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Wednesday, 14 October 1914


Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) . - The item in the Governor-General's Speech which seems to me to be of the greatest importance in the present crisis in Australian affairs is set out in paragraph 12, which reads -

To promote the establishment of new Australian industries, and further develop those already established, it is intended to amend the Tariff.

If ever there was a time in Australian history when the fact should have been brought home with peculiar force to the Australian people that this country ought to be self-contained and self-supporting, surely that time is now. Senator Stewart has dwelt very forcibly upon the necessity which exists for such a revision of our Tariff as will make it really Protective in its incidence. He has stated with perfect truthfulness that, at present, it cannot be regarded as a Protective Tariff, but only as a revenue Tariff. During last year we imported goods to the value of £79,000,000, more than half of which might have been made up in this country by our own work people, providing profitable employment for them, and a profitable outlet for capital invested in industries. To say that a Tariff which gives such a result in a country like Australia, with its magnificent resources for the production of raw material, is properly called a Protectionist Tariff is to juggle with words. Within the last few months, since the present terrible world's crisis has brought the question forcibly under their notice, it must have come home to the people of Australia that we have been playing a fool's game in the Federal Parliament since the establishment of Federation. In the early years of Federation it was my privilege to occupy a place here as a foundation member of the Senate. I took part in the long discussion on the first Federal Tariff, which took some months to go through both branches of the Legislature. There were three parties in the Parliament at the time, and amongst them those who favoured" Free Trade and Protection were very evenly balanced. No one of the* three parties was comprised of men who were all pledged to a ' particular course on the Tariff issue. The consequence was that members were continually crossing from one side to the other in each Chamber upon different Tariff items. I recall with pleasure and pride the fact that Senator Keating and I were the only two Tasmanian senators in the first Federal Parliament who were . always to be found in favour of really protectionist duties and of an effective AustralianTariff. For the reasons I have given a hotch-potch of a Tariff was finally passed,, and there has been very little improvement of it from a protectionist point of view up to the present time.


Senator Bakhap - Does the honorable senator not agree that originally it was thought to be a f fairly Protective Tariff ?


Senator O'KEEFE - As originally introduced by that great man, the late Right Honorable Charles Cameron Kingston, it was a good Protectionist Tariff, but its protective incidence was considerably reduced by the efforts of the party to which Senator Bakhap belongs to-day.


Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator has just said that the three parties then in this Parliament were divided on the question.


Senator O'KEEFE - That is so, and I should say that it was the honorable senator's misfortune, and not his fault, that he did not belong to the Fusion party at that time, as he was not then a member of the Senate. Owing to the efforts of men having strong Free Trade predilections the splendidly Protective Tariff originally introduced was greatly altered in the House of Representatives.


Senator Keating - And- by Senator Pearce and others in the Senate.


Senator O'KEEFE - I am willing to put the share of blame which properly belongs to Senator Pearce on that honorable senator's shoulders, which are broad enough to bear it. We have the gratification of knowing that as constant dropping wears away stone, Senator Pearce has become converted, and is to-day a firstclass Protectionist, because his eyes have been opened to the fact that Australia should be a self-contained and selfsupporting nation. When the second revision of the Tariff was made I was not a member of the Senate, because the people of my State thought it good for my health that for a time I should rest from politics. However, I closely followed the course of events in this Parliament, and, so far as the Tariff is concerned, I was not satisfied with what was done in either House. I am not going to shield the part1" to which* I belong from the blame properly attaching to them, because during 1910, 1911, and 1912, when they had an absolute majority in both Houses, they did not bring forward a thoroughly Protective Tariff. They had, however, a good reason for their failure to do so. It was not an excuse, because the Labour party do not need any excuse, and always have good reasons for what they do. Their reason was that when they went to the people in 1910 they advocated the New Protection. They said that if they were given a majority in both Houses, and, by an alteration of the Constitution, were given the power to enforce the New Protection, they would be prepared to increase the Tariff duties. It was because they had not this power that they failed to properly tackle the question of effective Protection for Australia during their term of office. At the close of the regime of the Labour Government a small measure was introduced to rectify a few Tariff anomalies. I am very pleased to say that to-day we are in the positon that we find very few persons professing Free Trade in Australia. There are not many who are game to say to-day, as was said a few years ago, that Australia could progress under Free Trade. I have said that last year we imported goods to the value of £79,000,000. With what gratification must the people of the country with which we are now at war regard these figures when it is shown that we imported manufactured goods from Germany to the value of £7,153,543. We sent to Germany from Australia seven million golden sovereigns.


Senator Bakhap - No, we did not.


Senator O'KEEFE - That is practically what it means. We sent them that money to assist them in buying ammunition with which to shoot the soldiers of the Allies. I know that my honorable friends opposite do not like this sort of talk. They have no wish to see an effective Tariff in Australia.


Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator is not fair.


Senator O'KEEFE - I am not referring to Senator Bakhap ; but I know that some of our honorable friends opposite do not regard with favour the statement appearing in the Governor-General's Speech that an effective Tariff is to be brought forward. I guarantee that a Tariff schedule will be submitted in another place before this session closes, and there will be many members of this Parliament found putting up almost as strenuous a fight for Free Trade as was put up here some years ago.


Senator Blakey - No; the Sydney Morning Herald has converted them.


Senator O'KEEFE - Even the conversion of the Sydney Morning Herald will not affect some of our friends. I notice that in the chief Opposition organ in this State a leading article appeared only today imploring our friends opposite not to support a high Protectionist Tariff until they get the report of the InterState Commission. Whilst we imported from Germany last year goods to the value of £7,153,543, we exported to that country from Australia, chiefly in raw material, goods to the value of £7,441,246. Some people may say that we gained by the exchange; but, as a matter of fact, we did nothing of the kind. Of our exports to Germany wool accounted for £5,050,000. Fancy Australia sending over £5,000,000 worth of wool to Germany! We sent concentrates of metals produced in the big metalliferous fields of Australia which contained silver to the value of £94,793, zinc £307,768, and copper to the value of £643,744. We also exported to Germany hides to the value of £214,000. We exported specie gold as well; but that does not count for the purpose of my argument. Last year we sent to Germany raw material in the shape of wool, silver, zinc, copper, and hides to the value of £6,310,475. It will be admitted that a great deal of that raw material might well have been made up in Australia, and it would have been if we had not been playing the fool in the Federal Parliament since 1901.


Senator Bakhap - And if we had acquired the proper metallurgical knowledge.


Senator O'KEEFE - If we are going to build up industries in Australia and strengthen those already established, what Senator Bakhap has referred to must follow as a matter of course. Our ideas on the subject of Free Trade and Protection must be readjusted. I have never been able to believe that Free Trade is the proper policy for Australia, because it has always seemed to me that a country producing, as we do, enormous quantities of raw material should convert that raw material into the manufactured products required by its people. Manufactured products to the value of many millions of pounds imported from Germany were made from the raw material sent to that country from Australia, and so had to carry two freights. In the circumstances, I am right in saying that we have in this Parliament pursued a foolish policy.


Senator Gardiner - Can the honorable senator mention a Protectionist country where the workmen are housed, fed, and paid decently?


Senator Blakey - Is this the VicePresident of the Executive Council?


Senator O'KEEFE - I am sorry to get that interjection from a member of the Ministry, but, perhaps, I do not rightly understand what the honorable senator means.


Senator Gardiner - Can the honorable senator mention a Protectionist country where the workmen are housed, fed, and paid decently?


Senator O'KEEFE - That is a fair question, and I might reply, first of all, by saying that the question of Free Trade or Protection cannot, and does not, always control the question of wages.


Senator Bakhap - Why not give America as an example?


Senator O'KEEFE - I know there is abject poverty in America, as in every other highly-protected country; but can the honorable senator point to a Free Trade country where there is not also a great deal of abject poverty ? Free Trade or Protection in itself does not absolutely settle the question of the submerged tenth and the poverty of the masses. Something else has to be done. So long as we allow the products of sweated labour countries to flow into Australia over a Tariff barrier which is too low, we have very little chance of improving the conditions of the worker; but give us a chance to have these industries established here, and then, so far as the limits of the Constitution will allow the Federal Legislature to do so, we shall control wages and labour conditions. Where our constitutional limitations prevent us from act ing, the State Parliaments, in which I hope we shall see Labour majorities, will be able to take up and complete the work of improving the conditions of those engaged in our factories. Whatever chance we may have of seeing the best conditions established here for our work people under an effectively Protective Tariff, we certainly have none under a Free Trade Tariff.


Senator Bakhap - You can regulate your internal trade very well, but the great question will be to produce an article for export that will sell.


Senator O'KEEFE - You cannot regulate your internal trade if you have no internal manufactures. That is my answer to the honorable senator, and to the interjection made by Senator Gardiner. The latter will find me just as willing as he is to go to the greatest lengths, so far as we are allowed by our Constitution, to establish what we know as the new Protection. He is a member of the Ministry, and I hope his interjection does not mean that his voice will be raised in favour of what I may call a lower Protective Tariff.


Senator Gardiner - I am looking for a Protectionist who will put forward an argument to justify it.


Senator O'KEEFE - The honorable senator will find plenty of Protectionists to justify it. This is not a party question in the Labour party, except that our leader has publicly stated that the party intend to bring forward an effective Tariff. Consequently, every member of the party will be loyal to his leader's pronouncement. Although there is a Labour Ministry in power, if, when the Tariff reaches the Senate, there are any items in it which I think can be improved by increasing them, my vote will be cast in that direction, even though, on the question, I may be in opposition to the representatives of the Ministry in this Chamber. I do not agree that when once the Tariff comes here from another place the last word has been said. I am glad to say that the Senate has power to increase items by request. It will have equal powers with another place in framing the Tariff, because all the powers of amendment are contained in the power of request. This question is of the utmost importance, because it bears such a close relation to the other great question which is agitating the mind of every thinking man in this country, and that is the question of unemployment and the provision of work for the unemployed.


Senator Bakhap - If we do not win the war we shall have to admit many German articles free.


Senator O'KEEFE -! am not going to contemplate that possibility. Sooner or later the Allies will win out.


Senator Bakhap - I want to show the honorable senator that the war governs even the question of Protection.


Senator O'KEEFE - Of course it governs a lot of questions. It governs the question of our ultimate existence. The great amount of unemployment in Australia to-day is closely related to the Tariff question, because if we had factories all over the Commonwealth making up the £5,000,000 worth of wool that we send to Germany, and the millions of pounds' worth that we send to other parts of the world, that one industry alone would provide very large avenues of profitable and well-paid employment for our men and women. There is also the question of metals, which form the basis of many manufactures. We ought to have industries in Australia making up at least such articles as we use here. One almost stands aghast at the enormous value of manufactures of metals imported in a finished state from other countries year by year made out of raw material which has been won from the earth in Australia, sent to other parts of the world, and frequently made up under such wage conditions as I hope we shall never tolerate here. I do not think many real Free Traders will be found in another place or here when we come face to face with this most important of all questions - that of building up in Australia such industries that we shall be able to say we are a self-contained, self-sustaining, and self-supporting nation. I should like to see on the hoardings the placard which should be the most powerful passport to the pockets of the people - " Made in Australia " - not made in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, or even in Great Britain, because I want to see all these things made here. I am a preferential trader for Australia first, for the Empire afterwards, and then for those who happen to be our Allies at present, although that is a state of things which may not last for many years. I would prefer to see those who want to capture the Australian market come from the other side of the world with their capital and establish their industries here. That is a fair ideal for any Australian to have. Senator Bakhap referred to the vexed question of the double dissolution. It was an important question to some candidates, and a very burning question with us. I always held that wrong use was made of section 57, wrong advice was tendered by the Ministry to the Governor-General, and that he acted wrongly in accepting that. I do not think that any one can be blamed for stating the case in that way. I said so many times during the recent hurried campaign without using any terms that anybody could cavil at in referring to His Excellency. To show that Labour candidates were not alone in disagreeing with the advice given by the Ministry and with His Excellency's acceptance of it, I may be allowed to quote an article published by the great London newspaper, the Times, in its weekly edition, from its Sydney correspondent. I assume that the Times, with its wellknown Conservative ideals, would not knowingly employ a correspondent who had strong Labour views. In the edition of 24th July, the following was published from the Sydney correspondent: -

The new Governor-General has at any rate begun his Australian career dramatically. He has granted the Federal Prime Minister dissolution of both Houses nominally on a question of entire unimportance, which was only raised in order to provide him with such an opportunity. He has, that is, used the most drastic and exceptional powers known to the Constitution for a purpose that seems unworthy of them. It is sometimes forgotten that the double dissolution provided by clause 57 of the Commonwealth Act in case of disagreement between the Houses is merely a means to an end, that end being the treatment of some definite proposal in accordance with the wish of the electors. This, ton. must be steadily kept in mind - that the Bill in dispute is a mere farce.


Senator Bakhap - Were we not returned in 1913 on that very issue?


Senator O'KEEFE - Yes ; on the iSSUE of real preference to unionists, but the honorable senator has interjected a little too soon. He will get his answer as I read on. The Bill was a mere farce, because, as the honorable senator knows, it simply purported to do something which had already been done -

Its object is to prevent preference being given to trade unionists in the Government service. Opposition speeches might lead one to believe that preference to unionists was being attacked. If it were - if the Bill, for instance, forbade the Judge of the Federal Arbitration Court to grant preference to unionists in any of his awards - thnere would be a definite and important issue before the country and one which some Liberals have often cried out for.


Senator Bakhap - Which it should have done.


Senator O'KEEFE - But it did not. That was the gravamen of the whole business.In the 1913 campaign the Cook party fought against real preference to unionists, and, as this article very aptly points out -

But that sort of preference is left intact.

Does the honorable senator say it was not ?

Does he not admit that that sort of preference to unionists was left intact because his party had not the courage to attack it?


Senator Bakhap - We had the courage.


Senator O'KEEFE - Had the honorable senator's party had the courage to force through another place a Bill really repealing preference to unionists and knocking it out of the Arbitration Act, as they said they would do in the previous campaign, they could have done so by means of the gag, and then we in the Senate would have rejected it and brought about the same result.


Senator Gardiner - They decided not to do it.


Senator O'KEEFE - They did, and why? Because they thought that possibly the Governor-General would take the same view as many constitutional authorities took, and would not grant a double dissolution on that question. The article continues -

To employ for the passing of such a Bill mechanism which involves an upset of the regular routine of the Constitution is, to say the least, a very extreme measure.

This is one witness we can bring intothe box who is not a Labour witness. There is here no colouring for the Labour party from the Times. Let me put in a sub-leader which appeared in the London Daily News and Leader of 26th June. Commenting on the same question, it says -

The production of papers in connexion with the Australian dissolution is still being re fused. It is a grave matter, for the case, apart from its details, is likely to establish a precedent, and we are quite sure that it is a very bad one. What has happened is this. The Commonwealth Prime Minister, finding himself with a majority of one in the House of Representatives, and with an overwhelming majority against him in the Senate, passed and sent to the other House a measure important only on the assumption that it would be there rejected.

Not a measure important on the assumption that the Government wanted to see it passed into law, but important only on the assumption that it would be rejected. That is absolutely unsetting the old order of things.


Senator Bakhap - That is their ver sion.


Senator O'KEEFE - Is not that the correct version ?


Senator Bakhap - No.


Senator O'KEEFE - The very reasons which have appeared in print since the present Government took office, the documentary reasons which passed between the late Prime Minister and the Governor-General, show from beginning to end that the measure was only brought forward for that one purpose. Mr. Cook has said so, and it is in black and white.


Senator Bakhap - Would not the more comprehensive measure you have alluded to have been rejected?


Senator O'KEEFE - Certainly, but it would have been an honest measure, put forward according to the pledges of the party to which my honorable friend belongs, and the electors would have known on which side the candidates stood. But this was absolutely upsetting the old order of things, as this newspaper points out, even if not in so many words. It is generally understood that the very idea of government is that the party in power, known as the Ministry, shall prepare measures and bring them forward, strong in the hope that they will be passed by both Houses; but that order of things was reversed. Here was a measure brought forward only on the assumption that it would be rejected and this newspaper very aptly calls attention to that peculiarity of the Cook Government. It says -

It was designed to be rejected, and it was rejected. The Prime Minister thereupon demanded and obtained from the new GovernorGeneral a simultaneous dissolution of both Houses. What is of importance is the implied assumption, apparently indorsed by Sir Ronald Munro Ferguson, that a Ministry has constitutionally the right to claim a dissolution when confronted with a hostile Parliament; and a fortiori, of course, to use the threat of a dissolution to overawe a hostile Parliament. This has been declared to be constitutionally sound doctrine by quite a number of people, most of whom probably do not understand its implications. It is nothing of the kind. The claim of a Ministry to the right to dissolve is an innovation in British constitutional practice, comparatively modern in date and entirely indefensible in theory.

The keynote of this article, the keynote of the complaints made by the members of the Labour party during the late campaign, was that it was a measure which was never framed, and never brought forward, with the idea that it would pass the two Houses, but in the hope that it would simply pass the other House, and would be rejected here twice, with an interval of three months between the two rejections, so that an artificial crisis could be created, thus giving the Government the opportunity to apply for a double dissolution. Getting that opportunity, the Government applied for a double dissolution. They were never happy until they got it, like the little boy with Pears' soap, and now I suppose they are less happy than they were before they made the request. I think lt is one of the most important subjects mentioned in the opening speech, and one which certainly should be mentioned, if honorable senators regard it as of sufficient importance, during the course of this debate, because, after all, it has established something which may be taken as a precedent in the future. If the Senate is to be treated in the future as it was treated by the last Government; if a threat is always to bo held over its head that if it dares to cross a "t" or to dot an " i " in the most trumpery measure sent up by another House; if it dares to disagree in the slightest detail with the verdict of the other House, it will be subjected to the penalty of a dissolution, it might as well be swept out of existence. But I am hoping that, in view of the very pronounced verdict given on this question from one end of Australia to the other, no future GovernorGeneral will act as the present one did in accepting the advice of his Ministers on a measure of such avowed unimportance as this one was.


Senator Mullan - It is to be hoped that the Senate will have the courage to place on record a resolution condemning his action.


Senator O'KEEFE - One does not like to jump on a man when he is down, but even that course would be justifiable, because the action completely revolutionized the Constitution. That advice of the late Administration, and its acceptance by the Governor-General, practically tore the heart out of the Constitution, so far as the importance of the Senate is concerned. Further, when His Excellency refused to ask the opinion of the people on the important questions which the Senate wanted him to refer to them, he was absolutely inconsistent. A financial crime was committed on the people of Australia by the late Government - a crime to which His Excellency was made a party - because in one of the last few speeches he made, the late Prime Minister said that if his party obtained a majority in both Houses, he intended to put to the people certain questions for an alteration of the Constitution. In that case why did he not submit those questions at the late election ? What did his statement mean ? It meant that if he obtained a majority in both Houses he would submit certain questions for an alteration .of the Constitution.


Senator Bakhap - Not at a general election, I hope.


Senator O'KEEFE - If Mr. Cook did not intend to put the questions at a general election, he evidently intended to take them to the people after that event. That would have involved the expenditure of another £80,000, a proceeding for which there was not the slightest excuse.


Senator Bakhap - Can you vouchsafe any information as to the questions to which you refer ?


Senator O'KEEFE - I admit that they were not the questions which the Labour party wanted to put to the people. They did not go nearly as far as our questions went. But my point is that, if the late Prime Minister thought that certain alterations to the Constitution were necessary, was it not a financial blunder of the worst description, in fact, a crime, that he did not put those questions at the late election, instead of waiting to see if he obtained a majority in both Houses, and then putting the questions to the people at an additional cost of £80,000 to the country ? Why should he not have put the questions then ? He could have carried his proposals through the other House, although they would not have satisfied our party. We wanted broader questions referred to the people. We desired the National Parliament to be endowed with greater powers. But Mr. Cook could have carried his set of questions through the other House, and got them put to the people at the recent election without additional expense. Instead of doing that, he said, "I am going to alter the Constitution if I get a majority in each House." How was he going to do that?


Senator Bakhap - We never heard anything about this.


Senator O'KEEFE - Then the honorable senator did not read his leader's speeches.


Senator Bakhap - What proposals do you refer to ?


Senator O'KEEFE - To the proposals outlined by Mr. Cook in one of the last important speeches he addressed to the people in New South Wales. Here are his words plainly" reported.


Senator Bakhap - He had no authority from the Liberal party to put forward any proposals.


Senator Gardiner - He is the Liberal party.


Senator Bakhap - Is he? - with all due respect to him.


Senator O'KEEFE - The honorable senator has not a very high idea of loyalty to his leader when he repudiates his clearly pronounced utterance.


Senator Bakhap - I say that no leader of the Liberal party has authority from the party to put any proposals to the people.


Senator O'KEEFE - I am not disputing the honorable senator's statement that Mr. Cook spoke without the authority of his party.


Senator Bakhap - He spoke for himself.


Senator O'KEEFE - The fact remains that Mr. Cook said that he and his party intended to put to the people questions for the alteration of the Constitution.


Senator Bakhap - He spoke for himself.


Senator O'KEEFE - My honorable friend knows perfectly well that for three or four years Sir William Irvine, another powerful member of the Cook Government, had frequently stated that certain alterations of the Constitution were necessary, but not while a Labour Government was in power. If the Liberal party had obtained a majority in each House, Sir William Irvine, we take it, would have been agreeable to submit these questions to the country, and £80,000 would have been blundered out of the Treasury, one might as well say stolen from the Treasury, if that course had been taken, seeing that the questions might just as easily have been put at the recent election. If Mr. Cook had obtained a majority in each House, either he would have put his questions to the country at a waste of £80,000, or he would have waited for three years until a general election came round. Whatever reasons there are now for these alterations to the Constitution would have gained in strength. Whatever hardships are being suffered by the people owing to the operations or the depredations of trusts and combines to-day would have been very much greater in three years' time, and these injurious combinations would have got their tentacles fixed a little more deeply into the commercial and social life of the people. So that there was absolutely no excuse for the leader of the great Liberal party not to take the opinion of the people on these questions at the recent general election. I have no desire to occupy very much more time. The programme of the Government contains a number of proposals which I believe will gain the approval and support of the members of both parties in each House, especially those measures which make for employment within the ambit of the Federal power. It must not be forgotten when we talk about unemployment in Australia, and of how far the Federal Government can relieve the situation, that our powers are strictly limited by the Constitution. It is to the States that we must look for help ; it is to the States that the great hordes of unemployed must look for relief in that direction. I admit, of course, that the States should be backed financially, and will be backed, by the Federal Government. It is there that our usefulness will come in. When we look at the very few channels of employment- which the Federal Parliament has control of, and the large number which the State Parliaments have control of, it will be seen tha,t it is to the States that the vast number of unemployed must look largely for relief. But there are certain big national works under the control of this Parliament which ought to be taken in hand as soon as possible. The present Government have not had time, however, to get into its stride. They have been in power for only two or three weeks. They have already begun to do things. They have done some very useful things in connexion with the prohibition of the importation of certain articles. Every Minister is bending his energies in the direction of seeing how far, and how soon, this great problem of unemployment may be met by the Federal Government. There will be opportunities for increased employment on the East-West railway. There will be opportunities for increased employment in connexion with the building of the Federal Capital, although it has been decided, I understand, that the erection of the Parliament House shall be deferred for some time. There is, however, a vast amount of other work to be done at the Capital which might well be taken in hand now. Then there is the proposal to unify the railway gauges of Australia. That will provide a good deal of employment from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. There is also another work which I do not see mentioned in the Governor-General's Speech, but which I hope will engage the attention of the Ministry. I think my South Australian friends will agree that it is desirable that we should proceed at once with the construction of the north to south railway, starting from the south. I believe that sooner or later the great heart of this continent must be bridged by rail, and although varying opinions may be held as to whether or not the line should deviate into Queensland there is a general consensus of opinion that it should be proceeded with.


Senator Shannon - The honorable senator is now on the right track.


Senator O'KEEFE - I am always on the right track, and I am quite satisfied from the circumstances which have brought the honorable senator into this chamber that he will be on the right track before six years have elapsed. No doubt Queensland and New South Wales will throw out spur lines to connect with the main line.


Senator Shannon - I will give them every assistance.


Senator O'KEEFE - Another great question which might be dealt with has reference to the utilization of the Murray waters. I do not profess to have given this matter very careful consideration, but I am fairly well satisfied to follow the lead of the Government. There is one other item which affects Tasmanian senators more than it does other members of this chamber. We do hope that the Government during their term of office will give effect to their promise to establish a Commonwealth line of steamers between the mainland and Tasmania. Every man who knows anything about the conditions of trade existing between the mainland and Tasmania will agree that there is vast room for improvement. Senator Bakhap has already declared himself in favour of a Stateowned line of steamers-


Senator Bakhap - In certain circumstances.


Senator O'KEEFE - I think that those circumstances will be found to have arisen when the matter engages the attention of this Parliament. I do not propose to raise the question of who is responsible for the establishment of an Australian Navy, but in the early days of Federation I know that not one member of the party which is now in opposition was in favour of that project. I could weary honorable senators by delving into ancient history, and quoting the speeches of members of the so-called Liberal party who at that time were opposed to an Australian Navy.


Senator Pearce - It was not only the Opposition, but the Government who were opposed to it. The Deakin party in 1903 were against the establishment of an Australian Navy.


Senator O'KEEFE - The Government of that time were certainly opposed to it.


Senator Pearce - Sir Josiah Symon was the only supporter of it.


Senator O'KEEFE - Then I was doing Senator Keating too much justice, because I was under the impression that he was a supporter of it. Tb-day Senator Bakhap endeavoured to make it appear that all parties were in favour of the creation of an Australian Navy. I say that all parties were not in favour of it until quite recently. But late converts are better than no converts at all. We are glad that we have won them over - we, who from the beginning of Federation, fought for the establishment of an Australian Navy manned by Australians, and built with Australian money, and not with borrowed money.


Senator Bakhap - Members of the Labour party opposed it as late as last year.


Senator O'KEEFE - Only a few individual members of it.


Senator Guy - What does our platform say?


Senator O'KEEFE - As I am reminded by the pertinent question of Senator Guy, who has been a member of the Labour movement for twenty years, our attitude upon this matter is clearly laid down in our platform. There is only one other item to which I desire to invite Senator Bakhap's attention, and I am sure that in this connexion he will be interested to hear me read a few extracts. The honorable senator blamed the Labour party for having cast aspersions on the Liberal party in relation to the question of old-age pensions. He claimed that to the Liberal party was due all the credit for having established the system of oldage pensions. I wish, therefore, to read one or two extracts from Hansard bearing on this matter. Mr. Bruce Smith, for example, said -

In dealing with pension cases I have been struck with this anomaly, that the present system offers an inducement to improvidence, but we should not lend ourselves to one which deliberately discourages thrift and offers a premium to improvidence.

That quotation will be found on page 2795 of Hansard for 1911. I come now to

Sir WilliamIrvine, who said ;

I should be very sorry, however, to see a system of old-age pensions doled out by the Treasury made a permanent part of our public policy. 1 think I am right in saying that the view of nearly all those who have been engaged in such work is that the contributory basis is Che only sound and permanent basis for a system of this kind.

Then Mr. Atkinson said -

Whilst I am not against the old-age pensions system, I should like to see some collateral system established whereby it might be brought home to the people that it is the duty of every citizen, as far as possible, to put himself above the need of an old-age pension, and also to provide for the necessities of those who are not so fortunate as he may have been. But all should be made to contribute in some way.

Here was an absolutely contributory system advocated by Mr. Atkinson, who proceeded - and when a' man has to draw his pension there should be no stigma of charity attaching to it. He should be able to take it as a reward for his own foresight.

I am not going to enter into a discussion upon the merits of a contributory system, but I do deny the assertion of Senator Bakhap that the Liberal party were in favour of the old-age pensions system.


Senator Bakhap - Sir William Irvine drafted the first Bill dealing with the scheme.


Senator O'KEEFE - Then the Hon. Joseph Cook said -

I wish now to refer to the question of oldage pensions. For a long time I have feltthat our scheme is upon a wrong footing. Old-age pensions should be lifted out of thecharitable rut in which they are running.

The taint of pauperism and charity should be entirely eliminated from them. . . . The more I think of it the more convinced I am that we must come ultimately to a formof national insurance which will give every man - the millionaire as well as the poor man - who subscribes to his own insurance fund the right to receive that insurance without the taint of pauperism or charity in his old age. That is the scheme which commends itself to my mind.

Here again we have the contributory system advocated, and not the old-age pensions system which is in force to-day. At that stage Mr. Catts interjected -

If the honorable member had that scheme, would he repeal the Old-age Pensions Act? to which Mr. Cook replied -

There would be no need for the Old-age Pensions Act if there were in operation a scheme such as I have in mind.

A.s Senator Bakhap was so hurt by the aspersions cast by Labour members upon the Liberal party in this connexion, I wish to make a final quotation from a speech by Sir William Irvine, in which he said -

The people of Australia will have to take into their serious consideration how far they are prepared to go with this system of meeting all the troubles of life by paying doles out of the public Treasury. An end should come to it. I have been charged personally with being opposed to old-age pensions system. ... I have never been in favour of taking away any man's pension that has been granted to him.


Senator Bakhap - Did the honorable senator put that in the circular over his name ?


Senator O'KEEFE - It did not go in any circular over my name, but the statement appeared exactly as I have read it, and the words, "Any man's pension that has been granted to him," are even in raised type. But he went on to say -

But the policy of the Government is that we should, as soon as possible, ask the people of Australia to sanction the initiation of a contributory insurance that would meet most of these cases in the long run.


Senator Bakhap - Does that involve the non-payment of a single existing pension?


Senator O'KEEFE - It is of no use for Senator Bakhap to become angry on the ground that his party were maligned. Our honorable friends opposite stated from every platform in Australia that they were being misrepresented on this question, because they said they were in favour of old-age pensions. I have given quotations from a number of their leading members which show that they were not in favour of the old-age pension scheme as we have it to-day.


Senator Bakhap - Do the statements quoted involve the non-payment of a single old-age pension now being paid?


Senator O'KEEFE - No; that much is admitted in the quotations I have given.


Senator Bakhap - It was not admitted in the honorable senator's circular. The word " war " is what he had at the top of the circular.


Senator O'KEEFE - The matter I have quoted appeared in some of the circulars, and it was admitted that the party opposite did not propose to interfere with existing pensions. The point is, that while Sir William Irvine, Mr. Joseph Cook, and other leading members of the party had no objection to continue the payment of pensions to those now drawing them for the few years during which those poor old people would be in a position to draw them, no additional men reaching the age of sixty-five, or women reaching the age of sixty, should, in their opinion, be able to. draw old-age pensions.


Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator knows that that is a " bull'swool " statement altogether.


Senator O'KEEFE - I do not know what " bull'swool " is. If it is anything like the hirsute adornment of Senator Bakhap, it is rather nice, and I am sorry I did not let mine grow. My argument is, and there is no getting away from it, that the policy advocated by a number of the leading members of the Opposition was to continue the payment of old-age pensions to those now drawing them, but to grant no new pensions except under a contributory scheme. I think I have occupied the attention of the Senate quite long enough. There is quite a number of matters in the Governor-General's Speech upon which one would like to touch ; but I shall not weary honorable senators with any reference to them now. I hope that during thethree years in which the present Government will remain in power all the big measures referred to in the Speech will be brought forward for the development of Australia in every possible way, and will receive the cordial approval and assistance of our friends opposite, even to the extent of voting for a thoroughly sound and effective Protective policy for Australia.

Debate (on motion by Senator Lt. -Colonel Sir Albert Gould) adjourned.







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