Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 8 June 1906


Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) (Minister of External . Affairs) . - The duty of replying to the criticism that has been offered on the Governor-General's speech, which devolves upon me to-day, is one which can be easily discharged without imposing any serious burden upon the time of the House. The criticism to which the speech has been subjected was considerate on the part of the two honorable members who were good enough to move and second the Address-in-Reply. Suggestions were offered by them, which, of course, will receive full consideration in respect of the matters on which they were urged. It was but natural that the honorable member for Barker, in the course of his telling review of many important questions, should lay stress upon a national question which has an important bearing upon the State of which he is a representative, and I can assure him that the possibilities of the Northern Territory have by no means escaped the attention, of this Government. So far as our opportunities have permitted us, we have followed up the proposed transfer of that Territory from the point at which it was previously laid aside, at all events for a time, at the suggestion of the Government of South Australia itself. We have lost no opportunity of advancing it, and very shortly the correspondence which will be laid upon the table of this House will enable honorable members to judge how fast we are coming to a practical issue. The great extent of that Territory, and the strategical importance of its position, must not blind us to the fact that the same work of development, which has been required in more favoured parts of Australia from the white man's point of view, would be doubly necessary in a country where, in the low-lying lands at all events, the heat is severe, and in settlements which would be separated from us by a considerable voyage until the Transcontinental Railway shall have been constructed. But, freely admitting all these considerations, it appears to me that the Commonwealth, representing the whole of Australia, is under an obligation to undertake the care of and responsibility for that great tract of country, so soon as reasonable terms can be arrived at. There is a business side to the transaction, which cannot be neglected. Money has been spent by South Australia, and a good deal more will need to be spent by us. The taxpayers will require us to examine very carefully the amount of the commitment which the acceptance of this Territory would involve. Beyond that I know of no obstacle in the way of its transfer, and shall certainly be very glad for anything which can. be done by us in that connexion. I confidently count on the assistance of honorable members generally to remove any obstacles which may exist. Passing by for the moment the other portions of the able speech of the honorable member for Barker, and turning to the cogent, practical, and spirited utterance of the honorable member for Moira, I have to admit that the restrictions under which we labour in dealing with the great question of immigration are those to which he has called attention forcibly. Speaking with his own intimate knowledge, not merely of this State, but of other States - in fact one might say of Australian farming and Australian farmers - he called attention to what has long been a serious evidence of an unsatisfactory condition of things in most of the States. This has caused the sons of our farmers to be driven far from the paternal home, although in the neighbourhood of that home there, may be tens of thousands of acres well fitted for ordinary cultivation, or fitted, by the application of water, for intense culture - lands upon which they would gladly settle, but upon which they are not afforded an opportunity of settling at present. Beyond that I do not desire to go, because the facts involve, by implication, a criticism of the land legislation and administration, for which most of us have been more or less responsible in one or other of the States. But I fully admit that the proposals which will be submitted for the encouragement of further agricultural settlers from Home must be safeguarded by assurances from the several States that such persons when brought out to Australia to be placed upon the soil shall be able to find land upon which they can settle with a decent prospect of earning by industry and ability the livelihood which they come to seek. In that regard, I may remind the honorable member that the letter which has been addressed to the Government of every State since I had the opportunity of meeting the Premiers in conference in Sydney, has requested from each as the most essential piece of information, a statement of the number of immigrants which each is prepared to absorb annually, and for whom they are prepared to find land. That information is necessary in order that we may know upon what scale the proposed efforts of the Commonwealth to put the circumstances of Australia before the people of the mother country, and to attract suitable settlers from there, shall be undertaken. With that knowledge to hand, I hope to be able to submit at a later period of the session - and probably in connexion with the Estimates - a vote which shall be reasonable in amount, having regard to the work that is to be accomplished. It will not be, so to speak, a project in the air. We shall not be drawing a bow at a venture. The vote will -be proposed in accordance with the official representations of each State as to the number of people it desires, and the inducements which it is prepared1 to offer them. When equipped with that data, we can judge how best we may endeavour to reach that" section of the population of the mother country, which hives off year after year, to some other portion of the world, to whom we can s'afely say. - taking all conditions into consideration - that they will find better prospects in Australia than are now open to them, so far as I am aware, in any other part of the globe.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Better in what respect?


Mr DEAKIN - Better in respect of the opportunities which will be afforded them of making an honest livelihood and of founding permanent homes with less disabilities than are imposed upon, them elsewhere.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And with a better prospect of keeping those homes?


Mr DEAKIN - I believe so. I believe that in Australia they will be absolutely secure, to a degree that is unknown in many other countries.


Mr Fuller - Is it proposed to encourage the immigration of artisans ?


Mr DEAKIN - Of course the development of agriculture will necessarily increase the opportunities for employment which are afforded in the towns, and there we can trust by means of industrial legislation to tempt other classes of workmen. An immigration policy, based upon official assurances, proceeding upon facts, and put fairly before the people of the old country, will, I hope, represent the initiation of a great movement. Taken in concert with those amendments of the land laws, and their administration, which it is a matter of public notoriety several States are considering, this ought to put us in a better position in the mother country than we have ever occupied before, both from the standpoint of attracting suitable immigrants, and of providing for them when they come hither. I quite recognise the necessity for proceeding with caution at the outset, because any blunder - any set back at this time - would be liable to re-act upon us for a considerable period. The House has always recognised that any provision for the encouragement of agricultural immigrants can be neither primary nor exclusive - that we need to see first that those farmers' sons to whom the honorable member for Moira so aptly alluded are not shut out of their patrimony. But in this immense continent there is room and far more than room, for all the farmers' sons we have, and for ali that we can attract here. If they do not obtain the best opportunities for commencing life in this new world, the fault will lie very much with its legislators. We are perfectly aware of the differences in climatic conditions, of the existence of unsuitable districts in which agriculturists would be unwisely planted, and of the burdens which would be imposed on them, if they were placed too far away from markets or from railways. Having a knowledge of these facts, we should be able to provide against our old mistakes in legislation. An endeavour is being made in some States to prevent past errors. With our experience of the past, and the knowledge that even what were previously deemed unfruitful parts, are capable of successful cultivation by means of modem appliances and methods, some of which are of comparatively recent discovery, we are in a position to embark in what I believe, will prove to be a successful competition for immigrants of the same blood as our fathers, of the race which has made Australia, Canada, and New Zealand what they are. There is, in the old land, no dearth of persons seeking new homes, and, in providing new homes for such persons, while we shall do a- great deal for them, we shall do much more for the future of the Commonwealth. With that brief reference to tlie speeches of the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply, I come to the criticism of the leader of the Opposition. His remarks on the Governor-General's speech dealt mainly with an omission. The repatriation of the kanakas now in Queensland 'has not escaped the attention of the Government, but the subject, as well as certain other topics, was not referred to in His Excellency's speech, because our programme appeared likely to grow to inordinate length. In point of fact, we have not heard any complaints about it on the score of its brevity. But the public have been kept very fully aware, through the press, of the steps which this Government has taken. Last year we opened communications with the Queensland Government, in order to inform ourselves of the actual number of kanakas whom it would be necessary to repatriate. We have obtained from that Government, from time to time, rather meagre lists of those who appear to have, under the Act, the undoubted right to remain in Queensland, because they went there prior to a certain date, or engaged in certain vocations. But we have also sought to inform ourselves of those who may have what may be called reasonable moral claims to be allowed to remain, either because they have married white women, or because they have established themselves in such a way as to give them some claim to permanent residence. So far, we have only partially succeeded in obtaining that information. But a Commission appointed bv the Government of Queensland to investigate the matter has been sitting for some time, and is required to report this month. It has proceeded from place to place in the sugar districts, inquiring into these questions, and endeavouring to ascertain how many kanakas there are, what are their conditions, and what claims deserving of respect they may have to remain in the State. We have asked the Queensland Government to oblige us at the earliest moment - confidentially, if necessary, because, although the evidence has been taken in public, it has not yet been laid before the Queensland Parliament - with copies of the report and minutes of evidence, so that we may equip ourselves for action without the least delay. We are also in communication, through the High Commissioner of the West Pacific, with the British Resident in the Solomon Islands, and the British Resident in the New Hebrides, from whom we have asked the specific information what is proposed to be or can be done when repatriation commences in the groups over which they have charge. We have other information about these groups from unofficial sources, and we are aware that the Resident in the Solomons is particularly anxious to be able to receive and provide for that half of the kanakas who have come from those islands. It is believed that fully one-half of the kanakas in Queensland are Solomon Islanders. Hence there has been no neglect in this matter with which we are chargeable. The House will soon be made aware officially, by the laying on the table of the final replies giving the information desired of the steps which have been taken during some years past to provide for the humane and considerate treatment of the kanakas. The difficulties which appear to surround repatriation tend'., on examination, to disappear rather than to increase. Partly because of the labour traffic, and partly for other causes, there has been a great depopulation in certain islands under civilized control, and no peril, will be run by any native landed there, whether he does or does not belong to one of the few remaining villages. We begin to see our way, therefore, to deal not only with those who desire to return to their own villages and can do so, but also with others who do not wish to go back to their homes, for reasons personal to themselves or for other causes. We see our way, happily,, to make safer arrangements than at one time appeared likely when it was thought that the only choice lay between returning the kanakas to their own villages and allowing them to remain in Australia. The leader of the Opposition, if he was not aware of these steps, had every right to ask for an explanation of what is being done ; but reference was not made to the subject in His Excellency's speech, because it was not thought desirable to include all the subjects capable of being treated at present only in a tentative fashion.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Who is going to undertake this repatriation ?


Mr DEAKIN - The responsibility rests upon us, since the repatriation will take place under Commonwealth law ; but also with the Queensland Government, under the legislation by which kanakas were introduced into that State.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the Prime Minister seen the statement of the Premier of Queensland, that he will take no steps in the matter.


Mr DEAKIN - I have seen in the press statements on this subject from all sources, but have heard nothing from the Premier of Queensland of that kind. The correspondence which has passed between us indicates no such determination on his part. Having thus disposed of the one criticism of the Governor-General's speech offered by the leader of the Opposition, let me say a word in respect to the parallel which he apparently intended to draw between the action taken by me in connexion with the recent disturbances in Natal and that taken upon the motion dealing with Home Rule submitted by the honorable and learned member' for Northern Melbourne. There was no intervention of mine in either. As the papers have been laid on the table, it is not necessary for me to do more than refer to them; but, perhaps, I may remind those who have not read them that the terms of our cablegram to the British Government with reference to Natal were as follows: -

Since an intervention of His Majesty's Ministers for the United Kingdom with the administration of the self-governing colony Natal would tend to establish, even with regard to prerogative of pardon, a dangerous precedent, affecting ail the States within the Empire, Your Excellency's advisers desire most respectfully appeal to His Majesty's Ministers for reconsideration of resolution at which they are reported to have arrived upon this matter.

I do not think anything could be more carefully worded. The precedent about to be established! would have applied to us in the future as much as to Natal. Although, fortunately, the circumstances of this country do not render us liable to the particular peril which then threatened, and still threatens, the scattered settlers of Nattai, where the white people form only a fraction of the population, yet, for all that, a precedent for intervention, once established, could, and probably would, have been applied to any or all of the self-governing States of the

Empire. Surely, then, it was well within our province to remind the Imperial Government that whatever action they might take in this particular connexion might at any moment in other connexions most vitally affect us as one of the selfgoverning States. Beyond that reminder we did not go. We passed no opinion on the merits of the question, but thought that we were quite justified in asking the Imperial authorities to consider the full consequences of the precedent which was then threatened, but was not established. If in the slightest degree our cable contributed to the decision arrived at, I think we have every reason to congratulate ourselves upon its promptness. With regard to the Home Rule resolution, my position was exactly the same, as was made perfectly plain from the outset. The motion contained three paragraphs, to two of which, if I remember aright, I took exception. I strongly urged that the portion of the motion which appealed to His Majesty through his Ministers should bes deleted', and that this House should content itself with following our own precedent in the representations made with regard to the employment of Chinese in South Africa, by merely recording its opinion, as members of another place had been invited to do. This would have avoided all appearance of intervention on our part. Having pressed ' that strongly upon the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who was in charge of the motion, he, although still preferring to adhere to its original form, kindly agreed that the portions of the motion objected to should be withdrawn, and that the resolution should simply express the opinion of this House. The honorable and learned member was prevented from adopting that course, not bv any action of mine or of other members on this side of the House, but by honorable members opposite, who, being altogether opposed to the motion, thought it better for their own purposes that it should be carried as originally proposed1. Curiously enough, therefore, whatever responsibility exists for the appearance of interference from Australia because of the appeal to Bis Majesty rests upon the opponents of the resolution, and not upon me.


Mr Wilks - The Minister stated that honorable members should express their opinion to the people of England.


Mr DEAKIN - I stated that we should express our opinion, which il would be open to the people of England to make themselves acquainted with, but I objected to any official appeal being made to His Majesty. I thought that if we expressed our opinion, the people of England would accept it for what it was worth, and then act as they thought fit. This was no intervention at all.


Mr Wilks - The Minister also said that we should express our opinion for the guidance of the people of England.


Mr DEAKIN - I said that we could express our opinion in favour of a just scheme of Home Rule, and not in favour of any particular party scheme. We declared a principle without putting forward any cut and dried political scheme. I believed then, and believe now, that a just scheme of Home Rule would contribute to the strength of the Empire, and was prepared to express my opinion to that effect.


Mr Wilks - The Minister stated that he had no objection to- personal expressions of opinion outside, but thought it was undesirable that there should be any official expression of opinion from within.


Mr DEAKIN - That is immaterial now. So far as honorable members on this side of the House are concerned, the resolution would have merely expressed an opinion for the information of those at Home who cared to make themselves acquainted with it. It was owing to the amendments proposed bv honorable members opposite that the resolution took the form of an address to His Majesty.


Mr Reid - Could not the Prime Minister have avoided voting for a motion to which he objected?


Mr DEAKIN - I did not think that I should be justified in voting against the motion because it proposed to make an appeal to His Majesty. That did not warrant me in voting against a declaration in favour of a just scheme of Home Rule.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In fact, the Prime Minister, regarded it as a small matter.


Mr DEAKIN - No,* I did not ; but, as the honorable member knows very well, in public life our choice is in most cases not between "the course one would follow in every particular, but between, the only courses then open. We simply declared for justice. When it became a' matter of choice between voting for or against an expression of opinion in favour of a just scheme for Home Rule., not otherwise defined, though it was accompanied by what I regarded as an unwise and unnecessary petition to His Majesty, I preferred to vote for the just scheme. I could not honestly vote against justice.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister might have brought down a motion of his own.


Mr DEAKIN - I communicated to honorable members on this side of the House the amendments that I proposed to move, and received an intimation that they would be, supported ; but the action taken by honorable members opposite prevented the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne from withdrawing the portions of his motion to which objection was taken.


Mr Reid - Does the Prime Minister think that, as a Parliament, we had authority to represent the people of Australia! in the matter? That was my main point.


Mr DEAKIN - Yes, that was the right: honorable gentleman's main point, and I told him, in reply, that, when challenged, we were fully entitled to express our opinion. The wisdom, or otherwise, of adopting that course is another question. As to our right, there can be no doubt. In the absence of all criticism upon our conduct during the recess-, even in the manymatters mentioned in the GovernorGeneral's speech, I am obliged to refer to the criticism which has been directed to myself. The leader of the Opposition was good enough to quote from my assertions that the co-existence of three relatively equal parties in this House was detrimental to responsible government. I have said that often, and, if it will satisfy the right honorable gentleman, will say it again. I have not altered that opinion, nor do I see any reason to alter it. We are carrying on constitutional government in this country - as we have been for the past three years - under the greatest disabilities, and while three relatively equal parties exist these disabilities must continue. I do not think any one in this House, or out of it, has risked more than I have in endeavouring to bring about a legitimate solution of the problem. I am not concerned now with personal justification, if such were needed. Other opportunities for that have been presented, and will still be presented. I simply mention the fact that I have gone to the extreme length that I thought just a'nd fair in order to put an end to the three-party system, so far as it could be brought to an end, in order to permit of constitutional government being effectively carried on. I am bound to ad- mit, however, that, so far, I have by no means succeeded to the extent that I desired, But, even in the facet of the division of my party, and against the desires of some of my oldest and best political friends, I was not afraid to take the course in 1904 which I thought would have fed to a proper andreasonable arrangement of a working character. I do not for one moment regret having sought that which I think it was the duty of each one of us to seek - that is, to endeavour, as far as lay in our power, to modify existing party relations to the degree necessary to give us an united and distinct responsibility on the part of the majority in this House.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister has already said that he never intended that condition of things to last.


Mr DEAKIN - Which condition of things ?


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The condition of things which the honorable and learned gentleman has just now suggested, the alliance in connexion with which he took such risks in order to restore responsible government.


Mr DEAKIN - T took the risks of entering into an alliance in the hope that by that means we should have a closer approach to responsible government. We have had constitutional government and responsible government of a kind. If there were thirty parties instead of three in the House, each independent of the other, we should have constitutional and responsible government, but it would not be consistently effective government as it ought to be in the interests of the people. In order to secure more effective government, I took that risk of alliance.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable and learned gentleman has stated since "that he took that course only to gain breathing time. .


Mr DEAKIN - That was- stated in the agreement which was signed at the time. We knew that the alliance was made between two different parties who. on the fiscal question, were at absolutely opposite poles. Consequently we sunk the fiscal question for a fixed and definite term in the hope that by the time it expired we might have arrived at some arrangement of a mutual character which would have enabled us without any breach of fiscal faith to continue to carry on. But that was only a. hope, and it was always recognised that' if that hope failed, quite apart from our own choice, and by the very force of events, we must necessarily resolve ourselves into our original parties. That was plainly foreseen, and expressly provided for.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was not what the honorable and learned gentleman said at all. He said something quite different.


Mr DEAKIN - What I have said is said, and remains on record. I only hope that when I am .quoted the whole of the context of my remarks will be quoted ir. each case.


Mr Fuller - What have some of the honorable and learned gentleman's political friends on this side said about it?


Mr DEAKIN - They are as free to express their own opinions as I am to express mine. However deeply they dissent or have dissented from the view I have taken, so far as mv judgment on the matter is considered, I have dona right. I was and am bound to follow the course which commends itself to my judgment, irrespective of the criticism of friend or foe. What I was about to say was that, so far from having suddenly sprung my objection ro three parties upon the House and the country, r proclaimed it directly it became necessary, and that was on the first occasion on which I addressed the public after the election at the close of 3903, when the three parties were returned in relatively equal numbers. It was when speaking at the Australian Natives Association's annual January celebration I first called attention in a pointed way, and with emphasis, to the existence of the "three elevens," and the necessity for ending or mending their separate and conflicting feuds by a partial and temporary fusion *in order that practical legislation and consistent administration might be secured.


Mr Reid - It had existed during the previous Parliament


Mr DEAKIN - In a much modified form, because we had taken some considerable time to settle down, because while the fiscal question was1 before us we were divided practically into two parties, and because the work of Federal organization in which we were engaged removed a number of questions from the immediate political arena, the consideration of which at the time would otherwise have divided us. A similar condition of affairs existed to a certain extent in the previous Parliament, but only in a form which had been in existence in every State Parliament, and with which we were quite well acquainted.

The situation only became impossible at the close of the elections in 1903. It was before Parliament met that I expressed what the right honorable member for East Sydney chooses to call my abnormal appetite for alliance. Given three relatively equal parties, how can you carry on the business of the country without either an alliance or an understanding between two out of the three parties? It was impossible. We tried it in this House, and, of course, our Government went clown early in the life of the Parliament. I have never complained that it did go down, because if it had passed the particular difficulty by which it was then faced, sooner or later the other two parties would have united against us, and we should have gone out. There is no reason for complaint because we went out. The Labour Party then came into power.


Mr Reid - Is the statement that I quoted from the newspaper to the effect that the honorable and learned gentleman made some offer to the Labour Party to continue in office inaccurate?


Mr DEAKIN - I am coming to that. It says a great deal for the right honorable gentleman's lapses of memory to bring up as an entirely new accusation of his against me now what was made an accusation against me at the very time when I was in negotiation with him. I was then publicly reproached by members of the Labour Party, because I had been in communication with them after leaving office. I made public representations to the Labour Ministry that if they would consent to limit their measures for the session, or for a further time, to those which we were mutually agreed upon, and would consent to leave the rest of their programme in abeyance, I should be only too glad to keep them, or any other Ministry, in office, on the same terms.


Mr Reid - I never heard of that offer until now.


Mr DEAKIN - I was attacked again and again, and had to defend myself in the right honorable gentleman's hearing in this House on thai very ground. The right honorable gentleman will find from Hansard that I was censured in and out of the House, not bv his own friends, but by members of the Labour Party, who thought that, after making that offer, although it was not accepted, I should have given, them a longer opportunity of showing what the future might enable them to do.


Mr Reid - I knew that the honorable and learned gentleman had been in communication with the Labour Party, but I did not know of any distinct offer.


Mr DEAKIN - It was stated in the press at the time, and the resolution in reply carried by the caucus was published. My offer was made in the very town-halt speech from which the right honorable gentleman quoted to-day at a gathering at which the leader of the Labour Party, then Prime Minister, was present. I then made an appeal to him to give the guarantees I have mentioned, and! pointed out the conditions on which he could secure a majority to support him. So far from being secret, the matter was proclaimed from the house tops. It was often mentioned here afterwards, and yet the leader of the Opposition comes down in this extraordinary fashion to-day as if he had made a remarkable discovery.


Mr Reid - The Vice-President of the Executive Council suggested that the newspaper from which I quoted forged that report. Bte sa.i,dr that the statement appearing in the newspaper was manipulated ; so he could not have known anything about it.


Mr DEAKIN - The information appeared so often in the newspapers that it could not have escaped the attention of a single member of the House. I have no wish to go over the whole matter again in detail, but when the Labour Party came into power, they too tried1 the experiment of one party out of three relatively equal parties governing without an understanding with any other party. Finally, they arrived! at an understanding with a portion of our party in order to maintain themselves in office ; the very thing I had been pointing to as an absolute necessity if constitutional government were to be carried on. Then came the motion by which they were defeated. So far as I was concerned when I undertook to support the proposed amendment in the Arbitration Bill, as I said at the time, and as I have repeated over and over again since, I had not the faintest suspicion that it would be made a vote of want of confidence. The Labour Ministry was bound to go out as our Government went out, and as any Ministry jj. formed from a single one of the three parties must go out. There was no question about that, but I have always regretted that the Labour Government left office so soon, as well as that they resigned on that- particular topic. There were larger matters upon which it was inevitable that they must come into conflict with the other two parties in the House, and on which thev would have .gone out, but with much less bitterness and on what I would have considered a more appropriate occasion. I was utterly irresponsible for the particular time and manner in which the Labour 'Government went out.


Mr Reid - Surely the honorable and learned gentleman was not irresponsible?


Mr DEAKIN - Ves, because I had pledged myself to support that particular amendment in the Arbitration Bill when it had no party significance. It was not until days afterwards that the Ministry decided to regard it as a vote of want of confidence. When I agreed to support it, I had no idea that it would be made a Ministerial issue.


Mr Reid - They were not 'defeated on a particular amendment, but on a motion to go into Committee to consider it, and the honorable and learned gentleman voted with us on that motion.


Mr DEAKIN - Because we had already, in connexion with the question of preference, agreed to conditions which I considered necessary, and naturally I did not consent to those conditions being altered. However, the Labour Government must have resigned, and it was only the choice of that or some other motion on which they should retire very shortly. I should have preferred if they had left office on a broader question. It was again an attempt by one of the three parties to govern the House without any alliance or understanding with either of the other parties, though eventually, they had an understanding with a portion only of our party. That is the position to-day. The right honorable member for East Sydney exults in comparing the numbers Ministers have with the numbers they ought to have. I would prefer the numbers we ought to have. I would much prefer to have a majority of our own party. No one denies that. But in the meantime, the King's Government must be carried on, and the business of the country must be transacted. So long as it is transacted in accordance with the programme and principles we submitted to the constituencies, we shall be only doing our duty) to continue where we are. I recognise, however, that so soonas the right honorable gentleman comes to an arrangement with the other party our Government too must go out. Previous Governments have fallen in that way in this House, and our turn will come whenever the majority chooses. We have no control over the Labour Party. We offered them nothing save that which is embodied in our programme. We have no undertaking with them with regard to the next elections. We have their general resolution, already published, to give us a support


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is not the Prime Minister's fault that there is no undertaking.


Mr DEAKIN - Certainly not; but it is the fact. Here we stand, united with, them in a general way on the business that is being done in this Parliament. Individual members are perfectly free-


Mr Reid - Were portfolios offered members of the Labour Party ?


Mr DEAKIN - Not that I remember.


Mr Reid - The honorable member for Kennedy, according to statements in the press, has said that there was such an offer.


Mr DEAKIN - I do not think that he did. If my memory serves me rightly, the Labour Party's resolution, to have no alliance, was passed some months before. That put their acceptance of portfolios out of the question.


Mr Reid - Were they offered?


Mr DEAKIN - As I have already said, I remember nothing of the kind. Such an offer would have been practically meaningless, and hence there could have been, no communication on the subject of portfolios. The honorable member for Kennedy said, I believe, that had the Labour Party chosen, it could have secured portfolios. Of that there is no doubt. Had they cancelled their previous resolution, and agreed upon the terms on which they would unite with any other party, they certainly would have had an offer of portfolios from my right honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, or from myself.


Mr Reid - The honorable and learned gentleman should speak for himself.


Mr DEAKIN - I am speaking with due regard to our experience of the right honorable gentleman. Has he not told us that he could not have carried any of the legislation .he passed when Premier of New South Wales except with the assistance of the Labour Party ?


Mr Reid - In one Parliament I had a majority independent of the Labour Party.


Mr Wilks - They simply swelled the majority.


Mr DEAKIN - That is not the right honorable member's statement.


Mr Reid - In one Parliament I had a majority independent of the Labour Party, and in another I had not.


Mr DEAKIN - In a statement here in the State Hansard made at the close of his Ministerial career in State politics, the right honorable gentleman admitted that, but for the Labour Party, he could not ha:ve passed a single measure.


Mr Reid - I quite agree that I could not have passed the biggest measures, and they were measures for which I had fought all my life.


Mr Kelly - Were they not on his platform ?


Mr DEAKIN - The Labour Party in the State Parliament adopted part of his platform when they went to the country. When I stated a short time ago that those who looked for the support and assistance of the protectionists of this country must consent to meet the needs of our injured industries, by granting protection to them, the right honorable gentleman said I was offering an insult to both parties. Yet he offered precisely the same insult to the Labour Party in the Parliament of New South Wales when he .asked its protectionist members to sink their fiscal principle in order to help him to carry his land tax proposals.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He did not ask them to do anything, of the kind.


Mr Reid - I never asked them to do a single thing.


Mr DEAKIN - I have heard protectionists, who were at the time members of the Labour Party in the New South Wales Parliament, say again and again in this House that the reason they put aside protection for the time was to enable them to support the right honorable member for East Sydney's Government in carrying the land tax proposals.


Mr Reid - That is right.


Mr DEAKIN - Therefore, according to the right honorable member, when he asked them to do that, he offered them an insult.


Mr Reid - I did not ask them to do anything.


Mr DEAKIN - The right honorable member asked them to put aside their fiscal faith in order to achieve another of the objects they had before them.


Mr Reid - They were at liberty to do whatever they pleased. They could have voted against me just as well as for me.


Mr DEAKIN - And they can vote against me just as well as for me. The two positions are precisely the same. The La- bour Party support this Government as long as they please - they are free to determine for themselves how long that shall be - just as the Labour Party in the Parliament of New South Wales supported' the right honorable member for East Sydney. They thought that he was giving them legislation which they preferred to any other then possible. That is the. position of the Labour Party in this House, and as long as they hold it they are likely to support the present Administration. They are under no pledge to me or to any one else. When they think the leader of the Opposition can serve them better, they will give him the support that they gave him formerly.But I have been led aside by my ingenious friend, the honorable member for Dalley. I was speaking of the three-party system in this House. I have criticised it from the first, and do not admire it now; but it is here, and we have to live with it. All that I have to say is that when the leader of the Opposition twits me, as he continually does on the platform, with consenting to do the business that we were returned to do with the help of a second party, and without a majority of our own, he points to the existence of a condition of things that I deplore, and would gladly avoid. At the same time, he does not remember, or chooses to forget, that there are worse evils than that of threeparty government. Our position would be indefensible if it involved the sacrifice of the principles on which we were returned, and that is whatthe right honorable member tried to wring from us when we attempted to work with him to displace the three-party system.


Mr Reid - That is notquite fair to me. Mr. DEAKIN. - If he had succeeded in going to the country as he proposed, without warning to his allies, who had placed him in office, kept him there and were prepared to keep him there, he would have caught the protectionists between the Labour Party on the one side and his own friends and supporters on the other so as to make Tariff reform impossible for years.


Mr Reid - Would the right honorable member for Balaclava have been a party to such a thing?


Mr DEAKIN - The right honorable member freed the right honorable member for Balaclava and' his colleagues from such an imputation by stating in this House, in reply to me, that he took a personal, and not a Ministerial, responsibility for his course in postponing Tariff reform indefinitely.


Mr Reid - How could one help taking a personal responsibility?


Mr DEAKIN -The right honorable member, who expressly fread his colleagues from the imputation of responsibility, is now asking me to accept their acquiescence as warrant for something, the sole responsibility ofwhichhe took upon his own shoulders.


Mr Reid - There was no division in the Cabinet on. the subject.


Mr DEAKIN - Because, according to the right honorable member's own statement, the Cabinet was not consulted on this point. Although I cannot, for the moment, place my hand on the statement, I shall be able to give him chapter and verse for it within a few minutes. I was asked, by way of interjection, I think, why I did not attack the right honorable member's protectionist colleagues, and replied that I understood he had! already freed them from responsibility in this matter.


Mr Reid - What matter?


Mr DEAKIN - The proposal that, by means of a surprise dissolution, the fiscal truce should be prolonged till 1909 or 1910. That was the rock on which we split.


Mr Reid - Does the honorable and learned gentleman think that a speech can be put in the mouth of the GovernorGeneral by one Minister without consultation with his colleagues?


Mr DEAKIN - No; but I have been relying on the right honorable member's statement, and shall continue to rely on it until he reads it from Hansard, and deliberately withdraws it.


Mr McLean - What was done in that connexion was done by the unanimous voice of the whole Cabinet


Mr DEAKIN - The honorable member refers to the framing of the GovernorGeneral's speech at the opening of last session ?


Mr McLean - Yes - the course proposed to be adopted.


Mr DEAKIN - That course, so far as it affected the fiscal question, involved the burial of the Tariff Commission's reports - if they were of a fiscal character - till 1909, and the light honorable member for East Sydney, correctly or not, took upon his own shoulders the whole responsibility.


Mr Reid - How could I speak of what was to happen in 1909-10?


Mr DEAKIN - The right honorable member attempted to get a new Parliament elected on other issues, and' pledged to prolong the fiscal truce.


Mr McCAY (CORINELLA, VICTORIA) - Who, except the honorable and learned member, ever said that that course did involve the sinking of the fiscal issue till 1909-10?


Mr DEAKIN - The leader of the Opposition has said over and over again in this House and on the platform that it did.


Mr McCay - That is a point on which the protectionists in this corner feel very much aggrieved.


Mr DEAKIN - They, must feel aggrieved! not with me, but with" their own leader, who has made this statement again and again.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Where is it?


Mr Reid - No; I assure the honorable and learned gentleman that he is entirely wrong. The question of going to the country could not arise until a dissolution had been granted, and we had not got as far as that.


Mr DEAKIN - Here I have it. In volume 25 of Hansard, page 413, I am reported to have said on the 1st August, 1905-

When the Prime Minister -

That is, the present leader of the Opposition - sought to change the policy of fiscal peace until May, 1906, into a policy of fiscal entombment until 1909, the situation was entirely changed.


Mr Johnson - Did not his fiscal allies in the Cabinet agree to that?


Mr DEAKIN - I am not aware.


Mr Reid - That was a personal declaration of my own.

What did I say then ?


Mr DEAKIN - And as purely personal I have always treated it, for several reasons. Consequent!}', by that personal declaration of his, the right honorable member at once revived three parties in this House. He carried with him his own fiscal party. But could we see the fiscal question entombed until 1909? Did not the right honorable member know that he could not expect to carry with him those protectionists who were supporting him ?

Then the right honorable gentleman made this interjection -

They wanted the fiscal peace to last for three parliaments.


Mr Reid - I never got as far as a policy for the country.


Mr DEAKIN - That quotation proves my case. I say again that there are worse things than the three-party problem to consider. The immediately worst thing at that time was the burying of the fiscal question by the right honorable and learned gentleman until 1909, without consultation with his allies, without consultation with those with whom he was supposed to be working, without consultation with those to whom he had promised a full fiscal statement by or before the j st May, 1906.


Mr Reid - The honorable and learned member will see that he destroyed that agreement at Ballarat by giving me notice to quit.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The quotation does not justify that statement at all.


Mr DEAKIN - Let the honorable member read it as I have done.


Mr Reid - When I got notice to quit the agreement was destroyed.


Mr DEAKIN - No' word of that speech departed from our agreement. What destroyed it was his own act. What I said then of his negative policy I say still. The right honorable gentleman makes it a complaint that we have said that Socialism and anti-Socialism cannot be defined. As I pointed out to him, by way of interjection, what we have always said, is that his Socialism and antiSocialism cannot be defined. There is one extreme point beyond which even Socialism cannot .go, and that is nationalization of an industrial operation. Yet the right honorable" gentleman, coming forward as an avowed opponent of all Socialism, at the same, time approves the nationalization of our railways.


Mr Reid - Oh, dear ! Railways to spread private enterprise over Australia.


Mr DEAKIN - I undertake to say that in Europe there is not a language in which the right honorable gentleman could make the declaration that he was an anti-Socialist, and couple it in the same breath with the statement that he was a supporter of the nationalization of railways - I cannot go into other enterprises in which we are engaged, and which he also approves - without his being ridiculed if he still claimed to be an anti-Socialist. I shall not allude to old-age pensions' or the lowering of railway rates.


Mr Reid - All the statesmen who are dead, then, were Socialists.


Mr DEAKIN - I shall not allude to the 101 matters in which the State, in Aus- tralia, intervenes when it thinks it is for the public good. Any one of them would destroy in Europe the claim of a man to be anti-Socialist who at the same time upheld those forms of State action. The member for East Sydney has no possible warrant for assuming that title as indicating his views. Whatever he may be or become, he is not yet an anti-Socialist.


Mr Reid - What .is the Prime Minister's objective, I should like to know - the Labour Party ?

M!r. Watson. - The honorable and learned member for Parkes pointed that out.


Mr DEAKIN - Now, so far from having sheltered myself behind vague statements, I have been consistent from the first. When I went to Ballarat in 1904 to speak on the methods and organization of the Labour Party to the league which was then founded, and when I gave my friends in the corner the criticism which has been so often read Over to them since for their edification, the proposed resolution put into my hand included a condemnation of " Socialism," I handed it back to the committee at once, and said, " Unless that portion referring to Socialism is struck out I decline to move it. I am not here to criticise the platform of the Labour Party, whatever it may be called, but their methods and organization. Besides-, Socialism .is a. term so differently applied by different persons that it will mean nothing in the motion. Say, if you like, what proposals you object to, bub define them, and say exactly what yow support, but do not hide behind a label which is differently applied bv almost every person who uses it." I struck out the reference to " Socialism." Was not that proof enough of where I stood?


Mr Reid - Oh, oh ! Now the honorable and learned gentleman is a convert.


Mr DEAKIN - The right honorable gentleman talks about my being a convert, if not to Socialism, at all events, to an association with Socialists. Here was a time; when, as he has been reminding us, I was out of office - here was a time when I was criticising the Labour Party, and, as he says, taking hold of every point I could to criticise, yet I refused to make any reference to Socialism, because it would ha.ve been wholly misleading or meaningless.


Mr Reid - The Inter-State Congress had not adopted Socialism at that time.


Mr DEAKIN - Yes.


Mr Reid - No.


Mr DEAKIN - Just as far as they have adopted it now. The next time I spoke at Ballarat, a year ago, was just before the dissolution speech was put in the hands of the Governor-General. At that time, still out of office, I repeated the same remark - that a criticism of Socialism or anti-Socialism was futile unless it was accompanied by a definition of what you included under the one and excluded under the other. I devoted myself to a consideration of both sides, which occupies several pages of a reported speech, that is either in everybody's hand or can be easily acquired. I went through the rival programmes, and pointed out how far we were socialistic in this country, how far we ought not to be socialistic, and how far we ought not to be anti-socialistic ; where we ought to draw the line between the two, how we ought to measure their advantages, and put both of them on a business basis. I pointed out that one question to be considered of each project was, " Did it pay ?' ' and that another question was, " How did it fit in with the socialistic structure we have erected and are living in ?"


Mr Reid - What is the honorable and learned gentleman's opinion about that now ?


Mr DEAKIN - I said then what I say now, that, using the terms strictly, in my opinion not 10 per cent, of the people of Australia would, on a scientific classification, having regard to our present systems of government, be called Socialists. I went on to say that, taking anti-Socialism as defined by the right honorable gentleman in his programme, I did not believe that 10 per cent, of the people of Australia would support that attitude.


Mr Reid - The honorable and learned gentleman wiM be on a lovely fence before he is done with it.


Mr DEAKIN - I do not wish to follow the right honorable member's precedents of that kind. I pointed out that 80 percent. of the people of Australia looked at this question as the honorable member for Moira did yesterday - from a practical common-sense stand-point. They said, as the leader of the Opposition sometimes does, " If this is a reasonable proposition, which will be good for the people of this country, not too costly, and reasonably effective, we are perfectly prepared to use it, brand it with whatever name you like, call it Socialism, anti-Socialism, or anyother ism." When the right honorable member was having a troubled existence in the Parliament which he did lead, the only measure of his own that he did carry was denounced as socialistic legislation by the most thoughtful and careful students of the question in his own party. Consequently, when he was in power, he was under the taboo of his own followers, who were really the anti-Socialists.


Mr Reid - Oh, no, I was not. I had a grand solid army in those days.


Mr DEAKIN - In each Chamber his friends condemned bis Bill as distinctly socialistic. How, then, when it suits him to take off one hat and put on another, can he consider that by changing his hat he changes the man underneath, it ?


Mr Reid - The honorable and learned gentleman wears both hats.


Mr DEAKIN - I wear neither.


Mr Reid - Well, is the honorable and learned gentleman a Socialist or an antiSocialist ?


Mr DEAKIN - F rom the E European n stand-point - from the stand-point of the fiscal party with which the right honorable gentleman is allied in English politics, we are all Socialists in this country. From the stand-point of extreme Socialism, we are most of us clubbed antiSocialists - it all depends on the point of view. If you desire to judge our Government to-clay what are they to be judged on ? First of all on what they have done, and next on what they propose to do. Take the record of last session and read it through. Pick out! our measures, and say which are socialistic and which arte anti socialistic. Neither the name " socialistic " nor " antisocialistic " applies with any fitness to a single measure passed' last session. Now take the programme for the coming session. Take the actual business with which we have to deal, and not any "isms" or " ologies " or abstract propositions, - lake our concrete propositions. Take to-day's programme measure by measure, and ask yourselves, " Is this socialistic or antisocialistic?" It will be found that neither name fits a single measure. All the Bills are practical. Is the measure for the destruction of monopolies socialistic or anti-socialistic? All depends on how it is proposed to destroy the monopolies, as the right honorable gentleman has said- This shows that neither name can be fittingly applied to the measure.


Mr Fisher - It depends on whether a measure is popular or not.


Mr DEAKIN - What I have said of this Bill applies to .every other item on the programme. They are business proposals for business purposes, call them what you please. The people of this country will neither accept them because they are called socialistic, nor reject them because they are anti-socialistic. They will look at each measure on its merits. If they approve, they will accept it, call it what we will ; if they disapprove of a. measure, they will reject it. call it what we will. That is why I say that when Che right honorable the leader of the Opposition, instead of criticising the programme of work - with the one single exception of one part of the anti-trust Bill - sweeps the whole of our measures aside, he gives his case away. He admits that, so far as our programme is concerned, his cry does not fit. He therefore attempt's to distract attention from our programme, and to put a false issue before us in regard to some "ism" or abstract idea - not an issue connected with the concrete business we are here to consider' and do, but some abstract theory we are not here to consider, and could not give effect to if we would.


Mr Reid - Does the Prime Minister call the beacon light and objective of the labour movement an abstract idea, or a bogy ?


Mr DEAKIN - I ask him what he calls the beacon, light and objective of the items embodied in our programme? I ask him are they, or are: thev not, justified on their merits?- The fact that other proposals are in the Labour Party's programme does not disqualify them or relieve him from examination and criticism.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about the tobacco monopoly ?


Mr Reid - The honorable and learned gentleman is sound on that. He says that all that is required is regulation.


Mr DEAKIN - Exactly. Th* Bill we have before us for the preservation of Australian industries will incidentally be sufficient to deal with that monopoly. I previously digressed in response to interjections when making some remarks on the fiscal situation, to which I am now obliged to call attention for a moment or two before sitting down. But I must relieve myself from one imputation, though I do not attempt to do so in regard to many others, because that has been already done sufficiently. I must relieve myself from a new imputation, so far as I am concerned, with which the right honorable the leader of the Opposition has been good enough to favour me. The right honorable gentleman complains that at the time he was appointing the Tariff Commission, I did not warn him of the serious consequences likely to ensue to the Government because of that Commission. Why should I attempt to warn the right honorable gentleman of what he himself warned the House in. stronger language than I should have liked to use? Speaking on the 26th October, 1904, and looking forward to the Tariff Commission--


Mr Reid - That was long after the Royal Commission Had been resolved on.


Mr DEAKIN - No; it was not long after it had been resolved on. It was not appointed for months after.


Mr Reid - Were my remarks not made on Supply, when the honorable and learned member for. Indi submitted a motion ? That was long after the Commission had been resolved on.


Mr DEAKIN - It was on the Budget, and the honorable and learned member for Indi moved by way of amendment that the proposed vote be reduced by1s. On that motion the right honorable the leader of the Opposition himself said- -

If either wing of the Government finds that a difficulty has arisen under which the loyal protectionists and the loyal free-traders find it impossible to continue together on the present basis, Ithink I can say for my protectionist colleagues, as well as for my free-trade colleagues, that from that moment we part company.

Then a little lower down the right honorable gentleman said -

That is the basis on which the Government rests. The moment that that basis becomes impossible, the existence of the Government becomes impossible.

So it will be seen that the right honorable gentleman at the time when the appointment of the Tariff Commission had just been resolved on. saw the whole situation so clearly as to say that when the reports of the Commission came down, if the raised the fiscal issue, they would divide the then Government, and make its existence impossible. The reports might separate the protectionists on the one side from the freetraders on the other.


Mr Reid - I did not say that the Tariff Commission's reports would do so, but " if they do so." That was looking two years ahead.


Mr DEAKIN - Exactly, and we were looking two years ahead then, and still looking eighteen months ahead when I spoke at Ballarat, though the right honorable gentleman then declined to wait a moment longer. _ But he saw at the time when this Tariff Commission was granted that its reports might sever his own Government; and when he complains that I did not warn him, I have only to remind him of what he himself warned' the House. On this question of fiscal peace I re-echo the statement made by the honorable member for Moira yesterday in regard to the position of our party - a statement which I was glad to hear from his lips, though it was made without my cognizance of his intention to make it ; we had not discussed the question together. The protectionists who went to the country in 1903 on the programme of fiscal peace and preferential trade, tied their hands, in my opinion, against the bringing down, of a complete revision of a Tariff such as we intimated must follow sooner orlater. We said that when a truce was first proposed. Experience required to be gained, and would be gained ; the investigation of the Tariff was to gradually test its fitness or unfitness for Australia. When that had been, done, we stated that we should be prepared to reopen the fiscal question, but until then, our programme was fiscal peace, except as to preferential trade. After that the right honorable leader of the Opposition appointed a Royal Commission to investigate the Tariff, a step of which we had long foreseen the necessity, but which he took, as he has told us to-dav, entirely of his own motion, and with the full approbation of his own judgment. When that Tariff Commission was appointed he foresaw as the Quotation I have read shows what the consequences might be in his own Cabinet.


Mr Reid - Hear, hear !


Mr DEAKIN - And, of course, he foresaw what the consequences might be in the House as well as in his Cabinet. If a report wereto come from the Tariff Commission in which the fiscal question was raised, honorable members would have no other choice except to range themselves under the standards to which they belonged. We are not yet confronted by that situation. The proposals which have been submitted by the TariffCommission so far have been unanimously indorsed. Although it might be said that those proposals do raise the fiscal question, evidently it is felt they do not raise it in any such form as to accentuate the differences between us, so that those particular proposals can be dealt with apart from the fiscal issue. The other recommendations which follow may be of the same tenor, and in that event the fiscal issue will not be raised, and members will vote on merelyfinancial or some similar grounds. But let the Tariff Commission bring clown a proposal which involves the fiscal issue, either for a reduction of duties which we believe to be necessary for Australian industries, or for an increase which we believe to be unnecessary, and at once our fiscal peace and fiscal truce disappear. No protectionists can vote for an antiprotectionist proposal, and no free-trader, if there be one in this House, can vote for an antifreetrade proposal in connexion with an amendment of the Tariff.


Mr Reid - They would not vote upon any report of a Commission, but on some proposal submitted by a Government.


Mr DEAKIN - They would vote, it is true, on proposals submitted by a Government, but the hand of the Government would be forced by any recommendations from the Tariff Commission which involved the fiscal issue. The Government is not a post-office simply to convey to this House the recommendations of the Tariff Commission. When the Commission was proposed to be appointed, and I was challenged as to our position, and the responsibilities we should have towards its recommendations, as it was the work of our own hands, I pointed out that, like every other Commission, it would sift the evidence to the best of ite ability, and would forward its recommendations to Government and Parliament; and that Government and Parliament would then deal with those recommendations in accordance with their principles and their judgment. Now, that will be the course which will be followed!, when this Tariff Commission, or part of this Tariff Commission, makes any recommendations involving the fiscal issue. It will be impossible for this House, or any House, or any Government, to put aside the recommendations of such a Commission without those recommendations halving been considered and deliberated upon. We can neither adopt nor can we set aside the proposals of that Commission without giving them the full and careful consideration which the length and importance of their inquiry demands. Whether it advises a higher duty or a lower duty, the Government and the House must decide for itself in accordance with their principles. They cannot evade or avoid that duty now that we have gone so far, and thev have done so much. Now, sir, one word in conclusion.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about the land tax?


Mr DEAKIN - I do not mind responding to that interjection. Neither our programme nor our administration have been assailed. Such a tax is not put forward in the Governor-General's speech, but I have no wish to refuse its consideration. It suited the right honorable the leader of the Opposition to make it appear that the' interest that has been taken by myself and others in the land question since the accomplishment of Federation had only arisen during the past few months, since the honorable member for Bland definitely launched his proposal for a progressive land tax. I can safely say that, for my own part, I have, been dealing, so far as opportunities permitted, with the land question ever since Federation, as I did before. The only way in which I can fix the day to which I am about to refer is by saying that I think Mr. Irvine was still Premier of Victoria. The Australian Natives' Association called a meeting in the Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne - I think it was in the year 1903 - for the purpose of considering irrigation ; and, as much turned upon the land question, I took occasion then, as I have done since, to excuse myself from any comment upon the land taxes passed, by the States in Australia. I surmounted the difficulty, as I have done since, by turning up some of the old speeches delivered by me in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, which contained mv views upon land taxation, land monopoly, and land generally, reading these extracts out as my then opinions - the opinions which I still hold. That was, as I say, probably three years ago.


Mr Reid - Were those opinions in favour of a. progressive land tax ?


Mr DEAKIN - They included a progressive land tax.


Mr Reid - The Prime Minister's views include that?


Mr DEAKIN - My personal views always have done. I read those extracts to show that, although an Australian Minister and member, I had not altered the attitude which I had previously occupied in Victoria upon this question. Before the subject came up again, the consideration of the possibilities of immigration had brought me face to face, in a very clear and1 distinct manner, with the urgency of dealing with our great estates of arable land. The honorable member for Moira yesterday gave illustrations from his own experience relating both to this State and New South Wales, of the cases of hard working men - in one instance which he mentioned, the case of a man with money and experience - seeking land from State to State, and unable to find it. It is incontestable that such a state of things exists in several States. It is incontestable that, while that condition remains, it will be idle for us to be offering to emigrants, or would-be emigrants, from the mother country, temptations to come here with such illustrations of the failure of men who know the country, and who can choose their land with wisdom, to find homes for .themselves. Confronted with this additional responsibility with regard to immigration I have, in correspondence with State Premiers and elsewhere, taken every opportunity legitimately open to me of pressing upon their attention, and upon public attention, the necessity of making much more land available. Because, whether we are Federal or State representatives, there are many of us who recognise that the land question is the root of almost' all other social and political questions.


Mr Reid - The only question is in whose jurisdiction it is.


Mr DEAKIN - Until the land question is settled, no question can be settled finally.


Mr Reid - But can we settle it for the States ?


Mr DEAKIN - The States, or some of them, have been applying themselves to its solution with very imperfect success; and with the States still rests the responsibility of dealing with it. They are the proprietors of Crown lands, and we are not, as a Commonwealth ; though as citizens of States, we are, of course, charged in our individual States with responsibility for what is done. But what we do say - what I do say, at all events - is that, land tax or no land tax, every form of Government which Australia possesses, from the municipalities up to the Commonwealth Government, is properly usable by the Australian people in the endeavour to settle this country. And I say, sir, without criticising State legislation, State action or State inaction, that it is perfectly within the competence of the Commonwealth to enter upon and take its share in dealing with this land question when its legitimate occasion arrives. When we begin to deal with immigration, we begin to deal with the land question. The two are so closely associated that we cannot but turn from one to the. other. What I said at Ballarat - of which the right honorable member chose to read only one portion - was that I intended in the following week to deal with this land question at length in Adelaide ; that, owing to the length of the speech, and physical exhaustion, I was not prepared to deal with it fully then, 'and that, therefore, I answered a few of the questions put to me out of courtesy.


Mr Reid - The questioner stuck to the honorable gentleman like a man.


Mr DEAKIN - And my answers were in conformity with the answers previously and since given by me on this question. I said that I would deal with it at Adelaide within a week; and at Adelaide within a week I did deal with, it at length - again, to the extent of two or three pages of my printed speech. So that just as with the question of Socialism and Anti-Socialism, I made my position perfectly clear in South Australia. I showed the other Federal issues with which it is and must be associated. Between my meeting in Adelaide and tha meeting which was held in Sydney, the Premiers' Conference took place. The Premiers, at that Conference, despite the very friendly argument which I addressed to them, chose to carry two important resolutions. I pointed out that if those two resolutions were to be accepted by the people of Australia, land taxation, instead of being a theoretical proposal, would become a practical proposal forced into the arena by the declaration of the Premiers that old-age pensions would require to be provided for out of some fresh source of taxation.


Mr Reid - They deny that.


Mr DEAKIN - They do not .deny it. One Premier said that he was willing to make certain Customs concessions, which were mentioned at the Conference. I invited an expression of opinion upon the subject, and pointed out the importance of such an expression of opinion, stating that if we had the assurance that the Premiers would consent that part of the Customs revenue should be used for old-age pensions, that would relieve the pressure upon us, but that if we did not obtain more of the Customs revenue, they were in effect bidding us to resort to direct taxation. They discussed the question amongst themselves, and refused to put on record any resolution consenting to our taking any further portion of the Customs revenue. Therefore, I was bound to point out - owing to this development having taken place after I spoke at Adelaide, and at Ballarat - that, as I had shown at Ballarat, the land question was intimately associated with Federal finance, and with the question of immigration. That position is indisputable.


Mr Reid - Then are we to have three taxes upon land ?


Mr DEAKIN - It is for the citizens of Australia to determine whether they will have one. three, or thirteen taxes upon it.


Mr Reid - Why not have a tax upon the banking incomes that people make out of land - on the mortgagees as well as the mortgagors ?


Mr DEAKIN - 1 pointed out that it was perfectly within the competence of this Parliament to deal with all forms of direct taxation, and that no form of direct taxation was likely to afford it the same opportunities of dealing with settlement and immigration as land taxation. But in making that statement I committed no colleague of mine, nor the Ministry, because, so far, the Government has not considered either land taxation or several other alternatives in connexion with the land question, which may come before the consideration of this Parliament before long.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are we Jo understand that the Prime Minister himself is in favour of a progressive land tax ?


Mr DEAKIN - I have said that when I had the responsibility of dealing with land taxation in the Victorian Parliament I favoured the taxation of unimproved land values on the progressive principle. I have not altered my opinion since then, but speaking either individually, or as the head of this Government, I make no promise of Federal land taxation. My colleagues have vet to consider not merely land taxation, but whether the land question does not call for consideration at our hands in connexion with other proposals which may accomplish the same end1.


Mr Reid - Somebody will go up in a balloon when the Government do consider it in Cabinet.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It has taken the Prime Minister half-an-hour to say nothing.


Mr DEAKIN - I am sorry that my honorable friend, who was a Minister of the Crown in New South Wales for a considerable period, cannot realize that in this instance, as in many others, each Minister owes an obligation to his colleagues. I will not place any of my colleagues or supporters in a false position by declarations which, at present, are merely abstract and theoretical. When the Government entertains any intentions in this regard, they will submit a concrete proposition, which the honorable member will be unable to make sport of in this way. In the meantime, the Government have not considered the tax. and its prospects are matters of speculation, and not of fact.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Treasurer has already expressed a personal view.


Mr DEAKIN - The Treasurer has expressed a personal view upon one form of land taxation for a particular purpose - a view which he is perfectly entitled to hold.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is all that we desire to obtain from the Prime Minister.


Mr DEAKIN - The honorable member wished to obtain from me either more or less than that. The question of immigration will bring us face' to face with the land question, whether we like it or not, within a comparatively short space of time, and both members and Ministers will be obliged to consider them with an open mind. Nothing in my past or present opinion supplies any obstacle to our dealing with both fully and effectively. The Federal power is ample, though many have not yet realized ils scope in these directions. Beyond that I decline to be drawn at the present stage.


Mr Reid - Why is the Prime Minister so sensitive about the inclusion of the Railway servants in the Arbitration Bill being a violation of the Constitution and so indifferent about State rights in regard to land taxation ?


Mr DEAKIN - When the time comes, if any land taxation proposals are submitted, I shall be able to show the right honorable member a broad distinction. I cannot show him a distinction between something which exists and1 something which does not now exist. I should have concluded my remarks half-an-hour ago had I been permitted to follow mv own line of thought. What I desire to say is that the Government have submitted a programme, which so far has not been challenged. It consists of practical proposals of pressing importance, which are capable of being dealt with. With due respect to the honorable member for Barker, I say that all of these proposals are capable of being dealt with this session if we could persuade ourselves to deal with "them as business men on business grounds. I am sorry that I have spoken for an hour-and-a-half. under pressure, because I wished to set an example which might be followed. But, having disposed of the personal, the abstract, and the remote, I ask honorable members to coma back to the business that is actually before us. I invite them to establish a record1 by making the debate upon the Address-in-Reply the briefest that- has yet taken place.


Mr Reid - Notwithstanding that the GovernorGeneral's speech contains 36 paragraphs.


Mr DEAKIN - But the greater portion of that speech relates to proposals which will come before us in a direct form, and can be much better debated when we have specific propositions submitted. They can then be dealt with, point by point, and statement by statement. Criticism of our administration during the .recess we are of course open to, although we have had none yet. But r do hope that we shall not begin to discuss in open debate what we must soon debate in Bills. With the assistance of honorable members there is no- reason why we should not dispose of the whole of the business that has been outlined by the Government in time for a reasonable dissolution. The Ministry are anxious to be as considerate as possible to every honorable member. But we ought to realize that this is the last session of the present Parliament, and to recognise that before we go to the country, we have a great deal of work to dispose of, some of it of enormous importance, and all of it of great practical utility. I feel sure that I shall I do appeal to honorable members in vain. I do not ask them to weaken their criticism of the Government, but to shorten it, so as to enable us in the briefest possible time to get over a stage which, except for the opportunity it presents of criticising our deeds during the recess, is really becoming a useless survival.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Our trouble is that we cannot understand the honorable gentleman.


Mr DEAKIN - If the honorable member will afford us the chance of dealing with our definite proposals he will begin to understand me little by little.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister's speech to-day has given intense delight to the Labour corner.


Mr DEAKIN - And also to the honor- . able member himself. Several times his face has been wreathed in smiles.


Mr Reid - I think that we have had the best of it.


Mr DEAKIN - I dismiss the ViceRegal Speech, which has not been challenged. I dismiss the possibilities of the remote future. I ask the House to come; to business, to enable us to rise as early as possible in order that we may consult our constituents as soon as the electoral rolls are available. My honorable colleague, the Minister of Home Affairs, will shortly be able to lay on the table of the House a paper showing that since the Electoral Act was passed not a day has been lost in pressing forward all the necessary steps precedent to a general election, and that even now we are .anticipating a favorable decision of the House in regard to the redistribution of seats, so that no time shall be last at any .stage. The electoral officers throughout the Commonwealth are acting, and every possible step is being taken to expedite putting the rolls in proper order. At the earliest moment that the very complicated necessities of dealing with this enormous Commonwealth electorally permit, we shall inform the House, probably within a week or two, of the margin of choice afforded. We shall be able to demonstrate easily that, instead of hanging back, or even waiting for authority, we have pushed ahead, so that it would have been impossible to have the rolls prepared earlier than the date which we shall name as that at which the House can go to its constituents.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do I understand the Prime Minister to say that the Government are going on with this matter at once?


Mr DEAKIN - We are going on with it now.


Mr Reid - This is a non-party question.


Mr DEAKIN - The resolutions will be proceeded with early, and meanwhile we are avoiding, by the steps we are taking, all possibilities of delay.


Mr McLean - There are two Victorian schemes : which is to be adopted ?


Mr DEAKIN - The second; which was promulgated, with maps, within the last few weeks. The first has. lapsed.


Mr McLean - I am verv sorry to h,°?.r that.


Mr DEAKIN - In conclusion, let me repeat a few words uttered at the rising of the House last year, as an indication of the course and the policy which we had mapped out for ourselves. The speech of the Governor-General affords proof of our sincerity and earnestness in giving it effect. I then said -

The next election, so far as this Ministry is concerned, will be fought in defence of Australian interests, in the interests of the producers, workers, and consumers, for whose benefit our recent measure - the Anti-Trust Bill - was framed. To protect them against unfair competition, against fraud, against the competition of underpaid and overtasked workmen, Will be the aim of this Government. Speaking as far as it can be outlined, the programme will be protection in al! ils aspects, fiscal, industrial, and against all monopolies; preferential trade with our own countrymen, population for the land, and land for the people.







Suggest corrections