3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The Senate met at 2.30 p.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Govern or General .
The Clerk read the proclamation.
His Excellency the Governor-General, accompanied by Her Excellency, Lady Dudley, entered the chamber, and took the chair. A message was forwarded to the House of Representatives, intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber, who being come with their Speaker,
HIS EXCELLENCY was pleased to deliver the following speech : -
Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives :
His Excellency the Governor-General having retired,
The President took the chair at 2.52 p.m., and read prayers. .
Assent to the following Bills reported:-
Seat of Government (Yass-Canberra) Bill.
Immigration Restriction Bill.
Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
Appropriation Bill 1908-9.
THE LATE Mr. EDWIN GORDON BLACKMORE, C.M.G.
– I regret to have to inform the Senate of the death, which occurred on the 20th February last, of Mr. Edwin Gordon Blackmore, C.M.G., late Clerk of the Parliaments, and of the Senate. The late Mr. Blackmore had for many years been a close student of the laws and practice of Parliament; he was of so urbane and courteous a disposition, and brought such ability and mature judgment to bear in the discharge of his duties, that the Senate was fortunate indeed in securing such an. officer as its first Clerk. His death made a great gap in the parliamentary history of the Commonwealth, and I feel that the Senate would desire to record on its Journals the announcement of an event which bore so closely on the early history of this Parliament.
– With concurrence I beg to move -
That the announcement made by Mr. President be recorded in the Journals of the Senate.
– I beg to second the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Enoggera, Queensland : Defence purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Singleton, New South Wales : Defence purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Coff’s Harbor, New South Wales : Postal purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Kyamba, New South Wales : Commonwealth purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Wentworth Falls, New South Wales : Postal purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Newcastle, New South Wales : Defence purposes - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Yass, New South Wales : Defence purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Shark’s Bay, Western Australia.- Return of certain Commonwealth Property leased to State Government.
Public Service Act 1902 - .
Department of Home Affairs, Central Staff. - Documents recommending the following appointments : -
Captain John H. R. King to be Inspector of Rifle Ranges, and Messrs. ThomasOxenham and Robert Stanley Orr to be Clerks of Works, Professional Division,. Public Works Branch.
Mr. Gerald Lightfoot to be Computer,. Class E, Professional Division, Commonwealth Statistician’s Office.
Mr. David W. Crawford to be Draughtsman, Class E, Professional Division, Public Works Branch.
Department of Trade and Customs, Central Staff - Documents recommending the following appointments : -
Mr. Percy Collier Barnes to be Junior Assistant, Class F, Professional Division, Analyst’s Branch.
Mr. Arthur Sidney Higgs to be Assistant Examiner, Class F, Professional Division, Patents Branch.
Mr. H. C. Otto Willgerodt to be First Assistant, Class E ; Mr. Colin Ernest McKenzie to be Second Assistant, Class F; Mr. Bruce T. Paton to be Third Assistant, Class F; and Mr. Howard R. Jupp to be Junior Assistant, Class F, Professional Division, Analyst’s Branch.
Postmaster-General’s Department. - Documents in connexion with the following promotions : -
Mr. James Charles Thomas Vardon, to the position of Chief Clerk, 1st Class, Central Staff.
Mr. Percy Howe, to the position of Senior Clerk, 2nd Class, Central Staff.
Mr. Johann August Siegfried Kayser, to the position of Clerk, 3rd Class, Central Staff.
Mr. Thomas George Brent, to the position of Senior Inspector, 1st Class, Melbourne.
Mr. Henry James Huffer, to the position of Senior Inspector, 1st Class, Melbourne.
Mr. Frederick Charles Williams, to the position of Accountant, 2nd Class, Brisbane.
Mr. Charles Woodland, to the position of Inspector, 3rd Class, Queensland.
Documents in connexion with the appointment of Mr. John Herbert Durant, to the position of Assistant Engineer, Class E, Professional Division, Electrical Engineer’s Branch, Postmaster-General’s Department, Victoria.
List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service as on 1st January, 1909.
Repeal of Regulations 138, 262, 145, and 146, and substitution of new Regulations 138, 262, and 145 (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 125.
Repeal of Regulation 41, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 6.
Repeal of Regulations 138, 262, 145, and 146, and substitution of new Regulations 138, 262, and145 in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 26.
Repeal of Regulations 209 and 213, and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu of No. 209. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 45.
Repeal of Regulations 156 and 257-61, and substitution of new Regulations (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 44.
Repeal of Regulation 41, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 50.
Meteorology Act1906 -
Provisional Regulations 1-3 relating to the sale of Meteorological Publications. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 5.
Ordinances of1908 -
No. 12. - Supplementary Appropriation 1908-9, No. 3.
No. 13. - Marine Board.
No. 14. - Pearl and Beche-de-Mer.
No. 15.- Wild Birds.
No. 16- Timber.
No. 17. - Supplementary Appropriation 1907-8.
No. 18. - Supplementary Appropriation 1908-9, No. 4.
Ordinances of 1909 -
No. 1. - Supplementary Appropriation 1908-9, No. 5.
No. 2. - Supplementary Appropriation 1908-9, No.6.
Contract Immigrants Act 1905 -
Return for the year1908, showing -
Contract immigrants admitted into the Commonwealth; the nationality and occupation of such immigrants.
Employers engaging such immigrants, and immigrants engaged by each employer.
Places at which the immigrants have agreed to work.
Immigrants refused admission, and the reasons for such refusal.
Immigration Restriction Acts 1901-1908 - Return for the year 1908 of -
Naturalization Act 1903 -
Return of Number of Persons to whom Certificates of Naturalization were granted during the year 1908.
Papua. - Report by the Hon. Staniforth Smith, Administrator, on the Progress of the Territory; dated 25th February, 1909.
Papua. - Report by the Hon. Staniforth Smith, Commissioner for Lands, &c-, on the Progress ofthe Territory; dated 3rd April,1909. ence Acts 1903-1904 -
Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulations 516 and 526. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 128.
Amendment of Regulation 11. - Statutory Rules1908, No. 129.
Amendment of terms “ Chief of Intelligence “ and “ Military Secretary. “- Statutory Rules 1909, No. 4.
Amendment of Regulations 6, 57, and165. and new Regulations 609-614. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 7.
Amendment of Regulation 185. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 8.
Cancellation of Regulation 564, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof ; and amendment of Regulations 567, 569, and 575. - Statutory Rules, 1909, No. 9.
Cancellation of Regulation 33, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 16.
Amendment of Regulation 141. - Statutory Rules1909, No. 17.
Cancellation of Regulation 3, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof ; and amendment of Regulations a and 4. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 22.
Amendment of Regulation 68. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 23.
Cancellation of Regulation 179, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof; and amendment of Regulations 180 and191. - Statutory Rules 1909, No.25.
Amendment of Regulation110a. - Statutory Rules1909, No. 40.
Regulations (Provisional) for the Commonwealth Military Cadet Corps -
Repeal of Regulations made by Statutory Rules1907, Nos. 63, 81, 85, 87, and 121, and Statutory Rules1908, Nos. 9, 49, 52, 56,59, and 72, and substitution of new Regulations in lieu thereof - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 34.
Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of term “Chiefof Intelligence.” - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 3.
Amendment of Regulation 143. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 10.
Amendment of Regulation 143. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 12.
Amendment of Regulation 64. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 33.
Regulations (Provisional) for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulations 55 and 64. - Statutory Rules1909, No. 13.
Amendment of Regulation 148. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 46.
Financial and Allowance Regulations (Provisional) for the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth -
Amendment of Regulation 51. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 130.
Amendment of Regulation 49. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 39.
Regulations (Provisional) for the Naval Cadet Corps, and cancellation of Statutory Rules 1907, No. 19. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 28.
New Regulation hoa (Provisional), and Amendment (Provisional) of Financial and Allowance Regulation 98, for the Military Forces of the Commonwealth. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 35.
Regulations (Provisional) relating to the Landing of Sailors and Soldiers from Foreign Men-of-War and Transports. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 31.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901 -
Amendment of Postal, Parcels Post, and Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 117.
Amendment of Telegraphic, General Postal, Parcels Post, and Telephone Regulations. Statutory Rules 1909, No. 24.
Amendment of Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 37.
Amendment of Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1909,No. 38.
Amendment of Postal and General Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules1909, No. 42.
Customs Act1901. - Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 130, and cancellation of Statutory Rules 1908, No. 54. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 126.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 - Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 6 (2) (a). - Statutory Rules1908, No. 127.
Audit Acts 1901-1906. - London Account Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 131.
Audit Acts I901-1906. - Cancellation of Treasury Regulation 96 (/), and substitution of new Regulation (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 134.
Manufactures Encouragement Act1908. - Iron Bounty Regulations (Provisional). - Statutory Rules rgog, No. 15.
Excise Act 1901. - Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 21 of the Sugar Regulations. - Statutory Rules1909, No. 27.
Sugar Bounty Act 1905. - New Regulation12a (Provisional). - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 43. Audit Acts1901-1906 -
Transfers in connexion with the Accounts of the Financial Year 1908-9 -
Dated19th December, 1908.
Dated 8th January, 1909.
Dated9th February, 1909.
Dated 5th March, 1909.
Dated 1st April,1909.
Dated 23rd April,1909.
The Clerk laid upon the Table
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until to-morrow at 2.30 p.m.
– I have to report to the Senate that His Excellency the Governor-General attended ‘here to-day, and was pleased to deliver a speech (vide page 5) expressing the reasons for the calling together of Parliament, copies of which have, I believe, been distributed to honorable senators.
– I beg to move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech 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 vou have been pleased” to address to Parliament.
In submitting this motion I may say that it appears to me - if we may judge from the speech which the Governor-General has read - that the Senate will undoubtedly have plenty of work to do during the coming session. The business with which we are confronted may very well be classified under one or two headings. Firstly, there is work of a national character, which has to be carried on irrespective of party differences by the respective Houses of Parliament. Secondly, there is work of a somewhat formal character ; and thirdly, there is the work involved in some of, the larger questions, which, though of a national character, possess more or less a party complexion. Reviewing one or two items in the speech, I may observe that it is with considerable pleasure - and I feel sure that my pleasure will be shared by honorable senators opposite as well as by those on this side of the chamber - that I learn that, despite the falling revenue, the Treasures’ is ableto make the statement that provision has been made so that oldage pensions will be paid in full from the 1 st July. I believe that that intimation will give satisfaction to all members of this Chamber. It will likewise give great satisfaction to the people outside, including those who have been particularly enthusiastic in the matter of the extension of this particular act of justice and right to the old people of Australia. I was especially pleased to read paragraph 16 of the speech, which appears to me to embrace- a complete national policy for Australia. It reads as follows : -
My Advisers recognise that the effective defence of Australia requires a vast increase of the population, and that a comprehensive policy of immigration is urgently called for; but that this is impossible without increasing the facilities for the settlement of a large population on the land. Deeming this matter to be one of extreme urgency, it is proposed to bring forward at the earliest possible date a measure providing for the progressive taxation of unimproved land values, which, while providing revenue, will, it is anticipated, lead to the subdivision of large estates and cause extensive areas to be thrown open to settlement, and so offer to immigrants those inducements which are necessary to attract them in large numbers.
That to me, Mr. President, seems in one single paragraph to express, as I have said, almost a national policy for Australia; because I think that it is recognised by all parties that it is impossible for us to have a large population in this country unless there is land available for those who desire to settle upon it.
– Some honorable senators do not agree with that.
– We are agreed, at all events, that no population can live without land, although many of us may differ as to methods of dealing with the question. Man is a land animal. Consequently it is essential that land should be at the disposal of those who desire to come and settle in this country. Involved in the paragraph which I have quoted is also the question of defence. I think that all honorable senators recognise that it is impossible for the few persons who are in Australia now to hold this vast country effectually. Therefore it appears to me that the land question, the population question, and the defence question are involved in each other. The whole of the members of the Senate and of another place are, however, not agreed that immigration is dependent upon the land question. I know that there are many who desire to attract immigrants from other parts of the world to this country irrespective of the provision that is made for them, either for receiving them or for providing them with land upon which to settle in order that they may be able to increase the number of producers in this country instead of merely swelling- the already overcrowded city populations.
– Does the honorable senator say that no such provision has been made ?
– What I said was that I regretted that members were not unanimous on the subject, and that it is foolish, unjust, and ridiculous to invite people to come to Australia without making provision to enable them” to earn a living when they get here.
– Are not the States doing that now ?
– No, certainly they are not. In my opinion, the Governments of the various States, by injudicious advertising and the publication of state- ments which do not disclose the facts and the real position in Australia, are inducing men to come to the various States, practically speaking, under false pretences, and in -their endeavours to outbid each other in the competition for immigrants, practically libel the quality of the land in States other than their own.
– Does the honorable senator say that the States Governments are deliberately doing that?
– If they are not doing so deliberately, their action is an evidence of such incapacity that I am very glad that the members of the Governments against whom the charge can be made do not represent the Labour Party. I wish to congratulate the whole of the members of the Ministry upon their activity in administration during the recess. I think that no one, whatever may be our differences in regard to policy, will question the fact that those at present charged with the great affairs of this Commonwealth, have displayed an anxiety and an energy to administer well ‘the affairs of the country. I do not know that there have been many complaints of their administration. Of course, there are always complaints as to details. When we compare the activity of the present Government with the administration of previous Governments, particularly in the matter of the enforcement of the White Australia policy, we have an indication that in order to give real effect to laws placed on the statute-book, we must have sympathetic administration of those laws. I might emphasize my point in this connexion by a reference to actual figures with respect to the introduction of aliens, and particularly of Chinese. Despite the socalled efforts of the External Affairs Department to prevent the admission of Chinese to Australia under previous Governments, it was recognised for a considerable time by people in particular localities that the old “ John “ continually reappeared, strange to say, with a new face. No one will dispute the fact that despite our legislation to prevent the introduction of Chinese, their numbers in Australia were increasing I desire to congratulate the Ministry, and particularly the Minister of External Affairs, upon the energy displayed in preventing the introduction of these people. Dealing with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, I find that in New South Wales during the period from 1st January, 1908, to 12th November, 1908, forty-one Chinese were admitted on naturalization papers, but since the Fisher Ministry came into power only twenty-one have been so admitted. In Victoria the numbers were respectively 153 and 83.
– What period is covered by the first figures referred to ?
– The period between1st January, 1908, and 12th November, 1908. The second period referred to is from the time the Fisher Ministrycame into office to the end of April, 1909.
– That is to say, a periqd of twelve months as against a period of six months?
– That is so. The figures for Queensland were respectively 10 and 1. Western Australia, none during eitherperiod ; South Australia, including. Northern Territory, 2 and 1 ; Tasmania, 28 and 35 .; the totals being for the first period 234, and for the second 141. The figures with respect to those who succeeded in passing the examination test show no great change. With regard to the Chinese stow aw ays discovered during the first period referred to, as compared with the period since the Fisher Ministry came into power, the figures are for New South Wales respectively 15 and 31. Victoria, none. Queensland, o and 3. Western Australia 5 and17. The total being 20 for the first period, as against 51 for the second period. It is clear that as a result of the energy displayed by the present Minister for ExternalAffairs the admission of Chinese into this country has been prevented in a way in which it was not prevented under previous Administrations. I refer honorable senators now to the figures relating to the number of Chinese rejected on false naturalization papers. There were none in New South Wales in either period referred to. In Victoria the figures were respectively 25 and 45; and for the other States there were none so rejected in either period. These figures show not only that in the past the Chinese were suc cessfully evading the laws of this country, but also that there was such a desire on their part to come to this country that intelligent and energetic administration was required to prevent them from doing so. I wish to extend my congratulations to the whole of the members of the Ministry for their administration of their respective Departments, at the same time expressing a hope that they will long continue to administer those Departments as successfully as they have done during their short regime. I cannot avoid noticing the suppressed smiles of honorable senators. I hope that they will go on smiling as long as they live upon this earth. That is the only harm I wish them.
– Why limit it to this earth?
– Because I am very doubtful about some of them smiling in the next world. I hope that Senator Walker will not think that I address that remark personally to him. I come now to the question of defence, and particularly of naval defence. T wish to say that the events of the past few months must force any one in Australia to realizethat the conditions of defence, not only in this country, but in all other parts of the world, have completely changed. I anr not by any means an euthusiastic soldier or sailor. If I have a prejudice at all, it is against both these classes of persons, who I admit may be very desirable at times. I have no particular love for those who represent the elements of war. We must recognise that if in every country, and even if in every so-called civilizedcountry to-day, there were no soldiers or menofwarsmen there would be no war. So that, while we may be able to justify the existence of both these classes of people as ameans of defence, . there isno one who would not desire, even though it should beonlya pious aspiration, that it might bepossible to do without them. Still, it would not be desirable for us to shut our eyes to the fact that we live in a world which is not such as we might desire, but such as that we know surrounds us to-day. Particularly in a young community like Australia, we are not able to take an independent course and ignore the affairs of other parts of the world We have to recognise the conditions which have grown up in older countries. Howeverwe may concentrate our efforts to attain the ideal. We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that dangers do exist, owing to the conditions created, not by ourselves, but by others in the Old World, who may not necessarily have sought to cause them. Now, a policy of naval defence has been enunciated in Australia. I am not able to speak as a naval expert ;” but after reading the reports of those who ought to be in a position to understand the question, it does seem to me that in establishing the nucleus of a navy in the form of four ocean destroyers and sixteen river destroyers the Fisher Government have endeavoured to give the fullest possible effect to a naval policy for Australia. Taking into consideration our population, our finances, and the securing of the maximum amount _ of safety at the minimum amount of expense, I believe that their policy is the best and the only one which it is possible for us to institute to-day. 1 expect that some honorable senators will say that we should continue to depend upon the Navy of the British Isles. I do not know that in Australia there is any man who, whatever party he belongs to, would not desire, even at the present moment, that it should be possible for all of us to go to sleep and leave the British Isles to defend us. Personally, I would be particularly pleased to go to sleep, resting quite assured that, irrespective of any efforts which Australia might make in this direction, there was no likelihood of any danger occuring to us. But what is the position to-day? The leading naval experts of the Old Country and leading statesmen of not only the Old Country, but also the Dominions practically placed in a similar relation to the British Empire as ourselves, are endeavouring to formulate a policy on lines similar to those laid down by the present Ministry. That, sir, brings me to the Question of whether we could more effectively defend ourselves bv establishing a navy purely and simply for defensive purposes, obtaining the best result for the money which we have available, or whether we should make a direct contribution to the British Navy in the form of either men or money, or ships, as proposed only a few months ago. I recognise as clearly as any man the obligations we have been under to the BritishIsles for their guardianship of us in our weak and tottering days.
– And how little we have done to assist them.
– I do not think that any generous mother or noble father ever chides a son because he is too poor to give that return which some persons might think desirable.
– Does the honorable senator say that *we are too poor to assist?
– And what is more, it is doing an injustice to the Old Country to imply that it has ever complained of the contributions from her Dominions oversea.
– That was not likely to occur.
– The leading, statesmen of the Empire have distinctly disclaimed any desire to make a direct charge upon the Commonwealth or any of the oversea Dominions. It has been laid down by Mr. Balfour and others that it would be in the best interests of Australia if we were to form the nucleus of a navy which would be able to cooperate in time of trouble or turmoil with the British Navy, or that portion of it which could be spared to assist us. It has also been said that the whole Empire is in danger, and that the danger will be even greater if the Australian people do not go to the people in the little British Isles and say to them, “ Will you kindly lend us ^2,000,000 to ‘buy a ship for you?” After we had borrowed the money we would give the ship to the chaps from whom we borrowed it, and say, “We will owe it to you.” If we have to owe that money to the same community, what is the difference between that and owing the ship ? If we have to defer the responsibility of levying a direct tax on our people - a thing which I do not think any member of this Parliament would advocate - to pay for such a ship, then the only alternative is to borrow.
– Without consulting the people.
– I do not say with or without the consent of the people. I only desire to express my individual view. I do not think that the majority of the people of the Commonwealth desire to retard the development of our naval force, or to give to the British Isles a ship in the form of a Dreadnought which they do not desire.
– No fear; that matter is dead now, its advocates have all gone.
– It may be dead.
– It is as dead as Julius Caesar.
– The honorable senator knows different from that.
– It is just possible that some of those who were accused of taking a little England attitude, but who, in my opinion, took a big Australian attitude, are to-day suffering under misrepresentations, under charges of disloyalty, made by people who are alarmed whenever a panic takes place, and are not able to back up their fears with any reason. Those foolish charges have no application to the present Ministry, because they laid down a policy. They communicated with the Home authorities, and I believe that every British speaking man or woman feels that in no part of the British Empire is there an individual who would desire to stand aside when the fate of the British race was at stake. But what is the position? Those in this country who were responsible for the agitation did not think for themselves, but accepted dictation on the part of the capitalist press.
– The capitalist press, who are they?
– The same newspapers as sent my honorable friend into this Parliament.
– You are all capitalists, the whole lot of you.
– I know all about that.
– The honorable senator is now a bigger capitalist than ever he was.
– The big capitalists of Australia; were such small patriots that they could not pay for a Dreadnought without asking poor people to contribute.
– Who were the poor people ?
– I am not referring to those on the list, but to a number of so-called patriots, who, it is very noticeable, did not support the proposal which they so enthusiastically barracked for from the platform, but asked the poor people to pay by Customs, taxation. To-day we are able to review the situation calmly. What does it point to? It points to this fact, that it was engineered for political purposes, not only in this country, but in the Old Country itself.
– The honorable senator must know a lot.
– My knowledge is derived from the vote of the House of Commons. The honorable senator is not prepared to say that that House was disloyal to the British Empire because it refused to throw out the Government at the dictation of those who suffered from hysteria. On a straight-out vote of want of confidence as to whether the Parliament should- accept the naval policy of the Asquith Government, or whether they should be forced, irrespective of whether Germany went on with her policy of construction or not, to lay down eight Dreadnoughts at once, what was the reply of the House of Commons? Three hundred and fifty-three members were in favour of the Government policy of waiting and watching and developing according to the developments in other countries. Those who were anxious to lay down eight Dreadnoughts at once numbered 135. It is particularly rough, and I think particularly disloyal to their political principles, for the so-called Liberals of this country to yelp in the movement to displace the Liberal Government of the Old Country. There is a. recognition not only in the Old Country itself, but here too, that we are knocking at the door of great social reforms, and these things- are engineered to cause division amongst the ranks of the great masses of the people who are anxious to see those reforms consummated. Therefore I congratulate the Ministry upon the attitude which they took up, and I trust that, instead of purchasing ships to give them to a country which does not desire the present, and whose Government does not thank us. for the offer, we will continue to develop our own defence, keeping it to the maximum of safety for this country for the minimum expense. That brings me to the position of our military affairs. I have always been a strong opponent of compulsory military training. I have repeatedly spoken and written against that policy. At the same time I recognise as clearly as any man does the great changes which have taken place recently. When we know that 85 per cent, of the fighting ships of Great Britain are concentrated to-day about that country, we are not in a position to ignore the general condition of affairs. There is not a leading ‘country in the world which has not, during the last five years, largely increased its war expenditure. Furthermore, there is this fact - a reflection and a satire on civilization as it may be - that one-half of the revenue raised by the various countries to-day is deliberately spent on socalled defensive operations, or to adapt the words of one of our leading British states- men., the world to-day has reached that state of development that with all her so-called civilization, half the taxation is levied to maintain soldiers and sailors to .kill each . other in the so-called defence of their countries. The policy adopted is always spoken as one of defence. It is really wonderful that war should ever take place seeing that the avowed object of all these great armies is merely to defend their own territories. But our position is this : All the other chaps possess a gun. Under these circumstances, are we justified in sitting down idly and refusing to take a gun in our own hands for the purpose of defending ourselves? I do not think that we are. I recognise that with our limited population we cannot maintain a .standing army of welltrained professional soldiers. Further, it is not the desire of the democracy of Australia that such a standing army should exist in this country. In view of the fact that a democracy controls Australia, it seems to me that the only way open to us is for that democracy to guard its own interests and to, defend itself. Consequently, if the Defence Bill, on being submitted to Parliament, proves to be of such a democratic character as to require that all, from the lowest to the highest in the land, shall serve within our citizen soldiery according to their respective abilities, I believe it will be possible for me to change my mind upon this question, difficult as it may be for me to support in some form or other the principle of compulsory training.
– Is the honorable senator panic stricken?
– I am not. But I am not so foolish as to take up the attitude of saying that because I once held a certain view - notwithstanding that I have only been committed to it since I entered this Parliament - if circumstances change so that a greater danger confronts us, I will not alter my mind. To ask me not to do so would be to ask me to create a blank where I trust I have some Intelligence. Irrespective of what party may be occupying the Ministerial benches, if it be possible to preserve a real, thorough-going, genuine democracy throughout that Bill, I will endeavour to give it my support, though it will be by no means an enthusiastic support. I shall accept the principle of compulsory training, not as an ideal, but as something which is inevitable, if we are to be charged with the responsibility of defending our own country. If any serious development took place in the Old Country which rendered it impossible for it to assist us to defend the Commonwealth, I do not know that we should be. in -a very safe position on account of our small population. I wish, therefore, to deal with the necessity which exists for attracting an increased population. It has been continually asserted that the Labour Party and the Ministry are absolutely opposed to all forms of immigration. I wish! to say that I will welcome any free European immigrant to this country, conditionally that, upon his arrival, the natural wealth of the country - the land and its resources - are placedat his disposal not merely to create additional wealth, but to enable him to maintain himself and his wife and family in reasonable comfort. But, owing to the conditions which obtain to-day, owing to land monopoly, there are practically no areas available for immigrants, unless they have large amounts of capital at their disposal.
– Fudge !
– My honorable friend says “ Fudge ! “ But irrespective of his capacity to judge of what fudge is - and it is reported to me that he belongs to the school of fudge - I should be pleased to know in what part of Australia to-day a poor man can obtain land under conditions which will enable him to maintain his wife and) family as they should be maintained.
– Immigrants are coming into the various States every week.
– They are leaving Victoria.
– I am speaking of the whole of Australia. Nowhere in the Commonwealth is land available under conditions which will enable a poor man to take it up and to get his produce to market so that he may obtain a reasonable return for the energy which he expends in that production, except in a modified way. It is true that we have a few million acres in Victoria which have not been alienated from the Crown, but I should like Senator Fraser to endeavour to make a living off them. That is what I meant when I said “ except in a modified way.” The fact is that owing to absence of railway communication, to the general unsuitability of the land1, and to the expenditure that would have to be incurred to clear and develop it, it is absolutely impossible for a poor man to get upon it.
– It is impossible for a poor man to enter into many other avocations.
– Will my honorable friend say that every man should be denied the right to earn a living unless he has wealth?
– But does my honorable friend say that the State should find the capital necessary to enable every man to embark upon a business?
– No; but this country is in a very bad state when, with our unlimited areas, a young man who has received a good agricultural training is unable to obtain land under conditions which will insure him a decent livelihood. Let me briefly indicate what is the position with regard to our lands. I do not wish to enter into too much detail, for I feel sure that when the Fisher Government submit their taxation proposals later in the session, honorable senators will be afforded full opportunity of discussing their details. In this connexion, I desire to point out that land is unlike any other commodity, inasmuch as we are all more or less - chiefly more - dependent upon the land. After all is said and done, one may be tempted to say : “ Tell me the conditions of your lands, and I will tell you the conditions of your people,” because all wealth is drawn from the land, and if that land be held by monopolists, and the latter have power to extract toll of an excessive character from its users, that toll or excessive rent must be passed on to the commodities which it produces, so that, in the long run, the people have to pay. Now, land hunger in Australia is created not merely because large areas are monopolized, but because small areas are held by men who are too poor to work them. However, I do not think that anybody seriously proposes - I know that the present Government dp not - to deal with the latter class. They prefer to leave that task to the States. But they do propose to deal in a drastic fashion with the large estates which are held by the land monopolists to-day.
– Then is it proposed to nationalize the land?
– I will tell my honorable friend what we propose to do. We propose to say to the land monopolists of Australia : “ We are going to tax your big estates, because we believe that you are occupying more land than is good for the community.”
– The honorable senator believes in nationalizing the land?
– I believe in saying tothe large landholders of this country, “Make the best possible use of your land by providing employment for labour, and producing wealth with which to pay taxation, or get off that land and make room for somebody else.” I desire to see the lands of the Commonwealth put to the fullest possible use, so that they may produce the greatest possible wealth and provide material comfort for its population. The amount of taxation which the Labour Government propose to levy on landed estates is as follows : - From £5,000 to £10,000 worth of unimproved values,1d. in the £1. It is intended to exempt the first£5,000 worth of land values.
– That is the amount which the Government would leave to the States.
– That is so. Upon an estate valued at£10,000 this tax would produce £20 16s. 8d. I do not think it can be urged that we are in any way endeavouring to crush the holder of £10,000 worth of unimproved land values when we ask him to contribute£20 16s. 8d. to the revenue of this country, seeing that the larger proportion of that revenue will be spent in defence of the very land which ha occupies.
– But that is only the first charge.
– I trust that the final charge will be so heavy that some landholders will be unable to retain their land one moment after the proposed taxation has been levied, because tjhe land monopoly which exists in some parts of Australia is more than an evil - more than a difficulty - it is a national curse.
– What is the use of the honorable senator quoting figures when he experts to see a much larger rate levied ?
– I desire to quote the whole of the figures. Upon estates aggregating from £10,000 to £15,000 worth of unimproved land values it is proposed to charge1½d. in the £1. Thus an estate valued at £15,000 would pay £521s. 8d. Upon estates ranging in value from £15,000 to £20,000 the Government intend to levy a tax of 2d. in the £1, and thus a man with £20,000 worth of unimproved land values will be called upon to pay £93 16s. annually. Upon holdings aggregating from £20,000 to .£30,000 worth of unimproved land values it is intended to charge 2½d in the £1, which upon an area valued at £30,000 would be equivalent to £197 18s. 4d. Upon estates comprising from £30,000 to £40,000 worth of unimproved land values, 3d. in the £1 is to be charged, so that an estate valued at £40,000 would pay £322 18s. 4d. Upon estates aggregating from £40,000 to £50,000 worth of unimproved land values a tax of 3jd’. is to be levied. Thus upon a holding worth £50,000 a sum of £468 15s. would be collected. Upon estates valued at £50,000 and over, 4d. in the £1 is to be charged. Thus an estate worth1 £60,000 would be required to pay £636 8s. 4d. Absentees in all cases to pay id. in the £1 additional.
– That is the thin end of the wedge. What about the thick end?
– I will answer Senator Pulsford’s question as to where we are going to stop. It is true that the Government which I am supporting have proposed to insert “ the thin end of the wedge “ as my honorable friend has put it. I hope that it will be so effective that it will achieve its purpose in splitting up some of the large estates which exist to-day. But where I differ from the Government - and I recognise the difficulty which they feel - is in this: I am in favour of still further increasing the tax in the case of estates valued at over £60,000. I would still increase it in those cases until the maximum amount of land that any one individual should be permitted to hold was reached; and I would tax that individual to the full extent of is. That would mean this: Instead of playing with the question, we should say distinctly to such an individual or company that for any person or body of persons to hold more than, say, £50,000, or £60,000 or £70,000 worth of land was a danger and a menace to the community, and should net be permitted under any circumstances.
– When the honorable senator had reduced the value of the land he would propose to nationalize it?
– Does my “honorable friend think that dear land is a good thing? I have heard a good deal about a dear land policy. It may work very well to tell the man who owns land that dear land is a good thing for him, but I take it that it is a bad thing for the com munity generally. Land is only used for the purpose of producing wealth. A pick is used for the purpose of producing wealth. A shovel is used for the same purpose. Let any one go to a farmer and tell him that it is a good thing for him that his reaper and binder should cost him £300. Tell him that it is a good thing that he should have to pay a dear price for his bags or for any other commodity that he uses on his farm. He would not accept such a proposition at all.
– Tell him that dear labour is a good thing.
– Ah ! that would be quite a different proposition. It is quite possible that that is what was meant by an honorable senator opposite when he said that cheap labour and dear land would be a good thing for the land-owner.
– Who said that?
– If my honorable friend were to listen as well as he interjects he would know that I did not attribute any such statement to him. What is the position of Australia to-day in reference to land occupation? We have an area of 1,903,731,840 acres. That is an enormous tract of country. We have an area of 87,247,790 acres which has been alienated by the various States ; in process of alienation, 35,356,995 acres; held under leases or licences, 746,500,000 acres. A large proportion of the leased land of Australia consists of some of the best soil in the southern States, and some of it is held at prices as low as 2s. 6d. per 100 acres. Even here, in Victoria, the so-called Garden of Australia, where we can boast of, comparatively speaking, very few acres that are not capable of producing wealth, men are allowed to hold out of use and occupation good land at as low as Jd. per acre. When we remember the large number of men out of employment to-day, the many farmers who are wanting land, and the many farmers’ sons who are looking for it and cannot obtain it because land monopolists hold it out of use at a mere nominal rental, it must be recognised that such a condition of affairs ought not to - and it will not - be permitted to continue in Australia. The landlords - those gentlemen for whom honorable senators opposite seem at times1 particularly anxious to hold a brief - hold land, either as freehold property or under licence, for a mere song, equal in area to the whole of the following countries : - Spain, France, Germany, Austria,
Hungary, Switzerland, and Italy. What -a glorious opportunity we have before us, with territory so held more than equal to those countries in size. But those land monopolists between them are permitted to hold and keep out of use that vast area, whilst at the same time we have a land hunger amongst our people, _ and dire destitution and misery in our cities. Is it to be wondered at, when we tolerate such land monopoly, that we have nearly one half of our population in our big towns and cities? It would seem that we are. trying to perpetuate here, in this newer country, many of the worst evils that exist in the old lands of the world. I do not believe, however much we may differ in our methods as to the best means of grappling with this question, that any honorable senator thinks that the country is doing its best that has ha if its population in its cities and large towns.
– And the proportion will grow.
– I wish to be generous to my honorable friends opposite.
– The honorable senator has turned over a new leaf, then.
– I do not think that I have ever said a harsh word of my honorable friend. Indeed, I do not think he deserves hard things to be said of him. What he requires is sympathy for his mistaken opinions. I deeply sympathize with him on that score and willingly forgive him for his past. A remarkable statement has been made in connexion with the land question by the exPrime Minister, who, I trust, will be accepted as an authority on this subject. Recently, after a visit to the Tweed River, and upon his return to Melbourne, Mr. Deakin made the statement that the whole population of Australia could be dumped on land at the Tweed. Yet to-day, when a man takes part in a land ballot in any of the States of Australia, if he happens to secure a block. of land, ‘he is about as lucky as a man “who wins a Tattersalls sweep.
– And many go into land ballots for the same reason - because there is a big prize for a little sum.
– They may think that the chaps who hold the big prizes in the matter of land did not pay big sums to obtain them.
– What special privilege should be extended to the land monopolists -which ought not to be extended to the genuine agriculturist? Surely Senator Millen is not going to say to the poor man who is struggling to obtain a bit of land that he is doing a wrong in entering into one of these land ballots.
– I did not say that he was doing wrong.
– The facts in connexion with the ballots show that we have a vast number of people in Australia who are particularly anxious to go upon the soil and become producers, anxious to rear families in this country. It ought to be our policy to encourage them to settle upon the land rather than to swell the population of our over-crowded cities. But our policy at present has the contrary effect. We may not deliberately intend it ; but the fact that these men cannot get land operates in just the same way as if we deliberately meant to keep them from getting it. If the statement of Mr. Deakin be’ true as to the Tweed River, it is equally true as to the western district of Victoria. The land there will compare favorably with any land in any part of Australia. Taken as a whole, it is probably quite equal to the best that we have. Yet it is possible to travel long distances in that country, which is less than 200 miles from Melbourne, and not ‘meet a white man. Only recently I had occasion to travel from Camperdown to Lismore, a distance of 30 miles. I did not meet a single individual upon the road. Everywhere there stared me in the face the three-rail fence of the man who says “I own this land, and I refuse to permit any one to use it unless they purchase it from me at £50, £60, or £70 per acre, or unless they pay me from £2 to £4 per acre per annum rent for it.” Men ought not to be asked to go upon the land under conditions such as those. It is impossible to make a success of the enterprise if land is purchased at such a price, and it is still more impossible for a man to make a reasonable living if he has to pay such excessive rents. Yet there are hundreds of men in this country to-day who instead of working for their wives and children, who surely have a right to claim the results of their energy and skill, are merely working to provide a large annual income for men who do not cultivate the soil which they occupy. One man said to me not long ago, “I do. not farm now.” I asked him why. He said, “It pays better to let the other chap work the land and pay me rent for it.” It is merely our system of land monopoly which enables men to exact such terms from our farming community to-day. When I turn to New South Wales, what do I find? There are in that State 22,830,261 acres owned by 722 persons or companies, their holdings averaging 31,621 acres. Some people will be inclined to say, perhaps, that thev occupy the poorest land in the State. But that would be a reflection upon the intelligence of men who were acute enough to obtain possession of their land when they had the opportunity.
– The honorable senator must make allowance for those holding land in the western division, where the law compelled them to buy, and where the soil is not suitable for settlement.
– We may make whatever allowance the honorable senator likes, but it is impossible to make New South Wales contain an additional acre of land ; and while these monopolists hold that area of land it is impossible for others to settle upon it.
– A great deal of it was “peacocked” ; Senator Millen knows that.
– Whatever may be said as to monopolists holding poor land in some parts of Australia, it is certain that the monopolist of Victoria is holding the very best land. It is not on firstlass land that cultivation is taking place in this State to-day. We have sheep grazing on the first-class land whilst we have men struggling on land of inferior quality in other parts of Victoria. What is the position of land-holding in this State? Out of 27,428,489 acres of alienated land in Victoria, 633 persons or companies own 11,707,492 acres; each person or company occupying an estate of over 5,000 acres. Twenty-three persons in Victoria own estates of over 50,000 acres, the average holding amounting to 149,233 acres. I maintain that we cannot afford, in the interests of this community, to permit this condition of monopoly to continue any longer. I find, further, that in this State 525 persons own one acre out of every eight. If that is not land monopoly I do not know of any condition to which that term can be applied in any part of the world. We have 1,000,000 acres owned by 11 persons. I have no grudge against them. They are lucky individuals who took advantage of an opportunity which presented itself. But while those 11 persons are in possession of 1,000,000 acres of land, they are keeping out hundreds who ought to be cultivating the soil. Instead of 11 there is room for 1,100 individuals to live upon that area of soil. We declare for the 1,100 as against the eleven individuals who have a monopoly of this land. I wish now also to challenge the use to which the land is put. Not only do’ these individuals hold the land in monopoly, but they hold it out of production, thereby refusing to give employment to labour and restricting the production of wealth in the Commonwealth. In 1906, I2)93°>25o acres, or nearly 50 per cent., of the alienated land was held in estates exceeding 1,000 acres each. In 1908, )3>°57>9I4 acres were so held, an increase in only two years of 137,664 acres to the area held by land-holders holding more than 1,000 acres each. This indicates that land monopoly is increasing. When a large land-owner decides to sell his land it is immediately purchased by those who already hold land, and not a single additional settler is added to the community. Of the area held under freehold and leasehold, comprising 43,994,406 acres, only 4,269,877 acres are under cultivation. This must be a serious handicap, and when today people complain of the price of commodities the direct product of the land, such as bread, wheat, and meat, it must be apparent that -these commodities cannot be cheaply produced if a few members of the community are allowed to hold land in monopoly and keep it out of use. In Victoria the State Government has been compelled to abandon its policy of closer settlement because the land-holders refuse to part with their land except at such excessive prices as prevent men being placed upon the land under reasonable conditions. Seeing that the State Government of Victoria has abandoned all hope of establishing new settlers on the soil, and that owing to the operation of one branch at least of the State Legislature, the State Parliament is unable to carry into effect this desirable law, surely it must be the general desire that this Federal Parliament, that is able to exercise the necessary power, should do so in the interests of the country. I find that in 1908, of estates under 1,000 acres in area, 2,709,548 acres were cultivated, as compared with 1,329,673 acres of the area comprised in larger estates. Those holding the smaller estates cultivated ;379°°° acres more than did the large land-holders holding over 1,000 acres each. This goes to show that to encourage closer settlement is to encourage increased production, and that the small man firmly established upon the land becomes a direct producer instead of one holding the land in idleness for merely speculative purposes at the expense of the general community. I find tha.t in South Australia, excluding the Northern Territory, 304 persons or companies own 3,545.000 acres, whilst 30 persons own 1,269,764 acres ranging from 26,000 acres to 81,000 acres per holding. Coming to Tasmania, and 1 am pleased to notice that one honorable senator representing Tasmania is present who may naturally be supposed to be interested in his State, I find that that small little island, that speck in the Commonwealth of Australia, is still sufficiently large to hold some of the worst land monopolists in Australia. There are in Tasmania 551 holdings of from 5.000 to 15,000 acres each; 142 of between 15.000 acres and 40,000 acres; and 22 of from 40,000 acres to 80,000 acres. This state of affairs more fully explains the backward state of Tasmania than any other set of circumstances that I know of.
– Tasmania is not backward, and that does not explain it.
– Tasmania has not made the progress and development which might have been expected’ from the desires, numbers, and energies of her people, simply because so. much of the State has been held in monopoly by a few of the people, and has not -been put to the fullest possible use.
– That is not the case.
– The honorable senator can, of course, say anything he pleases.
– Senator E. J. Russell is availing himself of that privilege just now.
– It is my right. I have possession of the Chair, and when I have finished it will be within the right of Senator Dobson if he pleases to rise and say that land monopoly does not exist in Tasmania-
– If each man is to have only a few acres the whole population of Australia might easily be crowded into Tasmania.
– No reasonable person will contend that any man by holding a big monopoly of land confers benefit upon his neighbour. If we are to understand from the interjection of the hon orable senator that he claims that these land monopolists are a boon and a blessing, to Tasmania, how does he account for thefact that in almost all the States of Australia the Governments are desirous of acquiring estates from land-holders that “they may establish more .settlers upon the soil? Is it not because land monopoly prevents settlement and the production of wealth that the States Governments are compelled to move in this direction to make the lands available to the people? I wish to quote the prices paid for land in different parts of Victoria from the columns of our old! friend, the Melbourne Argus - as an indication generally of the price of land inthis State, and to show the extent to which public expenditure, mostly of a collectiveor socialistic character, has increased thevalue of land for the benefit of the nominal* holder of the land. The fact is that, owing to the excessive prices charged for land even at public auction, it is impossible even for men possessing moderate means to get upon the land. According to a report appearing in the Argus, I find that at Birchip an estate of 2,400 acres was sold, and the price is stated to be a substantial advance on that for which the land was purchased some little time ago. It is. stated that at Melton 330 acres changed’ hands at £16 5s. an acre. At Stratford’ Mr. Whyke’s dairy farm of 115 acres was sold for £31 10s. per acre. Here inthree representative portions of .Victoria large increases in the value of land are shown. Let me take another case. I find’ from the Argus that H. James and Company, of Orbost, report land sales at that place. Honorable senators must recognisethat there are no railway facilities at Orbost, and the cost of transport there is excessive. Orbost is isolated in the middleof the Gippsland bush. The transport charges are necessarily so great that theland itself should not be very valuable, even though it comprised the best soil in the country.
– But is there not moreland settlement in Victoria than in “ God’s own country “ in spite of the unimproved values of land?
– What does the honorable senator call “ God’s own country “ ?
– New Zealand.
– I am not in the habit of repeating phrases used by others, and to me Australia is “ God’s own country.” Let me say that if the- land monopolist is God this is truly God’s own country. Referring to the prices of land at Orbost, I find that one lot of 66 acres brought £27 per acre. Another 66 acres brought £35 per acre. Sixty-two acres brought £35 per acre; 62 acres, £30 per acre ; 63 acres, £38 10s. per acre ; 32 acres, £48 per acre ; 32 acres, £41 per acre; 97 acres, £36 ros. per aac These prices show the glorious prospects before men possessing a fair amount of capital who desire to get upon the lands of this State. I find from the Argus that at Lindenow Flat land was sold at £52 10s. per acre, and men are found so anxious to secure land that they are actually fighting to get possession of land on the hill-tops, where the soil is not so good. There is a report from Messrs. Theo. Johansen of the sale of 100 acres of hill and flat land, and one lot reached £18 15s. per acre. I have taken these prices from the Melbourne Argus, which does not advocate the Labour policy or land taxation, and we may, therefore, assume that they are reasonably correct. I leave the land question by saying that I hope we shall be successful’ during the coming session in carrying the proposals of the Fisher Government for land taxation. I believe the question is of such magnitude and importance that to-day it is not a party but a national question. It is also a question of defence, and a question of the population of our unpopulated country.
– But as a practical question similar taxation in New Zealand has not effected the purpose for which it was imposed.
– If the honorable senator wishes to prove that the land laws in New Zealand have been a failure he will be at liberty to take as much time as he desires to do so. But if he were to occupy six weeks, armed with all the authorities this House would accept, it would be impossible for him to prove that the New Zealand land laws have been a failure, because not only have they added to the number of new settlers, but those settled upon the land have produced more from it than was ever produced before, and the New Zealand Government to-day, as the result of the experiment tried in that country, are increasing the number of settlers on the land by offering even more generous terms than were previously offered.
– Does not the honorable senator know that every week hundreds of persons are leaving New Zealand for New South Wales because they cannot get work?
– If persons are leaving New Zealand to apply for land in New South Wales and to go to the ballot, they cannot be quite right, as it is practically impossible for them to obtain land in that country within a reasonable time. I hope that in this session it will be enacted that the biggest estates shall be taxed to such an extent that their owners will be compelled to break them up to enable further settlement and production to take place. It is proposed to nsk Parliament to permit a referendum to be taken cn the question of amending the Constitution so as to admit of the application of the policy of new protection. I hope that when that alteration is made, as I feel sure it will be, it will be made possible for the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to deal with any industry, irrespective of whether it is protected or not. I was very amused to read in to-day’s newspapers that my honorable friends opposite were going to cooperate in securing new protection by meansof a Board of Trade to which will harmonize the determinations of the State Wages Boards. What is the valueof a proposal of that kind compared with a uniform law for the Commonwealth? Instead of reducing Wages Boards to one body; instead of aiming at simplicity, and debarring the States from dealing with such matters, my honorable friends propose to create an additional Board to cause more confusion, more expense, and less satisfactory results than we r_‘et to-day One thing in connexion with our arbitration law which should be borne in mind is the enormous expense which it involves. Poor men who are working for a mere pittance, and believe that they are not receiving a just wage, have to dip their hands into their pockets to make an application to the Court and seek the benefits of the law, and they have to do that in a so-called democratic community, governed by a democratic Parliament. Only recently we had the harvester case, where the men in the industry, whom the Judge described as sweated men, had to raise £900 to enable them to test the law, which unfortunately was ruled out asunconstitutional. Not only that, but the Deakin Government, through Mr. Justice O’Connor, gave a distinct understanding to the manufacturers that the Excise duty would net be collected .until the StateWages Board had given an award. In spite of that, the Deakin Government allowed the workers to spend £900 to bring their case before the Arbitration Court, knowing that they had given a pledge in writing to the manufacturers through Judge O’Connor.
– Order ! I point out to the honorable senator that it is not fair to allude to Mr. Justice O’Connor in that way, but of course he may allude to actions of Mr. R. E, O’Connor, when a Minister.
– What I wished to point out was that a letter to that effect was officially read from the Bench, and I meant no disrespect to the Judge. The Government permitted the workers to spend £900 in testing a case after they had given a distinct understanding to the manufacturers that they would make no attempt to collect the Excise.
– It was a piece of barefaced treachery.
– Despite the position which the Deakin Government had taken up on that question they by their own treacherous act and practically by false pretences, allowed the men to spend that money. Whatever Government may be in power every penny of that sum .should be recouped to the men. Otherwise the Commonwealth cannot credit itself with honesty and justice to the unfortunate men. Again, we have the unsatisfactory position of never knowing when or how or by what means one can come under the Act. Apart from the new protectionist proposal I want a general law on the subject. To-day we have the case of the wood-workers, who are desirous of securing a uniform wage throughout Australia. What do we find? These unfortunate timber workers and bush workers have to fight their employers in the High Court, and already their costs have reached to nearly £1,000. Take the position in Broken Hill, where the men appealed to the Arbitration .Court and received an award. There was no power practically to compel that award to be carried out. When we hear remarks from the workers in Broken Hill that they are tired of arbitration, that they no longer desire to appeal to the law, what does it mean? It is the cry of desperate man, who tried to get just conditions from their employers, and were refused; who then tried to get just conditions from the law of a so-called democratic Commonwealth, and found that owing to expense it was impossible to do so. These men, if we are not careful, are likely to resort to that most deadly of weapons, a strike, on all occasions to defend their rights and interests. I do not desire, nor have I ever desired, to see a strike, and industry suspended, while masters and men settle their grievances. But I see to-day a poor body of men having a genuine grievance and receiving low wages who desire to get an award from the Arbitration Court. If they have not the necessary money they have only one option, and that is the barbarous one of laying down the tools of industry. I do not think that it is in the interests of either employers or men or the Commonwealth itself that we should have big strikes. But in the absence of a quick and just method of dealing with the complaints and grievances of men as well as employers if they desire it, the weapon of the strike will be resorted to more and more in the future, and small blame will attach to those who have resort to it if they cannot obtain a ready means of adjusting their differences in a court of law.
– Were not the Broken Hill men offered justice, and did they not refuse it?
– Did the men of Broken Hill receive justice?
– They were badly led. Thev were offered everything which they could wish for.
– I did not hear of honorable senators going to Broken Hill to extend their sympathies to the poor men who they thought were deluded. It is easy to stand off and criticise those who lead. If Senator Dobson, as>an Australian citizen, believed the men to be in the wrong, or badly led, or if he regarded their action as suicidal, his duty was not to stand aside and permit them to proceed as they were doing, but to tender advice and sympathy, and exhibit the friendship which ought to exist between a politician and a great body of men who are practically starving.
– One might as well have talked to a stone wall.
– That is the old insult flung at the workers. Will the honorable senator tell me that in Broken Hill there are no workers with the power to think? If he had the power to intelligently show men where they were wrong, and how to improve their conditions, they had equal intelligence to receive the information.
– Tyranny and injustice.
– It is easy to talk about tyranny, but fancy a man working under, conditions which he believes to be unjust exercising tyranny over those who own the mines. Fancy the wives of men who were declared by the Judge of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court to be only agitating for a reasonable and fair condition of things being drawn to the witness box and asked to give evidence as to every halfpenny that they spent !
– Why did not the men think of their wives?
– Because they had been humiliated and brought to that condition that they had to. prove the cost of living. If we are going to have the workers’ wives brought into Court to show how they spend a penny in purchasing a candle or some tea, it is time that we asked the wives of the shareholders how they helped to spend the £11,000,000 paid by the mines in dividends. Let us have a reasonable, ready, direct, and just method of settling disputes. Let us strip the matter of all trappings and legal technicalities. That result can only be secured by granting to the Federal Court full power to settle disputes promptly, instead of waiting until six Wages Boards have sat, and then bringing in another authority to harmonize their differences. I am afraid that I have nearly exhausted the patience of honorable senators. I trust that, whatever may be the work of this session, it will be of great value to the Commonwealth from the national point of view - from the point of view of industry and commerce, and from the point of view of improving the material conditions of the men, women, and children who struggle in the great battle of life. I believe that it is possible for the programme of the Government to achieve many of those results, and that if it is carried out Australia will be a better, a more progressive, a better developed, and a better defended country than it has been under the various Governments .which have previously had charge of her destinies.
.- I rise to second the motion which has been so ably moved by my honorable friend. I take this opportunity of congratulating the people of Australia upon the speech which His Excellency the Governor-General has been good enough to read to Parliament to-day, because I consider that within its four corners there is outlined not only a comprehensive but a truly national . policy. It is not my intention to refer at length to the various questions which are outlined in the Governor-General’s speech, but merely to deal briefly with one or two of what I regard as its leading features. In paragraph 3 reference is made to the terrible calamity which occurred at Calabria and Sicily when the towns of Reggio and Messina were visited by an appalling disaster, which resulted in very great loss of life, and which plunged the Italian nation into mourning for some considerable time. Australia regretted such an untoward event, and with other portions of the world was not backward in offering its sympathy to the Italian people in their time of trial and in giving practical proof of that sympathy. Amongst the main portions of the Vice-Regal speech I notice a reference to old-age pensions. I am glad to know that on 1st July next the aged poor of Australia will receive that meed of justice which has been so long denied them. For many years past leading politicians in the Commonwealth, leaders of public thought and prominent citizens of this island continent, have promised the people of the different States that our aged residents would receive old-age pensions. In other words, the latter were told that in the closing . hours of their lives the efforts which they had expended in building up this young Australian nation would be recognised. I regret to say that those promises were not fulfilled, and it was only the advent of certain representatives in this Parliament which made the carrying out of those promises possible. Let me say here that the credit of our being in a position on 1st July next to give to our aged poor this small reward is largely due to the present Prime Minister. In order to justify that statement it will be necessary for me to ask honorable senators to cast their minds back to the days last session when the Surplus Revenue Bill was under consideration. The purport of that measure was to keep for Commonwealth purposes that amount of revenue from Customs and Excise in excess of three-fourths, which had hitherto been returned to the States. The man who suggested that at least a portion of this surplus balance should be placed to the credit of a trust fund’ with a view to initiating an old-age pensions scheme was the present Prime Minister, Mr. Andrew Fisher. The idea was deemed to be practicable, and as the result of his suggestion we are now within measurable distance of paying our aged poor a sum of money, which, small though it may be, will certainly be of assistance to -.them in the. declining years ‘of their lives. We are told in the Vice-Regal speech that we shall be asked to consider the financial relationship of the Commonwealth to the States. That is a very big and important question indeed. On the 31st December, 1910, certain sections in the Constitution Act which govern the distribution of the revenue from Customs and Excise will expire, and if no other arrangements are arrived at in the interim it will be within the power of this Parliament to allocate the whole of the revenue derived from those sources. Consequently I think it is wise that in the meantime we should give very careful attention to the manner in which1 the whole of the Commonwealth revenue is to be divided with the States. We are now face to face with, the growing responsibilities of the Commonwealth, and within the four corners of the Governor-General’s speech certain proposals are outlined which, in the opinion df his Advisers, are considered necessary. These proposals will involve the expenditure’ by the Commonwealth of a considerable sum of money in excess of that expended in former years. That being so, it is absolutely imperative that in the future the Government shall retain a greater proportion of the Customs and Excise revenue than it has hitherto done, always bearing in mind that by so doing it must not in any way cripple the States of the Union. The Vice-Regal speech contains proposals for the effective defence of the Commonwealth, for the putting into operation of a system -of new protection, for the construction of the trans- Australian railway, and for the taking over of the Northern Territory. These are its four leading features, and I venture to say that there are very few honorable senators who will urge that any one of them might safely be omitted. If there be a vast consensus of opinion in this Parliament - as I believe there is - that it is necessary to proceed with an effective defence scheme for Australia, to put into operation a system of new protection, to relieve South Australia of the burden of administering the Northern Territory and to connect the eastern and western portions of this Continent by rail should the final reports of the surveyors be favorable to the scheme - we must recognise that it is imperative that in the future the Commonwealth shall retain a greater amount of re- venue than some persons are inclined to allow it to keep. I do not wish to discuss, all the details connected with the financial relations of the. States to the Commonwealth. I merely desire to say that the wisdom of this Parliament, assisted by that of the leaders of public opinion in the States, will, I am sure, result in the evolution of a scheme which will be fair not only to those who have to administer the affairs of this young nation, but also to those who are charged with administering the internal affairs of the various States. I notice that the Government intend to initiate a Commonwealth silver and paper currency. That is a step in the right direction, and I think that as a result of that step we shall obtain a permanent source of income which we naive not hitherto enjoyed. Since this Parliament last met a wave of hysteria has passed over the length and breadth of the Continent in connexion with the question of Empire defence. Mv honorable colleague, Senator E. J. Russell, has referred to the question of Australian defence and of Empire defence. But I venture to think* that this, question is so important, and of such a farreaching character, as to justify me in making a brief reference to it. During the past few years Australia has suffered from many “isms.” We have heard of fiscalism and of Socialism, but no “ism” has created such a stir as Dreadnoughtism which within the past few months has raged right round Australia. What was the reason for this? The reason was that Mr. Reginald McKenna, in introducing the British Naval Estimates in the House of Commons, found it necessary to announce to that House, and through it to the world, the necessity for an increase in British naval expenditure. That announcement contained nothing new. It was within the knowledge of the British Government and of their predecessors, as’ well as of the present Commonwealth Government and of their predecessors, that a certain Power in Europe was making rapid strides in the building of its naval armament. That Power is Germany. This was well known. Any one who has watched the progress of Germany, and has observed the large sums which she. has expended in her naval shipbuilding programme since 1897, must know that Mr. McKenna’ s announcement contained nothing new. But that gentleman found himself in a rather curious position. Upon the one hand he had a divided Cabinet. There are men in the British Cabinet to-day - men of strong will and purpose - who consider that there is no reason which can justify an increase in British naval expenditure. Mr. McKenna knew that. He also knew that amongst the supporters of his own Government there was a decided division of opinion as to the necessity for the proposed increase. That being so, he was forced to announce to the world the reason for the increased naval expenditure - a reason which, prior to that period, had only been known to the Imperial, and probably the Colonial Governments. Mr., McKenna did not wish to see his Naval Estimates defeated. I do not suppose that any Minister in charge of Estimates in any Parliament likes to see those Estimates reduced. In view of his position, Mr. McKenna found it necessary to reveal to the world what had been common knowledge to his Government and their predecessors for two or three years. Australia caught the fever. In every State throughout the Commonwealth the cry was raised for the building and presentation of a Dreadnought to Great Britain, just as if Great Britain depended upon the presentation to her of one or two Dreadnoughts! I do not intend in my remarks on this question to depreciate the seriousness of the naval crisis. I recognise that there is a probable danger of some Power or Powers in Europe - it is not within my province to name them - having a jealous eye upon the supremacy of the seas at present held by Great Britain. I also know that if that supremacy were wrested from the Mother Land our position in Australia would probably be untenable. But the presentation of a Dreadnought to the Mother Land would not in any way minimize the danger, if there be a danger, of the supremacy of the seas being wrested from her. I am proud to know that the present advisers of His Excellency were not carried away by the clamour for Dreadnought presentation, that they were not infected by the germ of Dreadnoughtism. On the contrary, they were determined to pursue the even tenor of their way in the development of their ideas of Australian defence. Coming to the immediate question of Australian defence. I again desire to offer my congratulations to the Minister in charge of the Defence Department. While some of his predecessors in office have been content with the making of speeches, he and the Government of which he is a member considered that die construction of torpedo boats was a much more effective method of trying to defend Australia. With that end in view, as the Governor- General’ sspeech informs us, they lost no time in< placing orders in Great Britain for the building of three torpedo boats. They have gone further. They have authorized’ the sending home of skilled artisans to be present at the construction of those vessels, so that they may come back to our shoresto help us in building the remaining portion of the torpedo fleet, which it is theintention of the Government to construct.
– It has been done in. defiance of the pledge given to Parliament, though.
– I venture to dissent from the honorable senator.
– The pledge is recorded in Hansard.
– The personswho gave that pledge are not the Government of to-day. I recollect that my honorable friend, Senator Best, as VicePresident of the Executive Council, replied to a question from the other side of the chamber. I think the question was whether, before the money in the trust fund forecast and harbor defence was spent, Parliament would be consulted. Senator Best replied that Parliament would be consulted. I think I am quoting him correctly.
– He said positively that Parliament would be consulted.
– I do not seehow Senator Best, speaking as VicePresident of the Executive Council and leader of the Senate, could have any right to pledge a future Government.
– Did the honorable senator object to my assurance toParliament ?
– I did not pay much attention to the question and the honorable senator’s -reply
– In the other place the honorable senator’s party joined in the demand.
– I am not responsible for any action that was taken in another place. I am not sneaking of my friends of the Labour Party. I am speaking for myself in this matter. I do. not consider that a member of one Government has any right to pledge his successors. Consequently, any action of the previous Government in- pledging themselves that before the money would be spent in the purchase of torpedo boats- for coast’ and* harbor defence Parliament would be consulted, in no way pledged their successors. A debate took place when the matter was before us, and we were then in a position to demand a pledge as to how the money would be spent. But I for one think that the present Government were under no obligation either to call Parliament together or to wait until Parliament met in order to consult its opinion as to how the money in question should be spent.
– Not. in view of the fact that the pledge was given before the vote was taken?
– The pledge was exacted by Parliament : that is the point.
– If the Government that made the promise had remained in power, it would have been their duty to wait and consult Parliament.
– They intended to remain in office for a good while to come when thev made the pledge !
– But a promise made by the previous Government did not bind their successors.
– The Parliament which exacted the promise is still in existence.
– I question very much whether Parliament did exact the promise. There was simply a question put by a member of Parliament and answered by a Minister. Whether Parliament itself demanded a pledge or not is a question as to which there might be a good deal of discussion. The policy of the Government has been challenged from various quarters. The accusation has been hurled at them that they have not been loyal to Great Britain, because they did not at once offer to present a Dreadnought.
– Hear, hear.
– I presume from his “hear, hear !” that my honorable friend. Senator Dobson, is one of those who consider the accusation justifiable that the present Government were not loyal because they were not carried away with1 the Dreadnought hysteria. In response to the honorable senator’s “hear,- hear.!” I will mention a statement recently made by a leading statesman of the Empire to show that those who are far away from us have a somewhat higher opinion of us than have some of those who are near to us. Earl Grey, one of the Empire’s leading statesmen, who at present occupies the position of Governor-General of Canada, presided at a dinner, given to the Australian delegates to the Imperial Press Conference, in Ottawa, the other day. What did Earl Grey say? He, as the cables inform us, in the course of his speech, referred to the patriotic spirit animating the people of Australia in connexion with the recent naval crisis at Home. He went further, and paid a splendid tribute to the men .to whom the administrative destinies of Australia are at present intrusted. He said that the action of the Australian Commonwealth in initiating a scheme of Australian defence, and. co-operating with the Mother Country-
– I do not know that they did initiate a scheme.
– If the present Government did not initiate it they are at least putting it into practical operation. That the honorable senator cannot deny. Earl Grey said that Australian cooperation with the Empire in Imperial defence was to be commended, and that the “honour of the Crown was just as safe in the keeping of the humblest sons of toil as in the hands of the proudest and noblest in the land.” That is the tribute paid by Earl Grey, Governor-General of Canada, to His Excellency’s present Advisers. It is, I think, a sweeping reply to those gentlemen in the Commonwealth who say that because the present Government refrained from presenting a Dreadnought to Great Britain the charge of disloyalty should be launched against them.
– If Earl Grey was pleased with a small thing would he not be better pleased with a bigger one?
– I think that we are presenting the Empire with something which is far greater and of far more value than a Dreadnought. Let us for a moment imagine that it had been determined to present a Dreadnought. In the first place the Government would have to go cap in hand to London money-lenders and ask them on their bended knees to lend us £2,000,000 in order that we might present a Dreadnought to the Mother Country.
– Is not the honorable senator aware that the money was offered by two Sydney banks at 3^ per cent. ?
– I care not where the money comes from - the fact cannot be denied that before we presented the Dreadnought we should have to borrow the money.
– It is humbug to say that we should have to go on “bended knees “ to London money lenders.
– And the honorable senator should not be too sure of the proposition that we should have to borrow the money.
– It is my impression that it would have been imperative to borrow the money.
– And a Dreadnought costs £1,750,000, not £2,000,000.
– The cost would have run into £2,000,000 when we had paid for everything.
– What about the Dreadnought fever in Western Australia?-
– In Western Australia we had a great wave of loyalty, and a collection was started. The result was that about as much money was received for the Dreadnought fund as would buy a respectable sewing machine. That is the kind of “loyalty” we hear of.
– That is due to the Labour Party.
– The Government are pursuing a more practical method. Great Britain may become involved in a struggle for the supremacy of the seas at any time. As mv honorable friend Senator E. J. Russell said, 871 per cent, of the Imperial Fleet is concentrated in Home waters. Twelve and a half per cent, of the fleet is distributed around the selfgoverning Dominions of the Empire. If a struggle should take place for naval supremacy it might be necessary to call upon that portion of the fleet that we have in our own waters. If we presented a Dreadnought and the struggle commenced, what would Australia do? We occupy a lonely outpost with 8,000 miles of coast-line within a few days’ sail of millions of coloured people. I consider that the action of the present Government in commencing to build torpedo boats and thus initiating the nucleus of naval defence for Australia, is a far better provision for the protection of our commerce and for assisting the Empire in a time of trouble and distress, than would be the presentation of half-a-dozen Dreadnoughts.
– Then the honorable senator thinks that the battle is going to be fought here, does he ?
– I am not in a position to say where the battle is going to be fought.
– The honorable senator had better think over that point.
– No matter in what sea the battle for naval supremacy may be fought, there is a danger that that portion of the fleet which is at present in our waters may be called upon to buttress the main portion of the fleet elsewhere. There is another great Dominion of which we are all proud. I allude to Canada. I have before me a cutting from the London Times showing what Canada thought about the recent naval crisis. One newspaper in Canada published this paragraph -
The fate of England does not depend upon a few Dreadnoughts more or less. It rests wholly in the loyalty of the Colonies. There is no doubt of this loyalty. It is England’s rampart, and Germany knows it-
There is just another paragraph here that I shall quote. It will better brine home the point I make in connexion with that. naval crisis than perhaps an hour of argument. It is from the same newspaper. Referring to a portion of the debate in the Canadian House of Commons, this statement is made - .
The House of Commons was at its best in discussing Mr. Foster’s resolution and Sir Wilfred Laurier’s amendment. There was no division. The French members, nearly all of whom support the Government, gave their assent to the resolution as agreed upon by the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition. As you know, the resolution declared that Parliament fully recognises the duty of the people of Canada to assume in larger measure the responsibilities of national defence ; that, under present constitutional relations between the Mother Country and the self-governing Dominions, any stated contribution to the Imperial Treasury for naval and military purposes would not be a satisfactory, solution of the question of defence; that Parliament will cordially approve of any necessary expenditure designed to promote the speedy organization of a Canadian Naval Service in cooperation with, and in close relation to, the Imperial Navy along the lines suggested bv the Admiralty at the last Imperial Conference, and in’ full sympathy with the view that the Naval supremacy of Britain is essential to the security of commerce, the safety of the Empire, and the peace of the world; and that whenever the need arises the Canadian people will be found ready and willing to make any sacrifice that is required to give to the Imperial authorities the most loyal and hearty co-operation in every movement for the maintenance of the integrity and the honour of the Empire-
I venture to say that that is, in a nutshell, the position of Australia. Australia recognises that a mere contribution towards the upkeep of the British Navy is not at all the only way. or the proper way, to help the Motherland in protecting her interests and ours. Australia is determined, instead of contributing mere monetary assistance, to build its own Navy, and to guard its own shores. What is more, in doing so Australia is proving to the world that Australians will not in the future lean upon the Mother Country. They will lean upon themselves, and will trust to their own spirit of self-reliance. In connexion with the building of an Australian Fleet, I believe that the present Advisers of His Excellency the Governor-General are in communication with the Admiralty as to the disposition of that fleet, and! as to its command. Various opinions have been expressed in this chamber as to whether such a fleet should be under the entire control of the British Admiralty. I have always contended that an Australian Navy should be under the full command nf the Australian Government and Parliament. I believe that the position now is that an offer has been made that any fleet built and operating in Australia shall be under the command of the Admiralty in time of war only. That is to say, that ‘if any national emergency arose, if Britain found herself involved in a struggle for the supremacy of the sea, and the Admiralty thought it absolutely essential for their safety that they should have command of the Australian Fleet, then the Australian Government would offer no objection, and in those circumstances would place the fleet entirely at the disposal of the Admiralty.
– The honorable senator’s party has failed to recognise that the offer of a Dreadnought was an admission .from the Australian conscience of a neglect of naval defence in the past?
– I’ do not think that the honorable senator has correctly interpreted the spirit which animated those who have been desirous of presenting a. Dreadnought. I have already said that the offer was actuated more by sentiment than by anything else.
– Admiral Beresford says that local defence is better than a Dreadnought.
– What does he know, compared with Senator Dobson?
– Lord Charles Beresford is not in favour of the proposed mosquito fleet.
– Naval experts, including Lord Charles Beresford, have said that Dreadnoughts are things of the past so far as effective defence- is concerned, and that should any naval battle take place in the future Dreadnoughts would be dis counted in favour of smaller vessels of war. I come now to paragraph 15 of the speech, covering a proposal to impose a tax on the unimproved values of land. I do not intend to dwell at length on this proposal, because the honorable senator who moved the adoption of the Address-in-Reply has given a good exposition of the land question. I know that our honorable friends opposite will challenge this proposal of the Government, for perhaps two reasons. In the first place, they will contend that it is not constitutional, and that the Federal Parliament has no right to impose a tax on the unimproved values of land because the land belongs to the States. They may also say that there is no necessity for such a tax. Dealing with the first objection, let me say that I do not pose as a constitutional authority. I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I know that the ex-Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, when Attorney-General, gave an opinion that it was quite within the bounds of the Constitution for this Parliament to impose a tax upon unimproved values of land. I give that gentleman as mv authority, and it will take my honorable friends opposite some time to dispute the authority of such a constitutional lawyer as the Honorable Alfred Deakin. As to the necessity of the tax, I say that there is an absolute necessity for the imposition of a tax which will not only bring in revenue to the Commonwealth Exchequer - which is after all only a secondary consideration - but will be the means of bursting up the large estates referred to by Senator E. J. Russell, and which we know exist in every State of Australia to-day. I have here a note which I shall read in connexion with the tax on the unimproved values of land which will show at a glance how such a tax would operate. The Surveyor-General of South Australia, in his last year’s report, states -
The land repurchased for closer settlement since the passing of the Act from 1893 up to 190S amounted to 251,476 acres. The land was allotted to 921 persons, the average holding, therefore, being 273 acres. It formerly, kept only a few persons and an average of about one sheep to the acre. There is now a population of 3,058, including children, also 58,996 sheep, 3,560 cattle, and 3,406 horses ; 36,838 acres were reaped last year with a return of 467,751 bushels of wheat.
This shows at a glance the effectiveness of a tax on unimproved values of land, because the proposal we make, with an exemption of estates up to the value of £5,000, would burst up all the large estates in Australia to-day. While Senator E. J. Russell was speaking on this question one honorable senator opposite, I think Senator Pulsford, said, “That is only the thin end of the wedge. Where are you going to stop ?” We shall not need to go any further, because with the party of which I am a member I think that the proposal they are now making for unimproved land values taxation will be found sufficient to compel the large landholders to disgorge their vast tracts of territory. This question is inextricably mixed up with the question of immigration. There is not the slightest doubt that to-day people are coming to Australia who are not at all desirable immigrants. Let me here repeat a statement I have made on other occasions. I am not myself opposed to a judicious scheme of immigration, nor is the Labour Party opposed to such a scheme.
– Honorable senators have changed their opinions lately.
– I defy Senator Dobson to prove that I have changed my opinions on this question.
– I was speaking of the Labour Party, and not of the honorable senator.
– Then I reply that the members of the Labour Party have not changed their opinions on the question of immigration. Since I have been a member of the party they have not been opposed to a judicious scheme of immigration, but they have contended that until the lands of Australia are made available to the people there is no necessity to invite people to come here from other places. That is the position which the Labour Party take up, and which they hold to-day. Tharsis the reason why, now that we have a Labour Government in charge of the affairs of Australia, we find that they intend to burst up the large estates by a tax which “will make land available for people who may be eligible to come to our shores. On the question of the taking over of the Northern Territory, let me say that I think it would be wise to expedite that matter. The safety of Australia depends greatly upon the effective administration and guardianship of that vast unpeopled territory. I hope that the agreement when presented will be one to which we can assent. I dare say that the agreement which is at present drafted is not one which could! be adopted in its entirety by honorable senators.
– Are we going to have a different agreement?
– I do not know. I am now speaking of the principle of taking over the Territory, which I am in favour of. But if the present Government bring down the agreement that was drawn up between the Deakin Government -and the South Australian Government, it contains many clauses which I shall oppose.
– If we shoulder the debt there must be no restrictive conditions.
– I would certainly be in favour of taking over the Territory . and administering it. I notice that in His Excellency’s speech a reference is made to the trans-Australian railway, and it is hoped that the final report will soon be presented. I know that the surveyors of South Australia and Western Australia have completed their surveys. From what I read I think that they will bear out the statements which Western Australian senators have made, here in reference to the vast advantages which will accrue from the con- struction of the line. I am simply waiting for the final report of Mr. Deane, and I hope that when it is presented no time will be lost in beginning the construction of that much-needed and necessary railway. I am also glad to see that it is intended to take up the Navigation Bill and the Seamen’s Compensation Bill of last session. No matter how political events may move within the next few months, no matter what party may have the reins of government, it is essential that the former Bill should be placed -upon the statute-book as soon as possible. I desire to compliment the Ministry upon having travelled over a great portion of the Commonwealth in the recess. In that regard I think that Min- ‘isters have set,, a good example. They ‘have not been content to pass the whole of their recess at their desks, but have recognised the necessity of keeping in touch with the Australian people in every portion of this vast continent. The Prime Minister deserves the thanks of every member of this Parliament for covering the great area which he did, and I dare sa.y the great amount of good which he has effected by coming in touch with so many persons. I understand that during the recess he travelled over 20,000 miles. The next important question that we shall be called upon to consider is that of new protection. I anticipate that we shall have no discussion of any great consequence when it is placed before us. I understand that my honorable friends opposite are now almost practically committed to a policy of new protection. That being so, and with all parties agreeing, there is no reason why any further delay should take place in putting a humane idea into practice. We recognise that so far as fiscalism is concerned there is no use in having a protective Tariff which is beneficial only to the manufacturer. We want the protection to be shared by workers and consumers. It is quite evident now that all political parties are agreeable to the introduction of new protection. The present Government have also the courage of their convictions in reference to rings, trusts, and combines. I notice that they propose to bring down legislation with a view to nationalizing monopolies. I hope that they will be able to get that legislation put through. At present we have a few monopolies in Australia. For instance, we have the Shipping Combine, the Tobacco Combine, -the Coal Combine, and one or two others which are certainly pernicious in their operations. The Governor- General’s speech indicates that during the course of the session certain amending Bills will be brought down. We’ are informed that measures will be introduced dealing with Norfolk Island, the Old- Age Pensions Act, the Electoral Act, the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act, the Immigration Restriction Act, and the Public Service Act. I am glad to learn that the Old-Age Pensions Act is to be amended, because good as it is there is room for improvement. When it was under consideration here I was in favour of making the age limit 60 years and the residential limit 20 years. I do not know whether it is the intention of the Government to make those alterations, but when the Bill is submitted I shall make an effort to secure them There is no doubt that since the inception of the present Government the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act has been something worthy of praise. I do not accuse their predecessors of being lax in administration, but it is a remarkable thing that since last November or December many stowaways in the shape of restricted aliens have been discovered. There must have been a want of sympathy on the part of some administrators of the Act, which is really the foundation of our White Australia policy.
– Do not forget the Act which we passed last session?
– I spoke of that Act just now. I think that it has gone a long way to help in detecting a number of stowaways.
– Just so; and I quite agree with the honorable senator. The members of the Opposition and Ministers were about the only persons in the
Chamber when the Bill was passed. I said so at the time, and I say it again.
– That does not do away with the fact that it was the present Government which introduced the amending Bill.
– Yes, and I give them credit for it.
– Nor does it do away with the fact that the operation of that measure has proved that previously there must have been a little laxity on the part of those responsible for the administration of an important law. No matter how high may be the ideal contained within the four corners of a statute, it is practically a dead letter unless it has sympathetic administration. The present Go,vernment have been sympathetic in their administration of the Act.
– It is also a fact that a large number of those who have been sent back were not stowaways but persons who were coming in under forged naturalization papers.
– I dare say that has been the case. In Western Australia I had a conversation with the Secretary of External Affairs, and he was quite satisfied that it would be necessary to amend the Immigration Restriction Act with a view to further precluding the entrance of aliens under any conditions. The Bill to amend the Public Service Act will, I think, be welcomed. Whilst I have no fault to find with the present Commissioner, who, I admit, is carrying out the duties of his office in an able manner, still I consider that the Act gives him too much power. He stands between the Parliament and the people, and between th’e Minister responsible for a Department and the Parliament. That should not be so. I think that in some manner we might take away a little of the authority which is now vested in him. I have no further remarks to make except to express the hope that our deliberations will be attended with benefit to the people of Australia, and that no matter what party may be in power the policy which is outlined in the Governor-General’s speech will be given effect to. If that is done I believe that if will go a long way to make the lot of every unit in the Commonwealth brighter, happier, and more contented than it is today.,
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 5.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 May 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090526_senate_3_49/>.