10th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules1925, No. 219.
Federal Capital - Memorandum, dated 21st December, 1925, by the Chairman, Federal Capital Commission, on the subject of the transfer to Canberra.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes at Trentham, Victoria.
Norfolk Island- Ordinance of 1926.- No. 1. - Auctioneers.
Northern Territory. - Ordinance of 1926 - No. 2- Heat Industry Encouragement.
Northern Territory Representation Act, and lectoral Act. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1926,. No. 5.
Quarantine Act. - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 2. death of the hon. charles Mcdonald.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for “Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The Minister for Works and Railways has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions : -
After this Parliament passed the act authorizing the construction of the railway from Kyogle to South Brisbane, the actual work of construction was placed under a Board of Commissioners. Recently tenders for the work were received, but a difference of opinion having arisen between the Commonwealth Government and the Governments Of New South Wales and Queensland, the two State Governments have been invited to send representatives to Melbourne to discuss the matter. Until such a conference has taken place, no useful purpose would be served by making a fuller statement than that, and the extracts from some of the letters which the Prime Minister supplied to the press some time ago.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The terms of the agreement generally have been fulfilled. Under the agreement a beam station has yet to be constructed in Australia. The agreement provides that this shall be completed when a corresponding station in England is erected.
Payment of Chairman
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Chairman of the Deportation Board is to have his services rewarded by a substantial honorarium?
– It is not proposed to pay to the chairman any sum by way of honorarium, but he will be paid fees at the same rate as the other members of the board.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answer to the.honorable senator’s questions is as foi- - lows : -
The Minister for Defence considers it a* pleasure to honour Lieutenant-General SirJohn Monash in every possible way, and he.has never intentionally been ignored.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the New Guinea Act 1920.
Bill presented and. read a first time.
Motion (by Senator PEARCE) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to suspend the operation of the Aliens’” Registration Act 1920.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by ‘Senator Gardiner, through Senator Needham) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill to amend the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920-22, to provide for widows of members who served with the forces.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 15th January (vide page 106), on motion by Senator Sampson -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to : -
May rr Please Your Excellency,
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament asembled, desire to. express our loyalty, to Our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia.) [3.10],- On Friday I dealt with the relationship of the Commonwealth and the States with regard, particularly, to financial and industrial matters, and made a few remarks concerning the recent election. I have no wish t’o-day to repeat, and I certainly have no desire’ to withdraw anything I said last week; but I should like to make, one observation concerning” the statement by Senator Gardiner that he knew of- no person in the community who was anxious to disrupt trade and. commerce, or was opposed- to- the Empire. The honorable senator’s statement goes a good, deal further than those of other Labour leaders. The Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Charlton), for instance, stated during the election, campaign that there were in Australia disruptive and disloyal forces -which, if aroused, would shake the very foundations of society, and the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), the deputy leader of the Opposition there, made a somewhat similar remark. Other Labour leaders say that we- have in Australia, but few people with revolutionary tendencies. I believe that. They are so few that they would be practically harmless if it were not for the> fact that they have not only the sympathy but. also the support of a big section of the Labour party. Does any: body think that these few individuals could have held up the whole of the shipping of Australia unless they had had the wholehearted and- active cooperation and support of a large section of the Labour party 1 I shall say nothing further in regard to the matter now, since- my time is’ limited.
When, on Friday afternoon last, I obtained leave to continue my remarks I was proceeding to deal with the Northern Territory. I said that in my opinion it was time some satisfactory scheme was evolved for the settlement and development of that vast tract of country that was not only great in area, but great as regards its potentialities. It is indeed a land of unlimited possibilities, and yet nobody seems inclined’ to go there. Naturally one asks the reason for this- disinclination. Why is it that th© white population- in the Northern Territory is less to-day than it was 30 years ago I Some people contend that if we build the north-south railway; settlement and development will go on apace. I do not hold that view. I certainly think that the building of; that line is essential to any bold scheme for the settlement and’ development of the country, but I do not believe that the. mere- construction of the railway will either settle or develop it.
The question- of the practicability of the White Australia policy, has-been mentioned, from time to time. Four years agc I,, on account of statements that had’ been made- by scientists, Territorians’, andothers, expressed a very humble opinionas to whether or riot, the White Australia policy was practicable. And I have been well blackguarded ever since for having dared to do so-. Words of mine have, been torn- from their context and. used for. political purposes. in. a most disgraceful manner. It has, been said, over and over again that I stated that, -if I had the power I would put coloured labour into Australia, and- give full citizen Bights-‘ to coloured people: I never said- anything. of, the kind. The people responsible for that assertion make no1 reference to the states ment that I made immediately afterwardsthat I had been totally misrepresented1, and that I had never expressed such an opinion. They do not state that in my original utterances’ upon the question I said that if the Northern Territory could be developed by white labour so much the better. They refrain from stating that I said I was a White Australian for every square mile of the country that could possibly be developed by white, labour. This misrepresentation has been going on, and I have no doubt that similar misrepresentation will be repeated. I have been implored by some of my best friends not even to mention, the subject’ of a White Australian now that I haveentered the Federal Parliament; but I want to know why I should not do so. The question of the settlement and’ development of the Northern Territory has’ t’o bc faced, and I for one am prepared to face it,, and consider every aspect of the matter in all its bearings. Any member of Parliament not prepared to’ consider and discuss any important national ques- tion must be accounted a pure timeserver, an opportunist, and unworthy of the trust reposed in him.
The policy of a “White Australians, of course, a great ideal, and, if it be practicable, has everything to recommend it. I do not say for a moment that it is not practicable. It may be. I do not know. But I do know that scientists, including leading medical men, differ upon the subject. I know that Territorians are not unanimous about it, and that the branch of the Australian Natives’ Association at Port Darwin has passed a resolution affirming that the Territory can be developed only by coloured labour. It was because of these utterances on the part of people who ought to know that I, four years ago, expressed an honest doubt upon the subject. Well, Mr. President, having that doubt on account of what others had said, and having no .personal knowledge, was I not, in the public position in which I was placed, bound to say so? What would my friends in the Labour party and my friends in my own party - I do not say here, but outside - have thought if I had evaded the question, or shirked my responsibility with regard to it when I held an important public position? Would they have had me refrain from expressing a doubt upon a matter of great national moment simply because of some sickly dread of running counter to what I knew to be the dominant public sentiment ? While I hold any position in public life, whether as a member of this Senate or in any other capacity, I shall at ail times say what I believe to be right, true, and in the “best interests of Australia. Again I say that the White Australia policy is a great ideal. My position with regard to it is this : I belong to a political party that is pledged to this policy and has placed it in the very forefront of its political platform; I have subscribed to it, and I am not prepared to go back on it. I am whole-heartedly a White Australian until it can be shown that this policy is impracticable. Every sane Australian must desire it. If I had the whole powers of the .Federal Government in my hands to-day, I should not budge one iota from the White Australia policy until its impracticability had been proved beyond doubt. I would, however, ‘tackle the question of the settle ment and development of the Northern Territory; I would try to see what it is that is standing in the way of its development - because, undoubtedly, there is some hindrance. Unquestionably a doubt does exist in the minds of some people who ought to know, and, therefore, I would settle that doubt once and for all. -If the White Australia policy be practicable, then, in the name of reason, let us get on with the job, and settle white people in the Northern Territory. Let us at least make a start with the work. Is this Government going to say, as Government after Government in the past has said, “ There is a solution of this big problem of the settlement and development of the Northern Territory consistent with the White Australia policy,” and yet do nothing to solve it? Is this Government, and are we as parliamentarians, to remain mere passive spectators of the stagnation of the Northern Territory, .or are we to boldly face the situation?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I could tell the honorable senator a lot of what South Australia did, for it did a great deal; but, as my time on this occasion is limited, I shall deal with that phase of the subject when the Government’s proposals are before us. I am now urging that something must -be done at once if we are to maintain the security -of the Territory; and, after all, maintaining the security of -the
Territory means maintaining the security of the whole of Australia. The security of the Northern Territory depends on the use we make of it. If we do not make proper use of it - if we do not do what ought to be done to develop and settle it- some other nation will come in and do it in our stead.
That brings me to the question of the North-South railway, which is of very great importance, not only to the State of South Australia, which I represent, but also to the Commonwealth. It is fifteen years since the agreement for the transfer of the Northern Territory was ratified by the Parliaments of the Commonwealth, and South Australia. That agreement imposed upon the Commonwealth an obligation to construct a transcontinental railway line in a north-south direction, to link up Darwin with a point on the present Oodnadatta line. No time for the carrying out of the agreement was mentioned, but the legal construction is that it should be done within a reasonable time. The whole of the line was to be constructed within the Northern Territory and South Australia.
As my time is limited, I shall not be able to say this afternoon all I should like to say regarding the potentialities of the Territory. I can state, however, that the pastoral possibilities of the Territory are very considerable. There is certainly a need for government assistance, particularly in the matter of railway communication and the finding and conserving of water. Regarding railway communication, we hope soon to have the obligation under the 19.10 agreement fulfilled. The Commonwealth Government is doing a lot of useful work at the present time in finding and conserving water along the tracks, but much more will have to be done in the near future. Water can be obtained at almost any place in the Northern Territory. As soon as the railway is built and the country is opened up for sheep as well as cattle, government assistance will be needed to provide loans for fencing and other improvements. Then again, the Territory has great mineral resources. It is known that there are in the Northern Territory gold, silver, lead, copper, iron, tin, mica and opals. When South Australia controlled the Territory it established a battery at
Arltunga, about 70 miles north-east of Alice Springs. While the battery was running 11,672 tons of ore were put through, for a yield of 14,912 ozs. of gold bullion, valued at £55,000 odd, which was equal to £4 17s. 6d. per ton. The ore put through gave a return of 26 dwts. to the ton. With railway communication that would pay handsomely, but not otherwise.
SenatorFoll. - Copper mines alongside railway lines in Queensland are shut down owing to the high cost of production.
It seems to me that very little has been done to bring desirable immigrants from the Old Country. This is due, I believe, to the short-sighted policy of some of the Labour governments now in power.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Because a great deal more was done when liberal governments were in power. For example, when my government was in power in South Australia, it had good immigration schemes - schemes to bring boys and girls to Australia and to use the churches and other similar organizations to bring out families. These projects were’ all working efficiently, but when Labour came into power, it closed down upon them. This is a short-sighted policy, because if we are to retain this country . for ourselves and the Empire, undoubtedly we shall have to develop its resources, and, to do that effectively, we must have an increased population.
There are many other matters in tha Governor-General’s Speech to which I should like to refer, but my time has about expired. I shall deal with them when measures touching them come before the Senate. All I wish to say, in conclusion, is that the policy of the Government as outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s. Speech is a good- practical programme; making provision for the requirements of all sections of the community, and therefore it will have my full and whole-hearted support.
Senator HOARE (South Australia] T3.351. - I should like to congratulate the mover of the motion, Senator Sampson, for his brief, logical, and’ moderate speech. In his references to the immigration policy of the Government he stated that it was useless to endeavor to secure a large increase in population- until we had increased’ our power of absorption. On this subject the honorable senator was merely echoing- the sentiments expressed by Mr. Gullett and Mr. Charlton, the Leader of the Labour party in another place. We say that immigration should be regulated.
– We do not want a repetition of the position that arose in Melbourne a year or two ago when large numbers of people, including many immigrants, were walking about the streets almost starving and nearly destitute of clothing. The Sun- News-Pictorial published photographs of these unfortunate people, marching, down to the office of that newspaper to receive gifts of clothing which had been collected as the result of appeals made through its columns. At that time there were no fewer than 60,000 unemployed in Australia. We do riot want to have a big army of unemployed, and at the same time to be inducing large numbers of people to come to this country to swell the ranks of the workless and unduly increase the population in our metropolitan areas. No country is suffering more than Australia from the evil of centralization. Over 50 per cent, of the entire population is living in the capital cities of the respective States. Many people who came to Australia intending to settle on the land have drifted to our cities, and in many case3 have joined the ranks of the unemployed. . As a party we contend chat the development of closer settlement schemes must go hand in hand with a policy of immigration. My memory carries me back to what was done in South Australia many years ago under closer settlement schemes. Some years ago the well-known Moorak estate at Mount Gambier was a big sheep run employing only a few men all the year round. Following the death of the absentee owner, the estate was cut up for closer settlement, and it now supports about 90 settlers who are engaged in the dairying industry. Counting their wives and families, there are. now on this area about 500 people, as against three or four prior to its subdivision. We must extend this policy of closer settlement, which will lead to the establishment of towns where at present there are none, and to a substantial addition to thepopulation of towns already established. Only in this way can we hope to induce people to get out of the crowded cities and settle in the country districts.
Senator Sampson argued that secondary industries could not be so important to Australia as primary production, because, he said, it was upon our exports that we had chiefly to rely for our wealth. It is difficult to draw a line of demarcation between a secondary and a primary industry . Farm implements in the making come within the category of a secondary industry, but when a. plough is placed upon the soil it immediately becomes part and parcel of primary production. Gur vast railway system is regarded as a secondary industry when it carries farm implements, but when carrying primary produce it is part and parcel of primary producton. I believe that secondary industries in Australia will ultimately become as .great as primary production. If, however, that end is to be achieved, Australian manufacturers will have to become more honest in business than they are todav. Let me be a little more explicit. At the present time -many firms dealing with Australian made wearing apparel are neither honest nor fair to Australian production. Firms such as Robert Reid and Company have been known to tell intending purchasers of cloth, which subsequently has been found to be stamped “ Made in .Australian Woollen Mills,” that it was the best quality of materia:! imported from England. When the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, at the termination df the war, ‘.handled Australian cloth, a suit length -could be purchased for 30s., which returned to the League a profit of ls. ‘6d. a yard. A suit from that material could be made for a ,total cost of from £6 .to £6 10s. On the other hand, a suit made from cloth purchased through Flinders-lane firms cost from £11 to £12. Those firms which mislead the public in regard to Australian manufactures should be punished .
Senator Sampson overlooked one point in his reference to Australia’s exports. “ The following “figures relating to the value of <our exports -and imports disclose a position that should be rectified: -
There is something radically wrong with a system under which imports are so much greater than exports; they should almost balance each other.
– Is it not a. good thing to have an excess of exports ?
– I realize that whilst Australia continues to borrow ^abroad it must have an excess of imports over exports, because we are compelled to take goods of a value ‘Corresponding with the amount of -the loan. This continual excessive borrowing abroad must cease. I am not so foolish as to imagine that Australia can export its surplus production and not take in return goods from the countries to which she sends her produce. I realize that the shipping companies would not send their vessels empty to Australia merely in order to carry away our surplus production. There must be give and take. But I do claim that wc can- dispense with a large part of our imports by borrowing in Australia instead of abroad.
His Excellency’s speech contains the statement that the Government intends to bring about a settlement of industrial disputes by methods of reason rather than of force. It is a well-known fact that that which is won by force can be held only by -force. The Government gave an exhibition of force when it tried to compel the people of Australia to accept the Deportation Act. We who are in the Labour movement said that that act was both morally and legally wrong. The High Court of .Australia did not say that it was morally .wrong, but it did say that it was legally wrong. Doubt has been expressed as to -whether the Government thought that it had the power to deport. I give it ‘the benefit of the doubt. I believe that Ministers were fully under the impression that they could deport these men if the board found them guilty. To my mind there was no doubt about the board doing so. It was appointed for the purpose of finding these men guilty and did so. But the Government failed, in my opinion, in the method adopted. If it had any doubt as to the legality of its amendment of the Immigration Act, it should not have relied on the legal advice at its disposal, but should have asked the High Court to express an opinion upon it before putting the act into force. Instead of doing so, it put the act into force, arrested certain men, and as a result, gave them the right to claim from the Commonwealth a big sum of money by way of compensation, for which the taxpayers will have to foot the bill. All this expense could have been avoided if the opinion of the High Court had first been obtained in the manner I have suggested.
Senator Barwell was absolutely wrong on Friday when he said that the Labour movement was controlled by the trades and labour councils. The trades and labour councils of Australia are comprised of delegates from different affiliated trades unions, but there are many big unions which are not affiliated with any trades or labour council. The Australian Workers’ Union is not so affiliated. Thus one of the biggest unions in Australia is not controlled by any trades and labour council. On the other hand, there are thousands of. people who are members of the Labour party but are not in any union. They belong to the Labour party by virtue of their membership of a local branch of the Australian Labour party. The party is made up of these local branches and affiliated industrial bodies. The distinction between the Australian Labour party and the trades and labour councils is that the former is political and the other industrial in its objects. Reference has been made by honorable senators to the men who are said to be in control of the trades and labour council in New South Wales - the home of the “ red-rag mob.” To be absolutely fair, Senator Barwell should have mentioned that many unions have already withdrawn their affiliation with the trades and labour council in Sydney, because of the revolutionary element in it, and that others have announced their intention of doing so because of the tactics of men like Garden and Co.
Senator Pearce has spoken of revolution. It would be stupidity for any one to force a revolution on the people of Australia. Australians are proud of the fact that they have the broadest franchise in the world. The parliaments of this country are absolutely as the people make them. If the electors are anxious to entrust the control of affairs to any particular party they can elect to parliament the candidates of that party. I claim that, in a democracy, that which cannot be won with the pencil at the ballot-box cannot be won at a barricade. All that those who wish to bring about reform have to do, is to go to the polling booth and mark a ballot-paper. If the people do not wish that, then they must accept the alternative.
– They did not wish it on the last occasion of an appeal to the country.
– On that occasion the electors were stampeded by the statements of those opposed to us in politics.
– Do not reflect on the intelligence of the electors.
– By and by, perhaps, when the people have gone through a period of calm reflection they will realize that the things which were said about the Labour movement were not quite the truth. I repeat that, in Australia, the electors have full power to elect the members of any Parliament, and to give a majority to any particular party. It is for the electors to say who shall administer their affairs. Are we then to submit to government by the parliaments of Australia elected by the people, or are we to be governed by a few individuals who may be attempting to secure control? My answer is that we should be governed by the Parliaments of Australia, and not by the “ red-raggers.” As we are a democracy, we must be ruled by the majority, and not by a minority. I should say that the people, as a whole, desire to be governed by the Parliaments of Australia, which they have a 7,An,1 in making, and that, it is their duty to take the trouble to go to the polling booths and record votes for persons who they think are best fitted to represent them in those Parliaments.
– Did the honorable senator talk that way during the election?
– On every platform on which I spoke I said what I am saying now. On the other hand, if the Government had paid Walsh and his satellites £1,000,000 each, they would not have overpaid them for the services they rendered to the Ministerial party during the election.
– They were good friends to us.
– They were the best organizer’s the Liberal-National Union has ever had. Ministers and their supporters had no need to do more than address one or two meetings in big centres. They could have saved the hundreds of thousands spent Joy their party during the election.
– The honorable senator should have realized that earlier.
– I did. Walsh and company supplied the ammunition and the Ministerial party used it.
– We should be very ungrateful if we deported them after that.
– It was never intended to deport them. So well did the actions of these men dovetail with the wishes of the Government that it looked as if it was a frame-up. Everything fitted in so neatly. If these men had not caused the bother they did, thus making tha pathway of the Liberal-National Federation so easy, in all probability the result would have been different. Senator Barwell says that these men, who were causing all the trouble, and knew perfectly well that they were fighting the Labour movement, were supporting Labour- candidates.
– I said that members of the Labour party were supporting these men.
– The honorable senator also said that we were receiving ‘support from them. Could any one imagine for a moment that these men were on the side of Labour when they brought about an internationl industrial upheaval which could not have been settled in Australia, and never should have occurred here, where there was .no jurisdiction to settle it? The seamen were ill-advised. How in the name of fortune could they have hoped to be successful in striking 14,000 miles away from the place where there was jurisdiction to settle it? Employers and employees, so far apart, could not possibly understand one another. It is hard enough for the parties to an industrial upheaval in Australia to understand one another. These men were, I repeat,’ ill-advised, and in my humble opinion the strike should not have occurred in Australia. Senator Barwell says that we were helping Walsh and company. Inasmuch as they were involved in the deportation business, to which we were opposed lon; principle, we certainly were helping them, but to that extent only. We had no brief for Walsh and his satellites. The Labour movement stands for arbitration whereas these men whom Senator Barwell and others say we were standing behind are bitterly opposed to it. Arbitration is part of our platform whereas Mr. Walsh said that the sooner it was abolished the better it would be for the workers of Australia. I disagree with him in that regard. We know that our arbitration law is not a perfect piece of machinery. There is room for improvement. We realize that arbitration proceedings are too prolonged and too costly to the unions; but do Mr. Walsh and others who want to do away with arbitration recognise that every strike, great or small, is settled either by arbitration or conciliation ? In the end - no matter how long a strike has continued the men have to meet the employers to settle the conditions under which they will return to work, and that is, after all, only a form of arbitration for the settlement of disputes. I claim that arbitration is the bulwark of the upkeep of the standard of wages in Australia. We have no fear of any influx of immigrants lowering the rates of wages, because the law prescribes that every employer must pay the rate of wages determined by an arbitration court. If we revert to that condition of affairs which existed prior to arbitration and have no fixed rates of wages there will be nothing legal to bind employers to pay certain rates of wages or to prevent employees from offering their services at reduced rates of wages. Therefore the adoption of . a system of arbitration was one of ‘ Australia’s finest achievements. We know what occurred in days gone by. I suppose that the Brisbane tramway strike of 1912 was one of the biggest industrial disputes Australia has ever seen. If my memory serves me right the men went out on strike because the tramway company refused them the right to wear a union badge. The strike struggled on with week after week of starvation for the men, and in the end 480 of them who had been dismissed were unable to secure employment again in the Brisbane tramway, service. Then we had the great railway strike in New South Wales in, I think, 1917. A number of the men concerned lost their jobs and never recovered them. They even lost their homes. Some of them were deprived of almost every stick in their homes. Their goods had to be taken to pawn-shops, and sold, to enable them to buy clothing for their families. In some cases their wives’ wedding rings had to be pawned to buy bread.
– Those men refused to maintain the necessary services, and prevented supplies being sent to the troops overseas in the late war.
– 1 am not discussing that aspect of the matter. My point is that arbitration is desirable in preference to direct action.
– That strike occurred two years before the war began.
– The honorable senator spoke of 1917.
– It was in 1912.
– Tes, in the same year as the tramways strike.
– Now the loyalists are being penalized by the State Labour Government.
– If the strikers had resorted to arbitration, there would have been no loss of work, and no sacrifice of dignity. I claim that arbitration is the best and the right method for the settlement of industrial disputes. It is not even necessary to go as far as the Arbitration Court, for the men have the privilege of adopting conciliation, which is generally the first step taken.
An excellent illustration of perfect understanding between employer and employee is furnished by the relationship between the tramway men and the Tramways Trust in South Australia. In the first place a basic wage was fixed, and both parties accepted the principle of adjustment of wages on a sliding scale according to the rise and fall in the .price of commodities. Wages are thus ‘fixed automatically, and there is -no need to appeal to the Arbitration Court. There is no payment of big fees to lawyers; the tramway men in South Australia have saved thousands of pounds in legal expenses, which other unions in the Commonwealth have had to pay. There has been no stoppage of work, and the relations between the Trust and its employees have always been amicable. Furthermore, the Trust collects the union fees from the employees, and pays them over by cheque ‘to the secretary of the union - a model method of procedure. There is no such thing as one man “ scabbing “-on another by accepting the privileges of unionism ‘without contributing his share towards its cost. It would be beneficial if the practice I have described were generally adopted.
Industrial extremists assert that the Labour party’s methods are out of date, and that it will never -te ach its goa’l by constitutional means. The conservative -extremists, on the other hand, claim ‘that members of the Labour party ‘are socialists, and wish to go too far. Thus, between the two extreme views, the party is slandered from one end of Australia to the other.
– How does the honorable senator account for the fact .that the people of Australia have not adopted his line of “thought since 1910 1
– The political pendulum is always swinging from one side of politics to the other. How does the honorable senator explain the fact ‘that there is a Labour Government in office in every State in Australia except ‘Victoria?
– The pendulum has swung only one way, so far ‘as the Commonwealth Parliament is concerned in 1-4 Years
– At the election prior to the recent appeal it ..swung decisively towards (Labour, and it was the Walsh element that sent it in -the opposite direction on the last occasion. If the British seamen’s strike had not occurred when it did, there would, I think, have been a big increase in the number of labour men returned to this Chamber. The number of Labour Governments in the various States proves that public sympathy has turned towards Labour.
– There was no Walsh element iu the other elections from. 1910 onwards.
– Labour lost political control owing to circumstances arising in connexion with the late war, but it was in office from 1910 to 1913, and was again in power shortly after war was declared in 1914. I have never made any boast that Labour’s .numbers would be strengthened. Public opinion is fickle, and one never knows what may cause it to change.
It was stated by Senator Barwell that the greater the immigration to Australia the greater would be the volume of employment here. If that is so, why - as I have previously asked - is there so much destitution among nations that number hundreds of millions? GreatBritain has a population of 45,000,000, and why is it so anxious to get rid of its 1,500,000 unemployed by packing them off to Australia? If numbers alone bring about progress and good conditions for the people, then the countries with the largest populations should be the most attractive to the working classes. India and China should be a paradise on earth.
– Does the honorable senator believe in the Malthusian doctrine for the restriction of population?
– No. The honorable senator should not make such a suggestion. I have six bonny Australians in my home, and I am proud of them.
I think that Senator Sir Henry Barwell was honest in his statement concerning coloured labour. I have before me a book entitled “ A White Australia, - Is it Possible?” This work was dedicated, by his permission to “The Honor able Henry Newman Barwell, Premier of South Australia, who is the acknowledged principal advocate of coloured settlement in tropical Australia.”
– That is a distinction I have never claimed - an honour thrust upon me.
– The author says that the dedication was by permission of the honorable senator.
– He cabled to me from London to know whether he could dedicate a book to me, and I replied “ Yes.”
-I give the honorable senator credit for having always stood by the principles advocated by him. He said some time ago that a number of people who belonged to the same political party as himself held views similar to his own concerning the Northern Territory, but were not frank enough to express them. That was truthful, for my mind carries me back to the time when a number of men in South Australia were strong advocates of the employment of coloured labour, but have now dropped the cry since it has become unpopular.
– Many of them still express a doubt upon the subject, but that does not mean that they are not White Australians, all the same.
– At that particular period, at any rate, they were not. Returning to the persons who are termed revolutionaries, I do not think that these men would advocate revolution. If they did, they would be very stupid indeed, because how could a handful of men, such as they, possibly bring about a revolution in Australia? There would be no necessity for it. We are not living in Russia, but in a country where all have the right to say who shall represent them in parliament. When the people are prepared to accept ameasure of reform, they will do so, but all the extremists in Australia would be unable to force them to accept it if it were objectionable to them. There is no place for extremists on either side of politics. In my opinion, both are wrong, and both are a menace to progress. The revolutionaries wish to make a short cut to reform, and claim that the official Labour party’s methods are too slow. Reform can only be accomplished by increasing the knowledge of the people. That is the safe way, and in my humble opinion the only way. After all, we must rely for progress upon the education of the people. We, of the Labour movement, who are accused of being too slow, can get some consolation from the facts of history. We can look back to the first Socialist the world knew and trace the history of the movement from Confucius to Socrates, from Socrates to Plato, from Plato to Christ. After Christ we come to Wat Tyler, John Ball, Sir Thomas More, Robert Owen, William Lloyd Garrison, and other fine men. The world passed from savagedom to serfdom, and from serfdom to wagedom; from the stone age it went to the bronze age, and from the bronze age to the iron age. We have passed through those phases of development to reach our present condition. I recognize that it is a long way from the den to the mansion, from the savage to the scientist, from the fallen tree across the stream to the suspension bridge, from the club to the legislature, from fear to reason, from the floating log to the steamship,and from appearance to fact. Yet mankind has travelled the whole of that distance. Many victories have been won for the right, and men have lived, laboured and died in the cause of their fellow men. Step by step they have made their way, and step by step we must make our way in the future. We must rely upon the education of the people - that is the only thing that can safely reform this old world. If we travel on these lines we shall not go one step forward to-day and two steps backward to-morrow. What we gain we shall hold, because behind us will be the will of the majority of the people. We on this side of the chamber recognize, as do honorable senators opposite, that education is knowledge, and that knowledge is power. Power means victory, victory means progress, and progress means the breaking down of the barriers that imprison the souls and lives of mankind. By those methods I trust that we of the Labour movement will go forward and reach the goal for which we are striving.
– I shall not add very much to this debate, because most of the subjects mentioned in His Excellency’s Speech will be dealt with in subsequent legislation. There are in that Speech, however, one or two matters that particularly interest me, and I wish to mention, also, one or two subjects that are not included in the Speech. It is the expressed intention of the Government to devote a substantial sum of money to the making of roads, and to provide wire netting for settlers. The Government finds itself with a large surplus, and has employed this method of returning the money to the States. I doubt whether a better method could be found. Perhaps the Government should not have taken so much money from the States, and should have allowed the States to collect more of it. I hope that in making this grant the Government will not do as it did in the past, and attach unreasonable conditions to it. I do not wish to go into the matter deeply at the present time, because there will shortly be a conference of Federal and State Ministers on the subject. The conditions attached to these grants in the past have not, in my State, resulted in the money being spent where it would do the most good. In one case a very large sum of money was spent in the deviation of a road, and no one can now see the work without feeling sorry that the money was not spent where it would do more good. The Government should recognize that this grant is the return of money to the States, and should allow them to spend it in any way they like, provided it is spent on roads. If any complaint is made at the present time, the reply is that it is a Federal grant, and the suggestion is that in that circumstance nothing matters. If we complain to the Federal Government, we are told, with perfect truth, that the States must have agreed to the expenditure. It is almost impossible to sheet home the responsibility for the spending of the money. The States all have roads boards, municipal councils, shire councils, and works departments. They understand local conditions, and can spend the money very much better than a central directing authority. I hope that, as a result of the forthcoming’ conference, which will deal with the allocation of £20,000,000 in a period of ten years, the State authorities will be given the privilege and saddled with the responsibility of spending the money to the best advantage.
I doubt whether any money could be spent to better advantage than the £3,000,000 proposed to be used in providing wire netting for settlers. Rabbits are the worst curse we have in Australia, and there is one way, which can be applied only in restricted areas, of coping with them. Although wire netting has been made available, it is extremely dimcult to obtain it from the State Governments, because of the conditions attached to the grant by the Federal Government. One condition was that the State Governments should be responsible for the return of the money. Consequently, the State Governments had to obtain some sort of security. Sonne of the States asked for mortgages, bills of sale, and so on. In small areas, especially in Tasmania, the average quantity of wire netting required by a settler does not amount to more than a mile. There are large estates that erect many miles of rabbit-proof fencing, but for the small farmers, for whom this grant is intended, probably an average of one mile would be sufficient. The value of a mile of netting is from £40 to £50, and for such a small sum a farmer cannot mortgage his property. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) said on one occasion that he intended this money to be a grant to the States, to be used again for the same purpose after its return. The Government should give the money to the States and place upon them the responsibility of collecting it where they can. The States should be allowed the privilege and responsibility of spending it as they like. That would be better than attaching a condition that makes it difficult for the poor man to obtain netting. I know several small farms in my State which, as a result of being netted, have had their carrying capacity doubled. No class of person in the community needs help, more than the farmer to-day, and the best way to help him is to provide wire netting on the most reasonable terms possible.
I wish to refer to another matter which, although it may appear small, may have far-reaching consequences. I allude to the senseless rumour that has gained currency in England about arsenic on apples. I do not know where it originated.
-brockman. - Probably American propaganda.
– That may be so. It is quite likely the result of propaganda by our competitors. Australian orchardists have been using arsenical sprays for more than twenty years, and any one who has had any experience in that business knows that the solutions are so weak that one would need to eat a bushel of apples to obtain a decent tonic. I have seen apples almost white with the spray thrown out to stock, which have experienced no harmful effects. Arsenic is the only known remedy for the codlin moth. Before arsenate of lead was used various other means were employed which, under present conditions of labour, an orchardist could not possibly consider. The Director of Horticulture in Victoria (Mt. Ward) said the other day that if orchardists were prevented from using arsenical sprays the fruit crop would be reduced in a few years by 50 per cent. I do not think that overstates the case. If a mandate was issued prohibiting harmless arsenical sprays I believe that applegrowing in Australia would become a thing of the past. The Commonwealth Government should investigate this matter and have a reliable test made with a view to determining whether any harmful results are likely ‘to follow the use of arsenical sprays. I am quite sure what the verdict would be. A spray three or four times as strong as is used in a commercial orchard could be employed without any harmful consequences. Having made such a test, the Government could authorize the High Commissioner to give the result the fullest publicity. This may seem a small matter, but if there is a public scare relating to apples sprayed with arsenic, Australian applegrowers will suffer. The- apple-growers in Tasmania have had a very bad time for some years. They have suffered more than any other landed producer. During the war they could not obtain sea freight, and later, when ships were available, they experienced bad seasons. The past two or three seasons have been good, and fair prices have been obtained.
Now, when the outlook is improving, the growers are faced with what looks like a catastrophe. I hope that the. Government will take the matter up seriously and carry out my suggestion.
There is a reference in His Excellency’s Speech to a bill for an Act to amend the Navigation Act in the direction of providing better transport facilities for Tasmania. Any one who travels to Tasmania, regularly or casually, must come to the conclusion that the best transport facilities that can be provided are not too good. A proposal to amend the Navigation Act, having for its object an improvement in the shipping facilities between Tasmania and the mainland, will come before us during the session. I shall not discuss that now but should like to remind the Government that the apple boats will be running in about a month from now, so it is essential that no time should be lost in amending the act. A shipping committee in Hobart has gone into the matter very thoroughly, and has furnished suggested amendments to the Government. These, I hope, will receive the fullest consideration when’ the amending legislation is under review.
Another important matter which I desire to impress upon the Government is the establishment of an air service to Tasmania, which is the only State of the Commonwealth that does not participate in the Government grant for air services. There is not the slightest doubt that an air service to Tasmania by flying boats is eminently practicable. The distance from Melbourne to Launceston is only about 250 or 260 miles but, as people do not care to travel great distances over the water, although flying over water is as safe as over land, it may be necessary to increase the mileage. One route suggested is from Melbourne to Cape Otway, thence over King Island to Burnie, and on to Launceston, a distance of 380 miles. This route would occupy 4 hours, but the flying boat would not at any time, be more than 30 miles from land. Another route which, I believe, has been surveyed, is via Wilson’s Promontory to Flinders Island, and thence down the east coast of Tasmania to Hobart, a distance of 470 or 480 miles. Again, the flying boat would not be more than 30 miles from land. The establishment of an air service to Tasmania would only give that State what it deserves - the best system of transport for passengers and mails. It would be within the reach of most people, as the fares each way would, I understand, .be £5 or £6. This service would also assist in the- development of the Kent Group and Flinders Islands, which are very rich from a productive point of view. King Island to the west is also very rich. All these islands are capable of very great development. Some of them will carry three or four sheep to the acre in their natural state, and they are also suitable for the production of early fruits and vegetables, as well as for horticultural and pastoral purposes. They are really rich and valuable islands, and it is only because, up to the present, they have been so isolated that they have not been properly developed. The only means of communication is by a small steamer over rough seas. I visited Flinders Island not long ago, and I remember that the return trip to Launceston occupied 27 hours. Although a flying boat costs twice a3 much as an ordinary aeroplane, the cost per mile, I believe, is not any greater and it will not be necessary -to prepare landing grounds or build aerodromes as in the case of flying machines along inland routes. I am informed that an air service to Tasmania, using flying boats could be started within six months of the contract being signed, and I believe that the routes have been surveyed. I hope that no time will be lost in inaugurating the service. These flying ships carry six passengers. They are flying ‘ hourly between England and France with great success. Tasmania has always suffered from her geographical position, so I trust that the Government will give this proposal serious consideration. It will be one means of bringing us closer together, and helping Tasmania. The policy of the Government, as outlined in the Speech, is a very good one, and will make for the advancement of Australia. I do not propose to deal with those matters that have been so fully debated by honorable senators who .have preceded me. As honorable senators know, I have a very decided opinion concerning our industrial problems. I stand behind the Government in any endeavour to bring about industrial peace, and to punish, in a fitting manner, those who are endeavouring to prevent it.
.-I congratulate the mover of the motion (Senator Sampson) upon his very admirable speech. I trust that, during the coming session^ we shall have the pleasure of listening to other speeches’ from that honorable gentleman. I am entirely in accord with the Government’s proposal concerning the need to safeguard the health of the community. Something should be done to test the Spahlinger, or any other approved method for the treatment of tubercular cases, especially in the mining industry. Up to the present the Government has not dealt as effectively with that problem as it might have done. The disease is very prevalent in the auriferous belt on the eastern gold-fields of Western Australia, where it is taking heavy toll of the mining, community. Any money spent in combating its ravages will receive the hearty endorsement of the people of Australia.
– The trouble is that Mr. Spahlinger will not give us an opportunity to test his treatment.
– I believe that up to the present Mr. Spahlinger has not placed all his cards on the table, but I understand that already about £40,000 has been collected in England to assist him in his laboratory work. I know of people who, after having been compelled to give up their, ordinary occupations, have been able,, after- undergoing the Spahlinger treatment, to return to their accustomed avocations, apparently cured. This occupational disease is not confined to auriferous mines in .Western Australia. It is prevalent also in the mining areas of other states, including the lead mines in Broken Hill. If it is possible to take prompt measures for the treatment of men suffering from fibrosis, pneumonoconiosis, and filially tuberculosis, and other occupational diseases, the lives of many miners can be saved’. If the disease, is treated in time, the men’s health may be sufficiently restored to enable them to work perhaps at other occupations for many years in support of their wives and families. If, on the other hand, nothing is done, men contracting the disease soon die. In view of the seriousness of the position, the Government’s proposals are a step in the right direction. The scourge of cancer, so we are informed, is spreading rapidly throughout, not only Australia, but the civilized world. Scientists are spending’ thousands of .pounds df their own money, and giving many years of their valuable time to the study of these very grave problems. Senator Lynch knows as well as I do that, although men may have no trace of consumption when they start work in some of the mines on the auriferous belt in “Western Australia, they develop the disease in from- 12 to 15 months, and unless they receive prompt treatment they are doomed to an early death. It is encouraging to know that the Government is alive to the danger, and has established laboratories for a thorough scientific investigation of these problems. It is a step in the right direction.
I support the proposal of the Governmnent to provide £6,000,000 for the extension of postal,, telegraphic, and telephonic communication. Such extension is necessary to enable the group settlements in Western Australia to- keep in close touch with the main centres of population. Until quite recently persons who were stricken with sickness had to be ‘taken to hospital in a spring dray, and frequently death occurred on the journey. I should like Senators Pearce and Lynch ‘to use their influence with the Government to secure greater ‘facilities than are now provided.
– The conditions have been very greatly liberalized recently.
– I believe that they have ; but while the grass is growing the- horse is dying. I should like action to be taken quickly.
His Excellency’s Speech deals with the overseas marketing of our primary produce. I agree with Senator J. B. Hayes that sufficient is not being done to secure the proper marketing of our fruit in England. Recently complaint was made in regard to the arsenical spraying of Tasmanian apples.
– No. The complaint was in regard to the American apple, not apples that were sent from Australia.
– According to the press it was the Australian apple.
– Not at all.
– Fruit ‘from trees ‘that are sprayed in -the earlier stages of their growth would not contain sufficient arsenic to poison a fly.
– There was a case df poisoning from an American apple. That was due to the fact that the Americans put the spray on in a dry state. It was suggested subsequently that there might be a danger of poisoning from Australian, apples, but it was pointed out that there could b be no such’ danger.
– Complaint has been made in regard to the quality of a consignment of Australian canned fruit. There must be something wrong with the method of inspection when fruit from Australia, that is picked and canned under expert supervision, compares unfavorably with Californian canned fruit. I believe that fruit which is canned in Bendigo and Melbourne compares more than favorably with that which is canned in California. Apparently an endeavour is being made to hinder the marketing of our fruits in England. Senator Wilson, upon his return from London, informed us ‘that there was a decided boycott there of the Australian article. -It is the duty of the Government to see that our fruits reach the overseas markets in good condition, and properly labelled. Senator Wilson related instances of improper labelling. That may occur once in a while, but should not be the experience in relation to a whole consignment. Large sums have been spent in the effort to capture the London market for Australian butter, but up to the time that Senator Wilson visited Wembley it was impossible to buy a pound of Australian butter in London, because it was used to sweeten butter produced in other countries. That is not the case to-day. If our goods do not reach the overseas markets in a proper condition, there must be something wrong with the methods adopted either at home or abroad.
The Government has graciously consented to make a grant of £450,000 to Western Australia.
– Western Australia is lucky j Tasmania cannot get such a grant.
– Tasmania has had from the Commonwealth a much larger sum than that. The royal commission that investigated the disabilities of Western Australia recommended the grant of £450,000. The Treasurers of the different States are to decide whether any further grant shall be made. We know the feeling against Western Australia that exists in the eastern States, and it is, therefore, unfair to allow the Treasurers of those States to decide such a matter.
– It is not to be left to the eastern States to make the decision.
– My statement is based upon a paragraph that I have read in a report. I trust that the Government will assist Western Australia in the best possible way. From time to time it has given innumerable bonuses, bounties and grants for different purposes, but when the mining industry in Western Australia sought a grant to tide it over a period of depression, it became as close as the proverbial oyster. During the war it took from that industry £3,000,000, to which it was not entitled.
– What for?
– To prosecute the war. It did not pay back one penny of that sum; yet, when it was asked what had become of the profit that it made from the sale of the gold, it said that all it had got was £11,000. Never in the history of the industry has there been greater need for assistance than at the present time. Although the speech contains no reference to the intention of the Government, I trust that the Western Australian representatives amongst Government supporters will see that action is taken to stimulate the industry.
– - The trouble ia that the mines are getting poorer, is it not?
– There is no more foundation for that assumption than there is for the assumption that the Tasmanian apple is afflicted with black spot. Money to open up the mines -must be provided by the Government that robbed the industry during the war period.
– Did the Government not pay for the gold that it commandeered ?
– No; it made enormous profits on the gold so commandeered.
Although Senator Sir Henry Barwell, in his speech, dealt with the
Northern Territory, he did not say whether, or not, he made the statements which have been attributed to him in regard to black labour. I should like to know from him what the State of South Australia did to develop the Northern Territory during the period of its control. The Commonwealth Go:vernment has spent millions of pounds there, and is prepared to spend many more millions.
– South Australia did not spend a penny in the Northern Territory.
– Nothing will be gained by settling people in the Northern Territory without adequate communication facilities. The Government should not allow it to be peopled with a black, brown, or brindle population. I am satisfied that white people can live there. Senator Pearce has stated that even those persons who come from the coldest climates of the Old World can live and thrive in the Northern Territory. I believe that statement to be correct. Thousands of ounces of gold have been carted upon the backs of black gins from the places in the Territory where they have been won. That is nothing short of a scandal. Railway and other communication is required to open up the interior of Australia. Judicious expenditure is necessary. It is quite possible for another Bonanza to be found there. Whilst there is such a great distance between the railhead and the fields, it will be impossible to work them profitably, because of the high freight charges, which amount to between £40 and £50 a ton. The Government also states that it intends to spend millions of money in the north. I trust that there will be something to show for it. I hope that this great country will be opened up by a railway and that the settlers will be provided with fencing and wire netting and whatever is necessary to help them carry on the breeding of cattle. Senator Pearce .told us that rice can be grown in the north. He rather feared that, if a Japanese force invaded the Territory it could grow rice there and thus have sufficient to live on without requiring the conveyance of any other means of sustenance. If the country will grow rice for the Japanese, it will grow rice for the whites, and if there is gold there that can be obtained by blacks it can be obtained by whites. If there is anything in the Territory in sufficient quantity to provide employment for white people, the Government is not doing its duty if it does not provide means of communication to enable these wealthy lands to be opened up. Adjacent Queensland territory would also benefit by the building of railways necessary for the development of the Northern Territory. I have not visited that portion of Australia, but at the first opportunity I intend to do so. I am satisfied to accept the picture drawn by Senator Pearce. No man in his position would draw such a picture if it were not absolutely correct. If the land produces the minerals mentioned, it must be a valuable asset, to Australia in time to come.
If we must have immigrants, it will be useless bringing them here and settling them on a barren waste where they will be unable, to make a living or settling them on good country where they can get a living if they cannot get rid of the produce they grow. If the potentialities of the great north are half what they are represented to be, there is room in Australia for millions more people. But immigrants should not be brought here to starve or to work on farms when they are not accustomed to agricultural work. Above all, they should not be brought here to take the place of others or to lower Australian rates of wages. No honorable senator wants to see that. If we are to spend an enormous sum of money on immigration, we must see that proper arrangements are made. In many instances, immigration schemes in various parts of Australia, including West ern Australia, nave not turned out to be all that was expected of them. I suppose that most countries find it impossible to make things absolutely perfect from the commencement. We benefit by experience; but while we are gaining that experience, some poor devil is starving and homeless. We must do the right thing when we bring people to a strange land.
There are other matters to which I should like to refer, but as the Government has announced its intention of bringing down amendments to the arbitration law and legislation dealing with industrial unionism, I shall defer my remarks on those subjects until a later date. I have nothing further to add in regard to His Excellency’s Speech, except to say that I was very pleased, indeed, at the able manner in which Senator
Sampson moved the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
– I listened with great interest to the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, and was very pleased to note the moderation displayed by them just at the conclusion of the most disgraceful election campaign Australia has ever witnessed. The campaign was conducted in a mostdiscreditable manner by a certain section of the community. It was won by a confidence trick. When he was out on the hustings, the Prime Minister did not announce any policy. The election cry was the names of the two men we heard repeated time after time last session by Senator Guthrie. The people of Australia were fooled by all sorts of literature. One cartoon issued contained a map of Australia with two flags in the centre, one a torn and ragged red flag, and the other the Australian flag. The cartoon bore the legend, “ Which is it to be? You must decide this on the 14th November, at the ballot-box.” If that was the issue at the election, there were more disloyalists in Australia than I thought there were. Labour throughout the States accounted for nearly half the total votes polled. It was an insult to publish such a lying disreputable thing as this cartoon. The issue was not what it represented it to be. Labour does not stand for the red flag. It has always stood for the Australian flag.
-brockman. - Then why does the honorable senator and his party sing “ The Red Flag “ so often, even within the precincts of this Parliament?
– Is the honorable senator’s mind so small that he thinks that because a few men may sing a chorus, it amounts to anything? I do not know the words of “ The Red Flag.” I know the song has a lilt. As a matter of fact, I have heard bands playing it.
– How does the tune go?
– It is very good of honorable senators to listen to me speaking, but I am sure they would not listen to me singing, and I would not attempt to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the Senate by doing anything of the kind.
The mover of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply said, “ We want an effective solution of industrial trouble.” Labour has it. It is industrial arbitration. Labour stands for industrial arbitration, and is seeking to perfect it. It knows that the present law can be improved, and its aim is to improve it. When our friends opposite say that we do not stand for industrial arbitration, they are making a statement which is not true. Labour stands to-day, as it has always stood, for industrial arbitration and conciliation. Honorable senators in the Labour party know what strikes mean. Any one who has taken an interest in or studied the industrial movement in this or any other country must have come to the conclusion that a strike does no good to any section of the community. That is why Labour has had industrial arbitration and conciliation on its platform for many years. We are prepared to help any Government to frame legislation for the promotion of industrial peace, and to try to make industrial trouble impossible. Of course, if some irresponsible individual makes some extraordinary statement which is opposed to Labour’s policy, it is broadcast all over Australia, but if a sane, sensible speech is made by some Labour leader it is never broadcast.
SenatorOgden. -Mine was.
– Yes, and a most irresponsible statement it was. Any irresponsible statement will always be broadcast.
– It was not the statement of a Labour leader.
– No; we do not look upon Senator Ogden as a Labour leader. He is still a member of the Labour party-
– Which is doubtful.
– For which he never votes, but still we do not look upon him as a Labour leader. Unfortunately, this Senate is going to lose the services of a well-recognized Labour leader in Australia in the person of Senator Gardiner. I regard it as a national loss, because Senator Gardiner is a big man in politics and in the industrial field. He has been an ornament to this , Parliament, and would be an ornament to any other legislative body. He is a Labour leader. Has
SenatorOgden ever heard Senator Gardiner urge strikes or industrial unrest?
– I have never heard him condemn them.
– Senator Gardiner has said here on many occasions that he stands for industrial arbitration and conciliation.
– He also stood on the same platform as a man named Donald Grant.
– The honorable senator is referring to a man who is a member of the Labour party, and signed the Labour party’s platform, which embraces arbitration.
– He was formerly a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.
– You were a member of the Labour party at one time, and twisted.
– No, I have not twisted .
– You said in this senate that a man had a right to change his mind. I suppose you have a right to change your mind, but no one else has.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) . -The honorable senator must address the Chair..
– He must reply to an interjection.
– He can do it quite effectively by addressing the Chair.
– I shall do so. I do not wish to fall foul of you, Mr. President, because I understand that you : are vacating theChair at the end ofthe next six months, and I want your good wishes when you retire. It is unfair -to saddle the great Labourmovementwith the charge that it is in league with traitors. I am satisfied that the people have spoken. I like a fair fight, with all the cards on the table. We know that on this occasion we have been, for the time being, defeated, but later we shall be victorious. In the natural sequence of events Labour will regain control of the Federal Parliament. When that will be, of course, no one can say. But I feel it very keenly, as a native of Australia who has a great love of his country, that I should be branded as one who is in league with traitors. Senator Sir Henry Barwell said the other day that we were the. friends of these traitors.
I deny it. We are not the friends of any traitors. I said during the last Parliament that, if a. man breaks the law of this country, he should be dealt with in this country, no matter who he is, whether he be an industrial leader or a political leader of either side of politics. Surely we should be big enough in this country to deal with the people who break our own laws? That is all I ask for. But I do not think it is in keeping with Australian sentiment or feeling to send a man away for other people to deal Avith, and for us to admit that we are not big enough to deal with him in Australia.
– Would the honorable senator have sent Puddifoot out of Australia for killing that little boy in New South Wales? “Senator McHUGH. - There are laws in New South Wales to deal with such a’ man. He could be hanged or put in gaol for life for an offence like that.
– Would the honorable senator send him away from Australia 1
– No. Why should he be given his liberty and sent to another country where he might repeat the offence ? It is suggested that we should saddle France or some other country with our criminals ?
– A Labour man would send him back to England.
– I am not responsible for what any Labour man may suggest. I say again that if a person breaks the law of this country he should be dealt with according to its laws.
– The Labour Government in New South Wales wanted to have the man deported - returned to Great Britain.
– Did the Premier of New South Wales ask the Commonwealth Government to deport the man ?
– The New South Wales Minister for Justice asked that he be deported under our immigration law, because he had been convicted of a criminal offence.
– How long had he been here ?
– Two or three years.
– Why did- this Government allow that type of man to enter the country ? It wants to deport some men who have committed no offence, whilst others are admitted into Australia without sufficient inquiry being made as to their history.
– This man had no criminal record. He had only committed this one offence.
– It was stated by Senator Sampson that Australia could not absorb more suitable settlers until our markets were extended. With that opinion I entirely agree. We have heard lately about what the Government has done to develop new markets, but the primary producers say that they are still finding it difficult to market their goods. I hope that the Government will endeavour to open up new markets, particularly for our fruits, for we know that many of the growers on soldier settlements are finding it hard to make both ends meet. In South Australia, for instance, the capital value of the land allotted to returned men will have to be considerably written down. A commission that has inquired into the matter considers that something over £2,000,000 will have o be written off the capital value. It is, of course, a very serious matter. The money was borrowed at 5, 5 , and 6 per cent. The interest will have to be paid, but the soldiers cannot shoulder the burden, because they cannot obtain payable prices for their fruit. This is a matter of national concern which I hope the Government will investigate. If’ these men cannot obtain markets for their produce they will have to walk off the land, with the inevitable result that the capital value will eventually have to be considerably, written” down.
There are certain matters in the Governor-General’s Speech which call for some comment. With the statement that the people of Australia are determined to maintain law and order X heartily agree. Generally speaking, the people of this country are the most law abiding in the world. There is very little disorder in Australia. Occasionally there are outbreaks of disorder, but it may be said that the people, by and large, stand for the upholding of law and order. The Labour party is prepared to make every individual in the community obey the laws of the country.
– Is that why the Labour Government in New South Wales refused to administer a Commonwealth act?
– The New South Wales Government said that it had cer- tain rights over its citizens, and it would not allow its police force to be used in carrying out a law which, in its opinion - and it has since been upheld by the High Court - was ultra vires. The Lang Ministry said that it would not allow its civil police to be parties to a breach of the laws of the country.
– Is that what was said in Western Australia, too ?
– I presume so. Labour governments are sane. They comprise men of intelligence who are desirous of doing the right thing in this young country.
I am glad to note that the Government is gradually giving effect to some of the principles for which Labour has been fighting for many years. It is now talking even of child endowment, which has been a plank of the Labour party’s platform for years, and I hope that the Government will give effect to it. It is essential in a young country like Australia to have some scientific system of child endowment.
I do not propose to discuss health measures at length. I suppose we shall have an opportunity later to deal with the report of the royal commission on national health, which, I think, will be very valuable. I understand that it is not yet printed.
– It is on the way.
– There is one thing which I suggest might be done. It is the considered opinion of many medical men that tuberculosis, if taken in the early stages, may be arrested, and the patient, possibly, cured. I draw attention to the fact that worry is often the cause of the patient’s death. If a working man contracts tuberculosis, and goes into a sanitarium, his wife and family may be left without any means of support. I suggest to the Government that it would be well to consider some scheme whereby a person proved to be tubercular might be sent to a sanitorium, and a subsistence allowance be provided for his wife and family. This would be in the interests of the general community. A great deal has been done in the various States in the last ten years to prevent the increase of tuberculosis, and I make this suggestion as a further means of checking it.
The subject of the Northern Territory should be of interest to all citizens. I do not propose to traverse the ground that has already been covered. The North-South line, I am glad to understand, will be put in hand some time this year. There are differences of opinion as to the best route to adopt. Personally, I should like to see the line built from Kingoonya to Alice Springs, because this would open more good country than if the connexion were made at Oodnadatta. As the Government is in favour of a standard gauge, I prefer the line to begin at Kingoonya, and it may be possible, later, to link it up with other railway systems which are of the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. This route would lead to the opening up of a great deal of pastoral land. I still hold the view that there are some men who hold too much land, and if the interior of Australia is to be settled some of them will have to unload. The Anna Creek and Strangways Springs stations comprise 6,000 square miles. When the landwas held by Messrs. Hogarth and Warren some 60,000 sheep were shorn annually. But, to-day, on these stations, only about 1,500 head of cattle and a number of wild horses are to be found. There is room for more than one settler on that large tract of country. The same lessee holds an immense area in South Australia. A person has no right to occupy a large lease of this description, unless he is prepared to put the land to its best use.
SenatorFoll. - Stocking and improvement conditions are imposed by the leases.
– But they are not enforced. A fight is now in progress regarding one or two leases in South Australia, and the Government has discovered that it is not so easy as it thought it was to recover a’ lease from an occupant, although it has been suggested that even many of the improvements erected by the Government have been carried off.
The Labour party is not opposed to immigration. I welcome people from Great Britain, and I do not mind how many come so long as we can absorb them. I would rather see people of our own race and blood coming here from Great Britain and Ireland than have Southern Europeans entering Australia at the rate they have been in the last few years. There is room in this country for many more people than we now have, but it is use- less to place men on the land if they will have to leave it in a year or two. In any land settlement scheme it is necessary first to provide the land, and then to finance the settler. The settler must be tided over a bad year, should one come along. The last bad year in this country was in 1914, when the big drought occurred. Many very fine settlers had to walk off the mallee country in South Australia because they could not meet their bank overdrafts. I suggest that the Government should use the Commonwealth Bank in a big scheme of development. Plenty of land for settlers is obtainable in Australia. With a sympathetic bank behind them, to assist them over one, and possibly two, bad years - and if they are bona fide settlers they should be assisted - most settlers would succeed. It is heart-breaking for a man who has put all his capital into a farm, and has worked as hard as is humanly possible, to find that the banks, which are not philanthropic institutions, walk in when the rains do not come from the heavens, and he has to walk out. I hope that when the Government brings settlers out to this country it will make arrangements to assist them over one, or possibly two bad years.
Senator Sir Henry Barwell explained away, as best he could, his attitude on the White Australia policy. It seems to me that when some Australian Ministers go to London a mental change comes over them. When Senator Sir Henry Barwell was in London he gave interviews to the London Times, and he said, . most unequivocally, that he thought the Northern Territory could not be developed without the assistance of coloured labour. He is not the only person in Australia who thinks that. The Pastoral Review is a journal that would, I think, support the party to which Senator Sir Henry Barwell belongs. In an article published on the 16th December, 1925, setting forth a policy for the development of the Northern Territory, it advocated the appointment of a Commission, and said :
If ‘suitable labour in the early stages lor development work were not available -we would even advocate the admission of indentured Chinese under, say, live years’ agreement; but. even that matter should be left entirely to the commission.”
That article expressed views which, I should say, are subscribed to by many people in this country. I hope that that pernicious doctrine will not be persisted in. The people of Australia stand solidly for a White Australia. Governments say that they are in favour of a White Australia, and I say that those who advocate the introduction of coloured labour are a danger in the community. They wish to bring into this young country troubles from which older countries are suffering, and from which they would like to free themselves.
– I do not mind what statements they make here, so long as they are not published abroad.
– But the statements are published abroad.) If the Premier of a State makes a statement it is certain to be published abroad.
-brockman. - Senator Sir Henry Barwell says that he did not make the statement attributed to him.
– He did not deny to-day that he said that he thought that coloured labour was necessary in the Territory. What he should say now is “If I said it I was wrong. I have altered my opinion. I believe in the White Australia policy. That is the accepted policy of the Australian people, and any statement I made about the introduction of coloured labour I withdraw.”
– Senator Barwell said something much better than that. He said “I never said I believed in the introduction of coloured labour. I do stand for a White Australia, and I do believe in it.”
– All he said was that certain words had been torn from their context. We have heard much from honorable senators opposite about the way industrial organizations should be run. Senator Andrew said that one of the troubles prior to the elections was industrial disputes. I suppose the elections have overcome all that. The strike did not last long after the two men who are supposed to have caused it were arrested. The Government promised to deport them.
– If they are a menace to the community, they ought to be deported.
– The honorable senator and his party told the electors that they would deport them, and they have not done the job. The people are now satisfied that they have been misled. Those with whom I come into contact say “ Why the deuce don’t they carry out their promises?”
– It will be done.
– Senator Andrew said that the Government would give to the rank and file of industrial organisations control of their own affairs. What he meant only Senator Andrew knows. It is a peculiar thing, which you. Mr. President, in your long career in the industrial movement must have observed, that those who have never belonged to an industrial organisation can readily explain how to run one.
– Is the honorable senator speaking from experience ?
– I have been a member of an industrial organization for nearly twenty years-.
– Which one ?
– The Australian Workers’ Union.
– What employment did the honorable senator follow ?
– “Various employments ; general ‘ employment. I have also been an officer of the Australian Workers’ Union for a good many years. If. I suggested to Senator Andrew how he should run his auctioneer’s business, he would say that I was presumptuous; and I tell him, notwithstanding that he may be doing it with the best of intentions, that he is very presumptuous when he tells the industrial workers of this country how they should run their organizations. In the future industrial organizations will be run as they have been run in the past, by the men who belong to them.
– The rank and file will run them.
– The rank and file have always run them.
– No. Men working on a house I was building were pulled off the jab by a union delegate. They were not even asked whether they wanted to strike. They had no voice in the matter.
– How could they be “ pulled off “ if they did not want to leave the job ? Was force used ?
– No, but they were pulled off. I was there when it happened.
– The honorable senator appears to be speaking feelingly. I hope that he was paying union rates and observing award conditions. If he wa3 doing so, there ‘ was no need for -a strike ; but workmen will not always tolerate conditions that some employers would impose upon them.
– I was paying wages board rates.
– The industrial organizations of this country will con tinue to be run by the members of them, and if any outside influence is attempted, trouble will ensue. The Australian worker is a sane man, who values the liberty he has, and will not tolerate men of the type of Senator Andrew - who may be very good in their own businesses - meddling with his industrial and domestic affairs. Senator Andrew has no more right to meddle in the domestic affairs of an industrial organization that is conforming to the laws of this country, than the workers have to meddle in his business.
I am glad that the Government intends to follow Labour’s example again, and do something to assist working people to own their own homes. That is no new idea. The labour Government of South Australia has been able to do much in the pa9t two years in the erection of homes, and I hope that the Commonwealth Government will be able to supply to. the people homes of as good workmanship, and at the same price, as those supplied by that administration . In that State . a man 13 provided with a block of land, 50 feet by 150 feet, and a five-room house for £700. He is allowed from 35 to 40 years to pay off the debt, at the. rate of 17s. or 18s. per week. The rent of such a house would cost him up to 3os. a week, and he would never own a- brick. Under (he system introduced by the Labour Government of South Australia, if he pays no more than 18s. a week he will own the house in from 35 to 40 years. I commend the Government for that proposal, which I hope will succeed. During the last ten years .the housing .problem in Australia has been almost as big as the bread and butter problem. A worker with a largefamily, and earning from £4 10s. to £5 a week, has had to pay from 35s. to 40s. a week rent. Such an impost prevents the workers from making any headway and”. providing for the rainy day that comes, to all’ people. Under the- other system, every improvement that a man puts into a house is for the benefit of himself and hia family. It is- peculiar that in the pamphlets sent out by the Liberal Federa-tion, the statement was made that the Labour party “ do not believe in personal freedom and the right of the individual to own property.” All the Labour Go.vernments of Australia are providing working peopl’e with their own homes, and are allowing, them a long time to pay for them. Yet the electors were told, in false election pamphlets, published with malice aforethought, that we were opposed’ to people owning their own homes. Every Labour Government in Australia to-day isbuilding homes- for the people. We have always stood for. that- policy,, because w.o believe it to be a sane policy; and I hope this- Government will go> ahead with its proposal-.. The proposal to make use of the Commonwealth Bank is- also sound-.. If it can be utilized: in the way indicated, it should be of very great benefit to the people of Australia.. Every Labour representative desires that the wage earner should, have an opportunity to. secure his own home on- the- payment of a small deposit. In South. Australia,, a. man with two children may get a home for an initial payment of £25. Most, men can put down that deposit. They are then interested in the home, and. by- improving it and establishing, a garden, they soon have a valuable asset.
I have no desire to delay- the Senate. I trust that the Government will get down to. business promptly. We are all anxious to. know how the Government proposes to amend the Arbitration Act, and along what lines it intends to proceed in the other industrial legislation forecast in the Governor-General’s Speech. We on this side can, promise that our criticism on those measures will be constructive, and that we will assist the Government in the passage of all bills which, in our opinion,, will be for the benefit of the people of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the Address-in-Reply be presented to Eis Excellency the Governor-General by the
President and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
– I shall ascertain when it will be convenient for the AddressinReply to be presented to His Excellency. When the time is fixed I shall inform the Senate and invite honorable senators to accompany me-.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed- -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– The Appropriation. Bill, the first reading o£ which has just been moved by the Leader- of the Senate (Senator Pearce), would almost make, one imagine that the end of. the session was approaching, whereas we are at the. beginning, of. a new Parliament. Since the presentation of the original bill in another place, there has been a general election,, as the result of which our honorable friends- opposite have been given another lease of power.
– With added vigour.
– I am not sure about that. It is quite true that the Government has been given another lease of power with added numbers. The bill now before the Senate deals- with finance and, as we have been told, finance is government and government is finance. I do not intend to occupy the Senate for long in debating this measure. During the election campaign certain members of the party to which I belong were charged with being revolutionaries. We resented that charge, and we intend to assist the Government in the passage of this bill so that the way may be clear for the introduction of the legislation forecast in the Governor-General’s Speech. Last session legislation was introduced for the deportation of certain parsons. We contended that any such action was illegal. The decision of the High Court has confirmed our opinion. I hope that the Government, will profit by the lesson given by the High Court and not pass any more hasty legislation.- The measure which the High Court declared to be illegal, was rushed through- the Senate in about ten hours. We who opposed the bill pleaded-‘ for time to consider it. On.li’ request was refused, and the measure was rushed through, with the consequences I have mentioned. The legislation was declared by the High Court to be illegal.
– If the honorable senator will study the judgment, he will find that the High Court determined nothing of the kind.
– The High Court declared that the object for which the legislation was introduced was illegal. Ministers and their supporters said on the hustings that they intended to take certain action. It remains to be seen whether the legislation mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech will empower this or any government, to deport a citizen of Australia. It was on that cry, and that cry alone, that the Government got a renewal of power. That issue over-shadowed every other mentioned in the brief but vigorous campaign which ended on the 14th November. As a citizen of Australia I accept the verdict of the majority of the people. Our friends opposite declare that they received a mandate. We on this side are waiting with a great deal of interest to learn in what way, and by what kind of legislation the Government intends to redeem its pledge to the people in connexion with its proposals to deport citizens of Australia. I am reminded of the general election in Great Britain in 1918, when Mr. Lloyd George and his party got back to power on the cry, “ Hang the Kaiser.” The ex-Kaiser, instead of being hanged, has just received a present of many millions of German gold marks. This Government went to the people for a mandate to deport certain citizens of Australia. The High Court has since declared that the Government has not the power to do that. We are now waiting to- see where that Government and its supporters stand. Senator Sir Henry Barwell, in his speech on ;he motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, declared that the shipping in Australia would not have been held up without the sympathy of the Labour movement. I presume that the honorable senator was referring to the recent industrial trouble on the Australian waterfront. He omitted to mention who assisted most in bringing about a settlement of that unfortunate industrial disturbance. Mr. Charlton, the leader of my party in another place, together with other industrial leaders, in cluding Mr. E. J. Holloway, the secretary of the Trades .Hall Council in Victoria, were chiefly responsible for the restoration of peace on the waterfront.
– The trouble lasted a long time.
– I admit thai it did, but I remind the honorable senator that Labour leaders were most prominently .associated with the negotiations that brought about a settlement. Then there was the In01 recent trouble - the strike of British seamen in Australian waters. Can Senator Sir Henry Barwell claim that the party to which he now owes allegiance attempted to settle that? The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), I regret to say, did nothing.
– The election settled that shipping trouble.-
– The election did nothing of the sort. But let me confine myself to Senator Sir Henry Barwell’s statement. Let me ask him again who attempted to settle the strike of British seamen? Neither the Prime Minister nor Senator Pearce had any hand in that. It was left to members of the Australian Labour party, who went to Sydney to interview the representatives of British ship-owners there. I was one of them. I admit that we were not successful in our mission, but at all events we made an attempt to bring about a settlement of the dispute. Senator Sir Henry Barwell is fresh to the Senate, but not fresh from an election; he was not sent here by the votes of the people of South Australia but by the vote of the Parliament of the State. That, of course, is quite constitutional. It was, “however, somewhat strange to hear him lecture honorable senators who have been elected by the people. I admit that I did not go before the electors at the recent election. Had I done so and been defeated I would still have been entitled to hold my seat here until 30th Tune next. If Sir Henry Barwell had been a candidate at the election he would not to-day have had the opportunity to give us the lecture that he delivered.
I desire to show the manner in which the electors were misled. An estimable honorable member of another place, Mr. Maxwell, said on 18th November, 1924: -
We should be careful to point out to. the people that it is not the Labour movement that we oppose but the Labour party. The Labour party is beginning to take fright at the SUSpicions of the public that it is allied with the communists, and to allay these fears it passed a certain resolution at the recent interstate conference. But the public knows that that does not rid the party of communists, who use unscrupulous methods to get - into the movement. Does the Labour party adopt constitutional methods to remedy its grievances? No j it adopts the communists’ revolutionary methods.
Speaking in another place on 16th July, 1925, he turned right about face when he said: -
I have been charged with having associated the Australian Labour party with communists, and with saying that the Labour party is sympathetic towards communism. My address the other night was all directed to show that the Australian Labour party is not communistic, that it had deliberately adopted constitutional methods as the means of achieving its object, and was doing everything that could reasonably be expected to shake itself free from the vampire of communism. … I quoted the Australian Worker as representing the views of trade unionists in Australia, and as showing the abhorrence with which communism was regarded by the legitimate trade unionism in Australia.
That is an example of a man holding a high, responsible, public position, making certain statements on one occasion and afterwards admitting that he was wrong. Strangely enough it was that type of false propaganda which misled the electors on 14th November last. I dismiss the subject by saying that at the last elections the dice were loaded, the cards were stacked, and that’ it was the greatest political confidence trick that has been played in the history of the British Empire. Whether the people will realize the manner in which they were tricked the future will disclose.
During the recent election campaign the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) stressed the fact that income taxation had been reduced by 47 per cent, from £3. a head in 1920-1921 to £1 12s. a head to-day. There is no doubt that that reduction took place. I am chiefly concerned, however, about the way in which the incidence of taxation affects the people. I realize that taxation is necessary ; but it should be distributed in such a way that the burden is borne by those who are best able to carry it. This boasted reduction of 47 per cent, did not follow that principle. The last available figures are for the financial year 1922- 1923. In that year the taxpayers earning incomes under £500 numbered 408,000.
The tax assessed amounted to £1,243,000, which was 11 per cent, of the total. taxation assessed. The taxpayers earning between £500 and £1,000 numbered 34,000 and they paid £969,000, which was 9 per cent, of the total tax assessed. Those whose incomes were between £1,000 and £10,000 numbered 26,000 and they paid £5,275,000, which represented 48 per cent, of the total. From £10,000 to £100,000 the number was 679, the amount of tax £2,964,000, and the percentage 27. Twenty persons earned over £100,000 and they paid £448,000, equal to 4 per cent, of the total, which in that year amounted to £10,899,000. These figures show that £8,688,000, or 80 per cent, of the total tax assessed was paid by taxpayers who earned £1,000 or more, proving clearly that the reduction did not benefit taxpayers who were on the bread line.
– It relieved many from the necessity of paying any taxation.
– It did not give relief to the men on the bread line, but it certainly relieved the men who were well above’ the bread line. The electors were misled by the Treasurer’s boast.
– The reduction affected many who were working’ for wages.
– To an infinitesimal extent.
I now come to the question of unemployment. The leaders of the Government claim that Australia is to-day in a very prosperous condition, and that employment is satisfactory. The fact, however, is that unemployment is more acute in Australia to-day than it has been for many years.
– With five Labour governments in power.
– I remember the time when Senator Lynch was Minister for Works in a Labour government in Western Australia, and when he was a member of an alleged Labour Government in the Commonwealth Parliament. He did not bring about the millennium. It is true that there are five Labour governments in Australia at the present time. Shortly there will be six, and when the people regain their senses there will be seven.
– We have heard, that prophecy before.
– The honorable senator will hear it again. Those five Labour governments are suffering from the sins of their predecessors. They have been in power for an average of only eighteen months; I remind Senator. Lynch that from. 191.4 to 1925, with the exception, of. Queensland, there was not a Labour government in any State.
Unemployment results in- economic waste. It touches very closely the question of migration. Senator- Sir Henry Barwell stated that the Labour party isopposed to migration. That is a half truth, and a half truth, as honorable senators know, is the blackest liethat could’ be uttered. Any one who fairly considers the Labour party’s- policy in relation to migration’ must? admit that it’ is not opposed to migration-; but it is, and always has been-, opposed- to indiscriminate migration. In- the year l’913-4’, which- ended about a- month before the outbreak of war, the percentage of unemployed: was 6. In 19.10 it was 5.6; in 1911, 4.7; and in 1’91>2, 5-.5. In 1’910, 1911, 1912 and 191-3; Australia was, in the language of the press; cursed by the fact that the Labour party controlled Australia’s destiny–. The Fisher Labour- Government’ was then in control’ of the affairs of Australia. Yet, in those years;, the highest percentage- of unemployment was 5.5. Coming to the year 1924-5’, we find’ that the percentage was 10, and in the present financial year it has reached the highest point in our. history. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has frequently stated what the Government- intends to do in regard to industrial matters. Certain industrial’ legislation is to be brought down. I am awaiting that legislation before I can criticize it.
It is most important te see that every man in the community who is willing to work is assisted to get employment. I venture to say that 99 per cent, of the workers are willing to work. I . am heartily in accord with the statement made, by the right honorable the Prime Minister, when- speaking in another place on the second reading of the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, that -
It is useless for us to increase our population, unless every individual who enters Australia becomes a productive unit.
No matter what government is in power, national or labour, it will always be faced with the problem of unemployment. According to the words of the representative of the King, put into his mouth by his advisers, “ we are in a very prosperous position,” but that prosperity cannot last unless the- percentage of unemployment is considerably reduced. Therefore, I trust that before the. amount of money provided in this: Appropriation Bill is expended on the different services of the Commonwealth, this matter . will be attended to and remedied.
I asked the Leader of the Government in. the Senate this afternoon whether- or not the- Government’ would include in its industrial legislation an organization known as the fascisti, which, I understand1, is in- existence in Australia, and the reply I got was that the right honorable file Prime Minister could not disclose the policy of the Government ia answer to a question. Perhaps, in- hisreply to the-‘ speeches .which, have been, delivered on the first reading, of this; bill, the. Leader of the Government in theSenate will, state’ whether, it is the intention of the Government to include the fascisti in its industrial” legislation. I should like the right honorable gentleman to peruse the Age pf the 6th January, because that journal states that there is a fascisti organization in. South Australia, and’ that similar bodies exist throughout Australia.’ According- to the
A’ge, the members of this organization propose to do lots of things to maintain law and order. But I understand that on 14th November last the present Government was commissioned by the electors to maintain law and order in Australia. Is- there to be dual control? If the Government would abdicate in favour of the fascisti and allow a chocolate Mussolini or some one else to come along, I should have no great objection, but I certainly am opposed to any proposal tohave a dual control between, the Australian, fascisti and the Government elected by the people of the Commonwealth. I should like the Leader of the Government in the Senate to tell us whether the fascisti organizations in Australia come under the heading of those bodies described in the Governor-General.’s Speech as “ associations- having for- their object the forcible, disturbance or overthrow of constitutional government,” and in respect to which, according to the Speech, it is the intention -of the Government to provide for “ the punishment of. persons promoting the objects of such associations.”
Another matter of considerable importance is the unification of our railway gauges. During the remainder of the financial year which expires on the 30th June next, money will be allocated for the purpose of a uniform railway gauge; and if the Government during its tenure of office does nothing else than put this very vexed question on a sound foundation it will deserve well of the electors. When the Grafton to South Brisbane Railway Bill was before us, the Right Honorable the Leader of the Government in the Senate told us that it was the beginning of the setting up of a uniform gauge in Australia, and that all the States were agreeable to the unification commencing at that point; but, according to a statement in the GovernorGeneral’s opening speech, the complete solution of this problem is impossible without ‘the active cooperation of all the mainland States, which co-operation, unfortunately, has not yet been secured. That is what I pointed out when addressing the Senate on the second reading of the Grafton to South Brisbane Railway Bill. I pointed out that unanimity could not be secured in the way the Government was setting about it, and I suggested that all the parliaments of the mainland States should pass an enabling bill authorizing the commencement of the unification of the railway gauge at Kyogle, or at any other part of Australia, agreeing to the expenditure necessary to bring about the final construction, and giving power to the Commonwealth Parliament to authorize from time to time the different commitments required to carry on the work from point to point. That was my contention at the time, and because I realized that the Government was not going the right way to bring about a unification of the gauges I opposed the second reading of that bill.
Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 v.m.
– I was referring, prior to the dinner adjournment, to the statement in the Governor-General’s Speech that the complete solution of the problem of a uniform railway gauge was impossible without the active cooperation of all the states on the mainland, and that co-operation had not been secured. Some considerable time has elapsed since, the construction of the Brisbane-Kyogle railway - the first step in the direction oi” uniformity - was authorized. There has been some controversy between the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Governments, which bears out the contention I made during the debate on the second reading of the bill, that before .we could have uniformity, it was necessary to bring about a thorough understanding between the Commonwealth and the respective State Parliaments. I hope that at the next conference qf Commonwealth and State Ministers an understanding will be reached and a contract entered into for the work of unification to proceed without further misunderstanding or delays.
I hope that before the sum appropriated by this bill is expended the Government will give consideration to the need for electoral reform, particularly with regard to the present system of electing senators. I think that every honorable senator will agree with me when T say that nobody can justify the present system. It has had a trial for three elections. It is true that in 1919 only one member of the Australian Labour .party - Senator Gardiner - was returned. Thirty-five members of the Senate represented one side of politics, and Senator Gardiner alone represented Labour. At the 1922 election the representation was not quite so one-sided. I, for instance, was not re-elected in 1919, but, with other colleagues, I was re-elected in 1922. At the recent election, however, no Labour candidate was returned to the Senate. I venture to say that my respected Leader (Senator Gardiner) enjoys the respect and confidence not only of those whom he has so ably led for many years, but also of honorable senators seated on the Government benc’hes. In New South Wales he secured nearly 500,000 primary votes, and yet he cannot retain his seat after the 30th June next. Senator Duncan, who received between 3,000 and 4,000 primary votes, was elected.
– But the No. 2 votes were just as much primary votes as were the No. 1 votes. I obtained more votes than Senator Gardiner, and that is why I was elected.
– There is no justification for a system that gives no representation to a large minority. Tie -Government should bend its energies towards a revision of the electoral law with regard to the Senate.
– What system does the honorable senator suggest?
– I am not in a position to-night to advocate any particular method, although almost any other system would be an improvement on the law in force to-day. It would at least give a large minority some representation. The Labour party secured something like 1,250,000 votes at the last election, but none of its candidates were returned to the Senate. One might at least expect the Government to repeal the present electoral law and introduce a system that would be just and equitable, giving representation to minorities.
– Would the honorable senator like proportional representation?
– There is something to be said in favour of that. I have an open mind on that matter. Proportional representation would be infinitely better than the present system, although I do not desire to commit myself to it. I hope that before the 30th June the Government will advise us whether or not it proposes to amend the law.
There is another matter - one of minor importance - to which I desire to refer. About June, 1925, a sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee visited Papua in order to inspect the drilling operations being carried on by the AngloPersian Oil Company in exploring for mineral oil. During the voyage the steamer called at Willis Island, and Senator Foll and I went ashore. It is a lonely spot about 830 miles north-east of Sydney, and about 150 miles from Cairns. The island is used by the Government for warning shipping of the approach of cyclonic disturbances. The three men in charge of the station had. been there alone for six months, and during that time had seen no one from the outside world. There were on board two officers who were to relieve them and remain for the next six months, cut off from all human society. Without any request from these men Senator Foll and I decided to make some representation to the Government with a view to having comforts provided for them, such as a billiard table, a small library and a tennis court. We approached the Minister for Home ana Territories (Senator Pearce) and he was so sympathetic that we forwarded a radiogram to the men on the island stating that he was giving the matter his sympathetic consideration. On the 17th November, 1925, I received the following letter from the Minister : -
With reference to your conversation with me some time ago regarding the question of providing amusements for the staff employed on Willis Island, I have received advice from the Secretary, Home and Territories Department, to the effect that the Postal Department is unwilling to provide funds. It is further reported that there are no funds under the Home and Territories Department which could be used for this purpose, and in view of this there is no alternative but to defer the matter for the present.
I hope that the Government will give this matter some further attention. By the warning given to shipping this station has been the means of saving not only valuable property but human lives. The men are cut off from, civilization for six months of the year, and I think that something should be done to make their lives more comfortable than they now are. I hope that the Minister will ask Parliament to allot, say, £150 for this purpose. I shall assist the Government to put the bill through all its stages.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) r8. 111. - The motion for the first reading of the measure affords me an opportunity of speaking on many subjects but owing to the Standing Orders I am precluded, at- this stage, from speaking to the bill in detail. I draw attention to the fact that the present Government made a very welcome departure in its last Budget statement by segregating the accounts in such a way as to show the relation that the civil expenses of the Government bear to the business undertakings. In the past the expenses of Government under the civil head and in connexion with its business undertakings were jumbled together in an inextricable mass, and it was impossible for honorable senators to extract any commonsense from them. The present departure therefore will be hailed with pleasure. I notice on looking through the bill that several departments of Government have been gaily mounting up in the matter of their individual expenditure. Only one or two set the worthy example of a reduction, so that whilst the departure to which I have re- ferred was intended to show a marked advance on preceding statements - tendered to Parliament, the effect as reflected in this statement has not been such as one would have wished. At the same time I am content to rely on this Government, and particularly on the wine of the Government that has come into existence for the express purpose of seeing tEat the closest possible scrutiny is made of public expenditure. Any person acquainted with Commonwealth and State finance for a number of years must be appalled at the way in which the cost of government has mounted up, and especially the cost of the government of the Commonwealth.
Although I admit that I have supported the alternate Governments of the past few years, there are individual items of expenditure to which I never have agreed, and to which I never could agree. In other directions, however, increased expenditure might with advantage have been incurred. Take for instance the Department of Census and Statistics. This is one of the most useful departments, since it supplies information without which honorable senators would be utterly unable to give an intelligent vote or express a well considered opinion. Yet this department is voted a bare £25,000, and has been standing stationary at that amount for a number of years. While other Governments in British speaking communities are not parsimonious in this direction, ‘ this department has been starved almost to the point of being reduced to a negligible quantity as a means of useful instruction in the public interest. To cite an example of what is done in Australia as compared with other countries, let us consider the rural interests of Australia. Nobody can say with any degree of accuracy how the several forms of country activities are progressing. Take dairying, farming, fruit-growing, woolgrowing and the several industries that come under the generic heading of primary production. We may take a random shot, but we are practically in the dark as to how those industries stand, although as regards other activities we have a host of figures. We know the number of men employed in various other industries, and the number who, unfortunately die as the results of accidents, but of these rural industries we are supplied with but little information.
The position in the United States of America is entirely different. It is quite true that we have to make allowance for the vast resources at the command of the people in charge of the affairs of that great republic. There, they have carried the science of collecting information and statistics to the fine point of being able to say how every industry stands at present, and how it has been progressing over a number of years. The industry of farming in America has been clearly shown, by the researches of the statistical department, to be anything but favorable. Oyer a period of five years it has been shown that the industry did not pay the interest on capital or give to the people controlling it a wage equal to that paid to those employed in other industries. Consider, again, the dairying industry. In no industry is there more sweating. What particulars have we of the progress and present condition of that industry? Who can tell me how much capital is invested in it, how many hours are worked by -those engaged in it, and what is their remuneration? The answer to those questions is that we are entirely in the dark on that subject. I presume that fruit-growing is in a similar plight. In the case of the coal-mining industry, we know the number of men engaged in it, the wages they receive, the hours they work, and the accidents that befall them. While this information is available in relation to the coal-mining industry, we have not the slightest inkling of .what is happening in a kindred field of industry. While that is so, it is quite clear that we cannot legislate for those two industries with any pretence to wellbalanced discretion. Previously in thi9 Chamber, I have submitted a motion designed to remove this ignorance of the people and enlighten members of Parliament, students of economy, and those educated citizens who desire to see wellbalanced policy for all industries. I proposed that a department be created to investigate every industry in the Commonwealth, and in a sense, to write out a balance-sheet for every industry. The object was to enable not only the people of the Commonwealth, but also the people of other countries, to sea which industries were having the best time, which the worst time, and which the intermediate time. The Senate agreed partly to the proposal,, but I presume that it has mot been, adopted! om the: scone of expense-.. The necessity still remains for more- full and ample information regard!ing the- industries of this country, to< enable this and the: State. Parliaments, to. do j justice to the. interests- concerned*.
There is something on record in relation to- the industry with which I have been associated for some time, namely, wheatgrowing. In that industry we have had the advantage of the report by a commission that inquired extensively into wheatgrowing in Western Australia. That commission, in its turn, in the course of evidence given, found that the average remuneration of men engaged in the industry ranged from 3d. to 6d. a week. I remember reading in a report relating- to the same industry in New South Wales- that the facts were similar in that State. That report clearly showed that the labour employed in carrying on the industry, was not so well remunerated as the labour in other industries. I venture to say that if the facts of the industry were known in other industries there would not be SO much bad blood and ignorance displayed; by many people in. this country. I believe it. is safe to say that a man of very normal, attainments, working in the coal-mining industry in New South Wales; can earn. £2 a day if he pleases. Comparethat with metalliferous mining in Western Australia. That, industry employs from 5,000 to 6,000 men, and it is generally conceded that in it a man coes to his death at a faster rate than, in any other industry in the Commonwealth. There are in thewestern State two sanatoria, maintained for the special purpose of treating; menwho are in various stages of decline as a result” of: employment in that industry. They had gone to the sanatoria in the hope of recovering- and being once more restored to their occupations; Although, those conditions cannot be paralleled’ in the coal-mining- or any other industry, the highest wages that are paid m the metalliferous industry are not more than 20s-. a day. If the same wage were paid as. in the coal-mining industry thecertain! effect would be to close every metalliferous- mine in Australia. The men employed, in the one industry write’ to.- those in the other industry and call them comrades. That is all very well,- but. m.y conception, of 1 comradeship is- that when there- is a load to be borne the? burden is’ placed half way on’ the stick, and no man gets1 the lighter- end-. Whenit was alleged in this- Chamber that thoseengaged in the metalliferous industry were1 receiving so much, and- that their conditions were so and so> and that there, was no hope of them- getting, higher wages’ or better . conditions, the men who werealready’ taking advantage of their position at every turn of the economic compass’ ought to have been told firmly and boldly that they were only getting more at the expense of others who could not get so much. We know that coal is at the base of all our industrial efforts, with very few exceptions. The moment coal supplies in the- country are stopped, every one feels the pinch. When the coal.miners en-force a. higher wage the impost is passed- on: to> the consumers. Expensesgo up all round!, one- department passes.on the extra cost to another, and that one- to another. The result is- an allround increase in the- cost of the commodities of life. In the gold-mining industry nothing; like that is possible. The cost in that case cannot be passed! on. If the wages of gold-miners were? doubled to. place, them on the same level as the- coal-miners, every one knows that the industry wouldclose down, and the men would have togo into the already over-crowded- cities t0, struggle- for a livelihood^. I have said that to show how lacking we are? in theauthentic information we ought to” have in this country…
I notice that the amount of money devoted to immigration in this schedule shows a decrease. I presume that the expenditure for that purpose will be provided’ for in the. loan, estimates. It is. difficult to. sayanything new on this subject. Almost everything that could be said has been said and. re-said, but I point out to those whoave opposed, to a. large accretion to ourpopulation, that, instead- of prejudicially, affecting the industrial conditionsin Australia, it would’ do the opposite. Ipoint” to other, countries- a-n’d to this’ country as proof of. that. I remember that. Lui the- early history of this country, a stream, of immigrants went to Queensland, but if was never contended that, because- that stream, was’ larger than’ the stream to any. other State, the prosperity of Queensland was- hampered’. On- the* contrary, the conditions in Queensland were improved, for the simple reason that, if activities for the supply of commodities are extended, there is a greater dividend all round. If a party of men are working a mine profitably they can increase the number of men in their employment, and make their financial position sounder. And so with a man Who is running a small business on proper lines. I counsel “honorable senators, particularly those who would abandon once and for all the policy of immigration, to remember that on no basis of common sense can it be .said that a well arranged and well -conceived policy of immigration will hurt any one in this country.
– Brockman . - The big stream .of -immigrants to Western Australia from ‘the Eastern .States .did not do Western Australia any harm..
– On the .other hand, it -helped that .State. Senator Sir Henry Barwell lias truly .said that >we ar.e receiving only a trickle >of the population leaving .the Old Country.. No one .can ;gainsay that fact. The .cream of British migrants .’is .going to .other countries. Unfortunately, a good deal of it is .going to countries outside the British Empire altogether. In the United States of America .the .trouble is not to secure immigrants so much as to shut them out. 1 noticed in a recent issue of a Chicago newspaper a statement that plasterers employed on building contracts in that city were getting 14 dollars a day, and had gone on strike for 16 dollars. Iti other words, they were getting £2 16s. a day, and were on strike for £3 4s. a day, ,which is more than the .pay of a member of this Parliament. I am satisfied that if there w.as an attempt to secure £2 1.6s. a day for plasterers in any city of the Commonwealth, every building contractor in that city would close down, for the simple reason that none would be able to show a profit. Wages never were, and never should be, the measure of value for labour. It matters not whether a man gets 10s., 15s., or even 40s. a day if he is turning in a .profit to his employer. The welldisposed citizen does not look upon this problem in any other light. He is quite -prepared to pay the wages demanded, provided there is reasonable profit left. The United States of America have not been called upon to contend with a trickle of population from outside sources. It has had to meet a perfect Gulf Stream .of immigration, ;and up till recent years it has been .able ito absorb the newcomers without .any reduction in wages. Is it not well known that nearly every worker in the United States of America goes to wor-k in his motor car ? Increased population, therefore, does not necessarily mean a reduction in wages. Notwithstanding the transparent truth of this ‘established fact, we are told (by labo.ua: advisers that the only remedy for low wages in Australia is to -restrict the growth of population from .beyond our shores until every man can have his choice of half a dozen jobs. The analogy of the United States of America is supported by the experience of Canada. It has been said over and over again that Australia has unlimited resources awaiting only -the hand of labour to bring about their development. Every one .knows that there is abundant capital .awaiting investment, and those who control it are not out to embarrass or impoverish labour. But .because of existing industrial conditions in Australia very many of them have been obliged to .give this country the “ go-by.” They have made careful inquiries into the industrial ‘.position here, and have come to the conclusion that they can get a better return for their money by .investing it elsewhere. These men had no desire to pull down- .or destroy our cherished industrial ideals. They were content to pay a fair wage to labour, always provided they got a fair return and without being subjected unduly to the tantalizing conditions that have been so much in evidence in recent years. Australia of all countries should have less to fear from the rapacious ‘employer,, because, as the result of political effort sustained over a long series of years, we have available to us the industrial machinery to compel unscrupulous employers to deal fairly with their employees. Unfortunately, this legislative machinery is -being brought into contempt by the actions of men who .affect to champion the cause of the workers. I need not mention their names. They are on .everybody’s tongue. Instead of public men, including honorable senators opposite. having the courage to tell these industrial leaders plainly that their actions are prejudicing the true interests of the workers, they leave the message unsaid, with the result that these wild and lawless extremists have actually taken possession of certain trade unions, and have caused that paralysis of industry, of which we have been such unwilling witnesses in the immediate past.
It is about time that we took some definite action to adjust fairly the scales between the two sections in the field of industry. We hear on every hand professions of approval of the principle of arbitration. I accept that statement of . faith, but I remind these people that it is one thing to say, in a lackadaisical sort of way, that they are in favour of arbitration, and quite another thing for them to fight to the bitter end against those false friends of the workers who have been bringing the principle into contempt. Arbitration brings into existence a third party, namely,’ an umpire, who is not associated with either the employer or the employee, and whose duty.it is to declare what is a fair thing in the interests of both. Unfortunately, even well-known partisans of labour, when elevated to the position of umpire in an industrial dispute, are not able always to insure industrial peace. If an award is unfavorable to labour interests it is, on occasions, torn to “ smithereens,” the industry concerned is thrown into confusion, and misery and ruin ave experienced by many people. I cannot help thinking that if we, who have been longer in the industrial movement than many of ‘ the present-day leaders, had enjoyed, in our earlier years, the privileges now made available to labour, we should have accounted ourselves most fortunate. Things have come to such a pass that sane men aru asking whither we are drifting, and how. are we to bring about a fair adjustment in the industrial arena between employer and employee if awards made even by partisans of labour are treated with contempt.
My remarks under this heading have been prompted by an item in the Estimates showing that provision for the arbitration court has been reduced. I am hopeful, as a result of what has been promised in the
Governor-General’s Speech, that the system of arbitration, which in recent years has been tinkered with, will be so amended as to make it a sure shield against the rapacity of all those who may attempt to break it down. Arbitration, as a legislative instrument for the settlement of industrial troubles, was adopted in New Zealand long before the Labour party came into existence, so members of that party cannot claim the exclusive patent rights for this great legislative principle.
The measure before the Senate makes provision for the payment of approximately £6,000,000 for the services of the financial year ended the 30th June next. The greater portion of this money has already been expended. The motion for the first reading of the bill furnishes honorable senators with an opportunity to deal with those subjects of public interest which, in their opinion, deserve consideration at the hands of the Legislature. Everything done in a free democracy is always the subject of a prolonged debate, not only in the Parliament, but also outside. The more light that is shed’ upon every public question from every angle, the better it will be for the legislation affecting it when it emerges from between the hammer and the anvil of debate, both in Parliament and outside. It has been said that in warfare it takes a ton of lead to kill a man. Similarly, it takes reams and reams of printed matter, containing the opinions of men and women in a free democracy, before public opinion is satisfactorily crystallized into legislative enactments. Therefore, T welcome occasions such as the present, when honorable senators have an opportunity for the expression of fresh opinions or for the restatement of old views on public questions of great moment.
This debate, I notice, has also been made the occasion of a post-mortem examination by some honorable senators, including Senator Gardiner, Senator Needham and Senator McHugh, concerning the result of the recent election. These gentlemen have held an autopsy of the political situation. I do not propose to follow their example, unless it be to remind Senator Gardiner that several months ago, speaking from his place in this Chamber, he emphasized that 90 per cent, of the people in Australia were workers. I am not prepared to dispute his calculation as to the component political elements in the community. I accept Senator- Gardiner’s statement that 90 per cent, of the people represent the workers. I now remind him that, when they were appealed to, they expressed a vastly different opinion from that held by the Labour party on certain public questions. Those views differed very widely from opinions expressed by honorable senators opposite. The last Parliament could .very well have run its normal course and continued until well into this year. The election would not have been held in November last but for the challenge by the Leader of the Opposition in another place to the Government and its supporters. We were invited to come out and meet our masters. Not to have accepted the challenge would have stamped us as persons of an inferior type. We did meet our masters. I am very much afraid that honorable senators opposite and their colleagues in another place are. least pleased with the interview. Now they hold a post-mortem as to the why and the wherefore of the election and its results.
In the speeches that were delivered by Senator Gardiner and Senator McHugh, there are a few points to which I wish to refer. Senator Gardiner informed us that, having looked very closely into the public affairs of Australia, he has failed to find more than twelve avowed, branded, and copper-fastened samples of revolutionaries. That statement was backed up by Senator McHugh, and I accept it. Those honorable senators must have gone about wearing blinkers. The sooner they are given a remedy for their political astigmatism, the better it will be for them. They have the wrong vision ; they are viewing matters from the wrong angle. I heartily wish that there were no revolutionaries in ‘Australia, and that every citizen was law-abiding, because our laws are the product of the workers, and anybody who violates them must be an enemy of the workers. There has been an opportunity in every State except one for amendment of the law by the Labour party. If there are persons who believe that it is good for the laws to be violated and trampled underfoot, the sooner they are branded as enemies of the workers the better it will be for the workers.
I have been endeavouring to sum up the situation. Looking abroad, I found that there were men in open rebellion against the laws of the Commonwealth and of the States ruled by Labour Governments.- I was thus forced to the conclusion that there were revolutionaries in our midst. If .Senator Findley or Senator McHugh is not prepared to accept my statement, I direct attention to what was said in Queensland by Mr-.. Gillies when a certain section of ‘the people of that State openly rebelled’ against the Labour Government and its laws. The strikers brought the Government to its knees. Mr. Gillies said -
I admit that these revolutionaries can destroy my Government. We have reached the stage when the people must make a definite stand as to whether they are going the way of revolution or direct action.
I believe that Senator Gardiner and Senator McHugh expressed their conscientious conviction when they said that they believed that there were no revolutionaries; in Australia. I advise Senator Gardiner to settle his difference of opinion with Mr. Gillies. Mr. Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, is another unwilling witness to the fact that there are revolutionaries in Australia. On one occasion,, recently, he said -
The re-appearance of the Industrial Workers of the World in our midst, and the cordial reception accorded to these advocates of revolution, go-slow, and sabotage by Garden and his Moscow friends, make it advisable for me, as head of the Labour Government, to repudiate all connexion, political and industrial, with these disturbers of public order and political progress.
When the head of the Government of the leading State in the Commonwealth tells an almost startled world that there are revolutionaries, and comes down upon them with a heavy hand, what is the good of any o.ne saying he is not conscious of their presence”?
I embarked upon this discussion with the desire to place my’ honorable friends opposite upon the righttrack, so that they would have a clearer vision of what is happening in Australia. A witness who is neither a politician nor a Labour leader, but who. has nevertheless been attached to the Labour movement for many years, is Washington Mather, for fifteen years secretary of the Albany branch of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, .and for the last five years the representative of Western Australia upon the Federal executive of that Federation. He was in Sydney during the British seamen’s strike, and took a part in the inner councils of the movement. He, therefore, knew all that was going on. When he returned to Western Australia he made a .statement to a public meeting in Albany, ‘the report of which reads as follows : -
Sir. Mather declared that the original intention of those who engineered the British seamen’s strike was to precipitate a, general strike throughout ‘Australia, not lor the purpose of getting .better conditions for ‘the seamen, but for revolutionary purposes. The lot of the British sailor might not be all that ‘could be desired, ‘but -hat –was not the issue -in the Strike. The leaders of the strike knew that they ‘had ‘no chance off winning, ‘but they ‘hail carried, on propaganda with ‘the .object of “‘instilling into the minds of the great body of workers the idea, that they -would have to down -.tools. “This big federation >of Labour;” .declared Mr. ‘Mather, *“is standing still, like -ships ait anchor, -while the wasps of communism are working round and getting- control of the Labour -movement by electing ‘their representa- tives ion the council of Labour.” It was time the Labour party woke up to the fact and came out and fought the people who were trying to smash the planks of its platform. ‘The federation of Labour stood for law and order and for getting its requests acceded to by ‘constitutional means. In doing this, it had never had any trouble, as was proved in the case of the bureau strike, which was settled by constitutional means and without the assistance of Mr. Tom Walsh. There was jio such thing as organizing a general strike, although that was the policy of the Australian Seamen’s Union; but the leaders did not, or could not, guarantee the support of the rank and file of the movement as they had never taken a ballot.”
These are- facts that are known even to school children. The leader of the seamen, “who at one time were a fine body of men , has declared openly that he never wants to see a ballot taken; yet he and men like him are the driving force behind the latter-day Labour party. When we are ‘told the ‘truth about these matters by those who are in the Labour ranks., we are . driven to the unpalatable belief that things are not quite right ia the latter-day Labour party. If the leaders of that party had the courage they would remind these men that they have done nothing to .advance the true .cause of Labour, that they are late -comers in the movement., and that they are parasites who are living on the body of Labour. If that action had been taken some time ago, ;good would have accrued ito Australia. It remained for a higher jury, consisting , U 1 90 per cent, of the workers of Australia, to take -that action. Mr. Charlton au.? Senator Gar-diner -were suitors on .the one side, whilst Mr. Bruce and Dr. Earle Page took ,up their ‘position on the .other.
It is ‘the. habit to (refer ito ‘this Government as tam anti-Labour . GBvernment. I am /able to appraise ‘that at its true value. I .remind honorable -senators opposite that weEe it -not if or two -words, -only -one >of which appears in the dictionary - “ labour “ .and “.-scab” - the -number of -electors who support the party represented .by them -would .be .reduced by hundreds of thousands. The former is used ‘to inspire their followers, the latter to terrify them. Many .a time one hears it said,, ‘* I do .not believe in iso and so, but I would never “ scab “ on labour.” When the two spokesmen >of the Labour party to whom I have referred appeared ^before King Demos they professed, with all the eloquence -that they had at their command, -their faithfulness to Labour’s cause. .Mr. Bruce and Dr. Earle Page, who appeared in a humbler guise, .said, “ We have not had the opportunity to -call ourselves Labour men, but we shall not harm Labour. We shall hold the scales evenly between all sections of the community. Every one, however small .a place he may hold in our industrial or political life, will have a share of our consideration,, and may call upon us for help if he deserves it. Although we are not labelled Labour,’ we appeal for your support.” King Demos turned aside to Senator Gardiner and Mr. ‘Charlton and said, “ Your story is a very plausible one, but I am reluctantly compelled to tell you .that I. ‘do not .trust you.”’ They are now indulging, here and elsewhere, in the pleasant pastime of inventing reasons why we should not have been elected, whereas the -plain fact is that the workers having been appealed to have given us the award. There was a time when the Labour party was totally different from what it is to-day, when it did not allow itself tobe ruled, twisted, and governed by the tail or fag-end of the movement. It was a vastly different proposition then, and the workers accepted the story of the mouthpieces of Labour, and’ gave them a renewed lease of confidence because- they could trust them. Had that condition of affairs continued, the electors would have given Labour the award, but Labour is a vastly different body to-day. As for the story that the workers are to be tyrannized and injured in any shape or form, it is about timethat the average citizen put it out of his mind. The cause of democracy and Labour was won years ago, long before the party labelled as Labour came into being. It was won when public opinion in this country was attuned to the point of acknowledging that there should be nothing short of manhood suffrage here. Having achieved that end, when every person with reasoning power over the age of 21 years was endowed with the power to vote for any one he chose to come to Parliament, the fight for democracy was won.
All I want to say, in conclusion, is that we have a big country, a young country, and a magnificent continent to develop, but that we cannot make the best use of it unless wiser and more reasonable counsels’ prevail, and unless we root out of our ranks that bitter feeling that has been engendered of quite recent years between the two sections of the industrial field. It is useless for one section of the industrial field to look with a glaring eye and with vengeance in its mind at the other side. If that state of things continues, we shall fail in our endeavours to develop this country on proper lines. It is about time we composed our differences. If we do not allow arbitration and reasonable counsels to prevail, it is time we acknowledged our failure to govern Australia. There are, however, some points of common sense, equity, and discernment still adhering to the people that will, I hope, counterbalance that distemper which has been brought about in our democracy by those who’ will not allow reasonable counsels to prevail. No’ doubt, there is serious distemper at work in a young democratic community when men will get up at various points and say, “ Away with the law, and raise the red flag.” When such a thing occurs in a young country like this, it is time we awoke to the f act that there is an- element whose design it is to bring about a disruption of the grand state of social order of which we are happily in possession today. I am not an old man, yet I would have thought I was in a second heaven if in my youthful daysI had been launched into the present state of society as compared with that which then prevailed. Every man to-day is given an opportunity to plough his way forward in any capacity he chooses, and surely it is up to us to say that we are proud to be in a land which possesses such opportunities; yet at every turn bitter feelings are displayed. There is nothing so. deplorable and distasteful to watch as the attitude of certain men in the Labour, party to-day. If a worker rises from the ranks to be a man of means, even if he is only a bootmaker, he is immediately the object of derision and scorn, according to the doctrine and dicta of these latter-day destroyers of social welfare; He is pointed out as an employer, or as a budding capitalist, or as one of those who have to be watched. I have no desire to be unkind to the men who say these things, but I would remind- them that the very men who are indulging in these pranks, condemning capitalism in any shape or form, lose no chance of getting a bit of it for themselves and some of its proceeds. There was only one man in the party who remained true to his principles. I refer to Mr. Miller of Western Australia. He would not enter Parliament in any circumstances.
– And he was put into jail by the Commonwealth Government as a reward.
– I do not know about that, but, at any rate, he lived a consistent life and not the life of the men I am describing. He is the only man in my 35 years’ experience in this country who has lived up to the summit of his professions.
– The honorable senator is unkind.
– I know’ that there are exceptions, and honorable ones. I know that Senator Ogden, like myself, is trying with might and main to get Labour men to swing into some semblance of sanity.
– They are going to . “ swing “ him.
– I know that the guillotine is being prepared for Senator Ogden, just as it was for myself and others. Metaphorically speaking, our heads were placed outside the Trades Hall. But what did the electors do afterwards? They fished our heads out of the baskets, put them on their trunk’s again, and we are better off than ever as a result of the choice of the workers, who, quoting Abraham Lincoln again, “ never will be fooled.” It matters not whether it is a liberal, a national, or any other flag - after all, those, are only, names - under our Constitution the intelligent democracy of this country have a chance to put in Parliament .their own approved men whom they can trust, and to turn aside the other and inferior type. Nothing has been lost that was won by Labour in Australia, for the simple reason that manhood suffrage will always see that anything of merit or value passed in previous years by any party, liberal or labour, is maintained. I hope that as the result of my few straight words the seed will find a place even on rocky, barren precipices, to which I may be pardoned for likening some honorable senators opposite, and that later on itmay fructify there and lead them, as the result of its germination, to look differently on their fellows and learn the lesson that before they and their party were conceived and came into existence there was a keen and successful fight for democracy. And even when the Labour party has gone out of existence . the good work will always .go on. But if we do not do something to stop the irritation that is being engendered between the two sections of the industrial field when we have the most glorious opportunities in the world to rectify all grievances, we might as well cry “ Ichabod ! Ichabod!’ I hope that as a result of the recent election the party which, it was declared, went to the country as an anti-Labour party, will realize that the people sent it back triumphant in both chambers to carry out the wishes of our Australian democracy. ‘
Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) [9.10. - I should not have risen to speak had it not been for the speech we have just heard from Senator Lynch. The honorable senator set out in the first place to ask the Government to be good enough to get to work and furnish information that would be helpful to all sections of the community. He said that we were in a hopeless state of ignorance concerning our primary industries, because there were no statistics available to indicate the number of people employed in dairying, wool-growing, wheat-growing, and other spheres of primary production. Ho pointed out that this work had been, and was still being, done in the United States of America, and if I followed him correctly, he indicated that in America, primary production was not a profitable sphere of activity. Later on, he told us that plasterers in the land of the Stars and Stripes were getting £2 16s. a day, and, like Oliver Twist, were asking for more and yet more. We are told that the prosperity of every country depends upon primary production. If primary production in the United States of America is on a non-paying basis, is it not remarkable that the people there can afford to pay plasterers £3 or more a day. But is it not still more remarkable that Senator Lynch should resort to that roundabout method of proving that wholesale immigration is good for a country ? At any rate, Senator Lynch is one on those who’ entertain a hazy idea that population is synonymous with prosperity. The truth is that in countries with the largest populations there can be found ou one hand millionaires and multimillionaires, and on the other mendicants by the thousands and the millions. Population in itself does not spell prosperity. What class of population do we require in Australia? Do we want more doctors, lawyers, house and land agents, auctioneers, editors of newspapers and journalists ? A little time ago we were told that there was a shortage of skilled artisans in Australia, and that there was ample room for thousands of men to engage in the building trade. And when I entered a protest against the action of the Government in inducing men to come to Australia, because there was, at the time, a temporary shortage, I was told then,’ as I will probably be told to-day, “ There is ample room for more men in the building trade.” I reply to that statement by saying that in every State of the Commonwealth there are thousands’ of men in the building trade who are unable to find employment in their line.
– Not skilled artisans?
– Yes. If any employer advertises for a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, or builder’s labourer, he will find a large number of men seeking and anxious to secure the job advertised. Are there opportunities for the men on the land? Advertise in a daily paper or in any Government publication that there is suitable land available in any State, and there will be thousands of applicants for it.When it was proposed to spend large sums of money in advertising the possibilities of land settlement in Australia, what was being done by the Commonwealth Parliament? Sections of the pastoralists were coming to it, cap in hand, pointing out that it was impossible for them to carry on their business on a fair basis without assistance, and they obtained a subsidy from Parliament. The men engaged in fruit-growing are not carrying on without a subsidy. Is it proposed by Senator Lynch that more men should be settled in the dried-fruit areas ?
– Then why continue the subsidy for helping them tore main there?
– Because we do not produce sufficent.
– The ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) told the people who were settled on the land, “Produce, produce, produce “, but, as Senator Sampson has pointed out, it is no use telling them that until we can find good markets and obtain good prices for their commodities.
– The markets for our fruit exist oversea, but Australia gets into the markets only for about twelve weeks in the year.
– Owing to the impoverished condition of the world today, the markets are not what they were before the outbreak of the last war.
– More canned fruit is demanded.
– It would be well for the Government to exercise stricter supervision than heretofore over the fruit that is exported. According to the cable reports, the quality of some of the canned fruit recently exported has given Australia one of the worst advertisements that it has ever had. I know that attention has been called to the matter in another place, and the Government has promised to make exhaustive inquiries into it.
Reference was made by Senator Lynch to the men engaged in the coal-mining industry. He pointed out that they were getting £2 a day, and I think it was Senator Duncan who said that some of them were earning more than that. In a measure the statement is correct, but it conveys only half the truth. There are high and low seams in coal mining. Positions are balloted for every three months, and some miners are more successful than others in the ballot. When they are allotted positions on a high seam they are in luck’s way, and they earn, we are informed, £2 a day, and sometimes a little more. But there are thousands of men engaged in coal mining who do not receive anything like that wage. Their average earnings would be probably £5 or £6 a week. When it is announced to the world that miners in Australia are earning £14 and £15 a week some explanation should be given. The inference to be drawn from the statement of Senator Lynch is that the wages in this dangerous occupation are too high and should be reduced.
– Brockman. - The trouble is that the rate of production is too low.
– That is the old “ go-slow “ gag. I saw a statement in an evening newspaper a few nights ago giving quite a different version of the calibre of Australian workmen. The gentleman in charge of the work of electrifying the tramway system in Melbourne has toured the world, and when asked his opinion in regard to the men under his supervision he said, “ The Australian workmen are on their own. There are ho workmen in any part of the world who can compare with the men engaged on this conversion scheme.”
– They are on their own,” if left alone.
– That comes with ill grace from an honorable senator who for many years was associated with a party that has to-day exactly the same platform and policy that it had when he was a member of it. The same incorrect statements that the honorable senator made in this chamber to-night in attacking the Labour party were made by the apolitical enemies of Labour when be was associated with, the party some years ago. It was then said .that if we got into power m» would .drive the country to ruin and desolation. The late Mr. Deakin declared, “ If a Labour government obtains office, God help Australia.” He added that if .that came .about, all he would want to <do would be to leave the country. But the Labour party did obtain power, and Mr. Deakin lived and died here.
Senator Lynch has brought to my mind the (circumstances of the last election. He said that 90 per cent, of the electors were engaged in the work-a-day world., and therefore the Government now im power had come into existence as the result of the appeal to those people, a majority of whose votes he claimed were recorded in favour of the Government. When he talks about law and order, I venture to .say, with all due deference to those returned at the last election, that not one of them would be holding his seat to-day if the laws of this country had been obeyed. That is a bold statement, but it is true, and I shall prove it. We have aa Electoral Act which stipulates that £100 shall be the maximum expended by any candidate seeking a seat in another place, and that £250 shall be the maximum in contesting a seat for the Senate. I make bold to say that not one Nationalist candidate, either here or in another place, would be in Parliament to-day if those provisions of the Act had been complied with.
– We are waiting for proof of that statement.
– It will be forthcoming. It is true that our opponents raised a scare about revolution. If there is anything that gives some people in the community the jumps it is the mention of the possibility of such an occurrence. ‘ But to a thinking person it is too silly for words. Who is going to bring about a revolution in Australia.?
– Two thousand persons in Brisbane gave three cheers for revolution.’
– Members .of this Parliament are elected on the broadest franchise in the -world; every adult over the .age of 21 years, who is outside a jail or an asylum, enjoys full electoral privileges. The majority of the people, therefore, can obtain any kind of legislation they desire in a peaceful .and constitutional manner. An ‘election cannot be contested without money, and when the party opposite created the scare about a revolution, and 93 per cent, of the newspapers backed *he ‘Government nap, money poured into the coffers of the Nationalist party. Its printing alone must have rum into thousands of pounds, for it had advertisements in every daily paper, and almost ‘every small newspaper throughout the country. Some of the candidates were informed that if they happened to be short of funds they would be provided with all the money they required.
Sena tor Drake-Brock man. - What about the proof?
– It is plain to any body who cares to investigate the matter. If we appointed a royal commission to look into it, some of the evidence would astound the people.
– The honorable senator said he would furnish the proof.
– If a royal commission is appointed I think I could help in supplying proof of my statement.
– The honorable senator promised us some proof here to-night.
– There is a time and place for all .things.
A reference was made by Senator Lynch to- the subject of industrial unrest. One would think to listen to him that we had been free from strikes -for many years, and that only during the last two or three years had there been anything resembling industrial turmoil. But during that period, particularly since the Great War, in every zone that belts the world, there have been strikes and industrial unrest. Many countries have been bordering .on revolution. When Mr. Bruce returned from abroad on one occasion he told the people of this .country that we were comparatively a peaceful country, and that we had no strikes as compared with those of other countries. What causes industrial unrest and discontent? Is anything said about the operations of rings, trusts and combines; about that section of the community that has been, and is, exploiting the consumers, wholesale and retail’.? Nothing is said about them, because honorable senators opposite are dependent upon them for their political existence. Give the workers of this country a fair and square deal, and there will be little or no industrial unrest. The Government foolishly said the industrial unrest in Australia was caused by two men.
– We never said that.
– The Government set out to deport two men.
– We did not say that the trouble was caused by two men. We said that it waa caused, among other things, by the weakness of the honorable senator’s party.
– What did the Government tell the electors? It said- it could not carry on unless it obtained additional power. Power to do what? Power to deport two wen.
– More than that.
– Before those two men were brought before the specially created board, the minds of the people were prejudiced, and more or less poisoned, by the statements of the Government, its supporters, and the newspaper press of this country. Had these men been charged before an established institution, say a civil or a criminal court, no member or supporter of the Government, and no newspaper, would have been permitted to say or write what was said and written during the election. The Labour party holds no brief for law-breakers or evil-doers. All we say is that if we have law-breakers we have civil courts to deal with civil offences, and criminal courts to deal with criminal offences. Not only were the minds of the people prejudiced, but during the elections and before the boards’s findings had been published, Dr. Earle Page said, “ These men will be deported.” Senator Pearce admitted making a similar statement.
– I do not admit making any such statement.
– Senator Pearce is reported to >have made a similar statement in Western Australia.
– I challenge the honorable senator to produce a report, even in the newspaper press of his own State, of such a statement by me.
– It was reported that the honorable senator had said that these two men would be deported before the elections. However, I accept the honorable senator’s denial, but at least Dr. Earle Page made that statement. It is said that this Government is a rich men’s Government, and there is no doubt about that. It- is backed by all the powerful financial interests in Australia, and a poor man would not have a chance of justice unless he had financial friends to back him.
– The Government has a poor man’s policy an)7way.
– Why should a poor man be forced to go to the High Court, and incur an expenditure running into thousands of pounds to get justice ? Had not the decision of the board been upset by the High Court, these two men would have been deported from Australia, constitutionally or unconstitutionally.
– The honorable senator objected to the Government’s action before he new whether it was unconstitutional.
– We objected to it on principle, and we still object to it on principle. The High Court has, in a measure, justified the stand we took. The Government intended to defeat the law, if it was at all possible to do so, and would have succeeded but for the financial backing which these two men received. The High Court ‘ has proved to the Government and its legal advisers and friends that they did not understand the Constitution, and did not know how to proceed with this business.
– Does that prove that the action of these men was lawful?
– It proves that the Government proceeded in an unconstitutional way to do an unlawful act. The High Court has said so in so many words. The Government set out to send these two men out of Australia, and some of its supporters said they ought not even to be tried. Some said that they should be snatched up at the -dead of night and taken beyond the shores of Australia, and others even said that they should be drowned. These are the men who now talk of law and order. Some of them said that Mr. Bruce had been too fair and his actions too constitutional. They talk about anarchists and revolutionists, but they are the men who create revolution, and who want to disregard the laws and constitution of their country.
Now we come to another old wheeze repeated by Senator Lynch as to capital being driven out of the country. Ever since I was a little boy. the opponents of Labour and progress have been pointing the finger to those who said, “Measure your strides or you will drive capital out of the conntry.” Where are we going to drive it to? It is going to leave Australia because there are communists here, we are told, but every one knows that there are communists in every country.
– Except Australia, according to Senator Gardiner.
– There are communists in every country. There is one in the British House of Commons, and communists in the Mother Country number thousands. There are numbers of them in the French Chamber of Deputies, and some in the German and Italian Parliaments. Although there are communists in Australia, there are none in any Parliament of Australia.
– There are quite a number of men in this _ Parliament who support the communist programme.
– It is not proposed to deport these two men because they hold communist views. We have had in Australia, ever since we have had responsible government, socialists, communists, anarchists, and even nihilists. The scare was started only for electioneering purposes, and no one thinks for a moment that with our broad democratic franchise the communists are a danger to Australia. They make themselves heard through the columns of the newspapers, which give publicity to everything, they say. We know what happened to the avowed communist who stood for a seat in the State Parliament of’ New South Wales.
– And is secretary of the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales.
– Although he is secretary of the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales, he is not a member of the Political Labour party’ of Australia. There are two distinct and separate parties - the industrial Labour party and the political Labour party. The political Labour party is distinct from the Trades and Labour Council as such.. I wish that Senator Lynch would direct his ammunition against the’ real foes of progress! in Australia. There was a time when his voice was heard to advantage against those institutions which are inimical to the well-being and happiness of the people j but now, whenever he has an opportunity, he seems to take a special delight in attacking a certain section of the community for being in receipt of high wages. What injury has unionism done to Senator Lynch that he should become one of its most bitter opponents ? He never loses an opportunity of attack ing unionism and the forces of Labour.
– He did not say anything against unionism.
– He attacked the coal miners of New South Wales because their wages were £2 a day while the wages of other men were less. The conclusion to be drawn from his remarks was that the wages of coal miners should come down. Senator Lynch’s voice should have been heard on behalf of those who needed improved conditions, instead of against those already enjoying comparatively good conditions.
– Can the honorable senator show me how £2 a day can be paid to employees in the metalliferous industry ?
– An industry that cannot employ workmen under decent conditions is not entitled to survive. There ought not to be room in Australia, for industries that can suceeed only by sweating their employees. If ft be true that there are men engaged in primary production who are not receiving what they are entitled to, I can say that the Labour party does not stand for sweating in that sphere of industry any more than in secondary industries. What this country needs is not more land settlers, but more industries. We are importing millions of pounds worth of goods, and exporting primary products, for which we find it difficult at times to get good markets. The home market is the best of all markets, and if we had fewer imports we would have more industries, and therefore more employment.
– Does the honorable senator suggest higher duties as a remedy?
– I suggest that measure of protection to the workers, the employers, and the consumers that a scientific tariff should give. We are told that we shall have an opportunity shortly to consider more fully the Government’s immigration policy and its proposal to democratize trade unionism in Australia by giving workers the right to take part in’ the discussions of their organizations, to conduct their affairs in a business-like way, and, above all, to have the secret ballot! When I read that reference to the secret ballot I could not help thinking of what had happened during tha last election campaign when all the agencies at the disposal of the Government were working very hard. There were lady and gentlemen canvassers knocking at door after door desiring to see the occupier, whether male or female, to ascertain how each person was going to vote, and on occasions pleading with them not on any account to vote for the Labour party’s candidates. These are the people who say now that they believe in the secrecy of the ballot ! So far as I am. concerned whenever any party canvasser t alls at my door during an election, I say that I believe in the secrecy of the ballot and I politely ask him if he knows the gate he came in by, and if so, to go out by it. If there is anything that the Labour party stands for it is the ballot, but not the open ballot. Senator Barwell told us of his experience at Port Pirie some years ago. I understood him to say that the Labour organizations there had two ballot-boxes, one for the “ Yes “ vote and another for the “Noes.” That must have been very many years ago.
– Not so long ago.
– I think the honorable senator knows more than to believe that the practice obtains to-day. I. can assure him that labour organizations do not conduct their ballots in that fashion.
– Mr Walsh says that they never take a ballot in the Seamen’s Union.
– If Mr. Walsh made that statement I have no doubt it is true, and I am satisfied that there must be a very good reason for it. The leader of the Senate knows very well that in the case of organizations whose members are scattered throughout the Commonwealth, it may be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to conduct a ballot to decide matters of great urgency.
– But there was no ballot even of the British seamen, and they were all in Australian ports.
– That may be . true, but we- may be quite sure that had there been a ballot there would have been an immense) majority in favor of striking because the men were thoroughly dissatisfied with the reduction in their wages. That strike was not, as has been alleged, engineered by Australian trade union leaders. The British seamen had decided to strike against the re- duction in their wages, and when they reached Australian ports they went to their seat of government - in other words the office of the Australian Seamen’s Union - and that organization declared that it would give them all the moral and practical support at its disposal to get back the £1 per month by which amount their wages had been reduced. The men struck for very good cause, and I am satisfied that if a ballot had’ been taken the decision to strike would have been practically unanimous.
– But they were controlled by Australian industrial leaders.
– They were financed by the industrialists in the different States, and that, I remind the Minister, was no new departure. Many years ago, when the dock labourers in Great Britain decided to strike, the newspapers of this country drew attention to the conditions under which .they were working, and, as a result of the financial assistance * received from Australia, the dockers were successful. They won with money subscribed by generous-hearted people in Australia, and, so far as I have been able to learn, no exception was taken to the procedure at that time.
– I was informed by a trade unionist at Boulder that he had had to pay strike levies, including a levy of 5s. for the British seamen’s strike fund, for twelve months, and never once was he given a chance to take part in a ballot.
– What is the inference? Was the man opposed to paying the levy?
– It is well known that some men, no matter what system u adopted, will object, to paying levies to their trade organization.
I hope that before long we shall have an opportunity to discuss the Government’s industrial proposals. I noticed a statement in the press the other day that. in all probability, we should havean adjournment at an early date. I trust that the serious business referred to in the Governor-General’s speech will be dealt with before the adjournment. As members of the Labour party, we are very much concerned about the contemplated legislative activities of the Government, and when the industrial measures are before us we intend to do all that is humanly possible to see that no hurt is done to existing organizations which have had to fight their way, up to the present, against most bitter opposition. I was born and reared in the atmosphere of industrialism ; I know the difficulties we have . to fight against, the obstacles that have to be overcome, and I realize to the full’ what we owe to the pioneers in trade unionism. I am not unmindful of the fact that, figuratively speaking, it was but yesterday that the party represented by honorable senators opposite was strongly opposed to the trade union movement. It was anathema tothem. They believed in freedom of contract. They adhered! to the principle that labour should be treated as a commodity. Therefore, I am suspicious of this eleventh-hour anxiety; this sudden spasm of sympathy for the class to whichI belong ; this new-born zeal’ to place the workers on the path to progress and prosperity. It has never yet been done by the party opposed to Labour. That party is backed up by the SinglePurpose League, whose slogan is “ To hades with arbitration.” It seems but yesterday that the Employers” Federation, at a conference’ in Brisbane, unanimously passed a motion congratulating all members of the Federal Parliament who had spoken and voted against the Arbitration Act.
– When was that?
– About twenty years ago. If, then, some industrial leaders to-day believe that they can secure less costly justice for the workers by not appearing before the Arbitration Court, they are in the company of some of the biggest employers in Australia who do not believe in arbitration as a principle and are opposed to the Arbitration Court. It was only because the representatives of Labour who pioneered the way and riveted public attention upon the wrongs of the workers that arbitration legislation was made possible. We know whatit was to be boycotted and black-listed, and to lose employment for the cause.
– Those days are gone.
– Are they ? I am opposed to a wholesale immigration policy. All employers do not desire every one in Australia) to be fully employed. Some favour a condition of affairs in which there will be two men looking for one job.
– What good would that be to the country?
– The. arbitration and factories legislation was passed when unemployment was acute, and when low wages were being paid and excessively long hours were being worked.
– That was twenty years ago.
– If it were good legislation, why was it opposed? The hours, worked numbered from 60 to 70 a week, and married men received from 30s. to 35s. Who fought that battle?
– It has been won.
– The advantage them gained must be held.
– Every concession was made by the Liberal party.
– Every concession is the result of a display of force. it was the force of industrialism that rivetted public attention upon the wrongs that existed. The Labour party, by its activities inside and outside Parliament, won the. victory for the workers. Every piece of good legislation that has been enacted by the Commonwealth. Parliament has been the work of the party that Senator Lynch to-night took such pains to denounce.
.- I should not have spoken but for the references that have been made to the action which was taken in Queensland during the shipping strike. I was in northern Queensland: when a great deal of the disturbance occurred in. connexion with the shipment’ of meat, sugar; and timber. Had the Labour party been- returned to power’ it would have spelt disaster to Australia. That is proved by the hopeless position in which the Labour Government of Queensland found itself during the strike. In the early stages the then Premier of Queensland, Mr. Gillies, showed active sym- pathy towards the striking seamen who were employed upon vessels that were running on the British register. When he was asked by a shipping company to provide a pilot to take a vessel out of the ‘Brisbane ‘River, although he was tho Minister administering an act that makes’ it compulsory for pilots to take a vessel as for as the pile light, lie declined, .and the boat could not leave, the wharf, It was heavily loaded with Queensland primary products that were being exported to different parts of the world. He eventually consented to the pilot going aboard only on the condition that the vessel was taken as far as the pile light, and anchored there until the strike committee in Brisbane permitted it to go further. He was so -utterly incompetent for the position that he held that he found it impossible to carry on, and he provided himself with a position on the Arbitration Court Bench. In the port of Gladstone the coal supply began to run short upon a ship that had every inch of its refrigerated space loaded with the product of the beef producers in the district. They asked to be permitted to put aboard sufficient coal to keep the refrigerating machinery going. The coal workers refused to do so. The Premier and his Labour Government took no action to protect those products,, and coal was not loaded until’ tho primary producers formed themselves into an army and entered Gladstone in sufficiently large numbers to protect their own goods.
In Cairns and Bowen the position was even worse than it was in Gladstone. The sugar mills were crushing, and sugar was being turned out in large quantities for shipment to the southern refineries. The whole of the work on the wharfs was held up. Following an instruction ‘by the President of the Queensland Arbitration Court, a ballot of the wharf lumpers at Cairns was taken. More than 100 men voted for a resumption of work on the old conditions, whilst only 20 or 30 voted against it. On account of the threatening attitude which that 20 or 30 adapted, however, the work could not proceed.
– They! attended union meetings armed with loaded revolvers.
– Despite the fact that the majority favoured -a -return to work, the minority made that course impossible. T-ho primary producers, accompanied by a large number of the men who were working in the fields and the mills, went to Cairns and Bowen and formed a bodyguard round the wharf lumpers who were prepared to carry on their work. There is not the slightest doubt that for a considerable time the position in north Queensland was very serious, and the Labour Government was -helpless to deal with it. It was necessary for the primary producers to leave their farms in the middle of the crushing season, at considerable inconvenience and expense, to protect their product and see that it was sent away.
The timber industry was similarly hampered. I’ believe that Senator Lynch -was recently om the Atherton Tableland, and his observations will have convinced him of the value of the timber industry to that portion of Queensland. Stagnation existed everywhere,, because the ships were not running. When cut, the timber was allowed to rot in the forests. Had the farmers not banded together for the protection of their product, the position would be as bad to-day as it was then. Small towns like Cooktown, in the far north of Queensland, are dependent upon other centres for their supplies of flour. They were on the verge of starvation .because of the continual holdup of shipping. The position was becoming desperate. Had honorable senators opposite been in north Queensland when Senator Crawford, and I and others were there, they .would have seen ‘the attitude that was adopted by an unruly minority which had wormed its way into the -ranks of the wharf lumpers and other unions, and held up shipping, -not in -order to secure higher wages or ‘better conditions, but for reasons best known to themselves.
– They declared “ black “ the members of another branch df their union.
– Senator Crawford was in Cairns when the farmers went down from the tableland. Quite a number of active, financial members of the Australian Workers Union accompanied them to protect the wharf lumpers who desired to work. .We are justified in assuming that the trouble was caused by a communistic element with . revolutionary ideas. The refineries were not making money available to the mills. Therefore, the mills could not pay the farmers, and the latter could not pay their hands. A large majority of the members of the Seamen’s Union, the Waterside Workers’ Federation, and the Australian Workers Union desired to return to work, but they could not do so because of the policy of intimidation that was adopted by an organized minority. Seeing their products rotting, the farmers, in desperation, banded themselves together. But for that action, the position would have been much worse than it was. The president of the “ red “ section of the Wharf Labourers Union in Queensland said, “ If the farmers want fight, we will give them all they want.” He was not then aware that the farmers were on their way to the port. That afternoon 250 farmers arrived in Cairns, and the president immediately resigned from his position. A notice was displayed stating that at a certain hour labour would be called to load the sugar, and that ample protection would be given by the farmers to any wharf labourer who desired to work. A large number of the wharf, labourers had been unemployed for weeks, and they had no money, but because of the threatening attitude of a. few men they were not game to offer themselves, and only thirteen men answered the call. Later on, when they saw that the farmers were determined to protect their own industry and see that their produce was got away, the number increased to 84. Next morning there were about 150 at- work, and in a couple of days, when other ships, hearing that the port was to be worked, came in, there were upwards of 250 wharf labourers at work. Since then they have been continuously at work getting away the sugar, and things in North Queensland have quietly settled down. But this ‘ deliberate attempt to hold up industry was not- prevented by any action on the part of .the Labour Governnent in Queensland. That Government was utterly helpless. Only a few weeks ago the Queensland Railway Union metaphorically speaking, wiped its boots on the State Premier and his Government, and in respect to what was happening in the north the Government was in exactly the same position. The laws of the land were enforced, and industry was carried on in the proper way only when the primary producers, seeing that the product of their year’s work was likely to be destroyed un less they took some desperate action, organized themselves, and came into the port to do what the Government should have done.
– They had a little revolution on their own.
– They came in and crushed the revolution that was being attempted in the north of Queensland by the red element, and cleaned up the place in as good a style as was possible. Cairns, Bowen, and Gladstone are. better places for the visits paid to them by the farmers.
– Did not the honorable senator claim that the farmers took from the Government the management of affairs, and was not that in the nature of a revolution?
– I said that the Labour Government was absolutely helpless, and could not enforce its laws, and that these people came in to help the Government do the work it should have done without that help. It was the primary producers, and not the Government, who crushed the trouble in North Queensland. I believe that what was done there revealed to the people of Australia generally just what was actually the position in the north in regard to the red menace, and that the events I have narrated not only had a great deal to do with the cleaning up of that part of Australia, but also acted as a deterrent in other parts of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 January 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260120_senate_10_112/>.