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Wednesday, 13 July 1904

Mr EWING (Richmond) - In listening to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and in contemplating the notes which I made with extreme care whilst he was speaking, I discovered why, in the course of the tariff debate, a large number of honorable members of the Opposition were, under the impression that there was really no necessity for the death of Ananias some hundreds of years ago. I find, from my notes, that the honorable member has had considerable experience in farming on St. Kilda beach, and also in the vicinity of the Port Melbourne pier. It would appear from his statements that, since legislation of this class has come into force in New Zealand, a great increase has taken place in the local output of milk and butter. Under the influence of this class of legislation, milking cows have gone up to the four-six test, and have given 24 gallons of milk a day. If honorable members believed that such would be the result of the passing of legislation Of this description, I am sure they all would advocate it. I understand that, in New Zealand, lambing, according to the honorable member's statistics, has also increased 300 per cent., and that the lambs, as the result of the passing of legislation of this description, now walk straight into the freezing chambers. Another magnificent result of legislation ! We shall not need to work in future. A little more legislation such as we are getting from the present Government, supported by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, will enable us to cease from toiling and perspiring in this vale of tears. Before Arbitration and Conciliation was provided for by the New Zealand Parliament, the hens of that Colony used to cackle, but did not lay. Since that legislation was passed, however, according to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, vast "numbers of eggs are produced, and the triumphant song of the fowl is heard all' over the land. Another result of this class of legislation. Then I understand that he thinks that Coghlan is wrong in saying that the area under cultivation in New Zealand is somewhat over 1,000,000 acres, and that he himself puts it at 10,000,000 acres.


Mr EWING - A few million acres is immaterial to the honorable member. On one occasion, when Mark Twain was present, some one said that he had seen a shark 100 -feet long. Mark Twain replied, " There are ten of us in the room, and we can each believe ten feet of it." There are about twenty-five of us now in the Chamber, and no doubt if we each believe about one twenty-fifth part of the statements of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, we shall do very well. The honorable member for Echuca informs me that the area of land under cultivation in New Zealand, according to Coghlan, is about 1,603,000 acres. In view of those figures there is no necessity to make any further serious reference to the statements of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, to whom, perhaps, I have devoted a little more time than was expedient. Before passing on to the speeches of those consistent and enthusiastic democrats who have regaled us with various reasons for the abandonment of their principles, I wish to draw attention to the attitude of the Prime Minister on this matter. He has based his justification of the clauses upon the fact that other countries reserve their coastal trade for their own vessels. If he introduced a Bill specifically prohibiting the trading of oversea vessels in Australian waters he would have no hope of carrying it, and therefore I ask him whether he is endeavouring to do by a side wind what he' knows he could not do openly. To quote from the report of a select committee of the British House of Commons upon the effect of subsidies upon British trade -

The United States extend the doctrine, so as to declare a voyage from New York, round Cape Horn to San Francisco, or from San Francisco to Honolulu, to be a " coasting voyage," and, as such, they restrict it to vessels carrying the United States flag. Similarly, France refuses to allow any but French vessels to trade between

French ports and Algeria; and Russia, in reserving its coasting trade to its own flag, includes in this restriction the navigation between Russian ports in the Baltic and the Black Sea, and between all Russian ports and Vladivostock in the far east of Siberia.

France, Spain, and Portugal have adopted similar measures. I should like to know if the Government have that end in view in proposing these clauses. I shall not deal with the maunderings of Senator Guthrie in regard to the matter ; but the Government should make it clear whether it is their desire to exclude from the coast of Australia the shipping of all other parts of the civilized world, British vessels included. I make no assertion in regard to their intentions, but it would be worth while for the Government to explain them to the Committee. The second point made by the Prime Minister was that there should be uniformity of conditions, and fair treatment for all engaged in the coastal trade. But we must remember that we can do very little to control the vessels which come to Australia from other countries. One main. factor in the competition between the various lines of steam-ships which trade upon our coasts is the subsidies which are paid to them. The steam-ships of the North German Lloyd Company receive a subsidy for their East Asian and Australian service, which has been calculated at 5"o5 marks, or about 5s. a mile; but for their Australian service alone they are paid 6s. 8d. per mile. The steamers of the Messageries Maritimes receive a subsidy of 8s. 4d. a mile, while the vessels of the P. and O. Company receive £85,000 per annum for their Australian service, or 2s. 7d. a mile.

Mr Mahon - Where does the honorable member get those figures ?

Mr EWING - From a report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons.

Mr Mahon - I think there is later information available.

Mr EWING - There may be some later figures, but those I have quoted serve to show the serious disability under which British shipping labours in competing with foreign shipping. Although honorable members may differ upon questions of fiscal policy, labour legislation, and other matters more or less immaterial to the present discussion, every one of us has sufficient intelligence to know that the only hope of Australia's future is as part of the British Empire. Without the protection of Great Britain we should be swallowed by the yellow man in a gulp. It is pointed out in the report from which I have quoted that the P. and 0. subsidy of £330,000 a year works out at 5s, S'92d. a mile for the Indian, China, and Australian services, so that the Indian and China services must be subsidized at a much higher rate than the Australian service to bring out the average. It is also stated that the Japanese pay £53,000 a year to subsidize the vessels of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha engaged in the Australian trade. I mention these matters to show honorable members the complexity and difficulty of the situation, and the magnitude of the interests involved. Every one of us listens with care and attention to the speeches of the honorable member for Perth. His behaviour and demeanour, and the reasonable manner in which he approaches every question with which he deals, would make it almost an act of brutality to treat him other than generously. No one could charge him with intentionally doing anything wrong, or with being impelled by any sinister motive. As a Scotchman, I respect his mental powers. Otherwise, I might not. But his remarks last night show him to be suffering from hallucination. He has displayed what I might call a gap in his intellect, though I hope it is only temporary. He was brought up in an atmosphere of dogma, and his only hope of immortality lies in his acceptance of the doctrine of predestination. When his intellect began to unfold what was the dominating factor in its development? The shorter catechism. Notwithstanding the severity and wisdom of this intellectual upbringing, however, his mind now appears to be temporarily deranged. In his speech last night he dug into the tomes of the past, and quoted from the Rigveda and the writings of Zoroaster - to prove what? That the more wages men get the more work they have to do, and the more they perspire. Both he and the honorable member for Fremantle are controlled by their environment in their democracy and their sense of principle. They are affected by the interests of the country from which they come, and they have, therefore, endeavoured to cover up their abandonment of principle. The honorable member for Perth buried himself beneath a snow-storm of figures, and imagined that it would not be possible for us to discern his object. When Federation was being urged in New South Wales, the people of that State were told that the citizens of other States would look upon it as a sort of milch cow, and would 5 s each of them draw away what they could. We, who supported the Draft Bill, contended that the Constitution was based on absolute uniformity of treatment to all the States, and that fairness was the 'basis of the union. But in dealing with such a question as that of the common rule, we see the difficulty of even appreciating the variation of conditions in the different parts of Australia. One man may be baking in a torrid climate, while another may be shivering in a snow-storm. The honorable member for Perth swallowed the common rule provision, but now that there is some suggestion that the application of the principle would involve inconvenience to himself and his constituents, he ' objects to it.

Mr Fowler - We believe in the common rule, but not in applying it to people who should not be brought within its operation.

Mr EWING - Does the honorable member know what principle is? Principle, like a flag., should be nailed to the mast. It should not be played with as if it were a shuttlecock. Principle lives for ever ; it is eternal, and it cannot be lightly thrown aside.

Mr Hutchison - As when the honorable member crossed the floor of the-House, for instance.

Mr EWING - Honorable members crossed to this side of the Chamber because they believed that their principles were in danger. A strict adherence to principle engenders lofty ideals. For the sake of principle many of our ancestors went to the stake, and many a patriot to the scaffold. Principle induces statesmen to withdraw their support from a Government the moment that they conceive that a wrong is being done. Principle prompts honorable members under all circumstances - however much they may value their seats, and however great their regard for the prestige and emoluments attached to their positions in Parliament - to honestly place their views before their constituents. We do not expect honorable members opposite to exhibit want of principle. They are not troubled by considerations connected with the retention of their positions in Parliament, and the right to draw the salary. They have only one end in view, namely, the amelioration of the condition of the masses, and the greater happiness of the people. They move upon a higher political plane than do the free-trader or the protectionist, and, therefore, we expect from them a higher standard of political morality. We certainly look for a strict adherence to principle by the members of the Government, who desire to retain office only in order that they may place upon our statute-book measures which are in accord with their high ideals. They have exhibited a strong adherence to principle when they have had a majority behind them, but they have discarded it as of no importance when a majority has been wanting. We are entitled to expect those honorable members who believe in the application of the common rule to display some consistency in their attitude towards a provision of this kind. I maintain that the honorable member for Perth and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie have absolutely ignored the principle of the common rule. When the fiscal policy was under consideration, similar departures from principle were observed. We heard many honorable members vehemently and continuously urging the advantages of free-trade, but immediately the question of the salt duty came under consideration, the South Australian freetrade party was broken up. The honorable and learned member for Angas was the only representative of South Australia who stood firm. All the others bowed down and worshipped Lot's wife. Much the same thing happened when the banana duty was under consideration. Then we found some free-traders worshipping in the banana groves, whilst others were offering up sacrifices in the cane-fields. So it was with hops, and so with timber, and various other products. Honorable members imagined that they were actuated by principles, but the moment that the application of those principles appeared to involve inconvenience to themselves and their constituents they abandoned them. Now that the apple has been introduced, it has, as in the case of our first ancestors, brought about a fall. The democrat and the labour man, who profess to be actuated by a desire to lift up the masses, will not now vote in accordance with their professions. Why ? Because the Tasmanian apple is in the way. I would not attribute to the honorable member for Perth views such as those said to have been expressed by Senator Guthrie. I do not suppose that any honorable member in this Chamber would endeavour to mould our legislation in such a way as to confer special benefit upon a particular port, such as Adelaide. I ask honorable members to consider why we are here.

We are here to discuss a clause of the Bill - a clause which is presumed to be democratic, but which has been abandoned by professed democrats, because it did not exactly suit them to submit to a little inconvenience. They are willing enough to divide the property of other people, but they are not disposed to divide their own. They are willing to apply a " common rule " to the workers of Australia, but they refuse to apply such a rule to themselves when it will inconvenience them a little in reaching their own homes. This magnificent exhibition of democracy, of self-sacrifice, is a spectacle for the gods, though it is somewhat unwise so far as the reputation of honorable members is concerned. As honorable members are aware we are not here to consider only our own electorates, and ' any honorable member whose position in this Parliament is dominated solely by his responsibility to his own constituency has no right to be here. The right honorable member for S.wan has spoken of Geraldton and Broome and other places of which we have rarely heard, also of Thursday Island and of Launceston. We owe to the whole of these places as much responsibility as we do to our own electorates. The people of Australia look to us to act fairly to those resident in the outlying districts. What are their difficulties ? When they get out of their bunks in the morning they do not tread upon asphalt, but upon the soil of torrid Australia. We are bound to do a fair thing by these men, and to refuse to sacrifice them for town organizations: They do not live in a beautiful, salubrious climate. They are face to face with the tropical life of Australia, which is enervating in character, and destructive to man's health. To all pioneers - the pioneers in the timber, sugar, and butter industries, Ave owe a special responsibility. What do some honorable members desire to do? They wish to drive away from our coast the boats which cany the produce which makes Australia wealthy

Mr Watkins - We wish to give the seamen the same protection which the honorable member has extended to the farmer.

Mr EWING - The crews employed upon oversea vessels are not Australian seamen, and anything that Ave may do will not ameliorate their condition. Apparently some honorable members desire to banish these, ships from our shores. Surely we ought to remember that they do not come here for pastime. They come to take away the produce of our pastoral and agricultural industries. Those honorable members who support the proposals of the Government wish to drive away from the various outlying ports of our coast the only means of communication - facilities which make life there a little more tolerable than it otherwise would be. I have always been a protectionist, and until my second childhood shall remain one.

Mr Watson - To a certain extent.

Mr EWING - I am a protectionist when I can accomplish good.

Mr McDonald - When it .suits the honorable member.

Mr EWING - I have no principles except those which carry me in the direction of ameliorating the condition of the great masses of the people. After all, principles are of no value unless an end is kept in view. A principle is not a thing to frizzle in a frying pan. It must take practical form. I am not a protectionist who believes in isolation. I hold that every boat which enters the Fremantle harbor - that triumph of modern engineering - is a civilizer to Western Australia, and badly that State needs it. Every vessel which comes through the Melbourne Rip is a civilizer, and of benefit to the people of Melbourne. Upon their need for that civilizing influence, I will make no comment. Similarly, every boat which passes through the sandstone heads of Port Jackson, and enters the most beautiful harbor in the world, exercises a civilizing influence. We are not the only people in the universe. There are some others who reside outside of the Australian continent. These magnificent oversea vessels bring the world into closer touch with us, and thus confer a benefit upon all. If honorable members believe that it is a right thing to drive the whole of these vessels from our coast, they will have to achieve their purpose without my vote or assistance. To my mind, the essence of this matter lies in a principle, and a principle is an eternal truth. When honorable members are faced with the "alternative of abandoning a principle, or of submitting to a 'little inconvenience, they should adhere to the principle. That is the mortar which holds a party together. Honorable members opposite have not adhered to it. The idea has been expressed that Australia is a great country. Australia, it is true, has a great future, 5.s 2 if her people have wisdom, but she will have no future if we drive English and foreign vessels from our coast, and, practically, isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. If we do that, Australia will wake up - not, may be, in our time, but in that of our children - to face the greatest horror that has ever beset a white population. Let us realize once and for all that the white men of this continent are not sufficiently numerous to stand against the peril which confronts them. Consequently, we ought to cultivate the most friendly relations with all parts of the world. Under these circumstances I am prepared to welcome oceangoing vessels to our shores.

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