Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 26 May 1903


Sir EDMUND BARTON (Hunter Minister for External Affairs) - In dealing with the attack which my right honorable friend has made upon the Government, I should like to point out that unless his comments upon the six hatters' case, which I shall refer to presently, are to be taken as an exception, none of the legislation passed by the Government in the last session, nor a particle of that which can be reached according to the Governor-General's speech in the present session, has been the subject of his criticism. _ So that so far as our legislation and its policy are concerned, .always, of course, excepting the Tariff, the right honorable gentleman has found no point oE attack. That is a significant commentary upon the. whole of his speech. Not that I take the speech altogether too seriously, because having listened carefully and attentively to it, I am not honestly able to credit the right honorable gentleman with having said anything which in any sense seriously weakens the position of the Government. He has alluded to the fact that the High Court and the Inter-State Commission Bills were two of the measures included in the programme of the Government before the last session began. That is true. They occupied prominent positions in our speeches, and though neither were promised as first measures, I freely admit that they occupied equally prominent positions in the Governor-General's speech. Any one who thinks for himself will be able fairly to come to. this conclusion at any rate : That however necessary it was to pass a High Court Bill, it was necessary in the first instance to carry out such measures as the regulation and amalgamation, so far as we could during the bookkeeping period, of the post-offices of all the States. It was necessary to regulate the public service of the Commonwealth. And as we had to bring in a Tariff during the first session, lest by any chance we should be outside the limitation of two years imposed by the Constitution, it was necessary to bring down along with it a comprehensive Customs measure. Honorable members know that the Tariff was not out of hand for a a period of just about eleven months. That, with such business as could be by any chance introduced whilst the Tariff was not under immediate consideration, occupied two-thirds of the session. The measures that I have mentioned with those for the establishment of a white Australia policy were measures which were not only necessary, but which were urgent. The carrying out of the white Australia policy was a subject of this prime consideration. You may talk of legislating for your people how you will, but your first care, I think, should be to take care what your people are. And though they may be in some cases very efficient in industry, if you do not wish to be in a continual course of legislation for races which are 'in one sense or another, according to our notions, inferior to the race to which we belong, it will be your prime . consideration to take such steps as will preserve the national characteristics which we hope to be everlasting in this part of the world.


Mr Reid - The right honorable gentleman did not legislate for races, but for people who could not pass an educational test.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I shall come to that educational test and to my right honorable friend's part in it before I sit down. The right honorable gentleman may be sure I shall not blink it, because he has made references to it to which I find it quite proper' that I should make an answer. But I claim, as I think I shall be able to show by the returns, that the measures passed for this purpose are working out their end and doing it satisfactorily. I am not at one with those who think that legislation of that kind could well and properly have been postponed until the second session. It would have been a matter of very great gratification to the Government indeed if time could have been found in that very prolonged session for the passing of the High Court Bill. But we must not forget the circumstances which surrounded us. Some of them I have already detailed. Let us now come to others. Has not my right honorable friend constantly represented during the recess ' that, for fear that we should make appointments to the Bench during the recess - and he claims by inference some God-given right to be the monopolist in these appointments - he and his friends prevented us from carrying the High Court Bill in the first session ? Has he not, in speeches here and there, stated that he, with the patriotic assistance of his friends in the Opposition, took care that we should not pass a Bill - earlier or later in the session does not matter - that would give us the right to make appointments in the recess, while Parliament was not sitting? Well, if we had passed that Bill so late in session that appointments could only have been made in the recess, we should have had the onus of doing that, and should have done it with this knowledge - that ought to be constantly before our eyes, and before the mental vision of every Government - that if we did wrong in making this appointment or that we should be subject to the censure of Parliament immediately it met. That is a responsibility which we were not likely to shirk, and could not have shirked if we wished to do so. So that all this talk about these motives for delaying or keeping back the High Court Bill - or, rather, these motives for saying that we could not pass it in the first session - vanish into moonshine when once we recognise that the perennial responsibility of Ministers would have attached to them whatever they did under that Bill. Myright honorable friend has given that reason, and he has also given another. The difficulty of his position is that the two reasons cannot stand together. Let me read to the House what he said in an interview or a speech - I forget which - -during the last recess. The right honorable member speaks of what he deems an unworthy turn of mine, which I shall come to directly.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What has the right honorable gentleman got there 1


Sir EDMUND BARTON - Some cuttings, some of which will grow into very thriving plants directly. The right honorable gentleman has charged the Government with neglect over the creation of the High Court, and has, at the same time, posed as though we wanted to pass the Bill, but he would not let us. Now, as reported in the Argus of 8th May, he charges us with neglect, and those two points cannot stand together. He said -

It was generally believed that Senator O'Connor would go on the High Court Bench. There was no one in Australia but would applaud the appointment of such a distinctly able man, but the Goverment had no right to play fast and loose over it. Senator O'Connor was the one man who stood out for the conspicuously able and businesslike way in which he had discharged his duties in the Senate.

None of that praise is too much.

He was too valuable to the Government, and it would have been inconvenient for them to lose such a good man in the middle of the session, so they selfishly put the Bill aside.

So that the Bill was kept back for three causes - first, because the right honorable member would not let it be passed ; next, because the Government was neglectful ; and thirdly, because they wanted to keep

Senator O'Connor,and therefore did not want to pass the Bill until they could dispense with his services. There is . a variety of reasons. If any honorable member can find any one of them that will stand together with the others, he is welcome to come and take the place which I occupy, because he has far more ingenuity than I credit myself with.

Mr.Reid. - I referred to the matter of the delay in not going on with the Bill.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - The right honorable member referred to delay in not -going on with it, but he knew full well that that delay was inevitable. He knew full well of the measures which occupied this House, including the Tariff, the debates on which did not suffer in the way of length for anything which he and his friends did ; he must have been aware, when he made that charge, that the pendency of the Tariff! and the pendency of the other measures which it was absolutely necessary to pass in that session, had been such that the hope of passing the Bill was much less than we had expected. Did the right honorable member prevent the Government from passing the Bill, because he could not trust them to make appointments in the recess? If that be true, it cannot be that the Government sacrificed the Bill for the selfish motive of retaining the services of Senator O'Connor in the Senate. I have often during last session given answers to questions which ought to have saved the Government from that unworthy insinuation. _ Again and again I have stated that the Government have refused as a Ministry to consider appointments under the High Court Bill, the Inter- State Commission Bill, or any other of those great measures under which offices must be created, until those Bills were either passed or as good as passed. And for these reasons - that wherever in the effort to pass such legislation you allow these matters to be too closely discussed beforehand, and a set of people outside, we will say, are on the alert for the purpose of securing offices for their friends, you may create an undercurrent of feeling which renders it difficult to pass your legislation in the impartial form which it should assume.


Mr Reid - Surely that would not happen in connexion with the Judges of the High Court ?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I say that it is a general principle of legislation that the Government upon whom it devolves to make appointments should not make known beforehand who are to be appointed, but should wait until the legislation is practically secure before it mentions names in that connexion ; and I have repeatedly said - and this applies to Senator O'Connor as well as to any one else - that not a name has been allowed to be mentioned in Cabinet in connexion with any one of those appointments. Therefore, so much for the alleged delay with respect to the High Court Bill. The Inter- State Commission Bill stands much in the same position. But we must recollect this with regard to both of them - that there was an amount of opposition displayed towards them in the early stages of the session. But now that events have developed in the Commonwealth', and that their nature has been more closely examined, they stand in a different position. We approach these questions now in a much cooler temperature, and both of them have a much better chance of passing as satisfactory measures. But we were told that while we failed to push on these two measures, about one of which my right honorable friend has given forth three such remarkably variegated opinions, there were two others which we unduly hastened. That was, the taking over of the two transferred departments which have passed into our hands in addition "to the Customs department. Our view on that subject after full discussion in Cabinet was this : The question was - was it better to pass Bills regulating the transferred departments before assuming their administration, or to take over their administration as a prelude ; to passing the Bills? We decided, after having fully considered the question - and this has been explained over and over again, but the explanation seems to have been forgotten or lost sight of - that it was rather futile to expect to have a sufficient knowledge of the working of any transferred department unless some Federal Minister were in the position to administer it, and to gain a practical knowledge of what was required in the way of legislation. I take it, that in doing that we have acted upon a sound and wise principle, and that in the case of departments involving considerable study, such as those of the Post-office and Defence, it was light and just to take them over and investigate their working before bringing forward any measure that would afterwards stand or fall by its application to the needs of the community:


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is what the Government did not do.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - That is precisely , what we did do. The honorable member forgets that, although the Post and Telegraph and Defence departments were taken over on 1st March, 1901, it was months afterwards before measures were introduced to deal with those departments, and they were not introduced until the Ministers had endeavoured to satisfy themselves of what was required. Although we got no further than passing the second reading of the Defence Bill without a division, still there was a valuable discussion of its provisions - a discussion which elicited opinions which were an additional guidance, no doubt, to the Minister, superadded to that which he could gain from administering the department ; and perhaps one is not sorry that the opportunity of further consideration has been gained. But if that is so, it again emphasizes the wisdom of a Minister being permitted to familiarize himself with a transferred department from six States before he begins to legislate about it.


Mr Thomson - Will the same thing apply to patents ?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - It may not apply to patents, because the determination of the principles to be laid down in such a measure do not involve the same amount of actual daily experience in the working of the department, which needs much less administration than the others. But it does involve the laying down of certain broad principles under which inventors may beneficially exercise their talent and their ingenuity. The Customs department was automatically transferred by the Constitution. It was possible to take over before legislation four other departments - Postoffice, Defence, Quarantine, and Lighthouses, with their adjuncts. Patents are not included in that list, and it is impossible to effect a transfer of the Patents department without legislation. That, therefore, places the Patents department in a totally different position from the others to which I have been alluding. If we wish to take over any other department besides the Customs and the four others named in the Constitution, we can only effect that transfer by legislation, and until then we cannot administer the department in any shape or form. That is the clearly understood line of demarcation between what was possible with the transferred or transferable departments, and those which can only be transferred by legislation. I am indebted to my honorable friend for calling my attention to. that point, because it helps to make matters clear. The leader of the Opposition has made some references to my speech in Tasmania, which, out of fair play and by way of balance, I have already counterpoised by making reference to one speech of his. He says that I charged the Opposition with having caused the loss of the tea duty. What I pointed out was that a large number- of members of the Opposition voted or paired against the tea duty, although according to their tenets it was one of the most legitimate duties which could be imposed.


Sir Edward Braddon - Did not the right honorable and learned gentleman say that the leader of the Opposition, iri combination with the labour party, threw out the tea duty?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I said that a number of the members of the Opposition voting with him, combined with the labour party, for that purpose, and that that was the main reason why the tea duty was defeated, and so it was.


Sir Edward Braddon - That the leader of the Opposition combined with the labour party to defeat the tea duty ?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - Undoubtedly. I do not mean to say by any treaty or compact. The air is full of accusations against us of combining with the labour party, when we had neither compact, nor treaty, nor negotiation with them ; and in the same sense Ave can charge the right honorable and learned member and a number of his supporters with combining in the same way, and that is - to put it politely to them - taking their opportunity whenever they found it to defeat the opposite party by such a combination of votes.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The acting leader of the Opposition made a strong speech in favour of the tea duty.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - Who says not 1 He could be relied on.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then what is the use of saying these things ?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I have not the slightest doubt but that the honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, will always vote for a tea duty. It is put before the House that it was by the defection of a number of our own supporters that the tea duty was lost. Let us look and see what element had the stronger effect in producing the result. I am now quoting the names of gentlemen who are not in the third party so as to show what the result was as between the Government and the direct Opposition. Of the members who voted against the tea duty, and who belonged to the protectionist party, counting pairs, there were eight. Of the members of the direct Opposition and acknowledged free-traders who voted against the tea duty, counting pairs, there were ten.


Mr O'Malley - How many of the steerage party ?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I do not know, and I have only one remark to make about the question of steering from the steerage - that, judging from some of the things we have seen in the press in the recess, and a little of that which we have heard to-night, there is a more malodorous part of a ship than the steerage, but from which the other ship can just as easily be steered, and that is the bilge. I have shown that the number of votes and pairs coming from the direct Opposition against the tea duty was larger than the number of defections from the Government side, so that their action was more than counterbalanced by the action of the right honorable and learned member and his friends. But he admitted that it was a legitimate duty. If it was a legitimate duty, and his desire was to adopt legitimate duties, and try to knock out what he called illegitimate duties, why did he not vote for the tea duty and redouble his efforts to knock out the illegitimate duties?


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The night before the Treasurer came down with a statement to the effect that the Government were going to receive under the Tariff £475,000 more than was originally estimated, and that is the reason why the Opposition voted against the tea duty.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - That is a totally unnecessary interruption, because it does not affect the argument I am addressing to the House.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is true all the same


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I notice that the honorable member becomes peculiarly lively in interruptions whenever he is disconcerted, and he is following his usual policy to-night.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I only know that you tried to rob the people by imposing taxation.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - Is that a parliamentary expression, sir ?


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member for Macquarie will have an opportunity of speaking later on.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I do not make charges of that kind. I do not even say that anybody in the House who makes certain unworthy and disgraceful references to a political opponent is trying to cheat the people.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did not wish to say anything offensive to the right honorable and learned gentleman. What I wished to imply by my statement in regard to his robbing the people was this--


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member can only offer an explanation when there is no honorable member addressing the House.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - We are told ' that I made that reference in my speech in Tasmania because tea is a strong line in that State. It may be a strong line there. I know that Tasmania has a very considerable shortage of Customs revenue having regard to what she requires. . That shows very strongly that the present Tariff is not higher than that formerly in operation there.


Mr Thomson - That has nothing whatever to do with the matter.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - Then the Tariff revision phrase has no application. Now if tea is a " strong line" in Tasmania, the railway is a "strong line " in Western Australia, and I shall show honorable members what the right honorable gentleman, who has attacked the Government, has had to say about the Western Australian railway project. If I recollect aright, he said that he had always spoken, in favour of thisrailway, and yet I remember a time when he expressed certain other opinions to an interviewer of the Sydney Daily Telegraph as reported in that newspaper on the 15th January, 1901. Before any Ministerial manifesto had been largely discussed, but after I had made some statements to an interviewer, this report appeared in the Daily Telegraph -

Mr. Reid.regards Mr. Barton's assurance that the Government will shortly consider the question of building a railway from Western Australia to South Australia as nothing but a political trick intended to influence the Western Australian vote.

That was a splendid way for the right honorable gentleman to express himself in favour of the project.


Mr Reid - I believe there is a good deal of that element still. I should like to see a little less talk and a little more work.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - We can understand the right honorable and very disorderly member when he says before this matter comes into the Ministerial manifesto, that any mention of it is a trick to deceive the electors of Western Australia. We can understand him and his sincerity most perfectly when, after this matter has been made the subject of a Ministerial pronouncement, he goes to Western Australia and accuses the Government of not being sufficiently expeditious, at the same time telling the people that he would build the railway, engineer or no engineer. His utterances on this subject are even more variegated than his statements regarding the High Court Bill. One' day the mere mention of the matter is a political trick to deceive the electors, but when the right honorable gentleman goes to Western Australia, where the railway is, to quote his own words, a "strong line," he represents that if he had anything to do with it he would build the railway without reference to engineers or any one else. This is the gentleman who talks about a political trick. Now I can reply to the right honorable gentleman in his own words - " Why should he forget facts so far?" In reference to the tea duty, the right honorable gentleman charges the Government with subservience to the labour party because the honorable member for Bland said he would divide the House against the Government on the question of the recommittal of the duty. The answer to that charge is that the Government considered the question for themselves. They considered whether they had a reasonable chance of securing the recommittal of the duty during the then current session.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about the salt duty ?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - The honorable member can talk to the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Solomon, about that. The position of the Government regarding the tea duty was that they very carefully examined the whole question. Although a statement had been made by the Treasurer as to the probable results of the Tariff, the honorable member for Macquarie, if he looked into federal questions as federal questions, would soon con.prehend that the revenue raised under the Tariff must be relative to a large extent to the financial needs of the various States. With a tea duty the financial positions of Queensland and Tasmania would have been very largely improved, and, although the duty would give much larger returns to some of the States which did not need revenue, it was the anxious desire of the Government to so adjust the revenue with duties like that on tea and other articles, that the more necessitous States would receive a greater financial return, and be relieved to a large extent from the effects of the shortage that would otherwise ensue. The Government were very anxious to recommit the duty with this object, and I now frankly confess, as I did at the time, that when we came to consider the matter, we thought that it would take a very long time, and that it was very doubtful whether the recommittal would be agreed to. What the Government felt, therefore, and what I then stated, was that we should wait until we could see whether the revenue returns showed any necessity for the duty. We were prepared to await the result of the operation of the Tariff without the duty for some months. Our intention, therefore, was not to bring it up again .during that session, but to observe the working of the Tariff. If it showed, as we were afraid that it might after a time, a diminished revenue, we could then ask the House to reconsider its determination. The Tariff returns, however, as the Governor-General's speech has shown, are very satisfactory.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That shows that we were right after all.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - It does not show that the honorable member was right. The Tariff receipts have turned out very satisfactory, and it is anticipated that sufficient revenue can be secured and that unnecessary financial embarrassment to the States can be avoided, although we were very much afraid that without the tea and other duties such embarrassment would ensue.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That shows that we had a better knowledge than had the Government.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I do not think so. The honorable member for Macquarie is one of the best oppositionists of whom I know. I never knew him to neglect an opportunity of embarrassing the other side, irrespective altogether of financial forecasts. I am not sure that it may not transpire at any time that there are occasions when a gentleman who may be absent from this House, and who does not quite know what questions may turn up in his absence, acting in full reliance in the sagacity of the whip of his party, allows that whip to decide how his pair shall go. In reference to the Immigration Restriction Act, the honorable member for East Sydney has fallen foul of a passage in the speech which I delivered in Sydney about a month ago. The right honorable gentleman has purported to quote from the report in the Sydney Morning Herald. I shall give honorable members the full quotation of that part of my speech as it was reported in the newspaper referred to. I stated -

The attempt to defeat the Immigration Restriction Act was no attempt on behalf of the labour party -

I think I said " no insidious attempt," because they acted on what they thought was a just principle.

As far as they were concerned, they were al ways in favour of direct exclusion. I then" went on to say -

But the Opposition tried to defeat the Act, because they were leagued with those who want cheap labour throughout the Commonwealth.

The phrase which I have quoted is the right honorable gentleman's subject of attack, and it is supposed that I am accusing him of entering into a combination--


Mr Reid - An unholy combination.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I do not find the words " unholy combination " in the report.


Mr Reid - I saw them there yesterday.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - It is very strange that I do not find them. However, they may be there, and in the meantime I will allow that they are there. What I wish to say is that it was as easily understood by my audience as* it will be easily understood by those who sit. around me, that one constant ground of opposition by protectionists to the policy of free-trade is that the industries and the manufactures of a country cannot be well carried on without cheap labour unless there is a Tariff to protect them. With such a Tariff we could do without cheap labour, and in the absence of such a Tariff we could do without cheap labour ; but in the latter . ' case we should not have the manufactures which our country desires and needs. There is a choice of two things - protection, at a reasonable rate of wages, and free-trade, with cheap importation, which must necessarily drive wages down. In this connexion nothing could have been better expressed than was the utterance of the Secretary of State for the Colonies the other day, when he referred to the fact that it was immaterial whether the people of England could secure goods cheaply, if their workers had not the money with which to pay for them.


Mr Reid - The workers were never in a better position than they are to-day.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - Again st the conclusion of the right honorable member I prefer to take that of' the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I hope he will excuse me for making the preference, because I do so in no disrespectful spirit. Every protectionist regards the free-trade party, unless its members are false to its tenets, as being anxious to obtain the benefit of cheap labour. With cheap importations endangering their manufactures, how can they carry them to a successful conclusion without importing a class of labour which enters too cheaply into competition with their own, and which, while it enables their manufactures to be carried on for the benefit of the manufacturers,- does not in any sense allow their own working people to participate in those benefits 1 That is the position of the protectionist . as against that of the free-trader. When I speak of the right honorable and learned member being in league with those who desire cheap labour throughout the Commonwealth, it is because I cannot conceive of a free-trade policy being carried out in this country without its necessarily having the effect of decreasing the rate of wages in manufactures to such an extent that it is impossible to carry on those enterprises with our own people, and only possible to do so by importing those below our own standard. That may be a wrong view to take - probably it is, in the opinion of my right honorable friend - but it is honestly my view, and one which I took leave to express. If my right honorable friend thinks it conveyed any personal imputation, I can assure him that no such thing was intended, and if it had that effect on the minds of my hearers I should be very sorry indeed.


Mr Reid - If it was merely a protectionist wheeze I do not mind a bit.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - A protectionist wheeze is sometimes better than a free-trade gasp. What I was saying of the right honorable and learned member was this - that, he had really allied himself in speech and division with those who, honestly enough on their part, proposed an amendment which he, from his own experience, must have seen would have endangered the passage of the Immigration Restriction Bill. I wished to pass an effective measure. I knew that the passage of any measure in which the colour line was sharply drawn - that is, a measure the object of which was direct exclusion - would, if we could place any reliance on the statements made to my right honorable friend and the other Premiers who were present at the Imperial Conference in 1S97, be endangered, and that even if it were passed it would be only at the price of embarrassment to the Empire in its internal and external relations. That was my honest opinion, as it was also that of my right honorable and learned friend, because when he went to England in 1897 he had already submitted to the New South Wales Parliament a Bill containing a distinct provision for the exclusion of coloured races. I think that he had actually passed the measure, and that it was reserved for the Royal assent. If my recollection be correct, it had not been distinctly disallowed b}' the Home Government when the Imperial Conference met. At that gathering, however Mr. Chamberlain made a speech to the assembled Premiers pointing out that the internal and external relations of the Empire would alike be embarrassed 'by the passing of any immigration restriction measure which drew an express colour line. He referred to the Act which had been passed in Natal - unfortunately too late for many practical purposes - and suggested to the Premiers from the self-governing colonies that upon their return, if they wished to pass any measure of the sort, it should be upon the lines of that Act, instead of containing provision for the direct exclusion of. coloured races.


Mr Reid - He never made any such remark to me.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - That does, not matter if what I have stated is the substance of that which the Secretary of State for the Colonies declared and published for the benefit of the Australian Premiers.


Mr Reid - He never said that an Actwould not be passed unless we did what hetold us.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - No. But. that the right honorable and learned member himself entertained grave doubt whetherany such measure would be assented to is. evidenced by the fact that upon his return to Australia he introduced and passed a. Bill upon the lines of the Natal Act, despitethe fact that he had previously carried in the New South Wales Parliament a measurecontaining provision for the direct exclusion of coloured races, and one which had not. been assented to by the Imperial authorities. That the right honorable and learned member apprehended what the fate of that measure would be unless he acted upon theadvice which was 'tendered to him is perfectly clear from the fact that he came back to Australia and passed a Bill on the linesof the Natal Act.


Mr Reid - As a mere makeshift.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - The right, honorable and learned member says that he> did so because New South Wales was tooweak to insist upon the passage of a Bill containing provision for the direct exclusion of coloured races, whereas the Commonwealth could have insisted upon the passage of such a measure. But I would point out that if the effect of such action on the part of the Commonwealth was likely to embarrass theEmpire within and without, that was not a laudable ambition. After what the right honorable member has said to-night about the Empire; after the glowing periods in which he has praised its progress, and offered up his deepest vows and wishes for its integrity, is it conceivable that in the face of an assurance from Mr. Chamberlain of the nature I have indicated - an assurance which did not depend upon Mr. Chamber. Iain's strength or weakness, but upon theinternal and external relations of the Empire - he should, having done one thing when he was Premier of New South Wales, be ready to do another as leader of the

Opposition in the Commonwealth Parliament ? Surely that position could not be justified. When I hear talk about " Yes, Mr. Chamberlain," who was it, I ask, who said "Yes, Mr. Chamberlain" in 1897 ? Who was it that came back to Australia and passed the very measure which the Secretary of State for the Colonies had advised 1 If that was not a case of "Yes, Mr. Chamberlain," then from what mouth does such a statement proceed? The right honorable member said - "Yes, Mr. Chamberlain " in practice, but when an amendment was moved from the Opposition, it was then " Yes, Mr. Watson " came in. When the right honorable member was near Mr. Chamberlain it was "Yes, Mr. Chamberlain," and he was very close to Mr. Watson when it was "Yes, Mr. Watson."


Mr Reid - I often say " yes " to the honorable member for Bland ; he is a very decent fellow.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - No doubt the right honorable member would like to see a little more of the honorable member for Bland. Of course there was no compact ; it was only that the right -honorable member and the honorable member for Bland fortuitously and extraordinarily happened during five years to vote the same way. That, of course, was not " steering from the steerage."


Mr Reid - No, it was not.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - It was not, because what the right honorable member calls " the steerage," he had cheek by jowl with him in the saloon.


Mr Reid - That is where labour ought always to be.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - Then why call the labour party " the steerage ?" However the right honorable member tries to change about, it only means that every further reference causes another wriggle.


Mr Reid - Oh, that is evident.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - It is true, and cannot be denied. So much then for this attack on the Immigration Restriction Act. We all know the right honorable member's history in relation to this matter. It is like all other parts of his history - and I say this in all kindness - in that it is absolutely consistent and true to the prevailing description of his acts and policy - it is a " Yes- No " policy.


Mr Reid - I have done more in two years in a straight line than the Prime d 2

Minister could do all. his life. I have done something for the country to which I belong.


Mr SPEAKER - I must ask honorable members not to so frequently interrupt speakers. I have called attention to this breach of order once before to-day, and do not wish to have to do so again.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I should not mind the interruptions so much if they did not take up time. AVe are told that the Government acted in subservence to a British Minister - that we adopted the policy we did in this Act because of an intimation received from that Minister. But it was conclusively shown by the AttorneyGeneral last session that this charge was absolutely unfounded, and I am more than astonished that it should be renewed. The right honorable member was told, and it was proved - I believe the draft was brought to the table - that before the despatch was received from Mr. Chamberlain the Bill was in draft containing this clause.


Mr Deakin - It was in print.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - And when the proof is in cold print and the right honorable member has been confronted with it, what excuse is there for renewing a charge of this kind?


Mr Reid - I did not make any such charge. The Attorney-General is quite right in what he says regarding the facts. What I said was that no Government should come to this House to discuss a Bill, having previously submitted themselves to the Secretary of State for the Colonies for his approval of the lines on which it was to be carried out.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - The answer to that is that the Government had "committed themselves in one if not more drafts of the Bill long before Mr. Chamberlain's despatch came. The Government had thinkingly and deliberately adopted the policy before the despatch, which was supposed to have influenced it, was ever penned. That, I think, is a complete answer to' the charge. As a matter of fact, the right honorable member based his criticism on a note which I had written on the margin of the despatch, and which I showed him. That note was made on the receipt of the despatch, and it was to the effect that the Government did not contemplate in the intended Bill to lay down any lines other than those mentioned in the despatch. But why did I say that? Because the Bill was there in print, and when we. had already adopted a policy which was in consonance with the despatch, it is too bad to renew an accusation which has already been refuted in clear and set terms by a Minister of tho Crown. Reference has been made to what Senator O'Connor said as reported on page 127 of Mansard; and his speech was correctly quoted. All I have to say is that that speech was made ou the 10th of May, shortly after the beginning of the session, and at that time, as I have stated, the Bill was already in draft and in the same form as now. Senator O'Connor, in replying to a question, seems to have made a mistake in saying or implying that there would be a direct exclusion of aliens, while there would be an educational test applied tocoloured people who were British subjects.That was not the policy of the Government as laid down in the Bill ; and the matter escaped my attention, or I should have pointed out the provisions to Senator O'Connor. We all knowthataMinisterinthe opening days of the session may, in the same way as an oppositionist, have a somewhat confused idea of a measure which he has only once read. At the same time I can repeat the assurance to the House that the policy of the measure was actually settled before the session began. 1 come now to my right honorable friend's utterances in reference to the Tariff. It is rather peculiar how as time goes on the policy of the right honorable member undergoes the " sweating process '' - how intended devastation is expressed in lurid terms at the beginning! how the policy is whittled down a little as it is seen to be unpopular, and how at last, 'when he comes into the House, and when hehas probably reflected that he has no more chance of carrying a policy of the kind here thanhe would have out of doors, it becomes attenuated. What has the right honorable gentleman said previously on this matter ? When he came back from Western Australia on the 1 2th of January he gave an interview 'to a representative of the Sydney Morning Herald. In that interview he said -

He was going to make free-trade his battle cry.

That does not mean a reduction of some of the protective duties, but means freetrade.


Mr Reid - It means a revenue Tariff.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - No j freetrade is the . wiping out of protective duties, and this is what the right honorable member for five year* in New South Wales constantly defined as free-trade. While the wiping out went on merrily employes began' to think, "It is a good thing because it makes goods very cheap : but I wish we had a little more money to buy what we see in the shops." In the course of the interview the right honorable member went on to say-

He was going to make " free-trade " his battlecry, and from that policy he had resolved to make no deviation, not even if it cost his party defeat at the next general election. He did not want to get into office by anyside issue.

There the right honorable member was like the policeman in the Pirates qf Penzance, who sang - '

We find the wisest thing

Is to slap your chests and sing -

Tar-an-ta-ra.

Then in reference to the Tariff the right honorable member said -

If returned to power at the next electious, my object will be to disturb the Tariff as little as possible.

That is very nice !

But there are so many duties on the present Tariff which are clearly imposed in order to . destroy the revenue, that drastic alterations would bo necessary.

Does the right honorable member mean to assert that what he has said to the House to-night implies that there will be " drastic alterations" in the Tariff if he his the chance of making them ?


Mr Reid - Absolutely; that is to say I should bring the Tariff down to a revenue basis.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - It is a good thing that I have read those extracts, because the right honorable member did not venture to say anything like what he has just now said until he was challenged by the printed testimony to his two attitudes.


Mr Reid - It is the same thing.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - It. is not the same thing. If duties in the Tariff are to be deprived of their protective effect, we shall surely have the assertion from my right honorable friend that he will be consistent. Let him carry out his policy if he gets a chance, though I do not think that that is coming yet. Then the first thing he would have to do would be to balance the import duty on sugar by an excise duty of £6 per ton. That would be a splendid thing for the revenue. All the sugar that -would be used would be imported sugar, and would pay the import duty. But not even the kanaka would be able to grow sugar-cane then. If the sugar-growing industry would not be a white man's industry, it would also be too poor to be a black man's industry. There would be plenty of revenue coming in from the import duty upon sugar, but there would be no utilization of the cane fields, which were surely destined by nature to be of use to us, unless, perhaps, the right honorable gentleman thinks they may be turned into dairy farms. Under his system, there would be no chance of carrying out a white Australia policy unless the perennial and eternal barrenness of the cane land was coupled with the exclusion of coloured aliens. As a freetrader, he must make his excise duty equal to his import duty, and to do such a thing would put an end to the sugar industry. Of course, it would have this advantage, . which should not be readily forgotten, that the cane fields could not be utilized for sugar growing by black labour, since not even the black man could then live by sugar growing. We have taken different measures - measures which' secure the employment of our own people and the exclusion of those whom it is not thought desirable to have in our country. We have . found that the only effective way to do that is to allow a margin between the excise and the import duties, which will give an opportunity to our brothers and fellow countrymen to ply their avocations and receive a profitable return for their labours. Now we are asked to adopt, by the revision of the Tariff, a policy which, if carried out with the smallest spark of honest}', would reverse what we have already achieved, and destroy the sugar industry. When the right honorable gentleman next addresses the House upon the subject of free-trade, let him definitely state his position upon this matter. He may be inclined to say that he would justify what he proposes on the ground of high policy. Those words are often used to cover a multitude of sius. I heard them used a little while ago in Tasmania, when a certain distinguished gentleman from that State, who sits upon the opposition benches, and consequently supports free-trade to the best of his ability, was asked whether, if his party came into office, they would remove the duty upon

New Zealand potatoes and oats. His reply was - " No. We should be against the removal of that duty from motives of high policy." So the farmers of Tasmania are compelled to derive their notions of " high policy " from the prohibition of the importation of potatoes and oats.


Mr PAGE (MARANOA, QUEENSLAND) - Who said that?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - No doubt the statement will be owned by the right honorable gentleman who will probably follow me.


Sir Edward Braddon - Is the right honorable member referring to me ?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - It is " only a little one." We and those who support us shut out New Zealand potatoes and oats from this market, and we do so because we say that that is part of our policy. But when the free-trader is asked if he would shut them out he says "Yes"; and when asked "Why?" he answers, "From motives of high policy." That is not protection ! We have this policy applied to potatoes and oats in one State, and to- sugar in another. No wonder theirs is a threelegged policy, which has not the virtues even of a quadruped. The right honorable gentleman who made the utterance to which I refer was not asked any further questions ; but he might have been asked whether, if they grew potatoes and oats in a place as far off as Buenos Ayres, he would shut those productions out of the Commonwealth. Perhaps if he had been asked that question he would still have replied "Yes." The " high policy " on the Tasmanian coast is the interest of the farmer there. He is to be protected on that ground, while every one else may be left to starve. That is not my view of an Australian policy, though my notions on the subject are pretty high. However, we can leave these excuses to be dealt with by the operation of the opposing acids and alkalies which they contain, which may form new chemical combinations, but will not lead to a successful political combination. Referring to the Tariff question, the leader of the Opposition said that -

They proposed to take items in the Tariff which were intended to destroy revenue,and reduce them so as to raise revenue.

He was reading certain figures from a protectionist journal, at which he is obviously not afraid to laugh, so that it cannot have the terrors for him which he supposes it to possess for others. There is no doubt a high moral courage about the right honorable gentleman which is apparent sometimes when he wants to gird at a political opponent, but is not so apparent when he wishes to enter into a combination which may be of advantage to his party. Leaving that matter alone for a minute, he wants to raise the fiscal question, because.it was not a fair issue at the general elections, and he raises what he has dignified by the title of an "old wheeze" with reference to my utterances at Maitland. I have remained silent long enough in this House on the subject of my Maitland speech, because I did not want to join in an absolute saturnalia of waste of time. Those utterances were before "the public, and the assertion that I have deceived the public required no refutation from me. But let me go back to those utterances to see whether it is not true that the issue- was fought out, and fought out fairly, at the general elections. Take one of the utterances which have been most quoted -

Revenue we must have - that is the allimportant consideration - because without that revenue the State will not be advantaged but cursed by federation.

That we must all admit -

The Commonwealth must pay its way, help the States to pay their way, study their every detail, distribute the barden justly, and do no mischief. That is the task now before my honorable friend, Mr. Kingston. He is capable of performing it. But it cannot be pei formed with any such notion of revenue Tariff as we have been hearing of in all the capitals of Australia. The situation forced upon us can be forced upon any Government. Do not mistake me when I say that the situation forces itself upon us. I am a protectionist, and so are nearly all my colleagues. But if we are to raise a great revenue for the security of the Federation, then we cannot be prohibitionists, and our protection must be moderate, because prohibition or exclusive protection would lead to a prevention of that access of revenue which is necessary for the proper government of the country.

It is the constant cry of my honorable friends opposite that the operation of the Tariff, reduced as the duties have been, is to raise a revenue sufficient for the needs of the country. If, as they say, protection prevents the raising of revenue for the needs of the country, how can they assert that this is a Tariff the revenue from which would be increased by great reductions in the rate of duties ?


Sir Edward Braddon - May I ask which of the right honorable member's colleagues are not protectionists? He says that "nearly all " of them are protectionists.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I say that nearly all of them are so,more or less. I have already shown that the right honorable gen tieman and the leader of the Opposition are free-traders only more or less, and decidedly less when local interests are concerned. I know at whom the shaft is aimed, because it comes from an old rival and political opponent of one who was sometimes a Ministerial colleague of my right honorable friend, Sir Edward Braddon. The right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, believes in a duty on potatoes and oats, only against New Zealand of course, because that is a matter of high policy. My honorable friend and colleague, Sir Philip Fysh, believes in the Tariff which we brought down, because as it was introduced it fulfilled the proposals of the Maitland speech in providing for the necessary revenue without destruction of industries. How can any one argue for a moment that a man who lays down a policy of obtaining sufficient revenue, coupled with moderate protection, is not putting before the country the fact that he intends to bring in a protectionist tariff? Let me read a few lines more from my Maitland speech : -

But if we are to raise a great revenue for the security of the federation, then we cannot be prohibitionists, and our protection must be moderate because prohibition, or exclusive protection, would lead to a prevention of that access of revenue which is necessary for the proper government of the country. Australia has known tariffs for many years in sill the States. There has been more or less protection even in New South Wales, and there is still £3 per ton on .sugar. Who left it there ? What is it there foE ? Are we to abolish that protection now, and begin the prosperity of the union by ruining our northern farmers ?

The policy that was laid down was this : In the first instance, it was pointed out that direct taxation would be no part of the policy of the Government, because it professed its desire - and very sincerely professed it - that the States, as far as possible, should be left the opportunity of imposing direct taxation to make up any shortages which might occur in their own finances. It was not that direct taxation was an undesirable thing, but that it ought to be a reserve and resort for the States to make up any shortages that might occur under the Tariff. The Government also laid down the principle that it would not only try to raise all the revenue that the Commonwealth required for its own government and for the necessary returns to the States out of the

Tariff, but that it should couple with that a policy of refusing to destroy industries which had grown up in the States. It must be remembered that, with diverse tariff policies in half-a-dozen States, it must happen that industries have grown up in one State which under a different policy have not grown up in another. If it were possible to make six tariffs, it would be possible to maintain an industry in the State where it existed. When we have, however, to make a policy for the whole six States, it follows as a matter of course that, while maintaining protection to an industry which has grown up in one State, we are giving the very opportunity for its creation in another State where it has not previously existed. That must necessarily be the result of any tariff which pursues the two objects of revenue with protection, and the refusal to destroy an industry in one State must mean the encouragement of a similar manufacture or production in the others. From this it must have been perfectly obvious to any one with any degree of fairness in his composition who read my speech, that we intended a protective policy, and that we, being protectionists, did not desire to see that policy operating in one State and not operating in another. The Tariff must be uniform, and the things which could not be produced in a State owing to its former Tariff may, in the future, constitute new industries in that State, although not new to other parts of the Commonwealth. That was the course of reasoning which lay behind all the argument to which reference has been made, and an assertion that the Tariff, even as it was brought down by the Government, was in any degree in opposition to that course of reasoning, is not only unfair, but is one of those many statements which people try to convince themselves and others are true by the frequency with which they make them.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why did the right honorable gentleman's chairman give up his policy ?


Sir EDMUND BARTON - Because he was not as intelligent as he might have been.


Mr Reid - He resigned from the right honorable gentleman's committee.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - He was the only member of my committee who left it, and therefore, with one exception, the whole committee understood the speech which I made, and adopted the principles laid down in it.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But the chairman of the right honorable gentleman's committee resigned.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - Has the honorable member never lost a member of his committee 1 He has had from time to time' a good many of them on the committees of his opponents. The honorable member voted against federation, and he lost his constituency. We can leave it at that.


Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I won back my constituency, notwithstanding the right honorable gentleman's opposition.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - No imputations of motives, if the honorable member pleases. Having read that passage from my speech, it now remains for us to consider whether those who, with their leader, cried out, were ever misled. Let us find out whether they were.


Mr Reid - I was not misled.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - I shall utilize that confession in a minute or two in a way that the right honorable gentleman may not like. My right honorable friend, on the 7th March of the same year - after this speech had been delivered - said -

But look at the unscrupulous attitude -

I do not like to say that this is a case of Satan reproving sin - which the Prime Minister of Austrafia adopts. He chooses a red-hot protectionist Ministry to carry out protection to the bitter end - if chey are strong enough - aud yet he is constantly trying to persuade the free-traders that really if they support him everything will come out in the end just the same as if they supported me.

I did not attempt to persuade the freetraders ; but I do say that a policy such as I laid down, and such as was embodied in the Tariff which I introduced, might well have commanded the support of those who desire to sec the union of this country continued with justice to the history and the future of the several States. This was the object with which I brought forward that manifesto. It was equally the object with which the Tariff was brought down, and that Tariff as introduced was lower than any other known protectionist Tariff in the world. Honorable members of the Opposition said, " Why don't you do as Canada does % There is a free-trade Premier in Canada. He has carried out free-trade in that important

Dominion. Why do you not follow in his footsteps in this Federation ?" We published our Tariff side by side with the Canadian Tariff, and one was about twice as high as the other. Suddenly, after that publication, all the talk about Canada ceased. Up to that time the free-trade Prime Minister of Canada was being belauded to the skies because he had adopted a policy which was practically the only policy that could have held that State together and protectee! it from destruction. Free-trader as he is in theory, he is that sort of protectionist ; and I am that sort of protectionist. The passage which I have quoted shows that the leader of the Opposition knew that a protectionist Tariff would be brought down. The right honorable gentleman did not mistake my words, and my words convey no other implication than that. The right honorable gentleman said much more- as he generally does - than I have quoted. He made this statement -

Mr. Bartonis still half hearted

I do not know how he found that out - but his position is unmistakable, if his language is not. He figured at the protectionist- gathering at the Australia Hotel the other day, and witnessed the large subscriptions handed in by protectionist manufacturers in support of the campaign, and surely he did not take those moneys other than as a contribution tax in support of a protectionist compaign.

Why, in every speech in that campaign I said that the policy of the Government would be a protectionist one -

The manifesto of his own association has now been published. It is the manifesto of the association formed by Sir Edmund Barton at the Hotel Australia, an association of which he is the president.

That manifesto was a protectionist one and I claim as I have claimed all the time from the day of its utterance, that the Maitland speech was a protectionist one. But what is more to the purpose is this : That the honorable gentleman was not misled, as he said the issue must be free-trade and protection. Now what does that involve? On the 9th January, 1901, before any of these utterances, and even before my manifesto, the right honorable gentleman used these words in an interview at Launceston, and we shall see how they contrast with the attitude he has assumed this afternoon -

It was the desire on all hands, and it was in the interests of every one connected with industries, that the fiscal question should be settled as soon as possible, and settled finally now. If it was. not made the issue of the first election, the defeated party could claim that the matter had not been fought out, and could keep up an incessant feeling of unrest that would seriously affect commercial interests. The general desire is to fight the question out once and for all, and so leave future sessions free for such matters of pressing concern as may come up for consideration.

What was the right honorable gentleman'sopinion then? Even before I made my speech it was that the clear issue was freetrade and protection, and after I made it he raised the same issue, and in another speech,, which it is, perhaps, unnecessary to quote, he said that any free-trader would be a traitor who did not vote against the Government. Did he expect, then, any other policy than that which was brought down ? From his own confession he did not. How, then, do the right honorable gentleman and his friends stand with reference to their charge against me of having deceived the country ? They knew, from my references to the composition of the Ministry and to the fact that there must be protection, though it must be moderate - and it was moderate to the extent of being lower than any other protectionist Tariff we know of - they knew from these facts that while there would have to be a large revenue collected, the Tariff must be a protectionist Tariff, and from that position from that day to this neither I nor any of my colleagues has ever wavered. .How, then, can it be said that the issue was not before the country ? And if the issue was fairly before the country, what is the answer to be made by any one, including himself, to the words of the right honorable gentlemen, when he said that if it were not made the issue of the first election, the defeated party could claim that the matter had not been fought out, and could keep up an incessant feeling of unrest that would seriously affect commercial interests. It has been made the issue of the first election, the defeated party cannot claim that it has not been fought out, and the members of that party are, therefore, not justified, in the words of their leader, " in keeping up an incessant feeling of unrest, which will seriously affect commercial interests." Isa\', therefore, that to talk of making this Tariff the issue of the general election over again, and to talk of making alterations, which will be drastic, no matter how the right honorable gentleman tries to whittle away his words, is a policy which stands condemned in the extract which I have quoted from his speech. The right honorable gentleman Said enough in that interview to show that it would be a most injuriousand improper thing for this country to have to go through the fiscal struggle again. He has shown in what he said there, and from his own confessions at this table to-night that he cannot complain that he was misled or that he understood the issue in any sense other than that in which it was raised and fought out ; and having been so raised and fought out, he will deserve every condemnation which he has stated if he attempts to raise it again at the next election.


Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is the people who will raise it, and not the right honorable gentleman.


Sir EDMUND BARTON - The honorable member has got into a very bad habit. He makes so many speeches, many of them very interesting ones, in this House, that he has got into the habit, which persons get who are talking all the time, of thinking that he isthe people. Now I may leave that question of the Tariff issue, except to point out that it is not a justification for saying that the country should be torn asunder again by the fiscal issue being raised at the general election, to admit that this Tariff is not all that this Ministry could have wished it to be. There are some of the duties which have been reduced which we could have wished had not been reduced. Some duties have been abolished which, for the sake of some of the States, the Government could have wished not to have been abolished. But it is still a Tariff which raises a large revenue. It might be more beneficial to one or two of the States if it raised something more--


Sir Edward Braddon - Hear, hear !


Sir EDMUND BARTON - My right honorable friend cheers me very properly, but it is a Tariff which combines, although not so fully as the Government could have wished, the double principle of revenue without destruction. We find it in accordance with our policy to that extent, and we are therefore perfectly consistent with that policy in refusing now to allow it to be disturbed. As the honorable member for South Sydney has said, the people can make a revision and they can enforce it. The whole question may be raised at the general election, when that comes, if the people wish it, but those who raise it improvident!}', and those ' who raise it to the injury of the country, and against the fair meaning of their own utterances, will be judged by the people, and I have no fear of the result. My right honorable friend was, if I may use an every-day simile, " barking up the wrong tree" with reference to the gentleman named Mr. Martin. It is enough to ' say that neither is Mr. Martin nor was he ever a chief electoral officer. He never was proposed as a chief electoral officer, and Mr. Lewis is acting so far in that position only temporarily. Mr. Lewis is in receipt of a pension from the Government of New South Wales. He receives only a very slight addition to that pension, and for the work he is doing for the Commonwealth he is certainly not overpaid. The Commonwealth pays him, I think, some £300.







Suggest corrections