9th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister lay on the table of the Library all the papers relating to the appointment ofMr. Page as a member of the Public Service Superannuation Board?
– I shall ascertain the exact nature of the papers, and, if possible, will comply with the. honorable member’s request.
Mr.WATKINS. - I desire to ask the Postmaster-General what is. responsible for the delay in carrying out the works programme of his Chief Inspector, particularly in regard to the Newcastle West and Newcastle post-offices. The Chief Inspector’s programme in regard to these matters was presented over two years ago, but nothing has yet been done.
– I shall look into the matter.
– I notice that applications have been invited for the tenancy of the canteen at the Royal Naval College, Jervis Bay. I desire to ask the Minister for Defence whether, in considering applications, he will give” preference to ex-service men. Tenancies in the past’ have been allotted to Maltese.’ I have no objection to Maltese, but think that ex-service men should have preference.
– Other . things being equal, it is the policy of the Government to give preference to returned soldiers and ex-service men,
– I desire to ask the ‘ Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories whether ‘ he will communicate with the British Government, pointing out the necessity for abolishing the system of passports wherever possible, since it occasions considerable inconvenience to citizens who are travelling abroad? Will the honorable gentleman also see that the present passports are made available at Customs offices in all parts of the Commonwealth as well as in the capital cities?
– I shall bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of my honorable colleague, and furnish him with an answer as soon as possible.
-I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will give early consideration to the question of the purchase, by the Commonwealth, . of the Ellis Rowan’ collection of pictures?
– The House, last session, having sanctioned . the purchase of the collection, a Committee of three, consisting, I think, of the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. J. R. Collins, Mr. William Brooks; and Mr. Sell, was appointed to advise as to the amount that should be’ paid for . the collection. I understand that the Committee’s report has been received, that it is now under consideration, and will come shortly before the Cabinet.
– May I again appeal to honorable members to assist Ministers by giving notice of all questions that are not urgent. Honorable memberswill facilitate very greatly the business of - the
House if they will confine their questions without notice to matters that must be dealt with immediately.
asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– Yes. The Administrator has reported that from the railway terminus at Emungalan to Mataranka, the road has been put in excellent order, and that from there to Alice Springs it has been cleared of all ant-heaps and other obstructions. The road from Alice Springs to Arltunga, north-easterly, and to Hermannsburg, south-westerly, has also been put in good order.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Will he supply the House with a list of the names and addresses of all the deportees from Australiafrom 1st August, 1914, to date, showing the reasons for such deportations?
– The work involved in supplying the information asked for by the honorable member would be very” considerable, as it would entail the examination of numerous individual files. Furthermore, it is not considered to be in the public interest to publish such particulars.
Telephone Lines - Postal Rates - Williams-street Post Office, Sydney - General Post Office, Sydney.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the very unsatisfactory replies that are received by honorable members to the effect that no funds and material are available, when they make representations for the provision of new telephone lines, will he take steps to have sufficient public money made available for the necessary additional telephonic and postal facilities required throughout Australia?
– Action has already been taken to provide adequate funds. Large quantities of material, the major portion of which has to be obtained from abroad, have already been ordered, and deliveries are now coming forward. Tenders have also been called for further . quantities of material. In view of the large number of outstanding lines, it will take some time to overtake arrears. A comprehensive programme has been commenced with a view to overtaking the existing arrears at the earliest possible moment, and being right up to date, within three years. So far as country lines are concerned, the majority of the arrears are expected to be overtaken this financial year. I shall be glad if the honorable member will let me have particulars of the cases in which the replies he refers to have been received.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the. Government to reduce the postage rates this session ; if not, when?
– This question involves a matter of policy, upon which a declaration will be made in due course.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Will he explain the reason why the city improvement at Williams-street Post Office. Sydney, has to he delayed till 1925, owing to apparent departmental neglect, the department having five years? notice that such improvement, would require the removal of the Post Office?
-Before the Williamsstreet Post Office block can be surrendered to the City Council, it is necessary to make provision in another locality for accommodation of the large telephone exchange now located in the Williams-street building. The installation of the new exchange cannot be completed before 1925. Whatever delay has occurred in this matter has not been the result of. any departmental neglect.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Is it a. fact that the necessary plan to assist to meet the required accommodation, of the General Post Office, Sydney, has passed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works ; if so, will he state the reason, if any, why such work has not been proceeded with ?
– In reporting upon this work, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works recommended acquisition of privately-owned property at the rear of the existing building, in order that a larger scheme of alterations of the General Post Office than that referred to might be undertaken. Negotiations for acquisition of this property, which, necessarily, occupied- some considerable time, have now been completed, and fresh plans-, upon lines designed to utilize the property in the scheme of ex-tension, are at an advanced stage of preparation. As soon as the existing tenancies in the newly-acquired property can be terminated, it is intended to invite tenders for execution of the extension of1 the General’ Post Office-. Meantime, certain operations connected with the foundations of. the new work are being executed by day. labour, in anticipation of a contract for the main work being entered into.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Classification of Temporary Employees
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
When is it proposed to give effect in South Australia to the amended Public. Service Act of 1922, relating to the permanent classification of temporary employees in the Commonwealth Public Service?
– The Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922 is not yet in operation, but appointments of returned soldiers temporarily employed for at least two years are proceeding under the existing Act to vacancies for postmen, assistants,, and mail drivers.
asked the Prime Minister, uponnotice -
Arelead oreconcentratesfrom the Northampton and. Surprise mines, in Western Australia, being sold in Holland at an increase of £3 per ton on the price paid by the obsolete-Fremantle treatment works; if so, will- he honour a promise made by a. previous National Government to- establish up-to-date treatment works, inGeraldton?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he request the Repatriation authorities to make inquiries into the condition of the soldier settlers at Rupanyup as to the shortage of the water supply, and ascertain -what is intended to be done?
– Under the agreement between theCommonwealth and the States regarding soldier land settlement, it was arranged, as the ‘States already had the organization, that the whole of’ the administration should be the responsibility of the State Lands Departments. In view, however, of the honorable member’s question, I will issue instructions for the suggested inquiries to be made.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether,in view of the urgency of the completion of theTrans- Australian railway from Sydney . to Port Augusta,viâ Condobolin and Broken Hill,he will enter into negotiations with the New South Wales Government with the object of completingtheCondobolinBrokenH ill section, and, if necessary, : make available the money required for same?
– The whole question of linking up the Trans-Australian railway with the railway systems of the eastern States was reported upon by the Uniform Gauge Commission, who recommended other connexions than via Broken Hill andCondobolin. No definite decision hasbeen given in regard to any route.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
It. with a view to the development of the North-West and Kimberley portions of Western Australia, the Government will at an early date bring in a Bill to construct a railway fromMeekatharra, Western Australia, northwards to the Kimberley districts?
– The extension of existing State-owned railways is a matter for the consideration of the Government of the State through which the proposed line would pass.
Lock at Wentworth.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the dangerous position in which -the fruit-growers of Curlawa, Pomona, . Mildura, Redcliffe, and other settlements on the Darling and Murray Rivers find themselves owing to the low state of those rivers, he, asrepresenting the Commonwealth Government, a party to the MurrayRiver Commission, in order to prevent what . apparently must lead to disaster to the fruitgrower’s, willtake early steps to expedite the commencement of No. 10 lock at Wentworth?
– Steps have been taken to arrange an earlyconference with the States concerned to review the works generally in connexion with the River Murray. The wholequestion of the proposed works, including the lock referred -to, will be considered by the conference.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Government has noofficial advice of such a conference nor of the proposed agenda.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the public statement to the effect that the Government intends to appoint a Board to consider what protection should be afforded to the sugar industry, are the sugargrowers correct in assuming that the present
Administration has no intention of renewing the existing Sugar Agreement, which will expireon the 30th June, 1923?
– The whole matter is receiving consideration.
Excessive Costs - Canungra and Beaudesert Mills
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
Whether any steps have been taken in Queensland to reduce the cost of War Service Homes in eases where such cost has been increased as a result of departmental errors?
– Yes ; the houses are being valued and in a number of cases this work has been completed and the reduced price of the home settled. Every endeavour is being made to complete this work at the earliest possible date.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1.What action does he propose to take regarding the Canungra and Beaudesert Sawmills, Queensland, which were purchased by the late Government at a cost of £460,000 and closed down, thus throwing hundreds of men out of employment?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The followingpaperswere presented: -
Trading with the Enemy Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1022, No. 192.
Treaty of Peace Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, No. 127.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos.187, 190, . 191.
Treaties of Peace (Austria and Bulgaria) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1922, Nos. 128, 129, 185, 186, 188, 189.
Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act - Approval of the use of Imported Material in the Manufacture of Goods on which Bountyis provided by the Act.
Debate resumed from 28th February (vide page 34), on motion by Mr. Hurry -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to by this House.
May it please Your Excellency :
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, beg to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- I am very sorry that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) is not in a fit state of health to resume the debate, and that therefore the ‘responsibility falls upon me as Deputy Leader. You, Mr. Speaker, know that I shall not be able to conduct the debate with the moderation, distinction, and judgment which would have characterized the speech of the. Leader of the Opposition, but I can only do my best and bear the responsibility for my shortcomings. Yesterday an Address-in-Reply to the speech of His Excellency was moved. You, sir, are aware that I take no part in the formalities of the Chamber. I regard the Address-in-Reply as largely formal, and also, to a large extent, a waste of time. But when we have a Government that ignores Parliament, treats it with contumely and contempt, and furnishes no information, it is only right we should take advantage of a vehicle like the motion for the adoption of an AddressinReply in order to express our opinion of the manner in which the Government conducts itself.
Yesterday I walked into thischamber with the rest of the members and took the oath of faithful allegiance to His Majesty the Bang. I was not called upon to take an oath of allegiance or fidelity to Australia, to its institutions, or to its people, not even to the 20,000 people at Bourke who gave me the opportunity to enjoy the honours and emoluments of this particular establishment. I do not question the course which was adopted, and I only point out the fact in order to add that, after the oath was taken, I was called on, with others, to listen to a Speech from His Majesty the King. The matter of the Address was a complete blank; the first paragraph, the middle, and the last contained nothing. I venture to say that it would be an insult to His Majesty to assume that he had himself dictated the Speech. To do so would be to assume that His Majesty is a petrified nonentity, “with no opinions of his own. This Speech purports to come from the King, but it contains no inspiration, no information as to the direction of the country. After all, however, I am told that this Speech is only a fiction; that it is not from His Majesty, but from his legal and Ministerial advisers; and the responsibility for it is on the Government of the day.
We are told that our attendance is required for nothing in particular, but in accordance with the terms of the Constitution - we are not called together to serve any public purpose. The first three paragraphs of the Address are mere blanks or platitudes. The fourth paragraph says -
In view of the recent assumption of office by my advisers, time is required for the preparation of measures to give effect to their policy. You will be invited to re-assemble as earl)’ as’ practicable to consider a definite programme of legislation.
The Speech goes on in a similar strain of nothingness, and finally commends our deliberations to the guidance of God. We are not called here to deliberate, but to get into recess as quickly as possible.
Yesterday, when you,, sir, were appointed Speaker, you were congratulated upon a variety of subjects, were not congratulated on others, while there were many things that were not mentioned. Itmay be said, however, that you have the unique distinction of presiding over a Parliament controlled by a Government the like of which has never been seen in Australia. I ask no questions as to the place or the particular methods of its origin ; I do not ask anything as to the methods by which it proposes to control Parliament and the destinies of the continent over which, unfortunately, it at this moment presides. This is a peculiar and unique Government, and because of that fact, it requires examination and investigation. It is a Government of “ business “ men, shrewd and astute, distinct from any Government that has ever held the destinies of Australia in its hands.
There have been other Parliaments, and this 13 the ninth. The first Parliament of Australia Avas composed of men drawn from all parts of the Commonwealth, many of whom had never met each other; they had never shuffled themselves together in the coils of party, either on the Government benches or in Opposition. The Departments were then in disorder, with Federation in its infancy, and yet within five weeks these nien were able to present to Australia a clear and distinct policy. That was so in the case of the second Parliament, and with every other Parliament we have seen, except the present - this Parliament of “ shrewd men of business.” In 1910 there was another Government called into existence. It was a Government of “ tinkers, tailors, soldiers, sailors “ - a Government of carpenters, miners, and menders of umbrellas. None of these men had been cultured in Oxford or Cambridge; none of them had been taught to shape their thoughts in the way of a trained mind. None of them was adepts at that military strategy which tries at the same time to combine treason and patriotism. Such a conception as keeping their lines of communication intact while leaving a passage for the enemy did not bolong to it; but that Government, insignificant as its members were in point of education, could yet develop a policy. They could not even conceive that particular policy by which they could have a watchdog to ring a bell, cry “ Drop the loot,” and then take it; but they could formulate a policy.
What was true of the first, the fourth, the eighth, and all the other Governments i3 not true of the present Government. The present alone of all Governments is utterly incapable of producing a policy at this particular hour. ‘ It knows nothing, and treats Parliament with scorn, while regarding the general public as a thing to be played with. Is it not right, then, that at this juncture we should express our opinions?
I now propose, Mr. Speaker, to read to you something that I shall move as an addition to the AddressinReply. The ordinary formalities, require nothing more than that there shall be submitted a motion that the Government of the day does not receive the support of Parliament, and on that hangs the story. We, however, go beyond that. This Speech is blank - the King is silent, inane, incapable of expressing an opinion, and we ought at least to do something. The amendment T propose to submit, if as !,ong as a Rabbi’s curse, as mot quite so wearying, and it is intended as a placard and proclamation to the public of what we think. You, sir, will listen with patience while I read the following amendment, which I mow move -
That Ohe following words lie added to the proposed Address-in-Reply: - ‘” hut we regret that this .House views with disapprobation the conduct of the Government in meeting Parliament with a Speech containing .no evidence of any public policy. There 13 no -mention of any -intended policy upon the subject of iintei’nationa.1 ‘trade which the head of the Government has asserted to be .fundamental to the progress and prosperity of Aus.’. There is no mention .of a policy on the .sugar -agreement, which expires next .Tune There is :no -mention of a policy relating to the development ‘of internal trade, which is -so vital to the em.plqy.ment -of our ;people. hut, on ‘the contrary, the administrative methods pursued by the -Government accentuate unem
There -is -no -mention ‘of the attitude of the Government ‘.towards arbitration towards the oil and wireless agreements, or towards oldagc ana invalid pensions. The Speech makes no mention as ‘to -whether the Government intends to investigate >the War Service -Homes -and other matters of maladministration exposed last session by the Labour pparty.
In brief, .this -Government, which claims tto be a Government of .business .men, 6’.:. :no evidence of such qualification. There iis not rmc subject in His ^Excellency’s Speech upon which is given .a definite, a concrete, or a composite opinion.
Under tthese ‘circumstances, and in view of the peculiar methods under which this .Government was ‘formed, and ‘in view of the fact that this .Government discloses an unseemly haste to reach the haven of a recess of several months’ duration, tliu-3 leaving in abeyance .the discussion of these subjects vital to’ the .welfare -of .our country, this House deems it necessary to protest and declare -that this Government does not possess ite confidence.”
Now faced with this peculiar Government, unlike any other in Australia, we have to ask ourselves something as to the method of its origin. But before I touch Upon that, let me refer for a moment to the statement made yesterday by the honorable -member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) that the Ministry is exclusively Australian. . All credit ito it, but the honorable member ignores the fact that, under our flag, we speak a common tongue, and have a common destiny, and a. ‘Common faith. I do not object to the honorable member’s discrimination. It is simply my misfortune not to have been bom on the soil of Australia, although my offspring are of this country. But, at least, if I came here from the centre of the Empire, it was my aim to realize in this country those things I was not permitted to achieve in the land of my bil- th. There have been Ministers within Australia -who . were essentially and characteristically Australian, born and trained in Austrafia, but -there ha-v-e been others -who, ‘although they had their place of nativity in -other parts -of His Majesty’s Dominions, came to this country to realize, as I and others Shave done, those opportunities not -open to them in the land of their birth, and who at lea3t endeavoured with pre-eminent success to bc Australian in sentiment, and -make .this Commonwealth furnish for them those chances not provided for the masses of the people in the centre of the Empire. Whether hey were English, Scotch, Welsh, or Irish, whether they were cultured or uncultured, none of them climbed ‘to pre-eminence without a long period of political apprenticeship, and all of them possessed that .outstanding ability which enabled them to achieve success. 3ut ,t to-day we have a .Government .controlled by ,a new force, by a man who ds not merely Australian, or -merely English, but is a cultured Australian seeking to adapt to himself the manners, customs, and fashions of Bond-street and Piccadilly. So much for place of nativity. It matters not whether one is horn in the country lanes of England, .or in the alums of its cities, <or, again, in $be abroad spaces of Australia. We are allhe ssous of one breed. If the honorable member meant anything by his statement, I askim t:to adhere to it. Iff She -meant nothing, let him try to x,plain w what he meant.
Now I propose to deal with the origin of this Government, because its methods are so -exceptional and so unknown, as unknown as are the things it proposes to do. It is distinct from anything we “have had. ‘Let us consider how it was produced, and at this point I place upon ‘the stage of public events once more the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes). I do. not intend to refer to.hisrelations.wifch the Labour party oi! his old: association with it,, buit I. direct attentioii to the fact that he was a man who, . in the minds- o-f the Nationalists,, quite apart from; the view taken by the Labour party, had. done things,’ not. merely for his- country, but also for the Empire.Supporters of theNational party shouted hurrah for- what he’ had’ done for his country and for his Empire-. He even subordinated’ the interests of his party to those of his country. At any rale, he won great honour, and achieved renown. It is not my intention at this nioment to pick out his good or his evil points, but I say that the Nationalist press, ‘ reflecting the views of the Nationalist party, hailed him as a man who had doneimmense service for his country,his Empire, his flag, and for the vast Imperialism of the British race. In fact.,he was lauded as a man worthy of thehighest appreciation-, andwhilehe was successful, powerful, and predominant, our friends on the Ministerial side of thisChamber were sharers of his victories and participants in his renown, basking in the: sunshine of his glory.. “But then, there ‘ came- a day when he fell1 into popular disfavour, when he no longer had that renown or that glory, and when we in this party were making accusations againsthim that were gradually eating into his reputation.But we never said that he was alone responsible. We clearly recognised that he could dp nothing good or evil without every; honorable- member on the Ministerial side being a participator or a sharer in what he did. There was nothing good! he did in which they wore not participants.There was nothing evil he did in which they were not aiders, abettors and accessories. He could accomplish nothing without the support ofh is- Government. There was nothing he could accomplish in which every supporter of the National party was: not a participant. The Nationalist party, in a word, being, participants” in his’ renown, were equally responsible for the evil he did. What has become of him? The man who drove him out of publiclife has now become a partner of one who aided, abetted and supported’ him.in tlie crimes for which he has been deprived of office. Who supported the honorable member, for North ‘Sydney more ably than; did the gentlemanwho now occupies the position1 of Prime Minister ? Going far’ beyond the declarations’, of others, he swore to his leader the oath of brotherhood, he made a blood compact with him., shook him by the hand, and swore eternal fidelity, declaring, “ Where he goes I go too; and when he goes I go also.”
– Did he share in the
– No. He could share in the honour and glory of victory, but he could not share in that. While the ex-Prime Minister could- carry the National banner and the standard of Toryism to victory in the battles of 1917 and 1919, he stood by and supported his leader; but when that leader was no longer upstanding and powerful, and when his fortune had turned, this man deserted him. .
– I do not like the way you say “ this man “ !
– And this is regarded as honour and culture. It is not the culture nor is its the honour taught in the universities. It is not. the code- of honour understood- in the messroom. of the7th Royal Fusiliers’. It is not even, . the code of honour understood inBourke-street among the rats, who even at the risk of being’ silenced in Pentridgs, and isolated from their fellows, still maintain fidelity. It is not even the code of honour as. understood in . that corruption of ethics which long association with parliamentary intrigue; brings about. But it is. that . culture which, is taught by “ big business “ in Flinders-lane. It is honour as understood among those who struggle for prestige of position in the market places of the world. And so they let . theirleader go, and’ in turn began to negotiate-. With whom-?’ With- the faction in the- Country party,, whose members are also men of honour, of culture, of profound learning; men- of the highest attainments- and the widest experience; possessed of and- governed by the noblest codes of honour.. Do honorable members recall’ a certain famous speech of the present Prime Minister - this gentleman of the blood compact - wherein he made his renowned assault upon the Country party? Mind you, Mr. Speaker, I draw no distinction between the Country party and that which is known as the Nationalist party. Both names are merely among the disguises behind which the opponents of the Labour movement masquerade from time to time. When one name ‘begins to “ hum,” to stink too vilely in the public nostrils, these myriad and varied opponents of Labour hide themselves behind a new name. The Country party assailed the late Prime Minister for three years; and for three years it kept him in. power! It charged him and his Government with every manner and variety of misgovernment and maladministration. But, to-day, the Country party associates itself with the late Prime Minister’s colleague and blood brother. To-day, its members are participants, aiders and abettors in all this wrongdoing and maladministration - the only difference being that now they all sit together, whereas, formerly, they did their aiding and abetting and participation under the guise and pretence of fiercest criticism.
The present Prime Minister, who swore fidelity to his late chief, but whom he’ helped to assassinate, and whose place he has taken, has done all this after saying that there was only one man who was capable of ruling Australia. As a matter of fact, he did indicate that there was’ one other who also was a paragon of ability and, as such, was also capable of ruling this country. That was yourself, Mr. Speaker. But the honorable gentleman added, in respect of yourself, “He has not the courage!” Lacking in courage? There are various forms and manifestations of courage, which are exercisable both in time of peace and in war. Although the honorable gentleman who now occupies the Speakership has been my political opponent for thirty years - almost literally from the time when he was a boy - I am ready to say that he has never lacked courage. 1 know that he has been called upon to fight forms of adversity which the ‘Prime Minister has never had to face. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He has had to battle against hardships and drudgery - against conditions which might well have blanched and starved one’s soul; and the courage with which he has overcome his disabilities has been of a character not lower than that which is displayed upon the ‘field of battle. Yet, “he had not the courage!” There was only one man, then, who, in the opinion of this gentleman of the blood compact, was qualified to exercise the political , rulership of the Commonwealth, and that was William Morris ‘Hughes. Yet the honorable gentleman sitting opposite me deserted him, and took his place! What he must have really said - to himself, of course - was, “ There is no other man but myself who is capable.” And then he goes to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. God forbid that I should be so disloyal as to reflect upon the character or the actions either of His Majesty or of his representative in this country. But since the one and only Leader had been discarded, and stood discredited, how great ,and worthy was the judgment ^ of the- King’s . representative ! ‘ How clearly did he steer from the stigma of partisanship when he called upon the man who had taken the cloak of his discarded and discredited chief to form an Administration! Great be our patriotism ! All glory to the King, and all honour to His Excellency!
In his famous Maryborough speech, not only did our new Prime Minister say that he would fight, and, if necessary, go out and die, with his then Leader, but he made certain reflections upon the Country party. What would honorable members think of me if I said that you, Mr. Speaker, were a man of paralyzed intellect, and. if I were then to offer you the Treasurership ? The honorable gentleman opposite to me’ was referring, of course, to the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page). He said that he was the Leader of a party of men of paralyzed intelligences.
– Oh, no!
– Oh, yes! I read it in the press. I do not know, of course, whether it was in the Prime Minister’s papers. But there it was. The honorable gentleman said that the members of the Country party were men of paralyzed mentality. Did the present Treasurer resent those words? Not at all! The ordinary, crude, rough, and uncultured man, born in the street, and dragged up in the alley-ways, might bridle at such a stigma, and might want to strike a blow at his accuser. But culture and polish demand, of course, that one must smile and take it all. Anyhow, what happened soon afterwards? This other blood brother conies over to Melbourne, but drops off at a side station; he claps his sombrero on his head, wraps his poncho about his chest, sneaks round the darkened streets, crawls up the new Prime Minister’s back stairs, and signs the contract. These gentlemen of culture can do the sort of thing that the average nian, in the street would repudiate and describe as a degradation. The Prime Minister, having called attention to their paralyzed mentality, promptly “ signs up “ with the members of this so-called Country faction. Having stigmatized them as being without sanity or stability, and as men who would lead the country to disaster, he takes them into partnership. That is honour; that is politics; that is shrewdness and sagacity! He “signs up.” The deed is done; tha task is accomplished! Then we say to ourselves, “ At least, there must be some bond of policy between them; at any rate, they will give us a policy.” Here is an aggregation of men who are unknown to Australia. They come before- us in their serried ranks, armed cap-a-pie, with all their shrewdness, sagacity, and business capacity. But, no! They will not propound a policy. They will not indicate any policy. We thought that they, with, their superior gifts ‘and capabilities, would call Parliament together with all promptitude, and there make known their business. But they do nothing. They are mental blanks; paralytics! We find nothing. We can see nothing in this Speech, and where else shall we search ?
We must look for the particular reasons which have brought about this combination. I have already said that I draw no distinction between the Country and the Nationalist party. I ask honorable members to inquire of themselves, where do the majority of these country gentlemen come from? From those areas of Australia which, for twenty years or more, have been the centres of reaction. In most instances the Labour party has never held sway in the districts from which they hie, and, if, by any chance, there has come from out of those areas a man of liberal thought, it has been more by accident than design.
But what of the policy of the Government? We have to look beyond these walls, and before the doings of this past day or two to try to discover their policy for ourselves. There is emphatically nothing in the speech of the Governor-General which may be taken remotely to indicate what the Government propose to do or to put before Parliament. The first course which we take in our search is -to probe the public utterances of the Prime Minister during the brief period which has elapsed since he took up his supreme office. I find that he spoke at a meeting in Sydney on 17th February. The occasion may be said to have been the Prime Minister’s first speech in public, and it might be called the “ National Spirit “ speech. At the meeting he was upheld, supported, and surrounded by a number of gentlemen embracing the heads of commerce, and including the Employers’ Federation. There was Sir Owen Cox, the head of the Black Labour gang, the representative of the blacklabour interests of Lord Inchcape - the gentleman who, though a British subject himself, and professing to support and honour the British flag, exploited his country in the hour of war, and has never regarded men of his own race and blood as fit subjects to man his ships. Unfortunately, it was in this environment that the Prime Minister, of Australia made his first speech, which, as I say, may be designated “ the National Spirit Speech.” Addressing these gentlemen, these representatives of monopoly, and of black labour, he said, “ I welcome the fact that on this, the first opportunity I have had of speaking to the people of Australia as Prime Minister, I do so in an atmosphere free from politics, and to gentlemen who know no ‘ party divisions or sectional aims.” If my esteemed friend and learned Bolshevik from the Barrier, Mr. Michael Considine, had spoken to a meeting of Bolsheviks or a Communist assembly, and had addressed those present as representing the intelligent, the 6lite, the moderate, and the discreet people of Australia, his statement could not have been regarded as mo.re absurd, more ridiculous, and more laughable than that of the Prime Minister when he speaks to the representatives of wealth and black labour, and all that stands for reaction, as representative men “ free from party divisions and sectional aims.” They are the men who pour their money into the party funds of the political reactionaries of this country in order to obstruct the march of Australian Democracy. The Prime Minister went on to express beautiful sentences which can be read in the speeches of Shiels, Warren Hastings, and others. He said, “ The future depended upon the creation of a true national spirit, and if every one should have that spirit, and if it pervaded their lives, their troubles would disappear. Great questions were -sometimes lost sight of in the welter of lesser things that . divided theirranks and -obscured their vision. To-daythey had great opportunities. If they did not : seize them they would miss them. Their future was bright, and they would achieve their great -destiny “ - ‘whatever that was. He did not -appear to know what their . great destiny was. He did not even trouble . about it. He went on to say that the Government was founded on sanity and progress, andthat stability was ‘ the . great aim it had in view. It is no doubt a “ stable” Government. It is -in avery bad condition, too. It wants cleaning out. ‘The Prime Minister added that “’ Che Government did not look to left or right, and did not seek the support” Of either the reactionary or therevolutionary. It looked for support tothe fair-minded, the right-thinking, and the moderate,” and ‘the extent to which people possessed those qualifications would no doubt be discernible by the extent towhich they supported the ‘Government. Under his Government, he said, Australia was destined ‘for an -eraof . prosperity and happiness. Thisera of prosperity and happiness, presumably, will be the result of a policy of negation. Abouttwelve months ago the Prime Minister, who was then Treasurer, went to Adelaide, and therehe told the people that Australia could not live by herself alone, and. that her future did not . depend upon politics or the tactics of individuals, but upon the recovery of Europe. When speaking in Sydney, he said, “ I now say that under myGovernment Australia can live for herself alone, and can enjoy an era of prosperity and happiness even if Europe be a ‘ quivering wreck ‘,” as Mr. Lloyd George expressed it.The Prime Minister did not actually use those words, but I am stating what he meant to say, and tried to say. He concluded by saying, “ Again I congratulate you that you reflect nothing narrow and sectional, but in all your speeches, whatever they may be, you. reflect the highest national spirit.” The newspapers said he spoke well about the national spirit. It is, of course, a. fine sentiment upon which one can make eloquent perorations. Any one can deal with the “ national spirit “’ as long as he can stand up, but when he is asked totranslatehis talk into something tangible, -his difficulty arises. People ask, “ Whatdo you mean by ‘a national spirit “ ? Translate it into something tangible. Demonstrate it in legislation, and in . a clear and definite policy. It may not be apolicy that we agree with, but if you will, at least, only, translate it into some form of practice, we shall . be able to understandwhat you mean.” It may be stated clearly and definitely that neither the people nor the press can understandthe policy or the tactics of the Government at ‘the present time.
The Prime Minister went to Sydney and made a second speech.. He made . this to “ the people “ in an appropriate place, namely,, the Millions Club. On that occasion he worked off a fine phrase which can be read in text-books, andwhich we all learned as boys. He said, “ Thebest Government is that which governs least.” The . press and the people of the country ridiculed that statement ; therewas hardly a newspaper in Australia that did not criticise it. To thisgathering of ; antiSocialists, anti-Labourites, antieverything that standsfor progress and development, and pro-everything that stands for the triumph of money -power in Australia, hequotedthat piece of Spencerian philosophy from Spencer’s article on “The .Coming Slavery,” the article commencing, “Be it true or not true that man is born in sin and shapen in iniquity, it is unquestionably true that ‘Governments are born of aggression and live by . aggression.” The Prime Minister . at this hour has to re-echo to the representatives of dominant capitalism in Australia the absurdity that the best Government is that which governs least. He knows, ‘and the press . and the people of this country know, that the best Government is that which utilizes the resources of communal effort in order best to develop the talents and capacities of the individual members of the community. The Prime Minister went on to “promise”, and it. appeared as if we should at last get something definite/ He said, “ We promise consideration” - of what? He - promised consideration of the problems of Empire trade relations and Empire defence. There we see the great statesman ! He is not troubled about the affairs of Victoria, South Australia, or Tasmania, or even of Australia generally. His main concern is with great Imperial, things. He wants to solve the problems pf Empire ; his mind goes far beyond the problems of Australia. He has not told us how he is going to solve the problems of the Empire. But he will “ consider “ them. He also undertook to consider the problem of population, and to look into internal development and internal finance. Finally he promised a declaration of policy whereby the aforesaid problems would be solved. He finished with a peroration in which he spoke of an unrivalled climate, unmatched resources, brilliant sunshine, fine nights, and glorious mornings. The newspapers were very critical of this effort. The best criticism I saw was in the Melbourne Herald, which said that the Millions Club speech consisted of prettily expressed platitudes.
Then came a third speech in Adelaide. I read a three-column report of that speech. It contained twenty-seven Empires and three Australias. He spoke of ties of Empire, bonds of Empire; love of ‘ Empire, unity of Empire, faith in Empire; stream of Empire; and so on. There- was not much. Australia in it. This” gentleman could contemplate the problems of another country, but not of his1 own. In this; speech he said that he was going to consider three’ great problems - Defence of Empire^ Foreign Policy of the Empire, and Trade of the Empire. There was nothing- about the defence of Australia. Why should’ he worry about that? Australia is mentioned only in a subordinate way at the tail end of the speech. He pointed out that Empire defence was, of course, needed, and that if something was not done, something would be left undone. In order to devise remedies he advocated that there should be a great Empire Conference.
He proposed to solve the Empire problems of Imperial defence, foreign policy, and Empire trade by Conference. He did not propose to solve these questions by legislation, or by presenting a policy oi’ Bills for Parliament to- discuss, but by a Conference which may or may not becalled
Since we can get nothing from the Prime Minister, we have to turn to the other elements of the party. The Treasurer went to Sydney and denied the truth of what the Prime Minister had said. He said he had not been guilty of having a suggestion, and if he had one he would let them know of it. He professed to explain the position, and said the Country party members could pull out of the Government whenever they liked. He went on to say that the idealsof the Nationalist party and the Country party were alike.
The Prime Minister said that he had a paralyzed mentality, and that he would be; unable to give direct effect to the policy of the Country party ! The Country party are represented in the Cabinet in; the proportion of five out of eleven, but. they are “equal in all things”! They are a distinct, entity! They, are united’ in substance, but not bound in person The Country party have developed a policy ; and since we cannot- obtain f from the Prime Minister any pronouncement a* to the policy of the Government, let iia ask ourselves what the Country party have- to offer. Can- the. Country party impose their policy upon the Government?. Have the Country party swallowed, the Nationalist party, or have the. Nationalists- swallowed the Country party f
Fear what do the Country party stand’? In the1 first place, they stand: for thee abolition of governmental activities. How grand* - how masterly a policy !1 I do not ask honorable members to consider what may be regarded by some as the. Socialistic or extreme doctrines of the’ Labour party. Whatever our doctrinesmay be, we have faith in them, and; believe them to be essential to the progress and development of the country. I ask honorable members to look abroad - to see what is going on in other countries’. It is unnecessary for us to go to’ any country presided over by a Labour Government for an illustration of what is happening in respect of governmental activities. Throughout the world the general tendency is towards the extension of governmental functions. The world is not moving backwards. As individualism disappears, and wealth is aggregated in the hands of the few, Governments of countries all over the world see that in respect of ‘many functions there is only one alternative. They have either to leave extreme industrial powers in the hands of the comparatively few, or to take them over and to control them through the medium of Government. It is a question, not of the application of Socialistic policy, but rather of doing those things which are essential to the well-being of the people.
In every country municipal activities are increasing. In this very city, under a Tory Government, dominated by a man who’ is hostile to Socialistic doctrines, municipal activities are expanding. In this State, where, except for a few days, there has never been a Labour Administration in power, governmental activities have increased. What is the greatest activity into which this State has entered? In. every State in Australia the railway system is controlled by the Government. Need I ask what prompted the pioneers - the original Governments of this country - to decide that our railway systems should be governmental activities ? We know that the railways are infinitely more satisfactory in the hands of the community .than they would be if in the hands of private corporations. If, as in the United States of America, our railways, instead of being controlled by Government, were in the hands of private corporations, our agricultural producers would be crushed by heavy imposts. This country acted wisely in assuming governmental responsibility for railway transport. The Treasurer, who affects to be progressive, and who tells us that the party of which he was, but is no longer, the leader, is a party of progress, stands in the ranks of the most Tory elements. He is opposed to the advanced thought of all countries in so far as he declares at this hour that if he had the power he would . sell the railways of the several States to private corporations. That declaration was made by him, not upon the platforms of the country, but in this House.
In Victoria we have a Government which is hostile to the Labour movement and its principles, but which has been driven by the force of facts to go into the heart of Gippsland, and to monopolize there a great product. Under the direction of General Monash, it is spending millions in an enterprise designed to develop a ‘ State-owned activity. It has taken this action because it recognises that whomsoever owns or controls the sources of supply of power and transport controls individual industry within the State. The very Governments which are hostile to Hie Labour party are driven by force of circumstances to follow the very lines which the Labour party have laid clown as offering the best solution of a national problem. The present Commonwealth Administration proposes to destroy the Woollen Mills and the Saddle and Harness Factory, as well as other industries which the Commonwealth has developed. In. so far as it can, it destroys these industries openly, but in some directions it dare not proceed. What it dare not openly destroy it will destroy secretly.
The Government does- not propose to destroy the Commonwealth Bank. Even the Leader of the Country party, who denounces Governmental activities, and proposes to destroy some of them - the Commonwealth Woollen Mills are to be disposed of because they come into conflict with the private interests of certain members of the Government - does not propose to do away with the Commonwealth Bank. We are told that the programme of the Country party is not to be restricted, but, on the contrary, is to be extended. The activities of these economic functions of the community are to be “floored.” To what extent does the practice of the party conform to its principles and professions? Why do they not put their principles into operation in so far as the Commonwealth Bank is concerned? The reason is that Tory and reactionary as they are, they know Ml well that no Government in Australia dare attempt to destroy the structure and the ramifications of the Commonwealth Bank. Any Administration that attempted to do so would be swept out of public life. This Government, however, proposes to appoint a Board of Control for the Commonwealth Bank, because it objects to “ one man power.” Whether the Bank is controlled by one man or a dozen, it must be judged by its success or failure, and since there is no dead level of mediocrity, the brainiest man on the directorate will come to the top even if a Commission or Board of Control of three or four be appointed. The Government, according to press statements, proposes to appoint a directorate of at least four members. We are informed that it has -determined to do away with five of the Government motor cars, and so to save the wages of five chauffeurs. At the same time, it proposes to put five of its “pals” on the directorate of the Commonwealth Bank. This Government, which proposes to save a penny here and a penny there by cutting down the wages of a few men, or by putting a few men out of work - this Government, which hopes to save £50 here or £100 there by closing down this and that office -is ready at the same time to spend thousands of pounds on another expedition to Europe to solve the pro,blems of Empire, while at the same time it leaves untouched the problems of its “ own country.
We are told that the Commonwealth Bank needs to be controlled. Is there no need of control in respect of private (banking? In the United States and many European countries, the private banks are not left uncontrolled, but in this country they are. The Labour party believe in a policy of control in. respect of our private banking systems. The Government, however, proposes in respect of the Commonwealth Bank - a Bank which has been administered by one man in a way that is creditable to himself, and has proved of the utmost value to the country of which he is a citizen - that there shall be a Board of Control. It proposes that the present Governor of the Bank shall be supervised by a Board consisting of its own particular partisans, while, at the same time, it leaves the private banking systems of Australia completely untouched and uncontrolled. The private banking institutions of Australia control £200,000,000 of the public moneys. Into their reservoirs flow the savings of the people. The very Savings Banks are channels for the collection of the moneys1 of the people in order that they may flow into the reservoirs of the private banks. In many countries not dominated by Labour, public inspectors may at any moment call for the books of a private bank and examine them. In Australia, however, the private banks, as I have said, are entirely untouched by the Government. The present Ministry proposes that that system shall continue, but at the same time it seeks, if possible, to penalize and emasculate the national banking institution which was established by the Labour party.
This Government ignores all the facta of history. In Great Britain, Germany, and Prance there ha,ve been men who have, at least, recognised that certain fundamental principles of Socialism are capable of being applied with profit to capital and industry. They have objected to such principles, but have applied some of them. Disraeli, for instance, wrote a book which had a circulation of half-a-million copies, and which was translated into various tongues. I refer to Sybil, a political novel which gave an impetus to the progressive movement of Labour Disraeli did not accept the theory of Socialism, but in that book he recognised that every man had a common responsibility to his country, and that there was an obligation on the part of those who controlled the affairs of government to ask themselves by what means the instrumentalities of government could be used, not to augment the riches of the few, but to enlarge’ the powers of the multitude. The philosophy for which we stand may not be correct, but there is in it, at least, something clearer and more definite than is to be found in that particular policy which, when it is not absolutely negative, is positively reactionary, and controls everything in the interests of the great money classes.
Disraeli, while not accepting the philosophy for which we stand, boldly appropriated £4,000,000 of public money so that the –British Government might obtain control of the Suez Canal. That was Socialism. It meant Government control and Government financing. And Disraeli took that action because he saw that in that enlargement of Government control, that expansion of public ownership, there was an instrumentality by which the Empire might expand, and the interests of its industries be served. In Germany, Bismarck accepted the policy of Ferdinand Lassalle, applied it in his own way, made great national appropriations in respect of mines and forestry, salt and kerosene, and so gained immense revenues to expend in ‘the interests of his country.
Would the Government destroy all the activities now carried on by the Commonwealth? Not at all. Honorable members opposite have no belief in the policy which they have promulgated. They destroy Government activities only when they come into conflict with their own private interests. This Government cannot hope to live. It has no policy. Ib cannot promulgate a policy withoutfalling to pieces by reason of its own internal rottenness and internal dissensions. The members of this composite Government cannot agree upon anything. I shall prove that statement. If the Government had been able to agree upon a policy, it would have promulgated one. As I said at the outset, every Government that has. existed in Australia has within- a few weeks of its creation brought down a policy and a programme of legislation. It is not because the present Administration is less capable than the Administration which immediately preceded, it that it has not brought down a policy. It. is due rather “to the fact that, it cannot agree upon anything,. Honorable members opposite are united only in their hostility to the advancement of the Labour movement. In a majority of the States of the Commonwealth the Labour movement, despite its lack of organization,, despite the press, despite its ignorance and incapacity, and the fact that it has neither university culture nor military discipline, has- been able to secure the approval of a majority of the people. Those are the outstanding facts, and, as the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) said in the country, the justification which honorable members opposite have for the arrangement into which they have entered is -the fact that they prevent the reins of government falling into the hands of the Labour party. I do not want the reins of government, and I believe that the majority of my colleagues have no wish to hold them. Certainly we have no wish to sit on the Government bench supported by only a minority of membersin this Chamber, nor even by a majority here, if in another place there is a hostile majority which is able to reject the legislation we enact. We arc not worried, and we are not hurried. We believe in the growth of public opinion. There may be developments in the near future followed by other political crises, due to the pressure of economic facts which has already given us a victory at this election. We were successful with the majority of our nominations, and but for the peculiar distribution of the electorates of the House of Representatives, we would have had a majority in this Chamber. As it was, our total majorities in five States out of six outnumber the votes recorded against us. That is our triumph, even though we have not attained to office. At this hour werepresent the majority of the people of Australia. The Government do not. They have a majority in the Chamber by a mere fluke, by the chance of circumstances, just- as political bosses in the States have achieved a majority in Parliament, not because they were sup« ported by the majority of the electors, but because the . distribution of seats favoured them. The future is .ours; it must be ours, because the Labour party is the- only one which can promulgate a definite progressive policy for this country. Honorable members’ may laugh and sneer, but I ask them to carry their minds back to 1910, when despite the fact that the newspapers said that upon three things the Labour party stood, condemned in the minds of. all reasonable men, the, majority of the people stood to us., we came into power, we put. our programme into execution, and our. enactments have stood the, test- of time. They stand to-day unchallenged, and no Government^ no. matter how Tory in tendency, dar© tear them to’ pieces. As it was in the past, so it shall, be in. the future. A party which embodies the progressive thought of the- nation and has a definite policy, which does not alter with, every change of circumstances, i9t the only one- that can’ ever control the growthof. this- continent. The present Government are devoid of ideas; they represent nothing but: the powers- of reaction. But their hour is passing; ours is coming: We are- not worried; we are not hurried. Woknow that the Government are so ignominious and incapable that they can accomplish nothing.
– I can very well understand the feelings of the honorable . member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey). The position in which honorable members opposite find themselves iscertainly very unfortunate. For . some considerable time past they have been building their hopes upon dissension in the ranks of those opposed to them, and upon no possible merit of their own. To-day they are faced with the distressing fact that they have opposed to them . a united Ministerial party, headed by a Government who have . a . substantial majority in the House, and who are determined tocarry out a progressive policy.
– What is it?
– The mover of the amendment tried to force events by persuading himself that what he thought would happen had actually happened. If there were to be . an . amalgamation of the forces . opposed to honorable members opposite, their nightly prayer was . that the combination might be one dominated by Conservatism and ‘reactionary to the core. That was their only hope. Unfortunately for them nothing of the sort has happened or will happen. The Government will not be reactionary, and it will not do any of the things which the honorable member for Bourke predicted as likely to be done under our rule. I do not think that the honorable member has any personal antipathy to me, but he did not appear to care for my method of dressing, or my manners, or some quality which he described as culture. But if he thinks that any of those characteristics -indicate the good old Conservative mind, or Tory instincts, I assure him he is quite wrong. The members of the Government are not Tories. We are just as progressive in our ideas as are the majority of honorable members opposite. But we show , a little more sanity in connexion with the means by which we hope to give effect to those ideas.
The honorable member complained of the absence of any policy. He said that this was the first Government which had met Parliament without a complete policy, and suggested that if the Labour party had been in our place they would have been ready with their policy. Of -course they would; it is ready made. It would be given to them at the door and they would have introduced it to the House.
– And given effect to it.
– The party would do what it was told to do. But we are not in that position. I personally prefer not to be so situated; I think at is moire desirable that the ‘Government elected by the representatives . of the people should frame their own policy and should notbe dominated by outside influences. Not -having a ready-made policy, we require a little time to ‘consider some of the great problems with which we are faced, and to endeavour to’ find a solution of the difficult circumstances which surround us to-day.. That is what the Government propose to do.
I remind ‘the House of the circumstancesin which the Government have met . Parliament. The Ministry came into being on the 9th ‘February, and the majority of its members are men who have not previouslyheld office. Of necessity, owing to. the results of the -election, the absence of ex- Ministers and the defeat of others, work . in the Departments, ofwhichthey . assumed control, was in arrears. We have taken over the reins of government, we have gone into the Departmentsand tackled the problems which confrontedus; but no Government with . any intelligence, or who . made any pretence of considering the problems which have tobe solved, . could produce a policy in so short a time. It would havebeen a grave and serious mistake to attempt to do so. Some time will be required to frame a policy and present it to the House. I intend, however, to indicate to honorable members some of the problems with which we have to cope, in order that they may realize how impossible it was to present to the House a completed policy without first having had an opportunity of giving it the most mature consideration.
The honorable member for Bourke took considerable objection to some of the speeches that I have made since the formation of the Government. I venture to suggest that they contained many things which required to be said, and I invite honorable members opposite to study and repeat them. The honorable member for Bourke said that my speeches were platitudes. I can imaging the type of speech the honorable member would have made had he been in my place. My remarks may have been platitudes, but they were commonsense platitudes. His would have been the wild platitudes of the Communist or Socialist, which mean nothing to sane minds, but carry away those who do not understand them. If we are to have platitudes, I prefer them savoured with a little sanity rather than those which the honorable member would have uttered. The honorable member repeatedly said that the combination now in office is without common principles or’ common ideals, and was brought about merely for the purpose of keeping the Labour party out of office. That is quite absurd. The two parties that have comobined have common ideals and a common basis, and we shall endeavour to carry through a programme which represents those ideals. But even if that were not so. I think it would have been very proper foi1 the parties on this side to combine if for no other objective than to keep the present Labour party out of power. Some things are so terrible to contemplate for Australia that almost any preventive action would be justified. One of those possibilities is the advent to power in the Commonwealth of the Labour party as at present constituted. I had a very considerable respect for the Labour party of those days of which the honorable member for Bourke spoke, which put upon the statute-book some admirable measures.
– Most of the men who placed those measures on the statute-book are in the House now, but the parties opposite have kicked out all but two of those who went over to them from the Labour party.
– Order ! I ask honorable members to resist the temptation to interject
– I repeat that I had a very considerable admiration for the Labour party of days gone by. and the things for which it stood. Honorable members opposite flatter themselves if they think that they are anything like the old Labour party, or that their proposals resemble the principles for which Labour stood in years gone bv. In those days the Labour party stood for great things, and was not dominated by outside and - sinister influences. To-day the position is very different. I say quite frankly that. while the Labour party is in its present position, and stands for those things that are forced on it from outside, I am going to do everything in my power to keep it out of office. I am sorry to have to say what I must say about the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), but he said much about the party on this side, and I must point out that honorable members opposite are not so blameless as he might suggest. There is- one phase which I desire to mention for the consideration of the honorable member. We all know what the Labour party stands for to-day. The party makes no disguise of the fact that it stands to-day for what its programme says - the socialization of production, industry, distribution, and exchange. I presume that, should the Labour party come into power, honorable members opposite are prepared to carry out their own programme.
– Hear, hear!
– Then it is to be regretted that the honorable member did not tell the country what his party’s programme was. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) went up and down the country and made many speeches. I have the greatest admiration for those speeches, because he skated over such thin ice that it is almost inconceivable that he did not go through. This, however, did not. happen; the honorable member evaded all the dangerous subjects and avoided all mention of the real objectives for which his party stands’. The present Government may have some demerits - personally, I hesitate to believe it has - but they and their supporters certainly had the courage to tell the country what they stood for and what they believed in. There are quite a number of gentlemen opposite who did nothing of the sort. I free the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) from any such charge, as he never hesitates to say what he thinks. He not only says it on the platform, but has also put it into books, and I have in front of me ‘one of his very frank utterances in regard to a policy for Australia : -
No skin-plaster legislation, no mere policy of alleviation, will meet the position. Revolution in action and method is the one saving instrumentality, the sole alternative to a long grinding period of absolute slavery, I make no apology for this statement. . . ‘ Australia is moving to the crisis- *
At least I admire my honorable friend opposite for thus declaring what he thinks and stands for.
I now desire to deal with some of the questions as to which the honorable member for Bourke says that the Government could have solved them in a day and submitted to Parliament a policy in regard to them. If, however, the honorable member will consider those questions for a moment - and remember that I am not” so fortunately placed as he is in having his policy made for Mm - he will see that the Government was in considerable difficulties in attempting its task in the period allowed. I wish, first of all, to deal with the question that I mentioned in Adelaide, and which appears to have caused such intense pain to the ‘honorable member for Bourke. He did not like my referring to the Empire and Empire defence. I suggest to him that it is the most vital question of all, seeing that Australia’s defence is wrapped up in the question of Empire defence. It is useless for the honorable member to talk of all those great ideas and ideals of Socialism that he would bring into force in Australia, unless he takes the first necessary step, namely, to assure Australia’s safety and the integrity of the territory which we govern to-day. That is why, I take this subject first. It is, as I have said, the most important question that faces Australia to-day. There is, I think, not one of us, certainly not any of us who came into close contact with the recent war, but is determined that there shall be no repetition of that tragedy if we can avoid it. I think there are few of us- who do not believe absolutely in the reduction of armaments as far as it can be brought about and a minimum expenditure even on defence. Expenditure for war or warlike preparation to-day is not to be contemplated in any civilized country, and even for defence we must consider what is the minimum compatible’ with our safety. But within those limits it is a sacred obligation on us to provide for the safety and integrity of the country we are called upon to govern. It is a question of the- defence of Australia, and we can only defend this country if we are inside the Empire, and if we have the assistance of the Motherland and the Empire as a whole. I believe in the League of Nations. Some day I believe that that League is going to insure the peace of the world if it gets the support it should from all the nations. But that hour has not come, and we have to-day to preserve our safety. To attempt this task alone, and not under an Empire defence scheme, is to court disaster, and the cost of the attempt would place a paralyzing burden on the people of Australia. I ask honorable gentlemen opposite to turn their minds to the importance of this great question. I know there are some men I shall never convince, and I know also that there are some who realize these facts, but have not the courage to state them. But I appeal to every man who has courage and vision to realize the importance of the question. The Government believe that to-day, for the discussion of the question of an Empire naval defence scheme, consultation between the Dominions and the Motherland is essential ; and if an Imperial Conference is not summoned, Australia will press for one at the earliest possible moment, believing, as we do, that the formulation of a common scheme of defence is vital to our safety and our whole future welfare. “Wrapped up in the question of Empire defence, is the question of Empire foreign affairs. There are some in Australia who think that we can be a law unto ourselves - that we are 12,000 miles away from. Europe, and need not worry about what happens in other parts of the world. I remind those who take that view that the distance of 12,000 miles did not save us from being involved in the late war, nor will it save us in the future. We have to try to insure that any Empire foreign policy for which we must bear responsibility is one to which we have assented. With full appreciation of the responsibility for what I am saying; I suggest that this question to-day is not in a satisfactory position, and that, unless some better arrangements can be made, the position of an outlying Dominion like Australia will become intolerable. If we are to take any responsibility for the Empire’s foreign policy, there must be a better system, so that we may be consulted and have a better opportunity to express the views of -the people of this country. This is a matter that will have to be considered at the Imperial Conference. We -cannot blindly submit to any policy which may involve us in war. We want to know where we aire going. Another great question of vital concern to the safety and welfare of the Empire is that of com.munications - wireless, shipping, and all means of communication between Australia and the Motherland. These are problems which come first - our safety must stand before everything. When that safety is assured we may then consider schemes for the betterment of our internal condition, but not before.
As to the other question, that of Empire trade relations, the ‘Government regard it as of paramount importance. We all realize the .great .change that has come over Australia’s position during the last, few years. Before the war ‘we had ‘the whole world as our market ; .ova surplus production was small, and no .difficulties presented themselves in its disposal. During the .war, however, the whole position changed,, ,and .to-day we ,are faced with a very different problem. Gur production has increased, and we hope will go on increasing. To-day %we <hav(e <a great -surplus to dispose of, and it is useless to go on producing unless w.e have Markets. I venture to suggest that there has been too much stress laid -on production, and .not quite enough concern about markets for the .disposal of our (products. These two questions walk hand in Shand, and to solve one we must (first -solve the other. The solution of the problem of ;the disposal of surplus production is more difficult today than at any -.©titer time in history. We ail know the financial conditions that have followed as an .aftermath of the war. A great number of nations which an ordinary course would take our surplus production are to-day so situated financially that it is impossible for us to trade with them. While our production has increased, and -the surplus we have bo -dispose of is -greater, our markets to-day are very greatly restricted. There is really only one sound way in which we oan solve this problem, and that is by improved economic relations -within -the Empire itself. As honorable members know, Australia has entered into a reciprocal treaty with the Dominion of
New Zealand; -we have carried on negotiations with the Dominion of Canada for a reciprocal agreement, and the Government hope that as a result of the visit of Mr. Robb, .the Canadian Minister for Customs, some satisfactory progress will be made. If these two agreements are entered into they will be helpful, but we must have something more. It is to the Motherland we must look primarily in considering the question of markets and the disposal of our surplus products. The position to-day is that Australia has given a great preference in her markets to British trade and commerce, a preference certainly greater than the Motherland would ever have felt justified in asking for herself. It is true, perhaps, that we expect from the Motherland some additional consideration in return for what Ave have done, but we realize her vast and very great -difficulties. However, the Government feel that if the suggested Conference ‘be held, the visit of -Dominion statesmen and the holding of the Conference may create an atmosphere which will render possible the carrying through .of arrangements which to-day appear to be beyond the realms of practical policy. For that reason, -and believing that this question of the marketing -and disposal of our ‘surplus products is -more vital than is any ‘other, Australia welcomes the idea of the Economic ‘Conference, and if it be he-Id the Government will see ‘that the ‘.Commonwealth is properly represented.
I have had to deal with these matters at some length, ‘but they are of paramount importance. In addition to the external Australian problems for which we have to find some solution, I would like to deal briefly with some of our internal problems. I do not propose to present the Government’s policy, but in view of the suggestion that in a short period of less than three “weeks we could have taken over the Departments, made all the necessary arrangements, framed our policy, and presented it to .the House as a whole, it is only fair that I should lay before honorable members some of the problems we hav,e to solve. First, I take those -concerning the Territories over which the Commonwealth presides, as against those matters which in- volve the Commonwealth and the States. The Northern ‘Territory problem has been with us for some time, and irrespective of what we may think of it, it remains. It is a fact - a problem that must be solved. We have to hold this gateway into Australia from the north. We must attempt to populate it and try to develop it.
– We cannot hold it unless wepopulate it.
– It is quite true that we have to develop it and populate it in some way, because it is imperative that we should hold it. The position in the Northern Territory was very closely considered by the late Government, and as far as opportunity presented itself has also been considered by the present Government. For some days past the Minister for Home and Territories has conferred with representatives of the pastoral and mining industries in the Territory. The whole question has been considered very closely. The Government are quite clearly of opinion that the only way in which this portion of Australia can be developed is by concentrating efforts on the development of the. pastoral and mining industries. People have had visions of turning this Territory immediately into a great agricultural country even with small holdings, but the present Government do- not believe that the position can. possibly be handled in this’ way. We realize that development must follow through the improvement of the pastoral and mining industries.
Wrapped up in this problem is the question of the tenure under which land is held. There are some- leases held under the old South Australian laws; others are held under. Commonwealth ordinances. The Government think that the solution of the trouble lies to a large extent in the alteration of. the leases at present held, by means of which subdivision will take place. A more complete, or, at all events, a. more adequate stocking than at present is necessary in the Territory. Transport and communication facilities must also be improved. That, of course, embraces a better scheme for shipment from the Territory at some point yet to be determined; also railway development, and provision for roads and additional stock routes. I put these points forward because we have been challenged that we could have put forward a policy in regard to these very greatthings within a few weeks. This is the first internal problem I want honorable members to consider. The Government will say what they propose to do in regard to the Northern Territory when they submit their policy.
In regard to Papua and New Guinea, we are obliged to develop the mandated Territories according to the lines laid down by the mandate we have received. It is a complicated question involving considerable ‘ difficulty in regard to the expropriated properties. Great efforts have been made for some time to dispose of these properties, but they have not been disposed of, and some alteration may have to be made in respect to the terms on which the Government are willing to sell. The problem of the mandated Territories involves the question of the protection of the natives. The Government have, as one of their basic ideas, the determination to carry out to the letter that phase of the mandate: Australia has received which, contemplates the fair, just, and equitable treatment of the native population..
With regard to the Federal Territory, embracing the Federal Capital, the Government are perfectly clear as to where they stand in this matter. They believe that the establishment of the Federal Capital on the basis accepted in the original compact must be honoured. Before the war it was contemplated that the Commonwealth should build at Canberra a capital with monumental buildings, which would stand for all time, and constitute a worthy metropolis, for the great nation of Australia. But the war, which altered many things, rendered the carrying out of that original plan quite impracticable. Consequently the position was. reviewed, and a means of honouring the obligation without putting an intolerable strain upon the finances of Australia was arrived at. Under the present plan the Capital’ will be gradually erected, and as soon as- possible rendered habitable- for the carrying on of the government of Australia. The Government are very clear on three points: Firstly, the work of the Federal Capital- must proceed smoothly and evenly; money must be made available so that it will be a continuous job. Secondly, the Government believe that the Federal Territory and the building of the Capital should be placed in the hands of a Commission, somewhat on the lines of the Commission which administers the Federal Capital of Washington, in the United States of America. When, we submit our policy, we shall submit such a scheme to Parliament. Thirdly, we propose to encourage private enterprise to come in and help in the development of the Territory, and in the building of the Capital. We do not think that the whole of the work should be carried out by the Government itself.
May I suggest to my friends - who say that we could have produced our policy here and gone ahead with legislation - one thought in regard to this matter. It is not the work of a week or of two weeks to prepare the whole basis upon which we would propose to hand over a great undertaking of this character to a Commission which would be responsible for the future conduct of such an important matter.
The next point to which I wish to direct the attention of honorable members relates to matters involving the Commonwealth and the States. The first of these questions is that of immigration. I need not remind honorable members of the position in regard to immigration and land settlement. They are all familiar with the fact that, with the exception of the territories to which I have just referred, the whole of the land in Australia is in the hands of the States, and that the States control this side of the question. I remind them, however, of the necessity for getting people into Australia, and I can tell them this much of the policy of the Government, that we intend to press on with immigration. It would be simplicity itself to have made a policy speech which merely indicated that we proposed to do this. The question is how it is to be done, and the consideration of that, I suggest, is a matter which will take a little time. Within a fortnight no Government could have taken the whole of this immigration position, examined what has been done in the past, ascertained exactly where it stood in relation to the States, formed its opinion on all that has already been done, and formulated a policy for the future. Yet that is exactly what is suggested should have been done. The suggestion is absurd. The Government propose to consider the whole question of (immigration. At the conference with the States, to which I have already referred, we propose to review all that has been done up to date, the agreements entered into with the three States concerned, the position of the British Government in respect to the matter, and the assistance it is prepared to give. When we meet the House, and set out our policy, we hope to be able to say clearly and exactly how we propose to bring about a steady flow of settlers. There is much talk about its necessity, but we find that there are really few people who pay much attention to it generally, and very few who consider particularly how the result which they desire may be brought about.
The finances of the Commonwealth and of the States will form another matter for consideration at the Conference. The Common wealth, and each of the States, conducts its own finances, both with regard to revenue and loan. There are too many people in Australia who seem to think that Commonwealth and State finances are entirely separated. The credit of Australia is the credit of tho Commonwealth and of all, the States. It will be for us to try to insure that our finances throughout the whole country shall be conducted on the very best possible basis, because a weakness in any link is a source of weakness in the whole chain of our national credit. The necessity for our credit to-day being placed upon the very best possible basis will become apparent to all when the Conference is held. I do not propose to set out the figures at this stage, but the Commonwealth authorities will place before the Conference the full and exact position concerning existing loan commitments - nob the loan commitments of any one State, or of the Commonwealth alone, but of Australia as a whole. We intend also to set out details of the loans which are to be converted between the present date and 1930. It will be an excellent thing that Australia’s national position, for once at any rate, should be presented as a whole, so that we may all take stock of the real facts, and per- ceive precisely where we stand. Those facts, when they shall have been made known, will, I think, prove rather illuminating. At the Conference we shall have to deal also with the question of the future borrowing policy of Australia. The best policy in the interests of Australia as a whole would be to have one borrowing authority. The next point is that we should have a uniform basis for raising loans. At present a quite impossible position exists. The Commonwealth has laid down definitely as its policy that it will not issue tax-free loans ; the States to-day are issuing tax-free loans. The Commonwealth, while it does not tax State loans, taxes its own loans, and the result is that the whole of the moneys available for investment by people with large incomes will inevitably flow into the tax-free loans. These are the people who should largely provide our income tax, and who should help materially to -support the Government under which they live and have protection. That obligation they can avoid by investment in tax-free loans. Such a state of affairs is altogether wrong, and cannot continue. A loan is supposed to be so issued that .every individual subscriber will get the same return, but as matters stand those possessed of . large incomes are getting a much greater return than smaller investors.
– Save any estimates been made of the amount of revenue which we are losing owing to these State loans being tax free?
– No, but the Commonwealth loses very heavily.
– Both lose, as a matter of fact.
– That is so; but the Commonwealth is the more heavily penalized. We must deal with this matter. I think, too, that the question of arriving at a uniform basis in respect of sinking funds for Australian loans should be tackled with a view to settlement. There is great work to be done by a Conference such as has been proposed, and it is certain that the future actions of the Commonwealth Government will depend to a considerable extent upon the decisions which we may arrive at in the Conference.
We shall have to deal with various phases of duplication of public activities.
The duplication of taxing authorities is a familiar subject. For a long time endeavours have been made to secure some method by which this might be done away with. I do not propose now to outline what has been done in the past in this direction, or in the hope of securing relief; but during the whole of the thirteen or fourteen months in which I was at the Treasury I did all in my power to arrive at some settlement. A satisfactory basis has not yet been secured, but the Commonwealth authorities propose to put forward definite propositions for discussion.
Another matter in regard to which the policy of the Government must depend upon the outcome of the Conference is that of public health. The Government hold very clear views upon the subject. We believe that public health and its preservation are among the most important questions with which we are faced. They are of such paramount importance, indeed, that they should be dealt with on a national basis. We shall be prepared to come to a working arrangement with the States, but we do not wish to carry on in existing circumstances; for that wolli d simply mean further duplication and more waste of time and effort.
The consideration of electoral arrangements need not be dwelt upon now, but that question must also come forward. Specific arrangements are already in operation in two of the States; but for the Commonwealth and the States generally to carry on as at present is uneconomic and unsound.
There will be still another matter for the Conference; and, with respect to it, whether that gathering can provide a final solution, must remain, of course, to be seen. I refer to the application of science to industry. There is, under the control of the Commonwealth Government to-day, an Institute of Science and Industry. That the practical application of science to industry is imperative - if we are to be a progressive country - . cannot be denied. The difficulty, however, is how to apply it upon the best possible basis. The operations of the Institute are restricted. It has had no opportunity to accomplish the work which should be done. That it should have been restricted, however, was only right, for the reason that in this realm, again, there is duplication of effort. The whole question is a national one, and should not be approached independently by each State. It must be handled by the States and the Commonwealth in conjunction.
– I hope the Government will not try to centralize too much.
– I am not suggesting that, but that we should have a method of co-operation. I am against centralization. I favour co-operation and the avoidance of duplicated effort, for only in that way can we hope to achieve anything. The Government will be prepared to seriously bring forward proposals, and to embody their outcome in ‘their policy - provided that we can arrange with the States to do away with overlapping. Thus, again, the policy of the Government depends upon what arrangements we may be able to make at the Conference. 1 Also, in respect of the collection of statistics, we ought to be able to arrange that there shall not be a continuance of duplication.
One further subject is that of the River Murray Agreement and the basis for the development of the whole of the Murray Valley. Commonwealth and States are involved in. the scheme for the looking of the river, and are involved also in the greater part of the plans of settlement proceeding in the Murray Valley. “We must discuss the whole business in order to arrive at a considered policy.
Another matter - again depending upon what arrangements’ we may be able to make with the States- - has to do. with securing uniformity o£ railway gauge. The question is difficult,, but surely every man will agree that it would have been eminently desirable to. have all. our railways- uniformly constructed, and that all future lines, should be. of similar gauge. Further, I think that all. thinking men will agree that at some time uniformity of gauge must be . brought about throughout the continent. We must meet the States and consider the existing financial position, taking stock of the obligations which both Commonwealth and States have entered upon.. When we have that picture clearly before us, we should be able to consider what practical steps may be taken. We must lay down some definite basis; and, if we are not going to proceed with active work a.t once, something must be done to prevent or minimize ever-increasing losses. It must be remembered, however, that, while the Commonwealth pays one-fifth, the States will be called upon to meet four-fifths of the burden. This is a question for the States to decide in the light of their financial position. They must determine at what pace we shall proceed, and obviously the Government’s policy must depend upon the outcome of the Conference to be held with representatives of the States.
On the question of industrial relations, I do not think there is any one, not excepting members of the Opposition, who does not agree that a dual authority is undesirable, and is leading to very serious difficulties in Australia to-day. We have the State tribunals and the Federal tribunal side by side, and neither the employer nor the employee can arrive at finality. It is a position intolerable to both sides. I am not saying anything about the principle of arbitration, or the methods that should be adopted; I am/ merely speaking of the respective spheres of the- Commonwealth and the States inthe matter. The firs”t thing’ we have to do is to determine these spheres;, and that is- a question which will have to be considered, by representatives of the States and of. the Commonwealth when they meet one another.
– That question waa practically settled -between the States and the Commonwealth during the last Parliament. The present Government intends to whittle away the powers- of the Commonwealth.
– That is j(ust what oneexpects, my friend to say; but it is not. true. The desire is to. arrive at a. common basis of understanding, which will- mark the arena in which, the two authorities shall operate. It is said, by some people that this involvesthe question of State rights. It does’ nothing of the sort.. It concerns the’ whole of our industrial order’ and our industrial peace, and it is equally as important for the employee as for the employer. We may be able to settle that question in negotiation with the States. It must be settled, and it is again a matter in which the Government’s policy has to “depend upon whatever arrangement we can make at the forthcoming Conference. I am trying to point out the impossibility of pre? sen ting a complete policy to-day, when there are so many questions which we have to clear up between the .Commonwealth and the .’States. . “We do not propose to submit our policy piece-meal, but as a whole.
Another question which is of great importance, but in regard to which the Government cannot place its policy on the table to-day, is the administration of the Post Office. I am prepared to tell the House how far the Government has gone, and what we hope to do. I cannot state what will be finally evolved as the Government’s policy. That will take time, but I can announce the basis on which we stand. Everybody In this country believes that it is vital for the development -of Australia that we should have efficient and cheap communication. That is an obvious fact. The Government believes in that, -and proposes so to -conduct the Post .Office that it .will give a maximum of .service at .a minimum of cost. First, however, we have to put .the Post Office finances on 1a proper basis. Those honorable members -who heard the Budget speech last year will remember that I dealt with the question of the amount which the Post .Office owed to the taxpayer. Most of my critics tried ,to .point out that the taxpayer owed money .to .the Post Office, but I .think that most of them, haying now had an opportunity to , exami.ne -the figures and discover the actual position, realize that the Post Office has had from .the taxpayer something like £7,0.00,0.0.0 more than it has earned. The Government proposes to leave that £7,000,000 with the Post Office, but to charge interest upon it. That will he perfectly fair, but for , the future ,any surplus .earnings of the Post Office will be retained by the Post Office, without the payment of interest. We propose to proceed with the programme of capital expenditure which - was laid down last year to bring the Post Office up to date, .but we also contemplate giving the Postmaster-General a little assistance in the carrying out of this very difficult task, and also in the ordinary administration of his Department. It is proposed to create a Board, but honorable members need have no apprehension that it -will be a Board which will cost a fabulous sum of money. It will advise the Minister. It will meet at regular intervals, and will assist him with any matters he brings before it. It will’ consist of the engineer whom we recently borrowed from the British Post ‘Office to assist with the constructional work, a member of the ordinary .administration of the Post ‘Office, and an outside business man, who will be brought in, not as a permanent employee of the Post Office, but to sit on the Board when it meets .once or twice a week, according to ‘the Minister’s requirements.
– It appears that the Government proposes to continue -the policy of the last Government with regard to Boards.
– That is- not so, but I would suggest that my honorable friend should think over the position in regard to the Post .Office. This is a great activity for one man to operate. It is the biggest business in the country, and, in addition to carrying on its ordinary operations, is now launching out into an expenditure of £9.,0D.000.0,, covering a period of three years, in great constructional work. If all this is taken into account it will ‘.be realized that the .Minister needs a little help and assistance of the character I suggest.
The Government’s policy is quite -clear in regard to the reduction of postal, telephonic, and telegraphic rates, but it will take time to state the -details .of what ..cam be actually done. The ‘Government proposes to reduce rates as far as it can while still making the revenue -of the Post Office -meet the -expenditure, and ‘while also continuing and extending the facilities which are now given to sparsely populated, districts. The Government is determining how far the rates can be reduced. without placing us in the position of not being able to make our revenue and expenditure balance, or compelling us to curtail or relinquish the extension of non-paying facilities which we give in the out-back country.
As honorable members know, the portfolio of Repatriation has been abolished; but repatriation activities proper - repatriation itself, medical services, and pensions must still go on, and will be administered together. There is the further activity of advances for soldier settlement, which the States actually conduct, but which we control. The Commission which was established will be continued, and the whole of the repatriation activities will be placed under the direct control of the Treasurer. There will be a Minister to deal with them - Senator Crawford - and the position will not be altered in the slightest degree so far as the -care of the soldiers is- concerned. The different activities will not bo scattered, as has been suggested by some people. The “War Service Homes administration is being transferred to the Works and Railways Department. I think honorable members will realize after a little consideration that that is the proper Department for it. I have heard a suggestion made that the Government should appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the past history of the War Service Homes Branch. The Government does not propose to do anything of the sort. It proposes to do its own work in the first instance. It will examine the whole position, and when it meets the House will present the whole facts to honorable members. If there is anything requiring a Royal’ Commission or Committee of the House, the Government itself will propose it, and will ask the House to appoint it. It is the duty of the Government, however, to look into the position first, and form its own opinion of what action should be taken. In regard to repatriation generally, I only wish to say that the Government will, as past Governments have attempted to do, honour our obligations to the soldiers. There seems to have been a suggestion that that is one thing we have not done. The suggestion is not true. We are maintaining to-day, and ‘ will continue to maintain, our policy of preference to soldiers.
The Government has quite realized, and I think every thinking person must have done likewise, that the best possible treatment must be meted out to those who are old, infirm, and sick. This question will be considered by the Government, which will announce quite clearly and definitely what its policy is. It is a matter which obviously must be looked info, and no
Government should be asked to declare what it intends to do in an important matter of this kind within a fortnight of taking office. There is one thing which I, can promise will be done at once. While at the Treasury I investigated a number of anomalies and hardships occurring under the regulations which govern the administration of old-age and invalid pensions. The investigation is now finalized, and within a very short period we ought to be in a position to announce a very substantial relaxation of some of these admittedly harsh regulations, and a removal of some of the anomalies which exist at the present time.
– The Government can do- that before the House meets.
– There is another very wide’ question in which every one is interested, namely, economic and efficient administration. The Government believes in that, and will do everything in its power to’ bring it about. Mere pious expressions as to what one is going to do with regard to efficiency and economy are of very little, use; the Government must be judged upon what it actually does. It does no more now than give the country the assurance that it realizes the absolute necessity for both efficiency and economy. I do not wish, however, to be misunderstood. I am convinced that the country does not desire economy that is brought about by injustice. The Government is determined to do all that is possible to secure efficiency and economy, but it is certainly not going to achieve those objects by disregarding all justice and equity in respect of those in the employ of the Commonwealth. With that one qualification, the Government will do everything in its power to effect these two ends. As to the practical steps that are being taken, the Government’ will proceed immediately with the appointment of the Public Service Board of three Commissioners recommended by the Economies Commission, and provided for in the Public Service Act.
The Tariff is another question of considerable interest. I have seen it suggested in a number of quarters that this is a Free Trade Government. It is nothing of the sort. Neither of the parties constituting it is a Free Trade party. The position is that both the parties which compose the Government believe, as parties, in Protection. The Country party believes in Protection for the produce of the Commonwealth. The Nationalist party also believes in Protection.
– The honorable gentleman’s statement as to the Country party is not in accordance with what that party propounded in the last Parliament.
– The honorable member seems to have in mind the utterances of one individual member. The Government recognises that Protection, is the accepted policy of Australia, and it has<no intention, as some seem to think, of tearing up the Tariff. The Government, however, believes that with regard to our policy of Protection some great factors have to be taken into account. One of these is that the most vital question with which we are faced to-day is the sale of our surplus primary production in oversea markets. I think that view is generally accepted by even the strongest Protectionists. The Government realizes the importance of the question of the sale of our surplus production. It has heard many suggestions that owing to the duties on agricultural machinery and fertilizers, our production is becoming so costly in primary industries that it is impossible to dispose of our surplus in the markets of the world. We propose to refer the question of the duty upon agricultural machinery and fertilizers to the Tariff Board, and to request it to report as to its effect upon the industry concerned. That report will be submitted to this Blouse, and no action will be taken without the concurrence of the House. I think all will agree that it is only right and proper that we should have before us a considered report upon the effects of these duties on the great primary industries.
– .Will the Prime Minister include ‘in the reference to the Tariff Board the question of the duties on mining requisites?
– The honorable member may have any matter referred to the Board; but I am now announcing that the particular matter with which we are going to ask it to deal relates to the duties on agricultural .machinery and fertilizers.
The next question with which I propose to deal i3 that of sugar. The Government recognises that it is vital to Australia that the white sugar industry of the Commonwealth should be safeguarded against the competition of blackgrown sugar, and it proposes to take whatever steps are necessary to safeguard it. I think that, in that determination, the Government will have the support of not a part, but the whole, of the people of Australia. We all realize that the question involves two principles, it involves, first of all, a principle which Australia has adopted, namely, that its industries must be protected against unfair outside competition. We have even protected ourselves in this regard against our own kinsmen of New Zealand. That being so, surely we are going to protect ourselves against the blackgrown sugar industry of other countries. This question involves, secondly, the great principle of the maintenance of a White Australia. The sugar industry which has sprung up in the tropical parts of Australia is to-day of vast importance. Millions of pounds have been invested in it, and it gives employment to a great number of men. To destroy the industry, would be to strike a vital blow at the whole policy of a White Australia. In the action which the Government proposes to take to safeguard the industry, I think we will have the support of the whole of the people, but whether the means we propose to adopt to this end will meet with united support is another matter.
During the Avar, and the post-war period, protection was afforded to the sugar industry of Queensland by means of an agreement which expires on 30th June next. That agreement the Government does not propose to renew. It is an agreement which might have been suitable in the extraordinary and abnormal circumstances which then prevailed; but it cannot be contended that it is right to-day to give to one industry treatment that we are not prepared to accord to another. That we are not prepared to do. What we propose is to deal with the sugar industry upon the basis on which we deal with every other industry, and. that is through the medium, of the Customs Tariff. The question of the amount, of the Tariff will have to he declared by us in our policy, but we shall certainly not arrive at a conclusion that the present import duty is right, or that it is too high or toolow, without a very exhaustive inquiry, and without satisfying ourselves that we are holding the scales evenly between those who produce sugar in Australia, and are entitled to protection, and those throughoutthe Commonwealth who consume sugar.
– What about fruit in- its relation to sugar?
– That is one of the most difficult problems with, which we are faced, and one with regard to which the Government will have, to declare its in- tentions.. Under the agreement, which expires on 30th June next, arrangements were made by which sugar that was required for the processing of Australian manufactures for export and. sale overseas, was granted a rebate.. That was done in order that our manufacturers of jam, preserved, fruit, or anything else might be able to compete on. equal terms in the world’s markets.. The question, as to what action, the Government is going to take so as to still safeguard those industries of ours which are dependent on sugar for the export trade will have tobe considered and declared by us.
T’he amending of the Constitution is another matter as to which I think we areall agreed some action has to be taken. The suggestion has been made that we shouldhave a Convention, and it is very possible that a Convention- will, be held. But at this moment - before I can officially declare the Government policy - I am not. going to say how the amendment of the Constitution should’ be carried out. I shall only say that an early opportunity will be taken to deal with it.
– At the forth- coming Conference of State Premiers-?-
– Individual points might be dealt with at that Conference, butt I am referring- now to- the whole question of the amendment of the Con- stitutiion.
I propose now to deal, with the Commonwealth Government. ShippingLine Honorable members, know what is the position to-day. They know that the. Commonwealth Government Line is in exactly the same position: asthat occupied by every other shipping line in. the world. The values ofshipping have de- preciated enormously, and all tonnage which was either purchased’ or built during the inflation period represents.’ today a very heavy loss to the owners. I would remind a number of people- inthis country that the Commonwealth Government Shipping Line is not the only one that is faced with heavy losses owing to depreciation and’ to the fall which has occurred in the world’s markets since the wax ceased. It is, however, a direct problem: with which we are faced. The Government is now taking action to try to arrive, in the first place, at what- is the true value of the shipping we own to-day. When we arrive at that value the- present value will have to be written down. It is impossible to carry on with our ships, capitalized, at a value they could, not realize in. the open -market. Mr. Larkin, the manager of, the Line, is coining; to Australia, very shortly,, and) advantage will be taken ofhis visit to finally decide the whole question.. At the moment the Treasuryandthe Line accountants are busily engaged getting the figures into order, so that, when the action, to- be taken by the Government is determined upon, we shall be able to act without delay.
– Has the Prime Minister anything to. say with regard to the control of the Line ?’
– The present Government adopts” the view of the late Government, thatthe Line cannot continue to be controlledby one man more orless under the Government. Thecontrol must be separate and free from’ all1 political influence.
The question; of shipbuilding is another matter of very considerable interest to- Australia to-day. Commonwealth shipbuilding was started during the war. It was carried on by the Government as a national undertaking; but the late Government declared’ that it did not propose to go on with Government- owned shipbuilding yards or to carry on the Government shipbuilding policy. To that policythe present Government adheres.
– That is the deathknell of shipbuilding in Australia.
– The death-knell, so far asGovernment shipbuilding is concerned, was sounded . long ago. The question that the Government is facing now -is whether it is possible to carry on shipbuilding activities in Australia - whether we can induce any one to take upthe industry.The industry, if it can be kept going here, is of the greatest importance. It involvesemployment, and,if wecould establish it, it would invollve increasing employment ;but there is one thing we are not going to do, and that is to carry on the industry of producing ships at a heavyloss.
Ihave rangedover alarge number of subjects, and I think that anybody who has listenedto rayremarks must realize thattheclaim made by the mover ‘of the amendment,that theGovernment should have produced their policy inside three weeks, is nothing but a demand ‘for the impossible. I have tried to indicate some of . the problems with . whichweare faced. Except in respect of one or . two, I have not said how we propose to solve them, because that is impossible without due consideration. I have not stated the Government’s policy - it is impossible to do so;but if ‘honorable members derive any satisfaction from attacking us on that score, they are welcome to continue doing so. Weare not to be rushed into declaring our policy ‘before we have had an opportunity ofreviewing ourliabilities and of surveyingall thoseactivities which were necessary during the war, but which are now gradually disappearing. When we have a chance to review all thecircumstances we shall be in a position to visualize the requirements of Australia as a whole. And having done that, we shall meet the House, and set out our policy in regard to them in the fullest detail.
One other thing I -wish to say before concluding, and that is that, whilst Australiais confronted with great problems, it is in a better position to solve them thanis any other country in the world. It is ina unique position, and has unique opportunities. But as the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) does not approve of my declaring the merits of Australia, I shall merely refer honorable members to some of the speeches which I made recently. Ihavenot, however., previously referred to the present financial position. When I presented the last Budget I estimated a certain revenue for thecurrent financial year. That figure will be exceeded. I . estimated the expenditure at acertain amount; that estimate will be reduced. Thus we have an assurance of increased revenue and reduced expenditure, and at the end of this financial year, notwithstanding the remission of £3,000,000 of taxation in accordance with the last Budget, we shall have, I believe, a ‘biggersurplus than we had on -the “30th June, 1922. ‘That prospect should be gratifying to all -ofus, . and certainly Showsthat Australia, is -in a very favorable position.
I havetried to convincehonorable members opposite that their demand for our . policy at -this stage is -perfectly ludicrous.Of course, I have not convincedthem, and I realize that ‘daring the next fewdays we shall hear more about the ‘iniquityofthe Government in not ‘havingturnedout apolicyat express speed. We must remember, however, that these speeches are merely intended, in -the wordsofthe mover ofthe amendment, as” aposter . and placard “ tocatch the atttention of thepeople.
– What else is the Prime Minister’s speech?
– I have been trying to impress upon -the honorable member . -some of the great problems -of Australia which he, as a legislator, must help us to solve. I amcertainly not attempting to draft anything in the nature of a political placard. The amendment is quiteun- ‘ reasonable; the Government could not possiblyhave produced a policy inthe time which has elapsed since it was formed. ‘The indication I have . given of the problems with which we propose to deal should be sufficient answer to the charge made against us, and my assurance that we shall present our policy to the country at the earliest possible moment, should satisfy even the honorable member for Bourke.
Mi-. SCULLIN (Yarra) [5.28].- The Prime ‘Minister in his concluding remarks really supplied an answer to his own argument. He said that he had not given the House the policy of the Government. There was no need for him to have made such an admission. He ranged over a large number of subjects, but made no attempt to give the House or the country an idea of the policy of the Government. The reason is not far to seek; the Government cannot agree upon a policy. At the outset of my remarks I may be permitted to adopt the usual course of congratulating the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply. Although they are new members they made very creditable speeches, having regard to the fact that they had nothing to talk about. There was not in the Governor-General’s Speech a hint or suggestion, let alone a text, upon which to base their remarks. I sympathize with them ; it was nothing short of refined cruelty to ask two new members to move and second an Address-in-Reply to a speech which was a blank - I might almost say a “ blankety blank.” In the circumstances they did .admirably. May I also congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) upon having made a very long speech without telling the House or the country anything. That is a task which requires a good deal of skill, and for one who has not been very long in Parliament the Prime Minister acquitted himself admirably. I noticed that there was a tone of complaint in his speech. I pass over the superior tone because the honorable gentleman cannot help it, and we are accustomed to it, but I take exception to his complaint against honorable members on this side doing anything that will embarrass the Government. I remind brim of his famous speech at Maryborough, in which he said, “ If Mr. Hughes be thrown out I will go out with him, and we shall put up a stiff fight against those who attempt to run the Government of the country.” I pass by the boast-fulness of that threat, and the breach of his pledge to go out of office if Mr. Hughes was put out - he did not go out, but took his chief’s job - and I draw attention to this other aspect of the statement at Maryborough, that if he,
Stanley Melbourne Bruce, with Mr. Hughes were put out of the Government, those two together would put up a stiff fight against anybody “who attempted to run the Government of the country.” He should not now complain if we, on this side of the House, put up’ a stiff fight against those who are not even “ attempting to run the Government.” Surely we, as representatives of the majority of the people of Australia, are entitled to make a fight against a Government assuming office and immediately seeking to get Parliament into recess for four months without giving the slightest indication of how the country is to be governed. The Speech delivered by the GovernorGeneral is a blank; we are asked to take the Government on trust, and ask no questions.
The Prime Minister charged the honorable member for Bourke with talking wild platitudes in regard to the socialization of industry and those other awful ^ proposals which be said would bring ruin to Australia. I remind the honorable gentleman that long before he entered politics the proposals submitted by the Labour party were similarly described. When we faced the electors in 1910 and placed before them a definite and concrete programme our proposals were described as a wild revolution, which would ruin Australia, plunge the country over a precipice, break the marriage tie, and destroy the sanctity of the home. Every evil that the imagination could conjure up was predicted as certain to happen if the Labour Government should attain to the Treasury bench. The Labour party was nevertheless intrusted with the reins of government. For three years we had a majority in this House - and in another place, and, so far from Australia being ruined by our administration, those were some of the best years of prosperity that the country has known. So satisfied with our legislation were the people that there has been no attempt by those who had been prophets of evil to wipe our enactments off the statute-book. The Prime Minister said, also that if the present Government had no other policy than to keep the Labour party out of office the combination of parties -would be justified. That is merely a policy of negation. He went on to say, repeating the platitudes that we hear so often, that he had great admiration and respect for the men who used to be in the Labour party, for those Labour Ministers who placed on the statute-book some admirable measures, and he gave his meed of praise to the legislation of Labour during 1910-13. In what political camp was the honorable gentleman when Labour was doing those things? Where were he and his colleagues of to-day, when we were placing upon the statute-book those admirable laws which have stood by the country in its time of stress and trial? They “were assailing us as bitterly then as they are to-day. Every one of those measures was described as involving ruin to Australia. Now, those gentlemen profess to have great respect and admiration for the men who did those things, but not for the present Labour party. When Labour was governing and legislating so admirably, where were those members of the Millions Club whom the Prime Minister addressed in Sydney, who cheered him as the representative of the new Government, and who supply the funds with which honorable members opposite contest their elections? There was just the same bitter hostility to the party that represents the workers and Democrats of Australia as there is at the present time. It is said that the Labour party has changed, but I remind the Prime Minister that the majority of those who are in the Labour party to-day were in the House when the measures to which he refers were placed on the statute-book. Many of those who now sit on the Opposition benches helped to formulate the programme which the Prime Minister described to us as admirable. But it is said that a change came over us, and that, although we are the same men, our methods are different. Even allowing that to be true, I ask the Prime Minister, and those who sit behind him, whether he will say that the men who left the Labour party in 1916, and who had helped in that legislation the honorable gentleman eulogized to-day, have changed. They were of the old Labour party, and they had been welcomed into the bosom of the anti-Labour party as everything that was good and noble and patriotic; but, as a reward for leaving the Labour party, and thus smashing it, they have been sent into political oblivion by the people. There are now only two of those members left in the House, and one who was acclaimed throughout Australia as the greatest man the Empire knew hats been thrown overboard, since he was discredited before the country. The day will come when those whom the member I refer to left, and who have a majority of the Australian people behind them, will govern the country and give the people the same, sort of admirable legislation as in 1910-13, and this legislation in its turn will no doubt be eulogized by even its critics.
The Prime Minister repeated the old gibe of 1910 and previous years - the gibe that is used when our critics are not “ game “ to attack the real definite proposals of the Labour party - namely, that we are dominated from outside. What does that mean ? We who represent the great toiling masses of Australia share with them the responsibility of shaping our programme in the’ interests of the country. We are not dominated by them, nor they by us, but we are here as their representatives endeavouring to give effect to the -programme on which we are mutually agreed. I would sooner, however, be dominated - if there be any domination - by the great rank and file of the honest men and women who are the workers of this country than by the Millions Club, Flinderslane, or the money magnates of Australia. The Prime Minister, after making this general charge of domination from outside, placed before us a long list of the problems which faced Australia. I remind the honorable gentleman that the present Government have not inherited these problems from Labour Governments,, but from his own colleagues and party. All these financial and economic difficulties have been handed down by anti-Labour Governments, and these difficulties the Prime Minister and his Government cannob surmount or deal with on their own authority and responsibility, but have to go cap in hand to the State Governments in order to ascertain how they must be met. The Prime Minister was very interesting when’ he said that the Government and the party behind them were united - that they were one in common ideals, and were banded together on a common basis. This, as I have said, was very interesting in view of the emphasis laid by the other head .of the’ Government (Dr. Earle Page) on his contention that the Government is composed of two separate entities. If we are .to judge by -the Governor-General’s Speech, the Government ought, I think, to be described as two distinct nonentities. But it is contended that the ‘Government and their supporters are united on a common basis. They pretended in the last Parliament to be antagonistic. What change has come over them? If they are one on a common basis, then surely, in the name of democratic government, the people are entitled to know what is the basis. We are not .asking the Government to solve all the enumerated problems in a day - we are not .even asking the Government to settle them this session - but we demand, as the representatives of the people, that the basis on which this fusion was formed shall be made known. That is information which ought to have been given in the Governor-General’s Speech, and that it has not been ‘given is the gravamen of our -charge. What is this basis ? What compromises were made’? What election pledges were necessarily broken in order to bring the fusion- about? There has never been an .election fight in which there was, at any rate, so much ‘pretence of -antagonism as that shown between the two parties who are now sitting together in -support .of this Government. Unless this antagonism was all sham I want to know what compromises were made, what pledges .sacrificed, what public .policy thrown -aside in order .to bring .about the fusion. - If the union is based on policy - and it should mot be based on anything else - what is that .policy? This the people -of Australia have not been- told - the public and Parliament are ignored. The Prime Minister himself, before he saX down, said that he had not yet given the House his policy ; and certainly he has not given us the basis on which this Government and party are united. Why .should the secrecy and mystery observed during the negotiations which took place for the formation of this composite Government be maintained in regard to the policy? I remind the Prime Minister and his -Government that this parliamentary institution of ours is not a secret society. The time has arrived when the people should be told what has been done in their name by their Prime Minister. The Governor-General’* Speech is undoubtedly a blank, .and the Prime Minister’s reply to the amendment is a blank cartridge. The honorable gentleman gave a number of alleged reasons why he did not present a policy on behalf of the -Government. Amongst other reasons he gave was that there had not been time to consider a policy; but I ask what were the parties opposite doing during the whole period, of the negotiations? What was the basis of these negotiations? Surely one would think that representative men, when negotiating for the .carrying on of the government of the country, would consider omo thing first and foremost, namely, (the policy -to be followed by the -Government. But on the admission of the Prime Minister honorable members opposite (did nothing right tip to the moment of the formation -of this -composite Government. It is clear that the negotiations must haw* been .based ion -‘something other than public policy. The Prime Minister tells us -that there are large pro’blems to face ; but -every ‘Government has (large problems to -face. Every Government. as -the honorable -member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) said, from the beginning of Federation up to the ‘last Parliament, -was able to formulate a policy and place’ it before Parliament in -a ‘few weeks, although I may add the problems then were bigger than .now. The Prime Minister ‘enumerated many problems in order to make them look like an array of -work to ‘be accomplished; but .the honorable gentleman admitted that he merely indicated the problems without indicating any solution. He may, perhaps, have made one or two exceptions in this regard ; ‘hut, even in the case of these, there waa nothing -definite. As to the problem’ of the Territory, we were merely told that it could not be developed by agriculture, but that the -work must be done on pastoral and mining lines; the honorable gentleman did not tell us how tha* development was to be carried out. The problem of transport, which is a large question agitating the people just now, was mentioned, but nothing was said .as to how it was to be solved. As to ‘the Federal Territory, we were simply told that the work would-be “pressed on.”
Immigration is- one of the burning questions’ of the day, and the shocking way in which, deluded; people are brought to this country is a. grave scandal. Not a word, was said as to whether this, shameful, policy is to be continued, or whether it rs to be modified and work provided for’ our own people before workers’ from overseas are dumped down here. We were- merely told that immigration would be “pressed, on” - not a word as to the method. The question of Federal and’ State finance has been discussed many times since Federation, but the Prime Minister did not tell us anything as to what was to be done in the future. Are we not entitled to know what views the Government are going to express when they meet, the representatives of the State Governments in Conference ? Has this- Parliament _ not a right to discuss those- views ? I submit that we ought to have placed before us the proposals which the Government intend to- submit to- the Conference. Until to-day, we never heard anything of these subjects- or proposals-, although I think they might very, well have been set out in the Governor-General’s Speech. One might imagine that the Conference is to meet round a table, and the representatives sit there until “ the spirit “ moves them. The> questions of health and science, the uniform railway gauge-, industrial relations and so forth, are all dependent on the1 States for their solution. The PrimeMinister told us that these problems cannot be- solved in a day, but, as I have said1 before, we do not ask that they shall be-; all we desire to know is how the Government proposes to try to solvethem. We heard nothing from the honorable- gentleman but platitudes about the- importance of Empire trade. Should the» Opposition, and also honorable members opposite-, be content with that sort of thing- from the Leader of the Government? As to- the postal rates; the PrimeMinister told us’ that the’ Government policy- isi clear. - that the- rates, will be- reduced to- a point which will’, insure- therevenue equalling the expenditure. If that, is “ clear “ it is as “ clear- as mud.” Then/, again, all: we: are-, told about repatriation, audi war services is- that. there ~ has. been a re-shuffling of portfolios; and’ in< the. case: of old-age and other-pensions: ait that, is forthcoming: is, a. little; sympathy1 with a promise- of the best treatment.
What we want to- know, is what- the- Government consider tobe the best treatment. Do they regard it as the best treatment which the pensioners, have been getting in the past, but which we look upon as most inadequate? AH the Prime Minister says is, “That is a- matter which will be considered.” If there is one phrase that has been overworked in the Government’s statements generally, it is this, “ That is a matter which will be considered.” On the Tariff we have an equally delightfully indefinite attitude. This is not a Free Trade Government, they say. I could not imagine any Government in Australia calling itself a Free Trade Government. In fact, no Ministry would’ dare to sit on the Treasury bench and so designate themselves; But there are brands of Protection, and some brands are little better than Free Trade would be to the industries of Australia. The Prime Minister has told us that the National’ party and the Country party are one on the question of. Protection and Free Trade. If the- National wing of this Composite Government hold the same views on the Tariff as the Country party do, the industries of Australia will be in. for a mighty bad time, so far as Protection is concerned. Either one side- or the other must have given way on the question. In: fact, we get a hint that there is to be some tampering, with the Protectionist policy in the statement made by the Prime Minister that we have to pay great regard to the question o§ selling our surplus productsoverseas, and must see that the producers aire not. hampered by Tariff duties om machinery, nnan.ur.es, and so forth. But that is the whole basis of the Free Trade, argument advanced- by quite a number of members of the’ Country party. Theonly statement we; can get from the; head ofl the Government is’ that the matter will’ be referred to the Tariff Board for consideration. We’ have: certainly had- one definite statement in regard to sugar.. The agreement” willi not be renewed. But, beyond’ tb.it, all we are told is” that, whatever steps- are1 necessary wilt be. taken Vo safeguard- the sugar industry-‘.
– To safeguard tha Colonial. Sugar Refining. Company.
– Yes>; the Government pay more regard to the. interests’ of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company than they do to those of the growers.
– The shares of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have risen to £40.
– The price of the shares of that great monopoly has gone up ‘by leaps and bounds since the Government have come into office, because the company have a guarantee that there will be no agreement, and consequently no control over them.
– It is because of the general prosperity.
– That is not so. The honorable member, who represents a Queensland constituency, knows full well that if the Colonial Sugar Refining Company could get back to the days, when they were untrammelled and uncontrolled, they could work their own sweet will on the growers, and force them to sweat the workers in the industry. It is no wonder the value of their shares is going sky-high at such a prospect.
The Prime Minister says that he will not say one word as to what the Government propose to do upon that most important matter, the amendment of the Constitution, in which the people of Australia are so vitally interested. He has indicated that the Government have made up their minds upon this question, but why is it shrouded in mystery, and why are the people not told, what the Government have at the back of their minds on the matter of the proposal to tear up the Constitution or alter it? It needs a great deal of alteration, but I can conceive of its being amended in directions that would not be progressive, but, on the other hand, would be of a most retrograde character. The personnel of the Government would lead me to expect that anything would be likely to happen in the nature of retrograde steps.
Now, having enumerated all these things about which we are told nothing, I come back to the big question confronting Australia to-day, the most serious problem of unemployment, which, day after day, as our amendment states, is being accentuated by the influx of unemployed from other countries. Yesterday, an honorable member .of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister whether he had noted a’ statement in a cablegram published in the press that a dangerous and notorious housebreaker in Britain had been let off by a Court because it was stated he was being sent to Australia. I do not say that because this appeared in a cablegram in a newspaper, it is true; but if the matter was regarded as of sufficient importance to cable out to Australia it was also sufficiently important to cause the Government to1 take some note of it. The answer made by the Prime Minister was that he “knew nothing about at, indicating that the Government are not watching these matters and are prepared to let any one be dumped into Australia. What is the experience of these men when they land here ? If they are lucky they are sent away to a job in a country district at £1 or £1 59. per week. In the midst of the harvest some of them got £1 10s. per week. These are the “ good wages “ guaranteed to them. But when they have been at work foi- a few months and have become a little skilled, if they ask for a rise they are sacked and new immigrants are put in their places. We see statements in the press by immigration officers and by the State Ministers in charge of immigration, that Australia is absorbing all the immigrants who arrive. It is true that in most cases they are absorbed, but in a few months they are transferred to the unemployment market. I have met scores of these men stranded in Melbourne, seeking employment. In many cases they are getting preference over Australian-born. I contest the statement of the Prime Minister that the policy of the Government is preference to soldiers. Their policy, as carried out by most- of the commercial houses of Australia with which the Prime Minister and his colleagues are associated, is that of preference to immigrants wherever possible, very often even to the extent of sacking men to make room for them.
The unemployed problem in this country is serious, and is being added to, because the Government are continuing the policy of dumping immigrants from other parts of the world, while they are, at the same time, parting with industries that would absorb them. For instance’, they have closed the Harness Factory, which, since it was established in 1911 with eighty men, has been doing excellent work, and is still capable of doing good work. Ifc could supply the requirements of the Tramways Board and various other bodies. Its only crime is not that it is not being carried on successfully or doing splendid work, but that it ia entering into competition with private enterprise as carried on by people who are supplying the party funds fortius Government. Consequently it has to go. The Woollen Mills are being disposed of for the same reason. One of the leaders of the party opposite, in discussing the question of the disposal of the Woollen Mills, said that he would also sell the railways of Australia under the same conditions.
What are we to get from the Government? They are silent in regard to most important questions discussed last session for months, scandals’ bo smell f nl that the Government responsible for them were discredited in the country and defeated. We have not heard a word about the wireless scandal, that impudent attempt on the part of a monopoly to get. control of public money. Not a word has1 been said about the War Service Homes scandals.- Not one word has been said about many matters first of all exposed in this House and later on condemned by the people of Australia. The things that led to the defeat of the National Government were virtuously condemned by members of the Country party’, but the members of that party are now silent - now that they are sharing ‘ the loaves and fishes with the Ministers responsible. I would like to ask the head of this Composite Government and his copartners if there is any agreement as to the Government’s policy, because if there is - and there ought to be, otherwise on what basis did the Government come together? - the people ought to have it. There is only one thing that the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) boasted about when he met his own organization. He did not go to them and say, “ Gentlemen, the Country party has won upon the fundamental principles of its policy.” He did not point to anything which he had gained for the: farmers during the secret negotiations which he held with the head of the Nationalist party; his only boast was in regard to the important portfolios which he had secured for his colleagues. The managers managed so well that they got a job each! I notice that the most disgruntled men in the party, those who were the sorest, have displaced some of the old men on some of the Committees. By degrees other little things may come along which can be given to other dissatisfied members. These gentlemen posed here as the Simon Pures of politics, yet the only boast. which they could make was that they had secured this and that portfolio ; not that they had secured this measure of reform, this legislation, this alteration of the regulations in the in~terests of the men who put them there - the men’ who sowed the seed, and ploughed the furrow on the land; not a word about the alleviation of the condi– tions of those farmers; nothing .but that the managers secured important portfolios. I think that it is one of the most disgraceful things that has ever happened in the public life of Australia.
If we cannot be content with their policy - or the dack of policy - we are given to understand that we must be content with the personnel of this Government. I am _ not. going to enter on a personal description of each qf them, but I will show the opinion of some of the Leaders upon men who now are their colleagues. The honorable member for Bourke to-day made a quotation which was contradicted by the Prime Minister. The Melbourne Argus, on 3rd November, -reported the present Prime Minister to have said that the Country party was run by paralyzing leaders, men incapable pf leading; men who, if they obtained power, would lead the country to disaster. I ask the- other half of this Prime Ministership, the Treasurer, seeing that he has had so many secret negotiations with the Prime Minister during the last few months - does he think that the Prime Minister meant what he said when he described the Leader of the Country party as “a paralyzing Leader “ ? Did he mean it when he described him as “ a man incapable of leading “ ? Did he mean it when he said that if the Country party obtained power they would lead the country to disaster? He surely meant it, because such a paragon of all the virtues would not tell a lie; he would not attempt to fool or bluff the electors. He must have believed it. To attempt to fool or to bluff the people of this country is not done, or, as the Prime Minister would say, it is not proper.
Tlie honorable member for Richmond yesterday told us that there were two. leaders. The Prime Minister to-day, supported that view, and said, “ Yet we are one.” One Leader of this Govern-‘ ment described the other as “ a paralyzing Leader,” as “ a Leader incapable of leading,” as one who would lead the country to disaster. The impeccable “Stanley Melbourne “ so described “ the Hon. Earle Christmas Grafton.” Yet to this man the Prime Minister has given the control of £30,000,000 of public money. It is extraordinary !
We have not forgotten -the present Treasurer’s criticism of the Budget last year. Nothing more scathing fell from the lips of any honorable member in this House than the present Treasurer’s criticism of that Budget. Whose Budget? Bruce’s Budget.
The Country party said that if they could only get rid of Hughes, they would do everything. After the secret negotiations, during which the managers were running round the corridors, looking furtively around corners to see if any pressmen were in sight, the one great boast that I heard was, “We have had a great triumph; we have got rid of Hughes.” I said to one man who made” this boast, “ We got rid of him six years ago, and you. had nothing but criticism to offer then. It is a great triumph now, but it was a tragedy when we -got rid of him.”
The criticism which was offered, not of Hughes’ Budget but of Bruce’s Budget, by the present Treasurer, was severe. Now they are sitting together, like Siamese twins, on the Treasury benches. Let us see what was the opinion of the present Treasurer regarding the party into which he has brought his party. On 29 th November, at the Malvern Town Hall, he made a speech in support of a city lawyer in the interests of the Country party of Australia. I quote from the Argus of 30th November. He said, “ The Nationalist party is bound together by no definite principles.” This indefinite, loosely-bound party, without any definite principles, is now united to its former alleged antagonists; because, they say, their principles are the same - they are indefinite. I will quote again from a speech delivered by the Treasurer at Bendigo on 1st December, which will disclose some beautiful contradictions. He said, “ The Nationalist party’s policy is Socialism disguised by a fig leaf. The Country party do not offer election baits, but we are out to develop self-reliance.” After preaching “the gospel of self-reliance, he said, “The Wheat Pool should be financed by the Government. The Government should assist- the primary producers.” I agree with him that the Government should finance the Wheat Pool, and should assist the primary producers; but it is not consistent with his former declaration. The fig-leaf Socialists have now combined with’ the Wheat Pool Socialists, and they are one in opposition to Socialism.
As another sample of the secret methods adopted by this Government, and its policy of “ smother-up,” I refer honorable members to the reply given to a question which was asked in this chamber yesterday in relation to one of the most serious charges that ever has been made in the history of Australia against an Administration. I am not now vouching for the truth of the charge. All I say is that a newspaper in this country, which is worth powder and shot, deliberately made a statement that the Prime Minister of Australia had sold land of strategic naval value to certain Japanese. So serious did the ex-Prime Minister consider the charge that he strove to have the newspaper- proprietors brought under the law governing criminal libel. He took them before the Court with that object, but failed in his object. Then he considered the matter to be so serious that he issued a writ for libel, claiming damages amounting to £10,000. The people were awaiting developments; they were wondering what was going to be the sequel; they wanted to have investigations made so that they might see what truth there was in this serious allegation. Instead of going on -with the action, which would have disclosed the falsehood or the truth of the charge, it was abandoned. Surely it is the province of the Government to tell us first why it was abandoned, and then to say what were the circumstances. ‘But the Prime Minister only says, “I am aware of all the circumstances. The Government do not propose to take the action suggested.” The action- which I asked the Prime Minister to take was that he should make a statement to the public. There may be no truth in this business, but surely -the people have a right to know the circumstances. If the Government are aware of all the circumstances and there is nothing in them, are not the people entitled to know all? If there is a shadow of truth in the serious charge which became the subject of an attempted criminal libel action, then the country is entitled to the facts.
It appears to me that the greatest qualification for office possessed by the members of the Cabinet is to be found in their euphonious Christian names. The collection of names is really remarkable, however; and, in this regard, I suggest that a name of especial significance be attached specifically to those now sitting upon the Ministerial bench who were the Country pan. managers at the recent secret and stupidly melodramatic conferences. I propose that those gentlemen take tq_ themselves the additional name of “Jonah,” because they have been swallowed - not by a whale, however, but by sharks. I could not help thinking yesterday, as they took their places on that side of the table for the first time, that they looked as uncomfortable as an undigested meal 1
In the course of his remarks on Wednesday, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) sought to give an illustration which would fit this composite Government. “The honorable member remarked that the picture depended on the point of view. If we looked upon it from the front it would be found to have a very different appearance from the back view. Now, that is so obviously true that it scarcely required to have attention called to it. The composite Government represents the interests of the farmers and, at the same time, those of the men who farm the farmers. The front view of the Government is intended for the gaze of the farmers of the farmers - the city .magnates, the many interests representative, for example, of the manure, banking, and machinery combines, and the land and mortgage companies, which fleece the man on the land. The shabby and unprepossessing back view is that which faces the unfortunates who plough the land and sow the seed - the farmers who are farmed. As a matter of fact, the Government has two faces; it is a Government which looks both ways. It reminds me of the mythological sun god Janus, who had one face in the front of .his head aud another at the back. When th;s new Government had to reject the appellation “ Coalition,” because of the unsavoury reputation of that word, and had to discard “ Fusion “ and “Nationalist” because, under” those titles, it would also be faced with the probability of disaster, it might have thought of its two-faced characteristic. It might have taken the tip of the honorable member for Richmond, with his reference to a front view and a back view, and have called itself the “ Janus “ Government. When the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Hurry) reminded us of the school days of the Prime Minister we recalled the fact that press paragraphs had mentioned his nick-name, “ Jane.” There is all the more reason, therefore, why we might call this aggregation the “ Janus “ Government.
None of the reasons given by the Prime Minister this afternoon concerning why no policy was placed before the Parliament and people was correct. The real reason is that the Ministry were desirous of gaining time in order that the wounds of certain disappointed people might be healed, and in the hope that some agreement upon policy might be brought about. Their antagonisms were so strong that they required time in which to present some semblance of unity. Although,/ like the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), I could never see any material differencebetween the two parties which have now apparently fused, I see a vast gulf between the people represented by the Country party and those represented by the Nationalists. I see an enormous difference between the Millions Club and Flinders-lane and those who toil upon the land. If we accept the pretensionsof the Country members of the Ministry, we can only say that their alliance with men who have been financed by the money powers of Australia, represents one of the greatest betrayals in our history. It can only be likened to the betrayal of fourteen years ago, when the Fusion was formed; and it is only a little less treacherous than that great betrayal which occurred in 1916. 1 pass over the discourtesy to Parliament and the people of which the Government has been guilty! merely adding that such conduct does not fit the manners of the
Prime Minister as an individual. The obvious intention* to force a long recess, “without informing the people of their intention, is striking a blow at democratic government, and is raising in its place an ^oligarchy.
.- I was pleased to hear the admission of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) that he and his party would have been prepared to link up with all the conflicting clements on that side of the House if only for the purpose of keeping the Labour party out of office. They would have been willing to take such a step because of the awful policy for which we stand ! The honorable gentleman trotted out the old gag about our movement not being the same as of yore. He said that he had held some respect for the Labour movement of years gone by. It is a. fact that our party is not just what it was years ago. We progress with the times. We do not believe in the policy of laissez faire. We are not content with the objectives and achievements of years and centuries ago. We change our scope and outlook with respect to the industrial ;and social conditions of our country ; but, fundamentally, there is no difference. It .is the “ socialization of industry “ to-day; it was “ the breaking of *he marriage tie “ a few years ago. The interests which the Prime Minister and the gentlemen who support him on the Government side , of the House represent have dressed up the socialistic bogy, but the interests .who will be opposed to us in ten or fifteen years’ time will say, “ We respected the Labour party of 1923.” To-day they pick out the characters that have loomed large in the political history of this country and laud them as statesmen, although in their clay those gentlemen were denounced as “ radicals “ and “ extremists.” We had the spectacle to-day of the Prime Minister attempting to put up an argument based on that comparison. I would point out to him, and to those who support him, that he may put that dope over the electors, and may get it accepted by the unthinking people outside Parliament, but he cannot induce members of this House to swallow it. The principles of the Labour party, with its humanitarian outlook, have remained fundamentally the same. Against us_ at the election were a number of parties. There were a few Independents, and men calling themselves by this name and that, who contested the constituencies on different platforms. They- personally attacked each other, and as the political . fight developed it became more fierce. , Now the fight is over; and the Prime Minister comes to us and says, “ We are united on fundamental principles.” He tells us that he has not formulated his policy, and, in fact, does not possess a policy. What has become of the policy he put before the electors? Is he going to carry out the rival policies of the different sections of his following ! How has he dove-tailed them into one another? Was the agreement on which they came together simply a compact for portfolios, and nothing else?
In the Prime Minister’s speech we had a lot of talk about problems. In fact, I thought that I was back at school again listening to my schoolmaster on Euclid. One does not need to come into this House to learn 1$hat there are problems to be solved. What we are concerned to know is what ‘ the Government intend to do to solve them. If the Prime Minister will go outside, he can be informed of many problems. The unemployed man, with a wife and hungry children around him; the stranded immigrant, brought out to Australia by . misrepresentation; the low-paid worker, existing on the basic wage, or less, and trying also to find sufficient funds to combat the greedy onslaught of the . capitalistic classes, who are endeavouring to make inroads upon his wages ; the old men and women, who are receiving miserable pensions of 15s. a week, can all tell the Prime Minister of problems that have to be solved. ‘The man who claims to be able to lead the Government of this country ought to be able to give some intelligent statement of how he intends to grapple with these problems. Having mentioned the problems, however, he placed all the difficulties he could in the way of solving them. Instead of breaking down the barriers standing in the way, he devoted his time to showing that the problems could not ‘be solved. I have never listened to a more pessimistic speech in this House. He mentioned the problem of dual control. Does he in that connexion subscribe to the solution proposed by the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) ? Will he make the Commonwealth subservient to the States ? Is this part of the compact ? The honorable member for Cowper said publicly that it was. A national feeling, he told us, is developing in favour of a supreme National Parliament which will delegate powers to provinces or new States. At this stage in the national development of this country, what is to become of the principle on which we federated - “ One nation, one destiny - one Parliament, one people “ ? If part of the compact was to accept the policy of the honorable member for Cowper, this National Parliament must become subservient to the States. If the Prime Minister proposes, in regard to the questions of dual control, taxation, finance, and other matters, to accept the policy enunciated by the honorable member for Cowper, this country will take a retrograde step. The sooner the country knows of that intention, so that it can organize to prevent it from being carried into effect, the better. The Government ought to have the courage to inform us at once, without losing a moment, whether that is part of its policy and part of the compact on which this composite Ministry was established.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– At the close of last year many ‘matters were needing the immediate attention of this Parliament, but owing to the dissolution, the election, and the necessary time which had to elapse before Parliament could be called together matters’ of the greatest importance have been held in abeyance for three or four months. Now when we have the opportunity of settling- down to the work of reconstruction, the Government are meeting Parliament merely because they are constitutionally bound to do so, and then intend to .adjourn over another somewhat lengthy recess.
I wish to refer briefly to some of the matters which should immediately be dealt with, and which should have been handled earlier had the opportunity presented itself. Industrially, Australia is in a chaotic state, as many of its industries aro threateneed with serious trouble, and it is essential that this Parliament should function as intended. The position of the coal industry in Australia is indeed grave. The Indus trial Disputes Act, framed with the intention of relieving the situation, needs amending in several important directions. In its present form it is not onlyunsatisfactory from the workers’ point of view, but it is unsympathetically administered, and the industrial organizations are not likely to receive proper treatment until that Act is radically amended. In the first place it was intended that there would be a chairman to deal with disputes of a grave nature extending beyond the limits of one State, and we were promised that machinery would be provided under which sub-chairmen would be appointed to deal with matters of a minor character appertaining to particular districts. That has never been done, and in spite of the agitation on the part of miners’ organizations, which have frequently asked that the promises should be honoured, nothing has been done. Mr. Hoare, the secretary of the Northern Miners Federation, clearly shows that the unions are anxious that this machinery should operate so that disputes which are now . accumulating may be settled, and states that a request has been made to the Prime Minister to appoint additional men to act in the capacity of sub-chairmen on the Coal Tribunal. He goes on to say what I have already mentioned, that the unions were under the impression that this would be done. Claims which should have been settled have been accumulating for many months. What is known asthe “ deficiency claim,” which exists in the South Coast mining district, has been unsettled ‘for many months merely because deputy chairmen have ‘ not been appointed. Notwithstanding the pro-‘ mises given to these men by the chairman of the Tribunal that this matter would be dealt with first, the mine-owners contend that the Tribunal cannot deal with it because it relates to only one district, and the claim has been disallowed. In the meantime the mine-owners have filed a claim for a decrease in wages, and- notwithstanding the clear undertaking given that the question of “ deficiency claims “ would first be considered, the Tribunal has placed them aside, and is proceeding to inquire into the mine-owners’ claims, . which constitute a direct attack on the miners’ wages. The whole force of this industrial legislation is being employed to attack the miners and their Federation, and to seriously interfere with the economic position of its members. It is -useless to suggest that sufficient respect is not being shown to our arbitration laws when a Tribunal of this character, created to give at least justice to all, is functioning only in the interests of the mine-owners. The situation is becoming serious, and unless immediate action is taken the Government will be faced with grave industrial trouble, and will be called upon to explain to the people why Parliament is going into recess and the representatives of the electors are having their mouths gagged. We have been informed that a conference is to be held between Federal and State Ministers, and in at least two of the .States which will send representatives a strong feeling exists against arbitration and industrial legislation generally. In New South Wales a Nationalist Government is in office, although the Nationalist party in the Federal arena was defeated at the election. In that State a deliberate attempt has been made to make inroads into industrial laws. In South Australia the same position exists, as the Government of that State are particularly hostile to this kind of legislation. Is this a deliberate conspiracy to aggravate the position and create industrial strife in Australia? If the industrial laws are flouted it will simply be because they have been unsympathetically administered, and because the whole of the machinery is being used to the detriment of the working classes. A deliberate attempt is being made to destroy industrial organizations. We have in this country men who are out to break up our big industrial organizations. They are taking on a difficult task, and a lot of things will happen before they succeed. Impossible although the task really is, there are men who are attempting it. This Parliament, I contend, should be sitting when the Conference takes place in order that the voices of honorable members on this side of the House may be raised, and the forms of the House, if necessary, used to test the opinion of honorable members on such happenings should they come about, as would, appear to bc likely in the very near future. The Government should take the Parliament ..into its confidence. We should know something as to the programme that is to be submitted to the Conference, and we should be here to deal immediately with any situation arising out of it. Surely some honorable members opposite who, during the whole of last Parliament, and on the hustings in December last, declared loudly and persistently that responsible government must be restored, and that this Chamber should be the real factor in the government of the country, will agree with the views to “which I have just given utterance. They told us, during the recent election campaign, that responsible government must be restored, and the rights and privileges of honorable members preserved. That cry on their part has now ceased. We are back again to the old system.- The policy of the Government is to shut up the Parliament as soon as possible, and deal with the’ affairs, of this country by Executive act. In effect, they say, “If we cannot ‘gag’ Parliament in one way, we will ‘ gag ‘ it in another, and that is by adjourning it for several months.” That is their policy.
There are other questions of grave im.portance which make it imperative that the Parliament should remain in session. There is, for instance, the position in the Near East, which is fraught with grave danger to Australia, in common with other nations. In yesterday’s “newspapers there appeared a cablegram in which the hope was expressed that the whole situation would be peacefully settled. I would remind honorable members, however-, of a statement made by Lord Curzon, the representative of the British Government at the’ Conference convened to endeavour to bring about a peaceful settlement of the trouble. When the negotiations with the Turks broke down a. few weeks ago, Lord Curzon, turning to the Turkish representative, said, “ You are sacrificing the chance of peace for matters not worth the life of a single man, or the firing of a single shot.” If that is so, why does the situation remain- unsettled? Did that statement on the part of the British representative mean, that oil was of no value to the Turks, but of great value to the people of other nations? It was in connexion with the situation in the Near East that theexPrime Minister (Mr. Hughes) cabled to the British Government that if war occurred, Australia, with all its resources, would be behind Britain. If the position to-day is that the issues involved are. not worth the life of a single man or the firing of a shot, it must have been the position . at that time, and if, after we adjourn, the bartering that is going on over these trivial things ends by the Turks demanding what they are asking for, and going to war, it will remain for’ one or two men, perhaps for one man, in the Cabinet to decide whether this country should participate in the conflict.
The Parliament likewise should learn very quickly what the Government intends to do with regard to immigration. I asked the Prime Minister yesterday whether he was aware that a man described by the police as a dangerous criminal - a notorious housebreaker - was discharged by the magistrate before whom he was ‘brought on the strict understanding that he would leave England for Australia, taking advantage of our immigration arrangements. A cablegram to that effect appeared in an influential Sydney journal, which is constantly hammering for immigration, and the statement, true or false, calls for consideration and immediate action. The Prime Minister, however, told me that, he know nothing about it. He may not read the daily newspapers - there is no law requiring the Prime Minister to road the daily press - but when either in the daily press or by other means such matters are brought under our notice, the Prime Minister ought to know of them, and should be prepared to take immediate action. I desire now to reiterate the statements made by honorable members on this side of the House as to the way in which immigrants are being treated. I have here a quotation from the Sydney Evening News, of. 27th December last, which reads as follows -
Five ex-service men who emigrated to Australia were charged at Hull with stowing away among the vegetables on board the steamer Opawa.
They revealed their hiding places during the voyage from Fremantle, and stated that they went to Australia believing that they would be assisted, but they were sent to the bush, where the work was” of the hardest.
One said that he received only £7 for a year’s work, and another said thathe had received £21 for eighteen months’ toil.
The magistrate said that he was satisfied that the men had had a rough time, and discharged them.
Mr.LAZZARINI.- The report does not show,but I think the same thing would have occurred in any State. Whether we want immigrants or not, the situation is one that no self-respecting Government or Governments should allow to exist for five minutes. A selfrespecting Government would cease to bring immigrants to Australia at the present time when men are being obliged to submit to such conditions.
Mr.LAZZARINI. - I do not know whether their statements are true or not, but they are worth verifying. Neither the Commonwealth nor the State immigration authorities, however, have worried about the matter. I want to deal further with the policy to which the late Government was committed, and which, I presume, the present Government will continue, since it is really the same, under which large sums of public money are to be expended in bringing immigrants to Australia, as they allege, to settle on the land. In my electorate, within the last few weeks, I have met ten, fifteen, or twenty married men who were engaged in share farming, but had to give it up, because the owners of the land needed it for other purposes. These men are familiar with land settlement conditions. Above all things, they are able to discriminate between good and bad land. They know the class of land on which a man can make a living, and that on which he cannot. I do not know whether such knowledge disqualifies them from obtaining a block of land. If we take the treatment of returned soldiers as a criterion, that is a disqualification. The Government cannot impose upon people who know what land really is worth. Land upon which men can only starve is given to those who do not understand our conditions, and do not know whether land is good or bad. There are thousands of hungry men in the Commonwealth, to-day who can get. no assistance. I have no objection to a proper and scientific scheme of immigra*tion. I do not object to the development of the rural industries of the Commonwealth, but the party on this side contend that our first business is to satisfy every land-hungry person already in Australia, whether Australian-born or not, who is prepared to go on the land and may be expected to make a success of land settlement because of bis knowledge of Australian conditions. We claim that money available for land settlement should first be used to assist Australians prepared to go on the land. I repeat that the land offered them must be land upon which settlers can make a living, as the Government cannot dispose of “crook stuff” to those who know whether land is good or bad.
The Government has been heralded through the pres3 as a, business Government. We have been told that its members are men who understand trade and commerce. The Prime Minister has made much of the business capacity of the Government, and we are informed that the Treasurer is going to sit very tight on’ the Treasury-chest. I bring under the notice of honorable members some conditions which continue as a result of previous legislation, and remind them that the present Government propose to shut Parliament up for four or five months before they propose to deal with tl: em. I have here an extract dealing with trade which says -
All that the Trade Commissioners in the East have written about is what exporters already know - the enormous business done with the East by other countries. Both Mr. Little and Mr. Sheaf have not increased the business between Australia and the Eastern countries by £1.
– The honorable, gentleman must possess his soul m patience a little longer. He will require to exercise a great deal of patience before he gets through with his present ‘ob. My quotation continues -
It is costing the country about £40,600 a year for five years to maintain the expensive trade agencies of the two Commissioners. ‘I lie best thing any new Governmnent could do would be to recompense the two Commissi.ners and save some of the £200,000 the next five years is going to cost
That is not a quotation from a person or organization supporting the party on this side, but from Mr. H. H. Cohen, of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce.
On the subject of external trade and trade within the Empire, to which the Prime Minister referred this afternoon, I quote the following from Mr. J. J. Weekes, of Messrs. J. . J. Weekes Limited, who was interviewed on his return to Sydney recently, and who said, referring to Australia House -
The chief value of our famous Australia House seems to be in its advertising activities for Victoria. The impression that a stranger receives when visiting Australia House for information relative to Australia is that Victoria is the Commonwealth. Coining down from Charing .Cross along the Strand, one catches the name “Victoria,” while the road immediately in front of the building, made out of Commonwealth property, is named “ Melbourne Place.” One insignificant window is devoted to New South Wales, and, when I passed it, all that it contained was two dusty bottles of jam, the labels of which were covered with solidified dirt, asndicative of the industry of New South Wales.
I do not put that forward in any parochial spirit, but in order to show that the largest exporting State of the Commonwealth, and the State which has the largest resources and the greatest amount of capital sunk in its development and industries, is treated by this advertising agency, Australia House, as though it never existed. If our Commissioners in the Near East have not increased the value of exports from Australia to the East by £1, and if Australia House is being used in the way my opinion indicates as an advertising agency, it is clear that the Prime Minister this af ternoon, omitted to mention at least a couple of problems when he was dealing with those that remain to be solved. This House should continue in session and devote itself to the consideration of these and other matters which have been referred to in this debate.
I wish to make a brief reference to the Government itself. We are told that it is a composite Ministry, and that there is, on the other side, a common ground of understanding. We have been told tha* the conflicting elements which so characterized parties on the other side have all been sw».t>t away, but there is still no policy submitted. As a result of the amalgamating of parties opposite, the Commonwealth will be governed for at least » time by the present Administration, and the House is entitled to know the conditions under which it has been formed. The compact arrived at between the parties opposite should be laid on the table, and we should be informed of the reasons and the consideration, for which men who went to the country with such discordant notes and supporting policies diametrically opposed, have in so short a time after the elections become a happy family, and have combined to gag this House by forcing us into recess for as long a time as possible. Early in the negotiations we were told through the medium of the daily press that certain honorable gentlemen opposite had no desire to enter the Cabinet. We were told that all they desired to do was to get rid of Mr. Hughes as Prime Minister, and that, having done that, they would be prepared to support a Nationalist Government provided they were given a big say in regard to its policy. I am told, and I think it is common knowledge, that some of the managers of the Country party were very anxious to get office, and so that the opportunity of realizing their ambition might not slip by, they were even sworn in before other members of their party were aware of what was happening. The Prime Minister said this afternoon that no attempt had been ma’de to side-track or mislead the people. The public utterances of honorable members opposite, and interviews published in the press, prove conclusively that every Country party candidate gave the electors an assurance that if he were returned he would strenuously oppose a Nationalist Administration. It was upon that condition that many honorable members who now support . the Government were returned to this House. If their actions since the election do not amount to a deliberate flouting of the people’s will, I have yet to learn what that term means. This statement made in Sydney by the former Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) just before the present Government was formed, shows what he thought of what was happening behind the scenes) -
I cannot talk to you about what is generally called politics, but which is not reilly politics at all. I cannot relate the .story of the intrigues and those sinuous meanderings, which are a superficial sign of them, however much I wish to do so.
I place on record also the statement by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) during the election campaign -
If he (Mr. Hughes) is cast out I will go out, too, and we will put up a stiff fight against those who attempt to run the Government.
Many statements were made also by the present Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) in condemnation of the Nationalist Government. It is useless to try to make the House or the country believe that the opposition of the Country party was directed solely against the former Prime Minister. The Leader of that party devoted more attention to the Nationalists and their administration than he did to the Labour party, because, I suppose, he knew that if he was to be defeated it would be by a Nationalist. I repeat that -the only possible reason for the combination that has been effected between the parties opposite was the desire of certain honorable members to gain portfolios. Honorable members opposite went before the people with a definite policy. They gave solemn pledges to their constituents. They attacked those parties which were- opposed to them, but immediately the elections were over the enemies came together and agreed upon a mutual sacrifice of the policies on which they had been returned. To-day the Government say they have no’ policy, because they have not had’ time to formulate one. My answer to that is that the only policy which the Government are .entitled to put before this House is that which members opposite advocated on the hustings. If we are to have a continuation of the intrigues which have happened during the last few weeks, constitutional government and parliamentary institutions will be brought into ridicule and contempt. Such actions will assist those influences which are working foi- the destruction of the constitutional system. If ever the institutions ‘ of responsible government are destroyed the destruction will be due to such actions as those we have witnessed lately, the dominant motive in connexion with which seems to be the desire to attain office. The longer the present Government remain in power the stronger will become the hostile feeling amongst the people and their contempt for the laws which the Government may enact. If those laws chafe or become irksome the people will be justified in evading them wherever possible, for the reason that the Government had no mandate from the people to administer or legislate for the country. The party in power is made up of discordant elements - of men who fought each other bitterly in the last Parliament and on the hustings). The Government have no right to be in office. When elections have resulted in a tangle such as exists in this House, there is only one thing to be done, and that is to adhere to the policies upon which we were elected; and if no party is able to govern without a sacrifice _ of its principles, we should go back to our masters.
.- Apparently, honorable members on the other side are dumb. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) said that members of the Labour party had their policy handed to them at the door, and that they had to put it into practice. We do not deny that. We are capable of fashioning our policy prior to coming into this chamber, and we are prepared to fight for it on the floor of the House. It is not wrong to do that; but what is the matter with honorable members opposite? Are they afraid of their own ignorance? Members of the Labour party are prepared to take the risk of being considered either ignorant or funny. I like to meet my opponents face to face. Honorable members opposite do their fighting through the press; they hire men to do it for them. The Prime Minister has facetiously referred to the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), who characterized his amendment as a placard. The people should know what is being done in Parliament. It is hard to explain why only 47 per cent, of the people take any interest at all in the proceedings. If an opening Speech, such as we heard yesterday, is indicative of what we are to expect from a composite Ministry, what may happen at the next election? Oblivion, I should think, for Parliament. The Speech is the greatest insult that has been offered to any Parliament. It was a great insult to the two new members who were asked to make speeches in moving and seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. The task set them -would have beaten Mr. Hughes. We are challenging this affront to the only party that has a policy - a party which, I prophesy, will be intrusted with the reins of government when the . next appeal is made to the people. If this is the best that a composite Cabinet can do, the people will certainly say that they do not want another experience of such a Government, and Ministries of this nature will go the way of all other frauds. I am pleased with one paragraph in the Governor-,General’s opening Speech. It reads -
It affords me pleasure, on this the first meeting of the ninth Parliament of the Commonwealth, to be able to congratulate you upon the sound condition of the trade, commerce, and industries of Australia.
How do honorable members opposite like that?
– Do you not believe it?
– Yes; but it rankles in my mind when I think of the statements uttered in the Conservative press about the “go-slow” policy and the Bolshevik ideals of the Labour party.. Those statements are given the lie direct by the paragraph I have just quoted. It contains an admission that the industries, trade, and commerce of Australia are in a flourshing condition. I well recollect reading in last session’s Hansard a speech by the then Minister for Trade and Customs, who told the Country party that they derived their political existence from maligning the land in which they lived. I have never read a more damning indictment of any party than that. It gave the lie direct to those who maligned Australia and its workers. It was shown that this country was more prosperous than ever before; that there was more wheat, more wool, and more manufactured goods of every kind. Yet our opponents say that if the Labour party get into power it will mean a Soviet Government and the nationalization of the little farm .and the little icecream cart.
If we are to judge Australia and its Government by what happened here yesterday we are surely getting back to the days of childhood. Never in our history has a greater farce been witnessed. The Ministry call themselves an Economy Government; yet we saw two horses with postilions trapesing in front of the GovernorGeneral’s carriage. Does any honorable member think an “ Aussie “ believes in such useless show? “We know what the vernacular of the Australian soldier would be if he were asked his opinion concerning it. I protest against the observance of ceremonials that were considered proper decades ago. An announcement was made that shell-shocked soldiers should be prepared to hear guns being fired on the Domain in connexion with the opening of Parliament. Why the necessity to fire the guns at all, especially when there was a danger of the sounds distressing some of the brave lads who fought for Australia?
– To let the people know that you are going to speak.
– I was sent here to speak, and I am. not afraid to do my job. Nobody will be able to say that I was tongue- tied or dumb, although the composite Ministry is dumb, hamstrung, and emasculated.
I certainly compliment the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, because they did very well considering they had so little material to work upon. I read in the newspapers to-day that “ Colonel “ Hurry moved the motion. I did not know that he was was a colonel when T looked at him. Next we were informed that “ Mr.” .Green seconded the motion. I did know that Mr. Green was a “ digger,” because he shows the result of his war experiences without my asking him. Why was this distinction made? I do not know whether Mr. Green was a private or not, but if the press are going to single out officers, let them also give the “ digger “ the title he had in the Army, whatever it was. Though this may not be the question before us, it is one which comes within the purview of an Australian expressing Australian sentiment. I do not want any one to call me a gunner; I gave my services voluntarily, and hold the country under no obligation to me, because I suffered no injury. I do not plead on my own behalf, but merely refer to the snobbish attitude of others who call themselves “ big Australians,” but are really not so.
I now come to the bride and bridegroom as represented by this composite Ministry. This is a morganatic marriage, and how long it will be before there is a divorce, Heaven only knows ! The bride and bridegroom - though I am not going on a voyage of discovery to find out which is the bride - told each other lies before marriage, and, again, Heaven only knows what they will say when they know one another better. It is a disgrace to governmental life in Australia that such tactics should be adopted. This Government, if we may take their own protestations, are essentially patriotic, and are out to do the best they can for Australia. As I say, this side, which has not a majority, has no desire to get into power; but when we have a majority we shall not hesitate to jump into the breach and do our duty to the country as in the past. I expressed the hope that the strongest team would be selected, acting on tha axiom of an old friend of mine who used to say that whenever one got into a fight it was best to “ take on “ the biggest man, because, if he were knocked out, some credit was obtained, whereas if the smallest man was “ taken on “ and was victorious, there could only be discredit, while if he were “ knocked out “ there would be no glory. We on this side desire to tackle the strongest team; but I ask honorable members opposite if they can truly report to their constituencies that their leaders in this composite Government have selected the strongest men to do the best for Australia. It was a disgraceful thing that was done by the Government and their supporters yesterday. The newspapers are supposed to be able to judge bur ability and the proper way to govern the country, and they say that no Ministry is complete which does not contain either the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) or the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Pratten), or both. The honorable member for Balaclava was a man who, in a sense, thought himself aggrieved. Originally he was a messenger boy at the end of a chain 12,000 miles long, but when he came out of the void into public life there was a glint in his eye of which men were afraid,and he is a man whom the press now acclaim as one of the strongest and most fit to take part in the government of this country. He has wisdom, knowledge, and long experience, and yet he has been “ muzzled “ by the Government, who are supposed to have done the best for Australia. As a fact, the Government know full well that the strongest team has not been picked. They came to the conclusion that both the Nationalists and ,the
Country party were opposed to Labour, and that, as neither party could govern “ on its own,” they should come together and form the strongest Ministry possible. I ask again whether it can be said that that has been done. From my point of view, it has not, and, moreover, the Government have gone out of their province in flouting South Australia simply in order to defeat the Labour party. 1 have nothing to say against the man who was selected, because he may “make good”; we do not know a man’s capabilities until he is tried; but experience and knowledge lay more with others than with him. This is a Ministry supposed to be equally balanced, but I ask whom they have got from South Australia from the Country party. If there is no reply, I shall read an extract, not from the Labour Daily Herald, but from the Adelaide Register. It is a report of a meeting held in March, 1921, of farmers and settlers at Brookman’s Buildings, in Grenfell-street, Adelaide, a tony building where the wool sales take place, and where, I believe, there is a sharebrokers’ “ den.” The extract is as follows: - .
Senator Wilson said the parting of the ways had been reached. He went on to speak about the difficulties of the position of the council, and was greeted with cries of “ Sit down.”
Senator Wilson, thumping his hand on the table ; ‘I will not resume my seat until I have made my position clear. 1 will not bc put down by any disloyalists. The good old flag means liberty, and I will take my stand beneath it. As a Britisher, I claim to have my say.*’
Mr. McMillan (a returned soldier from Taplin), rising, heatedly said - “If you say that I am not loyal, I give you my challenge now to tell you that I am willing to meet you personally, either on the platform or on the green.” (Loud applause.)
Senator Wilson. ; If I Have unwittingly offended you, 1 am sorry, but I have a duty to perform to those whom I represent and to myself, and I tender my resignation as a member of the council and of the association.
As will be seen, the Ministry has dropped a man who knows something of public affairs, and has put -in one who called supporters of the Ministry disloyal. However, I would like the Government to do the best it can for Australia, and I am prepared to give it a “ spin,” though I protest against the intriguing yesterday to get an opponent out of the way. Further, the man selected from South Australia, during last session, when the Electoral Bill, which provided for the grouping of candidates, was before the
Senate, saw that he would be left out in the cold because he had no party with which to be grouped, and he” proposed an amendment in that connexion. How can it be said that the Government are doing the. best in the interests of the country when one of their first acts was performed in secret? Are they afraid of the opinion of the electors concerning the events that led up to the combination of the parties? Surely there was no need for one wing of the present Government, during the negotiations, to leave the train at North Melbourne. That is what they did with me when they took me to Darlinghurst. They carried me from Adelaide to Belair, where they put me on the train, and upon arrival in this city I was taken off at North Melbourne. My father was stricken with paralysis while I was in Darlinghurst, and when I asked to be allowed to go and see him they sent a man all the way to South Australia with me. This man followed me to the hospital and watched me whilst I saw my father die. He even followed me through the streets of Adelaide at 2 o’clock in the morning, while* I was making the necessary funeral arrangements, and next day he followed me to my sister’s house and to the funeral of my father.
– That was militarism 1
– No; it was because I was a Labour man. It was government, according to the ideas of those in power. God knows, I did nothing wrong! Anything I did on the Somali was in the interests of the men,- and probably prevented an outbreak of influenza. I did no man harm, and I had no desire to flout authority or discipline. All I did was to knock at a door and say that I desired to be paraded before the officer commanding. But no, I was a Labour man, and I had to go down. And go down I did - I got sixty days. It killed my father. Then they took eighty days off my gratuity bond. They followed me to the dead end.
– That was economy.
– That was the gratitude of the men who did the “ big things “ during the war. I never asked a favour of any man all the time I was away, nor did I tell any man who I was. But, after all, much the same thing was done in the formation of the present Ministry. We learned that one of the members of the Government boarded the express somewhere out of Sydney in a hurry, dropped off the train at North Melbourne in order to complete the negotiations, and went to the Governor-General te be sworn in. Now the Government are suggesting that we on this side of the House are blocking the business of the country because we want ‘ to know what the Government are going to do.
– And quite right, too.
– Of course it is quite right. I would be recreant to my trust and fail in my duty to those I represent did I not challenge the Government in this matter, and demand to know what they intend to do, and when they intend to do it. Generated in the dark, as this Government was, we do not know what is likely to happen between the adjournment and the next meeting of Parliament. There is no justification whatever for the Prime Minister’s objection to the attitude taken up by honorable members on this side of the House. If honorable members supporting the Government intend to justify themselves before their constituents they will have to get up after I or some other honorable member has sat down, and say what they think of this business.
The Prime Minister has pleaded that the Government have not had time to formulate their, policy. Some of the Ministers, at all events, have been here since Federation was established, and they should not require three weeks for the framing of a Government policy. The Minister for Customs, for instance (Mr. Austin Chapman), if he were allowed to have his way, would not ask for three weeks to make up his mind as to the policy of removing the Federal Parliament to Canberra. After all the intriguing and manoeuvring to get this composite crowd together, vb is an insult to our intelligence to tell us now that the Government, have not had time to formulate their policy. I do not know how His Excellency the Governor-General felt yesterday when reading the Policy Speech, but if I had been in his position I should have felt small enough to resemble a threepenny bit. The honorable member for. Bourke (Mr. Anstey), when moving the amendment ‘to the Address- in-Reply, referred to the Prime Minister’s speeches throughout Australia as a kind of knock at the door and a saying of “ good-day “ in the different capital cities. The Prime Minister knew whose door to knock at. No public meeting was called in Adelaide when Mr. Bruce visited that city to explain how he was going to govern the Commonwealth. I accepted an invitation from the Lord Mayor to meet the Prime Minister, and I was amongst the audience but not on the platform. I heard what he had to say. I suppose it was the usual “ guff “ put out at such gatherings of. “ representative “ citizens of Adelaide.
– All the nice people!
– Yes. I met some of them when I was unfortunate enough to lose my seat in this Parliament some years ago. At the declaration of the poll on that occasion, held at about the same time as that fixed for the reception of Mr. Bruce - mid-day - Mr. Blundell, the successful candidate, claiming to know his audience, said he was glad to see present so many trade unionists who had voted for him. When I got up to follow, I said I was surprised that Mr. Blundell should have suggested that there were any trade unionists at the gathering. I knew pretty well all the gentlemen present, and I knew also that the trade unionists were away in the fields, factories, and workshops, making it pos; Bible for those gentlemen to attend that mid-day meeting and functions like that arranged by the Lord Mayor to meet the Prime Minister when he visited Adelaide recently. There was the President of the Chamber of Commerce (Mr. Clarkson), who was called upon to make a speech. I noticed they had not invited the “President or Secretary of the Trades and Labour Council.
– Admission was by ticket, I suppose?
– No;’ by invitation. You do not drink the Lord Mayor’s wine and whisky at ticketsofadmissiongatherings. I am not complaining. I only want to make clear the nature of the “representative” gatherings that met the Prime Minister in the different capital cities. Much the same thing happened as at the reception of the Millions Club and of the Commonwealth Club in Sydney. The Prime Minister did not meet any of the men who have toiled and moiled to make it possible for the Governor-General to say all that is contained in his Speech. He met the captains of industry; the class of men who own and race motor-boats on a Saturday afternoon on the Port River, where they bash into one another, as they did recently, to such an extent that only one finished the course, and the bill for repairs ran into thousands of pounds. That was the stamp of citizen Mr. Bruce met at the Commonwealth Club. I am not surprised at his hearing them say he was talking to the citizens of Australia. He certainly did not meet the Bolsheviks or those who would talk of (he socialization of industry. But does he dare retrace one of the socialistic steps the Labour party took? He dare not take off the land tax, although a land tax is generally regarded . as one of those things that a Tory Government should handle for the benefit of its supporters.
The Prime Minister has spoken of the defence of Australia. We on this side of the Chamber are as much concerned with that as is he or any other man.
– But he said that he was after the defence of the Empire.
– I ask the honorable member nob to anticipate what I was about to say, because the Prune .Minister did not say everything in one mouthful. He said that the question of the defence of Australia should be considered so that Ve might not have a repetition of the tragedy of France if we could prevent it. He suggests an Imperial Conference to deal with Empire affairs and foreign policy. I do not mind a little bit the holding of such a Conference provided the participants are prepared to do as we in tlie Labour party always advocate should be done, and open the doors of that Con,ference to let the world know what they say and why they say it. If we go into recess after this debate is concluded, andthe Prime Minister is allowed to call this House together in July, he may then be well in London, pledging Australia to a defence policy fashioned by the Chambers of Commerce, the Millions Club in Sydney and the Commonwealth Club in Adelaide, and the country may be dragged into another tragedy; although I must admit it went into the last voluntarily. That has always been the attitude of Australia. It-has never failed in its obligation to fight for Great Britain when that country has been in trouble.
When I was a lad we sent a contingent to the Soudan; when I was a young man we sent men to South Africa, and when the big stoush came on in 1914, we went right into it and saved the Empire, or went a long way towards doing so. Why should we alter that attitude? Do the Government feel that Australia will not stand up to her obligations or duties, or that the people of this country desire to cut the thin red line or sunder the silken cords? No. They want to drag Australia at the wheel of the chariot of Imperialism and into war whenever it is called. on, no matter by whom. That is not the spirit or intention of the people of Australia. If the Prime Minister dares to go Home and promulgate a policy of that description without first consulting Parliament, we shall repudiate it. Heaven knows, the tragedy of recent years was great enough in the matter of loss of life and limb, but a greater tragedy was the way in which the profiteers struck their talons into the” people. I remind honorable members of the offers that were freely made to the soldiers. I remember speaking from the benches behind a Labour Government, and asking the Ministry to be more generous in their War Pensions Act. I said “ Why not pay a man who is incapacitated for life a living wage for the rest of his life?” and Bill Higgs, who was then Treasurer, . told me that the Government were going to give a pension of 30s. instead of £1 per week. I said then that the day would come when men would stand in Bourke-street with placards on their chests bearing the words, “ I was injured in the Great War of 1914”. It has come pretty close to that state of affairs already. At one time during the war a poster displayed a hat, with the words, “ Does this fit you ? “ But what bit me most was the taunt thrown out to those eligible and fit to go, “Daddy, what did you do in the Great War 1” I would like some of those who are accepting the emoluments of this Parliament and who were eligible and fit to go, to be asked “Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?” The answer would be, “I stopped home, my boy, and bled the wives and kiddies of those who went. That is why I have a motor oar for you to ride in.’”
I do not want to see the- tragedy referred to by the,” Prime Minister repeated, and if my voice or my vote could prevent such a repetition it would be freely given. 1 do not want to be called a coldtooter When the late Dr. Carty Salmon asked me what I had done to assist recruiting, I said, “Nothing; I am not going to ask a man to do a job that I am physically fib and able to do. I am not going to ask a nian to go away and take a risk that I am able to face.” 1 was then forty-six years of age, and I thought it was a bold utterance for me to make from a soft chair, and that I ought to stand up to it. Therefore, when I went home, I told my wife that I had business to do for Mr. George Pearce in Currie-street. She asked me what it was, and I told her that I would let her know afterwards. 1 then went away and enlisted. I might have been wrong, but I thought we were fighting Imperialism. I recollect a gathering in the Queen’s Hall here, at which honorable members sang as a parody on “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, “It will be all over with ‘the Kaiser when Ryrie gets there.” Is it all over with the Kaiser? Did nob the big guns who engineered that fight pay the Kaiser £100,000 for bis memoirs and print it in the very papers that- had hounded him down ? It was not the Kaiser they wanted. They could have got him. But they did not want Imperialism stamped out. It is too good an avenue for making big profits. I am quite justified in declaring that the Government have no right whatever to put forward a scrap of paper and tell us that there is to be an Imperial Conference and yet not tell us what is proposed to be done at that gathering. For myself I am very much afraid that Australia may be pledged to another tragedy in which it would suffer the loss of another 60,000 lives. The Government are not justified in terminating this session without giving an assurance that the House will meet again at a given date, and not “ as early as possible.” If the Prime Minister is shipwrecked it may not be possible for the House bo meet until next year. It may be necessary to form another composite Ministry and get another “ bride “ or another “ bridegroom.” So far as we are concerned we shall not allow this to be done without a protest.
Now I come to the reference to Empire trade relations. This strikes me as being very funny. I am prepared to admit to all sorts of ignorance. Can any one tell me what the Commonwealth Government has to do with making profits for Flinders-lane ? We, in South Australia, have had a Trade Commissioner, and also an Agent-General from time immemorial, and always we claim that it is the best man who is sent home. As in the case of the Governors, every one who goes is asked, “Will ye no come back again?” What I want to know is, when any appointment of the kind is proposed who is going to do the job, and what are we going to get out of it? We have over there our High Commissioner and our Agents- General doing the one job. Yet Sir Henry Barwell goes Home on a flying visit to see whether the old place is where it used to be and, incidentally, to have a look at the battlefields which he never trod while the fight was on, and in the brief period during which he is in London he is able to discover that the people out here do not know how to pack the fruit; that the labels are no good ; that it is second-grade dried fruit. He can bring home a parcel, dump ib down in the Adelaide Town Hall, and say to the fruit-grower, “There is the reason why your trade has fallen off.” Are we going to spend more money in sending these duds home? When I was here before it was always a mystery to me what the High Commissioner did to justify his job. I know that he guzzles to a great extent; he is at every soiree that may take place in London. I have read of the wily member for Wakefield having discussed the High Commissioner’s office, and I have learned that honorable members opposite have said they could find no justification for continuing the office. One honorable member said of the High Commissioner’s office that a shrewd business man living in a small villa on the outskirts cif London could do the job at about onetenth the price it costs to keep Sir Joseph Cook there, and that he would do it far better for Australia.
– Who said that?
– I do not say that the honorable member said it; he said that he could hot understand what good the High Commissioner’s office was. I know that he was about as keen on the High Commissioner as he was on Canberra.
I want to know from the Prime Minister,- who is a Flinders-lane merchant, who he is going to get to do the job; and, .when be has got him, how is hegoing to judge the results ? I saw in the Sydney Bulletin or Smith’s Weekly a reference to Mr. Little, who receives £2,000 a year. ‘Somebody said that he waa wasting his time in Melbourne for months and months. Nobody here cared. He went to China, and he told us the very same tale - that tins have gone over to China with nothing in them ; that there were cases containing a shortage of tins; that the very people who wanted a trade opening did not know how to take advantage of it when it was made available to them. I do not know whether they are rogues or fools; it must be one or the other, because some cases are -marked to contain four dozen tins of jam and they contain only two dozen. Before this question of trade relations is passed over in the airy manner in which the Prime Minister would have it passed over, I want to know what does the term “ Empire trade relations “ mean ? What effect is it going to have, and who is going to pay - the tradesman or “dummy”? I am, out to represent “ dummy.”
I now touch on a subject on which I feel rather keenly - the Northern Territory. The Prime Minister said, regarding the Northern Territory, that there would have to be an alteration of pastoral and mining leases, and that transport and communication facilities would have to be improved. When I first came into this House I was as keen about the development of the Northern Territory as I am now. I knew nothing of the Territory, having been always a city dweller, but I tried to find out something about it so that I could enlighten the heathens here, and bring under their notice some of the potentialities and possibilities of that great country, which South Australia kept white for so many years. I inquired at the library in South Australia, but the only work on the Territory that I could get was a dissertation upon territorial conditions by J. L. Parsons, at that time Consul for Japan.. When I got over to Melbourne, I inquired of the librarian here, and he immediately put me on to the report of a Commission, comprising David Lindsay, Mr. Combes, and another gentleman, who, in 1908, went through the Territory and took evidence regarding the three routes pro- posed for the building of the railway. They reported in favour of the direct line. Why this economy Government should have sent the Public Works Committee up there when all that’ information was lying at hand in the Library, printed by command of this House, I am at a loss to understand. It was emphasized in evidence before that Commission that if the transport facilities were improved, and the freight were reduced by the building of a direct line, nearly every pastoralist up there would be prepared to forgo half, or even threequarters, of his holding, because with the building of the line through the Territory they would be able to carry on with a lesser area.
The Prime Minister said that communication facilities would have to be improved, that some railway development would have to take place. Do honorable members think that I, as a South Australian, am going to rest content without knowing something about what this railway development means? I would not be doing my duty for the money I receive, I would not be worthy of the confidence that has been reposed in me by my constituents, if I allowed this House to rise without placing on record my opinion that you have toyed with the Territory for too long. You have fooled it. You are building Canberra - a big mighty city. What are you going to get out of it? Perhaps all the “guns” might go there; it would be easier for them to pick the pockets of members of Parliament than of shrewd business people. Every man asks, “ When shall we meet in Canberra?” When shall we meet in Port Darwin for the development of this land? When shall we have our railway right through? You have had Commissions galore. You have sufficient knowledge if you care to do the job. I am prepared to promulgate a scheme for carrying it out if you so desire, and it will not cost the Commonwealth a penny. I noticed a question on to-day’s business-paper, in the name of a Labour member from New South Wales, who wanted to know whether the Government had given consideration to the matter of linking up Sydney with Darwin by way of the CondobolinBroken” Hill railway. Where is the “joke? What is the move? Do the
Government intend to repudiate their contract with South Australia? I ask the Canberra advocates in the Ministry, what of the compact with my State? In the construction of the North-South railway, we look for something which will prove immensely valuable to the Commonwealth, something which will pay, something which will be really developmental, something which will help to keep Australia white. But South Australia has to be “very careful; she needs to be wide awake. I remember a threat to build a line through Camooweal to the Territory. The North-South project represents the biggest national work which the Commonwealth Parliament could authorize to-day. .lt would prove more advantageous to Australia, it would be a far better and a bigger thing than the building of the East-West line. Before they get into recess, I desire to ascertain the bona fides of the Government. If they wish to bring about the comprehensive development of the continent, they will not only adopt the recommendation of the Public Works Committee to continue South Australia’s northern railway as far as the Macdonnell Ranges, but will carry the construction right through to Darwin.
With respect to the Federal Capital) I can only say that if the Ministry - including, as they do, such prominent advocates of Canberra - have not found time to frame a policy, then God help Australia ! 1 would like to see Australia more tully populated, but I hope there will be no attempt to introduce any other nationality until we have exhausted the emigrant resources of the Old Country. About forty-five years ago, I came out here as a “ Pommy,” and I do not think T have proved a bad sort. I prefer that our new citizens should be immigrants from Great Britain. But do the Government know that the existing immigration policy is being abused? When I was secretary of the Labour party in South Australia a lot of these newcomers flocked to the labour office. They knew where they could find a friend, and get a little advice, and sometimes necessary succour. I remember one little Scotchman coming to me. I was so impressed with the truth of his story that I was instrumental in having it published in the pres3, and, following the publication of the facts of his case, another Scotchman - a shipbuilder - got him a job. Afterwards, this young fellow went to Iron Knob, where he worked for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, and proved himself no sluggard. Ho had been brought out from the Old Land, and handed over to that apparently negligible body known “in Perth as the Ugly Men’s Association. They sent him up to the Wyndham country.
– The members of that association are very decent citizens.
– If they treat all the immigrants who are committed to their care as they treated this young .Scot, they ought to be prevented from taking a further hand in the settlement of their country. At Wyndham the newcomer worked for 25s. a week, but it was not until he had put in a fortnight that he discovered what his wages were. Then he said he would not stop there for the money ; he could have done better in Scotland. He “got the boot,” and walked down from Wyndham to Perth, working on the way for others, at the same wage. By boat, he came over to South Australia with four others. The four were “pinched” at Port Adelaide, but he got ashore by changing clothes with a grimy fireman. And so he got a decent start at last in this new country. So long as we have Australian-born out of work, and so long as we have our own landseekers on our hands, the Government have no right to bring out others, either from Britain or from any other country.
– When the honorable member has done as much good honorary work as has the Ugly Men’s Association, he will have reason to talk.
– It will all depend on who is judge as to the nature of their work. If what I know of them in this case is a fair sample they ought to be made to quit their job. If the duty rests upon any one of populating this1 country and seeing that immigrants axe fairly treated, it devolves upon the Government that brings them out. Let the Ugly Men’s Association go and hide their ugly faces in a tennis court, and leave the immigrants to those who should see that they are properly treated. There are some facts that ought to be disclosed, and regarding which I demand a statement from the Government, if it is worthy of the name of Government. I want” from, some responsible Minister information regarding the Immigration Department,. Is the Government still paying Percy Hunter £2,000 a year ? Does it still cost £150,000 to bring out 10,000 immigrants? I want to know whether these are facts. I read statements to that effect last year. If they are facts, what’ has the Government to say about them? Who has fallen down on the job? Where are these Empire builders when the Empire wants them? What an awful disgrace it is that the men who saved England for Democracy have now to be dispersed to the four corners of the earth, because the land they saved cannot keep them ! Last week, in the House of Commons, the Government promised to place a surtax on excessive profits, and yet England is1 distributing its men folk all over the British Empire. It was a glorious war, and there were a glorious lot of patriots somewhere: but let us wait until the history of the war is written, and we can see it in cold type, free from the bias that is already dying out. . We shall then know it for what it waa. Some people appear to be all right on this earth, but the gibbet will be very high for them down below. Nothing angers me more than to think that people should play upon the sentiments, the patriotism, and the good faith of the community in the manner that they do. My language about them is always in the same tone as it is to-night, because that is the way I feel. I am only human, but I would scorn to do what I condemn, ‘ and I hope I shall never descend to it. A lot of it was practised, however, in the guise of patriotism during the war. What have we done with the £150,000 ? Has it been used to feed the vultures that sit on the fence and wait for these departmental plums? Some of them are about to be distributed now.
When I came back from the war, I was invited by Captain Blackburn to become a member of the executive of the Returned Soldiers Association. I told him that there were many others who had come back long before me, and as they had more right to the job, I did not want to stand in their way. He replied, “ You are a member of the Federal Parliament, and you will be invaluable to us on the floor of the House.” I said, “ Very well, If that is what you want me for, and if you will make quite clear to the members of the Association tha reason for my contesting the position, I will do it.” I got the job. I fulfilled the duties to the best of my ability. The election came round. Mr. Blundell opposed me. I’ believe he was two years my junior. Owing to a statement that was promulgated here - a lie which I had never been able to nail down - he had returned soldiers going round for him. One member who sat on the executive with me was a member of Mr. Blundell’s committee which worked to defeat me. I was a Labour man, and that was the reason. Let me state another instance of “preference.” I am prepared to say that if it is possible to lean in favour of the “ digger “ we should do so; but I do nob go as far in that direction as some would. There is the case of an old man in the Taxation Department in South Australia. I do not know his name. The incident was told to me on a tram car while I was going home. He is a man of sixty years of age, and had three sons who went to the war. One was killed, and one came home gassed, “and the week before last he had to leave his job so that a returned soldier could take his place. That is “ preference to soldiers” run mad. That man could not have gone to the war; all the males in his family went; he lost a son there, and has now lost his job.
I come now to the question of finance. The Treasurer cannot handle that question, because he does not understand it. I remember before the State elections in South Australia a statement made by Sir Joseph Cook was reported in the Melbourne newspapers and repeated in the Adelaide papers. , Because he had said that I talked repudiation they used that against me at .the election. It was said that we must not talk repudiation,, because finance is : a “shy bird which we must not frighten away.” The Prime Minister made some similar reference this afternoon. He told us that we must be careful how we handled the credit of Australia. I think the week after that statement was made about finance “being a shy bird” the Board of Works in Melbourne floated a £500,000 loan locally, and,” if I recollect the facts correctly, there was such a mob round the door that the police had. to control it, and some even got through the windows in order to be in early. Last week, or the week before, the South Australian Government floated a £3,000,000 loan at 5 per cent, in three hours, three times over. The subscribers got in with both feet and both hands. They were wallowing in false money - wallowing in the trickery of juggling with credits. I shall not develop that theme any further, because I intend to do so at the right time, on the floor of this House, and to cite authorities which the Government will not dare to dispute. The question of finance and taxation was made a big one during the election. I made a big point of it, too. If we are in any trouble today because of high and excessive taxation it. is because we played “ducks and drakes” with the Commonwealth during the war, and did not know how to finance it. We allowed the financiers to grip it by the throat ; and now, in order to get out of the mire and save the vultures from the result of their own conduct, they have formed a Taxpayers Association. I got a letter from the association asking me a few questions regarding my attitude. I suppose all honorable members know what kind of questions the Taxpayers- Association would ask. Here is a nice one to put to a Labour man : “ If returned to power, are you in favour of the abolition of the maternity bonus?” As I have two grandsons and a prospective third one, should I be likely to oppose the maternity bonus? The Prime Minister said -
Finance is a matter to be considered by the Inter-State Conference. A weakness in any State is a weakness in our whole national credit. ‘’ There- should bc one borrowing authority, and a uniform basis for raising loans. .Wo, will issue no loans tax free.
Now I come to the Taxpayers Association, and I- shall read the names of the personnel of the executive:. The first name, on the list is that of Mr. A. Allnutt, who died suddenly during the week of the elections. He was a director of Messrs. D. and J. Fowler Limited, of Adelaide, one of the four large whole- bale grocery firms. The next is Mr. C. Bastard, the proprietor of the Adelaide City Baths, at one time a Labour man. There is also Mr. A. E. Clarkson, who was president of the Chamber of Commerce, and who spoke at the reception tendered to the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) shortly after his arrival in Adelaide. There is also Mr. Robert Duncan, of Messrs. Duncan and Fraser, of Franklinstreet, Adelaide, the large motor assembling and manufacturing firm, whose premises, which were insured for £90,000 odd, were recently destroyed by fire. Another is Mr. M. A. Goode, of Goode, Durrant, and Company, or Mathew Goode and Co., both of which firms arc in the “rag” trade. There is also Mr. W. J. Hill, of Pengelly and Company, the railway carriage, tram car, and furniture manufacturers, of Edwardstown, and Mr. S. J. Jacobs, the financier and money lender, who, I suppose, holds more beer stock than any other man in South Australia. He is simply a financier, or money lender. I also notice the name of Mr. J. W. McGregor, who controls the Torrensville Woollen Mills, and who is reputed to have made a couple of fortunes during the war period from the excessive prices obtained for goods manufactured. The next is Mr. T. H. Robin, a managing director of one of the big timber yards. Mr. Fred M. Simpson is a partner in the firm of Messrs.. A. M. ‘Simpson and Sons, who have a monopoly of the tinware manufacturing trade in South Australia. Mr. Norman H. Taylor, of J. N. Taylor and Sons, importers, is also included. I have submitted these names to show that not one is a primary producer. The executive of the Taxpayers Association in South Australia consists of men who live on the traffic between the actual producer and the consumer, but they are the controlling body of the Taxpayers Association. The point I ami endeavouring to make is that our financial difficulties of to-day were born of the war. When we wanted man power for the successful carrying on of our military operations abroad, many honorable members opposite and some members of the present
Government taunted men for not enlisting. Does the cap fit? In the recent election I was reminded very frequently of what I said in this House in 1915, that if I had been Treasurer, instead of taking 75 per cent, of the profits illicitly gained by the profiteer under the War Profits Tax Act I would have taken 100 per cent, of them. X said on that occasion that I would grab them with- both hands, and I repeat it. lt may be termed confiscation, but I would take it. The Government wanted funds, and in order to secure the money they had to pay the highest rate ruling, namely, per cent., free of income tax. lt was said at the time that the men who went to the Front were doing their “ bit,” and that those who stayed at home should invest their money in war loans. Did every one who stayed athome contribute in that way? If they did not, they “squibbed” on their job. Those who did contribute are not paying taxation on the interest on” the loans which are burdening the Commonwealth to-day. When loans were floated on which income tax Was payable, the rate of interest -was raised to such an extent that it was equivalent to the remission of income tax. The representatives of the Taxpayers Association are typical of the men who to-day condemn Labour, and who term us Bolsheviks. They are the men who, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) said, have declared that we ‘ would bring blue ruin in our train. Great problems have to be faced to-day, and I would dispose of our financial obligations as we created them. It will take some time to educate the people to realize that that is the situation confronting us; but when they do, God help the other side. The people will eventually see how they were tricked during the war, and how they were “ egged “ on by the misrulers of the country. Then we shall come into our own, and there will be very short shrift for those who support the present financial policy.
Included in the other matters incidentally referred to by the Prime Minister are health, River Murray, Post and Telegraph administration, repatriation, preference to returned soldiers, Tariff, amendment of the Constitution, and shipbuilding, the discussion of which I can leave to other honorable members on this side. I would be neglecting the duty devolving upon me as a representative of the people if I did not voice my strongest condemnation of the Government for going into recess when so much remains to be done, and before their policy has been submitted. Until they do that, I am not prepared to say yea or nay. It would be the height of trickery to assume power as the Government have done, and refer to this “rag” as their authority, which, as the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) termed it, is a mere blank sheet. The Government cannot say that they have submitted these matters to Parliament, and then continue to govern for the next five or six months without consulting the representatives of the people, who are sent here to do the job. We have the task ‘of unravelling the financial difficulties with which the Government are surrounded, and placing matters on a proper basis, and then we will only be doing the job we have been sent here to conscientiously perform. I shall, refer briefly to the amendment -.of the Constitution. Some honorable members believe that Parliament can make the necessary amendments, . and I, too, believe that we are capable of framing amendments and submitting them to the people by means of a referendum. I am anxious that the question of unification shall be submitted to the people of Australia, because I believe that when they really understand what it means, and how it will aid in the development of the Commonwealth, there will be no difficulty in carrying it. Reference has already ‘been made to the creation of new States, which was at one time anathema to certain members of this Chamber. The Labour party nearly succeeded in carrying an amendment of the Constitution, and then the ex-Prime Minister was responsible for a proposal in an emasculated form which, because of certain objections, was not proceeded with. It is now suggested that the amendment of the Constitution should bo referred to a Convention. Why not be honest? Do we not believe in Federation and what was said when it was first put to the people - “ One flag, one nation, one destiny”? We were told that there would be one Parliament and one Governor-General, instead of six State
Parliaments and six State Governors. We are to have a super-Parliament in the shape of a constitutional Convention. When .the Hon. Crawford Vaughan was Premier of South Australia, a’ Conference of Premiers was held in South Australia, and every florist’s shop had to be emptied iri order to decorate Government House, in which the delegates were welcomed. Fair ladies were there, as they were here yesterday. The representatives of the different States, including “ Billy “ Holman and all the “ top-dogs,” sat in .conference, and decided to pass uniform legislation. If honorable members will peruse the reports of that Conference, they will find that a decision was reached to pass about, twelve uniform Acts. Why, in the name of common sense, was it necessary to pass twelve measures when one would be sufficient? Continual reference is made to the overlapping of Departments. A simplification of the present position is long overdue. We have a duplication of work in our Electoral and Taxation Departments, and, in fact, we are fools to tolerate six Parliaments as they exist to-day. The people want Unification. They want one flag, one Parliament, and, if given the opportunity, will work out their destiny in the best possible way.
In regard to the amendment of the Constitution and the New State proposals, the Prime Minister should be more outspoken. He should take the House into his confidence, and let us know at once what the Government propose to do. Is it reasonable that Parliament should close down for the next three or .four months, and that when mingling with my constituents during all that time I should have to confess that I do not know what the Government are going to do? The Prime Minister told us that during the adjournment the Government would think matters out, and let us know their programme as soon as the House resumed. With the closing down of Parliament, the honorable gentleman, I suppose, will “skedaddle” to Berne, while his ‘ bride ‘ ‘ will devote her attention to Melbourne, and perhaps pay a visit to Adelaide. But that it not what the honorable gentleman was sent here to do. Until we grasp our job seriously, and realize to the full the work we have been sent here to do, we shall do no good.
My desire is that Australia -.shall develop and prosper on the line* along which it developed under the rule of Labour. It was a Labour Administration that made it possible for the Commonwealth so to progress in subsequent years that the GovernorGeneral was able to speak, as. he did yesterday at the opening of Parliament, of its wonderful advancement and prosperity. What will happen if we accept without protest the position as it stands to-day? I am astonished that the Prime Minister should object to our setting out here the principles for which we stand, and putting before the public what we, as members of this House, intend to do. I can assure the Ministry that every proposal which they put forward, and which, in my judgment, is fair and square, free from party bias, and honestly designed in the best interests of Australia, will receive my assistance and support. I protest, however, when they ask me to “ buy a pig in a bag.” I object to put my name to a blank cheque which they may fill in and spend as they please during the next three months. The supporters of honorable members opposite may be content to allow that sort of thing to go on, but my constituents will not tolerate it, and I for one would not ask them to do so. I object to the adjournment of the House for any lengthy period. We should know more than we have been told by the Prime Minister. Supporters of the Government, however, are dumb. They have been “ gagged,” but I shall not hesitate to tell the people what the positionactually is. I am an outspoken man. I do not mince my words. I “ call a spade a spade,” and I shall explain to the people the situation as I see it. My view of it may be wrong. If I have said one word in excess of what is a fair estimate of the attitude of the Government, let the Prime Minister correct me. I am sure that I have not done so. AH that I want is knowledge. If the Prime Minister can show that my summing up of the attitude of the Government is wrong I shall admit my mistake, but if on the other hand it is right, then he should admit it. This Government will go down to history as a political freak. If it persists in its present attitude it will be regarded as one of the freaks of parliamentary administrations, not only in the manner of its birth, but also in the exercise of its functions, and I believe that it will be brought to an end by means of either a political earthquake or political suicide.
– I support the amendment submitted this afternoon by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) for the reason that this is the first Government in the history of Australia or, so far as I know, of any country, that has sought to take charge without first submitting its policy to the Parliament and the people. The two parties that now compose the fusion went to the country with well-defined programmes, and after the general election spent several weeks in bringing about the. present composite Ministry. Were they young and inexperienced politicians we might forgive them; but I know many members of the Country party to be men of practical experience. The Country party, as a matter of fact,” formulated a programme and said they were proud of it. The two parties appealed to the electors of Australia to return them on their respective programmes as submitted, and, that being so, it should not have” taken the Government more than ten days to frame their policy, and it might have been embodied in His’ Excellency’s Speech at the opening of Parliament. It is somewhat of -a reflection on the intelligence of the people of Australia that the Government should ask us to agree to an adjournment of from three to four months in order that they may frame their policy. It is not fair to the people that during that long interim the affairs of the country should be administered by Executive act, when there are confronting us big questions that should be dealt with by theParliamentitself.
I heard with regret the one definite assurance given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) this afternoon that the Government do not intend to renew the existing sugar agreement or any agreement. I invite the honorable gentleman to mount the ex-Prime Minister’s charger, to take a. ride through northern Queensland, and to look at the condition’s under which the landholders there have laboured and lived forthe lastfifty years. If, having done so, hecomes back and tells us that those who are cultivating thecane-fields of Queensland should not be controlled by an agreement, and that this great national industry should be thrown once more into the hands of the Colonial Sugar. Refining Company, I shall say that he does not possess the degree of intelligence for which I now give him credit. If there is in this Parliament to-day any representative of Queensland who, knowing the conditions of the sugar industry, and knowing how the cane producers in that State have been robbed - I used’ the word “ robbed “ deliberately - by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, is yet prepared to allow this great national industry to be thrown once more into the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, he is not a fit and proper, man to represent the industry. No doubt there are in the southern Statesthose who contend that we are paying too great a price for our sugar, but if the industry is handed over to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company we shall continue to pay a big price for it. In the short statement that he made on the subject to-day the Prime Minister said that his Government intended to control the sugar industry in a way that he would set out very clearly later on. I gathered from his remarks that it was proposed to impose an import duty on sugar - that, by that means, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company would be allowed to take control of the industry and the sugar supplies of this country in order that the people might obtain cheap sugar. But an import duty on blackgrown sugar, no matter what that duty may be, will not solve the problem, because to-day every one recognises that the whole of the sugar business of the countryis controlled by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Sugar is grown in Java and other places with the assistance of black labour employed at 2s. or 3s. a day, and living under conditions that represent practical slavery. It is useless in the circumstances to say that the imposition of an extra duty of 1d. or 2d. per lb. on black-grown sugar will solvethe whole problem and insure a supply of cheap sugar to the people of Australia. I intimate, right here that no vote of mine will be given to enable the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to once more obtain control of the sugar industry- of this, country.
– I would put them in gaol if I had the power.
– There are men . in gaol to-day, I venture to . say, for lesser crimes than some thathave been committed by the company.
I wishbriefly to supplement what has been said by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) regarding the Northern Territory. The Prime Minister stated that a number ofpastoralists and gentlemen representing mining industries in the Northern Territory are at present in Melbourneor about to arrive here, and it is the intention of theGovernment to consult with them as to the best ways and means of settling the Northern Territory. I have lived in Queensland for a number of years, and have travelled through the centre of Australia. In view of the fact that the Queensland Government . have already a railway running from the port of Townsville due- west to Cloncurry, and (hat there is a line constructed from Fort Darwin past Pine Creek, and in view also of- the fact that Mr. Crompton Wood, the British -cotton expert, has told us that in the cotton industry we have one of the greatest assets of the country,I say that we -should be doing wrong to the people of the -north and of Australia if “we were to again renew the pastoral leases of the Northern Territory. The lessees in the first instance secured their land for something like 2s. 6d. per annum per square mile.
-For forty-two years.
Mr.McNEILL. - Yes, on leases having a tenure of forty-two years. If railway communication is provided wo may have a few more pastoralists in the Northern Territory, but that will not settle the great empty space we possess there, . and which. I say, is’ a grand inheritance of the people of this country. I ask leave to continue my speech on the resumption of the debate.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to.
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at 11 o’clock a.m.
House adjourned at 10.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 March 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1923/19230301_reps_9_102/>.