4th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The PRESIDENT announced the re ceipt of a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that the House had agreed to resume the consideration of this Bill, transmitted for concur rence during the last session of Parliament, and the proceedings on which were interrupted by the prorogation.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that the House had agreed to resume the consideration of this Bill, transmitted for concurrence during the last session of Parliament, and the proceedings on which were interrupted By the prorogation.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers :-
Census and Statistics Act 1905 -
Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth, No. 5, 1901-1911.
Cost of Living in Australia,1910-11- Inquiry into, by Commonwealth Statistician.
Australian Statistics - Monthly Summaries; 191 2-
No. 1. - January. No. 3. - February.
No. 3. - March. No. 4. - April.
Census - Bulletins, 1911 -
No. 1. - Population of States and Territories.
No. 2. - Persons of non-European Race.
No. 3. - Ages.
No. 4. - Population of Counties, Local Government Areas, &c.
No. 5. - Population of Commonwealth. Electoral Divisions and State Electoral Districts and Provinces.
No. 6. - Birthplaces.
No.7. - Length of Residence in Australia.
No. 8. - Religions.
No. 9. - Education.
No. 10. - Blindness and Deaf Mutism.
No. 11. - Schooling.
No.12.. - Conjugal Condition.
Finance - No. 5 - Summary of Australian Financial Statistics, 1901-1911.
Population and Vital Statistics - No. 28 - Commonwealth Demography 1910, and previous years.
Production - No. 5 -Summary of Commonwealth Production Statistics 1901-1910.
Social Statistics - No. 4 - Statistics as to Education, Hospitals and Charities, and Law and Crime, 1910.
Transport and Communication - No. 5- Summary of Commonwealth Statistics of Transport and Communication, 1901- 1911.
Trade,. Shipping, Migration, and Finance -
No. 59. - November, 1911.
No. 60. - December, 1911.
Regulation (Provisional) in relation to Return of Trade Union Statistics. - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 137.
Defence Act 1903-1911 - Regulations, amendments,&c. (Provisional) -
Universal Training -
Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 125, 134, 135.
Military Forces -
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 132.
Financial and Allowance Regulations -
Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 123, 124, 126, 133, 136.
Federal Capital City : Report of Board appointed to investigate and report to the Minister for Home Affairs in regard to the competitive designs for laying out.
Lands Acquisition Act1906-
Land acquired under, at -
Harm’s Inlet, Westernport, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
Gidginbung, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Land disposed of under, at -
Acton, Federal Territory.
Lighting of the Coast Line of the Commonwealth - Report (June, 1912) on the Lighting of the North-East Coast of Australia (Torres Strait to Cape Moreton). (In substitution ofpaper laid on the table on 20th June last.)
Naval Forces : Memorandum regarding Delays in the Construction of H.M. Australian Vessels building in the United Kingdom.
Northern Territory - Health Ordinance, No. 5 of 1912.
Papua - Ordinance Interpretation Ordinance, No. 7 of1911.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1910. - Regulations, amendments, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1912, Nos. 107, 121. (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1912, No.119.
Public Service Act1902-1911 -
Regulations, amendments, &c. -
Statutory Rules1912, Nos. 92, 139.
Promotions of -
Sugar Bounty Act 1905. - Regulations, amendments, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1912, No. 128.
Telegraphs and Telephones Special Works Account Act 1911 -
Transfer, dated 3rd July,1912.
Wireless Telegraphy Act 1905. - Regulations, amendments, &c. -
Statutory Rules1912, Nos. 120, 122.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether arrangements have been made by the Commonwealth Government for taking over from the Imperial authorities the naval depot at Garden Island; and, if so, whether consideration is to be given to the members of the staff employed by the Imperial authorities, other than naval men?
– It is proposed, under an arrangement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Admiralty, that the establishment at Garden Island shall be taken over. As to the latter part of the honorable senator’s question, I did not quite gather what he meant.
– Perhaps I may explain that a great many men are employed at Garden Island-
– Order !
– May I suggest that, as the honorable senator wishes to explain his question, he might bring it up on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate?
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Negotiations with State.
Adelaide, Monday. - The State Government is trying, in every possible way, to meet the Federal Government in regard to the granting of the necessary South Australian land for the railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. The Commonwealth authorities have delayed the matter many times, but on each occasion when documents came to South Australia for the consideration of the State Government, they have been dealt with, and sent back almost immediately. Last week the decision rested with the Federal Government, but, as there was not a full Cabinet meeting to consider the question, the subject was postponed until this week. The State Government had the matter under consideration to-day, and decided that the Commissioner of Crown Lands (Mr. Young) should go to Melbourne on Tuesday to consult the Federal Cabinet, and arrive at a definite conclusion?
– The Minister of Home Affairs replies -
There was no unnecessary delay on the part of the Commonwealth.
The proposals of the State Government involved reference to the Commonwealth law authorities and very careful consideration. A settlement has now been arrived at.
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister of Home Affairs replies -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the following paragraph, which appeared in the South Australian Register of 25th June last, is a correct statement : -
Melbourne, 24th June. - The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) announced to-day that no more names would be registered for work at the Victoria Naval Base at Westernport. “ The first preference,” Senator Pearce added. “ would be given to unionists, and the second preference to married men “ ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
The Minister’s statement which was based on a minute written at the time, was as follows : - “ As there is apparently a large number of men unemployed, I think, consistent with the policy of preference to unionists, other things being equal, the fact of a man being married and supporting a family should receive consideration in giving employment.”
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
When will the new electorates for the House of Representatives in Queensland be gazetted?
– The Minister of Home Affairs replies -
The Electoral Act (section 21) provides that if both Houses of the Parliament pass a resolution approving of any proposed distribution, the Governor-General may by proclamation declare the names and boundaries of the Divisions, and such Divisions shall, until altered, be the Electoral Divisions for the State in which they are situated.
The proposals of the Queensland Electoral Commissioners were tabled on the 4th July, 1912, and an opportunity will shortly be afforded the Senate to consider the matter.
– A question stands on the notice-paper in my name in regard to appointments made by the Government in the Northern Territory. Acting on a suggestion of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, however. I have given notice of a motion with the object of obtaining the information by way of a return.
Dr. MAXWELL’S REPORT.
asked the Min ister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– I would draw attention to the fact that the Minister’s reply does not answer the question. The second part of the question was -
If so, was it supplied by the Government or by a member of the Royal Commission on Sugar?
The Minister has only answered the inquiry so far as the Minister of Trade and Customs is concerned.
– That is all that was supplied to me.
– Still, I draw my honorable friend’s attention to the fact that he has not given the Senate a full answer.
askedthe Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the delay of the Government of South Australia in agreeing to the demands of the Commonwealth Government with regard to the construction of the Port Augusta-Kalgoorlie Railway, will the Government consider the advisability of constructing a line of railway through the centre of Australia linking up the Queensland and Western Australian railway systems ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is -
As arrangements have been made with the Government of the State of South Australia which it is hoped will prove satisfactory for all practical purposes, it will not be necessary to go into this matter at present.
– The arrangement is the result of the question !
Debate resumed from 20th June(vide page 54), on motion by Senator Gardiner -
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.
– I do not know that I would have claimed my right to speak on this motion if certain statements had not been made by the Leader of the Opposition which I think need to be replied to in this Chamber, because they are of a sweeping character. They have been made in other places; they have been made outside; and I think it isjust about time that some proofs were given of their misleading character. As regards the question which took up the greater part of the honorable senator’s speech, I can only say that, as a member of the Government, I am not ashamed of the appointments made by the Government, or of any one of them.
– That is the serious part of it.
– I do not know that it is very serious. I do not feel any serious responsibility from that point of view, because I think that the people outside recognise that there are as capable men supporting this Government as there are opposing it. I believe that the people outside do not think that the mere fact that a man happens to have sympathies with the Government should be a bar to his appointment to a public position if he is suitable. We do know that, in the past, the possession of Labour beliefs has been a disability, and that thousands of proofs of that fact are to be found in the history, of not only Commonwealth Governments, but also State Governments. Honorable senators opposite have shown by their speeches that, in their opinion, the fact of a man having Labour sympathies should be a bar against his appointment to a public position. Senator Millen, for instance, referred to the gentleman who has been appointed to the position of Government Geologist in the Northern Territory. He had nothing to say about this gentleman’s qualifications, he did not question them at all, but if we turn to Hansard we find that he asked an astounding question. Is this, he asked, the gentleman who is associated with the Paddington Labour League?
– No; I did not say that.
– Well, with some New South Wales Labour league.
– I said with the executive of the Labour League.
– What if he is? The only objection which the honorable senator could find, after cudgelling his brains since the date of the appointment, was that this gentleman might be associated with a Labour league. If he had any other objections, if he challenged this gentleman’s qualifications, do those who know his acuteness and industry doubt that he would have dragged them before the Senate, and given us proofs of his statement ? The only objection he brought forward was that he had a suspicion that this gentleman was associated with a Labour league.
– It was not merely a suspicion.
– The honorable senator did not make a definite statement. He condemned the appointment, and then said that he wanted to know whether this was the gentleman who was associated with a Labour league.
– I say now that he is.
– The honorable senator quoted this as one of the five appointments upon which he challenged the position of the Government, but he had not a syllable to utter against the qualifications of this gentleman. He never expressed any opinion as to his qualifications at all. I claim that this discloses that in the honorable senator’s mind this gentleman’s association with a Labour league was his only disqualification. If that is the attitude of the Opposition, it is just as well that Senator Millen should let the country know it, and he has done so. It has never been regarded as a disqualification by the present Government that a man otherwise qualified for a position should be a supporter of the Opposition.
– The Government made it a disqualification by taking the man to whom I referred in preference to a better qualified man.
– No, we have never regarded support of the Opposition as a disqualification for the appointment of an< otherwise capable man. Another gentleman, whose appointment was challenged is Mr. Neilsen. I claim that it was necessary in. filling the position offered to Mr. Neilsen, to appoint a man in sympathy with the; policy of the Government. The Government are introducing in the Northern Territory what, so far as Australia is concerned, is a new land policy based upon the important principle of leasehold. It is a trite saying that administration is a most important factor of government. No one will doubt that the principle of leasehold could be defeated by unsympathetic administration. It might be made to appear ridiculous and absurd, and might, apparently, be proved a complete failure, if left to the administration of a man who does not believe in the principle. As a member of the Government, therefore, I would have no hesitation whatever in insisting that the administration of so important a principle should be placed in the hands of a man. who believed in it. Mr. Neilsen is admitted’ even by his opponents to be familiar with the land legislation of New South Wales. He has taken a prominent part in the administration of the land laws of that State. He is a thorough believer in the leasehold! principle, and gave up a position in theState Government because of his adherenceto it. When we are afforded an opportunity to appoint a man having all the necessaryqualifications for a post, and who is at the same time a believer in the principle he is to be called upon to administer, I shall be prepared to justify the appointment of such a man on any platform in Australia.
– That is an argument for turning him out of the position on the: advent of another Government with a different policy.
– That is a question, for the new Government with the different policy to decide. I say that in introducing, a policy such as that to which I have referred, if the members of the Government have any sense at all, they will secure theappointment of officials who believe in thepolicy they are to be called upon to administer.
– Administration could hardly defeat a system, ofleasehold as against a system of freehold-
– I think it could. If an administrator laid himself out to defeat the leasehold principle, he might easily do so. It is often upon the application of regulations that thesuccess or failure of a policy depends; and a man who was not in sympathy with the leasehold principle might by pin-pricks and delays block settlement and make the principle so unpopular and unworkable that it must break down. I need not refer to other appointments which have been challenged, as what I have already said is applicable to them. Senator Millen has offered no objection based upon the qualifications of the men appointed, but has simply condemned the appointments because those appointed happened to be known as supporters of the Government in power. I have come now to deal with the honorable senator’s claim that it was his colleagues who initiated universal compulsory training. This is the honorable senator’s statement, referring to section 125 of the Defence Act of 1909 -
If Senator Gardiner or any one else will turn to the 125th section he will find that that provision for the first time in Australia introduced the principle of compulsory training.
That was not the first time that the principle was embodied in a Bill relating to defence in Australia. If there is any one who can claim to have initiated the system, so far as the introduction of a Bill embodying it is concerned, it is Sir Thomas Ewing. In 1908, he introduced a Bill which contained the following clauses dealing with the principle of compulsory naval and military training : -
Clause 58A. All male inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempted by the regulations) who have resided therein for six months, and are British subjects, shall be liable to be trained as prescribed, as follows : -
From twelve to eighteen years of age in the cadets or senior cadets.
From eighteen to twenty-six years of age in the Defence Force.
Clause 58B. The prescribed training shall in time of peace not exceed in each year -
In the cadets and senior cadets, fiftytwo attendances of one hour each, and four attendances of one whole day each or their equivalent as prescribed; and
In the Defence Force for the first three years eighteen working days, or their equivalent as prescribed ; and
In the Defence Force, for the last five years, seven working days or their equivalent as prescribed.
So that Mr. Joseph Cook cannot claim the honour of having introduced that principle in a Bill brought before this Parliament. Not only is that so, but I can show that Mr. Joseph Cook was at the time he introduced hisBill a very recent convert to the principle of compulsory training.
– He had been a very bitter opponent.
– He was at one time a very bitter opponent of the principle. I wish to show, first of all, that when the Fisher Government met Parliament, in 1909, they intimated their intention to take action in this direction in paragraph 14 of the Speech delivered by the GovernorGeneral, in these words -
In relation to the general question of naval and military defence, a measure providing for an effective Citizen Defence Force will be introduced at an early stage.
That was before the advent of the Fusion Government, and therefore before Mr. Joseph Cook introduced his Bill. Section 29 of the Defence Act of 1903 set out what the militia, the volunteers, and the reserve forces were to consist of. When that measure was under consideration in Committee in the House of Representatives, Mr. Hughes moved the following amendment -
Omit all words of sub-clause 2 after word “officers” in line 12, and insert in place thereof “ duly appointed, and all male inhabitants (excepting those who are exempted as hereinafter provided) who have resided in the Commonwealth for six months and are British subjects and are between the ages of eighteen and twentyone years. The male population liable to serve in the National Militia Forces shall -
Present themselves once in each year at such times and places as may be prescribed for the purpose of undergoing fourteen days’ continuous training ;
Present themselves for detached drills on such other days as may be prescribed. Provided that it shall not be compulsory to attend more than thirty-two of such detached drills aggregating a period of 112 hours.
The period for any one detached drill shall not exceed eight hours nor be less than two hours.”
Speaking on that amendment, Mr. Joseph. Cook said -
But the amendment is receiving the support of the Labour party….. The time is not ripe for entertaining such a proposal, because our present methods of defence are adequate for all purposes….. I am not condemning the honorable member’s proposal in toto. I am, however, condemning its compulsory provisions, and the cost which its adoption would involve. I say further that it is contrary to the genius of our race, and that up to the present time the necessities of Australia have not shown any necessity for it. I do not see my way to support a scheme which is so drastic, and so entirely unnecessary.
– When was that?
-In 1903. And in 1902 Senator de Largie moved the adoption of the same principle at the Labour Conference which was held in Sydney.
– Was it accepted by that Conference?
– No. It was accepted at the Conference which followed in 1908.
– So that at that time Mr. Cook and the Labour party were in line.
– The majority of the members of the other branch of the Legislature were evidently supporters of Mr. Hughes’ proposal, because Mr. Joseph Cook drew attention to that fact. It is clear, therefore, that long before Mr. Cook accepted the principle of compulsory military training Mr. Hughes had pioneered the way in the other Chamber; whilst Senator de Largie had undertaken a similar task at the Labour Conference. That principle became part of the Labour platform in 1 908, and upon that platform the elections of 1910 were fought. Mr. Cook’s repentance and conversion to the principle did not occur till 1909. Then Senator Millen went on to say -
Yet Senator Pearce is going about this country pretending that he is the author of this system, knowing full well that it was introduced by his predecessor….. It was all provided for in the Defence Act passed in1909. What was provided for in the Bill subsequently introduced by Senator Pearce was as to what shall happen in regard to compulsory training after 1915. The system up to that date was already provided for upon the statute-book.
In justice to myself, I wish to say that I have never claimed to be the originator of the principle of compulsory training, or to have had any particular share in creating public opinion upon it, either in the Labour Conferences or outside of them. Consequently I am at a loss to know why the Leader of the Opposition should have made the statement which he did. But I do claim that it was the present Government who made our compulsory training scheme a real one, and gave it shape and substance. I propose to show that Mr. Cook’s defence scheme, as embodied in the Act of 1909, is not the scheme which is now in force, or anything resembling it. The clause relating to compulsory service in the Bill which he introduced, and which subsequently became an Act. provided for the adoption of that principle in four subsections -
All male inhabitants of Australia (excepting those who are exempted by this Act), who have resided therein for six months, and are British subjects, shall be liable to be trained as follows : -
From twelve to fourteen years of age in the Junior Cadets.
From fourteen to eighteen years of age in the Senior Cadets.
From eighteen to twenty years of age in the Citizen Forces.
From twenty to twenty-six years of age in the Citizen Forces.
But, as regards the last sub-section, the Bill provided that it should be limited to one registration or one muster parade each year.
– But when Mr. Cook introduced that Bill he intimated that on the receipt of Lord Kitchener’s report it would be altered and amplified to make it accord with that report.
– I accept the honorable senator’s statement, although I am not aware that Mr. Cook did say so. However, that was the measure which the Government of which Mr. Cook was a member originated ; and I say that it is not the law of the land to-day, nor is anything resembling it. I wish now to point out the attitude which was adopted by Senator Millen, who was acting for Mr. Cook in this Chamber, towards proposals to extend that principle. The Bill was assented to on the 13th December, 1909, and the Fisher Government took office on the 29th April, 1910. One section of the Act declared that it should come into force by proclamation. That proclamation was never issued.
– We could not issue it. A lot of preliminary work had to be done, as the Minister knows very well.
– Had the Government of which the honorable senator was a member commenced to make their preparations
– Preparations were commenced immediately.
– They were not. That Government held the Bill up till Lord Kitchener had reported to them. No preparations were made to bring it into operation. I know that, because when I took office I found that I had to start from bedrock.
– If the officers of the Department told the Minister that, they told him what was untrue.
– I know it from my own knowledge. The Bill, and the scheme embodied in the Bill were submitted to
Lord Kitchener for his report, and in paragraphs 12 and 13 of his report he recommends the extension of the compulsory training system by raising the age limit, and by extending the period of” training. When the Bill introduced by Mr. Cook was submitted to the Senate before Lord Kitchener had reported, I moved that the period of service in the Citizen Forces be from eighteen to twenty-five years, instead of from eighteen to twenty years as that measure provided.
– That provision is not operative to-day. The Government are not training any adult beyond the age of twenty-five years. That provision will not be operative for two or three years.
– It is operative today. When I moved that amendment, Senator Millen opposed it on behalf of the Government, with the result that it was defeated. Then, when clause 127 was under consideration, Senator de Largie moved -
That in paragraph (c) - which set out that in the Citizen Forces the prescribed training should be sixteen wholeday drills or their equivalent - the words “re-drills or their equivalents” be omitted, and “ in camps of continuous training “ inserted.
His object was to give effect to a principle, which was not contained in the Bill introduced by Mr: Cook. That amendment was also opposed by the Government. It formed the subject of another recommendation which was subsequently made by Lord Kitchener, and which is now embodied in our defence scheme.
– Lord Kitchener’s recommendation, to which the previous Government had given its adherence.
– They opposed .Senator de Largie’s amendment.
– Because they had not yet received Lord Kitchener’s report.
– In Mr. Cook’s Act it was stipulated that the men should be trained for sixteen days, or the equivalent of that time. There was no provision for training in camp at all. Both the provision moved by Senator de Largie, and that moved by myself and supported by my colleagues, are now part of the Defence Act, and they constitute a vital and important difference between the two laws. Moreover, they were confirmed as being absolutely necessary by Lord Kitchener when he reviewed the position. The vital points of difference between the law now in force sud the Act passed at the instance of Mr. Cook are, to summarize them, these : The present law makes it obligatory that an officer, on obtaining his commission in the Citizen Forces, shall bind himself for twelve years, failing which he will not be regarded as having fulfilled his military service, and will go back into the ranks. Tha’t important provision insures a supply of officers. . Under’ Mr. Cook’s Act we should never have been able to find a sufficient supply of officers for the Forces. The prei sent law gives us the advantage that when an officer obtains a commission he knows that he has to serve for twelve years, and it also gives us an opportunity to retain the services of officers for a longer period. The present Act definitely lays down what the exemptions from service in time of war shall be. Mr. Cook’s Act merely declared that the Governor-General could prescribe what the exemptions should be. It left it open for the Government of the day to exempt certain people who professed to be conscientiously opposed to service. Again, the present Act extends the limit of age for service in the Citizen Forces. Under Mr. Cook’s Act the age was from eighteen to twenty, whereas the present Act provides for an extension from twenty to twenty-five.
– When does that exten-sion commence to operate?
– It commenced to operate from the time when the Act was proclaimed.
– It commences from T9i5-
– The honorable senator may say that some will not reach the age till then, but otherwise his statement is not accurate ; and upon that argument Mr. Cook’s law would take five years longer to come into operation than ours. The present law makes attendance in camps of training obligatory, whereas Mr. Cook’s law did not. That is a very important point, as was later on enunciated by Lord Kitchener in his report. Senator Millen went on to say -
Take another factor about which we hear a good deal - the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. What has the Labour party to do with that? It was Sir Thomas Ewing, when Minister of Defence, who selected the site, and it was Mr. Joseph Cook who accepted the tenders for ‘the supply of the plant.
Both of these statements are correct, but they leave out a tremendous deal. There were great happenings between the two events mentioned. Senator Millen knew that,or he ought to have known it. It would appear that Sir Thomas Ewing did call for tenders, and did select the site. But .when the Fisher Government, in 1908, came into office, they found that they had to revise the whole business. They found that if they had simply accepted what their predecessors had done, the power plant, which has been manufactured in Australia, would have had to be imported from abroad. That was one thing which the Fisher Government provided for. They found, also, that no provision - absolutely none - had been made to secure any information as to what the various tenderers were binding themselves to supply ; and it was only after a long series of negotiations, which are embodied in a parliamentary paper, that the Fisher Government were able to ascertain on an actuarial basis what the tenders meant, and what their relative value was. No specifications had been issued. Tenderers were simply invited to supply their own specifications. After negotiations extending over many months, the work was done under the régime of the Fisher Government.
– Is the honorable senator speaking of the power plant, or of the Small Arms Factory ?
– I am speaking of both. When Mr. Cook came into office - and I think he would be the first to admit this to be true - he found the whole of that work done for him. He found the relative values of the various tenders worked out for him, and all he had to do was to recommend to his Government.
– The honorable senator is wrong there, because I know, of my own knowledge, that it was necessary to cable Home for information.
– If the honorable senator looks up the parliamentary paper, he will find that the cables sent Home subsequently to the time that I have mentioned were concerning comparatively unimportant points.
– The honorable sena tor may think them unimportant, but I do not.
– I think that Mr. Cook would admit that it is so; and while it is quite right that he should claim some of the credit, I think that he should also be prepared to give a little of the credit where it is due - namely, for the actual spade work done, which was able to be availed of by those who came after us. I come to another question upon which the honorable senator was very unfair. He spoke about the building of the Brisbane and the second-class cruisers, which he said ought to be completed now. He said -
According to this original proposal, which the Government now claim to be their policy, the time for those vessels to be completed is up, and yet we find they are only now letting a contract to build in twenty-two months vessels which to-day ought to be sailing over the waters around our coasts.
That is a rather extraordinary statement. In the first place, the Government of which I am a member lost no time in letting the contracts for the construction of the vessels of the Fleet. What is the position to-day ? I have laid upon the table a paper, which shows that, not. only are those vessels, contracts for the construction of which were let in England, not sailing around our coasts yet, but that they will not be sailing around our coasts for some months to come. Yet the honorable senator says that the local contract ought to have been completed, and the vessels sailing around our coasts. Again, I wish to make a comparison. The honorable senator seems to have lost sight of certain important facts. The delay in the construction of the vessels which are now being built in England is a fact for which we are not in any way responsible. It has occurred through circumstances over which we have no control. I am quite prepared to take the responsibility for any delay that has occurred in Australia with regard to the cruiser and the three destroyers for which this Government are responsible. But it was the desire of this Government, not merely that we should have our own Fleet, but that we should, as far as possible, have it constructed in Australia ; the object being that this country should be self-sufficient in the matter of providing herself with a fleet, as far as that could be done.
– A very big undertaking.
– It is a big undertaking ; and not only that, it is a much bigger one than we realized when we commenced. I venture to say that, no matter what action had been taken, or what preparations had been made for doing this work in Australia, no other result could have been obtained up to the present. Even if we had started a yard of our own, or had invited firms to start a yard for the building of these ships-, the delay that has occurred could not have been prevented. We are anxious, however, and are doing all we can, to induce the New South Wales Government to proceed with that work. They have done a very large amount of preliminary work, and we are anxious that all the ships shall be provided at the earliest possible moment. It is worth some sacrifice of time to demonstrate the fact that ships of this kind can be built in Australia, and to obtain the knowledge and experience that will enable us to build in Australia in the future. Let us, however, judge the honorable senator by the performances of his Government when in office. They then had an opportunity of demonstrating what they could do. Here are the facts in regard to the construction of the Warrego. The offer of the New South Wales Government to the Fisher Government to construct the Warrego was made on the 26th April, 1909. While the inquiries were being made the Fisher Government went out of office - on 2nd June. We sent to the New South Wales Government, however, to ask for information concerning the doing of the work, and those inquiries were progressing when we left office. The Fusion Government came into office in June, 1909. During their term of office the Fusion Government received no less than three reminders from the Wade Government asking them to hurry up their decision.
– Does not the honorable senator think it necessary to mention that the delay was caused by the fact that at that time an Imperial Conference was sitting on defence, at which we were represented ?
– No; it was not so.
– Yes ; wesent Colonel Foxton.
– The holding of the Imperial Conference had nothing to do with this question.
– It had everything to do with it.
– During this time the representative of the Fusion Government at the Imperial Conference was in his place in the Federal Parliament. This delay occurred during the whole of the session of Parliament, and Colonel Foxton was back in his place long before Parliament was prorogued, as the honorable senator is well aware. It was not until the 26th January, 1910, that Mr. Joseph Cook approved of the offer of the New South Wales Government. That is to say, from the 2nd June, 1909, until 26th January, 1910 - upwards of six months - there was delay. It took the Fusion Government all that time to do - What? Not to do anything, but merely to say, “ Yes, we agree that you shall have the contract to put this ship together.”
– What was the reason ?
– The reason was that Parliament was sitting, and the Fusion Government waited until Parliament rose before they made up their minds, or before they would say what they were prepared to do.
– The papers in the Department would have told the honorable senator a different tale from that.
– No, they would no, for I have been through the papers in the Department. I have searched them and compiled from them the story that I am now telling to the Senate. I am even prepared to lay the papers on the table of the Senate, or of the Library, in order to let the honorablesenator see if he can make out from them a reply to what I am saying. He will find that from June to January there was practically nothing done. All that took place was Mr. Wade’s inquiry : “ When are you going to accept our offer?” and Mr. Deakin’s reply : ‘ ‘ Your offer is receiving consideration.” I come now to the question of the Navy. In his remarks on this subject Senator Millen again spoke of a “ tin-pot navy.”
– I did not use the term.
– No? Let me quote what the honorable senator did say -
The Government claim it as their scheme. Wherever did they provide for a Dreadnought, which the Imperial authorities said should be the first ship to be built? It was the essential part of the unit, and they turned down the essential part, and in its place substituted this little tin-pot navy, this mosquito fleet.
– That expression was a quotation.
Now they have the audacity to turn round and claim that the recommendation of the Imperial authorities is their policy, and not that of their opponents.
I will demonstrate to the honorable senator whose policy it is. First of all, I say that the honorable senator and his party were against the establishment of an Australian Navy from the outset. In 1903 they were the strongest opponents of the idea. I am not including Senator Symon in that statement, because there was no one in this Parliament who was a stronger advocate for an Australian Navy at the time to which I am referring than he was. But as far as other honorable senators opposite are concerned, over and over again they opposed the idea.
– That is not altogether correct.
– We will see. In 1903 the Naval Agreement Bill was brought before Parliament. Mr. Fisher said, in the House of Representatives -
I am against this measure and every principle it contains….. I am disposed to fight it line by line, so that they - meaning the people of Australia - may have an opportunity of saying whether or not they desire it. ‘ I feel that those who are opposed to its provisions should fight it line by line, even at the risk of a dissolution, so that the people may be given an early opportunity of declaring whether they favour the establishment of an Australian Navy, or the Bill submitted by the Prime Minister.
Mr. J. C. Watson said ;
Unfortunately it appears that we have in power a Government which is distinctly opposed to the idea of an Australian Navy. It is not merely that they are unwilling at present to initiate such a project, because they see financial difficulties staring them in the face, but, according to the statement made a few nights ago by the Prime Minister, he has no sympathy with such a proposal that we should have a separate navy. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence have made statements to that effect in the House.
Mr. Hughes said ;
I feel compelled to vote against the Bill, because I conceive that it involves a radical departure from the old agreement, inasmuch as it proposes to substitute for a force that was locally controlled one that is to be no longer placed wholly at the disposal of the Commonwealth.
I also have Sir Edmund Barton’s statement, which I do not need to quote, as he is out of politics.
– When were those statements made?
– In 1903. Mr. Joseph Cook said -
For the reason therefore that the agreement involves a cheap and adequate defence, besides providing for the training and the development of the sea power of Australia, so as to prepare the way for any other arrangements that may be made in the future, I think we shall do well now to vote for it, as it has been placed before us by the Government.
Sir John Forrest, who was then Minister of Defence, said -
I do not think it advisible that we should have an Australian Navy, and although it may come in the future, I do not desire that it should come in my time.
When the Bill came before the Senate, Senator McGregor said -
Something has been said already about Australia creating and maintaining a fleet of her own ; and I do not wish to sit down before referring to that aspect of the question. Senator
O’Connor stated that the same objections would apply in connexion with an Australian-owned squadron as applies to a hired squadron. At that time I said I had not proposed an Australianowned squadron, but now I am going to do so as an alternative. I should not have an Australianowned squadron immediately. I would start whenever we had the money in hand.
I shall not quote from my own speech, but I come to Senator Millen, who said -
While I have every sympathy with the very natural aspiration - I suppose we all share it - to see Australia with her own ships manned by her own men, I remind honorable senatorsthat we must be always bound in what we determine upon, not altogether by .what we want,, but by what we can afford to have.
Let it be remembered that at this time we were handing back to the States every year a million of surplus revenue.
– The Braddon section being in operation.
– That did not compel us to hand . back the surplus revenue to the States. We could have spent a million a year on a navy if we had wished. Senator Gould said -
I would ask honorable senators who advocate the establishment of a purely Australian Navy, what would be the position of Australia if the fleets of Great Britain met with the reverses with which it is assumed they might meet, and were thereby rendered unable toprotect us? …. Our position would be one of absolute helplessness….. Of course, I sympathize with the desire to see an Australian Fleet, but, while I am perfectly prepared to assist in providing ships for our coastal defence, I still believe that this agreement isin our interests.
These speeches showed that there was a clear expression of opinion in the Opposition against an Australian Navy, and in favour of a subsidy to the Imperial Fleet, and in the Labour party for an Australian Navy and against a subsidy.
– But I opposed that subsidy.
– I said that I did not include the honorable* senator, who ir? this chamber was. if not a stronger, at least as strong, an advocate for an AustralianNavy and was as much against a subsidy as was any member of this party.
– There is always thepoint as to what sort of navy we should have.
– I am coming to the question as to who originated this idea of the present Fleet Unit, and Senator Millen’s claim that the credit belongs to his Government.
– That it was originated in the Imperial Conference.
– Yes; but the hon- orable senator claimed in his speech on the Address-in-Reply, which he has not corrected, that his Government originated the idea. When Parliament met in 1909 the Fusion Government had not been formed. Senator Millen has just stated that the Imperial Conference originated the idea. Now, who originated the Imperial Conference ?
– Not your Government.
– We will see who did. When Parliament assembled on the 26th May, 1909, the Governor-General’s Speech, as submitted by the Fisher Government, contained these paragraphs -
That statement was made to Parliament before the Fusion Government was formed.
– They sent Mr. Fox- ton.
– Of course that did not eventuate. The Fusion Government came into existence, but the Conference was held. Its assembling had been agreed to before the Fusion came into existence. Our cablegram to the Imperial Government, suggesting a Conference, had left Australia before their cablegram convening one reached here. As a matter of fact, the following was the order of events : The Parliament of Canada passed a resolution suggesting that a Conference be held, and forwarded it by cable to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Later we cabled to London to the same effect, and the day after we had sent our cablegram we received from the Imperial Government a message notifying us that they had received a cablegram from the Dominion of Canada, and that they were convening a Conference. When their cablegram left it is quite true that they had not received our cablegram, but ours was sent in ignorance of the fact that the Government of the United Kingdom were actually convening a Conference, but in full knowledge of the fact that Canada had already asked for a Conference.
– Prior to the despatch of that cablegram did not your Government, through Mr. Fisher, at Gympie, proclaim your Ministerial policy - a navy to consist of small vessels?
– There is our naval policy announced in the Governor-General’s Speech. Mr. Fisher had outlined at Gympie the development of a local flotilla of torpedo destroyers. But what was our idea in asking for a Conference but this, that we might be guided by the best advice which the Empire could give, and that anything we might do might be done in co-operation with other parts of the Empire, so that all could work together for the best effect? It would be foolish to say that we would have refused what the Imperial Conference would suggest, when the very fact is known, as shown by the honorable senator’s interjection, that we had a policy of our own. But, in order to be sure that it was the best one we were asking for a special Conference to deal with this very question.
– That is exactly the position which we took up in regard to the military. We had a policy and said that we would be guided by the best advice, and that was Lord Kitchener’s.
– The telegram from the Governor-General, to the Secretary of State was sent at 4.40 p.m. on the 15th April, and reads as follows -
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth has asked me to submit to your Lordship, for consideration of His Majesty’s Government, the following memorandum on the question of Naval Defence : - “ Whereas all the Dominions of the British Empire ought to share in the most effective way in the burden of maintaining the permanent naval supremacy of the Empire : “ And whereas this Government is of opinion that, so far as Australia is concerned, this object would be best attained by encouragement of naval development in this country so that people of the Commonwealth will become a people efficient at sea, and thereby better able to assist the United Kingdom with men as well as ships to act in concert with the other sea forces of the Empire : “ The views of the present Government, as a basis of co-operation and mutual understanding, are herewith submitted.”
I spoke in error. That is not the cablegram relating to the Conference, but the cablegram which was submitted prior to our cablegram about the Conference, and in which we outlined what we proposed to do as regards naval development here. Now, let us trace the events as set out in the memorandum, which is now before Parliament, as a parliamentary paper -
On the 16th March of this year, statements were made of the growing strength of foreign navies by the Prime Minister and the First Lord of the Admiralty, on the introduction of the Navy Estimates for 1909-10.
On the 15th April, Mr. Fisher. Prime Minister of Australia, sent the telegram which I have read. The memorandum goes on to state what Canada had done, and continues -
In view of these circumstances, His Majesty’s Government considered the time was appropriate for the holding of a Conference to discuss afresh the relations of the Dominions to the United Kingdom in regard to the question of Imperial Defence, and, on the 30th April, sent an invitation to the Defence Ministers of the four Dominions and the Cape Colonies to attend a Conference under the terms of resolution 1 of the Conference of 1907, to discuss the general question of the naval and military defence of the Empire, with special reference to the Canadian resolution, and to the proposals from New Zealand and Australia.
This is interesting, as showing where the proposition for the Fleet Unit originated. Senator Millen says that it originated with his Government.
– I say it originated in the Imperial Conference.
– This is the Admiralty memorandum -
In the opinionof the Admiralty, a Dominion Government desirous of creating a navy should aim at forming a distinct fleet unit ; and the smallest unit is one which, while manageable in time of peace, is capable of being used in its component parts in time of war.
Under certain conditions the establishment of local defence flotillas, consisting of torpedo craft and submarines, might be of assistance in time of war to the operations of the fleet, but such flotillas cannot co-operate on the high seas in the wider duties of protection of trade, and preventing attacks from hostile cruisers and squadrons.
– Well, that condemns your policy.
– It condemns not our policy but the proposition for destroyers only.
– Was not that your policy ?
– No; it was only part. Our policy was an Australian Fleet, and we proposed to start in that way.
– Nineteen destroyers.
– The memorandum continues -
The operations of destroyers and torpedo boats are necessarily limited to the waters near the coast or to a radius of action not far distant from a base, while there are great difficulties in manning such a force and keeping it always thoroughly efficient. A scheme limited to torpedo craft would not in itself, moreover, be a good means of gradually developing a self-contained fleet capable of both offence and defence. Unless a naval force - whatever its size - complies with this condition it can never take its proper place in the organization of an Imperial Navy distributed strategic ally over the whole area of British interests.
The fleet unit to be aimed at should, therefore, in the opinion of the Admiralty, consist at least of the following : - 1 Armoured cruiser (new Indomitable class, which is of the Dreadnought type), 3 Unarmoured cruisers (Bristol class), 6 Destroyers, 3 Submarines, with the necessary auxiliaries, such as depôt and store ships, &c., which are not here specified.
That was in existence before Mr. Foxton left Australia. It was in existence before ever the Fusion Government was formed ; and that is the Fleet Unit to-day.
– Which you turned down.
– Which the honorable senator claims as having been originated by his Government-
– At that Conference.
– It was originated at the Labour Conference held in Brisbane in 1908.
– I intend to give the Fusion credit for originating something:, Theyoriginated an idea.
– A subscription-list in Sydney.
– No; they had a naval policy. What was it? It was that Australia should build a Dreadnought and present it to the Imperial Government for use in the North Sea.
– Our policy is set out in the Act we passed here creating that Unit.
– The policy of the Fleet Unit originated, as I have shown, in the mind of the Admiralty, and was adopted by the Conference, to which the Deakin Government were a party ; but their own policy is shown by their action prior to that. They joined at once in the agitation to provide a Dreadnought for use in the North Sea, and not a Fleet Unit in the Pacific. That is the vital difference. A meeting was held in the Melbourne Town
Hall, on the 5th March, 1909, when the scare was at its height, and the chief speakers and movers of propositions at the meeting were Sir Robert Best, Mr. W. H. Irvine, and, strange to say, the muchdebated Mr. Samuel Mauger. These were the three gentlemen who voiced the policy of a Dreadnought for the North Sea.
– You trifle with words if you say that that was the policy.
– In Sydney, they held a similar meeting, and Mr. Reid, who, I think, was leading the Free Trade section of the then Opposition, moved the principal motion. Mr. Joseph Cook, speaking at that meeting, said -
These resolutions said we should offer a Dreadnought, and that we should offer an increased subsidy. If he had any preference it was for both of them?
The honorable gentleman’s policy at that time was not a fleet unit for the Pacific, but a Dreadnought for the North Sea, and an increased subsidy to the Imperial Government.
– Would the honorable senator never contemplate our battleship cruiser operating in the North Sea?
– I certainly should, but there is a very vital difference in principle and policy between sending our battleship cruiser to the North Sea, if we thought that necessary or advisable for training or co-operation with the British Fleet, and the giving away of Australian money for the construction of a ship to be sent to the North Sea, and placed entirely beyond our control.
– I admit that, but I wish to know if the Minister would contemplate the possibility of our battleship cruiser having to be sent to the North Sea?
– I am prepared to contemplate that as a possibility.
– But the honorable senator does not seriously contend that what he has referred to represents the policy of a party?
– I am showing that this is what was advocated by the party opposite, and that the principal leaders of the party moved these resolutions.
– They may have approved of that proposition, but that does not represent their policy.
– Then it was another case of “ Yes-No.” I am prepared to give the Opposition all the credit they please for having originated the scheme
I refer to, and so far as I have been able to find out that is the only scheme they did originate.
– Who put through the Bill creating the present Fleet Unit?
– This Parliament did.
– At whose instance?
– I have shown that that proposition came, not from the Government of which Senator Millen was a member, but from the Imperial Defence Conference. The policy which the party opposite advocated through their leaders in Melbourne and Sydney was turned down by Australia, and they dared not ask Parliament to indorse it.Statements have been made that the present Government is most extravagant, and that the Commonwealth revenue is something quite extraordinary and beyond all reason. I have been looking into the revenues of the States, and! have noted the following increase in the revenue of the States. If we take the revenue for 1909-10 as compared with the revenue for 1911-12, we shall find that the revenues of the States have increased by £4,127,914. In the same period the revenue of the Commonwealth has advanced by only £1,728,368.
– How can the honorable senator say that when the revenue from the land tax alone for the twelve months amounted to£1,400,000?. Does he mean to say that£400,000 would cover the balance of the Commonwealth revenue?
– The Minister must recognise that he is making a mistake.
– I have quoted the figures that have been submitted to me; but as I can see that there must be some mistake, I shall not quote them further. I will say, however, that the revenues of the States for the period mentioned show an increase of over£4,000,000, and for the period between 1901-2 and 1911-12 the State revenues show an increase of no less than £12,836,000. Seeing that the total revenue of the Commonwealth at the present time is about £20,000,000, it will be admitted that the Commonwealth revenue has not increased in a greater proportion than have the revenues of the States. The Commonwealth revenue at the commencement of Federation was, I think, between £8,000,000 and £9,000,000, and as it is now about £20,000,000, it has not increased during the same term at a greater ratio than have the revenues of the States.
– We can hardly institute any proper comparison between State and Federal revenues, because the State revenues include receipts for services.
– There is another reason why such a comparison is unfair to the Commonwealth, and that is that during all these years the States have been borrowing at an increased rate for their public works, and the Commonwealth has not borrowed anything. The Opposition quote the increase in Commonwealth revenue as though it were a sin to be laid to the charge of the present Government. Seeing that at least a similar increase has taken place in the revenues of the States, if it is a sin against the present Commonwealth Government, it is equally a sin against the State Governments whom honorable senators opposite support. I should like to know the object in continually quoting the enormous increase of revenue as something which the present Government should be ashamed of or are called upon to explain. It is clear from the figures which can be supplied that it is not an abnormal increase due to Commonwealth taxation, but is due to the increase of population, the greater capacity for production of the people, and the general increase of prosperity in the country. Senator Millen seemed sceptical about the effect of the progressive land tax. He claimed that it had failed to bring land into use. Fortunately, since he spoke, we have had presented a report by the Land Tax Commissioner.
– And we have had a declaration by Mr. Beeby that land is so dear that he cannot afford to buy it.
– I prefer the report of the Land Tax Commissioner to a declaration by Mr. Beeby. I find that between the ist July and the 30th September, 1910, estates were cut up to the value of ^2,713.000. Of this amount, £440,000 was in Victoria and £1,000,000 in New South Wales. Between the 1st October, 1910, and the end of June, 19 r.i, the cutting up of estates took place to the value of £18.188,000. Putting the operations of the two periods together, we have a total quantity of land ma.de available of the value of £21,000,000.
– Was not a lot of the land cut up and divided amongst families?
– That is merely an assertion, and if I say that it was not, my statement is as good as the honorable senator’s assertion.
– Does not the Land Tax Commissioner say that £9,000,000 worth of the land was bought by those who already held land?
– No, he does not; and what has to be remembered is that the estates were so divided that the subdivisions in value came under the .£.5,000 exemption. We can discover that land was made available under the operation of the tax in another way by considering the area under cultivation. In 1909, before the imposition of the tax, the area under cultivation was 9,891,243 acres, and in 1911, after the imposition of the tax, it was 11,893,838 acres, or an increase of the area under cultivation of 2,002,395 acres in one and a half years.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that that is due to the land tax. Have not the good seasons had something to do with it?
– I think that it is due to the land tax. I visited the Riverina district of New South Wales recently on a semi-political mission, and I was told by numbers of people that estates there which had not been used for cultivation for over half a century were during last year being cut up and farmed on shares. The local residents attributed that to the imposition of the progressive land tax.
– They do not cut up estates where they are share-farming.
– The fact remains that land was brought under cultivation that had always previously been used for sheep. I have nothing further to add, except that, in regard to the general charge of extravagance which Senator Millen and others have been voicing, there is one very effective reply, and that is, to ask them to say what item of expenditure they would eliminate from the Government proposals. Until they answer that question, we have no basis for argument on the subject. We should know from them in what direction they would practise economy.
– The motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply affords a convenient opportunity to review the principal administrative acts of the Government. We have been informed in the Governor-General’s Speech that we were called together to consider matters of great importance to the country, and the thirty-ninth paragraph of the Speech expresses the hope that, under Divine guidance, our deliberations will be for the welfare of the people. I wish to say that, in connexion with the principal administrative act of the Government, there does not appear to have been very much of Divine guidance, but, on the contrary, evil spirits appear to have taken complete possession of their councils. I allude to the Brisbane strike. I am aware that the details of the Brisbane strike have been presented and debated inside and outside of Parliament until the subject may be said to have become threadbare. However, I believe that very grave issues arose out of the strike, and the attitude the Government took towards it, and I make bold to say that those issues cannot be decided finally by this Parliament. They must go for consideration and final decision to the electors of Australia. Tt is to this aspect of the question I intend to address myself. Before we can thoroughly understand what those issues are, it is necessary to refer to two or three instances connected with the strike. I think that the incidents which I shall mention will be admitted by honorable senators opposite to be indisputable facts. The first is that the city of Brisbane was for at least a week in possession of, or under the tyrannism of, a strike committee, which - if I may be permitted to borrow a phrase from a Labour Minister in New South Wales - may aptly be described as ‘ a gang of industrial bushrangers. ‘ ‘
– “ Industrious “ more than “ industrial.”
– I thank Mr. Griffith for that expression, which seemed to me to exactly fit the position. My second fact which is indisputable is that this gang proceeded after the manner of an invading enemy to cut communication with Brisbane by sea and land in order that they might starve that city into submission to their rule.
– Nothing of the kind.
– If honorable senators opposite have the audacity to contradict, or even to qualify that statement, I will remain in the chamber with some expectancy and pleasure to hear what they have to say.
– That is a great deal more than the honorable senator’s colleagues have done. They have not even paid him the compliment of remaining to listen to him.
– It does not matter to me whether I am paid that compliment or not. I know that honorable senators opposite often flinch a good deal under our criticism. My third indisputable fact-
– The honorable senator has not given us numbers one and two yet.
– My third indisputable fact is that the Prime Minister, who is the official mouthpiece of the Gotvernment. indorsed the actions of the strike committee, and used all his great political influence to secure the return to power of those who strongly supported them. A good deal has , been said in justification of the strike from the stand-point of the unfair treatment which it is alleged had been meted out to the men by the Tramway Company. But I venture to say that no defence will be urged by honorable senators opposite of the action of the strikers in holding up communication with the city of Brisbane by means of the State railways.
– Why does the honorable senator say that seeing that Mr. Fisher indorsed their action?
– I am making this comment in the hope that there may be some justification for Mr. Fisher’s attitude. But I think it will be difficult for the Government to justify their attitude before the electors of this country. In order that honorable . senators may understand how serious was the attack which was made upon railway communication with Brisbane, I intend to quote from certain newspaper reports. I find that a Mr. T. E. Brown, who was the leader of that portion of the strikers who attacked the Railway Workshops at Ipswich, informed a meeting which he addresed at the Central Gardens there, that he had called out the shunters in the local railway yards, and that they had responded to a man. He said that out of 1,400 men who had struck only thirty-two had reported themselves back on the railway works, and they would have to come out. He added that their names would be placed upon the black-list so that everybody in Ipswich would know who were the men who had the courage to remain loyal to the service of the State. At that time the situation was so critical that the Railway Commissioner, Mr. Evans, convened a meeting of various representatives of the railway service in order that measures might be taken to put an end to the interruption of the city’s railway communication.
– Had these railway men had any grievance in connexion with their employment?
– They had not a single grievance. Mr. Evans proceeded at once to the Ipswich works for the purpose of addressing the few men who had remained loyal to the Department, and of appealing to the others to return to their duties. .1 propose to lead an extract from the speech which he made on that occasion, when over 1,400 men were on strike, and when “railway communication with Brisbane, which had been seriously interfered with for over a fortnight, had been temporarily cut off.
– If it had been entirely cut off, would that have stopped the strike?
– Does not a school boy know the object which the strikers had in view? When an invader cuts railway communication with any city, does he not aim at starving that city into submission to his rule? The Commissioner of Railways, I may inform honorable senators, is a man who rose from the rank of a guard, who is familiar with almost every phase of railway work, and who has made himself the principal railway authority in Queensland. He said -
I have come amongst you to-day, to point out that I am still Commissioner for Railways, and this (holding up a document), is my commission issued by the Governor-in-Council of the State. I am the custodian of ^25,000,000 worth of properties, and what is of far more value, the lives and the welfare of about 10,000 -employes, as well as the safe transit of passengers and goods, and I am here to assure you that while one shred of that commission exists, and while God spares me to be above ground, I shall do my duty. (Hear, hear.) Now, I have had no quarrel or dispute whatever with those whom I am proud to be associated within the service.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in reading his speech?
– Senator St. Ledger is perfectly in order in reading an extract.
– Surely I am entitled to refer to my notes. I have prepared fairly extensive notes for the purpose of enabling me to be brief. Mr. Evans continued -
But we have been dragged into a very grave position by which these workshops are practically closed, and the shops in Townsville are closed also. This means assembling practically roo or more engines - emptying the boilers and tenders, white-leading the motions and laying them up, and this in its turn means a large quantity of machinery being laid up also. Now,
I am informed that there have been men at work to-day, but that puts me into a much more serious position that I ever dreamed of, as a gentleman named Brown is reported to have said on the 4th instant, that he had called out the shunters in the local railway yards, and they had come out to a man, also that the names of the men who had reported themselves for duty had been secured, and would be available. “ The time is coming,” he is reported to have said, “ when we shall go back to those shops. When I go back there these thirty-two men will have to go.” Continuing, Mr. Evans said “Those men have now increased to 204. I don’t know where he expects you to go to. I expect you to remain where you are, and, if it is necessary for me to do so, I will sleep on the premises, and will see that no “man interferes with my business. I am proud that your names are still on the railway books, and I hope Mr. Brown will not wipe them off. . (Laughter.) Mr. Brown was also reported to have declared they were all going back to the shops, and going back to a man - going back in a body or not at all. Some people, said Mr. Brown, told them that they would lose their privileges, but that was a matter which concerned them all, and to which they would not submit. “ What I hope is this : The very fact of your action in coming back will induce others who have been misinformed - I do not say intimidated - to come back before 7.30 on Thursday morning. i have asked them, and I now ask them through you to come back to work. If they do, everything will go as it went before. (Applause.) From Mr. Brown’s remarks, I take it he is at the head of a great force, a great army, or he wishes me and you to think he is, and just at this point is where you and I come in. He says he is going to put you out, but when he and his great army does that I go out also, and if I go out without defending, or attempting to defend, the lives and property committed to my charge, I am sure all rightminded people will say I was not worthy of being placed at the head of the great railway service, and I wish with all peaceful earnestness to inform Mr. Brown that I wish to be the head of a small force at the Ipswich workshops when he comes along, and the defence will be grounded on the fact that we are on the defence, through no quarrel of our own bringing about, and, therefore, we may hope to strengthen our forces through those who are ever ready to help those who have been hit below the belt, and that we have been hit in the most cowardly manner is apparent.”
That is sufficient evidence of the gravity of the position and of the wantonness of the attack which was made upon the railway property. On the day following the speech a good number of the men returned to the Ipswich workshops. Mr. Evans then addressed them. I will give a brief extract from his speech both to the men who had remained loyal and to those who had been wavering. I quote this, because I think it will appeal, not only to the Senate, but to whomsoever may read it. It was listened to attentively by the people to whom it was delivered, and its appeal has equal force to others.
Let me tell you, with all the earnestness in my power, that it is your duty to your God, and to those depending on you, to think, think, think ; to use your brains as well as your hands in your daily avocations, and therefore I do ask of you to be careful in the future, and do. not be led away by those who induce you to strike. If at any time you feel inclined to be dissatisfied, send for me, and I will go to you, if possible ; in fact, it is my duty, as it is your duty to come to me, and, my dear friends, is there not room for thought - much thought - when we consider that those whom you and I sent into the highest tribunal in the land to make the laws, should be the first to incite us - you and I, mind - to break those laws? Does the law of God not say that we shall “cling .to our wives,” and to honour our parents, but are we doing it when we tear the roof from above them, and keep food from their mouths, and clothing from their bodies, by stopping the earnings that are justly due to them ?
That speech, to my mind, was not only creditable to the courage and capacity of the Railways Commissioner, but, considering the occasion on which it was made, and the circumstances to which it was applicable, is. worthy of being pondered by the whole of Australia.
– What has it to do with the question under discussion ?
– I cannot understand the obtuseness of the honorable senator in not perceiving how this goes straight to the point. When we find a Government supporting those who attack State agencies it is time for them to be criticised, and time for them to pay attention to the criticism. If they choose to pass it by, as some honorable senators opposite are attempting to do, I have no hesitation in saying that the people will do their duty when appeal is made to them on the matter. I now leave the question of how an attempt was made to strike at the railway communications in order to assist the Brisbane strikers, and will show what happened in regard to shipping. The waterside workers-
– Had they any grievance at that time?
– None ; and they were working under an industrial agreement filed in the Arbitration Court.
– Arbitration Court - State or Federal ?
– The Federal Court.
– What are the waterside workers?
– There is no man in the Senate who knows better to whom I am referring than does Senator
Guthrie, though, by his interjection, he pretends that he does not know. His attitude is a sample of the hypocrisy which I strongly resent in an argument of this kind. I believe I am correct in saying that one of the parties to the industrial agreement to which I refer was the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. I shall give the names of those who signed the agreement, which is still in operation. It came into existence some time before the strike broke out. But, notwithstanding its binding nature, the men walked away from their employment. They broke the agreement, apparently, with less concern than they would have shown about eating a meal or drinking a glass of beer.
– Yet we have been told that the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court have always been obeyed.
– This is an awkward fact.
– I say there was no award.
- Senator Guthrie has some association with the interests of this federation, and knows more about it than I do. No doubt it is a most disagreeable fact for him, and for the Government, that this agreement was so wantonly broken. Yet those who broke it obtained the support of the Prime Minister and his colleagues.
– That is very nice; but the honorable senator has yet to prove that there was an award affecting the waterside workers. There is no award in existence.
– I think I shall be able to prove my case - that there was a serious breach of the agreement, and that that breach, under our law, is severely punishable.
– The honorable senator has to prove the agreement, or award, before he can say that it was broken.
– Is it a fact that an award was made?
– There is no agreement under the Arbitration Act.
– Was there not a voluntary agreement?
– There may have been; but not an award.
– The honorable senator is less likely to make a mistake than I am on these matters; but I have given the subject some Care, and venture to submit that I am absolutely accurate in the statement I am making. ‘ ‘
– No !
– Very well ; we will call for the documents, if necessary.
– Hear, hear !
– But let me say this now : Just before I came into the chamber this afternoon, I telephoned to the Registrar of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and asked him whether a certain document was in existence, and had been filed at his office. The Registrar told me that there was an industrial agreement, and gave me the date on which it was signed and executed. He gave me the names of the parties who signed it. Therefore, it seems to me to be idle to try to make out that these waterside workers were not working under an industrial agreement, properly signed and executed, and now in the possession of the Registrar of the Federal Arbitration Court. History shows that that agreement was broken. I believe that, at the present time, the Court is considering what, if any, shall be the punishment inflicted upon those men for having broken the agreement.
– They had better reflect a long time before they do anything.
– Senator Guthrie just now denied that there was any agreement to break.
– Nor is there.
– It may interest the Senate to know who were the parties who signed that industrial agreement. This information I also received from the Registrar this afternoon. It was signed on behalf of the Steam-ship Owners’ Association by E. Northcote,W. F. Appleton, and E. M. McDonald; and on behalf of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, by W. M. Hughes, W. H. Laird Smith, F. W. Bamford, and J. Morris.
– How could these men sign an agreement if there was no agreement to sign?
– In answer to that interjection, I may say that I have heard things which seem to me to be as indisputable as the fingers on one’s hand so repeatedly denied by honorable senators opposite, that I am surprised at nothing. I am even prepared to believe that the document to which I am referring will be denied. One of the most remarkable features of recent political discussions has been that, when in connexion with the Brisbane strike we have given irrefragable proof of facts, they have been denied so calmly in official organs of the Labour party and elsewhere, that it makes one realize something of the force of the Scripture incident about Ananias and Sapphira. It is somewhat remarkable, also, that three of the gentlemen whom I have mentioned as signing the agreement are members of this Parliament. I am not aware that history records that, during the strike, they went up to Brisbane to recall the men to a sense of their duty. These three gentlemen were, in fact, conspicuous by their silence, notwithstanding that their names are attached to the document which was intended to insure industrial peace.
– That is not correct. Mr. Bamford’s name is one, and he condemned what the waterside workers did in Queensland.
– The honorable senator knows perfectly that Mr. Hughes’ health would not allow him to go.
– Was it riot possible for him to write, or send a telegram? There was nothing on earth to prevent him.
– He was well enough to rush into print about the Werriwa election, and might have rushed into print about the breach of the agreement.
– Was the slightest desire shown by honorable senators opposite, outside Parliament, to recall these men to a sense of their duty? Does not the very fact of this flagrant breach of an industrial agreement by men who had not put forward the slightest ground of complaint against their employers make us lose faith both in the Act itself and in the pious professions which are continually being poured outfrom the other side in regard to conciliation and arbitration ?
– Where was the breach ?
– The breach was, I’ take it, the strike. What is the object of the Act itself but that when the parties to a dispute have entered into an industrial agreement it shall be as perfect a guarantee for industrial peace as can be insured by means of legislation? When men wantonly and flagrantly break an industrial agreement, and their leaders are silent both here and outside, what hope can we put in the effiectiveness of industrial agreements? If our opponents are sincere in their profession of belief in the efficiency of this principle, they are giving us no evidence at a critical time of their sincerity.
– Members of your party never give us any evidence of their sincerity when bad employers do rotten things and break the law. Do you ever denounce them?
– To repeat the copy-book maxim, “One wrong does not justify or condone another wrong.”
– Very often it does.
– I am dealing with what I think was a wrongful act - in fact, a discreditable act by. all parties to the industrial agreement.
– We do not hear a word about Badger.
– I shall have something to say about Mr. Badger in .that connexion in a little while. It is only the gospel of the red herring which is now being preached. May I ask honorable senators to address themselves to the points which I have submitted, namely, the existence of an industrial agreement, the parties who signed it, and the breach ?
– What was the agreement ?
– To remain at work as long as it was offered to them. The waterside workers went out on the 30th January, and did not return until the 6th March.
– Cannot they take a holiday ?
– It was evidently a Roman holiday which they were trying to make in Brisbane. If the excuse is put forward that men may commit a breach of an industrial agreement and call it a mere holiday, what is the use of either the Act or the industrial agreement, or the award ? Honorable senators on the other side are continually told by some employers that the great weakness in the Act is that you cannot bind the men, even when industrial agreements have been converted into awards of the Court. How can they be bound at all if the interjection is correct ?
– If there is a breach of the law there is a penalty. Why have they not enforced the penalty?
– Section 24 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904 sets out that when the parties have made an industrial agreement it shall have the same effect as, and be deemed to be, an award ; while section 6 of the Act provides that no person or organization shall, on account of any industrial dispute, do anything in the nature of a lock-out or strike, or continue any lock-out or strike, and the penalty for so doing is a fine of £1,000. I admit at once that anybody who can call the action of the waterside workers a holiday is outside the pale of either reason or argument ; and all reason, all argument, facts themselves, are absolutely useless in answer to a remark of that kind.
– What about the unscrupulous person who locked out his men?
– That is not the question now, but the red herring policy. I think I have made it remarkably clear to the Senate that at Brisbane there was a breach of an industrial agreement. I shall wait a reply from the other side if honorable senators choose to reply, or if they are game to face the position.
– We will face it.
– To use a colloquialism, the betting is even that honorable senators opposite will not touch the point, but will evade it. I venture to say that Senator Guthrie will not give his reasons for applying to the action of the waterside workers the term “ a holiday.” I wish now to show how seriously the shipping communication was interfered with by the action of the strike gang.
– Nothing about Yankee . bounder Badger.
– I am not quite sure that even when I do mention Mr: Badger’s position in the matter, honorable senators on the other side will venture to go very deeply into his conduct. The steamers which were delayed at Brisbane were the Warrego, the Aramac, the Arawatta, the Tinana, the Moira, the Chillagoe, the Peregrine, the Gabo, and the Cycle.
– Is that all?
– That in a pretty fair fleet. The steamers whose port of call was Brisbane, but which did not call in there owing to the strike, were the Wodonga, the Ballina, and the Innamincka. The Wyreema called in to land passengers only. The Wollowra, the Marloo, and the Buninyong called at Brisbane, but neither loaded nor discharged cargo. The Cooma and the Bombala loaded no cargo. These names are sufficiently familiar to every honorable senator to make it apparent that practically the whole of the coasting trade passing in and out of Brisbane was seriously interfered with. There was no provocation, and the interference has been justified by the Prime Minister and has received all the moral and political support which he could give to it, and in that regard he was assisted by many members of the party. I should like to hear some justification for that kind of thing. I have heard and read of speeches made outside, and in another place, but I have not yet heard any justification for such action. I have heard what I might almost call volumes of defences and excuses for it.
– Was there a man of any one of those ships who left his work?
– I said that the waterside workers went out on strike. The honorable senator knows as well as, if not better than, I do, that he is trying to make a wretched and miserable quibble. He knows that when the waterside workers were out on strike it would have been worse than useless to send ships with cargo or passengers to a port which was thereby held up.
– Do you imply that the Governnent were responsible for that strike in any way?
– I think I have made it pretty clear that the Government, by reason of their attitude towards the strike generally, made themselves responsible for its continuance, and everything else.
– Perhaps you will give us a list of the ships which are delayed in London while matters are under the control of a Liberal Government.
– Is not this a red whale, and not a red herring? What have we to do with the shipping of London? It is with our own shipping and the breach of our Conciliation and Arbitration Act that we are concerned. The actions of the strikers have been condoned. All those who were identified with the strike have received the approbation of the Prime Minister and many honorable senators on the other side.
– How would you have stopped the strike if you had been in power ?
– That is not the question.
– Have not the States to-day control of shipping under the Navigation laws?
– Not entirely.
– Absolutely entirely.
– Over the InterState trade we have superior jurisdiction. How can the Labour party possibly expect to be intrusted by the electors with a longer lease of legislative power for the protection and development of the industries of Australia? We can hope that the common sense of the people will judge our acts fairly, and punish constitutionally those acts which they think wrong. My reason for drawing prominent attention to two aspects of the strike is in order that the public may thoroughly understand what the position is. Let me now take another aspect. The general strike, in which forty-two or forty-three unions were called out, arose out of a dispute between the tramway employes and their manager, Mr. Badger, on the question of the wearing of a badge, which he refused to allow them to wear, and which they persisted in wearing.
– Is it not a fact that Badger refused to allow the men to go to work when they were wearing the badge?
– I do not know whether any one really denies that. I think it is an absolute fact.
– Do you approve of Mr. Badger’s action in refusing to allow the men to wear the badge?
– That is no concern of mine. If the honorable senator chooses to approve of one party, and to blame or criticise the other party, he is welcome to do so. I am merely mentioning facts which are not disputed. The general strike arose out of a desire on the part of the men to wear their union badge, and the refusal of the tramway manager to allow them to do so. That, and several other matters, were contained in a plaint which was referred to the decision of the Arbitration Court. The reference of the whole of the matters, including the wearing of the badge, was made in October, 191 1, and they were then brought within the cognisance of the Arbitration Court. It is not, I think, too harsh to say that it is further indisputable that the men wantonly brushed aside the jurisdiction of the Court to which they had themselves appealed. “
– Why did not Badger wait until the Court gave its decision?
– Why did not all the parties wait? The whole matter was within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. There has never yet been an answer that I can regard as more than a flimsy excuse given to the question : Why did the strike or lock-out take place at all ? The excuse, or defence, whichever honorable senators like to call it, has always been that the mere refusal to permit the wearing of the badge was only a formal pretext of the declaration of war.
– Nonsense !
– I believe that it is nonsense ; but that has been the excuse or defence put forward over and over again. It has been alleged that it was not merely because of the refusal to permit the wearing of the badge, but because of the culmination of a series of petty tyrannies and grievances that the men were driven to anticipate the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. But no sane man, who is also impartial, will justify the conduct of those who so rashly anticipated the decision of the tribunal to which they had appealed.
– Badger anticipated it by discharging men.
– It may be so, but there was a Court to which both parties had appealed.
– They had not got. to the Court at that time; the case was only pending.
– I fail to understand the honorable senator. It is absolutely a matter of history that the parties had appealed to the Court, and the honorable senator can go to-day to the Registrar of the Court, and find the original plaint, and learn the date on which it was filed.
– The matter was not before the Court.
– That is what was said by the honorable member for Batman when he went up to Brisbane. He said it was not in the plaint at all, and it was probably owing to that awful misstatement that the strike was started and continued. Here we have the same kind of stupidity repeated. Senator Needham tells us that the matter was not before the Court. I say that it was, because the plaint containing the complaint against the refusal to permit the wearing of the badge, and other matters, was filed in the Arbitration Court about 11th October, 1911. Once one has invoked the jurisdiction of a Court he is bound, and that is certainly the intention of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, to await its verdict and abide by it.
– Why did not Badger await its verdict?
– My honorable friends opposite must be familiar with the ordinary procedure of the Law Courts. The machinery we have set up by our Conciliation and Arbitration Act makes provision that where parties cannot agree upon a matter in dispute, it shall be referred to the Arbitration Court, and there shall be no strike or lock-out over it. I have stated exactly the position of the parties to this dispute in Brisbane. They had agreed to differ upon the matter in dispute, and had referred it to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court as provided for by the Act.
– Had the Court any power to put back victimized men if the judgment was in their favour?
– That is a question which should be directed, not to me, but to the framers of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The honorable senator may claim that the Act is deficient in that respect.
– It is not the Act; it is the Constitution.
– The Act cannot go beyond the Constitution, but we can set aside Acts and Constitutions. I say that when men have instituted Court proceedings to settle a dispute between them, which amounts to a reference to a third party, it is only common justice and common sense that the parties shall await the arbitration of the Court or individual.
– Why did not Badger await it? Why has the honorable senator no condemnation for him?
– That is a question which ought to be addressed to Mr. Badger.
– Why is all the honorable senator’s condemnation for the workers and none for Badger?
– Order! Senator St. Ledger is entitled to address the Senate in silence.
– If the honorable senator would only talk sense.
– Such an interjection, and the fire of interjections with which my remarks have been received by honorable senators opposite, show that they thoroughly understand the point I wish to drive home to them, whether they will admit it or not. I have said that the whole matter was referred for the decision of the Arbitration Court. When the lock-out or strike occurred the defence set up for the men was that there had been a series of grievances which the company had refused to redress, and on that account they would not await the verdict of the Court.
– A brief for Badger !
– I have no hesitation in saying that Mr. Badger is a man who needs no one to hold a brief for him. Throughout Australia, and even by the strikers themselves, he is admitted to be a man who can hold his own.
– I should think he could when the Government was behind him.
– He needs no defender, nor am I his defender. I am not at the same time making any remarks derogatory to the men, except that I question their wisdom, and almost their legal right, in the circumstances, in striking when they had a Court to go to. I am not discussing the relative merits in the matter of Mr. Badger and the Tramway Company’s employes.
– Was it a lock-out or a strike?
– I have told the honorable senator more than once that he can call it either, as he pleases. It does not matter what term he applies to it. I have stated the facts. The jurisdiction of the Court was invoked, and the men brushed it on one side. I say there was no justification for that.
– The essential point is whether it was a strike or a lock-out.
– Senator St. Ledger, in common with every other member of the Senate, has a right to be heard without a continuous fire of interjections.
– I wish now to illustrate this matter by analogy. A number of postal employes allege that they have many and severe grievances which the present Government have repeatedly refused to redress. The Government have set up means by which these postal employes may, if they choose, invoke the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. Suppose the employes say to the Government, “ We have suffered from long continued grievances and you have refused to redress them. We shall not go to your Court. We shall not await its jurisdiction. We shall go out on strike.” Could the Government, with justice, and without the most dangerous discrimination, plead that in such circumstances the employés would be justified in going out on strike? I should like to ask Senator Givens whether in such circumstances the postal employés would be justified in a general strike on the ground that they had had long continued grievances which remained unredressed?
– The analogy is not complete. I say that if the Government victimized the men who were making the complaints they would be justified in going out on strike.
– Exactly. The more we analyze the position of honorable senators opposite, in connexion with conciliation and arbitration, the more abundantly it becomes evident that they do not care one straw for the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as regards its application to private or Government employés, if, at any time, the employes say that, because of unredressed grievances, they propose to go out on strike. That is the position which honorable senators opposite are steadily maintaining, and which Senator Givens is endeavouring to emphasize. If my honorable friends choose to treat the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act in that way they must abide by the consequences. If the postal employés in the circumstances which I have mentioned decided to strike, and called out the members of forty-three unions, or of 430 unions, for the purpose of paralyzing telegraphic communication throughout Australia, and of setting up a strike committee over the community, would the Government dare to justify their action? And if they could not justify it, how can they justify the action of employés who decide to strike, notwithstanding that there is in existence an Arbitration Court to which they may appeal for redress of their grievances. Practically what the Prime Minister and his colleagues did over and over again was to say to the Brisbane tramway employes, “ Well done thou good and faithful servants.” In my judgment, when they supported the strikers they sowed the seeds of disloyalty and revolt within the Commonwealth Public Service itself. Now, if there is one place inwhich it is important that loyalty should be preserved it is in our Public Service, and any Government which tends to sap that loyalty is guilty of a grievous wrong.
-Colonel Cameron. - Is not fit to govern.
– In other places I have used even stronger language than I have employed here in condemnation of the Brisbane strike, and I shall continue to do so. If, in my own political interest I meet with the same measure of success that has attended me in other campaigns in which I have made this question a prominent feature of my address, I shall be perfectly satisfied. There is just another phase of it upon which I will touch. I believe that the strike in Brisbane was an orgie of industrial chaos and fanaticism, led by the Strike Committee, which has been so aptly called a “ gang.” In my opinion, it was one of the most gross and unjustifiable industrial outrages ever committed in Australia. I believe that the Strike Committee, and those who supported their action, will have to pay a very heavy penalty for their misdeeds. Quite recently I have heard numerous pious perorations both inside and outside of this Parliament - perorations which teemed with expressions of goodwill towards everybody. Some of those perorations would bring tears to the eyes of crocodiles. They were crocodilian perorations addressed to brother crocodiles. The men who gave utterance to them are very largely responsible for such acts as were committed during the Brisbane strike. When I think of those acts I am reminded of a quotation, which, with a slight alteration, appears to me a very apt one -
The moving finger writes, and having writ,
Moves on. Nor all your piety nor wit
Can lure it back to cancel half a line.
Nor all your tears wipe out a deed like it.
To those whose speeches and acts have exhibited such a contrast I would recommend a short course of easy, attractive, and fruitful reading. In the first place, I would recommend them to read the New Testament history of the texts and speeches of the Pharisees; secondly, I would prescribe a close study of the characters of Mr. Chadband and Mr. Pecksniff as outlined by Dickens; and, lastly, I. would advise them to study carefully the Old Testament Decalogue, giving special attention to that commandment which begins, “ Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Paragraph 6 of the Governor-General’s Speech reads -
The Australian Notes Act is working satisfactorily. The value of notes in circulation at the end of last month was £9,512,151, against which £4,305,215 was held in gold at the Treasury, the balance being invested in accordance with the Act.
I wish to say that the value of the notes in circulation at the end of last month was not £9,512,151. Any such assertion is an absolute misstatement, and in such a document as the Governor- General’s Speech I can scarcely refrain from saying that it is wilful misstatement. There are not £9,500,000 worth of Commonwealth notes in circulation, because everybody knows that the banks hold £5,000,000 worth of these notes in their tills. When we speak of the notes in circulation we ought to mean the notes which are actually in the pockets of the people. We ought not to include those which are held by the banks.
– Can the honorable senator tell us the exact value of the notes in circulation upon any particular day?
– All we can do is to strike an average. I do not think that the Australian Notes Act is. working satisfactorily. In support of my statement I extract the following from the Banking and Insurance Record of April of the present year -
Regarding the amount actually in circulation, and that held by the banks, the statutory average of the banks’ holdings for the March quarter was £5,873,416. The actual amount issued on 28th February was £10,095,160, and taking it to correspond with the banks’ holdings, the amount in effective circulation was £4,221,744. Two years previously the circulation of bank notes and Queensland Treasury notes amounted to £4,567,531.
I invite honorable senators to observe that two years prior to the passing of the Australian Notes Act the circulation of the private bank notes, and the Queensland Treasury notes aggregated £4,567,000, which represents about the same amount as is represented by the Commonwealth notes at present in circulation. The same journal upon 21 st March, of the present year, published the following statement -
Australian notes issued on the 29th November,1911, £9,899,910. Deduct till money, £5,788,961; actual circulation, £4,110,949; bank notes in course of retirement, £876,425 ; total December quarter, 1911, £4,987,374.
It is rather a startling fact that the value of the notes in active circulation at the end of November of last year was only£4,110,949. At the time there were bank notes in course of retirement amounting to £876,425 and there was a total circulation - including the notes which were being retired - for the December quarter of £4,987,374. The banks’ note circulation in December, 1910, was £4,291,101. If to that active bank-note circulation we add the circulation of the Queensland Treasurynotes then in the hands of the public, we have a total bank-note circulation, apart from Commonwealth Treasury notes, of £5,247,794. It is abundantly evident that the bank-notes of the Commonwealth are not more popular than the former bank notes were. Yet the Treasurer, with a sense of humour, puts it that “ The Bank Notes Act is working satisfactorily.” If that is the sort of satisfaction that the Treasurer likes to have a record of, let him have it ; but the statement seems to me to be little less than absurd. The fact is that the note is not as popular as we expected it to be.
– Is the honorable senator sorry for that?
– What is the use of asking questions about sorrows and joys in a matter of this kind ? It is a fact to be regretted that our Commonwealth note issue has not attained the success that was anticipated for it by honorable senators opposite.
– There may be a conspiracy by the private banks against the note issue.
– No conspiracy on earth can stop the effective circulation of coin, or of paper which is as good as coin. The fact of the matter is that the people themselves have not that confidence in the note issue which was loudly attributed to them. It is curious to inquire what the reasons are that the notes are not going into circulation as we expected them to do. I have always admitted, personally, that a paper currency, soundly based upon gold, and well managed, is a great convenience to the public; and I venture to express the opinion, on my own behalf, that it is regrettable that the people of Australia use so much gold instead of using more paper currency. I believe that gold is more effective, both as a metal and as coin, when it is held in the banks than when it is in people’s pockets. Australians use more gold currency than any people on earth. Senator Millen mentions to me that they also use cheques very freely ; but the important fact is that they carry gold in their pockets as coinage more freely than do people elsewhere. I wish all success to a paper currency well based and well managed. I am certainly no enemy to it. I wish that our people used paper as freely as do the people of France and the United States. In France, if you want gold, you have to buy it. When you buy it with paper, you have to pay a premium for it.
– What a row the honorable senator would raise if that were proposed here.
– The honorable senator does not know whether I should oppose such a proposal or not. I am inclined to think that legislative means might judiciously be devised which would encourage, without compelling, people to use more paper - even if it were Commonwealth paper - than they do now. But the fact remains that the much-vaunted Commonwealth note issue is not going as we expected it to go. There must be some reason for that.
– The honorable senator’s party have done their best to discredit the note issue in the country.
– My party can answer for their own sins. I have not disparaged a paper currency. What we have endeavoured to do is to see that any paper currency we have shall be based upon a sufficient working margin of gold. What reason can be given as to why the paper currency does not circulate as freely as we should like? I think it is to be found in the vapourings often and freely indulged in by honorable senators opposite, and even by the Prime Minister himself. The Prime Minister has described the idea that a paper currency displaces gold as “ a fad,” and he comforts himself with the remark that we are a gold producing nation. Now there is such a thing as Gresham’s law of money, and the Prime Minister wantonly flies in the face of that law when he enunciates such an idea. Gresham’s law is, in substance, that whenever you adopt a baser currency the less base currency tends to disappear. If you try to make silver the currency of a country by rushing it into circulation, gold tends to disappear. If you try to make paper do the work which gold and silver have been in the habit of doing, silver and gold tend to disappear. That law holds good everywhere, and is accepted by competent financial authorities all over the world. The Prime Minister, however, has not the slightest hesitation in flying in the face of it. I think the Prime Minister also said, as to university professors; that no doubt they could speak with authority on matters relating to science and history, and could teach the workers something as to them; but that there was one thing as to which the workers could teach the university professors, and that was as to the laws of economics. If the Prime Minister’s disregard of Gresham’s law is an illustration of his capacity to teach political economy to university professors, I take the liberty to doubt whether he will ever be able to make people regard him seriously. I also doubt whether, if he disregards Gresham’s law in this fashion, he will be able to promote an effective note circulation in this country. There is nothing as to which people are so susceptible, and so liable to take panic - often unreasonably and unduly - as their currency. We all like to know that there is gold at the back of our paper which is forthcoming if we want it. When a remark like that which I have quoted from the Prime Minister is circulated, the common sense of the people leads them to distrust a note issue which is under the control of a man entertaining such ideas. I have also read that many honorable senators opposite have proclaimed that when they came into power every housewife would have £5 or so every week. Indeed, I think it was the Prime Minister himself who said so.
– A few pounds.
– The Prime Minister made no such statement.
– Some one of importance on the other side did ‘make the remark.
– Will the honorable senator mention who made it?
– As far as my memory serves me, it was the Prime Minister.
– The honorable senator is quite right. Mr. Fisher made the statement.
– He never did.
– I disclaim any intention of crediting or discrediting Mr. Fisher with a statement of the kind if he did not make it.
– Will the honorable senator mention one of our party who did ?
- Mr. Fisher did.
– He did not. He made no such statement.
– The newspapers said he did.
– - The newspapers said nothing of the sort, and Senator St. Ledger cannot mention any of our party who said such a thing.
– At all events, such a thing was said. My memory of such matters is pretty good, and it was strongly impressed upon my mind that the statement was a serious one for a man in the Prime Minister’s position to make.
– Does the honorable senator still say that Mr. Fisher made the statement ?
– I think so. I do not think it is right for an honorable senator to press me. I may be wrong ; we are all liable to make errors. But I think it was the Prime Minister who made such a statement. When the Commonwealth Bank was inaugurated it was an- nounced by the Minister of Home Affairs - who may be called the creator of the bank to some extent - that after the bank was instituted farmers and others would be able to go to it and get advances without being any longer sweated and ground down as they were by ordinary private banks. He claimed that commercial development through the Commonwealth Bank would be assisted by large advances at a cheap rate. If there is any honorable senator opposite who entertains the delusion that any Government can lend out money in advances of that kind at cheaper rates than can ordinary banks, I can only say that they have not read with sufficient care the history of such transactions. In nearly every case where a Government has stood behind such transactions either as mortgagor or - as has sometimes been the case when a Government has been compelled to take the position - as mortgagee, there has been a continuous record of disaster. When people are led to believe by inference that Commonwealth paper is to be flung broadcast in that way no wonder they are chary of holding Commonwealth notes to too large an extent. I think that is one of the real reasons why our paper is not going. I believe that the other side, and, with all respect to him, the Prime Minister himself, are doing more to damn our own currency than all the Opposition can say or do. I pass on to paragraph 10 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, which reads in these terms -
Royal Commissions to inquire into and report upon the conditions existing in the Sugar, Fruit, and Pearling Industries have been appointed, and are now engaged in pursuing their inquiries.
So far as the Sugar Commission is concerned, the reverse of what that paragraph says is the exact fact, because the Sugar Commission itself is being inquired into by the Law Courts, and promises to be the subject of inquiry by them for a long time to come. It does not seem to be able to get away to inquire into anything. The tomb, or the bog, into which it has got was predicted by this side. Its composition was such as to almost force that result. The whole Commission has allowed itself to be dragged into a Serbonian bog of legal technicalities and inquiries by the Law Courts. It has so dragged itself along, and allowed itself to become a sort of battledore and shuttlecock affair that what
Daniel O’Connell said of the Dublin Corporation may be pretty well applied : Tt has not now’ a body worth kicking nor a soul to be damned.
– Do you lay that at the door of this Government?
– My honorable friends almost invited that result. I concur absolutely with the criticism of my leader,- that its composition was so partisan that the desire seemed to be to appoint a Commission which would find a verdict in spite of the evidence. I desire now to refer to another administrative blunder, and a grave one, indeed. It is not like the other blunders to which I have already referred, partaking much of the nature of a crime, but it is a grievous blunder, and that is the abandonment of the Vancouver mail service. The Senate is aware that this was a service in which the people of New South Wales and Queensland, especially the latter State, and probably, if you like, the whole of the electors in the eastern States, were very much interested. It is almost a matter of history that, time and again, when negotiations for the continuance of the service were proceeding, we were assured that certainly the interests of Queensland would be conserved, that the people of that State could rely upon the Government seeing that full justice was done to them; but we have been grievously disappointed. Some time last year. I happened to receive certain information which was of a more or less confidential nature, and authoritative, and, apart from that, it had, in the long run, the superior merit of being absolutely correct. It was to the effect that the Canadian Government were tired of the prolonged negotiations which they were forced into with the Commonwealth Government, and had practically sent an ultimatum to the latter body to make up their mind and say whether or not they would give a subsidy for the Vancouver service. I believe that the amount was stated. The Government knew, as some of us knew privately, that it was a matter of £60,000 odd. Negotiations were prolonged. We were called in by Mr. Thomas, the Postmaster-General, time and again. On one occasion, perhaps on more than one occasion, he gave us information. Some of it was confidential, and, of course, the confidence was respected. The sum and substance of these conferences was that we were always told that we could rest assured that Queensland was not going to be left out, and that her interests would be attended to. I ventured to throw out, and I believe it is recorded in Hansard, a sort of hint that we were being deceived ; and once, at a deputation, when the matter under discussion was whether this service should be continued on the deep blue sea or should go to the care of His Satanic Majesty, I said that it was going to the care of His Satanic Majesty. It has gone there.
– Has it?
– Or let us hope to a better place. ‘ At any rate, it is not on the deep blue sea, as it ought to have been. I think we have sufficient reason to say that the late Postmaster-General, and, to some extent, the Prime Minister, did not deal fairly and openly with the people of Queensland. The share which the Commonwealth was asked to contribute to the service was known to the Government, and it was only a question of terms. I believe the amount at issue was £60,000 odd. The Government of the day played with us - I use the word advisedly - and left us with the belief that almost anything would happen but the abandonment of this service. Yet it has disappeared. I should like to have an explanation from the Government as to why, in the face of repeated professions made both inside and outside Parliament, that the interests of Queensland and New South Wales would be safeguarded, this service has disappeared? If it was only a matter of finding £60,000, may. I mention that the Government have a surplus of over £2,000,000. They professed to be earnestly desirous of developing our trade in the Pacific ; and, not.withstanding that we had a service to Vancouver, they said, in effect, that, for the sake of £60,000, that service had to be abandoned. I take this opportunity of pointing out what has been pointed out to us by far more competent authorities - that the trade of the Pacific ought to be ours, and that we ought to be a dominant, or, at any rate, a prominent factor in the trade, and that the trade is worth subsidizing to some extent. The Queensland Government, and, subsequently, the New South Wales Government, for years paid a very large amount as compared with the direct return, and paid it when they could barely spare it, in the hope of future developments taking place. We had a right to expect that the Government, which at the time the renewal of the Vancouver service was asked tor had an overflowing Treasury, would have made good their word to the people ot Queensland. The subsidy which is given by Germany, France, and, I believe, by Holland, for the trade of the Pacific and the South Seas is very much greater. I believe that the Governments of those countries give, on the average, 6s. or 7s. per ton more than the British Government give for subsidies to shipping, and they also give a great deal more than the Commonwealth Government or any Government in Australia have ever given by way of subsidies to steam-ships to develop the trade of the Pacific. Again, the opening of the Panama Canal will revolutionize a good many of our trade communications, lt is of paramount importance to the Commonwealth that we should make a bid, in order to get the trade of the Pacific. Should China awake and subsidize steam-ships as Japan is doing, and the trade of the Pacific, or a large proportion of it get into their hands, it will be difficult for us to retrieve our position. Every day that we are out of the Pacific, especially towards Vancouver and the Panama, will make it more difficult to get the trade back and hold it in the face of increasing competition. It is of great industrial importance that we should have communication with Canada and the United States, and, through the Panama canal, with the eastern coast. Yet the Commonwealth Government, with millions of money to spare, allowed the Vancouver service to disappear, giving us no indication as to whether they would make any attempt to originate such a service or give to Queensland and New South Wales, and to the eastern States generally, the equivalent of the service which they had formerly enjoyed. This action on the part of the Government is a blunder. It is an injustice, especially to Queensland. It is not at all consistent with their oft- repeated professions to the people of Queensland. To say that this service, continued by the same route, would not ultimately pay its way is to furnish evidence of a failure to realize the possibilities of future trade in the PaCcific. Furthermore, we are always preaching reciprocity of trade with New Zealand and Canada, and, possibly, with the United States. Are these merely pious professions? What is the good of the Government talking about a desire to develop trade between countries by fiscal preferences, and then, in the next breath, so to speak, blowing off the only service we had between two great Dominions in the Em- pire? One thing is entirely inconsistent with the other. I have so often had occasion to use the word “ pharisaical “ that probably it will bore the Senate if I use it again; but I will put it as absolutely inconsistent with that pious profession of a desire to realize the importance of preferential trade and the development of the trade of the Pacific. I feel quite confident that the Commonwealth Government can now infinitely better afford to give £60,000 for the establishment of a new and important steam service between Australia and Vancouver than Queensland and New South Wales could offer to find the £23,000 or £25,000 per annum which they paid from 1893 up to 1905.
– And never developed any trade worth speaking of.
– If this had been a South Australian service nothing would have exceeded the glow of the picture which my honorable friend would have painted as to the possibilities of development for South Australia in the Northern Territory. Had it been a subsidized service from Port Adelaide to Port Darwin how eloquently the honorable senator would have described its potentialities.
– We have not the cheek to ask for it.
– When I refer to a service from the eastern coast which brought the Commonwealth into touch with a far away Dominion, Senator Guthrie has nothing but contempt for it. The honorable senator must be aware that every nation is now beginning to compete for the Pacific trade. It is worth while paying something to secure it, and we should have a share in it. If we do not secure it shortly we shall not be likely to get it at all. If the Government do not take immediate steps to reinstate the Vancouver service, or provide an equivalent for it, we shall find that the commercial community, not merely of Queensland, but of the whole of the eastern States, will demand that something shall be done in this direction, or that the Government shall be turned out of office. I propose to refer briefly now to the illusions of honorable members opposite as to the operation of the Federal land tax. In paragraph 9 of the Governor-General’s Speech I find the statement -
Although there has been a very marked increase in the volume of oversea immigration to which the land tax and general policy of my Advisers has largely contributed- and so on. I should like to have been able to see the face of the author of the Speech when that paragraph was being written. It is beyond dispute that land is no cheaper to-day in Australia than it was before the imposition of the land tax. On the contrary, everywhere we go we find evidence of a rise in the value of lands whether they are bought privately or through some State agency. Setting aside the question of whether it has had the effect of breaking up large estates, or of promoting settlement - and I do not believe that it has had any material effect in either direction - the fact is that two-thirds of the land tax is being paid by the workers of Australia. They now know what it is worth to them. They have learned that they were deceived. The artisans of our cities have had the Federal land tax passed on to their backs. There are a hundred workers for every single wealthy landowner who are to-day bearing the burden of this tax.
– Owing to the harpies amongst the landlords.
– Nonsense! I make these allusions to the Federal land tax for the purpose of drawing attention to what might be called a general law of finance, which seems never’ to have been heard of by the other side, or, if heard of, has been entirely disregarded by them. Every attempt made to levy taxation upon a special class in a community must fail, because, in spite of all legislative provisions, taxation is more or less evenly distributed over the whole community. Just as water will find its own level, so every kind of tax - income tax, graduated or otherwise ; land tax, graduated or otherwise ; and kindred taxes - seems, by the operation of an economic law, to become evenly distributed. One of the great reasons which induced the workers,, and the farmers also, I admit, to support the Federal land tax, was that they were invited to believe that it would fall as a special tax upon a certain class in the community. Deluded by their false leaders, and their false economics, they gave an overwhelming support to the proposal on that ground. It is now evident that at least the farmers -throughout Australia have realized, although, perhaps, they could not express it as I have done, the working of the economic law to which I have referred.
– It was the political aspect of the tax which they were thinking of.
– It was a fine piece of political workmanship in more senses than one by which the workers and the farmers were deluded. The workers of Australia, although they might be unable to .express it in the language of a university professor, have also realized that the burden of this taxation has’1 largely fallen upon their shoulders. On this account demands are being made upon the Labour Governments for the establishment of tenements of which the State shall be the landlord. The last stage of the matter is likely to be worse than the first, and the artisan class are likely to feel the burden of such taxation most heavily.
– They ultimately have to carry every tax.
– If that be so, how is it that we so often hear of .exemptions in Labour programmes of ‘taxation? It is a delusion to fancy that there is any exemption, or that it is possible to materially alter the incidence of taxation of this kind, I think that the workers of Australia, and some of the farmers, have deserved the object lesson which they have been given. They have found out that it is a dangerous thing to tinker with taxation ‘schemes in the belief that certain taxes will be borne only by a special class. I conclude with the hope with which the Governor- General’s Speech concluded, namely, that our deliberations will be conducive to the welfare of -the country. I believe that this criticism, and criticism of a similar character which has been directed against the Government, will be of benefit to the country. The misfortunes we have suffered, especially in the industrial arena, show what must follow attempts at class legislation. The less we have of the practice of setting class against class the better it will be for the welfare of the community. I make these remarks with special reference to the Government because they have just emerged from one of the most unfortunate, and, as regards the Strike Committee, one of the most discreditable exhibitions of class hatred in the arena of industry that we ever had in Australia. I regret that instead of acting as arbitrators in the matter, and as instruments of conciliation and pacification, the Government adopted the role of partisans, and intensified the class strife which it was their duty, as it is the duty of every member of this Parliament, to endeavour to lessen in every way.
– I am one of those who believe that the debate on the AddressinReply is a waste of time. I agree with the statement which appeared in one of the newspapers the other day, and look forward to the appearance of some strong statesmen who will do away with all these flummeries of Parliament. But one or two remarks were made by the Leaderof the Opposition to which Ithink it is my duty to reply. I was very much disappointed with the honorable senator’s speech. I expected to hear something fresh, but I had listened to the same old speech two or three times in the Werriwa district.
– Did the honorable senator hear me speak two or three times?
– I heard the honorable senator speak twice.
– Then the honorable senator had a liberal education.
– The honorable senator wished to have me put out of the hall in which he was speaking. He accused me of disturbing his meeting, though I never said a word.
– No, but the honorable senator put up another man to disturb the meeting.
– The man who disturbed the honorable senator’s meeting has forgotten more about politics than Senator Millen ever knew. He is a political encyclopaedia. I could teach him nothing, and I could not tell him what to interject.
– I did not say that the honorable senator was teaching him, but that he was prompting him.
– I denied at the time thatI was prompting him. I would not think of doing such a thing. I know that many years ago when I was a young man I interrupted a meeting, and I was landed out on my head - I have never forgotten that - and the police were waiting. I was surprised to hear the honorable senator talk about the writing on the wall. I do not know what wall it was. It must have been the sailor’s brand - a notice to go. I know that the’ honorable senator got notice three years ago that he was going to his political death, and that is the only writing I could see on the wall. He told his audience of little incidents that had taken place since the last Federal elec tion, but he did not record them quitecorrectly. He always said too little or too much in describing them. After twenty years’ political experience I do not think the honorable senator has a single mark on the Avail to his credit. He has made assertions that are incorrect, and in some instances absolutely unfair. I think it only right that I should say a few words in defence of certain gentlemen whom he has adversely criticised. In one instance he spoke of a gentleman appointed to a certain position as a second-class man. This was said of a man whose boots the honorable senator is not fit to brush so far as their relative intelligence is concerned. It is unfair for any man to stand behind his parliamentary privilege and say such things of men who are better than himself.
– I did not stand behind any parliamentary privilege. I said what I had to say on a public platform.
– The honorable senator has said a great many things. Speaking of the gentleman in question, he said in his speech on the AddressinReply
If any criticism were required of the Government Bank, which although nominally started, merely has an office and an office boy somewhere, it is supplied by the failure of the Prime Minister to get a first-class banker to take charge of the institution, notwithstanding that he was willing to pay almost any salary, and by the fact that, after waiting six months, he was obliged to accept the services of a second-rate man.
– From what is the honorable senator quoting?
– I amquoting from Hansard.
– I did not say that Mr. Miller was a second-rate man.
– We heard the honorable senator say so.
– I will read the quotation again for Senator Millen’s edification, if he desires it. There are some newspapers in Sydney which support the present Government, and assist them in every possible way. They’ publish both sides of any question, but generally it is the same side which is put in each newspaper. It was so on this occasion. Both of these journals declare that Mr. Miller is a firstclass man.
– No, they do not.
– They do. One of them states -
Mr. Denison Samuel King Miller, first manager of the Commonwealth Bank, is 52 years of age, having been born on 8th March, 1860, at Fairy Meadow, near Wollongong.
That is a good thing. Mr. Miller is an Australian. If the Government had gone to some other part of the world to select a man for the position to which he has been appointed, no doubt it would have been all right. The journal in question continues -
He is a son of the late Mr. S. K. Miller, a teacher under the Department of Public Instruction in this State.
Mr. Miller entered the service of the Bank of New South Wales in 1876, at Deniliquin, where his father was at the time the headmaster of the public school. In 1882 he was transferred to the head office. About 1893 he was promoted to the position of assistant accountant. Two years later he succeeded to the post of accountant, though he was but thirty-five years of age. Whilst holding that office he obtained considerable Inter-State experience, on one occasion taking charge of the Western Australia business. In 1890, Mr. Miller was promoted as assistant general manager. In due course the office was altered in name to general manager’s inspector, and then to metropolitan inspector. Amongst the banking men of the State, Mr. Miller stands in high esteem. He has been a prominent member of the Banking Institute for some years, holding the position of treasurer since its formation. He has assisted the Hospital Saturday movement very materially, and was not long ago created a life governor of the Sydney Hospital and the Children’s Hospital.
Mr. Miller, who lives at Cliffbrook, Coogee, only recently returned from a trip round the world, extending over twelve months. It was while he was in Melbourne on his way back to Sydney from this trip that he was approached by Mr. Fisher on the subject of the Commonwealth Bank. “Naturally,” Mr. Miller says, “I did not make up my mind in a minute. I considered the question very, very carefully. But it is perfectly true to say’ that a fortnight ago I had not the least notion that the post was going to be offered to me.”
– From what newspaper is the honorable senator quoting?
– From the Sydney Morning Herald. The Sydney Daily Telegraph also says -
Mr. Denison S. K. Miller, who has been appointed Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, is at present chief metropolitan inspector in Sydney of the Bank of New South Wales. Mr. Miller, whose ability is of the highest, began his banking career at Deniliquin in 1876, his father, the late Mr. S. K. Miller, being located there as head master of the public school. Six years later he came to head office, Sydney, and worked his way through the various departments. In 1895, Mr. Miller, then thirty-five years of age, became accountant at headquarters. Later, his experience extended to inspections in South Australia and Victoria, and, in addition, he took charge of the West Australian section of the bank for a time. His next move was to the position of assistant to the general manager at Sydney. A little later he went to the position he at present occupies, and from which he will retire in order to take up the big task of establishing the Commonwealth Bank. Mr. Miller was one of the founders of the Institute of Bankers of New South Wales.
So that, if by any unfortunate circumstances, the general manager of that institution had been called away, Mr. Miller would have had charge of the leading bank in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– We know that it is very difficult for a man employed in a banking institution to reach the topmost rung of the ladder at the age of Mr. Miller. 11 that gentleman had entered some other walk of life probably he would have reached the top earlier than he has done. But the bank with which he was associated thought so much of him that it actually sent him on a twelve months trip through Great Britain, Canada, and America for the purpose of fully inquiring into the banking and savings bank systems in the principal cities ‘there. He was given the fullest facilities for gaining the latest information regarding the working of the same. Having quoted the statements of two journals published in Sydney, which are supporters of the Government, I now propose to make an extract from the Australian Insurance and Banking Record of 21st May of the present year. That journal, in referring to Mr. Miller’s appointment, says -
The quest for a Governor of the Commonwealth Bank has at last been crowned with success, the Prime Minister, in the exercise of the absolute power devolved upon him by the Caucus, having appointed to the position Mr. D. S. K. Miller, chief metropolitan inspector in Sydney of the Bank of New South Wales. In itself, the appointment is an excellent one, for Mr. Miller will beyond doubt carry into the service he has consented to enter, the conscientiousness, the devotion to duty, and the capacity for organization that he has displayed throughout his banking career. The appointment is, moreover, a guarantee that within the scope of the powers conferred upon the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, the methods and practices adopted will be sound and prudent. Mr. Miller’s recent visit to Europe and America, and his inquiries into what may be called the machinery of banking, add to his qualifications for the position.
Possibly the daily newspapers have made too much fuss over the delay in theappointment of the Governor. It was to be expected that the difficulty of finding the right man, and of arranging terms with him would prove to be a serious one. The necessary qualifications are great and numerous. The Governor will have to establish principal offices in all the States, select and organize the staffs, set up or advise in the establishment of a London branch, and arrange for correspondents in every important country. He must have a perfect knowledge of exchange operations, which means an intimate acquaintance with the monetary systems of the world, the moral courage to prohibit the granting of loans without security, a blissful practice desired by many of the Labour voters, and the ability to attract deposits in a proper and legitimate manner. In short, by his accomplishments and personality, the Governor has to inspire confidence. In every respect, therefore, the appointment of Mr. Miller is satisfactory.
I do not suppose that even Senator Millen, who so far forgot himself as. to designate Mr. Miller a “ second-rate “ man, will have the temerity to affirm that the journal which I have quoted would publish that account of Mr. Miller if it were not correct. The Leader of the Opposition also declared that Mr. Miller was now receiving three times the salary which he had been paid in his former position. He added that Mr. Miller’s salary was .even larger than that of the Railways Commissioner of New South Wales. I think that it ought to be. Indeed, it would have paid the New South Wales Government to have sent its chief Railways Commissioner back to the country from whence he came with his salary. If the importations that we get for other important positions are of the same class it does not redound to the credit of those who desire to sit upon Australians. I say that Mr. Miller is a competent officer. Senator Millen, as a land agent in New South Wales, earned more in a single day than Mr. Miller will earn in a month It is upon record that the former received a thousand pounds for a few minutes work. I am. not going to say that he should not have received it, but I do say that he ought not to disparage a man because he is getting a fair salary. The banks in Australia are the greatest sweating institutions in the land. They pay men who have to handle thousands of pounds daily the miserable salary of £120 per annum. I hope the officers in the Commonwealth Bank will receive an adequate salary for the services which they render. I come now to Senator Millen’s statement in regard to the appointment of Mr. Clarke to the position of Director of Agriculture in the Northern Territory. The honorable senator said -
I venture to say that Mr. Clarke, whilst he has proved an excellent office man, has shown no capacity - indeed, he has had no opportunity of showing his capacity - and has had no experience to fit him for the class of work that he is called upon to undertake.
I had the pleasure of Mr. Clarke’s company for a few days in the Northern Territory, when we traversed some of the finest country that I ever saw. He then gave me to understand that he was reared upon the land, and had every qualification to fit him for his office. He has had literary experience, academic experience of agricultural matters, and upon inquiry I ascertained not only that he is a practical farmer, but that his brothers and relations are all upon the land. Before Senator Millen made the statement which he did, he should at least have taken the precaution to institute inquiries as to Mr. Clarke’s fitness for his present position. I believe that he is the best officer the Government could have chosen. He is a young Australian, and is full of life and energy. He has laid himself out to make leasehold settlement in the Territory productive. If that can be done at all he will do it. I compliment the Government upon his appointment. There is just one other matter that I should like to mention. Perhaps there is no honorable senator who is better acquainted with the case to which I am about to refer than I am. In the course of his remarks, on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, Senator Millen said -
There we have had the notorious case of a Ministry, for the first time in the history of constitutional government in ‘ this country, as far as I am aware, absolutely dispensing with the services of a member of the Water and Sewerage Board - Mr. Garrard - and placing upon it instead a gentleman whose only claim seems to be that he had been chairman of Mr. McGowen’s election committee.
I wish to say that that is an absolutely incorrect statement, as no man should have known better than Senator Millen himself. The New South Wales Government have not dispensed with the services of Mr. Garrard. He was appointed for a certain period. The Board is constituted of two members who are nominees of the Government, whilst the rest are elected by the councils of the city and adjoining suburbs. Mr. Garrard was appointed to the office of President of the Board for a term of four years. He served his term, and a better man was put in his place by the Government of the day, which was not a Labour Government. Then Mr. Garrard was again placed on the Board as an ordinary member. His term expired, and he was appointed once more. He has, therefore, had three terms of four years each, to which he had no more right than any other- citizen.
His final term having expired, he goes out of office, and the Government have appointed another man, as they had every right to do. Mr. Garrard’s appointment, in the first instance, was purely and simply political. He was once a Labour man, but deserted our cause, and went over to the other side. When he was defeated in his constituency he was appointed to this Board by the Liberal Government of the day. The appointment was made purely for political reasons, though we did not complain about it. Now, however, his term is up, and a man has been appointed who, in my opinion, is more competent. Senator Millen is, or ought to have been, aware of these facts. I believe that he knows as much about the matter as I do, and is well aware that his statement was not correct.
– In any case, what has the matter to do with the Federal Government ?
– It has nothing to do with the Federal Government, but as Senator Millen’s statements are on record I thought it just as well to answer them. Mr. Garrard is a personal friend of mine, and I have nothing to say against him. He worked with me years ago in an engineer’s shop, and when he had done his eight hours’ work he attended his place in Parliament at night. He was either the first or the second Labour man elected in New South Wales, and he has been a trades unionist all his life. I think he is president of the Trades Hall Building Trustees today, and no man has taken more interest in the building than he has. I make no complaint against him, but I maintain that the New South Wales Government had every right to appoint another man if they chose. I should like to say a few words with re gard to the Northern Territory. As far as I can see, the appointments made by the Government there have been anything but partisan. Certainly one gentleman has been appointed to the head of the Railway service who is no friend of the Government. He goes about the Territory denouncing Ministers and members of Parliament. I heard him at Darwin, with a crowd around him, denouncing this Government and everything connected with it. He has every right to hold those opinions if he likes, though I do think that a man in his position ought, at all events, to be more discreet. But I do not think that that appointment can be said to have a partisan character. As to the gentleman appointed to the position of Director of the Territory, I can say, from what I saw of him, that I believe him to be the right man in the right place. He holds the same opinions as I do as to the capabilities of the Territory. Some members of the House of Representatives went on a visit to the Territory during the recess, and I joined them. Every member of the party had the same opportunities of seeing the country as I had, but some were either too lazy or too tired to take the trouble to go about much. After we had made one trip to the Katharine River, another journey was organized to the Daly, but Mr. Ozanne and myself were the only two members of the party who undertook the journey. We saw there some of the finest country I ever saw in my life. I never thought that there was such beautifully watered and richly productive country in Australia. I observe that a gentleman who has a seat in the other House said that he had not full opportunities of seeing all he desired. Evidently he was too tired to go on this expedition, for he had the same opportunities as I had. Professor Gilruth is, in my opinion, an admirable man for the position of Administrator. I do not think that a better one could have been found. He is a scientific man, and his knowledge with reference to animal life and diseases will be of great assistance, for the prevalence of these diseases is one of the great drawbacks to advancement in the Territory. Professor Gilruth has the necessary skill to diagnose such cases, and to discover the proper treatment for them. If his scientific skill can get rid of or minimize horse and cattle diseases, the benefit to the Territory will be enormous. While I was there one thing that struck me more forcibly than anything else was the manner in which the whole of the business of the place has drifted into the hands of the Asiatics. When we arrived at Darwin the Administrator, in his democratic way, inaugurated a garden party to welcome us. He did not, in the orthodox fashion of Governors, send out blue and white tickets to distinguish between different classes of visitors, but made no distinction whatever. He simply notified that he would like the residents of Darwin to meet the Minister and members of Parliament, and they came along at the appointed time. There were people of all colours there - blacks, yellows, whites, browns, pie-balds, skew-balds, and all sorts and descriptions ; some dressed up in their best, some wearing dress coats, and some with no coats at all.
Everybody was there. When one looks at the population of this place one realizes what might have been the condition of the southern States except for the advanced legislation passed years ago. The main street of Darwin is the most squalid, contemptible place I ever saw. The business is entirely in the hands of Chinese and Syrians, or other Asiatic peoples. They have captured the whole place. Some of the Chinese were born in the Territory. A number of Chinese and half-caste children came down to meet us, singing, “ God save the King ! “ It was very nice, of course, and I have nothing to say to the detriment of these people. They are there, and we have to hail them as brothers as long as they are there. But we must take care that no more of that class come into the Territory. After I came back, I had some controversy with a gentleman, in the Sydney newspapers, with regard to the climate of the Territory. Some people contend that it could only be populated by alien races. Dr. Arthur made a statement to that effect, and we have another gentleman lecturing in England contending that the Northern Territory can only be developed “by coloured labour. I rejoice, however, to think that this Government will do its duty, and is determined to keep Australia white. I say that white men can thrive there. On the Daly River I made the acquaintance of two young men who went without assistance to the Territory, and now have one of the finest farms it was ever my good fortune to see. They grow magnificent maize, and their only trouble is that they cannot get their produce to market. Directly the Government see their way to make roads, or to improve water communication, I have no doubt that the settlers in the Territory will do well. It will become one of the greatest sugar-cane growing districts in Australia. They have cane growing on the Daly flats which has reached a height of 12 feet in four months. We are told by some sugar experts that the rain -descends too heavily at particular times for the sugar crops, and that sugar requires periods of dry weather between the periods of rainfall. I have no doubt, however, that sugar-growing will be successfully accomplished. The dews are so heavy that even when rain does not fall they are suffiCient to produce good crops. When the grass grows very high, and is burnt down by the settlers, the result of the dews is -that, within a week after burning, beautiful green grass springs up again. We are told that the grass is not good for cattle, because it is too coarse. Of course it is when it grows to a great height, but it fs wholesome and fattening when it is young. At present there is not sufficient stock fo eat it down. I thoroughly commend the Government for the appointments which they have made in the Territory. I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition has not ventured to tell us what his party would be prepared to do if they got into office at the next election. Senator Millen professes to believe that they will obtain power. He has not told us whether they would repeal the Socialistic legislation of which we have heard so much. We have not heard a word on that subject, but have simply been treated to the abuse of the administration of the Government. I do not think that the administration has been of the very best. I am not altogether satisfied with it. In fact, I am very much dissatisfied. But the policy of the Government is good, and the measures that they have placed on the statute-book are those which the people of Australia put them in office to pass. There never has been a Government that has not been guilty of some foolish acts of administration. I am not altogether satisfied with the administration of the Defence Department. I fear that the Department is putting up too great a barrier against the freedom of the people. The day may come when the youths who are being trained to-day will refuse to be used as they are being used by the upstart officers who are training them. The day may come - it ma)’ be distant - when the’ people will insist on reversing the decision of Parliament in the matter of compulsory training. I say that we are building up a sort of army which. is between a permanent army and militia. We have volunteers who are being trained by permanent men. The Government in their administration of the Defence Department are making a mistake. I intend, at a later period, to speak still further on that matter, but will not do so to-night. I think that the Leader of the Opposition, with his great political experience, should have given us an idea of how his party would like to rule the Commonwealth. But they have not done that. They have simply alluded to acts of administration by the Government. They have allowed their womenfolk to formulate a programme for their guidance when they get into power. I beli?ve that the womenfolk have sent to the Parliamentary party the programme which they desire to have translated into legislative Acts next session. It has been handed to me by a friend, and I believe that the information is more reliable than was that of Senator Millen when he made the charges against the Government. The programme includes -
Introduction into Australia of indentured coloured labour.
Repeal of the Federal Arbitration Act.
Repeal of the Commonwealth Bank Act.
Repeal of the Australian Notes Act.
Amendment of the Defence Act to dispense with compulsory training.
Amendment of the Old-age and Invalid Pensions Act to reduce expenditure.
– To do these ladies justice, they have more courage than the members of the Opposition possess.
– That is what I am trying to say. I believe that this is the programme which the ladies have formulated and sent along to my honorable friends opposite.
– Is the honorable senator serious when he says that he believes that?
– I am always serious ; I was never more serious in my life than I am at this moment.
– From what document is the honorable senator quoting?
– He is quoting the fruit of his imagination.
– It is like the honorable senator’s imagination.
– I am here longer than the honorable senator is.
– I dare say that the honorable senator has been here longer than I have been; but he may not be here as long as I shall be. Although he has been for a long time in the State Parliament and this Parliament, I have not seen one thought of his placed on the statute-book. I may not do any better; but he has not one Act opposite to his name, so far as I know, and I have watched his career fairly well, though he has something opposite to his name which I would not like to have opposite to mine. We have also had other men forgetting their social positions so far as to abuse this Government and condemn their acts. We had them only so late as last week inSydney applying to this Government and their legislation terms which they ought to have kept to themselves. They ought to strike out in a different direction. They ought to follow the example of the religious men in America., who are trying to do good by legislation for tens of thousands of men. They would do well, in the clerical line, to follow the dictates’ of that great man in America who said -
Let’s quit talking and go to work. Let’s do all the evangelizing we can, but let us wake up the men of America until they will abolish childlabour, tear down fire-traps, shut up tenements that have bad sewerage, bad ventilation, insufficient light. Let’s arouse the religious spirit throughout this nation until all the children in every city have playgrounds, until public opinion closes immoral shows, until employers and employes alike are compelled by public sentiment to treat each other fairly; until the divorce epidemic is checked, and the integrity of American family life is once more assured.
That is the programme of the Christian men of America to-day. That is the programme of the Labour party in Australia to-day. That is what we desire, and I would advise those who have attacked us in the manner in which they have done to follow the lead of those men in America, and let their religious instruction go in a way which will be good for the community, which will be good for the oppressed, and will help to make useful citizens of those who have not the wherewithal to do much for themselves.
– As the members of the Opposition do not seem inclined to continue the debate, I shall offer a few words in reply to what has been said. This unexpected closing of the debate has taken me somewhat unawares. We have had only two speeches from the other side, although they pro’ mised us a most strenuous criticism of the Government.
– Have you not had enough ?
– It is rather pleasing to find that on the one question on which, in another place, the Government were to some extent condemned, and that is the failure of the Government, during the recess, to send troops to Queensland, the two speakers from the other side - the Leader of the Opposition and Senator St. Ledger - have shown by their silence that they are in sympathy with the action of the Government.
– When we do speak, you object to our criticism, and when we do not you take an objection.
– I simply take it that in this instance silence gives consent. I do not believe that these two honorable senators join in that hungry cry for blood of which we heard so much in the other House. I do not believe that if they had occupied Mr. Fisher’s position they, would have sent troops to Queensland when they were asked for.
– What are you trying for?
– I am trying to find out what the opinions of my honorable friends are, if they have any. I am trying to test their courage by getting an expression of opinion from. them. I am pleased that, on the great constitutional question, they have no fault to find with the Government.’ It is rather pleasing that, in the Senate at any rate, no member of the Opposition has shown a desire to express disapproval of the action of the Government. I am very pleased with that .position, because, no’ matter what may be the clamour of the press, no matter what may be the clamour of certain politicians who have no responsibility to discharge, or who represent constituencies so safe that they are allowed pretty well a free hand, we have only to look at the management of workers by the best men who have had to deal with difficult industrial troubles, to find that the safest way is to give a fair amount of latitude, and not to adopt the method of trying, by the display of force, to drive men into submission in one direction or the other. This afternoon Senator St. Ledger, in trying to defend the attitude of Mr. Badger-
– I did not.
– I am pleased to hear the honorable senator say that he does not defend the attitude of Mr. Badger.
– He is not in the issue, but you are.
– If the honorable senator was not defending the attitude of a gentleman about whom he had a good deal to say this afternoon, and whose one act was responsible for the strike in Brisbane, and that is the act, according to his sworn testimony in the Arbitration Court, of discharging’ nine men because they turned up to work wearing the badge of their organization - if the honorable senator was not defending his attitude it appeared so to une.
– Was that a justification for calling out the forty-two unions?
– Yes, when the liberties of working men were attacked in that manner. The honorable senator cannot pretend not to understand what was happening at that time.
– I do understand it.
– A plaint had been laid before the Arbitration Court, and
Mr. Badger was deliberately following out the process of discharging all known unionists, in the hope that when the case came on there would not be one unionist left among the tramway company’s employes.
– Admitting that Mr. Badger was as bad as you say, was that a justification for calling out forty-two unions with the view of bringing the community into a state of collapse?
– When persons holding responsible positions are pursuing a course which is calculated to get them outside the law of the land, then I, for one, will always be prepared to throw in my lot with any men who in consequence of such action are suffering gross injustice.
– And lay up the State railways?
– I know all the difficulties.
– Would you make an attack on the general community because of the wrong- doing of one man?
– Yes. Where is the wrong-doing to the workers going to end unless some stand is made against it? The chief wrong-doer at Brisbane was the man who, after a plaint .had been laid before the Arbitration Court, deliberately turned out of his employment every man who was known to have any sympathy with trade unionism. What have we heard from honorable senators about his wrongdoing? Not one word.
– They have to stand by such men.
– Not only that, but these men are part and parcel of those who sent honorable senators here. Of course, honorable senators stand by them on every occasion. I am. glad to see Senator Gould in the chamber, because, when I moved the adoption of the AddressinReply, he made an interjection implying that the Caucus is a place where we are drilled into an opinion, and by direct statement he said that I never criticised this Labour Government. I have the answer in the speech of Senator Millen, who, on the following afternoon, complained that my speech was flattering to the Government, and quite in contrast with my usual criticism of them. Both statements cannot be correct. Either Senator Gould was wrong when he said that the Caucus does not permit us to criticise the Government, or Senator Millen was wrong when he said that I had frequently, criticised them.
– The explanation is that the Caucus had not met on the matters on which you exercised your independence.
– No; the honorable senator is simply doing now what he takes the opportunity to do on every platform on which he appears. He preaches a story which fits the occasion ; truth goes by the board altogether. The honorable senator upbraided me for not mentioning the Werriwa election in my speech. I really thought that if there was one thing more than another which- I should leave alone on such an occasion it was a contest from which I had come quite fresh. I was, perhaps, putting a great restraint upon myself in not referring to the fact that the Fusion party were taking credit, not only here, ‘but outside, for having obtained a great victory there. From one end of the electorate to the other they circulated little pamphlets, in which they set forth all the great victories which they had achieved during the past two years. The first victory claimed was that at Boothby ; the next victory was that at the referenda, and afterwards they accepted the result of the Tasmanian elections as one of their victories. One of the most humorous events of the campaign was the circulation of a placard throughout the electorate claiming the result of those elections as a victory for the Liberal party.
– Hear, hear !
– Well, I wish my honorable friends many such victories.
– They never mentioned the elections in Western Australia.
– They admitted that they suffered a defeat there.
– Do you compare the recent Tasmanian elections with the Federal elections of two years ago?
– The Liberal party, as my honorable friends term themselves, or the anti-Labour party, as I term them, is the same whether it is in Tasmania or in South Australia.
– The Capitalistic party is the right name to use.
– In Tasmania the Liberal party faced the electors with nineteen supporters, and the Labour party with eleven. The Liberal party came back with fifteen supporters and the Labour party with fourteen, and there was one Independent gentleman - so independent that he walked out of the chamber recently, and left the Liberal party to be saved by the casting vote of the Speaker. And in the face ‘of all constitutional procedure in selfgoverning countries the Government continue to conduct public business.
– I wish you would preach that doctrine to Mr. McGowen.
– As soon as the Labour Government in New South Wales lost their majority in the Legislative Assembly, the first official act they did was to hand to the Governor their resignation.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - And then to make an arrangement with Mr. Willis.
– I think that the less my honorable friend says about Mr. Willis the better for his own party. As soon as two of our members had resigned, and without waiting for the elections to be decided, which they could well have done*, the Government had such a great respect’ for constitutional procedure that they immediately handed in their resignation. What happened then? The two vacant seats were won by Labour, and that gave the Labour Government a majority of two without the services of Mr. Willis. But now let me compare Mr. Willis, as he has been mentioned by Senator Gould-
-Are you defending his action ?
– The action of Mr. Willis, as Speaker, can be defended on any platform.
– Are you defending hisaction ?
– His action inregard to his own party I have no desire to defend. What is happening in the New South Wales Parliament in connexion with the attitude of the anti-Labour or Fusion party to the Speaker? There is not one platform on which the Leader of the Opposition speaks that he does not use language against the Speaker, which, I think, is a discredit to any civilized country.
– These are the men who are always pleading for freedom of thought and action.
– The boast of the party opposite is that the differencebetween them and the Labour party is that they have freedom, yet when one of their number leaves the party, not to join theother side, but to take the highest position which it is in the power of a Legislative Assembly to give, what do they say of that man?
– I ask the honorable senator again to say. whether he defends Mr. Willis’ action ?
– What was the action of the party when Mr. Willis chose to exercise his freedom? When he takes-
– When he takes a bribe.
– Here is another of the so-called Liberal party who has descended so low as to speak of Mr. Willis taking a bribe.
– The honorable senator will not seriously contend that Mr. Willis’ action can be defended and justified.
– I was proposing to refer to the conduct of Mr. Wade, and I can now add the conduct of Senator Millen, in the comments they have made upon the Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, and to institute a comparison between their conduct and that of members of the British House of Commons.
– Order ! I wish to point out to Senator Gardiner that he is not at liberty to introduce new matter in speaking in reply to the debate. The matter to which he is now referring was not mentioned during the debate.
– I shall not trespass any further in that way. I was led to speak as I did by interjections, which were made during my speech. We were invited to consider the great victories obtained by the party opposite. The socalled victory in Tasmania was one, and it has placed the Government of that State in a position which, so far as my knowledge goes, no other Government in any British community ever occupied. They ave hanging on to office when virtually defeated. They also claim the result of the referenda as a victory, so great and crushing that in their opinion the Labour party ought immediately to have resigned office when they found the will of the people expressed against them. Well, let us compare the voting for Werriwa at the referenda and at the recent by-election. In round numbers, the votes recorded in the Werriwa district at the referenda against the Labour party were 8,000, and for the Labour party 4,000. Within twelve months a by-election took place in the district, and the Labour party not only won back what they had lost on the occasion of the referenda, but increased their vote from 4,000 to 10,883. The other side increased their vote only from 8.000 to 10,500. If it be claimed that the voting at the referenda was a victory for the opposite party, I think I am’ justified in saying that it was merely a skirmish, and when the parties came face to face at the recent election the verdict of the referenda was reversed. In the contest for the Werriwa seat we had no advantage over the party opposite. The candidate run by the Fusion party had previously represented the constituency, and had suffered defeat by only 500 votes. The candidate we ran for Werriwa, though an excellent man, was new to politics, and yet his votes were six more than the number polled by Mr. Hall, one of our ablest campaigners, when he defeated Mr. Ryrie for the same electorate. The Leader of the Opposition said that honorable members on this side would take good care not to refer to Werriwa.
– Because they might find it difficult to explain the loss of 1,500 votes from their majority.
– There was no loss of 1,500 to our side, but as a matter of fact we gained many additional votes. Although we were told that the abolition of postal voting prevented a number of people from recording their votes, the total number polled at the Werriwa election represented 76 per cent, of the electors on the roll. Yet Senator Millen and other honorable senators opposite went around telling die people that the Electoral Act we passed disfranchised a number of persons.
– If the postal vote had been in force more than 76 per cent, of the electors would have voted.
– There was never so big a poll before in the electorate, even with postal voting, and the fact is that we gave greater facilities for voting than were given previously, even under the postal voting system
– Those greater facilities, if there are any given by the Act, did not apply to that by-election.
– It is only fair that the honorable senator should admit that we did give greater facilities to the people to record their votes.
– I admit nothing of the kind.
– The difficulty about the postal vote was that it was chiefly secured by wealthy persons, such as Senator Millen represents, who had sufficient money at their command to send out professional canvassers to collect those votes. When Senator E. J. Russell was seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, .he asked the Opposition to say what piece of legislation passed by this party had ever injured any one in the community. The only reply to his question was made by another of my colleagues in the representation of New South Wales. Senator Walker said that a friend of his had lost two-thirds of his income by the passing of the land tax. Senator Walker is a man who has a very big reputation in New South Wales, and probably throughout Australia, in matters of finance. His word is taken whenever he gives it, and I am not doubting his statement that his friend lost two-thirds of his income because of the operation of the land tax. That is the honorable senator’s most serious charge against the legislation we have passed. But let us see how the matter works out. If a mar owns land of the unimproved value of £5,000, he pays no Federal land tax at all. If he has land of the unimproved value of £10,000 he pays an annual tax of £24 and a few odd shillings. It is clear, therefore, that if Senator Walker’s friend held land of the unimproved value of £10,000, and lost two-thirds of his income as a result of the operation of the tax, he must have been making something less than £37 a year out of his property. When a man holds land of the unimproved value of ,£10,000 it will usually be found to be worth double that amount if the value of the improvements upon it are taken into account. We may, therefore, assume that Senator Walker’s friend held property of a total value of £20,000, and was making less than. £37 a year out of it. I say that if the Government steps in and interferes with men who handle landed property in that way it is not only a good thing for the country, but for the owners of the land themselves. If Senator Walker’s friend was compelled to sell his land, and got only about half its value for it, he should be getting a few hundred pounds a year from the money he was paid for it instead of a paltry £37. The same argument will apply if we follow out the operation of the land tax with respect to estates of the highest value. Senator Millen took good care not to make any statement on this subject.
– My statement has been that honorable senators opposite have not passed a single measure that has benefited anybody.
– I am very pleased to have heard that interjection. It is true that we have not passed legislation to benefit any one person. Our legislation has been passed for the benefit of the whole of the people of Australia. We do not pass legislation to assist any one individual or company, and we are not on the look out to provide our friends with positions. Senator Millen attacked the Government for having made political appointments, because out of the many appointments which the Government have made he was able to say that two gentlemen who received positions, and a third party who was offered a position, were at some time in their lives connected with the Labour movement. I can quite understand that it came as a shock to Senator Millen and his friends to hear that any one connected with the Labour movement had been appointed to a Government position. I make no secret of my views, and I say that I hope that after the next election some more Labour appointments will be made. If the people say that men from the mines, workshops, and factories of this country should manage its affairs, those whom they have trusted with their confidence should be prepared to admit that there are men in the ranks of the workers quite competent to manage any big Department of the State.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - “The spoils to the victors.”
– The honorable senator has been for so long a member of a party who resented the giving of spoils to any but the political victors that he seems to be under the impression that people holding views similar to his own should always govern the country.
– To what party did Mr. Lang well belong?
– He, was appointed by the Lyne Government, whom Senators Millen and Gould did their best to put out of office.
– The honorable senator has said that not a single Labour man received an appointment from previous Governments, and I ask him to what partyMr. Langwell belonged?
– I say that he was appointed by a Government with which Senator Millen was not connected, and which he did not support. The honorable senator based his charge against the present Government on the fact that two out of many positions were filled by men connected with the Labour movement.
– I mentioned three, but a difference of 50 per cent, is nothing to the honorable senator.
– Though I may sometimes overlook what has been said, I never desire to misrepresent any one. I will admit that the honorable senator mentioned three cases. He complained of the appointment of Mr. Ryland and of Dr. Jansen, and that an appointment had been offered to Mr. Nielsen.
– What about Mr. Campbell and Mr. Shannon, who were also defeated Labour men?
– When we consider that at the last Federal elections a great majority of the electors of Australia voted for our party, I am surprised that, the great majority of the appointments made by the Government were not of Labour sympathizers, if they can rightly be charged with making political appointments. When Senator Millen charges the Government with making political appointments, because he has been able to discover that three or four persons associated with the Labour movement have received appointments, I might just as well say that, because the name of the Prime Minister is Andrew Fisher, and Professor Gilruth is a Scotchman, the Government should be blamed for making appointments because of the nationality of those appointed. Because Senator Millen can discover in a whole list of appointments some four or five persons who have at some time exhibited their sympathy with the Labour party he condemns their appointments as unsound. Take the case of Dr. Jansen. If ever my honorable friends opposite come into power I hope that they will give all appointments to the most deserving applicants. »
– Hear ! hear. And not to persons whose views are in sympathy with those of the Minister.
– Should the Government hunt for their opponents to give them billets?
– In this connexion I am reminded that some time ago Senator Millen and myself were defeated at the poll. But there happened to be in power at the time a Government in New South Wales which was prepared to reward the honorable senator, and which immediately appointed him to the Legislative Council. Would it have been a fair thing in the circumstances for me to have complained that political influence underlay his appointment?
– That same Government also appointed three members of the Labour party to the Upper House.
– That was a tribute to their good sense. It would take three members of our party to look after the honorable senator. But the fact that Senator Millen was defeated at the poll did not make him less fitted to discharge his legislative duties in the Upper House. The Leader of the Opposition has himself admitted that he could find only three men to whose appointment exception could be taken.
– I said nothing of the sort. I will find many more cases before the session closes.
– I hope that the honorable senator will. Nott withstanding the large amount of political patronage at their disposal very little has been urged against the appointments made by the Government. That circumstance emphasizes the weakness of the Opposition attack. Further, honorable senators opposite cannot point to a single individual who is better qualified to fill any office than is the applicant who has been appointed.
– I will give a case in point. It is that of Mr. Taylor, whose qualifications from every stand-point are superior to those of Dr. Jansen.
– That statement is quite in keeping with the assertions usually made by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Dr. Jansen has a European reputation as a geologist.
– I would ask Senator Millen whether Mr. Taylor applied for the position?
– I do not know that he had the. chance to do sp, but he is already in the Public Service.
– The position was publicly advertised.
– The statement of Senator Millen only serves to emphasize the splendid opportunities which the Government gave to all persons to apply for the position. He cannot expect the Ministry to coax persons to forward applications. In my opinion. Dr. Jansen’s qualifications will not only bear m comparison with those of the gentleman whose name has been mentioned, but with those of anybody else, either inside or outside of the Commonwealth. Senator Millen ought to know that his appointment is a first class one. Then take the case of Mr. Miller, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. I admit that the salary which he is to be paid is a huge one. But when we are told that the services of first class bankers cannot be obtained unless we are prepared to pay them big salaries, I say that, as the business of this institution is going to be extremely large-
– But Senator Millen says that the Government have secured the services of only a second class man.
– I admit that when the Government have to go to the other side to fill important positions they have to be content with second class men. If the Ministry assure me that the salary paid to Mr. Miller is not too large for the position-
– And we never asked him whether he was a Labour man.
– I venture to say that that question has not been asked except in cases where the Government desired to have their policy carried out by some one who was in sympathy with it. The salary of the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank seems to me an enormous one, and the three guineas per day travelling expenses which he is to be allowed, are, to my mind, altogether excessive. I do not believe in any officer being granted a larger travelling allowance than is granted to the Prime Minister of Australia. But’, doubtless, there are any number of Prime Ministers offering, and only a very few first glass bankers. Consequently the old law of supply and demand asserts itself.
– Would the honorable senator send them to the Arbitration Court?
– Thanks to the Arbitration Court, and to the Government which brought it into existence, the workers of the Commonwealth have been able to put into their pockers thousands of pounds over and above what is being paid away in large salaries. Take the case of the Australian Workers Union. In the other branch of the Legislature reference was recently made to the last elections, and Colonel Ryrie seemed to connect me with something that he had in his mind in such a way that, were it not that the experiment would be such a costly one, I would feel inclined to pull his nose.
– There is another difficulty in the case of Colonel Ryrie.
– If the honorable senator will give me his assurance that the first difficulty will be overcome, I can tell him that the second will disappear. When Colonel Ryrie uses my name immediately after saying that certain combines have paid huge sums into’ the coffers of the Labour party, my reply is that during the twenty years that I have been connected with that party I have never received a sixpence which I did not earn.
– Does not the honorable senator think that he ought to make these statements direct to Colonel Ryrie instead of asking me to carry them ?
– Seeing that Colonel Ryrie made his statements concerning me publicly, I take this opportunity of replying publicly. I am pleased, indeed, that this debate is terminating in a way which promises welt for the carrying out of the Government programme before the session closes. I think that when this Parliament expires, no matter what party may be returned in a majority, it will be able to say that we have done well, not merely for one section, but for all classes of the community. So far as the measures which have been enacted are concerned, and so far as the administration of the Government is concerned, no serious charge has been levelled against them. The Leader of the Opposition has made every effort to find something to say in their condemnation. But he has failed utterly. The very weakness of his attack is the greatest possible proof that the Government have done very little to which exception can be taken, because if there is one man in the public life of this country who could twist the smallest incident into something of a grave nature it is the gentleman win.) so ably leads the Opposition . in this Chamber.
– I neither desired to twist any incident, nor was it necessary for me to do so. . The facts are sufficient.
– What are the facts, side by side with the predictions in which the honorable senator and his party indulged during the last elections? At that time the people were assured that if a Labour Government came into power capital would be driven nut of the country. They were told that the prosperity which the party opposite declared they had built up would collapse like a pricked bladder, Yet what are the facts? From one end of Australia to the other, trade and commerce were never more flourishing than they are to-day. Every State is enjoying the prosperity which has signalized the reign of the Labour Government. Then we have been told that the Commonwealth note issue is wrong. Honorable senators opposite are not at all satisfied, because there is a profit of £200,000 a year accruing from it. Because there is a certain number of these notes in the tills of the banks Senator St. Ledger has contended that they are not in circulation. But if each morning there are £100,000 worth of Commonwealth notes in the bank tills all of those notes may have passed into circulation, and have been replaced by other notes before the business for the day has closed.
– One of the weak spots of the issue is that there are so many Commonwealth notes in the bank tills.
– -I am quite sure that the great banking authorities of the Commonwealth will put their good gold into the Treasury, and will take out what my honorable friends are pleased to call “ Fisher’s flimsies.”. I well remember the party opposite telling us that these notes would not be worth 19s. in a very brief period.
– Fifteen shillings.
– I did not want to refer to their statement that the notes would not be worth 15s., because that was the cry which they raised at the Werriwa by-election. There they stated that owing to Customs taxation the purchasing value of a sovereign had been reduced to 15s. Mr. Conroy told the people of Goulburn that he was going to fight to increase the purchasing power of a sovereign, and with this end in view he would wipe away Customs taxation. At the time he made that statement Senator McColl was writing to him, wishing him success in his campaign. It is very significant that, whilst my honorable friends opposite allowed Free Traders to address the electors at Goulburn, Mr. Deakin, the Leader of the Protectionist party in Australia, was compelled to sneak round the back places.
– Is Yass a “back” place ?
– As compared with Goulburn, which has 7,000 electors on the rolls, it is. When Mr. Deakin has to play third fiddle to Mr. Joseph Cook and Senator Millen, we can understand one of two things. I wonder whether, at the next election, the people of Victoria will permit Mr. Deakin, Senator McColl, and others, to play second fiddle to Free Traders like Mr.
Cook, Senator Millen, Senator Gould, and that class of men, as was the case in Werriwa.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - I did not go to Werriwa.
– No; I give the honorable senator credit for having the good judgment not to interfere in a losing fight ! The people of Victoria must be given to understand that if the Opposition party win the next election, the voice of Mr. Deakin, owing to the constitution of the Fusion party, will be a very weak one in its councils, and that men like Senators Millen, Gould, and McColl will rule - men who were ready to welcome into the Federal Parliament a man who was posing before the electors at the Goulburn end of the electorate that not only was he a Free Trader and a Single-Taxer, but that, if elected, he would teach the Fusion Party that the Tariff must be reduced. Yet Senator Millen says that I have not the courage to make reference to the figures at Werriwa. I am very pleased that this motion has been so well received, though I am sorry that the Opposition have not addressed themselves to it at greater length. In my opening remarks, I asked them to state fairly upon the floor of this Senate what they had to say against the Government. I said that we “ invited criticism”; and when the Leader of the Opposition rose to reply, he said that I had stated that they “ deserved criticism.” Twisting words in that fashion will not do the Leader of the Opposition any good, and I hope that in future, when he refers to what honorable senators on this side say, he will not shift a word out of its proper place in order to convey a false impression.
– I hope that I shall not speak in such a way as to merit the applause and approval of the honorable senator’s party.
– When I made reference at Paddington to what the honorable senator had said about the Commonwealth Bank, he stated that he would give the real facts on a later occasion, but when they were given they proved’ to be identical with what I had said. I am sure that the motion will be carried unanimously.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) agreed to-
That the address be presented to His Excellency ‘ the Governor-General by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
Garden Island - Public Business - Atmosphere of the Senate. Chamber.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– At the commencement of the sitting I asked a question of the Minister of Defence, who desired me to explain the point more fully on the adjournment. The facts are these : The Admiralty have employed at Garden Island a number of civilians as leading hands and in other capacities. When the Commonwealth takes over the Naval Depôt, some of these men will not be able to proceed with the Imperial naval authorities to New Zealand. I wish to know whether it is the intention of the Government to make arrangements for retaining them in the positions which they have occupied for twelve or fifteen years? The naval men will be compelled to go to New Zealand, but it should be optional for the others to go or not, as they please. They are resident in Sydney, and have their homes there. I trust that provision will be able to be made for them.
– I am rather surprised that Ministers - assuming that they desire to get on with business - did not take the opportunity before moving the adjournment, at any rate, to explain the first Bill upon the noticepaper. If the second reading had been moved to-night, the Senate would have been in a position to proceed with the debate tomorrow. The course adopted suggests to me that Ministers were not ready. I hope, at any rate, that they will not make a practice of moving the adjournment at a quarter past 9 when there is business immediately in front of us. I presume that it would not have occupied more than halfanhour for a Minister to move the second reading of the Bill to-night, and the effect would have been to expedite business. There is another matter which I should like to mention to you, Mr. President. I do not know whether I am expressing the opinion of other honorable senators, but I am certainly expressing my own feeling when I say that some steps ought to be taken, either to induce the Meteorologist to alter the weather, or to persuade the Home Affairs Department to assist in improving the temperature of this chamber. I do not know how other honorable senators have felt to-day, but to me the temperature of the place in which we have to do our work has been painfully cold. If, as seems to be the case, honorable senators generally are of the same opinion, steps might be taken to remedy the grievance of which we complain.
– As to the question raised by Senator McDougall, the arrangement is that the Garden Ilsland Depot shall come over to us as a going concern. Of course, we have not yet been informed by the Admiralty as to what members of their staff they wish to retain, and what members will be left with us. But I can assure Senator McDougall that when further communications have taken place as to what members of the staff are to remain with us, I will give consideration to the representations that he has made. When honorable senators read the papers which I have laid upon the table to-day, they will understand why, owing to the delay in completing the ships that are being built in Great Britain, we are suggesting to the Admiralty that, instead of taking over the depôt on the 1st of April next, it should be taken over on the 1st of July. The ships will probably not be here till then, and there is no object in taking over the depot until the Fleet Unit is in commission. Regarding a point raised by Senator Millen, I have to say, with respect tothe Defence Bill, that I do not anticipate that any honorable senator will ask for an adjournment when I move the second reading. No great principle is involved. It is essentially a Bill for Committee. I was assuming that, after I have moved the second reading tomorrow, honorable senators would be prepared to speak to the motion and proceed with the Bill in Committee, so that we may go right through. That is one reason why I did not think it necessary to move the second reading to-night.
– TheLeader of the Opposition must realize that this is the first day of sitting this week, and that a number of honorable senators have travelled from adjoining States. It has always been the practice that, when a debate on any subject was finished after 9 o’clock, the Senate would, in the usual course of things, adjourn. The Trade Marks Bill, the Service and Execution of Process Bill, and the Copyright Bill are all ready to be proceeded with, and I was prepared to move the second reading of one of them to-night.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The Quarantine Bill also?
– That Bill is not in my charge. It is in Senator Findley’s hands, and, unfortunately, he is not very well, and has not been able to appear today. With respect to the temperature of the Senate, I must acknowledge that I myself have felt it to be rather chilly. But I thought that that was due to the lack of warmth in the criticism of the Government by the Opposition.
– I thought that was rather warm.
– Oh, no; the party onthis side did their best to put a little life into it by interjections, but the criticism was so ineffective as to be chilly. It must be borne in mind that the wisest people cannot make provision against extremes, and although in ordinary circumstances the Senate may be warmed to our requirements, we have recently had one or two of the coldest nights of the year - the coldest, indeed, for many years. The matter is, however, in charge of the President, and I have no doubt that he will take notice of what has been said, as it is always his endeavour to attend to the comfort of honorable senators.
– Regarding what Senator Millen has said, I am well aware that the temperature of the chamber was very cold to-day. During the dinner adjournment I made some inquiries, and found that the machinery which has been installed down below for the transmission of hot air to the two chambers is on the other side of the building. The consequence is that the other House gets the first supply, and what is to spare is driven along to the Senate chamber by a fan. . Apparently the machinery is not sufficiently powerful. I will see that representations are made to the Home Affairs Department, and, if possible, some alterations effected.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 July 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1912/19120717_senate_4_64/>.