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Thursday, 10 March 1904


Mr CONROY (Werriwa) - When I read the remarkable list of proposals contained in the Governor-General's speech I could not help thinking that the Government had practically omitted only one matter, and that they should have followed the example of a State Ministry in America - I believe it was the State of Massachusetts - which proposed to introduce, among other measures, a Bill to banish the devil and all. his works from that State. In their desire to placate honorable members, and to conciliate every party, the Government have scarcely omitted anything. They have included in the speech a number of measures which it would be impossible for us to pass, even if we sat for twenty-four hours a day, during the life of the present -Parliament. The Government have no reason to believe that the bulk of the people are anxious for more laws. On the contrary, the cry of the people of Australia is not that the Parliaments are not passing enough laws, but that they are enacting too many, and when we consider the actions of the Ministry, the manner in which they have introduced various measures, and the way in which those measures, on becoming law, have been administered, we must admit that the fears of the people are well founded. There can be no doubt whatever that the people really desire a rest from Parliaments.


Mr Page - Then let us adjourn.


Mr CONROY - If honorable members generally shared my view of the position, we should very soon go into recess. Nothing would tend more to clear the air than a division on the very question now" before us. It seems to me that a great deal of the confusion which exists in the minds of the people is due to the one fact that while it is possible to prophesy as to what will be done by a body of men possessing the courage of their opinions, and having a set of political principles to work upon, it is impossible to foretell what the present Ministry may do. The Government have no political principles, or, at all' events, if they have, they have succeeded in disguising them so well that no one - not even they themselves - can say what they are. It is therefore impossible to criticise them as one could criticise a Government which had ideas that they were ready to defend, or proposals which they had thoroughly considered to make, and prepared to support by every means in their power.


Mr Page - I hope that the honorable' and learned member will not be too severe on the Government.


Mr CONROY - Perhaps I should not be severe upon them, because to attack them seems to me to be very much like kicking jelly-fish. There is a remarkable plasticity about them which almost disarms criticism. If it were not for this policy of no responsibility, which" seems to be becoming fashionable in Parliaments, one would know what to do. It is most unfortunate that the Ministry, judging by the character of their actions, have set up no standard for public guidance. It would seem that all that they ask is that they may be permitted to act as a committee of the House, and to carry out its behests Is it a good thing? I. am sure that it is not. It is opposed to the interests of the' country. Almost all the legislation passed during last Parliament would, if responsible government were introduced, be very considerably altered. But one of the dangers connected with our legislation is that the legislative machine is in many respects so cumbrous that a subsequent alteration of our laws is very difficult. That being so, we should be extremely careful as to what measures we place upon the statute-book. Ministers should have seen that every measure submitted to the House last Parliament was well-thought out, and every Act of Parliament should have been indorsed with, their full responsibility, so that the public could know how to apportion the blame for bad legislation. But things have been so conducted that people can only say that Parliament, as a whole, has been to blame, and that Ministers have been the most conspicuous offenders. This position of affairs arises partly from the manner in which the House is constituted, and partly from the fact that members of Parliament have failed to grasp the distinction between what matters are within the province of Parliament to legislate upon, and what are not. No doubt Parliament has many powers; it can control the observance of many laws. It has great possibilities for evil, but its capacity for doing good is not so large. A Parliament is merely a committee of men chosen by the people of the country to discover what laws are most suitable for its circumstances, to advance education, to preserve the public safety, to see that the classes of oppressor and oppressed shall not exist, and to, as far as possible, do away with class distinctions which prevent individuals from asserting their independence. Is this Parliament doing those things ? It seems I50 me that we are not. . Our legislation appears to have proceeded upon the assumption that because we have the power to do certain things, therefore, it is right to do them. Nothing of the sort. Parliament might declare murder legal, and say that no murderer shall be punished; but it could not make murder a moral act. The distinction between what is legal and what is moral is constantly being forgotten. The present tendency of members of Parliament seems to be to depart utterly from the great principles, which should animate all parliamentary institutions. Unless a law enforces a moral as well as a legal power, it is useless. We have proceeded upon the supposition that by passing laws we can increase the national wealth' , and assist this class or the other. But the signature of the Governor-General to a Bill, while it gives legal effect to the measure as an Act, does not create a new fund out of which we can give legislative assistance to any class, so that as the national wealth cannot be increased by parliamentary enactment we, in trying to assist one class, injure another1. Parliament, however, has no right to make distinctions between class and class ; it should act only in the interests of the whole community. Honorable members who siton the Ministerial benches, however, constantly assert that protective duties should be imposed for the benefit of capitalists.


Sir John Forrest - For the benefit of the workmen.


Mr CONROY - The Government, and those who support them, have tried to guarantee to the manufacturers of the Commonwealth a profit upon their undertakings; but why should Parliament guarantee a right of profit to the manufacturer without guaranteeing a right of assistance to the masses of the community ? So far from trying to assist the workers of the country, the Ministry are always devising new methods for extracting from their pockets a still larger amount of their scanty earnings. A great part of the first session of last Parliament was devoted to the attempt to impose upon the people of the Commonwealth duties more severe than had ever been imposed before by any one legislative enactment. The effect of these duties was particularly hard upon one State in particular, the State of New South Wales. The people, however, were told, when they cried out, that if before they had been beaten with whips, they would now be chastised with scorpions, and the threathas been carried out to the bitter end. Now the Government advocate fiscal peace. Was there ever a successful burglar who, after a midnight robbery, was not in favour of being left in undisturbed possession of his plunder? Similarly the Ministry, having plundered the people of Australia, ask for fiscal peace in order that they may not be made to disgorge. Do honorable members ever picture to themselves the sacrifices which the community have been called upon to make? Do they know the proportion of direct to indirect taxation in this country. The taxation of this Commonwealth amounts to something like£12,900,000, of which something like £9,900,000 is collected by indirect means of taxation such as Customs duties, excise, and license fees, while only £2,850,000 is collected by means of direct taxation. If we were guided by the economic principles which prevail in England, we should establish a more just principle of taxation, and raise something like , £6,300,000 by direct taxation and £6,600,000 by indirect taxation. In Great Britain the ratio between direct and indirect taxation is that between 48½ and 5 1½. It fills one with alarm to see a body of men who call themselves the Labour Party agreeing to a system of taxation under which three and a half times as much is levied from the masses as is taken from the capital of the country.


Mr Fowler - Not all the members of the Labour Party.


Mr CONROY - The free-trade members of the Labour Party do not take that view, but I think that the majority of the party approve of the present iniquitous system. Of course, in a young country having a sparse population, the expense of collecting direct taxation is such that the ratio between direct and indirect taxation cannot be the same as in a country like England. Probably the ratio of 35 to 65 would be more equitable here. The people themselves, however, sit down quietly under the present state of things. To my mind, that is because the real facts have never been properly put before them. I am no advocate of taxation, because I believe that the less a country is taxed the more it will produce. No Parliament can direct men how best to employ their capital, but every penny that we take from the people in taxation decreases the amount available for the employment of labour upon productive work. £13,000,000 a year would give 130,000 men £100 a year each. But do honorable members consider that a very large part of that amount is every year wasted, and that in consequence the national wealth is to that extent diminished ? It is competition amongst capital which alone brings about an increase in the rate of wages, and what we should do is to give free play to that competition. Instead of doing so, we absolutely ignore every economic law. We seem to think that we can afford to despise them. In Victoria, where I was brought up, the absolute disregard of economic facts has resulted in such a condition of affairs that the State has not been able to keep its natural increase of population. Allowing for the natural increase during the last ten years, there is a shortage of something like 110,000 souls in the population of Victoria.


Mr McLean - If we had borrowed £17,000,000 in three years, and spent it, we should not have had. much difficulty in retaining our population. '


Mr CONROY - Does not the honorable member know that the expenditure of that money in New South Wales is destined to prove a most serious curse to the State, and that the ignorance and stupidity of the men at the head of affairs is responsible for the fact that the condition of the working man there is as bad as it is ? Those who have had charge of the affairs of that State have been ignorant of every economic fact. There are elementary books which would have safeguarded them against the mistakes into which they have . fallen, but even though they had read them they would probably be too stupid to understand them sufficiently to enable them to avoid the pitfalls into which they have fallen.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are not the members of the State Government of New South Wales nearly all protectionists?


Mr CONROY - Yes ; they belong to the protectionist party, which persists, even today, in ignoring the foremost economic facts. According to the assumption of the honorable member for Gippsland, if. £17,000.000 of loan money had been spent in Victoria, it would have resulted in great advantage, because it would have been kept in the country. It would have afforded a large amount of employment, and increased the wealth of the country to the extent of the money spent. The honorable member knows, however, that if a man spends £1, and receives only 18s. in return he incurs a loss of 2s., and that the individual loss is reflected upon the community. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports argues that if a man spends £1, and gets back 18 s. worth of goods, the community has the equivalent of 38s. At the same time he admits that such an argument would not apply to farming, because if a farmer spent £1 per acre upon his land, and only received back 10s., there would be a loss to the community of 10s. We ought to be thankful for even that ray of intelligence in the honorable member. We have been told that the difference between honorable members of this House is purely of a fiscal character; but it is more. It is a mental difference, which cannot be overcome except by the spread of education. Only 130 years ago even the master minds of the age failed to thoroughly grasp the meaning of the principle of freedom. Even at present we are only fighting for one form of freedom. Do honorable memberssuppose that we should fight as we do if the matter were only one of fiscalism, if there were not a mental difference between us and the protectionists. Our opponents are mentally incapable of grasping the meaning of the word " freedom." Some honorable members seem to think that the question is one of socialism. I do not understand why every protectionist is not a socialist. If a protectionist is willing that the aid of the State should be invoked in order to secure profit to a manufacturer, why should not similar aid be granted for the purpose of assisting the great masses of the people ? Whilst every protectionist should be a socialist, it does not follow that every socialist should be a protectionist, for the reason that if a socialistic State were engaged in con. ducting an exchange of goods with another State, it would be ridiculous to tax the products received in return for exports. Therefore, a socialist might very well be a strong free-trader, and we know, as a matter of fact, that the socialists of Germany and France are amongst the strongest advocates of free-trade principles in Europe. We are told, in the Governor-General's speech, that it is hoped that an opportunity will be presented for the adoption of a system of oldage pensions. If the Government felt perfectly sincere upon this question, they would tell us that we could raise by direct taxation an amount that would be sufficient to meet the outlay upon pensions. Before making any such provision, however, we should consider whether all such systems do not tend to pauperize the community, whether instead of providing for the old and helpless - which should be the sole object in view - they do not tend to create a feeling that work is not at all necessary, that we can do without thrift. The discouragement of thrift would be a very serious matter for the community ; arid if we do not take great care in the management of old-age pensions we shall find that more harm than good will result to those whom we are trying to benefit. That was found to be the case under the Poor Laws in England. Instead of tending to heighten the standard of living in England, they depreciated it, and great injury was inflicted upon the masses of the people. A full and exhaustive inquiry was held, with the result that the whole of that legislation was abandoned, and an endeavour was made to meet the necessities of the case by means of an entirely new system. The Government profess a desire to afford encouragement to the farmers of Australia. I would point out that they may carry out their object most effectively by abolishing the duties now levied upon agricultural machinery. Last season I had to pay such a large amount in duty upon farming machinery that I was absolutely prevented from employing an ad:ditional . man.


Mr Kingston - Why did not the honorable and learned member buy a local machine ?


Mr CONROY - I bought the machine that would best suit my purposes. I was anxious to obtain a local machine, which could be easily repaired ; but I found that the class of machine I required was not makie here. I could not discover why, except that there was not sufficient inducement to make it within the Commonwealth. The farmer who requires £100 worth of machinery has to contribute £14 or £15 in the form of duties, and the indrect taxation to which the agriculturists are subject is extraordinary. I should infinitely prefer to see the revenue raised by direct means, and if the great bulk of the people were wise, they would make the same choice. Under a system of direct taxation, they would understand the extent of the contributions, and the sacrifice required of them. The present duties fall much more heavily upon those who have limited incomes than upon others with more means. Even though the man 'with small earnings may not be conscious of the extent' to which he contributes indirectly to the revenue, his standard of comfort will be reduced and the value of his labour depreciated none the less. If the standard of living is low, we must expect a low tone in the community. It has been represented to us that the preferential- trade proposals which are now engaging the attention of the people of Great Britain will, if approved, secure to us an immense and reliable market. We all know that, and as I believe in the extension of the principles of free-trade, I cordially welcome any movement that would have the effect of removing the existing duties, and that would give us a market in a country with 44,000.000 people, instead of our being restricted to' a market with a population of only 4,000,000. How different the case in England where it would mean restricting their market. But,. if by preferential trade the Government mean that we are to give a preference to the people of Great Britain, I should like to know where in Australia we are to find the people to afford that preference. Are the people of Australia willing to offer a preference to any individual in Great Britain who is willing to trade with them? If so they need not go to Great Britain to find men who are prepared to trade with them, because they can be found here. Personally, I am ready to trade with them upon those terms all day long. I am prepared to exchange eighteen shillings worth of goods for a pound upon every possible occasion. Which of us would not exchange a cross-bred sheep for a good merino ram, _ or a sucker for a fine fat pig? I should like to hear a definition of the term " preferential trade." If a preference is not to be extended to some one, then the term is a misnomer; if a preference is to be offered, so long as it is upon our side, we are willing to accept it.


Mr Hutchison - But is it upon our side ?


Mr CONROY - If a preference is to be given to the other side, are we content to grant it? From the protectionist standpoint there can be no preferential market, so far as I am able to understand. The willingness of free-traders to agree to a system of preferential trade, results from the fact that it is in pursuance of the doctrine of free-trade. At the present time we are practically shut up in our own markets. Had I been a free-trader resident in Victoria prior to the accomplishment of Federation, I should have fought extremely hard for Federal union from the free-trade point of view, merely because it would secure to me a market of 4,000,000 people, as against a market of 1,250,000. In New South Wales the most ardent free-traders recognised that whilst that State would be called upon to submit to loss in many ways, as the result of Federation, the area which would be open to trade would be considerably broadened, ate far as the1 protectionist States were concerned. The task of imposing Customs duties upon a country is one which is easily accomplished. That form of taxation generally commends itself to those who are at the head of affairs, simply because it enables them to collect a large revenue with less trouble and discontent than would be experienced under any other system. But when bur protectionist friends go further and declare that the imposition of these duties results in benefit to the people, and that on that ground we may fairly be called upon to contribute to the profit of a class, it is quite another matter. When they also assert that this form of taxation benefits the community, because the money is spent in the country, I should like to know what they have to say in regard to direct taxation. We recognise the fallacy underlying that argument in one case, and why not in another? If it be wrong to collect taxation from a class of people, it is equally wrong to collect it from the mass of the people, unless the money is absolutely required. At the present time one of the most pitiable sights in this Parliament is that of a number of honorable members who profess to represent the majority of the electors sitting idly by and bringing forward no proposals whatever for the removal of taxation from the masses. I know that there are some amongst their number who favour the imposition of direct taxation. But they merely propose to add to the existing burdens. If taxation is absolutely necessary, and in that case only, a certain economic proportion should be observed.


Mr Hutchison - Does the party with which the honorable and learned member is associated favour direct taxation?


Mr CONROY - Certainly, if it is necessary. But we believe that money should be raised in certain economic proportions.


Mr Carpenter - The honorable and learned member favours direct taxation, but never proposes it.


Mr CONROY - What is the use of proposing something which we have no hope of carrying If any proposals for direct taxation were submitted to-morrow, in the absence of any diminution of existing burdens, I should strenuously oppose them.


Mr Frazer - Has not the honorable and learned member's leader declared that he will not allow the Federal Parliament to be used for the purpose of imposing direct taxation ?


Mr CONROY - Nothing of the sort. There is no caucus in our party. The honorable member may have a leader because he needs one. but in a matter of economic knowledge I do not follow any leader. To me it appears monstrous that the very body which ought to be foremost in fighting this question relegates it entirely to the background. To call itself the " Labour Party," when the bulk of its members absolutely decline to bring forward any proposals for lightening the burden imposed upon the masses of the people, seems to me to be misappropriating a name.


Mr Fowler - Does that not apply to a good many of the honorable and learned member's own party?


Mr CONROY - I am afraid that it does. But whatever burdens they place upon the people, they seek to make them as light as possible. That is a great point to be urged in their favour. At least they strive to see that every penny of taxation is directed, not into the pockets of any individual, but into the coffers of the Treasury. They decline to grant the exclusive right of profit to any body of men. At the present time the Government are proposing to grant a bounty to encourage the production of iron. I am informed that a petition was recently signed in Melbourne and Sydney by all the great merchants and bankers, asking that the exclusive right of profit should be bestowed upon a certain body of men. I trust that the Labour Party will see that if that right is granted, the £300,000 which it is proposed to disburse by way of bounty, shall be paid by the wealthy, and not by the masses. I am quite sure that if we lay down that principle we shall hear no more of people coming to Parliament with a request for the granting of a bonus. How can any man who thinks that the State should guarantee the manufacturer some return upon the capital which he invests in a business, logically object to the State regulating the rate of wages ? He cannot do so logically ; but I am equally sure that it is done every day. One of the most laughable of things occurred in Sydney the other day, when two men, who are extremely well known as protectionists in that State, denounced the Arbitration Bill, which seeks to regulate the rate of wages, although only a week previously they had declared that a bonus should be granted by the State to a body of capitalists who desired to establishiron works there. I object to using the machinery of Parliament for that purpose. We are here merely to administer justice, and to do away with those obsolete laws which press so heavily upon the poorer classes. By repealing these laws, we shall accomplish far more good than by adopting any of the proposals which are to be submitted to us. Iam convinced that, in many cases, we are legislating, not against the cause of the evil, but against the results which naturally flow from those causes. We do not attempt to discover the source of those evils, but merely endeavour to regulate the evils themselves. If effect is to be given to thz principle of free-trade, I certainly advocate free-trade in land. The result of our legislation has been to create a corner in land. We allow men to tie up estates in a way in which we do not permit personal property to be tied up. At the present time, settlements of land are made in a form which was instituted in England for the purpose of protecting a generation against its own vices. We have adopted those laws, and we call ourselves democrats. Yet not one of the States has conferred upon tenants for life the same powers that are given to them in England. We si ill permit artificial corners in land to be created, and these constitute an evil to the community. We talk about the rights which we have given to our tenants; but in that respect we are not nearly so progressive as is England herself. There the agricultural tenant has rights which no tenant in Australia enjoys. The former has a right to his improvements, and he can take many of them away, whereas in Australia that right is denied- to him. What greater benefit could be conferred? We see every day the curse of land monopoly in a young community. It is one of the greatest evils. I come now to the further statement in the Governor-General's speech in reference to the preferential trade proposals that -

My advisers are pleased to note the cordiality with which these are generally regarded in this country, and are confident that the feeling will be strengthened when the statesman who is their author is able to visit us.

It seems to me that the inclusion of this paragraph in the Governor-General's speech is an exhibition of very bad taste. It shows a desire on the part of the Government to playone of those paltry games which can scarcely be explained save on the ground of want of taste. If we were to move the omission or the paragraph it would seem that we were attacking the individual who is named, as well as his policy. Mr. Chamberlain is of no interest to us so far as our legislation is concerned. He is not even in office - he is a mere parliamentarian. I admit that he is a very prominent parliamentarian ; but we have to remember in considering this paragraph that he is not laying down a policy for Australia. We are not called upon to deal with any matters relating to him, and therefore we should be perfectly justified in moving the omission of this paragraph, but for the fact that action in that direction might be regarded as an attack upon the man himself. No one desires that anything of the kind should be done; but the insertion of a statement of this kind in the GovernorGeneral's Speech is the extreme of vulgarity. Nearly every honorable member whom I have consulted in regard to this paragraph, agrees that it shows a great want of taste on the part of the Government. Perhaps it is desirable that I should state why I decline to speak of Mr. Chamberlain as a statesman. Let me give the House his own definition of a statesman. He said on one occasion -

I say that only those are entitled to the name of statesman who can foresee what is to happen, at all events, in their own world, and can provide for it.

Let me apply that test to Mr. Chamberlain, and the House will see how miserably he fails to come within the definition. When he first entered public life he came forward a> a rabid republican; to-day there is no man whose platform is more strongly supported by earls and dukes than is his. Possibly the support he receives from that quarter is due to the propositions he has made to increase land rents. There is no other man who so cordially adopts what he describes as an Imperial tone. Is if not absurd to apply the word " Imperial " to a free people ? Let it be used if you will in relation to the Hindoos and the Emperor of India. But we can have only a King over a free people. A free people can have a head - a monarchial head, it is true - but not an Emperor. There can be no absolute ruler among a free people, and yet this man, if he had power to give effect to his desire, would have to-day such- a ruler. It is not surprising in these circumstances that he has gone round to the protectionist cause.


Mr Mcwilliams - He has a goodly following amongst the working classes.


Mr CONROY - 1 do not say that any man who appeals to class or national bias - who appeals to ignorance or prejudice - may not secure a very large following. But we should gauge the calibre of a politician by his following of men who have had an opportunity to study questions of this kind. No man meets with greater condemnation at the hands of the great bulk of the working men of England who have studied this matter than does Mr. Chamberlain. In 1S70 he advocated popular education on unsectarian. lines ;' to-day he is one of the chief advocates of-


Mr SPEAKER - Does the honorable and learned member consider that that matter has anything to do with the Address in Reply ?


Mr CONROY - Most certainly, sir. We are told in the Governor-General's speech that Mr. Chamberlain will probably visit us. We know that he has been requested to do so, and I am anxious to show what manner of man he is.


Mr SPEAKER - I fail to see what Mr. Chamberlain's views on secular education have to do with the question now before us.


Mr CONROY - Surely I am entitled to prove that Mr. Chamberlain has changed his views on these and other questions ?


Mr SPEAKER - If the honorable and learned member can connect his argument with the Address in Reply he may proceed ; but I would appeal to him not to unnecessarily take up the time of the House in dealing with a side issue.


Mr CONROY - I would ask honorable members whether a man like Mr. Chamberlain is likely to instruct us ? To-day he advocates preferential' trade, but so bitterly opposed was he to the principle a few years ago that he brought forward elaborate statistics in relation to it, and condemned it as strongly as he could. When we apply to him his own definition of a statesman, how lamentably he fails to come within that category. If he is not a statesman, but a mere politician, what purpose can be served by his coming here to instruct us? In the year 1870 he advocated a system of popular education on unsectarian lines, but to-day we find him an advocate of a system of sectarian education. Is he, therefore, so distinguished a statesman that he should be invited to visit Australia? Need I point out that as he was prepared to change his views on the matters to which I have referred, it is quite probable that he may be equally ready to change his views in other directions'? In 1883 he advocated the compulsory purchase of land for public purposes, without compensation to the owners, and even proposed that fines should be imposed upon owners for past misuse of their property ; but during the whole of his subsequent parliamentary career he did nothing to give effect to that proposal. The compensation sections in the English Act still remain as a hindrance to the principle he once supported, so that he _ has evidently gone back upon that principle.

Then, again, he at one time advocated a tax on the unearned increment, but in 1900 he voted against the taxation of land values. Is this the man whom believers in the taxation of the unearned increment ought to propose to bring to Australia? The Ministry who do not believe in it might perhaps do so. In 1885 he was a strong supporter of the principle of betterment; but in 1895 he ridiculed the mere idea of such a proposal. Is he to come to Australia to instruct us in regard to the betterment principle? I should like to know what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who, I believe, was at one time an advocate of that principle, thinks of Mr. Chamberlain's change of policy in this respect. In 1885 Mr. Chamberlain was in favour of manhood suffrage; in 1892 he voted against the abolition of plural voting. Is it any wonder that this Tory Government, knowing of these changes of principle on the part of Mr. Chamberlain, look forward to his visit to Australia? Possibly they wish, at .some future time, to include in their platform a proposal for a return to plural voting, and are seeking his assistance in starting an agitation for a return to the old system. In 1885 Mr. Chamberlain advocated payment of members, but subsequently, when he had an opportunity to give effect to his views of the question, he refrained from voting. He had evidently changed his mind. I do not say whether he was right or wrong in that regard, but it is a remarkable fact that he has turned topsyturvey on almost every, question. Then, again, we find that, in 1885, he supported the principle of triennial Parliaments,, but that in 1892 he voted against it. That is another reason why the Ministry may be anxious to secure his presence in Australia. In 1885 he was one of those who declared that the poor paid double their proper share of taxation. I believe that he was correct in that assertion; but when Sir William Vernon Harcourt, the leader of the Liberal Party, introduced a proposal to make wealthy estates bear their proper share of taxation by means of the succession duties, this distinguished statesman voted against the proposal. He has gone back, upon every principle that he ever professed, and apparently because of that fact the Ministry now wish him to visit the Commonwealth. Nearly twenty years ago he spoke on behalf of, and voted for the principle of, a free breakfast-table; to-day he is advocating a tax on dairy produce, and is bringing forward proposals to tax both the. bread and the meat of the people. The man who has returned to what we should regard as ultra Toryism is the very man whom the present Ministry seek to bring to Australia. Their idea is that he should come here to strengthen their position. Many people are led away by the sound of a great name; and others are attracted by the advertisement which Mr. Chamberlain has given to himself ; but I should like to know whether we are prepared to follow a gentleman of this type. Do we consider that a man who holds the views which Mr. Chamberlain professes to entertain is a distinguished statesman? Are we entitled to describe him as a statesman if we apply to him his own definition of what a statesman should be? Surely it cannot be said that he has foreseen what is likely to happen, and has provided for it? It is for these reasons that I have referred to him as being a politician rather than a statesman. Let us look at what he did in connexion with the Transvaal. He blustered and talked loudly of the new diplomacy, and then blustered into war, admitting at the same time that he believed the other side would never take up arms.


Mr Fisher - He said that it would be only a three months' war.


Mr CONROY - That is so. We talk about the bluster of Russia at the present time, but was not the bluster of our own people just as great in connexion with the Transvaal trouble?


Mr Kelly - Can the honorable and learned member point to any action on the part of Mr. Chamberlain that might fairly be described as bluster?


Mr CONROY - I can. What did he do when he was conducting his negotiations with Kruger? At the very time that he wrote to Kruger about the squeezing of the sponge and the running of the sand through the hour-glass, he wrote to the Secretary for War, stating that he could see no further necessity for reinforcements. Although, as he now tells' us, war was inevitable, he conducted the whole of his negotiations upon the assumption that the Boers were not prepared to fight. Major-General Butler, the man who sent home the warning, was recalled, because he had the courage to say what he believed to be true.


Mr Fisher - He was hounded down:


Mr CONROY - Yes. What further has Mr. Chamberlain done? If there was one thing which it would have been right to do in the Transvaal, it was to see that a white population was settled there. The immigration of white people should have been encouraged at all hazards, in order to place upon the soil white citizens, who in time would be ready to defend their own hearths and homes, and would do the work of ' colonization. That is not the view taken by this so-called statesman, this man to whom the Ministry think we should look for enlightenment, and whom they wish to visit us. He, or those whom he appointed, are introducing thousands of Chinese into the Transvaal, are creating discontent anew, and are uniting the white population only by the cruel bond of poverty. Yet it is proposed by the Ministry that Mr. Chamberlain shall come here, and tell us how to conduct our affairs. The Government seem to think that the sentiment of affection which now binds the Empire together, and is infinitely stronger than any other tie, should be superseded by the bond of interest; that we should consider what we can get out of our fellowcountrymen in pounds, shillings, and pence, rather than how nearly and dearly they a r, related to us. What has Mr. Chamberlain done for the improvement of the conditions of a free people, for the advancement of the world ? The Empire, which his policy would create, would not be an Empire of free citizens, it would be an Empire composed of people such as the natives of Hindustan. It is the spirit of freedom which animates the people of Great Britain, which has done more for the progress of that country than anything else. It is written in Genesis that the spirit of God moved. upon the face of the waters, and since the spirit of freedom has animated the people of England, it might be said that the spirit of God has rested upon that land. See how England has been blessed, and how she has advanced, taking any of the standards of comparison. Honorable members speak against the laws of competition; but what has brought us here? A hundred years ago freedom was practically unknown, except as a thing for poets to falk of, and the world was just learning the laws of competition. But since freedom has become a practical thing,, and competition has had fair play, conditions have changed. What brings any .of' us here? Not our lofty lineage, our high station in' life, or our great wealth ; we owe our position to the working out of the law of competition, of individual effort, which some honorable members so much 'decry. There is not a man here who does not owe his seat to his own energy and individualism. Will any one here say that he owes his seat, not to his own efforts, but to those of some class or body? Such a man would be a poor creature, and would soon be wiped out of political life. I do not deny that the stress of competition is sometimes severe; but the survival of the fittest is a divine law, which runs through all the departments of nature. What are men but the most highly developed form of animal life ?' We can no more escape the operation of the Divine law of which I speak than that of any other Divine law. It is the spirit of individualism which has developed that spirit of altruism which makes us seek to help our fellows; and when honorable gentlemen sneered at the attitude of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, I could not help thinking that the presence of each one of them here is a proof of the triumph of individualism. Our energies should be directed to the amelioration of the conditions of the community, and especially of the poorer classes.


Mr Fisher - No one objects to individualism, so long as it does not exploit the labours of others.


Mr CONROY - I wish I could think that that was the position taken up bv the members of the party to which the honorable gentleman belongs. The Tariff which was passed last session was aimed at exploiting the masses of the people. Was it a just measure? Parliament should first of all observe justice. What are the words of St. Paul ? " Seek first justice, and all things else shall be added to you."


Mr Mauger - That is not a quotation from St. Paul. If the honorable and learned member is as much out in his political economy as he is in his scripture, he is all at sea.


Mr CONROY - Of course I am wrong in attributing the passage to St. Paul, but it is to be found in the Scriptures in a passage related by Sf. Matthew. Is it any wonder that there is growing up in the minds of the people the belief that Parliament is an institution from which one class or another may obtain some special advantage ? Does gur legislation go. to contradict that belief? Why 'did the women agitate for a vote ? Because it was believed that bodies of people unrepresented here could not obtain justice at our hands. Some of the clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill introduced last session absolutely refused to recognise the rights of non-unionists. Was that just? What some honorable membersdesire is that we shall all be driven into the same groove, and regulated out of all that makes life worth living. I do not say that there are not evils consequent upon almost every form of government that can be devised ; but why seek to intensify them ? I hope that we shall hear no more of the proposal that this so-called statesman, Mr. Chamberlain - whom every reader of history knowing his past is aware will never biewritten of as a great statesman, though he may be termed a great demagogue - will visit Australia. Let me now come to another matter dealt with in this preciousspeech. If the Government really wished to assist the agriculturist they would remove the duties which hamper him. They cannot increase the value of my crops by making the machinery I have to buy and usemore expensive. They do nothing to: shield me from competition - I do not object to that, because I am ready to find out what crops best suit my land, and to send my produce to market in competition with that of every one else - but they should not make agricultural machinery so expensive that wesometimes have to do without needful implements. The price of certain machinery has prevented me from buying it, and thusfrom giving that employment which I could" otherwise have given. I admit that I get a good return for the wages I pay, and donot desire to be thanked for spending my capital in the employment of labour. I am grateful to the man who does good work for me, just as he should be thankful for having a good employer; but I do not regard myself as a country squire who should belooked upon by his employes as a philanthropist. I pay good wages, probably thebest wages, and I get the best return I can.


Mr Fisher - The duties on agricultural machinery are not higher than revenueduties.


Mr CONROY - If the Government wishto help the agriculturists, they will remove all these duties. Then we are told in thespeech that provision will be made for the cheaper and speedier transportation of meat, butter, and fruit to the larger centres of population abroad. Fancy this Government encouraging trade ! According to thedoctrine of the protectionist, what greater good could happen to the community than that all our exports, once they have passed beyond the three miles limit, should be destroyed, so that we should get nothing in return for them? What do protectionists regard with greater favour than the total cessation of imports ? As a matter of fact, the Government propose to pass navigation laws to discourage competition amongst shipping on our coast. Those laws are to be passed, not out of consideration of the producers, but for the benefit of a ring of local ship-owners. Here again we have a policy of class legislation antagonistic to the interests of the producing classes. I need hardly point out the inevitable effect of these laws upon the commerce of South Australia and of Western Australia. If the great steam-ship companies of the world are discouraged from sending their steamers here, Adelaide and Fremantle will probably cease to be ports of call. There is no escaping from that position. Is it to be argued that because Western Australia cannot secure the same full representation in this House that is enjoyed by other States, its claims are not to be considered? I hope that a sufficient number of honorable members will be found to insure that the producers of South Australia and Western Australia shall have the fullest and freest opportunities to make use of the great ships trading along our coasts and to the mother-land.. I wish that the number of these ships could be doubled, and that freights were reduced to one-quarter of the present rates. We have heard a great deal of talk about immigration. There is no known law by which Parliament can make an addition to the population of a country. Parliament can, however, make laws which will do very much to discourage population ; and that is exactly what we have been doing. We cannot add to the f fruitfulness of the race, but we can take great care that that fruitfulness shall not be discouraged by our laws. One of the most wonderful features of the history of the last century was the wonderful increase in the population of Europe, which commenced at the time when. the spirit of freedom, was first breathed over the. Continent. For a period of possibly 2,000 years the population of Europe gould have been reckoned at about 175,000,000. There had been very little increase until about the year 1800. Then the spirit of freedom and individualism spread; and the old socialistic laws, which prevented competition, were abrogated. The effects of competition made themselves felt, and the population increased to over 400,000,000 during the century. If the spirit of freedom did that for Europe, let us see what effect it would have upon our community. The Government who have administered a harsh law in a far more drastic manner than was necessary, and who have done so much to discourage immigration, ought not to complain of the present condition of affairs in regard to our population. It has been stated that there is no necessity for the States Governments to appoint Agents-General, and the speech promises that a Bill- shall be brought forward to provide for the appointment of a High Commissioner. It is certain that, until we make such an appointment, there can be no representation of Australian interests in London, and further, we certainly ought to afford the States an opportunity of saving some thousands a year by the withdrawal of their Agents-General. Therefore, upon general grounds, I support the appointment of a High Commissioner. We are told that the report of the Royal Commission appointed to consider the advisability of encouraging the establishment of iron and steel works in the Commonwealth will be laid before us, and that we shall be invited to give it effect. Does any one believe that if that proposal had been designed to afford help to the great masses of the people, the Government would have had anything to do with it? It is because the scheme will play into the hands of wealthy men, who are able to make their representations in person to Ministers, that Parliament is to be called upon to consider it. If any such aid is to be given, however, it should be provided for by means of direct taxation. If an amendment is carried to that effect, I am sure that we shall hear nothing more about the encouragement of the iron and steel industry by means of a bonus. Some persons are ready enough to give encouragement to manufacturers by this means, when they know that the money will be taken from the masses of the people; but if it is insisted that the necessary funds shall be raised by direct taxation, proposals for bonuses will meet with the opposition, not only of the. masses, but of the capitalists, who ought really to know better than to try to make use of the powers of Parliament in order to line their own pockets. The Government were, no doubt, quite within their powers, but in my opinion exhibited very bad taste when they protested to the Imperial Government against the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal. The advice contained in that message was such as I should have given myself. I cannot too strongly reprobate the action of Mr. Chamberlain - whom I regard as responsible in the main for the action now being taken because he appointed I the officials who recommended the introduction of the Chinese - which is absolutely against all maxims of statesmanship. At the same time, we ought not to interfere in such matters, unless we are prepared to receive messages similar to those sent to others by us. That is thesole ground upon which I object to the action of the Government. I am in sympathy with the course taken by the Government, but I cannot express it officially. We may, as citizens, freely express our views, but it is a great mistake for a Parliament such as ours to interfere, in the affairs of another State. We should strongly object if the British Parliament were to send us a message expressing the hope that we would not pass the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. That would be considered an interference with our conditions of self-government. Similarly, it is not fitting that we should interfere in the affairs of the Transvaal.


Mr Mahon - Why did the honorable and learned member vote in favour of sending a contingent to the Transvaal to interfere at the time of the war? ,


Mr CONROY - Was I not one of those members who did not vote in favour of the contingent?


Mr McDonald - The honorable and learned member voted in favour of the contingent being sent.


Mr CONROY - I may have done so, but my own impression is that I was not present in the House at the time. Be that as it may, however, I would point out that there is a great difference between an occasion of the kind to which I have been referring and a case in which war has been entered upon. In the case of war, it may be the truest kindness to assist in bringing it to a conclusion, even after one may have fought tooth and nail against such a war being entered upon.


Mr McDonald - Hear, hear. It was a cruel war, and was entered upon in order that the Boers might be robbed of their mines. Now it is proposed to hand over the mines to Chinamen.


Mr CONROY - And yet the action was taken by the man whom the Government now invite to Australia. I presume that it is intended to ask the House to vote a sum of money to defray his expenses.


Sir George Turner - The honorable and learned member presumes wrongly.


Mr CONROY - Then why should the matter have, been mentioned in the

Governor-General's speech? We are told that

The operation of the Sugar Bounty Act has fostered the employment of white labour, so that the number or growers taking advantage of it is steadily increasing.

All I can say is that the conditions in regard to sugar growing in Queensland and the payment of the sugar bounties present an extraordinary spectacle. It has been stated that the land upon which sugar growing is conducted is the richest farming land in Australia.


Mr McDonald - Hear hear ; that is quite true.


Mr CONROY - Then does it not seem marvellous that we should be practically paying the sugar growers £10 per acre per annum, because they are the owners of the richest farming land in Australia? We may presume that one acre of land produces two tons of sugar, upon which a bounty of £: per ton is paid, if it is grown by means of white labour. Therefore, the occupiers of the poorer lands of Australia are called upon to contribute £10 per acre to the owners of the richest farm lands. Could anything be more ludicrous ? Would it not be more reasonable to call upon the sugar planters to assist the owners of the poorer argicultural lands? If the sugar lands cannot be put to any use except with the assistance of a bonus of £io per acre, we should be better off without them. This is one of the results of the brilliant statesmanship of the members of the present Gov.ernment. Do we not deserve every misfortune that can possibly fall upon us while we allow such a body of men to continue in office? I need not refer to the discouraging effects of the sugar bounty upon the other great industries in which sugar is used as the raw material. The jam 'and fruit preserving industries are placed under a great handicap, and the ' orchardists also stand at a disadvantage while sugar is protected to the extent of £6 per ton. To-day every farmer throughout Australia is called upon to contribute his quota in order to keep the richest lands in Australia under cane cultivation. How many additional hours has he to work during the year in order to do that? What is his recompense or that of the orchardist who is discouraged in his attempts to obtain a market for his fruit? What is the encouragement which is offered to the jam manufacturer? Yet the Ministry are so proud of their work that they constantly recall the granting of this bonus to our remembrance. We are further told that -

The Defence Act has been proclaimed, and regulations under it approved. The Forces of the Commonwealth are now subject but to one Act and one code of regulations, insuring their effective organization.

When I saw the statement of the Minister for Defence, that he had provided for the common defence of Australia, I naturally looked round to discover signs of it. I got them in thirteen and a half foolscap pages of regulations. How have the Government provided for the defence of Australia? They have provided aiguillettes and shoulder pads for the staff. I find that its members are to wear -

Cord¼ inch gold and red orris basket, with plait and cord loop in front, and same at back, the plaits ending in plain gold with gilt metal tags.

What a masterly stroke on the part of the Minister for Defence. Again we are told that -

The long cord is looped up on the top or front cord, the front cord and the short and lung plaits are fastened together, and a small gold braid loop is fixed thereon to attach to the top button of tunic, and to lower hook on neck of the frock coat. On the latter, on the side on which the aiguillette is worn, the arm is passed between the front plait and cord, and the back or long plait and cord.

For the General Officers the shoulder pad, we are informed, is to be of -

Plaited gold wire, basket cord, and they must be very careful about the size of the cord. It is to be three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter.


Mr Chapman - Is the honorable member reading from regulations or from general orders?


Mr CONROY - From general orders. I do not question that they have been fully approved by the Minister. Indeed, the honorable gentleman must have spent many years in' a millinery establishment, otherwise he could never have evolved them all. The shoulder pads are to be -

Plaited gold wire, basket cord three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter, small gold gimp down the centre, strap of the shoulder knot 2¼ inches wide, terminating in a small 4 inch wing.

Probably that will give a fuller appearance to the shoulders. There is to be -

An eyelet hole next to the collar.

What is that for ? It is for -

A small gilt button.

To think that the mighty intellect of the Minister for Defence should have been engaged for so many weeks in elaborating this scheme of ornamentation.


Mr Batchelor - Is this dress intended for the citizen soldiers?


Mr CONROY - I am quoting from " the dress regulations for officers of the staff, militia, partially-paid, and volunteer military forces of the Commonwealth of Australia." For the light horse the aiguillette is to be fastened on the shoulder, not 'with a button, but with a " screw button." The dress of the field artillery is to be of the same pattern as that of the light horse. In the Army Service Corps a serious distinction is made, inasmuch as a blue silk thread is to be worked in, and the Army Medical Corps is to have a chocolate silk thread. The breeches were a matter of serious consideration. Men may wear them to fit their legs or loose, but in the case of officers they must be "cut loose at the thigh and tight at the knee." They are to be laced below the knee, in the centre of the leg. The pockets are to be cut across, and the breeches are to have a waist-strap and buckle. The garrison artillery are to have -

Cord,¼ inch gold, three lines from shoulder to shoulder resting on the breast.

What would happen if a member of the artillery had two lines in his uniform, or if there were only a single line, I can only feebly conjecture.

The lines are to fall one inch apart in the centre, and meet at the ends of the shoulder pads, being sewn on to the right shoulder pads, and fastened to the left with hooks and eyes.

Does the Minister intend to hire out these officers for the next pantomime? The engineers' shoulder-pads are to be -

The same as above, but with red and blue silk threads worked in.

The militia are to have dark green silk threads worked in ; the Army Ordnance Corps, blue silk threads; and the Veterinary Department, maroon silk threads. Coming to the officers, I learn that a captain is to have two rows of chevron lace, a lieutenant-colonel three rows of chevron lace and four rows of braid alternately. I find, too, that the Minister for Defence himself is not observing the regulations, which provide that linen collars are to be worn buttoned on to the collar-jacket, so as to show one-eighth of an inch above. I learn also that -

Knee boots of black leather will be worn, and black spur leathers and steel chains, whilst the collar badges, where worn, must be of metal. For the general officers the peak cap is to be of " patent leather, embroidered all round with oak leaves in gold,¾ inch wide." Coming to the hat, how is it to be carried ? Some people may imagine that the members of our Defence Force may cock it jauntily upon their heads just as they please. Nothing of the sort. It is to be -

Set at an angle of about sixty degrees, and carried well back to protect the temples.

There is also to be -

A brown leather chin strap,3/8 inch wide, buttoned on to two brown bone buttons, placed immediately behind the corners of the peak, with the badge in front. Such caps will be worn straight on the head.

We have heard a good deal about the feathers of the Rocky Mountain eagle, but the feathers which are to be worn with the service hat outshine these altogether. For example, I find that the staff are to have

Red and white cock's feathers drooping on left side of hat. measuring, when out of socket, from base of feathers to point, fourteen inches, six inches across widest part.

I find that in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania the officers are to wear emu feathers and regimental badge, but in Western Australia they are to use ostrich feathers and regimental badge. The field artillery are to wear a feather plume in their hats, with red and blue rosette and grenade. The Army Corps are to have " a chocolate ostrich plume, banded at base with chocolate vulture feathers." The height of the plume is to be seven inches. Let honorable members think of the hours of study which the Minister must have bestowed upon these regulations. Probably the whole Ministry were called upon to consider them, because the effortinvolved would surely be too great for any one man. I find again that the gorget button is to be "1 inch from the point." I might go on quoting page after page of these regulations.


Mr O'Malley - Were they issued after the present Minister came into office ?


Mr CONROY - Yes.


Mr O'Malley - I am astonished !


Mr CONROY - They were published almost immediately after the Minister's celebrated declaration that he had provided for the national defences. A mind that could evolve a system like this could not accept a correction, and therefore I have not thought it necessary to protest. I felt, after reading these regulations, that it would be useless for me to attempt to protest against them, but I made up my mind to bring them prominently before honorable members. I sympathize with the Minister for Defence. The reading of these details appears to have dumbfounded him, because, for the first time in his political life, I find him unable to make a reply. Apparently this is the first occasion on which these regulations have been brought under his notice. Turning again to the list, I find that a sash is to be worn. What would these men be without one? It is provided that the sash for the staff shall be-

Gold and crimson silk net, 2¼ inches wide; two crimson stripes3/8 inch wide, the rest gold ; round loose gold bullion fringe tassels, with crimson threads, 9 inches long, round heads.

It is to be -

Fastened with buckles round the waist, the tassels hanging from the left side on the hip, the ends not to reach lower than the bottom of the skirt of the jacket.

Coming to the sash to be worn by the Director-General of Medical Services, we find that black silk net is to be substituted for crimson silk net, and that for light horse, other than lancers, a white silk net sash is to be worn not 2¼ inches wide but 21/8 inches in width. I wonder whether these men measure the width of their sashes as soon as they meet, in order to determine the company to which they belong. When the Director of the British Embassy, Colonel McCartney, went to China, he had to be particularly careful that he and his staff did not sit on chairs lower than that provided for the Emperor himself. If he had sat on a chair even an eighth of an inch lower than that occupied by the Emperor, it would have been accepted at once as proof of degradation of rank. The staff had to carry with them a pocket rule with which to measure their seats, and as an assertion of British authority, care was taken that none of the members of the Embassy used a chair lower than that occupied by the Emperor. Here it. appears we have adopted the Chinese fashion. We provide not for a seat, but for a sash which is to be inches wide in one case, but only 21/8 inches wide in another. The artillery are to wear a sash of golden silk net, 21/8 inches wide, with round loose golden silk fringe tassels,9 inches long, round heads, and fastened as in the case of the staff sash. There are pages and pages of these regulations, and the list is only kept within nine or ten pages by such condensations as, for example -

Engineers. - As for artillery, but with red and blue silk threads in tassels.

Infantry. - As for artillery, with dark green silk threads in tassels.

The Defence Act has been proclaimed ; regulations under the Act have been approved, and the Ministry are so proud of their success that they have placed this list of regulations before us, and have asked us to approve of it. I confess that I have never had any strong regard for a military system. If we have to rely only upon paid men for our defence, we shall be in a poor position, for paid men have nothing to fight for. The best defence that a nation can have lies in the possession of a bold spirit by its people. I would give our men the arms necessary to enable them to show the possession of that bold spirit, but I would not call upon others to defend us. If a man's country is not worth defending, it is time for him to leave it and make room for others who will be prepared to light for it. We should not condemn a man who is destitute of courage, because, after all, it is his misfortune; we can only hope that men of that stamp will quietly die away. Turning again to the Governor-General's speech, I find it is stated that -

A Conference of representatives of the Governments interested in the Pacific Cable will shortly be held in London for the purpose of considering its financial management, and the provisional agreement entered into between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Eastern Extension Telegraphic Company.

I believe that the Ministry will at least do me the justice of admitting that when they entered into the agreement with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, and set aside the opinions of the New Zealand and Canadian Governments, I declared in this House that they had been guilty of a gross outrage, that their action was distinctly against equity, that we were bound to consult the other parties to the agreement, and that to do anything else was to befoul the fair name of the Commonwealth. I am glad to see that even at this late hour the Government have repented of their action, and are seeking now to repair the mischief which they then did. I do not say that we should not endeavour to make the best possible arrangements for an effective service; but when we cannot be forced to do something that we are asked to do, we ought to be most anxious to appear before the world as a people ready to observe, not only the letter, birt the spirit of the law. No such anxiety was displayed by the Government in the case of the agreement entered into with the

Eastern Extension Company, and it is humiliating to think that the House did not condemn them for their action. Some of us did so, but although our protest was of no avail, I am pleased to think that the Government now recognise the force of our objections. We are told also in the GovernorGeneral's speech that -

The removal of vexatious restrictions upon commercial intercourse between the States of the Commonwealth has received attention. It is hoped that Inter-State certificates upon the transfer of goods between New South Wales and Victoria will soon be dispensed with, or at least greatly modified.

I should like to know how long the Treasurer believes it will be necessary to continue the system of inter-State certificates. Were not accounts to be kept for only two years after the establishment of the Commonwealth Tariff? Bv the Tariff Act itself we declared that it should date from the 8th October, 1901, but, in my opinion, we had no power to make that provision. I feel satisfied .that the High Court will decide that when we made the Act retrospective we did something that was entirely beyond our power - that the time at which the Act really came into existence, so far as the other purposes of the Constitution are concerned, was the date on which it received the Royal assent. Western Australia's special tariff will run five years from that date, and not from the date of the introduction of the Bill, which had then only the sanction of the Executive behind it. ' Every step in the direction indicated in this paragraph has my warm and hearty approval, because it is another move towards that free intercourse which we all so much desire. If the imposition of inter-State duties would make New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland wealthy, and add to the industries of Western Australia and South Australia, why is it that the Federation, which was brought about for the well- being of the people, found it necessary to do away with them? By all means let these " vexatious restrictions " be continued, if they really add to the wealth of the community. But it is one of those inconsistencies from which the protectionists find it impossible to escape, that they have to admit that every step taken in the direction of freeing trade is really to the advantage of the people. It is set forth in His Excellency's speech that -

The consent of the Parliament of Western Australia has been given, and that of the Government of South Australia sought, for the construction of a railway to connect Western Australia with the Eastern States, and you will be asked to make provision by Bill for a survey of the line.

I yield to no honorable member in my desire that a measure of the kino* mentioned in this paragraph shall be considered by us at the proper time, and I should like to see the coming of that day expedited as much as possible ; but while we are seeking to make provision for a line of this character, it is equally clear that we must. either have the power to build other railways to connect it with the coast, or that those branch lines must be constructed by the States themselves. The transcontinental line must be tapped, for example, by a line running from Eucla, which must be part of the one general scheme. If the State itself does not construct it, we must retain the power to carry out the work ourselves.


Mr Carpenter - Where does the honorable and learned member get that theory ?


Mr CONROY - It is my own opinion of the situation. Then, again, we must have power to construct a line from Kalgoorlie to Esperance Bay or Israelite Bay, or otherwise the cost of the goods conveyed to the people there will be absolutely prohibitive.


Mr Carpenter - Western Australia has the power to construct those lines.


Mr CONROY - I am aware of that; bur we must take care either that she constructs them herself, or gives us the power to make them. The Commonwealth, before undertaking the construction of a transcontinental railway, involving an expenditure of about ^4,000,000, should take power to construct at the same time connecting lines from at least two of the ports on .the southern coast, as feeders to the main line. Otherwise the people will have to pay an enormous sum of money for a railway which it will be impossible to put to the best use.


Mr Frazer - That would be a good thing for the Commonwealth, perhaps ; but how about Western Australia?


Mr CONROY - If the traffic of the main line were increased by the construction of these feeders it would be a good thing for the Commonwealth, and as the States have now federated, a good thing for Western Australia, too. I cannot understand the contention that a thing may be good for the Commonwealth, and not for Western Australia or any other State, though I could understand .the contention that it might be good for the Treasury of the Commonwealth, but not for the Treasury of Western Australia.


Mr Frazer - That is what I meant.


Mr CONROY - What is good for the Commonwealth must be good for Western Australia, because it would do injury to the Commonwealth for harm to happen to Western Australia, or to any other State; but the Treasury of a State might be affected without harm being done to the Treasury of the Commonwealth.


Mr Carpenter - Would the honorable and learned member make those feeders without the consent of the States concerned ?


Mr CONROY - No. I would use every means possible to persuade the authorities of those States to construct such lines as I spoke of, and, if possible, would obtain from .them the promise that they would be constructed, but if this were not given I would not construct the lines. I would leave it to them to choose the ports with which the feeders should connect. For instance, I believe that the surveyed route of the . proposed transcontinental line lies about ninety miles to the north of Eucla, and apart from the traffic advantage, it would probably pay to construct a branch line from Eucla to the main line merely to provide for the transport of materials required for the construction of the main line, instead of taking everything from Port Augusta or Kalgoorlie. We are told in the speech that a Bill will be submitted for the purpose of creating the Inter-State Commission. I admit that the Constitution provides for the creation of the Inter- State Commission, just as it empowers this Parliament to create a good many other bodies; but I submit that it is not wise to create these bodies one after the other at the present time. The honorable member for Gippsland referred to the strong liking of the Minister for Trade and Customs for making appointments. If the honorable member is really sincere in what he said, I consider it his duty to vote against the adoption of the Address in Reply, in order to give effect to his Opinions. Seeing that the Minister for Trade and Customs, in introducing this Bill, will be doing only what the Constitution provides for, there appears to be no need for such a vicious attack upon him. I am not in favour of the Bill ; but I am forced to admit that the Constitution provides for the creation of the Inter-State Commission. Then we are told that the Government intend to introduce a short Bill to enable the Executive of the Commonwealth to assume the direct control of New Guinea. I can hardly conceive of a measure to which more attention should be given by us than such a Bill, because it will provide for the government by the Commonwealth of nearly 250,000 black subjects, and will raise many problems for us to face. Is it proposed that the natives, of New Guinea shall be allowed to freely enter the Commonwealth, and to accept employment here? I am afraid that once New Guinea becomes part of the Commonwealth, the High Court will decide that trade intercourse and commerce between it and the mainland must be absolutely free.


Mr Watson - But will New Guinea become part of the Commonwealth?


Mr CONROY - If it does not, I think it will be injurious to our interests to take control of the British possession there. I look forward with dismay and apprehension to the possibility of the creation of what in time may become a serious racial difficulty. In the Southern States of America there are now nearly 13,000.000 negroes, between whom and the whites the racial feeling is so strong that it is interfering with the administration of justice, and has brought about what is almost civil war hi one part of the country. When the New Guinea Bill comes before us, we shall' have to consider matters like these. Still, as the Bill is not to be introduced until " inquiry now being made is completed," I presume that it will not be submitted for our consideration during the present Parliament. I find, too, that it is intended to improve the steam-ship communication between Australia and the New Hebrides, the Gilbert and the Ellice Groups. The Postmaster-General recently pretended to rejoice at the position in which he found himself when the big English steam-ship companies refused to tender for the conveyance of mails to Great Britain, and told the country that it was a foolish thing to pay subsidies to mail steamers. Now, however, we find the Government proposing to subsidize a steam-ship service to these islands. We, on this side of the House, welcome everything that tends to the development of trade, and, as we believe that Australia must become the mistress of the Pacific, we rejoice that steps are to be taken which will tend to increase our influence there and add to our national wealth. I cannot understand the position of honorable members opposite, however, who at one time say that they think subsidies should not be given, and immediately afterwards propose to give subsidies to increase our trade with the Pacific, while they have retained duties upon importations f rom abroad which very seriously hamper that trade. But, of course, that . is only another example of their inconsistency. We are told in the speech that it is intended to examine the experience gained in the recent elections, with a view to the amendment of the Electoral Act. The members of the Opposition are willing that the Act should be amended, but we also are desirous that its main provisions shall be carried into effect. -All parties in the House are aware of the serious discrepancy which now exists between the distribution of electors and representation. We cannot blame the new members of the House for the votes given by their predecessors last session, but the action taken then in refusing to ratify the distribution of electorates submitted by the Commissioners appointed by the Government will always remain as a monument to record what to my mind was the very worst thing ever done within this chamber. If we destroy the purity of representation, we weaken the strength of the foundation upon which Parliament rests. We are also promised bills to regulate copyright, and relating to trades marks and merchandise, which, of course, will be complementary to the Patents Act. I have no objection to those measures, though I do not think that there will be time to pass them during this session. If only half of the programme submitted in the Governor-General's speech is carried out, we shall do well. Of course, if the House were divided into committees, and the legislation of the session distributed among them, we could get more Bills through, but they would not be. the enactments of a representative Assembly. I cannot too strongly urge the Government not to sit more than three days a week. If we sit more frequently it will be impossible for honorable members to thoroughly consider the measures presented to them. The Electoral Bill was brought before us at a time when we were hurrying and rushing through other legislation, so that I had only a couple of days to give to its consideration. I was able to show, however; that it was framed upon half-a-'dozen different principles, and that its provisions conflicted to such an extent that it required to be practically re-drafted. I felt that, if passed into law, it would certainly be a failure, and I said that I washed my hands of all responsibility in regard to it.


Mr Robinson - The High Court knocked the stuffing out of it this morning.


Mr CONROY - Yes. I was told that there were plenty of other honorable members who were ready to undertake the work of dealing with the measure, and my reply was that if I, who am able to work twelve or fourteen hours a day, could not find the time necessary to thoroughly consider it, other .members could not do so either. I have experienced the melancholy satisfaction of finding that I was quite right in the strictures which I passed upon the Bill when it was before us. If we follow a similar course this session, we 'cannot look with any confidence for sound legislation. As a legislative body we cannot proceed any faster than the slowest of our individual members. We are maintaining a rate of speed in our work, with which no man can keep pace. There is not one of our Acts through which a coach and four could not be driven, and it is highly desirable that we should change our methods. It must be borne in mind that the mistakes we make bear most heavily on the poorer classes of the community, because they are frequently unable to afford the expense that would be involved in correcting them. Therefore, we should be most careful to avoid inflicting disabilities upon them. There is a mixture of good and evil in everything. The old fight between what the Persians of old called Ormuzd and Ahri'man, in other wor-ds, between good and evil, is still going on, and there is an admixture of both good and evil in all our legislation. The more we examine what has been done in the past, the more clearly must we see that legislation has seldom been attended by the results expected. I believe that, unless legislation recognises great moral principles it will never come up to the anticipation of those who pass it. We should never do evil in the expectation of good results. Good never does result from evil, and the history of legislation shows that any departure from great moral principles always involves some evil. If we try to correct a great evil by substituting what we regard as a lesser one, the results will still be disastrous, and, I believe, that only when a thing is morally right, does it become financially and politically right. We are told, in the Governor-General's speech, that it is intended to introduce Bills to regulate copyrights, and to deal with trade marks and other similar matters. These proposals may be very good in themselves, and will no doubt have to be considered in due time, but I hope that we shall not be asked to deal with them during the coming session. It will be physically impossible for honorable members to attend to the amount of work mapped out by the Government. It is not for nothing that the Judges and barristers in the Law Courts have regular vacations. They would be anxious to get on with the work of the Courts if they could. But the experience of hundreds of years has shown them that mental work involved in arriving at just decisions upon matters involving intricate points of law, imposes so serious a strain on the brain that those engaged in the work are absolutely unable to carry it on in the same way as if it were merely physical labour. It must be remembered that the reasoning power which we are now able to exercise is the result of one of the most wonderful developments of the human mind. So far as our physical nature is concerned, we are called upon only to exercise our muscles, and can perform work to the extent to which our muscles respond to the calls made upon them. But it has been found impossible for the mind to keep pace with the body. We must not, as a legislative body, place ourselves entirely in the hands of the parliamentary draftsman, Parliament is .practically a committee of the public, intrusted with very extensive powers, and capable of enforcing its advice by the aid of civil and military forces. I am sorry to say that Parliament is rather too ready to give such advice. Its powers should be more discreetly exercised. I had hoped that the Government would at least have devoted some attention to the question of the allowance made to honorable members, The experience of last Parliament taught us that the allowance ought either to be abolished or considerably increased. The allowances .made to members of the State Parliament may be quite sufficient, because the members of those legislative bodies are able to engage in their ordinary avocation at times w/hen Parliament is not sitting. Honorable members of this House are, however, placed in a different position. The representatives of such distant States as Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania are absolutely compelled to give up their private businesses for the time being, and therefore the allowance which is now made must be regarded as entirely inadequate for them. At the time that the Constitution was framed it was foreseen that the allowance provided might be found insufficient. Therefore it was fixed at ^400 per annum until Parliament otherwise provided.


Mr Skene - Parliament might decide that the allowance should be reduced instead of being increased.


Mr CONROY - Quite so; but I contend that the time has come for a revision.


Mr Liddell - In what direction ?


Mr CONROY - In the direction of increasing the allowance. I was not sure at one time that payment of members would not lead to the introduction of a class of agitators who would be much more concerned in stirring up the people than in studying the best interests of the Commonwealth. But the experiment has withstood the test of experience. We must presume that the representatives in this Parliament are fairly distinguished in certain walks of life, and that they represent the best intelligence of the community. If that be the case, the allowance is quite inadequate. It must be admitted, also, that present conditions do not permit of full and free competition for the representation of the people in Parliament. Many professional men are under present conditions precluded from taking up a legislative career. In this connexion, I might point out that the ranks of professional men are recruited from the labouring classes as well as from other sections of the community. If we went through" our universities we should find that the greater number of our professional men had fathers who earned their living by their daily labour. The reason why more of these men do not' seek to enter Parliament is that the allowance provided for representatives of the people is inadequate. How much of it is consumed in electioneering expenses alone?.


Mr McLean - One hundred pounds.


Mr CONROY - I trust that the honorable member for Gippsland was able to secure his re-election for that sum. I know that, in order to avoid exceeding the limit which was imposed under the Electoral Act, I had to abandon my intention to visit certain portions of my electorate, because not for a dozen seats in Parliament would I place my name to a false declaration. I should have felt that I was debasing my manhood by so doing. Taking into account the cost of their election, the demands which are made upon honorable members, and the expenses which are incurred by. them, especially by representatives who come from other States, I. am unable to see how they can possibly retain even £150 of their parliamentary allowance. I' know that I sat here throughout the whole of the first Parliament, and was never able to overtake my expenses. The honorable member for South Sydney and two or three others occupied a similar position. I. do not object to that state of things. If there were no parliamentary allowance whatever, I think that I should still remain in politics; but if the allowance is to be considered as payment for our services, I hold that it is utterly inadequate. I wish to see such an allowance offered as will insure competition for seats in this Legislature. At the recent elections, in New South Wales we could not induce men of the professional class to offer themselves as candidates - men who by their intellectual work had shown that they were fitted to take part in the deliberations of Parliament. The same difficulty, I know, was experienced in Western Australia and Queensland. Where is there a man mentally fitted to take part in the legislative work of the community who would regard the present allowance as adequate? Men of that type, when appproached upon the matter, usually reply : " I should like to enter parliamentary life very much, but I cannot afford to do so." The conditions which are applicable to the States Parliaments are very different from those surrounding the Commonwealth Legislature. If the members of the Labour Party are all worthy of a seat in Parliament I should like to witness competition amongst' them. This is no new matter with me. Some two and a half years ago, when the question arose as to whether Ministers should be permitted to draw their allowance as representatives, in addition to the salaries attached to their portfolios, I declared that their remuneration was far too small. I repeat that statement now, although I do not say that it has' not been infinitely too large for the members of the present Ministry. If, however, the people choose to elect those who are unfitted to occupy such high offices, that is their affair. Our duty is to see that an adequate allowance is provided. The work of a true parliamentarian does not consist merely in discussing the measures which are submitted for consideration. I could name at least three members of the Labour Party whom I met during the recess, and whom I found engaged in reading works which reflected the greatest credit upon them. Were they not fitting themselves to receive an adequate remuneration? Of course all my remarks are based upon the assumption that there should be some parliamentary allowance. Honorable members evidence their belief in that principle by accepting the allowance. If I thought that the principle was not a right one, 1 should refuse to accept my payment.


Sir John Forrest - The honorable and learned member is not much in favour of it.


Mr CONROY - I am in favour of it. It is a subject which honorable members must consider for themselves. Let me point to the Bank of New South Wales as an example. I suppose that that institution has at least a couple of hundred officers, to whom it pays far larger salaries than the whole community pays to the members of this Parliament. If capitalistic institutions find that it is to their interest to pay substantial salaries to their officers, surely it is in the interests of the Commonwealth that a substantial sum should be paid to members of this Parliament. If we take the average duration' of the political life of men in Australia-


Mr Mahon - They take a lot of killing.


Mr CONROY - The extraordinary feature is that very few of them average a political life of ten years. I am bound to say that, so far, in spite of many temptations, we know of no instances of men growing wealthy by the prostitution of their political principles. That is a wonderful tribute to their strength of principle. Let honorable members recall the occasion when the Tariff was under discussion. One of the most marvellous features in connexion with that period was that no one could place his finger upon any instance of corruption. I am bound to say that some of the lobbying which was indulged in was positively disgraceful, and it afforded me intense pleasure to find that in most cases where direct lobbying had come under the notice of honorable members, instead of the duties being raised, they were lowered. Any one engaged in certain industries could make it well worth the while of Ministers and honorable members generally to impose heavy duties on certain articles. But I do not know that Ministers or honorable members generally are making a great display of carriage; I do not know that they are making thousands of pounds as members of Parliament, although it is perfectly clear that because of certain mistaken notions which some honorable members entertain they have allowed many manufacturers to dip their hands into the public purse. The Government should have taken care to provide an adequate allowance for honorable members. I expressed this opinion when I was before the electors, and

I shall continue to give utterance to it, although whether any alteration will be made is quite a different matter. We have now realized that what might be regarded as an adequate allowance in the case of a representative of Victoria is entirely inadequate in the case of an honorable member who has to come here from another State, who has to incur the expense of travelling to and' fro, and bear the cost of keeping himself here, as well as of maintaining his home in another part of the Commonwealth.


Mr O'Malley - The present allowance is not even sufficient for an honorable member representing a Victorian constituency.


Mr CONROY - I agree with the honorable member. I do not see how it would be possible to discriminate; but if we Could do so, we should certainly discriminate in the favouring of honorable members representing other States. Another remarkable feature of the GovernorGeneral's speech is the intimation that the Government propose to introduce a Bill dealing with rings and trusts.


Mr Kingston - It will be the old Bill - at all events it bears the same title.


Mr CONROY - Perhaps so. What is responsible for the formation of rings and trusts? I reply unhesitatingly that the imposition of Customs duties to the inordinate extent to which they have been placed on the people of Australia has already led to the creation of trusts. When the tobacco duties were under the consideration of the House I and other honorable members pointed out that the proposed margin between the Customs and Excise duties on this commodity would put a profit of from £180,000 to £200,000 a year into the pockets of certain manufacturers in Australia. The suggestion was ridiculed by many honorable members who had not considered the matter carefully, and they were misled into making an enormous difference between the Customs and Excise duties, and this has resulted in private persons appropriating large sums which should rightly have gone into the Treasury. In defence of the attitude which I then took up, I would mention that about a fortnight ago I learned that the various tobacco manufacturers had amalgamated. Messrs. H. O. Wills and Co., the States Tobacco Co., Cameron and Co., Dixson and Co., Kronheimer and Co., and some other firm, have formed themselves into one body. A trust has been formed, and it is anticipated that a profit of about , £150,000 will be divided as the result of the year's operations. Last year one firm alone made a net profit of £80,000. I am not blaming these gentlemen. They have a perfect right to conduct their business as they think best. As a private individual, I might say to them - " The law permits and encourages you to do certain things, and you ought to go on and prosper." They have prospered, and they will make larger profits from their business than honorable members on the Government side of the House ever ' imagined possible. If honorable members opposite had recognised that, as the result of the wide margin allowed between Customs and Excise duties on tobacco, such large profits would be made in this business, I am sure that they would have supported honorable members of the Opposition, who declared that no one should be allowed to dip his hands into the coffers, of the Treasury; that manufacturers should depend for their livelihood, not upon the plundering of others, but upon the fruits of their own labour.


Sir John Forrest - " Blundering " is rather a hard word to use.


Mr CONROY - What term would the right honorable gentleman have me employ ? I might describe it as " legalized taking," but the fact that it is legalized does not prevent it from being rightly described as plunder.


Sir John Forrest - It is only profit.


Mr CONROY - We have no right to compel other men to contribute to such profits.


Mr Fowler - The Minister does not smoke.


Mr CONROY - That is all the more reason why he. should not have assisted in compelling others to give to a fund to which he himself does not contribute. A ring has also been formed in the jam-making trade. Every tin of jam that one sees in Australia is practically under the domination of the one trust.


Mr McDonald - Then there is the sugar monopoly.


Mr CONROY - I do not propose to deal with that monopoly, although it is probably one of the worst. Some of the jam manufacturers did not ask for the imposition of duties on imported jams, and they are fully entitled to take what the law gives them in this respect. They are entitled to carry on their business in their own way ; but what right have we to insist that there shall be guaranteed to them a profit that we cannot grant to the rest of the community. Can we guarantee to every man out of work a right at all times, to the interest on his labour ? Can we, by any Act of Parliament, give a man at all times the right of employment? If we cannot give to the worker the right of employment - or, in other words, if right, at all times, to the interest on his capital - what right have we to say to the moneyed man - "What we cannot grant to the poor we will grant to you, although you do not need it. We will take from the one the little he has and give to the man who hath much." To what an extent has the policy of the Government been based on those lines, and to what extent do the members of the Ministry disgrace the name of statesman when they adopt such a system ? What can be said of honorable members who profess to come here as the representatives of labour when they allow such a state of affairs to continue? Can they expect the support of men who, like myself, say that they represent not organized, but unorganized labour, and fight the more strenuously for that unorganized labour becauseit has no direct voice in this House? How many unionists are there in Australia? We know that there are about one in every eight of the population. The Labour Party seeks to represent only the organized interests ; but what about the u iorganized interests? What about the men who lie helpless under our laws - who cannot fight against them because they have not the means at their disposal? Are they not to be considered? It makes one's blood boil to think that we have honorable members usurping to themselves the name of representatives of Labour who yet assert that, because a man has not joined an organization - has not come under a certain form of rules - he is not to be considered a labourer. What is to be thought of those who assert that because a minority - an organized minority, it is true - has obtained representation in this House, the great mass of the people are not entitled to direct representation? Is that the way in which to improve the conditions of the community ? What is the object of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill? What will it provide? Will it not declare that the man who does not come into line with these organizations, who will not yield up his right to sell his labour where he thinks best, shall be thrust aside?


Mr Fowler - What about the union of the honorable and learned member's profession ?


Mr CONROY - Two wrongs do not make a right. The course pursued in my profession, may be absolutely wrong. I believe that it is ; but no man should be permitted to represent himself as the master of a profession when he has not undertaken the study necessary to qualify himself for it.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - To which profession does the honorable and learned member refer ?


Mr CONROY - It is true that I am a member of two professions, and I think that if a man is entitled to receive credit for his labour I am ; but I have never belonged to a union.


Mr O'Malley - The honorable and learned member belongs to the strongest union in Australia.


Mr CONROY - Does the honorable member think that I have ever yielded to the dictates of leaders ? I have never done so. Honorablemembers of the Labour Party will probably say that I am not a Labour man, and yet at one time I worked for seventeen, eighteen, . and nineteen hours a day in order to raise myself above the condition of life in which I was placed.


Mr Hutchison - But the honorable and learned member is a unionist.


Mr CONROY - I would tell the honorable member that I have worked fifteen and sixteen hours a day with an axe, and at the close of my day's labours sat down to study. Nevertheless it is said that I have no sympathy with Labour. Can I not enter into the feelings of a man who is anxious to obtain work but cannot find it ? I have accepted as little as10s . a week in return for my labour, and it would be impossible to find a man possessed of a more fiery spirit than I had when I was anxious tor work and could not always obtain it. Would it have been possible in such circumstances to find a man with stronger feelings of revolt in his heart against the. laws which I believed kept down the masses? Because the Labour Party represent one man out of eight, and will not give any consideration to others, am I to be shut out? Is it to be said that I do not belong to the representatives of Labour? Those who say so speak what is not true. There are thousands who, like me, seek for an alteration of the law, not in the direction of enabling one class to plunder another, butto secure simple justice for all. We do not believe that the exaltation of any one class can lead to the exaltation of the community generally.. It is only by improving the conditions of all - unionists and non-unionists alike - that it is possible to secure that elevation of the community which alone can bring about true prosperty. We have men on this side who, like myself, have always worked in some way or other for their daily bread, and are we to be considered as other than Labour men? Are we to be regarded as a class shut out from the great bulk of humanity ? God forbid !


Mr McDonald - We will take the honorable and learned member into our party next week.


Mr CONROY - But for the fact that the Labour Party holds caucuses, I should have been with them long ago. I differ from them, not in regard to their aims, but in regard to their methods. I would give no consideration to any man who would take upon himself the right to determine what course of action I should pursue. I seek to represent, not the opinions of a section of the people, but the interests of the great masses of the community. For what other reason do we give ourselves to the study of such works as come within our ken but that we may be able, as far as God has given us strength, to do our best in the legislative work of the community ?







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