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Wednesday, 19 June 1912

Senator GARDINER (New ' South Wales) . - I move -

That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General's Opening Speech be agreed to : -

To His Excellency the Governor-General -

May it please Your Excellency -

We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to Our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

In moving the adoption of the AddressinReply to the Governor-General's Speech, I may take the opportunity of saying that the motion which I now submit will, I am confident, meet with the most hearty accord from every honorable senator opposite, as well as from the members of the party to which I belong. To my mind it marks one of the characteristics of our parliamentary methods that, upon a motion of this character, as to which there is common agreement, we are likely to have a most vigorous debate, full of keen criticism, at all events from honorable senators opposite. That criticism will be directed, not only to the principles which have actuated the present Government, but also to their administration during the two years that they have been in office.

Senator Millen - We shall endeavour to meet the honorable senator's require1 ments in that regard.

Senator GARDINER - I say franki)^ as one of the supporters of this Government, that we shrink from no criticism. 1 recognise that Parliament is a place in which vigorous criticism of the action of any Government is appropriate; but I venture to say that in respect of their policy and administration the. present Government can challenge criticism with greater confidence than could any Government that has ever held office in Australia. Not only have they attempted, and in many instances carried to a successful issue, many projects which have met with the most-*-I was going to say bitter, but I . prefer to say strenuous opposition - but they have carried them into effect in a manner-' which would not have been possible had any other than this Government been in office. That has been rendered possible by reason of the fact that the Government have had such a strong following in both Houses of the Legislature, and also by reason of the splendid support which has been accorded to them from one end of Australia to the other. As far as projected new legislation is concerned, there is much in the GovernorGeneral's Speech to occupy our attention for many months to come. I am of opinion that the first essential of successful government is the maintenance in office of a set of men who will be able to manage affairs and carry out a policy in the interest of the people of the country ; and during the time that I have had the privilege of occupying a seat in the Commonwealth Legislature - and this is the first time during a reasonably long parliamentary career that I have ever been so satis- factorily situated - I have had the pleasure of knowing that I was supporting a Government in office that was not only prepared to administer the affairs of this country in the interests of the people, but also to carry out quickly and effectively the practical legislation that the party to which I belong has been striving for a great many years to accomplish. Turning to some of the points mentioned in the Speech, we may join with His Excellency in congratulating the whole Commonwealth upon the splendid rains that have given us an assurance of prosperity for some time ahead. I must, however, deprecate the attempts that have been made in the press, and by many members of the public, to exaggerate the fact that there has been a short period without rain by describing it as a drought. People at a distance who are not acquainted with the power of recuperation possessed by the soil of this country read these descriptions of drought and form the opinion that Australia is in a serious condition. I say that it is a mistake to allow the idea to go abroad that each little period of dryness ought to be described in the press, by some of the public, and also, I am sorry to say, by some platform speakers, as a drought.

Senator Fraser - I wish the honorable senator were in the middle of it. He would speak otherwise then.

Senator GARDINER - I venture to say that no one in this chamber has seen more of the effects of the drought than I have.

Senator Millen - And felt less.

Senator GARDINER - I leave the honorable senator to think so if he pleases.

Senator Millen - I mean that the honorable senator has not personally felt the effects of drought to any great extent.

Senator GARDINER - I am not so sure of that. I recognise that between January and May of the present year the outlook, so far as the country was concerned, was not of the brightest. But still there was no warrant for making a great outcry in regard to it. Certainly there was a shortage of that rainfall which is so essential to success in our primary industries. But we must recollect that in Australia the autumn seasons are always marked by long periods of dry weather-

Senator Millen - The autumn is the period of our most abundant rainfall.

Senator GARDINER - It may be so in certain places. We all join with His Excellency in expressing our pleasure that the prospect of a protracted drought has passed away, and that we can look forward to a continuation of our former prosperity. In this connexion, I would point out how prosperous the Australian Commonwealth has been since it fell under the guidance of the present Government.

Senator Fraser - And the Caucus.

Senator GARDINER - I do not object to the statement of the honorable senator, because the Labour Caucus is merely a meeting of our party, and I hope that our party will always formulate our programme. I hope that it will always exercise a wise supervision over proposed legislation. If honorable senators opposite work under a different system - a system under which there is no meeting of their party to consider what legislation shall be pressed forward, and what measures shall be withheld, I am sorry for them. But I would like to know what they have to substitute for the system which is adopted by the Labour party. The Caucus is nothing more nor less than a meeting of our party ; and if there be anything wrong in its members meeting together, I should like to know what it is.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. -The Caucus is a meeting at which the minority are drilled into obedience.

Senator GARDINER - That is one of those misstatements which may be used with effect on a public platform when there are people present who do not know better ; but when the honorable senator deliberately affirms that the Caucus is used to drill the minority into obedience, if he does not know that the statement is incorrect he ought to. I want to say, further, that, not only do I claim, as an individual member of the Caucus, as much liberty as my honorable friends opposite, but I claim that I enjoy more. I have greater liberty than they have in criticising the actions of my party.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Does the honorable senator ever criticise their actions in the Senate?

Senator Needham - He has done so repeatedly.

Senator GARDINER - My record of last session alone is more than a complete answer to the question as to whether I have ever criticised the members of the Labour Government. But I do not want to get away from the point at issue. Senator Gould is under the impression that the Labour Caucus adopts a system under which the minority of the party must bow to the will of the majority ; but that is not correct. So far as the Caucus is concerned, we are pledged to vote for certain planks in our platform; but outside of those planks we are not bound by any word or pledge. I hope that we have heard the last of this attempt at misrepresentation - this attempt to misrepresent the facts to the people outside, and to make it appear that members of the Labour party have not the same freedom as have the members of other political parties. I make the assertion that as our platform is in black and white, and we have to sign itbefore we can become candidates for Parliament, we enjoy more freedom than do honorable senators opposite.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbert Gould. - I congratulate the honorable senator upon his freedom.

Senator GARDINER - Measured by every standard that we can apply - whether it be by Customs and Excise revenue, by land values, by the increase of immigration or population - we can look back with satisfaction on the time that the administration of the affairs of this country has been in the hands of the Labour Government. Measured by any of these standards there is an increased and increasing prosperity in Australia which is a complete answer to the gloomy predictions made by my honorable friends opposite when we were struggling for the reins of office.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Our prosperity merely serves to show what great resources there are in this country.

Senator GARDINER - It is remarkable that in face of all the dismal predictions that the Labour Government would fail to live up to their high ideal-

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbert Gould. - Have they lived up to it?

Senator GARDINER - If they have not, we shall be delighted to hear honor able senators opposite tell us where they have failed either in administration or legislation.

Senator Millen - They have failed in everything.

Senator GARDINER - I do not want any general statement of that kind, but I invite these old, astute parliamentarians to level definite charges against the Government - charges of failure either in administration or legislation. As this is the last session before we shall be called upon to face our constituents, let honorable senators opposite point to the statute-book, and tell us what legislation we have enacted which they will repeal. Will they repeal the Land Tax Act ? I do not think so. That tax, if it did nothing else, called into existence a number of additional taxpayers to assist the people to prepare for the defence of Australia. I recollect that when the Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, was in London, he was waited upon by a deputation of absentee landowners, who pointed out the hardship which the tax inflicted upon their interests. I remember that a gentleman representing the Midland Land Company complained that that company had to pay £7,000 annually to the Commonwealth Government as the result of its operation. Another member of the deputation, Mr. Henry Joselyn, representing the old South Australian Land Company, affirmed that that company had to contribute no less a sum than£18,000 a year. I would ask my honorable friends opposite whether they will tell the people that they are prepared to repeal that legislation, and thus save the absentees from paying land tax. They appear to be quite silent now when we ask whether they are going to do this thing or not. I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that if, at the next general election, they could get sufficient power, they would revert to a system under which wealthy companies would escape taxation as they did prior to our legislation. Apart from raising revenue to assist in carrying out the great defence proposals of the Labour Government, what has been the effect of the land tax ?

Senator Millen - What are the defence proposals of your Government?

Senator GARDINER - I refer to our land and naval defence proposals.

Senator Millen - Do you mean compulsory training?

Senator GARDINER - That is one of them.

Senator Millen - That was placed on the statute-book before this Government was formed.

Senator Needham - The late Government wanted to borrow ^3,500,000 to defray the cost of their proposals.

Senator Millen - There is not a cadet in training nor a rivet in a ship to-day that would not have been there if the present Government had not been formed.

Senator GARDINER - The whole contention of the Opposition party, taking our information from the press of Melbourne and Sydney, was that if the Empire needed assistance in naval defence it should be given a Dreadnought for service in the " North Sea. That was the whole cry of the party with which my honorable friend is connected, and when we talked of building a Navy to protect Australia, they talked ot that Navy as a mosquito fleet.

Senator Ready - A tin-pot Navy.

Senator GARDINER - It was described by the Leader of the Opposition as " the Labour party's tin-pot Navy." Our opponents almost branded us as disloyalists because we refused to contribute to a Dreadnought fund. If there is one thing more than another for which the Prime Minister deserves credit, it is that, in a time of clamour, when it did look as if the Empire was in danger, he was not to be stampeded into any proposal to vote huge sums of public money to assist in providing a fleet at the other side of the world. He contended then that the best defence of the Empire, so far as Australia was concerned, was the defence of Australia by Australia.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator deny that the fleet is being constructed in accordance with the agreement entered into by the Deakin Government ?

Senator GARDINER - I am not going to attempt to answer any of the conundrums put so cleverly by my honorable friend. According to the press of New South Wales, and according to the speeches of honorable senators opposite, their whole idea of a naval defence scheme was an increased subsidy to the British Navy.

Senator Millen - It was the scheme which you are carrying out now.

Senator GARDINER - Their whole idea was that an increased subsidy should be granted to the British Government, and that a Dreadnought should be presented to the Old Country, to be used where it would be most needed - in the North Sea.

Senator Millen - What was the purpose of the Naval Loan Bill ?

Senator GARDINER - After the Government winning the elections in the teeth of their opponents' criticism and the Labour party's scheme receiving the approval of the best men who have been giving their attention to the defence of the Empire, I can quite understand the anxiety of honorable senators opposite to try to claim it as part of their policy. Ever since there has been a Labour party they have clamoured and cavilled at every new proposal put forward ; but when, by the use of the platform only, we popularized the measures, and, perhaps, had enough strength in Parliament to compel the Government to place them on the statute-book, they have had. the effrontery to claim them as their measures. The land tax has had the effect of compelling absentee landlords to pay their fair share towards the government and defence of Australia. It has had a further effect. It has caused the breaking up of innumerable large estates from one end of this continent to the other. Mr. Henry Joselyn, when pointing out to the Prime Minister in London what his land company were prepared to do, said that their tenants only held reasonably small holdings - that is, farms of 240 acres each - were prosperous, and satisfied to remain as tenants ; but he added that if the company were called upon to pay this enormous taxation, they must say to their tenants, " We will sell our farms to you at cheaper prices than to anybody else, but we must sell them, because we cannot pay the tax." Here is the case of an outsider pointing out that the very first effect of our land tax is that his company are compelled to sell their big landed estates. I do not think that there is any one here who has a doubt as to which is the better class of farmers - those who own -the lands or those who have to pay interest.

Senator Millen - Those who own the lands, not those who lease them.

Senator GARDINER - My honorable friend's only objection to the leasehold system is when the rent is paid by the lessee to the Government. We have never heard him raise his voice against a system of leasehold under which the rent is paid to a rich landlord or a big company.

Senator Millen - Yes, you have.

Senator GARDINER - No doubt I did when the honorable senator belonged to our party, and we sat together in conference in 1893. I wish to point to another effect of the land tax which has come under my own observation. I am not going to say that the effect of this taxation has been so marked in all the towns of Australia as it has been at the town of Orange. Within a five-mile radius of the Orange post-office, five or six very large estates have been subdivided and sold since the land tax came into operation. I refer to Dalton's Blechington estate, the Rosedale estate, Moulder's Bloomfield estate, Moulder's Warrindine estate, and Frost's Campdale estate. Of these five estates, four border upon the boundaries of the municipality. If there was nothing else to justify our party and to make us satisfied with the result of this experimental legislation, these subdivisions should.. We can never forget the objections which were taken to our policy by honorable senators opposite. They used all the constitutional means in their power to prevent us from giving effect to our proposals before they would submit to the will of the majority at the polls, and also to the will of the majority in each House of Parliament. We are intensely gratified that our legislation is doing exactly what we claimed it would do. Our honorable friends on the other side not only said that it would be a serious mistake to introduce a land tax, but they tried to make the Parliament and the country believe that we had not the constitutional power to enact such an impost. I believe that their statements led the land companies which appealed to the Courts to waste a considerable amount of their money in testing our constitutional power. Honorable senators on the other side said so positively that there was no power in the Constitution to give effect to our land tax proposals that I have no doubt a number of the big landholders who had not looked into the matter as keenly, believed that their statement was true, but they found to their sorrow that it was not true.

Senator Fraser - We never denied that Parliament had the power.

Senator GARDINER - I do not want to hunt up the statements of my honorable friends.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Nobody denied the power of Parliament to impose a land tax, but we said the power was never intended to be used except in an emergency.

Senator GARDINER - We can understand now why our opponents claim our de fence system as theirs. I suppose that the land tax system is theirs, and that they have always intended to carry it out. I have no doubt that everything which turns out well will be represented by them to be exactly what they intended. I heard the debates in the Senate, and read the debates in the other House, and I thought that one of the chief objections of the Opposition to our land tax proposal was that Parliament had not the constitutional power to enact such taxation. At all events, that was the impression which was conveyed to my mind. I do not always, know whether my honorable friends aretalking to deceive their own supporters, or criticising the Government with a view toimproving their legislation. It is pleasing to know that the system of Australian bank notes is working satisfactorily.

Senator Millen - Is it?

Senator GARDINER - It is very pleasing, indeed, to learn from the opening speech that the system is working in a most satisfactory manner. The value of the notes in circulation is over £9,000,000.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - That is not correct.

Senator Millen - Notes to that value have been issued, but only notes of the value of £4,000,000 at the outside are in circulation, so that any two or three banks, if they wanted to do it, could tie up your Government in a few minutes.

Senator GARDINER - I am not going to discuss what any two or three banks might do. The fact that notes of the value of £9,512,151 have been issued, and that there is a gold reserve of £4,305,215 at the Treasury-

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - How long is it going to be there at that rate?

Senator GARDINER - It matters not how long it is going to be there at that rate. There is a gold basis of almost 50 per cent, of the notes issued. .

SenatorMillen. But the Prime Minister recently put through a Bill to reduce the gold reserve to 25 per cent.

Senator GARDINER - If necessary; and I suppose that my honorable friend is aware that the best authorities say that a gold reserve of 12½ per cent. is sufficient to carry on with.

Senator Millen - Not with a tenmillion issue.

Senator GARDINER - If a gold reserve of 12½ per cent. is considered by some ofthe best authorities to be sufficient for a small banking company, why is it not sufficient for the Government of Australia, which can call up, if need be, the last shilling from the last taxpayer?

Senator Pearce - The gold is not the only reserve.

Senator GARDINER - No, it is not,in this case.

Senator Millen - It is the only thing which can be paid over the counter, though.

Senator GARDINER - We know how many tons of gold there are waiting to be paid over the counter, but there need be no fear in this matter. I think that honorable senators opposite will agree with me that during the time the Australian notes have been in circulation the utmost care has been exercised by our Treasurer and Prime Minister. There is nothing in his administration which need cause the least anxiety in the mind of the most nervous that anything is being, or will be, done in a way calculated to injure the reputation and credit of the Commonwealth. I am also glad to find that the Bank Bill of last session is being given effect to, and that the appointment of the Governor will be quickly followed by the appointment of his subordinate officers, so that we may soon have a most successful banking system in operation. I should like here to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition upon the tact that in a recent speech he pointed out, and agreed with, the soundness of our banking proposals.

Senator Millen - That is quite incorrect.

Senator GARDINER - I do not want to be incorrect. In fact, I wanted to congratulate my honorable friend on being correct in that case.

Senator Millen - I must decline your congratulations.

Senator GARDINER - I was merely quoting from a statement which the honorable senator made in the Paddington town hall, and in which he pointed out that our banking proposals were absolutely on a safe and sound foundation, the only fault being that they brought into existence a twenty-fourth bank, when we already had twenty-three banks in the Commonwealth. If the honorable senator did not make that statement, he ought, I think, to read the press reports of his speeches a little more carefully, and correct them.

Senator Millen - What you have done has been to quote a portion of what I said, leaving out the preceding remarks. I shall supply the omission to-morrow.

Senator GARDINER - I really thought that I was quoting exactly what my honorable friend said at Paddington, that we were simply calling into existence a twenty-fourth bank, when already there were twenty-three banks, which could conduct the whole of the financial business of the Commonwealth.

Senator Millen - I am sure that the honorable senator is wrong, for this reason: for months I have been looking hard for something kind to say about the Government, and I have failed.

Senator GARDINER - My honorable friend is in very bad company. I was going to contrast that candid statement of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate with the carping statement of a leader, or half-leader, who sits in the other House, that the Labour Government have been responsible for the passage of legislation which compelled the banks to pay their gold into the Treasury and take the Prime Minister's I.O.U.'s in return.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - It looks very much like it.

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator says that it looks very much like it; but is there any man acquainted with the legislation providing for the Australian note issue who will say that there is any compulsion brought to bear upon the banks to use Australian notes? If it does not suit the convenience of their banking business, they have no occasion to use them.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - But the honorable senator knows perfectly well that they must have notes to carry on their business.

Senator GARDINER - Weknow that in the ordinary conduct of their business they must employ notes.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbertGould. - The Government do not permit them to issue notes of their own, and so they must take the notes provided by the Government.

Senator GARDINER - Exactly. Just as we say that they shall not issue any sovereigns, shillings, or coppers of their own, and must take the coin provided for them by the Government. The point I wish to make is that it is not right that men holding high positions in the public life of this country should, in order to gain the passing advantage of the applause of the crowd, make statements so wide of the mark as that the legislation passed by this Parliament compels the banks to take the Australian notes.

Senator Millen - As a matter of fact, is not that practically, what it does do ?

Senator GARDINER - As a matter of fact, it does not. The banks have no more need to take these notes than I have. When I go to a bank, they give me notes because it is convenient for them to do so ; but if they choose to conduct a cash business, there is no compulsion upon them to take Australian notes under the legislation which has been passed by this Parliament. What has been stated may be one of the effects of our legislation ; but if we are to have honest criticism of the Government, the people should be told that. They should not be asked to listen to wild statements that such a thing is compulsory under our legislation. I think I may say that, so far as the Australian notes are concerned, the best and soundest banking authorities - and I do not here refer to that section of the banking community composed of people who are half bankers and half politicians, but to the common sense banking community - do not at the present time view the Australian note issue with any alarm. The people are satisfied with the note issue, the best banking authorities are not alarmed, and we are deriving at the present time from this legislation a profit of £200,000 a year in the way of interest on loans. Our notes have been loaned to the various States, and the loans granted to Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, and the other States have enabled those States to carry out reproductive WOrkS that have l:>een of immense benefit to them. It should further be remembered that the State Governments have not been asked to take £92, £95, or £98 for each £100, but have been given the full £100 for every £100 they borrow. The people of the Commonwealth and of the States represent the same body of taxpayers. This legislation has been of mutual benefit to the Commonwealth and the States, and it is very hard, at the present time, to estimate what is the real profit which the people of Australia derive from this par ticular piece df Commonwealth legislation.

Senator Pearce - It has enabled the States Governments to get better terms from private money-lenders also.

Senator GARDINER - That is so.

Senator Millen - They are paying higher interest now than they ever had to do before, although the honorable senator claims that the financial legislation of the Government is so beneficial.

Senator GARDINER - One reason for that is the abounding prosperity of the Australian community, and the development of investments which has been proceeding during the last two years, and which has been unprecedented in Australia. In times past our friends opposite used to talk to us of the iron law of supply and demand. When money is not being used you can get it cheaply, but when money is required for investment in trade and commerce, and for business purposes, then, just as the demand for it increases, so the price for its use increases.

Senator St Ledger - Is not that the iron law of demand and supply?

Senator GARDINER - That is exactly what 1 am saying. I am getting back a little on my honorable friends opposite. We used to have to put up with these lectures heretofore, but we are giving them to our honorable friends now.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Then the honorable senator has learned something from those lectures.

Senator GARDINER - I have learned much from the honorable senator. I used to listen to the words of wisdom which fell from his lips many years ago. In considering the banking proposals of the Government, it is well to consider their full effects, and not to try to put them in a false light in order to blame them for results which are not due to them. The increased price of money is due to the increased demand for it. No one can fail to have observed the enormous development of business which has taken place in Sydney, and also, I am glad to say in Melbourne, during the last two years. One of the most pleasing features of the time is the growth and development of business, not only in these two cities, but throughout Australia. I do not intend to speak at any great length, but I wish to refer to something new which is mentioned in paragraph 9 of the Governor-General's Speech.

After a reference to the death rate amongst infants, the statement is made -

My Advisers, considering its men and women to be the greatest asset of the nation, after most careful consideration, have decided to lay before you a proposal for a maternity grant to the mothers of children born in the Commonwealth.

On account of its novelty this may be regarded as one of the most remarkable features of His Excellency's address. It is remarkable for many reasons. If it is found that the proposal receives the approval of the people of the Commonwealth our friends opposite may not claim that it is their proposal, and something we have taken from them, but I have no doubt that four or five years hence, should there be an appeal to the people, and this proposal is found to be approved by them, we shall find the same anxiety displayed by our honorable friends opposite to show that they always believed in it, and that if the Labour Government had not remained in power, they would have given effect to it.

Senator Rae - Their caucus approved of it yesterday.

Senator St Ledger - How does the honorable senator know that?

Senator GARDINER - The report of their proceedings in the Age shows that they did. The proposal to my mind has much to commend it. I think it was Mr. Arthur Griffith, Minister for Works in New South Wales, and one of Australia's foremost men, who said that the most desirable immigrant is the Australian baby. We have the statement made that last year nearly 9,000 children died under the age of one year, and nearly half of that number died during the first four weeks of their infant life.

Senator Vardon - Is that peculiar to Australia ?

Senator GARDINER - Certainly not. The figures disclose that the death rate amongst infants is much greater during the first month of life than later, and most of us are acquainted with the fact that much may be done to save many thousands of these valuable lives.

Senator Barker - And ought to be done.

Senator GARDINER - And much ought to be done. -The statistics, not only for Australia, but for all countries in the world, show that the mortality amongst infants is nearly as great during the first month as during the following eleven months of infant life. We have now a maternity grant proposed by the Govern ment. I do not know what the amount will be, but, whatever it may be, it should be sufficient to provide better professional attendance, nursing accommodation, and better food for mother and infant.

Senator Vardon - Does the honorable senator not think that it ought to be retrospective ?

Senator GARDINER - This enormous death rate may be materially reduced if provision be made for better professional attendance and better nourishment for mother and infant. In the case of the ordinary working man, who has to maintain himself and his family on just what his hands can earn, the receipt of a small amount of money, even as small as the maternity grant may be, will at that interesting period remove a great deal of anxiety from the minds of himself and family by placing them in a position to secure little comforts, and will, in my opinion, lead to a considerable improvement in the figures showing the death rate amongst infants at the present time. It is reasonable to suppose that the expenditure of a few pounds at that period will enable many infants, who under existing conditions pass away, to thrive arid develop. It is because I believe this to be a sound and common-sense proposal that I give it my approval. I know that, at first sight, it is repugnant to the conservative mind.

Senator Millen - No doubt the honorable senator is an authority on the conservative mind.

Senator GARDINER - I recognise that I am apt to get out of touch with the party because of the conservative view I take of things. It may give us a sort of shock to read of a proposal of this kind for the first time, but when we make ourselves acquainted with the advantages that are likely to accrue from it, and the assistance it may afford for the preservation of a number of valuable lives, in spite of our natural conservatism we can give it approval. Viewing it in a calmer light, we can all agree that it will provide a means of saving life. My honorable friend, Senator Vardon, is inclined to make the proposal retrospective in order to cover lost ground, but there must be a beginning to all new forms of legislation. This is a beginning upon which the Government can be congratulated, and I join most heartily in that congratulation. There are several other matters mentioned in the Speech, which might be referred to j but I think it is sufficient now to comment upon the fact that a selection has been made from the designs for the Federal Capital. I hope that the Government will proceed expeditiously with the building of the Capital, and I look forward to the possibility that, perhaps the next Parliament may meet in the Australian Federal Capital at Yass-Canberra.

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