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Tuesday, 24 May 1904

Mr WEBSTER (Gwydir) - Having listened to the characteristic and caustic address of the honorable and learned member for Wannon, I cannot express surprise at his method of dealing with the proposals of the Government. When, however, he declares that the Labour Party are using political bird-lime with a view to catching the votes of honorable members of the Opposition, I am impelled to ask whether it is not a condition of the proposed coalition that the fiscal question shall not be raised at any by-election which may take place during the life of the present Parliament.

Mr Willis - Have not the Labour Party imposed a similar condition?

Mr WEBSTER - I shall answer that question presently. Has it not been publicly stated in the press that if the followers of the late Government will only support the right honorable member for East Sydney in his endeavour to effect a coalition of parties, they shall have immunity from opposition, so far as the fiscal question is concerned, at any by-election which may occur? Consequently, I should like to know from the honorable and learned member for Wannon, who declares that the Radical members of the Opposition who may be induced to support the Labour Party will be "knocked on the head " at a later stage, what, will be the position of those who entertain a different fiscal belief from himself, when once they have allowed the right honorable member for East Sydney to swallow them in the ' manner that is now being attempted? What will be their position after the next general election? They will then be told that the fiscal question is again to be raised. When I hear honorable members speaking in the strain adopted by the honorable and learned member for Wannon I am at a loss to know whether they are impartial critics. On the whole, I think that this debate has been well conducted, notwithstanding that it gave rise to one little episode of which the press, and particularly the press of New South Wales, has made a great deal. I refer to my objection to allow the right honorable member for East Sydney to interrupt the speech of the Minister of External Affairs by making a personal explanation. Although the position which I took up was not popular in the House, I was perfectly within my constitutional rights, and I acted solely from a desire to conserve the strength of the Minister for External Affairs, who was suffering physically during the delivery of his speech. When I heard a gentleman of the standing of the right honorable member for East Sydney refer to the Minister as " Quilp," or " an imitation of Quilp," and ask - "Does not he remind one of Quilp " ? - a character which of all others depicted by any writer is the most repulsive, both from a physical and moral stand-point - I felt justified in persisting in my objection because I realized that his sole object was to break the continuity of the Minister's remarks. We have heard a good deal this evening from the honorable member for New England, and the honorable and learned member for Wannon concerning what the Labour Party has done in New South Wales. Of course the honorable and learned member for Wannon is an authority upon what has been accomplished in that State. He has consulted Coghlan, and has looked at one column in that publication which sets out the total loan money that has been expended upon public works in New South Wales during the past four years. Had he been a fair critic he would have further investigated those figures, and have discovered that a large proportion of the money was expended, not only in carrying out public works, but in resuming property which had become a plague spot.

Mr Robinson - What sum was devoted to that purpose?

Mr WEBSTER - The total sum expended during the last four years by the Government of New South Wales on works of every description - excluding money. devoted to the redemption of loans, and borrowed for the purposes to which I have referred - is £9,252,000. My honorable friend indicated, however, that they had spent over £17,000,000. When honorable members propose to quote figures, they should take care to master them, and to see that, in putting them before the House, they do not do an injustice to those whom many are seeking to malign.

Mr Kelly - Hear, hear.

Mr WEBSTER - Doubtless the honorable member for Wentworth will display much versatility in dealing with these figures. The honorable member for New England also indulged in a tirade of abuse against the New South Wales administration, and the effect which the Labour Party has had upon it. But it is a fact, that no one can controvert, that the statistics relating to the Savings Banks accounts of receipts, and to every avenue of production, show that, during the decade in which the Labour Party has been in existence in that State, there has been an improvement pro rata with the growth of the population that has not been witnessed in any other decade. Before leaving Sydney, I secured Mr. Coghlan's statistics relating to the matter, but I have mislaid them. I am able to say, however, from a perusal of them, that they demonstrate that, without exception, all sections of the industrial community affected by the policy of the present State Government have shown much progress. More money has been saved in carrying out public works, and more money has been expended on legitimate undertakings than was ever the case before. The honorable member for Wannon must remember that the question is not how much money has been spent, but has it been well spent ? The extension of the railways system of New South Wales, opening up Crown lands and presenting possibilities to the holders of those lands, which never before existed, may not for the time being pay, but is indirectly the salvation of the country. It has been a source of encouragement to the people already on the land, and will help those yet to be settled.

Mr Kelly - Was the expenditure, at the Fitzroy Dock a good thing?

Mr WEBSTER - That is one of the political diseases which really relate to those who are opposed to this form of government. If the honorable member were familiar with the history of the Fitzroy Dock for the last ten years, he would know who laid the foundations for a proceeding that has cast a stigma upon the name of New South Wales. The Government of the day in that State discovered the cancer, and had the courage to draw it out by the roots, and to place the board beyond political patronage. But, because the Government have removed this cancer from the sphere of political administration, those who were responsible for the trouble now turn round and blame them. The state of affairs which existed was not a healthy one, but it was the creation of others. The present State Government have really followed the lines, of their predecessors. Mr. E. W. O'sullivan has followed the lines laid down by Mr. G. H. Reid and by Mr. J. H. Young, who introduced the day labour system in the mother State, and I give them credit for their action. Members of the Reid State Government - Mr. Reid and Mr. J. H. Young, Minister for Works - laid the foundation of the day labour system in New South Wales ; and yet these are the men who are castigating the .present Minister for Works in New South Wales for building upon those foundations. It appears to me that no apology is necessary for the mistakes made by men who desire to wilfully misrepresent others in whom they do not believe. I come now to the right honorable member, whose name is the centre of this debate, and who is the pivot on which the operations that at present occupy so much attention in the political world of the Commonwealth turn. I refer to the right honorable member for East Sydney. He is undoubtedly the man upon whom the eyes of Australia are fixed, and many are watching him critically to see his next move. We know that he has already the reputation of being one of the most changeable men who has ever stood in the political arena of the Commonwealth. I well remember his first election to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. For twelve years he occupied a seat in that Chamber as a private, but an influential, member, and although there were opportunities for private members to do good work, the only measure which he placed on the statute-book of the State during that period was a Bill to regulate the width of streets and lanes. This is an illustration of his constructive ability, and of the energy and the progressive ideas which he displayed as a private member of the State Legislature. Honorable members opposite talk about our betraying men. They talk about our inducing men to join our ranks, with the intention of giving them a political knockdown. But well do I remember how the right honorable member for East Sydney scaled the barriers in the way of his advancement to the position of leader of his party in the New South Wales Parliament. Well do I remember how he dealt with his old political chieftain, the late Sir Henry Parkes, when he found him failing in health, and, because of age, practically failing in intellect. Nor do I forget the action of those who went with him - men who had formerly supported Sir Henry Parkes, but left him to act in conjunction with the right honorable member, who was prepared to take away from a feeble and failing old man the opportunity to make the crowning effort in the cause for which he had fought so honorably as compared with the right honorable member himself. Then we find him coming into the arena as a practical politician. What did he do during his five years of office in the State Parliament that he should take so much to himself? We hear him cackle, cackle, cackle of what he did in fighting for the principle of a life-time ; we hear him stating again and again that he passed a land and income tax. At that period in the history of New South Wales, a land and income tax would have been passed by any onewho had been in power. Public opinion had grown so strongly in favour of the imposition of the tax that he could not have done otherwise than impose it. The feeling was prevalent that the time had arrived when a land and income tax should be brought into operation. Several previous Governments, including an Administration of which the right honorable member was a member, had previously endeavoured to do so, and it was merely because he came into office at a time when public feeling was ripe for action, that he passed the tax.

Mr McDonald - With the aid of the Labour Party.

Mr WEBSTER - Undoubtedly; and he could not have remained in office unless he had proceeded with that measure. What was the product of this wonderful man's existence as Premier of New South Wales? Did he give us a law on early closing, as he' might have done? Did he give us a system of old-age pensions, as he might have done? Did he show his earnestness about those measures when he had the greatest majority that had ever stood behind a statesman in that country? When he had every opportunity to pass any useful legislation which might have suggested itself to him as being necessary for the welfare of the people, did he make use of his majority and endeavour to give to the people that needed legislation? No. He simply played with the Labour Party, once he thought that he had laid down the foundation on which he could at least base his argument in the future that he had obtained the enactment of a land and income tax. Had he followed the example of John Ballance or Richard Seddon in New Zealand, as he had every opportunity to do with his big majority, and passed a progressive land tax such as they passed, with the same provision with regard to the right of resumption at the owner's valuation, less a compensation for dispossession, we should not to-day be calling out for some means of placing people on the land in New South Wales. On the contrary, those rich agricultural and pastoral lands which are now locked up throughout the length and breadth of the State would have been regained to the Crown at a normal value, and hundreds and hundreds of settlers' sons would have been thriving on their own holdings. When this great reformer, who is always working for the interests of the people - who, as he says, is a greater labour man than any other man in this Chamber or outside' it - whose heart, like that of the noblest son of Australia, is almost bleeding in sympathy with the aspirations of the labour people - when this man had the example of New Zealand legislation before his eyes, and could perceive its beneficial effects, was it any credit to him to take a mere paltrystep towards reform, and thereby block any chance of bringing about a legitimate reform afterwards? Was it any credit to him to take that step when he might have taken a larger step, and .given undoubted relief to the people of New South Wales, not only at that time, but even to-day, and in the future? I do like to hear these men telling us that they want to run the Commonwealth because the Labour Party are inexperienced, and therefore unable to conduct its affairs. Do I not remember that the right honorable member for East Sydney has time and again proved to the public that he will only go as fast as he is driven, and he will have to be driven very hard in order to get him to go at all. During his Premiership, in New South Wales, he produced a land and income tax, and' that was all. Why did his legislative career come to a close then? He would not proceed with progressive -legislation, and consequently he. had to go out. After that event, what did we find? We found him on the Federal platform opposing the Braddon "blot" tooth and nail. All his speeches were a diatribe of criticism of that famous Braddon "blot," of the taxation which it would impose on the people. All these objections were put forward in his most lucid and able way. He fought the first referendum as a bitter opponent of that provision. Although he told the people that he was an opponent of the Braddon "blot," that it was something which should be cast to the four winds of heaven, yet he voted for it. In the Legislative Assembly, in order to prevent the majority from ruling at the referendum, he prescribed a minimum number of votes by which the Constitution should be carried. The man who now believes in majority rule was the man . who engineered the first referendum which had ever been taken in Australia. He placed an embargo on majority rule. He said - " Whilst I believe that you will get a majority in favour of the Constitution, yet I shall see that you do not get the Constitution because I shall get my servile followers to fix the number at such a standard that it will not be reached by the electors when the poll is taken." Hence it was that the Commonwealth Bill was not carried at the first referendum. There was an absolute violation of majority rule. For what purpose? Australia's noblest son, as he was called, was running in the lead, and the right honorable member for East Sydney wished to hold him back until he could scale that position. When a man has intrigued to kill majority rule on_a proposal that affected a nation, well might the men whom he is asking to join him to-day, whom he is conjuring his brain to discover a way to make part and parcel of his party, look into his history, and say - " No ; we are not prepared to trust one who has failed so often, who has swallowed his principles so frequently." At the second referendum on the Commonwealth Bill what did we find ? The whirligig of politics had brought the right honorable member into power, and he at once arranged a Conference with the Premiers of the other Colonies. He immediately began to intrigue again. He had a chance of being, the first Federal Prime Minister, and, therefore, he would allow the majority to rule at this referendum. He did not prescribe any stipulated number to prevent the majority from ruling. But he went further than that. The moment the responsibility of his actions was cast on him what did he do? He at once abandoned his objection to the notorious Braddon " blot " - that terrible burden which he had said was -to be inflicted on the people - that curse in the Constitution - and he did so because he knew that otherwise he could not possibly hold his position.

As a Privy Councillor, he had undoubtedly entered into some bond to see that that provision was included in the Constitution for a purpose appertaining to preferential trade, which will in the future have to be considered. We find him abandoning his objection to that provision. And what do we find him putting as a bait to the electors? It was the right honorable member who first raised the Federal Capital question. The right honorable member for Adelaide has told the House that the question of allocating the Federal Capital, as arranged by the right honorable member for East Sydney at the Conference of Premiers was nothing more nor less than a bribe, conceded by the Victorians, to induce him to take part in the Federal campaign. When we find a man who is prepared to turn round in this manner, how is it likely that people will trust him ? How can the protectionists in this House trust themselves in the company of one who says that, only until the next elections will he agree to cry a truce, and that after the next election's they will have to go to their masters as men who have practically compromised themselves? This is a wonderful position for a statesman of the right honorable member's calibre and pretensions to occupy. But, although he has much to say on these matters, we are fully satisfied that he does not convince many people now-a'-days of his 'sincerity. He told us during his speech last week, that those men who fight behind and support the Government for three years, are entitled to the support of that Government when they go up for election. What a wonderful contradiction we have here ! In the next breath he says to those whom he wishes to coalesce with him, " Although you are entitled to my assistance for supporting me in this Parliament, yet, owing to your having different fiscal opinions from mine, I cannot convey to you that tribute which is your due as my supporters, because, in the fiscal fight, you must take your own side, and look after your own interests." To those who sit behind the Labour Party we say, " If you agree wilh our programme, and can see eye to eye with us, come over and help us to pass that programme into law, and we will not turn our back upon you at the next elections. We are prepared to give every support to you, and you shall have the support of the party to which we belong."

Mr Johnson - The honorable member and his party have not the power to pledge that support. It rests with the labour leagues, and not with the Government.

Mr WEBSTER - I know that the honorable member for Lang understands these things. He has been a labour leaguer himself. He signed the pledge of the Labour Party, and stood for election under its banner not many years ago. He tries to infer that what I have stated is not likely to be carried into effect. But I tell him here and now that that promise has already been secured by our party from those who control the movement elsewhere. We are prepared to say that- our recommendations will be accepted, because they are given with the noblest of purposes, by the conference of delegates of our movement, when they come to decide upon the future policy of the party.

Mr Johnson - How can the honorable member possibly tell what the conference will decide?

Mr WEBSTER - I fancy that I know' quite as much about that subject as the honorable member for Lang does. But, while we promise so much, the leader of the Opposition, and his party, on the other hand, only promise that those who support them will secure immunity from opposition during any by-election that may take place before next January. After that, to the slaughter - to the execution ! That is practically the situation. We are in the position to say that we, as men, will not turn our back on those who help us - not to hold office, for we claim that it was through no seeking on our part that we got into office. It was through no seeking on the part of Ministers. Office was thrust upon us by a combination of honorable members opposite, who have been disappointed in the turn that events have taken, and who never dreamt that our party would take the responsibility of assuming office. But, as they have taken it, oh ! how disgusted are the men who thought that they should have been sent for, and should have been able to engineer the party on the Opposition side of the House so as to dish the Labour Party a second time. We have taken the Treasury bench. We put our platform forward. It is in black and white. There is no mistaking it. We ask all liberalminded men to support it. I am not referring to such as the honorable and learned member for Wannon. He has proclaimed himself a deadly enemy of the Labour Party. We are not asking such as he to come to our support. We are asking the men whom we know are conscientious supporters of the planks of the labour platform which the Prime Minister has put forward in his political programme. They are in harmony with our ideas, and can honestly come over and support them. But what about the honorable members who support the agreement which has been read by the honorable and learned member for Wannon ? What of those honorable members who differ from four or five of the propositions of that programme, and who have categorically condemned them in public, but who, nevertheless, are prepared to marshal themselves in a coalition formed upon the basis of a programme with which half of the honorable members opposite cannot possibly agree? What hypocrisy on the part of those honorable members ! And what of the right honorable member for East Sydney, who himself has practically disavowed his belief in some of the propositions included in the platform of the proposed coalition? I find that during the debate the honorable member for North Sydney also exceeded himself in his denunciation and misrepresentation of the objects of the Labour Party. I did think that from that honorable member we should hear a true, fair, and honorable exposition of the case. I gave that honorable member credit which I could not give to his leader.

Mr Kelly - The honorable member would not give the latter a fair hearing.

Mr WEBSTER - I only interfered when the leader of the Opposition failed to allow others to speak so as to be consecutively heard by the House, and I was perfectly justified -in what I did.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is the only man who thinks so.

Mr WEBSTER - At any rate, I am satisfied to take the responsibility for my action. The honorable member for North Sydney, in regard to the fiscal question, asked, " What are these men complaining about when they talk about our sinking the fiscal question?" But the positions are quite different. Those on the Opposition side were returned as fiscalists, whereas we were returned as labour men. Those of the Opposition were under the banner of free-trade, and they knew that the great question in New South Wales was free-trade first, freetrade second, and free-trade all the time. That was the be-all and end-all of their political creed at the time. And yet those who nailed their colours to the mast, and who, during the campaign, used words of condemnation towards members of the Protectionist Party such as the labour members have never used towards their opponents, now attack the present Government. Those are the men who, as I say, passed along the word of condemnation from platform to platform right throughout New South Wales, in regard to the very men with whom they now seek to coalesce. The honorable member for North Sydney now says, " There is no difference; you sunk the fiscal question, and we are now simply doing the same." But we never made the fiscal question a vital issue. No labour representative ever made that a vital question ; and if the Freetrade Party gave their support to a labour man because he was a free-trader, it was because they knew they could not beat him. It was very often a question of "sour grapes" when the Free-trade Party gave their support to a -labour man, and having given that support, they made a virtue of necessity. If the Free-trade Party sought to tie to their wheel labour candidates who were labelled members of the Free-Trade Party - if protectionists gave support to protectionist labour candidates - that is no business of ours; the support was unsought by the Labour Party. The bulk of the labour candidates sought support on the labour platform, and not on fiscalism ; and for the honorable member for North Sydney to indicate that labour members ran on the same lines as members of the Opposition is, as I interjected, to drag the Labour Party down to a very low level. But no one on the Opposition side can drag the Labour Party down to the level at which the members of the Opposition have been during the last fortnight. The honorable member for North Sydney goes further, and accuses the Labour Party of having dropped the referendum - with having favoured the referendum at first, and advocated it as a plank in our platform in connexion with the settlement of the question of the acceptance of the Commonwealth Constitution, but with having repudiated it when the question of the reduction of the number of members was raised in the Legislature of New South Wales. I deny such a charge in toto. I took particular notice of what the honorable member was saying ; and it is because I consider he was unfair, that I take this opportunity of denying that the Labour Party in New South Wales repudiated the referendum, when it was proposed in connexion with the reduction of members. We supported the referendum, and supported the Government which proposed it, even on the question of the reduction of members, even when we knew that if a reduction were decided upon, our party would suffer very materially. When men make statements and charges of that kind, and resort to such subterfuges, how weak a case they must have. I expected that the honorable member for North Sydney would, at any rate, give a fair statement of the case; but when he follows the example of his chief, and misrepresents and prevaricates, so far as political facts are concerned, I begin to lose hope of every member on that side. The honorable member for North Sydney also said that we had been abandoned by the right honorable member for Adelaide. In that the honorable member was trying to work on the feelingS of the House, although he saw the seat which that right honorable member took when the House met. It must have been gall and wormwood to the Opposition to find the policy of the Government indorsed by.'the right honorable gentleman - to realize that he could see eye to eye with the Labour Party. The seat which the right honorable member took indicated that he was prepared to trust the Labour Party to carry out the programme in reference to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and the Navigation Bill - it was an indication that he preferred the Labour Party to any party on the Opposition side of the House. In this the right honorable member paid a tribute and compliment to the Labour Party. It was,, indeed, a credential to the Labour Party when the right honorable and learned member, who has suffered so much in defence of the principles which He tried to place on the statute-book, indicated by the seat he took that he gave his.practical support to a Ministry who have assumed a responsibility which for many years they were told they were not prepared to bear. That is practically a denial to the statement of the honorable member for North Sydney, who dared to say that the Labour Party had been abandoned by the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide, or that that right honorable member had abandoned his party. Neither is a fact, and I resent such misrepresentation. The Labour Party are prepared, as our platform shows, to practically adopt the proposals of the right honorable member for Adelaide. As to the

States servants and the Arbitration Bill, members of the Opposition know full well that the Labour Party did not make their inclusion a vital question. The Government of the day preferred to make that a vital question ; but that was no fault of ours. The Labour Party were prepared to stand or fall on the inclusion of the railway men ; but we neither proposed to include States servants nor to include railway servants. All we did was to create a blank in the Bill, and on that the late Government were defeated. Are we to be tied down by the will of the leader of the Opposition? Are the Opposition to dictate to us as to what our proposals shall be? Are the Opposition to formulate, not only our intentions, but our professions, and so forth? We are here to stand by what we have indicated and what we are prepared to indorse. We are not prepared to indorse that part of the Arbitration Bill which was made a vital question, not by us, but by the Government of the day.

Mr Kelly - Who moved the amendment ?

Mr WEBSTER - It was made a vital question by the leader of the Opposition, and the conservatives who followed him; and those whom he bade to go the other way went that way, to serve the purpose which they understood better. The honorable member for North Sydney made a statement which was very unfair and very unmanly. He alleged that the Labour Party had practically offered bribes to men on the other side to come over to the Government side - bribes, as he stated, bordering on £1,200 a year. It was not a direct statement, but half a lie, and we know that -

A lie is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies.

When a man says something by inference, which he is not prepared to say directly, he shows the white feather, and does not act up to the standard of a scrupulous man. We have offered no bribe at all. If any bribes are being offered, it is by honorable members opposite that they are being offered. If any arrangements are being come to with respect to office, it is on the other side that they are taking place. Does not the report of an interview with the honorable member for Gippsland, which has appeared in the newspapers, indicate that there has been some communication of this kin/3 between honorable members on the other side, who have been negotiating, and those to be negotiated with? If it does not, I cannot read clearly, nor can I interpret what I read. Then the honorable member used the strangest apology for an argument that I have ever heard made use of by a prominent man in a legislative assembly. Speaking of the policy of a White Australia, the honorable member referred to the fact that the Prime Minister has admitted that he is prepared to amend the Post and Telegraph Act so as to enable the aborigines of Australia to be employed in connexion with the carriage of mails in the Commonwealth. . The honorable member has referred to that as an example of inconsistency, but every one in this community must recognise the great distinction there is between doing justice to the aborigines of Australia, to those who owned this land before we came here, whom we dispossessed, and whom every year we are driving further into the back-blocks of the various States, and the course of action we take with respect to coloured aliens. It is our duty to see that the remnant of the men who formerly held this continent are properly treated, and we should do all we can to make their lot easier and happier than it would be if they were not treated with humanitarian feeling. There- can be no parallel drawn between assistance to the aborigines of Australia and assistance to natives of India, lascars, and men from other parts of the British Empire, to whom as Australians we owe no obligation at all. We have no relationship with those people, other than that which arises from the fact that we are common subjects of the Empire. But we are under obligation to the aborigines of Australia, and I am proud that the Prime Minister has recognised our obligation, and proposes to amend the provision in our law which deprives them of doing that which will help them at least to earn something towards their livelihood, instead of drawing their support entirely from the States, and which will enable them to be more useful to the community in which they live. Personally, I am not afraid of the consequences of this discussion, whichever way it ends. I would rather go down on this side fighting with the flag of Democracy, labour, and progression aloft, than I would follow the other side with a certain tenure of political life for the rest of my days., I would rather be behind this party that puts forward a platform in which its members believe, and which they intend to carry into law, for one year, and do what good I could in the time, than I would sit behind a party submitting a programme in the whole of which half of its members do not believe, and be dragged first to one side and then to the other, to suit the whims and fancies of the varied leaders and intriguers within its ranks. If we are sent into opposition to-morrow, we shall go there with clean hands. The Labour Party, when it leaves these benches, will leave them clean. It can be said, to the credit of the party, that since we have assumed responsibility there has not been one newspaper, or one public man, who has dared to cast reproach on 'the personnel of the Ministry, or of the party. That is a tribute to the party. The right honorable member for East Sydney has himself paid the party the highest tribute. The right honorable gentleman has given us credentials which should carry us throughout Australia. We could not ask for more' than he has given us. He says - " There is another merit that they have, and that is that they have never exposed themselves to attacks on the ground of personal aggrandizement." I wish I could say that for the right honorable gentleman. I wish I could say that he. has never exposed himself to attack on account of his anxiety to secure the emoluments of office. I wish I could say that for many men, who in the public life of all the States of this Commonwealth have from time to time sacrificed principle to secure office. I am proud to say that, on the admission of the right honorable member for East Sydney, the Labour Party have up to the present time never truckled to obtain the flesh-pots of office since they 'have held a position of power in this Legislature. The right honorable gentleman says, further, that members of the party have been uniformly honorable and straightforward. We did not need that testimonial. We have won it for ourselves. It is no compliment that the right honorable member should speak in that way of labour men, because throughout the States, during the existence of the Labour Party, we have won and maintained that record, and never since the party came into existence has there been any stigma cast, by press or politicians, on the honesty, straightforwardness, or integrity of the party. I ask honorable members opposite, before they come to a decision on the. matters before us> to look to the character of the party on this side, and to give us the opportunity which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat promised would be given us, when the

Prime Minister submitted his policy to this House. I wish honorable members to keep the promise of the late Prime Minister, that no obstacle would be placed in the way of the present Government to propound *a policy, and to carry it into effect so far as practicable, having regard to the honorable and learned gentleman's power to give that undertaking. The members of the Labour Party have submitted a programme which they are prepared to carry out, but honorable members opposite are not satisfied with what we have given them for this session and the next. They desire that we should submit our programme for this Parliament, next Parliament, the subsequent Parliament, and the Parliament after that. That is what they ask from the Labour Party. Never so far in the history of Australia has any other party been asked to exhibit a programme except for the current session; but when the Labour Party takes office these honorable gentlemen, who know what political procedure is, ask for something more. Why? Is it not because they can find no fault with what we have put' before them, and they desire that we should submit something which they can lay hold of, something irrational, or something which will shock the public mind? They are not satisfied, because none of our proposals have that tendency. I say that, whether here or in Opposition, we shall be the same Labour Party, fighting all the time for the principles which we have advocated for years. They are not of mushroom growth, they are not the development of the moment, or of hysteria, nor are they the outcome of a selfish desire to secure the fleshpots of office at any sacrifice. We stand by our principles, and we are prepared to fight for them on this or on the other side of the House. Our opponents will have to give heed to the voice of the representatives of the people. They will have to pass that legislation which the people demand. If they do not, when the time comes for the people to again express their opinion, they must go. After the last general election, I fear nothing from an appeal to the people. The education of the masses is proceeding. The electors are awaking. They are beginning to understand stand their political rights; and to learn that they have equal political privileges and powers. They are commencing to appreciate the value of their powers, and, as each year rolls by, the adherents to the cause of progress will increase, while those who stand in the path will, as each election takes place, be swept aside to make way for the march of Democracy and the liberation of the human race.

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