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Thursday, 28 May 1914


Senator McCOLL - It has been said. Every penny of that money has been collected. We collected £150,000 which was outstanding owing to the ineffective legislation enacted at the instance of the Fisher Government. We had the smallpox epidemic to cope with immediately after coming into office, and I think that the Prime Minister deserves every credit for the firm stand he took on that occasion in quarantining his own city. We have appointed a Director of Lighthouses and part of his staff. We have taken over 118 existing lights; arranged for the erection of 74 new lights during the next six years, 13 of which are now under way.


Senator Turley - You have taken over lights, and the Act has not yet been proclaimed I


Senator McCOLL - In connexion with the Navigation Act regulations have been framed, and delegates appointed to attend the International Conference on safety at sea. Just a few words in regard to the two test Bills. I do not intend to say much about them, because I hope that one of them will be before us at an early date. But, in one breath, we have been told by my honorable friends opposite that the Government Preference Prohibition Bill is too paltry to consider, whilst iri the next we have been assured that it is important enough to block the whole business of the country. Which of these two statements is correct? What question was responsible for the turnover of thirteen seats at the last election?


Senator Pearce - The honorable senator said that it was the Tariff.


Senator McCOLL - If any questions were responsible for the turnover of those thirteen seats, they were, preference to unionists in the Government service and the abolition of the postal vote. The public were shocked by the fact that public money should be spent in Government employment only to benefit a certain class. Nothing shocked the people more than that, and nothing contributed more to the loss of those thirteen seats by the Labour party than it did. There has been an attempt to make it appear that the Government are opposed to all combinations of workers. As a matter of fact, we are not. We recognise that there must be combinations. But those combinations should be on proper lines. The very fact that the Arbitration Court had granted preference to unionists only in one instance - n very exceptional one - ought to have been a warning to the late Government not to grant such a preference. The present Government are in favour of unions, but we are not in favour of the tyranny which would deprive men of work and women and children of their bread, because of their refusal to hold certain political views. The abolition of the postal vote was also a factor in the defeat of my honorable friends opposite at the last election. The 30,000 persons who were thus deprived of their birth-right were indignant about it. The talk of corruption and wrong-doing is absurd. Only one case has been cited in this connexion - a case in the western district of this State - and it has done duty so long that its influence has worn out. In conclusion, I wish to say that the record of the Government administratively cannot be seriously challenged. Its legislative record is not so good, but that is not the fault of Ministers. It is the fault of those who have attempted too successfully to block the business of the country. For fully three months after this Parliament met it was faced in another Chamber with the bitterest opposition. Not until patience had been exhausted on the day on which the funeral of an ex-member was to take place, when an attempt was made to take the business out of the hands of the Government, was a determination arrived at to apply the closure. At that time the people were beginning to inquire, "When is Mr. Cook going to take some action?" It is not the fault of the Go vernment that more legislation has not been enacted, but of those who have at: tempted to block the transaction of public business. What they accomplished last session they have endeavoured to accomplish this. The Government can go to the country with a clean record, and with the knowledge that they have done their best in administration and legislation.







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