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Tuesday, 24 May 1904


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have now heard some four speeches on the matter engaging the attention of honorable members. As was proper, two of them dealt very largely with the matter of the Coalition, interchanges of opinion that had taken place, the terms that were proposed, and the results that had followed. The honorable gentlemen who dealt with that subject rightly concluded that both this House and the country ought to know exactly what has taken place in such negotiations.' As they were the persons most competent to give the fullest information on the subject, I shall not attempt to trench upon their province, or, at this stage, to offer any opinion on the negotiations that have taken place. I shall confine myself chiefly to remarks in reply to the arguments of the Minister for External Affairs. The honorable and learned gentleman has delivered . an able speech, a. caustic speech, and, on the whole, not a. bitter speech. I need hardly say that itwas an audacious speech and an exag: gerated speech, because it was a speech by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. The blemish in it, if I may say so, is that it assumed a selfrighteousness which is not justified by thehistory of his party, either in the immediate past or in this Parliament. What did the honorable and learned gentleman say about the iniquity of free-traders and protectionists combining when they thought a bigger issue was at stake? Di'd he not complain that the action pf honorable members holding diverse opinions on fiscalism in agreeing to come together and to sink the fiscal issue, even for a time, in order to enforce their views on other matters, was dishonest and inexcusable? Yet the present Miniserial Party comprises free-traders and protectionists, and honorable members of it have been assisted in their return by the votes of free-traders and protectionists alike.


Mr Batchelor - They did not combine for office.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They sunk the fiscal issue, and combined to sink it when they went for office.


Mr Batchelor - No.


Mr Page - Let the honorable member try it, and see.

Mr.DUGALD THOMSON.- We have already tried it, and we do see.


Mr Page - Honorable members have not tried it. They are not game to do so.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They have sunk the fiscal issue, and have determined that that matter shall be left, not to the near future, but to a future whose nearness we cannot yet estimate. I admit that honorable members opposite may have a justification for their attitude. They may consider that Socialism is a better thing than fiscalism, and having an opportunity to introduce it, they think they should sink the lesser measure in favour of the greater. But why should they reproach others who may think that Socialism is a worse thing than fiscalism, and, who, acting upon the lines of the party now occuping the Treasury benches, decide that, for a time, and not for ever, the fiscal issue should be set aside and the larger issue dealt with?


Mr McDonald - What is the larger issue? The honorable gentleman might explain.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have already explained it; but if the honorable member chooses to talk while I am speaking, I cannot be expected to repeat myself.


Mr McDonald - I have listened very attentively.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Our attitude is precisely the same as that of the members of his own party. If they do not find fault with their own attitude, they have no right to cast a stigma upon those who sit in opposition. I am not going to support the compliments which have been paid to the Labour Party for the attachment to principle which they claim. In many ways thev have won my admiration. The original Labour Party in New South Wales alwavs possessed my admiration for their consistency. There was no question of opportunism' with that party. They never troubled as to whether their policy might react upon themselves, to their own injury. When they adopted a principle, and said that it was the best for the country, they were prepared to support it at all risks to themselves. For instance, they adopted the referendum as one of the main planks in their platform. After its adoption, several decisions were given in Switzerland under that mode of obtaining popular opinion which were against the views held by the Labour Party in australia. Did they go back, therefore, on the principle of the referendum? No. They said - " We have adopted a system which, in our opinion, is a right and proper one, and, although it may give results adverse to our wishes, we stand by it as a plank in our platform." But what has recently happened in New South Wales? The Parliamentary Labour Party there have been drawing up a fighting platform, and because the decision of the referendum taken upon the question of the reduction of members was adverse to them, thev quietly dropped the principle out of their programme, and, although it has been replaced, it has been replaced, not by them, but by a labour conference outside of Parliament. We have seen the members of the Labour Party in this House abandon their policv time after time.


Mr Mahon - Can the honorable member give us one instance of that ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am going to mention a number. I do not make assertions without trying to support them. Whether I succeed or not must be left to the opinion of honorable members. The Labour Party have abandoned their policy time after time. Have they not abandoned the attitude assumed by the right honorable member for Adelaide in connexion with the Arbitration Bill ? Have they not, by that action, abandoned the right honorable member himself? Has he not made his sacrifice in vain? The very men for whom he made it will not support his action.


Mr Mahon - Ought not the honorable member to show that the action of the right honorable member was our action?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The party have given every evidence of that, by their speeches in this House, and by their support outside the Chamber.


Mr Bamford - At all events, his action was not suggested by the party.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not . say that it was, but the party supported him in the attitude which he took. If they did not, they differed from their supporters outside of Parliament. What was that attitude? The right honorable member held that in the Arbitration Bill there should be a clause providing that British or foreign steamers trading to Australia, and carrying passengers or cargo along our coasts, should be required to submit to compulsory arbitration, and, in that connexion, he gave a promise to certain representatives of labour, one of whom is now a member of the Parliament, by which he considered himself bound to the introduction of such a provision in the measure.


Mr Mahon - Was not that only in the absence of a Navigation Bill ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was independent of the Navigation" Bill. I shall come to the Navigation Bill. I shall not omit any part of my subject. The right honorable member gave a promise and considered himself bound by it. Whether we agree as to the wisdom of that promise, or as to the desirability of inserting such a provision in the Bill, we can at least admit that his action was honorable and selfsacrificing, since, having given the promise, he stood by its consequences, and resigned office rather than break it.


Mr Hughes - The right honorable member still sits with us.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have nothing to do with that. I arn relating facts. I am not discussing his position In the Chamber, but his action in connexion with the Arbitration Bill, and the abandonment of his position in that connexion by the Labour Party.


Mr Hughes - It has not been abandoned at all. The honorable member is quite wrong.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am quite right. I could not make this charge if the Labour Party were not in power ; but I can make it now that they are in power.


Mr Hughes - The honorable member is quite wrong, and he knows it.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable and learned gentleman's statement that I am wrong will not convince hie. I shall support my contention by facts indicated by the Prime Minister. The Labour Party while they were allied to the late Government had not the opportunity to do anything in this matter. They used their influence, .but it failed to affect those in power. Now, however, they have had an opportunity to support the right honorable member for Adelaide. The late Government, to a certain extent, agreed to support him. They promised to promptly introduce a Navigation Bill, practically at the same time as the Arbitration Bill, which should contain the provision which the right honorable member sought to carry into effect. The Labour Party have come into power, and have accepted the Arbitration Bill introduced by the late Government, with certain amendments, but they do not propose to insert the provision to which I refer. The Arbitration Bill, as they propose to amend it, will not apply to foreign and British shipping trading on our coasts. The right honorable member for Adelaide himself said that it does not, and he surely is the best authority on this matter. Trie Navigation Bill, which, according to the late Government, was to be dealt with concurrently with the Arbitration Bill, has now been relegated bv the Labour Party to the waste-paper basket. A Royal Commission is to sit upon it, and no one knows how long it will be before it sees the light of day. That is one instance in which the labour leagues have abandoned a principle, and in that abandonment a friend of their proposals has been deserted. The next instance to which I will allude is the abandonment of State employes. The late Administration was defeated upon an amendment to include all State employes within the scope of the Arbitration Bill - not some, but all; but now that the Labour Party- have come into power, what do they tell us? What has the Prime

Minister told us ? That he intends to apply the provisions of the measure to only a portion of the Commonwealth and States services.


Mr Hughes - The honorable member should read the definition of "industry," contained in the Bill.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The explanation of the Prime 'Minister was perfectly clear. He stated the intention of the party. I am not going to interpret the word " industry " as defined in the Bill. I take the interpretation of the Prime Minister. Whether we do or do not agree with the views expressed in his speech declaring his policy, he made himself abundantly clear, and was absolutely understood by honorable members to say that he did not propose to bring the clerical servants of the States or the Commonwealth under the operation of the Bill.


Mr Crouch - He has changed his views within a month.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What he now proposes is that those connected with the clerical branches of the" Railways and Post Office shall be brought under the Bill, but that officers who are not directly connected with what is considered an industry shall not be brought under it. Surely consistency cannot be claimed for a Government that has acted in this way so early in its Ministerial career. I wish to point to another abandonment of the public servants. The Labour Party, when out of office, were so strongly in favour of the inclusion of State servants in the Arbitration Bill, and considered it so essential to just treatment, and so important in the interests of industrial peace, that they were prepared to wreck the Ministry to which they were otherwise favorable, rather than abandon their position. But are they prepared to wreck themselves on the same principle? Bv interjection, the Prime Minister was asked, " Will you resign if you do not carry that provision ? "


Mr Reid - Ask an oyster if he will resign from the rock.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister replied that he would not say so. He could not agree to do that. That was a matter for consideration.


Mr Robinson - We shall have to scrape them off.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is not a case of saving others, and not saving yourselves, but a case of saving yourselves.your position, and your emoluments when in the interests of certain public servant's you declined to save others.


Mr Fisher - May .it not be that the Prime Minister would not use his influence to coerce honorable members.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That influence was used for all it was worth when the Labour Party desired to exert it during the term of office of the late Government.


Mr Watson - Is that true?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Of course it is. I. am speaking of the circumstance that the alternative was' that the Ministry was to go out, and the Labour Party were to come into power.-


Mr Watson - But did we bring any pressure to bear?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not saying for one moment that the Labour Party brought individual pressure to bear, but I say that the result that would follow from the non-acceptance by the Ministry of the principle which was advocated by the Labour Party was used for all it was worth. In view of the fact that the Labour Party, when out of office, considered that the proposal to bring all State servants within the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was of sufficient importance to justify the wrecking of the Ministry to which they were otherwise favorable, they would, in my opinion, be sacrificing the public servants to their own interests if they held that the matter was not of sufficient importance to justify them in wrecking their own Ministry ratherthan submit to an adverse decision.


Mr Watson - We knew that the late Ministry objected to the inclusion of any public servants.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, and the objection of the present Ministry is to the inclusion of all public servants.


Mr Watson - Not at all.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - According to the Government proposals, the objection of the Ministry is to the inclusion of all public servants. I shall point to another lapse from principle for the sake of convenience. ' Owing to the fact that a few labour members represent Western Australia, it ls proposed to exempt that State from the operation of the provisions in the Navigation Bill which would affect oversea steamers.


Mr Watson - Was that a part of the labour platform, which was intended to bring all honorable members within the fold ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am coming to that. It was agreed by the Labour Party to shade their opinions upon this matter of great principle, and although the proposal would interfere with other States besides Western Australia, and would affect the transit of the perishable products of other States-


Mr Mahon - Of one State.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The proposal would interfere with many States in a variety of ways. No consideration was to be extended to such States, but the members for Western Australia, although as members of the Labour Party they were committed to a principle-


Mr Watson - What principle?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The principle proposed to be embodied in the Navigation Bill which would affect oversea steamers.


Mr Watson - That was not a principle of the labour platform.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not that the employes on oversea steamers should be brought within the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill ?


Mr Watson - Yes.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Was it not a part of the labour platform that certain provisions should be inserted in the Navigation Bill, relating to the employment of coloured labour upon oversea steamers ?


Mr Mahon - We are opposed only to unfair competition.


Mr Reid - So ,are we.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not objecting to the attitude assumed by the Postmaster-General .


Mr Mahon - I am, speaking for the party,


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was agreed .that the representatives of Western Australia should be allowed a free hand to vote as they chose upon one of the most important principles embodied in the labour platform.


Mr Watson - The honorable member's statement shows the unwisdom of depending upon press reports. No such stipulation was made. Whatever liberty was extended to the Western Australian representatives, was granted to all members alike.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Very well. I shall put the matter in another way. In the interests of a certain State - for the mere convenience of the people of that State, principally in connexion with travelling in - mail steamers, even though there are other good boats which compare favorably with some of the mail steamers - the members of the Labour Party were to be allowed a. free hand with regard to what had been put forward as one of the principles of the party.


Mr Reid - Uniform industrial legislation is one of the great principles of the Labour Party.


Mr Batchelor - What was wrong with that ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am simply asking how the Minister of External Affairs can, in view of the circumstances I have mentioned, claim for the Labour Partv consistency or attachment to principle superior to that exhibited by other parties.


Mr Webster - Does the honorable member want us to come down to his revel?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Labour Party have sunk below it. There is a further abandonment of principle involved in the begging appeal for support, and the promise made by the Minister of External Affairs. He said that honorable members who might go over to the side of the Government, although not included in the labour caucus, would be allowed to influence the Government policy.


Mr Watson - That would be only in regard to anv departures from the stated intentions of the Government for the current session.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was not stated in that way.


Mr Watson - I am certain that my version is the correct one.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister of External Affairs said that honorable members who joined the ranks of the supporters of. the Government would be allowed to exercise a voice in determining its policy. That involves a distinct departure from the attitude formerly assumed by the Labour Party. Further than that, and 'worse than all, the Labour Party, which has set itself up as the strongest advocate of purity of election, purity of representation, and purity of legislation, made an offer, which I venture to say, was more degrading than anything I have ever heard in anv Parliament in which I have sat.


Mr Reid - It was an open bribe.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It was an absolute bribe, extending to anything up to£1,200, with a view to inducing members to 'cross the floor of the chamber and record their vote in support of the Government.


Mr Watson - To what is the honorable member referring?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister for External Affairs in his speech, -with which the Prime Minister appears to be ill-acquainted-


Mr Watson - I should like to know the honorable member's interpretation of it.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister of External Affairs stated that if honorable members would cross the floor of the chamber, and support the present Government, they would not be opposed by the Labour Party at the next election.


Mr Watson - So far as we are concerned.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The statement was made that honorable members who support, the Government will not be opposed by nominees of the Labour Party. Although I have heard of many negotiations which were not conducted in . the House itself-


Mr Watson - Hear, hear.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Although I have heard of many negotiations, both in this Parliament and. in others - negotiations which did not take place in the legislative chamber itself, I never, previously heard of such a proposal being put forward by any party for the express purpose of influencing votes.


Mr Watson - The honorable member has been deaf for some little time past.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That remark may possibly apply to the. previous speaker, but I scarcely think that it applies to me. The deafness, and the blindness I claim is all upon the other side. Apparently the eyes can be shut, and the mouth can be opened when there is danger to position, prestige, and power by the verykeenest advocates of purity and of the prohibition of bribery. I am astonished that it should be thought that honorable members who will not leave one side of the House from honest convictions are to be won over to support the Ministry bv a promise which is practically a bribe - a promise that, to some, means perhaps a saving of £50 or £60 in their election expenses, and which may also mean a gain in the form of their parliamentary allowance, amounting to £1,200. I was surprised to hear such a statement made by a member of a Government which is just beginning its Ministerial life, when we would naturally expect that care "would be exercised in any course that might be taken. When such methods are adopted by the Government so early in its career, I say that the Labour Party has departed from the old attribute which I acknowledge it possessed - a strict desire to. maintain the greatest possible purity in the administration of the affairs of government.


Mr Watson - Do I understand that the honorable member would be in favour of stabbing an ally in the back ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime. Minister may understand anything except that I am in favour of bandying bribes across the floor of this House with a view to securing the votes of honorable members. The Minister of External Affairs devoted a good deal of his speech to the right honorable member for East Sydney, and I think it was highly complimentary to the latter that he did so. I do not intend to discuss the trivialities to which the Minister referred. He might at least have confined his attack to the larger matters. I wish, however, to allude to one or two of his statements regarding the right honorable member for East Sydney. In the first place, the Minister animadverted on the vote given by the right honorable member upon the proposal to exclude public servants from the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I wonder, what he would have said had the right honorable member reversed his previous vote upon the same proposal? What would he have said if, when the proposal was not regarded as a vital one by the Government, the right honorable member for East Sydney had supported the Ministry, but, when it was regarded as vital, he had turned round and voted in an opposite direction? We should have heard the Minister eloquently denouncing his action as one of the most disgraceful contradictions of which any politician could be capable. Yet he does not give the right honorable member any credit for his recent vote. Does the Minister not recognise that in registering that vote, the right honorable member must have known that he was reducing his own chance of being " sent for " by the GovernorGeneral, in the event of the defeat of the Ministry ? But, in spite of that recognition, he still adhered to his previous vote, and did not attempt to wreck the Government bv reversing it. The Minister also declared that the right honorable member for East Sydney should have led his party either with or' against the Government. But it must be recollected that most of the members of that party had voted previously upon the same proposal. Was the right honorable member to demand from them a reversal of their votes ? Certainly not ! He acted a better part in taking the course which he did, and in refusing to attempt to influence a single vote upon, his own side. The Minister for External Affairs further attacked the leader of the Opposition, by declaring that, though the latter was in favour of reversing the black labour on mail steamers provision in the Post and Telegraph Act, throughout the negotiations which had taken place with a view to the formation of a coalition Government, he had said nothing about it. By interjection, the right honorable member for East Sydney explained that no member upon this side of the House was bound upon that matter, but that honorable members were free to take action if they saw fit. The Minister then went on to charge the right honorable member with being ready to amend that clause. He spoke against laying unholy hands upon the ark of the covenant, as represented by that provision. In the face of his diatribe, will it be believed that the Ministry themselves propose to amend that very clause?


Mr Watson - Only in relation to Australian aborigines.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In relation to coloured aborigines. What does that mean ? I am not opposed to the amendment - I am merely comparing the attitude of the Government-


Mr Watson - It does not involve a reversal of policy.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not say that it does. I am merely alluding to the attack which the Minister of External Affairs made upon the right honorable member for East Sydney. The Government propose to amend that very clause, so as to> permit of black labour carrying our mails. I admit that it is the aboriginal labour of Australia.- But what will the British Government think if we employ Australian aborigines in carrying mails between various parts of the Commonwealth, whilst we refuse to allow aboriginal coloured labour from other parts of the Empire to be employed on British oceangoing ships under contract to carry our mails ?


Mr Webster - That is a wholly different matter.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The difference is that it suits the representatives of some parts of Australia that the mails be-' tween certain points should be carried by means of black labour, because otherwise the system would be dearer, and the people would not enjoy the conveniences they now possess.


Mr McDonald - Can the honorable member give us one instance in which Australian aboriginals are so employed?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I would refer the -honorable member to the PostmasterGeneral, who could tell him of many cases in Western Australia in which aborigines are so employed. The Minister has already given expression to his opinion on this subject, and I believe that he has also put a question in this House, in relation to it. In the case of our ocean-going mails, we have to deal with British ships, which are, so to speak, British territory, and employ the aborigines of other parts of the British Empire. We are prepared to allow the aborigines of one part of the Empire to perform this work for us within our own territory, but we say that aborigines of other parts are not to be employed on the ocean in British ships engaged in carrying Australian mails.


Mr Poynton - Would the honorable member exclude all coloured labour?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am merely referring to the inconsistency shown in the attack made on the right honorable member for East Sydney, for daring to propose any alteration.


Mr Reid - I was first abused for having agreed not to do so.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Quite so. The Ministry propose that black labour shall be employed in the carriage of mails within our own territory. That is a proposal to which I do not object, and my only desire, in referring tq it, is to show the inconsistency of the attack upon the right honorable member for East Sydney.


Mr Poynton - Does the honorable member say that the White Australia policy was to be left an open question, so far as the projected coalition was concerned?


Mr Reid - Honorable members on this side of the House are as strongly in favour of a White Australia as is any honorable member opposite.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member for Grey should know that I said nothing in the nature of the statement which he suggests. Doubtless he has achieved his object by getting in his interjections. He is seeking to draw a red herring across the trail in order to divert public attention from the very awkward position in which the Ministry stand in relation to this matter. I have put the true position before the House. We have never heard from this Government that evenocean mails are not to be carried byblack labour. We have never heard that it is the intention of the Government that black labour shall not be employed in the carriage of mails to the various ports of Australia. The late Ministry spoke of resorting to the poundage system, so far as oversea mails are concerned, and although their proposals in that regard do not bind the present Government, I would ask whether any improvement would be secured? Under the poundage system our mail's would still be carried, as under the contract system, by vessels employing black labour. If there is a colour stain in the one case is there not a colour stain in the other ? If it is desirable to exclude coloured seamen from British vessels employed in the carriage of mails under the contract system - and that is said to be the object of the section in the Postal Act which deals with this question - is it not desirable to exclude coloured seamen under the poundage system? Is black poundage any better than black contract? But we have not had an outline of any proposal on the part of the Government to make a change in that direction. The Minister of External Affairs also attacked the right honorable member for East Sydney this afternoon on the ground that while he held certain opinions, he had yet failed to give vent to them. In other words, he asserted that the document which was drawn up as the Basis of the projected coalition did not embody any proposal to give effect to opinions expressed by the right honorable member at the last elections. I should like to know how many instances there are in which the Ministry have not sought to give effect to their opinions. Does not the programme which they have put before us give evidence of a marked moderation of their views as compared with those which we have heard many of them express on the hustings in. various parts of Australia? In the circumstances, .it comes with an ill grace from an honorable member of a Ministry which is repressing many of its own opinions or principles to attack a right honorable member who is not in power for having repressed certain of his political opinions. Then, again, the Minister of External Affairs asserted that the

Labour Party in another place had gained more members than the other -two parries combined.


Mr Watson - As the result of the last election.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A larger increase ?


Mr Watson - At the last elections they secured ten as against nine members.


Mr Reid - Not an absolute majority.


Mr Watson - A majority so far as the last elections were concerned.


Mr Reid - But not an absolute majority in another place.


Mr SPEAKER - Order.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I understand what the Prime Minister means. His contention is that at the last election the Labour Party in the Senate gained returns equal to the aggregate returns secured by the other two parties in that Chamber.


Mr Fisher - One more.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Exactly ; but how many votes do they represent ?


Mr Watson - The honorable member believes in the principle of equal representation.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister is in error. I did not believe in the proposal that there should be equal representation in the Senate, and I said so during the Federal election campaign ; but inasmuch as we could not secure Federation without the adoption of that principle, we had to accept it.


Mr Watson - The honorable members leader did not try to secure it without the adoption of that principle. That was my objection.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister was then in the habit of drawing lugubrious pictures of the effect which the working of this principle would have on his party.


Mr Watson - I still object to it.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Quite so; but in order to secure Federation, we had to concede something to the smaller States. The granting of the principle of equal representation has not had that injurious effect upon the Labour Party which the Prime Minister predicted; but it seems to me that the party should not claim undue credit for the increased representation which thev have secured in another place. The number of votes polled by the successful labour candidates at the- last Senate elections was very much below that obtained by the successful candidates belonging to other parties in that Chamber. An attack has been made on the honorable member for New England and the honorable member for Lang, because, in voting for the amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which, led to the defeat of the late Ministry, they announced that they were in favour of the clause as it stood, but supported the amendment only for the reason that thev wished to oust the 'Government. The objection comes with an ill grace from a member of the Labour Party. In my opinion, the honorable members in question acted far more honestly than honorable members sometimes act when, for party or other reasons, they vote for a proposal which they do not favour, but refrain from announcing at the same time that, as a matter of fact, they are opposed to it. The fact that the honorable members in question announced that they voted for the amendment only because they wished to oust the Government must redound to their credit. It certainly speaks well for the honesty of ' an honorable member when he states that he proposes to vote for a certain proposal only because an object which he has in view could not otherwise be secured. The Labour Party has constantly resorted to the practice without any explanation to which exception is now taken. Does the Prime Minister forget the occasion on which some of the members of his party voted for a proposal in which they did not believe in order to. oust a Ministry in whch they did believe ?


Mr Watson - Every party must sink minor matters. The Opposition, as well as other parties, do so, and are compelled to do so.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But the Minister for External Affairs has cast reflections on the honorable members in question for adopting a practice which has-been followed by members of all parties. He has cast reflections upon them for doing what they considered necessary, although a labour caucus has been known to change its corporate opinions from day to day through one or two members constituting a majority changing theirs. These are tactics which are not unknown to the public, and the fact that the honorable member for New England and the honorable member for Lang saw fit to announce the object that they had in view in voting as they did show's honesty, not dishonesty, of purpose. So that was also an attack, which should hardly have come from a member of the Labour Party. I now come to the question of saving the late Ministry. Why did the Labour Party, which regrets, or did regret, the removal of that Ministry from office - I do not know that that regret lives now - not save it ?


Mr Bamford - Time is a great healer.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And something else is more effective still. Why did not the Labour Party save the late Ministry ?


Mr Watson - Because we were pledged to the country.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes ; but the present Ministry is not going to sacrifice its own life over the same pledge.


Mr Watson - We never took the stand that the late Ministry was justified in resigning office.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The members of the Labour Party said that the late Ministry would have to sacrifice its life.


Mr Watson - No.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Itwas of sufficient importance, after the Ministry took their stand, to say that the late Ministry should die.


Mr Watson - We never said so.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman, in his unofficial capacity, sacrificed the life of- the late Ministry. But apparently the principle at stake is not of sufficient importance to demand the sacrifice of the life of the present Ministry. The honorable gentleman has . not announced that he will commit suicide yet, in spite of being questioned on the matter, so that I have been speaking by the book so far.


Mr Watson - There is plenty of time.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is plenty of time to face a death-bed. The Minister of External Affairs has asked us to trust the Government, and said that if the House does not agree with its policy it can throw it out. So far as we have goneof course, I shall be pleasantly surprised if the position should alter - we have evidence that the Ministry will" not go out on its measures, but will have to be pitched out.


Mr Watson - I know that the honorable member's leader did not go out on one of his measures.


Mr Reid - Which one of them?


Mr Watson - When I moved an amendment against the right honorable and learned gentleman's Local Government Bill, and it was carried, he did not go out of office.


Mr Reid - Because I had a bigger thing on.'


Mr Watson - Quite so.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If it had been of sufficient importance, I have no doubt that the right honorable and learned member would have gone out.


Mr Watson - But who is to judge of the importance?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the Ministry will not go out of office if defeated on the question on which they obtained office, then we may conclude that they will not go out of office when defeated on any of their measures, but will remain on the Treasury benches simply as a committee, bringing forward special measures, and saying to the House : " If you like you can alter our Bills; if you alter them too much we may abandon them; but we shall not abandon office."


Mr Watson - That was the usual record in New South Wales in 1894.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If we are to be governed in that fashion ; if we give the Government' power to transact the business of the country in that way, we give them power to live for ever. The Ministry must not object to be faced with the question, whether . they represent a majority in the House, on anv matters oh which a majority can combine?


Mr Watson - We do not object.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In other portions of the House there will be differences of opinion, as there are in the Labour Party. For instance, I was much amused to find that the Ministry is termed the Conservative wing of the Labour Party. There will be differences of opinion, but if there is a policy on which there can be a combination by a majority, that majority, which is only a combination on certain things, and not on everything, must not raise pleas of unfairness, if it meets with the fate that minorities should meet with in Parliament. The Minister of External Affairs put forward the argument that as the two policies - that of the proposed coalition, and that of the Government - are to a certain distance exactly the same, why disturb the Government? But there is something beyond that policy to be considered ; there is something even in the proposals of the Ministry that goes beyond that policy. I take it to be the -duty of honorable members, if they are offered two policies so far alike, to take that which does not go beyond that of which they approve. The departures from similarity are two. They are of much importance in a way - not so much in themselves, but as to what they indicate. One is the taking -over of tobacco manufacture. That may find favour with some persons. We know that tobacco manufacture and importation has been taken up by some Governments. We know also that there is an apparent monopoly in the tobacco trade, and that there are reasonable objections by persons to monopoly. But the Ministry, so far as they have been able to get an opinion, seem to think that there is no power in the Constitution for the Commonwealth to enter into such an industry.


Mr Watson - There is a doubt, any way.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - So far as the honorable gentleman's information goes, there is a doubt.


Mr Reid - A very grave doubt.







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