engaged, for the erection of seven or eight lighthouses on the inner Barrier Reef, on the North Queensland coast. The Director of Lighthouses is submitting details in connexion with additional lights for different parts of Australia.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence ascertain when the works at the Naval SubBase at Port Lincoln are likely to be commenced?
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information from my colleague.
– What is being done in connexion with the naval subbases recommended by Admiral Henderson, especially at the important point known as Beauty Point, on the River Tamar?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of my colleague the Minister of Defence.
– Will the Prime Minister give time for the taking of a division, without debate, on the initiative and referendum motion standing on the business-paper in the name of the honorable member for Gippsland?
– There is in this chamber the most curious political perspective that I ever recollect. My honorable friends opposite every day ask me for favours, yet they will not even give us Supply.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence cause inquiries to be made concerning facts which are causing a good deal of indignation in some of the country districts? Cadets living in Gordon and Egerton, in the Ballarat division, are required to walk 14 miles to fire five shots, when there is no need for them to walk a mile. Will the Minister see if that can be prevented?
– I shall ask my colleague to institute an inquiry to get at the facts, with a view to the prevention of unnecessary travelling.
– Will the Minister also ask whether an arrangement has yet been made with the State Governments for providing railway travelling facilities for cadets who have to attend drills at places miles from their homes?
– If my honorable friend will put his question on the notice-paper, I shall obtain a reply.
R.- I ask the Honorary Minister what is the use of putting questions on the notice-paper? I have had a question there for over a week. It has been on the notice-paper four times, and the Government have asked that it be postponed each time.
– It will be obvious, even to my honorable friend, that it occasionally takes some time to obtain information, and the difficulties of inquiry are accentuated at a period such as this that we are now passing through.
Inspection of Revised Rolls - Objections : Postal Regulation - Electors’ Rights - Electoral Act - Insufficiently Addressed Claim Cards - Duplicate Voting : Prosecutions - Printing of Rolls.
Y. - Subject to Supply, will the Prime Minister assure the House that the completed rolls will be displayed in the post-offices of Australia for a month, so that every one may see whether he has been enrolled, and will the honorable gentleman also promise that no regulation will be passed which will interfere with the absent voters?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- To display the rolls for a month after their completion would mean that the honorable member would have to do with about three weeks’ less pay, and he is keen about getting his money, I know. My trouble is that I cannot suit him both ways. I understand that under our present arrangement, and with the present outlook, the completed rolls will be displayed for about sixteen days, and all names not appearing on them will have to be enrolled on the supplementary rolls, which are bound to be large. We cannot help that. The circumstances are abnormal, and we have to administer the Act as we find it.
– Will the supplementary list include those who have registered during the sixteen days?
Mr. POYNTON. - In the absence of the Postmaster-General, I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to a matter which I think has serious import in connexion with the coming elections, and, with your permission, sir, I should like to preface my question with a few words. I have recently received from a postmaster a notice that in future all letters addressed to my last place of residence will be forwarded to the dead letter office. The Prime Minister must see that a regulation of that kind will have a most important bearing on men who get a twenty days’ notice to show reasons why their names should not be struck off the roll. I am told that in Adelaide a new regulation has been issued which instructs postmasters that, in the case of persons who have removed to a new locality, all letters addressed to the former residence must be sent to the dead letter office. Will the Prime Minister make inquiries into this matter?
– I do not quite realize all thebearings of the question which the honorable member has asked. I advise him to put the question on the notice-paper, and I shall have the matter fully inquired into during the day. I am coming more and more to the conclusion that one of the best ways of getting a proper roll, of stopping duplication, is to put the penal clauses of the Act into operation. ‘
– Why have you not done so?
K.- Because they have never been applied.
– Yes, they have been in some instances.
y. - In New South Wales
Borne persons have been prosecuted lately.
– Yes, and I suppose that for every hundred irregu larities one person gets fined; and, what is more, if we were to put the Act strictly in force, my honorable friends would have the greatest outcry about their ears.
– Ifyou maintain in is right, why not do it?
K.- My impression is, if the honorable member desires my opinion, that we want a new Act very badly.
Mr. PIGOTT.- I ask the Prime Minister whether, in his consultation last night with the Leader of the Opposition, he discussed the advisability of introducing electors’ rights for the forthcoming election?
– No. We did not discuss the general provisions of an Electoral Bill. The only thing we were considering was how best to wind up this Parliament, so that one side or the other can get an authority from the electors to get a new Electoral Act. We will never do any good with the Act in its present form.
Mr. FISHER.- In view of the following statement, made by the permanent head of the Electoral Branch of the Home Affairs Department before a Select Committee on electoral matters in 1913 -
The rolls used at the elections were undoubtedly the most effective that have existed since the establishment of the Commonwealth, and unquestionably the electors as a body were more nearly enrolled for the electorates in which they lived at the time of the closing of the rolls than on any previous occasion.
The poll taken on the 31st May, 1913, was the heaviest poll ever taken in Australia. Official inquiries do not disclose that any organized system of improper voting was resorted to; if any cases of improper voting did occur, they were apparently isolated cases, and had no effect on the result of any return - on what grounds does the Prime Minister now allege, with the view of influencing the electors of the country, that the present Electoral Act is most unsuitable, and that we should have a new one?
– On all the grounds that have been stated from time to time in this House.
– This is the opinion of the official head of the Department.
K.- On the ground of ineffective machinery : on the ground of the impossibility of cleaning, the rolls, on the ground that we cannot get a clean roll under the present Act and regulations
– You have made it dirty, because it was all right then.
K.- The right honorable member knows that it was not all right then.
– The permanent head says it was.
K. - He does not say anything of the kind ; he says nothing like it.
Mr. SPEAKER. - Order !
– He says that there was a heavy poll, and that there were more persons enrolled than were enrolled previously. That is what he says.
Mr. SPEAKER. - Order ! Will honorable members cease interjecting?
– May I again direct the attention of the right honorable member to the many suggestions for improvement which have emanated from that officer himself? May I direct his attention to the last conference of Mr. Oldham with his State officers on this very matter, and the strong representations there made to get a different set of regulations altogether to deal with the absent voting. I invite the right honorable member to get to the mind of the Chief Electoral Officer, and, if he does, both he and his confreres will agree to some very substantial alterations being made, even before the next vote is taken. All that I want to say is that when these statements are made they are not the officers’ statements, but the right honorable member’s. That is the trouble with the latter. He never quotes a correct statement, and sticks to it. He quotes a statement, and then says something quite different as a deduction.
– Do you say that this statement is wrong?
y. - The statement is quoted all right, but the argument is the other way round.
– I have never quoted a wrong statement in my life, or a misleading one.
R.-Order ! These conversations across the floor are disorderly.
– You put a misleading view.
R.- Order ! The Prime Minister is in possession of the floor.
– I see that the steam is rising, and I am not on for quarrelling.
– In the absence of the Postmaster-General, I ask the Prime Minister to see that electoral claim cards which are insufficiently addressed, and are thereby sent to the dead-letter office, are opened immediately, without being kept at that office for the prescribed length of time?
– Will he see that they are all properly witnessed?
R.- If the honorable member wants to ask a question, let him get up and inquire about the Public Works Committee.
– Order ! I am sorry that I have daily to make appeals to honorable members, which should be quite unnecessary, to allow the business of the House to be conducted in accordance with the Standing Orders, and with decency and decorum. I must ask honorable members to cease this practice which has been growing up of indulging in a chorus of cross-firing across the chamber, and unnecessary interjections. Honorable members should support the Chair in preserving order, and allow every honorable member to ask a question, and the Minister to answer it, without attempts on. the part of other honorable members to get in other questions at the same time on the one side, or to endeavour simultaneously to answer the same question on the other. Questions may not be asked by any member while seated, and this applies also to answers,
– Will the Prime Minister see that insufficiently addressed claim cards to Electoral Registrars, which are obviously on electoral matters, are opened and taken to the Electoral Registrars, instead of being forwarded to the deadletter office?
– The honorable member asks me a very serious question, namely, whether we are prepared to differentiate the regulations relating to insufficiently addressed letters connected with electoral matters. I must make inquiries before answering, and I suggest that the honorable member place the question on the notice-paper.
Mr. P. P. ABBOTT.- It is reported that there will be difficulty in New South Wales in printing the electoral rolls for the coming elections, and I ask the Government to take into consideration the advisability of having the printing done in the different sub-divisions instead of in Sydney.
– This is a matter that requires, and has, the greatest possible care. There is long experience that dictates and guides us in this connexion; and I hope the honorable member will believe that, in the circumstances, the very best is being done.
Mr. KENDELL. - Is it not a fact that for many years it has been the custom, when a person leaves one district for another, to acquaint the local postmaster with the change of address, so that his correspondence may not go to the deadletter office ? I see no reason to alter that arrangement.
– I shall bring all these matters under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
Mr. J. H. CATTS.- After the last election allegations were made by members of the Government as to the duplicate voting, and an inquiry was then made. In my own electorate there were forty-six names given as duplicated, most of them of well-known Liberals, and I should like to know if anything has been done in the way of taking action against those who voted more than once.
– I have to say again that under the Act, for which the honorable member himself is responsible, the Chief Electoral Officer has control of these matters.
– That is too thin! Is it not the business of the Minister to see that the Chief Electoral Officer carries out the law?
K.- It is the function of the Chief Electoral Officer to institute proceedings, and take all steps to prevent irregularities; the Minister does not institute proceedings. Under the law, which the honorable member assisted in passing, the matter is placed in the hands of Mr. Oldham; and it is of no use honorable members opposite blaming this Government for their owndereliction of duty.
L.- Is the Minister of Trade and Customs prepared to make a statement to the House as to the intentions of the Government regarding the Navigation Act? Is it the intention of the Government to proclaim the Act be fore Parliament is dissolved, and will he now let us know exactly how the matter stands 1
Mr. GROOM. - I have previously stated that as soon as the staff is appointed, the regulations framed, and everything ready, the Act will be proclaimed.
– When will the staff be appointed ?
M. - The applications for Director are being considered at the present time.
Mr. King Salter’s Report.
S.- Will the Prime Minister lay on the table of the House the report of Mr. King Salter, the manager of Cockatoo Island Dock?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- I shall see in what position this matter is. I have not seen the report.
– It has been published in the newspapers.
K.- I know that.
– It had no right to be published before being presented here.
K.- I quite agree that the report had no right to be published until it had been presented to this House; but what can be done? I should like to tell the House that I find documents published in the newspapers before the Minister has even seen them.
– That is a serious reflection on the officers.
K.- It is a serious reflection on the officers.
– Are such reports of a highly confidential character ?
K. - Take the report mentioned by the honorable member for Franklin.
– That is a very serious report.
K. - I regret to have to tell the House that I believe that the Minister had not seen that report when it found its way into the newspapers.
– There ought to be a thorough investigation.
K.- The same thing is going on in regard to other matters.
– It is dishonorable in the first degree !
e. - It is disloyalty of the worst type!
– It is the truth, and that is all I am concerned in telling the House at the present moment. 1 can see nothing to be gained by covering up this kind of thing. I am not quite sure even yet whether this report is in a condition to be presented finally, but, if it is, honorable members shall have it at the earliest moment.
– I have heard hints of what the Prime Minister has told us, and I ask the honorable gentleman to take from me the assurance that I shall gladly co-operate with him and others in making a thorough investigation, so that the scoundrel who has done this thing shall have his just reward.
Mr. WEBSTER. - When an inquiry is ordered by this House and is made, and a report is presented to the House, does the Prime Minister say that the obligation rests with the officer of the Department or with the head of the Government, who instituted the inquiry, to take action with regard to malfeasance under the electoral law?
Mr. SPEAKER.- That question has already been asked and answered.
– It is a purely hypothetical question, and if the honorable member will make it concrete, I shall be glad to answer it.
T. - I should like to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister the condition of the Electoral Office, East Sydney, which at the present time has no furniture or telephone connexion.
Mr. SPEAKER. - The honorable member is entitled to ask a question, but not to give information.
– Will the Prime Minister take such steps as are necessary to provide the electoral officer in East Sydney with furniture and other means for conducting the business?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- How does my honorable friend know all about the inside of these offices?
– I was there on Monday last.
K.- Then the honorable member has been making investigations ?
– I have.
K. - Does not the honorable member think that he had better leave these officers alone ? The honorable member is apparently getting at them already. I have not been inside one of these offices to see what sort of furniture they have and what their arrangements are. I invite the honorable member to tell the House what business he had inside that office.
T. - I desire to make a personal explanation in view ofthe reflection made upon me by the Prime Minister, with regard to my appearance at the new electoral office in my constituency. When I found out that a person had been appointed to occupy the position of Divisional Returning Officer, I naturally sought to find him and see who he was. I thought it was my duty to do so. I found that he had taken an office in a portion of the city, totally removed from the great body of the electors of East Sydney, and I endeavoured to interview him to see if he could have his office moved to the nearest possible spot to suit the electors. I likewise found that he had no conveniences to conduct the business of the office. He told me that he had borrowed a table and a chair, and I said that that state of things ought not to continue. I also found that he had no telephone communication. I thought it my business to make this statement here, so that these officers might be given proper facilities to carry out their duties. I also found that this officer hardly knew a street in the electorate, and I likewise told him that I would give him the names of persons who would be of great assistance to him in his present position.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. - As a personal explanation, let me assure the honorable member that I acquit him of any wrongdoing. I did not mean to reflect on him. All I have to say is that his explanation has made my caution to him not much the less necessary.
M.- Is there any truth in the report published this morning that the reduction of the import duty on sugar from £6 to £5 has been mooted in connexion with the consideration of the Ministerial policy?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- Absolutely none.
N.- Is it true that the Government have declined to allow a Select Committee appointed by another place to investigate the papers in connexion with the Teesdale Smith contract?
Mr. KELLY. - When I arrived back in Melbourne on Tuesday, from Sydney, I was rung up after lunch by the EngineerinChief for Commonwealth Railways and informed that the clerk in the railway office had been summoned to appear before the Committee and produce papers, and he asked what should be done. I said the clerk should, of course, attend the summons and answer any questions put to him, and that so far as the production of papers was concerned he ought to inform the Committee that the Minister in charge of the Department was responsible for the safe custody of papers, and, therefore, ought to be approached for any papers that the Committee wanted. So far no request has been made to me for the production of any papers whatever.
R.- Has the regulation issued by the previous Government, prohibiting land-owners and others interested in land from taking part in the conduct of elections, been rescinded ?
Mr. KELLY. - There was no such regulation. It was a Ministerial instruction to all the officers of the Department.
– It referred to station-owners.
Y.- I understand that it applied to all owners of land. I have forgotten the exact terms; but if the honorable member will put a question on the business-paper on the subject I shall secure the information.
.- I desire, as a personal explanation, to correct a report that appeared in the Argus this morning relative to the conference that took place between the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General and the honorable member for West Sydney and myself yesterday. The report is not only garbled, butwords are put in in inverted commas that were never uttered, and that are not true in fact. The words I complain of most are -
When the leader (Mr. Fisher) was asked if any decision had been come to, he stated that there was nothing to be said about the meeting. “ All that happened,” said Mr. Fisher, “ was that the Prime Minister and I came to an arrangement on acertain matter, but just before we met at dinner-time he varied what he had said. We met again to-night, so that the Opposition might hear what we had done afterwards.”
As that statement has been made, the Prime Minister will permit me to say that we met prior to the dinner hour, and came to certain conclusions. Subsequently, near the time of the rising of the House, the Prime Minister asked to see me, and made a statement varying one of the understandings that we had arrived at. We held our meeting subsequent to that, after the House rose.
– What the Leader of the Opposition says is quite correct, but I understand that there were more variations than the little one I suggested. For instance, I believe that some variations took place in another place.
r. - What, in the Senate?
– No, in the party room.
– What were they?
K.- I can only say that the right honorable gentleman last night was very insistent as to some textual matters being supplied to the House.
– But we agreed on that point. The statement I made was that we must have that.
K.- No; but I do not think it is fair to be talking of this matter in the House. No communication to the press, so far as I know, emanated from me. Our press just now seems to be preternaturally active, and sometimes, I think, rather at our expense.
Evidence at Ballarat.
H.- Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to the evidence given at Ballarat, by a Liberal organizer named Brazenor, who said he had lodged objections against 4,200 names? As it is known that only 500 of these objections were valid, will the
Prime Minister initiate a prosecution against this man for trying to keep off the roll the names of 3,700 people who are entitled to vote?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. - Does the honorable member want a man to be prosecuted for trying to purge the rolls? The honorable member is wanting me to go right in the teeth of his own Act. I decline to do it.
H.- Has the Prime Minister’s attention been directed to the evidence given before the Electoral Commission at Ballarat, where so much personalion and corruption were alleged to have taken place at the last general elections? If so, has he observed that evidence was given that the Liberals had been unable to bring forward onespecific case of personation or corruption. In the circumstances, does he not think that the Liberal party in this House who fathered charges of the kind should apologize to the electors of Ballarat?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- Is it necessary for the honorable member to put that question ?
Mr. SPEAKER. - I was about to say that it is not in order.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- Is not the honorable member for Ballarat aware that one of his own colleagues said emphatically in this House the other day that even if he knew that people were doing wrong he would not report them?
TTS. - In view of the statement made by the Prime Minister regarding the Electoral Act generally, I desire to ask him whether it is not a fact that every Federal Government has introduced and passed an amending Electoral Bill, thereby complaining in effect of the electoral legislation of its predecessors.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK. - Electoral Acts are being poured out in all parts of the world. In fact, they are as thick as autumn leaves in Vallombrosa, A perfect Electoral Act has not yet been conceived, and I despair of ever seeing an Electoral Act that fraudulent people cannot use for fraudulent purposes. I am afraid the trouble lies not so much with the Acts as with the individual - the ego that sends all our schemes agley. In my opinion, and I have had a very long experience–
– The honorable member took part in the framing of all the amending Acts passed by this Parliament.
K. - Yes ; but we did not control the framing of them. It seems to me that a guiding principle of any sound electoral system should be the provision of some kind or other of elector’s right. I am afraid that we shall have to go back in that direction before we are able to get rid of all this trouble.
TTS.- I desire to ask the Prime Minister-
– Does not the honorable member think that he has asked enough questions this morning? Look at the clock.
TTS. - I ask the Prime Minister if it is not a fact that the present Government introduced in this House last September a Bill providing for a complete amendment of the electoral law, and that that Bill made no provision for an elector’s right ? Why was not such a provision incorporated in his own proposed amendment of the law?
Mr. SPEAKER.- Order!
R.- I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence to give the House some idea of the cost of distinctive regimental adornments which have been asked for by various regiments, and also the cost of national uniforms for which requests have also been made?
Mr. KELLY. - I shall endeavour to procure from my honorable colleague the Minister of Defence the information for which the honorable member asks.
ey) asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- On behalf of my colleague, I desire to say that the answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The following paper was presented -
Lands Acquisition Act and Northern Territory Lands Acquisition Ordinance - Land required at Darwin, Northern Territory, for Public Workshops.
Dissolution - Mr. W. H. Irvine and the Marconi Company - Capital and Labour - Labour Legi slation - State of Finances - Government and Opposition Policies -Proposed Expenditure upon “ Contingencies “ and “Miscellaneous” - Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway - Naval Loan Bill - Electoral Rolls - Protection : Inter-State Commission - Defence System : Compulsory Training : Punishment of Cadet : Solitary Confinement - Old-age . Pensions - Maternity Allowance - Beef Trust - Preference to Unionists - Initiative and Referendum.
Debate resumed from 10th June, 1914 (vide page 1988), on motion by Sir John Forrest -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair.
.- I have no desire to disturb the serene and almost angelic calm that seems to have settled upon honorable members opposite during the last few days, and I sincerely trust that anything I may say will not introduce amongst them the appie of discord. I am at a loss to know why the Government should balk when they are asked to supply the House with definite information as to the grounds on which they asked the Governor-General for a double dissolution. The public have a right to know on what basis they preferred their request.
k. - Did the right hon orable member for Wide Bay publish a memorandum when he asked for a dissolution?
– The honorable member has always been characterized by a desire to adopt an ideal way of doing things, and to go straight when he can. I ask him, therefore, not to fall back upon musty precedents, but to build up a new and noble edifice. We are asking for something which the Government apparently are not inclined to give, but which it is incumbent should be supplied, having regard to the crisis which now confronts us. It is a crisis which, in its form, is entirely new to Constitutionalism, and the Government, in the interests of those who will have to follow them, should supply to the House and the country a detailed statement of the arguments which were submittted to the Governor-General in support of their request for a double dissolution. To do anything less would be to ‘play with the people. I have been greatly surprised at the action of the Attorney-General, who, I know, cannot communicate direct with the Governor-General. The Prime Minister may do so, and we have a right to ask honorable members, irrespective of what the Attorney-General may say, what arguments he submitted to the GovernorGeneral as the basis of his request for a double dissolution. If the Government have nothing to hide in this matter why this obstinacy on their part? If the arguments submittedto the GovernorGeneral are sound, and such as the Government have no need to be ashamed of, on what ground do they object to submit them to the country ? The people have a right to know something more than was contained in the brief statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday.
– There is no more for them to know that I am aware of.
R. - Does the honorable gentleman mean to tell me that, without any other facts before him as to what constituted a dead-lock in the opinion of the Government, the Governor-General would grant a double dissolution? Surely the honorable gentleman will not expect the people to believe that the mere introduction of two Bills is considered sufficient to establish a condition of deadlock ?
– I have already told the honorable member that I informed the Governor-General that the Houses were unworkable.
R. - -That has not been proved, and in any case there is no reference to such a condition in the Constitution. Accepting the Prime Minister’s statement, I ask whether it is a fact that this House is unworkable.
– My word, it is unworkable.
R. - I say, without hesitation, that that is stretching the position.
– I know the honorable member does, but that does nob alter the fact.
R.-~When the Government introduced legislation calculated to be beneficial to the people it was adopted in some cases without alteration, and if in other cases with material alteration that was because any Opposition worthy of the name must seek to imprint upon the laws the views they hold.
– Honorable members opposite opposed the motion for leave to introduce the Government Preference Prohibition Bill.
R. - Of course we opposed the motion for leave to introduce a shadow, a pretence, and a sl-am
Mr. SPEAKER.- Order ! The honorable member is not in order in using those words.
– I shall say that we opposed leave to introduce what has been called a sham. But that did not constitute a dead-lock. Do the Government intend to give honorable members the information which is in their possession? It is of no use for the Prime Minister to say that he has told us all that there is to be told, because we know that the Attorney y- General was told off to formulate a memorandum. What was the purpose of that memorandum ? It was not to enable the Prime Minister to hold a conversational interview with the Governor-General.
– Messrs. Irvine, Glynn, and Groom prepared the memorandum
R.- I am told that three lawyers in the Government were concerned in the preparation of the memorandum, which is the essential document in this matter. What has been said by the Prime Minister does not touch the kernel of the question, and therefore we have a right to know what is contained in that memorandum. If there is nothing in it of which the Government have a right to be ashamed, why do they not pro duce it ? They may be afraid that if the public knew what it contained they would learn the grounds on which, in the opinion of the Government, the dead-lock was built up, and would be able to judge the true position. The people, who will be called upon to pay the £80,000 involved in carrying out a fresh election, have a right to know what is in the memorandum.
– Honorable members opposite spent the money once when there was no necessity.
R.- I need not answer that, because I have often heard the Treasurer say that two wrongs do not make a right. No position that previously existed is analogous to that which we are facing to-day. The question is one which affects the stability, not only of this House, but of both Houses of this Parliament and the whole political position in this country. The course followed: represents ‘a new departure for which there is no precedent, and may involve the unmaking of all the laws passed by this Parliament, and a retreat on the path of political progress. In all the circumstances, the Government can have no justification for refusing to submit to the House and the country the reasons they offered in support of their request for a double dissolution. It is highly amusing to listen to the honorable member for Werriwa. Whenever he rises to speak, he tries to place himself on a pedestal that no other man in the world could ever climb. It has amused me many a time to hear the honorable member, with all his legal training, all his subtlety of mind, and all his cross-grained views with regard to every matter, speak of members on this side of the House as though they were not born of the same kind as himself. According to the honorable member, no one on this side could possibly be possessed of any brains whatever. The honorable member never once misses an opportunity of raising himself to an altitude so that everybody may see, a3 he believes, a wise man, but actually a man hoist by his own folly, and he is always endeavouring, by diminishing the importance of members on this side, to establish his own superiority.
– How often has he fallen off the pedestal?
R.- I did not say that he ever reached the top, but he tries to do so. Usually lie flounders before he reaches the top and falls to the foot, a hopeless mass, humiliated by what he has done. Sometimes I have had the idea when listening to the honorable member that he should not be in a House of Parliament, but in a bigger house containing more rooms, and if he really wants to be at home, he will look to some other institution than Parliament where he may get an audience who will understand him. It is impossible for anybody in this Chamber to understand him.
– Do you refer to rooms with padded walls?
R.- -I am not allowed to do lots of things in this House, and, as the honorable member knows, I have to be extremely cautious. But when I listen to the honorable member for Werriwa I cannot help remembering that, with all his high legal training, his attainments in the Law Courts which make the mighty turn green, with envy, with all his forensic capacity, his startling knowledge, and paralyzing arguments, he has never left one record in the Law Courts, for which he studied, that can be found by any searcher through the reports. In listening to an argument, we have to judge its worth by the source from, which it conies, and when we, in listening to the honorable member for Werriwa speaking on great constitutional questions, realize that the source from which that argument comes is irresponsible, and that the argument itself comes without any control and merely rushes out like water down a hill, I may be excused when I pass by the honorable member for Werriwa and say, “ Get you hence, for this place has no use for you.” The Attorney-General condescended last night to give the House a few words of explanation of his interpretation of the Constitution, and, in doing so, he also attempted to humiliate the gentleman who was his predecessor in office. All I can say is that, for subtlety of mind, for resources that are rarely resorted to by ordinary nien, and for that twisting and contortion which is ever the qualification of a legal man, I know of no equal of the Attorney-General in Australia. If the Attorney-General, instead of resorting to those practices, were to apply his mind to the unravelling of the mysteries of the
Marconi case, a duty he owes to this country, and for which the country is paying him handsomely, and which, in his oath of office, he bound himself to perform ; if, instead of trying to mislead persons in high places, that gentleman would try to lead the legal mind in the way it should go in connexion with a case which may cost this country hundreds of thousands of pounds, the honorable gentleman would be doing much better. The honorable member talks about honour, application to duty, and the obligations of Ministers and members, and yet he is the man who shirks the highest responsibility which is placed upon the Attorney-General, the obligation of giving the best that is in him to defend the Commonwealth in the Law Courts from any attack upon the assets of the Crown.
– He takes the retainer.
R.- Certainly he does; he is the servant of two employers at the one time. He is trying to do what the Bible tells us cannot be done1 - to serve two masters. On the one hand he holds himself in reserve for the Marconi company, and, on the other hand, he is trying to make an imitation of serving the Commonwealth as Attorney-General. Any man holding his high” position who would do a thing of that kind should be judged in all other matters by such an action.
– Oh, get into the pulpit
R.- Let the honorable member get away to his two blades of grass. All that the honorable member has done since he has been in the House has been to make a kind of ejaculation, or to propound some idea, with which he hoped the Government would help him through, whereby he would make this land flourish with grasses such as never grew before. He comes into this chamber only to interject. If that is how he realizes his obligations as a Parliamentarian, I hope the electors will appreciate his worth to them. What are we to think when we find the AttorneyGeneral in such a position as I have described ; when we find a gentleman holding such an office running away from his obligations to Parliament, and relegating his duty to another? Yet he is the man who has been mapping out the destinies of the Commonwealth during the last four or five weeks. Aor then I hear the honorable member for Flinders talking about spoils to the victors. He said, “ We recommended the Governor-General to do what he has done, because we were determined, and we had promised the people that we would abolish this outrageous system of spoils to the victors.” What a mockery ! What a piece of hypocrisy for the honorable gentleman to come here and declare that he and his colleagues desired to remove from the Commonwealth the stigma attaching to such a doctrine! Did he come here and remove that stigma ? No. Why? Because it had already been removed. Within a month or six weeks from the present Government assuming office they had removed every vestige of preference to unionists in Government employment. By regulation they had wiped it out of existence. Yet the AttorneyGeneral has the audacity to stand up and say that this was the great question upon which the Government had advised the Governor-General to cast this country into the throes of a double dissolution. I say without any hesitation that he occupies much the same position as does the man who works the confidence trick upon the public in regard to some great stable secret which is not worth anything. He has held this Parliament up to ridicule before the world. The day will come when the students of Constitutionalism will look back on this page of our history with the same feelings as we now look back on that page in Victorian history when the Honorable W. H. Irvine put a blight upon this State for several years. In the course of a year or two he inflicted more injury upon the people of Victoria than has ever been inflicted upon any country by any one man since the days of the Inquisition. This is the individual upon whom the electors of Australia have to rely as to what is best for them. He is the man who deprived the railway employes of this State of their franchise, and, in that action, showed what he would do if he were only clothed with the necessary power.
– We have heard this a dozen times.
R. - It will require to be repeated fifty times before the honorable member can comprehend it. I say that, the present Attorney-General did more to disgrace and humiliate the people of Vic toria in a short space of time than any other man has done in the history of this country. He robbed the railway men of their franchise, and of their representation under the old law; he decreased the old-age pensions, and made the sons and daughters of the aged and indigent go into Court and expose their poverty, to the shame and degradation of the law of which he was the author.
– Is it not a fact that he tried to interfere with this Parliament by preventing honorable members from getting their mails?
R. - I do not know. If the honorable member knows anything about that, he should put the “ acid “ on the Attorney-General while he has the chance. We shall require it all during the next few months. There is no man who will understand that he has lived more than will the Attorney-General when the approaching campaign has been completed.
– Do not overdo it.
R.- I am coming to the Treasurer. There are a lot of persons in this House, and outside of it, who have given more credit to the Machiavellian politician to whom I have been referring than is due to him. It has been stated again and again that certain matters were evolved in the subtle mind of the AttorneyGeneral. But it is not so. The source of the Attorney-General’s inspiration to hamstring this Parliament was evidently the Treasurer. He was an illustrious member of that great Convention which met for the purpose of framing a Constitution for the Commonwealth. Looking into the future, the delegates to that famous gathering imagined that in the Senate there would be no room for any Labour man. They fondly believed that as senators would be returned by each State as one electorate, no Labour representative would ever gain admission to the other Chamber. But the present Treasurer, doubtless looking forward to the period when he would be Prime Minister of the Commonwealth - and I confess that I would not be sorry if he realized his ambition when I compare him with some occupants of that distinguished office - foresaw that some day the rights of the Senate might be threatened upon some nominal measure, and that, in such circumstances, there was a danger that it would be subordinated to the decree of an unscrupulous Government, which might utilize the existing machinery for the destruction of Parliament in a way that was never intended.
– At that time I advised the Convention not to load the gun, but the delegates would load it.
R. - I give the Treasurer credit for seeing the gun and endeavouring to keep the cartridge out of it. But, although he told the delegates to the Convention not to load the gun, he is the man who is pulling the trigger of it to-day.
– They loaded it.
R.- And the Treasurer has put his finger to the trigger to destroy the constitutional rights and powers of the Senate, which, at that time, he was so anxious to preserve. Here is what he said upon that memorable occasion -
If you give the power to dissolve both Houses - the double dissolution as it has been called - allowing the Government of the day to appeal to the constituencies whenever a conflict of opinion occurs-
What has occurred here? Not even a conflict of opinion, but merely an administrative ace that had no place in this Legislature, and which has been made the instrument whereby Ministers can work out the end they aim at in accordance with the dictum of the honorable member -
It may, as time goes on, be used for a very different purpose from that for which it is being advocated at the present time.
How prophetic; how far-seeing! I do not know where the inspiration came from, but it was marvellous in il3 accuracy. It was probable that the AttorneyGeneral got his inspiration from the prophetic words of the honorable member for Swan. The marvellous mind of the Attorney-General did not evolve this double dissolution move. It had already been indicated by the Treasurer fifteen or sixteen years ago. Will the Treasurer tell me that the provision of the Constitution is not being used now for a different purpose? In spite of the written record, will he dare to tell us that it is not being used for an unworthy purpose, and for a purpose to which no man with the appreciation of responsibilities of a politician, or a statesman, would descend? Yet such are party politics that the mighty seer of the past is dragged down to the morass of the Conservatives, and has to keep company with a man who has evidently pirated his ideas, hoping to foist himself on the community as a genius inventing them. Then proceeds the seer from Swan -
I can imagine that a Government which felt itself somewhat weak, or which thought that the occasion was an opportune one for an appeal to the country, might encourage a conflict, rather than try to avoid it, in order that in this way it might be able to recommend a dissolution of both Houses in the hope that that would strengthen their following, or, at any rate, give it more time. “A Government which felt itself somewhat weak ! “ What Government has ever felt itself so weak as the present Government? These words are an indictment of the honorable member’s comrades that carries the brand of truth on the face of it. “Might encourage a conflict, rather than try to avoid it ! “ What have Ministers done? Have they tried to avoid a conflict? No. They have manufactured a conflict. Did they bring down to the House non-contentious legislation, or give the Opposition the opportunity to help them pass measures that would be in the general interests of the people? No. They did what the honorable member for Swan said they would do if this provision was inserted in the Constitution - encourage a conflict, rather than try to avoid it. The credit of all this does not belong to the Attorney-General, but to the honorable member for Swan, probably looking through his own glasses at the possible effect of the provision in the future. Ministers thought of “getting more time,” but as the other place cut it short, Ministers have not attained, in this regard, exactly the full measure of the prophecy of the honorable member for Swan. The honorable member went on to say -
Knowing, as wo do, that the Constitution of the United States of America has been used for purposes foreign to the intentions of its framers, you may depend upon it that as time goes on every possible device will be used to gain political influence and power by taking advantage of the form of the Constitution.
In the history of the world there has never been a prophet, not even among those recorded in the grand old Book, who has prophesied so accurately and with such detail. The present action of the Attorney-General, however, seems to be purely a copy of the procedure outlined by the Treasurer in every detail. Certainly the situation has turned out practically as the honorable member for Swan indicated, and I apologize to the honorable member for having given credit to the other man, and I withdraw unreservedly all I have said to the credit of the Attorney-General as to his being the originator of this scheme. To the honorable member for Swan belongs the credit, and to the honorable member also belongs this - that he has fallen from the high ideals that he formerly held to the level of the gentleman who has pirated the whole of his inspirations.
– As you accepted the Constitution with this provision, contrary to my advice, you are now complaining of your own act.
Mr.WEBSTER. - The honorable member having, fifteen years ago, pointed out what this provision would mean, and its monstrous possibilities, surely could not now sit in a Ministry that would endeavour to carry out those possibilities ! My sympathy goes out to the honorable member.While I would put a halo on his head had he stood by his former views, alas, now, I cannot even erect a wooden cross to his memory. That a man such as the Attorney-General should ever enter Parliament is a monstrous thing. That he should be in Parliament, with his evil mind and his evil thoughts, to work disaster on the community is a thing that every man and woman who has thewelfare of the country at heart must regard with shame. Well might he refuse to make known the terms of the memorandum on which the request for the dissolution was based. Well might one pirate another man’s views, repeating them word by word, and accepting the praise and adulation for what he has done, who had received money indirectly for work he had done, not for the people but for the classes of Australia, when he was rewarded in the only way in which I presume such a man could be rewarded, by a dole from the purses of those who appreciated what he had done. If the people are so blind, so unpatriotic, as to indorse his action in this case, we shall see the same gilded patriots coming with their purses and their cheque-books to memorialize again this man who has disgraced his ancestors, and who, when this page of our history is read calmly and in cold blood, will be denounced more than any other has ever been denounced in any country under the dominion of Great Britain. Despite our political differences, I have thought highly of the right honorable member for Swan ever since I entered this Parliament, but my idol has been shattered beyond recognition, because he has accepted the office which he holds and has assisted to bring about the improper conditions which he foretold would be brought about if the section of the Constitutionthat has been referred to were passed as proposed. He is prepared to take advantage of what has been done, not for the welfare of the country, not for the good of the people, but so that he may remain on the Treasury bench. It is humiliating and sorrowful to the last degree that men who have played such great parts in the history of this country should fall victims to the wiles of the legal subtlety of the honorable member for Flinders and to the stratagems of the honorable member for Parramatta. In my judgment this Government has played a confidence trick upon the GovernorGeneral, and Ministers now object to show the cards with which they played, because they know that if they did their game would be discovered. They say, “ We shall not produce the memorandum sent to the Governor-General. We have got the double dissolution, and you have no right to ask how we got it, or why the GovernorGeneral came to his decision. To your masters you must go.” We are treated by the Government as the tyrants of old used to treat the slaves under their power. If one met the Attorney-General, the Prime Minister, and the honorable member for Wentworth with an umbrella and three bits of paper, one would not mistake what they were at. Their tactics imitate the devices of an element that has ever preyed on the people. Yet it is to these men that the destinies of Australia have been left; it is they who are throwing it into the melting-pot for re-casting. They will not tell us how they convinced, or deceived, as the case may be, the GovernorGeneral. They simply say, “ We have the double dissolution. We have the bludgeon. We are determined to use it on every one who has dared to oppose us.” I am not one of those cock-sure gentlemen who think that the sun must always shine on them. I may not come back here, but it will not trouble me if I do not. Work of the kind that lias been done here during the last two months does not appeal to me. I care not for party or for sections, but since I have had the power to think I have held that the one thing worth living for, to which one might bend all his talents and energies, is the uplifting of one’s fellow men and women, and the making of life happier to them by having lived. I came into this Parliament as I went into another Parliament, believing that men of honour, were here, and that the highest attributes that could permeate the character of man would operate iu the proceedings of this Chamber, but I have lived to realize that the whole Parliament is more or less a mockery and a sham.
R. - Order ! The honorable member must not make a reflection on the Parliament.
– I know, sir, that I should not reflect on the Parliament, but you will pardon me, I hope, if, in speaking, not excitedly, but collectedly and judicially, I should use any words which are not parliamentary. I withdraw the reflection I made, because I do not want this speech to be sullied or stained with anything that is not strictly parliamentary. I will say, instead, that I found the Parliament just the reverse of what I expected to find it when my aspirations led this way thirty-four years ago. For that period I have fought in the democratic movement - not as - a hireling of the movement, not as one of the men who have looked for a Government job when they have been out of work, and preyed on the Government, or done anything of that kind, not as one of the men who have always been looking for a paid position when they have been outside of Parliament, but as one of those who believed that a cause which was worth fighting for was worth working for - nay, worthy making some sacrifice for. These years I have put into this movement, not only with the accord of my better-half, but with the sympathy that any true man would value of both my wife and my daughter, who have joined me in travelling in the democratic path of reform, and it is hard to think that I am in a Parliament where the Government, if they get power in both Houses, will upset the whole of what has been done in this country for the last thirty years. They will strike a blow at manhood suffrage by a redistribution of the senatorial electorates if they get the power. They showed us last session what they were prepared to do by their Electoral Bill, when they proposed to undermine the secrecy of the ballot, the most valuable and sacred thing which Democracy possesses. They have shown us what they were prepared to do with a majority of one, and he in the Speaker’s chair. What will they do if they can get an unfettered majority in each House? If that should occur, this Parliament and the country itself will be put back a quarter of a century before the party that may come after us rises to the seriousness of the position, and again realizes its obligation to posterity. Before that party gets a chance to undo what the present Government will do if they come back with a majority in both Houses this generation will have passed away, and another generation will only live to read the records of those who betrayed the country for the sake of a paltry reward, of holding office for its emoluments - not for the honour, because in such instances it cannot be an honour.
– This is not fair, you know.
R.- It cannot be an honour to hold office in circumstances like these.
– They will put us back to 1830.
R.- They will put the country back to the Dark Ages. I would prefer to live with a murderer or other criminal than to dwell in the halls of a place where men -take away the right of the people to make laws, thereby indirectly submitting them to conditions that murder thousands instead of tens, by reason of the injustice of the laws - such as we have seen perpetrated under the aegis of the party opposite. I want to say one more word before I conclude.
– This is not your swan song, I hope?
R. - No ; I am not built on those lines. I am no political larrikin.
– I did not suggest that.
R. - If the honorable member is proud of his Billy Watt, I am not ; he is welcome to him. Mr. Watt is not a specimen who ought to be eulogized by any means, and I do not want to deal with him, because the electors will probably deal with him later. I said just now that the Attorney-General is not entitled to the credit, if there is any credit, attaching to the ideal that lies at the basis of the Government’s effort during the last two or three weeks. I have said that if there is any credit due, it is due to the prophetic insight shown by the honorable member for Swan at the Convention, and that he would be entitled to the credit of it only that he is backing up the effort of the Government. He said to the people of this country, “ The gun is loaded, and if it were put in the Constitution in that way it would one day go off and hurt somebody. I do not want to hurt anybody. I do not want the country to be hurt at all; ‘but I tell you that the gun is loaded, and I want to save the country from the effect of a discharge of the gun.”
– I said it would be so if the clause were put in.
R. - It is in the Constitution, so that it is loaded.
– You put it in.
R.- No ; the right honorable gentleman put it in. He cannot get away from the fact.
– He and his supporters did.
R.- I am not going to say whether the right honorable gentleman did or did not, but I do give him credit for saying that the gun was loaded. The Constitution was submitted to the country, and the manhood alone - there was no womanhood suffrage at that time - ultimately indorsed the Constitution, which was not understood, I might say, by some of its framers. Heaven knows why they expected the ordinary “ man in the street “ to understand what eminent lawyers differed on, and have differed on ever since. However, be that as it may, the provision for a dead-lock is in the Constitution, and the gun is loaded. This is the first time that any one has condescended, or attempted, to use the loaded gun, and among the men who are using the gun to-day is the gentleman who forewarned the people that it was loaded. The honorable member for Swan is helping to pull the trigger, and so destroy the eminence of our Legislature, which was so logically and ably illustrated at that time. It is a page in his history which he cannot erase.
– This is funny.
R.- These specimens from the country districts, where one can hear them before sunrise at the top of a tree, and where they ought to remain, get into the Federal Parliament only to express themselves by stupid ejaculations when an honorable member is dealing with a serious question–
– I was just thinking to myself what a good thing it is that the gun is loaded sometimes.
– I know that the honorable member is not responsible, and I realize that the people did not understand what they were doing when he was elected.
– I will give the honorable member £5 a week if he will come up to my electorate.
R.- I point out to the honorable member for Wannon that it is imperative on him and other honorable members to pay attention to the call of the Chair. I am sorry to say that the honorable member is deliberately ignoring that call; and I hope he will not do so again.
– I shall not pay any more attention to the other side. There is one other person, and only one, who is responsible for the present situation, and the halo should go on his head. That person is the Speaker of this House, and it is he who has made this situation. He has done what has never been done before in the history of politics in any country that I know of. This was not by voting, but by refusing to put to the vote the motion moved from these benches immediately before the division was called. The Speaker refused to put the closure when it was moved, and he thereby shirked his responsibility and violated the Standing Orders. When he saw what the numbers were, he ‘ ‘ sidestepped “ in his duty, and refused to put the closure. Had the Speaker put the closure the Bill would never have gone through. Had he done what he ought to have done-
– The honorable member is not in order in referring to Mr. Speaker in this way.
– I have only another minute, and I ask the Deputy Speaker not to take up my time.
– It is a reflection on Mr. Speaker.
R. - The honorable member for Richmond knows that what I say is true.
– I know it is an absolute untruth.
R. - The honorable member is the only man who would utter such an untruth in justification.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member says that I have spoken an untruth.
R.- The honorable member first accused me of speaking an untruth.
– I said, that what the honorable member had said was absolutely incorrect.
r. - That is not so.
– Well, then, I shall say that what the honorable member said was untrue.
R.- This little trouble has arisen through the honorable member for Gwydir not paying attention to the call of the Chair when he was challenging the action of Mr. Speaker in remarks that were quite uncalled for.
– I wish to call attention to the remark made by the honorable member for Richmond, who said that the honorable member for Gwydir had spoken an untruth. I ask that that statement be withdrawn.
e. - I withdraw the words, and say that the statement of the honorable member for Gwydir was incorrect.
– I am not troubled about what the honorable member for Richmond has said.
– The time of the honorable member for Gwydir has expired.
– I say that Mr. Speaker-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think that under the circumstances I am entitled to finish my remarks.
– The honorable member is quite out of order. The Standing Orders lay down a definite rule which the occupant of the chair cannot qualify in any way.
– All I wish to say is that Mr. Speaker is responsible for this crisis.
– I do not know why there should be any serious objection to informing the House and the country as to the full text of the recommendation of the Government, and the reply of the Governor-General thereto. It does not matter to me whether there is precedent or not; the Government have broken through many of the most cherished traditions of Parliament which it is suggested we should hug to our bosoms. In my opinion section 57 of the Constitution has practically been abrogated by the advice given and accepted. It is, I know, out of order to criticise His Majesty’s representative, but honorable members and the citizens generally are entitled to know exactly what passed when a double dissolution was asked for and granted. The people have to find the £80,000 to pay for the general election, and, as the most interested parties, they should be made aware of what transpired. Last night the honorable member for Kennedy referred to the occasion when the late Sir Thomas Bent asked for and obtained a dissolution of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. When the new House was returned after the general election, it was urged that, to put it mildly, correct advice had not been given to the State Governor, and the Government were called upon to lay on the table of the Housethe full correspondence and records of conversations that had taken place when the dissolution was granted. All that information was embodied in a parliamentary paper, and is now on record. My own opinion is that the Governor-General is very much concerned in connexion with section 57, and with the dissolution recently granted. I do not propose to criticise His Excellency, but I may point out that members of a State Parliament of a different complexion of politics from that of Labour have criticised the action of Governors in the past. At the time of the trouble in Victoria Mr. John Murray, in a speech delivered at Warrnambool nn 14th December, 1908, pointed out that the State Governor was new to the situation, and must take a fair share of responsibility, and that the action taken was improper and unfair to the constituencies. Mr. Watt, the present Premier of Victoria, said at Moonee Ponds on 15th December, 1908 -
The Governor in granting a dissolution had not realized the true position or magnitude of his responsibility, these were strong words to use against the King’s representative, but if dissolutions were to be permitted as they had been in recent days the pistol was pointed at the forehead of representative government in a way that would cause serious students of the problem to feel a great anxiety for the future. The inevitable result for the future would bc that men might be threatened by the nian who held the power with the terrors of a dissolution, and if they were weak-kneed would refrain from casting a vote in the interests of freedom and material prosperity. This would be one of the great and important constitutional issues that would have to be fought immediately the new Parliament met.
So it appears, from the language used by prominent members of the State Parliament, that they had no hesitation on the hustings, and even after being elected, in speaking very boldly and plainly in respect to the advice tendered by the Government to the Governor, and even with respect to the reply given to that advice by the Governor himself.
Professor Harrison Moore, one of the great constitutional authorities of the Commonwealth, published in 1910 a very comprehensive work on the Australian Federal Constitution. In this he said the following with regard to section 57 -
The solution is curious and unique. In the first place it will be noted that the scheme applies only to measures initiated in the House of Representatives, a fact significant of the parts which the two Houses were expected to play in government. Secondly, there is ample provision made for delay and for consideration by the House, and there is no obstacle to a resort to the familiar means of conference. The application of the principle of dissolution to the second chamber is not wholly a novelty, and was inspired in a measure by the Constitution of South Australia. But in South Australia a dissolution of the Legislative Assembly must precede the dissolution of both Houses, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth avoids the appearance of punishing or putting pressure upon one House rather than the other.
I wish to emphasize those significant words. The action of the Government, and the acceptance by the GovernorGeneral of their advice, practically wipes the Senate out of existence as a useful Chamber. If, in future, the Labour party have a majority in this House, and the so-called Liberal party a majority in the Senate, all that the Government need do, if they desire to create a quarrel with another place, will be to bring forward a trumpery measure, no matter how insignificant, and have it rejected there twice. In that case, the precedent which has just been established will have to be followed, and the Government will be able to go tothe Governor-General, and ask him for a dissolution of the Senate simultaneously with the House of Representatives. A Chamber living with a pistol continuously at its head might as well be wiped out of our Constitution, and it would be better, in the circumstances, to carry on this Parliament, if we possibly could, with one House. With respect to the powers of the Senate, Professor Harrison Moore, at pages 153 and 154 of his work, said -
The power of compelling the acceptance of amendments to legislation is a very real one. If the Senate chooses to assert itself as a factor in party government there is nothing in the law of the Constitution to prevent it.
The ultimate political effect of the clauses of the Constitution on the financial powers is to strengthen the Senate, for it is entitled to exercise an effective control by means less heroic than thu rejection of an appropriation Bill. “ Dead-lock,” then, in the strict sense - the bringing the machinery of government to a stand-still - is a contingency so remote as hardly to be within the range of practical politics.
He was dealing there with the financial question, and came to the conclusion that any serious dispute with the other Chamber was not within the range of practical politics, because machinery had been provided whereby an amicable settlement could be arrived at. The only dead-lock that he thought could occur was in connexion with some financial measure, and I believe that is correct. I do not believe the present situation is a dead-lock at all. It is artificial, and nothing artificial can be regarded as real. Only when there is no possibility of carrying measures for the national benefit can there be said to be a dead-lock between the two Houses. I do not think that leading authorities regard the present situation as a dead-lock at all. Future historians will call it merely a trumped-up political crisis, engineered for party purposes, and having a very damaging effect upon the influence of the Senate, and, indeed, upon the Constitution as a whole. Through the granting of the double dissolution in this case, if Supply is granted, without protest, the Senate will be practically wiped out of the Constitution as a useful Chamber.
.- The Prime Minister and his colleagues are undoubtedly deserving of the censure of the public for precipitating a general election so soon after the last.
k. - What could we do ? You would not help us to do anything.
– I would remind the honorable gentleman that we helped him with the Norfolk Island Acceptance Bill, but that, having observed an inclination on the part of the Government not to introduce any more important legislation, we thought it desirable to make upon it what might be called a few propaganda speeches on the land and other questions.
– What did the honorable member do in regard to the Bureau of Agriculture Bill?
S. - What I did was in the interests of the States. Up to a certain point, I am a State Righter. All the States have Agricultural Bureaux, and a great deal of money is spent by them in trying to educate farmers, pastoralists, vignerons, and others in their respective avocations. In the circumstances, therefore, I thought it very wrong that the Prime Minister, who pretended that he was anxious to restore sound financial administration, should propose to spend probably £100,000 per annum in duplicating a great deal of the work at present being carried on by the States. I repeat that the Government deserve the censure of the people of Australia for bringing about a double dissolution. They had no right to secure one. It means that sixtysix members of the Federal Parliament will have to go to the country because the remaining forty-five could not get their own way. Was a more preposterous proposal ever made, in the circumstances, to a Governor-General ? I believe that the Liberal party will meet their reward at the forthcoming elections, and that it will take the shape of a well-merited punishment. When we meet, after the elections, they will not be found on the Treasury bench. Honorable members opposite strive to appear cheerful, but we know that they have been dragged at the Keels of the AttorneyGeneral, who is the most intolerant Conservative in Australia. The honorable gentleman has a tyrannical type of mind, and would ride rough-shod over the poorer classes. He believes that they ought to be kept down, and that their proper place is that of hewers of wood and drawers of water. It would be well for us, perhaps, to occupy the few remaining hours of the session - and, after all, I am not quite sure that they will be few; everything depends on the way in which the Ministry conduct themselves during the next day or two - in contrasting our policy with the performance of the present Government. We have previously described them as a Ministry of bunglers. They bungled with the sugar excise, the small-pox outbreak, and the quarantine system. They bungled in a dozen different ways. I wish now to place on record a list of their broken promises. The Prime Minister has said that we would nothelp him to do anything. Is it not a fact that we told the Government that we would help them to pass certain measures, such, for instance, as a Bankruptcy Bill ? On the 15th ultimo I asked the Prime Minister and other members of his Government a series of questions which may be summarized as follows: -
s. - When does the AttorneyGeneral propose to introduce the Bankruptcy Bill promised last year?
The Attorney-General (Mr. W. H. Irvine). - In due course.
Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill.
s. - When does the AttorneyGeneral propose to introduce the Amending Arbitration and Conciliation Bill promised last year?
The Attorney-General (Mr. W. H. Irvine). - In due course.
Tariff Anomalies Bill.
s. - When does the Minister of Trade and Customs intend to introduce a Tariff Anomalies Bill?
The Minister of Trade and Customs (Mr. L. E. Groom ) . - As soon as it is ready for submission to the House.
Offences against the Commonwealth.
– When does the AttorneyGeneral intend to introduce a Bill to deal with offences against the Commonwealth?
The Attorney-General (Mr. W. H. Irvine). -In due course.
s. - When does the Treasurer intend to introduce a Bill having reference to the Maternity Allowance?
The Treasurer (Sir John Forrest). - This will depend on circumstances.
Redistributionof Seats Bill.
s. - When does the Prime Minister intend to introduce aredistribution of Seats Bill?
The Prime Minister (Mr. Joseph Cook). - When opportunity offers.
Life and Fire Insurance.
s. - When does the Prime Minister propose to introduce the Life and Fire Insurance Bill promised last year?
The Prime Minister (Mr. Joseph Cook ). - When opportunity offers.
Post Office Management Bill.
s. - When does the Prime Minister propose to introduce “ A measure for the appointment of three Commissioners to manage the Post Office,” as promised last year?
The Prime Minister (Mr. Joseph Cook). - When opportunity offers.
Civil Service Superannuation Bill.
s. - When does the Prime Minister propose to introduce a scheme of superannuation for the Civil Service?
The Prime Minister (Mr. Joseph Cook). - The whole matter is under consideration.
s. - When does the Prime Minister intend to introduce legislation to provide for the settlement of Inter-State industrial disputes by industrial boards, as promised by him last year?
The Prime Minister (Mr. Joseph Cook). - When opportunity offers.
Retiring Allowancesfor Military and Naval Officers.
s. - When does the Prime Minister intend to introduce legislation to provide for a”scheme to secure retiring allowances to those serving in the naval and military forces “ promised by him last year?
The Prime Minister (Mr. Joseph Cook). - When opportunity offers.
All these answers to my questions may he seen inHansard of 15th May, 1914. The point that I wish to make is that if the Ministry could “ gag “ the Postal Vote Restoration Bill through this House last year, and the Government Preference Prohibition Bill last session, and again this session, it was in their power to pass all the measures I have just outlined through the House of Representatives. Indeed it would not have been necessary to “gag” these measures through the House. We would have discussed the whole of them on their merits. We might possibly have proposed certain amendments, and, having regard to the history of the present Government, it is only reasonable to assume that it would have been necessary for us to do so. I take the view that the Attorney-General, who is leading the Ministerial party, and who has enforced his will upon them, does not desire the passing of any legislation of a progressive character, although he would be quite willing to pass legislation imposing further burdens upon that section of the community which isreally un able to bear any increased burden. We have in this community several classes of politicians. There is, for instance, the politician who does not believe in any change whatever. People who think in that way are to be found principally amongst the large investors of capital. They do not wish any change, because they think that any change will be bad for them. A year or two ago it was suggested that Parliament should be shut up altogether, and we should cease to multiply Acts of Parliament. That would be satisfactory to large capitalists, whose time is chiefly taken upin looking through stock and share lists, and watching the operations of companies in which their capital is invested. They may be getting 10 per cent. out of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, 5 per cent. or more from Burns, Philp and Co., 10 per cent. from an electric light company, the Metropolitan Gas Company, and so on. Such men who have invested their money under the laws existing at the time in companies that continue to prosper are satisfied that there should be no change in the law.
– Is the honorable member enjoying any prosperity from shares ?
S.- I have the most lordly disregard for money. Unhappily, when I wish to buy anything the seller will demand coin for it, otherwise I should not bother at all a.bout money. I do not wish honorable members to think for a moment that in my opinion the capitalist is not quite entitled to so invest his money as to get a good return for it, but I take the view that if, in order that the capitalist may get 10 per cent. on his money, the workers are deprived of the means to earn a decent living, and are compelled to live and bring up their children in slums, legislation to remedy such a condition of affairs is necessary, and the capitalist must be content with less than 10 per cent. The honorable member for North Sydney would like to kn ow what dividends are drawn bv investors in the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
Colonel Ryrie. - The original investors draw good dividends, but what do those who now take up its shares get for their money ?
– The original investors got 10 per cent. when the market value of the shares was £20 each, but those who invest in them now, when the shares have gone up to £47, may not get more than 5 per cent, for their money.
– Can the honorable member put us on to any 10 per cent, investments now ?
S. - If the honorable member for Wannon will cease to bother about the public welfare, will give up politics, and spend his time studying share lists and the operations “of companies, I have no doubt that he will soon drop across something which will return him 10 per cent, for his money. Not long ago I saw a statement in a stock and share journal to the effect that a man who invested £100 in the Ferry Company of Sydney ten years ago finds that his investment is to-day worth over £2,000. These things are going. If honorable members will give up politics and seek them, they will no doubt soon be well off. I take the case of a clever man who saves £100 - and some millionaires tell us that the first £100 is all that it is difficult to save, and there is no difficulty in adding to that amount. He invests his £100 in the shares of a company, and sells out of it later at a profit. Capitalists are a class to themselves, and tell each other of the good investments going. This man invests his profits in other money-earning ventures, and later on may be worth £10,000 to £20,000. If he is a very affectionate father he may say to himself, “ I shall invest this money to the best possible advantage in order that my children may not have to work for their living.” It is the greatest mistake that any man ever made in this world to save money in order to prevent his children from working for their living, and that they may be merely butterflies of society. I am glad to say that most men nowadays believe that it is better that they should teach their children a trade or a profession so that they may become useful members of the community. I personally think that it is better for a man to give his child a good education, and, by looking after him, a sound constitution, than to leave him a lot of money.
It may be said that capitalists are a roost timid class of people. If when they look through a share list they find that whilst the dividend paid by one company was 10 per cent, last year it is only 9 per cent, or 6 per cent, this year, the shares of that company will at once drop in value and very rapidly. I take the case of Mount Morgan shares at the present time. The Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company are the owners of a very large mine in my electorate, and employ over 2,000 men. The mine has paid about £8,000,000 in dividends since its discovery twenty years ago.
Colonel Ryrie. - Can the honorable member tell us when the shares will go up again to 63s?
– The Mount Morgan mine was discovered on a 640-acre selection, for which those who originally took it up were paid £1 per acre by the Morgans. The people who have been interested in that mine have in one way or other received £8,000,000 in dividends from it, though I admit that very many people who bought into the mine suffered very great losses. The shares of the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company were a few weeks ago worth 62s or 63s., and they are now down to about 52s.
Colonel Ryrie. - They are down to 51s. 6d.
– I apprehend that the honorable member is interested in the company. I do not speak with authority on this matter, but if honorable members read the Mount Morgan newspapers they will see that there is no occasion for panic in connexion with the min9. The point I wish to make is that capitalists axe a timid class, and if there is the slightest adverse rumour concerning a company those in it try to sell their shares and get out for fear of trouble. They are, as a rule, opposed to proposals for fresh legislation, as they consider it may diminish their dividends. When we proposed to deal with the Colonial Sugar Refining ‘Company the shares dropped in value, but they have been going up since my honorable friends opposite got into power.
– It is the report of the Royal Commission appointed by the Labour party that put up the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s shares.
S.- No; it was the fact that the Liberals got into power. It was felt that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company had then no occasion to fear legislation of this Parliament, and consequently up went the price of its shares.
Sitting suspended from. 1 to 2.80 p.m.
– I am very pleased to believe that it is not necessary for you, sir, on this occasion, to bother about the speeches of honorable members, and to keep them in order, because they are permitted to wander at large through the political firmament. I was dealing with the evolution of a capitalist.
– He is a curse.
S. - And I was pointing out that the class which the Attorney-General represents, particularly in the Federal Parliament, do not desire any legislation. I was showing how the man who has the capacity to make money, and is economical, thrifty, far-seeing, and sober, could, if he devoted his attention to the money market and share companies, if he had reasonably good fortune, become a capitalist. I did not complete my description of the evolution of the capitalist because there is one important fact which I failed to remark upon. We will assume that a man with a genius for money-making is possessed of £1,000. He becomes a shareholder in a company which is able to pay 10 per cent. Immediately a company of any standing such as the Melbourne Gas Company, the Electric Light Company, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, Howard Smith and Company, or any other company of like character, commences to pay 10 per cent., the shares, if worth, say, £1 each, double in value on the market.
– Sometimes they do not pay anything.
S. - I am speaking of the money-making genius, not of those unfortunates who never know when to sell or to buy. The company pays 10 per cent. There are always in the community a number of trustees and investors who are prepared to put money into companies that will pay 5 per cent., so that they are quite willing to pay £2 for those £1 shares that return 10 per cent., and a man who has a thousand shares sells out at £2 each and immediately shows a profit of £1,000. That is done every day in the week, and probably no one knows that better than the honorable member for Corangamite. The honorable member does not appear to be an individual who is very much disturbed; that is to say, he is not a restless man. He is a man with a temperament that does not seem to become at all agitated. He is always rosy-cheeked and generally smiling, but there is no doubt he has a financial brain, and does not take long to size up the balance-sheets of a company. He sees that a company is about to pay big dividends, and he buys up shares at £1 each, and when a 10 per cent. dividend is declared he sells out at double the price at which he bought in.
This kind of financial operation takes place every day, as honorable members will observe by watching share quotations. As I was saying, capitalists and investors, especially large investors, such as trustees and others, invest large sums; it may be £100,000 or £200,000 or even half-a-million, but the total runs to millions if one recollects the investments by the whole of the investing capitalistic class. I am not angry with the individual capitalists at all, because in the present state of the world’s affairs, if a capitalist does not avail himself of the opportunity of making money, he will probably find himself working for some other capitalist who does avail himself of that opportunity. I complain of the system under which such large fortunes are made by some capitalists at the expense of the wage-earners and wealthproducers in the community.
I was pointing out, before lunch, the reasons why the capitalistic class, which the Attorney-General represents particularly, do not want any change. When the Colonial Sugar Refining Company feared that the Australian Labour party would secure the passage of the referenda and interfere with the company’s large dividends, the shares dropped in value a few pounds. I think they were about £45 per share a few years ago, and they dropped to £40 ; but when the Liberal party came into power the confidence of the capitalistic class was restored, and immediately the company’s shares commenced to rise, and are to-day worth nearly £48.
– The honorable member for Darwin knows that if any one is going to attack his rent he will go out of business.
S.- The interjection of the honorable member only supports my statement. Owning houses is a very safe proposition, but not the best money-making investment by any means.
– Hear, hear! There is no “ boodle “ in it.
S. - I know that expert financiers look upon house property as only an investment for widows. They do not think that buying houses and letting them is worth their consideration, because, after paying for repairs and the collection of rents, there is probably not more that 5 per cent, profit in the business. But it must be admitted that, at the present time, owing to the admission of a large number of immigrants who cannot find work in the country, and are obliged to remain in the city, house rents have risen enormously.
Mr. SPEAKER. - This may be a very interesting subject for discussion, but I cannot see what it has to do with the question before the Chair.
– I hope it is interesting. I understood that this was grievance day. One of my grievances is that the present Ministry will not pass any legislation in the interests of the general public, and I am trying to show that they will not do anything because the capitalistic class do not want any legislation. Any progressive legislation which would improve the lot of the wage-earning class would be calculated to interfere with the dividends of the investors.
– Who provides the wages ?
S. - The honorable member for Corio will excuse me if I say that he should make a little further study of political economy. I will not say that he has not made any study of the matter. The honorable member has been, generally speaking, a very kindly-disposed gentleman, although really his actions in regard to the Tariff seem to me to indicate that it is time he made way for a true Protectionist. The honorable member asks, “ Who pays the wages?” Will the honorable gentleman tell me of any labourer, any man on the job, any man in the trenches, a bricklayer, a plumber, a carpenter, or any other of the thousand and one operatives, who gets his wages in advance? He cannot name one. Before the labourer gets his wages he has to earn them, and, perhaps, a little bit over, which represents profit or interest. I think I have shown the reason why my honorable friends opposite, or those of them who are running the Liberal party at the present time, do not want any fresh legislation. When the Prime Minister went throughout the Commonwealth, and said that he was not going to indulge in any orgy of legislation, and was not. going to put up any record of eighty-three Acts of Parliament passed in three years, he was only voicing a sentiment which was very acceptable to the capitalistic class. If we are going to make any advance in civilization, we must interfere with the capitalistic class. The capitalist of the future must recognise that the payment of the wages of the workers must be the first charge, and that if the worker cannot get a good rate of wages, with the capitalist getting 10 per cent, on his money, then the capitalist must accept 5 per cent., or as little profit as will enable all those engaged in the production of wealth to get due payment for their services.
I am referring, of course, to all the wage-earners, professionals as well as others. Take, for instance, my friends on the press. I know that some of them have an idea that because I attack the press sometimes I am very much opposed to the pressmen individually. That is not so; I have a number of personal friends among pressmen. I want to put in a word on their behalf. It is monstrous that some of the larger journals should be paying such inordinate dividends at the expense of the staffs which furnish the brains to run them. The Sydney Daily Telegraph £10 shares stand at £70 because the paper can pay about 30 per cent, or 40 per cent, on the original capital. If a fair thing was done by the producers of these papers the men employed would be getting about 50 per cent, more in salaries. It is time the general public realized these facts, and realized, too, that the Labour party, which is supposed to be a class party, working in the interests of a few individuals, is really working in the interests of the whole of the people. Even capitalists are better off to-day as the result of the improved lot of the workers and wage-earners. Are there not changes taking place all round in the direction of furnishing greater comforts for the rich ? About ten years ago we did not see motor cars running about the streets of any big city; and the rich-, if they did not possess their own stables and horses and carriages, had to depend on cabmen; whereas to-day, as a rule, they get about the cities in motor-cars run by intelligent chauffeurs, who get very much better wages than those received by cabmen in the past.
The public should realize the difference between the Labour party and the Liberal party. The Labour party stand for the advancement of civilization and the improvement of the lot of the general public. The Liberal party stand for protecting the interests of the capitalists, interests which they consider are being challenged by the people’s party. Let us for a moment look at what is being done by the Labour party in the Federal Parliament. I shall refer to a few of the measures which we have passed. The chiei piece of legislation, I am inclined to think, was that establishing the Commonwealth Bank, and I pay tribute to the honorable member for Darwin for the work he did in connexion with that bank. The speeches of the honorable member in the House and in the country cultivated that public opinion which resulted in the passing of the Commonwealth Bank Bill. It would have been better, no doubt, as the honorable member for Calare suggests, had we accepted more of the advice of the honorable member for Darwin; but there is still time, and there will be opportunity later on, to amend the measure and bring it more into line with his ideas. Some day I trust we shall see representatives of the States on an Advisory Board working in harmony with the Governor of the bank. The Labour party are always open to reason and to suggestions. Another Bill which the Liberal party fought as strongly as they did the Commonwealth Bank Bill was that which imposed the Commonwealth land tax. All kinds of most objectionable slanders were uttered by the Liberal party against the Labour party in connexion with the imposition of that tax. It was said that the Labour party desired to tax the farmer off his holding, but the measure had no such result. We know that £1,300,000 is collected annually as revenue from the land tax, and we know that a number of large owners have had to cut up their estates, whereby farmers have got their land cheaper than they could have got it had the Bill not been passed.
Coming to other legislation which more directly concerns the poorer people in the community, we liberalized the old-age pensions and gave pensions to the blind. The Attorney-General is opposed to that class of legislation. He maintains that it will destroy the virility of the race. I have never been able to agree with the argument that helping a person will destroy his in dependence of character. If that is so, how is it that the independence of the honorable member for Parkes has not been destroyed ? That honorable member was probably very carefully nurtured in his youth, and given all the advantages that wealth could give; he was educated at universities, and was not sent out to work in a u ine at ten years of age, as was the case with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has proved himself a very able man, but has thrown in his lot with the capitalist class. Had he had a gentler time in his youth, he might have been in a different party to-day. My argument is that, taking a child and bringing it up carefully, educating it well, and surrounding it with all the comforts of life will not destroy its independence of character. By the same token, when we give to the pioneers of Australia - over sixty years of age in the case of women and over sixty-five years in the case of men - 10s. a week for the rest of their lives we are not interfering with their independence of character or with the independence of the character of the Australian race.
Let me place on record the fighting andgeneral platform of the Australian Labour party as adopted at the Conference at Hobart in January, 1912 -
I might add the pledge which members on this side sign -
I,…………………… , hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political Labour organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Australian Labour Party’s Platform, and on all questions affecting the Platform to vote as a majority of the Parliamentary Party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting. (Signed)………………..
I should like to mention the record of the Labour party, Federal and State, during the past twenty years. It has taken a long time -
Adult Suffrage, giving every man and woman a vote, and abolishing plural voting.
Workers’ Compensation Act, whereby the wives and children and all other dependents arc now assured of compensation for the loss of or injury to their husbands through accident while at work.
That particular plank was the work of the Queensland State Labour party.
Infants’ Life Protection Act.
Provision for money payments to widows to enable them to support their own children at home, instead of having to send them to orphanages, or board them out with strangers, as previously.
That is a piece of legislation which the Attorney-General says will destroy the virility of the race.
t. - It was on Mr. Cook’s platform three years ago, and I spoke on it on several occasions.
Mr. HIGGS.- That only shows the insincerity of honorable members, because the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Calare know that we cannot deal federally with that matter until we amend the Constitution. Honorable members are only humbugging the people when they say that they will pass such legislation. They have not the power to do it.
– Did you amend the Constitution to bring in the old-age pensions ?
S. - Old-age pensions are mentioned in the Constitution. Why do you not read your Constitution t
Mr. SPEAKER-The honorable member must address the Chair.
– Why does the honorable member come into the company of educated men and display such a want of knowledge? Sir, you are only an apprentice in politics.
Mr. SPEAKER.- The honorable member must address the Chair. It is not in order to address another honorable member directly.
– It was the honorable member’s interjection that caused me to do so. The Labour party passed through the Queensland Parliament the
Wife’s Intestate Estates Act. Under this, in the case of women having separate estates, and dying without making a will, their property comes under the same law as men’s estates.
The Labour party does not wish to keep women in subjection. We believe in having the law the same for women as for men. I have long ceased to regard men as the lords of creation. I take off my hat to every woman.
– That is more than the Government does.
S. - Honorable members opposite pretend to love and admire the fair sex, but in the making of laws they would keep them in subjection. They are afraid to allow the women the same opportunities as they have, because they know that, intellectually, they would have to take a back seat.
– A lady is going to oppose the honorable member for North Sydney.
S. - We should miss the gallant Colonel, whom it seems difficult to beat with a Labour candidate. Any lady who opposes him will have our hearty good wishes for her success at the poll. The
Workers Lien Act, which secures to the worker Iiia wages from fraudulent employers is another piece of Labour legislation. In Queensland the Labour party provided also for
State loans to miners. Under this, miners and prospectors can get advances from the State for erection of mining machinery.
A measure that a certain honorable member might not like provides for -
Protection from seizure for rent of sewing machines or other appliances used by women in earning their living.
I do not think that the honorable member really objects to it, because he is a poor landlord. He tells us that he knocks at the door, and says, “ Tell your mother that the poor landlord has called for his rent, and will not go away until he gets it.” Another thing we have insisted on is a
Standard rate of wages in Government contracts.
We have also in our record the
Abolition of the iniquitous postal vote. Provision for absent voters.
We regard that as to our credit.
Amendments of the Shops and Factories Act, with better working conditions for young people, and improvement in the hours of labour in factories and workshops- are also to our credit. The
Wages Boards Act, which is already giving increased wages and better conditions to employes in several industries.
Inspection of machinery and scaffolding Act- are other measures which were opposed by the capitalistic class. I have given an indication to honorable gentlemen opposite, and to any one who takes the trouble to read Ilansard, of the aims and objects of the Australian National Labour party. None of the Acts that we have passed is of any particular benefit to us as individual members of Parliament, though, of course, in so far as we come under their operations we gain the advantage of them. On the other hand, the Liberals, Conservatives, Tories, or to use the name which the Melbourne Age applies, and which I believe to be the correct name, the Fusion party, which blocks us at every possible point, aims at protecting the investor, who wins such large sums in the shape of dividends and profits from the wealth produced in Australia. It pays individuals better - I refer not to the poorer members of the Fusion party, but to the rich members - to block our progressive national legislation. They reap more by doing that. This concludes the observations that I propose to make at this stage, as I shall have another opportunity to enlighten such benighted persons as the honorable member for Calare, should I consider it necessary to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply:
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding £3,060,026 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1915.
The Government asks for this Supply because the simultaneous dissolution of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, having been granted by the Governor-General on the recommendation of Ministers, necessitates an early appeal to the constituencies, and Supply is needed for the period from the 1st July until the re-assembling of the new Parliament, which it is thought will be about the end of September, or a few days later. We ask for Supply for three months. The first Supply Bill introduced during the current financial year provided for a period of six weeks, and when speaking upon it I pointed out that the very large sum of £400,000 wa.s required for the Treasurer’s Advance to meet accounts for works and buildings approved by Parliament during the previous year, and still in process of construction. In subsequent Supply Bills we had to make like provision, this system dating from the establishment of the Federal Parliament. All accounts for additions, new works, and buildings have hitherto been paid out of the Treasurer’s Advance until the Appropriation Work9 and Buildings Act could be passed. Last year I promised that, should I be able to do so, I would this year provide for new works, buildings, &c.,, in a separate Supply Bill, and that I have done.
r. - Does the Bill referred to indicate where the money will be spent ?
– Is there a schedule of the new works?
.- The Bill is not before us at the present moment, but I may inform honorable members that there is nothing in it of which Parliament has not approved. Every work for which it provides is a work approved last year, and still in progress.
– Is there nothing else?
– Speaking from memory, I do not think so; but I shall be happy to give all information on the subject when we come to the Bill. The measure with which I am now dealing provides three months’ Supply for the ordinary services of the Government. The sum for which we ask is £3,060,020, and includes £80,000 for refunds of revenue, £200,000 for the Treasurer’s Advance, and £208,578 for payment to the Admiralty for stores. The refund of revenue is the ordinary vote to enable the Treasurer to refund amounts collected which do not properly belong to revenue, such as the proportion of cable rates due to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company and the Pacific Cable Board, the value of postage stamps re-purchased by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, the value of postage stamps attached to postal notes, amounts paid in error, and so on. I wish honorable members to understand thoroughly that, with regard to the other amounts included, the Bill is based on the Estimates for the current financial year. The only increases of salary which will be paid under this Bill are the ordinary statutory increments in the case of officers whose salaries do not exceed £180 per annum.
– Does the right honorable gentleman intend to place the financial position before the House now ?
.- Yes; I propose to give all the information I have at my disposal, and, if it is not enough, I shall endeavour to get more. The salaries that I have mentioned are always inserted in the Estimates, on the recommendation of the Public Service Commissioner. There is no extraordinary or special expenditure included, except in two cases. One is the amount of £208,578, before referred to, which is required to pay the Admiralty for stores taken over in connexion with the transfer of Garden Island. The agreement to pay this amount was made by our predecessors, but it was too large an amount to pay out of the Treasurer’s Advance, and it was not anticipated that such an amount would be required from this source. The Government, however, wish to make the payment - which is long overdue - as soon as possible. The amount is included under the following votes: - Permanent Forces, seagoing, £5,675; Naval establishments, £364; uniform, clothing, and necessaries, Naval, £10,500; medical services, £3,971; and maintenance of ships and vessels, £188,068; making the total of £208,578. The other is an amount of £1,200 included as a gratuity to Brigadier- General Gordon. This amount is equal to twelve months’ pay, and it is thought that, acting on precedent, that is all that can be offered on retirement after thirty-two years’ honorable service. This, it seems to me, is a poor reward after a lifetime spent with the Military Forces.
– He got a salary; what more is required?
– I am merely expressing my opinion that this is a poor reward, having regard to the time that Brigadier-General Gordon has been in the Service. Had he been in the Civil Branch, he would have retired with a pension of probably £500 a year; and he suffers under a further disability; he expected to retire at the age of sixty, and, even then, there was a chance of a further two years of service at the option of the Government. About two years ago, however, the age of retirement was reduced from sixty to fifty-eight, and BrigadierGeneral Gordon has not only lost his chance of remaining in the Service until he is sixty-two, but has had to retire at the age of fifty-eight. This officer has had a long career, in regard to which I might take the opportunity to say a few words. He was educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was a prizeman for horsemanship there, and was appointed a lieutenant in the Imperial Royal Artillery in 1876. He raised the South Australian Permanent Forces in 1882, as a lieutenant, and since then he has held almost every position in the Military Service - Commandant in three
States, Adjutant-General, Chief of General Staff, and First Military Member of the Military Board since 1912. He has had war service, of which I have the records here. He was in the South African War- saw active service, was mentioned in despatches, and received the Queen’s medal with four clasps and was decorated with the C.B.; really a great record of faithful continual service. As desired by some honorable members, I should now like, in a few words, to place before the Committee the present financial position. The revenue for the financial year was estimated at £21,462,000, and I am very glad to say that I believe that estimate will he realized. The Budget estimate of the Customs and Excise revenue was £14,900,000, and this, too, it is gratifying to say, will probably be realized. The Post Office revenue may be slightly short of the Budget estimate, which was £4,548,000, but amounts to be received from other sources will, I believe, make up any deficiency.
– What is there from the land tax this year?
.- The land tax has not all been paid yet; but I am informed that the revenue will amount to about £1,400,000. The expenditure out of revenue for the year is estimated at £23,281,000, or about £834,000 less than originally anticipated, notwithstanding that the expenditure on lands required for defence purposes is being charged to revenue. When the Budget-speech was made, it was intended that such lands should be paid for out of loan moneys. The construction of the Fleet in the current year was estimated to cost £1,002,000; but work has not proceeded as rapidly as anticipated, and there will probably be an unexpended balance of £200,000.
– That is the only good thing about the statement.
.- The ordinary defence expenditure will also be less than estimated by about £160,000.
– It ought to be much less.
.- The honorable member will be glad to hear, though I do not share in his gladness, that the cost of warlike stores will show a large reduction.
– How much?
.- I have not the figures just now, but I shall get them a little later. Maternity allowances will probably amount to £685,000, or about £35,000 more than the Budget estimate.
– May it never grow less.
– Honorable members are very generous with other people’s money. Considerable savings have been made in other Departments; and, as far as can be foreseen at present, the accounts at the close of the year will probably be as follow: - Accumulated surplusat the 30th June, 1913, £2,643,305 - this figure is audited, and, therefore, exact; revenue for the year, as estimated, £21,462,000, and, with the surplus, making a total of £24,105,305; expenditure for the year as now estimated, £23,281,000, showing an estimated surplus on the 30th June, 1914, of £824,305.
– An estimated surplus, gentlemen !
– I do not know why the right honorable member should laugh. He had a great deal to say about the splendid surplus, which he did not anticipate, but which came to him. I,too, did not anticipate, at the beginning of the year, that I should have a surplus; but I am glad to say that, through care and economy–
– And starving the Departments.
.- When I come to deal with the Works and Buildings Estimates, honorable members will see how much starving of the Departments there has been ; and the Works and Buildings are the items on which savings are generally made. I shall be able to show honorable members that we have spent more this year than last year, both in regard to works and buildings and from loan.
– Has not the right honorable gentleman spent more than his income?
.- Seeing that at the beginning of the year there was a surplus of £2,643,305, and that there will be a surplus of only £824,305 at the end of the year, I should say that that question is unnecessary. I remind the right honorable member again, however, that he had a surplus of £2,261,673 at the beginning of 1912-13, and also that at the end of 1912-13 he had a surplus that he had not anticipated, and that my position is similar. I think I can give honorable members even a little more hope. Notwithstanding this estimate, which has been prepared by the Department, I am prepared to make a little more liberal forecast, and to express the hope that the balance on the 30th June instant will be over £1,000,000.
– In respect of the year’s transactions?
.- On the transactions of the year ending 30th June, and inclusive of the surplus. Honorable members opposite, I think, are a little bit unreasonable. I pointed out, in the course of my Budget statement last year, that, taking credit for the £2,653,000 which we inherited by way of surplus, we estimated to expend the whole of our income, just as in the previous year the right honorable member for Wide Bay estimated that his expenditure would be equal to the whole of the revenue received, plus the accumulated surplus. As a matter of fact, the actual revenue which he received was far more than he estimated, while his expenditure was considerably less than an he estimated it would be, and his surplus, which he is constantly referring to, is solely accounted for in that way. If his estimates of revenue and expenditure had proved accurate, he would not have had any surplus at all. We have, however, discussed that aspect of the matter before. I wish to congratulate honorable members on both sides, and the country generally, on the fact that, notwithstanding the pessimistic forecasts of both friends and foes, such a good result has been obtained. When we reach the Works and Buildings Estimates, I shall have a good deal more to say; but I shall content myself now with moving the motion.
.- I desire, at the outset, to congratulate the Treasurer on the fact that, as time goes on, he is becoming more frank in his statement of the finances. There are behind him honorable members who, .when seeking the suffrages of the free and independent citizens of Australia, denied everything that the right honorable gentleman now asserts. They indulged in wilful straightout lying about the matter.
.- Order ! Do I understand the right honorable member to say that honorable members have been lying ?
– This point has already been settled. I am dealing with statements made by gentlemen who have since become members of this Parliament.
– Would the right honorable member describe them as gentlemen ?
R.- Certainly. In this House, happily, the facts can be stated, and misstatements can be controverted. The Treasurer speaks now of an absolute cash surplus! - “audited,” as he says - amounting to £2,653,000, which he inherited from the Fisher Administration. That was the position after the late Government had paid every bill that could be paid. I asked that every bill presented should be paid.
– That is the law.
R.- But it is not always observed. The complaint now made by the Treasurer is that in my last estimate I appropriated the surplus revenue accumulated by us during the preceding years of our administration, but that we did not spend the whole of it, whilst, at the same time, the revenue received by us was larger than that which I estimated to receive. In this way, he says, we secured our surplus. The fact is that we showed a surplus on the actual transactions of the year. On the other hand, what has been done by the present Government? Even making every allowance for the economy which the Treasurer says he has practised, we find that, during the one financial year of their administration, the present Government have spent all that they received by way of revenue and income, and have, in addition, eaten into the surplus which they inherited to the extent of about £1,653,000. Is it any wonder that the honorable gentleman congratulates honorable members on both sides ?
– The estimate of Customs revenue for this year was much less than the receipts from that source in the previous year. We estimated that it would be £653,000 less than during the previous twelve months.
R.- Even allowing for that - even if we allow for a falling off in revenue to the extent of £350,000 - the Treasurer, during his twelve months of office, has eaten into the surplus which he inherited to the extent of £1,300,000.
– That can he explained.
R. - No explanation can wipe away that fact. The position is that the Treasurer in one year has eaten up more than one-half of the surplus which he inherited from us. Whoever is called upon to carry out the difficult task of financing the undertakings of the Commonwealth next year will be face to face with that fact. The difference between the position of the present Administration and that of its predecessors in office is that we inherited from the right honorable member an actual deficit, whereas he inherited from us a handsome surplus. We paid off the deficit, and at the end of three years of strenuous progressive work and legislation - the most progressive period that Australia had ever experienced - we left a surplus of £2,653,000. Time will not permit me to go into a study of the financial position at this stage, but I desire to express my regret that the Treasurer, when dealing with the maternity allowance, which he said would involve this year an expenditure of £685,000, should have said, in answer to an interjection that that was not too much, “Yes, but you are very generous with other people’s money.” Whose money is it? It is the money of the people of Australia. The complaint of honorable members is that the toiling masses of the community, the mothers and fathers, and especially those with large families, are over-taxed. By means of the maternity allowance some semblance of justice can be done to these people, even if we view it from no higher stand-point. It is time that the facts of the case were put clearly and distinctly in this Parliament. If there is a duty resting upon this Legislature it is that of protecting the mothers and the infant life of Australia. It is our duty also to see that a section of the people are not unduly taxed; but wherever indirect taxation is imposed, the burden of it falls, and falls unfairly upon the toiling masses, whose incomes are comparatively small. They have to spend all they earn in obtaining the actual necessaries of life, and a few comforts, nearly the whole of which are taxed through the Customs and Excise. Apart altogether from the social and humanitarian aspect of the maternity allowance, therefore, it must be admitted that it does economic justice in this respect, since it is paid only when there is another mouth to fill. It is paid only when another child is born to the Commonwealth - a future citizen who will ultimately help to make Australia and to augment its revenue. The maternity allowance certainly helps to relieve the toiling masses of the community of some of the excessive burdens of taxation placed upon them.
– But it is given not only to those who want it, but to those who do not want it.
R. - We give it only to those who declare that they are entitled to it. The Treasurer has been good enough to say that the system has not been abused. He has said that there has been no fraud.
– No; I said that there had been a lot of fraud.
R.- Then I misunderstood the honorable member. My experience as Treasurer was that there was comparatively little fraud.
– The honorable member is right so far as any fraud in connexion with the allowance has been brought to light, but there is plenty of room for it.
n. - Another slander on the mothers of Australia !
– If the Treasury officials suspect fraud in any case, it is their duty to make an investigation, and to prosecute the offenders.
– They are doing their best.
R. - Since the Treasurer has made the statement as to fraud, I shall ask him to indicate to the House the extent to which fraud has been found to exist.
– I shall be very glad to give the information.
R. - I shall ask the right honorable gentleman to give us a list of cases in which fraud has occurred. The statement made by the right honorable gentleman is a very serious one, and may influence the minds of the people against the system.
– You knew of cases.
R.- Yes, but they were so comparatively small.
– You know of that case in South Australia, where one fellow got away with about £200, and could not be caught.
R. - I believe I know of cases which in the aggregate totalled £400 or £500 in an expenditure nf £685,000, and that is what the Treasurer calls “ A lot of fraud.” I take this opportunity of drawing the Government’s attention to the statements made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council in another place. Senator McColl used figures, presumably received from Mr. Knibbs, declaring that the death rate of infants has been higher since the maternity allowance was introduced than it was in previous years. Those figures are wrong. My investigation of Mr. Knibbs’ statistics shows that Senator McColl used the figures in a way different from that in which the statistician presented them. I say, further, that even if that were not the fact, the manner in which the statement was made by Senator McColl would undoubtedly mislead the public mind on that question.
– It is quite clear that the granting of a maternity bonus could not have any effect on the death rate.
R.- Unfortunately, every member of the public has not a reasoning intellect like that of the honorable member. What was the purport and intention of the statement made by Senator McColl ? It was that more child life was destroyed under this beneficent piece of legislation than had been destroyed before it was passed. The honorable gentleman’s statement was a charge against the mothers of Australia and against the medical men and nurses, and it was unworthy of him to say that this payment had led to carelessness and destruction of life. The facts are quite the reverse. But this is only one of the statements that are too frequently made by the Government in regard to that piece of progressive legislation. That measure was passed by a Labour Administration, and I am glad that other countries, so far from ridiculing it, are taking steps to follow the precedent which we set. Although the Government supporters have denounced the maternity bonus, they have not the courage to attack it openly.
– We declared that we do not believe in giving it to people who are well off.
R. - I know what the honorable member declared, but are the Government going to say that as a matter of policy?
– I have said it in my Budget speech. Here is the statement -
The Government is of opinion that the maternity allowance should be only given to those who are in need, and that the whole community should not be taxed to give money to those who can very well pay for themselves.
R.-“ The Government are of opinion.” That is not a declaration that they are going to make a limitation of the payment part of their policy. If the Treasurer will tell me that it is part of the Government’s policy I will accept his statement.
– It is in the Government’s manifesto.
R. - I accept that statement.
– In this case you cannot say that we are fighting for what you call our own class. We do “not want that class to get the bonus.
R.- You are adopting the best possible method of differentiating between those who are well off and those who are not, with the idea of calling the latter paupers.
– Do you call the old-age pensioners paupers?
R. - There are some people who can always see two classes in the community - not those who are capable and good citizens as distinct from those who are not, but those who have money as distinct from those who have not.
– Then you call oldage pensioners paupers.
R.- This proposal of the Government is not to differentiate between the intellectual and valuable citizens of Australia and those who are useless.
– There is too much politics and vote-catching in it.
R.- And there is too little reason, common sense, and justice in politics. The Treasurer proposes to differentiate between persons with money and persons without.
– I say that is what you do with the old-age pensioners.
e. - And with the land tax.
– I think you do.
.- There are too many speakers. The right honorable member for Wide Bay is in possession of the floor.
– So far as this side are concerned, that proposal of the Government will be resisted to the uttermost.
– What is that you are saying?
R.- The Treasurer has intimated and confirmed the statement made in the Government’s memorandum, that the policy of the Government is to amend the Maternity Allowance Act so that only those persons who are in necessity may get it. Is that the policy of the Government ?
– The policy of the Government is to do for the womanhood of Australia very much better than the right honorable member’s Government did.
R.- May I ask the Prime Minister if the Treasurer has announced the policy of the Government on this matter ? The right honorable member for Swan has announced that he is going to differentiate.
– I do not know what the Treasurer said, but I will go bail for him.
R. - No doubt it suits the Prime Minister, but there cannot be two Government policies.
– There are halfadozen on your side.
R.- Whatever our thoughts were, we had one policy.
– Do you mind telling us what that policy is?
R. - I will tell the honorable member what it was. It embraced eighty-four Acts, passed in three years, apart from Supply and Appropriation Acts.
– What is your policy for the future?
R. - Our policy embraced the repeal of the Naval Loan Act for £3,500,000, which loan we wiped out, paying the expenditure from revenue; it embraced the Maternity Allowance Act-
– Who found you the money to do it?
R.- We did. It embraced the transcontinental railway, the Federal Capital, the Commonwealth Bank, the Australian Note Issue, an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to enable the President of the Court to have a consultation between parties prior to a strike, and so prevent an anticipated trouble; it embraced the Navigation Act-
– I asked for your policy for the future. You are still harping on the past, on which the people turned you down.
R.- It is a policy that we are proud of, whether we were turned up or turned down on it. We pursue a policy which we believe to be beneficial to Australia, regardless of whether it is beneficial to our party or not, and it is the same policy that we have pursued ever since we came into politics. Those of us who entered Parliament at the commencement of the political Labour movement, some twenty years ago, knew that we were a pioneering party; we were not looking for coalitions in order to get into a Government, but we were standing for principles which we knew would stand the test of time. And when the time did come, in 1909, when every phase of Conservative thought combined in one phalanx to crush out the Labour party, what was the result? In 1910, because of their inconsistency and violation of every political pledge they had made, the Fusion party were swept aside by an honest electorate. I would like to quote to the Prime Minister what the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has said about him at times. If I were so inclined, I could quote what the Treasurer has said about the Prime Minister, and it would be most interesting if I were to quote what the Attorney-General has said about my friend, the Minister of Trade and Customs, Mr. Groom. Most interesting quotations could I give regarding the incapacity, inconsistency, and political shortcomings of those honorable gentlemen, but all the honorable members opposite are delighted nowadays to gather together in a little political coterie, because they need that shelter to protect them individually and collectively. They have no policy, and they never had one.
– You will continue saying that until you believe it.
R.- The Government have wasted a good year, and promise to waste another half year if they can before any useful legislation can be done in Australia.
– We desire to put a stop to the waste.
R. - A young country like this cannot afford to have its legislative machine held up in this way. The Liberal party had no definite policy when they went to the country.
– Hear, hear!
R.- I agree with the honorable member’s “ Hear, hear.” When the Prime Minister was asked for his policy, he said, “ Our business is to put the Government out.”
– And we did.
R. - And from that day onwards the people of Australia have regretted it. They put the Labour Government out, and they had their opportunity to put forward a policy. If they had had any, would they not have submitted it to Parliament? If they believed, as was alleged by some individuals, that the Labour Government was corrupt, would they not have set to work to cleanse that corruption and establish themselves by new legislation that would have won the admiration and support of the people of Australia ? But, instead, they manufactured through the press organs a false cry that the people of Australia were corrupt, that the electorate was corrupt, and they said that they were going to cure it. From that moment the legislative machine stopped owing to lack of leadership and want of policy on the part of the present Government. There has been no attempt to bring forward ameliorative or reform legislation.
– What is your policy ?
R. - The policy that was expressed at Maryborough, and that will be supplemented later on. The other night I gave a part of our policy, when the Prime Minister wantonly, or mischievously, or through careless reading, gave a garbled account of it.
– Do you still adhere to your policy of Dreadnoughts, as expressed in the Maryborough speech - yes or no?
.- The time of the honorable member for Wide Bay has expired.
– My friend has been enjoying himself for the last half-hour, but, as usual, has said absolutely nothing, except to repeat the same old statements that have done such good duty for him throughout the country time and again, and which make up for his policy bankruptcy. I defy any honorable member of the Opposition to tell me what their policy is as a practical policy for a legislative assembly. What is their policy outside the referenda? What is their policy, except to tear the heart out of the Constitution, except to strangulate the States, except to effectuate Socialism pure and unadulterated throughout Australia ?I am waiting to hear that policy put into concrete shape. Just as when you get into a lunatic asylum, the first man greets you with the cry that every one is insane but himself, so this cry of want of policy comes from an individual who has no policy of his own to propound - I mean a policy of a practical character. Policy of spoliation? Yes. Policy of States’ strangulation ? Yes. A practical, working, developmental policy for Australia? Emphatically, no. The people will look in vain on their programme for any scintilla of policy of that kind.
When I ask my friend to tell us what his policy is to-day, he goes back to four years ago, and to what his party did then. He tells us that they paid for the Navy out of revenue. But who found the money to pay for that Navy? Who made the arrangement with the States which poured fourteen odd millions extra into their coffers? Who left the coffers well filled? My friends have told their tale about the country until they actually believe it, but the simple facts will take only a few minutes to recall. While we left the Labour Government a nominal deficit of £450,000, we had made the arrangement that gave them £15,000,000 extra in three years.
h. - Then why did you seek to borrow £3,500,000 for Defence purposes ?
– Because then we had not concluded the arrangement with the States which gave you £15,000,000.
– You had.
– We had not received any of the money.
– You had.
K.- Let me remind the Leader of the Opposition that the Treasurer on that occasion told the House that that £3,500,000 would not be borrowed if the revenues were sufficient to meet the expenditure on naval defence.
The revenues were sufficient, thanks to our arrangement with the States, an arrangement with which the Leader of the Opposition would never have agreed, and which he denounced, declaring that the States could not expect to have anything like that amount given to them. After denouncing the arrangement we made, he came into possession of it in all its glory, beneficence, and affluence, and after he had spent that money and raised the expenditure of the Commonwealth by 100 per cent, in three years, it rested with the present Government to put a scotch in the wheel of extravagance and ineptitude. As we are going to have straight talk, we had better have a little of it now. Last year, with all our disabilities, with all our lack of power here and in the Senate, and with all our difficulties in this House, the cost of government increased by per cent. only.
– The increased expenditure is £1,800,000. You have spent nearly all the surplus this party left you.
K.- Wait until the year has closed. After meeting all the obligations you put on us, and without imposing any more taxation on the people, we shall meet next year with a solid surplus, not one-halfpenny of which would be in the Treasury if my friend the Leader of the Opposition had been in control of the finances.
One other fact or two. The Leader of the Opposition, in his last financial year, received in revenue £2,000,000 more than his estimate. This year we have something like three-quarters of a million less than last year.
– That is like your way of doing things - always having less.
K.- With the revenue three-quarters of a million less than that of last year, we have governed the country, and yet shall leave a substantial surplus without any additional taxation having been imposed. My friend opposite, notwithstanding that he had £15,000,000 left to him by the arrangement we made with the States, and that the land tax gave him over £4,000,000, making in all nearly £20,000^,000 in the shape of increased revenue in the three years, could only save £2,600,000. And how did he save this £2,600,000? He left us to pay nearly £1,000,000 worth of naval liabilities which did not happen to fall due on the 30th June, but which be came due immediately afterwards. Also he left us with other obligations which we have had to meet.
– Will you permit me to ask a question of the Treasury officer who is in attendance ?
K. - Certainly.
– Very well. You said “ a million of liabilities in July.”
K.- I did not say it exactly. Honorable members mav laugh and guffaw as much as they please. I am giving the broad facts. What has the Leader of the Opposition ascertained from the Treasury official ?
– I would like the Treasurer to put the question to the official. I would like to say what the officer told me, but I am not at liberty to do so.
K. - I make the statement once more that the late Government received in three years additional revenue to the amount of £20,000,000.
– There is a considerable amount of conversation amongst honorable members and interjections rendering it impossible for the Prime Minister to proceed.
– Ministers have been accused of making statements through the country which are slanders, and outrageously untrue, but when I get up to reply to them honorable members come at me as usual howling like a lot of dingoes.
– What eloquent language !
K.- It is suitable for an Opposition behaving in such a way. The fact remains that with no additional taxation, and with a falling revenue, we have met and discharged all the obligations which the Labour Government left for us to meet, amounting to £4,000,000 sterling, and we shall finish up in spite of that with a surplus of £1,000,000 in the Treasury.
Let me refer to one or two of the obligations left to us by the Fisher Government. Reference has been made to the Northern Territory. Our obligation there has been a very severe one. We have had to completely revolutionize the methods of dealing with the Territory. We have had to adopt a different kind of administration, and my honorable colleague has a scheme ready which, I believe, will assist development in a way that has not yet been attempted. We found that our predecessors had no policy except one of squandering from day to day, without knowing in the slightest degree what was to be done next.
Then the Leader of the Opposition says, ‘ ‘ We laid the transcontinental railway.” After an official opening, one at each end, they laid 8 or 9 miles in ten months. On the other hand, although there has been a strike for three months, we have laid 160 or 170 miles during our year of office.
– Plans had to be drawn, and the work started when we were in power.
K. - Does not the honorable member think that it would have been better to postpone the presentation of gold spades until the work was started? They did the same with the railway as they did with the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney. Twelve months ago the Leader of the Opposition, in the middle of an electoral campaign, laid the foundation stone for a building for the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, and the workmen have hot yet finished excavating rock from the foundation. Would it not have been better to finish the excavations for the site before laying tEe foundation stone? Of course, we know that an election was pending, and that the advertisement was needed, all the arrangements being hurried so that the advertisement could be obtained for use at the election. We are charged with maladministration, and have been slandered in every direction, although we have had to come after the Fisher Government, to do the real work which they neglected to do. They have had all the limelight, and now the Labour party are blaming us for shouldering the burden, and paying the piper.
– We have had no banquets.
K.- And no gold spades. Not so much as a silver trowel is left for us. We have had nothing but the real steel spades.
– You have been good to the contractors.
h. - What about Teesdale Smith ?
– He is a great friend of the Prime Minister.
K.- I have never met Mr. Teesdale Smith, but I believe that he has given to the Government a better return than was given to the Fisher
Administration by day labour at the Capital.
– That does not say much for the telephone tunnels which the honorable member had constructed in Sydney by day labour.
K.- Like the rest of the political mushrooms which have sprung up in the night time, the honorable member affects to know more about what took place years ago than those know who were concerned in it at the time. I tell my honorable friends that the policy of this Government is to get work done to the best advantage of the country, whether by day labour or by contract. We are wedded to no scheme, and to no theory. We will do whatever is best for the country. Every one knows that where work can be carried out simply it is better to do it by contract than by day labour. The construction of the telephone tunnels referred to does not disprove that statement. We took over all the liabilities of the Fisher Government, and having footed the bill, we shall show a surplus a.t the end of the year.
The statement that we havespent millions more than the last Government, is a mere canard, which is being circulated throughout the country without justification.
– How many men are nowworking at the Federal Capital ?
K.- I believe as many as ever were there, and they are working under better conditions than were given by the last Government. They are getting better wages and better treatment, and are being better dealt by. If honorable members are not disposed to take my word for that statement, let them ask Mr. Rosser, who, I believe, is secretary to one of their big organizations in Sydney. He says that he could not get any satisfaction from the Fisher Administration, and did not succeed in getting any until I came on the scene. Honorable members do not like facts, because facts are fatal to them and to their propaganda.
– It is easily seen that you are dying, Joe.
K.- Honorable members opposite desire my political death, but I defy them to hasten on the death scene. We are ready to face our chances at the earliest moment, if they will permit us to do so. The sooner the better, we say.
We have been told that we have no policy with which to go to the country. Do honorable members opposite suggest that the enlightened electors of Australia are fools? To suppose that they would return to power a party which had no policy is to reflect on the intelligence of the people, and a slander upon them.
– The majority of the electors voted against the Liberals.
K. - We are told that we have no majority, but if that is so, why are we in power?
– I do not wish to tate extreme steps at this juncture; but, although I have repeatedly called for order, honorable members pay no attention. If this continues I shall have to name an honorable member on each side, because on each side honorable members are interjecting in approval or disapproval of the statements of the Prime Minister in a manner that is intolerable. I trust that henceforward the debate will be allowed to proceed in an orderly way.
– I had nointention of making this speech until I heard the Leader of the Opposition using language which is not customary with him. He accused us of almost all the crimes in the calendar, and I thought it well, therefore, to make a reply to some of his statements at once. He said that we are here, not only without a policy, but without a majority. Then why does he not put us out? If he has a policy and a majority, what are we doing in office? Are my honorable friends a lot of feeble nincompoops ?
– The Prime Minister must withdraw that expression.
– I do so; but in saying that we have no policy and no majority, and yet allowing us to govern the country during a period of twelve months, they justify the use of that expression outside.
– We have let you do it.
K.- Honorable members opposite will let us do what they cannot prevent us from doing, and what we can do in spite of them. They have done their very best, during the past twelve months, to put an end to our administration of public affairs. Although they say that they have a majority and a policy, and are the financial brains of the country, the fact remains that we are about to have a double dissolution, and this Government, after administering the affairs of the country under great odds for twelve months, are still on the Treasury bench, and controlling the places of power. Are not these simple facts a reply to the rodomontade we have heard? Clearly we have a majority in this House. If it were otherwise, we should not have remained in power for one day. Why did the right honorable member for Wide Bay leave office if he had a majority? Was he merely acting a part when he advised that I should be asked to undertake the burdens and obligations of this position ? With a divided Lower House, and with our opponents in a large majority in the Senate, we had a right to expect that he would give us some help in meeting the obligations put upon us in the carrying on of the King’s Government until we could appeal to the country again to redress the balance of parties in Parliament. Have we ever received one fraction of help from the other side? Have they not tried, from the very first moment, to prevent us doing our duty to the country ? If ever the times called for patriotic, self-sacrificing effort they did twelve months ago. No Government has ever succeeded to office in modern times under such adverse conditions - with such tremendous difficulties confronting them. We have had no help from honorable members opposite, and we have nothing to thank them for. We are here to-day; and, although we have not been able to carry out our programme as we should have wished, we have succeeded in governing this country, in economizing its finances, and in putting some efficiency into the various Departments. There is a great deal yet to do, and we cannot do what we would like for lack of legislation. We cannot even administer effectively until we get more legislation to permit us to do so. A great deal requires doing, and we have not been permitted to do it; but we have done something. After meeting all the commitments of honorable members opposite, and stopping the policy of spend and squander that had gone on for three years, we shall finish this year with the Departments in an infinitely more efficient condition, and with a good round surplus in the Treasury to boot. And all this without a majority and without a policy, as honorable members opposite say.
– Indeed, without a policy !
K.- It is not a bad record for a Ministry said to be without a sufficient following. Do not misunderstand my language. I am replying now to the statement that we have not a majority.
– A very small one !
K.- And I am thankful for it.
– I am sure the Prime Minister is !
K.- It is most comforting. We could not have done anything in this House without the solid, loyal, and undeviating support of the party behind us.
– The country is governed by the casting vote of the Speaker.
K.- May I tell the honorable member why that is? It is because, in the unparalleled circumstances of difficulty, the ex-Speaker declined to continue in his office. That was another evidence of lack of patriotism in a time of great national difficulty.
– The Prime Minister’s time has expired.
.- The Prime Minister told us that the present Government came into office in a time of great difficulty that was not anticipated. The present Government came into office with an overflowing treasury, and about £2,653,000 in cash, after everything had been paid that could be paid; and this fact has been admitted by the Treasurer, and testified to by the Attorney-General. The Prime Minister, in a prior speech, told us that we had exhausted our policy - that we had passed every piece of legislation that could be passed on the policy we laid before the country. Where were the difficulties of the present Government? The Prime Minister made a statement that he ought not to have made. When he was asked why he entered into the arrangement made by the Fusion party in 1909 with the States, if it were unfair, and would give too much revenue to the Commonwealth, and why the Government required the Naval Loan Bill, he said they had not entered into the agreement when that Bill was passed; and he maintained that to the last. What are the facts?
k. - Let us have the facts. The right honorable member is barking up the wrong tree, as usual.
– The Naval Loan Bill and the Surplus Revenue Bill were both assented to on the 13th December, 1909.
– One question more - When did this agreement commence to operate ?
R.- Will the honorable gentleman allow me? Before Parliament met the agreement was entered into between the States and the Government of which the present Prime Minister was a member. Every State agreed to it, and it was known exactly what contribution would be given under it. That Government had an overwhelming majority in each House, and they knew exactly what the position would be before the session commenced, or just afterwards.
– Does the right honorable member not know that the whole thing had to go to the country? Does he or does he not know ?
R. - Go to the country! We opposed the Naval Loan Bill, and the Government said they required it whether there was the agreement or not. They never suspected that it would be turned down - not in the remotest degree did they expect that the agreement would not be entered into.
– Oh, nonsense!
R.- The honorable member for Wimmera is smiling, and little wonder, for he was there, and knows the facts.
– How many did it win by, as it was?
R.- Why does the Prime Minister not admit that he made a mistake?
– I have made no mistake, and the right honorable member is barking up the wrong tree.
R. - The Prime Minister said that he did not know what his obligations would be - that he did not even know that the Surplus Revenue Bill would be passed.
– Quite true.
R. - It was introduced and passed before the other Bill ; and the facts are staring us in the face.
– And the facts prove what I say.
s. - If you are both agreed, what is the good of arguing?
– There is a little thing called consistency that becomes men in our position.
– Are you not both agreed as to the dates?
R.- Yes; but the Prime Minister emphatically said that when they introduced the Loan Bill they did not know about the Surplus Revenue Bill that would give to them the extra revenue.
– I said that I did not then know that that money would be available to us.
R.- He said that they got ever so much more money than they expected to get. They had a majority in each House, and they thought they had a majority in the country, because the States were behind them. Remember that there was a combination, or Fusion, in this Parliament, and a combination of every State of- the Commonwealth against the Labour party, standing alone. The Government never in their wildest dreams thought that the people of Australia would turn them down; and yet the Prime Minister says that he did not expect the Government would get this money. He expected to get all the money, and also the £3,500,000 under the Loan Bill.
– Do not say that.
R. - I hope I am not unjust to the Prime Minister.
– The right honorable member is unjust, and incorrect, too.
R. - I can assure the honorable gentleman that I am not wilfully incorrect, but merely endeavouring to state the facts. No one can put a case better than can the Prime Minister, but I am stating historical facts. The Government anticipated that they would get this revenue under the agreement; and, when we went to the country, we, as a Labour party, refused under any circumstances to pledge the credit of the Commonwealth in time of peace for war purposes. We resisted that Loan Bill to the uttermost, but with our small numbers we could not prevent it passing. As we know, the Labour party were returned with a majority in both Houses, and one of the first acts of their Government was to wipe out the Loan Bill. I hope that no Government in the Commonwealth, except in a time of war or dangerous emergency, will draw on our loan resources for the purposes of defence. These resources ought to be left as a reserve to meet desperate occasions.
– The right - honorable gentleman would rather tax the people out of existence?
R.- Listen to the Treasurer ! He prefers loans, and the placing; of the burden on posterity.
– The right honorable gentleman, as Prime Minister, borrowed for railways, for buying land, and all sorts of things.
R.- The right honorable gentleman has missed the position; I am now dealing with defence.
– The right honorable gentleman spoke of my desiring to put the burden on posterity.
R.- Yes, for the purposes of defence. I do not wish to misunderstand or misrepresent the Treasurer. I have explained that the policy of the Labour party is that, except in time of war or emergency, we shall not draw on our loan resources for defence purposes. This we have laid down as a definite and distinct policy.
– Then the people will have to be taxed very heavily.
R.- The Treasurer still clings to the policy of borrowing, and in that he is consistent. However, I need not go into that matter further.
– I suppose the right honorable gentleman wishes to tax the people very heavily in order to spend millions on Naval Bases? Why does the right honorable gentleman not say “yes,” if that is what he means?
R. - I have explained again and again that whatever expenditure is necessary for the protection of the country in ordinary times, it should be met out of annual revenue.
– Here is a question which tests the whole sincerity of the right honorable gentleman’s statement, Is he prepared to tax the people to pay for all these Naval Bases?
R.- Yes. If the Prime Minister puts that as an honest, straightforward question.
– I do.
R. - Whatever is necessary for ordinary defence purposes should be debited to the annual revenues. That is my position.
– And direct taxation imposed for it.
R. - I have to beware of honorable gentlemen like the Prime Minister.
– No, the right honorable member’s statement is plain enough. It is that he would build all the Naval Bases out of revenue.
e. - On a peace basis.
– For instance, the Prime Minister might ask whether we would purchase Cockatoo Island out of revenue ?
R.- Yes. I regard Cockatoo Island as a transferred property.
– I was thinking of the bases at Cockburn Sound and Flinders.
R.- Perhaps so. The Prime Minister’s supporters have stated from time to time that during our period of office the public indebtedness of the Commonwealth was increased by some £20,000,000. Is not the honorable gentleman aware that during our term of office we reduced, instead of increased, the indebtedness of the Commonwealth?
– We reduced the Northern Territory loans.
R. - Yes. In an official statement, signed by Mr. Allen, Secretary to the Treasury, and dated 20th March, 1913 - just before we left office - we have the following statement as to the actual indebtedness of the Commonwealth -
The public debt of the Commonwealth is as follows : -
The Northern Territory and Port Augusta railway loans, as honorable members know, were raised by South Australia, and were transferred to the Commonwealth on the transfer of the Territory to us. The responsibility for paying them was then assumed by the Commonwealth. They were not originated by a Commonwealth Government. In answer to the Prime Minister’s statement that our policy is to tear the heart out of the Constitution, I would draw attention to the fact that the High Court is at present engaged in a struggle with the Constitution, that the Prime Minister and his supporters tell the people that they are being robbed by extortionate prices, and that the toiling masses, through their organizations, are destroying the wealth of the country. And yet we have the spectacle of the National Parliament, which sees the Courts debarred from dealing with various disputes, and the Commonwealth Government powerless to prevent the spoliation of the people by trusts and combines, proposing, through the Government of the day, not to raise a hand to enable the people of Australia to protect themselves. I have asked the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to allow the Referenda Bills passed by another place to be put through this House and submitted to the people, in order that they may determine whether or not the Constitution shall be so amended as to invest this Parliament with certain necessary powers. The honorable gentleman has replied in the negative. He declines to give the people an opportunity to say whether or not the Constitution should be amended.
– The Labour party asked them twice to agree to amendments of the Constitution, and they have been turned down twice.
R.- That serves only to show our courage and consistency.
– Not at all. You have had two butts at the people; any old ram could do that.
R.- What right has the honorable member for Werriwa and his colleagues opposite to deny to the people of Australia another opportunity to say whether or not the Constitution should be amended?
– Because I do not believe that the people are as changeable as the right honorable member seems to think they are.
R.- Then the honorable member arrogates to himself the right to say whether the people shall be allowed to speak in this matter. He will not allow them to speak for themselves. The Referenda Bills are coming down to us from another place, but the Prime Minister will not take them up, and will not allow the people concerned - the people who suffer - to say whether or not they desire the proposed amendments of the Constitution. I take the view that the Government and their supporters are afraid that the Democracy of Australia would answer in the affirmative the questions submitted to them. What a grand opportunity is going to be lost ! The Prime Minister asked my colleagues and myself, after we had been told that there was to be a double dissolution, to allow the Government to pass certain anti-Trust legislation. I assented at once. Directly the honorable gentleman mentioned the matter, I said that we would do everything possible to facilitate the passing of legislation considered necessary to protect the interests of the public. But the Government know as well as we do that this Parliament, having regard to its present limited powers under the Constitution, cannot pass any legislation that will protect the people as they should be pro-‘ tected. The Government will not afford the people another opportunity to decide these matters for themselves. I am not a native-born Australian, but it is humiliating to me to find young Australians unprepared to raise a hand to protect themselves, although they know what is taking place in other countries, and are aware that Australia is being invaded by foreign trusts and combines with octopuslike powers. The Prime Minister has asked for our policy. He has misquoted the statement I made at Maryborough on the question of the Tariff. Does he desire to have that statement repeated again .
– Oh, yes; let us have it.
R. - It stands, clear, definite, and distinct.
– Until the honorable member and his party get into office.
R.- Whilst we were in office, we kept our pledges.
– But never touched the Tariff.
R.- We did. We declared at the previous election that we desired the Constitution to be so amended as to enable the Parliament to do justice to the worker and consumer as well as to the manufacturer.
– And the Hobart Conference repeated that, and it stands to-day. Is that not so?
R.- The Hobart Conference did not restrict our action in any way.
– It did.
d. - The Prime Minister knows nothing- at all about the matter.
– A mere assertion by the Prime Minister does not prove anything.
– The facts are to be found in the report itself.
R. - The Prime Minister asked me a question, and I have given him a direct answer. We said in out statement of policy that if the referenda questions, which were then to be submitted a second time, were carried, we should provide for the new Protection; but that even if they were not affirmed we should still take an early opportunity to give effective Protection to Australian industries. That was our policy, clear, direct, and clean-cut, and that is our policy to-day, so far as the Tariff is concerned. The rest of our policy is too well-known to need recapitulation. I have laid bare the Prime Minister’s inconsistency and the inaccuracy of his statement regarding his Loan Bill and his financial policy. I have now only to point out that he and his Treasurer inherited from the Labour Government a surplus of £2,653,000, and that during their first year of office they have spent not only their anticipated income, but a very large proportion of the surplus which they inherited. And this during a normal year.
– The right honorable member knows that this has not been as good a year as last year was.
R. - I. do not deny that. I have not asserted anything that is not a fact. The Treasurer, after practising, as he tells us, great economy, and after withholding, as I think, public works-
– We have spent on public works more than was spent last year.
R.- After practising great economy, as he says, the Treasurer has spent, during his twelve monthsof office, not only all his revenue, but about £1,300,000 of the surplus which he inherited from the Labour Administration.
– He spent about £1,819,000 of the surplus.
R. - But I am allowing for a falling off of £350,000 in respect of the Customs revenue to which the Treasurer has referred. I am making a most liberal allowance.
– We have spent on public works this year about £800,000 more than the Labour Government spent during the previous financial year.
R. - The Government could very well do that since they had a large surplus to work upon.
– But our revenue was nearly £500,000 less than the right honorable member received during his last year of office.
R. - Then the Treasurer spent more, and got less.
– The right honorable gentleman ought to congratulate us.
d. - The present Treasurer got less, spent more, and yet secured a bigger result.
– This is all very interesting, but the outstanding fact is that if the Treasurer had inherited one of those useful little deficits about which the Prime Minister spoke so fluently, he would have been in a very different position. It is just as well that the people should understand the position occupied in this respect by the right honorable gentleman. Coming now to the Commonwealth Bank business, I think that the Prime Minister, in his references to the opening of the Kalgoorlie railway, and to the laying of the foundation stone of the Commonwealth Bank premises, took up a position unworthy of the Prime Minister of Australia.
– That goes without saying.
R. - I did not make one suggestion to the Governor of the Bank as to when or how the foundation stone should be laid. No suggestion was made to him on the part of my Government. I was asked in the ordinary way by the Governor of the Bank to lay the foundation stone.
– I did not say anything to the contrary.
R.- But did not the right honorable member infer something to the contrary ?
– Yes, for election purposes.
R.- The honorable member now says that he did not say anything to the contrary, but we know that he skimmed along with expressions which suggested that it was the act of the Government, whereas it was the act of the Governor of the Bank. We took care when appointing Mr. Denison Miller to be Governor of the Commonwealth Bank not to interfere with him in any way there. The bank has been a success, and that accounts for the chagrin of honorable members opposite. I am not allowed to speak of their hypocrisy, but I may refer to their insincerity in this matter. They said that the Commonwealth Bank would be unpopular, and, therefore, it ought not to be established, but now that it has been a success, the Government have not the courage to defend it, and the Prime Minister merely says that the bank was established for political purposes prior to an election. That shows the inconsistency of honorable members; one day they say one thing, and on the next day another thing. They are speaking only for the moment, and not dealing with the policy of the country. Regarding the construction of the transcontinental railway, honorable members claim that the Labour Government laid only a few miles of rails, whilst they have laid a much greater length. They omit to mention the fact that all the preparatory work had been done for them. One does not commence the building of a railway by the laying of rails. When the present Government took control, they found the machines to hand and the rails ready to lay, and that the road had been partly made for them. The laying of the rails is the cheapest part of railway construction, but the Government boast, “ Oh, we laid down more rails than you.”
– Give us credit for something.
R. - I am not denying it, but it is paltry of honorable members opposite to say that they laid so many morerails than the Labour Government laid.
– You know that you were very slow, and I suppose that you regretted that.
R. - We were not slow. We had the money, but we wanted to expend! it in the best possible way, without waste. It has always been in my mind that we made a mistake in not breaking in at a point along the Bight, and running up a temporary railway, which would have enabled us to have carried on construction from both ends. Do honorable members realize what it means to have two or three millions of money lying idle in a railway which is not being used ? It would have paid us to have incurred the expenditure on a temporary line, so that we might have made another start, and saved time in the building of the line. We have lost in interest and depreciation far more than can be imagined. But there are few people with minds big enough to grasp the possibilities of Australia. There are very few people who can really contemplate what this great country will be. We want men who, though strenuous supporters of a party, will recognise that there are some -questions which are far above party considerations. The opening up of Australia from north to south, and from east to west, whether by water or by land, is a national duty, and the mere fact that we expend a few millions on such work does not matter. The credit of the country can be safely pledged, because, not only does the railway represent an asset for the actual amount expended, but that asset increases in value as the years go by, and, therefore, such expenditure is proper.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to refer to a few matters that have been touched upon by the honorable member for Wide Bay.
y. - Are you “ stone-walling “ this measure ?
– The honorable member’s leader commenced the “ stonewalling,” and I am sorry that he did not give me notice, so that I could have prepared a few facts with which to answer him. The Leader of the Opposition stated that we came into an overflowing Treasury, and took over a surplus of £2,600,000. The reply is a simple one. We came into a Treasury which had been made overflowing to repletion by an Act of our own the benefits of which we were not allowed to enjoy. I have published to the country already the commitments which were left to us to the value of four million pounds sterling. Four million pounds of debts, and £2,600,000 in the bank! Would honorable members call that a surplus or not? Now, in regard to the transcontinental railway, the Leader of the Opposition said, “ Look at what we did. All the present Govern ment have done is nothing. We did the preparatory work; we laid the foundations. One has not to consider how many miles have been laid.” May I say that I think the expenditure of public money is the test, and I find that when we caine into office the late Government had spent in three years £606,000 on the railway. During this year alone we have spent £1,340,000 on the railway. Those figures speak for themselves. Now, let me clear up this little matter of the Naval Loan Bill. I made a statement in this chamber that when we introduced that Bill we were not aware whether the extra money from the States would be available. I repeat that statement now, and a fact which the right honorable gentleman carefully concealed from the Committee, I will give to the Committee. It is that the Braddon clause did not expire until a full year after the Naval Loan Bill had been submitted to Parliament. We had to immediately go to election, and we had to take that referendum with us before any one could say whether the agreement would be ratified, and whether a farthing would be derived from it.
– The referendum had nothing to do with the payment of 25s. The only question at issue was the period for which the payment was to be made.
K.- Does not the honorable member know that this matter was submitted to the country?
– I do, but the difference between you and us was as to whether the payment should be for ten years or for all time.
K.- The honorable member knows that we had ordered those ships before the Labour Government took office at all. We had ordered the ships, and agreed to the scheme, and we left our successors the money with which to pay for them - fifteen millions of money.
– You left a deficit of £400,000 odd in the Treasury.
K.- Quite true, and my honorable friend and his leader increased that deficit to £1,100,000 before the end of the year. Do not forget that, please. In December of that year there was a deficit of £1,100,000, which the Labour Government had built up from the deficit of £450,000 which we had left.
– The Fisher Government left a surplus of £400,000 when they went out of office on that occasion.
K.- Of course, and we had to meet extra expenditure that year of £1,800,000. How was it made up ? In trying to cover the laches of previous years - £580,000 for defence alone. £380,000 for the Postal Department, £450,000 for old-age pensions. That is what made the deficit of that last year, and that deficit was incurred in view of the altered arrangement which was being proposed, and by which our successors received fifteen millions of extra revenue. Those are the facts, and it is time to repeat them when the honorable member for Wide Bay repeats the stale old story that the Labour Government paid for the Navy and did everything else out of revenue.
– So we did.
K.- Quite true, but let honorable members tell the country that we replenished the coffers for them, and filled them to overflowing) and all the money we provided for them, £15,000,000 of extra revenue, in addition to the four and a half million pounds which they themselves raised, they spent. They had a high old time, and left us £4,000,000 worth of commitments when they quitted office. Please remember that.
Meanwhile, my statement stands clear and unchallengeable, that when we introduced the Naval Loan Bill we had not the remotest certainty that we would get one penny from the new arrangement then being made, and the Braddon clause did not expire until fully twelve months after the agreement had been made, and the obligation had been incurred. What foolishness it is, therefore, with these facts on record, for the right honorable gentleman to try to bamboozle the people of the coun try, and make them believe that, with all this revenue flowing in, we deliberately introduced the Naval Loan Bill. That is one of those half-lies which is worse than a whole one. It is more misleading and more difficult to catch up, and that is why I have taken time now to prick that little bubble.
– Nevertheless, the facts remain.
K.- And the facts contradict the statements made by the honorable member’s leader two minutes ago.
I am glad to hear a statement from my right honorable friend, that, whatever conies in the future, he will not borrow money for the construction of naval bases. That leads me to say that nothing is more certain under Heaven than that, if he succeeds to power after the ensuing appeal to the country, he must at once begin to impose additional heavy taxation upon the people. That is the alternative, and that is the position made clear by the right honorable member’s statement to-day. He cannot otherwise finance this country, no man can; no financial genius in the world could carry on the commitments of this Government, give effect to the legislation which has been passed, and pay for the naval bases and other capital works of that kind, out of the revenue of this country, without further heavy taxation of the people.
– We will have to cut the defence scheme down.
y. - Hear, hear !
– I welcome that statement. I hope that the country is taking note of it. But does that statement represent the views of the honorable member’s leader?
– It represents my views.
K. - The views of how many honorable members, I wonder. Is it the view of the majority? Because I should like the country to know that honorable members opposite intend to put the knife into the defence scheme.
– Hear, hear! You have a few on your own side who are not too sure about it.
K.- The Leader of the Opposition has left the chamber, but I wish to ask him a question and place it on record. I wish to know what difference there is between constructing a Naval Base at Cockburn Sound out of revenue and buying one at Cockatoo Island out of loan moneys? When the right honorable gentleman bought his Naval Base in Sydney he did not pay for it out of revenue. What difference is there between erecting a dock at Fremantle and purchasing a dock in Sydney? The former has to be paid out of taxation - the right honorable gentleman says he will not borrow for it - and the other out of loan moneys for which we have to find the interest year by year. Could inconsistency go further ? The right honorable gentleman practically says to-day, “ We will not allow you to construct Naval Bases out of loan moneys, but wait until we get in, and then, behind the back of Parliament, as we did last time, we shall break faith with Parliament, and shall contract loan obligations to pay for them.” That is the position of honorable members opposite. I can appeal to the honorable member for Dalley in this matter. It was he who told his party that they had broken faith with Parliament in this very transaction. Not only did they break faith with Parliament, but they also’ left the dock at Cockatoo Island a perpetual loan obligation, which the present Government has to meet year by year, while, apparently, it has to begin to reconstruct the dock into the bargain.
Another point made by the Leader of the Opposition was that the Labour Government paid off so many loans during their term of office. Where did they get the money with which to do so? They incurred a debt of £9,000,000 in the shape of notes which they circulated. Honorable members may laugh, but for every note issued there is the obligation to find a sovereign. What honorable members did was to raise a forced loan without paying for it in order to pay off those other loans.
– It was very clever.
K. - It was very clever. Anybody could do it. I could take out of the honorable member’s pocket, if he would allow me, the money with which to purchase my dinner upstairs. That is an exact parallel, and is what has been done in this case, and the fact that honorable members did it by law does not alter the basis of the matter one iota.
Then as to trusts. What have honorable members opposite done about trusts? They made one or two feeble attempts to deal with them, always to have their whole efforts recoil on their heads, and if they had the power tomorrow, and were on these benches, they could no more regulate the trusts than they could regulate my backyard. None have such a record behind them in the matter of trusts as have honorable members opposite: Everything they have attempted to do has been feeble, halting, and incapable, and every effort they have made to date has recoiled on their own heads, while the so-called trusts are in existence to-day - flourishing, despite the three years’ efforts of honorable members to control them. To-morrow, if the Labour party got all the power they could wish for, the trusts would still be the same at the end of three years as they are to-day. Honorable members are notout to kill the trusts ; they are only out to use them on the platform. The trust bogy is the greatest friend honorable members have.
– Is it a bogy?
K.- As you dress it up, yes. Your statements are absolutely bogy statements. The difference between the other side and this side in the matter of trusts can be stated in few words. We propose to deal with trusts effectually ; they propose to trade on them, and leave them alone - to do nothing. That is the great distinction between us.
Now just a word about the Tariff. When I said that the matter of effective Protection had been turned down at the Hobart Conference the Leader of the Opposition contradicted me. I am going to read the report of that Conference -
Mr. T. Chesson moved the following resolution, submitted by the Gwalia (Western Australia) District Council : -
That plank No. 2 - New Protection - be amended to read “ effective Protection.”
Mr. Hannan, who seconded the motion, said that in Victoria there was no difficulty in appealing to the people on the question of Protection, but in some of the other States the case was different. A great change, however, had come over the people of New South Wales since Federation on the question of Protection, and he believed that the Labour party could now appeal successfully to the people of that State on the subject of effective Protection, provided that the speakers could convince the workers that it would improve industrial conditions.
Mr. Watson said he spoke as one who had advocated Protection all along, and he did not think they were justified in disturbing the present plank. The plank of “ New Protection “ was adopted, and, personally, he did not want much of the old idea of Protection for the manufacturer only. To ask the people of Australia to make sacrifices to encourage industries that did not pay fair wages did not appeal to him. If the constitutional amendments were carried they would be able to scientifically adjust the relations of the workers to the manufacturing industries.
If that means anything at all it means that there was to be no effective Protection until the referenda were carried.
– You. are reading that into the report.
K. - One can put no other construction upon it. This report proceeds -
Senator Givens disagreed with Mr. Watson. Their present Tariff was a mere revenue-raising machine, and for such a system he had no time. They could not have the new Protection unless they had the old Protection. They must have the industries here before they started to regulate their conditions. He would rather have Free Trade than a mongrel revenueraising Tariff such as existed.
Fairly, therefore, he was for Protection and Mr.Watson was not.
Mr. Fisher pointed out the difference between new Protection and effective Protection. Victoria, before Federation, had the effective Protection, but it did not affect the workers as did the new Protection which was advocated by the Labour party. Labour stood for a fair and reasonable wage, and an industry that would not pay that did not deserve to stand. If the referendums were carried, effect would be given to fair and reasonable wages in industry.
I am not prepared to say what the attitude of Mr. Fisher was. I defy any one to gather it from that sentence.
Mr. Lamond thought it was rather late in the day to discuss the old Protection. New Protection stood now as a definite brand of Labour Protection, and he hoped the Conference would adhere to the policy of new Protection.
Mr. Elmsliegave his adhesion to the new Protectionist policy; but before they could put this policy into effect they must alter the Constitution. He wanted to know, would it not be possible to give more Protection to industries requiring it where wages boards or arbitration awards were in existence f It would be a fair thing to increase the duties where fair wages were being paid.
Mr. Carey moved an amendment to make the motion read “ effective new Protection.”
The motion and amendment were defeated.
I say, therefore, that the Hobart Conference deliberately turned down a proposition for effective Protection and decided to retain in their platform, as is the case to-day, “ new Protection “ and nothing else, new Protection as distinct from old Protection. And the speakers at that Conference said, “ You cannot get new Protection unless you get the referenda.”
– Come to the Maryborough speech.
K.- I am coming to that. Senator Pearce also said, on the 26th September, 1912-
As a party they have deliberately refused to place Protection upon their official platform unless it be accompanied by the new Protection. To that plank every member of the party ispledged.
Therefore, every member of the party, as alleged, is not pledged to a Protectionist policy.
– Are all your party pledged to a Protectionist policy?
K.- I do not say it. The statement was made here to-day by the Leader of the Opposition that the Labour party stands like a rock for effective Protection. Senator Pearce says that as a party they have deliberately refused to place Protection on their official platform.
– You know that you are misrepresenting the case.
K- I am not. I shall never satisfy my friend. He disagrees with everything I say. Senator Rae said -
It would be a suicidal policy to grant further concessions to manufacturers until wo have got them sufficiently under the whip to sec that those advantages are distributed throughout the whole community and their employes guaranteed fair wages.
Is Senator Rae in the” rock “ ?
– When was that said?
K.- I treat the honorable member’s queries with contempt.
– There is no date to it.
K- There is a date to every statement I am making. I decline to treat the honorable member seriously. His remarks are one long drawn-out insinuation that I am misrepresenting things.
– So you are.
– The honorable member for Cook is not in order in interjecting so continuously.
– It is hard to refrain when the Prime Minister is going on like this.
.- At any rate, it is not in order to do so, and I intend to carry out the Standing Orders.
– Here is what Mr. Tudor said, speaking on the same matter -
He believed in work being done here, because they could legislate for the conditions under which it was done, but he did not believe in the manufacturer getting his protection at the Customs House, and the worker having to fight every inch of the way for his share.
Then, again, Mr. Tudor said -
The Government would be willing to open up the Tariff when the workmen were safeguarded in precisely the same way as the employers.
– We want that.
K. - Then it is conditional Protection you are after all the while, not unconditional effective Protection ? To continue my quotation of the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra -
Personally, he took the responsibility of saying that if it lay with him alone he would oppose the re-opening of the whole Tariff until the powers of the Commonwealth regarding new Protection had been defined. The Ministry did not wish to repeat the mistake of the past by re-opening the Tariff before the people had given to the Commonwealth the power possessed by the States in industrial matters.
For three years they stood behind that rock wall. At Maryborough, the honorable member for Wide Bay, for electioneering reasons only, threw this policy overboard, and said, “If we cannot get the referendums, we will give Protection without conditions. We offer Protection for your votes, and hang the workers.” But notwithstanding the abandonment of the platform of the Hobart Conference, the people threw over the Labour party. They went to the country with a majority of ten in the House of Representatives, which was the equivalent of a majority of ninety in the House of Commons, and returned in a minority of one. That was the answer of the people to all their protestations.
Now, let me say, in conclusion, as my time has gone, that I would rather lose my position than stay here and be able to do nothing. My statement still stands. This Government will either get on or get out. Honorable members opposite have now their chance to make us get out if they can.
.- It is evident that in the very near future a change in the political situation is considered probable; so much could be learned from the two speeches of the Prime Minister. In these speeches he has not endeavoured to dealwith the proposals for Supply, but has merely presented a case for his appeal to the country.
k. - I had to reply to your leader.
– The honorable member is in this position, that he cannot point to one legislative act for which his
Government is responsible, which is of any material benefit to the people. After twelve months of office, and two sessions of Parliament, nothing has been accomplished .
– Nor anything of importance attempted.
N.- The Prime Minister tells us that we would not permit the Government to do business. Had Ministers genuinely endeavoured to do business, and had they proposed measures for the benefit of the country which could be accepted by both sides, much would have been accomplished. But in the first speech of the Governor-General for which the Prime Minister was responsible, he threw down the gauntlet, leading us to understand that measures which had been placed on the statute-book by the Labour party, and strongly supported by the members of the party, were to be repealed, if possible. How could the Labour party assist the Government under those circumstances ? Having no legislative acts to boast of, the Prime Minister endeavoured to make out a good case by drawing attention to the administration of his Government. He stated that over £1,000,000 had been spent this year on the transcontinental railway, compared with an expenditure of only £600,000 by the Fisher Government. Does he forget that the Liberals, although they talked a great deal about the need for the railway, never endeavoured to pass legislation to bring it about ? It was the Fisher Government which made provision for the construction of the line, and was responsible for its commencement. Every one knows that it takes months of preparation for the actual work of construction when a great undertaking like this hasto be faced. There is a great deal to be got in readiness before large sums can be spent on construction. The Labour Government paved the way for considerable expenditure on the construction of this railway by their successors, and I venture to say that had they remained in power they would have spent more money on the line than this Government have spent. The Prime Minister left it to be inferred that the money spent on the construction of the railway was obtained from revenue, although every one knows that it is loan money, on which interest must be paid. The honorable gentleman should have said that the money was borrowed money. Apparently it did not suit him to say that. In speaking of the Naval Loan Act, he endeavoured to make out a case for himself at the expense of the Labour party. He said that when the Liberals tried to borrow £3,500,000 for the construction of a Navy, the Braddon section was still in force. That was so; but every one knows that the Premiers of the States had agreed with the Commonwealth to accept 25s. per head of population in place of the Customs revenue returned to them by the Commonwealth under the Braddon section. The question referred to the people was, Should the arrangement be embodied in the Constitution ? The people followed the advice tendered by the Labour party. The facts prove that the Naval Loan Act was not passed because of the existence of the Braddon “ Blot.” If the Prime Minister denies this, I ask him to tell us why he and his supporters opposed the repeal of that Act. It was openly advocated by supporters of the present Government that the Navy should be built out of loan money, and they pointed out how a sinking fund had been provided, by which the debt would be extinguished in a given number of years. The Prime Minister endeavours to make it appear that the Labour Government had millions of money placed at their disposal owing to the repeal of the Braddon section. As a matter of fact, there was considerably more revenue, and it was absolutely necessary. He and his Government had been unable to manage the affairs of the Commonwealth on the means at their disposal, and they left for the Labour Government a deficit of over £400,000. There was no money for pressing works of national importance; and whatever Government were returned would have to find additional revenue somewhere. Further, the Prime Minister seeks to make it appear that the Labour Government expended money in an extravagant way; and on a previous occasion went so far as to say that there had been wanton wastefulness. The electors were told that if a Liberal Government were returned there would bo no difficulty in cutting down expenditure, and, with the extra revenue, making ends meet; but the Government and their supporters forgot to tell the people that the Labour Government, amongst other things, liberalized old-age pensions, and introduced invalid pensions - a combination which meant an expenditure of something like £1,500,000 per annum. “With those measures the Government have not attempted to interfere in any way.
– Sons who could well afford it were relieved from assisting their parents.
N.- These pensions should not be a charity. A person who has lived here a certain number of years should be entitled to receive a pension on reaching the statutory age. Again, for years, in relation to the transferred properties, we heard complaints from the States that they could get no justice from the Commonwealth, who had taken over those properties without valuation ; and it was the Labour Government who first dealt out even-handed justice in this connexion. We took over the properties at a valuation of something like £9,000,000, and on this agreed to pay 3½ per cent. Will the Prime Minister, or any of his supporters, tell the country that this was a wrong act, and that they propose either to hand back the properties, or refuse to pay the 3½ per cent. ? They dare not do so; and yet the Prime Minister forgets to mention this and other matters to the electors. The Labour Government had to launch the defence scheme, involving considerable expenditure.
– And did injustice to little boys who could not defend themselves. Solitary confinement !
N.- If the honorable member holds that an injustice has been done to the boys, he ought, during the twelve months he has been in the House as a supporter of the Government, to have taken necessary action to alter the position of affairs. The existence of the Government depended on his vote; and he could well have brought sufficient influence to bear to have his wishes” carried out. It does not come well from him, on the eve of an election, to talk about injustice to the boys. It would be much better if the honorable member and others would remain quiet at this hour of the day. When the Prime Minister talks about the commitments of the Labour Government totalling about £4,000,000, he forgets to say that these commitments extend over a number of years, and are commitments which any ‘ Government would have had to make in connexion with the military, the Navy, and railways. Today the Treasurer has shown that large amounts under these votes have not been expended; but the commitments are there. Supposing we come back on an appeal to the country, we shall find the same commitments facing us as the previous Government found facing them, and the same responsibility for carrying out great national works, such as the construction of the Federal Capital, the building of the railway to it, the completion of the transcontinental railway, the opening up of the Northern Territory, and the carrying on of the defence scheme. The Prime Minister accused us of an intention to knife the defence scheme, because some honorable members on this side said they were prepared to cut down the defence vote. None of us ever said he intended to knife the scheme. All that members on this side said was that where a legitimate reduction of expenditure could be made they were willing to make it. The Government have been telling the country that they would endeavour to cut down defence expenditure ever since they took office. We all applaud that sentiment, but none of us think that keeping the expenditure within legitimate bounds is going to impair the defence system. I am with those who advocate reasonable economy in that direction in the people’s interest, and that is all that we are aiming at. The Prime Minister’s accusation has no foundation in fact. The honorable member also said that we had borrowed £9,000,000 by means of the note issue. I venture to say that the people are proud of the note issue. It is one of the best measures ever placed on the statutebook, and we are in this happy position - that, instead of borrowing like previous Governments did from money-lenders, and paying or 4 per cent, interest, we obtained the money by means of the note issue, and are able to lend it out to the different States, and actually receive interest on it for the benefit of the whole people. That is the difference between the two positions. How can the Prime Minister tell the people that we borrowed £9,000,000 when, as a matter of fact, the money so obtained is returning interest to -the Commonwealth to the extent of between £200,000 and £300,000 per annum ? Under the old system the Government would go to money-lenders on the other side of the world, pay so much for flotation and other expenses, and also per cent, on the whole of the money borrowed. In this case we get the money and receive interest on it, the banks have the use of the notes, which are circulated immediately among the people, and are a convenience to the people, and the people know that with the Commonwealth behind them they are absolutely secure. They know that if ever a crisis comes they can get a sovereign for every pound note they hold. That is one of the best things that has ever been done by the Labour party. The Prime Minister endeavoured to make it appear that the Government had actually been doing good work for the last twelve months, and had made theposition much better for the public. Hesaid the Treasurer had a surplus of £824,304 to show. He may have, but the late Government left for the use of this Government a surplus of £2,643,305.. If in twelve ‘ months they have spent £1.819,000 of that surplus it will take less’ than another six months for the whole of the money left by the Fisher Government to disappear altogether. This Government came in to restore sound and economical government, and that is the way they are doing it. When the people are seized of the facts they will come to the conclusion that the financial geniuses of the Commonwealth are on this and not on that side of the House. Our party came into power, facing a deficit of £400,000, and left a surplus of £2,643,000, of which the Ministerial party in twelve short months have already dissipated £1,819,000, and have only £824,000 left at the end of the financial year. Those figures speak for themselves. They show clearly and convincingly that there is no justification whatever for the cry raised against us that we were wasting money - a cry which deluded many people at the last election into voting for Liberal candidates. The Prime Minister also had something to say with regard to the trusts, but -the Labour Government is the only Government that ever made an effort to. deal with them. In fact, the Ministerial side have always expressed a doubt as to whether trusts really existed in Australia right up to the present moment, but almost every one is now convinced that trusts do exist. The Government have their doubts, and now, at the end of this Parliament, are going to appoint a Royal Commission to make inquiries. If the Commission reports that trusts do exist, the Government will have no power to legislate against them unless our referenda proposals are submitted to the people and carried. Unless the people give it the necessary powers by amending the Constitution, there can be no hope of the National Parliament dealing with trusts, or with many other matters that urgently require attention. The Prime Minister cast doubts on our readiness to bring in a properly protective Tariff in place of the present revenue Tariff, but that is a part of our policy. We proposed to bring in the new Protection for the benefit of the workers and the consumers, but, as we have not the power to do so, owing to the people twice refusing to carry our referenda proposals, we have decided to go in for a protective policy. That will be part of our policy at the forthcoming elections. It comes strangely from the Prime Minister to ask where our policy is, and what we are going to the people on. We are waiting for the Prime Minister’s policy. He has been in office for twelve months, and has not yet shown the people one item of any legislative importance that he is prepared to carry out. He has simply occupied the Treasury bench, doing nothing, and doing it well. The first policy that should be enunciated is that of the Government. It is their duty to take the people into their confidence, and, unless they let the people know very quickly whether they have a policy at all, they will get very short shrift when they go to the polls. It is useless for any party to go before the people making empty promises to which they have no power to give effect. The people cannot be deluded as they used to be. They take too keen an interest in politics nowadays, and cannot be misled by empty promises or excuses. The Labour party stands for getting additional power for the National Parliament. In the absence of that, we still have a bold and effective policy, which will be declared by our leader at the proper time. When it is declared and expounded by all of us from different platforms, the people will know exactly where they are.
They will know which party stands for the best interests of Australia. They know that all the dire evils that were predicted when we were returned to power have not happened, and that during the three years we occupied the Treasury bench things were much better than they have been this year. Even the Treasurer and the Prime Minister admit that the position this year is not as good as it has been in previous years. I remember the time when the right honorable gentleman would have taken up the position that the existence of a Labour Government made the conditions of the country worse than they otherwise would be. In this case, although a Liberal Government has been in power for twelve months, the conditions of the country have been gradually getting worse, the revenue has been falling off, and everything has been going to the bad so far as Ministers are concerned ; and, according to the Prime Minister, it is a further justification for their return to power to follow a like course. I venture to say that the people are not going to be satisfied with that kind of thing, and will not be humbugged. They now realize that in the past they had in power a party who gave effect to their platform, and showed no hesitancy. It is realized now that the Labour party made no excuses, but simply went right ahead with their platform. We gave effect to our views. Notwithstanding what the Prime Minister or any other person may say about increasing the taxation of the people, I assert that the Labour party never imposed an additional burden on the general taxpayer. The only thing we did was to impose a land tax, which fell upon the shoulders of those who were well able to bear the burden. The Liberal party have complained about the Acts which were carried by the Labour party, but they have never mustered up sufficient courage to say they are prepared to repeal those Acts. There is only one honorable member on the other side who has shown that he has courage, and I believe that if the electors should return him again his will will predominate. I refer to the AttorneyGeneral, who has told us plainly that, as far as he is concerned, he would do away with the Maternity Allowance Act. The Treasurer seems to be coming round to that view, for to-day he said that he does not believe in giving the money away to persons who can do without it, practically showing that he is gradually coming round to the view of his colleague. It is just as well for the people to know that there is a danger to be feared, and that is that the maternity allowance, which has done so much good for the mothers of the country, is likely to be taken away, or that, if it be retained, they will have to declare themselves paupers to obtain it. We on this side say that in the hour of need this money must be made available to the mothers of the country, just the same as we make a pension available in certain cases. The maternity allowance is not an act of charity, but is intended to enable the mothers to get proper nursing and medical attention. No Government that endeavours to repeal the Act will be able to obtain the support of the people of this country. I ask the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General to declare openly that they believe either in repealing the Act or in so restricting its operation as to prevent a large number of the women from obtaining this money in the hour of need. If Ministers will not declare their policy in this regard, we shall have to judge them by the statements which have been made from time to time, and we shall be justified in pointing out to the people the danger which they run in this respect. I hope, however, that the Government will muster up sufficient courage to let the people know exactly their platform, and what they intend to do before they appeal to the country. As regards the Labour party, our opponents can rest assured that we shall make our policy clear to the people. We will carry out our platform in its entirety, and anything additional which may be considered necessary will be given effect to. Our object will always be to legislate for the majority of the people, and not for the minority, because the latter are in such a position in this country that they can well look after themselves.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to address a few remarks to the Committee, and I presume that this will be the last Supply Bill we shall have an opportunity of discussing in this Parliar ment. The Treasurer is asking for a grant of £3,060,000. That means that a fourth of the year will have expired before we shall have an opportunity of hearing the right honorable gentleman introduce his Budget or go into the matter. When he introduced his last Budget, he foreshadowed that, after borrowing about £3,000,000, he would just make ends meet. During the last electoral compaign the people were told that the Labour party had been extravagant, that we had estimated to spend in 1912-13 some £21,000,000, which was extravagance, according to our opponents. But when the present Treasurer delivered his Budget we learned that he anticipated to receive about the same revenue, and expected to spend about £24,000,000, and, in addition, to borrow over £3,000,000, which he also proposed to spend. What is the position? Although we defeated the Loan Bill, and compelled the Government to abandon part of their proposals, the right honorable gentleman came down to-day and “admitted that there will be available at the end of the year £1,000,000. I am very glad that the honorable member for Gippsland is present, because I wish to direct his attention to one or two items in this Bill. It will be remembered that when the honorable members on the other side went about the country during the last election, and complained about the administration of the Labour Government, they quoted from a little brochure entitled Tha Financial Carnival, bythe Honorable Joseph Cook, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal party, as he was then, in the House of Representatives. At several places the honorable member for Gippsland stated that he was quoting from the Honorable Joseph Cook, and that under the head of “ contingencies,” a sum of £3,000,000 had not been accounted for. I hope that when our critics go to their constituents shortly they will point out that the Budget which they passed last year contained just the same number of votes for contingencies, and for larger amounts than the Fisher Government had. We were told then that the Government had had no opportunity of dealing with the finances, and, therefore, had had to adopt the proposals left to them by the Labour Government, but in future years there would be an alteration in this regard. What alteration is disclosed in their present proposals? Absolutely none. Items under the head of “ contingencies “ are flourishing in this Bill the same as ever, and so they will continue to appear in every Supply Bill that is introduced. In the coming campaign the honorable member for Gippsland can go down to Mirboo North, Foster, Swan Reach, and other places, and instead of telling his constituents that the Labour Government have not accounted for £3,000,000, under the head of “ contingencies,” and “ miscellaneous,” he can mention that a Supply Bill introduced by the present Treasurer contained a larger amount for “ contingencies “ and “ miscellaneous “ than did any three months’ Supply Bill brought forward by a Labour Government.
– It is all set forth.
– Of course, it is. It will be remembered that we told the people it was all set forth, and that every penny had to be accounted for.
– I never said otherwise.
R.- The right honorable gentleman has admitted that every penny which has ever been expended for the Commonwealth has always been accounted for.
– Yes; the Audit Act requires that to be done.
R.- The Audit Act requires every penny to be accounted for, as the Treasurer admits. During the last general election many fairy tales were told. I shall not say, as was remarked by another honorable member, that they were deliberate misrepresentations, for I think that some made these statements in ignorance. The honorable member for Gippsland, however, will now be able to tell his constituents that he is responsible for the continuance in office of a Government which brought forward a Supply Bill providing for the expenditure of no less than £841,593 under the headings of “ Contingencies “ and “ Miscellaneous.” He is undoubtedly responsible for their remaining in power, since, if he voted against them, they would at once be defeated. I say, as I have often said in thisHouse, that every penny of expenditure under theseheadings must be accounted for, and that every penny of expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth since the inauguration of Federation has been accounted for. Supply Bills and Estimates will be introduced in this House long after we have passed away providing for the expenditure of large sums in respect of “ contingencies “ and miscellaneous items.
– Such items must occur.
R.- Quite so; but at the last Federal election the honorable member for Gippsland made this statement -
Now I will tell you a little about the Labour Government’s financing. Prime Minister’s Department - thousands pounds. A Department never known of in any previous Government. Petty cash - thousand. Contingencies - thousand pounds. Miscellaneous - thousand pounds. Home Affairs Department - thousand pounds. When you tot these items up it amounts to two millions of money, and that amount is missing; cannot be traced; no one knows what became of it. Isn’t that a scandalous thing? Two millions of money amounts to 10s. per head of the population of the Commonwealth. Therefore, you poor farmers have each lost 10s. of your money, which was dragged from your pockets by heavy Customs and Excise duties. The whole country-side is shaken in the confidence of the Labour Government.
– Was that statement made in Parliament?
R.- No. It was made outside by the honorable member for Gippsland, when he was contesting the election. I quoted it in this House last session.
– He must have been misreported.
e. - Did he not make some explanation ?
– No; He has never been able to explain away the statement. He was here when I proceeded to refer to this matter a few minutes ago, and although he knew that I was going to make further reference to it, he left the chamber.
– He had an important engagement.
R.- I regret that he had to leave. I quoted this statement by him on a previous occasion, when he was present in the chamber. Here is another report, which I also quoted last session, of a statement made by the honorable member -
Mr. Bennett said he would challenge any one to say he made a different statement at Swan Beach to what he did at Bairnsdale, and quoted figures showing items of expenditure totalling £4,000,000, for which there was no adequate return, and there were items of expenditure from petty cash and Prime Minister’s Department and miscellaneous items, and he, in suggestive tones asked: What was the expenditure for, and where did it go to?
An interjector at the meeting said -
You mentioned thousands.
– I mentioned millions, and the figures I quoted were taken from Mr. Joseph Cook’s, and they were never challenged as being incorrect.
The figures to which he referred appeared in a pamphlet entitled The Financial Carnival, which was issued by the honorable member for Parramatta before he was returned to power. Let us look for a moment at the contingencies for which we are asked to provide in the Supply Bill now before us. In the first place, in the divisions relating to the Department of the Treasury, there is a proposed vote of £15,000 for “Contingencies” in connexion with the Land Tax Office. Every one who has held Ministerial office, knows that a voucher has to be produced for every penny of expenditure, and that the Auditor-General will not pass an account in respect of which a voucher is not forthcoming. And so this item of £15,000 for contingencies relating to the Land Tax Office will be accounted for. Then, again, in respect of the Department of External Affairs, we find in this Bill, as introduced by the present Treasurer, an item of £15,000 for Contingencies in connexion with the Administrator’s office in the Northern Territory; whilst in respect of the Defence Department, we are asked to vote the following amounts: - Royal Military College, Contingencies, £9,000 : Small Arms Factory, £10,000; Permanent Force (Sea-going), Contingencies, £24,000; Universal Training, Contingencies Citizen Forces and Senior Cadets. £107,000. All this expenditure must be accounted for so that when candidates assert that no return is obtained for the money so expended they are stating something for which there is no foundation. In this Supply Bill, which covers only three months, we have the following totals in respect of contingencies: - The Parliament, £2,540; Prime Minister’s Department, £3,615; Treasury, £30,100; AttorneyGeneral, £6,790; External Affairs, £34,500; Defence Department, £248,450; Department of Trade and Customs, £35,300; Home Affairs, £14,950; and Postmaster-General’s Department, £316,000. I do not blame the honorable member for Gippsland and others, who at the last general election made wild statements concerning expenditure under the heading of “ Contingencies “ or “ Miscellaneous,” as much as I blame the Prime Minister, because they took them from
The Financial Carnival, a pamphlet issued by the honorable member for Parramatta. We were told that if the honorable member for Parramatta and his party were returned to power the financial carnival would cease. But what is the position now that they are in power? Has the Treasurer, in his pre-Budget statement, foreshadowed any alteration in the finances of the country?
n. - He has not foreshadowed any economy.
– No economy whatever. He has told us that the Government will not spend quite as much as they estimated. But what does that mean?
– The starving of public works.
R.- Yes; it means that a lot of public works for which provision was made on the Estimates, and which could have been started during the financial year now closing, have been held upThe Treasurer mentioned incidentally the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, and I asked him if there was any schedule attached to it, and the right honorable member answered, “ No.” Aprparently there are no new works to be sanctioned in that Bill, which will be confined to those works already authorized by Parliament. Therefore, the works already authorized have not been proceeded with during the present financial year. We told the Treasurer last session that he would not be able to expend the money mentioned in his Estimates of expenditure, and, therefore, a loan was not necessary. The Treasurer admitted to-day that, although he had not been successful in passing the Loan Bill last session as he introduced it, the Government have not been able to expend the whole of the amount for which he had obtained authority in the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill passed last September or October. Every word uttered by honorable members on this side has been verified. I desire to say a word or two now with regard to the contingency vote, and I am glad that the Prime Minister has entered the chamber, because I have been quoting from that excellent little booklet, The Financial Carnival, which he used. It is worth its weight in gold. The Prime Minister, in one of these paragraphs, referred to the expenditure on contingencies, and spoke of the necessity for appointing a Public Accounts Committee. A Public Accounts Bill has been passed; but, although this session has lasted for nearly two months, no action has been taken by the Government to put the measure into operation.
– You prevented us from appointing the Committee last session.
R.- The proposal was introduced in the dying hours of the session, when it was not possible for it to be passed and assented to before Parliament was prorogued. But why have not the Government done something this session? There will be nothing to the Government’s credit, not only so far as legislation is concerned, but also so far as administration is concerned. When out of office the Prime Minister had a lot to say about the contingency votes, and he alluded in his pamphlet to “ Dodd’s Peerage “ and “gilt-edged stationery,” and he continued -
Take as an instance of its necessity- meaning the necessity for a Public Accounts Committee - the huge increases in items such as “ Contingencies,” which in the Post Office alone has risen from £450,000 ten years ago to £1,090,000 to-day.
What is the contingency vote in this Bill for three months’ Supply?
– I think the whole matter wants investigation.
R.- This Supply Bill contains a contingencies vote of £316,000 for the Post Office alone. That is for three months only. So if we multiply that total by four we find that the contingencies expenditure for that year in that Department will be £1,250,000, although the Prime Minister objected to the contingencies expenditure being a little over £1,000,000 when the Labour Government were in office. Of course the Prime Minister would not criticise the Treasurer’s statement, but he is jointly responsible with his colleague for the introduction of this Bill, which fastens upon Australia an expenditure for “ contingencies “ and “miscellaneous” of £841,000 for a quarter of the year, equalling nearly £3,500,000 in the year.
– I am responsible for a lot of things that I have not the power to alter. That is why I want to go before the country to get power or allow somebody else to take the responsibility.
R. - There will be no alteration of the system of placing in the Estimates big contingencies votes, because, as the Treasurer has admitted, every penny expended must be accounted for to the Auditor-General, and during the existence of the Commonwealth not a penny has been spent for which no account has been made. In the Prime Minister’s own Department, responsibility for which he cannot shirk, the amount to be voted for salaries for the three months is £840, for contingencies, £1,350, and for miscellaneous, £230. In other words, miscellaneous and contingencies together will be double the amount voted for salaries in that Department. I say that not one penny of the contingencies expenditure has been expended in an illegitimate way, as some honorable members opposite desired to make out during the last election. Of course one cannot get a lie to do business twice, and it is possible that some honorable members, who made that wild statement, for which there was not a tittle of justification, will not be able to defend their position on the hustings when they are again asked questions on the subject. The honorable member for Gippsland and other honorable members made the wild statement that £3,000,000 had been spent in “ contingencies “ and “ miscellaneous “ votes for which there was no account, when every honorable member in the House knows that all expenditure is accounted for to the Auditor-General. This used to be one of the Attorney-General’s pet subjects when he sat on this side of the House. He used to go through the votes for the various Departments and pick out the “ contingencies.”
– We all do it when we are in Opposition.
R - I think that it is necessary that these contingencies votes should be included in the Supply Bill, because, if we had to itemize the whole of the expenditure, the Estimates would not be understandable.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I have referred to the recurring items of contingencies that appear in this, as in other Supply Bills. I have pointed out that, whilst honorable members on the other side made a great mouthful of this matter during the 1913 campaign, they will have to tell their constituents, when they go before them again, that they have voted to continue in office a Government who have introduced a greater number of contingency votes in a Supply Bill than were ever submitted by the Fisher Government. The day after the Treasurer introduced his Budget last year, the Age had the following comments in its leading columns : -
The keynote of the Cook Government’s financial policy for 1013-14 was struck by Sir John Forrest in his peroration of his Budget speech. After showing that the Labour party, during its three years’ tenure of office, had received £18,342,771 more revenue than any of its predecessors - a fact which “ naturally encouraged a vastly-increased expenditure that could not have been possible, or even thought of otherwise” - the Treasurer informed the House that the Cook Government “ does not intend to stop the expenditure to which the country is committed.”
Later on, in the same article, the statement appeared -
The Labour Government left a total accumulated surplus of £2,653,223. Sir John Forrest, including the surplus, will have £24,115,223 available for expenditure, and he proposes to spend the whole of it; that is to say, he will spend £2,G07,300 more than did the Labour Government last year. In addition, lie proposes to raise £3,080,000 by means of Loan Bills for new works and other matters; bo his gross estimated expenditure for 1013-14 is really £27,105,223- an excess of £5,687,360 over the amount spent by the Labour Government.
– No, £4,000,000 odd.
R.- The right honorable gentleman proposed to mop up the whole of the surplus of £2,653,223, and, in addition, to spend £3,080,000 which he proposed to borrow, and he thus proposed to spend more than was spent by the Labour Government to the extent of £5,687,360.
– That could not be so.
– It is not so. I have the figures here.
– It is so. The Treasurer was going to spend the whole of the surplus, and to borrow £3,080,000, so that what he proposed to spend was £5,687,360 more than the amount spent by the Labour Government in their last year of office.
– He cannot spend it.
R. - Of course he cannot; that is what we said at the time, but he has spent over four millions and a half of it. And the Treasurer himself has had to admit to-day that he is unable to spend that amount. This is the Government that came in with a great flourish of trumpets as the Government of economy and the Government that was going to reduce the cost of living. They have not taken a single step during the time they have been in office to carry out any of the promises they made in that direction.
– The Labour Government saved over £1,000,000 by withholding expenditure on public works.
R.- Of course we did, and the present Treasurer has said to-day that he expects to save £1,000,000. The Treasurer explained to-day that every work included in the Supply Bill was provided for in the Works Estimates of last year. That proves that the Government have hung up works expenditure, and have failed to redeem one pledge they made to the people when they were last before the country. When they go before the people again, they will have to explain that the cost of living is higher to-day and rents are higher than they were when they assumed office, and that they have not lifted a little finger to alter that condition of affairs, although they were returned upon a direct promise that they would move in that direction.
– To-day we listened to the Prime Minister in his best form denouncing the Labour Government. With a few exceptions I venture to say that the present is the most incompetent Ministry, from a business point of view, that has ever occupied the Treasury bench. They will go down to history and will be known in the museums of the world as the Cook political cripples.
.- Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I shall withdraw it, but I shall put them in the museum just the same. I do not care to be savage or to say unkind things, but to-day the Prime Minister attacked the Department that I virtually created. For months before the Government took office, they said that they were going to show to the world what a crude political creature King O’Malley was. Yet they have had to retain every reform that I initiated in the Department of which I took charge.
– The honorable gentleman did not know what went on inside it.
Y.- The digest is still there. Perhaps the honorable member for Gippsland thinks he knows more about business than I do. Perhaps he thinks he could learn more in Gippsland than he could in the city of New York. No doubt the honorable member imagines that he could go to New York and take Pierpont Morgan’s place.
– The honorable member would be sorry to take Pierpont Morgan’s place.
Y.- I know that Pierpont Morgan is dead, but they want a banker to take his place in the United States. Rockefeller is now very old, and will probably soon die. I will say that the Honorary Minister has had sufficient intelligence to refuse to be an animated rubber stamp. With a few exceptions the members of the present Ministry are animated rubber stamps. I do not like saying unkind things, but the Prime Minister provoked me to-day, and I do not know where I shall stop now. When the Labour Government took possession of the Treasury bench they found nothing but chaos in the Government Departments. Nobody knew where anything was. Piles of papers were stacked up as high as the ceiling. I was six weeks doing nothing but signing my name. My honorable friend, the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, will admit that when he entered the Department he had very few papers to sign. Only yesterday, a Fusion candidate, speaking in Bendigo, declared how much more the present Government had done for the working men in Western Australia than had the ex-Minister of Home Affairs. In refutation of that statement I propose to quote from Mr. Deane’s report, which was almost on the printing machine when I left the Department. That report contains my proposals for the organization of the whole plant on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway. Yet the Prime Minister today would not agree that anybody had done anything but himself. There is not a reform connected with the construction of the transcontinental railway which I did not suggest. I arranged to have a car equipped with medicines for the use of the men employed on that line; I arranged for tents for them, and I arranged for them to pay so much a week out of their wages towards the organization. It was not possible to erect the tents in advance of the line, and, consequently, the Prime Minister affirms that the Fisher Government did not get the enterprise going. But we had to buy the necessary material, to organize the plant, to get everything in operation, before we could start the undertaking. When I left office, I left everything in going order. Everything was moving.
– It was all going to glory, was it not?
Y.- Yes. I do not know where my honorable friend acquired his knowledge of business. One cannot learn much of business at a college or a university. I had a little experience there, and I learnt nothing except to play baseball.
– Is the honorable member pretty good at that?
Y. - I am. I am a pretty good all round man. I am a very good shot with either hand. I want to read from Mr. Deane’s report, which was ordered to be printed on the 11th September, 1913.
– Has not the honorable member had enough of Mr. Deane ?
Y.- I merely wish to quote his report in order to show what I had arranged for, all along the route of the line. I had arranged for the services of doctors, and, in this connexion, I may mention that I selected the best of the medical men who were recommended to me. I find from the Ballarat Echo of Friday, 5th June, 1904, that when Mr. Fenton was speaking in South Gippsland -
Mr. Chadwick returned to the attack on another point. Reading from a paper, he asked Mr. Penton why it was that Mr. Fisher had left the Treasury with £7,000,000 behind? “What,” said Mr. Fenton; “surely you do not mean that?”
Mr. CHADWICK.- Yes, I do.
Mr. FENTON. - Are you sure you mean it? What are you quoting from?
Mr. CHADWICK. - That’s my business.
Mr. FENTON. - No, it is not only your business, but the business of this audience to know. Any fair-minded man would give the authority for such a reckless statement. Now, tell this audience what authority you are quoting from, demanded the speaker. After some hesitation, and with the eyes of the audience on him (by their looks also making the same demand as the speaker), Mr. Chadwick said, “ I am quoting from the People’s party paper, which deals with finances up to 30th June last.”
– What Mr. Fenton was that ?
Y. - The honorable member for Maribyrnong, one of the Christians of this House, and a very honest and sincere man. Is it not a crime against modern civilization that such stuff should be published in a newspaper ? Yet that is how the last election was won. I say that we ought not to make such statements.
– Is it a Liberal or a Labour newspaper from which the honorable member is quoting?
Y.- It is a Fusion newspaper.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. It is a Labour journal.
h. - It is the Ballarat Echo.
– Is that a Labour newspaper?
Y.- This is not a laughing matter, because the report which I have quoted was taken from the People’s Party Paper.
– We want to see it in the People’s Party Paper.
Y.- The AttorneyGeneral spoke about spoils to the victors. I wish to say that if what I have heard is true in regard to Fusionist organizers being allowed to take charge of the rolls all over Australia, then not in the history of Tammany Hall, in its most evil days, did more corruption enter, than has entered into the Ministerial portion of the Electoral Department of this country.
– Let us have it.
Y.- I will give it to the honorable member. In the first place, I charge the Attorney-General with being a law-breaker in that he allowed these organizers to get the names of electors off the rolls without calling upon them to lodge the fee of 5s., which the law prescribes should accompany each objection. In my own district, this practice has become a public scandal, and I have to leave here tomorrow for my constituency in order to see that the names of electors which have been thrown off the rolls by these organizers are restored. I say that such action on their part is criminal. In my opinion, it is the first time that corruption has dominated the rolls of Australia.
– Does the honorable member say that corruption dominates the rolls of Australia, because that is a very serious charge to make against the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth ?
Y.- I do not say that the Honorary Minister has anything to do with it.
– Of course’ he has.
Y.- No fear. I say that these partisans-
– They did not deposit the 5s. that is required by law to accompany each objection.
Y. - I charge the Attorney-General with being responsible for that.
– The lodging of that deposit was never enforced.
Y. - We are only starting this fight, and my honorable friends opposite are not going to win. The big moneyed power of Australia, which has dominated the present Government, is not going to win the forthcoming election. My honorable friends have no doubt about that.
– How much is the honorable member prepared to bet upon it?
Y.- How much is the honorable member himself prepared to bet?
– I will take a tenner.
Y.- I will bet a thousand. Do not let us talk about tinpot wagers. Let the honorable member meet me outside–
– Let the honorable member put up his money, and I will cover it.
Y.- The honorable member knows well enough that the law does not allow him to bet. Honorable members opposite are not the only men with money. I shall meet the honorable member for Grampians outside on this question. I had some talk with him in 191.0. His party were going to sweep the country, but he was not game to bet.
– You had no conversation with me. You have always found that I am game.
Y.- Very well; I shall meet the honorable member outside. It is a serious matter to throw people off the rolls. When a working man leaves his place of work, and goes across the street, and a letter is sent to where he was working on the last occasion, he does not answer it because he never gets it, and very often the letter is burnt. That has been done in my electorate. Then they proceed to throw him off the roll, and in order to drown the outcries of the disfranchised there is an uproar of a sham battle over preference to unionists. It will not work. Let us fight this election honestly and justly, and if honorable members on the Ministerial benches can put us down, we shall take our medicine. I wish now to touch on the question of finance. On the 2nd October, 1913, the Treasurer, in presenting the Budget, said -
In presenting the last Budget to Parliament on the 1st August, 1912, the Treasurer announced that, in order to meet his expenditure during the financial year 1912-13, it would be necessary to expend, not only the revenue estimated to be received during that year, but also the accumulated surplus amounting to £2,261,673, which was on the 30th June, 1912, at the credit of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Fund and the Naval Defence Account for Construction of the Fleet.
Instead, however, of this surplus of £2,261,673 being required to supplement the revenue of the year, the revenue exceeded the expenditure by £391,550, the accumulated surplus on the 30th June, 1913, amounting to £2,653,223. In the Budget-papers it appears, on page 69, under the head of Trust Funds -
This amount of £2,653,223 accumulated out of the revenue of 1910-11, 1911-12, and 1912-13, and is available for expenditure this year, 1913-14.
To-day the Treasurer admitted that after the operations for the year there would still be a surplus of about £800,000. I congratulate him upon that surplus. Bad as the times are, we should be satisfied on both sides of the House that we do not run behind, but had it not been for Mr. Fisher providing and gathering that surplus there would now be a deficit of £1,800,000. I had a lot of trouble with the ex-Prime Minister. I wished to spend that money, but he would not let me have it. I wished to spend it on the Electoral Department, and do exactly what Ministers are now doing, and I wished to spend it on buildings throughout the country, because I claim that our activities and national enterprises should always be kept up-to-date. We had not painted Government House for ten years. When I went to look at the building, I thought it would tumble over. It cost a lot of money to renovate the place. These were the things to which I turned my attention, and if the present Prime Minister will turn to the savings book in the Department of Home Affairs, he will find that “the man who has no business knowledge” saved Australia £194,000 on certain transactions. Parliament has not done much during the last year because we have been fighting as to who should be on the Treasury bench, but honorable members of the Opposition have always been ready to help the Government to carry non-contentious measures. Ministers could have brought down their irrigation proposals, their break-of-gauge proposals, their scheme for organizing the banking, credit, and financial system of Australia; and the Tariff ought to have been in the forefront of their programme. However, they put in their whole time fighting about a little tinpot preference to unionists Bill. It was really not a Bill. The trouble arose over a minute issued by me giving preference to unionists; and the present Government having abolished preference, the matter was done with, and it was not necessary to put in a whole year bothering about it.
– In order to prevent you doing it again.
Y.- Rubbish ! I gave preference to unionists because it was a collective bargain. I could do better business with the secretaries of unions, and would not be bothered with dozens of interviews with individuals. Our fight was not against the Bill. We put up our battle because the Government declared that it intended to take away from the rural workers the right to go to the Arbitration Court. Ministers wish to destroy judicial preference. We fought for a great fundamental principle.
– For something which has been made use of only once since 1905.
Y.- In the State of Kansas, the Governor for thirty years did not sign a warrant for the hanging of a man; but there was a man who murdered his wife and committed other crimes that the Governor of the day could not stand, and that man was hanged, though there has been no hanging since. The Governor all the time had the right to hang a man, although he exercised it only once in thirty years. Let me deal now with the Tariff. Every one knows that our iron industry is going to the dogs. Goods can be brought here from London and from New York for less than is charged to transport them from Sydney to Western Australia. The present Tariff is no barrier against the cheap labour of Europe. In Japan, workmen can be got for from 9d. to1s. a day. How can Australian manufacturers pay high wages if they have to compete with manufacturers who can employ cheap labour, and are not controlled by boards or industrial laws? I am a Protectionist, dipped in the dew, and dyed in the wool. No new country can be successful without Protection. Yet we have monkeyed our time away when we could have dealt with the Tariff. I believe in the initiative and referendum, and in the recall. In America, they recall mayors of towns and members of Parliament who do not do their duty. I believe, too, that we should be paid better salaries. To come to another point. We have made no arrangements yet for dealing with the debts of the States. Australia has one of the biggest debts in the world, but we have made no arrangements for meeting it. We ought to have a better sinking fund - a national sinking fund - and it ought to be in the hands of trustees, independent of Treasurers. We ought to re-organize the Commonwealth Bank, and have it under a board of management, with each of the States represented on the board.
– Why did not the honorable member bring that about?
Y.- You cannot do everything. I find that the aggregate borrowing of the States for the last five years was £79,738,910, or, on the average, £15,947,782 a year. The average underwriting expense incurred in the raising of that money was £166,402 a year. That was what was spent in brokerage, bank commission, underwriting, and other charges, for which we get no return.
– How much of the money was borrowed for the renewal of loans?
Y.- The fact that some of it might have been borrowed to renew loans did not reduce the brokerage and underwriting charges. These charges could be avoided by using the Commonwealth Bank. My time will not permit me to deal further with this subject, but I have some tables of figures here dealing with the loans of the States and the surplus revenue account, which I should like to put into Hansard without reading.
– The honorable member’s time has expired. Is it the wish of the Committee that the honorable member be permitted to have the tables to which he refers inserted in the report of his speech?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear?
– The tables are as follow : -
.- The right honorable member for Wide Bay, in his speech this afternoon, afforded further evidence of the Tory character of the party opposite. His statement in support of high Protection constituted a Tory speech. He is not satisfied with the Tariff, which in many instances protects the Australian manufacturer against his foreign rival by an amount equal to the wages’ cost of the article, and in some cases by an amount equal to from three to twelve times the wages cost. He spoke on behalf of the big man, and on behalf of the trusts and combines, which he condemns when on the public platform, but which he promises to assist still further if returned with a majority. It is by Tariffs that rings and trusts are created. So far back as 1901, I expressed regret that many members of the Labour party understood so little the true interests of the bulk of the workers that they were ready to vote for high duties. I pointed out that Protection should be limited in each case to the difference between the wages paid here and abroad; but in one or two instances they voted for duties which gave one hundred times as much as that. It is true that certain members who are now associated with the Liberal party made the same mistake, but they have seen the error of their ways, and are determined henceforth that all taxation on the people shall go into the) Treasury, instead of into the pockets of trusts and combines. If honorable members opposite are in earnest, they know that in every country in the world - in Canada, America, and elsewhere, and even in Australia when Mr. Kingston introduced the first Tariff - it has been always proposed to lower the duties in the case of trusts and combines.
The President of the United States has pointed out that the only effectual way to fight these corporations is to expose them to competition as far as possible. Out of the total production of £205,000,000 in Australia, over £145,000,000 is due entirely to our primary industries; and the men who sell wine, wool; wheat, hides, tallow, mutton, beef, and even rabbits have to meet the low wages and the competition of the world.
r. - The same old story!
– If the honorable member has not learned the story by this time, he is too old to do so now. Sensible, reasonable men realize that the Labour party ought to keep down taxation, but in Australia they are the absolute antithesis of Labour parties on the other side of the world. There they endeavour to keep down Tariffs, because it is recognised that the people have to pay the price. When the Tariff was before this Parliament, and I and others pointed out that the burden would have to be borne by the people, the fact was recognised by a certain proportion of Labour members, who voted accordingly: but, unfortunately, a majority decided that high taxation should prevail. Honorable members opposite were warned that high taxation would mean trusts and combines; and, personally I said that if I remained in Parliament for another ten years I should see the melancholy spectacle of members of the Labour party condemning the corporations which they were then themselves creating.
– There are trusts and combines in England. What about Coates’ cotton?
Y. - There are only mythical trusts and combines in England. Large combinations of capital cannot be prevented, and every blow that the Labour party has made at capital in Australia has really meant the encouragement of the capitalists already here. The Labour party declared that they would prevent the capitalists of Australia from having any competition, and, consequently, those capitalists were able to raise interest by 1^ per cent, and 2 per cent. The Labour party also said that they would “put down “ the banks; and yet the dividends of banking and other companies are higher than ever. Is it any wonder that those great companies support the Labour party, and that the Liberals cannot get any contributions for their leagues ? I know scores and scores of men who will not give a penny to the Liberal party, but declare for the Labour party on the ground that while that party talks against capital, it is really fighting for it. And, of course, if I had the same monetary sense, and the same belief in monetary privileges, I should like the Labour party to be always in power, because they take care to make capital so tight that the rate of interest must rise. Honorable members opposite try to impose taxation on wealth, although the same has been tried tens of thousands of times before, with the inevitable result that the poorer people have to pay. That is the view of sensible, thoughtful, genuine Labour men elsewhere, who are not Tories masquerading in the guise of Labour. Honorable members opposite glory in the false name they have assumed, knowing that it is a bluff which conceals the real acts of the party. A true Labour party acts in the interests of the public, but it is manifest that the so-called Labour party here legislates for the wealth of the country. In Australia there are only 10,000 persons with over £1,000 a year, and some 25,000 with over £700 a year, and it is idle to suppose that the Liberal party can depend on these for success. No real politician ever appeals to the wealthy of a community, but to the sensible workers, who are kept down, not because of capital, but because of the absence of capital. Yet honorable members opposite go about the country preaching a doctrine of hate, stirring up prejudice, and setting man against man, instead of proclaiming the religion of humanity and brotherhood. What they ought to endeavour to create is that spirit of confidence which has the effect of increasing capital. Sometimes it is said to me of the Labour party, “ Oh, they mean well and I admit that they frequently do.
– We do well, too!
Y.- That is just what the Labour party do not do, or if they do well, it is only at the expense of the genuine workers of the community. Whatever claim to the name “Labour” the party once possessed was lost the moment they became the representatives of only a section of the workers of the community. There are oyer 1,100,000 workers, and of these only 400,000 are unionists; and yet the Labour party claim preference for the minority. At that moment they abandoned even the faintest tittle of right to call themselves Labour men, because if that other great part of the community are not to he considered merely because they are not organized, then the party opposite represent only the strength, and not, as they should strive to do, the weakness of the community, so that the wrongs of the weaker section may be righted so far as it is possible for legislation to do it. I do not say that legislation can effect everything. No legislation can add to the production of wealth in a country, although some honorable members opposite seem to think that they add to the wealth of the community by taxes, and by calling taxes protective they reckon on deceiving the mass of the public as to their real incidence. If, for instance, a tax of £6 per ton is put on sugar, it does not stop the competition of the sugar-growers on the other side of the world. It simply transfers the burden of that competition from the shoulders of the growers of sugar to the shoulders of the customers. I am sorry to say that owing to the iniquitous legislation of the Labour party, and the wanton waste and extravagance that has taken place in many Departments, I do not see how, at the present time, there can be effected that reduction of taxation which alone will give the people the real value of their wages. Whatever advance has taken place in wages has been solely due to the great advance in the value of our great primary industries. Out of the £60,000,000 of manufactures, at least £50,000,000 is absolutely dependent on the natural productions of the country, and out of about from £205,000,000 to £206,000,000 of national dividend, as I might call it, over £195,000,000 is derived absolutely from matters that are outside the range of legislatures or individuals. In these circumstances it is extraordinary to hear a man like the honorable member for Darwin talk about the little tail wagging the dog. Unless we are in a game to rob the public, and I decline to join in any such game, I cannot understand honorable members opposite dreaming of associating themselves with the policy of taxation. I know they have done it. There is the plain fact before them. The big rise in prices is to a large extent their tax. Apart from the rise of about 2s. in the £1, which has been world-wide, and for which no party is responsible, there is, at the very least, an additional rise of 5s. in the £1 which is due to taxation alone. Otherwise this sum of £15,000,000 a year could never be paid. Do the Labour party think the bloated importers pay taxes for the mass of the people, and do not get them back from them? If they do, and do not collect them back, they are a body of philanthropists whose names ought to be written in letters of gold, so that the whole mass of the people might bear them in mind.
– How would you raise the revenue then?
Y- Everybody may have to pay taxes, but at least our duty is to see that those taxes go, not into the pockets of combines or trusts, or favoured individuals, but into the Treasury itself. If that had been done the people would have been saved £1,500,000 in respect of sugar alone. On that subject in other cases we have the report of their own Inter-State Commission, two out of three of the members of which are Protectionists. They point out that under the Tariff 95 per cent. of one trade goes to a little ring or trust. So much then for the attitude of the Labour party so-called, because, really, the more one considers the way they act the less one can excuse it. They may say they mean well, but that excuse ought not to save them from the condemnation of the people. Take again such a matter as defence. Surely if there is one thing which a genuine Labour party ought to regard with the most jealous eye, it is the growth of militarism in a community. If one told a man on the other side of the world that the Labour party. here was advocating militarism, he would immediately ask, “ Do they call themselves Labour? How do they palm themselves off as Labour men?” One would reply, “ Simply by the repetition of it wherever they go.” He would ask, “ Surely the public are not deceived by it?” and when one assured him that they were, he would say, “ Australia must be a strange place. It is truly the Antipodes, because there you have a selfstyled Labour party acting in the reverse way to what they should. We on this side of the world would call them the
High Tory party.” I unhesitatingly assert that, if necessary, every man must bear his share of the defence of the country in which he lives, because the activities on which we all depend, and our very lives, hang on the manner in which we undertake that defence; but we ought to scrutinize carefully the way in which we intend to go about it. I. have no doubt that if honorable members opposite were asked, as a matter of geography, if Australia was an island, they would glibly answer “yes,” but, at the same time, they seem to overlook that important fact, seeing that they forget that an effective naval defence would prevent the landing of foreign troops here in any large numbers. And so, instead of voting first for naval defence, they proceed to build up a military force by calling out, not the men, but the children of the country. It is these that this courageous Labour party are seeking to bring into military life. To be associated with such a thing is the greatest possible shame and disgrace to any party calling themselves men.
– It is unchristian.
Y. - I know that some members of the party have good sound sense on the subject, but, taking them as a whole, they are the other way about, and, as a consequence, we must go against them. I should have been only too anxious to join any party that recognised what was really necessary for the genuine defence of the country, but no one can honestly defend a policy whose first requirement is the compulsory training of boys between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. That is done in no other country in the world. Where it has been tried, it has been abolished.
– And you support a Government who put a boy in solitary confinement ?
Y.- Under the Defence Act, I regret to say that a Labour Minister of Defence introduced a regulation which allows poor unfortunate boys to be placed in a solitary cell.
– And you are supporting a Government who are doing that.
Y. - When solitary confinement has been abolished throughout the civilized world, even in the hulks and convict prisons, surely there ought to. be in this House a party who would abolish this form of punishment in the case of at least children. Deal with the parents if you like - gaol them, or do what you like with them - but do not deal with the children in an inhuman manner. No matter who the man was, even though he was a criminal, I would be against solitary confinement for him, because I know that it breaks down the mind.
– Your Government are doing it to-day.
Y. - I believe that we have heard the last of solitary confinement, as far as this party is concerned. It remains for the party on the other side to take action on the hustings against us for desiring to abolish it. The time at my disposal does not permit me to make long quotations from many of the books on penal codes, one or two of which I have here.
– Whose regulation was this?
Y.- It was brought in by Senator Pearce, the great Labour man, who issupported by honorable members on the other side, though not by all of them, I am pleased to say. The only reason why I do not utterly condemn them all is because I know that there are at least one or two chosen spirits who are overruled by the Caucus, else they would vote absolutely against solitary confinement.
– Test the question, and see whether we would not vote against it.
Y. - The trouble is, that while my honorable friends think one way, they have to vote the other way. Just to show what solitary confinement means, and how the Judges themselves regard it, I will quote a case in which Mr. Justice Hood, who wished to be very severe on a prisoner, and said that he proposed to make him feel the real effects of gaol, decreed that the prisoner should spend three days in solitary confinement at the beginning of the third, the sixth, the ninth, the twelfth, and the fifteenth month of the term ; that is only three days at intervals of three months, and a doctor, remember, to visit the man every day to see how his mental health was faring. But here we have a party who made a regulation to put boys up to eighteen years of age in solitary confinement for a period up to ten days, and to be kept there for twenty-two hours out of every twentyfour. If there was any manhood in the party on the other side, they would have swept away a regulation of this sort long ago. I am glad to say that, on our side, at least, an iniquitous regulation of that sort would be utterly swept away, and one result of the coming elections, if they return our party to power, will be that never again will boys convicted merely of an offence against military discipline undergo the awful ordeal of solitary confinement. Fancy lads being in solitary confinement from twenty to twenty-two hours day after day! We have a party of men here who have allowed such a thing to take place. I wish that I could take all the members of that party who have supported this legislation - indeed, if I knew any on this side who have done so, I would do the same thing - and give them from a week to ten days in solitary confinement, so that they might understand the evil of what they were doing to the community.
– I would put the Minister of Defence in solitary confinement - Senator Pearce, or anybody else.
– We have to deal now with the question of the big expenditure on defence. As regards boys from fourteen to eighteen years of age, the fact that every other nation has abolished training for them, after trial, is sufficient proof to me that we, also, should not indulge in it. I have consulted dozens of military men, and they are all against the Labour policy of training for boys between those ages. But the party still continued the system, and I do trust that the Liberal party will alter it. I shall never cease fighting until the age is raised to at least eighteen years. I go further, and say that if our defence system is to be a good one, it must be a naval defence. The more we consider the introduction oi aeroplanes and submarines, the more should we give our attention to this matter. Now that it has come out in the newspapers, I will mention that a year ago I was informed that at one of the great naval manoeuvres twelve out of the thirteen battleships were laid low, proving how almost impossible it will be in the near future for any ships filled with soldiers to leave another shore to attack a place surrounded with water. Transport ships, at least, could not do. it in these days of aeroplanes and quick submarines - submarines which, with oil fuel, can go for 1,500 miles, and aeroplanes that can scout out 150 miles, and from an elevation see the smoke of transport ships for another 50 to 100 miles, and come back again in the evening. Our Defence Forces must be prepared to meet small raids of that sort, perhaps from a quick-steaming battleship, and it cannot be much more than that in the near future.
– Do you think that we ought to go in for any more battleships?
Y.- As far as Australia is concerned, no. If our defence is to be a defence at all it must be in the form of a common contribution to the Empire, because it is only as a part of the Empire that we can hope to maintain our White Australia policy.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Werriwa is very interesting, but very erratic. He is just about as erratic in his conduct as he is in his arguments. I cannot understand why he spoke at this juncture in this crisis. The situation in which we find ourselves would not have arisen had he displayed any consistency. I understood clearly and distinctly that the last thing he was going to tolerate was a double dissolution. I certainly thought that in a crisis of that character he would have left the Government. What reliance can be placed upon his attitude in regard to militarism? Or what reliance can be placed upon him in connexion with this matter of solitary confinement? He denounced the evil, but he is prepared to support it. He supports the Government who tolerate and put into execution a regulation of this character. It is the only Government, so far, who have put the provision of the Act into operation.
y. - I beg your pardon; it was done by Senator Pearce.
– I am not talking of the regulation; I am simply speaking of putting the Act into operation and awarding solitary confinement. The honorable member has denounced that, and he stopped there with his denunciation. He went a step further. He is not prepared to associate with anybody in connexion with bringing a thing of this sort to an end. We have plenty of time to act before we go to the country. The dissolution might well wait until we have settled this little matter.
– Quite - over such an important question.
Y.- Where does the honorable member stand in connexion with militarism? He fulminated the whole of his time; he pointed the finger of scorn at this side; he denounced the evil of militarism ; and then he started to utilize it.
– Because your party introduced it.
.- Order! The honorable member must not interrupt so persistently.
– If I understand rightly - I may be incorrect - the whole defence scheme, with its underlying principle, was, it is claimed, introduced many years ago, but was not put into operation. While the honorable member for Werriwa is quite prepared to fight, sir, he was in this Parliament when the provision was carried which specially exempted from carrying arms politicians and the clerical sections of the community.
– Oh, no.
Y.- Oh, yes. Do not contradict me. I am just as accurate as the honorable member was when he was reproving certain honorable members in the corner. Here we have a Parliament which believes that the country needs to be defended, and which, believing that, passed a Defence Bill in which all members of Parliament are specially excluded from the fighting line. We brave and heroic men are to look on while others do the fighting. Who honestly believes that Australia stands in immediate danger of attack on the part of a foreign Power? Surely no section of the Parliament can do so, otherwise provision would have been made to ward off the danger. A country which believed itself to be in imminent danger of assault at the hands of a foreign force would begin at once to train and arm its men. But we are leaving the work to boys. The position is that the Parliament, believing evidently that this attack would take place somewhere in the distant future, has begun with the training of children. This is not the special prerogative of any particular party. The Parliament as a whole is responsible for the present defence system, and we are now told by General Sir Ian Hamilton that it is going to cost us twice as much as was estimated. To defend a territory almost as large as Europe we were to have an army of 100,000 men, at a cost of £2,000,000 per annum. So far, we have not 35,000, yet our land forces are already costing us twice as much, and before we are able to place in the field an armed force of 100,000 men we shall have to face an annual expenditure of £6,000,000. And yet our anti-militarist friend, the honorable member for Werriwa, talks in this way. He is an anti-militarist only in respect of some trifling matter, and not upon the general principle. All that he has said counts for nothing, inasmuch as when he is called upon to vote he is prepared to support the very system that he condemns. The whole system is fizzling out. General Sir Ian Hamilton says that we must have an adequate defence system ; and an adequate defence, if it means anything at all, means a system of defence adequate to protect the territory to be defended. On this question of Supply we are debating various matters. I listened with great attention this afternoon to the Prime Minister, who spoke of patriotic sacrifices. I admire him. There can be no doubt about it; we are a band of patriots ! We eulogize and sometimes denounce each other ! The honorable member for Darwin has a great regard for the Treasurer. The Treasurer, unquestionably, is a fine and noble character. He is the noble opulent gentleman who denounces the maternity grant because it means extracting certain moneys from the wrong people and giving it to the wrong people. But the right honorable gentleman did not object to draw a pension from the Imperial Government for many years. God knows what the pension was for; but the fact remains that he drew it, and that he had no scruples about drawing it, although it represented money extracted from men and women in the slums of London and Liverpool. It was extracted from the struggling millions, but he had no scruples about taking it.
– It came, not from the Imperial, but from the West Australian Government.
Y.- Very well. That fits the bill just the same. The right honorable member was prepared to take this pension from the Government of a State, which had well rewarded him for his services. The receiving of that pension did not undermine his moral fibre. It was not a mere allowance of £5. By way of the pension which he drew he took in one year far more than is paid to scores and scores of poor women in respect of the maternity allowance, and which undoubtedly is doing good service. The Prime Minister this afternoon talked about the fine work the Government had done. They had been twelve months in office, and yet had not got rid of the surplus left to them by the Labour Government! His position is very like that of the man who, starting off with £6, finishes up with £1, and then claims that he has wound up with a surplus of £1 because he has not got rid of the whole £6. The speech made by the honorable gentleman this afternoon was in striking contrast to that which he delivered recently at Mount Gambier, where he talked of the immense responsibility with which the Government were loaded. He spoke there of its growing expenditures from day to day and month to month, and said, “I do not know how to cope with it. What we are going to do with the Post Office, I do not know. Its expenditure is going up by leaps and bounds, and I feel myself incapable of dealing with it in any shape or form.” That was the confession of this great administrator. This capable man admits from a public platform that he is confronted with a situation which he does not know how to meet. Then he says that the revenues of the Commonwealth are declining. In other words, the revenue is declining while we have in power a Government which said that a Labour Administration would be ruinous to the progress of Australia. No sooner had the Liberal party got into power than the revenue of the Commonwealth began to decline. How do they explain that fact? The Treasurer tried to explain it with the statement, “ How can our revenue grow in view of the increasing number of strikes and the industrial unrest which is multiplying?” And so, under a Liberal Administration, which was to restore industrial peace, we are told that strikes and industrial unrest generally are on the increase. Then the Government talk of their policy. Where is it ? What have they attempted to do ? As I have previously pointed out, if the Government had possessed a clear, -well-defined policy, and had believed that it would be beneficial to the country, it would have sought all the kudos that would unquestionably attach to it by trying to give legislative effect to it. If this Government had had such a policy, it would have sought to give legislative effect to it, and would have thrown upon the obstructive Opposition, as they call us, the onus - of opposing it. But from the moment of their coming into power they have not attempted to introduce into this Chamber any important or progressive legislation. What has become of their proposal for a scheme of national insurance against unemployment and illhealth ? What, too, has become of their battle cry - especially in this State - at the last election regarding the rectification of Tariff anomalies? They said that in the very first session of Parliament they would rectify Tariff anomalies if they were returned to power. They have made no effort to do so. They have given no evidence of their bona fides. They have no constructive policy, and never had any. They are the quintessence of reactionary legislators. They desire now to go to the country without presenting a financial statement, so that, if possible, they may come back with a majority and carry out their reactionary projects. And yet the Prime Minister talks of patriotic sacrifices and of the necessity for a Parliament that will go on with business ! What business do the Government propose? If they had an absolute majority in this House - even if they had not to meet the Labour party here - would they do anything of a progressive character? No. They are absolutely sterile of any progressive policy. That is the situation with which we are faced. The Prime Minister asked this afternoon, “Where is the Labour party’s policy?” When the honorable member was asked before the last election what his policy was, he said, “ To get the Labour party out of office.” If the honorable member asks me what our policy is, I say that it is to do the same good turn to the Liberals. The aim of the forthcoming contest will be to give one party or other a definite majority, so that they may do something to prove themselves. That is what we have come to after eighteen months of battling. A Government that would tolerate occupying the benches for eighteen months, and doing nothing all that time should, and must, go to the country.
.- I am rather disappointed to think that members have been compelled to go to the country without the Government having taken some action in regard to the operations of the Beef Trust. Last session, I brought under the notice of the Government the importance of taking some action of that kind, and asked them if they would take into consideration the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the matter. But rather than do that, they preferred to appoint one or two other Commissions to deal with matters of infinitely less importance than this matter of the Beef Trust.
r. - Have they not appointed Mr. Justice Street to be a Royal Commissioner ?
– They have, and he will take so long to collect any evidence that will be of material assistance to thi» House that it is hard to say when we will get any legislation passed.
– Did the honorable mem- ber expect to be appointed a Commissioner himself ?
E.- No; but I think the honorable member for Echuca was looking for that position. The appointment of a Commissioner to take evidence on this subject is an altogether inadequate way of dealing with a great question. The meat industry is one of the greatest in Australia, and if honorable members have power to safeguard it, it is their duty to do so. Instead of one Commissioner being appointed, this work should have been undertaken by the Inter-State Commission, who could have collected the evidence much more speedily than Mr. Justice Street, and in all probability we would have been in a position to bring forward legislation which would prevent the American Beef Trust obtaining that hold on Australia, which it will have before any effective legislation can be passed under the circumstances which the Government have created. A branch of the Beef Trust, Armour and Company, have just opened a registered office in Brisbane, and another branch, Morris and
Company, have purchased 480 acres of country adjoining the holding of Swift and Company. Other firmswhich are now operating in Australia will, in a year or two, be doing very little business. The trust are in a position to give a much better price for beef than other exporters to the London market can give. We were told by members of the Government, notably the Prime Minister, the AttorneyGeneral, and the Minister of Trade and Customs, that the Government have power to deal with the Beef Trust, and we find that they are going to close this Parliament without any effort to do so. It is all very well for the Government to tell us that they intend to appoint a Commission to take evidence in regard to the condition of the meat trade, but they are doing this only to stave off the evil day. When the Government are in a position to bring forward legislation the trust will have control of the meat trade in Australia, and, having a monopoly, will not be afraid of any legislation that may be passed. In my opinion, their policy in this matter is alone sufficient to condemn the present Government. This is a matter of vital importance to the people. The meat industry has grown very considerably during the last few years, and yet the whole of the benefits of the trade are about to pass into one of the greatest trusts in the world. We are well acquainted with the history of this trust in America, Argentine, and Great Britain, and as they have ruined the trade in those countries, we feel convinced they will do the same thing in Australia. We are told by our opponents that cattle and sheep are bringing a better price to-day than they were previous to the trust coming to Australia. We are well aware of that. That is usually the case in a country when the trust make their first appearance. They raise the prices to the grower, and consequently the price of meat naturally increases. But when they have assumed control of the trade, the retail price of meat is never reduced, but the price to the cattle grower is always reduced. This is a matter which should have engaged the attention of the Government, and safeguards should have been adopted to prevent those people repeating the same tactics in this country as hey have pursued in other parts of the world. The export trade from Australia last year increased by 12 per cent. as compared with the previous year. That is not a very great increase, but when an industry of that description shows such an increase, there is need for the Legislature to give attention to the matter. In 1912, 1,700,000 head of cattle were slaughtered in Australia, and with a proportionate increase in 1913, the slaughtering is far exceeding the growing which is taking place. If legislation is not brought forward to protect the cattlegrowing industry, we shall find in a year or two that we are not growing sufficient cattle for our own consumption, and, instead of looking to other countries to buy our surplus meat, we will not have sufficient for ourselves.
– We will be paying 2s. 6d. a lb.
E. - In some parts of the world the people do pay 2s. 6d. for prime cuts, and at the rate the price is increasing in Australia, it is quite possible that we will be paying something like that price here. The honorable member for Werriwa said that we are looking to the other countries of the world to buy our meat, wool, hides, tallow, and other exports. But. the American Beef Trust will take very good care that no hides, tallow, or meat of any description shall be sold to the people of any other country except through them.
– That is what they did in America.
E.- What they did in America is what they propose doing here. Legislatures in other parts of the world are giving some attention to this great question. In the Argentine Republic we find the people prepared to exercise their legislative powers to effectively deal with the operations of this trust. Five of the nine meat works in existence in the Argentine are controlled by the American Beef Trust at the present time, and not content with that, we find from the latest accounts from that country, published in the Pastoral Review of the 15th May last, that they have secured the whole of the refrigerating space provided by the steam-ship companies trading between the Argentine and America. That is one of the tactics adopted by the trust to keep out competitors from any country in which they are operating. We understand that three or four ships have been ordered for the Australian trade, and it is clear that they intend to do the same kind of thing in this country. Swift and Company have already started operations in Queensland. They began on the 1st of this month, slaughtering 150 head of cattle per day, and they will be in a position to slaughter 1,000 head of cattle per day if the supply is forthcoming. The other people, Armour and Company, have works treating stock for them. In my opinion, they have secured control of the Lake’s Creek works, because meat shipped from those works is now being branded with Armour’s brand. The manager of the Lake’s Creek works has made a statement to the effect that Armour and Company have not secured control of the works, and that they are merely selling their meat to these people. But the fact remains that the meat is being exported with the brand, “ Armour and Company, Rockhampton, Queensland.” They are shipping meat to the United States, where the price is higher than in any other country in the world, and it is clear that the profit which these people are making out of Australian meat at the present time is something enormous. This trade could he secured for the benefit of the Australian people, if proper legislation was passed by this Parliament. Morris and Company are also about to start works in Queensland, so that these three powerful branches of the American Beef Trust will shortly bo operating in Australia. These three names are commonly used by the trust in securing control of any new country in which they discover that a plentiful supply of meat is available. Last year Australia and the Argentine exported to the Smithfield market 744,109 tons of meat, which represents about three-fourths of the whole of the meat supply of the London market. In 1906, the average weight of stock slaughtered in Queensland was 666 lbs., whilst in 1912 the average weight had dropped to 5S0 lbs. These figures show that our cattle industry is gradually deteriorating, and that Ave are now slaughtering immature cattle. Unless the Government bring forward legislation to prevent the slaughter of immature cattle, our meat supply will decrease more rapidly than would otherwise be the case. Although in 1912 we slaughtered 556,000 cattle, the number of hides sold on the market was only 343,000. The reason for this was that many of the cattle slaughtered were immature, and their hides could only be classed as skins. This is a matter of great importance, and one to which the Government should give strict attention. We should waste no time in passing the legislation necessary to deal with it. When the statistics for 1913 are received we shall find that we have been slaughtering far more stock than we grew during the year. We know that our export of meat has considerably increased, and we must conclude that the growth of our stock was not as great as in the previous year. We are slaughtering two-year-old cattle to-day, when for consumption we should not slaughter cattle until they are four years old. We might have protected the industry to some extent under the Agricultural Bureau Bill, and if we had done so we would have had a greater supply of meat for the outside markets of the world. We should endeavour to secure the markets of the world for the Australian producers, and should not permit foreigners of any description to come to our shores and rob us of this great opportunity to benefit our stock-owners. The Government should have taken this matter into consideration at a very much earlier period of the session. Their delay in dealing with the matter proves that they are not serious in their professed intentions with regard to it. The American Beef Trust is undoubtedly the greatest trust in the world. One of its main resources of power is found in its attachment to one political party. Looking into the history of the trust we find that it has subscribed very liberally to the funds of a particular political “party. Its nominees have been accepted by the party, and on many occasions elected. In 1906 Armour and Company subscribed no less than $400,000 to the funds of a political party in America. We have to take into account the influence which may be brought to bear by this powerful trust upon a political party in Australia. They can protect themselves by subscribing largely to political funds. The present Government have hesitated to deal with the operations of this combine so long that we are forced to the conclusion that it may be doing something of the same description in Australia.
– What does the honorable member suggest ?
E. - That the trust may be subscribing liberally to the funds of one political party in Australia.
– If it is not subscribing to the funds of our party, is it subscribing to the funds of the honorable member’s party? The honorable member ought not to make suggestions of that kind without justification.
E. - In America the trust has adopted the system of establishing boy companies very extensively, and it is pursuing the same tactics in Australia. We know that from the office in which it was formed in Brisbane a large sum of money has gone to the funds of one political party.
– The honorable member ought not to make such statements without some proof.
E. - I say that from the office of Messrs. Thynne and Macartney a large sum of money has gone to the funds of. a political party.
– Why does the honorable member make charges which are without any foundation in fact?
E. - I repeat that this money came through the office of the firm in question, and that immediately the Commission was appointed one of the members of that firm, who has been very actively associated with this trust, found it convenient to make a trip to Europe. Had he remained here, he might possibly have been called upon to give evidence before the Commission - evidence which might have not been of too pleasant a character.
– As a matter of fact, that gentleman was willing to give any evidence that it was in his power to give before he went to England. He sent a letter to that effect, and it is before the Commissioner. I would not have made this statement but for the fact that the honorable member has made a grossly unfair charge.
E.- I say it deliberately
– That is the worst aspect of it.
E.- I say it because I believe it.
– But the honorable member’s belief is not enough. He should be fair in these things.
E.- I say that the Beef Trust was formed in the office of Messrs. Thynne and Macartney.
– The honorable member ought not to make charges against a man who is absent.
E. - The gentleman to whom I refer found it convenient to leave Australia on a trip to Europe immediately the Commission was appointed. We know that the financial head of the trust in America, Mr. Dawes, is closely associated with Mr. Lorimer, who is the guiding star of a party in politics there, and who is one of its great fighters in Congress whenever the operations of the trust happen to come under review. The business of the trust has frequently been before Congress of late, and has been very severely criticised. Yet, on account of the great influence which it can exercise, nothing has been done in the way of bringing forward fresh legislation regarding it. Its ramifications have greatly exercised the minds of the people, and have reduced many persons to abject poverty. Owing to the ruinous tactics pursued by the trust, men have been compelled to commit suicide. I feel confident that it is the intention of this great octopus to capture the whole of the meat trade of Australia. In my opinion, it will have very little opposition to face in that trade within the next year or two. Now that honorable members are about to appeal to the country, we shall not have much opportunity of preventing its operations.
– What does the honorable member say should have been done?
E. - I have suggestions which I had intended to make, but I found it was useless to make them, because the Government are not inclined to enact legislation regarding the trust.
– Has the honorable member made any suggestions?
E.- Yes; but I am not going to give them to the honorable member at the present time. Had the Minister brought forward the Bill which he proposed to introduce it was my intention to have thrown out the suggestions which I have in my mind. One of the things which the Minister of Trade and Customs will have to do in the near future is to establish branches of the Statistical Department in each of the States. It is now the middle of the year, and we have not yet the figures relating to the slaughterings for 1913. Mr. Knibbs says that he cannot obtain them from the other States because they are not agreeable to act under his instructions. It will be necessary to secure those figures before much in the way of legislation can be brought forward. I shall be glad to know whether the present Government, if returned to power, will introduce proposals dealing with this matter at an -early date. At the same time I feel that they will be denied the opportunity of doing so. I am convinced that it will be the -members of the late Government upon whom will devolve the task of submitting legislative proposals in this connexion.
– Will the honorable member allow the Trust Bill, which is now upon the business-paper to go through this House without debate?
E. - I would be glad to do anything in that direction, because I am more than anxious to see legislation enacted dealing with this trust.
– Ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if he will allow the Referenda Bills to pass without debate?
E.- Yes, I am prepared to make an agreement of that kind with the Minister. At the present time we know that the American Beef Trust practically controls the London meat market. Until it has absolute control of that market, and of the Australian meat market, the prices on the London market will remain so low that the Australian exporter will be prevented from exporting meat to the Old Country because he can get a better price for his article locally than he can obtain for it in London. It is admitted in the Pastoralists’ Review that the Beef Trust has absolute control of the London meat market.
– Then what is the use of us legislating here?
E. - With the aid of legislation we can secure very much better conditions than obtain to-day. This is what the Pastoralists’ Review of 15th May last said in connexion with the London meat market -
Whatever reports may be true regarding the purchase of meat-works or outputs in Australia it is, I believe, almost an undisputed fact that by June or early in July the frozen beef market will be mainly in the control of the American beef firms. This is an unprecedented situation, and one to be watched with the closest interest.
These people are in favour of the Beef Trust so far as the prices of cattle in Australia are concerned, yet they admit that the trust will have control of the London meat market this year. We know the operations of the Beef Trust, and the position they occupy throughout the world.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- To-day the Leader of the Opposition made it clear that when the elections occur, the Labour party again, as they did at the elections in May last, will pledge themselves to effective Protection. The Prime Minister, in reply to that statement, placed before the Committee the opinions expressed by the delegates at the Hobart Conference, held in 1912, and read from the official report, of the proceedings the motion submitted to give effect to effective Protection. It is a remarkable thing that in all the speeches the Prime Minister quoted in order to show that the Labour movement is against Protection, not one word was uttered against the principle of Protection, and that the speeches show that the majority of those connected with the Labour movement are opposed to giving high protective duties to manufacturers while sweating conditions are permitted in the industries protected. Every man and woman in the Labour movement is in favour of an effective system of Protection, and in order that we might bring about that form of effective Protection in which we, as a party, believe, we asked the people of Australia to so alter the Constitution as to -allow the National Parliament to pass the necessary industrial legislation to bring it about. We appealed to the people in 1911, and on a second, occasion in 1913, but, unfortunately for the manufacturers and the workers engaged in the industries, the electors did not respond to our appeal. After the 1911 appeal, Mr. Fisher, at Maryborough, made a clear and definite promise that if the Constitution was not altered in the direction advocated by the Labour party, his party, if returned, to power, would immediately bring about effective Protection; and to-night again, speaking on behalf of the Labour party, the right honorable gentleman has repeated that assurance. The Prime Minister has questioned the sincerity of that promise, and quoted the opinions of the delegates at the Conference referred to; but it was recognised at the Hobart Conference that there was but slight difference between the idea that the mover of the motion had regarding effective Protection and new Protection. It was the opinion of the majority of the delegates that the plank then on the Labour platform, that of new Protection, was sufficiently in accord with the views of the majority of the electors. We knew at the time that we intended again to ask the people of Australia to alter the Constitution. The honorable member for Werriwa has accused the Labour party of being responsible for the high Tariff that he declares is in operation; he throws the whole responsibility for the high Tariff on the shoulders of the Labour party because of the votes of members of the party in this Parliament; whereas at the last election almost every newspaper in Australia said that the Labour party were responsible for the fact that there was not an effective system of Protection in operation in the Commonwealth. So there we have two different opinions as to the effect of the attitude of the Labour party towards the Tariff. I am certain that if, as the result of the approaching appeal to the people, the Labour party secure a majority, one of the first acts of the Labour Government will be to revise the Tariff with a view to giving more effective Protection to many of our industries. Such a step would only be consistent with our advocacy of industrial legislation. The honorable member for Darwin to-night referred to the fact that in Japan, in some industries, workmen are paid 9d. or ls. a day. I do not intend to take Japanese competition into serious consideration at the present time. Our principal competitors in the manufacturing industries are probably Great Britain, Germany, and America. We say that industrial legislation is necessary to put our manufacturers under equal conditions in regard to competition. Under the old system of freedom of contract, one manufacturer, to compete with advantage with his rivals, would try to obtain labour as cheaply as possible, and to obtain still further advantage adulteration would be resorted to. Our industrial legislation was designed to prevent this, and to give every man and woman engaged in manufacturing decent conditions, regular hours, and fair wages. Laws passed to this end operate in every State. Yet honorable members supporting the Government, who say that they favour such legislation, advocate the removal of protective duties which prevent the manufacturers of sweated labour from being imported to compete unfairly with local manufactures. The honorable member for Werriwa, a Government supporter, says that the abolition of protective duties would decrease taxation. The abolition of protective duties might cheapen many articles in general consumption. It might, for instance, “make mining machinery cheaper. But it would also lessen the employment in the engineering trade, and in many other industries. .
n. - And when the local manufacturers had been destroyed, the importers’ prices would be raised again.
– Yes. The honorable member for Werriwa tells us that the President of the United States of America has come definitely to the conclusion that the protective Tariff of his country has brought into existence the great trusts and combines which operate there to-day, and that they can be got rid of only by altering it. Congress has, at his suggestion, reduced the duties, although the Tariff still remains higher than that of Australia. When Mr. Woodrow Wilson was elected President, the American Tariff was almost prohibitive, and under it the great manufactures of the country were built up. If we leave our ports open to the imports of countries where labour in comparison with Australian labour may be said to be sweated, we shall do great injustice to our manufacturers, and to every man and woman who depends on them for a livelihood. The Tariff question will be an important issue at the election, and one on which the people should rivet their attention. If a Court or a Wages Board decided that the operatives in any industry should work only six hours a day, and be paid 15s. a day, that decision would be of no value if, as the result of an ineffective Tariff, there were no work to be got in the trade concerned. We have always advocated effective industrial legislation in the form of new Protection, but, to enable the country to get the full benefit of such legislation, manufacturing must be in a prosperous condition, and the manufacturers must be protected from unfair competition of rivals abroad. It was the first duty of the National Parliament to give this protection. Every Fusion candidate in Victoria at the last election said that! it would be the first duty of his party, if returned to power, to alter the Tariff, but no attempt has been made by the Cook Government to do that. Ministers promised the people that they would bring in Protection, and would establish sound financial economies ; but, instead of dealing with national questions, they commenced by trying to pick a quarrel with the Opposition, in order to bring about the dissolution of both Houses of the Parliament. The measure introduced to bring about the dissolution was that for the abolition of preference to unionists in Government employment. As a trade unionist, I have always held that if there are any in the community deserving of preference, they are the members of unions, who have fought for, and paid for, the bettering of working conditions. But as a measure on which to dissolve both Houses of the National Parliament I say that the Bill was not worth the paper on which it was written. The question is not a national one; but this “shadow of a sham” was introduced of set purpose. The majority of honorable members on this side had the honour of being trade unionists before they were members of Parliament; and under no circumstances could they accept a measure that meant anything in the way of an attack on the principle of unionism. Although this Bill did not affect a great number of people, I was bitterly opposed to it, because if it were allowed to pass without opposition it would have been regarded by some people as an indication that, in a certain degree, we were prepared to swallow our principles. The great show-card of the Government at the last election was a system of national insurance to provide against unemployment, accident, and general disasters to workers. What has become of that proposal? There are people who are unfeeling enough to say that there are no unemployed in Victoria ; but in the metropolitan area to-day there are between 6,000 and 7,000. If the Government were desirous of carrying out the principal planks of their platform, why did they not introduce their measure for national insurance? Had such a measure been introduced with, the object of alleviating the hardships undergone by the average working man, all honorable members on this side would have been only too pleased to give it whole-hearted support. But the Government never had any intention to give effect to such a system. It is generally admitted, and it was recognised by the Attorney-General and every supporter of the Government, that the Constitution does not give Parliament the power to pass a measure of the kind. An appeal is to be made to the electors ; but we have no proposal to alter the Constitution, though I have no doubt that a system of national insurance will again be the trump-card of the Government. Even if the Government were returned to power on that issue, what would be the result? The Bill would be placed on the statutebook, but it would receive the same treatment at the hands of the High Court that was given to the Excise Tariff Act, the Trades Union Marks Act, and the Seamen’s Compensation Act. I ask the Attorney-General whether he considers that this Parliament has the necessary power to give effect to a system of national insurance as advocated by his party at the last election? This is a question on which the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister should be absolutely candid. When the AttorneyGeneral opened his campaign, he proclaimed from every platform that the Liberal Government, if returned, would abolish the system of old-age pensions. He also said that he did not approve of the maternity allowance, and would substitute something better in the shape of national insurance.
– That statement has been repeatedly denied by me.
N. - I wish the honorable gentleman would give an official denial through the press in which the statement appeared. The statement has appeared again and again that the AttorneyGeneral said that if he had the power he would immediately abolish old-age pensions, because the system “ sapped the moral fibre “ of the men of Australia.
– That statement has never been made in the press.
N. - It has appeared in the press, and it is the duty of the AttorneyGeneral, if it is not correct, to have it contradicted.
– The statement the honorable member has made has never appeared in the press.
N. - In this House I have quoted the statement, the name of the newspaper, and the date on which the speech was made ; and no person can forget words of that description. At the outset of his election campaign the AttorneyGeneral tried to direct the attention of the people to the importance of the Government scheme of national insurance; and at the latter end of the campaign he was asked by one of his audience whether he considered there was the necessary constitutional power to give effect to it. Up to then the honorable gentleman had never expressed any doubt; but when he was brought face to face with the question he made the reply, “ I believe we have that power ; but, if not, we shall ask the people of Australia to give the power by an alteration of the Constitution.”
– I shall confine my remarks mainly to the questions of Protection, initiative and referendum, and elective Ministries. We shall never have a proper protective system until the people have the power of controlling the Parliament. The present Government cannot claim to have introduced any protective policy whatever. If they sincerely wish to introduce a protective Tariff, let them take the business out of the hands of the Inter-State Commission, or make the Commission hand in a report on certain matters that can be dealt with. If they say that our Government did not bring in a definite and full Tariff, I will admit it; but many articles were dealt with by us in the 1910 and 1911 Tariffs. Those measures were not merely a rectification of anomalies, but benefited many trades and callings. It is only by a technical legal twisting of the Constitution, and the bringing in a Bill that was a farce and a fraud, that the Government have brought us before the people. The Prime Minister said we went out with a majority of ten at the last elections, and came back in a minority of one. As a matter of fact, we did not lose in actual numbers. If we take the two
Houses together, we actually gained one member, but, unfortunately, our huge majority was in another place.
n. - We gained four.
– I thought we increased our numbers from sixty-five to sixty-six. On the other hand, the Ministerial party in the Senate went out fourteen strong, and came back only seven strong, thus losing 50 per cent. in a House of which the franchise is more equitable in its incidence than the franchise of this House. On the other hand, our increase in that Chamber was 175 per cent., let me remind the Prime Minister. He also said that we boasted that we had done away with borrowing, and taunted us with having actually incurred a debt of £9,000,000 through the note issue. Was ever such a ridiculous statement made? The present Treasurer has gone out of his way to insist on a gold reserve of 25 per cent. up to £7,000,000, and pound for pound after that.
– No, it is 40 per cent. all through.
Y.- I shall prove that the Treasurer has not kept himself posted in what the world is doing in reference to its gold reserve in comparison to its liabilities. When the banks held the gold, it was supposed to be held only against the note issue, but it must not be forgotten that they had a large fluid liability in the shape of current accounts or deposits at call. In addition, every deposit receipt held by the Associated Banks at interest was a liability upon them. I propose to show that it is ridiculous to say that the money raised by the note issue was a loan. It is bringing in interest to the Commonwealth, because a large portion of it has been lent to the States. This is the first time that any British Dominion has ever been so fortunately placed. The Australian Insurance and Banking Record, for 1909 shows that the notes in circulation by all the banks in the Australian States before the Commonwealth note issue entered into competition with them totalled £3,397,677. Adding the Treasury notes issued by the State of Queensland to the amount of £1,540,103, we get a sum total of £4,937,880 of notes issued. That has been doubled. So that at the present moment, to quote from the same authority at page 424, the Australian notes issued here are £9,765,131½, the half note being a 10s. note. It shows that the note issues have more than doubled. It shows that, possibly, not a fair tax was paid on the notes that were issued by the financial institutions. Otherwise, how in so short a time could such an increase of notes be utilized throughout the length and breadth of Australia ?
– The banks had to keep certain notes of issue in their coffers at all times.’
Y. - I have some little knowledge, but do not want to go into details. I was in a bank for seven years, and therefore I know something about the matter. What I want to show is that, whereas the banks had a certain amount of gold, they had many liabilities. But the gold reserve which the Treasurer is holding up to 46 per cent. - 43.85 per cent, at the present moment - is one which no country in the world has ever had. The only liabilities against that issue are the notes. There are no current accounts, no deposits at call, no deposits at interest. There are none of the liabilities which mount up to the banks, and which in hours of need and trouble that we hope will never come again are unrealizable when they try to bring in their advances. I propose to quote from page 204 of the Australasian Insurance and Banking Record for 1909 to show the ridiculousness of the Treasurer holding a gold reserve of 43.85 per cent. -
Messrs. T. J. Thompson & Sons, in their stock and share report, dated Sydney, 1st March, preface their notes on market operations with the following remarks : - “ One hears and reads a lot of rubbish about gold and about the advantage to the world and nations and people to stock up large supplies of the metal. Well, the experience of the world must, on a very large scale, bo very much what ours is. We buy and sell hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of securities in a year, and how much gold do we handle? Practically none. A little small change is needed for retail purposes, but to .have more than a pound or two in coin in your pocket is a positive nuisance. What we want is a good banking balance. ‘That means gold,’ many will say; but it means nothing of the kind. You could get gold, doubtless, if you were silly enough to burden yourself with it; but, then, you do not do anything of the kind. It may be said that your bank keeps your gold for you ; but we know of an instance where a Sydney bank cleared many tens of thousands in cheques in a day, and at the close of business its difference settled at the clearing was infinitesimal. There are in New South Wales banks £18.000,000 in current accounts and £26,000,000 in deposits at interest, and the banking transactions in the course of the year run up to fully £500,000,000; but the gold banks hold is less than £10,000,000, and we could double the banking deposits and pass £1,000,000,000 in cheques through the banks with a smaller stock of gold than they hold to-day.”
Any statist shows that, as regards the transactions of the New York Stock Exchange for one month only, the whole of the gold, silver, and copper currency in the world could not settle them. Quoting from page 929 of the same volume, the gold reserve of all the banks was £26,000,000, but they had- total liabilities of £122,000,000- namely, current notes, £4,900,000; deposits at call, £45,000,000 ; deposits at interest, £69,000,000; that is, only 21 per cent, as against 40 per cent., or to be more accurate 43.85- per cent, which the Treasurer wants to hold against the Australian notes. I intend to show that whereas the whole of the gold in the banks of Australia at that time was £26,000,000, the amounts dealt with by the clearing house for Melbourne from 13th April to 11th May, 1914, totalled over £27,000,000, and the balances, which were settled by certificates - that is IOU’s, so to speak, which are generally printed on parchment, going up to £1,000 in value - amounted to £1,700,000. The actual balance of that huge amount settled in coin was only £1,119,000. Although the settlement in coin was not 5 per cent.,yet the Treasurer says that we ought to keep a big balance of 43.85 per cent. That means that forty-three sovereigns must be kept for every £100 of a certain currency. There is not a banking institution that could possibly exist to-day if it were carried out in such a stupid and blundering fashion. No country yet has succeeded in being great that has had a Free Trade policy. The trade of Great Britain in the earliest part of last century was built upon possibly the strongest Protectionist Tariff that it has had. Out of the 200 death penalties which then degraded the statute -book, seventy-five were for breaches of the Customs and Excise Acts. Take the history of any country in the world. Whenever manufactories have sprung up in the cities they have become populous, rich, and dominant. But according to the Boeotian intellect, as the old Greeks termed it, the country that had no manufactures, no Protection, generally failed, and fell to the lot of being conquered by the stronger nations around it. The case of
England itself I have mentioned. The United States of America has built up by Protection its greatness, not by any means perfect, but which will become perfect. By the power that is now causing an absolute revolution in the form of the referendum and initiative, that protective policy will be carried out. The present Government would not dare to sit on the Treasury bench, nor would any such Government be there if the people had only the power by the referendum and the initiative of insisting upon a Tariff being brought into the House. What an absurd act it was for the Government to refer the Tariff to a Commission of three members. I certainly admit that the long experience of Mr. Lockyer justified his appointment to the Inter-State Commission. I feel perfectly sure that the ex-Minister of Trade and Customs will agree with me that Mr. Lockyer never betrayed partisanship on any side of politics.
– That was my experience of him.
Y.- It was the experience, too, I think, of every one who came in contact with Mr. Lockyer. I have no doubt that Mr. Lockyer will maintain a judicial attitude as a member of the Commission. Coming to Mr. Piddington, the Chairman of the Commission, we cannot forget that he accepted an appointment to the High Court Bench, but had not sufficient backbone to retain it. Because a few barristers yelped that others had more experience to fit them for the position he resigned.
– It was not only barristers, but the Argus and the Tory press generally, that made that statement.
Y.- That is so. His backbone must have been of that “ gelatinous compound “ to which the AttorneyGeneral referred when describing the Liberal party’s policy. He had not the courage to grasp the honour conferred upon him, but withdrew from the position. I say “ fiddlesticks to such a man!” The electors of Australia would not elect a man of that type to the position of Chairman of the Commission. Coming to Mr. Swinburne, I have to say at once that he is a personal friend of mine, but in politics we must express our opinions regardless of considerations of friendship, and I have yet to learn that Mr. Swinburne was ever a Protectionist. There is not one dominant Protectionist on the Inter-State Commission. I should not mind if we had a genuine Free Trader and an out and out Protectionist on the Commission, with Mr. Lockyer to hold the balance between them. A wise and cynical old German once said that if the making of this earth had been placed in the hands of a Commission, we should never have had it, and I am afraid that the Government intrusted the Inter-State Commission with the work of inquiring into Tariff anomalies in order to delay their rectification. Has any member of the Government definitely stated that he will support a Protectionist policy?
Y.- Has any member of the Government said that he will insist upon a Tariff Bill being brought in next session ?
Y.- Not one. On the other hand, every member of the Labour party is pledged to the policy of the new Protection, which will ultimately dominate the whole of Australia, and which will be stiffened and given a backbone if we adopt the initiative and referendum. With the initiative and referendum there can be no question of the “ ins “ and the “ outs.” The sovereign power of the people will prevail. Until it was mentioned by the honorable member for Darwin, no one here - not even the United States Consul - was aware of what had taken place regarding the direct election of United States senators. That has been brought about by the initiative and referendum, which has spread over most of the western States and a large proportion of the eastern States. At the present moment 283 cities in the United States of America possess that power, and the revolution which Has thus been brought about is as great as was that which followed the freeing of the slaves. In The World Almanac and Encyclopedia for 1914, we have the following statement at page 728-
Upon 8th April, 1913, the Legislature of Connecticut passed a Bill notifying the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States, providing for the election of United States senators by direct vote of the people. The vote of Connecticut was the final one required of three-fourths of the States to secure the adoption of the amendment. Thirty-six States, with Connecticut’s action included, had, up to 9th April, adopted the amendment. They were - Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado,
Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
Illinois- Chapter 25 of the Laws of 1913 - provides that a United States senator shall be elected on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November preceding the expiration of the term of office of each senator .in Congress from the State.
In only one instance have the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council of Victoria been called upon to select a senator to represent this State. On that occasion the members of the two Houses met in conference, and a division was called for by Mr. Prendergast and myself; The late Mr. Robert Reid was elected by a mighty majority. Later on, after he had vilely slandered the great Charles Cameron Kingston, he and his firm were proved in the Courts of this country to have been’ guilty of from eighteen to twenty-two separate cases of robbing the Customs. He was so careless of the statements which he made on oath while in the witness-box that the presiding Judge said that ‘he could view his statements merely as the foolish words of an irascible old gentleman. Had he been plain “ Tom Brown, pick and shovel man,” he would possibly have been prosecuted for perjury. We are told that of the dead we should speak no evil, but I consider it my duty to speak the truth, and the truth of what I have said about the late Mr. Robert Reid is shown by the public records. If the Government would bring in a Bill to provide for the initiative and referendum it would receive the support of every member of our party. The introduction of such legislation would be the greatest monument that could be raised to the memory of the man responsible for it. How can the Government refuse to trust the people who created this Parliament ? We as a party have adopted the principle, and will give effect to it if we come back with a majority. Even if we do not secure a majority, we shall fight for the initiative and referendum as one of the planks of our platform, believing that it is a power that the people should possess. If the people had enjoyed that power, what would they have done with the present Ministry, which has only introduced two spineless, gelatinous Bills prepared by the Attorney-
General, to whom the Governor-General has given the new name of Cleopatra!
– That is a libel on Cleopatra.
Y.- At any rate, her name will be famous as long as the world lives, and surely she could not have been such as the Attorney-General is? The honorable member belongs to an illegal and unregistered union. I would not blame him if he were man enough to admit it, and to give the same rights to every man throughout Australia. The third question I said I would speak on is that of Elective Ministries.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Fisher) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Fisher) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the second reading be made an Order of the Day for to-morrow.
– I am just wondering how big my booti is. However, I do wish to treat these Bills in a very much more ceremonious manner, and with greater courtesy and consideration, than our little Bill was treated in another place when we sent it hence. Whatever differences of opinion we may have, I hope that we shall always consider communications from another place with the courtesy they deserve.
.- I thank the Prime Minister for his statement, hut this is not a little Bill. It is a national Bill, dealing with an amendment of the Constitution, which this Parliament cannot by itself determine. The matter must be determined by the verdict of the electors of Australia, and all we are asking is that Parliament shall afford the citizens an opportunity to say whether they desire to amend the Constitution or not.
Question resolved in the affirmative. .
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Fisher) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the second reading be made an Order of the Day for to-morrow.
– The Leader of the Opposition said that these were national Bills, and must be decided elsewhere than in this House. He said that these are not “little” Bills, as was the one sent forward by the Senate. Has the honorable member withdrawn the statement which he made in thisHouse, that that Bill was a matter of very considerable importance, or is it still a little Bill as compared with these ? I think my right honorable friend characterized the Government Preference Prohibition Bill as a matter of vital principle; now he says it was a little Bill. These Bills which are now before us are important, and they have to be decided elsewhere, just as that other matter of vital principle has to. be decided elsewhere. I repeat that we shall treat these measures with the respect and courtesy which their importance deserves, and will not attempt’ to give them a twelve-inch boot.
.- I used the word “little” because the Prime Minister designated his own Bill “ little.”If the honorable member, its step-father, said that it was a little Bill, it was quite becoming on my part to use the same word.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Fisher) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Fisher) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate and (on notion by Mr. Fisher) read a first time.
Order of Business.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I understand that the Prime Minister proposes to put the Meat Export Trade Commission Bill first on the business-paper for to-morrow.
k. - Yes.
– I have asked my honorable friends on thisside not to debate it. The honorable member for West Sydney wishes to address himself to it for a short time, but we shall be prepared to facilitate its passage as expeditiously as possible. I presume that we shall get the Bills which have been received from the Senate passed in the same way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 June 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140611_reps_5_74/>.