1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m.
Address in Reply.
Debate resumed from 29th May, vide page 378, on motion by Senator Fraser.
That the Address in Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s speech, as read by the Clerk, be now adopted.
Upon which Senator Millen had moved by way of amendment : -
That the proposed Address be amended by the addition of the following words:-“ but while fully concurring in the proposal for the gradual reduction and ultimate relinquishment of the kanaka labour, at present within the Commonwealth, are of opinion that the further importation of such labour should be at once prohibited.”
- Mr. President, I can assure you, sir and honors able members, that I rise to speak to this subject with a great deal of trepidation, as this is the first time I have ever had the honour to occupy so proud a position in such an august Chamber as this is. I hope it will not bo the last time. At an early stage by way of interjection, which is the only means available to an honorable member unless he is addressing the Chair, I objected to the procedure that has been adopted in the conduct of the debate. You, sir, will remember that I interjected that I thought it would be better, and I still think it would be better, that when an amendment was moved to the Address in Reply every senator should bc strictly confined to the terms of the amendment, and then when that question was disposed of the main question could be discussed in a proper manner. In the way in which this debate has gone on,, the amendment has been lost sight of to a very large extent, the whole ground has been travelled over, and everything has been intermixed and is higgledy piggledly. I do not think that is conducive to a proper understanding between senators or to tho good conduct of public business, and I hope that there will be a standing order to the effect that every amendment shall be dealt with on its merits and the main question debated afterwards on its merits.
– The amendment is practically withdrawn.
– I should think it would be practically withdrawn, considering that both its parents have practically bolted. I think there ought to be a provision in our criminal law to arraign men who do things of that description. They gave birth to a poor little weakling, at the dead of night they went to O’Connor Castle, left the poor little sickly mortal on the doorstep,and rang the bell and fled for their lives. Such conduct ought to be punishable at law. Unnatural parents ought always to be punished for their unnatural acts. I notice that the debate seems to hinge, or at any rate to centre round the fiscal issue. On both sides of the House the protectionist and the free-trader, or the free-trader, or the revenue tariffist, or whatever he desires to be known as, seems to think that the whole fate of .the Commonwealth, and the prosperity and’ the progress of its people, are bound up absolutely and entirely in the fiscal issue. That is an assumption which I distinctly deny. We have more urgent and greater questions than the fiscal issue to deal with, and the difference between the revenue party, as led by Senator Gould, and the Government party, as led by Senator O’Connor, is not yet determined on a protectionist, or a free-trade, or a revenue Tariff basis. I think the decent thing to do, and what I should strongly recommend, would be for honorable members to confine their remarks to more urgent and certainly not less important questions that will come before them for deliberation and consideration, and leave the fiscal issue alone until the Government has introduced its Bill, and we can see the schedule it covers. What is the use of quarrelling about a Tariff which is not yet proposed, which is not laid in concrete form on the table of the House?- A red-hot protectionist gets up and he quotes statistics from America to show how that country has flourished under a protective Tariff. A redhot free-trader, like Senator Pulsford, gives up a lot of figures to show how Great Britain has succeeded under a free-trade Tariff. Neither one nor the other is any guide to us. In the framing of any Tariff we have not to view a protective Tariff from an American stand-point or a free-trade Tariff from a British stand-point ; we have to view the Tariff from the Australian standpoint, to see how it suits our own set of circumstances and conditions. If we were going to have all our laws framed on the experience of other countries there. would be no necessity for having a Parliament. All we should have to do, sir, would be to appoint yourself as the King of Australia, subject to His Majesty the King of Great Britain, and one of the conditions would be that all the Acts passed by the Parliament of Great Britain should be transmitted to you, and that you, through your graciousness, would have them distributed to the people of the Commonwealth. Parliaments would then be absolutely unnecessary, and all such worrying questions as an increase of the payment of members would not trouble the community or the newspapers. I have failed to find from the speeches of those who are opposed to the Government what their own proposals are to raise the sum - about £8,500,000- that has to be. found to pay the expenses of the Commonwealth.
– There is a freetrade Tariff.
– I wish to know what a free-trade Tariff is. I believe in free-trade in some things. I believe in free-trade in Members of Parliament. I believe in free-trade in quite a number of other things. But it appears to me that, so far as the debate has gone in this Chamber and in the other House, both sides have recognised this fact - that it is absolutely necessary to raise £8,500,000 to carry on the Commonwealth. The Government state that they will raise the money by taxation. By what particular form of taxation we do not know yet, because they have not had an opportunity of bringing forward their proposals. Those on the other side who claim to be revenue tariffists say . that they would want to raise, if in power, £8,500,000, but that they would raise it by a revenue Tariff. I want to know what is the essential difference between the two. Does it mean that Senator O’Connor will bring down a schedule in which he will tax hats, and that, in opposition to that plan, Senator Gould will come along with an amendment to say that hats shall be free, but that boots shall be taxed. It appears to me to be only a difference between the taxation of hats and the taxation of boots, because, in the raising of this revenue, the worker will have to go without either one or the other. I want to see the proposals in black and white in order that I, as a revenue tariffist, may discriminate between the two parties. And until we do get the proposals of the Government before us we -are not in a position to fairly or honestly or conscientiously judge them, and the very least they may expect from us - and the least they can receive from us - is that we shall give them a fair trial and ample time to show their sincerity and the wisdom of their proposals.
– And what does the honorable member understand by a revenue Tariff?
– I understand by a revenue Tariff a Tariff which is absolutely necessary to be raised in order to carry on the Government - not a
Tariff which is purposely raised in order to protect a particular industry, or a particular person, or set of persons. What I am endeavouring to point out is that between the schemes called protection by the. Government and revenue Tariff by the Opposition there is really no difference. What both parties want to do is to raise £8,500,000; and the question is which is the better plan - the proposal of the Government or the proposal of the Opposition? Until we know what the two proposals are, we are not in a fit and proper’ position to discriminate between them.
– But we can give expression to a principle.
– I am pointing out that this is not a matter of principle- -that this is not a struggle between the principle of protection and the principle of free-trade. It is a question of expediency - a question of raising the necessary sum to carry on the work of government. Let me remind my honorable friends on the right that their chief, the free-trade king of Australia, who has stumped the continent from end to end, who has raised his powerful voice and used all the eloquence’ at his command - and he has a lot of it - found his position as a freetrader so untenable that he succeeded in getting his followers, who were rabid freetraders, to agree to a revenue Tariff - to be known as revenue tariffists, and not as free-traders - virtually acknowledging that the attitude of the Government is the correct one, and that they have to fall into line if they are going to meet with the confidence and support of the people. I can assure you, sir, that it is a very pleasing thing to me - and Senator O’Connor ought to be one of the most happy men in the Commonwealth to-day - that at last the proudest man of Australia has had to admit his inability to meet his opponent unless he conceded points to that opponent. I refer to the free-trade leader, who has found it expedient to name his party as a revenue Tariff party. Probably it will be as well for me to indicate what attitude I shall take up when the schedule does come along. I view the whole fiscal question as not a matter of political principle at all. I do not believe it is a matter of party politics whatever. The whole question is a district question - if I may use the expression, a geographical question. A policy that may suit the State of Victoria may be absolutely destructive to the State ofNew South
Wales. What may suit the State of Tasmania may be destructive to the State of Queensland. I go even further than that. I will point outtoyou, sir, and all Queenslanders know it, that a policy which would suit the southern portion of the State where they have manufactures might be absolutely destructive to the producing industries of the northern portion of it. It is all very well for a man who is representing a manufacturing district to be in favour of a 25 per cent. duty on machinery, but it is quite a different matter when a man who is representing a gold-field like Charters Towers, as I have done for many years, to be in favour of a tax of 25 per cent. on mining machinery.
– How are we going to reconcile all our differences under the Commonwealth?
– By the good temper of honorable members.
– And the spirit of compromise.
– Yes; and by the spirit of fairness of the chairman, we shall succeed in adjusting our difficulties, I have- no doubt. I want to give the Senate some of my personal experiences; and I wish honorable members to thoroughly understand that Victoria is not all Australia, nor is Tasmania, or Western Australia, or Queensland, or any other State - that the local conditions have to be taken into consideration. As an old miner, I may say that we had a bitter experience of a protective Tariff in trying to establish some foundries in the southern part of the State. This has acted most injuriously on the development of our gold-fields. I believe firmly that any attempt to tax the machinery necessary to the development of primary industries will injure all industries, including what might be otherwise known as secondary industries - that everything that is necessary to the development and enlargement of the primary industries should be absolutely free if not encouraged in other ways by a subsidy. Let me tell you that in Charters Towers, the premier gold-field of Australasia, mining has got to such a pitch there now that it is utterly impossible for the poor man to undertake mining operations on his own account.
– That is the case at Bendigo.
– We have a shaft, there 2,500 feet deep, and there will be deeper shafts later on. It is absolutely necessary, in order that mining operations may be earned on, that powerfulmachinery must be used. In addition to that there must be electrical machinery - and we have a tax on that machinery in Queensland - to enable us to carry on the industry. I say it would be better for the whole of Queensland - undoubtedly better for the revenue, and for those who are carrying on mining operations - if all the machinery that was necessary for the carrying on of the industry in Charters Towers was allowed to come into Queensland, absolutely free. To that extent, I am a free-trader. Still, at the same time, I recognise that a man who comes from Maryborough, where they make a few boilers and manufacture a few plates, or a man who comes from Fortitude Valley, where Senator Higgs comes from, and where they make a few pots and’ saucepans and f rying-pans, may very well be a protectionist. Recognising and realizing these facts as I do, I say that the fiscal issue is not a political or a party issue, but merely a matter of policy. For that reason, I do not think honorable members ought to make it the chief issue as against the Government. When it comes to a question of party politics, we are perfectly willing to show on which side we stand. We stand on the side, as already pointed out by Senator Higgs, of the Government until they have had a fair trial. I am very sorry indeed that my gallant and belligerent friend, Senator Cameron, is not here this afternoon, because I wished to disabuse his mind of any feeling or thought he might have about a remark I made when he delivered his most excellent speech to this Chamber. I will take this opportunity of saying that it was quite a surprise to me, and it was a pleasant surprise, to find that a colonel could make a speech like Senator Cameron made, because I thought that the only colonel who could really make a speech sat on the opposition side of the Chamber. During the time that Senator Cameron was speaking, he laid down, a scheme in discussing the question of defence, of what he called “citizen soldiery.” With that scheme, as far as it went, I heartily approved. I interjected during the speech the words “ Boys and girls.” The honorable senator evidently thought that I was trying to chaff him - a thing of which I am never guilty. I did not make the interjection in any flippant spirit whatever. I so heartily approved of Senator Cameron’s scheme of teaching the school children the use of arms and giving them physical drill and sending them to the gymnasium that I interjected, “Boys and girls.” I think it is as necessary that our girls should he trained as that our boys should be drilled. I am a very firm believer in it, and I would ask senators - and it is a pity Senator Cameron is not here, because he has been in South Africa. - what has the Boer war taught us ? It has not only taught us how we ought to fight a people, but it has taught us another lesson, that it is a good thing to have our women and girls trained in the art of fighting. The Boer war has shown that the grandfather, the father, the son, and all the family right down to the little tot, when he is big enough to carry a rifle, may leave home in confidence, go to the front to fight the enemy, being perfectly satisfied that, so long as there is a rifle and ammunition left behind, the women can defend the household against any marauder. It has taught us that, and more than that. It has taught us that when the Boers were in a tight place, and had not any male members of the family to rake into the trenches, they were able to get the women to come along and fight their battles side by side with their fathers, husbands, and brothers. I say that the fight which the Boers have put up against the greatest military power the world ever knew has been an eye-opener and a lesson to us. One of the best lessons it has taught vis is that the women may be trained as well as the men. I would go further j I would make it part of the curriculum in our State schools that our boys and girls should pass a certain standard in physical drill, and I believe it would be a good thing for the coming woman.
– The new woman.
– She will be a new woman, asserting womanly rights that the old woman has never had the power to assert. I have often been pained and horrified on reading in our respectable daily morning papers of some worthless wretch of a man who has succeeded by some art in getting a woman tied to him. He has loafed on her, he has stolen what money he possibly could from her, he has promptly got drunk, come home, and shown his gratitude by beating her with his walking-stick.
If the woman of the future is trained in our State schools in the art of selfdefence, she will be able to protect herself against any drunken loafer whom in a weak moment she may have had the misfortune to marry. I do not see any reason at all why a woman should not be trained at the expense of the public to defend herself and her young ones, as well as the man. And, as far as I am concerned, I will always give my support to any proposition that will give the school girls of this Commonwealth the same rights and privileges, the same advantages and opportunities, as are given to the boys. I have two girls, and if a weakling comes along in a weak moment and gets them, he will have to be very sober if he wins when he gets them home. The particular question on which I wish to address you is the subject of a white Australia. An amendment has been moved, and I thought at the time, and I have been thinking ever since, that the supporters, as well as the mover of it, regarded the members of the labour party in this Chamber as a .lot of dunderheads, who could be easily fooled. That it was a vote of censure against the: Government was never pretended, but I think what was meant was to put forward this issue in order that they mightcause a disturbance or distress amongst, the labour members who have determined , to give the Government a fair trial on their proposals for a white Australia. Now, . if the honorable members who are in favour of this amendment really intended to outdo the Government in their proposition for a white Australia, I want to know why the amendment was confined strictly to the abolition of the kanaka. A white Australia to us does not simply mean the abolition of the kanaka ; it means theabolition of all aliens, of which the kanaka, is the least dangerous, and the least objectionable, and if the amendment was not absolutely sincere, if it was not a specious trick, devised in the minds of some ingenious and ‘ old and experienced politicians, I want to know what it was. Are the honorable members who are supporting this amendment, and who cheered the mover and seconder to the echo during the time that they were making their speeches, prepared so to amend their amendment that it “will include all aliens ? If not, then what is the value of their protestations that they are more anxious to establish a white Australia than the Government are 1
– I thought the kanaka trouble was the pressing trouble in Queensland.
– The kanaka trouble is not the pressing, trouble. The PostmasterGeneral oan bear me out in this - at the time of the federal contest in Queensland the opposition to a white Australia threw down the gauntlet and asked us to fight the battle on the question of a white Australia. We promptly picked it up, with the result that we absolutely swept the polls, and in the Senate five out of six
Queensland representatives have declared for -a white Australia.
– I am not sure about Senator Ferguson.
– He declared himself last night.
– If- he did, then the whole six are pledged, and that rnakes the case stronger. It was alleged at the* time of the election, that it was not because we loved a white Australia, but because we hated a sugar planter, that we conducted the campaign in that way - that we desired to ruin the sugar planter, and abolish the sugar industry altogether. We absolutely deny .that. We take up the position that we desire to preserve the sugar industry, and to deal as fairly and as generously as we possibly can with those engaged in it, consistently with the interest of’ the white men of the State. All that we want is a white Australia. We say that the sugar industry should be preserved for the white man, and that the sugar- planter should have ample time in which to make the change suitable to the new condition of things in the event of a white Australia being established by the Commonwealth. That is our position, and that is the position taken up by the Government, as foreshadowed in the speech read to ‘us ; but the Opposition, the friends of the planter, the -bosom friend of the Sugar Refining Company, and all those who are interested in getting, not only the kanakas that they have now, but also all the kanakas that they can possibly import - the men who raise up their voices every day in prayer, and say, “Oh, Lord, give us this day our daily kanaka,” have-come along with an amendment to the proposal of the Government, not to assist their ‘friends; but to abolish the kanaka at once, and ruin not only the sugar industry, but all those engaged in it. While we desire a white Australia we are not going to be ungenerous, or so unfair that we will ruin airy industry or class of people without giving, them due time and ample warning. As I pointed out before, a white Australia does not mean only the abolition of the kanaka. As far as the kanaka is concerned, I may tell you that he will abolish himself, before long. He is fast dying, out. Civilization, or the braund of- civilization that lie is brought into contact with on the sugar plantations, is too much .for him, and in the interests of the kanaka, I think we, as a Christian people, should not lose any more- time than we can possibly help ‘ in. putting him on his ‘ island to live out his own life in his own way, where he can be happy, and not be- brought into the state of slavery and degradation that he is now brought into. I say that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves, because we are morally responsible for the early demise of these people^ and we are- practically their murderers. The. kanaka is undoubtedly a very great danger1 - he is a danger in many ways, and he is- mostly a danger to the working man. The man who lives in a mansion, and who has got a coachman and a coach and a lot of people to look after him - the man who has not. to walk on the plebeian soil of- God, but has got a. carpet to walk upon, does not suffer from the kanaka. But the working man is the man who suffers from the kanaka, not only in the fact that he takes away the work that the white man wants, but that he is a menace in another way. There is in the criminal history in Queensland a story of crime- that would make any people shudder with- horror if they were to read it. It is not merely the number of people who have been murdered, but the style of. murder that has been committed. In one of the populous towns in Queensland, Bundaberg, which is represented! by- Senator Glassey, and which is not more than 2.00 miles from the capital, after dark at night a defenceless woman dare not go down one of the main streets. To attempt to- go down any of the back streets of- Bundaberg is- simply to invite outrage. This is one of the things which we as working men feel, and we say that not only ourselves but our- women folk should- be protected against by the Commonwealth. That is one of the strongest reasons we have to urge for the abolition as early as possible of coloured labour.
– The honorable senator’s argument is that we should stop it immediately.
– No, we want the kanaka traffic to be abolished as soon as possible. At the same time, we think we ought to have due regard to the interests of other people who are directly affected. We do not wish to be unfair to either side.’
– The honorable senator should not be unfair to his own people.
– We have no desire to cure .a man of ear-ache by cutting off the flesh below his ear.
– The honorable senator sacrifices the moral to the financial aspect.
– Well, that is how I understood the argument.
– I am not responsible for the honorable member’s understanding. Reference was made either by Senator Sir John Downer or Senator Sir Josiah Symon to the Northern Territory. It was said by one of them that the alien trouble was not a very great menace there. I happen to have been one of a party of unfortunate diggers who some years ago were stranded at Palmerston, otherwise known as Port Darwin; At that time they were starting to build the transcontinental railway, which has not yet been completed. There were some 300 disappointed diggers who had returned to Port Darwin, and they desired to get work. We found, however, that it was absolutely impossible for a white man to obtain employment. All the navvies were Chinese, and the only white man employed was a ganger. The Chinese were working for 3s. 6d. per day. All over Port Darwin you could not find a white counterjumper, a white washerwoman, or even a white tailor. The storekeepers at Port Darwin employed no one but Chinese. A white nurse girl could not obtain employment there. The elite did the block every afternoon on the Esplanade. There was to be seen there at 4 o’clock every afternoon a nicely dressed Chinaman wheeling a perambulator with the pride of the family inside, and a lady majestically and discreetly walking a few yards behind. The only break I saw in this yellow monotony during the time I was there was when I observed a big buck nigger wheeling a perambulator instead of tire
Chinaman. I travelled all over the town in, search of information on this question. Eventually, I discovered one white man at work. They were building at the time the new Supreme Court, and a white man was mixing mortar for Chinese plasterers. I never saw a white carpenter or a white bricklayer there, and the only white woman who could get work was a barmaid, who was employed because Chinamen were not attractive enough to sell beer. The same state of affairs exists at Thursday Island, in Queensland. Queenslanders cannotreproach South Australia about Port Darwin, because they are in the same fix at Thursday Island. The only difference is that instead of Chinamen exclusively, we have-
– A mixture.
– Yes ; the greatest mixture that is to be found on the Australian continent. To give the Senate an idea of what opportunity a white man has of getting work at Port Darwin, I may say that while I was there tenders were called for the sinking of a well. Three of my mates and myself went to the office, where tenders were returnable, for the purpose of having a look at the specifications. Strange as it may seem, the manager was particularly frank and outspoken about the matter. He. said - “If you tender for the contract on a wage to which you have been used you will not get it. No one can get this contract unless he is prepared t6 employ Chinamen, or men who will work for the same wage as Chinamen.” Singular to relate, - this frank and outspoken person was named “Solomon.” In this great city of Melbourne there is a thoroughfare known as Little Bourkestreet. I walked down that street theother day.
– What was the honorable senator doing there?
– I wanted to see something as to the extent of the alien trouble there, and I was told the best place to which to go in search of information was Little Bourke-street. I commandeered a policeman, and asked him to point me out the street. I must have walked down the street for something like three-quarters of a mile, and on either side there was an unbroken line of alien shops and businesses. It was painful to -see the number of young girls and boys flitting in and out of those shops. I thought to myself then, that the people of Victoria had better very calmly comb their hair before they started to point a finger at Queensland because of the aliens in her midst. Here in this city - the finest in the Commonwealth - in a main thoroughfare, they have thousands of them, and goodness knows what amount of disease and infamy is to be found in. Little Bourkestreet. Victorians, as well as Queenslanders, have got to put their best foot foremost, and to give the Government every assistance in clearing out this curse from the Commonwealth and making Australia white.
– Did the honorable senator see the Chinese procession ?
– Yes. In Melbourne they carried it off in a spirit of fun. I saw the Chinese procession in Sydney, when the Bushmen’s contingent was going away, and the fact that struck me as I watched those thousands of Chinamen was that they marched with the air of conquerors. If they had captured Australia and were having a triumphal procession they could not have worn a prouder look than they did that day. I thought to myself that the day might come when the Chinese would march as conquerors through Sydney, unless the white people woke up and protected themselves. I would like to direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that the Commonwealth will very likely have a very difficult question to solve. One senator has said that we must be very careful in dealing with coloured aliens because of foreign complications. At the time the statement was made it did not attract much notice, but since then we have had information from Queensland which gives point to it. A Bill was passed by the Queensland Parliament last session, known as the Sugar Works Guarantee Bill, which provided for advances of money to sugar works. The Opposition succeeded in inserting a clause providing that no null that was subsidized by the Government should employ alien coloured labour. We see by the papers that the representative of the Crown has suspended judgment on the matter. He will not give the Royal assent to the passing of the Bill on that particular ground, because it may involve us in foreign complications. Whatdoes that mean ? It means that we are not permitted to deal with coloured aliens in our own way according to our own conditions and guided by our own experience, but that we are to be subjected to the opinions of those who know us not and who have other arrange.ments with these foreign powers.
– It is a contradiction of our policy in prohibiting the employment of coloured labour on mail steamers subsidized by us.
– That did not require an Act of Parliament.
– This Bill has not been assented to.
– Who has been pulling the strings ?
– That is what I should like to know very much. We have a lot of aliens- as many as we can deal with - and I think the Government should take the earliest opportunity of preventing any more coming in. They should be absolutely stopped from coming in, and as soon as that has been done the Government should take measures to clear out those already here.
– The honorable member is in agreement with the amendment.
– - I am not agreeing with it. I wish the honorable member would understand that there is a difference between kanakas and of coloured aliens generally. We have dozens of different kinds of alien labour. In South Australia, no doubt, I could find a Little Bourkestreet somewhere.
– They have got a good portion of Hindley-street.
– I shall go over to Adelaide and have a’ look at that street some day.
– The honorable senator will not find many Chinese there.
– I hope the healthy influence of the labour party has succeeded in running them out. I have detained the House at greater length than I had intended, and I must say I am thankful to honorable senators for the good hearing they have given me. In conclusion, I would urge upon the Government that as soon as possible they should introduce their intended legislation regarding the exclusion of aliens. Whatever they do they should remember that while a determined effort has been made on the part of the Opposition to shove the fiscal question to the front, that is not the main issue at the present time. There are more urgent business matters to be considered and dealt with. The Government may easily allow the fiscal issue to stand over for the whole of this session. They would be strictly within their rights in doing so, and in devoting themselves to the securing a white Australia. That accomplished, they could start afresh next session on the fiscal issue. I have had some experience in dealing with a Customs Bill, and I can assure honorable senators that next to the vexed question of land settlement, a settlement of the Tariff’ is the most obnoxious, and takes up the most time. I am certain that once we start to frame a Tariff we shall find ourselves involved in a task which must occupy a very long time. When it has been framed there will be hardly a Government which has any important business to do that will dare to re-open it for amendment, because once you start to amend a schedule to a Tariff Bill the whole session is gone. The whole of one session should be given to framing a Tariff Bill, and the Tariff should then be allowed to rest for a year or two.
– I have listened with both pleasure and profit to the very able speeches that have been delivered during the course of this debate, and I think I should probably have remained in the attitude of a listener if I had not felt it to be the duty of senators, if only as a courtesy to the Government, to indicate to the leader of the Government the measure of support or opposition that they intended to give to the proposals contained in the Governor-General’s speech I do not wish to dwell, as some senators have done, at any length upon the powers and privileges of the Senate. I content myself on that subject by simply saying that if we can always preserve the tone of our debates on the same level at which it has been kept during the discussion on the Address in Reply, then we ourselves shall secure for the Senate that amount of power and respect that it ought to obtain. I have received instruction, both as to facts and as to methods, from Senator McGregor and Senator O’Connor, especially with respect to this question which we have just heard discussed at some length - the question of a white Australia. I have always considered, that the most important aspect in which, it should be viewed is the social or moral point of view. Looking at it in that light, I can conceive of no senator, or any ordinary thinking man, holding any. other opinion than that the influx of aliens represents a great danger and menace to us in Australia, who have, at any rate, some share in the pride of race. It represents, in other words, a very great danger because of race deterioration, and to me the social side seems to be much stronger than the industrial side. The industrial aspect is presented to us perhaps more in connexion with this kanaka question than any other, and I here desire to say that I am much indebted to Senator McGregor for the facts adduced by him in regard to kanaka labour in Queensland. He approached the subject from two points. He gave us an insight into the operations that were being conducted exclusively with white labour, and conducted with success. He gave us particulars from the balance-sheet of the largest company employing kanaka labour. He also approached the subject from the other point of view. He showed that there was such a large profit being made by the employment of kanaka labour that we could see white labour substituted for it without doing any very great injury to a big industry. I think his figures were that 20 per cent, profit was being made by the employment of kanakas. I do not suppose that this industry could complain of being harshly treated if its profits were reduced to 10 per cent., and I am inclined to think that that margin would undoubtedly cover the difference between the employment of kanaka labour and the employment of white labour. But, going back to the social side of. this question, we must all recognise that the presence amongst us of these very Chinamen whom the last speaker referred to does represent a very serious menace ; they represent a deterioration morally, physically, and mentally. I have already mentioned that I received considerable instruction from Senator O’Connor. I think that he and the Government look at the question so seriously that it can be left entirely in their hands. I shall not support the amendment, although I recognise that it deals only with the kanaka question. I am entirely against it. I want to inform the Government that on this question it has, at any rate, my most hearty support. I believe it recognises the chief evil. It appeals to me, and I believe the Government will take steps as early as possible to remedy that evil. But the question is, unfortunately, made still more difficult by international complications. Senator O’Connor himself reminded us of that when he spoke on the subject. He also gave us to understand that the Government were prepared to deal with the matter. I am prepared to leave it entirely in the hands of the Government; and I feel sure that they will carry it to a successful issue. At the same time I may point out these difficulties. I think, speaking approximately, you may grade the aliens. We in Australia are perfectly competent to say precisely what we like, diplomatically, to China. I should therefore place Chinamen in the lowest grade of all. In the succeeding grade we shall have to place the Japanese, and the difficulty does go on increasing when we get to them. Japan has now sufficiently asserted its right to recognition in any international question. The Government’s difficulty will begin, in my opinion, with J apan, but it will not end there, because a still greater difficulty is presented - a difficulty which I am afraid they will find . it very hard indeed to get over - and that is the difficultyof dealing with members of the British Empire. This alien immigration that we talk of certainly does include members of the British Empire in India.
– We can exclude criminals from England.
– I am afraid that we cannot rely on any arbitrary test such as an educational test, or any test with regard to criminals. This matter will have to be faced in an international way. I am perfectly certain that Senator O’Connor has already recognised that difficulty. I am simply showing that I, too, recognise it, and emphasizing the fact that it is made still greater when we have to deal with members of the British -Empire. If we are going to have a comprehensive scheme, which prohibits alien immigration, we necessarily shall be confronted with that difficulty in the case of members of our own Empire. I shall not dwell longer on that question. Let me turn to another question which has received the parochial support - I hope I may say so without being offensive - of senators from Western Australia, that of the transcontinental railway. It is urged that it is desirable to construct that railway for several different reasons. As one reason is urged and seems to fail, another one “appears. I frankly confess that I do not recognise in any one of these reasons a sufficient inducement for us to plunge the Commonwealth into an immediate expenditure of £5,000,000. The commercial aspect has been presented in another House by the Minister of Defence. He attempted to define the success of this undertaking in the terms of bullocks. I am afraid that that will not be a sufficient definition. I have not heard a single senator so far attempt to offer any reason why this railway should be constructed on commercial grounds.
– I have not yet heard any one urge as a reason ..why the Commonwealth should construct this railway that it will be a paying concern ; and that is what I meant by urging commercial reasons.
– Sir John .Forrest did that.
– The Minister for Defence did give us an instance of what he could do with one bullock; but I respectfully submit that we cannot define the success of a large railway undertaking in the terms of bullocks. We have heard Senator Playford, as representing a State interested also in the construction of this railway, give a very plain description of the sort of country which, so far as he knows it on his side, it will go through.
– He lias never been over the country.
– So far as the country is known - and I -admit that very little indeed is known of it at present - I think it might be very well described as the sort of country that will not keep a rabbit to the square mile. I cannot believe that any senator would be bold enough to say that he has any encouragement to construct this railway on the commercial side ?
– -Are the forts of Sydney and -Melbourne commercial speculations ?
– I shall come to the question presently. I am now dealing with it practically, as if a prospectus had been issued by the Minister of Defence, with an expert report attached. In that light it does not appeal to me in the least, except as the sort of thing which ought to be thrown into the waste-paper basket. But I will admit that directly any one reason seems to be insufficient to induce the Senate to agree to give its approval to this proposal, some other reason crops up. I admit, in answer to Senator Matheson, that another reason has. been urged, and that is the reason of defence. We have in the House two experts- on defence; I refer to Senator Cameron and Senator Neild.
A Senator. - They are amateurs.
– I am prepared to regard them both, in comparison with myself, as experts in this matter.
A Senator. - Senator Cameron is an expert and a professional.
– I simply wish, in all modesty, to say that I am not a naval or a military expert, but as a layman I am prepared to say this : that if it is urged that the Commonwealth should indulge in an expenditure amounting probably to £5,000,000 for the purpose of defence, then there is a far better opportunity - and please excuse me for appearing parochial in this argument - for the expenditure not of that amount, but of some money, in the little island of Tasmania. One senator has talked about the defences of Australia. I noticed at the time he was speaking that he carefully omitted to say anything about Tasmania. I interjected, but he did not hear me. I do not like interjections, and so I did not press the matter.I think that to every layman - because our military experts at present are out of the chamber - this will appeal as somethi ng like common sense, that if we are ever to be threatened with an invasion it will come from a naval power. We have no frontiers to defend. Any attack which is going to be made upon us must be made by sea, and if it is going to be made by sea, as it must, then I submit that there could be no more excellent base for naval operations against the whole of Australia than Tasmania. At the present time, the ports of that State are absolutely defenceless. It is perfectly easy for a foe, if it wishes to attack the Commonwealth, to seize more than one magnificent harbor and to use them and Tasmania generally as a base for operationsagainst the whole of the Commonwealth.
– But they must come either vid Western Australia or vid Queensland.
– It is perfectly true that they must pass Western Australia, and South Australia and Victoria if you like, but they will pass the whole lot of them by sea and not by land, and they are not likely to come within shot of the magnificent guns that are ranged all along that coast. I do not think that that in any way affects my argument, but I do say, that if the argument is good we . con safely indulge in a certain amount of expenditure, far less than the £5,000,000 suggested for this railway, in defending Tasmania, whose ports are absolutely defenceless.
– Tasmania is, and always has been, the weakest part of our defences.
– Precisely, and I am glad that the honorable member agrees with me. Another reason that is occasionally given to induce us to consent to the expenditure of this very large sum on railway construction is that at some time or other a pledge was given that it would be done. I listened with attention to Senator Matheson, and I frankly confess that I did not discover anything beyond what he called the initial pledge, and, so far as I could analyze that initial pledge, it was based entirely upon the report made by Major-General Edwards some years ago.
– It was laughed at by experts when it was made.
– I do not wish . to go into the value of that report, I am quite incapable of doing it, but I do say that I have heard nothing from Senator Matheson, who seemed, if I may say so, enthusiastic on the subject, which convinced me in any way either that the framers of our Constitution or that Parliament or that the Executive had in any way given a pledge that Western Australia would be connected with the rest of Australia by railway. In fact, Sir, I believe that Senator Matheson found himself entirely unable to substantiate the position.
– Not at all. Let the honorable member read the Convention Hansard, and he will find it out for himself.
– Neither I nor any other senator can hold himself responsible for impressions which have been received by senators from Western Australia. I still remain unconvinced that either this Parliament or the Government has in any way pledged itself to construct this railway. We have heard some discussion on another question, to which I attach a certain amount of importance. That question has been hedged and stopped and blocked by the word “but,” and Senator McGregor has more, than once interjected and objected to the use of the word “ but.” I am referring to the old-age pension scheme. I do not suppose that I shall be saying anything new when I put it that that scheme must appeal to every one of us. It appeals directly to the better side of our humanity most certainly, and it is an appeal which ought to be heard. Moreover, it proposes to do what we have all felt is most desirable in regard to charity. It proposes to regulate it; it proposes to make the recipient of the charity self-respecting. It proposes, in other words, to substitute a bonus which is intended to be a recognition of past services for the mere dole of charity which always degrades to a certain extent the recipient. I need not enlarge on the desirability of this scheme because I am quite certain that it appeals to every man in the House, and I am not going to embarrass it with a “but.” I am not going to say that we must immediately dismiss it because of the “ Braddon blot ; “ in other words, because we have no immediate way of financing it. I do not recognise that it is merely the duty of the Government to solve easy simple questions. I admit at once that there is a difficulty in solving this question from the financial side, but I am not going to say that because that difficulty is there the question should be shelved, nor do I consider that it is in any way incumbent on me to suggest a means of getting out of that difficulty. It is not incumbent on me or any private member, but I think it is fair criticism for me to say that it is not an insuperable difficulty, and that we expect from a Government the solution of something more than a mere simple question. I would point out in regard to the old-age pensions scheme, and especially in regard to the financial difficulty which attaches to it, that it is nothing new to Australia and to the old world. More than seven years ago the Secretary of State for the Colonies announced his intention in the House of Commons to bring in such a scheme. He had no monetary difficulties to face. His difficulty was the difficulty of devising some scheme that would work equitably all round. Here we have nothing of that sort. Theassumption apparentlyisthat there would be no difficulty whatever in devising a scheme if we had the money. In England we heard of exactly the converse. Money does not trouble them. Their difficulties are to devise a scheme which will be equitable. I have heard some arguments which attempt to dissuade us from indulging in an old-age pension scheme because it would make our people less thrifty. I say frankly that that argument does not in any way appeal to me. I cannot, for instance, see that a roan’s thrift or his desire to be thrifty should be in any way imperilled because he is going to get, as a maximum, the magnificent sum of 10s. a week. I do not think you are going to make a man less thrifty by giving him that amount if he reaches the height of his ambition. Therefore, I submit on that side there is no argument whatever against old-age pensions. I shall now address myself to j;he question which has engrossed the attention of most of us during the course of the debate. I want to say frankly that speaking here as a free-trader I recognise - on the other side of the House as well as on my own - that we approach this question at any rate with a good spirit, that we on both sides of the House give one another credit for sincerity of purpose, that whether we call ourselves free-traders or protectionists we are each of us animated by a desire to do something for the benefit and the prosperity of this Commonwealth .
– Ali ! .
– Although my friend may laugh, that, at any rate, is my own opinion ; and, further it is my own desire. I prefer that this subject should be approached in that spirit and in no other. In one sense we are united in our desire to devise some financial scheme that shall materially assist this Commonwealth instead of doing it harm, and we recognise that out of that very difference may come a scheme that will be beneficial. With regard to protection, let me at once say what is my chief objection to it, and I hope I shall say nothing which will in any way hurt the feelings of those honorable members who sit opposite. I object to protection because it represents that kind of State interference which I think is foolish and misguided. Now, I recognise that the State may properly intervene in many ways that affect the social or physical interests of the individual. It may, and often has, properly legislated with regard to his health and his disease. It has taken steps to save him from disease, and to preserve his health, and it has interfered in very many social ways to his benefit.
– Such as early closing and factory legislation.
– I will come to factory legislation presently. I say in many social ways the State can properly intervene with great benefit to the individual, but, in my humble opinion, when it comes to economic questions, when the State begins to interfere and attempts to tell a man how he shall buy, and how he shall sell, then I think it makes a great mistake. I object to State interference in that way. I grant that the State may properly interfere to prevent the individual suffering from either force or fraud; but I say that when it attempts to interfere with the individual’s, legal rights of disposing of his own money it makes that mistake which, to my mind, is the chief objection to protection. Protection, whatever else it represents, does distinctly represent State interference.
– So does all social legislation.
– Well, I am sorry to say that the honorable member fails to recognise my difference. I admit the desirability -of State interference on many social questions. I admit that the State, in fact, can interfere for the benefit of the individual and the community, but I do deny, and I am afraid I shall never be convinced, that the State has any inherent right to interfere with the legal rights of individuals.
– The honorable senator has been taking Herbert Spencer too seriously.
– Without taking Herbert Spencer or any one’s theoretical arguments too seriously, may I ask whether there is any honorable member who thinks that we know more about business matters than those who are practically interested in them. I absolutely decline to adopt that position.
– That is what the swine said when the devils were beingcast out.
– If I do not pay sufficient attention to my friend’s interruptions I hope he will not consider me rude. Another reason why I object to protection is this : I am firmly convinced that in many cases it represents an undue desire to get rich in a hurry. Now I firmly believe that in the case of Victoria which many years ago, as we all know, collapsed - that was after the original gold fever - that protection was adopted as a means of getting rich in a hurry, and making up the leeway. Protection nearly always aims at making people rich in a hurry, and the short cut is always the longest way home. I may say this; and I don’t think any protectionist will differ from me, that protection certainly always endeavours to’ divert into channels indicated by the Government industry and capital, instead of leaving them to find their own levels. I have yet to learn that that divergence of capital and labour has ever done any real good. I am not a believer, and never have been a believer, in any comparison or simple enumeration. I disbelieve entirety in the value of statistics, and I am not impressed by a man, be he either a free-trader or a protectionist, simply because he has a long list of figures and comparisons to support him. I do not for a moment believe that such comparisons would ever make an ordinary sane man either a free-trader or a protectionist. I admit the value of statistics occasionally as illustrations, but I utterly deny that they have any value whatever as proof. I am perfectly willing to give a reason that tells against myself. As a free-trader, I say without hesitation, that one of the most prosperous countries in the world is America, which is the most protectionist country thatwe know of, and I say, on the other hand, in spite of certain contentions of Senator Styles with regard to the deplorable condition of Great Britain and its Savings Bank investments, that Great Britain is also an eminently prosperous country. Seeing that you can adduce instances which point in exactly opposite directions, I say that no sane man should be led to be either a free-trader or a protectionist, because of some enumeration of simple instances, or because of some long or elaborate array of statistics. Every sensible man must know that figures can be turned and twisted in any direct tion you like. I have sounder grounds for my belief in free-trade. I am loath at the present time, because I consider it neither the place nor the opportunity, to dwell at any length on this theoretical aspect of the question. I do not want to be academic. . I prefer to be, to a certain extent, practical. Now, with regard to the Tariff that is going to be introduced, I say frankly and without the slightest doubt, that you can, either by a Tariff devised by a free-trader or by a protectionist, raise the amount of revenue, that we shall want. I will further commit myself to figures, though I know it is risky to do so. Speaking approximately, I am quite certain you could from many articles that will appear in the Commonwealth Tariff, raise the same amount of revenue with a 10 per cent, or a 30 per cent. Tariff. We free-traders have obviously one desire : It is to see taxation so imposed that it will not only in the first instance produce revenue, but in the last and every intervening instance also produce revenue. In other words, our consideration is, firstly, revenue; and secondly and thirdly, also revenue. Our consideration is revenue only, and we distinctly desire to put the issue plainly. Granted that the amount of money necessary can be raised either by a 10 per cent, or a 30 per cent. Tariff, we decidedly prefer to have it raised bv a 10 per cent. Tariff-
– To lessen the burden on the people.
– We recognise the fact that the number of persons affected by protection in the Commonwealth represents an infinitely small percentage. From that position there is no departure, and itislargely because we recognise it that we want to see taxation imposed simply for the purpose of getting revenue. I cannot hope, I do not protend to hope on this question, to achieve the success that was attained by a senator from my own State, Senator Dobson. He was- iri the unique position of extorting admiration and approbation from both sides. I cannot possibly hope to do that, but I will say that from me, at any rate, he is going to get not so much congratulation as sympathy. I do sympathize with him, because I recognise that he is the sort of man who so evidently could be happy with either “ were t’other dear charmer away.” I am certain that he is being pulled in two directions by his affection and his reason. I have heard him speak so often that I know that by reason and conviction he is a sound free-trader. He has given utterance to some of the best free-trade arguments that I ever heard, and I remember him saying that protection resembled a dog that was living on its own tail. That is not the sort of argument you would expect from the other side of the Senate. I am convinced that his reason, if he will only give it full play, will lead him to Mr. Reid, and there and then he will get rest. I implore him to make up his mind . to face the question seriously, and remain proof against the blandishments of Mr. Barton. I regret that he has seriously suggested to this House that he should carry on this flirtation - I had almost said shameless flirtation - until January next. I do not believe he will get any support in that proposition. Whatever else we want we do desire an early settlement of the Tariff question, because until then we cannot have intercolonial free-trade, which even our protectionist friends regard as necessary to our prosperity as a Commonwealth. That is part of our victory.. We recognise the value of intercolonial free-trade, as increasing the size of the unit. Formerly it was desirable that Victoria should be protected against the rest of Australia ; now it has ceased to be desirable. All that is now asked is that Australia shall be protected as against the outside world. To that extent we free-traders have secured a victory, and I say that because of our unanimous desire to see intercolonial free-trade, this House is not likely to allow Senator Dobson to carry on his shameless, flirtation until January next. We had on the other side of the House a rather picturesque utterance by Senator Sir John Downer. He showed himself sitting perched up aloft on a very high rail, watching the struggles going on down below, and he said that that was the attitude that he preferred, and intended to continue in. Well, it will not be very long before the Government will intimate to that honorable member that what they want in connexion with the fiscal question is something like . active assistance, and not mere sentinel duty, and that he, or any other little cherub, must come down and do some work. Though I feel I am getting on still more delicate ground, I would like to approach this question from a practical side. Speaking for one of the smaller States, I recognise a serious danger in the adjustment of this Tariff. I recognise it in this way. If the Government intend - and being a protectionist Government it perhaps will endeavour to carry out its intention - to make the margin between Excise and Customs so large as to continue the policy of protection, then I say without the slightest hesitation that it will seriously imperil the finances of some of the smaller States. It is obvious to all of us that if you have an excise duty on, say, tobacco of ls. 9d., and a customs duty of 3s., that you will protect the tobacco industry to an enormous extent. I object to it, of course, because it represents protection ; but I object to it on broader grounds - I object to it on financial .grounds. I say decidedly that the smaller States expect, and have a right to expect, that no penny of revenue that can be raised on narcotics and stimulants - articles representing either luxury or vice - should be lost ; and yet I say that if the Government introduce protective proposals in regard to these matters they will have a Tariff that will lose us a lot of money, and will seriously interfere with the financial position of the smaller States. It can be easily avoided if they will consider that the financial claims of the Commonwealth are paramount - if they will recognise that in that matter they have got to approach the subject from the point of view of taxation rather than from the point of view of freetrade or protection. In other words, if they will tax these narcotics and stimulants to the full amount, they can get out of’ them all the revenue possible without attempting, to protect either the tobacco manufacturers or the spirit producers, in ‘Victoria or elsewhere; and they will then largely have solved this financial problem. I feel convinced myself that the G overnment can easily, out of narcotics and stimulants, raise a revenue of £5,000,000 ; and that will leave to the Commonwealth a difference of only £3,500,000 to be raised on what I may call debatable articles by a scheme of protection or freetrade. I certainly intend to offer the most strenuous opposition to any attempt to protect articles that represent narcotics or stimulants. I am not going to oppose that sort of- Tariff- only. I am going to offer to protection the strongest opposition I can give to it, but I am speaking now of a wider matter. I am speaking now having- regard to my position as representing a. small State, and I say that the smaller- States are threatened with a considerable amount of danger to their finances if - the Government intend to lose any revenue that they can easily derive from narcotics and stimulants - revenue that even protectionists ought to allow them to get to the fullest extent. I can hardly conceive it possible that protectionists are to such an- extent protectionists only that they would seriously interfere with the financial conditions of the smaller States, or in fact of any State. They will recognise with me that there is a danger of landing us in serious financial embarrassment. I said that I did not intend to address myself to this matter theoretically or academically. I suppose we have all done that to a considerable extent I approached the subject from that point of view simply because I thought it desirable to indicate what my attitude is in regard to Tariff matters. , I consider it would be impossible, at any rate most undesirable, for any senator to oppose this Tariff from the point of view of his own particular State. I want, Sir, to emphasize a remark made by Senator Sir Josiah Symon, that practically the question is “ now or never.” As a free-trader I must recognise the fact that no protective duties are so pernicious,so far-reaching in their bad results, as those that are proposed under the pretext of supporting infant industries. I suppose we regard this Commonwealth now as an infant, although it is simply an aggregation of States which have been in existence for a long time, and I suppose that our protectionist friends will endeavour to ask us to concede so much protection because the Commonwealth is an infant. I say,, therefore, we must be on our guard. I agree- with Senator Sir Josiah Symon that it is a question of “now or never”; for even my protectionist friends will admit that never in the history of the world have we seen a protectionist duty put on and subsequently taken off because it has done its work. We have never seen that done and never shall. If my protectionist friends could adduce a single instance in which a protective duty has from their point of view done its work and made one of these babies grow into a strong healthy boy, and in which having done that it has been taken off; I would admit that to be one of- the strongest arguments in favour of protection. Absolute free-trader as I am, it would have some weight with me, but the facts are, as we all know, that there is no single instance to be cited in which such a. tiling has happened. Never yet havewe seen, a protective duty put on and taken off because ithas done its work.
– The appetite for protection grows on what it feeds on.
– If we adopt protection in this Commonwealthwe shall never get it off.
– We cannot get rid of itwhile we have to compete with the cheap labour of other countries.
– I thank my honorablefriend for theinterjection. Sometimes an interjection does good, and I am particularly glad of Senator Higgs’ remark on this question of cheap labour. I will dealwith it presently. To a free-trader the strongest objection to a protective Tariff at the present time is that it will appear in the most dangerous and most pernicious form, because it will be in the guise of stimulating infant industry, and will go on increasing its appetite year after year, so that we shall never get rid of it.
– Under our liberal Constitution will not any Tariff be every three years exactly what the electors want it to be as regards free-trade or protection?
– I certainly should have expected that Senator Dobson would have taken a sounder view of what is desired in trade than to suggest for one moment that we should be continually tinkering with the Tariff.
– I do not suggest that. I am combating the argument that if we fix it now we fix it for all time.
– I think that when the Tariff is fixed it will be fixed for a long time.
– I cannot see it.
– Does Senator Dobson want to revise the Tariff” every three years ?
– Certainly I do not, but the electors may interfere every three years.
– I take it that one of the things we must all fight for is to avoid tinkering with the Tariff. I say it - and I say it with the utmost regret as a free-trader - that if the Government does succeed in imposing a Tariff which is not in accordance with my views, or with the views of any sound free-trader, I shall still hesitate very seriously before - even every three years - I attempt to disturb it.
SenatorFraser. - Does the honorable senator suppose Mr. Reid will rest satisfiedif a protectionist Tariff is imposed?
– No; nor do I think any other free-trader will be satisfied with a Tariff passed for protective purposes.
– : In view, of the protectionist items in every Tariff, would the free-traders insist upon a purely free-trade Tariff, and not take into account justice?
– I cannot understand, Sir, from what my honorable friend has said, what his idea of justice is. It is not contained in his question. If he wishes to suggest to me that the whole of this Tariff difficulty can be solved just as a boy would arrive at an average by an arithmetical process, then I say he is wrong. But if he recognises that a principle is involved in it-
– There are two great principles.
– I have no hesitation in answering Senator Dobson this way: He is putting in a plea for protective Victoria.
– I am not ; they are putting it in for themselves.
– Well, he is suggesting that a plea has been put in for protective Victoria. Senator O’Connor remarked that we could not impose any kind of Tariff without, at the same time, giving a certain amount of protection. With that remark I entirely agree. It is impossible to put on a duty of 5 per cent, without giving assistance. I prefer calling it assistance rather than protection, because I consider that protection lies more in the intent than in the result. I would remind Senator Dobson and Senator O’Connor that, in addition to this revenue Tariff, which free-traders would like tosee, there is a very large amount of natural assistance given to the manufacturer of every article in this Commonwealth. That natural assistance is worth- and I speak conservatively and safely - a minimum of 10 per cent., and, in my opinion, goes right up to 30 or 40per cent. In regard to this plea for justice, I would ask is there any protectionist here in Victoria, in this Senate, or anywhere else, who considers that his industry is seriously imperilled or treated unfairly when he gets from the free-traders - because we cannot help it, owing to our financial necessities - probably 15 per cent. assistance.
– Ten or 15 per cent. protection. That is what I want.
– There is also the natural protection of at least 10 per cent. more. I am very glad to see that Senator Dobson is with me and other free-traders, and I regard his support as already obtained.
– Let us see what the Tariff is first.
– I would remind Senator Dobson of what I said a little while ago. I will put the case before him. I say distinctly you can derive the amount of Tariff you want in either of two ways - either by letting so large an amount of goods come into the ports of the Commonwealth that a low Tariff will raise the required revenue, or by imposing a duty so high that it will necessarily shut out a large proportion, hut will produce the same amount of money. I say without hesitation that you can out of many articles derive the same amount of revenue by a 10 per cent, duty as you can by a 30 per cent. duty. “We have to choose-which we will take. Are we to take the low Tariff which we only want for our required revenue,’ or the 30 per cent. Tariff which is protection ?
– It would not be fair to the primary industries to put on anything like 30 per cent, duties.
– I believe I shall pursuade Senator Dobson to vote for freetrade. I think he is, by reason of conviction, 0110 of the best free-traders I have yet heard speak, and yet I deplore the fact that he sits apparently ready to vote on the other side.
– He cannot get over the logic of facts.
– He lias given me sufficient indication of what his tendencies are. Perhaps I have gone too much into detail in regard to these taxation proposals; but I say that we free-traders have to recognise the necessity of imposing probably and possibly a 15 per cent. duty. Now, I desire to take up the interjection made by Senator Higgs. He referred me to cheap labour, and I suppose he- is trying to introduce the old protectionist argument, that a free-trader takes up a contradictory position when he is prepared to let in the products of cheap labour, and, on the other hand, is perfectly ready to exclude cheap labour from the Commonwealth. I have no hesitation in telling him that he cannot make a greater mistake than to assume that cheap labour means cheap production. On the contrary, I contend that cheap labour means dear production, and that it is only in the country of high wages that you get economy of production. I am prepared to support this position, and it can be supported on the soundest grounds.
– Woolpacks are made in Calcutta - they used to be made in Dundee.
– I will admit, of course, that a great deal of menial work can be done at less cost by cheap labour. I am speaking now about the production of articles that form the subject-matter of imports and exports, and I say, without any doubt whatever, that where wages are high you get economy of production.
If the Senate desires to have a simple argument to support this contention, I will put it in this way. No senator, I take it, would presume to so insult an ordinary working man as to tell him that the value of his work was represented solely by his muscle. I, for one, would never insult a working man by saying any such tiling. I would say that the value of his work was represented by the combination of his brains and his muscle. It is when you get that combination in its best form that you get economy of production. I will give an instance that my protectionist friends, no doubt, will be glad to hear. I will say that production is cheaper in America than in any country that I know of.
– Due to protection.
– I do not say that it is due to protection. That is beside the question. America does show us cheap production. If my protectionist friends will “admit that, they will, I presume, at the same time allow that in America wages are as high as in any country that we know of.
– That is something for a free-trader to admit.
– I admit it gladly ; and I am glad that Senator Higgs has interrupted in regard to wages, because another argument used by protectionists is that protection makes wages high. I say that it does not. I would ask Senator Playford, who seems to disagree with this view to consider how protection can increase the rate of wages in any country ? The honorable member will admit, I think, with me that you cannot increase the level of wages in any country unless you take the widest level ; that unless you go down to primary industries where labour is mostly employed you cannot seriously affect the general rate, and I would remind him that in protected America, for every one working man who is employed in protected factories, there are eighteen men who are not. I will admit that, possibly the wages of that one may be increased by protection, but I submit that by increasing the wages of that one man you do very little indeed to improve the level of the other eighteen. I would also remind Senator Playford that a very excellent speech on this subject was made quite recently in the other House by an honorable member, whom, I think’, free-traders recognise as being the soundest protectionist who has yet spoken there. I would remind Senator
Playford that that speaker distinctly admittedand Hansardwill prove whether I am correct - that whatever else protection might do, it did not increase the rate of wages.
– Not necessarily.
– Very well. One of the best supporters of protection who has yet spoken has distinctly admitted what we free-traders have always known that protection cannot, and does not, increase the rate of wages. Why should it? What does protection mean 1 Its object, I take it, is to increase the price of things that the ordinary working man has to buy as necessaries, or minor comforts. If you want to increase the wages of the working man, you will have to protect what he sells, and what he sells is his labour. Protection does not offer the slightest assistance to the working man in the disposal of what he has for sale - his own labour - and how can: it be said that this protection, which puts up the prices of the things he has to buy, adds anything to the rate of his wages. The thing is self contradictory. Sometimes protectionists admit that protection puts up the price of things, but there are times when they contend that protection makes things cheaper. I myself have always been unable to see how protection could in any way make tilings cheaper, but I have one ready answer to make to that argument. Even supposing that owing to some particular freak of trade protection has succeeded in doing that I have always a ready answer as a free-trader - “If it does make it cheaper, who on earth wants it ; why do you keep it? We consumers who represent 95 per cent. of the population affected by this scheme of yours, do not want it.” It is asserted by protectionists that those directly concerned in the manufacture of articles are going to ask Parliament to so act that the very price of the articles they sell shall be broughtdown. I heard Senator Sir Josiah Symon say that all protectionists are not necessarily fools. I agree with him, but I would say that any protectionist who proposes a scheme that will deliberately bring down the price of the article he manufactures for sale comes very nearly within the category of a fool. Therefore, the argument sometimes used that protection produces cheap articles is a foolish and erroneous one, and one that protectionists must be prepared to drop.
Another argument used by them is ridiculously weak. I have heard it suggested in this debate that protection makes work. What is the value of that argument, and why do protectionists continually use it ? Do they think that in producing work they produce a great benefit to mankind ? In this particular instance are we going to benefit this Commonwealth by making work ? Do we want work? I hold that we do not want work, any one of us. Work is not our object at all. What we want is the products of work. The protectionist succeeds in making work. What he does is to make every working man in the Commonwealth work harder in older to secure the necessaries or the minor comforts of. life than he would have to work without this precious scheme. That is my answer to the arguments often used that protection makes work. I have dwelt long enough - too long, in fact much longer than I had intended - on the academic side of this question. I propose to so control myself as to drop any further reference to it from the academic side. And seeing that possibly this sort of argument may tend to do the very thing which I myself have said that I object to - to make matters bitter - I shall at once drop it. But before closing that subject, and also closing my speech, I shall make this remark - and here again I expect the support of my friends opposite - that neither free-trade, whose cause I am advocating, nor protection, which my honorable friends opposite support, is an absolute remedy, is any panacea for all the evils which may afflict a Government or a people, and both sides will have to hope that the energy and the intelligence of this new Commonwealth of Australia will have much more to do with our future success and our prosperity than any Tariff we can devise, whether it is devised on this side of the House or on that.
– We have listened, I am sure, with very great interest to many able speeches since we have assembled. I am quite sure that we shall each and all of us be very greatly benefited by the arguments we have heard. It is stated in the speech of the GovernorGeneral that our labours will be watched with interest throughout the civilized world. I am quite sure that to-day the civilized world is watching and studying the speeches made’ by the members of this Parliament :
I think so because we are just at the beginning of national life. We are beginning, at the dawn of a new century, a career that must affect the whole civilized world to a greater or less degree, and when, as we have indication, every part of the civilized world is studying very carefully the actions of the other, then, knowing that we are just commencing national life, other people are interested in what we are doing ; they are interested to know whether we shall be able to rise to the great responsibilities laid upon us. We are a part of the British Empire, and every subject of His Majesty is more or less interested in what we do. Having had practically six separate existences and having conducted our business in our own way, and all with the exception of one State having adopted what is known as a protective system, or a restrictive system, we have advanced lately so far that we have said “Protection is injurious to us as separate States; we had better federate and so establish absolute free-trade between the States.” In that sense we have accomplished a great deal. Now, as a united body, the question arises whether we shall be able to see, if free-trade is good between ourselves, it is also good between ourselves and other portions of the world. We have to decide that great question, and we have to approach it purely from its social, its industrial, and its commercial aspects in laying the foundation of this young nation. We have to regard it very carefully and so lay the foundation that future generations shall bless our actions. We have to-day placed upon us that great responsibility that what we do in starting this young nation will affect the lives of thousands to follow us. What we are all anxious to attain - and what is really the object of all Government - is the happiness of the people governed, how can we best bring about that happiness which we all desire ? Is it to be done by restricting our energies, or is it to be done by giving freedom to each member of the community to follow those avenues of industry best suited to himself and suited to the Commonwealth ? That is the position. And although I shall not just now go into the fiscal part of my address, I wish clearly to point out that in all we shall attempt to do we must have the present and the future well-being of the citizens in our minds. What we must aim at doing is to develop a broad national spirit. We sometimes say that the character of a nation is influenced by its environment. I hold that the character of a nation is largely indicated by the methods of taxation. If we are now restricted in our dealings with people in the outside world, then that same narrow restrictive feeling will animate us in our dealings with each other and in our dealings with the world. If we are broad, expansive in our ideas, willing to trade with all others, then we shall become broad and generous, ever being pleased and delighted at the success of other nations, knowing that insomuch as they succeed and are prosperous so their prosperity will be communicated to us. I presume that after we have disposed of this fiscal ques-. tion, the one great source of division here will probably be between what are known as State rights and the aggressive federal party. I claim to be an absolutely State rights man. While I hold a seat in the Senate I shall ever aim at preserving as much as possible the rights, privileges and immunities of the States. We have practically but few things delegated to us, and in all other matters, if there is any attempt to be aggressive upon the rights of the States, I shall be found a strong advocate and supporter of the States’ rights. I know that in this Senate we are representatives of the whole people of the State as a bod)’ collectively, whereas the members in the other place are elected to represent local interests. Therefore, as senators, it will be our duty to guard and watch carefully the interests of the several States. We have heard some words respecting the Northern Territory. I, as a member for South Australia, think that the Federal Parliament ought to take control over that large area. We have held it, #as Senator Playford stated, for many years at a very great loss. We believe that there are great resources within the territory, but, unfortunately, we have been unable, owing to the very great, distance of Adelaide from Port Darwin, to practically legislate, as ought to be done, in the interests of that great terri.tory. Under a control which could be established by the Federal Parliament, I think the great resources of the territory could be developed. When we consider that South Australia has lost over £80,000 a year by holding on to the terri.toiT and by striving and keeping out what is known as the objectionable alien, it will be recognised that that has put a very great strain upon that State, a strain that I think every one of us will admit can no longer be justified. With regard to our neighbours in the Pacific, I think our duty will be not to be aggressive, but to be firm, inasmuch as those islands shall not become a menace to Australia by the deportation of convicts there from other countries. I think these islands should be under the influence - the political influence, at least - of the Australian Commonwealth and New Zealand.
– How is that to be brought about ?
– It is to be brought about in the manner in which New Zealand has already sought to do in regard to some of those islands. Great Britain in her treaties with other nations could so arrange it that those islands should be no longer a dumping ground for criminals, but should be freed from such stains, and should be worked and used under an influence such as the freedom existing within our own sphere.
– How about the New Hebrides?
– I am mentioning that in a general way.
– I mean about Australia getting the entire control of the islands ?
– I did not say the entire control. I said the political influence of the Commonwealth.
– How are we going to exercise that control over the New Hebrides?
– Great Britain in her relationship with other nations could arrange it.
– But they will not arrange it.
– I think Great Britain can. Now that we speak as one nation we shall have greater influence than we had when we spoke with separate voices. I believe the time will come when the New Hebrides and other islands can practically be brought under the influence of the Commonweal th. With regard to the defence force of the Commonwealth, from what I have heard I think we all agree that it is unnecessary to have a large permanent military force. As Senator Cameron and our other experts have said we can train the boys in our public schools, and make them capable afterwards of protecting the country. Our men in South Africa have shown that they possess great natural aptitude ia defence and in warfare. They have called forth encomiums of the very highest order from the greatest military authorities alive. I suppose closely allied to defence will come railways for defence purposes and for the connexion of our capital with the metropolitan cities. I am in favour of the capital of this island continent being connected with the railway system. I think it is highly essential it should be’ done for business purposes, and so that there may be rapid communication between the various capitals. But before any attempt is made to deal with fresh railway lines, we ought to decide, as. Senator Styles said, upon what the gauge is. to be. I believe the time must soon arrivewhen a uniform gauge will be considered necessary ; and, therefore, before any attempt is made to build a line we ought to decide what the gauge shall be. Then the culverts and sleepers and viaducts and tunnels can be made with that idea in view. With regard to helping the linetowards the west, fortunately we have, what perhaps will be a very prosperous gold-field at Tarcoola. We also have a large copperdeposit which is on the route to Kalgoorlie, and those mines will, we havereason to expect, contribute largely to the commercial success of the line. We know also from those who are in a position to judge that it- will notbe a very expensive line to build. With regard to a uniform franchise, of course, I know the present system is anomalous. We have two States where adult suffrage is in force, and we have otherStates where only manhood suffrage prevails. I was a very strong supporter in my State of the right of women to the franchise, and if a bill be introduced to make the franchise uniform in every State, by providing, for adult suffrage, I shall be found supporting it. At the same time, as a States’ rights man, I should like the States that are dealing with the matter to have time to settle it for themselves. It is largely a State matter, and I believe the States will settle it in a very short time. The States of Victoria and New South Wales are dealing with it, and as soon as any State decides on the adoption of . adult suffrage, then that franchise becomes automatically the federal franchise. Therefore, I do hope that the States, seeing that the Federal Parliamentis desirous of having a uniform franchise, will decide very quickly upon the adoption of that measure, and so make the law uniform throughout the whole of the Commonwealth. One must admit that our present system of electing representatives is certainly very defective. Thousands and thousands of votes are practically wasted at every election, and therefore I should be pleased indeed if the Federal Ministry, when they take up this question, would introduce what is known as the Hare system, so as to make the voting effective, and give true proportional representation to every citizen.With regard to old-age pensions, that also I mentioned when I started my campaign, and I said at the time that I objected to Federal Ministers taking up the question, on the ground that it was a subject that the State Parliaments ought to deal with first. I thereby called down upon my head a great deal of criticism from my labour friends, but I saw very clearly that if the Federal Parliament undertook the work, it would be impossible for them to raise the revenue to carry it out, unless they threw the whole of our finances into very great confusion. It would require such a large amount of money that the Federal Government could not undertake it unless they resorted to direct taxation. The Prime Minister objects practically to adopting that method of taxation, and we would have to raise about £6,000,000 of money through the Customs and Excise to get the £1,500,000 required to carry out an old-age pension scheme.I say therefore that the thing is altogether impracticable.
– Is that not a matter that can be arranged between the Commonweal th and the different States ?
– I am coming to that now. I am desirous therefore that the matter should be left with the States, because one or two States have already dealt with it, and almost every State Government has had it as one of the planks in its platform. The State Governments are in a position to raise money by direct taxation, and they can much more easily deal with the introduction of such a scheme. On the other hand the Federal Government cannot do so very satisfactorily. I was pleased therefore when I found that the Federal Ministry withdrew that matter from their policy. We all feel that those who have borne the heat and burden of the day, those who have helped to create the great wealth of this country, should not, when old ageovertakes them be, left destitute.
It is the duty of the State to come forward and render assistance to such persons. The State Parliaments, I think, are in a much better position, as Senator Playford so ably and clearly put it to us, to do that, and they can do it very much more cheaply and more effectively than the Federal Parliament. Then, with regard to the finances of the States, I really believe that that is the most difficult subject we have to deal with, and I judge from the speeches made by various members that they also consider it to be one of the most difficult of solution. The Federal Parliament will have to steer clear of the Charybdis of State deficits, and also of the Scylla of federal extravagance made possible by accumulation of surplus revenue. The Federal Government and Parliament will have to pray “ Lead us not into temptation by giving us surplus revenue wrung out of the burdened taxpayers.” Unless we are extremely careful, we shall involve the various States in deficits. If we have too large a revenue, then the tendency will be towards extravagance. I certainly think the only way to keep any Government economical is to keep them as poor as possible, just giving them enough to honestly pay their way and no more.
– Leave them a surplus for the increase of payment to members.
– I think, notwithstanding the remarks made by Senator Dawson, that the one great question after all is the fiscal question. There is no other subject that will demand the same amount of thought, and excite the same interest. The other Bills are largely machinery Bills, which we may say will be noncontroversial in their character. So far as the Public Service Bill is concerned, the Constitution itself provides that civil servants shall be protected from any injustice. The fiscal question, however, is one that affects the lives and the industries and the happiness of every one in this great Commonwealth; and, therefore, seeing that our trade will be practically dislocated until we have decided what the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth is to be, it is highly essential that we should get at that subject as quickly as possible, and settle the matter.
– And, if boots are taxed, the honorable senator’s chief will strew the roadway with glass bottles.
– I do not understand the purport of that interjection.
All I can say is that until we have settled the fiscal policy our merchants and manufacturers and all those connected with commerce and trade, will be in a state of unrest. Now, the question for every one of us to consider is : What shall the duties be - upon what principle shall we establish our fiscal policy? I think our national life is involved in that question. When we consider the great issues which are raised ; when we consider that it is after all that which will give character to our young nation, then I say we must approach’ this subject, not with a feeling of prejudice, but calmly and fairly, and be prepared to give and take in order to arrive at what is best for the community. I know it lias been said by some that neither protection nor free-trade makes or mars a nation. I certainly do think that, although that may not be entirely true, a nation is influenced in its character and industrial life by its taxation system. The working classes, above all classes, are deeply interested in the matter. I shall be surprised if my labour friends in this comer, when a Bill is brought before us dealing with this question, are found on the side of what is known as protection. We . have been twitted with being not free-traders, but simply revenue tariffists. Well, free-trade always meant a revenue tariff. When Great Britain abolished her protectionist system and adopted free-trade, it was not contemplated that the Custom-house was to be abolished entirely. In his Commercial Policy of the British Colonies and the McKinley Tariff Earl Grey says : -
When the policy of free-trade was adopted in this country it was not contemplated that customs duties should be given up as an important source of revenue ; on the contrary it was one of the chief arguments of the early advocates of the abolition of protection, that relieving the country from those duties which imposed a burden on the public without bringing in a corresponding amount of revenue, would tend to increase the amount received from the duties that were retained, it was held that the essential principle of the free-trade policy consisted in abstaining from all attempts to divert industry from its natural channels, and in imposing taxes solely for revenue in such a manner as to take as little money as possible beyond what was paid into the Treasury out of the pockets of the consumers. “
Those are the words of Earl Grey, who took a very important part in the adoption of the free-trade policy of Great Britain He was a very old man when he wrote that, and it shows his mind upon the condition of things in Great Britain at the time when they abolished their protective system and adopted free-trade.
– Which Earl Grey - the parliamentary reformer 1
– The parliamentary reformer. In his article on the McKinley Tariff he pointed out that in Great Britain during the time she had protection the working classes of England were practically reduced to poverty and destitution. I quote this because I have heard it said that England did not adopt free-trade until she had thoroughly established her industries. Now, she had protection for over 200 years, but what was the condition of her trade at the time she adopted free-trade? Were her legislators convinced theoretically that free-trade would be the best ? No, they were forced by the logic of facts to abandon their protectionist principles.
– But England is a natural manufacturing country, and she was taxing raw materials.
– Is England a natural manufacturing country now any more than she was before ? If she was a natural manufacturing country then in the days of protection she ought to have been prosperous, but the cry was that the mills were lying idle, and destitution reigned throughout the land. The people met at the cross roads to discuss their grievances, and one woman said - “They say we be protected, but if we be protected we are also starved.” That was the condition of Great Britain after pursuing a protective policy for so many years.
– That was the result of the corn laws. It was not due to protection or free-trade.
– Were not the corn laws part of’ the protective policy of the country? Sir Robert Peel, who was returned by the tories as a protectionist, had a large heart and sympathetic feelings, and when he witnessed the poverty and destitution of the people, he threw aside all ideas of protection, and said “We must come to their relief.” He felt it would be impossible otherwise to prevent a revolution in England similar to what had taken place in Prance. The very effect of introducing the free-trade policy in England relieved the country, and though at first it was thought that the revenue was suffering, yet, under the free-trade policy, it became more buoyant, and the people derived great benefit. I think it was Senator Playford who stated that England expected thatall the other countries would adopt free-trade when she led the way.
– That was Cobden’s prophesy.’
– I know very well that Cobden did hope that such would be the case. In his journeyings through Europe he had interviewed heads of. Government and others, and he thought that some of them would adopt a more liberal system of commerce. But hear what Sir Robert Peel said in the House of Commons. It is often stated that free-trade was adopted only in the expectation that other countries would follow our example. That is contrary to fact. Free-trade was adopted on its own merits. In a speech on the corn laws delivered in the House of Commons, 27th January, 1846, Sir Robert Peel said : -
I fairly avow to youthat in making this great reduction upon the import of articles, the produce and manufacture of foreign countries, I have no guarantee to give you that other countries will immediately follow our example. I give you that advantage in the argument. Wearied with our long and unavailing efforts to enter into satisfactory commercial treaties with other nations, we have resolved at length to consult our own interests, and not to punish those other countries for the wrong they do us in continuing their high duties upon the importation of our products and manufactures by continuing high duties ourselves, encouraging unlawful trade. We have had no communication with any foreign Government upon the subject of these reductions. We cannot promise that France will immediately make a corresponding reduction in her Tariff. I cannot promise that Russia will prove her gratitude to us for our reduction of duty on her tallow by any diminution of her duties.
Therefore Englandadopted the policy of free-trade, simply because it was impossible to carry on under the restrictive policy previously in force for so many years. As I said just now, the taxation adopted by a country has an influence, and a great influence, on the character of its people. That was shown very clearly in connexion with G reat Britain. At the time she had her protective policy, and how did she treat her colonies? How do nations to-day, that hold with protectionist principles, treat their colonies? With the same liberality that Great Britain shows towards hers? Certainly not. They treat them very much as Great Britain treated her colonies when she had protection. Then it was that she restricted their trade, not allowing them even to conduct certain manufactories, and compelling them in their dealings with other countries to trade in British bottoms. Under free-trade, however, she has become more generous and broad in her dealings with other nations, and the same spirit prevails in connexion with her dealings with her own children. When free-trade was adopted in Great Britain, the idea of her statesmen was that the same policy should extendall over the British Empire; that the same freedom of trade and commerce would be the policy of every part of the Empire. But the Australian colonies - and Victoria especially, was the first sinner in tins respect- passed Tariff Bills, and they were accepted by the Imperial Government. The Imperial Parliament practically departed from their proposal to have one fiscal policy for the whole Empire, and instead of being animated by the narrow selfishness that existed prior to the adoption of free-trade, they said we will let the colonies manage their own affairs in their own way. If they think that protection is useful to them, which we do not believe, let them have it ; they will soon discover the error of their ways and return to a broader and better system. They gave at once to the colonies the right to impose such taxation ; to raise their revenue in any way they chose; and even to tax British goods in the same way as they would tax the goods of any foreign nation, so broad and generous had the British nation become. We, in this great country, have developed such conflicting systems of Tariff as practically to make it impossible to continue them and make any progress, so that we have been glad to adopt federation in order that we may do away with the abominable barriers raised between each State. No State was more pleased to enter into federation than “Victoria herself, for no State felt or would have continued to feel the evils of protection more than Victoria. Hence, sir, the question now arises what shall be the policy for Australia ? Under the Constitution we have established, or will establish, absolute free-trade between 4,000,000 of people. Are we. who to-day are in possession of such an enormous amount of wealth, a greater amount of wealth per head than any other nation ; are we, who have developed our trade to such an enormous extent, to be considered mere infants?I say that in starting upon our national career we are in a position to consider that we are full-grown in our industrial life. There is not a single industry that I know of which has any reason to ask for protection. Let us take the engineering trade for example. We have been competing in that trade, and are ready, I am sure, to compete against any nation. Western Australia, as is known by her protective duties, gave no preference whatever to any of the Australian States, and 3’et go to Coolgardie and what machinery will you find ? You will find there the best machinery that can be produced, and, with the exception of certain patents, it has been made within our own States. Senator McGregor told us rather a depressing story about the competition that our local manufacturers have to compete against. He told us of imported filtration presses which cost so much delivered in Western Australia. He told us that Martin and Co., of Gawler, South Australia, sent their representative over there, who discovered that they could manufacture, thepresses, and he took contracts for the machines. It takes a long while to introduce a new machine on the gold-fields. Those who have anything to do with business know how costly it is to introduce a new thing. You have to persuade the people to purchase, and you have to go to very great expense in sending your travellers to show the different machines. In this way the initial charges certainly make the machine more expensive. The people in Kalgoorlie purchased a machine, and found that it worked very satisfactorily. The machine was patented. They were patented in Germany, but not in Australia, and, having discovered that fact, Messrs. Martin and Co. set to work and manufactured a machine at the price at which they were being imported. They discovered they could produce them for even a less price. At that time I believe the charge was £600 for each machine. That price was reduced by £50, but Martin’s people were still able to compete in the manufacture of them. As Senator Matheson pointed out, Martin and Co. had no advantage over any foreigner. They stood in exactly the same position as an American, a Frenchman, or an Englishman would have done. Yet we have so developed our industries that we can do these things. We can sell our manufactures at a price which will pay us, and pay the mines to adopt. I believe there are about twenty of the machines now on the field. Of course, we all know that the moment you introduce a thing, and the demand for it grows, with the result that yon have more to manufacture, you can produce more cheaply than when you have only one to make. That would account for the fall in the price which is natural in all trades. Take any trade you like, and I think you will find we are in a position to hold our own. What trade is there to-day that will promise anything like a fair return, for which capital cannot be found. What we have striven to do by our protective system is to introduce industries for whose product there was only a limited market. We have practically introduced manufactories too soon for the people here. If the demand for the article had been sufficiently large to start with there would have been no necessity for protection : no necessity to ask for it. We were really anxious to have an industry established in our midst without considering whether the thing would be justifiable or not, and under the cover of protection, we put on a duty which was to enable the manufacturer, in the process of time, to do what another capitalist would have been prepared to do at the outset, provided there was a sufficient market for the manufactured article. The process has been just this. You get -the article and the manufacturer receives a larger profit for which, of course, the consumer must pay. The profit practically goes in buying more machinery and reducing the cost of production, until the manufacturer has so increased his plant as to be able to produce more than the market demands. The result is that his capital has to lie idle part of the time, and his workmen, therefore, are thrown out of employment. This is always the effect of what is known as the protective system. Someone asked yesterday - “ Are the manufacturers of Victoria rich 1 “ I presume not. How can they become rich ? They put their profits into their business, and the money practically lies valueless, because they have no demand for the article which that capital can produce. Then we must remember that there was a very limited market prior to federation. By federation we have extended our markets, and Victoria, instead of having 1,250,000 people to trade with in its own State, will be able to trade with the 4,000,000 of the Commonwealth. Surely, by opening up such a large market we shall lead to any amount of capital being made available for industries that can show a fair return. Unless the consumption by “the people will justify the production of an article at home, so as to give a fair return on the capital as well as the labour involved, then I say it is huge folly to attempt to bolster up any such industry at the cost of the people. Now we come to a very important question ; the most important of all - the position of workmen. We have a right to study this question as it has worked out in other countries. Take the United States, for instance. I know it has been called a prosperous country, but I contend that the progress of America, with all her vast natural resources, with the skill, the energy, and intelligence of her people, is not anything like equal to the progress made in Great Britain under a free-trade policy. Tor years America attracted the great inventive genius of the world. Why? Because nature is so profuse in her gifts to that land. Nature has been far more generous to America than to England. The resources of the United States were so great, and so anxious were the people to develop those resources speedily, and so scarce was labour, that they had to call forth the inventive genius of the world to devise means for developing those resources without manual labour. Millions of people were poured into the country practically at the expense of Europe, because a child is a cost to the community from his birth up to the time he is capable of producing something foi- himself, that is at the age of 17 or 18 years. Europe poured her offspring practically into America, where the great natural resources gave facilities for labour, and they were able to produce at once much more than they could consume under such conditions. Had not America fettered herself with protection she would have been to-day far and away the greatest, the “richest, and the mightiest nation under the sun ; but what is the result 1 It is true that America has not y’et felt the evils of protection as ‘Victoria has felt them. Why ? Because of the vast natural resources of that great country. She has not yet felt its evils, as the nations have poured their surplus population on to her shores. The population has gone out from State to State and developed their great resources ; they have practically been the consumers of their own productions, except in the case of cotton and so forth. Since I first saw America,’ 3 1 years ago, her population has increased nearly 100 per cent., and she has such resources as would enable any people to become great. As her population has increased, so has there been absolute^ free-trade between the States. If there was any necessity at all for a protective policy, then I submit that it was needed in the Western States, as they were new and seeking to develop their resources. They had a right to have their manufactures, and to cry out against the competition of Philadelphia, New York, and the great manufacturing towns on the Atlantic coast. But have not the Western States prospered, notwithstanding all that competition ? Every State will prosper when trade is free and commerce unfettered. Between the States there has been such absolute free-trade as has enabled America to become rich. But what has been the effect of its protective policy on the working classes ? I am addressing myself now to my friends in the labour corner. The condition of the workers in the United States has not improved to anything like the same extent as has the condition of the workers in England. I venture to say that the condition of the workers in the United States to-day is not equal to what it was 31 years ago, when I first visited the country.
– Why do so many workers go from England to America every year 1
– Simply because that small area cannot maintain the whole of her population.
– Simply because they get better conditions in the United States.
– In going to the United States they go to a country where there are greater natural facilities and where there are opportunities for labour.
– And better wages.
– I shall quote to the honorable member the words of John Burns, and I think the labour corner will admit that he is one of the most faithful men to the labour cause. About five years ago John Burns visited the United States. He had every facility given to him to investigate the social and industrial conditions of the working classes. And what did he say 1 He did not find labour so well off as he had expected, and the standard of comfort was greatly diminishing.
– But what had he expected to find ?
– Capital absorbed 57 per cent. of the products of labour as against 47 per cent. in 1860.
– That was at the time when Burns went to the United States to collect money for the engineers on strike.
– I do not think so, but that would not affect the matter.
– Is that all he says about the wages question in the United States?
– It all depends on what he had expected.
– What he had expected to find was that, owing to the vast resources of the country, owing to the facilities given to every industry, the working men would be better off.
– He does not say that the working men there are worse off than Englishmen.
– I shall read a little more -
As regards sweating he could tell them that at Pittsburg he had seen Jews working 70 or 80 hours a week for from 12s. to 21s.
– I saw plenty of that when I was in England.
– Allow me to proceed -
Skilled labour received higher wages, but they were relatively worse off than their English brothers. Miners were paid less than in this country, and many of them received less than a dollar a day. They had no Mines Regulation Acts, and the track system was in full force.
That in itself is clear evidence that protection has not benefited the workers in the United States.
-Wages are higher there.
– Wages are higher there, but relatively the working men are poorer. The value of wages practically depends on the cost of living. A workman may receive higher wages, but if the cost of living is greater he is relatively no better off than he would be elsewhere.
-The cost of living is not greater there, it is less. They export immense quantities of food to feed the people of England.
– I tell the honorable member that the cost of living is greater in theUnited States. I lived in that country for a great many years, and I ought to know.
– I was there a few years ago.
– I am quite sure that if the honorable member had to work for wages in that country he would discover that what I have said is perfectly true.
– It is impossible because meat and bread are cheaper.
– How is it possible for the working classes in America to be as well off as the working classes in Great Britain ?
– They have higher wages anyhow.
– What do we find? When I went to America first you could count the millionaires on the fingers of one hand.
– But that was 31 years ago.
– That is ancient history now.
– I am quoting ancient history, because it has a bearing on thispoint. At that time you could count the millionaires on the fingers of one hand, but now there are more billionaires there than I could count on the fingers of both hands. What does that mean ? It means that the wealth has been concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.
– That does not show that the working man is not getting higher wages.
– I hold that where you have many millionaires you have as a natural corollary poverty among the people.
– Nothing of the sort; it is just the reverse.
– I think the honorable member will find that it is so. In Great Britain, under a free-trade system, what do we find 1 Instead of that concentration of wealth into fewer hands which is preventing the advancement of the labouring classes there is a greater distribution of wealth.
– Nothing of the sort; there are plenty of millionaires in England.
– The distribution of wealth is far greater in Great Britain than in the United States. The United States is fulfilling what was really a prophecy by Abraham Lincoln. In 1864, after the great civil war, when heavy duties were imposed, and a new system of extravagance was begun, and a class that had made money out of the war was springing into power, Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend a letter, in which these words occur -
But I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me, and causesme to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned, and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavour to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people, until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands.
What really amounted to a prophecy has been fulfilled - that is to the extent that the wealth of the countryhas become aggregated in the hands of a few of the people. What do we find in England ? We find a very different condition of things existing. What the working classes need is more and more of the co-operative spirit. In Americathe co-operative spirit does not exist - it cannot exist - and even trades unionism has very little chance of existing there, as it has had to its advantage in Great Britain.
– What about the Knights of Labour?
– What has become of them ?
– I don’t know.
– That is the point. What do we find is the state of things in Great Britain 1 Instead of what is known as the aristocracy controlling great wealth, and feeling that it would be beneath their dignity to enter into trade, we find almost every member of the aristocracy to-day engaged in trade in Great Britain ? But in addition to that what do we discover? - that the co-operative spirit under free-trade has a chance to grow and prosper, and insomuch as the cooperative spirit becomes more and more successful, so the distribution of wealth becomes greater. We find that the cooperative spirit - the spirit which leads to the greatest diffusion of capital and wealth -is more prevalent in England than in America. I find it stated that -
America justly prides herself on her giant force of intellect and industry and her 70 millions of population, but in the development of the spirit of co-operation, she is an infant beside England with her 40 millions of people with her freedom of trade and her industrial self-reliance.
To the next passage I wish to call the attention of Senator Playford, and also, if he were here, of Senator Styles, who referred to the Savings Banks deposits -
The wholesale societies of Great Britain have no fewer than two million members, and they are doing a trade of 70 million pounds worth a year, out of which they make a profit of £8,000,000.
You cannot find anything like that in America.
– Has not the honorable member heard that these co-operative societies sometimes sweat their employes?
– No, they do. not.
They have a share capital of £21,381,527 anda reserve fund of nearly . £2,000,000. They own land and buildings valued at £10,427,882, and their dwelling house property is worth £4,546,882.
– Is this all due to free -trade ?
– It is largely, because under freedom of trade and commerce that spirit can be developed ; but in the other country where restrictions exist we have not the same favorable conditions. This statement follows -
Last year they spent £60,000 on education, and distributed £25,000 to charities. From the year 1862 to 1898 the trade done by the co-operative societies amounted to the enormous sum of £974,000,000,yielding a profit of £89,000,000.
– That is ancient history.
– I am just showing how from that time this spirit of co-operation has developed itself, and how it has been in the interests of the working classes - because all these profits, instead of being concentrated in the hands of a few, are distributed among a large number of shareholders.
– How many of them ?.
– I said over 2,000,000 in the wholesale societies alone, and I am dealing only with the wholesale societies now. I said they did a trade of £974,000,000 from 1864 to 1898, giving a profit of £89,000,000.
Think of these figures friends, and look across the Atlantic Ocean, and you will find nothing to compare with it. Wealth in Great Britain is spreading itself among the people.
That is what I told the electors in South Australia when I stood as a candidate, and I speak of it now to show that the fiscal question is of all questions the working man’s. Some people have asked me, in all sincerity - “ Unless we have protection, how can we have secondary industries ? “ Well, if there were no facts before us to illustrate that industries can be established without protection, then I would have to give way ; but what do we find? Take New South Wales as an illustration ; what protection has she for her industries, and she has an enormous number of them ? Almost every industry that is in existence in Victoria we find established in New South Wales ; and if honorable members will look over the pages of Our Country, which is edited by Senator Pulsford, they will find a list of industries that have been established and are prospering in New South Wales under free-trade. Therefore, there is nothing in the argument that industries cannot be started and made prosperous without protection. Why do we find some of the principal factories in New South Wales ? What induced the Sunlight Soap Company to go to New South Wales, instead of establishing itself in Melbourne, as it desired to do? Simply the restrictions imposed there, under which it could not have advanced as it could under a free-trade system, such as that adopted in New South Wales.
-What restrictions ?
– The duties upon some of the raw material of the industry. What would be the effect if we adopted the principle of protection ? Who are we to protect ? Take for instance the iron trade. I, as an engineer, would probably desireto have a duty on my finished article. In South Australia they put a duty upon the product of the engineer, but they admit this raw material free. Why? Because it cannot be produced there. Protection has done us no good because we have not hadamarketin South Australia. Ninetyfive per cent. of our engineers’ work is actually done for States and countries outsideof our own borders. But, supposing the engineers fight for 25 per cent. now. What will Sandford, of Lithgow, claim -That he should have a duty on his finished article? He would say - “ We have our iron beds, which are like mountains; we have the coal and brains, and we can manufacture pig iron and bar iron, and plates, and so forth, and we ask for a protective duty.” That is why America finds herself handicapped when she has to compete in the markets of the world. What would be the effect here? When we sell the article at home we can put the cost of the raw material on to the consumer, but when we sell our articles in the markets of the world we find ourselves handicapped and unable to compete. Although a man may be a protectionist when living in a State which has barriers erected between it and other States, when those barriers are removed; I can understand that same man becoming practically a free-trader. The resources of this country are such that we can produce almost everything that we require, and if it is simply a question of how much duty we are to impose to establish factories, Parliament will determine that. I think any one who has studied the question will admit that it would not be in the interests of labour to adopt what is known as a protectionist policy. I belong to the secondary producing class. I know that my success depends entirely on the prosperity of the primary producer. If the primary producers are prosperous then our prosperity is assured, because they will require the work which we can supply. Who are the primary producers ? The miners, the agriculturists, the pastoralists, the market gardeners - in fact, as has been freely stated by several honorable members, 95 per cent. of the people of the Commonwealth are outside the pale of protection. Is it just to ask 95 per cent. to burden themselves on behalf of 5 per cent. ? We are in the position that revenue must be raised, and, seeing that the people are not yet prepared to adopt a direct system of taxation, then the Custom house affords the best means at present by which to raise the necessary revenue. But surely we shall not, in-order to raise £7,000,000, tax the people to the extent of £10,000,000. Surely it becomes our interest and our duty to our constituents, if we have to raise such a large sum of money to carry on the Government of the country, to draw as little as possible out of the pockets of the tax-payer.
-Where does the honorable senator get the £7,000,000 from ?
– It is estimated variously that from £7,000,000 to £8,500,000 will be required to meet the necessities of the States and of the Federal Parliament, but if we attempt to raise more money, and we raise it under the protective system we only burden the people all the more. Instead of having two tax. gatherers it becomes our duty to see that every penny paid by the taxpayer shall go into the coffers of the Treasury to meet the requirements of the States and of the Federal Parliament. Yesterday a remark was made by Senator Styles in reference to the Savings Bank returns of various countries, and I only refer to the matter in order to correct what may otherwise get into print and be misleading. The honorable member said, referring to his. comparison between the prosperity of Great Britain and the United States, that the deposits in the Savings Banks of Great Britain amounted to £154,750,000, whereas in the United States they amounted to £446,000,000. That looks as if the figures were decidedly against Great Britain ; but if we take the bank deposits we find that the United Kingdom in 1897 had £764,000,000 and the United States £374,000,000. I am not one of those who believe that the Savings Bank is the best barometer by which to gauge the prosperity of the people.
– Many of the most eminent financial authorities take it as being so.
– It is no barometer at all.
– Take the working classes of Great Britain. Millions of them instead of putting their money into the Savings Bank may be investing it in co-operative societies.
– It only means 2,000 or 3,000 families.
– It means that the ordinary bank deposits of Great Britain amount to infinitely more than the bank deposits of the United States, notwithstanding that the Savings Bank deposits are greater in the United States than in Great Britain.
– Can the honorable senator explain why Victoria has 110,000 more Savings Bank accounts than New South Wales?
– They have infinitely more than that in Denmark.
SenatorDobson. - Try and answer that.
– I will show how little reliance can be placed on Savings Bank deposits as showing the commercial and industrial prosperity of a people. Take the case of Denmark. Putting it at1s. per inhabitant, Denmark has 209s. per inhabitant, whereas Australia has only 84s., Canada 16s., England 62s., and the United States 88s.
– That does not show why Victoria has so many more Savings Bank deposits than New South Wales. That is surely some indication.
– I know that after the bank crisis that we passed through, several people who were doing a small business deposited their money in the Savings Banks, and drew it out every week, instead of putting it into the ordinary banks.
– Who told the honorable senator that ?
– I know that occurred in South Australia.
– It was done here to a very large extent.
– I will give the number of depositors per 1,000 of the population in several countries. Switzerland has 360 ; Scandinavia, 240 ; Germany, 180; France, 170; Australia, 165; the United Kingdom, 135 ; Italy, 120 ; Holland, 105 ; Belgium, 102 ; Austria, 107 ; and the United States, 67. I do not know what has operated in Victoria to cause so many depositors.
– Then there are so many more estates worth bequeathing in Victoria also.
– Perhaps in the other States, especially if they are prosperous, the savings are invested not in the Savings Bank but in other channels, such as in building and in enriching homes. There are a thousand and one things which in prosperous times people spend money upon.
– The habits of all Australians are pretty much alike.
– I have read these figures to show that, in my opinion, Savings Bank deposits are not a true barometer of the success of the people.
– Can the honorable senator give a truer indication?
– A truer indication would be the general prosperity and happiness and health of the people.
– How can the honorable senator find that out?
– I do not know ; but if you will look at the general condition of the working classes in England you will find that their condition has vastly improved, and wages in that country have risen enormously since the introduction of a free-trade policy. One may say that no country has prospered to the extent that Great Britain has since she adopted the policy of free-trade and commerce.
– That is only an assertion.
-Well, can my worthy friend quote any nation that has increased in prosperity to a similar extent. Take any country you like, arid look at its imports and exports. Look at the general trade, and then ask yourself what is there to justify any one in saying that England should be so prosperous under all circumstances. She was slower to adopt her educational system than Germany was. It is our protectionist friends who are always trying to find proof that Great Britain is not as prosperous as she really is. They are always seeking something to confirm their ideas that under free-trade no nation can be as prosperous as it would be under protection, and always seeking some little proof that England is losing her trade and commerce. And yet what do we find ? Not very long ago the Midland Railway sent to America for some locomotives. The cry then raised was - “ America is swamping England now, England has to go to America for her locomotives.” The amalgamated engineers wrote to England asking why locomotives had to be imported, and the reason was given by the superintendent of the Midland Railway Company. He said that they had the whole of their hands working night and day, and that they could not place an order with any private firm and have it executed in time to meet their requirements ; all private firms were so busy that they could not guarantee to deliver; and hence the company went to America to get locomotives, where they had them in stock, ‘ or could produce them much more quickly than they could be produced in England. If we take the letters that appeared in the papers showing what the labour leaders of Great Britain think as to protection and free-trade, we shall find that every one of them has said that under freetrade England has prospered enormously. The condition of her workers has improved to such an extent that you could not persuade them to support the adoption of a system of protection.
– It is not free-trade, but fair trade.
– All I can say is that England’s policy is considered to be a free-trade policy - that the Customs and excise are used for revenue purposes, and not for revenue purposes, plus something else.
In other words, what is paid by the people goes into the Treasury, and not into the pockets of private individuals. These are the facts. Is not every country to-day seeking to expand its commerce ? What did South Australia and Victoria do ? Did not they give a heavy bonus for the export of butter? Why is it that we do these things ? We do them in order that we may do a greater trade. If by the giving of a bonus here we export butter to England, and allow Englishmen to get it at a price less than that at which they would be able to get it without a bonus, then we are enabling John Bull to get butter at a cheaper rate than we are able to get it ourselves. We are willing to pay him a certain amount by way of bonus if he will only take our products.
– We have no bonus now.
– I am aware of that. I am speaking of what Victoria has done. We are all aiming at increasing our exports . What are our exports to-day but the results of our labour? The results of our labour are paid for with labour, and therefore, if we are enabling the people of Great Britain to get their butter for10d. per lb., whereas we at home have to pay 1s. per lb., then John Bull has only to pay us ten pennyworth of labour for his pound of butter, whereas we have to give twelve pennyworth of labour for it ourselves. Thus we enable him to be prosperous at our expense. I will deal now with what is known as the great labour question. I say, emphatically, that there is more involved in this fiscal policy, as far as the colouredrace question is concerned, than some honorable senators seem to imagine. If we look into the matter closely we will find that the cost of production is pretty much the same all over the world. In the countries where the highest wages are paid you will find that the cost of the production per unit of product is less than in countries where low wages are paid. If we desire to develop our own resources, and, if we desire to enable other countries to become prosperous in order that they may take our products, then the best thing we can do is to receive their products as free as possible from burdens and enable them also to have ours as free as possible. Take the case of a race that has been spoken of in this Senate as being an inferior one. What do we find ?
That their love of home is as great as it is with us. Do honorable members know of greater patriots or greater lovers of their own homes than the Chinese? When they die abroad they leave their last dollar to provide for their bones being taken to their mother country. If we throw off the restrictions on our trade and commerce, they will also throw off the restrictions on their trade and commerce. The policy of restriction is responsible for what China is to-day. If she will throw away those barriers,, and we will do our exchanges with her, we shall find that with freedom of trade the Chinese, instead of desiring to come to our shores, will stay at home and develop their own resourc.es. Having a market for their surplus production in the other markets of the world whereby they can bring back the products of other lands, they will enjoy life at home. Therefore, by means of freedom of trade and commerce, we shall go a long way to settle this question of race. I believe that freedom of trade is destined to be one of the greatest blessings that can be introduced into civilization, and make us all prosperous and happy. Now, at a time when we are entering upon our national life, what shall our policy be? Shall it be one of narrow restrictions? Shall it be envy, jealousy, undue fear of other nations 1 Or shall it be broad, generous, and manly, following the example of our mother country and abolishing protective Tariffs? Shall we introduce a system that will display a craven spirit of fear as to what other nations can do? Surely we Anglo-Saxons are capable of holding our own against any other race. Although I am a believer in maintaining the supremacy of the white races in Australia, although I strongly believe that we must protect ourselves against any of the degrading moral-
– I thank the honorable member for the correction. We must protect ourselves from the degrading immoral conditions that seem to exist in some other parts. We must preserve our high social character. Senator Dawson has spoken of Little Bourke-street and the conditions that prevail there. Why should there be such crowding in Little Bourkestreet 1 It is because we have not enforced our sanitary laws. Let us raise our standard in proportion to our capabilities of producing wealth. Let us enforce such laws as will prevent these aliens from crowding and living together in a way that is inconsistent with our higher civilization and with our aspirations as a great and noble people. I really think that freedom of exchange and commerce will bring about that happiness and peace which we .all desire. What is the position of Great Britain to-day ? Although some of the nations are envious they know that she is their very best customer, and that is the reason why England stands before the world in such a position, that if any of the foreign nations struck at her they would strike at once at their own trade, and in this way damage themselves most materially. Therefore, after all, it is because England opens her doors to the whole world that we find the whole world ready to respect and practically to bow before her. Shall we at this moment, starting upon our career as a member of the great Empire, be guilty of anything that would lead to its dismemberment ? That is what we have to consider carefully when dealing with the question of alien labour. Great Britain has subjects in all parts of the world differing from us perhaps in colour, but yet as anxious to rise in the social scale as we are. I have had to mix with some of the so-called inferior alien races, and I often think we are too conceited about ourselves when we brand as such those who were civilized and advanced long before we had thrown off our sheepskins. When we do so, I think we do a great injustice to Japan, for instance, and perhaps wound the feelings of a nation that must become a mighty power in the East. Japan is destined to become in the East what Great Britain is in the West. We must remember that it is to J apan and the East we shall have to look for our commerce. We shall be anxious to send our wheat and wool and other produce there, just as we are sending our silver there to-day. I do hope, therefore, that when we are dealing with these questions we shall rise above mere party politics and that we shall consider them from the high point of view of statesmen, Thus national life is developed and peace extended to all. May this infant nation grow in nobility of character, firmness of purpose, scorning ill-gotten wealth, and see to it as a first duty that its people are cared for and happiness made possible for them. Then only will it become truly great, and worthy of the great country from whence we spring. Then, Sir, will this young nation become one of the brightest and most valued jewels in the imperial diadem.
– Is that from George Reid %
– No, these are my own thoughts upon this great subject. I do hope that we shall rise as statesmen to the consideration of these great questions, and not be merely petty politicians. We, in starting this nation, are laying the foundationstone upon which the people will have to build, and therefore let us lay it nobly and well, so that all who come after us will be proud of our achievements.
– I presume that this debate is fast drawing to a close. I had an opportunity once of addressing a representative gathering in this Chamber. I think that Senator Matheson, and, if I am not mistaken, Senator Dobson, were here on that occasion. In 1899, we assembled here as representatives of the different colonies which constituted the old Federal Council. We almost preached the funeral sermon of that rather antiquated body, and I scarcely expected then that I would be one of the representatives of Queensland in the Federal Parliament. But such is the march of progress that we are here under new conditions, and I trust that the conditions which are so favorably inaugurated, will be such as will prove beneficial not only to the people of this great continent, but also to the people of the whole of the British Empire. I have listened with more than ordinary attention to the very many excellent speeches which have been delivered during this debate. Some of them were speeches of a high order. I am not exaggerating the position when I use that expression. I have had some opportunities of listening to debates in some of the greatest assemblies in the world - in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. At the end of 1893, I had the pleasure of listening to some of the ablest debaters and some of the finest elocutionary speakers in America. At that time Congress was sitting, and I was privileged to be permitted to listen to the debate on the great silver question, for several days, and I am bound to confess that the speeches I heard were extremely excellent, many of them eloquent, and were remarkably able expositions of the different sides in the controversy. Some of the speeches which have been delivered here were of a high order, and certainly would rank not at all unfairly or unfavorably with some of the speeches I heard in the House of Commons, and in the Congress of America. I must compliment the mover and the seconder of the Address in Reply. The speech delivered - may I be permitted to use the old familiar term 1 - by our friend Senator Fraser, was delivered with a vigour, and certainly with a characteristic candour which was really admirable. For a man at his time of life to throw the energy, the ability, and the vigour which he did into his speech, shows, at any rate, that there are many years of good work before him, and I shall, for one, heartily rejoice if it be so. I heartily congratulate Senator Keating on his very excellent effort. It was a speech remarkable for deep thought ; the language was exceedingly choice, and the manner, style, and the delivery generally were certainly very admirable. I, as rather an old stager in politics, compliment the young gentleman on his excellent speech. I agree with some remarks which fell from a senator last night. I think we shall hear a good deal more of Senator Keating. I look forward with great confidence, and certainly with great hope, to some good work being done by the young gentleman from the island of Tasmania. I wish to make some observations concerning a few matters which find a place in the Governor-. General’s speech. The policy, as foreshadowed in the speech, is a policy which at any rate the Ministry need not be ashamed of. I think it is one that any rational democrat may reasonably give his support to. I have taken some part in public life during a rather lengthy career, and I hold many advanced views concerning some of the questions therein outlined. I think I may reasonably say, without committing myself too strongly to matters of detail, that the general policy outlined in that speech will receive my most hearty concurrence and support. It has been said by some senators that the policy differs somewhat from the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister in his speech at Maitland some time ago. I have read most carefully the report of that Maitland speech; in fact I have a copy of it taken from the Sydney Morning Herald. I have compared that speech with the various items which find a place in this programme for the session, and I am bound to confess that although there may be some little difference in language, yet in principle and in substance, they are really the same thing. I think the criticism is unfair and unwarranted that there has been any difference between the Maitland speech and the various items which form this sessional programme. There shall be no cavilling at it so far as I am concerned. Because they are practically one and the same thing. The question of a uniform franchise, at any rate so far as the State of Queensland is concerned, is a question of very considerable importance. The very peculiar and antiquated election law we have in the State has caused a great deal of agitation, much controversy, and a good deal of heartburning with us for very many years. I rejoice to find that the first Ministry of the Commonwealth are sufficiently advanced in their views and democratic thoughts as to deal with this great question in a broad and comprehensive way, and put the franchise on such a basis that every man and every woman of mature age shall have some say in the choice of their representatives in both Houses of this Parliament. Another question of very considerable importance to the vast number of persons who are connected with the various industries throughout the Commonwealth is the question of conciliation and arbitration. I join entirely with some senators who have been urging that when this law finds a place on the statute-book it shall be one at any rate worthy of both Houses, that it shall not be merely a namby-pamby sort of measure, but shall be one that will compel the parties to a dispute to come together, and to act in a reasonable manner, not only in the interests of those who may be immediately concerned, but in the interests of the whole community. The question of old-age pensions is a matter to which I need not allude at very great length. There is no question on which there is greater unanimity of opinion and feeling than there is on that question. I think one of our first considerations - may I be permitted to say oneof our primary duties - is to have some care, and, shall I add, some little anxiety for the comfort and wellbeing of those who have arrived at a time of life when they are unable to work for their own livelihood and maintenance, that the State shall in a most reasonable and liberal manner provide for their wants in the sunset of life. This is a matter to which I have given a good deal of attention for many years. In the old world, prior to coming out here, I had opportunities of assisting in the administration of the poor law. For many years I resided in the North of England, and was privileged to occupy a seat as a member of the Poor Law Union in the old borough of Morpeth, where I had an opportunity of coming into daily contact with a very considerable number of persons placed in a position of penury and poverty, more particularly persons who, being aged and infirm, were no longer able to work for their own livelihood, and whose relations - sons and daughters - were circumstanced in such a way that they were not able to give any help. I rejoice heartily to know that the Government of the Commonwealth will bring in an Old-age Pensions Bill, I hope not in five years’ time, as the Prime Minister foreshadowed in a speech the other evening in another place, but at an early date, and that this question will be settled, and that we shall warm the hearts and bring some sort of cheer and comfort to the old people in many parts of the continent. Now, to come to the question of the exclusion of coloured aliens. So far as the exclusion of kanakas is concerned there may, of course, be room for some little difference of opinion, and there may be, perhaps, some regret expressed that the language of the paragraph in the speech is not more clear, and some intimation given as to when the abolition of kanakas is likely to take place. With regard to the firm restriction ofthe immigration of Asiatics, I think senators will unite to- deal in a vigorous, and at the same time I trust reasonable and tactful, manner with the question. With respect to the diminution and gradual abolition of the introduction of kanakas, so far as language goes this may seem at first sight to leave the final settlement of this question in abeyance for some time. I hope it will not be so. But so far as the gradual diminution and. final abolition of this particular traffic is concerned, I certainly shall render the Government all the help I can in bringing the controversy to a conclusion at the earliest possible date. This is one of the burning questions in the State of Queensland. It has been said, and I dare say quite truly, that the fiscal issue was the main question round which the great controversy raged during the recent campaign. Although the fiscal question was discussed to some extent - I may say to some considerable extent - yet it was not the main issue so far as the State of Queensland was concerned. The one burning question, the question of questions which has agitated the public men in that State for many years has been the question of coloured aliens, not exclusively kanakas, but all the coloured races. When I tell you, sir, that we have about 24,000 or 25,000 of this particular class of labour in our midst out of our comparatively small population of 500,000, and you learn that the bulk of these are men in the full vigour of manhood, in the prime of life, who come into keen competition with the workers engaged in the various industries, I am quite sure you will observe at a glance that this is a question of some moment, and some great importance so far as Queensland as a State is concerned. I may add that there is no question which engaged so much attention, and caused such an amount of agitation and warmth, and provoked the use of many strong words during the recent campaign, as the question of coloured aliens. I sincerely hope that the matter will be dealt with in a reasonable and at the same time a vigorous way, and that we shall not have this kanaka question hanging and dangling before us for the next eight or ten years, but that we shall have the diminution spoken of in the opening speech, and the final abolition of this class of labour effected within four, five, or six years. I observe that in some quarters there is the old cry for “ a little more time” put forth by some of those who advocate the direct continuance of this class of labour. I am now dealing with the kanakas. We have heard this cry in our State for many years. We had this cry raised in 1888, by the representatives of the planters particularly. In the year in which I entered Parliament we had this same cry of “ give us a little more time,” because then, and for some years previous to that year - 1888 - this was a burning question with us. It was a burning question in 1883 ; it was still a burning question in 1888. The great conflict of that time between the late Sir Thomas McIlwraith and Sir Samuel Griffith hinged largely on the kanaka and coloured alien question. When the elections were over, and a number of representatives came in from the sugar districts, there was practically a new Parliament under the Redistribution of Seats Act, and the cry for a little more time was heard. At that time, about thirteen years ago, the planters were content - at any rate, their representatives in Parliament alleged they would be content if they got an extension of five years, becausethe law then in operation abolished further recruiting at the end of 1890. The planters and their friends became so alarmed at the impending loss of that particular class of labour that in the following year they raised an agitation for the repeal of that Act, and for a little further time to be granted. The same cry is now raised. In 1892, when Sir Samuel Griffith, for some reason best known to himself, became Premier in a combination - a combination certainly of a character that I strongly objected to - my esteemed friend Senator Drake and I were in Opposition, and we strongly objected to the repeal of the law. But unfortunately the combination of forces was so strong and parties became so demoralized that the Act was repealed in 1892. There was not the slightest necessity for that repeal . It ‘was alleged that the colony had suffered very much on account of depression in the sugar industry, owing to the proposed stoppage of the introduction of kanakas in 1892. I have figures to prove conclusively that at no time in the history of the sugar industry was it so prosperous as during three years prior to 1890. There was a larger area under sugar cane than there had previously been, and that was a mere plea put forth by those who had the power at the time, and by the planters and their friends, for the further extension of the time during which kanaka labour could be introduced. Sir Samuel Griffith himself in his manifesto, if he did not state in so many words that the Bill which he proposed to introduce would contain a provision limiting recruiting to ten years, at any rate implied that it would not be extended beyond a period of ten years. Now the five-year period has gone, the ten-year period has gone, and here we have the same old cry ‘ ‘ A little more time. “ I happen to have given some years of thought and consideration to this question. I represent one of the chief sugar centres in the State of Queensland, probably the largest - the town of Bundaberg, a town almost exclusively dependent on this industry. In addition to having represented it for the last five years, it was my first home when I arrived on the soil of Australia.Coming in contact as I did at that time with a considerable number of coloured people, and having followed the great controversy in America in regard to the abolition of slavery, I was very anxious to go into this question. There existed then a veiled species of slavery. I must say that the improvement in the law since has been such that I cannot characterize the traffic in that language now, but some seventeen years ago it was really a veiled species of slavery, and my opposition being so strongly aroused, and hailing as I did from the old country -where the very name of slavery was sufficient to arouse the indignation of most British people, I went into the question very fully, and I have gone into it again and again. I say, without any reservation, and without the slightest fear of contradiction, no matter what may be said to the contrary by those engaged in the industry, that there is absolutely nothing in the cry that is raised that it is impossible for white men to engage in the production and manufacture of sugar any more than there would be in the cry that they could not cultivate and manufacture various other crops. We have white men in the Bundaberg district . who have been for years cultivating sugar cane, with the aid of their families and sometimes of hired labour, and who have not for years engaged a single black man upon then.’ plantations. This cry, which has been raised by certain interested parties - I do not say they are financially interested, but perhaps they are in other ways - that white men cannot engage in the cultivation of sugar cane, is a cry as hollow as loud - and sometimes it is very loud. I have not come to this conclusion hastily, nor with any degree of prejudice, but after going into the question in every conceivable way, following every particle of the industry from the putting in of the cane until it is crushed and manufactured into sugar, and sent out in a commercial form to the persons who consume it. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, and as far as the people whom I have the honour to represent in Parliament are concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that I trust the Commonwealth Government will at an early date, deal with the question in such a manner that it will be settled once and for all in such a way that white, and not black, men will be engaged in this industry. If members of this and the other Chamber will be a little reasonable, and forego their free-trade opinions just a little, giving some encouragement by means of a protective duty to sugar, which will be necessary to preserve this great industry, I think the difficulty will be solved. After all, we are not here to injure or destroy any industry, but to encourage and strengthen all industries so that they may bea lasting benefit to the whole of the people as well as those engaged in them. Now, it has been contended by some persons who wish to perpetuate this class of labour that the kanakas find work for white men. That has been the contention for many years. That is being contended to-day. The men in my own particular district, without exception - those who are most entitled to speak authoritatively on the matter, and who are freest to express their opinions - will not for one moment allege that, it is necessary to perpetuate this class of labour in order that work may continue to be found for white men. I repudiate such a statement. Would it not be a lamentable condition of things if a vast number of our race - men who come from the same stock as ourselves - had to depend upon a few savages with black skins to find them work and employment, and a means of livelihood % I repudiate entirely and in toto any such statement ; and again and again, when discussing this question on the platform and press, and elsewhere, I have referred to these matters, and have invited proof to support these statements. No proof has been vouchsafed. If there was anything in this contention is it likely that those who are dependent almost exclusively on the industry, as the community of people I represent are dependent upon it, would be so foolish as to do anything to bring it to an end, and thus not only destroy their means of livelihood, but render worthless their properties, their towns and districts. I have alongside of me a petition which was presented to the Prime Minister during his visit to Bundaberg, by a deputation introduced to him by his colleague Mr. Drake. It was a deputation of the workmen and others of Bundaberg. I am pleased to say that I have been returned on three occasions for that district by substantial majorities, not of one class, but of all classes, and I say no stronger proof could be given of my statement than the fact that those who are dependent entirely on the continuance of the industry are desirous of bringing about the abolition of black labour within a reasonable time. Is it likely that they would deliberately bring ruin and misery on themselves and their districts ? I say the thing answers itself. The very fact of my being here, and having been in the State Parliament for a number of years, elected again and againby these same people, is proof that the measure I support is not likely to destroy their means of procuring a livelihood for themselves and their dependents. I believe that in the Bundaberg district, and in the sugar districts generally, the industry will stand on the same solid and lasting basis when there is not a single black man employed on any plantation.
– What about north of Townsville ?
– A Royal commission was appointed in 1888 to deal with this same question, and I see a gentleman in another place urges upon the Government the distribution of that report amongst honorable members so that they may be given some enlightment on this matter. The commission presentedits report in 1889, andin that report there is a paragraph which controverts very strongly the allegation that used to be made that sugar could not be grown in any part of the colony except by means of black labour. This commission, after investigating the subject thoroughly, not only in the south but in the north, reported that in its opinion sugar could be grown north of Townsville without the aid of black labour and without detriment to the persons engaged in its cultivation. I deny the statement that north of Townsville that cannot be done. A few weeks ago I came from Townsville. During the federal campaign I visited the centre and north of Queensland, and I have spent some little time in Mackay and other sugar districts, and I say this allegation that white labour cannot be employed on the sugar fields north of Townsville is just as empty and hollow as the same cry that was raised with regard toBundaberg and other southern districts some years ago. Our record in the production of sugar in 1898 was 163,000 tons, but in 1899, when there was the next largest output, there were fully 88,000 tons out of 123,000 tons produced south of Townsville, and only 35,000 tons produced north of Townsville. So that supposing there is something in the statement made that it is not possible to cultivate sugar north of Townsville without black labour, the whole question hinges on the point whether coloured labour should be perpetuated for the purpose of assisting in the production of 33,000 or 35,000 tons of sugar. But I deny, as one who has given the question some very considerable thought, who has gone into it fully in every possible way, and dealt with every phase of it, that there is anything in the contention that sugar cannot be grown north of Townsville without black labour any more than south of Townsville by means of white labour. I hope the industry will be preserved. It is an important industry ; it is an industry which finds employment for a vast number of white men. It is an industry established in various parts of Queensland, around which have grown up some very important towns. The town of Bundaberg, when I went to it some seventeen years ago, was of comparatively little importance. To-day it has magnificent splendid buildings, beautiful streets, and, broadly speaking, the people are fairly comfortable and prosperous. But I say it is not our business, and I am sure it is not our intention, consciously to do anything which would injure this industry. With regard to the amendment now before the Chamber - I have no doubt brought forward in a perfectly good and fair spirit - it is one that I think there is no necessity for. I join with my friends on the other side who come from the same State as myself in saying that we are prepared to give the Government every possible support and encouragement in dealing with this question. At any rate we are prepared to see their Bill . If it be not of such a character as we would like to see tabled, it will be our business, as it will be our duty, to endeavour to amend it, and to put it into such a form that it will not only be acceptable to this Chamber, but acceptable to the great State of Queensland. Well, I have dealt with the contention that it is necessary to perpetuate this coloured labour in the interests of white labour. White labour has answered to the contrary. It has not only spoken emphatically in answer to that statement in the town of Bundaberg, but it has spoken equally emphatically in the extreme north. The fact of a gentleman being returned to the other Chamber in the person of Mr. Bamford, against one of the ablest and best known commercial men in Queensland, is further proof to emphasize the statement I have made that the people in the sugar-fields of the north, do not require this particular class of labour and are desirous of getting clear of it. In addition to the evidence which I have just given, I have beside me tabulated information which I could quote and which would be further proof of what I have stated. It is’ sometimes contended that work in the sugar fields is so hot and oppressive that white men cannot do it. What are the facts? In the sugar mills, and particularly in one very large one in my town, that particular class of labour is absolutely prohibited by our laws. Coloured men are not permitted to be employed in the sugar mills of Queensland.
– Does the honorable senator refer to Millaquin 1
– Yes, to Millaquin, which is one of the largest mills in Queensland, and where they employ white men exclusively, as they are bound to do by law.
– In the mill?
– Yes ; in the mill. But what are the facts in regard to that mill. There we have eight or nine men engaged there every year and all the year round, not casual labourers coming and going, but men with fixed employment in the mill, some of whom have been there for from ten to fifteen years, and who have to work there in the summer time in a perfectly nude condition. But you find no such state of affairs in the sugar fields. There is no heat so oppressive in the sugar fields, because whatever little ventilation you get from Heaven you get out in the open air. And yet it is often asked - “ Will white men do this particular kind of work ? “ Now the men I refer to have worked in that mill not only one summer, but summer after summer, and I therefore think it is preposterous for persons to ask will white men do this particular class of labour? -Do white men work our ships in the tropics and work in the stoke-holes of the steamers ? Do they discharge cargo ? I have seen them in Townsville and other northern ports, in the height of summer, working when the heat was most oppressive. Is there any difficulty in finding labour to do that work, or are the ships stopped for want of men to work them from port to port? When we have men working in the stoke-holes of steamers in the tropics, working in the mines, cutting the jungle, driving tunnels and laying down railway lines, it is absolutely preposterous to ask whether white men can work in the sugar fields of Northern Queensland. It is preposterous. These statements are put forward in a plausible way, and may carry at any rate some conviction to the minds of certain persons who are not very well informed. But those of us who have come from Queensland, who have visited the sugar-fields and other fields of labour, simply brush the question aside. Not because we wish to treat it contemptuously, but because we know that these statements, are unfounded and cannot be supported.
– Exactly so. It will be a bad day for the white man when he is no better than the nigger.
– As a man who has some pride in his country, I simply laugh the thing to scorn. We see the white man doing this work there every day. We have not to depend on a few dark skins from Polynesia to do it. Senator Ferguson has stated that it is not worth while passing any Act to exclude the kanakas, because they are dying out very fast. I am quite sure the honorable member is just as humane, and just as anxious to preserve the lives of those poor people as any of us ; but I say that you have thereby an argument stronger than any other, which ought to induce this Chamber to support the Ministry in their efforts to bring this matter to an early settlement. It should be our desire to preserve these people in their own islands, and not allow them to come here to destroy themselves.
– It is pure murder.
– I will not characterize it in that way. I am able to give some information as to the mortality among these people during the last ten years. We have had between eight and nine thousand kanakas in Queensland during that period. There has been very little variation in the numbers, yet”, Mr. President, the trade has developed in that time by more than 1 00 per cent. While there has been no increase of black labour, but rather a reduction, there has been a great increase in the industry. That is an additional argument in support of my statement as to the practicability of white men being engaged in this industry. There can be no question- that a good deal of the increase in business is due to the fact that white men have been almost exclusively engaged in the work during that period. From 1890 to 1900 inclusive, we had a population of about 8,000 kanakas, and out of that very small number there have been 364. deaths per year, averaging 42’22 per thousand. I will give honorable members the alarming total. These kanakas, who come to Queensland, are young men in the prime of life, and in the full vigour of manhood, but yet, in ten short years, we have had the alarming total of 3,642 deaths.
– Does the honorable senator think the death rate amongst white workers would be much less.
– Much less. I have figures showing the mortality amongst white people engaged in the sugar industry and other industries, both in the north and central Queensland. The death rate is comparatively low.
– About 12 per thousand.
– The death rate for the whole of them, including women and children and old and infirm, is only about 12½ per thousand. Taking the number of young men engaged in this particular kind of work, the death rate among them would not be more than 4 or 5 per thousand.
– What is the cause of the excessive death-rate among kanakas?
– There is a variety of causes. It cannot be because of the particular kind of work they have to engage in.
– They are ill-fed and overworked.
-It may be that they are not well accustomed to the work they are called upon to do. But, atany rate, we have the alarming fact that in ten years there have been 3,642 deaths among this small number of kanakas.
– And yet the honorable member opposes the amendment.
– Do not let us be drawn away from the main question at issue. Senator Matheson knows very well that those who come from Queensland understand the subject better” than others from outside. Itis not merely a question of bringing thismatter of coloured labour to a close to-morrow,or next day, or next year. It is a matter which must be dealt with skilfully and tactfully, so as to avoid bringing ruin anddisaster upon the people who have been invited by our laws to commence operations.
– But the honorable senator has just shown that the kanakas are not necessary to the. success of the industry.
– The honorable member must know it was contended years ago that it was unnecessary to use the slave labour in the West Indies, but such was the vast sum involved that Great Britain, in a skilful and tactful way, got over the difficulty by paying a handsome sum to get rid of slave labour. I laid down in my policy, when before the electors in 1896 and 1899, that ifI had an opportunity I would stop this immigration at the earliest possible date. I would do that. I hope the Government will bring the question to a close at the earliest possible moment. The agreements now entered into extend over a period of three years. Some of them expire in a few months, so that at the end of five or six years we should be able to get clear of kanaka labour. As a practical man, however, I recognise that we must deal with the question in such a manner that the abolition of the kanakas from Australia will be the least irksome, and that the loss and possible heart-burnings to the people engaged in this industry will be as little as possible. A good deal has been said with regard to the great subject of free-trade versus protection. I am almost afraid to touch upon it. It has been handled in so many ways. It is just as well, however, while we are dealing with the question of the best means of raising revenue, for me to give my views. I have listened with profound attention to the arguments advanced on both sides. I have heard them all with the exception of those put forward on Wednesday of last week, when I was unable to be present. So far as I have been able to follow the discussion, and as far as I have been able to read this question, I am in favour of protection as against free-trade.
– The honorable senator has not read Mr. Reid then.
– I have read Mr. Reid and listened to him. I have read Mr. Barton and listened to him. I have also heard Senator Dawson this afternoon, but I am bound to confess that although I listened to him with much interest I certainly did not share the opinions which he expressed. He described himself as a revenue tariflist, and if he follows the dictum laid down by other members who have spokenon the same side, then may I venture to say that he is a low tariffist.
– We are all revenue tariffists.
– It has been urged with great force that Great Britain has made mightier strides, and increased her population and wealth to a greater extent than some of the protectionist countries. I deny that. I say America has made far greater strides in her population and wealth under’ protection than Great Britain has done during the last half century.
– Her millionaires and paupers have also increased.
– They have in both countries. It is contended that British industries are not declining. I would commend to senators an excellent article published in the North American Review of October, 18’99, dealing with British commerce. As a man having some pride in his own country, I regret that a decline has taken place in Great Britain’s commerce ; but it has taken place, and there is no use disguising the fact. A statement was made by Senator Gould with considerable force, that British trade is not declining. I shall take the trouble of reading an extract to the contrary from the article I have mentioned. It is written by a gentleman named A. Maurice Low, who gives much thought and consideration to the subject. He says -
If, during the next 25 years, Great Britain loses her trade as rapidly as she lias during the quarter of a century from 1870 to 1895, she will have yielded her primacy as the greatest of the world’s commercial powers. If, in the quarter of a century ending in 1924, the same industrial progress is held by the United States as has marked the closing years of the present century, the United States will lead the world in export trade, with Germany second, and Great Britain third.
The marvellous expansion of the export trade of the United States during the last few years has led certain English economists to assert and believe that England, despite the world’s competition, still holds her pre-eminence as the greatest exporting nation ; that while other nations have obtained their share of the world’s commercial expulsion, England’s supremacy remains unassailed. Admitting, as they do, that Germany now controls certain industries formerly monopolized by Great Britain, and that the sceptre of the iron and steel trade has pissed out of their hands into those of the United States, it is still the belief of English students of trade movements that England has nothing to fear from its commercial rivals. These hopes are false. England is steadily losing her control of the world’s markets.
An examination of this table shows that, in the quarter of the century, Russian exports increased 17 “35 per cent. ; German, 42-90; French, 20’40 ; the United States, 1 JO-OB; British, 13-17. Put in another form, the loss of British commerce becomes even more apparent. In the period from 1870 to 1895, the aggregate export trade of the five great commercial nations of the world increased 34 ‘70 per cent., while Great Britain’s share of the increase was only 13-17 per cent. In 1870, Great Britain did a trifle more than 75 per cent, of the total of the commerce of the great industrial nations ; in 1895, her share was a trifle under 30 per cent. In twenty-five years, she has not only not held her position, but she has lost some of the trade she held in 1870, and gained nothing by the commercial expansion of the world. It was because of this loss that the
United States, in twenty-five years, were enabled to more than double their exports, and Germany to increase its exports 42 per cent., both nations profiting- at the expense of Great Britain.
In 1870, one quarter of the world’s commerce (exclusive of the British colonies and dependencies) was done by England ; including her colonies and dependencies, 35 per cent.. In 1895, Great Britain’s share of the world’s commerce had fallen to a fraction less ti ian 18 per cent. ;’ or including her colonies and dependencies, it had declined to 31 per cent. ; showing that while she still retained her supremacy as the leading commercial factor of the world, her power was waning instead of growing.
– How does the honorable member account for the commerce of England increasing every year?
– I will come to that presently. The writer continues : -
An analysis of the export returns would show that, in nearly all the great staples, Great Britain has lost her position. Space will not permit this detailed examination, but it is interesting to study the changes in four leading lines - coal, iron ore, pig iron, and shipping.
In 1870, Great Britain’s proportion of coal production of the great coal-producing nations was 51 per cent. ; in 1895 it was 34 per cent.
The shrinkage of Great Britain’s production of iron ore has been still more marked. In 1870, her output was 56 per cent, of the great ironproducing nations ; in 1895, it had fallen to 25 per cent. In 1870, she had produced more ore than all the rest of the world combined ; in 1895, she had yielded her first place to the United States.
– Not one item mentioned there shows any falling off in Great Britain.
– It does not show any falling off in Great Britain, so far as her output of coal is concerned ; but it shows that she has not kept pace with the other great producing countries, and has not ap proached the pace of the United States.
– What work is the senator quoting from ?
– From the North American Review for October, 1899.
– If the honorable member will take the trouble to quote from the same review for last month, he will find very different figures given.
– Let us now turn to this enormous increase of wealth and population which has been referred to with such force and vigour by honorable gentlemen on the other side. Senator Gould said it was absurd to say that England is losing her trade and her industries. But the writer in this review conclusively proves beyond a shadow of- doubt that England is losing, and losing very rapidly. I think it is well for British people to recognise this fact, regret it as they may. We all hope that the decline will not continue, and that Great Britain will call halt, and use the best brains and intellect which the nation is capable of producing, and I think England is capable of producing brains and intellect equal to any country, if she will only get out of those conservative ruts she has got into, and will adopt new methods, new appliances, and, shall I say, perhaps, protect her own people in the same sort of way as the great United States and Germany have been doing for a number of years.
– Does the honorable member know that the .export of Great Britain, per capita, is more than the export of both Germany and the United States put together ?
– Let me give the Senate a few facts concerning the increase of her population and her wealth, and that, too, by a gentleman capable of producing such facts. Prom the North American Review for 1890, I am going to quote a passage in an article which was written by the late James Blaine, one of America’s greatest, and, I think, ablest statesmen.
– A. most violent protectionist.
– Of course, he was a strong protectionist. In this article he is writing an answer to one of England’s greatest and most able exponents of freetrade, the late Bight Honorable W. E. Gladstone.
– How many years ago was it written ? He is dead : this protectionist theory killed him.
– Does the senator mean to say that the free-trade theories of Gladstone killed him ?
– Because I might just as well say the one as the other. I am quite sure that the honorable member did not wish the late James Blaine to die because he was a protectionist.
– And I am quite sure that there is not one of us but regrets the departure of the late great statesman - W. E. Gladstone.
– Take no notice of him ; it is the figures which are making him squirm a little.
– What does the late James Blaine, who I frankly admit was a protectionist, say in answer to the article written by the late Mr. Gladstone, one of England’s best exponents of freetrade, and certainly from my point of view as a man who followed him for many long years, one of her greatest and best statesmen? At page 40 of this volume Mr. Blaine says :-
In 1 860 the population of the United States was in round numbers 31,000,000. At the same time the population of the United Kingdom was in round numbers 29,000,000. The wealth of the United States at the time was 14,000,000,000 dols ; the wealth of the United Kingdom was 29,000,000,000 dols. The United Kingdom had therefore nearly the same population, but more than double the wealth of the United States, with machinery for manufacturing four-fold greater than that of the United States. At the end of twenty years (1880), it appeared that the United States’ had added nearly 30,0p0,000,000 dols. to her wealth, while the United Kingdom had added nearly 15,000,000,000, or about one-half.
– One might as well compare a growing boy with a full-grown man.
– Just so.
– If one is fully developed and the other is not, the ratio of increase in the latter is greater.
– Surely the same thing will apply to Great Britain. Great Britain was fully developed when the United States was in course of development, but this child is a wonderfully vigorous boy and has made marvellous progress towards development during the last few years, and that under protection.
A Senator. - In spite of protection.
– Under protection, and because of protection. What are the facts ?
During this period of twenty years the United States had incurred the enormous loss of 9,000,000,000 dollars by internal war, while the United Kingdom was at peace, enjoyed exceptional prosperity, and made a far greater gain than in any other twenty years of ‘her history - a gain which, during four years, was in large part due to the calamity that had fallen upon the United States. The United Kingdom had added 0,000,000 to her population* during the period of twenty years,- while the addition to the United States exceeded 18,000,000.
– That has nothing to do with protection.
– Just what one would expect.
– The writer proceeds as follows : -
By the compound ratio ot population and wealth in each country, even without making allowance for the great loss incurred by the civil war, it is plainly shown by the statistics here presented that the degree of progress in the United States under protection fur exceeded that of the United Kingdom under free-trade for the period named. In 1860 the average wealth per capita of the United Kingdom was 1,000 dollars, while in the United States it was but 450 dollars. In 1880 the United Kingdom had increased her per capita wealth to 1,230 dollars, while the United States had increased her per capita wealth to 870 dollars. The United Kingdom had in twenty years increased her per capita wealth 23 per cent., while the United States had increased her per capita wealth more than 93 per cent. If allowance should be made for war losses, the ratio of gain in the United States would far exceed 100 per cent.
There are the facts as produced by a mind capable of producing them, and with a vigour and a lucidity which I think are worthy of the man, and perfectly clear to the understanding of any ordinary person.
– America’s prosperity is owing a great deal to the prosperity of England - to the fact that England had loaned her money to develop her resources.
– We will take another aspect of this question. It is contended that while a manufacturing district of a country may increase in wealth, and in population, it often does so at the expense of other sections of the community. Mr. Blaine combats the argument in this way -
Giving heed to the cry of the professional freetrader in America, Mr. Gladstone feels sure, that though the protective manufacturers, in the United States may flourish and prosper, they do so at the expense of the fanner, who is in every conceivable form, -according to the free-trade dictum, the helpless victim of protection. Both Mr. G ladstone and the American free-trader have then the duty of explaining why the agricultural States of the West have grown in wealth during the long period of protection at a more rapid rate than the manufacturing States of the East. The statement of the free-trader can be conclusively answered by referring to the census of the United States for the year 1860, and also for the year 1880.
In I860, eight manufacturing States of the East, (the six of New England, together with New York and Pennsylvania), returned an aggregate wealth of 5,123,000,000 dollars. Twenty years afterwards, by the census of 1880, the same States returned an aggregate wealth of 16,228,000,000 dollars. The rate of increase for the twenty years was slightly more than 216 per cent.
Let us see how the agricultural States fared during this period. By the census of 1860, eight agricultural States of the West (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin) returned an aggregate wealth of 2,271,000,000 dollars. Twenty years afterwards, by the census of 1880 (protection all the while in full .force), these same States returned an aggregate wealth of 11,268,000,000 dollars. The rate of increase for the twenty years was 396 percent., or 180 per cent, greater than the increase in the eight manufacturing States of the East.
I shall not detain the House by reading further extracts, but I think those extracts coming from such an eminent authority as they do, put in vigorous language which cannot be misunderstood or misconstrued, conclusively prove at any rate that so far as the United States are concerned her great protectionist policy adopted 40 odd years ago has proved highly beneficial to that country, and I might say very fairly it has proved highly beneficial to the world. At any rate she has increased in population enormously ; and she has also increased in wealth. She is increasing her population daily, and she is also increasing her wealth. I am quite sure that we would all like to see the great mother country of which Ave are proud not only keep step by step with that great republic, part of herself practically speaking, but go in advance of her so far as population, wealth, and the prosperity of the people are concerned. I do not know that I have much more to say. I shall look forward with some degree of interest to the introduction of not only the measure dealing with the Asiatic question, but also the measure dealing with the Tariff. I would like to ask one or two questions before I conclude. First and foremost our low Tariff friends say, I have no doubt with perfect sincerity - I give them full credit for sincerity and honesty of purpose- they are extremely anxious to preserve our industries, provided, of course, that those industries can be preserved without any protective duties. Of course, that is very generous on the part of the low tariffists. I am extremely anxious to see our industries preserved, even after we raise sufficient to cany on the Government of the Commonwealth, and also to return to the States that which is their due. But I go a little further than some of our low tariffists do. I would extend our operations so as to .continue the protection of some of our own industries, which I think are worthy of being continued, and worthy still of a little protection.
– What do they need protection for, if they are worthy of being continued ?
– The question arises, how are they going to preserve those industries? Is it by opening our ports tothe cheap products of the world? Are we going to open our ports to every class of article produced by cheap labour, and not by coloured labour alone ? I ask my friends on the opposition benches - are we going to open our ports, andinvitecompetition from the great and fast competing country of Japan, a country which is going into every branch of industry, even to carriage building, and the construction of locomotive engines. Her manfactures are spreading by leaps and bounds.
– Wages are rising there by leaps and bounds in that country.
– I am going to quote the wages paid to particular classes of labour there, and to ask honorable members whether they are anxious to bring our population into competition with those classes of labour, and the wages which are paid to them ? I, for one, am not. I shall throw the responsibility on those who, whilst professing to be anxious to preserve our industries, are destroying them, at any rate from my point of view. But what are the facts with regard to Japan ? My friend Senator Charleston says that in Japan wages are going up by leaps and bounds. I am sure there is great room for advancement. I have taken some information from the consular reports for 1896. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get information about that country, and that is the latest I have been able to obtain. In that year I find there were no less than 75 mills in Japan. I spent the first five years of my life as a factory boy, starting when I was under the age of eight years, I know something of factory life, and I certainly know something of mining life. Well, at that time there were 75 mills in operation, and at present there are a great many more: At that period only 14,000 men were employed in the mills, while there were 50,000 women so employed. The wages paid to the men amounted to the handsome sum of from 5d. to 8d. per day. There is surely room for some advancement there.
– As they increase their production they increase their wages.
– I will ask my honorable friends on the other side, who are extremely anxious to preserve our industries, provided they can be preserved by opening our ports to the cheap products of the world, whether they are prepared to advocate that our females should compete with the females of Japan, who are paid 2½d. to5d. a day? So far as I am concerned, I am not, and I am not anxious to bring about competition between our malelabourers and Japanese who are paid from 5d. to 8d. per week.Iam anxious to preserve wages, to insure comfort in our homes, and to give to our families more of the joys , and sweets of life than they can get now.
– What wages do our farmers compete against ?
– I have no doubt we shall be able to furnish the honorable member with the necessary information when the proper time arrives.
– Our farmers have to compete against labour paid at the rate of 2d. to 4d. a day.
– I had some tables dealing with these farming matters, but I did not bring them with me, in order that my speech might not be too much prolonged. I annot anxious to bring our farmers into competition with labour paid, as it is in Russia, at the rate of 2s. per day.
– Our wheat is competing against their wheat.
– I am bound to say that it is a new way of preserving our industries, and keeping up a high standard of living to open our ports and invite competition from the cheap products and cheap labour of other parts of the world. I had a little taste in my early life of low wages and poor conditions. When I was born my father had the magnificent sum of 10d. per day as a labourer working for a noble lord in the north of Ireland. I was one of four children attempted to be brought up or dragged up on that handsome sum, and at an early period of my life I made up my mind that I should endeavour to get the best wages I possibly could for my work, and would endeavour to assist my fellow men to procure the best possible conditions consistent with reasonable work. But at my time of life, bordering on 60 years, I am not anxious, whatever anxiety may be shown by my friends on the other side of the chamber, to bring about the wretched conditions ofwhich I had some little experience in my youth. If my friends are anxious to do that, the responsibility must rest on them, but I shall not be a party to it.
– The honorable senators were bom in the days of protection.
– I was born in 1844, and free-trade followed the year after.
– How does the honorable senator account for the fact that there has been a less percentage of these cheap foreign goods imported into New South Wales than into Victoria.
– I have not gone into details in regard to that matter. But before the Tariff Bill is disposed of I venture to say I shall be ableto answer the honorable member on that point, and on every other; but let us deal with some of the allegations made concerning the prosperity of New South Wales, as compared with Victoria. I happen to have no animus against either one colony or the other. New South Wales is a neighbour of ours, and we hope to work in a friendly and amicable way with her, as we do with Victoria. But in this great national assembly we know no oneprovince ; we know all the provinces and all the people, and it is our bounden duty, and ought to be our pride and pleasure, to do everything we can which will bring the greatest amount of prosperity to our people. A great effort was made to show the prosperity enjoyed by the people of New South Wales as compared with the people of Victoria.
– Would the honorable senator do away with protection if the wages of the workers of Japan were raised to the same rate as they are here?
– I would not do away with protection if the wages were increased to-morrow.
– We might have more competition from other countries besides Japan.
– However, we will deal with that question when discussing the Tariff. I am too old a fish to be drawn by honorable senators. When the proper time comes we will go into these matters, but in the meantime there are other subjects that I wish to deal with. In my opinion those honorable members who have endeavoured to show that New South Wales is commercially and industrially speaking more prosperous than Victoria have absolutely failed. Senator Styles dealt very fully with the matter last night in the excellent speech which he delivered, and to which I listened with great attention and interest. Now, the factory laws of Victoria surpass anything of the kind in the world. I have read most of the protective laws which concern persons engaged in various industries, and I know of no law so liberal or protective in its character and operation as the factory law of Victoria. Victoria provides through her wages boards a minimum wage for females and males - from 16s. to 25s. for adult females, and from 30s. to 44s. for adult males. How, I ask, is it possible for manufacturers to pay such wages and provide reasonable hours and fair conditions for the people engaged in different enterprises, if we open our ports and invite the cheap productions of the world to come into competition with what is produced here?
– How do they do it in New South Wales?
– There is one matter I have discovered dining this controversy, and that is that many of the representatives of labour and trades unionism call themselves free-traders. I am bound to confess that I am absolutely astonished and amazed at how they can reconcile their position. The very essence of trades unions is that they are protective institutions, for the protection of people engaged in various industries. I have been a trades unionist since 1860, and I am one now. But I certainly could not reconcile my position as a trades unionist if I were to proclaim aloud to the world that I was a free-trader - a free-trader in labour and production. Some honorable members say, “ We are very anxious to exclude black labour, but not to keep out its productions.” I am anxious to keep them both out. I would keep them out for a variety of reasons, andnot exclusively because the black labourer competes with some of our white labourers. That is one reason, and a very good one ; but there are other reasons, moral and otherwise. But to open our ports and give facilities for the productions of these people to come into competition with the labour of our boys and girls and men and women is, to my mind, an absolutely incomprehensible position.
– The black man’s goods do not carry the taintof his person.
– They carry the taint of cheapness.
– Then, dealing with the question of old-age pensions, it is asked, “ where are we to get the money to provide pensions for our aged people “ ? Is it by a low Tariff? I think not. I think we should have a reasonablyhigh Tariff, which will insure reasonable wages and preserve our industries, and keep our people employed. But we must look to the Government to raise sufficient money to provide for our aged poor and invalids who are unable to work for themselves.
– That will have to be done by direct taxation.
– I shall heartily join in any reasonable system of direct taxation which will aid in that direction. If it can be procured without going to the Customs house all right, but one of the means of raising a reasonable sum of money to assist in that direction will for some time to come be the Customs house. I am sure our friends on the other side are perfectly honest and sincere with regard to excluding Asiatics and getting rid of kanakas. How is that to be done by means of a cheap and low Tariff? Take the duty that is now levied on sugar in New South Wales. It is £3 per ton, whereas in Victoria it is £6. The duty of New South Wales is the lowest that some of our friends would go to. Is that going to assist us to keep clear of this particular class of labour? Not at all. I hope our friends will on this matter rise to the occasion, and assist us to get clear of coloured labour, but that can only be done by making some sacrifice and putting on a sufficiently high protective duty, which will enable our planters to abolish this labour and employ white men in the sugar fields, paying them a reasonable wage and providing reasonable conditions.
– Then we tax the whole of Australia.
– Is it unreasonable to ask that the whole of the people should pay a very small sum indeed for the purpose of establishing a white race on this continent - for the purpose of carrying out that great principle ? One gentleman said he had some pride of race ; so have I. I believe every honorable senator has a pride in preserving Australia for the white races. But if this great industry is to.be preserved, surely our friends will be prepared to make some little sacrifice to preserve it and bring about this great change, which will not only prove beneficial to thenselves, but of lasting benefit to those who come after us.
– What good is the industry if it has to be kept up by our contributions ?
– One might as well say what is the good of our post-offices in Queensland that have to be supported to the extent of £120,000 a year ?
– Our post-offices are no good for making wealth.
– They are good for affording facilities to our people in the distant parts of the State, and we subsidize them year after year. I want to see patriots rise to the occasion, and show that they are patriots prepared to make some little sacrifice for the establishment of this great principle of a white Australia ; but if this principle can only be secured provided there is nothing to pay for it and no sacrifice made, then away with your patriotism and your sham nonsense and your desire to see a white Australia. I do not aim at establishing something by the destruction of something else. I do not wish to prolong the discussion any further, and I thank honourable members for the attention they have given me. I trust that the same spirit of forbearance, the same good temper that has characterized our proceedings from the beginning, will always be manifested in the Senate ; and that, when we come to deal with those great measures which have been foreshadowed, we shall have only the one - to do the best for the whole of the people of the Commonwealth.
– In rising to contribute what I hope will be some very brief remarks to this debate, I feel a certain amount of trepidation, seeing that I am what may be called a political cockerel. I may say that if it had not been for the kind invitation given by Senator O’Connor to every member of this honorable Senate to at least give some idea as to how far his support would be extended to the Ministry, I should not have interposed on this occasion. Perhaps it is a duty which I owe to the Ministry and to members from other States who are strangers to me, as I am to them, that I should say a few words. Let me state at the outset that I feel almost inclined to charge the Ministry with having stolen my policy. As regards the general policy of the Ministry I can certainly claim that it is a policy which I was elected to support, and therefore I am happy to be able at this early stage of my remarks to say, that so far as the general policy of Ministers is concerned, my support will be accorded to them until at leastI see their Tariff upon the table, when I shall use my own discretion. Senator Harney made a charge against the Ministry that the speech put into the mouth of His Excellency was too much in the nature of a compromise, and that it was couched in too conciliatory terms. I think, seeing that this is a union of the States of Australia, that what we should expect is compromise. Compromise may be taken to be the basis of matrimonial life, and we, who are joining together in what I hope may be a happy union of the States, cannot be too conciliatory in our attitude towards one another. One of the first subjects touched upon in the Governor-General’s speech is that of “adult suffrage. I should be very pleased to see this great question dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament at the earliest possible stage, because I believe that the influence of this Parliament will re-act upon the Parliaments of the States. J come from a State the people of which have suffered from a very illiberal franchise for many years.Iam hopeful that once adult suffrage is made the franchise for the Commonwealth other States will follow our lead. In the electoral law which will be introduced by the Federal Government it has occurred to me that provision should be made for permitting seamen to vote while absent from home.
– That is the law in New South Wales and South Australia.
– I have always thought that our seamen, who constitute a very great part of the workers of Australia, ought not to be disfranchised because they do not happen to be in port on the day of the elections. I know that is not the rule throughout the States. It would be a reasonable request to make that the master of a vessel should be the returning officer for the time being in case of an election, and that he should be required to telegraph the returns immediately on reaching the nearest port. There might be a provision that in the event of the returns being delayed for a week or a fortnight - whatever limit might be agreed upon - owing to the vessel being some distance from port, the votes should not count. In this way the elections would not be delayed.
– Why not let them vote by post as they do in Victoria?
– It is a matter of detail. I simply say that I would like to see the principle adopted in the electoral law of the Commonwealth Parliament. Upon the question of the restriction of aliens, I can only say that I am entirely in accord with Ministers, and with a majority of the senators who have already spoken. Perhaps I may be able to speak with a little more authority than some senators have done, because I have had opportunities of studying the question during a residence of several months in the northern part of Queensland. I can assert that any work done in that part of Australia by any kanaka or other coloured labour can certainly be done by white men. In following my avocation as a mining reporter, I was compelled to go down the mines in the tropical regions of Queensland, and there I found white men stripped to the waist, and doing their eight hours’ hard work per day. They were not only able to do it, but to come up to the surface after it, good men, and ready to take on the same class of labour next day. Their health was not impaired after several years of the work. If they are able to perform this class of labour without injury to their health, and to do justice to their employers in heated underground regions, they are certainly able to work in the open air where they can get the benefit of any breeze that may be blowing. The argument that the sugar industry cannot exist except by the employment of kanaka or other alien labour will not hold water. I have heard it stated in many places and on many occasions, that because onethird of Australia lies within the tropics, and may be called the great sun belt land, there are only three alternatives open to us in dealing with it. The first alternative is a mixed occupation with European predominance. That has been favoured by those who are anxious for the continuance of coloured labour. The second is a white occupation, which it is said is impossible, owing to the climate; and the third is “no occupation at all.” Having heard the arguments of honorable senators from Queensland, who know more about the subject than others, and having read the result of the elections in that State, where the one question was a white Australia, and where, as Senator Dawson has said, the white Australians swept the polls, I think we, in the southern parts of Australia, should be prepared to accept what is really the ultimatum of the Queenslanders. We should pay every attention to it, and, perhaps, give more consideration to the arguments of the representatives of that State than we would to the arguments of those who have not had an opportunity of investigating the question on the ground.
– We know all about it.
– Yes ; and because of my several months’ residence in Queensland I think I may also claim to know more about it than some honorable members who have said that the restriction of coloured labour means the ruin of the sugar industry. I will not admit that argument for a moment. If it could be shown that the restriction of coloured labour would mean immense loss to the sugar industry I would go so far in my desire for a white Australia as to accept the third alternative given by the prokanakas. I would say - “ I prefer no sugar industry at all, no occupation of this land, rather than that one-third of Australia should be made a dumping ground for coloured aliens.” I do not think there is any need to dwell at greater length upon this question, after all the argements we have heard for or against it. A very grave difficulty, however, seems likely to present itself to the Commonwealth Parliament, more particularly in regard to the exclusion of the Japanese. Some of the journals that are not favorably inclined to the exclusion of the Japanese are already holding out the threat that” the Commonwealth Parliament must be very careful. Some of them say that the labour members have objected to coloured aliens on moral and social grounds, but that their objection is really as great on the ground that these aliens will reduce wages, although that objection has not been openly . expressed. If honorable members allied with the labour movement have not given expression to that opinion I certainly am not afraid to do so. It is not only on social and moral grounds that we should endeavour to keep Australia white, but it should be also upon the ground that the introduction of hordes of Japanese labouring men will reduce the standard of wages, and thereby reduce the standard of living and comfort of the Australian working man. I hope the statement made by some of the journals within the last few days that we can look to the Imperial Parliament for justice and for co-operation and sympathy with us will turn out to be correct. I sincerely . trust that any desire expressed by us to the Imperial Parliament for the exclusion of Japanese as well as all other coloured aliens will be listened to with reason and with justice. I hope the Imperial Parliament will give heed to the unanimously expressed desire of Australia, and that they will not endeavour to override our wishes, simply in the interests of a few wealthy syndicators or manufacturers whose businesses may be jeopardized by the exclusion of Japanese from Australia. If the people who deny that the presence of these coloured aliens is a menace to Australia could only carry themselves back to America 300 years ago, and then put themselves in America to-day, I think their opinions would be changed.” Only 300 years ago the first shipment of negroes went there. Now thereare S,000,000 of them in America.
– And they are American subjects.
– Yes, and a source of very great trouble to the white people.
– There are nearly 12,000,000 of them.
– Perhaps the figures I have given are not ‘recent. I remember having seen them not long ago, and they come from a reliable source. In laying the foundation stone of a new nation we should approach this subject with all possible care, and we should see that every honest and reasonable endeavour is made to exclude these alien races. It is not fair to ask British or European workmen to come into contact with them for the sake “of those who would like a continuance of coloured labour in order to preserve the sugar industry and make a few persons more wealthy than they are already ; it is not fair to expect any self-respecting man who wants to clothe and keep and. educate his children decently, to come into daily contact with these races. The kanaka will not live up to our standard of civilization or morality. In leaving this part of the Governor-General’s speech, I can only say I do so with the utmost confidence that when the Bill which is to be brought down to deal with the restriction of kanaka and coloured alien labour generally is laid before us, we shall find that the Government have made every reasonable effort to grapple with the difficult problem. While I am as anxious as my honorable friends on the other side of the Senate to see the exclusion of these aliens brought about as early as possible, I certainly cannot support the amendment moved by Senator Millen. I cannot support it for the reason that has been given already by so many honorable members. Kanakas only are mentioned in it. nothing is said about the Japanese or other races, who, as the Queensland representatives say, are a greater menace to Australian workmen than the kanakas. There is one clause in the Governor-General’s speech which commends itself to me, as one who has been mixed Up all my life in the mining industry - I refer to the passage relating to ‘conciliation and arbitration. I trust that the Bill to bring about that will be introduced at an earl)’ stage this session. As my honorable friend, Senator Keating, has said, it must be compulsory to be effective. I should like to see the subject dealt with as early as possible for two reasons. It is absolutely necessary in the first place, not only in the interests of the workers, but for the good* of employers and capitalists throughout Australia, because I believe that here again the influence of the Commonwealth Parliament will re-act upon the State Houses. I have seen great injury done to the workmen in the State I come from, because of the absence of any legislation to provide for compulsory conciliation and arbitration. Within the last few months we have had a strike there, which though very small in its own way, has had a very injurious effect. If we had had in that State a measure to compel arbitration and conciliation, that strike would have been settled within a week of its commencement, and the men would have returned to work then. Instead of that, men were walking about idle for many weeks, and much suffering was caused to them as well as inconvenience to the people generally. The history of Australia to Australians is clear, and there is no need to dwell at any length on this point. Unfortunately, within the memory of the youngest honorable member, we have had many disastrous strikes. We have witnessed enough of the injurious effects of labour and capital flying at one anothers throats to make us anxious to see this legislation enacted by every State of Australia, as well as by the Commonwealth Parliament. I am not so enamoured of the clause in the GovernorGeneral’s speech which deals with old-age pensions as I am with some of the others. I do regret the note of delay sounded there. This is not a subject that should be cast aside to be dealt with on a future day. The Government has been told by the majority of electors throughout Australia that this is a very big question, and while we have heard it expressed by nearly every honorable senator that he is in favour of an old-age pensions system ultimately, many of them counselled delay because of the absence of funds.
– That is a question that will not brook delay.
– I entirely concur with the honorable member. I think that some of those who are of opinion that it should be delayed for one, two, or three years, and who in the very next breath express the belief that no time should be lost in building the federal capital, are not consistent. The question of old-age pensions should appeal to our humanity far more than the question of building the federal capital. If we have not the funds to provide immediately for a systematic scheme of old-age pensions, then it is of such great importance that it demands legislating for at even an earlier stage than the federal capital, although that, of course, is a necessity which I hope will not be too long delayed. Surely we must all admit that the aged poor are subjects of commiseration. Surely we must all admit that the soldiers who have fallen in the battle of toil are subjects for our sympathy. It is all very well to hear honorable members who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, cradled in luxury, reared in affluence, and thrown out, perhaps, on the world with a big fortune behind them, countenancing delay on account of the shortness of funds. But I take it that very few of those who express such sentiments have ever known the pinch of poverty. It will not be denied that this great country of Australia has been built up by the sweat and toil of the old people who are with us now. And it will not be denied either that a very great proportion of those old people, by far too large’ a proportion, are now suffering want and misery. I think it should be one of the very earliest acts of this Parliament to try and prevent them from going down in poverty to the grave. I believe that the trouble of ways and means can be easily got over. I am not called upon, as Senator Clemons said he was not called upon, to suggest to the Government a method of providing for old-age pensions, but I have enough confidence in the ability, especially in the financial ability, of the Government, to think that if they put their shoulder to the wheel they can provide sufficient money to establish a fund for old-age pensions which will work with uniform effect throughout Australia.
– Why not take it out of the surplus of the several States ?
– I am quite agreeable to do that. I am willing to listen to any suggestion. What I want to do is to establish the principle, and I sincerely hope that the Ministerial leader in the Senate will take notice of the remarks of the few who, like myself, are anxious to see oldage pensions established at an earlier date than is indicated in the Governor-General’s speech. One subject on which a good deal of remark has been made is that of the transcontinental railway to Western Australia. I think that the consideration of that proposal involves also the consideration of other works perhaps quite as large. I am free to admit that I have not ‘been able to acquire any information about the route to be traversed or the probable traffic on the line to justify me in giving a hard and fast opinion at this stage, and I believe the majority of the senators stand on exactly the same ground. I have no doubt that the information which is being compiled by the Parliament of South Australia, or the Parliament of Western Australia, or by both, and by the Commonwealth Parliament, will be placed in the hands of the members of both Houses at as early a date as possible. I am quite sure that the project will be given full consideration to, and that even honorable members who so far have expressed themselves as antagonistic to the idea - perhaps because they are not in possession of sufficient information - will give fair consideration to the reasonable request of the members from Western Australia. I say reasonable request for this reason - that although the evidence which is placed in our hands may show that this stupendous work is not justifiable at present, still, until we get that information, we are not in a position to say that it is not justifiable. I said just now that- the consideration of this line involves also, in my opinion, the consideration of a line to the Northern Territory. I think that it would certainly be a wise procedure on the part of the Common wealth Government to get. control of the Northern Territory as soon as it possibly can, because we are told by the Parliament of South Australia that they possibly will not consent to cany on the administration of that territory for many years longer at an annual loss of £100,000, which I understand they have been making for the last two or four years.
– We say it is not fair to ask us to do it.
– It is not fair to ask South Australia to do it alone if the statement is true that the loss of £100,000 a year is incurred in endeavoring to keep the Northern Territory as a home of the white man.
– No, a home for the speckled man.
– If it is true that South Australia could relinquish this loss by turning over the Northern Territory to the British government - which would simply mean the introduction of hordes of aliens - then ‘I hold it would be to the interests of the Commonwealth Parliament to seriously consider at an early date whether it would not be advisable to take it over themselves. On the question of defence, I think there is a wonderful unanimity of opinion amongst all the members who have spoken. As one who objects to too much expense in connexion with our defence force, it pleased me intensely to hear nearly every honorable member say that he was in favour of a citizen soldiery. One senator suggested that there might be a capitation grant, but I think that, if the Commonwealth Parliament could afford to supply to every man a certain amount of ammunition free every year, and also his rifle, we would get better results than we would from a capitation grant. I hold that the establishment of factories for the manufacture of arms and ammunition should be one of the earliest things provided for. If we get ‘ a citizen soldiery, if, as Senator Styles said last night, we teach our men to shoot straight, and to shoot often, from behind a rock or a tree, we shall have the nucleus of a defence force which will be efficient enough for all purposes of Australia. It will not be the less efficient because it is a citizen soldiery. Of course, we shall have to be very careful indeed to start on the right lines. A remark made by Senator Stewart the other night struck me with peculiar force. He said that promotion should be made by merit without any regard whatever to social position, He was subjected to several interruptions, and particularly from my friend Senator Cameron, who- 1 regret is not here to-night, and who seemed to be entirely at variance with Senator Stewart, and denied that such a thing could exist to-day in the British army, but I say that it does exist in portions of the British Empire where the British system of militarism prevails. In our own little State of Tasmania, and Senators Cameron and Clemons should be aware of the fact, during the last year there has been a flagrant case brought to light. A respectable man, not less respectable because he did not occupy a high social position - a man who had proved himself to be thoroughly capable as a private - received intimation from the military authorities that in future all appointments would be made by merit and not owing to social position. The man I refer to was Private E. Ward, and to be quite sure of my position let me read a short extract from a letter which appeared in the Hobart Mercury. It is as follows : -
Some time ago I, being a colour-sergeant in charge of our detachment, read a regimental order stating that in future all officers would be appointed from the ranks, and at the request of the men here I applied for a commission, which was recommended by the captain of my company. About a fortnight after I attended the class of instruction, which lasted three weeks. About the middle pf last week I was taken before the commandant, who told me- that, although I had the ability, he would not recommend me for a commission because my social position was not good enough, and he only wanted men for officers who were in a position to visit Government House.
That is portion of a letter signed by the man himself, and it has never yet been contradicted by the people against whom the charges were made.
– It was admitted as correct.
– It was a very bad case.
– The result was that this much ill-used man sent in his resignation, and the incident led to the entire breaking up of his detachment.
– There have been recent cases.
– I. am reminded of another case. Colour-Sergeant Paul, a man well known by repute if not personally to all the Tasmanian members, because he has figured for many years as one of our best rifle shots, also applied for a commission, but although he had been fifteen years in the force, and had proved himself a splendid man, and was acknowledged to have all the necessary ability, he was passed over for a lawyer who had only been a few months in the force. I say that without any reflection on honorable senators who happen to have the misfortune to be lawyers. The result of this recent case was .that about a dozen members left the detachment because they could not put up with such a mode of treatment. If that sort of thing can happen, if two flagrant cases can occur in twelve months, how can it be conscientiously said by Senator Cameron that the system of promotion “under the Imperial Government is by sheer merit, and has nothing to do with social position, or the accident of birth, or good fortune.
– The system in Tasmania has been very discouraging.
– It certainly has, to my knowledge. A good many years ago, when I, in company with hundreds of others, was spending half the wages I was. earning in becoming a good rifle shot, if we made the slightest request to the Tasmanian Parliament for a little assistance we did not get it. However, that has nothing to do with this question, except in a very small way. What I wish to impress on honorable members is not to lose sight of these facts when our future military system is. being fashioned - not to lose sight of the fact that one of the principles which should be embodied in our scheme of defence should be promotion by sheer merit, and. not by the accident of birth or social position. Now, before leaving the question of defence, I wish to say that I was very much pleased with the remarks of my friend Senator Clemons, who reminded the Senatethat Tasmania is certainly the most vulnerable point of Australia for an attacking force, as it would furnish a base ; and I hope that in considering any future schemes: of defence due regard will have to” be paid to that matter. I have already occupied the time of the Senate longer than I intended, but before resuming my seat I believe it is incumbent on me to say something about this interminable Tariff question. “What I say will be very brief, and very much to the point. Any stranger dropping into this House, who had never heard or read anything about protection, and did not know what protection or free-trade was, if he had listened to some of the excellent speeches delivered by the protectionists, would have gone away thinking that there was only one fiscal system for the salvation of the world, and that was protection ; and any stranger hearing some of the excellent speeches delivered by the free-traders would have gone away with exactly the same opinion regarding free-trade. After listening to the speeches delivered on one side by Senators Glassey, Styles, Playford, Keating, Sir John Downer, and several others, and on the other side, after listening to the array of facts and figures presented by Senators Millen, Neild, Gould, Pulsford, Charleston and Clemons, we certainly ought to have a little more light now than we had before upon this fiscal question. I admit freely that I have come from a State where we do not know so much about the practical working of protection and free-trade as the people on the mainland do, for the reason that we have had’ no secondary industries to protect. Although Tasmania is the most highly protected State from a revenue point of view in the group, with the exception of Western Australia, our protection has been given for the purpose of revenue and not for the purpose of aiding any particular industry. Therefore, the real issues of protection and free-trade has not been forced upon the people there to the same extent’ as in New South Wales and Victoria. We are till here to learn how best we can arrive at a reasonable way out of the difficulty which presents itself. It seems to me that the word “compromise,” which I used in my opening remarks, is the one word that affects these great arguments. I dp not think it is possible for free-trade New South Wales, where free-trade carried the polls at the recent elections to expect that free-trade is going to be passed by the Commonwealth Parliament ; neither do I think it reasonable for Victorians, who have so long been nurtured in protection, to expect that the other States, and particularly New South Wales, will agree to a highlyprotective Tariff”. I think, Sir, that the only way out of the difficulty will be found to be in compromise all along the line. I am quite satisfied that we shall hear less talk about protection and free-trade when we come to discuss the Tariff Bill than we have heard during the present debate. Honorable members will settle down then to the facts that they have to get a revenue on the one ha.nd, and that on the other hand the bulk of the people of Australia will not consent to a high Tariff. Our free-trade friends say we shall require 10, 12, 15 and perhaps 17£ per cent, for the purposes of revenue, and they argue with some show of fairness that anything like a 15 per cent, or 17-J- per cent, duty added to the cost of freight and insurance represents a fair amount of protection. Our protectionist friends, many of whom have declared themselves to be moderate protectionists, ask for nothing much over 17-^ per cent. That was what they said before the elections, and I understand the majority of the protectionists in the Senate as well as in another place are what are called “ moderate protectionists.” I believe, therefore, that whenever a uniform Tariff is initiated, it will be on the lines of compromise, and that a spirit of compromise will actuate all honorable members in discussing the Tariff item by item. There is just one aspect of the question I would like to mention. We who come from one of the smaller and weaker States, may perhaps be pardoned if we look at this matter from somewhat of a parochial standpoint. Although there are many industries which are protected in Victoria, we in Tasmania have no secondary industries, or, at least, we have had none to speak of up to the present time. We have had to get a great part of our revenue through the Customs house, and that undoubtedly has fallen pretty heavily upon the people. The disarrangement of the finances of the States owing to union, is certainly not equal all over Australia. For instance, . the disarrangement of the finances of Tasmania is very much greater, or the loss to the Tasmanian Treasurer through the federal union will be much greater, than it will be to some of the other States, particularly New South Wales. Roughly speaking, I may say that last year the total revenue of Tasmania was something like £1,000,000 in round figures. I think the proportion of the revenue derived from Customs and Excise was £458,000, which is equal to about 48 per cent. Under the section, known as the Braddon blot, in the Constitution Act, Tasmania,as well as the other States, has to give up one-fourth of its Customs and Excise to the Commonwealth.
– A sum not exceeding one-fourth.
– Yes; you will readily see, therefore, that, taking last year’s returns as a basis, Tasmania will have to give up 12 per cent. of its revenue to the Commonwealth.
– More than that, because she loses all her intercolonial revenue.
– The Constitution Act guarantees that the States shall not have to give up more than one-fourth.
– It says not less than three-fourths shall be returned to every State, and I am not going to believe the Federal Parliament will return any more than three-fourths.
– I hope it will.
– If the return of more than three-fourths means interminable delay in the establishment of old-age pensions, I hope not. Without referring to figures, because I have not been carrying about a lot of books like some honorable members have been doing - although I must say I have derived great benefit from their speeches - I believe the total revenue of New South Wales forthe financial year 1899-1 900, was something like £10,000,000. I believe also, speaking from memory, and subject to the correction of Senator O’Connor, that the proportion of the total revenue of New South Wales, derived from Customs and Excise, was about 1 7 per cent. If that is so, New South Wales is only going to surrender one-fourth of 17 per cent. of her total revenue to the Commonwealth. I do not mean to say that the surrender of this revenue is a loss to the people only, but it is clear to me that the disarrangement of the finances will be considerably greater in one State than in another. Coming from Tasmania, therefore, where this disarrangement will be very great, we mustbe pardoned if we view these great fiscal arguments from what others, may be, consider a parochial stand-point.
– New South Wales will get a little over £750,000 surplus.
– I am glad to hear that because, perhaps, the Commonwealth
Parliament may consent to the distribution of portion of that surplus amongst the smaller States.
– In accordance with that broad federal spirit wo have heard so much about.
– After five years they will have the power to do so.
– When they have the power I hope that should the smaller States need it they will receive generous treatment at the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament. In leaving this interminable Tariff argument, let me say that I believe the imposition of such a Tariff as is acknowledged by all the senators, free-traders, and protectionists alike, to be necessary for the working of the Commonwealth, and for the exigencies of the various States, will afford a fair amount of protection, added to which the freight and insurance will give some protection to native industries. And if this incidental protection assists in maintaining the industries that are now flourishing in Australia, then I, for one, shall not object; in fact, I shall rather welcome it. I think that after a little while, when we get to know each other better, we shall find that there are not many rabid free-traders or protectionists amongst us. We shall display a spirit of compromise, and the freetrader who admits that he wants to get a certain amount of revenue will consent to hear himself called a moderate protectionist.
Honorable Senators. - No, never.
– Call us anything but that.
– It does not matter what they are called. If the principle is there, if they admit that they have to raise this revenue, and that the raising of revenue necessarily brings about a certain amount of incidental protection, then they cannot get over the fact that that protection must, to a certain extent, protect native industries. Before resuming my seat, and thanking the senators for listening so attentively to my remarks, which probably have been very disjointed, I would like to say, on behalf of the party to which I belong, that it is here in the same federal spirit as any other party. A little time ago one hardly dared to mention the words “ labour party “ in connexion with any respectable politician. But the feeling of the people now is that all classes of the community have an inherent right to be represented in Parliament. We have no desire to turn things topsy turvy or upside down. I am quite satisfied that the members of the labour party in this House; and in another place will be able to conduct themselves with the same amount of decorum, and the same amount of respect to the Chair, and the same amount of tolerance fur other members, as other senators. I am quite satisfied that it is the desire of the labour party to assist the free-traders and the protectionists, and those representing other classes of the community, to make this nation of Australia a strong one, and Australia a good land to live in. I am also satisfied that the conduct of the members of the labour party in this Chamber, and in another place, will be such that when they go before their constituents in three years’ or in six year’s time, as the case may be, the feeling which as I say existed a few years ago, will then have been entirely swept away, and the people of Australia, as a whole, will be thoroughly satisfied that men can be members of a labour party, and at the same time respected members of a community and of a Parliament. I hope, nay, I am satisfied, that the other members of the party in this Chamber, are of the same opinion as I am ; that we shall not do anything to bring discredit upon the Senate. It is our desire, as it is the desire of other honorable members, to take our place in building up a great nation, and in making Australia a good and happy land to live in.
Debate (on motion by Senator Drake) adjourned.
Resolved (on motion by Senator O’Con nor) -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until half-past 2 p.m. to-morrow.
SenatorO’CONNOR(NewSouth WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council). - I find that some alterations will be required in this Bill, and that the simplest way of carrying out my view is to withdraw it and bring in another. Therefore I beg to move -
Thatthe order of the dayfor the second reading of this Billbereadanddischarged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Order of the day discharged; Bill withdrawn.
Senate adjournedat 10.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 May 1901, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1901/19010530_senate_1_1/>.