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Wednesday, 25 May 1904


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am speaking of a long time before the honorable member showed his face in this State ; I am familiar with the principles that it advocated thirty years ago. On the recent date named it went on to say -

We have seen the position often enough in history, where an aggressive aristocracy diverted national attention from trouble at home by promoting war abroad ; but it is exceedingly instructive to see a Labour minority carrying outthe same unpatriotic policy in another department of political activity.


Mr O'Malley - It is well written.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is a fair sample of good English, but the principles which it condemns are revolutionary. I turn now from newspapers and labour leaders to a level-headed writer who has always been the friend and well-wisher of the working classes. I refer to John Stuart

Mill, from whose well-known' book, Representative Government, I propose to quote the following passage in the chapter on " Infirmities and Dangers of Class Legislation" : -

One of the greatest dangers of democracy, as of all other forms of government, lies in the sinister interests of the holders of power; it is the danger of class legislation : of Government intended for (whether really effecting it or not) the immediate benefit of the dominant class to the lasting detriment of the whole. And one of the most important questions demanding consideration in determining the best constitution of a representative Government is how to provide efficacious securities against this evil.

And then, in another chapter on True and False Democracy - Representation of all and of the majority only - he wrote -

The pure idea of democracy, according to its definition, is the government of the whole people by the whole people equally represented. Democracy, as commonly conceived and hitherto practised, is the government of the whole people by a mere majority exclusively represented.

He was assuming that there was a majority, which is not the case in this instance.

The former* is synonymous with the equality of all citizens. The latter, strongly confounded with it, is a government of privilege.

I have always contended that class legislation is simply the building up on democratic lines of the very evils of which it took the British people centuries to rid themselves. If true liberty is represented in diagram by a free swing of the pendulum, I would point out that the Labour Party are not satisfied that the pendulum should be free, but are pushing it up on the one side and creating privileges for their own class, which is nothing more nor less than democratic toryism. What are the prospects ? I am not appealing to honorable members opposite, although I face them, but to the members of my party, who, I think, should, without hesitation, move the Government from office, in the best spirit and with the best feeling, crediting them with all sincerity, but debiting them with principles which, in my opinion, would undermine the existing state of society. I now ask what are the prospects ? We have, as the Age says, not merely the nationalization of the tobacco industry in contemplation, but the nationalization of the industries of the country, with the ultimate view of changing the whole character of the community, and making it 'a Socialist, and, practically, a communist- one. Some people draw a kind of academic distinction between communism and Socialism. I do not recognise any. It is a matter of degree.

Men may refer to the running of the railways, or the carrying out of postal arrangements by the State as a step in that direction. So it is. But when we have nationalized all the industries of the country, and practically enabled the Government to manage the whole of the affairs of the community, we shall have arrived at a state of communism, which is merely the theory that property is common to the people.


Mr Spence - State co-operation.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is another name with which honorable members opposite are deceiving themselves. Can the honorable member tell me of any law which compels a man to belong to any one of the great cooperative schemes which at present exist in Great Britain? What is proposed by the Labour Party is not voluntary Socialism, communism, or co-operation. They wish to force the . people of this country to adopt their views. If they did, it would be like the lion and the lamb lying down, with one inside the other. We have an attempt on the part of the Labour Party to make every man, woman, and child, whether they wish it or not, a member of a great national co-operation.


Mr Mahon - There is a very good model to work upon.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not know to which model the honorable member refers. I frequently hear people say that the Author of the Christian religion was a Socialist. My answer is that he was a voluntary Socialist, and that he never advocated the policy of the State coming in and forcing the people to do certain things. The Labour Party require to distinguish between voluntarily entering into any compact of this kind, and the use of compulsion. If there is, for example, a community of "twenty persons, there can be no objection to eighteen of them, if they like, entering into a compact to carry on their social and family affairs, according to some common agreement; but, in that case, the other two members of the community would be free. Their liberty would be preserved ; and not one of the eighteen would be unwillingly included in the co-operative system, or compelled to join it against his native sense of individualism and independence. To advocate a condition of things, which is tobe realized by converting a country like this, or any other civilized community into an enforced compact, is to propose to go back on history, and on the struggle for liberty which has taken place from the earliest times in . English history to the pre- . sent day. I wish honorable members of my own party to recognise what the prospect is. I desire them to see how absolutely insignificant all smaller personal and' party feelings which may be animating some of -them really are, when compared with the taking of this great and broad step in the interests of the Australian people. We have immediately in front of us a proposal to nationalize the tobacco industry, and to establish a State bank. Mr. Bromley, the leader of the Labour Party in the Victorian State Parliament, would, first proceed to nationalize the shipping industry ; land control, in his opinion, should come next, and then State coal mines.


Mr Watson - What did Mr. Robert Reid advocate?


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not answerable for the views he advocated. If he had been a Socialist, I should have condemned him in the same terms. There is an old adage, de mortuis nil nisi bonum, and one does not care to speak of those who havepassed away. I can only say that the late Mr. Robert Reid was never regarded by me, or by any political body in the country, as an authority on political economy.


Mr O'Malley - He was an able man.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He was a good business man, who brought his practical knowledge of a big business undertaking to bear on political affairs. But, as compared with John Stuart Mill or Herbert Spencer,' so far as the understanding of the principles of legislation is concerned, he was but as " an infant crying in the night." I hope that no honorable member will quote him to me, because I do not recognise him as an authority.


Mr Spence - He did not belong to our class.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We' must look abroad pretty widely to see what is likely to be the effect upon this community of 4,000,000 people of the realization of these hare-brained schemes. Do honorable members think that those who have money invested in this country will regard indifferently a policy of this sort? Do they suppose that money- which they must admit is an indispensable element of all progress - will flow into the country, or that that now here will stay if its owners, have an opportunity to take it away? The members of the Labour Party are much in the position of the man who killed the goose which laid the golden eggs. It is one of the demerits of the present Government, and of the Labour Party, that not one of them has occupied a responsible position in any business concern in this country.


Mr Watson - Who says that?


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not speaking of mere positions in a business house, but of positions carrying with them a big weight of responsibility.


Mr O'Malley - Before I came to Australia I managed a business in the United States where I had 150 men under me. That is more than the honorable and learned member ever controlled.


Mr Hutchison - - I left my business to come here and fight the honorable and learned member.


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not wish to underrate the business experience of the honorable member for Darwin.


Mr O'Malley - The honorable and learned member thinks that he owns the earth.







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