6th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Names of senators called by the Clerk.
The following senators were absent: - Senators Barker, Grant, and Shannon.
– I have received from Senator Shannon the following letter, dated 9th July: -
Referring to the call of the Senate for Wednesday next, the 14th day of July, I would respectfully request to be excused from attendance, owing to urgent private business, which had been fixed previous to the call being made.
– Senator Grant, who is in the far North of Queensland, was evidently unable to receive notice of the call, and, therefore, on his behalf I beg to apologize for his absence.
– Does that make the call effective?
Every honorable senator should receive notice.
Names of senators absent again called by the Clerk.
The following senatorswere still absent : - Senators Grant and Shannon.
Senator MILLEN presented a petition from 2,603 electors of Victoria, praying that the further consideration of the Referendum Bills be postponed, and that no other contentious legislation be brought forward until the war is over.
Petition received and read.
– Now that the petition has been received and read, I presume the Senate is desirous of evolving something out of the proceeding.
– The honorable gentleman can take no action at this stage. He can give notice of motion.
Assent to the following Bills reported: -
Ministers of State Bill.
Jervis Bay Territory. Acceptance Bill.
Dr. Schlink ; Further Australian Contingent ; Liverpool Camp Commission : Protection op Witnesses.
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether it is correct, as reported, that Dr. Schlink has resigned his position at the Liverpool Military Camp?
– No such resignation has come under my notice as yet, but I have seen the paragraph in the papers.
– I ask the Minister of Defence whether he has any information to give the Senate with regard to a communication from the Imperial Government in connexion with a proposed further contingent from Australia?
– No; that is the subject-matter of negotiations. In order to remove any misapprehension, however., I may say that the question of acceptance is not the subject-matter of negotiations, but merely the question of the constitution of the units, and that has not been finalized yet, so that I am not in a position to give any further information.
– - I ask the Minister of Defence whether he will make a public statement on behalf of the Government assuring members of our Forces in the. Liverpool Camp who may be in a position to give evidence before the recently appointed Commission, to inquire into the condition of the camp, that any person giving evidence will not be penalized so far as promotion is concerned 1
– What a question to ask !
– The honorable senator is asking for certain information, and the question is entirely in order.
– I can inform the Minister that an assurance from him is very necessary in regard to this matter.
– My reply is that, as I am responsible for the action of ray officers, I do not consider any such assurance is necessary.
– I again assure the Minister that it is.
New Portfolio - Re-arrangement of Duties.
– Arising out of the appointment of an additional Minister, I desire permission of the Senate to make a statement. Since making the preliminary announcement, a Department, to be called the Department of the Navy, has been established, and the Hon. J. A. Jensen has been sworn in as Minister for the Navy. The arrangement has been made that I shall represent the Minister for the Navy here, and that the Minister for the Navy shall represent the Minister of Defence in the other House. I wish to say also that Senator Russell will represent the Treasurer in this Chamber in all matters other than the annual Budget statement.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers are -
– Is the gentleman referred to a German ? Is he naturalized, and, if so, when ?
– I have a statement to. the effect that he is the son of naturalized British subjects, and was. born at. Sevenoaks, in England; that he lived formerly in Tasmania, and whilst -there married Miss Carroll.
asked the Minis’ter of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing, the Minister of Home . Affairs, upon notice -
-The State Government was in a position to complete the contract within the time allowed, but the final delivery was delayed a little to suit the convenience of the Commonwealth in shipping sleepers to the Northern Territory.
The following papers were presented: - Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Award by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia : Memorandum to the Prime Minister from the Public Service Commissioner. Electoral Law - ~ Report from the Royal “Commission upon the Electoral Law and Administration of the Commonwealth. Lands Acquisition Act 190fr- Land acquired under,- at - Beaufort’,- Victoria - For” Defence purposes.
La Perouse, New South Wales - For
Midland Junction, Western- Australia-
For Defence purposes.
North Sydney, New- South Wales - For
Congwarra, Federal Territory - For
Federal Capital purposes:-
Coogee, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Kalgoorlie, Western’ Australia - For Railway’ purposes’:
Kingoonya South Australia - For Railway purposes.
Toowong, Queensland - For Postal purposes.
Premiers’ ConferencesReport of the Resolutions, Proceedings, and Debates of the Premiers’ Conference held at Sydney, May, 1915; together with Appendices. Public Service Act 1902-13-
Appointments; Promotions, &c. - Department of Home Affairs - W. J. Cole - Appointment as Draughtsman, Class E, Professional Division, Public Works Branch, Victoria: C. L. Quinlivan, Promotion - as Clerk, 4th Class, Accounts Branch; H. R.
Waterman, Promotion as Clerk, 4th Class, Central Staff; E. J. Farrell, Promotion as Clerk; 4th > Class’, Publie Works- Branch, Victoria; an-d H. P. _ Ponton, Promotion as Clerk, 4th Class, Public Works’ Branch, Victoria. department of Trade and Customs - Promotions of P. D. Kewish, as Assistant, Class E. Professional Division; A. C. Threlfall, as Inspector and SubCollector. First Class, Clerical Division; and J. Banks, ns Inspector, First Class, Clerical Division. Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 110. Public Works Committee Act 1913. - Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1915, No. 111. Quarantine Act 1908-12 - Regulations Amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1915, No. 88. Statutory Rules 1915, No. 95. War, European - Return showing the number of Rescues that have been effected from German warships by H.M. vessels and from £T.M. vessels by German warships respectively.
Copy of Report and Statistics of Bad Time kept in Shipbuilding, munitions, and Transport Areas.
Report of the Committee appointed by the President of the Local Government . Board upon the Provision of Employment for Sailors and Soldiers’ disabled in the War.
Memorandum on the Official Press Bureau.
Memorandum on the Censorship.
– In moving -
That this Bill be now read a third time,
I intend to put no further matter before the Senate. An, arrangement was made by which a number of senators who desired to speak on the second reading agreed to reserve their remarks to this stage. I therefore simply move the motion.
– I have not spoken earlier in the debate on these measures because I en’tertained the hope that even at the eleventh hour the Government would see the wisdom of not pressing them upon public consideration at this juncture. The one outstanding national need now is a united national effort to ward off a distinct national danger. The national safety can be secured only by national effort, and that, national effort cannot be obtained to its fullest extent if the nation is divided into two warring camps.
– Did you think the same before the last general election?
– If I made a mistake then, rather than do anything to-day to prejudice the safety of Australia and the Empire, I would willingly admit it, because the position is infinitely more serious now than it appeared to be then. If an error was made then, it ought not to ‘be perpetuated now. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in introducing these Bills, made use of a phrase to which I take the strongest possible exception. He spoke of “Business as usual.” No more pernicious or mischievous phrase has ever been used in the whole range of controversy connected with this war. “ Business as usual,” when we find the hills of the Dardanelles dripping with the blood of our own soldiers f “ Business as usual,” when the casualty lists are throwing the shadow of a great sacrifice over an increasing number of .Australian homes! “Business as usual,” when ,$he man whose name to-day carries more authority than that of any other individual in the Empire - I refer to Lord Kitchener - says that we are faced with a crisis so serious that the Empire needs the services of every man who is available ! Let me remind honorable senators of what he has said. I invite them not merely to listen to his words, but to weigh and consider what underlies them. In his last address, which was intended, not merely for the privileged number who listened to it, but for the heart and mind and soul of every Britisher throughout the Empire, he said -
In every man’s life there is a supreme hourtowards which all earlier experiences move,, and from which all future results are reckoned.. That solemn hour is-striking for every Briton. Let us heed the opportunity now, or we will” never share. Shirk nothing! Shrink from nothing! Lend our full weight to the impetus - which shall carry to victory the cause of our - honour and freedom.
Yet I hear the term “ Business as usual,” ‘ when that clarion appeal is ringing round ‘ this great Empire. “ Business as usual,” ‘ when the fate of the Empire is still hanging in the balance I To talk of “ “Business as usual” when our right to - call this Australia our country, and to continue in the enjoyment of our freedom, are in jeopardy, is to ignore the tragic facts with which we are confronted.
– Go down Bourkestreet, and see whether it is not a case of r “ Business as usual.”
– I have only to go down Bourke-street and turn towards the Town Hall in order to get the most conclusive evidence that “‘Business as usual “ is not being carried oh. “ Business as usual,” when to-day Belgium is still quivering in the talons of the conqueror, when we have so far been unable to do anything towards redeeming our pledge to restore to her her national life and her national liberties ! “ Business as usual,” when a large portion of the fertile territory of our gallant allies, the French, is still under the heel of the conqueror ! “ Business as usual,” when, disguise it though we will, we must recognise the fact that our other gallant allies, the Russians, have been pushed back, and in a few weeks have lost the results of the strenuous efforts of months ! Why, there are a hundred circumstances which point to the fact that the one thing we dare not do is to attempt to proceed with our ordinary business. I need not go further than the records of this Parliament to show that there is no justification for the continued use of this idle and mischievous phrase. What has been the record of this Parliament since we met?
– I must ask the honorable senator whether he is discussing the Bill ?
– I am endeavouring to show that we ought not to proceed with this Bill at the present moment, because we are front to front with a great national crisis. I regret if anything I have said should be held , to be outside the scope of the measure.
– If it were not for the fact that honorable senators, by arrangement on the last day of sitting, allowed the second readings of the Bills to pass on the understanding that they would be afforded a full opportunity of debating them on the third reading, I would not permit so much latitude now. In the circumstances, I do not propose to restrain the honorable senator; but I think that, while urging the war as a reason why the Bills should not be proceeded with, a general discussion of the present political situation will be neither proper nor relevant.
– I would point out that the proposal before the Senate is’ that we should agree to the third reading of this Bill “ now.” I am endeavouring to show that now is not the right time to- pass it, and I am a little pained to hear that you .should regard my reference to big national matters - matters of Empire importance - as coming within the description of the term “political.” I was attempting to point out that the records of this Parliament show that the Government themselves recognise that we cannot proceed with our usual business. We have already passed a measure which conferred upon the Government greater powers than we would ever dream of conferring upon them in this democratic community if we were able to carry on our normal business. The Government have been accorded financial liberty to spend what they choose. Why ? Because we are not able to carry on business as usual. That circumstance was a recognition of the fact that there was absolutely nothing usual about the business with which we were called upon to deal. “ Business as usual, “ when we know that the Government have never for a single instant contemplated the prorogation of Parliament ! We have practically been asked to sleep here, with our armour on. There has been no prorogation of Parliament, but merely an adjournment, in order that we might be able to re-assemble here if circumstances should render the adoption of that course necessary.
– The honorable senator does not object to that?
– No, I do not object to any of these things. But one circumstance after another shows that Parliament is not in a position to carry on business as usual.
– Did Parliament adjourn on account of the war?
– It did not; it was on account of the Tariff.
– It was announced at the time that we were to have an adjournment rather than a prorogation, so that if anything happened in connexion with the war we should be in a position to re-assemble.
– We had not, passed the Estimates. How could Parliament prorogue without first passing the Estimates ?
– Do honorable senators mean to say that the adjournment was made on account of the Tariff?
– Then it was a very great dereliction of duty. When we are told that Parliament should proceed with “business as usual,” I am tempted to inquire,” What are the State Parliaments doing to-day? They are adjourning in’ order that they may ask the young men of this country to forget their usual business, to offer their services, and, if need be, their lives, on the altar of their country.
– Go and ask the merchants why they are charging double the prices that they should for commodities.
– I am glad of these interjections, because they supply me with the best proof of my contention that this is not a non-party measure. Was it “ business as usual “ which caused the Government of this country to invite their political opponents to’ join with them “m the appointment of a Joint War Committee ? Is not that circumstance in itself an indication that, even in their minds, there is a recognition of the seriousness of the hour which we are approaching? Is it “ business as usual “ when we practically tell the country that things are as. they are, and that, therefore, we will postpone the consideration of the Tariff for a still longer period ?
– Surely the honorable senator is not a pessimist?
– I am not. There is neither time for pessimism nor optimism now. There is only time to act. Is it “business as usual” when we are to be confronted in a few hours with a Bill providing for the registration of the men, the women, and the wealth of this country ? Is that an ordinary or a usual measure? All these things and a hundred others go to show that, whatever justification there may have been - and I hold there was none - for the use of that phrase when it first found its way into print, there is absolutely no justification to-day, when the one thing required is that each, to the extent of his capacity, should devote all his thoughts and all his efforts towards meeting the danger that threatens us. In my judgment, one thing which is essential to enable the Empire to successfully meet the challenge thrown out against it by a nation which has so organized its resources that all its activities move with the preciseness and effectiveness of a perfected machine, is equal organization and equal unity of effort.
– No one doubts that.
– But I point out that these Bills represent the throwing of “ the apple of discord “ among the electors. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in introducing them, gave us some figures of the voting at the last referenda, and seemed to derive comfort from the fact that the support for these proposals was growing, whereas, as a matter of fact, the figures only serve to indicate in the plainest possible fashion that the people in Australia, are sharply divided upon them. Waiving any slight advantage that they may give to one side or the other, I think it is a fair assumption that the figures indicate that the people of this Commonwealth are hopelessly divided upon these questions.
– Not hopelessly.
– They are so evenly divided that no one but a self-constituted fool could believe that these proposals are going through except as the result of strenuous and bitter party controversy.
– Surely the honorable senator will not indulge in party warfare ?
– If these proposalsare put before the electors, I shall oppose them. When my friends speak of not making these Bills party measures, do they assume that, while they are to be free to bring forward proposals to which they know a large section of the electors objects, that that large body of electors is. to remain quiescent, and not give effect to its views? If Ministers would leave on one side these matters of contention between the two parties, they would not find among honorable senators on their own side any who would be more anxious to support them in their efforts to carry on the war than would be found among those politically opposed to them; but, in pushing to the final appeal to the people measures upon which they know thepeople are sharply divided, and which represent the main line of distinction between both parties, it is absurd to suggest that those opposed to them should remain inactive, while those who support them should be free to give effect to their political wishes. It is claimed that these are not party measures. How is it, then, that they form so prominent a feature of the manifestos of Mr. Fisher from time to time?
– They are not party, but national, measures.
– I can prove fromthe manifestos issued by my friends op– posite that they are party questions. There was a manifesto issued, in 1910, by Mr. Fisher, and signed at that time by Mr. Watkins; there were other manifestos in connexion with the 1913 election, and in connexion with the 1914 election, and in each manifesto these measures were put forward as being among the foremost planks of the Labour party’s platform, and the assurance was given that, not only was the Labour party pledged to them, but it was also pledged to give effect to them in the forthcoming Parliament.
– It was the same in regard to the Tariff.
– If my friend says that the attitude of the Labour party towards these measures is the same as its attitude towards the Tariff, I may point out that Ministers are now treating the Tariff differently.
– - How ar© they treating the two matters differently?
– -Because they are leaving one in abeyance while they are proceeding with the other.
– The Tariff is in operation.
– But the Government will not go on with it.
– No question upon which the people are called upon to decide can be called a party question.
– As the people have to decide everything, the honorable senator might as well say that there is no such thing as a party question. When the people of the different States had to decide -whether they would join the Federation or not, was not that a party question ?
– No. Senator MILLEN.- It was a party question.
– Sir Edmund Barton and your party were responsible for Federation.
– The honorable senator has shown exactly the justification for my statement. Just now there was an interjection that there was no party. The honorable senator, however, says “ Sir Edmund Barton and your party,” but at that time I was strongly opposing the Constitution which Sir Edmund Barton wanted the people to accept. I stood on the platform with Mr. Hughes and others, and opposed it. I do not say that
Federation was a matter taken up by the then existing parties in the States, but I say that any matter on which public attention ranges itself in hostile camps is a party matter.
– What is wrong with “party” anyhow?
– I have not a word to say about “party.” I believe that the party system in Australia has been responsible for the purity of Australian public life, but when we are called upon to leave matters of party alone and to deal with a much more serious national matter, it shows, not- merely a want of a sense of proportion, but also great dereliction of duty for Ministers to seek to divide the electors upon any question.
– Is it not a fact that if your party had remained in power they would have submitted certain amendments to the Constitution ?
– It is not a fact that, had my party been in power, they would have submitted anything to the electors that would have divided them at a time such as this.
– Would not they abolish preference to unionists ?
– The party now in power is abolishing preference to unionists in the highest calling a citizen of a State can fulfil! There is no question of preference to unionists when we ask men to join the ranks of the fighting army.
– Every man goes into the Army under the same conditions.
– And every man goes into the Public Service under the same conditions, although unionists get preference for temporary employment.
– But Ministers take precious good care to see that none but unionists get employment.
– Though my friends may be deceived by the hope that this is not a party matter, a few quotations which I shall read will make abundantly clear the fact that it is. Speaking on 13th April, 1911, on the referenda proposals which were submitted to the people shortly afterwards, Mr. Hughes, after having dwelt upon what his party had done, said -
Here we fail. Who are the “we”? It was not the nation, or the united Parliament, but the party with which he is associated, and for which he claimed to be speaking then.
We have passed a certain portion of our pro gramme into law-
Whose programme ? The party programme of the Government with which Mr, Hughes was associated.
– And do not forget that the people indorsed it.
– They did indorse it, but they did not indorse the referenda proposals on that occasion.
– They will this time.
– My honorable friends are shifting from pillar to post. The point now is, not whether the people indorsed the programme, but whether it was of a party character ? It does not cease to be of a party character because a small majority of the people of the country may approve of it. It is still a party matter so long as there is any substantial majority opposing it. but we arc prevented from passing the rust .until you amend the Constitution.
There is a clear indication that these constitutional amendments are regarded by Mr. Hughes as being necessary in order to permit of the fulfilment of the party programme to which they are pledged. He went on to say -
It was resolved, in order to give effect to the programme there decided upon - That is, the programme, decided on at a Labour Conference. that it was necessary to make amendments in the Constitution, which were recently laid before the people.
It is an incontrovertible fact that every plank of the platform upon which that party went to the elections in 1903 to which effect can be given without an amendment of the Constitution has already been given effect to.
Those two statements make it clear that these proposals are being pressed as part of the Labour party’s programme in order that a door may be opened by which a further instalment of the programme can be brought in.
– Which of them would you recommend?
– I am not now dealing with any of them. What I wish to bring home to my honorable friends is that this is a matter to which the Labour party stands solemnly pledged, and which they have put in the fore-front of their programme. Believing in it sincerely as I think they do, I wish them to recognise that there is a very large section of the people who, not being in accord with them, will be compelled to oppose them when these proposals are put forward again. Let me take the Labour manifesto of 1913. It contained this statement -
Having set forth that part of the policy of the party for which amendment of the Constitution is necessary, we now come to the general policy of the party under the existing powers of the Constitution.
That is a clear, plain statement that the proposals were part of the policy of my honorable friends opposite. Then we come down to the Labour manifesto of 1914, which is not a year old yet. The programme of the Labour party has already been declared. To that programme, which sets forth, in clear and unambiguous terms the policy of Labour, including its attitude towards trusts and combines, amendment of the Constitution, &c, Labour stands pledged for the next Parliament.
That we know was Labour’s attitude in regard to these proposals. What has been the attitude of those who are opposed to them ? We have not to refer to the records of what has transpired outside Parliament, but only to take tho records of the Senate and the other House to find conclusive evidence that if ever there was a party matter introduced within these walls it was the proposed alterations in the Constitution. How can you judge a party matter by any better evidence than that the members of one party support and the members of another party oppose? Let me remind my honorable friends of what took place in those bodies which control their political destinies. We remember that there was a carpeting of Mr. Holman a little while ago because he ventured to express an opinion not quite in keeping with the official utterances of the Labour party. If this was not a party matter, surely he might have been allowed to go his own road .
– It is a national matter.
– I am the most peaceful man in the world, but if my honorable friend were to insist upon coming over here and threatening me with personal violence he would not be surprised if I took steps to protect myself.
– There is no political violence in this matter.
– I wish to remind my honorable friend of what took place in the case of Mr. Holman. If this is not a matter in which the electors should be left free to follow their own judgment, why was that extraordinary action taken in regard to Mr. Holman ? Why was he haled before the Conference, and called upon to answer for his audacity in venturing to express any other opinion than that which had been approved by the Conference which had accepted these proposals as vital to the party’s interests?
– Was he ?
– He was, and no one knows that better than does Senator Gardiner. Again, why was it that Mr. Page ceased to be a member of the Labour party? It was because he, too, declared that he was unable to support the referenda proposals. If it was not a party matter, why was Mr. Page compelled to leave the ranks of the Labour party ? We are merely attempting to deceive ourselves if we assume for a moment that it is not a party matter. It undoubtedly is of great national concern, but every matter which has been of great national concern has invariably been a subject of party controversy, and the only question for us to consider is whether the circumstances of to-day justify us in inviting the electors to give a decision now or not.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - Why did not the late Government allow them to be submitted to the electors . when the Senate passed them before the war?
– The honorable senator now raises another matter.
-Colonel O’Loghlin. - It is a very important matter.
– If I were to ask the honorable senator if that action were not taken from a purely party point of view he would say that it was - another proof that these are party proposals.
– But why did you oppose them ?
– I opposed them because I do not believe in them.
– We do believe in them.
– My honorable friends say, in effect, “ Because we believe in them, therefore we should be free to go ahead’ with them, but you who do not believe in them must remain silent and take no action.”
– Many of the leaders of your party believe in them.
– One of the most brilliant leaders of the Labour party does not.
– Mr. Holman is not in this party.
– Not in the Labour party ?
– Not in the Federal Labour party.
– No; but, like all other members of that party, he joined a Political Labour League for both Federal and State purposes.
– He is a State righter
– It makes no difference that, here or there, there is a man on the other side.
– Why quote Mr. Page?
– Because I wish to show that the Labour party regarded these matters as so essentially party matters that they’ said that any man who does not believe in them cannot remain in their ranks.
– You said just now that it does not matter if a man, here or there, does not believe in them.
– It does not matter if there is a man here or there on either side who is not in line with his party. It does not disprove the statement that they are all the while party measures. It is made clear that they are party matters when the Labour party holds them to be so vitally important that it will drum out of its ranks men who are otherwise loyal to the platform, and able to subscribe to the various proposals.
– Not drum out.
– They are drummed out in regard to the referenda proposals. It is the only term which can be used in regard to Mr. Page.
– What did your party do with Sir William Irvine?
– If that interjection were true, it would afford further proof that these are party matters, and are treated as such. Parties do not muzzle members or drum them out in regard to unimportant’ matters. There will, for instance-, be no drumming out over the Tariff, because we know that, on various items neither party will be solid. But if the Labour party is dealing with a question on which it has pledged its existence, it does make it a party matter, and is not prepared to tolerate any opposition in the ranks.
– Your party. made Sir William Irvine eat his words, anyhow.
– The interjection, if correct, would only go to prove that this is a matter of the most pronounced party character. So far as Parliament is concerned, to my mind it would be, perhaps, quite a negligible disadvantage if we had to deal with these proposals here only. But when we are going to ask public men to take th© platform for and against them, invite the electors to range up again in line, disturb the public mind with these complex and momentous matters, do we show any recognition of the fact that the fate of this Empire is still undecided ? I abstained from speaking earlier on these measures in the hope that, even now, the Government would venture to take that truly national course which I think lies clearly before them. They have not done so, and, of course, the responsibility must be theirs. Ali that I can do is to express the hope that the evils which I fear will result from the presentation of these proposals to the electors may not be so serious as I anticipate they will be, that the desire of the people of the country, to devote their whole energies to the prosecution of the war, will enable them to brush on one side that bitter controversy which otherwise might arise, and that we may look therefore to the good sense of the electors to do what the Parliament has absolutely failed to do.
.- The Leader of the Liberal party in this chamber has again indicated a complete reversal of form on the part of the party he represents. I represent a State which for months after the outbreak of this great war was stumped by Liberals, advocating fearlessly and practically every. day the watch cry of “Business as usual.” They said it was absolutely essential at this juncture in our history that the business affairs of the nation should be carried on.
– It was a boast of the commercial houses.
– That is so. At a commercial travellers’ banquet in Launceston, Senator Keating made a speech for which his text was, “ Carry on Business as usual.” The Liberals made appeal after appeal ; they told the members of the Labour party and the public that we must, above all things, keep the wheels of industry revolving as they did prior to the outbreak of the war. -But now we have a sudden change, and an honorable senator asking us on this side to abandon the policy of “ Business as usual.” If that policy was necessary when the war broke out, is it not more necessary to-day ? In his appeal, Senator Millen asked why we are going on with a scheme for registration if we intend to conduct business as usual.
– That is the kind of business we are going on with.
– There is the reply. The very reason why the Government are resorting to the extreme length of registering the manhood and the wealth of Australia is so that they can systematically and scientifically organize the resources of this great nation, not only as regards sending men to the front, hut as regards carrying on the great businesses and the commercial industries of the country. The registration is undertaken for no other purposes than to guard against any waste of effort or overlapping. The object is to completely systematize our industries, in order that we may fight the Germans with their own weapons.
– That is all that the Vice-President of the Executive Council meant when he said that the Government was carrying on its “ business as usual.”
– Exactly. My leader’s use of the phrase was based on the thought that now, above all times, we must see that there is no stoppage in industry. What are the Government doing ? Why are they spending loan money? Why did they go to the rescue of the States and finance them ? It was in order that everything should be kept going entirely as it was before the war. The Leader of the Opposition makes it plain to us that he has got stage fright; that he is stricken between party fear and cold feet. To-day this honorable gentleman, who once advocated an entirely different course, had the colossal impudence to get up here and tell us that we are wrong, that they were wrong, and we should abandon everything. Do we want craven hearts in the Government? The country needs not only an enterprising, hut, if necessary, a Socialistic policy, in order that” its resources shall not suffer in the greatest crisis in the world’s history.
Senator Senior interjected that the Commonwealth was not only having “ business as usual,” but “ business as unusual.” Day after day and week after week cases of exploitation and colossal robbery have been brought under the notice of honorable senators.
– Who are these people ? Give us some names.
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company are prepared to back up your party financially.
– I should think they were when you are trying* to ruin their business).
– Senator Bakhap asks who are these people. I will tell him of one case. When I came over from Tasmania in the Loongana a week or two ago, I met a prominent business man of Launceston, who is head of his firm, and I said to him, “ You are doing pretty well out of chaff, are you not?” and he said, “ I am trying to do pretty well out of it, but I cannot.” I then asked him the reason, because I knew that Tasmania had the stuff to sell, and he replied, “ It is because of the firms who control the chaff on this side. They are too big for us.” I will give Senator Bakhap, or any other senator, the nam© of this firm privately. The gentleman to whom I referred told me that there was one firm in this State, a firm in Melbourne, who had this season made £80,000 out of chaff. That is “business as usual,” of course! It is to deal with this class of business that we are asking for authority to organize our resources through the medium of the referenda proposals.
– Some of our own people cannot even get dripping;, it has been cornered.
– Why do you not quote New South Wales, where the Government is dealing with these matters?
– The same can be said of butter, for w© learn that in a recent shipment of 6,000 cases of Queensland butter by the Warilda, the men who shipped that produce to Sydney mad© £1 per case, or a total of £6,000 over the transaction. That is one of the reasons why we are asking that the National Parliament should have national powers to deal with national crises. That is the position. The party aspect of the matter is not introduced by honorable members on this side, but by Senator Millen and those who follow him. Hundreds of Liberals to whom I have spoken are agreed that these powers are necessary, and Sir William Irvine, who is more patriotic than the honorable senator who has just sat down, said he would follow the Fisher Government, no matter what proposals they brought forward - referenda or not.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Not with regard to this matter.
– Apparently the honorable senator does not believe his own colleague’s statement when dealing with a big national question like this. Senator Millen flung taunts across the floor of this chamber, and told us that there would be no preference to unionists at the front. There is not. But let me tell my honorable friend that there will be preference against the men who are fighting so bravely for Australia, and that it will b© his party which will give preference against them, when they return to this fair land, as we hope they will in the fulness of time. When they come back, not one-third of them will have a vote or any say in the Legislative Councils of many of the States of Australia.
– And that is the only effective vote.
– Yes. They are regarded as good enough to fight for this country, but when it comes to managing its affairs they must, according to the Liberal view, have some sort of property qualification, or be denied any say in the representation in the Legislative Councils. In the face of all this, the honorable gentleman flings his taunts across the floor that there will be no preference to unionists at the front.
– They will not give the mothers of these men a chance even now.
– The honorable senator in his speech, with sinister cunning, attempted to insinuate that the course we are taking in putting through the third reading of this Bill is unprecedented. Is that the position ? Is the course which we are taking in Australia unprecedented ? It is not true, and to prove it I remind the Senate of what Canada is doing. In the Dominion a general election is to be held in which the personal issues of all parties in the Parliament will be involved. On the other hand, what we are doing is not a personal matter at all, but a great national matter which ought to be above party feeling.
– We did the same thing last September, when we held a general election.
– Yes, and New Zealand did the same last December. I wish now to read an extract from a well-known English paper bearing on this matter.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - The honorable senator is trying to justify this course at the very worst time.
– The honorable senator does not recognise the position.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Yes, I do.- I recognise the whole circumstances.
– What is the difference between to-day and last September ?
– The extract I wish to read quotes the Toronto correspondent of the London Times, the greatest English newspaper, and it is as follows : -
The indications suggest an almost immediate dissolution of Parliament. The argument of the Government is that, as it is subject to constant hostile criticism and attack, that with twenty-two western constituencies without representation cither in the Senate or the House of Commons, and that, with enormous obligations on account of the war and its own action in sending an army to Europe, it is desirable to have an authoritative declaration from the country. It is also pointed out that Ministers must shortly appear at an Imperial Conference to consider terms of peace and problems of the gravest importance to the Empire, and that, while there is a conflict of authority between the Commons and the Senate, they cannot speak with such decision as is desirable.
– Surely that must be a Labour Government?
– Oh, no ; it is a Conservative Government. The extract continues -
While there is a conflict of authority between the Commons and the Senate, they cannot speak with such decision as is desirable, and cannot insure that proposals sanctioned by Canadian Ministers in the Conference would secure parliamentary ratification.
The next paragraph is headed “ Voting a.t the Front, “ and that is another thing about which Senator Millen drew a very harrowing picture. He spoke of our men being forced to record their votes within the sound of the guns, and amid the dripping of blood from bayonets, and so on. Absolute bosh ! It is pure and undiluted bunkum to make such a statement. Now, let us see what this paper says about voting at the front among Canadians -
Voting at the Front. - Already a supply of ballot-boxes, to enable the Canadian soldiers at the front and in the trenches to vote for their parliamentary representatives, has been received in London and sent to Flanders.
According to the views of our friends opposite, the very Empire itself must surely be rocked to its foundations because such an unprecedented thing as this is being done !
– By a Conservative party, too.
– That is so. Let honorable senators listen while I read further -
The Times correspondent says that it is not likely that the contest will develop exceptional bitterness, and there is no reason to apprehend any organized attempt to impugn the loyalty of the Liberal party or divide the country over the relations with Great Britain.
The Times correspondent says that there will be no attempt to impugn the loyalty of the Conservative party because they determined on an election.
– They are not so anxious for party strife over there.
– That is so. The extract continues -
The Liberal press and the elements not identified with cither party arc vigorously opposing a dissolution, and insisting that the contest should be delayed until the war is over. To this the Government answer that if the election is not held now, it must be held in 1916, and there is no guarantee that the war will even then be over, while it is important that in the meantime a Government should hold office with the full confidence of the country, and free to devote its whole energies to -the war and the problems inseparable from Canadian participation in the conflict.
That argument applies equally to the present position. If we postpone the taking of the referenda on these measures for another twelve months, we might find the Empire still at war, and perhaps we would be in a worse position than to-day. I sincerely hope not, but it is possible.
Coming now to a statement made on the second reading by Senator Bakhap, I would like first to ask - What are the functions of a Government? The functions of a Government are to control, adequately and effectively, the conditions of the people who live in the country. Now, upon this matter, honorable senators upon the other side know thai, under the present circumstances, no party on the Treasury benches in this National Par- liament can effectively control the conditions of the .people of Australia. They cannot interfere with, or regulate as people would desire, the social system under which we live.
– But we have taken an oath that they will.
– The Commonwealth Government have been bereft, as it were, of its outer garments and the powers that were given to them when we federated, and which every one in Australia thought we possessed. It has been found that we do not possess to the full those powers which are so necessary, for measure after measure, after passing in the National Parliament, has been thrown on to the parliamentary scrap-heap, simply because io has not been worth the paper upon which it was printed.
– The High Court decision practically invites the referenda proposals.
– That is so. It does not matter which party is in power. No party can carry out and give effect to the ideals of Federation without an alteration of the Constitution. We desire to protect the people in this matter, and we desire to deal with that subject which is causing apprehension and anxiety in the treasury of every home in Australia - the cost of living. These measures will, at least, enable us, not to completely control and tackle this problem as we would like, but it will give us an opportunity to make a commencement in tackling one of the greatest problems that lias ever confronted this great country of Australia.
It is one of the remarkable anomalies of civilization that, nowithstanding that machinery to-day is immensely superior to the machinery of the past, notwithstanding that the tools of production are producing far more wealth, and doing it far more cheaply, than ever, notwithstanding the fact that machinery for primary, secondary, and technical industries is more effective than ever, the price of commodities is steadily increasing. That is an anomaly. The price of bread, for instance, is not lower to-day in spite of . the fact that improved scientific methods of farming have been introduced and adopted. We are, therefore, forced to look for a reason for the strange anomaly that, although things are being produced much more cheaply, the public have to pay more for the articles they consume. There are two or three causes to which this can be attributed. Land monopoly is a primary cause, the accumulation of wealth and private taxation forms a second reason, and trusts and combines constitute a third, for the abnormal increase in prices in spite of greater cheapness of production. When we come to deal with the causes of the increased prices, and the problem of checking them, and insuring to the people some return for the improved and up-to-date methods that :1 re being daily introduced in our machinery of production, we find that Senator Bakhap regards the fixation of prices as impossible. In his speech on the second reading he also asserted that there were no trusts.
– He told us that he was in a public-house, and knows that publicans do fix prices, as he had a conversation with the publican, and found that is was as easy as “ falling off a log.”
– A man need not sell anything except at a price which he fixes himself. The Labour party want to fix prices for other people.
– The honorable senator alleged that it was impossible to fix prices satisfactorily.
– Yet he partook of a glass, the price of which had been fixed.
– By the seller.
– No ; by the Licensed Victuallers Association.
– If the seller had been a wise man he would have advised Senator Bakhap to sign the Kitchener pledge and follow the King. The honorable senator argued that it was disastrous and ruinous to fix prices. Will he tell me who fixes the price of sugar to-day? Who fixes the price of tobacco? Who fixes steam-ship freights? Who fixes the price of coal?
– The people who own the steam-ships and who produce the coal.
– That is not altogether so. Who fixes the price of confectionery, timber, bricks, and other commodities? The honorable senator interjects that it is done by the people who sell them. They fix them entirely for their own advantage, and to the disadvantage of the rest of the people of the Commonwealth. The honorable senator argues that it is legitimate and shows business enterprise and initiative for these men to fix prices and become as rich as ever they like. He places no limit, so far as I can see, upon their acquiring vast possessions.
– He tells them to keep on doing it.
– To keep on getting rich. Why should not everybody do so?
– The honorable senator says it is quite legitimate for these men to do it, but that it is the abomination of desolation for the people of Australia to attempt to fix prices in their own interests. Individual sellers can fix prices and suspend the law of supply and demand, and that is quite legitimate; but if the whole of the people want to fix prices on a fair and legitimate margin, in order to protect themselves, that, according to my honorable friend, spells damnation.
– You want to fix prices so as to make them sell at a loss. If that is not robbery, I do not know what is.
– Not so. When a few people are allowed to fix the prices of their commodities, and force the rest of the people to pay them, it is closer to robbery than anything else that can be mentioned. But the honorable senator accuses us who support the referenda proposals of being robbers because we want to prevent this robbery from continuing.
– You want to fix the price of an article for which a man can get more outside of Australia.
– That is not the argument, and we do not admit it.
– Your party have already done it in New South Wales in the case of- wheat. It has been done in Victoria also in the case of wheat.
– Who fixed the price of wheat in Victoria ?
– Unfortunately, it was a Liberal Government. They can be just as foolish as a Labour Government at times. This arises from an imperfect knowledge of economics.
– The trouble is that the Labour party have too good a knowledge of political economy for those who support my honorable friends opposite. Senator Bakhap went on to say -
Are not some of the State Governments in Australia robbing the farmer of the price of his wheat to-day? Are they not robbing him of the price of his butter and of the price that he might secure for his chaff?
He went on with tears in his voice to put up the well-known plea for the poor producer - the farmer and his wheat, the farmer and his fodder. We are just as anxious to protect the farmer as is the honorable senator, but we are more practical about it.
– Let the referenda questions be decided by the farmers.- You know where they would go then - up the spout.
– They will be decided by the whole people. The honorable senator argued that the farmers had been robbed in regard to their wheat by a Liberal Government in Victoria, and by a Labour Government in New South Wales. What are the facts? I noticed that in the farming district of Murrumbidgee, represented in the New South Wales Assembly by Mr. Pat. McGarry, a Labour member, immediately after the wheat deal was consummated by the New South Wales Government, the farmers in his district banqueted him. The reason, which the honorable senator persistently evaded in his speech, is that when the New South Wales Government took the crop over they saved the farmer from the wheat speculator in the case of at least onethird of the wheat, if not more, because the majority of the farmers in New South Wales had sold their wheat for a little over 3s. a bushel. They actually got 5s. The honorable senator would have a tough job to persuade those farmers that they had been robbed by the Government. You do not find shrewd farmers, as a rule, banqueting those who work the depredations that Senator Bakhan has pictured. The farmers of New South Wales are in the main very well satisfied with what their Government did. I have met a great number of producers from that State, and know that they are beginning to realize that their enemy is not the Government which fixes prices, but the speculator. They would welcome the fixation of prices by the Government to protect them from the speculators. I met a farmer on the north-west coast of Tasmania who had 1,200 bushels of oats which he sold for 2s. lid. a bushel, as he could not get more. He went from buyer to buyer in the northern part of Tasmania, and by some mysterious coincidence was offered the same price in one office as another. This mysterious fixing of prices by a ring occurs every day in the week.
– I wonder if there were any telephones between those offices ?
– That, as a rule, is part of the paraphernalia. This farmer objected, because two hours after he had sold his grain he met a man from the mainland who offered him 3s. 5d. He said to me, “I have lost 6d. a bushel by that deal, so that I have been taken down for £30 in all. I had to pay to the twelve men who worked on the thresher £12 10s. under the new scale of wages.” That was the scale to which a few of the farmers of Tasmania, backed up by the Liberal party, objected. It was fixed when the threshing machine award was introduced in Tasmania. The farmer said, “£12 10s. is what I had to pay my men, but I had to pay £30 to the man who wrote out the cheque.” “ Which,” he asked me, “ is my enemy - the men who got the extra wages or the man who tapped me for £30?”
– And he had not the business acumen to send a shilling tele-, gram to find out the mainland quotation !
– The farmers, as a rule, are not trained in business ways, and we cannot expect them to know as much as a grain merchant knows. Those are the things that are waking up the farmers. They are being exploited by rings, even with fodder at its present price. Yet Senator Bakhap openly and barefacedly in this Chamber defends and apologizes for the ring. We hear a number of protests about the duty on jute bags, a matter which will have to be considered by the Government.
– It is the farmers who are protesting.
– I do not blame them for protesting; but a prominent business man in Melbourne informed -me that it was not the duty that was worrying him. It was the fact that there are certain firms in Australia who bought jute bags twelve months ago at cheap rates, and have kept them, and are going to unload them on the farmers at about twice what they cost, thus making big fortunes. Yet Senator Bakhap says that we should not interfere. He would let people of that kind get rich by robbing the farmer, and all he can do is to splutter and explode.
– You are going to help the farmer by making the bags dearer.
– It is nothing to the honorable senator that the farmers are being robbed by private firms, and will continue to be robbed unless we carry the referenda proposals and make some attempt to protect them against exploitation, if not for this season, at any rate for future seasons.
– Does the honorable senator say that a man is a robber because he buys something, keeps it for months, and sells it at a higher price?
– Yes, in certain circumstances. If he withholds from use what the people must have, or allows them to get it only at an extortionate price, he is a robber. Fortunately for the referenda, the people, and the farmers in particular, are getting very alive to these matters. They are beginning to wake up. All this argument about men using their business acumen, and showing initiative and enterprise, and committing robbery with the aid of those qualities, is repellant to me. All Senator Bakhap ‘s talk about economics cannot blind me to the fact that the farmers, and many others who support him, are becoming alive to the real position. These “ boodliers “ and exploiters support the honorable senator and his party.
– Are they very numerous ?
– I will prove this before I conclude my remarks. Take the case of a complete harvester. The State Factory in Western Australia is turning out these machines for £65 each, whilst private enterprise is charging £95 and upwards for them. In the same way the State Implement Factory charges £25 for a plough, whereas private enterprise sells it for £40.
– The State Factory makes up its losses from the taxpayers.
– There have not been any losses. Of course I know that my honorable friend does not like these facts. They are not palatable to him. I would further point out that, whereas, private enterprise charges 8 per cent, interest on the price of these machines when-. sold on terms, the State Implement Factory charges only 5 per cent. But the worst feature of all is that, if a farmer requires any duplicate part of a machine, purchased from private factories, he is charged double what it is worth. If a .machine were built up of duplicate parts it would cost double the price at which it can ordinarily be bought. The duplicate parts sold by the State Implement Factory can be purchased for 50 per cent, less than can those sold by private enterprise.
I have carefully gone into the figures which the Royal Commission that inquired into the matter of farming implements has embodied in its report. That report states that there are 9,000 harvesters sold yearly in Australia. It will be seen, therefore, that the difference between the price charged for these machines by private enterprise and that charged by the State Implement Factory represents no less a sum than £270,000. Similarly there are 17,000 seed drills sold annually, and as the difference between the price charged for them by private enterprise and that charged by the State Implement Factory is £14, it represents a further sum of £238,000. On these two implements alone the farmers are being taxed to the extent of £508,000 a year - over half a million per annum. Yet the farmer’s friends defend this sort of thing. I have here a letter from Mr. S. R. Bell, of Bell Brothers, Western Australia, whom Senator Lynch will probably know as prosperous farmers. The letter reads -
Woodanilling, Western Australia, 27th February, 1914. Hon. T. H. Bath, M.L.A.,
Minister for Lauds and Agriculture. Dear Mr. Bath,
I have yours of the 24th of February, with reference to harvesting machine purchased from the State implement works.
I have pleasure in Stating that it gave us every satisfaction. We worked it in new and very stony ground, and never had any breakages; in fact, it never cost us one shilling for repairs.
Our machine is a six-feet cut; price (three payments), £75 15s. The best we could get from the leading firms (three payments) for this size harvester was £115, so you see wo have every cause for satisfaction here.
As a bond fide farmer, I take this opportunity of thanking you and your colleagues for this, which means so many thousands to the “farming industry.
I am, &c,
I come now to the question of agricultural manures. Here, again, the farmer is robbed most unfairly by the enterprising business men whom Senator Bakhap so loudly applauds. I have in my hand a book entitled The Trust Movement in Australia by H. L. Wilkinson, of the Melbourne University. It is a publication which ought to be in the hands of every elector. Its author did not compile it as a supporter of the Labour party, but as a student. As a- matter of fact, 1 believe that, in politics, Mr. Wilkinson is a Liberal.
– What a wonderful thing that he should be a Liberal, if he is in possession of evidence that is so useful to the honorable senator !
– There are Liberals who have sense.
– This University man is such a fool as to be a Liberal !
– There are plenty of Liberals who are prepared to see things in their proper perspective. Here are a few of the facts which he sets out. On page 93 of this little volume, under the heading of “ Artificial Manure Manufacturers’ Combine,” he says -
Whilst Victorian farmers are being charged £4 7s. 6d. per ton, similar super-phosphate is being sold for export to New Zealand for £3 13s. Oil. Customs returns show that 12,881 tons of super-phosphates were exported from Australia in 1913, and their declared value was £47,390, or £3 13s. 6d. per ton. . . .
Another interesting comparison of prices is in regard to South Australia. In this State, prior to 1914, there were two companies manufacturing super-phosphates - the Mount Lyell Company and the Wallaroo Company - and theprice .of super-phosphate was £3 18s. 6d’. It was then cheaper for Victorian fanners in theMallee to buy their fertilizer in South Australia than in Victoria.
At the end of 1913 the Mount Lyell Company absorbed the Wallaroo Company, and anamalgamated company was formed. The- price- in 1914 in South Australia is similar to the Victorian price, viz., £4 7s. 6d. per ton.
– Does the honorablesenator say that such a well-conducted enterprise as that of the Mount Lyell Company ought to be ruined or nationalized ?’
-I do not. AIT I advocate is that it should be made to sell to the farmer at a fair price.
– If it did not sell itssurplus production outside Australia it would not be able to produce for thefarmer at all.
– I quite understand the law relating to export. Mr. “Wilkinson says: -
Another point worth noticing- is the fact that, whereas formerly a number of travellers from all the companies were going about the country, it is now quite a common thing for all companies to have the same agent in the country towns.
– Be in n hurry and rub the Mount Lyell enterprise out. The honorable senator wants to tell that company how it shall transact its business.
– There is no suggestion of that. The honorable senator has a wonderfully fertile imagination. We desire to protect the farmer.
– Has not the Mount Lyell Company been of great assistance to the farmers of Australia?
– Certainly. But because I have been of assistance to the honorable senator, am I .-justified in robbing him by making him pay an unfair price for something which I sell him?
– Because I pay the honorable senator something for an article in excess of the price which he paid for it, he is not robbing me.
– I would be robbing the honorable senator if I charged him more than a fair price.
– Profit is robbery, according to the- honorable senator’s economic philosophy.
– I am not arguing on those lines at all. I say that unfair, extreme, profit is robbery.
– The honorable senator has only given us one legitimate illustration, namely, that relating to harvesters. I admit that if the State manufactures an article, the State can fix the price.
– If a few people in Australia can fix the price of artificial manures to suit themselves, surely the whole of the people can do so. Here is another instance gleaned from the Herald of the 4th May, 1914:-
A case has lately come to light in which a potato-grower at Iona suffered. On one day he dug a large quantity of potatoes, which were of “the same variety and quality, and were grown in the same’ paddock. He had them bagged and sent to Melbourne, one consignment being sent to the Gippsland and Northern Co-operative Selling Company, and a similar consignment to another agent.
Ho received a return of £4 15s. a ton from the Gippsland and Northern Selling Company, and £2 15s. a ton from the other agent. This agent stated that the potatoes arrived in a sunburnt condition, and that he experienced difficulty in securing a buyer for them at all. But the grower says that they were sent in the same truck as the consignment for which he received £4 15s., and were stacked underneath that consignment. Further, he says, that the weather was cool at the time.
Dozens of similar instances have occurred in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Parliament has no power to protect the potatogrowers of that State in selling their produce here, as Senator Bakhap knows.
I come now to the question of sugar. Senator Bakhap has put himself in the position of chief apologist for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. He affirms that it is not a tyrannous monopoly, and that if we interfere with it, the effect will be disastrous. He says -
A blow which will have its effect on the history of the Commonwealth for generations has been dealt at this company, whose shares can be bought openly in any stock exchange in Australia.
Senator Bakhap says that this is not a monopoly. I wish to put on record one or two facts connected with the industry. Here are the facts, according to Mr. Wilkinson : -
The company was originally formed with a capital of £150.000, whilst the capital is now £3,250,000. It is difficult to say how much of this is represented by watered stock, but the fact remains that £825,000 has been transferred from reserves since September, 1007. Summing up the financial position, the dividends now total over £4,000,000, debentures to the extent of over £900,000 have been paid off, and huge reserves have been capitalized by issuing new shares to shareholders.
This form of finance has become necessary to try and hide the huge profits and still keep paying only a 10 per cent, dividend.
– Their disclosed profits last half-year were £272,000.
– Exactly. The disclosed profits of the company exceed £500,000 annually. Mr. Wilkinson continues -
The disclosed value of the assets of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is £5,566,500; the market value of the shares in the company is £7,600,000 (an increase of approximately £1,000,000 in four years). In other words, the shareholders value their property at £2,000,000 more than the assets are declared to be worth in the duly audited balance-sheets. Now, this means one of two things: there has been either £2,000,000 of undisclosed profits devoted to buying plantations, mills, &c, which are not shown as assets, or the shareholders consider their monopoly of the sugar industry (or, in other words, the power they have acquired to fix the price of refined sugar and sugar cane in Australia) is worth £2,000,000. If this is not so, then if the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is a legitimate investment, the shares that were standing at £46 15s. in 1914 were only worth £34 10s., according to the published balance-sheets of the company. The conclusion is obvious. If the truth were known, it is probable this company is making 30 per cent, on the capital as it existed some few years ago.
– If the honorable senator bought a piece of land last year for £500, and sold it for £1,000, he would be malting a profit of 100 per cent.
– In case Senator Bakhap does not accept the authority which I have quoted, I have here an extract from the Age newspaper of 25th November, 1914, which reads: -
During the last three years these lucky investors have had apportioned amongst them £450,000 of profits over and above their regular dividend at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum. This extra distribution took the form of shares paid up to £20 each, but worth in the market more than double that sum, so that those participating actually benefited by something like £900,000 from these bonus additions to their capital. Clearly the undivided profits are becoming embarrassing, especially as the directors admit that the earnings of the business outside Australia during the last fifteen years have practically paid for all the company’s investments in Fiji. Consequently it has been decided to present shareholders with £150,000 in the form of paid-up shares, raising the total distributed in this fashion to £575,000, approximately worth £1,250,000 in the market. This operation brings the paid-up capital to the authorized limit of £3,000,000. In order to provide for the disposal of the prospective larger profits foreshadowed in the chairman’s speech to the meeting on Thursday, it is proposed to alter the deed of settlement so as to permit further additions to the capital account.
According to Senator Bakhap ail that is very good.
– Would you propose to reimburse them if they lost their capital ?
– I propose to prevent them from robbing the people of Australia, particularly those concerned in growing sugar. I have the report of the Royal Commission, whose judgment is more weighty than my words.
– What was the general drift of that report? Was it not favorable to the company f
– It was in favour of what I am ‘arguing, namely, the fixation of prices, not by the company, but by the people of Australia through their Parlia ment. I shall quote a few paragraphs from their report -
The refiners dictate prices to the millers ; the millers dictate prices to the growers. Such dictation is not necessarily inconsistent with a reasonable distribution of profits, presuming the refiners and millers exercise the power, which they possess, subject to the injunction to love one’s neighbour as oneself. A priori, an expectation that such an injunction would be observed in the conduct of business concerns would .imply a more sanguine view of human nature than can be claimed by your Commissioners.
While the millers and refiners make handsome profits, the profits of the growers are quite inadequate. A proportion of the growers, as growers, do well. . . . But growers as a class do not, in our opinion, receive their fair share of the profits of the industry as a whole. Nor do they receive that adequate return on their capital outlay which it should be one object of a protective system to insure. “ We hang on in the hope of better things,” expresses the prevailing attitude.
Yet we have had from the honorable senator a laudation of this company that is not only penalizing the public, but is also, as every senator from Queensland will testify, robbing and exploiting the growers. I could also quote the report of the Royal Commission, in which the fixation of prices is recommended, and the report of the Commission that sat in New Zealand, and showed how this company was robbing the people in that Dominion through the merchants, but the honorable senator would not take notice of them. He claims that the referenda measures are the robbers and the burglars. We claim that they are the policemen, and that unless we get these enhanced powers, the robbery for which my honorable friend apologizes, and which he condones, will continue.
Another matter with which I wish to -deal before I sit down is the question of shipping. I speak with sorrow on this point. What have the party represented by Senator Bakhap done in regard to the Shipping Ring? Encouraged it, bolstered it up, and supported it by giving it Government money as a subsidy in order to enable it to take up a stronger position than ever. To our regret, as Tasmanian representatives, when we calculated on a cessation of the monopoly existing on the service between Melbourne and Launceston, and the institution of our own steamers run by the Australian people, our political opponents manoeuvred and intrigued - and one gentleman, who was Vice-President of the Executive Council in the last Liberal Government, was mainly responsible for it - until the PostmasterGeneral of that Government gave to the Union Steam-ship Company Limited and Huddart, Parker and Company Limited, as joint tenderers, a contract for seven years, enabling them to exploit and rob the producers and farmers of Tasmania until 1920.
– Is that “business as usual”?
– Yes, for the Shipping Monopoly, and for those firms. It was business that will result in the people of Australia being penalized for a considerable length of time. Senator Bakhap condones this robbery. .
– It is not worth while my answering statements of that kind ; they are beneath contempt.
– When a company can dictate terms to the people of Australia as the Shipping Ring does, it is robbery. It is beyond legitimate business; it is within the region of exploitation, and if desired, one could use the stronger term of robbery. I have before me a summary of the balance-sheets of the Inter-State shipping companies. Let me take two or three of them. We find them summed up by Mr. Wilkinson, whose summing up has not been contradicted. In regard to the Adelaide Steamship Company, he says -
Summing up the financial position of this company, it is probable that, after allowing for the amounts used to write down freehold pro.perty, coal shares (their value is probably increasing), and the large sums used to pay for new tonnage which is every year added to the fleet, the real profits, except in years when there is an abnormal amount of shipwreck to be paid for, would amount to 25 per cent., or 30 per cent, on the capital as it stood in 1000.
– The Adelaide Steamship Company did not pay a dividend in 1913.
– They may not have done so in that particular year, but they are paying 30 per cent, to-day.
– In that year they did not pay a dividend; they put the money into new ships.
– It is estimated that all the new ships that have been built by these shipping companies have been built out of profits.
– Did the honorable senator anticipate that they would be built out of losses?
– No ; but the profits have been so big that they have been able to build these new steamers, and, at the same time, pay substantial dividends.
– I am to understand that the honorable senator is a sworn foeman of any profitable enterprise?
– I believe in enterprise, and in receiving a legitimate return, but even the honorable senator cannot say that a profit of 30 per cent, per annum is a legitimate return. It is illegitimate; it is robbery.
– Nonsense ! The honorable senator would make 30 per cent, to-morrow out of anything he started if he could do so.
– The fact that one may be able to do a certain thing does not make it right. In dealing with Hud - dart, Parker and Company Limited, Mr. Wilkinson writes-
Taking £300,000 as the nominal capital invested at the time the proprietary company was formed (probably only a proportion of this was actually subscribed), it will be seen that f 71,713 profit .per annum is over 20 per cent, per annum, and that is after allowing 6 per cent, for depreciation.
Then, dealing with the, distribution of profits, he says-
No information being available as to the nature’ of the agreement between the various Inter-State shipping companies, it cannot be said that the profits of the companies are pooled and divided on any basis. It appears, however, to be in the understanding that the freights and fares shall he “such, and the trade divided so, that each member of the combine gets about 25 per cent, on the capital, as it stood in 1901.
The basis of their agreement to exploit is a profit of 25 per cent.
– Does the honorable senator know that some of these companies have to provide their own insurance funds, and so on ?
– That is all provided for in arriving at the profit. What has been the result of this combine? Mr. Wilkinson says -
Between every port in Australia the steamer fares have increased 50 per cent, to 75 per cent, during the past fourteen years - the period during which the combine has been in existence.
– In 1888 I had to pay £4 10s. for a first-class passage between Melbourne and Tasmania, whereas the fare is now £2 12s. 6d.
– On© swallow does not make a summer.
– My point is that the fares now are less than they were in 1888.
– One little isolated instance such as the honorable senator has given will not build up an argument. T have the increase in freights for every State tabulated.
– In 1901 the fare from Launceston was only £1 5s.
– For a long time the fare was £1.
– It was £1 for a time. On th© other hand, for a time the fare between Sydney and Hobart was £8.
– We cannot build up an argument by taking an isolated case. Now that I have been challenged upon the point, I will quote the figures show- . ing the increases during the last fourteen years -
Aud every merchant in Launceston is continually complaining of the exploitation. Before I leave this point, I can quote another statement from Mr. Wilkinson. He saVE -
A comparison with the rates to .England speaks volumes as to the excessive nature of the freight charges: -
Between Melbourne and Fremantle, by Inter-State steamer, 1,880 miles, 12s. to 22s. Od. per ton. Between Melbourne and London, mil Cape, 15,000 miles, 12s. Od. to 34s. per ton.
Yet Senator Bakhap is silent in face of these figures.
– There is nothing remarkable about them. It costs more to move a piano from Launceston to St. Helens than from London to Hobart.
– Quite so, and if my honorable friend’s party had been in power it would have made no attempt to interfere. The honorable senator apologizes for the present condition of affairs. We, on the other hand, seek for reform, and we are about to endeavour to get it, but the honorable senator will oppose it. Mr. Wilkinson says -
It is being continuously urged that the increase in the freight and fare rates’ is entirely due to increases in the working costs of run ning the steamers. The shipping companies use every advance in the rates of wages as an excuse for increasing freights; this matter1 is subsequently dealt with, but it should be mentioned at this stage that there has been no increase in the State railway freights and fares during the period under review, yet the wages and costs of stores have varied in the same proportion for both services.
In his general summary he quotes theArbitration award, in which Mr. Justice Higgins warns the public that increases in freights cannot fairly be attributed to the increase in wages. If the companies are doing this, Mr. Justice Higgins condemns them, for in his award he says -
My attention has been called to statements in newspapers In, stevedores to merchants, and by directors to meetings of their companies to the effect that freight charges and stevedoring charges must again be increased if the rate of pay be raised. It is. my duty, I think, to warn the public that such statements have not been made to this Court, or tested in evidence. If freights be hereafter raised, the raising should not be put down to the raising of the rate of wages without something better than ex parte statements appearing in the press - without close investigation of all the facts by disinterested persons. In Fremantle the charges for handling cargo have been raised, without any increase in the rate of wages.
I could spend a good deal of time in discussing the conduct of the shipping industry, but I wish to deal with one or two other matters. Take, for instance, the question of jam. Senator Bakhap repeatedly challenged us to point out where any exploitation was going on. I desire to show where it takes place. The manufacturers of jam in Australia are practically united in one combine, which, by the way, is very largely controlled from Tasmania : it is controlled by Messrs. Henry Jones and Co., Ashbolt, and W. D. Peacock, of Hobart, and Mr. Palfreyman, of Victoria.
– And they drove Mr. Taylor out of the union.
– That is so. Fortunately, I have been able to get a proof copy of some evidence which was given before the Victorian Fruit Commission, and which shows conclusively how Mr. Taylor was treated, and what the combine did to an honest man who objected to the jam manufacturers exploiting the public.
– Will you tell us whether jam is not cheaper now than it was twenty-five years ago
– I dare say that one could prove any case if he were to use such an argument. In the early part of my speech I said that the problem is that, in spite of the reduced cost of production, the people do not get a cheaper article, and in many instances they certainly do not. I have here clear proof of how the jam manufacturers, not satisfied with the profits they are earning, are making deliberate attempts to extort still more from the pockets of the people. I ask honorable senators to listen to some evidence given on oath by Mr. George Wright, managing director of Taylor Brothers, jam manufacturers - 12152. By the Chairman.- What was the difference of opinion ? - A motion whs introduced by representatives of the Jam Combine for u standardization of weights. Notice hud been given of this motion, according to the notes I have here, at the previous conference, and at that time I made no comment. At the December conference Mr. Henry .Tones, the chairman and director of Henry .Tones Co-operative Limited, stated that lie found the other factories had reduced their weights to 27 OZS in a. 2-lb. gross tin, or nominal tin, or a reputed tin, anil to 13 OZS in a 1 -lb. gross tin. He then referred to the fact that we were introducing on the Victorian market a 16-oz. tin. I replied that we were making a specialty of it.
In other words, these gentlemen were giving the public exactly what they paid for, namely, 16 ozs. of jam for 1 lb. -
We were selling it in Now South Wales, and were going to sell it in Victoria. Then Mr. A. W. Palfreyman referred to the fact that our representatives were pointing out that our 2-11). gross tin contained greater weight than our competitors’ tins. I replied to that that I thought they were justified if we were giving more weight. He made a remark that wo were upsetting the trade. I told the members that whatever they decided to do in regard to the reduction of weight, we would be no party to it; we would not interfere with our weights in the slightest manner, whatever conclusion they came to; we would run our business in our own way, whatever they did. The meeting got out of hand then. There was a lot of warm talk, and one of their representatives, named BoYce, from Sydney, told me to go to hell out of that. 12153. What did he represent? - One of the Combine factories - the Sydney branch of Henry Jones and Company Limited. 12154. Of which Mr. Palfreyman is the head? - As far as I know, there are live or six directors in the Henry Jones Co-operative Limited; but, as a matter of fact, three men appear to nin it - Palfreyman Ashbolt, and Jones.
Surely that is an unsatisfactory state of affairs, especially in the light of a further statement by Mr. Taylor ! Referring to a new kind of tin which was introduced by Henry Jones and Company, he said - 12107. That “ dump “ tin is the I.X.L. brand? - Yes; that is their principal label. Taking apricot - that is, our 2-lb. gross tin - it has 29$ OZS. in the net contents - [producing ike name]. This is the I.X.L. tin - [producing the samel. That is 27 OZS. net weight. On the top of the tin they have it stamped 27 OZS. They wore making that, in Hobart, with the net contents of 28 ozs., last year, and their labels had 28 OZS. on: yet they say they are not reducing weights.
Mr. Taylor protested, the others waxed very warm about his remarks, and threw him out of the combine. But, fortunately, he was able to give afterwards sworn evidence, which placed the position clearly before the people of Australia. Not only have the jam manufacturers decreased the size of their small tins, but they have also decreased the size of the larger tins. The chairman asked - 12183. What are those quoted at wholesale per dozen tins? - I think the Necessary Commodities Commission raised the price of plum to 7s. lid. per dozen for 2-lb. gross tins: for fl-lb. tins they charge three times the price of 2 lbs. gross, less 3d.: that would be 21s. Hd. The Combine’s travellers ga out and sell that to the retailers at 21s. 1 d., which contains 82-J ozs.: wo sell the same kind of jam a,t the same price, which contains 95J ozs. The public are being got at to the extent of Is. 10d.. or the difference between the cost (or the selling price) of ours is Is. lOd. a dozen. You may say, why do you put so much in? If we got different-sized tins for different jams wo could get tins to take the 88 OZS. only, but that is impracticable in a large business; and what we want is legislation, or regulations so drawn up that the minimum weight in the tins shall he either full pounds or such proportions as half and quarters.. It is fairer to the public and fairer to the other manufacturers, and people who put up the 82i-oz. tin, which is supposed *to be 88 ozs. net, should be prosecuted.
He took the stand that it was right, in the interests of the people, that the jam manufacturers should not, quite unknown to them, reduce the weight of their tins. But there is even a worse thing going on in connexion, with the jam trade. _ A number of grocers are getting tins weighing only 21 OZS. put up. They do not say what weight of jam is in a tin, but sell the tin at a price, and the women think that they are buying the ordinary sized tin, not looking at the little difference in size, ‘and congratulating themselves upon having got a cheap line of jam for the household. That is being done all over Australia.
– Can you say whether the tins are full or not?
– The tins are made in a special way. Let me now read what Mr. Taylor said on that matter -
There is a very large sale in Sydney and suburbs - in fact, some grocers stock the “ dump “ tin only. Some have their own label. The Combine are putting up a “ dump “ tin under the grocers’ own label, and they have nothing but that in their shop. The Mutual Store has the 27-oz. tin, which is put up under their label, and the 21-oz. tin is put up under the grocers’ label also. All the tins I produce, except the “ dump,” are bought in Victoria, in the suburbs of Melbourne; and are tins of different makers.
This 21-oz. dumped tin was invented by the factory of Johnson Brothers Limited, Sydney, and controlled entirely by the combine. If that is not robbery, I shall have to get a new definition of the term. Continuing, Mr. Taylor said - 1 have been a member of the Sydney Jam Association for five or six years. There is an association of manufacturers in New South Wales, and an association of the manufacturers in Victoria. Twice a year the manufacturers from New South Wales, Victoria, Hobart, and South Australia meet in Melbourne to discuss matters in connexion with Western Australian and Queensland trade. The biggest sellers in those two States are H. Jones and Company Limited, of Hobart. My experience of this association is that we have no chance whatever; it is controlled by the Combine. They -met us as honorable men, and we fixed up arrangements ; but they always had some men they could not control, who were always breaking those arrangements. All through the year we were complaining, but we could get no satisfaction. When this Melbourne company was formed, we decided to have nothing to do with the association whatever. We wanted a free hand, so that if the Combine got up to their funny business we would not have to go to the trouble of withdrawing from the association; we would meet the competition.
To-day the combine are trying to penalize Taylor Brothers, because that man was honest enough to tell the truth. He said that the combine not only fix the price for Queensland, but pay a retaining fee of £100 to a man in that State, whose duty it is to see that jam is not sold below the specified price. Speaking on that subject, Mr. Taylor gave this information - I 12150. By Mr. Rouget - These all refer only to Queensland? - Yes. Then the next note I have is that the Rosella representative, Mr. Andrews, moved, and it was seconded by Mr. Palfreyman, that any merchant persistently breaking the arrangement be dealt with. 12160. By the Chairman. - What does that mean? - That if they persisted they would not get supplies. It was Mr. Burnard’s business to see that they did not break the arrange ment, and if they persisted he was to report to the manufacturers, who would not supply them. Mr. Henry Jones, in his Hobart factory, put up 28 OZS. until last year, and the Sydney factory put up 28 OZS., but now they put up only 27 OZS. The public has not noticed the weight, and in Victoria they have been putting up 27 ozs. for some time. The Hobart and Sydney factories have been following, and they want us to follow in the same way.
That is to say, Mr. Burnard went to Queensland, and made an arrangement with the merchants that jam was to be sold at a certain rate, and if sold at below that rate, he was not to supply them. That position of affairs in a free country, especially when it applies to about onehalf of our business undertakings, is one which the people cannot be expected to tolerate much longer.
I could deal fully with the questions of timber and bricks if I had the time. In Tasmania, the timber industry is suffering greatly from the operations of the Timber Combine. As time is passing,- 1 will proceed to deal with a few more of Senator Bakhap’s statements before I conclude. He criticised Government enterprise. We say that the cure in many instances would be Government enterprise, and that it would be more’ effective than a fixation of prices. The honorable senator says that not one of the Government enterprises has been a success, and challenges us to show any enterprises which have been justified, and he particularly mentioned the Defence Department.
– Have a talk with Senator Stewart. He could tell you something that he knows.
– That is one of the wild, whirling statements which the honorable senator is prone to make. The factories established by the Defence Department have been an unqualified success. I refer to the Cordite Factory, the Small Arms Factory-
– Ah !
– Although there were difficulties, to some extent the Small Arms Factory has been a great success; in fact, I would shudder for the position of Australia if it was not in existence at this juncture. Again, the Harness Factory and the Woollen Factory have each turned out articles at less than the cost previously paid to contractors. Not only that, but they have supplied a better article to the Commonwealth. Senator Bakhap was particu- larly keen on mentioning tobacco. He found fault with French tobacco and French matches. Well, I have in my
Socket some matches made by Bryant and [ay. They are supposed to be of the best quality, but I would not mind challenging any honorable senator to strike one of these matches.
– We found out how to strike them down at the factory to-day.
– These are the matches made by private enterprise, and usually the only way that I can light one is by going to the fire and sticking it in. That way usually proves efficacious.
I do not like to hear the position of tobacco and matches misrepresented, so far as France is concerned. That has been too common a practice on the part of our honorable friends opposite. They have stumped Tasmania and Australia, and have led the people throughout the length and breadth of this country to believe that French tobacco and matches are no good. That is absolutely a libel on the French State industry.
– I only incidentally referred to their tobacco and matches. I referred to their interdict on a substitute for matches.
– That has nothing to do with the case. The fact of the matter is that they are making better and cheaper tobacco in France than we can obtain in Australia. I have proved this by a sample which was brought out by a relative of mine from the Old Country.
– Senator Bakhap’s main argument was that whatever the State undertook was a failure, and he cannot prove that.
– Senator Bakhap knows perfectly well that the French authorities make seven or eight different grades, of tobacco. They do the same as the companies here; they put up a cheap tobacco like the 6d. Lubra, and if the poorer people want cheap tobacco like that, they can obtain it. But they also put up better qualities, and they put them up cheaper than we do in Australia. Does the honorable senator know that the average price of tobacco in France is 4s. ltd. per lb., as compared with 6s. 8£d. in Australia? That is to say, in Aus tralia we pay 2s. 7d. per lb. more than the people in France do for their tobacco. But that is not all. The Tobacco Combine here is making millions out of the people. That is successful business.
– Yes, hit it on the head if it makes a million. That is your philosophy.
– The French Government twenty years ago hit it on the head by establishing a national monopoly. And what is the position ? In France today they are making between £13,000,000 and £14,000,000 annually out of tobacco.
– And they send a widow to gaol for selling matches.
– That does not alter the fact I have stated. Italy, prior to the war, was making £9,000,000 out of tobacco, and Austria £12,000,000. I am reminded that Japan has also nationalized this business. It was one of the best things that Japan ever did, for it enabled ‘that country to prosecute the war with Russia more successfully than would have been the case otherwise. During (.’he war with Russia Japan was able to draw on her finances to insure, to a very great extent, the successful conclusion of that conflict. She floated ordinary loans, and finally, after she got up to her limit she raised a loan of £60,000,000 on the security of her nationalized tobacco industry. That will show how profitable the industry is to a country like Japan; and yet, if we talk about nationalizing the tobacco industry by means of these additional powers, which we hope the people will give to the National Parliament, we are told that it cannot be done, and -that French tobacco, which is quoted aB an illustration, is the worst in the world. The quality of tEe tobacco will be just as good as the people of Australia determine through their representatives that it shall be, and if they want a better grade, or a cheaper tobacco, all the demands will be legitimately and fully supplied. With the magnificent object lesson provided by Japan during the war with Russia, we can unhesitatingly say it would be good for Australia if, in prosecuting this war, we had our own tobacco industry from which we could draw profits to fight the Germans, instead of allowing those profits to go into the pockets of private companies.
Senator Bakhap also said that State Socialism was enervating. Of course, according to the honorable senator, it is not enervating if private enterprises fix and raise prices against the people. No;, it makes them feel better, and it’ gives them a manly pride in themselves when they walk down the street ! We all must delight, I suppose, at the thought that the sugar company is taxing us, that the tobacco industry is doing the same, and that the many other monopolies existing in our midst are all getting their little bit. According to Senator Bakhap, it would fill us with anxiety and dread, it would strain our intellects, and it would upset our mental equilibrium, if we were to make many of these articles in our own factories. Pursuing’ that line of reasoning further, we are told that it would be dangerous and damaging to the Constitution, and altogether deplorable, so far as the Democracy of Australia is concerned, to nationalize these industries. What an argument ! Let the honorable senator ask the people of Victoria if the State Coal Mine, which the Legislative Council prevented from selling coal to people, is enervating to their constitutions. Let me read the balance-sheet, which has been published in the Age. It is very brief -
Revenue to end of 30th June last, £212,219. Expenditure, made up of working expenses, £105,274: interest- on capital, £6,107; or a total of £171 ,’381; leaving a surplus of £40,918.
How enervating it must be to the people of Victoria to find that they have developed a new industry, established a new town , and made a profit of £40,000 !
– It must be remembered, too, that the object of the mine is not to make a profit; it is a utility.
– That is so. If the mine authorities had permission to sell this coal universally to the public, it could have built up a magnificent industry, but one of those institutions which my honorable friends opposite buttress - the Legislative Council - stands like a dead hand in the way to prevent this being done. My honorable friend from South Australia has reminded me of another successful enterprise, the Export Department of South Australia, which has developed the farmers’ industries, has handled £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 worth of farmers’ products, shipped them to England, and landed them in the overseas markets. Yet, according to Senator
Bakhap, all this must be enervating’ to the farmers !
– The State Government have now opened two butchers’ shops.
– That is so. We all admire the State of South Australia for what it has done, and lately two butchers’ shops have been opened there to supply the public with cheap meat. Not so long ago I was sitting next to Sir Richard Butler, the then Leader of the Opposition, at a function at Adelaide.
– You were in bad company.
– I admit that 1 was, politically; but the ordinary courtesies of social etiquette compelled me to sit next to Sir Richard Butler, -and, whatever his politics may be, I found him charming company. I said to him, “As a Socialist, Sir Richard, I have noticed that you stated, as reported in Hansard some years ago, that the Socialistic Export Department of South Australia has added £1 per acre to the value of the land in the State. That seems a pretty tall statement. Do you still think that?” Sir Richard, in his reply, said, “ I think it will be even more.” And yet an institution that has added “£1 to the value of every acre in South Australia is supposed to be an enervating thing !
– Do not forget that the Export Department was carried on by the Government for many years at a loss. It could not have been established by private enterprise.
– That is so; it had to win its way, and to build up its business. As a student, I have found the greatest pleasure in reading the history of that Department, and when we get sufficient Labour Governments in Australia we shall establish State Export Departments in every State, together with the necessary corollary, Commonwealth steamers to London, and we shall not stop there. We shall then establish a market for the distribution of the Commonwealth produce in London. When we have those Socialistic services in operation, we shall do more for the producer in five or ten years than the great Liberal party - of which Senator Bakhap is one of the remnants in this Chamber - have done during the last fifty years.
I would like to say something of Daceyville, of the cheap houses there, the model buildings, the fair rents, and the admirable conditions under which the people live. But honorable senators who have been there know all about these. I would like, also, to speak of the Newport Workshops in Victoria, and of the magnificent work there turned out. I went over the Cordite Factory - more State Socialism - the other day, saw for myself what it has been able to do in this great war; and I realized what a difference it would have made if we had not had the Factory at work. We must remember, also, that the establishment of that Factory was due to the forethought of Labour legislators.
I want to refer finally to one institution, established by the Labour party, which above all others will be of incalculable benefit to this country: I refer to the Commonwealth Bank - more Socialism, of course. If that Bank had not been in operation to-day, we would not have been in our present satisfactory financial position. I may remind the honorable senators also that that Bank started with no capital, but had £20,000 advanced by the Treasurer of Australia as till money. On the first six months’ operations there- was a loss of £45.000, and that fact was at once seized upon by honorable senators opposite to misrepresent the position. The loss was occasioned by inaugural expenses ; but we find to-day that that loss has been wiped out, that the Bank is entirely selfsupporting, and that it has not cost the people of the Commonwealth anything. This Bank will enable us, in the great financial undertaking close at hand, to socialize our finances and arrange to carry on the business of the country in an expeditious and economical manner. It will also take charge of the great loan which the Prime Minister has indicated will be issued shortly; and, if necessary, it will be able to come to the support of the private banks, backed up by the legislation of this Parliament.
I want to say, in conclusion, that these referenda proposals are necessary now; that we, as a Labour party, have definitely come into this Parliament pledged to submit them to the people. We said that we could not’ control the conditions of Australia without these national powers, and we would deserve to be hounded out of office, and be relegated to that oblivion which politicians dread - the cold shades of Opposition - if we did not give effect to our pledges. We made that promise when the war broke out, and if the party failed to keep it, many of us would want to reconsider our attitude towards the party. We should think seriously whether we would remain in it if it broke its promise to the people, who heard us on public platforms say it was our duty to take the ‘referenda, organize our conditions, and socialize our resources. If we did not go on with these proposals, those who listened to that statement, including even many of our opponents, would ask us, “ Why do you not take the referenda?” We do not know’ what is ahead of us in Australia. We are living in strange times, and stirring episodes are ahead. This great conflict may lead us into many strange avenues; but we know that if we can uphold our position as a nation and combat the German hordes until we can organize the resources of the Empire to drive them back - if we can only mark time until that organization is complete - we must succeed, and the powers for which we are now asking will help us to achieve that purpose. If we fail to organize our resources, I cannot see how we can combat our enemies. It may be that conditions will be worse in six months. I sincerely hope they will not. ‘I am rather an optimist, and believe they will be better. I believe in the resources of the Empire, and that the conditions will be just as propitious for taking the vote then as now. Anyhow, the Government are not answerable for the future; they are answerable for the present, and they must conform to the will of the people.
Senator Bakhap talked of the lessons of history. My reading of history has made it plain to me that whenever a nation has become decadent the decadence has been preceded by the aggregation of wealth in the hands of a few. The honorable senator talked of the French Revolution, and the fixation of prices in that country at the time. Every historian tells us that the great nations went down directly its wealth came under the control of a few men. According to the historians, Carthage, .Greece, Rome, and even Babylon fell when a few people held the whole country within their grip.
– Why did not the French keep on fixing prices after two years’ experience of -the system t
– The French revolutionaries were inspired by great ideals.
Their only fault was that they were ahead of the people, and in some instances were not controlled as they should have been. If their ideals had been carried out, the nation would have been better and greater. The trouble was that they failed to establish their ideals. In some cases unworthy men, with ignoble instruments, murdered the ideals of the representatives of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The French nation was on the right track, and their ideals were right, but their methods were, perhaps, bad. So we in this young country, building up slowly and surely towards our ideals with the aid of the powers we are now seeking, can, I am convinced, make the Commonwealth a better place to live in, and take, at any rate, the first step, with their aid, to make our industries and the Commonwealth self-contained, self-supporting, and self-controlled.
.- A petition was presented to the Senate this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of certain electors of this State, praying that the Constitution Alteration Bills be not submitted to the people for discussion or decision during the currency oi the war. Without having had the time or the. opportunity to peruse carefully the signatures attached to the petition, I venture to assert that the majority of the petitioners have in peace as well as war been opposed to the submission of these proposals to the people, and that when the Bills were before the electors on former occasions 95 per cent, of those whose names are attached to the petition unhesitatingly cast their votes against them. Whether in peace or war, these people are opposed to the principles embodied in the Bills. The Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber, in his speech this afternoon, took as his text against the Government and the Labour party, as a strong party man - and he can never be anything else - in order that he might, in his own particular and peculiar way, strengthen his party and weaken ours, the three words, “ Business as usual,” from Senator Gardiner’s speech. But he signally failed, because he resorted, I do not think intentionally, to a method that cannot at any time be commended. If one takes three words from any sentence - from one of Senator Millen’s, for instance - he can build up a hypothetical case, and lash himself into a fury, making himself imagine, if he keeps at it long enough, that he has a good case against his opponents. The Leader of the Opposition said this was not a time for either pessimism or optimism. That sort of statement is neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring. A man must be either a- pessimist or an optimist in this crisis. We have no time at this critical period of our, and the Empire’s, history for pessimists in Australia, or in this National Assembly. The VicePresident of the Executive Council said in effect: We are intrusted with grave and serious national responsibilities, and we shall preach optimism. This is the time to preach it. We shall tell the people of Australia that our national business is being carried on as usual. The shutters will not be put up at our huge Customs Department, from which, year by year, large revenues are derived. The Minister of Customs will be there morning, noon, and night, if necessary, to attend to his duties. The Postal Department will be intrusted to a responsible Minister, so that our postal, telephone, and telegraph services may be utilized as freely and extensively in war time as in peace. The business of the Defence Department, upon which, above all others, the eyes of Australia, and even of the Empire, are focussed, will be carried on as usual. It will be carried on as it always has been carried on when the Labour party have been in power - that is, in a business-like way. Never in the history of Australia have such business-like methods been employed in the administration of our affairs as have been employed since the Labour Government took office during the currency of the war. Would the party opposite stop all .our national undertakings during the war? Would they stop the construction of the trans-Australian railway, on which so many men are employed ? Would they stop the work at Flinders Naval Base ? Would they stop the works at the Federal Capital ? The Government say, “Notwithstanding the war which is engaging our most serious attention, the business in all our Departments is being carried on as usual.” Because the Government have for a long time taken that optimistic view, the Leader of the Opposition to-day smites the Vice-President of the Executive Council hip and thigh for having the manliness and courage to proclaim to the people that the Labour party are not pessimists:that we shall see the war through no matter what the cost may be, and that during its currency all the Departments of the Commonwealth will be carried on as usual. The honorable senator’s speech was made absolutely for party purposes. No one knows better than he that, in the various States, the big commercial institutions urged the people to take a hopeful and cheery view of the situation. As a result, numbers of business men displayed in their windows, to influence those citizens who might be disposed to take a pessimistic view, placards which read “Business carried on as usual.” This was done in order that private employers might be stimulated to take a hopeful view of the situation, instead ofbeing disposed to “sack” their men and look gloomy. It was felt that it was far better to look on the sunny side of the question in the hope that, in the process of time - and we trust the time will be short - the struggle in which we are engaged would come to a successful termination for the Empire and its Allies. I listened the other evening to a speech by Senator Bakhap. He is always, more or less, entertaining. Like the boy in the lolly shop, who stays there for a very long time, the honorable senator, when he takes a subject in hand, hangs a long time on his theme, but since I have been in public life I never heard a more illogical speech, a more parochial speech, a more reactionary speech, or one less Australian than that delivered by the honorable senator. The State of Tasmania, which the honorable senator represents, has for long years been anything but progressive. It has been one of the most backward of the States, and I do not wonder at it, because, for many years, such men as Senator Bakhap had possession of the reins of Government there. Only recently was there a ray of sunshine in that State, and that came with the advent of the Labour Government. We have heard honorable members of his party say in this Parliament, and from numerous platforms, that our Federal Constitution is not what the people thought it was when they adopted it, and that it requires amendment Senator Bakhap says that there will be no amendment of it so far as he is concerned. He affirms that we have enough to deal with. He says that we have three huge Departments under our control, namely, Customs, Defence, and Post Office. These represent the beginning and the end of our Federal Constitution from his standpoint. Senator Bakhap says that, to a reasonable extent, he is a Protectionist. He urges that Protection is a good thing for the cities and large centres of population. But he affirms that it is a bad thing for places in which the population is not large, and where settlement is sparse. In other words, he is a town Protectionist and a country Free Trader, a Mr. Facing-both-ways so far asfiscalism is concerned. But surely the Parliament which is empowered to extend Protection to our manufacturers should also be empowered to extend it to our workmen and consumers. Senator Bakhap says that it ought not to have any such powers. Then he announced his opposition to these Bills on the ground that under them it is intended to fix the prices of farmers’ commodities. Nobody knows better than he does that it is not intended to do anything of the kind. Where competition exists there is no intention to interfere with prices, and competition does exist in regard to all the primary products of Australia.
– Why did the New South Wales Government fix the price of wheat?
– What has that circumstance to do with this Bill?
– I understand that we are at liberty to discuss the whole of these Constitution Alteration Bills upon this measure. It is not intended to fix the price of the primary products because competition prevails in respect of them. But where competition is eliminated, and prices are fixed by monopolistic institutions to the detriment of the people, these Bills will empower the Government to deal with such institutions. Why, asks Senator Millen, did the New South Wales Government fix the price of a certain commodity? Because these are war times, and because they felt it was their duty to safeguard the interests of the citizens of that State. Whilst I believed, when I voted for Federation, that we would have Inter-State Free Trade, and whilst I was of opinion that the action of the New South Wales Government was an unconstitutional one, I recognise that the High Court has declared otherwise. The New South Wales Government affirmed that it had the power to commandeer the wheat supplies of that State, and, having seized them, it fixed the price of that commodity at a higher figure than the farmer had been accustomed to re’ceive for his wheat.
– At the highest price for twenty-five years.
– At the highest price for twenty-five years. Is there any honorable senator opposite who will have the temerity to- condemn the action of the New South Wales Government in commandeering the wheat supplies of that State for the protection of its citizens?
– Here is one. Was such action Federal? Where is the honorable0 senator’s Federalism?
– I am not dealing with Federalism, for the moment. If we pass these Bills, and they are ratified by the people, a repetition of such a condition of things will not be possible.
– It will be.
– Will the adoption of these Bills interfere with the decision of the High. Court ?
– The High Court has declared the New South Wales Government had the power to seize the wheat supplies of that State. Now, Senators Turley and Bakhap inquire, “ Will the passing of these Bills alter that condition of things?” I go so far’ as to say that I dor not think any alteration of our Constitution will deprive the States of sovereign powers-; but I do say that the passing of these Bills will confer upon the Commonwealth Parliament a power concurrent with that possessed by New South Wales, and with concurrent power we will have supreme^ power.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould-. - Suppose New South Wales commandeers the wheat first?.
– The honorable senator might be able to go on building up hypothetical cases till the crack o.f doom ; but I intend to deal only with concrete cases. When we entered into Federation, everybody thought that the States were entering into a partnership one with the other. Does anybody mean to tell me that the peopl’e were then of opinion that Queensland, which produces nearly the whole of the sugar supply of Australia, could at any time say to the citizens of the other States, ‘ ‘ Although we entered into Federation with you, we are not going to give you any sugar”? Did anybody anticipate that New South Wales would be able to say to the people of the other States, “ We are not going to give you any wheat. Although you may be starv ing, you may whistle for your sugar and your wheat “ ? What sort of a partnership would that be?
– Hear, hear ! The honorable senator is right enough.
– Then I am right in supporting these Bills, because they will put a stop to that sort of thing. Senator Bakhap. - They are no good as they stand.
– Then bring forward an amendment.
– Senator Bakhap has- declared that whatever the Government undertakes proves a ghastly failure as compared with the efforts of private enterprise. He is a warm advocate of private enterprise. He said that, although the Defence Department is a huge one, when the facts are made known in regard to certain activities undertaken by it, the citizens of Australia will get an intellectual shower bath.
– Quite so.
– That is a very nice-sounding phrase. ‘ But is it not indisputable that, since the establishment of these Government factories, better goods have been turned out than were supplied under the contract system?
– It is not.
– Is it not a fact that the industrial conditions in all these factories are better than they are in any private enterprise establishment, and that the good’s produced are of the highest quality ?
– The honorable senator has for his answer- that it is a mo&t difficult question to discuss at this juncture. It is difficult for me to reply to him.
– If it had not been for the establishment of these factories, I venture to say that our difficulties, whatever they may be in respect of this war, would be multiplied tenfold. Then the honorable senator said that the railways of Victoria were being run at a loss. Is it not a fact that many of our Post and Telegraph services are being conducted at a loss ? If it is to be laid down that no railways should be built unless they are paying propositions, the honorable senator will, when he has an opportunity, vote for the elimination of moneys on the Estimates for providing telephonic and mail services in distant parts of the States - services which will never be payable-.
– That does not follow at all.
– I heard him trot out the hackneyed argument about the Tobacco and Match Monopoly in France. One grows sick and tired of hearing of it. I was a member of a Committee which was appointed by the Senate some time ago to inquire into the operation of an alleged combine - the ‘Tobacco Monopoly in Australia. There is no doubt that it is a monopoly. Whilst we were taking evidence, the same statement was made in regard to the Tobacco and Match Monopoly in France. But the people cannot be continually hoodwinked. The truth is that the citizens of France get exactly the kind of tobacco which is palatable to them. They get the article that they want.
– It is the only tobacco that they can get.
– They get it in varying qualities. If a Frenchman was asked to give his opinion on tobacco manufactured in Australia, he would say that the tobacco manufactured in France under Government supervision was superior in quality to that which is manufactured ‘ here. The matter depends on the palate of the people.
– My argument was that a Government which would prohibit the introduction of substitutes for matches would discourage invention.
- Senator Bakhap’s idea is violent opposition to enterprise by the States, though better examples of municipal Socialism than those in his own State of Tasmania cannot be found anywhere. The people are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to alter the Federal Constitution. Different members of the party to which honorable senators opposite belong have admitted that it needs alteration. Years have passed since it was framed and adopted by the people, and in the whirligig of time, which changes every sphere of human activity, remarkable changes have taken place. At that time people were of the opinion that many of the powers then and now possessed by the States would be taken away from them, and that the Commonwealth Parliament would have supreme power in regard to a large number of matters’ affecting the welfare of the citizens of Australia. But they have been sadly disappointed. The Vice-President of the Executive Council has in his possession a list of legal decisions which shows that the very persons who took a hand in the framing of our Constitution, being of the opinion that <the ‘Commonwealth possessed certain powers, introduced measures in this Parliament which, when they were tested in the High Court, were declared ultra vires, the High Court having no hesitation in giving judgment against the opinions of those who, after having played a part in drawing up the Constitution, were responsible for the introduction of these measures in the Federal Parliament.
– Much of that legislation was introduced on the principle of chancing it.
– I think that the list which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has should go into Hansard, and, as he has been good enough to hand it to me, I propose to read it -
– The defects and shortcomings of our Constitution in respect to matters to which this table primarily refers will be remedied if the Constitution is altered in the direction we desire.
– Then the purpose of the amendment is to permit the Commonwealth to interfere with State instrumentalities?
– I was hopeful of being allowed to read this table without any sandwiching but in reply to whether the Commonwealth should interfere with State instrumentalities, I say - yes; if the State instrumentality interferes with the Commonwealth the latter is perfectly entitled to interfere. Our mails, which mean so much to every citizen, particularly to the commercial community, are carried from State to State. Would Senator Millen say that if a railway strike in any particular State should render it impossible to carry these mails, the Commonwealth should not have the power to settle the dispute in order that the carriage of mails should not be jeopardized, or industry perhaps paralyzed ? At the time of the coal strike in Newcastle nearly every newspaper in Victoria said that it
was regrettable that the Commonwealth Parliament did not have the power to bring that strike to a close. Why? Because it threatened to paralyze the wheels of industry, not merely in New South Wales, but in every State of Australia, Newcastle being the base of the supply of coal. Senator Millen says that though a strike may hold up the railways of New South Wales, and perhaps inconvenience that State, the Commonwealth should not have the power, on behalf of the five other States, to intervene and interfere with that State’s instrumentality. I do not agree with him. It is because I am in favour of the Commonwealth having supreme power over the States in regard to such matters that I want to see these Bills go through, and the people voting “ Yes “ upon them.
– I have just spoken of a strike that did not extend beyond the boundaries of a State. There was also a railway strike in this State that did not go beyond the boundaries of a State which also affected the carrying of mails. Let me continue this table -
If my memory serves me rightly, the Act just mentioned was intended to do justice to seamen in all parts of Australia.’ If a seaman in the course of following his usual employment was injured, the Act gave him the opportunity of securing compensation from his employers, but I believe that a case was tested, and it was held that, if a man working for an Inter-State shipping company, and employed on a ship trading from State to State, happened to be injured in any one State, although the ship at the time might be but a few yards from the boundary of another State, it was impossible for him under the Act to get the justice to which he was entitled. Is that a fair thing, when, as Senator McDougall interjects, the man might be crippled for life? If the accident had happened a few minutes later, and a few yards farther on, the Act would have been valid, and he would have been entitled to full compensation. Itis to remedy that, and many other things, that these measures are introduced. The return continues -
I have read the particulars of those cases in order that they may appear in Hansard, and give its readers an idea as to how limited the Constitution is in respect to the powers vested in this Parliament. When the framers of the Constitution played their part in drafting its provisions, they were of the opinion that the Commonwealth would have the powers which the High Court said we do not possess. Some members of the High Court were members of the Convention; some members of the High Court were members of this Parliament, and some members of the High Court were responsible for the introduction of some of those measures into Parliament. The time has arrived - it arrived long ago - for the Commonwealth Parliament to be clothed with such” powers as will adequately protect, not the citizens of any one State, but the citizens of all the States in the Commonwealth. If the people are given an opportunity, as they will be - because these Bills are certain to go through - they will be able to say “Yes” or “ No.” My opinion is that an immense majority will say “ Yes,” and it is because our opponents fear that result that they are resorting to every device known to them to oppose these measures. Petitions are part of the game. Petitions here, petitions there-, petitions everywhere ! -From whom, and for what purpose? To prevent the referenda proposals from go ing to the people, because, our opponents say, this is war time. But did they not do all in their power to block the proposals in peace time? Have they not opposed the measures whether the time has been peaceful or warlike? It is because we have always been in favour of the proposals, both in peace time and war time, and because we believe that they are absolutely necessary in the interests of this Parliament and the people of Australia, that we hope that they will be carried on this occasion by majorities in at least a majority of the States of the Commonwealth.
– I listened this afternoon to the Leader of the . Opposition here delivering one of those characteristic speeches which we expect to hear from every platform when an opponent of these proposals addresses the electors. I think that the honorable senator was very unfortunate as regards the manner in which he set out to furnish reasons why the proposals should not be put before the people at present. He drew a picture of our troops fighting at the front; he drew a picture of the hills of Gallipoli dripping with Australian blood, and the inference was clearly to be drawn that he doubted very much whether the members of the Labour party were concerned over that blood-dripping or not; that we cared more for the carrying of these proposals than we did for the lives of our sons who have been and are being sacrificed in defence of the Empire.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is quite fair. I do not believe that my leader wanted to convey any such inference.
– I am placing my own interpretation on the words of Senator Millen.
– I think it is a very unfair inference for the honorable senator to draw.
– No honorable senator who heard Senator Millen speak has any doubt as to what his meaning was. More than that. I believe that from every platform for the next three or four months we shall hear the same kind of talk against the purpose of the Labour party in placing the referenda proposals before the people.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– “ Business as usual,” said the Leader of the Opposition. That was the text upon which he made an indictment against the Government for going on with these referenda proposals at the present time; but if that is to be the text of his party during the forthcoming struggle - it is quite evident that they are going to make it a struggle - I feel confident that members on this side of the chamber, and those who think as we do, will have no difficulty in replying effectively to that criticism. We find that, notwithstanding the war that is being waged in Europe, business is going on as usual in every department of life in this and every other country. We have heard reported this afternoon innumerable instances where business is not only going on as usual, but robbery, and robbery of the very worst kind, is going on.
– They do not like you to use that term.
– That is the only term that can be applied to it. It is robbery, legalized robbery, made possible under the laws of our country; but it is a system of robbery which these amendments are calculated to stop, if anything at all can do that effectively.
– The Opposition have evidently gone on strike. They are not in the chamber.
– I could have called for a quorum just now if I had wanted to.
– The Leader of the Opposition knows that these referenda proposals are not new questions. They have not been sprung upon the people suddenly. We have heard of them before.
– And we got our instructions last September to go ahead with them.
– I will deal with that point a little later. I observe that the remark has fallen from certain members of the Opposition that these referenda questions have been put to the people already on two occasions. The Opposition have fought them with all their skill and all their ability and all their wealth every time they have been placed before the people, and I have no doubt, judging by the indications we have already had, that on the next occasion they will be fought even more strenuously and with a greater amount of vindictiveness. Notwithstanding the existence of the war there will be a more lavish, expenditure of money in fighting them than ever there was before. In 1911, when these proposals were put to the people, they were rejected by a considerable majority. In 1913, when they were again submitted, they were once more rejected, but by a very much diminished majority. In 1911 19 per cent of the aggregate votes was cast against the Constitution Alteration (Monopolies) Bill, which was the most important of all the proposals. But in 1913, with a very much larger vote, the majority against that Bill had decreased to 1.2 per cent, of the votes cast, showing very clearly that the people had begun to realize the necessity for some amendment of the Constitution in order to secure relief from the burdens under which they were labouring. I have no doubt that at the forthcoming referenda the majority against these proposals will not only disappear, but that there will be a large majority in favour of them. Why do I say that? I say it for the reason that “business” in the meantime has been going on as usual, and the cost of living . has been increasing. Everything that the people can purchase, and that can possibly be cornered by interested persons, is being cornered, with the result that prices are rising in consequence. For that reason I have no doubt that when the questions are submitted to the people again this question of the cost of living will become very prominent right throughout the country, and the people will seek relief by giving to the Commonwealth power to apply a remedy. On the last occasion there were over 170,000 informal votes, equal to seven times the number of electors necessary . to carry the Bill relating to monopolies.
– And more than the number of men that are at the front.
– Yes, infinitely more, but we are confident that, on the next occasion, the questions will be placed before the people in such a way that there will be less risk of informal votes, because the electors will thoroughly understand them. We have heard from certain honorable senators who have spoken, that the States should each be sovereign within its own boundaries. If they are sovereign in their own spheres of legislative activity, why, in the name of common sense, should the Commonwealth not be sovereign within its sphere? The State Parliaments can pass such laws as they deem desirable. But what is the position of the Commonwealth? We can pass whatever legislation we please here, but that legislation has to run the gauntlet of the High Court, and is subject to review on any appeal.
– That Court exists as the interpreter of the Constitution, and if we transgress our powers, it brings Us up with a round turn.
– Of course it does. On every occasion when we attempt to relieve the people from the operations of these legalized robbers, the persons interested bring into operation the machinery of the High Court, with the result that we are told that, under our Constitution, we have no power to pass such laws.
– Does not the honorable senator see that so long as we have a federalized system we must have a High Court to act as interpreter of the Constitution ?
– I quite agree that, under the present Constitution, this is absolutely necessary. But I want the honorable senator to tell me why the Federal Parliament should be under any disability compared with the various States.
– Because it legislates sometimes on matters that do not come within its ambit, according to the compact.
– If it legislates in any direction approved by the honorable senator, then it is all light
– It should only legislate in a Federal direction.
– We are not going to take our stand on what the honorable senator thinks.
– I do not expect you to. You have no true respect for trie principles of Federalism.
– The honorable member is making quite a mistake in that matter. I have every respect for the Federal Constitution, but I am aware that it is defective, and I am also aware than the legal members of the honorable senator’s own party have time and again pointed out its shortcomings. I have so much respect for the Constitution that I am most anxious to remove the anomalies that exist, and make it workable as it was supposed to be by the framers, many of whom subsequently came into this Chamber and attempted to pass legislation under a Constitution which was their own handiwork, only to find that the High Court blocked them. We are bound to admit, therefore, that the work which they thought was perfect is imperfect and inadequate. We had a right to impose a Federal land tax, and recently we passed an amendment to impose a tax upon leaseholds, with the result that interested parties came along, and put the machinery of the High Court into motion. That Court decided that the Federal Parliament had the power to impose taxation upon leaseholds, but we now find that the appellants are taking the question to the Privy Council. If the Privy Council upholds the decision of the High Court in Australia, well and good ; but if the Privy Council decides that the Commonwealth does not possess this power, there, will be another proof that the Constitution is unworkable.
– Do not let us anticipate that.
– I am not anticipating it. I am only pointing out that if the Privy Council decides against the Commonwealth the Federal Government, notwithstanding their requirements in the matter of revenue, will have this source of income cut off, because of an imperfection in our Constitution.
– There are other methods by which the Government can get hold of that income if they want it.
– That is quite possible. But in all good faith, and believing that the Constitution allowed it, this Parliament agreed to certain legislation. An attempt is now being made to upset it, and defeat the will of the people in regard to the taxation of leaseholds. Senator Bakhap . recently went into hysterics in this chamber because South Australia refused to supply Tasmania with some wheat.
– It was a very serious matter.
– I agree, and am anxious to remedy these things by establishing the principle of Inter-State Free Trade. The honorable senator is not in favour of that principle.
– Is he not? We shall see presently.
– The honorable senator may say what he pleases, but he is distinctly opposed to the principle of Inter- State Free Trade. If he were to vote as he speaks he would vote in support of at least some of these proposals. The honorable senator speaks here in one direction and votes in another - a thing which no honorable, senator on this side does. The intention of the Constitution was that trad© should be perfectly free between the States. Now that it is found that that is- not the case we are anxious to that extent to remedy matters, but the honorable senator is not:
– These proposals will not remedy that serious breach in Federal principles.
– The honorable senator- like myself, is speaking as a layman.
– Fortified with the opinions of five or six of the best barristers in Australia.
– I will give the honorable senator other legal opinions which fortify my case. The most distinguished legal members of the Federal Parliament are of the opinion that an amendment of the Constitution is necessary in order to remedy the present state of affairs. Both Sir William Irvine and Mr. Glynn, two of the most distinguished barristers in the Parliament, admit that some alteration of the Constitution is necessary. Sir William Irvine goes much further than Mr. Glynn in some respects, but says he will not advocate these amendments of the Constitution so long as the Labour party are in power.
– I do not think I am wrong in saying that both those gentlemen say that these proposals will not touch byone jot the unfederal action of South Australia and New South Wales in regard to wheat.
– Neither Sir William Irvine nor Mr. Glynn says anything of the kind. Both admit the necessity, and Sir William Irvine said he was prepared some time ago to suggest certain alterations of the Constitution himself. Senator Bakhap, in spite of his disappointment, and in face of his angry denunciation of South Australia for preventing wheat from going to Tasmania, is still not prepared to effectively remove the obstacle.
– That is precisely what he is prepared to do.
– If the honorable senator is prepared to do that he> is speaking on one side and voting on the other. The same’ anomaly is clearly shown in industrial matters. In order to get a case before the Federal Arbitration Court we have to create a dispute - as happened with the Brisbane tramway strike and in many other instances - extending beyond the limits of one State.. That is surely a ridiculous position. There should be no need to extend a dispute in order to bring about its peaceful settlement in the Arbitration Court. TheCourt should have power to settle industrial disputes without waiting for the wheels of industry to be stopped. Those who are opposing our amendment of the constitutional provisions regarding industrial disputes are clearly in favour of continuing the pernicious system of the strike. That must be true of all who are not in favour of amending the Constitution so that the industrial laws of the Commonwealth may be operativein a reasonable and sensible way. The High Court limits the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth, but does not interfere with the State laws. Those who are opposing these amendments are therefore anxious that the High Court, and not the Commonwealth Parliament, should continue to govern Australia. We have in the Commonwealth practically one race, of one colour and one tongue; yet its affairs have to be governed by six separate State Parliaments. The framers of the Constitution, and the electors who agreed to it as originally submitted to them, have been disappointed. They were satisfied that it provided for just what it said, and that the difficult question of monopolies, trusts, and combines, and other troubles that were beginning to grow up in the States, would be dealt with by the Federal authority. The shortcomings of the Constitution are coming home to the people from day to day with greater force than they ever did before. Senator Ready told us this afternoon of some of the operations of trusts and combines that are well known to every honorable senator.
-An oft-repeated tale, whether fiction or otherwise.
– The honorable senator knows there is no fiction about it.
– There is a good deal of fiction.
– And a good deal more of truth. There is a great deal more truth in the assertion that these trusts, combines, and monopolies exist than in the statement that the carrying of the referenda proposals will rob the States of all their rights. _
– “We should not have so much opposition if there were no trusts and combines.
– But for the fear that the trusts will be “ hit up “ by these amendments, we should not have the same opposition from honorable senators opposite as we have had on this occasion and on every other occasion when they have been put before Parliament. Many monopolies exist in the open light of day, and make no apology for their existence ; nor do they try to conceal their operations. There are other monopolies carried on practically without any visible organization. These are known as “honorable understandings,” by which a number of men combine together by mutual agreement and corner the requirements of the people. They keep no books or minutes, and pay no secretary, simply giving the gentleman who acts in that capacity a.n honorarium. We found that that existed in South Australia in connexion with wheat. I happened to be a member of the Wheat Commission in that State. We found, by the examination of certain members of the Combine, and of the gentleman who acted as secretary of the “ honorable understanding,” exactly the work they were doing. Every morning the price of wheat was fixed over the telephone, and no records were kept ; but we knew perfectly well that an “honorable understanding “ existed, and shortly after the Commission unearthed the fact the “honorable understanding “ fell, more or less, to pieces. I am satisfied that to-day the same system is flourishing as strongly as ever it did. We have heard a good deal about the Beef Trust - a worse combine than even the Wheat Combine in South Australia was. No one doubts its existence; yet at the time the referenda proposals were last before the people the idea of the existence of a Beef Trust in Australia was scouted by all our opponents.
– Mr. Justice Street inquired into the whole matter, as a Royal Commission. Have .you read his report?
– Mr. Justice Street came to certain conclusions.
– With which you do not agree.
– On the evidence.
– He came to those conclusions on the evidence submitted to him. Senator Gould knows that’ certain questions were asked and not answered, and certain information was denied. Mr. Justice Street could not possibly ascertain it, but there is no doubt in the mind of any man in Australia that a Beef Trust exists. There is no doubt in the minds of honorable senators opposite. We all know it is in operation. Some members of the Opposition are fair-minded enough to wish to see the operations of that Trust stopped, if possible, but they are not anxious to go so far as to vote for these proposals simply because they have been put forward by the Labour party. That fact is sufficient to condemn them in the eyes of our opponents, no matter how clearly we put them forward. Go to the northwest of Western Australia, to Northern Queensland, to the small butcher selling meat in any part of the Commonwealth, and ask whether there is a Beef Trust in Australia. The practical men, the men under the heel of the Trust, will tell you their difficulties in carrying on their business in the interest of the community, owing to the operations of the Trust. Only this morning a cable appeared in the newspapers in reference to an incident which occurred a couple of weeks ago. On that occasion, we learn that a British man-of-war took certain vessels, which were laden with meat, to a British port to be searched. Those vessels were unquestionably carrying beef to the enemy. It is quite possible that a considerable portion of that beef came from Australia, and I ask honorable senators opposite whether they are prepared to support any organization which will take the meat produced in Australia to feed the German troops? Is that fair? I think not. If there had been no suspicion of that character, would a British manofwar have taken those vessels to port to be searched? Certainly not. That warship had no doubt whatever that the ultimate destination of the beef was Germany. The value of £hose cargoes of meat was approximately £5,000,000. We know that the Chicago packers and the other people who are behind the Beef Trust exerted all their influence to secure the release of those cargoes, so that they might reach their destination. In the end, they arrived at an agreement, but the fact remains that they had made a bargain. They, had made a considerable amount of money out of the deal, and before a satisfactory arrangement was arrived at, the British Government had to accede to their terms. We in Australia believe that all the meat we export should go to Great Britain to feed our fellow countrymen, or our soldiers, who are fighting our battles in Europe. But the Beef Trust care very little as to the destination of the meat controlled by them, so long as their profits are secured to them. Some time ago the Commonwealth very wisely prohibited the export of beef to any country other than Great Britain or those of her Allies. What happened? We are told that the Trust immediately put their meat into cool stores, or refused -to kill it until their terms were complied with. In addition, the meat was supplied just when it suited them. All this is being done by private individuals who have formed themselves into an organization, caring not whether the people are fed or starved, so long as they put huge profits into their own pockets. Can honorable senators opposite justify their attitude in defending organizations of this description? They tell us that the time is inopportune for the passing of these Bills. Personally, I know of no better time. In view of the very bad season which we have experienced - a season in which our crops proved a comparative failure - and seeing that our meat supplies are short whilst the cost of living is increasing by leaps and bounds, it seems to me that there can be no better time to put them before the electors. It has been urged that we are forcing these Bills on an unwillingpeople. That i3 sheer nonsense. We merely give them the right to say whether they are prepared to live under existing conditions, or whether they desire to improve those conditions. In every policyspeech by the Prime Minister he hasmade the position perfectly clear. He has shown that it is our intention to put these questions to the people despite the wealth that is arrayed against us, and despite the influence of the press. It is nonsense to urge that we have brought them forward without due consideration. At the last elections we told thepeople that if the Labour party were returned to power we would give them an opportunity of voting upon these ques.tions at the earliest possible moment. We have been pledged . to these proposals ever since a Labour manifesto was issued; and becausethe Leader of the Opposition says that business is not being carried on as usual, are we to back down?’ That would be quite the usual course it our politics and policy were those of theLiberal party. But the Labour party have always respected their .pledges to theelectors. I have no desire to quote fromthe speeches which have been delivered, from time to time, not only by the Prime* Minister, but by the Attorney-General, and other leaders of the Labour movement. Those speeches all go to show that we were determined to put these questions to the people at the earliest opportunity. When speaking upon the subject of trusts, I overlooked one trust* which is well worthy of our attention - I refer to the Steel Trust. We had a bitter experience of its operations only a fewyears ago - an experience which proved a. very costly and inconvenient one to Aus- tralia. At the time of which I speak the Commonwealth Government were calling for tenders for steel rails in connexion with the construction of the transcontinental railway.
– We are making our own rails now.
– We are; and I venture to think that the party to which I belong is entitled to as much credit for the establishment of the steel rail industry as is any party in the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator’s party is always ready to take credit for anything that is good.
– We are a generous party. We look with a microscope for any good in the Opposition, and even then we look in vain. So far as the establishment of industries and the breaking down of monopolies are concerned the people of this country can give the honorable senator’s party no credit whatever.
– That is the fault of the honorable senator’s glasses.
– When I look for good amongst the honorable senator’s party, I wear different glasses. I would remind him that the Commonwealth Government were placed in a very awkward position by the Steel Trust when they required rails in connexion with the transcontinental line. The Age newspaper, which, for some reason or other, is now opposed to the submission of these Bills to the electors-
– It has also urged the laying aside of the Tariff,
– That journal, despite the fact that it supported the referenda proposals on a previous occasion, is now opposed to their submission to the people. But we must recollect that that publication, and, indeed, no metropolitan newspaper, has ever been a very strong advocate of Labour principles or ideals. The advertisements flow into them, and I have no doubt that they cater for the class of trade which pays them best. But this is what the Age said of the Steel Trust on the 28th October, 1911, at the time the Commonwealth Government were up against the operations of that trust -
Australia, through the trans-continental railway and the National Executive, has experienced within the past months the remorseless power of the international ring of iron masters known as the Steel Trust. After a dramatic and exciting struggle, the Executive has had to capitulate to the ring - for a time.
How long is that state of affairs to last ? Luckily the steel works recently established in Australia have relieved the situation to an extent, but we do not know how soon the Steel Trust may be in operation here, because money will buy all the steel works in Australia not owned by the Government, and the American Steel Trust has, or did have, enough money at its command to purchase all the steel works here. However, we agree with the Age that, for a time, the Federal Government had to capitulate, but the time has now arrived when we need nob capitulate any longer - by the carrying of the referenda proposals it will be impossible for the Steel Trust, or any other trust, to form an organization which will be detrimental to the Government of Australia. If for no other reason than that the Commonwealth is expanding, and railway requirements are likewise expanding, and will continue to grow for many years to come, a Government which would neglect the opportunity of placing the Commonwealth outside the power of any trust would not be doing its duty to the country or to the people. We have good grounds for congratulating ourselves when the Age, which is not a particular friend of the Labour party, takes the stand it did on that occasion : but we are sorry to see that, like most Liberal organizations, it is, as it were, closing its doors to the emancipation of the people . from the power of trusts and combines.
– Is there a bigger trust than the Newspaper Trust?
– I do not think that there is. Although they do not raise the price of the newspapers to any extent, we sometimes wonder whether the news that we get is worth the Id. that we have to pay.
– Any newspaper that is not in the ring has to pay extra for its cables.
– We know that these big newspapers are very careful in protecting their interests so far as cables are concerned, but when we find the Age commenting as it did on the Steel Trust we consider that we are on very solid ground in advocating the referenda proposals. On the last occasion on which they were submitted matters of this kind had .a considerable effect upon the people.
– On the. last occasion on which the referenda proposals were submitted the Labour party was also defeated.
– In some places for a few months there was a mental lapse on the part of the people, but the honorable senator knows what was the result at the next time of asking, so far as the- party was concerned.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I think that the party believes that there is a charm in the third time of asking.
– The people soon recovered from that mental lapse, and the Labour party was returned by an overwhelming majority, and, but for the action of the honorable senator and his party, the referenda proposals would also have been submitted on that occasion and been carried. A great error was committed in not submitting the referenda proposals at the last election, and the honorable senator and his party are responsible_ solely for whatever expenditure may bo incurred in submitting the proposals in December next. The Senate specially requested that the referenda proposals should be submitted to the people.
– And the GovernorGeneral, who refused that request, still remains in Australia.
– I do not intend to say anything about that matter now. . I have my opinion about it, and the time may come when it would be well worth expressing it, but I take the stand that honorable senators opposite took. They say that the responsibility in this matter should be placed on the Executive, and I place it on the Executive. Senator Millen, having been a member of the Executive that tendered the advice to the Governor-General, cannot shirk his responsibility in this matter. The Cook Government must accept the blame for the expenditure of the £80,000 or £100,000 that the submission of the referenda proposals will entail.
– Had the referenda proposals been defeated at the last election, the honorable senator would have desired to submit them again. Where, then, does the argument of economy come in? [f they are defeated in December next, the honorable senator will seek to submit them again in the following December.
– That is quite possible.
– They have been out,ed twice already.
– The Liberal party were outed much more effectively than were the referenda proposals on the last occasion they were submitted. If I am any judge of the feelings of the people, they will be carried long before the Liberal party come back to the Treasury bench. During this debate Senator Keating made some reference to the- price of butter. We have been told that it is quite impossible for the Commonwealth Parliament to fix the price of commodities, and Senator Bakhap is a great advocate of private enterprise fixing prices to suit its own pockets. So long as men can corner the requirements of the people, or the food of the people, they can fix the prices of commodities, and trusts and combines can rob the people in any way they choose and have the approval and blessing of honorable senators opposite; but we on this side maintain that if a combination of commercial men can fix the price of commodities to suit their own pockets, the Government should be able to do something to checkmate them. That is all the power we ask. The fact that the Government of New South Wales had fixed the price of butter was quoted as proof of the fact that a Government could not successfully fix the price of any commodity..
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Could not increase production.
– The honorable senator may not be aware of the fact that in South Australia we can get more butter from New South Wales than is being placed on the New South Wales market.
– I suppose that the people of South Australia require the butter, and are paying for it.
– We are paying about 2s. 3d. per lb., whereas the Government of New South Wales has fixed the price at Is. 4 1/2d per lb. When I was in Sydney recently, I went from one end of George-street to the other, but could not purchase butter at any price.
– The honorable senator should have gone to Sussex-street.
– I heard the history of Sussex-street. At every store in George-street they told me all about Sussex-street. They said that there was any quantity of butter coming into Sussex-street, but we could not find any.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould.- - That was fiction. The butter is not being produced.
– It is not being produced in anything like former quantities, but it is being produced in sufficient quantities to supply the requirements of New South Wales, and it should not be necessary for persons in Sydney to be compelled to buy not more than half a pound at a time.
– Why should not the people in Sydney be required to pay as much as the people >of Adelaide pay, less freight?
– In my opinion, the Government of New South Wales made a mistake in fixing the price without handling the commodity. When they fixed the price, they should have collared the butter.
– As Queensland is doing.
– A few -weeks ago we heard that there was to be a shortage of sugar, but being Labour Governments, and knowing the requirements of the people, the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Queensland have come to an arrangement whereby they have overcome that anticipated shortage, and they have been able to fix the price of sugar because they will be handling the commodity.
– Wait until they sell it at the price.
– The honorable senator always seeks to shake hands with the devil before he meets him.
– Is the butter that the honorable senator speaks of as being sold in South Australia brought from New South Wales ?
– Yes. The north and south coastal districts of New South Wales have had a good season, but the operators are keeping the butter back. They are exporting it from New South Wales in order to get a fictitious price. In fact, while New South Wales butter is being sold all over the Commonwealth, the people of that State have had to import butter from America. When giving evidence before the Necessary Commodities Commission in Sydney, Mr. Meares, of the Coastal Farmers’ Association, said -
We are face to face with a famine in butter, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. There are only Queensland and New South Wales to supply the demand. Tasmania has had a had year, Victoria has had a deplorable drought, and South Australia also has had a very bad year.
At the time that Mr. Meares gave this evidence, 22,800,000 lbs. of butter had been shipped from New .South Wales overseas. Why should butter be shipped from New South Wales when the people of the State need it?
– Let the people of Sydney pay for it.
– The farmers who produced that butter were not getting Is. 4 1/2d per lb., or anything like that price. The farmers in South Australia are not getting anything like 2s. 3d. per lb. for their butter. Who is getting the money ?
– The middleman must get something.
– -The middleman, .of course, must get at least the biggest share of the money. He always does. Being the apple of the honorable senator’s eye, he cannot do anything wrong, and must not be interfered with. His profits must not go down in any circumstances. The idea of passing the referenda proposals in order that such wicked things can be stopped is unthinkable to” honorable senators opposite, and they must, therefore, carry on the good old practice of giving the middleman the lion’s share of the profit on whatever he handles.
– You do not blame them for sticking to their friends ?
– I cannot blame our opponents on the other side, but what I do object to is that they repudiate their friends so readily. When we tell them that they are doing the best they can for their friends, they say “No.” ‘ If their friends were worth sticking to, our opponents ought not to be ashamed to agree that they are anxious that their friends should continue to pocket such profits.
– You know that the charges of distributing any commodity are always very considerable.
– They ought not to be 100 per cent.
– I could tell my honorable friend opposite some of my own experiences in that regard, but I do not want to take up the time of the Senate.
– Take up the time; what is it for ?
– The honorable senator takes his full share of the time of the Senate, but the worst point is that he does not give us very much information.
– You occupy a lot of time in trying to combat his arguments.
– No, I have not referred to the honorable’s senator’s arguments. Furthermore, the export of 22,800,000 lbs. of butter from New South Wales shows an increase of 5,400.000 lbs. over the export for the corresponding period of the previous year, proving that, after all, there was not such a shortage of butter as we are asked to believe by honorable senators, who have been pleading for the middleman in Sussex-street who never produced a POUnd of butter in his life. Indeed he knows better than to go on the land and do any farming. These are the men who farm the farmers all the time. The Sussexstreet farmers, the George-street farmers, the Bourke-street farmers, and the rest of the street farmers are always pleading for the farmers on the land with tears in their voices, and the Labour party is represented as those who are invariably trying to down them on every occasion. We want to show the farmers, if we can, that such statements are not in accordance with facts. I ask honorable senators opposite to tell me where is a difference between the trader - the highlyprized middleman - who keeps the necessary food away from the people of Australia and the German Huns who are sending the food of the people of England to the bottom of the sea to-day ? There is not one whit of difference. One is as i reprehensible as the other. Our newspapers denounce the Germans for sending our foodstuffs to the bottom of the sea by means of torpedoes. But the same publications, and the same political party are holding up and defending for all they are worth those gentlemen who are cornering the’ foodstuffs of the people, and who care not whether people starve or not, so long as they can get profits for their own pockets. In my estimation there is no difference between one and the other, and both of them deserve the same treatment. In conclusion, I desire to say a few words on the statements which our opponents make about burying the hatchet at the present time. They assert that the referenda proposals will cause a tremendous upheaval in the country, that the people cannot think of two things at the same time, that while the war is being waged it is impossible for the electors to give due consideration to these weighty proposals.
– Will it prevent one man from going to the front?
– I am satisfied that it will not. I believe that the war will not prevent one man or woman from exercising the suffrage. I am as much concerned as any man in the Commonwealth about the success of our troops, not only in Gallipoli, but in Europe. If I thought that their submission was likely to interfere in any shape or form with the people, I should not be advocating the proposals as I am doing. I feel quite confident that the cry of “ Bury the hatchet “’ is raised again for political purposes. Our opponents are prepared to resort to anything to gain delay. Senator Ready referred to the case of a man in Melbourne who has. made £80,000 out of dealings in chaff during the last five or six months. I was told the same story on very good authority-
– You must have caught a lot of old birds with chaff, then.
– Will the honorable senator say it is a fair thing at present that an operator in chaff or any other commodity should make a profit of that amount ?
– It all depends on the circumstances.
– There is no qualification about a proceeding of that kind if it is true. The man who made that profit out of the necessities of the people of Australia, the man who cared not whether he starved the stock of people, the man who cared not whether the dairyman, the drayman, the cabdriver, or anybody else, lived or starved while he made a profit of £80,000 should be taken out and shot. That is my opinion of men who deal in that way. Is it any wonder, then, that I am anxious that the referenda proposals should be carried if it will stop in the slightest degree such wickedness on the part of the middleman ?
– It is a simple statement, but there is not the slightest evidence produced yet that any man has made a profit of 80,000 shillings.
– I was not aware that Senator Ready knew anything about the case. The source from which I got the information is so reliable that I have no doubt about its truthfulness. Whilst I do not know of such a large profit being made, I do know of tremendous profits being made in Australia to-day as the result of the operations of trusts and combines, composed of men who do not care a snap of the finger and thumb whether men or stock starve so long as their bank balance is increased by their wicked and pernicious transactions. To come back to the question of burying the hatchet, I wish to show how honorable senators opposite are burying it at present. A petition was presented to the Senate to-day from an organization in Victoria; I am not quite sure whether it came from the Australian Women’s National League or not-
– And they went to a senator for New South Wales to have it presented.
– That is quite understandable.
– They ignored their own representatives.
– How could they help themselves?
– My honorable friend opposite knows that the members of that political organization are not big enough to come to a member of the Labour party with a petition of that kind. It did not matter whether there were fifty representatives of Victoria in the Senate, so long as they were all Labour men the organization would turn them down. Let us see how our honorable friends are burying the hatchet. I have here a cutting from the Age of no more recent date than the 6th July, that is, during the great recruiting campaign. I haveno hesitation in saying that the campaign is being used by our opponents for political purposes, and I regret to say so. There was a meeting of a branch of this great political organization held at Toorak, an aristocratic- quarter of Melbourne, where the members of the body live and have their being. I propose to quote a few words from a speech by Sir John Forrest, who is, or ought to be, a big enough man, both physically and politically, to get beyond that kind of thing at the present time. Addressing the gathering of ladies at Toorak, he said -
It was an abomination that at a time like the present, when Australia should be united as a nation, her Parliament should be called upon to consider such contentious measures as the Referendum Bills and the Tariff “I can hardly believe,” he said, “that the Labour Ministry is doing this thing of its own free will.” It is often said that they are not their own masters and that their hands are being forced.
Will the honorable senator say, “ Hear, hear,” to that?
– Hear, hear i
– The “Hear, hear “ is entirely out of place
– You invited me to say it.
– Ever since the Labour party came into Federal politics we have told the people that we would amend the Constitution as soon as we could. What is the use of Sir John Forrest saying that we are not free ? ‘ We are absolutely free. We have given a promise to the people. We are not free to break any pledge, if the members of the Opposition are. Here is an utterance by another distinguished member of the House of Representatives, a gentleman by tile name of Watt.
– I thought he had gone to the front.
– No fear! The extract reads -
Air. Watt dealt still more vigorously with the situation, and declared that National Government, as it had hitherto been known in Australia, was dead, and control had passed into the hands of the Labour Conference. “ The great ancestral institutions which we took from the Motherland and reared with such care,” said Mr. Watt, “ have been crippled and thrown out of use, and in their place has risen a hostile organization which rules the statute-book and all the proceedings of Parliament. Mr. Fisher declares that he is a free agent, but his freedom and that of his colleagues is only that of the tethered goat.”-
That is the kind of language which one can expect to hear from a distinguished gentleman who, a few years ago, was horsewhipped - a distinguished gentleman who ran away from his electorate because he was not game to face his electors. It came with a very bad grace from a gentleman like Mr. Watt to refer to the great Labour party in such terms. I tell him that the members of that party are no more like tethered goats than he is. At the present time he more resembles a tethered goat than anything else I know of. I have read these extracts to show that these gentlemen, while they talk about burying the hatchet, tell the people that this is no time to raise political issues. These two gentlemen went out and led the van in stirring up political hatred, if it is possible to do so, amongst the people of Australia.
– How came it that when Mr. Watt had such antipathy to the Leader of the Labour party, he had to go to that gentleman to get him - out of his trouble ?
– It is a way which the Liberal party have in politics. After having said the worst they can con.cerning political opponents, they turn round and ask favours of them. The sentiments expressed by Sir John Forrest and Mr. Watt were applauded by the ladies present at the meeting, and I believe that the petition presented to-day asks us to call a political halt, and not to go on with the referenda proposals, because to do so would be to stir up political strife. They themselves are showing the way in stirring up strife at a time when, at any rate, theY should “be perfectly silent, that is, while the recruiting campaign is proceeding. We are not singular in Australia in having a political campaign during war time. We are not the only country that has gone through that experience. Italy had an election just before she entered the war, and I believe that, as the result of that election, Italy came into the conflict. We know that the people of Italy did not take the advice which Mr. Cook now tenders to the Government of this country, but -that, on the contrary, they changed horses whilst crossing the stream, with the result that to-day we have Italy as an ally in this great war.
– Greece had an election, too.
– Yes, we know that Greece is right in the middle of a change of Government at the present time, and I have no doubt whatever that the anti-war party of Greece will disappear in the near future. South Australia, coming nearer home, had an election since the war commenced, and I have the utterances of the ex-Premier - but I have not time to quote them - made at the declaration of the poll.
– - They were pretty bitter.
– Yes, they were. Notwithstanding the attempt of the late Government to gerrymander and cut up the districts - some of Mr. Peake’s own supporters said they were safe for fourteen years at least - the Liberal Government went out of power, and the Labour party came in with a larger majority than ever they had before. Queensland also had an election, and what was the result?
Every one knows that here again the people “ swopped “ horses whilst crossing the stream, and I believe they did so to their eternal ‘benefit.
– It was the greatest rout of Liberals that Australia ever saw.
– Yes, it was. Then, in the Federal arena, two of our members, .touched by the hand of death., dropped out of our ranks. But did our Liberal friends bury the political hatchet ? Of course they did not. On the contrary., ‘ they went out and fought those elections with the greatest bitterness and vilification of our party. There was no question of ceasing political strife so long as they thought they could win two seats that belonged to the Labour party, and if they thought they could win these referenda proposals now, they would not be- so keen about ceasing political strife at the present juncture. It is the fear that the Labour party will win that is troubling them, and not the question of putting the proposals to the people at all. We know also that, in Tasmania, there was an election recently in the Bass district, and that the Liberal party fought very bitterly. The Labour party had a majority of only one, and if the Liberal party had won that seat, the Government of Tasmania would have been obliged to go to the country, and Tasmania would have been plunged into a general election.
– And the paper’ which is always appealing to the Federal Labour party to declare a truce was the ‘paper that bitterly fought for the Liberals during that election.
– Surely, in theface of all this, honorable senators opposite will not dare to suggest that we should declare a political truce ? Do they think they are going to fight us on every occasion, and that we are going to back down in this matter after being pledged for the last ten years to press it forward to a successful issue? I must not forget what occurred in my own State, where the ex-Premier was among the slaughtered politicians. A gentleman representing another district was induced to resign hisseat, and the ex-Premier contested it. Here again all the bitterness that could possibly be imported into an election was introduced by the ex-Premier on a very recent occasion. I want to say, in conclusion, concerning the action of the Liberal party in another place, that I think - if I understand party warfare - it was. the duty of the Leader of that party to stand in hia place and fight these referenda proposals. But what did he do ? He led his gallant band of followers out through the door with the best grace that he could command.
– It was very dramatic.
– On the contrary, I think it was neither dramatic nor graceful. It was most disgraceful.
– He fled.
– Yes ; he led his followers away from the firing line. What would we say if our sons, who are fighting on Gallipoli, were led away from the trenches?
– The Leader of the Opposition executed what might be called a masterly retreat.
– It was certainly a retreat; but I do not think that it was masterly, either in conception or execution.
– It was a farce.
– I want to say that those gentlemen who neglect the opportunity to fight these referenda questions in Parliament - where it is their duty to speak - absolutely give up any right to fight them on the public platform. How can Mr. Cook, the Leader of this great Liberal party, or any of his followers in another place, take the public platforms and tell the people that they ought not to vote for the proposals, when they themselves were not game to stand in their places in the House of Representatives and fight them ?
– You know the adage, “ He who fights and runs away “ -
– But the Opposition did not fight; they ran away.
– We can have no regard for gentlemen who put that adage into practice. I did intend to reply to some statements made here by my honorable friend, Senator Bakhap; but I think I have spoken long enough on these questions to-night. I want to say, however, that the honorable senator made a statement to the effect that we, the members of the Labour party, were driven into this action by a Conference that sat recently in Adelaide. Now, that statement - I will describe it by language as strong as” is permitted in this chamber - is absolutely contrary to fact, and the honorable senator knows it.
– Will you let me describe the statement for you?
– No; I am quite capable of describing it myself; but I am prevented by parliamentary procedure from employing stronger terms than those I have already used. The Adelaide Conference had nothing to do with the submission of these referenda questions by the Federal Parliamentary Labour party, and the honorable gentleman knows that perfectly well.
– What did the Conference sit for, then?
– The Conference sat to discuss future action, and I have already pointed out that the Labour party here has advocated these referenda questions for years, so what is the use of honorable senators making statements of that sort to get them ‘ into Hansard? Afterwards probably they will quote them, and say, “We said this in the Senate,” or “in the House of Repre-. sentatives, and it was never contradicted.” . So far as the reference to the Adelaide Conference is concerned, and to a certain gentleman in Melbourne, I say the statement is absolutely contrary to fact.
– A large section of people at that Conference wanted to abolish the High Court.
– They had a perfect right to say whatever they pleased at that Conference. My point is that the honorable senator said the Federal Parliamentary Labour party was influenced by the Conference in Adelaide, and I tell the honorable gentleman again that .that Conference had nothing whatever to do with it or with us.
– Were the referenda proposals mentioned there?
– Yes, of course they were.
– What did they want to mention them for, then, if the Conference had nothing to do with them?
– My honorable friend is fond of saying that we are gagged and tied up like goats, as Mr. Watt would say, but I say that the gentlemen who go to that Conference are free to discuss whatever questions they like.
– And they do it, too. Senator NEWLAND . - Yes ; and we admire them for it. . Senator de LARGIE - They actually had the audacity to suggest the abolition of the Senate.
– Yes, that is so. My whole point in referring to the Conference is that I want to contradict absolutely the statement by Senator Bakhap that the Conference had any influence over this Parliament in regard to these matters, so that when he or any other members of his party take the platform they will not be in a position to say that their statements were not contradicted. The honorable senator is doing his best to carry out a well-known Latin proverb that has been used by his party for so long.
-What is that?
– “ Lie boldly; some of it will stick.”
– But that is not Latin. Give us a Latin proverb.
– That is the English translation of the proverb. “Lie boldly; some of it will stick”; and that is what some honorable gentlemen opposite are doing, and I am taking my opportunity to see that as little of it as possible will stick to this party.
– If the Adelaide Conference had no responsibility in connexion with the referenda proposals, why were they so hotly discussed there?
– Does the honorable senator think that we can control the utterances of those gentlemen?
– No, but they can control yours, though.
– Now, that is another statement which does not. contain one iota of truth. Those gentlemen do not control my tongue, and they have never tried to.
– But the honorable senator’s tongue wags in the direction that they ‘ want it to.
– That is a statement that might come very well from a Liberal Union platform. It is easy for honorable senators to sit on these benches and hurl interjections of that kind across the chamber, but it is difficult to prove them. They know better than to attempt that, because they realize it would be impossible. Members of the Adelaide Conference were as free to discuss these questions as anything else. The only persons who have any right to dictate to or have any control over members of this party are the general body of the electors of the State that sends us here. We haveno right, nor have we any intention, to deny the right of the electors to control, their representatives in this Parliament.
– I had thought that the debate would end earlier, and intended to make my remarks very brief, but the longer the debate goes on, and the more speakers we have, the greater seems to be the duty that falls upon those who follow. I shall not go again over the ground covered by Senator Millen, who referred to the political impropriety of dealing with this matter at the present juncture. I indorse what he said on that subject, and leave it at that. But I do not care that these Bills should pass through Parliament and go to the electors without some analysis of their provisions, however brief, to indicate the reasons why I think they should not be submitted to . the people to vote “Yes” or “No” upon.
– At any time?
– - At any time. I believe, as I have said here, and in my own and other States, both on the platform and through the press, that the Constitution needs amendment, but the procedure we are following to effect necessary amendments of the Constitution is not the best. So far from being the best, it is even undesirable. I wish to deal with these amendments to-night as free as possible from anything that may savour of party spirit. I have upon the parer a motion the discussion upon which I may not anticipate. One of the worst ways to approach the important task of amending the provisions of the Constitution is the one now being adopted. I say that apart altogether from the question of what party is in power. It is not very long since the people had submitted to them practically these proposals, but these are not actually what were submitted to the people two years ago.
– There is very little difference.
– There is a very substantial difference in the first and the sixth, and the fact that there is a substan- tial difference in each of those emphasizes my point that the procedure we follow for the amendment of the Constitution is far from being the best.
– We are prepared to consider amendments.
– That is what I consider the worst feature of this proceeding.
The first amendment deal with the most important provision in the whole Constitution. It touches the trade and commerce power, which is the root principle of all our legislative power. As it appears in the Constitution at present, we have power to make laws for trade and commerce among the States and with outside countries. We are now asked to amend the Constitution to provide that this Parliament shall have power to make laws ‘ ‘ with respect to trade and commerce.” We propose to omit the words ‘ ‘ with other countries and among the States.” The trade and commerce power is the keystone of the arch of our legislative power.
– Quote Sir William Irvine upon it.
– I shall quote myself upon it. If the honorable senator wants to hear Sir William Irvine, he may go and do so. I am not asking him to stay here. The amendment we ‘were asked to consider, in 1913 was not this amendment. We were asked then to amend the Constitution by striking out the words “ with other countries and among the States,” and insert “ but not including trade and commerce upon railways the property of a State except so far as it is trade and commerce with other countries or among the States.” We were asked in 1913 to strike out certain words and insert others cutting down the power. We are asked now to strike out certain words and leave the words “ trade and commerce “ standing. In the interval between 1913 and 1915 circumstances have evidently arisen which have warranted in the minds of those responsible for drafting the amendment a further alteration of their then proposal. Had we carried that amendment in 1913, we should presumably be now asked again to amend the Constitution by striking out the limitation on our powers with respect to trade and commerce carried on the railways.
Take now the monopoly amendment. When we were asked in 1913 to amend the Constitution by giving this Parliament the power to nationalize certain mono polies, we made provision enabling Parliament to declare - as a monopoly, and as a consequence of that declaration to nationalize it - any concern engaged in the industry or business of “producing, manufacturing, or supplying any specified service.” I pointed out in Tasmania that the people were being urged to insert that amendment in the Constitution on the ground that in exercise of that power Parliament would be able to nationalize an industry, like the sugar industry, whereas Parliament would not have that power. I said the sugar industry was not an industry engaged in “ producing, manufacturing, or supplying any specified service.” It was engaged in the producing, manufacturing, or supplying of goods, but not of services. Services were what gas companies, railway companies, .electric lighting companies, transport and traffic companies, and corporations provided us with. I pointed out that the proposed power of nationalization would not cover a monopoly concerned with the manufacture, production, or sale of goods.
– Do you think that is why it was not carried ?
– I do not say so.
– How do you make the distinction ?
– What is the meaning of “service”? We speak of s> tramway service, a steam-ship service, a lighting service, a water service, or a gas service. I was particularly pressed with, regard to this view by some of my hearers at a place called Bothwell, and I elaborated it. The matter was referred to in the papers, and made the subject of an article. The nationalization of monopolies proposal now put forward is the same, except that the words “ supplying any specified goods, or supplying any specified services” appear.
– That is an improvement.
– It is; but it goes to show that the amendment which the people were asked in 1913 to adopt was not complete.
– Does the present proposal meet your views ?
– I do not say so : but the 1913 amendment evidently did1 not give effect to the views and wishes of those proposing it.
With each successive submission of these amendments to Parliament, there is a substantial alteration.
– All the better for the people.
– If the people adopt them, we have no guarantee that, in twelve months’ time, they will not need amending again.
– Why should they not be amended again if necessary ?
– That question brings me back to what I began with - that the procedure we adopt to amend the Constitution is not only far from being the best, but is even undesirable. The whole of the energies and talents of the nation should be engaged in the amendment of the instrument which was the work of the nation.
– Is that why the Opposition walked out in another place? “ Senator KEATING. - I am not concerned with the other House, but one feature that preceded their walking out was that they were not allowed to discuss this matter as our President has allowed us to do.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not allude to the proceedings of another House.
– I did not intend to allude to them. They were introduced by others.
– However they are introduced, their discussion is disorderly.
– When the time and place are convenient I shall be prepared to discuss them.
– You forget that your party was asked to suggest a via media, and failed to do so.
– The Liberal party in another place offered amendments when the proposals were put before them in 1913, and their suggestions were absolutely turned down.
– Are those suggestions of theirs in print?
– They are in the records of another place. My honorable friends are asking me a number of questions with regard to the actions of others. I have always taken, and will take, in regard to the Constitution, the course that commends itself- to me. I have differed before from others in different parts of the chamber with regard to amendments of the Constitution. Substantially these amendments were submitted to the people for the first “time in 1911. I opposed them then from the platform in Tasmania.
– All of them?
– I think you voted for one of them here.
– I did. What I voted for here was the submission of that proposal to the people, and I addressed the people upon it, giving them the reasons why I was voting against it at the polls. I spoke, not in association with anybody else, but entirely on my own initiative.
– Why cannot the honorable senator trust the people now ?
– I can trust them.
– The honorable senator does not want these proposals to go before them. That is a declaration to the opposite effect.
– I am merely pointing out that the proposals contained in these Bills ought not to be embodied in our Constitution. I do not think that they will meet the requirements of the people or of the Parliament.
– Can the honorable senator suggest anything better ?
– Perhaps I can, and there are other honorable senators who perhaps can suggest something better. That is why I think the procedure that is being followed in this all-important matter is wrong. No matter what Government may be in power, who prepares any proposed constitutional amendments ? Nominally, the Attorney- General, but as a matter of practice they are prepared by an officer of his Department. Then they are submitted to the Cabinet, which naturally and properly leans very much on the recommendation of its chief legal adviser. The amendments thus become the amendments of the Cabinet, and pass into the House of Representatives, where they become the amendments of the Labour party, or of the Liberal party, as the case may be. There is no round-table discussion of them, as there would be if a convention were held for the purpose^ of framing them. What I have suggested in that connexion is that the functions of my proposed convention should be limited to a consideration of the provisions of section 51 of our Constitution. In relation to these particular amendments, I took my own platform-
– Will the honorable senator not admit that after he had spoken there was considerable doubt as to what he had said?
– I will not. There was, before I spoke, doubts as to my views. The day after I delivered my first speech the heading of the leading article in the most influential newspaper in Tasmania was, “ Senator Keating says * No.’ “
– It suited its policy.
– And it squared with the facts.
– As a matter of fact, that same newspaper had said the same tiling a hundred times before the honorable senator said it.
– That circumstance has nothing whatever to do with me. I took my own platform, and expressed my own views in every respect.
– Perhaps the other newspaper stated that the honorable senator said “Yes-No.”
– No. The newspaper was speaking of me, and not of my honorable friend. What I have said will serve to indicate that it may become apparent at a very early stage after these amendments have been adopted that they are susceptible of further amendment. Are we for ever to go on tinkering with our Constitution ?
– Have we not been invited to do so by the decision of the High Court?
– I think not. If we exceed our jurisdiction, and the High Court points out that we have done so, it is merely fulfilling its duty. If these amendments be ratified by the people, I believe that, great as has ‘been the volume of business occupying the attention of the High Court in connexion with Commonwealth legislation, it will be but as a drop in the bucket compared with the volume which will occupy its attention in the future.
– The honorable senator’s profession ought to welcome these Bills.
– The question naturally arises : Are the powers which we propose to vest in this Parliament exclusive or concurrent powers ? Are they to be exclusively exercised by this Parliament, or are they powers which this Parliament will exercise concurrently with the Parliaments of the States?
– The trade and commerce power is exclusive.
– I thought not. It is only within ‘ the last hour or so, whilst looking up authority on the development of the doctrine of exclusiveness in the “United States, that I have seen some ground for the opinion which has just been expressed by Senator de Largie. If the power relating to trade and commerce, which it is proposed to confer on this Parliament, be exclusive, the States will not be able to pass any legislation whatever dealing with any transaction of trade or commerce. No State will have any jurisdiction over an ordinary transaction within its own borders.
– If the trade were confined to a State, there would be no necessity for the Commonwealth Government to exercise jurisdiction.
– I am basing my remarks just now on the assumption that Senator de Largie’s assertion is correct.
– Will the honorable senator afterwards argue from the point of view that his assumption .is wrong ? ‘ Senator KEATING.- I will, readily. Senator de Largie has hazarded the opinion that this Parliament, under the proposed trade and commerce amendment of our Constitution, will have exclusive control over trade and commerce. If so, this Parliament alone will be able to pass laws affecting any trade or commerce transaction in any part of the Commonwealth, irrespective of whether it be confined to the narrow limits of a single township, or whether it extends beyond the limits of a State - whether it is Inter-State or Intrastate.
– The honorable senator is straining the position now.
– I. am not.
– Why not deal with the position in the Bill?
– The Constitution now does not say that this Parliament is to have exclusive power over trade and commerce in relation to Inter-State, or foreign, trade and commerce.
– Neither does it limit the power.
– But the doctrine of exclusiveness is accepted by analogy on decisions in the United States upon a somewhat similar provision in the American Constitution. In the original form of that Constitution it was proposed to use the words, “ the sole and exclusive power,” but those words were “eliminated, and it was not until 1851, after a’ series of decisions, that it was indubitably decided that, so far as Inter-State and foreign trade and commerce were concerned, Congress did possess exclusive power.
– But in the extreme definition of “ exclusiveness,” given by the honorable senator, this Parliament has no such powers in respect of any Department.
– Yes; it has exclusive power in regard to Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones.
– There is not a State Parliament which has not some control over our telegraphs.
– Did not the last decision of the High Court lay it down that where the powers of any State have not been taken over by the Commonwealth, the State still continues to exercise them ?
– A provision to that effect is expressly embodied in our Constitution.
– The honorable senator must see that we do not possess exclusive legislative power over the Post and Telegraph Department.
– We do, so far as its administration is concerned. Further, the State Parliaments have nothing to do with such matters as duties of Customs and Excise. Similarly, we have defined exclusive powers in regard to the bounties payable on the production or export of goods-
– The legislative power in regard to bounties is not exclusive.
– Our powers of legislation in regard to lighthouses, light ships, beacons and buoys, and quarantine are exclusive when those services are taken over.
– The extreme definition which the honorable senator has given to the word “exclusive” destroys his point.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has invited me to argue on the assumption that the proposed trade and commerce amendment will not confer an exclusive but a concurrent power upon this Parliament - that is to say, if the people ratify the Bill, this Parliament will have power to make laws in respect of trade and com merce - Inter-State, foreign, and Intrastate.
– It will have com- plete but not exclusive power.
– Yes. In that case the State Parliaments will also have the power to make laws in regard to trade and commerce within their own borders. The result will be that as Australia grows in wealth and population its transactions will necessarily be much more numerous, much more complex, and much more varied in character, and it will then be the duty of persons carrying on trade and commerce in any city, or between two parts of any State, to always guard against the possibility of there being two law3 governing their transactions - the law of the State and the law of the Commonwealth. They will have to ascertain what law, if any, applies to their transactions.
– Can two laws be in operation simultaneously ?
– So long as they do not conflict. Of course, if they conflict, the Federal law will prevail.
– Exactly; and therefore our power will be complete.
– This duality of law will lead to conflict, to doubt, and to uncertainty.
– There can be no doubt if the Federal law is supreme.
– There can be no litigation then.
– There will be an increased crop of litigation.
– Can the honorable senator bring evidence to show that? Is not there more litigation in America than in other countries?
– To what other countries does the honorable senator refer ?
– To other Federations. What about Canada?
– Canada has not adopted the course that we are about to adopt here.
– In essence she has.
– Because it was not necessary for her to do so.
– She has expressly given certain powers to the Provinces, and the Confederation has the residue of the powers. We, on the other hand, are taking express powers for the
Commonwealth, and by taking them in express terms, we are providing the opportunities for doubt.
– Why does the honorable senator term Canada a Confederation?
– It has been regarded as a Confederation rather than a Federation. It is frequently spoken of as a Confederation. However, I do not propose to split straws over words. That is the position so far as Canada is concerned. Each Province lias certain legislative powers given to it, and outside those powers the Confederation, or Dominion, has all power.
– Under our existing Constitution, if, in the exercise of concurrent power, the Federal law clashes with a State law, will the Federal law prevail ?
– Yes; but under these amendments the first thing traders and merchants and persons engaged in commerce will have to consider is whether there is any law applicable to their transactions, and, if so, whether it is a State law or a Federal law or both ; and, if both exist, whether there is any conflict between the State law and the Federal law. These are questions with which traders and persons engaged in commerce will be confronted for the first time.
– No ; that difficulty applies now under the Patents Act.
– Then why does the honorable senator seek to bring it into every trade and commerce transaction throughout the Commonwealth? Is it not bad enough to have the trouble confined to the patents law and other particular instances? Do honorable senators reflect upon the meaning of trade and commerce? It is anything in the nature of buying, selling, bargaining, engaging to buy, contracting, or anything of the kind. Things we do half-a-dozen, twenty, thirty, or forty times a day, come under trade and commerce. At present the Commonwealth can deal with trade and commerce so long as it partakes of an Inter-State or external or foreign character, while each STate has full power over every transaction in relation to trade and commerce within its own borders.
– Under the referenda proposals the people are asked to hand over certain definite powers to one branch of the Legislature. If supreme authority is given to the Federal Parliament, how can it conflict with any other legislative authority ?
– For the simple reason that it is concurrent power.
– But the Federal power is .supreme. “Senator KEATING.- It is.
– And that fact prevents conflict.
– It will be necessary for the trader, or intending trader, to ascertain what laws, if any, State or Federal, or State and Federal, apply to his business. At present he knows that if it is a transaction within a State, only the law in that State can apply to it, and that if it is a transaction between one State and another the Federal law will apply to it; but with concurrent jurisdiction the trader will have to ascertain whether there are two sets of laws, or whether there is only one law, and if there are two, whether they are in any detail in conflict, or not in conflict, and so both, operating.
– Suppose that under the powers sought in this Bill the Commonwealth carry a general trading law. After fifty years of trading, do you think that the residue would be so wide that the States would attempt to legislate in that particular direction ?
– Undoubtedly ; because every day brings new features and elements of trade. Every day trade increases in complexity and variety. We have businesses in existence that were not dreamed of ten years ago. Every day brings new forms and modes of business, and subjects of business, into life; and with the increasing variety and complexity it would be impossible to anticipate many years ahead by any general trading law.
– Trade is well defined in branches.
– No. There are always novel forms of trading arising. When in Sydney recently, I noticed an advertisement to this effect : ‘ ‘ We issue green coupons; we advise our customers to obtain them because we believe in giving them rather than in spending money on advertising “ ; and it recalled to my mind a procedure followed by a number of traders some years ago, known as the issue of trading stamps. The issue of trading stamps was suppressed by law in
Tasmania, and I believe in certain other States, but it was a new form of trading that had cropped up in recent years. If something similar were to occur in future, and be so prevalent, say, in Queensland, as to become objectionable, what would be the position ? The State Parliament could legislate it out of existence, as was done with regard to trading stamps in several of the States, but responsible members of the State Parliament might very well turn to those who would urge that course, and say, “ The fact of the matter is that the Federal Parliament has jurisdiction in this matter; why do you not get it to interfere?” But on approaching the Federal Parliament, those anxious to have this form of trading legislated upon might be informed, “ So far as we know, this evil is not extended beyond Queensland. You had better go back to your own Parliament, and ask it to deal with the matter.” Thus those who would be anxious to get legislation on the subject would find themselves, like Mahomet’s coffin, suspended between Heaven and earth, and would be able to get nothing from either legislative body.
– If Tasmania were the only State in which these trading stamps were in use, it would not be necessary to get the Federal Parliament to take action; but if the trouble extended to all the States, would it not be an advantage if the Commonwealth Parliament were given the power to take action?
– At the present time, when matters become Inter-State in their character, the Federal Parliament has full power to take action. I have given an instance of the exercise of concurrent powers. The’ presence of these concurrent powers on this important matter in our Constitution will lead to uncertainty, confusion, and litigation. We have to remember that the powers set out in section 51 were defined with the- idea of giving to a Federal, rather than a unified, Parliament powers which it should exercise for the common good) of all’ the component parts of the Federation; but many of us are apt to regard Federalism as something in the nature of complete union, or Unification. More than once in the course of this debate, honorable senators have referred to the people as if the people of Australia were the sole determining authority in regard to the matters to which honorable sena tors were at the time referring. The people, as a people, are not, in a Federal system of government, the sole determining authority. The people and the States are. The Federal principle of union is totally different from that of an ordinary Unification.
– How does the honorable senator reconcile his views with his special pleading for concurrent powers in regard to bills of exchange, when he pleaded for concurrent power for the States to be able to tax Commonwealth instruments such as cheques and promissory notes?”
– I have never pleaded for anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator introduced the Bill in this Chamber, permitting the .States to tax promissory notes, bills of exchange, and cheques.
– That was the Bills of Exchange Bill; that was not an instance of concurrent power. Our Constitution provides for the Commonwealth passing a Bills of Exchange Act, and consequently, we made the bills of exchange law uniform for the Commonwealth; but so far as the revenue which the States had been deriving from bills of exchange issued within their borders was concerned, we did not seek to deprive them of it. The Bill was not introduced for the purpose of getting for the Commonwealth the comparatively little revenue which the States had been collecting. We did not seek to deprive them of that, but we sought to get uniformity in regard to the law dealing with bills of exchange.
To revert to what I was saying, we should always remember that, so far as our Federation is concerned, the. union is a union of political partnership, a union of six partners. If six persons go into partnership they become, for all the purposes of the partnership, one; but for ad other purposes than those of the partnership they still remain six. In business they are regarded by outsiders, and they regard themselves, as one, and, in the same way, the six peoples of the States of the Commonwealth, on all the matters contained in the Constitution, are one; but for all their domestic matters each State is, like each individual in the trading partnership, single and completely master of itself. Our’ Federal union is not a complete union; it is a political partnership. No individual partner would allow the whole or any of the others in the partnership to enter into, or deal with what might be called his own domestic or private affairs. When the six States decided to federate by the votes of their electors, they decided to become one for all the matters laid down in the Commonwealth Constitution, the deed of political partnership; but for all other matters they were to preserve to the full the powers they had always previously enjoyed under their respective Constitutions. Section 51 of our Constitution is most important, because it gives the powers to this Parliament. It is the section which distributes the powers of legislation as between the partnership, otherwise the Commonwealth, and the individual members of the partnership, otherwise the States. We have to remember that in bringing this about we had a Parliament as the legislative authority of this Federal union. And though the House of Representatives represents the people ‘ of the six States taken as one people, in this far that it is proportioned to the number of people in each State - so we find that New South Wales, with its twenty-seven representatives or more, Tasmania and Western Australia with a minimum of five representatives each, Victoria with its twenty-two representatives, and so on - the Senate represents the other feature of that partnership, not a union of the people, but a union of the several States. The population of Tasmania, though it be only 200,000, is equally represented here with the population of New South Wales, which is about eight times that number. Before we entered into the political partnership, each of the States in every Convention or Conference which was called for the purpose of discussing the terms of Federal union had been equally represented, whether it was in the Conference of 1890, when they were each represented by seven, or whether it was in the Convention of 1891, presided over by Sir Henry Parkes, when they were each again equally represented, or whether it was in the Convention that framed the Constitution under which we have been legislating, when they were each represented by ten elected representatives. Each of the States, before the Union, was regarded as a sovereign political entity; each was regarded as equal, irrespective of its territory or its population, and each nego tiated with the others towards Federal union as an equal, and so we had equality. When we decided on a Federal form of union, rather than a complete union, we decided that, for the purposes set out in the Constitution, we should be one; but that for all other purposes we should remain as before - six States, separate, sovereign, and equal. Hence equality of representation in the Senate - just as there was before Federation equality of representation in every Conference or Convention. It is by reason of the fact that we have centralized, or become one, on only the definite matters in the Constitution, assigned to the Federal Parliament, and by reason of the consequent fact that, as regards all other matters, we are still six separate, sovereign, equal States, that we have equality of representation here. This equality of representation has been challenged. It has been attacked by certain individuals at different times, in the name of what ? In the name of the people - in the name of Democracy, because it is said that the Senate does not properly represent the voice of the people,, but the voices of the six unequally populous States. I venture to say that, if we extend the powers of this Parliament in the direction indicated by the proposed amendments; if it is given the power to deal with matters which can be and have been dealt with by the State Parliaments, we shall he giving added force and strength to those arguments which’ have been used, and arc still being used, against equality of representation of each of the States in this branch of the Parliament.
– What does that matter, if it suits the people!
– I am not saying that there should be any disturbance of equality of representation; but I am saying, and saying with confidence, that every increase of power given to this Parliament will but add to the strength and the weight of the arguments of those who oppose a continuance of equality of representation.
– But the trouble is that many States, owing to their Legislative Council, will not exercise the power which we ask for.
– If we want to deal with that, we should deal with it directly. If we proceed to deal with it indirectly - and this is only an indirect means of dealing with the Legislative Councils - we must be careful that those means do not recoil on ourselves in the form of a boomerang.
– Have we the power to deal directly?
– I am afraid that the proposed extension of the powers of the Federal Parliament will recoil on us as a boomerang. I do not, for one moment, suggest that there is now any sustainable ground for disturbing the principle of equality of representation. Briefly, tonight I have sketched the history and the necessity of it. In connexion with all preFederation Conferences, each State was regarded as equal and sovereign, irrespective of its size or population, and that principle of equality of representation in this Chamber was carried into the Constitution largely, I might say solely, because of the limited powers of this Parliament in comparison with the unlimited powers of the States. It was not carried unanimously. It was not carried without considerable difficulty, and though it was carried, we know that there have been, arc, and will continue to be, attempts to assail that principle; and whatever force there may have been in the arguments of those who have assailed and are assailing it, that force will be strengthened by the course we are invited to take to-day. I ask leave, sir, to resume my remarks at another sitting.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
.- I move -
That in view of the fact that Senator Shannon, who was absent from the call of the Senate, has sent an apology, and that an explanation has been made on behalf of Senator Grant, who was also absent, the said senators be excused for failure to answer such call.
– As the motionis connected with the call of the Senate, which was ordered for to-day, and as it is the completion of that call, and also the business of the Senate, it does not require the usual notice to be given.
Question resolved in the affirmative:
Senate adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 July 1915, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1915/19150714_senate_6_77/>.