5th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that a shadow of suspicion rests on honorable members generally in connexion with the removal from your desk, Mr. Speaker, of your copy of May’s Parliamentary Practice, and the destruction of the notes which were contained in it, and does he not think that the man who is mean enough to let this suspicionremain on his fellows should be dealt with? When are we to have the report of the Committee which investigated the matter?
-I remind the honorable member that the subject is still under investigation.
– May I ask the honorable member for Robertson if he will be good enough to reveal the name of the member to whom he refers, if he knows it?
– These questions cannot be allowed togo any further at this stage, the matter being still under investigation.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he will expedite the paymentof compensation under the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act. I have a case, and, I believe, other cases have been broughtundernotice by other honorable members, in which, although a considerable time has elapsed since the occurrence of an accident to a workman in the performance of : his duties in the Commonwealth employment, compensation has not yet been paid to him.
– I have not heard ofanycases of delay, but if the honorable member will be good enough to bringany that he may knowofunder my notice, I shall have matters expedited to the fullest possible extent.
– Yesterday a good deal was said about the printing of the electoral rolls. I have wired to the authorities in the various Status asking how matters were progressing, and would like to read the replies that I have received.
– From Sydney, New South Wales, comes this telegram -
Anticipate principal rolls all divisions this State will be printed and available for issue by 13th July. Rolls for some divisions will be available much earlier.
From Brisbane -
Printerhas undertaken to produce reprinted rolls in one month from Mondaylast. Copy is being suppliedat rate over 25,000 names daily. Approximately 370,000 names on roll.
From Hobart -
All rolls for State, except two small subdivisions, now in printer’s hands. Expect complete Denison division Friday night. Four remaining divisions at regular intervals up to, but not later than, 10th July.
I have not received a reply fromAdelaide. In Victoria the rolls are expected to be printed within a month from now.
– This is the 18th June, so that the rolls for Victoria will not be ready until the 16th July, and if the writs are issued on the 24th July,there will be onlya few days for the examination of the rolls by the public and the enrolment of names that have been left off. Does the Prime Minister think that that will be sufficient time?
– I do not know. This agitation of honorable members opposite is an absolutely now thing. We have not seen this feverish activity in connexion with enrolment on any previous occasion. Why is there all this trouble on the other side just now?
– Is the Prime Minister replying to the question ?
– Yes. I should like to know why there is thisconstant questioning about the rolls. Dohonorable members think that we are going to try to keep names off the rolls ?
– I believe thatthatis theOpinion.
– Then the honorable member believes all the lies that are being circulated about the country. In that case, I have no more to say to him.
– I ask the Prime Minister if he does not think that electors who are entitled to be enrolled should be given an opportunity to get their names placed on the rolls?
– What a silly question.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that there should be an interval of at least fourteen daysbetween the printing of the rolls and the issue of the writs, to provide a fair opportunity for the enrolment ofnames that havebeen left off ? Does ho not think that it is his duty, as well as mine, and that of every member, to give the fullest opportunities for enrolment, so that as many people as possible may exercise the right of citizenship at the pending election, when the poll is likely to be the largest that we have1 had in the Commonwealth?
– The answers to the questions are so obvious as not to need stating, and 1 shall make only this comment, that there will be more facilities for enrolment on this occasion than there were on the last occasion.
– I would remind the Prime Minister that in the outlying districts of Northern Queensland the distribution of the rolls is a tremendous task, because some places are served only by a fortnightly and others by a monthly mail. If the rolls do not catch the mails, they have to be sent out by special messengers, which costs an enormous sum. I urge that the printing of rolls for outlying districts should be done before the printing of rolls for districts in which they can be easily delivered, so that there may bo time for proper distribution ?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the electoral officers. It is a point that needs stressing.
– The Electoral Department claims the right to make further revisions of the rolls after the writs have been issued, and I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he will have the rolls, as so revised, posted outside every registrar’s office, so that those whose names have been erroneously struck off, although they are properly entitled to vote, may learn of this before polling day ?
– I should like to tell my right honorable friend that this Government is going to do something more than has ever previously been done in this respect. We are going to have the rolls made public with the names struck off.
– That has been done before.
– In view of the fact that the electoral officials are being flooded with thousands of fresh applications, will the Prime Minister be good enough to have hung outside each post-office the names of such applicants, and the names of those struck off the rolls?
– I am afraid there will be no good done until I make every member of this House a returning officer.
– May I suggest, sir- that if we are to be here much longer a radiator should be provided at this end of the chamber? It is very cold down here, not to mention the prospect outside.
– Last year I consulted the engineer about the placing of radiators in convenient portions of the chamber, but with regard to the fixing of a- radiator at that end, the difficulty was pointed out to me that it would interfere with the movements of honorable members passing from one side of the chamber to the other, especially during a division. The idea was found impracticable.
– I wish that you would take these radiators away.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs was reported in the Age of Tuesday as having said at a gathering of manufacturers that in the course of twelve or fifteen years Australian manufacturers had increased their output from £95,000,000 to £148,000,000. I desire to know if the honorable gentleman was correctly reported, and if he is not aware that Mr. Knibbs has published some figures, showing that in 1907 the output of factories was only £93,000,000, and that between that year and 1912 the output had gone up to £148,000,000, an increase of £55,000,000 in five years, and not in fifteen years, as reported in the newspaper ?
– The honorable member mentioned to me that he intended to ask this question. I have not with me the exact figures which I quoted; but if the honorable member will wait till tomorrow, I will give them then. If a mistake has been made, I shall be only too pleased to correct it. I spoke from figures I had by me.
Imprisonment of Cadets
– Is the Minister representing the Minister of Defence now in a position to inform the House as to the number of cadets who were imprisoned by the last Administration for breaches of the Defence Act?
– The notice-paper for to-day contains a question- on this subject and I am going to ask that the- question be postponed. I do not mind informing my honorable friend at once that this regulation has been in force for a number of years, and has been acted upon in a number of instances.
– With regard to the building of the Essendon Drill Hall, I desire to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether the latter will have a jarrah or Tasmanian hardwood floor substituted for the proposed asphalt floor? Perhaps I may be permitted to mention that when Sir Ian Hamilton was here he expressed his surprise that our drill halls were being floored with asphalt instead of with wood, so as to permit of social gatherings taking place.
– I shall immediately look into this question.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister of Defence tell me whether it is a fact that the Home naval authorities have refused to nominote a member for the Naval Board; and if so, will he lay their letter on the table so that we may read it?
– I am informed that there is no substantiation for the rumour.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral prepared to reconsider the decision of the Department not to sell supplies to persons who privately construct telephone lines? I may explain, sir, that in view of the congestion in the Department, many persons are hurrying on private construction. These lines, when they become payable, are very often taken over by the Department, but the material used does not pass through the critical inspection that the departmental material does,and finally the Department will get wire and material of which it should disapprove. It is all a question of public utilities whether privately or publicly constructed .
– I have not given any instruction that the Department should not supply wire and material to people who desire to carry out lines that may be taken over.
– You will not do it.
– I do not know that.
– In view of the answer given by the Postmaster-General to my last question, I hasten to assure the honorable gentleman that supplies have been refused.
– I am coming to the question, sir.
– Order ! The honorable member will not be in order in asking a question arising out of the answer given by the Minister to a previous question.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General if he will direct that supplies be granted to those privately undertaking the construction of telephone lines in order to cheapen and facilitate their construction ?
– I shall look into the matter. I cannot say what quantity of stock the Department has in. hand. I do not know that we have sufficient for our own requirements.
– Is the Postmaster-General yet in a position to announce the improved light to be adopted for the illumination of post-offices?
– Will the PostmasterGeneral be good enough to allow an installation of air gas at the post-office at Gladstone, which is a very important town in my constituency? At present kerosene lamps are used for lighting the building.
– I cannot understand why the Department has not provided aerogen gas in the majority of country post-offices before this time. Departmental officers - I do not know whether it is in the Home Affairs Department or in mine - have been experimenting, or are supposed to have been experimenting, with this system for sometime, but I know perfectly well that I could make up my mind in twenty minutesas to the kind of aerogen gas I would install if I were putting up a place. I have done it on my own account, and I am going to try to force the thing for tha benefit of honorable members.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs inform me what stage the proposal for a new post-office at Finley has reached?
– I have never known anybody so eager for works as is my honorable friend. I congratulate him. I ask him to put a question on the notice-paper. He has got the land for his district, and he is getting the building during the same year. He is a marvel. newhebridies.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs noted the announcement quoted from French newspapers of the possibility of a partition of the New Hebrides? Has he any communication to make to the House on the subject, or can he say how far the negotiations have proceeded through the ColonialOffice?
– As far as I can remember, there has been no mention in any official communication of partition being possibly, or probably, the solution of the New Hebrides question. The question of cession has been mentioned in the press; and at this stage, now that the Conference is sitting, I think I may say that the attention of the Imperial Government was called to the fact that the Commonwealth would favorably consider a solution that might involve the cession of the islands to Great Britain, even if it were necessary that we should assume some reasonable financial responsibility. The Imperial Government are quite seized of the views of the Government on the matter. Indeed, some time ago, about the beginning of March, when an answer was given to a question in the House of - Commons, which seemed to me somewhat to indicate that there might be a possible misapprehension on the point, for which our communications seemed to leave no opening, the Prime Minister telegraphed to the Imperial Government, calling attention to a certain despatch and what had been said ; and in reply an assurance was given that the matter had not been overlooked. I feel sure that the Imperial Government will remember, when the occasion serves, our suggestions as to the solutions possible. As to partition, if I was at this moment to offer an opinion on the point, I would say that it may involve some difficulties which writers seem not to fully appreciate. Assuming there is a difference in effectiveness between the two systems of national administration, partition diminishes but does not remove the alleged evil, though it does remove the weakness incident to any system of joint control.
– Do you not think that you had better settle the Northern Territory before you settle the New Hebrides?
– Order ! The Minister is replying to a question.
– That is a poser for him.
– I am only dealing with this question now. I might also say to the honorable member that if one takes up a map and considers the possible lines of division in the light of the interests that are acquired or claimed in the New Hebrides, and also the situation of the principal harbors, it may be thought that partition will raise a good many difficulties. At least, it is not quite so simple a matter as the writer in the French newspaper seems to consider it.
Universal Penny Postage
-W nen the Postmaster-General attends the International Postal Conference, to be held shortly at Madrid, will he urge the desirableness of holding the next meeting of the Conference in Australia, so that these Old World specialists may become better acquainted with the Commonwealth ? I desire also to know whether the honorable gentleman will urge, as the vast majority of the people of Australia desire, that we should have universal penny postage.
– I believe that, when the honorable gentleman attended the last International Postal Conference, he moved that its next sittings should be held in Australia. I shall follow in his footsteps by submitting the same proposition. As to universal penny postage, there is some difficulty regarding the matter of weights, but, when at the Conference, I shall go carefully into the question.
Use of Donnybrook Stone
– Will the Honorary Minister state whether tenders have yet closed for the supply of Donnybrook stone, which, it is proposed, shall be used in constructing the new General Post Office, Perth ; and, if so, whether he is in a position to make any announcement regarding the use of that material?
– Tenders closed in Perth, I think, yesterday or the day before, but I have not yet had an opportunity to go into this question, which is a very complicated one. The use of Donnybrook stone in the construction of the Perth General Post Office was first brought under my notice by the honorable member for Perth, who raised the question just after we took office. I told him then that I was very anxious to use this Western Australian stone, if it could be employed at reasonable cost, in the construction of the building, and I sincerely hope that the result of our calling for tenders will demonstrate that it is possible to use it.
– Referring to the representations made some time ago to the Minister of Trade and Customs by the honorable member for Maranoa and myself, regarding ithe tobacco-growing industry in New South Wales, the low prices paid for the leaf, and the quality of the leaf grown, I desire to ask the Minister whether he has been able to obtain, for the benefit of growers, any information on the subject?
– The honorable member mentioned this question to me last night, and I am in a position now to furnish the House with a reply to our communication on the subject, which we have received from the Government of New South Wales. The honorable member, together with the honorable member for Maranoa, made representations to me some time ago, and during the recess I forwarded to the honorable member for New England copies of the replies which we had received to our communications from the Governments of Queensland and Victoria. I propose now to read the following letter, dated 4th instant, which we have received from the Premier of New South Wales : -
Sir, - With reference to your letter of the 12th December, 1913, with regard to the attitude of tobacco companies towards Australian tobacco-growers, I have the honour to inform you that from inquiries made it would appear that the trouble has been caused by the pro duction locally of large quantities of inferior tobacco leaf. The manufacturers have stated that they are prepared to take almost unlimited quantities of first quality leaf, but that the consumption of low quality is very small, and they are now overstocked with it.
Having regard to the above facts, this Government is now inviting applications for the position of tobacco expert, whose duties will include the instruction of growers in up-to-date methods of growing, harvesting, and curing leaf. This, it is hoped, will result in the production of a much higher quality leaf. If this can be successfully accomplished, the industry will be placed on a much more satisfactory footing.
Two petitions with reference to the question of Excise Were presented by the honorable member, and these have been referred to the Inter-State Commission, who have advised me that the matters referred to are now set down for hearing, and that the producers will be advised of the date on which the Commission will be able to take evidence on the subject.
Oil Industry: Supply of Machineey - Wireless Station at Woodlark Island.
– Can the Minister of External Affairs inform the House what progress has been made in the erection of machinery in Papua for the development of the local oil industry, and when any definite result will be known ?
– Dr. Wade, an expert, is on the field at the present time. The reports coming from him are rather technical in character, but they indicate that, as the sinking goes on, the good prospects evident on the surface are being maintained. I am told that it is very difficult to be absolutely sure of the oil prospects of a field until a great depth has been reached. I cannot say exactly to what depth the shaft has been sunk. On the advice of the expert, a new shaft is being sunk on a new part of the field, and about a month ago a depth of 254 feet had been reached. I was then informed that the prospects of the field were then even more favorable than they were at the outset. As to the question of machinery, I may say that, speaking generally, a boring plant is the only machinery on the field at present. A new plant for heavier sinking was ordered about two months ago, but I cannot say whether it has yet reached the field. I can assure the honorable member, however, that no time is lost in acceding to every request that comes from the expert in Papua to supply whatever is necessary to fully develop the field.. On the whole, I am rather sanguine that a” big thing ‘ ‘ has been discovered in Papua.
– Following up the question asked by the honorable member for South Sydney, I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether the Government have yet considered the almost absolute necessity of establishing a wireless station on Woodlark Island? Is the honorable gentleman aware that the white people throughout the Territory feel that it is more necessary that a station should be established there than in other parts of the Territory which have been mentioned in this connexion ?
– I considered this matter, and reconsidered it when the LieutenantGovernor of Papua was here recently. I intend to ask the Treasurer for a sum of money to enable wireless communication to be established between Woodlark Island and Samarai. I hope that the Treasurer will be generous enough to give us all that we want, but I think that, even if we do not get all that we ask, a station should be established first of all at Woodlark Island.
– I ask the Minister of External Affairs whether any decision has been arrived at with regard to the application of Mr. Priddle, and others who explored Papua for oil, for a lease of a portion of the oil-bearing country. The honorable gentleman might say, generally, in what position the matter is at the present time?
– Speaking from memory, I think that the application referred to must have been made some months past. I cannot, for the moment, give the particulars. I know that generally I have refused to give any leases of oil-bearing country until we know exactly what has been discovered there. The question whether leases should be granted or not will then come up for consideration.
Loans to Farmers - Exchange
– Will the Treasurer suggest to tlie Governor of the Commonwealth Bank that loans should be granted to farmers and settlers at the same rate as is charged to municipal councils, namely, 4½ per cent., instead of6 per cent., as is being charged farmers at the present time?
– I shall be glad to bring the honorable member’s suggestion before the Governor of the Bank. As he knows, I can do no more than that.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question similar to that put to him by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. Will the right honorable gentleman undertake to ask the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank not to differentiate between town and country in the matter of loans? Will he ask that money be available at 4½ per cent. to dwellers in town as well as to farmers?
– The honorable gentleman must know that the management and control of investments is not in the hands of the Government, but in those of the Governor of the Bank.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is possible for the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, outside Savings Bank deposits, to lend money at 4½ per cent., and make a legitimate profit? I ask also, whether, in view of the serious state of our finances, as mentioned by the honorable member for Kennedy yesterday, the Treasurer will try to stop the leakage of £8,000 a year for exchange, which, I assume, is still being charged on Government business?
– The matter of exchange will have to be considered.
– Why not alter the account if the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank charges the Government exchange?
– The arrangement was made before I took office and I did not feel justified in interfering with it off-hand. At the same time, I am not at all pleased with it. We used to get exchange free throughout Australia with the exception, I think, of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. We have now to pay exchange.
– The Governor of the Commonwealth Bank is giving the Tasmanian Government exchange free now.
– We shall have to look into the matter again. It is not very satisfactory. The Government have been anxious to do all they can to assist the Commonwealth Bank. They have no desire to put any more obstacles than already exist in the way of its progress. In regard to the question as to whether the loans referred to will pay or not, I should say that, being a banker, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank would not be likely to lend money unless he could make a profit by doing so.
– I wish to ask a question about what is known as the “ root of all evil.” We have been told by the Minister of External Affairs that the Treasurer is in a generous mood, and I should like to know whether the right honorable gentleman is aware that I was deprived of several weeks’ salary last year, and that, in all probability, I shall be deprived of several weeks’ salary this year. I ask the honorable gentleman whether he is aware that during those weeks in this year in whichI shall receive no emoluments I shall be carrying on my duties as a representative of the public. Is the Treasurer aware that last year during several weeks I was occupied in attending to my public correspondence and receiving deputations without receiving remuneration for my work ? In view of the fact that the public of Australia are under the impression that I, and other members of this House, will be receiving full remuneration for serving the country, will he place on the Estimates a sum to recoup me for the loss which I shall sustain as a result of the double dissolution. I put it to the right honorable gentleman to say whether he does not think it is fair and just that he should do something of the kind ? I hate to have to refer to these matters.
– The honorable member is aware that if it was a personal matter I should be very glad to oblige him, but the allowance to members of Parliament is governed by Statute. The honorable member was well aware of the provisions of the Statute when he acceded to the request of his constituents to test the election. I have not the power to deal with the matter other than as provided by law.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he is aware that he makes provision for the payment of the salary of Mr. Speaker during the time Parliament is being elected. I should like to know from him under what law and by what authority that is done ?
– I believe that it is by the authority of a vote of this House.
Mr. Teesdale Smith’s Contract : Select Committee - Conduct of Work
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question without notice.
– Honorable members have been asking questions for forty minutes now. I should like to know how many more questions there are.
– I wish to ask the honorable gentleman whether, in view of the fact that the business of this House is likely to close - if not to-day, at any rate this week - consideration will be given to Order of the Day No. 8 on the business paper, dealing with the message from the Senate asking for the attendance of the Honorary Minister to give evidence before the Senate Select Committee on the Teesdale Smith contract?
– Is that question addressed to me ?
– I should say, if I were the Honorary Minister, I should let the Senate do as it pleased.
– It is pretty well doing that now.
– This is not very conciliatory.
– I want to point out a fact. If the statement of a fact antagonizes the Senate, well, it will have to be antagonized, that is all. It is only another instance of many that are occurring every day to show how impossible is the working of the two Houses of this Parliament as at present composed.
– It is a great Constitution.
– It is a great Constitution. No Constitution can be carried out except the people deal with it in the spirit in which it has been framed.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !
– That is a valuable admission.
– I recommend my honorable friends opposite, who are cheering so unitedly, to read sections 61 to 64 of the Constitution, which provide for responsible government. I say that responsible government is not being carried on to-day.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– Responsible government is being outraged every day in another place. Here is an instance of it. The whole business of responsible government is set contemptuously aside-
– Hear, hear! By the Government carrying on with the casting vote of the Speaker.
– While the Opposition pursue their own class propaganda in their own way.
– Is this in order?
– The honorable gentleman is not in order in making a speech.
– I am pointing out a fact. I have been asked a question. The question is whether we will permit the Senate to haul the Honorary Minister in this House before a Committee which was appointed for party reasons, and on purely political considerations. I am not afraid of even the Senate.
asked the Honorary Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The following papers were presented: -
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired under, at -
Sherwood, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Toowoomba, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Unley, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Dissolution: Candidature of Mr. W. A. Watt - Penny Postage - Telegraph and Telephonic Charges - Electoral Rolls - Absent Voting - Immigration Vote - Constitution Alteration Bills - Teesdale Smith Contract - Evasion of Drill - Policy of “ Spoils to the Victors “ - Invalid and Old-age Pensions - Compulsory Training - Protection - Naval and Military Defence - Maladministration of Electoral Act - Victorian Agency Company - “ Public Opinion “ - Commonwealth Bank - Amendment of Arbitration Act.
In Committee of Supply:
Consideration resumed from 17th June (vide page 2245), on motion by Sir John Forrest -
That a sum not exceeding £3,060,026 he granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1915.
. -First of all, I should like to offer my sympathy to the Victorian members on the Government side. My reason for doing so is that a certain decision has been come to which, to my mind, belittles those honorable members. I say in all sincerity that those who are their friends, and are particularly friendly to Mr. Watt, have gone out of their way to make it appear that, as the present honorable member for Balaclava is leaving the House, there must be Victorian brains brought into it, because there will be none when the honorable gentleman leaves. We heard of the Conservative leagues imploring Mr. Watt to leave the State House and enter this Chamber, and we are told that if he is returned here he will take up a portfolio at once. If that is the intention, it is a bit rough on the Victorian members on the Government side, whom I have known for some years to be capable men when they have the opportunity. I do not think it is fair for their friends to make it appear that it is necessary to introduce brains into the House because there are none amongst the Victorian members already here. I believe that there is just as good brains in this House to-day as there will be when Mr. Watt enters the chamber. To make the position more contradictory, it appears now that the reason why he left the State Legislature was that there was need for brains there, because I see in the Argus this morning that the Liberals are looking for a brainy man to lead the Victorian Legislative Assembly. However that may be, I do not think the articles that have appeared in the press lately treat Victorian members fairly,, and they have my sympathy. The present situation in Federal politics is most peculiar. Like all other individuals I have my own opinions, and however strong they may be I will express them. I have expressed the opinion that the contemplated dual dissolution is not fair to the people of Australia. I have publicly disagreed to the steps taken to bring this situation about, because I felt that it was not in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. I believe that the AttorneyGeneral created the present position, and that it did not arise constitutionally. May I remind honorable members that the Chief Justice of the High Court told the representatives of the Labour unions, and the legal gentleman who was appearing for them, that they had no right to create a position which would enable them to come to the Court. If the position had not arisen naturally, they had no right to make a position for the simple purpose of getting their case ‘before the Court. If they did create such a position, they would have to be put out of Court.
– The majority of the Court disagreed with the Chief Justice - wrongly, I admit.
– The majority of the Court have done many wrong things. If it is wrong to create au artificial position in order to get a case before the High Co.urt, how much more wrong is it for gentlemen occupying the Treasury bench to prepare a case and create a position upon which the GovernorGeneral is asked to give a decision ? Either they presented a case to him that was not a fair statement of the condition of things in this chamber, either it was wrong and misleading, or His Excellency did not go into the case with due regard to the spirit of the Constitution. If the Ministry created a position for the purpose of misleading the Governor-General they are unworthy of holding their present positions, and ought to leave them. The only opportunity we will get of proving whether they have done so is to ascertain exactly the con tents of the memorandum sent to the Governor-General, and I will not be satisfied until I know the purport of that document. I feel that the Government are afraid to place before us the reasons which they submitted to the GovernorGeneral in support of their request for a. double dissolution, either because they do* not desire to show us that they misled His Excellency, or because they wish toconceal the fact that, in acceding to their request, His Excellency acted weakly, inasmuch as the reasons upon which he based his action were weak. It has been demonstrated again and again in this Chamber that the Government Preference Prohibition Bill could accomplish nothing, inasmuch as preference to unionists had already been abolished by administrative act. But the Government recognised that whilst that measure would accomplish nothing, members of the Labour party were bound to fight it because it was intended as an attack upon a great principle.
– It was the enunciation of a great principle.
– It was the enunciation of a principle which could operate in no direction at all. The AttorneyGeneral created an artificial crisis because he knew that members of the Labour party would be bound to oppose that measure on principle. I come now to the second so-called test question - the proposed restoration of the postal vote. To me it is amazing that that section in politics which, for centuries, has opposed the enfranchisement of women should be consumed with anxiety to restore the postal vote. As a matter of fact, the birthrate amongst the labouring classes of the community is much higher than it is amongst other sections. The honorable member for Yarra has convincingly demonstrated that the highest birth-rate in Victoria obtains in districts which are represented by Labour men. Are we not desirous of securing as large a poll as are my honorable friends opposite?
– Then why do the Labour party object to postal voting?
– Because of the abuse which has attended the operation of that system. In this connexion I am reminded of an old rhyme that discloses the difference which exists between the birth-rate amongst the labouring classes and that amongst the Conservative sections of the community - for example, between the birth-rate in the electoral divisions of Melbourne Ports and Kooyong. It runs -
There was an old woman who lived in a snoe She had so many children she didn’t know what to do.
There was another old woman who lived in Kew,
She had no children - she knew what to do.
I have alluded to this aspect of the matter only because we shall be told by the Women’s National League, during the coming fight, that the Labour party refused to allow the mothers of Australia to exercise the franchise. They know perfectly well that this is so much claptrap. They know that whilst the Labour party lose by the abolition of the postal vote it prevents the corruption which takes place when that system is in vogue. In Queensland the Conservative section are afraid to handle the question.
– The postal vote has been restored in that State.
– Because our Conservative friends have found that the corruption attendant upon the system operates more in their favour than against them. To my mind, if we had a Court of appeal to which the question of the double dissolution could be referred, that tribunal would declare that the decision of the Governor-General was wrong; first, because he was wrongly directed by the Government; and, secondly, because it was against the weight of evidence.
– Then it was bad in law and in fact?
– The honorable member has cast a reflection upon the Governor-General, which he must withdraw. Our Standing Orders are very definite on the subject, and the expression that His Excellency’s decision was “ against the weight of evidence “ is not in order.
– If I am not allowed to give expression to my views in that way, of course I shall have to withdraw the remark. But I am forced into taking up my present position by the action of the Government in refusing to disclose the reasons upon which they based their request for a double dissolu tion. However, sir, I bow to your decision and withdraw the observation. We have been told that this Parliament was unworkable, and that a double dissolution was necessary, because the Senate would defeat any legislation which the Ministry attempted to place upon the statute-book. I admit that there have been two sessions of wasted effort. But the Labour party are not responsible for that, although, doubtless, the Conservative press and the Conservative leagues will endeavour, during the coming fight, to show the electors that we wasted the time of Parliament. As a matter of fact, the time was wasted by the Government themselves. They could have brought forward Bills which would have been beneficial to the people, and for which the Labour party would have been compelled to vote.
– The honorable member’s own party said that they would not allow anything to be passed.
– What a nonsensical remark to make.
– The honorable member for Kennedy said it.
– The honorable member for Kennedy is not the party. At any rate, I did not hear him say it, and I would rather take his own construction of what he said than that of the honorable member for Wilmot. The Government might have introduced legislation that the Opposition would have been compelled to support, and, in view of the peculiar position of the two Houses, that would have been a common-sense, or statesmanlike, policy. . It is nothing to the people of Australia that their Parliament is so peculiarly controlled, and that, by an accident, certain honorable members should be on one side and others should be sitting in opposition; the people have sent us here to pass legislation beneficial to them - something tangible - and not the puny measures that have been brought down by the Government. We have heard the honorable member for Wannon and other honorable members talking about the necessity for producing more grass for the cattle and sheep to feed on, and about the necessity for increasing our industrial production and manufactures, but the Government have made no attempt in that direction. Though, no doubt, this Parliament, in view of the legislative powers given to the Commonwealth, cannot do much in the direction of legislation such as is desired by honorable members on this side, had the Government so wished, we could have enacted much that the people of Australia have sent us here to pass. Such legislation would have been carried, not only in this Chamber, but also in another place.
– You are a bit late with your assurances.
– If the honorable member could have had his way, he would have brought in much that honorable members of the Labour party would have had to support. Why could not the Government have brought in an amending Defence Bill ? There was nothing to stop them. The experience we have had of our Defence Act has shown us its weaknesses, and that we could pass a really good measure that would give us a better defence system, both naval and military, and, at the same time, considerably reduce expenditure. There was no need for the Government to put off that measure until next year or next session. When next session comes, Ministers will have such a lot of work to do that they will not be able to undertake matters which are crying out for legislation.
– The present Government will not be in power.
– -My remarks will apply to any Government that is in power. Proper discussion of the defence question will occupy a considerable time, and will produce much good; but while present Ministers know that there is an amendment to the Act necessary, they proceed with their Government Preference Prohibition Bill, and with their Postal Vote Restoration Bill, in order to create a position which, according to the Chief Justice of the High Court, they have no right to create, which should have come about naturally, and should not have been created by the Government with any party motive. One of the few things that I have heard of as being on the Liberal platform is the matter of national insurance. I have not heard how Ministers intended to raise the necessary money, but the question is of such great importance that the House should have considered it on non-party lines, and come to a decision beneficial to the people. The scheme might have been embodied with the old-age pensions and maternity allowance. We might have provided for unemployment insurance, and for death insurance, and also for payments to widows. At any rate, we should have had the opportunity to place on the statute-book a measure which would have been beneficialto the people. Divided, as the House is, almost equally, we might have got a better discussion upon the question than we could get with a Government in a very much stronger position. Even Free Traders have said that they are desirous of wiping out anomalies in the Tariff. I have often said that the only anomaly in the Tariff is that the duties are not high enough ; but, of course, I could not get my way. There are many items, however, in respect of which the duties should be wiped out. For instance, there are duties on raw materials, whereas there are very small duties on the finished articles, or duties not as high as those on the raw materials. Again, there are many industries that are, perhaps, protected more than they deserve, and there are others that should have more consideration. All these matters could have been considered by the House if the Government had wished to bring about legislation of benefit to the people. It only proves that the Attorney-General had hismind made up prior to going to Warrnambool, about five or six months ago, and making that speech of his which was reported by a friendly press, which he cannot deny, and in which he told us that it was his intention to bring about a double dissolution by hook or by crook.
– Mainly by crook.
– Knowing that the Government could have done much to bring about beneficial legislation, is it any wonder that I feel, with many others, that some trick has been perpetrated onus by the Government? As far as I am concerned, I know that, D.V., I shall bereturned at the forthcoming elections, so, while I feel strongly on this matter, it isnot from a personal stand-point, but from a party stand-point. The Government have refused to let us know what they told the Governor-General, and I hope that pressure will be brought to bear tocompel them to disclose it. If any voteof mine will keep them here until they disclose it, it will be cast in that direction whenever the opportunity occurs, becauseI feel that we should know what really- was said to the Governor-General, in order that we may draw our own conclusions as to what did take place, and what should have taken place. The late Government’s policy in regard to the Post and Telegraph Department, which is a huge concern, was to construct all possible works out of revenue. The present Government wanted to borrow for the purpose, saying that future generations should pay their fair share towards the cost of works by which they are benefited. The Department will require huge expenditure for centuries, and once a borrowing policy is begun, it will become necessary to borrow teo much. It is just as well, therefore, to do the work out of revenue while we can. The way to get the necessary money out of revenue is to make the postal, telegraphic, and telephonic services pay.
– Do you advocate increasing the charges?
– We ought never’ to have lowered the postal rates. I fought the Bill, and went so far as to move that in Victoria the postage should remain twopence. We had no right to throw away £400,000 of revenue per year from postage. In fact, the first year we lost nearly £500,000, and the loss is still nearly £400,000. The reduction does not benefit the people as a whole. It simply benefits merchants and others carrying on large concerns in the cities.
– Did you vote against penny postage?
– I both spoke and voted against it. That £400,000 per binnum would have been better expended to provide increased facilities in country districts. Penny postage is of no use to the man on the land. How many thousand letters would he write in even a million years?
– Would you increase the postage on advertising circulars?
– I have not considered that phase of the question. If a man wanted to advertise, I would make “him pay for his facilities. The people in the country cannot get the telephonic facilities that they require, and yet -revenue is being given away to the large merchants by the reduction of postal rates and far too low telephonic charges. The telephone subscribers in the large cities are not paying half what they ought to pay for the benefits they receive. It costs only £6 per year, or about 2s. 2d. per week for my telephone, and I can say honestly that I could not do without it. Many business men running large concerns in Melbourne are paying, at the most, from 5s. to 6s. per week for their telephones, which save the cost of many messengers. In many places, without, the telephone, they would have to employ men as messengers ; but even if they employed only boys, it would cost them at least £1 per week. One big business man told me that his telephone service cost him £16 per year. When I asked him if it was cheap, he winked the other eye. Of course it is cheap, and he ought to be made to pay proper rates if the service is being run at a loss. We cannot hope to make the Department a paying concern while we are losing money on the postal, telephonic, and telegraphic services. A man uses the telegraph wires not for the benefit of the country, but for his own wants or requirements. Why, then, should he not pay adequately for the services he gets ? If the Telegraph Department is not paying, the rates should be increased.
– What about the lettergram 1
– If it is not paying, the charge should be increased.
– It should never have been introduced.
– I got a telegram from one of your union secretaries only the other day saying that they are very pleased with it, and it is paying very well.
– Does the lettergram pay?
– I say “Yes.”
– Then I have nothing to say against it; but I know the Telegraph Department is not paying. People in isolated places who are clamouring for services ought to get them, and the people in the cities who are already getting them ought to pay a fair price for them. I am not dealing with this matter on party lines at all. One estimable gentleman who used to be in this House thought the most heinous crime that the Labour party ever committed was in raising the telephone rates. When the honorable member for Barrier, who was then Postmaster-General, rose in this chamber to explain why he had raised the rates, most of us were against him. I thought that the £5 per year man had been unjustly attacked, particularly in Victoria ; but the honorable gentleman proved conclusively that it was necessary to raise the rates, and now we are told by the present PostmasterGeneral that every telephone for which the Department is receiving £4 per annum, costs more than £4 per annum in maintenance.
– I did not say that applied everywhere. I said the maintenance cost in Sydney was £4 2s. 8d.
.- The Governor-General has undoubtedly been advised by the Government that the present Parliament is unworkable, and that has evidently been made the main feature of the memorandum upon which the GovernorGeneral has acceded to their wishes; but as we are not allowed to know what representations were made to His Excellency by the other side, it is impossible for us to say what reasons they have urged why Parliament is unworkable. During the time I have been here I have seen no effort on the part of the Government to make it workable. The only evidence we have had of their doing anything beneficial to Australia as a whole has been their recognition of the fact that there is a Meat Trust in existence. We have forced the Government to recognise and admit the position, and they have emphasized that admission by appointing a Royal Commission.
– Does the honorable member not know that his own party appointed a Royal Commission, which found no evidence of the existence of a trust?
– It does not follow that there is no necessity for an inquiry now, and we are speaking of the state of affairs to-day. Further, a short Bill has been introduced and passed, in view of the fact that the powers of the Commonwealth were not sufficiently elastic to allow the Royal Commission to do the work required of them. The Governor-General has been advised that Parliament is un- workable, but this Bill, the only workable piece of legislation introduced, was passed with expedition in both Houses, although the Senate has been charged with defying the House of Representatives. These facts cannot be refuted. This morning it has been alleged that the Senate is trying to make the House of Representatives a. football in the game at the coming election : and the Prime Minister has said that if he were Honorary Minister, notwithstanding what this House might advise, and notwithstanding the rights of the Senate, he would refuse to give evidence before the Select Committee appointed by another place to inquire into the Teesdale Smith contract. The Honorary Minister evidently takes the attitude that the Senate has no right to inquire into the actions of the Government, but I maintain that the Senate is the States House, and that the States are deeply interested in the question. There is every right on the part of the Senate, by means of a Select Committee, to submit questions to those responsible for that contract, and, on the evidence given, to pronounce judgment; and the public ought to know that it is quite contrary to the fact that Parliament is being rendered unworkable by the actions of that House. Had the Government made any attempt to make the best use of this Parliament, it could have continued for the remainder of the term. And what is the issue on which the Senate desires to interrogate the Honorary Minister? It has been reiterated again and again that time was the essence of the contract with Mr. Tees- dale Smith, and that it was on this: account big priceswere given to the con- tractor and, presumably, small penalties imposed. We have heard it suggested, however, but the Honorary Minister, in a reply from the EngineerinChief, has denied it, that the Government will have to complete the I work by day labour ; and “ where there is smoke there is fire.” The contract has not been completed, and I maintain that the Senate has a perfect right to make any inquiry it pleases, seeing that honorable senators will shortly be called upon to face the people and give an account of their stewardship. It would be idle for me to traverse the arguments that have been advanced in relation to the points at issue on which a double dissolution has been granted. The true reasons for the dissolution have been proved over and over again, and only yesterday the honorable member for Maribyrnong quoted from a speech by the Attorney-General in the Wannon electorate, where that gentleman stated that the “ test “ Bills were to be submitted only to be rejected. Well, the Senate have acceded to the desire of the Government, and rejected a Bill with despatch, though not, perhaps, so quickly as was anticipated; and we are now face to face with a double dissolution. It is only right, under the circumstances, that the public should be made acquainted with the manner in which the Government are dealing with the Constitution. The Prime Minister refers to the spirit of the various sections of the Constitution, but it has been made clear by the honorable member for West Sydney and the honorable member for Bendigo that, by the action of the Government, the power of the Senate will be destroyed for ever, unless the people take the matter into their own hands at the election. We have heard a great deal of talk about electoral corruption, and so forth, and the Government are very keen on impressing on the public their desire to have a “ clean roll.” I can only say that if there is a clean roll at the next election it will prove one of the saddest days for the Government.
– There will be a “ clean sweep “ !
– I am prepared to prophesy that, so far as South Australia is concerned, there will be a “ clean sweep.” I should like to direct attention to the manner in which the present political situation is represented by the Melbourne correspondents of newspapers, who, we may assume, write with some inside knowledge. In the Adelaide Register, a Fusion daily, on Friday or Saturday last, the Melbourne correspondent stated -
Tlie whole object of the Opposition would seem to be to tie the Prime Minister down, and delay dissolving Parliament, not for the purpose of holding on to the emoluments of members, but with a view to obtain as long an interval as possible for the purpose of adding names to the supplementary rolls.
If that charge be true, surely it is something for which we may be commended rather than condemned. The Government have expressed their desire that every person possible shall be allowed to exercise the franchise, and to that we say “Hear, hear.” We have never yet tried to prevent any section of the community from having the fullest opportunity to vote, consistent with fair dealing. The correspondent to whom I have referred goes on to say -
The Ministerial party has absolutely set its face against any such proceedings, and the probability would seem to be that the issue of writs would follow very closely on the date of the dissolution. Once the writs are issued the rolls aru closed, so far as additions to them are concerned.
The newspaper seems to gloat over the fact that the Government can prevent names going on the rolls, and that, in doing so, they have something to be proud of. Which is the party that desires to give the greatest voting facilities to the electors of Australia - the party which would defer a dissolution to enable those who are not on the rolls to get there, or the party that would issue the writs immediately Parliament is dissolved, so as to prevent enrolment? Any blame that may be attached to this Parliament for practices leading to the disfranchisement of electors must be borne, not by the Opposition, but by the Government. The correspondent from whose letter I have quoted is, I take it, in touch with our business, attending here day by day, and, perhaps, has been inspired to write as he has written. Yesterday we had an inspired question about an electioneering pamphlet, to bring it before the public, and now we have this statement in the press, for the benefit of those who are likely to swallow it instead of looking more deeply into matters. It has been hinted that absent voting will have to be more strictly regulated. I hope that the Government will do nothing to limit the electors’ light to vote. The last Government tried to give the greatest opportunity for voting by enabling electors to vote out of their subdivisions. That facility was largely used, yet not so largely as our honorable friends opposite would make out. The correspondent from whose letter I have quoted says further -
Ministerialists feel that it would be almost criminal if, in the face of experience, they were to permit the absent vote to be used without additional safeguards.
What is the innuendo? It was freely stated after the last election that corruption had gone about naked, so that every one could see it, and we heard a great deal about the terrible things that had been done. But a Royal Commission which has inquired into these matters at great expense has found not a scintilla of evidence to justify what, was said. This correspondent is trying to raise a ghost to scare people. The suggestion is that under the last ‘ Labour Government an election was conducted in a way in which future elections should not be conducted. He continues -
On 31st May last there were, in some instances, more absent voters than resident electors in polling booths through the day, and it is understood that one of the effects of the new regulation, which will be prepared, will be to reduce an aggregation of this kind by making as many voters as possible exercise their franchise in their residential subdivisions.
That might be commendable if there were facts to justify it, and I think that the Electoral Commission should summon this correspondent, and let him say in what booth there were more absent voters than residential voters. If that be done, I think it will be found that this individual writes without knowledge of the facts, merely for a living. Let me take the returns of the voting for the Senate - some of the candidates for election to the House of Representatives were unopposed. The highest number of absent votes recorded in any New South Wales division was 4,852, in Worth Sydney, out of a total of 44,S42. In Parramatta 3,446 absent votes were recorded, out of a total of 28,079, and in Parkes 3,159 absent votes were recorded. Absent votes were recorded chiefly in divisions which returned Fusion candidates, although the suggestion of the correspondent whose letter I have read is that the Labour party wishes to continue absent voting because that system is advantageous to it. So far as figures prove anything-
– Those figures do not prove anything.
– They disprove the statement that I have read, which, I think, was merely a scare paragraph. Were all the absent voters to record their votes within an hour or two, I doubt whether they would congest the booths so much that the residential electors could not vote.
– In many country districts the absent voters caused congestion in the polling booths.
– In South Australia, when acting as secretary to my party, I was informed that the Presiding Officer at Saddleworth was insisting that illiterate voters who required his help should vote at the table, and persons were objecting to being required to thus vote openly. I thereupon saw the Divisional Returning Officer in Adelaide, and he wired to the Presiding Officer that illiterate voters must be taken into the cubicles, so that they might vote secretly. Any congestionthat may have occurred in that booth was due to the fact that the Presiding Officer was not carrying out his duties properly. The fact that there may have been congestion in one or two places would not justify the further restriction of absent voting by regulation. Let me quote other figures to show that the absent vote didnot operate as has been suggested. Let me now quote some figures for Victoria. In Kooyong, which is not a Labour electorate, 3,136 absent votes were cast, out of a total vote of 27,000. In Henty, whose representative does not adorn this, side of the chamber, 3,177 absent voteswere cast. The next electorate which, polled 3,000 absent votes was Corangamite, whose representative does not adorn this side. It will be seen that the: figures prove, as far as figures can prove, that it is not this side which is benefited, by the absent vote, but the other side. At Ballarat, 2,923 absent votes were cast,, and in this case the member is on this, side of the House. I have not the Adelaide return, but I know that the late member for the constituency received less absent votes than did the losing candidate. In Boothby, the sitting member once lost when it came to the counting of the absent votes, but recently he had a sufficient majority of the legitimate votes to securehis return. In Queensland, five constituencies cast over 3,000 absent votes. The highest return is credited to Brisbane, namely, 3,539 votes, and the sitting member belongs to this side of the chamber. The next highest return is 3,444 absent votes for- Wide Bay, which is represented by the Leader of the Opposition. It will be found that in the majority of instances the absent voting figuresare in favour of the other side. In Boothby, in South Australia, 2,434 absent votes were cast out of a total poll of 30,000. I know, from personal experience of the election, that there was very little congestion, except in denselypopulated areas. There is bound to be a littleconfusion at those times which are most acceptable to the working community torecord a vote. When they are on their way to football, or on the way home to lunch, and perhapsafter football, between 6 and 8 o’clock in the evening, you will always get some congestion; but I maintain that it is not owing to the absent vote provisions that such a thing takes place. In the Adelaide division, 2,004 absent votes were cast. In every instance, with the exception of Boothby and Grey, these votes were cast for Fusion candidates. It would only weary the Committee for me to go through the balance of the figures for the other States. I wish to place this information on record, so that the electors may know that we have disproved what is stated in this paragraph in regard to the absent voting provisions. I propose to touch on only one other matter, and that is the purification of the rolls. The Prime Minister, in opening this session, became very dramatic and very emphatic. He was very cross when the Leader of the Opposition twitted him with slandering the general public. The point I wish to make before my time expires is that the conduct of the Electoral Branch certainly needs looking into; and unless the Prime Minister gives us an assurance that people will have an opportunity to get their names on the roll prior to the elections, we shall not have that clean roll which he desires, and which would be of much benefit to this side. We have urged that canvassers are going round, and that the Department, in some instances, are acting on their recommendations, and people are constantly being put off the roll instead of being put on. I hold in my hand, not a letter from a correspondent, but a letter which came to me through the avenue of the Australian Workers Union, and that much-abused man in Adelaide, Mr. Frank Lundie, and which reads as follows: -
Commonwealth of Australia
State of South Australia
The Commonwealth Electoral Registrar, for Subdivision of Port Lincoln
I enclose card. You are already on roll.
Your name was given in by Liberal union organizer as having left division. You will not be struck off. As you still live in division no need to make a fresh claim.
If Mr. Biscoby had not taken the precaution of writing to Mr. Brennan when he got the notice that he had been struck off the roll for not living in the division, he would have been amongst the lost voters. When we have knowledge of this kind from official documents, it is sufficient warrant for our saying that some opportunity should be given to electors at the mercy of the Liberal union’s organizers, who, I maintain, go round day by day, week by week, and year by year, to ascertain that they are on the roll. When they talk about funds being subscribed by trade unionists for political purposes, I ask who provides the money for these organizers if it is not the commercial bandits of the Commonwealth ? They are described by a writer on the greatest trust in the world as “ commercial brigands and bandits.” It is these persons who are putting some of their ill-gotten gains to an ill purpose, and that is in sending organizers round the country to object to the enrolment of men who are working on, say, a siding. Why, sir, the description of the man explains itself. A navvy, or a platelayer, must necessarily shift his place of residence: in fact, he shifts from day to day, as his work progresses. He reaches a mile or more from the place where he was housed, and the Liberal organizer, behind his back, goes to the Electoral Office and lays an information, so to speak, that he is not now living in the place where he is supposed to live, and so he is robbed of the franchise which he holds so valuable.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.-I propose to refer to the application of the Government for a double dissolution, and the request of the Opposition for the publication of the papers on the subject. The Attorney-General has said that we are asking for something quite unusual, but I am of. opinion that we have plenty of precedent for making the request. I find, on referring to old records, that in 1868 a memorandum by the Premierof Victoria on the question of a dissolution and the Governor’s reply were laid before the State Parliament. In 1880 Mr. James Service, the Premier, askedfor a dissolution of the Legislative Assembly on the question of the reform of the Legislative Council, and the full reasons for the request to the Marquis of Normanby, and His Excellency’s reply, are to be seen in a parliamentary paper. In these circumstances, we are not unreasonable in asking to see the documents which were placed before the GovernorGeneral in support of, and to have the exact reply which, was made to the request for, a double dissolution. I am anxious to know whether the Government indicated to His Excellency that if a -double dissolution were allowed they would be likely to come back with a majority in both Houses. If they made any such representation, it would be interesting to learn upon what grounds they based it. The Premier of Victoria, who has decided to stand for a Federal seat, has probably been looking over the records of State byelection in Victoria during the last twelve months. That may account for his decision. In Victoria, in 1911, the Liberal -candidate won the Benambra seat by 1,015 votes, but in December last, at a byelection for that electorate, the Liberal majority was reduced to 413. Then, again, in 1911, Mr. Watt was returned for Essendon with a majority of 2,147 ; but in January of this year, when he had to seek re-election, his majority was reduced to 1,442.
– With 5,000 names off the roll.
– Yes, I am going to refer to that matter. In respect to the Prahran electorate, in 1911, Mr. Mackinnon secured a majority of 1,916, but early In the present year, when he had to seek re-election, his majority was reduced to S26. Again, the Liberal candidate for Warrenheip, in 1911, secured a majority of 900, but towards the end of 1913 a by-election took place, with the result that the Liberal majority of 900 was converted into a Labour majority of 27. At the same time, Mr. W. H- Edgar, a member of the Liberal Government, had to seek re-election to the Legislative Council, and, notwithstanding that the franchise for that House is based on a property qualification, he was defeated by a Labour candidate, who secured the handsome majority of something like 600 votes. For the first time in the history of Victorian politics, a Minister of the Crown seeking re-election to the Legislative Council was defeated. These figures, in respect to the elections held during the last twelve months seem to indicate that the fortunes of the Liberal party in this State, at least, are declining, and that they have little or no hope of capturing a majority of the seats here. The figures suggest, too, that Mr. Watt showed his astuteness in deciding to quit State politics. Although at the last election he was returned by a majority of 1,442 votes, something like 5,000 names have since been added to the roll. It would seem that the honorable gentleman sees “ the handwriting on the wall,” that he realizes the necessity of “getting in out of the wet,” and that he has, therefore, selected a Federal electorate where, he thinks, there will be no fight. I am satisfied that in that belief he is making a huge blunder.
– Why does he not stand for Maribyrnong, which takes in his old State electorate ?
– If he desired to do a service to his party, one would expect him to stand for Maribyrnong or Ballarat. He evidently desires, however, to find a safe seat. I observe in the Supply Bill an item of £10,000 in respect to immigration, and I shall want to know later on how that money is to be expended. I do not believe in the policy of assisted immigration. I see in this State thousands of men out of work. I see them in our cities, and I meet them, carrying swags, in our country lanes. Many of them have been deluded by the inducements held out to them to come to this country. In Pearson’s Weekly of 25th April last there is a big advertisement headed “ Lads and Farm Workers ; Australia’s Great Offer; Eighteen Miles for One Penny; High Wages; Work Guaranteed.” It sets forth that -
The Government will guarantee every approved boy applicant from 10s. to 15s. a week immediately upon landing, and experienced farm workers from fi to 25s. a week, in addition to free board and lodging in both cases.
That guarantee will never “be fulfilled. Many of the so-called boys who are being brought out are really men. They will, no doubt, secure employment at 10s. a week, while our own native-born population have to tramp the country, and have even to go to other States, in their vain . search for employment. When in the State Parliament I always opposed any proposal to spend the money of the workers in bringing people here to compete with them. We, as a party, however, have no objection to people coming into this country of their own free will. We are told that the immigration policy- is designed to settle people on the land, but the extent to which land settlement has taken place in Victoria was fully explained on 15th instant by Mr. Elmslie, the leader of the State Labour party, in a speech which he delivered at Bunyip. In the course of that speech he said -
The Government had obtained thousands of immigrants, but had the vacant spaces been filled up to any extent? In 1912 it brought out 14,000 people, of whom only 150 went on the land. In 1913 the total was 11,000, and only 131 of them went on the land. It was true some of these others came out as farm labourers, but the great bulk of them had either remained in the large centres of population or else had drifted back thereto in the last ten years. The population of Victoria had increased by 115,000, but the city secured 95,000 of this increase.
I believe that is a correct statement of what is going on. Hen who are brought out, instead of going on the land, are remaining in the cities. I hope, at a later stage, to make further reference to this subject.
– I do not propose to detain the
Committee at any length, but I desire to offer one or two observations in connexion with the attitude of the Government towards what I conceive to be the most essential matter now engaging public attention. I refer to the amendments of the Constitution necessary, by common consent, to enable this National Parliament to deal with those great and urgent problems that confront this country in common with every other. I am not going to traverse this question at length. 1 do not propose to indulge in any lengthy criticism of the action, or, more properly, the inaction, of the Government; but what I do propose to do, in order that the position be made clear, is to set forth very shortly the steps that have led up to the present position, so far as the proposed laws for the amendment of the Constitution now before this House are concerned. This Parliament has had ample opportunity for reviewing this question since 1910, when the first proposals for the amendment of the Constitution were introduced in this Chamber, until to-day. It may be fairly said that no suggestions for legislation have secured a wider circle of converts in a shorter time than have these proposals for the amendment of the Constitution. I need hardly point out that on the first occasion when these proposals were submitted to the electors they were rejected by a very large majority. In. less than two years they were again submitted, and defeated only by the narrowest of margins. I do not intend to deal with the proposed amendments in detail,, or to set forth the extent to which they are individually necessary, or the manner in which they respectively deal with the questions of the day. I am, however,. I think, entitled to call the attention of the Government to the fact that for thethird time in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament these proposals - for, in substance, they are the same as those which were submitted in September, 1910 - are now before us for consideration. The Government, instead of facilitating discussion upon them, resolutely refuse to permit of any debate upon them at all. In regard to measures for proposed legislation generally, that attitude, in view of our moribund condition, would be not only permissible, but proper. But it is very different with regard to proposals of this kind, because no time could be more fitting for the discussion of measures for the amendment of the Constitution than is the present, when this House and the other Chamber of the Legislature are both on the eve of an appeal to the country.
– I rise to order. I submit that inasmuch as the Bills proposing constitutional amendments have been introduced in this House, and now appear on the business-paper as Orders of the Day, the honorable gentleman will be out of order in discussing them in Committee of Supply.
– On the point of order, I wish to submit that I am not out of order. The honorable member for Richmond is very impatient. If he had waited a little while I should have made perfectly clear the object for which I rose. I am proceeding in a proper way, and I hope I am not transgressing any of the rules of debate. I certainly do not intend to do so. I submit that I am perfectly in order upon a proposal to grant Supply to the Government to bring before the Committee some of the shortcomings of the Government in connexion with their refusal to make such an appropriation of funds as would permit of these measures being submitted to the people at the time of the forthcoming elections. I submit that that is perfectly in order. I may tell you, sir, that I propose to move an amendment by way of reduction of the sum which will put me perfectly in order.
– Of course, it is not in order for an honorable member to discuss any of the Orders of the Day m
Committee of Supply. I was waiting for the honorable member to develop his argument that I might see clearly whether he intended to traverse the provisions of the measures referred to in any way. So far he has only referred to them incidentally, and I understand that he is developing his argument in a direction which, it appears to me, will be quite in order.
– I was saying that in regard to ordinary legislation, while it is quite proper to refrain from introducing or discussing measures in the last stages of the existence of a Parliament, in regard to these measures proposing amendments of the Constitution the position is quite different. Here we propose to go to the country. It is admitted by both parties that amendments of the Constitution are absolutely necessary. I lay special emphasis on the fact that, so far as any expression of opinion can be, or has been made by any recognised mouthpiece of either party, there is by common consent a necessity for the amendment of the Constitution. I wish to make it perfectly clear that the present position is that we are going to the country, that the electors are to be asked to choose between this party and that party, and that unless there is an amendment of the Constitution neither party can usefully serve the people in the new Parliament. There must be, on the admission of the learned Attorney-General, an amendment of the Constitution before the great problems with which we are admittedly confronted can be dealt with.
– The honorable member for Flinders?
– Certainly. The honorable member for Flinders has said that over and over again. He has been a firm supporter of the position that this is the weakest Federation in the world, that its powers, meagre at first, have been undermined by one judgment after another, until at length a judgment of the Privy Council has (eft us in a state of legislative paralysis, so that we are unable to do one useful thing for ourselves. “We are about to go to the country, and the people are to be asked to perform a duty unique in the history of the Commonwealth. There is to be an interruption of public business, and the election of an entirely new Parliament. What for? In order that we may come back and again make this ad misericordiam appeal, and say, “ We cannot do anything, because we have no power.” Why should we not now, when the opportunity is in our hands, when we are going to the very fountain of all power, get that authority which is admittedly necessary in order to do that which has to be done? Whether it be done by us or by the present Government is immaterial, but it must be done by somebody. If we hesitate now to submit an amendment of the Constitution for approval by the people, we shall be recreant to the best interests of this country, and to the traditions of this Parliament. The Prime Minister point blank refuses to permit this, and refuses to recommend, as he is authorized to do by section 128, His Excellency to submit these measures to the people. He may say he is opposed to them, but what of that if the people are not opposed to them? If these measures were put to the electors, not covered with the party cloak, they would be carried by an overwhelming majority.
– They would be lost by an overwhelming majority if they were not covered by the party cloak.
– They would be carried by an overwhelming majority. With all the powers of the metropolitan press at their command, with all the lies and misrepresentations which were used through the press and from the platform, the Liberals were unable to beat back the advancing tide in favour of these great and necessary reforms, beyond the point where we were within 8,000 votes, out of a poll of 2,000,000, of carrying the amendments.
– Not counting the 70,000 informal votes.
– That is the position without counting that immense number of informal votes, an overwhelming majority of which would doubtless have been in favour of the amendments. I challenge the Prime Minister to say what he is going to do if he comes back with a majority. When he was before the country on the last occasion he spoke about a scheme of social insurance. I tell the honorable member that his social insurance scheme is a poor, anaemic, bowelless, and hopeless bogy of a thing, unless there be some constitutional virility injected into it. Until there is an amendment of the Constitution, the social insurance scheme will not touch the life, health, and fortune of any individual in the country. The honorable member talks about unemployment insurance, and sickness and accident insurance, but there is no power to carry them out. It is wicked to fool the people in this way.
There is a Commission now sitting to inquire into the operations of the Beef Trust. We might as well attack the Rock of Ages with a child’s toy hatchet as attack this mighty corporation, whose tentacles are in the vitals of almost every civilized country in the world, with a Commission that cannot compel an answer to one relevant question. Now is the time to give the people an opportunity of saying that we must have power to deal with these matters. They are entitled to something more than to be fooled by promises of legislation, promises which cannot be given effect to. The AttorneyGeneral has pledged himself to the hilt in favour of three or four of these amendments, and he is now robbed of the last excuse for not giving effect to his own opinion. That last excuse, as set forth on page 6001 of Hansard-
– On a point of order, I submit that the honorable mem*ber is now traversing the whole of the referenda proposals. He is discussing the necessity for them, entering into their details, and quoting opinions of members concerning them when they were under discussion previously, and it is a wellknown rule in this House that we may not discuss measures in detail, as the honorable member is now doing, when those measures are on the business-paper. If you, Mr. Chairman, permit a speech such as the honorable member is making, it will be open to the whole Committee to discuss a series of proposals which they could not under any other circumstances -discuss. I submit that the honorable member for West Sydney is going far be_yond a reference to these proposals. He is discussing their details, their very marTow and sinew, and such a discussion is out of order. The measures appear on the business-paper to be dealt with in the ordinary way, and the honorable member cannot discuss them under cover of a proposal for Supply.
– May I point out, in the first place, that the honorable member for West Sydney is merely making a casual reference to these measures, and he has not gone into details. Apart from that, one principle has been handed down to this Parliament, and every other British Parliament, and that is the redress of grievances before Supply.
– Is this a grievance ?
– I maintain that even if the honorable member for West Sydney were discussing these measures in detail, which I deny, that could be done, if necessary, by virtue of the principle of redress of grievances before Supply.
– I submit that my remarks are in order. The widest possible latitude must be given to honorable members in dealing with Supply, which, from time immemorial, according to the traditions and precedents of the British Parliament, has been the ventilation of all grievances, and for criticism of the actions and conduct of the Government. I am not in any way transgressing that designedly wide liberty which is given to the representatives of the people precedent to the grant of public money. It is admitted that this money is intended for the purpose, amongst other things, of a general election, and I am saying that, simultaneously with that election, the proposed laws for the amendment of the Constitution should be submitted to the people. I contend that my statement is directly relevant to the expenditure of public money, the grant of which we are now discussing.
– Then the honorable member may proceed to discuss the trust and combine power, and every other power ?
– The Prime Minister cannot have it all his own way.
– And the honorable member cannot, either.
– The Prime Minister is doing very well.
– This is a trick on the part of the honorable member, and nothing else.
– I am perfectly entitled to point out that the Government ought to use the money voted in connexion with this Supply Bill in a certain way, and take advantage of the opportunity to submit these proposed laws to the people. In order that I may do so, surely I am allowed to assign reasons why it is eminently desirable that this course should be followed ! I hold that my remarks are perfectly in order.
– I submit that the honorable member just now put himself completely out of court. There is not a penny provided on these Estimates, that I know of, for any referendum.
– But money is provided for the conduct of the general elections.
– The honorable member has been talking, not about elections, but about the referendum, and for that referendum no money is provided on these Estimates.
– I would point out that honorable members are now discussing a Supply motion ; they are not discussing a Supply Bill; and there is a generally recognised principle that, on an occasion of this kind, fairly wide latitude should be extended to them. That latitude is, however, limited by special Standing Orders, one of which distinctly states that no Orders of the Day can be debated. I have already given a ruling in that connexion, and I have been very carefully watching the honorable member for West Sydney, to ascertain whether he was dealing with any one of the Orders of the Day in detail. He has not done that so far, and, therefore, I cannot rule him out of order.
– I will bring my remarks to a close-
– That ruling means that we can discuss the whole of the referendum proposals; that is all. Honorable members may debate the Beef Trust-
– Order ! The Prime Minister is out of order.
– On page 6001 of Hansard of the 27th November, 1912, in the course of his speech, the Attorney-General said -
The extension of the commerce power to the extent which, speaking purely constitutionally, I think it should go, is one thing-
– I rise to order.
– This is interruption - not business.
– I want your ruling, sir, as to whether the honorable member is entitled to discuss the details of argument in connexion with these referenda proposals. He is now attempting to quote the opinion of the Attorney-General on one of the Constitution Alteration Bills. If that is not a detail, I should like to know what is.
– I have not yet heard what the honorable member proposes to quote.
– An expression of opinion.
– The honorable member for West Sydney proposes to quote something which I have not yet heard. He will not be in order in discussing in detail any one of the proposals which are Orders of the Day, and I shall carefully watch to see that our Standing Orders are observed in that respect.
– I rise to a point of order.
– This is interruption by the Prime Minister.
– I trust that the Prime Minister is not about to raise a point of order which arises out of any ruling that I have given.
– I am. If quotations from an honorable member’s speech in the way of argument are not to be regarded as detail, I should like to know what is.
– I think the Prime Minister is now .traversing my ruling. What is detail is, of course, a matter for the decision of the Chair, and if I am wrong in my interpretation of my duties in that respect, there is a specific course open to honorable members. The interpretation of what constitutes detail depends largely on the common sense of the occupant of the Chair.
– Speaking of one of the measures introduced into this House in 1912 - a measure which is now an Order of the Day - the Attorney-General said -
The extension of the commerce power to the extent which, speaking purely constitutionally, I think it should go, is one thing, but to extend that power in the hands of a party having such immediate aims as are admitted by the Labour party is something of a totally different character.
– It would be right enough if the Opposition were in power, but not if we are in power.
– Quite so. It would be safe if we were in power; it is unsafe since honorable members opposite are in power.
That is a plain statement of the case from the most favorable stand-point of the Opposition. The only objection which the only man on the other side of the chamber who understands anything at all about this proposal, and who has had the courage to face it, could urge was that he was not then in the Government, and honorable members opposite were not then in power. Well, now he is in the Government, and they are in power. There no longer exists any reason why these admittedly necessary amendments should not be made. Why, then, have twelve months passed without anything having been done, and why in particular is this golden opportunity to be let slip? I shall not continue this discussion at greater length. I merely desire, in conclusion, to point out that the opinion which the present Attorney-General held in 1912 he still holds. Speaking in this chamber the other day, he said - as will be seen by reference to page 124 of Hansard of 17th April of the present year -
He was not there to do more than state the problem. Hereafter the Government would be obliged to bring before the people of Australia the whole constitutional alterations which it might consider necessary.
– I rise to a point of order.
– From what is the honorable member for West Sydney quoting?
– From an extract from the Argus of the 11th March.
– I understood that he was reading from Hansard.
– The extract which I have quoted appears on page 124 of Hansard of the present session ; but it is nevertheless an extract from the Argus.
– The honorable member must not quote from Hansard of the present session.
– But he has done so.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– The time of the honorable member for West Sydney has almost expired, but I propose to give him the opportunity to move any amendment he wishes to submit.
– As a protest against the attitude of the Government in refusing to recommend His Excellency the Governor-General to submit to a referendum the six Bills dealing with the proposed alterations to the Constitution, I move an amendment -
That the sum of £3,060,026 be reduced by £1.
– No exception can be taken to an amendment which seeks to reduce an item on the Estimates by £1.
– I rise to a point of order. This is an amendment moved as a protest against the attitude of the Government in not submitting the Constitution Alteration Bills to the people.
– This is not the Senate. Sit down. You cannot take charge here.
– In abstaining from taking a point of order, I am assuming
– I rise to a point of order.
– There is a point of order before the Chair.
– The honorable member said that he was abstaining from taking a point of order.
– If the honorable member allows me to state the position, I shall explain my point of order. Though the form of the amendment is merely to reduce the amount by £1, the Leader of the Opposition has himself stated that it is moved for the purpose of testing a question with regard to the referenda. If that is the purpose of the amendment, I submit it is out of order. If the amendment is merely to reduce the amount of Supply asked for, and if that is the only thing at which the Chairman can look, my point of order will fail; but if, coupled with the amendment, there is a condition that will open a debate on the whole of the Constitution Alteration Bills, I must insist that the amendment is out of order.
– I rise to a point of order. The Attorney-General cannot submit a conditional point of order.
– I have a right to ask the Chairman what is the meaning of the amendment. The Leader of the Opposition says that it is moved in order to introduce a matter which, I contend, has nothing to do with a reduction of the amount by £1. I ask the Chairman what is the effect of the amendment. If it is as the Leader of the Opposition says, I must insist on my point of order.
– On a point of order, it is a common practice in this, and any other Parliament, when in Committee of Supply, to move to reduce a vote with a view to calling attention to a certain matter.
– To any matter provided for in the Supply asked for.
– Not necessarily. The honorable member knows, probably better than I do, that redress of grievances before Supply is one of the oldest traditions of parliamentary life. We have a grievance - whether it is a good one or a bad one, I am not prepared to say - that the Government are trying to prevent certain measures coming before the Blouse ; and we are taking the only method we have of stating that grievance by seeking to reduce the amount of Supply by £1. As to whether a general discussion can take place on the details of those Bills is another question. I am inclined to think that we cannot go into details. The question is put from the Chair - “ That the amount be reduced by the sum of £1,” and is only following the usual practice.
– You are a set of “ die-hards.”
– That is only a borrowed phrase. No one will die harder than the honorable member.
– The position put forward by the honorable member is entitled to respect as coming from an exSpeaker, that anything, no matter what its nature may be, which an honorable member desires to test can always be brought forward by moving a reduction to the amount of Supply. But the matter must be relevant to the particular service covered by the item which is sought to be reduced. Otherwise an amendment might be moved to reduce an item in the Department of the Attorney-General with a view to showing that the Navigation Act should be brought into force, or there might be a reduction moved to the salary of the head of the Department of Trade and Customs with a view to showing that some policy in regard to the Department of External Affairs should be brought into existence. The Chairman would not accept such amendments as those.
– Or an amendment might be moved with a view to showing that the Government had no policy.
– I think that the Leader of the Opposition sees my point, and I am sure the honorable member for Kennedy does. There must be some limit to the general proposition he lays down.
– The main question before the Chair is not of a specific character. Your illustrations would be appropriate if we were dealing with the Estimates in detail.
– Of course, if the amendment is limited to merely reducing: the amount of Supply asked for, no point of order could lie, and it would be left to the Chairman to see that no debate took place, except as to reducing the amount by £1. I merely rose to ask the Chairman to state what would be the effect of the amendment.
– I ask the Chairman to consider the matter from a broader aspect. If I moved an amendment to reduce the amount of Supply asked for by £3,000,000 because the Government had not dealt with certain proposals which I thought should be dealt with, surely it would not be ruled out of order. Once we get into Committee in regard to the details of the amount asked for, it would be very difficult to bring forward an amendment such as this perfectly relevant to the question immediately before the Chair; but, as pointed out by the honorable member for Kennedy, it is quite a common practice in Committee to move an amendment to reduce an item by £1, and if that can be done it should be permissible to move a similar amendment, on the general motion covering the whole Supply. Last year an amendment was moved to reduce a vote by £1 as an intimation to the Government that they should reduce the expenditure on defence by something like £500,000.
– But that was on the Defence Estimates.
– Why does the AttorneyGeneral seek to avoid a vote on this important question? The Standing Ordersshould enable us to conduct business inthe most convenient way, and if I am refused an opportunity of voting on this-, matter of the Constitution AlterationBills to-day, perhaps next week I may not find it convenient to be here when another opportunity is presented of voting on the details. Surely it is the duty of the Committee to consider the convenience of’ honorable members. It is admitted that it is in order to move that an item be reduced by £1, and surely any honorablemember can rise and say that he votes for that reduction for some particular reason-
I propose to vote for this reduction, because the Government have not made provision for submitting the six Constitution Alteration Bills passed by the Senate to a referendum.
– The honorable member is now discussing the amendment.
– I am entitled to say why I am in favour of a reduction of fi. Some other honorable member may favour the reduction for some .other reason, which he may state. Honorable members advance their particular reasons for supporting the amendment that- the amount be reduced by £1, and in that way the amendment cannot be said to be out of order.
– I submit that the amendment is perfectly in order, but that on the amendment there can be no discussion whatever on the referenda proposals.
– Not in detail.
– Not even generally.
– The Chairman has ruled against the honorable member.
– If the ruling is against me, I, of course, shall submit.
– On the same point, the ruling was against the honorable member this morning.
– I am not talking about what occurred this morning. It is perfectly clear that, with these referenda proposals on the business-paper, no reference can be made to them on a motion of the sort before us. If there were an item in the Estimates providing for a referendum, such a discussion would be in order, as perfectly relevant. Honorable members opposite, however, support this amendment on the ground that they have a grievance - that something is not provided for in the Estimates - and, unfortunately for them, the referenda proposals are somewhere else, namely, on the business-paper. This excludes them from any discussion now.
– In detail, I admit.
– I cannot allow any further discussion. I am prepared to give my ruling.
– Just one word to say that, earlier to-day, you, sir, ruled that the honorable member for West Sydney was in order in discussing the referenda proposals in a general way, but not in particularizing them. I only desire to remind you of what occurred this morning.
– The ordinary ruleswith regard to amendments hold good, of course, in regard to this particular matter; that is to say, the amendment must be relevant. We also have an instruction in May that no condition can be attached to a proposed reduction in the Estimates. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for West Sydney attaches no condition whatever, simply proposing a reduction of the sum by £1. Whatever honorable members may have in their minds, or whatever the honorable member for West Sydney may have in his mind,, in connexion with this amendment, is a matter I cannot deal with. ‘ The question of the relevancy of a discussion on the referenda proposals has been referred to, and it may be as well for me to indicate what I believe is the correct position. There are certain Orders of the Day, and our Standing Orders distinctly state that these cannot be referred to in a discussion of this kind. It is in order to discuss an alteration of the Constitution; but let me remind honorable members that each of these Bills deals with a specific matter, and that these specific matters cannot be discussed. The Bills are the Constitution Alteration (Trade and Commerce) Bill, Constitution . Alteration (Corporations) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Trusts) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Industrial Matters) Bill, Constitution Alteration (Railway Disputes) Bill, and the Constitution Alteration (Nationalization of Monopolies) Bill. It is quite obvious that these subjects cannot be discussed; and when I spoke of a discussion on an alteration of the Constitution being permissible,, though not in detail, I referred to those particular phases of the proposed alteration before the Chamber. The amendment is in order, and, with the limitations I have indicated, the discussion will also be in order.
– You, Mr. Chairman, have made a statement of the position which is quite in accordance with facts in regard to my amendment. I did propose originally to attach conditions, but I did not attach them in the amendment I handed to you. That amendment is simply to reduce the amount by £1.
– I have so stated.
Question- That the sum of £3,060,026 be reduced by £1 - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …1
Question so. resolved in the negative.
.- Iam in favour of the proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney, and would like to move the reduction of the amount by 10s.
– The division which was taken was quite regular, and it is contrary to our procedure to allow the moving in Committee of Supply of a number of amendments in succession, all of them raising practically the same issue. It is only with the permission of the Committee that I can accept an amendment to reduce the sum. Is it the desire of honorable members that I should accept it?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– Then I move-
That the sum of £3,060,026 bereduced by 10s.
A division on that amendment will give us an opportunity to get a true vote, and a proper record of the members voting.
Question put. The Committee divided.
.- I wish to again refer to the Teesdale Smith contract. In my opinion, the Government is blameworthy for not having insisted on the completion of the contract within the time arranged for. That time has now been exceeded by something like six weeks, and it is understood that it will be another three or four weeks before the contract has been completed.
– It is not unusual for a contractor to he late.
– This contract was let, it was said, because the day-labour system was too slow. Therefore it is an extraordinary thing that the contractor should be behindhand. The Honorary-
Minister maintained that the construction of the line was being retarded because of the slowness of the day-labour system, and justified the action of the Government in giving the contract to Mr. Teesdale Smith at an exceedingly high price -on the ground that he had a large plant within a short distance of the proposed work. There was a distance of something like 11 or 12 miles between the point to which the line had been completed by day labour and the point at which Mr. Teesdale Smith’s contract was to commence. For that distance nothing had been done, not even clearing, except the putting in of survey pegs. Since then, deviations have been made round small cuttings, for the purpose, it has been said, of expediting the work. But, as Mr. Teesdale Smith has not completed his contract, and is not likely to complete it for some time, why were the deviations made? The Honorary Minister may have some explanation to give, but unfortunately he is absent. I should like to know why these deviations were made at such a distance from the line as first surveyed as to necessitate the relaying of the rails, or, in other words, the undertaking of two jobs instead of one ? Notwithstanding that we were told that Mr. Teesdale Smith had ample plant to carry on the work, I am assured that he has been compelled on more than one occasion to borrow plant from the Commonwealth Railway Department. We should like an explanation of all these matters, but there is no one present to supply it. Even . if the Honorary Minister, who is in charge of the work, were here, he knows so little about it that I fear he could not give us much information. The whole question of the contract requires to be fully investigated. The Select Committee appointed by another place is unable, unfortunately, to proceed with its inquiry. The Prime Minister told me this morning, in answer to a question, that if he were the Minister in charge of this work he would decline to appear before a Select Committee to give evidence in regard to it. The Government’ are absolutely refusing to be interrogated upon these matters, and the departmental replies to questions which we ask are, as a rule, of a misleading character. We shall hear more of this in the near future.
– There is no doubt about that.
– Yes; those prophetic utterances which came from this side of the House when the question was under discussion a few weeks ago are going to be verified. The ‘AttorneyGeneral possibly knows that that is so.
– To what does the honorable member refer ?
– The honorable member means that Mr. Teesdale Smith will bring an action against’ the Commonwealth.
– Honorable members opposite laughed when we told them of Mr. Teesdale Smith’s predilection for litigation, but before long perhaps they may have practical proof of the truth of our statement. This, however, is one of those evils out of which good may come. I understand that the Government are going to call for tenders for the construction of a further section of 132 miles of railway, and, if they do, the tenders of certain persons may not be regarded so favorably as they were before. The honorable member for Henty, who, I regret, is not present, in the course of a speech at a public meeting a few days ago, made certain statements regarding the Labour party to which I take exception. If we are to be constantly subjected to such misrepresentations as those in which he indulged, the coming election will be characterized by a great deal of bitterness. The honorable member for Werriwa in this House recently said that the Government had held out the olive branch to the Opposition. In the name of Heaven, when did they do so 1 When they introduced the Audit Bill last session, did they meet with any drastic opposition to it? By no means. We were quite willing to pass the Audit Bill, provided that one clause referring to a matter which in our opinion should not be dealt with in such a measure was eliminated. But these political Shylocks demanded their last ounce of legislative flesh, and would be satisfied with nothing short of it. We were prepared to pass the Bill with this amendment, and to pass the clause in question if it were embodied in a separate measure. The Government, however, would not listen to our proposals. Even if that Bill had been passed, would the situation have been changed in any way? It would merely have given the Government one month’s Supply as from the 30th July, so that the country is neither worse nor better off for the failure of the Parliament to pass it. The honorable member for Henty said that we were determined from the commencement of last session not to pass any measure introduced by the Government. That statement is wholly inaccurate. To support his assertion, he referred to the Electoral Bill. When that Bill was introduced, the Opposition held a meeting, at which it was decided that certain amendments calculated to improve it should be submitted. The Bill, for instance, contained one clause, which, if carried, would have entirely violated the secrecy of the ballot. It provided that there should be a butt to every ballot-paper, that both butt and ballot-paper should be numbered, and that the butt in each case should also be signed by the voter. To that provision objection was taken, not only by the Opposition, but by supporters of the Government, and the Bill was dropped. It was dropped, not because of our opposition, but because of the action of the Honorary Minister in introducing such a provision. The honorable member for Henty has misrepresented our party to such an extent in these matters that his exaggeration must defeat the very purpose that he had in view. As to the Norfolk Island Bill, the only question at issue between the Government and the Opposition was as to what should be done in regard to an area of about 1,200 acres. Affirming those democratic principles to which we are so much attached, we desired that the land should be held in trust for the people, and, because we insisted upon an amendment to that effect, we were condemned as offering a factious opposition. It was on such grounds, I suppose, that the Governor-General was asked to grant a double dissolution - he was asked to grant a double dissolution because we had dared to exercise our right to criticise, on behalf of the people who sent us here, the actions of the Government. It has been alleged by honorable members opposite that, whilst the Labour party were in office, they introduced the principle of spoils to the victors. Let me cite one case as showing what the Fusion party themselves have done in this respect. I hold that the Honorary Minister, Senator Clemons, should be impeached for being guilty of conduct unworthy of a gentleman and a member of Parliament. He deliberately broke the law.
– The honorable member is out of order in reflecting upon> a member of another place.
– -I understand, sir, that 1 am not to mention any name. F shall say then that a member of the Government in another place has deliberately broken the law. He has a sonwho, with other boys, is liable to serve in the Cadet Forces, but who for twoyears dodged his drill. Because of the position of his father, I suppose theauthorities were not so severe upon him as they might have been. He dodged1 his drill with the approval of his father.
– What is the boy’s name?
– His name, I think, is Clarence Clemons.
– This is rather unworthy of the honorable member.
– I have no sons who are liable to serve in the Cadet Forces, but I have a grandson who is, and I say that the boy to whom I have referred hasno more right to evade his drill than my grandson has.
– Where is the proof that he evaded drill? The honorable member is making damaging statements without supplying the proof.
– I can supply it; it is to be found in the official papers.
– The honorable member is making these statements under privilege.
– And 1 am taking all the responsibility for my statements.
– There is no responsibility. I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member isnot in order in making an attack on a member of another place. He has clearly identified the senator both by name and otherwise.
– I have already pointed out that an honorable member may not make a direct reference to a member of another place.
– What about his son?
– Order !
– Is an infamy not to “bo disclosed ?
– The honorable member must not interject in that rude way while the Chairman is speaking. It is not in order for an honorable member to refer in any connexion of the kind to an honorable member of another place; but I cannot rule out of order a reference to some other person.
– I am pleased, sir, to bow to your ruling. I think, however, that I am fully justified in making these complaints. I prefaced my statement by saying that I desired to show how the policy of “ spoils to the victors “ was followed by the Fusion party. The Government wanted a medical officer at Launceston to examine cadets, and the remuneration offered was £25 per year. They could not get any medical man in Launceston to undertake the work for that amount. Subsequently, on representations being made to Dr. Clarke Webster, he, from patriotic motives, undertook the work at £25 per annum. The boy to whom I referred was sent to Him for examination, and he declared that the lad, although not fully grown, was constitutionally fit. The father of the boy was not satisfied, and sent him to another medical officer to be examined. By a singular coincidence the second medical officer is the partner of the brother of the father of the boy. The boy’s father has a brother, who is a medical man, practising in partnership with Dr. Irvine. The boy was sent to Dr. Irvine, who declared him to be physically unfit, but the Defence Department would not accept that declaration as an excuse, because Dr. Irvine was not a duly qualified medical officer appointed by the Department. At any rate, the boy did no drill, but here is where the “ spoils to the victors “ policy comes in. Recognising that the amount paid for these medical services was not sufficient, the Defence Department raised the amount to £60 per annum. Then Dr. Clarke Webster was “ passed out.” His services were no longer required as medical officer in that particular defence area, and when he was passed out Dr. Irvine received the appointment. In this way do the spoils go to the victors
– What do you suggest?
– I deliberately suggest that when it became worth while having this particular office, and paying additional remuneration, the Government gave the position to a gentleman who had acted in a certain way. He was a friend of the Government, a friend of the victors to whom the spoils went.
– On what are you basing that statement?
– On papers laid on the table of the Senate. When the
Labour party were in power, we made two appointments of friends of our party, appointments in the Northern Territory, neither of which carried a very high emolument for a place of that sort. In regard to the political situation that has arisen, I say that it is a most pitiful thing that this Parliament and the country are being dragged at the heels of one man.
– The casting vote of the Speaker.
– I refer to the AttorneyGeneral. He is the arch conspirator.
– Order !
– Well, I will describe the Attorney-General as the Ministerial Machiavelli. Behind that impassive and inscrutable countenance is a brain which is acting always in the one direction. I would describe the honorable member for Flinders as the “ white hope” of Conservatism in Australia. If I may be permitted to recite a little history, I would remind honorable members that none of the leading men in the States of Australia was entirely in favour of Federation until after 1892. After that year, when Labour was told not to fight with the bludgeon, but to take its place on the floors of the Parliaments of the different States, and fight its battles there - when we accepted that challenge, and put men into the State Parliaments, our opponents realized that the time had come when Federation might be useful. Mr. (now Sir George) Reid, who had been opposed to Federation, became a convert, and in 1894, in the New South Wales Parliament, he revived the agitation in favour of Federation. In due course, Federation was established. Sir George Turner, who was a delegate at the last Convention, held in. Melbourne in 1898, said, when somebody interjected about Democracy, “ We will have no. Democrats in the Senate; the electorates will be too large, and no Labour man will be able to afford to contest them.” That hope was not realized, and the Senate, instead of being, as they expected it to be, a citadel against which the forces of Democracy might hurl themselves in vain, became so radical thai to-day there are twenty-nine Labour representatives there and only seven Conservatives. But in the brain of the Attorney-General has been revived the hope that he will make the Senate as Conservative as it was originally intended to bo. The honorable member for Barrier read an article from the Age in which it was declared thai the idea of the AttorneyGeneral was to kill the Senate. The honorable member’s idea is not to kill the Senate, but to make it what it was originally intended to be - an absolutely Conservative institution - an institution of such a character that, no matter what laws might be passed in the Democratic Chamber - and there was always a possibility of this Chamber being Democratic to a certain extent - they would be nullified in another place. That is the hope animating the Attorney-General now; that was his desire when he sent up the test measures, not to. be passed, but to be rejected.
– We have given him his wish.
– And his own wish will be the petard on which he himself will be hoist, because he has killed for all time the influence of the Senate.
– But he said the Senate would amend the Bills, and send them back.
– The AttorneyGeneral said that, but did not desire that to happen. The honorable member has attained his wish. There is a double dissolution facing us to-day, and his hope and desire is that after the election there will be a Senate of a Conservative character. But if he gets his wish, and there is a democratic Labour Government occupying the Ministerial benches in this Chamber, what will become of the Senate ? The Senate is henceforth a nullity, and .so by his own actions the AttorneyGeneral has entirely dissipated his own wishes. That which he desired to do he cannot accomplish. I repeat that it is most unfortunate that this country is being dragged at the heels of this man, whose antecedents, education, and surroundings proclaim him to be a Conservative of the most pronounced type. The honorable member for Werriwa is a rebel in his heart, but, notwithstanding his rebellious tendencies, he, too, is dragged at the heels of the Attorney-General. There are members on the Government side who are democratic in their political predilections, and they do not realize whither they are being led by the honorable member for Flinders; they do not realize that they are being led, as the honorable member for Bourke would declare, to their Sedan. I am surprised to see the Min ister of Trade and Customs sitting on the same bench as the Attorney-General, remembering as I do the phrases which were thrown out by the Attorney-General when the honorable member for Darling Downs sat on the Ministerial bench, and the Attorney-General sat on this side, and when the latter described his present- day colleague as “ a sheep in a rage.” I am pretty thick skinned, but I could not stand that. Perhaps I may be permitted to refer to some of the requirements of my own electorate. I regret very much that many of those things which we very earnestly desire in the North have not been given attention to.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I propose to deal with a couple of the points raised by members of the Opposition. One of those points is that we ought to have accepted these amendments of the Constitution, and honorable members have declared that, although the people have twice rejected these amendments by large majorities, a minority in this House ought to insist on forcing them before the people again. I lay down the principle that it is the Labour party who are not democratic in this respect, because, before more unified powers were sought under the Constitution, they should at least have sought to unify the Constitution. We must remember that the Constitution is a Federal one, and under it Federal rights only ought to be sought. If more unified powers are sought, it is clear that the first amendments should be in the Constitution, so that this might become a truly central and unified Parliament. Then, of necessity, honorable members could claim the further powers that would belong to that unified Parliament. But while we have, as at present, the electors for the Senate in some of the smaller States with a voting power equivalent to nine or ten times that of the voters in the larger States, it seems that the Labour party are not seeking an amendment of the Constitution on sound democratic lines. In fact, they have absolutely abandoned the principle of one vote one value, because they seek to give a vote in one State at least ten times the value of a vote in another State.
So much then for the statement by honorable members of the Opposition. It is claimed that there are certain honorable members on the Ministerial side who agree with portion of the proposals for the amendment of the Constitution put forward by the Labour party, but it is extraordinary to hear of honorable members in any part of the House arguing that powers that now belong to the States, and which could be exercised in every State, would be transformed if collected into one unified power under the Commonwealth. If honorable members understood what they are driving at, they would understand that they are passing the greatest vote of censure possible on the Labour parties in New South Wales and Western Australia, because in each of those States the Labour parties, if they wished to do so, could bring forward legislation dealing with combines and trusts.
– And have them rejected by the Legislative Councils.
– Nothing of the sort. They have never tried to bring in this legislation. Honorable members know that nothing of the sort would take place, and that the States are well able to deal with these matters. But if it is true, as honorable members say, that the Legislative Councils of these States would reject this legislation, what a whip it would be for Labour members to use before the electors, in appealing against these Legislative Councils. Yet they have not done so, because they know that any trusts that are in existence in the States have been created by the action of the Labour party themselves. I pointed out in 1901 that certain votes of the Labour party would result in creating trusts and combines, and that they were protecting certain manufacturers from competition by imposing duties 500 per cent, greater than any difference in the rate of wages paid to the employes of those manufacturers. In plenty of cases the difference was ten to twelve times the amount of the increased wage. Honorable members gave £1 to the workman - though, as a matter of fact, they did not, because the increase had to be taken in relation to the ordinary rate of wage in the country - but at the same time they gave ten times that amount to manufacturers, and enabled them to form combines.
– Do you believe in new Protection ?
– I was the first to point out in 1902 - it took the Labour party four years to bring out the term itself - that, if the Labour party were really working in the interests of the workers of the community, they would see that the whole of the duties went to the workers, that there would then be no more log-rolling, and that there would be an end to any body of men striving to get for themselves something they had not earned - striving to get something at the expense of their neighbours. The honorable member for Maribyrnong the other night said that he wished to stop competition from other countries, and he claimed he was speaking on behalf of the workers, but I point out to the honorable member that a high Tariff does not stop that competition. It still goes on. We merely transfer the burden from the manufacturer or grower to the general taxpayers. In the case of sugar, I have already shown that competition is not blocked, that it still goes on, and that we have merely transferred the burden to the shoulders of the general taxpayers. By our Tariff we remove the burden from the manufacturer, and at the same time reduce trade and the profits arising from trade. All this arises from one initial error. Honorable members claim that all labour creates wealth. It does nothing of the sort. If it were so, where there are large numbers of men employed they would all be engaged in creating wealth, but I can show many cases in which labour and wealth are entirely distinct. Labour frequently works hard and creates no wealth, such as might happen in the case of employing men to dig holes on the seashore.
– You are drawing the long bow now.
– The honorable member will recognise that in such a case there is destruction of the whole 100 per cent, of effort; yet the honorable member will not recognise that if there are two factories turning out a particular article, each sustaining a loss of 50 per cent, of effort - that is if a protective duty of 50 per cent, is necessary to enable the article to be turned out - the loss thus sustained is exactly that which would result from employing men at digging holes on the seashore.
– I think the honorable member should have a quorum to hear this. [Quorum formed.]
– When the honorable member for Maribyrnong was complaining about the large amount of imports he quite forgot that he was passing a vote of censure on any Labour Government that has been borrowing money, because there is no other form in which that money can come into Australia except in the shape of goods. The honorable member tried to argue that the workers of Australia have too many goods. I assert that they have not too many goods, but that the goods they have should be increased a hundred-fold. It would be a splendid thing for the workers if they had a hundred times the articles and implements at present under their control; and if other countries would send along those articles and implements to us as a present, what a magnificent thing it would be for us ! Honorable members who talk about permitting nothing to come into Australia do not understand the alphabet of trade. They protest against goods being dumped into Australia. I only wish people would dump goods in here. I would build as many sheds as possible to accommodate all that they were willing to dump on this community, because I know of scores and scores of individuals who would be glad to have some share in the division of those goods which I would readily make on behalf of the workers. Yet honorable members say, “Let no capital come in. Keep out capital.” They are really saying, “ Let the rate of interest go up so that the poor man cannot borrow, and so that the landed estates will grow still larger.” It is an absolute travesty on legislation to know that there is a party so absolutely blind to the interests of the great body of workers of Australia as to assert that they have quite sufficient goods now, and will not allow any more to come in.
– They do not do it intentionally.
– I know, but the road to a certain place is paved with good intentions, and the road laid down to that place by honorable members of the Labour party is somewhat extraordinary. I hope they will learn that the only reason why people settle in certain locali ties is because those localities offer advantages for trade. People settle in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Brisbane, or wherever there are ports, because they will get advantages for trade; but according to the argument of honorable members of the Labour party, the locality of the Macdonnell Ranges, which is protected by a tariff of 10,000 per cent, in the shape of freights, should be a land flowing with milk and honey; everything should be prosperous there; nothing could be dumped there, and wages should be sky high. When they are in the ridiculous position that they assert, that places into which no- goods can go are absolutely the best places for white men, and offer the best advantages for workers, they are involving themselves in the unfortunate position of having to assert that every improvement that has taken place in the matter of lower freights, and so on, is a distinct injury to the workers. In fact, they lay down this principle - that if ships were compelled to sail three times round Australia in order to increase their freights by 100 per cent, before landing their goods, it would be conferring an enormous benefit on the people. Folly could go no further.
– The honorable member is back in the dark ages.
– That was the policy of the dark ages, and I did hope that by constant reiteration of plain, simple doctrines like this honorable members would get away from that period, and learn that it is only by the development of trade and commerce, and by that competition which they decry so much, there has been such great advance in the general welfare of this community. I wish to deal shortly with the subject of defence. I have said before in this Chamber that I yield to no man in thinking that we should try to provide safeguards for ourselves, because all our social activities and our existence itself as a nation may have to depend on our being in a proper state of defence. I look hopefully forward to the period coming in when there will be no more wars, but at the same time we have in the meantime to make some provision against predatory raids. As Australia is an island, our primary line of defence must be naval defence, and any military defence must be only of such a size and quality as to insure that we may effectively deal with any small body of, say, 3,000 men that may be transported to our shores. In fact, it must be sufficiently strong to insure that the invading force must consist of such a large body of men that the transports required to convey them cannot, in these days of wireless, escape notice, and may be readily and easily dealt with by our Navy. In speaking of the Navy, I naturally include the Navy of the Empire, without which we cannot exist or carry on our policy of a White Australia. If our naval defence should disappear, it is manifest that no effective military defence of Australia could exist. With two-fifths of the produce of Australia of a value of £80,000,000 a year suddenly ceasing to be exported, and thus being rendered valueless for the moment, there would be practically, including the sailors, 100,000 men thrown out of work in our cities. There would be a great call for peace in the cities, as well as in the country areas. It will, moreover, be seen that we could not hope to combat any of the eastern nations on the land, considering that they could place so many men in the field, while we should have our revenues reduced by our loss of trade. With such an enemy in possession of our trading cities, we could not go beyond a mere guerilla warfare, while they would be able to impose what export taxation they chose. If our Navy once failed us, we should have to yield; and we must never forget that the Navy is our real line of defence. I unhesitatingly say that under a voluntary system we could have had a much better military defence than we have now, when we are in a worse position than ever before. At the end of the year, when the Militia and other branches of the old forces have gone, we shall have a body of young fellows, the oldest of whom will be about twenty-one years of age. It is the opinion of military authorities the world over that young men up to twenty-five years of age are not fit for campaigning, but “ go down “ in six weeks or so.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
– The honorable member had better argue the point with the military authorities, who lay down the rules.
– I know from experience.
– The honorable member is speaking of exceptions; and, of course, we know that there have been able soldiers of from fifteen to sixteen years of age; but I am speaking of the bulk of the men in a conscript army. If we are to judge by the experience of Bulgaria, Servia, and other countries, youths under the age of twenty “ go down “ to the extent of 60 per cent, in six weeks.
– I was a better man at twenty-one years of age than ever I was in my life.
– I am not prepared to argue from individual cases. In France, Italy, Switzerland, and Denmark, the training does not begin until the age of twenty, and, in Germany, while the training begins at the age of seventeen, only 55 per cent, of the youths are called upon, and the training does not start until they are twenty-two or twenty-three years of age, leaving the average age not more than twenty-one.
– The boys whom the honorable member employs on his farm from 4 o’clock in the morning onwards must have strong constitutions.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. Does he really suggest that I employ boys in that way?
– Most decidedly. Has the honorable member no boys working on his farm ?
– I have no one employed there under the age of twenty-one years.
– I merely wish to know whether the statement that you did employ boys under such conditions was correct; I have heard it repeatedly.
– The honorable member can have heard it only in the echo of his hollow brain. We have introduced a system under which boys from fourteen to eighteen years of age are called Upon and, if it were merely for physical drill, I should have nothing more to say. In any case, the last persons in the world to undertake the physical drilling of boys are the military authorities, and under another arrangement the whole of it could, I am sure, be conducted at an expenditure of £100,000 a year. There is no necessity for uniforms or for overburdening the boys with rifles and equipment. At present, after the military authorities have committed a recalcitrant boy to gaol for twenty or twenty-one days - although he is supposed to have only sixty-four hours’ drill, which could easily be accomplished in eight or sixteen days - they claim him for drill, and, in addition, subject him to solitary confinement. The punishment by the civil authorities ought” to absolve the boys from any further obligation.
– Boys are punished because they have a conscience.
– I do not care whether they have a conscience or not, but it is true that if the boys do not obey their fathers and mothers and go to drill they are punished, and equally are they punished if they obey their fathers and mothers and plead conscientious objections.
– Does the honorable member believe in a general strike to prevent war ?
– I do, and I would give it my fullest support. I have always preferred strikes to slavery; and, although militarism may, perhaps, have raised us out of slavery, it is, compared with our industrial freedom, slavery in itself. A system such as ours shows that there is something wrong in the mental judgment of men who try to coerce, not men who have votes, but the children of the community. We are told that all this training and drilling is good for the boys, but, as a matter of fact, under this system they are, in the Courts, mixed up with drunkards and others of the criminal classes, and, moreover, are forced in the drilling to mix with the children of most undesirable members of the community. Sergeant-Major Lewis has pointed out that boys come into the ranks under the influence of drink, and disorganize the squad, malting the whole unmanageable; and it is with such boys that the children of the decent poor are called upon to mix. A more wicked system was never introduced by any Government. Solitary confinement to “break down” the boys–
– The honorable member could alter all that to-morrow morning.
– The regulation was introduced by Senator Pearce, and others of the Labour party.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am sorry that the honorable member’s time has expired, though, of course, he is under the slight disadvantage that no one takes him seriously.
– The honorable member does not understand what I say.
– That is quite possible. The honorable member raves and rants here about the Defence system, although he knows that, by his own vote alone, he could alter it at once. He is, however, so meek that he will feed out of the hand of the present Minister of Defence. The honorable member has said that the punishment of the cadets is under a regulation introduced by the Labour Government when Senator Pearce was Minister of Defence ; but I challenge the honorable member to prove his statement, by placing the regulation on the table, or to admit that he was making a statement that is absolutely incorrect. As a matter of fact, I do not believe there is any regulation, but that all this is done as an act of administration by the Government whom the honorable member is keeping in power by his vote.
– I admit that it has been continued by the present Government.
– It is an act of administration by the Government the honorable member supports. The honorable member goes to the Freedom League, and proclaims his opinion as to what should or should not be done, though, when he has an opportunity to alter present ‘conditions, he does not move his little finger.
I desire to say a word or two on the financial position. The Treasurer has admitted that during the last eleven months, the Government have gone to the bad to the extent of nearly £2,000,000, and that there is only about £800,000 of the accumulated surplus left. The Attorney-General, in the Wannon electorate, stated that the current expenditure of the Government is about £3,000,000 more than their income, and that this means either fresh taxation or curtailed expenditure.
– The Attorney-General said that the Government must borrow, retrench, or tax.
– Of course the Government may borrow, a policy the Treasurer has always favoured. I take it, however, that the Government will not borrow for current expenditure, but will live within their means. It will be remembered by those who were in the first Parliament that the Government, of which the Treasurer is the sole survivor here, proposed a tax on tea of 3d. per lb., and in favour of that tax votes were given by Sir John Forrest, the Treasurer himself; Mr.
Austin Chapman, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who was the Whip of that Government; Mr. L. E. Groom, the present Minister of Trade and Customs ; Mr. J. C. Manifold, who was then, and is now, honorable member for Corangamite; Mr. Bruce Smith, the honorable member for Parkes; and Mr. P. McM. Glynn, the present Minister of External Affairs.
Mr. J. C. Watson, Leader of the Labour party, and subsequently the first Labour Prime Minister, moved an amendment to make tea free of duty, and it was due to his action that tea was left untaxed. This is a means of taxation resorted to in many countries of the world, but it is one that hits the poor harder than it does any other section of the community. The tax then proposed was 2d. per lb., and 20 per cent., which, roughly, would have meant an increase of 3d. per lb. in the price of the lower class teas, and a little higher increase in the case of more expensive teas. As was pointed out at the time by the honorable member for Werriwa, that Government - and this applies to the present Government - could easily raise £500,000 or £1,000,000 in this way. They also advocated a tax on kerosene.
– I voted against the duty on tea.
– The six who voted for it were - Sir John Forrest, the present Treasurer; Mr. Austin Chapman, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, the Whip of the Government of the day; Mr. L. E. Groom, the present Minister of Trade and Customs; Mr. J. C. Manifold, the honorable member for Corangamite ; Mr. Bruce Smith, the honorable member for Parkes; and Mr. P. McM. Glynn, the present Minister of External Affairs. Those six voted to tax the tea of the poor, and all the others who voted for the duty are now out of politics.
– The honorable member admits that it is a tax. Why does he not vote against other taxes of the kind?
– Tea is not, and never has been, produced in Australia.
– I grow it in my own garden. The tea plant is a kind of camelia, and will grow almost anywhere.
– Probably a tax on tea will be proposed by this Government. I have shown how honorable members of the Fusion party voted in regard to such a proposal on another occasion. I am afraid that one of the Government’s methods of economizing may be to do what was done by the party opposite on a previous occasion, to prevent the extension of old-age pensions.
In March, 1908, Mr. Fisher, the honorable member for Wide Bay, moved an amendment on the question that Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, with a view to affirming that the electors having decided by a large majority that the Commonwealth should pay old-age pensions, provision should be made for their payment. Honorable members opposite were too cunning to vote against that amendment, but how did they speak? Let me read some extracts from the debates, which are recorded in the Hansard reports for the session. The present Treasurer, Sir John Forrest - his remarks will be found on page 9204; I do not, as the Prime Minister did the other night, make a number of quotations which cannot be verified - said -
While the Braddon provision has force, financial considerations prevent the establishment of an old-age pensions system.
When the present Prime Minister was speaking, the late Mr. Hutchison asked -
Is the honorable member going to tell us how Commonwealth old-age pensions can be provided ?
The present Prime Minister’s reply was, “Why should I?” The late Mr. Frazer said, page 9318 -
I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that this question has reached such a stage as to justify a very definite statement from the Leader of the Government. . . . The Prime Minister does not appear to be sanguine as to the possibility of giving anything until the expiration of the Braddon provision.
– Quite true.
– Ministers say now that we must wait until the Braddon section expires.
– That is so.
The honorable member for Echuca said -page 9323-
While quite prepared to warmly support a Federal old-age pensions scheme, I cannot, for one moment, indorse a proposal to take money out of the pockets of the people by means of taxation, and then hand it back in the form of pensions.
The late Mr. Knox said, page 9332 -
I think the members of the Labour party have, through their leader, displayed considerable adroitness in taking this opportunity of practically saying to the Government, “You are too slow in bringing this matter forward, and we desire you to hasten it on.” … I am absolutely opposed to the alienation of any of our public funds for such a purpose unless those funds are provided from the primary source of the Commonwealth revenue, namely, the duties derived from Customs and Excise. I do not at all favour a land tax, which would interfere with State rights.
The present Treasurer said, page 9337 -
The Government have plainly set forth, times out of number, that financial reasons prevent the question being dealt with until after 1910, when what is known as the Braddon section ceases to operate. … I am in favour of the granting of old-age pensions, but I have never thought the establishment of a Commonwealth scheme possible until after the expiration of the Braddon provision.
All the Liberals, Anti-Labourites, or Fusionists in Parliament at that time professed to favour a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions, but they made difficulties about providing the money. At that time the Braddon section was still in operation. It required the Commonwealth to return to the States 15s. for every £1 collected from Customs and Excise duties, and, in addition, the Commonwealth had returned in seven years some £6,500,000, being the unspent surplus of the remaining 5s., which it was at liberty to retain. The proposal of Mr. Fisher, the present Leader of the Opposition, was that the Commonwealth should in future keep the whole of its portion of the Customs and Excise revenue, putting what it did not spend into a fund from which pensions could be paid before the expiration of the Braddon section.
The Surplus Revenue Bill was brought forward by the late Sir William Lyne on the 31st March, 1908, a fortnight after Mr. Fisher’s resolution had been carried, having been bitterly opposed by members of the present Liberal party. The present Treasurer spoke against it on several occasions, and Mr. W. H. Irvine, the Attorney-General, said that he would oppose it as well as he was able, and we know his ability. The Treasurer moved that the Bill be read that six months, an ordinary motion for the shelving of the measure; but he withdrew his proposal to enable Mr. Joseph Cook, the present Prime Minister, to move that the consideration of the Bill be postponed until the financial relations of the States and the Commonwealth could be dealt with as a whole.
The honorable gentleman had not the courage to vote against a Commonwealth old-age pension system; but he wished to trick the people into believing that he was in favour of it, although he was trying to prevent the adoption of the only method available for getting money with which pensions could be paid before the expiration of the Braddon section. His proposal meant an indefinite postponement of the Bill. Fortyfour members of the Fusion party were then in Parliament, and twenty-nine of them voted or paired in favour of the Prime Minister’s proposal. I shall give only the names of those who are still in Parliament, or are likely to be candidates at the next election. Those who voted for the postponement of the Bill were Mr. L. Atkinson, the honorable member for Wilmot; Mr. Joseph Cook, Parramatta; Sir John Forrest, Swan; Mr. J. Livingston, Barker; Mr. W. J. McWilliams Franklin; Mr. A. C. Palmer, Echuca; Mr. H. Sinclair, Moreton; Mr. Bruce Smith, Parkes; Mr. W. H. Kelly, Wentworth; and Mr. W. E. Johnson, Lang; the honorable member for Angas, Mr. P. McM. Glynn; Mr. A. Wynne, Balaclava; Mr. Hans Irvine, Grampians; and Mr. W. H. Irvine, Flinders; and Mr. G. W. Fuller paired in favour of this proposal. Had it been left to the Fusion, party, which was aptly termed by Mr. Deakin the wreckage party, the party composed of the derelicts of all political parties that have ever been in existence in Australia, provision would not have been made for the payment of old-age pensions by the Commonwealth. When the Bill went to the Senate, Senators Gould and Millen voted against it.
In 1909, when the Deakin-Cook Government was in power, Mr. Fisher, the Leader of the Opposition, proposed that women should be eligible for pensions on attaining the age of sixty years, instead of sixty-five years. I think that women are as much entitled to pensions at sixty as at sixty-five; but the following members of the Fusion party voted against the alteration: - The honorable member for Wilmot, Mr. L. “Atkinson; Mr. Joseph Cook, Parramatta; Sir John Forrest, Swan; Mr. J. M. Fowler, Perth; Mr. P. McM. Glynn, Angas; Mr. L. E. Groom, Darling Downs ; Mr. Hans Irvine,
Grampians; Mr. W. H. Irvine, Flinders; Mr. W.. H. Kelly, Wentworth;. Mr. W. J. Mcwilliams, Franklin; Mr. A. C. Palmer, Echuca; Mr. S. Sampson, Wimmera; Mr. H. Sinclair, Moreton; Mr. A. Wynne, Balaclava ; and Messrs. G. W. Fuller, Mauger, Carty Salmon, Hume Cook,, and Mr. John Thomson, the honorable member for Cowper, paired against it-
Invalid pensions were not provided for as early as old-age pensions, their payment being postponed to a date to be fixed by proclamation. The honorable member for Cook, on behalf of the Labour party, moved to fix the 1st January, 1910, as the first date of payment. That was opposed by members of the Fusion party. The same members of the Fusion party voted against invalids getting pensions at all. It was only after the Fisher Government took office in 1910 that pensions were paid to invalids, the Commonwealth being the first country in the world in which such pensions were paid.
– Invalid pensions were paid in New South Wales, and were provided for by a Liberal Government.
– I have stated that the members of the Fusion party voted against a proposal for the payment of invalid pensions to the people of Australia as a whole.
– The honorable member has not mentioned the state of the finances at the time.
– We have been told that on taking office in April, 1910, the Labour party found an overflowing Treasury.
– The Labour party took ©inco on the eve of the expiration of the Braddon section, when millions of additional revenue were about to become available for Commonwealth purposes.
– When a measure was proposed’ for obtaining money for pension purposes prior to the expiration of the Braddon clause, the Liberal members voted against invalids getting pensions at all.
– Against the payment of pensions at that time; not against their payment altogether.
– The Minister will not dispute my statement that honorable members opposite objected to the proposal to make women eligible for pensions at the age of sixty years. I am afraid that the party opposite may go back on what has been done, and again make old- . age pensions payable to women only when they have reached the age of sixty-five years.
– The honorable member knows that there is no intention of doing anything of the kind.
– Members of the Liberal party refused to fix a date on which invalid pensions should be payable. The following members voted against the fixing of a date on which the invalid pension provisions of the Act should come into operation: - Mr. Atkinson, the Fusion member for Wilmot; Mr. Joseph Cook, the Fusion Prime Minister; Sir John Forrest, the Fusion Treasurer; Mr. G. W. Fuller, the ex-member for Illawarra; Mr. Glynn, the present Minister of External Affairs; Mr. Groom, the present Minister’ of Trade and Customs ; Mr. Hans Irvine, the honorable member for Grampians; the Attorney-General, Mr. W. TEL. Irvine; the honorable member for Lang, Mr. W. Elliot Johnson; the Honorary Minister, Mr. Kelly; Mr. S. Mauger; the honorable member for Franklin, Mr. W. J. Mcwilliams; the honorable member for Echuca, Mr. A. C. Palmer; Dr. Carty Salmon - I do not know where he stands to-day: I think Mr. Watt has side-stepped him - the honorable member for Wimmera, Mr. Sampson; the honorable member for Moreton, Mr. Sinclair; the Postmaster-General, Mr. Agar Wynne, and Mr. Hume Cook. When the proposal reached the Senate, how was it dealt with? Senator Henderson, a member of the Labour party, moved to- reduce the age at which women should be eligible to receive a pension, and the following members of the Fusion party voted against that proposal: - Sir Robert Best - who was then a member of the Senate - Senator Gould, Senator Keating, Senator McColl, Senator Millen, ex-Senator Mulcahy - who, I believe, is a candidate for selection to run in the Fusion interests in Tasmania - ex-Senator W. A. Trenwith and ex-Senator Macfarlane.
It is- also a matter of history, Mr. Chairman, that the great majority of the Liberal party in the first Federal Parliament voted to impose a duty of 2d. per lb.-, or 20 per cent, ad valorem, on tea. In the House at the present time there is only one representative’ of the first
Liberal Ministry, and five others of the party who voted for that duty. Speaking from memory, the Government of the day abandoned the proposed duty on kerosene of 3d. per gallon, whilst the proposed duty on tea was defeated. These were two easy means of raising revenue from the people, and they may be resorted to by the present Government should they be returned to power. We can only judge them by their actions. We must look at their performances in order to determine what they may do in the future. In Queensland the Liberal party, prior to Federation, had a duty, I think, of 6d.- per lb. on tea, and 6d. per gallon on kerosene.
The only other point that I wish to emphasize is that, owing to the action taken by the right honorable member for Wide Bay on behalf of the Labour party, Federal old-age pensions were introduced eighteen months earlier than they would otherwise have been. The honorable member practically told the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Deakin, that an Old-age Pensions Bill must be passed in 1908, and it was passed. It is a matter of history that the Bill was passed readily, and that there would have been no means of finding the money necessary to pay the pensions if those to whom I have referred as voting against the Surplus Revenue Bill had been in power. I place these facts on record so that those who are in receipt of invalid and old-age pensions will know that, owing to the action of the Labour party, they secured their pensions eighteen months earlier than they would have done if the question had rested with the Fusion party, which has always been opposed to any extension of the invalid and old-age pension system.
.- Honorable members of the Opposition are continually charging the Liberal Government with having failed to pass any useful legislation during their term of office. The charge is distinctly humorous when we take into consideration the fact that as soon as the present Parliament met the Opposition expressed their determination to refuse to allow the Government to pass any measure of a useful character.
– I refer the honorable member to a speech made by the honorable member for Kennedy shortly after the House met last August. Since then the Labour party have adopted every known and unknown means of preventing the Government doing anything of a useful character. They have raised points of order from time to time. They have submitted many amendments, and their objections to the rulings of Mr. Speaker have been as numerous as spinsters round a curate at a sale of work.
– I think that the honorable member’s utterance is worthy of a. quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I was referring when interrupted to the obstructive tactics of the Opposition during last session and this session. Every device that the human mind could conceive has been brought into operation to prevent the Government carrying out that policy which they submitted to the people at the last general election, and which was responsible for their successful return. Re-: cognising the utter futility of expecting the Opposition to assist them to pass any legislation of a useful character the Government rightly determined to end this political farce which has been costing the people so dearly. In support of my contention that honorable members opposite have wasted time, I have a few facta which I should like them to digest. I am afraid that they will sadly interfere with their digestion. I have before me a statement snowing how the time of this House was occupied from 9th July, 1913, to 31st October. In that period there were forty-eight sitting days, less one day on which the sitting lapsed. The House sat for 287 hours 53 minutes, and of that time questions and personal explanations occupied 20 hours 12 minutes, and private members’ business 32 hours, leaving a balance of 235 hours 41 minutes available for consideration of Government business..During Government time Ministerialists spoke 202 times, occupying, in all, 66 hours 52 minutes, whilst members of the Opposition spoke 359 times, and occupied 161 hours 32 minutes.
– This was the time when they say they were “ gagged.”
– The honorable gentleman will remember that the Opposition resorted to means of obstruction for which, we have very few precedents; they even opposed strenuously a motion for leave to introduce various Bills. Coming to the Senate, we find an even worse condition of affairs prevailing. The Senate has been prostituting its power.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that expression. He must not reflect on another place.
– I shall withdraw the remark, and say that in the Senate a worse sate of affairs has prevailed. There, business has been taken out of the hands of the Government. In tha first place, Senator McGregor moved that Senator Givens take the chair as President, and that Senator O’ Keefe be Chairman of Committees. Then, as will be seen by reference to Hansard, volume LXX., page 91, they will see that Senator Russell moved the suspension of the Standing Orders, despite an appeal made to him by Senator Millen, who pointed out that he would have ample opportunity to bring forward the matter to which he desired to refer if he allowed the ordinary business of the Senate to proceed. On this question the Senate divided, and the motion was carried against the Government. Senator Russell then moved the adjournment of the House to discuss a speech made by Senator McColl at Fitzroy, on 21st July, with regard to alleged electoral irregularities. I would further remind honorable members of the action taken by Senator de Largie, who moved the suspension of the Standing Orders and the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the case of Mr. Chinn. Senator Clemons moved the suspension of the Standing Orders to allow a Supply Bill to be passed through all its stages without delay; but Senator de Largie immediately moved that Government business be postponed until his motion in regard to the Chinn inquiry had been dealt with. Senator McGregor moved for the introduction of his Constitutional Alteration Bills, and, later, moved the adjournment of the Senate whilst a censure motion was on the notice-paper for the House of Representatives. That was on 19th, 20th, and 21st November, and at that time there were before the Senate the following matters - Loan Bill, Postal . Voting Restoration Bill, Government Preference Prohibition Bill, Committee of Public Accounts Bill, Estimates and Budget-papers, 1913-14; and the resumption of the debate, on a motion by Senator Clemons that the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the Year ending 30th June, 1914, and the Budget-papers, 1913-14, laid on the table of the Senate on 2nd October, be printed. The Labour party in the Senate, like so many schoolboys, have been taking possession of the Chamber, and - have been doing exactly as they please in school.
Th« CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member must not use any offensive expression in regard to another place.
– I withdraw, Mr. Fowler. Coming to the Chinn inquiry, we find that an application for expenses to enable the Select Committee to visit Kalgoorlie was refused by the Government, and that Senator de Largie moved that the Committee have leave to adjourn to Kalgoorlie. On that question the Senate divided with the usual result. Another matter brought up by the Labour party in the Senate was the discussion and the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry in regard to Cockatoo Island. On 28th November, Senator McGregor opposed a motion by Senator Millen, that for the remainder of the session - which, by the way, closed on the 18th December - Government business should take precedence of other business. The House divided on the question, and Senator Millen’s motion was lost. In view of the fact that the time of both Houses has been wasted in this way, it is distinctly humorous to hear the Opposition accusing the Government of failing to carry anything of a useful character. I propose to make a comparison of some of the expressions of opinion in which members of the Labour party have indulged on the question of the double dissolution. Now that the die has been cast - now that the Governor-General has granted a dissolution - the warriors opposite, who previously were throwing down the gauntlet and inviting an appeal to the country, are squealing so loudly that they can be heard from Darwin to Fremantle. Listen to what Senator Pearce said about the position in which the two Houses found themselves. He was reported in the Argus, of 4th June, 1913, as saying -
Whatever happened, the Labour party were masters of the situation, as no legislation could be passed or repealed without the sanction of the Senate. The future was full of possibilities, because if the Senate rejected a measure twice within three months, the GovernorGeneral could order a double dissolution.
Then Senator McDougall, in an interview published in the Sydney Morning Herald of 4th June, 1913, is credited with having said -
The position of the Liberal Government is untenable, because of Labour’s great majority in the Senate. The present majority for Labour in the Senate will overbalance the Fusion, and the Liberal Government will be unable to pass any legislation. All things considered, therefore, it appears to me that there must be an appeal to the people sooner or later.
The honorable member for Hunter is reported in the Age of 6th June, 1914, as follows : -
As things have been going since the session opened, 1 am glad there is to be an appeal to the people. It was useless going on as we were. . . . In all the circumstances, I am glad the matter is to be decided one way or another.
But most humorous of all is the position that the honorable member for West Sydney finds himself in. It is very difficult to harmonize the expressions he made use of prior to the double dissolution being granted with his utterances since. I find that the honorable member, in an interview published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 4th June, 1913, said -
The actual position is almost farcical. To Watch the Government fighting for its life in one Chamber, and hoplessly overwhelmed in the other, will be extremely interesting for the deluded philosophical observer. One thing is certain - the Fusion can pass no laws with which the Senate does not agree. In that Chamber the Labour party has an overwhelming majority. The Fusion cannot even get Supply without the consent of the Senate, lt can only live upon terms the Senate imposes. Responsible government, under such circumstances, is impossible.
– Who is that?
– That is the honorable member for West Sydney. I can understand the honorable member for Wannon being surprised, because one would think it was the Prime Minister, and not a member of the Opposition, who was speaking. The honorable member for West Sydney continued -
What is the outcome to be? It appears to me that if both parties are going to insist on carrying out that policy in which they believe, the only outcome can be a dead-lock.- Every party measure that the House of Representatives passes may be rejected by the Senate. So much is cleaT. And, of course, ultimately this must bring about either a double dissolution, as provided for by section 57 of the Constitution, or legislation in accordance with the views of the majority of the Senate.
– He told us what to do.
– In the Daily Telegraph of 13th September, 1913, in hia “ Case for Labour,” the honorable member makes the following statement : -
In the Senate the position (of the Government) is pathetic, hopeless. They cannot control the House; they cannot place their motions on the business-paper in the order they desire; they cannot form a quorum to form a House; they cannot keep a House when made; and they cannot adjourn the House. This position is extraordinary. It (the Government) cannot even keep a House. It meets by grace of the Opposition; it discusses business in the order the Opposition determines. It adjourns when, and to what future dato, the Opposition pleases.
Those utterances, compared with the utterances of the honorable member last week. sound somewhat peculiar. The honorable member is reported in the daily press of 9th June as having said, in an interview -
The announcement that the GovernorGeneral has granted a double dissolution has come as a great surprise. In my opinion, the decision of His Excellency is wrong, not sanctioned by precedent, and completely opposed to, and destructive of, the foundations upon which the Federal compact rests. The contention that the rejection of any measure by the Senate makes the dissolution of both Houses imperative is repugnant to the Constitution and to common sense.
Any further comment upon these two statements would be superfluous. We all admire the exceptional- ability of the honorable member for West Sydney, but I do not think that any one can accuse him of possessing the virtue of consistency, and when his political history comes to be written, he will go down to posterity as “William of the Double Voice.” In the face of all these facts, honorable members of the Opposition have had the temerity and effrontery to rise to their feet, and, without a quiver of an eyelid, without the slightest tremor in their voices, but with a sincerity of expression that would be apt to convince the unwary, accuse the present Government of not having done any business. What the Opposition wanted was a good battle-cry. They were in hopes that the Government would run their full term, plodding along in a quiet, easy manner, introducing only measures of a gentle ladylike character, and then, when the time came to go to the country, honorable members opposite would go on every platform throughout Australia, and, with voices trembling with indignation, accuse the Government of being the most incompetent and spineless that ever held office.
– Hear, hear!
– They were quite content to participate in this outrage on the public funds as long as they could keep their positions and draw their salaries. Honorable members opposite knew that if any measure passed through this Chamber which was likely to confer any kudos on the Liberal party, their fellow-conspirators in the Senate would fall on it like a pack of wolves and tear it to pieces.
– The honorable member is again out of order in referring to fellow-conspirators in the Senate.
– I withdraw, Mr. Chairman. Why did they adopt that attitude? Because they wished to pose as the only champions of the working man ; from them only could emanate legislation likely to confer benefits on the working men and women of Australia. The unfortunate thing is that thousands of their poor, deluded victims outside believe thom. They are a party of make-believe. No term ever invented fits the Opposition better than that. They are the champion political confidence men of Australia, ever ready to pour some likely, plausible tale into the willing ears of their poor, deluded supporters outside. Consider their attitude on the Government Preference Prohibition Bill. The statement has been made by honorable members opposite that members supporting the Government are opposed to unionism in any shape or form. Personally, I give this my emphatic denial. I recognise that unions have done an immense amount of good in improving the conditions of the workers, in giving them better pay and better hours, and winning for them many concessions which rightly belong to them. Nor have those benefits been confined to the workers alone. The employers also have benefited. I mean that class of employer who was ever ready to treat his men fairly and justly, giving a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. The unions have benefited him in protecting him- against the unfair competition of the unscrupulous employer who was barely paying his hands sufficient to enable them to keep body and soul to gether. No man believing in the adage, “ Live and let live,” could find any fault with the unions, and the work they have done in this respect. But when I find them attempting to dominate Australia from the Trades Hall, insisting on preference to unionists in Government employ, and trying to - run the whole Commonwealth through the Trades Hall,. I part company with my honorable friends opposite. I say that there should be no preference in Government employment to either unionists or non-unionists. Appointments should be made on considerations of merit, and merit only. Every man being a taxpayer, every man has an equal right to participate in the work that such taxation provides. When the Government Preference Prohibition Bill was introduced, the honorable member for West Sydney, in that picturesque phraseology of which he is such a master, described it as “ the mere shadow of a sham,” and yet, strange to say, we found that as soon as leave to introduce the Bill was asked, honorable members opposite fell upon ib tooth and nail. They lashed themselves into a fury over it; they opposed it at every stage of its progress, and their conduct could only be likened tothat of so many Kilkenny cats. If there was nothing in that Bill, why all this* heat and anger?
– You were wasting the time of your country.
– The honorable member for Nepean is only a political baby. When; lie gets a little older, he will understand politics.
– Methuselah speaks.
– With all due respect to the Attorney-General, I say that if that Bill is ever placed on the statutebook, it will be operated only when the Liberal Government are in power.
– Hear, hear !
– Because the history of Labour Governments in Australia hastaught us that they are prepared to violate almost any law on the statute-book if their masters outside so dictate. If their supporters outside insist on this particular measure, being brushed aside, they will doit without the slightest hesitation. Their troubles about the general public; - the poor, thoughtless, neverstoptothinkforhimself elector - as long as they please the people who are responsible for sending, them here. So we found members of the
Opposition, as often as. the word “ dissolution “ was used, throwing down the gage of battle, and crying, “Go to the country.” “ We all did see their martial bearing.” No warrior of old going forth to do battle for his lady-love could have been more heroic in attitude, or more defiant in manner than honorable members opposite, who would have their supporters outside believe that they regarded electioneering as the spice of life ; that there was no pleasure equal to orating in draughty halls or from windy balconies. Honorable members know that they were not sincere. In this Chamber they have lashed themselves into a delirium of enthusiasm, a frenzy of recklessness, but in the privacy of their own homes they would seek their bedsides, and, with that familiarity with which they frequently address the Prime Minister, they would cry in anguished tones, “ Oh, Lord, don’t give Joe Cook a double dissolution.” The very name of dissolution was enough to send icy-cold shivers playing up and down their backs. I believe that members of the late Ministry were in earnest in their desire for a dissolution - I mean those gentlemen who sit on the front Opposition bench. That bench has marvellous attraction. Members of the Opposition seem to be irresistibly drawn towards it; there seems to be some magnetic influence attracting them to it, and when they get there they are always bobbing up and down. There are so many leaders on that side of the chamber that the ex-Prime Minister has almost been lost in the crowd.
– The reason is that there are so many members of ability on this side.
– I trust that the honorable member will also combine the virtue of dignity with the ability of which he speaks. If those honorable members who were in the Labour Government were earnest in their recent endeavour to bring about a single dissolution, it was because they all have safe seats, and they are quite satisfied to risk spending a few pounds on electioneering, because, if through a re-shuffle of the political cards they came back into office, the cost would be infinitesimal compared with what they would gain. They have been in the tart-shop, and they have had their fingers in the jam, and during the last twelve months they have been meditatively sucking those fingers, longing for the time when once again they will be back in office. That is- why they wish to have a single dissolution. But the poor rank and file, those who have been, figuratively speaking, sitting on three-legged chairs, who may fall by the wayside, they do not want a single dissolution, and have been cursing, not only the Government, but also the bold buccaneers of .the Senate for forcing this double dissolution upon them. Those honorable members opposite who have been lavish in their condemnation of the Government, and very frequent in their challenges to go to the country, know in their hearts that if the Labour party had been in power under similar circumstances, nothing short of an earthquake or a charge of dynamite would have shifted them from the Treasury bench until the full term of Parliament expired. But, in order to terminate the present situation, that no self-respecting Ministry could tolerate, the Government very rightly applied for a double dissolution, and got it; and, since then, honorable members opposite have been reviling the Governor-General for having granted it. One honorable member, the honorable member for Barrier, who should know better, considering that he has been a Minister of the Crown, has been accusing the Governor-General of partisanship. If His Excellency’s decision had been the other way about, this gentleman’s complaint would have been the reverse.
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss the decision of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
– The challenge has been accepted, and the people are going to referee the fight, but I consider the Government are going to the country too soon. We should have waited until the report of the Electoral. Commission was presented, and its recommendations considered by this Parliament. We should have waited until the rolls, could be purified as much as possible under the present faulty Act. The Act is as full of opportunities for fraud as a colander is full of holes. I am fully aware that the honorable member for Wide Bay, in the grandiloquent tones he assumes when he is speaking of the people of Australia would designate my remarks as a “ slander “ ; but I maintain that the Act which his Government fathered, and under which we are working, is a disgrace to the people of Australia, and is not fair to a free and democratic community.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member speaks well. He reminds me of the honorable member for Parkes. I sometimes think he must be the under-study of the honorable member for Parkes. The fault I have to find with him is that he has not availed himself of his opportunities to speak in this chamber. He has had opportunities to speak, but evidently, though he went to the country waving the flag of freedom, he has had to bow to the will of the Liberal Caucus, and has hardly opened his mouth during this session. I do not think he has spoken more than three times since he has been in the House. He will have to answer for that silence when he goes before his constituents. Where was the honorable member’s manhood that he did not revolt against the orders of the AttorneyGeneral, the most Conservative Tory of Australia ? I have not time to deal with the honorable member and his remarkable utterances.
I dare say that it is quite possible some members of the Opposition did not like the idea of a general election. I do not. I am utterly opposed to going to the country. It is only twelve months since I was before my constituents, and my majority was 6,863, whereas in 1910 it was only 2,800. I have no reason to fear that the electors of Capricornia have withdrawn their support from me. On the contrary, I have every reason to believe that if we have a general election I shall be returned. I object to being sent to the country every year, because my electorate is 1,500 miles away from Melbourne, and a lot of travelling has to be done. The division is equal in area to the State of Victoria. I shall not attempt to follow the honorable member for Nepean in all his accusations against the Labour party as to our fighting like Kilkenny cats and attacking tooth and nail measures introduced by Ministers, and tearing them to pieces, and preventing the Government carrying on the business of the country. I simply refer the honorable member to the list of measures which have been passed. They appear in the Government Gazette. Some of the Honorable member’s constituents may ask him the question. We passed Supply Bills, the Norfolk Island Bill, the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Bill, and also a Loan Bill for £2,000,000. Had we cared to hold up the business of the country we could have done it on those measures ; but no, we were prepared on all occasions to assist the Government in passing measures for the benefit of the whole of the community, though at the same time we deemed it our sacred duty to prevent them from attacking our social legislation, which we believed was in the interests, not only of those who work for wages, but also of civilization itself.
– Do you include the postal vote?
– Go and study the Constitution. The other day you displayed a great amount of ignorance in saying that the old-age and invalids pensions were not included in the Constitution.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– Now you are only aggravating your offence by telling an untruth. You can see your statement in Hansard. I now come to the question of the treatment of the cadets of Australia. I am not prepared to say whether the compulsory training system is going to turn out wholly for the benefit of Australia. It has not been in vogue long enough for us to decide whether it is in the interests of the manhood of Australia that we should take boys at a tender age, and subject them to the discipline which our military officers think is necessary. I went to a picture show the other night, and there was a considerable interval because the films were not screened in regular order. The operator was not doing his work well, or there was something wrong with the machine. At any rate, the boys around me did what I did when I was a boy - they commenced to rattle their feet on the floor as an indication that they objected to the manner in which the entertainment was being placed before them. The noise went on for a few minutes until one of the attendants came in and said, “ Stop that noise,” and all the boys immediately stopped their tapping on the floor.
– They were angels; they were not boys.
– They were not the hoys Australian boys were thirty or forty years ago, and I wish to know whether the military discipline which we are inflicting on the boys of to-day is going to have the effect that it will make the manhood of Australia by-any-by put up with injustice. I read in an encyclopaedia some time ago that the class in the community most subject to hypnotism were soldiers, because they were accustomed to obeying the word of command, and when the hypnotist told them to go to sleep, they went to sleep more quickly than any one else. That is a scientific fact. “We should train our people to defend the country, and I do not say a word against the compulsory system as a system; but I do say that there are certain great defects which require remedying right away. Some time ago there was a disturbance at the Liverpool camp, and a report we have before us condemns the officers who had charge of that camp. Since that time there has been an encampment at Lilydale, but, so far as I know, there has been no investigation regarding what happened there. The boys in the case to which I have referred were mostly from the city and suburbs, and they were placed under the command of big, strong, 16-stone officers, men on horseback, who marched them 20 miles on one of the hottest and most trying days in summer. Many of the officers, though, of course, I do not say all, who have control of the cadets do not understand boys; and I was very grieved on reading Sir Ian Hamilton’s report to find that he did not touch on the question whether our system of training and encampments is not too severe for them. So far as I know the General .has not referred to this matter at all; and, therefore, I am forced to quote some words which he spoke in acknowledging a toast at a dinner given in his honour at Brisbane. The newspaper report of that function is as follows : -
General Hamilton, in acknowledging the toast, touched on defence matters. He said they might compare Australia, metaphorically, to an eighteen-year-old trainee of 6 ft. 2 in. in his stockings, giving magnificent promise for the future, but liable just yet to be knocked out by quite an inferior sort of chap who was more mature, and, consequently, better-knit together. What was wanted was more time for the development of the youth into matured soldiers.
This gives only a glimpse of Sir Ian Hamilton’s opinion concerning the treatment of the youths. I dare say that, surrounded as he was by the military officers of Australia, with whom he was well acquainted, and by whom he was being treated magnificently, he could not find it in his heart to express in his report an opinion as to the rough treatment meted out by certain of them to the boys. As to what happened at Lilydale we read in the Age of 17th February -
Turning to more recent events still, evidence is not wanting that the troops which were training last week at Lilydale were overworked. Since their return to town, many cases have been reported, though none officially, of youths who were unable to return at once to their civil occupation owing to fatigue and foot weariness. Several men, on their arrival from Lilydale on Saturday, fainted from exhaustion. Surely it is too great a price to pay for efficiency if only one man be overtrained. Sir Ian Hamilton, riding among the troops immediately after the morning engagement on Friday, was quick to note traces of exhaustion in the troops. The 2,000 men on the preceding day had covered 20 miles, not marching along even a dusty road, but manoeuvring across country - now halting, now scrambling up hills, now slipping down the hard and grassy slopes. … A medical examination made indiscriminately down the firing line by an army medical officer revealed the startling fact that ten trainees were suffering from acute dilation of the heart. When the troops returned to camp - the last unit filed in at 7 p.m., having been in the field since 8 a.m. - they were practically ready to drop from exhaustion. The lads lay about in their tents, too tired even to talk, too exhausted almost to sleep, and their feet were swollen and blistered. The General had foreseen what the Brigadier had not - that the morning exercise was sufficient for the troops. As Sir Ian Hamilton remarked, in effect, they cannot learn much, even if they do carry out the exercise, when they are tired.
Some little investigation was made, and the military officers replied that there was no examination, and they denied the correctness of the report. I noticed yesterday, I think it was, that when Dr. Maloney asked a question about an officer having been fined the reply given was, “There is nothing on record.” Answers to such questions as these are not given straight out; but, however that may be, the Age in an article on the 2nd April last said : -
The medical officers, as a whole, deny having made any official examination of the men. It was never suggested that they had. A casual examination was made on behalf of a high officer, the men being picked out indiscriminately along a line.
It is quite true that physical training is pood for boys, but I have given some attention to the subject, and my opinion is that, in the case of growing youths, it can be overdone. Certainly a boy cannot be properly physically trained by being kept standing on the side street by the half hour, or being compelled to walk to and fro forming fours. No good can be done to boys by taking them at the age of 18 to 20, and marching them 20 miles a day carrying a heavy burden. I saw some of the boys who had marched from Heidelberg one afternoon - a distance of about 12 miles - and each was carrying about 43-lbs. weight. Would any medical man of knowledge and experience say that boys are benefited by that sort of thing ?
– Whom does it benefit?
– I do not suppose that it benefits anybody. I do not know Colonel Monash personally, but I understand that he is a man of 15 or 16 stone weight, and I dare say that, being on horseback, he did not realize what the boys at Lilydale were suffering. While the vitality of the average boy of 18 to 20 years of age is, I believe, as great as ever it was, he may not be so well able to rough it as were the boys of 30 or 40 years ago, many of whom lived in the country, and on the Saturday .afternoons were accustomed to walk 10 or 15 miles in the bush. It is quite possible that the boys of to-day, whatever their vitality may be, have not the capacity to suddenly endure a march of 20 miles, especially on an extremely hot day; and to say this is to say nothing against the physical or mental fitness of the cadets of to-day. In my opinion military officers ought to be subject to some kind of examination before they are placed in charge of the boys. Evidently the Minister of Defence does not see his way to interfere; and thus we have a brigadier compelling long marches such as those to which I have referred. I understand that in no part of the world are soldiers called upon to drill in the hot parts of the day, and it is reserved for Australia to take, not adult men, but boys of tender age - and 18 years, after all, means only a boy - and subject them to work only fit for welltrained and mature men. It is certainly time some alteration was made in this respect. I now come to the ‘question of the treatment of defaulting cadets, some of whom, on religious grounds, areacting under the orders of their parents. Only to-day I received the following letter : - 125 New-street, Middle Brighton, 10th June, 1914.
Finding I am unable to obtain justice- from the Defence Department, I write earnestly appealing to you to kindly use your influencein connexion with the unjust treatment of our lad, who, through loyalty to his parents’ viewsof Christian teaching, is undergoing solitary confinement in the cells at Queenscliff fortress.
Tom is a lad of 10, and was sent to Queenscliff on Wednesday last for 21 days, for refusing to train under the Defence Act. My wife and I are members of the Society of Friends, and hold strong convictions on thismatter of militarism, which is a vital one in the religious views of the Quakers, and however you may differ from me on this point, I am quite sure, as a man, you will agree that, this is not the treatment for a boy of sixteen, even if he had committed a crime.
For continuing in his refusal, the boy wasplaced in the cell next the guard-room on Thursday night, where he was confined until 11 a.m. Saturday morning, and then courtmart i ailed. The Military Court then ordered him to be placed in a cell for seven days. He is locked in a cell 10 foot by 10 foot, built, of wood, with an iron roof. It has no window, the light coming through a grating. He has a wooden stretcher, the mattress and blanketsare taken away in the morning, and not brought back until dark. He has halfan.hour’s exercise in the morning, and again in the afternoon; he is on half diet, has not been allowed to road, nor to write to his parents.
We were quite unaware of this treatment of Iri-rn until we visited Queenscliff on Monday,, when we found him looking worse than when seen five days previously. This we attributed to the mental strain of the solitary confinement, a recent illness of a month in bed, and to the reduced diet - after lunch time on Saturday he received only bread and water until breakfast time Sunday.
The boy endeavoured to cheer his mother by saying that -he had only four days’ more solitary confinement to go through. However, thismorning we waited on the Defence Department authorities, and were officially informed that if the boy continued in his refusal to forego hisconvictions he would be ordered a further period of solitary confinement.
The Civil Court ordered the boy into militarycustody, but surely it is going beyond the intentions of the Citizen Army for a court martial to be allowed to step in after a case has been dealt with by the civil Court. Furthermore, solitary confinements should never lie ordered. The question may well be asked: Is this a Citizen Army controlled ‘by Parliament, or a military Army controlled by the Military _ Board ? A Melbourne lawyer states that solitary confinement is -considered inhuman, and only used in the case of refractory criminals of the worst type.
My wife and I earnestly appeal for your influence in tins distressing matter, and hope you will at least write a letter to the Minister of Defence.
Yours very sincerely,
That letter reached me only to-day. I understand that the boy has now been taken out of solitary confinement. All authorities are opposed to solitary confinement as a punishment, even for prisoners who have committed crimes like theft. Imagine a boy being placed in a room by himself, and kept there day and night without being allowed to read or write for a period of a week.
– It is scandalous. I do not think that any member of either House would say that a cadet refusing to drill should be punished with solitary confinement. It would have been better to compel this lad to read than to prevent him from reading. Authorities in various parts of the world are challenging the wisdom of imprisoning as a means of reforming the adult criminal, and surely it is, to say the least, an abnormality to put into- solitary confinement boys, who, under the direction of their parents, refuse to drill. This is what Dr. James Devon, a medical officer of the Glasgow prison, says on the subject -
All sorts of systems have had their trial in dealing with the offender. It has always been recognised that it was necessary to remove him from the place where he had offended. He has been transported to other lands, there to begin a new life; but the conditions under which the operation was carried out were appalling. He has been placed in association with other offenders, and left, with, very little supervision, to become worse, or make others worse. He has been placed in solitary confinement, cut off from company of any sort; with the result of wrecking his mind as well as his body.
If solitary confinement is likely to wreck the mind as well as the body of an adult, what is it not likely to do to a boy of sixteen ? Let me read a passage from The Secrets of the Prison House, by Arthur Griffith-
This failure of imprisonment, both as a reformatory and deterring agent, has Icd to two very opposite results. One is a growing disinclination to use it; the other an earnest wish to prolong its infliction. The first is shown in recent legislation with regard to first offenders, which, empowers Courts to withhold sentence, or excuse from punishment in cases where an accused person is- guilty of no very heinous offence, and has never lapsed before..
A magistrate or Judge will hesitate before sending a man to prison for a first offence,, and I doubt whether any Judge has of late ordered solitary confinement for persons convicted of. theft. I. do not think that there is any law providing for the solitary confinement of cadets. I do not think that such a law would be passed by Parliament, but if such a law exists, it is a bad one, and like other bad laws should be repealed or ignored.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- When my speech was interrupted by the operation of the Standing Orders, I was referring to the opportunities for wrongdoing given by the electoral law. No doubt both parties are of the opinion that a contest at the polls should be fought under the fairest conditions, neither side having any special advantage. But the Electoral Act does not provide for that. There are political enthusiasts who are prepared to take risks for the advantage of their side, and the absentee voting provisions give them many opportunities. A. man named John William Jones,, residing at Broken Hill, might, after getting enrolled for the Barrier, visit Adelaide for a holiday, and stay there for some time. While at Adelaide he might get himself enrolled again as John WalterJones. Then, on election day ‘he could vote in his subdivision at the Barrier as J ohn William Jones, and at another polling booth, as an absent voter, as John Walter Jones, and he would run only the very slightest risk of detection.
– Does that sort of thing happen?
– As men of the world, we know that it happens. Who could discover such frauds?
– Impose a severe penalty.
– What means is there of detecting offenders?
– How would the honorable member prevent such a fraud?
– By providing for electors’ rights,
– Has not fraud occurred in connexion with elections, even when electors’ rights have had to be produced 1
– A clever man can invariably defeat an Act of Parliament, but we should make it as difficult as possible.
– I have known a candidate to lock hundreds of electors’ rights in his safe after every election. They could be bought for 2s. 6d. each a few years ago. He was a wealthy man.
– No punishment would be too heavy for a man who would de that kind of thing. The Labour Government, which considered the postal voting provisions liable to fraud, and therefore took from the sick, the invalid, and infirm facilities for exercising the franchise, substituted for it absentee voting, which gives unlimited opportunities for fraud at practically no risk.
– Such a fraud could be committed only by a man going from one State to another. It could not be carried out within any one State, because all the claim cards are compared at the electoral office.
– It is impossible to compare the signatures on the hundreds of thousands of claim cards that are received, and just before an election there is no time to do it.
– Besides, the departmental officers are not handwriting experts.
– That is so. Under the present law, one adult one vote is a travesty, methods being made easy which will drag the fair name of adult suffrage into the mire. I hope that if the Liberal party gets back into power it will provide for electors’ rights.
– In Victoria, the Liberals abolished the electors’ rights system because of the corruption under it.
– So they did in New South Wales.
– Had they known what game you fellows would be up to, they would not have done so.
– In my division is the largest military manoeuvre area in New South Wales, that at Liverpool. To it are sent for the annual encampments boys of tender years, from fourteen to sixteen. Many of these boys are at liberty from 6 to 10 each night, and it occurred to me during a recent visit to Liverpool that provision should be made for a gymnasium and recreation hall at which they could spend their time. To allow young boys to wander about the streets with older lads until late at night is to court disaster. I should like the military authorities to make provision for the recreation of the lads at night on the Liverpool manoeuvre area.
– And on other manoeuvre areas.
– Yes; we wish to make our military system popular, but, as fathers, we know the risk that boys of tender years run under the present system. Places should be provided for their entertainment at night, where they will not be exposed to the temptation to which they may be subjected while wandering about the streets. This would be a step in the right direction, and would assist in making the movement more popular than it is. Another point to which I desire to refer relates to the expense involved in holding encampments. We have an encampment at Liverpool about once every eight weeks, and trainees coming from all parts of New South Wales. On each occasion all the utensils necessary for a camp are transhipped at Darling Harbor, brought by train to Liverpool, and then conveyed to the encampment. As soon as a camp is over it is carted back to Liverpool, sent by train to Darling Harbor, and then conveyed to the Paddington Barracks. The depreciation which must take place, and the expense thus incurred, would be avoided if the Department erected on the manoeuvre area a proper storehouse. The expenses of the Department are growing;, but this is one direction in which a reduction could be secured. The honorable member for Yarra has referred to the question of old-age pensions. I deeply regret we have not succeeded in our efforts to increase them. The failure to do so is certainly a reflection on the House. The late Labour Government had ample opportunity to increase the old-age pensions, inasmuch as they had a majority in both Houses for three years; but the Liberal party has not been in. the same favorable position. I unhesitatingly say, however, that Parliament has sadly neglected its duty to these, old people. During the last four yearsAustralia has experienced almost unprecedented prosperity; the cost of living has increased, and we should have given pensioners a little more to enable them. to buy thos© things which are so necessary to men and women who are approaching the eventide of life.
– Is the Treasurer favorable to that being done now?
– The honorable member for Cook prevented the increase being secured.
– No. The honorable member will find that the Treasurer is not in favour of an increase.
– I am not prepared to say what the Treasurer is in favour of j but I do not hesitate to express my own opinion on the subject. The question of increasing the old-age pension payments, owing to the obstruction methods of the Opposition, has been side-tracked. The ls. 5d. per day which the old people at present receive is wholly inadequate. It is hardly sufficient to buy them food, let alone to provide them with clothes, and to enable them to pay rent. Seeing that the Parliament before the last had no hesitation in raising the salaries of members, I think that Parliament has been oblivious of the interests of these old people. The cost of living has gone up, with the result that the purchasing power of the 10s. per week which pensioners are receiving has depreciated so that it is hardly sufficient to enable them to keep body and soul together. The proposal introduced by the Treasurer, in respect of inmates of institutions, that 8s. per week should be paid to the institution, and the remaining 2s. per week given to the pensioner concerned, was certainly a step in the right direction. There are three of these institutions in my electorate, and during the last election campaign several of these old people mentioned to me how much they felt the lack of a little pocket money which they could call their own. When the Treasurer brought forward his Bill it had my warmest support, as I recognised at once that it would meet the wishes of these pensioners, and that it was a step in the right direction, inasmuch as it would place the inmates of such institutions in the position of paying guests instead of being almost considered recipients of charity. The officials as a rule treat them kindly and well, but I am afraid that among a large number there may be one official who is not as tactful as he might be in dealing with the old people, and that might make them feel their position. Under the new arrangement they would have a sense of independence. They know that their maintenance is being paid for, and they have the privilege of having a couple of shillings per week with which to purchase little extras that they require. I regret that the condition of this Parliament did not permit us to go further, so that we could enable these old people to be provided with a few more of the things they require, because I feel that we ought to do all that we can to make their remaining days happy and contented, and I hope that when the new Parliament assembles provision will be made on the Estimates to this end. There is only one other matter to which I desire to refer. If we come back from the next general election with the condition of parties unaltered from the stand-point of numerical strength, I consider that this Parliament will have seriously to take into consideration a different system of government. Such an idea is in the minds of the people outside. We cannot turn a deaf ear to expressions of public opinion. The people themselves are beginning to grow weary of the continual fighting that goes on under the party system. They will not be satisfied to see the country’s money wasted by party warfare, and if the next Parliament is in no better position than is the present, we shall have seriously to consider the introduction of some other system of government whereby the public interests will be better served.
.- In the half hour which is allotted to me under the Standing Orders I wish to refer to the maladministration of the Electoral Act by the present Government ; to their manipulation of the electoral machinery, and to the attempt which is now being made to manipulate it in favour of their own party.
It will be remembered that after the elections last year the Fusion Government said that there had been wholesale duplicate voting throughout Australia, and that that duplicate voting was attributable to supporters of the Labour party.
– Is it in order for the honorable member to say that the Government have deliberately manipulated the electoral machinery to benefit their own party?
– I take it that the honorable member for Cook did not intend to use the word “ manipulate” in a sense that is not permitted under the Standing Orders.
– In what sense did the honorable member use it?
– In the sense of maladministration - of doing things which they ought not to do.
– That is a suggestion that they got round the Act.
– The honorable member can take it as he pleases.
– Why not say straight out what is meant?
– I say that the Government are improperly manipulating the Electoral Act. Is that not straight enough ?
– The honorable member is out of order in using the word “ improperly.”
– Then I shall state what the Government are doing, leaving it to honorable members to apply to it the word that will fitly describe it.
– Does the honorable member know that the Government had no control over the Electoral Officer?
– I shall prove later on, out of the mouth of the present Attorney-General, that that is only a “gag,”andthatwhenitsuitstheGo- vernment to do something with the Electoral Act they find that they have all the power to do what they want.
I wish to bring back honorable members opposite to the position they occupied a few months ago, when they had a great deal to say about the alleged wholesale duplicate voting, but concerning which they are now silent.
Senator McColl, who is Vice President of the Executive Council, and holds, therefore, an official position in the present Government, was reported in the Argus of 21st July, 1913, as saying -
There never was in the history of Australian elections such a campaign as the last.
Then he proceeded -
The worst of it was that a lot of people voted twice. They had even resurrected the dead to vote…..
Further on he said -
He was certain that with clean rolls, fair play, and decent weather, the Liberals would all be elected next time.
That is an imputation that there was wrong-doing on the part of Labour supporters at the last general election.
On the same day Mr. Arthur Robinson, M.L.C. of Victoria, speaking at the annual meeting of the Australian Women’s National League, said -
The Cook Ministry was holding a thorough examination of the electoral rolls, and of the conduct of the last election. The examination would show that the party which had been prating about the necessity of having only one vote for one person had been indulging in the practice of one person a good many votes, so long as that person belonged to the Labour party.
Then, on page 140 of Hansard, for 1913, the Prime Minister said -
But, at any rate, it has shown that there are nearly 6,000 cases of apparent duplicate voting.
– Apparent ?
– There was nothing said about “apparent” in Senator McColl’s statement, and last year we heard nothing about “ apparent “ duplicate voting. We were told that there were thousands of cases, and the Prime Minister, when at last pinned down, used the word “ apparent.”
The present Government set out to make a secret inquiry. They held a Cabinet meeting, and they proposed to have an investigation of the records in the offices of the Returning Officers. An outcry was made in this House that that was a most unwarrantable procedure, and at last the Government reluctantly agreed that the scrutineers of the different candidates should be entitled to attend when this investigation took place. It is extremely lucky for the Labour party and the country that those scrutineers were present. The scrutineer who attended the inquiry in my own electorate sat throughout the investigation, which lasted for some days, and at the conclusion handed to me, verified by the Returning Officer for the district, a list of names of persons who, according to the Government, had voted twice. Ministers stated that on account of people voting twice many Labour members had been returned, and they were going to set the law in force against such offenders.
I have a list of forty-six persons who are supposed to have voted twice, and of that number forty-one are well known Liberal supporters.
– How do you know that?
– I intend to read the names, and put them in Hansard, so that the people will know that of the forty-six persons whom the Government charge with having voted twice, fortyone are their own supporters.
– How do you violate the secrecy of the ballot!
– The honorable member for Henty is out of order.
– I know I am, but I want an answer to that question.
– Order ! The honorable member for Henty must obey the order of the Chair.
– As I have already stated, at the request of the Labour party, scrutineers were allowed to be present at the investigation.
– But how do you know whether those people voted Liberal or Labour ?
– They were “ barracking “ throughout the district. The honorable member knows the people who take political action in his own electorate, and the people on this list are all well-known people in the district. This list has been verified by the Returning Officer, and it gives the name of the subdivision, the number and name of the voter, and the booth at which the votes were recorded.
– Were they duplications in voting?
– They were said to be duplications. The Fusionists appear to be running away from their charge. I do not say that there was duplicate voting, but the Government which the honorable member supports said that there was.
I have too much respect for those Liberal voters in the Cook electorate to believe that these are cases of duplicate voting.
The point I wish to make is that the Government said that these were instances of duplicate voting, that such things had taken place throughout the country, and that the law was to be put in operation against the offenders. But when the Government found out that so many of the supposed offenders were their own supporters, nothing further was heard about prosecutions. We are told now that the Government are not in charge of the administration of the Act; that the administration is passed over to an independent officer, and that Ministers have nothing to do with prosecutions under the law. Yet the Government instituted an inquiry, and they know perfectly well that they are responsible for the law being carried out. The action of the Government in sheltering themselves behind an official, and saying, “It is the Electoral Officer who is responsible,” is one of the most miserable exhibitions of spineless incapacity to administer the law that any one could imagine.
– How many prosecutions did your Government initiate?
– In the election before the last there were a number of offences, and the Fisher Government instituted inquiries and initiated prosecutions. When the present Government came into office they refused to continue the actions against wealthy offenders. The honorable member ought to be careful in interjecting.
– We know about thecase of one well-meaning enthusiast.
– How does the honorable member know that these cases of alleged duplicate voting do not represent a good Labour man voting, perhaps, six times in the names of Liberal voters.
– The honorable member is taking up my time, and is putting an interjection which he knows in his heart is a misrepresentation. He is running away from the charge of duplicate voting. I refuse to allow the honorable member to waste my time. He may speak after I have finished if he has the courage to do so.
– Not in your footsteps.
– The honorable member for New England must not persist in interjecting, particularly when the honorable member who has the floor objects to such interjections.
– I have made an attempt during this session to find out if the Government are prepared to administer the law, and on the 11th June I asked this question -
– After the last election allegations were made by members of the Government as to 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 ?
– 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 own dereliction of duty.
The Government instituted the inquiry, and, apparently, found out who had violated the law, and now, when called upon to put the law into motion, they say it is on an officer who is in charge of the Department, and that they - Ministers - are not charged with the carrying out of the law. They say, “Your party put the administration of the law into the hands of the Electoral Officer, and no one can interfere.” In that respect the law is the same as it was in every other Electoral Act which has been carried through this Parliament.
Electoral Acts were carried in 1902, 1905, 1906, 1909, and 1911. In every Act passed by the Commonwealth Parliament provision has been made for appointing a Chief Electoral Officer, whose duties have always been the same as they are to-day. There is no difference in respect of the duties of Chief Electoral Officer between the Act of 1911 passed by the Labour Government and the preceding Acts passed by Liberal Administrations. Therefore we see that the position is not as the Prime Minister has stated it to be.
In order to prove that the Prime Minister was misrepresenting the matter when he said that the Government had no power to see that the law was carried out, and that he was not telling the truth, I shall quote what the Attorney-General said last year. On page 31 of last session’s Hansard there appears the following
– I do not wish to interrogate the Attorney-General more than can be avoided, but I should like to ask him whether he or the Government issued the regulation spoken of, and which we have not yet seen ? Was it issued on his own initiation as AttorneyGeneral, or was it issued on the initiation of the Minister of Home Affairs, or any other authority ?
– The regulation was issued on the authority of the Cabinet after full consideration of the whole matter.
This was in regard to an inquiry into cases of duplicate voting. We see from these words of the Attorney-General that the Cabinet, and not this outside officer, is responsible for the administration of the law. When it was a matter of inquiring into cases of duplicate voting, the Cabinet was the party responsible, but after inquiries have been made, and a certain number of persons have been shown, according to the other side, to have voted twice, we are told that the responsibility is on the Chief Electoral Officer, and not on the Cabinet.
Later on, we come to another statement by the Attorney-General, reported on page 913 of the Hansard of last session. Speaking on the 5th September, 1913, the Attorney-General said -
Under the electoral law, there arc certain offences, and that law is administered by the Minister of Home Affairs, just as Customs prosecutions are initiated or carried on by the Minister of Trade and Customs. The responsibility for initiating or carrying on a prosecution under the electoral law is a matter for the Department of Home Affairs, and rests with the Minister of Home Affairs.
Thus we have the Prime Minister on one side, and the Attorney-General on the other contradicting each other. To-day, they sit on the Treasury bench, in front of me, silent as statues while I quote their words, those of the Attorney-General proving that the Prime Minister has misled the House in stating that the responsibility for administering the electoral law is not on the Government.
I do not believe that these are cases of duplicate voting. When a man named Smith goes into a polling booth among a crowd of electors the officer at the table may tick off the wrong Smith from the number of Smiths on the roll. The right Smith, whose name has been ticked off, goes to vote as an absent voter in another booth. He makes a declaration and records his vote. Thus there is an apparent duplicate vote. That out of the 30,000 votes recorded in my electorate there were only forty-six cases of what appeared like duplicate voting is a record which is very creditable to the officers who carried out the election.
I do not think, as I have said, that these were duplicate votes, but when the Government said that there was wholesale wrong-doing under the Electoral Act we were entitled to look to them to carry the matter to a conclusion, and to show the country fairly and squarely whether, in the end, this was found to be the state of affairs. Ministers have taken the matter to a certain point, but there they have dropped it, and not in a straightforward and manly way. The Prime Minister does not stand up boldly and say, “ We charged a number of persons with wrong-doing. The evidence does not confirm it, and we therefore withdraw it.” He shelters himself behind the Elec,toral Office, and says the administration of the Act is in the hands of the Chief Electoral Officer, and, therefore, Ministers have nothing to do with it. Ministers have run away from the charge they made, and do not propose to do justice even to their own supporters, whom I have quoted to show that they do not believe that these people were guilty of any wrong-doing under the electoral law.
There are some matters that look like manipulation of the electoral machinery by the Government, but I have not time to deal with them, and I shall have to wait a further opportunity to put them before the Committee. However, before I sit down I wish to make a remark in connexion with a portion of the speech of the honorable member for Nepean. The honorable member found fault with the present system of enrolment, and the cure that he suggested was electors’ rights. To justify his complaint against the present system of enrolment, he took a hypothetical case, one of the most impossible one could conceive. He dealt with the case of a man becoming enrolled in two States. He took the case of a man living in Broken Hill, and being enrolled there as William Jones, and then going to Adelaide, and being enrolled in South Australia as William Henry Jones, and thus having a vote in two States. If that is all the wrong that can be shown under the present Act, I hope we shall always have a measure that will work so well.
– The same thing could apply in any one State.
– No; not with the card system of enrolment. Every elector must sign a card, and every card signed by an elector goes to the Central Office, where a staff compares the signatures. The honorable member for Nepean no doubt, as a business man, employs the card system, and understands it thoroughly. He will therefore know that the only way in which that system can be wrong is when the officers in the Electoral Department refuse to do their duty. In every case where two signatures are alike it is only necessary for the two cards upon which those signatures appear to be taken out for careful scrutiny, and if it is shown on inquiry that they are signed by the same person the name will be struck off the roll. He says he wants “electors’ rights” restored. Heaven save us from the manipulation carried on under that rotten system.
Sitting suspended from 6.25 to 8 p.m..
– I should like to reply to one or two of the remarks that fell from the honorable member for Cook regarding the alleged maladministration of the Electoral Act by the Government. The charge made is that the Government are proposing to amend the regulations under the Act in order to assist electors who are favorable to them and their policy; and in support of that charge the honorable member told us that, in his own electorate at the last election, there were certains duplications which were all of the names of Liberals. Under the Electoral Act and regulations, however, which were administered by the Labour party for -three years and more, there is nothing whateverto prevent a person voting at every booth in a subdivision in the name of a known Liberal supporter. It will be seen, therefore, that it does not follow that there hasbeen duplicate voting on the part of Liberals.
– How is it that persons who do this have never been caught?
– The honorable member knows that it is the most difficult thing in the world to sheet such a charge home.
– It is - when there isno ground for the charge!
– The honorable member for Cook insinuated by his remarks that Liberals had voted more than once.
– On the contrary, thehonorable member for Cook said he did not think there had been duplicate voting, but that, if there had been, it appeared tohave been by Liberals.
– Any person reading the Hansard report of the honorable member’s remarks would infer that this practice had been indulged in by Liberals, though we know that Laboursupporters, if they wished, could vote inthe name of Liberals, and throw discredit on the latter.
– That applies to both sides.
– The honorable member was not in the House when the honorable member for Cook spoke, and therefore may not know the position-
Mi1. Archibald. - I know that the honorable member is talking a lot of rubbish.
– If my remarks may be described as “ rubbish,” I can certainly apply the same term to the remarksof the honorable member for Cook.
I should like honorable members opposite to be consistent in their attitude on the question of a double dissolution. All their speeches would lead the country to believe that they are anxious for a general election; but we all remember the dejection on their faces when the death-knell was sounded a few days ago. We also know
Low certain members of the Labour parly grovelled to some of their colleagues to put, off the evil day; but when the test Bill had been thrown out by the Senate, and the shock came, all that was left for them to do was to lead the public to think that they were pleased at the prospect before them. The granting of Supply is urgent and important in view of the fact that the public servants have to be paid, and the works of the country carried on.
– Then why “ stick up “ the Supply Bill?
– I intend to detain the Committee only a few moments, whereas most of the speakers opposite have occupied the full time allowed. It has been shown during the past fortnight that the earnest wish of the Opposition is to put off the evil day as long as possible - to be saved from their friends, the electors, and to draw their emoluments to the very last day. If they are consistent, however, they will allow this debate to be closed and Supply granted, so that the public servants may receive their salaries, and the public works be carried on.
– T - The Government are not going on with any public works; orders have gone out to stop them until after the 30th June.
– That statement is not corroct>
– The honorable member for Darwin has been so long out of office that, probably, he has forgotten the procedure, and also the fact that after the 30th June there is no money provided. The electors, who are masters of the situation, ought to be afforded the earliest opportunity to show whether they are satisfied with the administration, rot only of the Electoral Act, but of all the Departments, by the present Government.
.- It is rather late in the day to trouble ourselves with matters of policy so fat- as this Parliament is concerned, seeing that we have to go to the country. T. am very much concerned, however, to note that the promise given by the Prime Minister a l ittle time back, that this was to be a square stand-up fight in every respect, is, apparently, not to be carried out. If there is anything in a paragraph which appeared in the Argus of 13th June last, it seems to me that there is a determined effort-
– A - At corruption.
– I am not going to make a charge of that kind against the Government, but I do say that they are following a practice which will prevent a square stand-up fight between parties. The honorable member for Henty is very much disturbed because we have adverted and readverted to the question of the Electoral Act.
– It seems to me that honorable members opposite only desire time to stuff the rolls.
– The Electoral Act and the condition of the rolls are of the very highest importance at the present juncture.
– From the honorable member’s point of view, no doubt.
– If the honorable member says that it is not so from his point of view, he makes a useful admission.
– Every man whose name is not on the rolls ought to be fined £2.
– We have heard from the Prime Minister, with tiresome reiteration, that he is doing all he can to purge the rolls. What does that mean? It means getting names off the rolls. I do not suggest that the Prime Minister deliberately sets out to disfranchise people, but I more than suggest that he comes here with an utterly erroneous idea that a number of persons, whose names are on the rolls, improperly exercised the franchise at the last election. Notwithstanding all the investigations that have been made, not a scintilla of proof has been obtained in support of the charge.
– The honorable member is talking before the report of the Royal Commission is tabled.
– Let me read this significant passage from the Argus -
In any circumstances it is certain that the issue of the writs will follow very closely on the dissolution proclamation. The reason for this being that final purification of the rolls -
Save the markl may be immediately proceeded with. As no new names can be added after the writs have been issued, the supplementary rolls should be very small in every case. Although new names may not be listed, names may be struck off almost up till the last moment, and every effort will, of course, be put forward to remove all those which are shown to be wrongly in print.
That is, I submit, a very serious matter. If this does represent the intentions of the
– That is one possible consequence, but if that represents the intentions of the Government, it simply means that, after the rolls have been printed, there will be no opportunity to have placed on them names which have been wrongly omitted. If I could only get the Government to realize that it is infinitely more important that every person qualified to vote should be enrolled than that, in a few instances, names which are twice enrolled should be removed, some good service would be done. The repeated allegation of the Government that persons whose names have accidentally been enrolled twice will vote twice is absurd, and more than absurd, it is wicked - a scandalous slander on the electors of the country. For the Prime Minister to tell us continually that all his efforts, and those of his officers, are being directed to the purging of the rolls, the removal of names, is for him to show a poor conception of his duties as head of the Electoral Department. That honorable gentleman got the honorable member for Gippsland to question him about a certain circular, so that he might stigmatize the statements therein as a pack of lies. I therefore tender him this warning - that, if ample opportunity is not afforded to place on the rolls the names that have been improperly removed, and those which should have been enrolled that have been left off, I shall charge the Government with having deliberately obstructed enrolment to prevent a fair poll being taken. I make the statement now so that it may not be said that it was uttered outside by some one who had not the courage to make it here. The Act provides for a certain procedure in the removal of names from the rolls. It contemplates the making of a deposit of 5s. by every person who objects to any name. The Assistant Minister of Home Affairs said the other day that that provision has gone by the board. Nevertheless, it remains the law, and should be observed. But in practice any person may now object to a name without backing his objection with a deposit of 5s. or of 5d. He need simply hint to a policeman or registrar that a name should be challenged, and to the person whose name is mentioned will immediately be sent a notice, informing him that unless within twenty days he shows cause why his name should be retained it will be removed from the roll. Such notices are sometimes not received by the persons to whom they are sent, and are sometimes not understood when received. In some cases they cannot be read, and thus names come to be removed that should not be removed. Many instances have been given, and I have here a notice which was directed to a person who had lived continuously for twenty years in one house. Had not her friends explained the notice to her, her name would have been removed from the roll. We wish to prevent occurrences of that kind. We are more concerned with getting names on the rolls than with anything else, because we desire a square, straightout appeal to the people. Honorable members opposite have been very persistent in stating that the Labour party is opposed to postal voting, and that we have prevented the passing of a measure which would give facilities for the exercise of the franchise by persons who, without some provision for voting by post, cannot exercise it. But I shall not forget to impress on the electors this fact : that of the two Bills which were to be sent to the Senate .in order to secure their rejection, and thus obtain ground for advising the Governor-General to dissolve both Houses of the Parliament, only one was pressed, the Voting by Post Bill being dropped. It is the Liberal party that is responsible for the fact that some system of postal voting has not been provided this session. We submitted one amendment, and could have submitted others, believing that an understanding might be arrived at which would result in the adoption of a system of postal voting which would be acceptable to all parties. It is true that postal voting was abolished by the Labour party, but that was necessary to wipe out the vicious practices that the law, as it stood, permitted. We wiped the slate clean, and were prepared, pursuant to our policy of enfranchising every one who should be enfranchised, to support any reasonable system of postal voting, or other reasonable system of voting, which would assist the sick, and would prevent the abuses which occurred under the old postal voting system. We are not, and never shall be, prepared to accept the postalvoting system which the Fisher Government abolished, because we know too well the abuses to which it gave rise. I wish to draw the attention of Liberals to a company established in Melbourne just before the last referendum and election. It was named the Victorian Agency Company, composed of rich squatters, investors, lawyers, importers, and well-known supporters of the Liberal party, including some Liberal members.
– Can the honorable member give the name of any Liberal member who was a member of the company?
– The honorable member for Corangamite was a member of it, as were also the ex-members for Fawkner and Fremantle, Mr. Knox, of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, Mr. Barr Smith, of South Australia, and other good Liberal supporters and fighters.
– What harm did they do?
– If the honorable member will wait, I shall tell him. The primary, and, so far as I can ascertain, the only, object of the company was to establish, print, and publish a newspaper in Victoria or elsewhere; “ to carry on the business of newspaper proprietors, printers, publishers, and advertising agents.” All that company did was to print and publish a paper called Public Opinion, which was hawked round to election meetings, and elsewhere, and thrust under our noses as a vehicle of healthy, public opinion, particularly of Liberal opinion. A copy that I have here depicts Labour with a bludgeon about to knock down the “ free worker,” the “ producer,” the “ manufacturer,” the “ consumer,” and “ private enterprise.” The truth is that the company deliberately entered into a voluntary sequestration and failed to pay the men who printed its paper. It left them in the lurch. The Treasurer says that he does not think that Mr. Fairbairn would be a party to such a thing.
– Does not the honorable member know that the workers can recover their wages?
– If I knew that, I should know more than the secretary of the company. I ask the honorable member to listen to this letter, which was addressed to the shareholders -
Dear Sir or Madam,
I have to inform you that an extraordinary meeting of shareholders of the above company was convened for the purpose of passing a resolution to place the company into voluntary liquidation. At such meeting, however, a quorum sufficient to carry the resolution was not present, and the meeting was consequently adjourned for a period of seven days. Although every effort was made to obtain a quorum at the adjourned meeting, the necessary number of shareholders were not present at such meeting. It was decided by the shareholders, however, that the creditors be advised of the financial position of the company. I have therefore to inform you that the liabilities of the company amount to £718 15s., as per list herewith, and that the only asset is the sum of £80 which is to be received for the sale of the copyright of Public Opinion, book debts, contracts and goodwill of the company, and which offer the shareholders present at the meeting instructed the directors to accept. Unfortunately, this amount is insufficient to meet the liabilities to the preferential creditors, consequently there is no provision for the ordinary creditors. It was also resolved by a majority of the shareholders that unless the creditors desired to take action, the directors distribute the moneys in the hands of the company amongst the preferential creditors in proportion to the amounts of their debts, such distribution to be made at the expiration of fourteen days from this date.
I am, yours faithfully,
The honorable member will see that there was not much money with which to pay even preferential creditors, and let me remind him as a lawyer, since he appears to appeal to me as a fellow practitioner, that the men who printed this paper were not, and are not, preferential creditors. They have not received one penny of the £133 that is owing to them, and have themselves been driven into a condition of insolvency.
– It was a proprietary company. When a certain firm of solicitors wrote to it, to obtain payment for these men, pointing out that that should be the first consideration, it received a reply coolly stating that it was a mistake to suppose that Public Opinion was a political journal. The solicitors in question had said that it was a political journal, and that it was a matter of moral, if not legal, obligation that the men who had printed it should be paid before the company went into voluntary liquidation. I say deliberately that it was immoral and dishonest to leave these men unpaid, and that the action of the company reflects no credit on the Liberal party.
– What had the Liberal party to do with it?
– The paper belonged to the Liberal party. These were the representative men who fought the referenda and the Labour party. Public Opinion was published for the express purpose of fighting the Labour party and the referenda, and for that alone. The honorable member ought to know that. But no sooner were the referenda defeated than this newspaper company proceeded to go into- voluntary liquidation and the workmen were left in the lurch. It was not a political paper, we are told; yet here, in the copy which I present to the gaze of honorable members, will be seen a cartoon depicting Labour taking up a menacing attitude towards the poor weaklings of private enterprise, the manufacturer, the producer, and the squatter. Here is another political cartoon depicting the ex-Attorney-General, Mr. Hughes, in a perfect maelstrom, and with a diabolical look upon his face. Underneath it we have the statement, “ Mr. Hughes, Federal Attorney-General, runs wild and threatens prosecutions.” The frontispiece and leading article in every issue were directed entirely to political purposes, and to fighting the referenda. Here is yet another copy in which the principal cartoon depicts “ The last hope of Labour,” and talks of “ The Inglorious 31st.” Every issue was distinctly Liberal, and distinctly political in tone. The paper was printed solely for political purposes by representative Liberals.
– Does not the Victorian law provide that wages shall.be a first charge on the assets of a company?
– But this company had none - it had no machinery.
– The honorable member for Henty is the last man in the world to whom I should be expected to give cheap legal advice. I am prepared to concede that wages are a preferential claim, but where there is nothing to prefer what is the use of a preference? The Public Opinion proprietary in Victoria comprised the Hon. Edward Miller, the
Hon. E. E. Smith, Mr. George Fairbairn, M.P., Mr. J. C. Manifold, M.P., Mr. Merritt, M.L.C., Mr. James Riley- no relation to the honorable member for South Sydney - Mr. R. S. Whiting, a Western District squatter; Mr. A. H. Sargood, importer; Mr. James Grice, importer, and Mr. Casey, of Broken Hill interests. In South Australia it consisted of Mr. T. E. Barr Smith, Mr. Charles H. Angas, Mr. E. H. Bakewell, and Mr. T. Brown, President of the Pastoralists’ Union ; whilst in New South Wales it consisted of Mr. E. W. Knox, General Secretary of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company; Mr. G. R. Jackson, and Mr. Geoffrey Kiddle, of Walbundrie. The honorable member for Echuca unwisely, from his own point of view, dragged out of me certain names. The Treasurer said that he did not think Mr. George Fairbairn would be a party to a wrong, and I am prepared at once to say that I do not think he would be a deliberateparty to the non-payment of these men, nor would Mr. Manifold, who, I understand, came into the company late on in its history. I was asked to give certain names and I gave them as those of shareholders in the company. They did not, perhaps, appreciate the wrong that was done in connexion with this company. I have no desire to make any charge against them.
– There must be some mistake about Mr. Barr Smith. He is one of the most generous men in South Australia.
– “ So are we all, all honorable men.” But the fact remains that these were shareholders of the company. They acted quite within the law. They were under no legal obligation to see that these men were paid. But since they were engaged upon a political fight the honorable course for them to pursue was to see that the working men who were employed in preparing the political instrument which they used in the fight were paid for their labour. It will be derogatory to public life as well as to private dealings amongst men if it is possible to form a company with a capital of £10,000 for election purposes, and, as soon as the election is over, to wind-up that company, leaving unpaid those who have worked for it. It is a dishonest, dishonorable course of action, and I protest against it. It is grossly unfair te persons who enter in good faith into contracts with companies of the kind.
– Was it a limited liability company?
– Yes, it has no liability so far as these gentlemen are concerned.
– They have paid up the full amount of their shares?
– I have only to say that they got their value out of the publication of this paper, and they should have paid for it.
.- I am rather surprised that the honorable member for Batman should have occupied so much time in bringing forward an old grievance of this kind with the object of placing upon the records something which he thinks will besmirch the character of men who we know full well have for a long time held honorable reputations in this country. I know nothing of the merits of the case, but I believe that before the debate is over it will be put before us in its proper aspect. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said last night that there was no necessity for a double dissolution, and that the Opposition would have assisted the Government had it endeavoured to bring forward legislation for the well-being of the Commonwealth. One of the first actions of the present Administration was to bring forward an amending Electoral Bill, and I defy any one who has had experience of our present Electoral Act to say that it does not need to be amended almost from beginning to end. I reiterate what I said last year, that from the first section to the last it opens the door to fraud and impersonation.
– On what authority does the honorable member make that statement ?
– I base it on my own experience, and the evidence which has been given before the Commission of which the honorable member is a member.
– I shall certainly see that the honorable member is called upon to appear before the Commission to prove what he says.
– I shall be pleased to tell my honorable friend as a member of the Commission what I am telling him now in the House. If he comprehends the scope of the Act he must recognise that it opens the door to fraud more particularly in regard to the method of enrolment. I hope that the Electoral Department will insist in respect of the claim cards that are now being received that every elector who desires to be enrolled shall give his full name, address, and occupation.
– That is being insisted on now, and rightly so.
– In Geraldton recently - I am dealing with the State law - some 100 applications for enrolment were received. The only address given was that of “ Geraldton,” and I understand that the Crown Solicitor held that to be a sufficient address. The same thing might be done in connexion with the Commonwealth rolls.. I desire that the Department shall insist upon the full address and occupation of the applicant and the witness being given so that when applications are investigated it will be possible to take proceedings against, not only the applicant, but the witness in any case of wrong doing. Mr. Knibbs told us that the rolls used at thelast election contained 180,000 names, more than there were adults in the Commonwealth. That surely was .sufficient to make us consider whether an amendment of the Act was not necessary. The Government, as I have said, introduced an Amending Bill, but the Opposition would not even allow us to take it into Committee, although the AttorneyGeneral appealed to them to assist us in framing a sound electoral law. From beginning to end of our consideration of the Bill there was nothing but obstruction on the part of the Opposition, and werealized that if we desired to carry useful legislation the only course was to go back to our masters, the people, and to ask them to unravel the tangle they had created. I wish to impress upon the Government the advisableness of requiring the Inter-State Commission to visit, the other States, and particularly Western Australia, before they make any report on the Tariff. Western Australia, is a country of magnificent distances, producing wool, wheat, meat, and fruit. Many of those on the land have to go a. long way back, and the expenses of production are exceedingly high. They wish to put their case before the Commission, for under present conditions the cost of food supplies is high, and the duties upon the implements they require constitute a heavy tax upon those who have to go intothe world’s market to sell their produce..
– I thought the honorable member was a Protectionist.
– At the proper time I am prepared to explain my policy on this question. The producers of Western Australia desire to be given an opportunity to state their case to the Inter-State Commission before it reports to Parliament. In regard to the finances, I was surprised that the honorable member for Kennedy, when speaking the other evening, seemed to be very sore indeed because the Treasurer had stated that it was estimated that the surplus at the end of the year would be £800,000. The honorable member was insistent on the fact being explained to the public that the difference between the receipts and expenditure represented a deficit of £1,800,000. When the Estimates were submitted last year it was realized that the expenditure would be very much greater than the revenue, and it was undoubtedly proved here that the draft Estimates approved by exMinisters showed an expenditure of some millions more than the Treasurer estimated to the Committee.
– Where do you find that proof?
– From the statements given to the House and the draft Estimates signed and approved by some ex-Ministers. I am pleased that the expenditure this year has not been so great as had been anticipated. When we realize the enormous additions to the revenue received by the Government during the past three years, one can hardly wonder at the extravagant financial orgy which was indulged in. In regard to the Estimates submitted last year, I fail to see that the present Treasurer made any great departure from the method of estimating adopted by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Treasurer. For the year 1911-12 the then Treasurer estimated to receive a revenue of £19,550,000; he estimated his expenditure to be £21,227,000, and he was going to expend the whole of the surplus of £1,712,000 which had accumulated prior to that date. The honorable member did not expend all that he estimated, and his revenue was greater than he had anticipated, with the result that the year closed with a surplus of £2,261,000. In the following year, 1912-13, the honorable member for Wide
Bay estimated a revenue of £20,442,000, and the Committee was asked to agree to an estimated expenditure of £22,683,000. So that the honorable gentleman intended to expend, not only the whole of the estimated revenue of £20,442,000, as well as the surplus of £2,261,000, ‘ but he also borrowed £2,100,000, which meant that he obtained approval to spend in 1912-13 £4,360,000 more than the estimated revenue for the year. I do not know what the expenditure would have been had the same Government continued in power, but I do fail to understand the policy of the Leader of the Opposition after hearing him state the other night that he objected to loan moneys being expended on the naval bases and similar works. In the face of that statement, I cannot understand how he induced Parliament to agree to the borrowing of money for the building of the Commonwealth offices in London.
– Is not that a good 9.ss61* ^
– Of course it is, and so are the Naval Bases.
– Where is the asset in the Naval Bases?
– In addition to that expenditure of £2,100,000 from loan moneys on the Commonwealth offices and other works, there was £870,000 for the purchase of the Cockatoo Island Dock, and they treated it as a transferred property.
– Is that not a good asset?
– I do not know that it is, after the reports that I have read lately.
– You are no judge.
– I have not the wisdom of the honorable member opposite, but I prefer to accept the reports which have come from experts who have some knowledge of the subject.
– They could realize the purchase money to-day if they were to sell the property.
– Then, in view of the reports which have been published, I think it would be a good thing for the Government to get rid of the dock.
– Where is the dock you constructed at Fremantle out of loan money ?
– It was never constructed; it was abandoned. The point I am trying to make is that in 1912-13 the Labour Administration were willing to spend £4,360,000 more than their revenue, and to that must be added the £870,000 for the purchase of the Cockatoo Island Dock, or a total of over £5,000,000 of expenditure in excess of the revenue. We must realize that there are many recurring items on the Estimates which must increase from year to year. There are the old-age pensions, which I hope we will be able to increase, but which, in consequence of the natural increase of population and of our people becoming older, must increase in number, with the inevitable result that next year, and in each succeeding year, a greater amount must be placed on the Estimates. The same argument applies to the maternity allowance and the defence scheme. As the cadets are drafted into the Forces and our warships are manned, there must be in the next few years a far greater expenditure than there has been in the past.
– Do you not know that the Attorney-General referred to the maternity allowance as a waste of public money? I understand that the Government are going to do away with that.
– I fail to understand what the honorable member understands. The honorable member for Kennedy was very insistent that the Treasurer should state how he was going to make good all this expenditure, and whether he was going to propose increased taxation. If the money required for big permanent works, such as the Federal Capital, which should be a charge on posterity, and the Naval Bases and other big defence expenditure is to be found from revenue there must be increased taxation to enable us to meet our expenses,
– Do you want your children to pay your debts?
– Probably the honorable member and I might get out of our debts, but the Commonwealth will be compelled to pay its debts. Honorable members opposite practically admitted the truth of my argument, seeing that in the 1912-13 Estimates they proposed to spend £5,000,000 more than their revenue. If only the year before last it was a proper thing to spend £5,000,000 more than the revenue, how will honorable members foot the bill in future, having regard to the increasing cost of administration, unless we are going to have rigid economy, and construct such permanent works as I have described from loan money? If, on the other hand, we are going to adopt the policy of honorable members opposite, there must be increased taxation to enable the Treasurer to pay his way. If honorable members opposite are emphatic on that point, and want it to be clearly understood that we are to have increased taxation so as to pay for all these things, the sooner the public know their policy the better.
– What is your policy in regard to loan moneys?
– My policy is to use borrowed money for all permanent works, and especially for the Federal Capital. If we are going to build a great city that will be a credit to posterity, and should ultimately bring in a good revenue, why on earth cannot we build it from loan moneys with a reasonable sinking fund attached, so that within fifty or sixty years the whole of the loan will be paid off ? Why should we be taxed for all these works?
– You are going to use the city, are you not ?
– Well, I do not know, but I feel confident that honorable members opposite, if they return to power, and find that they have not sufficient funds available from revenue, will introduce a Loan Bill to cover the expenditure on the Commonwealth offices in London, the Federal Capital, the Perth Post Office and works of that description. They must have their tongues in their cheek, and must be trying to deceive the people, when they say they will not agree to the use of loan moneys in the construction of such works. I have just a few words to say in regard to the postal administration. I know that the Postmaster-General has endeavoured to liberalize the conditions governing the granting of telephone services to outback districts, so far as the regulations will allow ; but I do contend that when a State Government spends hundreds of thousands of pounds in constructing a railway, building roads and establishing water supplies for the purpose of permanently opening up the country, the Commonwealth is justified in constructing telephone lines along those railways, and doing something to help the development of the country, without insisting upon all the conditionsand restrictions that are enforced at the present time. I believe that such a policy can be adopted. As I remarked before, Western Australia is a State of enormous distances, and in many districts where railways have been constructed the population is very small and scattered.
– Do you think the railway we are building to Western Australia will ever pay?
– I do not know. That depends on the development of the whole of the country. Judging from the reports I have received, that railway should be a paying proposition in about ten years from the date of its completion. But from the progress that has been made to date, it is very difficult to say when the line will be completed. In connexion with the building of spur lines in Western Australia, through districts where there was very little population, I notice that, although those lines do not actually pay at once, the net result to the whole system is such that the railways as a whole pay handsomely. Therefore, I commend to the consideration of the Government a similar system of railway construction for the development of the Northern Territory. Cheap lines could be constructed on a narrow gauge, and they could be standardized when the development, population, and traffic warranted. The Western Australian experience is that cheap rail-, way lines are a wonderful aid in developing the country. Reverting to the Postal Department, I think that most of the country members on both sides of the House would heartily concur in some amendment of the regulations which would enable the Postmaster- General, in dealing with the granting of telephone facilities, to give to the people along those spur lines some of the conveniences which are given to the people in the cities.
– H - Hear, hear!
– Those people certainly deserve consideration, and we know that the people in the cities cannot claim that they have been neglected, whilst, on the other hand, it can be claimed that in many instances the people in the country arc neglected.
– T - That is too true.
– When we consider that the export trade of Australia is something like £79,000,000, and that, with the exception of a few thousand pounds, the whole of that trade is the outcome of the development of land, and the production of wool, wheat, metals, and other primary products, greater- consideration- should be given to those who are trying to develop and pioneer the primary industries of the Commonwealth. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will give full consideration to the request I have made, and that that request will be indorsed by honorable members on both sides of the House-.
.- I was interested in the references of the honorable member for Dampier to the possibilities of fraud under the present Electoral Act.. If I remember correctly, the honorable member spoke of the door being open to fraud, and the inference certainly was that fraud was practised during the last election. I maintain that if any honorable member knows of an instance of fraud being perpetrated under the Electoral Act it is his boun-den duty to go before the Electoral Commission that is now taking evidence, and give proof of it. When we find honorable members talking about fraud or the possibility of fraud during the recent elections, I would remind them that the amending Electoral Bill of last session provided for something infinitely worse by which the secrecy of the ballot was likely to be destroyed. The proposal of the Government was that the elector should sign the butt of the ballot-paper, and that the butt and ballot-paper were to bear corresponding numbers by which, as willbe readily understood, it would be easy to trace the elector’s vote, and it ill becomes any honorable member supporting the Ministry to make such references to the Electoral Act as the honorable member for Dampier has made when he is supporting a Government that introduced legislation that would destroy the secrecy of the ballot. I support the honorable member for Dampier in his request that the Inter-State Commission should visit Western Australia. I frankly acknowledge that we have not in that State as. many industries firmly established as in the Eastern portion of Australia. Prior to Federation there were a number of industries in Western Australia, but the introduction of the Federal system and the abolition of Inter-State duties caused a great slump in those industries.
Now, however, I am glad to say the temporary depression is being overcome, and there are many manufactures in the State, and it would be a good move on the part of the Inter-State Commission to visit Western Australia prior to presenting their report. We have not any definite promise of an interim report from that Commission. The Minister of Trade and Customs made some reference the other day to amendments of the Tariff. Apparently his promise was on all-fours with the usual policy of the present Government. They have no intention of attempting to amend the Tariff “now,” or prior to the double dissolution, which has been granted conditionally by the Governor-General; but at some time in the far distant future they will do it. I believe in what is known as the new Protection, but if under the existing Constitution it is not possible for us to legislate along those lines, I believe that for a new country such as Australia a protective Tariff is desirable. Therefore, it is in the best interests of the country that steps should be taken as early as possible to revise and amend the Tariff in order that it may be more protective. I have just touched on one or two matters mentioned by the honorable member for Dampier in order to connect my remarks with Iris speech. I wish now to say a word or two about the present situation, To refuse to produce the correspondence that passed between the Government and the Governor-General is a peculiar attitude for Ministers to adopt. I cannot understand why the correspondence should be regarded as confidential. The stand I take is that as the community in general will be called upon to pay for the election, there is no reason why they should not be acquainted with the full position, and if the Government have nothing to hide, which is the inference to be drawn from the answers given by the Prime Minister to the Leader of the Opposition, why do not Ministers come forward and lay that correspondence on the table of the House, in order that the country may be enabled to come to a decision? In my opinion, the existing dead-lock, or so-called dead-lock, between the two Houses has been carefully engineered and manufactured by the Government. They have made no attempt to bring forward legislation necessary for the well-being and good government of Australia, but they have sought from the time of their taking office to bring about the present situation, and, having been successful in their desire, they are now somewhat jubilant.
– Do you think that they are really jubilant?
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, and one or two others, seem not to be too anxious to go before their constituents, and there may also be one or two on this side who are not too anxious.
– I - I am not anxious.
– So far there does not appear to be any one ready to oppose the honorable member. He is likely to have a walk-over.
– B - But it is the waste of boodle that I object to.
– When this Parliament was first summoned there were all sorts of wild and absurd charges made by all and sundry concerning the last elections. They were supposed to have been terribly corrupt, and it was said that every evil possible had been indulged in. The Electoral Commission has now been sitting for some considerable time, and, so far as I have been able to read in the daily press, nothing of a particularly startling nature has been disclosed. In fact, those who have been most insistent in regard to electoral fraud have been most backward in going before that Commission and proving their charges. This fact will serve to show the people of Australia that, after all, there was not much in the bogy raised after the last election.
– It was not a bogy; it was a campaign of slander.
– Yes, from the Prime Minister down. In regard to the proposed regulation dealing with absentee voting, I cannot see much to cavil at in the matter of giving local voters the preference ; but I wish it to be clearly understood that I think the Electoral Department should make ample provision in the larger centres for absent voters at separate tables from those exercising their franchise in the ordinary way. If that is done, if a fair opportunity is given to the local voter, and also to the man who votes under the absentee regulations, there will be little cause for complaint so far as the working of the absentee voting system is concerned. I believe that it is a better system under normal conditions than the postal voting system. To have the rolls ready as ‘ early as possible is essential. The Prime Minister does not desire that either side should have any advantage. He wishes us all to go to the country, and have a fair opportunity of explaining our views, and he seeks to have the election conducted under the best conditions. We all agree with those sentiments, but we wish to make sure that the rolls will be in a proper state. Unquestionably a period of three weeks or a month is essential between the issue of the rolls and the date on which the writs are issued, in order that people may make sure that their names are on the rolls, or may send in claim cards if their names are not on the rolls. The honorable member for Nepean made reference this afternoon to the old-age pensions. It was quite refreshing to hear some of the sentiments to which he gave expression. We are glad to know that honorable members on both aides of the Chamber are anxious to improve the lot of those who are in their old age, and who, through force of circumstances over which sometimes they have had no control, are compelled to apply for the old-age pension. I was struck by one remark to the effect that honorable members on this side of the chamber had attempted to block any opportunity being given for considering the increase in the pension from 10s. a week to 12s. 6d., moved for last session by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. I find, on referring to Hansard, that, after two or three members had spoken on the motion the Treasurer was responsible for the adjournment of the debate, since when we have heard nothing about the matter except by way of questions. On the 29th May of this year the honorable member for Eden-Monaro asked the Treasurer what was being done in regard to this increase, and the reply was that consideration would be given to it when arranging the Estimates for the financial year 1914- 15. Therefore, honorable members will see that the responsibility for delay in this regard rests with the Government, and not with the Opposition. Reference has been made to those pensioners who are living in institutions supported by the State. I was glad to see that the amending Bill brought down by the Treasurer last session provided that these pensioners should receive’ the difference between the cost of their maintenance by the State and the 10s. per week allowed by the law.. On looking at the records, I find that the first reading was on the 14th October, 1913, and that these champions for the increase to the pensioners, who desired, above everything, to give them all they are justly entitled to, took no further ‘action until the 16th -December. The second-reading speech was then made by the Treasurer, and, after a brief rejoinder of about five minutes in length from the Leader of the Opposition, the measure was shelved, and nothing more has been heard of it. If there was any genuine desire on the part of the Government to deal with the question, they should have attempted to do so this session, instead of proceeding with the so-called “ test “ measures. One measure that has been before the Federal Parliament’ for several years past is what is now the Navigation Act. That was introduced some nine or ten years ago, and, after a chequered career, was passed during the term of the Fisher Administration. It was referred by the then Governor-General to His Majesty’s Government in the Old Country for the Royal assent, which was given on the 24th November, 1913. That was some seven or eight months ago.
– After the Titanic disaster.
– Quite so; but very little appears to have been done to proclaim the Act, and bring it into operation.
– The Minister has it “under observation.”
– It is hardly so bad as that, because by means of questions I have extracted some information from the Minister of Trade and Customs regarding it. On the 15th April the honorable gentleman stated that the Regulations were being pressed forward, and that applications had been called for the position of the Director of Navigation, and he wound up by saying that he had no idea when the Act could be proclaimed. This was some five months after the Royal assent had been given. On the 3rd June, in answer to another question, the Minister of Trade and Customs said that it was impossible to fix a date, and that the Act could not Le proclaimed for several months. Later that month, on the 11th, the honorable gentleman informed me that the applications for the position of Director of Navigation were being “considered.” Some evidence was supplied last night by the honorable member for Brisbane, and we have now this further evidence of the manner in which the Minister of Trade and Customs carries on his work. Except for the proclamation, the Navigation Act has been law for about eight months, and all that the Minister can say has been done is that the applications for the position of Director are “ under consideration.” Truly this is a wonderful record of administrative ability, one which it would be hard to equal. An attack has been made by the Treasurer on the maternity allowance. I was pleased to notice that the honorable member for Dampier included this allowance in his general benediction on social improvement. This is quite refreshing, in view of the bitter attacks that were made on the maternity allowance during the last election campaign, when we were told that it was a huge waste of public money, and that it ought not to be permitted. I admire the Treasurer, who is, at any rate, consistent, and now tells the same story he told twelve months or more ago. When introducing this very Supply Bill, in response to an interjection by the honorable member for Yarra, the Treasurer said, “You are very generous with other people’s money.” Underlying all this is the idea on the part of the Treasurer and others that it is criminal, in a sense, to expend money on a maternity allowance. Knowing your humanitarian views, Mr. Fowler, I feel confident you will not agree with expressions of the kind used by the Treasurer, but would rather desire the maternity allowance to be granted throughout the land, without any class di. distinctions I shall not deal with the financial position at any great length. I have again read the Treasurer’s speech, and I find that the estimated revenue for 1913-14 was £21,462,000, while the estimated expenditure was £23,281,000, showing an excess of expenditure of £1,819,000. I appreciate the point taken by the honorable member for Dampier that, in framing the estimate of expenditure, the revenue must necessarily be borne in mind ; but had it not been for the fact that there was a surplus of over £2,600,000 left by the Fisher Administration, the position of the Government to-day would have been considerably worse. We are told that there will be a surplus of £824,305. This is interesting, in view of the fact that the pre-election statements of our honorable friends opposite were very different indeed from those they are making to-day. We were then told that the Fisher Government had entered upon a 1 ‘ wild orgy ‘ ‘ in finance - that money was being squandered right and left - and one honorable member is reported to have said that sums of money had been frittered away nobody knew where, and that “ contingencies “ accounted for the whole. The statement of the Treasurer to-day clearly shows that the Government have not been able to do all they promised the people. They came into power to reduce expenditure, and they met their first Parliament with a Budget that provided for an increase of from £4,000,000 to £5,000.000. Yet we are told that the present Government know all that there is to know about sound finance! On the 16th April, 1913, the Minister of Defence, in another Chamber, said, in reply to a question, that approval, had been given to the payment of the money appropriated for increases to Area Officers; and on the 13th May following he said that, in any case, the payment to these Area Officers would be made to apply to the present financial year. I have in my hand a copy of Statutory Rule 55 of this year, which reached me only to-day, and from that I find that Area Officers who received £150, excluding all allowances, are now to receive from £150 to £180. There is, however, a certain clause in the regulation which provides -
Subject to provision being made by Parliament, the Minister may approve of an increment being granted at the rate of £30 per annum, after three years satisfactory service as an Area Officer, on a certificate from the District Commandant that the duties have been performed in an efficient manner.
This looks well ; but how many area officers were there three years ago, or prior to November, 1913, from which the regulation dates? Is this simply a means of saving a paltry sum, or is it something with which to gull a certain section of the community into the belief that they are going to get something which they actually will not get? I have to-day received a wire from Western Australia informing me that’ ten men were on Tuesday discharged from the works at the Henderson Naval Base, Cockburn Sound. It will be interesting, perhaps, to the Treasurer, and other Western Australian members, to know that the people of that State realize the treatment they can expect from the Cook Government. On the 16th April, the Minister of Defence, in the Senate, when questioned regarding Cockburn Sound, said there was work which could be proceeded with, and which would be necessary. The honorable gentleman, later, stated that a considerable amount of work would be necessary before the major portion of the work could be undertaken. If, as the Minister says, there was a “considerable amount” of work to be done in April of this year, what is the Minister’s idea of a “ considerable amount “ ? Has the work been completed, seeing that the Government are ‘reducing the number of men engaged? We were told at one time that men were being put on these works for electioneering purposes. Have we now a case of men being put off the works for electioneering purposes? There are only a few men concerned ; and I am glad to say, judging from the result of the last election, that, even if they were compelled to leave the Fremantle district, I should not be affected personally. When the Fisher Government went out of office there were between 180 and 190 men employed at Cockburn Sound, but, according to the return presented by the Honorary Minister the other day, there were, when the return was prepared, only fiftythree, and if ten have since been dismissed, we see that there are now only forty-three men engaged. Although the Minister has refused to acknowledge that the Government are going to wait for Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice’ s report, that would appear to be their intention, or they are trying to save money this year, and endeavouring to avoid the necessity of making financial provision for the work at the Naval Base next year. The supporters of the Government, by the vote they cast on the Constitution Alteration Amendment Rills, have placed themselves in a very peculiar position; and it is to be hoped that, when they go before the electors, as they will within a very limited time, they will be able to explain what action they propose to take to reduce the high cost of living that is pressing on all of us, and will be able to show what they are prepared to do to make the Constitution more workable than it is at present. The Attorney-General has acknowledged repeatedly that there should be some alterations; but now, when an opportunity is given to again test the feeling of the people on the question, the supporters of the Government are found voting in such a way as to show they do not approve of any such appeal.
– The honorable member for Batman has mentioned my name in connexion with a newspaper called Public Opinion. He stated that I and other members formed a company which was promoted to publish this paper for political purposes. I do not propose to speak in defence of any other person connected with the company, but I wish to explain my position in regard to it. One or two months after this Parliament was elected, a representative of the newspaper asked me to take shares in the company, informing me that certain persons were already shareholders, and I took 100 shares, for which I paid £1 each. The next information I received was that there was to be a meeting of the shareholders to wind up the company. As I was not a shareholder during the election campaign, and doubt whether there was one issue of the newspaper after my £100 had been paid, I did not consider that I had any liabilities in regard to the debts that might have been incurred prior to my becoming a shareholder. I considered that I was exempted from any personal liability.
– Is the honorable member trying to prove that he is not a business man ?
– I am showing that I was pretty soft in this case. I was informed by the representative of the newspaper that it had a large circulation, but I ascertained afterwards that it had been circulated free. My £100. would not have gone into it had I known that before. If I join a rotten concern, and find out immediately afterwards that all I am to get from the investment of my money is the right to sign a proxy form in connexion with the winding up of the company, I do not consider that I have any personal liability concerning it.
– Is it true that the workmen employed in publishing the newspaper were not paid ?
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 June 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1914/19140618_reps_5_74/>.