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Wednesday, 17 July 1912


The PRESIDENT - Senator St. Ledger is perfectly in order in reading an extract.


Senator ST LEDGER - Surely I am entitled to refer to my notes. I have prepared fairly extensive notes for the purpose of enabling me to be brief. Mr. Evans continued -

But we have been dragged into a very grave position by which these workshops are practically closed, and the shops in Townsville are closed also. This means assembling practically roo or more engines - emptying the boilers and tenders, white-leading the motions and laying them up, and this in its turn means a large quantity of machinery being laid up also. Now,

I am informed that there have been men at work to-day, but that puts me into a much more serious position that I ever dreamed of, as a gentleman named Brown is reported to have said on the 4th instant, that he had called out the shunters in the local railway yards, and they had come out to a man, also that the names of the men who had reported themselves for duty had been secured, and would be available. " The time is coming," he is reported to have said, " when we shall go back to those shops. When I go back there these thirty-two men will have to go." Continuing, Mr. Evans said "Those men have now increased to 204. I don't know where he expects you to go to. I expect you to remain where you are, and, if it is necessary for me to do so, I will sleep on the premises, and will see that no "man interferes with my business. I am proud that your names are still on the railway books, and I hope Mr. Brown will not wipe them off. . (Laughter.) Mr. Brown was also reported to have declared they were all going back to the shops, and going back to a man - going back in a body or not at all. Some people, said Mr. Brown, told them that they would lose their privileges, but that was a matter which concerned them all, and to which they would not submit. " What I hope is this : The very fact of your action in coming back will induce others who have been misinformed - I do not say intimidated - to come back before 7.30 on Thursday morning. i have asked them, and I now ask them through you to come back to work. If they do, everything will go as it went before. (Applause.) From Mr. Brown's remarks, I take it he is at the head of a great force, a great army, or he wishes me and you to think he is, and just at this point is where you and I come in. He says he is going to put you out, but when he and his great army does that I go out also, and if I go out without defending, or attempting to defend, the lives and property committed to my charge, I am sure all rightminded people will say I was not worthy of being placed at the head of the great railway service, and I wish with all peaceful earnestness to inform Mr. Brown that I wish to be the head of a small force at the Ipswich workshops when he comes along, and the defence will be grounded on the fact that we are on the defence, through no quarrel of our own bringing about, and, therefore, we may hope to strengthen our forces through those who are ever ready to help those who have been hit below the belt, and that we have been hit in the most cowardly manner is apparent."

That is sufficient evidence of the gravity of the position and of the wantonness of the attack which was made upon the railway property. On the day following the speech a good number of the men returned to the Ipswich workshops. Mr. Evans then addressed them. I will give a brief extract from his speech both to the men who had remained loyal and to those who had been wavering. I quote this, because I think it will appeal, not only to the Senate, but to whomsoever may read it. It was listened to attentively by the people to whom it was delivered, and its appeal has equal force to others.

Let me tell you, with all the earnestness in my power, that it is your duty to your God, and to those depending on you, to think, think, think ; to use your brains as well as your hands in your daily avocations, and therefore I do ask of you to be careful in the future, and do. not be led away by those who induce you to strike. If at any time you feel inclined to be dissatisfied, send for me, and I will go to you, if possible ; in fact, it is my duty, as it is your duty to come to me, and, my dear friends, is there not room for thought - much thought - when we consider that those whom you and I sent into the highest tribunal in the land to make the laws, should be the first to incite us - you and I, mind - to break those laws? Does the law of God not say that we shall "cling .to our wives," and to honour our parents, but are we doing it when we tear the roof from above them, and keep food from their mouths, and clothing from their bodies, by stopping the earnings that are justly due to them ?

That speech, to my mind, was not only creditable to the courage and capacity of the Railways Commissioner, but, considering the occasion on which it was made, and the circumstances to which it was applicable, is. worthy of being pondered by the whole of Australia.


Senator Rae - What has it to do with the question under discussion ?


Senator ST LEDGER - I cannot understand the obtuseness of the honorable senator in not perceiving how this goes straight to the point. When we find a Government supporting those who attack State agencies it is time for them to be criticised, and time for them to pay attention to the criticism. If they choose to pass it by, as some honorable senators opposite are attempting to do, I have no hesitation in saying that the people will do their duty when appeal is made to them on the matter. I now leave the question of how an attempt was made to strike at the railway communications in order to assist the Brisbane strikers, and will show what happened in regard to shipping. The waterside workers-


Senator Millen - Had they any grievance at that time?


Senator ST LEDGER - None ; and they were working under an industrial agreement filed in the Arbitration Court.


Senator Millen - Arbitration Court - State or Federal ?


Senator ST LEDGER - The Federal Court.


Senator Guthrie - What are the waterside workers?


Senator ST LEDGER - There is no man in the Senate who knows better to whom I am referring than does Senator

Guthrie, though, by his interjection, he pretends that he does not know. His attitude is a sample of the hypocrisy which I strongly resent in an argument of this kind. I believe I am correct in saying that one of the parties to the industrial agreement to which I refer was the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. I shall give the names of those who signed the agreement, which is still in operation. It came into existence some time before the strike broke out. But, notwithstanding its binding nature, the men walked away from their employment. They broke the agreement, apparently, with less concern than they would have shown about eating a meal or drinking a glass of beer.


Senator Millen - Yet we have been told that the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court have always been obeyed.


Senator ST LEDGER - This is an awkward fact.


Senator Guthrie - I say there was no award.


Senator ST LEDGER - Senator Guthriehas some association with the interests of this federation, and knows more about it than I do. No doubt it is a most disagreeable fact for him, and for the Government, that this agreement was so wantonly broken. Yet those who broke it obtained the support of the Prime Minister and his colleagues.


Senator Guthrie - That is very nice; but the honorable senator has yet to prove that there was an award affecting the waterside workers. There is no award in existence.


Senator ST LEDGER - I think I shall be able to prove my case - that there was a serious breach of the agreement, and that that breach, under our law, is severely punishable.


Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator has to prove the agreement, or award, before he can say that it was broken.


Senator Millen - Is it a fact that an award was made?


Senator Guthrie - There is no agreement under the Arbitration Act.


Senator Millen - Was there not a voluntary agreement?


Senator Guthrie - There may have been; but not an award.


Senator ST LEDGER - The honorable senator is less likely to make a mistake than I am on these matters; but I have given the subject some Care, and venture to submit that I am absolutely accurate in the statement I am making. ' '


Senator Guthrie - No !


Senator ST LEDGER - Very well ; we will call for the documents, if necessary.


Senator Guthrie - Hear, hear !


Senator ST LEDGER - But let me say this now : Just before I came into the chamber this afternoon, I telephoned to the Registrar of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and asked him whether a certain document was in existence, and had been filed at his office. The Registrar told me that there was an industrial agreement, and gave me the date on which it was signed and executed. He gave me the names of the parties who signed it. Therefore, it seems to me to be idle to try to make out that these waterside workers were not working under an industrial agreement, properly signed and executed, and now in the possession of the Registrar of the Federal Arbitration Court. History shows that that agreement was broken. I believe that, at the present time, the Court is considering what, if any, shall be the punishment inflicted upon those men for having broken the agreement.


Senator Rae - They had better reflect a long time before they do anything.


Senator Millen - Senator Guthrie just now denied that there was any agreement to break.


Senator Guthrie - Nor is there.


Senator ST LEDGER - It may interest the Senate to know who were the parties who signed that industrial agreement. This information I also received from the Registrar this afternoon. It was signed on behalf of the Steam-ship Owners' Association by E. Northcote,W. F. Appleton, and E. M. McDonald; and on behalf of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, by W. M. Hughes, W. H. Laird Smith, F. W. Bamford, and J. Morris.


Senator Millen - How could these men sign an agreement if there was no agreement to sign?


Senator ST LEDGER - In answer to that interjection, I may say that I have heard things which seem to me to be as indisputable as the fingers on one's hand so repeatedly denied by honorable senators opposite, that I am surprised at nothing. I am even prepared to believe that the document to which I am referring will be denied. One of the most remarkable features of recent political discussions has been that, when in connexion with the Brisbane strike we have given irrefragable proof of facts, they have been denied so calmly in official organs of the Labour party and elsewhere, that it makes one realize something of the force of the Scripture incident about Ananias and Sapphira. It is somewhat remarkable, also, that three of the gentlemen whom I have mentioned as signing the agreement are members of this Parliament. I am not aware that history records that, during the strike, they went up to Brisbane to recall the men to a sense of their duty. These three gentlemen were, in fact, conspicuous by their silence, notwithstanding that their names are attached to the document which was intended to insure industrial peace.


Senator Rae - That is not correct. Mr. Bamford's name is one, and he condemned what the waterside workers did in Queensland.


Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator knows perfectly that Mr. Hughes' health would not allow him to go.


Senator St LEDGER - Was it riot possible for him to write, or send a telegram? There was nothing on earth to prevent him.


Senator Millen - He was well enough to rush into print about the Werriwa election, and might have rushed into print about the breach of the agreement.


Senator ST LEDGER - Was the slightest desire shown by honorable senators opposite, outside Parliament, to recall these men to a sense of their duty? Does not the very fact of this flagrant breach of an industrial agreement by men who had not put forward the slightest ground of complaint against their employers make us lose faith both in the Act itself and in the pious professions which are continually being poured outfrom the other side in regard to conciliation and arbitration ?


Senator Guthrie - Where was the breach ?


Senator ST LEDGER - The breach was, I' take it, the strike. What is the object of the Act itself but that when the parties to a dispute have entered into an industrial agreement it shall be as perfect a guarantee for industrial peace as can be insured by means of legislation? When men wantonly and flagrantly break an industrial agreement, and their leaders are silent both here and outside, what hope can we put in the effiectiveness of industrial agreements? If our opponents are sincere in their profession of belief in the efficiency of this principle, they are giving us no evidence at a critical time of their sincerity.


Senator Rae - Members of your party never give us any evidence of their sincerity when bad employers do rotten things and break the law. Do you ever denounce them?


Senator ST LEDGER - To repeat the copy-book maxim, "One wrong does not justify or condone another wrong."


Senator Rae - Very often it does.


Senator ST LEDGER - I am dealing with what I think was a wrongful act - in fact, a discreditable act by. all parties to the industrial agreement.


Senator Rae - We do not hear a word about Badger.


Senator ST LEDGER - I shall have something to say about Mr. Badger in .that connexion in a little while. It is only the gospel of the red herring which is now being preached. May I ask honorable senators to address themselves to the points which I have submitted, namely, the existence of an industrial agreement, the parties who signed it, and the breach ?


Senator Gardiner - What was the agreement ?


Senator ST LEDGER - To remain at work as long as it was offered to them. The waterside workers went out on the 30th January, and did not return until the 6th March.


Senator Guthrie - Cannot they take a holiday ?


Senator ST LEDGER - It was evidently a Roman holiday which they were trying to make in Brisbane. If the excuse is put forward that men may commit a breach of an industrial agreement and call it a mere holiday, what is the use of either the Act or the industrial agreement, or the award ? Honorable senators on the other side are continually told by some employers that the great weakness in the Act is that you cannot bind the men, even when industrial agreements have been converted into awards of the Court. How can they be bound at all if the interjection is correct ?


Senator Guthrie - If there is a breach of the law there is a penalty. Why have they not enforced the penalty?


Senator ST LEDGER - Section 24 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904 sets out that when the parties have made an industrial agreement it shall have the same effect as, and be deemed to be, an award ; while section 6 of the Act provides that no person or organization shall, on account of any industrial dispute, do anything in the nature of a lock-out or strike, or continue any lock-out or strike, and the penalty for so doing is a fine of £1,000. I admit at once that anybody who can call the action of the waterside workers a holiday is outside the pale of either reason or argument ; and all reason, all argument, facts themselves, are absolutely useless in answer to a remark of that kind.


Senator Rae - What about the unscrupulous person who locked out his men?


Senator ST LEDGER - That is not the question now, but the red herring policy. I think I have made it remarkably clear to the Senate that at Brisbane there was a breach of an industrial agreement. I shall wait a reply from the other side if honorable senators choose to reply, or if they are game to face the position.


Senator Rae - We will face it.


Senator ST LEDGER - To use a colloquialism, the betting is even that honorable senators opposite will not touch the point, but will evade it. I venture to say that Senator Guthrie will not give his reasons for applying to the action of the waterside workers the term " a holiday." I wish now to show how seriously the shipping communication was interfered with by the action of the strike gang.


Senator Rae - Nothing about Yankee . bounder Badger.


Senator ST LEDGER - I am not quite sure that even when I do mention Mr: Badger's position in the matter, honorable senators on the other side will venture to go very deeply into his conduct. The steamers which were delayed at Brisbane were the Warrego, the Aramac, the Arawatta, the Tinana, the Moira, the Chillagoe, the Peregrine, the Gabo, and the Cycle.


Senator Rae - Is that all?


Senator ST LEDGER - That in a pretty fair fleet. The steamers whose port of call was Brisbane, but which did not call in there owing to the strike, were the Wodonga, the Ballina, and the Innamincka. The Wyreema called in to land passengers only. The Wollowra, the Marloo, and the Buninyong called at Brisbane, but neither loaded nor discharged cargo. The Cooma and the Bombala loaded no cargo. These names are sufficiently familiar to every honorable senator to make it apparent that practically the whole of the coasting trade passing in and out of Brisbane was seriously interfered with. There was no provocation, and the interference has been justified by the Prime Minister and has received all the moral and political support which he could give to it, and in that regard he was assisted by many members of the party. I should like to hear some justification for that kind of thing. I have heard and read of speeches made outside, and in another place, but I have not yet heard any justification for such action. I have heard what I might almost call volumes of defences and excuses for it.


Senator Guthrie - Was there a man of any one of those ships who left his work?


Senator ST LEDGER - I said that the waterside workers went out on strike. The honorable senator knows as well as, if not better than, I do, that he is trying to make a wretched and miserable quibble. He knows that when the waterside workers were out on strike it would have been worse than useless to send ships with cargo or passengers to a port which was thereby held up.


Senator Blakey - Do you imply that the Governnent were responsible for that strike in any way?


Senator ST LEDGER - I think I have made it pretty clear that the Government, by reason of their attitude towards the strike generally, made themselves responsible for its continuance, and everything else.


Senator Blakey - Perhaps you will give us a list of the ships which are delayed in London while matters are under the control of a Liberal Government.


Senator ST LEDGER - Is not this a red whale, and not a red herring? What have we to do with the shipping of London? It is with our own shipping and the breach of our Conciliation and Arbitration Act that we are concerned. The actions of the strikers have been condoned. All those who were identified with the strike have received the approbation of the Prime Minister and many honorable senators on the other side.


Senator Rae - How would you have stopped the strike if you had been in power ?


Senator ST LEDGER - That is not the question.


Senator Needham - Have not the States to-day control of shipping under the Navigation laws?


Senator ST LEDGER - Not entirely.


Senator Needham - Absolutely entirely.


Senator ST LEDGER - Over the InterState trade we have superior jurisdiction. How can the Labour party possibly expect to be intrusted by the electors with a longer lease of legislative power for the protection and development of the industries of Australia? We can hope that the common sense of the people will judge our acts fairly, and punish constitutionally those acts which they think wrong. My reason for drawing prominent attention to two aspects of the strike is in order that the public may thoroughly understand what the position is. Let me now take another aspect. The general strike, in which forty-two or forty-three unions were called out, arose out of a dispute between the tramway employes and their manager, Mr. Badger, on the question of the wearing of a badge, which he refused to allow them to wear, and which they persisted in wearing.


Senator Gardiner - Is it not a fact that Badger refused to allow the men to go to work when they were wearing the badge?


Senator ST LEDGER - I do not know whether any one really denies that. I think it is an absolute fact.


Senator Gardiner - Do you approve of Mr. Badger's action in refusing to allow the men to wear the badge?


Senator ST LEDGER - That is no concern of mine. If the honorable senator chooses to approve of one party, and to blame or criticise the other party, he is welcome to do so. I am merely mentioning facts which are not disputed. The general strike arose out of a desire on the part of the men to wear their union badge, and the refusal of the tramway manager to allow them to do so. That, and several other matters, were contained in a plaint which was referred to the decision of the Arbitration Court. The reference of the whole of the matters, including the wearing of the badge, was made in October, 191 1, and they were then brought within the cognisance of the Arbitration Court. It is not, I think, too harsh to say that it is further indisputable that the men wantonly brushed aside the jurisdiction of the Court to which they had themselves appealed. "


Senator Needham - Why did not Badger wait until the Court gave its decision?


Senator ST LEDGER - Why did not all the parties wait? The whole matter was within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. There has never yet been an answer that I can regard as more than a flimsy excuse given to the question : Why did the strike or lock-out take place at all ? The excuse, or defence, whichever honorable senators like to call it, has always been that the mere refusal to permit the wearing of the badge was only a formal pretext of the declaration of war.


Senator de Largie - Nonsense !


Senator ST LEDGER - I believe that it is nonsense ; but that has been the excuse or defence put forward over and over again. It has been alleged that it was not merely because of the refusal to permit the wearing of the badge, but because of the culmination of a series of petty tyrannies and grievances that the men were driven to anticipate the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. But no sane man, who is also impartial, will justify the conduct of those who so rashly anticipated the decision of the tribunal to which they had appealed.


Senator Gardiner - Badger anticipated it by discharging men.


Senator ST LEDGER - It may be so, but there was a Court to which both parties had appealed.


Senator Needham - They had not got. to the Court at that time; the case was only pending.


Senator ST LEDGER - I fail to understand the honorable senator. It is absolutely a matter of history that the parties had appealed to the Court, and the honorable senator can go to-day to the Registrar of the Court, and find the original plaint, and learn the date on which it was filed.


Senator Needham - The matter was not before the Court.


Senator ST LEDGER - That is what was said by the honorable member for Batman when he went up to Brisbane. He said it was not in the plaint at all, and it was probably owing to that awful misstatement that the strike was started and continued. Here we have the same kind of stupidity repeated. Senator Needham tells us that the matter was not before the Court. I say that it was, because the plaint containing the complaint against the refusal to permit the wearing of the badge, and other matters, was filed in the Arbitration Court about 11th October, 1911. Once one has invoked the jurisdiction of a Court he is bound, and that is certainly the intention of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, to await its verdict and abide by it.


Senator Needham - Why did not Badger await its verdict?


Senator ST LEDGER - My honorable friends opposite must be familiar with the ordinary procedure of the Law Courts. The machinery we have set up by our Conciliation and Arbitration Act makes provision that where parties cannot agree upon a matter in dispute, it shall be referred to the Arbitration Court, and there shall be no strike or lock-out over it. I have stated exactly the position of the parties to this dispute in Brisbane. They had agreed to differ upon the matter in dispute, and had referred it to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court as provided for by the Act.


Senator Rae - Had the Court any power to put back victimized men if the judgment was in their favour?


Senator ST LEDGER - That is a question which should be directed, not to me, but to the framers of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The honorable senator may claim that the Act is deficient in that respect.


Senator Rae - It is not the Act; it is the Constitution.


Senator ST LEDGER - The Act cannot go beyond the Constitution, but we can set aside Acts and Constitutions. I say that when men have instituted Court proceedings to settle a dispute between them, which amounts to a reference to a third party, it is only common justice and common sense that the parties shall await the arbitration of the Court or individual.


Senator Givens - Why did not Badger await it? Why has the honorable senator no condemnation for him?


Senator ST LEDGER - That is a question which ought to be addressed to Mr. Badger.


Senator Givens - Why is all the honorable senator's condemnation for the workers and none for Badger?


The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator St. Ledger is entitled to address the Senate in silence.


Senator Givens - If the honorable senator would only talk sense.


Senator ST LEDGER - Such an interjection, and the fire of interjections with which my remarks have been received by honorable senators opposite, show that they thoroughly understand the point I wish to drive home to them, whether they will admit it or not. I have said that the whole matter was referred for the decision of the Arbitration Court. When the lock-out or strike occurred the defence set up for the men was that there had been a series of grievances which the company had refused to redress, and on that account they would not await the verdict of the Court.


Senator Rae - A brief for Badger !


Senator ST LEDGER - I have no hesitation in saying that Mr. Badger is a man who needs no one to hold a brief for him. Throughout Australia, and even by the strikers themselves, he is admitted to be a man who can hold his own.


Senator Rae - I should think he could when the Government was behind him.


Senator ST LEDGER - He needs no defender, nor am I his defender. I am not at the same time making any remarks derogatory to the men, except that I question their wisdom, and almost their legal right, in the circumstances, in striking when they had a Court to go to. I am not discussing the relative merits in the matter of Mr. Badger and the Tramway Company's employes.


Senator Needham - Was it a lock-out or a strike?


Senator ST LEDGER - I have told the honorable senator more than once that he can call it either, as he pleases. It does not matter what term he applies to it. I have stated the facts. The jurisdiction of the Court was invoked, and the men brushed it on one side. I say there was no justification for that.


Senator Rae - The essential point is whether it was a strike or a lock-out.


The PRESIDENT - Senator St. Ledger, in common with every other member of the Senate, has a right to be heard without a continuous fire of interjections.


Senator ST LEDGER - I wish now to illustrate this matter by analogy. A number of postal employes allege that they have many and severe grievances which the present Government have repeatedly refused to redress. The Government have set up means by which these postal employes may, if they choose, invoke the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. Suppose the employes say to the Government, " We have suffered from long continued grievances and you have refused to redress them. We shall not go to your Court. We shall not await its jurisdiction. We shall go out on strike." Could the Government, with justice, and without the most dangerous discrimination, plead that in such circumstances the employés would be justified in going out on strike? I should like to ask Senator Givens whether in such circumstances the postal employés would be justified in a general strike on the ground that they had had long continued grievances which remained unredressed?


Senator Givens - The analogy is not complete. I say that if the Government victimized the men who were making the complaints they would be justified in going out on strike.


Senator ST LEDGER - Exactly. The more we analyze the position of honorable senators opposite, in connexion with conciliation and arbitration, the more abundantly it becomes evident that they do not care one straw for the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as regards its application to private or Government employés, if, at any time, the employes say that, because of unredressed grievances, they propose to go out on strike. That is the position which honorable senators opposite are steadily maintaining, and which Senator Givens is endeavouring to emphasize. If my honorable friends choose to treat the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act in that way they must abide by the consequences. If the postal employés in the circumstances which I have mentioned decided to strike, and called out the members of forty-three unions, or of 430 unions, for the purpose of paralyzing telegraphic communication throughout Australia, and of setting up a strike committee over the community, would the Government dare to justify their action? And if they could not justify it, how can they justify the action of employés who decide to strike, notwithstanding that there is in existence an Arbitration Court to which they may appeal for redress of their grievances. Practically what the Prime Minister and his colleagues did over and over again was to say to the Brisbane tramway employes, " Well done thou good and faithful servants." In my judgment, when they supported the strikers they sowed the seeds of disloyalty and revolt within the Commonwealth Public Service itself. Now, if there is one place inwhich it is important that loyalty should be preserved it is in our Public Service, and any Government which tends to sap that loyalty is guilty of a grievous wrong.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Cameron. - Is not fit to govern.


Senator ST LEDGER - In other places I have used even stronger language than I have employed here in condemnation of the Brisbane strike, and I shall continue to do so. If, in my own political interest I meet with the same measure of success that has attended me in other campaigns in which I have made this question a prominent feature of my address, I shall be perfectly satisfied. There is just another phase of it upon which I will touch. I believe that the strike in Brisbane was an orgie of industrial chaos and fanaticism, led by the Strike Committee, which has been so aptly called a " gang." In my opinion, it was one of the most gross and unjustifiable industrial outrages ever committed in Australia. I believe that the Strike Committee, and those who supported their action, will have to pay a very heavy penalty for their misdeeds. Quite recently I have heard numerous pious perorations both inside and outside of this Parliament - perorations which teemed with expressions of goodwill towards everybody. Some of those perorations would bring tears to the eyes of crocodiles. They were crocodilian perorations addressed to brother crocodiles. The men who gave utterance to them are very largely responsible for such acts as were committed during the Brisbane strike. When I think of those acts I am reminded of a quotation, which, with a slight alteration, appears to me a very apt one -

The moving finger writes, and having writ,

Moves on. Nor all your piety nor wit

Can lure it back to cancel half a line.

Nor all your tears wipe out a deed like it.

To those whose speeches and acts have exhibited such a contrast I would recommend a short course of easy, attractive, and fruitful reading. In the first place, I would recommend them to read the New Testament history of the texts and speeches of the Pharisees; secondly, I would prescribe a close study of the characters of Mr. Chadband and Mr. Pecksniff as outlined by Dickens; and, lastly, I. would advise them to study carefully the Old Testament Decalogue, giving special attention to that commandment which begins, " Thou shalt not bear false witness." Paragraph 6 of the Governor-General's Speech reads -

The Australian Notes Act is working satisfactorily. The value of notes in circulation at the end of last month was £9,512,151, against which £4,305,215 was held in gold at the Treasury, the balance being invested in accordance with the Act.

I wish to say that the value of the notes in circulation at the end of last month was not £9,512,151. Any such assertion is an absolute misstatement, and in such a document as the Governor- General's Speech I can scarcely refrain from saying that it is wilful misstatement. There are not £9,500,000 worth of Commonwealth notes in circulation, because everybody knows that the banks hold £5,000,000 worth of these notes in their tills. When we speak of the notes in circulation we ought to mean the notes which are actually in the pockets of the people. We ought not to include those which are held by the banks.


Senator Rae - Can the honorable senator tell us the exact value of the notes in circulation upon any particular day?


Senator ST LEDGER - All we can do is to strike an average. I do not think that the Australian Notes Act is. working satisfactorily. In support of my statement I extract the following from the Banking and Insurance Record of April of the present year -

Regarding the amount actually in circulation, and that held by the banks, the statutory average of the banks' holdings for the March quarter was £5,873,416. The actual amount issued on 28th February was £10,095,160, and taking it to correspond with the banks' holdings, the amount in effective circulation was £4,221,744. Two years previously the circulation of bank notes and Queensland Treasury notes amounted to £4,567,531.

I invite honorable senators to observe that two years prior to the passing of the Australian Notes Act the circulation of the private bank notes, and the Queensland Treasury notes aggregated £4,567,000, which represents about the same amount as is represented by the Commonwealth notes at present in circulation. The same journal upon 21 st March, of the present year, published the following statement -

Australian notes issued on the 29th November,1911, £9,899,910. Deduct till money, £5,788,961; actual circulation, £4,110,949; bank notes in course of retirement, £876,425 ; total December quarter, 1911, £4,987,374.

It is rather a startling fact that the value of the notes in active circulation at the end of November of last year was only£4,110,949. At the time there were bank notes in course of retirement amounting to £876,425 and there was a total circulation - including the notes which were being retired - for the December quarter of £4,987,374. The banks' note circulation in December, 1910, was £4,291,101. If to that active bank-note circulation we add the circulation of the Queensland Treasurynotes then in the hands of the public, we have a total bank-note circulation, apart from Commonwealth Treasury notes, of £5,247,794. It is abundantly evident that the bank-notes of the Commonwealth are not more popular than the former bank notes were. Yet the Treasurer, with a sense of humour, puts it that " The Bank Notes Act is working satisfactorily." If that is the sort of satisfaction that the Treasurer likes to have a record of, let him have it ; but the statement seems to me to be little less than absurd. The fact is that the note is not as popular as we expected it to be.


Senator O'Keefe - Is the honorable senator sorry for that?


Senator ST LEDGER - What is the use of asking questions about sorrows and joys in a matter of this kind ? It is a fact to be regretted that our Commonwealth note issue has not attained the success that was anticipated for it by honorable senators opposite.


Senator Rae - There may be a conspiracy by the private banks against the note issue.


Senator ST LEDGER - No conspiracy on earth can stop the effective circulation of coin, or of paper which is as good as coin. The fact of the matter is that the people themselves have not that confidence in the note issue which was loudly attributed to them. It is curious to inquire what the reasons are that the notes are not going into circulation as we expected them to do. I have always admitted, personally, that a paper currency, soundly based upon gold, and well managed, is a great convenience to the public; and I venture to express the opinion, on my own behalf, that it is regrettable that the people of Australia use so much gold instead of using more paper currency. I believe that gold is more effective, both as a metal and as coin, when it is held in the banks than when it is in people's pockets. Australians use more gold currency than any people on earth. Senator Millen mentions to me that they also use cheques very freely ; but the important fact is that they carry gold in their pockets as coinage more freely than do people elsewhere. I wish all success to a paper currency well based and well managed. I am certainly no enemy to it. I wish that our people used paper as freely as do the people of France and the United States. In France, if you want gold, you have to buy it. When you buy it with paper, you have to pay a premium for it.


Senator Rae - What a row the honorable senator would raise if that were proposed here.


Senator ST LEDGER - The honorable senator does not know whether I should oppose such a proposal or not. I am inclined to think that legislative means might judiciously be devised which would encourage, without compelling, people to use more paper - even if it were Commonwealth paper - than they do now. But the fact remains that the much-vaunted Commonwealth note issue is not going as we expected it to go. There must be some reason for that.


Senator O'Keefe - The honorable senator's party have done their best to discredit the note issue in the country.


Senator ST LEDGER - My party can answer for their own sins. I have not disparaged a paper currency. What we have endeavoured to do is to see that any paper currency we have shall be based upon a sufficient working margin of gold. What reason can be given as to why the paper currency does not circulate as freely as we should like? I think it is to be found in the vapourings often and freely indulged in by honorable senators opposite, and even by the Prime Minister himself. The Prime Minister has described the idea that a paper currency displaces gold as " a fad," and he comforts himself with the remark that we are a gold producing nation. Now there is such a thing as Gresham's law of money, and the Prime Minister wantonly flies in the face of that law when he enunciates such an idea. Gresham's law is, in substance, that whenever you adopt a baser currency the less base currency tends to disappear. If you try to make silver the currency of a country by rushing it into circulation, gold tends to disappear. If you try to make paper do the work which gold and silver have been in the habit of doing, silver and gold tend to disappear. That law holds good everywhere, and is accepted by competent financial authorities all over the world. The Prime Minister, however, has not the slightest hesitation in flying in the face of it. I think the Prime Minister also said, as to university professors; that no doubt they could speak with authority on matters relating to science and history, and could teach the workers something as to them; but that there was one thing as to which the workers could teach the university professors, and that was as to the laws of economics. If the Prime Minister's disregard of Gresham's law is an illustration of his capacity to teach political economy to university professors, I take the liberty to doubt whether he will ever be able to make people regard him seriously. I also doubt whether, if he disregards Gresham's law in this fashion, he will be able to promote an effective note circulation in this country. There is nothing as to which people are so susceptible, and so liable to take panic - often unreasonably and unduly - as their currency. We all like to know that there is gold at the back of our paper which is forthcoming if we want it. When a remark like that which I have quoted from the Prime Minister is circulated, the common sense of the people leads them to distrust a note issue which is under the control of a man entertaining such ideas. I have also read that many honorable senators opposite have proclaimed that when they came into power every housewife would have £5 or so every week. Indeed, I think it was the Prime Minister himself who said so.


Senator Millen - A few pounds.


Senator Needham - The Prime Minister made no such statement.


Senator ST LEDGER - Some one of importance on the other side did 'make the remark.


Senator Needham - Will the honorable senator mention who made it?


Senator ST LEDGER - As far as my memory serves me, it was the Prime Minister.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator is quite right. Mr. Fisher made the statement.


Senator McGregor - He never did.


Senator ST LEDGER - I disclaim any intention of crediting or discrediting Mr. Fisher with a statement of the kind if he did not make it.


Senator Needham - Will the honorable senator mention one of our party who did ?


Senator ST LEDGER - Mr. Fisherdid.


Senator Needham - He did not. He made no such statement.


Senator ST LEDGER - The newspapers said he did.


Senator Needham - - The newspapers said nothing of the sort, and Senator St. Ledger cannot mention any of our party who said such a thing.


Senator ST LEDGER - At all events, such a thing was said. My memory of such matters is pretty good, and it was strongly impressed upon my mind that the statement was a serious one for a man in the Prime Minister's position to make.


Senator Needham - Does the honorable senator still say that Mr. Fisher made the statement ?


Senator ST LEDGER - I think so. I do not think it is right for an honorable senator to press me. I may be wrong ; we are all liable to make errors. But I think it was the Prime Minister who made such a statement. When the Commonwealth Bank was inaugurated it was an- nounced by the Minister of Home Affairs - who may be called the creator of the bank to some extent - that after the bank was instituted farmers and others would be able to go to it and get advances without being any longer sweated and ground down as they were by ordinary private banks. He claimed that commercial development through the Commonwealth Bank would be assisted by large advances at a cheap rate. If there is any honorable senator opposite who entertains the delusion that any Government can lend out money in advances of that kind at cheaper rates than can ordinary banks, I can only say that they have not read with sufficient care the history of such transactions. In nearly every case where a Government has stood behind such transactions either as mortgagor or - as has sometimes been the case when a Government has been compelled to take the position - as mortgagee, there has been a continuous record of disaster. When people are led to believe by inference that Commonwealth paper is to be flung broadcast in that way no wonder they are chary of holding Commonwealth notes to too large an extent. I think that is one of the real reasons why our paper is not going. I believe that the other side, and, with all respect to him, the Prime Minister himself, are doing more to damn our own currency than all the Opposition can say or do. I pass on to paragraph 10 of the GovernorGeneral's Speech, which reads in these terms -

Royal Commissions to inquire into and report upon the conditions existing in the Sugar, Fruit, and Pearling Industries have been appointed, and are now engaged in pursuing their inquiries.

So far as the Sugar Commission is concerned, the reverse of what that paragraph says is the exact fact, because the Sugar Commission itself is being inquired into by the Law Courts, and promises to be the subject of inquiry by them for a long time to come. It does not seem to be able to get away to inquire into anything. The tomb, or the bog, into which it has got was predicted by this side. Its composition was such as to almost force that result. The whole Commission has allowed itself to be dragged into a Serbonian bog of legal technicalities and inquiries by the Law Courts. It has so dragged itself along, and allowed itself to become a sort of battledore and shuttlecock affair that what

Daniel O'Connell said of the Dublin Corporation may be pretty well applied : Tt has not now' a body worth kicking nor a soul to be damned.


Senator Needham - Do you lay that at the door of this Government?


Senator ST LEDGER - My honorable friends almost invited that result. I concur absolutely with the criticism of my leader,- that its composition was so partisan that the desire seemed to be to appoint a Commission which would find a verdict in spite of the evidence. I desire now to refer to another administrative blunder, and a grave one, indeed. It is not like the other blunders to which I have already referred, partaking much of the nature of a crime, but it is a grievous blunder, and that is the abandonment of the Vancouver mail service. The Senate is aware that this was a service in which the people of New South Wales and Queensland, especially the latter State, and probably, if you like, the whole of the electors in the eastern States, were very much interested. It is almost a matter of history that, time and again, when negotiations for the continuance of the service were proceeding, we were assured that certainly the interests of Queensland would be conserved, that the people of that State could rely upon the Government seeing that full justice was done to them; but we have been grievously disappointed. Some time last year. I happened to receive certain information which was of a more or less confidential nature, and authoritative, and, apart from that, it had, in the long run, the superior merit of being absolutely correct. It was to the effect that the Canadian Government were tired of the prolonged negotiations which they were forced into with the Commonwealth Government, and had practically sent an ultimatum to the latter body to make up their mind and say whether or not they would give a subsidy for the Vancouver service. I believe that the amount was stated. The Government knew, as some of us knew privately, that it was a matter of £60,000 odd. Negotiations were prolonged. We were called in by Mr. Thomas, the Postmaster-General, time and again. On one occasion, perhaps on more than one occasion, he gave us information. Some of it was confidential, and, of course, the confidence was respected. The sum and substance of these conferences was that we were always told that we could rest assured that Queensland was not going to be left out, and that her interests would be attended to. I ventured to throw out, and I believe it is recorded in Hansard, a sort of hint that we were being deceived ; and once, at a deputation, when the matter under discussion was whether this service should be continued on the deep blue sea or should go to the care of His Satanic Majesty, I said that it was going to the care of His Satanic Majesty. It has gone there.


Senator Rae - Has it?


Senator ST LEDGER - Or let us hope to a better place. ' At any rate, it is not on the deep blue sea, as it ought to have been. I think we have sufficient reason to say that the late Postmaster-General, and, to some extent, the Prime Minister, did not deal fairly and openly with the people of Queensland. The share which the Commonwealth was asked to contribute to the service was known to the Government, and it was only a question of terms. I believe the amount at issue was £60,000 odd. The Government of the day played with us - I use the word advisedly - and left us with the belief that almost anything would happen but the abandonment of this service. Yet it has disappeared. I should like to have an explanation from the Government as to why, in the face of repeated professions made both inside and outside Parliament, that the interests of Queensland and New South Wales would be safeguarded, this service has disappeared? If it was only a matter of finding £60,000, may. I mention that the Government have a surplus of over £2,000,000. They professed to be earnestly desirous of developing our trade in the Pacific ; and, not.withstanding that we had a service to Vancouver, they said, in effect, that, for the sake of £60,000, that service had to be abandoned. I take this opportunity of pointing out what has been pointed out to us by far more competent authorities - that the trade of the Pacific ought to be ours, and that we ought to be a dominant, or, at any rate, a prominent factor in the trade, and that the trade is worth subsidizing to some extent. The Queensland Government, and, subsequently, the New South Wales Government, for years paid a very large amount as compared with the direct return, and paid it when they could barely spare it, in the hope of future developments taking place. We had a right to expect that the Government, which at the time the renewal of the Vancouver service was asked tor had an overflowing Treasury, would have made good their word to the people ot Queensland. The subsidy which is given by Germany, France, and, I believe, by Holland, for the trade of the Pacific and the South Seas is very much greater. I believe that the Governments of those countries give, on the average, 6s. or 7s. per ton more than the British Government give for subsidies to shipping, and they also give a great deal more than the Commonwealth Government or any Government in Australia have ever given by way of subsidies to steam-ships to develop the trade of the Pacific. Again, the opening of the Panama Canal will revolutionize a good many of our trade communications, lt is of paramount importance to the Commonwealth that we should make a bid, in order to get the trade of the Pacific. Should China awake and subsidize steam-ships as Japan is doing, and the trade of the Pacific, or a large proportion of it get into their hands, it will be difficult for us to retrieve our position. Every day that we are out of the Pacific, especially towards Vancouver and the Panama, will make it more difficult to get the trade back and hold it in the face of increasing competition. It is of great industrial importance that we should have communication with Canada and the United States, and, through the Panama canal, with the eastern coast. Yet the Commonwealth Government, with millions of money to spare, allowed the Vancouver service to disappear, giving us no indication as to whether they would make any attempt to originate such a service or give to Queensland and New South Wales, and to the eastern States generally, the equivalent of the service which they had formerly enjoyed. This action on the part of the Government is a blunder. It is an injustice, especially to Queensland. It is not at all consistent with their oft- repeated professions to the people of Queensland. To say that this service, continued by the same route, would not ultimately pay its way is to furnish evidence of a failure to realize the possibilities of future trade in the PaCcific. Furthermore, we are always preaching reciprocity of trade with New Zealand and Canada, and, possibly, with the United States. Are these merely pious professions? What is the good of the Government talking about a desire to develop trade between countries by fiscal preferences, and then, in the next breath, so to speak, blowing off the only service we had between two great Dominions in the Em- pire? One thing is entirely inconsistent with the other. I have so often had occasion to use the word " pharisaical " that probably it will bore the Senate if I use it again; but I will put it as absolutely inconsistent with that pious profession of a desire to realize the importance of preferential trade and the development of the trade of the Pacific. I feel quite confident that the Commonwealth Government can now infinitely better afford to give £60,000 for the establishment of a new and important steam service between Australia and Vancouver than Queensland and New South Wales could offer to find the £23,000 or £25,000 per annum which they paid from 1893 up to 1905.


Senator Guthrie - And never developed any trade worth speaking of.


Senator ST LEDGER - If this had been a South Australian service nothing would have exceeded the glow of the picture which my honorable friend would have painted as to the possibilities of development for South Australia in the Northern Territory. Had it been a subsidized service from Port Adelaide to Port Darwin how eloquently the honorable senator would have described its potentialities.


Senator Guthrie - We have not the cheek to ask for it.


Senator ST LEDGER - When I refer to a service from the eastern coast which brought the Commonwealth into touch with a far away Dominion, Senator Guthrie has nothing but contempt for it. The honorable senator must be aware that every nation is now beginning to compete for the Pacific trade. It is worth while paying something to secure it, and we should have a share in it. If we do not secure it shortly we shall not be likely to get it at all. If the Government do not take immediate steps to reinstate the Vancouver service, or provide an equivalent for it, we shall find that the commercial community, not merely of Queensland, but of the whole of the eastern States, will demand that something shall be done in this direction, or that the Government shall be turned out of office. I propose to refer briefly now to the illusions of honorable members opposite as to the operation of the Federal land tax. In paragraph 9 of the Governor-General's Speech I find the statement -

Although there has been a very marked increase in the volume of oversea immigration to which the land tax and general policy of my Advisers has largely contributed- and so on. I should like to have been able to see the face of the author of the Speech when that paragraph was being written. It is beyond dispute that land is no cheaper to-day in Australia than it was before the imposition of the land tax. On the contrary, everywhere we go we find evidence of a rise in the value of lands whether they are bought privately or through some State agency. Setting aside the question of whether it has had the effect of breaking up large estates, or of promoting settlement - and I do not believe that it has had any material effect in either direction - the fact is that two-thirds of the land tax is being paid by the workers of Australia. They now know what it is worth to them. They have learned that they were deceived. The artisans of our cities have had the Federal land tax passed on to their backs. There are a hundred workers for every single wealthy landowner who are to-day bearing the burden of this tax.


Senator Blakey - Owing to the harpies amongst the landlords.


Senator ST LEDGER - Nonsense! I make these allusions to the Federal land tax for the purpose of drawing attention to what might be called a general law of finance, which seems never' to have been heard of by the other side, or, if heard of, has been entirely disregarded by them. Every attempt made to levy taxation upon a special class in a community must fail, because, in spite of all legislative provisions, taxation is more or less evenly distributed over the whole community. Just as water will find its own level, so every kind of tax - income tax, graduated or otherwise ; land tax, graduated or otherwise ; and kindred taxes - seems, by the operation of an economic law, to become evenly distributed. One of the great reasons which induced the workers,, and the farmers also, I admit, to support the Federal land tax, was that they were invited to believe that it would fall as a special tax upon a certain class in the community. Deluded by their false leaders, and their false economics, they gave an overwhelming support to the proposal on that ground. It is now evident that at least the farmers -throughout Australia have realized, although, perhaps, they could not express it as I have done, the working of the economic law to which I have referred.


Senator Millen - It was the political aspect of the tax which they were thinking of.


Senator ST LEDGER - It was a fine piece of political workmanship in more senses than one by which the workers and the farmers were deluded. The workers of Australia, although they might be unable to .express it in the language of a university professor, have also realized that the burden of this taxation has'1 largely fallen upon their shoulders. On this account demands are being made upon the Labour Governments for the establishment of tenements of which the State shall be the landlord. The last stage of the matter is likely to be worse than the first, and the artisan class are likely to feel the burden of such taxation most heavily.


Senator Rae - They ultimately have to carry every tax.


Senator ST LEDGER - If that be so, how is it that we so often hear of .exemptions in Labour programmes of 'taxation? It is a delusion to fancy that there is any exemption, or that it is possible to materially alter the incidence of taxation of this kind, I think that the workers of Australia, and some of the farmers, have deserved the object lesson which they have been given. They have found out that it is a dangerous thing to tinker with taxation 'schemes in the belief that certain taxes will be borne only by a special class. I conclude with the hope with which the Governor- General's Speech concluded, namely, that our deliberations will be conducive to the welfare of -the country. I believe that this criticism, and criticism of a similar character which has been directed against the Government, will be of benefit to the country. The misfortunes we have suffered, especially in the industrial arena, show what must follow attempts at class legislation. The less we have of the practice of setting class against class the better it will be for the welfare of the community. I make these remarks with special reference to the Government because they have just emerged from one of the most unfortunate, and, as regards the Strike Committee, one of the most discreditable exhibitions of class hatred in the arena of industry that we ever had in Australia. I regret that instead of acting as arbitrators in the matter, and as instruments of conciliation and pacification, the Government adopted the role of partisans, and intensified the class strife which it was their duty, as it is the duty of every member of this Parliament, to endeavour to lessen in every way.







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