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Friday, 8 June 1906

Mr WATSON - No, to expand it.

Mr REID - I shall expand the expression I have used, and it is one very commonly used.

Mr FOWLER (PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - In the sense that a policeman destroys the liberty of the burglar2 that is all.

Mr REID - We will take that definition : Every man who has got a farm is a burglar. Every man who has got a factory should have a policeman to run him in and stop his factory, because he is a burglar. Every man who runs a team on the roads is a burglar, and some policeman should run him in. Every man who has a shop, a warehouse, a ship, or any implement of private enterprise is a burglar, and should receive the attention of the police. I am glad that the honorable member for Perth is a straightforward Socialist. I am much obliged to him, and I have no more to say on that subject.

Mr Fisher - That is the kind of argument which makes the statements of the right honorable gentleman ridiculous.

Mr REID - I wish now to ask the Prime Minister whether this progressive land tax, of which we hear, is to be an open question in the Cabinet.

Mr Wilks - Or whether it is. to be lost in the forest.

Mr REID - We may all have strong differences of opinion, but we all have a certain admiration for the right honorable the Treasurer, because of the way in which he will occasionally break over the traces. The right honorable gentleman, who is the custodian of the Commonwealth finances, replies to the financial policy of the Prime Minister, as expressed in Svdney that the Federal land tax, which is to suppress all State land taxes, is an indirect way of robbery. that it is' indirect confiscation.

Sir John Forrest - No, no; I did not say that. I said it was introduced for the purpose of bursting up estates.

Mr REID - I should like to read the very words I am going on, and this time I will stick to the press, because I quote from an interview reported in the most reliable journal in Australia - the Melbourne Age. I find that the right honorable gentleman is quite right. The expression he used was this-

Bursting up estates seems to me another way - an indirect way - of confiscation.

Sir John Forrest - I said it was introduced with that object.

Mr REID - If' it does it, it is it. Surely the right honorable gentleman admits that if it does it, it would be wrong even if it were not introduced with that object? The thing would be the same whatever was in the mind of the man who introduced it.

Sir John Forrest - I said that if it were introduced for revenue purposes-

Mr REID - Is the right honorable gentleman going to climb down on what he said ?

Sir John Forrest - Not at all.

Mr REID - Very well.

Sir John Forrest - I do not wish to be misrepresented. If the right honorable gentleman will read all that I said I shall be quite satisfied. But I do not think he should pick out portions of what I said.

Mr REID - I am reading what the right honorable gentleman said.

Sir John Forrest - The right honorable gentleman commenced by a reference to the bursting up of estates. He did not begin my statement at the beginning.

Mr REID - I do not think that any reasonable critic will expect me to read the whole of a speech because I make a quotation from it. I shall read the expression of the right honorable gentleman's view on this point, towards the end of the interview. The right honorable gentleman generally comes with a strong rush towards the end.

Sir John Forrest - I said something about land, like anything else, being subjected to taxation.

Mr REID - Quite so.

Sir John Forrest - Then why does not the right honorable gentleman quote that statement ?

Mr REID - I am- quoting the right honorable member's remarks in opposition to the proposed land tax

Sir John Forrest - But do not misrepresent me.

Mr REID - If I were to begin talking about misrepresentation, I should become bilious. It is impossible to give every word of a long speech from which one makes extracts. No one ever expects such a; thing from any one But myself. The Treasurer went on to say -

I am altogether opposed to a Commonwealth land tax.

Is that right? What does the right honorable gentleman say to that ?

Sir John Forrest - Everything I said is to be found in the report.

Mr REID - The right honorable gentleman continued -

I am surprised that any one should think it necessary, for Commonwealth purposes, to embark on land taxation-

This is the Treasurer speaking to the Prime Minister -

Such a proceeding would make federation ten times more unpopular. At any rate, I am absolutely opposed to it.

That is a straightforward declaration, and I can understand it.

Mr Johnson - Does the Treasurer still hold to that position?

Mr REID - I am sure that he does. I want now to refer to one or two very important matters that are not mentioned in the Governor-General's speech. A number of interesting announcements in connexion with Captain Collins, Mr. Knibbs, and other gentlemen who have been appointed to the Public Service of the Commonwealth, are made in it; but I think that it is quite unusual for such trivial matters to find a place in a Speech from the Throne. One of the most important matters that should have engaged the attention of the public is omitted from the speech. Five years ago we passed an Act providing for the repatriation of kanakas from Queensland. Under that law, within six months from the present date every agreement between a planter or other person and a kanaka in Queensland will be absolutely void. Such agreements are to terminate on 31st December next, so that six months hence any person who employs a kanaka will be liable to a penalty of ,£100. The expression in the Act is, I think: " Under the provisions of the Pacific Island Labourers Act." I am not familiar with that measure, but my honorable friends from Queensland, who know more of it than I do, will correct me if I am wrong. I understand that the effect of that provision, read with the Queensland Act, is that after the 1st January next no kanaka can be employed under agreement in Queensland. The agreements will be cancelled after the date named, and any human being in Queensland who employs these unfortunate men thereafter will be liable to a penalty of £100. Surely the question of the deportation of the kanakas ought to have attracted the attention of the Commonwealth Government. Wherein lies the importance of the appointment of Mr. Knibbs as Government Statist, or of giving Captain Collins a trip to London, as compared with the position of these islanders who. within six months, will be absolutely deprived of their means of existence in Australia? Surely this question might well have engaged the attention of the Government, and should have been referred1 to in the Governor-General's speech. Whilst we were perfectly resolved to bring about this change, I am certain that there is not one representative of Queensland who does not earnestly desire it to be made in the most humane and considerate manner. This Parliament will be exposed to odium if these men are not sent back to their islands in the most careful and humane way. They cannot remain in Queensland, because they are denied the right of subsistence by work there after the end of this year. The subject is one that might well have been brought to the notice of this Parliament, and I consider that in this regard there has been a' lamentable oversight. There is another matter to which I desire to refer, and to which no reference was made by His Excellency the Governor-General. I do not blame the Government for that, because I admit that the subject comes within the category of those that might well be omitted from the Governor-General's speech. We are told that the Government took a strong proceeding in defence of the rights of self-government in Natal, and protested against the interference of the Imperial Government in local concerns. That protest came from a Government most of the members of which, two or three months ago, addressed s! petition to the Prime Minister of England - because an address to the King means an address to the Prime Minister; the King can do nothing in active legislation - for a change in the parliamentary system of Great Britain. The very Prime Minister who stood up for the right of Natal to manage her own affairs approached the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland - approached the British Government - with a request that the parliamentary system of Great Britain and Ireland should be altered.

Mr Deakin - The right honorable member appears to have already forgotten that I opposed that petition being addressed to the King, and had an amendment, striking out from the motion all reference to His Majesty. My amendment would have been carried but for an Opposition trick.

Mr REID - But did not the honorable and learned gentleman vote for the motion ?

Mr Deakin - I spoke against the part of it in question, and had prepared an amendment that would have altered it.

Mr REID - The honorable and learned gentleman is being driven into . a number of extraordinary positions. I. moved art amendment, and the Prime Minister ought to admit that it raised the position I took up. I understood there was some difficulty in putting my amendment.

Mr Deakin - So there was in regard to the amendment that I proposed. I gave notice of my intention to move that the petition to the King be omitted from the motion.

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