12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon, Norman Makin) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and offered prayers.
– by leave - In consequence of the vote carried yesterday, I waited upon the Governor-General this morning, and tendered him the advice contained in the following letter : - 26th November, 1931.
I beg to inform youthat yesterday a motion for the adjournment ofthe House was carried against the Government, by a majority of five, bya combination of the Nationalist party, the Country party, and the group led by Mr. Beasley.
I formally advise Your Excellency to grant a dissolution of the House of Representatives.
I may add that, the Appropriation Bill havingbeen passed, financial provision has been made for carryingon the public services for the financial year.
I have the honour to be, Your Excellency’s most obedient servant,
His Excellency’s reply, which has just reached me, reads as follows : -
Government House, Canberra, 26th November, 1931.
My dear Prime Minister,
In acknowledging receipt of your letter of the 26th November, 1931, I have to say that, in view of the present constitutional position of the Governor-General of a dominion, as determined by the Imperial Conference of 1920, confirmed by that of 1930, I am of opinion, after careful consideration, that it is my duty in existing circumstances to accept the advice tendered by you and accordingly to grant the dissolution asked for. I note that parliamentary provision has already been made for carrying on the necessary public services.
For the principles upon which I act I make reference to various works by Professor Berriedale Keith, in which passages occur relating to the duty of a Governor-General in such a case as the present. In his Responsible Government in the Dominions (1928), at pages 147 and 148. there is a passage beginning: “ Mr. King then very properly advised Lord Byng . . . “, and ending with the words “ political realities “. In his work, The Sovereignty of the British Dominions (August, 1929), I refer to pages 244-246, and especially to the passage on page245 beginning: “There is, in fact, no dominion tradition comparable . . “, and ending, “ conform to British practice”. Lastly, in, I believe, his latest work, Dominion Autonomy in Practice (September, 1929), there is a passage at page 5 where, afterquoting the resolution of the Imperial Conference of 1926, the learned author says: “ The essential result of this pronouncement, which is inapplicable to the States or Provinces, is to require the GovernorGeneral to assimilate his official action to that of the King in the United Kingdom. It does not mean thathe is deprived of all authority to refuse to act on ministerial advice, for if, for instance, after oneunsuccesful dissolution Ministers asked him to grant another,he would clearly be bound to refuse thus to violate the Constitution. But it means thathe should, save in extreme crises, accept the advice of Ministers, as readily as did the King in 1024, when he dissolved Parliament at the request ofMr.Ramsay MacDonald without trying to find an alternative government “.
Even apart from the practice recognized by the Imperial Conference of1926, there are considerations in the known circumstances which tend to support the acceptance of the advice tendered to me. They are such as the strength and relation of various parties in the House ofRepresentatives and the probability in anycase of an early election being necessary.
– I take it that eighteen senators will also retire, and an election will be held to fill their places.
.-by leave-I place on the table of the House for the information of honorable members a copy of the bill to give effect to the Statute of Westminster, which is now before the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Honorable members will note that the bill does not contain the second part of paragraph 2, of clause 4 of the resolution passed by both Houses of this Parliament in July last. These words were added to the resolution when it was before this House as a further assurance against any possible interference by the Commonwealth Parliament with matters solely within the authority of the States. As a still further assurance, this Parliament last month passed a further resolution, the terms of which are contained in clause 9 (2) of the bill.
The Government in the United Kingdom informed the Commonwealth Government that the omission of the words to which I have referred was based upon the view that the omitted provision was fully covered by the later resolution, which was intended to be in. substitution for it. In reply, the Commonwealth Government informed the Government in the United Kingdom that that was not its intention, but that in its view there was a distinction between the two provisions. Whilst both refer to legislation by the Parliament at Westminster in respect of matters within the exclusive powers of the States, the omitted words provide that the statute does not authorize a request by the Commonwealth for such legislation without the concurrence of the States, and the supplementary resolution means that a request by a State for such legislation does notrequire the concurrence of the Commonwealth, where such concurrence is not required by the existing constitutional practice.
The Government in the United Kingdom has proposed that the clause be omitted for the present, and that the question of its later insertion be considered after the consultation with the States, which has been promised before the statute is brought into operation in Australia. As the Government in the United Kingdom is, advised that the omission of the clause meanwhile cannot affect the rights of the States, the Commonwealth Government has acquiesced in this proposal.
The following papers were presented : -
Statute of Westminster - Copy of Bill as introduced into the House of Commons.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act -
Determinationsby the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 27 of 1931- Australian Postal Electricians Union.
No. 28 of 1931- Fourth Division Officers Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 29 of 1931- Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 30 of 1931- Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks Union.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 133.
Audit Act - Transfers approved by the Governor-Generalin Council - Financial Year 1930-31-
Order regarding Salaries - Dated 30th October, 1931.
Dated30th October, 1931.
Dated 18th November, 1931.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 134.
Financial Emergency Acts - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 138.
Inscribed Stock Act - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules 1931, No. 129.
Nationality Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 124.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules 1931, No. 139.
New Guinea Act - Ordinance of 1931 - No. 32- Supply (No. 3) 1931-32.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance of 1931 - No. 10 - Liquor.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Mortgagors’ Interest Reduction Ordinance - Regulations.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, Nos. 128, 132.
Public Service Act - Eighth Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Board of Commissioners, dated 17th November, 1931.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1931 -
No. 20 - Mining.
No. 21 - Seat of Government (Administration).
No. 22 - Workmen’s Compensation.
Public Health Ordinance - Regulations amended (Meat).
Transport Workers Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, Nos. 126, 127, 140, 141.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) - by leave - agreed to.
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the validation of collections of duties of customs under customs tariff proposals.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Mr.FORDE (Capricornia - Minister for Trade and Customs) [2.42] - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
There are four validating bills to be introduced; the othersbeing an excise validation bill, a primage duties validation bill, and a special duties validation bill. The bill now before us is to legalize the collection of duties under the customs tariff proposals of this Govrnment. The dates upon which they were introduced are specified in the bill itself. The vital clause of the bill is the final one.
Although the duties set forth in the tariff proposals have been passed by this House, they have not been passed in another place, and, unless the collections of the duties specified in the tariff proposals are validated, all payments in excess of the rates provided for under the 1921-28 customs tariff will have to be refunded. This would involve the return of many millions of pounds. If this bill is passed it will authorize, until the 29th February, 1932, the collection of the duties specified in the tariff proposals as amended by the House of Representatives. The passing of validation acts, in circumstances similar to the present, is a usual procedure, and has been adopted by many governments. In 1925, an act was passed validating for twelve months the customs proposals then before the House. In 1929 another act was put through in similar circumstances by the Bruce-Page Government, providing for the validation of customs collections for a period of three months. The same thing was done in respect of the excise tariff schedule. Three months has always been the minimum period for which such validating measures have provided.
.- Honorable members ought to be given copies of the bill. There is no reason why we should not be allowed to see for ourselves just to what we are commiting the country.
– The Minister has said that it is for a period of three months.
– I know, but I am very chary of accepting such statements. I believe that we ought to be satisfied to validate the customs collections up to the present time, and from now on to revert to the original tariff. The present tariff schedule was introduced without regard to the opinion of the Tariff Board specially set up to advise on such matters. In many instances the report of the Tariff Board was presented only after the item to which it referred had been dealt with in the House.
– What about galvanized iron ?
– The honorable member might do well to recall what happened in regard to tools of trade, including picks and shovels used by the workers.
The board’s report was held back until after the item had been passed by this House.
– If these bills are passed, validating customs collections for a period of three months, will that preclude Parliament from amending the tariff schedule?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and - by leave - passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) - by leave. - agreed to -
Thathe have leave to bring in a bill for anact to provide for the validation of collections of duties of excise under excise tariff proposals.
Bill brought up, and - by leave - passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) - by leave - agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the validation of collections of primage duties of customs under customs tariff proposals.
Bill brought up, and - by leave - passed through all its stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) - by leave - agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the validation of collections of special duties of customs under customs tariff proposals.
Bill brought up, and - by leave - passed through all its stages without amendment or. debate.
– I wish, to ask you, Mr. Speaker, a question regarding procedure. I understand that it has been the rule of this House for members of the Opposition to sit on the Opposition benches, and yet five honorable members, who were returned to this House as Labour supporters, but have voted against the party and, consequently should be sitting on the opposite side of the House, are seated on the Government side.
– Where he shall sit is left entirely to the personal discretion of the honorable member concerned.
Sitting suspended from2.56 to 5.15 p.m.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without requests: -
Customs Tariff Validation Bill.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill.
Customs Tariff (Primage Duties) Validation Bill.
Customs Tariff (Special Duties) Validation Bill.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Norman Makin). In view of the announcement that has been made, I havewithdrawn the writ that I issued for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Wimmera.
Motion (by Mr. Scullin) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next at3 p.m.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Before the House adjourns, I desire to notify honorable members of the dates which have been decided upon in connexion with the election. At this stage the dates, other than that of polling day, are only tentative; because we have to await replies from the State Governors regarding the election for the Senate. It is proposed that the House of Representatives shall be dissolved as from the 27th November; that the writs shall be issued on the 28th November; that nominations shall be receivable until the 5th December, and that the 19th December shall be polling day. Two considerations have weighed with the Government in deciding upon those dates ; first, that in this time of depression it is not desirable that the country should be in the turmoil of a general election for a long period; and, secondly, that to extend the date of the election beyond the 19th December would be to carry the campaign over the Christmas and New Year holidays, probably to the 9th or the 16th January, thereby interfering with the Christmas trade. In the interests of Australia generally - and that should be our first consideration - the Government has made what it considers to be the best arrangement. The time allowed is practically the same as for the last general election campaign.
It will not be possible to have the same dates for the issue of the writs and the receiving of nominations for the Senate as for the House of Representatives, although the polling day will be the same, because in some States the law requires notice for the issue of writs. In South Australia the period is nine days, and in Western Australia and Tasmania seven days; in the other States there is no time limit. The issue of writs for the Senate is in the hands of the State Governors. In New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland the respective electoral dates for the Senate will bc the same as for the House of Representatives. In Western Australia and Tasmania, provided the necessary proclamations can be issued to-day, as the Government has requested, the writs for the Senate will he issued on the 3rd December, and nominations will be receivable until the 10th December, while in South Australia the respective dates will be the 5th and the 12th December. In all States the’ polling day for both Houses will be the 19th December. The dates tentatively set down for the Senate may be altered, should advice be received that in any State the message from the Governor-General to the State Governor has not been received in time to permit of the writ being issued to-day.
We shall not meet again in this chamber before Christmas, and when the new Parliament assembles we may not all be members of it. Whatever our political differences, I feel, Mr. Speaker, that all honorable members would desire me to express their appreciation of the way in
Ur. Scullin. which you have presided over this Parliament for the past two years.
Honorable MEMBERS - Hear, hear!
– I do not think that your impartiality has ever been doubted by any honorable member in any part of the House. It may be that at times your ruling has been disagreed with, but that has been due not to any doubt a3 to your impartiality, but to an honest difference of opinion. I do not think that any honorable member questions your capacity for the important and onerous duties falling to your lot as presiding officer.
The Chairman of Committees also has laboured long, especially during the discussion on the tariff, and has given his rulings impartially, in accordance with the Standing Orders. He has been industrious and assiduous in the performance of his duties. Prom time to time he has been ably assisted by willing Temporary Chairmen, drawn from both sides of the House.
Although on many occasions Parliament has expressed its appreciation of the work of the Clerks of the House, I feel that we should again express our gratitude for their unfailing courtesy, marked ability, and impartiality in the performance of their duties. The same may be said of Hansard - that faithful band of nien who record more than faithfully the utterances of honorable members. To the staff generally - the attendants, messengers, and others who wait upon us and make our work congenial - as well as to the staff of the library for their efficient and enthusiastic assistance, we tender our thanks.
Last, but not least, I mention the officers of the various administrative departments who have been in attendance many long and weary hours while the debates have been in progress, and have been most helpful to all of us. We are fortunate in that in the members of the Public Service we have men who will work . as loyally for one Government as for another, and I feel sure that there is not one private member who has gone to them for assistance and been refused it. I speak with some knowledge of the Federal Public Service - and I have no reason to doubt that the same is true of the Public Services of the States - when I say that it is an efficient, loyal body of officers.
To honorable members generally, whatever my wishes for them politically may be, I extend the best wishes for a happy Christmas and a better New Year than we have experienced for some time.
.- On behalf of the members of the Opposition I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister, and express to you, sir, our appreciation of the ability, the impartiality, the firmness and the courage which you have invariably displayed during your occupancy of the eminent position of Speaker.
I also desire to thank the Chairman of Committees, and those honorable members who have acted as Temporary Chairmen, for their able services. No honorable member can cavil at the way in which those gentlemen have presided over the proceedings of this chamber.
To the Clerk, the Clerk Assistants, and other officials of the House, I express the thanks of honorable members for the high quality of the service that they have rendered, while to the departmental heads and other officers mentioned by the Prime Minister we are also grateful. We know that these officers are entirely impartial in their service, that party does not enter into their consideration; and that they are loyal to the Government that is in power, and to the Commonwealth which they serve with such marked ability. I agree with the Prime Minister that we owe more thanks to Hansard than to anybody else.
In regard to honorable members generally, I echo the remarks of the Prime Minister. Whatever I and my colleagues may desire politically, I say quite conscientiously that, personally, no honorable member in this House deserves other than the best wishes from his fellow members for a happy Christmas and New Year. Politically, we are entering upon what may be termed a close season for fellowship, but before it begins we exchange cordial good wishes, which I and my colleagues extend also to the people of the Commonwealth.
.- On behalf of members of the Country party I desire to express appreciation of the manner in which you, Mr. Speaker, have presided over the affairs of this chamber during the past two years. I endorse the remarks of those who have preceded me as to your impartiality, your courage, and the able way in which you have carried out the important duties of your high office. I congratulate you, sir, on the study that you have applied to parliamentary practice and to precedents, in the endeavour to preserve due order during our deliberations. My colleagues and I have not always agreed with your rulings, but the approaching festive season precludes a reference to anything of a contentious nature.
I also congratulate the Chairman of Committees and the Temporary Chairmen for the excellent work that they have performed during their period of office. My colleagues and I regret exceedingly that the accident that occurred to the Chairman of Committees some few years ago, unfortunately, made him slightly deaf on this side, which was occasionally noticeable during the term of this Parliament.
I particularly desire to express the appreciation of members of the Country party for the capable manner in which the Clerk, his assistant, and those who are engaged in transcribing our speeches - the members of the Hansard department - have carried out their duties. We have laboured consistently and earnestly during the past two years, perhaps with a result that is not very apparent. However, that does not detract from the endeavours of those officers. We hope that they, and honorable members generally, may spend a very happy Christmas.
I express the wish that the New Year will be a pleasant one, not only for honorable members and those associated with this Parliament, including departmental officers, but for the people of Australia as a whole, and particularly for those who are at present out of work and destitute.
.- I join cordially in the felicitations that have been expressed. They are associated with the season, are part of the courtesies of life, and should be extended irrespective of our political convictions.
One important reference, however, has been omitted. No mention has has been made of the misery of hundreds of thousands in this continent of ours. Not one word of hope has been sent out to those who have for years undergone privations and passed through a really awful existence that is a discredit to any civilized community. We are on the eve of an election which has been precipitated by party jealousy and discord. Yesterday the Opposition were able to ensnare those supporters of the Lang plan known as the Beasley group, and use them to serve their purpose. It has been claimed that Parliament is being dissolved as the result of a challenge that was thrown out by the Prime Minister, and with the desire to call the bluff of the Beasley group. That is merely an excuse. When I face my electors in the near future, the issue will not be the dispute between the Langites and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) about how certain money should be distributed. There is no suggestion that the Government manipulated the distribution of money for relief work in my electorate. Only recently I was in Adelaide and saw a queue stretched from the post office right along King William-street, consisting of men whose presence there was a protest against and a refutation of the statement that they did not want to work, but desired to live on the dole. They gave the lie direct to that insinuation. What is this Parliament offering to those unfortunate people for the months to come? There has not been any proposal that the hours of labour should be shortened to provide a better distribution of the work that is available. I hope earnestly that at the forthcoming election we shall be able to throttle the financial oligarchy that has refused to do the job before it. Men have worked themselves out of jobs, simply because saturation point has been reached. There are not sufficient jobs available for those who seek employment; the position must be readjusted. That will be the election issue in my constituency. I stand for a fair and reasonable living for every human being in the community. I do not intend to allow the position to be camouflaged by irrelevancies but will make known the facts to the people. It is not a matter of whether the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore), or any other honorable member, overstepped the bounds, and acted improperly in an endeavour to obtain work for his constituents. We are really going to the country not on that issue, but on an issue which involves the provision of ways and means for the finding of work for nearly a half of a million people in a country opulent with wealth. We have heard on other occasions that our national income has fallen by £200,000,000, but on this occasion no one has drawn attention to the fact that since that statement was made our national income has risen by £100,000,000, nor has attention been directed to the fact that unemployment has not decreased in proportion to the increase in the national wealth. I endorse the felicitous remarks that have been made; but I also have some consideration for the poor devils in this community to whom this Christmas will be the worst in their experience. I hope that they will never have another of the same kind.
– Having served more years in parliamentary life than any other honorable member in this House, I take this opportunity of asking whether it is not possible to make Parliament a much better machine than it is at present. I have not occupied much of the time of this Parliament in the making of speeches, for I have realized that my chief and his party have faced great difficulties, and I have, therefore, kept quiet. I do not know whether I have been right or wrong in so doing. For 39 years I was very closely associated with the unemployed of this country ; hut when a man reaches the age of 77 years, he feels that the burden of this work should_ be left to younger men. I thank, the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), who will, I hope, be returned at the coming election with a very large majority, for having mentioned the plight of these unfortunate people.
Of you, Mr. Speaker, I wish to say that I have been a keen admirer. I loved you, as one man may love another, when
I first met you, and we have become firm friends. No Speaker, in my experience, has held the scales more evenly than you. In fact, few have even approached; your standard in that respect. The Chairman of Committees and the Temporary Chairmen have all done their work splendidly.
I have always admired the men who record our speeches, and on many occasions I have had to thank them for furnishing a better report of my speeches than was deserved. I think most honorable members could say that. Of the other officials of the House, whether messengers or highly paid servants, I wish to say that no body of men could have been more loyal or dutiful, irrespective of whichever political party happened to be in power.
But is Parliament the splendid machine that it should be? I unhesitatingly answer “ No.” There is a revulsion of feeling against Parliaments and parliamentary procedure by the people, because they feel that it is not giving full effect to the wishes of the democracy. There are nine dictators in the world to-day who have upset parliamentary procedure in their countries. It has been asserted in this House that Australia needs a dictator, and that if it had one things would be better than they are. I believe that there is not a dictator in the world who would allow thousands of his fellow people to want for food, shelter and clothing. Yet that is the case in Australia, although this Continent produces more food per inhabitant than any other country in the world. We know very well that “gold diggers “ - men who seek place and pay - are not unknown in Parliament. Every party is more or less tinged by their influence. « Honorable members know very well that this is the truth. What can we do to put an end to such infamy? The best way to do it would be to place Ministers and members alike on a standard rate of pay. The amount might be £1,000 or- it might be £800, but whatever it is, it should apply to all members of Parliament. This would do away with the “gold diggers.” Ministers should have at their command every appliance that science can make available to them to help them in their work, and they should have the best motor cars that can be bought in, order to save their time. All private members should be attached to public departments. We have twelve Ministers and Assistant Ministers. I believe that it would be wise to divide the number of private members of Parliament evenly among the departments they administer, and oblige every member of the Senate and the House of Representatives to give six hours’ service a day for five days a week in the department to which he is attached. This would be of help to the departments. It would be a good thing, too, if the example of the former Prime Minister, Mr. S. M. Bruce, were followed. When that right honorable gentleman became Prime Minister, he withdrew his attention from the SOftgoods business in which he was interested, and put a man in his place there to do his work. If honorable members of Parliament, who have other occupations apart from their parliamentary duties, whether they be doctors, lawyers, or anything else, would do the same thing, and devote the whole of their time and energies to the discharge of their parliamentary duties, it would be in the best interests of the country. On to-day’s notice-paper I had the following question which I desired to ask the Prime Minister : -
I am sure that the honorable gentleman would have furnished me with a reply, had the exigencies of the situation permitted him to do so. I believe that one of the first duties of Parliament is to ensure that work will be found for all the citizens of the country. How far would the £250,000 mentioned by the honorable member for Adelaide go in thi* direction? It would make available only about 12s. 6d. each to the moro than 400,000 men and women who are unemployed in this country. What good, in God’s name, would that do? In Great Britain the Government provides every week 15s. for every woman, and 17s. for every nian out of work.
I come now to a consideration of Australia House. Oan any one defend the expenditure of £1,000,000 on that building and the land on which it stands? And for what? God only knows; I do not know myself. I have been in England three times, and I never met a man who could give any sound reason why we should go on maintaining that institution. It has cost over £1,000,000 to maintain since it was built. We are shortly to have an election. Why could we not place before the electors, by way of referendum, one single question, asking whether or not they favoured the continuation of Australia House. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) has on the noticepaper a motion for the abandonment -of Canberra, which is a financial ulcer, draining the resources of Australia; yet the people have no opportunity to put an end to it. No opportunity is provided for the discussion of that motion, because the rights of private members have been taken away from them.
There is also my motion on the noticepaper regarding the institution of the initiative, the referendum and the recall. Of this I speak with all reverence, as if I were indeed in the presence of my Maker. If God be God, He never created anything His equal. He never allowed any created thing to make itself His equal. Why should the citizens of Australia, whose creature this Parliament is, be compelled to accept Parliament as something greater than themselves? On one day in three years they control Parliament, and on that day only. They should control Parliament every day in the year. I have given to my constituents for the last 42 years the right to drag me out of Parliament at one day’s notice, provided a demand, signed by one over half the number who voted for me, is served upon mp. If we ever have the referendum, initiative and recall, there will be no need for these absurd elections. A member could keep his place in the House only if he were of good behaviour, and honoured the pledges he made to his constituents. The constantly recurring expense of elections would be avoided.
I strongly object to the rights of private members being filched from them. Private members from all parts of the House have tabled motions in the vain hope that they would be afforded an opportunity of speaking to them. I intend to ask the electors from the platform not to vote for any candidate unless he will give his constituents the power to recall him in the event of his not honouring his pledges. I shall say to the electors that they, the creators of Parliament, should have the power to control Parliament. When the people have that power they will not allow any Government, whether Labour, Nationalist, Country or Liberal, to leave 400,000 men, women and children - in need of food and shelter in a continent that grows moVe food in proportion to its population than any other continent in the world.
.- I should not have spoken were it not for one or two statements made by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) - statements which I cannot allow to go unchallenged. By innuendo, of which the honorable member is a master, he endeavoured to create the impression that the coming election has been precipitated because of some collaboration between the group of which I am a member, and members of the official Opposition. The members of the group to which I belong believed that something had occurred which called for an inquiry. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) moved the adjournment of the House in order to discuss the matter, thus taking advantage of a right which has been exercised hundreds of times while I have been in this Parliament. He made a proposal to the Government that if it would allow an unbiased inquiry to be held into the charges, which were supported by statutory declarations, he would himself vote in support of the Government, if. a vote were taken. It was because the Government refused his request for an inquiry that he pressed an with his motion. For the approaching election the Government is alone responsible. Instead of shedding crocodile tears over the lot of the unemployed, the honorable member for Adelaide would have done better had he, during the last two years, used his influence and his vote to induce the Government to do something to relieve unemployment. It is in bad taste for the honorable member, now that everything is in the melting pot, to try to make an issue out of the unemployment problem. I take it that honorable members will put their platform before the electors in due course. The members of the group to which I belong will not be backward in doing so, and we have a very definite policy for the solution of the unemployment problem. We will state that policy clearly and unequivocally, so that all who hear or read it will be able to understand it. Our policy statement will not be loaded with a superfluous verbiage which might he made to mean anything. There will he about it no ambiguity behind which we can shelter when asked to stand by our pledges. The honorable member for Adelaide endeavoured, I think, to create the impression that the members of the group to which I belong were in some way lacking in sympathy with the unemployed. If we had been able to see any hope that the Government would do something to relieve the distress and want from which so many thousands of citizens are suffering, we would have been prepared to condone even some measure of maladministration in order that it might carry out its policy. It was because for two years we bad had from the Government nothing but vacillation and exhibitions of hopeless ineptitude that we decided to take the step we did, being quite indifferent whether the Government remained in office or not. So far as we can see, it matters little to the unemployed whether the present Government remains in office, or the Opposition is returned.
– The honorable member will have a bitter experience.
– I am speaking from the bitter experience of the last two years. Government supporters - I am not including the Attorney-General - will at least give me credit for being honest, and for doing what I believed to be right.
– Why all this selfadulation ?
– I am simply replying to the statements of the honorable member for Adelaide, and giving my record of two years, which has to be adjudged by the people as to whether it is worthy or unworthy.
– Why not say all this in the constituencies?
– When honorable members are inspired to make statements challenging the bona fides of other honorable members, they must expect an answer. I have been forced, therefore, to speak; I should not otherwise have done so at this stage of the proceedings.
On behalf of the group which I represent, I express my keen appreciation of your impartiality, Mr. Speaker, and of the masterly manner in which you have conducted the proceedings of this House. You have upheld the dignity of that office with much credit to yourself. I also wish to express my appreciation of the work of the Chairman of Committees, of the members of the Hansard staff, and the other officers of Parliament. We appreciate the efficient service rendered to us by our officers.
I” regret that I have been compelled to reply to statements which I consider a reflection upon the integrity of the members of my party.
– I join with the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) in his recognition of your impartiality, Mr. Speaker, throughout the whole of the proceedings of this Parliament, and I deeply appreciate the courtesy that you have extended to me. I also wish to endorse the references which have been made to the efficient service of the parliamentary officers. ‘-.
As we shall not have another opportunity in this chamber of referring to it, I should like to have some information now from the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin)’ or the: Postmaster-General (Mr. A. Green) as to the Government’s decision or attitude in regard to broadcasting. There is no doubt that the coining electoral campaign will be a short one, and that the facilities offered by means of the A class stations will be a big factor in the decision of the people. It is customary, I believe, for the A class stations, under the direction of the Postmaster-General, to offer these facilities to the respective parties contesting the election. I believe that opportunities are provided in each State for the broadcasting of messages by the different parties. As this election will be fought upon important issues, I should like .to have from the Postmaster-General or the Prime Minister an intimation as to the decision of the Government in this matter. AVe are anxious that our opinions shall be known throughout the country. We are not asking for any privilege which is not extended to any other party. I am desirous of knowing before we leave Canberra exactly where we stand in regard to broadcasting, and whether we are to have the same concession as will be extended to other parties in this House.
.- I had the great privilege of seconding the motion for your elevation to the Chair, Mr. Speaker, and I should like now, at the termination of this Parliament, to express the great pleasure that I have had in watching the admirable manner in which you have presided over the deliberations of -the chamber. It is of great satisfaction to this Parliament to know that its presiding officer has its respect and entire confidence, and, furthermore, that he upholds the highest traditions of British parliamentary institutions.
I express my indebtedness to the Clerk, the Clerk Assistant, and the members of the reporting staff for the consideration that they have shown to me. I have not been sufficiently long in Parliament to feel quite comfortable in carrying out the duty that is imposed upon me, and I should be lacking in recognition of the help I have received if I failed to express my great indebtedness to those who have assisted me.
To honorable members opposite, in particular, I give my good wishes. I admire them for the part that they have played in the public life of this country. I differ from them, but I believe that our differences are useful to the community, because they permit this great nation to make the best choice between candidates for the well-being of the country. I hope that they will have a happy and prosperous Christmas, in which their constituents will share. I hope, too, that my constituents will be happy and prosperous, and that they may think their happiness and prosperity are associated in some way with my return to this Parliament.
– I wish to join with other honorable members in paying my tribute to you, Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of Committees, and the officers of the House.
My object in rising is to impress upon the Government the great necessity, in view of the fact that we are to have a rush election, for allowing all parties the freedom of the air. At election time, and particularly during a record short campaign, the people of Australia want to know more than they do at any other time about the issues that have to be determined, and if there is any undue restriction upon the use. of the air, it will be very unfair to them and to the parties which will suffer as a result of foolish interference with the liberty that belongs to all political parties. I am not speaking with any knowledge of what may be the Government’s intention, but in view of the fact that this will be the last opportunity that honorable members on this side of the House will have of placing their views before the Government on this important subject, I earnestly hope, and I think, that all honorable members on this side will join with me, that the Government will be as generous as possible to all parties, and not take up the stand that only its supporters, and say, the official opposition, shall have the right to address the people over the air through the A class broadcasting stations. During the recent election in Great Britain practically the whole of the publicity, and all the policy speeches were put to the people over the air. It has now become the recognized practice in all countries that have established well organized broadcasting systems, to allow the utmost freedom, not only to political parties, but also to candidates, in placing their views before the electors. This country has not reached the stage at which candidates can expect to be given that privilege, but we certainly can expect that any party which is recognized by the electors as a party - and I am speaking particularly of the Country party - shall have the right that is given to any other party to broadcast its views. It is a question not of the size of the party, but whether every party is to be given an opportunity to use this magnificent means of placing its views before the people. In the coming election we shall have practically three weeks’ campaign, which will make it utterly impossible for country members to travel throughout their electorates and personally place their views before their constituents. It will be comparatively simple for the representatives of metropolitan constituencies to get into contact with their electorates. We can safely say that the majority of the countryelectors will not have personal interviews with their candidates, particularly with the leaders of the parties. For that reason I strongly urge, on behalf of the Country party, the fairness - I shall not express it otherwise - of extending to the representatives of all recognized parties the privilege of addressing the electors of Australia in this way.
.- I wish to add my word of appreciation to what has been said regarding the impartial manner in which you, sir, have conducted the affairs of this House for the past two years. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and his associates must feel gratified to know that their action has deprived the waterside workers of this country of privileges which the present Government gained for them. They entered into a combination with the Opposition which made that possible, and I feel that it is only right that we should remind them that what has happened is due to their action.
– With profound gratitude, I acknowledge the most generous references that have been made to the service which I have rendered during my ‘occupancy of the Speakership. It is with intense satisfaction that, at the conclusion of my term of office, I have heard the expressions of confidence and goodwill of honorable members of all parties.
– You deserve them.
– During the life of this Parliament there have been moments of agitation and periods of strain, and I am proud that honorable members have been kind enough to say that I have worthily upheld the tradition of the high office which I have occupied for two years. I thank them for their assistance at all times, and their compliance with my requests from the chair. My period of office has been one of the most delightful experiences of my life.
I express my appreciation of the loyal service of the Chairman of Committees (Mr. McGrath), not only when he has acted in that capacity, but also as Deputy Speaker. I am grateful also to the Temporary Chairmen for the manner in which they have discharged their responsible duties’. To the others who have assisted with the work of the House - to the Clerks, the members of the Hansard staff, the messengers, the Library staff, the officers of the Joint House Committee, and all who have assisted in the smooth working of Parliament - I pay my tribute. On their behalf I thank honorable members for what has been said regarding their loyal and efficient service.
Whatever the future may have in store for us, I extend to all honorable members my best wishes for the coming Christmas season, and express the hope that their earnest desire for the public welfare may be realized in the greater prosperity of the people of Australia during the coming year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Commonwealth or Australia to wit iSAAC A. ISAACS Governor-General.
By His Excellency the Eight Honorable Sir Isaac Alfred Isaacs, a Member of His Majesty’s Most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Commonwealth of Australia.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 November 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1931/19311126_reps_12_132/>.