Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 15 July 1920

Mr RYAN (West Sydney) .- I rise to support the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), because its object is to remove the present Government from office. I am not concerned with what the future consequences of their removal may be. I do not care what Government may follow, because no Government could be worse than the present; and I hope that this motion may lead to an appeal to our masters, the electors.

Mr Hill - There are not many "hear, hears" to that sentiment 1

Mr RYAN - I am entirely with the Leader of the Opposition in his desire that, at the earliest moment, the Parliament of Australia should face the electors, and give them an opportunity of pronouncing judgment on the Government, and also an opportunity of saying, in the light of events up to the present moment, who shall occupy the Treasury bench.

Dr EARLE PAGE (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A dissolution of both Houses ?

Mr RYAN - Both Houses, if the honorable member likes; but I see difficulty in having a dissolution of both Chambers under the Constitution as it is while the present Government is in power. I fail to apprehend under what circumstancesthere could be such a difference of opnion between the two Houses as would lead bo a double dissolution, and until there is a Government in power with views quite different from those of the majority of members in another place, it seems to me impossible. Unless another place op-' poses the legislation of this House we can-' not have that clash which would lead to the very desirable result of sending honorable members of both places to face the electors.

I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on. the teams of his very comprehensive motion. It attacks the Government for their general incapacity, and outlines some specific chargeswhich throw the responsibility on. honorable members, not only of. saying whether they support the Government as a Government, but whether or not they support the specific propositions made under the sub-heads.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - It. is very well set out, is it not?

Mr RYAN - I congratulate, the, Leader of the Opposition on the appropriateness of the time, he has chosen for launching this motion. It was suggested by the Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) - if. I may refer to him as ' ' Acting Treasurer " when there is no Treasurer-, and it is impossible to have a person acting for some one who does not exist - that the motion was introduced because of the pending-election at Ballarat. I need hardly say that the Labour party is in no need of adventitious aid, particularly at a by election ; the Labour party must rely on its own record of achievementon its own positive quality , and not. on the negative quality of the Government opposed to it.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I confess I do not. go much on. Ballarat just now I

Mr RYAN - No; the right honorable gentleman does not "go much on" Ballarat now. But the people will " go " a good deal "on"' Ballarat if they have an opportunity of pronouncing judgment on the members of the House.

I' congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on the time he has chosen for making his attack. It' synchronises with the decision of the electors of Ballarat, for which constituency a. Labour candidate will he returned on. Saturday with a majority,I think, of. more than 1,000 votes over all opponents:. That is a fact honorable members should allow tosink: in." The electors of Ballarat, after an experience of nearly seven months of this. Government, are able to judge it in the light of the pledges given by its members and supporters to the electors on the 13th December. . The electors are able to judge the: Government in. the light of the removal of that mass of misrepresentation with which the Government endeavoured to cloud the issue when facing the electors in December last. . The Labour party has succeeded in the Ballarat. elections against the combined opposition of the Government supporters, the Country party in the Corner, and both sections of the press.. However, I am not quarrelling with the press . In the circumstances I am very pleased! that we were opposed by both sections of the press, because it convinces me that the strength of the case for Labour was so strong- that, despite all that . opposition and despite all the attempts that were made to stir up bitterness and sectarianism, the electors, of Ballarat stood firm and gave a more pronounced decision, in favour of Labour than they had! ever given before.

Mr Stewart -I believe that the honorable member's party was. assisted by the tactics of the press.

Mr RYAN - In my opinion, the electors, of Ballarat decided upon, the, strength, of the ease for Labour, and upon nothing; else.

I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) upon the time which he has chosen, for launching this) motion; because at this moment Australia is not represented on the other side of the world upon some of the most, momentous matters connected with the welfare of this country. We read in the daily press of the Spa Conference, but Australia is not represented there.

Sir Granville Ryrie - Why?

Mr RYAN - I shall; deal: with that matter a little later. What I am concerned with now is not who is. right in the dispute between the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the late Treasurer. (Mr. Watt). I think that probably they are. both right in. their opinions of each other. At. all. events,, they ought to know each, other pretty well, by now. What I am concerned, withis the fact that at a very critical period in the. history of this country, when there are many important matters to be attended to on the otherside of the world, we are left without representation because Ministers are quarrelling with one: another. When we raised our voices against, that we weretold "This is merely a family quarrel." But when the Prime Minister wishes to get some corroboration of his own. statement in regard not say that it is merely a family quarrel. He then says, " I want my honor- able friends, the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country party, to edit these cables." Why? Because he knows that the people of Australia do not trust him, and because he recognises that unless those gentlemen affirm that they have seen the cables in question, nobody will believe him.Now we are told that the trouble is "a mere family quarrel."

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - You never have a quarrel like that on your side. You are not allowed to do so.

Mr RYAN - Because every honorable member upon this side of the chamber is. concerned with the interests of the peopleof Australia. If we have personal differences, we do not allow them to interfere with the general interests of the country.

Some very capable, comprehensive, and trenchant speeches have been delivered upon this motion by honorable members upon this side of the House. I do not intend to traverse the ground which has already been- so admirably covered by them. But I do wish to make a few observations in regard to thenature of the criticism which has emanated from the Prime Minister and from members; of the Country party. The Prime Minister's speech was very well summed up in a leading article, published in one of the Melbourne daily newspapers to-day. In speaking of it, the Age says very pithily-

It was a loud sententious speech, designed to. give the Government a fine advertisement, to smooth down the ruffled feelings of the Country, corner and to inflame the passions which served political purposes during the war, but which now intensify the divisions amongst the people that true- Australians must neeessarily deplore. Mr. Hughes is still using Dr. Mannix as a political scarecrow, still posing as the champion of the mighty Empire which stands unshakable before all the winds that blow and in his own puny strength guarding it from destruction.

That is not my description of the speech made by the Prime Minister. It is that of the Age newspaper, and I indorse it. I have not quoted from the press which supports the Labour party, but from the press which opposed us very strongly at Ballarat.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - I thought the honorable member was going to say that hehad quoted from the press which supports us.

Mr RYAN - I have quoted from a source which by no stretch of imagination can be said to be a supporter of the party of which I am a member.

What is the nature of the criticism which has emanated from my honorable friends of the Country party? I havelistened to the speeches of three members of that party, and if I am any judge of the nature of those deliverances, those members are not going to vote together upon this motion. But while they endeavoured to make good their own case, either intentionally or unintentionally they misrepresented the platform and programme of the Labour party. It very often happens that a wrong impression is conveyed to thepeople by the use of language which can be misunderstood, and which, if not misunderstood, can be misrepresented. It has been suggested by members of the Country party that honorable memberst upon this side of the chamber are not concerned with the interests of the primary producer. But anybody whostudies the platform of the Labour party will find that it is built upon an understanding that the interests of the producer and consumer are identical, that the natural allies to form any party are the producer and the consumer, eliminating the middleman. I want to remove any misapprehension that may exist in the minds of honorable members as to. what our attitude is upon this matter..

Mr Prowse - Why does the censure motion complain only of conditions overseas.

Mr RYAN - The motion was evidently well considered by the leader of the Opposition, because it covers not only the sales of Australian products overseas, butalso what has happened within the borders of Australia.. The honorable member for Yarra charges, the Government with general incapacity. Itis for every honorable member to say whether or not he can support the charge. But I wish. to deal now with the positive programme of the Labour party rather than with the sins of the Government. I repeat that the programme and platform of the Labour party is based upon a recognition that the interests of the producer and consumer areidentical.The producer and the consumer are natural allies, andthe middleman, whom members on the Treasury bench represent, is the common enemy of both. My honorable friends in the Country corner have shown by theirstatement of their own case that their party is not fitted to hold the reins of government in this country. Can any party claim to govern the country which, upon its own confession, represents only a section of the people ? The Leader of the party (Mr. Mcwilliams), the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory), and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) have affirmed that they represent the primary producer only and not the consumer. They have declared that the Labour party represents the consumer. I say that we represent both the producer and the consumer, who are natural allies.

Mr PROWSE - The honorable member says that, but he does not prove it.

Mr RYAN - I say it, because our platform and programme show it. No party can claim the right to govern Australia unless it stands for the interests both of the producer and the consumer. On their own statement of their case, the members of the Country party do not pretend that they stand for the consumer. They stand only for the man on the land whereas the Labour party stands for both. There are many members of our party who represent the primary producing interests of this country. Any honorable member may run through the list himself. There is the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Nicholls), the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Lavelle), the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham), the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley), the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), and others. They are the living evidence that the primary producers of this country recognise that the Labour party stands for the interests of the producer and consumer alike. It is very important that the people of Australia should understand that the basic foundation upon which our programme is built is a sound one. We show it in our platform and our programme. But members of the Country party do not claim to stand for the interests of the people in the city as well as of those in the country.

Mr Prowse - We claim to benefit all.

Mr RYAN - Just a word or two in regard to the misrepresentations that have come from members of the Country party.

Suggest corrections