5th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 1) presented by Senator
Henderson, and read by the Clerk.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council any further information with regard to the official map of Australia, and the* proper delineation of the north-west coast?
– I have the following information: -
I have to advise that the finally revised map is under reference to England for a report by the Royal Geographical Society and the Admiralty. On receipt of this certifying report, which is daily expected, copies of the map will be made available.
With regard to the accuracy or otherwise of the survey of the north-west coast of Western Australia, it is known that there must be large errors in the position of parts of the coastline of Australia, and any map issued can only supply the best information available at the date of issue. The trigonometrical survey of New South Wales disclosed errors as great as eight miles in the’ position of the coast-line, and it is understood that this is one of the reasons which actuated the Surveyors-General of Australia to recommend the carrying out of a geodetio survey of the coast-line. The question of the expediency of conducting such a. survey will, no doubt, be given careful consideration in the near future.
Liverpool Camp Disturbance
Senator MILLEN (New- South Wales present to the Senate, by command, the following paper: -
Defence: Report of Court of Inquiry re Fifth Infnntry Brigade Camp, Liverpool, New South Wales, 29th November to 6th December, 1913.
I desire, by leave of the Senate, to make a brief statement regarding this matter.
With regard to (1) it is only necessary to say that each officer concerned has been furnished with a copy of the report, and, upon receipt of any representations they may make, the several cases will be further considered. With regard to (2), a system of secret reports by which officers may be unjustly condemned and their whole military future blighted without the slightest opportunity for offering a word in their own defence, is so repugnant to any. conception of fair play that, apart from the disheartening effect such a system must have upon the Army, it is difficult to understand how its introduction was ever approved. The dangerous possibilities of this system were the more pronounced as, at the time of its adoption, the Inspector-General to whom the reports were forwarded was President of the Promotion Board. It is no exaggeration to say that a feeling of indignation and perturbation is very general among the large body of citizen officers as a result of the disclosures regarding these reports. I have decided that in future any individual adversely affected by a report shall be informed of its contents so far as theyconcern him, and be thus afforded opportunity for reply thereto. I believe this decision will receive general indorsement. Consequent on the reports which gained currency at the time of the Liverpool Camp a considerable measure of reproach has attached to the 14th Regiment. The inquiry proves this reproach to be unmerited, and this cannot too soon be officially announced. I have quite independent information confirming the statement in the report that “ a feeling of resentment and injustice “ has been generated both among the members of the 14th Regiment and throughout the districts from which its members are drawn. I sincerely hope one effect of this inquiry, and the action following upon it, will be to allay that feeling, and cause it to . give place to a loyal determination to respond to the efforts being made to relieve it of the heavy disabilities under which it has laboured. With regard to those matters which I have already referred to as ‘ weaknesses and faults of administration,” I only desire to say that these are now under consideration, and I anticipate being able, at no very distant date, to make a further statement in reference thereto. ‘
– I wish to ask the leader of the Senate a question arising out of the statement he has read, and it is whether he is in favour of the same course being . adopted in other branches of the Public Service where confidential reports are made about officers.
– I am not aware that such a system exists in any other branch of the Service.
– It does.
Senator MILLEN. I think that the opinion I have indicated in the statement I have just read will show my general attitude towards anything of that kind.
– Is the Minister of Defence aware that the system of confidential reports has been in practice ever since the Defence Act has been inaugurated ! Does he propose to dispense with these confidential reports as well as the confidential reports of the State Commandants ?
– I am aware of the existence of the confidential reports to which the honorable senator refers, but I would point out that such a report, when it reflects on an officer, is always read over to him, and he therefore has an opportunity to reply.
– That is not so.
– Then ‘I am incorrectly informed by my responsible advisers. I am told that the. practice is that where a confidential report is made by a State Commandant or superior officer, and it reflects upon a junior officer, or upon an officer under . his command, that portion of the document is read over to him, and he therefore has an opportunity of putting his side of the case forward. The confidential reports to which I referred in connexion with the InspectorGeneral’s office were more in the sense that an officer reported on had no knowledge that such a report was in existence.
– Will the Minister inform the Senate by whom the confidential reports were made, and whether it is not a fact that the confidential reports to which “ne refers were reports which had already been made to officers commanding regiments 1
– The confidential reports referred to were made by officers deputed by the Inspector-General to make the inspection. They were written by the Deputy Inspectors and forwarded to the Inspector-General, and no one else had a chance of seeing them.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act 1903-1912. - Universal Training. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1914, Nos. 41 and 42.
Naval Defence Act 1910-1912. - Universal Training. - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1914, No. 40.
Public Service Act 1902-1913- PostmasterGeneral’s Department - Promotion of T. Warren as Supervisor, Class 3, Mail Branch, New South Wales.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether the Shaw Wireless Co. Limited at Randwick, New South Wales, has yet been paid £4,000 for works undertaken by them for the Commonwealth; and, if not, whether he can tell the Senate when the payment of the account will be made, as I believe it has been due for a very considerable period 1
– I have made inquiries into this matter, and received the following reply : -
The Maritime Wireless Company has sent a statement to the Postmaster-General claiming a sum of about £4,000, but, on looking into the matter, he has come to the conclusion that the charges in respect to some of the items are excessive, and that some of the material supplied was not up to the specifications. In addition, plant supplied by the company has been rejected, and has to be replaced by them. lt has, however, now been arranged by the Postmaster-General and one of the directors of the company that the accounts shall be gone into by the Chief Accountant of the Postal Department and the company’s accountant, and upon receipt of the report the Minister will deal with the matter.
– Is the Leader of the Senate yet in a position to give a reply to my long-standing question about the law costs under an arbitration award 1
– I am at last able to satisfy the long-sustained curiosity of the honorable senator. I have to state that the Government regrets that it is unable to adopt either of the alternatives suggested by him.
– I am not quite clear as to how the Minister has answered my question. I do not understand the answer, and I hope that he does. About a fortnight ago a copy of an award by the President of the Arbitration Court in the linesmen’s case was laid on the table of the Senate, and it provides that the award is to apply to the members of the claimant association. I desire to know if it is the intention of the Government to make the award payable to nonmembers of the association; and. if so, will it take the responsibility of seeing that nonmembers pay their fair proportion of the costs of such action ?
– The honorable senator when he put his question to me the other day - whether here or outside, I am not now convinced - did submit three courses. He has referred to two of them now. The answer to his question is that the Government does not propose to discriminate in paying the wages under the award.
– They will pay them to all ?
– They will not observe the award.
– They will break the law.
– I never knew before that there was any objection to a Government or an employer paying more than the award stipulated, and that is what the Government propose to do.
– You should not pay trade union wages to “scabs.”
– May I be permitted to again ask the second portion of my question, as it has not been answered ? Will the Government undertake to pay a just proportion of the law costs of the non-members, or will they see that it is collected from the non-members - not union fees?
– I must apologize for not answering the second question of the honorable senator, but one of his colleagues interrupted at that time, and I overlooked the fact that I had not answered it. The answer to the second question is “ No.”
– You intend to give preference to non-unionists?
SenatorRAE. - In view of the refusal of the Government to pay a proportionate share of the cost of the claimants in the linesmen’s case, I desire to ask whether the Government have decided to deliberately adopt the policy of preference to non-unionists as indicated by the Minister’s answer?
– The Government’s general and firm attitude against preference is too well known to need further answer to the question.
– Deeds prove the opposite.
Dismissal of Men. - Mr. Teesdale Smith’s Contract
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council received a reply to a question I asked yesterday regarding the dismissal of certain men at the Port Augusta end of the east-west railway?
– The first reply I received reads as follows: -
The Engineer-in-Chief for Railways has no knowledge of the statement referred to. He has sent an urgent wire of inquiry to Port Augusta, and hopes to have a reply before the Senate meets this afternoon.
A further communication was sent to me -
No men can have been put off by the Department since the Department’s instructions are to push on with the work. Possibly men employed by contractors who are finishing work contracted for may be referred to.
A few minutes before the Senate met this afternoon a telegram was received which throws some light on this matter -
A wire has been received from South Australia which would seem to show that men have been put off earthworks into ballast pits. I have issued instructions that no satisfactory men are to be paid off, and that the earthworks must be pushed on with.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice-
Has Mr. Teesdale Smith completed his contract for section of the Port Augusta railway; if not, what stage has been reached?
– The answer is -
No. When the work was measured on the 5th inst., it was found that the position was as follows -
Cuttings, 60 per cent. completed.
Banks, 57 per cent. completed.
Surface formings, 61 ‘per cent., ‘completed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers’ are -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the questions is - 1 and 2. The survey of the Australian coast in connexion with fisheries is not yet nearly complete.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What action, if any, has been taken or is proposed to be taken by the present Government to secure the representation of the Commonwealth at the next International Conference at the Hague? .
– The answer is -
As the Commonwealth is a part of the British Empire, and not a separate nation, it is not entitled to separate representation.
– We asked for it.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Commonwealth Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister of
Defence, upon notice -
It is reported that the Government, by guaranteeing £2,000,000 of the capital of an Anglo-Persian company, have secured for the Admiralty the first call on the output?
– I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the honorable senator yesterday.
– It was no answer.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will the Government order the printing of the sworn evidence taken by Mr. Justice Hodges, the Royal Commissioner appointed to inquire into and report on the charges made by Mr. Fowler, M.H.R., against Mr. Henry Chinn, supervising engineer on the transcontinental railway?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is “ No.”
Debate resumed from 20th May (vide page 1127), on motion by SenatorOakes as amended -
That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to: -
To His Excellency the Governor-General.
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and our thanks for the Speech which Your Excellency’s predecessor (Lord Denman) was pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Senator Rae had moved -
That the following words be added: - “ 2. Your Advisers deserve special condemnation for their gross favoritism and betrayal of the public interest in letting a costly contract for railway construction without providing the safeguard of public competition. “ 3. Furthermore, your Advisers’ constant efforts to coerce the Senate (which being elected on the widest possible basis is the constitutional guardian of the people’s liberties) into abject submission to their will is an attempt to subvert the Constitution and thereby imperil the harmony existing between the various States of the Commonwealth, and is deserving of the severest censure.”
– After the startling statements made by Senator Gardiner during our last sitting, I thought the Honorary Minister would have come forward with a reply on behalf of the Government. Apparently the promises made by the members of the so-called Liberal party, when seeking the votes of the electors, are one thing, whilst their actions in Parliament are something very different. I have a vivid’ recollection of some of the cries raised at the last Federal elections. The people were told that the Labour party were responsible for the high, cost of living in Australia, and for the burden of taxation which pressed so heavily on the shoulders of its people. So far, no attempt has been made by the Government to carry out their promises to the electors to reduce the cost of living, and to remove the burden of taxation. We sometimes wonder how they can claim to be the great Liberal party of Australia. Is it because they are liberal to the people as a whole and liberal in the views they bold, or because they are liberal to themselves and to a particular section of the people? When we consider their deeds during the last twelve months in which they have held office, we are forced to conclude that they are indeed liberal to those who arc within the pale of the so-called Liberal party; but it cannot be claimed for them that they are liberal to any one outside that party. I noticed an advertisement recently published in the press calling for applications for the position of matron of the Port Darwin hospital in the Northern Territory. For this important position the so-called Liberal Government offered the princely salary of £90 per annum. That is the remuneration they proposed for a woman who must have devoted years to the study of ner profession before she would be entitled to take up such a position. When the Government are prepared to treat women in that way, it is surprising to find that they are still supported by the Women’s National League. They are prepared to give a salary of £1,S00 per annum to the Chief Engineer of Commonwealth Railways, who is probably one of their own party, but they are not prepared to give more than £90 per annum to a woman who is asked to fill an important position in the Northern Territory, where, we are informed, the conditions of life are bad and the cost of living is high. The electors were told that the Labour party were responsible for the high cost of living in 1913, and if that be so, I want to ask the members of the Government present, or their supporters, to say who is responsible for the high cost of living at the present time. If the Labour party were responsible in 1913, I claim that the present Government must be held responsible for the high cost of living in 1914. Honorable senators opposite cannot contend that the cost of living is lower to-day than it was in 1913, and that being so, I should like to know what legislation the Government have submitted, or are prepared to submit, to this Parliament, to reduce the cost of living. I see no mention in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech of any measure likely to have that effect. I have carefully read the various speeches made by Ministers - and they have made a great many at week-end meetings - but I have seen no mention in them of any legislation to reduce the cost of living. They have from time to time said, “ There is a Senate that refuses to pass any measures submitted by us.” So far, no measure to reduce the cost of living has come before the Senate. The Government claim in another place to have a majority of one, and so are in a position to carry through that House any legislation they please, and have it sent on to the Senate. If they send to the Senate any legislation calculated to reduce the present high cost of living in Australia, it will receive the support of honorable senators on this side. Though the Government have offered only £90 per annum for the position of matron of the hospital at Port Darwin, Ministers claim that they are treating the public servants throughout the States more liberally than did the Labour Government. The other day the Minister of Defence read in this Chamber a letter from some person whose name he refused to give. The honorable senator then introduced the custom of reading here letters written by persons who apparently are afraid or ashamed to sign their names to what they have written. I intend to read a letter, and I am prepared to give the name of the writer. I shall leave honorable senators to judge, after they have heard the letter read, whether the Government are treating the employes of the Commonwealth as white men working for an employer should be treated. I quote the following letter by Mr. 0. L. Gray, from the Age of 27th April, 1914, on the subject of the treatment of men employed on the transcontinental railway: -
In reference to the transcontinental railway, it is about time that the public knew some of the facts. It is said that day labour is proving itself a failure, but the position is that the day labour system is being deliberately strangled by the Government. At the Port Augusta end of the line, so far as conditions are concerned, absolute chaos exists. Private enterprise in the matter of stores has “ fallen down “ completely, and the workmen are living under the most deplorable conditions.
That is under the so-called Liberal Government.
One gang of over 40 men were left without bread or groceries for nearly ten days, and this out in a waterless wilderness, 83 miles from the nearest town. All along the line, in a greater or in a lesser degree, the same complaints are made. The men are suffering from hunger and privation, and large numbers are continually leaving for this cause. Repeated promises have been made that departmental stores would be improved, but conditions are, if anything, worse now than at any time since the line started. One storekeeper has a monopoly of the trade, and it is a matter of public gossip in Port Augusta that certain officials have a financial interest in the present arrangements. Whatever the cause may be, the results arc enough to ruin any enterprise, whether contract or otherwise. During the past few weeks a large number of new employes have been put on. With the usual blundering shortsightedness, that draws high salaries on this job, no tents or tent poles were available, and nearly 100 men are now living like dingoes under the shelter of the scanty saltbush, or coiled up in concrete pipes and other places to escape the elements. Some of these men have been sleeping on the ground and without tents for over three weeks, waiting for the Department to unwind its red tape. Just before the holidays the riding ganger at the head of the road sent for 60 men. When the men got on the works it was discovered thatthere were no shovels for them, and many of them had to tramp off the job. Some of the men were charged for riding back on the construction train to Port Augusta. For the convenience of the men and the protection of tradesmen and boardinghouse-keepers procuration orders were allowed right from the start of the job. Now, however, some four-guinea clerk has put his foot on the system, and large numbers of men without funds and without credit have been compelled to leave the works. Cash “ subs.” are issued on occasion, when the timekeeper “ has time “ . and sufficient civility, but the men to- whom they are issued must cash them themselves, and in Port Augusta. A man on formation work was without funds, and worked for three days without food, or with such scraps or sufferance meals as he could get. He then drew a “ sub.” to pay for his meals. As the “ sub.” was only cashable in Port Augusta, and by himself, he lost three days’ work to get to the office and return, and was charged 5s.10d. by the Department for the return journey by the construction train.
The late Government gave the employes in Port Augusta free firewood,but now the order has gone forth that only “ the staff “ are to receive it.
Here, again, is clear proof that the socalled Liberal party, who at the last elections declaimed so strongly against the doctrine of spoils to the victors, are prepared to give spoils to their supporters, and to their supporters only. The writer of this letter continues -
This represents a reduction in wages, but it applies only to the underpaid men at the bottom; the high-priced officials are still to get > their wood free. These items, selected almost at random from a multitude of similar nature, are given as illustrations. A deliberate attempt is being made to goad the employe into reprisals and to strangle the day-labour system. This, at any rate, is my conviction. - Yours, &c,
Port Augusta, 22nd April.
As I remarked previously, the author of that letter was not ashamed to append his signature to it, and consequently it should carry a good deal more weight than should the letter which was written to the Minister of Defence by a person who is evidently ashamed to allow his name to be mentioned in this Senate. So far as the trouble at the western end of the transcontinental railway is concerned, I do not intend at this stage to refer to it, beyond saying that I know negotiations are proceeding with a view to its settlement. In the circumstances I consider that I shall be acting wisely by refraining from discussing that strike, which we all hope will ere long be terminated, so that construction work at that end of the line may be resumed. Looking through the public press during the past few weeks, I have been particularly interested in the pre-election Senate ballot which has been conducted by the Liberal party. I have been specially impressed by the fact that amongst the candidates nominated for that pre-election was Mr. Packer, who was at one time secretary of the Independent Workers Union. He was one of the gentlemen who was instrumental in the establishment of that organization - an organization which was undoubtedly formed for the purpose of strike breaking whenever it suited the employers to break strikes. It is well known that when there was a probability of a strike amongst the tramway employe’s at Ballarat Mr. Packer wrote to the directors of the Tramway Company, offering, in the event of trouble, to supply men to take the places of the strikers. It will be seen, therefore, that Mr. “Packer’s organization was intended to be used for the purpose of strike breaking. But when a Labour Government were in office it was’ also designed to be a strike making union. Whenever it was considered that it would be favorable to the so-called Liberal party that a strike should occur in any part of the Commonwealth, this Independent Workers Union was to be the body which was to foment industrial trouble, and to prevent the wheels of industry from turning. It will be remembered that just before the last elections a strike took place at Port Darwin, and from information which I have received I am perfectly satisfied that that strike was organized and brought about by the members of this very union. In support of my statement, I propose to quote from a letter by a gentleman in the Northern Territory, who takes a keen interest in the affairs of that province of the Commonwealth. He deals, not only with the action of the Packer crowd in- initiating that strike for the purpose of assisting the so-called Liberal party, but he also deals with the fact- that the present Government have adopted the principle of spoils to the victors by seizing every opportunity to displace from employment those who are suspected of a desire to assist the Labour party. This gentleman says- -
Do nothing, laissez faire is the policy of the Ministry, either to pave the way for a coolie invasion or to render it impossible for officials with progressive views to carry on, and thus thwart the Labour policy of development. The crowd of so-called unionists who fought for the destruction of the Labour party in May last deserve no sympathy. But Australia, that has to bear the burden of an undeveloped north, is to be pitied. However, the blood is on- the heads and hands: of those electors, who voted’ for the present Cook- Kelly gang,, and of those self-styled unionists who fought their brethren at that time and were consoling themselves by cowardly and lying attacks of a general nature on the officials,- many of whom are the stauhchest adherents of the workers’ cause in these wild, parts of the Australian domain.. Now things are settled down in Darwin. Packer’s satellites left when they found the game was up, the bogus union was disbanded; and those workers who were mostloud in ‘their revolutionary tactics when Labour, was -in- power are now most abject in their crawl to private employees. Unfortunately for the progress of the’ Labour’ movement, too many workers will bluster” and threatenwhen Labour- sways, the land,but when capitalism gets on top they areas meek as lambs. Were it not for this Labour would never be beaten. The Northern Territory has lost much, by the Darwin’ “ Packer Union’” strike, more by the change of. Government, The only people who have lost nothing ore the officials. Their salaries are untouched.
It is interesting to note why their salaries are. untouched. He . continues -
The reason for this is apparent. It is. the avowed intention of the Government to treat all1 the’ officials’ with Labour views: as.- they treated Chinn, and to put good laissez faire Liberals in their places. Hence salaries are left untouched in the general retrenchment.
All these things prove that, though at the last elections the present Liberal party made such a violent outcry about the doctrine, of spoils to the victors, they are doing their utmost to give spoils to those who supported them on that occasion, and who they believe will support them in the future. I do not intend to deal at any length with the Teesdale Smith contract. That question has already received a good deal of attention.
– The more light that is shed upon itthe better. It is a fishy and smellful contract.
– I admit that that is so, but there is a proper method of gaining the desired information in reference to it, and I think that the party with which I am associated is proceeding upon right lines to get all the information which the country should have on such an important question. So far, although many charges have been levelled against the Government, no real defence of their action has been put forward, with the exception of that urged by Senator Millen, who adopted a more manly stand than did either the PrimeMinister or the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs. The Minister of Defence stated that he was prepared to accept full responsibility for the letting of that contract. But unfortunately he is not the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs. Had he occupied that office I feel sure there would have been a Ministerial vacancy in the Department, becauseI do not believe that he would be a party, to doing what the Prime Minister and his lieutenant, Mr. -Kelly, have done, namely, attempt to shield themselves behind departmental officers. When anything is done in a Department to which blame is attachable, they tell us that their officials are responsible. Are they prepared to say that- when anything good is done by the Department their officials are entitled to the whole credit? Oh, no. If credit is due to anybody they take the whole of it to themselves, but if any blame is to be apportioned it must be apportioned to the officials. . Now, the officers of the Department, are; not members of this Parliament; They have not been placed in their positions-, by the- electors, nor have the. electors any- power to remove them. The . officials- are responsible to the Government, who are their masters, and the Government must accept responsibility for any mistakes made by them, otherwise responsible government, in my opinion, becomes a thing of the past. On various occasions in this chamber the question of contract versus day labour has been discussed. From evidence that has been gathered from all parts of the civilized world, it has been conclusively proved that not merely railway construction, but all great national works, can be carried out cheaper and b’etter under the day-labour system than they can be under the contract system. About two years ago a debate upon this subject was initiated in the Senate by members of the then Opposition, who are to-day supporters of the Government, and on that occasion two questions principally were dealt with. One was the question of undergrounding telephone wires, and the other the building of Commonwealth offices. The then Minister of Home Affairs called for reports from the officials, and these were submitted to Parliament. It was generally admitted, not only by members, but by the general public, that it had been demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that the works were carried out better and cheaper under the day-labour system than under the contract system. The Melbourne Age of the 8th August, 1912, published the following in its leading columns: -
It may be too much to say that these reports of responsible officers are the last word in the controversy between contract labour and day labour; but at least they show two things very essential to present circumstances. The first is that, provided supervision over manual workers as good as that maintained by contractors can be exercised by the State, the argument is all in favour of eliminating the contractor as a parasite and expensive middleman. The second is that in the present series of charges against “ the man on the job,” against his gangers, overseers, inspectors, architects, and Ministerial heads, the allegations have been built up on, hearsay and gutter gossip, having political animosity for their root and origin.
I want honorable senators to mark those words uttered by the leading newspaper of Victoria, showing how the great socalled Liberal party of Australia had built up their charges. The words- are’ severe; but absolutely true: We regretted very much that the present Gorvernment found -it necessary to cancel the sleeper1 contract’ with the Western Australian Government, but are still in th’e dark as to why they did it. They cannot say there was a scarcity of sleepers, because there is a large supply now at both ends of the line. They cannot say that any evidence has been advanced to show that the powellising process has not proved a success, because all the evidence obtained so far goes to prove that powellised timber will stand the ravagesof white ants and dry-rot better than unpowellised, no matter what class of timber it may be.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Some very unsatisfactory evidence has been given in Sydney about the value of powellised timber.
– It was given by those who are not experts in timber. Those who ought to, and do, know something about timber have been unanimous in their evidence that the powellised karri sleeper was absolutely the best that could be used for railway purposes. I shall quote a few reports from those who have had something to do with the powellising process. The Government are making a great mistake in placing on the trans- Australian line any sleepers but powellised, whether karri or jarrah, because both, if untreated, are liable to be attacked by dry-rot or white ants. The powellising process was first gone into thoroughly in Western Australia by Mr. Julius, the well-known timber expert. He described it as follows: -
The process, as briefly described hereafter; consists in replacing the sap in the green timber by sugar, with a small percentage of arsenic added if the timber is: to be rendered immune to attacks from white ants. (Timber so treated is claimed to be free from all risks of developing dry-rot, and that such is the case wasbriefly deduced from the recent tests of Western Australian timbers.)
He tested different timbers with the process, although he had only a primitive and temporary plant, and his report of’ these tests was -
Two karri sleepers that had been in service in a damp position for nineteen years showed many signs of dry-rot, yet still retained their hold upon the dogspikes to a degree quite sufficient to render them safe in the. road.
We know that most timbers have a ten- dency to shrink away from the dogspikes, and require to be continually watched. It is a point in favour of the karri timber that it does not shrink: away from the dogspikes. Mr. Julius further said -
Karri, whilst, in every other respect’ almost unequalled as - a sleeper timber, is prone to develop dry -rot ii used in damp ground. In regard to the development of dry-rot, it is established that the’ presence of the sap is the chief source of trouble . . . and such a process as now being experimented upon as promises not only to render the timber practically immune to dry-rot, but also to attacks from white ants, and should this prove successful . . . there is no doubt that karri will prove one of the most valuable timbers in the world. Karri is a most suitable timber for use as railway sleepers, as it holds the dogspikes firmly, no reboring being necessary; and the detrimental influences of dry-rot and white ants being removed by the powellising treatment, karri may be considered as the sleeper timber par excellence.
The Government decided to give the process a practical test. On this, Mr. Julius reported in the following terms: -
To determine this point thirty powellised sleepers are being placed in a particularly damp section of the South-Western Railway, and every effort will be made to cultivate dryrot in them by contact with badly-diseased specimens, &c, and the results noted.
The sleepers were placed in the ground on the 16th November, 1906. They were taken up three years later and analyzed, the analyst’s report being -
I find that the untreated karri is affected by dry-rot. These timber diseases seem to have travelled in a certain direction, as on one side and the end are the parts most affected. I found in many places along the side that the apparently affected area extends to a depth of th of an inch. At these places the fibres in the karri had almost disappeared, having given place to a granular and friable mass, which could be readily removed with the finger-nail. It is impossible to say whether the rot has penetrated deeper. I have examined the powellised karri sleeper and find it free from the above disease.
This proved that, although every attempt was made to develop dry-rot in the powellised timber, it remained sound, while the unpowellised was absolutely useless -
In no part of the sleeper can any of the fungi be found, and that fibre is sound all over the portion exposed. The condition of the sleeper is much more sound than the untreated sleeper.
In face of this evidence, we naturally ask the Government to give us some reason why they cancelled the contract with the Western Australian Government. Were they moved by purely party bias, as they were in connexion with the day-labour versus contract question ? Is it because there happens to be a Labour Government in office in Western Australia, and they desire to injure it ? I would remind them that if they injure a Labour Government in that State, they injure the whole people of the State, because the whole of the people of Western Australia are shareholders in the Government mills erected to supply the sleepers for the trans-Australian railway.
– Have the Government bought one sleeper since they cancelled the contract?
– I do not think so. So far as I know, they have not even called for tenders.
– That shows the hurry they were in. >
– It shows they had sufficient sleepers at each end to carry on for many months to come. There is other evidence which leads us to believe that party bias alone caused them to cancel the contract. Two years ago Mr. Hedges, when member for Fremantle, moved what was practically a noconfidence motion in another place because the Government were going to use powellised karri sleepers; but when he asked the people of Fremantle to re-elect him he lost his seat. Not being satisfied, he still desired to do something to damn the karri sleeper or to assist the Timber Combine, which, unfortunately, has control of nearly all the jarrah timber in the West. In 1906 a shed was erected on the Claremont show-ground, and twelve powellised Oregon timber posts and four unpowellised were used. Mr. Hedges, in his desire to secure evidence against the process, and, if possible, to poison the minds of the people against powellised karri, fossicked round the show-ground, found a piece of timber that had been attacked by white ants, gathered the remnants into a dish, and took them along to St. George’s Terrace. When the Minister of Works in Western Australia heard of this, he caused a complete investigation to be made, and received several letters. One of these was written by Mr. J. M. Ferguson, the contractor for the erection of the shed, to the Powellising Company. He said -
Referring to the building on the Claremont Show Ground erected by J. M. Ferguson Ltd., in 1906 - I remember deciding that we would use powellised Oregon uprights in the erection of the building. Twelve pieces of Oregon were handed to your men t’o be powellised at once - my recollection of the matter is that these were put in the boiling tank on the top of a quantity of smaller timber, four more pieces of Oregon were required, but there was not time to wait for another boiling of the Powell process, and. these were treated with Avenarius, as Ferguson Ltd. were agents for this preparation. The whole of the erection of the building on the Show Ground Was done in a hurry, and I should not be surprised to learn that the powellising had been imperfectly done.
Mr. Ferguson apparently was not perfectly satisfied, and he thought it was probable that the powellising treatment had not been complete with respect to these timbers. But it will be found that, as regards the powellised timbers, the treatment was entirely successful. I have also a letter from Mr. Floyd, who was at one time employed by Mr. J. M. Ferguson. It reads as -follows: -
I have much pleasure in confirming my conversation with you some days ago re the Oregon posts used by j. M. Ferguson Ltd. in the erec tion of the building on Claremont Show Ground in October, 190G. I remember clearly that it was intended that all the posts for the building were intended to be treated by the Powell process, but owing to the short time available to complete the building before the Show, it was impossible to put them all through the process. I remember distinctly that four of the posts could not be powellised, and, acting under instructions from Mr. J. M. Ferguson, I had the four posts coated with Avenarius before they were sent to the Show Ground. I was pt that time employed by J. M. Ferguson as yard foreman, and it was my work to see to the despatch of all orders, and consequently the despatch and particulars - of these posts came directly under my notice. I am prepared at any time to swear to the above statement.
– The only man who made a ‘ ‘ holy show ‘ ‘ oi himself with Mr. Hedges.
– Hear, hear ! In addition to this, the Minister of Works asked Mr. Shirley White, a well-known contractor of Perth, to go down to the Show Ground to open up all the posts - the twelve that had been powellised and the four that had not been treated - and see what effect the dry-rot and the white ants had had on the powellised posts. After investigating the matter, Mr. Shirley White wrote as follows : -
Ito oregon posts in building Show Ground erected by J. M. Ferguson in October, 1900. I have pleasure in stating that I have thoroughly examined said posts and find as follows : - There are sixteen posts in said building and they go down about 3 feet 9 inches in the ground. I had all of these uncovered down to the bottom, and therefore was able to thoroughly examine same. Twelve of these posts were treated by the Powell wood process, and four were not put through said process. I found that the twelve posts that had been powellised were perfectly sound in every respect; there was no sign cf white ants or’ dry-rot; in fact, practically as good as the day they were put into the ground, whereas the other four posts were all badly attacked by white ants and dry-rot, one of same having been entirely eaten away underground.
That is the one that Mr. Hedges found, and took the remnants of up to St. George’s- terrace to show his friends as the effect of the powellising process. The letter continues -
I find on examining the other buildings in the vicinity that all soft wood was badly attacked by white ants, also the white ants were attacking the jarrah struts on the abovementioned Oregon posts. These posts (oregon) have been in their present position since October, 1906, and-
That goes to prove that they attack not only unpowellised Oregon and unpowellised karri, but also unpowellised jarrah. It shows the necessity of the Government using on the transcontinental railway - the most important line in Australia - a timber which it has been proved will last longer than any other timber, as far as one can find out. Mr. Shirley White goes on to say -
I have no hesitation in saying that I was very surprised to find same in such perfect condition, as I know that unpowellised Oregon posts would not last any length of time in the same position. I may add that I examined these posts in the presence of the hon. the Minister for Works, together with the Acting Engineer-in-Chief and the Under Secretary for Works.
These reports clearly disprove the statement that in different parts of Western Australia powellised timber has been attacked by white ants or dry-rot. They have tried powellised timbers, not only ia the south-west, but also in the northwest, and all the evidence adduced by those who know anything about the matter has demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that such timbers will withstand either of these diseases. I had intended to quote some reports in connexion; with powellised karri timber that had been used in the north-west of Western Australia, but I will not weary the Senate. It is sufficient for me to state that, by its use in the construction or shearing sheds and hotels in Port Headland and other places in the north-west, it has beenproved that powellised karri has for many years stood the ravages of white ants’ and dry-rot. I desire now to refer to a report which has been received from Mr. R. F. Trout, Imperial Forest Economist in India. He says -
The writer has at present some powellised deal under observation. It has been down in a spot infested with white ants since 4th March,. 1907, and has, up to date (17th December, 19081, not been touched. A piece of untreated dealwas nailed to the powellised piece when first put down and was totally destroyed by white: ants in a few weeks.
A piece of untreated jarrah was destroyed within a few weeks, but a piece of unpowellised jarrah, which had been in the ground for about twenty months, showed no effects from either dry-rot or white ants. He goes on to say -
Another untreated piece was recently placed with the powellised piece and is being rapidly destroyed. Similar tests in other parts of India confirm these results. A large number of powellised and untreated pieces of different Indian woods are now being laid down, but it will be some time before any results can be arrived at. Sleepers of various kinds of woods are also being tested on the railway in Burma. Messrs. McEenzie and Co., Bombay, in 1906, carried out tests on powellised wood to ascertain if it loses its antiseptic properties if exposed to the weather. Planks of Poon and Mango were subjected for four nights and days to steam forced on them by an exhaust pipe, then a stream of water was directed on them for four days, and then the wood was subjected to alternate rain and sunshine in the monsoon, and was finally cut up and placed in white ants’ nests in three different places along with untreated wood of the same species. The untreated pieces were quickly destroyed, while the powellised pieces remained untouched.
In the face of all this evidence. I am quite satisfied that the Government will have to find a different plea for the cancellation of the sleeper contract, because the powellising process has been proved to be a success, not only in different parts of Australia, but apparently in different parts of the world. This, I remind honorable senators, is not a question that affects Western Australia alone, because any process that will have the effect of making room for the population that is much needed in this country, if we desire to adequately defend ourselves from foreign attack, will be beneficial, not merely to one State, but to the nation as a whole. The Scaddan Government desired to open up some of what is admittedly the best land in the whole of the Commonwealth for the purposes of closer settlement. It is a well-known fact that karri will not grow on any but the best country, and it was some of the best country in Western Australia that the Labour Government desired to open up by the establishment of mills and the supplying of sleepers for the transcontinental railway. I have not the slightest doubt but that in the long run the State will not be a loser, because karri is not only suitable for railway sleepers, but is undoubtedly the best timber that can be obtained for the building of waggons and coaches, and so on. It has been in use for a number of years, and as it gets better known throughout the Commonwealth, I am confident that it will be more used in coach and waggon building than any other timber that is used at present.
– What about Tasmanian blackbutt?
– It might be all right if it were powellised.
– It is the best wood in Australia.
– I am surprised at the representatives or Victoria not putting up a better fight for the use of powellised timber, seeing that in this State there is a large quantity of very inferior timber, which requires to undergo some treatment before it is suitable for railway sleepers. It may be suitable for use in this city, because the smoke and the fog of Melbourne may powellise the wood sufficiently to prevent an attack by white ants, or anything else. But in any other part of the world I am afraid that it would not be a success unless it had undergone some treatment. I wish to refer briefly to the so-called test Bills which are mentioned in the opening Speech. The first one relates to preference to unionists. I take it that we shall have an opportunity of discussing the principle should the Bill come before the Senate during the session. So far as this party is concerned, I am quite satisfied” that the time is opportune for a double dissolution. I believe that if this Parliament went to the country at the present time, not only would the Labour party come back with an increased majority in the Senate, but it would return with an increased majority in the other House.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Why not risk it ? Your party does not care to attempt to risk it.
– I am going to answer that question. I recognise that we are here to represent not only the interests of our party, but1 the interests of the different States of the Commonwealth. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the people of the Colonies would not have accepted the Constitution Bill had it not provided for their . equal . representation in the Senate.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - That question is not being raised now.
– You are not game to raise it honestly and legitimately.
– The reason why the people of the Colonies entered into Federation was because they recognised that the smaller States would be equally represented in the Upper House of the Parliament. If the present Government, carrying out their idea, should bring about a double dissolution on two insignificant Bills, what will it mean ? It will mean that the people of Australia when they entered into Federation were gulled. It will mean the absolute breaking down of our Federal system. If the Governor-General were to grant a double dissolution on two such insignificant measures, I for one should be prepared to advocate the abolition of the Senate, because I believe it would be rendered absolutely useless. A question was submitted to-day by Senator Russell to the Minister of Defence which has an important bearing on one of the so-called test Bills. The honorable senator wished to know whether the Government proposed to charge nonunionists in the Public Service concerned in the award of the Arbitration Court in the linemen’s case with their share of the cost of securing that award, or proposed themselves to pay the cost of securing it. The non-unionists are apparently to be given the same wages as unionists under the award of the Court. The unionists are to be called upon to pay the whole of the costs of securing the award in addition to the expense in which they have been involved in building up their union. According to the present Government, the non-unionist, or the “scab,” to give him his proper name, is to be given the right to come in and receive the same wages as the unionist, although he has contributed nothing to the expense of bringing about the betterment of his conditions. The Labour party have for twenty years been doing their best to bring about industrial peace. No one recognises more fully than do the members of that party the disastrous effects of strikes in different parts of the Commonwealth. No one realizes more keenly that it is the workers., the wealth producers of the country, who have at all times been the losers when industrial strikes have taken place. Although the pioneers of the Labour movement have built up the industrial tribunals which have made it possible to keep the wheels of industry continually turning, apparently the protection of those tribunals is to be withdrawn from them. If the present Government take from the pioneers of the Labour movement the protection they have earned and deserved, I for one will be prepared to go upon the platform and say that arbitration has failed, and that we must return to the old method of the strike. If we should do so I am prepared to say that the workers will have more to gain by it- than the employers. I should like the members of the present Government, or their supporters, to put forward one logical reason why the men who have devoted so much of their time and money to the building up of industrial tribunals should not be protected and put upon an equal footing with those who have not had the manliness or the courage to join a union or to organize their fellow workers in the different industries of the Commonwealth. Honorable senators opposite do not understand what it means to a man to have to go to his boss morning after morning to beg of him the opportunity to work in order that he may earn sufficient to keep himself and his family. Apparently all that troubles honorable senators on the otherside is how much dividend the workers can earn for them. I advise them to be very careful before going further in their efforts to break up trade unionism in this country. I advise them also to be very careful about further assisting their “ scab “ organization, the Independent Workers Union, or, as I understand it is now called, the Liberal Workers Union of Australia. When this test Bill comes before the Senate I hope that we. shall waste no time in discussing it. It attacks a very important principle for which we stand. It represents the thin end of the wedge which the party opposite would drive home if they could. We know that the present Government party if they had their way would carry out one of the promises they made to the electors. They would break down trade unionism altogether, and drag us back to the conditions of the old times when thousands of men carried their swags in the different States of Australia looking for a job for which they would get from 12s. to 15s. per week. I say that I am prepared to oppose the Bill referred to, notwithstanding the fact that it may only affect a few thousand out of the 5,000,000 inhabitants of the Commonwealth. Because I regard it as the thin end of the wedge, and believe that it attacks one of the principles of our party, I shall oppose it strongly. I come now to deal with the other so-called test Bill for the restoration of the postal vote. Every one will admit that the members of the Labour party have always declared that every person in Australia twenty-one years of age, and a natural born or naturalized British subject, should have the right to say who shall represent his interests in any Parliament in this country. We have gone further, and have said that every person should be given’ the opportunity to record his vote. This was proved when we submitted our amendment of the Electoral Act in 1912, and substituted the absentee vote for the postal vote. The fact that the introduction of the absentee vote gave thousands of electors throughout the Commonwealth the opportunity to record their votes who never previously could do so was clearly proved at the last Federal elections, because at those elections a greater percentage of the electors exercised the franchise than at any previous election held in the Commonwealth. The members of the present Government party have had a lot to say about the necessity of doing something for the pioneers of industry in the back country. They had a great deal more to say on the same subject before the 31st May last. But what are they going to do to give the pioneers of industry in the back country the right to say who shall represent their interests in the Federal Parliament? They propose to re-introduce the postal voting provisions which were in operation in 1910. I ask Senator Gould, who apparently is the only representative of the Government in the Senate at the present time-
– No, the Vice-President of the Executive Council is present.
– As the VicePresident of the Executive Council is otherwise engaged, I shall ask Senator Gould whether the postal vote which the Government desire to re-introduce will give the pioneers of the mining, pastoral, and agricultural industries the opportunity to record their votes ? There is no answer. The honorable senator knows well if he has gone into the question that the re-introduction of the postal voting provisions will nob give these people an opportunity to record their votes for candidates for the Federal Par liament. When the Electoral Commission was sitting in Perth, the Chief Electoral Officer of Western Australia was asked by one of the members of the Commission how long it would take him to get into communication with his officers, say, at Wyndham, in the northwest of the State. He replied that it would take two months. If that be so, I ask Senator Gould to say how it will be possible for any elector in the north-west of Western Australia to record a vote by post under the provisions which were in operation in 1910 ? Under those provisions an elector desiring to vote by post was required to make an application to the Returning Officer of the chief polling place in his district for a postal vote. According to the Chief Electoral Officer of Western Australia, it would take two months for the applications from electors at Wyndham, Hall’s Creek, and other places in the north-west of Western Australia, to go through from the chief polling place in the Dampier electorate, and postal ballot-papers to be forwarded to the electors. Before an elector could receive the postal ballotpaper for which he applied the election would be over, and his trouble would have gone for nothing- It should not be forgotten that electors desiring to vote by post under the provisions which the Government propose to re-introduce would be required to go to a lot of trouble. In order to obtain a postal ballot-paper the elector must first go before an authorized witness to sign his application form. An authorized witness under the law is not procurable next door or across the street in the north-west of Western Australia, and many electors there who desired to exercise the right to vote by post would have to travel from 20 to 50 miles to reach an authorized witness. They would again have to take the trip when they received the postal ballot-paper before they could record their votes. I therefore claim that, so far as the pioneers of industry in the outlying districts are concerned, the postal vote proposed by the present Government would be an absolute farce. During last session honorable senators on this side submitted an amendment upon the Government measure, which would not only have given the pioneers of industry in the different States an opportunity to record their votes, but would have afforded a similar opportunity ito the sick and to those who might be travelling between the different States. If an election should take place during the next few months the Government will not be able to charge the Labour party with the responsibility if the sick people of Australia are unable to record their votes, because if they accepted the amendment we submitted last session every person in Australia might record a vote even if an election took place tomorrow. I shall take up the same attitude with respect to this measure that I took up when it was before us last session. As a party we are prepared to give everybody in the Commonwealth an opportunity to exercise the franchise. We have clearly demonstrated that in the past. There is one other matter to which I should like to refer, and that is the Commonwealth Savings Bank. During the last Federal elections our opponents criticised the Labour party very severely. Senator McColl, amongst others, referred to some of our legislation in very strong terms. He spoke of the Maternity Allowance Act as “ a low-down political dodge.” If it be “a low-down political dodge,” I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council why he, as one of the responsible Ministers of the Commonwealth, has not moved for its repeal? If it were such a distasteful measure to the Government prior to the last elections, surely they should give effect to their pledges on the hustings. During the recent campaign, the Treasurer, Sir John Forrest, in travelling through Western Australia, described the land tax as “ an unjust and inequitable tax,” and “ an unfair burden on a small section of the people.” Now, if it be “ an unjust and inequitable tax,” and if it constitutes “ an unfair burden on a small section of the people,” why have not the Government attempted to repeal it ? Surely a political party should endeavour to give effect to its policy.
– It is a safe thing to say that the majority of the Ministry are opposed to the Maternity Allowance Act.
– That is so; and I take it that they are only waiting until they can obtain a double dissolution to repeal the Maternity Allowance Act, the Land Tax Act, the Australian Notes Act, and the Commonwealth Bank Act - that is, if we may judge them by the words which they have uttered in this chamber and in another place during the past three years. Unfortunately, the Government appear to have no policy. I made that statement on the north-west coast of Western Australia some twelve months ago. At the end of the meeting which I was addressing, one of those present took exception to my statement. He said, “ I have the platform of the Liberal party here - a platform containing fourteen planks.” I replied, “ I am very pleased to hear it. It is certainly news to me, and I give the gentleman a cordial invitation to come on the platform and read the fourteen planks of the Liberal party’s programme.” Thereupon the person who had objected to my statement said, “ Unfortunately, I have not the platform with me, but I will send it along to Senator Buzacott tomorrow morning.” I may say that it has not yet reached me, and the accuracy of my statement that the Liberal party had no programme was proved conclusively by the fact that only twelve months ago they had to ask for a six-weeks’ adjournment of this Parliament to enable them to prepare a policy.
– Senator McColl says that it is a great policy.
– But he also says that they are going to hide it for some time. It seems to be in process of incubation. So far as the Commonwealth Savings Bank is concerned, I consider that the late Government took up the right attitude when they brought forward the Commonwealth Bank Act. That has been conclusively proved by events since. I notice that the Premiers of some of the States are taking up a hostile attitude towards it, just as they did when “it was introduced. But, although Mr. Watt, the Premier of Victoria, is apparently more hostile to the Commonwealth Savings Bank than is any other Premier, we must recollect that the people of Victoria, prior to the introduction of the Commonwealth Bank Act, had very few facilities indeed for depositing their savings. In proof of my statement I propose to read portion of a leading article which was published in the Age- of 5th September, 1912. At that time, the Age was a strong supporter of the present Liberal Government. I am pleased to notice that it has recently arrived at the conclusion at which the Labour party arrived some time ago, namely, that the Ministry were prepared to make a great number of promises prior to a general election - promises which they now find it very convenient to forget. It is all very well for their supporters to ask, “ Why did not the Labour party amend the Tariff during the three years that a- Labour Government were in office?” That is the interjection with which our ears are always assailed by Ministerial supporters. But I would remind them that in 1910 the Labour party were returned to this Parliament pledged to the new Protection. From every platform from which I spoke during that campaign I made it clear that I would not vote for an increased measure of Protection unless an opportunity were afforded us of protecting, not merely the manufacturer and producer, but also the employe and consumer. It will be seen, therefore, that if we were to respect our platform pledges we could not re-open the Tariff during the three years that the Fisher Government held office. But had that Government been returned at the last general elections it was part of their policy to re-open the Tariff for the purpose of giving adequate encouragement to Australian production. Senator Ferricks. - The Labour party made that promise, and it has never broken one of its pledges.
– That is absolutely true. I was about to refer to an article which was published in the Age newspaper in respect of the effect to which the establishment of the Commonwealth Savings Bank has had upon the Savings Bank of Victoria. This article was written whilst the Savings Bank Bill was before the Victorian Legislative Assembly. It says -
The new Savings Bank Bill, which Mr. Watt explained last night to the Assembly, is a measure that will deeply interest every thrifty Victorian citizen. . . . Mr. Watt attempted no concealment as to the genesis of the new departure. He feels that the status, and even the existence, of the States Savings Bank has been challenged by the rival Commonwealth establishment, and he is determined not to leave n, stone - unturned to prevent the citizens of Victoria deserting their own bank. Sympathy will naturally gravitate to so energetic and beneficently provident a reformer; but, at the same time, we must spare a kindly thought to his competitor. The Victorian Savings Bank is progressively and rapidly becoming one of the most liberal institutions of its kind in the world, but before the Federal Bank was definitely projected it slumbered for half a century.
That last remark applies not only to Victoria, but to every State of the Commonwealth. Even if the Commonwealth Savings Bank were to suspend business operations tomorrow, the Labour party could claim that it has done good work in the different States. In conclusion, I wish to quote a paragraph by a leading writer on political economy, which, in ray opinion, very accurately describes the trade unionist, who, by his self-denying industry, has built up the tribunals throughout this Commonwealth which makes for industrial peace. He says -
Beneath things he seeks the law; he would know how the globe was forged, and the stars were hung, and trace to their sources the springs of life. And then, as the man develops his nobler nature, there arises the desire higher yet - the passion of passions, the hope of hopes - the desire that he, even he, may somehow aid in making life better and brighter, in destroying want and sin, sorrow and shame. He masters and curbs the animal; he turns his back upon the feast and renounces the .place of power; he leaves it to others to accumulate wealth, to gratify pleasant tastes, to bask themselves in the warm sunshine of the brief day. He works for those he never saw and never can see; for a fame, or it may be but for a scant justice, that can only come long after the clods have rattled upon his coffin lid. He toils in the advance, where it is cold, and there is little cheer from men, and the stones are sharp and the brambles thick. Amid the scoffs of the present and the sneers that stab like knives, he builds for the future; he cuts the trail that progressive humanity may hereafter broaden into a high-road. Into higher, grander spheres desire mounts and beckons, and a star that rises in the east leads him on. Lo ! the pulses of the man throb with the yearnings of the god - he would aid in the process of the suns !
– One would like on an occasion of this kind to be able to say a word or two in commendation of the programme which the Government have submitted to Parliament as an indication of what they would like to accomplish for the benefit of the Commonwealth during the current year. But, unfortunately, I cannot utter one single word of praise of anything they have put before the country through the Governor-General’s Speech. On the contrary, there is room for condemnation in every clause of the ViceRegal utterance, and in every sentence relating to -the work which they intend asking us to perform during this session. I would also have liked to commend the mover and seconder of the motion - the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. But, frankly, I am unable to do so. Usually it devolves upon the mover of that motion to say something that is almost outside the scope of the Governor-General’s Speech. But on the present occasion Senator Oakes simply uttered a tirade - of abuse against his political opponents - abuse which was neither justified, sensible, nor edifying, and . which barely escaped being unparliamentary. Small as are the number of Government supporters, it is time we heard from them some word of protest, justification, or explanation of the condemnation that has been heaped upon the Government by honorable senators on this side. Does not Senator McColl think that the serious charges made this week by Senator Rae and Senator Gardiner merit a reply of some kind ? The whole Commonwealth is justified in believing that the exposures made by those two honorable senators are absolutely correct, and yet the Government have not a word to say in their own defence. I am sure that is the verdict of the Commonwealth concerning the present Administration, which came into office with such bright promises of reform and improvement. We heard yesterday a severe and critical condemnation of their action in connexion with the eastwest railway. We have heard to-day, in a new form, from Senator Buzacott, a condemnation of their action in regard to the powellised sleeper contract with the Government of Western Australia, but not a word of justification, excuse, or defence can the Government offer in either case.
– They cannot even get their supporters here.
– They cannot get them here at any time; but surely when charges of this description are levelled against the Government, the least they can do is to put up some semblance of a fight in their own defence, if they have anything at all to say. We are justified in believing, in the circumstances, that every charge made against the Government has been proved up to the hilt, because in this place, of all others, where the Government could defend themselves, they have not attempted in any way to do so. The two great national undertakings that have been touched by the Government have been practically wrecked by their want of capacity to deal with big questions. They have mishandled the construction of the transcontinental railway from the time they took it over. Yesterday I asked the Honorary Minister a question, based on a telegram sent to a well-known industrial organization, as to the alleged discharge of 200 men by the Government. Of course, we’ did not charge the Government with being responsible; but we wanted information, and the.reply we got to-day from the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs, under whose control the work is, shows that he does . not know anything about the matter. It is trifling in the extreme to him and the Government that 200 men should be discharged from their work in an inhospitable region, to find their way back to civilization as best they can. It is a matter of absolute indifference to them. They know nothing whatever about it.
– Do you think you are quite fair to the Minister, in view of the reply I gave you ?
– I am grateful, to the Vice-President of the Executive Council for the reply he gave me; but it shows clearly that the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs does not know what is going on at the works. He says that a wire has been received from Adelaide which seems to show certain things. I contend that the Minister in charge of such an important work ought to be in a position to answer “Yes” or “No” to a question of that kind. He should be able to say that the men have been discharged, and why; or that they have not been discharged, and that the telegram which I handed to him yesterday is not true. It is surely not too much to ask the Government to be in a position, where such a great work as this is concerned, to say whether questions asked here are in accord with fact or not.
– Especially as “ time is the essence of the contract.”
– It has been contended throughout by the Government and their supporters that, in dealing with this contract, time was all that mattered. I haveshown that they have made a shocking mess of one large national work they have handled. We should have thought that this Government of all the talents would be able to deal, at any rate, reasonably well with a matter like the powellised sleeper contract; but that also has fallen through, the reason given for the cancellation of the contract being that the Western Australian Government failed to keep up the necessary supply. It is some months since that step was taken, and yet I think I am right in saying that the Government have not purchased a single sleeper since the contract was cancelled, up to the present day. Surely- the Western Australian Government, if they were six weeks or two months behind in their supplies, should have been given a chance of pulling up some of the arrears.
– It was cancelled on the assumption that delay would occur, and it has not occurred.
– The reason makes very little difference. Whether they cancelled it on the assumption that the State Government would fail to keep the arrangement, or on the assumption that it had already failed, the effect was precisely the same. The fact still remains that if the State Government had been allowed to go on they would have been in a position to supply us with sleepers before they were required. There was, therefore, no justification whatever for cancelling the agreement. The Government stand condemned throughout the Commonwealth for the absolute lack of ability they have displayed, or, indeed, for something worse, in this matter. We are told that the contract was cancelled because certain big contractors in Western Australia and other places have come along looking for some return for their support, financial and otherwise, of the present Government. We wonder whether this is true. We wonder whether the big contractor has actually applied the screw to Ministers. We would .like to know whether he has said to them, “ I have stuck to you for so long, it is now up to you to do something for me.” There is the inference. We have heard a good deal about slandering the Commonwealth, and I am not going to make any charges against the Government, or any member of it. No member of this party has ever made charges of corruption in the way that Ministers have tried to make out. None of us has ever said, or even suggested, that Ministers have accepted bribes; but we do know that the big contractor, the big merchant, and the rest of them, are looking for some indirect benefit for the direct support they have given the Government and their supporters in the past. Let me examine the record of the Government during the time they have been in office. Not one of their promises to the people has been kept. They presented at the opening of last session a programme which was lengthy, but contained no measures of great importance. I am going to deal briefly with some of the main planks in their platform.
– Does the honorable senator call them planks?
– They have not been powellised, and, consequently, have been attacked by dry-rot, or white ants, and have crumbled away, with the result that not only was last session barren, but the recess was barren ; and, so far. as we can see, the Government are doing their best to make the coming session and next year barren also. I have charged the Government with doing nothing. I propose to show wherein they have failed, and, at the same time, to reply to the charges of blocking legislation levelled by the Vice-President of the Executive Council and his colleagues in all parts of Australia against this party. Any legislation of any consequence whatever to the people that we have been asked to pass has been passed in a very short space of time. No man can honestly charge the Senate with blocking anything that the Government have brought forward for the benefit of the community.
– If any blocking was done, it was done by the absence of their own supporters.
– Certainly it was, and not by any action of the Labourparty here or in another place. The programme put before us last session by the Government reminded me of a shop window display of millinery, where everything was in the window, and nothing in the shop. The Government had no intention of doing anything, and required all their goods for window dressing.
– They did not require, a very large window.
– No; but nevertheless they took a bigger window last year to hold their display than they have« taken this year. In the very first paragraph of the opening Speech last year they told us that they were going to remove the restriction on public discussion, or, in other wards, to do away with thesystem that was very wisely introduced* by the Labour Government of compelling writers in newspapers to be reasonably honest. Dp to last year, no matter howuntrue or scurrilous an article might be, no matter how it might attack a man’s* private affairs or private life, a newspaper was permitted to publish the article, and so long as the writer was astute enough to evade the libel law the newspaper went scot-free, and, of course, damaged the person concerned very considerably. The Fisher Administration decided that if it was good enough for a man to write an article for a newspaper it ought to be good enough for him to sign his name to the article. Only the other day the manager of the Labour newspaper in Adelaide, to his credit be it said, went before the Electoral Commission to give evidence. When he was asked whether the restriction, so-called, was really a restriction, he answered, “ No.”- He said that it did not interfere with the Labour newspaper in Adelaide in one iota; that they experienced no difficulty, hardship, or inconvenience; that for two or three months he contributed a column or two over his own name every morning, and found that the journal did not suffer in any form. We were told by the present Government last year that they intended to remove this restriction on public liberty. What have they done ?
– There is no restraint upon honest criticism.
– Exactly ; and it does not matter to any honest writer whether he is writing very severe criticism of a political organization or a politician. There is no earthly reason why we should not be subject to whatever amount of criticism may be considered necessary. We do not object to that at all. All that we ask is that a critic should have the courage to identify himself with his article, just the same as the person whom he is criticising has to be identified with it. We ask for fair play, nothing more and nothing less. But our honorable friends on the Treasury bench have not kept the promise they gave to the Conservative press in Australia. Surely the Conservative press, who raised all the hubbub about the provision for signed articles, had a right to expect that the Government would do something to remove the disability under which they are supposed to labour. Up to the present time, however, nothing has been done in this direction. I am rather surprised that the Conservative press, although they are supporting the present Administration, are not taking serious steps to ask when it is in tended to honour the blank cheque given to them.
– Evidently you do not read the A rgus, because it wants the Government to “ gag “ us every day.
– The Argus and other Conservative newspapers will agree absolutely to the members of the Labour party being “ gagged “ in this Parliament on every conceivable occasion, but they do not agree to what we have suggested, although our suggestion does not amount to the “ gag,” or anything like it. All that we ask is that the writers for newspapers shall be honest in their dealings with the community, and sign their articles. Surely the press of Australia will not forget the unkept promises when the Government and their supporters are before the country at the next election. We were told, too, that the Government were going to introduce legislation to alter the Arbitration Act. How has that promise been dealt with ? True it is that early last session a Bill was prepared to deal with the question, but it was dropped in a very great hurry. The Government did not go very far in the matter; finding that they were dealing with an unpopular subject they dropped their attempt to interfere with the Arbitration Act, and presented the trivial Bill that we know now as a test Bill. Whilst they have not been plucky enough to interfere with the Arbitration Act in any form, I am sure that honorable senators were astounded this afternoon to hear, in reply to a question asked by Senator Russell as to their intention regarding an arbitration award made for a section of the Post Office workers, that the Ministry had determined to flout the Arbitration Court.
– By giving preference to non-unionists.
– That is not the worst feature of this matter. I point out to my honorable friend that preference to non-unionists is bad enough. Preference to any person who has come under an award of the Arbitration Court would be bad enough, but I place on the Government of the Commonwealth the greater offence or crime of having deliberately decided to set aside a portion of an award made by the Arbitration Court. Now, under this award certain men were expressly excluded. It was not to apply to men who were not members of the appellant union. We were told by their representative here to-day that the Government intend to flout the award, and pay the men who were specially excluded by the President of the Court.
– Are you aware of the fact that Senator Clemons, speaking on behalf of the Government, assured me that they would, above and beyond all, observe the law?
– That makes the position all the worse. A breach of an award is bad enough when it is committed by a private employer, and” meets with our denunciation. Suppose that in the present case the workers had done something of that kind, would the Government and their supporters have applauded them here to-day? I venture to say that they would not be able to find words sufficiently strong in the English language to condemn a body who would be guilty of such a gross breach of an award. What- is going to be the consequence of the Government’s decision ? Here is an award made by a tribunal established after many years of strenuous work by the workers, of the Commonwealth. Every leader in the industrial movement for years advised the workers to put their faith in an Arbitration Court, because a strike is a boomerang that comes back and hits the striker much more severely than it hits the employer. We told . the workers that if we could get a reasonable Arbitration Court their troubles would be at an end. The workers, to a large extent-, concurred in this view, and agreed to go. to the Arbitration Court, but now we find the Government of the Commonwealth flouting the institution which was created to some extent with the aid of their own supporters. We find the Government belittling the Court in the eyes of, not only the workers, but the whole community. This creates, I think, a very serious position indeed. At the present time the tramway men of Adelaide are labouring under very great difficulties as regards an award. Many of us were anxious to see an alteration made in the Arbitration Act that would prevent an employer from altering an order made under an award. We find that the management of the Adelaide tramways have taken the liberty of altering the conditions of their employes, despite the fact that there is an appeal before the Arbitration Court. We con demn the tramway management for their action in this matter, but we find that the action of the Commonwealth Government towards a section of their own employes is infinitely worse, and I am afraid that as a result of their decision-1 the Arbitration Court will suffer very” much in the eyes of the whole community, particularly in the confidence of the workers after the reply that was given here to-day.
– But is not that party very strong in insisting upon the observance of law and order?
– Yes. “Law and order “ is only to apply so far as the worker is concerned. The Government have a perfect right-, so they tell us, to break any law they please, but the worker must not break a law. Getting away from that question we were told that the Government were to set the Inter-State Commission at some useful work for the benefit, of Australia. I do not wish to find any fault with the work they are doing to-day, nor do I want to find any fault with the Commission. I am satisfied, that whatever work they may be engaged upon they will do it well. But I point out tothe solitary, representative of the Government here this afternoon that the work which the Commission are doing is absolutely worthless, because I for one do not intend to take very much, if I take any, notice of the work they are doing in connexion with the Tariff. I know that it was within the obligations of the Commission that they might be called upon to do certain work in connexion with Tariff revision, but it was never intended that they should frame a Tariff for this or any. other Government.
-It was never intended that the Government should push their responsibility on to the Commission.
– That is the point I am coming to. It is clearly evident that the Government are divided on the question of Protection or Free Trade. Composed of men holding quite contrary fiscal views the Government must have said, “ The Tariff is a dangerous thing for us to handle, and therefore we will hand it over to a non-political body, who will make an investigation.” In the meantime, not only are we losing the benefit of the experience and the advice of the members of the Commission in matters dealing with Inter-State trade and commerce-
– Do you say that the Government should not have referred the Tariff to these people?
– The Government should not have referred the Tariff to the Inter-State Commission in the way they did. I said earlier in my speech that it was possible that the Commission might be called upon to do certain work in connexion with the Tariff. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that these gentlemen have been handed the work to perform in order to escape the difficulty which was indicated when Mr. Cook was asked to declare his policy. He said he would not declare his policy, because it might result in a split in the party. It was evidently considered that the Tariff might be the rock on which the Ministry would be wrecked, and the inquiry into it was therefore handed over to the InterState Commission, who should have been engaged in other work for the Commonwealth.
– It was handed over to the Inter-State Commission only for the purpose of securing evidence, and not for the purpose of framing a new Tariff.
– And the Minister should know that there is no record of that evidence being kept.
SenatorNEWLAND.- That is the worst feature about the matter. So far as we can learn, all the evidence which the Commission takes will be stored up in the brains of the gentlemen who are making the inquiry, and will not be available for Parliament, as it should be. If the Inter-State Commission had been set to work to carry out the duties for which it was primarily called into existence, it would have been unnecessary for the Prime Minister or the Treasurer to attend a gathering of the State Premiers, and ask what they ought to do in order to deal with certain matters concerning the States and the Commonwealth.
– The evidence on Tariff questions taken by the Inter-State Commission should be available for members of this Parliament.
– That is so. We have to depend entirely on newspaper reports of the evidence taken by the Commission from day to day. In the circumstances, I have no doubt that many members of the Senate, and of another place, will decide to do as I intend to do in the matter, and will take little or no notice of the inquiry by the Inter-State Commission. We recognise that sooner or later the present Government or another will have to open up the question of the Tariff, and we shall then have an opportunity to do something practical.
– It will not be the present Government.
– I think it will not. . We were told that in the meantime any anomalies discovered in the Tariff were to be dealt with. The anomalies of the Tariff are apparent to any man who is aware of the fact that many of our industries are languishing because of them. I am sure that the Vice-President’ of the Executive Council, as a Victorian, will agree with me that something should be done for the benefit of our languishing industries. A promise, to do something in the matter was made last session by the Government, who so far have done nothing but cast their responsibility upon the shoulders of three Commissioners who were appointed for a very different purpose.
– I am surprised that members of the honorable senator’s party should mention the Tariff at all, when during three years of office they did nothing.
– That is an old. parrot cry that we have frequently heard in this chamber.
– It is an echo of Senator Millen.
– Yes, an echo of the parrot who is not here at present. What is the real position ? Why does not Senator McColl tell the whole truth in this matter? He knows as well as does any honorable senator on this side that) the Labour Government laid it down clearly and distinctly that they would not interfere with the Tariff unless they were permitted to alter the Constitution in the way they proposed to secure new Protection as well as old Protection. I ask Senator McColl to say whether that is not so.
– In the meantime our industries were being starved.
– The Minister has repeated the charge that during three years of office the Labour party did nothing in this matter. I ask him whether when the Fisher Government took office it was not declared as part of their policy that they would not interfere with the Tariff unless they could secure not only the old Protection, but also new Protection ?
– I am concerned only with what they did not do.
– That is one of those shuffling answers which may do very well from Liberal platforms before an audience of old ladies. But I tell the Minister that a reply of that kind is of no use here. We want the whole truth. When the honorable senator makes an interjection across the floor of this chamber I pin him down to it, and when I do so he refuses to reply to my question.
– The honorable senator evidently does not like it.
– I care nothing for the Minister’s reply. He knows where I am on the question of Free Trade verms Protection. But when the Labour party are charged with having .done nothing, those who make that charge should, in fairness to themselves, if they desire to be considered honorable men, tell the whole truth. They should be prepared to admit that the Fisher Government promised the people of Australia that they would not interfere with the Tariff unless they could secure an alteration of the Constitution which would enable them to give Protection to every one, and not to a particular section. The Fisher Government observed that promise from the day they took office till the day they left it. They made every possible effort to give effect to the promise. They asked the people of Australia to amend the Constitution to enable them to do what they desired to do, and the present Government and their supporters throughout Australia did their very best, and unfortunately succeeded, in preventing the Fisher Government interfering with the -Tariff in the way they desired. That is my reply to Senator McColl’s interjection, and I am sorry that his colleague, the Minister of Defence, is not also present to hear it. We are told that the present Government are the friends of the farmers. I hold no political brief for the farming community or any other section. I have very little use for the politician who goes around - I was going to say crawling to the farmers, but I will not use that word- -
– “ Smoodging.”
– I am afraid that the word the honorable senator sug gests would not be considered parliamentary. I will say that I have no use for the politician who goes around patronising the farmer and telling him that he is the only friend the farmer has in politics, and that the Labour party are out to destroy him and his industry at every turn. What has been done by those gentlemen who profess to be the friends of the farmer? In paragraph 4 o’f the Governor-General’s Speech we were informed that the Government proposed to take advantage of the visit of the High Commissioner to discuss with him the possibility of opening up new markets in various parts of the world for the disposal of the farmer’s produce, and that they were also going to establish closer relations between local producers and consumers in Great Britain. Has anything been done in that direction ? The farmers have been waiting anxiously for the fulfilment of the promise which the Government made to them.
– The Government will ‘ not even give the fruit growers the benefit of a decent inquiry in London.
– As my honorable friend reminds me, the Government have refused to permit men who know the farming industry in this country from A to Z to go abroad and help to open up markets in other parts of the world. The farmers are waiting for election day tq thank the Government and their supporters for the great efforts they have made to further the interests of the farming community. We were told that steps were being taken to deal with questions arising out of the agreement entered into with the authorities in the Old Country in 1909 on the subject of defence. All we know concerning that agreement, and what has- been done in connexion with it, is rather to the discredit of the Prime Minister than otherwise. He has been informed that he made a promise which he is not in a position to carry out. As a result, something approaching a snub has been administered to the honorable gentleman by the Home authorities. Here we have another instance of the failure of the Government to carry out their promises, even in connexion with so important a matter as the defence of the Commonwealth. There is another very important matter in connexion with which the people have been waiting to discover what the Government propose to do. It was the subject of another promise made to the electors at the last elections. The Government put it on their programme. It was another of the blank cheques which they handed to the people of Australia, and which they have neither the inclination nor the means to meet at the present time. J refer now to the promised scheme of national insurance, about which the Government and their supporters made so much noise at the last general elections. We were told that the wicked and iniqutous maternity grant of the Fisher Government, and a considerable portion of the amount paid for old-age pensions, were to go by the board. The electors were informed that this Government of giant intellects proposed to frame a measure providing for a scheme of national insurance on a contributory basis to cover sickness, accident, old-age pensions, widows’ pensions, and maternity allowances.
– We never said that old-age pensions were to go by the board.
– I tell the VicePresident of the Executive Council that from nearly every platform in Australia from which they spoke, members of the party to which he belongs told the electors that the cost of old-age pensions was becoming too heavy a burden for the people to bear, and that the party proposed to introduce something on the lines
I have indicated to compel people to contribute to the cost of these pensions themselves.
– That is a figment of the honorable senator’s” imagination.
– My imagination is not nearly so vivid as is that of Senator McColl. The honorable senator has imagined a great many things from time to time. I repeat that many members of the party to which he belongs made the statement I have mentioned. The Government scheme was to be substituted as a more equitable and just one to the people of Australia. Now they are ashamed of their words, and apparently desire to repudiate the scheme. Surely this is another blank cheque about which, not only the farmers, but the workers of Australia, will desire to ask some pertinent questions at the next elections.
– The Government found that the friendly societies were opposed to them, and as a result they quickly climbed down.
– They found that they were absolutely on unsafe ground, and consequently deemed it better to say nothing about the rash promise which they had made. We were told, too, that something was to be done in the matter of the maternity allowance. We were assured that it would be limited to making proper provision for relief in necessitous cases. In other words, the Government were going to pauperize the mothers of Australia.
– I think they wanted to limit the maternity allowance to ladies over sixty years of age.
– I am aware that they have a great many friends amongst the ladies who are over sixty years of age, and I am sure the Labour party would not object to special provision being made for them. Unfortunately, we have in office a Government whose members are prepared to pick out certain persons in the community and say, “ If you like to come to us in a humble and contrite spirit at the time when you most need assistance, we will grant it to you.” I am confident that if any such system were adopted in the Commonwealth, the most deserving women of the community would refuse to make any claim at all.
SenatorFindley.- The Government wish to number every elector in the Commonwealth, just as racehorses are numbered.
– I would not object to every elector being numbered, because we should then be numbering the strong as well as the weak. But when it is seriously proposed to penalize a section of the community - as the Government have avowed their intention of doingI am certain that the people of Australia will revolt against it.
– Does the old-age pension pauperize anybody?
– Is that distributed all round?
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council knows that every man and woman who reaches a certain age is entitled to the old-age pension unless he or she possesses a certain amount of this world’s substance.
– The honorable senator is destroying his own argument.
– I am not. I may tell the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the object of the Labour party is to ‘remove even that barrier to the enjoyment of the old-age pension. We merely took what we could get at the time. But we are anxious to go the full length of saying that every man and woman in the community, upon reaching the prescribed age, shall be entitled to the old-age pension.
– The old-age pension will never be upon sound ground until that principle has been established.
– Exactly, and the Labour party will not be satisfied with anything less. We are told in para- graph 8 of the GovernorGeneral’speech that -
Important proposals for. the development cf the Northern Territory Will be made.
– When ?
– By-and-by. The time is not yet opportune to give effect to any such proposals. We all recognise the importance of the Northern Territory from the standpoint of maintaining the purity of our race, and also from a revenueproducing stand-point. Yet the so-called Liberal Government have done absolutely nothing to develop it. They promised to introduce important proposals for its development immediately. But what is their record? They have discharged half-a-dozen officials in the Territory who held very important positions there. They have thus saved about £3,000 annually, and they have cancelled the appointment of a Commission which had been appointed to investigate certain matters connected with the development of the Territory. Instead of having done anything in the development of that country, the Government have done everything in their power to retard it. Last session a Bill was passed through this Chamber authorizing the construction of a short section of railway there. Since then we have been told by the Prime Minister and others that the Senate imposed impossible conditions in relation to that Bill. That statement was contrary to fact. The measure ©merged from this Chamber in a slightly improved form. But nothing has been done by the Ministry in regard to that matter. They have merely discharged half-a-dozen officers, and recalled a Commission which was taking evidence in the Territory.
– They discharged those officers because they were Labour men.
– Some of them were not Labour men, I understand. But while certain of those officers have been transferred to important positions elsewhere, others have not. We have heard a lot about one gentleman, whose presence in the Territory was absolutely necessary if settlement was to be encouraged there. I refer to Mr. Ryland. I never saw him in my life, but I know that there was no position there more important than that of the Director of Lands. His was the last office which should have been abolished. I understand that the duties of his position are now being discharged by two or three clerks. We are sure to develop the Northern Territory very rapidly indeed under these conditions. The members of the Northern Territory Railways and Development Commission, who were appointed to investigate, amongst other things, the question of railway routes, have been hurriedly recalled. Their work has been brought to an abrupt end, and to-day, from one end of the Territory to the other, nothing is being done to encourage its development. We were also assured by the Government that a Land Ordinance was to be passed, repealing the Ordinance that was enacted at the instance of the Fisher Government, The present Ministry are great believers in a. policy which permits of the aggregation of large estates. The Fisher Ministry framed a policy of land settlement for the Territory, which they believed to be a sound one, and their successors have promised to repeal it. Why have they not done so, and thus given the American Beef Trust and the land boodler an opportunity of collaring the whole of that area?
– They could get that under the Ordinance of the Fisher Government.
– No. Under that Ordinance the Government would have such control of the land that it would be impossible for any company to commandeer a larger area than they wished to grant.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator has not read the Ordinance.
– I have read it very carefully, andIamfamiliarwith its provisions.In my judgment it is more calculated toprevent the accumulation of large estates than any other Ordinance with which I am acquainted. I have already dealt with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, and I merely wish to add to what 1 have previously said that it must be a bitter disappointment to every section of the community to find the Government dilly-dallying with the work of construction. They do not appear to know their own minds. They originally declared that they were going to do away with the day-labour system, and to ‘substitute for it the contract system.They led us to believe that they would Have the line almost constructed within a fortnight. The fact is that they are afraid to give effect to their own views. They have not sufficient faith in their own policy. The result is that the construction of this line is being shamefully delayed. The uniform railway gauge is another question that we were told was going to be finally and definitely settled, but the Government seem to have no fixed policy in regard to it. The Senate gave them permission to construct the railway from Pine Creek to Katherine River on almost any gauge they liked; but instead of having any policy of their own on the question of the uniformity of gauge in Australia, the Government have gone to the State Premiers for one. The railway engineers have made joint recommendations in the matter, and yet the Government have not definitely made up their minds what the future gauge shall be, or on whom the cost will fall, or what proportion the Commonwealth and States will bear. There can be no question of greater importance to the future of Australia, and every day’s delay in its settlement will add tremendously to the ultimate cost.I have my own idea as to what the gauge should be, but I am much more concerned about our having a uniform gauge throughout the continent. The Government propose to seek a Conference with the State Premiers on the question. They delegate the Tariff to the InterState Commission, and the railway gauge problem to the Premiers’ Conference. In this way they hand over work which they ought to shoulder to persons who are practically irresponsible, so far as this
Parliament is concerned. Even on so important a question as the utilization of the Murray ‘waters, they had no policy of their own.
– You South Australians are really very unfair.
– There is no foundation for that accusation,In the policy speech delivered on 12th August last, these words occur -
The policy of co-operating with the States in the utilization of the waters of the Murray River system will be encouraged. It is understood that an expert report has been presented to the Premiers of the States interested.
The State Premiers met in Melbourne during the last few weeks, and prepared a scheme, which was laid before the Prime Minister, showing that the Government had no policy of their own on the question, and that, whatever is their policy, it has been agreed on at the suggestion of the Premiers. I say nothing about the terms of the agreement, which will come before us later. My charge is that, although the Government put the subject on their programme, they had framed no policy themselves, but waited until it was framed for them.
-Col on el Sir Albert Gould. - The State Premiers made the suggestion as to the division of the waters. The Federal Government could not do that. They have not sufficient control to do it.
-There would be very little difficulty in the Federal Government taking control of the whole question.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Only so far as navigation is concerned. They could not touch the question of irrigation. They could not stop the flow of water for any State for irrigation purposes.
– The honorable senator is confirming what I have been saying. The Government have no policy on the question. The State Premiers have drafted one for them, which they have adopted.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The State Premiers are the people primarily interested, so far as irrigation is concerned.
– The Commonwealth is primarily interested in this, and almost every other great public utility.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - If the State Premiers have suggested a good policy, why object to it?
– I am not objecting to it. I am objecting to the barrenness of the Government, so far as ideas of their own are concerned. Last August they said they had a policy, and promised to submit it to the people.
– This is the only Commonwealth Government that ever touched the subject and brought it to a head by their policy of assisting the States, which they have promised to do, and which no other Government made a single step towards doing.
– I represented in the South Australian Parliament the district of Reninark, which is intimately affected by the Murray waters question. Several agreements were entered into during that time by the State Premiers, but none ever came to anything.
– Why did they not?
– Because they had to be submitted to the various Parliaments, and the same thing will happen to the present agreement.
– They came to nothing because of the exorbitant demands of South Australia.
– South Australia’s demands, . from a South Australian stand-point, seem very reasonable. The same may be said in the case of Victoria and . New South Wales. In this Parliament we should look at the question from a national, and not a parochial, stand-point. I hope that when the agreement comes before us, the honorable senator and his colleagues will look at it from the stand-point of the Commonwealth, and not of any individual State.
– Permit me to say that you are not showing much discretion in dealing with it.
– That is a matter of opinion. I am not finding fault with the agreement. I am finding fault with the Government, for the reasons I have indicated. We were promised that a Supply and Tender Board would be appointed by the Government, and we have been told by supporters of the Government outside that the Senate refused to agree to its appointment. That is another of those half-truths that are much more unsatisfactory than a whole lie. We all know how the question came up last session. No sensible member of Parliament would allow such an important matter as the appointment of a Supply and Tender Board to be tacked on as an amendment of the Audit Act. Let the
Government bring their proposals forward in the proper way, and they will find this party most anxious to assist them to appoint an efficient tribunal to deal with the great quantity of stores required by the Federal Departments. They have no right to go about the country denouncing the Labour party for refusing to agree to appoint a Supply and Tender Board, when the question never came before them in a proper form. The Prime Minister recently visited Mount Gambier,. and there made statements to which I wish to refer. By the way, he went to South Australia previous to the last election. He spoke in Adelaide, and as the result of his visit the Labour party gained a few thousand votes. He isthe best organizer we could Have. He went toPort Pirie, and as the result we gained 600 or 700 votes. I am confident that the result of his visit to Mount Gambier will be a great addition to the strength of the Labour vote there. When there, he said that the Government had introduced certain Bills, including the Norfolk Island Bill, the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Bill, the Bureau of Agriculture Bill, and a Bill to provide for the appointment of a Supply and Tender Board. I have shown that such a Bill was never introduced into the Senate at all. Ministers know, as well as I do, how little blame can be laid at the door of this’ party for the hanging up of the Agricultural Bureau Bill.
– An amendment of the Audit Act, providing for the Supply and Tender Board, was brought forward.
– I hope that the appointment of the board will never go through in such a form. It should be done by a separate measure, and not by means of a side wind. The Prime Minister said that a Bill to provide for the appointment of a Supply and Tender Board was introduced, and I am showing that no such measure ever came before us.. He said -
Then there was the matter of the appointment of a Select Committee, which was held up owing to the Labour Caucus refusing to nominate men on that Committee.
He was very careful to make no reference to a very important Committee that was appointed by the Senate, and that was a committee of inquiry into the Chinn case. The Government refused to grant the necessary money to carry on the inquiry, but at Mount Gambier the PrimeMinister very carefully refrained from making any reference to his misdeeds in that regard. Later he said -
AH these measures were treated in the same way; and it was only after a severe struggle that two of them were put through at all. The other two had to “be set aside altogether.
It was only after a very severe struggle, he said, that the Norfolk Island Acceptance Bill and the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Bill went through the Senate! This is another instance of where half of the truth is told. The members of the Labour parity are here to see that such legislation passes the Senate as will be a benefit to the country, and that the subjects therein dealt with shall receive fair treatment. That was all that’ the members of the Senate did as far as those Bills were concerned. Continuing, the Prime Minister said -
The same thing happened with the Electoral Bill, and what our own Chamber included the Senate pounced upon like a tiger.
I think that the Prime Minister in his youth must have read a large number of Deadwood Dicks, because he is very fond of using language such as is found in the greenbacks. He has said that the Labour party are like a tiger, or a man in a dark alley with a knife, an assassin waiting to pounce upon any un. wary Liberal as he went by, and, as I said, the kindergarten Minister has referred to the members of our party as panthers who have once tasted blood, and are anxious to get their fangs into the Liberal party again, so that they may repeat the process. That is a sample of the actions of the Prime Minister and the speeches delivered by himself and his supporters when they go into the outlying , districts of the country. He did not, however, have things all his own way at Mount Gambier. It is worth while to read a short extract to show what the local newspaper thought of the reception given to him. After describing the meeting, the South-Eastern Star of the 6th March winds up a leading article in this way -
Later on Mr. Cook was told by an interjector that he (Mr. Cook) had been a Socialist at one time. The Prime Minister had just remarked to his interjector, “You and your party are doing more than anything else to keep me in my present position.” An interjector, “ You “.vere worse than I when you were a Socialist. You were chairman of the Socialists, as you call them, once.” Mr. Cook denied the allegation. An interjector, “ You were chairman of ji Labour Conference once, and Andrew Fisher sat under you.” Mr. Cook also denied this. And our office boy wants to know who was “ tellin’ “em.”
A reference to the Sydney Daily Mail of 19th January, 1894, will show very clearly who was “ tellin’ ‘em “ on that occasion. It contains this report of a meeting which had been held -
A conference of Labour delegates from Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales was opened yesterday in the Trades Hall. Mr. Cook, M.P., leader of the Labour party in New South Wales, was elected president. The following were present : - From Queensland - Mr. Fisher-
I hope that the editor of the SouthEastern Star will be able in his next issue to tell the office boy and the rest of his staff who was “ tellin’ ‘em “ on that occasion. I think it is necessary sometimes that we should review the past in order that we may gain some experience and knowledge to enable us to avoid pitfalls in our future peregrinations and to do better. I do not intend to deal at any great length with the programme which has been submitted to the Parliament this session. It is even more lean and hungry than the last one. In paragraph 2 we are told by His Excellency that his Advisers did not consider a prolonged recess advisable, and. that they had called Parliament together with the idea of considering the best means of expediting the despatch of urgent public business. What an extraordinary method of giving urgent despatch to public business! We have been sitting for over two months, and how much public business has been done?
– That is to say, your obstruction has been successful.
– I expected the Minister of Defence to make that interjection.
– It was so obvious.
– Can the Minister or the Government honestly blame the Opposition for the obstruction ?
– You admit the obstruction, anyhow?
– I am using the Minister’s own words and those which have been put into this paragraph. I ask the honorable senator, in all seriousness, whether he blames the members of the Opposition for, if he likes the phrase better, tlie lack of expedition that has been given to public business since Parliament was convened. I contend that the Government themselves, and not the Opposition, are responsible for the delay. The Bill that is causing this obstruction, the Minister knows as well as we do, is not going to make one iota of difference to a living soul on this continent. It will neither imprison a man nor release a man from prison. It will not help the farmer, or the worker, or a man in any other section of the community.
– Nor will it reduce the cost of living.
– No; it will do absolutely nothing that has not already been done.
– Will it affect the sanctity of the home ?
– Some members of the Liberal party are resurrecting that old chestnut, but it will not serve. The point I want to make is that whilst the Government are blaming the Labour party for this obstruction, they are advising that party to allow this Bill to go through. What is the opposition here? If the Bill were .going to affect in any degree any section of the community, the Government might have some justification for proceeding with it, but, as I said, the work which the Bill is supposed to do has already been done. It will be. done no better by .its passage. Why, then, should . the Government continue to neglect to give to this Parliament and, if they like, to this party, some useful work to do in the interests of the Commonwealth? The electors will not hold the Government guiltless in this matter. They recognise that the party on this side are here for certain purposes. They recognise that while the Government are here to initiate legislation, the Opposition are here to do their best to perfect such legislation, and not to bring any forward. We find, however, that two or three notices of motion have been given here. Some members of the Labour party have become so sick and tired of the inertia of the Government that they are introducing business of their own, simply because Ministers will not do so. There is the reply to the statement of the Minister that we are delaying business in any shape or form. I do not propose to refer to the two test Bills, because we may have an opportunity of doing so later.
– I do not think so. They will never get through the other House.
– I shall reserve my remarks concerning the test Bills on the off-chance that they may get this far.
In the opening Speech we are told that these two measures “ failed to pass,” but that is hardly a correct statement. We know perfectly well that one measure did ‘ pass in a much- improved form, and that was the Bill for the restoration of the postal vote. It was amended in a direction that secured to every person in the Commonwealth the right ‘to vote. If the Government refuse to accept our amendment, they will have to put up with the consequences at the hands of the people when they go to the country on this or any other question. Our good old friend, the railway gauge, is brought forward again. This old garment has been turned upside down and is again displayed in the window for the admiration of all who may be pleased to gaze upon it. But we have got a step forward. After the State Premiers have dealt with this question, the Government intend to refer it to the Inter-State Commission. By the time the Commission have dealt with the Tariff - two, three, or four years hence - the question of railway gauges will be handed over to three men who have absolutely no knowledge of railway matters - good, bad, or indifferent. Of course, the intention1 again is to take the responsibility off the shoulders of the Government. Surely on such an important question as the work of the Inter-State Commission the Government should have a policy of their own. Surely they ought to have a lead to give to the Parliament and the country as to what they intend to do with the question of railway gauges, and that, too, at the earliest possible moment. We find that the report of the Northern Territory Commission has been received. Necessarily the report must have been considerably curtailed, because the Commission were withdrawn long before their work was anything like completed. The statement is dangled before our eyes that it is the intention of the Government to place before Parliament those comprehensive proposals which they were supposed to bring forward last session for the development of the Territory. We have not heard a word yet as to what the developments are to be, or the slightest indication as to what form they are likely to take, and, of course, we await with very much interest the proposals themselves.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m
– Earlier in my remarks I promised that I would have something to say concerning the manner in which the mover of the AddressinReply referred to the party on this side, instead of. explaining the policy of the Government.
– How could he explain the policy of the Government, when they have no policy?
– Honorable senators on this side are not responsible for the lack of a policy in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. We have been able to deal only with the paltry excuses offered by those who have been set up as apologists for the Government. We were asked why the Labour Government, or any other Government, should arrogate to themselves the power to say that any section of the community should be denied employment which was given to another section? If a Government cannot arrogate to themselves such a right, what authority can ? I was under the impression that Governments are charged with the administration of affairs. The Labour Government had as much right to arrogate to themselves the power to give preference to unionists as the present Government have to presume to take that concession away from them. If, in this matter, there has been a fault on one side, the fault has been as great, and, in my opinion, greater, on the other side. It has been shown in the course of this debate that unionists have a good right to ask for some privilege in the matter of employment. But for the existence of the unions, and the work they are doing, we should not have the peaceful conditions industrially that we have in Australia to-day. It has been by the action of the unions that industrial difficulties have been brought before Arbitration Courts, Wages Boards, and similar tribunals, and have been settled without recourse to the old and barbarous method qf the strike. For that reason, if for no other, the Government of the country would be justified in giving the men who have been responsible for this condition of affairs some form of preference. Senator Oakes referred to the Caucus of the Labour party as an institution which throttles the members of the party, and does not permit them to have a thought or an opinion of their own. I think that the honorable senator must have been speaking from knowledge of his own Caucus, and not from any knowledge he possesses of the work of the Caucus of the Labour party. Outside the platform of the Labour .party, every member of that party has a great deal more freedom of thought and action than have members of the party opposite. If the supporters of the Government enjoyed the liberty exercised by members of the Labour party, they would not continue to support them. In another place members of the Labour party have been accused of very grievous crimes. I do not wish to refer to the remarks made there, except to give them a general denial. It has been said that if the present Government have not done more than they have done, it is because of their political limitations, but last session we saw that the Government recognised no political limitations. They did not hesitate to strain the Standing Orders in every conceivable way in order to force their measures through another place. When they commanded a subservient majority of one in another place, the Government had no right to complain of political limitations. It has also been said that the Senate closed its doors at the behest of the Labour Caucus. What are the facts? The Senate closed’ its doors at the request of the Minister of Defence, who is the Leader of the Government in this Chamber. The doors of the Senate were closed because- the Government refused to transact any business. There is not a member of the party on this side who was not prepared to come here every day during the time the doors of the Senate were closed, if there had been any business introduced by the Government. Ministers refused to answer questions,’ or to give honorable senators any information, and it was at their suggestion and request that the doors of the Senate were closed for three weeks, and not at the behest of the Labour Caucus. A reason for the inaction of the Government so foreign to the truth has never previously been given in any Chamber. Much has been said about the slanders’ that have been uttered. It has become quite a stock phrase to say that certain persons have been guilty of slandering the Commonwealth. But if anything of that kind has been done, it has not been by members of the Labour party. From the day of the opening of this Parliament the people of Australia have been frequently slandered. It has been said that thousands of them voted who had no right to vote. We have been told that the electors of the Commonwealth were so lost to all sense of political morality and honesty that they went to the poll in thousands when they had no right to vote, and that some even came out of their graves to record votes. It is needless to say that the inference was that those improperly recorded votes were cast for the Labour party. If that is not a slander on the people of Australia, I do not know what is. The statement was challenged as soon as it was made, and it has been continually challenged. A Royal Commission has been appointed to inquire into these allegations of electoral irregularities, but up to the present it has found out practically nothing.
– It has not yet reported.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - The Select Committee of the Senate has reported.
– The Select Committee reported against the allegations, and the Royal Commission now taking evidence on the subject is getting precisely the same evidence as wastaken by the Select Committee. The Federal officials responsible for seeing that the electoral rolls are kept clean have given evidence that whilst mistakes have occurred, as was to be expected, no wilful corruption has been proved.
– The honorable sena- tor only the other day was asking for leniency for some persons who had been guilty of offences under the Electoral Act in his own State.
– The Minister of Defence, like a drowning man, clutches at any straw to justify the statements that have been made. It is true that I asked for leniency for three men who were fined £8 16s. each in a Court in South Australia. One case was that of a young man, who was twenty-one years of age before the election day, though he had not reached that age when he made his application to be enrolled. The other was the case of a new arrival. Ministers like to take new arrivals under their wing. They are far more precious in their eyes than are those who have borne the heat and burden of the day in Australia.
– This new arrival seems to be under the honorable senator’s wing.
– It is necessary that some one should take up his case when the man is persecuted as well as prosecuted. This man made an application for enrolment when he had. been five months and nineteen days in Australia, instead of six months, as required’ by the law. He had been six months in the Commonwealth before the day of the election, but he did not record a vote. I have asked that leniency should be shown in that case. If the man were a murderer I should be justified in asking for leniency; but this man quite unwittingly committed an offence against the Electoral Act. We have a law to punish men if they do not see that they are enrolled, and these men, in their anxiety to dodge that law, violated’ another. I have asked that the fines imposed in these cases should be reconsidered, especially in view of the f act that fines of not half the amount were imposed elsewhere for similar offences.
– We do not blame the honorable senator for making that request, but because he has said that there was nothing wrong anywhere.
– The electors of” Australia have been charged with voting two or three times, and with raising the dead from the cemeteries to vote’. If Ministers had said that a few men had” managed to get their names on to the rolls before they were qualified, that would have been a very different charge from the one which they have made against the electors of Australia. We were told by a member of the Government who is, if not a trustee, at least a director, of the Commonwealth Bank, that it had gone to the bad to the extent of £56,000. It was found, upon investigation, that the honorable senator was out by £10,000; but that is a mere nothing to Senator McColl. We have heard no word of qualification or excuse for this charge, although it is known that the initial expenditure in connexion with the establishment of the Bank had to be debited to the first year’s operations.
– Senator McColl also said that it would be worse.
– That is so, although it was pointed out that he had’ over-estimated the loss by £10,000, and” that upon the year’s transaction a profit. was shown. Here is another instance in which one of the greatest institutions of the Commonwealth at the present time was libelled by the honorable senator, both inside and outside of this chamber.
– It was not known at the time I spoke that, as the result of its operations, the Commonwealth Bank had fi credit balance.
– Surely that is a miserable statement for a Minister to make?
– It was the business of the Vice-President of the Executive Council to ascertain the fact. He is a director of the institution.
– That is another of the flimsy excuses which are put forward by Ministers from time to time.
– Does the honorable senator call concealing a balance-sheet for four months a flimsy excuse?
– I call it a flimsy excuse because the Vice-President of the Executive Council has since had an opportunity ‘ of putting himself right with the public, and he has not done so.
– Honorable senators opposite have had an opportunity of explaining why the balance-sheet was kept back so long, and they have not availed themselves of that opportunity.
– The balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Bank was in the possession of the Treasurer at the time Senator McColl made’ the statement complained of.
– The press had the information.
– Nobody outside the Treasurer had that information at the time I made the statement.
– The VicePresident of the Executive- Council has had an opportunity of explaining his position since he made that statement, and he has not availed himself of it. It is a serious thing for . a responsible Minister to attempt to belittle a Commonwealth institution like that of the Commonwealth Bank. In addition to these statements which come within the category of libels, I wish to call attention to a still greater libel - to one of the greatest libels that has ever been uttered concerning a section of the people of Australia. I intend to make a short quotation in connexion with it, with a view to calling public attention to it and of giving it as strong a denial as possible. The words of which I complain are -
I am not going to make innuendoes. I propose to make a direct charge. I assert that the Bight Honorable Andrew Fisher, who ventures to go about Australia spreading abroad these vile insinuations against the public credit and honour of his opponents, is the man who, or whose Government, is responsible for, first of all, introducing into Australian public life the spoils system of the United States. I have said it before, and I shall say it many times again, because it is true. . . . The man. who is responsible for the introduction into this country of the Tammany methods, above all others, is the Leader of the Opposition, who is ap- - parently willing to bind these broken fetters that the United States of America are casting aside round the clean young limbs of Australia.
That is the greatest libel which has ever been uttered concerning any person or any political party, and its author should be carefully remembered by the electors when he again seeks their suffrages. I can find no language strong enough to condemn such a libel on a political party which has done everything to uphold the prestige of Australia on every occasion.
– Who made it?
– The Hon. W. H. Irvine, the Attorney-General of the present Government. Having called attention to these statements which have been made with the idea of belittling the people of Australia’ as electors, and as shareholders in the Commonwealth Bank, I feel that I can safely leave their authors to be dealt with by the electors. I now wish to say a few words in connexion with the action of the Government in endeavouring to hand over the public works of Australia to the tender mercies of .the contractor. Many instances have been quoted, both in this Chamber and in another place, for the purpose of proving the superiority of the day-labour system over the contract system. But in this connexion I desire to refer to a report which was issued quite recently by the EngineerinChief of the Western Australian railways regarding the relative cost of railway construction under these two systems. Mr. Rolland, in his report to the Government of Western Australia, says -
A greater mileage has been constructed under contract than by day labour. It further demonstrates that the average cost per mile of railway has been cheaper by day labour, viz., under contract, £2,012; by departmental daw labour. £1,814; difference, £198.
He points out that in the foregoing estimate more expensive lines had been constructed under the contract than under the day-labour system. But he qualifies that by saying -
Eliminating this, in order to give a perfectly fair comparison, the rate per mile under contract conies out at £1,865. It should also he noted that included in the above figures are three especially expensive lines built by day labour, viz., Naraling-Yuna, rate per mile, £3,710; Upper Darling Range railway extension, rate per mile, £3,363; Northampton- Ajana, rate per mile, £2,858. Deducting these, the average cost per mile by day labour for 44.6.8 miles works out at £1,680, compared with £1,865 per mile for 513.5 miles’ constructed under contract, showing a difference in favour of day labour construction of £185 per mile.
In every instance in which a comparison has been made between the day-labour and the contract systems in the carrying out of public works, that comparison has been in favour of day labour. Only the other day an answer was given to a question put in this Parliament regarding the laying of certain conduits at Ballarat. The cost under the contract system was £2,485 10s. 5d., while under that of day labour it was £1,716 9s. Hd., a difference in favour of day labour of £712. In other words, there was a saving in favour of day labour of practically one-third.
– How would the contractor live if he did not get large profits?
– How the contractor would live is no very serious concorn of honorable senators upon this side of the Chamber. We are anxious that the community shall receive the benefit of the profits which are at present finding their way into the pockets of the contractors. I mentioned a little while ago that a suggestion has been made that the constitution of the Senate should be altered. Senator Oakes told us that such a thing had not been suggested. I wish to read a short extract from the report of a meeting held at Narracoorte, in South Australia, in order to prove my contention. It is as follows -
A meeting of the committee of the Naracoorte branch of the Liberal Union was attended by the Premier (the Hon. A. H. Peake).. It was decided to recommend to the district gathering that the State should be_ divided into districts for the purpose of electing senators, that the Senate should go to the country when there was an election for the House of Representatives, and that an effort should be made to inculcate in the public mind the necessity for restoring the functions of the Senate as a States House, as contemplated in the Constitution.
That is not the only instance in which the suggestion has been made that each State should be divided into six districts, and that one senator should be elected for each of those districts. The same idea was debated by the framers of our Constitution, but it did not receive seriousconsideration at their hands. It has remained for the present so-called Liberal Government to suggest that this Senate should be prostituted for political purposes, that each State should be divided! into six electoral divisions, and that the representation of the States should be spoiled for purely party purposes. To effect this object does not require any amendment of the Constitution. It will only be necessary for the Liberal party to come back with a majority in both Houses of this Parliament. If they can do that they will immediately proceed to carve up the States into electoral divisions for the Senate, just as the Premier of Victoria and the Premier of South Australia attempted to gerrymander the electorates a little while ago so that a majority might be obtained by his party for all time. I have no desire to weary honorable senators, but I would like to read onemore brief extract. The Government promised that, if returned with a majority, they would seek to do something to reduce the cost of living. When we ask them now what they have done, we are met with the parrot-like cry that the cost pf living is going up in New South Wales, although a Labour Government is. in power there. If that is so, why do not the Federal Government, which so largely represents New South Wales, step in to bring about a reduction, seeing that they had so much to say about it before r Up to the present, when we have contended that the operations of the different trusts, combines, and honorable understandings were responsible for the increased cost of living, the members of the Government have pooh-poohed the idea. They have always said there were no trusts or combines in Australia -
– Except thelawyers’ combine.
– That is one of the closest combines in existence.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - We will admit you to-morrow if yOn can pass the examination.
– Does the honorable senator know that the AttorneyGeneral would refuse to appear in the Law Courts with the Minister of External Affairs, although both are distinguished members of the legal profession?
– I do not know it.
– The Minister of External Affairs is not a member of the very exclusive union to which the AttorneyGeneral belongs. The one practises as a barrister and solicitor, and the other as a barrister only
– I think the honorable senator is wrong. They are both members of the Bar in their different States.
- Mr. Irvine, as a good, loyal unionist, would refuse to appear with Mr. Glynn. A lawyer cannot go from Adelaide to Broken Hill, just across the border, as it were, and appear in Court there.
– Not unless he is admitted.
– That is exactly the point. It shows how close the lawyers’ union is. If a navvy went from Adelaide to Broken Hill, he would get a union ticket, transferring him from one union to the other, without difficulty. That is the whole difference. The lawyers’ union is much more restrictive than any industrial organization in any part of the Commonwealth, and most effective preference to unionists exists in connexion with it.
– No lawyer from another State can obtain admission to the Tasmanian Bar unless he actually becomes a resident of Tasmania for a certain time, no matter what his qualifications are.
– These facts absolutely prove my contention. I do not object to the lawyers having their union, but I do ask that the 8s. a day navvy should have the same privilege as the hundred guinea a day lawyer gets. . We were told at the last elections by the Fusion party that there were no trusts or combines in Australia, or that, if there were, they were not injurious. We were assured a little while ago that there were a few about, but that Mr. Groom had them under his close observation, with the result that an announcement was made the other day that it was the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill dealing with them. This is very interesting in the light of what was said twelve months ago. It only proves what we have said all along. We are now told that the excessive price of meat is due, not to the existence of trusts, but to a shortage in our stock. The Argus of 13th inst. published the following -
Brisbane, Tuesday. - The Government Statistician has issued a statement showing the livestock in Queensland on 1st January, 1914. -The following figures are based on a preliminary count, and are subject to revision : -
What, then, becomes of the argument about the shortage of stock? Queensland is the State in which the bulk of our meat is raised, and if it can show such increases in one year, we must look to some other cause for the increase in the price of meat. We are forced to the conclusion that the Beef Trust has got a foothold in Australia, and is operating here to the detriment of the consumers of meat, and it is only a matter of a few years before it will be operating to the detriment of the growers of meat, as it has done in America and the Argentine. We can lay the responsibility for this state of affairs at the door of the present Government and their supporters, because it was they who prevented the necessary alterations of the Constitution. Even Mr. Irvine and Mr. Glynn have admitted that the Commonwealth requires larger powers to deal with this question.
– The Meat Trust go* a licence from Mr. Tudor to erect their premises on the Brisbane River.
– Does the honorable senator know of any provision in our laws that would prevent them from putting up their works on the Brisbane River?
– We only know that they had to go to your Government for permission, and that it was granted.
– I am not in a position to * say whether Che American Beef Trust went to the Fisher Government for any such permission. I was not a member at the time the works were erected. But the statement of any honorable senator that it is necessary for a man coming to this country and wishing to erect a building to go to the Government, and ask for permission to do so, is so ridiculous on the face of it that it does not require any contradiction. It is an absolutely stupid statement for any one to make.
– The honorable senator should not be so positive, because he may find that there was some reason for making application.
– I was not a member of this Parliament at the time when the application was supposed to be made. I have some knowledge of the laws of the Commonwealth, and I know of no law to prevent a man coming here and erecting a house if he wants to do so. Does the honorable senator know of such a law?
– There is no Commonwealth law, but there may be a State law.
– That does not prevent a man from putting up a building. The law of a State merely provides that a man shall put up a building of a certain quality. A factory, for instance, has to comply with certain requirements in the industrial legislation of a State. In a city, of course, a building has to be erected in conformity with the Building Act.
SenatorRae. - And if a man does that, the authorities cannot refuse.
– No. I am afraid that no permission was given or withheld. The point is that the Meat Trust is here to-day, whether the Government gave permission to them to erect the works or not. Senator Oakes is here to remedy certain misdeeds which he ac”cused the Fisher Government of having committed. But what has he done in the matter of making things better?
– I would like to hear She honorable senator on this matter if Mr. Kelly had given permission to erect the buildings.
– The honorable senator is repeating a statement which - I do not want to say anything which is rude or offensive - is absolutely nonsensical, because no permission could have been withheld. Seeing that permission could not be withheld from a man to erect a factory, what* is the use of prating that permission to the Meat Trust was given ? If any men comply with the regulations under the Factories Act in a State, they can build as they please, and no power on earth can . prevent them from doing so. As regards the constitutional position, I listened with a great amount of interest and admiration to the speech delivered here last week by Senator Pearce. I think it has somewhat shaken the dry bones of the Government to learn that in forcing afight between the Houses on a trivial matter, constitutionally they are altogether in the wrong. In conclusion, I desire to get a few words into Hansard in order to bring the statement of the constitutional position up to date. I intend to refer to a statement made in the Senate by a gentleman who occupied a very prominent part in Australian politics prior to Federation ; a gentleman who played a very important part, indeed, in the deliberations that led up to the establishment ofthe Federation ; a gentleman who was one of the most trusted members of the Federal Convention, and who afterwards became first a member of the Senate and then a member of the High Court Bench. I refer to the late Senator O’Connor. A speech he delivered ‘in the Senate on 22nd May, 1901, bears the impress of very careful thought. At that time he had come almost fresh from the debates in the Convention, and was therefore in a position to know what was in the minds of the gentlemen who were responsible for the framing of the Constitution. He was a member of the first Commonwealth Government, and very early in the history of this Parliament he gave the country the benefit of his knowledge on the constitutional difficulties that might be raised between the two branches of the Legislature. I think it wise that his very excellent statement of fact should be reprinted in Hansard in order to bring our knowledge on the constitutional point up to date. I regret that I shall have to read a somewhat lengthy quotation. I have read this portion of Mr. O’Connor’s speech very carefully several times. I endeavoured to extract certain portions which would give the meaning of the statement he made in those days. But I found that it was impossible to do that effectively. Therefore I am compelled to read the whole of his utterance bearing on the constitutional question. At page 118 of Hansard for 1901, Mr. O’Connor is reported as follows: -
I would like to say, at once, that the Government take the view that this Senate stands in a very different position from the Legislative Councils of the various States which we have been accustomed to.
– If that had not been so, many honorable members would not have as pired to seats hero.
Senator O’CONNOR. ;I quite assent to that position, and I feel quite certain that throughout Australia generally it is recognised that this House is co-equal with the other House in every respect, except to the extent of those limitations which are necessary to enable the machinery of government to be carried on. The only difference that has been made in the powers of the two Houses is the difference which ia absolutely essential for the carrying on of responsible government. Inasmuch as the essence of responsible government is the power of the purse, the initiation of expenditure, it is in the House of Representatives that that power has been placed; it is in the House of Representatives that taxation is initiated, and can he amended. In those respects the power of this House is curtailed; but in every other respect it is co-equal, and I hope it will always assert itself to be co-equal with the representative House. Holding that view, it is the intention of the Government to introduce as many measures as possible into this House, in order to have the principles discussed, the details settled, and to have a great deal of the useful work of legislation done in this House while Bills are being similarly treated in the House of Representatives. We hope in that way that not only will, the Senate find abundant and useful occupation, but that time will be saved by work being carried on simultaneously in both Houses. I have no fear on the score of there being any difficulty in carrying out this policy, as suggested by Senator Neild. I am well aware that the provision with regard to dead-locks applies only to legislation which is initiated in the other House. The limitation was expressly placed there for the reason that the dead-look provision was inserted only for the purpose of preventing the continuation (if disputes which would stop the moving of the machinery of government, and inasmuch as those disputes can only arise where money is involved, it was thought-
Senator Neild. ; No, that is not so.
Senator O’CONNOR. ; I think the honorable member will see that what I am saying is perfectly correct, if he will wait for one moment. Inasmuch as those disputes are ouly likely to be of such a nature as to stop the working of the machinery, of the Commonwealth in cases where money is involved, it was thought that it was only in those kinds of cases that it was necessary to have this mechanical provision, if I may so call it, for bringing dead-locks to an end. 1 heard an interjection just now from Senator Neild in contradiction of the position I have taken up. I quite assent that there may be most important disputes arising between the two Houses upon social questions, Upon questions of the deepest- importance to the whole of Australia. Those questions may be settled, or may not be settled, the Houses may dispute over them, but, dispute as they like, the pay ment of the expenditure of the Commonwealth will go on; the collection of the revenue of the Commonwealth will’ continue; the financial policy of the Commonwealth will be carried out. It is only where you have measures involving the financial policy of the Commonwealth, measures upon which the raising of the revenue of the Commonwealth depend - it is only in those cases that you will have that kind of block to the carrying on of all Commonwealth business, which is to be avoided, and which we think can only be avoided by the adoption of the measures provided for in what has been called the deadock clause of the Constitution. I do not wish to pursue that subject any further. I have only mentioned it now because I desire at once to allay any apprehension that there may be in the minds of honorable members that any course we take in regard to the introduction of measures in this House is likely to be attended with anysuch difficulty.
Senator O’Connor went on to indicate that the Senate should take care to initiate such measures as would not lead to a dead-lock. In this speech, as in the speech made by Senator Pearce the other day, it is made perfectly clear by Mr. O’Connor, coming fresh from the deliberations of the Convention, that it was never suggested that a dispute should be raised between the two Chambers on any industrial or social question. The possibility of such a thing was confined absolutely to. any financial obstruction that might be placed in the way of another House by this Chamber. This goes further to prove that the Bills with which we shall have to deal in the very near future are only designed for the sake of creating a dispute. They are brought in, not because of any constitutional crisis, but merely in order that one political party may receive some advantage over another section of politics.
– Or is it done only to beat time?
– I am taking the measures at the estimate placed upon them by the Government. There is not the slightest justification for the gross delay in public business that is taking place today in Parliament.
– You are perfectly right.
– I am glad to have the Minister’s approval. I tell him that he and his colleagues are the offenders on this occasion, and not the members of the Labour party. The Government are deliberately introducing the measures with the intention of extending their own political influence, and nob with the idea of smoothing the way for legislation which would unquestionably be for the benefit of the whole community. I lay this charge at the door of the Government, and I am confident that what We say here, although it may nob have much effect upon them, will have a very considerable effect when they go to the poll, and the effect will be felt in the ballot-box.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ready) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 May 1914, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1914/19140521_senate_5_73/>.