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Wednesday, 14 July 1920

Mr SPEAKER - That is a matter entirely within the control of the Speaker. I have quoted the standing order on the subject, and cannot argue the point with the honorable member.

Mr TUDOR - But I am permitted to express my regret for what has taken place.

Mr SPEAKER - I do not think that matter comes within the terms of the honorable member's motion which is now before the Chair.

Mr TUDOR - This notice of motion of mine has had a very rocky passage right from the start.

Mr Brennan - And it is not passed yet.

Mr TUDOR - I am aware of that fact, but the indications are hopeful. I make no secret of what I am going for. I stated here at the dinner to General Birdwood, before Parliament met, that what I was after was a double dissolution. I am after that now. I am not afraid of the effects on future elections of any vote that has been given here.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Does not the £1,400 a year satisfy you?

Mr TUDOR - I am quite prepared to go to the country to-morrow on a double dissolution; make no mistake: about that. The indications we have received since notice was given of this motion are very hopeful for honorable members on this side of the House.

On Thursday we were accused by the Minister for the Navy (Sir Joseph Cook) of giving notice of motion simply becausethe Ballarat election was pending. That honorable member did us a very good turn by postponing or preventing the discussion of the motion, for if ever you get the people outside imagining that Parliament, or a section of Parliament, desires to prevent free discussion, the people will give an effective answer, as they did in 1910. In that year they felt that the Labour party, to which the Prime Minister and myself then beslonged, were not being given a fair deal in the House. They believed that we were being closured and prevented from putting our case before them, and they resented the fact accordingly. Thepeople resented the Government tactics on Saturday last, when they thought the Government intended to burke the discussion on this motion by postponing it.

I referred last Friday, on a point of order, to a statement attributed by the Melbourne Herald to the Prime Minister. The following paragraph, which appeared in that paper on the 8th July, was my authority: -


Mr. HughesSounds Warning.

Ballarat, Thursday. - To meet Mr. Hughes, the Prime Minister, and Senator Plain, the President of the National Federation, a number of city men gathered at Craig's Hotel to-day, at' the invitation of Senator W. K. Bolton, President of the Ballarat Branch of the National Federation. Mr. Hughes, replying to greetings, sounded a note of warning as to the dangers that beset the Nationalist Government from a few extremists and disloyalists. He saidsupport was now more than ever needed for the Nationalist Government, which had but the most slender majority, in order to keep the principles of Nationalism on a sound foundation.

My free interpretation of that statement was that the Prime Minister said that the Government were " hanging on by the skin of their teeth." He admitted in that statement that the Government at that time had but a slender majority. That majority, slight as it was, has gone.

The Government to-day are without a majority. The House was not permitted to debate this motion prior to the Ballarat election, but the discussion of it is more than ever necessary to-day. Taking the figures for the Ballarat by-election, and assuming that the same results were to occur in the remaining seventy-four constituencies-

Mr Stewart - The honorable member surely would not be so foolish as to suggest anything of the kind.

Mr TUDOR - Make no mistake about it; the same thing would happen in many other electorates. The figures so far to hand in respect of the Ballarat election prove, if they prove anything at aU, that the party to which the honorable member belongs either did not put up a very strong candidate, or that its principles are not approved by the electors there.

Mr Mathews - The Age killed tho Country party's candidate by supporting him.

Mr TUDOR - The two candidates who were supported by that newspaper as, being preferable to the Nationalist and Labour candidates have both lost their deposits. In respect of the Ballarat election, the Age urged the electors to vote for the candidates in the following order: - Troup, 1; Callow, 2; Kerby, 3; McGrath, 4. The result shows that the Age has a capacity for selecting candidates in the wrong way. The first two candidates on its list have lost their deposits, while Mr. Kerby, who was selected by the Argus, is second on the poll. The Ballarat newspapers also opposed the Labour candidate. Labourites have not to thank the newspapers for any political or industrial gain secured by them.. Every success achieved by Labour has been in the face of bitter opposition on the part of the press. The workers have nothing for which to thank the press. The Prime Minister who, in the old days, fought in the political and industrial ranks of Labour knows that my statement is correct. Labour has had to contend against the undying hostility of the press, and when the Age and the Argus stated that I was wrong in giving notice of this motion, and that the party which I lead was wrong in deciding that that action should be taken, I felt more than ever convinced that we were on the right track.

Mr Stewart - Is this a motion of censure on the press?

Mr TUDOR - I shall deal with the motion in my own way. I am here today despite press opposition.

Mr Hill - Does the honorable member think that our return was due to the press ?

Mr TUDOR - Some honorable members of the Country party undoubtedly owe their election to the assistance given them by the newspapers. I, on the other hand, am here in spite of the press.

Mr Gregory - Where? In Opposition?

Mr TUDOR - No. I say that I am a member of this House despite press opposition. When our party held office to the intense dissatisfaction of my honorable friend, it was not because of any press support that had been accorded to it.

Coming to the first paragraph in the motion in which we ask the House to censure the Government on account of its failure to prevent the inordinate rise in the cost of living, I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will reply that this complaint was made on a former occasion. But will any one say that the cost of living has not increased since then, and is not increasing to-day?

Mr Corser - It is increasing in all parts of the world. - Mr. TUDOR. - That is the excuse made by some honorable members opposite for the rise in prices here. They say that because prices are going up elsewhere the people of Australia must expect to suffer in the same way. It is no satisfaction to a man who has had a finger crushed in a machine to be told of some one who hai had four fingers crushed in the same way : and it is no consolation to the people who are suffering by reason of the profiteering that is going on in this country to learn that prices are increasing in other parts of the world.

Sir Granville Ryrie - Had the Labour party 'been in power would the position have been different?

Mr TUDOR - We certainly would have tried to improve it. When the Prime Minister returned from Great Britain last year he stated in his first public utterance that he was going to shoot t}i© profiteer and the Bolsheviks. Either the weapon that he used is defective, or he is an awfully bad shot.

Mr Hill - Perhaps he was only using blank cartridge.

Mr TUDOR - No doubt, as the honorable member suggests, the Prime Minister was only using -blank cartridge. The fact remains that not one profiteer has been dealt with. The profiteers are going on their way rejoicing, knowing that no action has been taken to deal 'with them.

Mr Lister - They have been set a very bad example by this House.

Mr TUDOR - The honorable member, who is referring to the increased allowance to honorable members, should speak for himself. When I was in Ballarat three weeks ago the electors were anxious to hear what I had to say on the subject. I dealt with it at length before a meeting of 3,000 persons, and was not greeted with one hostile interjection.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - You got a rise of £800. Is that not profiteering?

Mr TUDOR - It is not. I took no part in the discussion on the question of making a special allowance to the Leader of the Opposition, but amongst those who supported the proposal were the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Bruce), and the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell). If a division had been taken on it, I doubt whether there would have been as many votes cast against it as there were against the proposed increase in the allowance to honorable members generally. As a matter of fact, I have not heard of one member who would oppose it.

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