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Thursday, 18 August 1904

Mr KENNEDY (Moira) - In view of the charges which were recently made by honorable members opposite to the effect that they were " gagged " - -

Mr Watson - The gag is now removed.

Mr KENNEDY - Since the supporters of the late Government crossed to the Opposition side of the chamber they have ungagged themselves. When they sat behind the Watson Administration we heard no fiery invective from the honorable member foi' Gwydir.

Mr Webster - I was " gagged " last week, otherwise the honorable member would have heard me to some purpose.

Mr KENNEDY - The honorable member was not "gagged " by the Opposition.

Mr Watson - Did we not hear the honorable member for Gwydir upon this day week ?

Mr KENNEDY - We did, and as far as I am aware, he could have continued to address the House until the present time.

Mr Tudor - No; the debate 'upon the motion which he submitted was interrupted at half-past 4 o'clock.

Mr KENNEDY - That marked only one stage of the proceedings. It seems strange that this little rift in the lute is now being held up to scare the protectionists of Australia. An effort is being made to show that, as the result of the action of some honorable members in recording an important vote last week, the protective policy' of the Commonwealth is in jeopardy. That is the whole burden of the song of the honorable member for Gwydir. He accuses those protectionists whom the Prime Minister has taken into his Cabinet, of being Conservative protectionists.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.

Mr KENNEDY - Those who are acquainted with the political history of the gentlemen who now form part and parcel of the Reid-McLean Administration, know that they were the standard bearers of liberalism, progress, and protection throughout Victoria before the honorable member for Gwydir entered public life. The workers of this State - not the monopolistic manufacturers - have to thank the present Treasurer, and the Minister of Trade and Customs, for whatever industrial advantages they enjoy to-day "Mr. McDonald. - The honorable member should read the State Hansard reports of McLean on Turner and Turner on McLean.

Mr KENNEDY - It is true that they had their political differences in the State Parliament ; but it is well that the people of Australia should be reminded that the only vital point of difference between them was in respect of the method to be adopted to reform the Victorian Constitution. So far as I am aware, it was only in regard to that matter that any difference ever occurred between them as leaders of their respective parties. One believed that the proper method to a'dopt was to give Parliament an opportunity first of all to make an effort to bring the Constitution up to date; while the honorable member for Gippsland, who was then Premier of Victoria, held that the matter should be dealt with by a Convention, somewhat similar to that which framed the Federal Constitution. I think I am justified in putting these facts before the House, in view of the suggestion on the part of the Opposition that at one time there was considerable rivalry and jealousy between these honorable gentlemen. Both have fought for liberalism and progress, and for the industrial welfare of Victoria, yet the Opposition to-day hold them up to ridicule as representing the Conservative section of the political life of Victoria. '

Mr Tudor - The Conservative section are supporting the Government to-day.

Mr KENNEDY - Honorable members of the Opposition would have us believe that that is so.

Mr Tudor - The Argus is supporting them.

Mr Watson - All the Conservative forces are with them.

Mr KENNEDY - Be that as it may, I propose to place a few hard facts before this House.

Mr Fisher - The honorable member is protesting too much.

Mr KENNEDY - I am not protesting, but I wish to place a few facts before the people, who are the jury that will determine this question. Some reference has been made to the position of the Protectionist Party, and the side on which they ought to sit. But what had the Protectionist Party, to expect from the late Government? What assistance did they receive from honorable members of the Labour Party when the Tariff Bill was before the House? Was there a more bitter opponent of the Protectionist Tariff, as introduced, than was the ex-Minister of External Affairs? He was, if anything, a stronger opponent of the Tariff than was even the present Prime Minister. What attitude did the late Government take up when they were questioned on notice as to their intention with regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill? Did they say that they would deal with it as a matter of Government policy? No; they simply stated that after consideration they were prepared to allow a private member to take charge of the Bill, and to afford him an opportunity to submit it to the consideration of the House.

Mr Carpenter - Will the present Government take up that Bill? ,

Mr KENNEDY - They have not been asked.

Mr Carpenter - The honorable member should question them on the subject.

Mr KENNEDY - I shall make it my business to do so; because it relates to a matter to which I am pledged. Not only the free-trade members of the House, but the Labour Party as a party helped to kill the Bill as introduced by the Barton Government.

Mr Carpenter - It was. not made a party question.

Mr KENNEDY - It is absolutely true that the Labour Party, with the late Prime Minister at their head, and with the assistance of the free-trade section of the House, killed the Bill. What had protectionists, who desire to secure bonuses for agricultural and manufacturing purposes, to expect from the late Government?

Mr Tudor - The' honorable member should say something with regard to the Victorian butter bonus.

Mr KENNEDY - Let that matter stand by itself.

Mr Tudor - It is quite strong enough to do so.

Mr KENNEDY - That is so. I have nothing to say in support of the degree of commercial morality-

Mr Maloney - Immorality.

M..r. KENNEDY.- I have nothing to say in support of the standard of morality which, according to the evidence given before the Butter Commission, obtains in our commercial community. But what has that matter to do with the present political situation ?

Mr Tudor - Those who are being exposed by the Commission are not members of the Labour Party.

Mr KENNEDY - Labour members are not always angels of sweetness and light; they have attained the average-

Mr Tudor - It is a " Kyabramite " who is now being exposed.

Mr KENNEDY - That may, or may not be so. Honorable members opposite may choose to charge me with " Kyabramism," but they seem to forget that at the last election I had the pleasure of fighting the Chairman of the Reform League.

Mr Watson - We merely say that the honorable member is in bad company.

Mr KENNEDY - With such an opponent I may have been in bad company, but circumstances have forced me into the company in which I now find myself. Much stress has been laid on the allegation that the protectionists are to-day in bad company, but what had we to hope from the late Government?

Mr Frazer - The honorable member admits that there are more protectionists on this side than on the Government side of the House.

Mr KENNEDY - That merely goes to show that there are more protectionists gone wrong. What has the industrial life of Victoria ever been able to obtain from the Labour Party, so far as the protectionist policy is concerned? The party prides itself on being a body of fiscal athiests.

An Honorable Member. - Not the majority of them.

Mr KENNEDY - Why is it that they gave no adhesion to fiscal principles when the Tariff Bill was before Parliament?

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - What did the freetrade party do for the industrial life of Australia ?

Mr KENNEDY - What is the honorable member for Bourke squealing about? He has probably been forced into his proper position - a position which he should have occupied before. I wish him luck.

Sir William Lyne - He is sitting where the honorable member should be.

Mr KENNEDY - That is a matter for the people of Moira to determine. The honorable member is not the guardian 'of my conscience or of my political principles. What hope had he of passing the Manufactures Encouragement Bill while the late Government was in office?

Sir William Lyne - Every hope.

Mr KENNEDY - What was the reply which the honorable member received when he inquired what course the Government intended to take in regard to that Bill? He was simply informed that the Government would afford him an opportunity to bring in the Bill before the House. Will he ask the present Government to accord him the same privilege?

Sir William Lyne - I would not ask for any privilege from them. So far as I am concerned, it will be a stand-up fight against them.

Mr KENNEDY - It is immaterial to me on which side of the House I sit ; I am not stripped of my political principles from my support of any party.

Mr Frazer - That reduces the Government majority to one.

Mr KENNEDY - It does not so far as the Government programme is concerned-

Mr Frazer - The programme of the Reid-McLean Administration has not yet been published.

Mr Watson - It is bound to be a " crawling one."

Mr KENNEDY - A programme was formulated by the party now in office, and we were told by the late Government that it in no way differed from their own.

Mr Tudor - That being so, why were the late Government displaced?

Mr KENNEDY -- That is a question which the honorable member will have to decide for himself. The late Government selected their own battle-ground, and said that if a certain vote were given they would have to leave the Treasury benches. That vote was given, and their lamentations are now being poured forth.

Mr Watson - Where? All we say is that we had no chance to fairly deal with the position.

Mr KENNEDY - I venture to say that the Opposition will have ample opportunity to reflect.

Mr Watson - I am afraid it will not be very long before we shall have to get to work again.

Mr KENNEDY - Honorable members may yet see the error of their ways. I am really delighted that the enthusiastic supporters of the Government recently dispossessed have found their voices so readily. For the last three months I have been in some doubt whether they ha'd not pledged themselves to complete silence. Now that they have found their voices again, it is pleasing to reflect that whenever any question comes before us, we shall have their opinions freely expressed. I think that will be found best for all parties. I desire to emphasize the point that these hon- 01 able gentlemen, and more particularly the members of the new organization which has been brought into existence by the circumstances by which we have been confronted during the last few days - the members of the Liberal Protectionist Association, which is going to be the be-all and end-all of industrial life in Australia - those honorable members appear to forget that so far as protection, as represented on the statute-book, is concerned, the electors of Australia, at the last general election, decided what the policy of this Parliament should be. They decided that the Tariff should not be interfered with, except in connexion with questions incidental to preferential trade. Now what are honorable members talking about? They are claiming now that the re-opening of the Tariff was the practical business for which protectionists were sent into this Parliament. How utterly absurd that is, and especially coming from such honorable members as the honorable member for Bourke, and the secretary of the Protectionist Association.

Mr Spence - Surely it is the business of protectionists to see that protection does not disappear?

Mr KENNEDY - Is there any danger to protection, so far as it is represented by the Tariff, whilst the honorable member for Gippsland is administering the Customs Department ?

Mr Spence - Yes; there is.

Mr KENNEDY - I have as much confidence in that honorable gentleman's administration of the Tariff as I have admiration and respect for its administration by the late Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Wide Bay, by whom the letter, and spirit of the Customs Act was faithfully adhered to.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Does the honorable member not think that there is some danger when the protectionist party is split into two ?

Mr KENNEDY - Before honorable members who complain that the protectionist party is split into two accuse members of another party, thev should take a little retrospective view of the situation, and ask themselves who is to blame for the split? They should not accuse the other fellow of all the sins in the Decalogue.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Surely those protectionists who are now supporting the freetraders are to blame for the split?

Mr KENNEDY - Might I ask what is the fiscal creed of the party whom the honorable member is now supporting? They represent no fiscal creed.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - The majority of the party are protectionists, whilst the majority of the party which the honorable member is supporting are free-traders.

Mr KENNEDY - How is the majority of the party to be ascertained ? Has the honorable member for Bourke any proof that the majority of the party, in the tail of which he is the smallest joint, have any fiscal creed of their own ?

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Has the honorable member any proof that the free-traders will help him?

Mr KENNEDY - It is not expected that they will help us.

Mr Reid - They are not traitors.

Sir William Lyne - That is just whatthey are - a whole set of traitors - and the right honorable, gentleman is the arch-traitor of the lot.

Mr KENNEDY - I have this comforting reflection, that as soon as there is any deviation from the programme laid down, or the policy I am here to support, the honorable gentlemen who constitute the present Cabinet know that they cannot hope for any allegiance of mine. My political principles will not be wrecked for the support of any party. With that confidence' between us, it does not lie in the mouth of any honorable member, and especially of the honorable member for Gwydir, whose movements have taken him round the political compass, to reproach me. I appreciate the sympathy which honorable members opposite have extended to honorable members on this side, but I may be permitted to say that, so far as I am concerned^ I am not in the least degree uncomfortable.

Mr Carpenter - The honorable member ought to be.

Mr KENNEDY - It is not what I ought to be, but what I actually am. ' When I am looking for a leader for my fiscal .creed, it is absolutely useless for me to look to a party who, while proclaiming themselves the party of the industrial workers of Austra-Iia, are without any fiscal creed whatever.

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