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Thursday, 3 March 1904

Mr WATSON -~-Captain Pearse's statement in reference to persons leaving the

Commonwealth for New Zealand has proved to be erroneous.

Mr DEAKIN - Yes. Here is another communication, received only this morning. A well-to-do farmer, in one of the

States, has written to a friend of mine, stating that his son is anxious to leave Australia for the Alberta district, and that he is a successful farmer with some capital. In considering this question of immigration, therefore, Ave have to consider a dual problem. Not only do the English and Canadian journals declare that the bulk of the immigrants reaching there are agriculturists, but they affirm that a large number of them are possessed of means. We are not only missing these immigrants, but Ave are absolutely losing some of our own people. In my opinion, the causes for which we are losing these farmers are not causes under the direct control of this Parliament. In addressing the Conference of State Treasurers a few days ago upon this question, whilst carefully avoiding any reference to State politics, I felt constrained to point out, that the beginning and end of this question rested with their legislation, that though it was not for me to describe what should be done, it was evident that settlement on the land, easy access to it, the opportunity to acquire homesteads in districts possessed of a certain rainfall, were inducements which would attract the class of immigrants to which I have referred. The agricultural labourer to whom I have referred, if- he be a man of grit, energy, and industry, can in some of the States at least obtain land for nothing or next to nothing.

Mr Fisher - Where?

Mr DEAKIN - In Western Australia, for example. He can also secure financial assistance. This is something like the condition of affairs that should exist in every State of Australia. I felt the extreme difficulty of dealing Avith this question, because of its relation to State politics, and that is the one and only reason why I have been hampered in the proposal submitted then and submitted now.

Mr Reid - But the honorable gentleman is not afraid of it; he believes in the proposal ?

Mr DEAKIN - I believe that nothing is more essential.- We must carry it out, and on behalf of the Government, I promised the States that if they would assist us in providing the necessary attractions to the soil, Ave would submit to this House

Avith all strength - and, if necessary, stake our political5 existence " upon them - proposals of a definite character to enable us to find suitable men and women to settle on the land.

Mr Reid - The Government will find the Opposition backing them up in such proposals.

Mr Watson - We are all of one opinion as to that.

Mr DEAKIN - I believe that when the matter is put forward we shall obtain practically the unanimous support of the public. What has driven me so to speak to the consideration of this proposition has been the discovery that other districts, even in Canada, now offering inducements for settlement, are necessarily more and more remote from civilization, demand greater and greater trials on the part of those who go out to them, call for a much larger expenditure in getting there than I thought possible, and offer many difficulties to the settlers when they reach them.

Mr O'Malley - Seven months of snow.

Mr DEAKIN - That is true of many parts of Canada. The people who are going out belong to a class who are willing to face these dangers and risks. If they are willing to face them there - if they are resolute enough and well furnished enough to do so - surely they would be willing to face the much lesser difficulties here, if the rich lands in the well-watered districts of the country were available for settlement ? Consequently the proposals now resubmitted in regard to immigration have an influence outside the special sphere of our Constitution. I believe that if they be sufficiently discussed in this Parliament, and our attitude distinctly manifested, they will cause the electors of the Commonwealth, who are the electors of the States, to review their State legislation, and determine what it is possible to do.

Mr Skene - They are doing so now.

Mr DEAKIN - I hope so. It is necessary that this subject should be put before them, in order that they may ask themselves the question why Australia is not as attractive at it should be. My right honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, seemed to be of opinion that one of the great barriers to the influx of population was the introduction of the provision in the Immigration Restriction Act, with reference to contract labour.

Mr O'Malley - The six hatters.

Mr DEAKIN - Yes, I regret to say that-

Mr Reid - It was an intimation to 40,000,000 of people in the United Kingdom that they were not wanted here.

Mr DEAKIN - I regret to say that my right honorable friend was perfectly correct in his statement that the representations, as he may call them - the misrepresentations, as I call them - in the case to which reference has been made, have doneus incalculable damage at home.

Mr Reid - Whoever is responsible for it, that is the fact.

Mr DEAKIN - It becomes my duty every week to rapidly look over cuttings from the British newspapers, and sometimes from the foreign press, in order to watch the current of opinion and I find the variety of forms of misunderstanding in regard to this incident almost incredible. Naturally, one is brought face to face with them.

Mr Reid - The position would have been worsehadthe six hatters been sent back again.

Mr DEAKIN - The point to which I wish to come is this: that in spite of the misrepresentations that have taken place, I fail to see that we can point to any proof that the incident of the' six hatters has affected to any degree the flow of immigration to this country. The cessation of the influx dates from the cessation of Stateassisted immigration, which exists now in only one State of the Union. For more than ten years before this incident, immigration into Australia had practically ceased - long before Federation came into existence. We cannot possibly say that there has been a cessation due to any one particular piece of legislation, or even to the general set of our legislation, because, unfortunately, except in the form of assisted immigration, no influx into Australia since the gold-digging days has ever reached anything like the reasonable proportionswe were entitled to expect. I think that the right honorable gentleman attaches far too much importance to the particular incidents to which he has referred, but recognise that we need the means of correcting the constant misrepresentations that are current in the mother country in regard to such matters.

Mr Higgins - Have any steps been taken to correct these misrepresentations?

Mr DEAKIN - I have from time to time supplied the Agents-General acting for the Commonwealth with a statement of the true facts, which they have sometimes communicated to the newspapers; but these corrections attract little attention, since the fixed idea exists that the legislation in question is in some way or other inimical to Englishmen. We require a High Commissioner in London.

Mr Reid - It is an impression that six British artisans were kept on board ship, and not allowed to land for some time.

Mr DEAKIN - My right honorable friend's weakness in regard to this point is that he -was a party to the passing of the Bill in which this provision exists, and that when he first called attention to it he made the statement that at the time of its passing he did not realize its full effect.

Mr Reid - I was not in the House.

Mr DEAKIN - The .right- honorable gentleman tacitly accepted the provision in the Bill. Attention was called to it afterwards during his presence in the House, and he offered no objection.

Mr Reid - I had no opportunity to consider it. I think that two of the objects of the Bill are good.

Mr DEAKIN - The right honorable gentleman made that statement on - the first occasion ; and he was at once invited to suggest an amendment which would, secure the two good objects of which he approved, whilst excluding the application of what he disapproved.

Mr Reid - If I make such a suggestion, will the Government take it up ?

Mr DEAKIN - I promise to give it the fullest consideration.

Mr Reid - That is something like the statement in regard to preferential trade.

Mr DEAKIN - If the suggestion is made, it will receive preferential consideration. Of course it would be necessary to consider it carefully in order to see that it would carry out what the right honorable gentleman sought to accomplish. In the present case the right honorable gentleman will find himself faced with 'this difficulty which confronts an administration, and will confront him when he sits on this side - the consideration how we are to deal with the tens and hundreds if we neglect to deal with the units. How are we to fix any number of admissibles? How are we to deal with the emergency cases? The failure of the right honorable gentleman to draft his amending clause was probably due to a consideration of the difficulty how some men may be allowed to come in, although not in bunches, or companies? How are we to determine the precise 'term during which they may not come in because of a strike or some other circumstances here, and yet do no injustice to people who may have been justified in leaving their homes, and accepting an agreement, only to find themselves on their way to Australia before receiving an intimation that their landing had been made illegal.

Mr Reid - There is a slight misunderstanding which, with my honorable and learned friend's permission, I should like to correct.

Mr DEAKIN - Certainly.

Mr SPEAKER - The right honorable gentleman cannot make an explanation until the Prime Minister has concluded his speech.

Mr Reid - Very well, sir. I thank the Prime Minister for his courtesy.

Mr DEAKIN - When the right honorable member considers the position he will see that even his ingenuity will be taxed to discover any means by which the section in question can be modified without intrusting a very dangerous degree of latitude to certain officials, in order to accomplish the exclusion which he is willing to accomplish, and yet allow those whom he prefers to come in without objection.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The late Prime Minister said that the success of the Immigration Restriction Act would depend upon its administration.

Mr DEAKIN - Exactly. Then as a cognate subject I pass to the right honorable gentleman's remarks with reference to the provisions in theo Post and Telegraph Act, forbidding the Postal Department to enter into Contracts for the carriage of mails by steamers in which other than white labour is employed. On that point the right honorable member's memory has played him false. If he will refer to Hansard of 5th July, 1901, he will find, at page 2140,. a statement showing that the prohibition against letting mail contracts to owners of ships carrying coloured crews was discussed in the Senate. He will also find that my then colleague, Senator O'Connor, stated distinctly that the policy of the Government was to absolutely exclude contracts of that kind; but that he objected on their behalf to the introduction of that policy in the Post and Telegraph Bill, which was then before the House, as it was only a machinery Bill, which should not deal with a question of that character. He gave various other practical grounds for his opposition to the proposal; but on the very first occasion that the question came before Parliament he announced the deliberate policy of the Government, as requiring the exclusion of coloured labour from mail steamers under contract to us. At page 2252 of Hansard for 1901, the right honorable member will find the division list to which he alluded. It shows that the proposal was defeated in the Senate, after it had been debated with a good deal of warmth in that Chamber, discussed fully and anxiously in the press, and brought prominently before the attention of the whole public. It was on the 25th July, 1901, while the matter was still fresh in every one's recollection, that the honorable member for Bland moved the adjournment of the House in order to discuss the question of the employment of coloured labour on mail steamers. The late Prime Minister on that occasion repeated what Senator O'Connor had said in another place - that the policy of the Government meant the exclusion of coloured labour from these steamers. No sooner had he resumed his seat than the leader of the Opposition rose, and cordially indorsed what he had said, promising the support of a united House in regard to the proposal.

Mr Reid - As a matter of negotiation - as an endeavour to carry it out. At that time, however, there was no Bill before us. There was simply a motion for the adjournment of the House, and, as I said, we all sympathized-

Mr DEAKIN - I think that my right honorable friend will see, first of all, that the action of his late colleague, the then Postmaster-General of New South Wales, at the Conference, meant much more than that; and secondly that the language used at various times in this House by the right honorable gentleman himself with reference to this subject meant much more.' It meant that when he was in office, he .looked forward to the application of this provision; that when he spoke in this House, he spoke with a full knowledge of the whole of the question, of its character, and of the intention of Parliament in regard to it. He spoke, therefore, with authority and knowledge.

Mr Reid - To whom does the honorable and learned gentleman refer?

Mr DEAKIN - To the right honorable gentleman.

Mr Reid - At that time there was no such proposal before the House.

Mr DEAKIN - It had only just been rejected by .another place, after a declaration had been made similar to that repeated by the Prime Minister in this Chamber. Consequently full attention was fixed upon the question. When the right honorable gentleman made his statement, he knew that the proposal had been made and rejected, and that the Government was pledged to give effect to it, if not in the Post and Telegraph Bill, at all events in another measure.

Mr Reid - It was not pledged to bring in a Bill to deal with the subject. Mr. Justice O'Connor said that it was impossible to apply such a principle to that clause, when speaking upon this very matter.

Mr DEAKIN - He was dealing with the machinery Bill.

Mr Reid - He said that no law of the kind could be applied, that it was impossible to apply such a stipulation in an Act of Parliament.

Mr DEAKIN - He is reported on page 2141 of Volume II. of Hansard to have said -

I draw a clear line of distinction between lay ing it down as a matter of policy, the performance of which will be watched by Parliament, that wherever it is possible and practicable white men only shall be employed, and placing a mandate upon the Postmaster-General that he shall enter into no contract whatever for the carriage of mails unless there is this stipulation in it. But he said -

The Government will be subject to the watchful eye of Parliament. What need is there, then, to tie the hands of the Government in such a way as this amendment proposes?

He continued -

The policy of the amendment - that is, the amendment excluding coloured labour - as far as it can be applied, will be carried out - by the Government - subject to the right of Parliament to interfere if it is not done.

He there gave a promise which, if it had not been embodied in legislation, would have bound the Government just as absolutely as they are now bound to take the course they have taken.

Mr Reid - It would have bound the Government to do the best they could to enter into a contract with steam-ship owners employing white labour only, but not to break the undertaking entered into.

Mr DEAKIN - The undertaking entered into has not been broken. Mr. Justice O'Connor twice, and subsequently Mr. Justice Barton, asked Parliament to accept the assurance that effect would be given to the policy desired by honorable members, whether the clause was or was not inserted in the Bill. But the point which I have been leading up to is that my right honorable friend allowed this clause to be inserted by assenting without protest to the passing of the Bill. By doing that, he assented to the following provision, which is' now a section of the Act: -

No contract or arrangement for the carriage of mails shall be entered into on behalf of the

Commonwealth unless it contains a condition that only white labour shall be employed in such carriage.

That provision is absolutely peremptory and mandatory. It contains no qualification, except that in the following sub-section in regard to coaling and loading beyond the limits of the Commonwealth. My right honorable friend, as a lawyer and politician, knew that that clause was contained in the Bill, and yet allowed the measure to pass without protest or objection. Indeed, he raised no objection to it, until a long time after the Act had become law. I do not in the least degree object to his revising his opinions and altering his judgments ; but I think that he fully shared the responsibility for the action of Parliament in this matter.

Mr Reid - I was only a sleeping partner.

Mr DEAKIN - Occasionally the right honorable member is a sleeping partner in what we do here; but he is at most times very wide awake and active. He has certainly not failed to cite everything that happened to the detriment of the Government. Yet for months my right honorable friend made no objection to the existence of the provision I have read, although he knew that it was in the Act.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What are the Government doing in regard to the carriage of mails? .Why is the matter treated as such a secret one ?

Mr DEAKIN - I shall come to it in a moment. Why, too, should the leader of the Opposition object to the insertion in the New Hebrides mail service of the condition that the ships employed shall be manned entirely by white labour? Why should the f act that they trade to those islands compel us to subsidize vessels employing persons not of our own race, not even under the same flag, as ourselves? Nothing can be more reasonable than that the 'white people of this Commonwealth, who pay the subsidy, should prefer the employment of white men to carry on this communication.

Mr Reid - I do not object to that; but I do not see why coloured people should not be allowed to take a berth in the stokehold if they are willing to do so. Personally I would not wish my worst enemy to be employed in such places.

Mr DEAKIN - I do not know that the difficulty of obtaining men to work in the stokehold can be regarded as answerable for any adverse results that may be supposed to have been obtained so far. I have investigated with the aid of the best information procurable the effect of the condition in regard to the employment of white labour upon steam-ships employing white crews on deck and coloured crews below, and find that, generally speaking, twice as many coloured stokers are required to do the work which can be done by white stokers ; so that, as they are paid about one-third the wages of white stokers, the saving made by employing them amounts to about one-third of the wages paid to stokers.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The manager of the P. and O. Company distinctly stated that it was not cheaper to employ black labour.

Mr DEAKIN - I have heard that the employment of. coloured labour as a whole upon shipboard is not cheaper than the employment of white labour; but the information supplied to me in regard to vessels employing both white and coloured labour is that I have just given honorable members, and tells more against my position than that to which the honorable member refers. It cannot be said that the stipulation in regard to the employment of white labour in the stokehold and elsewhere has had any effect upon the tenders for the carriage of mails, except in cases like that of the P. and O. Company, where both deck hands and the crew employed below are coloured men. In regard to other companies, the financial saving upon stokers is too trifling to have affected their tenders. It is well known that every German ship which comes here employs white labour only, and I. believe German citizens only.

Mr Reid - And cheap labour at that.

Mr DEAKIN - I have yet to learn that what is possible for Germans is not possible for Englishmen, and that what is possible to a German line of steamers is not possible to ship-owners who claim to be masters of the sea.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did the Government obtain a tender from the Orient Company?

Mr DEAKIN - That company did tender, but at an immensely increased price.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How much higher than that of the other tenderers was the price asked by the Orient Company?

Mr DEAKIN - I do not know that unaccepted tenders should be laid upon the table of the House. What may be taken as a tender has since been, received from another company. It, in its informal state, agrees to abide by the requirements imposed by the Act, and to give a service in the time and under the conditions required.

Mr Watson - Were there any other conditions than those imposed by the Act ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - All the papers should be laid upon the table.

Mr DEAKIN - The laying of the papers upon the table is a matter which I leave to the Postmaster-General. There were only two peremptory conditions in the contract, one requiring the employment of white labour and the other the provision of up-to-date refrigerating machinery. The second requirement was somewhat vague in its terms, because no particular machinery was specified, but only that the provision for refrigerating must be adequate. As every first-class steamer now carries refrigerating ' machinery, I do not think chat either of those conditions can have affected the sending in of tenders, except so far as the P. and O. Company was concerned. All other conditions were alternative. Steamship proprietors were asked to tender for the conveyance of freight at maximum prices, for the provision of cold storage, and better ventilation, and subject to other conditions, but they were allowed the alternative of tendering for a service complying with any or none of these conditions.

Mr Watson - Was it specified that the Suez route should be followed?

Mr DEAKIN - Tenders via the Suez route were asked for, but as an alternative contractors could tender for conveyance by a route from any port in Australia to any port in Great Britain. We have two tenders in addition to one which we consider far too high. One of these we could not accept because of its generality, and in regard to the other we are awaiting details which are to arrive. It is in the hope that we may have an opportunity to consider how far a tender for a mail service can be combined with a tender for an effective refrigerating service. We require the employment of white labour, and two tenders accepting that condition have been sent in. It is in order to ascertain what can be done in the way of providing a refrigerating service that we have hesitated before definitely advising the House on the matter.

Mr Groom - Did the last tender include Brisbane as a port of call ?

Mr DEAKIN - Brisbane was not named. The right honorable member for East Sydney did not allude to the administration of the' Immigration Restriction Act in regard to coloured aliens, and therefore I do not feel called upon to deal with the matter at length, but as the administration of the measure, so far as coloured- aliens are concerned, is being daily challenged in the press by those who ignore the express conditions under which the Act. assumed its present form, it seems necessary to say a few words upon the subject. When the Immigration Restriction Bill was before the House, an amendment was moved by the honorable member for Bland making the exclusion of all coloured persons absolute, without any option, and without the application of a test. The Government, for Imperial and diplomatic reasons which were fully explained at the time, appealed to honorable members to substitute .an educational test' for absolute exclusion in so many words, and undertook to apply that test' in such a manner as to give practical effect to the wish for the exclusion of coloured aliens. The provision in the Act was inserted, not to test the education of those who presented themselves for admission to the country, but as a means of bringing about the practical exclusion of all coloured aliens. The Government of the day undertook that the test would be so applied, and the Act has ever since been administered, not in obedience to its letter, but to the sp'irit of the undertaking given. It is perfectly idle for our opponents in the press to challenge our action on this matter, and to object that men are being examined in languages other than their own, since the test was intended to be applied in such a manner as to exclude coloured aliens. No secret was made of that intention by Parliament, and the test would not have been provided in the measure if it had not .been believed by honorable members that it would be so applied. The Government take the full responsibility of applying it as it has been applied. We gave a pledge to do so, and I have yet to learn that the intention of a statute, in regard to this or any other matter, should be defeated by its administration. If there is to be an alteration of the law in respect to mail contracts or the immigration of aliens, it should be set forth in plain terms, and resolved upon by Parliament after full discussion. It is true that the education test may be, and1 in some cases has been, applied to persons- who, reading the Act in their own country, took it to mean that what was intended was to obtain a .proof of education, but no one in authority in this country can pretend to think that this was the intention of the framers of the Act. The press are without justification for holding up to ridicule the application of the education test, which has been utilized just as was promised when it was placed in the Bill, and which will continue to be so employed.

Mr Reid - Has it not been applied to any white persons?

Mr DEAKIN - Not that I am aware of.

An Honorable Member. - What about Stelling?

Mr Watson - Stelling was a thief, and was prohibited under another part of the section.

Mr DEAKIN - If the honorable member will pardon me, the offence for which Stelling was found guilty would not come within the terms of the sub-section to which the honorable member doubtless refers.

Mr Watson - Stelling was a thief, at all events.

Mr DEAKIN - As the case is now sub judice, I prefer not to discuss it. So far as I know no white man has been excluded by means of the application of the education test, nor has the test been applied to white persons, except by accident in the early stages of the administration of the Act. The test is being deliberately applied to give effect to the understanding entered into at the time it was passed, that it should be used for the purpose of securing the absolute exclusion of coloured aliens.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Was not the provision inserted as a sort of diplomatic compromise to meet possible objections on the part of the Imperial authorities?

Mr DEAKIN - Yes, to the extent that my predecessor in office received an assurance when in England that an Act containing a provision similar to that adopted would be assented to, whereas an Act of another character might require the gravest consideration.

An Honorable ' Member. - Who gave that assurance?

Mr DEAKIN - So far as I can remember, it was given by Mr. Chamberlain when he was addressing the Premiers' Conference in London in 1897. Now I wish to touch upon a question with' which my right honorable friend has dealt at great length. There is no occasion to dispute the fact that there were circumstances in connexion with the recent elections which all of us must regret. For my own part, however, I think that during the progress of the Bill through the House, and certainly afterwards, I pointed out that the measure was to a large extent experimental. It was in the main drafted upon the lines of the

South Australian and Western Australian Acts ; but it also contained provisions derived from the statute-books of other States. Therefore, in its entirety the Electoral Act became quite a new measure in its application to every State. In the next place, from motives of economy, and also with, the idea of obtaining independent service, the administration of the Act was intrusted largely to public servants, who had not been previously charged with a similar duty. There were obvious advantages attached to the adoption of this course ; but practical experience showed that there were many drawbacks. I admit that the whole matter requires serious consideration, and we shall be prepared to submit proposals dealing with it. We had to deal with an area as great as any in the habitable globe over which an election of this kind has extended, and to carry out the provisions of an entirely new Act. Although in the main the Act was drafted upon State lines, it differed in technical details from all the Acts with which the State officials were familiar, and was, therefore, novel to them. Any one wHo has realized the extent to which practice becomes second nature with many men will understand the extraordinary difficulties with which the administration of the Act" was surrounded. I say, with confidence, that if the Chief Electoral Officer had been a political archangel, and most of his assistants had been similarly qualified, it would still have been absolutely impossible for him to administer the Act without complaint. . I was in a state of apprehension during the whole of the elections that the Act would break down in some serious way, and, considering the haste with which the rolls had to be prepared, and other arrangements made, I regard the results as simply marvellous.

An Honorable Member. - Whose fault was it that everything had to be done in a hurry ?

Mr DEAKIN - IF was nobody's fault. The haste was caused by the time at which the election had to be hel3.

Mr Poynton - Six months were wasted during the previous recess before the appointment of the Commissioners.

Mr DEAKIN - That is an easy thing to say, but difficult to prove. During the whole of the period mentioned the officers of the Electoral Department were engaged in making their preparations. The materials were not ready for the Commissioners, and it could easily be shown that even when the Commissioners were appointed the information available for their guidance was very imperfect I might deal with this matter at much greater length, but think that the mere statement of the difficulties that had to be surmounted is a sufficient answer to the criticisms which have been directed to the administration of the" Act. Taking into account the herculean nature of the task to be performed, I think the results were remarkable. Although, no doubt, there were causes of justifiable complaint, the work was performed in an effective manner.

Mr Reid - Do the Government intend to allow the present state of affairs to continue ?

Mr DEAKIN - No, that would be impossible. My only object now is to show how much we were all in the dark with regard to the circumstances relating to the distribution of population. I find, on referring to the statements made by my right honorable friend, in the House and on the public platform, that in contrasting the country and city constituencies, he greatly under-estimated the population in the former group of electorates.

Mr Reid - And also in the city.

Mr DEAKIN - We erred there. For instance, the right honorable gentleman's estimates in regard to the Barrier electorate ranged from 10,000 to 15,000. The actual number of electors in that constituency was 19,000. The right honorable gentleman's estimate for Bland was about 11,000, whereas the actual figures were 20,861. For the Darling, the right honorable member's figures ranged from 8,000 to 12,000, whereas the actual figures were 15,268. His estimate for the Gwydir was 11,000, and the actual return showed 22,366. For the Hume he estimated 10,000, whereas 22,000 electors are shown to be in that electorate. There are similar discrepancies in other cases.

Mr Reid - The women voters were not included in my figures.

Mr DEAKIN - Yes. These figures are given as including both male and female voters.

Mr Reid - I procured my figures from the electoral officer. At that time only the male electors were on the roll.

Mr DEAKIN - I do not understand that, because at the very same time the honorable gentleman gave an estimate for New England, amounting to 23,000, whereas the actual returns give an aggregate of 26,759. All those electors could not possibly be males.

Mr Reid - Only male electors were referred to in the case of Darling.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I must point out that these interruptions make it quite impossible for the Prime Minister to proceed. I therefore ask honorable members to -refrain from interjecting.

Mr DEAKIN - All these figures belong to the same series, but I am far from saying that they are free from mistakes. My right honorable friend estimated that there were 17,000 electors in Richmond, whereas the actual return showed a total of 19,000. All those could not be males.

Mr Reid - I was comparing figures extending over a period of ten years, and I could only do that by quoting the number of male electors.

Mr DEAKIN - The figures could not possibly refer to males, because the right honorable gentleman said that there were 32,000 electors in West Sydney, whereas the Commonwealth enrolment brings out the number as only 25,000. My object is to show how at the time referred to we were all dependent upon mere estimates as to the numbers of electors in the various constituencies. On 3rd September my honorable colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, said -

In the Darling electorate honorable members opposite were prepared to accept 18,386 electors; to-day the number of electors stands at 15,000.

The returns show that in the Darling there are 15,268 electors', or a few in excess of the figures quoted by my honorable colleague.

Mr Reid - My figures for the Darling were derived from Mr. Houston.

Mr DEAKIN - I also have Mr. Houston's figures, and I find that he was almost as much in the dark. I admit that the existing discrepancies cannot be. allowed to continue, but what I wish to show is that the estimates made were unreliable. Mr. Houston proposed new divisions which were to contain a specified number of electors. His alterations of the electoral districts were to bring about that result. There were to be 18,000 electors in the Darling. As a matter of fact, the rolls show 15,268 votes, in the old district, and that is the greatest shortage that occurs. In the new Riverina he said there ought to be 18,862 electors, whereas the actual enrolment in the old Riverina district, without any alteration in the boundaries, represents 18,163 electors. The larger Werriwa was intended to have 18,851 electors, whereas the actual number in the old constituency is 21,066. In the

Hume he said there ought to be 18,512 electors, whilst the returns show that there are actually 22,219 voters in the present constituency. The figures which honorable members opposite fought for, and which the Commissioner proposed as fair, have in every case except that of the Darling been exceeded in the old divisions without any alteration of boundaries. That is what we contended would happen. My right honorable friend has argued,- as he was quite entitled to do at this stage, from the proved facts ; but on a former occasion he argued not from proved facts, but from estimates that were more or less official. He was fully justified in using the Commissioner's figures ; which we challenged as altogether insufficient for the country districts. That challenge has been justified by the facts. When the Commissioner set aside the existing divisions and created larger ones, he put down for his larger electorates smaller numbers than have actually been recorded in the old districts without any enlargement. The results have fully borne out our contention at the time that he was wrong. I find that Mr. Houston proposed 18,449 electors for the new Canobolas, . whereas - the actual number in the old was 20,250; for the new Gwydir he proposed t9--983j whereas the actual number was already 22,360. In the new EdenMonaro he required 19,913 as against an actual return of 22,320. In Cowper his scheme provided for 21,664 electors, whereas the actual enrolment shows 25,568 in the old district. In the old Hunter there are 26,962 electors as compared with Mr. Houston's estimate of 23,705.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Give us some of the figures for the city electorates.

Mr DEAKIN - Those tell the same tale, so far as to show that we were thoroughly justified in challenging the estimates of the Commissioner.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The right honorable gentleman would justify anything after that.

Mr DEAKIN - We considered that the Commissioner's estimates in regard to these country districts were insufficient, and the facts which I have quoted prove that they were. It is perfectly true that the number of electors in the city districts was also very much in excess of Mr. Houston's estimate, and the figures which have been cited by the leader of the Opposition are correct. It is equally true that such a condition of things cannot be permitted to continue. But, knowing that the population was far above what was alleged, we argued that it must have come from the cities.- Instead of that being the case, although there was some efflux of population from the cities, the metropolitan constituencies still remained far above their proportion. Honorable members opposite were right in their statements regarding the city constituencies, but were wrong in the case of the country electorates; .whereas we were wrong as regards the metropolitan districts, and right as to the country divisions. There remain only one or two other topics to which I intend to allude in a single sentence, because they will come up for discussion at a later stage.

Mr Thomson - What about the Federal Capital ?

Mr DEAKIN - That matter is dealt with in His Excellency's speech by the statement that a settlement of the question ought to be arrived at early - a statement with which I absolutely agree. The surveys are already in progress-

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why not give Lyndhurst a chance, as the Prime Minister promised to do?

Mr DEAKIN - The honorable member for Macquarie knows that I did not make any such promise. He is also aware that a survey of Lyndhurst would not assist its chances one iota, because the elevation of the country is even. If it were intended to establish the Federal Capital there, it might just as well be planted in one part of that district as in another. No survey is necessary to determine which would constitute the more eligible site so far as Lyndhurst is concerned. But at Tumut and Bombala there are several conflicting, sites. Surveys are absolutely necessary there, and Lyndhurst does not suffer by reason of no survey being made.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I only ask for fair play.

Mr Reid - How long will the survey of these sites occupy?

Mr DEAKIN - No longer than the New South Wales officials require. In regard to the question of old-age pensions, the leader of the Opposition has misunderstood the full intent of the paragraph referring to it in the vice-regal speech. That paragraph points to the adoption of a uniform system o"f old-age pensions .as one of the principal objects which must be kept in view by every Federal Government. The subject is one peculiarly adapted for Federal action, much more than it can ever be for State action.

The right honorable member is aware that two of the States have already adopted a system of old-age pensions, and it is quite possible for those States to transfer, and for the other States to agree to transfer, a portion of the Customs revenue which they are entitled to receive from the Federal Treasurer to the Commonwealth, so as to bring about uniform administration either at once or gradually. It is true that we. cannot entertain any proposal to undertake a national system of old-age pensions whilst we are compelled to return to the different States three-fourths of the total Customs revenue. But the States Treasurers will soon have under consideration a proposal relating to the distribution of that three-fourths of the Customs revenue.

Mr Reid - During the past three years have the Government taken any steps towards establishing a national system of oldage pensions?

Mr DEAKIN - We have taken the first steps preliminary to the transfer to the Commonwealth of industrial and other matters without any success ; but it was not until the great scheme for dealing with the whole of the States debts and with the three-fourths of the Customs revenue was under consideration that it was possible to make a thorough and comprehensive proposal in regard to old-age pensions without facing extra taxation.

Mr Reid - During the past few years has the Prime Minister ever asked the States Governments to do what he suggests ?

Mr DEAKIN - We have not asked them yet ; it has not been possible to do so. The right, honorable member speaks of the past three years, but I would point out to him that the Tariff has been in operation for only two years, and its normal receipts are only now being determined. If we are fortunate enough to get a comprehensive agreement between the Commonwealth and States on these subjects, it will be possible to at once cut the Gordian knot, and that without imposing any additional burden upon the States. When honorable members read the report of the Treasurers' Conference they will notice that in the memorandum which was laid before that gathering by the Federal Treasurer he alluded specifically to the question of old-age pensions as one ripening for consideration.

Mr Fisher - Will the Government wait until the consent of the States has been secured ?

Mr DEAKIN - We cannot do anything without their consent.

Mr Fisher - We can legislate directly.

Mr DEAKIN - Yes; but only by imposing direct taxation.

Mr Fisher - I am in favour of that.

Mr DEAKIN - That would involve a revolution in the finances of the States. Concerning the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I still entertain a doubt as to the constitutionality of the amendment which was submitted last session. I will not go so far as to say absolutely that it is unconstitutional, but entertain as great a doubt upon the matter now as I did previously.

Mr Reid - The Prime Minister's objections to it are lessening.

Mr DEAKIN - No, they are increasing.

Mr Crouch - Who will take charge of the Bill?

Mr DEAKIN - I shall. Regarding the transcontinental railway, upon which my right honorable friend indulged in some jest, I merely wish to say that I have never altered the opinion expressed in my Ballarat speech at the beginning of the campaign. There was no need to alter it. There has been no change in my attitude upon this question during the past two- or three years. Then the leader of the Opposition might have asked whether the proposed Navigation Bill will penalize British shipping. He made no inquiry, but went so far as to utter .a denunciation which he will find very hard to justify when he sees the measure in print in a few days. The Bill will be introduced as the first measure in another place, because we recognise its relation to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and desire honorable members to see how far they interlace. Moreover,, both are remanets of the last session. I saw by the press to-day that (these are to be the first measures introduced as a concession to the Labour Party. Instead of that being so, I distinctly stated in the Ballarat speech that they would be the first Bills submitted. Moreover, I announced the concession - if it were a concession - when the Bill was under consideration in this House last year. It was part of a definite policy, and is not clue to- the elections or to anything which has occurred since. May I ask in conclusion - and I must apologise to the House for the length at which I have detained honorable members - that I have necessarily not enjoyed the free hand which the leader of the Opposition was perfectly justified in exercising. He chose where he would cut and come at' the Government, and it became my duty, to the best of my ability, to follow him in reply. But what I regard as the most hopeful sign of the situation is- the admission which he has since made by way of interjection, that he recognises, so far as this Parliament is concerned, that the fiscal issue has departed. It leaves a great space free.


Mr Reid - I said that we could enjoy an armed truce. If the Government are prepared to shut up their armoury, we will observe the .truce which the people have decreed.

Mr DEAKIN - There will be no difficulty in observing that, because, with the exception of the Iron Bounty Bill, which is a remanet from last session, there will be no attempt made that can be termed even by critics an interference with the fiscal peace, upon which we went to the country.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What the Government cannot accomplish by means of a duty they wish to secure by means of a bounty.

Mr DEAKIN - The Iron Bounty Bill does not involve a fiscal question. The disposal of the Tariff affords us an opportunity which we have never yet enjoyed in this House, of getting out of the old party ruts. There were many passages in the speech of my right honorable friend to which I listened with extreme satisfaction, because they exhibited a tendency on his part to endeavour to view some matters in a different light, particularly those questions which are being forced upon Australia to-day. They must present themselves at once to every man who looks at the map of Australia, or reads a handbook upon it. What are they ? It must occur to him, that this great territory "under the British flag lies unoccupied, unsettled, and unproductive. Why does a white Australia, except as regards a narrow fringe around, its coastal area, remain a name? Why is its territory not being utilized to the fullest extent? We are proving that there is scarcely any part of this continent in which white men cannot thrive. The leader of the Opposition was wrong in alluding to cotton as " the coloured man's crop." In Queensland to-day there is an English cotton manufacturer's agent who is making inquiries from the farmers who have grown cotton there before.

Mr Reid - The experiment has been tried several times in Australia, and has proved an utter failure.

Mr DEAKIN - It was a conspicuous success as to the quality of the cotton, which was only driven out of the market by the low-priced competition to which it was then subjected, a result which, I understand from the presence of this agent amongst us, is not feared in the future.

Mr Groom - It will be grown again by white labour.

Mr DEAKIN - Many of our great possibilities are undoubtedly associated with tropical districts, but 'hot all of them. We have immense resources in the well watered and cool districts of Australia, where we have great areas of land capable of sustaining a population. During the recent short visit which I paid to New South Wales, the sight of the New England country and the Darling Downs, which were more familiar to me, was a revelation of the possibilities of closer settlement in the North. Those same opportunities exist to-day in Victoria. They are to be found all over Australia. It seems to me that we cannot be blind to great physical facts. We cannot be blind to the emptiness of this continent with boundless possibilities of production and a bare handful of white men settled upon it. In these circumstances I turn with eagerness to every quarter of the horizon which offers any opportunity for the increase of our production, and the multiplication of our white population. I see the .densely peopled British Isles dependent upon food supplies from over sea - supplies which in time of war or unfriendliness on the part of other nations might be cut off, but which it is possible to grow on British lands tilled by British hands, in this quarter of the globe. Here are overmastering opportunities for development dwarfing all else. They afford us an opportunity to rise out of the old rut of party politics, and, while continuing to discharge to the full the* programme which we are sent here to accomplish in the way of practical legislation - for that burden of responsibility rests upon us and is not to be put off by any new care- - we have yet to recognise that each and all of these proposals must be extremely limited in extent, while they operate on an insignificant portion of the continent, and a handful of population. The natural advantages, which we control, should be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands more. I am not painting word pictures. I have been for the last few months studying this question, by means of correspondence, reading, and inquiry, and find that the exodus from the mother country now proceeding, is, in the main, of a most desirable class.

Many, of the men are well trained, and have the means to open up virgin areas. I think my right honorable friend erred when he said it was the prospect of the investment of capital that brought our fathers to these shores. My own father came here with little more than his energy, and thrived at first by the labour of his- hands. He sought his fortune in gold-digging, and in pioneering - a representative of the thousands who made this country, not by the capital which they brought in their pockets, but by their courage and resourcefulness. All that they did can be done today. I fail to see why, in these circumstances, we should not at least make ourselves better known. It is all very well for those who are opposed to our proposals to say that some of our legislation repels capitalists. I daresay it repels some classes, but Australia would be infinitely attractive to other classes if they understood the possibilities of freedom, equality, and prosperity to be found here. Once they understood our possibilities we would no longer need a loadstone. The main consideration to ourselves, not to be overlooked, is the economic situation before us. That calls for open lands and busy hands. We do not refer specially to mining in the Governor-General's speech, because mining, when it succeeds, is in itself a magnet, while the mining, like the land laws, are in the hands of the States. Our gold, and our fertile lands are the talismans that have attracted people to our shores in the past and will continue to attract them. The more we can fix eyes in this country, and out of it, on these magnificent resources which we talk about so much and realize so' little, the better .we shall be, both at home and abroad -

How small, of all that human hearts endure,

That part which laws or kings can cause or cure. o

We do far more now than Goldsmith thought possible, by means of legislation, but while we still realize that politics relate only to the practical, the temporary and the expedient, we also realize that nevertheless our laws touch the homes and the lives of the -masses, enter into the cottage of the workman, and reach the far-off fields of the selector, affecting for good or ill the development of the generation which is now arising amongst us. The conditions under which that generation grows up, and under which our people will live, the conditions of health and of education, of comfort and toil thus artificially established, play a great and increasing part in moulding them and their character ; and this character is, after all, the best, the most- real resource upon which Australia depends.

Mr. DUGALDTHOMSON (North Sydney. - I must, at the outset, compliment the Prime Minister, not . only upon his eloquence, but on the conciliatory character of the speech which he has just delivered, and the fulness with which he has dealt with the questions that have arisen during the debate. In rising, after two such speeches as those to which we have just listened, I feel that I am placed, at a disadvantage, but I can only inform the House that I shall endeavour to be as brief as possible, and direct my attention to a reply to the arguments submitted by the Prime Minister. The honorable and learned gentleman has expressed satisfaction with the con'*dition in which his party has returned from the elections.

Mr Deakin - A modified satisfaction.

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