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Thursday, 15 October 1914

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Senator MAUGHAN (Queensland) . - I take advantage of the opportunity to offer you, Mr. President, my personal congratulations upon your elevation to the high office you now hold. I congratulate also the mover and seconder of the Address» - «in» - «Reply» upon the excellence of their speeches, and upon the fact that, although' new members of the Senate, they have given evidence of useful service in the future. Speaking as a comparatively new man myself, I am aware that, although one may have graduated in other spheres of usefulness in a State Parliament, there is always a feeling of newness upon entering for the first time a National Parliament of this character. Senator Gould, who has just treated us to a lucid speech on the AddressinReply, and the situation generally, has made special reference to many problems that await solution, and particularly to the financial problem con fronting us. Most honorable senators willagree that his remarks on the latter subject are answered by paragraph 5 of the GovernorGeneral's Speech, in which it is stated that- Financial proposals to meet the exceptional conditions arising out of the war, and the consequent dislocation of trade and commerce, are under consideration by my Advisers, and will shortly be laid before you.

Senator Gouldknows, as we all do, that this is not the time or place for the Government to present their financial proposals. They will come before us in due course, and probably within a very few days we shall have the pleasure of listening to one of the most important and historic Budget speeches ever presented to any Parliament in this continent. Although it is true that the great war question almost overshadows everything else at the present time, as a National Parliament we are called upon to consider problems other than those arising out of the war. As a newly-elected Parliament, sent here by the electors on clearly defined issues, it is our bounden duty to give effect as soon as possible to the policy we were returned to support, and not even the war, with all its dreadful consequences, must deter us from doingour duty in that regard. I quite understand that a large proportion of the session must be taken up with matters directly arising out of the war. At the same time, there are quite* a number of matters coming within the purview of domestic legislation which must receive our close attention. I am pleased to see in the policy speech of the Government that legislation is promised on many phases of social, commercial and domestic policy. I have 'been particularly pleased to note the reference to the proposals to provide adequate consideration for the widows and orphans of Australian people. That must appeal to every member of the Senate, irrespective of his political creed. As one associated with the Parliament of a State for many years, and my experience may be regarded as common to most of those who have been members of State Parliaments, I say that the States in the past have not risen to the occasion in this respect.

Senator Bakhap - Some of the States in a quiet way make very considerable provision for widows and orphans.

Senator MAUGHAN - I am aware of the fact that something is done; but, in my opinion, what has been done has been by no means adequate. I speak for the State of Queensland, leaving honorable senators representing other States to speak for what has been done in them. The inclusion in the policy speech of such a humanitarian proposal indicates the intention of the Government to look after the widows and orphans of the community. It is not new to find this branch of domestic legislation referred to in a policy speech. For some years past the Imperial Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Right Honorable Lloyd George, has submitted in Budget speeches delivered in the House of Commons some very remarkable proposals for domestic legislation. It is about time that this Parliament should realize its responsibilities in this connexion. One of the most important questions we can discuss on the AddressinReply is that of defence, and the very important land question raised by my honorable colleague and friend, Senator Stewart. In my opinion, these questions are interwoven one with the other. In this connexion, I cordially indorse the remarks of my colleague, Senator Stewart, and I know that he has given a good deal ' of attention to the matter, both in the Queensland Parliament and in this Chamber. It is idle for men, either inside or outside of the Commonwealth Parliament, to advocate an efficient system of defence unless they are prepared to evidence in some practical way that they mean business. In Queensland we have a State which is bigger than France, Germany, and Portugal combined, and yet it has a population only equal to that of a second-class city in the "United Kingdom. Everybody admits that the State which I have the' honour to represent is possessed of potential resources. It is capable of supporting millions of people, and, were it not for the cursed system of land monopoly, I do not hesitate to say that to-day, instead of boasting a population of 700,000, it would have a population of, at least, a million. Its present position is due to the fact that past Governments failed to realize that its resources would be better developed by a large than by a small population.

Senator Bakhap - Have not many Queensland Administrations encouraged immigration ?

Senator MAUGHAN - They have. But, unfortunately, like most of the efforts made by the Tory Governments, the immigrants found upon their arrival that there was no land available for them to settle upon. I admit that the immigration question is one of the most important that we can discuss, and, with Senator Stewart, I firmly believe that it should demand at the hands of this Parliament greater attention than it has hitherto received. No doubt it will be given that consideration when our legislators realize that the land must be brought to the people, and not the people to the land. You, sir, know, that owing to Queensland being the nearest State to the great Eastern Powers, it is necessarily the most vulnerable point of the Commonwealth. It is essential, therefore, that it should be speedily developed and settled. How is that to be done when enormous areas of land are owned by private monopolists? The States have signally failed to cope with land settlement. Senator Bakhap said' yesterday that the best way to deal with the question of land settlement was by means of the repurchase system. He thinks that it would be a much sounder proposition to repurchase land than to promote closer settlement by means of the land tax. I may tell him that in Queensland alone £1,700,000 or £1,800,000 has been expended in re-purchasing estates, and, in connexion with many of those estates, the settlers will never see their title deeds. The purchase price was so exorbitant that during the recent election campaign quite a number of settlers on the Darling Downs appealed to the Minister of Lands for an extension of time to enable them to meet their obligations.

Senator Bakhap - Were they not willing to purchase the land at the price fixed?

Senator MAUGHAN - They were at first, but they have since discovered that they were "let in." My chief object in rising was to connect' the question of defence with that of land settlement. We cannot effectively deal with the former unless we effectively deal with the latter. Of course, some honorable senators will say that land settlement is purely a State matter. As Senator Stewart knows, we fought this matter in the Queensland Parliament in the " nineties," but I am sorry to say that we made very little progress. The politicians of that time were hand in glove with the land speculators and monopolists, with the result that to-day Queensland possesses a population of only 700,000, whilst the disease of earth hunger there is rampant. I shall certainly give my warm support to any proposal which will have the effect of bursting up large estates by means of the land tax.

Senator Mullan - And if such a scheme is not introduced the honorable senator will want to know the reason why?

Senator MAUGHAN - Yes.

Senator Bakhap - Is the honorable senator in accord with Senator Stewart, who declares that the tax has been ineffective?

Senator MAUGHAN - I do not say that it has been ineffective; but I do say that it has not proved as efficacious as I had anticipated in speedily bursting up large estates. I thought that there would have been a very much better result.

Senator Stewart - The big estates have not been burst up.

Senator MAUGHAN - That is so. However, we shall probably be afforded an opportunity of dealing with this question at a later stage of the session. In regard to the subject of defence, I wish briefly to call attention to that portion of the Governor-General's Speech which refers to the loss of the submarine AE1, and of its gallant crew, which we all deeply deplore. When I mentioned this matter the other day, I was reminded that it would be better if nothing were said on the floor of the Senate in regard to the building of another submarine to take the place of the one which has been lost. I should like to know what is going to be the rule concerning questionsof this kind. We have been told what is to be the naval programme of Great Britain for the year. We have been assured that the British Navy is to be increased within the next twelve months by a large number of first class ships and destroyers. That was the information vouchsafed by the responsible Minister in the House of Commons, the actual figures being given. Yet when I ventured to ask whether our lost submarine was to be replaced, I was told that I ought not to raise the question. That is the one defect which I observe m the Governor-General's Speech. It contains no outline of the naval programme for the year. I am quite aware of the fact that the Minister of Defence may not be altogether responsible for taking up the attitude which he has taken up in this, connexion, but I do not see why it is necessary to keep secret all matters involving the development of our naval programme. If that policy is to be pursued, it will cause great uneasiness to the Australian people who, I think, should be taken, into the confidence of the Government.

Senator Gardiner - Likewise the German people.

Senator MAUGHAN - Nothing of the sort. Seeing that we know what is to be the naval programme of Great Britain during the coming year, we ought surely to be told what is going on in Australia. There should also have been some reference in the Vice-Regal utterance to the establishment of Naval Bases around our coast. Probably this matter will be dealt with in the Budge?. Only the other day I read an article in the Argus dealing with the operations which are in progress at Cockburn Sound, and also with the Naval Base at Westernport. But there are other places in the Commonwealth which were recommended by Admiral Henderson as suitable sites for Naval Bases. I should like to know what is the position at.

Thursday Island which Admiral Henderson recommended as a fleet secondary base and also as a destroyer base. Similarly, under his scheme Townsville was to be a destroyer sub-base, and Brisbane a destroyer base and also a submarine base. There were many other places in New South Wales, Tasmania, and Western Australia which were indicated as being suitable for Naval Bases. While I know it is necessary to preserve absolute secrecy in regard to many matters connected with naval and military strategy, it would, I think, impart a tremendous element' of confidence to our people if they were told exactly what, is to be the naval programme of the immediate future. It was a very good thing for the Commonwealth that the Labour Government, who were in office from 1910 to 1913, realized their national responsibilities. What would have happened so far as Australia and certain Possessions in the Pacific are concerned had it not been for the establishment of our Australian naval unit I do not know. Although many of our opponents would not give our party credit for the work they did in that connexion, the records prove conclusively that had it not been for the action of the Labour Government during the years they were in power the most terrible things might have happened at some parts of our coast-line. Certainly we should not be in the happy position to-day of being practically immune from bombardment by German raiders. There is one matter which I should be glad if the Minister who i§ watching the debate at present, will bring specially under the notice of the Minister of Defence. I have been in close contact of late with quite a number of captains and officers on various coasting ships. These men are not attached to either the military or the naval arm, but many of them entertain the idea that as sailors they might be of great use to the Commonwealth Naval Department if they were permitted to go through a brief course of drill every year uT gunnery. They might, perhaps, with an alteration of the Naval Defence Act, become officers of the Royal Naval Reserve. There are hundreds of these men all round Australia skilled in navigation and many having been drilled. They would be invaluable to the nation in time of stress, and especially in time of war, if associated with our defence scheme, but they are made no use of at present. The only responsibility they now 'have is to look after freight and passengers. These men, in case of trouble, would simply be rushed by the Navy Department. I believe in taking time by the forelock, and if it were possible for the Department to get. in touch with' them, and utilize their services when we are at war, it would be a great thing. I have been through the mill myself, and, speaking as an old sailor, and one who was associated with the early stages of the Queensland Naval Brigade, I know it would be a good thing for Australia if every opportunity were given to our mercantile marine officers to join the Royal Australian Reserve. With regard to the question of Protection, I was glad to hear the views given expression to by at least two honorable senators sitting on the Opposition front bench. In this connexion it is most interesting to note the wonderful change that has come o'er the scene in the case of the Sydney Morning Herald, one of the oldest newspapers in Australia. Both that and the Sydney Daily Telegraph have in years gone by been opposed to the very name of Protection, but they now realize, especially in view of the events of the war, that this must be made a selfcontained* nation, and that the sooner our raw material is utilized here, our manufactures tremendously increased, and work found in our factories for thousands of our young people, the better it will be for us all. I realize, as a practical man, that for many years ' there will be quite a number of things that we shall have to import. It will be long, for instance, before we can organize on proper lines an industry for the production of cotton goods. I should be very sorry to see a cotton industry organized in tropical Queensland except under white labour conditions. There are people who would institute a cotton industry to-morrow if they were allowed to work it by cheap coloured labour, but the great b,ilk of the Australian people are against that policy, and I trust they always will be. If we are to have effective Protection it will mean the protection, not only of our manufacturers, but of our workers. We remember the wars that used to rage around the old fiscal flags in years gone by. Queensland bad a hybrid Tariff, New South "Wales a Free Trade one, Victoria a 25 per cent. Tariff, South Australia a half-and-half business, and Western Australia was almost Free Trade in pre-Federation days; but whether they were Free Trade or Protectionist States, low wages and sweating conditions existed. We want to avoid that sort of thing under an effective Protective Tariff, and this can be done by legislation. Some people say it will be impossible to do it; but we have done some wonderful things in Australia by legislation. I remember that when, in the nineties, the Labour members in the Queensland Parliament advocated old-age pensions, the Tory Ministers used to ask, " Where are you going to get the money from ? " and cries of "Dangerous Socialism" were hurled across the chamber.

Senator Bakhap - What was the matter with those old Tories that they provided the machinery to grant old-age pensions in the Federal Constitution?

Senator MAUGHAN - They realized that a Constitution without some provision of the kind incorporated in it would simply rouse the wrathful indignation of the people. I give men like Sir Samuel Griffith, Mr. Kingston, Mr. B.R. Wise, Sir William Lyne, and Mr. J. H. Howe credit for having the sense to see ahead, and for understanding the growing democratic sentiments of the people. If it had not been for men of that class at the Convention, I believe that we should not have had such liberal provisions in the Constitution. They realized that the people would not submit to a Tory Constitution; and, although I do not admit that the instrument is perfect, it represents a great step forward; and, in that respect, I am glad indeed to think that the result of the recent election has justified the attitude taken up by the Senate in the last Parliament. It was said by the Fusion party that this was to be a Senate fight. We have had a double dissolution and a Senate fight. I am not going to " throw off " at the other side, because I recognise that they represent, just as we do, a very large number of people; but the majority have decided that the Senate was perfectly justified in its attitude. They decided that it was absolutely justified in urging that' the referenda proposals should be again put before the people for adoption or rejection, and they also showed that, in their opinion, the Senate must be a democratic, and not a Tory, body. Consequently, they did us the honour to return our party in even greater strength, and we are here to-day with a total of thirtyone members opposed to a party of five. This, I suppose, constitutes a record for the world for an election by the mass vote of the people. As one of my colleagues has put it, this is a mandate to the Labour party to go ahead. We have a programme and a policy, and it is our duty not to mark time, but to go right forward. I congratulate the Government on wasting no time in calling Parliament together, because, as Mr. Fisher pointed out some time ago, we have a lot of leeway to make up, seeing that during the fourteen or fifteen years of the existence of the Commonwealth the Labour party has been in power for only three or four years, and there is a lot of work to do. We have to do a lot of work that the State Parliaments will not do, and we are, consequently, saddled with a greater responsibility than would otherwise be the case if the State Parliaments rose to the occasion.

Senator Stewart - Some cannot, owing to their Legislative Councils.

Senator MAUGHAN - That is so; and this reminds me that there are in this Parliament to-day men, notably Sir William Irvine, who would be only too glad to see the Senate a nominee body like the Legislative Councils of Queensland, New South Wales, and some other States. Thank God it is not a nominee, but an elective, House, and I trust it will always remain so. In order to have the figures incorporated in Hansard, I wish to remind honorable senators that, since the establishment of Federation, the Labour party has made gradual progress in the Senate. In 1901 it had only eight members in this Chamber out of thirty-six; in 1903, it had fourteen; in 1906, fifteen; in 1910, twenty-three; in 1913, twenty-nine; and in 1914, thirty-one. That gradual progress represents the mandate of the people, and, while we should be very sorry to miss Senator Bakhap and his friends, I should not be at all surprised if, at the next appeal to the country, we practically monopolized the whole Senate.

Senator SENIOR(South Australia) £4.37]. - I join in congratulating you, Mr. President, on occupying your present position. I am pleased to see you there. Just as I was pleased to recognise your ability and impartiality last session, so I have every confidence that this session the same qualities will guide your actions. I join, also, in congratulating the mover and the seconder of the «Address» - «in» - «Reply , and welcome them to the Senate. " I believe they will be an acquisition in the debates on the important matters that have been sketched out for us. I hope they will have a long period of usefulness here, and that our associations will be as pleasant as their speeches predicate. After witnessing the strenuous opposition put up by Senator Gould to our party last session, I was astonished to hear him say to-day that he was very largely in accord with the -present Government. It seemed to me, however, that he thought the attitude of the Government should be a restful and quiet one, on the ground that, because the drums were beating and the cannons roaring in the Old Land, we in Australia ought to be dumb. His conception of the attitude of the Government seemed to be that it should be entirely pacific. According to him, also, we in this Chamber ought not to disturb Ministers in their desire to find the best way out of the present difficulty, or to disturb the people themselves. In that sense, I think, the honorable senator has credited Parliament with the possession of too great powers. I do not think that we will do either one or the other even if we go on with the programme. Touching on the war, it is deeply to be regretted that we are involved in a conflict which is not likely to terminate for some months, and which, perhaps, may extend for years. However, we have this consciousness, that it is not of our seeking. We have the consciousness that England has been embroiled in the war in a way that is honorable to the nation, and that when the history of it comes to be written the story of her part will redound to her credit. I feel that as Englishmen we have been, perhaps, slow in the matter of defence, but not too slow. Knowing what war is, we have not been anxious to hurry into the battle, but being there we shall be just as slow to leave. I am confident that, however dark the prospect may seem at times, the British nation will come out of the conflict uppermost. But it is not only for that reason that I feel that our position in Australia is, perhaps, far more serious than on the surface it may seem to be. Wrapped up in this conflict is our very existence, because whatever we may think of the position between the two principal nations in conflict, there is not the remotest doubt in my mind that British rule exceeds all other rule. There may be at times many things with which we as Britishers have occasion to find fault. But when we make an analysis we always feel that there is no other rule which we would like to be under. I believe that that feeling is indorsed by every foreigner who comes to live under the British Flag. I know that many of our German friends would not forsake Australia even to go back to the old Fatherland. We can scarcely blame these men if their sentiment and their sympathy are with the land of their birth. Ours is just the same. We cannot forget that the early training of these men was in Germany, and that their associations, friendships, and relationships are there. We must not forget that this sentiment is almost as strong, if not as strong, as any other sentiment which governs men in life. Nor must we forget that any hasty words dropping from the lips of these residents are, after all, only the echo of the old time and the old life which they have left behind. I think that, as a general rule, the German residents in Australia are true to the' British Throne, and I speak from experience of these men. There may be, of course, odd individuals who are not attached to the Throne, but these exceptions, I think, prove the general rule. Perhaps it is too early to ask a question of the Ministers, but I should have liked to hear a declaration as to what attitude they intend to take up with regard to the establishment of Naval Bases, especially in South Australia. There we are severely struck with a drought, and we have to-day a larger number of unemployed than has been seen in the State for the last four decades. The position is a very serious one, because we have not only the calamity of the shadow of war over us, but we also have the calamity of the drought, which is affecting us far more seriously at present than is the war itself. Senator Gould in his speech dealt with the question of the finances. Possibly a financial man like the honorable senator may grasp the situation more clearly than I do, but it does seem strange to me that within twelve months from the close of i period of unequalled prosperity we should be face to face with a difficulty, not of food, but of finance. We are not yet faced in Australia, I am pleased to say, with the difficulty of how our people shall be fed, nor do I think that that difficulty will confront us, but we are faced with a position in which the question is asked, " What are we to do in the matter of finance?" As I listened to the observations of Senator Gould, I thought it was rather peculiar that, although during the last eight or ten years Australia experienced most bountiful harvests,, trade was more prosperous than it was in any preceding period, and the population increased, yet in the last twelve months we have been brought face to face with a difficulty, and the question is: How is this Parliament to meet the terrible calamity which is upon us? These things set one thinking, and as one begins to wonder what stops may be best to recommend, one looks, naturally to those who have the data at hand to explain, if possible, their ideas on the situation. I have here a few figures dealing with the financial question, and which are drawn from the balancesheets of the Associated Banks in Australia. These figures may throw a sidelight on the question of how we ought to deal with the finances of the Commonwealth, and of where we should look for help. To our financial institutions, I think, Ave may look to get an idea as to what the real stability of Australia is. Perhaps, without looking carefully into this matter, it may be felt that "the circumstances which surround us at the pre-' sent time are such as to cause us to be downhearted, but, as we scan the figures hidden in the balance-sheets of the banks, I think that we will come to an entirely different conclusion. In Australasia there are twenty-two banking institutions, with paid-up capital amounting to £20,245,530, and reserves amounting to £13,901,837, making a grand total of £34,147,367. What else do we find from the balance-sheets? The dividends for the last half-year amounted to £1,143,119, averaging 9 per cent, for the twentytwobanks. These figures, I think, clearly indicate that with a mere handful of people in Australia we should not be up against such a great difficulty as we seem to be. The figures undoubtedly are reliable, and there ought to be sufficient funded capital in the banks to guarantee us against anything like panic legislation, or a feeling of despondency. The total deposits in the twenty-two institutions amount to £202,591,3S0. The Senate will agree with me, I think, that the figures are illuminative as regards the present position. Senator Gould, if he was acquainted with the figures I have quoted, had no cause to deliver such a direful and gloomy speech as he did this afternoon.

Senator Bakhap - And all that financial stability has beau achieved under the poor old Tory regime.

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