3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, whether, in addition to the periodical weather reports which are placed in the various rooms occupied by honorable senators, he will also cause reports concerning Queensland to be supplied ? I may add that the present reports exclude Western Australia and Queensland.
– I do not quite know what reports the honorable senator re fers to; but I shall make inquiry at once anil see if his wishes can be met without delay.
” PARTY-SERVICE “ TELEPHONE.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, whether he is in a position to make a statement to the Senate regarding the introduction of the “party-system” of telephones in South Australia?
– Since the honorable senator questioned me on the subject, I have received some information from the Postmaster-General, who informs me that the reply I gave to a question the other day is perfectly reconcilable with his telegram of the 14th ult. to the honorable senator, and with the letter to Mr. H. J_. Pudney, from the Deputy Postmaster” General, which he was good enough to give to me. My honorable colleague says that he has asked the Deputy PostmasterGeneral by wire for a report on the latter point, and also as to the representations made by the honorable senator that persons had been refused telephones to be put on the “ Party-Line System.” In regulation 10, paragraph 5, it is set out that -
Selective and lock-out party line services will be provided only where the complete service of fine and instruments is installed and maintained by the Postmaster-General, and where suitable switchboards have been installed.
In paragraph 6 it is stated that -
Code-ringing party line services will be provided on other exchanges and on lines in country districts erected under regulations part XV.
The Postmaster-General informs me that -
Regulation 10, dealing with party lines, distinguishes between selective and lock-out party line services, which are the best party line services in the world at the present date, and coderinging party line services which are in general acceptance in many parts of the world. My honorable colleague further informs me that -
Selective and lock-out party line services cannot be provided except where special instruments and switchboards have been installed; while code-ringing parly line services cannot be provided on any exchange, even those in country districts, throughout Australia, without any alteration to the switchboard or to the instruments in the subscriber’s premises. This is clearly indicated in paragraphs 5 and 6 of regulation ro, and therefore the regulation did not offer more than could be provided.
I take it, therefore, that what my honorable colleague wishes to convey is that the statement that a party line service could not be installed in the particular instance, referred to a party line service on the selective or lock-out system until they bad all the appliances installed in order to give to intending subscribers the most up-to-date system, but in the meantime the coderinging service can be established either in the metropolis or in any other centre.
– At a higher price?
– I do not know about that.
Bill presented by Senator Col. Neild, and read a first time.
– I beg to lay upon the table, by command, the following papers : -
Minute by Sir John Forrest on the suggested Site for the Sent of Government of the Commonwealth at Canberra, near Queanbeyan, New South Wales.
Report by the Director of the Naval Forces on the Naval Defence of the Commonwealth of Australia for the year1906.
Report by the Military Board for the year 1 906.
If honorable senators have no objection I propose to move in one motion, instead of separately, that the three papers be printed.
-If it is the pleasure of the Senate a motion may be submitted in that way.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear.
– Then I move-
That the papers be printed.
– I confess to a little negligence in not following closely the Minister’s citation of the papers, but I desire to ask honorable senators to consider again whether we are going to adopt the practice of ordering every paper to be printed or whether it is to be referred to the Printing Committee for a report on that point. This question is bound to arise whenever a motion of this kind is submitted. I think that we should make an appearance of seriousness, and either abolish the Printing’ Committee or ask it to perform the work for which it was appointed.
– I have not the slightest objection to withdraw the motion. It was only in order to insure that honorable senators should have an opportunity of perusing the papers that I made the proposal.
– I think that they ought to be printed.
– The question is that the honorable senator have leave to withdraw his motion.
– I object.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Transfers under the Audit Act in connexion with Accounts of the Financial Years 1905-6 and 1906-7. Dated 5th July, 1907.
Treasury Regulations. - Amendments and Additions, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 40. Repeat and Amendment, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 41.
Defence Acts 1903-1904. - Financial and Allowance Regulations for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth - Amendment of Regulation 130, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 64. Amendment of Regulation206, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 65.’ Financial and Allowance Regulations for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth - Amendment of Regulation 69, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 66.
Documents in connexion with the Promotion of Messrs. Edward William Bramble, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, New South Wales, and Henry Barkeley Templeton, PostmasterGeneral’s Department, Central Staff.
Amendment of Public Service Regulation 104, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 71.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901. - General Postal Regulations. - Repeal of Regulation 1, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof ; and amendment of Telegraphic Regulations, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 62. Telephone Regulations. - Amendment of Regulation6, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 69. Amendment of Telegraphic Regulations, Post Office Express Delivery Service Regulations, and Telephone Regulations, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 81. Repeal of General Regulations, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 98. Telephone Regulations. - Repeal of Regulation 18, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 99. Amendment of Postal Regulations; Repeal of General Postal Regulations, and substitution of, new Regulations in lieu thereof ; and amendment of Parcels Post Regulation, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 106. Repeal of Commonwealth Electoral Papers Regulation, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 107. Telephone Regulations, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 114. Repeal of Telegraph Regulations, and substitution of new’ Regulation in lieu thereof, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 5. Repeal of Telegraphic Regulation, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 14. Postal Regulations. - Repeal of paragraph (4), and substitution of new paragraph in lieu thereof, Statutory Rules 1907, No.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– Arising out of the answer to the question, I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he is quite satisfied that the bond or guarantee will be paid?
– So far as the information to hand is concerned, the Government think it will. They have no reason to doubt it.
– I should like to ask the Minister if he can inform the Senate whether any steps have been taken to recover the amount presumably secured by the bond?
– From personal knowledge I cannot give that information. I should imagine that such steps have been taken if they are necessary, and I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Postmaster- General .
– Arising out of the same question, I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether there is any truth in the report that the sum of .£2,500 referred to was some time since refunded to the parties depositing it?
– I have heard nothing of the kind, and the answer I have given to Senator Walker’s questions does not bear out that report.
– Arising out of the question, I should like to ask whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council recollects that the Government, on a pre vious occasion, told the Senate that they were perfectly satisfied with the bond that was entered into?
– I am unable to say, of my personal knowledge, whether any representation of the kind was made.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Is he aware of any delay in the provision of caps or uniforms for cadets in any part of the State of South Australia?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Some delay has occurred through the caps having to be obtained from Queensland. The attention of the Commandant has been drawn to the matter, and it is hoped that there will be no further cause for complaint.
– Arising out of the answer to my question, I should like to ask the representative of the Minister of Defence whether, in the event of the clothes- becoming too small before the caps are supplied, the Government will refund the cost of the clothes to the parents of the cadets ?
– I do not think that Brisbane is so far distant from Adelaide that we need anticipate such a contingency.
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice - .
Seeing that the decision of the Supreme Court of South Australia showed that considerable f rauds have taken place in regard to the collection of Customs duties, what steps do the Government propose to take to reimburse the Commonwealth revenue in regard to such Customs duties ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
Claim has already been made for the amount of duty short paid, and all necessary steps will be taken to enforce it.
Motion (by Senator Col. Neild) agreed to-
That there be laid upon the table of the Senate copies of all Regulations made under the Defence Acts relating to military clothing.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That a return be prepared and laid on the table of the Senate showing, as to the clerical and professional branches of the Public Service : -
Bill presented by Senator Best, and read a first time.
Bill presented by Senator Best, and read a first time.
Bill presented by Senator Keating, and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 5th July (vide page 157), on motion by Senator Lt.-Col. Cameron -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to : -
To His Excellency the Governor-General.
May it please Your Excellency :
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I have no desire to take up the time of the Senate unduly in debating the Address-in-Reply. - We have been informed that such: a debate leads to nowhere in particular, and really takes up time which might be more usefully devoted to some other purpose.
– Who tells us that?
– The powerful organ which appears to be such a terror to most politicians in Victoria, though it would appear to have an opposite effect with Senator Findley. The Age has been lecturing us upon this matter for some time.
In the leading article in this morning’s issue is a renewal of the old whine in the same strain. The majority of honorablesenators will pay very little attention to the views of that newspaper as to the way in. which the business of Parliament should be conducted. That is a matter which we should bestknow ourselves, and we are not likely to take advice from a newspaper office in Collins-street on the subject.
– We are responsible to our constituents, and not to the Age.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. We are sent here to echo the voice of the people, arid not the voice of the Age.
– We advertise the ‘Age too much in this Chamber.
– I believe Senator Gray is correct in that statement, and that we advertise that newspaper for more than it is worth. At the same time, one cannot shut his eyes to the fact that it has criticised the conduct of the business of the Senate, and if in a similar criticism I used here the language which is often used in the columns of the Age, it is probable that the President would pull me up, and insist that I should withdraw my statement. However, as I, with some other honorable senators, have a record for last session of having remained silent during the whole of the session, I take advantage of the present opportunity to make a few observations on the AddressinReply, and I trust that other honorable senators will follow the same course, inorder that the Government may learn what is the voice of the public on the various matters touched upon in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, rather than that they should have to depend upon a public opinion which is manufactured sometimes by the daily press. The Government will thus be in a position to frame their policy, and the debate on the AddressinReply will be of very great importance indeed if it serves such a purpose, and the Government of the day recognises the statements made by honorable senators as voicing public opinion. I am not in the secrets of the Government, and do not know in what order they intend to submit their measures, but I hope that it will be in the reverse order to that in which they appear in the Governor-General’s Speech, because I notice that some of urgent importance are mentioned in the last paragraph. I do not think that I am at all unreasonable when I suggest that the Kalgoorlie to Port
Augusta Railway Survey Bill should be dealt with by the Senate at the very earliest opportunity, because of the way in which it has been buffeted about in previous sessions. It has never yet received the attention and fair play to which it is entitled. It is only fair to the people in Western Australia that an opportunity should be given for its consideration at an early period of the session. As there has been an alteration in the personnel of this Chamber, we ought to know exactly howwe stand about this question at the earliest possible opportunity. I have no wish to refer to what happened in the past. The most charitable attitude that I or any other honorable senator can take up about that matter is to be silent. I hope the Bill will be brought forward early, and that when a vote is taken it will be upon the merits of the Bill, without any resort to any of the tactics which every honorable senator must regret were practised when the question was last before the Senate. I will say no more until the measure is before us, except that it is a matter of very great importance to Western Australia. I do not wish honorable senators to regard what I am saying as in any degree a threat, because I know that honorable senators will not be coerced into any particular attitude by any words of mine or of any other individual senator. As honorable senators, however, may not know the feeling that prevails in Western Australia, which is so isolated that a great number of them may not be acquainted with public opinion there regarding Federation, I think it is my duty to warn them that the feeling of a very large section of the community in that State - I will not say the majority - is far from friendly towards Federation. There is no denying the fact that in Western Australia Federation is on its trial. For these and other reasons I hope that there will be no attempt to do other than treat this measure justly on its merits when it comes before us, and that the Government will introduce it at the earliest possible opportunity.
– We have always treated it justly.
– That is a very debatable point.
– Its merits were not sufficient.
– If its merits were not sufficient, it ought to have been defeated on its merits, without resort to the tactics that we know were practised. I have no desire to introduce any heat, but we cannot shut our eyes to the way the Bill was treated before. I hope an honest vote will be taken on it the next time it comes before us. Another very important matter to honorable senators, quite irrespective of what party they may belong to, is the great social reform question of old-age pensions. I do not want to drag that question into the arena of party politics. Its history, so far as Federal politics are concerned, shows that it has never yet been brought into that arena, and I hope that it never will. I trust that a measure to provide for old-age pensions will be placed before us by the Government at an early date, and that we shall have an opportunity to take the question right out of its present position by placing that measure on the statute-book. It is not a party question, notwithstanding the gibe thrown at the Labour Party by Senator McColl, who I see is absent to-day. I could have wished that the honorable senator was in his place, because I have a reference or two to make to him. He made a reference to the Labour Party that I think his better judgment would counsel him not to give expression to. He said the Labour Party was out for all that it could make. He went on to declare immediately afterwards that other parties, especially the one to which he belonged-
– Which party is that?
– That is somewhat of a riddle. The honorable senator, however, said that the party to which he belonged was out for the good of Australia as a whole. The inference consequently was that we, the Labour Party, were out grabbing, as it were, for our own particular hand. No one, however, who knows the history of the party with which Senator McColl has been connected, will say that they have ever beer: very far behind when it came to a question of political grab. I take it that the honorable senator belongs to the Protectionist Party, and no one can say that they have shown any great amount of unselfishness when it has come to be a question of seeking for political advantages from other sections of the community. The honorable senator’s charge is perhaps best met by quoting what happened a few days ago at a farmers’ conference held in “Victoria. The honorable senator attended its meetings and spoke, and every one of ‘the resolutions dealt with at the conference, as published in the daily press, embodied demands of more or less magnitude on the public purse for money for that particular section of the community.
– They were all Socialists on that occasion.
- Senator McColl repudiated that charge, which was made by Mr. Swinburne, the Minister of Agriculture for Victoria, who was present. That honorable gentleman said he had no doubt whatever, judging by the resolutions carried at that farmers’ conference, that the farmers were very pronounced Socialists. Senator McColl, who spoke immediately afterwards, repudiated any such leanings on the part of the farmers, and instead of claiming that the farmers were Socialists, the honorable senator thought he was making his position better when he said they were not asking for Socialism, but for paternalism. I have listened on many occasions to individualists dealing with the question of Socialism. They always seemed- to think that when they had hurled a charge of paternalism at Socialism they had thrown the hardest and biggest brick in their possession, yet here was Senator McColl actually admitting that it was paternalism and not Socialism that the farmers of Victoria asked for. One thing the honorable senator did not claim for it was that it was anti-Socialism. He did not claim that the farmers’ desire to get public money, as expressed at that Conference, had anything of the nature of anti-Socialism about’ it. What I am asking for on this occasion, the farmers and every other section of the community will get their due share of. There is nothing of a grab-all nature about it, and no section of the community will get more than they are entitled to at the expense of any other section. I can claim further that we shall not scramble amongst ourselves, nor claim that the action of the Government in bringing in a measure for old-age pensions is a concession to the Labour Party. We know the history of the old-age pensions question in the Federal Parliament, because we have been talking about it for the last six or seven years. We submitted it to a Royal Commission, who inquired and reported that the Commonwealth should establish an old-age pensions system as soon as possible, and that the funds to finance it should be taken from the Consolidated Revenue. As this matter has been talked of so long and so often, there is very little need for me to enlarge upon the arguments which have been placed before the Senate on several occasions to show that an old-age pensions scheme should be introduced as soon as possible. The Government propose to bring forward a Bounties Bill, which must of necessity mean the expenditure of a very large amount of public money that would be better devoted to public purposes if it was used for old-age pensions. That would give more general satisfaction than any Bounties Bill which could possibly be introduced, because, after all, the bounties would not be spread over the whole Commonwealth in anything like a general way. One or two little industries, or a few partsof the Commonwealth, would get the whole of the benefit from them, whereas every part of the Commonwealth would get its fair share of any money expended on oldage pensions. I hope, therefore, that, before the Government think of introducing a Bounties Bill, they’ will see their way to find money to finance an old-age pensions scheme. I recognise that the Braddon section of the Constitution as it stands now is an obstacle in the way of financing perhaps the whole of the old-age pensions from the Customs and Excise revenue. Under that section of the Constitution, we are permitted to retain only one-fourth of - the Customs and Excise revenue. I do riot think that amount would be sufficient to finance a proper old-age pensions scheme, which it has been calculated would require something over ,-£1,000,000 per year.
– Can it be done for -£1,000,000?
– I do not think it can. The calculations I have seen show that it would require considerably over -£1,000,000 per year.
– One million and a half.
– It will be remembered that in the last Parliament there was placed before us a Bill embodying an attempt to surmount the obstacle of the Braddon blot. It failed, however, to pass Parliament, and the result is that it will be some time before we can be afforded a similar opportunity to deal with the question from that stand-point. I supported that Bill, not that I was particularly enamoured of the proposal, for the fact that special duties had to be levied for the oldage pensions scheme was to my mind rather a drawback, but rather because I recognised it as an immediate method for the settlement of the question.
– Was not there a better method?
– I dare say there are numbers of better methods, but that was one we could have applied at once. I took the opportunity of supporting the Bill for that reason, and not because I was particularly in love with the proposal to impose special duties for old-age pensions. That proposal having failed, and as we shall not have another opportunity of altering the Constitution for nearly three years, I shall not be content to wait that time before we do anything towards the settlement of the old-age pensions question. I therefore hope the Government, when the Budget is presented, will be able to propose a means by which we can secure sufficient money to finance old-age pensions. I do not know whether honorable senators are quite aware of the fact that we have been paying back to the States a great deal of money out of the one-fourth of Customs and Excise revenue that we could have retained. I was surprised when, in conversation with one of the officers of the Treasury, I was told that in the six and a half years during which the Commonwealth has been in existence, the Federal Government has paid away to the States something like five millions and three-quarters that it could have retained. That information came as a surprise to me, because I did not think that we were paying more than half-a-million a year out of the one-fourth that we are by the Constitution permitted to spend. But the extra sum that we pay amounts to nearly a million a year. If those figures are accurate - and I take it that the gentleman who supplied them to me is in a position to give correct information on the subject; I have no reason to doubt their accuracy - they show that we have not to search very far for such a sum as we require in order to pay old-age pensions. We do not need a great deal over a million pounds per annum for that purpose. As we are paying out of our one-fourth very nearly one million pounds more than we are called upon to pay, we require something like a quarter of a million more to finance an old-age pension scheme. I am aware that Senator Walker made the suggestion to the Senate on one occasion that, even under the Braddon blot section of the Constitution, as in operation at the present time, sufficient money could be secured for old-age pensions purposes if the States showed a rea sonable frame of mind in dealing with the Commonwealth Government. If the States were prepared to hand1 back to us the amount that would be spent on their account on old-age pensions, it would be an easy matter to settle the difficulty. New South Wales and Victoria have their own old-age pensions systems ; and those States which have not old-age pensions systems have charitable institutions, which have to be maintained out of the public funds. It is therefore evident that a considerable amount of relief would be afforded to the States by the establishment of a Federal old-age pensions system. New South Wales is paying away £500,000 a year, and Victoria ,£300,000. Those great loads would be lifted from the shoulders of those States if they were agreeable to work with us- in this matter. But, judging from the confusion exhibited at the Premiers’ Conference, it is almost hopeless to expect to arrange anything practical with the States Premiers. Almost every resolution passed at those Conferences has been arrived at after an exhibition in which each State has been shown to T5e pulling against every other State. We are sometimes inclined to think that there are too many parties in the Federal Parliament. But here we have only three parties. If Federal politicians were in the same frame of mind or were constituted in the same way as the States Premiers, I think that, instead of having only three parties in the Federal Parliament, every member of it would be a party unto himself. This, however, I do say, that it is a duty placed upon the shoulders of the Federal Parliament by the Constitution to establish an old-age pensions system. We have had a Royal Commission inquiring into the subject, and it has recommended that the financial burden should be borne out of the Consolidated Revenue. It is the duty of this Parliament to legislate on the question, and not to wait for the States Premiers to make recommendations. We all admit that taxation is not a pleasant thing. None of us like it. We are more inclined to look upon it as an evil. But taxation is one of those things that are necessary to carry on the functions of Government. At the present time we are collecting as much mons through Customs and Excise as it is possible for us to collect. I do not think that it is possible for us to obtain a. larger sum than our present Tariff is bringing in. The pressure of taxation levied in this manner falls principally upon the poorer people of the Commonwealth. It is a load that every working man has to bear. The poorest man is taxed as heavily as the richest. It would, be a shame on our part to make that load any greater than it is now. Personally I am totally opposed to increasing the indirect taxation imposed through Customs and Excise. Instead, I would adopt a method of direct taxation ; and for that purpose I know of no better scheme than that which has been placed before the country by the Labour Party. I refer to the progressive land values tax proposals which our party advocated at the last election. I have been told that a progressive land values tax would bring in a very small sum, because the result of it would be to break up large estates, and consequently to decrease the revenue from that source. I have no doubt that such a tax would have the effect of breaking up large estates, but it can hardly be expected that it would do so all at once. I consider that it would bring in quite sufficient money for the purposes of old-age pensions, and would at the same time be beneficial in decreasing the size of estates.
– How much would it bring in ?
– It has been calculated that it would bring in something like ^500,000 a year. That is only an estimate of course. The results are problematical. The tax would have to be put into practice before we could form a reliable opinion.
– If it would have the effect that is calculated of breaking up large estates, it would not bring in the revenue anticipated.
– I think it would bring in all the revenue that we require j and even if it did not, it would have the effect of doing good, and of bringing about prosperity in the country in other directions. One of the greatest curses of Australia - and in fact of any country - is the aggregation of land in large estates. Some of the best lands in Australia at the present time are monopolized in that way. Almost every State in the Union suffers from the evil. There are such companies as the Australian Agricultural Company of New South Wales, The Peel River Land Company and the Van Dieman’ s Land Company of Tasmania, which holds an enormous territory in that State. Although Tasmania is, comparatively speaking, a small island, this one company holds an area of 280,000 acres of the richest land in the State.
– A lot of its land is very bad.
– I have seen some of it. The very best country that I saw while I was over in Tasmania belonged to the Van Dieman’s Land Company. It certainly has very large holdings, and is making very poor use of its land.
– There, are individuals in New South Wales and Queensland holding three times as much land as that company.
– That only strengthens my argument. We have a great deal of land locked up in all the States. In New South Wales there are 722 men owning on an average 31,000 acres each. That is altogether too much land for those people to utilize profitably to the country. In South Australia a very great deal of land is held in a similar manner. There are 304 men in that State holding on the average 12,000 acres each. For the life of me I cannot see how we are going to make the people who hold these large estates pay their fair share of the taxation of the country, unless we apply the progressive land values tax policy of the Labour Party. The value of these estates has been greatly increased by the expenditure of public money in building roads and railways, and in other directions, as well as by the growth of population. None of that increased value comes to the Government of the country. No man can possibly defend that sort of thing ; and seeing that we have no direct taxation, I trust that the Government will in the near future see its way to adopt the progressive land values tax proposition of the Labour Party. I am sorry that Senator St. Ledger is absent from his place, because I desire to make one or two remarks in reply to statements by him. If, however, he chooses to be absent when a reply to him is made, it is, of course, his own look-out. I could not help remarking that the two speeches delivered by Senator St. Ledger during the short time that he has been a member of the Senate were marked by a great deal of spite towards the Labour Party. “ Spite “ is the only word I can possibly apply to his attacks. His remarks concerning the Labour Party consisted of jibes and sneers. He seemed to begrudge the party the name under which it has been sailing for the fifteen years during which it has been in existence, and said that iri future he intended to refer to it as the Socialist Party. Personally I have no objection whatever to Senator St. Ledger or any other .person calling me a Socialist, because I have prided myself on that name for many years past. I have never lost an opportunity in public of making it known that I am a Socialist. I should not like to say, however, that every member of the Labour Party would “subscribe to the Socialism in which I believe. They are not, perhaps, quite so extreme on the question as I am. We know that there are degrees of Socialism. I am quite prepared to take full responsibility for the views I hold. I do not wish to embarrass or place any responsibility on others for holding those views. Knowing the confusion of thought which prevails as to what is meant by Socialism, I have not the slightest objection to being called . a Socialist, but I certainly do object to what our political opponents very often call Socialism. I object, for instance, to whatthe Treasurer has time and again, in Western Australia, called Socialism. I have heard him make several speeches, and I have had occasion to correct every reference he has made to Socialism. I have not yet heard him give anything like an accurate definition of the Socialism which is held by the Labour Party. I have heard all kinds of ridiculous bogies held up. I have heard all kinds of silly things mentioned as socialistic, but that honorable gentleman, and many persons of his way of thinking, have never, in my hearing, clearly or honestly defined the Socialism of the Labour Party.
– Could the honorable senator do so?
– I would try to give a definition.
– That is a very difficult task.
– I should not hope to please the honorable senator, but I am quite prepared, if the occasion should arise, to define what I mean by Socialism.
– Let the honorable senator define what the anti-Socialists are against.
– That definition would not be sufficient, because the antiSocialist is in favour of all the Socialism which, he can possibly obtain for himself, but, apparently, is not so anxious to ex tend it to other sections of the community. The Socialism I have heard Sir John Forrest seriously define is that sentimental kind which we read of in books such as Sir Thos. More’s Utopia, Plato’s Republic, Bellamy’s Looking Backward, and like literature. I have not yet heard Sir John Forrest refer to the scientific modem Socialism which I and other members of the Labour Party hold ought to be practised in State affairs. I have not yet heard of any of those gentlemen making an effort to understand it. When we consider that that kind of Socialism is so generally known to the working classes, and its literature is tq be found almost everywhere, there is no excuse for those gentlemen being ignorant as to its tenets. When I hear a man of Sir John Forrest’s standing constantly repeating a statement which has as often been contradicted, I wonder if our political opponents desire to understand the Socialism of the Labour Party. However, Senator St. Ledger seems to be one of those anti-Socialists whose ideas are confused. But I can assure him and other opponents of the Labour Party that if they desire to understand our views on the subject, they ought to make an honest effort to understand our case. If the honorable senator desires to have a grip of a political question, it is his duty not only to know his own side in politics, but also to try to understand his opponent’s case. Whether he refers to the Labour Party as Socialists or not, I think it will not matter a great deal’. Because, after all is said and done, names do not count for very much. It is the substance which we keep in view. To give an idea of the confusion which prevails in regard to names, I may mention, if it will be any consolation to Senator St. Ledger and others, that recently in Melbourne there was a gathering at which a few ardent spirits connected with the Socialist movement met, and, in an ex cathedra way, declared that the Labour Party were non-socialistic. Whilst we have that declaration on the part of the “ pure merino “ Socialists, we have Senator St. Ledger declaring that the Labour Party is not entitled to the use of the word “Labour.” It looks as if between the “pure merino” Socialists and the honorable senator, the Labour Party will be without a name.
– “ Caucus Party” is the proper name.
– If ours were the only party which held a caucus I should be quite willing to accept that name as readily as any other, but we find that the Opposition Party hold caucuses as well as the Labour Party. As a matter of fact, the Opposition held a caucus to-day, and Mr. G. H. Reid was in the chair. If there is any fault to be found with holding a caucus meeting, then the Opposition Party is just as much entitled to be called “ Caucus Party “ as is the Labour Party. I should like to know from the colleagues of Senator St. Ledger, seeing that he is absent from the Chamber, what is the name of the Opposition Party here?
– Caucus No. 1.
– I have heard so many names given to the Opposition party that I am really at a loss to find a name for them.
– I thought that the honorable senator said just now that there was not anything in a name.
– There is not a great deal in a name, but I am prepared to show that there is very little in a name so far as the Opposition are concerned. At every Federal election in Western Australia we have had the Opposition Party” sailing under a fresh name.
– They are progressive.
– Certainly the Opposition are ingenious in finding a new name if they cannot find a new policy. I have known them to appeal to the electors under various names. At one time we heard of them as a free-trade party.’
– We are proud of it.
– At the same time, the Opposition includes protectionists who, I suppose, would prefer to call themselves members of the Protectionist Party. In Western Australia we have heard the Opposition Party called the Western Australian Party, whatever that may mean. We have also heard them called the Liberal Party, the Tory Party, the anti-Socialist Party, the Employers’ Federation Party, the National Association Pa’rty.
– The National Ass. Party.
– I think that the National Ass. Party is the best name they have ever had, and it is likely to stick to them. Seeing that Senator St. Ledger has expressed his intention to always refer to the Labour Party here as the Socialist Party, I may take the liberty of referring to him as the champion of the National Ass. in the Senate, so that if names mean anything, we shall know exactly where we are, and each will be able to find a name for the other.
– He does not belong to a party very long.
– I am afraid that he is not the only one who is fond of changing.
– We cannot take him seriously.
-I never take Senator St. Ledger seriously, because I know that at every election he is found under another name. But though the Opposition Party may change their name, they do not often change their principles. It is the same old National Ass. bray every time. Its members may get a fresh name to sail under, but as soon as they bray we know at once where we are’, and who are howling. The Labour Party . has had no occasion to change their name. We have rejoiced under that name for fifteen years or more, and we have no intention to change it. There is no necessity for the Labour Party to follow the example of other parties. I desire to make only one more reference to Senator St. Ledger. That barracker for the Employers Federation worked himself into an awful rage when he was referring to the immigration question. He said that the indignation which was seething in his bosom- was so great that he could not give expression to his feelings and at the same time observe the Standing Orders. He may have been in a terrible passion, but I do not know that he had any reason for being excited. He referred to the statement of Mr. W. M. Hughes in the old country that there was not room in Australia for artisans. I take the responsibility of saying that it was perfectly accurate.
– I am quite prepared to prove that during the last twenty or thirty years, to my knowledge, that statement has been made over and over again.
– And all over the world, too.
– To my knowledge, for the last twenty or thirty years, the Immigration Office in London has been sending out that statement. They have always declared that as regards skilled labour the market in Australia was sufficiently stocked, and that there was no room for artisans there. Mr. Hughes only gave expression to a fact which has been mentioned over and over again by persons in London, by the Agents-General, and by the Immigration Office which is established in connexion with the Board of Trade. In fact, it is so hackneyed that I was surprised that even Senator St. Ledger should challenge its accuracy here.
– At different times instructions have been sent from several States to their Agents-General not to send out artisans as immigrants. »
– That is quite true. Only the other day there appeared in the local press a letter in which the secretary to the Boilermakers’ Union in Melbourne pointed out that there was no necessity to bring artisans to Australia. He stated that some boilermakers had come from the old country recently, and that they had gone to the Trade and Labour Council in Sydney with the complaint that they had been supplied with false information at Home.
– Have not those statements been made in America and Canada for many years?
Senator-DE LARGIE.- I know nothing of the statements made in the United States and Canada. It is sufficient for me that I should know what is happening in connexion with the country in which I am living. I know that immigrants made these complaints to the Sydney Trade and Labour Council, and said they had been supplied with information to the effect that there were large ship-building yards in Newcastle and in Sydney, and yet when they arrived in this country they found that they could not secure employment. In the face of these facts, how can any honorable senator profess to be indignant when he learns that information is supplied to artisans in the old country as to the true state of affairs existing in Australia ? This information has been supplied over an’d over again in London by responsible officials of the various States Governments, and it cannot be contradicted.
– Mechanics are special Iv barred from getting assisted passages.
– That is true; the only immigrants who will be assisted are those who are coming to Australia to go on to the land. I do not know why Senator St. Ledger, or any other senator coming from Queensland, should be ignorant of the true state of affairs. It is not a very long time ago since a Federal parliamentary party visited Queensland.
When at Maryborough they were shown through one of the largest iron foundries in the State, that of Walker’s Limited. We saw there very large works supplied with up-to-date modern machinery, and yet the cry of the manager of the works was that he had no trade, and that the machinery was lying idle. That was the state of affairs only a short time ago in the State from which Senator St. Ledger comes. In the same town of Maryborough we visited a saw-mills and sash and door factory, the proprietor of which explained that he was very busy. He admitted that Federation had done a great deal for his industry, because he had the raw material for the making of window sashes and doors at hand, and the breaking down of the Tariff barriers between the various States enabled him to do a big trade with the cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Here we found an industry which, to all appearance, was in a flourishing condition, and what was the state of affairs as regards the wages paid, and conditions of the workers in that industry ? I made some inquiries amongst the men I found working there. I questioned one of the most likely labourers I found working in the yard, and he informed me that he was receiving the highest wages paid to men working there. Honorable senators will be surprised to learn that this man was paid the handsome wage of 5s. per day ! I questioned some of those working inside the factory, and I found, amongst others, a boy working at finishing off window sashes and receiving a wage of 6s. per week. ^Senator Lynch. - Where was this; in Scotland ?
– In Maryborough, Queensland, and only a fewmonths ago. We noticed that one of ‘the machines in use, a joint mortising machine, was doing very neat work, to which the manager of the place directed our attention with great pride. I questioned the man in charge of this machine, and he informed me that he was receiving a wage of r 6s. per week. Here, in a flourishing industry, wages were being paid at the rate of 16s. per week to a man attending an. important machine, and 5s. per day to a “ topnotcher “ amongst the labouring men. This was in the State from which Senator St. Ledger comes, and the honorable senator is evidently quite ignorant of it. In spite of these facts, the honorable senator says that the Standing Orders do not permit him- to adequately , express his indignation as to the statements made by Mr. Hughes that there is no room for additional artisans in Australia. That information is only what has been supplied to the people of the old country for the last twenty or thirty years by Agents-Generals and those in charge of immigration offices, and it is perfectly correct. If Senator St. Ledger desires further information on this question I am in a position to supply him with no end of it, because the State which he represents is not the only State in the Commonwealth about which such information can be given. I notice Senator Cameron smiling, and for his benefit I shall read something concerning the state of affairs in Tasmania. A Royal Commission has quite recently inquired into the working conditions that obtain in that State, and, bad as I have shown they are in Queensland, they are worse in Tasmania. I find from the report of the Commission, which was published no later than the 16th May of this year, that in almost every branch of industry in the tight little island State a condition of sweating obtains that is scarcely creditable in a new country. The report is very lengthy, and I shall not attempt to read the whole of it, but I shall direct the attention of honorable senators to some short paragraphs referring to a few industries that will give some idea of the state of affairs existing in Tasmania. Referring to the wages of bakers - this is the finding of the Commission -
We find that wages paid to bakers are generally low. We are guided to the conclusion that the hours worked are long and unnecessary by the evidence of two leading master bakers.
That is in the two cities of Launceston and Hobart. The next industry referred to in the report of the Commission is that of the bootmakers, and they report that -
In the bootmaking trade, we find that rates of payment made to several of those employed are very low.
– The honorable senator must be aware that a great many bootmakers were thrown out of employment as the result of Federation.
– I propose to quote the wages paid when bootmakers are in employment. I am not quoting their wages when they are idle. These are the wages paid when they are fully employed -
Finisher, with eight years’ experience, receiving only 22s. 6d. per week ; whilst bootmaker engaged on children’s boots received 24s. 6d. per week ; putter-up, nine years’ experience, 30s. ger week ; bootmaker, twelve years at the trade, 32s. 6d. ; another, thirteen years at the trade, 29s. ; packer, 28 years of age, received 22s. 6d. per week.
– Is not that because of competition with Melbourne and Sydney?
– Yes, most of the small factories had to close.
-Col. Cameron. - They had too much Federation.
– Honorable senators will see how fast these men are likely to become millionaires. Dealing with ‘those employed in the brick kilns, the Commission reports: -
The hours worked by some brick burners at Hobart are inordinately long, and, in our opinion, there can be no justification for exacting from 77 to 91 hours’ service during alternative weeks of seven days from those so engaged, whose wages (£2 4s.) are not in proportion totheir long week’s work. The wages paid tobrickyard labourers, 7½d. to 8d. per hour, would, according to the regulation working hours of the establishments, of 48 and 4o£, realize 30s. to 32s. per week, which we consider a low wage for laborious work.
Under the heading of “ Corporation Employes,” this is what the Commission” says -
The industrial condition and rates of pay to the employes working under the Hobart City Council were investigated, and it was found” that the wages paid were : - Carpenters, 7s. gd. -y plumbers, 7s.. to Ss. 3d. ; boy, 3s. 6d. ; caretakers, &c, 5s. 6d. to 8s. ; sundry occupations,. 6s. to 6s. 8d. ; labourers, 5s. to 6s. gd. per day - clerks, ^45 to £110 per annum; and messenger. £3° per annum. The cartage done for the Corporation is let out by contract at 6s. 6d. and 7s. 6d. per day for man, horse, and cart.
Just fancy a wage like that for man, horse, and cart.
– Men could not live at: that wage.
-Col. Cameron. - I wish I could find them.
– Under the heading “ Engineering arid Iron and Brass Founders “ the Commission reports asfollows : -
Three classes of engineering establishments were inspected. At the first place, where general engineering and iron foundry work is carried on, the wages paid ranged from 6s. to 16s. per week for engineer and foundry apprentices ; draftsmen, 8s. ; coremakers, 7s. ; fitters, 6s. per day ; labourers, 30s. ; and blacksmiths,. 32s. a week.
I might inform honorable senators that the coremaker’s work is about the most skilled work in connexion with the iron moulders’ trade, and a wage of 7s. per day for such work is about as low as any I have ever heard of. Coremakers in the old country could get that wage almost at any time.
Really, the rates of pay are so ridiculously small that one can scarcely credit the fact that such a state .of affairs obtains in any part of Australia.
– It is so incredible that I doubt it.
– I do not doubt the statements made, but I think the low wages are in a measure due to the effects of Federation.
– The Commission deals with various trades, and, referring to painters, paper-hangers, and glaziers, says -
Those who follow the avocation of painters combine also the business of paperhangers and glaziers, and the wages paid to journeymen range from 7s. to 8s. per day ; improvers, 4s. to 5s. a day ; apprentices, 4s. to 5s. a week ; glaziers, 6s. a day.
We find that rates of wages prevailing in this trade are insufficient remuneration to competent tradesmen, considering the skill required and the character and responsibility attaching . to their particular calling.
– Does “the honorable senator next propose to read something from the evidence given at the inquiry into the wages of shop-assistants in Sydney, of the starch workers in Melbourne, and of other workers in Western Australia?
- Senator Mulcahy i’s very much mistaken if he thinks that I have given this information with a view to discredit Tasmania. The fact that there are starch workers in Melbourne working for 30s. a week and less, and tobacco workers receiving 31s. a week, is even more discreditable than the evidence as to wages coming from Tasmania. I have read from the report of the Royal Commission appointed in Tasmania with no idea of discrediting that State by comparing it unfavorably with other States, but in order to exhibit the condition of affairs exposed by inquiry. I have said that the report has only quite recently been issued, and it is possible that this is the first that some honorable senators have heard of it. I have quoted from it as from a recent document issued with authority, and for the purpose of showing that there is certainly no room in Australia for additional artisans, unless it is intended that they should engage in a scramble for work with the unfortunate fellows who are working for the very low wages to which I have just referred.
– The individualist is always in favour of having a reservoir of cheap labour on which he can draw.
– - Evidently the whole desire of some people here, who are highly indignant at these statements being made in the old country, is to secure the importation into this country of as much cheap labour as they possibly can. They are evidently sent here for that purpose. They want to see the labour market flooded with ali the cheap labour they can possibly get. We have agents sent to Europe to scour the Continent for immigrants to work in the tropics at the miserable wage of 22s. 6d. or 25s. a week. That is the kind of labour that men of that stamp glory in. When they cannot get cheap kanakas to sweat or rob of the just reward of their labour, they want all the cheap white labour they can possibly get hold of. That is the reason of the indignation that Senator St. Ledger wanted to express.
– The Government the honorable member supported fixed the rates.
– Yes, on the misrepresentations of the honorable senator who interjects, and others like him.
– The honorable senator is not in order in stating that another honorable senator has made misrepresentations. I call upon him to withdraw the statement.
– In accordance with the Standing Orders I withdraw the statement. I shall take another opportunity of saying it in a way that will be in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– Order !
– I have quoted enough to satisfy any one that the rates of wages that obtain at present in Australia are not sufficient to induce artisans to come from the other side of the world. I desire to say a few words in conclusion about the Imperial Conference held recently in London. Although we may not be in accord with all the resolutions carried at the Conference, there can be no gainsaying the fact that gatherings’ of this kind will undoubtedly do much good in fostering a friendly feeling between the component parts of the Empire. Although the Conference failed perhaps to do all that was attempted, yet, seeing the contentious nature of the questions brought before it, as much as we could reasonably expect was achieved by it. Knowing how difficult it is to get men to agree on the fiscal question, we cannot wonder that the Imperial Government disapproved of the attempt that was made to bring that question forward at the Conference. I, who know something of the old country, having lived longer there than I have yet lived in Australia, know what it means to the people of the old country to raise the fiscal question, if by raising it you interfere with the cost of the food of the workers there. We know that preference means interfering with the cost of the workers’ food in the old country, and notwithstanding the fact that I am an out-and-out protectionist in Australia, if I were in the old country I should undoubtedly be on the side of the Labour Party in the stand they are taking on this question against any interference with the cost of the food of the people.
– The honorable senator will reform here yet.
– The honorable senator must .not take it for granted that I am weakening in any degree in my belief in protection for this country. I see the necessity for a different fiscal principle in a new country from what is needed at Home. If I were in the old country tomorrow the probabilities are that I should be found fighting on the side of the freetraders there quite as strongly as I am fighting here on the side of the protectionists. I recognise no great fundamental principle underlying the fiscal question that would compel me in the old country to differ from the majority of the working men there. The question of what kind of fiscal policy suits a country depends greatly on the state of development that country has reached in its industrial affairs. Whilst in some particular lines in the old country the people may have retained free-trade too long, I firmly believe, speaking general tv that free-trade is the policy best suited for that country. I am quite as confident that protection is the right policy for this country; but I do not wish to anticipate the debate that will take place this session on the Tariff by putting forward my arguments on this occasion. Honorable senators will then find that I am just as strong a protectionist for Australia, as I might be a free-trader if I were in the old country. We must admit that the food question is a very important one to the people of the old country, and seeing that the present Imperial Government took office on the strength of the victory they secured at the polls after contesting the elections as a free-trade party, and obtaining a very large majority on that principle, we in Australia could not reasonably expect them to agree to any preferential scheme that we might place before them so soon after they took office.
– We have no right to interfere with their policy at all.
– I do not know whether we have any right to interfere or not, but if Conferences of that kind are to be of any use to the Empire as a whole, it was right and proper that the question should be discussed. If there is anything that we can agree to, and if we can fix our Tariff so as to give a preference to the old country without doing ourselves an injury, I am quite prepared to consider any scheme of the kind.
– Nobody has ever yet stated what preference he would give.
– That is quite true. There is a great deal of ambiguity as to what preference means in the minds of any of us. Nobody has yet detailed’ anything like a workable scheme of preference in Australia, and we cannot wonder, therefore, at the people in the old country refusing to consider the question of preference if it means taxing their food. When we remember the statement made by the present Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, not long ago, during the time when the fiscal question was agitating the people of the old country, to the effect that there were twelve millions of people in the United Kingdom - I am not sure that he did not say England - who were constantly on the verge of starvation, can we wonder at any Imperial Government hesitating before they agree to interfere with the food supplies of the population? I can assure honorable senators, as one who has lived in the old country iri’ the midst of a large industrial district, that the food of the people is so very scarce, and the struggle for life so intense, that we cannot possibly realize the position. I was therefore not at all surprised when Mr. Winston Churchill used the phrase about having banged, barred, and bolted the door against any proposal for taxing the food of the people of Great Britain.
– It is not much of a credential to free-trade to have twelve million people on the verge of starvation.
– I quite agree that such a state of things is no great credit to any country, but I question whether, if the old country adopted protection as a policy, there would be any improvement, or, in fact, whether any alteration in the fiscal policy! would make things very much worse either. There is a very large mass of people there in a bad way, and any policy that will increase the cost of the food of the people will meet with the opposition of the Labour Party at Home, who are best able to judge. They are decidedly opposed to it, and I am quite prepared to act on their advice, knowing as I do something of the history of the old country and of the workers in it. Senator St. Ledger, when he said that never since Waterloo had the magnificence of Great Britain been so great as it was at present, must have known very little indeed of the old country. I do not know, whether the honorable senator has lived there or knows much about it, but to talk of a country being magnificent and glorious when it contains 12,000,000 starving people is to boast of a kind of magnificence that we ought all to deplore, instead of shouting it from the housetops. I shall be quite prepared, when the question of preferential trade comes before us, to consider any tangible proposal on its merits, and if I can assist the people of the old country by giving them a preference as against the rest of the world, I shall be willing also to consider a proposal in that direction.
– I was rather struck by a remark of Senator Lynch that politics, after all, had not so much to do with the prosperity of the country as was supposed; that if we had good prices for our wool and other produce, and if Providence granted us bountiful rains, we had little to fear. I thoroughly indorse that opinion. I am not one of those who deal in political polemics. I could not possibly make such speeches as I have heard here on the subject either of Socialism or anti-Socialism. I propose now merely to touch on one or two matters which occur to me as being of great importance, purely from a business point of view, to Australia generally and more especially to Queensland!. Senator Lynch drew attention to the absurd statements made about immigration, and I was glad to hear him deny the allegation, which is frequently circulated, that the Labour Party are opposed to immigration. The honorable senator said they were not opposed to it, so long as it was suitable immigration. Many of us who sit on this side of the Chamber would be g-lad to know what the suitable immigration is to which thev will agree. We have heard it clearly stated that there is no more room for artisans.- I believe that statement is correct. During the recent election campaign, when referring to the question of immigration, I mentioned myself on more than one occasion that I was not in favour of increasing the number of artisans brought out to this country. Then we are told that there is no room for miners. I have seen that statement made several times. I am not a mining man, and I am not prepared to say that there is room for more miners ; but I notice that Mr. Maxwell, a member of the Queensland Labour Party, stated the other day that up at Etheridge they were short of miners.
– He need only come to Victoria, where miners are working on tribute and earning only 20s. a week.
– It might be said at any rate that we should get farmers out - men who will settle on the land. The reply to that suggestion always is that there is no land for them to settle on-, because it is all locked up, and that we require a progressive land values tax to burst up the bigestates.
– The farmers in South Australia cannot find land for their sons.
– I am not prepared to say what obtains in South Australia, but both Queensland and New South Wales have compulsory repurchase Acts. Certain areas of land in Queensland were offered for sale in London, and there was not a single bid for them there. As fast as people can be settled on the land, they are being settled .in Queensland. Then comes the question of the importation of more labour - what I may call ordinary labour. ‘ We have heard it stated in various instances that labour is very poorly paid. Senator Needham took occasion to refer to the wages offered in connexion with the sugar industry as being 22s. 6d. per week with a small addition in the way of rations. I will deal with that later on ; but according to a report bv Mr. Whitehead, of the Labour Bureau in Victoria, the minimum wage for farm labour in this State is from 15s. per week up to 20s.
– Sometimes 25s.
– Whereas’ ‘ in connexion with the sugar industry the minimum wage is -22s. 6d., and in many places as much as 37s. 6d. is paid for ordinary field labour, apart from rations and housing. The farmers themselves are in many cases perfectly willing to pay a man an extra 10s. if he will find himself.
– For how much work a vear?
– The work generally lasts fully six months of the year, and the men are better off than are those working in the shearing sheds. When I was over in Tasmania a short time ago - last April, I think, while the hop-picking was on - I was told in conversation by some people interested in that industry that they had not sufficient labour to pick their hops as quickly as the work should be done, and that consequently a certain amount of deterioration was taking place in the crops. The Sugar Workers’ Union at Mackay, Queensland, wrote to the Trades Hall Council, Adelaide, and asked them if they could supply labour to go up to Queensland; and I have it on the authority of a member of the executive of that body that they were obliged to reply, stating that there was no labour available. So far as the condition of the labour market in South Australia is concerned, an honorable member of another place informs me that there is not a man in his State who need be unemployed at the present moment if he chooses to > -work. It will be remembered that last April the Commonwealth Government was approached with a view to giving permission to import men from the old country, and as a consequence the names of a large number of unemployed in Melbourne were collected, and steps were taken through the local Labour Bureau to see if they were suitable to go to Queensland.
– Not at that time.
– In a letter -which Senator Givens wrote to the Argus, be informed those men that there was no
Toom for labour in Queensland at that time, and would not be for some months after. He was perfectly correct in that statement. The unemployed were informed that they were not then wanted ; and if they were misled the blame for it must be put on the shoulders of the gentlemen who collected the names, and told them that there was work to be had. The number of names collected was 517,. of -whom 247 responded to the request of the Labour Bureau to have their credentials inquired into in order to see whether they were fit to go. I take it that if Senator Givens had not warned them, others would probably have gone also; but of the 247 only 89 turned out to be willing and suitable to go and carry on the work in the sugar districts. Had all the men been questioned in the same way, and a similar proportion had agreed to go, and had proved suitable, there would have been 187 men in that class; and we may reasonably assume that- the men who did go to the bureau, and who would, if they had got a job, have gone to Queensland, were picked men, and certainly not the worst of the total number.
– Is the honorable senator aware that a large proportion of the men registered were never asked whether they were willing to go or not?
– I am taking the official statement made by Mr. Whitehead. That statement goes further, and says that a number of those men were offered work in Victoria, which some of them accepted, while others declined it. What is more than that, Mr. Whitehead draws attention to the fact that there were a lot of jobs going on in Victoria - mentioning a list of them - for which at that time the (persons interested were unable to get sufficient labour. Mr. Bent, Premier of Victoria, was asked at the same time whether he would pay the passages of any of those men to Queensland, and he made the significant statement that Victoria was quite willing to find all the work necessary for her own unemployed, and that it was unnecessary for them to go out of the State. Turning to New South Wales, I find that Mr. Carruthers, the Premier of that State, speaking at the annual meeting of the Liberal and Reform League last April or May, made the following statement, which I have not yet seen refuted : -
There was now a scarcity of labour, and there was room for 10,000 more labourers, and labour could be found for all of them. During the harvesting, women and children were working in the fields. There was an inadequacy of labourers for the work to be done, and fresh works had not been started because labour could not be secured. At Kosciusko recently 300 men were wanted for road work, and only 60 were available. They were trying to get them in Sydney, but he did not know whether they would succeed or not. The country was wanting population, and the Government was doing what it could by the encouragement of immigration to secure it.
As bearing out that statement, I have an official letter from the Labour Bureau, Sydney. I and others, acting on behalf of people in Northern Queensland, who were wanting labour,., made inquiries in Sydney regarding the unemployed there. There were 530 men on the books of the
Bureau, in addition to whom there were forty-nine more who made application in response to announcements made in the newspapers. Of the total of 579 men who were communicated with, 312 made no reply, in refused to go, and 87 were found to be suitable and willing to go to Queensland. In commenting upon this result, Mr. Schey, of the Labour Bureau, writing to Mr. L. C. Horton, President of the Johnstone River Sugar Planters’ Association, said -
I think there is but a very small chance of the North Queensland sugar planters obtaining from this State any considerable supply of labour for the cane fields.
Later on he said -
As to the reasons why suitable labour is unlikely to be obtained, they may be condensed into this. Men, able and willing to do what is required of them in North Queensland, can, without leaving this State, readily obtain better conditions, shorter hours, equal, and in many cases better, pay than the planters offer them. There is at present no surplus first grade labour, but a shortage. During the recent harvest, no one in the wheat districts could obtain enough labour, although, 6s. and even 7s. per day, and all found, was paid to efficient men. And such has been the case during the last three seasons. Government railway contractors and private concerns are at present unable to obtain sufficient first grade labour, although they pay 7s., and in some cases more, per day of eight hours.
I read those extracts as bearing out the statement made by Mr. Carruthers to some extent. I also take it that, as the information comes from official sources, it cannot be expected to be characterized by any particular desire to serve the purposes of Queensland or of the sugar planters. I come now to Queensland itself. The Queensland Government, some time ago, adopted the policy of introducing labour from Europe. The present Premier of Queensland was only recently a member of the Labour Party, and is a man who I feel certain still has some sympathy with them; and though he has absolutely refused to introduce any labour unless the people who want it put down £5 a head towards paying the passages of the labourers, still, the fact that he is” willing to do so much may be taken as proving that he is absolutely convinced of the necessity to bring out fresh labour. I think it may be taken that there is a shortage of labour in every State of Australia except Western Australia; and I contend that it is the duty of the Government to do something more than they have done in the past to induce people to come here to make up that shortage. It is of no use to encourage settlers to come and take up land in Australia if when they arrive they find that there is no labour to build homes for them and cultivate their soil. On the question of Naval Defence, I probably see eye, to eye with honorable senators opposite, rather than with many of those on my own side of the Chamber. But I am faced with the inevitable question - where is the money to come from? The question of penny postage has also been brought forward, and . probably we shall hear more of it in the course of the session. But, again, how is the expenditure to be borne? There are also the Federal Capital question and the question of taking over the Northern Territory and peopling it. A large amount of money will be required before that Territory cart be peopled. There is the question of oldage pensions, which will bring a large expenditure. Where is the money to come from? We have adopted the policy of a White Australia, and that policy itself compels us to take prompt steps to people the northern areas of this Continent. What opportunity have we to do so with our present rate of natural increase? According to Mr. Knibbs, the Federal Statistician, our natural rate of increase is something like fifteen per 1,000. That rate, as far asI can see, is higher than the natural rate of increase in any nation in the worldYet we find that it will take us fifty years, before our population will rise to the number of 8,000,000, and at least thirty years, before we shall have the same population as Canada has now. . If we are going to maintain our present rate of expenditure and place the whole of the burden on the shoulders of the few people we have in the country, our industries will break down under the weight. Our duty is to populate the country, and we cannot hope todo that with anything like our present rate of increase.
– Even if we are prepared to wait, it is possible that some hostile power will not allow us to do so.
– What does the Government propose to do? In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech there is the following paragraph : -
Though immigration to the Commonwealth isgenerally increasing, its growth is not in any degree commensurate with our needs or opportunities. The conditions under which it is proceeding call for serious consideration. The appointment of a Commonwealth High Commissioner, urgent on many grounds, will supply the necessary authority in the mother country.
That is delightfully vague; and I think it is a matter of regret that the Government did not see its way to define more accurately what it is proposed to do. Last year Parliament voted for the purposes of immigration £5,000. Canada is spending about £250,000 a year for that purpose. We find, however, that our Government did not spend the whole of the small vote granted to them: In the different States, there are certain immigration leagues, which, by means of pamphlets circulated locally and in the old country, are encouraging persons to come out on their own account and settle here. In some cases, the Government have given small grants to these bodies to enable them to carry on their mission. But when some days, if not weeks, before the 30th June, similar applications were made, the Government said, “ No.” The matter was not regarded as being of sufficient importance to be dealt with promptly. It was postponed beyond the 30th June because the applications had come in too late to be dealt with during the financial year. The vote of ,£5,000 was not all spent, and the promise we have in the Governor-General’s Speech cannot be taken as an indication of what the policy of the Government in the future will be. Referring to the introduction of men from Europe for the purpose of peopling the northern parts of Australia, especially in connexion with Queensland, I would draw attention to the fact that we find the best argument in favour of immigration in a letter addressed by the Secretary for External Affairs to Messrs. McDonald and Bamford, members of the other House -
The seriousness of the situation from both stand-points, those of the growers and of the men they employ, cannot be overlooked. The circumstances of last season afford no proof of those which will require to be met this year. It is obvious that, unless there has been a considerable influx to Queensland, of which the Department, has not been advised, the fact that upwards of I,000 kanakas have already been deported, and that in the course of the next few months, at least 2,000 more will probably go away, must create a shortage of labour which requires to be made good.
That letter clearly represents the anxiety which was felt in the sugar districts in the early part of this year and the latter part of last year. In the latter part of 1906, the farmers round Cairns found it necessary to meet in conference and discuss the question of obtaining an increased supply of labour to get off the coming year’s crop. In 1906, in the Mossman and Mackay districts alone, at least 30,000 tons of cane were left on the ground unharvested. From a purely commercial stand-point, a ton of cane is worth practically £1. Sometimes it brings more; at other times it brings less ; but ,£1 is the average price. That meant a loss, not only to the farmers, but also to the community generally, and to wage-earners. In those two districts there was a loss of practically £30,000 last year. Recently the Registrar- General for Queensland has issued his statistics on the local sugar industry-, and he gives some startling figures. We find that, comparing 1906 with 1905, in the four most northerly sugar districts - Ingham, Mow.rilyan, Cairns, and Port Douglas - 3,610 fewer acres of cane were cultivated in 1906 than in 1905 ; and, what is more, we find that, in the crushing season of 1906, 2,635 fewer acres of cane were crushed in those districts than in the previous year ; clearly showing that the lack of labour is beginning to make the farmers draw in their horns and curtail the area under cultivation. Precisely the same thing was brought out in the Cairns Conference. Later on, a conference was held in Townsville, and there again the farmers and farmers’ delegates foretold a decrease in cultivation, not so much in the south, where the farmers are getting along without much trouble, because they are mostly connected with the railway, but in the far north. That will necessarily mean that few white men will be employed generally. In those circumstances, it is hardly a matter of surprise that the farmers consulted and tried to see what could be done towards meeting the difficulties which threatened them, and that they accepted the offer of Mr. Kidston, the Premier of Queensland, to bring out labour from the old country. Subsequently to the Cairns meeting, in December, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company made the farmers an offer that they would send Home an agent and try to collect men from Europe. Before the farmers could employ these men they would practically have had to mortgage their own fortunes to .the extent of £20 per immigrant. When subsequently Mr. Kidston brought forward a new scheme for bringing out men, and the farmers were asked to pay only £5 per immigrant, it was only natural that they should prefer his scheme to the other. Yet what do we find? We find that the farmers have paid down £3,000 to bring out men from the old country. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, on behalf of the farmers who cultivate cane for them, and who, of course, will have to pay back the money eventually, have incurred an expenditure of ,£2,400, and the Queensland Government are spending £4,000 in bringing out men. I ask honorable senators whether it is reasonable to suppose that if the farmers in the north could send down here and get men who would be likely to do their work, they would incur an expenditure of many thousand pounds, whether the Queensland Government would spend public money in that direction, or whether the Colonial Sugar Refining Company would risk the expense of bringing out men from the old country ?
– Does the honorable senator refer to Spain as “ the old country “ ?
– Spain is an old country.
– I was going to touch on that very question. I noticed in the press the other day a statement that 120 Spaniards had been imported. In reply to a question I asked on the first day of this session, we ascertained definitely that from the Emigrants’ Information Office in London the following was sent to Mr. Thos. Hughes, agent for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company : -
My committee do not consider that emigrants from this country are at all suited for work on sugar plantations, and they would certainly feel it their duty to warn them against undertaking such work in the tropics.
In the face of that circular it was clearly impossible for M.r. Hughes to do anything towards getting labour in the old country, and naturally he went across to Europe, where he thought he would be able to find men willing to come out. I am very glad to see that, subsequently to that circular being sent to Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister took the opportunity of drawing the attention of the Imperial Government to the gross interference with the efforts of any people in Australia to bring out labour. The circular has since been withdrawn, and to that, I think, we may attribute the fact that Queensland’s Agent-General has been successful in securing a considerable number of labourers from Europe for that State, to be engaged under the supervision of its Government. On the point as to whether the imported labour was really necessary, I would point out that, on the 15th January, the Sub-Collector of Customs at Mackay wrote the following letter to the Customs Department here for the information of the Department of External Affairs : -
So far as I have been able to gather from reliable information, I am of opinion that sufficient labour for the sugar plantations is not available in this district ; though, if the term “ available “ may be taken to mean that which is capable of being obtained at any rate - prohibitive or otherwise - I should not care to give a definite answer upon the subject.
Again, the Sub-Collector of Customs at Cairns addressed the Government in a similar manner. He said -
In the first place, the labour was inadequate ; secondly, the class of labour engaged was quite unused to the work; and, thirdly, the quality of the labour was unsuitable to the climate.
– Were the men from Spain used to the work?
– I may inform the honorable senator that a” great deal of sugar cane is grown in Spain.
– Not in Catalonia, at the foot of the Pyrenees, where those men were brought from.
– This officer goes on to say -
T beg to state emphatically that sufficient, suitable, and necessary labour is not in this or any neighbouring district for sugar purposes.
I have made those quotations to show that not only the farmers, but Federal officers who are supposed to be unbiased, hold that view. When Mr. Hughes left England for the Continent he endeavoured to secure labour. We know that he secured 120 Spaniards. It has been stated that he could not get any Italians, but that he got a few men from other countries. The reason why he could not get Italians will probably be explained by a quotation from the Rome Avanti, a Socialist organ. It published the following . letter, which purported to come from its Australian correspondent at Sydney. Amongst other things he urged Italian toilers - to oppose by any means at their disposal the sugar planters’ scheme, amounting, in his opinion, to a “ Chinesisation of the Italian labour,” on the grounds that : “ (1) Work at the cane-fields, hitherto manned by Chinese and Polynesian semi-slaves, is unhealthy, enervating, unsuitable to Europeans, and spurned by Australians, Britishers, and whites in general ; (2) the wages are low, the hours of labour excessive for a country like Australia, and the diet, although plentiful, unpalatable and unfit for a Latin stomach ; (3) in the event of our countrymen leaving the plantations through impossibility to endure life there they would be necessarily compelled to accept work on any condition somewhere else, and thus cause an unfair competition against the toilers of the small centres of population of that region ; (4) by accepting an occupation which is looked upon <is fit only for Asiatics our agricultural workers would ruin the credit of the Italian labour generally in this Continent, and would substantiate the charge now and then levelled against us by some prejudiced people of being the ‘ Chinese of Europe. “
In the face of that statement published in a well-known Italian newspaper, it is not at all surprising that in Italy Mr. Hughes was unable to get labour. But seeing the urgency of getting some labour, and also seeing that Spaniards are white, very respectable, and decent - just the same as any of the other European races - I fail to see why men, because they are Spaniards, should specially be debarred from coming out here. The same story was told us when some Italians were brought out. In 1891 310 Italians were brought up to the Herbert district. A certain number of them, I believe, were induced to leave their work, and went wood-chopping round about Charters Towers, but with the exception of those few, a large number of them remained in the sugar district, and some of the finest farmers in the Herbert, Burdekin, and Mackay districts are the despised Italians who were brought out in that year. If we think that we can keep this country nearly empty, and entirely to ourselves; if we believe that we can keep out people from the old country, or admit only those who pay their passages ; if we debar immigrants from coming out, and helping to build up the country, we make a fatal mistake, and one which must recoil upon ourselves. In the day when Germany comes into her heritage of Holland, and occupies the Dutch Indies, we shall have a powerful nation possessed of armies and fleets right at our front door. Then we shall know what it is to have left this country empty. Then we shall understand the nature of our present folly. At times when the country is prosperous, and every official and private report goes to show that there is ample room for additional labour and the introduction of more people, the Government submit a paltry vote of £5,000 for immigration, and do not spend even that amount. I say that a great responsibility rests upon the Senate and upon the Government to initiate some scheme, and not to rest satisfied with the excuse that, because the States Governments own the land, while the Federal Government controls the question of immigration, it is impossible to carry out a system until the two authorities can be induced to act together.
– Their masters - the Labour Party - will not let the Federal Government act.
– I am quite at one with those honorable senators who object to the importation of contract labourers in large numbers by private individuals. But if the Government neglects or refuses to introduce people who are necessary for the carrying on of our industries, what are the private individuals engaged in those industries to do? Honorable senators may_ be sure that no private individual desires to go to the expense of bringing out halfadozen men all the way from the old country on the off-chance that when they get here they will represent exactly the sort of labour he requires. Not only should private individuals be able to look to the Government to see that sufficient labour is supplied to meet the requirements of the growing industries of the country, but the Government should make sure that no excuse is. given to private individuals to go to Europe, Great Britain, or elsewhere to engage labour to be brought out here. It is. undesirable that private individuals should make labour contracts of that kind. If it is true, as is often stated, that there is any amount of labour to be had in Australia, and I think I heard Senator Findley say that miners were working in Victoria for 20s. a week, why do not the Government adopt a system which has recently been suggested, and to which I directed attention on several occasions during my election campaign? They should adopt a system similar to that in vogue in the old country, where the Board of Trade collects returns from various unions and trades, and from employers’ organizations, and publishes them weekly or fortnightly, so that men in search of work may learn where it is to be obtained, and employers may learn where men are to be found who will work for them. I do not propose to keep honorable senators much longer, as I have dealt with the particular subject, which, it seems to me; underlies the successful carrying out of the programme of the Government or any programme that involves considerable expense. I am not one of those who wish to see a large number of Europeans, and especially of low class Europeans, brought into this country, but I say that Australia must be populated, and we cannot expect to import only millionaires. We must import people who will be prepared to settle in and develop the country. I feel strongly on this question. Coming, as I do, from.
North Queensland, and knowing the sugar districts of that State, and especially those north of Bundaberg, I can say that, while the people in those districts dreaded the action taken by the Federal Parliament on the coloured labour question, that action having been taken they have gradually fallen into line, and are now doing their level best, honestly and fairly, to carry out the desire of Australia in the matter.
– When they cannot help themselves.
– That is a veryungenerous thing to say, because the honorable senator is aware that they might have closed down their places, and they have chosen to run considerable’ risks in doing their best to carry out the desires of Australia in this connexion.
– I shall show directly what they have done.
– I said that they are doing their best in the north to employ white Australians, and to make the northern parts of Queensland whiter than they have been. In their efforts in this respect they should be encouraged, not only by the people of Australia generally, but by the Government, and their requirements in the matter of labour should be met so far as it is possible to meet them. There is. one other matter connected with the Vancouver mail service to which I wish to direct attention. The paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech dealing with the question is as follows : -
The discontinuance of the service of steamships between Australia and San Francisco rendered an extension of that between Australia and Vancouver specially advisable. A contract has been entered into for a further period of two years, subject to an earlier termination if desired by my Government, upon giving four months’ notice.
It is well known thai there is a scheme afoot by which, if it can possibly be managed, the Vancouver service will be diverted and the boats, instead of calling first at Brisbane, will go to New Zealand and thence to Sydney. If that should be brought about, the people of Queensland will have a very serious grievance. If the ideas of the New Zealand Government, so far as they have been formulated, are carried out, the Commonwealth will save a few thousand pounds a year, since the New Zealand Government will pay a larger portion of the subsidy, and the Commonwealth will be proportionately relieved. But Brisbane should not cease to be a port pf call for the boats engaged in this ser vice. We have, I think, .a right to claim that the service which, under existing conditions, has developed a considerable trade with Brisbane should be continued. I have figures regarding that trade for the last three years. In the first place the people of Brisbane, save under existing conditions, a very considerable amount of money which, if the proposal now made were carried out, would be involved in the cost of transhipment from Sydney. In addition to that, a certain amount of local trade has grown up at the port of Brisbane. The services of lighters and other services required in connexion with the boats, though representing an amount which does not call for special mention, go to swell the earnings of the port, but I may inform the Senate that in 1904 the Brisbane trade by the Vancouver line represented y>7> 296. In 1905 the value of the trade had risen to £27,597, and in 1906 to £33,403. In the three years the value of the trade had practically doubled. In the circumstances, as the existing contract may be terminated at four months’ notice, I hope that the Government will keep the Queensland authorities and the Senate advised before any serious alteration of existing arrangements is made. The trade is of importance to Queensland, and is increasing, and it should not be forgotten that at present the people of that State, in addition to their share of the Commonwealth subsidy for the existing mail service with the Orient Steam Navigation Company, are paying a special subsidy to induce the boats of the Orient Steam Navigation Company to call at the (port of Brisbane. I hope that for the sake of Queensland, if not for the sake of the trade involved, the Government will act very warily in making any compact with New Zealand, which will benefit that Colony at the expense of Queensland.
– Before proceeding to deal with the matters of importance mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, and also those which are not mentioned in that speech, I should like to reply briefly to some of the statements made by Senator Chataway, in order to remove from the minds of honorable senators the effect which some of his inaccuracies may have had upon their judgment. In doing so, I wish, as far as possible to avoid anything like mere assertion, and to give absolute proof of everything I say. I shall deal first with one of the honorable senator’s last statements that the Queensland sugar planters are at the present time doing their utmost to fall in with the White Australia policy, and to carry on the business of their industry in accordance with that ideal. I have here a copy of the report of the last Sugar Growers’ Conference, held at Townsville, in the early portion of this year, which is at the service of any honorable senator who cares to peruse it. If, after having read that report, he comes to the conclusion that the statement made by Senator Chataway is correct, I shall be quite satisfied that nothing I could say would alter his judgment. When the honorable senator says that the northern sugar planters are now trying to carry out the ideal of a White Australia, let me point out that it is only after they had made the most strenuous exertions to defeat the White Australia policy. It is only when they cannot any longer help themselves that the sugar planters consent to fall into line with that policy at all. When the legislation intended to replace coloured labour with white labour was introduced, it was contemplated that the change would extend over a period of five years, but, owing to the action of the sugar planters in strenuously setting their faces against what was then proposed, the transition had to be brought about in one year instead of five, and consequently for the difficulties which have arisen in consequence of a scarcity of white labour they themselves are responsible. Some honorable senators may be inclined to challenge that statement as a very strong one, but I am prepared to prove what I say up to the hilt. In 1903, in the far northern district of Cairns, no less than eleven of the largest sugargrowers connected with the Mulgrave Central Mill, and including two of the directors of the mill, desired to be allowed to work their plantations with white labour, and so earn the sugar bonus. One would think that in a free country like Australia a man would be allowed to cultivate his farm and harvest his crop with any labour he chose, but it was found that that- could not be done in this instance. That is proved by a letter written to the sugar-growers referred to by the Mulgrave Central Mill Company. They might have harvested their crop with white labour if they chose, but they could not then have got any one to crush it or to buy it from them, and so the whole of the crop would have been lost. The eleven sugar-farmers, including two of the directors of the mill, and representing nearly a third of the cane grown for the mill in 1903, requisitioned the company in the terms I have stated, and here is the reply they received : - (Copy.) Mulgrave Mill Co.
Several farmers in the company having represented that they desired to avail themselves of the bonus payable on cane cultivated by white labour, desired to know on what terms the company was prepared to deal with them.
They stated the quantity of their cane to be from 10,000 to 14,000 tons.
After due consideration, it was resolved that the company will permit the farmers in question to cut and trash their cane by white labour as requested, provided -
That the farmers engage their own white labour, and that they work in gangs of not less than 30 (thirty).
That meant that not only would those farmers have to pay for the white labour engaged in trashing and harvesting the cane, but they would also have to pay for the kanakas whom the company wanted to put on, but whom they would not put on if white labour was employed. The conditions laid down by the company continue -
Or, as an alternative, the company will take the cane cut and trashed by white labour, provided -
That in face of the fact that the cane has been grown and cultivated by coloured labour up to this date, the white labourers be paid for the cutting and trashing an amount equal to the bonus allowed ‘ by the Federal Government, in addition to the 2s. 9d. the company charges for the cutting and harvesting of the cane in the ordinary way.
That is, the farmers had to pay the 5s. bonus for harvesting the cane, in addition to the 2s. 9d. per ton they would have . to pay the company if their coloured boys were employed -
Mulgrave Central Mill Co. Ld. (Sgd.) S. W. Davids,
That was the sort of encouragement the company gave to the farmers who desired to grow cane by white labour. The result was that none of those farmers grew cane by white labour. That company had 250 kanakas illegally engaged, because under the State law a man could only employ kanakas for his own work in tropical agriculture, and he had not the option of hiring them out, but this mill company did not own an acre of land under sugar, and yet it was allowed to employ 250 boys under contract, and to farm them out to the men who required them. In the slack season, the year before last, they were not Content with having these coloured people working in the sugar plantations, but they actually sent kanakas back to places on the cool table-lands behind Cairns to take away from white men work which kanakas were not supposed to do at all. If that is the loyal way in which the sugar-planters are falling in’ with the ‘White Australia policy, I do not want to make the acquaintance of any more loyalty in my lifetime, lt might be said that this was a mere isolated instance of the discouragement of white labour, or the misrepresentations indulged in by the sugar-growers about the employment of white labour in the sugar plantations. But I will show honorable senators some of the other methods which they used in their attempt to discredit white labour. When the sugar legislation was first enacted by this Parliament, although the sugar-growers were very fond at that time of saying that white men would not or could not do the work, and that even if thev could or would do it, they should not be allowed to do it, because it was such cruel and killing work, even at that time gangs of white men were at work in the Mossman district, the furthest north portion of Australia in which sugar is grown at the present moment. As far back as 1902, a gang of men made a contract with the Mossman Central Mill Company to supply a certain number of tons of cane per week. They had to cut the cane upon areas of land registered by the owners for the bonus. About -a couple of months after thev started work, the company asked them if they could not increase the quantity of cane delivered to the mill. They agreed to about double the quantity that they had contracted to deliver, and then on the 24th December, 1902, the company tried to break the contract on the ground that the men were not delivering a sufficient quantity of cane. This was in face of the fact that the men had first agreed to deliver double the quantity originally contracted for, and afterwards to reduce the quantity in obedience to arequest from the mill company. This is shown by the following letter: -
Mossman, vid Port Douglas,
Oct. 24th, 1902.
Mr. George Taylor,
It being now necessary to reduce your cane deliveries to forty tons (40) per day, I am instructed to give you one (1) week’s notice to do so, as specified in the agreement between yourself and this company.
Yours faithfully^ Harry S. W. C Roberts,
Yet on 24th December, 1902, the company sent this extraordinary letter to the gang -
Mossman, vid Port Douglas,
Dec. 24th, 1902.
Mr. Geo. Taylor,
I am instructed to inform you that, according to your cane deliveries for some considerable time past, which have only averaged 38^ tons per day, it is impossible for you to harvest all the white rebate cane as per your agreement before the termination of the present crushing season, thus causing the growers and the company a great loss.
Owing to the average daily supply not coming near the amount of your contract, this company is reluctantly compelled to notif y you that your contract is cancelled through non-performance of the conditions contained therein ; therefore, you are to discontinue work on Saturday afternoon, the 27th inst.
I wish to emphasize the fact that the men were supplying about double the quantity that the mill could afford to take, as evidenced by the company’s letter of 24th October, in which the company requested them to reduce their deliveries to 40 tons per day. They reduced them accordingly, and yet on Christmas Eve the company told them that they had only been delivering 38J tons per day for some time past, and therefore gave them notice, practically at the end of the crushing season, that the contract must cease and be determined. I want to show honorable senators what truth there was in that statement, and how unreliable were the gross misstatements uttered by men animated by a desire to discredit the White Australian policy and to prevent white men from working in the industry. To show how little credence can be placed on the statements of the company, I shall read the certificate of the Customs officer of the amount of cane harvested and delivered at the mill by this very gang during the last week of the contract. The certificate is as follows : -
H.M. Customs, 29th December, 1902.
Honorable senators will notice that the amount sent in on 24th December, the day on which notice to determine the contract was sent to the men, was over 40 tons, while on Christmas Day, when of all days in the year it would be excusable for the men to wish to knock off and have a spree, they delivered over 22 tons. These are men who have been denounced as drunken, vile beasts, who are not to be relied upon. They worked on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and in fact for the whole week, yet they have been denounced in those terms by men whose sole desire was to discredit the White Australia policy. On 27th December - a Saturday - the day on which their contract expired according to the notice given them by the company, they only cleared up the cane already cut. They did not cut any more, and yet they sent in over 16 tons. The total of 251 tons for the week was 11 tons over the average of 40 tons per day. Those are facts that cannot be denied. I produce my authority for them in the shape of the letters written by the company, and the certificate given by the Government official. The whole action was taken by the company with the idea of discrediting the White Australia policy, and with the object of proving that these men could not do the work, and that it was useless to employ white labour in the sugar industry. Before that gang could get the contract at all they had to pay down , £100 as security for the due performance of the work. Then, in order to terrorize the men, the company without any justification whatever broke the contract and dismissed them, and threatened to forfeit the£100 unless they signed a memorandum stating that it was impossible for them to do the work. That is the sort of tactics the company resorted to.
– Do I understand that, the company, although it was bound by a contract, broke that contract?
– Are there no law courts in Queensland ?
– What could the men do, when there were half-a-dozen or a dozen of them brought together from all parts of the country to form a gang ? These men had to send home their money. I know that the ganger, Taylor, had to send home every shilling he earned to keep his family while he was at work. How can these men go to law? How are they to keep together until the law case comes on? The sugar planters, knowing well the advantages they possessed, issued an ultimatum to them that unless they signed a document stating that they could not carry out the contract and had to break it, their deposit of £100would be forfeited. I came along about that time and took a hand in the matter, with the result, I am pleased to say, that the men got their £100 back, and we did not hear any more about signing such a ridiculous document. I could multiply instances to show how every possible discouragement is placed in the way of any sugar-growers engaging white labour in the industry. I can also produce proofs of how men were terrorized by influential mill companies and sugar people into refusing to register their cane for the bonus. It is needless, however, for me to take up the time of the Senate in that connexion. I am only bringing these cases forward now to disprove the statements of Senator Chataway, which I think are totally incorrect, and do not represent the true feeling of the sugar districts themselves on the question. If a difficultyhas arisen in securing a sufficiency of labour to carry on the sugar industry, it has been mainly of the sugar planters’ own creation, because, as I have pointed out. their action in seeking at all costs to defeat the White Australia legislation prevented the transition from coloured to white labour occupying five years as contemplated, and compelled it to be completed in the one year. Notwithstanding that the transition had to be somewhat sudden, and in spite of all these difficulties, I have yet to learn that there has been any scarcity of labour whatever in any of the sugar districts. None or very few of the contract immigrants have arrived in Australia yet, and none of them have so far reached the sugar districts. That is a certainty, and yet in North Queensland at present, in the furthermost north district where sugar is grown, there is no scarcity of labour. It is only a little over a fortnight ago that I left the Cairns district, and at that time there was not only a sufficiency of labour there, but there were plenty of men walking about unable to get work.
– Plenty of mills had not started.
– I will admit that all had not started; but all had started in the Cairns district.
– There are only two in that district.
– That is so. There was only one in the Mossman district, and it also had plenty of men. I will guarantee that in the honorable senator’s own district of Mackay, there are plenty of men at the present moment.
– There is a large number of unemployed in Bundaberg, for whom the Government are finding work.
– Yes. When the outcry was raised to allow a large influx of contract labour for the sugar industry, I took steps to inquire whether there was any need for the importation of such a large number of new labourers to these districts to carry on the work. Senator Chataway stated that if anybody was responsible for misleading the Melbourne unemployed last April, it was the men who got them to put their names down by telling them that the work was available in’ the Queensland sugar districts. I do not think that that is a correct statement of fact. The persons who collected the names of the Melbourne unemployed were Mr. Bamford-, member of of the House of Representatives, and myself. Both of us knew perfectly well that there was no work available at that time in -Queensland. But the planters were raising an outcry that they could not get sufficient labour, and the consequence was that the Commonwealth Government issued a notice to be posted at every post-office throughout Australia, inviting labourers to go to Queensland. I have a copy of the notice in my hand. It is headed - “ Notice to labourers desiring work on sugar plantations, Queensland “ -
It goes on to say -
The cane-growers of Queensland require additional labour to work their plantations. They offer the following terms -
That is a plain statement of alleged fact - that the cane-growers of Queensland required additional labour. The proclamation was signed by Mr. Austin Chapman, Acting Minister of Trade and Customs.
– What terms were offered ?
– The proclamation states the following terms : -
Engagement - for 12 months, subject to the provisions of Masters and Servants Act of Queensland.
Hours of labour - 58 to 60 per week.
I should like to know how Mr. Austin Chapman would like to work out in a cane field 60 hours per week. He would not look so sleek as he does now if he had to do work of that kind for six months; nor would my honorable friend the Minister of Home Affairs. Yet this Government, which calls itself a democratic Government, had not the slightest compunction in offering men work on such terms. There may be a necessity for long hours at certain periods, but there is no necessity for it in the slack season. There might have been some excuse had the pay been commensurate with the long hours, but what rates were offered? -
Wages-r-for field work, other than harvesting, 22s. 6d. to 25s. weekly, with rations and accommodation.
For cane harvesting, 25s. weekly, with rations a.nd accommodation - or allowance without rations varying from 4s. to 5s. 6d. and upwards per sum according to crop.
Now, sir, to my mind, that was a distinct attempt on the part of the sugar planters to get the present Government to act as their compliant agents in the matter; I was going to say their compliant tools, but that might not be in accord with the Standing Orders. Further, they tried to get the unemployed to engage for twelve months, on conditions which meant lengthening the hours and reducing the wages paid in the industry. The wages in the farming districts of North Queensland have always been 25s. per week in the off season, and at least 30s. in the harvesting season, with rations. As a matter of fact, there are men there who are getting 30s. a week all the year round.
But wages were sought to be brought down by the Government in this precious document. Surely we who represent the bone and sinew as distinct from the mere property of that State, have a right to complain of the attitude of the Government in this connexion. The document asked the men who wanted work to apply to the Sub-Collectors of Customs at various Queensland ports enumerated. I need not weary the Senate by reading out the list of ports. Acting on that suggestion, I wired to the Collector of Customs at Mackay, pointing out that there were about 500 men available in Melbourne, 300 of whom I could guarantee to be suitable for the work, and asking him if any places could be found for them in his district. I received the following reply, dated 15th March, of the present year : -
Cannot ascertain that any are required just now from outside. This is wet season. Demands hardly likely before June.
That was a wonderful piece of comfort to the Melbourne unemployed - to the men whose wives and families were wanting sufficient food !
– Was there any intimation in the proclamation as to when the men would be wanted - whether immediately or at a future time?
– No intimation of that kind was given. It simply said -
The cane-growers of Queensland require additional labour, which evidently meant that they wanted it then. It did not say that the labour would be required in the future. The proclamation was dated 6th March, 1907. » I also wired to the Collector of Customs, Cairns, in similar terms, and he replied to me by telegram, dated 15th March of this year -
Have written to most of the principal employers relative to matter, and will reply immediately hear from them
He evidently was a cautious individual who was not going to commit himself until he had gone to the fountain head, and knew whether the planters actually required men. On the 19th March I received the following further reply from him : -
In response to my letters, have received replies as follows : - At the present time, and until near start crushing season, sufficient local labour available. About June thousand men will be required.
That is the reply which I received from one of the best sources available, and it should be sufficient to prove to any one that the action of the Government in telling the unemployed that men were wanted in Queensland was entirely misleading. I would add a word of comment upon that last, telegram. The Collector of Customs who sent it was evidently misled in saying that at the start of the crushing season 1,000 men would be required. In the Cairns district there were never more than 500 kanakas, and how 1,000 white men could be required to ta;ke the place of 500 kanakas was more than I could understand. The statement calls for too large a stretch of credulity, and I should not think much of the intelligence of a person who believed it. As to the planters and their present attitude, I wish to point out that, while they desire to bring in large numbers of men in order that they may have labourers competing against each other, and by that means bring down rates of pay to the lowest possible level, these very planters do not believe in competition amongst themselves. When it is a question of their competing with one another they raise strong objections. We sometimes hear members of the Senate and of another place speaking about the glories of free competition; but very few of them like it to apply to themselves. At the Townsville Conference of sugar planters which was held in February, 1907, a proposal was made, as intimated by Senator Chataway, by the Premier of Queensland, to bring in labourers if the planters who required them would pay each as a guarantee that they really wanted the men, and as some sort of recompense to the Government for the expense to which it would be put. That was one of the conditions which the Queensland Premier intimated that the Government required to be fulfilled. He wrote - ‘
It is further to be understood that the paid by the employer to the Government in part payment of passage money is not to be refunded’ by the immigrant, and that the wages agreed to be paid to him are to be paid without deductions.
It was also intimated that the employer who offered the best terms to the immigrants would get priority in having the first call upon the immigrants’ services. That was a plain, straightforward, honest statement of the intentions of the Government, and it was a fair thing to do. But how did the cane farmers receive that proposition ? They were immediately up in arms on the ground that it would cause the farmers to compete amongst themselves for the labour available, with the result that wages would rise.
– Why should they compete for immigrants if there was, as the honorable senator argues, surplus labour in their own districts?
– I will read the resolution which they passed to show the Senate what the opinion of these farmers was on the glorious doctrine of free competition -
Mr. Munro moved that a wire be sent to the Premier stating that - “ The Labour in Cane-fields Conference, after a full discussion, cannot see their way to accept the stipulation in the Government’s proposals, reading - ‘ It must be understood that priority be (riven to the request of those offering the best terms to immigrants/ as they are of opinion that it will lead to the most undesirable and destructive competition, and therefore ask you to expunge that stipulation. The Conference is also opposed to indentors being asked to pay £3 for passage money. We hold that this should be paid by the Government or the immigrants; if by the latter, it could be spread over the period of engagement. The Federal Government have already agreed that immigrants shall refund to those indenting.”
That shows that those who are fond of free competition as applied to other people do not at all approve of it when it touches themselves. They want men to be at their beck and call on their own terms.
– Was that motion carried?
– It was, and a telegram was sent to the Premier in accordance with its terms. The fact goes to prove that this cry for more labour in Australia is really a cry for cheaper wages. Further proof of that is contained in the telegram or letter from the Customs officer at Mackay, dated the 13th June, quoted by Senator Chataway, in which the officer said that he did not think there was a sufficient supply of labour available in the Mackay district for the crushing season ; but he was careful to add a proviso that if a prohibitive rate of wages were paid he was not sure that there was not labour available. In fact he let it be understood that there was sufficient labour provided high enough wages were paid.
– At prohibitive rates.
– But what is a prohibitive wage? It is a rate which an industry is unable to pay. Now, every other industry in Queensland but the sugar industry has to get labour as best it can, and pay for it at market- rates. I can say from my own personal knowledge that there is not a single industry in Australia to-day which is as well able to pay good wages as the sugar industry. We have been told by Senator Chataway and others that the country was never more prosperous than it is to-day. It is a land flowing with milk and honey.
– Hear, hear.
– Senator Gray indorses that observation by his interjection. But how does that statement harmonize with the cry raised by those very gentlemen ever since Federation was consummated that the fact that the Labour Party was dominant in both Houses of Parliament was ruining the country ? Now they say that the country is more prosperous than ever it has been. That cry of ruin was specially raised by the sugar-growers. They said that the White Australia policy meant absolute ruin to the sugar industry. Senator Chataway was inclined to have a little flirtation with that sort of statement when he was speaking. I am sorry that he is not in his place so that I could nip that flirtation in the bud. What are the facts in regard to the so-called ruin of the sugar industry? Is it not a fact that last year we had a record output of sugar? That is known to every person in the Commonwealth who takes an interest in public affairs. That does not look like ruin in any respect. Last year we came nearer to supplying the wants of the Commonwealth than ever we did before, although our population was increasing. I take it that in a ruined industry men do not produce more largely than ever they did_ before.
– I think that’ last year the production slightly exceeded the consumption.
– I am extremely doubtful whether it did or not, because it is almost impossible to ascertain the exact consumption, but the fact is that last year production and consumption were very nearly equal, and that was the only year in which the production came anything near the consumption. Any one who goes into the library and looks up a file of Melbourne or Sydney daily newspapers for 1900 - the year immediately preceding Federation - will find that the shares of the great sugar corporation of Australia - a corporation which had a monopoly of over 90 per cent, of the refining and distributing of sugar, and was very largely interested in growing sugar in Australia - could be purchased for £20 on any Stock Exchange. This year, their stock was watered without the addition of an extra shilling of capital. It was watered very considerably by the issue of many hundred thousand new shares, and now a man would have to pay about £45 for a share.
– The new shares are being called up to £20 per share, and shareholders get £5 given towards that sum, so that they pay £15 for a £20 share.
– How many new shares does each shareholder get in proportion to his old shares?
– Three to every twenty-two
– The honorable senator, in fact any one, ought to be pleased indeed ‘to find that the value of his shares in a corporation, in spite of the ruin which was foretold, has considerably more than doubled in the short space of six years. If that is an evidence of ruin, I hope that somebody will bring similar evidence regarding myself about forty times a week. I wish now to see where in this ruin the land-owner comes in, because undoubtedly if the sugar industry were going to be ruined, it would mean a heavy loss to those who have sugar lands or lands under sugar crop. I know as a matter of hard solid fact that the sugar lands of Queensland - that is the lands under sugar and the lands on which sugar can be grown so that it may be crushed by mill - are at least three times as valuable to-day as they were before the White Australia legislation was attempted. In the far northern districts of Queensland - both on the Mossman and in the Cairns district - for land which, before Federation, I could have purchased at from £5 to £7 an acre: to-day, with- all this so-called ruin, one would have to pay from £40 to £50 an acre.
– The honorable senator is mistaken.
– I am not.
– I am trustee for 1,600 acres of land on the Mossman, and I cannot get £3,000 for it.
– That is a wild inaccurate statement which has no application to the subject-matter under discussion, and which is only calculated to mislead persons.
– It is a positive fact.
– If the honorable senator had 20,000 acres of the best sugar land in Australia it would be worth nothing until he had a mill on it.
– The Mossman Mill works the cane grown on this land. Richard Owen Jones is the tenant.
– It must be a mangrove swamp. Let me quote a concrete instance as to the value of land. Sixty acres of land in the Cairns district, which before Federation was purchased at under £7 an acre, was leased a few years ago by the Secretary of the Cairns-Mulgrave District United Farmers’ Association for a (period of five years at an annual rental cf £250-
– My tenant is paying only £250 a year for the property.
– After paying (hat extraordinary rental, this gentleman paid £2,500 for the freehold of the land, as I know from personal knowledge.
– Was there a gold mine underneath the land?
– No, it was nothing but sugar land. These are facts from which there is no escaping, and I think that, instead of continually howling at the Commonwealth for having brought about such a state of affairs the sugar-growers ought to be extremely thankful, and also ashamed to raise their voices in complaint. Let us see where the ruin comes, in from the’ view of the cane-grower. Before Federation, the man who got from 8s. to 14s. a ton for his cane considered himself extremely lucky. Senator Chataway said that last year, in two districts he named, there were no less than 30,000 tons of cane unharvested from the want “of labour: I shall deal with the question of the want of labour later on, but I desire here to remind honorable senators that Senator Chataway said that from the market point of view that cane averaged in value £1 a ton.
– That was for labour and everything connected with it.
– No, Senator Chataway said that £1 a ton was the value of the cane at the mill.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is quoting Senator Chataway quite correctly.
- Senator Chataway said that a portion of that sum was lost to the workers because they were not employed in harvesting the cane. I agree with that conclusion, because the cane could not be delivered at the mill until it was harvested. It is quite true that £1 is the average value of the cane at the mill. In 1905, in the Cairns district, the growers got 20s. 5d. a ton for cane delivered at the mill. That was entirely apart from the bonus, which would amount to 5s. a ton, and which, this year, will amount to 7s. 6d. a ton in the northern districts. If the cane is worth £1 a ton, a man who is asked to produce cane at that sum, without reckoning the bonus, is very well off indeed compared with a man who, before Federation, had to produce it for 12 s. or less per ton. If that means ruin, I hope that the sugar growers will be ruined about forty times a week.
– And they entered into contracts for four or five years at 9s. or ros. a ton.
– Yes. I am sorry that this matter has been so continually referred to here. But if we are met with these gross inaccuracies, there is no option for us but to correct them. Of course, Senator Chataway’s whole argument tended to favour a system of immigration which would keep a large number of labourers continually coming here. I know that most property owners and employers of labour always favour that view. Why? Employers of labour favour it because they know that if there is a continual stream of labourers coming in and looking for work they can keep down wages to the lowest possible level ‘at which men will consent to work and live. Again, property owners favour that line of policy because they know that the pressure of population will tend to increase more and more, as the years go on, the value of their properties, and allow them to reap a larger harvest of unearned increment. There is no party in Australia which recognises the need for population here more than do the Labour Party. There is no party which desires to see a large, happy, and prosperous population in Australia more than we do.
– I am delighted to hear that. It is news to me.
– Of course it is news to the honorable senator. It is quite wonderful to me how any ideas ever penetrated the mass of prejudice which has always existed in his mind. We have an ardent desire to see a large population in a happy, prosperous condition settled here. We have also very definite ideas as to how we are going to get that population here. It is not by importing a large number of contract labourers from Europe or elsewhere, by bringing in a stream of helpless persons to compete with each other for the little work that there is already to be done, but by making this country so attractive that men will come here of their own accord. We hope to afford such opportunities for people to make a comfortable living for themselves that men will come by the thousand, perhaps by the million.
– Canada is making a great mistake, I suppose?
– If the honorable member would only look up the statistics he would find that Canada is losing population at the present moment. How do we propose to make the country attractive and enable men to earn a comfortable living? It is by creating new industries, and by bursting up the big estates, and giving men free access to the land. When we propose to do anything of that sort we are immediately met with the “ stone- wall “ opposition of rank Toryism on the part of honorable senators, who are continually prating about their desire to bring in more population. We can only maintain and increase our population by making the country so attractive that men will come here of their own accord, and, being comfortable, stay with us. It is useless to talk of bringing out large numbers of people to this country until we have established new industries which will create fresh avenues of employment, and have burst up the big landed estates. This brings me back to one of the most important matters referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, and that is the question of protection. I am an ardent protectionist. I wish to create new industries by means of a protective Tariff. And when I say a protective Tariff, I mean a Tariff that will protect industries, not a mongrel revenue Tariff.
– A prohibitive Tariff?
– A Tariff which will protect. I do not mean a mongrel Tariff which has the effect only of raising revenue, and which merely imposes burdens of taxation on the people without accomplishing any useful purpose. On this subject, I find that paragraph 4 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech says -
The Reports of the Royal Commission upon the Tariff already forwarded are under review. You will be asked as soon as possible to consider proposals for the amendment of the existing Tariff, in order to place our national industries upon a sound and permanent basis under equitable conditions.
I entirely agree with that. I wish to know the reason for so much delay in connexion with this matter. The Tariff Commission have been at work for nearly three years.
– Their reports could not have been under review when the Government have not received them yet.
– The Government have .received a number of reports, and have had them in their possession for a considerable number of months, and I want to know why no action is even now proposed to be taken upon them.
– The honorable senator could not expect the Minister of Trade and Customs to study Tariff reports while motoring about England.
– I am not spiteful, and I do not grudge the Minister of Trade and Customs the experience of enjoying himself in the old country, especially in the company of dukes and duchesses. I hope the honorable gentleman has returned reinvigorated by the mild dissipations he had an opportunity to indulge in. The necessity for a review of the Tariff has been exceedingly urgent during the last two or three years, and yet when this Parliament met in the early portion of the year we were asked to disband without giving any consideration to the subject. We have met again now after the financial year has closed, and it seems that we must wait for another couple of months before the Government will lay any definite Tariff proposals before us. I object to this. The question of a real protection of our industries is one of the most important concrete questions before the people of Australia at the present time, and the Government proposals on the subject should be laid on the table at the earliest possible moment, and proceeded with without delay. The matter is so insistent that the Government cannot be too strongly urged to hasten their action in connexion with it. I shall give them every assistance possible in passing a really protective Tariff, and no assistance whatever if thev attempt to pass a Tariff which would he only a mongrel revenue-producing Tariff. As a matter of fact, I should prefer freetrade to such a Tariff.
– Would it not simplify matters if we were to pass a resolution to say that no goods shall come in here in future.
– Honorable senators possessed of brains will be able to formulate their own proposals, and Senator Gray will no doubt have the benefit of my ideas upon the subject when the Tariff is under discussion. The Government should not be excused or forgiven if thev delay the introduction of their Tariff proposals for one unnecessary moment. Leaving that subject, I notice in’ paragraph 6 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, a reference in the most cursory way to one of the gravest questions, and, for the well-being of the people of Australia, one of the measures most needed at the (present time. I refer to the establishment of a system of oldage pensions. The paragraph reads -
The subject of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States has been further discussed with the State Premiers, and the results arrived at will be communicated to you. The great issues affected, including the federalization of old-age pensions, will be considered in this relation.
I wish to know why this question of oldage pensions receives so cursory a notice, and in connexion with a subject with which it has no relation at all. I do not think the question should be mixed up with any other. It is of sufficient importance to have justified a paragraph to itself instead of being associated with the question of State finance. So far as I am aware, the majority of the members of the Senate and of another place are pledged to the people in favour of an old-age pensions scheme. I believe that our friends of the Free-trade Party, or, if they like that title better, the antiSocialistic Party, have been pledged to an old-age pension scheme for years. The members of the Protectionist or Government Party are to a man pledged in favour of such a scheme, and undoubtedly the members of the Labour Party are without any qualification whatever pledged up to the hilt in favour of it.
– The leader of the Opposition in another place stated on the hustings that it had been too long delayed.
– It has been too long delayed, and merely because we have not had the courage to take steps to raise the necessary money.
– And in the last Parliament, because it was tacked on to something ci which it had no direct bearing.
– I am one of those who hold that no special rates should be imposed for any such object. The necessary expenditure should be a charge upon the Consolidated Revenue, just as is the cost of administering the Department of Defence, or any other Department that could be mentioned. It would, in my opinion, be an exceedingly bad thing for Australia if we established a scheme which would be open to the slur that it involved a poor rate. I do not think it right that old-age pensions proposals should bc mixed up with any special taxation proposals. They should stand by themselves^ and, when accepted, we should find ways and means to increase the Consolidated Revenue Fund in such a way as to enable it fj sustain the additional charge upon it. The reference to the old-age pensions scheme which is contained in the Governor-General’s Speech will be but a poor consolation to the old men outside who are awaiting the establishment of such a scheme. I am aware that in some of the States old-age pensions schemes are already in operation, but they are associated with conditions which prevent some old persons from obtaining pensions. A State, for its own protection, is obliged co impose a condition that the applicant for an old-age pension must have been a resident of the State for a certain time. Every one knows that in the early days of Australia many of the pioneers, and especially those who followed the diggings, did not stop sufficiently long in any one State to qualify them for the receipt of an old-age pension under the conditions imposed by the State legislation.
– Such men are still travelling between the States.
– That is true. Australia owes a debt of gratitude to those men for their heroic efforts in opening up the country. They did most of the pioneering work”, and instead of penalizing them for roving all over Australia in search of the precious metals, we should do what we can to make their declining years more easy and comfortable than they are likely to be under existing conditions. In some of the States there is no provision for old-age pensions, and with the exception, perhaps, of New South Wales, there is no State which has provided anything like an adequate scheme. We should adopt a system which will be fair all round, and give satisfaction to the people of Australia, who, in adopting the Commonwealth Constitution, gave this Par- liament full power to deal with this question. We have been unfaithful, and have shirked our duty, and so far as I can gather from the Governor-General’s Speech, there is no definite indication that it is going to be dealt with now.
– Let honorable senators opposite put the screw on, and they will get it.
– We have heard that expression very often. Those who use it wish to insinuate that the members of the Labour Party are responsible because they cio not say to the Government, “ You must do this, that, or the other.” If we had the power with which honorable senators on the other side credit us, and were in such a position of advantage as to be able, as some honorable senators on the other side insinuate, to dictate terms to the Government, we should not be asking them for an old-age pensions scheme now, because we should have had it years ago.
– They could not live a day without the support of honorable members opposite.
– Oh, rats !
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7-4-5 p.m.
– When the Senate adjourned for dinner I was dealing withthe question of old-age pensions. I do not intend to deal with it further than to express the hope that the Government will see their way to bring down some concrete proposals to provide for adequate old-age pensions for the old people of the Commonwealth, and to bring them down on their merits, unmixed with other proposals. The Government may say they have already brought before Parliament proposals of that character, but they did it in such a fashion that many honorable senators who were ardent supporters of an adequate and effective old-age pensions scheme could not see their way clear to support them.
– Does the honorable senator not realize that within the present financial limits of the (Constitution, without attempting to impose direct taxation, the difficulty is very great?
– Of course, I admit that if the Government are in favour of doing a thing, but have not the courage to raise the money to carry it out, the difficulty is great, but there are absolutely no limitations to our powers of taxation, and nobody knows it better than the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
– What about the 87th section of the Constitution?
– That’ section has nothing to do with the limitation of our powers of taxation, lt only provides that in exercising our powers of taxation we shall return a certain proportion of the net revenue derived from a particular source to the States. Therefore, to mix the oldage pensions question up with another proposal was, I was going to say, a mere subterfuge. Perhaps that would be unparliamentary, and I shall not say it. I shall say instead that it was a mere clouding of the issue. The people would have been led by the Bill introduced last session to believe that an amendment of the Constitution was necessary before old-age pensions could be provided. No such amendment is necessary. If the Government and Parliament have only the courage to impose the necessary taxation, as every Government and Parliament should do to carry out anything they think ought to be carried out, we could have old-age pensions established in the Commonwealth tomorrow. I hope, therefore, ‘that the question will be tackled in an earnest way, so that we may have an early solution of it. In looking over my notes of what Senator Chataway said regarding the sugar industry, I find I have not replied to one or two of his statements. I think I ought to do the honorable senator, who comes from a large and important sugar centre, the honour of replying to his assertions. The reason 1 did not go through them seriatim before the dinner adjournment was that he was not present. He is not present’ now either, but that is not my fault, and I shall proceed to discuss his remarks just the same as if he were here. He was insistent that every facility should be given to planters to have .as much labour as possible available for the cultivation and harvesting of their crops. I think that is a fair statement of what he demanded. He also said that there would be a much larger quantity of labour required during the harvesting than in any other season of the year. How does he propose to get over that difficulty ? Does he want a sufficiency of labour to do all the harvesting work in three, four, or five months, and to leave that labour helpless and unemployed during the remaining seven or eight months Df the year ? The reason why there was not always a sufficiency of white men available locally in North Queensland to do most of the work at harvesting time was that in the off-season they could not get anything at all to do. The planters utilized the coloured labour available to do all the work in the off-season, and white men had to go elsewhere to look for work. Consequently, they were not there when the harvesting season came round again. It is cruel to suggest that there must be a sufficiency of men available to meet a rush without making any provision at all for them to live during the rest of the year. How do these advocates of unlimited and unrestricted immigration, of the pouring in of countless hundreds of helpless immigrants with absolutely no capital and no means of providing themselves with daily bread except the labour of their hands, propose to find work for them in the offseason? That is a fair question to ask, and one which they ought to answer before they make such a demand.
– Settle them on the sugar land. They can gradually get there.
– It is very hard for a man with no money to settle on sugar land worth anything from £10 to £50 per acre. I find also that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company - the great benevolent monopoly we hear so much about - in North Queensland never let their land to white men when they can get a Chinaman to take it..
– I should like the honorable senator to prove that statement.
– I should like to ask the honorable senator, who sometimes poses as an authority on the question, how many white men there are on the Green Hills Estate in the Cairns district belonging to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Not a single one. There were a few white men a few years ago on the Aloomba Estate, over which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company exercised the greatest control. I think there are one or two there to-day. All the rest of the settlers there are Chinamen. No less than 3,500 acres of land growing cane for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company at the present time in the Cairns district is leased to Chinese by the company.
– What more proof do those honorable senators want?
– It is only an assertion.
– I will take any honorable senators who want confirmation of my statements to Queensland and show them in the Titles Office at Townsville who are the owners of the land, and prove also where these leases are registered to Chinese. It is the same all over North Queensland, wherever the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have a show.
– What about Mackay?
– There are a good many Chinese growing cane there also. This beneficent monopoly, which is continually reaching out to do good to people, pays the sugar growers of Queensland who are growing cane for them an average of 4s. per ton less for their cane than the Central Mills are able to pay for the same cane - a kind beneficent monopoly indeed.
– Who are the owners of the Central Mills?
– They are cooperative mills, owned generally by the people who grow the cane.
– And established on capital advanced by the State.
– In the year before last, in the Cairns district, the Mulgrave Central Mill Company, a co-operative concern, paid 20s. 5d. per ton for cane, whilst on the other side of the fence the highest price paid by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for cane was 13s. 7d. per ton.
– I have seen the same difference in price in the same sugar field.
– So have I, but it was sold to different people.
– And the Colonial Sugar Refining Company had nothing to do with it.
– I make the statement, at any rate, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company pay an average of 4s. per ton. less for the cane than is paid by the Central Mills.
– That shows that they understand their business, apparently.
– Apparently, it does. It is pure unadulterated business to make the biggest profit you can out of the unfortunate fellow . you have under your thumb.
– And then they buy the green sugar from the co-operative mills.
– As Senator Turley very aptly interjects, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company make a further profit, because they buy all the raw sugar from the Central Mills, and make all the profit on the refining and distributing of it. Even then the Central Mills, handicapped by having to allow the middleman an undue proportion of the profits, are able to pay an average of 4s. per ton more than the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to the men who grow the cane. Senator Chataway gave the whole show away when he quoted a letter written by a man named Horton, the President of the Johnstone River Sugar Growers’ Association. This gentleman, who poses as a great authority, wrote to the papers. I have his letter here, and I may perhaps regale the Senate by showing how much he knows about the matter. He says, in the letter quoted by Senator Chataway, and I take it that the honorable senator read it correctly, that the reason why men could not be got from the southern’ States was that they could get better wages and conditions than the planters were offering. Quite so. I think everybody knows it. If the planters were prepared to offer as good conditions and wages as anybody else they would get just as many men as any other industry. That shows that the whole thing resolves itself into a question of cheap wages. The planters want cheap wages. They want men who will work for them at the cheapest possible rate that they can force them to accept. It is no part of the business or duty of this Parliament to offer any facilities whatever to anybody to reduce the wages of the working men of this great Continent. I refuse to be a party to anything of the kind. My sympathies are always with the unfortunate working men, who have to struggle and strive month after month, and year after year, to make a living for themselves and their families, and not with the employers of labour.
– And so say all of us.
– The honorable senator may say it as much as he likes. I care not what he says. It is what he does that I take notice of, and when I find him on every occasion advocating and voting in favour of a course which will have, the opposite effect to his present professions, I doubt his present professions very much. The planters say they want sympathy. They want facilities to give them a rush of labourers to do what? To give them a surplus of labour during the harvesting season. What is to become of those men in the off season? It is a callous cruel proposal, which should not be tolerated for one moment in this Chamber. I regret that this matter has to come up for discussion so often in this Senate. We had hoped that we had finally settled it. I believe the sugar-growers of Queensland got as fair and generous terms from this Parliament as any body of men could expect, and for that fair and generous treatment they owed a great deal to the party to which I belong. It was the Labour men of Queensland who advocated it, but all the thanks we got for it was to be howled at by the very men who Senator Chataway, says are now the loyal supporters of the White Australia policy. They continually howled at us and denounced us for daring to suggest that policy. If the sugarplanters of Queensland and New South
Wales were well advised, they would, instead of disgusting the people of the Commonwealth by their continual clamour and howlings, gracefully acknowledge the fair and generous way in which they have been treated. When “I speak of the sugarplanters and growers as having done these things, I do not mean the whole of them. I mean those growers who have exercised a controlling influence in the industry. According to the letters I read out for the benefit of the Senate to-night, a number of the small sugar-growers have always been in favour of the White Australia policy- They have done their very best to act loyally and faithfully in accordance with the policy and ideal of the people of Australia, but every difficulty has been thrown in their way. It is the influential controlling section of the sugar industry who are responsible for all the trouble, and who are continually bringing up the matter in this Parliament, constantly howling and complaining that they are absolutely ruined. Senator Chataway also stated - I should like the honorable senator to see that I quote him correctly - that lack of labour was causing the farmers to draw in their horns and cultivate less cane. That is absolutely incorrect.
– I said that the Registrar-General’s statistics just published showed that the yield in certain areas which I mentioned had been reduced. I mentioned the four northern districts.
– I am thoroughly, acquainted with most of the northern districts, and I say .that the remark is not true either of the industry generally or of the northern districts.
– The RegistrarGeneral is responsible for the statistics.
– I will give the Senate a few facts. I mentioned a little while ago the fact that instead of being ruined, the sugar industry was increasing and expanding, as shown by the fact that last year we had pretty well a record output. This year the output promises to be even greater. When any one puts forward the plea that an industry is declining and that land is going out of cultivation in face of the fact that more is being produced, and that there is every prospect of a still further increase, I maintain that the facts contradict him.
– I particularly said that my remarks did not apply to the centre and south of Queensland.
– Let me quote a few facts. The Mossman Central Mill, which, as the honorable senator knows, is the most northern mill we have in Australia, this year produced more sugar than it ever did in its history. The amount of its production is only limited by the crushing capacity of the mill. If it could crush twice as much cane the extra quantity would be grown for it. The Mulgrave Central Mill, immediately prior to Federation, could not get enough cane to keep itself going four months in the year. This year, although its crushing capacity has been almost doubled, it has had enough cane to keep it going for seven months, and, in addition to that, has had to beg the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to crush a quantity of cane for it. That is the way the sugar industry is declining in North Queensland ! Where is the ruin of which we hear so much, and which Senator Chataway, when publishing a newspaper in Mackay, was continually howling about? Where does the ruin come in?-
– Let the honorable senator produce the paper in which that was said.
– If there is a file of it in the Library, I shall be happy to produce it.
– It would be just as well.
– If the honorable, senator declines the responsibility for what appeared in his own newspaper I have nothing further to say.
– Produce the newspaper.
– Does the honorable senator ask me to fill the Chamber with files of newspapers for the last twenty years ? There is one other point in connexion with Senator Chataway’s speech to which I should like to draw attention. It may be remembered that shortly after the Senate met at the beginning of the session the honorable senator asked a series of questions with regard to statements put forward by the Imperial Government warning immigrants who intended to come out to Australia that they ought not to come to work on the sugar plantations as such work was entirely unsuitable. I think that he very properly drew attention to that fact. I consider that it was an improper statement to be made by the Imperial authorities, who had absolutely no actual knowledge of the facts. 1 believe that, it was rather calculated to deter British people. whom we are exceptionally desirous to have as residents of Australia, from coming here. But although I find fault with the Imperial Government for publishing such a statement to the British people, I can find a strong excuse for them in having done so, because they merely took the assurances given year by year bv the sugar-planters whom Senator Chata-way is so fond of representing, and who were continually howling that white men could not work in North Queensland, that a colour line ought to be drawn across the State, that only black men ought to be employed north of that line, and that even if the white man could work there he would not, or that if he could and would, he ought not to be allowed to do so, as the work was so killing. How can honorable senators blame the Imperial Government for having published such a statement in those circumstances?
– I do not think that the honorable senator will find that such statements as he has made were alleged with regard to Northern Queensland.
– They have been urged by the honorable senator’s partyover and over again.
– And by himself.
– And by himself.
– That is not correct.
– If the honorable senator looks at the report of the growers’ conference he will see that it is reported that a Mr. Chataway- was present ; and I remember a gentleman occupying a prominent and influential position in that conference saying that God Almighty made North Queensland for the kanaka, and the kanaka for North Queensland j and he even had the blasphemous audacity to say that the Almighty created the nigger in order that the white man might make a profit out of him !
– It is perfectly true that that was said, but I did not agree with it.
– That is a sample of the way in which the sugar-growers regard the labour question generally. The honorable senator says that he did not agree with the gentleman whom I have quoted. Yet he was yoked with that gentleman in double harness in fighting against a White Australia. For my part I have never had a word to say against the kanaka in his own country. I have no hatred for any people or anycountry. But I do say that it was a cruel thing to bring the kanakas to Australia, because they were killed off wholesale when we got them here. That is a strong statement to make, but the statistics of Queensland prove it to be perfectly true. Although the kanakas came to Queensland in the prime of life - between the ages of eighteen and forty - not old people, but strong and healthy young men whose death-rate ought to have been particularly low as compared with that of the white [population - their death-rate was, as a matter of fact, two or three times as great as that of the whites. In other words, we killed them off at three times the rate at which the white people died. And really that death-rate does not represent a true proportion, because, there being no old people or young children amongst the kanakas, their death-rate ought to have been lower than that of the whites, who, of course, included the very young and the very old, amongst whom the death-rate would be naturally much higher. If we take that fact into consideration, the death-rate of the kanakas was four times as great as that of the white people.
– Is not that a strong argument against putting white people in North Queensland ?
– No, because we can show that the death-rate amongst the white people was remarkably low.
– Oh, was it?
– Yes, it was.
– The death-rate amongst the natives of Papua working in the mines in 1905 was many times as great as that amongst the kanakas in Queensland.
– The fact which I have quoted shows that the kanakas were not brought to Queensland for the love of them, or in order to civilize them or convert them to Christianity ; but that those who imported them killed them off very rapidly.
– They died off.
– Of course, no man is ever killed without dying. In my opinion a man who sweats or starves his employes to death is morally just as guilty of killing them as if he murdered them with an axe. Coming back to the Governor-General’s Speech, there are in it one or two points to which I wish to refer before concluding. We are told by the Governor-General that, after his visit to the Northern Territory, he feels confident that the tour of inspection made bv members of Parliament must prove of great value in our deliberations on the proposed transfer. I agree with Senator Chataway and with every other senator who has spoken in this connexion, that it is in the highest degree desirable for the wellbeing of Australia that the Northern Territory should be taken over by the Commonwealth. I am not one of those who intend to cavil at the cost of taking it over, or at any reasonable cost that may be incurred in developing it. I believe that even though the cost amounted to halfamillion a year, such money spent in developing that great territory would be well spent.
– Where is the money to come from ?
– I have certain ideas with regard to the best method of raising the money, which, before I sit down, I shall be happy to explain for the benefit of my honorable friend. He is quite right in thinking that the financial question is a serious one, which will have to be faced, not only in regard to the Territory, but also in regard to other projects with which we are brought face to face. I deplore the fact that, as to the Northern Territory, the Government has done just the same as it has done with the matter of old-age pensions, namely, mixed it up with other things with which it has nothing to do. If Ave are to take over the Northern Territory we should be entirely untrammelled by any conditions which might hamper our action in any course which we desire to pursue in the best interests of the country.
– No bargaining.
– There should be no haggling and bargaining in connexion with it. But if we could take over the Terri.tory without other questions being mixed up with it, I believe, to put it in commercial parlance, that it would be a highly paying speculation.
– The honorable senator is ready to be generous with other people’s money.
– As a taxpayer myself, I should expect to pay my share of the expenditure.
– An equitable proportion.
– I should not want to pay an inequitable proportion. The question of taking over the Territory should stand on its own merits, as every proposal should. Otherwise there are likely to be difficulties in connexion with the transfer. Another matter which has been well canvassed all over Australia, both inside and outside Parliament, is that of the mail con tract fiasco - because it was a fiasco pure and simple. I do not deny that if the contract had been carried out in its entirety it would have been a good thing for Australia.
– It was only a bunch of carrots all the time.
– A bunch of carrots generally presupposes a donkey chasing it. Whether the honorable senator wishes to pose in that capacity, I do not know.
– I had nothing to do with the contract.
– If he means that the Government held out a bunch of carrots I do not understand him. But in my opinion’ the contractors never had any idea of carrying out the contract on the original terms. They wanted all the time to get a further guarantee as a means of raising the money. Australia was asked to make itself responsible for the capital. Why should not Australia get the capital and build the steamers without being beholden to any one?
– The honorable senator will be called a Socialist.
– I am a Socialist, whether they call me one or not. I never knew a man who was not a Socialist, although I have met many men too stupid! to know that they were Socialists. Is there anything very dreadful about a proposal that the Commonwealth should own its own mail steamers any more than that a State should own its own railways? Is it not just as reasonable that the Commonwealth, having a necessary service to perform at sea for its citizens in the carriage of mails and goods, should provide the mail ships as that a State, having a necessary service to perform on land for its citizens in the carriage of goods and mails, should build a railway for its people? Is there any essential or tangible difference between the two propositions?
– The great difference is that the one service is performed on our own territory, and the other service is performed on the open sea, which belongs to the whole world.
– The sea is just as open to us as to any one else. There is only one excuse for a country to undertake any of these enterprises, and that is that it is done for the benefit of the citizens. Whether the service is to be performed on the open sea or on our own land, or on the land of another country, I am in favour of its being undertaken by the State every time.
– Even if it were to carr the mails by means of balloons?
– Yes. We know that our producers are in the hands of a shipping ring, which exacts the last farthing it can screw out of its customers by means of undue freights. The secondary proposal of the mail-contract syndicate was practically that Australia should make itself responsible for the greater portion of the capital. In other words, that we should guarantee the interest while they used the capital. That was a preposterous proposal, and one which should not have been entertained for a moment by any sensible business men, because if we are to be responsible for raising the money for the syndicate to render a service for us, why should we not raise the money ourselves and perform the service? Why must we have the syndicate as intermediaries? I have heard a great deal said about the action of Victoria. I heard a Victorian representative in another place say, not later than last night, that no State should interfere in the matter or should be responsible for any portion of the capital. I do not hold with that view. If Victoria owned a line of mail steamers, I should sooner treat with that State than with any private individuals. I do not take a narrow parochial view of the question. I should be glad to see any State, if the Commonwealth has not the pluck to establish a line of mail steamers, undertake the service. I should be very pleased indeed to see any State enter into a contract with the Federal Government for the carriage of its mails.
– It is better that a State should be the first robber than that an individual should be.
– Undoubtedly, because Australia would have a portion of the benefit derived.
– The benefit of robbery !
– I have never known an instance in which a State was the owner of a public function, such as a railway, where it acted in the capacity of a robber. I believe that there is always an effort made to reduce the rates and charges to the lowest possible amount.
– Does the honorable senator think that 10s. a night is a reasonable charge for a bed in a railway train ?
– -Possibly it would be a guinea if private enterprise were running the railway. We know that the charges of private enterprises in Australia are fully 50 per cent, above the charges made by a State railway in the same locality. That I think is a sufficient answer to those who object to the Commonwealth establishing a line of mail ships. It may be said, in fact it has been said by some persons, that under the Constitution the Commonwealth has not the power to enter into an industrial enterprise of that kind. But with all due respect to these constitutional authorities, I venture to say that if it were necessary for the Commonwealth to establish a line of mail steamers, the very fact that we have power to deal with the question of mails would give us the power to build the ships to carry therm, in just the same way as our power to deal with defence would give us the right to-morrow to establish an arms and ammunition factory if we chose. Whenever we are faced with the need for doing anything of this kind, we are always told by the Government, and by honorable senators on the left of the Chair, that it would be unconstitutional, but whenever they want to do anything they never find a constitutional difficulty even when it is staring them in the face.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the conditions of the one are different from the conditions of the other?
– On the authority of a Justice of the High Court, I shall show where these honorable senators ignore constitutional difficulties. In paragraph 12 of the Governor-General’s Speech, the Government say -
To meet the situation created by the decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the case of Webb v. Outtrim, a Bill will be introduced preventing decisions on matters relating to the distribution of powers between Commonwealth and States being pronounced by two Courts of Final Appeal, and to confirm the High Court in its position as the final interpreter of the Constitution in this regard, except when the High Court itself certifies that the matter is one which ought to be decided by the King in Council.
I approve of the Government doing that; but “that position has come about because of a decision of the High Court with regard to the payment of income tax to the States by Federal servants. In paragraph 13 of the speech, the Government go on to say -
The exemption of the Federal official salaries and allowances from State income tax having been finally re-affirmed by the High Court, My Advisers propose to submit to you a measure which, while recognising the soundness of the constitutional principles upon which that exemption is based, will permit the taxation of such salaries and allowances, by authority of the Federal Parliament, under conditions safeguarding the authority of the Commonwealth.
They admit that, on any question affecting the interpretation of the Constitution, the High Court is the final Court of appeal, and yet when it has affirmed that it is unconstitutional for a State to impose an income tax on the salaries of Federal servants, they propose to bring down a Bill to do what the High Court has said is unconstitutional.
– The High Court never said anything of the kind.
– Let me quote a sentence from the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins on the application for a. certificate under section 74 of the Constitution in Flint v. Webb: -
As to the suggestion that the Federal Parliament may make its grants of salary subject to the rights of the States to tax them, I merely refer to it, because I do not at present want to be committed to any definite view on the subject. At present I cannot see how, if an income tax upon the salary of a Federal servant is made invalid by the Constitution, the Federal Parliament can alter the Constitution by making the income tax payable.
His Honour cannot see how this Parliament can pass such legislation, and yet we have the Ministry rushing in where angels fear to tread.
– The honorable senator ‘knows that it is his side of the Chamber which makes this proposal.
– I do not claim possession of any side of the Chamber. What I wish to point out is that whenever the Government or members of the Free-trade anti-Socialist Party want to block anything being done, they immediately raise the cry that it is unconstitutional, but when they want to do a thing, although the constitutional difficulty is looming up as large as a rock, they ignore it and go on their way smiling.
– Do not join us with the Ministry in this matter. It is not the Opposition, but the Government who make the proposal .
– The honorable senator would be very glad to be joined to the. Ministry. Not very long ago the party he belongs to would have been: glad to have had a coalition with most of the members of the Ministerial party.
– Give us a show, and see what we will do.
– I cannot block the honorable senator from any action which he chooses to take, and, therefore, I fail to see why he should ask for my permission. I quite approve of the principle that either in a State or in the Commonwealth there should be no class exempted from any special taxation; but how, in the face of the opinion I have quoted from the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins the Government can propose to ask this Parliament to declare that a certain thing is constitutional when the High Court has said that it is unconstitutional, is more than I can understand.
– If I understand its decision, the High Court has never declared that it is unconstitutional.
– The High Court decided that Federal servants were not liable to pay income tax.
– That is because of a defect in our own legislation.
– I would like the honorable senator to point out in the judgment one word in regard to a defect in our own legislation.
– I have read the report carefully.
– I have read the report, too; and I would just as soon take the opinion of Mr. Justice Higgins as ‘I would that of any man in Australia.
– There was a suggestion in the first case that the position might be remedied by legislation.
– Read the remarks of the Chief Justice.
– Sitting there in a judicial capacity, Mr. Justice Higgins said that he did not see how it would be possible for this Parliament to intervene. I am inclined to place as high a value on his deliberate opinion as on the opinion of any man I know in the Commonwealth.
– I hope that the honorable senator will quote the opinion correctly.
– The honorable senator can find the opinion of Mr. Justice Higgins on the last page of the report.
– The opinion of the Chief Justice?
– No, the opinion of Mr. Justice Higgins.
– His was not the decision of the High Court.
– I did not say that I was quoting from the Chief Justice. I made the quotation to illustrate that there is not much force in the argument that we have not the constitutional right to build steamers and engage in the carriage of mails, and, incidentally, of goods and passengers. I believe that it would be just as beneficial to the producing interests and the travelling public if the Commonwealth had a line of mail steamers a$ it is to the producing interests and the travelling public for the States to own railways. I believe it would be equally profitable to the people of the Commonwealth. When the negotiations were going on Ministers announced that there was a combination of capital organized absolutely for the purpose of preventing those who were contracting for the mail service from raising the necessary money in England. When we are face to face with a combination organized in that way in order to fleece the public of Australia, why should we not step in for the protection of the public and build a line of steamers for ourselves? In all seriousness, I ask what good reason can be advanced against the adoption of such a sensible and business-like course. There is no business person who will not admit that if he can find the necessary means to carry out a certain work it will pay him better to do it for himself than to employ others who must, in their turn, look about for the means to perform the work. If that be true of an individual, why is it not equally true of an aggregation of individuals forming a State or a Commonwealth ?
– That is straightout State Socialism.
– Of course it is. I have never gone behind a curtain or behind any one’s back to advocate State Socialism. I believe in it, and Senator St. Ledger believes in it to a degree.
– No, I do not.
– The honorable senator will run to a socialistic telegraph office to-morrow to send a telegram. He will await the arrival of the socialistic postal messenger to get his mail. He will walk over a socialistic road in returning to his lodgings to-night ; and he will expect a socialistic army to defend the public property of the country when the hour of danger arrives. Yet the honorable senator says he is not a Socialist. I always knew that there were a number of people so dense as to be unable to discover whether they are State Socialists or not.
– That is cheap.
– Why not start a cooperative steam-ship company of our own ?
– That is just the proposal which Senator Givens is making.
– I must ask honorable senators not to continue their interjections.
– I think I have occupied a sufficiently long time with my re marks, but I wish to say that, in my opinion, one of the most serious problems with which, in view of the growing obligations of the Commonwealth and the growing needs of our people, we are faced at the present time, is the problem of finance. The question is intimately bound up with many of the proposals indicated in the Governor-General’s Speech. To carry out our pledges to the people of Australia, and to meet their needs, we should immediately establish an old-age pensions scheme, and that will involve an additional expenditure of about £1,500,000 a year in round figures.
– Not as much as that.
– It will amount to that if anything like a decent pension is to be paid.
– It would not mean an additional burden upon the people to the extent of that amount, because the establishment of a Federal scheme of oldage pensions would relieve the States in which similar schemes already exist ; but we should have to raise that amount of money. Then we propose to take over the Northern Territory, and to do anything decent with it will require at least another £250,000 a year.
– It will require £1,000,000.
– I said £250,000, and I meant it. If Senator Gray, when he addresses the Senate, insists that it will take £1,000,000, I shall not have the slightest objection. Then we have proposals for the establishment of an Australian Navy, which will entail a heavy demand upon the public pocket, and there are other Federal services which must be provided for. It is proposed to establish a Federal system of quarantine, and to take over the control of lights and beacons. All these services will involve increased expenditure, and yet there is not a word in the Governor-General’s Speech as to how that increased expenditure is to be met.
– The honorable senator has forgotten the Bounties Bill.
– Bounties of course involve money. Then the honorable and gallant senator Colonel Cameron, in moving the Address-in-Reply, told us that another £1,000,000 a year should be spent on defence.
-Col. Cameron. - £800,000 will do.
– Then the honorable senator was not quite so greedy as I thought. But £800,000 is not very far short of £1,000,000, and in drafting his large schemes in such a loose way, the honorable senator might easily slop over from the £800,000 into the £1,000,000. Neither the Government nor Senator Cameron have had a word to say as to how we are to provide the additional money required for defence.
– Perhaps the honorable senator will suggest a way.
– I propose to do so. But perhaps it would be right for me to deal first of all with Senator Cameron’s suggestion. In a perfectly cool and calm way the honorable senator told us that, wherever the money is to come from, it must be found.
– And if it is not found the honorable senator will no longer support the Government.
– If it is not found the Government must go out immediately, if not sooner. Senator Cameron very properly said that we in Australia should make something like an adequate provision “for our own defence. I agree with him in that to the full. We should not loaf upon the mother country to do it for us. We should be prepared as any loyal and bravespirited people would be, to defend ourselves. But no matter on what lines we establish our Defence Force, whether as a standing army, a purely volunteer force, or a militia force, it will cost money. There must in any case be considerable expenditure for armament, ammunition, training, clothing, and various other things. Senator Cameron has admitted that we should require another £800,000 a year to provide for an’ adequate defence force. The question arises, where is that money to be got, and who are the people who should pay it? What is a defence force primarily for ? It is to defend the country. If that be so, those who own the country should be compelled to pay for defending it.
-Col. Cameron. - Does not the honorable senator own the country?
– For every square inch that I own, Senator Cameron owns a square mile, yet’ he would expect me to contribute through the Customs and Excise taxation as much as he would contribute himself to secure the defence of his property.
-Col. Cameron. - Why should not the honorable senator do so, when he gets so much out of the land already ?
– I get no adequate return from the land, nor do the people of Australia as a whole.
-Col. Cameron - Do they not? What about their high wages?
– The high wages paid in Tasmania ! I thought I had exhausted all my capacity for surprise, but I must confess that I am surprised when I am invited to consider the high wages paid in Tasmania.
-Col. Cameron. - What about the sugar bonus the honorable senator was talking about, and ‘which we in Tasmania have to pay through the nose for?
– The honorable senator wants to side-track me, but he will not succeed. I think that it would require a very small insurance fee, amounting probably to no more than 10s. per cent, on the value of private property, to insure for Australia the establishment of a more efficient defence system than even Senator Cameron desires. I .ask the honorable senator whether that is too high an insureance fee to ask property-owners to pay for the defence of their own property ?
– Why should not the charge be distributed over the whole population ?
– Because all the people are not equally interested.
-Col. Cameron. - I thought the honorable senator just now said that they were.
– For instance, the man in the city of Melbourne most interested in the defence of the country is undoubtedly the man who owns most property in that city.
– The man with the large family.
– I do not know that the man with the large family would have so much to regret if there should be a change in the Government of the country. There are several families in Australia to-day who could not, as the result of any change in the Government, be much worse off than they are at the present time. War destroys property, and often changes the owners of property, and is it an unreasonable thing to say that property -owners should pay for the protection of their property, and should not be continually loafing upon people who own no property and expect them to pay for the defence of that which they do not own?
– What about the loafing of people who are doing nothing to protect themselves?
– The working man is often spoken of in the most scornful terms, but in the time of national danger he is called upon as a noble and patriotic person to defend his country, though he has not an inch of country to defend.
– Why should he not be called upon to defend it?
– I must ask honorable senators not to interject so constantly.
– Every man should defend his country, but no man should be asked to contribute a portion of what he really requires to provide the necessaries of life for himself and his family in order to pay for the defence of property which he does not own. The land-owner is the man who takes everything and gives nothing in return.
– Surely the honorable senator does not want the charity of the land-owner ?
– I do not, and I should not take it if it were offered to me. But I do want an absolutely fair deal.
– The honorable senator is trying now to take charity from the land-owner.
– Order. I must ask honorable senators not to carry on conversations with the senator addressing the Chamber. It is very well to make an interjection occasionally, but I think honorable senators are carrying the practice a little too far.
– The land-owner is the man who derives the greatest benefit from the exertion, enterprise, and energy of the whole community. He is the one man who continually reaps benefits for which he has not toiled.
– He continually reaps the results of enterprises in which he has not engaged, and derives large profit from the expenditure of public money to which he has contributed only the same quota as anybody else. Let me illustrate, for a single moment : Let me ask Senator Cameron what would be the value of his property if there were no population in Tasmania. It would not be worth per acre.
– It would be worth a great deal more than it is, if it had not been for the mismanagement of people who spent public money irresponsibly.
– That is not an answer to my question. I do not know whether there has been great mismanagement of public money in Tasmania, but having made the acquaintance of Senator Cameron I am quite prepared to believe that there has.
– The honorable senator did not misspend any of it.
– I am willing to believe that also. We have spent many millions of public money in the construction of railways in Australia, and lias not that expenditure been a potent factor in the enhancement of the value of private property in land ? What would the private lands held iu Australia be worth if those millions had not been spent on railway construction ?
– Far more than they are worth now.
– I can have no hope of convincing an honorable senator who argues: that way. It is a patent fact that even Senator Cameron will admit that if all the railways coming into Melbourne were suddenly cut off to-morrow so as to prevent the traffic of goods to and from the city, and cut off all the city’s communication by rail with the back country, the value of property in Melbourne would be enormously depreciated.
– How about the country? The honorable senator is talking about the country.
– The country is in exactly the same position. Directly a railway is built, the land alongside it is enhanced in value without any exertion whatever on the part of the actual owner. We know that people when they find there is a likelihood of a railway coming to a place buy land there in order to get the speculative value. They sit down and wait till the railway comes along in order that they may sell out at an increased price. That is a common and every-day practice all over Australia.
– We should all do it if we got the chance - even the biggestSocialist amongst us.
– I am not blaming them at all. I am only stating a fact.
The unearned increment - the added value - is created by something over and beyond what the actual owner of the land does. It is given to the land by the exertion, industry, and enterprise of the people of the whole community.
– That is an argument for making your taxation uniform all round, and not progressive.
– Perhaps so. The honorable senator will agree with me that it is the community which creates that added value.
– I hope the honorable senator will agree with me that it is an argument against a progressive land values tax.
– That raises another important point of public policy. Admitted that it is the exertion, the industry, and the enterprise of the public in its various forms that creates the enormously enhanced value of land - and that cannot be denied - it is only right and just that the people should ask that a small portion of the value which they themselves have created should be applied to the necessary public services of the country, and not confiscated by private owners. I know of no public service for which we are better entitled to ask for a portion of that increased value than the task of defending the country.
– Senator Cameron will be with the honorable senator now.
– No, he is not. He wants the people who have no property to share to the full the honour and glory of defending the property of those who have it.
– Why should they not?
– The honorable senator is the most generous individual in the Chamber. He does not want to deprive anybody of the slightest scintilla of honour or glory that he may desire to get by defending the property of others.
– I suppose the honorable senator recognises that a tax on the propertyowners would mean a tax on the tenants ?
– The chief incentive I have to the advocacy of a progressive land tax is a desire to abolish the blighting curse of landlordism in the country.
– Would the honorable senator abolish the tenant by making him a small landlord, and then abolish him as well?
– No one has advocated anything of the sort.
– It looks like it.
– I am not responsible for what the honorable senator thinks my argument looks like. I am only responsible for what it actually is. My argument is that one of the worst things that could happen to this young country would be to allow the blighting curse of landlordism which has frozen the country people out of the old country, depopulated Ireland to the extent of half its population in half a century, depopulated the Highlands of Scotland, and largely depopulated the rural districts of England, to find a footing here.
– Do not have any farmers in this country at all, then.
– My desire is to see the country, wherever it is suitable for farming, populated with farmers from one end to the other. I like to see their smiling, happy homes peeping out from amongst the trees wherever I go. When 1 see a country a desert, a howling waste, with nothing but a few flocks of sheep or herds of cattle on it, I know there is something wrong with the management of the country that allows such a state of things to exist.
– Then the honorable senator would do away with small freeholds?
– It is no part of the functions of this Parliament to interfere with the freehold in any way.
– The honorable senator is arguing for doing away with property.
– I have not said a single word about doing away with property from the beginning to the end of my speech.
– What are the landowners but property-owners ?
– Because I would do away with the land-owners, it does not mean that I would try to do away with the land. I am not a fairy giant to be able to take up the land and put it in my pockets, and hurl it into the middle of the Pacific.
– Is not the freeholder the land-owner?
– Of course he is.
– The honorable senator said he would do away with the landowner.
– I said I would do away with the blighting curse of landlordism. I would not abolish the land, although I would abolish the man who monopolized the land.
– Every one is a landlord who owns property, whether an acre or a hundred acres.
– When honorable senators have finished trying to correct mistakes that do not exist, I snail proceed with my remarks.
– Does this condition exist in Australia?
– It does to a very large extent.
– I must ask honorable senators not to put questions in this way to the honorable senator who is addressing the Chamber. That honorable senator is the only one entitled to speak, and if any other honorable senator wishes to address the Senate, he should address it through the President.
– In reply to Senator Cameron’s interjection, it is a fact patent to everybody who has studied the conditions of Australia that we are rapidly approaching here the conditions that obtain in the old country, inasmuch as the people who own large areas of land very often withhold it from its best use, and even where it is being put to its best use it is by letting it to tenants who have often to submit to the most exacting and crushing terms. The halves system of farming and dairying which obtains in Victoria and in parts of New South Wales is about the very worst form of rack-renting and landlordism that could possibly exist in any country. It is worse even than the worst rackrenting that ever took place in the most rack-rented portion of Ireland, where landlordism has been generally recognised to be an unmitigated evil. I have gone through portions of New South Wales and Victoria in which there are just as many tenant farmers in proportion as in any part of the old country. That is a thing I want to obviate in this country if possible. That the land is the proper thing to bear the cost of defence will hardly be denied by anybody who studies the question impartially. Defence is mainly for the protection of the property of a country, because after all the number of lives sacrificed, especially if you let everything go bv the board, would be very small. What you are really defending is (property. Undoubtedly the highest ambition and noblest desire anybody could have is to defend and maintain the integrity and independence of his country, but behind that integrity and independence is always the question of property, and it is the propertyowners who would suffer most in the case of disaster. Many of them would be ruined, whereas the man who had no property might not be injured to any great extent. It is therefore only a fair proposition that by far the greater portion of the burden of defending the country should fall upon those who derive a benefit from the expenditure of the moneyspent in defence, and those are the propertyowners. It would only amount to a tax of about £ per cent, to spend far more even than Senator Cameron advocated in moving the adoption of the AddressinReply, and surely it is not too much to ask the land-owners to contribute so much towards the defence of the property they value so highly and hold so dear.
– It might be called an insurance tax.
– It would be actually an insurance tax, and I do not think it would be an excessive one. Senator Millen asked me just now why we did not advocate an all-round tax.
– That was in view of the arguments the honorable senator was then addressing to us.
– I replied at the time that another important point of public policy was involved in that question. That point is that we, as a national Parliament, have a right to demand that the country we are called upon to govern is put to the very best national use. We have to look at it from the national standpoint, and to enact such laws that the very best possible national results will follow without allowing a loophole for any national disaster to creep in. One of the first essentials for the national well-being of this country, for its safety and defence, is to have a large population. There is no inducement for that large population to come here when by far the best of our land - the land most suitable and accessible at this moment for closer settlement - is locked up in the hands of private monopolists. Go anywhere you like through Australia, on any railway line you choose, and you will find along it vast areas of really good land held by station -owners and squatters and land monopolists of various kinds, who do not put it to the best use, but run sheep and cattle on it, and where those areas could support in comfort and prosperity hundreds and thousands of people, they do not perhaps support more than five. That such a system is possible is a danger to the national wellbeing, and it is the duty of this Parliament to devise a remedy, because anything that affects the national well-being of Australia is undoubtedly a matter that closely concerns this Parliament. 1 hat is why we propose a progressive land tax, in order to insure that the land shall be put to its best use. The tax which was proposed was an exceedingly mild one. T am afraid that it was rather too mild to be as effective as I should like.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that it is equitable for a man to walk off with £5,000 worth of increment created by the public, while it is an iniquity for another man to walk off with £5,001 worth?
– We do not say so at all, but we do say that the man with £200,000 worth of property is a much greater danger and enemy of the public weal than the man with only £5,000 worth, and that we should proceed to deal with the big estates first, and burst them up as soon as we can. Then if a public necessity arises afterwards perhaps the exemption could be reduced if it was found necessary.
– The other man’s turn will come.
– There is the further principle which we have always recognised that it is neither just nor politic to tax a man upon what is necessary to him. We have never believed in taxing the necessaries of life, or in taxing any man in such a way that he would have to go short of them. For that reason we hold it to be neither desirable nor necessary to put any tax whatever on the man who has only sufficient land from which to make a living.
– But the honorable senator taxes his clothes.
– I would not put a farthing tax upon his clothes if I could help it.
– Then the honorable senator will vote against any taxation on clothes ?
– I shall vote for the highest duty I can get on clothes, but that does not mean a tax on clothing, because I want the clothes made in Australia bv Australian workmen, and the possibility is that in a very short time we shall get a better,’ cheaper, and honester class of goods than we should if we got all the great importers to ransack the world. One reason why we advocate a progressive land tax is that we want to burst up the big estates and to create a large population in the rural districts of Australia. That can be done in no other way that I know of than by a progressive land tax. Honorable senators can talk about the compulsory resumption of estates, but that scheme is absolutely useless. It simply means that when the Government proceed to buy land compulsorily, supposing they have £500,000 to spend, land increases in value immediately. There are forced sales, and the sellers put the price up. The consequence is that the men who go upon the land have to pay an increased price for it, and are probably handicapped for the rest of their lives by doing so; in addition to which there is no guarantee that the land will not revert at some future time to ownership as part of a large estate. But a progressive land tax, on the one hand, would make the land more accessible, and would also work automatically against the aggregation of estates. It is a national necessity to open up the lands of Australia for the occupation of the people. Impose a progressive land tax, and that will be done. Such a policy is not only desirable from a national stand-point, but is eminently fair and just. We are all agreed that a portion of the value created by the enterprise, energy, and ability of the people should be enjoyed by the whole people, and not be reaped by a few land-owners. But while the party to which I belong advocates this policy, what do the Government propose to do? Not only is no proposal put forward which is adequate to meet the needs of the country, but we are not told how the money is to be found to carry out those schemes which the Government forecast. To show their tenderness of feeling towards the wealthy man, the commercial man, the property-owner, and the land-owner, as compared with the rest of the community, the Government have brought down a proposal for penny postage throughout Australia. It has been estimated that we should lose about £300,000 per annum by that reform. Now, who are the people who would benefit from the establishment of the penny postage? Is it the working man, who writes, perhaps, a couple of letters a week, or is it the business man, who writes 200? Undoubtedly it is the large importer, the merchant, the stockbroker, the exchange agent, and the manufacturer who would benefit. They, indeed, are the only people who would derive any substantial advantage.
– It would filter down to every one.
– It would filter down to so infinitesimal a degree that you could take the advantage with a pinch of snuff and never know the difference. I should not object to penny postage if we had the money to pay for it. It would be a very good thing. But while we have such large [proposals ahead of us, and there are such great financial obligations staring us in the face, I am compelled to ask whether the Government is really serious in bringing forward such a proposal. The financial problems with which we are confronted are the largest with which we have to deal. When the period for which the Braddon blot section operates comes to an end in 19 10, we shall have to make some arrangement with the States. The Treasurer, indeed, proposes to make an arrangement which is worse than the present one. He would agree to make a fixed payment to the States based upon the average payments made to them during the last five years; but in addition to that he proposes that if the total net revenue from Customs and Excise received in any one year exceeds the fixed amount estimated, the Commonwealth shall pay the extra money to the States.
– Whereas, if the revenue is less, the Federation, and not the States, will suffer the loss !
– I was going to point that out. In a bad year we should have to give to the States perhaps more than three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, whereas in a good year we shall have to pay them three-fourths and as much over as we collect. Such a foolish proposal I never heard of before in my life. How we are going to meet our financial obligations, and at the same time assume enlarged responsibilities which it is essential that we should not shirk, is more than I can understand.
– I thought the’ honorable senator was going to tell us how to meet them.
– My method would be by direct taxation. Of course some people, may say that if we adopt a. highlyprotective Tariff, we shall derive an increased revenue from it. I do not hope for anything of the kind. I hope that our Tariff will be so effective that goods which we can manufacture for ourselves will not come into Australia. If that be so, imported goods will not pay duty, and our receipts from Customs and Excise will naturally decrease. I hope that they will decrease.
– Will the ships come out here empty?
– I would sooner that the ships came out here empty at any time than that the stomachs of our people should be empty from1 want of food.
– The stomachs of our own people would be empty then.
– I do not think so, by any means. ‘We can produce in Australia almost everything that the heart of man can desire. There is no earthly reason why we should not manufacture our raw material for ourselves instead of sending it abroad to be made up. We produce the best wool in the world, and then we send it to the other side of the globe to be manufactured and sent back to Australia. Why should we not manufacture our woollen goods for ourselves ? This year we shall probably import £50,000,000 worth of manufactured goods from- abroad. Of course I include spirits and narcotics, but they are just as much manufactured goods as are boots and clothes. At least two-thirds of that quantity of goods could be produced in Australia, and I hope that, under a protective Tariff, in a few years they will be produced here. That will give employment to thousands of extra workers.
– We shall have to have more people here before we can have large manufactures.
– We shall get them. When we can make the conditions of life in Australia good and comfortable for working people, they will flock to our shores of their own accord. That is the policy which I desire to see carried out in Australia, and that -is the policy which I shall always vigorously advocate, and which I hope ultimately to see adopted.
– Whatever critics of Parliament may say as to the old and musty practice of debating the Address-in-Reply, I hold that at least the present debate has not been by any means of a wasteful character. I rather incline to think that some very useful information has been placed before the Senate by several previous speakers. Such a debate affords an opportunity for honorable senators to express their views upon questions that probably would not be ventilated were such a debate to become a thing of the past. It enables us to hear the representatives of different States speak in advocacy of the varied interests of Australia, and we listen to points of view, to which otherwise we might be almost strangers. Take the question which has been discussed to-day by Senator Chataway and Senator Givens - that of the sugar industry. On every occasion when I have heard that matter debated fresh information has been furnished in regard to it. The industry seems to be undergoing the same evolutionary process as is affecting almost every other industry in Australia. The debate has also given Senator St. Ledger an excellent opportunity of proclaiming that he comes to the Senate as a man with a mission. That mission is to bring about by constitutional means the entire abolition of triangular government and the establishment of what he chooses to call constitutional government. Well, other statesmen in Australia have set themselves the same task. It .will be remembered that not very long ago a prominent politician declared that he had thrown himself in the way of the Labour Party. Senator St. Ledger has not made his declaration so strongly as that, but undoubtedly the trend of his speech was to show that the aim of his politics is the abolition of the Labour Party.
– No, of triangular government.
– He has proclaimed himself a decided anti-Socialist; and he went so far as to tell us that he had copied another important politician - no less a person than the Prime Minister himself. Senator St. Ledger declares unflinchingly that he has copied from Mr. Deakin that powerful declaration of his in favour of constitutional government, and also, of course, in opposition to triangular government, showing clearly that Senator St. Ledger is quite capable of copying all the vagaries of even the Prime Minister. But whether he will attempt to copy some of his realisms is a matter which the future alone will reveal. For instance, the Prime Minister might talk, as Senator St. Ledger has talked, of a desire to establish constitutional government. I venture to say that he would take the support of any party, or of a member of a party, when it was needed just as willingly and gracefully as probably any other politician would accept it. The criticism levelled1 at the Labour Party by Senator St. Ledger was very unfair. I think that he, as a conscientious man, must realize that some of his statements were wide of the mark. He is scarcely sufficiently ignorant of the position of political parties in Australia not to know that he was speaking incorrectly in some cases. For instance, he talked about a. combination between the Government and the Labour Party. He ought to have been in possession of substantial facts before he made a statement of that character. I am a member of the Labour Party-, and I refuse for a moment to believe that there is anything in the shape of a combination or a coalition with the present Government. I support the Government because I believe that otherwise I might sometimes have to support or oppose a Government which would be much further from my way of political thinking. Surely without a combination or a coalition a man may exercise his parliamentary vote in support of a Government when it comes in some degree nearer to his own political belief than do those who would possibly take their place were they selected from the Opposition benches ?
– Mr. Reid would do anything to get into power.
– Probably he would ; but I do not think he will ever get into office with my vote ; not that I have not the greatest respect for him as a gentleman, but because, when it comes to a question of providing and carrying out a policy for the welfare of the Australian people, I feel that his ideas as regards their welfare are sufficiently estranged from mine to at least warrant my opposition to their enactment. In common with all Australians, or at least with a very large proportion of them, I am very pleased to recognise the ability displayed, and also the achievements accomplished, by Australia’s representatives at the recent Conferences in the old country. I believe that every citizen was pleased with the very prominent” position occupied by the Prime Minister. Apart altogether from the combativeness or debatability of the questions which he may have, raised, I think it was hugely satisfactory to Australia to feel that it was represented by a man who at least showed himsel f equal to any one whom even the mother country can produce at the present day.
– The Labour Party in England did not think so.
– Probably they did not. Perhaps if they were here watching the trend of Australian politics, they might think, with me, that apart from the debatable matters which he may have been inclined to handle, the very fact, that Mr. Deakin stood out so prominently, and was recognised as standing out very prominently, was undoubtedly an honour to the Australian people. I also think that we have a right to be very pleased with the work done by our representatives at the Navigation Conference. I recognise that when they were appointed a great deal of very severe criticism was hurled at their heads by the whole of the Australian press, and by very many of our leading politicians. They could scarcely find words strong enough to express their disapprobation, but meagre as is the information which has yet reached us, we may rely sufficiently upon the cabled reports to believe that the work of our representatives was directed very much towards promoting the best interests of Australia. In fact, if they had done nothing else, I should” feel satisfied with their success in obtaining conditions which will enable this Parliament in the future to legislate freely in regard to Australian shipping. That, I think, is a considerable gain, and one with which Australia may well be pleased. In regard to the question of preferential trade raised by the Prime Minister in London, I do not propose to speak at- any length. Some time ago I expressed the opinion here that it was really a question which belonged to the English people. I still hold that’ view, and whilst a great deal of noise was made by the Prime Minister in regard to the matter, I think it is only fair to say that he knew long before Winston Churchill made the statement, long before he went Home, that the doors of the United Kingdom were bolted and barred in that regard. I think that Senator de Largie put the position clearly to-day when he said that those doors were bolted and barred bv the expressions of the English electors at the last general election. When the Tariff Bill is submitted, I shall be quite prepared to take my stand. I shall certainly be found voting with those who are legitimately seeking to promote the welfare of the great industries and the industrial classes of Australia as against all others. I shall also be. found prepared to assist in giving such protection as may seem necessary for the conservation of existing, and the establishment of new, industries. But I shall not be found ready to give to the manufacturers an absolute control of both the workmen and the consumers. When protection is fairly administered in the interests of Australia it will be a protection such as will not only secure the manufacturer in his industry, but will also safeguard the wage-earner from becoming practically the slave df his employer, and prevent the consumer from becoming a mere plaything of avaricious manufacturers, if any such persons are to be found here. When I speak of protection for the worker I have no thought of the 25s. a week men, whom our honorable friends have been speaking of, nor do I think that 28s. or 30s. a week is adequate remuneration for a toiler in, say, the starch or any other industry in Victoria, or indeed, in any part of Australia. I believe that it should always be recognised that the livelihood of the workman depends on the value of his labour, and his labour should return to him such a recompense as will at least afford him a comfortable position in the community of which he is a member, and some of the benefits of the civilization to which he gives so many of the useful years of his life, and which he is doing so very much to establish and perfect. It is because I believe that what I suggest can be done that I take up the attitude indicated. The establishmentof all industrial regulations in this direction will always be difficult.
– It would take a session extending over five years to carry out the honorable senator’s proposal in all its details.
– Never mind if it takes fifteen years, let us do it well while we are about the work. I make a considerable distinction between the Australian employer and employers in the old country. Industry in Australia is not carried on under the conditions which applied to the industries with which I was connected in the earlier part of my life. I recognised at that time that workmen were being employed by persons who were approachable, and with whom they could get into immediate touch, but our industries in Australia are very largely controlled bv the men of whom I have been speaking, and who were never nearer than London to Australia in their lives, and probably never intend to be. Consequently I recognise that there is extreme difficulty ,in dealing with industrial questions in Australia in such a way as to make provision for the protection of the workman as well as of the manufacturer. The reason is that those who are merely the mouthpieces of the capital running the show, and the wire-pullers of the men who sit abroad and take the profits of the industry, must devote their whole attention to the evasion of every industrial regulation that can be established, and to getting the longest hours of labour possible out of their working men, while giving them, in return, the very smallest possible amount of recompense that they can dole out to them. I recognise the difficulty of dealing with the extraordinary industrial conditions by which we are surrounded, but great as it may be, I do not believe for a moment that it is unsurmountable. Another matter referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech is the provision which the Government intend to make by means of a Bounties Bill for the building up of new industries in Australia. I shall not now discuss the question whether the principle of bounties is good, bad, or indifferent, because an opportunity to do so will be afforded later on. But I do sincerely hope that when the Government brings before this Parliament a Bounties Bill it will not be such a puny little twopennyhalfpenny sort of thing as that which was before us on the last occasion when We were asked to deal with the question. If the proposed measure is to have any virtue in it it must be one which will really effect what is proposed, and not merely play with the question. So much has been said of what appears in paragraph 6 of the Governor-General’s Speech that I hesitate to make any remarks in connexion with it. I think I should entirely refrain from doing so, but for the fact that the moment I heard the Speech I was impressed with the thought that there was an inordinate amount of insincerity displayed by the Government on- the question of old-age pensions. If ever there was a question which found its way into a Government policy by the sheer force of public opinion it is the question of old-age pensions. As Senator de Largie has said, it is not a party question, because the whole of the people of Australia have clamoured for the establishment of a Federal scheme. The proposal has beer very much hawked about, but no substantial attempt has ever yet been made to secure its accomplishment. Its association with other matters in paragraph 6 of the Governor-General’s Speech suggested in my mind a doubt as to whether the Government were at all sincere in the matter. Senator Givens fairly argued that it is a matter which should not be associated with any other large and debatable question. Seeing that ic . represents the demand of the people of Australia, it should stand by itself, and should be treated on its merits. It is a humane question, and deserves the best consideration we can give it. More than that, the provision for old-age pensions should be made now, and we should not continue to play with the question session after session, and Parliament after Parliament, and waste our time in little more than talk. Paragraph 6 of the Governor-General’s Speech reads -
The subject of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the Stales has been further discussed by the States Premiers, and the results arrived at will be communicated to you. The great issues affected, including the federalization of old-age pensions, will be considered in this relation.
What a glorious chance we have of realizing anything like our ambition in this connexion when such a question is to be handled by the States Premiers. So far as the present Government is concerned, it would appear that the establishment of an old-age pensions scheme depends entirely upon the generosity of what I call the anti-Federal League.
– Is Tom Price a member of the anti-federal League?
– I do not know whether Mr. Price is a member of the league or not, but I do know that almost the whole of the proceedings of the States Premiers have been directed towards the disparagement and belittlement of the Federation. I say that unhesitatingly. If, for instance, the Premier of New South Wales is to have very much say in this matter, he has already indicated to the whole of Australia that the financial questions affecting New South Wales will not be amicably settled with the Federal Government while he remains Premier of that State.
– I do not think he ever made any such statement.
– I do not think he did, nor do I think it was necessary for him to do so. He has so clearly indicated his position in regard to Federation and the financial question that we can safely anticipate the spirit in which he will meet the proposals of the Federal Government.
– Nothing of the kind.
– That is my opinion, and I am satisfied that it is shared by’ many other honorable senators. The question to which I have been referring is one which ought to be dealt with by the Federal Government, and I am convinced that its association with other important questions in the paragraph I have quoted is the clearest possible indication that the Government have no intention to make any attempt to give effect to an old-age pensions scheme during the life of the present Parliament.
– Let the honorable senator move an amendment to that paragraph.
– I shall not move any amendment. I have already told honorable senators that there are spots on the sun. Though that may be the case, and although the present Government may be bad, and may have been somewhat indolent in carrying out the wishes of the people, I very much fear that their absence from the Treasury bench would mean the presence of a very much worse Government. I therefore prefer the devil I know to the devil I do not know.
– The honorable senator cannot help the matter.
– I venture to say that I can help it as readily as can the honorable senator who has made the interjection. I can exercise my individual wi’l as readily upon all questions connected with the policy of the Government.
– Outside the caucus?
– In common with Senator Gray, I have great respect for the caucus. The honorable senator is so controlled by his caucus that I venture to say that, without its assembling, the head man and leader of the party to which’ he belongs can, by one word, influence and almost exercise the vote of the honorable senator on all questions of policy.
– We have seen it.
– We have seen it often enough. I want it clearly understood that I am in no way bound to the present Government. I am prepared to give them a very substantial support on a great deal of the programme they have put forward, and probably also on some of the omissions from their programme, which, however, may crystallize towards the end of this or another session. I regret the position in which they have placed the question of old-age pensions. That position has given birth to the doubt whether they have any intention whatever of attempting to bring the matter before the Senate as a practical question. I have no intention of discussing all the paragraphs in the Governor-General’s Speech. They have already been very fully and fairly debated. But I wish to refer to. the Northern Territory. Although, I have not had the pleasure of a trip to the Territory. I have tried to make myself acquainted with all the reports available concerning it. I presume they are from a fairly reliable source, because I do not believe for a moment that the South Australian Government would, send out reports that were likely to be very materially injured by any expert opinion the Commonwealth might seek on its own behalf. Having therefore looked up those reports, I begin to satisfy myself that this is a part of Australia that demands the very careful consideration of the Commonwealth. I have taken very great interest in the question of its mineral deposits. It seems to offer fairly good ground for an excellent mining industry. I regret that some of our friends of the yellow tribe have reached there. They seem to have a fair share of it.
– They are decreasing very rapidly.
– I hope they will decrease until they are all gone.
– It does not speak well for the country.
– No, I confess it does not speak well for a country when a Chinaman cannot live in it, although I remember how a Chinaman arrived at a very prosperous township of something like 5,000 inhabitants in Western Australia in the early days and set up in business. He stayed there until he nearly died of starvation. He then went away, and there has never been a Chinaman in the township since, but the township has grown and prospered.
– The parallel is not a good one, because the others have not prospered.
– The others have certainly not prospered, but perhaps it is because they have not had very much opportunity. I am speaking now more particularly of the mining industry in the Territory. I know the difficulties of mining very well. I appreciate the extraordinary difficulties in the way of opening up new mining fields where the means of communication are so infinitesimal as they are in the Northern Territory. I am hopeful that our best consideration will lead to something substantial being done with regard to the Territory, with benefit to the general welfare of Australia. I am exceedingly pleased that the Government propose to amend the machinery sections of the Electoral Act. The evidence of the last elections has been an eye-opener to many of us. It has almost made us doubt whether men are fit to be in charge of a ballot-box at all. Some of the information we have received through investigations leads one to conclude that it is almost too sacred a business to allow some men at least to touch. If men are incapable of doing their duty in electoral matters, or so naturally wicked that they will not perform, it, we ought to look for some other means to accomplish the work. I trust the Government will be able, when the Bill is brought forward, to make room for some provision in the direction advocated by Senator Pearce in the session before last, for the adoption of voting machines, in order to dispense, as far as possible, with the necessity for men conducting the counting of votes. In discussing electoral matters, I should like to refer to some of the proceedings of various candidates during the last election. The provision of the Electoral Act relating to the limitation of electoral expenses is being very seriously evaded. Just as in industries, so in electoral matters, there are always some men who are clever at conniving, particularly when they have plenty of money to pay for it. The Act provides that no more than a certain sum shall be spent. I was an eye-witness of an election proceeding in Perth. I watched what went on very carefully. I am not going to say who spent the money or where it came from, but the purest angel could never convince me that the expenditure of certain members of the Federal Parliament was kept within anything like the limit of
– The limit is £250 for the Senate.
– I am not speaking of the Senate, although probably the same thing might be said of candidates for it. The sum of £100 would not pay for half the motor cars that were being run. If the Act can be evaded, we ought to have some other provisions. If a man is to be allowed to spend as much money as he can, or as he has at his command, we ought to have a .provision that will require some solid information to be given about that money. If, for instance, the money is the property of the National League, it ought to appear on the election expenses accounts as money collected and spent by the National League for their candidates. If it is a grant of a few thousands - of £30,000 or £40,000 - from the Tobacco Combine to help in the election of candidates-
– Is the honorable senator speaking from knowledge?
– I said that if it is a donation of £30,000 or £40,000 from the Tobacco Combine, it ought to appear as such a donation to aid the antiSocialists in their campaign.
– That would be for the Socialists.
– There is not much fear of the Tobacco Combine assisting the Socialists. If the donation is from the Sugar Combine, it ought to be so stated. It is a well-known fact that the Act is being evaded. There is evidence of it on every hand. I hope when the amendment of the Act comes before us we shall endeavour to make it an Act to purify elections for this Parliament. I am pleased to see the Government have a,gain brought forward the question of the survey of the railway between’ Western and South Australia. I am also pleased that the Government are seemingly going to give it a fair opportunity to be dealt with in the early part of the session. That is so, according to present appearances, and if it is so, it will do away with the very just regrets expressed by Senator de Largie to-day. It will be the means, at any rate, of settling the question one way or the other. Honorable senators who made it part of their policy to oppose the survey of this line during the last elections, will find themselves in an unfortunate position, because I am satisfied that a good deal of useful information can be gained by it which may be the means of materially altering the views of honorable senators when they come to face the question in reality.
Debate (on motion by Senator Findley) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 July 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19070710_senate_3_36/>.