3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, the following questions : -
– In reply to the first questionI have to state that so far we have not accepted the offer of any Australian Government regarding the completion of the third destroyer. The second question is answered by the reply to the first question ; we have not accepted the offer of the New South Wales Government, and it is still under consideration. In regard to the third question, I have to say that the proposition that the Government of New South Wales would submit an offer was made in the first place by its head. After that proposition had been made publicly in the presence of the Attorney-General, ‘ my honorable colleague promised that he would bring it under the notice of the Commonwealth Government, which was done. We intimated our. willingness to consider any offer which the Government of New South Wales,or any other State Government, . had to make on the subject. Following opon that, New South Wales, through its Government, did make an offer. Shortly after the first statement was made I stated publicly that we would be pleased to receive an offer not onlv from New South Wales, but from any other State. As to whether the Victorian Government has made any offer, I understand that a statement to that effect has appeared in the pfess, but so far no offer from any State other than New South Wales has reached the Defence Department.
asked theVice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Was the attached statement made by the Minister for Home Affairs - “ The Minister for Home Affairs declares that there is no foundation for the com- plaint regarding the lighting or ventilation of the new telephone exchange in. Adelaide. ‘ Certainly,’ said Mr. Mahon, The exterior of the building is not an architectural triumph, but the - place issolidly built. I inspected it only last Thursday, and I say that there is amplelight, ample space, and ample ventilation ‘.” “ If Adelaide has no greatergrievance than this,” concluded the Minister, “ it must be regarded as a very fortunate city.”?
– The quotation is substantially accurate.
Have representations been made to the Government respecting the special and alleged unconstitutional’ charge made, in Western Australia, upon commercial travellers from other States?
– Nothing isknown of the matter referred to,but full inquiries will be made.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the days of meeting of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, be Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week ; and that the hours of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be half-past 2 o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and half-past 10 o’clock in the forenoon of Friday.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate or of a Committee of the whole Senate on sitting days other than Fridays be suspended from. 6.30 p.m. to 7.45 p.m., and on Fridays from’ ‘1 p.m. to 2.15 p.m.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper,’ except questions and formal motions, and except that private business take precedence of Government business on Thursday, after 7.45 p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, private orders of the day take precedence of private notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
The following Sessional Committees were appointed (on motion by Senator McGregor) -
The President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Sir R. W. Best, Clemons, Guthrie, McGregor, St. Ledger, Sir J. H. Symon, and Trenwilh, with power to act during recess, and to confer with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives;
The President, Senators ChataWay, Keating, Lvnch, Stewart, Sir J. H. Sytnon, and Walker, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee With a similar Com- mitee of the Hduse of Representatives.
The President, Senators de Largie, McColl,
McGregor, Mulcahy, Colonel Neild, and Turley, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Givens, Henderson, Macfarlane, and Pulsford, with power to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the consideration of the Navigation Bill, which lapsed by reason of the prorogation, be resumed at the stage it had reached during last session.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to- that leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to compensation to seamen for injuries suffered in the course of their employment.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to marine insurance.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the Senate will, on next sitting day, resolve itself into a Committee of the whole for the consideration of the report of the Sta’ndin’g Orders Committee brought up on the 15th October, 1908, together with amendments and additions recommended by the said Committee.
Motion (by Senator Needham) agreed to -
That the consideration of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, Which lapsed by reason of the prorogation, be proceeded with at the stage it had reached last session.
Motion (by Senator Chataway) agreed to-
That a return be tabled specifying the nature, amounts, and value of the exports from Australia to German possessions in the South Seas during the last three years.
– Pursuant to standing order 31, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senators McColl, Colonel Neild, and Turley, a panel to act as temporary Chairman of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– Pursuant to standing order 38, I lay on the table my warrant appointing the following senators to be the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications - Senators Chataway, de Largie, Henderson, Macfarlane, Sir J. H. Symon,. Turley, and Walker. I may say with’ reference to the nominations to the Committee that my warrant must lie on the table for the four next sittings of the Senate, and if in the meantime no objection is raised to the names, the nomination of the Committee will be complete.
Senator PEARCE laid upon the table the following papers -
Patents Acts1903-1906. -
Provisional Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 2.
Amendment ofRegulations 1, 32, 34, and 115, and First and Second Schedules of Provisional Regulations made by Statutory Rules 1909, No. 2. - StatutoryRules 1909, No. 19.
Manufactures Encouragement Act 1908. - Amendment (Provisional) of Regulation 15 of theIron Bounty Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 48.
Bounties Act 1907. - Cancellation of Regulations 20-28, made by Statutory Rules 190S, No. 69, and substitution of new Regulations 20- 22 (Provisional) in lieu thereof. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 49.
Customs Act 1901. - Amendment of Regulation 101, made by Statutory Rules 1904, No. 25, and cancellation of Statutory Rules 1908, No. 115. - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 14.
Debate resumed from 26th May (vide page 30), on motion by Senator E. J. Russell -
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 you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– In normal circumstances this opportunity is generally taken advantage of to review both the past administrative acts of the Government and the programme which, through the Governor-General-, they place before Parliament for its consideration.
– Are not the circumstances normal now ?
– But in view of certain developments of which I have been reading in the press, I venture to think that it would be unnecessarily occupying the time of honorable senators if I or any other member of the Senate were to seriously attempt to discuss the programme submitted to us. For that reason I do not propose to follow what I’ have indicated is the usual course. There is, however, one matter to which I would like to make reference. Senator; E. J. Russell, in moving the adoption of the Address-in-Reply reiterated a statement which is made with painful frequency by members of his party as to the absence of land in Australia available for settlement.
– The statement is quite true, every word of it.
– I am not now saying that it is not. I wish, first, to submit my facts, because if the statement is not true it is clearly a libel upon Australia, and the sooner it is swept away the better.
– The honorable senator cannot sweep it away now.
– I do not propose to do so, but I do intend before I sit down to put into the box a witness sanctioned by the Government, that I think will substantiate the statement I make, that Senator E. J. Russell and those who have spoken in similar terms have very grossly over-stated the case. Some little time ago, if reports speak correctly, the Government subsidised a journal called the Clarion, and purchased a large number of copies for distribution, I believe, in Germany. I may take it that a Labour Government would be very careful not to send abroad statements that were not accurate, and that did not conform to what they believed to be the true conditions of affairs in Australia.
– And they paid £50 over the retail price of the newspaper, too.
– I’ venture to say, in view of the statement I am about to quote, that if they paid .£5,000 over the market value it was a cheap transaction for Australia, though a very poor one for the party to which the Ministry belongs. One statement made by Senator E. J. Russell, and cheered by Senator Findley, was that the advertisements issued by the States Governments were shamefully misleading, inasmuch as they report that land is available and hold out inducements which honorable senators opposite say do not exist. I challenge my honorable friends to find any State advertisement which, contains more attractive statements of this kind than that which I shall read from the Clarion, which was purchased and distributed by the Government the)’ support.
– The Government needs hanging if they have done anything of that kind. They did not do it with my consent.
– Possibly the Go’vernment does need hanging. I do not question the statement, but I am not so spitefully inclined as is the honorable senator, and I would reserve for them a milder fate.
– What is the date of the newspaper to which the honorable senator refers?
– It is dated 1st March, 1909. If the honorable senator requires further information as to how it came to be distributed he would do well to ask the Government to table the papers showing the transaction to which I have referred.
– Why should not the honorable senator simplify the case by telling us where land is available?
– I am going to quote from this newspaper. Here is a statement appearing in almost the opening paragraph, -
The lands owned by the State are of tremendous area.
That is a sweeping contradiction of the statement frequently made that there are no lands in the hand’s of the State.
– Who made that statement?
– The honorable senator.
– I did nothing of the sort.
– Are my friends going to quibble now? Was it intended when the Government paid£700 to send abroad that statement that the lands owned by the State are of tremendous area to suggest that those lands were not available for immigrants who were being invited to come here ? The very purpose of the statement was to attract immigrants here with the belief that as the State owned! the lands and dealt with them in the way referred to later on in the newspaper, they were available under the conditions set out.
– That is the honorable senator’s construction. Let him read on.
– I intend to do . so, and probably honorable senators will say I have read a little too much.
– Even if that be so, because a lie is twice told that does not make it true.
– No, but I venture to say that honorable senators opposite will not find anything in any advertisement issued by a State Government that can surpass this in the attractions put forward.
– It shows that we shall have to be more careful in the future.
– It shows that honorable senators opposite will have to be more careful in the Governments which they select. Let me now give the second quotation -
Some estates are held in areas too large to represent their fullest public value.
I quite agree with that statement.
Certainly, inordinate areas are no fixed quantity, and 50,000 acres in Victoria is, in the public view, too great an estate; while 1,000,000 acres in the north of Australia is none too large a cattle station for the man who has the capital to work it.
I invite the attention of honorable senators to what follows -
None of these great estates, by the way, are ever alienated, the tenure of such great tracts being under lease.
– That refers to the Northern Territory. Everybody knows that.
– Anybody who understands the position - and Senator Findley ought to understand it, having been associated with the press - knows that these qualifying words, “None of these great estates,’”’’ referto both the 50,000 acres in Victoria, and to the 1,000,000 acres in the Northern Territory. It may have been a slip, but it was the duty of those who spent£700 in disseminating these statements abroad, to have seen that no such slip occurred.
– Did the Labour Government enter into a contract for the production of that journal ?
– The Minister of Defence may be able to supply that information. I am assuming that the statements made in the press - which -have not been contradicted - are correct.
– We should have a job to contradict all the statements which appear in the press.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. The Government do not deny that they purchased a large number of copies of this publication for distribution abroad. I am not quarrelling with them for having done so. Thev have issued some very valuable information.
– Would you say I was wrong if I said that the Labour Government did not enter into a contract with the publication in question?
– Perhaps the Minister of Defence will answer the question raised by the honorable senator. Did the Government pay for the distribution of a certain number of copies of this journal?
– Now, I want honorable senators to read the quotations which I have cited together. If there is no waste land in Australia, and if the area, owned by the States is tremendous, there must be ample land available for thousands of immigrants when they, come here.
– If the States did their duty, there would be, but they will not.
– According to this publication the land’s owned by the States are of tremendous area, and there is no waste land in Australia. Let me quote some more information which the Government at the public expense have seen fit to distribute -
There is practically no waste land. The grasstree plains around the 10,000 miles of coast are being exploited for the distillation of alcohol from the core of the grass tree.
I do not know whether anybody can point me to any evidence of these great distilleries around our ten thousand miles of coast. It is true that’ whilst travelling by sea I have noticed a haze at various times around our coast. I was under the impression that it arose from natural conditions, but 1 am now forced to assume that it was caused by the smoke from numerous distilleries which are engaged in extracting alcohol from the grass trees on our lands. Again, I ask honorable senators if they can show me any statement in any advertisement by a State Government more alluring ito the people in the older countries of the world than that which I am about to read -
Government . help of the farmer is a unique part of agriculture in Australia. The State sells the land on long terms -
The State must have lands before it can sell tthem - builds railways to the land, teaches the farmer at agricultural colleges, and by travelling experts, gives him the practice of his craft on Government farms, experiments for him in analyses of soils, manures, and fertilizers, and discovers to him the newest practice in dry soil Cultivation, and finances State banks to make advances to the farmer. The farmer, from the itime he begins clearing his land, is helped by the Government - with long deferred payments lior the land, with loans from the State banks, with State railways that follow the newest districts to come under the plough.
In my opinion all these statements are absolutely correct. In the first place, we are told that the area owned by the State is tremendous. Secondly, we are assured that there is no waste land in Australia, and finally we are informed that the Government, from the beginning to the end of the farmers’ career, are prepared to play the part of a beneficent Providence to him. But these statements give the lie direct to the declaration by Senator E. J. Russell yesterday that we have no lands available for immigrants.
– The honorable senator might have accepted my assurance that I made no such statement.
– If the honorable senator will look at the Hansard proof of his speech he will see that he did.
– I have looked at it, and I repeat that I made no such statement.
– If there is so much land available, why cannot those who are endeavouring to get it obtain it?
– I have not said whether there is a sufficient area available or not.
– Seeing that I stated that there were millions of acres under lease, how could I have said that we had no lands available for settlement? The honorable senator should be fair.
– If my honorable friend tells me that he did not speak at all yesterday, I am prepared to accept his word for it Another statement contained in this publication reads -
There are still vast areas of unoccupied sugar lands in Queensland and North Australia.
All these statements are absolutely in accordance with facts. They entirely indorse the statements contained in advertisements inserted by the various States Governments, and to that extent absolutely refute - if not the words, at any rate the tenor - of Senator E. J. Russell’s argument that it is idle to ask people to come to Australia because there is no land here upon which they can settle.
– It is criminal to do so.
– Then it is doubly criminal for the Government to have expended public money without parliamentary sanction, in the distribution of statements which senator Findley declares are highly criminal. So long as the Labour Government feel justified in issuing statements of this kind, considerations of decency alone ought to compel their supporters to refrain from criticising States which only put forward similar statements for the purpose of attracting people to our shores. I should not have referred to this matter but that it appears to me to be one of immense public importance. The fact is that the true conditions of Australia, should be made known abroad. Nobody desires that any false representations should be made, but it is necessary for the fair fame and future of the Commonwealth that any statements, made should be authentic, and that it should not be possible for honorable senators, merely for party purposes, to cavil atthem.
– I certainly thought that we should have been afforded an opportunity of listening to a reply by a member of the Government to the speech which has just been delivered by the leader of the Opposition. I have much pleasure in saying - in justice to the Government - that they have worked very hard during the recess. I do not intend to say a single word to disparage the Ministry without reason. I believe that Mr. Fisher has grown in popularity and influence throughout the community as the result of the dignified manner in which he has discharged his duties as Prime Minister. I also think that the Government deserve credit for the manner in which the Minister of Home Affairs has managed matters in connexion with the Federal Capital site. I was one of those who had the pleasure of attending the camp which the Government arranged for at Canberra, and I am bound to say that I was more and more entranced with the advantages of Canberra and its suitability for the purposes of a capital. Only yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting Colonel Vernon, who informed me that every time he goes to Canberra he is better pleased that the place was so favorably considered by the Federal Parliament. I also think that the Government deserve credit - though they were a little late in taking action - for having recognised the wisdom of making a contribution of £10,000 for the relief of the sufferers from the Messina earthquake. That was a noble action on their part, and they deserve full appreciation for it. Then, again, I think that the Minister of External Affairs has rendered good service in visiting Papua. I am glad to know that he was rather impressed with the desirableness of improving the present position as regards Customs charges on goods coming to Australia from Papua, and vice versa. I hope that in time we shall look upon Papua as a part of Australia; and although, of course, we must safeguard what is called the White Australia policy, I trust that we shall have free-trade between the mainland and the territory.
– Surely the honorable senator does not propose to deport the natives of Papua ? .
– No, of course I do not ; but we can maintain the policy to which I have referred without doing so.
Having said what I consider to be just in praise of the Government, I shall proceed to make some remarks in which I shall have to express a somewhat different opinion. With regard to defence policy, it appears to me that the Government are rather local than Imperial in their view. I am sorry for that.
– We are only proposing to defend Australia.
– Exactly ; but some of us think that we should defend Australia quite as well if we were prepared to go far away from our own waters in case of necessity, and not wait until an enemy came to attack us in these seas. Some of us desire Australia to be prepared to go to assist Great Britain, even in European waters, should it be necessary.
– We shall best assist Great Britain by defending ourselves.
– The honorable senator means that we should present a Dreadnought ?
– Well, personally, I have subscribed to the Dreadnought fund. Did the honorable senator who interrupts me do that?
– No, I did not ; every one has not bled the public so much as the honorable senator has been able to bleed them.
– With regard to financial matters. I do not see how we can expect to go ahead with the Federation otherwise than with the assistance of a loan. I do not see how we can undertake many public works and pay for them out of revenue. To begin with, we propose to consolidate the debts of the States. Will honorable senators opposite kindly tell me how they propose to do that without the Federation entering upon a loan policy ?
– We can consolidate the debts of the States without adding to the Australian debt.
– I do not intend to answer interjections, particularly from one who always takes pleasure in rushing at whatever I have to say. I maintain that it is impossible to undertake the consolidationof the debts of the States unless the Federal Government are prepared to initiate a loan policy. Then, with regard’ to public works being paid for out of revenue - the theory is very nice; but why, if we are to have reproductive public works, should we not pay for them out of loans, and have a sinking fund by means of which to pay off the loans gradually? How can we possibly construct railways to Western Australia, or to Port Darwin, or undertake any other expensive public work, and meet the charges out of revenue? Are we to wait year in a.nd year out until we accumulate sufficient money to pay for these works’? Will that suit our Western Australian friends? Returning to the matter of de- -. fence policy, I consider, as I have said before, that we ought to increase our contribution towards the cost of the British Navy. A payment of ,£200,000 per annum is not, in my opinion, sufficient for a great part of the Empire like the Commonwealth to pay towards the defence of the Empire. We ought to increase the amount considerably. I should be in favour of making our contribution £750,000, but the general opinion seems to be that the amount should be £500,000 per annum, and that irrespective of the presentation of a Dreadnought.
– There is no proposal for a Dreadnought now.
– I should like to see the Northern Territory acquired by the Commonwealth. But how is that to be clone without a loan policy? Are we to think of taking over the debts of that Territory and paying them out of revenue? The idea is simply ridiculous.
– How shall we pay off the debts that we owe now?
– We shall pay off these loans as the population increases; and our population will largely increase, in spite of persons who do not consider any interests except what seem to be immediately their own. We shall have an increasing income as we have an increasing population, and we can establish a sinking fund for the repayment of loans expended on reproductive works. We hear a great deal about land taxation, and direct taxation. J am not opposed to the principle of direct taxation, but when necessary it ought to take the form of an income tax, not of a land tax. Various States have sold land, as they might have sold anyother commodity. When a man buys an article, he takes the chance of its becoming more or less valuable.. There is land in Australia which has. become more valuable than it was when, it was purchased. Some people therefore think that we ought to tax that land, with’ the object of .compelling those who own it to sell it. I am going to show how fair an income tax would be as compared with, a land tax. A land tax affects only one form of wealth. Many per sons have large incomes who own very little land. A land tax would not touch them at all. But if you have an income tax, every person with a large income has to pay, no matter whether he owns land or not. I maintain that if a man buys land and it goes up in value, he is entitled to that advantage. He took the risk of its going down in value.
– Is it not a fact that land as a whole has increased in value?
– The honorable senator will have his opportunity of knocking down my arguments afterwards, and no doubt he will be able to do it very well. The British Government are proposing, in reference to their income tax, to make exemptions in the case of those who have families under sixteen years of age. It is proposed that there shall be an exemption of so much per head for each child. That seems to me to be an excellent idea. We have in this Senate more than once discussed the question of a minimum , wage. It has been held that 7s. a day is a fair minimum. It would therefore be fair to say that an income of £110 a year should be exempt from income tax. We should be justified in exempting £110 for the husband, £110 for the wife, and £26 per annum for each child under sixteen. See how that would work out. Take a family of three, consisting of the husband, the wife, and a child. The exemption would be £246 per annum, increasing £26 per annum for each child under sixteen. Let me show, as against that, the unfairness of a land tax. The Governments of the States have sold land at a price which suited them at the time. Why punish the purchasers because land has become more valuable? I fail to see why. I will give an instance to show the absurdity of it. Suppose that a man, whom we will call Mr. A., has a piece of land 1,000 acres in extent. Suppose Mr. B. offers £1,000 for it. Mr. A. says, “ No, thank you, I am not going to sell.” Suddenly, we shall suppose, a land tax is imposed. The charge upon Mr. A.’s land is ,£10 per annum. He meets B., and says, “You can have that land now.” But B. says, “.That is all very well; I offered you £1,000 for it some time ago, but now there is upon it a tax of £10 a year. On a 5 per cent, basis that means £200 capital value. I will give you ,£800 for the property.” You there make a person owning the land! pay taxation in a capitalized form. That is spoliation ; there is absolutely no other name for it.
– Is it not a good thing if a country has cheap land available?
– I cannot see why land should be taxed and not personal property. Why should there not be a general property tax? That result is obtained by an income tax, whereby you make every, person, according to his means, less the exemptions agreed to, pay at exactly the same rate.
– There is no analogy between land and any other form of personal property. The latter is the creation of industry, while land is the creation of the Creator.
– Land is improved by settlement.
– By the people.
– The Government propose to introduce a progressive land tax.
– No, a tax on the unimproved value.
– In Sydney . they have a tax on the unimproved value, and if that is not sufficient they also tax the improved value.
– - That is in connexion with local government.
– I think that a land tax is absolutely correct if the money is used for nw.sly local purposes, because then it is expended in the district, and the owners of properties receive some benefit from the expenditure. The Commonwealth issue of notes is a large question, which I am not going into at present. I can see strong arguments on each side. In days gone by I advocated the proposal. It must be remembered that if a benefit is derived in revenue from the issue of the Government notes it will be done at the expense of the States, which, with the exception of Queensland, derive revenue from a tax on bank notes in circulation in their territory. I am very glad to hear that the Government are in favour of immigration. That, of course, is a debatable point with many. A member of the Legislature said to me yesterday - “ I came to this country with precious little, but I am fairly comfortable to-day. I have every reason to be thankful that I’ came. I hope that a number of my countrymen will follow my example and come.” The views of this gentleman do not altogether coincide with the views of the Labour Party, of which he is a member. I lived in
Queensland for many years and saw there the advantage of assisted immigration. I remember the time when Queensland had a population of only 46,000 whereas to-day it has half-a-million more people. Wages are higher, comfort is greater, and the new population has done good to those who preceded them as well as to themselves.
– To-day they are paying interest on £3,000,000, borrowed to pay the passages of people.
– The honorable senator is referring to Mci 1 wraith’s £3,000,000 loan, which came years afterwards. I am a believer in what is called a homestead law. It is, however, a matter for the States, unless we acquire the Northern Territory, when, of course, we could have our own homestead law. I should like to see that idea carried out, and to give immigrants who pay their passages here homesteads from 160 to 640 acres, according to their position, and, when inland, to allow them free passages for two years to and from the capital, so that they -should not be placed at a great disadvantage by reason of having gone so far inland. I believe that many persons would be delighted to have a homestead under those circumstances. In some places an area of 160 acres is quite as valuable as an area of 640 acres elsewhere.
– You would have plenty of dummying, as you had before.
– I hope not. We can pretty well prevent dummying.
– They .have not yet been able to do so in Australia.
– In Queensland there are grazing areas, and the authorities do not allow a man to sell or transfer a grazing area to another man who has above a certain area for grazing purposes.
– That is not so. Men up there have had practically dummies on their farms, and the dummies refused to hand over- the farms.
– I suppose that so long as human nature is what it is we shall have persons prepared to do such things. In regard to immigration, Queensland has a nomination system. I propose to mention a case showing the advantage of the system. My wife had a very faithful servant who nominated her brother, a gardener at home, to come out to Queensland, and she paid £2 for the nomination.
In clue course he arrived in Brisbane by an immigrant ship. The sister, who was our nurse, asked me, if I heard of any person wanting a gardener to mention her brother’s name. Mr. George King, of Gowrie Station, came to Brisbane, and said. “ I have come down to engage a gardener, and I see that an immigrant ship has arrived.” I said to him, “ Would you mind mentioning the name of our nurse’s brother, A. B. ?” Well, Mr. King went to the Immigration Depot and said that he wanted an assistant gardener. The authorities said, “ We have several gardeners, have you any particular person in mind?” Mr.’ King said, “Yes, I want A. B.” The authorities said, “The man is not in at present, but we have others here.” Mr. King replied, “Tell A. B. that I shall be back at 3 o’clock,” and he returned at that hour. Although he had come to town intending to give 15s. a week and rations, he liked the appearance of A. B. so much that he gave him £1 per week and rations to begin with. After a time, when bacl seasons came, Mr. King had to economize and to tell A. B. that he would have ‘ to’ leave. In the meantime the man’s sister jo Brisbane was looking after his interests. One day. when she was going into the Botanical Gardens with our children, one of the trustees happened to ask who they were. He asked several questions, and then our nurse screwed up her courage to ask if there was any chance for a gardener to get an appointment in the gardens. He said, “ If a vacancy occurs I will let Mr. Walker know.” He kept his promise, and A. B. received an appointment as gardener. He afterwards rose to the position of second gardener. There is an instance of the advantage of the immigration nomination system. Persons who nominate friends see that they get employment on arrival. If that system were adopted generally, we should get many immigrants who would be looked after here. Some persons allege that in New South Wales they are not taking trouble to look after immigrants on their arrival ; but that is not so. Senator Turley can tell me if in Brisbane the authorities do not take some trouble to look after immigrants at the depot.
– They see the immigrants, and find employment as” soon as possible for them; but the question of wages does not come under very close scrutiny.
– In Sydney we are endeavouring to look after immigrants. The following letter appeared in the last issue of the Sydney Sunday Times, which combines general information with Sunday reading
From Moree we are in receipt of the following letter written by a young Englishman, who came out to New South Wales about a year ago to go on the land : - “Sir, - Kindly allow me space in your valuable paper to say a few words on New South Wales and its people. I have been out twelve months, and have got on very well ; and I intend to make it my home. There is no doubt that if one has a little push, is willing to work, and keeps away from the’ beer springs, he is sure to succeed. There are some Australians who have a dislike to immigrants ; they look upon us as aliens. Why, we “are picked men, though in saying this, I don’t want to boast, as there are better at Home. The Government take good care whom they bring out. “ If the country is to go ahead, then it must be peopled. Every man or woman who comes in is worth ^50 to the country, as they require clothing, food, &c. That means they will employ others to give them things to keep body and soul together. Take America or “ Canada”; see how these countries have risen ; what was the cause? Why, immigration. This country is far behind so far owing to antiimmigrationists, and will be nothing better until its gates are thrown open wide to triose who are willing and qualified to come. - Immigrant.”
I am afraid that there are a. good many persons who, when they talk of a White Australia mean Australia for the whites now here and for no one else. It is simply impossible to find any country in which there are not some persons who are always poor and unfortunate, but there is no reason why other persons should not have an opportunity to enter the country.
– Who tries to hinder them? The ports are open, and ships are coming in every week.
– At the present time a good many immigrants are coming from New Zealand to Australia.
– Nobody hinders them.
– New Zealand is a country where people are supposed to have advanced legislation, and where everything is going to be very prosperous.
– The honorable senator’s pet policy of borrowing huge sums has “been in full force there.
– There is such a thing as legitimate, borrowing. If a Government borrow legitimately, they can get money at 3^ per cent., and use it, possibly, at 7 per cent. It is not such a bad game.
– I am surprised at a Christian gentleman advocating usury.
– Well, I cannot help it. Why is it that the.se people are coming to Australia? They find that it is a better field than New Zealand for their enterprise.
– Because New Zealand has been overrun with immigrants.
– There are two kinds of democracies - the false and the true. When unionists demand preference, and call non-unionists ,: black-legs “ and “scabs,” I call that false democracy, and I am not at all sure that some steps should not be taken to prevent such objectionable 4erms being applied to honest men who are trying to earn an honest living. When we recognise the libertv of men to act independently, that is something like true democracy. The Broken Hill disturbance is an object lesson to us all if we choose to look into it carefully.
– In what direction ?
– My honorable friend will admit, I suppose, that freedom of contract was ignored. There was no such thing as freedom of contract in Broken Hill. There was mob law, and I regret to say that certain powers did not act as I expected.
– No, the company refused to obey the mandate of the Court.
– That reminds me of something to which I shall refer presently.
– Under the Arbitration Act you cannot have freedom of contract.
– So it seems. That is a nice state of things. I am afraid that I shall have to make one or more rather disparaging remarks of certain mem”bers of the Ministry. I am sorry to have to say that I think the Attorney-General and the Postmaster-General have acted in a manner unbecoming their high offices. I regret it because they are men for whom I have respect.
– Is that because we stopped the letters to Tattersall’s?
– I am referring /now to the disturbances which occurred at Broken Hill. I suppose that no person regrets more than does the Attorney-General what he did at the time to which I refer. I hope so, to do him justice.
– What is it to which the honorable senator takes exception?
– Later on I may, perhaps, show Senator Turley ‘ a few cartoons which will indicate what I take exception to. I shall not say any more upon that point.
– The honorable senator has said either too much or too little.
– The idea of men, because they were out of work, daring to try to put the blame upon the constabulary. Surely all persons should support law and order? Wrfoever believes that the constabulary were the cause of the row which occurred at Broken Hill ? The idea of men daring to suggest that it was the presence of the police that caused the row. No innocent person objects to the presence of a policeman. When a man objects he usually has some good reason for it. I believe, that the conduct of the police at Broken Hill was above all praise. I know that when formerly rows occurred at Broken Hill two of the men who, unfortunately for themselves, got into gaol, afterwards got into Parliament. Unhappily, there are some persons who seem to think that one of the best ways of getting into Parliament is to be mixed up in a row. I hope that one man who is somewhat prominent just now at Broken Hill will never darken the doors of this Parliament. Now, with regard to the conduct of certain persois at public meetings, I very much regret to have to say that we scarcely ever have a political public meeting in Sydney which is not disturbed by persons belonging to another political party. It would appear to be always people who belong to a certain party who come to our meetings and disturb them. When they have meetings of their own, persons belonging to our party do not disturb them.
– What party is the honorable senator referring to?
– I refer to labour sympathizers ; the men who are always talking about the “blacklegs,” “scabs,” and such like. Those are the people who come to our meetings and disturb them. I hope that it is necessary only to mention this matter to induce the powers that, be to endeavour to discourage the practice.
– Were there not disorderly political meetings in Sydney before the Labour Party came into existence?
– I am speaking, not for all time, but for the present time.
The other day a. meeting was held in Sydney which .was presided over by a lady, Mrs. Moseley, who is president of the Women’s League in Sydney. The members of the League invited Mr. Joseph Cook, of the House of Representatives, to address them, and this is what Mrs. Moseley had to say upon her experience at the meeting -
I am ashamed of my countrymen. I think you men who hare been disturbing this meeting must surely have forgotten that you are the guests of women. I used to think Australian men had some chivalry. We have heard a great deal to-night of the loud laugh that betokens the vacant mind. A great man)’ of you seem to l«ive come here, not to listen yourselves, but to prevent other people from hearing. That is a very rude thing to do. “ Does you mother know you’re out?” interposed an uncouth individual in the second front row. He had been a conspicuous interrupter throughout the evening, but this last straw so riled an old gentleman sitting near him that he rose and shook his stick in the individual’s face. The conduct of this particular political specimen was characteristic of the bearing of a considerable section of the audience right through the meeting. So obstructive were the tactics of these people that at one stage Mr. Cook was constrained to say : - The time will come, and very shortly, if this sort of thing is permitted in public meeting, when something will have to be done to put it down. People who abuse their freedom will have to have it curtailed a_ little. This is not freedom ; it is license.” The meeting was held under the auspices of the Women’s Liberal League, and Mrs. Moseley remarked that that one experience was sufficient for them. In future they would be compelled to stay in their own clubrooms.
There is another matter about which I feel very strongly. I refer to picketing and boycotting. Theoretically picketing is moral suasion ; but will any man tell me that it is merely moral suasion if, when one desires to go from one place to another, three or four hundred persons pass backwards and forwards in order to prevent him from doing so? I think that picketing will have to be put down by law.
– What is picketing?
– Exactly, what is it ? I am not surprised at the interruption by honorable senators’ opposite, because the party to which they belong desire to go in for unification. They are not Federationists according to my idea of Federation.
– What has that to do with picketing?
– I think we have reason to be ashamed that such an awful state of affairs should exist in Australia as that which existed at Broken Hill. I consider that the disturbances which took place at Broken Hill are a blot upon Australia’s history. I repeat that I think this picketing and boycotting ought to be put down by law, whether by State or Commonwealth law I am not prepared to say.
– Is the honorable senator aware that picketing is allowed under the English law?
– I do not care whether it is allowed in England or not, I hope that it will not be allowed in Australia.
– There has been picketing at the Grand Hotel for the last three weeks whilst the fusionists have been at work.
– I am sure that no one will be more ready than will Senator Findley to admit that the so-called moral suasion practised recently at Broken Hill was immoral suasion.
– There must have been a lot of immoral suasion used to bring about the “ fusion.”
– I believe that what I now intend to say will be rather unpopular. The High Court of Australia ought to attract the very highest legal ability in the Commonwealth, and, in my opinion, we cannot look for that unless we arrange that the Justices of the High Court shall be given pensions on retirement.
– There is ios. a week for them.
– Unless some such system is adopted, we may have men in a bad state of health continuing to retain their seats on the High Court Bench, and we may have to incur expense for the services of temporary Justices. I feel very strongly upon this point, and have all along advocated these pensions.
– The “ fat man “ always is strongly in favour of pensions.
– Senator Givens is much fatter than I am. I should like to say that very recently the Premier of Queensland, in connexion with the appointment of a Judge of the State Supreme Court, acted in what I believe to be a splendid manner. He did not permit the State Attorney-General to think that because he was Attorney-General he was entitled to occupy any position on the Bench he pleased. He offered his Attorney-General a certain position on the Supreme Court Bench, and when that gentleman was not satisfied with the position offered the Premier appointed another man - a splendid man, I consider, and a fine lawyer - as a
Justice of the State Supreme Court. I refer to the present Mr. Justice Shand. In my opinion the appointment was a splendid one. But Mr. Shand had never been in politics, and apparently such a man would, not be considered by the Federal Parliament as eligible for a position on the High Court Bench. I think that, if necessary, we should go to the States Supreme Courts if we could get there the best man to fill a vacancy on the High’ Court Bench. In my opinion, the Attorney-General for the time,, being, whoever he may be, has no prescriptive right to a vacancy on the High Court Bench.
– We are all agreed on that.
– I am glad to hear it. I think that we must secure the appointment of the very best men, and if we are to appoint a man having a good practice, we must give him something to look forward to in his old age.
– Is not £3,000 a year a nice little income?
– For a man of the best legal ability £3,000 a year does not appear to me to be an excessive income. Many men in ordinary business earn £3,500 a year. At the present time I know of men who are simply in charge of businesses who get as much as £2,000 a year, and in America men occupying similar positions get much more. I thought it right that some one should say what I have said on this subject. We must look forward to possible vacancies on the High Court Bench, and in the event of a vacancy arising we. should look all over Australia to secure the very best man.
– Have we not got the best men now ?
– We have some of the very best men now. But vacancies may occur. I am not saying a word about the present Justices of the High Court; but I am looking to the future, and if retiring allowances to the Justices of the High Court should be instituted according to length of service, I hope that the present Chief Justice’s ten years’ service on the Queensland Bench will not be overlooked. It is probable that there will be some change in the Government shortly, but on the supposition that the present Government will remain in power, I should like to express the hope that the Minister of Defence may be accompanied to the proposed Conference by some gentleman from the other side in politics, if it be only to show that the defence question is not a party question. I hope that whatever Government may be in power, a representative from each side will be sent to the Conference. On the subject of unnecessary friction between the States and the Commonwealth, I should like to say that the Senate is the States House, and we are specially called upon to see that the Constitution is observed in everything that affects the interests of the States.
– That being so, why should the States Premiers be continually poking their noses in?
– The States Premiers have no right to be called “ insects “ by anybody. I think it is monstrous that any man in high authority should apply such epithets to the Premiers of the States.
– Who called them “ insects “?
– I am not going to sa.y who did so, but I know that it has been done, and I consider it a monstrous thing. We should be careful in our Federal financial legislation not to disturb the finances of the States, and we shall disturb them radically if we insist that all Federal public works shall be paid for out of revenue.
– The honorable senator desires that we should borrow.
– We might impose direct taxation. I am not prepared to say that we should, not impose an income tax, as we have the right to impose direct_taxation, but I believe that a land tax should be left to the States Parliaments. Perhaps I have occupied the time of the Senate too long, but I should like to conclude by saying that, so far as the representatives of the Government in the Senate are concerned - Senators. Pearce and McGregor - they never stood higher in my estimation than they do to-day.
– - I was rather annoyed that I missed the opportunity to rise after the leader of the Opposition. I had fully intended to do so, but Senator Walker was rather too nimble for me. However, since I have listened to the honorable senator, and in view of the very brief speech of the leader of the Opposition, I think I have every reason to be thankful that Senator Walker preceded me. The leader of the Opposition stated that in view of something that has occurred, or is occurring somewhere - I do not know whether it is at the Grand Hotel or within the precincts of the Commonwealth Parliament House - it was unnecessary, so far as he was concerned, to deal with the legislation foreshadowed by the present Government. He thought it wisest to deal only with questions of administration. Personally, I think that his list of” grievances is a very limited one. When the only complaint which the leader of the Opposition in this Chamber has to make is one of such an insignificant character as that voiced by
– I did not make it as a complaint. I congratulated the Government upon the distribution of the ‘statements contained in the publication in question.
– I heard what the honorable senator said. We all know that the congratulations of some persons are like the crowing of a game cock - they are only an invitation to battle. When congratulations are showered upon us by honorable senators on the opposite side of the Chamber . I am justified in being suspicious of them.
– I tried to be fair to the honorable senator.
– I sympathise with the leader of the Opposition. I know that he is far too fair-minded to manufacture grievances against the Government in the way that has been customary with other prominent men in the Commonwealth. On behalf of the Government, I feel flattered to learn that the only grievance which he harbours is that to which he has already given expression. I am sure that if his acuteness could have ferreted out any. other complaint he would have been the first to voice it, and thus to have let the country know of it.
– What about his conversion ?
– I have nothing to do with the conversion of the leader of the Opposition in this Chamber, or of that of the leader of the Opposition elsewhere. Upon the present occasion I wish to confine my remarks to the criticisms which have been levelled against the Government. Senator Millen has quoted from a production which, it is said, has been subsidized to some extent by the Government, and he assured us that from the words printed in that publication he would confound every supporter of the Ministry so far as the question of the land available for closer settlement in the Commonwealth was concerned. But how did he seek to attain his object ? Did he attempt to achieve it in a straightforward manner, as is his custom? No. Hebegan by detaching certain words from the article which he quoted, and by connecting, them, without any regard for the position which they occupied in that article.
– Show me a single instance in which a quotation which I ma dewas misconstrued.
– The honorable- senator by detaching certain words from the article in the Clarion sought to makea text upon which he could hang a few arguments of a very indifferent character. His quotation was to the effect that therewere vast areas of land still in the possession of the Crown. I challenge him or any other honorable senator to point to a singleinstance in which any member of the Labour Party has a.t any time stated that there were not large areas still in possession of the Crown. But in respect of all’ those lands in North Queensland and theNorthern Territory to which reference is made - lands which are capable of producing sugar - I ask him whether there isany means of obtaining access to them at the present time? Would he as a member of a Government advise that immigrants should be brought out and dumped downthere, when he knows, that it would be impossible for them to earn a livelihood there within a reasonable period?
– Then, why did the Government send that message to Germany ?
– We sent it to Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain for the purpose of informing their people of the sort of country that Australia is. I tell the honorable senator, further, that our action was taken in anticipation of the policy of the Government being carried’ into effect. We wanted so to improve the conditions which obtain in Australia that that immigration about which we hear so much would speedily set in.
– That is the reason why the fusion movement has set in.
– Never mind about fusion at the present time. We can see about that later. It is true that in Australia there are immense areas still in possession of the Crown. There are millions of acres in Central Australia upon which it is impossible for either immigrants or our own residents to make a living within a reasonable period owing to the- difficulties which obtain in the matter of communication. In South Australia there is a place called Arltunga where there is a prospect of mining operations yielding a return of two ounces of gold per ton, but owing to the difficulty of getting stores and machinery there at anything like a reasonable cost it is impossible for population to settle there. On the way to Western Australia there is another place called Tarcoola - a mining centre located upon Crown lands - 280 miles distant from any facilities which would enable it to obtain goods or machinery. Would Senator Millen transport immigrants to a place like that, even though there was untold wealth beneath their feet, when he knows that it would be impossible for them to earn a livelihood? Yet that is the sort of thing to which we have been forced to listen. The honorable senator has taken a phrase out of the article from which he quoted and has attempted to hang sound arguments upon it, but with very little success. When the Minister of External Affairs recommended the adoption of the form of advertisement which appears in the Clarion he did so to distinguish it from the class of advertisements which have previously appeared in English publications.
-i entirely commend the Government for doing that.
– I am sure that honorable senators have seen copies of the Standard of Empire and of the advertisements which appeared in that journal. The advertisement which is contained in the Clarion is far in advance of anything of that kind from the stand-point of conveying to the people of Great Britain a fair idea of the conditions which obtain in Australia. If honorable senators will examine the Clarion of 1st March last they will see that the advertisement which it contains is one of the best that has yet been put before the public of the Old World.
– Upon the whole it is an excellent production.
– The honorable senator stated several times during his speech that the Government had expended £700 upon the publication in question. I know that he is willing to be corrected, and I want to tell him that the full issue purchased by the Government numbered 7,000 copies, 3,000 of which were distributed in Great Britain, 1,250 in France, 1,250 in Germany, and . 1,250 in Italy. The whole cost incurred by the Government was only £225. It was because the Minister considered that the offer was the cheapest that the Commonwealth had had for effectively advertising Australian conditions that it was accepted. If the leader of the Opposition brought this matter forward as an argument against the policy of the Government in respect of its progressive land tax proposals it was about the weakest argument which he could have adduced, because the publication in question shows that Australia is a country which is capable of the greatest development. To my mind its possibilities surpass those of any other country in the world. With good government and proper legislation by this Parliament 1 am sure that such conditions will be brought about that no trouble will be experienced in attracting immigrants. It has been repeatedly stated that the Labour Party is opposed to immigration. Everywhere that I have had an opportunity of doing so I have given that statement the most emphatic denial, and every member of the party to which I belong is prepared to do the same thing. Every believer in the Labour Party will echo the same sentiments. We are not opposed to immigration. We recognise that there is room in Australia for millions more people than are here at the present time. But we first desire the establishment of conditions which will induce immigrants to come to our shores. Senator Walker told us - and the letter which he read suggested it - that there is some bar to theadmission of immigrants to Australia. Can any honorable senator point to any act of the Labour Party which has imposed a bar upon the free admission of immigrants from any European country, and particularly from Great Britain, to Australia? I am sure that Senator Walker is too honest to suggest anything of the kind, and consequently it must have been suggested to him. Any man or woman can come here from France, Germany, Italy, Austria, or any other European country. There is nothing to prevent them, unless they come under some restriction in connexion with lunacy, contagious diseases, or past conduct of a criminal character. As long as they are healthy, honest, well-intentioned people, and have money to pay their passages to Australia they are as welcome here as is any one who is in the country at the present time. Honorable senators opposite know that. They have known it all along, and I do not know why they should repeatedly make the statement that there is some bar against immigrants of s suitable character coming to this country. Senator Walker read a letter that was published in the Sunday Times, Sydney. I am surprised at that honorable senator reading a newspaper published on a Sunday - such a good Presbyterian as he is, too ! Now, I happened to be in a house at Leichhardt on the very Sunday when the particular issue of the Sunday Times referred to was published. The people of the house were Presbyterians, but they were not so fanatical as not to get the Sunday Times. That very letter was read to me, and, from the moment when the signature .was announced, I said, “ That must have been written in the office of the newspaper, because any honest immigrant coming from any part of the world, and meeting with the success indicated, would never be ashamed to sign his name.” I know too much of that sort of thing. I know that such letters are published for a purpose. There is another thing which I should like to say to my honorable friends opposite in connexion with immigration. During the last few months I have travelled a good deal in Australia. At Warwick, in Queensland, I met two young immigrants who had come out to Australia and were looking for land. At the time when I met them they had been in this country three months, but they had not been able to get land, and they expected that before there was any chance of getting it all the money they had with them would be spent. They are still looking for it. In Toowoomba, I met another gentleman who had brought two sons to Australia. They were coming down to Goulburn, New South Wales. This gentleman could neither get land for himself nor for his sons, whom he was prepared to settle if he could get suitable land for the purpose. But he had no chance of getting it. He conversed with the Prime Minister and myself, and when he heard the policy which we advocated, although he had never taken any interest in the Labour Party before, he expressed himself as glad that he had met us and very pleased with the policy which we outlined, and said that henceforth he would do all he could to spread the gospel of labour wherever he went. These are cases that I do not need to go to the Sunday Times to read about. They are instances which I ha.ve met myself. I do not think, however, that there is any great benefit to be derived from dwelling further on what has been said by. the leader of the Opposition. I never knew his remarks on such an occasion to be so short. I never saw him placed in such a position during my experience in the Senate, and, as far as policy is concerned, he absolutely had not a. word to say, because he knows that, in days gone by he himself had a very kindly leaning towards land values taxation. He may be hedging a little bit at the present time, and probably did not want to say too much. As far as relates to anything that has transpired, or is transpiring; - as referred to by the leader of the Opposition - all that I have to say is that what ir, taking place is about the most peculiar political syzygium that I ever met with. It seems to be a kind of conservative-liberal democracy. Persons holding every profession of politics are joining together. But there is one thing that I can safely say about it. It will be peculiar if such a combination holds together with the firmness and determination that exists in the ranks of the Labour Party. I said that I was very glad that Senator Walker had had an opportunity to make a few remarks before I followed the leader of the Opposition. There is a consensus of opinion amongst those heterogeneous elements that have “ fused “ lately, that protection is the proper policy for Australia. I wonder what staunch free-traders like Senator Pulsford and Senator Walker have to say about the present position in that respect. But I must thank Senator Walker sincerely and honestly for the very kind things he said about the present Government. I believe firmly that everything, he said is really true. I have travelled with the Prime Minister through most of Australia, and everywhere we went evidences were abundantly presented to’ us that, both on personal grounds and because of the policy which he represents, the Prime Minister is becoming immensely popular. Senator Walker was very kind in acknowledging the fact. But the honorable senator branched off to an attack upon the defence policy of the party to which I belong. He says that, in his opinion, and the opinion of the general public, the naval subsidy to Great Britain should be increased, and that we should, also donate a Dreadnought to the Mother Country. At the same time he believes that we should proceed with our own local defence. Senator .Walker is satisfied that the majority of the public share his opinion.
Now I say, on the contrary, that the majority of the public do not believe in anything of the kind. I say further that the majority of the leading statesmen in Great Britain do not believe in the policy which the honorable senator supports.
– The party which Senator Walker supports will not dare to propose the giving of a Dreadnought, notwithstanding all their cry.
– I will tell the Senate what I think of that matter before I have finished. The defence policy of the present Government has been the policy of the Labour Party ever since it came into the Federal Parliament. We have only to turn back to Hansard for 1903, when the present subsidy was under discussion, and we shall find that the then leader of the Labour Party, the present leader of the Labour Party, I myself in the Senate, and many others, outlined the kind of defence that we considered best suited to Australia,. The greatest authorities in Great Britain acknowledge to-day, after six or seven years, that we were right at that time. Lord Tweedmouth himself says that it would be of very gTeat. advantage to the British Empire if Australia, South Africa, and Canada would begin to build fleets of vessels of their own, and he points out what an assistance they would be to the fleets of the Mother Country if they knew that there were in Australia,, South Africa, and Canada, small vessels ready to hand, well equipped, and manned by trained men, prepared to join in the defence, not only of the Dominions to which they belong, (but of the Empire itself.
– What has the Governor of South Australia said?
– I need hardly quote the Governor of South Australia”. I need hardly quote such eminent authorities as Lord Charles Beresford, Mr. Alfred Lyttleton, and many others.
– Including ViceAdmiral Poore.
– Of course, Vice-Admiral Poore is not sogood an authority as is Senator Gray, Senator Walker, or Senator Pulsford. They know far more about the requirements of Australia and of the British Empire, than do men who have spent their lives in the navy.
– Did not the honorable senator read Vice- Admiral Poore’s address the other day?
– I had every bit of it read to me. The honorable senator is referring to the fact that ViceAdmiral Poore said that he would like Australia to defend herself, and present Dreadnoughts, and do a great many other things. But the whole tenor of his remarks was that our first duty was to defend ourselves, and then offer something to somebody else. When the Labour Government came into power they were not slow to investigate the whole situation, in order to find out, not only what the feeling in Australia was, but also what the feeling in the Old Country was, in order that they might take action on the information that they gained from these inquiries. The result was our commencement with the nucleus of a naval force for the defence of Australia. But no sooner had the Labour Government enunciated a policy of this description than people who were opposed to the labour policy, without having the same information, at once hurried into the field, condemning us for what we had done without the authority of Parliament. They advocated, however, something else that involved the expendituie of a far greater amount of money than was contemplated by the action of the Labour Party. Senator Walker says that we could easily get money for the purpose of presenting a Dreadnought to the Old Country. But let me ask Senator Walker whether, if he wanted to make a present to his parents, or to his elder brother, or to any other relation, he would first, go to them and borrow the money to pay for the present? How ridiculous it would be if he went to a relative and asked for the loan of£5,000 in order to make a present to him !
– Is not the honorable senator aware that two banks of Australia offered the Federal Government , £2,000,000 for thispurpose ?
– I am aware of all these things. None of them has escaped my notice. But, it does not matter whether banks in Australia or banks, in England lent us the money. It would be a loan just the same. And the ridiculous part of it is that Senator Walker would borrow£2,000,000 to present a Dreadnought to the Old Country, and would leave the children of the present generation of the people of Australia to pay for it.
– We could pay the £2,000,000 out of a sinking fund.
– But the. present generation would be dead before there would be sufficient money in the sinking fund to pay off the £2,000,000. We should have the credit of presenting the Dr tadnought, and should pass on the liability of paying for it to a future generation. The meanness of the proposition ought to be apparent to almost everybody.
– The honorable senator seems to forget that a Dreadnought fund is being collected for the very purpose.
– I am very glad that the honorable senator has reminded me of that fact, as I desire to object to the methods which have been adopted for the collection of the fund. To the very schools they send round circulars asking the children to pay into the fund the pennies which they get for other purposes, and even the civil servants are being compelled or cajoled into subscribing to it. I have been told that at one of the agricultural shows near Sydney, where there was a concourse of . people numbering over 100,000, about £5,000 or £6,000 was paid for admission, while the amount they subscribed to the Dreadnought fund was twenty shillings. Yet Senator Walker will come here and tell us that there is a general feeling amongst the people of Australia that this thing ought to be done. After all this -striving and cajoling for at least four months, what does the fund in New South Wales amount to? It does not reach £70,000. That would hardly buy a funnel for a Dreadnought, and I am sure that Senator Needham can post Senator Walker on that point. As regards the defence of Australia, I think that the policy advocated by the present Government will have the effect of making people, young and old, rely upon themselves for their own protection. That is the spirit which the statesmen of Great Britain want to encourage in the outlying Dominions, so that it will come to the front when the whole Empire may be in danger, or in a crisis. I am sure that when Senator Walker was a boy his parents always protected him, but if a boy was not able to protect himself against an enemy of his own age and size his parents would despise him. -That was the way in which I was brought up. My father and mother would always protect me against any one who was stronger than myself, but if I could not protect myself against my equals I got very little sympathy from them. It is exactly the same in the British Empire. If the children of Great Britain are not prepared to protect themselves, or to do something for their own protection against enemies which may raid their coasts from time to time, then neither the people nor the Government of Great Britain can have any great appreciation or us. Consequently I hold that the policy put forward by the present Government is the best one in the interests of Australia. Senator Walker dealt with the question of immigration, which was briefly referred to by his leader. I want to tell honorable senators and readers of Hansard the real facts with respect to the position of Australia. I have already shown that immigrants have come here and met with disappointment. Every man can realise that the accounts they will send away will not encourage their friends in Great Britain or elsewhere to follow their example. We know that in the big cities of Australia there are thousands of men and women who are unable to find employment, or to earn sufficient to keep themselves and their families. All these persons have relatives in Great Britain, and they will not advise their friends to come to Australia. But when the conditions are improved as I have indicated, so that every man, woman, and child in Australia shall have ample opportunities for making a good living, then they will be able to invite their friends to come here. I desire briefly to acquaint honorable senators with the actual conditions. In every community it is always the best land which is first alienated. Those who have the first choice do not take the worst land. Approximately, New South Wales contains 200,000,000 acres of land good, bad, and indifferent, and pf that area 50,500,000 acres have already been alienated. That is one quarter of the total area. Does Senator Walker take in that fact?-
– I am aware that three-quarters of the total area have not yet been alienated.
– Yes; but in what relation does the unalienated land stand to the railways and means of communication? In New South Wales, as in other States, an attempt is being made to’ settle people on the land. I want to tell Senator Walker the enormous effect which that attempt has had, and what, so far as his State is concerned, he has to crow about. Out of the 50,500,000 acres of alienated land, only 2,500,000 acres are under cultivation. During the last twelve months an additional area of 500,000 acres has been alienated ; but during that period there have been 250,000 less acres under cultivation than in the previous year. Although an attempt is being made to settle people on the land, it is being aggregated into larger estates at one end faster than it is being settled at the other. Consequently, instead of the rural population df the State increasing, it is diminishing. I have heard the leader of the Opposition here say that this may only apply to the west-central district, where the land is not so valuable, but if he will consult the agricultural statistics of his State he will find that it exists in almost every district, and that in the best districts it exists to the greatest extent. That shows that it is nearly time that something was done to put a stop to the gradual aggregation of land into large estates.
– From Yass to Queanbeyan there are very few families living on the land.
– Yes, I know that. Victoria contains an area of about 56,500,000 acres, and nearly one half of that area has been alienated. The area cultivated is about 3,250,000 acres. During the last twelve months there has been an additional area of 500,000 acres alienated, and there has been 71,000 acres less under cultivation ; showing that the same condition of things exists here as in New South Wales. It also exists in Queensland. I hold in my hand a return showing the alienated land in each State, the increase in alienation, and the decrease in cultivation. In South Australia, during last vear, there was an increase of 500,000 acres in alienation, and an increase of 114,000 acres in cultivation. Nearly 350,000 acres of that additional alienation have not been cultivated. Honorable senators, when they consider these things, will recognise, I think, that it is the duty of any Government to take some action, and the present Government think that the best course is to impose such a tax on, not the area, but the value of the land, as will prevent speculation in land and conduce to it being put to the purposes for which it is most naturally fitted. That is the object of the policy of the present Government so far as taxation is concerned. As regards a progressive tax on land values, with the exception of absentees, we do not intend ‘to start with ‘that until we reach estates not of 5,000 acres, but of £5,000 in value. Senator Walker told us that although some land had increased in value other land had decreased in value. Does he know the real condition of things? In Victoria the alienated 27,000,000 acres returned to the Crown £31,000,000, and today that land is worth £131,000,000. Does that look as if there was any natural decrease anywhere?
– Oh, is there not?
– The alienated 50,000,000 acres in New South Wales returned very little over £1 per acre to the Crown, and the land is now worth £250,000,000.
– The honorable senator knows that I referred to individual cases.
– Those cases are very few and far between, and they are so overshadowed by the enormous increase in values generally that, except by a microscopic investigation, they could not be discovered. In South Australia 9,500,000 acres have been alienated. That land did not produce £1 per acre to the Crown, and it is now worth £27,000,000, according to the assessments, after appeals have been dealt with.
– The Government have had the use of that money all these years.
– Yes, and the owners and occupiers have had the use of the land for all these years. I remind the honorable senator that some States have borrowed enormous sums for building railways, carrying out water conservation works and constructing roads. All that expenditure went to enhance the value of land. Who does my honorable friend say should pay the interest on that borrowed money? He was good enough to put the case of a man who was offered £^1,000 for a block of 1,000 acres, and to point out that if a tax were imposed it would take .£200 off the value, and the man would then get only £800 for his block. Suppose that in some favoured locality in New South Wales the honorable senator had bought 1,000 acres for £1,000; and suppose, too, that the Government of the State had borrowed £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, and with that money had constructed adjacent to his block a railway or carried out water conservation works, or made other improvements which had increased the value of his holding to £3,000. Without doing anything to it himself he would have benefited to the extent of £2,000. Who should pay interest on that amount, received through the expenditure of public money ? Does Senator Walker wish me to believe that he thinks that the artisan, the professional men, and the business men in the city should pay the interest on that £2,000 ? If he does, I hold his judgment in less esteem than I did. I know that in honesty the honorable senator would admit that the man who received the benefit should pay the interest on that £2,000.
– If the honorable senator will excuse me, I said it ought to be for local taxation.
– The honorable senator is always in favour of something other than the proposal immediately before him. Probably if local taxation were proposed1 he Would not be inclined to go in that direction either.
– I have always believed in local taxation.
– I know the objections that are continually raised by honorable senators opposite. When arty proposition is made, they say, “ That is not the way in which it ought to be done; it ought to be done in some other way,” and if it were proposed to do it in that other way, they would say that it ought to be done in yet another way. They are always against the way proposed, and for that reason I doubt their sincerity in carrying out a policy, even though it would be advocated by themselves. If this progressive tax on land values were imposed, its first effect would be to raise revenue. Everyone knows that if the policy of the Labour Government, or for that matter the policy of any other Government, whether created by a fusion or otherwise, is to be carried out, additional revenue will be required.
– And the honorable senator contends that exempting values up to £5,000 will bring him revenue.
– The proposal exempts half of the values which might be taxed. In Tasmania it would exempt £13,000,000, and leave only ,£11,000,000 for taxation.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake; he does not understand the question a little. I wish to inform honorable senators that there are 45,000000 acres held in Australia in estates of over 10,000 acres each. I have stated the average increases of value in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, since the acquisition of the land by the present owners, at £3, £4> and £5 per acre. If we are to base any estimate upon these figures we have first of all tomultiply the 45,000^000 acres by whatever figure we choose, whether £3, £4, or £5, and the lowest average is £3, and then as there is 12 per cent, held in estates of over 40,000 acres and 12 per cent, in estates of over 30,000 acres, making 24 per cent, in estates of over 130,000 acres, honable senators will see that a tax of very nearly 3d. in the £1 would be the averageover the whole, and would give a revenueof nearly £1,500,000. Honorable senators will say that the owners would subdivide their estates,; but is not that one of the objects of legislation of this description? The first object of the proposal is the subdivision of land, in order that it may be put to its proper use. The next object is to raise revenue, and then the most important feature of the whole is that once the land was subdivided a tax on unimproved land values would operate to prevent it being aggregated into large estates, again. If honorable senators consider thematter earnestly they must recognise that to carry on the subdivision of land under existing conditions without any economicbar to its aggregation again into large estates would mean that in thirty or forty years’ time there would be another agitation for the repurchase of the land whichis being repurchased to-day. Honorablesenators must acknowledge that nothing could have a better effect in the permanent settlement of land than a progressive tax. such as that proposed.
– The honorable senator has not yet told us anything about the- £5,000 exemption.
– I did. I saidthat the tax was to begin at £5,000, and T told the honorable senator also that 45,000,000 acres of land is held in estatesof over 10,000 acres each.
– Why should there beany exemption?
– Because it may be safely assumed that if an estate is under £^5,000 in value the land is being put togood use. Again, in making an exemption of £5,000 in value we have some recognition of State rights. The States Parliaments will be able to tax the values up to £5,000 if they think it necessary in their interests. We do not consider it necessary in the interests of closer settlement, and consequently we do not attempt it.”
– It is only at the last’ moment that the Government have suggested that the States might tax up to £5,000.
– We are going on with our policy all the time. The Labour Party is the only party in politics at die present time that knows what it intends to do. Senator Dobson, in the fusion or confusion that he finds himself in at the present time, does not know where he is, where he is likely to be, or where he was last week. The Labour Party has a policy to which it adheres, and it tries to carry it into effect.
– Their land-tax policy is one of injustice.
– I do not know about that. All we desire is to appeal to the people of Australia to see what they think about it. If, in the opinion of a majority of the people, the policy is unjust, it will not be brought into practice. But if they think it right, all the Senators Dobson and Senators Walker in Tasmania and New South Wales will not prevent it toeing brought into effect. I propose to tell Senator Dobson something about his own island.
– I have told the honorable senator something about it which he will not believe.
– I tell the honorable senator that, in Tasmania, 5,500,000 acres have been alienated, that only 500,000 acres of that area have been brought under cultivation, and that, in twelve months, the increase in the area under cultivation was only 12,000 acres, but that alienated was half-a-million. These figures show a marked increase in the progress of alienation, but not of cultivation, in Tasmania. When we remember that in Tasmania there are only 500,000 acres under cultivation, it is no wonder that the people there are in a poverty-stricken condition at the present time.
– They are not in a poverty-stricken condition.
– Comparatively -speaking, the returns - of Customs and Excise taxation show it, because they show that the people of Tasmania pay about 7s. per head of population less than the people of the two average States of Victoria and South Australia. They are 7s. per head poorer than are the people of the two average States of the Commonwealth. I wish to show how that comes about. I do not know whether Senator Dobson will believe it or not, but my authority is a gentleman who ought to know, because he was educated for the purpose and has had vast experience. Professor Perkins tells us that the average value per annum of an acre of land under cultivation is .£4 5s. That is not the maximum or the minimum, but the average value. And the average value of an acre of land held for pastoral purposes is 3s. 10½d. per annum. If Tasmania has only 500,000 acres under cultivation, that area is producing more revenue than the 5,000,000 alienated that are not under cultivation.
– What is the use of these statistics unless the honorable senator knows the class of land we have in Tasmania ?
– I have been in Tasmania and I know the class of land there is there. I have seen hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Tasmania suitable for cultivation. Senator Dobson has had the opportunity of visiting other countries of the world, and I am sure that he has seen in Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and other countries he visited a great deal of land brought under successful cultivation that is far worse than any of the land in Tasmania. The honorable senator must ‘be” aware that the verge of the real development of the island State from which he comes has not yet been touched. If, in New South Wales, 50 per cent, of the land alienated was under cultivation - and 1 suppose Senator Walker will tell us that there is no good land in New South Wales, though about Bathurst and other places in that State there are hundreds of thousands of acres of the best land left almost in the condition in which the Almighty left it to the people.
– Suppose the Almighty intended it for sheep, and not for agriculture? The honorable senator is leavingthat out of his calculation.
– The Almighty intended that the land should be put to its best use. When the Almightly gave the world to men, he -told them to cultivate it, and make the best use of it. I know the honorable senator very well, and I know why he would prefer to hold 30,000 acres as a sheep run rather than as an agricultural settlement. The reason is that if he had 30,000 acres as a sheep run, he might, with very little trouble and expense, obtain an income of £5,000 or £6,000 a. year from it.
– The honorable senator knows a lot about it !
– I do. But, if it was subdivided into farms, there would be a couple of hundred farmers on it. These farmers would obtain £4 per acre per annum from the land in produce, but, as that sum would have to be distributed amongst 200 families, it would not amount to much. That is why men prefer to hold large areas under sheep or cattle, because they can secure a large income without trouble. But it is in the interests of the community that the land should be divided, and that people should be living on it, producing for their own benefit and the benefit of the whole country. I do not think I need say any more about the land question. But I propose to offer a few observations in respect of the industrial question. Senator Walker was very emphatic in expressing his opinions regarding the Broken Hill strike. Broken Hill seems to be a thorn in his side.
– An army of lions led by donkeys.
– The strikers were led by a man .who knew what he was doing, and who has done his work very well. Not only the people of Broken Hill, but those of the whole of Australia, will in years to come reap benefit from his action. Simply because a few hundred men were placed in a difficult position owing to the greed of a few individuals at Broken Hill-
– The strikers have lost a very large sum owing to their own stupidity.
– They have lost nothing. They are no .worse off to-day than they were when the strike started.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council will tell us that black, is white.
– I repeat that the men are no worse, off to-day than they were previously. When the strike started they were in good health and spirits, but they had no money. Now that the strike is over they are still in good health and spirits, but they have no money. What is the difference, therefore, between their positions? Senator Walker ought to know, as he is accustomed to deal with calculations of that description. The men have fought a good fight, not only in their own interests, but in those of the people of Australia. I am sure that if the directors of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company had known the character of the struggle into which they were about to enter, they would have hesitated before driving the men into the position which they were forced to take up. I wish, however, to deal specially with the remarks of Senator Walker, who, I may say in passing, has fallen in my estimation, because he is a reader of the Sunday Times. As a good Presbyterian, he must be familiar with the commandment which says “ Six days sha.lt thou labour and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is .within thy gates.” I would ask the honorable senator if that was the law at Broken Hill and Port Pirie? Was not that the very stumbling block in the way of a settlement of the dispute between the men and the authorities? Were not the directors and the mine managers willing to pay the wages demanded by the men, but did they not kick at allowing the latter to work only six days a week? The honorable senator knows that it is so, no matter how he may quibble. May I ask him whether, as a good Presbyterian, he believes in that state of things ? Doubtless he believes that if his ox or his ass has fallen into a ditch it is right that he should drag him out on a Sunday. But is the ox or the ass at Broken Hill or Port Pirie likely to fall into a ditch? Does he not know that at Broken Hill and Port Pirie there is no difficulty in the way of the miners working only six days a week?
– Does the honorable senator’s wife or maid, cook his dinner or> Sunday ?
– I would fast all day rather than compel anybody to work for me on Sundays. My wife has never said a word to me about any matter of that description. But the men at Port Pirie and Broken Hill Have objected to work seven days a week all the* year round.
– Seven shifts.
– ls not that seven days?
– No man is compelled to do it against his conscience.
– They are compelled to do it or to leave their employment.
– I know more than does the honorable senator. He has never visited Broken Hill.
-i have been there twice.
– Then the honorable senator did not go to the right place to obtain reliable information. I challenge him to ask the manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company or of the Smelting Works at Port Pirie, whether it is not a fact that they required men to work seven days a week. I have been a working man all my life, and have been associated with working men, and the honorable senator knows that there has never been an occasion upon which, when human life or property was at stake, working men were unwilling to work, not eight hours, but twenty-four hours, a day in order to rescue it. He knows that they have done so, and that they have been given credit for it in hundreds of instances. But at Broken Hill and Port Pirie, because they recognise that it can be avoided, the men object to working seven days a week. I am asked - How can it be avoided? The honorable senator must know that if forty-two men are employed for seven days a week they will only do the same amount of work that forty-eight men will do in six days. It merely requires an increase in the number of employes by one-seventh to overcome the difficulty. Of course, it may be said that the additional hands would not be trained men. The answer to the contention Is that those who have hitherto been working in the mines were not trained to the seven days a week when they started operations. Seeing that this was the stumblingblock which prevented a settlement of the dispute, Senator Walker, as a good Presbyterian, ought to be the first man to rise In the Senate and applaud the men for the stand which they took. With respect to industrial legislation, all that the present Government ask is that steps may be taken to place the Commonwealth Government in an exactlysimilar position to that occupied by the States Governments. They would then endeavour to see that if the men so desired, the latter should be called upon to work only six days a week. I might say more regarding some of the statements of Senator Walker in respect to the question of the currency, but I shall take another opportunity of doing so when I shall have more time at my disposalto convert such a hard-shelled Tory as he is. Oh, I made a mistake - I forgot that the honorable senator is not a Tory now. He belongs to the Liberal Protectionist Party, and I congratulate him upon his eleventh-hour conversion.
– He is one of the anomalies.
– Then he will have to be corrected. Although it may be necessary to give strong expression to one’s opinions, I know that Senator Walker and other honorable senators opposite will acquit me ofharboring any feeling of personal animosity towards them. The Government have put forward a policy in which they believe, and any resistance to it will meet with our most strenuous opposition. I anticipate a very merry time in the Senate before the session closes.
– It is difficult to abstain from embracing this opportunity to say a few words, especially after listening to the grand and able speech of Senator McGregor. I am a Scotsman - I cannot help that - I was brought up in the Presbyterian Church, and taught the religion of my forefathers, and the shorter catechism. Senator Walker is a pillar of the church, and yet he does not fight for upholding the fourth commandment. So far as the Broken Hill strike is concerned, I do not call it a strike at all. It was a lock-out. The men fought for principle The Proprietary Company. which during twenty years or thereabouts had paid about 500 per cent. in dividends, took it upon themselves, led by a good old Tory from South Australia, Mr. John Darling, to reduce wages. Other mines at the Barrier were paying the wages which the men in the employ of the Proprietary Company had previously received. Yet the latter were asked to accept a reduction. Had they done so, the other mines would also have reduced the wages of their employes. The men engaged at the Proprietary mine therefore said,” If we submit to the reduction, it will not only affect ourselves, but others.” Consequently they stood to their guns, and I glory in the fact that some members of the Government took an. active part in the strike. It is idle for Senator Walker to argue the pros and cons of the question, because I know that he has a great veneration for Judges. Need I remind him that the merits of the dispute were brought before Mr. Justice Higgins in his capacity as President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and that he came to a wise decision, which was founded upon evidence? His decision was that the men’s demands should be granted - that the wages asked for should be paid, and that they should only work six shifts a week, instead of seven.
– I do not object to that.
– But the Proprietary Company do. The party to which the honorable senator belongs voted against it. In fact, that was the principal reason why the Proprietary Company again appealed to the Court. They wanted to force men to work seven days a week, and if they could get them to work on holidays as well, including New Year’s Day, they would do it. It was shown in evidence that the cost of living was such that people at Broken Hill and Port Pirie could not live with any degree of comfort on the wages they received. I know several of the workers at Port Pirie. I have gone amongst them. I topped the poll at Port Pirie when I stood for the Senate. I know men who were strong, robust fellows before they went to work at the smelters. But after working a time they got leaded. It fills my heart with grief when I think of “ man’s inhumanity to man.”
– There certainly was a good deal of Mann’s “ inhumanity to man.”
– If such men were allowed to work not more than six days a week it would benefit their position. But that concession was not granted. The High Court refused it, on a technical point, of course ; but the refusal was an injustice, and, as a Scotsman, I say that it was opposed to the law of God. Another thing let me say. I am disgusted to think that my co-religionists, the Presbyterians, the Scotsmen of Australia, knowing the circumstances under which these men have laboured, instead of standing by them as a Church, have stood for Mammon.
– Need we drag in the Church?
– I wrote to the Presbytery while it was sitting, but they would not interfere. I maintain that on a question of this kind, when the law of God is concerned and the health and interests of the human family are affected, the Church ought to show’ its interest in the workers and in the cause of humanity.* But the Church0 did not. I suppose that some of the clergy had shares in the mine; or they had shareholders in their congregation who, perhaps, gave a little more on Sunday than I and such as I can send ‘with my family. I am not an infidel - I believe in the Word of God - I am so disgusted with the action of the clergy and their inhumanity in these questions, that I am inclined to say to them, “Well, after all, yow are merely human beings ; you are here for making a living, and are no better Christians than others.” I was astonished to listen to the words which came from &nelder of the kirk who sits opposite to me. I did not intend to refer to this matter at all, but Senator Walker mentioned it insuch a flippant manner that I do not think he did himself credit. I deeply regretthat not only no single Presbyterian clergyman, but no clergyman of any other Church, had the pluck to stand by the men at Broken Hill and Port Pirie. Now I have donewith that subject. I have a few words tosay re the policy of the Government. I donot intend to blame the present Administration for some of the things to which I am about to refer, but I do not wonder at the people in some of the outlying districts protesting that Federation has beenof little advantage to Australia. There isa farming district with which I am particularly well acquainted. In it there is avillage which I have known for over thirtyyears. Before Federation, and for ‘someyears after, the post-office of that villagewas allowed an office boy to carry telegrams. Now that has been done away withand no messenger boy is allowed. There isno doctor living near, and the situationcreated is scandalous. The present Government is not to blame. It is the DeakinGovernment that is responsible. The Treasury during the regime of the man who, I believe, will shortly be Prime Ministeragain, was so depleted that it was said’ to be impossible to supply the wants of thepeople in these outer districts, and eventhe messenger boy to carry telegrams was done away with. I know another case where a telephone has been promised onthe guarantee principle. The Deakin Government said that the people would have to guarantee a certain amount before thework could be carried out. The money or interest was guaranteed, not in the manner of those who promised a Dreadnought. Thepeople handed over the amount in actual cash to cover the expense of erecting a telephone. Yet up to the present nothing, has been done. Another town which I know well in South Australia wanted a telephone. The cost of. making the connexion would be j£6. But the Department, being unable or unwilling to find the- £6, the people have had to do without. Is not that scandalous? Yet the Deakin Government not only returned to that State the three-fourths Customs and Excise revenue to which they were entitled, but also returned over£6,000,000 in addition, which they were not compelled to hand over.
– The. people of the States contributed that money, and the Federal Government gave them back their own.
– The honorable senator’s party tried to prevent the carrying of the law which allows the iFederal Government to use surplus revenue. What I may call the Reid party - though I respect Mr. Reid personally - voted in the interests of the States and for the continuation of the system under which the Com monnlwealth. Ihad ‘been’ foolish (enough to hand back more money than they were compelled to pay. Coming to another question, I indorse the defence policy of the Government, generally speaking, though I am not going to commit myself too far. This is a good country and it is worth defending; but, in my opinion, those who have property to defend should find the means of defending it. That is the position that I take up. I was astonished when, some time ago, I noticed the excitement that the Sydney newspapers and the Melbourne Age tried to create for the purpose of getting the Labour Government to call Parliament together, in order that the present Ministry might be massacred. It was pretended that the Government had ordered torpedo boats without the authority of Parliament.
– We must not spend £250,000, which has been voted by Parliament, though we must spend£2,000,000 without the authority of Parliament.
– Mr. Deakin, at an important place in New South Wales, said that the Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, was not in a position to show how he would be able to make both ends meet and pay old-age pensions when they fell due. But who was responsible for that? The Deakin Government had a policy similar in its nature, so far as defence was concerned before Parliament last session. No provision was made in any shape’ or form for carrying out that policy.
– They did not intend to carry it out.
– I do not suppose that they did. The Ministry pro fessed to be eager for a number of things that in reality they did not care a snap about.
– They were supported by the Labour Party, I think.
– Not by the Labour Party as a whole. I desire to speak with the greatest respect of Mr. Deakin, and also of Mr. Joseph Cook, who I notice frequently conducts service at a training school of politics for ladies in New South Wales. After Mr. Deakin had stated that the Labour Party could not show where the money to pay old-age pensions was to come from, he immediately turned round and said that it would be so nice and pleasant if they would only give Great Britain a Dreadnought. After pointing out the financial position of the Commonwealth, and abusing the Government for saying that they could not do a certain thing which he apparently believed they could not do, and for which he, himself, was responsible, he said that they could give a Dreadnought to the Old Country. In no instance did either Mr. Cook or Mr. Deakin say from what source the money was to be derived, except on one occasion, when they said - and the statement is here in print - that it should be derived from Customs and Excise duties. God forbid that such a doctrine as that should be preached 1 Some persons say that the Labour Party so increased Customs duties that it is a difficult thing now for poor people to live. But Mr. Deakin, the author of the Tariff which we have just passed, says, “ Give a DreadnougJtt to the Old Country, and get the money from Customs and Excise duties.” What is behind the suggestion I do not know. Is the money to be raised by a duty on tea, or something else that is necessary to the poor man? It would be an outrage upon the working classes with large families to support to ask them to contribute revenue to find powder and shot even to protect some of the financial institutions which Senator Walker presides over in New South Wales. Mind, I do not speak at random, I mean what I say. If property is to be protected, it should find the money for that purpose. The Government . went about the matter in a right way. They suggested good methods for raising the revenue. A Commonwealth note issue would be a grand thing. Moire than that, the Government propose the minting of silver and the imposition of a progressive land tax on estates of over £5,000 in value. In the press of South Australia, Senator Vardon is reported to have said - I think that he believed the statement - that such a thing as a progressive land tax is immoral.
– So it is, absolutely.
– If the honorable senator will prove that to me, I shall give up the idea.
– But I cannot undertake to do an impossibility.
– Knowing that the honorable senator is a religious man, I thought that the best thing to do to meet an emergency of that kind would be to refer to a great work.
– Is the honorable senator an irreligious man?
– I do not say that I am not, I hope that I am not.
– Is the honorable senator going to quote from the Bible?
– Yes. When our Saviour was on the earth, it was said of the prophets, “ They are they which testify of me.” When I read the speech of Senator Vardon, a text of scripture I had read frequently went through my mind. I was sure that it could be found, so I turned up the 5th Chapter of the Book of the prophet Isaiah.
– But Senator Vardon is not a prophet.
-No, but he prophesies for the other side - for the National Defence League of the Tory Party, who are against progress. In my opinion, they act against the interests of the poorer classes. Senator Vardon says that a progressive land tax is immoral. But what, does the prophet say ? In the eighth verse he says -
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth !
That is very true. If any means can be devised to protect people against such men - and there is a great number of them in New South Wales - it should be done. In that grand country, which I have praised so much - and I have not had any cause to change my mind - from Yass Junction right through Yass, . and on through Canberra to Queanbeyan, very few people live. Large holdings exist all the way. Thousands of persons are in want of land, as I could show from statements in the Bulletin. Thousands of men are after land, and connot get it. Big land holders are prohibiting other persons from using the land, pro,hibiting, as it were, an increase of popula tion, and driving men from the States. Yet we were told that it is immoral to interfere with them. W/ho will believe that that is according to the tenets of religion, or anything that is good? Undoubtedly, it is a mistake, and is not arguable. Then it is said : “ Leave the matter to the States.” Senator Vardon himself said that it should be left to the States. If it is immoral for the Federal Parliament to interfere with these landowners, it is equally immoral for the States to do so. Senator Vardon knows that in South Australia it was impossible to get a progressive land tax carried through the Legislative Council. In three succeeding sessions, the House of Assembly sent to the Legislative Council a Bill dealing with the question, but the House of wealthy landlords and the privileged class - for only a few persons are allowed the suffrage^can do what they like and line their own pockets. That is immoral, and South Australia has suffered, and is suffering. A lot of the land which is being settled there is of an inferior class with a rainfall of from six to nine inches. The farmer is driven out into the scrub. Some of the best country is held by practically a few men to keep a few sheep. A merino is preferred! to a human being.
– In Australia, the sheep is a sacred animal.
– I suppose it is. Unless I had a ticket, I could ‘not go to hear Senator Vardon’s address. The same course was taken here the other night, when Mr. Deakin was going to hold forth in the Town Hall. Having a little spare time, and wishing to get amusement or instruction, I thought I would attend, and I was lucky enough to find a ticket onthe table in the senators’ room. By means of it I not only got in myself, but I managed to smuggle in Senator Stewart with me. Senator Walker referred to some noisy meetings held in Sydney, and he blamed the Labour Party for all the trouble. When Mr. Joseph Cook went over to address the ladies in South Australia the same secrecy was observed. One had £p pass muster before he.could get into the, meeting. I had not the courage to try. But we are glad to welcome any one to labour meetings that they may hear an, exposition of our platform “and that we may sow the good seed.
– Do we hold any meetings to which admission is by ticket only?
Senator W. RUSSELL. Certainly not. I think that Senator Walker’s remarks cast a reflection upon the Senate, because several of my fellow senators desired to attend some of the meetings to which he referred, and could not do so. The means adopted in connexion with the admission of people to those meetings are unfair, and when unfair means are resorted to, we may be sure that there is an unfair case at the back of it. We desire that the people should be allowed to say what land shall be assessed for taxation purposes.
– Why not re-purchase the estates?
– As a Commonwealth Parliament, we cannot do that, though the States “Parliaments have been adopting that plan: I cannot forget the beautiful places I saw on my way to the Federal Capital. I saw there, in very many instances, 30,000 or 40,000 acres held by one person. If men. reason this matter out carefully they must recognise that in order to defend our shores we must have population, and in order to increase our population we must have some place in which to put the people who come here. Unless by legitimate and legal means we can get those who at present hold large estates to dispose of them to others, so that population, can be settled upon” the land, how is it possible for Australia to be defended. I have here an extract which 1 cut from the Bulletin- =
– Is the Bulletin as good as the Sunday Times?
– It is better. 1 would not allow the Sunday Times to come into my house if I could help it. This is the extract from the Bulletin -
The quiet little town of Narrabri (N.S.W.) held a ballot or State gamble the other day to dispose of seven settlement leases.
I wish honorable senators to notice the word “ leases “ -
So awful is the land hunger these days in a Slate which ‘has barely five people to the square mile that the applicants ran into hundreds, and their cash deposits amounted to ^21)300. One of the three men who rose up excitedly in a Sydney club and promised ,£10,000 towards the purchase of a battleship for England is a great land monopolist from this same district- He is one of those who warn people off the grass - one of those who keep down population and prevent immigration, and who furnish a reason why 200,000 British citizens depart annually for foreign countries, where they take the oath of allegiance to a foreign Power, and where their children learn to be foreigners and get ready to shoot at the Empire on some future date ; when otherwise they might settle inside the Em pire and remain British subjects and learn to shoot for the Empire. The big landholder is a picturesque individual when he leaps to his feet after dinner and says he will give £10,000 for the defence of the British flag, but there may come a time when the Empire will want 10,000 men a great deal more than it wants ^’10,000, and it is the big landholder who prevents it having those 10,000 men.
I believe that some of these big landlords, if they thought it possible that the progressive land tax proposals of the Labour Party would be given effect, would be prepared to offer, not only £10.000, but £20,000, to get the present occupants of the Treasury bench off it. It is because their craft is in clanger. These are the men who are crying out for Dreadnoughts, practically to protect property which they are holding in areas of 30,000 and 40,000 acres, and even in much larger areas, where they are keeping population off the grass. Is it not scandalous? Can we not remedy it? I say that we ought to do so if we can. I do not for a moment speak disparagingly of those who cry out for protection. We should all be prepared to defend our hearths and homes, but the men of wealth and property and the holders of large estates, who have so much that requires to be protected, and who keep population from coming to our shores, should be taxed accordingly. This is one of the planks of the Labour platform that I glory most in. When I was a candidate for the. Legislative Council in South Australia, in 1894, I advocated the same policy, but we only got one step then. There are other things in the speech to which I might refer., but I presume that the present Government have got, or will shortly get, notice to quit. Senator Vardon said that all land should be taxed - that there should be no exemption at all.
– The honorable senator had better represent me correctly.
– I can show the honorable senator the statement published in the Adelaide Advertiser. He said that there should be no exemption. According to the honorable senator, the man with 100 acres, with five or ten in his family who is going in for intense culture, and spending money through the Customs and in other ways to support the State, and who perhaps has half-a-dozen boys to be trained for military work, should be taxed in the same way as the man holding 30,000 or 40,000 acres. It is scandalous; it is unfair; it is unchristian : it is opposed to the prophet, who said, “ Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there lie no place ‘ ‘ - for the people. I have a book her e in which there is a poem dealing with the same subject, from which I think I can make a very appropriate quotation.
– The honorable senator should read the whole book.
– I do not need to read the whole Bible in order to know what to do to be saved, and I do not need to read the whole of this book in order to discover the truth of the matter in hand. I have added a little to what Senator E. J. Russell said yesterday, and to what Senator McGregor and other honorable senators have said since, on the subject of the evils of land monopoly. I call it a curse. This is what Goldsmith says of it in his poem The Deserted Village : - 111 fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay :
Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade,
A breath can make them, as a breath has made,
But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride,
When once destroy’d, can never be supplied.
Is it not wicked to destroy such a peasantry ? Before I conclude let me say that I cannot forget Canberra. When I first went there I interviewed the local miller. I wished to know what it would cost to bring a ton or truck load of wheat from Queanbeyan to Sydney, and what kind of wheat was grown in the district. The miller produced some wheat which he said was grown in that part of the country, and when I asked where the farmers were he said, “ Oh, they are gone, they are swallowed up.” Is not that awful?
– That is what honorable senators opposite want.
– I am sure that Senator Vardon does not want that. However, that is the position. Not only in that part of the country, but almost everywhere else one goes he will find the same thing. “ Woe to these people,” the prophet says, but some honorable senators say, “They are very fine fellows. They vote on our side and help us on every occasion to down the Labour Party.” I have already quoted from Mr. Joseph Cook and Mr. Deakin on the question of defence and the means of finding the money. Their objection to the progressive land tax proposal rests upon the contention that the money should be obtained from Customs and Excise duties. I have said that before, but I feared that it might have slipped my memory, and in any case it will bear repetition. I do not think that even Senator Walker is prepared to dispute with the prophet Isaiah. I have told the Senate the position which I have been driven to take up in reference to the Churches, without exception. Some persons allege that the Labour Party is dictated to by a certain religious denomination. That is a lie. It never was dominated by any religious organization. I have never consulted priest or parson upon political matters, and I do not think that I ever shall. I am not connected with any sectarian organization, and I never shall be. I believe that there is very little sincerity in such institutions. To “ down “ the Labour Party and Christian principles is the object which they have in view. I believe that if Senator St. Ledger - who, I presume, is a good Catholic - were to visit South Australia for a while, and let the people hear his eloquence, and if he subsequently contested a constituency there, the Conservatives would vote for him’to a man, even though there were a Protestant candidate on the other side. Why people so persistently endeavour to “ down “ the Labour Party by declaring that it is ruled by a certain Church is a mystery to me. I am delighted to find that the Government have stood to their guns in reference to the policy of the Labour Party. Even in connexion with the suggested presentation of a Dreadnought to Great Britain, the position was put so plainly to an audience in the city of Unley by the Prime Minister that no one could misunderstand it. The head of the Government has shown himself to be a man possessed of a firm backbone, and not a Deakin - an individual who lives in the clouds, who is one thing to-day and another to-morrow.
– He is in the kitchen with the cook now.
– I have no faith intmen of that kind. When I was before the electors - although I am a protectionist - I referred to ‘ ‘ our distinguished friend, the right honorable George Reid,” and I said : “ Of the two men give me Reid in preference to Deakin at any time. ‘ ‘ Since I have been a member of this Parliament, I have realized that position more and more. I am pleased to think that in the near future, as the result of his noninclusion in the mongrel Government which is projected, Mr. Reid will occupy a higher position, namely, that of High Commissioner for the Commonwealth.
– Who was the Labour Party’s nominee?
– I should have supported Mr. Reid’s selection for that office in preference to that of any other man in Australia. But Mr. Deakin politically lives in the clouds. There is nothing practical about him.
– Except in grasping the “ spondulix.”
– Yes ; he does that. How he has succeeded in capturing some of the old Tories of this Chamber ; how he has managed to induce such old free-traders as Senator Pulsford to swear allegiance to a protective policy, I cannot understand. I suppose that, the longer we live, the more we shall learn about the matter. If Senator Pulsford had been likely to be included in the Ministry that is to be I might have understood it. But even if he were in the Government, I do not think that his conversion to protection would be of a very permanent character. His colleagues would certainly experience some trouble with him. I am glad to have had this opportunity of supporting the policy and administration of the Government, and of recognising the loyal manner in which they have adhered to their pledges.
– I propose to make a short personal explanation. Senator W. Russell seems to think that I am an advocate of men working seven days a week. I have never been an advocate of anything of the kind. I wish also to say that I have not the honour of being an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
– It appears to me that we are practically flogging a dead horse, and, therefore, I should not have risen but for some references which have been made by Senator W. Russell. I very much regret that he possesses the faculty of suspecting evil in others, of suggesting suspicious things, and of drawing upon his imagination for reasons to explain the conduct of others. I remember that not very long ago I happened to be invited to a municipal banquet. At the time, I was ill in bed. But because I was not present at the function, the worthy senator insinuated that if it had been a Conservative banquet I would have been there.
– There was not a Conservative there.
– The honorable senator declared that I would not have been absent if the banquet had been a Conserva tive one. It is silly statements and imputations of this sort which absolutely mar any usefulness that there might be in the honorable senator. I say that because I have been the subject of this kind of misrepresentation at his hands upon more than one occasion. *
– Then the honorable senator can sympathize with the Labour Party. ‘ ‘
– I sympathize with anybody who is the subject of misrepresentation. As a public man, I am exceedingly careful not to misrepresent any man upon any subject.
– And I did not misrepresent the honorable senator.
– If the honorable senator did not misrepresent me, I can only say that he has very “funny notions. During the course of this debate reference has been made to the progressive land tax. I always have, and always shall, oppose such a tax. I admit the right of the Commonwealth to impose direct taxation.
– In what way?
– In a legitimate way. The legitimate object of taxation is to raise revenue. If the income of the Commonwealth is not sufficient to meet its ordinary expenditure, it has a perfect right to levy taxation to raise additional revenue. But it is stated, without reserve, that the aim of the proposed progressive land tax is to burst up large estates. I have previously stated that I do not believe that it is part of the duty of the Commonwealth to undertake the bursting up of large estates. Every State has a right to administer its own laws in regard to its own lands. In that sense, I look upon this tax as an improper interference with the rights of the States.
– We have power to levy such a tax. How, then, can it be said that it is an “ improper “ interference?
– It is improper to levy a tax which is not intended to raise revenue. *
– Are protective duties designed to raise revenue?
– Partly. Our present Tariff is partly a. revenue-producing one, and partly protective, in its incidence. But a progressive land tax stands upon altogether a different footing. When I had the honour of a seat in the Legislative Council of South Australia, I took up an exactly similar attitude. I opposed the imposition of such a tax upon principle. It has been said that this tax is intended to burst up large estates.
– Is that an immoral purpose ?
– I wish to show exactly how it will’ work out, and then honorable senators will see whether or not its object is immoral. What is a “ big “ estate? According to the present Government, it is an estate which is worth more than £5,000 in unimproved value. They do not propose to discriminate from the stand-point of where the land is, or of the use to which it is being put.
– Its value is the discriminating factor.
– Then I would ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council how much land a man- would require to own in Collins-street, Melbourne, George-street, Sydney, or King William-street, Adelaide, to be worth more than £5,000? Why, the land in Collins-street is valued at £500 a foot, so that a man with only 10 feet of frontage there would be possessed of more than £5,000 worth of unimproved land value. How are you going to get him to cut the land up into smaller allotments? That is one of the things that shows that the object is not altogether the bursting up of large estates.
– The object is to raise revenue as well.
– I will come to that point directly. There may be £5,000 or £10.000 or £20.000 worth of city land built upon and used for the purposes for which city land may be employed. Such estates cannot be burst up in any way. Yet there is no discrimination under this proposed tax. Every piece of land that is above the value of £5,000 is to be subjected to the progressive tax, -no matter where it may be- A man may have £20,000 worth of land in another part of the country divided into ten or twenty farms with as many families living upon them; but .simply because he is the owner of that land he is to be subjected to the progressive land tax. A man may be the owner of a large area which is only fit for pastoral purposes, and is being put to its full use when so employed; and yet because he happens to own it he must be subjected to the progressive land tax. Now I say deliberately that if a man has acquired land honestly, and has paid for it, to tax the value out of his land is an immoral thing to do. . You have no more right to tax a man simply because he holds a certain quantity of land than you have to tax another man merely because he owns some other kind of property. If you want his land you ought to pay for it, and give him its proper value. It is said that this land tax is proposed for defence purposes ; that we must have population if we are going to defend the country. I wish to inquire how the proposed land tax is going* to affect the empty places of Australia and the great north-west coast? It will have no effect upon them whatever. Is it supposed by the supporters of the tax that it will have the effect of bringing people to those empty spaces for the purpose of defending them? Not at all. What is proposed is simply to tax lands which are adjacent to the more populous areas and near railways. But to do so will not in any way be effective in the matter of the defence of Australia. There are great areas of land in Australia in the vast open places wherein people can be put if honorable senators are anxious to settle a large population. They can make a very good living. I have before me a document entitled -
Bulletin No. 1, August, 1908. Published by authority of the Hon. L. O’Loughlin, M.P., Commissioner of Crown Lands, compiled by T. Duffield, secretary and intelligence officer.
The document states -
Lands will soon be available for selection in Port Lincoln district, 147,000 acres ; east of Murray Bridge, 111,000 acres; east of River Murray, 120,000 acres; Kangaroo Island, 352,000 acres. Land east of River Murray, 415,000, and at Hynam, near Naracoorte, south-east, 38,600 will be available about November next.
Those facts from an official publication will give honorable senators an idea of the land available or about to be made available fdr settlement in South Australia. Does it show that people are unable to get land for which they are anxious ? Recently a practical farmer told me that on the west coast of South Australia 5,000 farmers could be settled. I believe that can be done. I do not say that the land there is first-class in quality. It is second-class land. But with a sufficient rainfall and the use of fertilisers it will produce very good crops.
– Is it not scrub land ?
– Some of it is scrub land, but it is not difficult to clear.
– It is newly discovered.
– It has been under survey for years. People have been living there for years and making exceedingly good livings upon it. Yet we are told that there is no land available. Here are 1,183,000 acres of agricultural land about to be thrown open. In the face of these facts honorable senators opposite want to burst up large estates just because there is no land open for selection near to the large cities.
– What is wanted is land of a suitable kind.
– It is the old cry. Honorable senators want land near at hand and close to a railway. What did the people who came here in the early days do ? They had the pluck and the perseverance to push out into the open spaces and to take up the land that other people want to get hold of to-day. They did not wait for railways. They pushed out, and the railways eventually followed them, and helped them. On the west coast of South Australia a railway nearly 100 miles in length has been built for the purpose of opening up the very country wherein a great deal of this land is situated. I therefore say that what we want to do is not to brine population into the congested centres, but to induce them to go into the open spaces, where our danger lies. We do not want to settle people within 150 miles of Sydney, Melbourne, or Adelaide. It is such places as I have described which we need to occupy.
– Send them where they will perish, too far away for men to make a success of cultivation.
– Rubbish ! Why, men have gone there already and are making a good living. I know of cases of men who have cleared the cost of their land in two years. This land has been proved. It has been shown that it will grow good crops. It is being taken up in increasing quantities year by year. When it is said that the progressive land tax is for the purpose of bursting up big estates, no matter how they may be used at the present time, I say that the proposal is arrant humbug.
– It will affect the absentee landlords.
– Then we are going to induce people not to invest a shilling in Australia, because if they do we will double tax them ? The speech read bv the GovernorGeneral yesterday says that, “ while providing revenue,” it is anticipated that the tax will lead to the subdivision of large estates. If we are going to impose a land tax for raising revenue, it must be a tax without exemptions. The tax ought to be an equitable one, and should bear upon all land-holders, no matter whether big or little.
– The honorable senator wants to hit the little fellow, then?
– I want every man to bear his fair share of the tax. If a man has 20,000 acres, he should pay on that area; if he has only one acre, he should pay on that.
– Do we not make exemptions in the case of the income tax ?
– It is a fair thing to make exemptions in the income tax, which is a different kind of tax altogether. It is an emergency tax, and has always been so regarded in England. In special circumstances the Chancellor of the Exchequer turns to the income tax as a means of raising more revenue. It is a fair and proper thing to exempt the man with a small income. But if there is to be a land tax. it is a fair thing to impose it without any exemptions whatever. Then, again, the supporters of this tax wish to let off the man with a, holding valued at £5,000., But do they suppose that they will not depreciate that man’s land by taxing the land of his neighbour? Suppose that A holds land to the value of ,£2,000, and that alongside him B holds land to the value of £20,000. If you tax B and depreciate his land, you will depreciate the land of A just in the same ratio.
– Will the land grow less wheat if the small holder puts the same manure into it and cultivates it just the same as before?
– That does not matter. The value of the land will be depreciated.
– The honorable senator only troubles about land values for speculative purposes.
– I stand for what seems to me to be absolute justice in regard to this. matter. I have considered it carefully and am satisfied that the policy of the Labour Party is unfair.
– How can it be?
– Their ultimate aim, I am satisfied, is unification.
– How does the honorable senator get that idea?
– I get it from conversations that I have had with certain individuals.
– With whom?
– I have had many conversations with the honorable senator, but he has never heard that from me.
– I do not believe in giving people away. .If I mentioned the name I do not know what sort of a time the man would have. This is also a first step towards land nationalization.
– The honorable senator’s statement as to unification is totally incorrect, so far as I am concerned.
– I am not speaking of individuals, but of what I believe to be the ultimate effect of the policy of the Labour Party.
– It is not the policy of the Labour Party.
– I wish the honorable senator would tell us the policy of the National League, with which he is connected.
– I shall not give the policy of the National League, because I do not know what it is. The league never consulted me in the matter.
– How does the honorable senator know the policy of the Labour Party, then?
– Only from, publications and from what I have gathered in various ways.
– I emphatically deny the honorable senator’s statement.
– I accept the honorable senator’s denial, but I still maintain that I have correctly described’ the ultimate effect of his party’s policy.
– Can the honorable senator mention a publication of the Labour Party that advocates anything like what he has described?
– I do not think that I can. I. am simply giving my impression. This policy, to. my mind, is the beginning, first, of unification, and then of land nationalization. I do not object to taxing land values. There is no fairer tax. But when it comes to making a discrimination and to imposing a progressive tax, I think the policy is unjust, and therefore I do not support it. I intended to make only a few remarks, and should not have spoken at all had it not been for the observations of Senator W. Russell. I do not intend to discuss the speech delivered by the Governor-General yesterday. It is a very interesting document. It deals with a number of subjects which in normal conditions I should have been very glad to dis cuss, but at present I do not feel inclined* to refer to them, and I should not have said what I have if I had not been called to my feet by the remarks of Senator W. Russell.
.- I think that Senator Vardon, instead of giving reasons for not speaking, at greater length, gave very good reasonsfor continuing his address, because during this debate I have failed to hear* anything to justify the attitude which has been takenup on the other side. The honorable senator said that he is in favour of land taxation so long as it does not discriminate. TheLabour Party see very good reason for discriminating in the proposal which they haveput before the country. We are here for the purpose of assisting men who make use of land. Evidently Senator Vardon would” tax the small farmer as well as the biglandgrabber, who holds his land for speculation, or in a dog-in-the-manger manner. He would tax the small man who makes useof his land equally with the mere landgrabber. It is well known that the object of our land tax proposal is to bring land into* use. Whether it affects the selling valueor not is another matter. I am quite satisfied that it cannot possibly depreciate thevalue of land. If it is the use value that ismeant, as Senator McGregor interjected, the land will have the same value in the production of useful crops whether it is taxed’ or not. Its use value cannot possibly be affected, but only the speculative va.lue. I think it is quite clear that, so far as thosewho sit on the Opposition side are concerned at the present moment-
– There are not very many of them here.
– No, and for all< that has been said by them up to the present time, they might as well have neverbeen here. We have waited patiently tohear from the Opposition some justification- for the attitude which is taken up towardsthe present Government. One cannot but feel that it is a very unusual thing for a Government to be turned out with no reasons given. .
– But the Senate cannotturn out the Government.
– The honorable senator knows very well that he is connected with the party which is turning out the Government. It is for the representatives of the party here to give some reasons for their attitude. We have heard a great deal said against the Labour Party for meeting in secret and settling party affairs, but caucuses have been held during the present week to a greater extent than has perhaps been the case for some years. _ There are, or were, four political parties in this Parliament . Each party has been holding caucus meetings during the last few days. If Senator Vardon does not agree with the principle of holding such meetings-
– I have never referred to a caucus meeting.
– I am glad to hear that the honorable senator recognises the inconsistency and the absurdity of condemning the holding of party meetings by those who follow cur practice.
– I do not condemn them.
– I am glad to know that the honorable senator does not join in the silly cry against caucus rule, and so forth. Now, after all is said and done, what is caucus rule? A caucus is merely a meeting of a political party to ascertain what they are going to do in the House or under certain conditions. Surely that is a common-sense thing. Tt is a practice which all political parties follow more or less. And therefore I expected that the representatives of Federal parties would give us the benefit of knowing what was done at the recent meetings. If this Parliament is not entitled, certainly the country is entitled to know why the Labour Government is about to be turned out. Not one word of justification has been offered here for the attitude which is taken up at the present time towards the Government.
– What reason did the Labour Party give for turning out the Deakin Government?
– As the honorable senator did not belong to the Deakin Government at .that time - I suppose he belongs to the Deakin Party now - he should take no exception to the attitude which the Labour Party took up towards that Government. It was well known. It was clearly announced here that the time had come when the Labour Party could no longer follow the Deakin Government. The two parties had been travelling in the same direction for a considerable time. We had travelled together as far as it was possible to do, and the parting of the ways had come. We said that they were not going in the direction in which we were making, that they had practically outlived their usefulness, that they had failed to carry out even the principles which they had advocated, the most noticeable, perhaps, being that of new protection. It is a well-known fact that the Protectionist Party had advocated protection of the old kind, and had been brought round, apparently .’against their will, to the principle of new protection - a principle which was first enunciated by labour men, and introduced into this Parliament by labour men. The Deakin Government were forced, apparently against their will, to legislate on the subject, and the High Court decided that their legislation was unconstitutional. As the Deakin Government showed no earnest desire to carry things to a logical conclusion - to ask for power to enable this Parliament to legislate fully, in this direction - we told them that we could no longer follow them. That was, I think, a clear and straightforward attitude for us to take up. I feel quite sure that the Deakin Party could not possibly find any objection to that attitude. For a period of seven years we had practically kept the Deakin Party in office, and I feel confident that no member of that party can say that the slightest injustice was done to them, or that we took advantage of our position to use them unfairly. Senator Vardon interjected that we gave no reason for turning out the Deakin Government, but if he will look at the history of political parties in this Parliament he will recognise that he is taking up a very strange position.
– All you told the country was that you had withdrawn your support from the Deakin Government.
– I think I have explained to the honorable senator the reason why we did.
– It was not explained in Parliament.
– I am sure that it was explained here fully, and that everyone understood the reason for the Labour Party taking office.
– Mr. Deakin’s document on new protection explained it.
– Having taken office at the close of last session, the Labour Government were obliged to clear up the business of the late Government, and to go into recess to prepare a policy for the following session. A new session has been opened, but before the largest of the four parties in this Parliament have had time to present their policy to the country a combination has been brought about to turn them out of office, and not one word has yet been uttered here to justify that attitude.
I propose to quote some references made by Mr. Deakin last session in the other House to the men with whom he has now combined to form one great party. I think that these references should be made public at the present moment.
– The honorable senator had better quote what he said of the Labour Party, too. %
– If the honorable senator wishes to place on record any
Statements previously made by Mr. Deakin now is the proper time to quote them. In that regard I shall offer the honorable senator every possible assistance in order to show not only the inconsistency but the dangerous character of the man whom I suppose he will call his leader in the near future.
– And whom you have kept in office for so long.
– Yes, as I have already admitted. It took the Labour Party seven years to find out the character of the man, but we know him now. The best of men may be deceived in public affairs. For years they may think that they are supporting an honest politician, but a time comes when he is exposed as Mr. Deakin stands exposed on this occasion. What of those who know that this man is treacherous in politics, who know, as the honorable senator knows, the treachery he practised towards Mr. Reid on a former occasion? Had such treatment been meted out to my leader no one would have dragged me into a combination with a politician of that kind. Such a man is not fit to hold a prominent position in this Parliament. It is a disgrace to our politics that we should have tactics of that kind practised in this Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator think that the quotations he is about to make will be published?
– Whether they are published in the press or not they certainly will be published in Ilansard, which circulates more extensively than does any newspaper in Australia, and I shall be quite satisfied with that amount of publicity. These quotations show the attitude which, no later than the 20th October last, Mr. Deakin, the present leader of the Opposition, assumed towards the late leader of the Opposition. He referred to the then Free-Trade Party sitting in the other chamber as a reactionary party. He said that he could not possibly associate with the wreckage of the black labour party, the anti-socialist party, the anti-Federal party, and a body of members that might be described as the wreckage of the freetrade party. All these things were fired off bv the late Prime Minister at Mr. Joseph Cook, the right honorable G. H. Reid, and others sitting in opposition to him. Here is the record of what he said from Hansard of the 20th October last -
That, however, is for the future. At the present time the right honorable member has behind him only the wreckage of half-a-dozen old sections. He has behind him the wreckage of the free importing party ; the wreckage of the individualist party; the wreckage of the antisocialist party ; and the wreckage of the coloured labour party, all are to be found on that side of the House.
Evidently at that time Mr. Deakin was inclined towards the socialistic idea, judging by his reference to the individualist party. We have before us to-day a combination brought about in a secret manner. The time will come, I suppose, when the whole of the negotiations will be published ; but, so far, all that is known is that certain caucus meetings have been held.
– Caucus meetings?
– Yes; caucus meetings have been held by men who have been ever ready to denounce that method of dealing with political business, and so far as we know the result of- those meetings is that Mr. Deakin has now taken unto his bosom the wreckage of all the reactionary sections he enumerated in the House of Representatives only last October. Neither Senator Millen nor any of his followers on the other side who have so far spoken have given a single reason for the position they have taken up.
– How could they, if they have not one about them.
– Some reason is usually found to support even the worst case; but on the present occasion “mum” is to be the word, and no reason is given for the attitude which those in opposition to the Labour Party have assumed. . However, it will be for the country to demand an ‘explanation, and if the opportunity could have been afforded the country now, I feel sure that no such combination as we have heard of in another place would have been brought about.. It is merely because those who have combined believe that they are safe front the wrath of the electors that they have been prepared to take up the- attitude they have assumed. They believe that they can with safety retain office until the next election comes round, and they trust to the advantage they will derive from being in that position to conduct the elections. That is all thev have to depend upon to save them from political extinction. I do not find fault with them for banding together when it was their only possible hope if they were to escape the wrath of the electors. But some of them will live to regret the position they havetaken up. From what we have heard of the utterances in another place as to the methods by which the combination has been brought about, it will be admitted that the Deakin Party have figured with very little credit in what has transpired.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45p.m.
– In cudgelling our brains to discover some reason for the attitude of the Opposition, we ask how it is that such a sudden change could be effected in the minds of those who only a few days ago were opposed to the so-called fusion process.
– I think that even St. Paul was suddenly converted.
– I should be sorry for any saint who was converted in the direction in which Senator Walker appears to be going at the present time. The honorable senator is giving up every principle he has advocated in the past.
– I am as strong a freetrader as I ever was. We have sunk the fiscal issue, as the honorable senator’s party did.
– The honorable senator has sunk the only principle which the members of the party to which he belongs can. as a party, be said to have had. I ask him to say whether he is prepared to go to the people of New South Wales and say that, in order to turn out the Labour Party, he was prepared to sink the only principle he ever held.
– I have always been in favour of the principle of individualism also.
– Then the honorable senator should not sail under the colours of a leader who only yesterday was prepared to condemn individualism and anti-Socialism. Mr. Deakin never made any pretence of belonging to the antiSocialist Party.
– Perhaps he has come to our way of thinking upon these matters.
– We know that Senator Walker, Senator Gray, and other honorable senators opposite condemned Mr. Deakin because he lent himself to the enactment of socialistic legislation.
– Mr. Deakin sees the error of his ways now, no doubt.
– If Senator Walker is lending himself to political dishonesty on the part of Mr. Deakin and is inducing that gentleman’ to stray from the straight political path, he is doing something of which as a politician and a man he should be ashamed. Summed up, we know that the Opposition parties have combined in order to turn, out the Labour Government before they had an opportunity to give effect to the principles which they have so long advocated. Before the Labour Government was formed it was said that the Labour Party were afraid to take office. It was said that they had no men of sufficient capacity to administer any Department of Government, and that, for that reason, they tailed in behind the Deakin Government. If we have done no more than nail down that misrepresentation we have effected some good. We have shown our political opponents that we have men in the party as capable in the administration of affairs as any to be found inthe parties opposing us. We have also shown that the affairs of the Commonwealth are as safe in our hands as in the hands of any other political party.
– I doubt that. I regard the Broken Hill disturbances as a black mark against the Ministry.
– I should like to know what the Labour Government “had to do with the Broken Hill disturbances.
– Members of the Government showed an undignified partiality for men at Broken Hill who were acting irr an extraordinary manner.
– So far as I know, the only member of the Government who took any part in the Broken Hill trouble was the Postmaster-General, Mr. Josiah Thomas.
– What about the AttorneyGeneral ?
– I am not so conversant with what was done by the AttorneyGeneral, but I know that Mr. Thomas, as a representative of the men on1 strike, did the proper thing in showingthat his sympathies were with those who were fighting against a reduction of wages,. and whose cause was justified by the decision of the Arbitration Court. If the claims of the men had been shown to be unjustifiable I could have understood the honorable senator’s .objection to the action taken by Mr. Josiah Thomas; but it has been shown that Mr. Thomas was on the right side, and that it would have been a. shame for him to have done other than he did. However. Senator Walker is so accustomed to think that only wealth and property can be right that he believes that of necessity those who toil to produce wealth must be wrong.
– No one knows better than does the honorable senator that that is not a characteristic of mine.
– How is it, then, that as soon as the dispute took place the honorable senator gave his sympathy to the parties who have since been shown to be in the wrong-?
– I have always been in favour of law and order.
– If the people whom the honorable senator supports were so” anxious for law and order, why were they so reluctant to submit the matter to the’ only ‘Court that could settle it in terms of law and order ?
– And why did they not abide bv the law when it was stated?
– The fact is that Senator Walker is always on the side of the capitalists in disputes of this kind.
– That is all that the honorable senator knows.
– I can only judge by the honorable senator’s remarks here. It was shown when the dispute at Broken Hill was submitted to a process of cold reasoning in the Arbitration Court that the claims of the men were justified; but notwithstanding the decision of the Court, “Senator Walker’s sympathy is apparently still on the wrong side. As to the refer.ences to what took place at Broken Hill, it is very doubtful whether the disturbances were as serious as they have been made to appear. We know how such things are magnified. We know, also, that greater outrages have taken place since. We know that at the trial - of some cases the other day, when an unfortunate fellow who took part in stone-throwing - as men often do during labour disputes - was brought before a Court, he received the barbarous sentence of three years’ imprisonment.
– Order ! The honorable senator is now making a reflection upon the action of a Judge, and he must know that that is not in order.
– I have no desire to do so. I have come into conflict with the law in the past, and I have no desire to do so again ; but when these matters were introduced by Senator Walker, making it appear that labour members and members of the Labour Government had done something unfair during the Broken Hill strike, I was obliged to remind him of these things. I- wish the honorable senator to take to heart the decision of the Arbitration Court. Honorable senators generally will admit that Senator Walker is a fair-minded man when he does not allow his bias or prejudice to get the better of his reason, and I am sure that looking at the decision df the Arbitration Court the honorable senator will admit that the men were justified in the attitude which they took up. I wish now to quote the opinion of a very powerful journal which is published in Melbourne, and which has consistently opposed the fusion of the political parties in this Parliament that has now been completed, just as it opposed a coalition between the Liberal and the Conservative parties in the Victorian Parliament some time ago. No later than the 5th inst., the Age in discussing the proposed fusion of parties in the Commonweatlh Parliament, said -
The conservatives have been sedulously striving to lure the Liberal leader into the camp of stagnation. They have sung the siren’s song, “ Come be fused,” with nauseating iteration.
It also stated1 -
All the carefully thought out expedients of conservatism have been quietly disregarded.
Evidently the Age was not so much in the know after all, because it is quite manifest to-da.y that the Conservatives and the socalled’ Liberals have come together, and that their fusion is now an accomplished fact. It remains to be seen whether the journal which I have quoted will stand to the principles which it has so long advocated, or whether it is merely a. time-server like the gentleman who is now leading the Opposition in another place.
– Are there no timeservers here?
– The case is not quite so glaring in this Chamber as it is in another place. The Opposition in the Senate has been practically united all along, and its members have perhaps paved the way for what has been done elsewhere. It will be interesting to see whether Mr.
Deakin will put the principles of the Labour Party to the test by opposing them, and by putting other principles before the country in lieu thereof. We know that some time ago he loudly demanded that Parliament should be called together immediately. His demand took such a hurried form that one naturally expected that as soon as Parliament met, he would be prepared to put a policy before it. But so far as we know, he has no policy. Instead, by a simple vote, he has Been content to take the business of the country out of the hands of the Government of the day. Apparently, his only desire is that he may once more enjoy the sweets of office. A man who has enjoyed those sweets so long as he has - owing to the support extended to him by the Labour Party - should have been the very last to have resorted to a trick of that kind. But evidently he is prepared to use the dagger not only against the Labour Party, but against every party with which he is associated. We all remember how he treated the Reid-McLean Government, and we know how he has treated the Fisher Government. It will be instructive to learn the nature of the policy which will be put forward by the successors of the present Ministry. For instance, 1 should like to know what their defence policy will be. Mr. Deakin has advocated the presentation of a Dreadnought to the Old “Country. Will he have the courage to put that proposal before Parliament, and to stand or fall by it? I trust that he will. If he does - notwithstanding the fusion which has been brought about - I am satisfied that the proposal will be defeated. Certainly, the public are opposed to it. I do hope that Mr. Deakin will have the courage of his convictions, and will bring the matter forward.
– Courage of what?
– Perhaps I ought to withdraw the term “ convictions.” At any rate, if he is content to make the proposed offer of a Dreadnought to the Mother Country a test question, his term of office will be very short indeed. We all know that he cannot be in favour of an increased naval subsidy, because he himself unreservedly condemned the present naval agreement at the recent Imperial Conference.
– And his chief henchmen condemned him for doing so.
– Exactly. I shall await with interest his announcement in that connexion. Certainly the supporters of the present Government will not forget to remind the country at the next election of what their proposals were at the opening of the present session and Mr. Deakin’s policy will be contrasted with them. 1 can scarcely credit that sturdy free-traders like Senator Pulsford and Senator Walker will be content to allow a revision of the Tariff from a protectionist stand-point when the time for correcting anomalies comes round. We have been assured by the press that they have thrown all their fiscal principles overboard, but I can scarcely believe it. To tolerate a man like Mr. Deakin is a sufficient sacrifice in itself without those honorable senators being called upon to forego any of their political principles in order that they may fight under his banner. The question of the newprotection will certainly be pressed to the front by the members of the Labour Party., lt was one of the main planks in the policy of the present Government, as outlined by the Prime Minister at Gympie, and it will certainly be one of the test questions at the next elections.
– There are one or two aspects of this debate to which I desire briefly to refer. In the first place, we must all have noticed the entire absence of any explanation by any member of the Opposition as to why it has been decided that the policy of the Government ought not to be put in concrete form before the country. That that policy has been accepted by the “electors as Australian in purpose and sentiment no one will deny. The knowledge whichhonorable senators opposite possess inthat connexion is so overwhelming that I take it for granted that its general acceptance is the sole reason why they desire to prevent the people from gaining the slightest clue as to their real object. I listened attentively to the speech of the leader of the Opposition this afternoon, and I must confess that I somewhat admired him. I have an idea that he still possesses a good’ deal of political decency, so much indeed’ that he was absolutely prevented from identifying himself entirely with the conditionswhich exist at this early stage of the session. Of course, he did urge as an excuse for his brevity that the present situationwas abnormal, and that as a result hewould confine his remarks to the question of advertising the resources of Australia’.
Possibly that may be the right position for him to take up. But, in my opinion, he ought at least to have given some reasons why the present situation has been brought about. If it is the result of the policy put forward by the present Ministry he ought to have said so, and if, on the other hand, it is the outcome of considerations of expediency, he ought also to have said so. Personally, as a member of the Labour Party, I do not intend to mourn because of the existing situation. The only reason why I regret it is because a policy which was Australian in its very .essence, is to be frustrated before its submission to Parliament. I have always recognised that, after all, there are only two parties in politics. There has never been more than two parties. There has been the party which, at least during the past eighteen or twenty years, has grown stronger with age. That is the party which has always desired the progress of Australia ; that has always desired to make our nation what it ought to be, an ideal nation, in which every man and woman shall always be able to obtain a fair and honest livelihood. But there has also been that other party in politics which has desired that legislation should be of such a character as to promote the aggrandisement of the few and to increase the toil of the many. The present position shows us clearly that we are perfectly justified in entertaining a conception of the kind. If we want further evidence we shall probably obtain it in a day or two, when we shall probably see Senator Best and Senator Millen occupying the seats where Senator McGregor and Senator Pearce now sit. The political battles that those gentleman have fought from opposite sides of the chamber are fresh in our memories.
– Friendly duel,s.
– They were not friendly duels at all. They were, politically, duels to the death. Senator Millen and Senator Best have fought each other to establish their respective political principles, the one as an uncompromising freetrader, the other as an equally uncompromising protectionist. But the probabilities are that, in the course of a few days we shall see them with all the shreds and patches of their previous political costumes dragged together to cover them, and sitting side bv side, as, indeed, I honestly think they ought to do. Their real policy has always been “ Down with Labour, and ad vance the prospects and prosperity of capital as much as possible.” Their object has been to make Australia great in capitalism, no matter how poverty-stricken the great bulk of her people might be. They have combined together to defeat the only true Australian policy that has ever been put before this country. Some of the components of this new combination have talked - I admit that they have talked a great deal - about the requirements of Australian defence. Mr. Deakin has been one of the principal apostles of a defence policy. But he has done nothing but talk. Now the Labour Government have brought forward a practical scheme of defence, a scheme that has undoubtedly met with public approbation. Yet the people who have been talking defence for the past eight or nine years have suddenly come to the conclusion that this practical defence scheme of the Labour Government shall not be applied to Australia. I have no hesitation in giving my assurance to Senator de Largie that he need not for a moment fear that either Mr. Deakin or any of his followers will touch the matter of Dreadnought presentation.
– Then why did Mr. Deakin ask for Parliament to be called together ?
– He might have said that he wanted Parliament to be called together to discuss the Dreadnought presentation, but at that time there were a few mad people in Sydney and Melbournewho had not been locked up. by the lunacy authorities, and who had got it into their heads that this Dreadnought idea was a grand one. It looked at one time as if the movement was going to be very popular. That, of course, was when Mr. Deakin associated himself with it. It was because it appeared likely to be popular that Mr. Deakin walked into the trap.
– Why is he turning the Government out, then?
– He has no real reason for turning the Government out, but whatever reason he may assign, we may be quite sure that he will not propose the purchase of a Dreadnought. He and his followers will entirely forget that some of the Imperialist faddists in Sydney desired Australia, to present a Dreadnought. The very last thing that the party of shreds and patches propose will be to take up that business. I do not know whether they will make an attempt to formulate a defence policy for Australia. They have talked about it, but they have never attempted to frame a policy that was worthy of the name.
– They have not got one.
– They may be pitied for that, because it would be a difficult matter to frame a policy for a party of that character. Take Mr. Irvine, for instance. He is a liberal-minded man, I am sure. Every one knows that he is.
– The Age said that a Liberal ought to avoid Mr. Irvine as he would the plague.
– Exactly ; but Mr. Irvine is a Liberal. We find that he is one of the elements of this new combination. Then we have Mr. Joseph Cook, Sir John Forrest, Senator Pulsford, and Senator Walker.
– Senator Walker is one of the new protectionists.
– He is one of the very new ones; he is only four or five hours’ old. Senator Walker has from time to time in the Senate denounced every effort of the Labour Party to establish the principle of new protection. But now he is one of the shreds that are being put together for the purpose of defeating the Australian policy that Mr. Fisher has laid down. Notwithstanding his support of the new protection policy, I myself believe that Senator Walker is still as great a supporter of the principle of free-trade as ever he was in his life.
– Hear, hear.
– If the honorable senator is still a free-trader, how in the name of common-sense can he reconcile free-trade with the new protection principle ?
– I do not attempt to do so.
– But the honorable senator must attempt the task. Either that, or he must admit that the people of Australia are being beguiled by the newspapers, which have declared that the principles of protection are to remain untouched, and that the policy of the new protection is to be established. The only plank in the platform of the Fisher Government that honorable senators opposite have anything to say about is the progressive land tax. It is quite natural that they should oppose that proposition. It is natural that Senator Walker should oppose a progressive land tax. He is at the head of an institution which probably has a lien over more land than any single individual or any other company in Australia. Therefore, he has a sympathetic feeling in the matter of taxing land. It is quite possible for the honorable senator to be brought over to the support of the -principle of new protection. By means of the persuasive powers of that greatest of all persuasionists, Mr. Deakin, Senator Walker may even byandby be induced to go a little way in the direction of taxing land.
– I favour an income tax.
– So do lj but I also favour a progressive land tax, and I am firmly convinced that if we intend to make Australia what it ought to be, we shall have to work through a progressive land tax.
– I suppose the honorable senator is in favour of nationalizing the land as well ?
– When we come to discuss the nationalization of the land, I shall not leave the honorable senator under any mistake as to the position which I occupy, and I have been much more frank than my honorable friend was to-day or is now. He has not yet told us how he, along with Senators Pulsford and Walker, has been able, after all his protestations of a session ago, when we were discussing the question of protection or free-trade, to digest or bolt his freetrade and allow new protection to come out on top, and bring him over into that group of shreds and patches who have no other end in view than simply the defeat of the- only Australian policy that has ever been presented by a Federal Government. When the honorable senator tells us that, I will tell him something more about the question of land nationalization. What I wanted to refer to was the point raised by Senator Vardon. Following Senator W. Russell, he said that there is any quantity of land, and began to describe it. We, as a Labour Party, have not for one moment denied that in Australia there is an abundance of land. There is an abundance of land, and there is also a greater abundance of unused land. That’ is the complaint we have had. To establish his point, the honorable senator said that the men who came here first went out before railways were made and selected land. Of course they did, and the self-same men have not gone on to the land yet. In many instances they have allowed the land to lie idle for the better part of half a century, and have not done one stroke towards the betterment or cultivation of it. They have quietly waited until population came along and gave to their land a value which our honorable friend opposite so much desires and loves - the unearned increment. That was all that he was arguing for.
– When the States sold the land did they make any particular condition as to what a man should do with it?
– Certainly not. A man was allowed, if he chose, to let his land lie idle; but are the people to-dav content with that state of things? That is a question which we have to decide for ourselves. If we have to people Australia, where do my honorable friends want to people it? Do they want to people it 500 miles from market?Senator McGregor gave us two fine illustrations today. I can give another good one. In Western Australia we have immense mineral wealth. We have, for instance, gold which would probably go a little over 2 oz. to the ton; but it is in unpayable quantity because of its great distance from any means to make it a utility. The same thing applies to the land. We are quite willing for our honorable friends to bring out any number of persons. I do not care how many are brought out, if my honorable friends only bring them to make them useful to themselves as well as to the whole of Australia.
– What about absentee landlords?
– They are well, provided for in the Fisher Government’s policy. Senator Vardon declared here to-day that these were men who had brought their capital into the country. Some of them did bring a little capital, but most of them have got an immensely larger capital from the country without being in it at all. Some of them have never seen their blocks of land. That is a deplorable state of affairs. Some of the land they hold is excellent. Some of it is the best that we have in Australia. We simply say that until we are prepared to adopt measures that will bring that land within the reach of the people, we are not doing our dutv to Australia, and are not sincere in the expression of our desire to see the countrv progress and the people prosper. I do not propose to continue this debate to any length. I recognise, with a good manv others, that there is very little use in one side flogging awav at this programme while the other side have ‘made up their minds that they have no case against it, that it condemns their every action by every clause it contains, and that their cause is one of mere expediency. But I will congratulate them upon this fact, that by the act of the present week they declare to Australia a truth which we have often tried to declare, but which many of them have denied, namely, that in politics there are two parties - the Labour ‘Party, seeking for the welfare of Australia, and the anti-Labour Party, seekingfor the welfare of the few.
– I desire to call the attention of the Senate to a statement which was made by the leader of the Opposition in his very brief contribution to this debate. This afternoon he alluded to the AddressinReply as being debated in abnormal circumstances, and he made that an excuse for totally ignoring the Governor-General’s speech. He did not allude to any question of policy enunciated therein. I quite agree with the honorable senator that the circumstances are abnormal, and I have no complaint to make with regard to his statement in that connexion. The circumstances are abnormal because we find now in the history of Commonwealth politics that the most bitter political enemies - men who have professed the most divergent views - have joined in a fusion to carry out - What? So far as anybody knows yet they have no policy to carry out. It seems to me to be merely a fusion for the purpose of grabbing place and pay. I congratulate the Fisher Government upon the policy which they have enunciated, and which, I believe, meets with the hearty concurrence of the vast majority of the people of Australia. With regard to policy, they have nailed their colours to the mast, and are leaving office because they are true to principle. The only reason why they will leave office is because they will not truckle to the feeling which has compelled honorable senators opposite to join in a fusion. They are leaving the Ministerial bench because they have adhered to principle, but the incoming Government will take their places because of their want of principle and for no other reason. Certainly they have alleged that they professed certain principles in the past. Some of them went up and down the length of the country telling the people that their only hope of salvation was to return a majority of free-traders to power. Others of them went up and down the country preaching exactly the opposite doctrine. We had Mr. Deakin and his party saying that they were champions of a White Australia, and we had the other gentlemen opposite saying that Australia could never be prosperous unless we allowed the major portion of it to fall into the hands of coloured people. Yet in spite of these widely divergent views we find these gentlemen now banded together. For what purpose? To take possession of the Treasury bench because of their want of principle. Now, if their alleged principles are worth anything, undoubtedly they never could come together for any particular purpose, and certainly not to take office, seeing that their divergent views never could be made compatible.
– Taking pay is a principle of theirs.
– -It might be dignified by that term in some quarters, but I would hardly care to say that the mere desire for place and power is worthy of being called a principle. In trying to find an explanation for the abnormal state of affairs to which Senator Millen alluded, I am irresistibly driven to the conclusion that there must have been some cause at work,, because no effect takes place in the world without some cause. If we see an effect and are careful to analyze the circumstances, we can generally reason back to the cause which created that effect. I am irresistibly struck with a certain coincidence which occurred in the political world recently. I remember that a certain violently partisan sectarian organization, which met in Victoria, drafted a political programme. I allude to the people who call themselves the Loyal Orangemen of Australia. Their conference was graced by the presence of several prominent members of the Deakin party, notably Mr. Mauger and Mr. Hume Cook, who indulged in some very tall talk. A very prominent member of the Reid party was there, and in summing up the policy enunciated by that organization, he said that it was a “ belly “ policy. I think that he made a mistake. Instead of calling it a belly policy he should have decribed it as a yellow-belly policy, and then the description would have been accurate. The political programme drafted by that organization was nothing but a conglomeration of vague generalities which meant little or much or nothing, just as one chose to interpret them. I am struck with the coincidence that the programme enunciated by Mr. Deakin is practically identical with that programme. It means little or much or nothing just as politicians who are supposed to be under a platform may desire to-, interpret it for the time being. By these considerations - and nobody can deny that I have fairly stated the case - I am driven to the conclusion that that sectarian organization is at the back of this fusion. I shall proceed to try to show honorable senators why I am driven to that conclusion. Every one knows that while the rest of Australia was comparatively free from this pernicious influence in politics, of late years it has been continually rampant in New South Wales, and has been used bv. the Free-Trade Party to further their political ends. This sectarian strife has been used in the. most deplorable fashion in order to buttress the dying Free-Trade Tory Party in that State. The people who continually stir up this sectarian strife laid themselves out to capture the Deakin Party in Victoria, and have succeeded in doing so, with the result that Mr. Deakin has adopted their policy. Having roped in the free-traders of New South Wales and the protectionists of Victoria, they immediately proceeded, as the power behind the scenes, to draw the two parties together. That is the real cause behind the fusion we see to-day. I say that it is deplorable, and I go further and say that it is a shameful state of affairs, that in this Christian country we should have people ready to use sectarian strife for political purposes, where bro- therly love and Christian charity should prevail between all.
– Politicians ?
– Politicians included ; I make no exception. I say that the different Christian sects in Australia should be allowed to live together in peace and amity, and that instead of continually stirring up sectarian strife for base political! purposes, the various peoples of Australia should be bound together in the bonds of love and brotherhood. I have the very strongest objection to the introduction of this sectarian business into politics. I regret that the course of events has compelled me to allude to it; but it has been so palpable recently in Victoria, and so notorious for the last few years in New South Wales, that the time has come for’ those who do not believe in the stirring up of sectarian strife to raise their voices against it. We know as a regrettable fact that at the last election in Victoria a case was brought before the law courts, and it was shown that a man was actually expelled from a lodge because he dared, not only to vote on behalf of a particular candidate, but to allow his horse to be used in the service of that candidate during the election. It is shameful that sectarian strife should be introduced in this fashion. I hope that in this young country this snake-headed bitter sectarian feeling will never be allowed to usurp the place which ought to be occupied bv amity and good feeling amongst the different peoples of Australia. With regard to the’ fusion that has taken place. I desire to remark that to me it seems extraordinary that a man like Mr. Deakin, who a little time ago denounced the free-trade section in another place as a collection or conglomeration of shreds and patches, and of the wreckages of all other parties, should now have consented to become a portion of the wreckage himself. He described the Opposition in another place as composed of the wreckage of the Free-Trade Party, the black labour party, and of everything that was reactionary in Australian politics. Now, strange to say the honorable gentleman willingly consents to become a portion of the wreckage himself.
– I suppose he has come to his senses.
– Of course he has, in the estimation of the honorable senator. But Mr. Deakin, as a portion of the wreckage he denounced is the most melancholy spectacle presented in the public life of Australia to-day- If he had acted as he ought to have done he would have continued to occupy a high place in the estimation of the people of Australia ; but seeing that he has crowned his life’s work as & politician by an act of what I call unparalleled treachery to his party, not only in this Parliament, but in the country, he has placed himself in such a position-
– Is this the first time ?
– If Senator Clemons will have a little patience I will allude to previous occasions directly. Mr. Deakin has crowned his political life’s work now by an act of unparalleled treachery - not to our party. I make no complaint on that score, because he was absolutely free to treat our party as he pleased, since we are entirely independent of him, and go on our way rejoicing, no matter what he may do - not only to the party that followed him in Parliament, but especially to the party in the country that placed him in the high position which” he occupied in Australian politics. His” action can be alluded to in no other terms than as a base betrayal.
– A Judas Iscariot.
– Order !
- Senator Clemons reminds me that this can scarcely be regarded as the first occasion on which Mr. Deakin has accomplished a right-about-face of this character. As usual, I am in perfect accord with the honorable senator. I am neither astonished nor disappointed that Mr. Deakin should have acted in this way, because I have a very lively recollection of the way he betrayed his own colleagues whom he induced to join the Reid-McLean Administration a little time ago.. I have also a very lively recollection of the. speech which Mr. Deakin made in another place when he took action to displace the ReidMcLean Administration. He came into that other place to make that speech and said, in my own hearing, because I was present at the time, and Hansard will bear me out, that when he went to Ballarat to make the famous address which was practically a notice to quit to the ReidMcLean Administration, he went as a loyal and faithful supporter of that Administration. He said, further, that he came into the House of Representatives as a loyal and faithful supporter of that Administration, and that it was not until he saw the famous short speech with which the Governor-General, on the advice of the Reid-McLean Government, opened Parliament, and that Mr. Reid as Prime Minister was inviting Parliament to commit suicide, that he decided to take action. I am here to say, and I only wish that Mr. Deakin were listening to me, that that was an absolutely incorrect statement. I was in Melbourne before Mr. Deakin went to Ballarat, and the fact that he was going there to practically give the Reid-McLean Administration notice to quit was canvassed every day in Melbourne. The division-list showing the probable way in which members would vote, was freely circulated amongst those who did not support the Reid-McLean Government. For days before Parliament met on that historic occasion every one knew that Mr. Deakin was going to take the action he did take, that he had fully made up his mind, and his amendment was in his pocket before he knew what the speech from the Throne was going to be. In view of these facts, I was neither astonished nor disappointed that Mr. Deakin should have turned rightaboutface on this occasion.
– Yet for years the honorable senator’s party kept Mr. Deakin in power.
– We had never any special desire to keep Mr. Deakin or any one else in power. We differ from all other parties. We come here not seeking place or pay or to keep any one in particular in office, but to obtain reforms, and if by keeping Mr. Deakin in power we could secure more reforms than we could by keeping any other leader in power we were justified in supporting him. If I thought to-morrow that Mr. Reid would assist to give greater reforms in the interests of the people of Australia I should be as happy to support a Reid Government as I ever was to support a Deakin Government. We have absolutely no interest whatever in the personality of these gentlemen. We are not here to keep either of them in office of in a position of power. We are here to obtain reforms in the interests of the people whom we represent and who comprise the great bulk of the people of Australia. So far as Mr. Deakin is concerned, I feel sure that were it not for the driving force of the Labour Party behind him all the reforms the people would have secured from him would have been harmless. Fortunately, we were in such a position that we were able to drive him in that direction, and it was only when he ceased to be any further use to us in the way of securing reforms that we finally severed our connexion with him. Various plots and schemes were suggested in order to find an excuse to oust the present Government, and amongst the most notorious of the plans and schemes was a suddenly discovered desire on the part of certain newspapers and politicians to present a Dreadnought to Great Britain. The chief reason put forward for the presentation was that it would be a testimony to the world of the loyalty and love of the people of Australia for the Mother Country. I have yet to learn that any testimony of the kind is required. I have yet to learn that it is necessary for a loyal person to be continually prating and skiting about his loyalty. If I found a woman going up and down the streets of Melbourne “boasting that she was an honest woman and skiting about her virtue, I should immediately put her down as a strumpet of the vilest kind. And when I hear people skiting about their loyalty I have very con siderable doubts about it. I take it that loyal people do not need to be continually prating about their loyalty. The fact should be patent to every one, and it should not require the presentation of a Dreadnought to give evidence of the loyalty of the people of. Australia. What does the offer of a Dreadnought amount to, anyhow? It means simply that those who are talking of presenting a Dreadnought’ to Great Britain are going to ask the people of Great Britain to lend them £2,000,000 in order that they may return it to enable them to build a Dreadnought with it.
– The money would be borrowed from private people, and not from the Imperial Government.
– It would be borrowed from the people of England, in order to present the people of England with a Dreadnought.
– No, to present the Imperial Government with a Dreadnought.
– The Government of England has no existence whatever apart from the people of England. The people of England are the Government of England just as the people of Australia are the Government of Australia. The private individuals referred to by Senator Walker together form the nation.
– The people of England would not have to pay the interest on the £2,000,000.
– Nor would the honorable senator. By the time the interest began to be paid the honorable senator would probably be enjoying heavenly bliss, and it would be the unborn babies of Australia who would be called upon to make the testimony of his loyalty. How generous that would be. Those who have suggested the presentation of a Dreadnought have been going up and down the country asking where the Labour Government would obtain the money to carry out the schemes they propounded, and yet they tell us that they can get £2,000,000, in addition to what will be required, to carry on the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– The Labour Government desired to find the money out of ordinary income. We were prepared to find it gradually.
– For years in Australia we have been borrowing money, and so far we have not paid back a farthing.
– Sinking funds are established now in almost every State.
– There is no sinking fund established in any part of Australia that is worth anything. We have borrowed nearly £250,000,000, and I ask Senator Walker to say how much of it we have paid back.
– We have repaid some millions of pounds, and obtained fresh loans.
– No. Our total indebtedness is continually increasing.
– And our population is increasing.
– What has that to do with the matter? The people of Australia still owe the money. Before I conclude my remarks I intend to show the principal reason why this money was borrowed, and also the manner in which’ it has been fooled away for the benefit of private individuals. The proposal to present a Dreadnought to Britain reminds me of the generosity of a man who, upon meeting another man in the street, says, “ Lend me a bob old chap, and I will shout for you.” That is exactly what is meant. It was the most farcical proposal which could have emanated from a self-respecting people. Indeed, I doubt whether those who originated and supported it can be deemed to be self-respecting at all. I am glad that the people were possessed of too much common sense to be deceived by such clap-trap. The proposal of the Fisher Government, on the other hand, is one which commends itself to the good sense of every thinking individual, and also of the authorities in the Old Country. One of the most distinguished Admirals of Great Britain - I refer to Lord Charles Beresford - addressed himself to this question of Imperial defence only a few days ago. I need not trouble the Senate by quoting what he said. I am sure that every honorable senator has read it. I say that the speech of Lord Charles Beresford was a distinct slap in the face to those persons who wanted to be guilty of the folly of presenting a Dreadnought to Britain. That J distinguished Admiral said that the best contribution .which the self-governing Dominions could make to the Mother Country in the matter of Imperial Defence was to provide for their own defence. That is exactly what the Fisher Ministry proposed to do. The suggested offer of a Dreadnought was so much flam, so much hysteria and “hifalutin,” probably mixed up with a considerable share of tuft hunting. On the other hand, the defence scheme propounded’ by the Fisher Government has everything to recommend it to the common’ sense of the people. It is a carefully and well thought-out scheme which does not provide merely for spasmodic action, but which contemplates a continuous plan of defence for this Continent. We have evidence that it has commended itself alike1 to the military and naval authorities of theOld Country, in addition to which weknow - because it has been pointed out, not only by the naval authorities in Britain, but by Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Poore, theCommander on the Australian Squadron, and by the Governor-General’ - that thebest .service we can render the Mother Country is to raise an efficient naval’ force in our midst, and to providea number of torpedo vessels. Everybody who has studied the question must be awarethat it would not be very difficult for a great naval Power like Britain to transfer a large number of battleships from oneocean to another. Probably the Mother Country could put a fleet of extraordinary strength into the Pacific within a very short time. But if, in addition, she required to send a torpedo flotilla to bring that fleet up to its proper fighting strength in every detail, she would probably experience very considerable difficulty. Indeed, she might find it almost impossible to transfer such a flotilla, to these seas within the period in which she could transfer a fleet of battleships and cruisers. Consequently, the very best service that we can render the Empire in the matter of Imperial defence is to thoroughly equip a torpedo flotilla and to have a number of well trained men attached to it. Compared with the hysterical offer of a Dreadnought the proposal of the Fisher Government is a statesmanlike one. The offer to which I have referred is onewhich is only fit to emanate from a lunatic asylum. Notwithstanding all the tall talkthat was indulged in by the leading newspapers of Sydney and Melbourne to theeffect that the Government of the day would’ be compelled by the force of public opinion to offer a Dreadnought to Britain, I venture to say that the incoming Ministry will’ not dare to submit any such proposal toParliament. They will find it very convenient to forget all such tall talk the moment they gain possession of the Treasury’ bench. If they dared to table such aproposal they would receive very shortshrift at the hands of the people. A little time ago they were absolutely convinced of the necessity for presenting ai Dreadnought to Britain. Why do they not tell us that their object in dis- placing the present Government is that they may be in a position to show their boasted loyalty by presenting a firstclass battleship to the Mother Country? But they will do nothing of the kind. In my opinion, there should be no need for Australia to continually protest the loyalty of its people, because it is undoubted. Our loyalty has never been called into question, and I hope that it never will be. But let me for a moinent examine the vaunted loyalty of the advocates of the proposal to present a Dreadnought to the Mother Country. Only yesterday the Governor-General graciously read to members of both Houses of this Parliament a speech which embodied the policy of the Fisher Government. That speech was read by His Excellency as the recognised representative of King Edward, ‘and undoubtedly the loyalty which is due to King Edward ought to be shown to his representative in the Commonwealth. But the gentlemen to whom I have referred do not treat His Excellency even with common respect, because they absolutely refuse to discuss a line of the Vice-Regal utterance.
– The honorable senator has not begun to discuss it yet.
– No, I have only been indulging in a -few preliminary remarks. Instead of criticising the speech which was read by His Excellency the Governor-General, the gentlemen who so loudly clamoured for the presentation of a Dreadnought to Britain are treating it with absolute contumely. Yet thev have the un blushing impudence to publicly prate about their loyalty. The Vice-Regal speech outlines proposals not merely for the defence of the Commonwealth, but for the carrying outof certain duties which are imposed upon this Parliament. No matter what Ministry mav be in power, it is imperative that ‘those duties shall be discharged. To that end ways and means must be provided, and the Governor- General’s speech indicates very clear! v certain directions in which we might look for those ways and means. For instance, a progressive land tax is outlined, with an exemption of £5,000 unimproved value. I was somewhat astonished this afternoon to hear Senator Vardon declare that, the proposal was an absolutely immoral one. I have heard others say that the imposition of a land tax amounts to confiscation. Viewed from the same stand-point, it might be argued that sill taxation is confiscation. Because I happen to smoke, the Government confiscates , £3 of mine every year. Yet I am not continually whining about confiscation. Similarly, the poor unfortunate man who has a wife and four children is required to pav in indirect taxation at least j£i8 annually, inasmuch as the Customs and Excise taxation of the Commonwealth amounts to slightly more than £3 per head. Consequently, he is compelled to contribute at least £18 per annum towards the cost of the government of the Commonwealth. But does anybody hear the poor working man, who frequently receives only 35s. per week, whining about confiscation? Certainly not. Yet immediately the rich man is asked to bear far less than his just share of taxation, a cry is raised about confiscation. I say that the rich men are the greatest confiscators themselves. They have been confiscating the wealth created bv the community for vears. The lands of Australia have absolutely no value except that which is given to them by population.
– If a man smokes twice as much tobacco as does the honorable senator, would he put an increased tax upon him?
– He would be required to pay double the taxation that I Pay.
– The honorable senator would not make the man who smokes most pay three times as high a tax as the man who smokes least. That is the principle he is advocating with regard to land taxation.
– No; I would tax the land monopolist as a public enemy. If I had my way, I would tax him out of existence. Land is different from anything else. Under the Mosaic law there was the injunction that “ The land shall not be sold for ever and ever. Thus saith the Lord.” The land was the people’s. But according to the honorable senator, instead of the land belonging to the people, the whole earth, and the fullness thereof, belongs to the landlords. The Almighty never created the land for the use of a few individuals. He did not create any man with a right to say, “All this land that I can look upon is mine, and I can warn off every other person.” That is a monstrous proposition. An intelligent man like Senator Vardon ought to be the last to make such a ridiculous statement as that ‘ a proposal to enable land to be put to its best use savours in the remotest degree of immorality.
– Anything that is wrong is immoral.
– I am proving that it is the landlords who are wrong, and that they have not a tittle of a title to monopolize the earth. I question the right of any Government to sell a single acre of land, or to give any title to anybody to monopolize land against the interests of future generations. We have not, I maintain, the rieht to deprive the children who come after us of their right to the use of the land. Not a tittle of title can be shown to justify those who live in Australia at the present moment alienating the land for the benefit of a few rich landlords. I have said that the landlords themselves are the great confiscators, and that statement is susceptible of proof. The land which thev hold was sold in the past for a mere song. But it is worth many millions to-day. Who created that value? Did the landlords create it? Not a bit of it. Try to purchase land at the corner of Swanston and Collins streets, and see the price you will have to pay. The man who got the freehold of that land in the first instance might have been living in England, or he might have been in gaol. He certainly never did a single thing to increase the value of the holding which he bought for a few pounds. Yet to-day the owner is probably worth hundreds of thousands of pounds’, and is able to exact large rents. Who created that value? The people themselves. The people, then, should have the benefit of the value created, not a private individual. It is, therefore, these private individuals who are the great confiscators all the time. Thev are confiscating the earnings of the public, and putting them into their own pockets. We have heard a great deal as to the need for defence. I am glad to believe that the promotion of a defence policy for Australia does not especially belong to anyone party. Men of almost all parties are agreed that we should put our house in order, and take proper steps for the defence of this portion of His Majesty’s dominions. It is essential for the proper defence of Australia that we should have a larger population here . than we have to-day. Curiously enough those people who are in favour of the land monopolists are at the same time in favour of immigration. Whv should they be when they will not allow the immigrant to make a living on the land? The truth is that they want to bring immi grants to this country in order to flood it, so that they may be able to sweat the unfortunate workmen of Australia and force them to increase the profits of the idle, bloated, landlord class.
– The honorable senator wants to take the land from the landlords, and at the same time not let immigrants in.
– There is no one in this Senate who knows tetter than Senator Pulsford that in order to make a success of any industry the people engaged in it must get their raw material at the cheapest possible rate. The land is the farmer’s raw material. He should be enabled to get it at the cheapest possible rate. If we have in Australia an artificial scarcity of land, theeffect must be to prevent that natural increase of the population which we ought to expect in a young country such as this. In this State of Victoria, which is considerably less than a century old, we are faced with the remarkable fact of a loss of population. Is not that extraordinary ? Here is a young country, absolutely in its infancy, with almost unbounded possibilities of development and advancement, actually losing population every year. I do not mean to say that the population of Victoria is becoming less. But I do say emphatically, nevertheless, that Victoria is losing population every year. As a matter of fact, in many of the “best agricultural districts of this State there has been an actual loss of population. The lands there are in fewer hands to-day than they were fifteen or twenty years ago. Victoria generally is losing population in the sense that she is not maintaining her natural increase. What isthe use of talking of introducing more people unless we can keep up our natural increase? But we have the extraordinary fact of a larger number of men leaving Victoria every’ year than come into the State. That is to say, many of the young men and women born in Victoria are compelled to leave a State which is practically unpeopled, as compared with the more thickly-populated countries of the world. That fact proves the blighting curse of land monopoly. During the recent Victorian State elections, Sir Thomas Bent, the ex-Premier, stated from the public platform that 170 people in Victoria own noless than£1 7,000,000 worth of land. That estimate was based upon the ridiculously low valuation which notoriously prevails here. Under a proper valuation, it would be nearer the mark to say that those 170 people own from £40,000,000 to £50,000,000 worth of land. Yet honorable senators say that there is no need for a land tax in Australia. It is equally notorious that a man who desires to obtain farming land in Victoria cannot get good land. A very considerable portion of the farming operations are pursued upon the worst land in Victoria. A man who wants to cultivate land and grow crops on it is driven up to the dry Mallee country, where he is not sure of getting one crop in three years, whilst at the same time in the splendid Western District, within a few miles of the city of Melbourne, right within the rain belt, vast areas of land are left out of cultivation; and are merely runs for the squatters’ mobs of sheep. When they thoroughly recognise the fact that human beings are of more value than sheep, the people of Australia will rise in their might and sweep the land monopolists out of existence. In Victoria, where there is a population of only about one million and a quarter, there is room for a population of ten millions to live in prosperity and comfort. But owing to the curse of landlordism, which is sapping the life out of this young country, we find that the population, instead of increasing at a natural rate, is gradually- dwindling. That is an awful state of things in a young country. Exactly the same sort of thing meets us in other States. I have only instanced Victoria, because the circumstances of this State are naturally familiar to most of us here. Tasmania is about the same size as Ireland, which at one time supported a population of 9,000,000 people, and now supports 4,500,000, mostly agriculturists. Tasmania has even a more genial climate than Ireland. She has not a severe winter during six months of the year such as Ireland ha”s to endure. Yet we find that Tasmania has a population equal only to that of a moderatesized city. There are only about 184,000 people in the island, equal to about one-third of the population of Melbourne. We find this beautiful little country, in the enjoyment of the most genial climate that can be found for our race in the Commonwealth, practically a waste desert. Yet they tell us that there is no need for a land tax to induce the profitable occupation of the land. I turn to my own State. Queensland is one of the largest and most fertile of the States of Australia.* Yet with millions of acres of Crown land we have the same artificial scarcity.. I should like, in reply to some of my friends who say that there are millions of acres available for settlement in Queensland, to ask them to explain why it is that the Queensland Government in the past have had to pay £1,000,000 of public money to buy back big estates, upon which to settle people, and why the present Queensland Government have sought, and have obtained, from Parliament power to spend £500,000 a year in buying back estates, if there is no land monopoly there? The Government are doing this simply because, in spite of the millions of acres of Crown land unalienated, we have there, as in other States, an artificial scarcity of land for settlement. The reason is obvious. Whilst we have millions of acres of land unalienated, they are not suitable for settlement at present. Many of these tracts of country are in places where there are no railway lines or in places outside the rain belt, or not accessible to markets. They are, therefore, unsuitable for agriculture to be profitably pursued. But where the good land is close to a railway or accessible to market every acre is monopolized, and before a man can go on the land to cultivate it he has to pay an enormous price to the landlord. What is the result of all this? In Victoria we have the extraordinary spectacle of agricultural land fetching as high as £100 an acre, and in Queensland, where there are so many million acres of Crown land, we have the spectacle of agricultural land fetching as high as £50 an acre. The unfortunate man who pays that price finds himself with a. millstone of debt around his neck. The possibility is that he will never lie able to get over it, and in order to earn the rent or interest every year, and to try to keep his nose above water, he has to sweat himself, his wife and unfortunate children, and everybody who is working for him. He has’ to do that in order to enable the bloated landlord, who never produced a single thing, who never contributed one iota towards the advancement of the country, to wallow in ease and luxury. That result is due to the artificial scarcity of -land in this young country. We are told about the many million acres which are still unalienated. But I would remind honorable senators that although land is not alienated to a very considerable extent, vet it is just as unavailable as if it was alienated. In Queensland, after the great drought in 1902 and i9°3> the squatters capitalized that drought in this way : they made such a song about the great hardships which they were enduring, that they came down to the Queenland Parliament and asked to be compensated for the drought which Nature had inflicted upon them by the Queensland Government giving them indefeasible leases for another forty years. Are the settlers and immigrants whom we bring out to wait for another forty years before they can get an acre of land on which to settle? Although that land is leased, and although it is still unalienated, it is just as unavailable as big privately -owned estates in other portions of the State. Then, again, that land, if properly utilized even for pastoral purposes under closer settlement conditions, would
Supply fifty times more population with a comfortable living than it is now sup-, porting. In Queensland we find that a man can generally make a comfortable living on a leased grazing farm of from 5,000 to 10,000 acres, and even in the worst portion of the State he can make a comfortable living on 20,000 acres. But how is he treated by the usual capitalist Government - those wealthy people who are saying continually that they do everything for the sake of the poor man ? How is the grazing farmer treated as compared with the big squatter ? The latter never by any chance pays more than i£d. per acre per annum ; in some cases He gets it down considerably less than Jd. per acre. In addition to ‘that he is generally allowed 25 per cent, of his lease absolutely free of rent under what are known as the unavailable land clauses. The assumption ls that a certain portion of an estate is of little or no use, and the Government make a big squatter an allowance of about 25 per cent, of his total holding as unavailable land for which he pays no rent. Now, a grazing farmer pays a rent of id., 2d., 4d. and 5d. an acre. On an average he pays from four to eight times as much as a big squatter pays, and he does not get a single acre of unavailable land allowed to him. Our beneficent capitalist Governments have such regard for the poor settler, for the great national necessity of peopling the lands of Australia, that where a poor man goes on the land they charge him from four to eight times as much as the big! squatter. That is the way they encourage closer settlement. Yet they are continually prating about their desire to bring in more people. After the facts I have quoted - and I have not over-stated the case in one iota - I think it is undeniable that some- thing should be done in order to enable the people who are here and those who will come in the future to get access to the land so as to make a living upon it. How are we going to do that? What is the best means to employ? I think that anybody who is animated by a desire to do the best possible for Australia, especially to put it in such a position that by reason of having a large population, it will have a mighty force with which to defend its shores if the need should arise, should seriously consider the position. A great many of the States have tackled the subject in a tentative fashion, but what has been the result? In Queensland the Government have already spent over ,£1,000,000 in buying back big estates which previous Governments had foolishly alienated. The present Government have sought and obtained authority to spend £500,000 in buying back more big estates. The very first result of that policy is absolutely detrimental to closer settlement, because the great need for .a man is to get his land as cheaply as possible. The first necessity for the successful pursuit of farming is to get the raw material at the cheapest possible rate, but when the Government go into the market with ,£500,000 to buy back land the very first effect is to make the land dear. The people who own the big estates, immediately open their mouths to the widest possible extent to grab the largestportion of that sum with the sacrifice of the least possible portion of the big estates. That being so, the Government are compelled to pay the price demanded, otherwise there would be no settlement possible. When the Government pay a very high artificial price, then, in order that the people as a whole may not lose by the transaction, they are compelled to charge the incoming settler a sufficient price to recoup the State for its outlay. Generally, he has to pay a great deal more than the land is worth, and he is induced to do that because the Government give him very long terms - from twenty to forty years. What is the result? The man, knowing that he has a long term in which to pay, begins to cultivate the land, and borrows some money for the purpose of buying stock and farm implements, erecting fences.1, and effecting necessary improvements. From the very start he - has a mill-stone of debt tied around his neck. Year after year, not only het but his wife and children, and everybody who works for him, have to toil and slave early and late in order to enable him to make ends meet.
– That is what Senator Walker wants.
– Of course it is. My honorable friends on the other side want to fatten the big landlord all the time at the expense of the great bulk of the people. The unfortunate settler may be able to carry on in a good season, but when two or three bad seasons come on top of each other, he is forced into the Insolvency Court; he is compelled to sell out or to forfeit. There is no single thing in the world to prevent that farm going into a big estate again. There is no single thing to prevent all the farms taken up on a resumed estate going back into the hands of the big land-holder within a period of twenty-five years. That is all we are achieving by that round-about method, although it has cost the taxpayers many millions. But a progressive land tax, which is an eminently just tax, would not cost the people of Australia one farthing. On the contrary, it would put monev into the national coffers. Not only would it automatically burst up big estates, but it would keep them burst up; that is one of its highest recommendations. I think it must be recognised as a truism that dear land always means cheap labour, while, on the contrary, cheapland means dear labour. It is because our friends on the Opposition side represent the bloated landlord »nd the land monopolist that they so much dread a land tax. They know that it will cheapen land, and consequently make labour dear, while if they can avoid a land tax, land will become dear and labour cheap. Why does labour become cheap when land is dear ? It is simply because a settler has to meet such an enormous outlay to pay the first cost of the land, and to continually meet the interest or rent charge, that he is compelled, not only to work himself to death, together with his wife and children, as many unfortunates do, but also to grind down the man who works for him to the lowest depth. If the land were cheap, he would not be under that necessity. He could get plenty of land, he would require plenty of labour, and have the whole of the output to remunerate himself and his labourers. He would be able, not onlv to live a comfortable life, but to pay a decent rate of wage to his hands. In order to raise the status of the actual farmer, the first and most vital necessity is to cheapen land to people who want to use it. In Australia, with our mighty area, we should be producing almost enough agricultural produce to supply the whole Britishspeaking world. I have not the slightest doubt that that could be easily done. Instead of that, only a miserable little fringe of our splendid agricultural lands is put into actual cultivation, and that must always remain so while the available lands - that is, those which are immediately available for close settlement - are locked up in the hands of a few big landlords. One can travel on any railway line out of Melbourne, and within 25 miles he will find some of the best land in Australia absolutely vacant but Tor the occupation of a few sheep. If, however, we go to the Mallee, to the dry country, where the seasons are uncertain, and farmers never know when they will get a crop, it is there we shall find the farmers, and we shall learn also that they sometimes find it difficult to get land there. In this way people are driven out of the State to seek a living elsewhere. Whilst such a state of affairs continues, it is very little use to talk of bringing in large numbers of immigrants, for an immigrant must be useless to Australia unless he is engaged in wealth production and adds in some way to the total output of industry. If there is no profitable employment open to him when he comes’ here, he can produce nothing. And so long as our lands are locked up, and an artificial scarcity of land exists, or land can only be secured at prohibitive prices, so long will our population be restricted to a totally inadequate number. Yet no one will deny that the great need of Australia at the present moment is more population. At present we have about 4,250,000 persons in the Commonwealth, and it is only a moderate estimate to say that Australia is capable of keeping in affluence and prosperity at least 40,000,000 of people. It behoves the Commonwealth Parliament charged with the national destinies to see that every obstacle to the attainment of so desirable a result shall be removed at the earliest possible date. Again, from the point of view of defence, it is essential that Australia should have a large population, and an agricultural population. A yeomanry population, breathing every day the pure fresh air of the country, is the hardiest and best material from which any soldiery could be obtained. How can any reasonable man expect that we shall have a sufficiently large population to make Australia absolutely secure against invasion while the people are not allowed to occupy the lands. From the point of view of defence, it is essential that the lands of Australia be thrown open to profitable occupation and cultivation by the people. It should also be remembered in connexion with the imposition of a land tax that those who occupy the land should recognise what was the fundamental principle at the root of national defence in the country from which we sprang in the years gone by. Every one who has studied history knows that in the early days in Great Britain the land had to bear the whole burden of defence. The feudal barons held their land in fee from, the Crown, on certain conditions, one of which was that every baron, or landlord, should maintain so many men-at-arms fully equipped and ready for the service of the Crown. It was thus that the Kings of England raised armies, not only for home defence, but for foreign aggression, in the feudal days. And, indeed, u was only within comparatively recent years that the landlords of England were able to transfer that burden of defence from their shoulders to those of the great bulk of the people of the country. They have done so by means of indirect taxation, which was a cunningly devised scheme to relieve the landlords of their legitimate burden, and of compliance with the condition on which the, originally received their land from the Crown, in order that the burden might be transferred to the shoulders of the people, to whom it did not properly belong at all. The landlords have most to fear from any foreign invasion of this or any other country. The title-deeds of their big estates would not be worth the paper they are written on if the country were conquered to-morrow. The conqueror does, not recognise title-deeds, and we should then have the landlords talking of confiscation. Still, they are unwilling to pay the small premium that is necessary to prevent the confiscation of their property by a foreign foe. I contend that the necessary cost of defence should be regarded as an annual insurance premium against, the invasion of our rights and liberties and the confiscation of our property. I- say that if the manhood of the nation is willing to give up its time to training for defence, willing to take its life in hand, shoulder a gun, and walk to the front to fight for the nation in the hour of heed, willing, in short, to risk everything it possesses, that is all that should be asked from the manhood of the nation. And the property for which it fights, and in the defence of which the manhood of the nation shoulders the rifle, may properly ‘be called upon to bear the whole of the cost, as it was called upon in feudal England, and in that country up to the time when the landlords basely transferred their burden to the shoulders of the people, who, being without a vote, were unable to protect themselves against their depredations. Any one who looks up the statistics of Australia can find out the value of private property in the Commonwealth, and only a short calculation is necessary to show that a small annual insurance premium of per cent., or 5s. in every £100, of the value of private property, would more than pay the whole of the cost of the protection and defence of that property. I ask, is that too large a premium to ask from the owners of private property, in order to prevent its confiscation by a foreign foe.
– The value of private property in Australia is £1,058,000,000.
– I think that Senator McGregor has quoted Coghlan’ s 1904 statistics, and the present value of private property is very much more than the amount stated. A land tax would get a portion of the money back for the people, and seeing that thi; landlords have most at stake, they should contribute the lion’s share of the cost of defence. A few years ago when we were engaged in a strenuous fight for adult suffrage, a stock argument against the demand for equal voting rights for every man and woman in the country was that very many, if not most, of the people had no stake in the country. I always denied that contention. Every man has a stake in the country, and no man a greater stake than the working man. He has his life and the life and happiness of his wife and children at stake, and no man, though he were ten times a millionaire, could have any greater stake. But people who claim that they are the persons who have a stake in the country desire that those .to whom they deny a stake in the country shall put up all the money to protect what they claim for themselves. As, on their own showing, they have the greatest stake in the country, they should be prepared to defray the greatest portion of the cost of its defence. I have heard it stated in some quarters that working people have nothing to fight for, anil that it is ridiculous to ask them to take any interest whatever in- the question of defence. I wish to say, with .a full sense of my responsibility, that I do not for a moment subscribe to that doc- trine. 1 say that they have a great deal to fight for, a great deal to lose, and great interests at stake in preserving the liberty and integrity of this country. What would become of our progressive legislation, of all the reforms on. which we pride oUtselves, our franchise, our political liberty, our arbitration and industrial laws,, our White Australia policy^ and the thousand and one reforms we have succeeded in winning, if this country were conquered tomorrow? They might all disappear in a night, and we should have to begin anew to fight our way up, probably from serfdom, in order to win for our children the privileges and equal political freedom we now enjoy. From this point of view it will be seen that, the working people of Australia have a great deal to fight for, and a great deal to lose. I am satisfied that as a whole, they fully recognize the fact, and that if the time ever comes when they shall be called upon to defend the rights they now enjoy, they will acquit themselves manfully and as becomes men of their race.# I think 1 have said enough to show that” from every point of view a land tax is not only eminently just and equitable, but is also essential for the attainment of several great national objects. The greatest national necessity of Australia is to have the country more fully peopled than it is at the present time. But if the causes which have been in operation in Victoria, and which have rendered it impossible for those added by the natural increase of population to make a living here, are to be continued and repeated in other parts of the country, what is true of “Victoria now will eventually be true of the whole Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth as a whole will be losing population every year as Victoria is losing population to-day. When we hear so much of the necessity for bringing more people into Australia, why cannot we turn our attention to keeping in Australia the people who are already here? I am a protectionist, and believe in Australia producing all the goods required by her people with Australian hands. I am also a great believer in Australia -producing her own population on her own soil, as she might do under proper conditions. We have not had the natural increase of population in Victoria or in any other State of the Commonwealth that we ought to have had, because the conditions have been so bad that our young men had been afraid to marry. They have been afraid to give our young women that great opportunity to fulfil the destiny which should be the proper ambition of every good woman, and that is to be the good wife of a good husband, and the mother of good Australian children. If opportunities were given to our people to settle upon the land under good conditions that would insure to them a comfortable livelihood and relieve them from being eternally faced with the fear of want, our young people would get married at an early age and would settle down in happy, comfortable homes all over the country. By this means we should have a natural increase of population in Australia, and the best class of population in the sons “and daughters of Australian parents who are thoroughly acclimatized, and who, in the future, would prove to be our best citizens. If a land tax is not only just, but essential to our national progress, then, instead of saddling the States Parliaments with the burden of imposing it, we, as the National Parliament, should levy it. I contend that the imposition of such a. tax is a national necessity both from the stand-point of the peopling of the Commonwealth, and of its defence. The reason we are continually told that land taxation should be left to the several States is that those who fight foi the vested interests of land monopolists know perfectly well that the States Governments will not undertake the task, and that even if they did, they could not accomplish it, owing to the opposition which they would encounter at the hands either of nominee Upper Houses, or of Upper Houses which are elected upon a property qualification. The whole mission of these Houses is to protect property.
– They are. a bar to all progress.
– Exactly. They are an impregnable fortress so far as the adoption of any scheme which would oust the land monopolist is concerned. Not only are they a bar to settlement, not only do they prevent national progress by limiting, production, and depriving people of the opportunity of engaging in agricultural pursuits, but, in addition, they exact an enormous tribute from the populace every year. Consequently, I hold that it is the duty of this Parliament, both from the point of view of settlement and of defence, to tackle this question instead of leaving it to the States Parliaments, which are practically helpless ‘by reason of the Upper Houses to which I ha,ve referred. Both branches of the Commonwealth Legislature are elected upon the freest, the most complete and the most independent franchise in the world, and therefore we ought not to shirk this reform, but ought rather to tackle it at the earliest possible date. There are several other matters outlined in His Excellency’s speech, to which I desire to make a brief reference.
– It would be disloyal to ignore them.
– At any rate, I have given to the Vice-regal utterance careful and respectful attention, which is more than Senator Pulsford and his colleagues have done. I notice that the Government propose to take a, referendum upon the question of amending the Constitution with a view to enforcing a system of new protection. I am satisfied that our friends upon the opposite side of the Chamber, the remnants of the Free-Trade Party and of the Black Labour Party, have coalesced chiefly because of their desire to avoid fulfilling their bargain with the workers in reference to the new protection. The manufacturers of Australia asked this Parliament to give them that measure of protection which was necessary to foster existing native industries, and to create new ones. Most honorable senators believed in a protective policy, and accordingly supported a protective Tariff. As a result, Parliament gave our manufacturers almost the full measure of protection for which they asked. I voted consistently for the highest duty that I could get for every Australian industry. The manufacturers assured us that they desired protection because they were heavily handicapped by being called upon to compete with the low paid labour of foreign countries. They said : “ Give us the protection for which we ask, and we will undertake that the workers shall obtain a fair share of it.” They expressed themselves as being perfectly satisfied with the proposals of the late Government. But now that they have secured the protection which they sought, they meanly refuse to accord the workers that share of it which they promised to them. That is one of the reasons why men like Mr. Octavius Beale and Mr. Joshua are such ardent advocates of fusion between their old enemies, the freetraders and the fragments of the Protectionist Party. They have now succeeded in getting the latter party swallowed by the former. There can be only one possible explanation for their action, namely, that having obtained the measure of protection which they desired, they now wish to make their positions secure by insisting that theTariff shall not be challenged. I say that Parliament has been basely betrayed by the manufacturers, and by their mouthpiece in another place, Mr. Deakin.
– The people of Australia have been deceived.
– The people of Australia have also been deceived. In my. opinion, the workers have been .basely betrayed by Mr. Deakin and by our manufacturers. It appears to me that there is nothing but hypocrisy amongst these people all the time. At the present moment, doive not see a prominent member of the late Deakin Government - I refer to Mr. Mauger - who is also a prominent member of the Anti-Sweating League - sitting cheek by jowl with the most ardent sweaters in Australia - with men who were not ashamed to ask that the working men of this continent should be compelled by Government agreement to labour in the sugar industry in Queensland for 3s. od. per day ? Only about twelve months ago, it transpired that the Queensland planters objected to pay the standard wage prescribed under the Sugar Bounty Act by the late Deakin Government. Mr. Austin Chapman, who was thenMinister of Trade and Customs, wascharged with the administration of that Act. Twenty-two shillings and sixpence per week was the standard wage which it was necessary for the planters to pay in order to earn the sugar bounty. That was the standard wage prescribed during the “ off “ season. But instead of paying 22s. 6d. per week, the planters were continually “‘docking” broken time from the men engaged in the industry. In other words, they were paying them by the day at the weekly rate. Thus, if a man lost a quarter of a day through no fault of his own.. it was “ docked “ from his wagesThe wage of 22s. 6d. per week, as honorable senators will see, amounts to exactly 3s. gd. a day. When a noise was made about the planters having to pay men for lost time - in wet weather, or anything of that kind - the planters said that it was not fair that they should ‘be compelled to pay men for time when they were not at work. Some of us who represented the cause of the men to the Minister agreed that that might be a pretty reasonable request, and asked, him! to provide an alternative. That is to say, if the planters did not want to pay a weekly wage, we asked that the Minister should lay down a standard’ for a daily wage. The Minister was impressed with the reasonableness of the argument, and fixed a standardwage of 5s. per day. In other words, if the planters wanted to pay their men by the day, instead of at the old standard of 22s. 6d. a week, they had the alternative. But certain men who sit in this Parliament, together with the representative of the big planters of Queensland, a Mr. Pritchard, secretary of the Australian ‘Sugar Producers Association, attended at a deputation to Mr. Chapman, the then Minister of Customs. I have before me the official report of the proceedings at the deputation, recorded by an officer of the Department. It is an absolutely unbiased report. I find that the deputation, which claimed that 3s. gd. per day was too much to pay to men working in the cane-fields, was accompanied by Senators Chataway, St. Ledger, and Sayers, and by Messrs. Archer, Foxton, and Sinclair, members of the House of Representatives. The Minister received the deputation on Wednesday, 20th May, 1908. We therefore find a prominent member of the Anti-Sweating League like Mr. Mauger, so much enamoured of the new party to which he belongs that he *sit’s cheek by jowl, and is hailfellowwellmet with men who held that 3s. 9d. per day was too much to pay for men working on the sugar plantations. We find Mr. Mauger voting against the Labour Government, which is absolutely opposed to sweating in all its forms. This is the kind of hypocrisy we meet with from a man like Mr. Mauger, who will get up before a public audience and blow - “I did this and that to prevent sweating.” At the deputation I find that Senator Chataway, in a memorandum which he read, stated -
We protest against Order No. 1041 of 4th May, 1908, on the grounds that it was not intended bv the Sugar Bounty Act of 1905 that the Minister should vary at will the rates of pay and the conditions of labour in the sugar districts, and say there is no legal authority for him to do so.
The order alluded to is that allowing the alternative of 5s. a day where a planter desired to employ his men by the day as against 22s. 6d. per week when they were employed by the week. Senator Chataway’s memorandum went on -
We contend that by creating two rates of pay the daily rate being for shorter hours and at a’ higher rate than the weekly, all labour will in future claim the highest rate, and consequently, the new order will practically raise the rates of wages from 22s. 6d. and found to 30s a week and found, or 54 per cent., if the reduced hours of working are taken into consideration.
He also urged -
The new rate of wages, namely, 30s. a week and found is more than the sugar industry can afford to pay for casual unskilled field labour, and is nearly double what is paid for similar labour in other agricultural industries in this country.
That is to say, he reckoned that agricultural labour is generally paid at the rate of 15s. a week. He objected to a highly protected industry like the sugar industry having to pay more than any other industry had to pay. The Minister was informed that the following resolution had been passed by the Pioneer River Farmers and Growers Association at Mackay, representing 700 farmers -
That the Council of the Pioneer River Farmers and Growers Association are of opinion that the recent decision of the Minister regarding the rate of pay for the casual hands in the off season imposes a rate of pay that the present position of the growers renders prohibitive ; that payment of the minimum rate of 22s. 6d per week for ordinary farm work, with the right of deducting payment for time lost through inclement weather, or other causes over which the employer has no control, is as much as circumstances allow ; also, that the eight-hour day imposed by the Minister for day work is impracticable on the farm; that the council is also of opinion that an adherence to these conditions will lead to a decrease in production with the accompaniment of a reduction in the number of men employed ; andt lastly, that the council respectfully asks the Minister before he puts in force the recent regulation to make a full inquiry.
SenatorChataway, in concluding bis remarks to the Minister, said -
As to the second paragraph of the memorandum regarding the creation of two rates of pay, this would lead to a good deal of friction, for it was hardly to be supposed for one moment that you are going to have two men working side by side in the same field, one for eight hours per day and 30s. per week, and the other for ten hours per day and 22s. 6d. per week; one man would be working two hours per day more,and for so doing would get 7s. 6d. jrr week less thar the other man. How inequitably this would work as between the one man and the other. What they desired was to try and get continuous service by the men, and a man working for ten hours per day Should not be put under a disability which did not exist in the case of a man working eight hours. As regards the wage itself; he would point out that, having raised it from 3s. gd. to 5s. the Minister had at one jump increased it by 33 per cent. In addition to that, the hours were to be shorter, and, taking this into consideration, it meant an increase of 54 per cent. It worked out in this way : under the old order the rate was 3s.9d. per day, added to which was the keep is. 8d. (on the basis of 10s. per week), or 5s. 5d. per day, which was 6¼½d. per hour. The new order laid down 5s. per diem, and, adding the cost of keep, 1s. 8d, this meant. 6s. 8d. per day, or10d. per hour, or 3½d. per hour increase, and 3½d. was 54 per cent, increase on 6½d. And, working it out at iod. per hour, this was equal to the wage paid to a skilled labourer. Thus, a casual hand was put on the same footing as regards wages as a skilled labourer. He was emphasizing these few points in support of what he had said that if the new order were put in force it would lead to a considerable amount of difficulty. Of course, it was not in human nature that in the case of two men working side by side the one working the longer hours should have the worst of the deal, but this was, in effect, how the order would work out. There was another point he would like to mention. In making an eight-hour day for this particular work, the Minister was creating quite a new position in the agricultural industry. So far as his knowledge went, no agricultural industry was limited to eight hours per day in this country, and he ventured to say that in no country where agriculture was carried on did such a condition obtain.
Leaving Senator Chataway, who spoke generally in favour of the old rate of 3s. ad. a day, even when time lost was cut off the wages paid, I will come to another of these gentlemen, Mr. Archer. His remarks were frankness itself. He said -
After the full statement made by Mr. Pritchard, I will confine myself to laying stress on one or two points. In the first place, I understand that the Sugar Bounty Act states that in order to qualify, for the bounty the grower shall pay wages not less than the ruling rate of wages in the district in which the bounty is paid. I would like to point out that the sugar growers have no idea of asking to pay less wages than the ruling rate for any agricultural work. As a matter of fact, when the first order was issued - it set out 25s. for harvesting and 22s. 6d. for the “ off “ season - I pointed out that it was anomalous, for in the sugar season the growers were prepared to make the rate 30s-, but for the “ off “ season they claimed that 22s. 6d. was extreme, which it was. The work these men do in the field is chipping, weeding, &c, not threshing or anything of that sort. And for general farm work the ruling rate of wages in Queensland is a good deal less than 5s. a day and keep. I should say £1 per week would strike a’ fair ‘ average. The growers are prepared to pay the 22s. 6d. and keep. They are not grumbling at that.
Then why was Mr. Archer grumbling at it ? This official report is available to any honorable senator who cares to look over it. Mr. Pritchard, the official representative of the planters, went into a long statement covering several pages of close typescript, in which he maintained that 22s. 6d. a week was a handsome rate of remuneration. That being the case, I think it is evident that the gentlemen I have named -
Senators Chataway, Savers, and St. Ledger, and. Messrs. Foxton, Archer, and Sinclair - are consistent and strong advocates of a sweating wage of 3s. ad. per day. Mr. Archer said that 3s. od. per day, or 22s. 6d. per week in an off season, was an extreme rate. That proves, I think, that these gentlemen are advocates of sweating in its worst form. A few short years ago we were told that work in the cane-fields was of such a killing and cruel nature that white men should not be asked to do it, even if able. Yet we are now told that 22s. 6d. per week, or 3s. od. per day, is an extreme rate to pay in an off season. That is sweating in its vilest form. They objected to the men working eight hours a day. They said then ten or twelve, or however long a farmer desired to work his men, must be legitimate, and that all the men should get was 3s. od. a day. How can Mr. Mauger, a leading light in the AntiSweating League, justify himself on a platform in Melbourne to-morrow, or justify himself to the workers in his constituency, for sitting cheek by jowl with political advocates of sweating? His profession is so much mere flam, so much arrant hypocrisy, and should not be regarded by the workers of Australia. At this late hour I do not propose to occupy the attention of the Senate any longer. I am obliged for the attentive hearing which I have received, and for the interest which honorable senatorsopposite have appeared to take in my remarks. I hope that on a future occasion, when, perhaps, positions are reversed, we shall be able to give them an equally interesting time.
– I do not know whether I ought to apologize for getting up at this late hour to speak to the motion, but it appears to me that in the peculiar circumstances of the occasion it would be hardly proper if I were to allow the debate to close without saying a few words. I certainly was somewhat astonished at the treatment accorded to the Governor-General’s speech’ by the leader of . the Opposition. He seemed to have some information which led him to treat in a very contemptuous fashion the policy submitted to the Parliament by the Government. That was a matter wholly for himself ; but I thirit that in his position, it would have been at least common courtesy if he had dealt witih some of the questions treated in the speech. The programme outlined by the Government seems to me to be a fairly good one.
It is not quite so advanced as probably I should have liked, but the policy of the Labour Party, as of other parties, seems to be slow, but sure. It is a. marked improvement, however, from a developmental point of view, from a defence point of view, and from a general Australian point of view, on any policy which has been submitted to this Parliament. There is one fact in connexion with the affairs of. the Commonwealth during the last twelve months which I hail with a certain amount of satisfaction., and it is contained in paragraph 4 of the speech -
The revenue received from duties of Customs and Excise has been less during the year than was anticipated when the Budget was delivered on 14th October last.
That fact points in this direction, that the protectionist Tariff recently passed is having a beneficial result. Instead of importing large quantities of commodities from oversea, and getting revenue from them, we are producing those commodities, or a very considerable proportion of them on Australian soil by Australian hands, and in that way the revenue is being depleted. As I have on various occasions stated here, the only use I have for a Tariff is to create industries. I think that our system of taxation through Customs and Excise is a survival from an age which is long past. Almost every other social institution has advanced. We have progressed in all the arts and sciences, in mechanics and engineering, in chemistry, and in almost every thing that can be mentioned, but bur system of taxation is as old as the everlasting hill, and as unjust as it is possible for anything to be. Senator Givens emphasized the fact that it presses with exceeding severity on the poorest section of our population. Indeed, its authors - the men who originated it some centuries ago - had that very purpose in view. They belonged to the upper orders, and, having full power in their hands, they of set purpose cast the weight of taxation from their shoulders and passed it on to the poorer section of the population. We- are so wrapped up in our reverence for the past - that is a section of our people - that we continue this iniquitous, unfair, burdensome system of taxation-
– Hear, Hear !
– My honorable friend says “hear, hear,” but if any proposal were made here to pass a free-trade Tariff - that is one which would sweep away the Customs House - I am sure that it would have no more active opponent than himself.
– The honorable senator isabsolutely mistaken. I woujd like to see direct taxation.
– The honorable senator imagines that he is a protectionist. He is not anything of the kind. He is only a revenue tariffist, as his votes on the two Tariffs here abundantly testify ?
– Where is he now ?
– I wish the honorable senator would ask me something easy. I really do not know whether the High Tariff Party in the Chamber will swallow the Protectionist Party, or vice versa. Something has happened; I really do not know what it is, but if the colour of the policy of the new Government is to be affected by the opinions of a majority of their supporters, then protection, as we know it, is doomed, because a large majority of the members, both in the other House and in the Senate, who will support the new variety troupe, hold opinions of a distinctly revenue tariff brand.
– Is protection doomed ?
– If the policy of the country is to be dictated by the opinions of the majority sitting behind the Government in both Houses, then we cannot expect the protective policy which is embedded in the Tariff to be continued if these men are true to their pledges to the electors. Take, for instance, Senator Walker. He won his position in the Chamber on two occasions as a free-trader, as a distinct opponent of protection. Not only he, but every other senator for New South Wales did. The same thing is true of the representatives of that State in the other House. If they now become protectionists they will distinctly violate their pledges to their constituents. They will outrage the first principle of representation, which is that the representative shall vote in Parliament as his constituents’direct him. These gentlemen’s constituents directed them to vote a revenue tariff. They also objected to the idea of new protection. If the representatives cast all that behind them, and now support protection as outlined by the high priest of the new party, then they will commit the unpardonable political sin of being faithless to the men who elected them, and recreant to the trust committed to them. No more serious charge than that can be made against any number of public men. The men who can stoop to such conduct are, it appears to me, capable of going very much lower. In any case they are responsible to their constituents, and no doubt they will have to answer for their conduct when the proper time comes.
– Our heads will be chopped off, of course.
– Whether the long arm of the political beheadsman reaches these honorable gentlemen or not, they certainly deserve that it should. I was stating mv pleasure at the fact that the revenue from duties of Customs and Excise had been falling. I hope that it will continue to fall, until it amounts tb no more per head of the population ‘than is now collected from the same source in the United States of America, namely, about £i 5s. If that were the amount collected in Australia, instead of receiving, as we Jo, a revenue of between £10,000,000 and £12,000,000 per annum, we should be receiving only a little more than £4,000,000 from this source. Getting so small a revenue from this source, we should be compelled to explore fresh avenues of taxation, and should have to go in for direct taxation to an extent hitherto unknown in the Commonwealth. We are told that the estimated revenue from the Post and Telegraph ^Department is not likely to be fully realized. I regret that, because it is an evidence, I think, that trade is not so active as it was during the last financial year. I -aust say, however, that the Post and Telegraph Department has not been managed since the inauguration of Federation nearly as effectively as it ought to have been. I can point to a number of instances in the State of Queensland which go to show that in many respects the service of this Department was more effective under the State Government than it is now.
– Does the honorable” senator not recognise that vast distances between centres must involve additional expense in affording facilities of communication?
– I quite admit that ; but while that is the case, it ought, in mv opinion, to be the ambition of the Government to carry the post-office to the door of every settler in the Commonwealth. No matter what the cost may be, the mail should reach the home of every settler throughout the Commonwealth with aslittle delay as possible. I find that in alarge number of cases, in Queensland more especially, many small local mail services have been abolished altogether. The reason always given bv the Department isthat the cost was too great. In manycases, also, new systems asked for have been refused for the same reason. I am reminded by Senator W. Russell that thesame state of affairs exists in South Australia. It should be remembered that all this time the various Federal Governmentshave been returning huge sums of money annually to the States. Not only has thepost and telegraph service fallen into a condition of wreckage, but our telephone service is in a most shameful condition.
– Federal Governments have been starving the Department.
– They have been starving the Department to feed the States. That puts the position as shortly andclearly as I can put it. Now the people of the States are grumbling at the Federal Government because it has not done itsduty in this direction, and I think that they grumble for very good reason. If themanagement of a Department’ De placed in* the hands of a Parliament or Government it is the duty of that Parliament or Government to see that the work intrusted toit is carried out as efficiently as possible. I must say that I had not very much hopeof improvement iri this respect for the present Government. It has not shown that activity in this direction that I should haveliked to see.
– The present Government have not had time.
– A great deal’ might have been done in a few months, and I did not notice a desire to do the right thing. I do not expect that the succeeding Government will do any better, and’ the probability is that the conditions under them will be worse. I am very glad that there is some prospect that old-age pensions will be paid without much difficulty during the year.
– There is every prospect.
– I hope that the honorable senator is correct ; but I am not very sure about it even now.
– The honorablesenator does not know what the new Government is going to do.
– I have not the slightest idea of the intentions of the new Government in connexion with this matter. I believe, however, that the pensions will be paid. Measures may be taken to raise the necessary funds which will not meet with my approbation; but whatever happens I am sure that the Government of Australia, however it may be composed, will never repudiate an obligation of this character. I might say, in passing, with regard to pensions to the Justices of the High Court, that I do not agree with Senator Walker. I think the Justices of the High Court are extremely well paid. The Chief Justice, I believe, gets £3,500, and :the other Justices £2,000 each a year. If a man cannot lay by something for his old age out of so very handsome a salary, he deserves whatever condition of poverty may await him. Not only do they get these salaries, but their travelling and living expenses, when on circuit, are paid. So far as 1 am concerned, any proposal to pay these men pensions will not receive my support. I agree with paragraph 6 of the speech, in which the statement is made - ‘
The large financial obligations which must necessarily be incurred in the near future demand most careful attention.
That must be evident to everybody. It is, at any rate, abundantly clear to me that in the future a much smaller sum than has hitherto been handed over to the States must be paid to them, or otherwise the Commonwealth Parliament must go in largely for additional taxation.
– An income tax.
– I do not wish to engage in any disquisition on taxation at the present moment, but I would say in passing that, until land values taxation has been exhausted as a means of raising revenue, I shall consider the adoption of any other system of taxation not only immoral, but unjust. An income tax, as Senator Walker knows, is a-tax upon industry, upon the activities of our people, upon money in circulation ; whereas a land values tax, such as that proposed by the Labour Party, is a tax not on the activities of life, but on something which is preventing those activities being exercised. An income tax penalizes the man who works, the man who puts his capital into circulation, the man -who earns money ; but a land values tax does not penalize anybody, while it compels the raw material of the country, the land, to be put to its proper use. That being the case, it ought to appeal to Senator Walker8 and to every other sensible man, as one of the very best systems of taxation which it is possible to devise. Paragraph 7 of the speech says -
You will be invited to consider the financial relations of the Commonwealth and of the States, with a view to equitably adjusting them.
I regret to say that hitherto the States Governments have shown no disposition whatever to meet the Federation in anything like a fair manner. For some time they insisted upon the continuation of the Braddon “ blot” in perpetuity. They said that nothing less would satisfy them. That is to say, that for all time they were to get three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue. They have now somewhat modified their proposal, and are prepared to accept three-fifths instead of three-fourths, giving the Common-‘ wealth two-fifths, instead of one-fourth, of that revenue. I make bold to say that twofifths of the revenue from Customs and Excise will not be nearly, sufficient for the requirements of the Commonwealth. While it might have been desirable in the earlier years of Federation to hand back to the States a certain proportion of the Customs and Excise revenue, and while it might be desirable to continue that system for a further period of years until the States Governments can adjust themselves to the new condition, a proposal to carry on a system of that kind in perpetuity appears to me to be so stupid and unbusiness-like as not to be worthy of a moment’s consideration. I think that the authority which raises revenue should be responsible for the spending of it. That is an axiom of government which every one who knows anything of the subject will accept. But if the Braddon “ blot” is continued, even in a modified form, we shall be in this position, that not only will the Federal authority have to raise money for its own purposes, but it will have to be a provider for the States as well. That is a position which no Commonwealth Government should be called upon to assume. It is bad for the Federation, and it is worse for the States. The only reason why the States Premiers have been so active in advocating it is. that they desire to continue in perpetuity the present wicked and burdensome system of raising revenue by means of Customs and Excise duties. I do not intend to discuss the question of defence. Other speakers have handled that subject very much more ably than I could possibly do. However, I do. desire to say something in reference to paragraph 15 of His Excellency’s speech, which reads -
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.
When I stated that Australia requires a vast increase of population, Senator Walker interjected ‘ ‘ Hear, hear. ‘ ‘ I therefore refer to him as the representative of the party to which he belongs, most of the members of which are absent from the Chamber. I suppose that they are engaged upon more important matters elsewhere. Probably they are deliberating in a wicked caucusmeeting. However, I am very glad to see Senator Walker present, because he is a host in himself, and I am pleased also to note the presence of Senators St. Ledger and Neild.
– I wish to point out that the honorable member is really calling attention to the State of the Senate.
– There is a quorum present.
– I was merely following the example set by Senator Neild, who, upon one occasion, indicated by name those honorable senators who were present in the Chamber. I repeat that the Fisher Government states that the effective defence of Australia requires a vast increase of population. That is an assertion with which we all agree. We all admit that it would be impossible for a little more than 4,000,000 people to hold a country like Australia if any serious attempt were made to capture it. Therefore, if we desire to effectively defend it, we must have a large increase of population. The efforts of the Labour Party have consistently been directed towards that end. Did not its members vote for high Tariff duties so that industries might be created in which large numbers of men and women would be employed ? But what did the party with which Senator Walker is associated do? Did it vote for the creation of industries? Did it endeavour to encourage an increase of population? Only the other evening I heard the leader of the new political party in this Parliament boast about the protective policy which had been adopted. But he did not tell his audience that his new allies had done everything that they could to defeat that policy, that they had placed every obstacle that they could in its way, that they had derided it in every possible form, and that but for the despised Labour Party, whose methods he attacked with a virulence which I have never heard equalled, that policy could never have, been placed upon the statute-book. Some persons have very short memories, but I think that the public as a whole has a very long memory. I believe that the arm of popular indignation will fall upon the heads of some of these gentlemen before very long. The Labour Party maintains that we must have a much larger population if we are to successfully defend Australia, and its policy has always been directed towards the accomplishment of that end. We have endeavoured to encourage an increase of population even in connexion with our Public Service. Did we not fix a minimum wage which is payable to our officers upon their attaining the 4 age of twenty-one years? Personally, I think that we might go very much further, and give increases to our civil servants at a much more rapid rate, so that a man onattaining the age of thirty years or thereabouts might be in receipt of the maximum salary payable in his division and thus- be in a position to get married. That is a suggestion which I throw out for the consideration of those honorable senators who are anxious to see the population of Australia increase. I have already intimated that another method by which this result can be brought about is by affording protection to native industries. A third method is outlined in His Excellency’s speech in theparagraph which relates to the progressive taxation of unimproved land values. At public meetings nowadays it is veryfashionable for the speaker to have a map of Australia hung upon the wall of thebuilding, and to frequently call attentionto its huge empty spaces and assure his hearers that it is imperative that thosespaces should be filled with men, women, and children. I listened to an accomplished’ speaker the other evening, and when somebody asked him where he intended to put the crowd of immigrants which he proposed to introduce he seized his wand and pointed’ to the Northern Territory. When somebody questioned him about empty Victoria he replied that this State could hold thewhole of the present population of Australia very comfortably. I quite agree with him. If my honorable friends who usually sit uponthis side of the chamber were present I would ask them “Why is it that people at this very moment aire emigrating from Victoria ?””
My honorable friend says that there are better places. Victoria is one of the richest States in Australia. It has a large area of fertile soil. It has a magnificent climate. That climate does not suit me, but it suits other people remarkably well. Unfortunately I have become a kind of exotic. Down here I feel as if I were in a refrigerator. But nevertheless, this is a country where men, women and children, beasts, and crops of every description, flourish. Why is it that people are leaving Victoria, where the soil is good, the rainfall excellent, and conditions of every kind are favorable? Why are they going t» Queensland ? Does any one imagine that people would leave Victoria in dozens if the conditions here were what they ought to be ? The reason is that there is a condition of land monopoly in Victoria without a parallel in the civilized world. Senator Givens has told us how Victoria, has. been losing population during the last twenty years. Any honorable senator who takes up the book published by the Commonwealth Statistician will find that in about eighteen years Victoria lost no fewer than 165,000 of “the flower of her population. They were driven out by land monopoly. This State has become more than any other State of the Union a land” of old men and children.
– That is Sir John Madden’s statement. It has all been proved to be untrue.
– It is not Madden’s ; it is Knibbs’, the Commonwealth Statistician. Yet though these facts are well known, the bold politician who has formed a new party has not sufficient courage to attack these conditions even in his own native State. He says that we want more people here. But instead of introducing them into the fertile areas of Victoria, where civilized conditions exist, he proposes to banish them to the Northern Territory. Does Mr. Deakin expect that immigrants from Europe will be prepared to be exiled to a portion of Australia that is very little known, although a great deal has been said about it? I maintain that we ought to settle the portion of Australia which is now in process of settlement before we attempt to do anything in another direction. The land monopolist is a greater public enemy to this country than any other individual who can be mentioned. He is a greater danger to Australia than China, than Japan, than Germany. The men who are bolstering up the present system, the financial institutions and those under their thumb, are traitors to the country in which they live. My honorable friend Senator Walker laughs, but he will not laugh very long. He will weep when the institution of which he is one of the pillars is called upon to pay a sweeping sum every year in land values taxation. Because this system of land values taxation is coming, as sure as to-morrow is coming. The people of Australia are rapidly realizing that land monopoly is rampant in every State, and they are not going to stand it much longer. Land hunger is notorious. Where there is land famine there is want of every kind. I repeat that the men who encourage this monopoly and bolster it up. are the worst enemies Australia possesses. This question is becoming so serious that the gloves must be taken off, and those who resist the cutting up of the big estates must be fought and beaten by public opinion. And they will be. We must bring the mailed fist of popular indignation to bear upon these enemies of the country. What does the new party propose? They, do not propose to’ do a single thing to break up this land monopoly.
– King Charles’ head !
– Has the honorable senator forgotten that King Charles’ head did come off ? And this, policy of ours will come off. The new party intend to raise all the money required for Commonwealth purposes from Customs and Excise. They mean to drag every penny they can out of the pockets of the poorest people. Personally, I have never believed in Customs taxation as a means of raising revenue. It means that those with the biggest families and the smallest wages pay the most, and all to save the skin of the land monopolist. It is merely a move of the financial institutions to resist the land values taxation proposals of the Labour Party. Every financial institution in Australia’ is concerned in this conspiracy against the welfare of Australia. They have all advanced large sums upon land, which is now, as everybody knows, at boom value. There is a land boom in Australia at the present moment, and the banks are handing out thousands and tens of thousands of pounds upon present values. They know that if a land values tax is imposed, the bubble will burst, and that probably there will be another crisis such as there was some years ago. But, so far as I and the party with which I am connected are concerned, we do not care two straws for the financial institutions. If they care to over advance money, that is their look out. We are going to burst up this land monopoly at any cost. We will rouse public opinion to such an extent that it will be burst up, notwithstanding the opposition of the financial institutions, of the press, of members of Parliament, and of every individual interested. The national welfare, in fact, our very existence, demands that this’ evil of land monopoly must be swept right out of the country. How can we possibly get a larger population here if our lands are monopolized in huge areas, or if the people who settle upon our lands are enslaved and made serfs of? What encouragement will there be for people to come here from Europe, where they are rack-rented, to be rackrented in Australia? The only means by which we can encourage people to come to this young country is by offering them land at as low a price as possible. That ought to be evident to everybody, even to the strongest opponent of the land values tax. One honorable senator stated to-night that a land values tax is immoral. I have often heard that it is confiscation, theft, robbery. Senator Walker said to-night that the people have bought the land and paid for it, and that, therefore, the Government have no claim to tax it. But has not the Government increased the value of that land since it was bought by private individuals ? Has it not increased it by building railways, making roads and bridges, establishing post and telegraph services, building schools, and in a number of other ways ?
– Do not the railways pay now ?
– They do not, in Queensland, at any rate. It does not matter whether they pay or not. The essential factor is that when a railway is built through a district the value of land in that district is doubled, and’ in many cases trebled or quadrupled. Why ? Because of the building of the railway. And whobuilds the railway except the people? By every canon of justice, therefore, the increased value ought to belong to the community which has created it. Is there any confiscation there?
– How are you going to prove what proportion comes from the works, and what from the man’s own enterprise ?
– I am not dealing with details. I am simply endeavouring to state a general principle. The arriving at the proper proportion would be a matter for future consideration. If the honorable senator admits that the principle is correct,
I have no doubt that he will give us the benefit of his long experience in suggesting the method by which the additional value created might be estimated. In every one of the Australian States huge sums of money have been borrowed on the public credit and spent in building railways, which have increased .the value of private- property. It has been estimated that in Australia every year a sum of between £12,000,000 and £15,000,000, which ought to go into the public treasuries of the different States, now passes into the pockets of private individuals. There is a leakage °f £15,000,000 per* annum, more than is collected through our Customs and Excise. That is the sum which the private landowners of Australia are confiscating from the community every year. That is the sum they are robbing the community of. That is the sum they are plundering the people of, and some proportion of it is what the Labour Party in, its land value taxation proposals is after. The immorality is all on the side of the people who take that money, no doubt under the law and with the consent of the law, but still, in a manner which ought not to be permitted by any community which has its head squarely fixed upon its shoulders. No private individual or financial institution could play ducks and drakes with its resources in that fashion without ultimately landing itself in the bankruptcy court. What is true of an individual or institution is true of a community, .with this difference - that the final catastrophe may be rather longer in coming in one case than in the other. At this late hour of the evening I do not intend to say much more upon the subject. It is a most fertile and important theme, and I only regret that I cannot enter into it more fully now, but probably an early opportunity of dealing with it in all its ramifications will present itself to us at an early date. Senator Walker appeared very anxious to know what I thought about the Northern Territory. I think the Federation should take over the Territory with all its obligations, but it should not enter into any covenant with South Australia as to the future development of the Territory. If the Federal authorities relieve South Australia of her present obligations, the people of Australia, through their Parliament, should say how the Territory is to be developed. ‘ It is exceedingly improper” of the people of South Australia to make it a condition that the future development of the Territory shall be accomplished on the lines laid down by South Australia. I shall never agree to a proposition of that character. If South Australia insists upon that condition being carried out, there is a remedy in the hands of the Federal authorities. If South Australia will not be reasonable, the Commonwealth can apply to the Imperial Government to resume ‘the Territory from South Australia with the object of handing it over with all its obligations to the Commonwealth. I think chat it ought to be taken over, but I am not a believer in the -possibility of planting a large number of people there, within any reasonable time.
– The sooner we commence the better.
– The sooner we commence ‘no doubt the better, but T could not support the idea of populating^ that portion of Australia with immigrants from Europe. I am certain that if an attempt of that kind were made it would end in disastrous failure. Immigrants from Europe ought to be brought -to the great settled and more temperate portions of Australia, to a climate and a condition something similar to that which they have been accustomed to, instead of being condemned to a practical exile.
– What sort of a population would the honorable senator have there?
– If the honorable senator had had his way I suppose that the Northern Territory would have been populated with niggers, but we have raised the White Australia flag.
– I notice that the honorable senator evades the question.
– No, I am simply pointing out that if the honorable senator had had his way the Territory would have been populated with Chinese, Coolies, Kanakas, Cingalese, and a number of other unlovely people from Asia. Fortunately, public opinion is opposed to a policy of that kind. My idea, of settling the Territory is to people it by the overflow from other portions of Australia, to offer inducements to go there to men and women who have been born in Australia and know something of its conditions. I think that it would be only courting failure to import large numbers of Englishmen or Scotchmen - although they can thrive almost anywhere - or Irishmen, or Germans, or Ita lians, or Greeks. I think that it would be practically condemning a very large proportion of them to early death. I consider that the scheme propounded by the leader of the new party of bringing out large numbers of immigrants, and settling them in the Territory, is one of the wildest .and most impracticable I have ever listened to. We have heard a great deal about the old protection and the new protection. The proposal of the Labour Party is to get an amendment of the Constitution which will enable Parliament to protect the interests of the consumer, and insure a fair and reasonable wage to every worker. In other words, our policy is to extend the power which Parliament now possesses of protecting the capitalist, to the worker and the consumer. It is not only a humane, but a fair and business-like proposition. At present, the Commonwealth has power by means of its Tariff to create industries. In other words, it has the power to protect the capital which is employed in industries, but it has no power to enforce good conditions to the employes. If the .Commonwealth has the one power- the power to assist and to protect capital - it ought also to have the power to protect labour, and, so far as it is possible to do so, to protect the consumer. I observe that the proposal of the new party is on somewhat different lines. It is a proposal to establish an Inter-State Commission which will be a kind of appellate Court for the various State Wages Boards. That is a system which probably is better than nothing, but which, to my way of thinking, falls very far short of what, is due to the Commonwealth. It is one which I believe will not be indorsed by the people who are thoroughly determined that just as capital is protected, so labour must also be protected. With regard to the Federal Capital Site, I am in no particular hurry to see that question settled. I do not think that the Yass-Canberra district is at all suitable for the purpose. I believe that a great mistake was made when, the choice of Dalgety was departed from, and considering the uncertainty which prevails with regard to the suitability of the site, and the large expense which must necessarily be incurred in establishing a capital, I do not see any particular need for hurry in dealing with the matter. I do think, however, that the appointment of a High Commissioner is urgent. I have heard the remark that we are likely to have a settlement of this question during the present session, and that a particular gentleman will probably be appointed. In any case, I think it is .time that Australia was represented in London by a Commissioner of its own, and that the States were given an opportunity of dispensing with, ‘their Agents-General and their expensive staffs. With regard to the proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, I opposed the proposal for the survey of a route, and if I am here when a proposal is made to build the railway I shall continue my opposition.
– If the report of the surveyors is favorable, will the honorable senator oppose the proposal then?
– I have no confidence; in the report which has been made, or will be made, by the surveyors. I do not think that the railway would pay for fifty years. In any case, if the people of Western Australia want a railway let them build it just as the people of other States have had to do. That is the opinion which I have always held on this question, and unless some very strong reasons are brought forward that opinion I am likely to continue to hold.
– Why do not the people of Queensland pay their sugar bounty ?
– That is a matter which can be settled on its merits.
– Withdraw the bounty.
– If the honorable senator , desires to withdraw the bounty, he may do so, but I shall certainly never be a party to any compact of that character. In effect, the honorable senator says : “ Give us the railway, and we shall give you the bounty.” I “say let each of these questions be decided on its own merits. If the bounty is wrong, honorable senators should vote against it. They will not injure me by doing so. I have nothing to do with the way in which they please to vote on that matter. AH I can say is that, so far as I can see at present, I shall not be able. to_ vote for the proposed railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. I think I have now referred to the most important matters dealt with in the Governor-General’s speech. The only regret I have is that there does not seem to be much likelihood of the Government having an opportunity to place their policy upon the statute-book. But if’ that opportunity is denied them now; I am certain that the common sense of the people of Australia, that, indeed, the necessities of Australia, will make it apparent before very long that either the Labour Party, or some other party, must place measures of the character outlined in this speech upon the statute-book, if Australia is to have a fair chance of progress and prosperity in the near future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to -
That the Address be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by lbc President and such senators as may desire to accompany nun.
Senate adjourned at 11.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 May 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19090527_senate_3_49/>.