Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 16 July 1920

Mr TUDOR - But the Minister will admit that I desired an extension of the Commercial Activities Act.

Mr GROOM - The honorable member desired to extend that Act beyond the period for which we had a right to continue it. The honorable member will admit that he desired to wipe out the War Precautions Act altogether. My argument is based, not upon the passing conditions of war, but upon permanent conditions, and the powersthat reside in the Commonwealth in times of peace. The Imperial Act, the Act passed in Queensland on the 11th March of this year, and the Victorian Act, all recognise that the only method of dealing with the profiteer is ultimately to bring the individual offender to account and punish him. But in the main these individual transactions are under the control of the States, and are outside the jurisdiction of this Parliament. The Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) stated very clearly to the electors that this Parliament had no effective power of legislation in regard to profiteering, and it was in order to be able to do something effective in that direction that he urged that the Commonwealth should be given adequate powers for a limited period over realms of State, jurisdiction regarding trade and commerce, corporations, and other matters. I have stated the constitutional position as it exists- to-day. It is a question, not of party politics, but of knowing exactly where this Parliament stands, what constitutional powers it possesses, to what extent it can legislate, and, if it has not the necessary power, what additional powers it should be given by the people. I apologize to honorable members for having dealt at such length with the legal aspect of the question, but I think that my remarks were justified in the circumstances.

Honorable members opposite have been saying that they do not represent one class or section of the community only. I should like the outside public to' compare the speeches of Labour members in this House with the literature issued by the official Labour organizations outside. If we wish to get at the true inwardness of the Labour par y's objective, we must have regard, not to the speeches delivered, in this House, but to the driving forces outside, as indicated by the booklets published by various Labour organ irzations

Mr Gabb - The honorable member cannot name one of those publications.

Mr GROOM - I have copies qf a number of them. Has the honorable member read the literature issued from the Brisbane Worker office? Has he read all the pamphlets issued on the subject of the socialistic propaganda of those organizations and their explanation of the Soviets ? Honorable members opposite say that they represent all classes and sections of the community. In this regard a very significant remark was made by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan): When the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) interjected, "We are in favour of co-operation, and we ask you to come half-way to meet us," the honorable member for West Sydney replied, "Yes, but we believe in. real co-operation between producer and consumer." What is this real co-operation between producer and consumer? The honorable member does not mean that all men, producers and consumers alike, shall be shareholders in one co-operative organization. Perhaps this paragraph from the Australian Labour party's official platform, as published in the Brisbane Worker on the 4th December, 1914, will help us in interpreting the honorable member's remarks-

Objective (2). The emancipation of all human labour from all forms of exploitation, and the obtaining for all workers the full reward of their industry by the collective ownership and democratic control of the collectively used agencies of production, distribution, and exchange.

Honorable members boast of the support they obtained from the electors of Hume, Werriwa, and various other farming constituencies. Did the Labour candidates in those electorates advocate as one of the planks of their platform that the farms which the farmers own and control should ultimately pass from their hands into collective ownership ?

Suggest corrections