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Thursday, 8 October 1914
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Senator GUY (Tasmania) . - I move -

That the following Address» - «in» - «Reply» to His Excellency the Governor-General's Speech be agreed to : -

To His Excellency the Governor-General.

May it please Your Excellency :

We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

I count it an honour to the State which I am called upon to represent that the moving of the «Address» - «in» - «Reply has been placed in the hands of one of its senators. I should like, sir, to congratulate you upon being returned for the great State of Queensland at the head of the poll, and also upon having received the approbation of your colleagues in the Senate, and upon having been appointed to the honorable position which you occupy. It is no mean commendation, no mean honour, to be called upon to fill such an office. It is one of the highest positions that the country can bestow on a citizen, and so I congratulate you, sir, upon your elevation to the chair. The one absorbing topic to-day, the question of greatest importance to us, is the " calamitous " state of affairs, as it is put in His Excellency's Speech, created by our nation and the foremost nations of Europe being embroiled in war. It is not a pleasant reflection; it is sad, indeed, to think that with our boasted civilization, not to say Christianity, the foremost nations of the world have not found a better means of settling their disputes than the arbitrament of the sword. I regret the fact exceedingly, and I most fervently hope that the present terrible carnage will be brought to a speedy termination - not only speedy, but satisfactory to the British races and their allies. What it means to Australia no one can say; what it might have been would be hard for anybody to conjecture. But we can congratulate ourselves on the fact that, because of the foresight and the organization of the. National Parliament, we have been in some measure prepared to defend ourselves. I believe that all parties, latterly at any rate, desire to prepare Australia to defend itself. At the same time. I do claim this credit for our own party ; that we were the first to initiate the Australian citizen soldiery and the Australian-owned navy. Of latter years I have been glad to observe that our opponents in politics have joined with us in organizing a force to defend Australia against possible aggression.

Senator Long - " Opponents " is rather a dignified term to apply to them now, is it not?

Senator GUY - I hope that whatever I may say here will be moderate. I shall not seek to offend anybody purposely; I shall not hesitate to criticise when it appears to me that it is necessary to do so; but in any criticism I offer T hope that honorable senators on the other side will feel that I do not mean to be personally offensive to any one. In a condition of war the masses of the people suffer most. I know that from my reading. I have read many accounts of warfare that have thrilled me with horror at the carnage and the bloodshed. But nearly always it has been the masses of the people who have had to endure the greatest proportion of the suffering. I maintain that when we have the people thoroughly represented in the various Parliaments of the world - in the foremost countries anyway - there will be an end t6 war. The people do not want war; indeed, I believe that if the people of the countries which are engaged in the deadly conflict to-day had been afforded the opportunity to say whether they would or would not have war, ninetenths of them would have said, " No war." I contend that the first step to take, not only here, but elsewhere, as far as we have influence, is to get the people thoroughly represented in the Legislatures, and then assuredly we shall have a cessation of warfare.

Senator Stewart - And have no despots like Kaiser Wilhelm.

Senator GUY - Yes.

Senator Stewart - Off with every monarchy; let us have republics, and then there will be no war.

Senator GUY - We want no despots.

Senator Long - And no tinpot ones, either.

Senator GUY - I hope that when the present terrible carnage ceases the despots who, possibly, have been the aggressors will be removed from their positions, and will be able to do ill no more. In such a time as the present one can almost pity the Government that has control. The conditions of Australia are sad enough in many cases. The work that lies before any Government is enough to make strong men tremble. I think that to the Australian Government to-day are due the sympathy and the support of every right-minded person throughout the country.

Senator Needham - Support without sympathy.

Senator GUY - We want their support and sympathy.

Senator Needham - Support.

Senator GUY - We will ask for both. There is no telling what this means to Australia. I believe that we have at the head of affairs to-day Ministers who will meet the situation like men, bravely and firmly, and do their best in the interests of the country. I am charitable enough to think that our opponents in the Federal Parliament to-day will join with the Government in this calamitous time, and help them to put matters on as satisfactory a footing as possible in the circumstances. There are lessons for us to learn from the events of the present calamitous time. At the outset of the war, a kind of panic set in, and there was a measure of paralysis in trade. Evidence of this panic was noticeable on every hand amongst the highest and the lowest in the community. The GovernorGeneral, in the course of his Speech, intimates that -

Financial proposals will be made to meet the exceptional conditions and the consequent dislocation of trade and commerce.

It is necessary that we should promote a feeling of confidence amongst the people. We should do what is possible to prevent any kind of panic or commercial paralysis. We should, to the utmost of our ability, encourage and promote a feeling of confidence in the trading community, in order that business may be carried on aa usual. If any state of panic were allowed to continue, it would have a most demoralizing effect upon the community, whilst if a feeling of confidence is created normal, or almost normal, conditions will prevail in Australia. I have said that there are lessons to he learnt from the present time. A number of men engaged in various occupations have been turned out of their employment because, as a result of the war, there is practically no market for their products. Every member of the Senate must be aware of many instances of the kind. I see that in the Governor-General's Speech proposals are hinted at for the promotion of new industries to increase the avenues of employment, and for the opening up of markets for those products tie markets for which have at present disappeared, as the result of the outbreak of the war. Many of our people have been employed in the production of raw materials which have been sent beyond the seas to be manufactured into completed articles which are, in many cases, returned for sale in Australia. "We ought, as far as possible, to manufacture our raw materials into the completed articles for which there is a sale amongst our own people. This matter is referred to in one of the paragraphs of the opening Speech. It should be our endeavour to make Australia a selfcontained community, so that calamities such as that which has occurred in Europe may not have the effect of dislocating our national industries. I would appeal to honorable senators, and to the country, to help, rather than harass, the Government, until we emerge from these troublous times. After that, opponents of the Government may criticise them if they think it necessary to do so. Leaving the matter of the war and its consequences, I want to say that I was sent to the Senate as a representative of the party that is at present sitting on the Government side. Although I do not take any particular credit for it, I have been a worker and supporter of the Labour movement since I was very young, and that is not two days ago. I say in all sincerity, and without intending to cast reflections upon any one, that I have been convinced for years that there is only one party and one platform calculated to bring justice to the great mass of the people. Imbued with that idea from my early years, I have, in season and out of season, consistently worked for the Labour party. I conscientiously believe that the Labour party is destined to bring about better conditions for the great mass of the people than they have ever enjoyed before. I have watched the growth of the Labour movement in Australia from its inception. I have been pleased to note that the growth of the Labour party has been phenomenal. It is less than a quarter of a century ago since the Labour movement was started. I can remember the jeers and sneers which were cast at those who took a hand in the movement at its inception. Notwithstanding the Titanic obstacles placed in the path of the movement, the Labour party has grown as no other party ever grew in the world's history. It has had to encounter a practically unanimous hostile press. It has had to encounter opposition and misrepresentation, and to break down prejudice. Notwithstanding all this opposition and hostility, it has grown, as I have said, in a phenomenal way. At the inception of this Federal Parliament only twenty-four members of the Labour party were returned to it, whilst there were eighty-seven on the other side. In 1906 there were forty-six members of the Labour party returned, whilst those opposed to Labour numbered sixty-five. In 1913 there were' sixty-six Labour members returned to this Parliament, and forty-five members on the other side. Coming to the latest election, that of 1914, we find that the Labour party in this Parliament is still increasing in numbers, and we have to-day seventy-three Labour members, whilst there are only thirty-eight opposed to us. Naturally, I am very pleased at the success of a movement of which I have been an ardent supporter for the last twenty years. I am glad to see its progress, and to note that the people are beginning to realize the worth of a platform such as that put forward by the Labour party in Australia. I have argued publicly that something more than mere chance must be sought to account for the results which have followed the submission of the Labour platform to the people. I attribute the phenomenal growth of the Labour party in Australia to the fact that there is something sound and solid in the Labour platform, and something in it that appeals to the people as worthy of their support, and calculated to build up in Australia a nation of which we may well be proud. In 1910 the Labour party was, for the first time, returned to control in the Federal Parliament. I remember the many gruesome predictions that were made from public platforms as to what would happen if the people were ever so foolish as to permit the Labour party to be returned to power in Australia. All sorts of direful predictions were made as to what would be the result. I suppose that such things wore not said in this chamber, but we know that it was said outside that people who owned land were going to have it stolen from them, whilst a great many other equally silly statements were made. Not one of these crude and silly predictions has been fulfilled. Of all the evil things that were to follow upon the advent of the Labour party to power, not one has actually happened. I make bold to say that during the three years the Labour party was in power in Australia there was greater progress and prosperity in the country than ever before. .More beneficent legislation was placed upon the statute-book during that period than at any previous time in the history of Federation. I do not propose to recount the beneficent actions of the Labour party while they were in office, as it would take too long to do so. The trade of Australia increased as it never increased before during that three years' period.

Senator Shannon - I hope it will do so in the next three years.

Senator GUY - I join with the honorable senator in the expression of that hope, although, under existing conditions, it is a great deal to expect. I shall look to the honorable senator for support for the party in bringing about that result. I want to say that, notwithstanding the evil predictions as to what would happen should the Labour party come into power, and despite the fact that we were told that capital would leave the country, we found that the value of the assets and deposits in the banks increased beyond all measure. The increase of Savings Bank deposits is always regarded as indicative of the progress of the people generally, and notwithstanding the predictions that ruin would overtake Australia, that capital would be driven from the country, and that all sorts of dire calamities would -ensue, it is an undeniable fact that during the regime of the Labour party the number of depositors in our Savings Banks increased beyond the most sanguine anticipations. "Senator Bakhap. - Does not the honorable senator think that the rain had something to do with it?

Senator GUY - Senator Bakhap knows perfectly well that when those predictions were made they were not the subject of a proviso that they would not be ful filled if rain came. I do not claim that the Labour party were responsible for the rainfall ; but I do say that statistics prove that while the Labour Government were in power beneficent increases occurred in every department. I do not wish to detain honorable senators by entering into details at the present juncture, but I have in my possession figures which convincingly demonstrate the enormous progress that was made in Australia during that term. After the party to which I belong had been in office for three years, they discovered that there were certain limitations in the Constitution which prevented them from legislating in directions that they desired. Like manly men, they told the country that unless this Parliament were endowed with further legislative powers, they could not give effect to their desires. Accordingly, they appealed to the electors to grant them those additional powers. Their action engendered bitter opposition on the part of interested persons - persons of wealth who were exploiting the people and who recognised that their profits would be reduced if those extended powers were granted. These individuals spared no expense in their efforts to foment opposition to the Ministerial proposals, and as a result of those proposals being submitted to the people at a referenda taken simultaneously with the 1913 elections, the Fisher Government suffered defeat, notwithstanding that even for the House of Representatives the votes cast for Labour candidates exceeded those recorded in favour of their opponents. The Liberal party thus obtained a majority of one in the other Chamber. Whilst they were on the hustings, they made certain pledges to the electors, which they had failed to redeem, with the result that, after two barren sessions of Parliament, another appeal was made to the electors. That appeal was based mainly upon one measure, which prohibited preference being granted to unionists in the temporary employ of the Government. I have in my pocket speeches by honorable senators opposite which show conclusively that that Bill was made the test question at the recent elections.

Senator Barker - Has the honorable senator a copy of Senator Bakhap's speech upon it?

Senator GUY - I have. However, I do not wish to produce it now. The result of that appeal may be seen to-day in both branches of the Legislature. The electors have given us an express mandate on that question. They have told us that preference must be granted to unionists. This Chamber reflects that mandate in the most definite and emphatic way.I come now to paragraph 5 of the GovernorGeneral's Speech, which reads -

Financial proposals to meet the exceptional conditions arising out of the war, and the consequent dislocation of trade and commerce, are under consideration by my advisers, and will shortly be laid before you.

Paragraph 11 deals with practically the same subject. It says -

The necessity of restoring normal conditions in Australian industries is fully recognised by my advisers. To that end Commonwealth public works will be vigorously proceeded with, and active measures will be taken toco-operate with the State Governments, and also to supplement as far as practicable the efforts of individual employers.

The views embodied in those paragraphs, will, I feel sure, commend themselves to every member of this Chamber. Unfortunately, the present calamitous position has caused thousands of men to become unemployed. These men have not the wherewithal to provide food and clothing for those who are near and dear to them. Obviously, it is our primary duty to look after our own people. I am glad that the Government have taken into consideration, at the earliest opportunity, a method of providing the workers of Australia who now find themselves unemployed with an opportunity to maintain themselves and their families during this period of exceptional stress. There is one other matter to which I desire briefly to refer. Paragraph 7 of the Vice-Regal utterance reads -

Upon the declaration of war, the Australian Navy was immediately placed at the disposal of the Admiralty.

That circumstance ought to imbue us with increased confidence in an Australianowned Navy. It is to-day beyond cavil that our Navy is the first arm to which we must look for protection against possible invasion. During the present international crisis it has been of immense service in keeping our maritime channels clear, and in enabling our commerce to proceed uninterruptedly.

Senator Bakhap - All the honorable senator's colleagues did not think that last year.

Senator Guthrie - Who did not?

Senator Bakhap - Two or three of them.

Senator Guthrie - Name.

Senator Bakhap - Senator de Largie and Senator Stewart.

Senator GUY - Where there was one member of the Labour party who took that view, there were five members of the so-called Liberal party. I can quote their very words, if necessary.

Senator O'Keefe - I remember when there was not an advocate of an Australian Navy on the opposite side of the Chamber.

Senator Bakhap - Do not stir up that question, or the honorable senator may hear something which he will not like.

Senator GUY - For some years I have been a close reader of the debates which have taken place in this Chamber and elsewhere, so that I am not altogether ignorant of what has occurred here. I recollect the utterances of certain representatives in regard to what they termed " tinpot " navies and " mosquito " fleets. I recollect an occasion on which one honorable member after another belonging to the party opposite rose arid said that he supported an Australian citizen soldiery only in deference to public opinion. I am referring now to events which occurred in 1909.

Senator Bakhap - What about events in 1913 1 That is a little bit later.

Senator GUY - There is an old saying that " the exception proves the rule," and the matter to which the honorable senator is referring constitutes the exception. Surely he will not judge a whole party by the utterances of one member of it?

Senator Bakhap - That is precisely what the honorable senator is doing.

Senator GUY - Nothing of the sort. I am glad to know that we shall hear no more talk about "tinpot" navies and " mosquito " fleets. Instead, we shall hear nothing but admiration for our Australian defence scheme and our Australian Navy.

Senator Needham - Who advocated the continuance of the Naval subsidy of £200,000 a year?

Senator GUY - I remember that.

Senator Bakhap - Who advocated its reduction ?

Senator GUY - Paragraph 8 of the Governor-General's Speech says -

The disappearance of the Australian submarine AE1 and the loss of its gallant crew are deeply regretted. My advisers join in the universal sorrow felt for the other brave nien who have perished on land and sea in defence of the Empire.

With that every honorable senator will Agree. According to paragraph 9 of the Governor-General's Speech, the Government propose to make a free gift of £100,000 to Belgium. I said a moment ago that our first duty is at home, and 1' still maintain that; but while we have duties at home we may well show our gratitude to the people of Belgium by giving them the comparatively small sum mentioned. It will amount, roughly, to about 5d. per head from the people of Australia, and I do not think any one will grumble at having to find that. I notice also a proposal to increase old-age and invalid pensions, and to extend the pensions to widows and orphan children. Considering that the cost of living has largely increased it is only fair for us to increase the old-age pension proportionately. I have long desired to see the pension granted to widows with orphans - that is the way I put it. I do not know *hat the details of the measure will be, but if it is proposed to give the pension simply to widows and orphans there may be a danger of those getting it who will not require it. I have no doubt, however, that the measure will be properly safeguarded so' as to provide for widows with orphans who are more or less in want.

Senator Bakhap - Indigent widows and orphans.

Senator GUY - Not exactly indigent; but I hope it will be so safeguarded that the pension will not be given indiscriminately. There is no more pitiable :sight on this earth than a poor woman left with little children, the breadwinner being gone. It has been my sad duty many a time to go to the Tasmanian Government to seek some aid for women who have been left in distressed circumstances, and I must say that I have never failed to secure sympathy and support. Until recently the Tasmanian Government have been always in a more or less impecunious position, and have not been able to give as much as they would like, and so I rejoice at the fact that our Government propose to bring in a measure with the very desirable object of granting pensions to widows and orphans.

Senator Mullan - As a right, not as a charity.

Senator GUY - Certainly it should be given as a right. I notice another proposal to establish effective Protection. I have always been a Protectionist, and cannot but support a measure of this kind ; though I can see enormous difficulties in the way. Care will have to be exercised to prevent anomalies, but I have no doubt that the combined intelligence of both chambers will be equal to the task. Only the other day I received a letter from a man connected with a" firm in Tasmania that is engaged in building motor car bodies. This firm has received a notification, in view of the probable early introdution of a Protective Tariff, that if a certain firm's cars are imported without the bodies very little will be taken off the cost. If they do not import the body with the car the cost of the whole car, they are told, will be reduced by only £6. My informant says that it will cost anythin? from £50 to £110 to build the body of the car, and yet the firm in America is going to reduce the cost by only £6. unless the whole car, including the body, is imported. We shall have to exercise all kinds of care to prevent this kind of thing creeping in. According to paragraph 14 the scheme for the utilization of the Murray waters approved at the Premiers' Conference in 1913 will receive early consideration. I know absolutely nothing of this question, and shall not commit myself to anything of that character until I know what it is. It is proposed in paragraph 15 to deal with the question of a uniform gauge for railways. If the present war has taught us any lesson at all it is that we ought to have a uniform railway gauge, so that we may mobilize our forces with more expedition than we can possibly do to-day. It may be that I cannot see the difficulties that others see, but I have always thought it possible for the Commonwealth to control the whole of the railways of Australia. I know that there are difficulties in the way, but 1 never could recognise them as insuperable. I do not wonder that strangers think it extraordinary that we should have breaks of gauge at the borders of almost every State, where every one has to change from one train to another, and have all his luggage and goods transferred. It must strike them as a most idiotic arrangement. When the transcontinental railway is completed, it may be necessary to send troops from Queensland to Western Australia.

Senator Bakhap - They can be taken more quickly by water in any circumstances.

Senator GUY - I am very doubtful about that; but, in any case, some scheme to establish a uniform gauge for the Commonwealth is at the present time most commendable. I am rejoiced to find in the Governor-General's Speech a proposal to resubmit the questions submitted previously to the people by way of referenda for the enlargement of the powers of this Legislature. I give that my heartiest commendation. I quite realize, in relation to paragraph 18, that there are enormous difficulties in the way of developing the Northern Territory. I am glad to notice that the prospects are improving; but if we want to build up a nation in Australia and develop the Territory, the duty devolves upon every legislator in this Parliament to have the Territory peopled, and I commend the Government for the efforts they are making. I strongly support the proposal to establish a line of Commonwealth steamers. It will be of enormous advantage to Tasmania. We in that State suffer enormously through the operations of the steam-ship companies' combine. Our fares and freights are the highest in the Commonwealth. We have to pay more per mile for fares and freights than do the people of any other State of the Commonwealth.

Senator O'Keefe - It also affects many mainlanders in business.

Senator GUY - That is so, and it also affects many who travel to Tasmania to enjoy our beneficent climate. I am going to give that proposal my heartiest support, but not from a purely selfish State point of view, although I recognise that it will be of enormous benefit to us, and will clip the wings of the combine that is operating throughout Australia. If the Government start a line as soon as possible to connect Tasmania with the mainland, it will be a warning to the steamship companies who are exploiting the people throughout the Commonwealth to be careful as to how much they extort from the pockets of the people in the way of freights and fares. In regard to the proposal to amend the Arbitration Act, it is a duty that devolves upon every legis lator when defects are seen in any measure to seek to remedy them. Most pronounced and glaring defects have been discovered in that Act, and I commend the Government for proposing to amend them. The Electoral Act certainly calls for amendment. It has been our sad duty to-day to express in a united way our profound sorrow for the loss of an honorable senator who long occupied a seat in this chamber. The very circumstances of his demise show the need for amending the Electoral Act. They may have been fortunate for one who sits on the other side of 'the chamber in that he was elected at the last election, but, without being disrespectful to the honorable senator, I say that he would not have been elected on that occasion had it not been for the fact that the death of exSenator McGregor left only five Senate candidates on the Labour ticket in South Australia. This points to the necessity, in one particular alone, for amending theElectoral Act, and it would be unworthy of us if we left the provisions untouched,, and allowed a similar occurrence to arise, if unfortunately it should, without providing any means to meet the contingency. We are promised a Bill relating to banking. Such legislation is also necessary. Again, uniform legislation relating to> marriage, divorce, and matrimonial causes is to be submitted. At present the citizens of one State are subject to unnecessary hardship by the lawsin the different States being so divergent. So, I think that we should seek to have uniform laws in this regard throughout Australia, and thus avoid inflicting hardships on many men and women in certain circumstances. I am prepared to givethis proposal my hearty commendation. In conclusion, let me say that I trust we shall bring all our energies to bear on measures to bring about reforms wherethey are necessary, and that we shall set out to do work that will help to build up the nation on a solid and sound footing, and bring it to the position we all hopeit will occupy. I am an Australian by birth, and I love Australia - I love thepeople more - and I hope to live to see it one of the greatest nations, and the freest nation. Already we possess the freest and fullest franchise, so that all men and women have an equal right in the selection of their representatives inthis Legislature, and I hope we shall seeto it that every man and woman and' every child born into this community will have the amplest opportunity to live the full and free life that is the right of every human being. I have much pleasure, therefore, in moving the motion that I submitted at the outset.

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