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Thursday, 8 July 1915

Senator TURLEY - Should w© not have the right to apply a common rule in connexion with any award?

Senator BAKHAP - Australia is a great Continent, with much diversity of interests. Why were not the people who were settled here years ago content to have their affairs administered solely from Sydney? They insisted upon the division of the country into States because excessive centralization was proving most unsatisfactory.

Senator Senior - The honorable senator is now arguing against Federation.

Senator BAKHAP - No. There is a distinction between Federal and State interests. This Federal Legislature has many powers which it has not yet exercised; if anything, too many powers have been conferred on it. In my opinion, the questions connected with Customs and Excise, Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones, and Defence are sufficient to occupy the attention of this Legislature in ordinary times; but the Constitution has conferred on us many powers that we have not yet exercised. Why should we be loaded with responsibility in regard to purely local matters ?

Senator TURLEY - -Industrial war is a matter of National concern.

Senator BAKHAP - It may be a matter of merely State concern. The honorable senator does not require my assistance in the settlement of purely personal matters, and have not the people of the States shown capacity to manage their own internal affairs while making rapid progress in civilization and the acquisition of material wealth ?'

Senator McKissock - Is the honorable senator against Federal arbitration?

Senator BAKHAP - No; but I am opposed to the Federal Court being empowered to interfere in purely State matters.

Senator Watson - If a State authority cannot settle a dispute, should it not be possible to bring that dispute before a Federal Arbitration Court?

Senator BAKHAP - Are the people of the States dolts ? Have they not intellectual power and capacity sufficient to deal with purely State matters? Honorable senators seem to find it impossible to distinguish between National and State concerns and functions. They are constantly saying that the Australians are one people, speaking one language; but that does not prevent a great diversity of interests consequent upon local conditions. If all Australians had the same interests, would there be an agitation for the creation of a new State in Queensland? Would the people of the Northern Territory be demanding local government? Would the white population of Papua be discontented with the present system of administering their affairs from Melbourne? Distance and local conditions are great factors in creating diversity of interests. There is a tremendous concentration of administrative and legislative functions in Russia. Why, it is said there that God is in Heaven and the Czar is a long way off. Distance, I repeat, is a factor, and, to the white settlers of Papua and of the Northern Territory, the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth is a long way off. I need scarcely remind honorable senators that the people round Lismore, in New South Wales, are even now contemplating the creation of another State. Why? Because, so far as their needs are concerned, Sydney is a long way off. Honorable senators opposite appear to think that because we are one people we should have only one Administration. I admit that we should have only one Administration in respect of national matters; but I believe that the States have certain interests which the communities within those States can best safeguard through the medium of their own Legislatures.

Senator TURLEY - Is not industrial warfare in Australia a national question?

Senator BAKHAP - Industrial warfare throughout the Commonwealth is a national matter; but industrial warfare at Tindog Creek or Mount Morgan is not a national question.

Senator TURLEY - It may be the beginning of a national question.

Senator BAKHAP - We should wait till an industrial dispute has attained the dimensions of a purely Australian character. How can a dispute in connexion with the Mount Morgan mine be of Australian interest in the first place? Of course it is of Australian interest in an indirect sense, but in a particular sense it concerns the people of Mount Morgan primarily, the people of Queensland in the second instance, and those of the Commonwealth afterwards.

Senator TURLEY - The people of New South Wales are directly concerned, because of the establishment of refining works there.

Senator BAKHAP - If an industrial dispute occurs at Mount Morgan, I have a sufficiently high opinion of the authorities in Queensland to believe that they will devise some suitable means for its settlement.

Senator Senior - Can the honorable senator say why, when a decision has been given in respect of such a dispute, that decision ought not to extend to the other States ?

Senator BAKHAP - Yes. My reason is that the conditions which obtain in other States may be very different from those which obtain in Queensland.

Senator SENIOR - How does it come about that the Australian Workers Union has obtained an award which covers all the States?

Senator BAKHAP - The Australian Workers Union operates largely in connexion with an industry which is. conducted under almost uniform conditions throughout the Commonwealth. Sheep shearing in Australia is the same as it is in Argentine and in the Old Country. There are certain uniform characteristics in connexion with the industry which differentiate it from any other industry. But, after all, it may not be a good thing to have one rule governing that industry throughout Australia. However, I desire to conclude my remarks with a reference to the enervating effect of what I call State monopolies. I would like to know of any great invention which has proceeded from any State monopoly or any Government enterprise. As a matter of fact, there are not many Commonwealth enterprises of a productive character. Most of them have been established in .connexion -with the Defence Department. With what result ? Have they escaped criticism? Are they conspicuous for their cheap production of the articles which they were established to produce?

Senator de Largie - Yes. What about the production of agricultural machinery in Western Australia ?

Senator BAKHAP - At a later stage in our history certain things may be disclosed which will act as a sort of intellectual shower bath to the people in connexion with industries which the Commonwealth is prosecuting at the present time. Knowing what I do of the operation of those industries, I would be one of the last to vest the Commonwealth with power to increase its activities in that regard. What is the good of the State industries if those industries do not result in cheapening production? The people have been told that they would get things cheaper if the commercial brigand were eliminated. There is no reason whatever why the different Australian States should not embark on production in different industries in competition with private enterprise so long as they do not adopt the expedient of making good their losses out of their Treasury chests. We should then get a fair guide as to whether State enterprise really cheapens production or not. If the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, for example, operates in a way that the authorities in Australia believe to be inimical to the interests of the people, the State Governments may reasonably embark upon an enterprise of a similar character, and if, without having recourse to the Treasury to make good their losses, they can reduce the price of sugar, their action will be abundantly justified. But otherwise there can be no justification for it. I know sufficient of State enterprise in Australia to warrant me in refusing to aid the Government in that connexion.

Senator Turley - We are often asked to bolster up private enterprise with bonuses.

Senator Guy - Is it not a fact that the Victorian Railway Department can manufacture locomotives 20 per cent, cheaper than they can be manufactured in other parts of the world?

Senator BAKHAP - Is it not a fact that that Department will this yearsus tain a loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds - a loss which will nave to be made good by the taxpayers of this State?

Senator McKissock - Has not the State Coal Mine in Victoria been a success t

Senator BAKHAP - It has been a modified success. But there are many other enterprises which have been established by the States and by the Commonwealth and which have been anything but a success. As a matter of fact, they are producing at a very much greater cost than was 'anticipated. To emphasize the enervating character of State enterprise I intend to conclude my observations with a simple illustration. The French Government hold a monopoly of matches and of the sale of tobacco, and the quality of French matches and tobacco is proverbially bad.

Senator de Largie - That is a very old and exploded idea.

Senator BAKHAP - It is a fact.

Senator de Largie - It is not.

Senator BAKHAP - What I. am about to state is a fact. Because of this monopoly of matches, the people in France are severely fined if they sell lighting apparatus of a character which will obviate the use of lucifers. That is to say, the people are compelled to use the matches made by the Government. The use of a paraffin lighter is prohibited. I have a cutting from a newspaper which I took out only a few days ago to prove this statement. I was aware of the fact in 1911, and made allusion to it when campaigning against the referenda proposals in that year.

Senator Ready - If the honorable senator has tried to strike any of the wax matches made by private enterprise, and supplied here, he will know that a good deal of patience is needed for those using them.

Senator BAKHAP - The best matches the honorable senator can get, if he chooses to pay for them, and whatever is good must be paid for, are those made by private enterprise. The French Government prohibited the sale or manufacture of substitutes for matches, because the sale of matches was a profitable Government monopoly. Can honorable senators opposite not see how prohibitive this course must be of individual initiative or inventive ability? If the French Government had a monopoly of the manufacture of flints and steels they would probably have execrated the invention of matches. Honorable senators may apply this illustration to any State or national monopoly. If it is found to be profitable to the State, the State authorities will* discountenance any invention that is likely to undermine the profitable character of its monopoly. Consequently, under such a system, stagnation is sure, and national decay must ensue. I am quite sensible of the fact that the effect of such a policy might not be visible in one generation or in two, but it would, nevertheless, be the inevitable sequence of a policy of the repression of initiative such as is disclosed in the attitude of the French Government in the prohibition of the sale of substitutes for matches. Is there any invention of the present time that has been nationalized by the State in any country that is due to the initiative of any persons in the service of the State? The telegraph was invented by private enterprise, the railway is a product of individual enterprise, initiative and ability. But in these cases the State comes in and monopolizes these inventions.

Senator Guy - Is the honorable senator opposed to that?

Senator BAKHAP - I am not; because I recognise that there is a certain field in which certain functions of the State can be exercised with a fair amount of success. I believe that a satisfactory extension of State or national enterprise may be looked for in connexion with transport, in which direction it is fairly successfully exercised at the present time.But I see no prospect whatever of anything like successful national enterprise in the realm of production. I see no hope of cheapened production which will add greatly to the national wealth by the interference of the State in the realm of production. Do honorable senators believe that the State could scrub 5,000 acres of land, put it under wheat, harvest it, and market the crop, as successfully as a wheat farmer cultivating his own land could do? I venture to say that the State could not do so. I am opposed to State and national enterprise in regard to the function of production, but I do anticipate that, from time to time, there will be an extension of national functions in regard to transport.

Senator Gardiner - Does the honorable senator not think that he is becoming a monopolist?

Senator BAKHAP - Strike high or strike low, there is no pleasing honorable senators opposite. They have been mourning because these proposals were not attacked from this side. They have complained of the cowardice of honorable senators on this side. They have complained of our silence, and have descanted upon what they have described as the ignominious march out of the chamber by my political friends in another place. Now, because I occupy the attention of the Senate in discussing these proposals in a way I did not contemplate - I did not know that they would be brought before us so suddenly - the Vice-President of the Executive Council complains that I am becoming a monopolist of the time of the Senate. I am afraid that my honorable friends will have to endure me to the end. I have very nearly arrived at it now. The Government have made no preparation to repair the breach in our Constitution disclosed by the decision handed down by the High Court. They have been perfidious in that regard in instigating the State of Queensland to similar action to that taken by the Government of New South Wales. They have shown themselves to be unFederal in their intention, and they have no desire whatever to make the National Constitution a truly Federal one. Their sole objective is the accomplishment of certain Socialistic ideals, and as I believe the accomplishment of those ideals will be fraught with disaster to the Australian nation, I have no hesitation in assuring honorable senators that I shall do my utmost in a humble way to defeat these proposals when they are once more submitted to the people.

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