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Friday, 26 June 1914

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Is there any compulsion about any levy to the funds of the Labour party?

Senator Oakes - If a person does not pay his levy to a union he is put out of it.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That statement has been refuted so often that it is not worthy of credence.

Senator Guthrie - The Liberal party have legislated against us levying on ourselves. What about the Arbitration Act?

Senator Russell - Senator Oakes is the champion Liberal organizer for raising funds by levy. That was his profession at one time.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honorable senator says that the table I have quoted was taken from the Labour party.

Senator Oakes - It is a good way of raising money according to the wealth of the persons taxed.

Senator Guthrie - The Labour party never attempted to legislate against that.

Senator Oakes - According to the financial strength of the unions they are compelled to pay the political levy.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - What would be said of the Labour party if we were to impose additional taxation on the people of Australia to the extent of £15 15s. per head?

Senator Oakes - If it was compulsory they would object to it.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - But here is a tax imposed by a political organization.

Senator Oakes - It is a voluntary contribution.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - What would happen to those persons who are brought under this so-called voluntary scheme if they did not pay up?

Senator Oakes - The same thing would happen as if I asked you for a pound and you refused to give it.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Liberal organization has just as powerful means of enforcing payment as we have.

Senator Clemons - Read out the penalty clause from that circular.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No penalty is stated, but there is a very effective penalty, nevertheless. I may tell the honorable senator that that is not the only circular I have got. Senator Oakes made a splendid splash in regard to the circular issued in New South Wales, " Cook's Latest." I ask the Honorary Minister if the circular I have just read is as pleasing to him as that little green circular ? I will now pass on from the Ashburnham electorate, and the tax which the Liberal Union has imposed on the farmers and business men under Tables A to F, which have been carefully worked out on an actuarial basis, I presume, so that every subscriber shall pay a fair proportion towards the upkeep of the organization. I turn now to South Australia. At Booleroo Centre, in the district of Burra, which I had the honour of representing in the State Parliament, the Liberal organizer had attended a special meeting under the auspices of the local branch of the Liberal Union on 1st March, 1913, and the newspaper report states: -

Mr. Pageproposed that all the members in this district should pay their annual subscriptions according to their land holdings. He pointed out that the big farmer should pay more than the smaller one, as he had morestake in the country. He asked that 10 per cent. on district council assessment be paid, in addition to 2s. 6d. for each member. He stated" that there were from twelve to fifteen branches in the district that worked under this rule.

It was then resolved unanimously that the foregoing suggestions should be adopted. Thus we see that in South Australia the same thing is happening as in New South Wales; the members of the

Liberal Unions are being taxed according to the acreage and sheep they hold.

Senator Oakes - Just the same as the Workers' Union.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If the honorable senator insists on referring to the Workers' Union Lam prepared to go that far with him. But what I object to is that while the honorable gentleman is continually thundering against the Labour party for doing this sort of thing, he will not admit that his own party is an even worse offender. Then at a place called Melrose, also in South Australia -

It was resolved to adopt the scheme for membership subscriptions already carried into force by several other branches in this district. There is to be a subscription of 2s. 6d. per member, and, in addition, a levy of 10s. on the basis of the district council assessment. By this means it is hoped to secure adequate funds for carrying on the work of the union, without pressing too severely on the poorer members.

That is another instance of the way in which this generous and gracious Liberal union levies taxation on the small farmers in South Australia. I propose to quote now the account of a meeting of the Narracoorte Branch of the Liberal Union, held as recently as the 2nd May, 1914. The local paper contains the following paragraph: -

The Union was not as well financed as it should be, and if it were not for occasional help from a number of generous supporters the Union would find itself crippled for funds. ... It should be made compulsory for all members to contribute according to the interests they have at stake. ... It was compulsory for their friends in the opposite camp to contribute, and it was a good example to follow.

I ask Senator Oakes to take notice of that. The report continues: -

He had two ways; the first was that every member pay the membership fee of 2s. 6d. and 3d. for every 100 acres he holds. A landlord owning 1,000 acres would contribute 5s. per annum. A landlord holding 20,000 acres would contribute £2 12s. 6d. . . The other method was to levy a contribution in the rates to the amount the land-owners paid in rates. . . . He would suggest, say, 6d. in the £1.

Senator Guthrie - Are those the men who opposed the Land Tax ?

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes. They are the men who held meetings all over South Australia to oppose an impost which was intended to assist in the development of their own country.

Sitting suspended from 1 to2 . 30 p.m.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - We have no objection to the levy of subscriptions upon the members of political organizations for their upkeep. My object in referring to the matter is to direct public attention to the fact that whilst Ministers and their supporters are always pointing the finger of scorn at the Labour party because levies are made upon the members of Labour organizations, the same course is followed on the other side. It is not my intention to take up much more of the time of the Senate in dealing with this matter, but in order that my list may be brought up to date, I desire to have inserted in Hansard a copy of a portion of a circular issued by the Liberal Union in South Australia only a few weeks ago. This circular has been issued over the signature of the secretary of the Liberal Union of Adelaide, Mr.Freeman. There is a good deal in it which is not material to my case, and I quote only the portions which I consider material. The circular is dated from the Liberal Union office, No. 16 North-terrace, Adelaide, 17th June, 1914, and I quote the following from it -

The writ will issue about the 15th July, after that no claims to vote can be recorded. See that all electors of the Liberal tendency are on the roll at once. Advise all your members and ask them to pass the word on to their neighbours. Do not trust to any rumour that the Electoral Office is doing this work. They are not; they are not leaving claims, nor are they filling up claims, but any one whom they find is not on the roll will be prosecuted and fined, so it is an individual personal matter.

The election will in all probability take place on Saturday, 5th September, so be prepared for it, organize in time, do not forget or think there is plenty of time. Do it now, and be free and ready on polling day to do your duty. Citizenship is worth giving a day to. Do not be caught napping and regret it afterwards when it is too late. A great victory has a moral effect, so make it a victory worth recording, and as Liberals to be proud of.

Cleanse the rolls. Do not delay in sending in the names of Labour supporters who are on the latest roll sent you and have lost their qualifications, that I may have them struck off. You have little time. The next roll published which will appear after the writ issues will be the one on which the election will be fought. There will be no supplemental roll, so have your full strength recorded now, and do not let your opponents have any advantage over you, or any reserve strength for double voting.

New rolls. - I will send you a copy of the new roll as soon as printed, but this will be a very short time before the election.

Electoral officers. - I shall be pleased if you will report to me early any cases where the local Electoral Officers, who have charge of the conduct of the polling, &c, are not men of sober habits and good character, impartial in their judgment, and capable of carrying out duties imposed upon them in a trustworthy and intelligent manner, satisfactorily to the general public - or the same in respect of any temporary men employed. This election must be carried out on fair and honorable lines.

Finance.- -The Liberal year 1913-14 ends on the 30th June instant, and there is still a substantial sum owing by branches, on a levy under the constitution for the next year.

Senator Guthrie - What constitution?

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I presume that the reference is to the constitution of the Liberal Leagues. The circular continues -

This great Federal struggle for supremacy will need funds, and a special appeal is made to those who are in arrears to send their cheque to the District Secretary.

As I have said, the circular is signed by "H. G. Freeman. general secretary, Liberal Union, South Australia."

Senator Guthrie - Who was in arrears? Was it the Beef Trust?

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The circular does not specify that. I have said enough to satisfy even Senator Oakes that the Labour party is not the only political party that by means of levies or other reasonable means raises funds for the support of its organizations. When we are finding fault with other organizations, instead of justifying our own we should remember that, no matter how bad the actions of one organization may be, it would be strange if we could not discover something in the history of other organizations equally bad. I wish, in conclusion, to say that this country is to be plunged into the unwarrantable expense involved in a double dissolution, and for what? For purely party purposes. The means by which the double dissolution has been brought about are trumpery. The charge that has been made against this branch of the Legislature of blocking the business of the country is absolutely false and entirely unwarranted. The Senate gave quick despatch to every Bill sent up to it by the Government during last session. I have here a list of the Bills that were dealt with in the Senate last session. It shows that twenty-five Bills were dealt with; that two or three measures were amended in this Chamber and laid aside in another place. Surely the Senate has a right to amend legislation submitted to it in any way that may seem right and proper to honorable senators? Only two Bills were rejected, and those two Bills were sent to the Senate for the expressed purpose of having them rejected. Honorable senators opposite know that one of those Bills was amended in such a way as to make it perfectly acceptable to the people of Australia. The party opposite, therefore, very cunningly dropped that measure, with which they did not expect to be able to do much before the electors. I refer to the Postal Voting Restoration Bill. The. great test measure in connexion with which the Government propose to involve the people of the Commonwealth in an expenditure of very nearly £100,000 is designed to give legislative effect to a principle which has already been given effect to by departmental regulation. Neither the people, the members of the Labour party, nor the Senate, have any objection to this branch of the Legislature or the Federal Parliament being penalized when legislation is hung up, and the two Houses are in a state of dead-lock. But when it comes to a matter of advising the Governor-General to grant a double dissolution on such a paltry Bill as that in connexion with which action has been taken by the Government, the people of Australia will not hold the Government blameless. I am confident that no better justification could be given to the electors for turning down the present occupants of the Treasury bench at the next election.

Senator de Largie - We do not know what representations were made to the Governor-General in support of the request for a double dissolution.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That will be another justification for turning down the present Government. What right have the members of any Government to plunge the country into enormous expense without informing the people of the reason for their action ? We have not asked for the information for the benefit of members of the Labour party, of the Senate, or of this Parliament, but for the benefit of the people who will have to foot the bill for the expense of the elections in a few weeks' time. They should know why they are called upon to pay all this money. The people are asking for the reasons, and we have done our duty in the matter. In both branches of this Legislature we have urged the Government to furnish the information. We have petitioned the Governor-General himself, but at every step we have been met by the refusal, not of the GovernorGeneral, but of the Government. We have no right at the present time, at any rate, to deal with the Governor-General in this matter. He has followed the advice of his Ministers. A few months ago Australia was canvassed, and the members of the Labour party were accused of being Unificationists. Our opponents contended that if the referenda proposals were carried the result would be Unification. What does the destruction of the Senate mean but Unification ?

Senator Stewart - The Senate is not destroyed yet.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I point out to my honorable friend that the Senate will be absolutely destroyed if the action of the present Government is given effect to. If by some misadventure the present Government party is returned to power the Senate will be rendered absolutely useless. If by any means the people are misled, and, through carelessness or neglect, permit the present Government party to return to power, members of the Senate will never be so foolish or so stupid as to attempt to dot an "i" or cross a " t " in any Bill sent up from another place.

Senator Stewart - Why not?

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Because the threat of a double dissolution will be held over their heads.

Senator Stewart - The fear is that there may be a double dissolution? If a man is not prepared to be shot at he should not go to war.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am not pleading for mercy from any one. I am pointing out what the Government are responsible for, and what the result of the action of the Government will be upon the Senate in the future. If their action is upheld at the forthcoming elections the sooner the Senate is wiped out the better it will be for Australia, because there will then be one unnecessary source of expense removed. The smaller States came into the Federation only because they were given equal representation in this Chamber. They have been absolutely betrayed by the very men who for years have boasted that they were the bulwark of the Constitution - that they were here to uphold the rights of the small States against the aggression of the large ones. These gentlemen, who have professed to be the bulwark of the Constitution, have deprived the small States of . any shred of power which they possessed to resist encroachments by the larger States, even assuming that the exercise of such power was ever required in this Parliament. I say that a' Federal compact was entered into between the various States, and, if that compact is to be broken, the question should be remitted to the people in a straightforward manner. I am perfectly confident that the electors are as well acquainted with the position that has arisen here as we are, and I am satisfied that when they are called upon to exercise their votes they will record against the present Administration a larger and more solid vote than has ever been recorded in the history of Australia. They will do so, and not because of the love which they bear the Labour party. I do not claim that the electors who will turn down the Government are whole-hearted believers in the Labour party, but I do maintain that they are firm believers in Australian freedom, who will vote in the way I have indicated in order that "their freedom as Australians may be maintained.

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