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Wednesday, 25 May 1904

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) - My original in tention was not to make any remarks al this juncture, and I should not have risen to speak on the question before the House had it not been for the animadversions and unwarrantable personal attacks made upon me and my attitude towards the present Government by honorable members sitting on the Ministerial side of the chamber. To make the position clear, it will be necessary for me to review the condition of parties since the last general election. It will be remembered that when this Parlia ment first assembled there were three distinct parties in the House, which differed from the division of parties in the last House, inasmuch as the numerical strength of each was relatively the same, whereas' the numerical strength of the three parties in the first House differed considerably. It at once became obvious that we had either to consent to allow one of these parties to govern under the direct control and coercion of another, which from the point of view of the members of the direct Opposition was incompatible wilh the best interests of the country, or the protectionist Government must be turned out of office. The members of the direct Opposition were pledged to the support of free-trade principles, but their first duty to their constituents was to get rid of the Government. It was realized throughout the electorates which we represent that the continuance of that Government in power would make for all that was most undesirable in connexion with the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth, because, besides . being in an actual minority, it was under the domination and control of the irresponsible third party, which had shaped its policy last Parliament, and was prepared to shape it this Parliament. Under those circumstances, we had responsibility divorced from control - a condition of affairs which could not be allowed to continue. Consequently, when an opportunity to put an end toit arose, several membersof the Opposition joined with the members of the Labour Party in supporting an amendment moved by a member of that party, and that temporary combination was successful in de- 'feating the Deakin Government. That was so much towards the redemption of our pledges to our constituents. But a new situation arose. When the then Government were defeated, the leader of the Labour Party was sent -for by the GovernorGeneral, and asked to form a Ministry. While, in my opinion, the action of the GovernorGeneral was perfectly right and constitutional, the honorable gentleman sent for, andi those associated with him, would have stood much higher in the estimation of the people of the Commonwealth if, before absolutely accepting that invitation, they had ascertained whether there was a possibility of obtaining a reasonable working majority to support their policy. Had they done so, they would have .got rid of the suspicion which must now inevitably attach to them of having accepted -office with the slenderest hopes of success in retaining it. I do not say that before the defeat of the late Government they were anxious for "office; personally, I believe they were not; but their conduct will always be tainted with that suspicion in .the public mind. They would have stood in a very much better light with the whole of the country had they shown their disinterestedness in the matter of the emoluments of office, and, if when they found they could not secure a working majority to start with, they had returned His Excellency's commission, and recommended him to send for some one else, or suggested some other course which they thought prudent.

Mr Hutchison - They have not discovered that course vet.

Mr JOHNSON - I do npt see how they could possibly have expected to discover it without looking for it. When the Government met the House what did they find? They found twenty-three or twenty-four honorable members on the Government benches, and a phalanx of forty-six arrayed against them.

Mr Spence - It was not a solid " phalanx."

Mr JOHNSON - It was not solid at the time, but that was the disposition of parties which met the Government on their first appearance. That fact alone should have convinced them they had made a mistake; but we know what they have been constantly doing since then. By all sorts of artful contrivances they have been attempting to get honorable members on this side to forego their allegiance to their respective leaders, offering bribes of the worst possible description - bribes of non-opposition at the next general election - promises which the Government have not the power to redeem even if accepted. By such means they have tried to get a working majority ; but, up to the present moment at any rate, they have not succeeded. I opposed the late Government because I knew that while they were in office, and so long as they could get the support of the Labour Party, there was no possibility of pulling down any part of the Tariff wall. I had no hesitation in assisting the Labour Party to oust the late Government. But I am perfectly free to admit that the Labour Party had no desire at that time to turn the Government out. The Labour Party, unfortunately for themselves, fell into a trap. When the esteemed leader of the party to which 1 have the honour to belong announced his intention to support the late Government in the crisis, it was thought bv most of the Labour Party that that promise involved not only his individual support, but also the support of the whole of the members of his party Obviously that was the idea in the minds of the present occupants of the Treasury benches ; but when it was too late to make a retreat, the Labour Party discovered that they had made a mistake. They wanted to pose before the country as the great champions of the principle, as they put it, of including State and Commonwealth servants within the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. They expressed their determination to press the question to a division, notwithstanding the fact that the Government which they were anxious to keep in power had declared that they would make it a vital question. They never thought that the amendment would be carried - they did not want it to be successful. We had members of the Labour Party hurling accusations of the most violent kind at those members of the Opposition who had the temerity to support their own amendment. That is where the insincerity of the Labour Party was evident, clear and unmistakable. I must . confess that, up to that time, no matter how much I disagreed with the platform and methods of the Labour Party, I had, at any rate, given them credit for sincerity.

Sir William Lyne - What did the honorable member do?

Mr JOHNSON - I did not do as the honorable member did, and I hope I never shall be found emulating his political career.

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member would not follow as true a course as myself. '

Mr JOHNSON - Surely the honorable member does not understand what he is talking about when he speaks of a "true course."

Sir William Lyne - I . do not think that the honorable member does.

Mr JOHNSON - I say that we have evidence of the insincerity of the Labour Party, when they held out threats of what would happen in the future to those members of the Opposition who supported their amendment. The Labour Party wanted to pose as martyrs before the labour world, but were unable to do so ; and when it was too late, they found that they had to go to a division. They could not withdraw the amendment and save the Government, and, therefore, the Government went down. Where do we find this great principle of including the public servants within the Arbitration Bill put before us at the present time ? That principle is eliminated - the principle which they made a vital question, and for which they went to the extreme of wrecking a

Government, is now thrown to the wind. We find no trace of the proposal in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill before us, and this I say is a convincing proof of the insincerity of the Labour Party. It is true that the amendment, on which the late Government was defeated, was not put forward by the leader of the Labour Party, but by one of the rank and file. It must be remembered, however, that the amendment had the sanction of the leader of the party, who voted for it, and therefore became responsible;- a fact which was recognised in the action of His Excellency the Governor-General in sending for him to form a new Ministry. Now, why do I oppose the present Government ? The most serious objection I had to the last Government was a fiscal objection - the fact that it was a protectionist Government - I now find myself confronted by a Government largely dominated by protectionists, which, indeed, has more protectionists than freetraders amongst its supporters, and which, in addition to its protectionist tendencies and proclivities, has the taint of avowed Socialism. All my life I have been one of the strongest and most uncompromising opponents of Socialism. That is not from any personal feeling against those who advocate Socialism ; on the contrary, I am free to admit that those who advocate Socialism are, in my belief, actuated by the most worthy and humane motives. But, in my opinion, Socialism is absolutely wrong, and would lead to greater troubles than those which it seeks to remedy - to conditions which, ultimately, would prove more intolerable than any of which we have yet had experience.

Mr Spence - What doe's the honorable member mean by " Socialism " ?

Mr JOHNSON - It is for supporters of the Government to define the meaning. The great trouble about Socialists, I find, is that they can never be pinned down to any one definition. There are as many definitions of -Socialism - unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be - as there are Socialists, so that what stands for Socialism with one does not stand for Socialism with another. There is the one common ground of agreement amongst them, to attack capital, which, to them, is a great bugbear. Capital must be nationalized. Outside of that agree- ' ment, however, their definitions are as' numerous as are the followers of the principles of Socialism, if there are any principles involved.

Mr Spence - The honorable member is opposing a bogy - a myth.

Mr JOHNSON - Then the honorable member opposite must be supporting a myth. The fact remains that the Government have declared their intention to bring in socialistic measures, -which, as they have given us to understand, comprise the nationalization of various branches of industry, and, ultimately, I suppose, the nationalization of all branches of industry and of capital, property, and everything else. If we are to pay any regard to the resolutions passed at the May Day demonstrations, which have been indorsed by the present Prime Minister as the basis of the proposals of the Labour Party, we must assume that all capitalists are enemies of the country, and are not to be countenanced under any circumstances. Personally, I do not take any exception to capitalists. As a matter of fact, I would rather see them encouraged to engage in all sorts of enterprises, and to expend their capital in developing the natural resources of the country under perfectly free conditions. I should not be in favour of granting special privileges to any particular individuals, but would make all start from the same level. At the same time, there' should be no interference with the investment of capital in legitimate enterprises. Where our friends, who term themselves Socialists, are wrong, in my view, is in attributing the existing social conditions, which admittedly are not by any means what it is desirable they should be, to the evil influences exerted by capitalists. I think that in that regard they have made an initial mistake, upon which they have proceeded to build up their policy.

Mr Spence - Who said anything of the kind ?

Mr JOHNSON - I am judging by the utterances of honorable members opposite. If those are not to guide us, where else can we look?

Mr Spence - Would the honorable member quote some of the utterances to which he refers ?

Mr JOHNSON - If the honorable member desires me to traverse the whole of the speeches delivered by members of his party, I am perfectly willing to do so; but ' I do not think that any such course is necessary. I desire to explain why I am to be found on the Opposition benches. In my speech on the Address-in - Reply, I remarked, in view of the state of parties, that it was obvious that it would be necessary before long to take some steps to divide honorable members into two sections, so that we might have a distinct line of demarcation between honorable members on the Treasury benches and those who were opposed to them. Yet, I was attacked by the Minister of External Affairs and. by the honorable member for Gwydir in a most unfair manner, because it. was alleged that I had sunk my principles. I had not sunk my principles any more than those honorable members have sunk theirs by associating with those who differ from them on the Government benches.

Mr Brown - They are only judging the honorable member by the company he keeps.

Mr JOHNSON - The company I keep may not be congenial in all respects, but I prefer it to that in which I should find myself were I sitting on the Government benches. Although I cannot get all I want from those honorable members with whom I am at present associated, it is morally certain, that I should have no possible chance of getting anything from those who are on the Government benches. That is one of the reasons I. am in opposition at the present time. I find myself in association temporarily with those who are opposed to me on the fiscal question, but I did not seek the alliance. Those who hold views opposite to mine came over to my side of the House, and, therefore, if honorable members opposite have any quarrel, it must be with my fiscal opponents, and not wit-h-me. I still occupy the seat which I have filled since I have been in this Parliament.

Mr Mauger - Surely it is not a matterof seats.

Mr JOHNSON - No ; but I am pointing out that I am still in opposition. I have not changed my views. I am not only confronted with a solid phalanx of protectionists, but also with a compact array of Socialists, to whose policy I am opposed. I am in the unfortunate position of holding certain views, which are shared bv an insufficient number of members to enable us to .form a distinct party, and to take pos-' session of the 'Treasury benches. Consequently I have thrown in my lot with the party which, while it comprises members who go no part of the way with me, contains, others who are prepared to go some part of the way, and still others who ga the whole way. Therefore, I am in congenial company to that extent ; whereas I should have no congenial society were I sitting opposite. When the Minister of External Affairs charged me with sacrificing my principles, he forgot that he was in exactly the same position as myself. I never charged him with sacrificing his freetrade principles, nor do I take that attitude now. The honorable and learned member, however, finds himself in alliance with those who hold opposite fiscal views, and I should have far more reason and logic on my side were I to charge him with having deserted his principles, because the alliance into which he has entered is voluntary and permanent, whereas'the situation in which I find myself is the result of political accident, . not of preme.ditated design. It has been practically forced upon me by the exigencies of the political situation, over which I had no control.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have all sunk a certain amount of principle, and it would be better for the nation if we could sink more.

Mr Spence - I thought honorable members opposite were all free men.

Mr JOHNSON - So we are; but we have found certain points upon which we can alt agree, and have made those a common' bond of union. That was a matter of free-will and conscience. That is where our position differs from that of honorable members opposite. A good deal of reference has been made to a supposed coalition. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing in existence yet.

Mr Mauger - That is not the honorable member's fault.

Mr JOHNSON - No; nor have I sought it either ; the fault lies - that is presuming it is a fault - with the Victorian representatives who first talked about a coalition. Honorable members opposite appear to have assumed that a coalition was accomplished, and they also apparently labour under the impression that certain other things, which have no existence in fact, have been brought about. They erred in assuming that we have given certain pledges, and, therefore, a great deal of their argument has been destitute of any real basis. So far as the members of our party are concerned, they have not given any vote with regard to the proposed coalition. Certainly a coalition was proposed, but it was proposed in the full light of day, and its terms have been made known to the whole world. Furthermore, the conditions of the compact did not call upon honorable members to sacrifice any of their principles, but simply to recognise the obvious fact that a fiscal truce - which is a very different thing from a fiscal sacrifice - was forced upon us by the general verdict of the majority of electors, which rendered abortive for this

Parliament the free-trade victory of New South Wales. Might I ask the Minister of External Affairs, who accused me of sacrificing my principles as a free-trader, what he could do if the esteemed leader of the Free-trade Party were to table a free-trade motion to-morrow? Could the free-trade membar for West Sydney support that motion? Is he free to do so? We know perfectly well that in his Ministerial position he could not vote in favour of it. Consequently, if there be any force in the accusation regarding a sacrifice of principle; it tells with crushing force against the Minister of External Affairs, but does not touch me in the slightest degree.

Mr Fisher - Did not the . honorable member's leader say. that he could answer for every one of his party?

Mr JOHNSON - He may have said that he could answer for the fidelity of his party respecting terms agreed to by themselves. But he could not, nor did he, claim any power to pledge his party to any terms which they might disapprove of. They are all free agents.

Mr Fisher - As regards the coalition project, the honorable member's leader was able to pledge his whole partv?

Mr JOHNSON - No. Not without their free consent.

Mr Cameron - He could not pledge me.

Mr JOHNSON - The only pledges which they are called upon to fulfil are those which are made to their constituents. It is not for their party to deal with any vote which is cast by them - that is a matter between themselves and their constituents. No attempt is made to interpose any obstacle between them and the electors whom they represent. During the course of his remarks yesterday, the Minister of External Affairs quoted from a letter which I wrote to the Sydney Daily Telegraph some time ago. He made a good deal of spurious political capital out of that communication. In it, I dwelt upon the fact that, unfortunately, we were not able at the present time to touch the Tariff question, a fact which seemed to afford grounds of jubilation to some men who erstwhile were trusted as free-trade champions, notwithstanding that a permanent coalition might mean the retention of existing burdens on the people. They were, apparently, ready to accept a coalition at any price. I was never prepared to accept a coalition at any price, nor have the members of our party been asked to do so. The terms of the coalition proposed, extended only to the life of the present Parliament. The fiscal issue was to be suspended merely for that period. We are not responsible for the present position of affairs. Our efforts to re-open the Tariff have been rendered impotent by the votes of the electors of the Commonwealth. They have made it impossible for us to successfully attack that question during the currency of this Parliament. We are thus compelled - whether we like it or not - to allow that matter to rest, except so far as it may be raised by individual members upon any particular motion in which the Tariff may be involved. When such occasions arise, the private members of the party to which I belong are at perfect liberty to vote as they please. Although the Minister of External Affairs careful lv quoted one of my letters, he studiously abstained from reading subsequent communications, which made my position absolutely clear. It is quite possible that he may not have seen these, but, in order that he may be unable to urge that excuse in the future, I propose to read one or two extract? from them. A couple of days after the publication of my previous letter, in replying to the editorial footnote which was quoted by the Minister, I said, amongst other things -

I admit that a combination of circumstances lias led to a situation in the arena of Federal politics wholly unexpected, and undreamt of during the recent election campaign. I admit that a tripartite parliamentary system is not conducive to sound principles of government, because it enables even a small independent minority to control by coercion the policy of an unstable Ministry. I admit that the maintenance of representative government demands the abolition of the intolerable tripartite system, and that this can only be accomplished by a coalition of some kind between two of the three existing parties against the third.

Whilst I recognised that, I certainly did not view the prospects of such a coalition with unqualified delight. The expression of delight at the promise of a coalition,the basis of which was then unknown, applied chiefly to the report of an interview upon the subject with Sir William McMillan, who, in reply to an inquiry bv a press interviewer, said, "All that can be said is that we are all. delighted." I saw no reason for joy, but rather for profound regret, that the adverse vote of the Commonwealth had rendered some alliance necessary. That has been the position which I have consistently adopted, and it was the position which I occupied when I spoke on the AddressinReply. But my attitude in this connexion is made still clearer by a further letter from me, in reply to another by Mr. Hammond, lt was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, and reads thus: -

It is true that a minority must not be permitted to occupy the Treasury benches, irrespective of party. It is an outrage upon the Constitution, upon representative government, upon the democratic principle of majority rule, and any honorable means of putting an end' to minority rule by a temporary alliance, not involving as a basic . condition the surrender of vital principles, will be hailed by the majority of people, I venture to believe, with satisfaction. But there is danger that hysterical clamour may encourage an alliance which will ultimately lead to disaster, or at any rate to a perpetuation of" evils which it will take a generation to remedy. Unfortunately, the grand free-trade victory of this State was rendered abortive by the preponderance of labourites and protectionists returned in the other States - a fact which renders it impossible for the party to successfully attack the Tariff in the present Parliament.

I think that letter renders my position absolutely clear. I do. not see how, by any possible distortion of facts, the attitude which I have taken up can be said to involve any sacrifice of principle. During the course of his speech yesterday, the Minister of External Affairs remarked, " Times change, and we change with them." The truth of that observation is exemplified by the change which has taken place in the Ministerial policy as compared with that which the Labour Party vigorously advocated when they had not responsibility linked with control, but exercised control without responsibility. We find that with the exception of a mutilated Conciliation and Arbitration Bill .all those great measures which they deemed so imperatively necessary when they were occupying the cross benches are now relegated to the background. Instead of proposing to pass legislation which they were so eager to force the late Government to enact, they have put forward a perfectly harmless, inoffensive programme, which one is forced to conclude must have been obtained as the result of some one eavesdropping at the door of the leader of the Opposition's room.

Mr O'Malley - All our proposals have been on our platform for the last ten years

Mr JOHNSON - If that be so they must have been well concealed. It is a remarkable coincidence that in many respects the programme put forward bv the Government is practically the same as that which the leaders of the other parties in the

House have proposed as the basis of the projected coalition.

Mr O'malley - They must have taken their programme from the Labour Party.

Mr JOHNSON - I do not know whether they did so or whether the Labour Party obtained their" programme from our leaders.

Mr O'malley - We do not object to honorable members opposite supporting such a programme.

Mr JOHNSON - Just so; but they can support it with greater effect when coming from a Ministry of their own. The Government programme for this session is such a milk and water one, as compared with the strong measures which' they held to be imperatively necessary when they occupied the cross benches, that no one could take exception to it. If the programme which the Labour Party put forward before they went into office was considered to be necessary at that time, should it not be equally imperative now ? If it were necessary to place certain proposals in the very forefront of their programme then, should it not be even more urgently necessary to do so now that the party are in office? A contemplation of these facts shows how true are the words of the Minister of External Affairs that " Times change, and we change with them." The honorable and learned gentleman intended that the remark should apply, not to the present Government, but to honorable members of the Opposition, and I think I have shown, with sufficient clearness, that its truth is more fully exemplified by the attitude of the present Ministry than by the position taken up. by the Opposition. Another exemplification of its truth is also to be found. " Times change, and we change with them," should be the motto at the head of every labour manifesto, because the Labour Party's programmes have, from first to last, shown how great has been the change which their opinions have undergone. The party have changed from a desire, in the first instance, for freedom to a wish to give effect to principles which are the worst form of toryism. By a gradual process of evolution they have lost the grand ideals which they originally professed, and have come down to the level of men of semi-barbarous times. They now seek to bring into operation legislation very similar to that against which their forefathers fought for generations. I do not say that they have designedly made this choice. Their action has been due to ignorance of true economic laws. They have "lost sight of the grand ideals of freedom that lie at the root of a nation's prosperity and progress. And what is true of the nation is true of the individual. A nation is after all only a collection of individuals. " Freedom " should be the watchword of every community claim- ing to have any true regard for democratic principles, for restriction makes for all that is bad in what we know as toryism. In this connexion I shall quote another remark made by the Minister of External Affairs when dealing with the fact that even so great a Tory as the late Sir John Mclntyre had actually advocated something in the direction of Socialism. That Sir John Mclntyre should have done anything of the kind appeared to the honorable and learned gentleman to be little short of marvellous; but there is nothing marvellous about it. Protection and toryism have always been inseparable, and Socialism, which is the twin sister of protection, falls naturally into line as a measure of toryism. All socialistic principles, so far as they have been elucidated, within my knowledge, tend towards what is known iri the old country as Toryism.

Mr Mauger - The Social Democrats in Germany belong to the Free-trade Party.

Mr JOHNSON - That may be so, because their principles are more in a line with what is known as the Single Tax, than Socialism as understood here ; but there are Tories in the Free-trade Party as well as in other bodies.

Mr Mauger - But the honorable member said that protection and Socialism were synonymous.

Mr JOHNSON - They are in the sense that both are based upon the restriction of individual rights. Restriction is the underlying basis of both principles, and in that respect they certainly have an affinity. Democracy, on the other hand, makes not for restriction, but for increased freedom.

Mr Tudor - Would the honorable member burn the statute-book? .

Mr JOHNSON - If one session of Parliament could be devoted to the work of destroying many of the laws which have been passed a distinct gain would accrue to the community.

Mr Tudor - The honorable member is an Anarchist.

Mr JOHNSON - That is not so; my training and my natural desire is that no injury should be Bone to any individual.

We should all enjoy equal freedom, and my training and natural inclination in that respect should satisfy honorable members that I would never support any attempt to encroach upon- another man's equal liberty. Every one is not built the same way, and some honorable members opposite might require the presence of a policeman to induce them to observe the law. I do not think, however, that they would. My objection to them is not a personal one, and, as a matter of fact, between many of the members of the Labour Party and myself there is a friendship of long standing.

Mr Mauger - They are not a bad lot.

Mr JOHNSON - Certainly not. I have always given them credit for a desire to observe the most humane principles; but I think that they are not going the right way to give effect to those principles.

Mr Tudor - Was not the honorable member at one time a pledged labour candidate ?

Mr JOHNSON - I am coming to that point. I referred a few minutes ago to the remark made by the Minister of External Affairs, that " Times change, and we change with them." I demonstrated the fact that it applies with peculiar force to the members of the present Government. I wish now to show that these words apply with even greater force to the whole labour movement, from its. inception to the present time. I have to thank the honorable member opposite for reminding me of this. I was on two occasions made the subject of a violent attack by the honorable member for Gwydir on this point, and on my previous connexion with the Labour Party. Of all men with whom I am personally acquainted, he is the last who should speak of the sacrifice of principle, or . throw stones at another. I would remind him of the advice which he gave me when speaking during the debate on the Address-in-Reply on Mr. Chamberlain's preferential trade proposals, that " those who live in glass houses should not throw stones." He did not recognise that the house in which I am living is a stone house, while he lives in the glass house. No man in the political arena of Australia has had a more chequered or varied career' than he has had. When I made his acquaintance, twelve or thirteen years ago, he was a rabid and uncompromising free-trader. When I next knew him, he did not know whether he was a freetrader or a protectionist, and was inclined to both faiths, sitting on a rail as a "fairtrader."

Mr Thomas - He was sinking the fiscal issue then.

Mr JOHNSON - That was at a time when the fiscal issue was a burning question in New South Wales politics. But as a number of free-traders thought that protection was coming, they hastened to change their coats accordingly, and among the first to do this was the honorable member for Gwydir. I lost sight of him for some years, and I then found him to be a member of the Labour Party, and a strong Socialist, though previously he had been inclined to single-tax principles, which, are the antithesis of Socialism. Then he ran as a protectionist labour candidate for the electorate of Canterbury, in opposition to Messrs. Bavister and Daniehy, the selected candidates of the party. He is scarcely the man who should speak about fidelity to principle, and prate of consistency. The only thing in which he has been consistent is his inconsistency.

Mr O'malley - But he is regenerated now.

Mr JOHNSON - Degenerated would more correctly describe his position. He has done nothing but degenerate, politically, ever since I first met him, and that statement is abundantly proved by the fact that he now sits behind this Ministry. After the Canterbury election I lost sight of him again, and then he turned up in the electorate in which I live, and is at present a constituent of mine. He was elected an alderman of the municipality of Marrickville, which is in the Lang electorate, and the electors there had ample opportunities to become acquainted with him and with his opinions. As an alderman he rendered good service to the municipality, and one would think that, having served with distinction in that honorable post, the electors of the State electorate of Marrickville would have been ready to choose him as their representative in the State Parliament. His conflicting variety of political opinions, however, had earned him the popular title of the "political chameleon," and he secured the magnificent total of only eleven votes.

Mr Thomas -How many votes did the honorable member get when he first stood for election to Parliament?

Mr JOHNSON - Nearly 700; and when next I stood, although I withdrew before the poll was held, roughly speaking, about 300 votes were . cast ' for me.

The honorable member for Gwydir disappeared from the Marrickville electorate, and when next I heard of him he had bobbed up into the political arena from a back blocks constituency, having succeeded in getting elected to the State Parliament by a constituency to whom his previous political history was unknown. Now he has succeeded in getting into this Parliament. I mention these facts without having anv personal feeling against him, and merely to illustrate the aptness of his remark that "people living in glass houses should not throw stones." He should not have forgotten that I am acquainted with his political history, and would, therefore, have been wise to refrain from the unjustifiable attack upon me which has made these statements necessary. He referred to my connexion with the Labour Party, of which more anon. I have not yet fully dealt with the point I at present wish to emphasize. I desire to show how the trite saying of the Minister for External Affairs applies to the rise, progress, and possible fall of the Labour Party. I have here the first manifesto issued by that party. when they adopted the fighting platform.

Mr Tudor - For what State?

Mr JOHNSON - For the State of New South Wales. I shall trace their history from that time until now. No one knows more about the history of the party in its early days - in the days when it made for freedom - than I do. The first proposal 10 form a Labour Party emanated from under my roof, and I may claim, in a sense, to be the actual father of the party.

Mr Mauger - The honorable member looks too young !

Mr JOHNSON - I admit that I arn not very patriarchial in appearance. I did not expect my progeny to turn out the utter and ghastly failure which politically they are, though, personally they do not reflect discredit on their political parentage.

Mr Fisher - What is the date of the manifesto from which the honorable member is about to quote?

Mr JOHNSON - 1893. The Labour Party was formed in 1891, but in 1893 its members decided to get rid of the large platform on which they had been previously working, and, at a conference, adopted a fighting platform on which to contest the approaching elections under a new Electoral Act. On this platform land value taxation stood first. Then came the following planks : - " Mining on private property," "Abolition of the Upper House.." " Local government on a democratic basis," "National banking," and the "Legislative limitation of the working day to eight hours."

Mr Spence - They carried land value taxation.

Mr JOHNSON - I cannot recognise that they did. I was ready to accept that platform in its entirety. At that time I was about to contest the Rylstone seat, which, so far as one can calculate in these matters, was an absolute certainty for me, and has ever since been held by a free-trader, and a worthy friend of mine, Mr. J. C. L. Fitzpatrick. I elected, however, to fight for the platform of the Labour Party, because it was more free-trade than was that of the Free-trade Party. Not only did its acceptanca involve no sacrifice of principle on my part, but it enabled me to follow further that line of policy which I have always supported ; and it has been always my plan to attach myself to the party which is going furthest in the direction in which I wish to proceed. The reason given in the manifesto of the Labour Party for making land value taxation the first plank of their platform was this :

Whereas, in the opinion of this Conference, the destruction of land monopoly is the first step in obtaining economic reform, the first plank in the fighting platform should be land value taxation, according to plank 13 of the labour platform.

So important did the members of the conference regard land value taxation, that they removed it from its position as thirteenth plank to the first place, because they considered it necessary to obtain that reform, in order to bring about any improvement in the condition of labour. But thev have not yet got land value taxation, nor have they attempted to get it in its entirety.

Mr Thomas - The leader of the Opposition has said that we have got it.

Mr JOHNSON - I shall come to that.

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