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Thursday, 15 July 1920

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) .- I intend to vote for the motion, a statement which I think needs no explanation from me. For many years - ever since the Watson Government was in power - I have fought the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). I have never trusted- him since that time, and even if to vote against him would consign me to political oblivion, I could not see my way to keep him at the head of an Administration.

T intend to address most of my remarks to-night to the subject of political economy. At the outset I wish to say that I shall welcome the appointment of a new Treasurer. The other day in the street I was asked, concerning the telegrams between Mr. Hughes and Mr Watt, which were being published in the newspapers, "Who was the liar?" My reply was, " Both are splendid prevaricators, true descendants of Ananias." For deception I would back the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) against any man I ever met, read of, or thought of; but whatever he may do, not even his most inveterate enemy - and I have been that since the days of the Watson Government - will deny that he possesses a quality that Mr. .Watt never possessed, namely, courage. Could any man in this House imagine Mr. Hughes deserting his country in her hour of need, as Mr. Watt did, when far away on a mission where no man1 could for the time being fill his place? I do not care what the quarrel might have been ; Mr. Watt when in England was like a soldier with a duty to perform, and he betrayed his country, and was unfaithful in the great mission he was sent to fulfil. I have memories of him crowing like a cock on a dunghill when he -beat Mr. Prendergast at North Melbourne, and weeping like a lost child when Mr. Prendergast beat him. So much for that gentleman, who, to use his own words, went "into the void." That may be the entrance to Hades, for all I know.

My leader has gone so fully into figures, which no honest man, if he checked them, could contradict, that I shall not have much to say regarding the cost of living. At least while the war was on, and they could use the War Precautions Act, this Ministry could have done anything they thought proper to prevent the cost of living from rising. I repeatedly asked that the owners of property should be prevented from unjustly raising their rents, but I was always met camouflage or subterfuge. My charge against the Prime Minister and his Government is that they never raised a finger to help those unfortunates who were badly treated by the landlords. The Prime Minister could find £2,500,000 to spend on ships, without asking the permission of this Parliament, and could have found another £1,000,000 if he had needed it. We have had it from the lips of Mr. Watt that the Cabinet was consulted, but honorable members know my opinion of his statements. I do not believe that one. Rents at the present time are an infamy, not only in this huge city, but also in the larger capital of New South Wales. Honorable members, if they go into the slum districts, can see for themselves the conditions that obtain there. Here in Melbourne, in a street 9 feet wide, there are houses which would be condemned if they belonged to private land-owners, but because they belong to the gilded aldermen or councillors of the city of Melbourne, they are allowed to" remain. There are four two-storied buildings with only one latrine for the whole of them. All the families in those houses have to use if. When the Board of Health does, move, and the council has a building pulled down, it does nothing for the housing of the unfortunates who are dispossessed. I am out against landlords unless controlled. That is why I object to the inaction of this Government. My experience is that Governments do not sufficiently study the health and welfare of the human beings who elect members to Parliament.

The prices of food have gone up and up. There are transfers from Mr. Merchant A to Mr. Merchant. B. and then to Mr. Merchant C, each of whom wants his little bit; and thus the public has to pay more and more. Why do not we follow the example set in older countries during the war, where they were forced to fix the prices of foods. The farmer should be allowed a fair price for his wheat delivered at the railway station, and a fair allowance should be made for the gristing of the flour at the mill. The flour should be sold at a fixed price, anil millers who would not sell1 to bakers at that price - and that occurred1 in Melbourne - should be sent 'to gaol.

Flour has been refused to honest bakers in Melbourne -who wished to sell bread over the counter at a fair price, and the law could not compel the millers, to sell to them. The incident makes one think of that mayor of Paris who said, " Let the people eat grass," and was hanged from a lamp-post with grass stuck in his mouth. The ,price of bread' sold over the counter should also be fixed. In this connexion, let me quote what was said by my beloved friend, the Leader of His Majesty's Opposition in the Victorian Parliament, in a speech delivered in the Legislative Assembly on the 12th November last. Bread was cheaper then than it is now. He said -

The remarkable thing is that, while the public are paying from 7d. to 8$&. per loaf for bread, the bakers can accept contracts for the delivery of bread to Government asylums and other institutions at 5£d. and 5Jd. per loaf, and they make a profit at the latter prices.

Lei the baker charge what he can get for the bread that he delivers, but let the Government fix the price of bread sold over the counter. Jonathan Hutchinson, one of the greatest surgeons that England ever had, and one of the greatest European surgeons that lived into this century, advocated in the late nineties the nationalization of bread in England, so that every individual could receive his or her quota. The best surgeon in his specialty in London was man enough to advance that theory.

As for the price of clothing, was it not stated in the other House, and did not the information come out in a mitigated form in sworn evidence, that cloth manufactured in certain factories "walked into the warehouses, turned right round and walked straight out again," to use the words of a song, its price being doubled and trebled in the process t Tweed made in Australia is sold as European tweed. Honorable members have heard of the warehouseman, Mr. Williamson. He is a most- charming gentleman to meet, and I should be very pleased to go a journey with him. Still I think I am not doing him any injustice when I say that he tried to trip rae. From Allen's, or somewhere else, they came up with a letter from a country resident. Luckily they forgot themselves. There are such things as looking-glasses, and it is possible sometimes for a man to see what is happening behind him. That did not happen in my case, but I learned sufficient to know that something was afoot, and I did not accept an invitation to examine certain books. Then Mr. Williamson and I had some correspondence. I stated that the Rev. Mr. Cox, a relative of the exTreasurer (Mr. Watt), had made certain statements at Geelong. Mr. Williamson said that Mr. Cox had repudiated that, and asked me to withdraw. I am never afraid to withdraw any statement I make if it is shown that it is not true. I asked Mr. Williamson to let me know what Mr. Cox really did say, because I had the excerpt from the papers before me. I said that if the statement made in his letter was in accord with my notes, I should be prepared to explain the matter at my next meeting. Mr. Williamson sent me Mr. Cox's letter, and to my astonishment that letter confirmed my statement. It contained no repudiation of that statement. Honorable mem!bers may have read of the wonderful challenge to contribute £50 to the hospital if I did soandso. I think so much of hospitals that I am always willing, when I can, to secure such a donation as that for them. My answer was that Mr. Williamson, the chairman of the warehousemen of Melbourne, had challenged me in a certain way. I have had some correspondence with the gentleman which was not satisfactory, and unless he made a statutory declaration that the statements in his letter were true I should take no further notice of him. I said it was an easy matter, to offer a challenge in connexion with something which involved the inspection of accounts by a keen accountant. By that time evidence had been given before the State Fair Profits Commission, and Mr. Williamson did not care to say that his statements were true, They were not true, and he knows it well. I charge him here to-night, as I have done on a public- platform, to swear an affidavit, and then I shall know what to do.

Flinders-lane has been an absolute curse to the Anzac tweed industry. I am at present wearing a suit of tweed made by some of those brave boys who have been to the Front. They have never had a dog's show. The Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie), in his rough but good-tempered way, told some of those under him that they were never to " sell him a pup " ; but I may inform the honorable gentleman that he was given a " pup " that was absolutely bloated with rottenness when he was supplied with the report of the Committee that dealt with the subject. Three of these men have denied the statements of the Committee. SergeantSinclair, a man who fought in the South African war, and offered his services in the last great war, was elbowed out of the Anzac tweed business because he stood up to a Minister and told Senator Millen that he was wrong. He refused to put any rubbish into the cloth, on the ground that if he did so, no man who had any of it made up into a suit would call for more. I exhibited the yarn here, and I showed it to Senator Millen, in the presence, thank goodness, of another member of Parliament. He said it should not be done. And if honorable members want to know the end of it, let them ask Buckley and Nunn where it was sent.

Sinclair is starting a private company to-day, and I hope that honorable members who have a little money to spare will take shares in it. He has done what this mighty Government said they could not do. They said they could not give more than 500 lbs. of yarn per week to the returned soldiers. If the Government had given the returned men a chance from the first, I do not hesitate to say there would to-day be a thousand men in Melbourne earning from £5 to £7 per week. Men engaged in similar business are. earning in Glasgow and Aberdeen from £4 10s. to £6 10s. per week. Senator Millen, with a superior air, acquired, no doubt, in Flinders-lane, said that there was not a future for hand-woven tweed. What is the answer to the honorable senator ? It is that Burbury, the greatest maker of overcoats in the world, has entered into a ten years' contract to take all the cloth they make. I should like honorable members to go down and see these men' working. As to the cost of machines, a contract for twenty has been offered for £15 each. I wish Sinclair luck. I know that he is an honest man. He stood up against this Government, and. against Senators Pearce and Millen when they used their vilest influence, and when in order to get him out of the business they had to resort to the contemptible camouflage that no one must be employed in the Anzac tweed industry unless he was a returned soldier of the recent war. The man to whom I refer had actually created the industry. Senator Millen was foolish enough to write to the press that there were no injured men employed there. As a matter of fact, at one time every man employed in the industry was an injured man, and the Minister for Repatriation had only to visit the factory to be aware of that.

I ask those who come from the other side of the Murray to see for themselves how the Anzacs are being treated in that splendid factory in Sydney, where they manufacture not only woollens, but the very best of worsteds. They are under the Red. Cross authorities, and not under the vile Defence Department. They have been given fair play from the very first, and are now employing about 35 men. They haye contracts for all that they can produce for the next two years. That is another answer to the statement made by Senator Millen which I can hardly find words to condemn. Honorable members can get the address of this factory from a telephone book, and if they visit it they will see how happy these men look, and they can inspect the splendid material they are making. Their "blueys" might be sold as the very finest ever manufactured in the West of England. The warehousemen of Flinders-lane know what I mean by "blueys." The "nigger browns" and "nigger blacks" turned out at this factory are magnificent, and I emphasize the fact that it has had no assistance from the present Federal Government. I wish the men engaged in the industry all success. They are assured of a plentiful supply of yarn from private companies. Mr. Sinclair has been able to get yarn from private companies, and has entered into a contract, although the Government said they could not supply more than 500 lbs. per week. I do not say that the Assistant Minister for Defence is responsible for what has occurred. I believe that he desires as sincerely as I do to help these men. I ask him to go and see them, and I shall be pleased if he will permit me to go with him.

Sir Granville Ryrie - We will go together.

Dr MALONEY (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - So much for rents, food and clothing.

I have here an extract from last evening's newspaper referring to refund's made in connexion with sales of bran. I desire to thank Sir James McCay, Mr. Charles Gray4 and Mr. Hutchinson for the work they are doing. They are doing splendid work, but not all they might do if they were invested with more power. They have to report to the State Government, and State Governments, like this created thing we call a Parliament, once elected, can delay and continue to delay. The people who are our creators for one day in three years have, after our election, no more power over us. When an election comes on, as one did on last Saturday, there is some little turmoil and upheaval. I find that some £453 overcharged in connexion with sales of bran has been refunded. If these charges were unjustly made, why are not those who made them' in gaol ? That is the best place for them. I quoted on a previous occasion a translation which will be found buried in Hansard somewhere, of a section of the criminal part of the Code Napoleon. That almost superman formulated his Code in 1812, and he seems to' have foreseen the course which would be followed by the money spinners of the present time, because he provided in his Code that if any man or body of men conspired to secure the unjust raising of prices, the punishment should be 20,000 francs and six months' imprisonment. Not "fine or imprisonment," but "fine and imprisonment." If the offence was the raising of the prices of food, such- as wheat, flour, wine, which in Prance is regarded as a food, and other articles of food, the punishment was doubled at 40,000 francs and twelve months' imprisonment. The imprisonment of one of these firms, would -be more effective than the imposition of any fine.

It may interest honorable members to know the character of the fines that are imposed here. I have a list of some which I quote from a return to 30th December, 1918, in continuation of a previous return showing separately the fines imposed. I find that under the Dairy Supervision Act there were 94 offences, and the fines amounted to £70. Under the Health Act there were 36- offences, and the fines amounted to £9- 3. Under the Factories and Shops Act the offences numbered 395, arid the fines amounted to £521. Under the Weights and Measures Act there were 24 offences and £37 10s. was levied in fines. Under the Bakers arid Millers Act there were 36 offences and the fines imposed amounted to £117. These figures account for a total of 886 offences, and total fines amounting to £1,680. This gives an average fine of £2 for each offence. A penalty of one week's imprisonment for a second or third offence would have a far more deterrent effect than the imposition of a fine of £2.

Honorable members know of the dirty kitchens we have here. There are more in Sydney. In my early days in Paris I once saw a crowd gathered round a baker's shop window in which was exposed a placard setting out that the proprietor had been fined a certain sum for putting alum in his bread, or committing some other offence against the pure-food laws. Under the law he was required to allow that notice to remain in his window for two or three weeks. If we had such a law in operation here I am satisfied it would have a salutary effect. In this city many persons charged, with offences against the Health Act or the Pure. Foods Act pay the fines into Court with the object of escaping publicity. The press is the real guardian of the health of the people, since it does not hesitate to publish the names of offenders. I am told that in Berlin if a draper advertises goods under cost prices and a Government officer finds it false by an examination of his books, he is entitled to mark these goods at 10 per cent, below cost and to require them to remain in his shop windows until they are sold. The return from which I quoted a few moments ago contains the names of Harper, Angliss, and a number of other wellknown business people. It also includes the name of Lucas, who was fined for not keeping food in a rat-proof storeroom. I have also a return for the twelve months ending 30th September, 1919, which shows, that during that period there were fifty convictions in Victoria for offences against the Dairy Supervision Act, and that the fines imposed amounted to £45. There were 297 cases under the Health Act, and the fines imposed' amounted to £900. Under the Factories and Shops Act there were 360 cases, and the fines inflicted amounted to £325. There were also 52 cases under the Weights and Measures Act, and the fines amounted to £114, while there were 28 prosecutions against bakers and millers, and the fines inflicted amounted tq £76. For the twelve months there were 742 cases under these Acts, and the fines totalled £1,400. In other words, they did not average £2 per case. With all due respect to many honest men who hold the commission of the peace, I cannot help saying that a lot of them do not play the game, and are not even commonly honest when they impose trifling fines for offences of this kind. When the people have the power, which I hope they will soon possess, we shall have a change.

Coming to the question of immigration, I am sure that when the people here are happy - when we have plenty of employment offering and the opportunities for advancement are great - we shall welcome immigrants. There is one form of immigration, however, that does not appeal to me. My friend, Mr. Prendergast, Leader of His Majesty's Opposition in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, when speaking in that chamber on 12th November last, quoted the following circular: -

The Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, Manufacturers' Buildings, 304-316 Flinders-street.

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