Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 15 March 1904

Mr SPEAKER - I must ask the Minister to withdraw his remark.

Sir William Lyne - I withdraw it.

Mr FULLER - I accept the Minister's withdrawal, and I appeal to honorable members who are familiar with the Constitution and with the fact that in South Australia womanhood suffrage had been in existence a number of years prior to Federation to support me when I state that it was incumbent upon us to adopt womanhood suffrage for the whole of the Commonwealth. The Minister is too much disposed to say that statements made by other honorable members are not true.

Sir William Lyne - I call a spade a spade.

Mr FULLER - The Minister is quite entitled to do that so far as I am concerned, but he went further than that. In the first paragraph of the GovernorGeneral's Speech reference is made to the severe drought which has occasioned grievous losses to all classes of the community. Australia, and particularly New South Wales and Queenland, has, during the last nine .or ten years, passed through the most severe drought ever experienced. But I am not inclined to think that this drought has been disastrous to all classes of the community. It is true that the farmers of New South Wales and the pastoralists of Queensland have suffered severely; and that they have also had additional burdens placed upon them in consequence of the legislation which has been passed by the Federal Parliament at the instance of the Government. In the farming districts of New South Wales and in Queensland very heavy losses have been incurred by the owners of stock. Our herds have been diminished by tens of thousands, and our flocks by millions. It was hard enough for our settlers to bear the drought, but when the additional burdens imposed by Federal legislation had to be borne, our farmers and settlers were ruined by hundreds. When I appealed .to the Ministry, during the most distressful period of the drought, to at least suspend the fodder duties in order to afford our settlers an opportunity to obtain food for their starving stock, I was treated in the most inconsiderate spirit by the late Minister of Trade and Customs, who was sup; ported by his .colleagues in the Government. In other protectionist countries duties have frequently been suspended in times of national distaste. But iri pur case the Government refused to suspend the imposts placed upon fodder by the Executive before the Tariff was adopted ; although such duties might easily have been suspended for the time being by the same power that imposed them. The right honorable and learned member for Adelaide, who was then Minister for Trade and Customs, and Senator O'Connor, the representative of the Government in the other Chamber, stated that the disaster that had befallen New South Wales and Queensland was the opportunity of Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania. We know that, in very many instances, men who had large surplus stocks of produce in the latter States made immense sums of money out of the misfortunes of their fellow-citizens in New South Wales and Queensland. Therefore, the drought was not, as represented in the GovernorGeneral's Speech, disastrous to all. classes of the community. The produce merchants of Sussex-street, Sydney, and of

Melbourne also made vast sums of money out of .the extreme necessity of the stockowners of New South Wales and Queensland. In consequence of the duties imposed by the Tariff these men -were enabled to grow rich out of the farmers and others by charging exorbitant prices for the fodder they required. How can the Government put into the mouth of the Governor-General the statement that the drought "has occasioned grievous losses to all classes of the community," when, owing to the inhumane action of the Government, the farmers of Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, arid the produce merchants of our large cities, made fortunes, in the way I have represented. When the Tariff was introduced the Government proposed certain duties, with a view to catch the votes of the farmers, and they are making a somewhat similar attempt in the Governor-General's Speech. In paragraph 6 we are told -

With a view to giving assistance" wherever possible to those engaged in the cultivation- of the soil, and as a preliminary to the- establishment pf an Agricultural Bureau, you will be invited to consider the best means of assisting the farmer, by bounties and otherwise, to grow new crops and find new markets. Speedier and cheaper transportation to the large centres of population of meat, butter, and fruit, under improved conditions, is much to be desired.

The Government appear to me to be. acting in a manner well calculated to destroy that fiscal peace to which they have been so fond of referring. I look upon bounties as the natural corollary of the iniquitous . system of protection, which the Government have fastened upon the Commonwealth, and when it is proposed to assist farmers, or any other class of the community, by means of bounties, the fiscal question must be raised, and peace upon that subject abandoned.

Sir William Lyne - Does the honorable and learned member forget that that portion of the Tariff referring to the bounties, namely, section VIa., has never been brought to completion?

Mr FULLER - The Tariff, although not completed, has served to extract money from the pockets of the farmers and settlers who are amongst the -most deserving of our people. The Opposition fought for a period of eleven months against the Tariff proposed by the. Government, with the result that the amount of revenue expected to be derived from the duties was decreased by £1,500,000. We directed special attention to the reduction of the taxes proposed to be imposed upon the masses of the people. I' also opposed the bounties and bonuses to which the Minister for Trade and Customs has just referred and as one who had the advantage of skf ting as a member of the Bonuses for Manufactures Commission, I can assure the Minister that the particular part of the Tariff to which he has referred will not be completed if I can .help, it. I should like to know what "otherwise" means. We have had no explanation regarding this. My own feeling is that the best way in which the farmers can be assisted is by removing the duties which are pressing hardly upon them at present. Protectionists are very fond of referring to New Zealand, and ascribing the prosperity of that Colony to the system of protection adopted there. The people of New Zealand, however, although protectionists, have been .clever and shrewd enough to so adjust the burdens of taxation that they shall fall as lightly as possible upon 'those engaged in their great primary industries. Let us compare the -New Zea-^ land Tariff with that of the Commonwealth. I have here a list of the articles used iri the primary industries which are placed upon the free list in New Zealand. It includes the following: -

All machinery for agricultural purposes, and material used in manufacturing same. All agricultural implements, including axes, hatchets, spades, forks, scythes, sheep-shears, ploughchains, &c. ; gas and oil engines, portable engines, traction engines ; fencing wire, plain and barbed ; iron of alf sorts ; machinery for dairying pur-poses ; reapers and binders and reaping and mowing machines; binder twine; jute bagging, bags and sacks, woolpacks ; manures ; butter and cheese cloths.

And so on with all those articles which are most generally used by farmers and others engaged in primary industries. How have the' Commonwealth Government! treated our farmers? Had they been successful in their efforts, every one of the articles which are used in our primary industries would have been taxed right up to the hilt. It was only after the most severe and prolonged fighting that the Opposition, as'sisted in some instances by the Labour Party, were able to reduce the burden of taxation upon our miners and farmers. When' our protectionist ' friends point to New Zealand, I should like them to realize that the Government of that country have been wise enough to' recognise that the best way in which to assist its primary industries is by placing practically the whole of the implements used in connexion with them upon the free list. In my judgment, the best encouragement that can be given to the dairy farmers, for -whom I specially plead, is to relieve them of the burden of taxation from which they are suffering at the present time. Let me recall the way in which the Ministry attempted to tax the mining industry. It was only after a most severe struggle that we were able to secure a reduction of the duty upon mining machinery. Surely we must recognise that our primary industries are the backbone of Australia. Yet some honorable members talk about our manufacturing industries as if the wealth and prosperity of the Commonwealth depended upon them. The Prime Minister has declared that the leader of the Opposition evinced a spirit of provincialism in connexion with the recent Federal elections. I hold that the honorable gentleman himself has been the greatest offender in that respect. I need scarcely recall his visit to Williamstown, where he accused honorable members of the Opposition of having opposed every manufacturing industry - more particularly the industries of Victoria. The Opposition never did anything of the sort. It is true that in the interests of the great mass of the people we opposed many duties which were proposed in connexion with our manufacturing industries, but our action was not prompted by any regard for the fact that those industries were established in Victoria. We refused to believe that a wirenail manufactory upon the banks of the Yarra was. a great national industry, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Bourke would have us believe.

Mr Mauger - When did we tell the honorable member that it was a great national industry?

Mr FULLER -The statement was repeatedly made during the period that the Tariff was under discussion.

Mr Mauger - The honorable member cannot find it in any part of the debates.

Mr FULLER - I am convinced that if I were to refer to Hansard Ishould not experience the slightest trouble in finding it. We are also informed in paragraph 6 of the Governor-General's Speech that -

Speedier and cheaper transportation to the large centres of population of meat, butter, and fruit, under improved conditions, is much to be desired.

No doubt the speedier transportation of our perishable products is much to be desired. Cheapness is also very desirable, but cheapness depends upon something more than freights and steamers. It depends upon the facilities which we afford to our producers. It is useless to talk of giving them cheap transportation to the great centres of the world if. we hamper them by our legislation. What country is our greatest competitor in connexion with the butter industry? It is the little country of Denmark, which to-day supplies 42 per cent. of the whole of the butter which finds its way to the English market.

Mr Mauger - Its people are heavily handicapped in the same way as our own.

Mr FULLER - No. The tariff of Denmark practically exempts from duty every implement that is used in connexion with the dairying industry. It is significant that of recent years the progress of this industry in Denmark has been very marked, whereas that of Sweden has diminished since she adopted a protective policy.

Mr Mauger - Has the honorable and learned member read the Irish Commission's report upon Denmark?

Mr FULLER - No. It is not necessary to go to the report of the Irish Commision to ascertain what is the true position of affairs. Our own representatives have visited Denmark, Sweden, and other parts of the world for the purpose of learning what is going on. The honorable member for Richmond has assured us that England will always provide us' with an enormous and reliable market. But I would point out to him that the preferential trade proposed will not provide us with such a market. To-day the Australian States, including New Zealand, are. supplying only about 12 per cent. of the butter that is consumed in England. Our chief difficulty is that we cannot keep up our supplies. The year before last New South Wales exported to London and other European markets about 8,000,000 lbs. of butter, whilst Victoria exported 26,000,000 lbs. Last year, however, in consequence of the drought, New South ' Wales exported only 121,000 lbs., and Victoria only about 1,000,000 lbs.

Mr Mauger - That was not the result of the heavy duties, but of the drought?

Mr FULLER -That is so. The point I wish to make is that whilst the opportunity presented itself to them, our producers were handicapped by being called upon to pay heavy duties. Our chief difficulty has been to keep up a regular supply to London, as well as to other markets. In order to justify that statement, I would point out that in 1900 New South Wales exoprted 8,477,617 lbs. of butter to the United Kingdom, but that in consequence of the drought our exports to that market in 1902 were reduced to i2i,672lbs. A somewhat similar state of affairs existed in regard to the export of butter from Victoria, although this State did not suffer from the drought to anything like" the same extent. The statistics show that, while in the year 1900 Victoria exported 26,185,679 lbs. of butter, in 1902 she exported only 1,424,460 lbs. However strong may be the faith reposed in them by the Ministry, I do not suppose that any system of preferential trade, or of bounties to assist the agriculturists, will ever cause an abundant rainfall, and thus enable us to keep up a regular supply on the London market. When that regular supply is not forthcoming grocers and others who deal in Australian produce find it necessary to turn to the producers of other countries in order to meet the wants of their customers. The comparison shows that, in respect of Australian butter alone, the exports for 1902, as against those for 1900, were reduced by 35,000,000 lbs. That quantity, having regard to the total consumption of butter by the London market, is a comparatively small one, but it is a very large quantity as compared with the total supply sent away by us. When, by reason of severe drought, our output suffers so severely, we must naturally be confronted with enormous difficulties in placing our products on the markets of the world. We have overcome, to a considerable ex- tent, the difficulty in relation to quality, but we have still this further obstacle to face. I sincerely trust that we are now at the beginning of a round of good seasons, which will give our producers much better results than they have obtained during the last ten years. Coming to the position of the Government, I would remind honorable members that, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, the existing state of . parties in this House is practically impossible. The Government appealed to the country on their administration, and were practically defeated.

Mr Deakin - Both the Government and the Opposition suffered.

Mr FULLER - I repeat that the Government were practically defeated. The Opposition certainly failed to improve their position; but, according to the Prime Minister himself, the present situation is impossible. It was not for want of trying, or for lack of specious promises on their part, that the Government suffered defeat. During the last Federal elections we had the same old game as was played at the first Commonwealth elections, played in the same old way, by practically the same old hands. At the first elections we had Sir Edmund Barton and Mr. O'Connor preaching to the people of New South Wales a moderate Tariff - a national Tariff - a Tariff of revenue without destruction.

Mr Deakin - That is all that the people obtained.

Mr FULLER - I am referring to the positions of the combatants at those elections. In Victoria we had at the same time the present Prime Minister and the Treasurer calling on the people to stand shoulder to shoulder in the interests of protection.

Mr Mauger - And thev did so.

Mr FULLER - Yes. The right honorable member for Adelaide did exactly the same thing in South Australia. At the last elections, however, we had the Prime Minister at Ballarat, Sydney, and other large centres of population in the Commonwealth, joining with the Minister for Trade and Customs in the cry of " Fiscal peace and preferential trade." That was the. cry put forward, more particularly in New South . Wales, because the Government knew that if they used the word " protection ' ' there they would be defeated at the poll. On the other hand, the Treasurer declared at St. Kilda, on the 13th November last, that the fight must be on the .question of free-trade or protection.

Mr Deakin - That was true.

Mr FULLER - But in New Soutfi Wales the Prime Minister emphatically dropped the word "protection," and called for " fiscal peace." He asked that the degree of protection, at present in force, should be maintained ; but, at the same time, the Treasurer was calling upon the people of Victoria to fight for protection.

Mr Deakin - He was only defending the protection we had; he was not asking for more.

Mr FULLER - Quite so; but if a sufficient majority of protectionists had been returned to this House to enable the Tariff question to be raised, I doubt whether the desirableness of fiscal peace would have been considered. We know that the protectionists did their best in this House to make the Tariff as high as possible. They did so because of various interests, and I doubt very much whether, if a majority of protectionists had been returned, we should not have found them fighting once more in the' same interests, as opposed to the interests of the great industries of Australia. The Minister of Trade and

Customs dropped the cry of protection in New South Wales, and called for fiscal peace and preferential trade. He knew that it was useless for him to raise the cry of protection - that practically the whole of New South Wales was true to the principle of free-trade - a fact that was demonstrated at the ballot-box.

Sir William Lyne - What nonsense.

Mr FULLER - The Prime. Minister in the course of the campaign visited Sydney, and I had the pleasure of hearing the magnificent speech which he delivered in the Town Hall. I always delight in listening to the addresses of the honorable and learned gentleman, and never miss an opportunity to hear him. I was very much struck by the magnificent way in which he introduced himself to the ladies of New South Wales. The platform ofthe Town Hall was beautifully decorated by some of the ladies of Sydney, and in introducing himself to that vast audience the Prime Minister, pointing to the lovely flowers upon the table, said -

Here we see the flowers of their taste and judgment; we shall see the fruit at the ballotbox.

But the fruit which the Government gathered at the ballot-box was very bitter. The Prime Minister, in his charming way, appealed to thewomen of New South Wales to support his policy, and the sole result of the appeal made by him in Sydney, Armidale, and various other centres of population in that State was the return of the honorable member for Richmond, who is the solitary representative of that State sitting in a private capacity behind the Government. The Government lost Mr.Francis Clarke,who formerly represented Cowper in this House, as well as others who were among their strongest supporters, and whose absence, from a personal point of view we all regret.

Mr Deakin - The honorable and learned member would have been sitting on this side of the House had he given his judgment free play.

Mr FULLER - The meeting held by the Prime Minister in the Town Hall was from point of view a notable one. The hall was crammed to its utmost capacity, and protectionists - the Prime Minister among them - left the meeting with the idea that they had converted the people of Sydney; that they had made a magnificent impression upon them.

Mr Deakin - The honorable and learned member does not find that I ever said so.

Mr FULLER - No, but I shall quote two telegrams which I think will show that the Prime Minister thought so, even if he did not say so. The first of these telegrams was sent by "Samuel Mauger," of 66 Bourkestreet, Melbourne, to " Mr. Alfred Deakin," and was as follows : -

Friends here delighted on report of Sydney meeting. Were you satisfied ?

In return a telegram was received by " Mr. Samuel Mauger," from " Mr. Alfred Deakin," in the following terms: -

Magnificent meeting; all friends declare greatest triumph protection ever gained here.

From these telegrams it will be seen that, although the Prime Minister may not have said that he thought the protectionists had captured the people of Sydney, he certainly thought that he had made a magnificent impression on the people of that State. How far that impression was justified need not be stated by me. The result of his appeal is so well known that it is unnecessary for me to make further reference to it. The view to which I have referred was held not only by the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, forwe find that the leading organ of the protectionist party in Australia- the Age - referred to the meeting in the folloAving terms : -

The Sydney meeting, with its tumultuous acclamations of the protectionist policy, is an evidence of the advance of a great truth against a mere sophistical falsehood......... It will therefore be no surprising thing should the mother State cast a decisive vote in favor of the Deakin policy, as Victoria is quite certain to do.

Notwithstanding the action of the protectionist party in sending their great orator to Sydney to convert the free-traders -who, from their point of view are deep doAvn in the depths of ignorance - : notAvithstanding the efforts of the Protectionist Association, through the medium of the ' Minister for Tradeand Customs and others, the result was disastrous to the present Administration. It proves one thing, if it proves nothing else - that the stand taken in this House by the Opposition in fighting the Tariff and the present Administration, is approved by the people of that State. The Prime Minister and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports may shake their heads, but I contend that if I and other members of the Opposition

Avere not sent back as a protest against the present Administration, their Tariff, and their electorallaws,we haA'e no right in this Chamber.

Mr Mauger - The Tariff was not the issue.

Mr FULLER - What then was the issue ?

Mr Mauger - The honorable and learned member knows very well what it was.

Mr FULLER - I know that the Prime Minister came to Sydney and spoke of loyalty to the mother country. He had the audacity to say to his meetings in New South Wales that those who did not agree with his- Tariff proposals were disloyal to the mother country. I would remind the honorable and learned member and his friends that from the day he entered the political arena, he has been engaged in putting up barriers against British manufactures. The old Victorian Tariff, higher than the present Commonwealth Tariff, was framed, not to keep out foreign manufactures, but to keep out the manufactures of the old country, which has done everything for us. When the Prime Minister was translated to the higher sphere of Federal politics, he did exactly the same thing. The Tariff, as laid upon the table by the ex-Minister for- Trade and Customs, and as sought .to be passed by the Ministry, was framed for no other purpose than to keep out the manufactures of the old country. In years gone by-in these States British manufactures were largely imported, and the Tariff was framed and supported by the Prime Minister, in the same way as he supported ' the Victorian Tariff, especially in opposition to the manufacturers of the old country. He talks about the disloyalty of freetraders, and says that if they do not join with him in his preferential trade proposals - which have yet to be adopted by the people of England - they are disloyal to the Empire. Great Britain has never wanted more than the open door, to which she has been accustomed. The Tariff of New South -Wales gave her that open door, and the leader of the Opposition did more for the mother country by his patriotic action in that State than has been ' done by the lip-loyalty of the ' Prime Minister and his supporters. Time after time the leader of the Opposition and his supporters denounced the Tariff as introduced by the Government as unpatriotic, and as disloyal to the mother country. We knew that it was specially designed to keep out the manufactures of the mother country. I would ask- the Prime Minister whether he is prepared, in the interests of British manufacturers, to reduce the duty on a single article. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, as representing the Protectionist Association of Victoria, told the people during the elections that preferential trade would not reduce their protection by one iota.

Mr Mauger - I beg. pardon; I told' them quite the opposite.

Mr FULLER - That is the true position of honorable members on the other side in connexion with preferential trade.The cry of fiscal peace and preferential' trade is' raised by them in order that theymay retain the protection they have, and give local and British manufacturers the opportunity of robbing the people here by raising a wall against the foreigner. The free-traders of Australia have always been loyal to the old country. In New South Wales the free-traders have always been prepared to allow her manufactures to come in on free and equal terms, and we are' prepared to do so now. The honorable member for Richmond made a speech which was more amusing than argumentative. We did not take it too seriously, but it looks a little serious in cold print. He asked - Did we believe in free-trade be-, tween 30ns of the Empire? I immediately interjected- "Of course we do." That is what we have been trying to bring about all our lives; but the honorable member and his friends have been trying to erect barriers within the Empire during their political existence. /The honorable member who is the chief supporter of the Government in my State said that he would answer my interjection later on,, but he did not : he knew perfectly well that it was true. All that has been done by the Ministry and their supporters has: been to erect barriers against the British Empire from one end to the other. The British Empire has not been built up by a system of preference. It has been built up in faceof hostile tariffs - in face of the hostile Tariff put up in Victoria by the leader of this Government, and the hostile Tariff put up here by the Commonwealth GovernmentIf we were to allow British manufacturesto come in on the freest and most equalterms, as we did under the Tariff of New South Wales, then, as Great Britain has always been accustomed to a revenue Tariff of her own, she would never grumble at any Tariff which we might have for purely revenue purposes. But she does object, and: rightly objects, to a Tariff which was imposed specially to injure her manufacturing interests. I was much interested in the speech of the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide. Believing that the grant of the Federal Capital to New South Wales in the Constitution was one of the principal reasons why the Federal movement was successful in that State, I heard with delight the statement of the right honorable and learned member on this question.

Mr Wilks - What did he say twelve months ago?

Mr FULLER - I do not know. All that I care about is that he is a strong supporter of New South Wales, and will firmly insist on that State being given her constitutional rights. The manner in which the Government has played with this important question has been one of the worst features in its administration. Time after time the question of selecting a site was brought forward by members of the Opposition, and time after time the work was delayed by the Minister. A Commission was ' appointed, which further delayed the work, and it was not until the last three weeks of the last session of the first Parliament that the matter was brought to a sort of semi-conclusion. I believe that honorable members are prepared to give New South Wales her just rights. I am not provincial enough to think that this matter ought to be settled in the interests of New South Wales ; it ought to be settled in the interests of the Commonwealth. All the members of the first Parliament will remember the influence which the press of Melbourne exercised on the moulding of its legislation, and the sooner we get into our own Federal home, free from the influence of great cities, the better, in my opinion, will it be for our legislation. I was rather surprised to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs interject that the settlement of this question had been delayed by us. I feel sure that any one who looks at the records of the first Parliament will find that it was pushed forward by members of the Opposition as much as was possible. I was not surprised to hear some of the remarks of the right honorable member for Adelaide in his advocacy of protection and of the Tariff, of which he was practically the author. It is only natural that he should stick' to his own child. But he was rather unfortunate in the quotation which he made from one of our leading politicians in New South Wales. I make no personal reference to this gentleman. I have the honour and pleasure of a slight acquaintance with him, and I must say that he is rather a discredited politician in New South Wales. The right honorable and learned member quoted his figures showing the "enormous" increase of our manufactures to .£25,000,000 per annum, but we know that the manufacturing interests of Australia had reached an output of £28,000,000 per annum, before the introduction of the Federal Tariff. We' have been told that importers, manufacturers and the public generally are becoming accustomed to the Tariff. The importers pay down, I suppose, about £9,500,000, and pass the duties along to the consumers, and it is a very nice little operation, as far as they are concerned. We are told that now the public, instead of seeing on articles the words "raised in. consequence of the Tariff," find that the articles are on the free list. I should like to ask the Minister - who put the articles on the free list? It was only after a . struggle of eleven months, that the Opposition - in many instances with' the help of the Labour Party - succeeded in putting 115 groups of articles on the free list, and reducing the taxation in connexion with 139 other articles. The manufacturers are becoming accustomed to the Tariff. But the statement made as to the enormous expenditure in consequence of the Tariff will not bear investigation. The gentleman to whom the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide referred - Mr. B. R. Wise - put forward a list of new works some time ago, and when it was investigated it was found that the rebuilding of Her Majesty's Theatre, which had been destroyed by fire, was included in the expenditure under the Tariff. We found that a number of buildings and factories, and various other' works which had been started long before the Tariff came into existence, were also included in the list. So that all this boasted expenditure by the protectionist party in and around Sydney has been exaggerated very much. If it has given so much employment to labour - and it was only the other day that a deputation, representing, as they said, 8,000 men out of work, waited on the Acting Premier in Sydney, with the view of getting work - how is it that in the constituency of Dalley, many of the great iron industries are now only working half-time ? These facts do not tend to show that the Tariff has given employment to labour, and that money is being spent under its operation, as the protectionists would have us believe? There is one thing, however, which has resulted from the Tariff, and that is, that male employes in the factories are gradually giving place to women and children. According to the Government Labour Bureau, which is an authoritative source, last year in the metropolis of New South Wales 443 permits were given to children between the ages of 13 and 14 years - that is, under the school age, to work in factories ; while in Newcastle 47 permits were given.

Mr Mauger - Why is it allowed ?

Mr FULLER - I would not allow any system of legislation, be it a Tariff or otherwise, which would make women and children earn the daily bread for the families in place of the men. Surely we have not come to such a stage in this mighty continent, with a population of only 4,000,000 persons, that it is necessary to drive our women and children into factories in order to earn the daily bread for the family. That has happened under the Commonwealth Tariff, and it is only a repetition of what happened under the Victorian Tariff. The Prime Minister, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and others were on a Sweating Board in Victoria, and they gave their testimony that under the Victorian Tariff in Melbourne there was going on sweating which was equal to the sweating in older parts of the world.

Mr Mauger - And we wiped it out.

Mr FULLER - Does not the honorable member remember that that did not come into existence here until sufficient time had elapsed for the Victorian Tariff to get into full operation? Do we not know that when the right honorable member for Adelaide was advocating a particular item on the Tariff in 1901, of which he was in charge, he said - " The honorable member for Parramatta can look it up as much as he likes, but he will find that what I have said is perfectly correct - that the importations from these countries are as I have stated, and that in France Belgium, and Germany protection and cheap labour reign supreme? During his speech the honorable member for Richmond said that in New South Wales the protectionists had been the bulwark of Federation, while the free-traders had been its strong opponents. Whatever may be. said in connexion with the Constitution, however disappointed many persons may be with the outcome of the Commonwealth, as administered by the present Government, the free-trade party of New South Wales is not entitled to be told, that it was the opponent of Federation, and that the protectionist party was the bulwark of Federation in that State. I was surprised to hear the honorable member make that statement, because he must well remember that the great free-trade leader of New South Wales - Sir Henry Parkes - in 1889, with the report of Major-General Edwards in his hand, in connexion with the defences of the Australian Colonies, made at Tenterfield, the speech which galvanized the Federal movement into life. It brought about the Convention which sat in 1891 in Sydney, andwhich was attended by most of the leading men from the States. After that year public interest in the matter waned, and it was not until the leader of the Opposition in this House, who is very often blamed, advocated an elective Convention, that real life was put into; the Federal movement. In New South Wales Sir William McMillan, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, the honorable member for North Sydney, and many others on the Opposition side of the House whom I could mention, worked hard and honestly to bring about the Federation of the Australian States. I should like the honorable member for Richmond to remember also that a large proportion of the funds which had to be found in order to fight the question in New South Wales was raised by the members of the free-trade party, and those who were associated with their political actions. However much the people may be disappointed with the outcome of Federation, the free-traders are not entitled to the stigma placed upon them by the honorable member for Richmond. Does he forget that he was on the platform of the Town Hall, Sydney, on the occasion of a presentation of plate to the leader of the Opposition, and that he made the speech of the evening? Does he forget that he told the people there that it was George Reid, and not Edmund Barton, who was entitled to the credit of bringing about Federation in Australia? I am surprised that the honorable member's memory is so short as to forget that he was the principal figure in connexion with the proceedings that night. I do not wish to detain the House any longer. I sincerely trust that, although the position of Federal politics may be dark at the present time, although I do not think there is a single man in this House, or in the country, who can see daylight through the situation, the outcome will be satisfactory. The responsibility of conducting the affairs of the country lies with the Government. They are responsible for the position in which they find themselves. The members of the Opposition and the members of the third party are not responsible for it. It is to Ministers that the people of Australia look to place responsible government on a higher grade in future than it has occupied in the past.

Sir WILLIAMLYNE (Hume- Minister for Trade and Customs). - For many nights past we have been listening to very long speeches on every subject that it was possible to introduce within the scope allowed to honorable members in the debate on the Address in Reply. I think, with many of those who have spoken from this side of the House and from the Opposition benches, and with the honorable member for Capricornia, who spoke to-night, that little new has been said. I should not have arisen had it not been that two or three honorable members have directed attacks towards me. I hold that unless attacks of that kind are made on a Minister personally, there is no necessity for more than one or two members of the Government to reply in the course of such a debate. The House was treated to a very entertaining, though I cannot call it an instructive, speech from the honorable and learned member for Parkes last week. He is a very superior person, I should imagine, according lo his remarks. He lectured us all round. He lectured the Labour Party, and he especially lectured the Government for continuing to hold their position. He said that it was not possible for them to continue to hold it unless they were supported by the Labour Party. My remarks upon this point may also apply, to some extent, to the leader of the Opposition. The right honorable member made a very dramatic speech - perhaps the most ludicrously dramatic I have heard him deliver. He said that he would not on any account be subservient to any particular party, nor would he be driven by any party, ' and that 1 he had never permitted anything of the kind lo be done when he was at the head of a Government. Though the right honorable member, as is usually the case, is not present, I desire to direct attention to what took place between the years 1895 and 1899, when he was in power in New South Wales. During the whole of that period there were three parties in the Legislative Assembly of that State. He was kept in office absolutely by the votes of the Labour

Party. Finally, he was deposed on the votes of the Labour Party. Yet the right honorable member managed to hold the position, and to pass some legislation - though not much - with the assistance of thatLabour Party.

Mr Page - Did he not pass the land tax?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes; it is not much of a land tax, though. I should like those honorable members who take such strong exception to a Government receiving the support of the Labour Party to ask themselves what particular State in Australia, during the last few years, has not had three parties in its Parliament, and what Government has not practically been supported, if not kept in power, by that third party ? As far as I can judge, there is nothing new and nothing anomalous in the present position. There are three parties ; and though there are those who say that two parties must join to wipe out the third, I venture to say that they will never succeed.

Mr Page - We have come to stay.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I quite understand and believe that the third party has come to stay. "Whether its strength is going to be increased or not is a question I am not prepared to answer; but if Parliament is not to be conducted and legislation is not to be enacted with three parties in the House, we had better stop attempting legislation altogether. It has been said that the Government cannot continue to carry out their programme unless thev receive the Support of the third party. ' The Government is not going on its knees to any party to get its support. As the Prime Minister has said, it is going straight forward with its policy. If it receives sufficient support from either of the parties in the House it will carry out that policy. I see no reason why we- should not proceed in the way the Prime Minister has suggested. When the time comes that the Government find that they cannot proceed with the fair, honest, and straightforward support of the third party, they will know what to do. This particular question is of great moment at present, and is uppermost in the minds of a large section of the public of Australia. But I venture to think that we shall be able to go on ; and, if a crisis comes, I venture to believe that the attitude of the Government will be favoured by the country. Before I deal with the criticisms of other members, I wish to refer again to the honorable and learned member for Parkes. As I have said, he has thought fit to lecture every one. But what has been his own political history? He was the greatest failure we had in New South Wales politics. He was once Minister for Works, and he was the most extravagant Minister who ever presided over the Works Department of New South Wales.

Mr Wilks - Did he beat the honorable gentleman ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I was never an extravagant Minister, although I have been attacked by members of Parliament for what they deemed to be extravagance. But sometimes false economy is extravagance. I will give an instance from this State of Victoria. . Rigid economy is said to have been enforced here during the last four or five years before Federation. But there is no State in which through supposed economy more money has had to be expended on public buildings to prevent ruin during the term of Federation than Victoria. So that economy socalled is not always true economy. It is sometimes extravagance. Those honorable members who talk about my extravagance and the eeonomy of Victoria, should remember that what I have explained is absolutely a fact. When the honorable and learned member for Parkes presided over the Works Department of New South Wales, he increased the vote for public works from £600,000 to between £1,100,000 and £1,110,000 in two consecutive years. And this is the honorable and learned member who lectures Federal Ministers as to what they should do, what position they should take up in regard to their measures, and what should be their ideas of responsibility !

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Was the honorable and learned member for Parkes right or wrong in raising the public works expenditure ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am not going to say in every case, but I think that in many cases he was wrong.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister did the same, and said that he was right.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - When the honorable and learned member lectures others on matters of this kind, I desire to point out that the mote is in his own eye. The Federal Capital question has been referred to. I was surprised to hear the right honorable member for Adelaide speak in the tone which he adopted in regard to that question. It is not so very long - unless I am very much mistaken - since the right honorable member, in addressing a meeting at the Town Hall, Melbourne, attacked New South Wales in regard to her anxiety to secure the Federal Capital, and said that that State was in the unenviable position of having had to be bribed by having the Federal Capital placed within her borders.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The right honorable member for Adelaide was in the Government then.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Whether I am in a Government or not, I shall try to be consistent. I interjected the other night that, to a very large extent, the Opposition were accountable for the delay, if delay there has been, in connexion with the Federal Capital question. The first session of this Parliament was occupied almost entirely by the speeches of honorable members opposite. Scarcely any other honorable member could get a fair opportunity of speaking or even interjecting. The speeches of the Opposition occupied about eight months. One day I attempted, as Sir Henry Parkes did on one occasion, to count up the number of miles of talk that emanated from the Opposition benches during the first session. But the task was so great that I could not get to the end of it. For that reason, and as we were required by law to enact the Tariff during the first session, and also had to pass machinery Bills, it was not possible to deal with the Federal Capital question. In the second session of the Parliament we had, to a very large extent, a repetition of the tactics of the first session from the Opposition benches. On that occasion we had them beating the air, and up to the present time in this debate we have had a repetition of the Tariff speeches we are so sick of from honorable members opposite. When the time of the House is so taken up, how is it possible for any Ministry to reach the important items of the legislation they propose ?

Mr Conroy - Which are the important items ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable and learned member is one of the greatest offenders, and should have nothing to say on this matter. What are the facts ? As early as possible every step was taken to advance the decision upon the Federal Capital site. Will it be said that we should have submitted the question to Parliament before it had reached a fair stage for the consideration of honorable members? We were' bound to obtain all the information it was possible for us to obtain in submitting to this . House for determination one of the most important questions with which the Federal Parliament has to deal. Were we to act blindly without getting the information which was supplied by the Royal Commission which was appointed? That Commission produced, I venture to say, one of the ablest reports ever submitted upon a question of the kind. If honorable members will turn their attention for a moment to what took place in the United States in the early days of their union, and also to what took -place in Canada in the early days of the Dominion, they will find that no report of such importance was submitted in either of those countries in connexion with the selection of .their). Federal Capital sites. No one has fought harder or more con^tinuously to have this matter brought to" a head than I have, during the time I have been a member of this Parliament. If I had not been a member I venture to think that honorable members sitting opposite" would not have brought the question to the stage in which we find it now. Everything cannot be done in an hour or in a day. It takes time to obtain all the information necessary to satisfy the hypercritical minds of honorable members opposite. Even after the report of the Commission was presented to this House, in addition to that received from Mr. Oliver, honorable members opposite accused the Government of not having obtained sufficient information to enable them to settle the question. When we found honorable members in so critical a humour was it not to be expected that the Government would take time to obtain the most minute information upon so important a question? It was only when the report of the Commission was obtained, and not until then, that the Government were in a position to submit the question to the House. Was there any time lost then ? We are aware, that a number of the members of this House are really in n> hurry to deal with this question.

Mr Page - Who are they ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am not going to mention names ; but the honorable member must know as well as I do that what 1 say is a fact. I do not intend in any way to suggest that those honorable members desire to deprive New South Wales of her right in connexion with this matter. But they have not that ardent desire to get away from Melbourne that is possessed by many other honorable members who wish to s-.s-. the Federal Parliament established in its own Federal home. If honorable members will consider the time taken to settle a similar question in the United States, and will call to mind the action taken, and the jealousies aroused, between the prinicpal cities of the States before Washington was decided upon as the site of their Federal Capital, they will understand why it was found necessary there to select a place in the wilds of the' forest as a Capital site, lt was entirely in consequence of a trouble, that is repeating itself in Australia to-day in connexion with this matter as the result of jealousies between important cities in these States..

Mr Kelly - Between some of the electorates.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member is a young man, and is not yet sufficiently grown up to know really what these jealousies are. This is an important consideration which cannot at the present time be ignored. I would ask honorable members what happened in Canada ? After fighting for eight years, with the result that the ' jealousies existing there had not decreased, but rather increased and become accentuated, the Dominion Parliament failed to settle the question, at all, and they had to get the late Queen Victoria, through the Imperial Government, to fix a site for the Capital of the Dominion.

Mr Lonsdale - That was provided for in the Canadian Constitution.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - They could have settled the question if those in antagonism upon it could have come to terms.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is that not an example to be avoided ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The right honorable member for Adelaide made an attackon me in connexion with this matter, because I happened to have' charge of it. At first the right honorable member said that the question had not been furthered, and then he admitted that it has been brought up to this position now that there are two sites only to be considered. That is a very long step to have taken in the settlement of this question. If nothing completely satisfactory has been determined upon, we have yet advanced very materially from the position in which we were at the outset of our Federal career.

Mr Kelly - Are Ministers in agreement now as to the choice of a site?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member raises another point, that Federal Ministers must be in agreement upon the question of the Federal Capital site. But no Cabinet that ever attempted to settle such a question was ever in agreement, and it is not likely that any Cabinet, as a whole, will be in agreement upon such a question. Even supposing that the Cabinet should be so, it is not likely they would try to dictate to the House what the decision of honorable members should be tupon so important a question.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - This House has voted upon the question, and has come to a conclusion.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The last House has voted and has come to a conclusion oh the question, but the Federal Parliament has not. The Government are bound to consider the possibilities in regard to the settlement of .a question of this kind. There is no use in hiding the fact that if a Minister has a strong feeling in favour of any particular site he is entitled to vote for it if he thinks that any other site submitted is not as good. It would, no doubt, be very pleasing to some honorable members if they could possibly induce the Government to quarrel and to destroy themselves over this question. But Governments are not quite so simple as my young friend, the honorable member for Wentworth, may imagine. He may think that the Government will do this sort of thing without consideration, but they will do nothing of the kind. We have been twitted with the fact that we have not settled this question already during the present session. Here we are still holding our first debate, which should not have occupied more than a week, but which is strung out, by the old tactics of the Opposition, until the third week, and it may yet be until the fourth week, and can any honorable member have the temerity to suggest that when we have had no opportunity to deal with any other question, we should have brought this matter up before the present time. I have not been in consultation with my right honorable colleague, who is in charge of the matter ; but he will have my support in bringing it forward for decision at as early a date as possible. We cannot do impossibilities. We must wait until the business of the House is so far advanced that it will have become possible to deal with it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It must wait upon other business.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The House of Representatives last session carried a resolution approving of the selection of Tumut as the site of the Federal Capital. That was objected to, and the selection of another place approved in the Senate. When the Bill dealing with the subject came back to this Chamber, the House of Representatives restored Tumut as the site to be selected, and returned the Bill to another place. In consequence of the early termination of the session we were not then in a position to go to the extremes that could be gone to with the Senate if honorable senators were prepared to continue the fight upon the question now.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We can only secure a settlement of the question under the Constitution if the selection of a particular site is embodied in a Ministerial measure.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The question may yet reach the stage when it will be possible to make the selection of a particular site take the form of a Ministerial measure. But I differ from my honorable friend if he suggests that the Government in a new Parliament should make this a Ministerial measure in consequence of a vote given in the old Parliament. In the last Parliament, when the House of Representatives decided on the selection of Tumut, and the- Senate of the selection of" Bombala, the Ministry stood by the decision of the House of Representatives, and that is all they could have been expected to do. If, when the matter is brought forward again, this House decides, on the selection of a particular site, I have not the slightest doubt that the Ministry will take up the same position as they did on a previous occasion. I again repeat that it is not fair that honorable members opposite should attack the Government on this question, which they believe is so much thought of in New South Wales, for the purpose of detracting from the position of the "Government, and in order to assist themselves in their political life. We have been told that the Opposition party is, according to numbers, the largest party in the House of Representatives. I should like to know how honorable members opposite prove that. As a matter of fact, whilst there are three parties in this House, the Government part)' is the largest. Honorable members opposite will have great difficulty in proving to members on this side that that is riot so. I should like to direct attention to the position which ' New South Wales took in the last elections as the result of the extraordinary and ludicrous action of her press and of her politicians? Honorable members ' opposite have said that the elections there were fought on free-trade and protection, but that was the last issue in the minds of the majority of the electors in that State. To prove what I say I have only to refer to the case of Mr. Francis Clarke, who, as a member of this House, was very much respected, and of whom we were all proud. He went to the strongest protectionist constituency in New South Wales and was defeated by a free-trader. But he was defeated not on the issue of free-trade and protection, but on the other issue so ably referred to by the leader of the Labour Party. That was the issue fought in his election, and not the issue of free-trade and protection. But what position has New South Wales placed herself in as the result of the elections? She is at the present time in antagonism practically to the whole of the rest of Australia. In placing herself in this position she has been unwise in her own interests. I for a long time occupied a prominent position in the public life of that State. The people .believed in me, and were very good to me; but I say that through the action of some of her public men - supported by the misdirection of -the Sydney press - instead of being, as she is, the most powerful and the wealthiest State of the Australian group, and instead X>i being the leader of politics in federated Australia, she has placed herself on the lowest rung of the ladder in dealing with all public questions in. this Federal Parliament. The whole or nearly the- whole of the Opposition come from New South Wales, and they have got themselves into such an awful fix that they want the Government to help them by forming a coalition. The people of New South Wales will live to know that they have been misled by their public men and their leading press; it is certain that the lesson taught during the last election will not be lost. No person more strongly than myself opposed, not Federation, but the Constitution Bill submitted to the people, because I conscientiously believed it provided machinery that would work extravagantly and not in the best interests of Australia. I was not afraid to stake my political reputation and life on the action I then took. However, we are here now, not as State, but as Federal politicians. All these whisperings about retreating or retiring from Federation are so many idle words, and it is .time that New South Wales realized her true position - that she should meet the other States in a Federal spirit, and not as one State try to dictate a policy for the whole. of Australia. All efforts at such dictation will fail as sure as New South Wales is the most powerful State, and as sure as she returns members to this Parliament absolutely antagonistic to nine-tenths, or at any rate three-fourths, of the representatives of Australia as she did at the last general elections. What I am saying may not be very palatable to honorable members opposite ; no doubt I am telling them some straight home truths which they do not like. It will not be with my consent that anything will be done to get honorable members opposite out of the cut de sac into which they have landed themselves.

Mr Wilks - Why did the honorable member not talk like this last week?

Mr SPEAKER - I must ask honorable members on the Opposition side of the House to refrain from such frequent interjections. It is with the utmost difficulty that the Minister can proceed with his speech.

Mr Wilks - Why did not the Minister make these remarks last week?

Mr SPEAKER - I must ask the honorable member for Dalley to refrain from breaking the Standing Orders. The honorable member knows what the Standing Orders require, and I ask him not to interject at a time when the Speaker is addressing the House.

Mr Wilks - I apologize to you, Mr. Speaker ; but the Minister for Trade and Customs is very provoking

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am sorry; but home truths are usually provoking. While I speak earnestly I want to speak in good spirit. In most of the speeches on the Address in Reply honorable members have attempted, not to deal with large, broad questions, but to indulge in personalities regarding people not here to defend themselves. The leader of the Opposition made what appears to my mind to be an unwarrantable attack on Mr. Lewis, an attack in which he has been supported by the honorable member for Macquarie.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I can bring evidence to prove my statements.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - And so can I bring evidence to prove the truth of what I say. The honorable member for Macquarie has backed up the leader of the Opposition in an attack on a public servant, who is one of the best men for his position in Australia. If this matter be more prominently brought before the House for discussion it will be proved that a great many of the little troubles complained of during the elections have been caused by attempts to undermine the position of this public servant - that there are those who, influenced by certain persons not far from this Chamber, have endeavoured to undermine what the Electoral Officer was doing. What is the position of that officer, and what has he done? He had to perform a gigantic task, the greatest task ' that ever fell to the lot of an electoral officer in the Southern Hemisphere. He had to bring into line the electoral rolls, and apply the electoral machinery over an area extending from the south of Tasmania to the north of Queensland, and from the east of New South Wales to the coast of Western Australia. I was the political chief of this officer for a considerable time-; but the man, personally, is to me of no concern. My belief is that he is a man who endeavours to do his- duty well, and even if there have been shortcomings, he should be protected from unwarrantable attacks. Though' this gentleman is not without his faults, he has, as I say, worked well, and the wonder is that, under the circumstances, there were not more mistakes. I wish to draw special attention to the fact that the apathy of the public of Australia is such that it is impossible to induce them to see that their names are placed on the rolls. When I was at the head of the Department I had notices posted at every post-office and other public places throughout Australia; and, further, intimations were given through all important sections of the press begging the electors to perform their duty. When it was found that electors would not respond to these appeals, the police and others engaged in the electoral work went from house to house ; but even then in some cases those who were entitled to the franchise refused to give their names. Under such circumstances it was very difficult to prepare complete electoral rolls, and it is not surprising that numbers were disfranchised.

Sir John Forrest - At any rate, nearly 2,000,000 names were placed on the rolls.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That was only after a great deal of trouble. I am glad to know that the right honorable memberwho holds the position I formerly occupied, 1 entertains the same opinion as myself of the head of the electoral branch. The fact that two of us, after experience, hold' that opinion, and strongly favour him, should count for much. In any case, It would refuse to allow this man, who has done his duty, to be maligned. Those-' who make the misstatements concerninghim, must know that they are uttering what are not facts. It was said by the leader of the Opposition that' Mr. Lewis was discharged - I do not think the word " dismissed "" was used - from his> position in the New South Wales Public Service.

Mr Lonsdale - The word was "retired."

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I will take it that the leader of the Opposition said that Mr. Lewis was retired from the New South Wales Public Service about 1882 or 1883 for incompetence. At that time the business of the Public Reserves Branch of the Lands ' Department was all transacted at the central office in Sydney, under the direction of Mr. Lewis. .1 may say that I was one of the public men who agitated to have the business distributed-' in the various districts under district surveyors, with a view to enabling those whodesired to take up land to obtain information at places as near to their homes as possible. As a result of the agitation the central branch was disbanded - that was the retirement spoken of by the leader of the Opposition. Not one word was at that time said against Mr. Lewis' competency, or the" method in which he carried out his duty; and the day he left office he was given an improved, ' but temporary, position at .£600 per annum by SirHenry Parkes, who had had opportunities of observing Mr. Lewis, and who certainly would not appoint an incompetent man to any post. Mr. Lewis occupied that position until Sir George Dibbs came into office, when a permanent post was found for him in the Electoral Department of the State. Despite anything that may be said, Mr. Lewis' work was well carried out. It is true that he may perhaps have had a few clerks more than the work required ; but, however that may be, I think most honorable members will say that during the Federal elections Mr. Lewiswas, if. anything, too economical. It might have been better if he had spent £5,000 or £10,000 more in employing assistance.

Mr Batchelor - There would then have been more contradictory instructions than ever.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not think so; and I am sure that if the honorable member for Boothby knew Mr. Lewis a little better he would not say a word against him. Mr. Lewis continued to hold the position given to him by Sir George Dibbs until 1895 or 1896, when the leader of the Opposition came into power as Premier of New South Wales. Mr. Lewis had evidently done something, to offend the right honorable gentleman, who gave an instruction, which he ought never to have given, to the new Public Service Commissioners, namely, an instruction to reduce the salaries of the Public .Service-by £300,000 per annum. In consequence the Public Service Commissioners, before they had matured their work of classification and reduction, or before they knew the conditions of the Public Service, carried out an indiscriminate hewing and carving of the salaries, and the mischief done had to be partially rectified afterwards; but the result was a demoralization of the service.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is a monstrous thing for the Minister to say.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The after action of the Public Service Commissioners was an acknowledgement that their work had been too hurriedly done. Simultaneously with this improper and extreme reduction of salaries, Mr. Lewis, at the instigation of some influence, was swept out of the Electoral branch. That is his history ; and when I was charged with the conduct of 'the first Federal election, I looked around for an electoral officer- who had had experience in electoral matters in New South Wales, and who, under Mr. Critchett Walker, the Principal Under-Secretary, would be able to successfully undertake the work. Previous to that I had appointed three Commissioners, one of wliom was, I think, Mr. Lewis, and another Judge Murray, to map out the electorates; and I knew none better able than Mr. .Lewis, who has been so much maligned, to perform the duties of Electoral Officer.

Mr Wilks - The High Court, which is not a political institution, has condemned Mr. Lewis.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Under Mr. Critchett Walker, Mr. Lewis carried out his work with honour and credit to himself and all concerned. When the Electoral Bill had to be prepared and carried through the Federal Parliament, no man could have worked harder or more conscientiously than Mr. Lewis in endeavouring to frame a measure on those liberal lines which a large majority of honorable members so strongly approved. Mr. Lewis is entitled to a pension of, I think, £380 a year, and his present temporary employment only involves a payment to him by the Commonwealth of £300 per annum, the balance being paid by the Government of New South Wales in the form of the pension I have mentioned. It will be seen that we have the services of a most capable man at a very economical salary. As to the remarks of the Chief Justice of the High Court, he was dealing with a question of technical law; and there are eminent lawyers who are of opinion that the High Court made a mistake in not quite recognising what the intention was regarding their discretionary power. As honorable members know, there are two forms provided for in the schedule to the Electoral Act, one of which is the form " L " for postal voting. When the Bill was before the House I was urged to adopt the South Australian system, and allow the application under this form to be witnessed by any householder, while the right honorable member for Adelaide suggested that the form might be used without the necessity for calling in any witness. This particular form was looked upon as unimportant. There is no reference in. the body of the Act as to who should witness the signature, and this form was prescribed merely to give a direction, or an idea, on the point, the foot note only being the direction. Then comes the other question, the witnessing of postal ballot-papers, which is the important matter. In the section of the Electoral Act which provides for that, power is given to the Executive to appoint, by proclamation, any one in the Public Service, to witness and accept postal voting notes. The great sin committed by the Chief Electoral Officer was that he believed that the proclamation which was issued covered the two matters. Of course/ we have to abide by the decision of the High Court, but" there 'is grave doubt, even now, as to whether it did not make a mistake. When the Senate struck out the clauses of the Billwhich provided for the trying of election petitions by Committees of Elections and Qualifications, and substituted for the Committee the Court of Disputed Returns, the then Prime Minister and the then AttorneyGeneral submitted to me a clause, which is now section 199 of the Act, to give to the Court the power which has always been possessed by Committees of Elections and Qualifications, to put aside technicalities and to deal with the plain facts of the cases coming before them. The section of the Act to which I have referred reads as follows : -

The Court shall be guided by the substantial merits and good conscience of each case, without regard to legal forms or technicalities, or whether the evidence before it is in accordance with the law of evidence or not.

I believed at the time that that provision gave the Court the power which I thought it should have, but the High Court has decided that it does not. I am bound to say that the honorable member for Darling Downs is the only person who advised me that the provision did not do what I wanted done, and would create trouble.

Mr Groom - I told the honorable gentleman that the bribery provisions were ineffective.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In spite of the remarks of the Chief. Justice of the High Court, there is not much fault to be found with the action of .the Chief Electoral Officer. Considering what a responsible position he was in, arid how he was pestered with requests for information ie.garding a new condition of things from all parts of Australia, it is to be wondered that he did not make greater and graver mistakes than were made. However, I shall not say more on the subject now. I have done my best to defend an absent mn, ard I shall be always ready to adopt a similar line of action, whether the person attacked be friend or foe. It was beneath one occupying the high position in public life which belongs to the leader of the Opposition to make so despicable an attack upon the Chief Electoral Officer. This is not the first) but the third, occasion upon which he has attacked that officer. It seems to me that if once a public servant offends the right honorable member he is ready to hound him to the death! But it is the duty of Ministers to protect public servants from "these attacks.

Mr Wilks - Will the honorable gentleman support a motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into these charges ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Yes. if- definite charges of a serious character are made. But I shall not vote for the appointment of a committee to make a fishing inquiry. I do not think that any statement has been made up to the present time, which warrants an investigation.

Mr Wilks - The statement of the Chief Justice of the High Court was strong enough.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That was merely the statement of a technical opinion. I shall always be willing, when a definite and distinct charge is made against a public servant, to order an inquiry ; but the public servants must be protected against mere vapouring when no grave offences are distinctly charged. To come to another matter, I was during the late elections subjected to the most vile abuse, and an attempt was made to affix upon me the stigma of having tried to gerrymander the electoral divisions of New South Wales. In defence of what I did last session, I shall quote the figures which I gave to the House then, and the. actual figures which have been obtained since, and will show that it was in the interests of the public that the old divisions stood. The object of the Opposition was to deprive the people of the country of a representative, because they know that their strength lies in the city. As a matter of fact, however, the power and the wealth of the States is due to the exertions of the people in the country districts. A similar attempt was made to deprive the country districts of Victoria of . a representative, but to the credit of the people and the press of this State it must be mentioned that there was not a murmur against the action of the Government in opposing that attempt. Dealing with the subject on the 3rd September last, when the Electoral Divisions Bill was before the House, I said, in' a speech reported on pages 4609 and 4610 of vol. XVI. of Hansard -

I shall show the number of electors that would be in these districts, and I can assure honorable members that they are increasing to such an extent that by the time the Revision Court is held there will be little difference between the numbers contemplated under the new distribution and those in the present divisions. In the Darling electorate honorable members opposite were prepared to accept 18,386 electors; to-day the number of electors stands at 15,000. Each day this number is increasing, and there .will be little to cavil at when the final returns are received. It has been repeatedly stated that there are only r2,t39 electors in the Darling electorate, but I can assure honorable members that, according to the returns, which are still incomplete, there are 15,000 electors in that division. In Riverina, under the proposal which honorable members opposite were prepared to accept, there would be 18,862, whereas there are in the division we propose to Tetain, 19,234 electors. Under the scheme proposed by the Electoral Commissioner, which members of the Opposition were prepared to accept, the Barrier division was completely wiped out, and, therefore, I cannot make any comparison. The Barrier, which was the electorate eliminated bv the Commissioner in order to give an additional representative to the voters in the city, will contain, I am informed 18,177 electors. In these electorates some further figures than we had before have been obtained, whilst all the others in the list are not new, but the ones I have given before were based on the previous collection in New South Wales. It still stands as a country electorate, and the country voters have not been robbed of one of the representatives to which they are justly entitled. I intend to publish these figures, together with a number of other returns, through .the length and breadth of Australia.

The most recent figures obtainable show that" I was very nearly correct in my anticipations.

Mr Wilks - Is the honorable member referring to figures relating to the elections ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - To figures which have been laid upon the table and made public, showing the actual number of electors in the various divisions. I referred to the number of electors in the Darling electorate, who, it was then stated, numbered only 12,139. The Riverina then contained 14,920 electors, while in the Barrier division, which was eliminated by the Commissioner, there were 15,173 electors, Now there stands, according to the latest return laid on the table, at Barrier, 19,277 ; Darling, 15,268; and Riverina, 18,163. The Government did their duty to the country districts of New South Wales and Victoria in refusing to allow the recommendations of the Commissioners to be adopted, and the members of the Opposition are vicious because their deliberate and determined attempt to rob the country districts of each State of a representative has failed.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Opposition won four seats in New South Wales from the Government.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Thev won seats upon the issue which the leader of the Opposition described so vividly the other night. Thank heaven that issue is not such a live and rampant thing in the reasonable States of the Commonwealth as it has been in New South Wales under free-trade. I do not wish to enter upon a discussion of the fiscal question, but as honorable members have blamed the Government for attempting to reopen that question. I would point out that it was clearly understood when the Tariff was under discussion that certain action would be taken under Part 6a, and in proposing to introduce a Bill to provide for the granting of bounties for the production of iron we are not raising the fiscal question. ' The Government, in introducing that Bill, is dealing with a matter with which the. States" cannot deal, and which must be dealt with by the Commonwealth. There is nothing, however, in our action contradictory to the statement of the Prime Minister that he went to the country pledged to fiscal peace and preferential trade. A great deal has been said about the lowering or raising of duties to provide for preferential trade. We have not yet arrived at a stage when definite proposals can be submitted.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then the Government have not gone very far.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - No true Australian will be opposed to the taking of measures for enabling the Colonies and the States of the Empire by any means in their power to supply the people of Great Britain with food-stuffs. At present Australia is in the humiliating position of being able to supply to the mother country only about 5 per cent, of the food consumed by the 45,000,000 or 46,000,000 people there.

Mr Page - That is the fault of the protectionists.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That is. the fault of the free-traders in New. South Wales, who share the sentiment expressed by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, in the course of his speech during this debate, namely - "We must forget Australian interests in the interest of the Empire." I shall never forget Australian interests, and if the honorable and learned member for Parkes is sufficiently a foreign trader to forget those amongst whom he is living, and to decline to give them an opportunity to produce enough food to supply the requirements of those of our own flesh and blood, at the other end of the world, neither he nor any of those associated with him are true-hearted Australians. The Government desire - and I have no doubt their desire will be carried into effect - to force this question on to such a degree, that something practical may result. It is all very well for honorable members to ask what we are going to do, whether we are going to concede 12 per cent., 10 per cent., or 5 per cent. They must not forget that an important change in the policy of the mother country cannot be brought about at railway speed, but that full time must be given for consideration. I believe, however, that the principle of preferential trade has taken hold of the people of Australia, and that, when the proper time arrives, they will take care that the Government does its duty.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister is not game to test the question in this House.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am so accustomed to the honorable member, who says nice things in a nasty way, that I do not heed him. No one in New South Wales ever took him seriously, and I do not propose to do so now. I wish to say one word in reference to the effect of preferential trade in Canada. In 1897, the year before preferential trade was adopted, the imports of apparel and haberdashery from the mother country into Canada had decreased to £360,228 in value. In 1902, under the preferential trade system, the imports under this head increased to £528,387. Cotton goods, which' had represented a value of £727,170 in 1897, increased in four years to £1,309,904. I am giving honorable members practical results, and not vapouring theories, such as honorable members of the Opposition side have indulged in. The value of piece goods, jute manufactures, imported into Canada increased from £124,499 in 1897 to £183,397 in 1902. Linens increased in value from £192,625 to £298,130. Machinery and mill work increased from £61,378 to £134,943. Metals, wrought and unwrought, from £624,925 to £1,993,438; spirits from £114,183 to £216,709. I do not know that the last-mentioned increase was a good thing' for Canada. The imports of telegraph wire and apparatus rose in value from £49,824 to £832,735; and woollen and worsted goods from£1,083,918 to £1,821,574. These figures are absolutely correct. They were compiled in the Customs Department, and I am sure honorable members will not say that they are " faked," because I had nothing to do with them, except to give the instructions for their compilation. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra was, I think, ungenerous in his references to my action in regard to the extension of the franchise to women. I do not wish to take undue credit to myself in regard to that matter. When, however, I took up the question in New South Wales, I did what the free-traders never attempted to do. I brought in a Bill, and carried it through the House of Assembly, the measure being defeated bv only three votes in the Legislative Council. I afterwards left the State Parliament, and joined my colleagues in the Federal Government, and I think that they will admit that I stood firm upon this principle, until it was embodied in our laws. Some honorable members say, " I am in favour of this, or that, or the other," but they never do anything. It requires something more than professions of good intent to effect important reforms. The honorable member for Capricornia said that he was not satisfied with the way in which the question of old-age pensions was referred to in the GovernorGeneral's Speech. In regard to that matter, I may mention that when I was in the Parliament of New South Wales I carried through a measure dealing with old-age pensions. I rejoice to say that, in regard to this and other democratic measures, I had the assistance of the Labour Party, and that success was achieved in spite of the opposition of many honorable members who are now doing their best to discredit the Government. The question of old-age pensions is one of great difficulty, in consequence of the Braddon section in the Constitution. I cannot at present say how the difficulty will be obviated. No doubt there is a way out of it, and so far as I am concerned, I shall go with my colleagues to almost any length in order to carry into effect a humane provision such as that referred to. ,

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister said that three years ago.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member for Macquarie and the honorable and learned member for Illawarra made somewhat nasty references to the question of the fodder duties. They flapped their wings, and patted their breasts, and generally plumed themselves upon the fact that the attitude of the Ministry in regard to this matter was one of the influences which operated to bring about the defeat of several supporters of the Government. I happen to be sitting here as the representative of the largest farming district in Australia The produce grown in my electorate during this last season exceeded that of any electorate in Australia. Although I was opposed by the Sydney morning newspapers, and was subjected to the most bitter sectarian hostility, and although the leader of the Opposition, Sir William McMillan, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and Senator Gould all scoured my electorate, and a special edition of the Daily Telegraph was distributed to every elector in the division, I gave the freetrade party the biggest smacking they ever had. There is the answer to the statements that the Government supporters failed to secure election because of the action of the Government in regard to the fodder duties. The remission of the fodder duties would have conferred no advantage upon the farmers, because the duties were a mere bagatelle compared with the reduction in railway rates conceded by the States Governments. In New South Wales, the fodder duties did not represent more than one-twentieth part of the concession made by the railway authorities, and if we had removed the fodder duties the chances are that such extreme reductions of freight probably would not have been granted. Therefore,- we did no harm, but rather good, to the owners of stock. It is admitted to-day that in certain parts of Australia, in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and possibly in other States, an opportunity that otherwise would not have been open to them, was afforded to farmers to dispose of their surplus produce. It would have rejoiced the hearts of the free-traders if we had opened our ports' to the produce of cheap black labour in India and America, instead of giving our own farmers an opportunity to dispose of their surplus. In my own electorate, which returned me by such a bumping majority, the farmers had to buy fodder at high rates, but they did not blame me or the Government. They held the view that we had done right, and had proved our ' stability by standing- to the policy in which we believed, in spite of the loud tongued attacks * of the Opposition. The Government do not propose to raise the fiscal issue, but I intend to maintain my principles. At the same time, I shall adhere to the statement of the Prime Minister, that fiscal peace is to be preserved. That utterance is in no way affected by the proposals to be submitted for granting bounties to farmers and others. I have devoted my attention almost entirely to repelling the attacks made upon the Government and upon me personally, and I hope that I have convinced honorable members that there is nothing in all the talk which has been indulged in by way of adverse criticism ofthe Government.

Suggest corrections