11th Parliament · 1st Session
The House met at 10.30 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that the Deputies of the Governor-General for the opening of the Parliament requested the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith.
Honorable members attended accordingly, and, having returned,
The Deputy, authorized by the GovernorGeneral to administer the oath, entered the chamber.
Theclerk read the commission, under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, authorizing the Right Honorable Sir Isaac Isaacs, P.C., K.C.M.G., a Justice of the High Court of Australia, to administer the oath, or affirmation, of allegiance to the King required by the Constitution to be taken or made by members of the House of Representatives.
Theclerk announced that he had received from the Acting Clerk to the Governor-General returns to the 75 writs for the election of members of the House of Representatives, held on the 17th November, 1928.
The following honorable members made and subscribed the oath of allegiance: -
Abbott, Hon. Charles Lydiard Aubrey, Gwydir, New South Wales.
Anstey, Frank, Esquire, Bourke, Victoria.
Atkinson, Hon. Llewelyn, Wilmot, Tasmania.
Bayley, James Garfield, Esquire, Oxley, Queensland.
Beasley, John Albert, Esquire, West Sydney, New South Wales.
Bell, George John, Esquire, C.M.G., D.S.O., Darwin, Tasmania.
Blakeley, Arthur, Esquire, Darling, New South Wales.
Bowden, Hon. Eric Kendall, Parramatta, New South Wales.
Brennan, Prank, Esquire, Batman, Victoria.
Bruce, Eight Hon. Stanley Melbourne, C.H., P.C., M.C., Flinders, Victoria.
Cameron, Donald Charles, Esquire, C.M.G., D.S.O., V.D., Brisbane, Queensland.
Cameron, Malcolm Duncan, Esquire, Barker, South Australia.
Chifley, Joseph Benedict, Esquire, Macquarie, New South Wales.
Coleman, Percy Edmund, Esquire, Reid. New South Wales.
Collins, Maurice, Esquire, Wakefield, South Australia.
Corser, Bernard Henry, Esquire, Wide Bay, Queensland.
Culley, Charles Ernest, Esquire, Denison, Tasmania.
Curtin, John, Esquire, Fremantle, Western Australia.
Fenton, James Edward, Esquire, Maribyrnong, Victoria.
Forde, Francis Michael, Esquire, Capricornia, Queensland.
Francis, Grosvenor Arundell, Esquire, Kennedy, Queensland.
Francis, Josiah, Esquire, Moreton, Queensland.
Gardner, Sydney Lane, Esquire, Robertson, New South Wales.
Gibson, Hon. William Gerrand, Corangamite, Victoria.
Green, Albert Ernest, Esquire, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Green, Roland Frederick Herbert, Esquire, Richmond, New South Wales.
Gregory, Hon. Henry, Swan, Western Australia.
Groom, Hon. Sir. Littleton Ernest, K.O.M.G., K.C., Darling Downs, Queensland.
Gullett, Hon. Henry Somer, Henty, Victoria.
Hill, Hon. William Caldwell, Echuca, Victoria.
Howse, Hon. Sir Neville Reginald, V.C., K.C.B., K.C.M.G., Calare, New South Wales.
Hughes, Right Hon. William Morris, P.O., K.C., North Sydney, New South Wales.
Hunter, James Aitchison Johnston, Esquire, Maranoa, Queensland.
Hurry, Geoffry, Esquire, D.S.O., V.D., Bendigo, Victoria.
Jackson, David Sydney, Esquire, Bass, Tasmania.
James, Rowland, Esquire, Hunter, New South Wales.
Jones, Paul, Esquire, Indi, Victoria.
Killen, William Wilson, Esquire, Riverina, New South Wales.
Lacey, Andrew William, Esquire, Grey, South Australia.
Latham, Hon. John Greig, C.M.G., K.C., Kooyong, Victoria.
Lazzarini, Hubert Peter, Esquire, Werriwa, New South Wales.
Lister, John Henry, Esquire, Corio, Victoria.
Long, William John, Esquire, Lang, New South Wales.
Mackay, George Hugh, Esquire, Lilley, Queensland.
Makin, Norman John Oswald, Esquire, Hindmarsh, South Australia.
Maloney, William Robert Nuttall, Esquire, Melbourne, Victoria.
Mann, Edward Alexander, Esquire, Perth, Western Australia.
Marks, Walter Moffitt, Esquire, Wentworth, New South Wales.
Marr, Hon. Charles William Clanan, D.S.O., M.C., V.D., Parkes, New South Wales.
Mathews, James, Esquire, Melbourne Ports, Victoria.
Maxwell, George Arnot, Esquire, K.C., Fawkner, Victoria.
McGrath, David Charles, Esquire, Ballarat, Victoria.
Mcwilliams, William James, Esquire, Franklin, Tasmania.
Moloney, Parker John, Esquire, Hums, New South Wales
Page, Hon. Earle Christmas Grafton, Cowper, New .South Wales.
Parkhill, Robert Archdale, Esquire, Warringah, New South Wales.
Parsons, Walter Langdon, Esquire, Angas, South Australia.
Paterson, Hon. Thomas, Gippsland, Victoria.
Perkins, John Arthur, Esquire, EdenMonaro, New South Wales.
Pratten, Frederick Graham, Junior, Esquire, Martin, New South Wales.
Price, John Lloyd, Esquire, Boothby, South Australia.
Prowse, John Henry, Esquire, ForrestWestern Australia.
Riley Edward, Esquire, South Sydney, New South Wales.
Riley. Edward Charles, Esquire, Cook, New South Wales.
Rodgers Hon. Arthur Stanislaus, Wannon, Victoria.
Scullin, James Henry, Esquire, Yarra, Victoria.
Stewart, Hon. Percy Gerald, Wimmera, Victoria.
Theodore, Hon. Edward Granville, Dalley, New South Wales.
Thompson, Victor Charles, Esquire, New England, New South Wales.
Tully, James Thomas, Esquire, Barton, New South Wales.
Watkins, Hon. David, Newcastle, New South Wales.
Watt, Eight Hon. William Alexander, P.O., Balaclava, Victoria.
West, John Edward, Esquire, East Sydney, New South Wales.
Yates, George Edwin, Esquire, Adelaide, South Australia.
.- I move -
That the honorable member for Darling Downs, Sir Littleton Groom, do take the Chair of the House as Speaker.
To those who have previously been members of this House no words of mine are needed to commend the honorable member to them. To those who have recently entered this Parliament I would say that Sir Littleton Groom has been a member of the Federal Parliament since the inception of federation, and has given some of the best years of his life to the service of this country. He has held many high and responsible public positions, and has earned the respect and esteem of us all for his ability, his untiring energy, and his lofty ideals. Not very long ago lie represented the Commonwealth Government with distinction at the conference of the League of Nations at Geneva. As Speaker in the last Parliament, he commended himself to honorable members by his knowledge of parliamentary practice and procedure and his intimate acquaintence with the Standing Orders of this House. I understand that the Standing Orders Committee may, during this session, be engaged in the revision of the Standing Orders, and Sir Littleton Groom who, as Speaker, would be ex officio chairman of the committee, would be in a position to render yeoman service in that capacity. In the last Parliament he was, as Speaker, the Chairman of the Library Committee and controlled the transfer of the library from Melbourne in a most satisfactory manner during that very difficult time. I have much pleasure in submitting the motion.
.- I have pleasure in seconding the motion for the appointment of Sir Littleton Groom as Speaker, and I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta regarding him.
.- This is the only opportunity which an honorable member has of speaking his mind as freely in this chamber as he may upon a public platform, untrammelled by hoary rules of debate. Our procedure is largely governed by May, which contains precedents taking us back to past centuries; but the rules of debate in this Parliament should be brought up to date ; we should not be governed by rules and standing orders many years old, and of another parliament.
It is difficult for me to find language strong enough to express the loathing and contempt which I feel for one of our Arbitration Court judges; I allude to Judge Lukin. Old man as I am, I hope to see the day when the referendum, the initiative, and recall shall have become part of our parliamentary institutions. The people of Australia will then be in a position to prevent the operation of such an abominable and infernal law as that passed in this Parliament last session in relation to the waterside workers. If this Parliament will not pass an amending measure such as I consider necessary, I shall appeal to the people outside this chamber. The galleries to-day are filled with citizens of the Commonwealth, and I urge them not to vote on future occasions for any man unless he undertakes unequivocably to give them complete legislative control by means of the referendum, initiative and recall.
– I thank the honorable member for Parramatta for having nominated me for the position of Speaker and the honorable member for Forrest for having seconded the nomination, and I submit myself to the House.
.- As you have merely pointed to me, Mr. Parkes, without giving me my name, am I to take it that you do not now know me ? I have been acquainted with you for a long time, and have always treated you with courtesy. At times, too, in the chamber and in the lobbies, you have condescended to notice me. I have been a member of this House so long that it should be unnecessary for you to have to indicate me in the way in which you have done. I can understand that you may have felt under some difficulty, for lack of knowledge of their antecedents, concerning the honorable members at whom you had already pointed your finger, as if in scorn. For your information, therefore, I say that the mover of the motion was Mr. Bowden, who represents the division of Parramatta, a learned and distinguished lawyer who was formerly a member of the Government, but lost his job for reasons essentially connected with the welfare of the Commonwealth and the Empire. The honorable member at whom you next pointed your finger was Mr. Prowse. He represents an electoral division in Western Australia. If you do not know him let me introduce him to you as a fairly decent person. Who I am I shall tell you later.
It is only right that some information should be given to the new members of this House concerning the procedure observed in the appointment of a Speaker to preside over the destinies of this great and distinguished assembly. But, first, let me read some comments that appeared in the Melbourne Herald about a month ago, under the heading -
Sib Littleton Groom and the Red Shadow. The name “ Groom “ is quite commonplace and ordinary, such as might belong to one of the proletariat. I knew the father of the honorable member for Darling as plain Mr. Groom. Littleton with Groom gave aristocratic distinction, which was increased by the bestowal of the title Sir. As the honorable member for Parramatta has said, Sir Littleton Groom has held many high and distinguished positions in the government of this country. It is true also that the honorable member is one of the kindliest men who ever occupied a seat in this House. He would not hurt anybody’s feelings by refusing anything.
In those outbursts of loyalty to which sometimes I give expression, I speak as a member of the Opposition. But I am not like the Prime Minister, who, early in the morning, before breakfast, and at all hours of the day, gives utterance to sentiments of loyalty in the belief that their constant reiteration assures the safety of the Empire. Now this is what the Melbourne Herald had to say about me -
Mr. Anstey rightly interprets the feelings of the great majority of the people of this country when he expresses his gratitude for all that the Empire has done in the past and will do in the future.
Those words, I remind honorable members, refer not to Mr. Bruce but to me. My imperial sentiments are sound. I understand, as the right honorable gentleman does, how much the safety of the Empire depends upon having as Speaker one who will uphold the traditions of the Empire, and give fair decisions - except when the fate of the Empire, or the party to which he belongs, demands otherwise. The Melbourne Herald goes on to say -
The question of the integrity of Empire is paramount. This question must arise when the appointment of Speaker for the new Parliament takes place. The person who is appointed to the exalted position must be a man whose loyalty to Empire is beyond doubt. Sir Littleton Groom has been suggested. Left to himself Sir Littleton Groom is a mild, moderate safe man; but he must be judged by the company he keeps.
I remember that a statement couched in similar terms was made not long ago by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) concerning Mr. Scullin, the
Leader of my party. Mr. Bruce, on that occasion, expressed the opinion that Mr. Scullin was an honorable man, but. kept dishonorable company. The Melbourne Herald, in its further references to Sir Littleton Groom, said -
Hia association with men who accept red money for Australian wool to the detriment of the Empire and his association with a political party which permits red agents to enter our country to buy our wool in competition with the Empire is not only a grave reflection upon our patriotism, but is a matter for severe censure. So for Sir Littleton has not made one word of protest or repudiated his evil associates. Until he does he is a proper subject of patriotic suspicion, and upon him the dignity of Speaker cannot be safely conferred.
I ask Sir Littleton Groom, when he accepts the honour which this House will unanimously bestow upon him, to do something in the way of repudiation of the Red Menace, which others have been called upon to do.
I notice that the Prime Minister did not sponsor the motion before the House. Is there anything between Sir Littleton Groom and the Prime Minister to account for that? Let me read what the Age once said about the Prime Minister -
There was once a Premier of New South Wales who had a subject for eloquence to which he could turn in each and every embarrassment. When he was met with a particularly awkward question of local interest he began to denounce the Commonwealth Government and point to the grievous injustice suffered by Sydney. Thus he hoped to stifle all other grievances and bring the malcontents into cordial agreement. When placed in a similar position a more recent type of politician produces a flag and calls for three cheers for the Empire. To his not wholly disinterested view, enthusiasm for what he is sometimes pleased to call the “eeeempiah” excuses every political delinquency and answers all arguments.
Because I do not make frequent use of the word “ Empire “ I have been accused by the Prime Minister of not being sufficiently loyal to this country. I am prepared to support the motion, because I believe that in spite of everything that has been said against the Honorable Sir Littleton Groom by his associates, he will carry out his duties to the best of his ability. I ask him when in the chair to keep one eye on other honorable members, and one eye on me. Despite what my enemies have said about me, I am a believer in the Empire; but, unlike this coalition Government, I do not believe that we can solve all our difficulties merely by the frequent mention of the word “Empire”. This Government is led by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer. The Treasurer calls it the Bruce-Page Government, and the Prime Minister refers to it as “My Government”. The Age continues -
He seems to be perpetually laying traps for his opponents iu order that they may be induced to say something about the Empire that will astound him with horror and outrage the feelings of the loyal people.
The Prime Minister has made the Public Service Commission a thing of clay that can be moulded to his hand. When he wished to have Julian Simpson placed in the Public Service, he violated all rules, regulations, and principles of the Service to put him there over the heads of thousands. Mr. Simpson left the Public Service to uphold the cause of Mr. Bruce and the Empire against the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West). The Public Service Commissioners, when appointed, were supposed to be free from political influence. But the Prime Minister has made the commission his creature. He said to the Commissioners, “Put Simpson back in the Public Service.” Mr. Skewes, trembling before the Prime Minister, asked, “Yes, but what position shall I give him and what salary?” The Prime Minister replied, “ Give him the job that he had before and the same salary.” That was done in defiance of the rules of the Public Service and of every code of honour, decency and loyalty. When any objection is made to this kind of thing, the person objecting is accused of disloyalty and failure to support hia country. The Prime Minister waves the flag and says, “ Three cheers for the Empire,” vainly imagining that to be a sufficient answer to criticism. The Age continues -
His own acts are all Imperial virtues. The acts of his political rivals are always clouded with Imperial suspicion. When his rivals are silent he is overcome with indignation because of the thought that they will not say one word for the Empire. When they speak, even about a proposal to make a new road, he is appalled that the Empire takes so small a place in their thoughts and language.
Who is this person? Is he, as some one has said, our greatest statesman? When he found an opponent and critic in the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) the Prime Minister at once said to him, “ Come here. Take this and shut up.” When he discovered another critic in the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) he said, “Come here. Take this and shut up.” The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), who some say is the Prime Minister’s left hand, has been overlooked. He has been left hanging in the air. Other Ministers have been dropped. But to all critics the Prime Minister replies, “ You do not love your Empire.” The Prime Minister is supposed to be Australia’s greatest statesman and the upholder of the honour of this country. This is the man who claims to understand the psychology of the working class. During the election campaign the Prime Minister decided that something had to be done to gain votes, so it was arranged that a man had to be put out at every meeting. When the poor old lady in the green bonnet appeared the Prime Minister would say, “ Ah, there she is again.” That poor woman could change her dress and wear any colour, blue, green or yellow, but her bonnet had to be green, so that the Prime Minister could, at every meeting, pointing his finger at her, say, “ There is that woman in the green bonnet.” The Age continues -
Amongst decent citizens there are certain things that can be taken for granted. The challenges on the score of Empire so often issued in Parliament and on the platform create the assumption that in this country there is a considerable section of people who are anxious to break the imperial connexions - that there is an immediate danger of this section becoming a majority and gaining the power to fulfil its dastardly intentions. Were that idea to get abroad, can anybody imagine anything more mischievous to Australia or more prejudicial to the very interests of the Empire about which this voluble imperialist is jealous. The assumption is false. Of all the communities within the Empire, Australia, with its 97 per cent. of British stock, is the most British. Were every Dominion and dependency under the Crown as sound in its allegiance as is the Commonwealth, it would be folly to speak of danger . . Putting aside the cant of imperialism and anti-imperialism can they not think the thoughts of Australia.
I support the candidature of Sir Littleton Groom for the Speakership because of the honorable member’s manifold virtues and kindly manner, and if, later, he should, in recognition, offer me a cup of tea, I shall take it.
You, Mr. Parkes, as I have said, pointed your finger at me, and pretended not to know me, as, of course, you do. If you did not, you should know of me, because of the publicity I have secured in the newspapers, by pictures and paragraphs, and in other ways. You must have seen illustrations of Anstey standing, Anstey sitting, Anstey sideways, and also Anstey rear view. I have been shown from every angle. Not only that ; you have noticed my type of propaganda. Here is an account of one day’s strenuous work : -
Mr. Anstey had a strenuous day yesterday. He commenced at Pascoe Vale at 10.30 in a dark brown suit, dark brown hat, tie to match. Before arrival at Merlyston he retired behind a pillar box, disrobed, and in three minutes emerged in a blue suit, blue felt hat, tie to match. Mr. Anstey then caught the BrunswickCoburg express. On the way he disrobed behind a newspaper and emerged in a grey suit, grey felt hat, grey top boots, soft grey shirt, tie to match. The majority of passengers who landed at Albion were tired, dusty and perspiring. Mr. Anstey landed calm, cool and composed. It is this ready adaptability to every change of climate or of circumstance which distinguishes this honorable gentleman from the common herd.
He adapts himself to every change of circumstances,à la Mr. Bruce -
After his meeting at Albion, Mr. Anstey departed for Moreland. On the way he retired behind a post and in three minutes appeared in a black suit, tall black hat, tie to match. From Moreland he went to the Hoffman Brickworks. He disappeared behind the baths, disrobed and in three minutes emerged in a rough tweed suit, hob-nailed boots and tie to match. At night Mr. Anstey appeared at the Brunswick town hall in a dark striped suit, tie to match. The next day the Melbourne Herald said - “Mr. Anstey - loyalist, imperialist, and empire builder - was perfectly groomed, perfectly tailored, perfectly mannered. A perfect figure in a perfect background - the end of a perfect day. A strenuous day, yet not too strenuous for such a perfect man in such perfect physical and mental condition.”
This boosting of my clothes was not vanity. It was done to divert public attention from matters of public policy. One might think this a description of the proceedings of the Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, not of myself ; but it is Mr. Anstey who was always perfectly groomed, perfectly polished, perfectly mannered, a perfect figure against a perfect background. Now you know me. Here is the end of a perfect day -a strenuous day, yet not too strenuous for such a perfect man under such perfect conditions. Attention has been directed to my clothes to distract public attention from public matters of importance. In my speeches I have stated that we must have loyalty to the Throne, to the King and to ihe Empire. We must have co-operation, co-ordination, and collaboration without which we cannot help to solve the threefold problems of men, money and markets. In addition to that we must have love of the King and of Empire.
– What about love of mankind ?
– That, too, is essential. This glorious Empire must be maintained and the different portions of the Empire must work side by side in perfect harmony. In the cultured tones in which the Prime Minister said of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) “ He is an honorable man buthe keeps dishonorable company,” I should like to ask Sir Littleton Groom, “Are you loyal? Have you made your threefold genuflexions before the altar of the Empire?”. I have not noticed it. Before you are elected to the speakership, we should have some exhibition of your loyalty. We want to know where you stand in connexion with the Reds. Are you going to be associated with the Reds, who are spending five millions of Russian money in purchasing Queensland wool? If you are, you should not occupy the position to which you are about to be elected. I said at Stanthorpe, where I met those who are conversant with the problems facing us, that we have to explain that problems have their angles and that we must educate the people concerning all these angles, and when these are understood the problems will be settled. That is what I, as a statesman, told the people. I am a man of vision and wisdom. I am not an ordinary tripy politician. At Bendigo I said that the Leader of the Opposition would not say one word against the Empire, and that he who did not love his Empire was a wretched, dishonorable scoundrel. I then went to Eaglehawk and said that Mr. Scullin would not say a word about the Empire. He was afraid; he was a coward and would not denounce the Reds. I went to Kyneton and said that Mr. Scullin had no courage, as he would not fight these Communist wretches. He was not doing what the Prime Minister would not do. All the right honorable gentleman did was to talk against them and then subsidize them under the lap. At Colac, I said he was a coward, a cur and afraid to do anything. At Colac, I said that Mr. Scullin was a very honorable man but for the company he kept, and I would say it now but the elections are over, and I do not want too much criticism to be brought against me. We know the old assumption was that people who are poor must also be dishonorable. I would not say that when charges were made against me. I would say, “What an absurdity to charge me with being associated with anything that is wrong.” I have so much money that there is no need for me to do anything dishonest - just like the Abraham brothers. I am a polite gentleman, a polished gentleman; but I say of others “You are ignorant, you are crude, you display too much pretence, you get down into the gutter. You are a political profligate; a man of low moral calibre.” We are told that Labour is not trustworthy, that it is not represented by men of the right calibre, that its activities are inspired by Moscow and that it is infected with the virus of Communism. As a statesman and as an upright, honorable man, I now ask those of whom I have said they were the enemies of their country to get together and endeavour to secure peace in industry. You might think therefore that I was a liar before the elections, but no, I was only adapting myself to the circumstances of the hour. Certain persons were evil and malign creatures before the election; they were honorable men afterwards.
– What is the use of exhausting all your ammunition in the first skirmish ?
– I might be dead tomorrow, and I would not then have the opportunity. I am pleased that Sir Littleton Groom is about to be appointed Speaker. I believe that he will discharge his duties with fairness. I presume that when elected he will regard himself, not as the custodian of the rights of one side only, but know no party, that he will apply the law and will hold the scales of justice fairly.
I take it that when he sits in the Speaker’s chair, and listens to men who lie to the discredit of the country, he will regard it as his duty to tell them that they are doing so. I hope that when he hears members say that the Government sold the Commonwealth Woollen Mills for the country’s good, he will remind them that that same Government is now buying the products of those mills at prices from 25 per cent, to 40 per cent, higher than they paid previously. Referring to the Peace in Industry Conference, Mr. Bruce said that there was an idea among the workmen that the employers were getting too much, and the workmen too little. Let Sir Littleton Groom remind the Prime Minister that he also said: “I want to be fair; I do not wish to express an opinion one way or another; I merely wish to say that, in my opinion, the workers are getting a fair deal.” Apparently all this getting-together business was merely for the purpose of explaining to the workmen that they .were already receiving enough.
I also hope that when honorable members speak in this House about the malcontents in the coal-mining industry, and the go-slow policy of the workers, Sir Littleton Groom will remind them that the miners are paid only for what they produce. I hope that he will point out also that in the centre of the Empire itself there are more than 300,000 miners practically starving, and living under conditions so horrible that even the Prince of Wales was horror stricken at the sight of them. I hope that he will point out to honorable members that, many of the miners are working 16 hours a day in an endeavour to keep body and soul together; that they are producing coal which is imported into this country at one-third of the freight rates charged on ordinary cargo, thus lowering the standard of living in Australia. I hope that the Speaker will make it clear that the Government, by its appointments to the
Arbitration Court, is seeking to degrade the workers in Australia, and to drag them down to the same low level at which the miners are struggling in England; that he will point out that the employers in England sought, by reducing their workers to a condition of semi-starvation, to reconquer the markets of the world, but that they were unable to do so.
I believe that the party which sits on this side of the chamber will abide loyally by the decisions of the Chair even though these may be against them, and that they will support him in every way they can.
Members of the House then unanimously calling Sir Littleton Groom to the chair, he was taken out of his place by Mr. Bowden and Mr. Prowse and conducted to the chair.
Then Mr. SPEAKER-ELECT, standing on the upper step, said - I thank honorable members for the honour which they have conferred upon me. It will be my endeavour in the future, as it has been in the past, to administer my office with impartiality, and to preserve the rights, privileges and dignity of Parliament.
– On behalf of the members of this House, I extend to you, Mr. Speaker, our congratulations upon your reappointment to the high and dignified office of Speaker. In that position you are the custodian of the rights and privileges of every honorable member, and we are confident that those rights and privileges are safe in your hands. Yours also is the duty of maintaining the dignity and prestige of Parliament, and I am sure that every honorable member, notwithstanding party and political feeling, desires to give you the fullest support in the discharge of the difficult task entrusted to you. The good resolutions which many of us may be making at the present moment may wilt somewhat in the atmosphere of party passion and political struggle; but I can assure you on behalf of honorable members generally, that it is our sincere desire to assist you in every way, and that, should we offend occasionally, it will be only a temporary lapse.
.- I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon once again being appointed Speaker of this House. You have already had one experience as Speaker, and your reappointment amounts to a vote of confidence in you by the members of this chamber. On behalf of honorable members on this side of the chamber, I say that you have carried out your duties with impartiality, showing no discrimination between the members of one party and another. That, I take it, is the highest tribute that can be paid to a Speaker. This unanimous choice of Parliament is a tribute to your fairness and ability. I assure you, on behalf of the members of the Opposition, that we shall assist you in every way we can to maintain the standards of Parliament.
– In thanking the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for their congratulations upon my re-election to the high office of Speaker, I accept most readily their assurances that they will assist me in carrying out the practice, procedure, and the rules of the House, and in maintaining its dignity. In the past that assistance has been given to me not only by the leaders, but by all members of the chamber, and without such willing assistance the difficulties of the position would be exceedingly great. I realize that the office of Speaker is the highest gift that honorable members of this House have at their disposal. It is an office which is distinctly judicial in character, and as such must be administered with impartiality. It is impossible, of course, for any human being to be perfect - one can but strive to do his best - but I assure honorable members that it will be my earnest endeavour to preserve the best traditions of this House. I believe that this Parliament compares favorably with any other in the Empire in the manner in which it conducts its business, and so long as the people of this country can take a pride in their Parliament, which is the organ for the supreme expression of the opinion of the nation, they need not fear.
I appreciate the kindly sentiments that have been expressed toward me personally. In the past I have been greatly indebted to the officers of the House for their assistance, and honorable members generally are also indebted to them. Those who have recently been elected to Parliament for the first time may rest assured that the officers of the House will gladly render them every assistance they can in the performance of their public duties.
– I have already ascertained that it will be the pleasure of His Excellency the Governor-General to receive you, Mr. Speaker, in the library of the Parliament at 2.45 p.m. this day.
– Prior to my presentation to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral this afternoon, the bells will be rung for three minutes so that honorable members may have the opportunity of assembling in the chamber to accompany me to the library and, if they so desire, of being introduced to His Excellency. The bells will be rung at 2.45 p.m.
Sitting suspended from11.48 a.m. to 2.45 p.m.
The House proceeded to the Library, there to present Mr. Speaker to His Excellency the Governor-General.
The House having reassembled,
– I have to report that, accompanied by honorable members, I proceeded to the Library of the Parliament, and presented myself to His Excellency the Governor-General as the choice of the House, and that His Excellency was kind enough to congratulate me on my election as Speaker.
The Usher of the Black Rod, being announced, was admitted, and delivered the message that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate Chamber forthwith. Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly, and having returned,
– I have received from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral a commission authorizing me to administer the oath or affirmation of allegiance to members of the House. I now lay the commission on the table.
– I desire to announce to the House certain changes which have taken place in the Ministry since the prorogation of the last Parliament. I have resigned the portfolio of Minister for Trade and Customs; the honorable member for Calare (Sir Neville Howse) has resigned the portfolio of Minister for Home and Territories; the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. Hill) has resigned the portfolio of Minister for Works and Railways; and Senator the Hon. T. W. Crawford has resigned from the position of Honorary Minister. The portfolios of Home and Territories and Markets have been abolished, and the portfolios of Home Affairs, Industry, Markets and Transport have been created. The Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) has been appointed to hold also the position of Minister for Industry ; the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) to hold also the portfolio of Minister for Works and Railways; the former Minister for Markets (Mr. Paterson) has been appointed Minister for Markets and Transport; the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has been appointed Minister for Trade and Customs; the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott), Minister for Home Affairs; and Senator the Honorable. J. E. Ogden is to be an Honorary Minister.
.- I have to announce to the House that I have been re-elected Leader of the Opposition, and that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) has been elected Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this House.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1918.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate Chamber, where His Excellency was pleased to make a speech to both Houses of the Parliament, of which for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy(vide page 6). As honorable members have copies of this speech in their hands I presume that they do not desire me formally to read it.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That a committee consisting of Mr. Grosvenor Francis, Mr. Bernard Corser and the mover be appointed to prepare an AddressinReply to the speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament, and that the committee do report at the next sitting.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at half-past 2 o’clock p.m.
– Subsequent to the dissolution of the last Parliament, the people of Australia learned with much concern of the serious illness of His Majesty the King. Throughout the Empire and, indeed, the world, his condition evoked the deepest sympathy and anxiety, and was for many weeks so serious that his life was almost despaired of. I think, therefore, that on this the first day of the meeting of a new Parliament, it will be the wish of every honorable member to express, on behalf of the people of Australia, our sympathy with His Majesty and with Her Majesty the Queen and the members of the Royal Family; our sincere gratification at the improvement which has been noted in the condition of His Majesty during the last few weeks, and our profound hope, as loyal citizens of the Empire, that he may be fully restored to health in the near future. I therefore move -
That we, the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, avail ourselves of this earliest opportunity to express our deep sympathy with His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and the members of the Royal Family in the illness of His Majesty.
We are much gratified by the improvement which has already taken place in His Majesty’s state of health, and fervently hope that a complete recovery may speedily be effected.
– I second the motion submitted by the right honorable the Prime Minister and, on behalf of members of the Opposition, join with him in expressing sympathy with His Majesty the King in his illness, and our fervent hope that he may be speedily restored to good health.
.-I also desire to express my sorrow at the illness of His Majesty the King, and my hope that he may speedily recover. I wish, also, to extend my sympathy to Her Majesty the Queen. It seems to me, however, that the terms of the motion submitted by the Prime Minister do not go far enough. I should like to add to it an expression of the gratification of the House at the courage of His Royal Highness the Prince ofWales in visiting the people of the poverty-stricken coal areas of Northumberland and Durham; and of its regret at the sorrow and misery, want, desolation and death from starvation of British subjects in those areas with which His Royal Highness the Prince ofWales was confronted. May I move to add words to the motion which would do this?
– The addition of such words would not be relevant to the motion; but it would be in order to move in the direction indicated by means of an independent and substantive motion upon notice.
– The motion submitted by the honorable the Prime Minister refers to the serious illness of His Majesty the King, and expresses our sympathy with their Majesties the King and Queen and the members of the Royal Family. I wish to invite the House to express also its admiration for the courage of His Royal Highness the
Prince of Wales in visiting certain of the poverty-stricken areas in England. Do you rule that the proposed addition to the motion is out of order?
– The motion submitted by the right honorable the Prime Minister expresses the sympathy of the House with the King and with Her Majesty in His Majesty’s illness. The addition which the honorable member appears to wish to make to it relates to another matter entirely, and therefore would not be relevant. The honorable member would be in order in moving an independent motion at a later stage.
– What opportunity shall I have to do that ?
– By leave of the House.
– Which will not be granted.
– I think it will.
– Very well. On that understanding, given by the right honorable member for North Sydney, and if. the absence of any expression to the contrary by honorable members opposite-
– There is no understanding.
– I assume that the right honorable member for North Sydney correctly interprets the feelings of the Ministerial side of the House, and I am, therefore, prepared to accept his suggestion. That being so, I shall let the matter drop now.
– I desire to inform honorable members that on the 7th December, 1928, the following cablegram was despatched to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, through His Excellency the Governor-General : -
On behalf of the Commonwealth Parliament we, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, desire to express deep sympathy with Her Majesty the Queen and members of the Royal family in their anxiety, and to convey earnest wishes for the recovery of His Majesty the King.
To that message there was received the following reply: - 13th December.
Your telegram of 7th December, containing terms of a message from the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives has been laid before His Majesty the King. I am requested to convey to the President and members of the Senate and to the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives an expression of grateful appreciation from their Majesties the King and Queen for their kind message of sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the foregoing resolution be transmitted to His Majesty the King.
– (By leave) - I am sure that every honorable member learned with deep regret of the death, during the recess, of the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher. I now move -
That this House expresses its profound regret at the death of the Right Honorable Andrew Fisher, P.C., and places on record its appreciation of the distinguished service rendered to Australia by him as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and subsequently as High Commissioner for the Commonwealth in Great Britain, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
Although some years have elapsed since the late right honorable gentleman was actively identified with public life, no member of this House is unaware, and indeed very few people in Australia, are without knowledgeof his distinguished career and of the monumental service which he rendered to the Commonwealth. He arrived in Australia in 1885 and settled in Queensland. Eight years later he entered the Parliament of that State, and in 1899 became a Minister of the Crown in a Queensland administration. He was elected a member of the first Federal Parliament in 1901, and represented the constituency of Wide Bay continuously until his retirement from Federal politics in 1915. He was Minister for Trade and Customs in the Watson administration, Prime Minister and Treasurer from November, 1908, to June, 1909, from April, 1910, to June, 1913, and from September, 1914, to October, 1915. As Prime Minister he represented the Commonwealth at the opening of the Union Parliament of South Africa in 1910, and attended the Imperial Conference in 1911, and in that year was made a privy councillor by His Majesty the King. The conference of 1911, as honorable members will recall, largely concerned itself with Empire defence, and as the representative of Australia at that gathering, the late Mr. Fisher played a very important part. The supreme value of the work done by the conference was realized when the Empire was plunged into the cataclysm of the world’s war in 1914. As Prime Minister of the Commonwealth at the outbreak of the war, the late Mr. Fisher proved himself to be a true statesman, fully alive to the responsibilities of his high office. All honorable members will recall the great service which he rendered to the Empire in the early days of the war by his wholehearted support of the cause of the allies. His attitude was embodied in, and he will be long remembered for, his notable utterance that Australia was in the war to the last man and the last shilling.
The late Mr. Fisher resigned his seat in this Parliament in 1915 to assume the office of High Commissioner for Australia in London, a position which he held until 1921. During that time, and especially in the later days of the war, he rendered great service to this country. But whilst he was a great Prime Minister, I think he will be better remembered for the man he was, for the ideals which he upheld, and for his fervent patriotism and love of this, his adopted country. He was a man of great and wide sympathies, lofty ideals, great dignity, and a most striking personality. I think that everybody in Australia, irrespective of political belief, recognizes the great service that Mr. Fisher rendered to this country, and would desire that I should publicly express regret at his death. He has left behind him a name that will be honored throughout our history. To Mrs. Fisher and the members of her family, honorable members, I am sure, offer their sincerest sympathy.
.-I second the motion of the Prime Minister, and desire to express my regret, and I believe the regret of every honorable member of this House, at the death of one of the greatest men that ever rose to a public position in Australia. I can recall my early entry to the Federal Parliament at the time Mr. Fisher became Prime Minister of Australia. The admiration that I then conceived for him as a great man grew with the knowledge that I subsequently gained of him. I think probably that the most striking illustration I can recall of Mr. Fisher’s career and capabilities was a cartoon that appeared in the press on the day he became Prime Minister of Australia. That cartoon depicted a figure representing Australia speaking down the mouth of a mine and calling to Mr. Fisher, “Andy, come up, your country wants you.” That was an incident in the wonderful career of a great man who came to Australia from Scotland, and started to win his way in Queensland. He worked in the bowels of the earth in coal and gold mines, entered the public life of both State and Commonwealth, and was raised to the highest position that a public man can achieve. In those memorable years when he ruled the destinies of Australia, he laid foundations upon which we have built to some extent. In those foundations he left monuments of work which has helped this country in many a dark hour.
That is a short history of the life of this man. Those who were privileged to know him are aware that his personality was lovable in the extreme. He had a deep affection for what was good and those who were good, but a strong detestation for what he believed to be wrong. I well remember, how when we sat in Melbourne, the chamber would resound with his denunciation, spoken with a rich Scottish accent, of the things which he believed to be wrong, and of the wrongs which he wanted to be righted in the interests of the people of Australia. He aroused hostility amongst many, but he never lost the respect of any person whose opinion was worth having. I have received word that there is to be erected in the heart of the Empire a monument to his memory, because of the great services that he rendered to the British family of nations. I cannot help remembering that when he was Prime Minister of Australia, and returning from a memorable mission abroad, from a thousand platforms and by hundreds of newspapers he was denounced as one who would smash the Empire, as one who was against the Empire, and would cut the painter, to separate Australia from the rest of the British nation. But he lived down such abuse and went on his way unconcerned. He hardly paused to refute those slanders, and, for his life’s work as a citizen of Australia and a member of the British Empire, we are proud of him and revere his memory. I join with the Prime Minister in expressing our deepest sympathy with Mrs. Fisher and her family in the loss of a good father and husband and a great Australian.
– I join with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in paying a tribute to the memory of a man whose name will live in the history of this country. He was for very many years my colleague and my friend. Of the work that he did for Australia there is no need to speak now. The Leader of the Opposition has well epitomized his character. He was above all a man of the people. He understood, if any man did, the feelings of the people of Australia. He saw life from their angle, he voiced their aspirations, he fought their battles. He led them firmly and unfalteringly along the path that he conceived they should tread.
Of what he did as a builder of the Empire I let others Speak; what he did for Australia speaks for itself. For many years he laboured diligently to advance its interests. He did great things. In the first place, he helped to build up an Australian democracy. No one did more for the Australian Labour movement than Andrew Fisher; no man led it more successfully. He was the very incarnation of the ideals of Labour. He was a man at whom no one could cast a stone; hig character was unsmirched by the faintest breath of suspicion. He was not a brilliant, but rather a sterling and honorable man. He was incapable of intrigue, and was loyal to his friends, party, and country. The Leader of the Opposition said something about what Andrew Fisher did for Australia, and the Prime Minister has spoken of what he did at the 1911 Conference. He did two things that stand out. He established the Commonwealth Bank, without which, in my opinion, it would have been impossible for us to finance the war. It was the lead which that bank gave to the other financial institutions that enabled us to do what many of the financial experts of this country thought to be impossible. Mr. Fisher led the movement for an Australian Navy. Those are two great monuments to his memory. What monument it is intended to erect in the heart of the Empire I do not know, but these two will endure for generations. On the foundation stone of the Commonwealth Bank is inscribed the name of Andrew Fisher; but it is inscribed still more indelibly in the hearts of the people.
This occasion affords us an opportunity of reminding a later generation of what manner of man he was and the work he did for democracy, for Australia, and for the Empire.
I was his colleague for very many years; “my associations with him were intimate. I have never had a more loyal colleague nor a more faithful friend. We disagreed on occasions, for he was a man who formed strong opinions, which he held with tremendous tenacity ; but in all the years we never had a cross word. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that Andrew Fisher never lost the respect of any man whose respect was worth having. He never had a personal enemy. Men differed from him, but they never ceased to respect him and to regard him as a friend.
He was a very manly man; his ideals were lofty; his ideas broad. He was incapable of stooping to mean things, and he was above everything petty.
Now he has gone, and we are left to carry on the work to which he devoted his life. He leaves a widow and family. How they are circumstanced I do not know. Andrew Fisher did great things for Australia, and I would suggest to this Parliament and to the Prime Minister that the responsibility rests upon us to see that his widow and family are placed in circumstances worthy of the man we honour to-day and of the country he served so faithfully and so well.
.- As one who acted as his Whip when the late Honorable Andrew Fisher was Prime Minister of this country and, consequently, one of his most trusted colleagues, I should like to associate myself with all that has been said regarding his character and career. I shall not recapitulate those things which the deceased gentleman did for Australia and for the Empire generally, as they are too well known. I shall content myself with saying that of all the men that I have ever known in the political life of this country I do not think that there is one who understood human nature better than the late Andrew Fisher, nor was there one who had a more profound trust in his colleagues and in the Parliament generally. He was a man possessing firm convictions as to what was right and wrong and he was, as the right honorable member for North Sydney said, a good man. Perhaps he was not a brilliant orator, but he was firm of purpose, of a kindly nature and trustful of every one until he found him to be wrong. I join with those who have eulogized his work and, with the right honorable member for North. Sydney, I trust that the Prime Minister will cause some inquiry to be made concerning the circumstances of his widow and family, because I do not think this nation should allow the widow and children of any Prime Minister or responsible member of this House, whether resident in Great Britain or in Australia, to live in a state of poverty.
.- If it is true that the widow and family of the late Mr. Andrew Fisher are in need, I am sure the House will unanimously agree to make some provision so that the rest of their lives may be spent iri comfort. We very often say kind words of the dead, and, perhaps, to return in spirit and hear kind words said that were never heard during one’s life is. one of the pleasures and consolations of being deceased. Yet I remember many years ago the honorable member for Ballarat and myself hearing a conversation in the gardens of Parliament House, when a certain gentleman, speaking of the late Mr. Fisher, said: “What can one do with him? Of course, he is honest, sincere and upright, but his brain is of the smallest, and his conceit immense.” He did great work for his party. An outstanding characteristic was a grave and dignified appearance, which is a great asset. I should like to possess it myself. He had honesty of purpose; I would like that, too. I can admire in others what I do not possess myself, as I do when I look upon the gentlemen who sit upon the Government benches. They have assets which I do not possess.
I have before me a few notes to remind me of the difficulties against which the late Mr. Fisher and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) had to fight. It has been said that he was an honest and upright man, with clear and definite principles, who worked for the good of the country, which time has verified; but others have said of him, as of the right honorable member for North Sydney, that he “waa a tergiversator; was a mountebank; a teetotum, a thing spun upon the fingers of the caucus. Of the late Mr. Fisher it was said that, “If he be as honest as his followers believe, it is clear that he is a very crude and a very ignorant man, who without knowing it promises things impossible of performance.” But the things he performed were of great value to this country. The right honorable member for North Sydney has already referred to what he did in connexion with the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank. That is only one of his achievements.
In 1910, when the late Mr. Fisher was in office, one great newspaper said: “ On three points - the proposed land tax, note issue, and banking scheme - the Labour party stands condemned in the mind of every reasonable thinking man.” Yet it was these things that were established and which are at this hour monuments of his great work in this country. They have stood through all the years, and even our political opponents have not dared to interfere with them. It is true, as the right honorable member for North Sydney has said with regard to the Commonwealth Bank and the note issue, that this country was the only part of the English speaking world that was able to keep its banking institutions open at the outbreak of war. The Commonwealth Bank was the only financial institution in Australia that did not close its doors. Even the Bank of England closed its doors in order that it might make the necessary financial arrangements to prepare the way in a great national crisis, and bring into existence a national note issue which this party had established years before for the purpose of peaceful production, and not for destruction. It was said at the time that the Labour party leaders were weak, pusillanimous men; that they were the victims of foreign doctrines. That is not a quotation of the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) speaking to-day. It was also said that the Labour party leaders were the political jumping jacks of revolutionary wirepullers in the background. At the same time it was said that, if the Labour party won at the elections, religion and home life would be destroyed, marriage defiled, the country left defenceless, industries ruined, and iniquity and depravity would prevail. The late Mr. Deakin said in 1910- “If the Labour party succeeds under Andrew Fisher, then God help Australia! All I ask for is time to get out of it.” Yet the Labour party won that election, and the policy which we put into effect contained measures which have since remained impregnable. The party remained three years in office, and then attacks were made on Mr. Fisher on the ground that he was crude and ignorant, and unfit to represent this country as Prime Minister. It was stated that Labour, in its term of office, had abused every democratic principle. To-day the same persons say that Labour, in 1913, was an honest and decent party. One might think that they were talking about Mr. Bruce. On May 26th, 1913, it was stated -
There is never any talk of loyalty, duty or efficiency to be heard from Labour platforms.
The Labour Government was defeated in the House by one vote, but we came back again with a large majority, which we retained until during the war, when the party was split. On May 30th, 1913, the day before the elections, this statement appeared -
Labour is unworthy of public confidence.
That was after it had been in office for three years, and had been responsible for much beneficial legislation which remains in force to the present day. The statement continues -
Its domestic administration is a travesty of democratic government.
This is not Mr. Bruce speaking. It was said long before he came on the map. It was said while he was an Englishman and before he became an Australian. The statement proceeds -
Labour has in the past stood for many great ideals.
It always has stood for many great ideals, out, according to its opponents, always in the past. They say now that Labour iu the past stood for fine ideals, but that was when somebody else was leading it. They now say that the party stood for great ideals when Mr. Hughes was there, and when Mr. Andrew Fisher was there, but at the time they said that the party, was against every democratic principle. In 1913 it was stated -
The Labour party stands for those evils most peculiarly offensive to enlightened patriotism. Every man and woman in the Commonwealth who desires Australia to remain a free country, and desires to remain a free citizen, must vote Labour out of office.
Well, they did not vote it out of office; they voted it back with a larger majority than ever. Years have gone by; the war has gone, and Andrew Fisher has gone. His brain crumbled under the work which he did for his country. But I am now showing what an odious and unclean thing the Labour party was stated by its opponents to be even when it was led by Mr. Fisher and William Morris Hughes. Of him they said :
He is a tergiversator. He ia a mountebank. He is a teetotum - a thing spun upon the lingers of the caucus.
Let us give honour to Andrew Fisher. He had a long political career, and apparently died almost in poverty in the old country. No matter what a man’s party may have been, so long as he has served his country according to his lights, we should see that those who were dependent upon him are looked after just as if they were the dependants of a civil servant. They are entitled to such treatment. Andrew Fisher has gone; God rest his soul. His vices and his virtues will soon be forgotten; but the work which he did will remain long after he himself has ceased to be remembered.
.- One of the most loving friendships I have ever had in my life was that which existed between Andrew Fisher and myself. He was all that those who have praised him have said of him. One thing particularly will stand to his honour. Every old-age pensioner in Australia will remember that the pensioners’ home was secured to him by Andrew Fisher, not by a direct act, but by regulations for which he was re- sponsible. The present Government is now allowing those old-age pensioners to be embarrassed by having to answer a series of 68 questions, reminiscent of the old workhouse system in England. I trust that the Government will abolish this practice.
Australia gives most of the credit for the establishment of the Commonwealth Bank to Mr. King O’Malley, and rightly so, also credit belongs to the caucus of the party and to members of the Labour party outside, who made it a part of the platform, on the motion of Mr. King O’Malley. Had it not been for that support, the institution would never have been established. It took some time and much argument to persuade Andrew Fisher to see the need for the bank, but once he was seised of the fact that the Commonwealth Bank was necessary, and that the establishment of a single note issue department for the whole of Australia would be for the benefit of the country, he was unflinching in his determination to carry the measures into effect. I know that if the spirit of Andrew Fisher were here he would like me to apportion the praise for this work to the proper quarter.
The time for calling names has gone, I hope, for ever. I hope that honorable members on both sides will give credit wherever they find it for honesty of purpose and sincerity in the advocacy of a great cause. It would be better if we could give greater praise to men when they are living, instead of praising them when they are dead. I am convinced that members of both sides of the House desire to see the family of Andrew Fisher properly provided for. If they are in want, let something be done to help them. I should be pleased to contribute a month’s salary for such a purpose, and I am sure there are many others who would do the same. If, however, he left behind him a competence for his family, Parliament will be relieved of obligation. I have pleasure in seconding every kind thought expressed regarding my beloved friend Andrew Fisher.
.- As the member for the electorate so long represented by Andrew Fisher, I should like to voice my support of the motion moved by the Prime Minister. All the people of Wide Bay retain the most kindly feelings towards Mr. Fisher. and though he may have had political opponents, he had no personal enemies.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their’ places.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to Mrs. Fisher the foregoing resolution.
– (By leave) - It is with the deepest regret that I move -
That this House places on record its profound regret at the death of the Honorable Henry Bournes Higgins, late Justice of the High Court of Australia, and places on record its appreciation of the notable services rendered by him, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow in her bereavement.
The late Mr. Justice Higgins was associated with the early efforts to bring about the federation of the Australian colonies, and was a member of the Federal Convention of 1898. He played a considerable part in the drafting of the Commonwealth Constitution, which is recognized as one of the greatest instruments of government yet known. He was a member of the Parliament of Victoria, and, later, of the first and second Parliaments of the Commonwealth, holding the portfolio of Attorney-General in 1904 in the first Labor Government. In 1906 he retired from Parliament upon his appointment as a Justice of the High Court of Australia. He held that high office until his death at the end of last year. During a considerable part of the time for which he occupied a seat on the High Court Bench he acted as President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and I believe that by his work as President of that Court his name will be best remembered. He brought to the discharge of his duties a real sincerity, and an enthusiasm for the task which he had undertaken which, with his marked ability, enabled him to become one of the greatest authorities in the world upon the very difficult and complicated problems associated with compulsory industrial arbitration. His death will be mourned by the people of Australia, who had the greatest admiration for him because of his sincerity of purpose and his great devotion to his public duties. On behalf of all the members of the House, 1 express deep sympathy with his widow in her great bereavement.
.-I joh, with the Prime Minister in expressing our deep regret at the death of Mr. Justice Higgins. His Honor played many important parts in the life of Australia and invariably displayed, not only great ability, but great courage. I can remember many instances in his life, which I shall not now recall in detail, when it would have been much easier and pleasanter for him to follow the current of public opinion than to battle against it, but he always took the course his conscience dictated, irrespective of the consequences. Because of this, he has left behind him a name which the people honour. Although, as the Prime Minister has said, he rendered important public service in connexion with the framing of the Constitution, and subsequently, as a member of this Parliament and of the High Court Bench, his name will be remembered amongst us most of all for the great and enduring work he performed as President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. I believe that he made industrial arbitration possible in Australia, and I trust that there will follow in his steps others who will help to retain it. Mr. Justice Higgins was eminently fitted for the high and distinguished part thai he played in the public life of Australia in pre-federation days and also for his membership of the Commonwealth High Court, because he was a great democrat. His record as President of the Arbitration Court showed that he was a man of humane instincts and of marked impartiality. I believe that every decision that he gave was arrived at honestly. He was a great and a just man, and his place on our High Court Bench will be hard to fill. We sympathize with his widow in her great loss.
.- 1 desire to associate my name with this motion, the object of which is to honour the memory of a great man.
The late Mr. Justice Higgins followed in the footsteps of a great, though not a greater predecessor, the late Mr. Justice Higinbotham. He was a very able lawyer, and an equally able and honoured parliamentarian. My admiration for him rests chiefly upon his great and unshakable courage in holding and expressing unpopular opinions. For many years he was, as has been stated, President of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration established by this Parliament. In discharging the duties of that high office, he naturally and necessarily had many critics. Sometimes these were to be found in the ranks of the employers and their representatives in Parliament, and sometimes in the ranks of the employees; but none of his critics had the temerity to challenge either his honesty or ability. His life has been, and will be, a source of inspiration to those who are ambitious to follow along the lines that be laid down, and his honesty, integrity and fearlessness will be a source of encouragement to many. He taught one lesson in particular to which I would invite the attention of the Government, and that is that there is a tremendous responsibility resting upon those who have the duty of making appointments to high public positions, and especially to judicial offices. ‘
.- Mr. Justice Higgins was a man who was fearless in his opinions. He was a vicepresident of the Peace Society at the time when the Reverend Laurence Rentoul was president. During the Boer war, John Murray, who was later Premier of Victoria, was also a vicepresident. This was a small society in comparison with the numbers opposed to it, but it fought for the rights of the Boer farmers in the Transvaal with vigour and courage. No truer men ever fought for what they considered right. The Reverend Dr. Strong, of the Australian Church, who, I am happy to say is still alive, was also a strong force in that society, and his association there with the late Dr. Laurence Rentoul, of the Presbyterian Church, terminated the long and bitter quarrel which had existed between them, and cemented their lasting friendship. The late Mr. Justice Higgins followed well in the footsteps of the late Mr. Justice Higinbotham; it may be truly said that upon his shoulders fell the mantle of his distinguished and humane predecessor. I well remember the ovation that was given to Mr. Justice Higgins when he attended at the Trades Hall, Melbourne, to witness the unveiling of a painting of Mr. Justice Higinbotham. No greater testimony was ever paid to any man than was then paid to that upright and just judge. So widespread was his good fame that when I toured South Africa many Boer members of Parliament spoke with loving appreciation of what he, Dr. Strong and Dr. Rentoul, had done to assist them. The late Mr. Justice Higgins was fearless in the expression of his views and in upholding what he considered to be right, and’ I think the electors of Geelong were unjust when they deprived him of his seat in the State legislature. He is gone; peace to his ashes, God rest his soul. I hope that the judges of to-day and those of the future may regulate their conduct by his example.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to Mrs. Higgins the foregoing resolution and a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.
– By leave-
– Order ! Does the honorable member wish to make a statement or submit a motion ?
– To submit a motion, as you, Mr. Speaker, and the Prime Minister clearly understood.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to move a motion ?
– Leave having been refused, the honorable member may not proceed.
– I had your distinct promise, Mr. Speaker, that I would be given an opportunity to submit my motion. I knew very well that any appeal to the Prime Minister and his supporters would be futile, but you, sir, clearly and distinctly understood what I intended, and I expect you to keep your word of honour that I would be given an opportunity to submit a separate motion.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to resume his seat.
– I shall do nothing of the kind.
– Order! I gave no promise to the honorable member that he would be given an opportunity to submit a motion ; indeed I could not do so. The honorable member was told that a substantive motion could not be moved without notice unless the leave of the House were first obtained. That leave has been refused. This matter is not within the discretion of the Speaker; the House has decided that the honorable member shall not be given leave and he may not proceed further.
– I was distinctly in order in moving my motion as an addendum to the original motion, but was prevented from doing so.
– I ask the honorable member to resume his seat, and I remind him that the only business proposed to be transacted this afternoon is the passage of certain resolutions of sympathy relating to distinguished Australians who have passed away. In such circumstances, it is not usual for the House to transact ordinary business.
– (By leave)- I move -
That this House expresses its sincere regret at the death of the late Senator David Andrew, and places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his son and daughters in their bereavement.
All honorable members must have learned with sorrow of the death of Senator Andrew at Bendigo in November last. His decease followed very closely that of his wife, and was the culmination of an illness that had lasted for a considerable time. He had intended to stand for re-election to the Senate, but because of the state of his health found it impossible to face the ardours of an election campaign, and just prior to nomination day found it necessary to announce that he would not be a candidate. His death shortly after the elections was not altogether unexpected. He had been a member of this Parliament since 1925, when he was elected a senator for Victoria, and his genial disposition and lovable personality made for him many good friends, who mourn sincerely his departure. He leaves behind him a record of meritorious public service; he was ever active in promoting and assisting all charitable efforts in the district in which he resided, and his death is deeply regretted by many people throughout Victoria.
.- Honorable members of this chamber were not privileged to come into close contact with the late honorable senator, sitting as he did in another chamber, but those who had opportunities to meet him outside, whilst travelling or in other ways, always found him a congenial companion, and a very fine personality. The late Senator Andrew was highly esteemed in the district in which he lived in Victoria. As a private citizen he did very good work, and, as a member of the Senate, he carried out his duties faithfully and well. I am sure we all join in expressing our deep sympathy with his family in their sad loss.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to.
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to the family of the late Senator Andrew the foregoing resolution, and a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.
– As a mark of respect to the memory of the late honorable gentlemen-. I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.32 p.m. .,
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1929/19290206_reps_11_120/>.