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Tuesday, 15 December 1914

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator McDougall (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is not in order in discussing a matter foreign to the clause.

Senator Needham - Is the honorable senator in order in characterizing the Caucus base institution?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I accept your ruling, Mr. Chairman. Any institution that attempts to enact laws to deal with the public, and is ashamed to allow its deliberations to be known to the public, may fairly claim to be a base institution.

Senator Needham - You are a member of a Caucus that has done the same thing over and over again.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I am not a member of any Caucus. Is the legislation of the Government to be such as can stand in the open light of day as honest and straightforward, not aimed at any particular section of the community, but introduced for the honest purpose of obtaining revenue to carry on the affairs of the country? This proposal is a direct attempt to get behind the Constitution. The Government have no right to tax the lands of the States.

Senator Russell - The Bulletin settled you about the Constitution.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - If the Bulletin had only used a little brains it would have known that the statement it attributed to me was entirely in accord with the attitude I have always taken up in debates in connexion with this Parliament. I said I recognised that this Parliament was allpowerful with regard to imposing any kind of taxation it saw fit to impose, but that we were bound, not merely by the words, but by the spirit of the Constitution. We gave the Federal Parliament the exclusive right to one form of taxation, and while we did not take away from it the other forms, we regarded them as only to be used by the Commonwealth in grave emergencies, or under special conditions. The States were to be supreme in their own spheres. If the people alter the Constitution, well and good, but until that is done, the Government have no business to go behind it. We determined upon Federation, not Unification,, sovereign States, and not subordinate States. The tendencyhas of late years been towards the subordination of the States. If that is to be done, it should be done straightforwardly and openly, and not by surreptitious and politically corrupt methods. If it became necessary in a grave emergency for the Commonwealth to impose a land or income tax, it would have the right in the circumstances to do it.

Senator Grant - There is no Commonwealth income tax yet.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - If the Government brought one forward I have no doubt the honorable senator would support it.

Senator Grant - I bet you I would not.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The honorable senator will probably have an opportunity of making good his word.

Senator Grant - You know we settle these matters in Caucus, and if there is a majority there we all stand by it, the same as you do.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Then I am quite correct in saying that this proposal was settled in Caucus by a majority of one?

Senator Grant - I disclosed nothing of what took place in Caucus.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Really the honorable senator aims at being like the proverbial oyster. I would be very glad if he could explain the whole of tnis matter to us, and let us kuow whether this proposal in clause 2 was honestly approved of by the whole of the Caucus or by a fair majority. If there are forty-five members at a Caucus, and twenty-three vote for a clause, the other men have to fall into line.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I remind the honorable senator that there is nothing about a Caucus in the clause, and ask him to confine himself to the question before toe Committee.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I was going to say, sir, that that is one of the difficulties which we notice with regard to the whole of this legislation - proper recognition is not given to the men who pull the strings behind the whole business, and those who do not approve of it are simply like jumping jacks. Out go their arms and legs as the strings are pulled by the majority, and so our legislation is submitted from time to time by our honorable friends opposite.

Progress reported.

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